Reducing, Reusing, Recycling and Climate Change: What Can We Do?
The evidence is overwhelming. Earth is getting warmer and we’re already seeing the consequences. The health of our planet and its ecosystems are intrinsically linked with the state of the climate and humans are certainly responsible for the dramatic change in temperatures and weather patterns.
This may all seem a bit inevitable and terrifying, but we already have solutions in place to halt climate change. By changing our individual habits and working together to protect our planet, we can put a stop to the damaging effects and even reverse them. In this article, we will discuss how waste disposal affects global warming and how reducing, reusing/repurposing, and recycling are some of the most important weapons in the fight against climate change.
What is Climate Change?
The climate is used to describe the usual weather of a place, including the temperature, precipitation, wind, etc. This can change throughout the year and depending on where in the world you are. The planet also has a climate, which refers to the usual combination of climates around the world.
Climate change relates to a notable variation in the usual climate. For example, when Earth’s average temperature rises or the rainfall increases in a certain area. While Earth experiences fluctuations in climate naturally, scientists have proven that humans are causing an unprecedented change known as global warming. This can be attributed to human activities, such as burning fossil fuels, loss of natural resources and habitats, and incorrect waste disposal.
How is Waste Contributing to Climate Change?
When organic waste decomposes, it releases methane and carbon dioxide (greenhouse gases) that contribute to global warming due to their ability to absorb the sun’s energy and subsequently warm Earth. The burning of inorganic waste also produces these gases, but its main contribution to climate change occurs during the mass manufacture of the products that make up this type of waste.
During the manufacturing process, products are made using natural resources such as timber, water, fuel (crude oil and gas), and metal, which emit plenty of greenhouse gases, as well as other pollutants. The world’s economy is currently based on a growing consumption model, where our products are mass-produced to meet our ever-increasing wants and needs. Therefore, the rate at which humans replace goods and subsequently produce waste is a big contributing factor towards climate change.
What is a Circular Economy?
According to Green Industries: “Circular economy is where economic growth is decoupled from consumption of finite resources”
In other words, it’s a system that eliminates waste by creating a continual cycle of resources. We can implement a circular economy by reducing our consumption, reusing or repurposing our goods, and recycling anything that is left over.
Reduce & Reuse/Repurpose: Reducing Waste
While recycling is considerably better than landfill, the best way to decrease our carbon footprint is to reduce consumption in the first place. Questioning our reasons behind buying a new product can help us to make the decision as to whether or not we actually need it. This can be applied to everything we buy, from fashion to phone accessories, technology, and even that delicious chocolate bar covered in plastic packaging.
Check out Eco-Friendly Clothing: A Buyer’s Guide for tips on how to buy more sustainable fashion
Once a product has been bought, we can prolong its life by maintaining and repairing it when necessary and reusing/repurposing it when it’s no longer useful. Finding alternative purposes for an item will help to preserve it and is often a fantastic way to get creative. Not only will this reduce waste and lower our impact on climate change, but it will also help us develop a whole new mindset that encourages us to care for and value what we already have.
Once products have reached the end of their lives and can not be preserved any longer, then it’s time for us to dispose of them as sustainably as possible. Recycling effectively eliminates the need for raw material extraction in order to make new products. For example, if just one ton of paper is recycled, it saves 19 trees from being cut down. In turn, this leads to better water retention in the ground, which supports carbon dioxide storage and has a positive impact on climate change.
What’s more, recycling significantly reduces energy consumption. In fact, Aquafil (the company that makes the recycled nylon we use in our sustainable bikinis) saves 70,000 barrels of crude oil for every 10,000 tonnes of ECONYL raw material regenerated. This has avoided 57,100 tonnes of CO2 equivalent emissions!
Recycling to Reverse Climate Change
There you have it: by reducing, reusing/repurposing, and recycling everything correctly, we can conserve natural resources, protect wildlife and the environment, save energy, cut our carbon emissions, and help to reverse climate change!
Be part of the solution, join the Beach Bum Tribe today!