Published 24 April 2022 ● Last Updated on 24 April 2022
The Earth is the only planet we know of that supports life. But with the evolution of humankind (who has not been so kind to the Earth), it’s survival has become a bit of a question mark. Our footprint is all over the planet, along with debris and pollution.
The first mass call for action to combat destructive human activities came about 50 years ago – in spring of 1970. Senator Gaylord Nelson from Wisconsin, USA, mobilized 20 million Americans to call for increased protections for our planet – for tighter norms to arrest smoke pollution from factories and exhaust from vehicles.
It was not until 1990 though that this movement, that had come to be known as Earth Day, went global. The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 22 April as International Mother Earth Day in 2019. The Day recognises the Earth and its ecosystems as humanity’s common home and the need to protect it to enhance people’s livelihoods, counteract climate change, and stop the collapse of biodiversity.
Human expansion is remapping the Earth. The need of the hour is a complete overhaul of the way we treat the planet, a push to halt and reverse the decline of the natural world. Harm to our planet is caused not only a by large scale development but also with small everyday acts – from washing clothes to the food we eat. Let’s look at a few lifestyle changes we can make to ensure there is a larger impact on reviving our world.
10 everyday hacks to heal the Earth
1. Go vegetarian for a day in the week
Livestock is the world’s largest user of land resources – one-third of global arable land is used to grow feed, while 26% of the Earth’s ice-free terrestrial surface is used for grazing. All told, it accounts for more than 50% of food-related emissions whilst producing less than 20% of the world’s calories. You can make a big difference to eco restoration by avoiding meat just one time a week.
2. Shun disposables
Avoid single-use items. Anything that is meant to be used just once and thrown is a huge waste of resources. And frankly, that is a category that is vastly larger that plastic bags and straws – it includes paper packaging, cardboard boxes and glassware too , because if used merely once, they have a massive carbon footprint. Wondering where to start slashing the weight of waste we inadvertently create? Start with 6 disposables you can leave easily today. Better yet, arm yourselves with a zero waste toolkit, so you can avoid waste-on-the-go.
3. Choose a simpler lifestyle
While other living beings conserve and then consume, we are the only species that consumes and then thinks about conservation. Buy less, whether it is clothes or household items. Think second-hand, repairing, repurposing, borrowing or reusing. This automatically results in lesser demand for resources from nature and helps restore the balance in the ecosystem.
4. Conserve water
Water water everywhere but not a drop to drink! This may be our Earth by the end of the century. Sea levels are rising while potable ground water is depleting. Even today, though the world is surrounded by water, only 3% of this is potable, so we need to conserve every drop. Use a bucket instead of the shower, shave and brush with a mug of water, carry your own water when you go out, don’t waste drinking water that is served to you, use the dishwasher and washing machine only for full loads, ensure you arrest all leaks however small, wash vegetable in a tub rather than flowing water, don’t use the hose to clean your driveways broom it instead – there are so many ways we can do better.
5. Conserve forests
While tree planting is beneficial, it is way more impactful to conserve the forests that we still have (we have only about 31% of forests left). Established forests are grounds of biodiversity – home for many animals and plants; they are also extremely efficient carbon sequesters. Conserving them is the most direct way of conserving the ecosystem and making a difference to the Earth.
6. Eat green
Support local, pesticide-free, seasonal produce. There is a reason why certain vegetables and fruits grow in certain seasons. Take for example the quintessential watermelon; when I was a child, this was a fruit available only in summer because of it water content; now it is a supermarket staple. Non-seasonal produce requires either imports (incurring foodmiles), or the use of pesticides and fertilisers (that degrade the soil and impact the natural environment by killing insects and bees and polluting waterways).
7. Save electricity
Becoming energy efficient at home saves money and helps cut down emissions by reducing the demand for polluting fossil fuel. All those appliances and lightbulbs may seem relatively insignificant, but they all add up. Switch off after use, use larger appliances together to reduce energy use, cold baths are refreshing, don’t turn the dryer on – sundry, use cold water to wash your clothes, use your thermostat on the AC effectively.
8. Don’t waste food
One third of all food produced in the world is either lost or wasted – this is around 1.3 billion tonnes of food, costing the global economy close to $940 billion each year. Wasting food is worse than total emissions from flying (1.9%), plastic production (3.8%) and oil extraction (3.8%). So think before you order extra or throw that vegetable into the dustbin because it’s not your favorite. In spite of producing enough food for everyone in the world still one in 9 people do not get one square meal per day.
Though this is a term we are familiar with, it is still a very underutilized conservation method. Take for instance a small country like Singapore, the recycling rates here are dismal at just 13%. At this rate, the country’s only landfill will run out of space by 2035. Recycling can help us conserve natural resources.
There are plenty of environmental and social causes out there that could use a few more hands. Volunteer if you can make time for projects. Our curated calendar can help you keep track of a range of eco events happening in Singapore – so go ahead and commit to action! We spoke to some Singapore residents who volunteer as a family, and they all conveyed a resounding sense of fulfillment that came from the experience.
Having a healthy relationship with the environment is one of the most important and overlooked factors of living a wholesome lifestyle. Humans are dependent on their surroundings for every need, and this is reason enough to ensure we have a healthy bond with our environment. For this to happen each one of us must choose a sustainable way of life. Healing the planet is not the responsibility of a few people or organisations, it is your responsibility and mine too.