Much has been said in recent times about building a green global environment, but how much of the needed has been done? In February 2019, The CANs; West-Africa’s first Eco-friendly technology hub was established. Created using recycled shipping containers, this anti-plastic and environmentally friendly establishment made a point to act by reusing and recycling to drive environmental sustainability.
Being green or Eco-friendly simply refers to not being harmful to the environment, yet it is more than just planting trees or reducing carbon emissions. It is a cause, a global objective to conserve the natural environment and its resources to avoid depletion or degradation.
In the words of Timothy Morton; “One’s garbage doesn’t go ‘away’ – it just goes somewhere else”. Every year, 8 million metric tons of plastics tons of plastic is offloaded into the oceans on top of the estimated 150 million metric tons that currently circulate our marine environments, killing marine life and polluting water (oceanconservacy.org).
Since plastic never actually biodegrades, it breaks into micro particles which pollutes the air we breathe and the water we drink. Thus, humans and animals inhale and ingest poisonous plastic. In the year 2019, the demand for an Eco-friendly environment became louder and the message clearer. From the burning of rain-forests to the coagulation of rubbish to create mass islands in the seas and deforestation, the everyday products we use are potentially harmful to the earth. Thus, making environmentally friendly choices has become a necessity and no longer a luxury.
Due to global warming, climate change is occurring. Global warming is caused by the greenhouse effect, which is a natural process by which the atmosphere retains some of the sun’s heat, allowing the Earth to maintain the necessary conditions to host life. Without the greenhouse effect, Earth’s average temperature would be minus 18 degrees Celsius (acciona.com).
Question: Since the greenhouse effect is a natural and essential phenomenon, how then is it causing adverse outcomes?
Our planet has warmed up and cooled down naturally over the years and various eras. This cycle of alterations in temperature level occurs at the slow rate of millions of years and brings about natural selection and extinction. However, within the space of the last 200 years we are approaching levels at which extinctions occur. This problem is caused by daily human activities such as gaseous emissions which maximize the greenhouse effect, causing Earth’s temperature to increase even more.
According to the United Nations; with rising greenhouse gas emissions, climate change is occurring at rates much faster than anticipated and its effects are clearly felt worldwide. While there are positive steps in terms of the climate finance flows and the development of nationally determined contributions, far more ambitious plans and accelerated action are needed on mitigation and adaptation.
Global warming is causing long-lasting changes to our climate system, which threatens irreversible consequences if we do not act. According to the National Population Commission (NPC), Nigeria’s population will double in the next twenty years. This will ultimately increase the use of plastic and the carrying out of other climate harmful actions unless actions are taken now.
Population increase is one of the factors amplifying the effects of climate change within such a short time. Nigeria alone produces at least 32 million metric waste per year and 2.5 million of this is plastic.
What needs to be done;
1. The golden rule of going green is Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.
Avoid buying those products with excessive packaging because the needless waste will pollute the environment. Reduce by buying or making products with minimal packaging; Reuse by not disposing of materials which can still serve a purpose and Recycle by turning waste into something useful.
2. Use the ‘Off’ switch
Saving electricity is very crucial to reduce greenhouse effect and global warming. You can help by simply switching off lights when leaving a room, turning off electrical appliances when not in use, and turning off the water when not using it for actual rinsing.
3. Plant Trees
A Chinese adage says “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the second best time is now”. Trees are essential for life. They serve as windbreakers and produce oxygen. A single tree will absorb approximately one ton of carbon dioxide during its lifetime.
4. Buy energy-efficient products
When buying appliances for your home, make sure to go for models that consume less power and produce less emission. An example is to use compact fluorescent bulbs which look more like natural light instead of standard light bulbs.
5. Drive smart and drive less
Keep your car in good condition to reduce the gaseous emission and drive less to save gas
6. Use less plastic till you’re plastic-free
Living a plastic-free life is actually less stressful than it sounds. Start by having your own water bottle for drinks instead of buying packed water,carry reusable shopping bags to having your stainless take-away bowls when you go to get food.