Minding The Earth
Small Steps = Big Impact

By Emma Robertson Chia •  Sep 2019
Mother Earth

We live in a world in which many of us are lucky enough to have almost everything we could want.

However, while we might not like to think about it, our consumption habits, waste and energy-use all have an impact on the planet.

We are using up finite resources at such a rate that if we are not careful, there might be none left for us in our old age and for our children and grandchildren.

Our individual lifestyles don’t have much of an impact. Collectively, however, the way we live is contributing to the looming environmental crisis.

Becoming More Conscious, Mindful Consumers

So what do we do?

Perhaps less than you might fear.

No one has to give up the good life but we can make an effort to preserve the environment by becoming more conscious, mindful consumers.

This means being informed enough to know the consequences of our decisions and consumer choices.

This means caring enough to make the necessary changes.

“This means caring enough
to make the necessary changes.”

Two Simple Steps

I am going to suggest two simple things that we could do for a healthier, cleaner, more sustainable future:

To reduce waste and stop discarding it without thinking where it goes.
To reduce our consumption of meat.

Reducing Waste

As society becomes more affluent, we are used to consuming more and more, with little consideration to what happens when we throw those things ‘away’.

We need to start thinking about what went into their production and what impact that had on the environment.

Then we can ask ourselves the following questions:

  • Could I have refused that?
  • Could I have reduced the amount I bought?
  • Could I have re-used or re-purposed it?
  • And, finally, could I have recycled it?

Plastics, food, textiles and electronics make up the bulk of our waste as individuals. Let’s see what simple steps we can take to reduce each of them.

Plastic Waste

Out of nine billion tons of plastic, only 9% has ever been recycled. The majority ends up in our rivers and oceans.

The bulk of applications is for single-use products – for example, bottles, bags, diapers, cups and food packaging.

Yet, alarmingly, plastic production is projected to double by 2030.

Simple Things We Can Do

  • Choose to refuse that plastic straw, plastic bag or plastic water bottle by bringing our own reusable ones
  • Bring along tingkats or food containers when buying takeaway food
  • Buy from the new plastic-free bulk stores

Textile Waste

The fashion industry is the second largest polluter in the world.

Of all man-made debris on our shores, 85% is micro-fibres. Every time we wash synthetic clothes, these fibres from our synthetic clothes are flushed into the oceans.

Fish eat them. And then we eat the fish.

70 million barrels of oil and 70 million trees are used each year by the clothing industry. Yet only 15% of clothes are recycled or donated.

Simple Things We Can Do

  • Buy fewer but better quality clothes that will last longer
  • Buy clothes made from natural materials
  • Sell, swap and donate clothes or send for recycling rather than throw away

Electronic Waste

We send around 50 million tons of electronic waste to landfills every year, making up 70% of all hazardous waste there.

This is not the only ecological impact. Materials from natural resources needed to produce them such as gold, silver, copper and palladium are mined.

Simple Things We Can Do

  • Choose to use our mobile phones and other electronic gadgets for longer
  • Repair, sell or send them for responsible recycling

Food Waste

Almost a third of all food produced globally – approximately $750 billion worth – is wasted. Food waste decomposes, releasing greenhouse gases.

The ecological impact includes vast expanses of natural land and rainforests that have been cleared to produce the food in the first place.

Simple Things We Can Do

  • Be more mindful about food and waste as little as possible.
  • Pay attention only to ‘use-by’ dates, not ‘sell-by’
  • Embrace the idea of keeping leftovers, either in the fridge for a few days or in the freezer for months
  • Consider composting…..you don’t have to have a garden to do it
HappyHappy Earth

Reducing Meat Consumption

The fishing, meat and dairy industries are among the most destructive on the planet.

90% of large predatory fish are already gone, with 80% of the world’s fisheries being over-exploited or facing collapse.

According to Greenpeace, we could feed the world with an estimated 40 million tons of food a year, yet 760 million tons go to feed animals on farms each year.

Environmental groups and some governments are calling for us to move towards a plant-based diet. This is why Impossible and Beyond Meat are entering our restaurants and supermarkets. As consumers we can look forward to a greater variety of plant-based alternatives that mimic the taste and texture of real meat as more companies cater to the growing demand.

Simple Things We Can Do

  • The internet is awash with vegetarian recipes to start us on our journey to consume less meat.
  • Let’s make a start by joining the successful “Meat-free Mondays” movement and see where it leads…!

Small steps. Big impact.

As you can see, it’s basically just about being more mindful and more informed about our choices.

Small individual steps, multiplied by all of us, will make a significant difference.

We can preserve our planet and our way of life, and even become more healthy and happy in the process. The choice is ours.

About the Writer
Emma Robertson Chia

Emma Robertson Chia is British, married to a Singaporean, with three girls in the local school system. She is a passionate campaigner for the environment with an eco-friendly party business called Hopping Hares Parties. She is vegan and on her own personal journey to break free from plastic and reduce her family’s waste.
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