“Nothing is too wonderful to be true if it is consistent with the laws of nature!” – Michael Faraday
ECOLOGY, simply explained, is the science of how everything on Earth – people, plants, animals, fungi, microbes, rocks, soil, water and air – is connected. All over the world, there are people who protect animals, or plants, or air, or water…so that these connections don’t brake. As part of a larger whole, our ethical concerns should be with the healthy functioning of the entire ecosystem, rather than simply the advancement of human health and happiness.
Be one of such people, by following a day to day common-sense ECO code, to live in harmony with the nature and preserve the planet for generations to come and for the other species! The below guidelines may not seem much in terms of global impact coming from each separate individual, but you should think in terms of billion multiplier, meaning if all people will behave in same way, than what the impact may be for the planet! Think globally, act locally!
“Trying to build a peaceful and humane world means finding a way to live peaceably with nature, not just mining it for our own convenience. Environmentalism, taken in its best light, is a reminder that our dominant versions of democracy, reason, and progress are still superficial, especially because they rely on ignoring or recklessly exploiting nature, and that, for these values to be sustainable, we must give them a sustainable relation to the larger living world” – Jedediah Purdy, Author of After Nature
As per WWF ( World Wildlife Fund), the Ecological Footprint is an indicator of human pressure on nature. Humanity is currently using the renewable resources of 1.5 Earths to meet our yearly demands for energy, food, shelter, and the things we do and buy.People living in richer, more developed countries generally have a higher Footprint than those living in less developed countries. Some WWF offices have developed specific footprint tools for individual countries. These local Footprint calculators are currently available for some countries here or below:
Don’t forget, change starts with each individual, don’t expect government will do that part for us!
- Consume less of everything (clothes you don’t really need, paper-towels, water, food – especially meat ,electricity, 2nd car for the family…etc)
- Recycle (all possible: plastic, metal, glass, organic matter, batteries…etc) If you have to, favor aluminium, glass and paper one-use recipients/covers instead of plastic, as they can be recycled more times, not as plastic (which is cheaper to produce new than to use recycled, for a company)
- Reduce amount of plastic in use, by avoiding plastic bags every time you shop, or new plastic cups each time you have a coffee in office (most plastic ends in the ocean, where affects marine wildlife and ultimately impacts people through the food supply chain). Here is a list of 9 tips to help you live your life with less plastic, applying the RRR strategy: REFUSE, REUSE, REDUCE
- Visit Wildlife National Parks, especially in your area, respecting the park rules and the wildlife within. Apart from education and fun part that is guaranteed, the entrance fee or the money you spend on related services in the area, will provide the needed incentive for local people communities, the local authorities and governments to protect the area. Very important, take kids in these educational trips, preferable to Sunday trip to the local ZOO
- Make even small donations to non-profit organizations specialized in wildlife protection, planet protection and other related. Sign their petitions for a right cause!
- Never buy things made from wild animal parts (creams, ornaments objects, fur, clothes…), as you will create/support the demand and more wild animals will be sacrificed. This especially important in case of endangered species!
- Refer to WWF online guide for seafood, to know which fish stocks are over-exploited and avoid further consumption! A guide for several countries is found here
- Use technology (kindle for book reading, smart phone instead of tickets printing, low energy usage devices e.g. fridge, light bulbs, …
- Use public transport or push-bike everywhere possible, instead of personal vehicle. If you need to pick a Taxi ever, insist on an electric vehicle. If pedestrian and preparing to cross the street, don’t just jump in front of cars on the marked area, instead let them pass or you hurry up passing, as it is when stopping and starting that vehicles produce most of air pollution
- Driving aggressively, speeding up and braking suddenly wears out your car, wastes fuel and just puts you in a bad mood without saving you much time. Instead anticipate next move in the traffic environment and even learn to use gravity and inertia in your favor.
- If you need to drive on regular basis and distance is shorter than 300 Km, consider buying an electric car, which has no emissions and if the power grid has wind or sun as energy source, it is basically almost fully integrated in environment (excluding energy infrastructure and environmental cost of producing the car in the first place, or brakes and tires pollution). If worried about initial higher cost of the car, think longer term, with money saved on fuel amortizing easily the extra eco-premium paid upfront, during the life-time of the electric vehicle. Color of the car is also important, in hot climate is good to have a white colored car, to reject the heat and radiations of the sun, saving money by using less AC to cool the car.
- When buying clothes, read the label, favor the brands validated by the BCI (Better Cotton Initiative), it is better for small organic farms, for wildlife, for planet, for you (less pesticides, less damage to soil, etc)
– the BCI logo
- Be a role model in your family, influence rest of family to follow the good practices. Try same with close friends every time you have the chance! Make sure your efforts in this regard are visible, power of example is a very effective tool, it is contagious even to complete strangers! Any extra heart won is a plus for the planet!
- Buy paper products from recycled paper where possible, or the ones bearing the WWF logo or FSC (Forest Stewardship Council), which validates sustainable management of the forest which was the source of the product in question, it means the company is more careful handling the resources to create the product, and their efforts are validated and audited by one of the biggest organizations that care about wildlife and their natural environment
- Favor Eco-friendly companies and their product versus the others, forcing the latter to comply in time, once revenue/profit trend will signal the consumer preference. Read the label, most types of foods use palm-oil as ingredient, the major cause for distress and extinction treat for orangutans in Indonesia as well as other tropic species, same in Malaysia as well (the 2 countries making 85% of palm oil global supply, from destruction of forests and plating of palm mono-cultures).
– the RSPO logo
- Buy sunscreen that is healthy for both you and for marine life, some examples here
- Buy more locally made products, to minimize the pollution impact of long distance logistics/transportation
- Buy seasonal fruits/vegetables, locally grown, in favor of exotic distant region fruits/vegetables. Whenever possible, deal directly with a local farmer or gardener.
- Participate in food production to the extent that you can. If you have a yard or even just a porch box or a pot in a sunny window, grow something to eat in it. Make a little compost of your kitchen scraps and use it for fertilizer.
- Buy as much as possible organic food, stricter regulated and made with respect to environment in most cases, and almost always it is made without synthetic chemicals and fertilizers that impact the environment, especially insects, among them our main plant pollinators, the bees (Learn more, click here)! Follow the organic label on each product, it is different from country to country, below are some example from Europe (European Union, United States, Canada, Germany):
Here is a primer of labels:
- More meaningful labels: Organic (above labels), free run and free-range (as animals, like humans, will grow healthier in natural environments rather than confined to small cages, with access to sun light rather than rat-infested enclosures)
- Somewhat meaningful labels: raised without antibiotics, raised without hormones (when on milk and beef), and vegetarian-fed (you will be surprised as body parts of animals from factory farms that cannot be sold will be fed back to other or same factory farm animals, for cost reducing purposes)
- Meaningless labels: fresh natural, naturally raised, and grain-fed. Also ignore all food packaging marketing photos: green environment, man and nature side by side, trees all around, green mountains, fresh water springs, kids and farm animals side by side, healthy smiles with impeccable white teeth of caring mothers or promotional claims as family farmers, they have nothing in common with the reality! (Remember the purpose of any private company is profit, which can be increased through higher sales, which can be boosted through marketing/labeling, or lower costs, meaning miserable life given to factory farm animals)
NOTE: More and more stores are selling organic food, and some products have a competitive price. The smaller specialized stores are more expensive, but search organic products also in large super markets, for example Carrefour in many European countries is selling organic products (search the store lot naming). You may think you will spend more money, but can you price your health? On longer term your health will improve, avoiding later buying medication you need to fix yourself, most often without success! See recent cases on TV (poisoness eggs due to fertilizers eaten by caged hens or Salmonella infected milk-powder), this is example of immediate health impact, but as important info, you should know that your health on longer term depends 20% on genetics, 40% of environment (stress, air quality etc) and 40% on your diet. And even shorter-term, Finance wise, if you control quantity of food you eat, you will notice that you will spend same budget for food as a regular person which may buy lower prices non-organic food in higher volume, which the body stores under form of fat (including bad cholesterol)! These days you can find almost any Eco or organic product you want, from food to liquids for dish washing, to recycled paper-towels, tooth-paste or any type of food, including sweets! Take care of yourself and of our planet! Don’t wait to lose something (your health, happiness and a great planet full of bio-diversity), to realize how important it was! It may be too late!
And when it comes to food, remember also the advise from Sonia Faruqi (Author of Project Animal Farm):
“With every visit to a cash counter, we, consumers, cast votes for certain values over others. In democracies, politicians are beholden to their voters; in free-market economies, companies are beholden to their customers. It’s we who have immeasurable power, if only we chose to wield it. We must have opinions and we must express them load an clear”
And the ultimate guide for all of us, issued recently (2018) by WWF (printed on recycled paper, of course), where each of you can learn how to be a hero, from a small, easy number of everyday actions, which “if taken by enough people, can move mountains – and save planets“, highly recommended reading, not to mention that proceeds from sale of the book are helping directly the biggest and most involved organization in the world in saving the wildlife!