by Carmen Visser
Planet Earth – status update
Earth is dying and we have the power to save it. Ironically, as humans, we are also to blame for the current state the planet is in. From the toxic greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere, to the annihilation of vegetation around the globe, human activity is the main cause of earth’s destruction.
Activities such as mass manufacturing, land clearing and driving damage the environment. The ice is melting, sea levels are rising and there is an increase in the average global temperature. Furthermore, pollution is another leading factor that destroys the planet.
According to the World Bank, the world generated 242 tonnes of plastic in 2016. Most of this plastic ends up ruining the habitats where hundreds of species live. This sounds like an inevitable environmental catastrophe and while there are some disasters that we cannot reverse, saving the planet is easier than you think.
Everyone changing one aspect of their lifestyle is more impactful than one person changing every aspect of their lifestyle.
Why you need to consider altering your daily routine
As a UCKAR student or any member of the youth, the destruction of planet Earth affects your future. Caring about the planet and working to save it is simply just a way to guarantee that you will have a future here on Earth.
As a younger generation, we like to think that we are open-minded and flexible. Let’s show this flexibility by saving the Earth. Simple projects make the biggest difference. For example, Dolphin Project ran a Global Beach Clean-up Project in 2019 which resulted in 22 beach destinations being restored.
Although this project required intense planning and a large number of people, it is a fairly simple solution.
Below are some tips on how you can avoid harming the environment around you:
Reduce your plastic consumption
Plastic is found everywhere. On the ground of a university campus, floating on the surface of the ocean and even stuck in the throat of a dead turtle. Recycling companies and garbage disposal sites cannot cope with the overwhelming mountain of plastic in today’s world.
According to the Telegraph, plastic can take up to 450 years to biodegrade. By reducing the amount of plastic you use, you are making sure that less plastic needs to be produced.
Ultimately, this means that less plastic clutters the environment and harms the species we share the Earth with. This is one of the easiest transitions to make in your daily life.
Plastic bags from shops can be replaced with reusable bags made from cotton and other materials. ‘Refinery’ in Pepper Grove Mall sells the perfect sized shopping bag for only R3-00. Not only do these bags help the environment but they also carry more items than a regular shopping bag and do not tear.
The current water situation in Makhanda should have us rethinking the plastic bottles we use. Places such as Pick ‘n Pay and Oasis will refill your plastic bottles for a lower rate instead of forcing you to buy new ones each time. You can help the earth and save money while doing it.
Another item to replace in your routine is the plastic takeaway coffee cup you drink out of. Shops such as Clicks (and even Makhanda’s own Milk & Honey) sell cups made from other raw materials such as bamboo.
These environmentally friendly cups also have unique patterns so you can express your personal style and identity. Flaunt your cappuccino in lectures with confidence.
Another way of reducing your plastic consumption is by replacing ordinary toothbrushes with bamboo ones, as well as investing in a metal drinking straw – Takealot offers a variety of these products and will deliver to wherever you are situated.
Protect the leafy giants
Deforestation is another human activity that destroys our planet Earth and contributes to global warming. Besides firewood and the clearing of land, trees are cut down to make paper.
Small adjustments such as making your lecture notes on your laptop, tablet or phone (if you can) will help save paper. In addition, you can print your assignments and select the “print on both sides” option which will half the number of pages you use.
For those students who live in digs, sacrifice a little bit of time, money and effort to shape your garden. This can be anything from small pot plants to towering trees. Not only will you be enriching the environment of Makhanda but you will also have a better view out your bedroom window – enough to put a smile on anyone’s face.
A simple choice
Hopefully you do not need more motivation to adapt your lifestyle for the sake of our only home, but in case you do let me bid farewell with one final thought:
Through looking after our planet in return for how she looks after us, the only scenario is that beautiful landscapes of the Earth get restored, species of plants thrive and endangered animals will have a chance to repopulate.
If the world unites together to save the planet, there is no worst-case scenario. If we don't act, however, the repercussions could be enormous.