Going green does not only involve recycling. Going green involves much more.
Basically, going green means to live life, as an individual as well as a community, in a way that is friendly to the natural environmental and is sustainable for the earth.
It means contributing towards maintaining the natural ecological balance in the environment, and preserving the planet and its natural systems and resources.
It also means taking steps, whether big or small, to minimize the harm you do to the environment (including the carbon footprints you leave behind), as a result of inhabiting this planet.
In practice, going green means adopting five basic principles in your daily life:
- reduce pollution
- conserve resources
- conserve energy
- reduce consumption and waste
- protect the earth’s ecological balance
All five principles are important in protecting the environment from harm, as well as helping to ensure that living (for humans and other creatures) on earth is sustainable.
So in your daily life, do adopt green practices under all principles, to make a difference.
What does going green mean: Reduce pollution
What does going green mean in practice is to reduce pollution, or the release of toxic substances into the environment.
In our day-to-day activities, we actually release substantial amount of toxic substances into the environment.
Think about the shampoo, soap and cleaning detergent that you use. Many of them contain chemicals that are washed down the sinks and pipes, into drains, rivers, reservoirs or even the sea.
Think about the fast-food lunch you had. In the process of producing the bread, meat patty and salad for the burger, chemicals in the form of pesticides, man-made fertilizers and even hormones are released into the lands, water and air. The wrappers used in packaging the meal is bound for the landfills and incinerators (because it is very hard to recycle them). In turn, harmful gases are released when the wrappers (as well as other waste) are buried or burnt.
Think about the car that you drive to work, or even the bus or cab that you take to your office. These vehicles emit greenhouse gases (contributing to global warming) and toxic substances like lead (harmful to living things, including the human body) into the atmosphere.
And we have yet to reach the part on the amount of chemicals and poisonous gases produced by factories and industries, in the process of manufacturing the various items we use (eg. electronics, clothes, paper and plastic products, furniture, packaged food etc), or extracting energy resources (eg. oil, coal, etc) from the earth.
In our modern day life, it may be hard to leave zero trace of toxic substances, or create zero pollution in our activities. So many of the things that we use on a daily basis contain some form of chemicals, or are produced through the use of some chemicals. Despite the pollution caused, we would still need to travel to work, whether by private or public transport. And we definitely need to consume food!
Nevertheless, what does going green mean is that we do something about this situation. Indeed, there are things we can do to reduce the impact of our daily activities on this earth.
Consider switching to more natural cleaners and personal products, such asnatural detergents, or organic detergents, as well as organic shampoos and lotions. Made of natural substances instead of man-made chemicals, minimal harmful chemicals are used in the process of their production. At the same time, these natural products are ready bio-degradable and do little harm even when released into the environment, because they are found in the natural environment in the first place.
Switch to organically grown food if you can. Organically grown food is grown without the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers that would harm the environment, as well as hormones or genetic reengineering. What’s more, organically grown food are so much healthier, because they are free of carcinogens and heavy metals (as a result of the synthetic chemicals), as well as more nutritious. And keep away from fast-food!
Also, what does going green mean in practice is to drive less, and use the public transport instead. Automobiles are one of the single largest sources of air pollution on earth today, and the harmful gases released contribute to global warming and climate changes. By taking public transport (such as buses and trains), you are actually helping to reduce the number of automobiles on this earth, and hence the amount of air pollution produced by these vehicles.
Better still, don’t drive, or even buy a car! Imagine the amount of metal required to manufacture your car. Definitely, in the process of manufacture, much toxic chemicals and substances would have been used, produced and released into the environment.
But if you must drive, do use an eco-friendly car and adopt green driving practices.
What does going green mean: Conserve resources
What does going green mean in practice also includes conserving resources.
The earth’s resources are limited.
As the human population continues to grow and technological advancements (eg. mass production, transportation) help make more material goods more readily available to people all over the world, we consume more and more natural resources. This rate of consumption is especially apparent in developed countries.
More and more trees are cut down to produce more and more paper for the growing number of offices worldwide. More oil, coal and other natural fuels are extracted from the earth to drive our factory machineries, our automobiles (including our airplanes) and our homes. However, the world’s supplies of oil and coal will not last forever, and our use of these fuels is contributing to polluted air, acid rain and global warming.
Some precious gems, such as Tanzanite, have been mined to the point there is little to nothing left in the Earth to mine. We are farming our land more intensively as well, to produce more food to feed our exploding population (and these are just some ways that we are rapidly depleting our earth’s resources).
If we do not take the effort to conserve our finite resources now, soon there would be none left.
In fact, according to a World Wildlife Fund report, humans are using more than 20% more natural resources than the Earth can produce. And between 1970 and 2000, the populations of land, freshwater and marine species have fallen by about 40%. At this rate, we would outstrip the earth’s capacity to support life very soon.
In turn, the pollution we create in the process of production and consumption further destroys the very valuable but scarce natural resources we have on earth.
With deforestation and fewer trees on earth, there are fewer plants to absorb excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, accelerating the impact of global warming. In turn, global warming worldwide have led to climate changes, and phenomenon such as serious flooding and drying up of originally forested land, leading to further loss of precious forests, and destruction of habitat for more plant and animal species.
Over-fishing have almost wiped out some fish populations in the waters, and reduced the number of fishes in the ocean significantly. While the reduction in certain predator fish species may lead to the proliferation of other fish species temporarily, nevertheless the upset to the marine ecosystem has eventually led to the destruction of the natural reefs completely. In the process, more marine species are lost.
At this rate, the earth would not be able to sustain life (including ours) on this planet for long.
Ultimately, all these boil down to the rate that we humans, as a single species (amongst the millions other species on this earth), are consuming the earth’s natural resources. It is time we reflect on the situation and put a halt to the situation.
What does going green mean is that we need to evaluate what we really need, as opposed to what we want. Is the new car really what we need? If not, then don’t buy it.
We need to learn to consume only what we need, and be considerate in our consumption. In other words, remember that we are not the only ones that the earth has to provide for.
But if we really need to make purchases, consider buying eco-friendly products instead. The use of such environmentally friendly products helps you reduce your carbon footprints, and even allow you to contribute to a greener planet.
What does going green mean: Conserve energy
Another aspect of what does going green mean in practice is to conserve energy.
As with the earth’s resources, the sources of energy (in the form of oil, coal, natural gas, etc) on earth are currently finite.
While humans have started exploring other sources of “sustainable energy”, such as palm oil, there are inherent environmental problems with the cultivation of some of these energy sources.
For other infinite and green sources of energy available (eg. solar energy), there are currently still some difficulties in harnessing these potential sources.
Until the day the human population is able to effectively make use of the infinite, sustainable, and green sources of energy available to us, it is important that we conserve our energy resources.
To put what does going green mean in practice, there are many energy saving tips for the home, the office, when driving, and in fact, wherever we go. Adopt them now before it is too late.
Saving energy also means less pollution.
The extraction of energy producing materials such as oil and coal from the earth generates substantial pollution. In turn, the use of these energy materials in driving our power stations, factories and automobiles produces large amounts of pollution and contributes in large ways to global warming.
So the less energy we use, the less pollution we create!
What does going green mean: Reduce consumption and waste
Another important aspect of what does going green mean in practice is to reduce consumption and waste.
The principle of Reduce Reuse Recycle cannot be over-emphasized.
As we reduce our consumption (especially of goods), the world would have less need for energy and resources (especially raw materials), and in the process produce less pollution (whether via the manufacturing industries, or the disposal of waste created through consumption).
As we reduce our waste, we would need to use less energy and resources for handling our unwanted waste. There would be less pollution arising from the landfills and the incinerators.
Reusing helps us to reduce our consumption of new materials, as well as help to reduce the waste that we create as an entire population.
Recycling allows us to reuse the materials in unwanted items to make new items. In this way, valuable resources that would otherwise contribute to pollution (eg. non-biodegradable materials or materials that release harmful substances when burnt) can be diverted away from landfills and incinerators and given a new lease of life in new products. Beyondenvironmental benefits of recycling, recycling also benefits the human economy and can be political.
Put into practice what does going green mean now. Reduce, reuse and recycle!
What does going green mean: Protect the earth’s ecological balance
What does going green mean in practice is also to protect the earth’s ecological balance.
The earth’s ecological balance refers to the equilibrium formed as a result of the harmonious co-existence of living organisms, including plants, animals and man, on this planet. Should the balance of this equilibrium tip in any direction, all the organisms involved would be adversely impacted.
So when you seek to protect the earth’s ecological balance, you (as an individual and as a race) actually seek to achieve a harmonious co-existence with other living creatures on this planet.
If you think about it, the human race is but only one of the living species on this earth. In fact, co-existing with us on this planet are millions of other plant and animal species.
Yet for a long time, we humans have lived our lives on this planet as if we own the Earth.
To make way for societal developments, we have destroyed many natural habitats to many plant and animal species. We have been carrying out deforestation and clearing of natural glasslands at alarming rates, for reasons such as to extract resources (eg. paper, tin, etc) from the earth, or simply to get more land for developments (eg. farming, building of cities, landfills).
In the process, we have striped other creatures of their habitats and even lives. With the destruction of forests, we are also hindering the earth’s ability to clean itself of excessive pollutants and carbon dioxide (which contributes to global warming), resulting in a less ideal climate for both ourselves and other living organisms.
To feed our increasing population, we have been stretching the earth beyond its limits, through activities such as over-farming and over-fishing. Unrelenting, we continue to seek to challenge these limits, through inventing new ways of producing more for our greedy species. We introduced the use of man-made chemical fertilizers, artificial hormonal injection in farm animals, and genetic engineering.
In the process, we have introduced many man-made and harmful substances into other species, the environment and ourselves (unwittingly, we have also tainted the quality of our food supplies, and bring harm to our bodies). And many of these substances have impact still beyond our full comprehension.
The ecological balance we have with other living organisms has been greatly upset. Many plant and animal species have gone extinct as a result of man’s actions. And this is even before we have even discovered their existence!
The loss of the numerous plant species also mean goodbye to important sources of medicinal plants and herbs that could potentially be cures to deadly diseases plaguing mankind today.
Whether it is for ethical reasons (ie. taking responsibility for the harm we have), or for selfish reasons (ie. to ensure the continued health of our human species and the earth we live in for our future generations), we need to do something today, before it is too late.
What does going green mean as a race is that we need to be more responsible and proactive in protecting the earth’s ecological balance. This environmental consciousness should be present, whether we are dealing with government policies, or industrial and economic activities, or in our daily living.
It should not be a matter of convenience, or doing whatever we can within the limits of our societal or economic constraints. In fact, considerations for the environment should come first! For without a planet to live in, there would be no room for societal or economic life!
What does going green mean as an individual is you should not over-consume (not just food, but other goods and services as well).In addition, you should also encourage those around you to do the same. By consuming just what we need, we reduce the strain we place on the earth as a source of our resources.
Keep an organic garden, or even start an organic farm, and help reintroduce more life (beyond humans and our needs) on this planet. Useorganic products instead of products that release harmful chemicals into the environment. Donate regularly to forest or wildlife conservation efforts. Or better still, protect a piece of forest land under your name. Respect the lives of other living creatures (plants and animals alike, not just your cute pet dog or cat), and also educate your kids on the importance of doing so. In this way, you would have built the foundations for a more environmentally-conscious generation.
All these efforts will contribute now and in the long run to keeping this earth sustainable.