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3 Environmental Issues Worth An Earth Hour of Reflection

by Ossapha Ou

#CONNECTTOEARTH

Earth Hour

MARCH 28TH @ 8:30PM

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3 Environmental Issues Worth An Earth Hour of Reflection

Earth Hour is an annual “lights out” initiative to encourage individuals, businesses, and countries around the world to hold themselves accountable for the own environmental impacts they have on the planet. Saturday, March 28th, millions of people in more than 7000 cities in over 180 countries worldwide will flip off the lights from 8:30 – 9:30 p.m. in a show of support for Mother Earth. However you decide to observe Earth Hour this year, it’s important to spend some time to reflect on our pressing environmental issues and ponder upon the personal changes you can make to reduce your ecological impact. If we all resolve to do better each year, sixty short minutes of darkness can add up to a long-lasting solutions and a brighter future.

Air Pollution & Climate Change

Climate change is an environmental issue that should be on everyone’s mind during Earth Hour this year. When searching for ways you can help tackle this dilemma, understand that air pollution and global warming are closely linked together. The composition of Earth’s atmosphere has been held in a relatively beautiful balance that has facilitated life to thrive on our planet over the past 10,000 years. But Earth’s carbon cycle, in which carbon dioxide (CO2) is continuously being released and removed through the air by natural events and processes, has been greatly disrupted by manmade air pollution. Each year we add enormous amounts heat-trapping CO2 into our atmosphere by burning of fossil fuels for energy. The results of this manmade air pollution are rising global temperatures that have far-reaching effects on our environment and threaten to impact every person, plant and animal on Earth. Fortunately, there are many small changes you can make in your daily activities that will reduce your individual carbon footprint and help to reverse the global warming trend.

Environmental Realities to Reflect on:

  • At 410 parts per million in 2019, the carbon dioxide concentration in our atmosphere is at the highest level it’s been in 3 million years, a record that is projected to be broken in 2020.
  • Arctic sea ice areas have been decreasing year over year for the past 30 years at an average rate of 3.2% per decade, resulting in rising sea levels that can permanently change the geographical landscape of coastal areas and threaten freshwater supplies and ecosystems.
  • Our ocean water, which absorbs heat from the atmosphere, has seen a significant rise in average temperature over the past 20 years. Warmer ocean waters disrupt the delicate balance of marine ecosystems, damaging coral reefs, threatening its biodiversity, and disrupting global fishing industries.
  • Currently eleven percent or over 800 million people are vulnerable to the effects of global warming such as heat waves, droughts, floods, extreme weather events, and rising sea levels.

Earth Hour Resolutions That Make a Difference:

  • Calculate your carbon footprint online and always search for ways to reduce it.
  • Unplug all unused electronics, since even when not in use, they still suck up energy.
  • Set your washing machine for “Warm” or “Cold” water & hang dry your laundry.
  • Install a programmable thermostat to your home to lower your utility bill and carbon footprint.
  • Commute via bike or public transportation to reduce the amount of fuel you burn in your car.
  • Eat locally grown produce from farmer’s markets which have short transporting distances.
  • Install solar panels to your home and/or use energy efficient appliances.

Plastic Pollution

Nearly impossible to break down, plastic pollution has become a pervasive environmental problem that we all must keep on our minds during Earth Hour. Every year Americans toss out nearly 30 million tons of non-biodegradable plastic that takes up to 1000 years to completely decompose in landfills that leach toxic chemicals into our soil & groundwater. All the while, 8 million tons of plastic trash is annually dumped into our ocean waters, accumulating together in incredibly vast floating garbage patches that destroy entire ecosystems and kill 100 millions marine animals each year. But the good news is, our ever-growing zero waste movement has led to more and more green businesses provide sustainable alternatives that can help you reduce the amount of plastic you use and toss out. With more plastic-free products available than ever before, you can work to eliminate it from your life altogether!

Environmental Realities To Reflect On:

  • More than 300 million tons of plastic is produced every year and only 25% from recycled material.
  • Half of the all the plastic produced is used for single-use purposes, yet many centuries to decompose.
  • Over 8 million tons of plastic is dumped into our ocean waters annually, killing over 100,000 marine mammals & turtles and 1 million sea birds each year.
  • The Great Pacific Garbage Patch covers roughly 1.6 million square miles of accumulated floating plastic trash — that’s twice the size of Texas!

Earth Hour Resolutions That Make a Difference:

  • Reduce the plastic you use. Reuse the plastic items you have. Recycle plastic you have no use for.
  • Pick up litter whenever you see it, whether you’re at the beach, hiking through nature, or walking down the street.
  • Grocery shop with your own tote bag and avoid buying pre-packaged food or disposable items.
  • Drink from refillable/reusable containers to cut down on single-use plastic containers.
  • The BEST way to fight against plastic pollution is to focus to ELIMINATE plastic from your life altogether! Find sustainable, plastic-free alternatives right here at Zero Waste Store.

Deforestation

Forests are an invaluable natural resource that is essential for life on Earth. It covers only 30% of Earth’s land area, but it’s the home to 80% of all terrestrial life on the planet. And it’s not just plants and animals that are directly impacted by deforestation. Over 2 billion people worldwide depend on forests to sustain their culture & livelihoods. They are also an indispensable ally in the fight against global warming. Diverse forest ecosystems effectively remove a quarter of the heat-trapping carbon dioxide people add into our atmosphere and replace it with clean breathable oxygen. But human activity is quickly depleting our precious forests at an alarming rate. With over 15 billion trees a year being chopped down, deforestation is a major environmental problem that threatens the global climate stability, air quality, water purity, and biodiversity. But the use of technology and a little creativity, you can find to do your part to save trees and protect our forests!

Environmental Realities To Reflect On:

  • Over 15 billion trees a year are being chopped down, an already unsustainable rate that continues to increase each year.
  • Rainforests hold over 120 natural remedies , 25% of cancer fighting organisms, and countless medical benefits from the forest, yet to be discovered.
  • 80% of the all terrestrial biodiversity is found in forests, with 28,000 species projected to become extinct within the next 25 years due to deforestation.
  • The U.S. consumes 30% of the world’s paper, with just 5% of the world’s population.

Earth Hour Resolutions That Make a Difference:

  • Go paperless (or at least reduce paper use) at home and office by scanning, emailing, and using zero waste notebooks.
  • Buy recycled products, that you can recycle again and again.
  • Avoid products that contain palm oil, one of the leading causes of deforestation.
  • Plant a tree (or many trees) wherever and whenever you can.
  • Support companies and organizations that are committed to conservation efforts by becoming a member or buying only from businesses that are members.

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