Actions To Take To Support Global Sustainability

While the earth provides us with a variety of natural resources to help us live comfortably within our environment, these resources are not finite and humans will need to develop a better system for using these resources in order to prevent unnecessary strain on the environment. For instance, oil is one of earth’s most used resources but according to Jessica Williams, author of 50 Facts That Should Change The World, most of the world’s oil reserves could be consumed by 2040. Oil and other non-sustainable energies such coal, will need to be replaced by eco-friendly and sustainable technologies like wind or solar power in order to keep up with the global demand for energy that is mostly supplied by fossil fuels.

The transition from fossil fuels to more sustainable fuel sources is just one way the world can invest in sustainable energy. Each of us as individuals can also choose to lessen our own negative impact on the environment by making small changes to our everyday lifestyle and engaging in sustainable practices in terms of our food purchases, energy consumption and our use of natural resources like water.

Individually, we can each develop simple habits to become more sustainable in our own lives:

• Reconsider your consumption habits. Do you end up throwing away a lot of garbage? Is most of your garbage food waste? If it is, have you thought about composting your food waste? If you are currently throwing away items that can be recycled, start a recycling program in your household.

• Be conscious of the way you purchase foods. Try buying sustainable foods like locally grown fruits and vegetables that do not come in Styrofoam packaging. Or, try buying products with packaging made from recycled materials.

• When you purchase fruits and vegetables, be sure to buy them from your local farmer’s market. Purchasing your produce from local vendors will help to support your local economy, reduce the number of trucks needed to transport produce across the country and may result in a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

Within recent years, it seems as though everyone has been talking about climate change – from politicians and scientists to the media and various governing bodies. The term climate change refers to the long-term changes that occur within the earth’s environment. These changes include weather and wind patterns, ocean currents, solar radiation, continental drift and greenhouse gas emissions.

One of the most concerning impacts of climate change is the greenhouse effect, or the amounts of gaseous vapor such as carbon dioxide and other pollutants that get trapped in the earth's atmosphere. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, 75% of the greenhouse gases that were released into the environment were a direct result of human activities, mainly the burning fossil fuels such as coal, petroleum and natural gas. Another major concern related to climate change deals with the melting of the polar ice caps and rising sea levels, which have increased coastal flooding throughout the world.

While most of us cannot eliminate the use of fossil fuels in our communities or prevent the further melting of the arctic ice shelf, we can make small changes in our daily activities that can lessen our impact on the environment:

• Car Pool
Instead of driving to work alone, try car-pooling with co-workers. Or, if you drop your children off at school each morning, car-pool with other kids from your neighborhood.

• Bike Or Walk
If you live close to your local supermarket or convenience store, trying biking to pick up a few items instead of driving. Not only will you reduce your daily gas emissions, but you’ll also benefit your health as well.

• Idle No More
Instead of waiting in the drive-up lane at the bank or fast food restaurant, turn off your car and go inside. This simple change of habit will prevent your car from idling while you wait for service in the drive-up lane. You may even save some time as well.

Of all the actions we can take to lessen our impact on the environment, rethinking the way we consume is the easiest way for each of us to change the world. According to the Worldwatch Institute, an organization under the umbrella of the United Nations, 12% of the people living in North America and Western Europe account for close to 60% of global consumption. If individuals living in North America and Western Europe, as well as the rest of the world, could engage in more conservative consumption habits, it could have a dramatic but positive impact on the environment.

In a recent consumption report performed by The United Nations, the organization determined that the world's richest countries make up one-fifth of the world’s population but account for more than half of the world’s total energy use. The world's richest countries also account for 87% of vehicle ownership and therefore have a dramatic impact on vehicle emissions, which further pollute the earth.

If you are looking to lessen your impact on the environment, one of the easiest ways to make a difference is to change the way you consume. This means you may need to make a few small lifestyle changes that could have a huge impact on the environment.

• Determine Your Ecological Footprint
If you want to really understand how you impact the environment, take a test to determine your ecological footprint. Your ecological footprint determines how much space you need to house all of your “stuff” – from garbage to electronics to personal care items. An ecological footprint factors in a person’s needs such as food, water and energy and determines how much space a person will need to keep all of these items. North America has one of the largest ecological footprints in the world with the average footprint at 24 acres. In other parts of the world, the average footprint is less than one acre. Once you have a better idea of how much junk you contribute to the environment, it may make you think differently about the things you really need to survive.

While most individuals can make changes in their daily lives to reduce their greenhouse emissions and consume conservatively, the average person cannot change the way the world consumes energy. At the individual level, homeowners can invest in sustainable energies like solar and wind powered generators to provide energy for their homes, but the average person cannot impact their county’s dependence on fossil fuels. According to the 2004 BP Statistical Review of World Energy, the United States, China, Japan and Germany were the countries that had the greatest consumption of fossil fuels. The 2004 report also determined that Asia Pacific, North America and Europe/Eurasia where the largest consumers of oil, natural gas and coal, but were also leaders in the use of nuclear energy and hydro electric power.

While it may seem like there is little you can do to affect the world’s consumption of energy, here are a few suggestions as to how you can help:

• Write A Letter To Advocate Sustainable Energy Sources
At most, you can write a letter to your country’s energy department and legislative leaders to advocate for more sustainable energy sources such as hydroelectricity or wind power. You may also want to send communications to your local city officials suggesting how your city can best use sustainable energy sources to enhance the community.

• Replace Your Light Bulbs
Installing compact fluorescent bulbs can save 75% more energy than regular bulbs. These bulbs will also help to save on the purchase of additional light bulbs as compact fluorescent bulbs last 10 times longer than regular bulbs.