What if we told you that switching to organic cotton could help you save 1750 glasses of water or ditching plastic straws for alternatives can save rare breed of sea turtles from choking on it? Or making small plumbing changes can save your family about 3000 gallons of water a year!
A lot of us are willing and conscious of living a sustainable and environment friendly life, but get overwhelmed with the thought of having to make too many drastic life changes to live greener lives. It does not have to be so daunting if you knew the right switches. Here we share handful of ideas that are simple and easy to integrate in our daily lives. They can go a long long way in helping the planet and other life forms on it breathe, thrive and co-exist.
- Ethical fashion-switch to organic clothing
Why should you opt for fabric made out of organic cotton?
- a) Growers of organic cotton prohibit use of agrichemicals in the form of chemical pesticides and fertilizers and genetically modified seeds that can permanently ruin the quality of soil and health of the farmers, apart from destroying the environment.
- b) Organic cotton cultivation relies on locally adapted inputs, ecological processes and supports and replenish biodiversity, without destroying the life of the soil.
- c) Unlike GM crops where the monopoly is exercised by a handful of companies, organic cotton brings together tradition, innovation, science and fair trade.
- d) Here’s what your eco-friendly buying choices come down to. Buying a tee shirt made from organic cotton is equivalent to saving
1750 glasses of water, or
fuel that could give you an extra km on an average car, or
electricity used up by a 60 W light bulb lit for an hour.
A part of responsible choice making involves buying from brands that are 100% sustainable, eco-friendly and employ manufacturing and sourcing practices in alignment with those goals of conservation and replenishment. Brand like Northmist uses organic cotton to make its full range of apparel.
- Why we need the bees? To have food variety on our plate
On your way back to your apartment you find a beehive hanging precariously under the French window of your neighbor. The first instinct is to burn them down and kill the bees.
But do you know, bees are a major pollinating agent for majority of fruits and veggies on your food platter, including apples, vanilla, almonds and squashes and large variety of wildflowers. In fact, some bees specifically pollinate certain seeds and no other. If you are wearing cotton fabric, chances are, the plant where the threads for your fabric came from, have been pollinated by bees too! Apple farmers benefit from the large scale pollination done by mason bees. Experts say, bees pollinate 90% of global crops.
But attempts to annihilate the insect enmasse have landed us at crossroads as we stare at bee extinction. According to some estimates, bee keepers have reported annual loss of hives of up to 30% and 1 in 4 bee species is nearing extinction. This fall in numbers has been ascribed to many factors including loss of habitat, unbridled use of bee-killing pesticides, and climate change.
According to Earthday.org, “Bees are indispensable pollinators of most ecosystems. There are 369,000 flowering plant species, and 90% of them are dependent on insect pollination. Usually, a honeybee can visit 50-1000 flowers in one trip. Therefore, if each bee takes ten trips a day, a colony with 25,000 forager bees can pollinate 250 million flowers in a day.”
Simply put, if pollinators die, the natural crop production will suffer, affecting food and nutritional security in the world, which experts predict could lead to deficiency of important micronutrients in diet like vitamin A, iron and folate.
- Go for green plumbing
Green plumbing refers to making minor plumbing changes to reduce water use, increase reutilization of water and use eco-friendly material as we go.
- What is the concept of grey water?
It is a good idea to reuse grey water. Grey water is water that you have used for laundry or bathing, which can be recycled for non drinking purposes like in the garden, floor cleaning, or car washing. An average person used the toilet flush about 5 times a day. Each time you flush, anywhere between 1.6 gallons to 4 gallons of water is consumed, constituting about 27% of an individual’s total water use, according to Environmental Protection Agency, adding to about 1.2 trillion gallons of water a year. Green plumbing advocates reusing grey water for flushing purposes.
- b) Install solar water heaters and rainwater harvesting. This one time investment can help you save on your electricity bill in the long run and harvested rainwater can be used for domestic purposes, reducing your reliance on tap water.
- Balloon free events, please
As fun as the helium filled balloons are, they are another source of ocean trash that has innocuously entered and stayed in our lives. Promotions, birthday parties, fund raisers, and entertainment-it is everywhere. Plenty of advocacy groups have been actively fighting to get them banned. As unusual as it may seem, use of certain types of balloons have reportedly caused multiple power outages in countries like the US, apart from being hazardous for marine animals.
Latex, which is generally used to make balloons may be more biodegradable than other types of plastic balloons, but they are still considered to be hazardous by environmentalists since they take a few months to degrade by which time they run the risk of being ingested by marine animals, choking them.
- Ditch the plastic straw. Save the turtle
It is relatively easy to do-ditch the plastic straw. But the fallout of NOT doing it has been stark. According to some estimates, 8.3 billion plastic straws are flung all over the world’s beaches.
A group of scientists in Costa Rica struggled to resuscitate an endangered species of sea turtle. What was earlier being thought of as a parasitic attack, was later found to be aplastic straw choking the animal.
A scuba diver in Manly, Australia collected 319 straws during a 20-minute snorkel and another 300 in the next snorkeling trip the following day. USA alone uses 500 million straws a day-a single use plastic that is used for a couple of minutes and then flung into garbage bins, landing in landfills or our oceans. It leeches BPA which can cause multiple health problems including high blood pressure or fetal problems and impaired brain development in children.
While many organizations and countries are heading towards taking legal action against the use of plastic straws, it largely rests on increased awareness and sensitivity to completely do away with plastic straws, as much as any other form of single use plastic.