Responsible consumption, a key to protecting the environment


If by 2050 there are 9.6 billion inhabitants on the earth, as the United Nations (UN) predicts, we will need almost three planets-worth of natural resources to be able to supply our needs and live as we do now. But there is only one Earth and therefore everything that we do for it, however small, has great importance.

We will show you five everyday practices that you thought were harmless, or even ecological, but that cause considerable damage to the environment.

  Eating too much meat, fish and fruit

These foods are essential for our diet, although they are not very healthy for the natural environment. In a 2018 report, Greenpeace warned that 14.5% of all greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) come from industrial stock farming. The meat industry, for example, negatively affects land use as between 75 and 80% of the world’s agricultural land is used for stock breeding. But if this same land were used for growing vegetables, there could be food for 4 billion people more.

Overfishing does not help to take care of the environment, either, since it harms the biodiversity of marine ecosystems. You can also be a responsible fruit consumer by choosing seasonal varieties.

  Buying coffee pods and teabags

Around the world we throw away over 7 billion coffee pods a year, or around 13,500 a minute, according to calculations by Halo, the leading British packaging manufacturer. These pods are mostly made of aluminium and plastic, a fact that makes them a very obvious enemy of the environment.

The United States, Italy and Spain are the countries with the highest consumption of these single-dose containers, which we also tend not to recycle, or do so badly, since legislation does not consider them packaging and they should be placed in special collection points.

Teabags also help to produce environmental pollution: the bags are harmful for the planet because they contain nylon or polyethylene terephthalate (PET), a type of petroleum-based plastic.

Another step you can take to reduce your consumption of this type of products is to choose more sustainable alternatives, like traditional coffee makers and loose tea.

  Using paper bags

We think that because they are made of paper they are not as harmful as the five billion plastic bags that we use around the world annually, according to the UN. But the reality is very different: they are rarely reused and tend to end up in the organic waste bin.

In addition, the amount of energy needed to manufacture a paper bag is four times more than for a plastic bag and its production requires a large amount of water and wood, emits harmful gases into the atmosphere and uses chemicals that pollute water courses and harm ecosystems. A good substitute for paper bags are long-lasting, washable and reusable cotton bags.

  Washing with non-ecological detergents and softeners

Most laundry soaps are toxic, as they contain dyes and other polluting substances, such as phosphates, surfactants, 1.4-dioxane solvent or optical whiteners that never break down. These components cause irritation and allergies, pollute the water and harm marine ecosystems.

The carbon footprint caused by the use of detergents just in the United States is 218 kg per family per year, to which we need to add the energy used by washers and dryers. The solution is to use ecological laundry detergents with natural, biodegradable ingredients.

  Drinking bottled water

Plastic bottles are a clear example of environmental pollution. According to Greenpeace, they take about 500 years to decompose. These bottles, 500 billion of which are manufactured each year worldwide, can affect our health due to the microparticles that they leave in the bottled water.

The American NGO Orb Media analysed the mineral water in over 250 bottles by leading brands in 2018 and 93% tested positive for polypropylene, nylon or PET. The only environmentally responsible option, therefore, is to drink tap water or use reusable glass bottles.

On 1 February 2018, the European Commission published a proposal for a recast of the Directive on the quality of water intended for human consumption (the Drinking Water Directive)External link, opens in new window., the purpose of which, among others, is to boost public confidence in tap water. The European institution foresees that the new measures will reduce potential health risks from drinking water from 4% to less than 1%. What’s more, by reducing bottled water consumption the Commission expects European homes to save more than 600 million euros every year.


Source: https://www.iberdrola.com/environment/actions-that-protect-the-environment

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