Do You Really Need That Plastic Bag? - NCS Grad, Josh

ncs 21/04/2018

Despite denials from high-profile men like Donald Trump and Jeremy Clarkson, climate change is a very real thing. This Sunday is Earth Day, so I think it is fitting to write an article not only about plastic waste but climate change as well. Both are huge obstacles we need to address for the survival of Planet Earth, but both are also preventable and reversible.

For the last 200,000 years, the gases in the Earth’s atmosphere have remained constant, with carbon dioxide – the main contributor to global warming – making up 0.03%. However, in the last 200 years, this has spiked to 0.04% and is thought to continue to rise. Although carbon dioxide is produced naturally, as part of a natural cycle, this spike is a result of aeroplanes, automobiles, and multiple industrial revolutions around the world.

Another huge contributor to greenhouse gas emissions is methane from the cattle industry. Reducing consumption of beef and other meats could make a huge difference, as well as considering other approaches like going vegetarian or vegan.

There is so much more that we can do so minimalize further damage! From cutting back on fuel and electricity to helping inspire others to change their own lifestyles, every little action we take can have a huge effect if enough people commit to it.

Furthermore, the crude oil from which we obtain petrol/diesel is a finite resource, so it‘s important to look for a sustainable solution in preparation for when we run out. By travelling by bus or train, or even better by bike, to work or school every morning instead of by car, we could seriously cut down on greenhouse gas emissions and slow down the global warming process.

Another huge issue we’re facing at the moment is plastic waste. It is polluting the oceans and the fish, birds and animals it supports.

But there’s a lot we can do to help combat it!

Firstly, we can reduce the amount of single-use plastics that we buy by taking a reusable cup when getting coffee, or bringing our own bags when shopping. Refusing to use plastic straws and unnecessary plastic packaging can help a lot too.

However, we can’t live without plastic, so it’s important to recycle the plastics that you do use so that it doesn’t get dumped in the ocean or put into landfill. Recycling plastic is also far more sustainable as it reduces the amount of new plastic having to be created in the first place, maintaining crude oil reserves and using less electricity, which all help a little bit in achieving higher levels of sustainability.

This planet has existed for 4.5 billion years, and while we’ve only witnessed a fraction of that, we’ve managed to do significant damage. It is our responsibility to try to change this for the sake of future generations living normal lives, and in the hope that we can leave this planet in a better condition than it is now. If we all do a little bit, it will make a significant impact!

For more info on how you can make a change, you can visit the Greenpeace or Earth Day websites.