During the depths of the Covid-19 related lockdowns earlier this year, there was one bright beacon: a drop in global carbon dioxide emissions to levels not seen in almost two decades.
Even as parts of the world are shutting down and travel restrictions seem far from being lifted, the clear skies, roads and shipping lanes that defined the coronavirus pandemic won’t be part of our world forever.
The pandemic forced most people to reexamine how they were living. Here, Sebastien Chauvin, CEO Veolia Middle East, explains how we can all help conserve the world’s natural resources.
How to conserve water
Although 71 percent of the Earth is covered in water, it is imperative to preserve and conserve it as much as possible. Three percent of water on Earth is freshwater, but only 0.5 percent is available for drinking. The other 2.5 percent of freshwater is locked in ice caps, glaciers, the atmosphere and the soil, or it is simply too polluted for consumption.
Most of the Earth’s water – 97 percent – is salinate (salty). Companies like Veolia Middle East, for example, are supplying one million people with potable water by using desalination technology. Once recycled, the water can be reused for irrigation in resort complexes, agriculture areas, golf courses and fountains, or in industry.
However with growing population rates and such a small percentage of the planet’s water fit for consumption, it is fundamental to conserve water and use the world’s limited supply wisely. Making simple changes on an individual level, like these listed below, can have a huge impact on the environment. Here’s what you can do:
- Run the dishwasher only when full
- Create a lawn-watering schedule using a watering calculator
- Instill water-efficient appliances and showerheads
- Only wash full loads of laundry
- Fill a bucket while showering and use it to water plants
- Turn off the taps while brushing your teeth, washing dishes or cleaning vegetables.
How to save fuel
Burned fuels in the form of carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide are released into the environment by automobiles and factories and end up depleting the ozone layer, which subsequently leads to a greenhouse effect. That happens when ultraviolet rays reach the earth, directly affecting human health and the environment. The more petrol use, the greater the number emissions, which is why it’s so important to change our driving habits. Following these simple steps can make a bigger environmental impact than you think and can also help save money.
- Carpool to work or have a no car day
- Take public transport including buses, trams or the metro
- Remember to keep tyres fully inflated for better fuel economy
- If your budget allows, consider buying an electric car
- Only use A/C in the car when necessary
- Make sure you are driving in the right gear, at the slowest speed
- Watch the origin of each product you buy. The closer, the better for your carbon footprint
How to cut packaging and food waste
From production to distribution, food burns up a lot of the Earth’s natural resources, even before it ends up in the supermarket. Once eaten, the leftover plastic wrappers, cardboard boxes and uneaten scraps end up in landfills, producing greenhouse gases as they slowly decompose. In the UAE, a resident uses 450 plastic water bottles on average a year. This is a huge problem, as most plastics can take up to 1,000 years to decompose and end up in seas and oceans. It only takes a few simple steps to ensure eco-friendly eating.
- Cut back on straws, plastic cutlery and plastic plates and all single-use plastic items
- Start a compost pile
- Cut down on processed and fast foods
- Plan weekly meals, as this will massively decrease excessive food waste
- Remember to only buy food on your shopping list
- Pack your lunch in reusable containers
- Start a community garden
How to save energy at home
There is a direct connection between energy used and the environment. When people consume less power, the number of toxic fumes released by power plants is reduced and the Earth’s natural resources are conserved, which protects ecosystems from destruction. Limiting your electricity consumption can contribute to a healthier and happier world as well as saving money. Here are a few ways to conserve electricity at home.
- Replace lightbulbs with LEDs
- Unplug chargers and appliances when not in use
- Keep window blinds, curtains and shades closed during sunny hours
- Install time or motion detectors on indoor and outdoor lighting
- Always turn lights off before leaving the house
This report was provided courtesy of Veolia Middle East