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12 Ways You Can Help the Environment

It’s not hard to lower your carbon footprint, combat climate change, and help the environment. By doing just a few things differently every day, you can be kind to the planet.


Here are 12 things you can do to help the environment:


Reuse Water Bottles & Mugs

Reuse Water Bottles

Every time you throw a cup away, you create waste; disposable water bottles are made of plastic, the majority of beverage cups are plastic, styrofoam, or paper – and these products just end up in landfills (unless they are recycled). Cutting down on the number of cups you throw away is a great way to conserve resources. Get in the habit of only using one or two reusable mugs, thermoses/ sports bottles, etc… each day. If you’re refilling it with water, tea, coffee or juice, over and over again, just wash it out & reuse it.

Use Energy Star and Smart Appliances

Appliances that require less energy when compared to their traditional counterparts, are more energy efficient, and/ or have the ability to shift into a smart energy saving mode when needed; receive an Energy Star mark. The Energy Star label is used on a wide range of appliances and products; indicating to the consumer that the item in question will reduce energy consumption when compared to items not carrying the label. Many products have additional sustainable requirements that must be met in order to receive the Energy Star mark. Additionally, consider a smart thermostat, smart HVAC, and other smart, wi-fi enabled appliances that help you conserve energy in the home.

Conserve Water

Save water by running faucets only when you really use water. Install low flow toilets and faucets where you can in your residence. Consider a smart irrigation system for your garden.

Stamp Out Energy Vampires

Unplug any appliances that you’re not using; including electronic devices like computers. Don’t keep chargers plugged in, either. These all suck up energy even when they’re not in use. An eco-friendly option for plugging in electronics is using smart power strips.

Stay In For Dinner

From the gas your car uses to bring you to the restaurant to the trucks needed to deliver the food to the kitchen, dining out is a significant cause of environmental distress. This is true even if the restaurant only serves environmentally sustainable food; better to just cook at home more.

Buy Local

Go to a farmer’s market rather than the grocery store for your produce. It will taste fresher; and you’ll be supporting local farms rather than fossil fuel-intensive national ones.

Turn Out the Lights/ Use Eco-friendly Lights

Use energy efficient LED or CFL lights when you can. Turn off lights in rooms/ on patios when not needed. Once a month, perhaps try a controlled brownout where you pretend that the electricity has gone out and you must make do in the dark; light candles and use flashlights while you save money and energy. 

Natural fiber shopping tote

BYOB

Not bring your own beer, but rather bring your own bags to the grocery store to reduce the number of plastic bags floating around. If you do use those free bags at the grocery, recycle the plastic or brown grocery bags in designated bins at your grocery store, or save them up at home and recycle them at the appropriate mixed paper/ mixed plastic dumpsters at your local recycling center; do the same with phone books and junk mail. Ideally, use reusable shopping totes made of natural fibers or bamboo whenever possible.

Recycle

Order as many multicolored, separate recycle bins as available from your municipality. Also, locate your local recycling center, and visit it to see how many different categories of goods you can recycle. Yes, you’ve probably been recycling your soda cans and milk jugs for decades, but did you know (in many areas) you can recycle batteries, TVs and computers, cardboard, and even many metal goods?

Grow a Garden

The planet likes it when you grow things. It helps filter out bad air and is a great sustainable practice. Plus, you can’t beat home-grown tomatoes or herbs.

Start a Compost Pile or Donate Food

We create an incredible amount of natural waste through peels, shells, grounds, leftovers etc… Instead of tossing all of that potential useful food waste in the trash, start a compost pile and recycle it through you municipal compost facility, or separate compost trash bin (if available in your city), or in your own yard/ garden. Another good thing to do with potentially wasted food is to donate food to a local food bank, homeless shelter, non-profit, or church.

Go Solar

If you’re not ready for solar panels on your roof, try solar garden/ patio lights to get your feet wet. Also, depending on your location, you might have community solar available in your neighborhood or clean energy/ renewable power option available from your utility.

  • Please see the “Energy Saving Ideas” & “Ideas for a Greener Lifestyle” in the bottom section of this website>>> Other sustainable living ideas include buying food from local, organic markets, weatherizing your residence (where available), and using smart thermostats and home energy management systems (where available).

#13 (Honorary Mention) – For information on how switching from using toilet paper to bidets can help the environment, please see: bidetmate.com/how-eliminating-toilet-paper-helps-save-the-earth


Here is an infographic with some simple, effective, cost-efficient energy efficiency solutions:

FROM – rocketmortgage.com/green-smart-homes


GCT trending tags

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Decoupling and Divestment to Reach Sustainability

Decoupling, Divestment, ESG Investments


Decoupling

Decoupling in eco-environmental terms can be defined as a striving for economic growth without creating corresponding environmental impacts. Nations, industries, and corporations, will still reach full potential and economic growth; and perhaps achieve even greater success, by following sustainable practices. Economic growth for companies can be achieved while simultaneously lowering a company’s carbon footprint, and striving for a sustainable environment. 

There is no guarantee that any nation, industry, or corporation, will ever be completely “sustainable” from one year to the next, especially given the fact that all resources will continue to depreciate at least minimally. However, with the increased investment in, innovation of, and use of renewable energy, energy efficiency, other sustainability technologies (e.g. batteries for energy storage, electric vehicles), and decreased waste/ better waste management; the chance to achieve sustainability becomes more and more likely over time.

The economy depends on natural resources from land to water, metal to energy. There is a need to consider the depletion of these resources, and adjust investments; even with the need for increased gross domestic product (GDP) and profit. When the profit of the nation, industry, or corporation, is the greater consideration than the natural resources required for economic gain, there is very little likelihood of environmental sustainability.

It’s possible to have a vision of a company making a profit while maintaining environmental sustainability goals. In first-world countries, it’s possible to at least consider a minimal need for the growth of GDP. However, smaller third-world countries face a much larger need for GDP rise; increase in GDP that many developing countries still see as coupled with fossil fuel use. In looking at industrialized nations, historically, economic growth has been tied to increased use of fossil fuels for energy.

Eco-environmental decoupling, where economic growth occurs without an increase in environmental costs or demands, should be a common practice for all industries and corporations in the developed world today. Additionally, many developing nations across the world today have increased their financial status, even with the decoupling of some basic natural resources; such as oil.

Economic growth is beneficial and necessary for both industrialized and developing nations; as modernization (of cities, national infrastructure, vital services, etc…) significantly improves the quality of peoples’ lives. Unfortunately, most global economic growth historically has only been possible with the exploitation of natural resources; land (as in exploitation of forests. wilderness), water (e.g. oceans, rivers, lakes), and especially fossil fuels (gas, coal, and oil for energy, oil/ petrochemicals for manufacturing).

Today, this exploitation of natural resources is no longer necessary to achieve growth; sustainable technologies are abundant, efficient, and affordable (such as renewable energy, energy efficiency technologies, sustainable mass transit, electric vehicles, etc…). The global sustainability movement best represents the current global modernization movement; as evidenced by increased global investment in, and increased innovation of, clean energy technologies.


Divestment

The standard definition of divestment is a reduction of some kind of asset for financial, ethical, or political objectives. The global divestment movement, in eco-environmental terms, refers to companies pulling their assets and capital investments from fossil fuel companies.

Here are some major stories of the sustainability divestment movement from 2018, a year where the global divestment movement really picked up steam- cleantechnica.com/cleantechnica-divestment-year-in-review-2018 Here’s a quote from the above Cleantechnica article: “From school children to individuals, companies, and corporations, the global fossil fuel divestment movement has challenged the right of the fossil fuel industry to damage the environment. By divesting from fossil fuels, we are requiring polluters to take responsibility for their products…”

Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) goals are being adopted by many companies worldwide. These ESG goals go hand-in-hand with divestment goals, 100% clean energy goals, and company-wide net zero goals. ESG goals for investments can be viewed as similar to divestment goals, as ESG goals represent the most important metrics in evaluating a company’s overall sustainability.

The field of sustainable, ESG investments is gaining popularity internationally (to about $1 trillion worth of ESG investments internationally by fall of 2020); and includes ESG bonds and mutual funds. Major corporations that are divesting, aiming to reach ESG goals, and/ or ambitious 100% clean and/ or renewable energy goals include: Apple, Google, Amazon, Starbucks, and even Walmart. Read more about Amazon’s clean energy goals here: Amazon’s Renewable Energy Projects

Even some oil majors, giant corporations leading the international oil & gas industry, like British Petroleum (BP), Royal Dutch Shell, and Total SA, are adopting company-wide carbon-neutrality targets. Are these oil giants taking carbon-neutrality seriously as a response to the global divestment movement? As a response to major emitting countries sitting net zero goals?

BP, Shell, and Total all have net zero targets of 2050, mirroring net zero targets of the EU, the UK, and many European nations individually (and now the US president, President Biden, has also pledged the US will reach net zero emissions by 2050). In addition to BP &Shell, Total is a stand-out net-zero pledge in the field of oil majors embracing sustainable targets.-

 “Like BP and Shell, Total promised zero out the emissions associated with its own business operations by switching to renewable energy and offsetting any remaining emissions. But Total has also gone a step further, vowing that all of its energy products used by customers in Europe will be carbon-neutral by 2050 — and that it will cut the emissions of products used worldwide by 60%.

It’s not clear yet how Total plans to radically clean up its business model, but it does have a head start: The company already has stakes in 3 gigawatts of renewable energy and plans to increase it to 25 gigawatts over the next five years.”  FROM –  grist.org/beacon/a-total-makeover


Also, major big oil/ big gas companies are divesting or just becoming “energy” companies – like Statoil >>> Equinor. As of the end of 2020, Equinor also pledged to reach net-zero emissions by 2050; in its ambition to re-brand itself as a “broad energy company”.

“The world is changing, and so is Statoil. The biggest transition our modern-day energy systems have ever seen is underway, and we aim to be at the forefront of this development. Our strategy remains firm. The name Equinor reflects ongoing changes and supports the always safe, high value and low carbon strategy we outlined last year,” said chair of the board, Jon Erik Reinhardsen.   FROM –   equinor.com/en/news/15mar2018


The European Investment Bank (EIB), the wold’s largest public investment bank, is also phasing-out its investments in fossil fuel companies. According to Rueters, “…the new policy [EIB to cease funding fossil fuel projects by end-2021] does not outright ban all fossil fuel projects, but makes most of them impossible under the new parameters: Under the new policy, energy projects applying for EIB funding will need to show they can produce one kilowatt hour of energy while emitting less than 250 grams of carbon dioxide, a move which bans traditional gas-burning power plants.Gas projects are still possible, but would have to be based on what the bank called ‘new technologies,’ such as carbon capture and storage, combining heat and power generation, or mixing in renewable gases with the fossil natural gas.” 

Climate activists celebrated the [2019] decision of the EIB to stop funding most oil and coal projects by 2021, part of a bid to be the world’s first “climate bank”…

In a statement following the news, Friends of the Earth Europe fossil free campaigner Colin Roche said the bank’s decision was a big one.

“Today’s decision is a significant victory for the climate movement,” said Roche. “Finally, the world’s largest public bank has bowed to public pressure and recognised that funding for all fossil fuels must end—and now all other banks, public and private must follow their lead.” FROM –  ecowatch.com/european-investment-bank-fossil-fuels

For an up-to-date list of banks ranked on various divestment goals (divestment from coal, divestment from oil & gas. For example, PNB Paribas, a French international investment bank and the world’s 8th largest public investment bank, has only divested from coal; while some other banks on this chart have banned some coal and oil projects…not gas), please see>

ran.org/bankingonclimatechange/#grades-panel 


Perhaps one of the biggest, most pleasant, surprises in the ESG/ divestment movement, came with BlackRock’s decision to begin divesting. BlackRock is the world’s largest asset manager, managing investments worth over $8 trillion. This announcement came in 2020 after a wave of divestment announcements from major banks, including EIB. In looking at BlackRock’s divestment announcement, the Washington Post posited this summary of the divestment movement by big banks in 2019-2020:

“BlackRock isn’t the only big financial institution that has halted its lending to fossil-fuel projects in recent years. A number of big banks have taken steps to reduce their exposure to fossil-fuel projects.

JPMorgan ChaseWells Fargo and Citigroup have announced they would curb lending to Arctic oil and gas drilling projects, among other environmental pledges.

The latest wave of climate pledges by big banks was kicked off before the pandemic by Goldman Sachs, which decided in December it would no longer lend money to oil and gas projects in the fast-warming Arctic region.

The investment banking giant was followed a month later by BlackRock, which said it would limit its investment in the coal power business and make managing for sustainability and climate risk a key part of its investing strategy.”  FROM –  washingtonpost.com/powerpost/the-energy-202


Sustainability and economic growth can be combined when actions are taken carefully, with resources and raw materials managed efficiently. With the global sustainability movement, nations, industries, and corporations, are able to develop economically while still reducing their carbon footprint. For example, with requirements for decoupling, ESG investing including divestment strategies, and net zero targets, slowly coming into place; global industries are now competing to incorporate renewable energy into their economic growth. The renewable energy industry will continue to grow; to be one that becomes beneficial to global industries; while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and helping all industries commit to a long-term move toward sustainability.


See Also: gofossilfree.org/divestment/what-is-fossil-fuel-divestment

Additionally: sustainabledevelopment.un.org