Responsible travel, rational mobility, changing eating habits, low energy consumption in our homes, careful waste separation, waste reduction, reuse, sustainable fashion and smart travel, are just a few simple changes that can help the environment to re-establish its natural balance.
Each individual can help restore natural balance by adapting new values and changing daily activities and habits to more sustainable ones. The two areas that need to be highlighted are the greenhouse gas emissions and waste management. Greenhouse gas emissions are considered to be the main causes for global warming and growing climate change. However, waste has a great impact on the environment, as it destroys natural ecosystems, causes the extinction of animal species, reduces the biological diversity of the planet and thus the quality of life, and above all has a strong impact on the health of plants, animals and humans. Waste production is closely linked to the consumer’s way of life, and thus indirectly to greenhouse gas emissions. Less waste also means fewer harmful emissions.
The role of households in the production of greenhouse gases and waste
Scientific research has shown that households can make the greatest contribution to limiting greenhouse gas emissions and reducing waste. According to an international survey, households contribute as much as 72% of all greenhouse gases. (1) A survey carried out in France, Germany, Sweden and Norway found that the main areas with a strong impact on greenhouse gas emissions are the following: mobility 34% (includes public transport, air transport and transport by cars), food 30% (mainly due to meat menu and dairy products), energy consumption of the home 21%, about 60% of these emissions are related to heating and air conditioning. Visible reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from individual households can be achieved by making people aware of the environmental price of individual activities and by making minor changes to our habits.
|Image 1: Share of greenhouse gas emissions in households by sections.|
Waste is another area in which households have a very strong impact on the environment. Because most of the waste is mainly various forms of disposable packaging, waste causes an immeasurable loss of resources in the form of materials and energy. In Europe, we produced 480 kg of waste per capita in 2016 (2). The amount of waste has decreased slightly compared to 2002, when each EU resident produced 527 kg. Although we have been separating waste in Europe for a very long time, separation is not very effective. Only 25 % of mixed packaging, which accounts for about 60% of all household waste, is recycled. Poor separation and over-production of waste results in increasing landfilling or incineration in incinerators that do not necessarily meet the required ecological standards. However, we do not only affect the environment with packaging, but also with the release of chemicals (especially cleaning products), waste oil, microfibers from synthetic clothing and other harmful substances through sewage into rivers and the sea.
Changing life habits can be a fun
Unfortunately, no one can save the ecological problems for us. Building on positive values and changing our habits and believes is therefore one of the main ways we can limit our impact on the environment (3). Changing habits and believes can also be taken as a challenge, a fun process in which we begin to live a more conscious and active life. It requires good and strong will, accompanied by a positive atmosphere where we support each other. In this process, we are not interested in the winners, we are first of all interested in the number of people that are willing to participate.
Children, adolescents, adults and the elderly can take part in an environmentally friendly project. Schoolchildren and high school students, can play the most important role. With their youthful energy and open view of the world they can help us create and promote a new environmentally friendly lifestyle.