Scientists have said that we have 12 years to stop climate change.
Sounds pretty daunting doesn’t it?
Fortunately, one of the simplest ways to do this is to live a less wasteful lifestyle, so you’re already on the right track!
Let’s dig a little more deeply into how reducing waste can help tackle climate change:
Every step in a product’s life cycle – from extracting raw materials to transportation to disposal – produces some form of greenhouse gas emissions. So by reducing, reusing, and recycling you can help reduce those emissions.
When you reduce the amount of things you buy, you separate your wants from your needs and buy things in less packaging which means less waste ending up in landfill or being incinerated.
By reducing food waste and eating up your leftovers, this diverts organic wastes from landfills which leads to a reduction in the release of methane gas from the decomposition of organic materials. (Contrary to popular belief, when you put food in landfill, it doesn’t rot down and make compost because there is no oxygen. Instead it produces methane – a potent greenhouse gas)
By reusing things, you give something another life – this has two side effects: you need less stuff and you throw less away.
By borrowing or renting things you only need to use a handful of times, you limit the amount of new resources needed and help preserve finite resources.
When you find new homes for the things you no longer want, rather than throwing away, you help those resources have a longer life.
Recycling generally produces less carbon emissions than creating brand new products and when you recycle materials it can help reduce deforestation, minimise greenhouse gas emissions from landfills, reduce energy consumption and eliminates the need for new raw materials to make products. And it doesn’t stop there! If you take paper as an example, recycling one tonne of paper prevents 19 trees being cut down. By leaving more trees standing, they continue to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, which helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions and global warming. (You may have heard of this as carbon sequestration).
By purchasing recycled products, you help increase supplier demand. This in turn encourages the production of more energy efficient products.
It can be a lot to take in, but if you read through again, you might start to get a feel for how everything fits together and how, by reducing our demand on new, disposable products, and by reducing, reusing and recycling more, we can help reduce global warming.
This series of short videos makes the connection between waste, emissions and climate change nice and simple to understand: