Why It’s Important to Protect our Environment
“Protecting the environment should be as important as the protection of your own life”
Primarily, we all should be aware of the term environment. All living things survive within their own favourable zones of the environment – thus the environment is not something that can be neglected easily without caring for it. Indeed, the Lord hath created a flexibility in the environment for all of organisms existing on Earth. Although the environment can continue to survive in its natural state, human intervention has caused extensive destruction in many ecosystems. It is very important for us to protect our environment, so that we can continue to live on this planet – in a healthy and safe atmosphere.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is playing a major role in protecting the environment, and they carry out an extensive range of functions to do so. Their primary responsibilities include:
• Environmental licensing
• Enforcement of environmental law
• Environmental planning, education and guidance
• Monitoring, analyzing and reporting on the environment
• Regulating Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions
• Environmental research development
• Strategic environmental assessment
• Waste management
• Radiological protection
The EPA is holding its proper position in different countries throughout the world. The responsibilities mentioned above are stated in their own website, and they carry out these responsibilities to protect the environment, and lead our lives towards safety and security from environmental hazards.
“Humans should be the light to illuminate darkness in the lives of those who are inhaling misery, We should save our own lives, animals and birds breathing in our environment“
Unfortunately, humans have not been very good stewards of the Earth over the years. To protect the environment and preserve the planet for our children and future generations, we all need to take proactive steps toward cleaner living habits.
“Most of the damage to our environment stems from consumption: what we consume, how much we consume and how often.“
Whether it’s gas, food, clothing, cars, furniture, water, toys, electronics, knick-knacks or other goods, we are all consumers. The key is not to stop consuming, but to start being mindful of our consumption habits and how each purchase or action affects the ecosystem.
The good news is that it’s often not too difficult, expensive, or inconvenient to become more environmentally friendly. It can even be a fun challenge to implement among your family or coworkers. And though small changes at the individual level may seem trivial, just think how much cleaner the planet would be if everyone adopted even a few of the following behavior modifications.
We should have to protect the environment not for only living creatures, but for the plants and trees that provide even more benefits to us directly – they provide us with oxygen which we need to breathe. Industrial and developed countries are also facing threats of being polluted and affected by the detrimental environmental impact made by human actions.
Waste disposed in our water sources, is brutalizing aquatic life and pollution from factories, our usage of plastic bags, and pollutants released from vehicles, are all all factors that are contributing to climate change. Many of Earth’s resources are being depleted by humans, the results of which are hazardous to lives of many globally.
There have been many agreements, which have been officially signed between countries to prevent the harmful impact of human activities on nature and the climate. It’s helpful to some extent, but the targets set during these agreements are often not met and the effects of climate change are left unmitigated.
Here are some actions we can take to do our own part in contributing towards a greener future. We should not think that a single person can not make a difference, because change always originates from the actions started by a single person; we have to start somewhere to reach our goals.
• Using reusable bags
• Measuring your own safety measures and asking others to do the same.
• Using fewer chemical irritants.
• Taking all protection measures that are necessary for saving the environment from pollution (using public transit, reducing electricity use when possible, etc.)
• Planting more and more trees. There are many benefits associated with doing so, and you can learn more about them here.
• Reducing our use of artificial fertilizers in our gardens/farms. Using fertilizers multiple times results in the loss of soil fertility, they get washed away in rains too and can contaminate nearby water sources like rivers, streams, and lakes.
• Consume less. Curbing consumption can have a huge impact on the environment. The three “R’s”—reduce, reuse and recycle— get a lot of attention, but the planet could benefit from some focus on the most important and most underrepresented “R”: refuse.
• Compost. Composting your food scraps and yard waste offers double rewards: it keeps an incredible amount of trash out of the waste stream, and it produces free, rich soil to use in your garden. Some cities now pick up organic waste alongside regular trash and recycling pick up. If your area doesn’t offer this service, no worries— you can set up a low-maintenance compost pile in your backyard.
• Buy local. While we’re on the topic of shopping, it’s important to think about the path your stuff takes just to get to you. All that packaging, combined with the fuel needed for delivery, really takes a toll on the environment. Instead, check out your local farmers market for fresh, package-free food; try eating at a farm-to-table restaurant; and buy from local artists, clothing makers, and retailers before you click for that two-day shipping.
• Walk, or carpool. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a typical passenger vehicle emits about 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year.1 Any amount of that we can cut back on will help. For short trips, try walking or biking—you’ll also get a healthy dose of exercise in, without setting foot in a gym. If travelling on foot or two wheels isn’t feasible, try carpooling with a friend, neighbor or coworker to a mutual destination. And if all else fails and you need to drive your car, line up errands in the most efficient route to save time and miles driven.
• Use your purchasing power for good. The positive thing about being a consumer is that we have the power to choose where we spend our hard-earned dollars. Think of your money as your voice and your vote for a cleaner planet. Spend it wisely on goods, services and experiences that leave a smaller carbon footprint. Choose to do business with companies that support sustainability efforts, utilize renewable energy sources and walk the walk when it comes to protecting the environment. Money talks—if enough people use their purchasing power for the good of the Earth, it will create a demand for sustainable practices. Businesses will either have to comply … or be left behind.
• Conserve electricity. As you can guess, we’re quite fond of this method of protecting the environment! Anytime you can use less electricity, it’s a win for the planet. Try some of these quick ways to conserve energy around your home:
-Trade incandescent bulbs for more energy-efficient CFLs or LEDs.
-Use smart power strips, which turn off the power to electronics when they’re not being used. (Or, simply unplug power cords from the wall when items aren’t in use.)
-Use a programmable or smart thermostat.
-Maintain your heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) system.
-When it’s time to buy a new appliance, choose an Energy Star-certified model.
-Seal air leaks around doors and windows.
-Make sure your home is properly insulated to the recommended level of heat resistance (“R-value”) for where you live.
-Use ceiling fans to circulate warm air in the winter and cold air in the summer.
If we all do our part, and work towards reducing our negative environmental impact, we will benefit ourselves. This would allow us to rebuild a healthy relationship with nature. A cleaner environment would also reduce the health problems humans face, including lungs diseases, heart attacks, infections, and cancer caused by the pollutants existing in our environment.
“We should protect our environment to create a better lifestyle for ourselves. Otherwise we would be consciously participating in the calamities of destroying our planet, and humans, as well as all other living things on Earth would face a great loss.”
SHI’S 13 SUSTAINABLE PRACTICES FOR A HEALTHY PLANET
Earth Day is a yearly reminder to show gratitude to our environment, raise public awareness, and celebrate the efforts made to preserve and protect our planet.
This Earth Day, the Sustainable Harvest International (SHI) headquarters team has compiled thirteen simple yet meaningful tips for practicing sustainability at home.
We hope these practices will provide you with ideas for incorporating small changes to your day-to-day life that will make a BIG impact!
“Every day we’ve got to think about what food we’re going to buy, what clothes we’re going to buy, how we’re going to get around. There are so many ways that we can make a difference… whether it’s buying organic, buying locally-grown, growing our own food, burning less fossil fuels, or how we spend our money. Do we spend it all on ourselves or do we donate to make the world a better place?”
— Florence Reed, Founder and Director of Strategic Growth
FOOD SYSTEMS AND SUPPORTING LOCAL FARMERS
SHI partners with farmers to strengthen regenerative farming practices, enhance biodiversity, and restore the ecosystems that underpin healthy, local food systems.
Here’s the sustainable practice that is nearest and dearest to all of our hearts:
TIP #1: SUPPORT LOCAL FARMERS AND SUSTAINABLE FOOD SYSTEMS.
““We guarantee that the food will also be fresher, tastier, more sustainable, and way more nutritious. Bonus: by supporting local farmers, you’ll add dollars back into your local economy, which benefits you and your community”
— Jenniffer Zapata, Manager of International Programs
Today’s dangerously complex and global food systems are key drivers of habitat and biodiversity loss across the planet. The way we produce food has profound impacts on the health of people and the planet. But we CAN feed the planet without destroying it, so long as we embrace regenerative agriculture and local food systems.
Eating locally means eating seasonally. When grown locally, crops are harvested fresh at their peak ripeness. Unfortunately, to reach our local retail stores from farms around the globe, produce has to be harvested earlier so it can be shipped long distances without going bad. This means farmers must grow varieties based on their durability instead of their flavor. Imagine if our produce was grown for flavor and not to meet the needs of a system that does more harm than good? Sounds downright delicious!
BIODIVERSITY AND NATIVE GARDENS
Today, there are 40 million acres of monoculture lawns across the United States that offer minimal benefit to local wildlife. Instead, U.S. lawns consume 800 million gallons of gasoline to stay neatly trimmed and 3 million tons of nitrogen-based synthetic fertilizer to stay green. Seems like a huge waste, right?
TIP #2: PLANT NATIVE
Mira Kohl, SHI’s Communications Manager, encourages everyone to garden with native species. Whether you can put a pot on your balcony or convert your entire lawn into a wildlife habitat, use as many native plants as you can! If you’re in the Southeast, Mira highly recommends planting Maypop (Passiflora incarnata), and enjoy watching the Gulf Fritillary feast!
Native plants are specifically adapted to their local climate and soil conditions. That means that they’ll need less water, less fertilizer, and less maintenance from you! Native plants evolved in tandem with native wildlife, and are uniquely suited to support them.
There are plenty of resources available to help you become part of the solution. In fact, there’s a native plant society in every single state and our guess is that they’d be more than thrilled to walk you through what native plant options are available in your area.
TIP #3: USE MULCH
Flo Reed, SHI’s Founder + Director of Strategic Growth, and Kate Herndon, SHI’s Director of Development, both suggest using mulch in your garden beds. Mulch will add organic material and retain moisture, helping you conserve water. Pro tip from Kate: What’s unwanted waste for your local tree removal company is gold for your soil. Reach out and see if they’d be willing to supply you with free mulch!
RIGHT AT HOME
Incorporating sustainable practices into your daily life doesn’t have to be complicated. With small adjustments, you’d be surprised by the impact. Here are some more awesome tips that you can do right at home:
TIP #4: REUSE WATER
Do you have a dehumidifier running in your home? Kate knows a whole lot about humidity living in Atlanta, Georgia, and recommends you reuse that water for your indoor and outdoor plants!
TIP #5: OPEN UP YOUR WINDOWS
Instead of running your A/C and electricity all day, SHI’s Administrative Assistant Jessica Hurtado suggests you try opening up some windows to create a cross-breeze that will cool your home. Open windows will also bring in that natural light during the day!
TIP #6: AIR DRY YOUR CLOTHES
Did you know that a clothes dryer often consumes as much as a new refrigerator, dishwasher, and clothes washer combined? Mira loves opting to hang her clothes out to dry instead of using the drying machine. Despite improvements in energy efficiency, clothes dryers remain infamously power-hungry. Even if you live in a small apartment, there are lots of great contraptions to air dry at home.
TIP #7: GO SOLAR
As a way to offset her energy consumption, Flo and her family have installed solar panels on her house that meet almost all their electricity needs! They also use solar energy for most of their water heating. In addition, Flo has recently purchased an electric car– which is mostly powered by her solar panels.
TIP #8: DITCH THE CAR + GRAB A BIKE
Elliott Powell, SHI’s Executive Director, opts for biking as much as he can. In fact, you’ll often catch him biking around New Orleans with his two young girls en route to school, the park, or a Mardi Gras parade.
TIP #9: REDUCE FOOD WASTE
Jessica suggests taking a regular inventory of your fridge for any food items that may be going bad and planning an easy meal. Some ideas for easy “dump” meals include soups, stews, smoothies, and casseroles.
TIP #10: COMPOST FOOD SCRAPS
Chloe Hurtado, SHI’s Communications Intern, suggests starting a small compost bin where you can discard food waste and scraps. Eventually, you can use this compost to feed your gardens and keep your soil happy!
DON’T TRASH THAT!
Being regenerative means leaving things better than you found them. Instead of contributing more and more trash to landfills, we all need to reduce our consumption and reuse whenever possible. Here are some ideas to support your efforts to reduce and reuse:
TIP #11: DON’T THROW AWAY, PASS IT ON
Before you throw something away, consider whether someone else could use it. If so, Jessica suggests joining mutual aid groups on social media where you can easily advertise and find a new home for your old belongings.
TIP #12: UPCYCLE
Upcycling is the perfect way to regenerate “old” or “un-useful” items into something creative and useful! Challenge yourself to “upcycle” things like furniture. Beyond saving money, you’re also saving the planet a whole lot of grief! Get creative with your useless or unwanted items by upcycling—basically, turning trash into treasure. Creating something new such as artwork, toys or jewelry is both satisfying and one of the best ways to protect the environment. Not only does it keep items out of the trash, it can prevent having to purchase new items, which require lots of resources to produce. Children love making things; so instead of heading to the craft store, check out your recycle bin first and let their imaginations soar!
TIP #13: BUY SECOND-HAND
Both Jessica and Mira are consummate thrifters and recommend “poppin’ tags” at your local thrift store. Did you know that the fashion industry is responsible for 10% of the world’s carbon emissions and consumes 10% of all water used industrially worldwide? Or that toxic chemicals used in clothing manufacturing often end up in our oceans and waterways with long-term impacts on marine life and human health? And we haven’t even started to discuss the terrible working conditions in textile sweatshops worldwide. Buying second-hand is easy, fun, sustainable, and ethical!
“Just think, every day we have 1,000s of opportunities to choose something that makes the world a little better. None of us get it 100% right but if we all do the best we can and just think about it, think a little more broadly, then I think we will make a tremendous difference.”
— Florence Reed, SHI’s Founder and Director of Strategic Growth
Environmental Protection Begins With You
Protecting our environment is everyone’s job because we all have an impact. Although keeping our little corner of the planet clean and green may seem daunting at times, even small steps add up.
Curbing consumption can have a huge impact on the environment. The three “R’s”—reduce, reuse and recycle— get a lot of attention, but the planet could benefit from some focus on the most important and most underrepresented “R”: refuse.
When you refuse, you say “no,” which is not always easy. Freebies at events, cheap goods on clearance, the hot new children’s toys or the latest gadgets that promise to make your life better—none of these are essential. And they almost always end up either in the trash or forgotten in the back of a closet. Next time you’re tempted to purchase or accept a non-essential item, think about whether it would truly improve your life. If not, it’s ok to just say, “No, thanks!”
Bonus: Refusing to allow unneeded items into your life can save you money and reduce the amount of clutter in your home.
-Everyone has to clean sometime! Check out some healthier alternatives to toxic cleaning products and breathe easier in every room of the house. Want to protect the environment? Use fewer harmful chemicals and you’ll be on the right track. It’s hard to be sure about the long-term negative effects chemicals can have, both on our bodies and on the planet, so it’s best to avoid them if possible. Opt for chemical-free lawn and garden care; all-natural beauty and hygiene items; natural household cleaners; and organic food. The Earth will thank you!
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
-It is easy to practice 3 R’s at home. Learn all about what to recycle; why it is important to purchase recycled content products; how to reduce the trash you generate; and much more! Did you know it takes over 700 gallons of water to grow enough cotton to make just one plain t-shirt? Instead of heading to the mall to buy new clothes, consider looking first in a thrift store or vintage shop, or trading clothes with friends. You can breathe new life into your wardrobe without wasting the precious resources needed to produce new clothing. Shopping secondhand also applies for many other categories of consumer goods: children’s games and toys, shoes, appliances, furniture, cars and more.
Think about how many people you see each day drinking beverages from disposable cups or disposable bottles, sipping from disposable straws, carrying disposable grocery bags, eating from disposable plates or containers and using disposable utensils. All that single-use plastic has to go somewhere, and it’s had a devastating effect on our soil, oceans and marine life.
All of the above items (and more) have more environmentally responsible counterparts. Switch to reusable items and make a commitment to use them as often as possible. You’ll have less trash piling up at your curb, and you’ll be helping to protect the environment in a major way.
If you can’t refuse it…and you can’t rot it…and you can’t reduce it…and you can’t upcycle or reuse it…then it’s time to turn to the final “R”—recycling. Educate yourself on what can and cannot be recycled in your bins at home. Throwing the wrong items in the recycle bin can result in an entire load being rejected, which means … back to the landfill.
You can also easily find out how to recycle special items such as electronics, batteries and appliances. Check with your local municipality for drop-off sites, and make an effort to get your items to the proper disposal sites.
What Do I Do With…?
-Hmm, don’t know what to do with all those packing peanuts, unwanted prescription medications, or those burned out CFLs? Use this guide to find out how to manage those not-so-common household items in the most environmentally preferable way. Learn more about waste disposal for households.
-Did you know that Connecticut residents have convenient and free opportunities to recycle their computers, printers, televisions, and monitors? Learn more.
-Find more ideas about how to live “green” – from taking care of your pets to choosing better foods for your health and the environment.
Lighting, Heating and Cooling
-Learn practical tips to conserve energy and save money all year.
-Find tips for using your woodstove to burn cleaner and more efficiently.
Building and Remodeling
-Planning a building or renovation project? Consider using green building products and techniques.
-Learn all about climate change and actions you can take to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Heating Oil Tanks
-Do you have a home underground heating oil tank? Learn how to deal with leaks and tank removal.
-Water is a precious resource. Learn about water conservation.
Conserving water at home is one of the easiest ways to protect the environment. Think of all the times you consume water, both inside and outside your home; then, make adjustments as you can. For example:
-Turn off the tap while you brush your teeth.
-Fix leaky faucets.
-Make your water use more efficient by aerating faucets, using sprinklers that reduce runoff and installing low-flow toilets and efficient shower heads.
-Collect and use rainwater for watering plants.
-Shorten your shower by a few minutes—or skip it altogether if you don’t really need one that day.
-Only run your dishwasher or washing machine when it’s full
These are just the basics—you can get really creative when it comes to conserving water.
Lawn and Garden
-Have a beautiful, green lawn without the chemicals by using organic lawn care.
-Don’t trash grass! Grasscycling – leaving those clippings on the lawn – saves time and helps improve the grass.
-Turn your household food scraps into gold for your lawn and garden. Learn more about composting.
Another “R” that doesn’t get much attention but has important environmental implications is “rot.” As in, let your food and yard waste rot naturally in the soil instead of sending it to the landfill. In other words: compost. Composting your food scraps and yard waste offers double rewards: it keeps an incredible amount of trash out of the waste stream, and it produces free, rich soil to use in your garden. Some cities now pick up organic waste alongside regular trash and recycling pick up. If your area doesn’t offer this service, no worries— you can set up a low-maintenance compost pile in your backyard.
-More people are becoming concerned about the effects of lawn and garden chemicals on children, pets, and the environment. Learn about alternatives to toxic chemicals for the garden.
-Integrated pest management (IPM) is a way of managing pests using non-chemical methods and the judicious use of pesticides when pest populations exceed acceptable levels. Learn more about IPM.
–Wildlife Habitat Fact Sheets about how to manage habitat to attract wildlife to your property.
–Pollinators are important for gardens!
-Learn how to handle interactions with wildlife in your yard.
–Keep Cats Indoors! — It is better for cats, better for birds, and better for people.
-Be aware of various invasive insects and diseases that can affect trees in your yard.
-Learn about the benefits of having trees in your yard.
-Get guidance for planting trees and maintaining young trees.
-How to identify trees.
–Information on Purchasing a Vehicle, Driving, and Maintenance Tips-Do you change your own oil? Here’s how to properly dispose of it.
-Protect our water supply and keep our air cleaner. Purchase a spill-proof gas can which can reduce harmful emissions by up to 75%.
Does your workplace recycle, conserve energy, encourage commuting by public transportation or vans? If not, you can get started by using some of these ideas to green your workplace.
Greening the DEEP
-Learn what the DEEP is doing to green our operations at 79 Elm Street in Hartford.
Business and the Environment
–Pollution Prevention for Business and Industry – Find fact sheets for dry cleaners, auto services, sustainability case studies from Connecticut companies, and more.
3 R’s at Work
-Do you manage a hotel or a bed and breakfast? Learn how to earn the CT Green Lodging Certification.
-Is your group thinking about holding a car was as a fund raiser? Learn how to have a car wash that has less impact on the environment.
-Reduce, reuse, and recycle in schools and in your town.
Wildlife and Natural Area Preserves
-Volunteer for Community Science Projects with the Wildlife Division.
-Become a volunteer instructor for the Connecticut Aquatic Resources Education (CARE) Program.
–Recreate Responsibly when in the outdoors.
Pets and the Outdoors
-Always pick-up dog waste and dispose of it in the trash. Dog feces can pollute water and carry bacteria and parasites that can make people sick. It should not be composted even in a biodegradable bag.
-Refrain from walking dogs or allowing house cats to roam freely on beaches during the nesting season. Dogs are not allowed at many beach areas during the bird nesting season. These areas include, but are not limited to, Compo Beach in Westport, Long Beach and Short Beach in Stratford, Pleasure Beach in Bridgeport, Silver Sands State Park and Milford Point in Milford, Sherwood Island State Park in Westport, Sandy Point in West Haven, Bluff Point Coastal Reserve in Groton, and Hammonasset Beach State Park in Madison.
-Prevent the spread of aquatic nuisance species (water milfoil, fanwort, zebra mussels.)
Our forests, grasslands, peatlands, freshwater rivers and lakes, coral reefs, mangroves, seagrasses and other natural ecosystems do not merely provide a home for Earth’s plants, animals and fungi, they provide a liveable planet for all life, including each of us. Ecosystems regulate the climate and protect us from zoonotic disease; they generate clean air, fresh water and an abundance of food and medicines. And they do this for free—but only if we give them the chance.
As humans continue to ravage our wildlands for agriculture, minerals, oil, timber and urban development, and other forms of short-term gain, we are also destroying our chance to implement the most effective solutions to the global climate and extinction crises. Healthy, intact ecosystems are much better at storing and sequestering carbon—a critical nature-based solution to the climate crisis—than degraded ones. We all need healthy ecosystems to survive. We know what, where and how to protect biodiversity; we know how to stabilize our climate, and we are committed to mobilizing the resources and political will to build a balanced world through rewilding.
Oceanservice.noaa.gov, “Ten Simple Choices for a Healthyier Planet.”; sustainableharvest.org, ” SHI’S 13 SUSTAINABLE PRACTICES FOR A HEALTHY PLANET.” By Chloe Hurtado; portal.ct.gov, “Environmental Protection Begins With You.”; theworldwithmnr.com, “Why It’s Important to Protect our Environment.” By Mehmoona Usman; greenmountainenergy.com, “12 ways you can protect the environment.”;