Established in 1972, World Environment Day is one of the biggest international days for the environment led by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). As millions gather annually to advocate for environmental reform, this year's event is also a particularly significant milestone, marking 50 years since the 1972 United Nations Conference on the Human Environment.
To reflect this, this year's theme is taken from the slogan of that very conference – #OnlyOneEarth, reflecting the need for us to protect our only home and take collective action. It serves as a pressing reminder that the responsibility falls on us to take action in saving our planet. Even if most of our efforts only appear to be small contributions, when done in solidarity, we can and should all try to make a positive impact in building a more sustainable future.
In honour of World Environment Day, read on to find out more about what you can do to take care of our #OnlyOneEarth.
Using Fewer Resources
One key way to prevent further damage from being done to our environment is to utilise fewer resources and prevent the dumping of more waste. This starts not just with buying secondhand at sustainable stores like Thryft, but extends to many other aspects of daily life where we can go green and opt to be environmentally friendly. Read on to find out more about what you can do.
Think Before You Buy
Before you decide to shop for something, pause for a bit — do you even need it? The item you are buying may not end up being utilised, simply taking up space at home as an impulse purchase. By reconsidering our purchases and reducing the problem of overconsumption, we are helping to protect the environment. Make sure to think before you buy, and be a more conscious consumer.
We at Thryft aim to make used goods mainstream, and you should too. Whether you or your loved ones are buying books, furniture, or clothes, why not check to see if there are pre-loved options available first? Not only are such options more friendly on your wallet, buying second-hand is also much more environmentally friendly — you will be preventing a completely usable item from going into the landfill, extending its lifespan and helping to save resources. This will allow you to do good for the planet with every purchase.
Reduce Electricity and Water Usage
When you reduce your energy usage, you are playing a role in helping the environment. The electricity that we consume is generated via the burning of fossil fuels such as gas, coal, and oil in power plants, resulting in greenhouse gas emissions also being produced which worsens global warming.
Hence, it is important for us to take steps to reduce electricity usage such as switching off appliances after use, setting the temperature of air-conditioners at 25°C or higher, and choosing energy-efficient appliances.
On the other hand, reducing water usage also plays a part in helping to mitigate climate change, as the energy needed to filter, heat, and pump water to your home can then be reduced. There are many quick and easy water-saving tips for households to follow, such as washing clothes on full load, turning off the shower when soaping, and turning off the tap when brushing your teeth.
Reuse & Recycle
While reusing items is an incredibly simple task, many people neglect to do so despite its convenience. Rather than simply disposing of items in landfills for good, goods that are still in usable condition can be donated or given to your local organisations to offer them a new lease of life and reduce waste.
Besides cutting down on what we throw away, opting to properly dispose of trash in recycling bins rather than trash cans is another small yet effective step towards a sustainable lifestyle. It is however important to know what items can or cannot be recycled so that we use the bins properly and ensure they do not get contaminated by other trash. For instance, while common materials that can be recycled include glass, paper, plastic and metal, single-use packaging such as disposable containers and cups often cannot be recycled as they are contaminated with food. Most bins will contain helpful labels for you, so do check them first to confirm that your items are suitable for recycling!
Currently, there even exist Reverse Vending Machines in certain countries that encourage people to recycle more by offering rewards for doing so. As more people continue to do their part for the environment, even such small gestures can lead to sustainable outcomes that will help create a healthier, greener Earth.
If you would like to recycle your pre-loved books, consider donating them to us through our trade-in page.
Choose Public Transport
Did you know that according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, a typical passenger vehicle emits about 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year? In view of the harmful effects cars and private vehicles have on our Earth and their contribution to global warming, public transport is a much more viable alternative that will lead to better environmental outcomes.
Why not opt for public transport or travelling on foot instead of relying on cars? That way, you can help the environment and stay healthy at the same time. While going green may initially seem like a daunting task, all that it really involves is picking up new lifestyle habits that will make the planet healthier for you and future generations to come.
While adjusting our personal lifestyle choices is important, so too is advocating for change and promoting environmentally friendly initiatives to others where possible. Whether it be through spreading the word to others, volunteering, or more, there are many ways you can be an environmental advocate and help shape the future of our planet for the better.
Everything starts with one person, but why not advocate for more to join your cause? By educating others on the benefits of going green, you will be better able to achieve a sustainable impact when more people join your efforts in a show of solidarity. By helping others understand the value and importance of our natural resources, more will be prompted to take action and join us in doing good for the planet.
Apart from educating others, it is also important that you ensure you yourself are up to date on the latest environmental issues so that you can be a better environmental advocate and encourage more to do their part.
Promote Sustainable Brands
While a growing number of people are expressing interest in adopting more sustainable habits, many choose not to due to a lack of knowledge of environmentally friendly brands available for them to support. In such cases, promoting sustainable brands and initiatives becomes crucial in order to encourage people who were previously unaware of such organisations to support them and their meaningful services.
If you truly find the work that an organisation does and the causes it supports to be admirable, sharing it with others so that they can also find value in it is undoubtedly a win-win situation. You will be helping these sustainable enterprises, which often go unnoticed, raise awareness of their cause while encouraging others to contribute at the same time.
Hold Companies Accountable
While it is encouraging to see more companies endeavour to go green, consumers also have to be critical and aware of greenwashing. Greenwashing, also called "green sheen", is a deceitful marketing tactic where a company spends more time and money on marketing itself as 'sustainable' than on actually minimising its environmental impact. A classic example would be when Volkswagen admitted to cheating emissions tests by attaching a device to vehicles, with software which could detect when it was undergoing an emissions test and hence alter its performance accordingly.
This is because while individual action is important, it is admittedly not enough in comparison to the actions of businesses and organisations, as most of the pollution in the world today is still being done and caused by a select few companies. With that in mind, it is crucial that we continue to do our part as customers to hold companies accountable. Being an activist and calling out environmentally-unfriendly actions taken by businesses are ways that we can ensure that the companies are held accountable, and deliver on their promises. In doing so, we will be able to ensure that greater change can be done in the name of saving the planet.
If you're looking to take a more active approach to mitigating climate change beyond small lifestyle habits, then volunteering might be for you! By volunteering your time to environmental organisations, you will be able to actively participate in making a difference to the environment, through activities such as community clean-ups and launching sustainable projects.
Volunteering can be an incredibly fulfilling and meaningful experience, and can help you gain better insights and understanding of environmental issues and causes. Through this, you will be able to contribute to the future sustainability of our planet in an effective and valuable way.
As we take today to reflect on our consumption habits and the state of our planet, let's resolve to do our best in adopting and advocating for sustainable practices. We hope you will be able to put the tips we have given into practice, and do more for the sake of our planet and only home.
Happy World Environment Day, and here's to building a sustainable future together!