Live Simply and Sustainably: Green Tips to Beat Climate Change
Climate change is the most life-threatening environmental challenge facing the entire humanity today. The buildup of man-made gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and nitrous oxides (N2O) in the upper atmosphere is blocking the sun’s heat rather than deflecting it back to space. This entrapment of heat brings about changes in temperature and wind and rainfall patterns, leading to warmer temperatures, intense droughts, increased tropical cyclones, rising sea levels, habitat loss, heat stress and the spread of tropical diseases. Climate experts believe that the unsettling changes in the global climate are likely to persist and get much worse if humans fail to get rid of our polluting habits and take action now. According to the report of UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), it is likely that 1.1 to 3.2 billion people will experience water scarcity, 200 to 600 million will be threatened by hunger, and millions will suffer from recurrent coastal flooding due to climate change. A warmer Earth will result to ecological disturbances that could interrupt the relationship between certain plants and animals and the environment. A change in the balance of temperature, rainfall and soil type could endanger the planet’s biodiversity. The IPCC report predicts that 20 to 30 percent of species will be threatened with extinction if temperatures rise 1.5° C to 2.5°C, and if temperatures rise by 4°C, “few ecosystems will be able to adapt.” Higher temperatures will bleach and wreck coral, destroying the reefs that protect seashores from storm damage. Coastal flooding could cause salt water to flow into areas where salt is harmful such as farmlands and watersheds. Low-lying communities and island nations will be submerged as the ocean levels rise with the melting of the Artic ice. For the Philippines, climate change will mean hotter and more humid summers, elevated sea levels, increased flooding of coastal areas, food shortages and hunger as droughts and floods could wipe out agricultural lands. The socio-economic, environmental and health costs of climate change to the country would be huge and devastating. Take Action Now! The EcoWaste Coalition, a network of public interest groups working on waste and pollution issues, offers the following “green tips” to protect our local environment as well as the planet. Practical suggestions are listed below on how to 1) save energy, 2) conserve water, 3) travel wisely, 4) shop smartly, 5) avoid toxic products, 6) reduce, reuse, repair, recycle, respond, and 7) voice your preference and change policies. These “green tips” are potent strategies for preventing greenhouse gas emissions that every individual and household can emulate. These “green” tips were contributed mainly by Add Up!, Buklod Tao Foundation, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Greenpeace Southeast Asia, Health Care Without Harm, and Mother Earth Foundation, and endorsed by several other green groups. Living simply and following these “green” tips will certainly help decrease the demand for fossil fuels and trees, divert trash away from landfills and incinerators, and in the process reduce the production of greenhouse gases that are changing the global climate.
CO2 emissions from the burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil, gas and petrol to produce the energy that runs our power stations, industries, hospitals, homes and cars are driving climate change. We need to break from our dependence on fossil fuel energy and switch to clean renewable sources. Conserving electricity, which is mostly generated locally by coal-fired power plants, will mean less CO2 releases.
- Plant trees around your patio to add shade, regulate the temperature, absorb CO2 emissions and discharge oxygen.
- Conserve energy by maximizing natural air flow. Open the window and improve the air ventilation to minimize the need for electric fans, air-conditioners or humidifiers. If an air conditioner must be used, clean the filter regularly for efficient performance.
- Maximize natural lighting. Our country is endowed with much sunlight – why not take advantage of natural lighting whenever possible? When buying light bulbs, choose the low-energy, long-life compact fluorescent lamps (CFL) that provide just as much light but use 75% less power.
- Turn off lights when not in use. Lights consume energy and make the place warmer as they give off heat.
- Choose electrical appliances that consume less power but yield the same output, and need lower stand-by energy. Be guided by the energy efficiency labels and check product manuals thoroughly when buying refrigerators, washing machines and air-conditioners. Efficient appliances save energy and lots of money.
- Unplug your computer, television, stereo, microwave, cell phone charger and other electronic appliances and gadgets instead of just turning them off. Leaving them plugged in or on stand-by power mode still consumes electricity.
- Avoid air purifiers and fresheners as well insect repellants that plug into electric outlets. Go for natural methods of eliminating room odor or repelling mosquitoes and other household insects.
- Set your fridge temperature at 5°C. Leave sufficient room around the top and back to let the heat escape.
- Avoid things that are battery-operated (or use rechargeable or solar rechargeable ones if batteries are unavoidable).
- Dry your clothes on a clothesline instead of using an electric dryer.
Fossil fuel energy is widely used to pump out and transport water into our homes and communities. Turning the tap off and ensuring that not a single drop of water is wasted will help conserve energy and minimize greenhouse gas releases.
- Protect our watersheds from all forms of contamination. Resist polluting human activities such as the dumping or landfilling of wastes, especially in watershed areas, water bodies and other environmentally-critical areas.
- Conserve water all the time. Don’t waste it even if you can afford to pay the bill or someone else is paying it. Encourage your housemates or co-workers to “turn it off” as every drop counts.
- Report water losses such as burst pipes and open hydrants to the proper authorities.
- Fix leaky water pipes, dripping faucets or toilet tanks immediately. Repair or replace defective washers, connectors, hoses or other faulty parts.
- Install water saving faucets.
- Use a water-saving showerhead. The ultra-low-flow version delivers high comfort for only half the water normally used.
- Choose a dual-flush toilet and let users select a big or minimum flush as needed.
- Avoid flushing the toilet unnecessarily. Put discarded tissues in the bin rather than in the toilet bowl.
- Don’t let the water run while shaving, brushing your teeth or soaping your hands or face.
- Shorten your shower time, turn off the tap when soaping and don’t use more water than you need.
- Organize your laundry schedule and wait until you’ve got a full load before you use the washing machine.
- Save laundry water to rinse used bottles, cans and other recyclables, wash blinds and rugs, flush toilet, wash car wheels, or clean the driveway.
- Never let water go down the drain when there may be other uses for it. Filter gray water from sinks and showers and use it to water the lawn, clean the sidewalk and for other purposes.
- Do not waste gallons of water hosing down your driveway or footpath. Use the walis tingting (broomstick) to sweep the place clean.
- Wash your car the natural way – wait until it rains.
- Use a pan or bowl of water when scrubbing or peeling fruits and vegetables rather than lett the tap run.
- Save water used to wash fruits and vegetables for rinsing dirty dishes or for watering plants.
- Don’t use running water to thaw meat or other frozen foods. Thaw frozen stuff in the refrigerator overnight.
- When boiling water, fill the kettle with just enough for your needs.
- Use fewer cooking utensils and dishes to cut down on the water needed for dishwashing.
- Don’t rinse dishes under a running tap. Use a basin.
- Water wisely; don’t over water the plants.
- Work with your barangay in implementing a water conservation program not only during the summer months, but all year-round.
Too many vehicles spew out a toxic brew of CO2, N2O, carbon monoxide and dirty particulates into the atmosphere. Reducing the number of cars on the road will relieve our communities of traffic congestion and fumes. We need to promote and support sustainable transportation and lessen the pollutants being pumped out into the air.
- Walk, cycle or use public transportation modes such as the “padyak” (pedicab), mass railway transit (LRT, MRT, PNR), river ferry, and non-belching tricycles, jeepneys and buses.
- Use your car less to reduce fuel consumption, cut down on vehicular emissions and help ease traffic congestion in the city.
- Plan and combine your trips instead of making separate trips to do your errands.
- Pay your bills online or have the bills automatically charged to your credit card every month to cut on road trips.
- Share the journey to school, workplace, market or church with neighbors and friends. Organize a car pool when possible. It saves energy and enhances positive relationships too.
- Keep your car engine well-maintained; regularly check the spark plugs, oxygen sensors, air filters, hoses, belts and tires to ensure that your car is operating efficiently.
- Keep your tires properly inflated and the wheels aligned.
- Travel only at the speeds required by the road conditions and traffic regulations.
- Drive properly. Avoid aggressive driving as rapid acceleration and braking can decrease gas mileage.
- Don’t idle. Turn off your engine if you are stopping for more than 10 seconds. Idling for over 10 seconds uses more gas than restarting the engine.
- Don’t overload your vehicle. Traveling light and packing smart will increase fuel economy. Putting your stuff inside rather than on the compartment or roof will minimize drag and increase mileage.
- Remove unnecessary stuff from the trunk.
- Bring your own water jug so that you avoid buying water in plastic bottles.
- If you are shopping for a vehicle, don’t buy an SUV.
BUY LESS, SHOP SMARTLY
The extraction, transportation, processing, manufacturing, marketing and advertising of products consume lots of energy and all result in greenhouse gas emissions. Every time you buy something, remember that energy has gone into producing that item and getting it to you. Consuming less means decreasing the demand for fossil fuel energy and less greenhouse gas emissions.
- Bring your own bayong or reusable carry bag made of cloth or plant-based materials when you go to your favorite sari-sari store, bakery, wet market, supermarket or department store.
- Say no to plastic bags, which can take up to 1,000 years to decompose in dumps or landfills that release climate changing gases.
- When a reusable bag is not on hand and you’re buying only a few items, ask yourself if you need a bag at all.
- If you take paper or plastic bags or boxes for groceries and the like, use them until they are worn out.
- Minimize your shopping trips by planning your monthly purchases of household and personal essentials.
- Check for things that can be repaired or reused before purchasing new ones. Creatively reuse things for work and leisure.
- Select items that are durable and can be repaired, reused, recycled or passed on to other users. Go for quality products that will last longer.
- Consume less: do not succumb to impulsive buying and do not buy a dozen when need just one or two.
- Reject items with excessive packaging; choose products with the least packaging.
- Avoid consuming products packed in sachets. If your budget will allow, buy in bulk to cut down on packaging waste.
- Close the loop: buy products with recycled materials.
- Use products with recycled content whenever possible and read the labels to know which ones have the highest percentage of recycled content.
- Encourage housemates, neighbors and other consumers to patronize products made of recycled materials.
- Support the local economy by buying local in lieu of imported products. Local products need less energy to transport them to you. Buying Filipino helps the country’s economy too.
- Buy fresh instead of processed foods, which require lots more energy starting from extraction, manufacturing, transport, advertising and marketing.
- Keep your diet as local as possible. Buy locally-grown and seasonal produce to cut down the distance your food has to travel from farm gate to the dining table. This, of course, will also benefit local farmers and support the local economy.
- Don’t use straws for drinks and shakes as straws are simply unnecessary.
- Use your mobile phone or your personal digital assistant (PDA) to read e-books rather than conventional deadtree books that need to be bleached by chemicals and shipped from across the globe.
- Read your daily dose of news on the web.
- Be an ecological person: consume less, share more and live simply. Ask yourself these questions before making a purchase: “Do I, or the person I am buying this for, really need this? Is there another product that would serve the same purpose more sustainably? Will this last a long time? Do I know how this item was made, how it will be used and how it will be disposed of? Where was this made and under what circumstances? Is this made from renewable materials and have these materials been extracted or harvested in a sustainable manner?”
- Remember this: The most environmentally sustainable product is the one you never bought in the first place.
REDUCE, REUSE, REPAIR, RECYCLE, RESPOND
The byproduct CH4 resulting from the decomposition of organic garbage sitting in dumps or landfills has a warming effect that is 23 times as aggressive as that of CO2. Waste incinerators generate something like one ton of CO2 for each ton of municipal discards burned. We need to reduce our waste size, segregate at source, and divert from landfills and incinerators as much reusable, recyclable and biodegradable discards as we can. Reusing and recycling delay the need for resource extraction and manufacturing and thus minimize greenhouse gas emissions. We need to shift to a Zero Waste paradigm where products and processes are redesigned so that wastes and the greenhouse gases produced by those wastes are eliminated.
- Lead a low-carbon lifestyle – use less of the earth’s finite resources, reduce your ecological footprint, and conserve energy
- Trash is made by mixing wastes; segregate your discards at the point of generation, clean and dry them.
- Don’t bin your waste. Repair, reuse or recycle as many times as possible.
- Compost your kitchen waste, yard trimmings and other organic waste and use the byproduct compost as nutrient rich soil for your garden.
- Promote global worming, not warming. Try vermicomposting or other composting techniques that will suit your needs.
- Never send your organic discards for disposal in dumps or landfills.
- Don’t throw hazardous household wastes such as batteries, paint, paint thinner, or car fluids in the bin or down the drain.
- Never burn discards, including leaves and yard trimmings: it’s polluting, wasteful and illegal.
- Pick reusable products that can be cleaned and used time and again. Avoid single-use disposables. Always opt for reusables mugs, lunch containers, batteries, pens, razors, etc.
- Reuse bags, bottles, cans and other containers to extend their life span.
- Consider borrowing, renting or sharing seldom-used items to save money and conserve resources.
- Sell or give surplus items to charities or neighbors instead of throwing them out.
- Share practical information on waste prevention, reduction, recycling and composting to community members and friends.
- Work for the closure of waste dumps.
- Campaign for ecological alternatives to landfills and incinerators, which endanger people’s health and the environment.
- Seek the establishment of Ecology Centers or Materials Recovery Facilities in your community. Support people’s initiatives to ecologically manage discards and generate healthy and sustainable community jobs.
- Work with community leaders to tap waste pickers as formal partners in the safe and organized recycling of segregated discards.
AVOID TOXIC PRODUCTS
- Reduce hazards at home and in the workplace by using safer products or practices to achieve the task at hand.
- Look for and try out nontoxic substitutes for personal, household and office items containing hazardous chemicals.
- Avoid the use of polyvinyl chloride (also known as PVC or vinyl) in your home. The entire life cycle of products made from PVC pollutes the environment and your home. PVC items include shower curtains, flooring, and even some children’s toys.
- Say no to ozone-depleting aerosols.
- Use castor or mineral oils to lubricate switches and hinges instead of lubricants containing solvents.
- Choose water-based latex paints over solvent-based paints when painting your home. Never use lead-based paints.
VOICE YOUR PREFERENCE, CHANGE POLICIES
- Write to manufacturers to make them know of your preference for ecological products with less packaging and less hazardous components. Push manufacturers of your favorite products to implement take-back systems.
- Pressure local government officials to close illegal dumps and manage discards ecologically. Lobby for the implementation of the closure of waste dumps and the implementation of a Zero Waste policy.
- Conduct an environmental audit of the barangay, municipal, city or provincial offices and use the information gathered to suggest changes where needed.
- Pressure the government to stop all coal-related developments and oppose existing coal-fired power projects. Ask financial institutions to shift funding from coal to renewable energy projects.
- Demand that your utility company or local electric coop look into sourcing supply from small-scale green, renewable, independent power producers.
- Support and/or rally support for renewable energy and energy efficiency legislation with ambitious and legally-binding targets.
- Organize a community clean-up. Clear the storm drains. Clean up the beach.
- Organize a tree planting and stewardship program.
- Make your neighborhood bicycle-friendly.
Unit 320, Eagle Court Condominium, Matalino St.
Quezon City, Philippines
+63 2 9290376