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Value Sustainability before you are eliminated!

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By: Irtiza Khurshid and Mohmod Irfan Shah

“Ninety-seven years after a devastating nuclear apocalypse wipes out almost all life on Earth. Thousands of people now live in a space station orbiting Earth, which they call the ‘Ark’. Three generations have been born in space. Still, when life-support systems on the ‘Ark’ begin to fail, one hundred juvenile detainees are sent to Earth in the last attempt to determine whether it is habitable or not. Or at least save resources for the remaining residents of the ‘Ark’.”

This was the story plot of American post-apocalyptic science fiction television series. It is very scary for every human being to even imagine what, if any, such a thing would occur in a realistic world. What if, after a few years’ Earth will no longer be sustainable?

Since the rise in technology, humankind has no doubt distanced selves from the natural world, and we have even forgotten how Nature is continuously supporting our life system. Earth has provided everything humans needed to survive and thrive, what we call ‘ecosystem services, and we cannot deny our reliance on the natural world. But the question is, do we even consider Earth an irreplaceable part of our lives? Do we care about it? What are we doing about climate change or the alarming rate of Global warming? Are we living in a sustainable environment? No, we are becoming selfish for ourselves and our future generation too. We do not take our exhausting natural resources seriously, and we will have to suffer because of it if we close our eyes right now. Humanity’s biggest learning challenge is sustainable development.

How are we supposed to incorporate sustainability into our lives? Sustainability is just a lifestyle we can adopt by which we can conform, lessening the use of detrimental products to reduce their carbon footprint. Our health is directly related to or proportional to the environment’s health. By conserving natural resources and protecting global ecosystems, we can ensure the well-being of humankind for now and for the future.

Incorporating sustainability into daily life is much more accessible than we think. Growing our food to maintain a garden can promote sustainability. Green Spaces aren’t just crucial for our state of mind in urban areas, but they can play an important role in offsetting carbon emissions. Practicing a minimalist lifestyle ensures that everything we own is put to its maximum purpose and cut out anything unnecessary. This one will recycle more, use less, and be more mindful of the items to emphasize sustainability.

Just look around; whether you need them or not, you are inescapably surrounded by material things. Every amount of this material we use is part of a vast worldwide action network that is steadily robbing people of their emotional well-being, depleting Earth’s resources, and harming the habitats of our planet. The Anthropocene, a new period in which humans are the main protagonists of global ecological change, has begun. Although Nature and human civilization have long interacted, scientists are now drawing clear conclusions on the links between human actions and the grave modern instability of the Earth’s natural processes. The recorded history of human consumption and the waste it generates show that human activities have crossed the line between an Earth-System operating space that is balanced and ecological instability.

Numerous issues plague the Earth. One of the most significant issues is deforestation. People are aware that they shouldn’t remove flora, but they do so in reality, ignoring the need to protect the environment.

Another major issue that contributes to the degradation of the biotic and abiotic components of the Earth is unchecked overpopulation. Although the population is growing, the amount of land remains the same. To save the planet, we must thus manage these elements. The world can only be saved if trash is appropriately collected, natural resources are used wisely, and various forms of pollution are controlled. Global warming and climate change are currently hot topics.

The most significant danger to our Earth is plastic. Plastic never goes away. It takes millions of years for plastic to decompose. Plastic has been produced more quickly than any other material since the 1970s. By 2050, it is predicted that the world’s production of plastic will increase by 1,100 million tonnes. A whopping 36% of all plastics are used in packing, including single-use items for food and drink containers disposed of in landfills or as uncontrolled garbage in a whopping 85% of cases. Additionally, we have noticed a concerning trend toward single-use plastic goods intended to be discarded after only one brief usage. We can significantly reduce environmental hazards by switching to alternative reusable items and ditching single-use things.

According to the Plastic soup foundation, in just one human lifetime, the annual global production of plastic has surged dramatically. Three hundred sixty-eight million tonnes in 2019 compared to 2 million in 1950. These numbers come directly from the plastics industry, but since synthetic fibres are not included, the production is far higher. Only in 2000 was plastic introduced to the market entirely—more than half. In 20252, it is anticipated that production will rise, even more, reaching around 600 million tonnes. This is about equivalent to the weight of the planet’s entire population today!

Can we save the planet Earth?

The reply is “yes,” but with a lot of caveats. Here are a few suggestions we need to undertake immediately.

The 3R Strategy

We can conserve the environment by 3Rs, i.e., recycling, reducing, and reusing trash. Individuals should primarily focus on saving the planet since the land is polluted, making it a landfill. Uncontrolled trash is the source of the spread of many diseases. The 3R (Reduce, Reuse, and Recycling) strategy of waste management is the only one that allows for the environmental sustainability and preservation of resources of Nature. Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle garbage to protect and maintain natural resources. Protecting and encouraging natural resources will indeed help save the planet. To preserve mother earth, we must act locally while thinking internationally. We should consider the Earth the world’s home, where all living things are housed.

Reducing use of Plastic Bags

The use of plastic bags impacts the environment. They pose a specific threat to animal species and take several centuries to degrade. Every year, a large number of marine creatures perish as a result of mistaking chemically laced plastic bags for food. Many animals suffocate after being caught in plastic bags. Refusing shop bags when your product can be carried without them or bringing your bags is a smart strategy. Regardless of whether they are intended to be “reusable,” use and reuse all of the bags — paper, plastic, and fabric — that have been gathering in the closet over the years. Use them to line trash cans or to pick up litter if they are too dirty to carry your new items. Finally, dispose of them appropriately by recycling them, if possible.

Your Shopping List

We purchase far more than we need, and most consumer goods are hardly used. Increased energy use and pollutant emissions during the extraction of natural resources and during the manufacture, transportation, and disposal of commodities are all consequences of excessive personal consumption of products. These expenditures can be significantly decreased by avoiding impulse purchases and conducting a genuine need analysis before making a purchase. When you need to purchase something, seek long-lasting substitutes with the least amount of packaging and carbon footprint feasible, and preserve them in good condition.

The UNEP Life Cycle Unit’s Claudia Giacovelli, a program officer, states that single-use products are more harmful to the environment than the materials they are composed of.

Use of Natural-Renewable Resources

Solar energy systems and power plants don’t emit greenhouse gases or pollute the air. When solar energy replaces the usage of other energy sources with more significant environmental impacts, it can positively affect the environment and the economy of the nation. We can prefer Electric vehicles to gasoline or diesel cars because they release fewer greenhouse gases and air pollutants.

It can be concluded that sustainable development promotes consistency in the demands placed on the environment; future generations can use the resources because of it. A strategy for conserving the resources that nature provides is sustainable development. This can be accomplished by incorporating environmentally friendly materials and techniques that won’t have a significant negative influence on the environment. We must use the resources that are at our disposal sustainably to prevent their extinction for use by future generations.

Irtiza Khurshid is an Assistant Professor at SSM College of Engineering, Parihaspora Pattan. Mohmod Irfan Shah is a student pursuing B.E. Civil Engineering from SSM College of engineering. He is the author of the book, ‘Surviving the Apocalyptic society’.


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