A polar bear foraging through a garbage dump … not exactly the place one would expect to see one of these iconic animals. We imagine polar bears walking across vast areas of pristine Arctic tundra, imprinting the snow below them with each colossal step. Those images will soon fade away with time and more images like this one will surface.
So, why is this polar foraging in a garbage dump? The answer is simple. There’s no ice for it to travel across to its wild hunting grounds. That’s because we have helped to melt it. Yes, that’s another truth. Human-caused greenhouse gas emissions have contributed to major losses of sea ice and has caused global warming. The more we emit, the hotter it gets, the warmer the seas become and the more ice melts. We no longer live in a society where we can ignore these issues in our daily lives. Each day, we are faced with a variety of choices and many of those
As polar bears are being forced to travel more to forage for food and human development expands further into the polar bear territory, these animals are also being threatened with our trash. Plainly, we spew greenhouse gas emissions and we also produce a ridiculously large amount of trash and waste that usually finds its way into the oceans. On average, we dump 8.8 million tons of plastic waste into the oceans every year, which really makes us think this polar bear is kind of lucky to only be paw-deep in garbage.
The fact is, we no longer live in a society where we can ignore these issues in our daily lives. Each day, we are faced with a variety of choices and many of those choices impact global warming.
The hard truth of global climate change is that you can’t refreeze what has been melted, but the other part of that truth is that it isn’t too late to mitigate impacts to humans and wildlife like polar bears.
These choices range from the products we purchase to the way we (and our food) commute.
What Can We Do?
Knowing what we do about the impact of climate change, it can be easy to feel defenseless or that this is a problem too large for us to even make a dent in. This, however, is hardly the case. While the carbon emissions of large industries like coal and oil need to be regulated, as an individual you have an incredible opportunity to start reducing your own carbon footprint. People are making small changes every day like choosing to walk or bike to work rather than driving, seeking out recycling bins for plastic waste, and even being mindful of the impact of their consumption choices. In keeping with this theme of doing small things, there is another solution that can have an enormously positive impact for the planet – and, it might just be the simplest one yet: changing the way you eat.
We all have the chance to lower our personal carbon footprints every time we sit down for a meal. By opting to eat fewer meat and dairy products in favor of plant-based alternatives, you can literally halve your own carbon footprint – yes, halve!
Why is this? Well, one of the largest drivers of greenhouse gas emissions is animal agriculture. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that livestock production is responsible for 14.5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, while other organizations like the Worldwatch Institute have estimated it could be as much as 51 percent. To learn more, check out One Green Planet’s #EatForThePlanet movement.
We can also make a huge dent in the plastic pollution problem by making smart daily decisions and avoiding disposable plastics whenever possible. To learn more about how you can reduce your plastic footprint, check out: 10 Simple Actions That Just Might Save Our World’s Oceans From Plastic, 18 Ways You Can Use A Mason Jar to Eliminate Unnecessary Plastic In Your Lifes, and 5 Reusable Products That Are Way Better Than Their Plastic Counterparts.
We all need to pitch in to stop the planet from becoming a melting puddle filled with plastic trash. Share this post and encourage others to take steps to reduce their impact on the world around us. We may have gotten ourselves into this mess, but we can also get us – and all the other animals who share the planet with us – out of it by making smart choices.
Let’s #CrushPlastic! Click the graphic below for more information.
Image source: Jenny E. Ross/International League of Conservation Photographers