The growth in industries, urbanization, mining, and increasing population has led to significant environmental issues linked to pollution and overconsumption of natural resources. There is an increase in garbage, which has contributed to the immense degradation of human beings' quality of living. Environmental pollution is a serious global challenge that needs effort from everyone on this planet to curb the level of pollution around us.
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Most Common Reasons for Environmental Pollution
Since the start of the industrial revolution started in the 19th century, environmental pollution has risen to a stage where it has become a global problem. The air we breathe, the water we drink, the soil our food comes from, and the entire ecosystem have affected the alarming rise in pollution. One of the massive drivers of environmental pollution is population growth, which has risen the demand for food and energy. The main activities that increase pollution are:
Fossil Fuel Combustion - This happens primarily by the industries and transportation system.
Synthetic Fertilizers and Pesticides - This happens in agriculture and affects the food we eat.
Chemicals - There is a growing use of complex chemicals globally.
Due to the above-mentioned activities, our environment is affected in the following ways:
Air Pollution - Nitrogen, ozone, sulfur, and particulate matter is present in the air we breathe. Industry and transports emit nitrogen into the atmosphere. We also get ammonia in our environment from agriculture. These form the ozone layer and increase its concentration.
Pollutants Release into Soils, and Aquatic Systems - The diffused urban, industrial, and agricultural sources pollute water (including groundwater) and soil. When agricultural fertilizers runoff into rivers and streams, the coastal ecosystem gets polluted with reactive nitrogen pollution.
R's to Save the Environment
The most basic way you can reduce environmental pollution is by not creating it in the first place. When a new product is brought into the market, it needs a lot of raw materials from the earth. Then there is the fabrication of the product which involves releasing pollution in the environment and transportation of the product. This is why the three r’s to save the environment must be adopted and sustained by all of us. The main reason for the waste hierarchy is to cut down the amount of waste thrown away and conserve natural resources. Each of us can contribute to this endeavor by:
Refusing to buy what we do not need.
Reusing items more than once.
Disposing items which we no longer need, at proper recycling centers.
The three R’s of waste management are suggested as a waste hierarchy that will guide you in creating a healthier environment:
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Reducing production and consumption is the first step in the waste hierarchy model. One can understand the concept of reuse by applying the simple logic that less waste means fewer items to reuse or recycle. To reduce, you must start the process by understanding the products you are using and their purpose. Some simple ways of reducing are:
Check if you can use something else for the same purpose, for example, a coffee pot and a cappuccino maker can be used interchangeably. So if you buy only one item, you are reducing the amount of production of another.
Examine if the item you want to buy is essential for your living. If you buy, it encourages the production of that item and creates more generative waste. Some ways of reducing paper waste are to print on both sides of the paper, use electronic mail rather than paper, use cloth napkins and not paper napkins, etc. You should buy durable goods and multi-tasking products.
Reuse of materials helps in conserving the environment as you do not increase the demand for a product by reusing an existing product. An example of reuse is the modular construction of office buildings and homes that uses discarded shipping containers. Some of the common items you can reuse are:
Old Pots and Jars - If you have them, use them to store spices or other stuff. You could also use them to store loose items in one place like cloth clips, computer wires, etc.
Tires - You could make a tire swing out of it or send it to the recycling station.
Newspaper - Use your old newspapers to pack items if shifting or otherwise too.
Used Wood - This can be used for woodcraft or in the fireplace.
Old Clothes - You could turn them into bags or cleaning rags.
Recycle is the last stage of the waste hierarchy. When you recycle, the discarded item is transformed again into a raw material that can be used to create another product. Most material on the earth can be recycled. You must carefully choose the products to recycle following the guideline outlined below:
You should buy from markets that make their products by utilizing recycled items.
Check for the recycling symbol at the bottom of the product to know if the product you are buying or using can be recycled or not.
Buy products that are made of recyclable materials like glass, paper, aluminum, etc. Aluminum can be used after multiple recycles too.
Avoid buying products that use hazardous materials which could make them difficult to recycle. It is best to buy non-toxic products as much as possible.
Advantages of Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle
The benefits obtained by the three R’s to save the environment are:
There is a reduction in the need to harvest new materials which reduce pollution.
The amount of waste thrown in the environment would significantly reduce; hence fewer toxins are spread.
There is a reduction in global warming as greenhouse gas emissions would reduce.
Waste will no longer be disposed of in a haphazard and uncontrolled manner. This eco-friendly way of managing waste limits the risk of damage to the environment.
It increases the use of renewable energy resources like wind, solar, geothermal, etc.
The three r’s boost the economy by generating jobs in resource management.
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