Student Blog: Climate Change Solutions: Taking Individual Action

As part of the Centre's Global Schools' Programme, students research and write their own blog. Click below to read this week's full essay.

Climate Change Solutions – Individual Action

By

Deirdre Boland, St. Paul’s Community College

Alannah Walsh, St. Paul’s Community College

Rebecca Cleare, Newtown Secondary School

Briony Hoyle, Newtown Secondary School

Kelly Burke, Our Lady of Mercy Secondary School

Shannon Whelan, Our Lady of Mercy Secondary School

 

 

Reduce, reuse, recycle is a phrase used to describe a system of reducing waste, reusing materials and recycling. This helps in reducing pollution on the planet and improving litter problems. The phrase was coined to make remembering the recycling mantra easier. As society begin to learn more about the 3 R's, an increasing number of opportunities to engage in the practices emerged. Schools and communities work to develop curriculums, events and programs with the overall goal of every person understanding the importance of protecting the planet.

 

The first R is reduction. We create tonnes of rubbish every year and it’s out of control. We can try to avoid productions such as paper plates or plastic cutlery. We can also only buy food that is necessary so we don’t throw out uneaten food. Over 1/3 of food bought by Americans each week is thrown out. We can also try to reuse items such as clothes by donating to the needy. We can also reduce food wastage by donating to shelters. We can easily recycle goods such as milk jugs and plastic bottles. These are real life examples of utilising the Three R`s.

Climate change is a big issue globally however us individually can reduce the effects by making small changes to our everyday habits.  Public transport is a vital weapon in the fight against climate change.

By 2025, almost 60% of the worlds’ population will be living in urban areas. If we do nothing, the Carbon Dioxide emissions related to urban transport will increase by 30% by 2025.

There are many advantages to using public transport for example it saves money and reduces stress but it also helps reduce air pollution as it moves many people efficiently compared to a person moving in a single occupant vehicle.

Walking is the most efficient way of reducing gas emissions into our atmosphere and contributing to climate change as no gasses are released.

By walking and using public transport everyone individually can make a positive change in the environment.

Plastic bags have an enormous negative impact on the environment. Plastic bags do not biodegrade, they photodegrade (break down into smaller pieces). The impact of plastic bag litter is felt on wildlife both in the marine environment and in rural areas. On average it takes between 400 and 1000 years for this process to take place. Particles contaminate the soil and water ways and animals accidentally ingest them. When the particles enter the ocean they are carried with the current and eventually end up in a massive whirlpool called a gyre.

Tens of thousands of whales, birds, seals and turtles are killed every year from plastic bag litter in the marine environment as they often mistake plastic bags for food.  In some locations there is 46 times more plastic than available food for marine animals. Plastic bags cause over 100,000 sea turtle and other marine animal deaths annually. Plastic bags cannot be digested or passed by an animal so it stays in the gut, this can prevent food digestion and lead to a very slow and painful death. As plastic bags can take up to 1000 years to break down, once an animal dies and decays after ingesting plastic, the plastic is then freed back into the marine environment to carry on killing other wildlife.

The best solution we have to protect our oceans is to try to reduce the use of plastic/plastic bags as much as possible and try to prevent plastic from entering our water ways in the first place.  There are many small ways in which you can have an impact, such as weaning yourself off disposable plastics, stop buying water in disposable bottles, stop using microbeads- these are tiny plastic beads in many beauty products and they are so small that they escape water filteration systems and pollute the ocean and drinking water. Most importantly recycle and re-use bags, containers, and any other plastic.

In conclusion, individual action can make a big difference in solving climate change. Reduce, reuse, recycle is a helpful reminder for both young and old; that we can take simple measures to make a big difference. Our reduction in using plastic bags significantly reduces plastic wastage in our oceans. This is a serious environmental problem. Nearly every major city in the world has a functioning, cheap public transport system. If we all utilised these systems, we could significantly cut down on car fumes. Our individual actions can make a huge impact on society if everyone makes an effort.