Do you know our lifestyle is surrounded by unsustainability? It is so hard to believe that things that make our lives easy are dangerous to the environment, which means they are not sustainable. New technology evolves to resolve a problem but there is no guarantee that the invention may not have an adverse impact on the environment or living beings. The big concerns today on environmental issues like pollution, biodiversity, climate change, and social issues like poverty, poor wages, and exploitation of human workers are making the technology revolutionize to be sustainable. Below 20 things in our daily life are unsustainable for our environment and planet.
Do you know there is an estimated 1.4 billion cars on the road, putting the vehicle saturation at around 18 percent? Isn’t it a huge share of air pollution?
Does it mean we should stop vehicles?
No, it doesn’t mean vehicles get banned and we stop traveling. Transportation provides great aid to our daily needs. We can not survive without having transportation. Whether it is food, clothes, or moving any other necessary items for people’s use or for transferring industrial goods from one place to another vehicles are our primary needs.
Can’t there be a sustainable way of running vehicles on road?
Yes, we do. Though having no vehicles or reducing numbers of vehicles can be the best sustainable way there are other ways we can use vehicles sustainably. For example, using public transportation, walking wherever possible, reducing the use of private cars, switching off on the signal or in traffic are sustainable ways to use vehicles.
2. Air Conditioner
AC systems require enormous amounts of energy to operate, and fossil fuels burned for electricity contribute to ozone depletion. HVAC units increase greenhouse gas emissions through increased energy use, but they also leak hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which are thousands of times more potent than carbon dioxide.
Surprisingly, air conditioners are kept on at places like shopping malls, restaurants, offices with a lesser number of people than the total capacity. In many homes, unknowingly or knowingly AC is kept on without use, many people love sleeping with thick blanket keeping AC on the whole night. Nobody is against using AC at all but what is necessary is awareness about the concerns.
3. Elevators and Escalators
Usually, elevators or escalators are meant to be used by multiple people and have a feature of running continuously. But in the reality only a few people use it at times and also when it keeps running electric power consumption remains the same no matter how many people are getting on it.
While the most sustainable way to climb to above floors or to get down is using stairs; sensor-based escalators being used in shopping malls and cinema halls today are great examples of sustainable use of escalators.
4. Washing Machine
When the washing machine was not invented many of us or our ancestors washed clothing with our hands. The technology up-gradation has brought us today to automatic washing where washing, rinsing, tumble dry, air dry, and so on can be done with almost zero effort. A washing machine of 6.5 kg capacity uses 60 to 130 liters of water per wash depending on the start rating. On the other hand, manual washing could hardly take 30 to 40 liters of water. Unless we re-invent a technology to meet the water consumption equals to manual wash it’s a definite matter of concern.
As simple as preserving food, vegetables, fruits, and drinks refrigerators are also bad for the environment. The halocarbons in refrigeration appliances contribute to the greenhouse effect. These gases prevent heat from escaping from the earth and deplete the ozone layer that filters the sun’s rays. The greenhouse effect and ozone layer depletion contribute to global warming. The most common HFC found in domestic fridges is HFC-134a, which has a global warming potential of 3,400 times that of carbon dioxide.
6. Electric Appliances and Lights
Keeping lights on without use consumes electric power unnecessarily. Lights used to decorate buildings, shopping malls, parks, highways, and so on but at times these are kept on without being used by people. Many of us unknowingly may not bother to switch off appliances like TV, laptop, fan, lights, etc which causes electric power wastage. This may be negligible when seen individually but is huge for the world’s population of 8 billion.
7. Swimming Pools
Maintaining a pool requires energy to heat it, chemicals to keep it clean, and lots and lots of water. Moreover, water used per person in a swimming pool is very low.
Making the right pool choices can help to use less energy and fewer chemicals, so your pool can be far less harmful to the environment. This way, you can still enjoy all the benefits of having your own swimming pool in your backyard while taking important steps to protect the planet.
Plastic is versatile, hygienic, lightweight, flexible, and highly durable. It accounts for the largest usage of plastics worldwide and is used in numerous applications like packaging, containers, bottles, electronic appliances, storage, furniture, and so on.
Plastic is manufactured from synthetic materials derived from fossil fuels. The process used to make them increases the demand for petroleum-based products and therefore perpetuates our dependence on these non-renewable resources. Packaging made from petroleum-based materials does not degrade naturally.
9. Certain Clothing
Impacts from the fashion industry include over 92 million tons of waste produced per year and 1.5 trillion liters of water consumed, alongside chemical pollution and high levels of CO2 emissions. The use of chemicals for textile and apparel processing contributes a big tine to water and land pollution.
The biggest concern about clothes is the ratio of production Vs. consumption which is as low as one-third. Moreover, clothes are used for very short duration than it is meant to last.
The industry is in process of revolutionizing the complete supply chain with sustainable production. Organic cotton, BCI cotton, up-cycling, and recycling are the main steps towards sustainability.
10. Leather Products
The biggest problem with leather products is the source of the raw material which comes from animals. Every leather is not produced without cruelty. Another problem is leather processing needs too much chemical and water.
Without tanning, leather shoes would rot right off your feet. Animal skin is turned into finished leather by the application of a variety of dangerous substances, including mineral salts, formaldehyde, coal-tar derivatives, and various oils, dyes, and finishes—some of them cyanide-based.
Paper is based on wood, a natural and renewable material. As young trees grow they absorb CO2 from the atmosphere. The life cycle of paper is damaging to the environment from beginning to end. It starts off with a tree being cut down and ends its life by being burned – emitting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
Paper production uses up lots of water. When paper rots, it emits methane, a greenhouse gas. Newspapers, magazines, books which are never read or used for any other purpose are causing harm to the environment directly or indirectly.
12. Electronic Wastes
The way in which we produce, consume, and dispose of e-waste is unsustainable. Global warming is just one issue cited by the report as it noted 98 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents were released into the atmosphere.
Surprisingly, we do not know or care what happens to electronic wastes once they are disposed of after expiry. Unfortunately, most e-waste ends up in landfills, where it can cause serious environmental problems because of containing toxic chemicals such as lead, mercury, and arsenic that pollute our soil and water and disrupt our ecosystems and our health.
13. Use of Geyser for Hot Water
The hotel industry is a big contributor to electric power consumption, precisely wastage. This service industry needs to keep hot water 24×7 for the convenience of their customers. So you can imagine how much power is utilized for keeping hot water 24×7 for the use of 20 to 30 minutes.
Even in homes, inappropriate use of geysers can make electricity wastage. In practicality, the amount of water heated may not be always utilized completely.
14. Food Wastes
Food is produced using our natural resources like land, water, air, and energy. When we waste food, we also waste the resources used to grow our food and all the energy used to process, package, and transport food from markets to our homes.
Moreover, when food is disposed of in landfills it breaks down in a way that can create greenhouse gases, including methane, which affects air quality and public health.
15. Toilet Flushes and Faucets
Flushing is the biggest water hog in the house. Older, conventional toilets can use 5 to 7 gallons per flush, but low-flow models use as little as 1.6 gallons. Since the average person flushes five times a day, the gallons can really add up.
Luxury toilet flushes and faucets produce about 80% water wastage in comparison to manual use. Above this, people’s carelessness to let water flow by keeping the tap open continuously while hand-wash or face-wash or brushing is another matter of concern.
Generally, furniture is made by cutting trees which is not good for the ecological balance. Nothing can replace trees which help in keeping the pollution level low and are responsible for soil and water conservation.
Furniture and appliances are responsible for around 30% of greenhouse gas emissions and non-renewable energy consumption and 15% of primary energy consumption comparing to the overall impacts of the building. Particleboard usually contains formaldehyde in the resin used to bind the wood chips – it’s a known carcinogen and environmental toxin.
Chemicals are used almost everywhere. Whether agriculture, construction, manufacturing, textiles & apparel production, food processing, cleaning all are dependent on chemicals.
Not only are the major agricultural chemicals poisonous or toxic to human health and microorganisms in the soil, but they are also intoxicating pollinators and wildlife, running off into water bodies, polluting rivers, land, and wetlands.
18. Personal Care Products
Personal care products like soap, shampoo, toothpaste, face wash, etc do their most damage to the environment after they are washed down our sinks. The chemicals are recycled into our lakes, streams, rivers, and public water systems.
Face washes mostly contain plastic exfoliating micro-beads, which are being termed by researchers as a serious environmental problem. The beads are not filtered during sewage treatment due to their small size.
When released into water bodies, they are swallowed by fish and other marine animals that harm their health and could poison their organs or damage their gills.
Livestock affected by toxins that end up in soil can suffer reproductive, genetic, and developmental changes as well as many types of cancer. Brands adding one or two natural ingredients masking other toxic ingredients are rapidly depleting natural resources.
Cosmetic packaging can take hundreds of years to break down in landfills. Toxic chemicals in cosmetics washed down drains end up in oceans damaging the ecosystem and causing death to aquatic species.
Quite possibly the most generally delivered ozone-harming substance on the planet is methane. This gas traps heat inside the climate. As exploration hypothesizes, the greatest maker of methane gas is cultivated animals. In this sense, the creation of creature items is a huge donor of methane, an ozone-harming substance generally from creature excrement and enteric aging.
By proceeding to use meat items, the ranchers keep on expanding the stockpile of the products by keeping more animals and thusly prompting more ozone-depleting substances. This cycle breeds more issues for the climate. Elective protein sources ought to be sought after to give food to individuals without the ecological expense that cultivated food involves.
Hopefully, this article would help you understand the sustainability concerns surrounding our livelihood. I believe after reading this article you may feel the same as I feel about sustainability in our lives. Please do share your thoughts and findings so that others also could get benefitted from it and do not forget to share this article with your family members, friends, and colleagues.