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UNEP suggests ideas for planet-friendly holiday season
The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) suggested several ideas for planet-friendly holiday season worldwide.
“It is possible to have enjoyable and memorable holidays and buy and spend less this holiday season by embracing some changes in our consumer habits,” said Garrette Clark, an expert in sustainable living with the UNEP.
UNEP’s research shows that about two-thirds of greenhouse gas emissions are linked to household decisions. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that lifestyle changes could help slash planet-warming emissions by up to 70 percent by 2050.
The UNEP suggested purchasing home-made or upcycled gifts. This way would promote a circular economy that focuses on reducing waste and increasing reuse, recycling and recovery of products and materials.
It also suggests choosing sustainable fashion. People buy 60 percent more clothing today than 15 years ago, and each item is kept for only half as long. The toll on the planet is heavy – the fashion industry is the second-biggest consumer of water and is responsible for 2-8 percent of global carbon emissions.
The UNEP suggests buying locally made products and locally grown food. It can be more economical. It helps local businesses. And it cuts down on how far goods must travel, reducing the amount of fossil fuels burned during transportation.
It also called for opting for a vacation closer to home, and preferably in nature. This can be rewarding for health, the local economy, the environment, and pocketbook.
The UNEP also suggested buying second-hand gifts. This not only offers creative, unique gifts, but saves cash and encourages reuse.
It also called for swapping disposables for reusable. Every minute, the equivalent of one garbage truck of plastic is dumped into our ocean. Half of all plastic produced is designed for single-use purposes – used just once and then thrown away.
Plastic pollution can reduce ecosystems’ ability to adapt to climate change, directly affecting millions of people’s livelihoods, food production and well-being.
Addressing the problem of plastic pollution will require a full life-cycle approach in which consumers play a critical role. Each year, five trillion plastic bags are used, majority of which end up in oceans. Try to wrap gifts in recycled paper or reusable material such as cloth. Avoid disposable cups, plastic water bottles and food containers, replacing them with reusable items.
Before throwing away holiday wrapping, consider that every year, about 11.2 billion tonnes of solid waste is collected worldwide. The increasing volume and complexity of waste associated with the modern economy is posing a serious risk to ecosystems and human health.
The UNEP also called for reducing food waste. When shopping for holiday meal ingredients, avoid food waste by only buying what you need. One-third of all food produced in the world – approximately 1.3 billion tonnes – is squandered every year. Almost 570 million tonnes is lost or wasted at the household level. This waste needlessly contributes to biodiversity loss, pollution and climate change.
To avoid waste, pack left-overs and find new recipes to reuse what’s left. Final remains can be composted to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Finally, the UNEP suggested eat plant-rich foods. Cultures around the world offer several vegetable-based recipes that are both nutritious and planet-friendly.
Meat production is a major driver of the climate crisis. Due to manure and gastroenteric releases, livestock farming accounts for 32 percent of human-caused methane emissions. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas with a global warming potential more than 80 times greater than that of carbon dioxide during the 20 years after it is released into the atmosphere.
The average person consumes 100 grams of meat daily. Incorporating more plants into your diet could improve human health while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
These ideas are meant to encourage people adopt more eco-friendly holiday season.