Why our actions matter?
(Please be aware this has been written for university purposes.)
We have been bombarded with endless news and data on climate change for so many years, we have become immune. This phenomenon has a name, is known as infoxication, or information overload. Our brain is not able to process all the information so, although we know that the world is not going in the right direction, we become overwhelmed and unable to make decisions or actions, and we continue with our day to day forgetting about what we read.
It is important to know the basis of this problem to be critical with the thousands of data we hear daily.
The Earth is warming up, and its climate has been altered for about 180 years, “coincidentally” coinciding with the industrial revolution. But it is not a coincidence. From the moment in which humans began to industrialise the production process, the emission of gases into the atmosphere increased. the reason why today the consequences are already affecting us. And it will continue to be like this until the current economic system, the linear economy, changes.
Individually, we contribute to the emissions of these gases in different ways, either by carrying out an activity that emits greenhouse gases (driving) or by consuming a product or service that emits gases (buying in supermarkets). Therefore we are part of the problem, and it is our responsibility to actively reduce our impact and together participate in the mitigation of climate change.
Many argue is not their own responsibility to change their actions, instead, governments and companies should change their system. They should be the ones leading the changes but, we already know their motive and the reason for delaying or ignoring the problem, economic.
To better understand these changes needed to be done by those in power, it is necessary to understand what is the linear economy:
Currently, the way we produce has a beginning and an end. It starts by extracting raw materials, of which very few are regenerated. Each production process pollutes, as it consumes energy and releases Co2. As soon as the final product arrives in our hands, it is already programmed to last for a limited period (scheduled obsolescence), which means, it will become waste.
The process pollutes in each of its phases and costs companies a lot of money. But they recover it with the final price that we as consumers pay. This has been normalised so that this consumption continues to grow non-stop. Of these products that end up becoming rubbish, very few manage to be recycled, generating more waste to our planet.
Now, imagine that we don’t end the life of products, and instead, we fix them.
This strategy has a name, it’s called the circular economy:
The system aims to eliminate waste. A circular economy offers a systems-level and cost-effective approach to tackling global emissions, which are associated with the production of goods and materials.
While nowadays the product is thrown once it is damaged, this new system would return the product to the factory to be either repaired, updated or reused in some of the production phases. This would eliminate waste on a large scale, and the products would be cheaper for both the consumer and the company when producing them, as the process would decrease, and therefore, would contaminate much less.
According to an Ellen MacArthur Foundation study (2019), when applied to the food system and industry — more specifically to cement, steel, plastic and aluminium production — circular economy strategies could help reduce global emissions by around 9.3 Gt Co2e in 2050. This is equivalent to removing from the planet all forms of GHG transport emits.
The Zero-Waste lifestyle supports the circular system, as we would keep resources in use for as long as possible, extracting the maximum value from them and then recover and regenerate products and materials at the end of each service life. We should buy as little as possible and reuse as much as we can to avoid contributing to the linear economy and pressure companies to change their system to circular.