Why should we go over 5 environmentally wasteful things? Well, obviously humans have had a devastating effect on this planet. Many are looking for solutions to slow this destruction and start to conserve our resources. There are even companies that are leading the way, creating new solutions for human beings to consume sustainably.
Sometimes, however, in looking for solutions we are overlooking some of the most wasteful processes that exist right now. Often times, they are right under our noses. People are busy designing more efficient new technology but are not looking at some top producers of waste that could be improved rapidly and could make an immense difference in our resource consumption in the near future.
The purpose of this article is to shine some light on issues that are not discussed as often as some of the obvious perpetrators of waste. It’s time to raise awareness and show the next generations how people will have to conserve and innovate in the future to keep this planet inhabitable!
1. Harvesting Grains from Annual and not Perennial Plants
An estimated ten thousand years ago, when our species began cultivating plant-life, we made a grave decision: we chose annual plants instead of perennials.
What are annual and perennial plants? Annual plants are plants that finish their life cycle in 1 year, then die; examples are Maize, Wheat, Spelt, and Peas. Perennial plants live for more than 2 years; examples include Wheatgrass, Basil, Garlic, and Avocado.
Most of the plants on earth are perennial. So why did human beings choose to cultivate annuals? Because of genetic experiments in which people improved seed size or the yield of the plant, then replanted the best ones, perennial plants took a backseat because they didn’t need to be replanted.
Over time, planting, modifying, and re-planting annuals lead to soil erosion at the depth that the roots grow to. This is because the roots are too shallow to reach into the deeper, nutrient filled soil, so farmers are forced to use much more fertilizer (and eventually, chemicals) to keep the plants growing.
There are tons of advantages to cultivating perennial grain-yielding crops: more resources throughout seasons, more resources because of the access to deeper soil, efficient usage of nutrients in the soil, and reduced soil erosion (one reason for the need to use GMO’s to feed populations). If farmers utilized this knowledge, it would save a lot of energy.
2. Golf Courses
There are an estimated 17,672 golf courses in the United States. Most 18-hole golf courses occupy as much as 150 acres and have as much as 74 acres of “maintained turf”. This means that the total area used solely by golf courses in the USA is roughly 1,307,728 acres. You could fit whole countries into that space!
Not only that but according to studies, approximately 70% of the land on golf courses is not used for playing golf. If the land dedicated to golf courses now was utilized in an environmentally friendly way, we would stand to gain over 1 million acres of land to house animals, plants, and other balance-restoring organisms to help counter our vast devastation.
Thankfully, there are some golf courses that are implementing eco-friendly processes, but it’s still hard to ignore all of that land and energy that is wasted on this game.
3. Disposable Coffee Cups
How many people did you see holding a Starbucks branded coffee cup when you went out for lunch today? I would be surprised to hear a number less than two. People are not only addicted to coffee, but they are addicted to buying overpriced coffee that comes in completely wasteful packaging.
It has been asked before: “Are Starbucks coffee cups compostable?”. The answer is “no, they are not recyclable”. And, as they continue their trendy “go green” publicity campaigns, landfills are being filled with these wasteful objects. The average American worker in an office will use about 500 disposable cups per year.
It’s long overdue that we, as a modern society, make our best effort to switch to re-usable cups for our coffee and beverages throughout the day. Here at Eco-Friendly Today we love the Cuppow Drinking Lid for Canning Jars which converts your existing jars into a traveling cup. There’s also this great travel-ready, insulated thermos made of bamboo and stainless steel that is perfect for tea and coffee.
4. Hotel Soap Bars
Ah, that feeling of a long journey traveling and arriving at your hotel to take a shower and relax. Staying at hotels is a privilege for recreational travelers and a necessity for many people who travel for work. Hotels are also notorious for being extremely wasteful…
It’s a well-known fact that shared soap bars spread diseases. Hotels are not allowed to keep soap in their rooms for more than one person’s stay and even the unopened soap bars are thrown away for fear of litigation. While this makes sense hygienically, it generates an unbelievable amount of waste.
So, even if you take your own soap, it doesn’t help much. Hotels should take responsibility and recycle their unused soaps. Thankfully, there are some non-profits who are fighting for that exact cause, so feel free to show your support!
5. Grass Lawns
Have you ever known that neighbor who had to have his lawn “just right”? That neighbor that slaved over it day after day wanting the greenest, nicest lawn in the whole neighborhood? Little did he know he was doing more than his share of destruction to our environment…
Grass lawns used for front yards, backyards, and decorative entryways use billions of gallons of water and millions of pounds of animal fertilizers to maintain them. On top of that, toxic herbicides, pesticides, and other chemicals are usually used annually to fool non-native grass species into growing where they don’t naturally exist. This results in increased toxic substances running into the water supply, introducing pollution into our water and causing algae that creates “dead zones”.
Do you still think that perfect front lawn is “nice”? Numerous water crisis have been attributed to the runoff from grass lawns and this threat is increasing every day. So, let’s ditch these cornerstones of “keeping up with the jones'” and utilize our agricultural space to grow food to feed our families! And when we do, let’s use non-toxic, natural pesticides like Neem Oil that don’t harm the environment and still do a great job.
It’s Our Responsibility
As we acknowledge the 5 most environmentally wasteful things you may have missed, we turn our attention to current issues and methods that need improvement in the future. We also covered some useful alternatives to implement in our gardens and households immediately to lessen our collective impact on the Earth.
It’s also great to see so many companies and organizations doing their part to help save the environment. Realizing that we all share this planet is the first step to keeping this planet inhabitable by humans, animals, and plant life for future generations.
If we missed anything, let us know in the comment section below!