Here’s our first OATH to Sustainability: We solemnly swear to Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Rethink, Recycle
First, what is energy?
Energy is one of the most basic concepts in physics, but also one of the hardest one to define. In simple words energy is the capacity to cause movement. It is also the only commodity that gives human society the power to sustain its existence, but also happens to be used in an unsustainable manner.
You must be wondering why we are talking about energy here? Let us explain…
People in scientific fields of physics, biology, economics, and chemistry, understand the essential truth about energy efficiency. Considering the meaning of efficiency where the fundamental basis is maximizing the energy outcome while producing minimum waste, it can be concluded that the way society has been sustaining its existence is still far from being efficient.
Deforestation, greenhouse gases, climate change, overpopulation, overfishing, air pollution, soil pollution, water pollution- all such negative impacts that humans have been imposing on the environment and ecosystem to produce energy are all waste by-products! The world consumes and consumes energy year after year and in turn also increase the waste released into the ecosystem. People living in developed or developing countries also have increased life standards, taking the energetic needs sky-high. While there are justified arguments on the wrong politics and unsustainable use of energy in developing countries, it is also true that developed nations have much higher carbon footprint because the citizens in rich countries consume higher amounts of energy and goods, which ultimately releases more waste! That being said, we can all agree that we can’t go on like this and CHANGE IS NEEDED!
Energy and goods demand would not be as scary if they did not entail so much waste. Therefore, it is wiser to focus on minimizing waste while the world figures out how to fully switch from fossil fuels to alternative sources of energy and skill-fully secure the goods supply.
An incredible tool that any individual can use, start today, and make a habit of is the 5Rs- Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose and Recycle. How does it help? Some of the many benefits are:
1. Prevents pollution by reduced need of harvesting raw materials
2. Saves energy
3. Reduces the emission of greenhouse gases that adds to global climate change
4. Helps us sustain the environment for future generations
5. Reduces the amount of waste that will ultimately need to be recycled or incarcerated or sent to landfills
6. Allows goods to be used to their full extent
Refuse- “There is enough for everybody’s need but not greed”- Mahatma Gandhi.
Nothing describes the first ‘R’ of waste management better than this quote. One can always stop and re-think if offered something that’s easily avoidable, like a shopkeeper offering you a plastic bag, or a ketchup sachet that you might end up just dumping, single use plastics such as cups or straws. When you refuse anything that can harm the planet, you are helping and in case you really need to there are plenty of environment friendly options out there now.
Reduce- One could try to reduce waste by not creating it in the first place. Make buying products that have long warranty or are easily repairable, a practice. Even though use and throw has become a norm since a few years, reducing the use of single use/non-recyclable material that gets dumped in landfills will not only save you money but also help the environment. When you reduce the use of materials that have negative impacts on the environment you are making for a more sustainable future.
Reuse- We are no longer in the position to say, “it won’t hurt to do it onetime”, by doing so you might be throwing away something that is perfectly recyclable. The problem is the feeling of convenience in the moment that leads to becoming a habit, be it a person or a company. To decrease waste, reuse items instead of buying new ones. For example, replace all the single-use utensils or water bottles with compostable or reusable materials. Remember, when you reuse you save money and spare the environment.
Rethink- We live in a creative world of upcycling; every object can indeed have a second life. Glass jam jars for example, are very versatile and have so many uses like storing pulses or even decorate with candles and lights. Next time, rethink before you throw something away and put your imagination to use and in turn make full use of the money spent!
Recycle- Every left-over junk has one of two fates- recycling or composting. For all those things you can’t refuse, reduce, or reuse; you recycle or make a compost out of it! Start by segregating your junk into wet and dry waste, there are plenty of third-party companies who would recycle your dry waste for you and your wet waste from the kitchen can be easily made into a compost at home!
These 5Rs are the perfect example of how innovative and revolutionary ideas replace the old and shakes the ground from under the traditional economic model. Production in large quantities of cheap and easily attainable materials is being obstructed by the new regenerative and restorative course- the circulation economy (an economy that entails markets that gives encouragement to reusing products, rather than dumping them and then obtain new resources). The new direction provided by this economic practice boosts sustainable behaviour in consumers and supports the 5Rs. The timing could not have been better, even though many will argue time is the only thing we do not truly have. Delivering innovation through optimism holds the key to our future on this planet.