By Hannah Cluck
A New York native resident may think to themselves, “Why does the health of an environment hundreds of miles away, matter to my day to day life?” The truth is, it doesn’t matter. But what truly matters is the health of one’s own personal ecosystem, their environment, their home. The health of this shared home planet is worsening by the day, and it is impacting everyone on board.
As technology advances, the already consumerist world dives deeper into the realm of pollution riddled consumerism. Society depends on “out of convenience” ways of receiving their goods and services, creating more and more non-biodegradable waste. Goods such as air conditioning units, refrigerators, and most cleaning products release chlorofluorocarbons (CFS), which degrade the Earth’s ozone layer causing it to thin.
The ozone layer is commonly referred to as earth’s “blanket” or “shield.” What the ozone layer truly is, is a region within the stratosphere containing high levels of ozone, a molecule made up of three oxygen atoms. Ozone absorbs most ultraviolet radiation from the sun, typically known as the harmful UV rays.
With the thinning of the ozone, these harmful UV rays are able to sneak into the atmosphere, wreaking havoc on earth, and the people on it. According to an article published by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, the warming of the atmosphere leads to poorer air quality, resulting in an increased risk for diseases and respiratory illnesses such as asthma, renal failure, and preterm birth. Heavier rains will also increase the chances for water-borne diseases, creating even less safe drinking water.
In addition to CFCs, PFAS is another chemical commonly used in most material goods. PFAS is utilized for its water, fire and stain resistant components, making it useful for water proof gear, fire department gear, and even within table top cleaners. PFAS does not necessarily result in more ozone thinning, but can be extremely toxic when humans are exposed. High exposure rates to PFAS can result in higher chances of developing cancer, decreased fertility, and liver damage.
Although it is very difficult for individuals to directly solve the plague of CFCs and PFAS, there are many things each person could do in their day to day life to reduce their footprint on the earth. According to a piece published by the Center for Biological Diversity, individuals could embrace a more frugal life with water use, drive less and embrace pedestrian travel, use more clean eco-conscious products, and finally to embrace self-sufficient ways of living. Self sufficiency does not always mean owning a farm. It could be as simple as raising chickens for eggs, gardening, composting, and beekeeping. The more individuals embrace sufficient and sustainable ways of living, their personal “ecosystems’’ improve, eventually resulting in long term, more widespread improvement.
Although the media is flooded with negative news about the climate crisis, there is hope with mother nature. Regional governments and big industries are finally opening their eyes to the consequences of their consumerist ways of operation, and they are jumping to action. Some states within the United States have placed laws against littering. Violators receive fines up to thirty-thousand dollars and in some states, prosecutors can even be sentenced up to ten days. Big industries are even banning plastic bags, pre packaged goods, and relying more on reusable and biodegradable products.
During the Coronavirus pandemic, the world suddenly came to a halt. Businesses closed, events were canceled, and many countries even went into lockdown. During this initial time period, the natural world was momentarily able to recover. The lack of human involvement resulted in slow and slight, but noticeable recovery, especially in the slow repair of our ozone layer. Eventually, the outdoors was the only escape people had from their homes, so they resorted to outdoor activities. Their newfound love for outdoor activities instills a deep appreciation for the earth and what it has to provide.
Since the global pandemic, the world’s love for Earth has grown and the environmental movement has advanced. However, our environment is still deteriorating day by day, so it is important to remember and understand that actions have consequences. And the toxic implications we’ve imposed on nature, is causing nature to fight back and take its toll. We need to learn to nurture the Earth more, and the gifts it provides for us by taking small steps in every-day living to get there. Reduce, reuse and recycle. Bike to work, instead of riding in a car. Practice sustainability, and encourage others to do the same. It’s a simple solution to keeping the Earth healthy and happy, leaving us the same.