Global warming is a reality that is no longer being denied but many people are still blissfully ignorant about the environmental challenges we face.
There are many myths surrounding climate change and the importance of living green. This ignorance leads to many people neglecting to play their part in taking care of the environment.
Lutfiyah Suliman, a project manager at the Wildlife & Environment Society of South Africa (WESSA), a non-governmental organisation advocating against pollution and global warming, said that people neglect the environment in different ways.
- Poor natural resource extraction methods;
- The use of non-renewable resources which pollute land, air and water;
- Wasteful production and consumption;
- Poor waste disposal and the creation of vast amounts of waste materials which take many years to break down, such as plastic.
The act of not taking care of our environment leads to climate change, Suliman said.
“The high levels of pollutants, especially carbon, in our atmosphere due largely to industrial activity have resulted in one of the greatest challenges our generation faces. Climate change affects global weather patterns and results in extremes of temperature, especially extreme hot temperatures in places that previously did not experience such high temperatures,” she said.
Suliman added that due to these changes, plant, animal and human life suffers, our agricultural systems are negatively affected, city planning and human settlements are affected and ultimately, the knock-on effects affect the economy.
“All of this is, of course, is felt most deeply in poorer communities, where the means to adapt to and resist these changes are not widespread,” she said.
Suliman told Vuk’uzenzele that the environment can be protected by behavioural changes. She said: “Be more conscious of consumption habits by buying less and reusing more, recycle where possible and act together as a community to ensure environmental injustices are followed up on and resolved. Ultimately, it is creating a habit of pursuing environmental justice for all that will resolve our environmental challenges.”
She called on people to utilise the available resources such as buy-back centres in order to reduce, re-use and recycle waste.
Suliman called on leaders in society to help debunk recycling myths and encourage communities to not litter.
How can I Reuse, Reduce and Recycle?
- Reduce - Buy products that offer packaging made from recycled materials.
- Reuse - Store food in reusable containers, rather than non-recyclable cling-wrap or tin foil made from resource-intensive aluminium.
- Recycle - Choose packaging and products that are recyclable – look for the recycle symbol. You can also use your vegetable waste to make compost.