Updated: Jul 17
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Hello everyone! If you’ve ever partaken in any sort of conversation about the environment, chances are that something said was not entirely true, and you probably didn’t even realize it! For a variety of reasons ranging from poor consumer education to sheer ignorance, the world of environmentalism has been framed through many lenses turning out to be myths. So, today, I’ll be discussing 5 common misconceptions about environmentalism, and how we can change them into true statements! Keep reading to see what they are.
You can recycle everything that is recyclable.
In theory, this is true - it is possible to recycle plastics, cardboard, etc. However, these terms for materials, especially “plastic”, are often umbrella terms - sticking with the plastics example, there are several different types of plastics, and not all of them can be grouped together. In reality, recycling, or at least the one that our recycling bins go to, is a very, very complicated process. It is largely done with machines, which require very specific types of materials to be passing through in order to properly recycle (ex. the right type of color, materials in their original form - not deformed or mixed in with others), and therefore, not all products made of typically recyclable materials are eligible to merely be thrown into your recycling bin. This is very important to keep in mind, as the presence of just one “non-recyclable” product can cause an entire load of materials to be discarded due to the fear of contamination. Not all hope is lost though, because there are several ways we can avoid having perfectly recyclable materials go to waste, like giving them to a specialized recycler or ensuring they are in their original condition. Check out my blog post about products that can’t be recycled in CT for more information, including a link to see what materials are accepted by your area (inspired by Sustainable Southbury!).
Going digital is always the more eco-friendly option.
You’ve probably noticed that most of the world runs on computers and devices these days, and for good reason - technology has made our lives much, much more convenient, and we often associate the benefit of having everything compiled in one place with the connotation that it is doing the environment good by not having to waste natural resources like paper. This isn’t entirely false if you take what is known as digital carbon footprints into account. Digital carbon footprints are like your normal carbon footprints, except for your devices! And yes, your technology use does create a footprint (keep reading to learn more), but again, we can do something about that. If you are actively aware of your digital footprint, and work to minimize it so that it would be less than if you were to use physical materials, then yes, you are being more eco-friendly by going digital! However, not many people realize this, but not to fear, for you can read my blog post about what contributes to these footprints and how we can reduce them so that you can ensure your digital use is going to good.
Living sustainably / eco-friendly is much more expensive.
You might see products labeled as “sustainable” or “eco-friendly” priced much higher than the average consumer product, and for this reason you may believe in the above myth and thus stray from an eco-friendly life. The truth is, sustainability is deeply rooted in longevity, meaning that eco-friendly products are designed to be used for much longer than other single-use goods. So, while it may seem that buying reusable metal straws, for example, is costly in the short-term, the multiple uses you will get out of the product will make it a cheaper investment in the long-term! And, more and more products these days are being manufactured to be the best quality, so you get the most for your money.
Environmental issues affect everyone equally.
Personally, I’m not entirely sure why some believe in this unless they live in a more fortunate region. Yes, we are indeed seeing how issues like climate change are uprooting our communities and damaging them, but chances are you’re actually living somewhere considered better off. Environmental justice, the movement to eradicate disproportional effects of environmental issues, has long been an aspect of environmentalism that is commonly ignored. I admit I wasn’t all that familiar with it either (stay tuned for a post about it). In reality, global warming, for example, isn’t fair to everyone, especially to poorer areas of the globe. In some areas, heavy droughts, coupled with famines, leave them absolutely ravaged. Even in the US, areas near power plants suffer from extreme air pollution, like an area of Louisiana dubbed “Cancer Alley” for the high incidences of cancer patients. The matter of the fact is that some regions are much, much more vulnerable to environmental issues than others - we cannot keep believing the opposite if we are to truly care for the planet. If you’d like to be a part of the movement, check out this handy guide prepared by Bentley University.
Environmental issues have no impact on human health.
Think for a second - has it ever occurred to you that our health may be at risk because of the deteriorating environment? It probably hasn’t, but you may be surprised to know that human health is deeply interconnected with the planet’s health. There are indeed several ways through which the damages to the environment have been linked to damages to our own wellbeing. Some of the most prominent ways through which this occurs are through ocean acidification, extreme weather, pollution, contaminated food sources, and more, all of which can contribute to or exacerbate the occurrence of chronic diseases and conditions, ultimately decreasing human longevity on a larger scale. The sad part is that most of these processes occur day in and day out without a care for those at the most risk. Again, stay tuned for a more detailed post about this - I could go on and on! The bottom line is that there is more room for our health to be compromised by the planet than you might think - this is an especially important thing to keep in mind!
Well, that’s all for today. Hopefully you’ve come away from this with a greater understanding of the complex world that is environmentalism, and that it’s inspired you to take another look at what you may have once ignored. Share this post with someone you know to spread awareness and education, and I’ll see you all next time! Stay safe and healthy, all!