Reducing impact of daily habits
Reducing impact of daily habits

Reducing impact of daily habits

WHILE many urban folk have been trained to sort waste for recycling towards minimising rubbish, there are still common practices with hidden environmental impact – which many are not aware of.

StarMetro looks into how individuals can offset their carbon footprint in some of these common practices.

1. Emails

Email is vital for modern communication and productivity but this convenience carries a hidden environmental cost.

It is driven by energy-intensive infrastructure and therefore has a carbon footprint.

Research conducted for World Cleanup Day this year shows that each email sent requires energy for transmission, storage and reception.

This accounts for factors such as device usage, email length, recipient count, alongside network and data centre power.

On average, the carbon footprint of an email is 0.3g of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e).

CO2e quantifies the global warming impact of any greenhouse gas by representing the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide.

With Earthweb’s data indicating a global daily email volume surpassing 347.3 billion this year, the environmental impact is substantial.

To mitigate this: Individuals can declutter their inboxes by deleting unnecessary emails to reduce email volume.

Effectively organising incoming messages with email filters and unsubscribing from newsletters and promotions also helps to minimise energy consumption.

2. Fast fashion

The fast fashion industry is known for its diverse clothing options that allow consumers to stay trendy at a low cost.

Earth.org states that the industry uses synthetic fabrics like polyester, acrylic and nylon to cost-effectively produce garments that are often low in quality and lack longevity.

When discarded, these non-biodegradable fabrics fill landfills.

Upcycle collections using old clothes or discarded materials are common now. — FIT/Instagram

It also contributes to microplastic pollution in marine environments through fibre shedding.

To mitigate this: Individuals can influence change by embracing sustainable fashion practices that include upcycling unwanted clothes and buying second-hand clothing.

3. Vehicle idling

Idling is the practice of leaving a vehicle’s engine running while stationary.

One common misconception is that idling is better for the engine than restarting it.

However, prolonged idling not only damages engine components but also results in higher fuel consumption and carbon emissions, according to a fleet management platform.

A vehicle is regarded as idling when it is stationary for over two minutes with the engine running.

When idling, the car exhaust emits carbon dioxide, a key greenhouse gas that traps heat in the Earth’s atmosphere, driving global warming.

This is in addition to emissions of other harmful chemicals, gases and particulates (soot) into the air.

These pollutants contribute to air pollution like smog, that aggravates respiratory problems such as asthma.

To mitigate this: Motorists can mindfully reduce vehicle idling whenever possible.

Using public transport, walking, cycling or riding ebikes or escooters will cut down vehicular emissions.

4. Food waste

Food waste remains a pressing issue in Malaysia.

Solid Waste Management and Public Cleansing Corporation (SWCorp) records 17,000 tonnes of daily food waste from households and restaurant leftovers.

Of this amount that typically goes to the landfill, 24% or 4,080 tonnes are wasted edible food.

World Wide Fund for Nature reports that as food waste decomposes, it releases harmful components such as methane – a potent greenhouse gas that is 25 times more hazardous than carbon dioxide – and leachate that can severely pollute soil and water.

To mitigate this: People can reduce food waste through prudent grocery shopping, proper storage, meal planning, consuming or repurposing leftovers, or donating excess food.

5. Disposable face towels

Disposable face towels are now popular for preventing breakouts and infections.

Despite claims of biodegradability, these single-use wipes like wet wipes, are slow to decompose in landfills.

Disposable face towels are now a daily skincare habit for some.

The manufacturing, packaging, and transportation of disposable face towels also contribute to carbon dioxide emissions.

To mitigate this: Business Insider suggests using machine-washable towels.

Not only do they offer comparable absorbency and durability to the disposable option, but they also deliver cost-saving benefits.

6. Chewing gum

Would you believe that chewing gum contains plastic?

Referred to as “gum base” in many gum formulas, it is the aspect that gives gum its chewiness and shape retention after prolonged chewing.

According to GreenSeas Trust, littered gum will not decompose naturally but instead photodegrades into microplastics.

Microplastics are extremely harmful to marine life that confuses them for food.

The problem is worsened by the circulation of these plastic fragments in the food chain, ultimately reaching human consumption.

To mitigate this: Individuals can act by responsibly disposing of gum with paper wrappers or opting for eco-conscious snack alternatives.

7. Video streaming

Gone are the days of physical discs for movie playback.

With digital media becoming more accessible, video streaming seamlessly integrates into daily routines, shaping entertainment experiences.

This surge in streaming has resulted in increased carbon footprint and overall energy consumption.

Video streaming demands substantial energy because of larger file sizes, with consumption influenced by resolution.

High-definition (HD) and ultra-high-definition (UHD) videos generate higher carbon emissions and consume more energy than standard-definition (SD) videos.

To mitigate this: Reducing carbon footprint of streaming habits is advisable.

Opting for SD is a greener and more responsible choice.

8. Excessive packaging

Packaging wields potent influence over purchases.

Brands are refining packaging experiences to build stronger connections and loyalty among consumers.

However, the real question is: As a consumer, do you tend to repurchase products because of the excessive packaging, such as over-wrapped plastic and oversized boxes, or simply due to branding elements like stickers on the parcel box?

Excessively packing items with oversized boxes and layers of plastic bubble wrap contributes to landfill waste.

The surplus packaging waste eventually finds its way to landfills, worsening the global waste crisis.

On top of that, packaging manufacturing emits greenhouse gases, fuelled by resource consumption and energy usage.

It also contributes to water pollution through the generation of harmful metal particles and toxic waste sludge.

To mitigate this: Brands can embrace recyclable packaging to reduce impact while fostering loyalty.

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