Published on January 20th, 2015 | by Sponsored Content1
Simple ways to reduce our impact on the environment in 2015
Although the environment has an unfortunate habit of tumbling down the list of priorities for many, 2014 was a real eye-opener, even for those who prefer to remain blissfully ignorant. From the avid to the reluctant recyclers, nobody could ignore some of the headlines – they were the equivalent of a Hollywood blockbuster, albeit a tragic one. September brought the sobering news that we have lost half of our wildlife in the last 40 years.
However, 2014 also brought us heartening and historic news. In November, the US and China proudly declared a bi-lateral objective to tackle climate change and cut emissions. We also saw the largest ever environmental march in New York, which suggests that more people are beginning to take an interest in the environment.
While we’re still in New Year’s resolutions territory, here’s a short guide to help you reduce your impact on the environment in 2015.
Curb your reliance on car parks
Some may argue that car parks are entirely necessary, but those same people might be surprised at the negative effects they have on the environment.
With materials like concrete and asphalt composing the bulk of these structures, we’re all likely to agree that they’re far from beautiful. What more of us should be agreeing on is how these materials are responsible for dangers like toxic water runoff and the formation of urban heat islands (don’t google it yet!).
Urban heat islands are a phenomenon that occur when urbanization (such as the building of car parks which absorb vast quantities of solar heat) causes temperatures to rise above that of surrounding rural areas. Now, while fellow Brits might think that doesn’t sound too bad, statistics have proven that it can lead to increased deaths during a heatwave and less diversity (fewer fish) in city water bodies.
If you’ve been patiently waiting to hear a solution to the problem, here it is: unused parking spaces. As recently as last year the RAC released a report that showed how more than half of Britain’s garages go unused, so it’s reasonable to assume there are plenty of parking opportunities out there (some businesses actually rely on it, but we’ll get to that). These spaces span the country and probability is in favor of them being much more conveniently located than car parks. With free-to-sign-up online car parking marketplaces like Your Parking Space*, finding cheaper, and more widespread parking could herald an end to the creation of car parks.
Check your e-waste
There’s no doubting that we’re all grateful for the technological innovations of recent years, after all, you’re reading this on the internet aren’t you? But as well as being worthy of celebration, the proliferation of electronic devices, as Vietnam has recently learned, should also be a concern.
According to Rufus Hirsch from clearance company Clearance Solutions, the period that follows Christmas is a particularly bad time for e-waste because many people will have been shopping in the holiday sales to replace appliances that they don’t know how to dispose of. The sad truth is that most people will settle for dumping them in landfill (or worse yet, leaving them out on the curb in an environmentally harmful practice known as fly tipping).
It’s not just the large slabs of technology that could spell disaster for the environment either. Yes, e-cigarettes could reduce the amount of cigarette butts on the streets, the most littered items in the world, but they could open the doors to a new risk too. Manchester-based e-cigarette retailer TABlites are keen to stress that just because they’re small, that doesn’t make them negligible as far as waste is concerned. All e-cigarettes still count as e-waste and must be disposed of in environmentally friendly ways.
If you’re in doubt, look for the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) symbol.
No more junk mail
The fact that junk mail is still a nuisance in 2015 is almost inexcusable, especially seeing as we’re more aware of the effects of paper pollution than ever before.
Let’s face it, mail that hasn’t been requested is rarely valued or wanted, especially when it isn’t even addressed to a specific individual So why is it constantly flooding our letterboxes? To start limiting the likelihood of it ever darkening your door again, sign up to the Royal Mail’s door to door opt-out service. This will prevent you from receiving any mail that isn’t addressed to a specific individual.
A complementary opt-out service to the Royal Mail’s is the Your Choice preference scheme. Where the Royal Mail may still deliver junk mail if an addressee as tenuous as “House occupier” is stated, the Your Choice preference scheme will stop leaflets being distributed to you from members of the Direct Marketing Association altogether.
A message to the businesses responsible for junk mail: What are you thinking? Experts in creating tailored print materials Ro-Am Posters say “junk mail is a sign of a lazy company who forget that the famous aphorism goes quality not quantity. Sending junk mail is likely to annoy, and if anything, could generate bad press”.
Looking to the future, bespoke hardware solutions company G2 Digital are hopeful that technical innovation could save the excessive waste of paper. They’ve already helped the popular London restaurant Inamo replace all menus with interactive ordering screens that are implanted in each diner’s table.
*This article was generously sponsored by Your Parking Space.