You've jumped on the eco-bag bandwagon. You've started collecting plastics for those eco-bricks. You've even taken Earth Hour's "no lights for one hour" pledge to the next level by abstaining from all electricity use for three hours. In your mind, you're practically Captain Planet reincarnate.
But no matter how environment-friendly you're trying to be, there are still some things we just can't avoid doing—things that might be stopping you from becoming the superhero the earth needs. Here are some of them:
Straws are one of mankind's greatest inventions. Imagine slurping your favorite mocha frappe or your go-to pearl milk tea without it. Also, dispensers in fast food restaurants are just so satisfying to press. And straws are so puny and flimsy—surely they couldn't be harming the environment too much, right? WRONG. They are usually made of plastic, which breaks down very slowly and uses up a lot of fossil fuels. And since most people only use them once before throwing them away, lots of straws end up in landfills, or worse, oceans, where they could be consumed by birds and sea creatures. Avoid using them as much as possible, or if you really must use one, go for a biodegradable paper straw or a reusable metal one instead.
Washing your face
Don't take this literally: we're not encouraging you to stop washing your face, but we do want you to pick the proper facial wash. Several facial washes, as well as toothpastes, body scrubs, and other toiletries, contain exfoliating microbeads—pieces of non-biodegradable plastic that are too tiny to be filtered by wastewater treatment plants. As a result, they go straight to our seas, where they can be absorbed or eaten by marine animals. If you think this doesn't affect you, bad news: there's a high chance that the fish you had for lunch had some microbeads for lunch. And since some microplastics can absorb toxic chemicals, there's a possibility that you're eating your sushi with an invisible side of poisonous shit. Yikes!
Staying in your car
There are times when it's way more convenient to stay in an idling car instead of finding a proper parking slot, like when you're waiting to pick up your little sister, or doing some less wholesome things with your girlfriend before going your separate ways for the night (Masyadong mainit pag pinatay ang aircon!). But idling's really not a good idea. You'll be burning fuel unnecessarily, not to mention it emits a lot of exhaust in the air. If you're staying put for an extended period of time, turning off your engine is a better move.
It's nearly impossible to say no to a gorgeous, perfectly marbled slab of prime grade steak. But that beautiful chunk of beef, as well as your favorite crispy pata and your mom's spaghetti fried chicken, actually used up a lot of food, energy, water, and land, and also caused unnecessary animal suffering. Raising livestock emits a lot of greenhouse gases, which makes the world warmer. Animal agriculture also requires a lot of water, and creates a lot of waste (have you seen how big cow poop can be?!). If you only eat fish, you're not spared, either: commercial fishing methods are destructive to marine ecosystems.
Driving your own car
Nothing compares to the fulfillment of finally saving enough dough to buy a car of your own, especially when it's a model you've been lusting over for the longest time. You can now go on road trips wherever you please, you don't have to worry anymore about how bringing home bulky stuff from the mall, and no one will judge your off-key singing when a great song starts playing on the radio. But it's hard to stay upbeat when you're stuck for two hours in EDSA rush hour traffic, needlessly wasting fuel and contributing to the city's pollution. When you can, just commute or carpool, or better yet, bike! It's a great way to get around with zero carbon footprint, plus you'll be toning those leg muscles.
Getting new gadgets
Buying the latest phone or gaming console is great, but what to do with your old unit? Thanks to the rapid advancement of technology, electronic waste is now the fastest-growing type of trash. Worse, most e-waste contain toxic stuff. When old electronics get buried in landfills, the hazardous materials contaminate the ground and water sources. As much as possible, reuse and recycle your gadgets: your old-but-still-usable TV or cellphone is definitely someone else's treasure.
Using your aircon
The heat's been unbearable these past few days, making air conditioning a lifesaver. But that cool, sweet air comes at a high price, and we're not just talking about your electric bill. Air conditioners usually use more energy, adding a large chunk to power plant emissions. And several aircon units use ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which ironically contributes to the soaring temperatures that we're escaping from. If you're shopping for a new aircon unit, make sure it's CFC-free and energy-efficient—both Mother Earth and your wallet will be thanking you in the long run.