by Tom Powell
‘Live Green’ is one of the six themes for the Marlborough Earth Day Party, planned for A&P Park in Blenheim on the 21st April this year. But what does ‘Live green’ mean in our day-to-day lives?
Living ‘green’ means living in way that does not harm our water, land and air or the life that it supports, including insects, birds, fish, mammals, phytoplankton, plants and micro-organisms . These essential building blocks form the global food chain on which all life, including human life depends.
For most of human history mankind has survived and thrived by extracting the resource wealth of our planet. However it has become apparent in recent decades, as the human population has grown, that our planet’s resources are running out and its capacity to absorb the pollution generated by our industrialised way of life is running out too. In order to leave our children a planet that resembles the one we’ve come to know and love, we need to move away from a lifestyle based on resource extraction, waste generation and pollution and towards one based on living within the planet’s ecological limits. Living sustainably.
Right now we are far from this ideal. Our rubbish dumps and oceans are filling up with plastic waste, carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases are increasing in our atmosphere, forests that would naturally absorb carbon dioxide are being cut down to graze livestock, our oceans are becoming acidic and our climate is becoming warmer and more prone to extreme weather events, such as prolonged droughts, more powerful cyclones, increased flooding and greater wildfire risk.
So what can we do at an individual level to help achieve a sustainable lifestyle?
Burning less fossil fuel is the most obvious step but there are some less obvious changes that can also make a big difference, for example by minimising waste.
All of the things we buy, use and throwaway everyday require energy, usually from burning fossil fuel, to grow or make, to package and label, to transport and to dispose of or recycle. So, if we use less of these things we use less energy and that reduces greenhouse gas emissions that come with it, as well as other industrial pollution.
To do this we can follow the 5 “R”s - Reject, Reduce, Re-use, Re-purpose and Recycle.
With a little thought and effort, we can leave a cleaner and greener world for our children and future generations to enjoy – just like the one we have now.
Photo caption – ‘Peter Deacon of Climate Karanga Marlborough proudly displaying his well-organised recycling bins’.
The posts dated 1 April 2019 are a collection of opinion articles written by CKM member Tom Powell for the Marlborough Express. The articles "Is there reliable information on climate change", "Climate change and farming in New Zealand" and "Give them a future" were published there, the rest not. Tom is a retired geologist who came to New Zealand in 2004 to work in the geothermal industry on the North Island, is a New Zealand citizen and now lives in Blenheim.