Some Small Stuff for a Sustainable Environment

By George P. Nassos

There is no question that planet earth is deteriorating relative to the environment. While there are many environmental issues, I consider four major ones. 1) Global warming, now better known as climate change, is getting worse every year. 2) The overconsumption of our natural resources is causing the world to be using the equivalent of about 1.8 earths. Earth Overshoot Day, defined as the day in the year at which we will have consumed all the natural resources that will be generated in that calendar year, was July 28 last year. 3) There is a continued decline in the quality and quantity of fresh water. 4) The world population is continuing to grow drastically. In just the last 100 years, we have added about six billion people, and we have been adding about eight million people every six to seven weeks. Something needs to be done with the first three major environmental issues as population growth has an impact on these three.

We have been too dependent on the world governments, but only a few are doing anything positive. For example, the two largest carbon dioxide emitters are China and the United States, and they are ranked 51 and 52 out of 60 countries in the Climate Change Performance Index. We are also depending on large corporations but too many of them are still concentrating on maximizing their profits. So, we must start doing more ourselves to protect the environment.

While there are many recommendations for us that we have read about and implemented, there may be some other small ones that we should think about. Here’s an idea that I implemented in the last two Christmas holidays. Most people send Christmas cards to their friends and relatives. This could be as few as 20 or as many as 300. Instead of preparing and mailing these cards around the world, why not just send your greeting via email or text. In 2021, we recorded a 20 second video in front of our Christmas tree while verbally sending our greetings to our friends and relatives. They were able to see and hear us. Almost half of the recipients responded with a message. This past Christmas holiday we repeated our effort but just sent a family photograph along with the greeting.

This initiative meets all three legs of sustainability. It is very environmentally friendly as there is no waste of paper in writing the cards. Also, you are not depending on trucks and airplanes delivering your cards and thus not creating carbon emissions. It also meets the social leg of sustainability as it gives the recipient an opportunity to respond. When you have mailed cards to people, how many of them respond? By sending the greeting via email or text, the recipient can easily respond immediately to you. There are many people who have their cards preprinted and even have address labels preprinted. They could possibly be sending the cards without much thought given of the recipient. The third leg of sustainability, economic viability, is a no-brainer. This way of sending your greeting costs nothing except for your time. To mail the Christmas greeting will generate a cost for the cards and the postage stamps. Give it a try next year and use even use this for other holiday greetings or even birthday greetings.

If you enjoy take-home pizza, here is another recommendation but for pizza restaurants. Instead of selling a pizza in a cardboard box, why not place it in a reusable container. Pizza boxes are used for 10 to 30 minutes and then disposed either in a recycle bin or a trash bin. What a waste. If the restaurant had a reusable container, they could charge a deposit of, say, five dollars which you would get back when you returned the container. Or you could just exchange the used container for a new one with your next pizza. The restaurant would then clean your returned container and use it again. Another way to minimize waste.

You may even obtain some other ideas to help create a more sustainable environment by reading a book I just published. It is titled “15 Life Lessons from My Immigrant Parents: That You Don’t Learn in School”. I have included my recommendation for a sustainable greeting as well as many other ideas. You should be able to order the paperback book or as an ebook on Amazon and receive it about a week later. As it is a self-publishing book, Amazon doesn’t print it until it is ordered. Here is a link: : 15 life lessons from my immigrant parents