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Make 2021 the Year of Sustainability

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Make 2021 the Year of Sustainability

Let’s face it – Most of us are looking forward to a new year.  After the challenges that 2020 has presented, it seems like so many of us have been in a holding pattern and waiting period.  With shutdowns, quarantines and losses on numerous levels, there are many reasons to look ahead, and having a new year allows us to do exactly that – look ahead and move forward.

The pandemic, fires and other natural disasters of 2020 have provided insight and lessons that continue to force our global community to look at ways that we must evolve.  From safety measures and social distancing to how we reduce our carbon footprint, there have been clear and serious signals for change.  

Due to the pandemic this year, there were forced stops in human waste, energy consumption and activity.  Energy use was lowered as major corporations and daily business activity came to a screeching halt; transportation and related fuel emissions were greatly reduced as travel plans were cancelled and movement was limited under shelter-in-place orders.  And this change did not go unnoticed by the environment…  Nature.com reported that daily global CO2 emissions decreased by –17 percent by early April 2020 compared with the mean 2019 levels. At their peak, emissions in individual countries decreased by –26 percent on average. 

While we were able to have a brief glimpse into what would be possible with lowered emissions, it was temporary, and in order for change to be effective, it must be consistent and sustainable.  After all, the challenge of climate change is real and still very much an immediate threat to our planet and our survival.  According to a recent article by the Climate Reality Project, greenhouse gases like CO2 reached record levels in the atmosphere – despite global lockdowns for the COVID-19 pandemic, and scientists project that 2020 will be the warmest year on record.  According to NPR, Death Valley, California, reached 130 degrees Fahrenheit (54.4C) in what could be the highest temperature ever reliably recorded on Earth.  Additionally, in May of this year, temperatures rose to 86 degrees Fahrenheit in Siberiayes,  Siberia.  The truth is that the impact of climate change has been visible across the globe through countless and varied severe events. 

So, what does this mean for the coming year? It means that there is an opportunity to make a positive difference and make it a year of a sustainability.  Some easy ways that you can do that include:

-          Conserve Water - According to the EPA, the average American family typically uses over 300 gallons of water every day. Saving water can be as easy as decreasing your time in the shower to changing the way you garden by using sustainable methods such as aquaponics.

-          Go Solar – Solar energy is the cleanest, most abundant renewable energy source available.  In addition to saving money by reducing and even eliminating power bills, transitioning to solar energy will greatly reduce your carbon footprint.

-          Build Green – Buildings have a huge impact on the environment. By implementing green features, solar power and using renewable, recycled and salvaged materials, home and building owners can greatly reduce a building's impact on the environment. 

-          Reduce, Reuse, Recycle - From containers and shopping bags to utensils and straws, reusable is the best way to leave no waste behind.  It is really all a matter of developing the habit - the habit of bringing the reusable bag into the store, carrying a reusable water bottle, and recycling.

While the list could go on to include many more steps you can take to a cleaner and more sustainable future, an important part of sustainable living is setting realistic goals.  Even if you choose to start with one or two improvements now, you can always add more later.  By changing habits now and transitioning to renewable energy, together we can make a difference and take control of our own carbon footprint.

Wishing everyone a Happy, Healthy and Sustainable 2021!