Saving our planet requires a collective effort, but how much can we really change if Governments and large corporations are not doing their bit?
Pexels by Lara Jameson
This month at Mindless Academy, the focus is on the United Nations' Seventeen Sustainable Development Goals which according to the UN, are:
"a call for action by all countries [...] to promote prosperity while protecting the planet."
These goals highlight the true state of our world, and just how much work really needs to be done. The fact that 'Zero Hunger' and 'Clean Water and Sanitation' are goals rather than successes represents the sad reality that we are far away from global equality in many ways, and that large efforts need to be made to change this. It is positive that so many countries have come together in the UN to highlight the main issues we are facing, but is enough really being done to help make true and large-scale changes?
The SDGs and Recycling
The Sustainable Development Goals speak to topics such as recycling, an important part of making our planet greener and more liveable. According to QCR, the UK does not rank in the top 5
QCR also states, as of March last year:
"Currently, at least 33% of worldwide waste is not managed in an environmentally safe manner."
Recycling helps to "protect the planet", including wildlife, ecosystems, and humanity, as well as saving energy and leaving us with cleaner air to breathe. These factors are significant in helping to improve the quality of life for all current living beings, as well as improving the chances of our planet being safe to live on in the future.
Three of the Sustainable Development Goals speak specifically to recycling, and these are: 'Responsible Consumption and Production', 'Life on Land' and 'Life Below Water'. All humans owe it to the planet they live on to be respectful, therefore being responsible regarding what we produce and consume is vital. We owe it to our planet to do as the well-known phrase asks: "reduce, reuse, recycle". Being responsible with how we manage our resources will better the conditions for both life on land and below water.
Who Is Doing What?
With the current state of our planet, it is necessary to ask who is helping the crisis and making clear steps to meet the SDGs, and how?
Have you ever seen a public bin with one slot for recycling and the other for general waste, yet all the rubbish falls into the same bin bag? I have. And it was beyond frustrating. We all want to do our bit to help the environment and our planet, but how much can really change if those with the power to enforce change are not doing so?
Greenpeace states that the UK government is especially irresponsible when it comes to the recycling of our plastic packaging:
"Thousands of tonnes of our household plastic packaging put out for recycling, as well as other kinds of plastic waste ends up in waste incinerators in the UK. Incinerators [...] cause air pollution, noise, smells, litter and traffic as waste is trucked in and smoke pours from the chimneys. [...] Some also goes into landfill, where it can leach toxic chemicals into the environment."
And worse still, Greenpeace also states that:
"The UK is dumping our waste on other countries" with "the equivalent of three and a half Olympic swimming pools every single day" being sent "to countries with very low recycling rates".
With our public waste and recycling bins not always being separated correctly, and the recycling that we sort out from our homes and at our workplaces not all being treated properly, it is no surprise that the environment is suffering. It will be impossible to meet of the UN's SDGs if more is not done soon to combat these issues.
Achievable Goals or an Imagined Utopia?
We know that it is important to conserve energy by switching appliances off at the plug socket, switching off our lights when not using them, and to save water by turning the tap off when not using the water. All of these things save us money too! However, if governments and large corporations continue to deceive us with their sustainability efforts, it begs the question of how much do our efforts matter if so many incinerators and landfill sites are being filled with our 'recycling'?
While we should continue to respect our planet by doing what we can to save energy, it is disappointing and frustrating that those with power to really change things are not doing more. Why? Is it all really just down to greed and "prosperity"? Of course it can be cheaper to produce items or dispose of waste in ways that damage the environment, but that does not make it right. The 'Life on Land' and 'Life Below Water' who have no control over these issues deserve better. We deserve better.