In 2009, South Korea did something remarkable. The country poured 2% of its GDP, some $38.1 billion, into environmental projects, hoping to create one million green jobs over the next five years. The goal was to spur growth in a slumping economy while simultaneously creating a low carbon society. In one sense, the plan worked. South Korea’s economic system did eventually recover, but in a more important sense, the plan failed. From 2009 to 2014, Korea’s emissions rose 11.8%. So, despite massive investments in clean energy, railway expansion, and energy efficiency, South Korea’s emissions still climbed.
So what happened? Why didn’t South Korea’s green growth strategy work? The video below (by Our Changing Climate) will answer that question and more in order to understand one of the insidious spectres that haunts the green energy revolution: consumption.
Modern life can be chaotic, so it’s no wonder that science and commerce have teamed up to provide us with no-fuss products to help the day pass smoothly. Unfortunately, the environmental toll of some of these innovations can be enormous. It’s no wonder that eco-conscious governments and municipalities are using legislation to temper the damage we’re inflicting on our planet.
In Europe, banned items range from the mundane to the ridiculous: guidelines set by the EU have made high-powered (and underperforming) vacuum cleaners a thing of the past, while the French have outlawed the farming of domestic frog legs. Bangladesh was the first nation to ban plastic shopping bags, way back in 2002.
“When industry talks about “zero waste”, the goal is to send nothing besides hazardous waste to landfill. To achieve this, materials that previously would have been thrown away are recycled, repurposed or even designed out from the beginning. Simple enough. But is that what actually happens and do consumers even care?” – Sarah LaBrecque
In 2010, around one-third of the food produced in the United States was not consumed, and ended up being wasted. That is a troubling statistic, and represents a food waste crisis that if left ignored will continue to burn holes in the pockets of families, and contribute to waste and the myriad problems it causes our planet.
One of the first things you can do to cut food waste in your home is to stop treating the “best-before,” “use-by,” and “sell-by” labels as gospel that determine when food must instantly been thrown out. These labels are used for shelving and inventory purposes in stores, and you should always trust your eyes and nose before you trust a number on a package. Consider using food rather than throwing it out, unless your senses tell you otherwise!
Make your meal plans and take stock of what you have in your fridge and pantry before you go shopping, and shop accordingly. Consider joining a CSA to take advantage of freshness, and buy your groceries a few times a week and when needed, rather than all at once.