What would hThis post took a long time to make. In fact, months passed since this challenge. It was the challenge where I felt that failed the most. I didn’t even know how to track this. How many times I used plastic? How much electricity I use? There is so much waste around us that it is maddening. Trying to do this challenge is what made me realize it.appen if we worked to save the earth:
We would have more time to travel to planets, we could have autonomous cars. We could have augmented reality and crazy and amazing entertThe idea came from what would happen if we worked to save the earth:ainment options. Hundreds of different new and more tasty food thanks to being able to make new foods through agriculture.
On the other hand: we we would have war, no space travel, no autonomous cars, no food, no ability to have family or entertainment, horrible heat making many of the best places on earth inaccessible. Death of many many animals creating an end to really cool animals and life and forests on earth.
End of nature for millenia to come.
So I tried to act and save the earth by trying out to see how much one person can do.
I decided for thirty days to reduce my waste and it was hard.
From the very beginning it hit me how much of infrastructure around me makes it hard to quit the wasteful lifestyle and system. At first it was saying no to straws. Then I saw the hundreds of straws at every coffee shop and bar and it made me despondent. I saw the wasteful tops to coffee cups, so I stopped using those. Then I saw the coffee cups, and so I stopped buying coffee and only drank out of glass cups.From the very beginning it hit me how much of infrastructure around me makes it hard to quit the wasteful lifestyle and system. At first it was saying no to straws. Then I saw the hundreds of straws at every coffee shop and bar and it made me despondent. I saw the wasteful tops to coffee cups, so I stopped using those. Then I saw the coffee cups, and so I stopped buying coffee and only drank out of glass cups.
I went to grocery store with a bag, but each vegetable required a plastic bag. So many things at the store were in plastic containers that Israel rarely recycles and most of them cannot be recycled. Metal containers ones at least biodegrade but they are wasteful when not recycled because new materials have to be mined to produce them. Glass generally can be recycled but not easily and only certain bottles are recycled. So the packaging of food just kills you, every time.
I live in Tel Aviv and I did this challenge in the summer. It is impossible to sleep without an AirConditioner. Airconditioners is one of the highest contributors to climate change. I tried to put the fan on lowest setting and setting the temperature to highest I could stand and have a fan running.
My school provides me with free food and coffee. I noticed how many cups my school used for coffee, so I tried to only use one or bring my own cup. I then lobbied my school to reduce use of plastic plates and paper plates and they started to use regular plates and metal cutlery. It wasn’t easy at first, it was a bit of mess as people were not used to using this and stacked them poorly. But then they got used to it and it was ok. Much less waste. When they did use one time use plates, they tried to use those that are biodegradable.
I then started noticing bigger things, like how Israel uses energy, most of it from fossil fuels, a lot of it is diesel. It recently got Noble Energy to find and produce natural gas. The amount that it paid for Noble to do this to get them Gas for twenty years, is the same amount that they could have installed solar panels across Israel that would provide energy indefinitely.
In essence, at the end, I am much better at noticing plastic that is everywhere. I try to buy fewer products that come in plastic containers. I try to not use a plastic bag when I don’t have to. I make sure to turn on the heater only when I need to for how long I need to. So in a way, a 30 day challenge can make lasting effect.
“The only way to get people to act in a way that does not make us extinct is to get the government to change the destructive system we live in. “
However, most people will not do my challenge. 99.99999999% will not do what I did. So the only way to get people to act in a way that does not make us extinct is to get the government to change the destructive system we live in. To mandate reusable energy, to reduce use of plastic, to reduce meat, to reduce food waste.
From my challenge, what I most importantly realized, is that we as a society cannot focus on and attack one industry, namely big oil. By going after big oil we took on a concentrated industry with a lot of power that put up a big fight to stay afloat which caused a nearly two-decade-long setback to Climate Change fight. What would have been better, is to come together, look at all sources of pollution, look at the countries with the largest polluters: US, China, Europe, and get them to make small but important cuts where cuts can be done. This would allow for the sacrifices to be spread out across industries and countries so no one industry feels the pressure.
The second path we should have taken is to look at the small changes to our system that we would need to create to help us transition away from systems that crate climate change and pollution. As a result of this challenge I had some ideas that countries could attack we could find ways that we can mitigate big effects through new ideas.
Idea 1: Meat
This is obvious and lots of people have already talked about this. We could incentivize being vegetarian. Meat is a huge contirbutor to climate change. Producing it, feeding it, belching, the waste. Huge contributor. If we can cut consumption of it, we would free up land, free up resources, and reduce CO2 and methane outputs as well as create huge savings in health costs because vegetarian food creates more healthy people and fewer cardiac disease and less diabetes. Personally, I have been a selectetarian for years. This means I never buy meat for my home, but I eat it in restaurants and when I am at someone else’s home as a guest. This has massively cut down meat consumption for me and generally I enjoy it and don’t miss it because I eat it once or twice a week and that is enough.
Idea 2: AC and Refrigeration
One of the biggest contributors to climate change are old AC and refrigeration units. If government gave rebates to people to get new unites and turn their old ones in, we could save huge in CO2 output and mitigate effects. This would pay for itself in massive ways because AC units also heat up cities and the heat causes storms and heatwaves that we end up paying through taxes and remediation and large power bills. So to have better, newer and more efficient units would massively help city finances and effects on people. I would also say they could also encourage people to get fans, give tax rebates to renters and landlords and house owners to install new units or fans. This is a cheap way to stimulate economy and save on CO2.
Idea 3: Food Waste
Food that goes to the dump heats up, rots and creates massive green house gases. We produce too much food and throw away too much food. Creating better ways to preserve food, to control rations and to do control amount of food thrown away would massively help in lowering CO2. There are so many poor people that could eat food from restaurants and grocery stores that is tossed every day. There are countries with the poor where we could export some of the food that we would throw away. To help incentivize reduction of food waste local governments could charge by the trash bag to make sure that people don’t throw away too much as is done in Germany. We can create another trash can just for food waste. We can give rebates for garbage disposal that helps reduce food waste to the dump.
Idea 4: Autonomous Driving
Buses produce a lot of noise and smog, but less than cars. Charging more for parking, creating more easy ways to get around by bus and bike. Creating more walkable cities. Moving forward with autonomous driving so that people use services like Uber more and use their cars less. These ideas are harder than my previous ones but they do not require us to end industries but instead change how they are deployed right now. I see how Tel Aviv changed with electric scooters and bikes; people bike and scoot everywhere. As a result, traffic is less and streets are more enjoyable, even if sometimes some bikers get in the way and because roads are bad, some scooter riders get injured. Because buses run often, people take buses and often only use cars when absolutely necessary. If there was better parking infrastructure, perhaps if the cars were autonomous or could be brought to you on demand, maybe you could park it somewhere else and this would reduce need for having the car near your home, where it can be damaged or stolen.
These are just a few of the many small changes could produce a big change. We don’t need to go after one industry, we can spread out the sacrifices that we all must make if we want to survive, if we want our children to have a future. But as you can see, it isn’t easy, but it is a lot easier when we all do what we can.