Efforts Towards Decarbonization that We Can Make
Domestic Disparities in Climate Action
One of the questions posed was: “Compared to governments, companies, and media, how would you rate your own efforts in addressing global warming?” Approximately 36% of respondents answered “very enthusiastic.” In contrast, only 21% gave similar ratings to media, 19% to local governments, 17% to their countries, and 13% to major corporations, indicating that people rate their own efforts higher than those of any other institutions.
These responses reveal the core of their thoughts on climate action. 46% of the participants stated that they don’t need to change their lifestyles, with “I feel proud of the activities I am currently engaged in” being the most common reason. While some may genuinely be taking steps to address climate change, the survey suggests that less than 25% are prioritizing actions directly impacting their lives, such as favoring public transportation over private cars or being willing to pay for eco-friendly products.
Nevertheless, this survey highlights the need for clearer roles and responsibilities of governments, companies, and citizens in addressing climate change.
Initiating Decarbonization through Knowledge
In the pursuit of decarbonizing the energy sector by 2035, the United States is investing in clean power plants and all-electric homes, aiming to phase out gas stoves and promote electric cooking. However, around 35% of households in the U.S. still use gas stoves. The Biden administration is considering incentives to encourage the transition to electric stoves.
Gas companies, facing potential decline, have invested in campaigns promoting gas cooking as affordable and delicious.
The Sierra Club, a prominent environmental organization, approaches this issue from the angle of health concerns, highlighting that nitrogen dioxide (NO2) emissions from gas stoves can pose respiratory health risks, particularly for asthma patients and children. The organization created an animated video illustrating the impact of gas cooking on health and advocating for a shift to cleaner alternatives.
However, amidst conflicting statements about merits and drawbacks, it’s challenging for consumers to discern the right actions to take. Accessing trustworthy information and understanding the current situation are crucial steps, especially in these times of necessary change.
While living alone in Sweden, I’ve become more conscious of consumption in my daily life. Sweden has a detailed system for waste separation, such as washing and drying containers and disposing of organic waste in designated paper bags. Since clean waste is directly sorted at waste collection centers, there’s no need for garbage bags. This allows for a clear understanding of the types and proportions of waste produced.
Sweden boasts a globally high recycling rate, with only about 1% of waste ending up in landfills, 52% being converted into energy, and 47% being recycled into new products. Additionally, a deposit system is in place for bottles, cans, and PET bottles. People can return these items to designated recycling boxes and receive a deposit.
Furthermore, Sweden’s numerous second-hand stores offer various items like dishes, clothes, furniture, toys, and books. Some even feature cafes. The widespread availability of second-hand stores indicates their deep integration into the local community.
Personally, I’ve found unexpected treasures in second-hand stores, buying items like dishes and vases. The feeling of embarking on a treasure hunt during a casual walk back from the supermarket is enjoyable. The ease of finding valuable items and the idea of extending their lifespans through reuse and passing them on to someone else is appealing.
Considering the cycle of goods, I realized that I had discarded many usable items during decluttering or cleaning sprees. The simple cycle of prolonging the life of items rather than discarding them can significantly reduce the need for new resources. We might need to reconsider what we’re about to discard—is it really waste?
The Pros and Cons of Black Friday
November 26th. As Black Friday approaches, the city seems a bit more restless. Online sales have already begun, and personally, in Denmark where prices are high, I find myself window shopping every day in anticipation of a chance to enjoy shopping.
While there are expectations for a surge in “revenge consumption” due to the aftermath of COVID-19 restrictions, criticisms against the excessive consumerism promoted by Black Friday sales are growing.
The campaign by Patagonia with the message “Don’t Buy This Jacket” remains fresh in memory, rejecting the culture of overconsumption.
However, global supply chain disruptions and the growing prevalence of e-commerce have cast a shadow over Black Friday.
Issues like production delays, congested ports, and driver shortages have led to inventory shortages during the holiday season, putting pressure on consumers.
A notable behavior is panic buying and hoarding, where consumers are buying more than they need and returning items. This behavior stems from concerns about shipping delays and the desire to secure items while they’re available. Retailers’ lenient return policies play a significant role in this behavior.
While easy returns are convenient for consumers, they exacerbate stock shortages and contribute to a negative cycle. Excessive returns are also unfavorable from an environmental standpoint, as a substantial portion of returned goods, especially seasonal items, end up being discarded.
In the U.S. alone, the total value of returned goods was $428 billion last year, significantly higher than the $369 billion in 2019.
As the e-commerce market continues to expand, it might be time for us to reevaluate how we interact with online shopping.