Emission is a key yardstick that drives climate action in achieving the UN’s sustainable development goals. Without emission control the effect of climate change can’t be reduced as the harmful gases emitted by human activities is the primary reason for the degradation of the environment.
Emission means the problem of emitting harmful GHG gases like carbon, methane etc in the environment which directly affects the temperature of the Earth and causes severe weather patterns that destroy life on the planet. Although it primarily denotes the burning of fossil fuels that release these harmful gases, in reality, all our everyday activity adds to it.
It’s not just industrial or vehicular emission but every product we use – how we eat, dress and live comes within the purview of it. Everything – from the food that we eat to the clothes that we wear to the utensils that we use in the kitchen has an emission potential and our goal is to reduce that with more eco-friendly alternatives.
Zero Emission Day Idea
It’s this huge effect of our daily emission that led to the development of Zero Emission Day or Ze Day on September 21, 2008, a day when people around the world refrain from any fossil fuel-related activity to ascertain the importance of emission control. The idea is to “Give Our Planet One Day Off A Year” so that it can directly result in some emission reduction and indirectly influence people to adopt a zero-emission lifestyle. A Canadian graphic designer Ken Wallace working in Sea-level Projects called for this by launching a website to control emissions. The goal was to reduce emissions not reach net zero levels because we will always emit something.
How Does Ze Day Help in SDG?
The primary yardsticks of celebrating Ze Day is to
- Refrain from using fossil fuels like coal and oil for 24 hours.
- Eliminate or Minimize fossil fuel-generated electricity use for 24 hours
- Allow essential and emergency services like hospitals to function normally
- Have fun and enjoy the day with some eco-friendly activities
So, the Ze Day idea was pretty basic and fun-loving which gave rise to its wide-scale adoption since 2008. Also, it is intrinsically connected to peace and equality as emission control results in better living conditions and better opportunities for people across the world – one of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals ideas of creating Sustainable Cities and Communities. Thus, it is commemorated on September 21 which is also the International Day for Peace.
Since 2008, this simple idea has influenced many people and reached millions who took part in it after the message of giving the Earth a day off was translated to more than 15 languages.
Why Are Controlling Emissions Crucial?
Most people think controlling emission only means controlling your carbon emission but that’s not the case. Methane emitted from agricultural crop burning and other sources are equally important. In fact, the 2021 IPCC climate change report suggests that the world should move to control methane emissions.
However, carbon emission remains a critical issue and hence the importance of the carbon footprint tool in assessing our emission potential. This tool takes into consideration our energy consumption and the ways of our living to calculate our annual carbon footprint.
At present, the global carbon footprint is 4 tons per year which need to come down to 2 tons per year by 2050 to prevent the 2 degree Celsius rise in temperature.
This may seem easy apparently but it isn’t. Because countries like the United States have a carbon footprint of 16 tons per year.
As of 2019, India’s carbon footprint stands at 1.9 tons per year which is primarily because of our large scale rural population.
Already, we are reaching the 1.5 degree Celsius temperature rise threshold by 2030.
We can’t be complacent as our cities are one of the biggest polluted cities in the world, adding quite a lot of emissions. The only way to go about it is to create awareness about Ze Day and adopt a sustainable lifestyle.
How To Reduce Emission with Eco-Friendly Products?
Everything we use in our life has a carbon footprint. If we can reduce that by switching to eco-friendly alternatives then much of the emission can be reduced. Let’s take a look at how.
The mantra here should be the 5 R’s – refuse, reduce, reuse, rot and recycle.
1. Refuse single-use plastics at all places.
Even better if we carry our own bags and opt for eco-friendly alternatives to plastic like compostable trash bags in place of plastic trash bags, eco-friendly Tableware and cutleries instead of plastic styrofoam containers etc.
2. Reduce the use of plastic containing products and also products that release microplastics into the ocean.
This includes conventional cosmetics and beauty care products like sunscreens, lotions, hair sprays, etc which release microplastics in the ocean. Also regular menstrual hygiene products like sanitary napkins that are made of plastic and petrochemical products. Even plastic toothbrushes, combs and Loofahs etc should be replaced by plant-based products like neem or Bamboo toothbrush and combs.
3. Reuse our daily use products and prevent wastage.
4. Rot or compost our daily waste like fruits, vegetables and other leftover wastage and use it as manure.
Even better if we can switch to compostable alternatives like corn starch trash bags, areca leaf and sugarcane plates, bowls, spoons and forks. These products decompose in 60-90 days and can be used as manure for our garden. Thus reducing wastage and also carbon and methane emission from burning of such products.
5. Recycle things as much as possible.
So, instead of throwing the coconut shells, we can use them as eco-friendly bowls or candle stands. We can even store non-recyclable plastic things in an airtight plastic bottle to create eco-bricks which are often used for construction purposes. This prevents adding more emissions from the burning of plastics and also helps in reducing the emission potential of the construction industry.
So, that’s how eco-friendly products can help in reducing emissions which is precisely the reason why we need to adopt them on Zero Emission Day.
Apart from all this, we can reduce emissions by making way for a more energy-efficient way of living like using public transport, solar panels, thermostats, air drying our clothes, running a full cycle dishwasher or unplugging chargers.
Remember each and every act matters – everything we do causes emission. It’s like breathing in and out. To be alive we need to take care of that breath, take care of the emission.