As the world faces extreme weather events like floods, wildfires and heatwaves because of climate change and global warming, the case for climate action is growing strong.
One critical aspect of this is ozone layer depletion and air pollution. The ozone layer is a protective layer in the Earth’s stratosphere which reflects the ultraviolet rays of the Sun and protects life on Earth.
Without this layer, life on Earth becomes vulnerable as it harms humans, animals and plants all alike.
This starts when we use things that release toxins like chlorine and bromine or other volatile organic compounds into the atmosphere which often comes from industrial and household wastes. In fact, our daily-use substances like shampoos, conditioners, hair gels, hair sprays, insect repellent sprays etc. could release these substances in the air which not only degrades the air quality but can potentially harm the Earth’s protective layer.
Ozone Layer Depletion Causing Climate Change
This layer is very sensitive to temperature changes and hence the rise in temperature because of global warming is gradually depleting the 0.1inch thin layer thereby creating holes in it. Ozone or specialized oxygen layers that absorb and reflect the UV rays are important to maintain the climate on Earth. Without it, the ice caps melt more quickly and acid rain and other catastrophes happen which especially happens in the Arctic and the Antarctic where huge ozone holes have been found. Countries like Argentina, Chile, New Zealand, Australia are most affected by this but it’s the large emitters like the US, Europe, China, India that cause most problems which in turn affects them as climate change happens.
To remedy this, the world signed the Montreal Treaty in 1987 to restrict the emission of chlorofluorocarbons or CFCs.
However, this alone isn’t solving the problem as air pollution continues to deteriorate at a faster rate than ever.
India signed the Vienna Convention Ozone treaty in 1991 and the Montreal Protocol in 1992. Thereby agreeing to phase out the emission of ozone depletion particles like CFCs. So far we have phased out
25,000 tonnes of ozone-depleting particles and have a potential 23,000 tonnes more
And for this only industrial emission control isn’t the solution, the key is to reduce the emission from household waste, especially from the things we use in our daily life.
Why Do We Need To Switch To Eco-friendly Products?
In 2016, a WHO report showed 10 out 20 Indian cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Amritsar and other urban spaces which are fast adding population have the worst air quality.
India is the 5th most polluted country in the world with 21 cities in the ranks of the Top 30 cities of the world.Most Indian cities exceed the WHO threshold of air pollution by 500%.
The key reason for this is industrial emission, pollution from crop and plastic burning, and toxic substances emitted from our daily use products.
So, along with industrial action, we need to make a switch to eco-friendly sustainable living to counter this which is one of the core ways of UN’s Sustainable Development Goals 13, Climate Action.
Eco-friendly Products That Can Help
Apart from some basic steps like using the air conditioners and refrigerators less, travelling less on cars and using public transport more, there are certain eco-friendly products that can improve air quality and we, the common people can certainly make all the difference!
1. Shampoos & Conditioners
Our regular shampoos, conditioners and hair gels often have VOCs or volatile organic compounds that can cause air pollution if accumulated over a period of time. So, a simple act of switching to naturally made organic shampoos, conditioners and hair gels is the key. And most of these have enhanced nutritional benefits like onion oils, silk proteins etc.
2. Hair Sprays & Insect Repellent Sprays
Just like shampoos and conditioners, sprays, deodorants, perfumes and insect disinfectants are formidable VOC emitters that add to the pollution. So, instead of using them adopt eco-friendly alternatives like Citronella mosquito repellents, naturally made hair sprays and deodorants. They are chemical-free and won’t react with your skin.
3. Compostable Trash Bags & Cutleries
This might not seem apparent but most of our air pollution burden is due to the overuse of plastics. Plastics like trash bags and food containers can’t be decomposed and often get burned releasing toxic nitrous gas and petrochemical derivatives into the atmosphere. For this to end, we need to adopt a plastic-free lifestyle and switch to compostable alternatives like corn starch made trash bags and areca leaf, bamboo, or sugarcane bagasse made cutleries. Even things like coconut cutleries which can be used for the long term is a better solution. These things can easily decompose in 60-90 days and can be used as kitchen composts.
4. Toothbrush, Combs and Loofahs
Similar to compostable trash bags and cutleries, our plastic toothbrushes, combs and Loofahs add to the plastic burning problem. So, why not switch to a more easily available natural variety like neem or bamboo toothbrushes, combs and Loofahs. Neem even has certain health benefits.
5. Oil Diffusers
Lastly, oil diffusers are the perfect thing to enhance air quality indoors as the natural oil that diffuses into the air to absorb the harmful particles to a certain extent. They might not be great in reducing air pollution and ozone depletion but can certainly make your life better.
So, there you go, a clear mechanism of adopting sustainable products for better air quality, fulfilling SDG13 Climate Action goal.
Remember the importance of Clean Air and Blue Skies in our life and try to protect the air we breathe in. That’s precisely the reason the ozone layer is crucial and that’s why the world celebrates Ozone Day on September 16.
Let us regain our breathe this Ozone Day as we pledge for a greener life – a step at a time.