By Grace Di Pierri of www.green-and-simple-living.com
Living Green has become fashionable, but too many people are still not listening. With everyone seemingly going green around us, there's still a great deal of misunderstanding or confusion about what it means to go green. Many people, in fact, a great majority, don't really get what the terms eco-friendly, sustainable, or earth-conscious mean.
There's a lot of talk about global warming, the greenhouse effect, your carbon footprint, and renewable or alternative energy sources. Again, the bulk of the population may be vaguely aware of the green movement, but there is a general lack of a fundamental understanding of how all of these things are interrelated-how our actions may determine the very survival of Earth and our own continued well-being in the not so distant future.
Sustainability, or low-impact living, as it relates to a way of life, refers to our ability to use natural resources in such a way that we ensure their availability for generations to come, ideally to the end of time-or forever and ever.
In the broader sense, sustainability is the ability to endure-or last forever. This ability depends on the continuation of the natural cycle of life on earth-all living things-and their biological systems without disruption. These processes have sustained life on Earth for millions of years.
The Industrial Revolution, the population explosion, our general disregard for and overconsumption of our natural resources have caused irreparable damage. Many delicate ecosystems have suffered, thereby causing an imbalance in the natural cycle of life on the planet, negatively impacting all living systems.
Sustainable development is based on the idea that we must now take steps to not use up the world's resources in the present to meet our current needs and to make certain that they will be available for our descendants.
Living green refers to living a sustainable lifestyle where individuals, or communities, attempt to reduce their carbon footprint, or ecological impact, by living in a manner that uses Earth's natural resources responsibly and respectfully.
This includes changing how they live by adopting sustainable habits of recycling, reducing waste, using alternative sources of energy, conservation of natural resources, and eating organically-grown food. Click here to find out more tips for going green and calculate your carbon footprint.
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Global warming-The gradual warming of the Earth's temperature as a result of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide and other gases, trapping heat from the sun in the Earth's atmosphere. This rise in the Earth's temperature is disrupting the delicate balance of nature resulting in extreme climate change, the melting of polar icecaps, a rise in sea level, and extinction of species.
Greenhouse gases-Atmospheric gases, such as carbon dioxide and methane, which trap some of the heat radiating from the Earth's surface so that it cannot escape back into space. This is called the greenhouse effect.
Non-renewable energy sources-Energy sources that come from fossil fuels, such as coal, oil, and natural gas, formed over millions of years from fossilized plants and animals (yup, dinosaurs), and that once used cannot be replaced.
Renewable energy sources-Energy sources that are continually renewed and will never run out, such as the sun, the wind, and waves. They are also called alternative or sustainable energy sources.
Carbon footprint--It is the sum of all your activities and a measure of your ecological impact on the planet. The more energy or resources you use or waste the heavier your footprint. Taking steps to reduce consumption and waste, recycle more, use less fuel, conserve water and electricity, and purchase recycled, eco-friendly, or organic products lowers your impact.
Ecosystem--Consists of all the physical and biological components of an environment and the interaction between them and the physical world. In other words, all plants, creatures, and micro-organisms living in and interacting with their natural habitat.