Discovery Science: Earth – Environmental Protection – Environmental Concerns in Everyday Life

Earth Science: Environmental Protection – Environmental Concerns in Everyday Life

Climate change and environmental degradation call for global strategies to achieve sustainable development and balance economic and ecological goals.

However, environmental protection begins with each individual.

Public awareness is rising that every individual can-and must-contribute to protecting the environment in order to preserve it. Surveys show that more and more people are willing to alter their daily habits in response to climate change and world- wide environmental degradation, for example, by changing their consumption patterns.

In the industrialized nations, demand is expanding for organically produced and fair-trade goods.

Organic products

The most significant growth rates have been seen in organic foods, which have earned a permanent place on the shelves of most supermarkets and can now even be found at discount stores. Buyers of organic foods are opting for eco-friendly production, without chemical or synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, and with more natural living conditions for farm animals.

Fair-trade products guarantee a living wage for growers in developing countries, along with basic environmental standards and labor rights. For many consumers, the search for nontoxic and “green” alternatives extends beyond food products, a trend that companies have been quick to recognize. Manufacturers are reducing unnecessary packaging, offering energy-saving appliances, or building furniture from wood grown on sustainable plantations.

Clothing firms sell organic cotton T-shirts or athletic shoes made from recycled tires; paint and building supply companies highlight their products’ nontoxic ingredients and environmentally friendly disposability; the IT industry offers “green” computers; and the automobile industry boasts of low CO2 emissions rather than horsepower. “Green” labels and seals of approval are available for many products and services, such as free-range eggs, renewable electricity sources, and even hotels.

Sustainable products come at a price, of course. For instance, a compact fluorescent lightbulb costs significantly more than a traditional bulb. However, its longer life and low electricity usage compensate several times over for the difference in price. Even when the cost-benefit calculation is not positive for the individual, it is still considered worthwhile for the environmental positives.


LOHAS “Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability,” refers to choices made by a new generation of mainly well-off consumers. Unlike earlier environmentalists, their aim is not a simpler life without consumer goods.

Instead, they invest in sustainable projects, use solar power, drive hybrid cars, eat organic foods, and shop in eco-boutiques.

Market researchers estimate that some one-third of U.S. consumers are followers of this new “green” movement.