Juxtaposing the notions of simple solutions and big problems seems oxymoronic, does it not? Picture yourself living in an apartment that is relatively small considering the number of roommates you live with. Now, imagine that every single one of your roommates engages in at least one action that makes your life a living hell. One of them may be a chain smoker, the other a slob. Perhaps the guy with the curly hair likes to use up all the hot water before you even have the chance to set your foot in the bathroom. You can barely stand the situation, but you are left with no other choice.
Now, picture the planet Earth as that apartment, and your roommates as the planet’s population. The scope and the amount of problems that the Earth faces is staggering and overwhelming. Surprisingly, however, the perceived oxymoronic nature of the dilemma evaporates upon realizing that simple solutions can, in fact, solve big problems.
Bid Farewell to Obesity
A person’s gluttony is no longer just a personal problem, nor has it been for a long time. Overeating implies excessive consumption, which, in turn, entails massive expenses and pollution caused by those factors at the point of manufacturing. For example, consuming large amounts of junk food results in tons of plastic waste that ends up cluttering the oceans. Catering to such inordinate needs by means of production, transportation and cooling requires a large amount of energy and fossil fuels, which ends up taking its toll on the planet. Bid farewell to obesity and watch the dominoes fall towards a problem-free solution.
Reigning in Compulsive Consumption
This closely ties in with the solution above, on account of its relation to the amount of energy required and waste created in order to satisfy the rampant consumption of various products. People would rather burn fossil fuels than simply walk to their destinations. They also want all the latest gadgets, despite the shared functionality with the older ones that will end up as nothing but plastic and metallic waste. Electricity is being consumed with reckless abandon, and easily so, because the average person disregards the amount of coal that needs to be burned in order to provide said energy. Until the alternative and efficient fuel/energy sources see the light of day, a simple solution to a big problem caused by massive levels of consumption is just to consume less.
Entomophagy? Why Not?
The human population of Earth is ballooning out of proportion. This means that the amount of arable land required to produce food and, paradoxically, feed the animals that will end up serving as our food rises in tow. To create that sustainable, arable land, forests need to be cut down. Do you see the problem? This is where our little buddies come into play. They are extremely easy to farm and they provide great nutritional value and protein/mass ratio. This paradigm shift might be offensive to people who are disgusted by insects, but the wheels have already been set into motion. Mind the legs stuck between your teeth.
Cut down on the commute time and expenses by either moving closer to work or simply sharing means of transportation with your fellow workers. The solution is straightforward and self-explanatory. You will end up burning less fossil fuels, in addition to saving both money and time. Most importantly, you will take part in reducing the global dependence on unsustainable sources of energy. It is a win-win scenario for both you and your planetary home.
The Importance of Efficiency
Efficiency, in general, is the ultimate panacea to global problems. It is a seemingly simple solution that people ignore for the sake of immediate gratification. When you think about it, an average person cares more about the aesthetics of any given product rather than its utility and efficiency. Opting for more efficient solutions cuts down the energy footprint and ends up saving you money in the process. Efficient air conditioners, refrigerators or other appliances can drastically cut the energy consumption (always look for the Energy Star label), while weatherproofing windows reduces the amount of energy required to heat the interior during winter, or cool it during summer. It is a way to kill two birds with one stone.
Take the Cross to the Vampires
It sounds ridiculous, but your home is under a vampiric siege. Of course, I refer to the appliances and electronic devices that remain plugged in during most of the day, and not the mythical bloodsuckers… although the former are even scarier when one considers the ramifications. According to EnergyStar.gov, an average American household spends about $100 dollars per year on account of the energy drained by devices in stand-by mode. This amounts to a whopping 100 billion kilowatt-hours of annual U.S. electricity consumption. Divorce the vampires from their means of sustenance and help solve a global problem. Unplug your devices when they are not in use.
Change Your Light Bulbs
Such a simple solution as changing your light bulbs can alleviate one of the greatest problems that the planet faces; enormous energy consumption. Even if you do not care about the global problems, opting for a compact fluorescent light bulb instead of the regular incandescent variety can save you money in the long term. CFL bulbs are more energy-efficient and they last up to ten times longer than their energy-hungry cousins. If every American household replaced just one regular bulb with a CFL one, it would prevent nearly 90 billion pounds of gas emissions from power plants that provide energy.
Reduce the Consumption of Hot Water
Everything ties into the energy consumption and the footprint it leaves on our planet. That includes the consumption of hot water. Remember that curly-haired guy from the introduction; his actions represent a big problem because he fails to realize that his long, hot showers have a profound effect on the planet. Naturally, he is not solely responsible for the issues, but the cumulative burden he is a part of cannot be ignored. The simple solution entails wrapping your water heater (especially if it is old) with an insulation blanket to help preserve the heat. You can also get low-flow shower heads or wash your clothes in warm, instead of scalding hot, water. Every little bit helps.
Recycling Is Your Friend
Recycling is possibly the one approach that trumps all other simple solutions. The first aspect is that it drastically reduces the amount of waste produced by an average person. The second aspect is that is conserves natural resources. The third, and perhaps the most important, aspect is that it saves energy. It is a simple and multi-faceted solution that tackles multiple problems in one fell swoop. What more could you ask for in a friend?
Save the Forests
Sustainable timber harvesting is the name of the game. When buying wood products, make sure they are certified to have been produced by means of sustainable harvest. Another step you could take in ascertaining that the future generations don’t have to gawk at barren wastelands is to simply plant a tree. It is a small step, of course, because it would take planting nearly 14 billion trees for the next ten years in order to make up for the loss of trees in the past decade. Programs such as the ‘Billion Tree Campaign’ should suffice as an inspiration to get off your butts and help solve a monumental problem.
Do you recall the analogy from the beginning? The crowded apartment and a mess of irresponsible, unruly roommates? Well, now you get to enjoy your life in peace and harmony, together with people who realized that big problems can have simple solutions. For every Goliath out there, there is a David. It is up to you to roll up your sleeves and grab the impending calamity by its horns.