5 biggest Industries that are threatening the planet today

Everyday, through the choices we make, we support various industries that are the biggest contributors toward climate change, the plastic problem & the overall destruction of our planet - all for profit. We ingest thousands of microplastics from all the food and water packed in plastic, our air quality is getting worse by the day, the soil is getting less nutritious & we're consuming things at a faster rate than we can replenish. Many people have in their own personal capacity begun to try leading low waste & zero-waste lives, but the war we wage with plastic is only the beginning. 


As consumers we need to understand the impact of the products we purchase from phones to shampoo bottles. Here are the biggest industries responsible for climate change and other environmental issues. Read on to find out about the environmental impact of major supply chains around the world.

Fossil Fuels


Fossil Fuels such as coal, crude oil and gas make it possible for us to fly planes, drive cars and have large manufacturing factories. Petroleum itself accounts for nearly half the carbon emissions in the U.S. and about a third of global emissions. Mining, processing, and moving fossil fuels take an enormous toll on our landscapes and ecosystems.


According to National Geographic, the fossil fuel industry leases vast stretches of land for infrastructure such as wells, pipelines and access roads. Nat Geo further states that in the case of strip mining “entire swaths of terrain—including forests and whole mountaintops—are scraped and blasted away to expose underground coal or oil’ and most importantly even after operations cease, the nutrient-leached land will never return to what it once was. As a result, entire ecosystems are damages leaving wildlife scrambling to find new habitat. 


The fossil fuel industry has become the driving force for global warming.

Emission by manufacturing factories using fossil fuels.

Technology


The majority of products in the world especially phones and other electronic gadgets are made in China. “Designed in California” as Apple says but Ultimately made in China. Now “more than 60% of China’s groundwater is considered unfit for human contact”. 


Furthermore, “30% of China’s rice is contaminated with cadmium, which is used in batteries for cell phones, cameras and computers. It can cause cancer as well as bone, liver, kidney and respiratory illnesses”. So not only are we killing the planet due to our electronic addiction but we are killing fellow human beings. 


Rethink your next electronic purchase and decide if it is really worth it or are you just buying into the consumerist lifestyle we all lead.

An image of various technological devices that we use in our daily lives.

Food 


The food industry is vast. From fast food to organic food. It's hard to keep up with the latest trends. But being informed about the food that goes into your body is as important as brushing your teeth twice a day. Meat and animal agriculture is the leading contributor to deforestation in the Amazon. 


Every year millions of trees are cut in Brazil and Bolivia to make room for soy plantations. Every Burger King or McDonalds burger you eat contributes to deforestation in the Amazon. Let that sink in. If you're wondering why Amazon is so important, well let's just say without the existence of the Amazon humanity would become extinct. 

The Amazon absorbs a lot of the CO2 produced by companies such as Burger King and this helps stabilize the planet's climate.

An image showing the impact of a burger on deforestation

Apparel


From Zara to Uniqlo, fast fashion has become an addiction much like fast food. In 2015, fast the industry was responsible for 1,715 million tonnes of CO2 emissions. That number has increased greatly over the last three years.


Carbon Emissions are not the only thing that the fast fashion industry is contributing to, according to the 2017 wrap report the average water footprint of a kg of cotton is 10-20 thousand liters in countries like India and Pakistan where water is scarce.


Another aspect of the environmental impact of the clothing industry is the materials. “One wash load of polyester clothes can release 700,000 microplastic fibres into the environment”. Similar to single use plastic items, microplastics seep into oceans, rivers and other water bodies polluting the local ecosystem. A percentage of microplastics also gets absorbed into our bodies when we wear clothing made out of plastic based fibres or recycled plastic. 

An image of a massive dump of clothes with other garbage.

Personal Care 


The Major environmental risk of using most shampoos, conditioners and other personal care products is the release of chemicals into water supplies. For example most sunscreens contain chemicals that increase coral bleaching. 


You might have noticed, most of the products you use contain a slew of chemicals that you cannot pronounce. But what do these chemicals actually do? That’s the problem. Many chemicals have not been tested long enough to truly understand the long term effects of it. Marine organisms suffer the most from bottles of shampoo each person uses every year. 


Additionally the majority of personal care products are packaged in single use plastic, so next time you buy your favourite shower gel have a quick think about the long term effects of water pollution.

A bottle of a personal care product exhibiting a danger sign.

Hopefully, now that we are able to understand which industries we are supporting that are causing problems for the planet, we are able to make a conscious choice to not only reduce our own consumption patterns, but make your voice heard & to fight for change by writing in to companies that are the biggest offenders. 

Sources:

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/energy/reference/fossil-fuels/

https://www.nrdc.org/stories/fossil-fuels-dirty-facts

https://deathbydesignfilm.com/learn/https://www.edie.net/news/5/techUK-calls-for-tougher-e-waste-policies-after-illegal-exports-found-to-be-contaminating-food-chains/https://www.rainforestconcern.org/forest-facts/why-are-rainforests-importanthttps://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2019/jun/23/five-ways-fashion-damages-the-planethttps://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/fashion/environment-costs-fast-fashion-pollution-waste-sustainability-a8139386.htmlhttps://www.ucsusa.org/clean-energy/coal-and-other-fossil-fuels/hidden-cost-of-fossilshttp://mightyearth.org/mysterymeat/http://theconversation.com/change-the-way-you-wash-your-hair-to-help-save-the-environment-111113

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