Join me in reducing our ecological footprints!

by Huyen Do Thi Thanh, Vietnam, ELP 2014
Written on July 21, 2014.

You might have known of many simple ways to help our planet and to reduce our ecological footprint, but have you ever actually practiced them? Have you ever asked yourself if you could do better than that? Below is my experience on taking simple actions to reduce my ecological footprint on our Earth.

Story 1. Avoid flushing on airplanes. The toilet on modern airplane uses a powerful vacuum to suck the content into a tank. "The energy used in one flush is enough for an economical car to run at least 10 kilometers." This July, I took a long flight from Vietnam to USA to attend the Beahrs Environmental Leadership Program at the University of California, Berkeley. Although I used the restroom right before boarding, I still couldn’t avoid flushing on the airplane. However, I was successful in most of my domestic flights.

Story 2. Use public transportation. Last Sunday, I decided to take a bus tour from West Oakland to Yosemite National Park, instead of a private tour with a car. It’s not only more economical but also reduces my biological footprint. Of course it’s not as flexible as using a private car but I am happy that I am doing some right thing for our Earth. Why don’t you try public transportation to go to work, especially in the US?!

Story 3. Reuse water bottles. On my first day in US this July, the ELP’s board gave each of us one metal bottle and one metal cup. In the beginning, I was a bit hesitant to use the bottle because I have to clean it at the end of each day or before refilling. It took me six or seven days before I could really get used to cleaning the water bottle every day and skip using plastic water bottles. Now, I am totally comfortable carrying my metal bottle anywhere I go. Isn’t it worth trying?!

Story 4. Use shopping bags. In Berkeley, you have to pay ten cents for each paper bag when shopping. And it’s quite easy to practice this as I can save some money. But in Vietnam, it’s not that easy. You are offered to use as many plastic bags as you need for free, at any shop or market. It took me several months to get use to bringing my own shopping bags when shopping. I finally made it.

Story 6. Say no to endangered wildlife products. I visited a leather factory in Thailand last March. The factory produces a huge collection of wallets, belts, handbags, backpacks, hats, clothes and other outfits from cow, sheep and even endangered wildlife skins such as elephants, crocodiles, pythons and snakes. I was so interested in a wallet. It’s not too expensive and I can afford it, but then I learned that the wallet is made from elephant skin. The factory owner said that it’s legal because it’s made from skin of a naturally dead elephant. How can I believe that? Also, as I am working on wildlife education for Wildlife At Risk (WAR), how can I use a wallet that is made from elephant skins, even though it’s legal? I just picked another sexy wallet that has nothing to do with wildlife.

Changing a behavior is not easy at all. But if care, you can make it. I believe that you also have your own stories. Why not share it here to show how you have reduced your ecological footprint and live more friendly to our Earth?!

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