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You and the Environment: How much impact can one person actually have?

Emma Rowan

“But, what difference can I make, why does it matter if don’t have my own garden? The planet is already too damaged.” 

                              It’s a question we’ve all probably pondered at some point – how significant can the changes we make really be in fighting against the mistreatment of our environment? It’s hard to understand how one person/household can make a difference in such a globalised issue.  So, let’s talk about it.

Carbon Dioxide Emissions and You

One of the biggest environmental issues humanity faces today is the excessive emission of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide.  In order to survive, plants undergo a process called photosynthesis which absorbs carbon dioxide and releases oxygen. Fruit and vegetables also undergo photosynthesis to grow. Having your own garden contributes to the reduction of current carbon dioxide levels, ultimately helping to decrease the contribution to climate change.

Your Carbon Footprint

Growing your own fruit and vegetables will substantially reduce your carbon footprint. When you purchase fruit, vegetables and herbs from a supermarket, they have often travelled a significant distance (this is known as ‘food miles’). Often transported by car or plane, fossil fuels are then used to fuel these vehicles. This releases nitrogen oxide which has a detrimental impact on the surrounding environment. When growing your own fruit, veggies and herbs, you are not accumulating food miles and therefore not contributing to the release of fossil fuels for its transport, ultimately reducing your carbon footprint!

Erosion Reduction

Erosion is a process in which natural materials are slowly worn down, usually by water and wind, however humans drastically increase the rate at which this occurs through their presence – this can be detrimental to whole ecosystems and habitats. Mulch and plant roots prevent erosion through holding soil in place, preventing it from being worn down. This helps to preserve ecosystems as it stops invasive sediment being spread through streams, roads and drains.

More than just Solar Panels

Strategically planting trees can help to reduce energy costs in the home by 15% to 50%. Planting trees on the north side of your house prevents the need of heating/cooling in summer/winter, which ultimately lowers electricity usage that is predominately compiled of fossil fuels, therefore reducing your carbon footprint. This will also reduce your electricity bill, which is an added bonus!

Food Wastage, no more!

Growing your own food greatly influences your food waste, in fact, a survey conducted by The Australian Institute found that 45% of households that gardened strongly agreed that they wasted less and/or utilised food scraps in their gardens. If less than half of the 4.7 million Australian households growing food are able to reduce their food waste by just half, two million tonnes of greenhouse gas emission can be avoided!

Sources

Gardening and global warming. (2020, January 17). Sustainable Gardening Australia. Retrieved September 9, 2020, from https://www.sgaonline.org.au/what-gardeners-can-do-about-climate-change/

Reduce impacts of gardening. (2014, July 31). Sustainable Gardening Australia. Retrieved September 9, 2020, from https://www.sgaonline.org.au/your-garden-and-your-ecological-footprint/

Wise, P. (2014, March). Grown Your Own: The potential value and impacts of residential and community food gardening. The Australia Institute |. https://www.tai.org.au/sites/default/files/PB%2059%20Grow%20Your%20Own.pdf

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About the Social Impact Projects

The Griffith University Social Impact Projects address five significant social justice issues faced by vulnerable communities. Expanding on the work done by Project Safe Space, and Project Open Doors, the Griffith University Social Impact Projects bring Community Partners, students and the University together to work collaboratively in the innovative solution design sprints. Initially designed to address Mental Health and Wellbeing of Griffith students, we soon realised this was a much larger issue intersecting across a number of social justice issues for students and the wider community. The Social Impact Projects aim to contribute in some small way to improving these social issues.