10 Ways Recession Can Help the Environment

| January 28, 2008

This is a special guest post from Fion from Fair Home, on discussing how we can improve our impact on the environment.

As the world economy begins a slowdown, stock markets threaten to crash, and the USA slowly slips into recession, it’s too easy to look at the negative personal impacts of negative economic indicators.

However, it’s not all doom and gloom – recession could do wonders for the environment.

Here are 10 ways this could be helping provide a positive respite to the planet:

Reduction in Landfill

The world produces billions of tons of domestic waste each year, and 25% of this comes from the USA – even though it only accounts for 5% of the world’s population. Less consupmtion means less packaging means less material needs to be dumped in land fill.

Even when it’s recycled it needs energy which means more fossil fuel burning. Much better for the planet not to have any waste in the first place.

Fewer Mobile Phones sold

Some people change their mobile phone more often than they change their socks. It has become a throw away, fashion accesory, which means extra tonnes of toxins going into landfill and subsequently poisoning the water table.

Also, mobile phones contain elements which are mined in majority from the Democratic Republic of Congo, the sale of which funds a civil war which has killed up to 4 million people and wiped out half the world’s gorillas.

Reduced Sales of SUV’s

With less money in peoples pockets, consumers will be looking to purchase more fuel efficient cars and not a gas guzzling SUV that does 11 miles to the gallon.

Sale of Hybrid and fuel efficient vehicles, however, will rise, causing a reduction in co2 emmisions

Fewer Plasma TV’s sold

Plasma TV’s are extremely inefficient and use more electricity than the now unfashionable CRT.

With less money for people to waste it on things they don’t need there will be a reduction is such consumer goods sold, meaning less electricity is used and less fossil fuel is burnt.

Reduced Oil Burning

The burning of oil and related products such as petrol account for 7 billion tons of co2 emmisions each year.

With oil and energy prices high, a stock market crash that hits consumer spending will lead top a reduction in the need for energy and the burning of fossil fuels.

Less people killed in the streets

With a reduced need for unesscesary consumer goods, there will be less trips to the mall to waste cash on un-needed items.

Thus reducing the number of car miles and a subsequent reduction in traffic accidents and fatalities, which most commonly occur on these short journeys

Less shipping

Allthough air travel gets more press, shipping produces twice as much CO2 than airlines. In addition, ships use the lowest grade of oil available and are known to flush their tanks out at sea causing regular oil slicks.

A reduction in shipping due to a decreased consumer demand will lead to less co2 emmisions and lower pollution of the seas.

Less need for biofuel

Biofuel is bad for the planet, it takes more energy to make a litre of biofuel than it produces. It also means that more virgin rainforest is being burned to the ground to make room for cash crops such as palm nut, which is where a lot of biofuel comes from.

The fuel still has to be shipped at great expense to the point of use, and it is increasing the cost of food meaning even more virgin rainforest is cut down for production. A reduction in the Wests’ addiction to car fuel will see a reduction in the need and profitability of biofuel.

Fewer People going on holiday

Rather than flying down to Thailand for a weekend stag party, people may take a more local trip, perhaps to the Eden project to experience tropical rainforest.

Additionally, when pushed for cash people will opt for slower but less polluting transport alternatives, such as buses or trains over airplane flights – resulting in lower and less harmful emissions, and lowering the amount of air pollution entering the environment.

Consumption of Inefficient food products reduced

Farmers grow crops mostly to be fed to animals to feed a populations consumption of meat. Already more than 70% of all farming land is used for raising livestock, covering 30% of the world’s land surface, and responsible for 18% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.

The Chinese diet is changing, as the population is becoming richer they are demanding more luxury food such as meat, meaning more fields turned over to animal crops and more pesticides and fertilizer needed to grow these extra crops.

A reduction in consumer demand will cut the amount of money in the average chinese farmers pocket, causing them to go back to boringly efficient food stuffs such as rice.


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