Mother Earth Day: advice from an ecologist to take care of the planet

We lead such frantic lives, often on autopilot, that every now and then we have to stop and ask ourselves, “Am I making the best decisions for myself and for the planet? Today, International Mother Earth Day, is a good time to take a look at the environmental factors that can make a difference in our everyday lives and raise awareness about the importance of making responsible decisions.

This year’s Mother Earth Day is the first to be celebrated as part of the United Nations Decade of Ecosystem Restoration. As the UN points out, the health of our ecosystems is directly linked to the health of the planet and its inhabitants. This day reminds us of the importance of striking a balance between our natural ecosystems and our way of life. It is essential for us to learn to live in a more sustainable and planet-friendly way in order to improve all aspects that affect the environment.

What does it mean to be an environmental scientist?

My earliest childhood memories were already a clear indicator of what was to become my passion and profession years later. I remember being particularly interested in doing outdoor activities and enjoying nature. Growing up, my tastes became a way of life, especially when I decided to study environmental science for my bachelor’s degree and become an environmental scientist.

But every time I am asked questions about my profession, it causes some confusion. What does an environmental scientist do anyway? In the 30 years that have passed since the creation of this diploma, we still generally know little about this profession, even though it weighs more and more in society. If we environmental scientists have anything to be proud of, it’s environmental education and awareness have developed in all areas over the years.

Surely you know at least one person with an environmental spirit in your entourage. Many of us grew up worrying about the ozone layer; we have all given our loved ones gifts with recycled materials (such as the use of the famous roll of toilet paper); we have internalized the importance of recycling in our homes.

In addition to being a volunteer with the Association of Environmental Scientists of Madrid and then the Association of Environmental Scientists of Madrid, I help companies large and small orient their business strategy towards the field of sustainability so that they integrate initiatives and projects that help the planet. In practice, however, each of us can make decisions in our daily lives that may seem like small changes or initiatives but can mean a lot to our planet.

Want advice to support sustainable development and limit environmental impact?

  • Engage with small producers

You can shop at traditional food markets or even discover new shopping alternatives in your neighborhood. Nowadays, the initiatives of producer associations are developing more and more. These allow you to buy high quality food from home, filling your basket without any difficulty.

Take advantage of every opportunity to take advantage of small producers: every time I travel in the summer, I do my shopping in traditional bakeries and in the garden of the small corner shop. The prices are as good as in the department stores and, moreover, these types of businesses derive most of their income from the rest of the year during the summer.

The second-hand market isn’t what it used to be. Gone are the days when thrift stores had next to nothing, and what they had was in bad shape. Now we have different platforms where you can find a lot of items: all styles of clothing, furniture, toys… If you prefer the shopping experience, there are more and more physical stores, like second-hand bestsellers.

You can also find out if the brands you love have pre-owned programs and how they do it. Some furniture stores sell used items in good condition at very competitive prices.

  • Take some time and try to understand your appliances and electronics

Let’s face it. I’m the first one who doesn’t read all those pages of tiny print instructions when buying a brand new, brand new appliance. I admit, I learned some interesting things that help limit our water and energy consumption: use shorter washing cycles at lower temperatures, depending on the clothes to be washed (ex: sheets); think about the best place for food in the refrigerator so that it lasts longer; or use the air conditioning wisely, especially since it is misunderstood because you end up pressing all the buttons out of frustration trying to lower the temperature.

  • Change the temperature of your showers

We all like to feel like in a sauna, but too high a temperature can not only lead to high energy expenditure, but also damage the lipid layer of the skin by dehydrating it.

  • Drive efficiently and safely

Let’s face it: we are not racing drivers. Safety must always come first, as well as an appropriate speed within the established limits. Follow efficient driving measures like gradual braking or stay within an appropriate rev range to avoid unnecessary fuel consumption.

  • Adopt a balanced seasonal diet

I would love to have a good Argentine veal T-bone (perfectly cooked) Roquefort sauce and strawberries for dessert any day of the year. But hey: we can not say that it is sustainable. Take advantage of seasonal fruits and vegetables and consume them at the best time of the year, keeping a balanced diet with different sources of protein, carbohydrates and fats.

Don’t believe everything you see on social media and do your homework. Remember that social media supports a capitalist production system which is obviously unsustainable: you don’t need to go to Bali to take a vacation, or buy the latest fashion. A vacation can be even more rewarding in a small-town cottage if you’re in good company, even without the splashy vistas. Of course, there won’t be any paddy fields to post pictures, but what’s more important than that are the experiences we have in our environment and the time we spend with those around us.

These are just a few small examples that we can incorporate into our daily lives, but we don’t have to be top of our class. Caring for the environment starts with small steps that each of us can incorporate as much as possible.

Let’s stop with the catastrophic messages that nothing can be done and that we are doomed. Over the past decade, work has continued on global environmental protection policies. Both developed and developing countries have decreased their dependence on fossil fuels and new technologies are beginning to emerge that we could only dream of a few years ago, such as hydrogen vehicles.

If we’ve learned anything over the past few years, it’s that we’ve moved on, so let’s prove that worst-case scenarios are just predictions – not our future.