Written by: Chloe Walker
Eco-Friendly Practices Across The Globe
All around the world, both developed and developing countries are being called on to respond to the increasing challenges of climate change and pollution. Some countries, however, have outdone themselves when it comes to sustainable and eco-friendly practices. Whether it’s a commitment to conservation, a sophisticated update to public transport or policies to keep the air clean, many countries are proving to be very inspiring in their efforts to live sustainably.
Leading in solar panel usage: China
Curiously, a country not typically known for its eco-friendliness (it has, after all, one of the highest rates of carbon emissions in the world), China is actually leading the way when it comes to solar panel usage (and wind generated energy as well!). The United States and Japan follow close behind in solar PV capacity, with the UK in 8th place.
According to UK company MyPower, solar PV used in UK industry and business is just 1/3 of the price of grid supplied electricity, and panels installed now will “still produce over 80% of the electricity they are producing today in 25 years’ time,” making them a cost-effective and environmentally friendly option. With more and more options available to business owners and individuals alike, there’s no excuse not to consider this increasingly popular alternative.
Leading country in recycling: Germany
Recycling rates have definitely increased in the UK over the last few years, with QCR claiming that the UK managed to recycle 104 million tonnes of waste in 2017. Still, we’re lagging far behind Germany when it comes to responsibly managing our paper, glass and metal waste. While America recycles just 35% of its waste, Germany recycles 68%, and is getting better every year. India and China are two of the worst offenders, with production of waste far outstripping their recycling rates, and with plastic often being sent elsewhere.
The hope is that countries like Germany can inspire others with their effective recycling policies, national awareness of responsible waste management, and the full participation of retailers and supermarkets.
Leading country in air and water quality: France
The EPI (Environmental Performance Index) consistently rates France as one the most eco-friendly and sustainable countries. The country has top notch water sanitation and has taken admirable steps towards protecting its biodiversity across different habitats. This means that the French are top rated in protecting endangered species, and is one of the best countries in the world when it comes to defending natural biomes and marine protected areas.
Many of France’s noteworthy wine and dairy farms are also making encouraging developments in sustainable nitrogen management, ensuring the national treasure of wine and cheese making is preserved for future generations.
Leading country in sustainable building development: Canada
The Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design, or LEED, ranks countries according to their sustainable development and commitment to eco-friendly urban building practices. The green building industry is growing rapidly, and it’s Canadian companies who are taking the lead.
They’ve consistently shown they have what it takes to implement building codes that put energy efficiency and sustainability at the forefront. Notable green buildings like the VanDusen Botanical Gardens Visitor Centre and the Greenstone building act as inspiration, and countries like India and Brazil, noted for their rapid urbanization and immense populations, are now following close behind.
Leading country in the protection of forests: Finland
Being one of the world’s wealthiest industrialized economies, Finland is certainly well positioned to take drastic action in protecting the environment. In fact, conservationists have been working hard to protect the country’s wealth of natural biodiversity since the 1980s, and today Finland has a reputation for investing in the maintenance of their pristine forests. Today, Finland’s annual forest growth rate exceeds the total timber harvest, and the country’s natural beauty draws in plenty of tourism to boot.
Environmental protection policies have ranged from reducing emissions to sustainable fishing to funding sophisticated research and development into technologies to preserve earth’s most fragile and precious ecosystems. Finland is a famously beautiful country – and their inspiring attitude towards sustainability only makes it better.
Thirty years ago, there was little to no consideration for what nations as a whole could do for the environment. Times have changed, however, and no country can afford to ignore their contribution to the global realities of climate change. Fortunately, several countries are stepping up in their own way and finding novel ways to ensure a clean, safe and beautiful environment not just for their own citizens, but for the world.