How have environmentally friendly activities changed over the past 10 years?

Recycling, use of electric cars, dieting and fashion have all evolved

Stock image. Photo by Singkham. (Pexels)

Much like many aspects of society, activities that benefit the environment are always evolving.

But compared to recent times, exactly how much have things such as recycling, dieting or using electric vehicles changed or evolved?

We asked Dr. Jiaying Zhao, an associate professor in the Department of Psychology and in the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability at the University of British Columbia.

Zhao also co-leads the Happy Climate project, which helps individuals and groups develop a plan for reducing their impact on climate change and increasing happiness.

In the past 10 years, Zhao said, there’s been an evolution in each of the environmentally friendly activities below:

  • Recycling. People still are enthusiastic about recycling, although some materials have become more of a focus in recent years. “Single-use plastics (bottles, cups) are recycled more, and more food waste is being composted,” Zhao said.
  • Electric vehicles. Each year, the advantages that electric vehicles offer become more enticing to consumers. With gas prices at a record high these days, that will only intensify. “Their range has increased, charging stations have proliferated, prices have gone down and governments are offering more incentives, which make it more attractive for consumers,” Zhao said.
  • Dieting. People are buying more plant-based foods and sustainably grown foods then ever before. “People are buying the popular brands such as Beyond Meat or Impossible Burgers,” Zhao said. “Milk alternatives (almond milk, cashew milk, soy milk) are (also) on the rise.”
  • Fashion. People are even switching up how they dress, Zhao said. “Fashion has changed, where more people are buying clothing items made from recycled materials,” she said.
  • Avoiding car use. This could really intensify if gas prices continue to rise. “More people are biking or carpooling, as opposed to driving alone,” Zhao said.

Zhao did caution that some of the most popular actions to try and help the environment aren’t the most helpful.

“The most popular actions include recycling, turning off lights, and buying organic or non-GMO foods,” Zhao said. “These actions tend to have a small impact on the environment.”

Are you doing the things listed above? Let us know in the comments below.

About the Author:

Keith is a member of Graham Media Group's Digital Content Team, which produces content for all the company's news websites.