Act Now @ Youth Forum – Participants at the UN Youth Forum holding signs in support of the Act Now campaign. UN Photo
Facts and Figures
We can all live sustainably and help build a better world for everyone. But this means taking a look at how we live and understanding how our lifestyle choices impact the world around us. We make hundreds of thousands of decisions during the course of our lives. The choices we make and the lifestyles we live have a profound impact on our planet.
In nature, there is no such thing as garbage. Everything in nature is reused or recycled. But we live in a throwaway society. We use something once, and then it’s garbage, ending up in landfills or in our oceans, lakes and rivers. And the wasted energy contributes to air pollution and climate change.
Use the UN carbon footprint calculator to find out how much greenhouse gas emissions you contribute through your daily activities, such as using electricity, driving a car, or disposing of waste.
The Sustainable Development Goals include targets (4.7 and 12.8) to ensure that, by 2030, people everywhere have the relevant information, education and awareness for sustainable development and lifestyles in harmony with nature.
Here’s where every one of us can make a difference
Electricity drives our lifestyles. Although some 790 million people in the world still lack access to electricity, for the rest, everything from a computer to a television to refrigerator needs energy. We don’t have to give up our appliances — but we can use them in a way that doesn’t waste energy.
By turning off your lights and using energy-efficient lightbulbs, you can reduce your energy consumption and save money. If people worldwide switched to energy-efficient light bulbs, the world would save US$120 billion annually.
Switching to renewable energy sources, such as solar, wind or hydroelectric power, also means less pollution and new and better jobs. Currently, around 80% of global energy and 66% of electrical generation are supplied from fossil fuels.
17% of all food available at consumer levels is wasted. This amounts to a big waste of resources used in production, such as land, water, energy and other inputs, and unnecessary greenhouse gas emissions. By reducing food waste, you can save money, reduce emissions, and help preserve resources for future generations.
Purchasing local foods that are in season can also help the environment, reducing the impact of shipping food. Local and seasonal produce also tastes better.
Shifting to healthy diets that include sustainability considerations can contribute to reductions in environmental impacts on land, energy and water use.
A diet that is higher in plant-based foods, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds, and lower in animal-based foods, has a lower environmental impact (greenhouse gas emissions and energy, land, and water use).
From 2010 to 2019, e-waste generated globally grew from 5.3 to 7.3 kilograms per capita annually. Meanwhile, the environmentally sound recycling of e-waste increased at a much slower pace – from 0.8 to 1.3 kilograms per capita annually.