When we think about the impact humans have on the natural world, our minds tend to drift towards the negative. Many people only consider the damage humans have caused to the environment. However, with a global ambition to care for our planet and incredible advances in technology, human activities do positively impact the environment in many ways.
Impact of Humans on the Environment
Before we jump into the positive impacts on the environment by humans and the future of our planet, let’s define exactly what a positive impact means.
Positive impact definition:
A positive impact can be defined as any effect on the environment that contributes to the conservation and/or restoration of the earth’s ecosystem.
Positive impacts that humans have on the environment can come from changemakers like government institutions and businesses, but also from individuals taking small actions like cleaning trash or planting trees. Oftentimes, these small steps towards creating a clean planet have the biggest impact.
Keep reading to learn about seven positive environmental impacts of human activities, and how you or your business can leave a positive impact on the environment.
7 Ways Human Activities Positively Impact the Environment
1. Recycling and sorting
With the mass production of the 20th century and the introduction of materials like plastics, we’ve accumulated a lot of waste. Fortunately, we are taking many positive strides to remedy this situation.
One of the most effective and efficient ways to manage waste is recycling. Recycling uses waste materials to produce new products instead of extracting raw materials for production. Using recycled material generates less waste and helps reduce pollution caused by the extraction of raw materials.
Many countries have also developed efficient sorting standards, to help ensure that waste is sorted properly so that recycling plants can easily and efficiently process waste. As a result, less waste ends up in landfills, and the environment is less harmed. Properly sorting hazardous materials means they can be disposed of correctly, also reducing damage to the environment.
Individuals and businesses can follow local recycling guidelines to ensure waste is sorted properly. For businesses that want to have a positive impact on the environment, here are some general tips for effectively recycling in the workplace.
- Identify recyclables
- Set up recycling bins
- Educate employees
- Monitor the system and make improvements
Properly sorting and recycling has a significant positive impact humans have on the environment, and it takes just a little bit of extra effort.
2. Reusing and Wasting Less
Reusing materials and wasting less carries many of the same benefits as recycling. When we reuse, there is less need for drilling, mining, or deforestation. Reusing means that your things don’t go to a landfill or recycling plant and that carbon-emitting factories need to produce less.
Reusing is a simple idea with an incredibly positive impact on the environment, but it requires individuals and businesses to be conscious of their habits.
If you have a business that is producing a lot of waste, you can implement some of these solutions to create a positive environmental impact.
- Find ways to repurpose equipment. For example, many electronics can be refurbished.
- Invest in equipment with a long life. While it may come with a higher price initially, high-quality equipment is more beneficial financially and environmentally in the long run.
- Educate your employees on reusing and repurposing equipment and supplies. Ask for their input on how to minimize waste.
- Focus on many small steps instead of one big change. Often, big results come from the accumulation of many small actions.
- Buy used or refurbished office supplies and equipment.
Reusing is one simple yet effective way that humans have a positive impact on the environment.
3. Using better alternatives
By finding alternative solutions to current problems, there can be a positive human impact on the environment. Businesses find ways to increase their positive contribution to the environment by evaluating their environmental practices and changes as they see fit.
One way of doing this is through certifications like the B Corp certification. To receive the B Corp certification, a company must meet a very high standard of environmental impact. Companies have to evaluate the current positive impact of their business on the environment, and what actions they must take to improve their operations if they want to qualify for the certification.
These types of certifications push businesses to find environmentally-friendly solutions for their business operations. With improved work processes, businesses can benefit the community and environment, as well as their bottom line.
Businesses also use environmental impact assessments to evaluate how their activities, supply chains, and policies affect the environment. Once they determine which aspects of their business have a negative impact, they can find solutions with a positive impact.
4. Renewable Energy, Wind and Solar
The negative environmental impact of non-renewables like coal and oil are obvious. Learning how harmful these energy sources are to the environment, we are now adopting more renewable energy sources such as energy, wind, and solar, which have a positive impact on our planet.
One of the biggest positive environmental impacts of renewable energy like wind and solar is that they are emission-free. This positive impact is huge, as carbon emissions from non-renewable energy sources have contributed greatly to the destruction of the earth’s ecosystems. As humans move towards renewable energy power sources, such as solar or wind energy, we contribute to a more clean, sustainable ecosystem.
To positively impact the environment, many businesses are switching from using non-renewable energy to using solar. Solar panels are now an affordable and accessible energy source, making the switch to clean energy an easy choice. Switching to solar can positively affect the environment, but it can also reduce energy costs in the long run.
The introduction of renewable energy is one of the biggest positive changes humans have had on the environment in recent years. As we continue to move away from fossil fuels and into renewables, the benefits for the environment will only expand.
5. Technology and Inventions
Technology is advancing rapidly and there is no shortage of innovative solutions addressing the need to conserve our ecosystem. Some of the biggest positive impacts that humans have on the environment are due to innovative new technologies.
One example of this is AeroFarms, a B Corp certified vertical farming company. AeroFarms has developed a revolutionary vertical farming technology that allows for the indoor production of high-quality crops while using only 10% of the water traditional farming requires.
This is just one example, but countless new and emerging technologies could allow humans to positively impact the environment in a big way.
Some examples of new technologies and inventions include:
- Solar glass
- Green construction materials
These technologies all hold remarkable promise in ensuring clean, sustainable ecosystems.
6. Urbanisation and Migration
While it may not be immediately obvious, urbanisation is another human activity with positive impacts on the environment. There are several reasons for this.
On average, city dwellers use less space per person. In cities, people live in smaller homes and have smaller yards, if any at all. This means there is a more efficient use of space in the city compared to rural areas. Walking, cycling, or taking public transport is typically more practical in urban settings, meaning those living in the city have a lower carbon footprint.
Finally, due to economies of scale and population density, urban areas tend to use resources more efficiently compared to rural areas. So, when people and businesses migrate from rural areas to urban areas, there is a positive effect on the environment.
Contrary to what many believe, globalisation may also have a positive impact on our planet.
When a country increases its GDP, they have more resources to allocate towards environmental conservation. As globalisation has raised the GDP in many developing nations, in this way it has brought about positive change in environmental conservation. Economic prosperity also enables more research and development into sustainable technologies.
Through globalisation, countries all over the world can work more closely together to protect the environment. Since environmental protection is a global issue, organizations like the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and Conservation International are needed to coordinate global conservation efforts.
Be the Positive Change
Promising innovations and technologies in sustainability are constantly emerging and the positive impact of human activities on the environment is increasing everyday. However, there is still a lot individuals and organisations can do to help build a more sustainable future.
One great way to have a positive impact is Impact Day’s affiliate program. By joining, organisations and content creators have the opportunity to spread awareness about the Impact Day 2024, the most cutting-edge sustainability event of the year. Even better, affiliate program participants get a commission for every ticket sold.
Looking for advice on how to make your business operations more sustainable? Reach out to Impact Day for a consultation and we’ll help you find sustainable solutions for your business needs. If your organisation has already been doing great things in the realm of sustainability, help inspire others by partnering with Impact Day and showcasing your results, activities and goals.