4 Human Activities That Can Harm the Environment

Discover the behaviours that cause negative impacts on the physical environment.

battery environmental impact
harmful activities to the environment

Believe it or not, what we do and how we live daily influence the world around us. Harmful activities and habits such as improperly disposing of electronic waste, consuming resources excessively, creating plastic pollution, contributing to greenhouse gases and destroying coral reefs bring much destruction to the environment. If these harmful human activities are not mitigated or controlled, they may turn our planet into an inhospitable place to live one day.

1. Improper Disposal of Electronic Waste

Electronic waste, or “e-waste”, is a term to refer to electronics that are nearing the end of their shelf life. They are later discarded, donated or handed over to an e-waste recycling centre. Improper disposal of e-waste can bring harmful effects on the environment. Since it is non-biodegradable, it can accumulate in the soil, air, water and even inside living things.

When used batteries are thrown into a regular bin, they end up in landfills where they disintegrate and leak. While corroding, the chemicals of the batteries soak into the soil and contaminate groundwater and surface water. As a result, the lives of aquatic plants and animals are compromised as their habitat is filled with battery chemicals1. Not only does this affect our marine friends, but it harms our health as well. We are at risk of exposure to heavy metals or hydrofluoric acid when batteries are disposed of inappropriately2.

Are disposable batteries bad for the environment? It can be3. The better option would be to use batteries that are made from recycled materials.

2. Overconsumption

Excessive consumption happens due to the increasing population around the world. Naturally, bigger populations would need more food, water, fossil fuels and other resources. Overpopulation can deplete wildlife resources to dangerously low levels. For example, overfishing can cause much damage to fertile fishing grounds. Moreover, the increased use of agriculture has displaced many animals which may result in the extinction of certain species. As for fossil fuels, it is admittedly cheaper than cleaner, renewable alternative sources of energy. Countries that can only afford fossil fuel technology would inevitably have more carbon emissions and environmental damage in their areas.

3. Excessive Plastic Production

Did you know that global plastic production doubled from 2000 to 2019 which reached 460 million tonnes? Plastic accounts for 3.4% of global greenhouse gas emissions. And it does not help that only 9% of plastic waste is recycled4. In poorer countries, used plastics are burned in open pits or end up in rivers and oceans.

4. Destruction of Coral Reefs

Thankfully, our Great Barrier Reef is protected under the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act 1975. However, in many parts of the world, there is massive reef destruction.

Water pollution, overfishing, destructive fishing practices including the use of dynamite or cyanide, collecting live corals for the aquarium market, mining coral for building materials and global warming are some of the environmentally-damaging ways people have destroyed valuable coral reefs on a regular basis5.

Coral reefs are home to millions of marine life species. They also protect coastlines from storms and erosion to prevent loss of life and property damage. Without reefs, we would be facing food scarcity while being exposed to life-threatening floods, waves and storms.

Overall, the above human activities and habits show how they are harming the environment. Addressing these issues is crucial for preserving the environment and mitigating their impact on ecosystems and human well-being.