Environmental Issues and Solutions Pertaining to Cyprus and the World
After embarking on a program to Cyprus through the American Youth Leadership Program (AYLP) from Legacy International, I learned an incredible amount about both the environmental issues that persist in our world today and the methods and actions that can be taken to help improve environmental sustainability. I, along with 15 other students from across the U.S.A., first went to Washington D.C. and went through a brief orientation to educate us on both travel safety and Cypriot culture. Once we arrived in Cyprus, our program supervisors as well as Cypriot citizens and government officials taught us a variety of subject matters, including but not limited to language, cuisine, and sustainability.
Some of the more prevalent environmental issues in Cyprus are water shortages and pollution. While the relevance of these issues may be more noticeable in Cyprus than some other countries, the actions needed to be taken to alleviate them are global.
Water Shortage Issues
Water shortages are a problem that an astounding amount of people on this planet face. According to the UN, in 2013, about 2.5 billion people in the world did not have access to safe drinking water. As time goes on and freshwater is depleted from the world’s aquifers (underground layers of rock, sediment, or soil that contain groundwater), this number will only increase. Unfortunately, this will only be compounded by an increased spread of waterborne diseases such as cholera, dysentery, and typhoid fever.
Methods to Ameliorate Water Problems
However, this problem can be alleviated if people use water more wisely. In Cyprus, the infrastructure was notably different from that of America’s in several ways. One example of this was the flushing system of most of the toilets seen in Cyprus. While lavatories in America typically have a “one-flush-fits-all” system, the lavatories in Cyprus had a slightly different mechanism. Most of the toilets in Cyprus have a dual-flush system that allows the user to flush differently based on the type of waste excretion. This type of toilet helps save a large amount of water as compared to standard American toilets, indicating that it may be time for Americans to attempt a gradual shift to using this type of toilet. Besides the lavatories in Cyprus, water is also conserved through water pressure in showers. In the homes of the gracious host families I stayed with during my time in Cyprus, the showers had a significantly reduced water flow rate as compared to the showers in America. This difference saves a massive amount of water while still being adequate for washing purposes. Though these changes may seem slight, the amount of water they can save over even a year can be shocking.
Another problem in Cyprus that is just as important around the world is pollution, more specifically littering. Out of all the items littered, cigarette butts are the most widespread in Cyprus. The proportion of people that smoke in Cyprus is fairly high with 26% of the adult population being daily smokers and 16% of the population being heavy smokers as reported in a census from 2008. Because of this, cigarettes are the most commonly littered among beaches and the inland.
Methods to Ameliorate Pollution Problems
The methods used to attempt to tackle this problem, however, are not solely limited to dealing with cigarette butts. Plastic bags or other containers can be provided to people who frequent beaches or other common attractions to hold trash and can then be disposed of when leaving the area. A form of this can be seen in Cyprus where a local organization is attempting to promote a paper cone that can be filled with sand to use as a makeshift garbage can as opposed to throwing cigarette remains onto the beach sands. This allows people to both enjoy the environment and keep it clean.
Looking Forward with Sustainability
The presence of these issues not only in Cyprus but also around the world shows how it is more important than ever to be environmentally aware. Even small changes that make little to no difference in everyday life can contribute to helping promote sustainability and making the environment a better place to live in for both ourselves and future generations to come.