An increasing number of people are living in cities, but the problem we face is that cities are not sustainable in their current form. As more and more people converge on a small area, it becomes challenging to meet their needs without causing excessive pollution and depleting the world’s resources. While it’s easy to not think about these problems, the sustainable features of a city allow us to enjoy doing are favorite activities without impacting the environment, be it watching a movie, playing the latest reactoons game online or experiencing a music festival to name a few. That’s why we need to find ways to support the growth of these cities without it being a huge detriment to the environment.
One of the biggest things cities do is reduce the amount of flora and fauna in the world. We tarmac over grass and trees and limit the habitats of the animals living there. Putting green spaces in cities is great for pollution as the plants will absorb carbon dioxide, and the trees shield the streets from the sun, cooling the city.
Another way we can be more sustainable is by reusing and recycling our waste. When we throw out our rubbish, it either gets sent to landfills and burned, causing pollutants, or it gets dumped in the sea. We all need to recycle as much as possible, and a sustainable city must have a fully operational recycling program.
Cars are one of the biggest pollutants in major cities. In large cities like New York, millions of cars drive through the streets, emitting pollution every single day. The funny thing is that with so many cars clogging up the streets, it’s often faster to walk! The result is all these cars sitting in the streets, emitting pollution, and not even getting people to their destination. The solution that sustainable cities should look towards is public transport.
A whole street of cars could be replaced by a single bus, which drastically reduces the pollution emitted into the atmosphere. So many people choose not to use public transport because of how unreliable it is, so it’s incumbent on a sustainable city to create a reliable public transport network that services all areas of the city. Once that infrastructure is in place, they can look at implementing sustainable car policies, such as tax benefits for electric cars or congestion charges that punish people for driving in the city. Ideally, a city could function without the need for cars on the streets, which can be made possible by subsidising public transport and bicycles and creating walkways that connect important parts of the city.
Another major impact that cities have is that they limit the area available for food production. Our current way of making food requires large fields, either for crops or livestock – something that is impossible to do within a city – and is worse for the environment than many people think.
Livestock, and particularly cattle, are a huge contributor to greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane as they digest food. Not only that, but to create land suitable for raising livestock, forest ecosystems have to be destroyed, reducing the number of trees that can take gases like this out of the air.
The food needed to keep livestock alive also harms the environment. The land has to be deforested to grow food, reducing the number of trees even further, and the food needs to be shipped to farms where livestock are raised. In fact, the shipping of food worldwide is another massive contributor to pollution and global warming.
For a city to be truly sustainable, it should go all in on locally sourced food that doesn’t have to be imported from around the world. While this may mean that we have to go without certain fruits or certain types of meat at different times of the year, it will see a huge reduction in air pollution.
It’s essential that as the population grows and cities become more populated, we create areas that can house all these people sustainably. Whether it’s a sustainable way of feeding millions of people or creating a city that can be navigated without the need for cars, there are lots of ways we can make a positive change in the world. Another way we can create sustainable cities is to create sustainable architecture, which involves creating buildings with energy-efficient heating, cooling, and water systems and renewable energy sources such as solar panels or wind turbines.