What are environmental impacts (and how to reduce yours)

Find out which types are the most worrying and check out tips on how you can save the planet

Environmental impacts are all changes to the environment that result from human activities. Some of them, such as pollution, deforestation, fires and excess garbage, have resulted in negative impacts, such as global warming

Follow this guide and learn more about the most common environmental impacts, their causes and consequences — and what iFood has done to reduce this impact in its delivery operation. 

What are environmental impacts?

Environmental impacts are chemical, physical and biological changes to the environment caused by matter or energy resulting from human activities. 

These changes directly or indirectly affect the health, safety and well-being of the population, in addition to social and economic activities, the biota, the aesthetic and sanitary conditions of the environment and the quality of environmental resources.

Air pollution, deforestation and soil and water contamination are negative environmental impacts of great magnitude and importance that require rapid transformations.

Environmental impacts: causes and consequences 

Negative environmental impacts are associated with the disorderly and uncontrolled economic development of natural resources and the unrestrained increase in population. 

Among the main causes are economic activities such as mining, industries, landfills, transport and civil construction, energy generation and consumption. 

These activities generate consequences such as deforestation, excess greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere, losses in fauna and flora and contamination of soil and water. 

The report "Making Peace with Nature”, from the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), shows that diseases caused by pollution kill more than 9 million people worldwide every year. 

Environmental impacts on humans also impede the advancement of combat social inequalities, hunger, poverty and sustainable development. 

Types of impact

There are several types of environmental impacts, and they vary according to value, order, frequency, space and scope. 

A positive environmental impact is one that results from the improvement of some environmental aspect or parameter. Negative or adverse environmental impact is the result of harmful actions. 

There are also direct or primary environmental impacts (which occur when there is a cause and effect relationship) and indirect impacts (the result of a secondary reaction to an action). 

The local environmental impact occurs when the action harms only the place where it occurred, while the regional environmental impact spreads throughout an area and its surroundings. 

Regarding duration, the immediate environmental impact occurs at the moment the action is carried out, and the medium and long-term impact has an effect that occurs some time after the action. Temporary environmental impact lasts for a certain time, while permanent environmental impact causes damage for a long time. 

What are the most worrying environmental impacts?

Environmental impacts, as we have seen, have placed the world on alert, generating consequences such as global warming, climate change and loss of biodiversity. 

Examples of negative environmental impacts are the emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, soil contamination, ocean pollution, fires and deforestation. 

Those that most concern organizations, societies and governments are land degradation, loss of biodiversity and climate change. To overcome the crises that cause the most worrying environmental impacts today, US$ 8.1 trillion in investments in nature are needed by 2050. 

The data is from the report State of Finance for Nature, from UNEP, released in 2021. The document shows that the loss of biodiversity costs the global economy 10% of its production each year. 

Impacts on the environment in Brazil

In Brazil, the main environmental impacts are deforestation and fires, which originate mainly from the expansion of land for agricultural use. 

In 2021, the country led the world ranking of forest deforestation, according to the monitoring platform Global Forest Watch. The loss was 1.5 million hectares of biome. 

Even with complete environmental legislation, such as New Brazilian Forest Code, Environmental Crimes Law, National Environmental Policy and others, Brazil cleared 20% more in 2021 compared to the previous year. 

Pollution and impact

Pollution, in general, is one of the main causes of environmental impact in recent decades, causing loss of biodiversity, contamination and diseases. 

According to the National Environmental Policy, pollution can be defined as the degradation of environmental quality caused by activities that harm the health, safety and well-being of the population. 

Natural phenomena and environmental impacts: understand the relationship

Natural phenomena are non-artificial events, that is, they occur without human interference. However, they can be worsened by environmental impacts. 

This is the case of greenhouse effect, natural phenomenon of heating that occurs on the Earth's surface to retain heat in order to maintain average temperatures. 

However, with the environmental impacts caused by excessive greenhouse gas emissions, such as global warming, the greenhouse effect has become an environmental problem. 

7 tips to reduce your impact

To reduce environmental impacts, it is necessary to put into practice a series of actions, measures and joint efforts between governments and society. 

But, individually, we can also take some actions that reduce our impact on nature. See tips on how you can do this with simple measurements. 

  • Separate recyclable waste from common waste. Take “clean” trash to recyclers or find out about collection services in your city and/or neighborhood; 
  • If possible, have a compost bin at home. Solid vegetable waste, such as peels, seeds and remains of raw vegetables and fruits become a powerful fertilizer for plants; 
  • Reduce the time in the shower, turning off the shower between one action and another. Turn off the tap when brushing your teeth. And, when possible, reuse water from the washing machine for domestic cleaning;
  • Install, if you can, solar energy panels in your home or office. This action brings not only environmental but also financial gains;
  • Give preference, whenever possible, to public transport instead of individual transport, and also to alternative means of transport;
  • Reuse, reuse and refurbish items and durable goods, whenever possible, instead of buying new ones;
  • Learn about sustainability, how to practice it, main actions and how to get involved. 
Was this content useful to you?

Related posts