– What do you need to know about the Hungarian Scientific Association for Harm Reduction and Environmental Diseases, what are its main objectives?
– The Association was founded in December 2020 and is a member of dozens of doctors and other disciplines. Our aim is to raise awareness and make people aware of the risks of countless harms to them: environmental harms (respiratory diseases), civilizational harms (cardiological risks), food harms (diabetes, allergies) and to deal with them with our own tools, on a scientific and professional basis. . Thus, among other things, we want to talk about preserving air quality, reducing the risk factors introduced by nutrition and disseminating quality nutrition, changing lifestyles that are sedentary, and reducing the harms and conditions that cause addiction (alcohol and smoking).
An important activity of the Association is to introduce it to scientific circles and to make innovative solutions, harm reduction goals and programs the subject of professional discussion and discourse.
– What motivated you to “Drop 100 pounds!” launch a campaign?
– The climate crisis that threatens life on earth is now part of our daily lives. To prevent this, the rate of warming must be kept below the reversibility limit (1.5 degrees Celsius relative to the global average temperature). A multitude of governments and large companies are looking for ways to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, especially carbon dioxide, but a real solution requires the involvement of all of us. Each of everyday human activities is associated with carbon emissions, and each has a lower-emission, less climate-threatening alternative. What happens to the climate and living conditions depends to a large extent on our personal decisions!
The average monthly carbon dioxide emission of an average Hungarian household is about 1,000 kilograms. The Hungarian Scientific Association for Harm Reduction and Environmental Diseases, together with the füstetlen.hu portal, announced the Drop 100 kilos! campaign to show solutions – from transforming transport and shopping habits to composting to smoke-free alternatives to smoking – that contribute to carbon emissions (and the associated environmental and health harms) through conscious choices but without drastically transforming our lives; detectable reduction. According to the message of the campaign, there is always an alternative, ie a choice that curbs global warming and is less harmful to the environment and health. The Drop 100 Pounds! campaign, among other things, a with smoke-free calculator and helps you quantify and reduce everyday emissions with practical advice covering many areas of everyday life (from cooking to composting).
– In his view, to what extent can a coronavirus epidemic catalyze the development of a lower-emission lifestyle globally. I am thinking here of factors such as the perpetuation of the home office or the holding of conferences online.
– We have seen over the last year and a half that, as a result of the strict restrictive measures taken during each wave of the epidemic, the concentration of some key air pollutants has fallen dramatically in many European cities. All this has shown that urban air quality can be dramatically improved, for example by reducing car traffic or drastically reducing air travel, but also by rethinking our everyday electricity and gas consumption habits, overwriting our everyday luxury consumption and consciously reforming our waste generation. by fundamentally changing.
The various problems are, in my view, clear to all of us today. The good news is that we can take action against them on an individual level, find harm-reducing options for our daily emissions, develop a consciously climate-friendly lifestyle and, as a result, live healthier and more sustainable, and protect our Earth.
– In what areas can people most easily be left without burning, burning as a major emitter?
– In connection with burning, it is enough to think only of the incineration of emergency and green waste and garden waste, or, for example, that there is a widespread and popular technique in the field of gastronomy, such as suturing or confit, and it is not necessary to crust / grill a meat on a crust and then serve as a high quality dish on the family table. On the other hand, the fact that smoking also has a harm-free version is, at first glance, perhaps not even obvious to those who smoke themselves. However, mitigation is also on the list of options. When someone lights a cigarette, the carbon content of the burning tobacco plant produces gaseous carbon dioxide, or greenhouse gas. Of the thousands of chemicals in smoke, we already know for sure that they are harmful or potentially harmful to health. If someone quits, it reduces smoking-related emissions by 100 percent – the most radical way to reduce harm. However, for individuals who are unable to quit the addictive nicotine, it may be a significant step from a technological point of view to present alternatives that can significantly reduce the burden on the environment.
However, the relationship between the rate of reduction of emissions and the reduction of the adverse health effect is still under investigation. It is worth adding here that it is not the addictive substance itself, nicotine as a whole that is the most dangerous and harmful part of smoking. In fact, some people are unfortunately able to introduce substances that have the potential to make them feel good through centuries-old procedures that also deliver countless other life-shortening compounds. Smokeless technologies do not burn, so compared to traditional tobacco products, the CO2 emissions directly from their use are significantly lower, so the choice of smoke-free alternatives is definitely a step forward in terms of harm reduction compared to continuing smoking. However, full harm reduction can, of course, only be achieved by quitting.
In connection with smoking, which we still need to talk about, cellulose acetate in smoke filters, which is one of the sources of microplastic pollution, also imposes soot, tar and other pollutants on the soil and, indirectly, on groundwater. Although many smokers handle and dispose of smoking stumps properly, too much waste is released into the environment. The most sustainable way to eliminate litter is prevention – be it emissions or waste management. So the goal is for smokers to refrain from littering with butts and collecting them along with municipal waste in appropriate bins.
– Do you think it is correct to say that people can be persuaded to make environmentally friendly changes mainly through their wallets?
– In my opinion, education and awareness are paramount to creating a paradigm shift in our health and the environment – unfortunately we have all recently seen the importance of choices with less environmental impact and health damage, and if clear and real hazards are no longer dealt with when they occur, but are prevented. At the same time, there is no doubt – and many are not necessarily aware of it – that various harm-reduced alternatives can have a positive effect on our costs, to name just one thing: Hungarian model experiments show that a complex energy efficiency program can reduce your heating bill by up to 50 percent. the environmental load is proportional to this. But there is also a list of plastic substitutes: a textile shopping bag instead of a disposable plastic bag, a depositable, redeemable and refillable bottle instead of a disposable bottle, a bottle made from home instead of a plastic bottled soft drink, filled with tap water, and the rest. Not to mention composting and reducing the waste management costs of this process.
– The aim of the campaign is to reduce annual CO2 emissions to less than 10 tonnes. When do you think this could be a reality?
– Perhaps it is not really important when this may become a reality, but rather the fact that today in Hungary the monthly carbon dioxide emissions of an average Hungarian household are roughly 1000 kilograms. This is a huge number! In addition, this amount is made up of items such as transport, heating, electricity use, improper use of the kitchen and water heating, improper use of air conditioning or shielding, or even smoking, i.e. all types of consumption that have less emission alternative. The goal and the task is to find these harm-reducing options, to create a conscious and climate-friendly lifestyle that will make us better and future generations will be grateful for it. And the change does not have to start tomorrow, because it would have been too late yesterday, but we have to do it today, if at first with small steps, then so!
– Can you give an ordinary example of how significant emission reductions can be achieved with relatively small sacrifices?
– Speaking of our conversation is a program in which we highlight only one but very important aspect of harm reduction, so we can look at this a little more closely: although it is now clear to almost everyone that all forms of smoking are harmful to health, and is responsible for the development of many diseases, more than one billion people currently smoke on Earth, more than two million in Hungary, and this number is not projected to change significantly in the near future. Obviously, the best harm reduction solution is not to start smoking or to quit as soon as possible, as this can reduce the harms of smoking by 100 percent in the long run. Until we achieve this goal, which is best achieved with nicotine as an addictive substance without even starting to use it, we need to think in decades. Thus, as a health professional, we need to reach out to a wide group of people who are unable or unable to get used to smoking completely with their resources, as we also need to provide them with information on prevention options. Partly to postpone or prevent potentially developing diseases, and partly to reduce the environmental and social burden of smoking. For example, with the simple gesture of not throwing the butt, but placing it in the trash or butt collector; or they choose a smoke-free technology that does not release combustion products into the air, soil or water. Non-combustion technologies are also an advantage over traditional cigarettes because they can reduce the health and environmental harms of smoking to varying degrees.
And we could continue the line with our transport habits, which have already been discussed, or with the environmental load factor in the field of waste production, since we load the environment unnecessarily with all the materials and products that generate waste. Research shows that our waste is responsible for 3 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions – in other words, reducing waste is one of the most painless ways to protect the climate, as we don’t have to give it up, which is really important to us: just producing less waste. That is, we buy from the start so that less packaging waste enters our household; what is still included is collected selectively and the green waste is composted. The range of harm reduction options is endless, we really should only live with them.
– What climate-friendly and urban greening plans does the association have?
– The Drop 100 pounds! campaign, of course, does not end with the success of the intention to form an individual attitude. The Association intends to do something in the near future at the local and community level to achieve a more sustainable future through various collaborations, and we will be happy to report on these objectives when we get there, in the implementation phase.
Source: Napi.hu by www.napi.hu.
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