What are 10 Human Activities That Affect the Environment

It’s no secret that the activities we partake in daily can have serious adverse effects on the planet. Almost everything we do can harm Earth in some capacity. But are we aware enough of the 10 human activities that affect the environment the most?

10 human activities that affect the environment include the use of transportation systems, which put unnatural toxins and gases into the atmosphere. The wasting of electricity and water, and the overuse of paper and plastic also negatively affect the environment.

In this article we explore these activities in more detail. We delve into the ways in which they are harmful to our planet and what we can do to lessen our impact.

Many of the activities listed here are things that are difficult to avoid in everyday life. Part of the reason they negatively affect the environment is because of how often we have to do them in order to function in society.

So, if you are looking to reduce your carbon footprint, make sure you read on.

Global warming and the end of civilization

Driving Cars

We possibly drive our cars more than any other activity. Unless you live in an area where you can conveniently walk to work, school, the store, and any other places you need to go, it’s very challenging to live life without a car.

But relying so heavily on our cars is harmful to the planet, unless we have gone electric completely. Car emissions are incredibly damaging to the environment.

Cars traditionally run on petroleum and diesel. They emit copious amounts of carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide. The fossil fuels that are burned so we can put petrol in our cars make up over 70% of the energy we use in a year.

Online Shopping

When considering how humans affect the environment the most, online shopping is not the first thing you think of. There are so many other pressing issues in the world that buying goods through the internet does not seem to be that big of a deal. In fact you could think you are helping by not driving to the stores.

But to receive the products you ordered online, they have to be transported to you in a large truck. Those big delivery trucks belch out masses of harmful gas into the atmosphere, creating pollutant emissions.

Almost one-quarter of the transport footprint left on the environment comes from medium and heavy-duty trucks. Most online shopping orders are dispatched in medium or heavy-duty vehicles.

Therefore, online shopping has one of the worst effects on the environment.

Closeup of woman doing online shopping on digital tablet at cafeteria


Hunting is a chosen lifestyle and one that is in harmony with the human role in nature. Hunting is not destructive to the natural world. Today in North America, not one threatened or endangered species is hunted, fished, or trapped and no species have become endangered because of modern, regulated hunting. Controlled hunting and gathering of wild foods are environmentally friendly. Too bad more human activities cannot legitimately make the same claim.

John Mills

But uncontrolled hunting and killing of animals and fish is harmful to the environment, and is especially pertinent when hunting for sport rather than for food.

And when species of wild animals are singled out and hunted by poachers to fuel illegal trades, their numbers may reduce quickly. There has to be proper controls in place to maintain the survival of all species.

Where controls are not in place or are ignored, animals may be killed or taken away from their natural habitat. If this happens in large quantities, they may become extinct, and the ecosystem in which they were active will suffer. Entire food chains have the potential to be wiped out, which may have a lasting impact on the planet.

Consuming Animal Products

Consuming animal products also has the power to hurt the environment. There has been an increase in how much meat humans consume, which creates a cycle of farmers raising more and more animals to keep up with demand.

portrait of ordinary men with lots of meat and sausage products

Raising animals, means producing more to feed them. And there are only so many empty spaces where crops can be grown. Due to a lack of farmland, hundreds of acres of rainforest have been cleared so soy and grains can be grown in the places where trees flourished. This is a major reason why the planet has less good, clean soil than in the past.

Livestock produces enormous amounts of methane gas through the process of enteric fermentation and the manure they excrete. Methane gas traps heat in the atmosphere, making it one of the most problematic greenhouse gases.

Heat continually being trapped in the atmosphere is a significant contributor to climate change and can cause many problems for the environment. The more demand there is for meat, the more livestock production will continue to create more methane gas.

Leaving the Lights On

Whether you’re leaving an area for a few minutes or the entire day, keeping the lights turned on when you’re not using the room will hurt more than just your electric bill.

The power plants that energy companies use to generate electricity burn hundreds of tons of fossil fuels as they operate. Turning your lights (and other appliances) off when they’re not needed will help reduce the number of toxic fumes being emitted into the atmosphere by energy plants.

Boiling Water With Electricity

If you think about the process of boiling water, you probably think about putting a kettle or pot on the stove. This type of boiling uses gas to heat the water. However, if you’re taking a shower, making coffee, or washing your clothes at a high temperature, this form of boiling uses electricity.

Not only does this result in a heftier electricity bill, but activities that involve heating water using electricity contribute to hurting the environment. It takes a lot of energy to boil water, particularly the large amount needed for a shower or washing clothes.

Like leaving the lights on too often, energy companies use coal and other fossil fuels to power their electricity plants to help you boil water. Those fossil fuels negatively affect our environment, and the more water that needs to be heated up, the more fossil fuel has to be burned.

Therefore, this seemingly mundane everyday activity is one of the 10 human activities that affect the environment.

Using Too Much Plastic

One of the worst causes of environmental destruction is the use of plastic. Humans rely on plastic for almost all of their everyday activities, including cleaning, eating, shopping, and storage.

And by far, the largest culprit of plastic use is the food industry. The food we purchase is packaged in plastic, we put the produce we select into plastic bags to keep it clean, and at the end of our shopping trip, we carry all our items out of the store in plastic grocery bags.

Most of the household waste that is discarded into landfills is plastic food packaging. That packaging and all other products made from plastic are not able to decompose naturally. Instead, it ends up sitting for thousands of years, injuring animals, and harming the environment.

Learn more about the plastic that makes its way into our landfills by watching this disturbing video by CBC News:

It is especially hazardous when plastic gets put into bodies of water. When it gets wet, the chemicals coating the plastic are released into the water. These toxins are harmful to ocean wildlife and have the power to reverse whole ecosystems if enough wildlife is damaged.

Using Too Much Paper

While paper does not do as much harm to the planet as plastic does, our constant use of it is hurting the environment in other ways.

Like plastic, we rely on paper being available for household cleaning and hygiene products, work documents, and shopping bags, among other things. In order to have all of those items, trees have to be cut down to meet our needs.

The deforestation that occurs from the demand for paper disrupts entire ecosystems when many living creatures are removed from their homes.

Building New Construction Projects

As the human population continues to grow, new buildings are necessary to house us. But construction projects negatively affect the environment in a multitude of ways.

Forests and other ecosystems must be removed to make room for new buildings and roads. Deforestation also supplies the wood needed to build new homes, offices, factories and stores.

Urban Heat Isands

Another byproduct of building and road construction is the urban heat island effect. This happens when concrete, cement, and asphalt trap and re-emit the sun’s heat. Then the surrounding environment becomes much hotter than it should naturally be, creating a need for cooling systems.

Urban heat islands are another reason we are experiencing such drastic climate change. More buildings and roads mean that there are more opportunities for heat to get trapped in the atmosphere.

Lighting Scented Candles

Out of every item on this list, lighting scented candles from your favourite candle company may seem like the least likely things to affect the environment. But, using scented candles in your home actually has a much more significant impact than you might think.

Most scented candles are made from paraffin, which is a byproduct of petroleum. The use of that petroleum contributes to the oil industry, which is already doing massive amounts of damage to the planet.

When you light a scented candle made from paraffin, the chemicals used in the wax to create the scent release toxins. The toxins released increase greenhouse gases, which as we know are harmful to the environment.

Final Thoughts

So there you have it, the 10 human activities that affect the environment are a vicious circle. One thing leads to another, creating a never-ending cycle of destruction.

While avoiding any of the activities described might be impossible, doing your best to be aware of the damage you are causing in your day-to-day life could do wonders for reducing your carbon footprint.