The Case for Green

I believe everyone can agree that we all need clean air and water, and most people can agree that it is inappropriate to waste energy and excessively pollute our environment. However, most people don't think about how their every day actions have a ripple effect when billions of people are doing the same thing. These seemingly "inconsequential" actions can have distinctly negative consequences for our environment.

 

We as humans have been graced with one of the most intelligent brains on the planet, however sometimes we don't use them to our advantage. If everyone began "thinking" differently, and became more conscious about the repercussions of our actions, our own personal environments, and the world at large will benefit immensely.

 

I am not saying that we have to sacrifice. However, when it becomes easier to be green with more eco-friendly options in terms of alternative fuels, renewable energy sources, recyclable consumer goods, and truly domestic organic food products, then mainstream America will more readily embrace a greener lifestyle. As long as BIG OIL and other corporate megalith lobbyists are favored over the environment, it will be the forward thinkers that will need to take the lead on these issues in order to make a difference. All of us that are aware of these issues need to "BE the change we wish to see in the World". Thankfully, it is not that difficult. Every little bit counts. It just takes a slight change in perspective and in how we think. Together we can make a difference.

 

Here are a few things to think about...

 

When you leave your car running in idle excessively, THINK about this:

 

Burning fossil fuels such as gasoline or diesel contributes to a number of environmental problems, such as air pollution (smog) and global climate change. In addition, spills from refining and transporting oil and petroleum products damage ecosystems and pollute groundwater and streams.

 

Almost all of the cars and trucks we drive run on fuels derived from oil. Oil is a non-renewable resource, and while there is some debate as to how long this resource will last, we will eventually have to find new ways to power highway vehicles. Until other alternatives are developed, it makes sense to use fossil resources such as oil more efficiently to buy time to develop new and better energy sources and to make the transition to these sources smoother and less expensive.

 

- More than half of the gasoline we put in our cars comes from oil imported from other countries. Petroleum imports cost us over $4.4 billion a week-that's money that could be used to fuel our own economy

 

- 1.7 million gallons of petroleum are spilled into U.S. waters from vessels and pipelines in a typical year-a single major spill can double that amount. Using less oil may make future spills less likely.

 

- Petroleum fuels also leak from storage tanks, contaminating groundwater and streams. The U.S. EPA has reported around 200 confirmed releases each week since 2000. Using less oil may help reduce the number or volume of leaks.

 

When you drink water in a plastic bottle, or use a plastic bag or plastic wrap, THINK about this:

 

‘Traditional' plastic uses non-renewable petroleum as the polymer. It's not readily degradable or compostable. About 4 percent of the world's annual oil production or some 84.5 million barrels per day is used as feedstock for plastic, and another 4 percent or so provides the energy to transform the feedstock into handy plastic.

 

Over 200 billion pounds of plastics are produced each year worldwide. That's about 40 pounds for every single person on the planet - every year. Plastic is very light - a 2 liter plastic bottle weighs approximately 1/2 ounce. The vast majority of plastic does not get recycled. It gets discarded, ends up in landfills or as trash in our oceans. 

 

PLASTIC TAKES UP TO 1000 YEARS TO DEGRADE

 

- Each year, an estimated 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide. That comes out to over one million per minute. Billions end up as litter each year.

 

- According to the EPA, over 380 billion plastic bags, sacks and wraps are consumed in the U.S. each year.

 

- According to The Wall Street Journal, the U.S. goes through 100 billion plastic shopping bags annually. (Estimated cost to retailers is $4 billion)

 

- Americans consume more than 2.5 million bottles of water every hour, and only around 10% are recycled.

 

- Every year, Americans use enough plastic wrap to cover all of Texas. Switch to recycled, recyclable aluminum foil for safer, eco-friendlier food wrapping.

 

When you leave your lights on, drive inefficiently, or have an energy inefficient home THINK about this:

 

The air we breathe in many U.S. cities is being polluted by driving cars and trucks; burning coal, oil, and other fossil fuels; and manufacturing chemicals. Air pollution can even come from everyday activities such as dry cleaning, filling your car with gas, and degreasing and painting operations. These activities add gases and particles to the air we breathe.

 

Particulate pollution is a mixture of soot, smoke, and tiny particles formed in the atmosphere from sulfur dioxide (SO2) and oxides of nitrogen (NOx) pollution.  Sooty particles are most dangerous when very small as they can penetrate deep into the lungs (and the lungs are not effectively able to expel them), where they cause serious health impacts. Children are especially vulnerable because their lungs are still developing.

 

People exposed to high enough levels of certain air pollutants may experience burning in their eyes, an irritated throat, or breathing difficulties. Long-term exposure to air pollution can cause cancer and long-term damage to the immune, neurological, reproductive, and respiratory systems. In extreme cases, it can even cause death.

 

Coal-fired power plants are a big contributor to the problem. "Power plant smokestacks are public health enemy number one for their contribution to deadly particulate pollution across the eastern United States," said Dr. John Balbus, a physician and head of our health program. "Particulate pollution contributes to tens of thousands of premature deaths annually, heart attacks, strokes and asthma attacks."

 

California's San Joaquin Valley, home to some of the nation's most polluted air also claims the nation's highest asthma rates in children -- and dangerously high levels of particulate pollution. In California, a complex mix of sources contribute to unhealthy particulate pollution including motor vehicles, diesel freight trucks, locomotives, construction and agricultural equipment, commercial ships, aircraft, large-scale animal feeding operations and industrial sources.

 

When you flush your toilet, or throw trash on the ground, or used oil or toxic chemicals down the drain, THINK about this:

 

Where does your sewage go? Estimates suggest that nearly 1.5 billion people lack safe drinking water and that at least 5 million deaths per year can be attributed to waterborne diseases. With over 70 percent of the planet covered by oceans, people have long acted as if these very bodies of water could serve as a limitless dumping ground for wastes. Raw sewage, garbage, and oil spills have begun to overwhelm the diluting capabilities of the oceans, and most coastal waters are now polluted. Beaches around the world are closed regularly, often because of high amounts of bacteria from sewage disposal, and marine wildlife is beginning to suffer.

 

In addition, At least 100,000 marine animals die every year because they eat or get caught in garbage. Most frequently found items in the ocean are: paper, plastic, cigarette butts, foam, glass, plastic food bags, plastic caps and lids, metal soda cans, plastic straws, glass beverage bottles, plastic beverage bottles, and foam cups.
Storm drains carry run-off directly to the ocean. Run-off is the greatest current threat to the Santa Monica Bay. Avoid throwing ANYTHING into storm drains, as the trash, animal waste, yard debris, fertilizer, and pesticides, or other hazardous waste CONTAMINATES our beaches and our ocean.

 

All (storm) drains lead to the Ocean.

 

When you eat excessive amounts of beef or pork, THINK about this:

 

Giant livestock farms, which can house hundreds of thousands of pigs, chickens, or cows, produce vast amounts of waste -- often generating the waste equivalent of a small city. While a problem of this nature -- and scale -- sounds almost comical, pollution from livestock farms seriously threatens humans, fish and ecosystems.

 

Nutrients in animal waste cause algal blooms, which use up oxygen in the water, contributing to a "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico where there's not enough oxygen to support aquatic life. The dead zone fluctuates in size each year, extending over 5,800 square miles during the summer of 2004 and stretching over 7,700 square miles during the summer of 1999.

 

For More Info:
http://www.nrdc.org/water/pollution/ffarms.asp  

 

When you eat fruits and vegetables that are not local and/or organic, THINK about this:

 

Pesticides are specifically formulated to be toxic to living organisms, and as such, are usually hazardous to humans. Most pesticides used today are acutely toxic to humans. Pesticides cause poisonings and deaths every year and are responsible for about one out of every sixteen calls to poison control centers.[18] Chronic health effects have also been reported from pesticides, including neurological effects, reproductive problems, interference with infant development, and cancer.

 

There is growing consensus in the scientific community that small doses of pesticides and other chemicals can adversely affect people, especially during vulnerable periods of fetal development and childhood, when exposures can have long lasting effects. Because the toxic effects of pesticides are worrisome, not well understood, or in some cases completely unstudied, shoppers are wise to minimize exposure to pesticides whenever possible.

 

More than 500 of the 875 pesticides currently legally allowed for use in the US are used on food. A one year old eats 2-7 times more grapes, bananas, apples, pears, carrots, and broccoli than the average adult, making them more vulnerable to harmful pesticide residues.

 

By buying 10% of common fruits and vegetables locally, 300,000 gallons of fossil fuels are saved - preventing 8 million pounds of carbon dioxide from being emitted into the air.

 

See http://www.foodnews.org/ for a listing of the most pesticide laden fruits and veggies.

 

Every time you throw something in the garbage, THINK about this:

 

Enough cereal boxes are sold each year to circle the earth 13 times (and most aren't recycled). U.S. catalogue companies sent out 17 billion catalogues last year - 59 for every man, woman and child in the nation. 

 

Discourage non-recycled paper by halting catalog sends. Many of the biggest company mailers and mags use no recycled content. Cut paper use.  Magazine production in the U.S. uses more than 2.2 million tons of paper per year and the number is increasing annually. 

 

Recycling an aluminum can takes 96% less energy than creating a new one. According to the EPA, 75% of Americans' trash can be recycled, but only 25% actually is. Most landfill liners are just 1/10th of an inch thick, so toxins from garbage often leak into the groundwater. We Americans currently landfill the weight of about 5,967,000 desktop computers in batteries each year. 2 billion disposable razors end up in US landfills every year. Placed end-to-end, all the toner cartridges sold yearly in the U.S. would stretch from Washington, D.C. to California-and back again (over 200 million pounds of it)!

 

Basically EVERYTHING ends up in a landfill, polluting our water, air, and earth. RECYCLE RECYCLE RECYCLE

 

How we can make a difference?


THINK about how everything we do effects our own environment, and how our nonchalant actions can have DIRE repercussions to our HOME, Mother Earth.

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