Monday, April 19, 2010

Way to Go, Big Red!

Big Red gum has made a "revolution" in Gum-Wrapper technology! The "paper" wrapper! And this is a "new-enough" concept that they thought they should "advertise" it. See for yourselves:

Ok, there's a touch of sarcasm there, but really I am proud of them. If I were to write them a letter, it would say:

Dear Big Red,

While I may not have the same enthusiasm for your gum as I did in high school, I will chew you out of respect for your respect for our environment. Keep making a difference!
P.S. Maybe next you can stop having your gum in individual wrappers. It gets stale eventually, anyway.

But, I'm glad that big companies (Wrigley's) are at least trying to do "something." That's where it all starts, isn't it? With a "something." And maybe this way, the "paper" can be composted or recycled. Who knows? The possibilities are endless when only 1 step toward change is made. (I have to keep telling myself that every time I go without a straw or use a ceramic plate.) Just one step at a time.

EDIT: Now with excessive quotation marks added for extra sarcasm!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Vacations are wasteful!

(Ok, so the title isn't really clever, but I couldn't think of anything to rhyme with "waste-maker"). So, I've kind of fallen off the bandwagon of keeping track of my waste since I got back from vacation, but there's a reason why.

Let me explain first...

I went on vacation to New Orleans with my M.a.t.h., his colleague and her bf for the ACLA Conference. And while the trip was fun and great, I was struck by something.

1). How many bottles of toothpaste, shampoo, water, soda etc. are thrown away at the security lines? Do they recycle them? Who knows? I'd like to find out more about this.
2). We threw away A TON of plastic cups/paper trash etc. just because we didn't want to deal with carrying them around. I even decided to throw away my novelty plastic gator cup b/c I didn't have room to pack it in my carry-on.
3). And the wastefulness wasn't just us, it was EVERYBODY on Bourbon St. there were cups up the wazoo lying by the curb, being kicked into piles then shoveled in big garbage bags.  Now the city of New Orleans has a really great street-cleaning team, but I bet that stuff just lands in the landfill.
4). There are SO many beads there - they are hanging from the telephone wires, tress, cars, houses, signs EVERYWHERE.  And so many more are dished out every night.  They go from this:
To this: 

Do you see the beads on the lamp post?  It's probably not that hard to get THOSE down, but what about the ones I saw hanging from a power line over the cable car tracks? Yeah, those are not coming down by any human hands. Also, it's apparently taboo to pick beads up off the ground (though I did a couple times cuz they were pretty. And I was freaking out about all the plastic) so people just leave them sitting around everywhere. And it had rained that day so there was water in the gutters. The beads would roll into the water then slowly slink their way to the drains. The drains DO have bars on them so cups can't go down, but they don't stop those persistent little strings of beads.... Here's another picture of beads hanging on the wire just below the deck:
And the funny thing is that we weren't even there on Mardi Gras or any holiday really. OK, it was Easter the next day, but do people party and get drunk and throw beads on Easter Eve? Apparently in New Orleans ANY weekend night is appropriate for that. Weekday nights too? Maybe So. And if this was just an average day, think about what it would be like on Mardi Gras, or St. Patrick's Day or New Year's Eve or any day that involves raucous consumption, destruction and waste for that matter.....

*Sigh....* In the end, all this excess made me wonder if what I'm doing is really worth anything. Am I just a drop in the bucket or am I really doing something? Is traveling really worth it? Well, actually, I don't think too hard about that one because, really is. But maybe I could try to change my habits in the future so I can at least contribute more to the solution rather than the problem. I guess the point of this blog is to just encourage me to do something...ANYTHING...because "any" is infinitely more than "none."

I'll try to get back on my tracking soon and I have many more good posts stored up for future use. So please come back often! Oh, that's another thing...I seriously need readers if I am to keep this up. Please tell friends! And if you have blogs I will return the favor and eventually, everyone will feel loved. ^_^

Friday, April 9, 2010

Double Threat: Help the Environment & Yourself - AT THE SAME TIME!

Ok, I realize that I owe y'all a blog post about consuming, but things have been really hectic since I've gotten back from New Orleans. (I also have another post I want to write on  New Orleans and plastic waste. But that'll be later. For now I'll try to tide you over with an article I found.  I'll sum up the article here, but will also past the link.  This article gives you some tips on how to live healthier and less wastefully. And hopefully will post again soon!


One of the other topics that is near and dear to my own heart is our individual responsibility to  ourselves and our health, so my contribution for Blog Action Day is the following list of 3 simple ways to get healthy while saving the environment!

1) Leave your car in the garage!
I am not one of those people who thinks that cars are "bad" or that we shouldn't take advantage of the convenient as well as the fun aspects of having motorized vehicles. However, not to put too fine a point on it, but people have simply gotten lazy!

Do you need to take your car somewhere that is more than a few miles away? Usually, yes. However, do you need to take your car to the store that is just a few blocks or even a mile from your house? No.
Save money, lessen pollution, and get some exercise all at the same time by simply walking or taking a bicycle. What are you afraid of? That you'll work up a sweat? Good! Sweating is very healthy and all recent health studies point to the fact that elevating your heart rate for at least 20 to 30 minutes every day is not just a good idea, but that it could actually save your life.

So, even if you don't care about the environment, why don't you put the car keys down, strap on some walking shoes, or just go grab your bike and work up a sweat. Do it every day, and before you know it, you will be losing weight, having a higher level of energy, saving money, and {GASP} – you might even enjoy it!

2) Stop buying bottled water!
This is one of the biggest "end around" health issues that I have ever seen. Many years ago, someone decided (rightfully so) that we all needed to be drinking more water. However, the need for us all to drink more water does NOT mean that we need to keep buying bottled water in plastic bottles!

Pop Quiz: What is the one solitary substance that is physically impossible for the environment to break down?
PLASTIC! All of the plastic that there ever was is still here on earth, and every time you buy a plastic water bottle and then throw it in your trash can, you are contributing to the problem. I don't have the facts and figures about how many of these plastic water bottles are sold every day, but I'm sure it is a staggering amount.
Yes, you should drink water – and a lot of it. However, just buy one or two plastic drinking bottles that can be washed and refilled every day. If you need to buy three or four so that you always have plenty of water available, then do that. However, stop buying disposable plastic water bottles!
Does the term "reduce, reuse, recycle" mean anything to you?

Author's Note: There are also icky things in bottled water like e-coli, bacteria, choloroform and other fun stuff. Check out this study and the chart by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). I was going to do a whole post on bottled water...but maybe some other day.

3) Eat fresh food instead of frozen food
There is no real discussion needed about the fact that fresh food is more healthy for you than the packaged frozen food that people buy at the grocery store. There are innumerable health benefits associated with eating fresh food – especially fruits and vegetables.
However, in addition to the instant and obvious health benefits, let's look once again at the issue that was just mentioned – plastic. What do those Lean Cuisine and Weight Watchers frozen meals come packaged in? Plastic. How are those types of meals heated up? In the microwave. Ah yes, the microwave – you know, that massively power draining box that sits on top of your counter, using as much electricity as a television set, if not even more?  And what are the ingredients in all of those frozen foods? Chemicals. Those chemicals – other than being nothing less than poison for your body – are manufactured in a factory somewhere. That factory is using massive amounts of energy and it is also polluting the environment on many different levels.
By switching exclusively to fresh foods, you would:
  • Instantly increase your level of health 
  • Live longer
  • Stop putting more plastic into the environment
  • Help to put companies out of business that are polluting both our bodies and our planet
Given the 3 simple ways to get healthy and save the environment that I just listed, what are your thoughts? Do they sound something like this?
  • I'm only one person, what can I do?
  • Saving only a few miles per day on my car won't make much of a difference
  • I don't have time to wash and reuse water bottles
  • My schedule doesn't allow me time to eat fresh foods
If those are some of the responses that you have, then consider the following: Yes, you are only one person, but this is a collective effort. Imagine if a few BILLION people started making these efforts on a daily basis. If you save 2 miles per day on your car every day, that is over 700 miles every year. Even if your car gets 30 miles to the gallon, that is almost 25 gallons of gas pollution that you did not put into the environment – and that is only YOUR efforts over one year. Again, what if billions of people did that?

You DO have time to wash and reuse bottles and other eating and drinking utensils. It is just inconvenient, so you don't want to do it. Everyone can find a way to fit fresh foods into their dietary lifestyle. Again, it may not be convenient to do so, but there is a way. You just have to ask yourself if your health and the health of the very planet that you live on is worthy of your efforts…

Now that you have reached the end of this information about saving yourself and saving the environment at the same time, are you going to let it go in one ear and out the other, or are you going to take both personal and global responsibility and start making some changes?
As you consider that, let me leave you with one more quote:
"We are either part of the problem, or part of the solution." 


Here's the article's Link: