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Preventing Pollution

Balloons: Bad for marine life

Balloons are fun and festive, but unfortunately, when released outside they are really horrible for the environment.  They can harm wildlife, namely when they enter waterways.

Balloons often mark celebration.  I remember as a Girl Scout releasing balloons outside for part of an event.  A few years later looking upon that event in horror when I realized how much litter it must have caused  -- litter that could have hurt an animal.

It's not unusual for balloons to be eaten by whales, dolphins, turtles, and other marine life, who mistake them for food, such as jellyfish.   SaveTheWhales.org gives an example of a a young sperm whale dying when it stranded on a New Jersey beach due to a balloon lodged in its stomach.  ... read more

No New Plastics Month in Review

No New PlasticsNo New PlasticsAlthough I'm not proud to admit it, going plastic free was not an overwhelming success. Plastic is EVERYWHERE, from our living rooms to our cars to our nights out. And our plastic habit is piling up to the tune of 2,500,000 plastic bottles every hour and 25,000,000,000 styrofoam cups every year in America alone. And plastic doesn't go away, even if you do your due diligence by tossing it in your recycling bin: every piece of plastic ever created still exists in some form or another. Even those that "biodegrade" just break into to small pieces, never truly disintegrating entirely.

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What can one person do? Take little steps!

I was browsing through my Facebook newsfeed yesterday, and 350.org's posted the pictures for a visual essay by Franke James.  The visual essay is called 'What Can One Person Do When 6.8 Billion People on the Planet are Frying' and the whole thing can be found here.  My personal favorite is the pondering the irony of being destroyed by fossil fuels part.  

While this is a kind of humorous look at what you can do, I think it makes some great points.  Whatever the solution to climate change is, the best plan is to be doing something. I have this discussion with my sister all the time -- she is convinced that the small things won't really make a difference in the long run.  Ok, fine, changing your lightbulbs isn't going to stop countries like Bangladesh or the Maldives from ending up underwater.  But at least it's something! And it's that first step to making your lifestyle a little bit greener.  ... read more

Banning and Charging for Single-Use Bags

Back in July, Emily wrote about AB 1998, which would have banned single-use bags in California.  A few weeks ago, it was rejected by the California Senate.

I hate single-use bags as much as the next green person, especially plastic ones, but I think think a small fee might have less backlash and more general support than a flat-out ban. It made me think about what other cities, states, and countries are doing to reduce the amount of disposable bags used. 

When I was in Washington D.C. last spring, they charged 5 cents for each bag.  I actually thought this was a great idea.  If you forget your reusable bags (which I do more frequently than I care to admit) you don't have to spend 99 cents on each bag.  If you do forget your bags, I think it helps cashiers and baggers go less "bag happy."  How frequently do stores unnecessarily double-bag things before you can even tell them to stop?  Or sometimes they'll put just one or two items in each bag.   

Does this fee on plastic bags work?  YES!  In Washington D.C., the use of plastic bags has declined by half!  ... read more

Greenpeace Protesting North Sea Chevron-Owned Drill Ship

Greenpeace protest in the Shetland IslandsGreenpeace Activists boarded an oil drilling ship near the Shetland Isles.  They spent Tuesday night in a tent attached by ropes from the anchor chain of the Stena Carron drill ship, which is owned Chevron.  The group attached "survival pod" (see picture of it here) where they intend to live for a month.  They are protected from the elements of the sea and they have enough food and water to last a month.  

Greenpeace is campaigning for a cessation of North Sea drilling to prevent another oil spill.... read more

Green Company Profile: To-Go Ware

To-Go Ware

Why Its Keen:

Kelly Farkas of To-Go Ware introduces the company well:

"To-Go Ware provides reusable, non-plastic eating ware, including bamboo utensils, stainless steel food carriers and handcrafted accessories from communities abroad. Giving people some great options to reduce their forkprint while on-the-go. Our mission is to make available innovative products that provide a solution, tell a great story, and are enjoyable to use."

 

... read more

Green Book Review: The Blue Economy, by Gunter Pauli

The Blue Economy, 10 years, 100 innovations, 100 million jobs is a phenomenal book I have been reading lately by Gunter Pauli, founder of Ecover, and The Zero Emissions Research and Initiatives organization. The philosophy behind the book is the recognition and emulation of the interconnectedness of the five kingdoms of nature. Pauli presents an alternative economic system where human processes are modeled after natural systems, and work with nature, rather than against her. ... read more

Aquaponics - the inside scoop on the closed-looped, fish and produce yielding system

What is Aquaponics? 

It is a closed-looped, symbiotic process involving fish and produce where fish waste provides a food source for the plants and the plants provide a natural filter for the water the fish live in. So that means you can raise your own fish and grow your own produce in a self sustaining nutrient system.... read more

Cigarette Litter

Last summer, I wrote a blog post about how bad cigarettes are for the environment.   Today, I want to follow-up with the problems associated with cigarette litter.

Seeing people toss their cigarette butts outside makes my blood boil.  I don't know why some smokers think that somehow cigarette butts don't "count" as litter.  Throwing cigarette butts on the ground is disgusting, careless, and ugly.  And it needs to stop.  

SmokeFree.Gov has resources for those who want to quit smoking.  But for those who haven't been able to successfully quit, please do not litter your butts.  Even SmokingSection.com, a PRO smokers group, says:  "Considerate smokers don't litter. Those who do deserve criticism as much as any other litterer."

Billions of cigarettes are littered every day.  Cigarette filters are not biodegradable, and even if they were, I find this to be an invalid excuse.  My used tissue is biodegradable, but I'm not going to toss it out from my car window, like one would a cigarette.  And while one may think that it is just "one little cigarette," one cigarette from each smoker who litters their butts adds up to a lot.  

Cigarette litter can cause fires.  They also end up in waterways and sometimes marine life will ingest them.  There was a study done last year stating that they kill fish.  Read here.  ... read more

Cloth Diaper Myths

Myth #1: Cloth diapering is an all or nothing deal.
Reality: Not at all. Cloth diapering part-time makes sense for many people. Even if you replace just one disposable diaper every day with a cloth one, that is 365 LESS DIAPERS in the landfill. That is a huge difference. There are also hybrid diapers, which are cloth on the outside and use disposable liners. (Read here for more info on the types of cloth diapers)

Myth #2: Cloth diapering is expensive.
Reality: Disposable diapers are expensive! There is the initial overhead of buying cloth diapers, but since you can reuse them over and over again, you won’t have to spend money again on diapers in a while. Particularly if you use one-size diapers, meaning you can adjust the size to grow along with your baby. They can last for years! Check this chart out about the money savings associated with using cloth diapers. ... read more

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