Garbage Crisis Concept Verses Over consumption
The political problem of siting and funding landfills has effectively penetrated our consciousness to accept the garbage crisis concept. Add to that a decade of public education focused towards recycling (funded mostly by the chemical and petroleum industries), and the result is that our environmental concerns have been narrowed to waste management while recycling has been elevated to savior status as a patriotic and responsible way to deal with this problem. Don't throw the stuff away - sort it, transport it, and remanufacture it to support new industries while creating new jobs to ensure the continuation of our consumer culture. But, by all means, do not think about the necessity for creating all this garbage in the first place!
Capitalism - consumption and growth
Of course existing jobs are dependent on this way of life, and our economy is based on consumption and growth. It is a very threatening concept to consider cutting back on our insatiable lust for more and newer stuff. So, we are programmed to buy into the end-of-the-smokestack mentality that does not factor in the entire life cycle of the goods we think we cannot live without. And if the debate can be distorted even further to the packaging rather than the packaging and the contents, we can keep on blissfully spending our way to oblivion.
Minimum-Impact Industries Need Support
At the same time, future job growth in emerging minimum-impact industries depends upon the encouragement of market support. If we were to demand and purchase nontoxic, organic, energy-efficient, minimally-packaged, durable products, then the impact would be felt through the cash registers.
ECO-Action's Wellness Platform
ECO-Action has developed an educational platform that addresses consumer and lifestyle issues. The intent is to provide insight as to how our day-to-day, mundane choices affect the overwhelming, technical and awesome environmental challenges we are facing. The buzzwords and hype in the marketplace have alienated a number of people who want to do the right thing, but often do not know how. The following ten points can help us all to step more lightly on the earth, live healthier, and save money in the process:
10 STEPS TO ECO-WELLNESS
1. PRE CYCLE
First and foremost, do you really need it and are you willing to take responsibility for it? If the answer is yes, use the remaining guidelines to select minimum-impact products. Purchase products that can be re-used, such as batteries, cloth shopping bags, and cloth napkins. Buy concentrates in bulk, avoid disposables, and look for the term "post-consumer waste" when purchasing a recycled product.
2. GO ORGANIC
Do not support products that rely on chemical methods of pest control and fertilization; instead use natural methods in your own house and yard, and purchase organic produce. If not, you are not only supporting polluting industries, you are damaging you and your family's (and pet's!) health while poisoning your home.
3. ELIMINATE CHLORINE
is one of the most toxic substance on the planet, responsible for everything from ozone depletion to groundwater contamination to genetic abnormalities and breast cancer. Chlorine is found in many household products, but there are alternatives that can be used for mildew, laundry, disinfectant, and swimming pools. Filter chlorine and other contaminants from your shower and drinking water.
4. ELIMINATE TOXIC CLEANERS
Toxic cleaners expose you to poisons, as well as create pollution during manufacture, use, and disposal. Hazardous household cleaners include scouring powders, drain openers, paint stripper and nail polish remover, oven cleaners, toilet bowl cleaners, etc. Nontoxic alternatives are available for effective cleaning and disinfecting, and we must create demand for these products in the marketplace, or substitute with simple and inexpensive recipes.
5. USE ENERGY EFFICIENTLY
Until we are able to avail ourselves of renewable fuel sources, do everything you can to cut back on fossil fuel use. Use public transportation or car pools, consolidate errands for efficiency, set back the thermostat, use compact fluorescent bulbs, close off unused rooms, and add insulation and window film to conserve fuel. Forbes magazine says you will receive a 35%-50% return when investing in energy efficiency.
6. USE WATER EFFICIENTLY
The small amount of fresh water that is available to use for drinking and cooking is being polluted and used up at an alarming rate. Install water-saving devices on toilets, sinks and showers. Xeriscape with native plants.
7. AVOID PLASTIC
Between 2% and 7% of the plastic manufactured in North America is recycled; most of it is shipped to the Third World and dumped in landfills. We would like to say ELIMINATE plastic, but we recognize the impossibility of this ideal and how neurotic we can make ourselves if we undertake such a difficult challenge. But whenever possible, don't support the plastic industry. Plastic is made from a limited resource by a very toxic process (heavy on the chlorine use). Virgin resin is required in every "recycled" batch, and can only become another product a few times (if at all). Then it ends up in the landfill forever, or is incinerated and releases dioxin and other poisons into the air.
Whether viewed as responsible organic waste disposal, or as a means of manufacturing your own nutritious fertilizer, composting returns organic nutrients to the soil. You can layer grass clippings, leaves, and food waste in your own backyard.
9. GO VEGETARIAN
In the United States, the average meal travels 1,500 miles to your plate. Fifteen pounds of grain and immense amounts of water and chemicals are used to make a single serving of meat. Meat produced in factory farms is rich in dioxin, and is the primary source from which we accumulate this toxin in our own tissues. Eating low on the food chain is not only healthy, but considerably lessens the environmental impact. Supporting local organic farmers also encourages sustainable agriculture.
10. PLANT A NATIVE TREE
Reforestation is a pro-active step we can all take. The benefits are awesome as we cool global warming, provide natural habitat, prevent soil erosion, and reduce water run-off. As more and more of our beautiful state is paved over with relentless development, restoring as much as possible is imperative.