Environment


The information presented on this page overlaps items presented on several other pages, but it's really all part of what we consider a sane lifestyle that incorporates good health and simple living.

Basics

It's impossible to overstate the importance of taking care of the planet!

While population growth in the U.S. has slowed somewhat we as a nation are still consuming far beyond our share of the earth's resources. And being a society built on materialism and consumption only adds to the challenges. Our political leadership is bankrupt and the laws always default to the corporation, but the individual can still make a difference. In fact, that is the only viable course of action; everyone can do something to lessen the numerous problems facing the environment. Just being aware of conditions is a beginning.

What We're Doing

Reading and talking about protecting the environment is fine, but does no good without action. It's our view that even the smallest steps help the overall effort and the following is our approach:
  • Driving a more efficient car; currently a 2017 Chevrolet Volt.
  • Making fewer trips and combining errands to minimize extra trips.
  • Composting household kitchen scraps.
  • Sleeping our computers whenever they are not being used.
  • Recycling paper, cardboard, cans, and plastic.
  • Eating very little meat (Barbara eats none).
  • Using a small, efficient convection oven for most cooking.
  • Growing some of the vegetables we eat.
  • No fertilizer or pesticides on the lawn or the small garden.
  • Using a small push lawn mower instead of the riding mower we previously had.
  • No daily newspaper and the least paper mail possible.
  • Paying all bills on-line and receiving as many statements and bills electronically as the companies will send.
  • Picking up trash along the road in our neighborhood.
  • Drinking water instead of store-bought beverages, which is also good for health.
  • Turning off the hot water heaters when we're gone more than one day; using timers the rest of the time.
  • We checked all electric items with a Kill-A-Watt to record their electric current draw. Some things can use power even when shut off and these are put on power strips where they are really off.
All of these conservation efforts have not only saved us a significant amount of money, but have also produced a more satisfying way of life.

Brief Facts

Here are a few facts gathered from different sites to jog the thinking:
  • If every U.S. household replaced one roll of regular paper towels with 100 percent recycled ones, we'd save 544,000 trees - Natural Resources Defense Council.
  • Airlines burned an extra 350 million gallons of fuel in 2000 due to U.S. passengers' increasing average weight over the past decade.
  • For a family of four, a round-trip transatlantic flight creates as much greenhouse gas as driving for a year.
  • In a 2004 survey, one-third of Americans said greed and materialism are our most urgent moral problems.
  • Each year, 100 million trees are used to produce junk mail. Find out how to get off marketers' lists at New American Dream.
  • Cleaning the lint filter on your dryer can decrease the energy used per load by up to 30 percent.
  • Twenty-seven percent of Americans' daily trips are one mile or less.
  • In the last 20 years, sugar consumption in the USA has increased 26 pounds to 135 pounds of sugar per person per year.
  • If every household in the U.S. replaced one standard incandescent light bulb with a compact fluorescent light bulb, it would prevent enough pollution to equal removing one million cars from the road.

Eating Habits

We all know that what we eat affects the environment, but sometimes an article points out things that we had not considered. How Your Eating Habits Affect the Environment is a stunning story in the January 6, 2007 Raw Living Foods Newsletter. They say that eliminating animal products from your diet will benefit the earth in the following ways:
  1. POLLUTION/GLOBAL WARMING: Animals raised for food produce 130 times more excrement than the entire human population --- 86,600 lbs per second --- which all too often leaches into streams and contaminates groundwater. Nearly 90% of all U.S. farms drain into a single body of water - the Mississippi River. Waste lagoons on livestock farms release a considerable amount of methane into the atmosphere, a greenhouse gas which contributes to global warming.
  2. LAND USE/DEFORESTATION/HABITAT DESTRUCTION: Nearly 90% of all agricultural land in the U.S. is used to raise animals for food. 20 times more land is required to feed a meat-eater than to feed a pure vegetarian. For every quarter-pound burger made of rainforest beef, 55 square feet of land are consumed. Livestock grazing is the number one threat and cause of elimination of tropical rainforest species.
  3. WATER: Nearly 50% of all water consumed in the U.S. is used for livestock. The production of one pound of California beef requires a total of 2,464 gallons of water. You would save more water by not eating a pound of California beef than you would by not showering for 6 months.
  4. ENERGY: Raising animals for food requires more than 30% of all raw materials and fossil fuels used in the United States. Producing a single hamburger patty uses enough fossil fuels to drive a small car 20 miles, not to mention enough water for 17 showers.
Just these few facts are enough to make us consider giving up meat; we've not done that, but we did cut back our consumption. A story by the Huffington Post, Vegetarian is the New Prius, gives even more details.

Web Sites

These locations are loaded with information about how to live "green" and what everyone can do to help the planet.
  • The Sierra Club is America's oldest, largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization. They also have some good words about sustainable consumption.
  • The Global Intelligencer presents news focused on global transformation and has excellent environmental articles.
  • Mother Earth News, "The Original Guide to Living Wisely", has been around since the 1970's.
  • Grist Magazine has environmental news & commentary. They are a nonprofit organization funded by foundation grants, reader contributions, and just a touch of advertising.
  • EcoEarth.Info, Environment Portal & Search Engine, Empowering the Environmental Sustainability Movement.
  • The Natural Resources Defense Council's (NRDC) purpose is to safeguard the Earth: its people, its plants and animals and the natural systems on which all life depends.
  • Environmental Health & Safety Online (EHSO) is a privately run site with a wealth of information.
  • Co-op America's mission is to create a socially just & environmentally sustainable society.
  • Greenpeace International works to improve all types of conditions throughout the world.
  • Ecologist pushes their hard copy, environmental affairs magazine, but their web pages have some interesting debates and articles.
  • EarthSave promotes a shift toward a healthy plant-based diet.