There are only two manmade structures on planet Earth which are large enough to be seen from outer space: the Great Wall of China and the Fresh Kills landfill in Staten Island New York.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
If you were to stop and ask the average person on the street what the biggest litter problem in the world is you would probably receive the reply of "oh it would have to be plastic water bottles". That answer would be a good one because here in the USA we throw away 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour totaling about 38 billion each year, bottles which required 1.5 billion barrels of oil to produce. Although a recent and monumental problem, plastic waters bottles are not the biggest little litter problem.
Another answer you might receive is "soda cans". That would be another good guess, with sixty-five billion aluminum soda cans being used each year and no exact count as to how many are thrown away on beaches and highways. Only about 65% of aluminum cans are currently being recycled.
Other good answers would be: plastic bags, candy and bubble gum wrappers, beer bottles and car tires and the list could go on forever. While all of these are huge litter problems that need to be dealt with, they are still not the answer to the question.
So what IS the answer to what's the biggest little litter problem in the world? CIGARETTE BUTTS.
Worldwide, smokers toss over 4.5 TRILLION cigarette butts each year with about 30% ending up as litter. After the butts gets flicked onto the street, buried in the beach sand or dumped out of car ashtrays while drivers are sitting at red lights, wind, rain and waves carry them into the sewers and ocean. Once in the sewers and oceans, the approximately 4,000 toxic chemicals the cigarette filter was designed to trap leak into and poison our water supplies. While the actual tobacco and paper components decompose rather quickly, the plastic cellulose filters do not break down easily and are mistaken for food by birds and marine life who become poisoned and die by the concentration of toxic chemicals in them.
How can we help change this? Well for starters, where there are particular problem areas in your neighborhood, signs can be posted informing offenders of the effects tossed cigarettes have on the environment. If you personally see someone tossing, try to politely inform them and say something like, here, give it to me and I'll dispose of it safely for you, thanks.
If you use Altoids, instead of tossing the empty metal can, carry it in your pocket to use as your own personal ashtray and later empty into a proper trash receptacle or when you get home.
Check out these sites for personal portable ashtrays that fit right in your pocket or purse, you can buy these for yourself or give as holiday gifts :
ButtsOut Personal Ashtrays http://www.buttsout.net/
The Swiss Tray http://swiss.chez.com/indexengl.html
Or get organized in your own communities to purchase these inexpensive outdoor models to place at bus stops and busy corners:
The No Butts Bin Company (variety of styles for outdoor use) http://www.nobutts.com/
Monday, October 5, 2009
Friday, October 2, 2009
Thursday, October 1, 2009
19125 is turning green! Early this year an initiative was started to turn my zip code into the greenest in the city. It's gone from the talking stages to the planning stages to the implementation. Of course I am up to my eyeballs in it as I always am with anything I am passionate about.
October 1st is Green Guide Mobilization Day when we, the volunteer Green Guides, get our schwag bags filled with eco friendly tools such as Compact Fluorescent Bulbs and other yet to be disclosed goodies to pass out to our neighbors. My block is small and rather than just knocking at doors and handing out the freebies, I thought a better idea is to post a sign on the corner and invite all the neighbors to pick up their free green stuff at a table in front of my house. I am hoping that approach will stimulate conversation and involvement among the recipients, people that otherwise might not take an interest. There will be street tree planting applications as well and I have to begin to formulate my rebuttal to those that will argue that the trees will cause their sidewalks to break, that the stray cats and dogs will use the space as a litter box and what about the leaves to clean up and and and and.....
October 10th is the annual Fishtown Neighbors Association fall cleanup. In previous years it had specific clean up sites but this year it will encompass the entire 19125 zip code and of course, yours truly also volunteered for that too. It lasts from 9 to noon and is followed by a BBQ, hope there are some yummy vegetarian choices.
As if all that wasn't enough, I will be heading to Milwaukee on October 15 until the 18th attending a Community Leadership Seminar. Because I am so environmentally active I was one of 5 neighborhood residents selected to go on the all expenses paid trip. I'll be attending green workshops and a tour of Milwaukee on the final day. I heard through the grapevine that some of the previous years seminars were held in Miami and San Jose, just my luck to have been chosen for the Milwaukee trip! But hey, it's all paid for, the subject is right up my alley and I've never been to Milwaukee. I'll have to look into the vegetarian restaurant scene there and other points of interest to me.
All in all October is a pretty hectic green month for me but as you are all beginning to see...I never get tired of green!
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Buying second hand is a major way to reduce your carbon footprint on the earth. It is the REUSE in the green mantra "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle".
- Buying used merchandise helps to reduce waste in both the manufacture of new products and the disposal of old products. Any used and unwanted furniture, household items and clothing that is reused will not have to be manufactured and will stay out of landfills longer, toxic sites which contribute to global warming and green house gases.
- By shopping for second hand goods in charity, thrift, consignment, vintage and antique stores, you can help to support a charity or a small entrepreneurial business.
- Second hand costs less than new items. A find in a thrift store, charity shop or flea market costs only a fraction of it's original new price especially on high-end items.
- You can get much better quality items and pay low prices for used high-end designer items that you may never have been able to afford if purchased new.
- Shopping for second hand items is just plain fun. You never know what you'll find and the thrill of finding something amazing that costs next to nothing is much better than shopping for inferior quality new goods at the mega mall.
- There is a huge choice of second hand items available from a variety of venues including FreeCycle (PhillyFreeCycle for locals), Craigs List, flea markets, charity shops, vintage boutiques, antique shops and swap parties so there is no reason why you won't be able to find exactly what you want.
- Second hand household items and clothes are more original than the typical items that you buy in the mall, you are a lot less likely to see someone owning the same thing when you buy second hand.
- Buying second hand allows for buying larger quantities which you may not have been able to afford. You can come home with a huge bagful of back-to-school clothes from a thrift store for the same price as 2 new outfits from the children's boutique at mall.
- You often run across vintage hard to find items items in thrift stores that are no longer manufactured or available. I once found a wooden clothesline reel in a thrift store after searching half the city for one. The guys at the hardware stores said "they don't make them anymore, last time we carried one was about 5 years ago". Now I know to preserve and keep the one I found used because they are becoming scarce.
- You can very often find excellent one-of-a-kind original artwork at thrift stores done by students or professional artists for under $10 already framed. I once found an framed etching for $8 only to later discover it was by a well known Philadelphia artist and worth over $500!
Buying second hand is not only good for the environment, it is also good for your wallet and your eco-conscience , so it's a win-win situation any way you look at it.