Thursday, October 8, 2009

Eco Fact

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

The Biggest Little Litter Problem in the World

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

The Swiss Tray

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)

With a little effort we can kick this problem in the sorry, but I HAD to say that, I simply couldn't resist! Please stop groaning......

Monday, October 5, 2009

Eco Fact

Most typical supermarket laundry and dishwashing detergents are made from petroleum.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Fading Gardens

Well, it's that time of year again when the gardens are going to sleep for the winter. Because I live in a small home, with a postage stamp size yard, I belong to a community garden here in Philly and am waiting for the inevitable email informing me the garden will be closing for the season and that we all need to get together to do the final fall cleanup. This year hasn't been real good in the garden with all the rain we had for so long but now that things have finally dried up and the sun is getting through, the plants are giving one last effort to produce some fruits and veggies so I am hoping the fall cleanup email comes later rather than sooner.

The reason I joined the garden group was to plant and harvest 100% organically grown veggies. With the economy the way it's been and the high cost of buying organic, I thought I would give growing my own a try. In the past I've grown the typical patio tomatoes and string beans and green peppers in pots and crevices out back, but this year I went all out at the community garden with watermelon, cantaloupe, carrots, red beets, brussels sprouts, mixed salad greens and more. One of my most surprising harvests was in late spring and early summer after I planted snow peas. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine that I would reap almost 8 pounds of the little darlings! I mean, how many snow peas can 2 people eat? But I am grateful because the few times I have purchased non-organic snow peas at the supermarket, they cost anywhere between $4 and $6 per pound, basically green gold. So my $2 seed packet yielded over $32 worth of produce. I still have a watermelon waiting to be picked and a few cantaloupes and the last of the string beans but all the rest of the plants are done. Soon, I will be starting to plan what I'm going to plant next spring and definitely altering my choices for next year based on this years experiences.

So now is a good time to begin thinking about if YOU might like to try your hand at growing your own organic veggies next spring. I have often heard from people that say they wished they could eat less pesticide sprayed produce but that the high cost of organic was not in their budgets. Well for a $2 pack of seeds, you can have a dozen cantaloupe and for a $3 seedling tray, you can pick strings beans all summer and fall. It doesn't take a big yard or even a yard at all for that matter, many veggies can be grown in pots. Aside from the environmental and financial benefits, another reason to grow your own is it's just plain FUN. It's hard to describe how much pleasure can be derived from seeing seeds you planted sprout and turn into huge plants that bear vegetables you can pick and eat. And kids get an even bigger kick out of it. I let my granddaughter help me plant the carrot seeds on Mothers Day and even though she doesn't like most veggies, carrots included, she was nevertheless fascinated when she saw what she had planted pulled out of the ground, ready to be cooked and eaten.

Try it, I guarantee you'll like it!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Eco Fact

Washing a sidewalk or driveway with a hose uses about 50 gallons of water every 5 minutes

Thought for the Day

If you want to know your past - look into your present conditions. If you want to know your future - look into your present actions.

— Chinese Proverb

Green October

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!