In the beginning…

According to the oldest story known to a large portion of humanity – the earth was created and it was good.  Not so much anymore.  As we have claimed dominion over our planet, we have forgotten the importance of washing our clothes upstream of where we bathe.  It’s gotten so bad that earlier this week, a Chinese politician turned down 30,000 to take a swim in a river of China because of all the pollution in the water. Additionally, things are so bad in China that pigs are being hauled out by the thousands because of the toxicity of the water and the view of what the local biosphere looks like may represent the eastern part of America 100 years ago.

But, as American’s set environmental regulations became focused on protecting the American People and landscape – businesses sought locations where environmental accountability was less stringent.  One of the main reasons for this is your spending habits.  If you make a product following stringent environmental guidelines, it will cost more to manufacture.  Additionally paying fair American wages causes items to be cost prohibitive for daily consumers who demand  cheaper products.  These are reasons outsourcing to places like China, where environmental regulations have become a common manufacturing practice.

However not all American Businesses follow this practice or concept of doing business in this way.

Today I want to look at Method Soap.  I am providing two links today, the first one is to a story about how Method created a use for plastics disposed in the ocean.  The second is a look at who Method is.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/ups/2013/03/14/how-a-company-recycles-ocean-plastic-twice-the-size-of-texas/

http://methodhome.com/methodology/our-story/we-are/

Question of the day: “What company’s are you spending your money on because of their environmental efforts?

The Future is Now!

People ask, what do I do or, more realistically what I want to do. My answer is simple. I want to help us all be better stewards of our planet. Actually I want to physically clean our oceans, and you should want me to be successful. As a race, a species of animals if you will, we humans have done some horrible things to the planet and to one another. However, our growth is at a point where it’s harder to behave in ways that are harmless. Every part of our societies from first to third world countries, there is an impact of our technology and advancement that is known as plastic.

Many people think, well I recycle – isn’t that enough? I know this is: the stories about our planet and how much is prevalent in the food steam of wild animals is quite disturbing. Over the weekend, news reports flooded the views of a sperm whale that ate plastic sheeting and many other items. Regularly, animals are found deceased from malnutrition because they have been eating plastic.

As parents and guardian’s of the next generation of humans, we are protective of what our children eat. We advocate for the quality of life our food has, preferring to not support inhumane treatment of our livestock. Factory farms, lead, chromium – these are all common place danger words for most.

When it comes to the future of our world, and life upon it, action by each human is necessary. Reducing the quantity of harmful pollutants means buying less plastic, strengthening our recycling laws and continuing to develop ways to effectively divert all plastics away from the waste and single use streams. Additionally, taking daily action by using public transportation, planning purchases in ‘one run trips’ and in home conservation efforts like turning down the heat (or air conditioning), using water efficient toilets and shower-heads all make significant differences.

If you’ve been reading along from the beginning, you know I advocate a 2 garbage can system. What ways to you ensure you Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle efficiently?

Sperm Whale Dead in Spain http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/mar/08/spain-sperm-whale-death-swallowed-plastic
Pollution in our Deep Seas http://www.theplasticfreetimes.com/news/13/02/28/litter-found-deep-sea-survey
The Great Garbage Patch http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2013/03/20133911393486789.html
5 Gyres Institute http://5gyres.org/what_is_the_issue/the_problem/

I really enjoyed this blog about the responsibility of being a tourist.

El mundo desde otras miradas

Sustainable tourism is defined in the Brundtland Report of 1987 as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”1. It is fitting, then, that we look at sustainable tourism as a journey from then to the now, and beyond that into the future.

What is the difference, then, between sustainable and responsible tourism really? Sustainable tourism and responsible tourism have the same goal of sustainable development, but responsible tourism is regarded as a pathway towards sustainable tourism.

Responsible tourism is about making “better places for people to live in and better places for people to visit” – in that order. It is about using tourism rather than being used by it. It is about identifying the locally significant issues and acting to deal with them.

Over the past couple of years the phrase “sustainable and responsible tourism” has gained currency…

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Do your values align with your actions? or Why shopping at Wal-Mart is bad for you and your friends.

For ten years now I have successfully NOT shopped at Wal-Mart for myself. In 10 years, I have been there – to my memory 6 times.  Two were to return items purchased for me, the rest were for family members.  It’s a passion for me, I am not a wealthy person so I understand how important each and every dollar I spend speaks for my core values. In this quickly written and extremely brief outline (only 4 points) I don’t hope to convince you that Wal-mart is the Devil. Instead I argue that American’s have the responsibility to align their values with their actions. If what you read makes you feel good about shopping at Wal-mart, then it is your freedom to do so. If you become aware that you are supporting something you don’t approve of then it is your responsibility to change your behaviors.

Core values?  Yes – the ideals I carry as an American, as a Christian and as a supporter for the fair and decent treatment of all humanity and the earth we live on. So, let us begin.

1. Sam Walton’s Wal-Mart grew in popularity based on penny pinching, – share the discounts received from the supplier with the customer. A very American idea.  However, he did it with intentional value, something that his heirs missed out on; “Wal-Mart’s new leaders took to heart one element of the founder’s business philosophy — the importance of reducing costs — but they didn’t show his intuition about the importance of making employees feel as though they had a stake in the company”  – excerpt from ( http://reclaimdemocracy.org/brief-history-of-walmart/)

Sam Walton was also anti union.  In truth, the fall of the American Union and it’s position to protect the American employee with honest wages and health and welfare benefits is one of the main reasons Wal-mart makes in excess of $175 million dollars in profits annually. It also can be tied to why The Affordable Health Care Act – also known as ObamaCare became a necessity. This article is one of thousands you can find describing the practices of this organization  (http://www.theglobalist.com/storyid.aspx?storyid=9769)

2  The platform of ‘Made in America’, one that proved to be untrue as NBC’s Dateline revealed back in the 90’s.  According to PBS, “In fact, only after Wal-Mart’s “Buy American” ad campaign was in full swing did the company become the country’s largest importer of Chinese goods in any industry.”

http://www.pbs.org/itvs/storewars/stores3.html (paragraph 9)

3 Wal-Mart is the leading reason the American Economy is in such disarray, forcing American manufacturing to shut down and move overseas.

http://www.demos.org/publication/not-made-america-top-10-ways-walmart-destroys-us-manufacturing-jobs

4. Locally owned and operated businesses close when Wal-Mart comes to town.  I’ve seen it with my own eyes, and have had conversations with people that have had to close their doors.    Here is an interesting piece,”Is Wal-Mart Good for Small Town America?” by Ken Lambert effectively surmises many aspects of the anti Wal-Mart argument.

http://www.deltacollege.edu/org/deltawinds/DWOnline08/iswalmartgoodforsmalltown.html

Getting off my horse now, hope all of these pieces of information will cause you to pause and think about how you spend your money. The question is, if you shop at Wal-Mart – do you think you will change your habits?

What’s for dinner tonight?

I was riding the train yesterday, thinking about the ideas in, “The Impact Equation” by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith.  What strikes me today is that I haven’t been a prolific writer over the last 20 years.  According to Brogan, it’s necessary to write regularly, because well – Practice makes perfect.  This is great for the organized non ADHD brain that is quite comfortable with scheduled activities, the kind of person that knew what was for dinner tonight, last weekend when the shopping was being done.

So I am making a commitment to more frequent writing, in order to effectively stretch my writing muscles.  That’s great, but really what does dinner have to do with any of this?  I’m glad you asked.  When I first made a decision that I wanted to promote the responsibilities of tending to our planet and avoiding fossil fuel based plastics it wasn’t because I got tired of looking at trash in my neighborhood.  I became aware that for the last 50 years, humans have been inserting deadly products into the food stream of natural wildlife, causing mass genocides of entire species, all without intention or knowledge of our actions.

In a conversation later that day, someone asked me, don’t we do enough through current recycling programs?  The answer is not at all.  In fact, I’ve been having a lot of conversations lately about this.  In the Berkley, California –  Ecology Center’s website – you can read about how plastic recycling education isn’t all true, and the pretenses you and I have about recycling may be false   http://www.ecologycenter.org/ptf/misconceptions.html

Spend some time with the 5gyres institute ( Facebook, Twitter and http://www.5gyres.org) and you will learn about how bad the problem of single use plastics really is, and why it’s a problem we will never get away from.  Yes I said never, as in permanent damage that may very well out live the human race.  (More about this in future posts I promise).

Why am I ranting?  Because today, something you eat will come in a single use plastic.  And because I too am guilty of this in the last 24 hours, that plastic went to a garbage pile, placing more fossil fuels back into the waste stream.  If I’m lucky, that piece I’m guilty of will end up in a landfill where it will be buried and take hundreds of years to break down, if it ever does.  The other potential is that it will  landing on a beach or floating in the ocean for some animal to confuse with natural foods.  This will not digest well, and will probably contribute to the death of some living creature or if it does break down, the joy of additional toxins being released into the environment will be something for future generations to deal with…. (http://science.howstuffworks.com/science-vs-myth/everyday-myths/how-long-does-it-take-for-plastics-to-biodegrade.htm )

Makes me want to go on a hunger strike just thinking about it all.