No really, recycling isn’t good enough – it’s time to recognize the impact of over consumption

Yes that’s right, I said it.  If you recycle your plastic you are doing a good thing, but really it’s not enough to make a difference.  According the the EPA, currently  only 8% of plastic is being recycled.  If your plastic doesn’t have a stamp and a number on it, most waste disposal companies don’t want your plastic.  If it’s got moldy food on it, you probably just tossed that plastic into the garbage can, where it will never change form from the oil it was polymerized out of.  Going out to eat?  Did you notice how many items like straws, ramequins, and lids are made of plastic and get thrown into the waste stream on a regular basis?

No, most people who find this post will be forced to admit it –  American’s as a whole do not appear to be attentive to the levels of consumption they participate in.  It’s a hard truth to face because we Americans have been raised by the corporations around us to consume as much as possible with minimal efforts going toward reducing those numbers. This has been a business model for all of time.  Fortunately American’s only need to go back about 100 years to the creation of the National Forest Service to see examples of why a conservation method of consumption and production is necessary.  Without the efforts of the likes of Theodore Roosevelt and John Muir; hundred of ranchers, woodsmen, hunters and loggers would have mass consumed the natural resources of our land.  Instead these resources are still being used generations later – all because a conservation methodology was pressed upon them.

Recently a friend of mine posted a comment that essentially indicated that because she participated in recycling processes, mass consumption of plastic bags was acceptable.  I’m here to argue this as a falsehood.  Besides the fact that most plastics are not recycled; the act of consumption equates to the justification for manufactures to continue taking virgin oil and producing virgin plastic as a sustained and profitable practice.  Unfortunately, this practice is not considered sustainable as oil is available on a limited basis, once we run out, there is no more.  We have but one planet to live on.  Ironically, it’s also the one source for all concepts of life as we know it.  With one planet providing us with a limited stream of resources, the concept of limited consumption should be a no brainer.

Unfortunately for our grandchildren, these concepts were not passed effectively from generation to generation.  Remembering lessons from our past allows us to prepare for our future.  Only we don’t have a past where we polluted our oceans and skies while piling ‘single use’ materials all around ourselves.  In fact, the lessons from the greatest generation – about working hard, achieving, thinking outside of the box, tending to the space you are given, giving more than you were given ( just to name a few); well these lessons are falling by the wayside of I want it now and I shouldn’t have to work at it.  But, the most important of these lessons should really be about supply and demand.

If I don’t use or make purchase of plastic, I’m not generating any demand for the product.  However, when you slow your consumption of plastics, a movement is afoot.  If you and I use less oil, participate in ride sharing, public transportation and planning trips to the store; if we can begin to work with others in our community to change the way we think as a group, then we become more than a movement.  Changing your consumption habits is not going to be an easy thing, but when the day comes when birds on remote islands stop dying from plastic ingestion, the day when all plastic is recycled or depolymerized back into natural or refined chemicals then maybe we will be glad that we took time to appreciate the efforts.  If we don’t make these changes, we can’t teach our children by example.  They follow in our footsteps, replicating the behaviors they see at home.  So instead of participating in destructive behaviors toward our planet, consider the positive impact your hard work will benefit those to come in both indirect and direct ways.  Can you think of three ways which changing your consumption will benefit the planet?

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Some days it’s really hard to pick your battles

Have you seen X-Men the movie?  There’s a scene in it where Dr. Charles Xavier in in a machine called Cerebro and he is able to ‘hear’ the thoughts of mutants everywhere.  Sometimes I truly believe that our world is becoming like that.  Turn on your tv, drive down the street, open your phone – tablet or computer – we are getting messages everywhere and the sad sad truth is that these messages are controlled and directed at you.

Do a search on your computer for a topic, activity or event.  Now wait and watch.  In the next 20 min (often less) advertizing related to your searches will start appearing on Facebook, Google and every web page you visit.  When it comes to the digital world, marketing is tailored to you.   Unfortunately, this isn’t the case when it comes to news of the world.   There is so much tragedy out there today, most of us find it easy to tune out the nastyness Yesterday I watched a movie called, “Not Today” on child slavery in India.  It is a really good movie that I believe everybody should see. However it’s one of a thousand topics regarding the horrific nature of greed and destruction here on earth.

Today, in America – something unique has happened this week.  In the past seven days we have experienced not one, two or three but FOUR known oil and or chemical spills, some of them are small, but they are real.  While this is happening, our news media has been keeping busy keeping our eyes averted so you wouldn’t focus on them.  Why don’t they want you to focus on this?  Well my opinion is that if we knew how much oil is spilling, we might not support XL pipelines crossing our country – exposing potential disasters to our water resources, our pristine protected lands or our  communities.

Now hold on, I’m not exaggerating.  This is not some far off conspiracy theory.   These stories are real, and once you see all of them in combination, I hope you will do something more than read and share this post.  I also ask you to share it, not just with each other, but post it on the Facebook and Twitter feeds of  your elected officials, tell them your concerns.  Email them your questions and have a direct dialogue with them.   First the stories of these four oil spills.

One – Train March 27, a train derailed and spilled 30,000 gallons of tar sands oil in Minnesota via Bloomberg  (@BloombergNews) http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-03-27/canadian-pacific-railway-derailment-spills-crude-in-minnesota.html

Two – A small rest area oil spill leaves firefighters with the cleanup and the culprit unknown.  Also unknown – how much was leaking as it continued down the road    http://www.austindailyherald.com/2013/03/30/firefighters-clean-up-after-semi-spills-oil-at-hayward-rest-area/ Via Austin Daily Herald

Three – over 300 gallons hydraulic oil spills in Michigan.  http://record-eagle.com/statenews/x1413935908/Oil-spill-leaves-sheen-on-the-Grand-River-in-Lansing  via Traverse City Record Eagle

Four – Mayflower Alabama, now a No Fly Zone as deemed by the FAA – is an inland tar sands disaster when an underground pipe sprung a leak.  Most resident’s didn’t even know the pipe was flowing under their homes!  American news media silent over for 3 days, minimal coverage since.  Story by Russia Today (@RT_com) http://on.rt.com/gt0j6d

Wow.  That’s a lot of mess.  And this is just one area where we, are watching things get worse.  Truth is if all we do is focus on these problems, how could we find any happyness in our world.  As I consider getting some coffee before writing my representatives, I know I’ll be getting it out of a plastic container that was shipped to my grocer using fossil fuels to get it from another part of the world to my neighborhood.  It’s a never ending battle, and some days well, it’s really hard to pick your battles.  I’m hoping that today, this is one you’ll spend 20 minutes fighting with me.    So go grab a coffee, or soda and then please use the following links to contact the president and your state representatives to voice your concerns.

http://www.usa.gov/Contact/Elected.shtml

As a concerned American, human and resident of planet earth, I thank you in advance.

UPDATE:

A 5th incident is being reported!  Texas pipeline owned by Shell ruptures!!!