Monday, October 1, 2012

Day 1 Introduction: Why Should We Be Greener?

Welcome to the very first official day of the 31 Days to Greener, Sustainable Living!! I'm so glad that you are here and want to find new creative ways to live a greener sustainable life!



Today is a little introduction, to give you some food for thought. I'm hoping that by the end of the series, you will have a new and improved mentality when it comes to consumption and waste. Being greener can be fun, frugal and easy!

I'm guessing that most of you, if not all of you, reading this are already conscious of recycling and reusing, so I might not have to explain to you why it is important to be greener, but I will anyway.

Why should you be greener?

Well, first, because it's logical, no? Everything is made of some material that is found on this planet, and there's only so much we can take from our planet before it stops giving out to us. And the end is becoming nearer and nearer with each passing year because we are taking SO much from it.

But I'm a scientist. I like facts (and references; and parenthesis but that's an other story...). So let's look at some facts, shall we?


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We are consuming so fast, and taking so many resources from our planet that it would now take 1.6 years for the planet to regenerate what we use in 1 year. (ref) That's how much we are using up our resources.

As for the actual waste, the average American produced 4.43 lbs of waste every day in 2010(ref). That's 1617 lbs every YEAR. For ONE human being. Now multiply that by the U.S. population, and we have 250 million lbs of trash. A year. And that's just household waste. If we add construction and demolition waste to the mix, we double our solid waste!


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The only thing that makes me feel a {little} better is that 34% of that was recycled.

But the rest of the 66% of that waste needs to go somewhere, it doesn't just magically disappear, unfortunately. So we have landfills. Then those landfills get full and we export our trash elsewhere. Here's where it gets a little personal for me.


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We had an issue a few years ago near where my parents live. There's a landfill about 10 minutes between our little town and the actual city of Ottawa. We pass by it almost every single day when we go to town.

The real issue came when they were trying to get to dump Toronto's trash in our landfill. Toronto was running out of room to dump their trash, so they wanted to drive truckloads of trash 5 hours away to get "rid of the problem". Anyone else see the real problem here? Yeah, it might not be their problem anymore, it would be ours. Thankfully the motion didn't pass, but that landfill did get the permission to expand in 2006.

Sure, they tried to cover up the fact that there's a landfill there by making some hills (pictured below), but there's no fooling what your nose smells... (it smells like rotting eggs and onions) and we are reminded that there is a landfill there. To be honest, it doesn't always smell horrible, but when it does, it smells really horrible.


These images were obtained from Google Street View

And it's not like it's completely in the middle of nowhere, there are people living right in front! So maybe that is where it all started for me, why I became more sustainably conscious.

It's still common for trash to be brought to mega-landfills, though, while smaller local dumps are being closed down. Not to get too much into that, but trash is transported miles away, creating more pollution along the way, because it was cheaper than expanding the current landfills to regulation. I found this article on the subject to be interesting.


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The U.S. is the biggest consumer and trasher (Canada is in 5th place). They make up about 5% of the world's population, use 30% of the resources, and produce 30% of the waste. (ref)

What gives us the right to waste our planet? People have lived on this planet for thousands of years before, but we are the ones who have caused the most damage in so little time. This needs to change.


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There are so many more facts, you could write an encyclopedia. If you want to see more facts you can check out:
This site to see how long it takes for certain materials to decompose. It really puts things into perspective.
From Green-Net World
10 Disturbing Facts on How Much we Waste
Waste, Recycling, Composting Facts, so many facts here!!
Lots of recycling facts! About every type of material.


The purpose of living greener is to make our planet last longer, and make the most of what we have. For our children, grand-children, great-grand-children, and so on. Because the thing is, it's not waste until it's wasted.


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Tired of seeing trash pictures? Yeah, me too. I think you get the picture, right? Just don't let them be out of sight, out of mind. Let's work on making them out of sight for real.

Who and When

It starts right now and it starts with you. Too many people say it's not their problem, and THAT is the problem! Be the change, be the example.

We can do so much better than this!!

How can we practice greener living?

Well, that's what this series is all about!! I'll cover the 3 Rs of greener living: reduce, reuse, recycle. We'll go over everything one day at a time, nice and slow. You can always take more time to read through if you feel overwhelmed. And you don't have to do everything listed, but do what you can, and once you feel like you've mastered that, move on to a new challenge.

And for those that are already into recycling and reusing, I hope to give you challenges and ideas for how you can do even more for the environment!

I don't know where people get the misconception that going green is gonna be costly, but it's really not! Because you are mostly reusing what you already have, making everything go further. In some instances you might have to invest a little to get reusable items, but they will last you a long time, which is the whole point, so you don't have to buy new every year.


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So here's the first challenge for you all: In the next month, take the time to really stop and think about what you are throwing away, and what you are buying. Ask yourself if the item can be used for an other purpose or if it can be recycled when you go to throw it out. When you go out shopping, be conscious of the packaging and whether or not you really need that item. We'll cover that topic more specifically tomorrow.

For right now, I just want you to simply be conscious of it, and we'll discuss how we can improve. Sounds good?

I'll leave you today with this video I found that was very good, in my opinion. Now, I don't want to start a war with it! I know there is controversy surrounding this video, I've read the youtube comments; some will disagree. I think the overall message is good, and I don't take everything said in this video literally. The explanation for the computers is a little exaggerated, but the point is there.


Are you excited to get your green on with me? Where do you stand right now on the green front? Have some problem areas that you especially want me to cover? Let me know in the comments! I'm here to help YOU, and myself along the way, too.







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I party at these parties.

3 comments:

  1. I'm inspired. Great post. Every educational and definitely gets you thinking.

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  2. I am not an ubber greener but I am definitely an up-cycler... I am looking at the pictures of garbage and spotting things that I would have totally up-cycled! Like that tubey thing in that last photo with all the birds. I would have turned that puppy into a candelabra.

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