Ocean Pollution

Since birth I have always been surrounded by salt water. Having lived in Alaska my whole life, the ocean consumed much of our daily activities. My dad fished for the first 5 years of my life so summers consisted of living on the boat. A required class in middle school was cold water survival, what to do if you were ever stranded in the water or on the beach. In this class we learned that how you reacted in the first two minutes of being in cold water were the most important for survival.

With the ocean being such an important part of my life I have come to a certain respect for the ocean and the creatures that swim beneath. Having a respect for the ocean leads me to be disturbed when careless individuals or organizations dispose of waste into these waters. Being from an island I feel that I have been more cautious of my disposal because unlike towns who send their garbage to a giant trash mound in the middle of the state it is almost impossible to do that on our island which consists of 46 square miles.

This Christmas break my family and I travelled to Hawaii, which was the best vacation ever. Here there were a lot of parallels to my home, other than the huge climate gap, when it came to being environmentally cautious. I was greatly surprised when I found out that the state had banned the use of plastic bags in all stores. It is these kinds of actions that help me believe that people are aware that a change needs to take place. It was on the Big Island that I watched an activity which made me retract on my praise towards this states stride towards being green.

One morning we ventured down to south point, which is the southernmost tip of the USA. We were in awe with the great panoramic views where you could see no other land, only ocean. As I looked out off the cliffs I noticed a plastic garbage bag that floated a couple hundred feet from the cliff face. That puzzled me and as I noticed one I would then notice another, and another. It took us a while to figure out that these bags were attached to fishing lines of the local people fishing.  Shoreline fishermen use garbage bags to haul their lines to deep water off of South Point. The strong winds push the bag with the fishing lines attached out far and they are able to catch open water fish. While they have a good reason for doing this they are still adding to ocean pollution because many bags get away and drift off to sea.

Where do these garbage bags go? One very likely place is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch also known as the Pacific Trash Vortex. This garbage vortex is located in the waters halfway between Hawaii and the coast of California. The size is estimated to be the size of Texas and consists of mostly plastic products.

 

Once back in Spokane my dad sent me an article that related amazingly to what we saw in Hawaii. In the beginning of January, 10 miles north of Ketchikan Alaska a man found a 171 lbs., 3 foot long green sea turtle. This turtle that apparently had got into the wrong current was washed on shore and when they conducted a necropsy found the cause of death to be bronchial obstruction and lung collapse due to cold. What the interesting part is that they also found two types of plastic bags and a wad of monofilament fishing line in the stomach. Somewhere along this turtles journey it had swallowed these plastic bags possibly mistaking them for food. This is a reoccurring problem with our sea creatures one that will only stop if people understand how important it is to keep our oceans clean.

 

Tips for keeping our oceans clean:

-          Recycled old fishing line: Monofilament fishing line takes up to 600 years to break down in the marine environment and can entangle and kill wildlife. Look for recycling facilities in your marina.

-          Join beach cleanups: One helpful activity would be to join a beach cleanup or pick up trash whenever you can and dispose of it properly.

Water: A Necessity for Life

Water, you view it as a resource that has always been there, so how can we imagine for one day it to be nonexistent. Water is one of the basics of life that we often might not think about that much. Most people that read this article probably have no problem getting clean drinkable water. This article serves the purpose of getting us to think about those who struggle daily to gain access to drinkable water and raise awareness to our frivolous water wasting.

We use water for many related and random activities. We use it to wash ourselves, our cars, our clothes, dishes, and various things around. You can travel on it or you can jump in it on a hot day to cool off. Almost all products that you use every day contain it or were manufactured using it. One thing to consider is what happens if our water resource runs out. While the planet is 70 percent water the freshwater makes up just three percent of this water supply and less than one percent is freely available.

On a macro level the water cycle ensures that roughly the same amount of water is always on this planet. However on micro levels, for individual communities, this does not always remain true. It is hard for people who never have had a problem getting a glass of water to imagine places where communities struggle to get a sufficient amount of clean water. Millions of people die each year from preventable diseases, after drinking water from an unsanitary source.

Rivers are becoming “dryer” due to the installation of dams and the use of water for agriculture. But in many cases the decrease of flow is because of climate change, which is altering rainfall patterns and increasing evaporation because of higher temperatures. Another factor to this water crisis is the global population boom. As populations grow, so do their demands for water. These people must be fed and agriculture must have water to grow crops and livestock.

Now that you are aware of the water crisis that is happening I have listed some advice on how to cut back on your water use.

1.       Use a bowl of water to shave. You could also install a shower head that can be turned off while you are shaving and then turned back on when you are finished.

2.       Purchase large trash containers and place them under the downspouts of your gutter. The water that you catch in these buckets can be used to water outdoor plants instead of using the hose.

3.       Adjust sprinklers, so that you water your lawns, not your house, the sidewalk, or the street.

4.       Wash your pets outside, in an area of your lawn that needs watering.

5.       Turn the water off, while brushing your teeth and you can save 25 gallons per month.

6.       Use a commercial car wash that recycles its water.

New Year’s Resolution: It’s not too late!

Now that the New Year is upon us many people have already created a list of things they wish to change in the year 2011. If you are like me, this year I completely forgot to write a list of things I wish to change.  Yes, I have thought about things but until it is on paper it is very non-binding and easy to flake on. If this is your case, do not fear! It is not too late to write your new year’s resolution. We still have 352 days to act upon these resolutions!

Many of the resolutions that people make are hasty ones that they quickly throw out the window. The top 10 resolutions that people make are:

1. Get in shape

2. Quit smoking/drinking

3. Spend more time with family and friends

4. Get out of debt

5. Get organized

6. Do better at your job

7. Learn something new

8. Travel more

9. Help others

10. Improve yourself

 

There are many factors to why people break their New Year resolutions. The first one is that you have too many of them. Many people think of this time as a way to fix all the problems in your life. This is a bad idea because you will likely drop many of these resolutions and then see yourself as failing. Stick to one or two resolutions per year. This way they stay manageable. One way that you can help be sure to stick to your new year resolutions is to tell your friends and family.  Many people keep them to themselves and then when they break them no one can call you out on it. Make it known that you want support in achieving your goals for the year.

One simple and easy resolution that you can make is to be more earth friendly. This is an easy resolution that will not only benefit yourself but the others around you. This also can be the easiest resolution to stick to throughout the year.

An easy way to do this is to ban paper and plastic from your life. Put a reusable bag in your office, car, and right by your front door. This will remind you when you see one to grab it. One state that exemplifies this resolution is Hawaii. As of January 9th 2011, the state of Hawaii will ban the use of plastic bags in stores. This encourages residents to bring their own bags or carry all their items out by hand. Staying away from paper and plastic bags is a way to help the environment.

Another way you can be more earth friendly in the year of 2011 is to switch your monthly bills to e-billing. You can still print your bill at home but this eliminates the carbon postal footprint and the paper used for the envelope. Most companies now have the option for e-billing so where you can do so, switch!

Some other ways to reduce your carbon footprint include: start composting, install a gray water system, when buying new appliances pay a little more for Energy Star models, build a rain barrel for gardening, buy a bike!

So instead of creating a list of resolutions that seem unreachable and unrealistic stick to earth friendly resolutions that will improve the way you live on this planet. You will not only feel better about your actions but you will passively encourage others to do so. Even if you have already made your resolutions it is not too late to change your list or update and add one of these earth friendly resolutions!

“Deck the halls with LED lights. . .”

This is the time of year when everyone starts bringing boxes up from the basement or down from the attic, each filled with Christmas decorations. As you dig through the boxes filled with miscellaneous items the big concern is how many of your Christmas lights from last year still work. As you sort through the lights, plugging them in to test them, you start to make a pile of light strings that do not work anymore. What is the next step, throw them in the garbage?

Instead of throwing your old Christmas lights in the garbage instead send them in to be recycled for free! Holidayleds.com now takes old light strings, recycles them, and gives you 25% off your next order!

Once holidayleds.com receives your old lights they will be processed and stripped of any material that cannot be recycled (i.e. loose bulbs). Once they have collected enough material they send them to a 3rd party recycling facility located in Jackson, MI. This company puts the lights through a commercial shredder, which chops the lights into little pieces. These pieces are then further processed and sorted into the various components that make up the glass.

How do I recycle my lights?

1)      Send your old lights into the address below, and they will e-mail you a coupon for 25% off. If you want your coupon before you make your order this is the way to go. However, it may take 3-4 weeks to get your order.

OR

2)      Purchase your LED lights at HolidayLEDs.com. When you receive your order send back your old lights for recycling with a copy of your HolidayLEDs.com order and they will 25% of your total purchase amount.

If you are interested please check the following website out: http://www.holidayleds.com/holidayledscom_christmas_light_recycling_program

Mailing Address:

HolidayLEDs.com
Attn: Recycling Program
118 Rosehill Dr.
Suite 1
Jackson, MI 49202

Happy Holidays!

Recycled Notebooks

Here is your chance to support an earth-friendly cause and purchase  recycled notebooks. These notebooks are made  at Gonzaga University in CCASL (Center for Community Action and Service Learning).

Since Spokane does not curb side recycle cardboard like cereal boxes CCASL collects them and makes notebooks with one-sided used paper.

Half page sizes are $2.00 and full page sizes are $3.00. You can buy them individually or in bulk. We can also ship to you!

Great for classes, and also conferences.

If you are interested in purchasing some please contact Gina Meucci: gmeucci@zagmail.gonzaga.edu or for further questions.

Thanksgiving doesn’t mean Tofurkey

Whether you are headed home for a long thanksgiving break, or expecting a household full of people, Thanksgiving can be a stressful and cumbersome holiday. If your Thanksgiving is like mine, full of family and friends, it is a great time to get together and be thankful. Instead of your Thanksgiving being a burden full of chores and errands this year let it be fun and merry.  Like most holiday’s one way that you can avoid all the last minute errands and grocery trips, is to plan ahead.

One way to have an eco-friendly Thanksgiving is to shop wisely for your turkey.  This doesn’t mean you have to serve tofurkey at dinner, but there are ways to enjoy thanksgiving eating a turkey that is healthy for you and the environment.

The key to this is to go local. It is simple in that the fewer miles between farm and plate, the less energy must be expended on transportation. You may have not heard of a local turkey farm but there are plenty of small farms that are willing to match your thanksgiving turkey. Visit this site to find a turkey farm in your area: http://www.localharvest.org/organic-turkey.jsp

Another way to practice an eco-friendly Thanksgiving is stay close to home. The holidays are known for having packed airports so instead of traveling this year start a new tradition with family and friends who live close to you. If you have to travel try getting there by train. It is far better for the environment than air travel or your personnel vehicle.

 

Other Thanksgiving tips:

-          Buy food items that use the least amount of packaging and

-           look for items that contain recycled post-consumer content.

-          Make sure you review your food list multiple times before going to the store to reduce the number of times you      drive there.

-          Bring reusable bags to the store with you.

-          Instead of using plastic forks and paper plates, use your flatware for dinner which is better for the environment.

-          On thanksgiving turn down the heat, because all the cooking you do will heat the house, anticipate the oven warmth.

-          Suggest carpooling to your friends who are going to the same place and live close-by.

-          For leftovers use reusable containers.