Planet Earth Weekly

Climate Change and Renewable Energy: Saving Our Planet for Future Generations


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Climate Change and Overconsumption

Sustainable living

“Overconsumption exists when resources are consumed at an unsustainable level as measured by the ecosystem’s capacity.” Pielc.org

By Linn Smith

“Medical researchers and climate scientists note that viral outbreaks may become more common with the progression of the climate crisis, which is affecting the movement of humans, animals and pathoogens.”
Earth Institute/Columbia University.

Sitting here quarantined in Colorado I have consistent reminders to stay home. This isn’t too hard for me… yet…as a green belt along the creek is just a few steps away, enabling me to walk the dog or ride bike for miles. I am also fortunate to have good neighbors that are taking advantage of the same thing….but we do stay 6 ft apart!

Working toward 100% renewables

Making Changes to Save Our Planet

I have wondered if this is the kind of drastic measures we need, not only to stop the spreading virus, but also to make the changes necessary to save our planet. For years I and many others have been preaching ways to consume less. We are now making the changes out of fear and responsibility to save our population. We find ourselves using less because we don’t want to make those dreaded runs to the grocery store or order from Amazon, where warehouse workers have now been diagnosed with Covid-19.

I can’t help thinking that this is the type of fear we need to sustain humanity on our planet in the future…..for those are the beings that are going to be hit hardest by climate change and possible lack of food. Dr. John J. Hidore and I have provided the public with many articles stating scientific facts to support the future outlook of our planet, so I won’t bore you with statistics here.

Landfill

The Arizona landfill

This past winter I have spent many days hiking up the side of a mountain in Arizona, looking over my shoulder at the valley below. Deep in the valley appears to be a sizable mountain, but in actuality it is a landfill made into what appears to be a mountain, radiating toxicity. When I see this site I often think, “We can do better!”

The Effect of Impulse Buying on our Environment

We are an impulse-buying nation with very little thought into the future of how the products and packaging we purchase will eventually be that great mountain of garbage which dresses the landscape in every city, county, state and country. We fail to ask ourselves,”How will what I buy effect our environment in the future?”

I grew up on a farm in the Midwest. We grew and canned our own food, had dairy cows and chickens and were pretty self sufficient. The nearest neighbors were at least half a mile away. I learned to be resourceful and inventive out of necessity. It seems we have lost the ability to use our imaginations, accepting the fact that hopping in our gas guzzling vehicles and traveling to the store is the answer to all of our problems, i.e. our needs and wants. We fail to ask ourselves, “If I want this, what resources do I already have that I might use to make something that is close to what I want?” (This was pretty easy as a kid with a big imagination!) We can ask ourselves, “Can I borrow something that I need? Can I repair something? Can I convert something no longer useful to something I want?” Yes, many of us have lost the ability to create, convert or adapt!

Recycle

Create, Convert, Adapt

If it’s food, can I make what I need instead of buying it prepackaged at the grocery store? For example, I have lived, at least part-time, in the southwest U.S. for many years, beginning my teaching career in New Mexico. There I learned that you can eat just about anything in a tortilla and this habit has stuck with me throughout the years. I recently ran out of tortillas….but I have flour and I know they are very easy to make! (Just for fun here is a song about tortillas that depicts my sentiment exactly. It is sung by Petey Ronstadt, Linda Ronstadt’s nephew. I was fortunate to see him and talk to him a few times in Tucson. For a little entertainment, take a listen https://youtu.be/7-qQJzOq7u8)

So, swinging back from tortillas to climate change, is there something we can learn from these times of turmoil? Can we use less, drive less, stay at home more, borrow, make or ask ourselves, “Do I really need it? If I really do need it, could I buy quality goods that last longer, and have a plan to reduce, reuse or recycle?” The answer is yes. We can do it!

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

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Recycling: Creating Hope for a Greener Planet

Recycle

Recycle and Conserve

“European countries are recycling 35% to 40% [of their plastic waste]. The U.S. only recycles 10%.”

By Linn Smith

I am spending time in a suburb in the Southwestern part of the United States. After being a diligent recycler most of my adult life, I have come to realize that many households do not share my passion for doing their part to prevent further negative impact on our planet. Even though I’m conscientious about buying goods in bulk from local health food stores, I still accumulate some bottles, cans and plastics. It’s the world we live!

I have been in the Southwest for several weeks and have repeatedly asked people and businesses about a drop off place for glass and plastic. The answer is always the same….the surrounding suburbs no longer take drop off recyclables as rates have gone up and in some sections there has been complete halt on even curbside recycling for glass and plastic. Cans are less of a problem, as many are willing to turn them in for cash, but plastic and glass? My efforts have produced nothing.

Recycle

Recycling Shut Down!

Following is the message I found when trying to locate a place to drop off my recyclables:

**CLOSURE NOTICE**
All City of *****recyling Drop-off Centers Are Indefinitely Closed
Due to increasing recycling processing fees and decreasing commodity values, the City of **** has found it necessary to reevaluate its entire recycling program. While we value the importance and place high priority on conserving our natural resources, we must also take into account financial considerations to ensure we are able to maintain a sustainable program. The total operating cost for the City of ***** three recycling drop-off centers is approximately $250,000 per year. While we have been pleased to offer this service for many years and appreciate you visiting our centers, unfortunately the decision has been made to indefinitely close all three locations.”

Landfill

A newly formed mountain of waste.

The Landfill: A Mountain of Garbage!

I then sought out the local landfill. I couldn’t enter as the truck in the picture was on guard to keep out private citizens. But standing on the road running parallel to the landfill, I took in the site of a mountain newly produced by garbage from the city that won’t allow recycled dropoffs. As I stood in disgust of this newly formed mountain of garbage in our once beautiful desert Southwest, I wondered, “Where did we go wrong? Was it just a hundred years ago that people were growing their own food, canning, reusing their jars, sewing their own clothes, living what would now be called a sustainable life?”

Landfill

Guarding the landfill.

The site of all those recyclable materials sitting in a landfill in our beautiful desert for a hundred years and accumulating day by day, year by year is almost too much for me to comprehend. To me you either care about out planet, leaving future generations with at least the knowledge that you tried, or you don’t…..you further the “pig sty” concept of what use to be our beautiful earth. The choice is ours to not be lazy!

Where will our Recyclables Go?

The excuse for many cities is this….China quit taking our dirty waste which we had been shipping over to them since 1992 and that alone broke the recycling system in the U.S. Keefe Harrison, CEO of the Recycling Partnership, a nonprofit that seeks to boost the industry, stated “European countries are recycling 35% to 40% [of their plastic waste]. The U.S. only recycles 10%. How tragic is that? We’re fighting an uphill battle to make it cost competitive from day one. The U.S. has previously outsourced so much of its recycling to Asia that the domestic industry languished. And there’s the fact that plastic manufacturers keep making more and more of it, and consumer brands like Procter & Gamble, Nestlé and Walmart keep wrapping more consumer goods in it.”

According to an article in the Sierra magazine, China’s refusing to take our recyclables has given us the opportunity to develop a plan of our own if we care enough to go down that avenue. “The whole crisis narrative has been wrong,” says Steve Alexander, president of the Association of Plastic Recyclers. “China didn’t break recycling. It has given us the opportunity to begin investing in the infrastructure we need in order to do it better.”

Alliance to End Plastic Waste

There are many different types of plastic. Some can be recycled, some cannot. In the past companies have used the plastic most profitable without considering what happens to their product packaging.

Several petrochemical companies have joined big consumer brands in pledging to make most of their plastic recyclable, reusable or compostable within the next decade or two. Their group, Alliance to End Plastic Waste, has promised to spend $1.5 billion over five years to recycle their packaging products.

Every Bottle Back

Coke, Pepsi and Dr Pepper recently announced a plan, Every Bottle Back, to reduce their dependence on new plastic by collecting, recycling and remaking plastic bottles from plastic they have already produced. “Closed Loop Partners, the leading investment firm in sustainability, will manage upgrades to recycling infrastructure and fund upgrades to equipment at bottle recovery systems. The fund will also be used to help businesses that turn recycled bottles into plastic pellets for reuse in many products.”

The Ocean Clean Up

The Ocean Cleanup.

The Ocean Cleanup

Then there are the heroes of our planet.The Ocean Clean Up nonprofit organization, started by 25 year old Boyan Slat, is not only working on the clean up of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, but has recently unveiled technology to clean up rivers that are streaming garbage to the ocean.
“The Interceptor is The Ocean Cleanup’s answer for river plastic waste. It is the first scalable solution to prevent plastic from entering the world’s oceans from rivers. It is 100% solar-powered, extracts plastic autonomously, and is capable of operating in the majority of the world’s most polluting rivers.”

The Interceptor

The Ocean Clean Up, Boyan Slat

But we cannot depend on a young man in his 20’s to clean up our planet, even though he has diligently done more than his part. We must all do our part also!

Sources:

*Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Dr Pepper team up for recycled plastics drive
Toby Hill,October 31, 2019
*NPR U.S. Recycling Industry Is Struggling To Figure Out A Future Without China August 20, 2019

Recycle

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