Monday, September 24, 2012

Does being eco-friendly mean giving up sentimentality?

Think about that title for a moment.

What is more important to most? Luxury or the distant, vague future?

Being eco-friendly often means something smaller, less flashy. Doing more to do less. It means giving up the gas-guzzler BMW in turn for the often mocked Prius. It means reading books electronically instead of getting a hard copy. It means sending emails instead of writing letters. It means instead of printing, reading from the computer and turning in assignments through email.

People like to have hard copies. As teenagers, many of us feel more comfortable turning in college applications as a hard copy as opposed to online. We are more comfortable buying hard copies of study guides from Barnes&Noble rather than using an uploaded PDF. We like to have material things.

But what happens when having material things means we are just becoming a giant, wasteful society? If you can print on the back and the ink bleeds through the paper, many people are likely to just throw the paper away instead of dealing with it. We have become used to having high standards and always having those high standards be met.

What happens when having high standards is not living sustainably? Because, the truth is, it isn't. Trees are a finite source, as is paper. Many schools now have a teacher limit for how many boxes of paper they can use throughout the year. As supply decreases, price increases but we are still demanding the same amounts--yet, we don't (and we very soon won't at all) have enough resources to produce what we want.

So, ask yourself.

What's more important? Having a hard copy that you're going to throw away anyways? Or creating a future for you, for your children?

Monday, June 18, 2012

National Pollinator Week!

Exciting week, isn't it?

I know, I know, something like that actually exists?
Up until today, I hadn't heard of National Pollinator Week either. It was declared official by the U.S. Senate in 2007 and has been celebrated by pollinator experts and agroecologists ever since.

So what do we care about pollinators? Well, without pollinators, we wouldn't have chocolate! Or coffee, corn, strawberries, mangoes, berries, honey, tomatoes, pretty flowers, beans--all fruits and vegetables, actually. Thanks to critters like bees, butterflies, hummingbirds and some insects, we get most of our foods and keep ourselves full and happy. 

So, next time you're munching into, say, that apple or strawberry or banana or orange or a little summer mango, make sure to be thankful and mindful of those bees that helped that plant develop to produce that piece of fruit!

For more information about National Pollinator Week or pollinators in general, or to look at cool fliers and posters, visit

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Staying "Green" in the Summer!

Now that it's summer in South Florida, there's even more that you can do to stay "green", or environmentally friendly.

For example, you can keep the lights off in your house and just crack open the blinds of your windows so that the rooms in your home can be filled with natural light. This not only saves energy, but can also make a person feel healthier as sunlight contains helpful vitamins.
   - Even during the rest of the year, if you don't need the lights on, shut them!!

Also, you should really recycle. This is the biggest cliche of environmental friendliness, but recycling your products really does reduce waste and releases less pollutants. Especially now that you might be enjoying a cold drink out of a bottle or can in the hot summer sun, toss it in the recycling bin instead of just throwing it away.

Another thing you could do is read electronically. Lots of people might enjoy sitting outside reading a nice novel in the summertime. This sounds like a completely nonsensical way to conserve resources, but reading with an e-reader (Nook, Kindle, iPad, etc.) doesn't waste paper like buying a book does. Those online libraries contain (more and more as we move into the future) virtually every book that a building might.
   - If you don't own an e-reader, getting books from the library is also a valuable way to reduce because once you're done reading, you can give it back to the librarians and someone else can read the same book without producing more.

These are just a few of the things that YOU can do to SAVE THE WOOOORLD!
Thanks for being a good and decent human being and striving to save the planet from ultimate destruction.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

How to Survive APs and still be green

The month of May is known for being AP month, and a month of hell. AP exams are tough, require lots of studying, lots of your own personal time.

They also require lots of paper. Paper for practice questions, notes, study guides, etc. It is important to keep in mind to Renew, Reuse, Recycle.

  • Print on the backs (double-sided).
  • For practice, you don't absolutely need brand new paper--just scratch paper. Use scrap paper around the house, or old printed sheets that were printed out wrong. What I do is when my I don't print something correctly, instead of throwing it away, I keep it in a stack by my printer for opportunities like this. Copy paper is expensive too, so you save money.
  • Don't print out things like scoring guidelines--you can take the practice test, then look online to check your answers. Try to stay as digital as possible.
  • Study guides like the Princeton Review, Barron's book and Kaplan are needed by AP students everywhere. Don't throw these away! You can sell them to an underclassmen or someone taking the class next year. You save a book and you  make money!
  • Be creative and don't use what you don't need. 

2 Years Later, What You Won't See

Two years later after the horrific BP Deepwater Horizon Spill, and the results are terrifying. New pictures have emerged showing the true result of this spill; it was smoothed over in those first couple of months, buried, never to be talked about again.
The Deepwater Horizon disaster unleashed 4.9 millions barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. BP did all they could to cover up the true scale of the disaster, covering ends and keeping the public away. Photos released Monday showed how horrific the Gulf became for sea life.
The images were released in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request that Greenpeace filed in August 2010, asking for anything related to endangered and threatened Gulf species. Over 100 photos were released from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), showing many animals buried under oil, and many severely endangered Kemp's Ridley sea turtles covered in oil and dead.
Follow the link below to see these pictures:

Monday, April 23, 2012

We know and we care less?

Environmentalists, unite!.
...Except, a recent study showed that Americans have become less likely to say that they care about the current and future state of the environment. Leading on that, as consumers, we're also less likely to buy organic, all-natural or eco-friendly products. The excuse usually is, "But it's too expensive!"
Well, is the difference of a couple of bucks worth the future of your home?
A Harris Poll was conducted that showed these results. Similar "green attitude" polls have been conducted every year since 2009 and it seems, that in those few short years, we have lost our eco-consciousness.
The results showed that 27% of Americans described themselves as "environmentally-conscious" in 2012, and only 31% say they "care a great deal about the current state, and future, of the environment." The numbers in 2009, showed 30% of Americans as "environmentally-conscious" and 36% as caring about the future. In 2009, 43% of Americans said they cared about the plane they're leaving behind for future generations--the number has dropped to a scary 34%.
Americans now also say they're less likely to reuse things, make an effort to use less water, buy food in bulk and to purchase all-natural or organic products.
While it is true that money is always the biggest deciding factor in these choices, it is also true that it is worrying to think that we live in a society that is not afraid to waste away a planet and leave behind acid rain, increasing temperatures, severe pollution that will cause an innumerable amount of diseases--the list goes on; for their children.

So, really, what has changed from 2009 to 2012? Compared to the 2009 market, today's market contains many more eco-friendly products and tips. It has never been easier to take the small steps to be environmentally-conscious: Turn off the water when you're brushing your teeth. Turn off the lights when you leave a room. Unplug electronics and wires when you're not using them. Use reusable bags. Buy a permanent water bottle. Buy all-natural, organic foods. These are not big life changes--they are, and always have been, small changes to your everyday lifestyle.

So why don't we care anymore? As teenagers, this is the planet we will inherit, good or bad. We can't always think of an escape or an alternative Earth--we are here for a reason, and we haven't found life elsewhere--that indicates something. Should we not try to take the steps to protect ourselves, to protect this planet--because it means our survival?

If we don't care, who will?

Monday, April 9, 2012

A Coal-Free Chicago?

Chicago has been seeing a lot of activity with the closing down of several coal plants. Late in February, Midwest Generation agreed to shut down two aging coal-fired power plants. The city's mayor, Rahm Emanuel, pressured the company to shut down after they were linked to sever lung problems among citizens.
Similarly, GenOn Energy says it will close eight coal plants in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey rather than installing pollution controls.

This movement could have a strong connection to the increase in the U.S.'s oil and natural gas industry. Recently, an article in the NY Times foretold the U.S. is moving toward energy independence from foreign sources. Over the past couple of years, the U.S. has gone from importing 60% of its oil in 2005 to 45% in 2011.
The energy independence movement has been seen by the increase in oil rigging and drilling--situations such as the BP oil spill and several oil rigs have been evidence of this.
Of course, the down side to this is the effect on the environment. The process used for extracting oil and natural gas, called hydraulic fracturing or fracking, causes a lot of damage to the surrounding landscape and has been shown to cause alarmingly detriment to to rare and endangered species in the area.
Eco-tip: water bottle caps aren't recycled--often, they are thrown away into landfills or disposed of improperly. Start recycling your water bottle caps and check out Caps Can Do, a company that recycles these caps into new equipment.