Everything Wrong With Man

I keep meaning to post a long, reflective post, but I keep coming across these poignant videos lately. And it seems like video and photos get the message across sometimes a lot better than words. Like this one. It seems like ever since we arrived on this planet we’ve left a path of destruction. We don’t realize that every action, every decision we make every day has a consequence. If more people could live consciously, we can perhaps make the change needed in this world.

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Ban Plastic Water Bottles from Your Life

News came out of California that San Francisco is going to attempt to move forward to ban plastic water bottles. Leave it to California to be the first to implement such a daring yet crucial initiative. It takes 54 million barrels of oil to make one year’s consumption of plastic water bottles. Contrary to popular belief, plastic water bottles are NOT recycled – seventy-five percent of plastic water bottles end up on beaches, rivers, and landfills.

ImageIn addition to environmental impact of plastic water bottles, take note that plastic water bottles are detrimental to your health. The plastic used in these bottles is loaded with chemicals including BPA and PCBs.  The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry says: “Animals that ate food containing large amounts of PCBs over short periods of time had mild liver damage and some died. Animals that ate smaller amounts of PCBs in food over several weeks or months developed various kinds of health effects, including anemia; acne-like skin conditions; and liver, stomach, and thyroid gland injuries.” BPA can cause a variety of human health problems, including a risk of cancers, reduced fertility, birth defects and diabetes. How does that water taste now?

Many folks drink bottled water because they think that bottled water is superior to tap water or that it comes from some mystical source. Not true. Hate to break it to you, but bottled water is tap water with a fancy schmancy name. It is not any better than the water coming out of your tap. It’s an all-around rip off.

Once upon a time, not too long ago, we subsisted without bottled water. In fact, not too long ago, Cosmo Kramer on the popular TV show, Seinfeld, considered bottled water as one of his “get rich quick” schemes, and Jerry Seinfeld thought he was crazy – no one would pay for water! Not too long ago, I used to use bottled water. As with everything, when you first try to do without something as vital as bottled water, it seems impossible, but I assure you, it can be done.

First and foremost – you need to find a water bottle that you like. I tried a few different ones before I found Liberty Bottle from Liberty Bottleworks. This company has many pluses going for it. I prefer this bottle for many reasons, not just because of this company’s many altruistic endeavors. Many of the other bottles I tried were made of plastic (evil! evil!), were difficult to get open quickly, made water taste funny, were cheaply made, or were difficult to get clean. Liberty Bottle solved all these problems.  It is a very robust water bottle, made of metal with a lining (no funny tastes!), easy to open and close (it doesn’t screw), and easy to clean. When I had to use an old metal water bottle for a bit while I waited for my 2nd Liberty Bottle to come in, I yearned for my Liberty Bottle. I didn’t realize how genius the design the bottle was until I had to do without.

If Liberty Bottle’s design isn’t enough to entice you to make the move to ditch the plastic, then maybe simply supporting them will. Liberty Bottle is the ONLY metal bottle on the market made in the USA. It is also the ONLY bottle to be made from recycled materials. Concerned about what to do when you’re done with your Liberty Bottle? It is also 100% recyclable. But I assure you, I have put my Liberty Bottle through the test (horseback riding, rock climbing, spelunking, cliff diving – it still looks good as new). It hasn’t chipped, flaked, dented, or shown any sorts of age in the time that I’ve had it. The bottles also come in fun colors – but even better, they also come in a bunch of beautiful art designed by starving artists.

I never used to be a big water drinker. Once upon a time I used to be a big soda drinker! I used to drink several cans a day. What helped me make the transition to water is making water more exciting than soda. Having a snazzy water bottle that is fun to drink out of, that makes me feel good about supporting green and US jobs helped. Having water that tasted AMAZING helped even more. This was accomplished by getting a ZeroWater dispenser. Between this and my LibertyBottle, which friends have joked is surgically attached to my body, I now drink more than the suggested 8 glasses of water a day. And I feel great!

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Olympics – An Open Call to Boycott

On the news and social media lately you’ve heard countless things going wrong with this year’s Winter Olympics at Sochi. Most of these things have to do with human rights – which in itself is a great reason to boycott the Olympics. So is Russia’s attempt to slaughter free-roaming dogs. They’ve known the Olympics were coming for a while, why this last-minute massacre? However this is an environmental blog, hence I want to focus on the overwhelming ecological damage these Olympics are costing the environment, despite Russia’s promise that they’d be green.

  • Steamrolled Wetlands: Sochi used to be home to beautiful wetlands that were home to vulnerable birds and plants. It was a paradise for over 60 birds that used to overwinter here. Now, thanks to the Olympics, this sanctuary lies under 7ft of crushed gravel and has been paved over for the Olympic Park. Where are these birds going to go now? And what about all these plants? Wetlands provide a valuable service of long-term carbon sequestration. Now these are gone. Thanks, Olympics.
  • Razed Forests: Not just the wetlands have suffered from the construction from the Sochi Olympics, but the entire mountain region has – 5,000 acres of pristine forest have been annihilated. The new railroad built to the remote region has disrupted migration and hibernation patterns of all animals. They have built a good portion of the Olympic Park in the National Park – displacing hundreds of trees and animals. What’s going to happen after the Olympics are gone? No one was rushing to go to Sochi before the Olympics. It was a quiet little village on the Black Sea, not a bustling city like previous locations. Odds are this will become a ghost town – at the cost of the loss of biodiversity.
  • Toxic Dumps: The hasty building of this new Olympic City has another price – waste. Where is it going to go? In Russia there is surprisingly stringent dumping laws, but all of these are being ignored for the Olympics. Residents have been complaining about an illegal landfill that has polluted the air and contaminated their water – this was evident by a photo tweeted by a reporter in Sochi a couple days ago. The river that runs by Sochi used to be a picturesque, clean, white-water river. Now it runs brown, infected with chemicals, pollutants, and debris thanks to runoff by a wounded environment.
  •  Make it Snow: Let’s talk about the carbon footprint of trying to create snow in a coastal environment. You walk out of the airport in Sochi and you see palm trees, not snow or ski slopes. Temperature there is in the low 50s in the winter and in the 70s in the summer. Hmm…not quite the obvious place for WINTER Olympics, huh? There has long since been a concern that Sochi wouldn’t have enough snow for the winter sports. In fact they DON’T have enough snow. They have to CREATE snow for the winter sports. A good chunk of the budget for these Olympics have gone to create the snow. And if they don’t have enough snow to create with their snow 400 cannons, they’re falling back on snow they’ve been “stockpiling” in the valleys and canyons in the mountains.
  • Blackfish, Revisited: However one of the most offensive and frivolous acts of these winter Olympics is the capture of wild orcas for the sole purpose of entertainment. It has been well documented that orcas are capable of higher emotions and thinking. To rip these animals away from their tight-knit family groups is devastating. To put them in a tank that is equivalent to putting a human in a closet and ask them to perform tricks is equally demoralizing. These animals were caught for the sole purpose to bring in money and people to the games. They will live a lifetime of depression and abuse. All in the name of entertainment.

This all really is only scraping the surface of the environmental impact of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games at Sochi. Russian officials refuse to allow reporters or environmental activists near dumping sites or construction zones – nor have they released any information on full environmental impact. Undoubtedly they have something to hide.

Tomorrow night the opening ceremonies at the Olympic Games start. Dancers will be stomping and twirling flags over the bones and mud of a marshland that had to sacrifice itself for the cause. People will chug in by railroad, built specifically for the occasion. As they come in, they will not see a pristine white river. They will not see brown bears happily roaming the mountains. For dinner people will not eat local salmon – they’ve all but disappeared now from the construction and pollutants. This is the price of the Olympics.

Will you watch?  
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