We live in a free country. It has taken centuries for us, as American people, to gain the freedoms we enjoy today; the freedom to express ourselves the way we wish, to practice the religion of our choice, to carry a gun, to vote, to work, to receive free education, to marry whom we wish, to receive equal justice- just to name a few. I sometimes forget just how lucky I am to be living in such a great country. However, this country is not without its flaws.
We have the right to choose, the freedom to use our own set of morals and values to make decisions, big and small. This is extremely powerful or, not powerful at all, should you choose be complacent in a fast forward world. What could little me and my choices do?
So let's cut to the chase, shall we? I am talking, of course, about the state of our environment today. On any given day, you can walk, bike or drive down the street and come across; discarded or unwanted furniture, rain soaked with soggy "FREE" signs on them. Empty drink bottles of various types, nips, paper cups, straws and even soiled baby diapers line the streets and walkways, even when there are trash receptacles nearby. Why? I know for a fact that there is no one observing these sights who look upon them with admiration, gazing at them with longing for their own piece of land to look the same. I don't know about you but it disgusts me, particularly because it isn't an act of laziness, it is the direct and certain misuse of the powerful freedom of choice that we were given, a conscious decision being made to add to the our nation's pollution "situation".
What does that say about our morals and values? What does all of this pollution have to say about us a species? Things we purchase for consumption are wrapped and packaged in an obscene amount of material, just so it can be thrown away the moment it is opened. What happens when it is thrown away? It just disappears right? It just goes away to that magical place called the landfill. We don't look at it or smell it day in and day out, so why should we think about the hundreds of thousands of acres of perfectly good land is being impregnated with toxins and debris that Mother Earth will carry in her womb for years to come. How many years? Take a peak at the infographic below, taken from the website Futurism.com
According to the online article "How Landfills Work", written by Craig Freudenrich PhD, 4.6lbs of trash are generated per day per person, which translates to 251 million tons per year. Shocked? You should be! Don't even get me started on just howWhat is even more shocking despite efforts of separating trash into paper/plastic/compostable bins, some is burned, some is recycled but most is BURIED IN THE LANDFILL. In fact only 32.5 percent of that trash is actually recycled.
What about all of this ocean pollution we are hearing about? Well believe it or not, most of the debris pollution in the ocean comes from sewer or storm drains and shoreline recreational activities, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. This debris can break down over time into smaller bits called "microplastics" which look mighty tasty to the smaller creatures living in the sea.
Another type of ocean pollution is caused by run off or "nonpoint source pollution" which comes from fertilizer in our yards, septic tanks, boats, road vehicles and farms. There is also the matter of "point source pollution" such as an oil or chemical spill. This is not only directly harmful to the fellows swimming in the sea but also indirectly harmful due to the fact that it destroys the delicate balance of the water and the aquatic flora which, of course, is the grocery store of the sea for many.
Head spinning yet? What the heck can one human being do? You can use the freedom afforded you by the constitution to make a choice. Choose to be WILLING to be aware of your individual footprint. Come back to read next weeks blog to get a whole slew of ideas on what you, just one person, can do to help reduce the tons of trash produced each year.
Wait! This is not, I repeat, NOT a lecture. No one is perfect. Even the most earth friendly and environmentally conscious person produces trash. This is not about one person doing more than another, or one person shaming another for what they have in their house. This is about the POWER OF ONE person's actions. This is about practice and progress, NOT perfection. Be reawakened to the beauty of nature and how delicate our Mother Earth is. Be smart, be aware and most of all, be willing to use the POWER OF ONE...the power of you... to make a difference.
Come back and visit us for next week's blog on some good ideas on what you (and I) can do, just one choice at a time.