By Marco Conci, Homaday Eagle Scout, Troop 36
I recently attended the Sustainable Contra Costa County Award dinner and received a copy of “The Better World Shopping Guide” by Ellis Jones. It’s an interesting guide that shows you which companies are most environmentally friendly. I learned that money is power for these companies, so it seems like they get away with more than they should. For example, there’s a major company that makes household chemicals, health care and beatify products. This multimillion dollar company is rated one of the lowest in sustainability. In fact, I read that not only do some of their products—like the threw-away wipes for counters, floors, bathrooms and hands go straight into landfill and they do unnecessary animal testing. And it seems that they spent $46 MM on lobbyists – for what, I wonder? There’s tons of information packed in this little book and on their website www.betterworldshopper.org
A lot of people don’t realize how quickly our planet is going extinct because of human action. I recently learned that some fast food places are known for demolishing rainforests. How you ask? Well, for example, basic items like making palm oil—which is in many foods and beauty products—is ruining rainforests. Search the World Wildlife Federation and you’ll learn that “uncontrolled clearing of land for conventional palm oil plantations has led to widespread loss of these irreplaceable forests”. So our choices in what we eat not only affects the forests, but is affecting wildlife and the survival of animals such as the tigers, elephants and orangutans. This may be a bigger issue than we can resolve from Danville, but we can play our part by making good choices in the products we buy. Get to know the food manufacturers you buy your food from. There are definitely a few major food companies that could do a lot better in their environmental practices.
The EPA estimates that 75% of the American waste stream is recyclable, but we only recycle about 30% of it. It’s pretty easy to recycle we just have to make it a habit like remembering to turn off the water when you brush your teeth. Did you know that, by recycling one aluminum can you can save enough energy to listen to a full album on your iPod? And by recycling 100 cans you can light your bedroom for 2 whole weeks!
If we all make small changes, we can make a big difference in how we take care of our earth. If you buy water bottles or cans make sure you recycle them or better yet carry your own reusable water bottle. And know the rules on recycling, such as what item goes in what bin. A used pizza box can’t go in recycling but it can go in your green bin. There’s some easy rules to learn and recycling is always better than landfill.
Think about recycling when you’re shopping too. It seems that a lot of big name brands from food to electronics have lots of cheap packaging materials that can’t be recycled. These materials, such as Styrofoam are bad for the environment and take forever to decompose. But at the same time there’s many companies that are making an effort to change their packaging and shipping practices.
When you’re buying electronics research the company to check if they’re environmentally responsible. Almost all companies share this information on their website. Chances are there’s little difference in price when you compare companies; and when you’re done with those electronics make sure you recycle them, including the batteries.
As Californians we all know that water is incredibly important. EBMUD’s recent decision to change our water source from a reservoir in Sierras to a Sacramento reservoir is definitely a sign of how bad the drought is. So keep making those showers short, put a bucket in the shower to catch the excess water, turn off the water when you’re brushing your teeth and keep watering of plants and landscape to a minimum.
Another easy way to make your carbon footprint smaller is to ride your bike or walk. We live in a great town with lots of trails so think about riding if your friend’s house or the ballfield is a mile away. That’s less than a 10 minute walk or ride. So it boils down to choices – which ones are you going to make?
Marco Conci is a sophomore at Monte Vista High School in Danville and an Eagle Scout with Boy Scout Troop 36. In September, Marco received the Rising Star Award from Sustainable Contra Costa County. Marco is currently in process of selecting another Hornaday Conservation project to pursue.
Reprinted by permission: Danville Today News