Aaah, the global warming dilemma — yes there is global warming, no there isn’t. Yes, global warming is a big deal; no, global warming isn’t.

Since both NASA and the U.S. military have listed global warming as a National Security concern, believing that our global temperature will rise 2.5 to 10.4 degrees within the next 90 years, we should probably err on the side of caution and do our part at reducing greenhouse gases.

Why run the risk of water shortages, crop failure, severe weather, and rampant disease? What is more disturbing than the effects of global warming is that our habits (pollution, energy usage, urban sprawl, oil dependency, and our outrageous consumption) are making the situation worse.  There are approximately 6,881,724,882 people worldwide. When you think of all the trash generated and energy used, you can see why changing your lifestyle and the way you interact with Mother Earth is absolutely pivotal to the survival of future generations.

Our actions are poisoning our planet and threatening our continued viability as a society. We must change individually and collectively to make a difference and turn this planet around.

Lessening our Impact
Screw the laundry list of what you can do to save the planet; for some, it results in “green frenzy” (trying to implement too many changes at one time), becoming so overwhelming that one will more than likely flame out, allowing old habits to resurface. Instead, start small, focusing on your paper and plastic consumption and disposal (trust me these two areas alone can have a massive impact on reducing greenhouse gas and reversing the effects that are leading us down the global warming highway).

Ditch the Plastic
Plastic is everywhere: toothbrushes, deodorant cases, cups, glasses, shoelaces, and clothes.  You name it, and plastic is in it. The problem is that plastic, an oil-based product that takes over a thousand years to degrade and emits greenhouse gases (a major source of global warming), along with other poisonous chemicals that leech into our soil and water supply.

Although I am not advocating that you give up all plastics, I’m strongly suggesting that you permanently ditch the two worst plastic culprits — plastic shopping bags and water bottles. These items are the leading contributors to the plastic pollution problem: we throw away 60,000 plastic bags every 5 second, and two million plastic beverage bottles are used and pitched every 5 minutes.

Buying a BPA refillable water bottle and cloth shopping bags can lessen your impact drastically. When you get ready to say “plastic please” or buy another water bottle at the store remember this, there is a three million ton mass of plastic debris floating in the Pacific Ocean (b.k.a as the Pacific Garbage Patch). Environmentalist Charles Moore, who played a crucial role in discovering and brining international awareness to the garbage patch, states: “All we can do is stop putting more of it in, and that means redesigning our relationship with plastic.”

Pass on the Paper
As if the plastic weren’t enough, now we are actually cutting down the only organisms on earth that have the power to keep us alive — trees. Trees absorb greenhouse gases to prevent them from damaging the ozone layer and provide us with oxygen. Thanks to the almighty consumer, over 32 million acres of woodlands are cleared each year for paper products. Even though there is auspicious inventions that have helped humans, think toilet paper, most products are now unnecessary: paper cups, plates, sticky notes, newspapers, magazines.

We throw away about 87.4 million tons of paper products each year. Making small changes in this area can make a huge difference. For instance, buy only recycled paper products, avoid using paper cups or plates, think twice before you print, use scraps of paper instead of sticky notes, and try using rags (old towels, t-shirts, napkins, etc).

According to a 2010 Gallup poll, a whopping 48% of Americans think that the statistics and inherent dangers are exaggerated. The likelihood of these individuals taking significant steps to reduce their carbon footprint are low, so those of us that don’t have our heads in the sand must make up for our fellow members of society that do. R,ecycling is extremely important but its no longer enough. We have to change our consumption habits as well.

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One Comment

  1. I am a recycle nut- I save stuff to recycle later. It doesn’t help that where I work there is no city recycling program. Ugh! So something I struggle with is bottled water. I tend to drink more water (good) when it is bottled water (bad). I of course recycle the bottles. I have tried refill containers and I usually forget about them. I also like room temp. water so it is easier to have the bottled water. Thoughts?

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