We are all familiar with the global environmental campaign of reducing, reusing and recycling or the 3Rs. This campaign aims to reduce the amount of garbage being thrown into dumpsites and landfills. By reducing garbage we help the environment is so many ways. We are also helping the government save money and create jobs.
How do we reduce the amount of garbage? There are two main ways: reusing and recycling.
Reusing is using an item again to save money, energy and resources. This does not require an additional step of reprocessing the item. An example of reusing would be using discarded plastic bottles to store water or other liquids. Just imagine the number of bottles you could save by reusing old ones. Some stores even offer discounts for using old plastic bottles. Remember when you want to reuse and item, make sure to wash it well to prevent any contamination and spread of bacteria. Reusing items could be done as long as the item is still functional. In the above example, if the plastic bottle has cracks, then it is time to throw it away or better yet, recycle that cracked plastic bottle.
Recycling is often confused with reducing. Just like reusing, recycling helps the environment by lessening the amount of garbage in landfills. When there is less garbage, there would also be less pollution that harms the earth.
Recycling is breaking down the components, reprocessing the components and producing something new. The added step of reprocessing requires energy and time; it is also an additional cost. That is why it is the last option in the 3Rs. But recycling is still done and encouraged especially when an item is not suitable for reusing, for example the cracked plastic bottle. The cracked plastic bottle is cleaned and processed to create a new plastic bottle. When multiple plastic bottles are processed, it could be used to create bigger items like tables and chairs. Other items that could be recycled are glass, paper, metal, and cloth. These materials are ideally recycled because there is a steady supply of used glass, paper, etc.; one could obtain these used items every day. There are recycling centers in which these items are deposited. Some centers offers monetary compensation depending on the weight of the items. Because of this incentive, a lot of people are encouraged to recycle.
Aside from helping the environment, recycling also helps the state save money and create jobs. The U.S. Recycling Economic Informational Study had concluded that more than one million jobs have been created due to recycling centers. And in New York City, recycling saved more than $20 million this is because of the reduced landfill costs.
The government together with many private companies promote and encourage recycling. Many companies manufacture everyday items such as writing paper and plastic bags at a much lower cost compared to those none recycled counterparts.
It is not just enough to introduce recycled items to the market. Public information and education on recycling is also important. If citizens understand the benefit and use of recycling then they would be encouraged to actually participate in recycling.
How could they participate?
Be a responsible buyer, support recycled products. Carefully inspect the packaging and look for the symbol for recycling. The presence of the symbol indicates that the item has been made from recycled material. Purchasing recycled materials helps the environment minimize the amount garbage in landfills. Or just try free samples products before to buy them, you can find a lot of samples around internet.
All in all, following the 3Rs: reducing, reusing and recycling helps save the environment, create jobs, and generate income. With the government’s help, private sectors and cooperation of citizens, the 3Rs would be a success.
Nutritionists and health experts agree; making sure that fish is a part of your diet offers a tremendous number of health benefits. The omega 3 fatty acids that most fish contain are especially beneficial for brain and heart health (by the way, pretty interesting website: http://www.allaboutfishoil.org), meaning that even for children fish is a great addition to their standard 'meal plan'.
There is a concern among many people though about the possibility that the fish they buy in the supermarket may contain harmful contaminants though. With the environment certainly not in the best shape all over the world it is in many ways a valid concern, but it is important to cut through the misinformation that is out there and determine what the real risks are and how they can be avoided.
What Contaminants Might Be in the Fish You Buy?
The contaminants in fish do not come from the fish themselves of course, but from the waters they live in. The ones that concern people the most break down as follows:
- Metals, primarily lead and mercury
- Artificially introduced industrial chemicals like PCBs
- Pesticide residues
How Do these Contaminants Get into the Water?
The most common way that contaminants are introduced into the waters that the world's fish population calls home is via industrial waste runoffs. This situation has improved in many areas though as stricter environmental regulations have forced many companies to change their practices.
The environment can be a problem itself. Rainwater washes contaminants from the land, such as pesticides, into the water. The levels at which it does so will of course vary by the activity in the area, so places where there are a lot of traditional farms in the areas near the water.
What Health Risks do These Contaminants Pose?
To men and women who are past their childbearing years research has found that contaminants in fish pose very little risk and the health benefits outweigh the risks significantly.
The concern is for women who are, or might become, pregnant. Some research has found that pregnant women who consume fish with higher contaminant levels may give birth to children who are slightly slower to develop mentally. However, as Omega 3 fatty acids are essential for the formation of a young brain it is no longer recommended that pregnant women avoid fish altogether, just that they stick to low contaminant species and the same advice is offered for children.
What Types of Fish are Likely to Contain the Most Contaminants?
The fish that pose the biggest risk of contamination are those that are considered 'bottom feeders' as most of the contaminants in the water 'sink' and settle at the bottom of rivers, streams and sea beds rather than floating in the water. These fish include wild striped bass, sea bass) bluefish, eels, and sea trout (not river trout) mackerel, swordfish and shark. Tuna, both yellowfin and albacore contains moderate levels of mercury and should be consumed in limited quantities (about once a week) If you can find skipjack tuna however it has far lower levels of mercury and can be consumed more often, so checking the labels on the canned tuna fish at the supermarket can be very helpful.
There are some fish species that contain such low levels of contaminants that they have been deemed by health officials to be 'enjoy as you please' fish and can be eaten with great regularity to maximize the health benefits for everyone. The list of these types of fish is surprisingly large and does include all forms of salmon, haddock, flounder, tilapia, whitefish and even shellfish like crab and shrimp.
Overall there is no reason for anyone to remove fish from their diet at this point, just to be mindful about the types of fish they choose and, if at all possible, discovering the origins of the fish can help as well.
One of the biggest negative factors involved in climate change is the burning of fossil fuels to create energy, both the energy to power vehicles and the energy that creates electricity. The excess of carbon dioxide such activities have pumped into the air in the last 50 years has increased the CO2 concentration in the Earth's atmosphere by 30% and that excess has been the catalyst for many of the negative effects of climate change. In addition, the supplies of these fossil fuels themselves are finally dwindling, so the need to increase the use of renewable energy technologies is urgent.
In the case of transportation strides are being made in the technology behind electric cars. Tesla Motors, the New Jersey, US based company headed by entrepreneur Elon Musk, has become the first company to successfully market a mass market electric car and other large vehicle manufacturers - BMW, General Motors and even Porsche - have their own versions ready for sale as well.
An even larger problem though is the electricity that is needed to power homes and businesses. The good news however is, that although the rate of progress is varying all over the world - with the most progress being made in Western Europe and North America - more and more energy companies are adopting renewable energy sources to provide power to their customers. Here is a little about some of the most used technologies:
Hydroelectric power - the use of water to generate electricity - is one of the oldest renewable energy sources in general use. As of 2012, the last time figures were complied, hydroelectricity now provides 20% of the world's electricity.
Although it is a renewable source of power there are drawbacks attached to expanding the use of hydropower even further. The dams that must be created to force running water over turbines to generate power are expensive and time consuming to build. There can also be significant negative impacts made on the environment, especially for the fish living in the waters that are dammed.
The use of wind power - harnessed by those big white windmills you may have seen dotting the landscape - is the fastest growing form of renewable energy in the US and its implementation is increasing in Europe as well.
Again, wind power is hardly a new idea, windmills have been around for centuries but it fell out of favor as the expense of constructing windmills is not insignificant. With the widespread reintroduction of windmills - or wind turbines as they are properly termed - there have been concerns raised about the effects on the landscape of these massive structures have and also their impact on the local habitats.
Solar power, after a period of stagnation when many people considered it 'hippie technology' and little more, is progressing again. In many ways solar power is the ideal form of renewable energy as it is clean, requires far less construction to operate and can be implemented by individuals themselves.
There are obstacles that are hard to overcome though. Very few areas of the world can boast that they get enough continuous sunlight to provide an adequate amount of energy to consistently power a whole building, meaning that a more conventional energy source is still required as a 'back up' on cloudy days. More efficient energy collection cells are being developed though that may overcome this problem.
While none of these sources of energy are perfect they are all an improvement, in terms of environmental impact, over the continued use of fossil fuels and it is important that the big power companies continue to expand their use for the good of everyone, and for the planet.
Despite what they might think, individuals really can make a difference to the health of the environment by reducing their carbon footprint. Things like choosing a renewable energy source supplier and making a more eco-friendly choice when it comes to a vehicle are helpful, as is setting up a home recycling system and properly implementing it. Getting started can be a little confusing though, especially since the guidelines for recycling vary from municipality to municipality. Here though are some basic tips:
Find Out What Can Be Recycled in Your Area
Every municipality has its own guidelines about what can and cannot be recycled via their programs. Therefore the first step in implementing a home recycling program. After all, there is little point in collecting things for recycling if no one will take them off your hands!
You will also need to find out how things have to be recycled. Some municipalities require different types of items (newspaper, glass, plastic etc.) to be sorted separately while others will accept mixed items and then sort them at a central facility. Often you will also be required to place the items for recycling into a special type of collection container which may or may not be provided for you. Once you have all of this information on hand you can then begin planning just how you will recycle within the home.
Setting Up a Household Recycling System
To be most efficient, you will need to set up recycling 'centers' in your home. Where you do this will depend upon what is most important to you; keeping the recycling center out of sight or making it as convenient as possible. It is likely however you will need some kind of recycling center in all of the following spaces in your home:
The Kitchen - The kitchen is the place in most homes where the majority of recyclable materials are used so a useful central place to dispose of these things is a must. The most convenient way to do this would be to place a freestanding recycling bin in the kitchen, but if you do not want to 'clutter up' the space you could create a system in a cupboard out of sight.
The Bathroom - The bathroom is another almost constant source of recyclables in the form of the many plastic bottles that shampoos, conditioner, body washes and other bathroom 'supplies' so reminding the family that these things should be recycled by setting up a dedicated area.
The Garage - If you have a garage this could be another prime location for a recycling center. Yard waste can go there and you could, if you wanted to, create a larger central recycling center there rather than cluttering up your home, as long as everyone does not mind walking out there!
Other Ways to Recycle
There are many other things that can be recycled and/or repurposed in your home that can help reduce your household's carbon footprint. For example, if you are like many people you have half a closet full of clothes that you never wear. Rather than piling them into the attic or throwing them away make the effort to take wearable items to your local thrift store. If you have items that are in very good condition then you could even take them to a consignment store and make a little extra money from them. Even clothes that are no longer really fir to wear can be repurposed for their material in craft projects!
Another thing that you can - and should - recycle is old electronics. Game consoles, cell phones, old computers, monitors and other similar items can all be recycled via a number of different concerns and in many cases you will be helping other people as well as the environment since these items are often refurbished and donated to people in need.
The debate about climate change is still raging. On one side there are those who foresee great doom for the planet mainly because of the action of humans over the last century or so and on the other side you have those who deny anything strange is happening at all and the changes in climate patterns are the same as those naturally repeated since the dinosaurs roamed the Earth. Right now it seems that the probable truth is somewhere half way between these two viewpoints. There are some effects of the ongoing climate change that are hard to refute though as they are simply documented facts. Here are some of the most significant, as originally presented by the World Health Organization:
The Effect of Pollution and Excess Carbon Dioxide
Over the course of the last 50 years or so industrialized nations have caused there to be enough excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere - primarily produced by the burning of fossil fuels - to measurably affect the global climate. In fact the level of carbon dioxide in the Earth's lower atmosphere has increased by 30%, bringing with it a number of threats to human health including illness and even death in unusually high temperatures to changing patterns in infectious diseases that are making them harder to fight.
Sudden Changes Can Spell Big Trouble
The change in climate patterns in many countries can be discerned even by the layperson simply leaving their homes. Sudden unusual changes, such as the 'polar vortex' that affected the US in the winter of 2013 resulting in far lower than usual temperatures, or the occasional record high temperatures experienced by European countries from 2003 onwards resulted in a spike in the number of weather related deaths - hypothermia, hyperthermia and respiratory illness - than has ever been measured during equivalent periods in the past.
Water is Getting Less Plentiful
4 out of 10 people in the world already live in an area where the supply of fresh water is available to them is very limited. Now variable and unpredictable rainfall patterns are making this supply even scarcer. This is especially dangerous in developing countries where the number of deaths from diseases that are related to a poor water supply is increasing despite efforts to combat them.
Crops are Becoming Harder to Cultivate
For any crop to grow and thrive it needs certain climate conditions, the reason why certain produce can only be grown in specific areas. The changing climate means however that even in areas where certain crops usually thrive they are now becoming more and more difficult to cultivate successfully. For example, in 2014 the price of coffee is soaring as unusual drought conditions in Brazil have caused not only a decline in coffee bean growth but increased disease in the beans that are being harvested.
Human Actions Can Make a Difference
There are some that still argue that there is little that the average person can do to help alleviate the effects of climate change but that however is proving to be untrue. By becoming more conscious about energy use in their homes, by finding a different way to commute to work without just using your own car for yourself, by recycling, not only garbage but things like household electronics and cell phones that are no longer needed anybody can reduce their own 'carbon footprint' and help halt some of the worst effects of climate change as they are impacting the whole world, not just developing countries, right now.