The Scattered Attempts of Green

There is no doubt, there are allot of people doing good things in the world to improve the very sad condition of the environment. There appears however to be such a scattering of efforts, that there is less being accomplished than might be done should people work together to advance their purposes.

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The Oceans…

Oblivious- so many of us are about the state and condition of the oceans and the creatures who live in them. If more people knew what is really going on out there… Oy!

Have you heard about the “dead zones”? These are areas of ocean, mostly along shore lines and under the surface waters where the watery deep has been dangerously depleted of oxygen. Now, you would think that fish and other aquatic inhabitants would flee the area to more oxygenated locations but apparently, fish are not capable of such complex reasoning.

Instead, sea life is literally suffocating in these areas.

More frightening is the trash vortex in the Pacific ocean. Mistakenly believed to be a floating island of plastic waste on the ocean’s surface the Pacific Garbage Patch is actually an area of the ocean where the sheer volume of plastic waste swimming in the area is effecting life in general. From fish who are eating combs and plastic caps to birds… who are eating plastic bits and bites, unaware that these morsels are not food. The entire eco system in the area is affected by this aqua-fill including plants and beaches. The exact size of the patch is not known because there is no standard in the world for what is a “normal” amount of plastic in the water. Some scientists insist that the patch is about double the size of Texas (this being the area where waste in the water is at undeniably high levels). Other researchers claim the patch is closer to the size of the USA- that being the size of the area where waste in elevated levels simply exist. Who could argue though that no amount of garbage, particularly plastic should be found in our oceans?

Last but not least, we come to the fish stocks in the waters that surround us. Seafood is a special food store, because it comes from wild food stocks for the most part. So severely have many species of fish that we regularly eat have become virtually wiped out. Others are dangerously depleted. Without greater knowledge and understanding about how the life forms in the waters effect us today and how our choices will effect the future, people continue to support over fishing without even being aware that is happening at their behest.

The oceans are sick… what can anyone do about it?

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Can They Really Go Mc Green?

I am forever interested in the claims of large corporations and how those claims measure up with the reality that we see in their corporate behavior.

McDonald’s and Burger King (Number 1 and number 2 respectively… which makes the king the queen I think…) have grabbed my attention with their website’s claims of ‘concern for the environment’ and the ‘carbon footprint of their fast food locations’.

No doubt, these giants are painfully aware of the increasing numbers of environmentally conscious consumers who will happily take their money elsewhere if a more eco-friendly alternative is available to them. (A huge opportunity to out do McDonald’s if Burger King played their cards right)

Prior to 1990, McDonald’s was the world’s largest consumer of Styrofoam. For those of us old enough to remember, McDonald’s burgers and sandwiches were all served in Styrofoam clam-shell boxes.

McDonald’s was called out on the fact that the packages were not bio degradable and further that the very production of them was pumping toxins into nature. McDonald’s was essentially forced to change… though, McDonalds spins it in retrospect as though they were the eco-hero of the day.

At any rate, Voila! Cardboard Mcburger boxes! Of course, the other chains followed suit with cardboard boxes and paper wrappers etc.

There are many other questions that are regularly raised about the real impact of the fast food industry.

The volume of beef and chicken required to satisfy consumer demand is an issue that quickly branches into more issues ranging from methane output to the inhumane treatment of animals and the effect that stress may or may not have on the meat. Not to mention the overfishing of the fishies that fill the fillets-o-fish! The once believed “sustainable” fish stock is now becoming depleted and another cause for concern.

There are so many issues involved when it comes to the fast food industry, that one can’t help but wonder if it is possible for the fast food industry to be green in any meaningful way.

We are certainly happy though to see them trying.

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Fast Food Gets Eco-Friendlier

We are living in an “out of sight out of mind” culture today that, in reality, is doing all of us more harm than good.One area where this is especially true is in the area of eating out.

Did you know that according to recent figures, Mc Donalds raked in excess of 22 BILLION dollars in 2008? Burger King is number 2… and by stark contrast, it raked in a little over 2 Billion. That blows my mind.

The point however, is that these are just 2 restaurant chains… can you imagine the packaging for all of those burgers, fries and shakes? And then add to that the packaging from Dairy Queen, Taco Time, KFC, Sonic, A&W… etc, etc.

I am not going to suggest that we should stop eating fast food (I think we have to be realistic about these things) but what would happen if people started bringing their own re-usable containers to fast food restaurants?

By considering the numbers for just McDonalds and Burger King, it is clear that any real movement where by large numbers of people started asking to have their Mc Meal placed into their own container could have a considerable impact on waste.

So how bout it? What would it really take to make that happen?

I know that I could keep a container in my car (in case I have a sudden urge for a drive-through) Most of us have travel mugs and don’t think twice about offering it up for a re-fill. Asking for our meals to be placed in our own personal containers does not seem to be much of a stretch from there.

For family eating, I suppose I could grab a few larger containers and just ask them to stack the food in the containers; Or each family member could have their own re-usable containers and beverage bottles. I can do that. Can you do that? We can all do that… right? Will it kill anyone to bring containers?… It might kill us if we don’t.

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It’s All Noob To Me…

Growing bubbles of consciousness around the world are generating waves of something new… new to me anyway.

Alright! Not entirely new! … but I had not really taken much of it seriously and I am now realizing that I should have.

Growing waves of new ecologically friendly terms like “eco sustainability”, “eco-friendly”,  and “green” are everywhere. (just watch me coin new “eco-words” through the simple addition of the “eco-suffix”!) I am embarrassed to say that I was not really taking any of it seriously. The city where I live has furnished each home with a recycle bin. I use it, and in so doing, believed I was doing as much as I should. Besides, life is busy and within me was a quiet confidence that someone else was being eco-responsible enough for me to turn a blind eye and not involve myself in the matter too deeply. Surely Ed Begley Jr. was peddling enough for the both of us!… but alas, not so.

Recent changes in life have thrown me into a world where I can not imagine others are taking care of the problem. I have to research and discover what the deal really is because I am the new Executive Director of Eco Hospitality. Clearly, I was not placed in this position because of my deep knowledge and understanding of all things green.  The decision was made to put me in this position because of other skills I have… and so, my excuses end there. 

I think I am in a unique position among those blogging for a greener future…  I am not blogging from a position of already having established understanding and trying to persuade others. I am not someone who can pretend I already know what I do not. So I am blogging from the perspective of someone who knows very little but who is now learning, from the beginning, what, how and why of it all so that I can be effective in my work. It is my hope that others will join me in this learning because already, in the very early stages of this process, it is becoming clear to me that there truly is an “eco-responsibility” (like that one?) that we all have for those who live on in the future… and what are we doing about that? 

Welcome to my “eco-education”…

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