The Meatrix

Dare to enter…The Meatrix.  A closer look at the meat products industry.

12 Things You Can Do To Help Mitigate Climate Change

An Environment Cartoon By Cris Madden

The terms Global Warming and Climate Change can sound daunting and uncomprehensible to some folks.  But these issues are not just the concerns of global corporations or eco-advocates (come to think of it – we SHOULD BE eco-advocates).  Our behavior and the way we conduct our lives on a daily basis impacts the earth.  Small actions are part of habits. Make no mistake, we are all interconnected.

Believe it or not, there are some things that we can all practice to do our share in mitigating climate change.

Since the principal greenhouse gas is carbon dioxide (CO2), we need to reduce our our personal usage of fossil fuels.

  1. Keep your car in tip top shape.  A untuned-up vehicle uses up more fuel and therefore releases more CO2 in the atmosphere.
  2. Check your tires regularly.
  3. Drive smart.  Use progressive accelerating so as not to waste fuel.  Driving in spurts and quick stops wastes fuel.
  4. Carpool, if you can. Not taking your car for even just two days per week will reduce your CO2 emissions by 721 kilograms per year.
  5. Remove excess weight from your car.  The engine will labor more from the excess baggage.
  6. Buy local produce.  This reduces the need to transport these products.  You also help your local farming communities.
  7. Buy recycled paper products.  It takes less energy to recycle paper than to make new paper products.
  8. Reduce garbage.  A reduction of about 2% in your garbage output can reduce your CO2 emissions by 453 kgs.  Bring your own cloth bags to the market.
  9. Turn off unused electronic devices.  Keeping VCRs, TV sets, DVDs, lights and computers on Standby Mode still requires energy from the grid. What’s more vampire power can also take a bite out of your wallet.
  10. Replace frequently used bulbs with compact flourescent lamps (CFLs). The new bulbs will last longer and use less energy. This means less energy required from the power grid.  Replacing two incandescent bulbs with CFLs, for instance, can reduce our personal CO2 emissions by 136 kgs.
  11. Support recycling.
  12. Share this with others.

Islands of Trash?

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is an area containing marine trash located between Hawaii and California. The exact size is unknown because it is constantly growing. It is sometimes referred to as Trash Island but this is a misnomer. It’s not just a single island but instead, it is an area containing deposits of debris.

Garbage patches happen when rubbish gets collected in oceanic gyres. A gyre is a convergence of wind and ocean currents. About 90% of the trash in garbage patches are made from plastic. Since plastic does not break down easily, it affects wildlife significantly e.g. whales and dolphins are snared in nylon nets, seagulls choke on straws and sandwich wraps. Longer term effects include accumulation of toxins which may be passed on to other animals, and subsequently up the food chain.

Some of the best ways to avoid these is by enacting stronger waste disposal and recycling policies. But why wait? We can start now by making a conscious effort to practice proper waste disposal at home. Let’s teach our kids more about how we can care for the environment.

We don’t need a movement to tell us why this is important.

Click here for more information on these garbage patches

Getting rid of light bulbs and CFLs

Ever wondered where that light bulb you threw into the trash can goes? How about the flourescent lamp you just left for the garbage men to collect? Incandescent light bulbs do not pose a serious health threat but compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) are known to contain mercury, a known hazardous material. Mercury can be a serious health threat, especially to women and children. Some studies suggest that mercury may affect the heart and circulatory system. Some sources claim that mercury may also affect fetal development.

Although the mercury contained in CFLs may be small, the amount of this substance accumulates as we discard more and more of these light bulbs. There is also the danger of mercury from discarded items such as light bulbs and fluorescent lamps getting into our water supply. It takes only one fluorescent lamp to pollute 6,000 gallons of water.

In disposing light bulbs, make sure you wrap them in newspaper before placing them in a marked box. Make sure that you send them to a recycling center. In case of broken bulbs or lamps, never use the vacuum cleaner or the broom. Immediately turn off fans or air conditioners to help prevent the mercury from being airborne.

These simple tips can be done by the average household member but they certainly go a long way in helping keep our environment safe.

As I See It: Ban importation of plastic bags (By Neal Cruz)

Reprinting an article by Neal Cruz, which appeared on the Philippine Daily Inquirer on 22 September 2010.  Click here to read the article from the Inquirer site.

I AGREE completely with the recommendation of the EcoWaste Coalition to ban the use of non-biogradable plastic bags. I would include in the ban the styrofoam containers and plastic spoons and forks used by fast-food outlets and restaurants. These are very cheap, convenient and practical for many uses, but they do not decompose and clog canals, sewers, esteros, rivers and other waterways, and cause floods. Also, they stay in the landfills for thousands of years so that we would soon run out of space to throw our garbage into. There is now floating in the middle of the Pacific Ocean a garbage patch the size of Texas. This patch is composed of plastic bags, styrofoam containers, rubber tires and other non-biodegradable materials. The patch gets bigger and bigger every year as more and more debris from land are carried by the ocean currents to this giant patch. If you go from Manila to Corregidor or Bataan by boat, you will pass in Manila Bay a patch of floating plastics. They were either taken there by the currents from the esteros and rivers of Metro Manila or dumped there by garbage contractors hired by local governments to get rid of their waste. Another environmental group has urged the government to ban the use of plastic bags by supermarkets and of styrofoam containers and plastic cutlery by fast-food outlets. But as long as we import plastic bags and allow petrochemical companies to manufacture them, I do not think we can successfully prohibit their use because they are convenient, practical and cheap. Convenient, too, for homeowners who use them to put kitchen waste in before throwing them away. The trick is to ban the entry into the country of plastic bags as well as their manufacture here. Let’s promote the use of reusable cloth bags by having art work or beautiful pictures printed on them. In the US, paper shopping bags of department stores have famous paintings printed on them and are collected by homeowners. I am not saying that we should use paper bags because that may mean cutting down more trees to be processed into paper, although bags can be made out of recycled waste paper. Before the era of plastic bags, housewives went to market with reusable rattan baskets or bayong in which to put their market purchases. They have been immortalized in the pastoral paintings of National Artist Fernando Amorsolo, but they have now been made obsolete by the plastic bags. Also, there are now bags, as good and durable and water resistant as plastic bags but made out of biodegradable materials such as corn stalk. They look like plastic but decompose just like any other organic material. We should use them instead of the petrochemical-based plastic bags. The plastic bags we now use are a waste product of the petrochemical industry. They are a by-product of refining crude oil into gasoline, other fuels and lubricants. The oil companies have to do something to them so as not to waste them. But they can be used for other things instead of for making plastic bags and styrofoam containers. Supermarkets and wet markets are the top dispensers of plastic bags and fast-food restaurants are the top users of styrofoam eating utensils. It is a reflex action of clerks and bag boys to put grocery purchases in plastic bags even if the shopper has brought her own cloth shopping bag. Security guards look at shoppers with suspicion if their purchases are not in plastic shopping bags. I have been accosted by supermarket and drugstore guards for carrying my few purchases in my hands instead of in plastic bags. I had to show them the receipts before they allowed me to leave. I think the first we have to convince to refrain from the use of plastic bags are the store owners. And I think environmental groups should talk to the supermarket and fast-food associations instead of just issuing press releases. Also, they should propagate the use of more durable alternatives to plastic bags, such as attractive reusable paper bags, rattan and bamboo baskets, bayong and cloth bags. The Department of Science and Technology should pioneer the manufacture of biodegradable bags made out of corn and sugarcane stalks, cogon, talahib and rice stalks.

How to handle your household chemicals

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Happy New Year!  After all the merrymaking comes the task of cleaning up and surely you’ll be using some of the more popular household products.  But just because a product is being sold in supermarkets doesn’t mean it’s totally safe.  Take extra care when handling household substances because even if a product is being used on your body, it can still be dangerous if misused.  A few tips.

1.  Make an inventory of all household products and classify them.  Separate detergents from petroleum-based products, for example, and know their location.

2.  Read the labels.  Heed the warning signs.   Products may be poisonous, flammable, corrosive or can cause irritation.

3.  Ensure proper ventilation when using these products.  Keep flammable substances out of the house

4.  Watch where you store them.  Don’t store them with food.  Keep them out of children’s and pets’ reach.

5.  Recycle or dispose of properly.  Don’t just pour these down your toilet, your sink or on the ground. Contact your local environment authority to coordinate the disposal of these items

6.  Who you gonna call?  Keep the numbers of the poison control authority, the fire department, the nearest hospitals and the local environmental authorities handy.