Saturday, December 26, 2009

Mindless 'Use and Throw'

I wonder how somebody can routinely dispose a plastic spoon after a single usage out of it. One possible explanation is that we don't concern ourselves with anything/anybody other than ourselves. I want to celebrate my kid's party in style, of course I don't want to spend 2-3 hours loading up the dishwasher with reusable plates and cups. That time is better spent watching my favorite movie for the nth time.
It's time for some party planning. First - appetizers, next cutting the birthday cake, followed by lunch or dinner and lastly dessert. So, over four courses, four spoons/forks for each person. For fifty guests, it means 200 plastic spoons. Two hundred spoons to be added to a landfill or an ocean floor to live on forever and kill the marine life, and all this to save an hour so that I can watch TV? Seriously!

The Problem with Plastic

The main problem with plastic -- besides there being so much of it -- is that it doesn't biodegrade. No natural process can break it down. (Experts point out ­that the durability that makes plastic so useful to humans also makes it quite harmful to nature.) Instead, plastic photodegrades. A plastic cigarette lighter cast out to sea will fragment into smaller and smaller pieces of plastic without breaking into simpler compounds, which scientists estimate could take hundreds of years. The small bits of plastic produced by photodegradation are called mermaid tears or nurdles.

These tiny plastic particles can get sucked up by filter feeders and damage their bodies. Other marine animals eat the plastic, which can poison them or lead to deadly blockages. Nurdles also have the insidious property of soaking up toxic chemicals. Over time, even chemicals or poisons that are widely diffused in water can become highly concentrated as they're mopped up by nurdles. These poison-filled masses threaten the entire food chain, especially when eaten by filter feeders that are then consumed by large creatures.

Plastic has acutely affected albatrosses, which roam ­a wide swath of the northern Pacific Ocean. Albatrosses frequently grab food wherever they can find it, which leads to many of the birds ingesting -- and dying from -- plastic and other trash. On Midway Island, which comes into contact with parts of the Eastern Garbage Patch, albatrosses give birth to 500,000 chicks every year. Two hundred thousand of them die, many of them by consuming plastic fed to them by their parents, who confuse it for food [source: LA Times]. In total, more than a million birds and marine animals die each year from consuming or becoming caught in plastic and other debris.

Friday, October 23, 2009

No Gift Policy

Every year for Dhatri's b'day party, we request friends not to bring any gifts for Dhatri. I know that almost everybody that I know is used to giving gifts on occasions like this, and it rather feels odd to go empty handed to a party. I myself feel it odd, but when I think about it in bigger context, I don't mind it at all. But I at least owe an explanation to all my guests for making them feel that way. So here it is..

Impact on resources

Our world population is almost 7 billions. When I fly, I look at the vast land beneath me and think that there is no problem of running out of resources, but I know that it is just plain ignorance, and perhaps a convenient way to justify our unsustainable and irresponsible lifestyles.
Polluting chemicals due to manufacturing have already reached the polar regions. If you care about the future generation, now is the time to question your consumption patterns. Here is an excellent video to educate people about how consumption negatively effects everything else.
The story of stuff

"We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children" Navajo Proverb.

Non biodegradable stuff

Most of kids gifts these days are made of plastic. The cute "educational/fun" plastic toy will live on forever in a landfill. I know, you did see some plastic stuff in my home, but most of it is stuff I bought used on craigslist. In my opinion, that's better than buying brand new stuff.

Unmanageable living space

It is a tough job to keep everything back in its place when there are so many toys. there actually is "no place assigned" for a given toy because there simply are too many toys.

Materialism and the culture of expectations

Kids should be able to value friendships more over the gifts they bring.

Money that could be spent on better causes

I don't mind donating money(donation in-lieu-of gifts) for some cause, but Raghu doesn't like that idea. He feels that we shouldn't be asking others to donate money and should leave it to their will.

Stress of buying a meaningful gift

Buying a gift for another person is always stressful for me. Unless you know what the other person has and what he wants, you can't buy a good gift. Yes, there are gift receipts, but getting it exchanged is stressful for the recipient. It may not be stressful, it is time consuming at least.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Sneaky repackaging

I've been drinking Silk soy milk for five years. This product's packaging has changed and I thought that must be some marketing idea. Luckily I noticed the missing USDA sign on the new cartons. Now they are going to lose my business. I'll also try to spread this as much as possible. Good that I noticed this, otherwise I would have been fooled into buying their products for several more years.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Don’t Be a National Park Bagger

Keith Goetzman summed up every bit of how I feel about travel.

Sour grapes? Maybe. I once thought I would travel to many of the world’s most beautiful places. The Patagonian Andes, Antarctica, the Galapagos Islands—all awaited my intrepid exploration. Now, with the reality of climate change hitting full force, I see that even if I had the means, visiting all my dream destinations just wouldn’t be right, and that in some ways staying close to home is the best way to honor the earth. So yes, I’ve resigned myself to the fact that there are some national parks I will never see, and that photo or video images will be my only acquaintance with them. Which is why I’m watching every last episode of The National Parks, which can be viewed online through Friday.