Friday, April 5, 2013

E is for Environment

Okay, so this is a fairly done-to-death topic these days.  Everyone and his dog is aware of the impact we humans have had, are having and continue to have on the environment and what that means, potentially, for us all. 

That’s right!  We’ll be sleeping with the dinosaurs before we know it.  Unless things change.  And sooner rather than later.  Yada-yada-yada.

We’ve all heard the stories.  We all know how bad things are and how they are getting worse. 

But let’s just think about this for a minute.  When I was a kid, recycling was not common place at all.  We bought stuff.  We used the stuff we bought.  And then, when it no longer served us for whatever reason, we threw it away.  We still do.

Today recycling is huge.  It’s everywhere.  Even in little old Houston.  We are more conscious of the stuff we throw away – if not the stuff we buy in the first place.  We take it to the recycling depot or we try to re-purpose it some way.  Not to be depressing in any way, but making crafts out of discarded stuff with your kids isn’t solving anything.   Eventually, that, too, is going to get thrown away somehow.  And garbage is still garbage whether it’s lying on the ground in parks and streets or piled up in a landfill.  We just don’t see the landfills – much – so, yes, the parks and streets look better.  But the garbage is still there! 

The fact is that we are going to use stuff.  We are going to harvest natural material from the earth and turn it into things we can use, use them for as long as we need/want to and then get rid of them.  One way or another.  Recycling can help to reduce the amount of natural material we harvest to make stuff, but recycling pollutes just as much as newly manufactured stuff does.  

I really don’t know what the answer is.   And I certainly do not wish to discourage anyone from recycling or re-purposing or picking up litter. 

I recently read a quote attributed to Jonas Salk:  If all the insects were to disappear from the Earth, within fifty years all life on Earth would end. If all human beings disappeared from the Earth, within fifty years all forms of life would flourish.

Well, that’s frightening!  Is it true?  I don’t know.  What I do know is that the environment is suffering.  And us right along with it. 

People criticize me for advocating for e-Books instead of print material.  As a librarian, it may seem a bit incongruous to think like that.  Then again, not many people see the number of books that my staff rip up and haul to the recycling depot on a regular basis.  Produce one e-Book and you’ve produced as many as you need.  Produce one print book and you quickly go out of business.  Granted, it’s not a perfect solution either.  There is a lot of waste attached to e-Books too.  Just look at the e-Readers that are being produced and the rapid rate at which they are becoming obsolete as new and improved versions find their way to market.  Two years ago, the library purchased four Kobo readers that are now out-of-date.  They work just fine, but everyone wants touch screens and tablet features that these ones don’t have.  We can’t afford to keep up with the technology.  So what do we do?

It’s a big, big problem. 

I guess what we can do is try our best as individuals to be as kind as possible to the environment.  Absolutely, recycle, reuse, re-purpose.  Buy second hand if you can.  Grow gardens, eat local food and avoid packaged and processed stuff as much as possible.  Walk or ride a bike is you don’t have to drive.  And be grateful.   I know that probably sounds stupid, but I think gratitude plays a big part in all of this.  When we take it for granted that things will just be there when we want them, we might just wake up one day and find ourselves cuddled up with a stegosaurus.  

Check out the Story of Stuff Project:  It's enlightening!  

1 comment:

  1. I guess there will always be garbage around, but I do like the idea of getting as much use out of it as is possible


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