Monday, May 18, 2009

Reversing environmental decline

I try to be conscious of the environment.

I wouldn't say I'm completely green. When I want to fight mosquitos in my back yard, I go to the products I know...which usually aren't necessarily environmentally healthy. When I purchase hair care products, I buy what I like and what seems to work.

But I try.

I go behind people and shut off lights. I have my blue trash can beside my regular trash can and make sure everyone who comes to my house recycles...and try to encourage it even when I'm not at my house. Most recently I have taken up composting (still not sure how to do that, but I'm working on it).

So as I watched Bill Moyers and Daniel Goleman talk about Goleman's new book, Ecological Intelligence, I was listening for new tips.

He mentioned two sites that can help us find safe, healthy, and green products:
Good Guide and Skin Deep--both very helpful to see what we're actually buying...tells if the ingredients are linked to cancer...and offers other products that are less toxic. I never knew so many were related to cancer!

As he talked something else struck me. He talked about suntan lotion and how the ingredients in suntan lotion wash off in the water and is killing the coral reefs.

This struck me. A few years ago I went to Jamaica with my environmentalist cousin. She had been in the Peace Corps there and was very disappointed when we returned to find the coral reefs nearly non-existent. As we talked, she spoke of the Jamaicans not taking care of their land and how the trash in the water has hurt the ocean life.

But now I wonder...Is it really the Jamaicans that are hurting their own ocean or is it the tourists? We know tourists go there for sun and beaches. In fact that was another discovery we made on her return. I posted about it here. There were huge monstrosity hotels that had taken over the locals' beaches. I'm not so sure it's the Jamaican's fault.

As Goleman points out, there is a hidden cost to our "stuff" and the things we want and think we deserve. The coral reefs in Jamaica are dying. The landfills in our own United States are probably full of junk McDonald's happy meal toys that kids only like for the moment they open the plastic packaging.

Are we all really thinking about what our own selfishness can do and is doing? And how can we make a concerted effort to turn this around?

The really cool thing about Good Guide is that you can two really cool things... Once you go to a product, you can click on the "contact this company" button and tell the company why you're not buying their brand anymore, or why you are now buying their brand. Secondly, you can also inform all of your friends as to why you've just done that.

Not all of us take the time to look at these things...but for those of us who do, I think once we start making the information more accessible to others, being more green might catch on and companies will look for ways to become more green to satisfy their public.

Hopefully we can begin reversing the rapid evolution of environmental decline.

See the Bill Moyers segment here:
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