Monthly Archives: March 2011

Today is World Water Day

Today is World Water Day, a day to be conscious about water use and to implement lasting changes to daily habits in order to reduce water waste and promote water conservation.  There are many reasons to curb our water consumption.  As the world’s population increases, so does demand for water.  The World Health Organization estimates that 1.7 billion people do not have access to safe drinking water.  In addition, approximately 2.3 billion people are exposed to water-borne diseases, with children around the world dying from  this type of exposure.  For these reasons, water activists around the world are fighting to make access to clean drinking water a human right (you can help here). 

How can you start conserving water?  The number one thing you can do to save water is take a look at how much water is used in order to produce the food that you eat.  National Geographic has a great interactive comparison guide for water use and different foods.  Did you know that it takes approximately 1,799 gallons* of water to produce one pound of beef, but only 216 gallons to produce a pound of soy beans?  That is a HUGE difference!  This means that small changes (i.e. turning off the faucet while brushing our teeth), while important over the long haul, pale in comparison to the amount of water we can save by simply altering what we put on our plates.  Even one meatless day per week would have an amazing impact on water usage.    

You can also get an estimate of  the typical amount of water you use per day by taking the Water Calculator quiz over at H2O Conserve.  The quiz will get you thinking about  how water connects to almost every aspect of your life.  It will help give you an idea of when you are using the most water and what changes you need to make in order to save.  The site also has a page full of Water Saving Tips  for each area of your home/life, starting with things that you can do at absolutey zero cost (some will actually save you money). 

*This is the most conservative estimate I could find, other sources calculate that it takes thousands of gallons more.

Carbon Fast for Lent

For those of you observing Lent, it is now easier than ever to curb your energy consumption and reduce your carbon footprint.  This year, the United Church of Christ has sent out invitations to members, encouraging them to apply the Lenten principles of “repentance, fasting, prayer, study, and works of love” to the environment, by committing to a carbon fast for Lent.  Those who wish to participate can sign up online to receive daily emails with suggestions for how to reduce your carbon footprint in small ways each day, which will hopefully add up to big changes for the Earth by the end of the 40 day time period.  The reason behind this recent environmental movement is primarily to stress that climate change is not only a scientific and political issue, but a moral one as well.

But is it really our moral obligation to “go green”?  Apparently, more and more religious leaders are joining scientists in urging people to avoid skepticism about climate change.  We all know that our planet and its resources are finite, and it has become overwhelmingly clear that environmental consciousness is not just a fad.  Indicators of climate change are happening all around us; seasons are shifting, temperatures are climbing and sea levels are rising.  The Bishop of London, Rev Richard Chartres, in an interview last year with Christian Today, said “It’s the poorest people in developing countries, who have done the least to cause climate change, that are being hit hardest by its devastating consequences.”  So climate change has already drastically affected the lives of many people.  If we don’t act now, climate change may permanently alter the Earth in such a way that it will be impossible to go back and undo the damage we have done.

Even if you do not plan on observing Lent, there are still plenty of small changes you can make that can result in significant reductions of the impact your life is having on the planet.  One way to get started would be to visit The Nature Conservancy website, and access the Carbon Footprint Calculator to calculate the effect that your daily choices are having on the environment.  It may also be helpful to think about the small things we do every day and how they have an impact on the planet.  For instance, do you pay attention to which garbage cans you use when throwing away trash on campus?  Do you let your car idle in the parking lot while waiting to go into class?  Do you leave the computer on in your dorm when it is not in use? Are your eating habits environmental friendly?  We all have things that we can do better.

Here are some suggestions to get you started on the path to be kinder to our planet, either during Lent or over the long run:

Eat a PB&J: http://www.pbjcampaign.org/

Get Rid of Your Junk Mail: https://www.catalogchoice.org/

Instead of Buying Something New, Get Something Used for Free: http://www.freecycle.org/

Recycle Used Cell Phones: http://www.call2recycle.org/

Purchase a Reusable Water Bottle: http://www.kleankanteen.com/

Encourage Your Family to Stay in a Green Hotel: http://greenhotels.com/index.php