Saturday, February 24, 2007

Bigger Better Bottle Bill

Stop and Think for a Moment

A couple of decades ago I performed a common public obligation by serving for a month on the Monroe County Grand Jury. Before a month-long parade of decisions on various crimes, the prosecutor admonished our collection of citizen jurists to “think and conduct our public duty with thoughtful deliberation, because we were performing an important function in our area’s law enforcement.” I still remember that little discourse for it reminded all of us in the jury to do our duty properly and it elevated our thinking to be above our daily petty whims and opinions so that we would decide on the cases before us as thoughtful representatives of our government.

I think of that as our state moves towards the adoption of the Bigger Better Bottle Bill, which would reduce litter in our state without a tax increase. (Please get the facts on this bill at NYPIRG’s site before arguing corporate misinformation.) Before giving a quick response to the idea (increasing the refund on returnable bottles to include juices, water, and other beverages), consider this proposal as a responsible citizen of our environment’s future.

We are at a critical point with our environment (many issues such as global warming, the loss of biodiversity, pollution, etc. may be coming to a tipping point), and it is up to our generation to see that future generations do not suffer for our lack of humanity. Forget about taxes, the inconvenience for convenience stores, and the loony suggestion that we might force inmates to pick up after us for a moment and think about your children’s world. Will this bill, which has proven to remove over 80 million discarded bottles from our forests, streets, and streams, make a substantial improvement of our environment? Eighty-percent of New Yorkers already think so.

Providing a positive incentive for consumers to recycle their trash, instead of allowing it to add to the ledger of our disregard for our planet’s health (which is our health), should be the principle which this bill hinges upon. Not what will personally inconvenience you or upset an already money-strapped business. We can readjust our behavior to live environmentally responsibly. Nature cannot.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Changing Lights Saving Energy

If you have been following the recent developments in Australia, adopting a radical new proposal to ban old incandescent light bulbs to the new energy efficient florescent bulbs, it must be heartening to see this simple idea take hold that could have a profound effect on saving energy. Instead of a light bulb using most of its energy draw to create heat, the new bulbs merely do what you want: create light.

That our neighbors up north are considering this idea for compact florescent bulbs might jog our area to do the same. Perhaps. But, one of the things that I have come across is that compact florescent bulbs, while saving energy, also have environmental effects because they contain mercury.

Check out this article: On mercury in compact fluorescent lights Grist Ask Umbra 16 Jan 2003 They should be disposed of properly and this should be a part of any wholesale program to adopt these type of light bulbs. - News - Ontario considers banning old-style light bulbs Ontario is considering becoming the first province in Canada to follow Australia's lead in banning old-fashioned, energy-sucking light bulbs, Environment Minister Laurel Broten said Wednesday as the province draws up a plan to cut its greenhouse gas emissions. Conservative Leader John Tory and environmental groups are urging the government to ban incandescent bulbs in favour of energy-efficient ones, saying it's the push people need to save electricity and a move that would eliminate much of the province's dependence on coal-fired power plants. --from

Drugs In Our Waters

As time goes on and we learn more about what we do that affects our environment, we may begin to adopt a new comprehensive attitude towards our environment. A story that I am hearing more and more about is the affect of our pharmaceuticals in our waters. Flushing our problems down the toilet isn’t an answer to a problem, getting rid of unwanted drugs, it is often only the beginning of a problem for our environment.

What’s new is that our government is beginning to do something about it. And because our area is surrounded by so many lakes and streams this new federal prescription drug disposal guidelines could help save our fishing industry and water quality. EPA Unveils Drug Disposal Guidelines - WASHINGTON -- Here's a safety tip from your government: Trash those unwanted prescription drugs with kitty litter or coffee grounds to keep them from falling into the wrong hands _ and mouths. New federal prescription drug disposal guidelines recommend mixing unused, unneeded or expired drugs with undesirable substances _ like cat litter or coffee grounds _ and tossing them in the trash in nondescript containers. Doing so should curb prescription drug abuse and protect lakes and streams from contamination, the White House and government health and environment officials said. (Feb 21, 07) The Washington Post