Wasting Away

There are many criticisms of America: fat, corporate-driven, uneducated … and the list could go on. One very real criticism is how wasteful we are, especially when it comes to food.

It’s said less people are cooking and more are eating out, and we tend to throw out a large portion of the produce we do buy because it goes bad—or so we think.

In an article titled “Spoil Alert” Whole Living writer Elizabeth Royte says, “Confused by expiration dates, ‘sell before’ dates, and ‘best before’ dates, most people err on the side of caution. We toss food because it looks a little bruised, because we’ve bought too much of it, because we’ve forgotten it’s hiding behind the tamari bottle, and because it’s gone bad.”

Royte is right. Wastefulness isn’t just throwing away good food, it’s throwing away money. Royte states that putting that food in landfills costs $1 billion each year.

But, there’s yet another big issue here: the environment. In landfills, food waste decomposes and generates methane, which has more than 20 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide.

So essentially, wasting food isn’t just a waste of the effort to produce it, but also the money we spent on it, the money municipalities spend to get rid of it, and the harmful effects it has on the environment. I think it’s safe to say I’ll be eating all of the vegetables on my plate from now on.

Advertisements

“Sandy!”…

…”Tell me about it, stud.” — This famous moment in the movie Grease happens when Sandy appears in front of Danny for the first time in her new, badass clothes and makeup, proving to him that she’s not just an innocent girl he can take for granted. Danny’s shocked reaction to Sandy smoking a cigarette and wearing scandalously tight pants captures the shock of another badass Sandy — the deadly storm that swept over much of the East Coast.

Okay, so while the shocking moment in Grease was a pleasant one, rather than one of terror, I was pleasantly surprised to see so many stories about how this storm correlates to climate change. That was one plot twist I certainly didn’t see coming.

Blogs, such as the recent one on Huffington Post, discuss Sandy’s implications and stress that this storm is not just a one time occurrence. Scientists predict we will see more and more of these “once in a century” storms and even the governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, admits there is a huge change in weather patterns.

While it is great to hear more concern from not only bloggers, but major media outlets about climate change, it’s also disheartening. At this point, given the grim scientific predictions, it seems as though it’s almost too late to do anything about it. We’ve spent too long here in the U.S. making climate change a partisan issue (as Andrew Steer addresses in the Huff Post blog). And now the issue is yet another pawn in the election, but will anything actually be done after the election?

Climate change affects OUR environment, OUR world, OUR lives. So, it’s time to push politics aside and fix the problem. I don’t intend to be a cynic, because I do hope climate change continues to be in the conversation and I sincerely hope that politicians who claim to want to fix the issue work to do so. I just worry we are running out of time. We must continue to address the issue before the next Sandy hits.

Oh No Ozone

This week I read some interesting news about the ozone hole above the Antarctic: it’s the smallest it’s been in 20 years.

But don’t let the headline fool you. The size of the ozone hole fluctuates according to the temperature and because this year was unseasonably warm, the hole was smaller. So, larger ozone holes are associated with very cold winters and vise versa.

I find this fascinating that the miserably hot summer and drought all of us endured actually had a beneficial effect on the ozone. The way it works is the CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) that destroy the ozone layer have a harder time breaking down ozone particles when it’s hot.

Scientists say, however, the size varies a lot year to year and unfortunately, they don’t expect it to get back to its original state until 2060.

Knowing more about this ozone hole fluctuation isn’t just interesting, but I think it’s important for anyone who has a passion about the environment to understand. After-all, the ozone hole was one of the first real signs that humans were causing climate change.