Food Waste: Economic and Environmental Issue

Ron Nixon talks in This article about how there is an excessive amount of food waste all over the world and that we need to not only find a better way to recycle it, but to avoid having so much waste in the first place.

Production of food has major impacts on the environment. It requires large amounts of water, fertilizer, and land. Fuel is also burned in order to process, refrigerate, and transport the food.

There are 60 million metric tons of food wasted and 32 million metric tons end up in landfills.

[(32 million metric tons in landfills)/(60 million metric tons of total food waste)] x 100 = 53%

Over half of food waste ends up in landfills. That being said, food waste in landfills accounts for 3.3 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases- which is about 7% of emissions.

There have been movements in some major US cities towards reducing food waste that ends up in landfills, but supplying grants to restaurants who take initiative to recycle their waste at the end of the night.

Reducing food waste 20-50% could save up to $120-300 billion dollars by 2030. So the question is why is it so hard to recycle food? If we want to live a sustainable life, we need to find the balance between a sustainable amount of food and wht is just too much.

What Can Save the Rainforest?

OLD CELL PHONES!

This is actually a really cool TED talk, given by Topher White.

According to White, it’s hard to hear anything that goes on in the rainforest this explains why there is so much illegal logging going on that isn’t heard and then isn’t able to be stopped.

I really just like that this idea is so simple. It recycles old cell phones and uses the cell phone signals that are already there in order to stop the illegal logging. The design White uses is also inventive in that it takes into consideration the movement of the sun and the leaves of the trees.

Just think about all he other inventions we can create using recycled materials…

 

Is the Growth of Renewable Energy Fast Enough?

Renewable energy is not on the rise, it is on the fast track. In 2014, worldwide investment in renewable energy was $270.2 billion- as seen in the graph below, a 17% increase from the previous year:

RENEWimrsScreenshot (19)

 

solar investment: [($149.6 billion)/($270.2 billion)] x 100 = 55 % of total investment

wind investment: [($99.5 billion)/($270.2 billion)] x 100 = 36 % of total investment

WInd and solar are leaving every other category of renewable energy in the dust as this past year they made up 91% of investments. There is progress in that renewable energy was up from 8.5% in 2013 to 9.1% of total world energy generation, in 2014. But as great as the progress is, this article, makes it clear that renewable energy has nothing on fossil energy.

“The study notes that the International Energy Agency has outlined a “450 scenario” in which the world limits carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere to 450 parts per million ” and being able to stay below 2 degrees Celsius of warming, but even with the current trends, there isn’t much hope that we will be able to put off crossing over the 450 threshold.

It’s going to take a lot more investing in renewable resources and policy implementations in order for us to prevent the world from heating up 2 degrees Celsius.

The inaccuracy and fallacies of pick oil theory Part 2

Will there be peak oil? The answer is actually yes. However, it won’t be the same as the peak oil situation described in Hubbert’s peak oil theory. As my title said, the peak oil is inaccurate. One of the biggest reason for that is that it oversimplified the situations and elements associated with oil production. According to Gold Russell’s Why Peak-Oil Predictions Haven’t Come True, what will limits the oil production is not the natural limits but the economic limits: “When the oil industry overcomes an obstacle and boosts oil production, costs typically increase. That opens the door for a better and cheaper energy source that will eventually displace crude oil.” As Michael Shellenberger,president of the Breakthrough Institute, an energy and climate think tank in Oakland, Calif, said: “There will be peak oil, but it will be [because of] peak consumption…What we all want is to move to better, cheaper and cleaner sources of energy”, the end of the oil industry will be the result of other efficient clean energy forms’ pervasive appealing and the negative economic effect brought by the overdeveloped oil industry (which is not associated with the natural reserves of the oil). “No mineral, including oil, will ever be exhausted. If and when the cost of finding and extraction goes above the price consumers are willing to pay, the industry will begin to disappear,” wrote by Morris Adelman, a late petroleum economist and a professor emeritus of economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in “The Genie out of the Bottle: World Oil Since 1970,”

peak oil 2

Why Peak-Oil Predictions Haven’t Come True http://www.wsj.com/articles/why-peak-oil-predictions-haven-t-come-true-1411937788

 

Incandes-great!

The traditional incandescent light bulb has not changed much over the years, and varies very little from the early light bulbs. In the past having electricity in your home was a huge step forward and the use of electricity to light a house was cherished. But, over the years the way we use electricity and how much electricity we use has changed drastically. Today the amount of energy used in lighting has increased significantly and the usage of lighting has also changed. Even though there have been so many changes and increases in the use of electricity one thing that remains constant is the technology used to make incandescent bulbs, which are still commonly used today. These bulbs are very inefficient, converting only about 5 percent of the energy they receive into light.

But there is hope! New technologies have resulted in energy saving light bulbs, known as CFL’s. CFL stands for compact fluorescent lamp and these work in a similar manner to traditional fluorescent bulbs.CFL light bulbs are as reliable as traditional light bulbs, and they are also longer lasting while still using less energy than traditional bulbs. Energy Star qualified CFL bulbs use about 75 percent less energy than standard incandescent bulbs and last up to 10 times longer. Nationwide, a 60 percent to 70 percent decrease in light energy usage would save as much energy annually as the total amount of energy used by all the homes in Texas. This one small change can have a huge impact on not only the efficiency of your own individual home but also on the environment and can help turn your home into an “energy efficient home.”  According to the Energy Star Website, an Energy Star qualified-CFL bulb will pay for itself in six months and save about $30 in electricity over its lifetime. Also, the United States could eliminate greenhouse gas emissions equal to 800,000 cars if each household in the country replaced just one incandescent bulb with a CFL bulb, according to Energy Star.

In the past many people have been put off by energy efficient bulbs because of their appearance. However, today there is a wide range and selection of energy efficient bulbs and the traditional light bulb shape has been replicated in addition to a wide range of other styles and sizes. So make the switch to a CFL bulb and save not only money but the environment as well!

http://www.earthsfriends.com/cfl-vs-incandescent/

http://greenlivingideas.com/2015/02/19/the-true-cost-of-light-bulbs-led-cfl-incandescent/

http://energy.gov/energysaver/articles/how-energy-efficient-light-bulbs-compare-traditional-incandescents

http://www.designrecycleinc.com/led%20comp%20chart.html

Tragedy of the Traffic?

The video above helps to explain tragedy of the commons and how it can relate to life.

Public roads are an example of common property shared by many people. A modern example of a “tragedy of the commons” is traffic jams in major cities. Every person on the road has a mindset of their own and looks out for themselves. The road can be considered a public good that gets overused and lessened in value for everyone.  When everyone decides that public roads are the best way to meet traveling needs, the roads jam up and slows down overall traffic movement, filling the air with pollutants from idling cars. Each individual trying to get to work quickly uses the freeway because it is the fastest route. At the start, each additional person on the highway does not slow down traffic because there is enough space in the highway to absorb the extra cars.  At some point each additional driver brings about a decrease in the average speed and an increase in the amount of pollutants from the cars. Eventually, there are so many drivers that traffic is moving at an exceptionally slow pace. This happens because each person seeking to diminish driving time has increased the overall driving time for everyone. The problem is that individuals acting in their own interests feel immediate gain from their actions. But the losses from the impact of global warming and time spent are not felt immediately. People can get on the highway and drive fast for a while but eventually the traffic will slowdown and the idle cars will produce more pollution than they would have done if they had taken a local road.A solution requires people to collectively make a decision to alter the behavior of everyone, including themselves.

http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/ten-reallife-examples-of-the-tragedy-of-the-common.html

http://www.planetseed.com/relatedarticle/tragedy-commons

The Push for [Environmentally Friendly] Kush

The legalization of Marijuana is a hot issue today. Many states have approved the use of Medical marijuana, and a few have now allowed limited personal possession, as well as the option to apply for a license to produce and sell. Now that businesses, in approving states, are producing Marijuana, the industry is starting to emerge, and will only continue to grow in years to come. See the graph below:

CANNABIS

 

This is where there is a problem with sustainability. Indoor Marijuana growth is favored in the industry, but it uses an astonishing amount of energy. This article, outlines Gina Warren’s paper, “Regulating Pot to Save the Polar Bear: Energy and Climate Impacts of the Marijuana Industry,” which will be in the Columbia Journal of Environmental Law, as well as a 2012 Study of the “Carbon Footprint of Indoor Cannabis Production.” Indoor cannabis production “uses $6 billion worth of electricity every year- which is 1% of overall US electricity.” The reason production uses so much energy is because of certain techniques needed to be performed on the plant.

1 kilogram of final product = 4,600 kg Carbon Dioxide emissions

With the industry predicted to boom in the near-future, we cannot afford for it to be increasing our CO emissions. Just think if Marijuana grows 20% like predicted from the graph in the next year, so will CO emissions and it’s not just from indoor production, outdoor production has an effect on the other plants growing in the area- not to mention producers wanting to clear forests and natural lands for production space.  Politically we are all divided on the issue of legalizing Marijuana, but one thing that can bring us together is the evident need for implementing environmental protections with regards to Cannabis production. If we are going to make sure that every other industry old and new- in the US is going green then it is only fair we do the same for marijuana. Just think how easy environmental protection laws would be to regulate since the industry is so new, that it has to be regulated anyhow!

Automatic Bill Payments are Driving Your Energy Usage Up the Wall

Today we are all overly attached to our smartphones and simply have no time for anything. Automatic Bill payment is on the rise in today’s technologically savvy society. It’s simple, it’s easy, it’s effortless, it’s driving up your energy consumption, AND omitting Carbon Dioxide into the atmosphere!

According to this article by Chris Mooney, many people who partake in automatic bill payments are sent reports that compare their energy usage levels with others around them, as well as making them aware of their unnoticed energy-wasting habits. It’s because of these reports and awareness programs that you actually end up using more energy; and because your payments are automatic, you probably don’t regularly check how much your being billed.

In this article it has a few quotes from Economist, Steve Sexton, Duke University, and a study that he has done with regards to the effects of automatic bill payment. Sexton found that “in 2010, automatic bill pay led to an estimated $1.8 billion in bills and 8.6 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere which is equivalent to the annual consumption of 1.5 typical American houses.”

So this means:

[($1.82 billion in extra bills due to automatic bill payment)/(8.6 million metric tons of CO emitted die to automatic bill payment)] = $211.62

So for every additional $211.62 spent die to extra energy costs, 1 metric ton of CO is emitted into the atmosphere.

It’s not that we need to stop automatic bill payment all together, but that we need to be smart about it. We should all be aware of our daily energy usage and should check to make sure we aren’t increasing it causing an increased bill payment.

Water you Doing? Don’t be Stupid!

Tons of Americans are spending way more a month on their water bills than they should be NOT TO MENTION wasting millions trillions of gallons of water due to small leaks around the house. According to this article, we need to start taking initiative and fix our leaks!

1 faucet leaking per minute = 34 wasted gallons of water per year

BUT a normal faucet leaks 10 times per minute which then equals 526 wasted gallons of water per year

34 wasted gallons of water x 1 million homes with leaky faucets = 34 million gallons of water wasted a year

1 running toilet = 1,000 – 4,000 wasted gallons of water per day

lawn sprinkler systems with leaks = 6,300 wasted gallons of water each month

If you’re just an average homeowner who thinks that a leaky faucet, running toilet, or leaky sprinkler system are just no big deal, here’s how much water you’d be wasting a week:

Faucet: [(526 wasted gallons water per year per 10 leaks per minute)/(525,949 minutes per year] = 0.001 wasted gallons water per minute x 10,080 minutes per week = 10.08 wasted gallons of water per week

Toilet: 1,000 wasted gallons water per day x 7 days a week = 7,000 wasted gallons of water per week

Lawn system: [(6,300 wasted gallons water per month)/(4 weeks per month)] = 1,575 wasted gallons of water per week.

Total wasted gallons of water per week = 10.08 + 7,000 + 1,575 = 8, 585.08 gallons

Just by having what you would assume to be small leaks, are actually costing you close to 9,000 gallons of water, and your money, all going down the drain. That is too high. Granted, you might not have all 3 leaking at the same time, but still, they are all simple fixes that cost you or money down the road. We should all support the EPA in their “Fix A Leak” campaign especially now when some places in California are in a serious drought.

Safe Sex is Great Sex… the Push for Green Condoms

More than 5 billion condoms are sold each year. In fact, it was estimated that in 2005, 10.4 billion condoms were used world-wide. As you can see by the graph below, condom usage has been increasing over the years:

CONDOM

 

[Amongst males it has grown 66 – 54 = 12 % and females it has grown 53 – 38 = 15 %]

We’ve all grown up learning of safe sex practices and that condoms not only prevent pregnancies, but also against most STI’s. That being said, condoms are not biodegradable, cannot be flushed as they don’t disintegrate in water, and cannot be recycled. Condoms are taking up a decent portion of our landfills.

That being said, the positive effects of condoms outweigh the piles sitting in landfills. The biggest impact they’ve had is allowing the environmental revolution to be possible as the simplest form of birth control. Birth Control not only helps to keep the population at bay, but it reduces unplanned pregnancies which allow women wo aren’t in the position to be a mother, have a career or finish school.

Another way condoms are environmentally friendly is that they actually help save the Rainforest! According to the Rainforest-Alliance, cattle ranchers and rubber trappers disagree over rights to clear forest land. Rubber tapping is a completely sustainable practice and many countries in the Amazon, like Brazil, have sectioned off specific areas for rubber trappers to have that cannot be cut down, which is great seeing as 75% of Brazil’s Carbon Dioxide emissions came from deforestation.

according to this article, rubber trees can be harvested for 25 years or more and a high grade tree yields about 30 pounds of rubber a year. According to NPR, a tree can produce about 100,000 condoms.

This means that:

[(100,000 condoms produced by one tree)/(25 years of production)] = 4, 000 condoms produced a year per tree.

This brings us to the green condom. Many companies are starting to market a ‘Green Condom.’ For some companies this means using independent factories that were built specifically to use latex from rubber trees in the rainforests, for others it means less chemicals in condoms in order to, hopefully, find a way to have them biodegrade, or maybe even just a more eco-friendly package. Either way, according to Forbes, with the wy our society is starting to lean towards wanting everything in our lives to be as sustainable and ‘green’ as possible, it is a smart move for those ‘green’ condom companies to enter into this $1 billion-dollar-a-year market.

I think that it is smart for these smaller companies to be coming into the market with greener ways for safe sex. We all look for what is most sustainable, whether it be a reusable water bottle, or an electric car- why can’t we be green in every aspect of our lives? As a society we are all quick to talk about the next green thing- so why can’t we talk about the next generation of green condoms too? Especially since they bring awareness to saving the Rainforest!