Posts Tagged ‘environmental impact’

That show last night was pretty depressing!” Hubby Prad did not sleep well after watching ‘We Were Warned: Out of Gas‘, the latest in CNN’s Special Investigations Unit series. Neither did I. Listening to most of the comments in the show, you would never know we are at the brink of a planetary disaster. Hardly any mention of conservation. No, instead it is all about looking everywhere in search of yet more oil, no matter what the cost. Cost in dollars per barrel. And more importantly, cost to our future in terms of carbon emissions.

Never before has the addiction to oil metaphor been more apt. Big Oil is leaving no soil unturned, no ocean unprobed, to satisfy our need for our daily oil fix.

Now, here’s the part that really, really got to me, best conveyed in trailer for new movie, Pay Dirt:

Just when I thought  coal mountain top removal was as bad as it could get . . . 

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On the second day of the Daily Footprint Project, my attention is drawn to a single plastic bag. I inherited it when I bought the prepackaged red organic grapes at Whole Foods. We have eaten all the grapes. Now, what to do with the bag? It has holes in it for airing the grapes, so we can’t really use it for anything else. I look for any kind of recycling directive. No indication that the stuff is recyclable. What to do?


Interestingly, earlier in the day I found the New York Times Science Section’s article on microscopic plastics in the ocean. The article is a nice complement to the ‘Synthetic Sea’, the video I featured in one of my earlier posts. Here is what the article says: The researchers looked at how plastic particles picked up a pollutant, phenanthrene. They found that plastic adsorbed far more of the chemical than sediments. The particles could be carried by currents and eaten by organisms far from the sources, or they could sink to the bottom. The researchers estimated that even tiny amounts of plastic could significantly increase the concentration of phenanthrene in a common sediment-ingesting worm, the lugworm, and from there accumulate up the food chain.

Reading the article, and then staring at the plastic bag with holes, made me come up with this image. It’s called ‘The Circle of Plastic’ and it goes like this:

plastic bag is not recyclable → I throw it in garbage → plastic bag ends up in landfill → storm comes and washes it down into stream → plastic bag makes its way to the ocean → plastic bag gets broken down into microscopic particles → particles pick up phenanthrene → lugworm eats the stuff → small fish eats worm → big fish eats small fish → man catches big fish → big fish ends up at my grocery store → I buy piece of big fish → fish man wraps it up in plastic bag → I feed phenanthrene impregnated fish to my family → plastic bag is not recyclable

Circle completed. Next time, I will buy grapes at the farmers’ market where they come in bulk. And I will ask the fishman to bypass the plastic bag. Two paper wrappers should be sufficient.

I also went on the town’s website for recycling instructions and looked up their guidelines for plastics:

  • Recyclable plastics: #1 and #7 containers (e.g., beverage. milk, soda, water, detergent, shampoo, lotion, yogurt, margarine)

  • Non recyclable plastics: food contaminated plastics, film plastic (e.g., plastic bags, shrink wrap, bubble wrap)

Prad thinks we can gather all our non recyclable plastics, and bring them directly to the town’s recycling center, where they have a special bin for it. One solution could be to gather all our reject plastics and bring them once a week to the center. I will need to investigate this some more.

Daily Footprint Project
Daily Log
Day #2


toilet flush 2
wash hands 5
showers at gym 2
wash face 2
brush teeth 2
run dishwasher full load
rinse dishes
rinse salad


desk light 3hours
laptop on since all day
laptop plugged in overnight
microwave tea 2'
microwave oatmeal 4'
microwave soup 2'
toaster oven for toasts 2'
microwave hot chocolate 2'
run dishwasher full load
fry two eggs on stove


organic raspberries
cup of tea with organic milk
organic oatmeal with organic whole milk
cup of soup (leftovers from Whole Foods)
organic grapes
toast two bread halves Catherine’s breakfast
hot chocolate
two organic eggs
organic salad


one toasted bread half
three newspaper wrappers
grapes bag, are these things recyclable?
1 spoiled tomatoe
1 old radishes
1 old bunch of thyme


pick up Prad at airport 44miles
go with Prad to gym 6miles extra 3 miles to get rope for Catherine

Non food shopping

synthetic gold rope 10yards for Catherine’s Halloween costume

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I spent this week thinking about what would make sense for the daily footprint project. Here is what I decided:

  • to make things as simple as possible
  • yet be as detailed and accurate as possible
  • to make it easy for anyone else to replicate the experiment
  • to document with photos whenever applicable

The 6 main categories of impact I will document are:

  • water
  • electricity/gas
  • food
  • garbage (take photos)
  • transportation (in miles)
  • non food shopping (take photos)

Each category will be divided between activities/consumptions that are:

  1. strictly personal
  2. parenting related
  3. tied to overall functioning of household

That should cover everything. I will also document whatever thoughts, feelings, ideas, come up in the process. That part of the experiment is probably the most important. I will continue the experiment until I feel I have learned as much as I can from it. A second phase will involve quantifying the various types of activities in terms of water use and carbon impact.

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