Thursday, June 3, 2010

More on Being Green

Today I learned that the the La Jolla town council may get sued for sponsoring fireworks on the 4th of July - as it has done for more years than I can remember - because they pollute the ocean. Fair enough. Never thought about fireworks as a pollutant, but from setting them off in my backyard (when I lived back East!) I know there is always some black residue on the grass and shards of paper. And of course what we set off ourselves never compares to what cities do across the country on the 4th of July. I don't know the answer to this, but do you think that the pollution emitted by fireworks display on this one day of the year is more or less than we put into our rivers and streams on a daily basis - all year long. I'm guessing it's less, a lot less. Shouldn't we spend more time focusing on the big problems - GULF COAST - and less time on the lesser ones. And remember, that unlike Katrina - a verifiable NATURAL disaster - BP's oil spill was the result of a long-standing corporate policy of shortcuts when it comes to the environment. The only thing green about BP was its ad campaign. But I digress.

I may be wrong, but I have to say I'm in favor of the fireworks. So many San Diegans have come to enjoy them on our national holiday celebrating the birth of this country. Is that too much to ask? Couldn't we conserve more elsewhere?

Here's a few ideas:

Meeting the nation's bottled water demand requires more than 1.5 million barrels of oil annually? A fraction of what has been spilled in the gulf so far (20+ million, according to PBS' Gulf Leak Meter), but it's enough to fuel 100,000 cars for a year! Though so many people ask for it, we avoid bottled water at Cups - unless it comes in one of our reusable sport water bottles made from recycled materials.

Each person in the US throws out about 4 lbs. of garbage every day - do your part by reusing, recycling, or composting. We have separate bins throughout Cups for staff and patrons to separate trash from recyclables, and we're adding a compost bin.

The amount of wood and paper we throw away is enough to heat 50 million homes for 20 years. For every ton of paper recycled, we save 7,000 gallons of water free from chemicals and 17 trees. We try to keep printing to a minimum, opting for digital information; otherwise we use recycled paper - twice!

It takes 500 years for plastic to breakdown. At cups we discourage the use of disposable food containers and tableware, but what we do use is made from corn, not plastic, and compostable.

If just 1 in 10 households in the US bought Energy Star-labeled heating and cooling equipment, the change would keep 18 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions out of the air (the equivalent of taking 1.5 million cars off the road).

If every household in the US turned the thermostat down 10 degrees at night during winter and the 7-8 hours each day while at work, it would prevent nearly 36 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions (roughly equal to the emissions of 10 million cars) with a utility bill savings of $150/year.

It seems to me that it's the little things like this that we do every day that really have an impact - and not the big ones every once in a while. Unless we're talking about BP....


  1. Great reminder what impact our daily choices have and small changes make a big difference.

  2. Thanks for the feedback - much appreciated!