Saying that nothing lasts forever is about as true as saying everything lasts forever. The truth is that most things just change over time. For example, skeptics have asked, if the wasteful choices made in our economies are contributing to giant garbage patches in our oceans, why are they not increasing in size? It is because the plastic is breaking down to very small pieces, thus occupying the same space, but more densely. It is also being eaten by fish and birds and sea turtles and moving with the weather, where it then returns in rain on our soil where it’s eaten again.
We all are consumers and create trash and refuse, waste and pollution. Having an awareness of where things come from or how things are made and what we are actually eating can be helpful in reinventing how we live. We are facing serious global issues of climate change and food security while increasing environmental catastrophes like the oil spill in the Gulf and the nuclear crisis in Japan are potentially unfixable and the outcomes to our ocean world are unknown.
I have been asked to summarize the benefits of reduce, reuse, recycle and explain how we can solve some of these problems, by growing more local food, learning about renewable energy, and how both can create green collar jobs to strengthen and build a more sustainable community.
Reducing our consumption of goods is smart, responsible, and good for Earth. Reducing the amount of waste entering the landfill will help to lengthen the life of the landfill and will also reduce harmful emissions and water contaminates caused by the waste material breaking down. Reducing is conserving and limiting waste while still living comfortably.
Reusing anything or fixing something to make it last a little longer, not only saves money but uses less energy and creates less waste when a new one is not needed.
Recycling saves the resource and the energy needed to mine, process, and ship the ore used to make a product. Recycling also saves additional significant energy when making a product from a recovered resource. It will take approximately 96% less energy to make an aluminum can from recycled aluminum than from ore.
In Alaska we produce less than 5% of our own food. If we could not import we would be out of food in 5 days. Living in the Valley that may seem unbelievable, but the Valley is a very unique and small area in the relative size and geological make-up of our great state. In other words let’s use or land area effectively and farm where we can farm. Don’t forget that food scraps are terrific for compost piles and so is yard waste. We can build gardens and promote even bigger farming opportunities here in the Valley. There are good jobs in food production and manufacturing.
As fossil fuels diminish and become more scarce nations will continue to fight for these resources. To reduce the tension, and speed a transition to alternative energy sources, we are learning about ways to create the electricity we need, the heat for our homes, and the fuel for our vehicles, all from renewable energy sources. In the mean time we should all find ways to reduce our consumption to save money, conserve the resources, and protect our air and water quality. There are many opportunities emerging in the renewable energy field and it is only in its infancy.
Our community supported student organization, the Mat-Su Carbon Crew, is reducing, reusing, and recycling. We are growing more food and learning about renewable energy to help create green collar jobs and build healthy, safe, sustainable communities. We can create the jobs we need right here by growing the food we need and by producing the energy we need and by promoting the peace which will come when we are not fighting over resources.
Peace and Love,
Mat-Su Carbon Crew