We really covered a lot of material in class this semester. From Health, to science to the environment. I am an environmental studies major, but I still found the health section to be very interesting. I never really thought that deeply about the health of our country. I knew that there were problems that were occurring. But I never thought about why they occur, or who is dealing with these problems. There is probably so much more information about health available. Different types of research, different studies and loads of papers written on the subject. But I feel all that we covered in the class, has given me a great foundation to learn more about this issue and be more aware of the issue in the future. What really struck a chord with me was the fact that in many cities, your Zip code is better at predicting your life expectancy than your genetic code. When you really think about it. This makes total sense. People in the rich neighborhoods have a chance to have better health because they have more time for exercise, they feel safe, they have money to spend on healthy food, and can visit the doctor regularly. While people with fewer resources have a harder time finding time to exercise, have less money to pay for doctor visits and have less access to healthy food. From the science portion of the class, I learned that we really need to focus more on teaching science to our young people. It is an often overlooked subject and as a result, we are falling behind the rest of the world. With so much technology and scientific advancements, it is important that we all understand science and how it impacts our lives. But it seems like nowadays, most people just don’t care about science, and that needs to change. From the environment section. The biggest takeaway that I got from the environment proportion of the class was how much have an impact consumerism has on the environment and us as well. We make so much stuff that destroys the earth, then we just throw it away in 6months and want something new. We work so hard to get all of these items and it has an effect on our happiness because as soon as we get what we want, something better comes out and we want that instead. It is a vicious cycle that we need to break from. Which is why I am trying to not buy anything new and if I really want to get something, I will try to find a used version for a much lower price.
By: Tom Walters
Last week in class we discussed a lot of the problems that are going on in the environment. There seems to be so many problems, that are almost impossible to solve. But when there is a will there is a way! I have a tiny solution to the problem (pun intended) And that is tiny houses. I remember in the Documentary “before the flood” that we watched in class, they said that Americans use as much as 60 times the amount of energy per person in other countries! That is just insanity. Now how can tiny houses solve our energy uses? Simply just by using less energy to heat, cool, and power them. A typical house about 3,500 square feet releases 28,000 pounds of CO2 per year and a tiny house will only release about 2,000 pounds of CO2 a year. This could be even less if you powered your tiny home with solar panels or wind power. Also, a lot fewer resources are used to build a tiny home. An average size house uses about 7 logging trucks to provide lumber for an average house while a tiny home uses only ½ a logging truck.
Also what I think is the coolest part of a tiny home is that they are mobile! Say you get a new job, instead of throwing away your stuff and moving to a new city and buying new stuff, you can just hook your house up to a rental truck and move your home to the new city. This way you don’t have to buy new stuff every time you move! Then maybe you could move in close to work so you could walk or bike to work instead of driving every day. They are also economical because you will pay less for your energy bills, and once you cover the initial price of the tiny home, you don’t have to pay rent. Yes, tiny homes might not be for everyone, especially if you have a large family. But for some people, it might be just right for them and they could really help reduce the amount of carbon dioxide and greenhouse gasses emitted in America.
By: Tom Walters
American Plastic Lumber INC is a company that produces plastic that looks like wood and lumber, which can be used to build fences, benches, and bridges. Pretty much anything you can build with lumber, you can build with their products. APL Claims that its products are made 100% from recycled materials such as milk jugs and detergent containers. They are very adamant about this. This is the center of their marketing strategy that they use recyclable materials and that they are an environmentally friendly company. The Idea of using plastic lumber seems to be a brilliant idea. We can build what we need to build without chopping down trees or using fossil fuels to produce even more plastic. But, unfortunately, we have been bamboozled. It turns out that the product is not as environmentally friendly as the APL company advertises. The FTC did a study on the American Plastic lumber INC, it turns out that “in reality the products contained less than 79 percent post-consumer content, on average.” Also “about eight percent of APL’s products contained no post-consumer recycled content at all, and nearly seven percent of the products were made with only 15 percent post-consumer content.” This seems even worse when the company strongly advertised that its products are 100% made out of recycled materials. Now 79% recycled materials seem pretty good, better than 0% recycled material, but imagine if you ordered a hamburger and on average it was only 79% beef. You might think twice about ordering that hamburger. This is the 7th sin of greenwashing. They flat out lied to their customers. It is a shame that this product isn’t completely 100% made from recycled materials. I believe it is a good alternative to using wood for building. But it just goes to show, you really have to do your research before you buy your product, because even when companies claim that they are green, they may just be lying to you.
By: Tom Walters
Companies want to sell to people who want to be green and protect the earth. It is a large market and they are concerned about their bottom line. So they produce products that Produce less CO2, Don’t harm animals, or are built from recycled materials. One company who uses this green advertisement strategy is Toyota especially when they are selling their Prius. The Prius is a hybrid car and uses less fuel and produces less CO2 than the conventional car. But Making the Prius is not a very green process. The Batteries use rare metals that have to be mined from the earth. Different parts have to be shipped around the world to the factory, and then the car as to be assembled which uses energy and then the car has to be shipped to a dealer near you for you to purchase it. So before you even buy the car, the parts and the final product itself might have traveled hundreds of miles. Maybe even thousands! Now, because of all the extra mining shipping and a larger energy input into the car, does this make the Prius less environmentally friendly than a conventional car? In short no. When both a Prius and a conventional car are compared over a 160,000-mile life time, the conventional car still pollutes and uses more energy over its life time.
But the point that I am trying to make here is that even the products that we perceive as “green” aren’t actually as green as we think. The only true green product is no product at all. The green option when it comes to transportation would be to walk, bike or take public transport to where you want to go. But in the situation where public transportation is poor (ahem, basically everywhere in America) The Prius is a much greener option than a conventional car. Just keep in mind when you see an advertisement that is supposedly green, it might be greener just to not purchase that product at all!
By Tom Walters
“I don’t want to be the guy with the green text messages.” Technology changes so fast that it seems like as soon as you get that new phone or computer, it is already obsolete. You can’t update it to run on the new operating system or even something as simple as the color of text messages changing and not wanting to be different from everyone else. We are constantly needing to change our devices because they just become unusable or we become embarrassed of them.
Don’t get me wrong, technology is an amazing thing and we should always keep on improving and creating new and faster technology, but is there a way that we can upgrade our current devices to keep them out of a landfill? My Mac that I am using today cost me almost a month of pay. That is a lot of money that most people can’t afford and they have to throw away after a few years of use.
Also there is the problem of companies producing products with planned obsolescence so just a year or so after your warranty, you will have to buy a new product from them. A lot of times, it might be cheaper to just buy a whole new product than to fix your old product. Because of this, Dumps are filled with old broken technology. A lot of our old products are shipped overseas because it is cheaper than recycling them. And if the products are recycled, it can actually be another source of pollution. The best way to solve this problem would be if companies could refurbish old cell phones, computers, and tablets and make them run just as well if they were brand new. This is easier said than done. But it is better than having giant mounds of old technology that people spent their hard earned money on.
By: Tom Walters
In class last week we talked about how the cost of the products are hidden and what we pay for them isn’t even close to the actual coast of our product. We pay for it with the destruction of the earth and Mistreatment of human workers. First off when we buy products we don’t really think about where they come from.
The label may say china or japan but different components of the product may have been shipped all around the world to china, where it was assembled and then shipped to America on a boat and then shipped to your local shop on a semi-truck or train. Just think about how far your phone traveled for you to buy it or even something as simple as how far your cotton T-shirt traveled. You may pay for shipping for your product, but you don’t pay for the pollution for that all this transportation creates.
We also often don’t think about the workers that made the product that we bought. Are the workers treated right, do they make fair wages? Do they get health care or benefits? Do they get time off or vacation? Does this company use Child labor to create their products? Are we ruining the future of a poor child in another country who had no option but to work at the factory?
We might think that when we saw something that is on sale or at such a low price that it is a such a low price, we get very excited and purchase it right away, but we end up paying for it in the long run. Especially when it comes to how the earth is affected by the transportation of the product to the pollution from the factory that made it, to the destruction of the forests and land to make the product.
By: Tom Walters
So far there has been two presidential debates. The debates are important to so the voters can know where the candidates stand on controversial topics. I have not been pleased with either candidate’s performance because both have really focused on what was said what was said or done 20 years ago instead of focusing on the actual issues at hand. So far they have only talked about their stance on one science issue. Kenneth Bone, one of the undecided voters in the audience, asked the question “What steps will your energy policy take to meet our energy needs while at the same time remaining environmentally friendly and minimizing job layoffs?” which spurred about a six-minute discussion on what the candidate’s opinion on what energy will be like in the future in the united states. This is a very short amount of time out of 90-minute debate. This is just one example of how science has taken the back seat in America. It is often an over looked topic. It is thought that voters care more about the candidate’s stance on foreign policy, tax plans, or stance on social issues than they do on science issues. But there is still a large portion of the population who want to know where the candidates stand on science and technology. There is a petition online that you can fill out for the candidates to debate science topics in the next debate. On their page http://sciencedebate.org they claim that “91% of Democrats & 88% of Republicans say presidential candidates should debate science issues.” That is a staggering amount people that would want to hear more about science in the debate. So why don’t they talk about science in the debate? It’s an important topic, and people would like to hear more about it. Maybe it is because Science is generally talked about less in the media. What do you think? Should science questions be put incorporated into the third and final debate? Or would you like to hear about other topics?
By: Tom Walters