Filed under: General, Green education, Waste diversion | Tags: annie leonard, the story of stuff, trash, video, waste, waste reduction
I stumbled across a pretty cool video today called “The Story of Stuff.” It’s a pretty brief video at 20 minutes long, and you can watch it online instantly at this website. It’s gives a super-informative look at all the ways we consume in today’s society, and especially here in America. Tracing the path from extraction (of natural resources) to production (of stuff) to distribution throughout the world to consumption and ending in disposal, it provides a pretty strong critique of the consumerism that has come to define us, and ends by suggesting some alternative models to consumption. If you feel like you already know a lot about, say, extraction of natural resources, you can skip around to the parts of the consumer cycle that interest you, or that you might not know that much about. While some parts might seem outside of the mainstream to the average viewer (especially the consumption section!), the narrator makes some great points, and I definitely recommend you check it out.
This video emphasizes a really important aspect of BMUN’s sustainability measures that we’ve been working on: waste diversion and a reduction in our overall consumption. By reducing the amount of paper printed for position papers that are read a few times and then trashed, and by diverting recyclables from landfills, we are cutting down on our overall consumption. It’s something that you might not think is all that big of a deal in our personal lives, but consider this one statistic I picked up in the video: the average American produces 4.5 pounds of trash a day. That’s 1642.5 pounds a year! Per person! I don’t even want to think about multiplying that number by 300 million, the approximate number of American citizens. If we can work to divert or reduce that number at a personal level, imagine the savings!
It’s the little things we do that count, but working to consider the bigger issues can’t hurt either. When you see a business that you think could be doing something to improve its sustainability, don’t be shy! You can talk to a manager, or write a letter to the company. Oftentimes they appreciate the recommendation, and if you emphasize your concern about sustainability in terms of your patronage, they will surely take note. Think about what you can do to improve your own sustainability, and work in increasing concentric circles to spread the word to family, friends and the businesses you visit regularly. These are just a few ways to consider sustainability in your own life!
Filed under: Food, Recent news, Sustainable purchases | Tags: carbon footprint, FDA, greenwashing, natural, orange juice, twinkies
Read a cool article on New York Times a couple of days ago about Tropicana (owned by PepsiCo) which recently considered the question, “How much does your morning glass of orange juice contribute to global warming?” They calculated all of the aspects of producing orange juice in a carton – ranging from the growth of the oranges, to their processing, packaging, and shipping. While I was reading, I assumed that the shipping (from growth of the orange to production site to your friendly local grocery store) would be the biggest culprit of emissions. Surprisingly, it found that the orange groves themselves were the largest source. (You’ll have to read the article to find out why!)
It’s interesting that PepsiCo would choose to embark on calculations of these sort, but not surprising. The author of this article suggests that with growing consumer awareness about “green” products, there will be rising demand for ads that emphasize a low “carbon footprint.” But how to tell the difference between factual calculations, and false claims of sustainability, commonly known as “greenwashing” – which I’ve blogged about in a previous post? It’s a tough line to draw! Think about it.
How often do you see products that claim they are green, or help to improve the environment? Ever seen the word “natural” used on a food product – and did you know it means exactly nothing? It’s a claim that virtually ANY food (including Twinkies!) is allowed by the FDA to declare, since if you trace an ingredient back, eventually it came from a “natural” source. So think twice the next time you see a label that promises it is “all-natural,” and think harder about where your food comes from and how it got to you.
Filed under: Green education, Recent news | Tags: cell phone, Center for Biological Diversity, endangered species, ringtone
Thought to share with you a cool article I recently read about cell phone ringtones. What does this have to do with sustainability?Well, the ringtones sound the “call of the wild” of a particular endangered species once you download it. The tones are made possible by the Center for Biological Diversity, a cool non-profit that does work to protect at-risk species across the globe. Check out their site and you can read about all kinds of fascinating animals (from the Andrew’s dune scarab beetle to the Xantus’s murrelet and everything in between) and why they’re endangered. A couple of them are pictured in this blog, too. You can donate to support their mission on their website. I’m not clear on whether the ringtone profits are actually donated directly to support the specific animals you choose to screech or bellow on your cell, but in any case, what a cool way to raise awareness about endangered species!
Filed under: Green education, Recent news | Tags: Commission on Sustainable Development, U.N. leadership, U.N. reform, United Nations, world government
I came across an article on UN reform, the economic crisis, and the environmental issues that future leaders of world government will need to address on the New York Times web page recently. I wrote about it for BMUN’s Commission on Sustainable Development (of which I am the head chair) and realized it’s a pretty relevant subject to sustainability as well. I’ve pasted some of what I wrote on the CSD blog below:
The author states that emerging nations like “China, India, Brazil and Indonesia now account for most of the world’s economic growth,”and notes that China is in fact the United States’ biggest creditor currently. And yet the Security Council and other major facets of world government continue to reflect countries whose power may have been at a peak 50 years ago. What do you think the leadership in the U.N. should reflect?
One of the most interesting parts of the article is about the 6th paragraph down, regarding the changes that globalization has had on the international economy, and the serious economic and environmental issues (like climate change, world poverty, energy sources, and nuclear proliferation) that future leaders of these countries will need to address. To what extent can sustainability and concern for the environment be fused with a need for economic growth?
Just a little something to think about!
Filed under: Event Planning, General, Waste diversion | Tags: berkeley model united nations, compost, recycle, reduce reuse recycle, sustainability, waste reduction
Hello, readers! I apologize for the lack of posting over the last few weeks – the internet at my house has been out for about two weeks and I have nearly been driven mad without regular access! In any case, I have much news to share with you pertaining to sustainability. Look for many more updates from me in the next few weeks as school comes back into session and the conference date is fast approaching.
I want to take this post to share with everyone just a few of the measures BMUN 57 will be taking during the conference that I am spearheading as the club’s sustainability coordinator. Most of these measures fall under the sustainability mantra of “reduce, reuse, recycle” that you may be familiar with.
I’d also like to open the floor to anyone who has other suggestions about how we can incorporate a more sustainable lifestyle into the conference itself. Please post a reply if you’ve got any ideas of your own! Or email me at
1) Projecting MUN resolutions instead of printing them – to conserve printing loads of paper that would be used once or twice and then scrapped
2) Requiring online submission of position papers – for the same reason as listed above
3) Making available compost and recycling bins at major points of access throughout the conference weekend
4) Encouraging the use of tap water: with our customized BMUN canteens and with signs letting delegates know where the nearest water fountain can be found
5) Supporting local, eco-friendly restaurants
To read more, check out the full explanations on BMUN’s page here.