Ten Square Miles

An Environmental Activism Resource

Author: Samantha DiFalco

Kill the K-Cup

 

K-Cups, the single serving coffee pods used in the Keurig coffee brewing machine have been on the high radar of environmentalists since their emergence several years ago. These pods are largely unrecycable and are cluttering landfills throughout the world. Enough K-Cups have been used and discarded that they could circle the earth over twelve times. An environmentalist websitewww.killthekcup.org has been started to try and eradicate the existence of K-Cups. If you feel strongly on this issue you should check out their website and sign their petition urging the banning of K-Cups. In addition, one thing you can do as a consumer to try and stop the plague of K-Cups is to simply stop buying them and make coffee like a normal person. And if you must use a Keurig, they do make reusable K-Cups.

Net Impact

Net Impact is an organization of more than 80,000 students and professions who are dedicated to making positive social and environmental change in the workplace and in the world as a whole. The Net Impact organization has chapters across the nation. If you attend school in Ithaca NY, both Ithaca College and Cornell have chapters. Especially for those who aspire to have a professional career in the business world, while promoting sustainable practices, Net Impact is a good way to get started. Check out their website at www.netimpact.org 

Rodale Institute

The Rodale Institute was founded as an organic learning farm. Located in Kutztown, Pennsylvania, this 333 acre farm does research to improve the productivity practices of organic farming.

They are committed to:
“…give farmers the tools and knowledge to increase soil health, crop quality and yields while simplifying farm management overall.

…ensure citizens feel confident the food they feed their families is good for them and for the world around them.”

The Rodale Farm is open for visitors for both self-guided and group tours. If you find yourself in the Lehigh Vally, a visit to the farm is a great way to spend the day. Also, check out their website at http://rodaleinstitute.org

Environmentally Friendly New Years Resolutions

We all know that when the new years rolls around we make resolutions to work out more, to eat better, to be more sociable. Most of these resolutions are discarded a few weeks into January but here are three New Years Resolutions that don’t require much work, but are healthy, both for you and the earth.
  1. Participate in Meatless Mondays: Throughout the world, people have taken the pledge to omit meat from their diet one day a week. Cutting out meat even one day a week will make you a healthier person as a large amount of meat processed in the United States are made with growth hormones and are fed with GMO grain. In addition meat can have a lot of fat which is bad for you. In addition, meat takes an enormous toll on the environment to produce. Every minute 20 football fields worth of rain forests are cleared mainly for the meet industry. Likewise, meat takes an enormous amount of water to produce. One single hamburger patty requires the same amount of water as you would need to shower for two months straight.
  2. Walk or Bike to work, school, or to visit friends: Biking is a great alternative to driving a car especially for short trips made in the warmer months. So as long as the route is biker friendly, biking is a great way to get from place to place. In addition to getting a great workout, you will not be contributing carbon admissions into the atmosphere.
  3. In the colder months it can be tempting to crank the thermostat up to keep warm, but by keeping it lower you will not only save a ton of energy, but you will save a significant amount of money on your heating bill. Wear sweaters, and keep blankets around for family members to use. Also if you live in an older house, check to ensure that your duct system is up to standard and the heat you do use can move around the house properly.
Three simple things you can do in the New Year to benefit both yourself and the environment.

Deforestation Infograph

deforestation

GMO OMG

The film GMO OMG, released in 2011 follows one fathers attempt to find out about what we are actually eating in our food, and the implications of consuming genetically altered food. After having children, Jeremy Seifert became increasing conscious about what he was feeding his family, and decided to set out on a journey to find out everything there is to know about GMOs or genetically modified organisms. All the while, filming and directing his independent film GMO OMG.

GMO OMG is a documentary that seeks to identify what GMOs are and why they are problematic to both humans and the environment. The film is both expository and participatory in nature. Expository as the filmmaker speaks to the audience directly throughout the length of the film both on screen and through narration. This expository modality works throughout the film to create a rapport between the filmmaker Seifert and the viewer that creates an ethos between the filmmaker and the viewer. Furthermore throughout the film Seifert is seen interacting with his children, furthering this ethos of the narrator as a person of high moral character fighting the capitalist monster that is GMOs. Moreover, the film is one that is of the participatory mode of documentary as there is a large number of interviews with professionals in the agriculture industry who deal with GMOs. Farmers, scientists, and food specialists all give their opinions with GMOs. The film lacks serious antagonist interviews as corporations who use GMO products generally decline interviews so as to avoid bad press. Overall, the film is mostly on-sided, however the information presented throughout the film creates a strong enough argument to draw the uninformed viewer on to the anti-GMO front.

Prior to viewing this film, I would consider myself somewhat informed on the issues of GMOs but after the film I feel much more informed as to what GMOs are. I believe that this film does a very good job of informing the average viewer about GMOs, in an lighthearted, appealing way. This film is interconnected with other environmental texts as well, for instance the 2014 film Dam Nation. Dam Nation is a piece that examines the environmental significance of dams throughout the United States, especially the impact on fish which cannot reach their spawning dams without climbing through fish ladders. Because this can be a difficult task, fish farms throughout the United States raise fish to be released upstream where fish born in the wild may not be able to reach, in an attempt to stabilize the fish numbers in an ecosystem. However, as these fish are raised, they are fed a fish food pellet made with GMO corn. Thereby without warning, these ‘wild’ fish become GMO fish.

Furthermore, the film challenges the notion that GMO food will help to end the world wide hunger crisis, as through simple data it is proven that the world has enough resources to feed the world organically, if only people and governments are willing to make changes to the agricultural industry.

This film is on Netflix for those subscribed, and is definitely worth a watch if you want to learn more about GMOs.

5 Foods and Drinks That May Not Be Around For The Next Generation

In case you have friends who care more about their food than climate change. Perhaps this article published by Upworthy will motivate them to make a change.

http://www.upworthy.com/5-foods-and-drinks-that-may-not-be-around-for-the-next-generation-thanks-to-climate-change?c=ufb1

Last Call At The Oasis – Film Response

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After watching the film Last Call at the Oasis, a documentary about the limited water resources on earth, I began thinking about all the water that we use but do not see. The film has a segment which shows how much water is used in the production of good and agricultural commodities that we tend not to think about. For instance, how much water is used to fill an average home swimming pool is equivalent to how much water is use to farm four pounds of steak. In the scene, the hidden reality is exposed. This made me think about how much water I use on a daily basis, not through drinking, washing my hands, and showering, but in the clothes I wear, and the food I eat. I did some research to determine how much water was necessary to for only the clothes I was currently wearing. A pair of jeans from the farming of the cotton through production requires 1,800 gallons of water. A shirt requires 400 gallons of water. One pound of wool, enough to make a sweater needs 400 gallons of water. Enough plastic to make a pair of sneakers requires 72 gallons of water. Just the clothes I was wearing required 2,672 gallons of water. If you multiply that by all the clothes the average person owns and then by all the people in the Unites states, you realize just how vital water is to the production of nearly everything. I think if more people saw this documentary and realized this they would understand the necessity of water conservation. To learn more about the hidden reality of water needed for production check out http://www.treehugger.com/clean-technology/how-many-gallons-of-water-does-it-take-to-make.html Also, by watching the film Last Call at the Oasis, you can learn more about the water crisis the earth currently faces.

The Hidden Uses of Water

LastCall_BookAfter watching the film Last Call at the Oasis, a documentary about the limited water resources on earth, I began thinking about all the water that we use but do not see. The film has a segment which shows how much water is used in the production of good and agricultural commodities that we tend not to think about. For instance, how much water is used to fill an average home swimming pool is equivalent to how much water is use to farm four pounds of steak. In the scene, the hidden reality is exposed. This made me think about how much water I use on a daily basis, not through drinking, washing my hands, and showering, but in the clothes I wear, and the food I eat. I did some research to determine how much water was necessary to for only the clothes I was currently wearing.

A pair of jeans from the farming of the cotton through production requires 1,800 gallons of water. A shirt requires 400 gallons of water. One pound of wool, enough to make a sweater needs 400 gallons of water. Enough plastic to make a pair of sneakers requires 72 gallons of water. Just the clothes I was wearing required 2,672 gallons of water. If you multiply that by all the clothes the average person owns and then by all the people in the Unites states, you realize just how vital water is to the production of nearly everything. I think if more people saw this documentary and realized this they would understand the necessity of water conservation.

To learn more about the hidden reality of water needed for production check out

http://www.treehugger.com/clean-technology/how-many-gallons-of-water-does-it-take-to-make.html

Also, by watching the film Last Call at the Oasis, you can learn more about the water crisis the earth currently faces.

 

 

The Problem of Microplastics

In recent years, a big issue that has become prevalent globally but especially in upstate New York is the accumulation of micro plastics in bodies of water such as lakes, ponds, and reservoirs. A large majority micro plastics, which are small particles of plastic under 5mm in size is exfoliates put in cosmetics such as facial and body scrubs and many brands of toothpaste as well. These tiny plastic beads travel through the sewer system and are small enough to pass through wastewater treatment facilities and can move out into bodies of water. This has become a problem as these plastics wind up inside zooplankton and disrupt the entire lake based ecosystem from the bottom up. While this is a big issue, it can easily be stopped with a few changes in consumer habits. Check your labels, if a product contains polyethylene, then it contains a micro-plastic. There are also many natural products which contain natural exfoliates such as sand, sugar, or crushed coconut shells which work just as well as micro beads, but without harm to the environment.

To read more about micro plastics here is a link to a UN article urging the ban of micro plastics, and a link to a YouTube video explaining the danger of micro plastics in the environment.

http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=51169#.VjotLdCprzI

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K5tdhilRoW0

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