Week 3 Update

After two weeks of using as little as possible, I have found it very difficult to cut paper and bottle use out of my lifestyle. I have a klean kanteen, but I have been forgetting to carry it around with me, and when I go to the movies or somewhere, it is very tempting to buy into this terrible industry. Convenience is the major reason why people have a high carbon footprint. Bottles are everywhere and very convenient, but it is upsetting that people who buy bottles tend not to recycle them. According to Earth 911, there were 5.1 billion pounds of bottles and jars in the United States available for recycling in 2009, but only 2,456 million pounds of that were actually recycled. The saddest part is that this was a record high (http://earth911.com/recycling/plastic/plastic-bottles/facts-about-plastic-bottles/). If people for some reason can’t get it together to bring a reusable water bottle out, they should most definitely have the common courtesy to their planet to recycle it. Honestly, the laziness in throwing away plastic makes me sick. Even here at Lafayette, I see many oblivious students casually tossing their plastic bottle into a garbage can when there are recycling bins nearby. Recycling bins are not hard to find and there is no excuse for throwing away recyclable plastic.

Paper has been easier to minimize for me. Although I do print out major articles to highlight for class, I have really thought about things before I decide to print. I have been e-mailing my teachers papers instead of printing them, and then turning them in at class. However, paper is overused in so many ways. The most upsetting example I have noticed is junk mail. Even here at campus, I get so many papers in my mailbox that do not pertain to me. Luckily, there are recycling bins all around the post office so things can be recycled. However, it makes me sad to think of all the wasted paper that comes to my house at home in the form of credit card promotions or magazines and so forth. Although I would like to think much of it is recycled, it is upsetting that it had to be printed in the first place. Another upsetting factor of wasted paper is people not bringing reusable bags to the grocery store. I try very hard to remember to bring bags because the amount of paper and plastic wasted for grocery bags is appalling. This goes back to the convenience factory. It is easy for people to get wasteful bags at the store. However, my family tries very hard to always bring bags, and if we forget we try to reuse the paper bags at the store when we return.


Light Bulbs

This picture in Chris Jordan’s Running the Numbers depicts 320,000 light bulbs. This number is equal to the amount of kilowatt hours of electricity wasted in the United States every minute from ineffiecient residential electricity usage, for example when computers are in sleep mode as opposed to being shut down, ineffiecient wiring, and many others.


Week 2 Update

After a week of implementing my plan, I have been very conscientious of the amount of electricity and water I am using. When I am in the shower, I try to be as efficient as possible, but if I am going to shave my legs I have been turning the water off until I need to rinse my leg. Although this is a minor change, I feel as if it is saving water. I have also advised my roommates to do the same. I also have made sure that my roommates and I always turn off the water when we are brushing our teeth. Lastly, I have been trying to do one large load of laundry when needed as opposed to two medium sized loads. This lowers the amount of water used significantly. These are minor changes that haven’t been too challenging and seem realistic for others to be able to implement in their daily lives.

According to WaterAid America statistics, the average North American uses 400 liters of water every day! On the other hand, the average person in a developing country uses only 10 liters of water a day. It is really sad how much we overuse resources just because they are available, and WaterAid American predicts that at the rate America is going, in twenty years humans will use forty percent more water then they use now. This is an unacceptable statistic, and we need to find away to halt this terrifying trend. (http://www.wateraidamerica.org/what_we_do/statistics.aspx?gclid=CLPfg8_JqqwCFYHe4AodJhjG3A)

As for electricity, I have been using a small side lamp by my bed at nighttime instead of the large overhead light. However, I have made one change that I feel has a significant impact. I have been trying to not turn on one light in my room until the sun goes down. With my shade up, there is plenty of sunlight to brighten my room, and having the light switch turned on makes a slim difference. This has been a hard habit for me to break because it is a natural instinct when I walk into a room to flip on the light switch. I also have been turning the lights off in almost every room when I leave, unless of course there are people still in that room. In public bathrooms, my friends’ rooms, and many other places I will shut the lights off in order to try to lower their impact as well. I also am more aware of things plugged into the wall. I have tried to unplug everything besides my alarm clock and refrigerator from the wall when I go to sleep. There is no reason for everything to be plugged in at all times, and it is very wasteful and unnecessary.

Plastic Water Bottles

These images are Chris Jordan’s artwork in “Running the Numbers: An American Self-Portriat” to help display the problem of overconsumption. To the left is a picture of two million plastic bottles, which is equivalent to the amount that the United States uses every five minutes. On the right is a close up of the two million bottles. This disturbing picture helps portray a reality to the problems we are facing.


My Plan

Over consumption is a major problem that our world faces today. There are poor people in impoverished areas that survive off the bare essentials, yet on the other hand, there are also wealthy people that need the newest versions of every new gadget. People have gotten very greedy and consumerism is a major problem that we are faced with.

Although convenience is nice, I am going to try and use less. For the next six weeks, I am going to attempt to use as limited electricity, water, paper, and plastic bottles as humanly possible. I am also going to stop putting excess food on my plate, and only take what I know I will finish to avoid wasting food. Instead of running out and buying something when I am in need, I am going to work on looking around and using resources that are readily accessible to avoid contributing to consumerism. Lastly, if I really need to buy something I am going to completely halt the purchase of items in wasteful packaging. If I wasn’t already a vegetarian, I would also be eating less meat seeing that the “average American” consumes 1.7 tons of pork in a lifetime, according to one of the myriad facts and figures in “Human Footprint” on the National Geographic Channel.

I am excited to get started on my plan, and see what challenges I face. I know it wont be easy, but I am optimistic that I can change my habits and reduce my carbon footprint.

Over Consumption