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I woke up today feeling like I needed to write a letter to the United Nations about evolving the human race. I am a regular citizen with a possible career in retail pharmacy; but that does not mean I do not have concerns over the impact my own work has on the environment. Even at previous jobs, I knew that my work was not helping the planet heal. If I get any response to this, please let it be what I can do to potentially lower my own carbon foot print. After that, to pass it on to my child who grows up on me everyday.

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1 hour ago, Amelia Wierman said:

I woke up today feeling like I needed to write a letter to the United Nations about evolving the human race. I am a regular citizen with a possible career in retail pharmacy; but that does not mean I do not have concerns over the impact my own work has on the environment. Even at previous jobs, I knew that my work was not helping the planet heal. If I get any response to this, please let it be what I can do to potentially lower my own carbon foot print. After that, to pass it on to my child who grows up on me everyday.

Write the letter, do what you can; ie. don't buy what you don't need to live, don't travel to where you don't need to be (unless you cycle or sail), for instance, get a job you can walk to or only buy what you can eat or wear.

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We can all take steps to reduce our personal footprints, but the need here is really for more systemic changes that can be implemented at scale and apply to everyone, even those who are unwilling to make changes voluntarily. While your goal is laudable, my concern is that your letter to the UN will have no impact and go unread by anyone in a position to actually influence the changes we’re discussing. 

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2 minutes ago, iNow said:

We can all take steps to reduce our personal footprints, but the need here is really for more systemic changes that can be implemented at scale and apply to everyone, even those who are unwilling to make changes voluntarily. While your goal is laudable, my concern is that your letter to the UN will have no impact and go unread by anyone in a position to actually influence the changes we’re discussing. 

Surely Greta Thunberg is evidence that a simple letter can lead to pressure on the system? We're all part of the system, who knows who's actions will will tip the scales. 

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2 minutes ago, iNow said:

The pressure she’s applying is not IMO the result of a note to a pen pal.

But it is the result of a single action, the resolve to do what she could. If all you can do is to write a note to a pen pal, let's hope it's her.

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!

Moderator Note

Moved from Speculations to Ecology and the Environment.

 
3 hours ago, Amelia Wierman said:

If I get any response to this, please let it be what I can do to potentially lower my own carbon foot print. After that, to pass it on to my child who grows up on me everyday.

Without knowing how your life operates, the general advice is reducing, reusing, and recycling the products you consume wherever you can. Remove all incandescent light bulbs and replace them with lower wattage/higher efficiency alternatives like CFLs and LEDs. Use mass transit or bicycle/walk instead of driving a car, and arrange to work from home whenever possible. There are LOTS of things to do to reduce your carbon footprint, so look at what you need to do to maintain a stable orbit in your life, and then ask yourself where you can do with less, or without, or with something the works better with your environment.

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3 hours ago, Amelia Wierman said:

I woke up today feeling like I needed to write a letter to the United Nations about evolving the human race.

I don't think the UN can work that miracle. You might more fruitfully direct your efforts to persuading your own government to support the UN's initiatives, which, unfortunately, are meeting resistance. To this end, it would help to familiarize yourself with what it's already doing.

3 hours ago, Amelia Wierman said:

I am a regular citizen with a possible career in retail pharmacy;

There, you can campaign against one practice in which the pharmacological industry is hugely guilty: the profligate use of disposable plastic. As a customer, I have browbeaten and coaxed (depending on which member of staff I'm dealing with) my own pharmacy to refill my same containers with the same pills, month after month, rather than new ones every time. I've talked to them about the stacks and stacks of bubble-packed daily doses, but to no avail: some customers find it convenient. As an insider, you might prevail.

 

3 hours ago, Amelia Wierman said:

If I get any response to this, please let it be what I can do to potentially lower my own carbon foot print. After that, to pass it on to my child who grows up on me everyday.

Everybody can do something. How much and what kind of things depends on your circumstances. Don't fill your child's room with fashionable-for-five-minutes clothing garishly coloured plasticrap (It's not healthy for them, anyway.) Buy toys with thought and care as to what they will contribute to the child's development - can't go far wrong with sporting equipment, building blocks, science and craft kits. Spend as much of your free time with the child as possible outdoors, investigating nature and how things work - your own level of knowledge doesn't matter: if you know much, teach and explain; if you know little, learn together - either way, it's good for the kid, good for you and terrific for your relationship. If at all possible, give the child an opportunity to grow some food - real food, in real earth. And, of course, most obviously, do not let the child see you wasting things, throwing away things that can be reused and recycled.

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Many people can be influencers - they take measures to reduce their impact, do it with grace and skill,  and then those around them gain a more positive view.   The trick is to implement lifestyle changes that work, that you can stick with.  People have been aware of the basic lifestyle changes (bike,  walk,  reuse,  recycle, eat lower on the food chain, wear woolens and turn down thermostat, etc) for decades -- what helps is to actually have people in their peer group who "just do it. "  

Step one:  own an umbrella.  🙂

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5 minutes ago, TheVat said:

Many people can be influencers - they take measures to reduce their impact, do it with grace and skill,  and then those around them gain a more positive view.   The trick is to implement lifestyle changes that work, that you can stick with.  People have been aware of the basic lifestyle changes (bike,  walk,  reuse,  recycle, eat lower on the food chain, wear woolens and turn down thermostat, etc) for decades -- what helps is to actually have people in their peer group who "just do it. "  

Step one:  own an umbrella.  🙂

It's important to be discrete...

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IMO the responsibility to address the carbon footprint and recycle has been laid in the wrong place; with consumers.

Very little plastic gets recycled, and when it does it is 'down-cycled'. To make real change we need the manufacturers of plastics to take responsibility.

We can drive fewer miles but we still have to drive the cars that were manufactured. We need the manufacturers to make more efficient vehicles.

This is not to say that people can't do their part, but if you really want to have an impact, stop looking at what you can recycle/reuse/reduce and put your effort into influencing governments and corporations.

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37 minutes ago, TheVat said:

Step one:  own an umbrella.

Preferably one that leaves your hands free. Of course, that's incompatible with a bicycle helmet....

Step 2: carry your own shopping bags, coffee cup and pocket knife.

And have this motto embroidered on your wallet: Just Don't Buy Crap.

Edited by Peterkin
to add a bad word
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1 hour ago, Peterkin said:

There, you can campaign against one practice in which the pharmacological industry is hugely guilty: the profligate use of disposable plastic. As a customer, I have browbeaten and coaxed (depending on which member of staff I'm dealing with) my own pharmacy to refill my same containers with the same pills, month after month, rather than new ones every time. I've talked to them about the stacks and stacks of bubble-packed daily doses, but to no avail: some customers find it convenient. As an insider, you might prevail.

I used to campaign against disposables in medicine (I want high-quality, precision needles and scalpels being used, so doesn't that mean expensive tools and autoclaving?), but after several discussions here and with medical professionals, I've come around to why disposables and healthcare actually works out best. I'd almost argue that we should only allow disposable alternatives where health and well-being are affected (as opposed to convenience only disposables). 

Tell you what, if you can campaign with the grocery stores to be able to use our own containers for bulk dry foods, and figure out how to make it average citizen proof, I might join a campaign for re-usable pill bottles. And I think the packaged daily doses of medicine absolutely have advantages for certain patients, but get abused simply for convenience by too many.

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32 minutes ago, Phi for All said:

Tell you what, if you can campaign with the grocery stores to be able to use our own containers for bulk dry foods, and figure out how to make it average citizen proof, I might join a campaign for re-usable pill bottles.

Done! My bulk food store has had that policy in place for three years now. For convenience of weighing at the checkout, I use their own standard containers - three sizes - and keep washing and bringing them back. They're quite durable in use - I shudder to think how long they'd last in the landfill! My fellow average customers seem to manage this system all right. I don't buy bulk food at the supermarket.

32 minutes ago, Phi for All said:

And I think the packaged daily doses of medicine absolutely have advantages for certain patients,

Advantage - not necessity. The pharmacy staff - usually not enough of them - spend an unconscionable amount of time doling out those portions and labelling the flat-packs.  They could as easily refill permanent pill dispensers with the patients name already on. So many of these old-people medications are the same thing, month after month, year after year, there is no reason to think they'll contaminate themselves. And, as you say, if the pharmacy offers it as a convenience, people who don't need any help take advantage - most, probably without even reflecting on their decision. So, another thing personnel might do: when somebody makes this request, discuss it with them, rather than simply comply. If management will allow it.... HQ is where the buck stops.

 

32 minutes ago, Phi for All said:

I've come around to why disposables and healthcare actually works out best. I'd almost argue that we should only allow disposable alternatives where health and well-being are affected 

That's a tricky situation. Having worked in a hospital, I saw both the advantage and the waste. Back then (remember tan-coloured rubber gloves with talcum powder inside?) we did autoclave and sharpen larger tools, but disposed of scalpel blades and needles.  Back then, as more supplies were coming in disposable form, is when we should have solved the problem of what to do with the disposed items. It would not have been the logistical nightmare it's become with the pandemic (Who could seen that coming, eh?)

32 minutes ago, Phi for All said:

(as opposed to convenience only disposables). 

Again, a tricky line to draw. Factor in budget and staffing cuts, extra work-load in protocol and record-keeping, lack of storage space, outsourcing of services like food preparation and laundry... I know. But if we keep creating problems and waiting for somebody down the line to solve them.... 

Well, now the potato is in Amelia's lap.

Edited by Peterkin
two mistakes
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38 minutes ago, Peterkin said:

That's a tricky situation. Having worked in a hospital, I saw both the advantage and the waste. Back then (remember tan-coloured rubber gloves with talcum powder inside?) we did autoclave and sharpen larger tools, but disposed of scalpel blades and needles.  Back then, as more supplies were coming in disposable form, is when we should have solved the problem of what to do with the disposed items. It would not have been the logistical nightmare it's become with the pandemic (Who could seen that coming, eh?)

What I remember is how rare it was to find someone who knew how to draw blood without taking forever to find a vein (and I have great veins), leaving bruises, and causing pain until modern phlebotomy tools and techniques using disposables became prevalent. Now the instances of infection from blood draws are greatly reduced, and now it's rare for me to find a phlebotomist who isn't skilled and professional. 

I personally tend to buy my cotton swabs in bulk, but I'm not a hospital, and if they can show that they can prevent sepsis by wrapping their Q-tips individually, then we need them to do that. We should spend more effort figuring out more efficient disposal, and ways to limit the use of single-use disposables in other areas.

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2 hours ago, Phi for All said:

What I remember is how rare it was to find someone who knew how to draw blood without taking forever to find a vein (and I have great veins),

Lucky bugger! I'm the opposite. I once had two nurses have 4 attempts to find a vein for an IV with me once...still no succes so they called a doctor. He did better and only had two goes before succeeding. The term he used was that I have "dancing veins"  from memory, and they [when they find them] literally side step or jump out of the way of the needle...excruitiating procedure with me!!

Edited by beecee
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9 hours ago, zapatos said:

IMO the responsibility to address the carbon footprint and recycle has been laid in the wrong place; with consumers.

Very little plastic gets recycled, and when it does it is 'down-cycled'. To make real change we need the manufacturers of plastics to take responsibility.

We can drive fewer miles but we still have to drive the cars that were manufactured. We need the manufacturers to make more efficient vehicles.

I think its the responsibility of us all. Not a fault of the environment we live in. It is what it is because thats what we  continue to collectively support. Economic  Growth and  excessively wasteful consumption .

9 hours ago, zapatos said:

This is not to say that people can't do their part, but if you really want to have an impact, stop looking at what you can recycle/reuse/reduce and put your effort into influencing governments and corporations.

So stop looking at personal waste and inefficiency. Demand your environment  no longer support it ?

That either ignores or has little understanding of biological law.

We do need manufactories to change the way/goods they produce, but thats going to be too slow while we collectively make it more profitable to continue as is.

 

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1 hour ago, naitche said:

So stop looking at personal waste and inefficiency. Demand your environment  no longer support it ?

 

You can interpret what I said that way, but it requires you to ignore the first part of the sentence I wrote.

1 hour ago, naitche said:

I think its the responsibility of us all. Not a fault of the environment we live in. It is what it is because thats what we  continue to collectively support. Economic  Growth and  excessively wasteful consumption .

You cannot be a consumer and reasonably avoid plastics or a carbon footprint. If manufacturers are responsible for reducing the use of plastics and recycling the plastics it will have a much larger impact than if you lay the responsibility on people. 

In California a law was just signed that will outlaw the sale of gasoline engines in products such as lawn mowers, chain saws, trimmers, etc. You can ask people all you want to reduce their use of gasoline engines, but it will not nearly have the impact of simply enforcing a ban on their sale.

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I would question the either/or here.   Doesn't it take both personal consumption choices AND feedback to companies and government?  If I stop buying carbon-intensive widgets,  that sends a ping up the supply chain.   If I write Congress and ask for better widget regulations that's also a signal.   Why not do both,  when both consumption choices and letters can send a message?   I know some say political action is the better path, and it can be,  but I have also seen grassroots consumer movements (combined with letters to companies letting them know what's happening) effect change.  I guess I'm suggesting that we don't have to feel individually powerless,  that we can make choices every day and let others see us making them, without waiting on some politician to start listening.   

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Sure, I can stop peeing in the ocean and avoid letting my juice box float into it, but if our goal is to protect the oceans and keep them healthy and clean, then our energies would be much better directed elsewhere, IMHO. 

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On 10/10/2021 at 9:05 AM, zapatos said:

IMO the responsibility to address the carbon footprint and recycle has been laid in the wrong place; with consumers.

They probably figured we were already grinding our own beans, assembling our own furniture, DIYing our home remodels, bagging our own groceries, and pumping our own gas so we probably wouldn't mind.

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56 minutes ago, iNow said:

Sure, I can stop peeing in the ocean and avoid letting my juice box float into it, but if our goal is to protect the oceans and keep them healthy and clean, then our energies would be much better directed elsewhere, IMHO. 

Don't you live in Iowa?  So you've credibly found a way to avoid peeing in the ocean.  Seriously, I don't see human energy as something like a battery that's just going to drain and go dead if I do more than one thing.  Most of our political power, as individuals, is mediated through our elected officials, and we all know how good they are at hearing us and acting in the public interest.  So NGO groups, like say the Nature Conservancy or the NRDC, that pool the resources and energy (money, esp.) of private citizens also seem like a fruitful path.  As do consumer boycotts, and all the "hundredth monkey" stuff where people spread their behaviors to others around them. 

There are so many carbon-mitigating things that our government just won't do, because it doesn't get people reelected.  Take smaller houses.  Elected officials all have to pander to their rich donor class, who doesn't want anyone interfering with the building of, and aggressive marketing of, big square footage houses in sprawling subdivisions, because they see that as their profit center.  If people want to live in smaller houses (which require less energy), they have to go directly to the building industry and demand them.   Or contribute to a public interest outfit that can pool resources and find bigger crowbars to use under those contractors, and generally promote the concept of small houses across media platforms.   I will note that the most extreme form of this idea, the Tiny House movement, has taken hold with a lot of people without much help from government.  I'm seeing them for sale now on places like Craigslist, and they get snapped up pretty fast.  

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On 10/10/2021 at 1:02 PM, Amelia Wierman said:

what I can do to potentially lower my own carbon foot print.

Start with a proper analysis of your home energy consumption, as I showed in this thread.

Analyze your daily routines to find the most significant energy and resource wastages. e.g. drinking coffee, tea, water etc. daily from disposable cups has hundreds of times higher the weight of the reusable pill boxes mentioned by others..

Every programmer starts code optimization with the tasks that take the most CPU time. Optimizing infrequently called code will only waste time, giving negligible benefit.. and the erroneous illusion of progress..

I hope you see the analogy..

 

I'm wearing a jacket I bought in the '90s..

Some people wear once and throw away. I don't understand that. If you did not like the cloth, why did you buy it in the first place?

Shopping online has only increased the wastages. I would never buy clothes through Internet. It must fit well, have good dimensions, the appropriate texture etc. etc.

Compulsive shopping is unknown for me, but loved by corporations and sellers..

 

Edited by Sensei
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14 minutes ago, TheVat said:

Seriously, I don't see human energy as something like a battery that's just going to drain and go dead if I do more than one thing. 

But individual energy is finite; even more so is available time. When we try to do everything at once, we do become frazzled, run down, frustrated and eventually despondent enough to give up.

You can do a number of different things concurrently - like join the Green Party and write to your representative and walk to work and cut out wasteful use of resources in your house and stop eating beef and discuss your concern with acquaintances and send a message to local businesses and their suppliers through requests to the manager, product reviews, shopping habits and sign the odd petition and attend a town hall meeting and maybe even join an organized protest. But you can't do all of that peripherally to your established lifestyle: you have to make a whole lot of decisions.

It has to be a deliberate, thoughtful choice, after honest deliberation. How much adjustment are you prepared for? What aspects of your present life are absolute, which are negotiable and which are ripe for change? In fact, it may be a good idea to make a three-column list of what you are prepared to change, what must remain the same and what needs further consideration. Then, start with the easiest, least disruptive action and work up to the hard sacrifices. If you decide to take political action, do it selectively: find out which members of governments (don't forget how much of the good work takes place at the municipal level!) support worthwhile legislation and campaign for them (a show of appreciation goes a long way, too: they're human)

32 minutes ago, Sensei said:

Start with a proper analysis of your home energy consumption, as I showed in this thread.

Which is also a great money-saver. As are many of the other green suggestions made over the years. Like, how much do you spend on gift wrap?  Or overpackaged unhealthy snacks?  Or the aforementioned plastic toys?

44 minutes ago, TheVat said:

There are so many carbon-mitigating things that our government just won't do, because it doesn't get people reelected.  Take smaller houses.  Elected officials all have to pander to their rich donor class, who doesn't want anyone interfering with the building of, and aggressive marketing of, big square footage houses in sprawling subdivisions, because they see that as their profit center

Some governments have the will to regulate housing. https://ec.europa.eu/info/news/new-rules-greener-and-smarter-buildings-will-increase-quality-life-all-europeans-2019-apr-15_en

Quote

These new rules for better performing and smarter buildings were shaped by the contributions of thousands of citizens, organisations and public authorities across the EU.

It helps to have these organized citizen groups in place. They give the concerned individual a bigger voice. Here may be a starting point.

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3 hours ago, TheVat said:

Don't you live in Iowa?

Recently, yes. 

3 hours ago, TheVat said:

the Tiny House movement, has taken hold with a lot of people without much help from government.  I'm seeing them for sale now on places like Craigslist, and they get snapped up pretty fast

Yes, and I'm sure that the owners of all 12 of them surely feel good about the decision they've made. The central point, however, is that this type of thing doesn't scale... doesn't even get out of the noise in the margins of the data... and this particular issue is one that requires us to be taking actions at scale.

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