Practical Theory - The Origin
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Monday, January 4, 2010

Doing my 10%


The headline, "The politicians failed in Copenhagen" grabbed me. I was disappointed in how Copenhagen didn't really provide a tremendous bang to get us moving on Global energy issues. Lots of blaming, but very little else. And where was Al Gore? Again a classic case of misdirected energies and money to be made in doing the wrong thing. I saw this headline on the cover of an insert in The Guardian. The headline continued to tell me, "so now it's up to YOU." I chuckled as I thought to myself, "now tell me something I don't know." Politicians have always been a big disappointment in our lives and now is no exception, even when we had so much hope. Our government is extolling us to help spur on the economy by buying. I for one, have resisted. I'm paying off my bills and saving. To hell with big business. They don't care about me. Look at how they trash the environment to create and sell. The single aspect of packaging and the use of plastic is the largest criminal act they perpetuate without being arrested. Plastic bags alone should be banned. I carry a bag with me for my purchases and take canvas bags or a cart with me when I shop. If I do end up with plastic bags, I store them to reuse them or to recycle them at the grocery store. The packaging of products, especially the use of oversized packages and plastic to gain more shelf space incites me to anger and to not buy something. I have unpackaged my purchase in stores and left them with the trash as I carry the now much smaller product out of the store in my own bag or hand, with the receipt of course. Big business continues to do business as usual without a concern for our well being and our politicians do little to stop it because the corporations fill the largess of the politicians campaign chest. Our politicians lie to us and are owned, no bought by big business.

I went to The Guardian webpage and was overjoyed to see a tab on the top for Environment. WOW!!! Curious, I went to some of the top newspapers in America and couldn't find a tab for Environment and one in a Science section, if one existed. American newspapers are bereft of Environment news tabs. They are weakly incorporated in other sections maybe. Why is that, I wondered. We don't have a mindset for thinking about the Environment in this country. Again all we need do is look around us. Our streets are littered with trash, stuff we casually throw out like cigarette butts, candy wrappers, fast food paper, newspapers, and the ubiquitous plastic bag. Ever watch a sporting event in America on a windy day? You need to take your shoes off to count the number of plastic bags that pass in front of you on the big screen. I'm waiting for the day a ball is captured by one of those bags and am further intrigued to see how the officials deal with it. Will rules have to be changes to account for garbage on the playing field? The plastic bag rule, methinks. Some places charge for a plastic bag and I like that. Some places take a penny or two off the bill if you use your own bag. I like that and wish they would raise the amount and that more stores did that. Ever see the Story of Stuff? It will blow your mind.

So back to the Environment tab on The Guardian's webpages. This tab accompanies the traditional tabs we have come to see like News, Sports, Business, and the like. But to have a tab devoted to the Environment excites me and I hope more and more newspapers around the world do the same as part of their 10:10 pledge.

What is the 10:10 pledge? For the year 2010, I pledge to cut back 10% of my carbon footprint. The Guardian is watching it via its Environment tab and is keeping its readers informed with what they can do, who is doing what, and who is not. The Guardian is guarding our Environment. What will our American newspapers do?

Finally, I discovered the 10:10 website and was impressed and excited. Now I wondered where is the same kind of organization in America, one of the two top trouble spots on the planet and an embarrassment at the recent summit in Copenhagen. Once again America fails to lead on this important issue, instead it leads as one of the two top polluters and we are doing nothing to correct our bad behavior. My president failed me in Kyoto and my president failed me in Copenhagen. Yes, the politicians have once again failed us, so now it's up to us.

Now what can I do? I can use less energy in all aspects of my life and that isn't too difficult as I read the pages of the Environment. As a teacher I can do more too. I wonder what the NYCDOE can do. What can the City of New York do? Why are so many lights on in so many buildings all night long? Not only does it waste energy, it kills birds. We need a new mind think, we need to change the culture, we need to do our 10% and more in 2010. And for goodness sake ban plastic bags in NYC. We banned smoking, what's so difficult, Mr Mayor?

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