Trends are part of everyday life for the majority people in this country. Through our lives peer groups in school and work, and more recently social media and attention to celebrity lifestyles help to dictate many of the choices we make individually about the clothing we wear, music we listen to, and food that we eat. Perhaps trends can also be environmentally friendly when they are examined scientifically.
Kathy Freston appeals to the fashion consciousness in all of us in her Huffington Post article, “Vegetarian Is the New Prius”. The author unpacks the popular and trendy choice by many to drive hybrid electric cars, and argues that while that decision does make a positive dent in emissions that contribute to greenhouse gases, there is a dietary decision one could have a much greater positive effect on the environment. Freston dissects what raising animals for slaughter actually looks like on our planet, in terms of the land mass it takes up, the cleaning forests wiped out in order to produce this land for raising the meat, and harmful gasses emitted into the atmosphere as a direct result of farming meat.
According to this article going vegetarian is a good environmental deed and makes a bigger difference to Mother Earth than driving a Prius. All the celebs are doing it and it’s easier than ever.
Freston does not address the claim that a meat free or vegan lifestyle is absolutely healthy for anyone, which is a claim often heard by popular advocates for vegetarian or vegan lifestyles. While it’s not hard to recognize how over-consuming Americans are in terms of meat, it would certainly be interesting to examine what homeopathic medicine might say on the issue, especially in terms of the health benefits of a meat free diet versus a diet which includes eating wild game, organic and local meat products.
Freston, Kathy. (2007). Vegetarian is the New Prius. Huffpost Healthy Living
Mother Jones published an inspiring article in 1998 by Alan Weisman entitled “Nothing wasted, everything gained”. Weisman describes a potential for sustainable community that most of us would rarely consider possible by illustrating an exemplary one.
He tells of a small village in Columbia, surrounded in that part of the world by warfare and political unrest, that functions as an environmentalists utopia. The Gaviotans, led and inspired by a visionary named Paolo Lugari were initially a group of scientists, their goal was to make what the article describes as making an unlivable place livable. Being scientists, the group engineered methods to create energy and purify water in an uninhabited place. These experiments resulted in successful efforts that have provided many outside of their community clean drinking water, and even reforested their part of the world. The trees nurtured by the Gaviotans have served the earth by re-created habitats for native animals, and through harvesting a renewable part of the plant produced an ingredient in common household items that can replace petroleum based ingredients in the same items.
Weisman’s message to his reader seems to be certainly from an environmentalist’s persuasive point of view, showing the reader what is possible when a group of people is dedicated to sustainable and clean living. Most of who make attempts to buy local, recycle what we can and buy the most fuel efficient vehicles tend to check those things off our to do lists and feel as though we’ve done our part. The question left after this reading is what would need to happen for culture to shift in such a way to show us how to live in a more sustainable way. Perhaps this article suggests that while we aren’t all soil chemists, there are extremely productive things we can do in our lives to help our home planet. If this small community can be one hundred percent green, maybe we can all do a little or much more.
Weisman, A., & Kratochvil, A. (1998). Nothing wasted, everything gained. Mother Jones, 23(2), 56.
Peter McLean identifies himself as a biology teacher in his call to action article, “The Need for Sustainability”. He also seems to be reaching out to fellow teachers in this writing, asking that it is more important than ever before for students to reach nature through their educations in science. The planet has undergone so much damage in the last century, and maybe if all people are gifted by education a more personal connection to the natural world there will exist a greater dedication to right some of these wrongs.
McLean links the need for sustainable living as a value to be taught by defining sustainability in terms of responsibility. He claims, “Sustainability can be defined as responsible use of resources over an indefinite period of time…”. It’s significant for an educator to be making this claim, as it recovers memories of curriculums focused on values in primary school. It seems obvious that part of public or private k-12 education would include lessons in some sorts of right and wrong, compassion, citizenship and the like. Maybe this is missing much of the time, but responsibility would fit in to some ideal primary values alongside math and geography. Reading a biology teacher’s plea to other educators to make an effort to educate their students in this specific type of responsibility, to live in the world with forethought, is powerful.
It’s easy to link the smell of dogwoods or the sound of a rushing stream with good or comfortable feelings. The author’s effort to link this sensation with the commitment to live sustainably is an honorable one and could unlock curiosity about weather or not this is being included in twenty first century science curriculums at any or all levels.
McLean, P. (2009). The Need for Sustainability. American Biology Teacher, 71(5), 267-268.
King Corn initially takes the viewer on a bit of a road trip. Recent college graduates Curt Ellis and Ian Cheney dive into the world of modern day midwestern agriculture in this documentary directed by Aaron Woolf. The two friends coincidently hail from similar ancestry as both had great grandparents who had farms in the same rural Iowan county. After a startling lab work up involving pieces of their hair validates what is suspected they already knew, which is that they are basically made out of corn the two set their stage.
Hooking their audience with the familiar and concerning news about the average American’s physical health, the documentarians give us the more unfortunate news that in fact we are what we eat, and we eat too much corn. In fact, we eat so much corn that we are eating corn even when we are not eating corn. Ellis and Cheney head out from their Boston community to Iowa in an attempt to farm an acre of corn.
They succeed with their crop and give small glimpses into many of the social and scientific issues that can be tied to this seemingly simple food. The audience receives a brief look into the disappearing family farm and how that has dissolved into the huge operations that they are now, the intersection of corn farming and modern livestock feed, and finally the disastrous impact of corn syrup on our bodies. There are so many political implications to the claims that the film makers make. The film suggests that the corn industry has done so much to have their product utilized, resulting in horrible effects to people’s physical well being. They turn up so many astounding discoveries it could leave viewers wishing that the film had focused more heavily on one or two of them as to have a better understanding of the financial incentives behind the creation of corn syrup, or the tragedy of the disappeared family farm. The film did not really have time for all of it.
Thank goodness for this product. This website is for conscientious consumers and all people who drink water. That includes conscientious consumers who drink water and are concerned and broken hearted about the bottled water consumption in recent history. While this website aims to sell the company’s products, whether it be the standard canteen or sippy cups or to go mugs, it also aims to educate and inspire. The website is as attractive as the company’s product or it’s logo. Attractiveness alone can make a website effective to it’s user but it also goes extra miles by inciting viewers in any area to link to an explanation of why their product is great. The viewer can easily and in many locations find definitions for BPAs, why plastics are so harmful to our planet, and why the kleenkanteen is healthy and responsible. Many of us love to shop, especially from the comfort of our homes and eco friendly products are becoming trendier and more accessible on the internet. Many camps for kids and teenagers are now adding steel or aluminum canteens to their requirements on packing lists, taking the place of nalgene bottles, thermoses or even bottled water. The website definitely fills the niche for eco conscious consumers, but most likely those with means to shop online or at higher end sports or outdoor equipment stores. The downside of this product or it’s beautiful website is that poor people deserve to not be poisoned by plastics too. Poor people also deserve to enjoy the satisfaction of being conscientious consumers, so hopefully this company can support cheaper versions of their product being available to the masses, and hopefully the education that accompanies it so nicely is this website.