Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Your trite environmental sentiment for the day

"We can all do something."

My long-time bloggy friend Pam of Tales from the Microbial Laboratory is, in terms of geography, about as far removed from Wichita as one could be: she lives on the South Carolina coast, where she conducts research on microbes that live among coral reef ecosystems. Oh--and she gardens and loves (good) poetry, too. But--the blogosphere being the strange place that it is, she and I have come to know each other, for which I'm glad.

Anyway. The other day, she posted a blurb on behalf of Al Gore's new project, We Can Solve It--and a rejoinder to those whose criticism not just of Gore but of other proposals to reduce our dependence on carbon-generated energy is, in essence, it'll cost too much/we shouldn't do anything until others do, too/What will we have to give up?/etc./etc.:
I think it's alot of baby steps - little changes that globally result in big changes - and old technologies coming back (rain barrels!) and new technologies coming forward.

I love this stuff because it makes sense. We need to get the price of icynene down to where we all can afford it. We need to quit taking our leaves to the landfill - and leaving them on our land. Grow your own lettuce in the winter. I'm tring to build a LEED certified home, and I'm saying 'no' to a paved driveway it really necessary? I could go on, but I need to go back out into my garden and weed before it gets crazy-hot. But I guess how I feel is that we can all do something here - and the things we need to do aren't necessarily big or expensive. Just do something. It becomes contagious.
In response, I forwarded her a link I'd found somewhere--I don't recall now--to something called The PB&J Campaign, a project of Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs. Their goal is simple:
The PB&J Campaign is working to combat environmental destruction by reducing the amount of animal products people eat. The PB&J Campaign approaches positive change one meal at a time by illuminating the differences one single dining decision can make.
And here are some numbers to contemplate:
Each time you have a plant-based lunch like a PB&J you'll reduce your carbon footprint by the equivalent of 2.5 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions over an average animal-based lunch like a hamburger, a tuna sandwich, grilled cheese, or chicken nuggets. For dinner you save 2.8 pounds and for breakfast 2.0 pounds of emissions.

Those 2.5 pounds of emissions at lunch are about forty percent of the greenhouse gas emissions you'd save driving around for the day in a hybrid instead of a standard sedan.

If you have a PB&J instead of a red-meat lunch like a ham sandwich or a hamburger, you shrink your carbon footprint by almost 3.5 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions.
Full disclosure: I have no interest in becoming even a vegetarian, much less a vegan or some such--I do loves me the occasional rib-eye and pork ribs--but I've been choosing to eat much less meat of late, in large measure because of the sorts of statistics the PB&J Campaign highlights. There's also the not-insignificant matter of simply being mindful--and respectful--of where the vast majority of our beef, pork and chicken comes from and how it's produced: a process invisible to almost all of us these days. To my mind, the PB&J Campaign's great value is in making people more aware of the fact that environmental expenditures also figure into the statement "where our meat comes from."

So, yeah: "We can all do something." And all that little stuff, if done by enough people, adds up. So, go and make yourself the occasional PB&J.

Or, go ride a bike.


Pam said...

Well, thank you. (I think?)

My thoughts are that we have, as a society, gotten into some bad habits. Perhaps lazy ones, with some greed and arrogance tossed in - in other words, we are spoiled brats. Many of the things that perhaps we should start doing aren't new things - but looking back at old things - and in doing so, like you said, we're a bit more mindful of our footprint.

I live 28 miles from work, that isn't a smart thing (but at the time, it was a piece of property that I could afford) - buying gas is a way of life for me right now. I'm envious of your ability to bike. I can have peanut butter sandwiches for lunch though!

John B. said...

Pam, sorry for the uncertainty caused by the title. In this post I was hoping to make "trite" seem less trite and, instead, truer than the ease of that phrase would sometimes have us believe--and, thus, harder to dismiss than it is to dismiss most "trite" phrases as we do: as easy things to say but hard to live up to or put into practice. As you and I both note: who among us doesn't have the time or means to make a PB&J sandwich a day?

Convenience has caused us to choose without choosing, without really thinking about other possibilities that would meet whatever need we have and be a smarter way of meeting it. Doing Something is a pro-active choosing.

Thanks for coming by and commenting.