Sunday, April 22, 2007

No Kidding for Environment - Give me a Break Please

I am slowly turning into an environmentalist - trying to reduce my global footprint as much as possible. This desire has also given me an uncanny ability to smell and spot environment related debates, writings, editorials, discussions, and practices that usually don't get any attention from others.

However, recently I read something that threw me off-balance and made me say 'NO' to it. The Globe and Mail recently had an article on the occasion of Earth Day and it was titled, Don't have children, save the world - Parenting may be natural. It could also kill the planet. The author draws attention to the a group called the No Kidding (, which is an international organization for people who choose to be childless. It mentions a couple in there who have decided not to have children because they see a family with kids put out four or five bags of garbage and no recycling bin.

Bigger Function of Practice than Size
In my opinion this viewpoint and sentiment is as much a disease as being a germophobe in the name of cleanliness. Four or five garbage bags and no recycling bin is a process and discipline issue. Countless families of two, without any kids, can do and actually do the same.

There's no doubt that there's a certain finite number of people that this planet can handle. But it's common sense that it all depends on how much we waste and at what rate. Having no children, however, is not addressing the problem at its root.

A more humane and educated goal should be to reduce the size of an average family down to a certain number like four and not to have any kids at all. This to me is a narcissistic point of view, one that is hardliner and can never be mainstream.

Better Solutions
It is completely natural and acceptable to not have children for medical and biological reasons or whatever, but to not have them to save the environment is foolish and deceiving. It is akin to duping other and robbing them of an experience of lifetime.

There are other ways to save the environment that should come first before even thinking of a step as radical as starting a movement for a "child-free" society. As starters, get those heavy, custom built, gas guzzling million dollar RVs off the roads and certainly off the camp grounds of North America. National Parks and Reserves should have no place for 3 miles a gallon bus with granite floors, flat screen TVs, and comfy leather couches. National park are more fun living in a tent close to nature and the elements of wilderness.

Say 'NO' to No Kidding
It is time for the existing and founding members of this groups to say 'NO' to people who say no to children to save the environment. This would be a wise decision in the long term, one that would not only save countless from regretting later but also keep the human race going and providing the diversity of ideas and background that has brought it to a point of technical, literary, and artistic excellence today.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Discipline with Glass Bottles

Glass was once a dominant product in the industry and was used for anything from a glass table top and beverage containers. A lot of glass use is governed by the trends in different industries like Automobile and Construction. While on one hand the use of glass in automobile industry has gone down, the construction industry has lately been fascinated by it. It is not uncommon to see fully glass clad buildings even in the underdeveloped countries now.

One industry in which the usage of glass has remained fairly constant, though, is the food industry. We still get beer and juice in glass bottles. Quite amazingly, glass seems to be coming back into trend now. Coke has glass bottles and the popularity of Wine has increased the usage of glass.

The big question, however, is - what do we do with our glass bottles after we use them. I was talking to a friend of mine who I recently got to know and who is also a passionate recycler. She along with one of her other friends collects a whole lot of glass bottles from their friends and in her office and sells them back to the recyclers. They get an average of $0.07 (7 cents) for a bottle. But here's the amazing figure - it totals to over $40,000 a year between the two of them. And, this figure seems to increase every year partly because they are now getting people to participate in their program, but also because the usage of glass is increasing in our daily lives.

Sadly, most of us are not disciplined enough to throw the bottles into recycling bins, we just toss them into our normal garbage bags and forget about it. Why, because who'd care to be so disciplined for a mere 5-7 cents a bottle. But the problem is that increasing amounts of glass is now ending up in landfills. Imagine acres and acres of beautiful land having glass buried under it. What are we doing to our planet and can we prevent this from happening? Sure, we can. The lesson to learn comes from a very unusual group of people. Interestingly, my friend also told me that the most disciplined people she has come across when it comes to recycling glass bottles is none other than beer drinkers. I am suspecting that this trend would be the same across North America. Ketchup, pickels, jams, juice bottles and broken frame glasses and other discarded glass items still end up in the trash can, predominently. I guess, we are still not used, or shall I say discipline to, throw them in the recycling bin instead. And, this is the habit we've got to change if we have to save our planet.

The size of landfills and the waste generated per person in North America is at its peak right now. In other words, it is increasing and there are no signs of it reducing anytime soon unless we all change our per capita waste generated. The easiest way to do that is to start with glass. Use less of it and if you use it try to recycle it.

I have in the past come across confusion around the potential of recycling colored glass. Red, Brown, Green, Blue, no matter what color, it is qualifies as recyclable. See if you can get find some time out to collect the glass waste from your friends and turn it to a recycling program and earn some cash. Nice way to get some money out for charity. Isn't it?