Let’s Talk Plastic

In recent newsletters (Sign up here if you’re not already in the know), we have been asking the Sustainable Shanti community to look seriously at their daily habits and choices with the understanding that each of us impacts the planet with every decision.  I remind people I meet that we do not have a Planet B; our daily actions have a collective momentum, but we need to consciously choose in which direction it moves.

I’m going to fess up to a pet peeve: plastic bottles.  Soda bottles, water bottles, beverage bottles in general.  They are ubiquitous, seen all across the world: a symbol of convenience.  They also happen to be incredibly destructive to our planet’s health.  You’ve heard the spiel to get a reusable steel water bottle: they’re good for the planet; they save you money; they’re convenient to have around.

So why do I see people still using plastic bottles as if there’s an unlimited supply and no consequences to their use?

If you’re still attached to your plastic bottle habit, consider this: In 2006….

  • Producing the bottles for American consumption required the equivalent of more than 17 million barrels of oil, not including the energy for transportation

  • Bottling water produced more than 2.5 million tons of carbon dioxide

  • It took 3 liters of water to produce 1 liter of bottled water.

(Data from Pacific Institute)

Is our planet’s health worth those resources?  Is it worth two liters of water just to have one liter of bottled water?  Think you could try switching from bottled water to tap water in a reusable steel bottle?  It’s one more step towards reducing your daily oil consumption.

Every choice we make, every dollar we spend is a vote and has an impact.  Your power lies in how and where you vote.

Small changes, big impacts.  It will take everyone–governments and businesses included–working together to find new solutions to our climate crisis.

Do the Math: 350.org’s Call to Arms

Last night, after taking some time to replenish my depleted energy levels, I dragged my mom to 350.org’s Do the Math Tour.  Bill McKibben and Naomi Klein spoke about climate change with a major focus on fossil fuels and their link to the environmental crisis in which we find ourselves.  They asked us to walk away with three important numbers:

1.  The world’s governments have collectively agreed that complete calamity would happen if the world’s temperature increases by 2 degrees Celsius.

2.  565 gigatonnes: the maximum amount of carbon that can be released into the atmosphere before we reach that 2 degree complete calamity limit.  It seems like a lot, but keep this in mind: we already release 30 gigatonnes per year giving us only 16 years before we hit that 565 number.

3.  2795 gigatonnes: the amount of carbon that would be produced by burning all the oil and coal to which the fossil fuel companies have currently identified and laid claim.  They intend to burn it all.  It is FIVE TIMES the 565 gigatonnes limit.

Do you know what this means?  Bill McKibben compared the oil companies to nuclear weapons companies in that their products intend to destroy life as we know it, but here’s the biggest difference: the oil companies intend for their weapons to deploy.  They are essentially waging war on humanity and our planet.  Scary thought, right?

It’s time to fight back.  It is no longer the time for merely quiet alternatives.  We must step it up and fight for our right to a planet that functions as nature intended.  This fight will be long, and we may not win on every front, but we have no choice except to fight.  There is no Planet B, no escape route.  Bill and his team at 350.org are asking us to stand up and demand that our institutions whether they be schools, universities, churches or our own private investment portfolios be divested from the fossil fuel industries.  He spoke of the fight around companies that benefited from apartheid in South Africa and how the boycott worked.  The time is now.

Want to be more involved?  350.org has put together an action kit that will help you figure out the steps to creating this change.  I pledge to fight these companies, to choose even more carefully than I already do, to divest my money is whatever way I can.  Will you join me?  Will you fight for your planet, for your future and for your children’s future?

And when you feel that you are just a tiny person compared to a huge company with crushingly-big resources, remember this photo and how powerful you are: