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Terracycling

TerraCycle Outsmart Waste

Recently my next door neighbors have started a brigade of terracycling through girl scouts. They collect items that normally will not be recycled or items that are hard-to-recycle through the terracycle program.  I thought this was a great idea and am hoping to be able to start a brigade when I go back to my spring semester at college.

Terracycle

Their purpose is to eliminate waste. They create collection opportunities and solutions for things that are normally sent to the landfill.

They turn these products into new products like backpacks, benches, and bags. They use the Upcycle idea, where they use the old product as is, to create a new product. They do not utilize as much energy as recycling.

In 2010 and 2011 this program has spread to all over the world including France, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Spain, and many other countries.

What Can You Do?

Find a location near you that is participating in Terracycle, or start your own brigade. If everyone could get some of their community involved with terracyling we could reduce the amount of waste that goes into the landfill.

Can you get your community to participate? Will you start a brigade in your own community? Any thoughts on Terracycle?

“We are not to throw away those things which can benefit our neighbor. Goods are called good because they can be used for good: they are instruments for good, in the hands of those who use them properly.”

~Clement of Alexandria

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Do you know whats in your food?

Do you know how much of your food is Genetically Modified? 

  • 94% of soybeans are a GMO crop
  • 75% of HT Cotton
  • 73% BT Cotton
  • 72% BT Corn
  • 65% HT Corn

This data was obtained by the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service

The FDA does not require the labeling of genetically modified foods. I think this is very misleading, the American Public has a right to know if their food is GMO or not.

What is a GMO? 

Organisms in which the genetic material (DNA) has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally, allowing selected individual genes to be transferred from one organism into another and between non-related species(also called gene-slicing).

I found out about GMO crops my senior year of High School in my AP Environmental Science class. I was astonished that I had not heard anything about it and was appalled that there was no way I could tell what foods contained genetically modified ingredients.

Why did it all start?

Genetically engineering food started in the 1950s

  • To improve product
  • Extended shelf life
  • Greater Quantity of food (on less land)
  • Resistant to pests (costs less)
  • Can grow in undesirable conditions

Companies Selling GM Seeds

Monsanto is the dominant company Currently over 90% of Soya in the United State is Monsanto’s. The problem is these big companies control the political actors who have the power to impose regulations on agriculture.

Why the Controversy?

The FDA did not study the impacts of GM food in the environment or on peoples health. Companies that proposed this gave results that they were substantially equivalent. In 1995 Greenpeace started to campaign to stop the release of genetically engineered food and have raised awareness of the issue.

Potential Side Effects 

  • Toxins & Poisons to humans and animals
  • Increased Cancer Risk
  • Food Allergies
  • Damage to Food Quality & Nutrition
  • Antibiotic Resistance
  • Increased Pesticide Use
  • Genetic Pollution
  • Damage to Beneficial insects and soil fertility
  • “Superweed” and “superbugs”
  • Creation of new viruses and bacteria
  • Bio-invasion

Monsanto vs. Family Farmers

Monsanto has the right to sue farmers for patent infringement if Monsanto’s transgenic seed or pollen should land on their property. Once released into the environment, genetically modified seed can contaminate and destroy organic seed for the same crop. For example, soon after Monsanto introduced genetically modified seed for canola, organic canola became virtually impossible to grow as a result of contamination. Monsanto has sued farmers in the United States and Canada, in the past, when their patented genetic material has inadvertently contaminated their crops.  There are many documentaries on this issue. On Hulu.com you can watch one streaming live called Food Of the Future, I would highly recommend it if you have time.

GMOs in other countries 

All around the world GMOs have been banned or restricted in the import, distribution, sale, and utilization. These Include: Algeria, Egypt, Sri Lanka, Thailand, China, Japan, Philippines, The European Union, The United Kingdom, Brazil, Paraguay and many others.

Public Outcry

The American public has slowly started to realize the potential and dangers and wants labeling. A survey in July 2003 showed 92% of Americans supported biotechnology labeling.

What Congress Has Done? 

The Genetically Engineered Safety Act

  • This bill would therefore, require the FDA to screen all GE foods through the current food additive process to ensure safety for human consumption and require that unique concerns be explicitly examined. Furthermore, the bill places a temporary moratorium on pharmaceutical crops and industrial crops until all regulations required by the bill are in effect.

The Genetically Engineered Technology Farmer Protection Act.

  • This legislation gives farmers the ability to save seeds and seek compensation for failed GE crops, prohibits genetic engineering designed to produce sterile seeds and places all liability from negative impacts of GE organisms squarely upon the biotechnology companies that created the GE organism

The Genetically Engineered Food Right to Know Act

  • It would require all food that has been genetically engineered to be labeled as such and would require periodic testing of these foods to assure the accuracy of their labels
  • Despite the public’s desire for more legislation because of the control  GM companies have over congress the  bills do not get passed.

What Needs To Be Done

  • The Scientific research on GM foods in almost non-existent and it is difficult to tell what the true effects are until this is done.
  • The public has urged officials to label these, but few have gotten behind the wide public support for labeling them. Labeling them would allow for the public to make an informed decision about the food they are eating.

How Can You Stay GMO Free? 

  • ›The Non-GMO Project, a non-profit multi-stakeholder collaboration committed to preserving and building sources of non-GMO products, educating consumers, and providing verified non-GMO choices. ›
  • This website provides a guide to shopping GMO free!
  • They believe that everyone deserves an informed choice about whether or not to consume genetically modified organisms.

Do you know what you are eating? Will you make an effort to eat GMO free?

“High-tech tomatoes, Mysterious milk. Supersquash. Are we supposed to eat this stuff? Or is it going to eat us?
~Annita Manning

Do you know where your e-waste is going?

What is E-waste? 

E-waste is electronic waste that makes up 5% of municipal solid waste worldwide. E-waste includes phones, computers, televisions, audio equipment, printers, DVD players, and any electronic device.Every year 25 million tons of e-waste is produced, and a large percent of it is dumped abroad.

A Consumerist Society 

In American society we have this notion that we need the newest gadget and we need it now! In each new generation there is an increasing need for instant gratification. Our society no longer purchases only their true needs, but over consumes without  considering the environmental impact. American society is materialistic, and consumers only care about their own selfish needs.

Hazards of E-waste 

E-waste being burned to salvage parts in Ghana

There are harmful elements found in electronics like PVC, mercury, solvents, flame retardants, and lead. Lead can be very disastrous to many organs and tissues (heart, bones, intestines, kidneys), as well as cardiovascular, reproductive, and nervous systems. It can cause symptoms from headaches to seizures, coma, or death. Flame retardants can cause abnormal thyroid metabolism, and poor brain development. When burned, plastic and other materials in electronic products release toxic chemicals. Plastics release dioxins such as; PVC or hydrofluoric acid, which can damage the lungs of those exposed to it. Not only are people who are actively participating in this getting exposed, but also the surrounding communities ground water and air is contaminated. The contaminated water leads to contamination of crops, animals and anyone who drinks it.

Check out the video on the right side that is titled “Toxic U.S. E-waste: Third World Problem.”

Shipped off  

The map above shows the known and suspected routes of e-waste dumping (sorry the picture is so small but it was the only one I could find that contained suspected routes). E-waste is shipped overseas to Asia, India, Africa and other developing countries. Because these people are so impoverished they work at ‘recycling facilities.’ At these facilities they do not wear any protection so their health and environment declines rapidly. These people earn about 1 meal a day while damaging their health. Many of these people are not aware of the risks involved with their work.

What can you do to ensure your e-waste does not end up overseas? 

E-waste recycling programs that have been certified by                        e-stewards have to comply with certain standards. These include waste not being disposed of in solid waste landfills or incinerators, prohibits the exports and imports of electronics and specifically prohibits export of hazardous waste to developing countries. In order for this dangerous oversea shipping to stop, it is necessary for the public to be aware of this issue, and make sure that the e-waste recycling program will not ship overseas.

How are you disposing of your e-waste? Is your e-waste recycler certified?

“Shall we surrender to our surroundings or shall we make our peace with nature and begin to make reparations for the damage we have done to our air, to our land and to our water?”

-Richard Nixon