Plastic H2O bottles? Pure waste. - Unsustainable Minute for 6.19.2009

In his essay, "Waste," author Wendell Berry states that waste is caused by "[A] symbiosis of an unlimited gree at the top and a lazy, passive, and self-indulgent consumptiveness at the bottom." In today's consumer culture, a lot of people have taken the plastic water bottle for granted without really considering its impacts on nature and on ourselves. Here are a few facts on the matter:

According to the Container Recycling Institute:

  • There were 215 billion plastic, glass, and aluminum beverage bottles and cans sold in the U.S. 2006.
  • 66% of recyclable containers were not recycled in 2004.
  • In 2004, 41,000,000,000 gallons of bottled water were consumed worldwide. The bottles alone that contained this water consumed 47,000,000 gallons of oil. That equals 1,000,000,000 pounds of CO2 put into the atmosphere, further accelerating climate change.
  • Buying bottled water costs you, the consumer, between 250 and 10,000 times more than it does from the tap.
According the Natural Resources Defense Council:
  • Most tap water quality standards are more rigorous and stringent than those to which bottled water are. According to testimony to Congress, the EPA's standards are higher than the FDA's and the lack of strict regulation does little to ensure that microbes like E. coli are not present in bottled water.
If you live in central Pennsylvania, why are you drinking from a plastic water bottle?


Podcast from our first show - 6.12.2009

Kevin Gombotz was awesome and enlightened us with some really great info on how we can save water and cut down on energy costs. We also touched on some bigger issues like sewerage, which consumes 30% of our local government's energy expenditures. A great first show.

We're looking forward to hearing from you on upcoming shows. Give us a call at 814-865-WKPS (9577).


Hummer's for sale - The Unsustainable Minute for 6.12.2009

General Motors reached a tentative agreement to sell Hummer to the Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery Company, based in Chengdu, China. The New York Times reports that analysts estimate the price at $500 million. Is this going to be a $500 million investment in continued fuel inefficiency and extravagance or the revamping of one of America’s most fuel inefficient fleets of cars?

According to fueleconomy.gov, H3s from 2006-2009 get about 14 mpg city mileage and 16-18 mpg highway. It seems that lots of people once interested in the rugged Hummer image have lost that interest. Sales fell 51% in 2008 and are down 67% in 2009.

It’s hard to know how this will play out. There are some reports that Tengzhong will start producing more trucks that use diesel or ethanol – both of which continue to raise eyebrows and some hackles among environmentalists. The Washington Post reports that the emerging green movement China “has complained about its middle-class ostentatiousness and growing carbon footprint.” China’s total greenhouse gas emissions have now exceeded the United States’ though their per capita footprint is considerably lower. Some, including the Chinese government, which can block the deal, see the Hummer purchase as a step in the wrong direction.

So will Tengzhong actually green Hummer? Greenwash it? Or will they continue business as usual and pour more 7,000 pound vehicles that stand as a symbol of everything that has been unsustainable about the auto industry?


Welcome to Sustainability Now Radio


This is a new radio show on the Lion 90.7 fm (www.thelion.fm) that will air on Fridays from 4 to 5 PM that focuses on sustainabiliy in our community. This is a hot topic, as we all need to examine how we can live better for less.....

Our first show is coming up Friday afternoon 6/12, and I am PUMPED! Kevin Gombotz from Matson Environmental (www.matsonenviro.com) is going to share some of the really cool stuff that he has been doing helping people to be more energy efficient. Recently an energy audit at Whitehall Township building identified $25,000 in improvments that would save them $19,000 a year....that's an awesome turnaround on investment. Can't wait to get the details.

Additionally, I just talked with Jen Shuey at Clearwater Conservancy, and she will be coming on the show June, 19th. More details to follow on that.