Go Green or Go Home

The Plastic Predicament September 22, 2013

Plastic is a menace to all ecosystems it comes in contact with. Non-biodegradable, toxic, petroleum-based, and easily mistaken for an ocean animal’s prey, it’s ruining our seas and filling up our landfills. The approximated amount of plastic recycled, out of the total plastic produced is almost certainly less than 10%. And do you know what happens to the rest of it? It sits around in a dump for thousands of

English: Ethylene-vinyl acetate copolymer (EVA...

years, or is taken to the ocean to become yet another drifting patch of garbage. Plastic is not a biodegradable substance. It will break down over many years, but it will never fully go away. The molecules will simply divide and become smaller and more spaced out, until they are spread to other parts of the ocean and the Earth to become more pollution. It takes so many years for even a slight breakdown to occur that there is no difference made, and the plastic continues to pile up. Worse yet, even if the plastic does start to ‘decompose’- though I shouldn’t be calling it that, because it will never fully break down- the particles are then microscopic and harder to locate, especially harder to remove. They go into the water that many sea animals live in and breathe.

Sending the plastic to be destroyed isn’t a much better choice. The incineration of trash releases toxins and chemicals into the air, which create pollution in the air. So no matter where the plastic goes, it’s always a problem. Did you know that breathing the air in Mumbai for just one day is equivalent to smoking a pack of cigarettes? That’s how polluted it is. Plastic and other petroleum-based substances are not only ruining the Earth, but also the creatures living in it. Turtles in the ocean often think that plastic bags are jellyfish and consume the bags, which clogs the airways in their throat and eventually kills them.

Recent developments are being made to create plant based plastics, rather than petroleum based ones. While this will certainly help to stop creating trouble for the ocean, it won’t decrease what’s already there. Thankfully, inventions are being made, and it’s believed that they can help. Take Dutch teenager Boyan Slat’s robotic ocean cleaning invention: it gleans its energy from ocean currents, so it’s sustainable, and it directs plastic particles to collection platforms. The plastic particles will then be recycled in a way that people can profit from it.Dutch Ocean Clean Up Device

Will this fix every plastic problem our oceans face? No. In fact, it’s estimated that only a third will be collected, but it’s a revolutionary solution that’s still going to change a lot for ocean wildlife. However, the robot cleaning devices are just an experiment, say the team of engineers working on them, though they also say that it looks promising. It’s not clear when these cleaning platforms will be put into use, or even if they will be put into use. So what can we do to help?

Ways to Help:

  • Bring a reusable grocery bag to the store with you, and make sure the rest of your family does as well.
  • Recycle as much of your plastic as you can- preferably all of it.
  • Bring a reusable water bottle everywhere. Stop buying plastic ones! If you’re in desperate need of water, and plastic is the only option, recycle that bottle, or reuse it for another day.
  • Talk to your local grocery store about stopping the usage of plastic bags altogether. Be sure to remind them that it will boost their profit because they can also sell reusable cloth bags.
  • If you have a lot of plastic grocery bags already, use them to line small bathroom trashcans. You can also iron a couple of bags together to create a reusable grocery bag.

If we could outlaw the dumping of plastic into our oceans and landfills, companies might be able to sell it to other organizations, such as Terracycle, and they could turn it into recycled products. What do you think? Got any ideas to help?



How To Help the Environment Without a Drivers Liscense July 9, 2013

The title is basically a clever way of me telling you that even if you are not an adult and can not give out personal information, drive cars, travel, or handle the electricity bill, you can still help to save the environment and have an impact on our small, small world. (That is actually quite large but small in the grand scheme of things.) The following may seem like small things, but they do great things. (This is kind of similar to the lazy environmentalist post from about a month ago, but many of our followers are teens/tweens and there are other things they can do.)

  1. Donate money to an organization that helps a cause you care about. Not everyone has the time to start organizations about important things, but even if you go on earning your usual amount of money doing chores, babysitting, or, if you’re old enough, doing a job, but setting aside some of your money to give to foundations like The Humane Society or the rainforest or adopting a dolphin or gorilla (not literally; there are programs where you send money that will help a gorilla or dolphin or what have you survive).
  2. Consider doing the simple things that your parents always nag you about. Whether it’s turning the lights off when you leave the room, not littering, using less water, taking shorter showers, or even playing outside (since you aren’t using electricity outside, you are helping the environment), it helps a great deal. You may think that just you doing these things will do nothing at all, but that isn’t true. If everyone who sees this does this little bit, it will help lots of things — fewer electricity will be used, less coal will be burned, fresh water will be saved, animals lives will last a little bit longer. You can do a lot in a little bit of time.
  3. Start getting crafty! By this I mean to start reusing things rather than throwing them away quickly, before all their use is gone. This may seem old-fashioned and annoying, and it kind of is. I myself have a grandmother who never throws anything away, even meat juice. Seriously. Sometimes when she stays with us for a weekend or whatever, I open the fridge and find a container of meat juice. But when you reuse things, it doesn’t have to have anything to do with meat juice, I assure you. Whether it’s using scraps of fabric, plastic, and used bottle caps in crafts or decorations, using bread-bags to carry things instead of just throwing them away, or even reusing your plastic water bottles by refilling them with water because hey! They can still hold water. You can even use candy wrappers as decorations if you’re working on a big project — that’s what my friends and I did when we were building a house out of foam and furnishing it without buying anything for school.
  4. Give your parents a break. No, you don’t have to stop bugging them about making you do useless chores by making your bead, but you can give them a break in the “driving you everywhere” category. Instead of making them drive you to the park, bike or walk. Instead of making them drive you to school, bike or walk if it’s close enough or carpool with people if it’s too far away. I think we all know about how oil and fumes and such from cars hurt the environment, and it’s also really expensive. Walking or biking or carpooling will give your parents breaks in more ways than one and will also help the earth.

These are only four ways you can help the environment without having a driver’s license, but there are so many more things you can do! Google it, ask people, or get creative and make it up yourself. Our world won’t last forever, and it won’t just heal itself. We have to do everything we can do to help it, and anything will help. So get out there and do your part. The world — and all of its inhabitants — will certainly appreciate it!

~Mary, Author at Bonsai


Chapter 11 of NAFTA: Giving Companies the Right to Destroy the Environment May 1, 2013

Filed under: Awareness,Government — Mary @ 11:26 pm
Tags: , , ,

Disclaimer: This post contains the views of the author, Mary, and by no means is the opinion of every member of the staff at Bonsai.  Your opinions would be appreciated down in the comments section, as everyone is entitled to their own opinion. I repeat, this is not the view of the entire blog, but only one member of the staff.

Chapter 11 of NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) basically lets companies sue the government of another country (within NAFTA’s boundaries, of course, which are, if you didn’t know, Canada, Mexico, and the US) if they feel that the country in question is hindering their ability to make a profit.

Say, for instance, (this is only for example purposes) that there is a company called MegaStorm from Canada that sells an additive to the salt that we use to melt snow and ice. The state of Oregon readily purchases MegaStorm’s additive. However, it was recently found to cause cancer in animals, and the long-term of this additive on humans is unknown. Since the salt melts the snow, it is getting into the water, and therefore, the additive is in the water. Oregon doesn’t want to have to put up with this, because it wants to keep its citizens healthy and happy. When they try to ban it, however, MegaStorm gets upset and is allowed to sue the United States. It can say, “Either you don’t ban our salt additive or you pay us a billion dollars in lost profits.” (And I’m not exaggerating with the billion number — that really is what some companies demand.) Now, MegaStorm isn’t going to come and say, “Oh yeah. It does show some cancer rates. Huh. You can ban it. We care about people.” No. They want money, and Chapter 11 gives them the right to sue the government. Either the government pays them a lot of money, or MegaStorm’s salt additive isn’t banned after all.

This isn’t good because that means a company can sue another country’s government for doing anything that effects their profits, even if they’re super rich already and the thing they do actually helps people, animals, and the environment. And the thing is, companies don’t do this in the most dire situations. No, they do it all the time. States and laws are now become more lenient than other because if they do try to protect the people and the animals and the environment, they’ll have to pay a huge sum of money.

And that’s not even the worst part. The worst part is that the people have no say in the matter. The trials between the companies and the government? The people aren’t allowed in. The protests? The people aren’t listened to. Was Chapter 11 really ever explained before they were trying to pass NAFTA? Does Chapter 11 benefit anyone excepting the rich companies who only get richer? The people never knew, even though it is shown that the people who wrote Chapter 11 knew the entire time what exactly they were doing.

Nothing good will come to us for having Chapter 11 — so what if a company can’t sell anything in a certain state? Instead of enforcing Chapter 11, maybe they should find a way to make it more healthy for the people and the animals and the environment. Maybe they should make their product better, and therefore sell things more.

I’m making this post so you can be aware of what is going on. We need to stop Chapter 11, we need to protest it, we need to have our voices be heard. We need to protect the world we were given because, hey, it’s the only one we’ve got.

-Mary, Author at Bonsai


Easter! March 31, 2013

Filed under: Animals,Going Green,Holidays,Make Your Own — mochi @ 4:12 pm
Tags: , ,

Happy Easter, friends! If you do or don’t celebrate it, I hope you have a great day either way.

Here are a couple tips and ideas:

If you use real eggs to dye, don’t eat them. This isn’t because they’re colorful, but because you’ve probably been keeping them on display. If you want to eat them, you can poke holes in each side and blow/drain the insides onto a pan or in a bowl, then dye the shells.

Use the insides to make your scrambled eggs or something, and make sure they’re free range first.

Ditch the Easter grass. It’s messy, unhealthy for the environment, and a waste of money because you’ll throw it away and keep buying it year after year. Honestly, what’s the point of it? If lost outside, animals can choke on it. (If inside, it is also a hazard for infants.) So steer clear!

Reuse all of your items next year- wreaths, baskets, eggs, etc.

Buy fair trade chocolate from companies like Black & Green or Endangered Species. That way you’ll get a delicious treat, and you’ll be supporting their efforts.

Instead of hiding  things in the eggs, use eggs of different sizes to determine the prize. Bonus points if you use the dyed shells. That way if any eggs are lost, the chocolate won’t be found by animals. Or if you’re the type to put money in your eggs, it won’t be lost! Natural egg shells are the best way to go, because they will decompose quickly if not found. When people do find eggs, a small egg will be for a small treat, big egg for a big treat, etc.

Have a fun Easter! Remember to reuse, reduce, and recycle!


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