Friday, July 18, 2014

Spread the Word, Spread my Words


Just to let you all know, I sitting at the very edge of my computer chair right now.  My kitten Henry has decided to park his little bottom on my chair and is refusing to move.  I have tried moving him several times, but he keeps coming back.  So, I have given up all hope of sitting comfortably on my chair while I write this week's post.  So Henry my dear, this entire post is dedicated to you and your stubbornness. 

Last week I wrote a plethora of information about the origins and creation of my mom's walker and my necklace.  This week I would like to write a little reflection about everything I learned, as I have had a while to process everything I researched.  (By the way, in case anyone was wondering, my food poisoning is completely better.)    

After doing intensive research about the walker and necklace, I have come to the conclusion that these two items are not very good for the environment.  While mom's walker may have been very necessary during her recovery after her hip replacement, it caused a lot of damage to the environment globally. It used two different kinds of plastic (which has so many problems in itself) and aluminum.  It wasted water, caused an obscene amount of GHG emissions, and had all its materials come from all over the world to assemble in New York, and then be distributed to Wisconsin.  This caused even more air pollution in transportation costs!  As for my necklace, it uses melting metal and silver to make this design.  It causes thermal, sound, and air pollution.  Could this little piece of metal on my neck really cause so much environmental harm?  Oh yes.  It already is. 

Since these two items are heavy in causing air pollution especially, how can we, as a global scale, help to reduce these environmental impacts?  Obviously the need for walkers may not decline any time soon, the way we create them can.  Instead of aluminum and plastics, is there a different reusable material that could be used?  Could recycled aluminum cans work?  For my necklace, even though I love it so much, could another material besides metal be used?  What about glass?  or recycled metal?  Using localized materials instead of combining different ones from worldwide would definitely reduce the amount of air pollution that is emitted, as well as save on transportation costs.  Why can't we use recycled materials in our own localized area instead?  Instead of buying a new walker for every patient, could it be passed down in families or donated back to hospitals or resold?  While these ideas would all be useful, I am doubtful that this would be implemented on a grand scale worldwide or even a regional one. 

It is difficult to change habitat, especially a worldwide.  Change is going to happen eventually, but it needs to start small.  Instead of asking for the whole world to change at once, I am just asking you.  Instead of buying a new necklace, try a resale shop.  Clean it up and give it to your loved one.  Use the same walker in your family.  Return to the hospital so new patients can use it.  Give a necklace you don't want any more to a resale shop or a shelter.  That could give someone hope.  One of my favorite rings is an old, flowered ring that my dad found in an old car (he's a car salesman).  It was abandoned and he tried to the owner, but after a year, he gave it to me instead.  Start small, and spread the word.  Don't just stand there and let bad things happen to our Earth.  Take a stand, reach out and tell someone, give hope and spread inspiration.  Spread your love and ideas about conservation and recycling.  Take these two materials of mine and use them as examples.  The next time you see a walker in the trash can in an ally, pick it up, clean it, and donate it to some place that needs it.  Instead of buying a new necklace, look at a resale shop, make your own, and look to see what materials are in it.          

Well my dear readers, Henry has finally moved off my computer chair.  After that ordeal, I am definitely sore.  I am going to head outside and go for a walk.  Until next week my friends. 

Spread the word about saving our Earth.  Spread my words.

~ Chelsea

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Research Project: Part Two


Today is another beautiful Sunday, and instead of going to my grandmother's house with my family, I have been inside all day at home recovering from food poisoning.  For the past two weeks, my grandmother has been in the hospital and now is at her home in hospice care.  Instead of visiting her every day like I have these past two weeks, I am laying on my mom's bed moaning and groaning in severe abdominal pain.  To those of you who have not had food poisoning before, trust me, it really sucks.  While I am resting on my mom's bed, I see her walker from her past hip replacement.  Last week I posted about how I was going to discover how my mom's walker and my necklace from my boyfriend are made and how they affect the earth.  Now instead of just laying here all day groaning more in pain, I am going to do some research on these things.

 

Walker:

My mom's walker is a standard "Deluxe Two Button Folding Universal Walker with 5" Wheels" by the company "Drive".  This walker has vinyl handles and plastic wheels while the frame is aluminum.  This walker, while it has a very fancy name, is the typical walker used with hip replacement and elderly patients (I do not have a cite for this fact, as I asked a nurse about this type of walker before I started this project).

 

To start my research, I am trying to locate where my mom's walker is made.  I could not find a location either online or on the walker specifically itself.  So, I started to research the company itself.  I figured out that the manufacturing plant is in Port Washington, New York (Drivemedical.com).  By matter of estimating, I am going to assume that this walker was created in Port Washington, New York.  After researching the location of where it was built, I would like to find out where the specific products are made (aluminum, vinyl, plastic).  I am going to start out with the wheels.  I located that walker wheels are made by Invacare. 

 

Plastic is made up of combination of crude oil, plants, minerals, natural gas, and coal (How is Plastic Made?).  To see how plastic is made, I found this neat YouTube video that helped me to understand it better.  Plastic causes much harm to the environment, as it takes our limited fossil fuels to make it (How is Plastic Made?).  The extraction process of oil is harmful.  In deep wells on land or in the ocean, water, steam, gas, or chemicals are shoved into the oil formation to pump the oil out of the reserve (Adventures in Energy).  Since the oil that is pushed out of the reserve also has other unwanted compounds in it, the refinery process uses a lot of water to get them out.  Since the waste water is then very salty, it cannot be reused (Adventures in Energy).  Most of the time, the waste water is tested for any "oil or other impurities" and then pumped back into the ocean with some success (Adventures in Energy).  In addition, the manufactory process uses 1.7% of US electricity to make plastics (eia.gov).  This process is causing air pollution from all the equipment that is needed, water pollution from possible oil spills and waste water, and can harm many fragile ecosystems by the land degradation that is caused by drilling.  Plastic does not break down in the environment, at least not in our lifetime, so what will happen when my mom won't need her walker anymore?  What are we going to do with it?

 

The frame of the walker is constructed of aluminum. Aluminum is made up of bauxite, which is commonly found in the rainforest, and it "must first be mined then chemically refined through the Bayer process to produce an intermediate product, aluminum oxide (alumina)" (Aluminum.org).  Aluminum is 100% recyclable, but "every three months, Americans throw away enough scrap aluminum to rebuild the entire U.S. Commerical Airplane Fleet.  Recycling that metal would save the energy equivalent of 16 million barrels of oil" (aluminum.org).  The process to get aluminum extracted is a water-wasting one, causing depletions of ground water and increasing waste water (including thermal pollution).      

 

Lastly, the handles of the walker are made up of vinyl.  When I first started researching vinyl, I realized that it is a special type of plastic!  Vinyl actually is made of more natural salt than fossil fuels, so it easier to recycle and causes less environmental damage as opposed to other plastics (What is Vinyl?).  As compared to other plastics, "vinyl requires lesser amounts of natural resources to make, utilizes much lesser energy from manufacture and also releases lower emissions into the environment" (What is Vinyl?).  While this type of plastic seems to be a cure-all to the development of plastic, it still uses 43% crude oil and other fossil fuels (What is Vinyl?).  Since it still uses fossil fuels, all of the same environmental impact as other plastics is still the same, just in slightly lower concentrations.

 

Wow.  That was a lot of information.  To say my food poisoning pain is still pretty bad, but now my mind is wandering in a million different directions.  This walker in the corner of the room in front of me came from all over the world.  Plastic from around the world, aluminum from rainforests, and vinyl from plastics all came together to be manufactured in New York as this standard walker.  It was delivered by truck to the local hospital, in which we picked it up there during my mom's hip replacement.  This walker is a global production, coming from all over the world.  I do not consider this to be local at all.  While I wasn't able to find exact locations in my search, I know that it most likely came from different places around the world, from crude oil to plastic production, and bauxite to aluminum.  The entire walker, once its purpose is done, is waste that will hopefully be recycled.  If not, the entire walker will take a plethora of years to break down, if it ever does.     

 

Necklace:
Finally.  The walker research took five hours, so hopefully I will be more successful in researching my necklace.  Just as a reminder, the
necklace is the one my boyfriend gave me for my 20th birthday.  Now since my necklace is engraved, I am just going to focus on the necklace itself and not the engraving process.  The necklace is a silver plated metal from Things Remembered, a United States company.  My necklace was crafted and bought from Madison, Wisconsin.  Both my boyfriend and I have tried to research where their manufacturing plant is, but the only information we could find is that it is a United States company that uses only US products.  Therefore, this product is regional (meaning country-wide in this case).  It had to have used a truck to get transported from where it was produced to where it was bought.    

      

Silver plated metal is completely metal, with a thin silver coating.  So, my necklace is made of metal with a very fine layer of silver coating it.  Metal is extracted from rocks, and then melted down and put into casts (HowStuffWorks).  The extraction process causes severe land degradation and air pollution, as they are destroying the land in order to dig up the rocks that they need and using heavy machinery (docbrown).  Since heavy machinery is used, burning of fossil fuels also adds to the air pollution.  In addition, there are concerns about sound pollution on the local ecosystems from extractions (docbrown).  There are many different types of metal extractions and metals.  All of them have effects on air quality.  Since heating the metal takes very high temperatures, the smoke and other residue create more air pollution, as well as high carbon dioxide emissions.  Small pieces of metal are shipped off to different places, in this case the jewelry to be casted into my necklace.  There it was melted back down into a mold and hardened into the shape it is today.  Silver is lightly painted on top of the metal for better appearance. 

 

The waste from this necklace was the packaging that it came in.  It came in a small jewelry box inside of a cardboard box.  The cardboard was the waste, and it was recycled.  Otherwise, the waste would have broken down eventually in a landfill since it is a paper product.           

 

Whoa.  Well.  I definitely learned a lot about my two items, and I hope you did too.  I have to give a huge shout out to my boyfriend for helping me try to locate the place where my necklace was made.  Now that I feel like my mystery of how these products are made is solved, I am going back to sleep and hopefully will recover from my food poisoning.  Until next week my dear readers!

~ Chelsea    

 

Walker:

http://www.globalindustrial.com/p/medical-lab/wheelchairs-1/medical-walkers-rollators/deluxe-two-button-folding-universal-walker-with-5-inch-wheels?infoParam.campaignId=T9F&gclid=CNXLyPaww78CFedAMgodSw4ARQ&gclsrc=aw.ds

 

YouTube Video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6eCt0VDg-Kc

 

Necklace:

http://www.thingsremembered.com/product/Recipient/Her/Fashion-Necklaces/Expressions-Scroll-Heart-Locket/pc/138/c/2570/sc/2756/160173.uts?refinementValueIds=4893&refinementValueIds=&refinementValueIds=&refinementValueIds=&refinementValueIds=4893&refinementValueIds=&refinementValueIds=&refinementValueIds=

 

Bibliography:

 

http://www.drivemedical.com/index.php/deluxe-folding-walker-two-button-with-5-wheels-713.html

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6eCt0VDg-Kc

http://www.aluminum.org/aluminum-advantage/student-educational-resources

http://www.whatisvinyl.com/

http://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.cfm?id=34&t=6

http://www.adventuresinenergy.org/exploration-and-production/Extracting-Oil-and-Natural-Gas.html

http://www.docbrown.info/page04/Mextracte.htm

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i6BIyQJZdTg

Sunday, July 6, 2014

The Start of a New Research Project


To anyone who is reading this, you have probably figured out by now that I am a very bubbly and compassionate girl.  I have bouncy blonde hair, dorky glasses, and "beautiful green eyes" (according to my boyfriend...).  I am a complete believer in having things that have a lot of meaning.  I have many things that hold special meaning to me.  This week, I am going to take two things that have this special meaning to me, and over the next couple of weeks, figure out how and where these things were created and their environmental impact.  To start off this project, I am going to figure out which two things I am going to track.... hmm... this could be difficult to decide!

The first thing that I choose is the walker that my mom had to use for two years to help her walk during both of her hip replacements.  I spent many hours helping her balance and learn to walk again with the assistance of her standard walker.  Because of the help of that walker, I can see my mom walk again without crying in pain.  (Please note, she is still in recovery, but she can walk without the walker or cane). It is a standard metal walker with hard plastic wheels and rubber handles.  

Secondly, I am going to research the history behind the necklace that my boyfriend gave me for my 20th birthday.  I wear it every day.  It is a simple, silver heart with my name engraved on the front cover.  It is a sterling silver necklace with black paint on the outside, creating a scroll-life apperance.  The necklace is a locket, so the inside opens up to hold a picture.  I do not have a picture in it at this moment.    

Well, while I start researching this week for my next post, wish me luck! 

Walker:

https://www.pathstonestore.org/getmetafile/4cb8e45b-8c3f-48c0-a6b4-450f5bce3357/Walker.aspx?maxSideSize=400

Necklace:

http://www.thingsremembered.com/product/Recipient/Her/Fashion-Necklaces/Expressions-Scroll-Heart-Locket/pc/138/c/2570/sc/2756/160173.uts?refinementValueIds=4893&refinementValueIds=&refinementValueIds=&refinementValueIds=&refinementValueIds=4893&refinementValueIds=&refinementValueIds=&refinementValueIds=

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Say Paper!


Say Paper!

 

It's a beautiful, sunny Sunday afternoon, and instead of reading my romance novel out of my backyard, I was watching a video online called "The Battle of the Bag".  Now instead of just writing a simple blog post about how we all need to go green and then grab my novel, head outside with my lounging blanket, and go read, I am sitting at my family's computer thinking deeply about human effects on the earth and being so ashamed.  After watching this video, I feel ashamed of not just humans in general, but specifically my own actions.  I have known about the many environmental impacts of the typical plastic bag, but I have not taken steps towards changing my use of them.  Watching this film on plastic bags has gravely affected me.  One impact of plastic bag waste is that they are life-threatening to sea turtles.  Turtles, not being able to decipher whether or not a plastic bag is a food source, end up taking bites of it, just like this sea Turtle.  These pieces of plastic gather in the internal digestive organs of sea turtles, ultimately killing them.  Just yesterday I finished reading a chapter in my textbook that featured a section about human causes of animal extinction.  After watching this video, I fear that plastic bags will eventually cause sea turtles to go extinct.  Now while I do not know the official counts of the entire populations of every sea turtle species in the world, I do know that as a whole Sea Turtle populations are dramatically dropping due to ocean changes ( More info on Sea Turtle Conservation here ).  Plastic bags are increasingly littering the ocean, causing more damage to the aquatic ecosystems.  In the video, Rebecca Hosking in Modbury, England noticed and did a documentary of the effects of plastic bags on marine life.  She has noticed over time that plastic bags are greatly accumulating on the ocean floor of where she likes to scuba dive.  With the increase of in plastic in the oceans, will ultimately result in more deaths of sea turtles.     


While I feel the need to grab my car keys and drive to a Florida beach to help rescue Sea Turtles from extinction due to plastic bags, I feel better knowing what Hosking did in her local town of Modbury to help.  She worked with local shopkeepers and showed them first-hand the damage that their plastic bags are doing.  The shopkeepers were so horrified (in which everyone should be...) that they took it with the local council to ban all plastic bags.  The town of Modbury, England only uses biodegradable bags, cloth and reusable bags, and paper.  This all happened because one person took a stand against something that was harming our earth.  If multiple people took a stand on plastic bags in the US, imagine what could happen!  I imagine that the Sea Turtle population would increase... but I will dream about my sea turtles in another post for another day.

The use of plastic bags is a wide-spread global problem, with main roots in local cultures.  Plastic bags affect not only the country that are using them, but the common areas of the world, like international waters.  Plastic bags are spreading across the world, and not just being contained in the one area that is using it.  So what can we as Americans do, especially because plastic bags are so engrained in our society?  We all know how difficult it can be to change a habit, especially one that is encouraged by society, so what can we do?  I think the solution is easier than we think it is.  We depend on them in super markets, stores, dog waste, and more.  But we can easily swipe out plastic bags for biodegradable ones, which will break down in the environment (as opposed to the 400 to 1,000 years that a plastic bag will decompose according to the video).  We can chose to use paper over plastic in grocery stores.  The choice is in us, not forced on us in society.  We, as individuals, need to pick a different source instead of plastic.  While the transition journey may take some time for everyone to grasp, it is definitely a step that needs to be taken.  Use paper at the grocery store, buy or make a reusable grocery bag ( here is a nifty idea ), and recycle your old plastic bags.  So the next time, my dear readers, you are at a grocery store and the bagger asks if you would like paper or plastic, say paper!   

Learning to Go Green!

~ Chelsea   

 

Turtle:

http://greenhouseneutralfoundation.org/articles/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/turtle_plasticbag031-600x375.jpg

 

More information here:

http://www.conserveturtles.org/seaturtleinformation.php?page=whycareaboutseaturtles

 

Modbury:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/devon/7067104.stm

 

Idea:

http://www.pinterest.com/pin/483644447454928742/