Posts Tagged 'environment'

Be the difference: reduce

adventure, ball-shaped, blurEarth Day is coming up next weekend, so I am a little bit early with this post. But it’s never too early to start doing our part to save the earth. Earth Day is just one day and while doing something resourceful on that day is great, it is not enough to combat all of the problems that we are experiencing with the environment.

One way for us to be the difference for our earth is participating in cleanups, planting trees, or doing other “Earth Day activities.” However, we can do so much more that will make a greater difference in the end. And surprisingly some of the actions we can take to combat pollution lies in making very small changes in our everyday lives. On average, Americans produce 1,606 pounds of trash a year. That is a lot! And while we can do our part by picking up maybe 10 pounds of trash during a highway cleanup once a year, that doesn’t even make a dent in the amount of trash we are producing during that year.

A lot of the trash that we make comes from everyday things such as water bottles, plastic bags, paper products, coffee cups, straws, and the list goes on and on. The thing about all of these products is there are better options out there.

Instead of using plastic water bottles everyday just to throw them out, go our and buy a nice reusable one. I for one believe that a reusable water bottle has the added benefit of helping you drink more water too. Instead of asking for plastic bags at the grocery store every time, buy a few reusable canvas bags and bring them with you every time you shop. They also hold up better, so you can fit more items in less bags, meaning you will have less trips from the car to the house to bring your items in with you. Instead of using paper towels, get reusable rags that will do the same trick. Instead of taking coffee in a to go cup every morning, get a nice thermos or mug that you can reuse. Plus, you can hold a lot more coffee in these and it will stay hot for a lot longer. You can’t say no to lots of hot coffee. Instead of using disposable plastic straws in your drinks, buy a reusable plastic or metal straw. Another pro tip is that drinking from a straw also helps you drink more water. So go out and get yourself some awesome reusable products so you can start reducing the amount of trash that you make.

I want to see you all out doing great things on Earth Day, but I also want to see a lot more reusable products in all of your hands around campus. Be the difference to the earth today.

Alicia Diedrich


A healthier you and a healthier Earth


There are so many reasons to adapt a healthier eating regimen, but let me add this one to the list. Eating healthier not only helps you be healthier, but it also helps our planet out, too.

When the New Year rolled around a few months ago, I had to think long about a New Year’s resolution that I wouldn’t quit on after only a few weeks or a month. My final consensus was to no longer eat red meat. And this was not an easy sacrifice to make, either, especially because my grandfather is a commercial beef farmer, and my house is riddled with frozen pounds of delicious steaks and hamburgers. I wanted to start making a positive change and serve as an example, too, so I went ahead and gave it up anyway.

In 2011, a non-profit in Washington D.C., the Environmental Working Group, conducted a study on how the types of meat we consume impacts the environment based on the amount of greenhouse gases emitted through the industry per kilogram of the meat consumed. Lamb meat was ranked the worst for the environment, spitting out about 86.6 pounds of greenhouse gases per kilogram of meat.

I don’t eat a lot of lamb, so giving up that type of meat was easy and not all that impactful in my opinion. Beef came in second worse, according to the study, producing 59.5 pounds of greenhouse gases per kilogram. Then pork, at 26.5 pounds. And chicken showed to be the most environmentally friendly meat, producing only 15. 5 pounds of greenhouse gases per kilogram eaten.

These numbers were enough to make me reconsider my food choices. Along with the well-known fact that chicken is much learner that beef. Since beef is so high in fat and cholesterol, if consumed too regularly, it can lead to heart disease, high cholesterol and other fat-related diseases. It only made sense to me to discontinue my hamburger obsession and turn to turkey burgers.

Along with the greenhouse gas issue, meat also takes a toll on the supply and demand for clean water. Throughout the farming processes, we have to keep in mind the plant side of what goes into maintaining livestock. In order to keep cows, you have to feed them. In order to feed them, you have to grow corn and soybeans. These plants then require watering, and many farmers use pesticides and herbicides in order to ensure their harvest. This creates toxic run off and toxic soil, affecting all living organisms around these plants, eventually dwindling down to affecting us. So when it came to the choice to set aside a steak or poison the ground we walk on, I couldn’t choose the latter.

Now, in no way am I a vegetarian, and in no way do I condemn anyone who just can’t separate from his or her steak. I feel you. But it doesn’t have to be to beef or not to beef. It is more of a how-often-do-you-eat-it kind of ordeal. By choosing beef less often, by only eating it once or twice a week, we could reduce greenhouse gas emission, land and water use by up to 45 percent. On top of that, we’d be investing in our own health, helping us breath in fewer harmful toxins in the air, purifying our water and consuming less fat. Eating less red meat is a win-win — a happier, healthier you and me and a happier, healthier planet and future.

Environmental health is our health too

IMG_1123.JPGA few weeks ago I may have spoken too soon, because NOW we are finally getting to see some beautiful Milwaukee spring  weather. It is incredible just how much my mood lifts when I wake up in the morning to warm air and sunshine in my windows. All I want to do is go outside and lie down in the grass.

Here in Milwaukee, we can be thankful to have at least some grass space, especially on Marquette’s campus. For such an urban area we are lucky to have so many parks and a preserved shoreline of Lake Michigan. Other urban areas are not so fortunate, though. We humans have managed to plow our way through nature in order to build our society. And don’t worry, I will not go all tree-hugger here on you, but we need to take the time to be grateful and conscious of the wildlife around us.

For this reason, Marquette’s Diederich College of Communication professional in residence Joe Brown has brought the Great Lakes Film Festival (GLEFF) back to Marquette for a second year. Brown once worked on a film festival during his time in Colorado and decided to throw a similar event in Milwaukee. The festival’s purpose is to bring people closer with the nature around them.

“The idea is really to inspire people to act. I think one of the big things is that film does have the ability to take you places, like rainforests, lakes and oceans. We can actually go there and see that with film,” he said.

This year the festival will take place this weekend, starting on Thursday and running through Sunday. The films presented range from locally to internationally based topics, such as Great Lakes footage, to fracking films, to climbing stories. “We also like to think globally and act locally,” Brown explained.

He mentioned that an environmental film festival may show many films that will be issue-based, but there will be some pieces that just celebrate nature. He and a group of volunteer students sorted and watched all of the GLEFF film submissions and also curated a few films from other film festivals over the past few months.

So… why do we care? Well, the earth we have is the only one we’ve got. And the environment plays a huge role in our wellness. Plus, GLEFF is free, runs all weekend and is located right here on campus. Taking the time to learn more about the world around us could help us keep our planet as healthy as possible, and in turn, keep us as healthy as possible as well.

Brown put it like this: “I hope that people see some of these films and are inspired to think about the natural world in a different way and are inspired to take action, whether it is going out on a river cleanup or getting involved in their nature center and teaching children about nature and learning more about nature themselves. I hope that people reconnect and appreciate nature, especially in this super mediated age.”

A full schedule for the festival can be found here on the GLEFF website. All students, staff, friends and family are welcome.

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