Now I’m going to do something a little different here than my normal pretty travel photos. I’m going to talk about pollution, garbage, and animal trekking. As I flew back from my most recent trip to Thailand, I had quite a bit of time to reflect on the nearly thirty countries that I’ve visited during my lifetime . Planet earth is an absolutely amazing place with such a variety of scenery, a huge array of animals, and people of so many different cultures.
Even though we all come from many different backgrounds and cultures we’re all trying to do the same thing; to provide food and shelter for ourselves and our loved ones. Some people have it easier than others, and some countries in general have an easier time than others being able to provide these necessary staples of life.
I’ve noticed that in very privileged countries, such as the one I live in, Canada, we certainly take a lot of things for granted; access to good education, good all-inclusive healthcare, reasonable social services (even though a few people unfortunately slip through the cracks), and wonderful clean air. What I’ve noticed from visiting less privileged countries is that the people are absolutely thankful for what they have, even if it isn’t all that much in comparison to what we have here in Canada. I’ve met some of the most wonderful people in my life in some of the poorest countries in the world. They would certainly give their shirt of their back, and food off their plate to anyone they felt was in need or worthy of it. Ask yourselves, when was the last time you did something nice or went out of your way for someone?
Pollution is another thing I’ve noticed in my travels. The world has a very serious problem with pollution and garbage. In my country, I’m very lucky to have a garbage truck pick up the garbage from my house and take it to the dump where I, and others, forget about it. I also get to breathe some of the cleanest air in the world. In many of the countries I’ve visited, especially in South America and Asia, I can’t say they have the same privileges that we do. Many of the countries don’t have the infrastructure for garbage pick-up and processing, and suffocate under a fog of continuous pollution. Thailand, India and China was the biggest eye opener for me. There was garbage everywhere and I was gasping for fresh air in Bangkok, Thailand and Beijing, China. I get to go home to the clean air in Canada, but people living in these cities unfortunately have to breathe this extremely polluted air every day, and have a serious garbage problem.
So what can we do about this this? This is a pretty in depth topic so I’m going to lay out my thoughts as followed based on my personal opinion, and what I’ve read. I’ll break it down into categories because it’s easier to pick at.
Public transportation is a wonderful thing. The best public transportation networks I’ve ever used have been in Japan, and parts of Europe. Clean, fast and efficient trains available, on the cheap, to the masses. Yes they’re partially subsidized by the taxpayers of the country, but everyone, as a whole, benefits. Even if the electricity generated isn’t from a clean renewable source, it will be isolated to a particular area so that you’re not choking on fumes in a big city, not that I condone dirty electricity consumption.
This is a huge one where we, as a whole, benefit. But I’m going to throw a curveball at you here; I’m not talking about wind farms, solar, or hydro-electric dams in particular. There’s many ways to skin a cat and it all depends on the region you’re in. In Iceland, they rely heavily on geothermal electricity , which is great because the country already has angry, bubbling gases trying to make their way to the surface, so why not harness that power. I n Canada, we have some natural waterways that have a huge amount of potential power, so why not harness that power in form of hydroelectric power? O r in California where the sun is shining almost all the time; let’s harness the solar power. It should all be dependent on the region that you’re in. Even if we upgraded from coal power to natural gas, the world would have an estimated 30-40 percent reduction in greenhouse gases. This is huge! Meanwhile the majority of the Middle East and South America is flaring their gas because it’s cheaper than to sell it at a huge loss. We have to stop thinking in economic terms, because every time we do, we are not making the correct decision for the planet as a whole. Economic viability will usually contradict environmentally sensitive activities.
Ban Paper Flyer Advertising:
This one is self explanatory. Eighty percent of the world now has internet access. Pollute the information highway with ads, not our mailboxes and the environment. So much paper is wasted in a completely unnecessary fashion.
Ban / Limit Diesel:
Sitting in traffic in Bangkok, Thailand and sitting on the plane at Beijing, China made me realize how horrific diesel really is. I was literally gasping for fresh air. Visibility was also atrocious. Yes, it has loads of torque but, it’s a filthy fuel. Look at the whole Volkswagen scandal. There are plenty of others now being caught with their pants down, such as Chrysler. A huge initiative by Thailand is LPG powered Tuk Tuks, and in India and China are electric powered Tuk Tuks and Taxi’s. Natural gases, and gasoline are significantly cleaner to burn than diesel, even with all those urea based and regenerative exhaust systems. It’s a start, but it’s not a permanent solution.
Ban Plastic Grocery Bags:
This one is a given. I’m not saying ban plastic bags all together, as we still need them for garbage, but we should be using reusable bags for groceries, and glass or plastic containers for lunches. There are no excuses. Stop being lazy. Even in the poorest of countries, I see them using reusable bags more than we do. Oh, and getting back to garbage bags; let’s switch to biodegradable garbage bags. Most “garbage” isn’t actually garbage anyways , it’s compostable or recyclable.
It’s a farce . Wait, what? This is going against everything we’ve been told and what I just mentioned above! It depends on what is to being recycled. If you purchase a beverage from a store in a container, that container should be washable, and reusable. It should not just be a single use item that is either thrown in the garbage or melted down and crushed to form a new product. In some areas of Europe, they already does this to great success. Cardboard, although a wonderful thing, is still mostly made from virgin materials. This is not good! Oh and wait, how are all these recyclables picked up? With big diesel belching trucks that get 4-6 mpg and spew out tons of emissions. So what can we do to stop this? With our pocketbooks! We can vote against one product over another. Certain companies are very sensitive to the environment; so buy products from them instead, and force other companies to adapt. Also, just buy less stuff. Which leads me into my next point.
Let’s reduce consumption, and stop buying single use items (bring a fork from home, don’t use the plastic ones). Embrace minimalism and buy less stuff. Enjoy fewer, but more well-made, quality products. Companies should also be willing to make products that last. Economic greed is what is driving most companies to make products that last just long enough to satisfy their warranties, and then they don’t care about them. There are a few companies that do stand out as making good quality dependable products. I’m going to focus on Toyota for this one. They generally make stand up products that last a long time with, basic common sense and on-time maintenance.
Let’s stop being selfish and think about the world as a whole. The “not my problem” mentality, has to stop. That mentality will be the sure demise of the human race and the planet, if we keep it up. Think of the future, and of others. If you see some garbage blowing around, pick it up. If a company is making a deplorable product that is horrible for the environment, don’t support them. If something is inhumane, don’t partake in it.
Don’t support bad activities such as animal trekking. In some parts of the world, there is still some serious inhumane treatment of animals, such as monkeys and elephants, for economic gain. Don’t support these activities. They are completely wrong. Instead, educate others about these activities so they also can pass along the knowledge to others. Let’s snuff these activities out!
So please love yourself, love your body, love your neighbours and love our fellow humans. We’re all in this together; we can’t keep thinking of ourselves as individuals. Even if this post only changes 10 people directly, it is my hope that these people spread it with others. Feel free to share this post, comment, argue, banter, etc. Discussion about this stuff is important.
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