Friday, June 11, 2010

Environmental Stewardship

While Utahans rarely have environmental concerns at the top of their priorities, I’ve overheard a lot more people talking about this topic lately with the BP Gulf oil spill disaster constantly in the news. So, I thought I better take advantage during the week we still care about this issue, to offer my concerns about some areas where Utah may be adding to the overall environmental pollution problem.

  • Jello packaging – I think few people give proper thought to something as small as Jello packaging. But add up the tens of millions of these little boxes and bags over the years, and it’s an environmental time-bomb.

  • Xanax wrappers – With a consumption rate of over 1.17 billion pills a year in Utah, the aluminum and plastic pill wrappers must be adding tons of long-term waste to our landfills. Here’s to hoping that we can move to more environmentally-friendly anti-depressant wrappers before it’s too late. For the environment, of course, not for the people. It’s never too late for you. Unless it’s after 9pm on a week night, and then I'm sure it can wait until the next day.

  • Minivan exhaust – I should throw in all SUV exhaust, I suppose. Utah possibly leads the nation in SUV-to-person ratio. While Californians have really gotten into the spirit of emissions reduction with driving those teeny, little, gas-sipping Toyota Prius’, in Utah it’s super-size all the way. My solution? Reduce the speed limit to 20 MPH, and only allow cars with four passengers. If you need to haul more than four people around, you’ll need to attach a Red Flyer wagon to the back of the car.

  • Used gun shells and lead shot – Drive to any out-of-the-way area in Utah and you’re bound to find truck-loads of empty gun shells. The average Utah male shoots six times his body weight in bullets per year, making Utah the only state to expose the environment to more lead from guns than from Chinese imports.

  • Empty two litter soda and gallon ice cream containers – Utah is one of only a handful of states that even sells the one gallon plastic ice cream containers. Place these containers end-to-end along with the two litter soda bottles discarded each year, and the line of plastic would reach the moon. Six times. Please, do your bodies and the environment a favor at the same time.

  • Methane production at the MTC – Bringing in thousands of young men from all over the country and providing them access to buffet-style eating for three meals a day produces more methane gas than a commercial dairy farm. Any of you that have visited the MTC, or served a mission, know exactly what I’m talking about. We stop by every few months to serve as “investigators,” and I’m telling you, they should be required to hand out gas masks for any visitors entering rooms with more than three missionaries. Someone really needs to do a long-term methane-exposure study on the teachers there. Who knows what that level of exposure can lead to?

  • Solo cups used for signs - I believe Utah is unique with people feeling authorized to use millions of plastic Solo cups each year in making personal signs in the chain link fences guarding overpasses. I can rarely drive from Orem to Provo down University Parkway without having to read a, 'Welcome Back Elder X,' or, 'I Love you X,' message on the overpass fence by Shopko. Can't we limit these signs to biodegradable paper in the front yard of the message giver, or receiver, like everywhere else?

    1. Well, Salt Lake County just had its own little oil spill, so maybe people down there’ll start paying a little more attention.

      Wait, sorry, that’s probably just the Benadryl and Diet Coke talking again.

    2. I had a YW Pres. testify to me of the importance of having multiple paper handouts with pics and quotes on for EVERY lesson (and activity).

    3. Maureen - Trees grow back, right? And, by holding back from using paper products, think of all those poor loggers who will go without work.

    4. Capture and use the methane at the MTC to power the washers and dryers,etc. Renewable resourse, ya know.