Letters: This Earth Day consider how to help the environment
Plastic at center of pollution issue
The April 14 article on pollution invading Rocky Mountain National Park draws useful attention to the serious problem of increased pollution in Colorado. It overlooks, however, a key category in the pollution conversation: plastics. Plastics pollution, particularly in drinking water, is a globally pervasive and increasingly harmful problem.
Beyond Plastics at Bennington College in Vermont, where I currently attend, educates the public about the harm of plastics, including in our drinking water. Even when I return home to beautiful Breckenridge, however, I can’t pretend that my water is ever truly clean.
Microplastics are the remains of partially broken-down plastic often arising from single-use packagings such as straws, plastic bags and polystyrene. This debris (comprised of particles less than 5 millimeters in size) lasts for eternity in our oceans. The contamination of microplastics has been found globally, from the polar ice caps to human feces.
Bottled water won’t save us from drinking microplastics, even if the water itself comes from a clear Rocky Mountain spring. That thin-plastic water bottle (made from chemicals and ethane, a byproduct of fracked gas) has been degrading since it was made, shedding microplastics into the water you plan to swallow.
With billions of tons of plastic dumping into the ocean annually, the real solution is upstream. We must end the production of single-use plastics. We have reusable alternatives. We can demand of our representatives that Colorado adopt laws to reduce plastic packagings, such as bans on plastic bags, straws and polystyrene.
Colorado has unmatched natural beauty, and as the lovers of this land, it is our responsibility to keep it vibrant.
A healthier planet starts in the meat department
April 22 marks a half-century of celebrating Earth Day, but do we observe it? We can each do our part by reducing our driving, use of electricity and consumption of animals.
Why the focus on meat and dairy? A recent article in Nature argues that animal agriculture is a major driver of climate change, air and water pollution, and depletion of soil and freshwater resources. Oxford University’s prestigious Food Climate Research Network reports that solving the global warming catastrophe requires a massive shift to plant-based eating.
Animal agriculture results in carbon dioxide emissions due to burning forests to create animal pastures and the operation of machinery to raise and transport animals. More damaging methane and nitrous oxide are released from digestive tracts of cattle and animal waste ponds, respectively. Meat and dairy production dumps more animal waste, fertilizers, pesticides, and are a driving force behind wildlife extinction.
An environmentally sustainable world demands that meat and dairy products in our diet be replaced by vegetables, fruits and grains, just as fossil fuels are replaced by wind, solar and other pollution-free energy sources.
Let’s celebrate the observance of Earth Day at our supermarket.
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