Monday, December 17, 2007

The Little Things Add Up

One of the overriding themes behind the "environmental crisis" is the fact that we tend to be very wasteful. Whether it's leaving the TV on when we leave the house or throwing out a half-eaten sandwich, we all find little ways to be wasteful without even thinking about it.

Unfortunately, all of these little transgressions add up over time and amount to a lot of wasted energy and resources.

Let's take those little ketchup packets you get from any fast-food restaurant. When you're on the go and you need some ketchup, if you're like most people, you probably just grab a handful of these packets, use the ones you need and then throw the unused packets out with the rest of your trash.

When you throw those unused packets away, not only are you needlessly creating more trash, but you're also wasting all of the energy and resources that went into making that packet.

While it may seem trivial, think of all the resources and energy that needed to be used in order for you to have that ketchup packet in the first place:
  • Land, water and (likely) fertilizers to grow many of the ingredients (tomatoes, sugar, etc.)
  • Energy (probably in the form of burned fossil fuels) to harvest said ingredients.
  • Energy (probably in the form of burned fossil fuels) to transport raw materials for processing.
  • Energy to turn ingredients into ketchup.
  • Energy to put ketchup in plastic packets (which are petroleum based products)
  • Energy to transport packets to end destination.
By mindlessly throwing out a ketchup packet or two, you're wasting all of the energy and resources I mentioned above - and in my simplistic view I probably missed a bunch of steps.

Long story short, try and be mindful of the little wasteful things that you do each and every day. In the end, all of these little precautions really will amount to a big difference.

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