I was focused on finishing my semester strong and then as soon as I was ready to write again, something happened and I couldn’t quite find the words to jot down anymore.
Now, I prefer to stay far, far away from politics and all the conversations surrounding them BUT I must say, it is a hard time to be an environmental scientist in the U.S. right now. President Trump’s decision to remove the U.S. from the Paris agreement involving global climate change has shaken the science community to its core. Article after article has been published explaining all sides of this decision, the timeframe concerning it, national polls and a plethora of other conspiracy theories and general digression. However, I am not using this platform to discuss my views or to question the views of others. I am here to talk about what this all means for our “Green Schemes” moving forward.
Now more than ever is the time to follow through with our “green” actions. It doesn’t matter if you live in the U.S. and have experienced the shockwave that has hit or if you live 1,000 miles away in an unconcerned country. Our actions of citizens of this living and breathing planet will echo through time, outliving political term lengths and opinionated rants. We must now more than ever before, take steps that lead to a more environmentally conscious tomorrow. Our “Green Schemes” must continue to be woven into our lives deliberately and with forward thinking. For those of you that are feeling disheartened, you are not alone. But if your small voice in a crowd is followed by a symphony of other voices whom are all singing for the same cause, then one may not feel so helpless anymore. Continue to nourish our natural world by doing your best as a human to reduce your impact. Continue to fight the good fight for every tree and every animal that doesn’t have a voice. Continue to show tolerance and patience for other humans who just don’t get it. Continue to grow your “Green Scheme” to its greenest and share it with the world.
Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, has just announced the release of their solar roof designs and they are stunning! The tiles come in four functional varieties based on texture and look. With the options of textured, smooth, tuscan or slate, there is a solar roof design for almost anyone! The tiles are made of tempered glass and have been built to withstand impacts such as hail traveling at over 100 mph! With a lifetime warranty on the glass tiles and a 30 year warranty on the solar cells embedded within them, they are proving to be a great investment for any environmentally conscience household. The solar roof also allows homeowners freedom from “the grid” which gives back the power over the power to the owner and not the electric company.
Now for the real question…how much?!
Tesla states that its preliminary price for the solar roof is about $22 per square foot when mixed with traditional tiles or $42 per square foot for only solar tiles. Long-term payoffs are really dependent on the structure, location and size of your house and so Tesla has provided a price calculator that helps homeowners to determine if solar roofing leaves them with a return percentage on their investment over the course of the 30 year cell-life of the purchased tiles.
Now, as these preliminary prices seem steep for your average family who is not designing a luxury home, reports show that if Tesla can generate enough sales and return investments over the course of the next 5-10 years then costs of installation will surely go down significantly. This means we need to promote this “Green Scheme” design as much as possible and implement in our own lives if we have the means. The more sales we help generate, the brighter our future may look!
For many of us, this past weekend was Easter weekend. This means that a ton of us humans from all around the world, went out and spent our money on clothes, candy, flowers, food and gifts. The National Retail Federation actually projected this year’s Easter spending to be a grand total of $17.3 BILLION DOLLARS! With the breakdown being- $3 billion on clothing, $2.4 billion on candy, $1.2 billion on flowers, $5.5 billion on food and $2.2 billion on gifts. These numbers are certainly striking but I am not really here to discuss dollars and cents as much as I am here to talk about the environmental impact of it all.
Now, for a majority of us celebrators of this holiday, a portion of the billion dollar Easter deficit is spent on things like plastic window clings for decorating, candy in plastic wrappers, candy in plastic wrappers in a bigger plastic wrapper, multicolored hollow plastic eggs, little plastic bunny and chick figurines, fake plastic “grass” for our baskets and rolls of plastic gift wrap to wrap it all up in. The overuse of such a persistent and potentially non-biodegradable product is what is really alarming about this past holiday. The image below shows just how long it takes for different types of plastics to decompose naturally or “biodegrade”. Today, we only talked about Easter so, can you imagine how much plastic we use just for global holiday celebrations annually!? I shutter at the thought.
(Link for Nation Retail Association article: https://nrf.com/media/press-releases/nrf-says-easter-spending-will-reach-173-billion)
So very many companies, organizations, and foundations SAY they want to “better the community”. They present their own “Green Scheme’s” from beautification of parks to restoration of habitats to beach cleanups. Although these “Green Scheme’s” seem appealing, some are actually what I like to call “green scams”. They pull at the moral heart strings of environmentalists, nature-lovers, economists and general hippies who occupy the community and when those are lacking, businesses love to back anything presented to them as being “green”. The scams generate enough economical interest to get off the ground but thats usually where the party ends. You may see a sign or two at the local park, pier or playground, or maybe you heard about it from a friend, or from a local news channel. Either way, these schemes always seem short lived and work is either not done at all or done and not maintained for the long-run. However, that is not why I consider these initiatives “green scams” per se. The issue with these short-term projects is that all the focus to “better the community” lies in the dollars and cents generated while an invaluable resources goes to waste in the process-THE COMMUNITY!
For a passionate initiative to gain steam and really make a difference in a community, especially like those encased in the fast-paced and unforgiving New York City, the community has to be the heart. Communities and townships all over the country DO come up with inventive ways to better their natural environments and to preserve the eco-centrisim that still lives there. Through positive incentives like food, beer, prizes and even money (another very important green), communities are making a difference on their own terms! I believe that adopting these ideas of beautifying/cleaning for a personal benefit whether it be a free slice of pizza, a free beer or a voucher for free entry to the newest nightclub, is the best way to get community members involved and engaged. It also brings attention and press to local businesses whose “foods for cause” or “freebies for helpers” may be enjoyed in numbers they would not have otherwise seen that day or week. Bringing revenue to local businesses and conservation to surrounding habitat is a recipe for a perfect “Green Scheme“! Let’s try to bring it home to NYC!
Part of my “Green Scheme” is volunteering with an amazing non-profit organization called Gotham Whale. They strive “To study, advocate for, and educate about the whales and marine mammals of New York City, through Citizen Science.” This weekend they invited me to join them in exhibiting at an event called Beneath the Sea at the Meadowlands Exhibition Center in Secaucus, New Jersey.
During my time at the exposition, I met many humans who live “beneath the sea”. This small yet brotherly population of people have learned to breathe, explore, record, and create, beneath the sea. Some design suits that act as a second skin equipped to handle a foreign environment while others blaze trails through unknown and unexplored oases and wrecks, all while living beneath the sea.
Having spent a short time of my own (Study Abroad program during college) learning to become a certified diver and visiting the coral reefs of Jamaica, I live in awe and admiration for the skills and techniques of all the humans who live “beneath the sea”. These pictures are just a small snapshot (no pun intended!) into the specialities of these humans…enjoy 🙂
This post is not so much about “The Green Scheme“, even though living more sustainable and eco-centric lives are the first steps to solving this global crisis. This post is about humans- whether you are green, blue, yellow, white, black, brown, or pink. There are over 600 MILLION humans around the world who do not have access to clean drinking water, a luxury most of us take for granted every single day. So, today let’s remember that we all play a role on this planet and the lifestyles we live echo through time and space to effect all other living things on Earth. Visit drop4drop.org to get informed and donate to the cause and don’t forget to put your W‘s up on social media and tag @drop4drop/#drop4drop to show your support!