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Friday, July 18, 2014

Spread the Word, Spread my Words

Just to let you all know, I sitting at the very edge of mycomputer chair right now.  My kittenHenry has decided to park his little bottom on my chair and is refusing tomove.  I have tried moving him severaltimes, but he keeps coming back.  So, Ihave given up all hope of sitting comfortably on my chair while I write thisweek's post.  So Henry my dear, thisentire post is dedicated to you and your stubbornness. 

Last week I wrote a plethora of information about theorigins and creation of my mom's walker and my necklace.  This week I would like to write a little reflectionabout everything I learned, as I have had a while to process everything Iresearched.  (By the way, in case anyonewas wondering, my food poisoning is completely better.)    

After doing intensive research about the walker andnecklace, I have come to the conclusion that these two items are not very goodfor the environment.  While mom's walkermay have been very necessary during her recovery after her hip replacement, itcaused a lot of damage to the environment globally. It used two different kindsof plastic (which has so many problems in itself) and aluminum.  It wasted water, caused an obscene amount ofGHG emissions, and had all its materials come from all over the world toassemble in New York, and then be distributed to Wisconsin.  This caused even more air pollution intransportation costs!  As for mynecklace, it uses melting metal and silver to make this design.  It causes thermal, sound, and airpollution.  Could this little piece ofmetal on my neck really cause so much environmental harm?  Oh yes. It already is. 

Since these two items are heavy in causing air pollutionespecially, how can we, as a global scale, help to reduce these environmentalimpacts?  Obviously the need for walkersmay not decline any time soon, the way we create them can.  Instead of aluminum and plastics, is there adifferent reusable material that could be used? Could recycled aluminum cans work? For my necklace, even though I love it so much, could another materialbesides metal be used?  What aboutglass?  or recycled metal?  Using localized materials instead ofcombining different ones from worldwide would definitely reduce the amount ofair pollution that is emitted, as well as save on transportation costs.  Why can't we use recycled materials in ourown localized area instead?  Instead ofbuying a new walker for every patient, could it be passed down in families ordonated back to hospitals or resold? While these ideas would all be useful, I am doubtful that this would beimplemented on a grand scale worldwide or even a regional one. 

It is difficult to change habitat, especially aworldwide.  Change is going to happen eventually,but it needs to start small.  Instead of askingfor the whole world to change at once, I am just asking you.  Instead of buying a new necklace, try aresale shop.  Clean it up and give it toyour loved one.  Use the same walker inyour family.  Return to the hospital sonew patients can use it.  Give a necklaceyou don't want any more to a resale shop or a shelter.  That could give someone hope.  One of my favorite rings is an old, floweredring that my dad found in an old car (he's a car salesman).  It was abandoned and he tried to the owner,but after a year, he gave it to me instead. Start small, and spread the word. Don't just stand there and let bad things happen to our Earth.  Take a stand, reach out and tell someone,give hope and spread inspiration.  Spreadyour love and ideas about conservation and recycling.  Take these two materials of mine and use themas examples.  The next time you see awalker in the trash can in an ally, pick it up, clean it, and donate it to someplace that needs it.  Instead of buying anew necklace, look at a resale shop, make your own, and look to see whatmaterials are in it.          

Well my dear readers, Henry has finally moved off mycomputer chair.  After that ordeal, I amdefinitely sore.  I am going to headoutside and go for a walk.  Until next week my friends. 

Spread the word about saving our Earth.  Spread my words.

~ Chelsea

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Research Project: Part Two

Today is another beautiful Sunday, and instead of going to mygrandmother's house with my family, I have been inside all day at home recoveringfrom food poisoning.  For the past twoweeks, my grandmother has been in the hospital and now is at her home inhospice care.  Instead of visiting herevery day like I have these past two weeks, I am laying on my mom's bed moaningand groaning in severe abdominal pain. To those of you who have not had food poisoning before, trust me, itreally sucks.  While I am resting on mymom's bed, I see her walker from her past hip replacement.  Last week I posted about how I was going todiscover how my mom's walker and my necklace from my boyfriend are made and howthey affect the earth.  Now instead ofjust laying here all day groaning more in pain, I am going to do some researchon these things.



My mom's walkeris a standard "Deluxe Two Button Folding Universal Walker with 5" Wheels"by the company "Drive".  Thiswalker has vinyl handles and plastic wheels while the frame is aluminum.  This walker, while it has a very fancy name,is the typical walker used with hip replacement and elderly patients (I do nothave a cite for this fact, as I asked a nurse about this type of walker beforeI started this project).


To start my research, I am trying to locate where my mom's walker ismade.  I could not find a location eitheronline or on the walker specifically itself. So, I started to research the company itself.  I figured out that the manufacturing plant isin Port Washington, New York (Drivemedical.com).  By matter of estimating, I am going to assumethat this walker was created in Port Washington, New York.  After researching the location of where itwas built, I would like to find out where the specific products are made(aluminum, vinyl, plastic).  I am goingto start out with the wheels.  I locatedthat walker wheels are made by Invacare. 


Plastic is made up of combination of crude oil, plants, minerals,natural gas, and coal (How is Plastic Made?). To see how plastic is made, I found this neat YouTube video that helpedme to understand it better.  Plasticcauses much harm to the environment, as it takes our limited fossil fuels to makeit (How is Plastic Made?).  Theextraction process of oil is harmful.  Indeep wells on land or in the ocean, water, steam, gas, or chemicals are shovedinto the oil formation to pump the oil out of the reserve (Adventures inEnergy).  Since the oil that is pushedout of the reserve also has other unwanted compounds in it, the refineryprocess uses a lot of water to get them out. Since the waste water is then very salty, it cannot be reused(Adventures in Energy).  Most of thetime, the waste water is tested for any "oil or other impurities" andthen pumped back into the ocean with some success (Adventures in Energy).  In addition, the manufactory process uses1.7% of US electricity to make plastics (eia.gov).  This process is causing air pollution from allthe equipment that is needed, water pollution from possible oil spills andwaste water, and can harm many fragile ecosystems by the land degradation thatis caused by drilling.  Plastic does notbreak down in the environment, at least not in our lifetime, so what willhappen when my mom won't need her walker anymore?  What are we going to do with it?


The frame of the walker is constructed of aluminum. Aluminum is made upof bauxite, which is commonly found in the rainforest, and it "must firstbe mined then chemically refined through the Bayer process to produce anintermediate product, aluminum oxide (alumina)" (Aluminum.org).  Aluminum is 100% recyclable, but "everythree months, Americans throw away enough scrap aluminum to rebuild the entireU.S. Commerical Airplane Fleet. Recycling that metal would save the energyequivalent of 16 million barrels of oil" (aluminum.org).  The process to get aluminum extracted is awater-wasting one, causing depletions of ground water and increasing wastewater (including thermal pollution).      


Lastly, the handles of the walker are made up of vinyl.  When I first started researching vinyl, Irealized that it is a special type of plastic! Vinyl actually is made of more natural salt than fossil fuels, so iteasier to recycle and causes less environmental damage as opposed to otherplastics (What is Vinyl?).  As comparedto other plastics, "vinyl requires lesser amounts of natural resources tomake, utilizes much lesser energy from manufacture and also releases lower emissionsinto the environment" (What is Vinyl?). While this type of plastic seems to be a cure-all to the development ofplastic, it still uses 43% crude oil and other fossil fuels (What isVinyl?).  Since it still uses fossilfuels, all of the same environmental impact as other plastics is still thesame, just in slightly lower concentrations.


Wow.  That was a lot ofinformation.  To say my food poisoningpain is still pretty bad, but now my mind is wandering in a million differentdirections.  This walker in the corner ofthe room in front of me came from all over the world.  Plastic from around the world, aluminum fromrainforests, and vinyl from plastics all came together to be manufactured in NewYork as this standard walker.  It wasdelivered by truck to the local hospital, in which we picked it up there duringmy mom's hip replacement.  This walker isa global production, coming from all over the world.  I do not consider this to be local at all.  While I wasn't able to find exact locationsin my search, I know that it most likely came from different places around theworld, from crude oil to plastic production, and bauxite to aluminum.  The entire walker, once its purpose is done,is waste that will hopefully be recycled. If not, the entire walker will take a plethora of years to break down,if it ever does.     


Finally.  The walker research took fivehours, so hopefully I will be more successful in researching my necklace.  Just as a reminder, the
necklaceis the one my boyfriend gave me for my 20th birthday.  Now since my necklace is engraved, I am justgoing to focus on the necklace itself and not the engraving process.  The necklace is a silver plated metal fromThings Remembered, a United States company. My necklace was crafted and bought from Madison, Wisconsin.  Both my boyfriend and I have tried toresearch where their manufacturing plant is, but the only information we couldfind is that it is a United States company that uses only US products.  Therefore, this product is regional (meaningcountry-wide in this case).  It had tohave used a truck to get transported from where it was produced to where it wasbought.    


Silver plated metal is completely metal, with a thin silvercoating.  So, my necklace is made ofmetal with a very fine layer of silver coating it.  Metal is extracted from rocks, and thenmelted down and put into casts (HowStuffWorks). The extraction process causes severe land degradation and air pollution,as they are destroying the land in order to dig up the rocks that they need andusing heavy machinery (docbrown).  Sinceheavy machinery is used, burning of fossil fuels also adds to the air pollution.  In addition, there are concerns about sound pollutionon the local ecosystems from extractions (docbrown).  There are many different types of metalextractions and metals.  All of them haveeffects on air quality.  Since heatingthe metal takes very high temperatures, the smoke and other residue create moreair pollution, as well as high carbon dioxide emissions.  Small pieces of metal are shipped off todifferent places, in this case the jewelry to be casted into my necklace.  There it was melted back down into a mold andhardened into the shape it is today. Silver is lightly painted on top of the metal for betterappearance. 


The waste from this necklace was the packaging that it came in.  It came in a small jewelry box inside of acardboard box.  The cardboard was thewaste, and it was recycled.  Otherwise,the waste would have broken down eventually in a landfill since it is a paperproduct.           


Whoa.  Well.  I definitely learned a lot about my two items,and I hope you did too.  I have to give ahuge shout out to my boyfriend for helping me try to locate the place where mynecklace was made.  Now that I feel likemy mystery of how these products are made is solved, I am going back to sleepand hopefully will recover from my food poisoning.  Until next week my dear readers!

~ Chelsea    





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Sunday, July 6, 2014

The Start of a New Research Project

To anyone who is reading this, you have probably figured outby now that I am a very bubbly and compassionate girl.  I have bouncy blonde hair, dorky glasses, and"beautiful green eyes" (according to my boyfriend...).  I am a complete believer in having thingsthat have a lot of meaning.  I have manythings that hold special meaning to me. This week, I am going to take two things that have this special meaningto me, and over the next couple of weeks, figure out how and where these thingswere created and their environmental impact. To start off this project, I am going to figure out which two things Iam going to track.... hmm... this could be difficult to decide!

The first thing that I choose is the walkerthat my mom had to use for two years to help her walk during both of her hipreplacements.  I spent many hours helpingher balance and learn to walk again with the assistance of her standard walker.  Because of the help of that walker, I can seemy mom walk again without crying in pain. (Please note, she is still in recovery, but she can walk without thewalker or cane). It is a standard metal walker with hard plastic wheels andrubber handles.  

Secondly, I am going to research the history behind the necklacethat my boyfriend gave me for my 20th birthday. I wear it every day.  It is asimple, silver heart with my name engraved on the front cover.  It is a sterling silver necklace with blackpaint on the outside, creating a scroll-life apperance.  The necklace is a locket, so the inside opensup to hold a picture.  I do not have apicture in it at this moment.    

Well, while I start researching this week for my next post, wish me luck! 





Sunday, June 29, 2014

Say Paper!

Say Paper!


It's a beautiful, sunny Sunday afternoon, and instead of reading myromance novel out of my backyard, I was watching a video online called "TheBattle of the Bag".  Now instead ofjust writing a simple blog post about how we all need to go green and then grab mynovel, head outside with my lounging blanket, and go read, I am sitting at myfamily's computer thinking deeply about human effects on the earth and being soashamed.  After watching this video, Ifeel ashamed of not just humans in general, but specifically my own actions.  I have known about the many environmentalimpacts of the typical plastic bag, but I have not taken steps towards changingmy use of them.  Watching this film onplastic bags has gravely affected me. One impact of plastic bag waste is that they are life-threatening to seaturtles.  Turtles, not being able to decipherwhether or not a plastic bag is a food source, end up taking bites of it, justlike this sea Turtle.  These pieces of plastic gather in theinternal digestive organs of sea turtles, ultimately killing them.  Just yesterday I finished reading a chapter inmy textbook that featured a section about human causes of animalextinction.  After watching this video, Ifear that plastic bags will eventually cause sea turtles to go extinct.  Now while I do not know the official countsof the entire populations of every sea turtle species in the world, I do knowthat as a whole Sea Turtle populations are dramatically dropping due to ocean changes ( More info on Sea Turtle Conservation here).  Plastic bags are increasingly littering the ocean, causing more damage to the aquatic ecosystems.  In the video, Rebecca Hosking in Modbury,England noticed and did a documentary of the effects of plastic bags on marinelife.  She has noticed over time thatplastic bags are greatly accumulating on the ocean floor of where she likes to scubadive.  With the increase of in plastic inthe oceans, will ultimately result in more deaths of sea turtles.     

While I feel the need to grab my car keys and drive to a Florida beachto help rescue Sea Turtles from extinction due to plastic bags, I feel betterknowing what Hosking did in her local town of Modburyto help.  She worked with localshopkeepers and showed them first-hand the damage that their plastic bags aredoing.  The shopkeepers were so horrified(in which everyone should be...) thatthey took it with the local council to ban all plastic bags.  The town of Modbury, England only usesbiodegradable bags, cloth and reusable bags, and paper.  This all happened because oneperson took a stand against something that was harming our earth.  If multiple people took a stand on plasticbags in the US, imagine what could happen! I imagine that the Sea Turtle population would increase... but I willdream about my sea turtles in another post for another day.

The use of plastic bags is a wide-spread global problem, with mainroots in local cultures.  Plastic bags affect not only the country that are using them, but the common areas ofthe world, like international waters. Plastic bags are spreading across the world, and not just beingcontained in the one area that is using it. So what can we as Americans do, especially because plastic bags are soengrained in our society?  We all knowhow difficult it can be to change a habit, especially one that is encouraged bysociety, so what can we do?  I think thesolution is easier than we think it is. We depend on them in super markets, stores, dog waste, and more.  But we can easily swipe out plastic bags forbiodegradable ones, which will break down in the environment (as opposed to the400 to 1,000 years that a plastic bag will decompose according to thevideo).  We can chose to use paper overplastic in grocery stores.  The choice isin us, not forced on us in society.  We,as individuals, need to pick a different source instead of plastic.  While the transition journey may take sometime for everyone to grasp, it is definitely a step that needs to be taken.  Use paper at the grocery store, buy or make areusable grocery bag ( here is a nifty idea ), and recycleyour old plastic bags.  So the next time,my dear readers, you are at a grocery store and the bagger asks if you wouldlike paper or plastic, say paper!   

Learning to Go Green!

~ Chelsea   





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