When you talk about the environment, most people are talking about the natural elements: air, water, the earth. But for us at HBR, we presume for many listeners, the environment starts with la familia. Many Hispanics come from farming backgrounds, and their relationship with the land is almost a spiritual experience. If you look at the history of Mexican-Americans especially, their whole lives are related to the legacy of Mother Earth and the natural elements.
HBR is greatly supportive of the earth-friendly challenges by addressing some of the myths about environmental protection. In a survey conducted by the Manhattan-institute.org to determine what Americans believe about energy and environmental issues, the survey found that the views that many Americans hold about a wide range of these issues remain, in key ways, inaccurate. For example:
- Forty-nine percent of respondents believe Saudi Arabia exports the most oil to the U.S., while just 13% correctly identified Canada as our top foreign supplier.
- More than 67% believe we can meet future energy demand through conservation and efficiency. Historically, in contrast, energy demand actually increases alongside efficiency gains. And because energy use is not static, conservation leads to only marginal reductions in demand. The EIA projects global energy consumption to increase 50% from 2005 to 2030 and U.S. energy use to increase 11.2% from 2007 to 2030.
- Just 37% correctly answered that no one has ever died from the actual generation of nuclear power in the U.S. Though the U.S. has not built a nuclear-power reactor since the nuclear meltdown at Three Mile Island in 1979, 104 active reactors safely generate roughly one-fifth of our nation’s electricity.
- Sixty-three percent of those surveyed believe that human activity is the greatest source of greenhouse gases. In fact, such emissions are significantly smaller than natural emissions. The burning of fossil fuels is responsible for just 3.27% of the carbon dioxide that enters the atmosphere each year, while the biosphere and oceans account for 55.28% and 41.46%, respectively.
- Less than 28% correctly believe that U.S. air quality has improved since 1970. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the six most common air pollutants have decreased by more than 50%; air toxins from large industrial sources have fallen nearly 70%; new cars are more than 90% cleaner, in terms of their emissions; and production of most ozone-depleting chemicals has ceased.
We're beginning to realize that this is not someone else's problem; it's ours. And as a result of that, whether we call it the environment or not, we're doing things to change it. So it's no longer going to be a white, middle-class, affluent movement, it's all of us doing it. It just seems that some of us don't have the media or the publicity machines to show what we're doing. HBR will use resources to help national enterprises understand the economic and sustainability benefits of Living Green.
What can HBR listeners do to help? Here are a few green takeaways from our friends at Ecopreneurist to save money and our planet :
1. Printing Less Stuff = Using Less Paper
Paper makes up about 35% of our waste stream – even though it’s one of the easiest materials to re-use and recycle!
2. Go Digital with Your Documents
To reduce paper use and get contracts and documents signed more quickly is to use electronic signatures.
3. Program automatic shut-offs in the office
Program your computer to turn off automatically at a certain time each night, just in case you forget. Set the monitor to turn off after a few minutes of inactivity and place all chargers into one power strip for easy one-click turn off to eliminate secret pilfering energy. Stock your office with energy-saving appliances and compact LED lighting.
4. Recycling bins
Place recycling bins in convenient locations all over the office. Everywhere there is a trashcan, there should be a recycling bin. Add a compost bin in the office cafeteria…makes great plant food for anyone’s garden.
5. Seek out green vendors to work with
Part of being a green business is making sure that you do your best to ensure that your supply chain is green, too. During engagement, always ask vendors if they are going green or certified green.
6. Become a Freecycle Affiliate!
You never know what you might find on freecycle. One person’s junk is definitely another’s treasure. If you have a large company, you could even organize an office-wide barter party, where everyone brings items they don’t use any more to swap for things they might need from others. When you upgrade your office equipment after years of use, pass it on if it’s still useful. List it on freecycle or donate it to a charity that may need it.
7. Eliminate Junk Mail
Educate yourself about making your household more sustainable. Do you take 20-minute showers? Do you turn off the water when you brush your teeth? All of those little things are big things, and it all starts at home. But I think people can also organize themselves and work toward a common goal: get involved in cleanup days, organize a save the beaches campaign like Wyland and the California Angels have , take ownership and pride in your neighborhood. If you want a community garden, look for empty land. Get to know your neighbors. I think all of these things are good for strengthening our barrios, and for raising the next generation of Hispanic activists.
Energy & the Environment: Myths & Facts is intended as a primer for educators, business owners, and public officials—for concerned citizens generally—as we seek twin goals: an energy supply sufficient to fuel continued economic growth and environmental policies that will protect public health and the quality of our lives.
By building environmentally conscious practices and seeking out sustainable life solutions, HBR will pay tribute on our show to anyone demonstrating awareness of environmental protection and sustainability.
What does environmentalism mean to you? Tell us how your taking steps toward sustainability.
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