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2 MINUTES A DAY
A GREENER PLANET
Harper & Row, Publishers, San Francisco
New York, Grand Rapids, Philadelphia, St. Louis
London, Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo, Toronto
TWO MINUTES A DAY FOR A GREENER PLANET Copyright 0 1990
by Marjorie Lamb. Published by arrangement with Harper Collins
Publishers, Ltd., Toronto. Printed in the United States of America.
No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews. For information address Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc., 10 E s 53rd at Street, New York, N 10022.
Y ISBN 0-06-250507-6 First U S Edition..
90 91 92 93 94 BANTA 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc., wiH facilitate planting two trees for every one tree used in the manufacturing of this book with an m a t e of the Rainforest Action Network.
This edition is printed on acid-fiee paper which meets the American National Standards Institute 239.48 Standard.
Publisher's Note For every tree used to print this book, we are planting two.
Traditionally, publishers who cared about the environ- ment have printed on recycled paper. Unfortunately, problems created by the bleaches and chemicals used in the recycling process, and by the lack of book-quality recycled paper, makes this an imperfect answer.
Restoring balance to the environment by planting two trees to replace every one we use is a positive alter- native. And on the advice of experts, the cover stock of this book is protected with a "press varnish," which is biodegradable, unlike the usual plastic fl coating.
im Even before Marjorie's book reached our office, we had established a recycling program at Harper 8z Row San Francisco, and implemented a tree-planting alternative on other books we publish. We've already turned a bit green, but that doesn't mean we didn't have much to learn from this book. The beauty of 2 Minutes a Day for a Greener Planet, and the reason we're so pleased to be publishing it, is that it speaks to everybody. Whether you're concerned but don't know what you can do, or are already active and looking for ways to be even more green, Marjorie provides ideas for action. Each person's actions make a difference. It is the good spiritedness and creativity of this book that make it so valuable.
We are indebted to our colleagues at Harper Collins Canada, for initiating the publication of this book.
a To Caroline and Barry, enthusiastic recyclers, willing walkers, scrupulous savers, skeptical consumers, ardent composters, and loving supporters of all my endeavors.
a Acknowledgments Thanks to everyone who supported and encouraged me, shared their valuable information and insights, and
contributed to the completion of the project, particularly:
The superb producers and crew of CBC Radio's Metro Morning, who had the instinct to know that people want to help the environment, and helped me develop the "Two Minute Ecologist" into a regular report: Ken Wolf, Marieke Meyer, Nancy Boyle and Joe Cot& The president of Harper Collins, Stanley Colbert, who heard me on CBC Radio, phoned and asked, "Do you want to write a book?" Without hesitation I said, "Yes," and started to write that day.
My lawyer, Heather Mitchell, who tackles the world for me and gives me excellent advice on everything from the environment to my wardrobe.
The editor-in-chief of Harper Collins, David Colbert, who was ruthless in his advice and opinions, generous with his encouragement, and who put in long hours of overtime to get the book done sooner and better.
My editor, Marq de V i e r s, who kept me in line with his incisive comments and taught me to write without exclamation points!
The many hard-working environmentalists who answered my calls promptly and gave me much needed information: Trudy Richards, Greenpeace; Gudrun Knoessl and Jill D d e y, Recycling Council of Ontario;
Julia Langer, Friends of the Earth; Mary Perlmutter, Canadian Organic Growers; Gerard Coffey, Pollution Probe; Don Huff, Forests for Tomorrow; Ian Kirkham, Federation of Ontario Naturalists; Monte Hummel, Pegi Dover and Alison Wering, World Wildlife Fund; Linda Varangu, Ontario Waste Exchange; Paul Griss, Canadian Nature Federation; and Jim Richardson, Sierra Club.
The producers and crew of CBC Television's Midday, who gave me the opportunity to broadcast environmental advice nationally: Sophia Hadzepetros, Valerie Pringle and Ralph Benmurgi.
The staff of Harper Collins, who worked day and night, weekends included: Danielle Koch, Kathryn Schroeder, Kevin Hanson, Laura Krakowec, Paulette Burt, Donna Dunlop and freelancer Melanie Colbert.
Nancy Colbert, who supported and encouraged me, fed me information, and spread her cheerfulness generously.
V. Tony Hauser, for my photograph.
My f d y. You're all in the book. There wouldn't be a book without you.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Some days I think that Henny Penny is the news editor of every newspaper and television network in the country. You can't pick up a paper or a magazine or turn on the news without hearing that the sky is falling in, that our planet is going to hell in a handbasket, that our environment is so polluted, contaminated, depleted, overworked and out of order that we've only got five or 10 good years left to fx everything.
i Some of this talk is practical and sensible. But a lot of it sounds like it's coming from somebody else's planet altogether. We hear phrases like "ozone depletion," "greenhouseeffect," "toxic dumps" and "non-renewable resources.'' We know they are the dirty words of today.
But none of them hit home, and none of them seem like anything we could fE. What can we do about a hole in the ozone over the Antarctic, global warming and the destruction of rainforests? We've got three loads of laundry to finish before going back to the ofice.
Most of the tips in this book will cost you less than two minutes to put into practice. But they will last you a lifetime.
I've always believed in the great benefits offered by people who make small, personal commitments to the i environment. My articles, radio reports and television appearances have focused on what a person can do to help the planet by givingjust a few minutes each day.
When I started, I hoped people were listening. But I wasn't prepared for the avalanche of enthusiastic responses from people who were working toward the same goal in the same easy way. So many letters say, "Here's what we do" or "Here's a quick and easy idea to help the environment." People everywhere want to help.
They understand that the way we use paper, how we use water, how we clean ourselves and our homes, what we do in our gardens, our cars, at work and at school all determine what kind of a planet we inhabit.
The state of the environment has everything to do with you and me.
And by helping to restore health to our planet, we can reconnect ourselves and our lives with the Earth in ways that can bring us great joy.
Even though I grew up as part of the Baby Boom generation, I learned my habits from my parents, who came from the Depression generation. Some of the lessons from the past: Forego buying new clothes, and patch the old. Grow your own food crops, and put up preserves. Find uses for every little scrap of wood or fabric or paper or metal. Buy less and repair more.
"Make it do, wear it out, use it up."
The necessity of thriftiness, impressed upon me in childhood, has become a virtue in the Age of the Environment. So even though we want to help the environment, the bonus is we could save quite a bit of money, just by following some of the advice in this book.
You'll be surprised to find that doing good things for the environment is habit forming. And one day, you might even f h d yourself deciding to ride your bike to ii work for a change, hang your clothes on the clothesline instead of putting them in the dryer, or forgo the excessively packaged TV dinner, because it suddenly strikes you that each of those decisions is a little step towards a greener planet.
I have a daughter. Before I became a parent, I never thought I could ever love anyone so intensely. Not long after she was born, we started hearing more and more of those "dirty words" on the news, and I started to get scared. What kind of a world would my daughter inherit? I started to feel g d t y that I was so busy with my home and office life I was neglecting her larger needs for a clean, safe planet.
But I didn't relish the thoughts of whisking her off to some secluded part of the world where she'd be safe fkom any and al possible harm -even supposing that such a l spot could be found. I wanted her to have a "normal" life. I decided we couldn't wait for politicians and governments and businesses to act. We had to start doing something right here, right now, at home.
You'll be reading about my daughter, Caroline, from time to time in this book, and also about my partner, Barry, and my parents and other members of my family.
Everything I write about here is stuff that's relevant to our everyday life. I try to follow my own advice, since so much of it comes from experience.
"his is not advice to corporations or governments. It's not advice to professors or environmentalists.
It'sjust some tips and common sense that ordinary,everyday people can put into practice as they go about their daily lives.
I don't have to tell you what shape the world is in.
The doom-sayers are doing a pretty good job of that. But I'm willing to bet that you'll find more than a few ideas iii in this book that will give you the incentive start acting positively to change the direction in which we're headed.
You'll start to feel good about yourself when you hear people talk about the environment.
We're all busy people. Most of us don't have the time or even the desire to climb smokestacks or confront whaling vessels. Sometimes we can't even find the time to write letters to our politicians. But there are lots of things that you and I do every day that we could do differently, without much effort, and with just a little thought. Nearly all the things I discuss here are so easy to put into practice that making habits out of them will be simple.
I want my daughter to have a special life. I want her to have clean air to breathe, clean water to drink, healthy food to eat and a green planet to enjoy. We all want the same for our children, our grandchildren, and all people of the world. What could be more important?
If all of us do a little bit every day, together we can make a world of difference to our planet Earth.
January, 1990 Toronto
Why Save Something That Covers Two-thirds Of The Earth?
All life on this planet is supported by a fixed quantity of water. We use the same water over and over again, the same water which our grandparents used for brickmaking, the same water in which Shakespeare washed his feet, the same water in which Moses floated in a basket through the bullrushes, the same water the ancient Romans transported through their aqueducts to support life in their city. In fact, the water that you used to brush your teeth this morning is over four billion years old. So have a little respect.
We can't make new water, any more than we can make new land. If we misuse the water we have, we can't send out for some fresh stuff. Water comes out of the tap in unlimited quantities whenever we want it. We generally assume that we have vast reserves of water available.
And we generally assume that it's free, or almost free.
1 But before clean water comes out of our taps, several things have to happen. We have to find a source of water, build machinery to pump it, piping to carry it, plants to treat it. Thanks to our treatment of water, chlorine has become an acquired taste in millions of households. We have to elect politicians who will run our municipal affairs, and look after our water treatment, and do the paperwork involved in supplying us with water. Once we get the water to our houses, we have to install pipes and valves and shut-offs and vents.
We have to put in a separate line and a heater to heat some of the water.
Once we've got water, what do we do with it? We put it through our washing machines, toilets, sinks, dishwashers, car washes and pesticide-filled lawns. We use it to wash our windows, our sidewalks and streets.
We spray it in the air for pretty fountains. We put out fires with it. We clean wounds with it. We make concrete with it. We use it in the production of plastics, steel and paper. We hose down chemical spills and industrial work sites with it. We clean paintbrushes in it. And we d i k it.
rn What if we had water meters beside our kitchen sink? What if they read dollars and cents instead of gallons or liters?
Then we have to deal with getting rid of it. We need to build another whole network of drains to carry away our dirty water and sewage. We need to build treatment plants, and hire people to run them. And we need to elect politicians who will vow to "do something" to clean up the water that we've polluted.
The process costs billions of dollars worldwide, and still people suffer and die in many parts of the world for 2 want of clean water, while we blithely open our taps and let our most precious resource pour down the drain.
There's not much we can do at home about the unequal distribution of water in the world. But the other major problems, contamination and waste, we can do something about. Although most of the advice in this chapter has t o do with waste (we'll deal with contamination in other chapters), these two problems are connected in ways that might not be obvious.
The more we process our water, the more chance it has to become contaminated. That's because we have one sewage system for all purposes. We put our drinking water, our toilet waste and commercially contaminated waters all down the same system. We do our best to clean it up, then we pour it a l out into the same river, l lake or stream, and then we d i k it again.