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Take some initiative – shop with your own bags

Zachary RamirezGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

My name is Zachary Ramirez and I’m a senior of the Colorado Rocky Mountain School. I took AP Environmental Science as a junior and have developed a great interest for the subject. Now let me get right why I’m writing this. If by now you’ve failed to recognize global warming as fact, I offer you no empathy. Rather, I can only revel in astonishment at how one can remain obtuse to an issue of such, well, global proportions. Aside from the surge of news stories, books, magazine articles, and radio programs, the issue flooded mainstream America in 2006 with Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth”. This was indeed a public service. However, I would like to galvanize what Al Gore’s campaign managers might have muddled up in their rather personal rendition: global warming is not a political issue, although it is a partisan one. Whether you vote Democrat, Republican, or Independent, global warming demands attention. I also concede the human tendency to not always walk the talk while simultaneously ignoring the imperativeness of practicing what you preach.Needless to say, the good ol’ Red White and Blue has been somewhat lacking in environmental initiatives for the past few years. At least, that’s what I’d say if I cared about being moderate, inoffensive, and politically correct. But honestly? America has been a liability for over a century as far as global climate change goes. You may have heard of the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change … or simply “Kyoto Protocol” for short. Eloquently put, this document strives for the “stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system”. I couldn’t have said it better myself, really.One hundred sixty-nine (169) countries ratified the Kyoto Protocol as of December 2006; America, certainly the most nimble of the three huge outliers – America, China, and India – still has not. This is just one example of our country’s flippant attitude towards international responsibility. President Bush’s childish rationale for remaining apathetic is really quite priceless, but like I said, I’m avoiding politics (at least in this article). Regardless, as citizens of a nation that seems to value indulgence and self-importance over responsibility and cooperation, it is our duty to herald in a new age of sustainability.To warm up, I’ll begin with something very small and easy. Simple as it is, it’s remarkable that, according to the Grocery Industry Committee on Solid Waste, less than 1% of shoppers use reusable cloth bags. Eliminating the use of grocery bags, both plastic and paper, is a great way to lessen your carbon footprint. Instead, bring your own reusable bags. Keep them in the back of your car. It’s easy.Plastic grocery bags were first introduced in 1977. Four out of five shoppers today choose plastic over paper. Plastic grocery bags are made from petroleum, a non-renewable resource currently in very tight supply. Every year, the production of plastic bags uses about 2.2 billion barrels of oil. In fact, the petroleum used to make 14 plastic bags could fuel an average car for 1 mile. On the other hand, paper bags are obviously tree-derived, which makes them technically renewable. But, according to the EPA, 70% more global warming gases are emitted making a paper bag than a plastic bag. Still, research from 2000 indicates that 20% of paper bags were recycled that year, while less than 1% of plastic bags made it to the plant. So, paper or plastic? How about neither? Organizations such as 1 Bag at a Time offer reusable bags made from recycled plastic #5. Vitamin Cottage in Glenwood Meadows Mall down-valley even offered free cloth bags with purchases of $100 or more for a while. Plain cloth bags are also available for purchase at most hardware stores. I must warn you, though, you’ll probably receive a couple confused stares when you enter your local grocery store with your own shopping bags. But cashiers will get used to it; just think of it as taking one for the team. The Green Team, that is.


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