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In today’s world, it’s surprisingly easy to forget about the ramifications of our actions. Even though we are “connected” through the developments in technology such as the internet, our so-called “flat world” isn’t all that flat when it comes to addressing the consequences that do not directly affect us, on a personal and individualized level. Living as an Indian in the United States, the “West” as people back home would call it, I understand that I have been given a privilege, that many are not able to experience. Recently, in a commencement speech by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, one of my long time standing idols, this “privilege” was aptly addressed. Adichie stated that privilege is often blinding, and sometimes results in us not being as aware of the circumstances that surround those who have not been extended similar opportunities. This couldn’t be truer. As I sit in my air-conditioned home in Boise, Idaho, reading the latest in environmental policy making, I often forget to think about the people who are actually going through the effects of climate change – like the people in India, my home, who are dropping like flies due to a recent heat wave like none before. It’s easy to be a by-stander, watching the world go by, and shirk off responsibility. The truth is though; we all have a responsibility – a responsibility to change, to inspire, and to TRY (even if we fail) to be better. It’s not simply up to world leaders to help save the world from the inevitable reality of climate change; it’s up to all of us, to take small steps in our everyday lives that will ensure a cleaner and healthier world. This is something that I, from my position of privile, sometimes forget. And so today, I am taking the first step (albeit a small one) to live a greener and cleaner life – I urge you all to take it with me. Even if it’s a small personal change, let this act as a gateway to bigger and better lifestyle decisions. Start turning off the air-conditioner when you don’t need it. Or maybe, use online coupon codes instead of printing out coupons. Have a separate recycling trash can, and take it to your local recycling center over the weekend. If you aren’t ready to alter a significant part of your lifestyle, the acts of spreading awareness can go a long way. Volunteer at a local NGO that supports the environment. Shop at a farmers’ market. Write out your thoughts and opinions and start a blog. Spread awareness about non-invasive technologies in examining subsurface hazards. Learn about the key players in environmental policy making. Really, the possibilities are endless. I truly believe that with a concerted effort, we all can make a difference. Mahatma Gandhi, one of the most prominent leaders of my home-country once said “Be the change you wish to see in the world”. So go forth, and make a change.
HannahWhittenly posted a blog entry in HannahWhittenly's BlogWhile much of the decisions to decrease human toll on the environment lay in the hands of big corporations and government, there are still choices that the average person can make at home to make an impact. One big impact homes have on the environment is the chemicals that run into local water and soil. If you know which chemicals you are using commonly, you can take some of the load off of your local environment. Parabens These types of chemicals are common preservatives in the cosmetic industry. Shampoo, moisturizers, and makeup all use this ingredient. On label look for ingredients that end in “-paraben”. This can interfere with the function of your hormones, reproductive systems, influence breast cancer and can hinder baby development. Synthetic parabens have an especially negative affect on marine life as these chemicals tend to get into water sources that pass through urban areas. DEA (Diethanolamine) This chemical is found in foaming and creamy products. These products include shampoo and moisturizers. It can form cancer-causing nitrosamines. Wild life and fish can also be harmed by this chemical. Mild to moderate skin and eye irritation can also be caused by this compound. The degradation of some of the chemicals used as preservatives in cosmetics can release nitrites. This happens when the product is exposed to air. DBP (Dibutyl Phthalate) Nail products and hair sprays contain this chemical. It is toxic to reproduction and may interfere with the function of hormones. This chemical is also harmful to wildlife and fish. The compound can be absorbed through the skin. Genetic mutations can be caused because it can enhance the capacity of the chemicals. However, it has not been shown to be a mutagen. It can also damage the liver and cause kidney failure in young children. This can happen if the products that contain phthalates are chewed or sucked for long periods of time. Ammonia According to the EPA this is the most environmentally hazardous substance used commonly in homes. Pure ammonia and ammonia based cleaners escape into streams or other water sources. Ammonia in large quantities seriously affects agriculture because it throws off the pH balance needed for irrigation. Pesticides Most chemicals are designed to kill living organisms and will be harmful to anything that it comes into contact with. If pesticides get into the ground, the water, or any other environment, you are doing a lot of damage. However, according to the Pest Detective there are non-toxic, organic, and mechanical strategies to eliminate unwanted pests.