Viridorari is an environmentally focused blog. The mission of Viridorari is to help you incorporate healthier, "greener" habits into your life, to benefit you, the people around you, and the environment.

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Monday, March 18, 2013

Harsh Facts, Ecofriendly Economics & March's Animal

            I hope that including harsh facts about the state of our environment on Viridorari will give people the jolt that they need to start taking action to incorporate greener habits into their lives. This week's facts are geared toward Americans, and these facts did not surprise me. I love being a United States citizen, but the one thing about my country that I’m most ashamed of is our staggering amount of inherent wastefulness. Waste is something all of us, not just Americans, but especially Americans, need to work on. Brace yourselves!

The United States has 5% of the world's population and 30% of the waste, and the United States industry admits to 4 billion pounds of toxic pollution released each year. They key word in that sentence is "admits." We generate 4.6 pounds of trash per person per day on average int he United States, an amount doubled from thirty years ago, and the most in the world. If we put all the solid waste collected in the U.S. (I'm assuming annually) in a line of average garbage trucks, that line of trucks would cross the country, from NYC to L.A., more than 100 times. Finally, 99% of the things we buy are not in use after 6 months. 
One website also offered up a very moving quote:

"Our enormously productive economy... demands that we make consumption our way of life, that we convert the buying and use of goods into ritual, that we seek our spiritual satisfaction, our ego satisfaction, in consumption... we need things produced, burned up, replaced, and discarded at an ever-accelerating rate."
-Retailing analyst Victor LeBeau just after World War II.

Okay, so you've read the harsh facts for this week. Please, for the planet's sake, don't just sit there drooling at the computer screen and think to yourself "wow, that sucks." As soon as you're done reading this post, while the ideas are fresh in your mind, go sit down and brainstorm some ways that you can reduce your waste production. Also, you can take on this week's Green Challenge, which is explained in Saturday's post!

One of my sources for this week’s harsh facts is from 2008, so facts gleaned from here may not be current. If anything, it most likely means that the figures have only gotten more daunting since 2008.
Visit this website (the 2008 website) for a whole list of terrifying statistics:
This website includes some more positive/inspiring/motivating statistics:
Other source:

Drumroll please! Viridorari's first Animal of the Month, as I said in Friday’s post, is an endangered bat species! I present to you, the Giant Golden-Crowned Flying Fox, also known as the Golden Capped Fruit Bat:
Picture courtesy of: 

The Golden Capped Fruit Bat is part of a group of bat species called Megabats, which are inclusive of fruit bats and flying foxes who are frugivorous (they eat fruits) or nectarivorous (they eat nectar from flowers). The different species of Flying Foxes are my favorite kind of bats; my beloved childhood storybook was Stellaluna, a tale that features a Flying Fox as the main character. The Flying Fox group consists of the world’s largest species of bats, some with adult wingspans of six feet!
The Golden Capped Fruit Bat is endemic to the forests of the Philippines. Endemism is the ecological state of being unique to a defined geographic location.
Our featured animal has been on the IUCN’s endangered list since 1994, and is threatened by habitat loss, along with poaching. Unfortunately, the forests of the Philippines, the only place where our bat lives naturally, are among the most endangered wild habitats in the world due to commercial logging. Only six to seven percent of the original forests remain.
Stay tuned, I will be offering facts about, pictures of, and ways to help Golden Capped Fruit Bats in each post throughout the remainder of March.

            Now for the premier of Viridorari's first Ecofriendly Economics section! Ecofriendly Economics is meant to bring you simple ways to incorporate greener habits into you and your family's life without spending a pretty penny. The products and ideas I present here will cost you little to no more than what you're already spending on wasteful habits, or at not cost to you at all.

Reusable Cupcake Liners  
Picture courtesy of: 

          Here’s a way to reduce, reuse, and recycle: purchase yourself a set of silicon cupcake liners. Instead of constantly throwing out paper and foil liners after one use, you can keep reusing your silicon liners. This website claims that America would eliminate 69.4 billion pounds of trash a year if every single American stopped using paper/foil cupcake liners:
            Now, what about the cost? After a search on the Wal-Mart website, I found that a pack of silver paper/foil baking cups cost $8.35 for a set of 48. Divide that by four, and we have $2.09 for 12 cups. The first result after a search on Amazon advertised a set of 12 silicon cupcake liners for $7.99 (I didn’t take shipping and handling into account). So, $2.09 + $2.09 = $4.18 + $2.09 = $6.27 + $2.09 = $8.36, and there you have it, in just four uses, your set of 12 silicon cupcake liners will pay for themselves and start to save you money. Obviously a set of 12 liners won't accommodate a large recipe in one baking, but this can be remedied simply by having the patience to send them through your oven several times, or by purchasing multiple or larger sets. Either way, it is important to keep in mind that they will eventually pay for themselves. I recently purchased my own set of silicone liners from a fundraising catalog to help send my younger cousin to Canada through the People to People program this summer. I can't wait to use them!
            However, in my internet browsing about silicon cupcake liners, I did find an interesting tidbit that you should know about: a lot of people struggle to remove their cupcakes from the silicon liners without breaking them. However, I did find a website that offers tips to keep that from happening, which I’ll briefly list:
·         Using silicon requires a longer baking time: bake your cupcakes a few minutes more to make sure they’re thoroughly done
·         Allow your cupcakes to cool for at least fifteen minutes before attempting to remove them
·         Don’t frost your cupcakes while still in the silicon liners! Wait until you have removed them to avoid messy incidences.
·         To remove: gently peel the sides of liner away and slowly turn the liner inside-out. If the sides do not come away easily from the cupcake, allow them to cool for a little longer.
·         If you’re still having problems, add a touch of nonstick spray to your liners next time. I know silicon is supposed to eliminate that, but its’ better than wasting paper! Nonstick spray is a last ditch effort- you shouldn’t have to use it if you follow the above instructions.
Read the full discussion about cupcake extraction here:
Fluorescent Lightbulbs
            These nifty little inventions have become pretty popular. It’s likely that you’re already using them, and in that case, congrats on taking a simple step to be greener! For those of you who haven’t, let me pitch fluorescent light bulbs, or CFL’s, to you.
            These light bulbs are different from your typical incandescent bulbs in that they use less energy and last longer, while shining just as brightly as normal bulbs. So, while fluorescent bulbs are a little more expensive, they pay for themselves quickly and are definitely worth your money. CFL’s that have the ENERGY STAR label meet strict energy efficiency guidelines implemented by the US Environmental Protection Agency: 
Picture courtesy of: 

If every American home replaced just one light bulb with an ENERGY STAR qualified light bulb, we would save enough energy to light 3 million homes for an entire year, save about $600 million in energy costs annually, and cut back on 9 billion pounds of yearly greenhouse gas emissions (equivalent to taking about 800,000 cars off the road). Think about how much good we would do if we replaced all of the bulbs in our households, instead of just one!

Comparing fluorescent to incandescent:

  • Fluorescents use one-quarter of the energy to produce the same amount of light
  • Last about 10 times longer
  • Produce about 75% less heat, which is safer and reduces cooling costs
  • One bulb saves about 6$ a year in electricity costs, and $30-40 or more over its lifetime
Want to learn more?
How fluorescent bulbs work:
Purchasing tips:
*Keep in mind when purchasing fluorescent bulbs: their watt usage is different than incandescent bulbs! Check out the above link for conversions.

Thank you for reading, my next post will be Recycling Projects for Kids, which will be out on Wednesday by 6pm. 

Mentioned in this post:
  • Stellaluna by Janell Cannon
  • IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature)

  • People to People
          -A program that sends American children and young adults around the globe to become ambassadors and learn about other cultures. I become a student ambassador in 2009 and traveled to Europe. My younger cousin, Dominic, will be traveling to Canada this summer through People to People!

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