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, July 29, 2013

Ecofriendly Economics & Harsh Facts: Oil Spills

Harsh Facts

The Exxon Valdez Spill of 1989 was often considered the worst oil spill ever before the BP Spill of 2010. Exxon Valdez leaked 11 million gallons of oil into Alaska’s Prince William Sound.

Without taking the BP Spill into consideration, an average of one billion gallons of oil are spilled into the world’s oceans each year.

In the BP Gulf of Mexico Spill, 60,000 barrels (2.5 million gallons) of oil were leaked each day. On May 17th, 2010, the slick was 130 miles long and 70 miles wide.

The cost of Gulf Oil Spill to BP as of June 14th, 2010, was $1.6 billion. $1.5 billion is the estimated amount insurers paid as a result of the spill.

About 400 wildlife species were threatened by the BP Spill, including the 25 million birds that traverse the Gulf of Mexico each day. 

2,300 square miles out of a total 7,000 square miles of Louisiana coastal marshes and cypress forests have been damaged as a result of oil drilling. 

The United States consumes 19.5 million gallons of oil per day. 

One estimate expects that over its fifty year lifetime, the Keystone XL Pipeline will have about 91 significant tar sands oil spills (significant meaning at least fifty barrels).  

The only way we can guarantee a complete lack of oil spills is to stop relying on oil. The transition needs to be made now. Sign petitions and write to your representatives: tell them you want renewable energy and a comprehensive plan for the switch. Big Oil companies have a lot of money and political influence, but they don’t have anything without customers. 

If you’re ready to do more than sign petitions and meet with your reps, sign up with to get email updates about protest opportunities. Check out Fearless Summer to see a calendar of upcoming events where you can protest and even risk arrest to speak out against oil and for renewable energy. 

Ecofriendly Economics
Collaborate with Your Neighbors

    The next time you take a trip to the grocery store, look around you as you pull in. How many other cars are there holding only one passenger? Also, think about what you’re coming to the store for. Are you there for a full shopping trip? Or for a handful of items that you felt couldn’t wait for a couple more days?

    We’ve gotten used to the convenience of our cars, so when we run out of a couple items, it’s easy for us to go get them. Large shopping trips have become very rare at my household because of this.

    All those trips for the little things add up on the environment. Make sure that when you leave your house for errands that they’re absolutely necessary, and that you combine as many errands as possible into one trip.

    Another way to cut down on gas use occurred to me today when I went to my local Wegman’s to pick up a prescription. Before I left, I texted my grandmother to see if she needed anything. This is an easy step we can all take when we go out shopping. Before you leave, get in touch with your neighbors and ask them if they need anything, and offer to pick it up for them. This will not only make your grocery trip for worthwhile, and it will prevent other people from going to the grocery store for only a small handful of things. On the receipt, mark which items are your neighbors’ so they can pay you back for what you got them. Ask them to return the favor for you when they go to the store. Hopefully, you’ll get an efficient, environmentally-friendly system going.

    Remember: for destinations that are only a few miles away, ride your bike! To sign People for Bikes’ bike-riding pledge, click here. To learn how to get the best mileage out of your car, click here.

    When you’re shopping, keep an eye out for labels that signify the product came from environmentally-conscientious sources. To learn more about these labels, check out last week’s Ecofriendly Economics.

    Ladies: Use the Diva Cup

    Okay, male readers, if talking about women’s periods grosses you out, skip this section and go on to the Animal of the Month Update.

    Ladies; in the United States, about 12 billion pads and 7 million tampons are sent to the landfills each year, and more can be found in the sewage systems. Plastic tampon applicators can take hundreds of years to biodegrade in landfills. In her lifetime, the average woman will use 15,000 pads/tampons and throw away 250-300 pounds of tampons, pads, and applicators. From 1998-1999, more than 170,000 tampon applicators were collected along United States coast lines.

    Many of you may not know this, but there is a safe alternative to one-use feminine products. It’s called the Diva Cup; a reusable, silicon cup that is inserted like a tampon to collect your menstrual flow. At least once every twelve hours, the cup should be removed, emptied, cleaned with either the suggested Diva Wash or with mild, scent-free, non oil-based soap, and re-inserted.

    So, a reusable menstrual cup, huh? The first reaction to that is that it sounds pretty gross, especially to men. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I think it’s actually less gross than the conventional way of combating our periods. Not only does the Diva Cup eliminate waste build up in landfills and sewers, but it also has the added benefit of eliminating menstrual odor. Yeah, you read that right. Our menstrual blood only begins to smell when it’s exposed to the air, and it is exposed when we use feminine products. The Diva Cup collects your period inside the vagina, preventing it from exposure, and when emptied out of the cup, the blood is flushed down the toilet before it begins to smell. If you use the Diva Cup, you’ll never have to be self-conscious of your uncomfortable odors again.

    Estimates show that the average woman spends between $200 and $400 a year on feminine products. If you have daughters, that cost will go up for the entire household. I purchased my Diva Cup and a bottle of Diva Wash online at Walgreens for about $40. If you take care of your Diva Cup as instructed, it can last for a year or more. That means you can save between $160 and $360 a year if you use a Diva Cup. Most girls start their period between ages 10 and 17, and menopause usually occurs for woman between ages 45 and 50. Based on these estimates, women menstruate for at most forty years and at least twenty-eight years. So, for women closer to forty years, you could experience a lifetime savings of $6,400-$14,400. For women closer to twenty-eight years, your lifetime savings could amount to $4,480-$10,080.

    So, to sum everything up, using a Diva Cup has three outstanding benefits:
  1. The Diva Cup allows you to soften your impact on the planet.
  2. It is a comfortable, safe alternative to pads and tampons and eliminates odor.
  3. Using a Diva Cup saves you large amounts of money.
    Ladies, if you want to ask me more detailed questions about using the Diva Cup (I just used mine for the first time last week), email me at You can also visit to learn more about this product and answer your FAQ’s.

Animal of the Month Update
The mountain gorilla’s time on Viridorari is almost up. I hope you enjoyed learning about these magnificent creatures during the month of July; a special thanks to my dad for picking them. I’ve already told you about one organization that supports mountain gorillas: the Mountain Gorilla Conservation Fund (MGCF). To learn about MGCF, check out this previous Animal of the Month Update.

    Today, I would like to introduce a second organization that works for mountain gorilla conservation; the International Gorilla Conservation Programme (IGCP). Founded in 1991, IGCP is a coalition of three major organizations: African Wildlife Foundation (AWF), Fauna & Flora International (FFI), and World Wildlife Fund (WWF). This three-way partnership also collaborates with the protection authorities of the three countries that mountain gorillas live in; Rwanda Development Board, Uganda Wildlife Authority, and the Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature.

    IGCP’s mission statement is as follows: “To conserve the critically endangered mountain gorillas and their habitat through partnering with key stakeholders while significantly contributing to sustainable livelihood development.” This is their philosophy statement: “IGCP recognizes that the earth’s survival is dependent on humanity’s ability to maintain a healthy and balanced environment that includes all species of wildlife.”

    IGCP has two central goals: to inspire support for conservation among local communities, special interest groups, and the public to eliminate the threats to mountain gorillas and their habitats, along with improving the protection of gorillas and their habitat by encouraging necessary authorities to adopt an efficient approach to conservation policy and legislation. One of IGCP’s greatest obstacles is local conflict, which creates dangerous conditions for on-site ground workers and often forces the organization to prioritize the safety of workers first.

    To read in IGCP’s projects and initiatives in detail, including monitoring of gorillas and poachers, international collaboration, and improving local livelihoods, click here.

    You can help out IGCP by donating money online, which you can do here. IGCP also encourages you to support gorilla conservation in the long-term by becoming a member of one of the three coalition organizations; AWF, FFI, or WWF. You can find links to those organizations on the donation page as well. Currently, IGCP is raising money to build rain water harvesting mechanisms for local families, as is 10% of the way to its $2,000 goal. Helping locals access rainwater helps mountain gorillas because people in search of water enter the parks that gorillas live in, often damaging the forests in the process. If people can collect rainwater at home, they won’t need to intrude on gorilla habitat.

    I hope your month of learning about mountain gorillas has instilled care and concern for these animals in you, as well as reinforced the importance of wildlife conservation. Please, consider donating to MGCF, IGCP, or one of the three coalition organizations of IGCP. The gorillas, and their biggest fan, my dad, would appreciate it.



  1. Hi Faith! I love your blog! I'm trying to work toward a "less waste" home. Have you seen the Zero Waste Home website and book by Bea Johnson? I find it very inspiring. I'm trying to reduce how much we consume and the trash we produce...even the recycling because it all ends up in the landfill eventually. I'm a big fan of buying everything used and trying to buy food in bulk more so I can reduce the amount of food packaging that we throw away. Take care! ~ Sara Buhl

    1. Sara,

      It's so good to hear from you! I'm so sorry I haven't responded to you until just now. I didn't realize I had a comment on this post: I never received an email for some reason. Also, August was crazy busy.

      I have not seen that website/book, but I'll certainly have to add to my list of things to check out! I'm glad to hear that you're pursuing a "less waste" home. Now that I'm in college, I have more freedom over the things I buy and the way I live, and I guess you could say I'm trying to pursue a green and "less waste" dorm, haha. It helps that my college is really into recycling and composting and makes it fairly easy for students to participate.

      Please let me know if you would ever be interested in Guest Writing for Viridorari. It sounds like you might be able to write an awesome piece about your at-home efforts! If you want to discuss that further, email me at

      Thank you for reading and enjoying my blog!