Single-use plastic is one of the biggest contributors to landfills and trash pollution. [National Geographic: Great Pacific Garbage Patch]. We’ve all heard of “microplastics” by now [NOAA: What are Microplastics?], and plastics can be found in measurable amounts in US waterways and water-sourced foods [USGS: Microplastics in Our Nation’s Waterways].
I could go on with the citations, but you get the idea, and this is probably not news to you.
What can you do about it? Start making a habit of avoiding plastic.
Avoid: Plastic bags for purchases, plastic containers for take out (or “doggy bags”), overly-packaged items (always encased in plastic).
Biggest thing to avoid? Plastic drink containers, especially water bottles. [Earth 911: Who are the Biggest Plastic Polluters 2021].
While corporations (see above image) are by far the largest polluters, individuals can help to move the needle toward conservation and reduction of pollution by taking consistent action to avoid contributing to the problem, and encouraging others to join in.
TrashBlitz Austin used volunteers to collect and count trash to come up with a way to reduce the use of plastic in the city of Austin. 70% of the trash picked up consisted of single-use plastic items. One of the outcomes of this effort was the Austin Reuse Coalition with a focus on helping restaurants reduce the use of plastic.
Please do your part to reduce use of plastic, and encourage others to do so, also. If everyone eliminated plastic bottles and plastic bags from their lives, there would be an immediate and visible reduction in pollution. It has to start somewhere – let it start with us.
WARNING – POLITICAL CONTENT AHEAD. Read at your own risk.
I subscribe to Medium to hear from a wide variety of “layperson” voices. There is the occasional thoughtful and insightful writer, and today’s selection is from Chris Newman. This author has several thoughtful articles from an ag perspective and is worth the read.
The most recent installment is In the Wake of Roe: What Farming Can Teach Us About Political Action
The author compares the day-to-day commitment of farming with the tourist mentality of WWOOFing (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms).
On the political left, you have people who are “flash in the pan,” who show up to the protests, who blow up social media, and who talk at length about what’s wrong with the right – but they cannot get a cohesive, consistent, and enduring message to stick long enough to effect change. These are the WWOOFers: They have a good message and good hearts, but they can’t seem to maintain any kind of effective organizational structure after the protest. The author suggests that they get no help from the leadership, because the leadership of the left is more concerned with maintaining power than in coordinating forces to effect change.
On the political right, you have people who are committed to the long haul of their conservative cause, and use long-term strategies and deep and consistent involvement to gradually move the needle in their direction. These are the “farmers” of the political world.
We’ve seen this for years – the Obama “Birthers” that Would. Not. Give. Up. on their message – even after President Obama was no longer in office. Now we have the “Election Denier Influencers” who are gaining traction at the grassroots level and bullying local officials into listening to their message. (See: Republicans Push to Recruit Election Deniers as Poll Workers Causes Alarm, from Guardian, and the NPR Podcast for June 30, 2022: Election Denier Influencers). These folks don’t give up, don’t quit, and are intent on moving the needle, even more. They are taking action that produces results. They are not protesting in the streets (well, except for that one time), they are voting in every election, they are recruiting people to run for office, they are attending local government meetings and they Don’t. Give. Up.
The left is appalled, mortified, and probably a little scared at the slow, but steady, forward momentum of the faction of Election Deniers. They should be appalled, mortified, and a lot scared. There is a reason that Trump got into office, and there is a reason that the Election Deniers are gaining momentum, and might have more to do with the method than the message.
In almost every way, I prefer my rural life over urban life. I grew up on a farm, I still live on that farm, and I would not want to live anywhere else.
However, rural internet is years behind urban internet. Folks who live in cities take for granted internet speeds that are impossible to achieve in rural environments. While improving rural broadband is percolating up as a priority at both state and national levels, technology, affordability, and deployment of adequate internet speeds to my home and farm are on a deployment track of “later, rather than sooner.”
Check out the article (link below) from Farm Journal’s Ag Web about the digital divide and some opportunities that might help close that gap.
For the record, I believe that it will take multiple platforms working together to provide adequate, reliable, and affordable internet into the rural markets. No single provider can invest the millions of dollars in the infrastructure necessary to provide high-speed internet to the sparsely-populated rural areas. While there are grants available, my experience has been that the grant dollars tend to go into deep pockets for “research,” and are sometimes not applied where the services are needed. I’ve seen millions of dollars “awarded” for broadband development in rural markets. I have yet to see improvement in my neck of the woods.
The article discusses a couple of current options in development. If you read my blog regularly, or if you care to check previous posts on the Agriculture topic, you’ll find references to several other technologies in development for application in the rural environment.
Our farm uses technology in every phase of our operation. Progress and efficiencies are slowed because we don’t have access to reliable and fast internet (by “fast,” I mean at least 50MBs – which is not even on the radar for most governmental agency discussions). Until the rural environment starts to experience the speeds available in the city, rural development will be hampered.