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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Jewelry Progress and Eco-Friendly Musing

Jewelry Progress

Nada, really. I plan to work on my peacock tonight and then bake him, possibly along with the things in my last post (that look like turds in a box).

Monica made a necklace that I'll add a clasp to. She also made her first chain maille bracelet… I can photo that. We both made some copper chain maille components. Maybe I'll get those photographed.
There are so many projects I want to work on (and have the materials for!), but time is the culprit. I must carve some time out of my days (or nights) to do my creative stuff.

Eco-Friendly Musing

So I'm thinking yesterday about our world. Other than the stray meteorite, nothing new comes to this world, and very little leaves permanently. So… other than the rare exception, what we have on this planet is the same stuff we've had on this planet for thousands of years and will most like have for thousands of years to come.

People, animals, plants, insects… we are all born and we all die. Every THING that we make or create comes from "stuff" from this planet and becomes other "stuff" on this planet… and it never leaves… it just changes how it looks, maybe how it functions… and then maybe also it has potential to become something else… or not.

So maybe what I'd like to do, art- and otherwise, is to make choices in my life that don't harm the environment. I know that's a very broad way of saying it, so let me think of some examples (of harming and of not harming).

The Ozone Layer

Most of you know what the ozone layer is and more importantly what it does (absorbs 93-99% of the sun's ultraviolet light… the stuff that can damage life on earth).

One of the biggest contributors of the desctruction of our protective ozone layer is chlorine in the stratosphere… and currently human activity accounts for 75-85% that.

Wanna see something scary? Check this out… http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:160658main2_OZONE_large_350.png
That's NASA's projection of stratospheric ozone concentrations if chlorofluorocarbons hadn't been banned back in the 70's.

Ozone levels in the northern hemisphere have been dropping 4% per decade.

Some of the specific things that harm the ozone include:
-- Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)… now banned
-- Carbon dioxide (car exhaust, coal burning, etc)
-- Methyl bromide: Used extensively as a pesticide until being phased out by most countries in the early 2000s… In 2004, over 7 million pounds of bromomethane was applied to California vegetation… A court order mandated that farmers had until Jan 1st of 2008 to meet the standards, but California farmers were given a reprieve until 2012… why is methyl bromide getting annual exemptions? Money is, apparently, more important than health because farmers in southern California seem to be fine using a chemical that rids their soil of pests so long as they get their $386 million a year for strawberries. "Farmers say without a viable alternative, their businesses will go under." But what about the bigger picture? Since Methyl bromide is still used on about half the strawberry crops in California, my personal take on the issue is this: in order for me to eat strawberries not contaminated with this chemical for interest in my own personal health as well as to not support the farms that use the chemical, I will only buy locally grown, certified organic strawberries. I can't stop farmers from using it, but I can make my own personal decisions on the part I play (yes, miniscule though it may be) in the big picture.

A word (from Wiki) about the Montreal Protocol. The Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer (a protocol to the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer) is an international treaty designed to protect the ozone layer by phasing out the production of a number of substances believed to be responsible for ozone depletion. It is believed that if the international agreement is adhered to, the ozone layer is expected to recover by 2050.

Kudos to Indonesia, who imposed a ban on the import of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and methyl bromide in January 2008, putting the country two years ahead of the 2010 schedule for phase-out of ozone-depleting substances under the Montreal Protocol.

So that's some info about our depleting ozone layer and what we, as individuals, can do or not do to try to help our planet, even if that help seems like a drop in the ocean.

Chemicals that Harm the Environment

-- Industrial waste
-- Agricultural processing waste
-- Industrial and car emissions cause acid rain which poisons fish and affects the ability of soil to support plants
-- Carbon dioxide causes greenhouse effect and climate changes
-- Chemical fertilizer run-off causes build-up of toxins in rivers.
-- Dioxins: a by-product burning PVC, of manufacturing organochlorides, of paper bleaching, of volcanoes, etc. Dioxins cause serious health problems and only radioactive waste is more toxic. Dioxin was in Agent Orange. It is virtually indestructible and our bodies have no defense against it. Dioxin is the most potent synthetic carcinogen ever tested in laboratory animals. When we incinerate items made with plastic polyvinyl chloride (PVC), we release dioxins into our environment. "They settle on pastures and crops and get eaten by cows, pigs and chickens. They get into lakes, streams, and ocean and are taken up by fish. They go through the food chain and appear in meat and milk and accumulate in the fat cells of our bodies." PVC is used is so many of our daily items… and when these items are disposed of an incinerated, we are poisoning the environment.

Kudos to Electrolux for creating policies to phase out the use of PVC in their appliances.

I'm going to start looking for Totally Chlorine Free (TCF) products.

I will go out of my way to use biodegradable products whenever possible.
I will avoid chlorine bleach.
I will try to use unbleached paper products.
I will try to only print things when really necessary and I will print on recycled paper whenever possible.
I will try to reduce our family's use of single-use or "disposable" products and/or containers.
Now the sad part… polymer clay is PVC. I'm not saying anything about this other than if I choose not to use it that is a personal choice, not a social commentary. No judgments.

I know someone who won't use gold in their work because of the way it's mined. I don't recall now if it was the dangerous labor conditions or if it was that the method for mining is harmful to the environment… or both. But I think each of us who wants to create art does need to decide about the products we use and what it says about us.

I can't change the world, but I can change what I do in this world. I will continue to make choices that sit right with me.

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