For many of us, this past weekend was Easter weekend. This means that a ton of us humans from all around the world, went out and spent our money on clothes, candy, flowers, food and gifts. The National Retail Federation actually projected this year’s Easter spending to be a grand total of $17.3 BILLION DOLLARS! With the breakdown being- $3 billion on clothing, $2.4 billion on candy, $1.2 billion on flowers, $5.5 billion on food and $2.2 billion on gifts. These numbers are certainly striking but I am not really here to discuss dollars and cents as much as I am here to talk about the environmental impact of it all.
Now, for a majority of us celebrators of this holiday, a portion of the billion dollar Easter deficit is spent on things like plastic window clings for decorating, candy in plastic wrappers, candy in plastic wrappers in a bigger plastic wrapper, multicolored hollow plastic eggs, little plastic bunny and chick figurines, fake plastic “grass” for our baskets and rolls of plastic gift wrap to wrap it all up in. The overuse of such a persistent and potentially non-biodegradable product is what is really alarming about this past holiday. The image below shows just how long it takes for different types of plastics to decompose naturally or “biodegrade”. Today, we only talked about Easter so, can you imagine how much plastic we use just for global holiday celebrations annually!? I shutter at the thought.
(Link for Nation Retail Association article: https://nrf.com/media/press-releases/nrf-says-easter-spending-will-reach-173-billion)
So very many companies, organizations, and foundations SAY they want to “better the community”. They present their own “Green Scheme’s” from beautification of parks to restoration of habitats to beach cleanups. Although these “Green Scheme’s” seem appealing, some are actually what I like to call “green scams”. They pull at the moral heart strings of environmentalists, nature-lovers, economists and general hippies who occupy the community and when those are lacking, businesses love to back anything presented to them as being “green”. The scams generate enough economical interest to get off the ground but thats usually where the party ends. You may see a sign or two at the local park, pier or playground, or maybe you heard about it from a friend, or from a local news channel. Either way, these schemes always seem short lived and work is either not done at all or done and not maintained for the long-run. However, that is not why I consider these initiatives “green scams” per se. The issue with these short-term projects is that all the focus to “better the community” lies in the dollars and cents generated while an invaluable resources goes to waste in the process-THE COMMUNITY!
For a passionate initiative to gain steam and really make a difference in a community, especially like those encased in the fast-paced and unforgiving New York City, the community has to be the heart. Communities and townships all over the country DO come up with inventive ways to better their natural environments and to preserve the eco-centrisim that still lives there. Through positive incentives like food, beer, prizes and even money (another very important green), communities are making a difference on their own terms! I believe that adopting these ideas of beautifying/cleaning for a personal benefit whether it be a free slice of pizza, a free beer or a voucher for free entry to the newest nightclub, is the best way to get community members involved and engaged. It also brings attention and press to local businesses whose “foods for cause” or “freebies for helpers” may be enjoyed in numbers they would not have otherwise seen that day or week. Bringing revenue to local businesses and conservation to surrounding habitat is a recipe for a perfect “Green Scheme“! Let’s try to bring it home to NYC!
Part of my “Green Scheme” is volunteering with an amazing non-profit organization called Gotham Whale. They strive “To study, advocate for, and educate about the whales and marine mammals of New York City, through Citizen Science.” This weekend they invited me to join them in exhibiting at an event called Beneath the Sea at the Meadowlands Exhibition Center in Secaucus, New Jersey.
During my time at the exposition, I met many humans who live “beneath the sea”. This small yet brotherly population of people have learned to breathe, explore, record, and create, beneath the sea. Some design suits that act as a second skin equipped to handle a foreign environment while others blaze trails through unknown and unexplored oases and wrecks, all while living beneath the sea.
Having spent a short time of my own (Study Abroad program during college) learning to become a certified diver and visiting the coral reefs of Jamaica, I live in awe and admiration for the skills and techniques of all the humans who live “beneath the sea”. These pictures are just a small snapshot (no pun intended!) into the specialities of these humans…enjoy 🙂