Helping people Use Less Stuff by conserving resources and
reducing waste. That, my dear readers, has been our goal these past six years. And
that is why I am dedicating this, most likely our last issue, to The Lorax. The Lorax
spoke for the trees, for the trees have no voice of their own. The Lorax spoke for the
Brown Barba-Loots, who once ate the truffula fruits off the trees but who now have
crummies in their tummies because there are not enough truffula fruits left. The Lorax
spoke for the Swomee-Swans who couldnt sing with smog in their throats. The Lorax
spoke for the Humming-Fish who couldnt swim with their gills all gummed by the
pollution in the lakes. The Lorax spoke out against the Oncelers because he knew that not
everyone needs a thnead. That old Lorax believed that having less stuff was truly more!
Just because we are saying goodbye doesnt mean it has to end
here. We can make a difference. You can make a difference. To help,
we have taken information passed on over the years and restated it in terms of family
member responsibilities. Remind your children that even playing a very small part can
indeed help improve our environment.
The Big Picture
Our real environmental problems are due to the ways in which
increasingly affluent, ever larger populations produce and consume food, water and energy.
Weve said this many times. The Union of Concerned Scientists has began saying it,
too. Thus, it is time to stop worrying about the little things that may feel good to do,
but dont really improve the environment.
Reducing the amount of materials and energy that are consumed or
wasted will have a far more favorable environmental impact than recycling glass bottles or
worrying about which type of bag to choose at the market or which type of diaper to buy.
So have your family use our tips, and speak out against The Onclers and become the voice
of The Lorax.
Thanks for a great six and a half years, and please keep on using
Bob Lilienfeld, Editor
What You Can Do
-- If possible, choose a place to live that reduces the need to
drive -- remember that transportation is responsible for about one-third of energy
consumed in the U.S.
-- Make your next car more fuel-efficient especially
you SUV drivers.
-- Consolidate trips. Going to the west side of town? Think
about everything you can do while over there, rather than making separate journeys. (Kids,
if youre meeting friends at the skating rink or mall, see if you can carpool. Better
yet, take the bus -- you can talk without worrying about your parents overhearing.)
-- Compost yard wastes and grass clippings. This is the key
to maintaining a healthy lawn and garden. (And a note to you gardeners Resist the urge to
turn your yard into a farm. Grow only what you or your friends can use.)
-- Cut the grass with a mulching mower to save time and
resources while reducing waste. Since mulch acts as a fertilizer, you save money and
reduce the amount of chemicals that seep into ground water and aquifers. (We realize that
you kids are going to hate not having to rake up all that excess. We suggest using that
extra energy to rollerblade to your friends house rather than having your mom drive
-- Water the lawn in the early morning or evening, not during
the heat o f the day. This way water will soak into the ground instead of evaporating. But
if the young ones insist on running through the sprinkler on a hot day, rotate it every
now and then so you are not just watering the sidewalk or the same old piece of grass.
-- When picnicking, pack food and drinks in reusable
containers and bags. Clean plastic grocery bags are great for holding ice. Not only will
your food stay cold in the cooler, but youll have ice for drinks and a bag for the
garbage when youre done.
-- Moms and Dads can work to improve the efficiency of home
appliances, heating and cooling systems. Dust off coils and clean or change filters.
-- Spend less time in front of the TV and computer. Not only
will it save energy, but it might bring you closer as a family.
-- Use the library. Its a great source for magazine
exchanges or checking out the latest video or CD. You can even borrow a book there for
-- Thinking about buying something? Try the 30-Day Rule. If
you still want it 30 days from the first time you saw it, chances are its something
to really consider purchasing. Waiting the 30 days helps eliminate impulse buying.
-- Walk, bike, rollerblade. It's fun and energy efficient.
-- The lunchroom is not what it used to be. Tell your parents
to get with it. You want a reusable lunch box or one of those great insulated bags.
-- Turn the water off while brushing your teeth. It seems
like such a simple thing, but it can make a huge difference. (Don't forget to turn it off
when you're done, too!)
-- Turn off the lights, computer, TV, stereo, or video game
when you're not using it. Here's a good rule of thumb If you leave the room, shut it off!
-- Need a nightlight? Have your parents put it on a timer, or
buy one that is photosensitive and shuts off at sunrise. No big deal.
-- Doing laundry? You need those cool pants for the big date,
but they're dirty. Would it really kill you to throw in some more clothes to make it a
full load? I dont think so! Not only is it better for the environment, but
youll probably score points with the parental units as well.
-- Fun without electricity Try playing a board game. (It's
something your parents used to do.)
-- Got the munchies? Dont hang with the refrigerator
door open. Decide what you want and grab it quick.
-- Mother to Mother sales are a great thing. Let your mom and
her friends in on it. Clothes and toy swapping are a great way to get something new
without using up more resources.
-- Fewer toys enhance creativity and exercise the
imagination. An old box, some string and crayons can be more fun than many new toys.
-- Conserve paper. Ask your teacher if you can hand in
reports electronically, or print them on scrap paper.
-- When birthday invitations arrive, try making the gift wrap
yourself out of newspapers, magazine ads, etc. Also, consider buying gifts that are both
thoughtful and consumption reducing. These include tickets to concerts, movies, skating
rinks and sporting events. Gift certificates to local book, record and clothing stores
also make sure your friends choose something they really want, and thus won't end up
-- Ask your parents or other family members for
resource-saving gifts that provide services, not material products. How about music, dance
or skating lessons? Maybe stocks or bonds to start that high-powered portfolio?
-- Molly, our cat, meows that clumping cat litters are
preferable. You scoop out only what's been used, making litter last longer and the box
easier to clean. You might also try newer litters made from recycled newspaper.
-- Nick, our dog, barks that old tennis balls, stuffed
animals and knotted socks make great toys.
-- Nick begs you to have your pet spayed or neutered. The
local humane society is a great resource.
-- Plastic deli containers make good food and water bowls.
They also make good food scoops, as do gallon milk jugs. Use a large knife to cut along
the diagonal, handle-side up. Recycle the excess.
-- Buy food (and litter) in bulk. Use dry rather than moist.
Youll save money, store trips, and energy. Our figures show that bulk foods bought
in paper or plastic reduce packaging waste by 75% versus moist foods bought in cans. As
for taste, Nick's prep tip is to mix water with dry food to make a nice gravy.
-- Both Molly and Nick concur Old towels and pillowcases make
great bed liners.
Cancer Rates Decline
According to an annual report, U.S. cancer rates are falling faster
than ever and death rates are also down. Researchers say that both are due mostly to a
decline in cigarette smoking among men. And despite Americans bad eating habits and
reluctance to undergo cancer screening, rates of colon cancer are also down.
The report, compiled by the National Cancer Institute, the American
Cancer Society, the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries, the Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention and the CDCs National Center for Health
Statistics, showed that the number of new cancer cases declined on average 0.8 percent per
year between 1990 and 1997.
According to a statistician who helped write the report, mortality
rates peaked around 1991. They went down 1.7 percent per year in 1995 to 1997 -- the
biggest drop ever.
Fuel Cell Technology Continues to Improve
The U.S. Department of Energy projects that if only 10% of
automobiles nationwide were powered by fuel cells, regulated air pollutants would be cut
by one million tons per year and 60 million tons of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide
would be eliminated. With these savings in mind, Ballard Power Systems of Vancouver,
Canada recently introduced the Mark 900, a new fuel cell only half the size of its
predecessors. Ford promplty unveiled its TH!NK FC5 prototype passenger sedan, which is
powered by the new cells.
Ballard is also working with Coleman Powermate to develop fuel cell
powered products for portable and standby power markets. Coleman Powermate is a North
American leader in portable electric generators.
Ford Admits SUVs Not Environmently Friendly
In an unusual move, The Ford Motor Company has admitted that sport
utility vehicles (SUVs) cause serious safety and environmental problems. The company is
the only automotive manufacturer to admit to such a statement, and says that it is working
to solve the problems caused by these vehicles.
Ford recently issued its first "corporate citizen report,"
which stated that compared to cars, SUVs contribute more to global warming, emit more
pollutants and endanger other motorists. The company stated that because of their high
level of profitability, SUVs will continue being built, but that the company will seek
technological solutions and look for alternatives to the big vehicles.
When asked to explain their admission, Chairman William Clay Ford
stated, "The court of public opinion sometimes decides before you're ready for them
to decide, and I want to make sure that we're ahead of the curve."
Research Reveals Additional Pollution Sources
The U.S. mining and electric utility industries are the worst U.S.
polluters, according to a more sophisticated analysis released by U.S. regulators
Thursday. The report showed that such pollution is three times worse than previously
For the first time, electric utilities and mining facilities were
included in the Environmental Protection Agencys (EPA) annual toxic inventory
report, in an expanded version that includes seven industrial sectors.
Some 7.3 billion pounds of these pollutants were disposed of in
1998, the last year for which data are available a figure three times that of the
previous measure, according to the EPA report which was designed to inform communities
about potential health risks from industry. The new EPA data apparently revealed that up
to 63 percent of the new total comes from the mining and electric utility industries.
Auto Pollution Also Underestimated
According to the National Research Council, an Environmental
Protection Agency computer program that analyzes pollution from cars and trucks often
underestimates emissions, so regulators must develop more accurate methods to protect the
public health. The computer model known as MOBILE has been used by the EPA since 1978 to
estimate emissions of carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides. It
underpins most federal rules for car emissions and fuel standards.
The software program is also used to assess the effectiveness of
state and local air quality programs. "EPA uses these estimates to develop
regulations and programs for protecting air quality," said Armistead Russell,
chairman of a National Research Council committee that analyzed the computer program.
"These estimates need to be as accurate as possible so that pollution control
programs, which cost many millions of dollars, are effective in protecting the environment
and public health," said Russell, an environmental engineering professor at the
Georgia Institute of Technology.
The panel of academics and independent scientists cited several ways
in which MOBILE underestimates pollutants. The computer program "substantially"
underestimates volatile organic compounds material that forms ozone from
cars and trucks, according to the report. The MOBILE technique also underestimates
nitrogen oxides emissions from diesel trucks, and particulate matter emission rates are
"highly uncertain," the report said.
The report urged the EPA to develop a "tool kit" of other
computer modeling techniques to supplement the existing system. The 22 year old system was
originally developed to measure regional emissions, and is considered to be out of date.