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Earth Talk
EarthTalk®
Written by From the Editors of E/The Environmental Magazine   
Monday, 30 November 2009 10:21

 

Dear EarthTalk: Wouldn’t a return to installing bidets in bathrooms at home go a

earthtalkbidet

long way toward cutting disposable tissue use and saving forests?     -- Peter K., Albany, GA

Besides being more sanitary than toilet tissue, bidets—those squirty accessories so popular in Europe, Japan and elsewhere that clean your underside using a jet of water—are also much less stressful on the environment than using paper.

Justin Thomas, editor of the website metaefficient.com, considers bidets to be “a key green technology” because they eliminate the use of toilet paper. According to his analysis, Americans use 36.5 billion rolls of toilet paper every year, representing the pulping of some 15 million trees. Says Thomas: “This also involves 473,587,500,000 gallons of water to produce the paper and 253,000 tons of chlorine for bleaching.” He adds that manufacturing requires about 17.3 terawatts of electricity annually and that significant amounts of energy and materials are used in packaging and in transportation to retail outlets.

 
EarthTalk®
Written by the Editors of E/The Environmental Magazine   
Tuesday, 24 November 2009 14:20

Dear EarthTalk: Can you enlighten on the environmental impact of the fashion

earthtalkfashion

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that
one-quarter of all pesticides used nationwide go
toward growing cotton, primarily for the clothing
industry. Photo aMartin LaBar, courtesy Flickr.

industry? As I understand it, the industry overall is no friend to the environment.  -- Tan Cheng Li, Malaysia

 

According to the non-profit Earth Pledge, today some 8,000 synthetic chemicals are used throughout the world to turn raw materials into textiles. Domestically, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that one-quarter of all pesticides used nationwide go toward growing cotton, primarily for the clothing industry. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency considers many domestic textile manufacturing facilities to be hazardous waste generators; and lax standards and enforcement in developing countries, where the majority of textiles are produced, means that untold amounts of pollution are likely being deposited into local soils and waterways in regions that can hardly stand further environmental insult.

 
EarthTalk®
Written by the Editors of E/The Environmental Magazine   
Tuesday, 24 November 2009 14:12

Dear EarthTalk: What do organizers hope to accomplish at the upcoming

earthtalkcop15

"International organizers, delegates and others
attending the upcoming COP15 climate conference
in Copenhagen, Denmark are hoping for the
establishment of an ambitious, legally binding global
emissions reduction agreement to take effect
beginning in 2012. That is when initial commitments
made under the Kyoto Protocol, an earlier inter-
national climate treaty that the U.S. refused to join,
expire."

(December 7-18, 2009) United Nations Climate Change Conference being held in Copenhagen? -- F. Rojas, Oakland, CA

The upcoming COP15 meeting in Denmark—so named because it is the 15th such international gathering of the Conference of the Parties (COP) under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change—is the world's next big chance to take decisive multi-lateral action on reducing greenhouse gas emissions substantially enough to ward off cataclysmic climate change.

Negotiators from all over the globe hope to come to terms on a binding agreement regarding emissions reductions that both developed and developing nations can agree to. The stakes are high: This conference represents the final step in negotiations years in the making—and the results could chart a course toward success or failure in human efforts to control the carbon beast we set free in the industrial revolution.

 
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