Can you smoke and still be green?
I do everything I can to be environmentally conscious. My carbon impact is getting better and better. But here it is ‘ True Confession’s- I still smoke. Yes, I have quit many times, yes, I know the health and environmental issues, yes I am the last of my friends that still smoke, yes, I am a courteous smoker in San Diego, Yes, I know about pollution, yada, yada, yada, but the truth of the matter is, I like to smoke. And Yes, this was a hard thing to admit in a Green Blog!
While I am in agreement with public areas, beaches and planes banning smoking. I am also in agreement that many smokers are slobs. (That is from the amount of cigarette litter I pick up.) I am not in agreement with the government telling private businesses whether they can allow smoking in their establishments. The reality is most smokers are standing outside smoking and throwing their butts in the street due to lack of available ashtrays. Now they take the pollution outdoors instead of indoors.
Last nite, I was having this discussion with a friend- Her Statement- “No matter how ‘green’ you can be, there is nothing more toxic than smoking.” Of course, She just issued me a challenge, what blogger could resist that!
So here’s what I have to say.- The issues of smoking are the same as any environmental issues. Pollution, Toxins, Litter and Health. All Are Problems, All Cost Taxpayer Money, all are bad on health and the environment. We all have our vices and hard to break habits, but that litterbug is just as intrusive as a smoker. The Organic can be just a toxic as a smoker. The over-fragranced person can just be a polluted as a smoker. The Leaf Blower is just as obnoxious and polluting as a smoker.
That said – the challenge is on:
Looking at Facts and Stats:
- Cost of Smoking to Taxpayers= $10 Billion
- Cost of Obesity to Taxpayers= $39 Billion
- Cost of Cleaning up Toxins in Landfills- $200 Billion
- Cost of Cleaning up Litter (Billions) see earlier posts on taxpayer cost.
- Cost to Clean up Illegal Waste Dumps (see below examples of costs)
- Cost of E-Waste to Taxpayers- $450 Million
- Cost to Taxpayers Dependence on Oil =$215 Billion
- Ground Water, Soil and Air Pollution Taxpayer Cost- $24- $240 Billion
- Cost of Landfills- $20 Million Taxpayer Dollars to build- and millions to maintain-
- Costs of Cleaning Water, Oceans, Lakes, Streams, Underground
- Costs of Water to Taxpayers (Billions) (see below articles)
- Costs of Disposing of Plastic Bottles -per city- $70 Million Taxpayer Dollars
- Plastic Bags- approximately 4 billion dollars in increased good costs per year.
Toxins in Landfills
Landfills produce significant amounts of methane gas, along with leachate, a toxic liquid that comes out of all that compressed trash. Leachate is full of organic and inorganic pollutants, including toluene, phenols, benzene, ammonia, dioxins, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), chlorinated pesticides, heavy metals and endocrine-disrupting chemicals.
I tried to get more accurate data, but it’s hard to find so here are estimates taken from various sources (listed below)
- # of Legal- Active Landfills in US = 3091
- # of Old municipal Landfills in US= 10,000
- 82% of Landfills leak (For the sake of argument) 8,000 landfills are leaking
- Cost Average of cleaning up Landfill = $20 Million
E-Waste- Ted Smith, executive director of the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition, watchdog group in California, says, “E-waste is one of the fastest-growing and most toxic waste streams, threatening human health and the environment.
- E-Waste in Landfills- Less than 10% of Electronics are recycled.
- Taxpayer cost in recycling= $450 Million (NY paid $6.4 Million in 2007)
- California Cost- 1 Billion (old article)
- Toxins involved-3-8 pounds of lead in average 18 inch TV and 17 inch computers, Circuit boards contains, chromium, lead. batteries contain nickel, cadmium to name a few.
- ScienceDaily (Aug. 27, 2007) — ” The pollution produced by light trucks, SUVs and minivans is only half a percent higher than smaller cars.” Now, where I live, every other car is a SUV or minivan. Not only that, these gas guzzler’s increase our dependence on oil. They also block our views on the road, take up valuable parking spaces, increase our dependence on oil, now they pollute more!
- Half of all vehicles leased by members of Congress with taxpayer funds are gas-guzzling SUVs, a review of congressional financial records show. Taxpayers spend about $1 million per year to lease vehicles for 127 members of the House of Representatives, more than a quarter of the 435-member body. Senators are prohibited from leasing vehicles. (Database of Cars leased by Members of Congress)
Toxins and Beauty Products
I just blogged on this, and to know that the average person uses 7 beauty products a day is amazing. Let me count the ways how bad this is for the environment. 1.) Energy involved in manufacturing. 2.) Toxin (hazardous) products used in making the products. 3.) Amount of packaging and over-wrapping that goes into landfills. 4.) The continued reliance on oil to produce the products …….
Toxins and Fast Food:
- Do I need to say more? Trans – Fatty Acids? Obesity – see above comment in taxpayer cost and we know how much obesity effects.
- 20% of Litter is Fast Food, taxpayers pay for litter clean up
Coffee To Go
I have already blogged on the amount of coffee cups in landfills and some cities are considering taxing. (Your dollars, but the taxpayer pays for this in landfills and in litter clean up, plus most of the take outs are non-biodegradable.
- The City of San Francisco estimates that each plastic bag costs tax payers 17 cents to pick up and dispose of. That means you’re already paying a hidden tax for the convenience of plastic bags.
- The City of San Francisco estimates that it alone spends about 8.5 million dollars on cleanup and disposal of littered plastic (excludes Adopt a Highway
- Right now the high cost of picking up and disposing of plastic bags is about 17 times the store cost of distributing them. Taxpayers are footing that bill.
- Plastic bags cost consumers in US approximately 4 billion dollars in increased good costs per year.
- California alone estimates that landfilling plastic costs taxpayer more than $750 million per year
Water Costs by Taxpayers
- Some comprehensive studies are now showing that there are over 2,100 toxins in our drinking water.These toxins include: chlorine, lead, chemicals that get into the water supply from large farming runoffs, and corporate pollution. We as taxpayers pay to clean up our city water and obviously many continue to really pay for bottled water (which is not cleaner) and we again as taxpayers have to pay for land fill space and the toxins released, and lets add on the dependancy on oil (which we pay for again)
- Industrial Farms: Water Hogs and Subsidy Guzzlers-Many California farmers still pay the government between $2 and $20 per acre-foot for irrigation water — at little as ten percent of the water’s full cost. Taxpayers make up the difference; between 1902 and 1986 irrigation subsidies have cost taxpayers around $70 billion. And as the degraded Bay-Delta watershed demonstrates, massive federal irrigation projects cause irreparable environmental damage, destroying rivers, fish and other wildlife.
- WASHINGTON – Four large irrigation water districts in the Central Valley of California still owe federal taxpayers nearly $500 million for a network of dams and canals constructed for their benefit in the 1960s, according to a new report issued by the non-partisan Government Accountability Office (GAO).
- City Spending on Bottled Water-T he U.S. Conference of Mayors passed a resolution today encouraging mayors to phase out city spending on bottled water and to promote the importance of municipal water. The resolution, authored by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and sponsored by mayors from 17 major cities, aims to redirect taxpayer dollars to other essential city services. Cities are also spending more than $70 million a year to dispose of plastic water bottles. San Francisco and other large cities were also spending more than $500,000 a year on annual contracts. (Taxpayer Dollars)
- Cost of Water During a Drought- All you over-watered, abusers- heed this The drought has taken a toll everywhere: people’s daily lives, their pocketbooks and municipalities’ public utilities budgets. Raleigh officials were considering a 50 percent surcharge to pass that cost onto residents. For use that use water sparingly, we are going to be paying up the ….
- The State of Florida has given a Nestle bottling plant the right to pump as much water as it can get out Madison Blue Springs State Park, which is presently in drought conditions. The right lasts until 2018, and cost Nestle $230 in permit fees. Florida is presently in bitter dispute with its neighboring states over a region-wide water-shortage…..As an added incentive for Nestle, the state approved a tax refund of up to $1.68-million for the Madison bottling operation. To date, Nestle has received two refunds totaling $196,000 and requested a third tax refund.
Clean Up Costs of Illegal Waste Site
- Annually, 160 tons of materials, debris and waste are dumped on the streets of Berkeley. Clean up of illegal dumping cost Berkeley tax payers over $100,000 per year and increases the cost to maintain clean and healthy streets. One litter crew commits 22% of its time removing illegally dumped material. The yearly impact to the community is that Clean City is unable to provide litter service to 5,885 blocks in residential and commercial areas.
- San Bernadino– $1.2 Million
- Los Angeles Llano Illegal Disposal Site––”In eastern Antelope Valley of the county, south of State Highway 138, unknown parties have dumped an estimated 1,000 cubic yards of solid waste in several parcels next to the California Aqueduct. Most of the waste––800 cubic yards––lies on property owned by the California Department of Water Resources (DWR). Homes are located less than a mile from some of the trash.”The Board approved a $154,000 cleanup project for the site to remove household trash, construction and demolition debris, furniture, appliances, vehicles, tires, and landscape cuttings. Some of the waste was routinely burned over the years and additional trash lines a natural drainage, exposing the water to contamination. All recyclable items will be hauled to recycling facilities. Nonsalvageable items will be landfilled. Hazardous household wastes will be properly disposed and the DWR will fence off its property against further …
- Tri Cities In the 2007-2008 fiscal year alone, Dougherty oversaw the cleanup of 65.4 tons of trash on 79 miles of road in the county and 44.5 tons of waste at 22 illegal dump sites.One of the largest sites he has encountered was located on Lower Grass Creek Road, just outside of Nickelsville.
- Los Angeles: 8th and 6th Streets Storm Drain Outfall Sites––Trash and other wastes that accumulate at storm drain outfall sites and spread downstream to beaches, urban streams, and wetlands is a significant pollution problem in southern California. The 8th and 6th Streets storm drain outfall sites in downtown Los Angeles are two major sources of pollution in the Los Angeles River. Besides the trash, other associated pollutants include bacteria, viruses, oil, grease, nutrients, metals, and toxic chemicals. These sites receive urban runoff from an area larger than 1,000 acres with sources of pollution concentrated from food processing, commercial, and transportation-related businesses, and estimated 3,000 homeless people.The Waste Board has agreed to help clean up these sites with a grant of $584,136, to be matched by the city.With the city’s matching funds, the total cost of the cleanup project is estimated to top $1.4 million.
- The San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday (3/28/00) awarded a $15.2 million contract to Riverside-based Riverside Construction Company to construct the 20th Street and San Antonio storm drains in Upland.
- Baltimore; “The fact is, the city has already required taxpayers to pay high costs associated with cleaning up less visible water pollution. City residents are paying almost $1 billion in higher water and sewer bills to fix up the city’s leaky sewage system.”
I started this out to talk about smoking and of course it just led into a whole other things. I’m not trying to justify my poor habits by all of the above- it just got away from me
Green Smoking Comments:
Green Smoking- Now I have not tried any of these and don’t know whether they are good or bad.
- Green Smokes Green Smokers Club.com proudly introduces Green Smokes™ — a revolutionary electronic cigarette designed as a healthier smoking alternative to traditional tobacco cigarettes. Using advanced technology, Green Smokes™ allows one the freedom to smoke virtually anywhere, without the flame, ash, tar, or carbon monoxide found in traditional tobacco cigarettes. As Green Smokes™ is completely free of tobacco, this product likewise does not contain the thousands of harmful carcinogens typically found in tobacco products. With no offensive second-hand smoke, Green Smokes™ offers a safer, healthier environment to both you and the non-smoking community. Simply put, there is no longer a need for anyone to breathe the unwanted, dangerous second-hand smoke produced by traditional tobacco cigarettes.
Quit Smoking Blogs
- Quit Smoking Herbs
- Quit Smoking Together– Small group of people that are supportive of each other in the quit smoking goals.
- Butts and Gum– portable ashtray The boodi eco-ashtray is the first ever portable ashtray to be made from recyclable, biodegradable and compostable materials. We invented it to provide an alternative to the millions of plastic pocket ashtrays that are ending-up in landfill sites. Like plastic bags, these portable ashtrays are damaging the environment throughout their lifecycle – from production to landfill.
- My Quit Smoking Blog – good research, fairly new blog If you’ve tried everything so far and have not yet succeeded, then try again, you’ve got nothing to lose. I am someone who tried and tried and tried but I succeeded. I can smoke a whole pack of cigarettes right now and go on without even thinking about smoking again. This is just to show you knowledge is freedom.
- Quitting Smoking Again the name’s Chris. 30-something y/o guy from New Jersey, wife, two boys. Did I miss anything? I quit smoking for the second time on 7/7/07, and fell off the wagon in September 2008
- Stop Smoking – Great Resource and information
- Tammy’s Quit Smoking blog
- Earth Trends
- Battling the Problem of E-Waste
- Wisconsin State Journal – Toxin Cleanup in Landfills
- Clean Computer Campaign
- Great article about Toxins in everyday life
- Cost of Obesity in RI = ( www.cdc.gov/obesity/stateprograms/fundedstates/rhode_island.html)$305 Million
- Military Waste Dumping– Old article but Billions spent
- Zero Waste America
- Investor’s Edge- Toxin Cleanup
- Clean Technica– Cost to Taxpayer in lost royalty Oils
- How Petroleum Benefits at the Taxpayer Expense
- How Landfills Work– has some cost Statements as well
- Toxics in Connecticut Data Summary