THE CHINGCHOK Hunter
Kermit the Frog from the "Muppet Show" once sang a song entitled It's Not Easy Being Green, but I bet he didn't know how prophetic that statement would become!
In today's world, everything seems to be "going green", from eco-friendly resorts and business offices, to renewable energies to simply not using plastic bags at the supermarket.
But there are very good reasons for this "green revolution". We need to stop ruining the planet, and hopefully leave it in better condition for our children and grandchildren than it is in today.
It also makes perfectly good sense to be more ecologically friendly, and the global media is doing its part to bring that notion to our attention. Today, we are all aware of the damage being done to our home - Mother Earth - by unnecessary pollution, most of which is avoidable.
Avoid plastic bags
I'm sure all of you have been to shops where you are encouraged to buy reusable cloth bags to carry your groceries, as opposed to "free" plastic bags, but will this really make a difference? The answer is simple. It will make an astounding and positive difference.
Plastic bags are incredibly useful because they are lightweight, strong, cheap and do not contaminate the food that they carry.
However, they are produced from crude oil, that horrible and ever-diminishing and polluting black gold. Moreover, when plastic bags are disposed of they create enormous volumes of non-biodegradable, plastic waste that lasts for many lifetimes. A typical polyethylene bag may take approximately 1000 years to degrade.
If you consider the trillions of bags used every single year, a large proportion of which do not get recycled, that is an unimaginable amount of waste. Many end up in the oceans and this is having devastating effects.
One of many examples of the devastating effects of disposed plastic bags is the sad story of the magnificent turtle.
A leatherback turtle was washed up dead on a beach in Wales. It had a mass of nearly 1 tonne and was just less than 3 metres long! It would have been well over a hundred years old and was a true giant and a fine specimen.
Scientists conducted an autopsy on this magnificent animal and discovered that it had swallowed plastic bags which it mistook for jellyfish and choked to death. Yet tragically, this is one of many similar stories of the devastation of wildlife by plastic bags.
You can change this cycle of devastation by buying reusable shopping bags.
Remind your parents! You can be teachers, too.
If you absolutely must use plastic bags, recycle them and reuse them. This is a direct impact you can have on pollution. Get on it!
And by the way, never miss an opportunity to tell the cashier or person bagging your family's groceries to use the least number of plastic bags possible so as to "Help to protect the environment". Just say: "Chuay-gan raksa sing-waed-lom, na krab"
Dump bottled water
Plastic bottles have a devastating impact on the environment, too. Like all plastics, they take hundreds of years to decompose and break down, therefore causing massive pollution.
Ironically, the people in the US buy more bottled water than those in any other nation in the world, yet they can safely drink water directly from the tap! At least in Thailand buying bottled water in plastic bottles is safer than drinking from the tap, but there is still no need for plastic bottles or bottled water!
Start with your school
Many schools here in Thailand, especially international schools, sell bottled water on their campuses. My school uses water coolers where the 18 litre bottles are reused and refilled, meaning there is little plastic waste. Sensible living and ecologically sound practices start with education, yet as it stands, about a million new plastic bottles are being thrown away just at schools and on school campuses every day in Thailand alone.
Be proactive. Talk to your school administrators.
Start a "No Bottled Water" campaign. Every student in every school should commit to bringing a refillable water bottle to school. This will save millions of empty plastic water bottles each day.
You can teach your teachers. Get on it!
And remember, plastic bottles are also a dreaded by-product of crude oil.
Energy-saving light bulbs are compact fluorescent (CF) bulbs which do exactly what their name says: save energy. They may be initially more expensive to buy, but they can last 20 times longer and cost far less to operate daily.
Traditional, incandescent bulbs are mini-heaters that happen to give off only a little light, meaning most of their energy is wasted and lost as heat.
CF bulbs use about one-quarter of the power that incandescent bulbs use. They also don't give off much heat, which is surely a good thing in Thai homes. But most importantly, the amount of electricity needed to have the equivalent amount of light is less, meaning less coal is burned and less carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere.
There are many simple ways that you can save energy in your home, such as reducing your electricity bill and ultimately reducing your carbon footprint. Simple things like turning your TV off instead of using standby makes a huge difference over a few years.
Unplugging appliances, such as toasters or phone chargers, will stop adding up electricity use. These are very simple things, but if the whole world did them, the difference would be amazing.
Reducing the amount of time you use the air conditioner will also be a huge help to the environment. Use fans instead of air conditioners, or simply set your A/C at a higher, yet still comfortable, temperature. A two-degree difference in temperature equates to significant financial savings.
Of course, all of the above is spurred on due to the effects of global warming, which was a highlight in the news last month due to the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference. We dealt with climate change last week and this week we admire Kermit the Frog for "staying green". Now it's your turn.
Dave Canavan has an MSc in Behavioural Ecology and is the Head of Secondary at Garden International School. Dave is fascinated by science and loves animals, especially the dangerous kind! Contact Dave at firstname.lastname@example.org .