So Fresh and So Clean

What often gets lost in amidst the discussion of our use of fossil fuels is this - fossil fuels are incredibly dirty. Burning fuel for energy rarely results in pristine, fresh air.

This is why in January of this year the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) finally issued a ruling that will phase out permits for the most polluting grades of heating oil - No. 4 and No 6. These oils, according to a report by the Environmental Defense Fund, although they make up a mere 1% of the oils burned in New York City emit more soot pollution than all of the city’s cars and trucks.

In other words by dealing with a mere 1% of the city’s problem, we can drastically improve the city’s air quality.

Shockingly, some 41 years after the nation’s first Earth Day there is still a lot of similarly low hanging fruit. A handful of tiny changes effectively applied can do much to usher in sustainable development and work towards environmental conservation.

Another example?

In 2002 when Ireland externalized the true cost of plastic bags (like the kind given out at supermarkets), by charging a 15 cent plastic bag tax, the nation’s use of plastic bags declined some 90%. These, after all, are the same plastic bags that choke wildlife and contribute to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Sometimes, the biggest steps we can make, are the smallest steps.

Photo Credit: Kate Ter Haar