Conservation Station: Storms Cause Conservation Havoc, Too

By Stacy Martin on July 27, 2012 from Conservation Station via

First, a friendly reminder that if you haven’t gone to signed up to help Bridgeport win, then you better get started and log on now.  Bridgeport ONLY has from July 1, 2012 until December 31, 2012 to recycle and log our progress that counts toward the SC JOHNSON GREEN CHOICES REYCYCLING CHALLENGE.  The participating community with the highest percentage of people REPORTING their recycling efforts each month will WIN the $100,000 grant money.  To get started, go to sign up, recycle and report it online each week!!! It’s that easy!
OK – So it has been more than a week since my last blog.  The severe storm we had on June 29 – I’m sure you remember it well – wreaked havoc on many, including me and my family.  Although we escaped property damage and very few trees were uprooted, we did not have electricity for more than EIGHT (that’s right 8) days.  We are fortunate to have a generator hooked up to our house, but it primarily ensures light at night, the fridge and freezer kept cold, and the water pump so we have water to use the restroom.  I know many were not so fortunate to have a generator, and my heart truly goes out to those who really suffered in the aftermath of the storm.  Even with our generator fortune, not having air condition in the midst of the heat wave or the ability to cook was an eye opening experience for my children, and quite frankly, we were all very cranky.  However, it was also a good learning experience for my kids!  A good dose of reality for what life is truly about – living on this Earth – no matter the circumstance.  It gave me an opportunity to talk to them about what it was like to live in the early 1900’s (stories passed down from my Grandma) and to discuss how other people live in different countries today.
These talks with my kids then extended to how the storm impacted the environment.  Yes, numerous trees were sacrificed by Mother Nature, but the real damage comes from the waste and trash that piles up in the landfills after these storms.  Think about it!  The people who weren’t fortunate to be able to keep the fridge or freezer – most threw their bad food in the trash.  A good lesson for why people should compost – much of that food can be recycled into good soil.  Even Charleston, WV set up an emergency program for residents and restaurant owners to bring their spoiled food to a designated area to be disposed of usefully.  How about paper products?  Going to the stores I noticed paper towels, paper plates, plastic utensils, etc. were basically cleared from the shelves.  Of course when you don’t have electricity to wash towels or limited water to wash dishes – it becomes convenience and all good intentions for the Earth go out the window (along with the trash).  What about the yard debris?  Most people also disposed of that in the trash if they had no other way to get rid of it.  Then you have the trash blown by the winds – many of it ends up in creeks, ponds or lakes only to pollute the waters.
So how did your family impact the landfill after the storm?  If you disposed of more than your fair share, then perhaps you should think about what you can do to prepare for the next natural disaster or storm (whether rain or snow) that might strike our area.  There are many great ideas depending on what you disposed of most.  If it was disposing of spoiled foods – research composting – your flowers and vegetable plants will thank you next Spring.  If it was using more paper products to get by – recycle those milk gallons by filling them up with clean water and storing them.  Having clean water is vital – especially if the city water system becomes contaminated and a boil water advisory goes in effect.  If you can’t boil the water and bottled water flies off the shelves of stores – you’ll be happy you stored that water (just make sure you store it properly and at an appropriate temperature).  Use older water for other purposes and refill containers that can be used for consumption.
Thinking and preparing for the next storm is a good project to do with the kids – they might have some really good ideas for your household.  Give them shoeboxes and let them fill them with what they think might be important to have on hand next time.  Talk about each item and whether it will help or hurt the environment in the aftermath.  Designate a cabinet, drawer, or closet to keep the boxes in so everyone will know where to go in the next emergency.
As bad as those storms were, we can always take something good from something bad.  Maybe the impact on the environment can be lessened with better preparation by residents for future incidents.  Hopefully everyone is back to normal living (recycling as usual)!  We finally are, but will be much better prepared next time. 

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