Deforestation is a central cause of climate change, contributing more greenhouse emissions than does the transportation sector. The tropical forests of Central and South America, Africa and Asia are being destroyed to provide land to graze cattle, to grow food for the animals people choose to eat, and for wood and paper products. I discuss the consequences of diet choice in my book length essay, To Save the Animals. (Nearly completed.) This editorial will focus on the need for paper, cardboard and other recycling.
Trees use carbon dioxide in photosynthesis, therefore when they are destroyed, more CO2 accumulates in the atmosphere. In addition, the water from plant transpiration rises, then condenses to form clouds, and falls as rain or snow. Deforestation disrupts this cycle, and much of the land turns into desert. Large quantities of carbon stored in the soil (especially in peat swamps) are then released to the atmosphere.
Primates, elephants, parrots and other fruit-eating jungle animals disperse seeds away from the parent trees, and package the seeds in fertilizer (dung). As we destroy the forests, we are forcing these species to extinction; the forests may well go extinct, too, without their help. We destroy the forests either by setting fire to them or by cutting down the trees. 50% of all animal species live in the rainforests. We set them on fire or starve them when we destroy the forests. Our actions have set in motion the greatest mass extinction of all time, one that is happening 1,000 (perhaps even up to 100,000) times faster than any previous mass extinction. The animals do not have time to adapt to the rapid change, new species cannot evolve.
Climate change is responsible for heat waves and drought that cause tree deaths from disease and infestations, and lead to hotter forest fires that destroy more trees. Recently, British Columbia lost 58,000 square miles of forest in only a decade. The forest fires kill wildlife. Animals suffocate, burn to death, or lose their shelter and sustenance, as in tropical forests. Thousands of fish may suffocate from ash or die from the heated water in a single forest fire.
To help prevent this cruelty and devastation, it is crucial for businesses and residences to recycle cardboard. Options include:
- Allied Waste/435.628.2821. AW charges less for pickup of both recycling and trash than for trash pickup only.
- Blue Sky Recycling/435.673.1400.
- Sol Foods has a cardboard compactor. They bundle then sell the compacted cardboard. The owners, Max and Julie Gregoric, generously allow other Springdale businesses to bring cardboard to the compactor, located at the side of the building, between Sol Foods and the hardware store. Sol Foods bought the compactor from AFS, and Rocky Mountain Recycling purchases the cardboard.
- The post office has a recycle bin that accepts cardboard, plastic and paper. It is not big enough to accommodate cardboard from businesses; however, people may recycle cardboard from packages there.
- The town bins, located past the Community Center and tennis courts on Lion Boulevard, now have a cardboard recycling bin. However, it is not for business use.
Springdale businesses can work together to expand cardboard recycling options. For example, were businesses to contact Dixie Waste to request recycling, it would provide incentive for Dixie Waste to provide such a service.
Businesses and private residences can also make a significant difference by choosing to use recycled paper products – cups, plates, napkins, toilet paper, paper towels.
Springdale is a village, but millions of tourists come here every year. Springdale can help them to recycle plastic, paper and metal cans by placing small recycle bins throughout the town (as is done in Zion National Park). Motels can provide individual recycle bins (metal/plastic/paper) in every room; Cliff Rose Hotel already does this. A competition, either for children and young people, or for people of all ages, could inspire beautiful posters and banners, and fliers to display in store windows to encourage people to recycle. T-shirts, perhaps with designs by children, could promote recycling. Once Springdale has earned bragging rights, there could be bumper stickers and decals as well.
For Springdale to truly be a green community there must be water conservation. The Virgin River provides the water in Springdale. The forecast for the West the coming decades is drought, to where what now is a very dry year will be considered a wet year. The temperature is expected to continue to rise. There will be less snow melt, upon which the Virgin River depends. Springdale can promote water conservation with signs in motel rooms, public restrooms, and restaurants. Businesses and residences that have not yet done so should install water-conserving showerheads, faucets and toilets. Waiters should ask customers if they want water, or partially fill glasses, or restaurants can use smaller glasses. Leftover water should be saved to water plants. Businesses and residences should only water before 8:00 a.m. and after 7 p.m. from mid-April through September; during the heat of the day, much water evaporates. Green laws are water intensive, and therefore not appropriate in Springdale; desert landscaping is beautiful.
There is no more glorious place on Earth and here. Recycling and water conservation are ways to treasure the land and to save wildlife.