Sep 29, 2009

Leading by eco-example

by Abby Armbruster

The United Nations met in New York City for the first ever Climate Week on Sept. 20. China and India were major players of the summit, as they both are big contributors to global warming. Because of their emissions-burning status in the world, China and India were encouraged to start using renewable energy in the future, even though a bigger player, the United States, has not pledged whole-heartedly to reduce carbon emissions.

As one of the top five leading nations, it is hypocritical for the United States to ask the 100 nations represented at the summit to reduce their pollution when as a nation we are not willing to do the same.

“The crisis today on climate change is the inability of the United States to put on the table credible emissions reduction targets for 2020,” India’s environment minister Jairam Ramesh said Sept. 22, according to the Associated Press.

As it stands, China and the United States each produce 20 percent of all greenhouse gasses, according to the Associated Press. President Barack Obama said America will try to reduce American emissions by 2020 to those of1990, but there is no serious agreement on the table.

Some American restaurants are making environmental efforts to make their eatery more eco-friendly. For instance, Panera Bread has reduced its use of paper by introducing new plates and dinnerware, and Starbucks now uses post-consumer recycled products for to-go cups and sleeves.

Grocery stores feature more environmentally-friendly packaging as well. Coca-Cola launched a new bottle prototype this year that uses less plastic for two-liter containers. Purex brand laundry detergent has a sleeker bottle for an updated look that also uses less plastic than its old containers.

Over the past few years, eco-friendly product lines have made it easier for consumers to make greener choices. Companies nationwide are already executing environmental solutions, so why has Congress not yet mandated these measures for all companies? Half of the work is already being done, so the other half—that of legislation from our government—should be done to ratify the issue.

Britain will cut its emissions to 40 percent by utilizing low-carbon energy sources by 2020, according to Now it is America’s turn to step up. Before we can point the finger and address environmental issues of the world, the United States needs to focus inward on reform.

Environmentally positive actions speak louder than eco-friendly words. America should not worry about other nations taking steps to reduce carbon emissions, until we are taking steps to do likewise.

Contact Abby Armbruster at

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