May 20, 1970
Vol. IX, No. I

The Environment--What YOU Can Do

Earth Week is over but the memory lingers on. Let's hope the enthusiasm, determination and the quest for knowledge stirred by Earth Week lingers on too.

It was my good fortune to attend Earth Week gatherings in Arizona, Ohio, Massachusetts, Michigan and Washington State. I spoke to and listened to hundreds of people of all ages drawn together for a common cause: to clean up the mess.

But no speeches or discussions ever cleaned up a river. Therefore, I'm happy to report, letters are coming in from Arizona and elsewhere asking: What can I do? That's a key question. Although politicians and scientists have extremely important roles to play, and although new laws and more dollars are needed, these aren't the whole answer. Government can't do the job by itself. What ordinary people do or don't do is even more important, particularly since their support is essential to any meaningful crackdowns by our local, state and national governments.

As I traveled around the country I heard many suggestions which I'd like to share with you. I'll follow these with some personal observations.

INDIVIDUAL ACTION - DAILY LIFE

Even if you are not, and don't intend to be, part of the solution you are part ot the problem.

You and I, in our daily lives, can develop habits which can chip away at "the mess." And during our lifetimes we can make personal decisions which can have a great effect on this planet's environment. Here are some of the suggestions which are emerging.
 

* Demand from Detroit 60 instead of 360 horsepower. When you trade cars, buy one which consumes less fuel. Since automobiles are the No. 1 air polluter, start at the top in the cleanup campaign. Instead of spending money for model changes, Detroit ought to be producing more efficient automobiles.
* Since you have to drive some of the time, keep your engine tuned, your anti-pollution equipment operating. (One car dealer in Tucson of-
fers to install equipment on older cars without labor cost). Don't run an engine unnecessarily.
* Walk, ride a bike or use public transportation, if available. Support creation or extension of public transit.
* Since production of power for homes and businesses creates pollution, no matter how well controlled, turn off unnecessary lights and equipment.
* Do your best to conserve on water use. One idea: try adjusting the float valves in your toilets, or place a few bricks in the tanks to take up some of the volume.
* Cut down on the amount of water you use for a bath or shower. (You can squeeze in the same number of bathings with less water, though you may have to cut down on the number of songs rendered.)
* Don't over-water your lawn and plantings. Less frequent waterings that sink into the earth are better than frequent spraying of the surface, causing excessive evaporation.
* If you must use pesticides and/or herbicides, use as little as possible. DDT is particularly harmful to the environment; in fact, it is now banned for agricultural use in Arizona. For a change, try pulling the weeds in your yard instead of using weed killers.
* Don't dispose of pesticides through the sewer system.
* Keep and use a litter bag in your car and keep your yard picked up. If you are an apartment renter, demand that management keep the surroundings clean.
* Use detergents, shampoos, toothpastes, etc., which do the least damage to you and to water supplies. (See just-released report on detergents on next page.)

 
* Use white rather than colored facial tissues. Dyes used in manufacture can contribute to stream pollution.
* Avoid buying products with unnecessary extra packaging which creates both a disposal problem and demands extra tree cutting. Shampoos, for example, shouldn't need an extra outer container.
* Return leaves, lawn clippings, etc. to the soil by developing a compost pile.
* Don't play your own TV, radio, record player or musical instrument amplifier too loud. Noise is a pollutant too.
* If you are in a position of responsibility with a business or an agency, try to deal with suppliers who have an environment conscience.
* Lastly, encourage smaller families. Limit your children to two. If you want more, adopt them.

A STEP FURTHER

Having set your own house in order, you are now ready to start going after others. But bear in mind that the pollution monster has grown among us and was recently unseen except for a few whose counsel over the past decades has largely been ignored. If you are going to convert someone else, it's recommended you try first with a smile and a "please".

Carry your concern into the establishments with which you deal. Tell your grocery store manager you'd appreciate a cleaner parking lot, some natural landscaping, prominent display of quality, natural foodstuffs and returnable bottles. If he's doing a good job, tell him so. (He has bosses too).

Learn the identities of your area's worst polluters. Whether they are private or public institutions, find out the name of the top executive of each and write him a personal letter expressing your strong concern. (Maybe you can do something to help him.)

Make it a point to attend hearings of governmental anti-pollution groups and local governing bodies to educate yourself and to take a stand on the side of pollution abatement.

Good letters to newspapers are published and widely read; try your hand for a better environment.

GROUP ACTION

You may already belong to some group organized for a civic, business, professional or social purpose. Or your own efforts and interest in protecting the environ-

Which Detergents Are Best?

Here is an example of the kind of specific information that will have to be developed in the fight to save our environment -- and the kind of toes that may have to be stepped on.

On May 1st the Federal Water Quality Administration released laboratory findings showing the percentage of phosphates used in a number of brand-name detergents. Phosphorus is a problem because it speeds growth of vegetation when discharged into streams, causes oxygen deficiencies and accelerates the natural aging process of lakes. The lower the percentage, the better for the environment. These are the test results:
 

Type of Material Product Percentage of
Phosphates
Pre-soaks Biz 73.9
Axion 63.2
Laundry Salvo 56.6
Detergents Tide 49.8
Drive 47.4
Oxydol 46.6
Bold 45.4
Cold Water All 45.4
Ajax Laundry 44.6
Cold Power 44.6
Punch 44.2
Dreft 41.9
Gain 39.5
Duz 38.3
Bonus 37.5
Breeze 37.2
Cheer 36.3
Fab 34.8
Wisk (liquid) 14.2
Automatic Dish-  Cascade 54.5
washer Detergents  All 54.0
Calgonite 49.4
Electrosol 34.8

ment may lead you into a group organized expressly to fight pollution. In the latter, concentrate on lending facts and developing strong, responsible stands. In the former, stir interest and persuade your group to undertake specific projects dealing with the environment.

Some suggestions:
 

* Take your group through the local sewage treatment plant and learn if it is top-notch.
* Invite speakers from anti-pollution agencies.
* Probe the adequacy of such things as community waste disposal, planning for open spaces, ordinances for car, truck and motorcycle mufflers.

 
 

 
* Press for billboard and sign control ordinances to bring order from chaos.
* Stage anti-litter drives.
* Find out if your community is taking advantage of all possible federal and state programs. (Larger cities have federal-aid specialists; smaller cities and counties can receive help through the League of Arizona Cities and Towns).
* Put on contests and make awards to progressive business firms.
* If your group is really interested in improving the environment, it ought to take a stand for necessary expenditures, including bond issues. Demand that your air monitoring and enforcement agencies, the water treatment plant, the sanitation department, etc., be adequately staffed, trained and paid.
* As part of the group's education process, talk to developers, utilities, private and university scientists, architects, planners, physicians, recreation specialists, lawyers, and other experts in fields in which you'll necessarily need knowledge.

WHEN THE CHIPS ARE DOWN

If you are really determined to force reform in the way man treats his environment, you have to be prepared for some unpleasant confrontations. They can't always be avoided. No matter what facts you and your groups present, no matter how strong your logic, you will not always be able to win over the opposition. For selfish economic reasons your opposition may elect to fight you -- to foot-drag, threaten or end-run.

Be sure you are right and present your case to the media, civic groups, churches and politicians. You may even end up in court as a plaintiff or even a defendant.

Above all, set yourself for a long struggle. Our oceans, lakes, streams, air, soils and quiet were not spoiled overnight. But, as I pointed out in my recent newsletter on conservation, man is now an endangered species. He changes or he dies.

A PERSONAL NOTE

I'll be 48 in June. My generation has not been too wise in the stewardship entrusted to us. Some of the things we've done are irreversible. Others are not. Those which we can correct, we ought to correct.

"Never before," said President Kennedy, "has man had such capacity to control his own environment. . ." He warned: "We have the power to make this the best

generation of mankind in the history of the world -- or to make it the last."

Though Earth Week was primarily instituted by the younger generation, the battle to save our environment belongs to all of us. There are a few people around who think the cause is hopeless, but I believe we have the political system and the economic system to turn pollution around -- if we will just use the brains and dedication available to us.

"Law and order" has come to have different meanings for different groups. Some "hard liners" in dealing with disorderly students, for example, have become "soft liners" in dealing with polluters. And vice versa. (Ironically, I thought, the young people who came to Washington to protest the invasion of Cambodia left tons of litter in the President's Park, demonstrating a certain inconsistency between their ideals and their practice of them.)

If you live in a small town, it's easy to criticize how "they" do things in the big cities. If you live in the West, it is easy to damn the East. It is a lot harder, though, to deal with the fellow next door, your local employer or your local public officials.

And the toughest test to your resolve comes when your own ox is being gored, your own habit patterns threatened, your recreation criticized, your long-held beliefs and assumptions questioned.

Again I use a quote of Ed Crafts, former director of the Bureau of Outdoor Recreation in the Department of Interior:
 

"The long-term issue is environmental management. But the price runs against our grain. It includes a social ethic for the environment, control of the world's population, willingness to forswear profits, sacrifice certain creature comforts, revise social priorities, and raise sufficient public opinion against principal industrial offenders to compel change."

We are learning fast what we can do. We don't know yet if we will do what we can. I have hope, though, encouraged by a Tucson second grade girl who wrote me:
 

"Please help American stay clean. I pick up trash too. every time when I have a candy and I have the candy wrapper I throw it in the garbeg can. and when my brother throws down his candy wrapper I pick it up and throw it in the garbeg can."

Let's you and I do likewise.


 
The People vs. Pollution
Organizations and resources
that can help you get started

Many persons have written me asking how they can get started in the fight to protect their environment. One way to start is to cooperate with or join one of the national organizations already engaged in the fight.

You may already belong to an organization with strong conservation interests -- such as the League of Women Voters, the American Association of University Women, or the AFL-CIO. Other organizations may be prompted to take a similar interest. Following is a list of some of the leading national conservation groups:
 

Citizens League Against the Sonic Boom
19 Appleton Street
Cowbridge, Massachusetts 02138

The Conservation Foundation
1250 Connecticut Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20036

Friends of the Earth
30 East 42nd Street
New York, N.Y. 10017

International Union for Conservation of 
Nature and Natural Resources
2000 P Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20006

The Izaak Walton League of America
1326 Waukegan Road
Glenview, Illinois 60025

John Muir Institute for Environmental Studies
451 Pacific Avenue
San Francisco, California 94133

National Audubon Society
1130 Fifth Avenue
New York, N.Y. 10028

National Parks Association
1701 18th Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20009

The National Wildlife Federation
1412 16th Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20005

The Nature Conservancy
1522 K Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20005

Planned Parenthood/World Population
515 Madison Avenue
New York, N.Y. 10022

Population Reference Bureau
1755 Massachusetts Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20036

Scientists' Institute for Public Information
30 East 68th Street
New York, N.Y. 10021

The Sierra Club
1050 Mills Tower
San Francisco, California 94104

The Wilderness Society
729 15th Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20005

Zero Population Growth
367 State Street
Los Altos, California 94022

EDUCATING YOURSELF

I couldn't begin to list all the worthwhile materials that are available concerning the environment, pollution, population and related subjects, but becoming informed is the first step in becoming effective. Here are a few items that might be helpful:

Directories

Conservation Directory 1970. Lists organizations, agencies and officials concerned with natural
resource use. Published by the National Wildlife
Federation (see above). $1.50.

State and Regional Conservation Councils. A listing of organizations engaged in environmental planning and conservation in states and regions. Published by The Conservation Foundation (see above). No charge.

Books

Ecotactics. A handbook for conservation activists. Edited by John G. Mitchell with Con-

stance L. Stallings. New York: Pocket Books. 95
cents.

The Population Bomb by Paul Ehrlich. New York: Ballantine Books, 1968. 95 cents.

Readings in Conservation Ecology. Edited by George W. Cox. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1969. $4.95.

Science and Survival by Barry Commoner. New York: Viking, 1966. $4.50.

Magazines

Environment. Published 10 times a year by the Committee for Environmental Information. Subscription $8.50 per year. Circulation Dept.: 438 N. Skinker Blvd., St. Louis, Mo. 63130.

Catalyst (for Environmental Quality). A magazine dedicated to the "new conservation," concerned with the total environment. Accepts limited advertising from responsible firms. Subscription $5 per year. Circulation Dept.: 274 Madison Ave., New York, N.Y. 10016.


Previous Report: November 19, 1969 -- Man: Endangered Species: The Day the Santa Ritas Disappeared
Next Report: July 23, 1970 -- 47 Million Americans Are Missing: Our Really Silent Majority


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