Does this sound familiar: You read the papers. You watch the news. You surf the blogosphere. And with every new bit of eco-reporting, you just keep thinking… This is freakin’ nuts. There’s got to be a better way.
And of course there is. We don’t have to be chained to the toxics treadmill. With a little creativity, we can break the cycle and end our chemical addictions. A brand new study from the Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI) at the University of Massachusetts Lowell shows just how possible it is.
Researchers took five heavy toxicological hitters (lead, formaldehyde, perchloroethylene, hexavalent chromium, and DEHP) and tried to find realistic substitutes for them. They looked at about 100 alternative ideas spread across 16 different applications for which the toxins in question are currently used. For every application they examined, at least one alternative was found that could be employed today with lower impacts in the environment and human health.
Okay, okay… some of the alternatives cost a little more up front. Ain’t it always the way. But over time, the solutions studied are all projected to cost less. Because, you know… it’s just a tad cheaper to not pollute in the first place than it is to clean up a Superfund site or treat a community full of cancer victims. Just a tad.
Here's the point: anytime anyone anywhere says, “It can’t be done,” they don’t know what they’re talking about. I’ve said for a long time that the root problem at the very core of all of our environmental woes is nothing more and nothing less than a failure of human imagination. Too many people in too many places just not dreaming anymore. People seem to have lost the capacity to set their sights on the stars and refuse to take no for an answer. Especially in the industrial sector where the apparent response any most problems is to throw up one’s hands, shrug one’s shoulders, and say there’s really nothing we can do about it. That’s just the way it has to be. Sorry.
It’s time for humanity to drop out of that school of thought. Every problem had an answer. Every issue has a solution. We just have to fasten the safety harnesses, engage our brains, hit the cranial afterburners, and head out into the uncharted territory of creativity and imagination to find out where they’re hiding. The TURI study is living proof. It’s says that fixing the world of eco-hurt we’re in isn’t about making that world a better place as much as it is about making that world a smarter place. Better will automatically follow. It always does when smarter leads the way. So let’s get smart. Isn’t that ultimately the legacy we want to leave to those future generations we keep talking about?