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Diving into the Drink


I’ve been sorely tempted to print bumper stickers that say, “If you don’t need it, it isn’t green.” There’s just one problem: No one needs a bumper sticker. My little ploy is self-defeating. But I hope you get the point.

There is a lot of green-washing in the advertising for, and marketing of, every product under the sun. When it comes to the Three Rs of environmentally friendly living—reduce, re-use, recycle—we’re much better at recycling and re-using than we are at reducing. We get sucked in by the hype. We buy because a thing is marketed as green, whether we need it or not. “Look, honey, these cabinets are made without formaldehyde. Let’s re-do the kitchen.”

A couple years ago we dedicated the entire April issue to all things green in honor of Earth Day, partly to get everyone thinking about our environment, partly as an exercise in learning to distinguish the hype from sincere efforts at living more efficiently and healthfully. We learned a lot.

We recycle and re-use our drinking water all the time, hence this month’s profile of Sherri Evans-Stanton by writer Josephine Eccel. (See “To Conserve and Protect,” page 17.) As you’ll read, Sherri directs the Brandywine Conservancy’s Environmental Management Center, which works to protect the quality of Brandywine Creek. Because the creek is the largest supply of drinking water in northern New Castle County, Sherri is on the front line of one of our biggest environmental concerns. It’s perhaps ironic that we give it so little thought.

As we all saw while watching news coverage of the earthquake in Haiti, humans can survive days and days without food. Without water, we perish in hours. Without clean water, we subject ourselves to health problems caused by heavy metals and the poisonous by-products of basic manufacturing processes, as well as damage to the food supply via the bio-accumulation of hazardous chemicals in fish. Our food is further affected by the destruction of aquatic habitat, which inhibits spawning.

One of the best things we can do is reduce our water use. We can install low-volume shower heads and toilets (an investment that does pay off, even when our current toilets are still in good shape). But we can also do little things: wash the car or doing laundry less frequently, turn off the tap while brushing our teeth and lathering up in the shower. With so many of us using the Brandywine, other waterways and groundwater supplies every day, those small savings add up. We’ll all be better off for them in the end.

Mark’s Day Book
  • Lunch with wealth manager Fred Dawson at Feby’s Fishery was most enlightening. You may know Fred better as leader of the band Club Phred. Check them out at any of the local fundraisers they play to help local charities. Rockin’ with a conscience—cool.
  • You’ll never hear me say I dislike snow, because nothing could be further from the truth, but what didn’t the blizzards of February affect? The office was closed for two days (thank the heavens for laptops and wireless Internet access), my wife was stranded on the West Coast because the Philly airport was closed, and I missed the Leukemia Research Foundation fundraising gala and a couple of old friends. Enough already. Welcome to spring.
  • I’m thinking back to a conversation weeks ago at Pizza by Elizabeths with my old friend Ted Spiker, a former editor of this magazine who’s better known as the writer of Dr. Mehmet Oz’s best-selling health books. A professor of journalism at the University of Florida, he’s very into new media. He: “You should be tweeting .” I: “Pshaw.” He: “Really.” So I’m tweeting (when it occurs to me to do so). Check Twitter. Hit me back.
  • Peace to the Ray People, who gather at the Deer Park every January and July to honor the birthday and passing of our friend, former teacher extraordinaire Ray Cummings: good friends such as Tom Harris, Chip Harris, Steve Carroll and Bryan Abrams, and friend-educators Tom Sabatino, Dorothy Linn, Meghan Linn, Debbie Dorris, Meb Carroll, Kathy Gillespie and others. If you’ve ever doubted that teachers are special people, you should meet these folks. Thanks to Ray for bringing everyone together.

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