This image represents the air pollution that I never seriously considered as a part of living in Manhattan. While this visible steam is only from New York City’s underground steam system, I see it as a reminder that there are countless other invisible pollutants that compose the air we breath as residents of NYC.
In the vein of air pollution in the city, I now constantly notice the exhaust from idling cars. I was previously unaware of how an idling car emits Nitrogen Oxides, Carbon Monoxide, particulate matter, etc. I now try not to idle vehicles that I’m driving, and if people are standing near an active exhaust pipe, I make an effort to tell them what they’re standing in.
I never realized that for something to be recyclable, it has to be clean and dry. I had been “recycling” food-soiled materials for as long as I can remember, which I now know can ruin a whole bag of recyclables. Recycling is something that I thought I knew before taking this class, so I’m glad that I can now correct my mistakes.
I had no idea what combined sewage overflows (CSOs) were before this class, nor did I realize that New York City relies on this type of waste water disposal during rain or snowfall. This is one of the environmental issues that I know I can have an individual impact on by reducing my water use on rainy days, but also by educating people I know. I am now reminded of CSOs whenever I see rain in the forecast, and I also want to find out how wastewater is handled in my hometown.
I think that it’s important to understand the context you are living in. This awareness could range fro knowing the level of air pollution in your city, to understanding which of your foods are genetically modified. However, grasping this context becomes nearly impossible when companies like DuPont produce poorly-researched chemicals that end up in your cookware as well as your air, water, and food. It is startling how omnipresent a chemical like DuPont’s compound C8 can become in the environment, because I know there are others that have not been revealed yet.