tis the season

Skip the hassle of the malls and stores, and make a charitable donation in lieu of presents.

Researching various charities and companies is a simple way to know every dollar you spend aligns with your belief system.

Websites like Charity Navigator (https://www.charitynavigator.org/) are incredibly valuable when deciding which organization to make a donation. Charity Navigator rates each non profit organization on several criteria. For example some of the categories are financial performance metrics, accountability and transparency, revenue and expenses, as well as compensation of leaders. A copy of their IRS statement can be viewed also.

Here is a list of environmental non profit charities that received a perfect score on Charity Navigator:

Appalachian Voices (appvoices.org)  MISSION: Appalachian Voices brings people together to solve the environmental problems having the greatest impact on the central and southern Appalachian Mountains. Our mission is to empower people to defend our region’s rich natural and cultural heritage by providing them with tools and strategies for successful grassroots campaigns. Because the threats to our mountains do not respect state boundaries or political ideologies, we tackle them by reaching out to a broad spectrum of people from across the region. We believe that success is most likely when a diversity of people are involved and empowered to work together for change, and all our programs are guided by this commitment to build a broad base of public support for environmental protection in the southern mountains.red tapestry

Long-tailed Sylph

Amazon Conservation Association  (http://www.amazonconservation.org/)                  MISSION: Founded in 1999, the Amazon Conservation Association (ACA) works to conserve the biological diversity of the Amazon. We work to protect biodiversity by studying ecosystems and developing innovative conservation tools to protect land in the region while supporting the livelihoods of local communities. We work by forging ties with governments, nonprofits and people who depend on the rainforests for their livelihood, with the goal of saving rare species and habitats and learning from the land. Scientific research guides our approach, which strives for concrete, measurable achievements. ACA has offices in Washington, DC.

The Chattahoochee Riverkeeper (https://chattahoochee.org/)   MISSION:    The Chattahoochee Riverkeeper’s (CRK) works to advocate and secure the protection and stewardship of the Chattahoochee River, its tributaries and watershed, in order to restore and preserve their ecological health for the people, fish and wildlife that depend on the River system. Established in 1994, CRK is an environmental advocacy organization with more than 6,000 members dedicated solely to protecting and restoring the Chattahoochee River Basin – drinking water source for 4 million people. CRK actively uses advocacy, education, research, communication, cooperation, monitoring and legal actions to protect and preserve the Chattahoochee and its watershed.

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Environmental and Energy Study Institute (https://www.eesi.org/) MISSION: EESI is dedicated to promoting environmentally sustainable societies. EESI advances innovative policy solutions that set us on a cleaner, more secure and sustainable energy path. The climate crisis is urgent. The solution is achievable. A healthy climate and a healthy economy go hand-in-hand. Energy prices must reflect their true costs. U.S. leadership is essential. EESI was founded by a bipartisan Congressional caucus in 1984. EESI serves as a trusted source of credible, non-partisan information on energy and environment solutions. Transforming energy infrastructures, transportation systems, land use management practices, and community designs creates new opportunities for American entrepreneurs and creates good jobs.

 

boker on PATH Trail

 

 

The PATH Foundation (https://pathfoundation.org/)  MISSION: Founded in 1991, The PATH Foundation is an organization with a mission to develop a system of interlinking greenway trails through metro Atlanta for commuting and recreating. In just fifteen years, PATH has developed more than 100 miles of trails throughout northern Georgia and has become a nationally recognized model for trail-building success. PATH’s linear parks have become part of the landscape in urban and rural areas, in affluent and impoverished communities. PATH trails are bringing people together from all races, ages, income levels and cultural backgrounds.

Image result for southern environmental law centerThe Southern Environmental Law Center (https://www.southernenvironment.org/) MISSION: The Southern Environmental Law Center uses the power of law and policy to protect the environment in six states: Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. SELC’s attorneys work in all branches and at all levels of government to defend healthy air and clean water; to protect the region’s forests, coasts, wetlands, and other native landscapes; and to promote vibrant and livable communities across the Southeast.

may everyday be your thanksgiving

gracious and green thanksgiving tips for all-year round

  • Change the word order:        Thanksgiving

    Giving thanks

     Switch the order of words around from time to time. Something so simple can make one consider a concept in a different light. Often times a word or phrase loses its meaning and the original purpose gets lost. 

    “The First Thanksgiving 1621” by Karen Rinaldo

  • When you sit down for a meal, look around, light a candle, breathe in the peace of having a roof over your head, safety. Many people in the world could only wish to be so lucky. 
  • Use cloth napkins, real flatware, cups and dishes. Take time to care for these items. This is ecologically friendly and creates a formality in commonplace. Real tableware can be special everyday if you make it special.  I know from experience that many family gatherings opt for plastic disposable utensils, cups and dishes to make things easier. And while, yes, it may be easier to just throw a plastic fork away in the trash, the disposal in reality is not easy. Millions of tons of discarded plastic ends up in the ocean. 
    https://www.motherjones.com/environment/2017/07/are-alternate-utensils-for-take-out-an-envrioment-friendly-option/

    Read more:

MotherJones Article: Impact Analysis of Single Use Plastic Disposable Cutlery  (https://www.motherjones.com/environment/2017/07/are-alternate-utensils-for-take-out-an-envrioment-friendly-option/)

Impact Analysis of Single Use Plastic Disposable Cutlery  (https://commons.pratt.edu/sesresearch/wp-content/uploads/sites/157/2017/12/Aswitha_Kadekar-Capstone_Presentation.pdf)

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http://www.endofthenet.org/archives/10516/life-of-a-plastic-spoon

WE HAVE A LOT OF RESOURCES THAT WE TAKE FOR GRANTED

Read excerpt from Oxford University Press article about Environmental Privilege:

Environmental privilege is a related phenomena, and while it seems to be an understudied area of privilege (and not the only one) it is still important, probably more than we realize. One way I teach about privilege is through the lens of the Person in Environment perspective. Looking at any human being, we can see that their particular personhood—built on their age, gender, race, and wealth status—combines with their environment—a conglomeration of geography, culture, space and time—to create a type of privilege. This privilege reflects itself in a person’s lived experiences, including their experiences of nature’s bounties and burdens.

The best place to begin learning about any privilege is self-examination.

Excerpt from article reflecting on Environmental Privilege from Stanford (https://www.stanforddaily.com/2015/05/06/environmental-justice-lessons-for-the-wilderness-romantic/)

It’s a privilege to be able to travel to national parks, buy organic food or drive an electric car. It’s a privilege to be distanced from the world’s most pressing environmental issues: Rainforest destruction happens on other continents and river cleanups happen in other neighborhoods. It’s a privilege to periodically worry about these issues, rather than confronting them daily. Thanks to various socioeconomic and political forces, it’s a privilege that exists only for a few — namely, members of the developed world’s upper classes.

As with other forms of privilege, environmental privilege comes with some massive blind spots.

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  • Give thanks to the ability to turn on the tap and drink clear, clean water. Water is a finite precious resource.  Image result for israel water shortage advertisement

 

 

 

  • Give thanks to the rainforests the “Lungs of the Earth” Watch a BBC video here: (http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20130226-amazon-lungs-of-the-planet)Although deforestation rates have now declined – hitting an all time low in 2011 – the forest is still gradually disappearing, reducing the region’s scale and biodiversity.But this felling also has an impact on the planet as a whole because the forest also plays a critical role in cleaning the air we breathe.

    It does this by sucking up the global emissions of carbon dioxide from things like cars, planes and power stations to name just a few.

    Without this “carbon sink” the world’s ability to lock up carbon will be reduced, compounding the effects of global warming.

 

 

 

 

 

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Should the United States sign the COP 21 Accord de Paris?

COP 21 Paris Agreement or Accord de Paris

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Climate change is an issue that will have detrimental effects on the planet’s ecosystems. Much debate exists surrounding how to address it, assess it, and what to do about it.  The Paris Agreement is a well intentioned attempt to address climate change but will ultimately fail to accomplish its goals and the United States should look to other ways to reduce CO2 emissions. The Paris Agreement is an international agreement to address climate change. Its goals to “is to hold the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels (EU Commission, 2015).”  It has been signed by 194 countries and the European Union, although the United States has decided to withdraw from the agreement as soon as it can do so, in 2019 (Restuccia, 2017). When assessing whether to sign the Paris Agreement, countries must evaluate how effective it will be at controlling climate change.  There is ample evidence that the agreement does not go far enough, is not fair to all signatories,  and perhaps does not take all climatic factors into account.

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The consolidated promises of the Paris accord do not provide an adequate mitigation of warming and reduction in emissions. Journalist, Gebru Jember Endalew wrote scientists estimate that “full implementation of current pledges would still put the world on track for 3.5° degrees of warming by the end of the century (Endalew, 2017).” “As long as fossil fuels appear to be the cheapest fuels out there, they will be continued to be burned,” James Hansen, NASA scientist who discovered climate change, with not much faith in the Paris Agreement, also stated that the accord “is pointless unless greenhouse gas emissions are taxed across the board (Milman, 2015).” The policy will not be effective unless there is a direct consequence for those not in compliance. Achievement of the emissions goals, begins with unified plans for implementation “to be strengthened over time, both in ambition and scope (Rogelj, J. et al., 2016).”

“Understanding how fairness conceptions vary between countries – and what background variables explain this variation – is crucial for understanding the negotiation process and outcomes, and for identifying which institutional arrangements are universally acceptable (Tørstad, 2018).Defining how countries are compared and which factors should be considered in determining the terms and goals of the Paris Agreement is still complicated. Statistics such as GDP, agriculture, globalization, energy resources are used to assess its development level and would also be included in determining expectations and/or subsequent contributions for said country. This would be considered a commensurability problem described in the reading Assessing the Risks of Technology, by Evan and Manion, disparate costs and benefits cannot be compared with one another (Evan, 2002).

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Aside from the negative consequences of industrial greenhouse gas and CO2 emissions, it is possible that other factors may contribute to climate change. In the film, Six Degrees Could Change the World, the narrator stated that: “Six thousand years ago, much of the American West was part of a vast desert dominating the continent. A minor shift in the earth’s orbit caused the summer sun to warm slightly, just enough to radically transform this entire region (Lyna, 2007).”  When variables outside of human control are projected into the uncertainty of scientific predictions, a convoluted debate is opened about probability, catastrophe, and the nature of reality. This unfortunately, creates a lack of confidence in climate change policy and also deflects responsibility from the emissions industries.

In conclusion, the politics of climate change are complicated and divisive. The Paris Agreement does not implement enough to meet the goals of reducing emissions nor does it factor in the numerous variations between governments when addressing fairness in policy, and finally the cause of climate change is still open to variables of uncertainty. The United States should invest in alternative solutions and research in regards to climate change and emissions reduction.

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The Paris Agreement – United Nations Treaty Collection:   https://treaties.un.org/pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=XXVII-7-d&chapter=27&clang=_en

European Commission: https://ec.europa.eu/clima/policies/international/negotiations/paris_en

Endalew, G.J. (2017). Least Developed Countries, Addressing our climate reality. D+C Development and Cooperation https://www.dandc.eu/en/article/least-developed-countries-demand-robust-rulebook-implement-paris-agreement-and-call-adequate

Evan, W. and Manion, M. (2002) Assessing the Risks of Technology, excerpted from Hoepfl, M. and Raichle, B. Dubuque. Starting the Dialogue: Perspectives on Technology and Society (2009).  

Lyna, M. (2007). Six degrees could change the world [Video file]. National Geographic      Production.

Milman, O. (2015). James Hansen, father of climate change awareness, calls Paris talks ‘a fraud.’ The Guardian https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/dec/12/james-hansen-climate-change-paris-talks-fraud

Restuccia, A. (2017). Trump administration delivers notice U.S. intends to withdraw from Paris climate deal. Politico. https://www.politico.com/story/2017/08/04/trump-notice-withdraw-from-paris-climate-deal-241331

Rogelj, J. et al. (2016). Paris Agreement climate proposals need a boost to keep warming well below 2 °C. Nature volume 534, pages 631–639. https://www.nature.com/articles/nature18307

Tørstad, V. & Sælen, H. (2018). Fairness in the climate negotiations: what explains variation in parties’ expressed conceptions? Journal Climate Policy Volume 18, 2018 – Issue 5: Including Special Thematic Section: Public Perception and Support for Climate Policies. Pages 642-654. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14693062.2017.1341372?needAccess=true&journalCode=tcpo20

 

 

 

 

 

the most of things

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Most of things are hidden from us.

Just flip a switch and the room is no longer dark. Haul the trash can out to the curb and it disappears on Thursdays. Buy a $8 bag of peeled shrimp, a throw pillow with a series of triangles printed on it or trendy jacket for $15.  How are things so inexpensive? So disposable? Target. Walmart. Dollar tree. Kroger. Made in China. Made in Mexico. Made in Pakistan. Made in Indonesia. These places are hidden from us, the people who craft these items are hidden from us. The conditions for their labor, freedoms, environment, and pay are hidden from us.

These “other” places and people do not really exist or matter because they exist on the other side of the veil.  The veil is an enchantment – a  distraction created by the most fantastical marketing. It numbs our guilt, exploits insecurities, feeds our narcissism, and keeps us complacent and exhausted by its whirlwind promises of some static end goal as the prize.

But the veil is wearing down – thinner and thinner.  This is the information age. This is the internet age. Nothing can hide. No one can be hidden.


From the BBC article:

The SOS in my Halloween Decorations

(https://www.bbc.com/news/stories-45976946)

Inside a notorious Chinese labour camp, a dissident smuggled an SOS letter into the Halloween decorations he was forced to manufacture. Years later, a woman in the US opened a box of fake tombstones and found his note. It seemed impossible at that moment that they would ever meet.

She’d picked it up for $29.99 from the supermarket chain, Kmart, a couple of years before that. It contained polystyrene headstones, fake skulls and bones, black spiders and a cloth drenched in imitation blood. […]she opened the box in her living room, a sheet of lined paper fell out.

On it was a message, neatly hand-written in blue ink.

“Sir,” it began. “If you occassionally buy this product, please kindly send this letter to the World Human Right Organization. Thousands people here who are under the persicution of the Chinese Communist Party Government will thank and remember you forever.”  Julie read on. The note said that the graveyard kit had been produced in unit eight, department two of Masanjia labour camp in Shenyang, China. Inmates there had to work there for 15 hours a day seven days a week: “Otherwise, they will suffer torturement, beat and rude remark. Nearly no payment (10 yuan/1 month).” Today 10 yuan is roughly equivalent to £1.10 or US$1.44.

Prisoners were detained on average for one to three years without a formal court sentence, the note continued. Some of them belonged to the spiritual movement Falun Gong. “They often suffer more punishment than others,” the note said.

You can listen to the interview on Outlook on the BBC World Service here


Excerpt from https://cladwell.com/blog/arentsweatshopsgoodforthirdworldcountries

What type of person do you want to be in your 80-or-so years on this earth?”

To Karl-Johan Persson, CEO of H&M: Do you want to be a man who allows his company to continue to do things like kill 21 Bangladeshi sweatshop workers, and who has “plausible deniability” when it comes to child labor?

To Edward Lampert, CEO of Sears Holdings: Do you want to be a man who allows his company to lock fire exit doors and force workers back to their desk when the fire alarm went off, killing 117 people and injuring over 200?

To Ashley Brooke, YouTuber: Do you want to be a person who gets views out of “hauling” piles of clothes made by kids, promoting a consumption pattern in our society that will make the problem even worse?


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Energy is another hidden “other”.

Williams Cos Inc resubmitted a water permit application with New York environmental regulators for the company’s proposed $1 billion Northeast Supply Enhancement natural gas pipeline project from Pennsylvania to New York.

(https://www.reuters.com/article/us-williams-northeast-supply-natgas/williams-resubmits-northeast-supply-natgas-pipeline-permit-with-n-y-idUSKCN1II1YR)

 

Deep layers of underground coal are all but gone in West Virginia after 200 years of relentless mining, leaving thinner seams of coal on top of the state’s beautiful mountains. But surface mining carries a huge cost: nothing less than mountains themselves. […] the Appalachian landscape is being fundamentally and irrevocably changed.

(https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/mountaintop-mining-affects-life-landscape-west-virginia)

 

 

Interactive map of coal mines in West Virginia (https://www.americangeosciences.org/critical-issues/maps/interactive-map-coal-mines-west-virginia)

Can anyone person or agency be responsible ?

Yo! We got this! CO2 removal

Big science is advocating carbon dioxide removal in an effort to combat climate change. The average everyday Jo can help remove CO2 emissions for a healthier land and people.

(I am being conscientious not to say planet or environment or earth. I think some concepts are either too big or have connotations that folks just don’t relate with.)

See here⇓

The Environment  (excerpt from https://www.soas.ac.uk/cedep-demos/000_P500_ESM_K3736-Demo/unit1/page_08.htm)

The term ‘environment’ is widely used and has a broad range of definitions, meanings and interpretations. What does the term ‘environment’ mean? In popular usage, for some people, the term ‘environment’ means, simply, ‘nature’: in other words, the natural landscape together with all of its non-human features, characteristics and processes. To those people, the environment is often closely related to notions of wilderness and of pristine landscapes that have not been influenced – or, at least, that have been imperceptibly influenced – by human activities. However, for other people, the term ‘environment’ includes human elements to some extent. Many people would regard agricultural and pastoral landscapes as being part of the environment, whilst others are yet more inclusive and regard all elements of the earth’s surface – including urban areas – as constituting the environment. Thus, in popular usage, the notion of the ‘environment’ is associated with diverse images and is bound up with various assumptions and beliefs that are often unspoken – yet may be strongly held. All of these usages, however, have a central underlying assumption: that the ‘environment’ exists in some kind of relation to humans. Hence the environment is, variously, the ‘backdrop’ to the unfolding narrative of human history, the habitats and resources that humans exploit, the ‘hinterland’ that surrounds human settlements, or the ‘wilderness’ that humans have not yet domesticated or dominated.


Ok so terminology aside, here is how you do it:

Excerpt from BBC Climate change: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and others have all stated that extracting CO2 from the air will be needed if we are to bend the rising temperature curve before the end of this century. […] the US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine says that some of these “negative emissions technologies” are ready to be deployed, on a large scale, right now.

Five cheap ways to remove CO2 from the atmosphere (https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-45967215)

  1. PRESERVE THE WETLANDS : The National Academies study says that by creating new wetlands and restoring and protecting these fringe areas, there is the potential to more than double the current rate of carbon extracted from the atmosphere. 

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    https://www.chesapeakebay.net/issues/wetlands
  2. PLANT A TREE: Global deforestation has been a significant factor in driving up emissions of carbon, so researchers feel that planting new trees or restoring lost areas is a simple and cheap technology that could be expanding right now. 
  3. MAINTAIN EXISTING FORESTS: As well as planting more trees, the report says that we need to manage our existing forests in a better way to remove more carbon. Techniques can include the speedy re-stocking of forests after disturbances like fires […] extending the age of the forest when you harvest […] extend the amount of timber that goes into long-lived wooden products and limiting the amount that gets burned as biomass in power stations.
  4. FARMING TECHNIQUES: some simple changes in the way farmers manage their land can be a cheap and effective way of removing carbon from the air. Basically planting crops in between seasons. It helps with soil too. 
  5. Biomass energy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS): The idea of BECCS is to grow energy crops that soak up carbon, which are then burned to create electricity while the emitted CO2 gas is captured and buried permanently underground.Everyday Jo probably doesn’t have access to this however be vocal to your government representatives.

 


Related Articles

 By Akshat Rathi: Silicon Valley is starting to work on a “Plan B” to fight climate change  (https://qz.com/1435452/y-combinator-wants-startups-that-remove-carbon-dioxide-from-the-air/)

Associated Press article: https://www.apnews.com/44e5cbe99231497593e5b6e0e310d33c


CUTE CREATURES THAT ARE NOT HUMAN:

https://www.foxnews.com/science/pea-sized-baby-octopuses-in-hawaii-floating-trash 

Two tiny octopuses were discovered floating on trash off the coast of Hawaii in August.

Two tiny octopuses were discovered floating on trash off the coast of Hawaii in August. (Ashley Pugh/National Park Service)


Donate or volunteer for wetlands through:

the scariest part about Halloween is how close it is to Christmas

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November first, before you can sober up and wipe the Halloween makeup off your eyes, the Christmas season has begun. But I am telling you now. Telling you so you can see behind the curtain, see the holly waiting in the wings behind the fog machine and the pumpkins and scarecrows. I am telling you so you can hold onto a thread of our own will and consciousness. I am telling you now before growling at strangers and maxing out your credit whilst carol of the bells intensifies at the most hurried tempo on electric violins.

before it is too late.

 

There are a lot of factors connected to environmental issues and mass consumption. First, the manufacturing of cheap, toxic, unnecessaries that we will ultimately fill the trash bin and land fills. “Overconsumption is really the mother of all our environmental problems,” says Kalle Lasn, publisher and editor of the foundation’s Adbusters magazine. “We are robbing future generations of their livelihood because of our excess consumption today. 
(https://www.pbs.org/kcts/affluenza/show/adbusters.html)

 

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from Scientific America:

Shop Till We Drop: Does Consumption Culture Contribute to Environmental Degradation?

William Rees of the University of British Columbia reports that human society is in a “global overshoot,” consuming 30 percent more material than is sustainable from the world’s resources. He adds that 85 countries are exceeding their domestic “bio-capacities” and compensate for their lack of local material by depleting the stocks of other countries.

Of course, every one of us can do our part by limiting our purchases to only what we need and to make responsible choices when we do buy something. But those who might need a little inspiration to get started should look to the Adbusters Media Foundation, a self-described “global network of artists, activists, writers, pranksters, students, educators and entrepreneurs who want to advance the new social activist movement of the information age.”

Among the foundation’s most successful campaigns is Buy Nothing Day, an international day of protest typically “celebrated” the Friday after Thanksgiving in North America (so-called Black Friday, one of the year’s busiest shopping days) and the following Saturday in some 60 other countries. The idea is that for one day a year we commit to not purchase anything, and to help spread the anti-consumerist message to anyone who will listen, with the hope of inspiring people to consume less and generate less waste the other 364 days of the year. The first Buy Nothing Day took place in Vancouver, British Columbia in 1992 with a few dozen participants, but today hundreds of thousands of people all over the world take part.

(Above excerpted from: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/our-destructive-consumer/)

 

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[…]the plastic in these [plastic gift] cards is mostly Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC).

PVC isn’t the most environmentally friendly plastic, either in its manufacture or as a final product. The way that PVC breaks down is through granulation, so the pieces just become smaller; which can cause problems for creatures that may ingest the pieces.

It may seem like a trifling issue, but according to the Sierra Club, six billion of these plastic cards are produced each year around the world. I’ve read other figures putting it at a staggering 17 billion when gift cards, cell phone top up and other cards are also incorporated into the figures.

Aside from PVC generally being non-recyclable; in some cases you certainly wouldn’t want to be putting cards into a recycling bin without at least attacking them with a pair of scissors first; particularly in the case of cards with information encoded on a magnetic strip on the back.

So, there’s certainly a problem here – the cards need to be durable; but usually only for a few years. Yet we have a product that will be around for many years more than it will be used.

(Excerpted from: https://www.greenlivingtips.com/articles/greening-plastic-cards.html)

Shoppers will buy nearly $30 billion in gift cards this holiday season, spending an average of about $163 on the items, a 4% increase from last year, according to an annual survey sponsored by the National Retail Federation.

(from http://articles.latimes.com/2013/dec/22/business/la-fi-gift-card-pollution-20131223)

Gift cards are surprisingly complex in their makeup, so it can be difficult to recycle them properly and safely. They are made with one of the most toxic plastics out there and cannot go in your recycling bin.
Fight the instinct to take the easy route and throw them in the trash. 
Instead make plastic pocket cutlery as seen here
Or a gift card iphone stand as seen here:
iPhoneStand1.jpg
https://makezine.com/2009/03/22/credit-card-iphone-stand/
iPhoneStand2.jpg
iPhoneStand3.jpg
Or make gift card guitar picks, HERE
https://craftingagreenworld.com/articles/how-to-diy-guitar-picks/

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https://cladwell.com/blog/arentsweatshopsgoodforthirdworldcountries

What kind of People do we want to be?

Bit O’ inspiration: Paul Hawken and a random list to keep in your mind

Here is an incredibly inspiring speech by Paul Hawken. This speech actually changed my life in 2004 as I listened to it on public broadcasting. It was from Bioneers conference which was a movement that connected engineers, business men and social activists together for the sake of environmental change in the face of corporate America. Bioneers started before and perhaps inspired the now famous TED talks.

 

I recommend the book: Blessed Unrest by Paul Hawken. The book is about the grassroots movement for social and environmental justice that has bloomed into something much larger. I read Blessed Unrest in 2009, and  think it would be interesting to go and reread it almost 10 years later. We have come a long way. This is apparent when you go into a grocery store and more local items, organic, and sustainably packaged items are available and at relatively low cost. In 2009, there were not so many choices on the mainstream. I remember searching health food stores for particular items.

I have not read any of his other books yet but Hawken is an incredible thinker. He is a business man with a conscious. His interviews, ideas and his speeches evoke hope and inspiration. He points out the good and speaks freely about corruption and demands new ways.  If you play this video for people, they will nod and say yes.

Paul Hawken on One Hundred Solutions to the Climate Crisis (https://e360.yale.edu/features/paul-hawken-on-one-hundred-solutions-to-the-climate-crisis)

Interview on Global Oneness Project (https://www.globalonenessproject.org/people/paul-hawken)

 


A random list of items to keep in your mind:

    1.  Cut up old ripped up and stained t-shirts and towels to use as cleaning rags – stop using paper towels
    2. Shop at thrift stores for clothes and shoes – buy a whole new wardrobe for a fraction of the price and without the production wasteand most used items are in almost new condition
    3. Shop at thrift stores, craigslist, and – or antique shops for furniture
    4. Consider biodegradable trash bags – they cost a bit more than plastic ones but this may make you more mindful of what you toss in them – this is like Chris Rock’s bit about raising the price of bullets as a means for gun control policy
    5.  Reduce trash and methane by composting scrap foods, tea bags, coffee filters
    6.  Use a reusable lunch box or bag and reusable snack containers inside your lunch bag as well a reusable beverage container
    7. Install a solar heating clothes dryer – by installing a rope from one end of your yard to another and pinning your clothes on it

Hallig Hooge, Germany, view from the Backenswarft.jpg
By Michael Gäbler, CC BY 3.0, Link

8 Ways to go Zero Waste brought to you by Martha Stewart (https://www.marthastewart.com/1520747/8-ways-zero-waste-home?slide=4082201)

In this crafty slide show, Martha Stewart (or one of her staff writers) offers suggestions for even the preppiest of hippies to cut back on disposables

  • Replace disposable kitchen sponges with a eco friendly scrubber brush that can be washed in the dishwasher from time to time to kill any germs
  • Instead of paper towels, she recommends something called a Swedish dish towel? I like the idea – the photo they present is a beautiful towel –  but t-shirt rags will work just as well to clean up a spill.
  • The interesting bit here is this swapping of disposable plastic toothbrushes for a bamboo handled castor bean bristled toothbrush. This is clever indeed. But a bit pricey ($20 for 4) and I like an extra soft bristle myself so I think I would hesitate before buying these (online at least – I would have to feel the softness of the bristles in person). The whole toothbrush can be composted which is impressive to say the least.
  • Another clever swap out is from bottled shampoos to bar shampoo. This one is fabulous – washing your hair with a bar of soap feels so rebellious in a silly, empowering, juvenile kind of way.  The Martha article advertises for Lush shampoo bars which smell really good but there are so many options on the market now. Shampoo bars really reduce a large amount of plastic waste, are incredibly economical, last longer than bottle shampoo and the look of the bath is so streamlined now.

 

In conclusion, the journey must begin with one small step. It is the repetition of the steps again and again that propel you forward.

thank you

 

 

PIECE OF CAKE: easy food-related plastic reductions

5 ways to reduce the daily plastic:

  1. Don’t eat out – or if you do, make it a special, sit-down occasion at least. Avoid places that use disposable tableware and packaging.
  2. Pack your own breakfast and lunch. When you are out and about, the more you are able to control your meals and packaging choices, the more you will be able to cut back on unnecessary disposables. You will also save money. When packing your meal, choose:
    • utensils that can be washed and reused over and over again
    • food containers that can be washed and reused again
    • cloth napkins that can be machine washed
    • reusable beeswax food storage wraps for sandwiches or bowl lids (https://smile.amazon.com/Bees-Wrap-Assorted-Sustainable-Honeycomb/)
    • a lunch box or bag that can be used over and over again
    • a drink bottle, canteen, or even a cup
  3. When ordering take out food online, make a note in the special instructions section requesting, “No plastic utensils or sauce packets necessary” (or tell them on the phone if online ordering is not an option).. this saves a huge amount of wasted single use plastic
  4.  When eating out at a restaurant or cafe, bring your own lidded container from home to use as a doggie bag or “to go” box. Keep a stash of clean containers and lids (tupperware, gladware, glassware, etc.) in the trunk of your car, in your bag or desk drawer, ready for when ever that eating out day spontaneously arrives. Usually, restaurants supply boxes when you cannot finish all of your food and you would like to take the leftovers  home. However, more often than not, the container they provide is a kind of crazy toxic super-plastic, it is polystyrene or styrofoam. Styrofoam is non-biodegradable and floats. Large amounts of polystyrene have accumulated along coastlines and waterways around the world. It is considered a main component of marine debris. (https://green-mom.com/styrofoam-bad-environment/)
  5. When grocery shopping:
    • Also bring and use your own cloth bags when you are doing your big grocery shopping. For a smaller trip, have a handy bag that can be folded really neat and small in your pocket or purse. Or if the purchase is just a single item or two – tell the cashier, “No sack, please”
    • And if you are shopping and go to check out, only to realize you have forgotten your cloth bags, do not stress – you have two choices here: ask for paper bags or buy a few reusable bags if that is an option. Now most groceries are selling reusable totes next to the register that advertise the logo of their store for around one dollar.
    • instead of wasting plastic to bag your produce, try reusable cloth produce bags (https://smile.amazon.com/Biodegradable-Recyclable-Packaging-Double-Stitched-Small-Medium-Large/)
    • or reuse your plastic produce bags – simply save the plastic bags by folding them neatly after you have unloaded your produce into appropriate bowls and containments, and store them inside of your cloth grocery bags and take them with you next time you go to the grocery


 

Scientists have created a mutant enzyme that breaks down plastic drinks bottles – by accident.

The mutant enzyme takes a few days to start breaking down the plastic – far faster than the centuries it takes in the oceans. 

“What we are hoping to do is use this enzyme to turn this plastic back into its original components, so we can literally recycle it back to plastic,” said McGeehan. “It means we won’t need to dig up any more oil and, fundamentally, it should reduce the amount of plastic in the environment.”

About 1m plastic bottles are sold each minute around the globe and, with just 14% recycled, many end up in the oceans where they have polluted even the remotest parts, harming marine life and potentially people who eat seafood. “It is incredibly resistant to degradation. Some of those images are horrific,” said McGeehan. “It is one of these wonder materials that has been made a little bit too well.”

(Excerpt from https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/apr/16/scientists-accidentally-create-mutant-enzyme-that-eats-plastic-bottles)


Contact scientists and universities for ways to contribute and make donations for further research:

University of Portsmouth, UK. School of Biological Sciences

  • Professor John McGeehan, BSc, PhD. Professor of Structural Biology/ Co-Director- Institute of Biomedical & Biomolecular Science
  • Email: John.McGeehan@port.ac.uk
  • Telephone: 023 9284 2042
  • http://www2.port.ac.uk/school-of-biological-sciences/outreach-and-liaison/

Keio University, Tokyo, Japan. Department of Biosciences and Informatics

POWER DOWN: literally the easiest thing you can do to consume less energy

Don’t be fooled by the hype. Natural gas is a dirtier fuel than coal,  says Mark Ruffalo. Sure natural gas burns less carbon dioxide than coal however it burns significant amounts of methane gas which is far worse 

After I watched his 2016 documentary Dirty Fuel-Clean Energy: The Choice is Now” AKA/formerly: Dear President Obama, The Clean Energy Revolution Is Now I was alarmed at the rapid environmental destruction and human health crisis as a result from natural gas industry’s shale oil extraction known as fracking. The disturbing part is the concept of federal mineral rights. Landowners are forced to deal with invasive fracking well operations on their property. Water becomes contaminated as toxic run-off that was contained inside of the shale is released by the explosive extraction process.  Another side effect is earth quakes.

Landowners cannot say no to fracking rigs. This was the repeated message over and over again in the film. Federal law permits the leasing of privately owned land for its mineral reserves to oil extraction corporations.  If there were stronger property rights in place, federal government oil companies would not have the loophole to extract natural gas from any place with mineral shale. It’s a system of federal law over personal property rights. This needs to be challenged. But currently the mineral rights are given to these giant oil extraction rigs for the pursuit of natural gas.

At this point, with the data and the science, the big oil companies drilling and extracting must be accountable for the damage done to millions of people and the environment. Furthermore, the federal government must stop looking for profit and start taking responsibility for the destruction caused by leasing the mineral rights out to big oil.

Our country is 85% dependent on fossil fuels. Radical change in energy systems is neededIf we hadn’t discovered fracked natural gas, the effort to deal with climate change would have moved us far more quickly into renewables.

Advocate the willpower to restrain consumption.


WHAT CAN I DO TO SAVE ENERGY?

Harvard’s Top 5 Steps to Reduce Your Energy Consumption

Understanding Phantom/Vampire PowerImage result for vampire

INVEST IN POWERSTRIPS AND SURGE PROTECTORS  

Use a power strip to reduce your plug load 

to turn all devices off at once. Flipping the switch on your power strip has the same effect as unplugging each socket from the wall, preventing phantom energy loss. 

Devices like televisions, microwaves, scanners, and printers use standby power, even when off. Some chargers continue to pull small amounts of energy, even when plugged in (a good judge of this is if a charger feels warm to the touch). In the US, the total electricity consumed by idle electronics equals the annual output of 12 power plants (EPA).Image result for surge protector

Shutdown your computer – the biggest energy users in office buildings. Turn your monitor off at night and ditch the screensaver. Today’s computers can be turned on and off over 40,000 times. Opting to shut down over using a screensaver does not affect your computer’s lifespan. (EnergyStar). So power down!


Turn Off the Lights….       Just one switch and you’re done!  

Image result for most energy efficient light bulb Image result for most energy efficient light bulb

LED bulbs are the most energy efficient lighting option. LED bulbs use 75% less electricity than incandescent bulbs (Energy Star) – contain no mercury, and last about 25 times longer than traditional incandescent bulbs (DoE).

 

 

Energy-saving links:

Knowledge is Power:

Image result for browns last chance campaignImage result for browns last chance campaign

TRASH TALKING

The purpose of this blog is to provide creative solutions
to the crisis of waste management - G A R BA GE - 
This is a RECOGNITION of RESPONSIBILITY 
with the ultimate goal of living without waste.

Often the concept of trash collection and removal – throwing things away and recycling –  are assumed rights and taken for granted. This is particularly the case in larger municipalities such as cities and suburbs. *Less densely populated rural areas tend to not have the same public utility services and must handle their own trash removal. 

The first step needs to be self-reflection. 

One must carry the burden of her/his own impact.

Imagine some alternate reality where each person must carry every single bit of trash that they have ever produced… Picture every plastic straw, straw wrapper, ketchup packet, piece of paper, cardboard package, individual wrapping from a granola bar, every ticket stub, toothbrush, red plastic cup, etc… a snowball effect expanding and dragging like a chain behind every person for their whole life. 

We are lucky for that to not be the case. 


Growing up in the United States, I have never considered or questioned receiving a handful of ketchup packets with my fast food order. It wasn’t until I was in an airport, in a foreign country, and in haste and jet lag, ordered from my recognized home country fast food establishment. I received my tray with fries and asked the server for some ketchup and she rang it up on the register. And I stood there for a moment, thinking maybe she misunderstood the request. I was shocked to have to pay. She explained the matter of waste and production cost. 

That odd moment, handing over some change for a packet of ketchup, I realized certain societal concepts of entitlement that never occurred to me until I was outside the United States. 


The intention of this blog is to not ensue guilt…“No good has ever come from feeling guilty, neither intelligence, policy, nor compassion. The guilty do not pay attention to the object but only to themselves, and not even to their own interests, which might make sense, but to their anxieties.”  Paul Goodman

Nor is it to make anyone feel depressed or doomed.

The purpose of this blog is to provide creative solutions, innovations, and simply inspire the consciousness about how our personal choices affect our natural world. 


I was inspired to write this blog after reading this TED article:

  What plastic item would you love to ban?

I see the whole public conversation around plastic straws as a shot of morphine into our collective veins to avoid facing what actually matters.The production and consumption of the following items — and all of the fuel, raw materials and pollution they entail — continues to rise, unabated, in the world: computers, phones, tablets, servers and server farms; military weapons; container ships and shipping facilities, commercial airliners, cruise ships, helicopters, pleasure boats, jet skis, lawnmowers, leaf blowers, motorcycles, cars and trucks, refrigerators, washers and dryers, air conditioners, televisions, condominiums, housing developments, apartment and office buildings, shopping malls, paved roads/highways, dams, and power plants. Together, these represent a colossal crisis of environmental degradation and climate destruction that has all but dropped off the collective radar.

At the same time, we’re also witnessing the continuing global decimation of ocean creatures for food. Leading marine scientists predict that at current harvest rates, most fish populations will be commercially extinct within our lifetimes. Anyone who cares about ocean creatures can stop eating them as a first step; yet despite how obvious that is, only a tiny percentage of people are doing that.

So, my proposed ban is: this conversation. Let’s quit pretending that plastic straws even make the list of the top 1,000 problems we should be discussing, and perhaps we can begin to summon the courage to take a deeper look at our culture — and ourselves.
— Chris Jordan (TED talk: Turning powerful stats into art)