The issue of excess, non-biodegradable plastic has reached a crisis point in our oceans and landfills. Check out this article for 8 easy, simple things you can do – starting today – that will have a big impact over time in reducing the amount of plastic burdening the earth.
(From Food Mill)
In celebration or Earth Day, here’s 7 easy ways to celebrate your mother (Earth, that is):
- Avoid plastics. Water bottles, straws, and plastic cutlery may contain toxins. They are also harmful to the environment when they are not properly re-used or recycled. Click here for avoidance tips and plastic-substitution options.
- Plant a garden. Save money, and eat healthy by growing your own food. For the best growth, consider companion planting.This strategy involves placing two or more plants next to each other that will benefit each other. Learn more here.
- Eco-Construction. If you’re building a new kitchen or remodeling an old one, embrace green living techniques to make the room more sustainable and energy efficient. Check outthese tips.
- Natural Spring Cleaning. Consider cleaning with safe and all-natural supplies or productsto avoid harsh chemicals. If you are trying to save, make your own organic cooking spray.
- Do It Yourself! There are many home products that can be made from simple kitchen ingredients. If you are looking to go all-natural, try making your own deodorant or facial masks.
- Green Groceries. Buy organic, non-GMO, or fair trade for products that are healthy and made sustainably. Create budgeting strategies, or learn more about product labeling before your next trip to the store.
- Go Outside! Spring has finally sprung, and it’s time to explore the outdoors. Have a picnic, or play sports with friends or family. Make sure to stay hydrated, and avoid insect bites or ticks.
So you live a green lifestyle all year long. You recycle, you minimize your impact by bringing your own bags and using a reusable cup for your morning coffee, you drive a low-emission car, and program your thermostat….you are set, right? Did you consider ways to green the holidays???? It doesn’t have to be difficult to make a difference!
* An obvious way would be to buy recycled wrapping paper, but you could take it a step further and use your old newspaper, or wrap it in another gift, such as a tablecloth, a scarf or a reusable shopping bag.
* As for the tree, real or fake? Cutting down trees and branches for decorations kills or injures trees, but a lot of the fake pine stuff is made from PVC which is toxic and energy intensive to make the plastic which releases gasses. There are fake pine decorations made from polyethylene which doesn’t carry the same health risks. Or use a potted real tree that can be planted in the spring.
*If you do use a real tree, be sure to give it new life at the end of the season! Mulch it or chip it. For more ideas check out the National Christmas Tree Association (www.realchristmastrees.org) and learn how to recycle it.
*LED lights are easy to find and will use a fraction of the energy that lights used to use. Use a timer for outdoor lights so they don’t stay on all night!
*Try upcycling! Get a little creative and turn something discarded into something usable. Recycle your old candles, jeans, tissue boxes, revamp glass bottles and jars, or turn old cookie tins into new fabulous gift tins. Pinterest.com is full of great ideas, just search UPCYCLE. There are thousands of ideas, surely one will appeal to you and your skill level.
Glass Bottles and Jars
Give cookie tins a new life
*Give green. Instead of giving someone another dust collector, donate to a charity that you or your recipient believe in. It’s a win-win! Some ideas to get you started:
Gifts that Give More
70 Years of Family Farming
*If you do shop, shop local. Support the businesses in your local community and spend less gas driving all over. Art and craft shows are prevalent this time of year and you can support a local artist and give a gift of something thoughtful and artful. Pottery bowls can be esthetically pleasing and functional, or a hand knitted hat is stylish and warm.
*Eco-friendly gifts come in all shapes and sizes. Try gift cards for a group of friends to take a cooking class together. Make some jelly or jam, or bread that can be frozen for later. Be really green and give a worm composter so less food waste goes into the landfill. Try cloth dish towels and napkins as a gift to replace the paper ones. Give a fancy reusable water bottle or coffee/tea travel mug. Be super practical, and give LED bulbs or a blanket for the hot water heater. Reusable shopping bags are handy too! Programmable thermostat. Bus/train passes. Glass storage containers. A basket of nontoxic cleaners. Beeswax candles. Coupons to exchange for your time (ie babysitting or sharing a meal). Donate time to a local environmental group.
* December 30th is National Bicarbonate of Soda Day! Otherwise known as ordinary baking soda, bicarb has so many uses it belongs in every green house. Surely you have used it for your baked goods….but have you tried it as a facial scrub? Toothpaste? Or even deodorant? A paste of baking soda can relieve the itch from bug bites, and putting it in a bath can help relieve itchy skin and help you relax. Use it as a scrub to remove burnt on stuff from your pots and pans, mix it with vinegar to clean your sinks and tub, or even sprinkle it on your carpet before vacuuming to remove odors. And if you overindulge this season, use half a teaspoon in a glass of water to help with heartburn and indigestion.
ENTERCOM GRANTS $1 MILLION IN NATIONWIDE AIRTIME FOR ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENSE FUND PSA CAMPAIGN FEATURING DON CHEADLE
PHILADELPHIA – AUGUST 15, 2016 – Entercom Communications (NYSE: ETM) – Entercom is launching a nationwide public service announcement (PSA) campaign on behalf of the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), for which the company is donating $1 million worth of free airtime. The PSA will feature Academy Award-nominated actor Don Cheadle discussing the importance of stabilizing the global climate for our children and grandchildren. The PSAs will run across 124 of Entercom’s stations in 27 top markets in the country beginning in August.
“I’m happy to help introduce more people to the great work of EDF,” said Cheadle, a film and television star and climate activist who donated his time to the project. “We’re in the fight of our lives against climate change and EDF has been a real leader in that struggle. So I hope this helps.”
The campaign is part of a larger Entercom initiative, 1THING, committed to promoting good environmental practices both externally among listeners and business partners and internally among employees.
“Entercom is deeply committed to reducing our environmental footprint and working to be a good corporate citizen to help ensure a sustainable planet for our children and grandchildren,” said David Field, President and CEO, Entercom Communications Corp. “We are proud to partner with the Environmental Defense Fund and help support their mission of solving the most critical environmental problems facing our planet.”
“I am grateful to David Field and Entercom for this generous donation that will help build our impact and bring our work to the attention of so many Americans,” said EDF President Fred Krupp. “And I’m grateful to Don Cheadle for the incredible gift of his time and talent. Without this kind of powerful support, we would not be able to do what we do.”
Entercom has previously partnered on PSA campaigns for Conservation International (CI), featuring Harrison Ford; 350.org, featuring Ellen Page; and most recently the Wilderness Society, featuring Dave Matthews, Betty White and Wendie Malick.
Founded in 1967, EDF builds lasting solutions to the world’s biggest environmental problems, finding the ways that work so people and nature can prosper. Learn more at http://www.edf.org.
About Entercom Communications Corp.
Entercom Communications Corp. (NYSE: ETM) is the fourth-largest radio broadcasting company in the U.S., reaching and engaging more than 40 million people a week through its 124 highly rated stations in 27 top markets across the country. Entercom is a purpose-driven company, deeply committed to entertaining and informing its listeners with the best locally curated music, news, sports, and talk content, driven by compelling local personalities. Entercom delivers superior ROI by connecting its customers and audiences through its leading local brands and unparalleled local marketing solutions, which include over 4,000 events each year, and its SmartReach Digital product suite. Learn more about Philadelphia-based Entercom at www.Entercom.com, Facebook and Twitter (@entercom).
Despite growing media attention–(and too-accurate for comfort episodes of Portlandia), we still use plastic bags by the billions (102.1 billion to be exact). But, a little ways around the world, two South African textile designers have found a way to turn this problem into a solution, for children and for the environment. Thato Kgatlhanye and Rea Ngwane are the people behind Repurpose, an organization that turns used plastic bags into solar-powered backpacks for school children in need.
These backpacks don’t just haul books however; they’re reflective to help keep children safer when they walk to and from school in the dark and they’re equipped with solar panels that charge while the child walks and convert into a solar lantern, providing up to 12 hours of study light. Plus, they’re cute! Read more here.
After years of delay, the Food and Drug Administration finalized new nutrition facts labels on Friday. The label you’re used to seeing on processed foods was more than 20 years old; the government says the new one reflects updated scientific information and “will make it easier for consumers to make better informed food choices.”
The changes include a magnified calorie count and the addition of a line showing added sugar (highlighted below).
It’s a big deal that companies will now have to identify the added sugar in their food. Once corn-syrup-filled sodas and cheap processed snacks started overtaking our supermarkets in the 1960s, added sweeteners infiltrated nearly every corner of the American diet. As I’ve written in the past:
Naturally occurring sugars (the kind in fruit, for example) come with fiber, which helps us regulate the absorption of food. Without fiber, sugar can overwhelm your system, eventually leading to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and other health problems.
Given these risks, experts have warned that no more than ten percent of your daily calorie intake should come from added sugar, or around 12 teaspoons a day; Americans wolf down 30 teaspoons on average by some estimates. It doesn’t help that three-quarters of processed snacks include such added sweeteners. But until now, consumers had no real way of knowing how much of the sugar in their food was naturally occurring, and how much was added in manufacturing. Adding to shoppers’ confusion is how tricky it can be to determine whether sugar is an ingredient in a food: it goes by at least 57 names.
With the new labels, manufacturers will have to reveal more about how they use this ubiquitous ingredient. Time will tell whether the transparency spurs big food companies to look past adding sugar and find new ways to make their food palatable.
The agency decides how an array of uses and resources–ranging from grazing to energy development, wildlife habitat to wilderness, hunting to off-roading–occur on these lands.
One out of every five plant species on Earth is now threatened with extinction. That’s the disturbing conclusion of a major report released this week by scientists at Britain’s Royal Botanic Gardens Kew. The planet’s vegetation—from grasslands to deserts to tropical rainforests—is being hit hard by human activity. And deforestation, pollution, agriculture, and climate change are all playing a role.
The sliver of good news, though, is that some researchers are hopeful that people will be able to act in time to avert the worst of the impending crisis. “I am reasonably optimistic,” said Kathy Willis, Kew’s science director, in an interview with our partners at the Guardian. “Once you know [about a problem], you can do something about it. The biggest problem is not knowing.”
But others take a darker view. “Regardless of what humans do to the climate, there will still be a rock orbiting the sun,” said University of Hawaii scientist Hope Jahren in a recent interview with Indre Viskotas on the Inquiring Minds podcast. Jahren is a geobiologist—she studies how the earth (“geo”) and life (“bio”) come together to shape our world. “I’m interested in how the parts of the planet that aren’t alive—rocks and rivers and rain and clouds—turn into the…parts of the world that are alive: leaves and moss and the things that eat those things,” she explains. And what she’s seeing isn’t good. “We are already seeing extinctions,” she says. “We’re already seeing the balance of who can thrive and who can’t thrive in…the plant world radically shifted. In a lot of ways, I think that train has passed.” You can listen to her full interview below:
Jahren, who is the author of a new book called Lab Girl, was recently included on Time magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people. She’s also an outspoken voice for gender equality and the fight against sexual harassment and assault in the scientific community.
Part of Jahren’s work has focused on reconstructing the climate of the Eocene, the geologic epoch that lasted from about 56 million years ago to about 34 million years ago. In the middle of that period, about 45 million years ago, the world was so warm that massive deciduous forests were growing above the Arctic Circle—despite the fact that, as Jahren points out, the region saw little-to-no sunshine for part of the year. Jahren and her colleagues study fossilized plant tissues left over from these ancient forests in order to understand how the climatic factors of the time—light levels, atmospheric composition, water, etc.—combined to “make possible this life in the darkness.” She compares her work to investigating a crime scene. “Almost anything you come upon could have information in it,” she says.
Jahren’s description of a lush Arctic full of plants and animals is striking. Imagining that world, she says, is “a really neat thing to do when you’re…juxtaposing that image against that fact that you’re near the North Pole, and there’s not a soul in sight for thousands of miles, and there’s not a green thing in sight for hundreds of miles.” That may be one of the reasons why she speaks so passionately about environmental destruction in the present day. “The world breaks a little bit every time we cut down a tree,” she says. “It’s so much easier to cut one down than to grow one. And so it’s worth interrogating every time we do it.”
In the end, though, Jahren isn’t sure that science will lead humanity to make better decisions about the planet. Instead, she says, “I think my job is to leave some evidence for future generations that there was somebody who cared while we were destroying everything.”
Inquiring Minds is a podcast hosted by neuroscientist and musician Indre Viskontas and Kishore Hari, the director of the Bay Area Science Festival. To catch future shows right when they are released, subscribe to Inquiring Minds via iTunes or RSS. You can follow the show on Twitter at @inquiringshow, like us on Facebook, and check out show notes and other cool stuff on Tumblr.