Category Archives: Environment & Climate Change

What do you know about methane? (A quick intro and what YOU can do)

A couple of weeks ago in reference to our compost bin, I told you that 20% of human methane emissions come from waste decomposition. I know, I know, you have probably been thinking a lot about that, maybe even stayed awake at night, and wondered, what about the other 80%?

Wonder no more. Here’s the breakdown.

Methane's impact on climate change

Why is methane an important greenhouse gas?

Methane (CH4) is the second most prevalent greenhouse gas emitted from human activities. In 2014, it accounted for about 11 percent of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

Methane’s lifetime in the atmosphere is much shorter than carbon dioxide (CO2), but it is much more efficient at trapping radiation than CO2 is. Pound for pound, the comparative impact of methane on climate change is more than 25 times greater than CO2 over a 100-year period.

The government has an important role to play in reducing our methane emissions, especially when it comes to the fossil fuel piece of the pie (42%). The majority of these emissions are leakages from fracking and processing of oil and natural gas. Fracking is a nasty technology, and no one has exact numbers on how much methane is released every year, as the fossil fuel companies conveniently hide that information from the authorities. Remember the Aliso Canyon leak in California last year? It spewed enough methane into the atmosphere to equal the greenhouse gases emitted by more than 440,000 cars in a year. Scary stuff.

Driving an electrical vehicle, reducing plastic consumption and installing solar panels are actions consumers can take to help reduce emissions from fossil fuel.

Speaking of consumers, I don’t think I need to tell you how to reduce the methane emissions (30%) from ruminants, do I?

Ruminants are the farm animals who eat and digest grass (called enteric fermentation), mainly cows raised for beef or dairy, but also buffalo, sheep and goats. So hey, just to be clear; CUT BACK your consumption. Choose chicken over beef if you insist on meat and replace dairy with plant-based options. (Cattle also contributes large amounts of CO2, through transports, processing and the clearing of forests to make room for more livestock.)

The easiest way to reduce methane emissions from landfill (20%), is to lower your total trash production! Yes, we humans produce trash like never before. Start a compost and stop using one time use items. Like what? Like plastic bags, straws, cutlery, paper plates, napkins, disposable diapers, Starbucks cups, wrapping paper. You know, all the things you only use ONCE but last in landfills forever.

In the “other” piece of the pie we find all the natural sources of methane (6%). Wetlands are the biggest emitter, but also volcanoes, wildfires and sediment play a part. Our wonderful planet is designed for handling the gases from these sources, and we don’t have to do anything about them. Phew!

I read somewhere that a reduction of global emissions by just 22 Million tons per year would result in stabilization of methane concentrations in the atmosphere. I don’t know if that’s still true (the article was several years old), however, such a reduction represents just about 5% of total methane emissions; a small reduction which should be more than doable. The problem is, with the world’s hunger for beef, corrupt governments who favor fossil fuel, and cheap coal becoming available to burn in areas of the developing world (hoping they won’t use it!), we could easily be moving the trend in the opposite (wrong) direction.

Finally, we should all be aware that this beef-loving, fracking-addicted nation, plays a HUGE part in the world’s total methane emissions. There are no exact numbers but it’s estimated that up to 60% of all methane emissions are because of the USA’s activities alone.

It’s HERE that change must take place.

At least we, you and I, can do our part. If we all take small measures to reduce our impact, a significant reduction will be in the bag.

‘Tis the season to be GIVING

And not some random notebook or scented candle.

It’s the season for giving to non-profit organizations. To trustworthy human rights advocates and local community initiatives, but more importantly to the groups and organizations fighting for our planet.

This year, maybe more so than ever, we have to step up and vote with our dollars. With the political climate and the uncertainties 2017 brings, this is the time to look at how and where you can find a few dollars per month to give to non-government organizations fighting for YOUR cause. Be creative; skipping just two take-out lattes per month equals 10 dollars for donations.

Now, how can one incorporate a charity gift into an actual Christmas present?

Below are just a few ideas I have on how to do it. All ways are grand when it comes to supporting a greener planet (or other cause) and giving meaningful gifts.

1. Make an agreement with your family

Instead of purchasing physical gifts to each other, make a pledge that all adults donate for example 100 dollars to an environmental organization of their choice. Don’t know any? Here are some I like.

Stand for Trees

This organization’s focus is to plant, restore and protect forests and forest communities in areas subject to deforestation and big money interests. The cool thing about their site is that you know the amount of carbon you prevent per donation, and you don’t have to give them personal details, like your address. I donate to them every year to offset my carbon footprint. (Link)

Rainforest Action Network

They fight for all types of environmental justice, such as saving rain forests, campaigning against fracking, standing up to the Dakota Access Pipeline. They recently took part in Leonardo DiCaprio’s movie Before The Flood (which I recommend you see if you haven’t). They run a lot of petitions too, where all you donate is your name. Yes, free impact! I suggest you follow them on Facebook to make sure you don’t miss any. (Link)

National Park Foundation

Is there anything more amazing about America than her National Parks? I think not. America without them would be a disaster. Speaking of which, make a plan to go visit some next year, and while there, support the park by shopping for merchandise at the park shops. We like to bring home a refrigerator magnet from each park; made in USA and package free. (Link)

Sierra Club

If anyone can fight Trump it’s them. These guys stand up to corruption, take on big oil, and produce some kick-butt informative videos. They’re the most influential environmental organization we have. (Recently they actually sued the EPA for having too lax regulations in the Ohio valley, causing air pollution in Washington State.) Sierra Club is the organization that all environmental thugs hate (and fear) the most. That’s why we love them. (Link)

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2. Make a personal gift card

Did out that paper, that glue stick and those old stickers you never used. Make a little card of your own and inform the recipient that you’ve donated X amount of dollars to an organization in their name (include the emailed tax receipt of the donation if you feel the need). Pick an organization you feel strongly about and encourage the recipient to make monthly donations to the same. (Monthly, steady donations make the most impact even if low.)

3. Pick something from a gift shop

Now this is my least favorite since it’s bordering on “unnecessary consumption”, but I realize some people prefer to give an actual item (especially to the young Christmas guests). If so, you might as well support a cause with your purchase!

World Wildlife Foundation (WWF)

Adopt a species and get an information kit, or build a bucket of fluffy, endangered animals for a little one. Your symbolic adoption supports WWF’s global efforts to protect wild animals and their habitats. (Link)

Wolf Conservation Center (WCC)

Wolves are cool! Kids think wolves are cool, right? Adopt a wolf and pick something in the gift shop to wrap. WCC’s mission is to promote wolf conservation by teaching about wolves, their relationship to the environment, and the human role in protecting their future. (Link)

Standing Rock T-shirt (#NoDAPL)

Get THE statement t-shirt of the season: supporting the water protectors at Standing Rock! The initiative is started by actress Shailene Woodley and all proceeds benefit the people protesting and fighting the Dakota Access Pipeline. Tees are made by Bella and Canvas (known for fair and ethical production) and 100% cotton (eco-friendly!). Bernie already got his. Watch out for t-shirt scams on Amazon. (Link)

Not so hard to pick something, is it?! If for some reason, you’re not keen on any of these, search and you shall find!

‘Tis the season to make good choices. Fa la la la la, la la la la.

** Share this post tomorrow on the Global day of Giving 11/29/16 using hashtag GivingTuesday. **

Five easy ways to cut back on your dairy consumption (for the sake of your health!)

Yes, dairy.

I first started to cut back on my own dairy consumption in an attempt to reduce acne and breakouts and it worked, however this post is going to be about the cancer building properties of animal based foods, focusing on dairy.

Processed foods, refined sugars, air pollution and chemicals found in cleaning products and lotions all help cancer tumors grow. This is somewhat accepted knowledge by now, but no-one seems to want to talk about the effects that meat and dairy have on our bodies*.

plant food consumption vs disease diagram

Why is dairy so bad for us? Well, we consume a lot of it, and most importantly, the main protein (casein) found in milk, has proven to be an extremely potent fuel in firing up cancer cells, especially for liver, breast and prostate cancer.

A series of lab tests, for example, using rats, concluded that when cancer genes (or clusters) are present, a diet consisting of 20% dairy protein in fact grows the cancer, while a diet with 5% doesn’t. Switching from a 20% dairy diet down to a 5%, actually stops the growth and even reduces the tumor over time!

It doesn’t matter how organic, local or non-gmo your dairy products are – the building blocks are the same. You’ll think twice about that organic, “all natural” strawberry milk you put in your kids’ lunch box now, I hope.

And sit back and think about this for a second: why would breast milk, by nature designed for another mammal, be good for humans? Do we aim to grow at the rate of a baby cow? We’re the only species on this earth that steals and uses breast milk from another. Awful! Rude!** 

Now, let’s take action.

1. Change your milk.

There are lots of great options to diary, like organic almond, cashew, coconut, oat and soy milk. I promise neither you nor your kids will get sick from protein deficiency. Ask your doctor how many patients he sees for lack of protein in a year (none). Don’t worry about the calcium either, osteoporosis is most common in high dairy consuming countries (like USA and Sweden). Due to the high acidity in animal products the body actually uses our bones’ calcium (a base) to naturalize that acid, meaning the more dairy we consume, the weaker our bones.

2. Change your ice-cream and yoghurt 

Organic coconut milk ice-cream and yoghurt is like the best thing that ever happened to me. Try Nada Moo or So Delicious varieties. Your kids will LOVE this.

3. Change your sautee and frying base

Please note that I am not in any way a promoter of synthetic margarine or high fat oils! Personally I use mostly organic olive oil for any satueeing action. Recently I found a brand made right here in Texas. Shop around, find a vegan option you like, and use scarcely. 

4. Change your sandwich base

Peanut butter, almond butter, olive oil, hummus, avocado, tomatoes… so many foods are delicious on a piece of bread. Still, if you feel you need a sandwich basic, instead of using cream cheese or butter go for vegan mayo. There are lots of great versions, we use Just Mayo from Hampton Creek which comes in a gigangtic jar that lasts forever and saves packaging.

5. Just Cut back!

Sure, I’ll have a pizza and won’t reject a meal with dairy in it at mom’s house. It’s about reducing! Always opt for light or no cheese and skip it all together on bean burgers, fajitas, fries and other foods that don’t “need it”. Learn to enjoy your tea and coffee black. Have your pie without the ice-cream. Get it?

Our bodies are amazing and want to be healthy. Once you remove the constant fuel to the fire, they can handle a slice of cheesecake now and then. (This philosophy also applies to meat y’all.) A plant-based, whole foods diet is the best thing you can feed your body for longterm health (and beauty!).

Please continue to support cancer research with any means you want and can afford. (Just don’t buy useless merchandise!) We still need to find cures. But also remember to create awareness about diet based disease prevention.

Tell your friends and family about the effects of animal based proteins! Do your own research when it comes to disease vs. meat and dairy consumption (it’s a click away) or set up a screening at your house of the Forks over Knives movie (it’ll tell you everything you need to know and it’s on Netflix!).

In addition to all the positive changes to your body’s strength and health, our environment will also thank you for reducing your dairy consumption. Dairy cows fart and burp methane (greenhouse gas), use endless resources (grains, water, lands) and create much more waste per head than humans do.

Got milk?

*Refer to The China study.

**Dairy cows actually have a miserable life, separated from their babies only hours after birth, constantly artificially impregnated while living in small booths for three to four years until they become low grade hamburger meat.

How to have an eco-friendly Halloween (sort of)

Halloween is approaching fast and once again stores and empty warehouses are filling up with one time use (plastic) made in China crap. Yes, it’s my least favorite holiday.

Last year I wrote a rant trying to stop America from celebrating, and as you probably guessed, that didn’t work out at all! (Imagine my surprise!) So, I thought this year, instead I should share some eco tips that could help create a little bit less Halloween environmental horror.

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Let’s talk costumes. My hope is that you won’t be part of the above statistic and instead opt to use last year’s costume or borrow one from a friend. If not, the obviously green and budget friendly choice for all is second hand shopping! I promise, it is way less scary than it sounds.

The best time to get Halloween costumes is most likely well in advance so if you’re still looking, here are some ideas for costumes that you will most likely find at the thrift center, second hand shop or even at home (your own or someone else’s!)

1. Tarzan. All you need is a piece of cloth.
2. Crazy cat lady or weird family member. Dig up a bad sweater and fuzzy pants.
3. Represent a decade like 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s. Thrift stores are full of good options! I feel like characters from the Stranger Things series would be an awesome choice this year. Works great for families that want to match each other too.
4. Pregnant lady. Get a big dress, fake a belly.
5. Dead person. Wear anything just go wild with dead-looking make up.

You get the idea – just go digging in those piles and racks for inspiration! And if you need more inspiration on what to be, ethical shopping and the costumes you might already have at home, check out Going Zero Waste’s awesome list HERE. (And pssst. Newborns and babies don’t know it’s halloween, so don’t spend money and earthly resources on dressing them up! Get over your need to do this all while saying “the kids love it”. Erm. Below and above certain ages – no they don’t. This also applies to MANY husbands.)

Then there are the treats, the decorations, the parties, the food. Dios mío, so much to do! Maybe it’s because I grew up in Europe that I “just don’t get it” and a good blogger knows when she’s been beat.

I read a great blog post the other day on this exact topic and I decided to share that post with you instead of reinventing the wheel (smart!). Katy’s got tips for an eco-friendly, zero waste Halloween and you can read all about it HERE.

Just look at her fab fall décor ideas! (Yes, collected in her yard)

skip-the-bag

If you did decide to not celebrate this year OR managed to buy nothing new, please leave me a comment below (yay!).

Naturally, I will not be celebrating. I’ll spend zero dollars, create zero waste, not contribute to kiddo sugar rushes and be utterly satisfied and happy in my life anyway. But that’s just me.

Escape the heat: Six must watch eco-awesome documentaries (on Netflix!)

Houston is getting hotter by the minute with frizzy-is-my-style percent humidity. Most weekend afternoons are just better spent inside. Contrary to many places where summer brings people out of hiding, Texas Summer makes you beg for air conditioning.

What better time to catch up on some well made and important documentaries?

Here’s my ultimate summer watch list to boost your awareness and kick start some eco living habits for fall. (Woop – they’re all on Netflix)

Diet is everything

1. Cowspiracy
This movie finally explained all the environmental impacts of animal agriculture and how devastating meat, especially beef, production is. I’m lucky I have a simple relationship with food and stopped eating beef and most meats cold turkey the same day I saw it. From what I’ve heard, it has had the same effect on many people.

2. Forks over Knives*
And here came the health side of a plant-based whole-foods lifestyle that I needed to complete my lose-the-meat-education. It also gave me the final inspiration to try and cut all dairy products out of my life. Now that’s harder, as it hides in a lot of things but it’s a work in progress. No more cheese, lattes and ice creams for me! Though yes, the veggies I’m eating at restaurants are probably sautéed in butter and the occasional tsatsiki does happen.

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Cowspiracy fact.

Consumption and corruption (go hand in hand)

3. True Cost
This movie has been out for a while and most people know the damaging consequences of fast fashion by now, but it’s still an enlightening watch. It’ll open your eyes to some of the corruption behind cotton production (how Monsanto plays a part) and you’ll never buy Asian-made leather goods again (I hope).

4. Poverty Inc.
Just because you think charity is good, doesn’t mean it does good. Who profits the most from aid? Why is the western world so determined to keep Africa “poor”? This is a great and eye opening watch that made me take yet another look at my consumption behavior. You’ll most likely unfollow TOMS shoes on Instagram immediately.

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True Cost Fact.

The power that fuels our car and our plastic addiction

5. Pump
They’re pushing the agenda a bit for ethanol as the optimal fuel, which is highly debatable, but the big topic of the movie is this: why are we as a society completely controlled by the oil industry? It goes all the way back to the beginning of the oil-era and exposes the men who made the decisions that changed our world forever and caused unimaginable environmental destruction.

6. Trashed or Plastic Paradise
I wanted to include one on waste but I haven’t watched one in particular that really got me going “yes!”. I’ll mention two. Plastic Paradise: The great pacific garbage patch, which mostly focuses on the mythical garbage island in the pacific and trash in the ocean. The second one is Trashed in which Jeremy Irons investigates our wasteful ways as a society and the impact all our trash has on our health and planet.

Let me know what you all think of these films! And leave comments with more eco documentaries below, if you have the time :)

*There’s also a great Forks over Knives app ($5) packed with whole food, vegan recipes you’ll love.

Ocean Noise: What’s causing it (and what you can do about it)

The amount of noise in the ocean has doubled each decade since the 1950s.

Why? Because of us (of course).

Noise from human activities is blasting through the ocean constantly. A sound signal created in the Indian Ocean can travel all the way to the coast of Washington State, as sound travels much farther in salt water than it does on land. So whenever there is noise under water, there is no getting away from it (unless you want to jump ashore).

Marine mammals depend on their hearing for many of life’s most basic functions like foraging, finding a mate, avoiding predators, communicating, and navigating their way through the vast waters. All these activities are affected when we introduce noise into the ocean. When their own sound waves used for communicating are disrupted, whales, dolphins and orcas go silent, which can cause, among other issues, young mammals to get separated from the heard as they can no longer hear their mom’s call. Although, this is happening in virtually every ocean basin on the planet, it’s especially serious in the northern hemisphere where most human activities occur.

There are three major contributors to ocean noise.

1. Commercial shipping transport

Commercial shipping is the leading contributor to low-frequency ocean noise worldwide. The noise from engines, propellers and breaking of waves is constant as there are thousands of container ships at any given time on our oceans. Did you know that for example 97% of all clothing we buy in the US is imported? We import so many things from China that container ships often go back there empty.

2. Oil exploration using seismic surveys

Oil and gas explorers use seismic surveys (shock waves initiated by an air-gun blast) to produce detailed images of the various rock types and their location beneath the ocean floor. This information is used to determine the location and size of oil and gas reservoirs. These high-powered air guns blast compressed air about every 12 seconds for weeks to months at a time. (Of course the oil industry denies the serious impact of their methods. As with all oil activities, it’s perfectly safe and great.)

seismic
Picture from ChampionsforCetaceans.com

3. US Navy high-intensity sonar-training exercises

It works pretty much the same way as the seismic surveys, except the Navy is looking for foreign threats under the surface, not oil reservoirs. A low frequency active sonar device sends a pulse of energy through the water (a sound wave) that reflects off of objects so they are detected. They’re also testing weapons and explosives under water.

Whenever I blog about environmental threats, I always try to share some ideas on how we as citizens of the world can better the situation. Sure, awareness is key, but actions are what changes things. We can’t rely on the industries to change their behavior, they’ll always put dollars before the environment, and that’s that.

Isn’t it kind of obvious how we can reduce shipping transport? Exactly, we need to stop importing everything. The threat to marine life caused by shipping was actually one of my biggest reasons for starting the not made in China challenge in 2014. We can all do our part by focusing on buying locally made products and locally grown food (all you have to do is read the tag). We can also simply buy less. If something is imported from far away, and you don’t need it, leave it.

The shipping and transport industry has a huge responsibility too, naturally. Other than redesigning the ships to create less noise, simply traveling at lower speeds would reduce the noise level significantly.

If ships traveled slower and we reduced our imports from far away, we would use less heavy fuels to power shipping too, which brings me to our next action item.

Oil.

I am of the opinion that we need to keep it all in the ground, and that most certainly applies to off-shore reserves as well. We need to use less, and with that search less.

Now you might think of your gasoline usage and argue that you can’t get an electrical car or improve your car situation in any way. All right, I hear you (you’ve told me a thousand times). There are still many things you can do to reduce oil use, like carpooling, using the car with the best mileage when both cars are available (most American households have two), using public transport, biking or walking.

Changing your electricity provider to one providing only renewable energy also makes a huge difference. Many eco systems, not just under water, suffer from the consequences of oil and gas exploration (spills, seismic surveys, pollution, pipelines) while, contrary to popular belief, wind power turbines aren’t really a threat to anything in nature.  In fact, wind turbines are only responsible for 0.01% of bird fatalities (the main killers are buildings and power lines).

Then there’s plastic. Plastic is made from fossil fuel, you know. Every straw, every cup, every wrapper, every bag, every utensil, every net is made from either crude oil or natural gas byproducts, resources we’ve pumped out of the ground. And although plastic never degrades naturally (that means it lasts forever), the majority of Americans treat it like it is a disposable item. Since scientists predict there’ll be more plastic than fish in the sea by 2050, reducing plastic use also helps marine life in that they don’t swallow it (leading to hormone disturbances or death) or get entangled in it (leading to suffocation or serious handicaps).

Lastly, it’s not easy for us normal folks to stop the Navy from doing high-intensity sonar-training exercises under water. That said, we can sign petitions that forces the Navy to use more whale-friendly technologies (like magnetic sensors and passive sonar) and we can support organizations fighting to regulate the Navy’s activities and what areas they’re allowed to operate in.

If only one person decides to take action, sure it’s just a drop in the ocean. However, if we all take responsibility, imagine the difference we can make! And the amazing thing about noise pollution is that the second we stop making it, all the pollution is GONE.

I recommend watching the documentary Sonic Sea (trailer below) that inspired this post and learning more about our oceans at NRDC.org (Natural Resources Defense Council). You can stand up to ocean noise by signing up here.

The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released a new roadmap last week for addressing ocean noise, under which NOAA would finally begin to manage it, though there are no concrete plans. Read the roadmap here. (The public has until July 1 to comment on it.)

Five cool(ing) ways to celebrate Earth Day!

Earth day 2016 is just around the corner, Friday April 22nd, and it’s definitely a day worth celebrating! Our lovely and diverse planet certainly deserves some extra attention. (Even though, in theory, every day should be Earth Day.)

Not sure how to celebrate?

Here are five earth-friendly ideas that’ll make a difference and hopefully kickstart some healthy and sustainable habits!

1. Do a “Zero Waste” day

Create awareness about our dependency on single-use-plastic and packaging by attempting to do a “zero waste” day! (That means you shouldn’t create any trash all day.)

Bring your reusable water bottle, coffee mug, a fabric towel and a set of utensils everywhere you go. Say no to the receipt, buy in bulk and bring your own shopping bags, produce bags and containers to the store if you need to go grocery shopping. No need for anything fancy, as long as it’s all reusable!

(If you must buy something packaged, pick metal or cardboard containers which you, of course, must recycle. Plastic is strictly forbidden.)

2. Go Vegan

That’s no dairy, no eggs and no meat for the day. Discover how nutritious and great plant-based foods taste and make you feel!

Keep in mind that butter and milk are in a lot of processed or cooked foods so read all the tags, ask questions at restaurants and dare to be “difficult” if you need to be. Indian, Thai and Mediterranean restaurants often offer good vegan choices.

(Yes, thank goodness wine is vegan, so go ahead and have that glass)

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3. Share transport, bike or walk 

Leave your car at home and take a ride with a colleague, friend or the local bus. Or better yet; walk or bike if distance and bike lanes allow.

4. Skip the shower 

Save some water and lots of chemicals from going down the drain by skipping the shower. I’m sure you can “make it” another day without… You might end up getting a new creative hairdo out of it! ;)

5. Plant a Tree 

If you’re feeling lazy and the four above are daunting – start with something simple like supporting a non-profit that benefits the planet! My favorite is Stand for Trees. For every 10 dollars you spend, you compensate 1 tonne of co2, support a forest community and they won’t offer a tacky gift or ask for your home address – no risk for spammy snail mail.

You can get involved and do good at EarthDay.org as well.

If we all did these thing everyday, imagine the cooling effect it would have on our climate! But for now, I am just challenging you to attempt them all, as well as you can, on Friday – I know y’all like small steps.

Yay! Earth!

How many cows in one burger patty? How many barrels of oil does one EV save? What is FRACKING? (Watch a video and find out)

Ok, this is a cheat post from “Anna the writer”, as this post will have very few words. I just have to share some amazing videos with you that, personally, I can watch over and over.

Yes, they’re all about the environment and our future, so naturally I am super interested. But they are also super easy to watch – good animation does that to a video.

The first one contemplates this: what happens when electrical cars become mainstream? Can the oil industry ever bounce back from a crash created by pure lack of demand? How many barrels of oil per year does one electrical car replace? Hint; it’s more than 10.

The second one is all about them burgers and those sad feedlots. But this video is actually kind of cute, awesome and very informative. Did you know that eating corn makes the cows fart and burp MORE than they do eating grass? And how many different cows are mixed into one hamburger patty? Many more than you think. (Gross.)

The third one, I’ve watched so many times; it’s about fracking. As the people in Porter Ranch, California have left their homes due to the health risks associated with the largest methane leak in history, the energy companies keep doing this, and call it “50% cleaner energy”. Have a watch, there ain’t nothing clean about it. (And only one berning presidential candidate wants to stop it…)

It’s amazing what you can learn from three five-minute animated videos! If only more people would actually listen to the messages. (Be honest; did you watch them?)

Three videos, three important things we need to do to keep planet earth healthy:

  1. Drive electrical cars
  2. Reduce beef and dairy consumption drastically
  3. Stop using fossil fuels for energy*

I’m in – are you?

*Start today by switching to a 100% renewable energy provider, like Green Mountain Energy

Ignorant things people say to environmentalists – and why it’s bullshit

Many people seem to have an issue with anyone they meet, who is fighting to end any type of injustice. Ridicule of such fighters and denial of the issues are common traits for the ignorant bunch. Normally, I just smile and shrug my shoulders, but since it bugs me, I decided to compile the best advice and comments I’ve gotten as an environmentalist, into this blog post.

It may make you feel defensive, if you’re the type of person handing out this kind of “advice”, or maybe you’ll read and nod because this happens to you too! Either way, here it goes:

1.“Much good recycling will do when you drive THAT car”

First, let me make this clear; I don’t drive MORE miles in my car in order to recycle or bring my reusable bottle. That means that by minimizing landfill waste, I am doing a good thing for the environment and the climate (reducing methane emissions and saving energy), which has absolutely NOTHING to do with my car.

Second, since I am an environmentalist, I’m against all fuel-burning activities and I am planning to get away from it as soon as technology and means align. In the meantime, I do all I can to compensate for my using of fuel. Such actions include, but are not limited to: recycling, attempting zero waste, no one-time-use plastic, CO2 compensating, walking or biking when I can, reduced consumption, shopping local, buying organic produce, supporting environmental organizations, saving water and last but not least, eating mostly plants. What are you actually doing in order to carbon compensate for your burgers, your imported sweatshop shirts and your car?

To make a point of just how stupid this comment is, here are similar statements: “Much good turning off the lights will do when you have a refrigerator” or “Much good working-out will do when you had lunch today”.

I rest my case.

ignoramt

2.”Shouldn’t you be driving a Prius?”

Oh, the beloved Prius comment. And, no, I find them slow, not great looking and I happen to have another car for now. Hybrid cars still use fossil fuel and motor oil and have twice as many engine components as conventional cars. Maybe a Prius won’t work for my family’s camping trips or maybe I need to drive off-road when I’m saving wild animals from plastic waste you threw away. Maybe I can’t afford to change cars right now. Whatever reason there is for me not having a Prius, please stop assuming I should. If you think driving a hybrid alone equals being eco-friendly, you have a long way to go. On another note, shouldn’t you be getting out of my face?

3.“Leonardo DiCaprio says he’s an environmentalist, but he travels in his personal jet”

Here’s something that might baffle the ignorant: all conservation efforts take tools and transport. No matter how hard we try to not travel, in order to make an impact we need to be at the right place at the right time, show up for meetings, debate and participate. Leo can’t orb and he is a public figure, so he flies in his jet.

I read an interview recently, where Leo said that what inspires him most in his work for the environment, is when he travels and gets to see beautiful places, yet untouched by man. It gives him hope and inspires him to do things like, invest 45 million dollars in conservation projects.

Last time I checked, you took a flight for no better reason than going on vacation, so why are you judging someone else for flying?

And maybe Leo’s jet runs on bio-fuels (estimated to reduce flight emissions by up to 80%) and transports a team of 20+ people. You don’t know his deal, so shut the beep up.

4.“The fossil-fuel-protesters showed up in kayaks made of fossil fuel. Stupid!”

Wow. You know what? I’m pretty sure some of them wore North Face fleece sweaters and had sneakers on with plastic soles too. They may also have been wearing life vests and glasses with plastic frames. Matter much?

Sounds like you don’t understand why they were protesting (in their emission-free transportation). Let me tell you.

They were protesting against a large corporation being allowed to drill for MORE oil, inside of an important eco-system. You see, what they’re saying is this: “We realize there has been oil for a long time, we just don’t want to endanger more species and habitats by drilling for more. Further, we want to stop new drilling sites all together so that industries and inventors have to come up with smarter ways to make material for our kayaks, fleeces and glasses. Preferably something non-toxic this time that doesn’t make a corrupt industry richer.”

By judging their kayaks, you are proving your ignorance and how little you understand about the environmental importance of the protest. Focusing on the method of protest, is just a cheap trick to divert attention from the topic of protest (everyone knows that). And, again, conservation efforts take transport and tools. And I promise you, they didn’t buy new kayaks for that ONE protest. They had them already, borrowed them from friends or rented them. I’m sure there was zero consumption related to their protest.

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5.“You’re an idealist. It doesn’t make economic sense to change”

Now that’s a lie. Are you telling me that it doesn’t make economic sense for restaurants and coffee shops to not provide one-time-use to-go cups? That it doesn’t make economic sense to bring my own shopping bags to the store? That is doesn’t make economic sense to stop polluting the oceans so we still have marine life in 100 years?

The technology needed for us to transition to 100% green energy is already here, and as it gets bigger and better it will provide millions of jobs. We have to re-think, re-build and re-plan everything. Sure, for crude loving companies like Exxon and Koch Industries it doesn’t make economic sense. But are you seriously routing for the polluting billionaires?

Point is; I’m not idealistic. But you, dear, are lazy and conservative, and probably very scared of change. Mostly I think you are worried that people like me are right (why else would you put me down?) and sooner or later you will have to admit that. If not because you realize it on your own, but because rules and regulations will force you to change your consumption driven, fossil dependent, one-time-use behavior. But don’t worry; I’m not going to criticize your choices in front of all your friends or colleagues, like you do mine. I’m just leading by example, knowing I’m right, while you’re, honestly, simply being ignorant (isn’t it blissful?!).

I’ll let you in on a little secret; all living humans, including environmentalists, have a carbon footprint. An environmentalist in the west’s footprint is most definitely larger than that of a person in a third world country; we consume more food, have more possessions, use electricity and most of us have private transport. The only way to not have a carbon footprint is to end one’s stay here on the planet. But since we are having a good time, we want to hang around for a while. What we are trying to do is to minimize our footprints, work for change and encourage awareness so collectively the whole world can minimize their footprints too.

Now to end this rant. I wrote this blog post on a computer; a device that contains rare earth metals and plastic, consumes energy and was made unethically in China. (I also drank some tea.) So go ahead ignorant bunch, say it. “Much good blogging will do when you have a computer”.

Yeah, that one is on me.

 

*Phrases in pink are from the song “Step off” by Kacey Musgraves.

Trust me. I’m somewhat, fashionably, organic.

My sister decided to surprise me with a new statement tee a couple of weeks ago, because she is awesome and this shirt was just right for me. And I promise you can trust me – I am mostly organic.

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I admit that wine, beer, Panera Bread and other inorganic foods do make their way into my body, but I shop organics for myself and my husband, whenever there are options available made somewhat locally. Here in Texas, most veggies are from Mexico.

Studies have found that organic foods contain fewer pesticide residue and antibiotic-resistant bacteria than regular food does. But is it better for us? There are lots of reports on the internet of how organic food isn’t better, stating that studies show no difference in health or chemical levels measured in people eating organic versus people who don’t. I wonder if they were paid by big Agri to report that, because there are also studies proving the opposite, for example that video showing how a Swedish family goes 100% organic – “ekologiskt” – for a period of time and discovers most of the pesticides and toxins disappear from their bodies!

I am not sure what to believe, but my gut tells me it’s better for me.

What I do know for sure, is that organic produce is better for the farmers and the environment! Organically farmed soil has greater microbiological diversity due to crop rotation, cover crops and the use of compost instead of chemical fertilizer. They also use fewer pesticides, better targeted. Where conventional farms use 55% of the budget on pesticides and fungicides, organic farms only use 11%. These practices are great for the laborers too, as they are exposed to significantly less agrichemicals than those working on a conventional farm!

I wrote a bit about organic cotton a couple of weeks ago, in my quest to find the perfect denim, if you are interested in reading more you can do so here.

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Contrary to popular belief, using organic practices in the US does not necessarily mean a better life for the animals. For example, organic milk just happens to come from a cow that is fed organic food and lives on an organic farm. The label doesn’t mean that the cow gets to run outside, eat grass, hang out with its calf when it’s born, isn’t impregnated artificially every year to make more milk or later becomes organic hamburger meat. An organic milk cow is probably just as sad as a non-organic one. (Regulations may be different in other countries though!)

Organic does mean that fewer antibiotics are given to the animals, but I think I have to call that more of a benefit for the consumer than it is for the animals. A miserable life without antibiotics is still miserable. Good thing my new t-shirt only has veggies on it!

Speaking of which, this is a Mexican tee with an American-made print by David & Goliath that my sis found at Bloomingdales. How cool would it have been if the fabric was organic too? I know – a slam dunk! For these pics, I paired my new tee with an old (2013) pair of 7 for all mankind jeans, also made in Mexico actually, and my yard boots.

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Posing in the woods in a statement tee turned out to be great fun! Miss. Shutterluv scouted for locations with good light for future shoots, while I walked around cursing all the plastic waste that had been thrown away in our beautiful nature. Seems people keep forgetting to “not to mess with Texas”! All in all, a typical outing for the two of us :)

Viva organic!

Picture credits: Shutterluv by Ashley