Tag Archives: environmentalist

Five “help the planet” ways to celebrate Earth Day!

Earth day 2017 is this week, Saturday April 22nd!

Our lovely and diverse planet certainly deserves some extra attention and helpful hands during these strange times (leaving the Paris Climate Agreement? Come on! Is he for real?) – what better day to provide just that than Earth Day?

And, yes, this is a repost from last year’s Earth Day post; I have a newborn in the house and reusing is a good thing ;)

Now, here are five earth-friendly ideas for Earth Day, that’ll make a difference and hopefully kickstart some healthy and sustainable habits! 

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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. More tips here)

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!)

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. (The average American emits 20 tonnes of CO2 per year.)

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 Saturday – I know y’all like small steps.

How are you celebrating Earth Day?

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.

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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. **

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.

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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.