Tag Archives: pollution levels

EARTH DAY – What the day is about and why we celebrate it!

I did a poll on Instagram to see how many people actually knew that Earth Day is coming up this weekend. Being surrounded by zero wasters and eco-friendly folks on social media all the time had led me to believe that everyone knew. Turns out 62% of earthlings who voted in my little poll didn’t! Wake up call, Anna!

That’s why I am writing a post about EARTH DAY today. It’s coming up this Sunday, April 22nd.

why we celebrate Earth day 2018

The reason we celebrate it on the same date every year is that the very first Earth Day happened on April 22nd! It was 1970 and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had not yet been founded. Activists and environmentalists had just started their fight for a cleaner world; biodiversity, cleaner air, less pollution and more government imposed regulations were on their agendas, as they demanded action thru peaceful protests and gatherings. Environmentalism was gaining momentum at this time in America and on the very first Earth Day, millions of people gathered in parks and streets to create awareness among individuals  and demand action from government to regulate polluting industries. Later that year, the President founded the EPA; laws for cleaner air, cleaner water and protecting endangered species were written and put into immediate effect. (#peoplepower)

So, what do people actually do on Earth day nowadays?

Well, it’s to up to each of us to decide!  Most cities arrange get-togethers or events in parks or similar spaces to bring attention to one or two specific environmental threats. Zero Waste and plastic pollution are buzzwords this year (thanks to in large the Blue Planet II series) and the official Earth Day Network  are focusing their efforts on just that; creating awareness about plastic pollution (single use!) and arranging clean ups. Other eco groups are gathering to plant trees, doing speeches or hosting educational events.

As for me, being very much a homebody, I’ll be at home with my boys. This environmentalist isn’t exactly the “joiner type” – we all don’t have to be right? If you’re not big on going somewhere to hang out with eco-warriors or attend a big event, try some of these ideas:

Donate to a cause. Chip in a few dollars to the Sierra Club, Stand for Trees or any other, trustworthy environmental organization you like.

Support a politician. The best thing we can do right now is to replace representatives in Government who don’t have ours or earth’s best interest in mind. Donate cash or dedicate some time promoting sustainable candidates up for local or national election this year.

Clean out your closet and meet up with friends to do a clothes swap! I just did this with one of my good friends and I love the shirts, vest and shoes I got – plus I feel so good about her resurrecting some of my clothes so I don’t have to sell or “donate” them (who knows where they’d end up).

Cook from scratch and enjoy a plant-based meal. Connecting with the food we eat by taking the time to cook it can be medicine for the soul and make us more thankful. It’s especially awesome if no earthling had to die for you to eat it. Try my vegan lentil moussaka, why don’t you!? I just had my recipe published on Mother Earth Living – get the recipe here.

Spend the day outside. Talk to your kids, friends, family members, whoever you are outside with, about threats to our lovely planet, its animals and us, due to climate change and pollution. Smell some flowers, do a cartwheel (yeah, right), pick up the trash you find. Just enjoy what we’ve all been given and rekindle that connection with earth!

ideas how to celebrate earth day

However you decide to spend the day I hope you have a wonderful, fulfilling Sunday! Also, next week is Fashion Revolution Week, so rest up for tackling the fashion industry, starting Monday, by asking all your favorite brands: Who made my clothes?

I’ll be posting my outfit of the day each day next week on Instagram to bring awareness to this cause @sustainableanna :)

Photo credits: Taken by me and my husband in Smokey Mountains area

Money is everything – it isn’t how you play the game

Friday fun at our house: Watching a marathon of awesome documentaries (Fed-up, Park Avenue, Pump) which lead me to think a lot about money this weekend.

Money is the single, most powerful tool in this world, and in this country. Money rules the Senate. Money rules the House of Representatives. Money rules the President (I bet he made a nice bonus last week announcing that he will allow drilling in the arctic). Whoever invests the most money gets their bills passed.

It so happens that some of the nastiest people in this country have billions of dollars. Like the Koch Brothers. They are in oil. And yes, they fight environmental regulations and, yes, they push their own agendas thru cover organizations, bills and by buying politicians (mostly Republicans!). They know that money means power and that lots of money means lots of power. So they use it for their own benefit, like pushing for bills that gives tax breaks to themselves and the investment bankers, because that’s the kind of stuff oil tycoons looove (“I love it bro’ ”. “OMG, me too”).

What consumers seem to forget is that collectively, we have power too. We have more power in our wallets than we can ever obtain by voting.

In order to make things better and shift the power, we have to play the same game they’re playing, where money is everything. Together we have the power to bring large corporations out of business (bye, bye Wal-Mart), and the power to help ethical, green, local businesses grow. That’s pretty cool, when you think about it! Right?

What you buy is your political stance and ultimately your “vote”. Don’t just sit back and say you can’t change things, because that is not true. Here are some examples.

  1. When you buy American made goods – your vote says that you don’t approve of sending work overseas.
  2. When you buy all natural bath, body and cleaning products – you’re telling the manufacturers that it’s unacceptable to add parabens, petrochemicals and other toxins to these products.
  3. When you buy organic produce – you help support organic farms and clearly stat that you won’t accept chemical pesticides and GMOs in the food that your family eats.
  4. When you buy local – you vote for strengthening your own community.
  5. When you say no to Coca-cola and Pepsi – you tell the marketplace that you don’t accept highly processed sugars being added to your drinks.

The list goes on (and on, and on).

If we already know that the political game is corrupted by wealth, isn’t it time we all started playing? We may not like the game, but we can still be the winning players.

Start using your power this week! Put that processed food back on the shelf and leave that made in China sweater on the rack.

Be the change.

Muffintops and leather vests

My husband asked me to join him at a motorcycle rally this weekend. He wanted to look at bikes and figured I would enjoy the people watching.

For the longest time I thought Rawlins, Wyoming was where fashion came to die. But now I know it’s at the motorcycle rally. Muffintops, black leather vests, ripped shirts and lots of bling everywhere. My husband rocks a wolverine-just-borrowed-the-old-mans-bike look, which looks so hot, so I was not prepared for this flashback to 1991.

But, what’s that got to do with my made-right-here lifestyle? Well, although riding a cruiser may be a great American past time, most of the merchandise bikers buy is imported. Yes, I was the crazy lady checking tags of things I would never buy (ripped leggings with sparkling crosses anyone?) to see where things were made. Pakistan and China, from what I saw, so no surprise there.

The majority of what bikers seem to buy and wear is leather. Black leather vests, jackets, pants and boots. So let’s talk about leather.

China is the world’s biggest exporter of leather and fur. Even when something is labeled as made here, the raw material is often untraceable for us consumers, thus most likely from China (or India). It is worrisome because there are no laws for animal welfare, or control of implementation of such laws if any. Mislabeling is often used to hide the origin and the type of animal used to make the leather. In India, where it is unlawful to kill cows, the key to get hides for leather is to malnourish and treat cows so badly that they die a slow death on their own. Sound like something we should support?

And you bet that if there is no control of animal welfare, there is little or no control over the chemicals and pollutants that come as a byproduct of processing leather. The list is long. Wastewater pouring out into the nearby lands always contain chromium, sulfides, mercury, dies, oils, arsenic and other solvents.

Studies have shown that leather processing industry workers are in higher risk of getting lung cancer, testicular cancer, soft tissue sarcoma, pancreatic cancer and bladder cancer to name a few.

In the US, though the harsh chemicals are definitely still there – a threat to the factory workers and the environment – it’s better controlled, and some or most (you will never know for sure) of the leather we process come from cows already used for dairy or meat. This is not the case in the Far East.

I googled and tried to find some recent numbers and hard facts about leather exports but it was very hard to get a good hit. Here’s a link to PETA, it’s short and direct on what is going on.

The best thing to do is to minimize the amount of leather goods you buy, in order to not support an industry where severe animal abuse and environmental damage is part of the daily routine. Just for kicks, check the tag of your purse. I bet I know where it’s made.

So thanks bikers for reminding me of this important topic!

What I was wearing for the event? Pink scarf, blue jacket, jeans and pink sneakers. I clearly didn’t get the memo, but this is an event where I am proud to not fit in.

IMG_5158
Someone didn’t get the dress-code memo

 

You just don’t know how scary it is

IMG_23052222I always see this ad in the flight-magazine when I travel Southwest. “Overseas Manufacturing isn’t as scary as you think”. Really, what do you think, I think?

Here are four reasons as to why it’s actually pretty, darn scary (and why this company should start looking for other expertise since they will be out of business sooner or later)

1. The clothing factory in Bangladesh that collapsed in 2013 and killed over 1,100 uninsured employees. On top of that, over 2,500 were injured.

2. That Pakistan is the most polluted country in the world. Pollution PM 2.5 levels are at 101 μg/m3 (micrograms per cubic meter). Recommended value for not risking premature death or chronic diseases, looking at annual average, is 15 μg/m3 (*)

3.The American Embassy in Beijing reports that PM 2.5 pollution levels often hit over 500 μg/m3 short term. At these conditions, children can’t go to school as it is a threat to their health.

4.Container ships (that bring all the goods over here) are associated with serious environmental threats such as greenhouse emissions, nitrogen- and sulfur oxide emissions (which cause acid rain), disruption of maritime life, and oil spills.

Enough said. Shop local!

(*)Particulates less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter (PM 2.5) are referred to as “fine” particulates and are believed to pose the largest health risks. Read more about pollution and how it is measured here