40th Anniversary of Earth Day… (20 ways to) do something!

This Thursday, April 22, 2010, marks the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day! Created in 1970, it is a way to remind us to appreciate nature and this amazing planet we live on, and learn how to protect our environment and all of its inhabitants. While it is celebrated in the spring in the northern hemisphere, it is actually observed in the autumn in the southern hemisphere (both days being the exact “middle point” of the season).

This year, find a way to celebrate. Take notice of all that we HAVE to celebrate and no matter how small and insignificant your actions may seem, they matter… they add up… they make a difference…

Take action, talk about it, MAKE a difference… EVERY day should be Earth Day!

Where you SHOULD be celebrating Earth Day!…

earth day logReady for the answer?… Cleveland, Ohio!

Oh, quit your groaning!  I don’t want to hear the pitiful “mistake on the lake” jokes and all the incessant “your river caught on fire” stuff.  (The truth of the matter is there were a LOT of rivers catching on fire over 40 years ago in industrialized cities, but it just so happens there was a news crew in the area and we got plenty of (unwanted) coverage, and this fire actually ignited (no pun intended) the conception and passage of the EPA’s Clean Water Act…  so shush!) 🙂

Anyhow, why should you be in Cleveland for Earth Day?  Well, because our beloved Cleveland Metroparks Zoo hosts EarthFest, the longest-running Earth Day celebration IN THE NATION and the largest environmental education event in Ohio!  (… See, I told you!)  This year’s celebration will be held on April 18 and includes over 175 exhibits for climate change solutions (from transportation, to home, to food choices).  And the zoo will be wind-powered for the day too!

This year actually marks the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day (April 22). It was created in 1970 as a way to remind us to appreciate nature and learn how to protect our environment.  While I truly believe that EVERY DAY should be Earth Day, this is a great time to celebrate planet Earth!  Hopefully you will find an event that is as much educational as it is a celebration.  Check out the Earth Day Action Center,  the EPA Event page or your local zoos, nature centers and communities for event possibilities.join green

Whatever you do, just celebrate and embrace Mother Earth for Earth Day and continue that momentum every day of the year!  If you can’t come to Cleveland then, sadly, you will miss the Earth event of the year… maybe another time.  😉

(See…  Cleveland isn’t sounding so bad after all, is it?)

Using palm oil = harm and destruction (here’s why…)

palm plnttnUntil recently I had never really heard much about palm oil… but as soon as I did, everything changed.

More and more, palm oil is commonly being used as an ingredient in everyday products including margarine, shortening, baked foods, cookies, candies and even soaps, candles and personal care products. Its main purpose, aside from its “binding properties”, is to replace trans fat that we’re all trying to avoid, however, there is also a great sacrifice being made through the acceptance of palm oil as our alternative to such things as hydrogenated oil…

… The sacrifice is vast amounts of rainforests and the animals that make the rainforest their home. These forests are being cleared at alarming rates to make way for palm plantations and to keep up with the demand for the product. Malaysia and Indonesia account for 83% of the production and 89% of the export of palm oil.  Within these countries the threat is enormous for endangered species including orangutans, tigers, elephants and rhinoceroses.  The threat is the greatest for the orangutans, as they live ONLY in these areas that are being cleared to make way for the palm oil plantations.  As you can imagine, the occurrence of hunting and poaching these poor animals has dramatically increased as well, and it is estimated that 50 orangutan are being killed each week.  At this rate, their existence is limited… and I find that absolutely heartbreaking and unnecessary.orang tans

It’s also important to realize that when this deforestation occurs and the rainforests are burned, they release decades of stored carbon back into the atmosphere, contributing to the tragedy of global warming.

Also keep in mind that, though the health effects of palm oil may be a BIT less with palm oil as a substitute, it is NOT a heart-healthy food or adequate hydrogenated oil substitute, like olive, soy or canola oils.  It is only a smoke-screen used by manufacturers because it is a cheap substitute and keeps the words “trans fat” off of the content label.

Sadly, the demand for palm oil is expected to double in the next 10 years… IF we continue to support the products that are using this oil as a “new” substitute.  This is NOT an option.

When you are shopping, DO NOT PURCHASE products containing palm oil.  By NOT buying, and selecting products without palm oil, it speaks loud and clear.  It means you will not support this product and the harm and destruction it is creating!

(* Note: the image above shows a palm oil plantation as it butts up to a rainforest that has been cleared for this crop.)

Is climate change affecting your HEALTH?

Global WarmingThat’s a question I had always wondered about.  When we think about climate change, or global warming, we often visualize an image like a polar bear precariously balanced on a small floating patch of ice but, in the bigger picture, can it affect our own health?

The answer is absolutely.

Unfortunately, there are many ways that are often overlooked and never even discussed when we consider climate change.  The change in global temperature can have long-term effects on human health because it affects the food we eat, the diseases we get, the disorders we develop, the air we breathe and the water we drink… all the things essential to a healthy body.

Here are just a few concerns to consider if anyone ever thinks this is only an environmental issue:

  • Greenhouse gasses can cause respiratory issues and more severe problems for asthma suffers because plants will actually produce more allergens when temperatures increase.
  • Extra heat creates more ground-level ozone, and increases pollution, which creates added stress for our heart and lungs.childhealth
  • Rising temperatures can increase the range of infectious parasites and therefore increase the rate and severity of infectious diseases.
  • Weather extremes will increase, resulting in intense heat waves or bouts of bitter cold, resulting in cardiovascular and respiratory disorders.
  • Crops can become compromised, decreasing the yield and reducing their nutritional quality.
  • Water supplies are reduced along with the quality of water, coupled with an increase of water-borne illnesses.

Research has shown that bugs, plants, animals are all literally moving closer to the poles to escape the increases in heat.  Tropical fish have even been found off the coast of Long Island, New York, because of the rise in water temperature.

The next time someone rejects the idea of climate change affecting their lives, remind them that our environment can’t change without changing us too!

Green gift guide II: gifts that give back!

christmas globeTick, tick, tick… yes, the countdown clock to Christmas seems to be moving at warp speed!

I’ve given my list of favorite green gifts for when you want to give something tangible.  But there is certainly another way to go…  for gifts that don’t clutter up a home or sit unused in a drawer or closet.  These are the gifts that give to a worthwhile cause:  wildlife, nature or the environment.  They certainly need the “gifts” more than we do!

So, here are some ideas for when you want to give a meaningful gift that really counts:

  • Adopt an Acre of Rainforest and other of earth’s wonders (The Nature Conservancy) – for preservatiglobal warming bearon and restoration of some of the world’s most amazing places
  • Adopt an Endangered Species (WWF) – to protect endangered animals and their habitats
  • Adopt an Animal (National Wildlife Federation) – to protect additional animals and their habitats
  • Rescue the Reef (The Nature Conservancy) – for preserving an undeniably crucial part of our world’s oceans
  • Plant a Billion Trees Campaign (The Nature Conservancy) – for protecting and preserving Earth’s largest and most endangered tropical rainforests in Brazil
  • Give-a-Tree (Arbor Day Foundation)– plants a tree in one of America’s National Forests in honor of a recipient
  • Change the Present – you can contribute and honor someone by helping to restore a fragile ecosystem in Kenya, purchase carbon offsets, plant trees, preserve wildlands, adopt wildlife or any one of about 1600 causes of your choice!

If you want to give a gift that supports a worthwhile cause but still gives to the recipient too, consider:coral_reef

  • A zoo or aquarium membership – there are 218 AZA accredited zoos and aquariums in the US and all are dedicated to excellence in animal care and welfare, conservation, education, and research that collectively inspire respect for animals and nature (but please, no circus tickets!).
  • A botanical garden, arboretum or nature center membership – again, they dedicate themselves to the conservation and preservation of nature and the environment, and help us understand the delicate and important connection between people and nature.

And finally, one of our favorite gifts last year:

  • Kiva – Through their gift certificate program you can “loan” your gifted money to a “working poor” recipient of Kivayour choosing.  (We selected a man in Tajikistan who desperately needed money to buy seeds for farming and help support his family.)  Once they are able to repay the loan, you are given back your donated money to grant to another needy recipient… and this wonderful cycle starts all over again!

These should be the choices for the person on your list who has everything… on second thought, these choices should work for anyone and everyone… it is truly better to give than to receive!