Parks or Profit?

This battle wages in many countries.  Last summer the unrest in Turkey started with an act to protect Gezi Park in the middle of bustling Istanbul.  Similar conflicts are erupting everywhere.  In the nearby country of Georgia, Guerrilla Gardeners are trying to preserve Vake Park, which they consider their version of Central Park from New York City.

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Central Park, New York City

As a person who needs access to nature to rejuvinate my energy, the desire to protect the parks is high.  When I’m having a stressful moment, or something emotional is bothering me, a walk along the river near work, away from the noisy road, helps calm my emotions to get through the rest of the day.

Given that parks generally contribute to budget shortfalls instead of profits, what is the incentive to cities to protect these public spaces?  How can we fight the drive for profits?

Save the Great Barrier Reef

I’m flabbergasted to learn that someone might dredge the Great Barrier Reef. Is there anything in this world that does not have a pricetag?

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The Great Barrier Reef is at risk of being dredged to make way for a mega coal project. But if one key investor walks away, the deal is sunk and the world heritage site is saved!

Join me to stop this project in it’s tracks here: http://www.avaaz.org/en/australian_coal_disaster_global_rb/?email​

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Fair Trade/Sustainable Clothing

Ethical Clothing = 1. Clothing that is made from resources produced with little environmental impact or 2. Clothing made with improved human rights practices.   There is no way I can list every source of socially responsible merchandise.  Terms to search for on your own “SweatFree”  “Conscience Consumer Guide” but be careful that you don’t misinterpret what they say, these terms can be misleading if they are not regulated and certified.  See my blog post here for definitions and certifications for various terms.

We also must be concerned over how the materials are produced, more to come…

Definition of Fair Trade

Made in the USA

Other Consumer Guides

Save Captain Paul Watson – Sea Shepherd

I have watched several seasons of the show Whale Wars which follows Paul Watson and the Sea Shepherds in their fight to stop the Japanese whale fishing around Antarctica. This year they are also following other Sea Shepherd campaigns.

Sustainability for the Partially Motivated

By Liz

Captain Paul Watson is a Canadian born long time activist.  He is one of the co-founders of Greenpeace and the founder of Sea Shepherd.  He has spent his life at sea saving countless animals and trying to stop illegal fishing, whaling, shark finning etc.  

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In 2007, Sea Shepherd released a documentary called Sharkwater.  In this film Paul Watson and his team  tried to put an end to the shark finning industry in 2002.  While doing so. he made a citizen’s arrest of a vessel, the Veraderos I, for finning sharks illegally.  Communication got crossed and the Sea Shepherd crew were actually told to release the Veraderos I and were in turn arrested for attempted murder and shipwrecking.  When released on bail the Sea Shepherd group left Costa Rica.  Now 10 years later Paul Watson is being held in Germany waiting to be extradited to Costa Rica.

Here is a video of Pamela…

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Obama prioritizes Jobs (Corporate Profits) over Clean Air and Public Health

The U.S. President (Obama) is so fearful of being responsible for not doing enough to promote job growth, he is willing to forgo EPA recommended restrictions on ozone pollution limits.  This article in the New York Times describes the EPA’s basis for the ozone limit and the decision by Obama to retract support the proposed regulation.

His public statement indicates that he is promoting jobs over the environment and our nations health.  “At the same time, I have continued to underscore the importance of reducing regulatory burdens and regulatory uncertainty, particularly as our economy continues to recover.”  This is obviously a political move.  Obama was elected during the recession to make the tough decisions for our country in a time of need.  The economy has balanced out, although it will be a long time before we see a recovery, and we need his leadership to make the tough sacrifices in order to promote public health and protect the environment.

If you wish to take a stance in support of this regulation and ask President Obama to change his decision, visit this Green Peace website.

Reduce, Reuse, then Recycle

the first two R’s are the most important, and the least used.  In the US we are improving, very slowly, our recycling practices.  Part of the delay is the lack of innovation to develop products made from recycled materials, called post-consumer content.  Paper and glass is relatively easy to form into new products, metal also fills an important role in reducing the use of new raw materials.  Plastic is more difficult to form into new products, and some varieties of plastic cannot be reused.  You can find sources to recycle various materials at Earth 911.  Information about the resource savings from using recycled materials can be found on Volunteer Guide, which also describes how to identify recycled products.  Learn more about the recycling symbols including the numbers related to plastics.

Recycling is important and environmentally helpful, but this process also uses energy and resources.  So I think we should focus on Reduce and Reuse as the main priority, and continue recycling efforts as a secondary effort.   The consequences for such a high use of materials includes:

  • Water consumption, the availability of clean water is drying up faster than we are planning for
  • Environmental Impact should be reviewed over the entire lifespan of a product – Cradle to Grave.  Often only the manufacturing process impact is reported and does not include extraction of the raw materials and how the materials are disposed of.
  • Energy consumption during the lifespan – Cradle to Grave.

The cost of not prioritizing all three R’s can be seen in our oceans and islands.

These photos show the trash that has collected on land; less visible is the floating trash pile of plastic (other trash materials sink to the ocean floor) that is trapped in the North Pacific gyre and other ocean currents around the world.  The floating plastics are small pieces like bottle caps, or broken plastic containers.  These small pieces of plastic prevent light from getting down into the water, are mistaken as food by some animals filling their stomachs with material that does not break down, and is difficult to recollect from the oceans.

To see a documentary about plastic waste watch Plastic Planet.

Ideas for a plastic free lifestyle:

  • For ideas on how to live without plastic, check out this Austrailian family who manages to live 2 years without plastic.  They have a book out in German with their ideas, hopefully it will be translated soon.
  • Living Plastic Free

song “Doldrums” by Laurel Braums touches on this subject

Where does our Food come from?

The other day at work, a woman in my office was passing out copies of the movie Food Inc.  She had recently purchased several copies to share with friends and associates believing that the message in the video should be promoted. I have not seen this video, in summary it’s a documentary of modern food production.  (For more details: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/food_inc/)

The two women who received copies of the video did not look pleased and repeated the phrase “I don’t want to know the truth.”  Then the woman offering the video commented “I know, it (the content in the video) just makes you hate the government.”  The two women took the videos saying they could not promise to watch it.  Eventually, the video advocate directed her attention to me.  I commented that instead of watching movies and getting angry at the government I’d rather spend time finding sources of food created using methods I appreciate.  She responded that watching this movie motivated her to start doing that very thing.

Whether you choose to watch Food Inc. to get inspired for being more proactive in your food choices, here are some ideas for getting started (to be implemented one at a time).

Purchase from local farms:

  • Shop local farmers markets.
  • Research the products you frequently purchase.  If something in the store is advertised as “All Natural” or “Organic” or whichever luring label you’re attracted to, research the practices of that brand.
  • Read the labels to determine which product was produced nearby.
  • Some restaurants are using local sources.  In my area this include: Flatbread Pizza, Chipotle, The Fireplace Grill
  • Visit local farms: http://www.pickyourown.org/
  • Some communities have a cooperative (co-op) relationship with where you contribute a set $ each week or month, then the produce from that farm is distributed among the participants.  This system helps the farms by providing a reliable income.
  • Search for options near you: http://www.eatwellguide.org/i.php?pd=Home

Prepare your own food

  • Cooking does not take as much time as people think.   The effort can be in all the tasks surrounding meal preparation: planning the meal, shopping for groceries, chopping ingredients (there are enough sources for chopping ingredients this can mostly be avoided, otherwise I suggest having a designated chopper during meal prep), trying to think of something to make with leftover ingredients (this drives me crazy sometimes).  I just search the internet for Recipes that require (carrots) or whichever ingredient you have extra.
  • Spend the time sharing the experience with a friend or with a group of kids.  It can be a fun activity for a small group, and less expensive.  You’re going to eat anyway.
  • Create a list food items you eat might regularly.  If you can think of 6 meal ideas you can rotate them through a 6 week schedule to have a home cooked meal once a week.  You might prepare enough for leftovers and save on lunch the next day.
  • Prepare a snack to carry with you.  Granola and trail mixes are easy to make and store.

More intense research

Info for Appropriate Food Sources

Teaching your Children