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Green Thanksgiving Food Preparation Tips

November 20, 2017
Green Thanksgiving food preparation tips

Thanksgiving is known as the season for golden yellows, burnt oranges and deep reds, but, this year, you can make yours a little bit greener. And you can do so without sacrificing any bit of the year’s biggest feast — one that tends to be super wasteful, which means your efforts could actually make a difference to the earth at-large.

To have an eco-friendly Thanksgiving this year, here are five green Thanksgiving food preparation tips.

1. Don’t Use Disposable Dinnerware

With a large party to feed, it may seem easier to forego traditional table settings for paper and plastic ones. And, while this certainly aids with cleanup, it does nothing to help reduce your footprint. Instead, use the holiday as an excuse to pull out all the reusable stops. Arm your guests not only with reusable flatware but with washable, reusable napkins, too. In every place that you can use a washable tool, do so — you’ll cut down on post-holiday waste that way.

If your party is simply too big, there’s one compromise: you can use disposable napkins, plates, cups and flatware so long as it’s all made from 100 percent recycled materials.

2. Plan a Plant-Centric Menu

In 2012, Americans consumed a whopping 46 million turkeys on Thanksgiving. Turkey isn’t one of the biggest offenders when it comes to the carbon footprint created by cultivating livestock, but the transport of meat requires lots of fuel, especially on high-demand holidays like Thanksgiving.

As such, you should try and build your menu around plant-based dishes that require fewer resources to cultivate and harvest. You get bonus points if you use fruits and vegetables that are in-season. Chances are, your favorite Thanksgiving recipes already contain those flavors anyway, but make sure you’re shopping for the season to stay green and potentially save money, to boot.

3. Order Smart, Too

Your Thanksgiving plans could potentially bring you to a restaurant, or you may have Friendsgiving celebrations at your favorite local eatery. Either way, you know you’ll be out to eat this holiday season, and it’s worth learning the ways you can be eco-friendly while you’re at a restaurant, too.

There are so many ways to do it. For one, you can order tap water instead of bottled beverages so that you don’t have to worry about staffers throwing your finished plastic bottle into the trash instead of the recycling. You can take your leftovers to go to cut down on waste or choose a restaurant with a farm-to-table menu so that you know the ingredients are from nearby and not shipped over large distances, thus wasting fuel.

With a few steps in mind, your Thanksgiving dinner parties — and Christmas dinner parties, and New Year’s dinner parties — will all be eco-friendlier.

4. Buy Fresh, Local and Organic

We’ve already touched on the importance of local produce, but it’s worth reiterating, especially when you’re planning a huge shop for your Thanksgiving feast. If you buy from local shops and farmers, you know your products have traveled less of a distance and therefore required less fuel to make their way to your table. This makes your menu instantly greener.

Fresh foods cut down on the energy required to preserve and store canned and bottled foodstuffs. And organic products help preserve the ecosystem and boost soil quality in a way that traditional farming cannot. In the long term, organic farming can stall soil erosion, reduce nutrient loss and hold onto water in a drought. All of these are benefits to the earth that you can help facilitate.

5. Compost What You Can

If you don’t have a compost bin already, make your own before Thanksgiving rolls around so that you can use your leftovers in an earth-friendly way. Rather than contributing to the huge quantity of food that’s wasted post-Thanksgiving, you can reuse your scraps and leftovers to fertilize your garden. It’s a pretty simple process, too, once you get the hang of composting: toss your leftovers in and wait until they make rich, natural fertilizer for your flowers and produce.

Have a Green Thanksgiving

With these tips in mind — and the many other ways you can make your holiday eco-friendlier — you’ll find your holiday even more blissful as you protect the earth and serve a delicious meal to your loved ones. There’s no better feeling than that; in fact, it’s what the holidays are all about.

Green Technology

A Roundup of Renewable Energy around the World

November 17, 2017
Renewable energy around the world

The continual consumption of fossil fuels is a serious contributing factor to climate change, and first world countries consume more than their fair share. Renewable energy around the world is one of the best options for working on reducing that. It is not a full solution to climate change, but it can help mitigate the severity of it. At this point, that’s our primary goal.

Although first world countries consume more carbon emissions than others, they are not the only ones trying to solve the carbon crisis. Most countries are trying to work toward green technology. Numerous countries making impressive strides. In fact, some small islands have been able to run entirely off of renewable energy. This is difficult for large nations to replicate because the energy demand is so much higher, but even those achievements are impressive. Costa Rica managed 76 days with only renewable energy sources, and other islands are looking to do the same.

China

China is probably the biggest surprise. They’re the leading country for overall greenhouse gas emissions, but that’s mostly because they’ve got a huge population and a large production industry. They’re also making some fantastic strides in employing renewable technologies, despite their still impressive emissions. Their reasons for doing so may be based more on watching how the new industry can help them financially, but the result is the same. They are sweeping other countries under the rug with their work on renewables.

They have built and are operating vast solar and wind farms. China has a lot of space, and much of it is unpopulated. They have room to build renewable farms on a scale that more developed countries can’t. They have set their own goals, per the Paris Agreement, and one of them is to produce 20 percent of the country’s energy needs with renewables by 2030.

Iceland

Iceland has, impressively, been getting more than 75 percent of its energy from renewable sources. Iceland has an unusual situation since they are well situated to make use of geothermal energy. They don’t need to rely on wind and solar, which are more variable, and can instead depend on a constant, steady supply of power from below their feet. Their luck has made it easy to change from fossil fuels, and they’ve taken full advantage of it.

United States

The U.S. isn’t exactly top dog when it comes to renewables, but it’s still come a long way. In the late 60’s, when rivers started catching fire from all the pollution, a series of environmental policies were enacted. That curbed a lot of the U.S. emissions from companies, but the per capita emissions in the U.S. are still some of the highest in the world.

Cities and corporations in the U.S. are making a concentrated effort to take their own measures to move toward renewable energy sources. Tesla is aiming to make electric cars available to everyone, but they’re also working on solar power for everyone. In fact, they’ve designed an entire roof made of solar panels.

And despite the government’s efforts, the U.S. has made significant strides. In the past seven years, the U.S. has reduced energy emissions by over 12 percent. That’s not a huge number, and it’s certainly not high enough, but it’s a good start.

Africa

A lot of people don’t talk about Africa, but it’s one of the biggest consumers of renewable energy in the world. A big part of that comes from the fact that they never had a solidly established fossil fuel system, so they have nothing to change from. They can only gain energy, and a lot of that comes from green tech. The other significant factor is that the fossil fuel industry has less of a hold in Africa. The energy supply there is expected to at least double by 2030, and a massive portion of that is likely to be from renewable energy.

The efforts that are being put into renewable energy around the world is impressive. All countries need to get on board, and if they don’t do it because it’s good for the planet, they should do it because it’ll be good for their pockets. Ignoring the worldwide trend of energy consumption would be like ignoring the Industrial Revolution. Doing so will leave you in the dust.

Environment

5 Ways to Volunteer on America Recycles Day

November 13, 2017
Volunteer on America Recycles Day

There’s so much natural beauty to be seen — and to preserve — across the United States. As such, the non-profit organization Keep America Beautiful (KAB) runs multiple nationwide initiatives to, well, keep America beautiful.

Since 1997, on or around November 15, the country has celebrated America Recycles Day, which is one of the aforementioned initiatives led by KAB. Prior to the big day, local communities make pledges to recycle more as they teach environmentalism and promote the practice of recycling. It all culminates in a whole bunch of activities and chances to volunteer on America Recycles Day when it finally arrives.

As you can probably imagine, there are tons of ways to take part, since so many cities and towns pledge their time to improving the reduce-reuse-recycle process. In honor of the 20th year of America Recycles Day here are five examples of how you can volunteer on America Recycles Day:

Book Swap: Honesdale, Pennsylvania

On Saturday, November 18, you can make your way to the Honesdale, Pennsylvania, Book Swap, where locals are encouraged to bring books they’ve already read or titles collecting dust on shelves and in attics. In exchange for handfuls, bags or cars full of books — brought to the site a few days before the swap — you can pick up new reads and bring them home. You can take as many as you want, too.

Plastic Bag Pick-Up: Chicago, IL

Chances are, you have tons of plastic bags laying around that you neither reuse nor recycle. The country has a massive plastic pollution problem, with 9 billion tons of plastic already produced and more being manufactured every day. It’s not a substance that can easily break down in landfills, either, which is why recycling it should be of the utmost importance.

As such, one school in Chicago will have a challenge amongst its homerooms to recycle as many clean plastic shopping bags as possible. You can challenge yourself to finally clean out your supply of bags, or spend the week surrounding America Recycles Day using only canvas or fabric shopping totes that are reusable. Setting up a bag-recycling challenge at your own school or place of work would be a great recycling effort, too.

Recycling Challenge: Charlotte, NC

Here’s another idea of a challenge you can replicate at your local school or even at your workplace. For a week, students at Bain Elementary in Charlotte, NC, are undertaking a recycling challenge where they hope to remove all recyclables from trashcans so that they’re properly reused.

Students will swap from other classrooms to objectively evaluate the trash left in the can: is it recyclable or not? Classes that dispose of trash and recyclables properly win points, and the overall winner at the end of the week gets a prize. This is a model that’s fun and informative and can be replicated in other establishments, too.

3R Bazaar: Woodlands, TX

The 3R Bazaar is a learning experience and a recycling opportunity all rolled into one. At the event, organizers will collect unusual recyclables, including eyeglasses, batteries, flip-flops, cell phones, yard signs and textiles. After dropping off your items, you can learn some reuse strategies of your own and pick up a few useful DIY ideas that’ll also be on display.

Keep Them Warm This Winter: Atlanta, GA

Old towels and blankets falling out of your linen closet? You can offload your extra, unused linens on the Atlanta Humane Society’s Mansell Office. There, they’ll be used — as you can probably guess — to keep animals warm throughout the cold winter months. We can pretty much guarantee you’ll feel good about recycling your older, well-loved items to help homeless pets.

These are just a few of the many, many ways you can get involved this America Recycles Day, November 15, 2017. With 2,400 registered events and counting you can find out how to register an event or how to volunteer on America Recycles Day on the website, there’s sure to be something near you that’ll give you the chance to help the earth first-hand.

Oceans

Why Have We Explored More of Outer Space Than the Ocean?

November 10, 2017
explored more of space than the ocean

You’d think we know more about the planet we live on than the vast openness of outer space, right? It makes sense, after all, we spend every waking hour on this Earth. Surely, we can’t have explored more of space than the ocean, right?

You might be surprised to find out that we can explain a whole lot more about space — at least the areas we know and can explore — than the ocean. How’s that for some food for thought?

Wait, what? We know more about space than the ocean?

Consider the Evidence

The ocean makes up 71 percent of the Earth’s surface, and yet a ridiculous 95 percent is completely unexplored by humans. When you put it that way, it seems much more plausible that unknown creatures — such as the Loch Ness monster — exist out there.

Since 1969, a total of 12 people have made the trip to the moon. Let’s compare that to the Marianas Trench — one of the deepest trenches in the ocean — which only a total of three people have explored. One of those three was filmmaker James Cameron who spent $10 million of his own money to finance the trip.

Of course, one could argue that the entire ocean floor has been mapped by imaging equipment. Technically, we know everything about the bottom of the sea floor, right? Except, the mapping hardware was only used at a resolution of up to five kilometers, or three miles. What does that mean? Well, anything larger than five kilometers has not been documented or mapped.

This means there’s still a lot— especially of smaller size — that we have yet to explore and uncover. Furthermore, no one has actually scoured every inch of the ocean floor. This is just imaging hardware and software we’re talking about here, so it’s entirely possible something was missed. You could make the same comparison for outer space, as we’ve only ever explored the local solar system. Sure, the Hubble telescope and similar equipment can give us a glimpse of faraway locations, but that’s all it is a quick glimpse. We don’t actually know what’s out there, just like we don’t know everything that’s beneath the ocean’s surface.

It does beg the question: Why do we know more about space, an alien plane than we do about our planet, or more specifically, the vast ocean that inhabits the Earth with us?

Why Don’t We Explore the Ocean?

For starters, there’s a lot of it to cover, and even though we’ve had the time and likely resources to do so, it would be incredibly expensive. Only about 0.05 percent of the ocean has been mapped with the highest resolution of sonar imaging. Why don’t we just do the rest?

Because it’s not that simple. Even more difficult to understand is the fact that we can’t get down there to explore with our eyes. In some places, the pressure of the ocean and gravity equals that of 50 jumbo jets resting right on top of you. And that’s before you even consider the fact that at great depths there is absolutely no visibility. It’s not just a matter of presenting a light source; it’s also about how far said light can stretch, which at the bottom of the ocean is not very far.

That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not happening. Already scientists and researchers are planning to map and explore the far reaches of the ocean floor. Thanks to modern technology the process can be much more efficient and accurate. We may even be able to locate valuable resources that can be retrieved for use back on the surface, such as copper, nickel, and cobalt.

It will, however, take quite a bit of time, dedication, and resources including money. More importantly, it will take a lot of scientists and researchers working together to achieve one common goal, but it may be possible that one day we will no longer have explored more of space than of the ocean.

Green Technology

5 Eco-Friendly Ways to Heat Your Home This Winter

November 6, 2017
eco-friendly ways to heat your home

Heating is expensive, time-consuming and often damaging to the earth, though during the cold months it’s necessary. Fortunately, there are some eco-friendly ways to heat your home throughout the winter:

1. Geothermal Heating

The first of the eco-friendly ways to heat your home is geothermal heating, which is arguably one of the most ambitious ways to embrace green living and the most costly. The average cost of installing geothermal heating is between $20,000 – $25,000. Additionally, you will need a nice plot of land, double the area that your home covers.

A major advantage of geothermal heating is that the system will work as a complete HVAC system. Geothermal heating works via a loop. Underground temperatures fluctuate much less than our atmosphere. In the summer the loop feeds in cold air from the ground to cool your home, and in the winter the loops feed in warm air from the ground to keep you toasty.

If you have the budget, this costly investment will pay for itself within a decade and has been proven to last for generations.

2. Solar Heating

Solar energy is plentiful and a great alternative to fossil fuel heating. Like geothermal heating, solar is a considerable investment.

While leasing solar panels may seem like an easier way to get started, the lease can affect the resale value of your home. It is costly to remove solar panels, and many buyers do not want an additional expense each month on top of a new mortgage.

Additionally, some buyers see solar panels as an eyesore. Fortunately, companies like Tesla are driving the market forward by creating solar roofs that have a traditional shingle look.

If buying solar panels or investing in a geothermal heating system is out of your price range, even after tax incentives, there are a few cheaper options to get you started. The best way to get started with making your home more eco-friendly is through small changes.

3. Pellet Stove

Budget pellet stoves start at about $1000 and are less costly to install than a traditional wood burning stove. They do not need a traditional chimney for ventilation and installation can occur wherever sidewall ventilation is available in your home.

More importantly, they are more efficient (between 70% – 80% EPA efficiency rating) and are an effective way to use organic waste that you can otherwise discard. If you never learned how to build a fire, the learning curve on a pellet stove is much more forgiving. Just light the pellets and enjoy the heat. Some models even have an automatic system.

One drawback to consider is that a pellet stove needs electricity to function. It’s best to have a backup option as winter storms can bring heavy snow and wind that bring down power lines.

4. Get Up and Move

It doesn’t get more eco-friendly than relying on your energy. Our resting heating temperatures in our homes have risen due to sedentary lifestyles and computer-focused work.

Sixty-five degrees is comfortable if you are moving throughout the day, though can give you a chill if you stay still. Schedule regular get up and move breaks to help keep yourself mobile, more focused, and to generate more heat. Being more active is the cheapest way to add more heat to your home at the bargain price of free, especially when combined with the other options here.

5. Radiant Floor Heating

With equipment installed under the floor, radiant floor heat offers a non-intrusive form of heating that offers considerable efficiency, since there’s no heat lost through ductwork. Radiant floor heat also operates more quietly and is less likely to distribute allergens than forced air systems. Contrary to the belief of some, radiant floor heat can install in already-constructed homes. Additionally, programmable thermostats and solar panels can be compatible with radiant floor heat.

Finding eco-friendly ways to heat your home can be efficient and won’t require you to sacrifice the comfort level in your home throughout the winter.

Wildlife

Why Do Animals Attack Humans in the Wild?

November 3, 2017
why do animals attack humans

Animals do attack people, but those instances are rare. The question that then arises is why do animals attack humans? Well, there are a number of reasons these attacks occur. The first reason is media sensationalism. Reports are made on every animal attack, no matter how minor, and made to seem as if they happen all the time.

The other reason is that we’re trying to protect and reintroduce species that were threatened or eliminated from areas. That often means we’re trying to reintroduce large carnivore populations to areas where people aren’t used to dealing with them. Animals will attack and for a variety of reasons. Knowing why can help you understand what not to do.

Human Ignorance

Much of the time when people get attacked, it’s our fault. Let’s face it, moose are cool and seeing one is something many people want to take a picture of. But there’s a big difference between taking a picture of a moose from far off and trying to get close enough to any wild animal for a selfie. Unfortunately, many of the people going out exploring don’t know that. They invade a wild animals space and get attacked as a result.

Mistaken Identity

This is the most common cause of shark attacks. The animal often thinks we’re food because we kind of look like it, and they can’t see us very well. Surfers are more likely to be attacked because the shape of a surfboard makes them look like a seal, which is the perfect meal for a variety of shark species.

The other issue is that some sharks come into shallower water than others. Bull sharks, especially, are known for preferring shallow, murky water and even venturing upstream into rivers. Occasionally, other sharks like the Great White will also take a trip inland, but none are known to do so as the bull shark does. When they attack, it’s usually because they either think we’re food, or they’re trying to see if we are.

Self-Preservation

Sometimes animals attack because they have to, or think they have to. There was a recent video that showed an opossum, North America’s only native marsupial, being beaten with a baseball bat by some students at a college. Humans have, traditionally, attacked wild animals first and taken no prisoners. This has left animals with a deep-seated fear of us, and an increased inclination to attack if they feel threatened or cornered.

Combating this particular effect is difficult. We can start by trying to change the way we think about wildlife and show more compassion toward them. Teaching people why animals are essential to our environment and how they experience pain and emotions similar to people can be a starting point to change some minds.

Confidence

Humans have effectively removed ourselves from the food chain. This is great in some ways. We don’t have to worry about being chased by wild animals on our commute to work, and we don’t usually have to go hunt down our prey for dinner after a long day crunching numbers. But in other ways, it makes us easy prey. We’re so unused to being hunted that when something does decide to have a go at us, we don’t usually put up a good fight. Various tiger attacks have shown that some animals learn to hunt humans.

We’re also large, as far as prey animals go. A 500-pound tiger can take us down with no problem, and we’ll provide a substantial meal for them. As we continue to meet up with wild animals, our sheltered lives can lead to trouble. We aren’t alert, we panic instead of fleeing or fighting, and we make for easy prey. In remote areas, being vigilant and moving in groups are our best defenses.

Expanding into New Territories

The human population is still growing. Developing nations have leveled off, and as China and India continue to develop a higher standard of living, their reproduction rates are also expected to stagnate. But there’s quite a bit of time before that happens, and those billions of new people need places to live.

As new homes are built, we can try to keep them in cities and already developed areas, but it’s not likely to happen everywhere. It’s inevitable that we will continue expanding and moving into new areas. As we do, we encounter new animals and increase chances of an attack. We have more laws in place now that protect some species, so we can’t simply kill populations because they’re in our way. We have to find new ways to deal with them, and that can mean we run a higher risk of getting attacked.

Wildlife will protect themselves, but they aren’t scary. It’s very rare that an animal learns to hunt people, and if they do, they are often killed as a result. Take care and be vigilant in the wilderness. You might save more lives than just your own.

Green Technology

Apps to Help You Live a Greener Lifestyle

October 30, 2017
Apps to Help you Live a Greener Lifestyle

The environment. A debate rages on in society about it. Whichever side you are on, saving the environment is hugely important. Every day, individuals make a choice. They might make an active choice and try and help clean the environment, or they may choose to do nothing.

But what if you want to do something? Where do you start? Luckily, there’s an app for that!

I’ve compiled a list of five apps to help you live a greener lifestyle.

1. Dropcountr

Do you know how much water you use every day? If not, don’t worry. Most people don’t. It’s easy to lose track of, considering you use water in a variety of tasks and activities every day. From laundry to cooking and using the restroom, water gets consumed.

This app tracks your water consumption. It shows you how much you use daily, weekly or even yearly. It’s a fantastic app that will open your eyes to the amount of water you go through. After using it, you’ll probably change your water consumption habits.

2. GoodGuide

Scavenger of cleaning supplies, the app gives you the information you may not have known about the product.

It provides you with a wonderful way to figure out how environmentally-friendly the products you buy every day are.

3. Carbon

people want to eliminate. But, what can you do to lower your carbon emissions

The Carbon app shows you roughly how much carbon you bring into the atmosphere. From there, your objective becomes lowering your score to help the environment. It’s a gamified app, meaning game-like aspects present themselves and make the app more fun than most.

Carbon also shows you which power plants you obtain your electricity from, which is a unique feature almost no other app gives you.

4. Oroeco

Eliminating your carbon footprint is impossible at this point. However, you can minimize it by implementing a variety of strategies, and Oroeco is an app that can help you accomplish this.

Answering a few questions tells you how you’re impacting climate change. Once you get your score, active strategies appear that show what you can do to improve your score and to minimize your impact on the fluctuating climate.

5. EWG’s Food Scores

You may be wondering what’s in your food. After all, you buy it from so many places that it’s difficult to pinpoint what is going into the production of it. Fear not, as this app appeases these concerns. First off, the app provides you with valuable nutritional information. However, the coolest aspect of the app is the contaminants section.

The app tells you the likelihood that your food is contaminated — not with anything particularly nasty, but it does show things like pesticides and hormones. If you like eating pure food, this app may be for you!

Go Green in Simple Ways

Apps can help you in so many ways. And these apps help you live a greener lifestyle. If you care about the environment, try out one, or all of them. You’ll be happy, and the environment will be happy too.

Wildlife

Why I Think Zoos Should No Longer Exist

October 27, 2017
Zoos Should No Longer Exist

Many of us probably have a trip to the zoo tucked away in our album of childhood memories. It was thrilling to see animals up close that we otherwise might never have seen in the wild. We were too little to worry about whether the animals were happy in their enclosures, and our parents were merely glad to see us having a good time.

But now we’re all grown up, and we can’t see zoos through the innocence of our childhood eyes anymore. We see them for what they really are — small, unnatural enclosures where animals become trapped their entire lives, surrounded by a species that has brought them more harm than good. So here are some of the reasons I think zoos should no longer exist.

Zoos’ “Good Deeds” Aren’t Worth It

I won’t ignore the fact that zoos have improved greatly over the centuries since the first modern zoo opened in Paris in 1793. Zoos have slowly evolved from existing solely for entertainment to becoming centers for research and conservation, where scientists can monitor animals up close. Many zoos register as charity organizations and use their profits to fund species conservation and research.

But as much as they try to rebrand themselves and improve conditions for the animals, the very structure of zoos will always keep them from becoming truly helpful. The costs and resources used to accommodate crowds of visitors are unavoidable — like lighting, water, park maintenance and waste management. Many zoos have taken green initiatives to reduce their consumption, but it can’t be eliminated completely — unless the zoos close.

And no matter how much zoos remodel enclosures, they can never match the conditions that animals would have in the wild. Space is the biggest problem because many zoos are in urban areas and simply can’t expand to make enough room. This issue is why many animal rights activists call zoos “prison for animals”. And many species also become stressed from the crowds surrounding their exhibit every day.

What Should We Do Instead?

The research and repopulation efforts that scientists and veterinarians practice in zoos can be performed just as well in wildlife preserves. So it’s better to send people to native zones than to keep animals in artificial enclosures thousands of miles away from their natural habitat. Humans can adapt much more easily to different climates and ecosystems, so it makes sense that we should relocate rather than the animals.

People often credit zoos for educating children about animals, but this isn’t something that will be lost if zoos close their gates. Kids must first learn to appreciate nature and its inhabitants at home and in school, or else they will become adults who don’t respect wildlife. And closing zoos doesn’t mean that kids will never get the opportunity to see exotic species in person. I’ll be the first to admit that seeing a rhino in a video online isn’t anything like seeing one up close. But many wildlife preserves and rehabilitation centers welcome visitors on tours that are much more eco-friendly.

How Can We Make the Change?

The first step is to promote the cause until zoos themselves are willing to make the change. We also have to remember the infeasibility of shutting down all the zoos in one day. We can’t ship the thousands of animals that have been born and raised in captivity to their native homelands and set them free. Experts in animal care will have to create a plan for phasing out human interference that will likely take decades to complete.

That may sound daunting, but that’s why the sooner we get started, the better. And someday people will learn about zoos in history books the way we learn about gladiators — as a barbaric practice in the name of entertainment.

Environment

The Whoas of Having an Eco-Friendly Halloween

October 23, 2017
Eco-Friendly Halloween

Halloween is almost here, which means everyone is running around grabbing costumes and yard decorations to prepare for a holiday that’s nearly everyone’s favorite. But have you ever stopped to wonder how Halloween can hurt the environment? This year, check out some traditions you can change up to create a fun, scary night — while also having an eco-friendly Halloween.

Reuse What You Can

The smartest thing you can do this Halloween to be safe and help the earth is to reuse anything you can. Wear an old costume or trade outfits with friends. Look around in thrift stores to find old clothes you may be able to repurpose into something new. Use grocery bags or old pillowcases to carry candy, or get creative with what you have around the house to add a creepy decorating theme to your holiday excitement. You won’t be introducing anything harmful to yourself or the environment, so you can relax and have fun.

Make Your Own Fake Blood

When you’re laying out that skeleton in your yard or hanging a creepy witch, you’re probably thinking about using some fake blood to make your decorations even scarier. What might be the scariest thing to consider is how opening a pack of fake blood could hurt you. There’s no question it has chemicals, but they’re meant to be used by people, so how could they be harmful?

Sometimes things get out of hand or become unpredictable, as experienced by one mother who used fake blood for her Halloween costume. Once she applied the product to her skin, she began to feel a burning sensation, and her skin quickly foamed and peeled, forcing her to go to the hospital. Instead of risking a situation like this, whip up a batch of fake blood out of corn syrup and food dye. It’ll still look great on decorations, and it’ll taste even better if used for a vampire costume.

What’s in That Face Paint?

Face paint is ubiquitous during the Halloween season. People paint themselves as ghosts and skeletons, without giving much thought to what they’re putting on their faces. A recent study found face paint meant for kids included dangerous chemicals like arsenic, lead and mercury were in face paint meant for kids. Not only is that a health risk, it’s also bad for the environment. When kids wash off that paint and watch the colors go down the drain, chemicals like lead can cause air pollution. Maybe skip the paint this year.

Check Your Tags

Your kids have picked out the perfect costumes and have their trick-or-treat bags ready to go, but make sure you know what your kids’ outfits are made from. Products made with fabric like polyester use an average of 70 million barrels of oil each year to make. That emits high levels of CO2 and gets trapped in the atmosphere, warming the earth. To avoid buying harmful products, make your costumes at home or use recycled bags or pillowcases to hold candy.

It might surprise you, but having an eco-friendly Halloween isn’t impossible. With a little bit of investigating, you can narrow down where you might be hurting the environment or yourself, then you just have to think outside the box to fix it. Ask friends for help, and encourage them to go green with you. After all, the planet needs to stay healthy for everyone, so make it a group effort this year to go green and help the environment.

Environment

How Did We Let Plastic Pollution Growth Reach Catastrophic Measures?

October 20, 2017
Plastic Pollution Growth

Plastic pollution in our bodies of water, along with global warming, may be the largest worldwide environmental threat we will face in the coming decades.

Stories of plastic islands the size of Texas have long permeated popular news sites and social media. However, these do not necessarily present an accurate assessment of how bad the situation is. So how bad is it?

The Problem of Plastic Pollution Growth

Here’s what we know. Throughout history, plastic production clocks in around 9 billion tons. Furthermore, production is on the rise. Plastic is one of the cheapest means for packaging and storing goods, and its usage has spread over the globe since its commercial debut in 1872.

Unfortunately, there are some major downsides to plastic production. While it is cheap and effective, the only effective means of disposal is recycling, a method that requires the collection and repurposing of plastic goods. Many plastic-producing nations around the world do not have adequate means for trash removal, much less developed recycling industries. In these countries, plastics find their way into waterways and into larger bodies of water and oceans. From there, tides transport plastics — often broken into much smaller pieces — all around the globe. Hence, floating, semi-solid patches of trash.

However, the blame does not rest solely on the production end. Movements in the US have begun criticizing the consumerist leanings that fuel this industry. For this overabundance of plastic production to occur, there needs to be demand. The U.S., in particular, contributes to this side of the problem.

Potential Solutions to Plastic Pollution

Efforts to clean up the oceans, and prevent the continuation of plastic pollution growth, face some significant challenges. First, it is difficult to remove plastics from the ocean. This may seem obvious, but the extent to which plastic has penetrated this environment is anything but.

Dredging plastics from the water can have harmful effects on the local environments, including the removal of important microorganisms — plankton, in particular. Plastic particles reaching microscopic sizes can be difficult to detect and even harder to remove. Further, the depth of the ocean makes this process of removal costly and, in some cases, impossible.

Local initiatives have focused on cleaning beaches instead, to prevent plastics from reaching the ocean in the first place. Still, given the staggering amount of plastic produced and discarded every day, efforts have been only partially successful. Some options allow for the safe monitoring of plastic pollution in local waterways.

As previously mentioned, there have also been social efforts to curb the dependence on plastic products in consumer nations. This confronts the greater problem of increased globalization and consumerism around the world. The growth of plastic production indicates this trend as more nations become capable of plastic production and create a greater market for finished plastic products through consumerist ideals.

Efforts to push social norms away from this direction are comparatively recent, and the impact they will have on the world stage is not yet clear. Still, some cities around the U.S. have taken the first steps in banning the use of certain wasteful plastic materials.

A Look Forward

The next few years will be instrumental in determining how to stop the momemtum of plastic pollution growth. If beachfront cleanup efforts and social movements eschewing consumerism continue to gain steam, plastic pollution may become a figment of the past. That being said, if the current trend in plastic production continues, we may pass a point of no return. Plastic is notoriously difficult to remove from the oceans and waterways — the plastic already littering the oceans will not disappear on its own for thousands of years, if that. This level of production is not sustainable and something needs to be done.