Celebrate Earth Day - Veggie Style

by Tracy Rohland

With more than 6 billion people living on planet earth using her water, her oil, her plants and her air, she is very overwhelmed. She is desperately hoping that we, the people who traverse her soil on a daily basis, will be more courteous and careful.

April 22 is Earth Day, a perfect opportunity to salute Mother Earth and remember how vital it is that we take care of her.

In 1970, Senator Gaylord Nelson founded the first annual Earth Day, kicking off the grassroots environmental movement in America and around the world. Since the founding of Earth Day, environmental issues have been brought to the forefront of politics and the media. People around the world have become more aware of the human impact on the environment and more conscientious about their individual roles in maintaining the health of the environment. Vehicle emission restrictions have become stricter, recycling has become a household activity, sewage treatment has drastically improved, and hundreds of thousands of people have eliminated meat products from their diet. The transition to a vegetarian diet is a practical way that every person can work to make a brighter future for the planet.

In recent years, many studies have been done comparing the environmental impact of a meat-based diet to a vegetarian diet. All of these studies conclude that raising animals for slaughter is a deplorable waste of resources. According to Professor David Pimentel of Cornell University's Ecology Department, it takes 500 liters of water to produce 1kg of potatoes, 900 liters per kg of wheat, 3,500 liters per kg of digestible chicken flesh and an incredible 100,000 liters for 1kg of beef. The pollution of water sources is also a huge problem with meat companies. Furthermore, the amount of grain that is grown to feed livestock could solve the famine problem of the world.

In her book, The State of the Environment Atlas, Joni Seager states, 'In cycling our grain through livestock, we waste 90 percent of its protein and 96 percent of its calories. An acre of cereal can produce five times more protein than an acre devoted to meat production; and legumes (beans, lentils, peas) can produce ten times as much. Thus the greater the human consumption of animal products, the fewer people can be fed.

Raising animals for slaughter also affects the air we breathe. An estimated 100 million tons of methane (12 percent – 15 percent of all methane emissions) are released into the atmosphere each year by cattle, contributing significantly to global warming. All over the world, ranchers will cut down expanses of forest for cattle ranching, let the animals graze for a few years, then leave the once fruitful land, barren and worthless. When hamburgers are two for a dollar, it is easy to ignore the actual cost to our planet and future generations, but it is critical that we consider this before it is too late.

A vegetarian diet is the healthiest and most efficient means of producing food. Since 1977, Down To Earth has been committed to promoting vegetarianism, healthy living, respect for the environment, and sustainable organic farming. This Earth Day, make a choice that will better your own health, the health of Mother Earth, and the health of generations to come – go veggie.

What’s good for your health is good for the planet!

October is Vegetarian Awareness Month, so it is fitting and proper that we take time to reflect on vegetarian values and what they mean to individuals, and to our environment.

For many, it means giving up meat and fish due to moral objections to killing animals, or objection to the brutal and inhumane ways in which animals are kept, treated, and killed for food, merely to satisfy unnecessary cravings to eat flesh and blood. With increasing interest in healthy food, many people are also becoming vegetarian because it is compatible with the low-fat, high-fiber diet recommended by dieticians and doctors. Concern about the environment is another factor, as people become increasingly aware of the negative environmental effects of raising animals for meat. This is particularly so as people become increasingly aware that going vegetarian is the best way an individual can reduce global warming.

Against this backdrop, many people prefer an organic, natural foods lifestyle because the best tasting and healthiest foods are free of pesticides and artificial chemicals, which also means they’re best for the environment. That’s why organic and natural foods, supplements and body-care products from Down to Earth are all-vegetarian, free of artificial flavors, color, and preservatives; and why they are minimally processed.

In short, what’s good for your health is good for the planet!

So, this month is the perfect time for vegetarians—and those moving towards plant-based diets—to think about and celebrate healthy, compassionate food choices. Perhaps it will stir the hearts and souls of those thinking about vegetarianism to give meatless fare a try (even for a day) and learn about its many benefits.

The simple act of choosing vegetarian meals is a powerful force for positive change, not only for the individual but also for friends, family, our community, and our entire planet. Therefore, recognizing and celebrating Vegetarian Awareness Month is a wonderful opportunity to help others learn about the many benefits of vegetarianism, such as:

  • Saving animals from suffering in factory farm conditions and from painful slaughter
  • Reducing the risk of major killers like heart disease, stroke and cancers
  • Reducing global warming (According to the United Nations, raising animals for food generates more greenhouse gases than all the cars and trucks in the world combined.
  • Offering a viable answer to feeding the world's hungry, through more efficient use of grains and other crops
  • Conserving vital, but limited freshwater, fertile topsoil and other precious resources
  • Preserving irreplaceable ecosystems, such as rainforests and other wildlife habitats

Here are a few suggestions for how vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike can celebrate Vegetarian Awareness Month:

  • Host a meatless meal or potluck for your vegetarian or non-vegetarian friends
  • Eat meat-free for a day or throughout the month
  • Learn more about how a vegetarian diet can benefit you personally
  • Discuss vegetarianism with your family and friends
  • Eat meatless meals more regularly
  • Try the meatless options available at Down to Earth’s vegetarian deli
  • Attend one of Down to Earth’s free vegetarian cooking classes or vegetarian nutrition classes (for info call 947-3249)

Vegetarian Awareness Month was founded by the North American Vegetarian Society in 1977 and it was endorsed by the International Vegetarian union in 1978.

Footnotes: 

“Livestock a major threat to environment,” United Nations FAO Newsroom, Nov. 29, 2006: http://www.fao.org/newsroom/en/news/2006/1000448/index.html

Vegetarian Diet is Healthier, Greener, Compassionate

by Mark Fergusson, Down To Earth CEO

What if you could take a pill that would improve your health, save the environment, and awaken your spirit of compassion ...would you do it? The idea is not as far fetched as you might think. One of the most effective means to achieve all this is by adopting a vegetarian diet. October is Vegetarian Awareness Month, so it is a good time to reflect on the ethical, environmental, health, and humanitarian benefits of a vegetarian lifestyle. The personal health benefits alone are huge, and the benefits of a shift towards a vegetarian diet by society at large are staggering.

Better for Your Health

Consider health. Virtually all the major scientific and medical institutions in the world agree that the risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and a host of other diseases is increased by consuming a meat-based diet consisting of highly processed foods laden with fats and artificial ingredients. These institutions further agree that the risk is greatly reduced by adopting a healthy low-fat, high-fiber diet. This result is best achieved by adopting a healthy vegetarian diet consisting of organic produce and natural foods. A vegetarian diet is not only good for one’s personal health; it’s also good for the nation’s economy. Just five diet-related chronic diseases cost the U.S. economy a staggering $864 billion each year! This is an estimate of direct medical costs and the indirect impact of productivity losses due to illness and premature death associated with cardiovascular disease and stroke, obesity, osteoarthritis and osteoporosis, cancer, and diabetes. This is an annual outlay of nearly one trillion dollars! By comparison, it makes the one-time $700 billion Wall Street bailout seem small. If we worried about our health as much as the bailout, perhaps we would all have healthier and happier lives and help the US economy!

Better for the Environment

In contrast, the negative consequences of a meat-based diet are playing out dramatically on the environmental front. In its stunning 2006 report on global warming, the United Nations stated that raising animals for food generates more greenhouse gases than all the cars and trucks in the world combined.1 When emissions from land use are included, the livestock sector accounts for 9 percent of carbon dioxide (CO2) from human-related activities, but produces a larger share of even more harmful greenhouse gases.2 Livestock generates 37 percent of the total methane, which is 23 times as warming as CO2 produced by human activity.2 It also generates 65 percent of human-related nitrous oxide, which has 300 times the global warming potential of CO2. Most of these gases come from animal manure and belching!3 Adopting a vegetarian diet could reduce greenhouse gases from this source by 100 percent with little negative impact.4 Similar cuts in carbon dioxide are virtually impossible without having a potentially devastating impact on the economy. Even with implementation of the most ambitious strategies, emissions would be cut by less than half. Furthermore, methane cycles out of the atmosphere in just eight years so lowering methane emissions would translate to cooling the earth quickly. The root issue causing global warming is over consumption. A modest American household consumes [as a standard] far more natural resources than the world can support on a sustainable basis.5 The spread of such a lifestyle to the rest of the planet is not feasible. This is particularly true of a meat-based diet, which damages the environment more than just about anything else that we do. Whether it's unchecked air or water pollution, soil erosion, or the overuse of resources, raising animals for food is wreaking havoc on the Earth. In contrast, plant-based diets have a low environmental impact because they use fewer natural resources, so they are better for the environment. Nature has provided ample vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes and dairy products for human sustenance, so eating meat is an unnecessary luxury rather than a necessity.

For the Sake of the Innocent Animals

Each year in the United States, multi billions of animals are inhumanely raised in hellish factory farm conditions and approximately ten billion land animals are cruelly and brutally slaughtered for human consumption. Given the horrific suffering these animals endure, and given that all our nutritional needs can easily be satisfied without eating these animals, vegetarianism is morally required. The fact is that eating animals is unnecessary because nature has provided ample vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes and dairy products for human sustenance. Therefore, the cruel slaughter of animals for food is a luxury rather than a necessity and is morally wrong. Animals on today's factory farms have no legal protection from cruelty that would be illegal if it were inflicted on dogs or cats. Yet, farmed animals are no less intelligent or capable of feeling pain than are the dogs and cats we cherish as companions. In this regard, a vegetarian lifestyle awakens our innate spirit of compassion and guides us towards a kinder, gentler society in which we exercise a moral choice to protect animals—not exploit them. For all these reasons, I submit that the single most important thing an individual can do for their health, for the environment, and for the sake of the innocent animals is to adopt a vegetarian diet. A vegetarian diet contributes to better health and a cleaner and safer environment while causing less pain and suffering for the innocent animals. Down to Earth’s slogan is “Love Life!” -based on the idea that it is good to love animals, not eat them.

Footnotes: 
  1. “Livestock a major threat to environment,” United Nations FAO Newsroom, Nov. 29, 2006: http://www.fao.org/newsroom/en/news/2006/1000448/index.html
  2. Ibid
  3. Ibid
  4. Earth Save, EarthSave Report: A New Global Warming Strategy: How Environmentalists are Overlooking Vegetarianism as the Most Effective Tool Against Climate Change in Our Lifetimes,” Noam Mohr, Aug. 2005: http://earthsave.org/globalwarming.htm
  5. “Energy and Sustainable Development,” Berkley Energy Center, City of Berkley, CA: http://www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/energy_and_sustainable_development/

Want to reduce global warming? Be a vegetarian

by Mark Fergusson, Down To Earth CEO

Everyone is talking about so-called “green” solutions. It is a lucrative business for many companies. Not all these solutions are as useful as one would think.

The World Bank stated last week that the massive switch to growing corn for ethanol is a "significant contributor" to soaring food prices around the world,1 as land that used to grow food crops is now being converted to growing “fuel” crops. The trend towards plant-based plastics is also taking up farmland, putting additional pressure on food supply.

The Bottle Bill, which created new taxes and unreasonable burdens on consumers, has not been cost-efficient in any way and has had a limited impact on recycling. Energy-efficient light bulbs contain mercury, so they cannot be disposed of easily. Other examples abound. As we think about going “green,” many people would be surprised to learn that adopting a vegetarian diet is the single most important thing a person can do to reduce their personal impact on the environment. It is the fastest path to reducing global warming with no negative impacts.

In its stunning 2006 report on global warming, the United Nations stated that raising animals for food generates more greenhouse gases than all the cars and trucks in the world combined.2 When emissions from land use are included, the livestock sector accounts for 9 percent of carbon dioxide (CO2) from human-related activities, but produces a larger share of even more harmful greenhouse gases.3

Livestock generates 37 percent of the total methane, which is 23 times as warming as CO2 produced by human activity.4 It also generates 65 percent of human-related nitrous oxide, which has 300 times the global warming potential of CO2. Most of these gases come from animal manure!5

Adopting a vegetarian diet could reduce greenhouse gases from this source by 100 percent with little negative impact.6 Similar cuts in carbon dioxide are virtually impossible without having a potentially devastating impact on the economy. Even with implementation of the most ambitious strategies, emissions would be cut by less than half. Furthermore, methane cycles out of the atmosphere in just eight years so lowering methane emissions would translate to cooling the earth quickly.

The root issue causing global warming is overconsumption. A modest American household consumes [as a standard] far more natural resources than the world can support on a sustainable basis.7 The spread of such a lifestyle to the rest of the planet is not feasible. This is particularly true of a meat-based diet, which damages the environment more than just about anything else that we do.

Whether it's unchecked air or water pollution, soil erosion, or the overuse of resources, raising animals for food is wreaking havoc on the Earth. In contrast, plant-based diets have a low environmental impact because they use fewer natural resources, so they are better for the environment. Nature has provided ample vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes and dairy products for human sustenance, so eating meat is an unnecessary luxury rather than a necessity.

The single most important thing an individual can do to reduce global warming—and to do it faster and more efficiently than by any other means—is to adopt a vegetarian diet. A vegetarian diet contributes to a cleaner and safer environment and better health while causing less pain and suffering for the innocent animals.

Footnotes: 

Article originally published in Pacific Business News (Honolulu, April 18, 2008)

References:

  1. “World Bank Chief: Biofuels Boosting Food Prices,” National Public Radio, April 11, 2008: https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=89545855
  2. “Livestock a major threat to environment,” United Nations FAO Newsroom, Nov. 29, 2006: http://www.fao.org/newsroom/en/news/2006/1000448/index.html
  3. “Livestock a major threat to environment,” United Nations FAO Newsroom, Nov. 29, 2006: http://www.fao.org/newsroom/en/news/2006/1000448/index.html
  4. Ibid
  5. Ibid.
  6. Earth Save, EarthSave Report: A New Global Warming Strategy: How Environmentalists are Overlooking Vegetarianism as the Most Effective Tool Against Climate Change in Our Lifetimes,” Noam Mohr, Aug. 2005: http://earthsave.org/globalwarming.htm
  7. “Energy and Sustainable Development,” Berkley Energy Center, City of Berkley, CA: http://www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/energy_and_sustainable_development/

The "True" Inconvenient Truth

by Frank Santana

The quickest and most effective way to reduce global warming will come through diet change, according to a letter that the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) sent to Al Gore . PETA wrote that his film, An Inconvenient Truth “...failed to address the fact that the meat industry is the largest contributor to greenhouse-gas emissions.”

Their argument has teeth.

In its 2006 report "Livestock’s Long Shadow: Environmental Issues and Options," the United Nations said raising animals for food generates more greenhouse gases than all the cars and trucks in the world combined.1 A similar finding came from a report by researchers at the University of Chicago, who announced that switching to a vegan diet is more effective in countering global warming than switching from a standard American car to a Toyota Prius. 2 3

PETA reminded Gore that his critics love to question whether he practices what he preaches. By going vegetarian, they said, he could cut down on his contribution to global warming and silence his critics at the same time.

Given all the concern Gore is stirring up about green house gasses, he might take a bit of advice from our friends at PETA. He could have a veggie burger next time he cooks up a meal in that energy-inefficient mansion he resides in.

"The single best thing that any of us can do to for our health, for animals, and for the environment is to go vegetarian," says PETA President Ingrid E. Newkirk. "The best and easiest way for Mr. Gore to show his critics that he’s truly committed to fighting global warming is to kick his meat habit immediately." 4

To date, there has been no report of Gore responding to PETA’s letter. However, given the increasing scientific and government information coming out, he may eventually face the reality that vegetarianism is a practical, efficient, and responsible way that every citizen can do their part to reduce global warming.

Other reports along similar lines suggest that this argument will soon become part of the mainstream discussion on global warming. For example:

  • While there is a lot of focus on how the CO2 emissions from automobiles may impact global warming, a recent Japanese study reported in New Scientist magazine shows that producing 2.2lb of beef generates as much greenhouse gas as driving a car non-stop for three hours. 5
  • It was recently reported that an official from the Environmental Agency in the UK acknowledged that the “potential benefit of a vegan diet in terms of climate impact could be very significant, (but) encouraging the public to take a lifestyle decision as substantial as becoming vegan would be a request few are likely to take up.” The director of a UK Vegetarian group made a very good point in response, saying "I think it is extraordinary that a Government agency thinks becoming a vegetarian or vegan could have such a positive impact for the environment yet it is not prepared to stand up and argue the case." 6

CNN/Glenn Beck Report: Al Gore ignores warning about impact of eating meat on global warming

Footnotes: 
  1. Livestock a major threat to environment,” United Nations FAO Newsroom, Nov. 29, 2006.
  2. "Meat-Eaters Aiding Global Warming? New Research Suggests What You Eat as Important as What You Drive,” ABC News, April 19, 2006.
  3. “Earth Interactions, Department of the Geophysical Sciences, University of Chicago, Dec. 12, 2005.
  4. Clearing Up a Few Things with Al Gore,” PETA Media Center, March 7, 2007.
  5. Eating beef 'is less green than driving,” Telegraph.co.uk, July 19, 2007.
  6. "Go vegan to help climate, says Government,” Telegraph,co.uk, May 30, 2007.

Vegetarian Solution - Part 1

by Michael Bond

The choice to become a vegetarian is one of the most positive, far-reaching decisions you can make to impact your personal health and the health of the environment. The reasons to choose a vegetarian lifestyle are as diverse as they are compelling. The arguments against being a vegetarian are, for the most part, based on myths, tradition (i.e. because people were raised a certain way), and the economic and political interests of those who profit from the sales of meat. If you are reading this article, you are already a part of the vegetarian solution by becoming more aware of the impact of your choices. Even if we are preaching to the choir and you have already chosen vegetarianism, knowledge of what we will be discussing in this series may help secure your decision and help you to lovingly convince others that they should consider doing the same.

If you are not already vegetarian (or even if you are), being exposed to the harsh reality of the real cost of meat is enough to make anyone feel uncomfortable. By “real cost” we are referring to the physical, environment, and economical costs that are not factored in to those 99 cent cheeseburgers. We are talking about the unclean, inhumane, and utterly repulsive treatment of millions of helpless animals each year. We are talking about the contaminated and dwindling water supplies. We are talking about the destruction of tens of thousands of acres of rainforests. And we are talking about a population suffering from diseases of excess (such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes) while simultaneously suffering from malnutrition. The real cost of our society’s addiction to meat is enormous, but all of these problems, and more, can be remedied by the vegetarian solution.

But to truly embrace the vegetarian solution, we must have the willingness to see the truth, no matter how unpleasant in may be. For most of us, to be happier, healthier, and to contribute to the overall well-being of animals, humanity, and the planet we live on, change is necessary. We should not be afraid of being made to feel uncomfortable by seeing the reality of what is happening in the world around us. Our lives will actually start to change for the better when we experience this uncomfortable awareness. When we look beneath the surface, rather than blindly accepting what we are taught in schools or through the media, it can awaken our desire to change and our determination that we can make a difference. By realizing and accepting the consequences of our choices and taking responsibility for the impact we have on the planet and all of its creatures, we can begin to solve many of the problems we face in the world today.

Stay tuned for the part two of the Vegetarian Solution, as we explore these issues in more detail.

Footnotes: 

At Down to Earth, we have held true to our values and our vegetarian commitment for over 25 years. Vegetarianism is a choice each of us can make to improve our health and the health of the environment and we feel it is our duty to educate people about the countless benefits of a plant-based diet.

If you would like to become a vegetarian, but are not sure where to start, we will do everything we can to help you. Come to our free vegetarian nutrition classes and vegetarian cooking classes, take a guided tour of our store, and be sure to take advantage of the awesome vegetarian recipes on our website.

Vegetarian Solution - Part 3

by Michael Bond

Sustainability is more than a trendy buzzword, it is a common sense guide to how we can live in harmony with the environment and our fellow citizens of planet Earth. There is a saying, “The Earth is able to provide for everyone’s needs, but not everyone’s greed.” An example of this is the typical American meat-based diet, which is becoming increasing popular around the world. The problem with the growing worldwide demand for meat is that there are not enough resources to allow everyone in the world to eat as much meat as Americans do. In fact, while there is certainly enough food grown in the world to feed every person, there are more than 800 million people suffering from hunger. A big part of the problem is the amount of land and resources dedicated to raising animals for slaughter. It takes up to 16 pounds of grain to produce just 1 pound of edible animal flesh. That is 16 pounds of food that could be grown to feed people, but is instead being used to feed animals. To appreciate just how unsustainable a meat-based diet is, we must look at what is happening on a global scale. To support their meat habit, industrialized countries export huge amounts of grain to developing countries, who in turn use it to produce meat, which is then exported back to those industrialized countries. Because of this trend, the much more efficient plant-based agricultural model that was once the norm in developing countries is being replaced by intensive livestock rearing – and less food being grown for the people of those countries. These statistics are quite telling:

  • If everyone on Earth received 25 percent of his or her calories from animal products, only 3.2 billion people could be nourished. If everyone ate a vegetarian diet, there would be more than enough food to nourish the world's entire population—more than 6.3 billion people. 1
  • An acre of land used to raise cattle for slaughter produces about 20 pounds of usable protein. If soybeans were grown on that same acre, more than 17 times the amount of protein could be produced.2
  • If we added up all the land on Earth that is suitable for farming and divided it equally among the entire population, each person would get about 2/3 of an acre. To feed a vegan, it only takes about 1/6 of an acre of land, yet to feed a meat-eater, it takes nearly 3 1/4 acres of land. 3

We do not expect everyone in the world to become a vegetarian (even though it is a nice thought), but even if a small percentage switched to a plant-based diet it would result in saving land and water resources to help the population of the world to live in a much more sustainable manner.

Footnotes: 
  1. Vegan Outreach, "Try Vegetarian!" Feb. 2004.
  2. Robert Goodland, "The Westernization of Diets: The Assessment of Impacts in Developing Countries"
  3. John Robbins, M.D., The Food Revolution, Conari Press: Boston, 2001

Reducing Waste For Our Mother

by Michele McKay

It is no surprise that the United States is the leading consumer society in the world. Most Americans have become accustomed to living by the motto, “Out with the old, and in with the new.” But wastefulness definitely takes a toll on the health of the earth, as well as the health of its inhabitants. So, we invite you to celebrate Earth Day with Down to Earth by taking action to reduce waste, reduce water and energy consumption, and help protect our planet. Curbing Waste: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle The United States produces half of the world’s garbage, but has only 6 percent of the world’s population. We can make improvements by using the three R’s:

Reduce

  • Bring your own bags to the store.
  • Buy food in bulk, not individual servings.
  • Put leftovers and bag lunches in reusable containers.
  • Cut back on fast-food meals – they pollute more than your arteries!
  • Use mugs rather than styrofoam cups for hot drinks.
  • Use cloth towels and napkins, washable utensils, etc.
  • Get off junk mail lists – 100 million trees are cut each year for junk mail. Contact the Direct Marketing Assn: www.dmaconsumers.org/offmailinglist.html

Reuse

  • Buy reusable personal and household items.
  • Shop for second hand clothing, furniture, and other items.
  • Donate used goods to charities, day-care centers, or thrift shops.

Recycle

  • Take newspapers, cardboard, bottles, cans, and plastic containers to recycling drop-off locations.
  • Get a nickel back for deposit bottles and cans at statewide redemption centers.

Saving Energy

  • When you leave a room, turn out the lights.
  • Replace incandescent bulbs with fluorescents.
  • Turn the A/C down or off, clean filters regularly, and use a fan to keep cool.
  • Keep computer and TV time to a minimum.
  • Keep the fridge door open for as short a time as possible.
  • Cut down on driving – carpool, walk, bike, or take public transportation.
  • Consider a gas-electric hybrid when making your next vehicle purchase.

Cutting Water Use

  • Take shorter showers and install water-saving showerheads.
  • Turn off the faucet while brushing teeth or shaving.
  • Fix dripping faucets and silent toilet leaks.
  • Fill a gallon plastic bottle with water and place it in the toilet tank – this can save 5,000 gallons of water a year!
  • Only run the dishwasher when it is full.
  • Landscape with drought-tolerant plants, use mulch, and adjust sprinklers.

Making Eco-friendly Choices

  • Go veggie! A vegetarian diet is one of the single best ways to help the planet.
  • Support locally grown, organic products.
  • Use non-toxic cleaners – avoid products containing phosphates and chlorine.
  • Dispose of hazardous waste properly – this includes motor oil, coolant, transmission fluid, paint products, insecticides, and herbicides.
  • Don’t use poisonous pesticides and herbicides – choose natural alternatives.
  • Spay and neuter pets – one female cat and her offspring can produce 420,000 kittens in only 7 years.
  • Invest in socially and environmentally responsible mutual funds or companies.
  • Learn about the ecosystems in your area to help make informed decisions.

Saving Our Mother

by Tracy Rohland

Mother Earth has taken a beating when it comes to her health and appearance. The destruction of woodlands, the pollution of beaches and oceans, and the depletion of the ozone layer are making it increasingly difficult for her. People often take for granted the abundance of resources that are reaped from the earth and forget that it is everyone’s responsibility to take care of the world in which we live. Though many may feel powerless to halt the destruction of the earth, there are small contributions that can help maintain the health of the planet. This Earth Day, everyone should remember the three "Rs": Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. You may have heard this catchy phrase before, but few people actually apply to their everyday lives, although it is a much easier accomplishment than one might think.

Reduce

The first "R" is the basic concept of conservation. Producing less waste in the first place can make a huge difference in the amount of reusing and recycling that happens later on. Try to be mindful of the ways that you can reduce your waste production throughout the day. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Make double-sided copies and prints.
  • Try to format your documents in such a way as to fit more text on one piece of paper.
  • Buy or make your own cloth napkins instead of using paper ones.
  • Pack lunches in Tupperware containers rather than baggies.
  • Clean your floor the old-fashioned way – with a broom and a mop. Resist the urge to use convenient disposable wipes that are popular these days. They create a huge amount of unnecessary waste.
  • Use only the amount of paper towels or toilet paper that you need – people tend to get a little carried away with this and cutting back here and there will go a long way.

Don’t forget about reducing water and gas usage also:

  • Shortening the time of a shower by even one minute can save many gallons of water in the long run.
  • Invest in a low flow toilet.
  • Don’t be a gutter-flooder. If it rains the night before, remember to turn your sprinklers off the next day, or get a rain gauge to regulate when the sprinklers come on.
  • Walk, ride a bike, or use public transportation whenever possible to reduce the amount of gas your car consumes and pollutants it emits.

Reuse

Many of the things included in "Reduce," like the cloth napkins and Tupperware containers, can in turn be "Reused." Below are a few more suggestions:

  • At Down to Earth, customers are encouraged to reuse plastic bags or bring their own reusable canvas bags. For every bag that customers reuse, Down To Earth rewards them with 5 cents off their purchase.
  • Down to Earth also encourages customers to reuse plastic containers, like those for nut butters, syrup, and honey.
  • Refill water and juice bottles.
  • Cut up junk mail or paper that would otherwise be thrown out and use it as scratch paper to leave notes and phone messages on.

Recycle

The final step in closing the loop. Often confused with reusing, recycling is the act of reprocessing things like paper, glass, and aluminum into new products. If your community does not have a recycling program, take action to start one up. Contact your city councilman to find out about implementing a program or find out where you can take your recyclables. Finally, respect the appearance of Mother Earth. DO NOT throw trash on the ground. If there is not a trash can convenient, just hold it or put it in your pocket until you find one. Litter is a huge problem for wildlife. Birds, fish, and other animals get caught in plastic bags and soda can rings and can choke on small pieces of trash. Plus, trash makes parks and beaches less appealing. Do not let your carelessness destroy living creatures and habitats.

Make Every day Earth Day by Dreaming of a 'Green' Christmas

by Michele McKay

The holiday season is a time of giving and receiving, but not many people think about what they can give back to Mother Earth. This year you can make your holiday celebrations eco-friendly – and in return, you will receive the knowledge that you have helped make your home and the planet a ‘greener’ place.

The holidays can be extra tough on the environment: extra waste is generated from packaging and wrappers, more gas is burned on shopping trips, and many megawatts of energy go into light displays. Celebrate the planet this year with these eco-friendly holiday tips:

  • Enjoy delicious, healthy holiday feasts vegetarian-style… no other single action causes more environmental destruction than raising animals for slaughter. Need recipes? Find them at www.downtoearth.org.
  • Just say “no” to wrapping paper. Decorate and reuse shopping bags, magazine pages, newspaper, tissue paper, boxes, tins, cloth… you name it.
  • Give ‘wrapperless’ and non-consuming gifts. How about a donation to a favorite charity or an ‘adoption’ program that helps endangered species or ecosystems? Or give the gift of an experience – a special meal or a ticket to an attraction/performance/event.
  • Make your own greeting cards from used materials, or go paperless altogether by phoning loved ones or sending electronic greetings.
  • Use canvas or ‘reused’ bags from home when shopping.
  • Save gas by combining shopping trips or by doing your shopping online.
  • Cut energy consumption by reducing the display time of your holiday lights.
  • Buy recycled. Purchase gifts or cards that are made of recycled materials. Look for the green ‘chasing arrows’ on packages, and support the companies that are making waste into new goods.
  • Recharge. If you are giving something that requires batteries, include rechargeable batteries and a charger with the gift.
  • Reduce, reuse, recycle in holiday entertaining. Go with reusable dinnerware and cloth napkins, and recycle your beverage and other containers.
  • Have your Christmas tree chipped and composted. On O’ahu call 692-5410 or visit www.opala.org for more information. On Maui call 270-7874.
  • Or… here in the Islands it is easy to find an alternative to a cut tree. Live trees will bring years of enjoyment when planted outside after the holidays. Or get creative and decorate a beautiful tropical plant that can live indoors or outdoors.

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