Archive for August, 2008
One universal trait among the Earthkeepers we know is a genuine love of the outdoors – and one of the best ways we know to ensure a growing breed of Earthkeepers is to pass that love on to the next generation.
While that sounds fairly intuitive, a Kaiser Family Foundation study reveals that the average American child spends more than 6 hours a day staring at some sort of electronic screen (think TV, computers, video games). As they become more connected to modern technology, our children are becoming increasingly disconnected from nature.
Fortunately, organizations like the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) and the Outdoor Foundation have created campaigns to fight “nature deficit disorder” and reinforce the importance of outdoor experiences in the lives of our children:
- The Outdoor Foundation’s “I Will” campaign asks supporters to pledge to take at least two kids outside to experience an outdoor activity over the course of the next year. The campaign launched earlier this month when more than 2,500 members of the Outdoor Industry Association took the pledge during the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, and is now open to the general public.
- The NWF’s “Green Hour” program suggests a greater commitment – an hour a day for kids to experience unstructured play and interaction with the natural world – but recognizes that even a few minutes a day is an improvement in the life of a child who has lots of “screen time” but no “green time.”
The impact of global warming won’t end with our generation – and efforts to combat it can’t end here, either. Take the I Will pledge, find a green hour, get out – and take a budding Earthkeeper with you. You’ll both be glad you did.
So you’re not big on tree planting, can’t figure out carbon offsetting and aren’t ready to retire your current vehicle for a bicycle or hybrid. Let go of the guilt and remember – even small steps can help to save the world.
Take, for example, reusable shopping bags – they’ve never been more accessible (most grocery stores display them conveniently close to the check-out counters) or affordable (many places charge a buck a bag and some even discount your grocery bill if you use them). We like the fact that they’re sturdy and hold about twice as much as a standard plastic grocery bag, which means less trips between the car and the kitchen … plus when they’re not doing grocery duty, the reusable bags are great for hauling everything from beach towels and bug spray to snacks and sweatshirts.
If you’re still not sold on the virtues of reusable shopping bags, you might read this award-winning article from Best Life magazine about the Pacific Ocean’s “Eastern Garbage Patch” – a stew of plastic trash twice the size of Texas that endangers sea life and humans alike. Or, check out Squawkfox’s list of 50 Reasons to Go Green with Reusable Shopping Bags.
Here’s to making the question “paper or plastic?” obsolete.
Alarming graph comparison of plastic resin production vs. percentage of plastic recycled, courtesy of Best Life magazine.
One more reason to love America’s favorite pastime:
Major League Baseball is joining forces with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) to support and coordinate environmental stewardship efforts in virtually every Major League Baseball club across the US. Under the collaborative “Team Greening Program,” Major League clubs will be able to share best environmental practices and information on everything from offsetting carbon emissions from team travel to establishing recycling programs and incorporating environmental language into contracts and purchasing policies.
Our own Earthkeeper Heroes on the Big Green Bus took time out from their cross-country tour to talk with Dr. Allen Hershkowitz, Senior Scientist for the NRDC, about the Major League Baseball partnership … and the incredible potential for environmental education and impact that lives within our nation’s greatest ballparks.
Click here to read Big Green Bus blogger Andrew Zabel’s reflections on the inspiring conversation … and visit the NRDC Greening Advisor™ website for more information about how your favorite team is working to go green.
- eco-village (also known as the place Reverb does some of its best work)
- carbon footprint (calculate yours here)
- food miles (as in, the fewer food miles between your dinner’s origin and your kitchen, the better)
The fact that environmental terms like these are working their way into mainstream culture and language is a positive sign; awareness begets action … and action creates impact.
If the Chambers dictionary editors are open to suggestions for the 12th edition, we’ve got one: it’s a 12-letter word that starts with “E” and means, “keepers of the earth” …
A few weeks ago, we posted about the need for less “stuff” in our world (and in our landfills … and in our closets) and making sure the stuff we do have is more durable than disposable.
It’s a great premise … but eventually we outgrow some of even the most durable stuff and then what? Are you destined to have a garage full of old toys, electronics, chipped plates and dusty lamps because you don’t want to add them to the dump pile?
Not by a long shot. The online recycling community is growing every day – and just as one person’s trash is another’s treasure, there’s an online swap site for virtually everything you need (or, need to get rid of). Freecycle is perhaps one of the best-known and most widespread online recycling networks, with an estimated 5 ½ million members and more than 4,000 “communities” across the globe, and many other “mainstream” options exist, including:
- Craigslist.org (most items are for sale but there is a free section)
In addition, there are specialty swap sites for everything from college textbooks (socialbib.com) to children’s toys and gear (zwaggle.com) to music, DVDs and video games (swaptree.com). We even found one where you can swap that gift card you received for the store you never shop at for another gift card you might actually use (swapagift.com).
Swapping puts your used stuff where it can do the most good – in the hands of someone who needs it – rather than in a landfill. (Plus, it makes space in your house for the 3 things you find on Freecycle that you suddenly can’t live without.)
Our thanks to the Lean Green Family for inspiring this post and reminding us that it’s better to give than to throw away.
The Olympic spirit is alive and well in Qingdao … but six weeks ago, it was uncertain whether this coastal city in east China would in fact be clean enough to serve as the official sailing venue for the 2008 Summer Olympics.
At the end of June, Qingdao was suffering from an outbreak of thick algae that affected 5,000 square miles along the city’s coastline – too thick even for boats to cut through. Experts say the “algal bloom” is likely the result of recent heavy rains, pollution and climate change.
Algae on the coastine of Qingdao. AP photograph.
Here’s the bright side to the story: Agent 350 (our own Earthkeeper Hero), was in China to witness the algae outbreak – as well as the subsequent cleanup effort by more than ten thousand local residents. You can read Agent 350’s account of the experience here.
Chinese fishing boats have cleared 100,000 tons of algae. EPA photograph.
Whether the Qingdao cleanup effort came about as the result of Olympic pride (or shame), or because of government mandate or Olympic committee pressure – one thing’s for certain: the result is a testament to the limitless power and potential of engaged citizens. An estimated one thousand fishing boats helped to remove more than 100,000 tons of algae from Qingdao’s waters … restoring the city’s harbor in time for the Olympic fleets to safely sail.
While our own Earthkeeper heroes Reverb are hard at work this summer greening concert tours and educating music fans across the US about environmental sustainability, similar efforts to green the music scene are creating a positive impact in other parts of the world.
In recent years, event planners have gone to great lengths to make the popular music festival less environmentally-impactful by encouraging attendees to recycle their waste and personal belongings traditionally abandoned at the end of the 4-day event (over 1,600 sleeping bags were donated to the homeless after a recent Roskilde Festival) and by offering additional incentives in the form of a cash refund for cups, cardboard and drink containers returned to collection stands. It is estimated that an astounding 97% of cups used at Roskilde’s concession stands are brought back for recycling … and many attendees have recouped the cost of their ticket while helping to keep the environment clean.