Things We Each Can Do To Protect our EARTH, our Environment, and our Ecosystems

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Since our well being and survival as a species, and for that matter, all species, is dependent upon the well-being of the Earth, caring for the Earth and its life support systems is imperative.  Simply put, a finite system cannot produce forever.  Preserving the life supporting aspects of the planet that can be “sustained” shouldn’t be a matter of debate.  Reducing our Carbon and Ecological Footprint to as close to zero should be our primary consideration in protecting the Earth for future generations.

To provide perspective on the need to work towards the sustainability of the planet, consider that the world’s population is currently growing at a rate of 85 million people per year.  Put another way, that’s 232,000 people added to the planet every 24 hours or 232,000 more mouths to feed every day.  By the year 2100 (in a little over 80 years) there will be 32 billion humans on the planet.  One can see that with this kind of exponential growth, our failure to develop an economy based on protecting and sustaining resources, as opposed to cannibalizing the planet, is something we can’t afford to keep ignoring or deliberating over.  If we don’t begin sustaining the natural world, our consumption of its finite, natural resources will have an end game scenario that is fairly predictable.

Since every material possession we have is a manipulation of the natural world, then a large percentage of what we purchase is recyclable. Almost 65% of what goes out to the curb and is subsequently sent to a landfill, can be recycled. Newspapers, aluminum cans, glass, aluminum foil, aluminum pans, electronics, batteries, motor oil, plastics 1–7 and on and on, can all be recycled. Some recycling companies do have stipulations with respect to what plastics they will accept for recycling . . . . . so checking with the waste management company covering your community may be a good idea.

In a recent conversation with a follower of my blog, she shared with me, that although she really enjoys the topics I have expounded upon she would like a “To Do List” streamlining what we can do on an individual level for the sustainability of the planet. Her suggestion did not go without consideration. I don’t know that this particular blog really requires much more of an introduction than that.  So here goes, in no particular order, a list of considerations in preserving the Earth for future generations:  Let me start by saying . . .

THE SINGLE GREATEST THING ANY OF US CAN DO TO MINIMIZE OUR IMPACT ON THE EARTH IS TO AVOID POLLUTING IT AS MUCH AS WE CAN.  THE KEY IS TO MINIMIZE THE WASTE WE EACH PRODUCE!!!!

One of the single best ways to really reduce waste and make purchases that are relatively benign in terms of any negative impact on our eco-systems, is to shop with the largest online Wellness Company, MELALEUCA.

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Melaleuca is a consumer direct company that utilizes “green” practices, “just in time” manufacturing and shipping techniques, produces 85% less waste than traditional manufacturers, and deliver their products directly to your doorstep.  One UPS truck delivering products to 100 houses produces considerably less of a carbon footprint than 100 people driving to the store for their weekly consumables.

What makes this company so unique, is they have an entirely different business model and philosophy than traditional companies.  They do no advertising, despite being a $2 billion a year completely debt free company, a Better Business Bureau triple A rated company, a Fortune Inc. “Hall of Famer,” and a Fortune 100 Company.  Why is that important to know?  Last year, P&G sunk $30 billion (yes that’s billion) into advertising alone.  Who do you think pays for that?  Correct!  We do.

Melaleuca relies on referral marketing, because they believe they can spend that kind of money better by sinking it into research and development and making better, safer products, making it possible for families to live clean and protect the environment by combining the best of nature and the best of science.

All Melaleuca products feature natural, biodegradable ingredients like tea tree oil and thyme oil to disinfect surfaces, citric acid to remove hard water stains, plant enzymes to clean dishes, and to gently release tough stains from laundry.  They have no safety caps on any of  their products because none of their products are caustic, carcinogenic, mutagenic, toxic, or poisonous.  Their products use no bleach, ammonia, phosphates, formaldahyde, phthalates, triclosan, or any other caustic or carcinogenic ingredients.

Their products are far more efficacious than traditional store bought products from other large corporations loaded with inexpensive, harmful, synthetic chemicals that are well documented as being carcinogenic, and found in so many household cleaners, personal care products, skin care products, and dental products.

Specializing in health and wellness, Melaleuca manufactures over 450+ health and  wellness products, nutritional supplements, cleaning products, beauty and personal care products, make up, skin care, and other non-grocery consumable items that your family is purchasing week in and week out.

Melaleuca does not ship water in any of their products.  Why is that important?  They are very concentrated (containing no water), which means we are protecting entire eco-systems by NOT depleting a water table in one part of the country, by shipping water to tens of thousands of locations all over the country. This preserves the local ecosystems in Idaho where Melaleuca is based, and saves tremendously on packaging by manufacturing much smaller bottles and containers, eliminating up to 85% of the manufacturing and distribution costs and waste produced by other companies, which means considerably less waste going to landfills.  With only 41% of Americans recycling, that means most of the waste produced by commerce and consumption in our society, ends up in a landfill.

Because we are eliminating this waste and the subsequent costs, Melaleuca can offer their customers superior products with better ingredients for far less than the cost of what consumers are paying for the same category of products at the grocery store, and they’re shipped directly to your doorstep which provides convenience. Hours are no longer wasted driving to and from the store, walking up and down store aisles, and waiting in line to check out.

To learn more visit:  www.melaleuca.com

Because their entire business model is predicated on referral marketing, email me at david@shiftethos.com and I can show you how to open a shopping account with them.

Opening a shopping account with Melaleuca would be a good start, but there’s sooooooo much more we can do in becoming good stewards of the planet.

Another company that shares a very similar vision is a Norwegian Company called Norwex.

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In celebration of their 20th anniversary in 2015, the company expanded their Mission:

Improving quality of life by radically reducing chemicals in our homes which is the same mission as Melaleuca.  The primary difference between the two companies is what they offer.  Though there is some overlap, Melaleuca is more about health, wellness, and nutritional products, whereas NORWEX is more about practical cleaning utensils, towels, mittens, etc.

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The water droplet—part of the Norwex legacy from the beginning—signifies purity and no harmful chemicals.  The leaf reflects their commitment to protect nature and the environment.  The home symbolizes their Mission to create safe havens around the world.  The circle represents the global nature of their Mission and Vision.  Together, they stand as a powerful symbol of what Norwex represents.

To visit their website click here:   https://norwex.biz

Shopping with both these companies will go a long way in minimizing you negative impact on the planet….

But to go beyond what these 2 companies can do in minimizing out impact on the planet, let’s start by talking about Recycling . . .

RECYCLING is a great first step . . . but only a “first step.” 

What do I mean by that?

As someone who tries to recycle almost everything, I will always be an advocate for recycling as opposed to not recycling and that’s because almost everything can be recycled in some capacity.  But even recycling is still adding to the problem.  That’s because most plastics can only be recycled for two generations i.e.. twice.  Beyond that they lose their adhesive qualities which necessitates making more.  The real aim is to avoid plastic all together as much as possible.

But since plastic is nearly impossible to avoid, let’s recycle…Why?

Well, let’s just start by stating that Americans throw away enough garbage everyday to fill 63,000 garbage trucks. To look at that from a more personal perspective, within a given lifetime, the average American will personally throw away approximately more than 600 times his or her body weight, which for an average adult would leave a legacy of 90,000 pounds of trash at the end of their lifetime. Of the garbage Americans throw out, more than half of it can be recycled, which is enough to fill a football stadium from top to bottom everyday.  That just sucks for the planet!

Of these recyclables, Americans throw away enough aluminum to rebuild the world’s entire commercial air fleet every three months, enough steel to reconstruct Manhattan, and enough wood and paper to heat 5 million homes for 200 years.  So as you can see, recycling is a great way to make a significant difference.  But beyond recycling glass, plastics, and paper, so much more can be recycled . . . .

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If an item has a plug, uses batteries, needs charging or has the above picture of a crossed out wheelie bin on it – it can be recycled.

When it comes to recycling, I think it’s important to discuss the single biggest culprits of man made pollution:  PLASTIC!!!

ONE OF THE BEST DECISIONS WE CAN MAKE TO PROTECT THE ENVIRONMENT IS TO AVOID USING PLASTIC AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE:    ESPECIALLY “SINGLE USE PLASTIC”

An entire exposé could be written on the chemically hazardous properties of plastics.  Plastic and its disposal should literally be treated as a toxic, bio-hazardous waste material.  This is not exaggerative.  To learn more read my blog on plastic titled:  IGNORANCE, ARROGANCE, NEGLECT AND CONSEQUENCES: THE STORY OF PLASTIC, OCEANS, AND OUR SURVIVAL.

Recycling plastic in general is a bit of a sticky subject.  It’s an enormous problem because plastic is an enormous industry.

It’s unfortunate, but our concept of recycling is somewhat misguided because the rather malleable public mind has been psychological conditioned into believing that recycling is preventing, circumventing, or fixing the problem created by plastic waste.  That’s because our entire perspective of recycling plastics has been created by the very companies who’s livelihood is dependent upon it.  Companies like Coca-Cola and Pepsi for example, create the image of caring, and in a very feeble way, encourage people to recycle, but this is all nothing more than “Green Washing” the public.  It’s marketing, nothing more.  It creates a good image as a company that cares about the environment, but they really don’t. How do I know?  Because their entire industry is predicated on selling consumers “throw away” beverage containers.  Every bottle that is thrown away just means that they have to make more . . . and they’re all to happy to.  Can you imagine a world where the only Coke or Pepsi available to the public came from fountain dispensers, and each consumer had to bring their own container or glass?  They want us throwing away our little plastic bottle so they can sell us more.

Again, recycling is something that makes us feel a little better by doing something “green.” We believe that as stewards of the Earth and the  Environment we’re doing something good, but all of our efforts are really only slowing the problem, not fixing or avoiding it.  That’s because most plastics can only be recycled approximately 2 – 3 times before it loses all of its adhesive properties and its ability to be molded or fashioned into anything useful.  So even though we may choose to recycle plastic, we’re still ultimately creating waste.  We’re just postponing the problem a little.

Another problem with “recycling” plastic is that very few recycling facilities currently recycle all the plastic they collect.  Fortunately, here in Cincinnati, the burning of the Rumpke Recycling facility 3 years ago, lead to the building of a $32 million single source facility that set the high mark in our country.  Now considered to be at the apex of recycling facilities, this facility is setting a new precedent in the industry.

Unfortunately, most facilities can only repurpose about 20% of the plastics they collect for resale on the open market, so recycling is not enough, because even if we are recycling, sadly, about 80% of the plastic we purchase is still producing waste.

The best decision we can make is to “Refuse” anything plastic, as much as possible.  We are allowed to say no at the grocery store when they start putting our groceries in plastic bags.  If you are without reusable shopping bags, choose paper bags which are least biodegradable, so that in the event that they would end up in a landfill they will not harm the environment when they decompose.   It is my hope that the paper bag would be recycled and never make it to the landfill.  Here’s hoping!

Avoid using or purchasing any plastic items.  Choosing NOT to use plastic grocery bags at the checkout counter of the grocery store has an enormous impact on the environment.

Over 350,000 marine mammals are killed each and every year by either eating plastic or by becoming entangled in it, including:  dolphins, whales, sea lions, seals, along with countless species of fish.  Approximately 100,000 sea turtles are killed every year by attempting to ingest plastic bags which are mistaken for their main source of food, jelly fish.  And over 1.2 million sea birds die every year from ingesting plastic.

Every organism in the ocean is affected by the presence of this plastic, in every depth of the ocean. We are finding micro plastic in krill and all the way up through the food chain in the bellies of whales and seabirds.  Even if you don’t live near the ocean, you’re not off the hook (no pun intended).  We’re all contributing to this!!!

Once making its way to a landfill, wind currents often pick up plastic bags and carry them for miles, and deposit them in waterways such as streams, tributaries, and rivers that eventually carry the plastic to the ocean.

Because the photo-decomposition of plastic is incredibly slow, depending on the type, it can take between 450 – 1000 years to photo-degrade.  In that time frame one plastic bag can kill multiple marine animals because once ingested, the decomposing body of the animal releases the plastic bag where it can be ingested again killing another sea animal.

If the threat was only to sea creatures, the threat would be bad enough but now the threat is to our own children.  Studies performed at the University of California – Santa Barbara, have now found that these microscopic polymers once ingested diffuse into the tissues of fish and other animals, and ultimately are then absorbed by humans who ingest them.  These microscopic toxins that are a concentration of approximately 10,000 times the chemical in its natural state, find their way back up the food chain and ultimately wind up back in our bodies as a toxic foreign body in our tissues.  Again, to learn more read my blog on plastic titled: IGNORANCE, ARROGANCE, NEGLECT AND CONSEQUENCES. THE STORY OF PLASTIC, OCEANS, AND OUR SURVIVAL

In addition, these plastics leach oils and chemicals into the oceans that are harmful for marine life and also contribute to the declining numbers of fish populations. Oceanic studies have now identified over 200+ “dead zones” in the world’s oceans where no marine life lives.

We are literally creating a toxic planet with plastics.  Please avoid their use as much as possible…..

PLEASE REFUSE TO USE ANY PLASTIC BAGS!!!!

The average American throws away over 500 plastic bags annually and worldwide we throw away approximately 1.7 trillion a year.  Please do your part to avoid their use.

CHOOSE TODAY TO STOP PURCHASING PLASTIC WATER BOTTLES!!!!

Instead use reusable water bottles. Companies like BRITA and BOBBLE make reusable water bottles with carbon filters for drinking pure filtered water. Each filter can filter the equivalent of 300-350 water bottles.

But by far and away, the best filtered water bottle currently available is the CLEARLY FILTERED STAINLESS STEEL water bottle.  Whereas Brita will filter out chorine, some pesticides, and antibiotics, only Clearly Filtered removes all heavy metals including even Fluoride.  Check out their website here:  www.clearlyfiltered.com

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AVOID THE USE OF ANY TOOTHPASTE, GEL, FACIAL WASH, OR BODY SCRUB CONTAINING PLASTIC “MICRO BEADS!!!!”

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The issue with microbeads is that they do not biodegrade.  These plastics undergo photo-degradation and breakdown into neustronic plastics, or plastics that at the molecular level are ingested and absorbed into the tissues of fish, thus entering our food chain, where we ingest them.  Once in their tissues and subsequently in ours there is no removing from our bodies.  The chemicals such as dioxins, BPA, and many more, are carcinogenic.

Since we’re talking about Toothpaste . . . . What to do with an empty tube of Toothpaste?

Tom’s Terracycle is a division of TOM’S OF MAINE the maker of toothpaste made from all natural ingredients.  They make a whole myriad of products all using all natural ingredients.  But what makes this company so unique is their devotion to the environment and not compromising on their ethics when it comes to protecting the environment and the Earth’s life supporting eco-systems.

This company doesn’t just use environmentally responsible packaging and strive to maximize the recycled and recyclability of their packaging, but they’ve also developed a recycling program called the TOM’s NATURAL CARE BRIGADE TERRACYCLE COLLECTION PROGRAM where they are trying to become a zero waste company.  They not only accept the return of all their products but also accept any company’s products or packaging that make tubes of toothpaste, plastic deodorant dispensers, liquid soap bottles, etc.  How cool is that!!!!!

I keep all of my used toothpaste tubes, deodorant containers/dispensers, etc. in a container that, when full, is shipped back to TOM’s of MAINE Terracycle Program.  To learn more visit:   http://www.tomsofmaine.com/planet/overlay/TerraCycle

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AVOID THE USE OF POLYSTYRENE (OTHERWISE KNOWN AS STYROFOAM)

This is a movement that is rapidly gaining momentum.  Numerous states and hundreds of cities have banned, literally outlawed the purchase, use, or possession of styrofoam.  For obvious reasons.  It’s plastic…..   For a complete list of cities and states that have banned styrofoam click on the link below:

http://www.groundswell.org/map-which-cities-have-banned-plastic-foam/

WHEN SHOPPING!!!! Bring your own bags with you. Whether shopping at the grocery store or shopping at the MALL, bringing your own bags prevents plastic from ever having a chance of finding its way back into the environment.  Several eco-friendly companies create and sell reusable home, kitchen, produce and grocery bags made from all natural, organic materials.  Best part is when using these, we produce no waste.  Some of my favorites include:

Simple Ecology:  http://www.simpleecology.com

Ecobags: http://www.ecobags.com

Carry Green: https://www.carrygreen.com

WHEN SHIPPING!!!! USE “ECO-FRIENDLY” BIO-DEGRADABLE (VEGETABLE BASED) PACKAGING PEANUTS AND OTHER PACKAGING MATERIALS. These are packaging materials made of vegetable oil and starch, that to dispose of can simply have water added to them, where they dissolve entirely and pose no threat to the environment.

VIRTUALLY ALL PAPER and  BOOKS CAN BE RECYCLED

If you’re like me, nothing can replace a book.  I write notes in the margin of every book I read so I can reference things later.  Thankfully, I’ve learned to recycle just about everything, but for those that really like them, perhaps something like a Kindle, Nook, or any other tablet providing ebooks is a far more ecologically responsible way to prevent waste.

LOVE COFFEE???

Kuerig along with some other coffee machine makers have made single serve coffee makers a staple in almost every household and business.  I used to own one, but I sent it to the recycling plant where its parts will all be repurposed.  The biggest design flaw in all of these coffee machines though, is the disposable plastic cups that contain the coffee, which are placed in the machine and disposed of after the water has filtered through.  The problem is that the plastic the K-cups are made of is virtually impossible to recycle.  Consider a few hundred million Americans alone having a cup or two of coffee everyday with their Keurig.  THAT’S A LOT OF WASTE!!!!!  In 2014 Americans threw away approximately 9 billion K-cups.

How bad is this problem?  John Sylvan the inventor of the Keurig Coffee Maker doesn’t even own one.  It’s gone on to be the biggest regret of his life, knowing now the amount of waste his coffee makers produce.  No longer the owner of the company, he has tried to get the company to do something about the catastrophic amount of waste the K-cups produce, but in his own words, “they don’t want to listen.”  To read more about John Sylvan’s dilemma and the issues surrounding the use of your Keurig click here:

http://www.businessinsider.com/k-cup-inventor-john-sylvans-regret-2015-3

There are a number of alternatives to producing so much waste.  Companies like Keurig themselves make reusable cups for their coffee machines along with a whole host of others.  But you will still probably want to kick your Keurig to the curb (that is to say, recycle it).  This article will certainly fill in the blanks of all the health risks associated with the use of your Keurig.

Apart from being environmentally responsible, click here to see another reason why you may want to kick your Keurig to the Curb anyway:

http://getbetterwellness.com/?p=6503

In short, Keurig.com states, “Once your Keurig home brewer has been primed, you cannot empty the water from the inside. The internal tank of the brewer cannot be drained.”

Biofilms are found wherever there is water and a surface to stick to (like your shower curtain).  The rubber tubing and the internal tank of the Keurig cannot be drained. It is more than likely that bacteria and mold are happily living inside that hidden water tank where it is nice and dark and warm. Another mold-magnet is that black rubber ring on the bottom of the exterior water container.

Plastic K Cups Conundrum

The Plastic

The K Cup is a composite plastic, #7. Although this is technically BPA-free the chemicals from the composite plastic are not safe and they still have estrogenic activity. As long as I’m mentioning fake estrogens coming from the plastic in your K Cup, don’t make a bad situation worse by adding soy milk to your coffee!  The effects of prolonged intake of soy are well documented.

The Cups Are Non-Recyclable

This is a big problem for the environment since we have seen an explosion in the use of single cup coffee makers, like Keurig, in the last few years. MotherJones.com reported, over 8.3 billion K Cups a year are discarded, enough to circle the earth 10.5 times!

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An alternative to Keurig is to purchase a French Press, a Turkish Coffee Pot, or a percolator.  There is no waste associated with these approaches to making coffee….So easy to use, even our monkey above is using a French Press.  I love mine.

I purchased a French Press after retiring my Keurig and it was the best decision ever.  Now I grind fresh coffee beans every morning, place the grinds in the bottom of the french press, add boiling water, let it sit for 3 minutes, press it, and viola!  Incredibly awesome tasting coffee that tastes better than any pre-packaged grinds.  That’s because what’s in your Keurig K-cups has been sitting in those boxes for months before it ever makes it to a store’s shelf and to your mouth.

It takes 2 minutes to bring water to a boil in my tea kettle and I have a fresh cup of coffee with 5-6 minutes.  My Keurig saved me maybe 3 minutes in the morning (and yes I timed it) but at the expense of creating a lot of unnecessary waste and with the added risk of exposure to estrogenic chemicals and bio-slime in the tubing.  Now I produce no waste and best of all I compost my coffee grinds or pour them over the base of all the plants in my yard where they make a great fertilizer.

Saran Wrap?

A great alternative to using plastic saran wrap to preserve leftovers are the Charles Viancin Lilipad Silicon Lids.  I love these and use them at my house.  These reusable, ingenious lids, create an airtight seal that can be applied to mixing bowls, glasses, cups, etc. (see images below) and replace the throw away saran wrap which ultimately ends up in a land fill.  They can be purchased on amazon.com, ebay.comwww.livinginnovative.comwww.surlatable.com, and various other websites.

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Another great eco-friendly alternative to saran wrap and throw away Glad Ziplock Bags that I use, is Bee’s Wrap a beeswax and cloth food storage alternative.   I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this stuff and routinely wrap a sandwich, cheese, vegetables, or anything else I would otherwise wrap in saran wrap and again, create no waste.  You can even  use it to cover a bowl!

Use the warmth of your hands to mold the bee’s wrap, sealing the top of a bowl, half of a lemon, the end of a crusty loaf of bread, or wrap a piece of cheese.  When cool the wrap stiffens holding its shape and seal…unwrap and reuse over and over.

Visit www.beeswrap.com for details.  It can be purchased at their website or on various other websites such as: www.amazon.com, www.ebay.com, www.williams-sonoma.comwww.thegrommet.com/Bees-Wrap, and many other websites.  I purchased mine from a vendor selling it at Findley Market in Cincinnati (a national monument that is like a ginormous Farmers Market only it’s been around for like 100 years).

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TRY USING “PHOSPHATE FREE” DETERGENTS

Phosphates help to remove food and grease, reduce spotting and filming, control water hardness and suspend the bits of food so they were not redistributed on your dishes. That’s the upside! But phosphates which are used to support the growth of plants in gardening, fosters the growth of algae. When too much phosphate is present, excessive amounts of algae can develop. This may lead to undesirable water quality impacts including reductions in aquatic life, poor taste and odors in drinking water.

Alternatives to Using Static Free Dryer Sheets

None of us like our clothes to have static, so by necessity dryer sheets are almost a must.  The unfortunate side of doing so means, that these chemically treated sheets end up in a landfill, creating more waste and consumption, not sustainability.

Fortunately, a company called Woolzies, has found a 100% eco-friendly solution to that dilemma by creating Woolzies natural dryer balls that produce no waste.

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Regular fabric softener’s both in liquid and sheet form contain numerous first chemicals which are toxic to the environment and even more dangerous to many people who have serious allergic reactions to them. The elderly and small children can suffer from a variety of negative symptoms which are really just allergic reactions to the harsh chemicals contained in these chemical fabric softening products.

“Woolzies are pure handmade New Zealand wool dryer balls that soften your laundry naturally without any of the chemicals of conventional fabric softeners. Unlike the plastic dryer balls, they are PVC free and won’t fall apart or melt on you.

  • Because Woolzies bounce around in your dryer, they naturally separate and create space between your laundry, thereby allowing the hot dryer air to circulate better and subsequently cut down on drying time by about 25% in large load in 35 to 40% in small loads. This of course saves both time and money for you and energy for the environment.
  • They dramatically reduce static and wrinkles.
  • Use Woolzies to snuggle up with naturally downy soft laundry that’s completely free of harmful chemicals.
  • Woolzies are also hypo-allergenic and totally safe for people with wool sensitivities as they will not shed onto your laundry.
  • Unlike even natural dryer sheets and liquid fabric softeners, Woolzies last for 1,000 loads and are therefore extremely eco friendly.

So why risk your health and waste your money with regular fabric softeners when you can save time, energy and money with all natural pure Woolzies!”

You can purchase them and other environmentally friendly products at their website:  www.woolzies.com

Of course, an alternative is to make your own.  A google search will provide you with a number of websites that teach you how to do so….

CONSIDER THE USE OF REUSABLE SOAP NUTS INSTEAD OF COMMERCIAL DETERGENTS

A metamorphosis in both personal and household cleaning has occurred over time. From ancient Ayurvedic shampoos and hair treatments to the best 100% organic modern scouring powder, soap nuts are making an indelible mark upon history. We are watching a worldwide paradigm shift towards effective, healthier and eco friendly natural soaps and cleaners in process. And it’s one P&G is not going to be happy about.

Soap Nuts (soap berries) are the fruit of the Chinese Soap Berry Tree. These amazing berries are harvested and then sun dried. Soap nuts are found in both the eastern and western hemispheres, but are native to India and Nepal. They have recently become a popular environmentally friendly alternative to chemical detergent, and are a gentle option for those with allergies to chemicals in regular detergents. The drupes (soapnuts) contain saponins which are a natural surfactant. They have been used for washing for thousands of years by native peoples in Asia as well as Native Americans. The soap nut shell absorbs water and releases the saponins which circulate as a natural surfactant in the wash water, freeing dirt, grime, and oils from clothing.

Some  benefits of our Whole Organic Raw Soap Nuts (with seed) include:

● Reusable up to 4-6 times for laundry
● Hypoallergenic, fragrance free, eco-friendly, biodegradable & organic
● Low sudsing – perfect for high efficiency (he) washers
● Free of synthetic chemicals, fillers, toxins, dyes & perfumes
● Ideal for cloth cotton diaper laundering

And best of all, used soap nuts can be composted, so there’s no environmental waste.

If purchased in powder form, it uses can be expanded to include being used as a scouring powder (better than Comet), a shampoo and scalp treatment, Tea and  Coffee maker cleaner, and countless other uses.

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To learn more or purchase, here is an awesome resource:

www.soapnuts.pro

USE ECO-FRIENDLY CLEANSERS, SOAPS, AND DETERGENTS

All of these are cleaning products that are biodegradable, non-toxic, contain no phosphate and have hundreds of uses.  They are safe around children and animals (and most if not all meet all PETA Standards).  Because these are so safe, I use a cloth to clean my kitchen counters, stove, table, etc and simply run water through it when I’m done.  I ring it out and use it again and again.  This prevents me from generating waste with the use of paper towels which I rarely ever use anymore.

CONSIDER INSTALLING A BIDET

One of the best decisions I’ve ever made.  Every year 15 million trees are cut down worldwide to make toilet paper.  Though a novel idea to Americans, bidet’s are quite common throughout the rest of the world.  Cleaning your bum with a bidet is not only far more hygienic than wiping, it prevents the loss of countless trees and the clear cutting of entire forests.

If the idea of increased freshness and less irritation doesn’t appeal to you, consider this: Americans use close to 8 million tons of toilet paper every year,7 and forests are being destroyed to keep up with this demand. As reported by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC):8

“Giant paper producers are forcing the destruction of our continent’s most vibrant forests, and devastating the habitat for countless wildlife species in the process.

Instead of making better use of materials such as post-consumer recycled fiber and agricultural residue to meet the escalating demand for toilet paper, paper towels and other disposable tissue products, these companies buy virgin pulp from suppliers that reach deep into North American forests for timber, from northern Canada to the southeastern United States.”

If every US household replaced even one roll of virgin fiber toilet paper with one made from 100% recycled fibers, 423,900 trees would be saved.9  You can also opt to choose toilet paper sourced from forests certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.

However, even toilet paper that comes from specially planted tree plantations is not a sustainable choice in the long run, as these single-species plantations cannot compare with the species-rich forests that have formed a natural habitat for centuries.

Aside from the waste, the process of bleaching toilet paper white leads to the creation of cancer-causing chemicals like dioxins and furans, which not only enter the air but also waterways, soil, and the food chain. Exposure to even low levels of dioxins has been linked to hormone alterations, immune system impairments, reduced fertility, birth defects, and other reproductive problems. – Source: Mercola.com

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AVOID THE USE OF HOUSEHOLD PESTICIDES 

If you really must kill insects, fly swatters do a pretty good job.  Personally, I don’t ever kill bugs.  On the occasion that one finds its way into my house, I simply get toilet paper that allows me to very gently pick it up without crushing it, and I simply take it outside and release it.

CONSIDER DITCHING YOUR FAVORITE SHAMPOO AND USING BAKING SODA AND APPLE CIDER VINEGAR.  SOUND CRAZY?  

Google this and see the countless articles written about people who not only were completely skeptical, but who will never go back.  Their hair is actually healthier, fuller, and more vibrant than it ever was with even the most expensive shampoo’s . . . .

How to do it?  Take a bottle and fill it with half baking soda, half water. Then take another bottle and fill it with half apple-cider vinegar, half water. Keep the bottles in your shower. This seems to be the optimal level of dilution—not too basic, not too acidic (though of course all our individual scalps have their own unique balance of oils, fungus, and bacteria). Shake before using as the materials will separate. Use as much as you need.

For both the baking soda and vinegar steps of the process, focus on the roots of your hair, not the tips.  You will be amazed at how much better your hair feels and looks.

And no!  Your hair will NOT smell like vinegar….

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE!  DON’T EVER POUR HAZARDOUS MATERIALS DOWN THE DRAIN OR IN THE ENVIRONMENT

Ultimately these chemicals find there way into our water tables and water ways where their presence kills fish and wildlife.

MOTOR OIL AND OIL FILTERS CAN BE RECYCLED

All oil changing facilities, mechanic garages, or motor part retail facilities will properly recycle motor oil.

Used oil can contain contaminants such as lead, magnesium, copper, zinc, chromium, arsenic, cadmium and chlorinated compounds.  Used motor oil represents more than 40 percent of the oil pollution in our country’s waterways.  One gallon of used motor oil can pollute one million gallons of drinking water. Don’t pour used motor oil down the drain or on the ground. Used oil is easy to recycle. It can be re-refined into motor oil.  Even after draining, used oil filters contain about 10 ounces of used oil, as well as one pound of reusable steel.  Just to show the impact of us collectively doing this consider that the oil filters sold annually in California alone could be recycled into 67 million pounds of steel, which is enough steel to build three large football stadiums!  Recycle your used oil filter at any of these service stations.

Auto Zone     800-288-6966

Accepts up to 5 gallons of motor oil per day. Also accepts car batteries. Call prior to dropping off.
http://www.autozone.com

NAPA Auto Parts     800-538-6272

Accepts motor oil from residents. Also accepts car, boat, motorcycle batteries. Call prior to dropping off.
http://www.napaonline.com

Pep Boys    800-737-2697

Accepts up to 5 quarts of motor oil per customer per day. Also accepts car batteries. Call prior to dropping off.
http://www.pepboys.com

Wal-Mart Tire & Lube    1-800-WALMART

Accepts up to 5 gallons of motor oil per day. Also accepts car batteries and tires (charge). Call prior to dropping off.
http://www.walmart.com

BATTERIES (INCLUDING CAR BATTERIES) CAN BE RECYCLED  

Used batteries are accepted at LOWES, HOME DEPOT, WHOLE FOODS, BATTERIES PLUS, and most BEST BUYS.

Today’s common household batteries—those ubiquitous AAs, AAAs, C’s, D’s, and 9-volts from Duracell, Energizer and others—are not thought to pose as great a threat to properly equipped modern landfills as they used to because they contain much less mercury than their predecessors.

Perhaps of greater concern nowadays is what’s happening to spent rechargeable batteries from cell phones, MP3 players and laptops. Such items contain potentially toxic heavy metals sealed up inside, and if thrown out with the regular garbage can jeopardize the environmental integrity of both landfills and incinerator emissions. Luckily, the battery industry sponsors the operations of the Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation (RBRC), which facilitates the collection of used rechargeable batteries collected in an industry-wide “take back” program for recycling.

Still recyclable batteries if properly disposed of are a much better alternative to regular batteries, saving the consumer tremendously financially and creates a lot less waste.

Car batteries, by law, must not be disposed of with household waste.  They are collected at almost all garages, Auto Parts Stores (Several of which are listed above) and scrap metal facilities.

ALMOST ALL METAL SCRAP AND ELECTRONICS CAN BE RECYCLED INCLUDING: 

Non-Ferrous Metals, Aluminum, Aluminum Cans, Aluminum Wheels, Copper, Insulated Wire, Brass, Bronze, Stainless Steel,

Ferrous Metals, Steel (prepared and unprepared), Sheet Iron (clean and unclean), Cast Iron

Household Appliances (Dishwashers, Washing Machines, Coffee Makers,  etc)

Refrigerators, Freezers, Air Conditioners (compressors must be removed).

Lead, Die Cast, Catalytic converters, Electric Motors, Compressors

Auto Cast, Motors, Radiators (aluminum, aluminum/copper, and car radiators), Metal doors

Screws, nails, and other hardware, Ironing Boards

Old Televisions, Stereos/Sound Components

iPads, iPods, Tablets, Computers, Projectors, Printers

Hair Dryers, Hair Straighteners

Coffee Makers, Food Blenders, Electric Can Openers, Fire Alarms, Irons, Lamps, Keyboards, and any other electronic device, can be recycled.

Go to GOOGLE or BING and do an online search to find regional companies that recycle them.

Here in the midwest COHEN RECYCLING takes all these items!!!!!

RECYCLE PRINTER CARTRIDGES AND TONER CARTRIDGES

Printer Cartridges and Toner Cartridges can be both refilled or recycled.  Staples, Hewlett Packer, Xerox, Office Depot, and most computer printer retailing facilities recycle cartridges for you and some even offer cash incentives to do so.

In purchasing a new inkjet or laser cartridge, look at the instructions in the box of your new laser or inkjet cartridge to find out how to recycle your old one. Many companies will provide instructions with the packaging materials and free postage if you wish to recycle your old cartridge.

OLD STYLE INCANDESCENT LIGHT BULBS (WITH THE GLOWING TUNGSTEN FILAMENT IN THEM) CANNOT BE RECYCLED BUT CFL ENERGY EFFICIENT LIGHT BULBS CAN AND SHOULD BE RECYCLED

Recycling these prevents the release of mercury into the environment.  CFLs and other fluorescent bulbs often break when thrown into a dumpster, trashcan or compactor, or when they end up in a landfill or incinerator. Other materials in the bulbs get reused.  Recycling CFLs and other fluorescent bulbs allows the reuse of the glass, metals and other materials that make up fluorescent lights. Virtually all components of a fluorescent bulb can be recycled. Visit: search.earth911.com to find out where you can recycle CFL light bulbs in your region.

USE CANDLES???

I for one rarely have lights on in my house unless I’m reading or cooking.  For whatever reason I find candles very relaxing and calming which makes for a great prelude to meditating, something I try to do every night before going to bed.  As you know, candle never burn all the wax.  They burn till the wick is gone, leaving a considerable about of the candle left over and unusable.  DON”T THROW THE CANDLE WAX AWAY!!!!!

Go to your local Michael’s Arts & Crafts store or to your local Hobby Lobby where they sell candle making kits for a little over $20.  By simply melting down the wax on your stove, using a pitcher in the candle making kit, you can pour yourself a whole new set of candles and it didn’t cost anything after your initial purchase….  And better yet, you’ve created no waste!

RECYCLE ALL CARPET

Would you believe by volume and weight carpet is number one filler of landfills?  It’s true.   Carpets are made of several chemical compounds but for the most part they are essentially plastic.  Because they are plastic they do not biodegrade.  Plastic only photo degrades in the presence of light.  Once in a landfill, with no access to light, they never degrade.

Also, the primary compound in carpet fiber, as with most plastics, is hydrocarbon, which is commonly drawn from fossil fuels, which is what we are trying to move away from.   When buying carpet, the retail installers will remove the old carpet for you (but you may want to check and make sure they are going to recycle it).

Do-it-yourselfers will have to determine where the nearest carpet recycling facility is.  A visit to Carpet America Recovery Effort’s website http://carpetrecovery.org is the easiest way to find these facilities; the site has a map of the U.S. with carpet collection centers listed by state.  Let’s keep carpet out of the landfills!

RECYCLE CORKS, PLASTIC TUBS, PLASTIC GROCERY BAGS, AND EVEN WATER FILTERS

All WHOLE FOODS INC. locations recycle plastic grocery bags regardless of where they are from, plastic tubs such as yogurt tubs, fruit tubs, batteries, and yes, even BRITA Water Filters.

Today most grocery stores have a bin near the entrance of the store for recycling plastic grocery bags.  Please, please, please choose to recycle these bags, which have become the number one killer of sea life and birds.  Even when they are thrown away and sent off to a landfill, when the garbage truck dumps at the site, a number of these are blown by the wind, end up in our water ways, and float out to sea.

RECYCLE OR DONATE LATEX PAINT

Latex paint is not a hazardous waste material and can be safely thrown away with your regular trash once it is solid.  Since garbage collectors cannot pick up liquids, simply leave the lid off and mix in sand, sawdust, or kitty litter to speed up the drying process. Once it is solid, place the can next to your trash with the lid off so your garbage collector can see that the paint is dry.

RECYCLE SHOES

Soles 4 Souls

Accepts shoes either locally or via mail in.
http://www.soles4souls.org/about/locations.html

REDUCE PAPER USAGE:

It’s one thing to “recycle” but “reducing” our consumption altogether makes an enormous impact on our consumption of resources.  Reducing paper usage preserves forests and maintains the balance in the CO2 and O2 exchange between the plant kingdom and us. This a system with checks and balances that we cannot afford to destroy.  Considering the anthropogenic (human) contribution to Global Warming and its devastating effects, being cognizant of our paper usage is a must.

Going to completely paperless billing and online sources for news and entertainment is a tremendous step towards reducing our carbon footprint.  Virtually every paper magazine has an online version of the magazine that can viewed and read as opposed to purchasing the physical version of it.  This keeps paper out of our landfills and preserves trees.  To provide perspective, a one run copy of the New York Times Sunday Edition requires almost 100,000 trees.  Do your part and preserve these trees.

STOP THE “JUNK MAIL” AND DEFOREST YOUR MAILBOX

Almost 75% of the junk mail we find in our mailbox isn’t read so why keep receiving it?  Visit Catalog Choice, a non-profit group that has helped 1.3 million people opt out of receiving 19 million pieces of junk mail.  The Catalog Choice website www.catalogchoice.org streamlines the opt-out process so you don’t have to contact companies yourself. And the best part? It’s totally free. With a few clicks you can stop unwanted junk mail from coming to your house. This one website is designed to enable you to “opt out” of company mailings by picking those companies you want and don’t want to receive mail from.  This one step can reduce our ecological footprint and waste immensely. 2nd only to carpet, believe it or not, paper and paper products are the largest contribution to our landfills.

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Another awesome website is www.dmachoice.org.  This is a mail preference service that allows you to choose what mail you receive and what you don’t by giving you the choice to opt in or opt out corporate mailing lists.  If you do not want to remove yourself from all mailing lists, you make your choices by company.   The website also offers the ability to stop a good portion of junk email you receive.

Getting off commercial Email lists

dmachoice.com also provides a registration form to register with the eMPS.  eMPS is the Email Preference Service and allows you to remove your email from national lists.   You will continue to receive email from groups or advertisers who do not use eMPS to clean their lists.

Although registration with eMPS will help reduce the number of emails you receive, it will not stop all commercial emails. You may continue to receive emails from groups or advertisers who do not use eMPS to clean their lists. Email of a business-to-business nature received at your place of employment is also not affected through registration with eMPS.

The DMA does not provide marketers with consumer email lists for marketing purposes. The Email Preference Service is available to companies for the sole purpose of removing your email address from their email lists. This service does not apply to advertising emailed to your business address.

To unsubscribe to emails that have managed to add you to their daily or weekly subscription go to unroll.me or click here:

https://unroll.me/join?oIMD%2F6wD

CONSIDER ALTERNATIVE ENERGY:

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Though for many of us, getting “off the grid” so to speak may not be an affordable option, for those that can afford to purchase alternative energy such as wind, solar, and geothermal sources of energy, can reduce CO2 emissions dramatically. Until large purchases like these become more affordable and more prevalent, minimizing our electrical usage with energy efficient light bulbs and appliances helps as does adjusting our thermostats to minimize energy usage.  Make sure lights are not left on in rooms that aren’t occupied.  Personally, I light candles in my house almost every night, simply because I find it very calming and like to meditate at night.

Rooftop solar water heating is a new trend that is gaining tremendous momentum especially in the western U.S. with states such as California, Oregon, and Washington.  U.S. installation of these systems has more than tripled since 2005.

USE LED or CFL ENERGY EFFICIENT LIGHTBULBS.

Why? One it will lower you bills dramatically both from a purchasing cost standpoint, and in terms of monthly electrical bills. They are front loaded in cost but in the long term will pay dividends, saving an enormous amount of money over the long term.  A typical incandescent light bulb with a tungsten filament lasts about 1,000 hours and costs 50 cents. You’d need six bulbs and spend about $42 on bulbs and electricity over the life of those bulbs. Or, by contrast, with the purchase of one LED or CFL light bulb, you’ll spend approximately $12, electricity included, with an expectant life span of approximately 10,000 hours.  Anyone surviving a 3rd grade math class can see this is kind of a no brainer.

One of my blog readers had expressed concern about the mercury found in CFL Light bulbs, but studies on them have found them to be extremely safe as long as they are handled properly.   This will ultimately be a personal decision so I encourage doing some research on your own.  Learn more by clicking on the link:  energyblog.nationalgeographic.com/2014/01/08/separating-myth-from-fact-on-cfls-and-leds-five-concerns-addressed.

BUY A BICYCLE . . . . and get healthy!

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Bike small distances with a backpack to the store, to friends, or to work if possible . . . . . . This is personally one of my favorite things to do, and when weather permits, I bike about 100 miles a week.

DRIVE A HYBRID OR COMPLETELY ELECTRIC CAR

The Tesla Model S has receive tremendous press recently as the first viable electric car.  Going from 0-60 in 4 seconds it’s clearly worthy of all the hype.  But Tesla’s work pioneering this bold initiative is just beginning. Many car companies are now moving rapidly towards designing cars that reduce CO2 emissions.

CARPOOL OR TAKE MASS TRANSIT WHEN POSSIBLE

Many cities are now incorporating light rail systems, trains, subways, and an increased number of hybrid buses into their civil engineering designs and their transit management designs.  Mass transit curbs CO2 emissions dramatically.

BEGIN COMPOSTING . . . .

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Would you believe 25 – 30% of what goes to our landfills is kitchen scraps and food waste?  Composting (keeping your food scraps in composting containers that can be purchased at Lowes, Home Depot, Menards, etc or just in a pile in a designated part of your yard) provide you with a great way to fertilize indoor plants, mulch beds, or even the lawn itself.  I keep a composting container under my sink in my kitchen.  All the leftover food scraps in my house go out to my compost pile.  Even living in an apartment, one can compost and empty their container one a week into the surrounding environment.  Something I say to my son Alex is, “always give back to nature the unadulterated (pure, natural) things nature gives to us.”

Food waste simply has no place in a landfill.  Buried, it takes up space (30% of the volume of the landfill), has no access to air, bacteria, sunlight, moisture, and requires a tremendous amount of time to break down.

Bottom line:  “Do nature a favor and give back to it, what we take from it.”

DON’T BAG GRASS TRIMMINGS.  COMPOST GRASS, LEAVES, AND YARD DEBRIS

Like food scraps, if there is a need to bag your grass trimmings, empty the bag somewhere on your property if possible, in a compost pile that can be kept, letting nature do what it does best . . . . . . recycle the biodegradable material back into the surrounding environment.

If you simply cannot bear the thought of keeping a compost pile or don’t have the space to compost, please be responsible and place the grass trimmings in a compostable lawn bag as opposed to a plastic bag.  The reason this is so important is, grass and yard waste are organic materials that biodegrade.

Typically most cities that allow for the collection of yard waste will pick it up separately and have specific requirements and restrictions that must be adhered to, such as placing the yard waste in compostable bags.  This is because, in the event that yard trimmings go to the landfill in a PLASTIC BAG they create another problem.

Exposed to the elements, the detritus (biodegrading material – yard trimmings in this case), releases methane which can be harvested as a source of energy, even though I would argue, methane as a fuel source is not a good idea.  That’s because, methane is 10,000 times more of a greenhouse gas than CO2.  And though landfills burn off the methane and others capture the methane for resale, this process is very inefficient.  A very large percentage of the methane is simply released into the atmosphere.

In a plastic bag, this problem is interrupted and slowed dramatically, where the yard trimmings, like food scraps, are now taking up space in the landfill, as opposed to being sent to a methane capturing facility where the compost can be harvested.

The other issue with sending yard trimming to a landfill is that, until recent legislative changes were made, the amount of methane coming out of landfills because of the collection of yard trimmings, was remarkable.  Metrics were obtained on their contribution to global warming, and today continue to be measured as a contributing variable in the anthropogenic (human) contribution to climate change.  It became such a serious matter that the U.S. Composting Council in recent years has passed laws in 28 states, banning the collection of yard waste.

In the event that you bag yard trimmings, please use compostable bags and check state and city requirements, restrictions, and protocols, to ensure your yard trimmings are going to the right destination.

GROW A GARDEN

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Growing a garden in our own backyards it’s probably one of the most environmentally conscious decisions we can make.  In shopping at chain grocery stores, which is obviously necessary during the winter months, we are purchasing food that has often times come from great distances, often times from other parts of the world. The carbon footprint that is created in bringing foods from halfway around the world is enormous.

By growing our own gardens, we become self-reliant, we diminish our carbon footprint, and we are working towards the sustainability of the planet. If there is not the means to grow a garden, consider shopping locally with local businesses and local farmers. Farmers market would be a great example of a place to buy produce and dairy.  Our investment in local farmers helps sustain their farms. It also removes GMO’s from our diet and disempower’s corporate giants like Monsanto.

Thousands of people are learning to grow their own food. It’s not just a great idea in theory.  There’s a growing movement of those who have found very practical ways to grow their own food.

Food is a tricky issue because the cost of food is used as leverage to sell to the less fortunate or financially challenged, forcing them to compromise their health based on the financial feasibility of eating better. One can get a value meal from McDonald’s for 99 cents or a head of organic kale for $2 at the grocery store.  Lower income families have to make difficult choices when feeding their families that others don’t.

Not everyone can grow their own food, but in cities like Detroit great strides are being made with the growing number of community/shared gardens where for as little as $10 a month people can rent a small plot of land and be taught how to grow their own food. In addition, city parks, like those in Seattle and around the country have begun programs that involve growing fruit baring trees in the recreational for anyone to eat from for free, with little signs that even encourage thinking in a communal way by encouraging those taking the fruit to limit themselves to just one piece of fruit……

It’s unfortunate that not everyone can grow their food, but a large enough percentage of the population can if they want to.

We like the convenience of having companies do the work for us, but it creates a dependance on them that allows them to do what this article is sharing. Not all of us, but a growing number of people can shop local and support local farming, which is economically and ecologically more responsible, diminishes our carbon footprint, saves on cost in the long run, feeds the local economy, reduces the profitability of corporate giants like Wal-Mart and enormous grocery stores, like Kroger, Publix, and others, prevents monopolies like MONSANTO’s stranglehold on food production, distribution, and food control, allows for innovation with farmers coming up with non-GMO approaches to agriculture and on and on….

If a descent percentage of people chose to do so, and it’s far more possible than most think, we could literally starve MONSANTO, who now owns the entire agricultural division of our government, to death. The lifeblood of every corporation is commerce and money. We have it, they want it. If we cut off the revenue stream to Monsanto the corporation will collapse. It’s really a matter of educating individuals to make better decisions.

And yes, it’s far more than just vegatables. It’s processed foods as well and the meat industry which is the most destructive industry on the planet. I would highly encourage a viewing of the documentary COWSPIRACY which is profoundly insightful on this issue.

http://www.cowspiracy.com

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No Garden? Here Are 66 Things You Can Grow At Home In Containers

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PLANT TREES IN YOUR YARD . . . . better yet, fruit bearing trees!

Aside from the benefits trees provide in terms providing oxygen and pulling carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, trees provide a habitat for birds and other animals, whose homes continues to be encroached on by our expanding civilization. Plus, large expanses of lawn require pesticides and chemicals to maintained the lawn that ultimately threaten wildlife.

Visit the ARBOR DAY FOUNDATION at  www.arborday.org  and become a member.  You can shop for trees and they even have a program where you can receive trees for free.

CONSIDER HARVESTING BEES AND PURCHASE OR CREATE A BEEHIVE

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The value of keeping bees goes beyond the obvious benefit of creating your own honey.  There are also health benefits as well as the eco-conscious choice to providing a home to bees.  Recently, the declining numbers of bees and butterflies have been headlines in the news.  In many areas, millions of colonies of wild (or feral) honey bees have been wiped out by urbanization, pesticides, and parasitic mites, devastating the wild honey bee population. When gardeners wonder why they now see fewer and fewer honey bees in their gardens, it’s because of the dramatic decrease in our wild honey bee population. Backyard beekeeping has become vital in our efforts to reestablish lost colonies of bees and offset the natural decrease in pollination by wild bees.

Here are a couple great resources I’ve found:

www.backyardhive.com

www.honeybeesuite.com

www.agdev.anr.udel.edu/maarec/beginning-beekeeping-2/apiary-location

PLANT BEE AND BUTTERFLY ATTRACTING FLOWERS.

Look around your neighborhood.  What don’t you see?  Flowers….

Most of communities have become ecological wastelands or ecological deserts. Communities built today are built with no real consideration regarding the displacement of all the natural species of animals that lived within a given area before we removed the forest to make room for our houses. What you don’t see in most peoples front yards anymore are flowers.  Our houses all seems to have plenty of bushes and shrubbery but few if any flowers.  With nothing left to pollinate, bee and butterfly populations dying off at an exponential rate. How quick we are to forget that without bees, over 80% of the food we eat cannot be grown.

To help maintain their numbers, flower gardens can really help them make a comeback.  Providing them with pollen and nectar sources is an act of reverence for these species.

“Without bees, humans would go extinct within 4 years.”  –  Albert Einstein

PUT UP BIRD FEEDERs FOR BOTH SEASONAL/MIGRATORY BIRDS AND HUMMING BIRDS

SHOP AT LOCAL FARMS AND FARMER’s MARKETS

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Shopping locally dramatically diminishes our carbon or ecological footprint. This is because food sold in large chain grocery stores arrived there from vast distances and various locales often in other countries. They are often transported by plane, by boat, by train, and by trucks, all of which run on fossil fuels, which only serves to continue adding carbon dioxide emissions to the atmosphere.  Another added benefit is that your contribution to local farmers may be the very thing sustaining their farm which oftentimes, has been passed down and worked by generations of a family.

If getting to a market place where local vendors, farmers, and retailers sell goods and produce is difficult, check with the market place itself.  Many vendors do home deliveries with produce, meats, and even pet foods.

SHOP WITH ENVIRONMENTALLY CONSCIOUS VENDORS

Coffee shops, bars, and restaurants are slowly making the move towards using recycled materials and biodegradable products that do not harm the environment. Ask and encourage business to become more environmentally sound.  WE VOTE EVERYDAY WITH OUR DOLLARS.  Consider that every dollar we spend this supporting a given business.

BECOME A MEMBER OF, DONATE TO, BANK WITH, OR USE CREDIT CARDS PROVIDED BY ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION GROUPS WHO GIVE A PORTION OF EVERY PURCHASE TO SAVING AND PROTECTING THE PLANET . . . .    BY DOING SO YOU CAN KEEP CURRENT WITH WHAT IS GOING ON WITH THE PLANET AND HOW TO CONTRIBUTE TO THE SOLUTION.

Groups such as:    THE SIERRA CLUB  www.sierraclub.org       THE WORLD WILDLIFE FUND   www.wwf.org        THE NATIONAL RESOURCES DEFENSE COUNSEL – NRDC   www.nrdc.org      GREENPEACE INTERNATIONAL   www.greenpeace.org     THE NATURE CONSERVANCY   www.nature.org     THE WILDERNESS SOCIETY  www.wilderness.org     THE NATIONAL WILDLIFE FEDERATION   www.nwf.org      THE ARBOR DAY FOUNDATION    www.arborday.org

DON’T LITTER.  EVER!!!!!!

I can’t emphasize this enough.  When we litter, what we dispose of is often mistaken for food or nesting material, and can have extremely adverse effects on wildlife.  This issue is compounded when considering the decomposition rates of what we litter the environment with.

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CLOTHES AND TEXTILES

Damaged clothing and even faded curtains – that aren’t suitable to be passed onto someone else can be recycled and made into new items, such as padding for chairs and car seats, cleaning cloths and industrial blankets.

Some charities such as the FREE STORE FOOD BANK, the SALVATION ARMY, ST. VINCENT DePAUL, and AMVETS collect clothing and textiles for recycling. check with your local store.
Clothing and textile banks are often in supermarket and local car parks – check to see if they take items for recycling

Some shops such as H&M and Marks & Spencer collect unwanted clothes in-store. Marks & Spencer also collect via their charity partner, Oxfam and offer a discount off your next purchase.  Check also with consignment shops who will sell your clothes for you and give you a portion of the sale.

Some antique and vintage shops will buy second hand clothes, such as evening wear and vintage items

Offer clothes to friends and family or give them to a consignment store and make a little money

USE CLOTH NAPKINS INSTEAD OF PAPER NAPKINS  AND A REUSABLE CLOTHS WHERE YOU WOULD TEND TO USE PAPER TOWELS

For example:  In my house I almost never use paper towels for anything.  As mentioned earlier I using some of the non-toxkc, biodegradable cleaners listed above, I use a cloth to clean my kitchen counters, stove, table, etc and simply run water through it when I’m done. I ring it out and use it again and again eventually washing them after a couple day’s use. This prevents the generating of more paper waste sent to the landfills created by using paper towels.

USE CLOTH DIAPERS INSTEAD OF PLASTIC DIAPERS

Disposables diapers account for 3.4 million tons of landfill waste per year and DO NOT EVER decompose (since very little breaks down in a landfill, biodegradable or not).  Even the one labeled as “biodegradable” aren’t in a landfill because there is no exposure to light, air, or moisture.

IF YOU HAVE CATS TRY NOT TO USE CLAY BASED CAT LITTER

On average, a cat using a litter box filled with traditional, clumping litter will later lick off 1/8 teaspoon of bentonite clay, silica gel and fragrance crystals.  These chemicals can be toxic to cats and cause cats to vomit frequently.  There have been numerous cases in which kittens with a sensitivity to these chemicals have died.

In addition to the health effects of  clay-based clumping cat litters, the other problem is that they do not decompose.  They are mined for in China, shipped to the United States, which creates a huge carbon footprint.

Alternative to clay-based cat litters are wheat based or walnut based clumping litters that contain no chemicals and are completely biodegradable.  Others include newspaper and granular pine pellets.

FOR CAT AND DOG HAIR?  

Traditional lint rollers contribute more and more paper to our landfills.  SCOTCH BRITE Corporation has now developed a reusable lint roller that picks up cat hair very effectively.  After using the roller, simply run it under a faucet to wash the hair off and reuse.

Scotch Brite Reusable Lint Rollers

I use a “drain trap” to capture the cat hair, as opposed to letting it go down the drain where it could potentially clog pipes, and simply throw the cat hair outside.

TWO QUESTIONS WE SHOULD ALWAYS ASK, BEFORE THROWING ANYTHING AWAY:

Whenever throwing something away ask,

1. “CAN THIS BE RECYCLED?”

. . . . . . . . and if throwing it away seems simpler than taking the time to recycle it, ask yourself, 

2.  “WHAT WOULD A COUPLE HUNDRED MILLION OF THESE LOOK LIKE IN A LANDFILL?”  Keep in mind that there are 314,000,000 american throwing garbage away everyday when 65% of what we put in the garbage CAN be recycled.  EVERYTHING THAT IS THROWN AWAY REQUIRES MORE NATURAL RESOURCES TO MAKE MORE OF IT.  

So, I suppose a third question could be asked. “IF I THROW THIS ITEM AWAY HOW MANY RESOURCES WOULD BE REQUIRED TO MAKE A FEW HUNDRED MILLION MORE OF IT WHEN RECYCLING IT WOULD REQUIRE NO MORE RESOURCES AND WOULD PRESERVE THE PLANET?”

Aluminum and glass, for example, can be recycled an infinite number of times.  Why would we ever throw these two items away?

To just continue with a throwaway mentality is to literally rob our children of their future. Consumption only leads to one end result. . . . .  the depletion of resources.  Consumption, versus sustainability, is literally stealing from our children to pay for our lifestyle today.

AND LAST BUT CERTAINLY NOT LEAST:   “EDUCATE, EDUCATE, EDUCATE, YOUR CHILDREN!”  If it cannot reused, recycled, repurposed it probably isn’t a good idea to purchase it….

Sadly our children grow up to leave us and pursue their own lives, just as we did. They will only venture out into the world as stewards of the planet and teach their children to do so, if in fact they were first taught by us.

To make every purchasing decision an environmentally conscious one, I encourage you to visit a website www.inhabitat.com which features an endless library of articles on green companies, green products, and green design.  Happy shopping!!!!

Love and Light in your continued journey of discovery,

David

P.S. If you can think of something I may have overlooked, or a business that you believe could use a shout out, please feel free to comment and offer input . . . . . Thanks so much for caring about the Earth that is home to all of us!

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5 Comments on “Things We Each Can Do To Protect our EARTH, our Environment, and our Ecosystems

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