MARCH/APRIL 2018

 

History of Earth Day

It was in September 1969, at a conference held in Seattle, Washington, that Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson announced that in the coming Spring there would be a nationwide grassroots demonstration on the environment. He proposed the nationwide environmental protest to thrust the environment onto the national spotlight.

"It was a gamble," Nelson recalled, "but it worked." Five months before the very first April 22 Earth Day in 1970, The New York Times carried a lengthy article by Gladwin Hill reporting on the rising tide of environmental events: "Rising concern about the environmental crisis is sweeping the nation's campuses with an intensity that may be on its way to eclipsing student discontent over the war in Vietnam...a national day of observance of environmental problems...is being planned for next spring...when a nationwide environmental 'teach-in'...coordinated from the office of Senator Gaylord Nelson is planned...." Senator Nelson also hired Denis Hayes as the coordinator.

The year was 1970. Citizens of United States were trying to understand the Kent State shootings and put their arms around the birth of fiber optics. While they were listening to an album called "Bridge over Troubled Water" they were stunned by NASA’s Apollo 13 mission. American’s were mourning a rock star named Jimi Hendrix and starting to pay attention to the environment. Earth Day 1970 preparations were in high gear.

On April 22, 1970, Americans took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment in what was to become the first of many Earth Day movements. At the helm was the national coordinator, Denis Hayes. Hayes, with his young and ambitious staff organized coast-to-coast rallies while thousands of college campuses organized protests against the deterioration of the environment. It soon became clear that the varied and passionate nationwide groups that had been fighting against oil spills, factory pollution, power plants, toxic dumps, pesticides, freeways, wildlife extinction now had a common platform and nationwide attention.

Each year, the April 22 Earth Day marks the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement.

Biography of Earth Day Founder, Senator Gaylord Nelson:
Gaylord Nelson (1916 - 2005)
Former Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson's best-known achievement is the founding of Earth Day in 1970. Described by American Heritage Magazine as "one of the most remarkablehappenings in the history of democracy," Earth Day made environmental protection a major national issue. A distinguished and influential public servant, Nelson served ten years in the Wisconsin Senate, was twice elected Governor of Wisconsin, and, in 1962, began an 18-year career in the U.S. Senate.

Senator Nelson's many achievements included legislation to:

• Preserve the 2,000-mile Appalachian Trail
• Mandate fuel efficiency standards in automobiles
• Control strip mining
• Ban the use of DDT
• Ban the use of 245T (agent orange)
• Create the St. Croix Wild and Scenic Riverway and the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore

Senator Nelson also co-sponsored the National Environmental Education Act and wrote legislation to create the Upper Great Lakes Regional Commission and Operation Mainstream/Green Thumb, which employed the elderly in conservation projects. He was the recipient of numerous awards, including two from the United Nations Environment Program.

Nelson became Counselor of The Wilderness Society (1981). During his 14 years of service at The Wilderness Society, Nelson worked to protect America's national forests, national parks, and other public lands. He also focused his attention on U.S. population issues and sustainability. He served as Chairman of Earth Day XXV, which was celebrated April 22, 1995. Senator Nelson was also the Founder of Earth Day Network's Earth Day 2000 Clean Energy Now! campaign.

Born on June 4, 1916, in Clear Lake, Wisconsin, he received his BA degree in 1939 from San Jose State College in California and his LLB at the University of Wisconsin Law School in 1942. He was in the U.S. Army during World War II for 46 months, serving as first lieutenant during the Okinawa campaign. Returning to Madison, Wisconsin, Nelson practiced law from 1946 to 1958.

Senator Nelson died on July 3, 2005 survived by his wife, Carrie Lee, and his three children. On his last Earth Day, although frail and in declining health, he joined his grandson at a school tree-planting ceremony to mark the day. (Source: Earthday.net)

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The Last (plastic!) Straw

Snappy Salads, known for high-quality salads served quickly in an environmentally friendly manner and recipient of the first Green Business Certification from the City of Plano, Texas (2013), is on a mission to make you think twice before you grab for your next plastic straw. 

Legislators and environmentalists across the country are calling for awareness around plastic straws and their detrimental effects on our landfills and coastlines. The no-plastic movement has grown steadily in recent years, gaining momentum following a viral video with over 21 million views that shows a sea turtle with a plastic straw wedged in its nose and the pain and suffering endured by the turtle during the attempts to remove it. (WARNING: This video contains graphic content.)  As the biggest user of plastic straws, restaurants and bars are considering new ways to serve beverages. Locally, the grassroots campaign to phase out plastic straws is growing and Snappy Salads is leading the way.

“We took the plunge three years ago and replaced plastic straws with paper ones,” said Chris Dahlander, founder of Snappy Salads. “We are always looking for ways that we can lower our impact on the environment and hope others will follow our lead.”

Snappy Salads started using paper straws in October 2014 and has since saved the world from 1.3 million plastic straws. “Snappy Salads is definitely leading the change in Texas,” said Ryan Conley of Direct Source, the company that supplies Snappy Salads.

According to The Last Plastic Straw, 500 million straws are used and discarded every day in the United States alone. That’s 175 billion a year filtering into landfills (environment) and littering our waterways and oceans.  In the U.S. alone, there's enough straw litter waste to wrap the circumference of the earth 2.5 times a day, or fill Yankee Stadium over 9 times a year!  On average, plastic straws are used for 20 minutes, but can take centuries to break down. Paper straws take around six months to break down.

Besides consumer preference, higher cost is a reason many businesses haven’t made the switch to paper straws.  “Switching from plastic to paper straws did cost more but to us it was about doing the right thing,” said Dahlander. “And, if you just want to go without a straw altogether – that’s even better for the environment.”

For more information about Snappy Salads and its commitment to sustainability visit www.snappysalads.com/sustainability. For information about going straw-less, visit www.thelastplasticstraw.org.

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Use Your Zip Code to Attract Brilliant Birds to Your Yard This Spring

Since 1905, The National Audubon Society's vision has been a world in which people and wildlife thrive.  It strives to protect birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow, throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education and on-the-ground conservation. Audubon's state programs, nature centers, chapters and partners have an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire and unite diverse communities in conservation action.

Now, with spring finally here and bird migration now underway, the National Audubon Society is offering a free, one-of-a-kind Plants for Birds online database of native plants that attract local birds species.

Just tap in your zip code and anyone nationwide can access a list of local native plants that benefit your favorite birds. Audubon’s Plants for Birds database has hundreds of plants, trees, shrubs and grasses that provide food, nesting and rest stops for hundreds of species of birds. And, it lists by zip code the Audubon support centers, native plant nurseries and retailers that sell the listed local native plants.

It’s a one-stop shop for anyone who wants to grow native plants that provide food and shelter for local birds.

“As plants grow and bloom earlier because of warming temperatures, there is a growing mismatch between bloom times and the arrival of birds that depend on them, says Dr. John Rowden, Audubon’s director of community conservation. “Habitat provided by native plants can help climate threatened birds adapt and survive.”

Our gardens are outdoor sanctuaries for birds, insects and other wildlife. Every spring, migrating birds visit our yards looking for food from our gardens and places to raise their chicks. By adding native plants to a yard, balcony, container garden, rooftop or public space, anyone, anywhere can not only attract more birds but also give them the best chance of survival in the face of climate change and urban development.

Most landscaping plants available in nurseries are exotic species from other countries. Many are prized for qualities that make them poor food sources for wildlife. They generally also require more chemicals and water to thrive, increasing maintenance time, costs and environmental hazards. Some can even become invasive.

Audubon and more than 190 other organizations have declared 2018 the Year of the Bird to bring attention to the plight of birds and commemorate the 100th anniversary of the country’s most important bird protection law called the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Each month during Year of the Bird includes a call to action that helps birds, and for March participants are encouraged to grow native plants.

Audubon is a nonprofit conservation organization. Learn more how to help at www.audubon.org and follow @audubonsociety. 

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Tech Recycling Centers in the US & How to Find One Near You

As modern technology races along, companies release new products like phones or computers at a staggering rate. At the same time, this quickly renders existing technologies obsolete. So, recycling these old technologies in a safe, eco-conscious way is important for the environment as well as the industries that utilize the recycled materials.

Donating and recycling your old e-waste cuts down on greenhouse gas emissions caused by manufacturing natural resources, but also helps avoid polluting the air or water. Technology recycling centers also help extract and recycle valuable resources and materials like metals, glass, or plastics. For example for every million cell phones recycled, 35,000 pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold, and 33 pounds of palladium are recovered according to the EPA. Don’t forget to always wipe your hard drives before handing in your old computers or phones. Use our map below to find a recycling center closest to you.

Finding a tech recycling center near you is easy. Click here, type your home address, city or zip code and you’ll find tech recycling centers nearby.

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Is a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) Right for You?

Thinking about signing up for a CSA but want to learn more about the idea before you commit?  For over 25 years, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) has become a popular way for consumers to buy local, seasonal food directly from a farmer.

Here are the basics: a farmer offers a certain number of "shares" to the public. Typically the share consists of a box of vegetables, but other farm products may be included. Interested consumers purchase a share (aka a "membership" or a "subscription") and in return receive a box (bag, basket) of seasonal produce each week throughout the farming season.

There are several advantages to joining your local CSA, here are a few:

You Know Where Your Food Comes From
In a CSA share your produce comes directly from your farmer so you know who is growing your food and how. If you have questions about their farming practices or values just ask! With this level of transparency, you can rest assured knowing your farmer cares about what matters to you.

Support Small Farming
By supporting small family farms you are guaranteeing that 100% of your money goes directly to the farmer to grow and harvest high quality food for you and others in your community

Variety
Most CSA farms strive for ecological diversity and a wide variety in crop production, so over the course of the season CSA farmers usually grow more types of vegetables than found at a grocery store. You’ll discover varieties that you might not otherwise find or buy, so get ready to enjoy your share of the season’s bounty including leeks, celeriac, edamame, garlic scapes, daikon, and many other diverse goodies!

Better Flavor
Fresh is best!  The time between harvest and consumption is reduced so you get fresher food that tastes better. Unlike industrial farmers who harvest for shipping and shelf-life, CSA farmers harvest for ripeness and flavor. Eating seasonally means every week you receive what the conditions were most fit to produce so you’re guaranteed to eat your veggies at their peak. Get ready for a culinary delight and adventure!

Have fun!
There are lots of exciting ways to enjoy your CSA share- including visits to the farm, u-picking, potluck dinners and community events. During the growing season there is always something fun to do with you and your family to celebrate local agriculture, enjoy good food and mingle with other CSA members.

Find a local CSA in your area, visit: http://www.localharvest.org/

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5 Tips for Greener Landscaping This Spring

As a homeowner, you have a responsibility to care for the small piece of earth you own. And while you may not think that your efforts matter much in the grand scheme of things, every positive action you take adds up to create a safer, greener, more self-sufficient environment. Larry Alton, from Blue & Green Tomorrow, recently offered these valuable landscaping tips and sound advice.

Practicing green landscaping involves more than keeping your lawn lush and picking up trash and litter. If you really want to thrive, you need to implement the following tips:

1. Purchase Equipment That Lasts
When purchasing lawn equipment, it’s important to look at all of the factors involved and make an educated decision based on what’s best for everyone involved.

“While cost is certainly a major concern for most customers, it’s just as important to think about reliability,” Bobby Ford Tractor & Equipment explains. “Reliable outdoor power equipment is more efficient over the long run and has a much gentler impact on the environment.”

2. Use Natural Sprays and Applications
Nobody likes weeds and pests in their yard, but it’s imperative that you avoid using chemical sprays that are filled with harsh toxins that are dangerous for the environment, wildlife, and even your family. Natural alternatives don’t contain dangerous ingredients like glyphosate and are much preferred to the typical products you find on store shelves.

“Foliar sprays are easy to use, kill most weeds, and don’t interfere with the natural soil biology,” TerraCast points out. “Nontoxic herbicides containing vinegar, citric acid, clove oil, and lecithin are just as effective as their toxic competition without presenting environmental and health drawbacks.”

3. Choose Plants That Require Less Water
One of the downsides to having a bunch of plants in your yard is that you tend to go through lots of water. Unfortunately, this is anything but eco-friendly. The solution is to replace thirsty plants with hardy, drought-resistant plants that require less water throughout the year.

4. Collect Rainwater
If you don’t have a system in place for collecting rainwater, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to conserve natural resources and lower your water bill. There are plenty of commercial products on the market, but you can also make your own setup fairly easily using your gutter downspouts and a simple bucket system.

5. Start a Compost Pile
Do you ever feel like you’re being wasteful when you toss food into the trash or down the garbage disposal? Do you wonder if there’s a way to make use of these scraps? Well, there is – and it’s called composting.

Most people don’t compost because they don’t realize how easy it is. All you have to do is designate a spot in your yard, throw down some carbon-rich brown materials (like leaves, straw, or dead flowers), and start feeding it some nitrogen-rich green materials (like grass clippings and plant-based waste). From there, you regularly shovel in garden soil and continue adding green material.

Enjoy the Benefits of an Eco-Friendly Yard
Creating and maintaining an eco-friendly yard is something that takes time and effort, but is incredibly rewarding. Not only does an eco-friendly yard require less money to maintain, but it also tends to be more functional and aesthetically pleasing.

Finally, you know you’re doing your part to make your community and the world a more sustainable place. It doesn’t get much better than that!

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