I remember the first Earth Day on April 22nd, 1970, (exactly 50 years to the day!) but only learned the name of the organizer last week while reading the AARP Bulletin: Denis Hayes. He was chosen by Earth Day Founder, Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Hauser. Between 1970 and 1976 a “tsunami” of legislation emerged.
Link to article online: https://www.aarp.org/politics-society/history/info-2020/denis-hayes-earth-day.html.
To honor/celebrate Earth Day, I had planned to post one item each day in April, Earth Month, but the Corona Virus changed that. Instead, I will be posting for the next few days, each posting listing 10 ideas/suggestions/facts/tidbits/organizations on the environment until I reach 50. Here’s the first “installment.” I hope some of these ideas will spark your interest to take action where appropriate.
Those that can be done while still on “lock-down” I will highlight in green.
1. The Wilderness Society: www.wilderness.org. To keep some of our land “wild,” this society defends fragile places such as Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, home to polar bears, wolves, caribou and migratory birds from all 50 states. They are under threat because the land can be a source for oil and gas drilling.
2. Regenerative Agriculture: In the August 2019 issue of natural awakenings, there was a tidbit of interesting info on farmers responses to climate change, inspiring some farmers to use regenerative agriculture (planting trees, cover cropping, no-till farming and rotational grazing), which pulls carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and stores it in their soil.
3. The Environmental Working Group (www.ewg.org/foodnews) has released its 2020 list of fruits and vegetables with the most and least pesticides, advising you to consider buying these organically grown. (Pesticides are not good for the planet, for the food, and for our bodies! There is no RDA for pesticides! es) When you order food to be delivered or go shopping with your mask and gloves, take this list, with strawberries having the most pesticide residue and the rest of the list in descending order of pesticide load.
DIRTY DOZEN: strawberries, spinach, kale, nectarines, apples, grapes, peaches, cherries, pears, tomatoes, celery, potatoes.
CLEAN FIFTEEN: avocados, sweet corn, pineapple, onions, papaya, frozen sweet peas, eggplant, asparagus, cauliflower, cantaloupes, broccoli, mushrooms, cabbage, honeydew melon, kiwi
(These 15 conventionally raised produce items had the lowest amount of pesticides residues, with nearly all of them only containing four or fewer pesticides. Almost 70% of these samples had no pesticide residues whatsoever.) Sources: www.ewg.com and www.goodhousekeeping.com/health/diet-nutrition/a31916678/dirty-dozen-foods-2020-list/)
4. Grow Microgreens on your windowsill: I generally post an article on sprouts and micro-greens every year, and will do so in the next few days, perhaps early May. These “baby greens” can be grown in 7 to 14 days, depending on the seed. According to an article by Leslie Goldman in from Real Simple (I think!) in which she quotes from the USDA’s Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, “Plants use stored nutrients to grow, so plucking the tiny seedlings early means they still have high levels of vitamins and minerals.” (Co-author of the article, Zhenlei Xiao.)
Buckwheat micro-greens that I grow on my kitchen windowsill. You can, too!
5. Pact Organic (https:wearpact.com)- An online clothing store that sells reasonably priced organic clothing. I Googled cotton and pesticides and found this:
“As the cotton is grown, it is sprayed with chemical pesticides, defoliants, and weed killers. … Studies have shown that pesticides are present inside the cotton fibers after harvest, and that they cannot be washed out using a home washing machine.”
I have been making masks with organic cotton, because I don’t want to breathe pesticides, and I am slowly buying organic clothing. I learned from a local health food store that 15% of the pesticides put on crops come from spraying cotton. I also avoid anything with cottonseed oil because of this fact.
6. Sponge Cloths – These flat sponge cloths are reusable, washable and compostable. The flamingos on the left are made by Ecologie, a company in Sweden, and available from Kitchen Kapers. (Unfortunately the 30% cotton does not say organic.) Supposedly one of these sponge cloths equals 40 tolls of paper towels.)
The blue fish sponge on the right is called a Euroscrubby and I purchased it in Nova Scotia. The label on the back says it is 100% biodegradable and compostable, as well as machine washable. It is distributed by Sandpiper Distributors, Inc.
7. Support for Greta Thunberg, Times Person of the Year- This young woman has awakened other young people and inspired them to be advocates for a cleaner planet. At the UN General Assembly , she said: “We are in the beginning of a mass extinction and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you.” Source: Time Magazine, Dec. 2019. (If you Google her name, you can listen to her speeches instead while surfing the net.)
17 year-old activist: Greta Thunberg
8. Organic Almond Milk and Flour – In the March 2020 issue of Ericson’s Living Tribune, I learned that almond farmers who spray their almond groves with pesticides are harming the bees, the very creatures who pollinate the almond trees. I switched to organic almond flour for baking and found an organic grower called www.divineorganics.com and am awaiting my first order. I will update this info after I receive their products. (If I am unable to find organic almond milk, I switch to another non-dairy drink that is organic.)
9. World Centric Paper Plates – I avoid paper plates, but they do come in handy when I need them to give something away or have a gathering (whenever that will be!). So I found this company at Mom’s Organic. The plates are made from plants. Here is what the back of the label says: “We turn into soil, not waste. We are BPI certified compostable and are made from discarded wheat straw fibers. Please compost us in a commercial or backyard composting system* and we will turn into soil within 1-3 months. WE also take less energy to make and produce fewer carbon emissions. By using us, you are protecting the forests and taking action to make a difference. For more information visit worldcentric.com.”
*Not suitable for backyard compost. Check with local recycling center to see where you can recycle them, possibly whole foods and Mom’s organic, etc.
10. “Living Green: 102 Things You Can Do” – This is a list I have had for several years, but don’t have the source, just the title on the sheet with the word Columbiana at the bottom. I Googled the name and found this: internationalliving.com/countries/colombia. (I will explore this more to see if this is the source of the list.) Here are just a few of the 101 suggestions that you may already be doing, especially while you are home. Our condo has bins for glass, plastic, and paper, so we can recycle easily: reuse egg cartons and paper bags…..use rags instead of paper towels (or see #6 above)…..use the water from cooking vegetables to make soup (or water your plants! es)……purchase goods in recyclable or reusable containers…..vote for candidates who support green values….teach your children ecological wisdom…..practice preventive health care…hang your clothes out to dry.