Sunday, February 28, 2010

How Can Al Gore and Politicians Convince Americans to Accept Global Warming Legislation?

By William H Watson

It's getting harder and harder to accept the politics of climate change. Even blizzards are blamed on global warming and we are told that something has to be done now or the world will be in peril. Like Al Gore, I am not a scientist and I can't debate meteorology. I do have some ideas, however, that will help convince Americans to join the fight to save the earth.

The first suggestion is to drop all talk of Cap and Trade, carbon credits, and UN treaties. These only make people like me mad. These ideas make Al Gore rich, the UN a world government, and grants all governments greater authority over individual lives. Not gonna happen in America!

If the politicians believe they have to force some laws upon us, here are some suggestions, in order:
  1. Eliminate the private jet industry. I don't intend to reduce my 100 watt light bulb based on the testimony of a guy riding around in his own jet. Al Gore, Robert Kennedy, Jr., and most politicians preaching this mess need to be leaders. Give up your fancy, carbon spewing rides as an example to the rest of us. This is much better than another tax on the rich. It takes away the opportunity for the rich to buy their way around the sacrifices that the regular people are expected to make.
  2. Alternative energy rules must first be tried and tested in all government buildings. The government always promises reduced costs and better results with every law or regulation. Usually the opposite happens. I want to see all government buildings switch a percentage of their power to solar, wind, and other alternative energy sources before forcing the nation to comply. Think of how many government buildings there are. The results would be obvious as to the effect of new energy sources.
  3. Al Gore needs to face the music, publicly. His unwillingness to debate is no longer acceptable. He needs to give a reasonable explanation as to how global warming has caused Baltimore and other cities to have the most snow in history. It has been nearly 12 years since the hottest year of 1998 in the US. It has been cooling ever since. I'd like to know why reporters are not camped out at Gore's house seeking his comments on the events that call into question his so-called science. It doesn't make me want to join Ed Begley and others in sacrificing parts of my life in the name of environmentalism.
Al and his environmentalist buddies are about to lose their fight. That's too bad if the global warming thing carries elements of truth. Americans are willing to work for a clean earth. Give us some leadership and common sense.

Check out Bill's blog at

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What Do Household Rubber Gloves and Deforestation Have in Common?

By Kay Reeve

Just about every household in the UK owns or has owned a pair (or lots more) of rubber gloves for washing up. Like all little items we use, add together the rubber gloves of the population since they were introduced in the 1960's and that's a lot of washing up gloves.

Those rubber gloves all end up in landfill and that doesn't even start to include the more commercial and industrial gloves used in medical and health professions or catering, let alone the cotton lined heavy-duty gloves worn by workers and engineers. They are simply a pair of fitted rubber bags with five digits that we find under the sink when we need them.

Rubber Gloves can be made from a variety of materials including PVC, nitrile, neoprene and natural rubber. Household Gloves are generally made from natural latex rubber. A sustainable, renewable, organic material that's healthy and indispensible for women who love taking care of their hands and finger nails. At least that's what we like to think.

Latex Rubber comes from tropical forest areas and because of our climate differences, all rubber is imported out of necessity. It is critical that deforestation stops - but while demand for latex rubber remains high, demand will be met by communities and companies that are only concerned with meeting that demand and making the most profit in the process. They show little regard for the land, communities and wildlife they are destroying along with the trees.

One way to combat deforestation without being able to picket, protest or visit the forests is to stop buying rubber products of any description if you are uncertain of the origin of the materials. Buying natural latex rubber is certainly better than purchasing chemically processed rubber, as long as you are not allergic to natural latex. Natural could still be a wild rubber tree that has been axed and processed without concern for the tree, its environment or the wildlife that it supports.

This link shows both disturbing and interesting facts about the Amazon Rain Forest over the last 40-50 years and why we need to be more careful with this valuable resource.

The only way to be certain is to choose natural latex rubber that comes from FSC Forestry Stewardship Council certified forests and purchased under Fair Trade conditions. This way you are helping to support not only your own environment and landfill sites, but also that of the rubber tree, the farmers, their families and protecting the wildlife that habitats their surroundings.

Green Tips Household Rubber Gloves are just one example of eco products where you can make a small change in your household and have a positive impact on people who care enough to look after our earth, while boycotting those that don't.

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What If Health Replaced Wealth As a Measure of Success?

By Sudhakar Ram

"It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver." ~ M K Gandhi

Money has been the world's primary measure of success over the last 200 years. Nations want bigger GDPs. Corporations want higher market capitalization. And we individuals all want fatter bank accounts. The assumption is that if we have the money, everything else can be acquired. Money can buy us better health, more leisure time - and even increased happiness.

Our experience, however, has shown that wealth does not necessarily bring us health, time or happiness. Research shows higher levels of unhappiness - stress, divorce, etc. - in wealthy nations like the US. Health care - or rather, disease care - remains a major concern, costing the country around $2 trillion to treat the 300 million citizens.

Let's indulge in a bit of fantasy. What if health replaced wealth as the primary measure of success? Would we be better off as individuals, as companies, as countries and as a world?

If health were the ultimate measure of success, we would eat the right food - fresh and nutritious. We would take our time over our meals, enjoying conversation with friends and family. We would follow a more balanced lifestyle, allocating time for exercise, for reading and learning, and for rewarding relationships. We would follow our creative passions and pursue our true calling, rather than chasing stressful careers that leave us exhausted and burnt out. Isn't it likely that we would be happier than we are today?

For companies, health would translate to longevity. Companies that survive the longest, making a meaningful contribution to the world, would be considered the healthiest. This would lead to more organic approaches to growth, rather than the intense focus on quick fixes and rapid expansion. Companies would discover and live up to their long-term potential rather than the short-term bottom line each quarter. Rather than settling for minimum standards and acceptable performance, companies that intend to be around for centuries would invest the time and energy to excel.

As countries, success would mean that every constituent part - the citizens, the cities and villages, the institutions and the systems - are healthy and vibrant. Governments at every level would be focused on eliminating poverty, squalor, pollution, crime, corruption and disease. Citizens would demand leadership to ensure that every part of their country gets the necessary infrastructure and basic amenities like education, health care, water, electricity, and law and order. Countries would vie for the cleanest, healthiest and liveliest environments to potential citizens and corporations.

A healthy world would be a clean and sustainable world where bio-diversity is maintained and all beings co-exist in their natural environment. In such a world, non-renewable natural resources would be consumed in moderation while renewable resources would be used and replenished diligently. Countries would agree to share common resources. Global institutions would bring peace and good health to humanity as a whole.

The purpose of this piece of fantasy is to show that a slight shift in our goals can bring about dramatic changes in the way people live, work, consume and enjoy their lives on this planet. Why don't we, as humanity, choose a better way? Why don't we choose health and happiness over wealth as our primary measure of success? Do stay engaged and contribute to this dialog.

Sudhakar Ram is Chairman and Co-Founder of IT solutions provider, Mastek. He believes that creating a sustainable world would require a shift in the "constructs" that drive our attitudes and actions. The New Constructs is an initiative to examine our beliefs and assumptions - about life and living - that we need to reinvent in order to create a more inclusive and sustainable world. It is an opportunity for each one of us to connect, collaborate and co-create the world that we will rebuild for posterity. Do post your own examples on the Wall.

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Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Effect of Global Warming on Polar Bears

By Charles Cridland

The impact of global warming on polar bears is having far reaching effects. Polar bears are a part of a very delicately balanced ecosystem. As global temperatures rise the Arctic sea ice is melting and it is reported by the U.S. Geological Survey Office that there will be a reduction of as much as 2/3's in the polar bear population over the next 50 years.

As the ice melts these iconic animals are losing their habitat and hunting grounds. They mainly hunt seals, which live on arctic ice. The seals swim under the pack ice, surfacing through breathing holes for air and to rest upon the ice. The polar bears lay in wait at these breathing holes, to capture their prey.

Due to the significant loss of ice and the rapidly disappearing hunting grounds of these magnificent creatures, up to 70% of them do not survive beyond 3 years of age. Many are simply starving to death due to lack of a reliable food source. In 2007 a record low in the surface area of summer pack ice was recorded in the Arctic ocean, equivalent to an area the size of Texas and Alaska combined!

NASA scientists project that by 2012 all the pack ice may well be gone. Floating sea ice platforms is becoming less accessible to the bears as they are further out from shore. It is suspected that many bears are drowning due to rougher seas and retreating pack ice.

The impact of global warming is affecting their feeding grounds due to the fact that rougher seas and less pack ice means that seals can't as easily access the rich feeding grounds. This means that there are less seals able to access food, which means that their numbers are declining. Less seals means a decrease in the food source for polar bears.

Find out more about endangered animals at Animal Adoptions or purchase a polar bear adoption gift pack.

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Make a Difference - Choose Vegan Friendly Products For a Healthy Life Style and a Clean Environment

By Sudhir Naikand Shraddha N.

About the effectiveness of the vegan philosophy and life style

Veganism is a "philosophy of life", guided by core values and principles rather than just a diet as is popularly believed. Vegans see life whether it is humans or any other living beings as a phenomenon to be treasured, revered and respected. They typically do not see animals as their enemy or the items for food, fabric or fun that were put on earth for human use.

It is a message of benevolence or "Ahimsa" which the Buddhists generally practice and preach. The roots and origin of it is not correctly known however, the first vegan society was formed in Britain in 1944. There is a growing evidence of popularity of veganism which is obvious with people buying vegan friendly products such as vegan shampoo, lotions, toothpaste, creams, toiletries and vegan cosmetics.

Vegan Diets

These diets are good for everybody, free of cholesterol and are generally low in saturated fats. The food products consists of only plants, herbs and exclude all forms of meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, eggs, and even honey. Therefore, observing veganism and adhering to this diet makes it easy to conform to prescriptions given for reducing the risk of major chronic ailments like heart disease, blood pressure and cancer. Also, high-cholesterol foods including oils, margarine, nuts, nut butters, seed butters, avocado, and coconut should be used sparingly. Natural and raw vegetarian food such as fruits, vegetables and herbs should be consumed in plenty.

Vegan Friendly Products

Vegan friendly products come in multitude of forms used in daily skin and body care e.g. vegan shampoo, lotion, toiletries, cosmetics and toothpaste. Even chocolates have turned vegan friendly, you can easily buy such chocolates from trustworthy vegan stores. They adhere strictly to the standards while manufacturing without resorting to any usage of synthetic materials.

For manufacturing vegan shampoo, ingredients such as herbal extracts, essences and oils of herbs like aloe vera, lavender and chamomile are used. These shampoos have natural fragrances and are free from artificially introduced aromas. Vegan shampoos do not contain any synthetic fragrances, which are a source of skin irritation for many people prone to allergies. In the quest to create the finest organic skin and hair care products, vegan cosmetics are found to be best among all the products. These products are not tested on animals.

Best Homemade Vegan Shampoo

Homemade cosmetics, gel and lotions bestow you radiant skin and the shampoos allow you to enjoy gorgeous, glossy clean hair thanks to their nutrient-rich, natural formulas. Homemade vegan shampoo uses soap root which comes from a plant called Saponaria. Soap root is a member of the carnation family, whose flowers bloom only at night, this plant is used for hundred of years as an alternative for shampoo and soap. The roots of the Saponaria plant can be crushed and used in natural soaps and shampoos.

Do Vegans live longer due to usage of herbs and plants?

Though there is little information on the longevity and health of vegans due to few numbers of people following veganism and less number of studies conducted throughout the world, epidemiological studies of mortality in vegans and vegetarians indicate plant-based diets are healthier and good for ailment free life-style. A diet comprising of largely or entirely herbs and plants is eco-friendly and has several potential advantages of health and ecological impact. Further scientific research on herb-based diets and its impact on health is therefore a matter of priority for the future. There is however, ample evidence that people who consume a regular rich diet of herbs, fruits and vegetables get plenty of antioxidants which are the key elements of longevity and disease free life style.

Sudhir Naik co-wrote the above article with Shraddha N. and has been caring for herbs for over 20 years. He is a contributing writer to site - providing information and tips on how to grow a home herb garden. Vegan philosophy and life style based on herbs and plants is beneficial for not only yourself, but the environment around you. When you choose vegan products you save not only precious dollars; but you are also getting the benefits of using plants and herbs rich in proteins, vitamins and antioxidants from your own home or kitchen herb garden.

Sign up for a Evergreen Herb Garden Mini-Course and procure your own copy of herb gardening ebook "Secrets Of Evergreen Herb gardening" to start growing herbs that can be used for a complete vegan life style. Herb tinctures, lotions and gels are excellent for skin, body and hair care. Use homemade vegan shampoo for smooth and glossy hair. Consume rich herbal diet, increase immunity and develop resistance to common ailments, heart diseases and lead a healthy vegan lifestyle.

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Deforestation in the United States - The Loss of American Forests and Woodlands

By Inez Calender

At one time, the northwest coast and East Coast of the United States (from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mississippi River) was a huge, ancient forest. Now, only small pockets remain. The loss of virgin forest through logging, importation of blighted trees and wood products, agriculture, and monoculture has changed the face of America.

The timber industry has long been an important feature of the United States economy, providing wood and many well paying jobs. But without regulation and due to ever-increasing demand for wood products and land for developments, the American forest has suffered incredible devastation.

Trees prevent erosion. They trap and retain water. When rain falls on exposed, clear cut land, nutrients in the earth are lost along with the top soil that is washed away. Clear cutting causes flooding due to excessive run-off. The loss of shade creates a rise in temperature along streams and rivers, which effects fish and amphibian life that depend on certain temperature levels. Wildlife habitat, destroyed by deforestation has endangered America's plants and animals, leading to the extinction or near extinction of certain species.

From the earliest colonial times, trees have played an important role in America's history and economy. Early colonists felt uncomfortable in the great, virgin forest that was the East Cost of America. The huge, ancient trees and darkness gathered there made the colonists nervous. Of course, trees had to be removed for agriculture and homesteads and much of the old forest was removed for a fledgling timber industry. The American colonies became a seemingly limitless source of lumber for Europe.

America has been faced with several tree losses. Many cities and towns attempted to beautify their streets by planting American elm trees. The tall, gracefully shaped trees provided shade and created lovely tree lined streets in urban neighborhoods as well as the beautiful avenues of trees sentimentally associated with small town America. But the planting of a single type of tree, which is called monoculture, created a terrible loss for those areas. Dutch elm disease devastated those lovely avenues of trees during several outbreaks in the twentieth century. By the late 1960's, few American elms remained.

Another blight attacked American chestnut trees in the early part of the 20th century. Chestnut trees were once a dominant hardwood species in American forests. The importation of Japanese chestnuts introduced a blight first identified at the New York Botanical Gardens in 1904. While the imported chestnut trees were blight resistant, the disease spread throughout America creating what has been called the worst ecological disaster in the United States.

Southern hardwood forests began to disappear at an alarming rate following the American Civil War when timber companies logged out vast tracts of old growth forest. Millions of acres have been lost since then. In the mid twentieth century, the explosion of interest in soy bean production encouraged land owners to clear cut old growth forests in order to dedicate the land to soy beans. The resulting loss of ancient forests eventually destroyed what was left of the great southern forests and the habitat of the Ivory Billed woodpecker, an impressive bird of the south now thought to be extinct.

The West Coast was once home to extensive tracts of virgin redwood forests. Timber industry reduced the size of the ancient forests. In 1963, a National Geographic survey found that only 300,000 acres of redwood forest form the original two million acres remained.

Industrial interests have long battled with ecological interests over the condition of American forests. Timber industry decries government regulation claiming that they have a right to clear cut, that it creates jobs and business opportunity for the United States. Agriculture demands large, open areas for food production. Housing development invaded forested areas during the housing boom of the late twentieth century. But there must be a balance between business and environmental interests. The virgin forests are gone, now. Only hidden pockets remain. But the few ancient wooded areas must be preserved. They are our national heritage, a reminder of the America that once spread beneath a leafy canopy of trees.

Read the story of the Ivory Bill Woodpecker, with pictures and links concerning the debate over its extinction. Is the Ivory Bill still with us?

A beautiful story of personal loss, how a child's view of the world grew and changed in a woods.

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The Green Myth of Eco Towns

By Joseph A Knight

Eco Towns, initially proposed in 2007 as zero carbon, energy efficient settlements, intended to cut emissions and allow a sustainable lifestyle. This in theory works, however, to allow development a vast amount of Greenfield land needs to be made available.

It would perhaps be wiser to instead concentrate development on existing urban settlements, which have infrastructure in place. This would be a much cheaper alternative, avoiding the possibility of creating an adverse 'Truman Effect' whilst minimizing the amount of green spaces consumed.

Concentrating our development to existing settlements has many benefits, not least because:
The majority of our towns and cities have been in existence for a long and substantial time, e.g. Durham, consequently they have since evolved to provide efficient and practical places in which to live. A luxury ill afforded to new settlements.

New Eco Town development, is highly dependent on the skill of the planning consultants involved, and as such may be prone to problems commonly encountered during the rapid building phase of the 1970s, with many residential tower blocks still in disrepair and or being demolished to date.

Focusing efforts on existing towns/cities will have initial direct CO2 savings through the reduced building load required, as a vast amount of infrastructure and facilities are already currently in place, including schools, hospitals to rail networks and tram systems. Lower building requirements will also achieve further environmental benefits through the avoidance and or reduction in use of concrete, which is a major contributor to CO2 emissions.

Increasing densities of urban areas will in part reduce our carbon footprint in the long term, if planned and implemented in the right manner, due to closer proximity of services etc; an example of this is New York, which collectively operate to have a low CO2 output.

Shifting our focus of development firstly to Brownfield sites should be encouraged, achieved through government initiatives and financial incentives to commercial organizations. This will endeavor to maximize the efficiency of our current urban landscapes.

Where these sites are not available, attempts should be made to identify suitable sites, which may warrant higher densities, (e.g. those in city center locations can achieve higher yields, making building of skyscrapers and multiple floored accommodation commercially viable). Only once these avenues have been fully explored, should we consider building on Greenfield sites, and where this occurs, this should be in an Urban Sprawl pattern, continuing the traditional expansion of following major transport routes and in familiar Ribbon development patterns.

Therefore, as this article emphasizes, there is great cause for concern with the planned new Eco Towns, and although theoretically plausible, it would require a significant amount of resources to implement, with adverse environmental side effects to boot.

It is likely, that without undue pressures from housing developers and attempts by politicians to appear forward thinking, the case for Eco Towns would have been dropped a long time ago, however as the debate rumbles on, the possibility for their inclusion gets ever closer.

This article was produced by Joseph Knight at energy measures. Please visit for more information on Solar Panels And Wind Turbines and other related topics.

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CASE STUDY: From Red to Green - Gary Neville's New Eco Home

By Hugo Green and Una Lesseon

The plans indicate that the home would be set into the ground and seamlessly fit into the surrounding moorland. The house which has been 3 years in the planning will be built in the grounds of Gary's current mansion and is thought to be his dream home.

Whilst many footballers have a reputation for garish design choices it seems Gary and his family are taking the issues of going green very seriously demonstrated by being prepared to spend a speculated £6 million on the proposed development. At 8000 square feet the eco home will have a huge kitchen at the centre from which other living spaces will spider off. Architect have analogised the proposals to that of a modern day Stone Age settlement. Rather cruelly some have also likened it to the home of the Teletubbies!

Capitalising on the moorland location Gary plans to install a 39 metre high wind turbine which along with ground heat pump technology will not only make the planned home energy dependent but his neighbouring 12 bedroom mansion.

Gary appeared personally to discuss with planning official at Bolton Council his designs. It is reported that the council were left very impressed. It is understood that the designs are at the forefront of zero carbon design leading the government officials to state that it will be a 'benchmark for future eco-homes'. Stuart Fraser of Make Architects who have been working with Gary on the plans said that "It is great to work with a client who is so passionate about issues and he is hoping this property, if it gets the go-ahead, will raise the bar when it comes to green and sustainable living."

To add to his green credibility Gary has even been seeing parking his newly acquired Toyota Prius next to his team mates Bentleys, Ferraris and Range Rovers. In addition Gary, nearing the end of his playing career, is planning to retire from Manchester United with an ecofriendly testimonial with Old Trafford entirely lit by wind power.

Hugo Green has worked in the Land Survey industry for over 10 years, and specialises in eco developments and land risk assesment. Find more information on his Land Survey website:

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5 Ways to Protect the Environment Outdoors

By Marc Fields

Picture yourself outdoors. You are camping, or working out in your garden, or simply taking a walk. You feel at one with nature ... but are you harming that nature while you are at it? The chances are actually pretty good that you are harming the environment, even when your intention is to enjoy the atmosphere or to make it more beautiful.

Be more aware of what you are doing outdoors. Most people don't even think about how much they are harming the environment when they are making their yards more pleasing to the eye. Furthermore, people rarely take the time to enjoy their lawns and gardens anymore. Today, we want to use the highest powered equipment to get the job done in the least amount of time.

Stop thinking of it as work, and start thinking of it as a way to enjoy nature - as well as a way to get a fantastic workout. Get the whole family involved, and get out there for some much needed sunshine while the ozone layer is still protecting you...just be sure to wear your sun block. Here are ten ways that you can protect the environment when you are outdoors.

1. Get rid of that old gas powered lawn mower, and the riding lawn mower. Instead, use an electric lawnmower - if you must - and if you really want to do your part, and get a great workout, use a non-electric, non-gasoline powered mower. Instead of electric or gas powered trimmers, use old fashioned hedge trimmers. Instead of electric edgers, use the manual ones. Instead of weed eaters, get down on your hands and knees and pull those weeds. It's great exercise!

2. Do not bag the grass that has been cut! Sure, it makes your lawn look nicer, and it is easier than raking, but you aren't doing the environment any good at all. That cut grass needs to be left alone, so that it can decompose naturally, which in turn feeds nutrients to the soil.

3. If you must water your lawn, do it once a day, and do it early in the morning. Don't over water the lawn. Also note that it may not look that fabulous when it is under watered, but when the rains come - and they always eventually come - it will get its good healthy green color back again. Sometimes, it is best to let Mother Nature take care of nature.

4. Use a rake. Avoid using blowers and such. These only stir up dust, and they aren't very good for the environment. Raking is fine, and its great exercise. If you don't want to do it, hire a neighborhood kid to do it for you.

5. Create a compost pile or bin. This compost makes great, natural fertilizer, and it enables you to recycle your waste, as long as the waste was 'natural' to begin with. Compost piles are very easy to create. The environment will thank you - and so will your gardens later on.

Marc has been a content publisher for over 10 years. Come visit one of his website which helps people find the best Car Accessories and provides a review of Cheap Radar Detectors.

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BOOK REVIEW: Ready, Set, Green - Eight Weeks to Modern Eco-Living

By Heidi Thorne

I've got to admit that I am usually skeptical about books that show you how to go green. Sometimes the suggestions are so bizarre that you can just about guarantee that no one will be taking them seriously. So you can imagine that I was pleasantly surprised that the book, Ready, Set Green: Eight Weeks to Modern Eco-Living by Graham Hill and Meaghan O'Neill of Treehugger provided many usable suggestions for the greener lifestyle.

The "Save the Planet in 30 Minutes or Less" lists of suggestions, followed by "So You Want to Do More" lists, are extremely user-friendly which can help gain buy in from readers. Symbols are also used to indicate benefits to gain from the efforts. And the benefits aren't just green. They include saving money, saving time, and improving health, too. Brilliant and missing from many other works of the green genre.

The ecofriendly factoid and myth buster box items highlight interesting and useful information. Background data is presented in an informative and less judgmental manner than I have seen in other works. As well, the focus on how it impacts the reader helps drive the points home.

There were really only two issues I had with the book.

First, there was the obligatory ride your bike suggestion. As I am writing this review, it is now 8 degrees Fahrenheit with a predicted high of 14 tomorrow here in Chicago. This one (and walking) usually falls on deaf ears, except in warmer seasons, in climates like this. Additionally, urban sprawl with high speed highways and no bike lanes often makes it a dangerous endeavor, especially in early morning or evening. These types of efforts will require entire community and governmental support to become workable.

Second, many of the products suggested are obscure brands that you will not find at your local Target or grocery store. So if I have to order them and incur shipping costs, both financial and environmental, have we made progress? The limited availability of more earth friendly and socially conscious product choices in highly frequented retail outlets is one of the major challenges to the green consumer movement.

Because of its incredibly user-friendly format and clearly presented and useful information, Ready, Set Green is a must-read for those who want to learn some real world ways to go green.

Want to know how "green" your promotional products are? Get the Green Promo Product Score Sheet, developed by Heidi Thorne, which is available for free download at
Then when it's time to shop for your next ecofriendly giveaway, head over to

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CASE STUDY: Australia's Water Conservation Programs and How They Could Help the US

By Courtney Shipe

According to geologists, "Australia is presently categorized as a high-risk area for water deficiency." This shortage has meant that the country has had to be creative with conservation methods and water recycling programs. Here are some of the methods Australia is currently using and how the United States could benefit from implementing similar ideas.

One program that Australia has had success with is the "BlueScope Tank a Day Challenge". Designed especially for children, this program "presents information on the importance of water conservation in the form of a game. The website, which explains the challenge, is created with colorful characters and inviting scenes meant to engage kids." Children can work through the various elements of the game, including quizzes and interactive games. Since the government started the challenge, over 2000 of Australia's primary schools have participated and the 200 prizes, a water tank for the school, were quickly snapped up.

How could this program be of use in the US? First, by creating a program that appealed to children, Australia has begun teaching their next generation that water conservation is important. Secondly, they encouraged every family within all two thousand schools that participated to think about conservation and how they could do their part. Third, the prize fit in with the goal of water conservation: a rainwater tank and pump. If state and local governments in the United States can emulate the success of Australia's Tank a Day Challenge, not only would they conserve water in the short term, but they would be teaching America's children the importance of water conservation for the future.

Australia's Water Conservation and Reuse Research Program is another that America should imitate. The focus of this program is "to find ways of using the sewage water for irrigation and reducing the level of pollutants that enter the soil and make it infertile." Public awareness campaigns are also a part of this program. Different US states have programs that are somewhat similar to this in the public awareness category, but many US programs leave out the critical step of researching new ways to reuse wastewater.

There are few filtering systems in the US that already reclaim sewer water into potable, drinking water, so the technology does exist. The greatest problem is convincing a reluctant public that wastewater can be cleaned up thoroughly enough to be safe. If American states can put into practice a program such as Australia's and begin filtering their sewer water like Texas, Virginia, and California than many state's water shortages will be significantly impacted.

For more information about water conservation, please visit

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Costs of Flood Defense Expecting to Increase - The Importance of Preparation

By Richard N Williams

The cost of the previous flooding that impacted heavily on parts of England and Wales and unless major investment is placed into the flood defense, the costs of flood damage could increase many times.

And if the costs of repair and loss of business following floods does indeed rise, many homeowners and businesses may find it harder to get insurance, and in the current economic climate another summer of floods could see many people losing their homes permanently and business folding for good.

Instant sandbag

But flood prevention, does not just start at the top with large civil engineering projects like flood barriers, there is plenty the average home owner can do to reduce the risk of flooding and minimise any damage following a flood. The key is to be prepared. Flood gates, flood seals for toilets, air vents and other flood defense measures like sandbags should be bought and stored in advance. Make sure you know how to use the flood defense equipment and practice flood proofing your home. Remember, flooding can happen with very little warning so you don't have time to be running around looking for sand for sandbags or trying to find assistance to help fill them.

In the case of sandbags, which are obviously impractical to be stored full - and if there is no nearby source of sand to fill them - you could consider instant sandbags that don't require sand at all. These use water (never in short supply during a flood) and take minutes to fill to become water tight.

Making sure you are prepared for any potential flooding may also help reduce insurance premiums and certainly cut down the amount you may have to claim if the worst does happen and a flood hits your home or business.

1.Richard N Williams is a technical author and professional writer who is interested in flooding, flood defences and flood management. Please visit us if you would like more information about flood prevention or require more information on Instant Sandbags

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Animal Conservation Work Beneath the Waves

By Mark Bottell

Interested in animal conservation work beneath the waves? Here are three animals you could help save.

When people think of animal conservation work, they doubtless imagine working with elephants in a South African game reserve or tracking leopards across the Serengeti. The last place most people think of volunteering to help animals is in the ocean itself. But marine animals face just as many dangers as those on dry land.

Fishing, pollution, poaching and habitat destruction pose a major threat to countless ocean creatures, and dedicated conservation efforts are required to ensure that certain animals do not disappear forever. If you'd like to combine a love of the sea with voluntary work with animals, here are three of the creatures that you could help to protect.


Despite their reputation as fearsome predators (or perhaps because of this reputation) there are many species of shark that are threatened and endangered. Shark conservation presents some pretty unique challenges, but can be an exhilarating project to be involved with. Whether it is directly observing sharks in their natural habitats, tracking migration patterns through electronic tagging or crunching numbers and estimating population sizes back at base, there is a great diversity of work to be done in this branch of animal conservation work. One example of a place that does this kind of work is the Tiger Shark Volunteer Research Programme in South Africa.


Dolphins have a considerably more favourable reputation than sharks, but they face many of the same threats, from being caught up in fishing nets to being hunted and used as an exotic delicacy. These intelligent and beautiful creatures are a delight to be around on a period of animal conservation work, and there are many specific projects, such as the O.R.C.A Marine Foundation in Plettenberg Bay, South Africa, dedicated to working with dolphins and whales. Typically, this kind of work involves a mixture of observation and research on the animals themselves and working with local communities to raise awareness and try and prevent destruction of habitat.


Most turtle conservation work focuses on protecting breeding grounds and increasing the number of newly hatched turtles that make it to safety. An example of one such place where this work goes on is Goa. Better known as one of the most popular tourist destinations in India, it is also a prime breeding ground for turtles. Every year, thousands of eggs are laid on the beach at Goa, but relatively few survive. Many are picked off by predators or succumb to the elements, but many more are the victims of human intervention that damages their habitat - many traditional turtle breeding grounds have been overrun by tourists looking for beaches to explore. Turtle conservationists try and help by making sure that beaches are clean and unpolluted, and by trying to prevent incursions by tourists. It is challenging and delicate work, but hugely rewarding.

Whether you want to swim with sharks or work on preserving the breeding grounds of turtles, there is certain to be a branch of animal conservation work somewhere in the world that is perfectly suited for you.

Mark Bottell is the General Manager for Worldwide Experience, an online tour operator offering extended breaks in animal conservation work and various adventurous gap years for adults.

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Looking After Our Forests

By Jack A. Burton

How can we make sure that our forests are going to be here for generations to come? How can we insure that we are not going to make the same mistakes that were made in the past? In the past we have ripped into our forests as if they were a never-ending supply of timber. Now, some of our best assets have been ripped out of the ground and is very difficult to see a time when we will ever have such forest resources again.

The problem is that economics is always going to take a front seat when it comes to producing anything and that includes forest growth. But if we don't rein back on exactly how we are looking after our forests, then we will have no forests in the future. At the end of the day, everybody needs a pay check; the people who are working in the forest are never going to be willing to do the work for nothing, so we have to profit from what we are doing. But if the profit is the ruination of the source of the profit then we are doomed.

Our forests have kept whole communities going for generations. There are many families who have worked in nothing else except the forestry industry, their families have been built on forestry, businesses have been built around forestry, indeed there are whole communities that have been established and arisen because of the need for forestry workers. And if we are to keep the long-term sustainability of this forestry we have to act smart. We must implement a best forestry practice which at the end of the day means sustainable forest management.

In Irish forestry, as in forestry anywhere, the responsibility for the implementation of sustainable forest management is not only the responsibility of the management. It is also the responsibility of the guy who plants the trees, the guy who fells the trees, the guy who transports the trees to the mill, the guys who works the sawmill, in order to be successful everybody has to be responsible for the best practices being implemented.

One of the companies that believe in best forest practices in Ireland is Forest Ireland. They believe that the overall gains that will come about by practicing sustainable forest management not only affect those who work in the industry, they will also affects society in general. By planting more trees, Ireland has the capacity to plan to double the amount of Irish forestry that country now possesses, we should be providing jobs of the future and should ensure that we are providing a cleaner environment for our children to grow up in.

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A Conversation About Conservation

By Mark Bottell

Although the subject of wildlife conservation is fairly high profile, with gap year placements and volunteer tourism holidays becoming more and more common, there are still many projects around the world that are struggling to maintain enough funding and manpower to survive. So, once you decide that a wildlife conservation holiday is what you want to do, how do you choose where to go, and who to save? Is any one animal more important than another? Is any one in greater imminent danger than the rest? What an agonising decision to make! In order to weigh everything up, wouldn't it be great if you could have a chat with each of the animals and let them plead their case ...

The Lovely Leopard

The secretive and elusive leopard has one obvious thing in his favour - his undeniable style and stunning appearance. No one in the jungle is a smoother character than he, but good looks alone are not enough to ensure the future of your species. So just how would our spotted hero convince you to come on a date to his wildlife conservation project? Firstly he would point out his unique beauty is not only virtually inimitable (except perhaps by his distant cousin several times removed, the cheetah), but extremely useful as well.

He's not just a pretty face and his clever camouflage has enabled him to evolve into the jungles' most stealthy and cunning hunter. His reputation as an indiscriminate killer is unfounded, and in fact the leopard hunts only what he needs, so he would point out his attributes as a fair but firm team player. In danger from not only declining habitats but also from poachers for his prized coat, in perhaps his strongest argument of all, the leopard would remind you of how much more amazing that coat would look on the move, rather than on someone's floor ...

The Excellent Elephant

Surely the gentle giant of the jungle wouldn't need to try too hard to convince you that he needs to be high on your list of wildlife conservation efforts? But he would be quick to trumpet about his stature as the largest living land mammal (that's if he's an African Elephant), and the fact that his most recognisable feature, his magnificent trunk, is one of the most adaptable tools in the animal kingdom. He uses it as a hand, a nose, straw, a duster, a digger and a signaling instrument! Anyone that versatile is surely a most valuable member of the jungle? With few enemies, the elephant lives as part of a stoic family unit and perhaps he would argue that as the nice guy of the jungle, he should be preserved to keep the peace with his firm but fair hand (errm ... foot).

The Terrific Turtles

Not commonly thought of as endangered, the poor old turtle does indeed have to work very hard for his survival. In fact, Marine turtles are amongst the most threatened animals in the world. But if you met this cute, hardy fellow, surely his wildlife conservation project would be the one to win your heart? He would remind you that he was one of Nature's most self-sufficient creatures and, far from being a drain on the eco-system, in fact he carries his own home on his back! Not just tough on the outside, this robust little soldier has a heart like a hero, and he could stick his neck out by suggesting that if God helps those who help themselves... then he should be a prime candidate for your assistance!

Mark Bottell is the General Manager for Worldwide Experience, an online tour operator offering extended breaks in wildlife conservation holidays and various adventurous gap years for adults.

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Green Catering - Another New Trend?

By Chris Schnik

Another new organic market seems to have come from the Portland catering industry and that is organic catering. The first organization for green catering has recently been started in NW Oregon zeroing in on making more people know about the benefits of green catering. They want to get the word out that it is not just about organic food but entails much more.

First thing we need to define is what sustainability is. Coming from the World Commission on Environment and Development is the best known definition of sustainability. This suggests that sustainability is defined as "forms of progress that meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs." Hey, I'm all for that, it's so important to take care of our future generations, our children, our grandchildren and our grandchildren's children. But according to some caterers in Portland, organic catering is much more and believes that it has 3 primary facets. They are people, planet and profit.

These three things are what encompass sustainability. People. How can catering companies be green without the support of its employees? The owner can mandate that the leftovers be saved for compost or turn the lights off, but if the employee's are not motivated or care then it won't work. They have to care too, and that comes down to educating them about the benefits of being green, and that leads into our second facet, planet.

Do your people care about taking care of our planet? Do they know and care about the implications that pertain to keeping the planet healthy. Both of these tie into each other in more than one way and both link to the last one and that is profit.

Those that care about being sustainable are going to enjoy an increase in profits from several different angles. The first one would be that the savings in energy and waste would benefit the catering company. The second and most important one is the fact that the catering business is a "green Catering Company" and can advertise that way and reap the benefits of the ever increasing market.

We all know that with the harsh economy more and more people are trying to make things work and one way that many of them are doing that is by going green and growing their own gardens. This type of mentality contributes to the love of going organic and boosts any organic Catering company, even the Caterers in Portland Oregon.

A food writer in the Catering Portland Oregon community and advises Portland Caterers in sustainable catering.

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Locavore - Eating Locally

By Eric Karlins

"Locavore" was the Oxford American Dictionary Word of the Year in 2007. A locavore is someone who makes an effort to eat food that comes from his or her surrounding area. Some insist on food coming from within a 100-mile radius of their homes, others are less strict. What are the benefits of eating locally? How difficult is it to be a locavore? What resources are available to locavores in the five boroughs? This article will answer those initial questions and help you find the right questions to ask.

You may be thinking, "Isn't most of the food I can buy in New York from New York?" No. No, it is not. The modern food system in America is built on the platform of cheap food. Most of the food in this country comes from huge assembly line operations that run like factories, giving birth to the term "factory farm." These factory farms ship to locations around the world driving out small farms that cannot compete on price. A walk through the produce section of your local grocery store is like a trip to California and South America. The meat and dairy departments will take you to the Midwest. Purchasing seafood is practically a world tour. Being a locavore in New York takes effort.

There are lots of reasons people are willing to put in the effort to eat locally in New York. Local eating, compared to indiscriminate eating, consumes less oil, is better for the environment, is better for our health, is kinder to animals, supports a local economy, puts eaters in touch with the seasons, and just plain tastes better. Some of these benefits rely on your ability to ask the producer questions about the food production, a task that is much easier in a local food system where direct farm-to-consumer sales are the norm.

When consumers consciously consider food choices, they can reduce oil consumption and usage. The obvious oil usage comes from transport of food products. As mentioned in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, on average, food in this country travels about 1500 miles to your plate. And when you think about processed foods typically comprising many ingredients shipped from several distant locations, it's easy to see that a wise food choice can have immensely positive effects. Combining the environmental effects of consuming local products and organic products can make an even bigger impact.

Eating organic greatly reduces oil consumption in the growing of produce and animal feed by eliminating the use of synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides, which all require oil in their production. The conventional (inefficient) food production model requires more calories of oil than calories of food produced. The organic system uses one calorie of fossil fuel for every two calories of food. In her popular locavore book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, Barbara Kingsolver writes that if every U.S. citizen ate one more meal a week composed entirely of locally and organically raised meat and produce we could reduce our country's oil consumption by over 30 million gallons of oil every week.

In addition to oil usage the conventional food system takes its toll on the environment in other ways. The transport itself increases air pollution and releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. More pollution is caused by excessive use of chemical pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers. These excess chemicals end up in our waterways. As stated in The Omnivore's Dilemma nitrogen from synthetic fertilizer coupled with runoff from animal confinement feedlots has created an algal bloom dead zone the size of the state of New Jersey in the Gulf of Mexico.

The use of chemical fertilizers also creates imbalance in the soil by dousing the land with nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium and little else. This imbalance depletes the soil of other nutrients. It is certainly possible that farmers in your local region are using theses harmful conventional methods, however, it is much easier to learn how your food is produced when you can talk to the farmer at your local market, or better yet, schedule a visit to the source.

It is undeniable that eating local farm-to-table foods is better for consumer health. The so-called "Western" diet, heavy in processed foods, is thought to contribute to many health problems including obesity, adult-onset diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Buying foods directly from farms avoids processed foods entirely. Fresher produce is known to have more nutrients than produce that has traveled long distances in a truck bed. Organic produce also contains more nutrients and antioxidants than conventional produce. The antioxidants are the plants natural pesticide.

Think about it: a plant that needs to fight pests on its own logically would contain more antioxidants than a plant sprayed with a chemical pesticide. Some produce found in grocery stores or restaurants are genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The health effects of GMOs are unknown. The studies that have been done on them are extremely biased as most of the studies are funded by the companies that create GMOs.

In addition to the benefits derived from eating local fruits, vegetables, grains, and other plant matter, animal products from small local farms are healthier in general as well. Animals raised on pasture produce healthier eggs, meat, and dairy. Compared to your typical grocery store eggs from factory farmed chickens pastured eggs have 1/3 less cholesterol, 1/4 less saturated fat, 2/3 more vitamin A, 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids, 3 times more vitamin E, and 7 times more beta carotene. Grass-fed beef has shown similar health benefits when compared to feedlot grain-fed beef.

As a species, humans have evolved to rely on food found in nature. We are designed to reap the most benefit from our foods when nutrients are present in their natural proportions. For example, as described in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, spinach is known to be high in iron, but it is the calcium also found in spinach that allows our bodies to absorb most of the iron in the spinach. In his book, In Defense of Food, Michael Pollan advises us to eat foods that humans have relied on for centuries. He reports that societies relying on a "traditional" diet of foods found in nearby regions have a much lower incidence of so-called "Western" diseases.

One of the most compelling reasons to buy directly from local farmers is to support farms that treat animals humanely. For animals involved in the production of meat, dairy, and eggs found in most grocery stores and restaurants, cruelty is the norm. Animal cruelty laws, which protect our pets don't apply to farm animals.

Regardless of the fact that pigs are known to be as smart as dogs, they can legally be confined for most of their lives in a pen that doesn't even give them enough room to turn around. Because of the amount of pigs in these confinement facilities waste builds up, damaging air quality. The damage is so severe that when people enter these pig facilities they must put on masks in order to breathe. But the pigs' airways are allowed to be constantly damaged by this toxic air. This type of cruelty extends to most animals farmed throughout the world. It might be a stretch to ask that all farm animals be treated like family pets, but they are not even treated as well as their wild counterparts. Even if farm animals are destined to have short lives, there is no excuse for torturing them while they are on this earth.

To read more about farm animal rights I recommend the animal rights classic Animal Liberation. Be warned, however, that Peter Singer will try to convince you to become a vegetarian. He does have a good argument for vegetarianism, but he also concedes that eating products from humanely raised animals is acceptable as well. Though attaining food from humanely treated animals was extremely difficult when Animal Liberation was first published in 1975, it is much less difficult today.

The beauty of direct sales from farmer to consumer is that you, as consumer, can head to your local farmers market and talk to the person responsible for the food on your plate. Talking to farmers is an excellent way to eat consciously. Learn a little bit about the various forms of animal cruelty, and then ask farmers at market if they engage in those activities. You may also want to ask farmers what they feed their animals. Ruminants, like cows, sheep, and goats, have evolved to subsist on grass and forage and when farmers feed these animals grains, it can cause discomfort and health problems for the animals.

Buying food from local farms can also be a conservation effort. There are many species and breeds of plants and animals that are farmed so rarely that they are endanger of extinction. It may seem counter-intuitive, but the only way to encourage the continued existence of these rare domestic plants and animals is to eat them. According to Slow Food International's Ark of Taste "93% of North American food product diversity has been lost since 1900." The large farms supplying most grocery stores and restaurants are not supplying diversity. It is the small farms, which you can find in your local farmers market, that present a more diverse selection of plant and animal species and breeds.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle states that "according to Indian crop ecologist Vandana Shiva, humans have eaten some 80,000 plant species in our history. After recent precipitous changes, three-quarters of all human food now comes from just eight species, with the field quickly narrowing down to genetically modified corn, soy, and canola." There are many breeds of farm animals, once prevalent, that are now almost nonexistent. But look to your local farms to find meat from Red Wattle Hogs, Navajo Churro Sheep, Buckeye Chicken, or Pineywoods cattle.

Supporting local farms is also a great way to support members of our community and boost the economy in our region. It takes effort to buy local food. There are more convenient ways to get food on the table. However, eating locally makes a statement that where your food comes from is important to you. The more consumers care about local eating, the greater the chance that convenient ways to eat locally will arise. Eating locally will put you in touch with the seasons and connect you to your region with the added benefit of eating produce when it's at its peak. In this country it's rare to find truly regional cuisine.

If America is to grow as a gourmet nation we need to develop cuisine based on fresh, local ingredients and establish/reestablish good regional cooking. As it is, much of the cuisine in America relies on ingredients from other parts of the world so the food is destined to be inferior to food eaten in its indigenous region. Which brings us to the best thing about local food: it tastes better. Fresher food tastes better than food that sits on a truck, boat, or plane traveling. Grocery store produce is often bred for shelf-life while sacrificing taste. As long as the produce looks good and can survive shipping and sitting in the store for a while, taste is not a big concern. When you start buying local produce you may find a few odd-shaped vegetables, but they are all grown with taste, first and foremost, in mind.

Grocery stores make other concessions which sacrifice taste. For example milk is sometimes ultra-pasteurized, which increases shelf life but results in bland milk. Grocery store fish and meat is sometimes color enhanced so you can't use color as a guide of freshness either. The same can be true for fruits and vegetables, which are often picked well before they are ripe and then sprayed with ethylene, a plant hormone, which changes the color of the fruit to give the appearance of ripeness. To ensure your food is fresh, make an effort to buy as much food as you can from local farms.

Eric Karlins, freelance writer for One Earth, invites you to submit your knowledge of sustainability to the index on The index works like Wikipedia and it's free. By contributing to the index, you'll help people find ways of reducing their negative impact on the environment. You can also search and browse for ways to reduce you're negative impact on the environment. The index is organized by city and further broken down into categories, so it's very easy to find what you're looking for.

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Whatever Came Out of That Whole Thing in Copenhagen?

By John E Poole

I just spent the past hour sifting through articles on this climate change summit that just ended in Copenhagen. OK, OK, I only sifted through articles for about 20 minutes, but still, I never got any feeling that something was actually accomplished at this 11 day conference which included 190 countries. And I may have this feeling because nothing actually was accomplished at the summit. However, I get mixed reviews about this.

The goal of the Copenhagen summit was to come to a legally binding worldwide agreement that would tackle climate change by mandating the reduction in carbon emissions by developed nations and require financial assistance to developing countries to curb increasing emissions. More specifically the goal was to get developed and poorer nations to agree to a 50 percent emissions cut by 2050, as compared to 2000 levels. However, I did learn that it became clear very early on in the summit that there was no way this kind of agreement would be made.

I read that the summit was being described as everything from "lacking" to "chaotic" and that the Prime Minister of India may have gotten up and abruptly headed for the airport. There are also rumors that China single-handedly thwarted a binding agreement among the participants. But regardless of what is and isn't true about the whole ordeal, I think we can agree that the output of the summit was very lackluster.

So what did come out of this worldly meeting of the minds in Denmark? Well, in a last ditch effort to make the summit productive, the Copenhagen Accord was agreed upon among the countries of the United States, China, India, Brazil, and South Africa. The Accord does not dictate any mandatory reduction of emissions or requirements for financial assistance to developing countries. Basically they agreed that climate change is a problem and that increased cooperation is required to curb global pollution emissions. There are a number of goals in the agreement, but there is certainly no legal requirement for anybody to reach these goals. It is pretty much a "step" toward reaching a binding agreement at next year's climate summit in Mexico City.

Hopefully, the next decade will bring a little more cooperation.

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Endangered Animals on the Isle of Wight

By Tom Sangers

The Isle of Wight, being separated from the UK mainland by water, and possessing an excellent climate and environment, as well as plenty of variety in its landscape to provide many sorts of habitat, has long been a haven for animals that haven't fared as well on the mainland. This article will have a look at some of those animals and offer some explanation as to why they have survived there.

The first is the Red Squirrel, which is an increasingly rare sight in Scotland, and almost unknown in England and Wales. The main reason for their decline is the introduction of the grey squirrel, which takes up the same habitats but is larger and more vicious than the red. The greys haven't reached the Isle of Wight though, and so here the Red Squirrels can still make use of the habitats that they like.

Other animals that are also rare in England, mostly due to the destruction of their habitats because of industrial or agricultural work, are the dormouse and the water vole. The latter was mostly due to the introduction of the American Mink and the destruction of their habitats through industrial and agricultural development, the former due entirely to its environments (hedgerows and woodland) being destroyed.

The Glanville Fritillary is another animal that visitors to the island can hope to see. This orange and brown butterfly displays its colour in a chequered pattern, and is nearly impossible to catch a glimpse of in the UK. On the Island, however, this butterfly is still doing well, and sightings are common if you're with somebody who knows where to look, and at the island at the right time of year.

Finally, twelve species of bats are found on the island, and as only fifteen are found in the UK as a whole, that's not an insignificant amount. Bats have been on the rise again in many parts of the UK, but on the Isle of Wight they are definitely still in full force. Bat walks are a good way to hear them, but seeing bats has to be done during twilight, and even then they may well not be much more than a brown blur.

This article was written by Tom Sangers on behalf of St Maur, one of the Isle of Wight hotels that offer an Isle of Wight holiday.

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Tips For Self Sufficient Living in Urban Locations

By Andrea Dyson

A lot of people believe they can't make changes to move toward a more self-sufficient life when they live in an urban area, but that's simply not true. There are plenty of ways to become more self-sufficient, no matter where you live.

One of the best things you can do for yourself is to set up an indoor garden. This could be a hydroponic garden, or it could be a container garden. Either type is fine, as long as you can locate them near a very sunny window or use artificial lighting.

If you don't have a lot of space indoors, you can use a shelf system to do this. Simply buy or create a system of shelf units against a wall, placing the plants in containers on the shelves, with grow lights attached to the shelving units underneath each shelf. If you're going to do this, be very careful when watering your plants, because any water that drips down could short out the lights and cause a fire.

Another way to become more self-sufficient is to set up your own business. The job market is very volatile at the moment, and even people who have been working for the same company for decades are finding themselves unemployed. By setting up your own business, you will be able to control your future a bit more than you could if you relied solely on your job.

You can start your business on a part time basis while working at a regular job. Build it up slowly. Then if you ever find yourself unemployed, you have that to fall back on. It's a lot easier to grow an existing business with an existing base of customers or clients than it is to start one from scratch after finding yourself suddenly unemployed!

Finally, you should start building up a reserve of cash, food, and supplies. You should make it a priority to build up reserves of cash and food to last you for at least three months. If you can save up more, you should definitely do so. It never hurts to be prepared, and if you ever find yourself without a job or facing an emergency, you'll be better prepared to deal with it.

These are just a few ways to move toward self-sufficiency. For more information about Self Sufficient Living, visit You'll learn about urban farming, sustainable living, renewable energy, and lots more!

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CASE STUDY: Fort Greene Compost Project

By Ray Ray Mitrano

There are people in Brooklyn composting. There are people in Fort Greene, Brooklyn composting. There are people at the Fort Greene Farmer's Market in Fort Greene, Brooklyn composting. Every Saturday.

Since October 2005, a group of neighbors and CENYC Greenmarket goers have been running a non-profit compost drop-off system that has utilized local community gardens and the prodigious amounts of food-scraps people produce in their homes each week. A specialized tricycle, usually ridden by Fort Greene resident Charlie Bayrer, has made trips back and forth from the participating gardens; delivering bags packed full of potato peels, coffee grounds and many egg shells.

It has not only created plenty of rich soil. "Composting has dramatically reduced the amount of garbage I send to the landfill each week." says Rebecca Ditsch, a Fort Greene composter. For many who use their freezer as a way to store the weekly collection, it also greatly reduces the smell of their household garbage. This storing technique can be seen on a hot summer morning: bins of organic matter vaporizing as their lids open and close.

Today, the Fort Greene Compost Project amasses 1300+ pounds weekly. About 30 black garbage bags. Some of the gardens have had to reduce their intake to once a month. Earlier this spring, Added Value's Red Hook Farm agreed to take some of the load and has had their composting system reevaluated in the process.

Charlie, the beating heart of this operation (it is he who sets up the containers, rides the trike and supplies garbage bags) composed the building of wood and wire crates for holding piles of food-waste-to-be-rich-fertilizer on the south Brooklyn lot. Along with RICE, a New York based chain of restaurants that compost a large portion of their own leftovers, Fort Greene Compost Project contributes to the once seasonally maintained area. Usually, the farm sets aside it's compost activity during the winter. However, with the all year round Ft. Greene Greenmarket and it's devoted composters, there may be good reason to let Charlie continue his wheelbarrowing into the snowflakes.

Up to now, this completely volunteer run service has existed on a shoe-string. Mainly Charlie's, who until recently had been renting U-Haul trucks out of his own pocket to bring the half ton load down to Red Hook twice a month (David Selig, owner of RICE, has graciously offered his vegetable oil run van to make the trips; a stepping stone that emerges right as one feels they are about to be standing in the middle of a rushing stream).

That aside, there are still costs that emerge, such as garbage bags and, ultimately, the idea that sustaining this growing project may require other methods. Whether that is paying the farmers to set up transporting compost with them upstate or a site in the neighborhood that is specifically designated for composting. One is currently being considered. A weekly suggested donation of $1 ($2 for big household loads) has been enacted.

Right now, one may ask "How can I help?" Volunteer a Saturday to mind the donation table, turn compost or organize behind the scenes. Take the stickers off your fruit, too.

Ray Ray is a founding member of the Fort Greene Compost Project.

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CASE STUDY: Getting the Most Out of Australian Government Green Initiatives

By Richard A Nicol

Environmental, or green issues, are holding more political sway every year and the major parties are realising that paying attention to voters' desires for a more sustainable future is in their best interest. The general public and the government are starting to embrace the opportunity to reduce impact on the environment whilst mobilising a huge workforce more reliant on people than machinery. What better place to start than with individuals.

The Green Loans program which commenced on July 1 2009, is a federal government initiative aimed at educating and assisting Australian householders in making their homes more sustainable and more comfortable. How to reduce energy costs, water costs and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are also a key aspect of the program. In combination with other Federal Government and State Government initiatives there are a lot of opportunities for householders to save money and reduce their reliance on fossil fuel based energy.
Unlike some government initiatives which seem to target traditional families, the Green Loans program is available to all Australian householders whatever their orientation or home structure.

There are two main components to the Green Loans program. The first is the Home Sustainability Assessment Scheme (HSAS) and the second is the Green Loans subsidy. Homeowners and renters in all types of residential dwelling are eligible so long as the householder booking the assessment owns the home or is on the lease (for renters only), is an Australian citizen and earns less than $250,000 per annum.

The Home Sustainability Assessment (HSA) is a free comprehensive home assessment performed by an independent expert assessor and is the first step in accessing a range of rebates aimed at reducing environmental impact and building a cleaner more efficient future. The assessment identifies where the householder can reduce their energy and water bills, increase the comfort of their home and help reduce damaging carbon pollution from GHG emissions.

During the assessment the assessor should also give advice and answer questions relating to the householders areas of interest and specific environmental concerns. Following the assessment the data collected is then uploaded by the assessor onto the Green Loans website and a report is generated.

In approximately two weeks the householder will receive the report indicating in which areas the home is efficient and in which areas improvements can be made. From this report a list of specific recommendations are made for improving the homes efficiency. Some of these recommendations may include: buying a new energy efficient fridge, washing machine or dryer; purchasing a solar hot water system; installing a rainwater tank; buying a hydronic heater, purchasing external shading devices or internal blinds; installing solar photovoltaic (PV) panels and installing thermal insulation in the roof.

The householder can then apply for a Green Loan to install any of the recommendations listed in the report. The Green Loan is up to $10,000, interest free for four years. The loan is from an approved financial institution and the government pays the interest. There is no obligation to apply for the Green Loan and you can only purchase items from the list of recommendations. Whether you are a homeowner or a renter there will be something suitable on the list that will lower your environmental footprint.

The $1,200 Federal Government rebate for ceiling insulation has been extended to December 31, 2011. There are also rebates available for solar hot water and rainwater tanks. There are also rebates available through the Solar Homes and Communities Plan on small scale PV, wind and hydro electricity systems for households and small businesses.

On top of all this the NSW government has just started the Gross Feed in Tariff for small scale solar and wind energy systems. This means that householders and small businesses installing a solar PV or wind system connected to the grid will be paid at a rate of sixty cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) for every kWh generated. This is a rate more than twice what most people are currently paying for coal fired power. With an interest free loan, the Solar Credits rebate and the Gross Feed in Tariff, such a system will pay for itself in a couple of years and everything from then on will be pure green profit so to speak.

With all the rebates and assistance there has never been a better time to make your home more efficient, cheaper to run and to minimise your GHG emissions. Booking your free HAS is a great place to start.
Unfortunately though with all these funds available there are some operators who are in it strictly for the money. The insulation scheme has had some real problems with sub standard installations and a number of companies have been taken off the list of approved installers as a result.

The Green Loans program has attracted a lot of assessors working for companies whose primary aim is to encourage you to take up the insulation and solar rebates using them as installers. Assessments from these companies will probably leave you feeling as though you haven't learned much at all. This is a shame as a lot of people such as myself are passionate about sustainable living and have tried to practice these principles in all areas of our lives for a long time. It is fantastic that such people can earn money by doing what they love, developing better communities through healthier homes and further education.

The Home Sustainability Assessors are supposed to be independent meaning they are contractually obliged not to sell you anything such as insulation or solar installation services during the assessment. During the assessment assessors are only able to provide additional services if:
  • They have prior written consent from the government department to do so,
  • If the service is free to you,
  • If it is relevant to the assessment,
  • If it does not detract from the original service, and
  • If it is not conditional upon a commercial activity.
They are supposed to wait seven days before contacting you to discuss the possibility of going forward with any further options.

The best assessors will be able to give you sound advice on minimising the environmental impact resulting from any area of your home, personal or work life. They will follow up with you at a later date and if appropriate will recommend reputable companies that can provide you with quality products and expert assistance in applying for the various solar and insulation rebates you may be eligible for.

By choosing an assessor who is working in this field to help Australian people contribute to their community and achieve a more sustainable lifestyle you will gain all the benefits and education these schemes are designed to provide. You will also gain valuable information about how to make more sustainable choices in the future.
Book your FREE Home Sustainability Assessment now with Richard Nicol from Building Green Business at:

Building Green Business aims to work with builders and homeowners to create better communities through healthier homes. As a certified Home Sustainability Assessor under the federal governments Green Loans program, BGB can perform a comprehensive sustainability audit valued at over $250, on your home, FREE OF CHARGE. Working with builders to minimise environmental impacts associated with new residential construction and renovations/alterations, BGB can help builders become more eco friendly.

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Carbon Credits - For Real Or a Fraud?

By Julian G Smith

Carbon credits. They are the newest innovation that is allowing those of us that cannot escape living in a world that is ruthless with its environment a little more, well, easy sleeping perhaps, as we strive to give back what we take out. But it seems that many of us are not satisfied with the way carbon credits are being used.

A recent Australian study showed that many consumers are unhappy with carbon credit usage. Not only that, but many do not know exactly how carbon credit trading schemes operate, probably leading to criticism about how successful they actually are. Of those that do not know how they work, the study showed that only 28% trusted that carbon trading schemes would make a difference.

The research study published on December 3rd 2009 draws on survey responses from almost 1800 general consumers and reveals that only one third of consumers are happy for the carbon credits they earn and trade, to be offered to large carbon producers as offsets. Over 50% of respondents are not happy for this to happen. In addition the notion of the so called solar multiplier, where 'bonus' credits are created as a consumer incentive without corresponding carbon reduction was rejected out of hand; only 20% of consumers believing this were a good idea.

It seems that the carbon credits concept has brought out a wide range of reactions and opinions in the community. Many people are asking for the ability to only offer credits to those organisations making sustained incentives to reduce carbon emissions. Some believe carbon trading is a fraud, others believe it is simply a ploy to 'fleece' the public of their money. Whatever your opinion, no one can deny that the Kyoto Protocol's arguably most discussed concept is certainly making some waves.

Julian Smith is managing director at Neco Holdings Pty Ltd. Established in 2004, Neco is the leading Australian specialist service provider in energy and water conservation, for residential and commercial settings. Neco has established itself as a market leader by taking an unashamedly eco-entrepreneurial approach to a sector predominantly characterized by 'not for profit' organisations. With the largest on-line eco store, Neco's ethos is to provide products and services that are eco friendly yet stylish and functional. Learn more at

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Is Being Green Getting a Bad Rap?‏

by Stephanie Foster

It always amazes me when people start talking about global warming being wrong. It's as though they think that's the only issue that matters ... not to mention that they often have a poor understanding of the entire issue. Then they're sometimes critical of the efforts other make to be green, as though it's foolish.

I just don't get it.

It's foolish to do things than can save money? That pollute less? That use fewer resources?

So many of the easy green things to do have little or nothing to do with global warming specifically. They have to do with recognizing that there are many solid reasons to try to take better care of our planet. There's kind of a shortage of alternatives in our solar system just now.

Lots of the things you can do that are environmentally friendly are budget friendly too. That's a pretty nice deal, especially when so many families are struggling to get by. That they're also less polluting, healthier and create less waste are additional benefits.

Making your own homemade cleaners, for example. Vinegar and baking soda are cheap and can clean many parts of your house. They're cheap and nontoxic.

It really doesn't matter to me what you think of global warming. Whether we're right or wrong on that one, there are other issues to consider. There's ocean acidification. Ground water pollution. Air pollution. And just where is all that garbage going anyhow? What about wildlife? This planet needs more than us, you know.

These are the things that make being green important, not just global warming. I'd be delighted to be wrong on that one. On the other hand, I'd sure hate to disagree about it and get that answer wrong. Which consequences have the chance of being worse?

No, being green isn't easy. There are a lot of habits to break, a lot of temptations to avoid. But it can be done.

Think before you shop and again before you buy. Do you really need it? Is it the best option? Will it last? Can you buy it used? Will someone else be able to use it when you're done with it?

There are a lot of things you can buy where those will be excellent questions to consider. The answers you come up with can really help with the decision process and keep you from buying things that really don't meet your needs.

Sure, as individuals we're all "the little guy" but that doesn't matter. Get enough people together and there is a difference, one that corporations will notice, and that's where the bigger differences in pollution and similar issues can occur. But it almost always has to start with the little guy. If we regular people don't care, who else will?

Stephanie Foster blogs at about parenting with an interest in the environment. Learn ways to go green step by step at

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GREEN Buzzwords & Their Meanings So You Don't Get GREEN-WASHED!

By DeAnna Radaj

This is a re-print of my most popular, re-printed and reviewed article on "GREEN" vocabulary so you can be more educated, informed and  not be taken advantage of ...

GREEN, eco-friendly, organic and sustainability are buzzwords featured in sales pitches and ads. It is also equally apparent that many people selling GREEN or eco-friendly products have no clue as to what constitutes GREEN, eco-friendly, organic and sustainability. (I actually had a "discussion" with a vendor who was advertising their product as "natural fibers" yet they were selling leather. While leather is "natural" - it's an animal hide - not a fiber-think cotton).

So, in my effort to educate and inform, and to avoid future confrontations(!), here are definitions of some of the big "buzz" words of the GREEN movement:

VEGAN: a product that is not derived from an animal and/or animal by-product. A VEGAN person is someone who eats/wears nothing derived from animals-this includes any dairy, meat, seafood, leather, silk, honey ... Examples of VEGAN product include faux leather, cotton, soy and palm wax candles.

ORGANIC: of or relating to foodstuff grown or raised without synthetic fertilizers or pesticides or hormones; "organic eggs"; "organic vegetables"; "organic chicken," simple and healthful and close to nature; "an organic lifestyle"

CRUELTY-FREE: a product that doesn't contain any part of an animal, those which contain material obtained from an animal by means of cruelty, and/or anything made with child labor or in a sweatshop anywhere in the world. Examples include: veal or any other food obtained from animals raised/kept on "factory farms", or any product made in a third world sweatshop. (Remember the Kathy Lee Gifford controversy about her clothing line made in Central America?).

SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE: products made in facilities that practice Fair Trade and are environmentally responsible. Products can also include products made from a labor force that is "disadvantaged" (i.e. women, mentally challenged, war torn areas).

SUSTAINABLE: a product capable of being continued with minimal long-term effect on the environment. This is key in all aspects of the life cycle of any product. Examples include anything made from bamboo, soy or organic cotton.

LIFE CYCLE: this refers to the notion that a fair, holistic assessment requires the assessment of raw material productions, manufacture, distribution, use and disposal including all intervening transportation steps necessary or caused by the product's existence. The sum of all those steps, or phases, is the life cycle of the product. Example of this is the planting of soy beans, the subsequent care and harvesting of the soy, the transportation to the factory for processing, and then the final processing procedure to make the soy beans into whatever the chosen product is and then, how the product is/can be disposed of (or recycled/reused).

CRADLE-TO-GRAVE: this is the FULL life cycle Assessment from manufacture (the cradle) to use phase and disposal phase (grave). This philosophy and focus of manufacturing on the environment has been focused on by designer/author William McDonough-look for his books! Example of this is a tree helps to produce paper, which is then recycled into low-energy production cellulose (fiberised paper) insulation, then used as an energy-saving device in the ceiling of a home for 40 years, saving 2000x the fossil-fuel energy used in its production. After the 40 years, the cellulose fibers are replaced and the old fibers are disposed of, possibly incinerated.

CRADLE-TO-GATE: this is an assessment of a "partial" product life cycle from manufacture (cradle) to the factory gate (BEFORE it's transported to the consumer. The use and disposal phase of the product is omitted. CTG assessments are usually the basis for environmental product declarations.

FAIR TRADE: certified company/product the incorporates policies and standards that include a fair, living wage for all factory employees, ample breaks, not obligated to work overtime without compensation and a safe work environment with emergency protocols in place. Examples of this include factories in many Third World countries.

CRADLE-TO-CRADLE: this is a specific assessment where the end-of-life disposal step for the product is a recycling process. From the recycling process originates a new, identical product or different product. Examples include glass bottles recycled to make more glass bottles OR old blue jeans recycled into insulation OR plastic milk jugs recycled into carpeting.

GREEN WASHING: this is the dissemination of misleading information by an organization to conceal its abuse of the environment in order to present a positive public image.

***Green washing is running rampant now as everyone is trying to jump on the GREEN bandwagon. Think of my above example of a vendor trying to pass leather off as a "natural fiber."***

DeAnna Radaj, owner of Bante Design LLC, has been dubbed "the House Whisperer" as she can enter a space and help to tweak (or remodel, re-design) the space to work better to suit its function AND the lifestyle of the occupants of the space. Bante Design is an Integrative Lifestyle Design company, specializing in healthy home design. Using ILD, life quality can be increased AND be supportive to any transitions occuring, lifestyle changes or health challenges.

She is a nationally recognized speaker on healthy home design, color therapy/theory, psychology of clutter for adults and children, and a variety of business topics for the individual, small business owner and entrepreneur. Visit the Bante Design Web site for a list of all workshops and appearances at
Designing spaces that are not only beautiful and comfortable, but also bring out the client's personality, is her design philosophy.

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