activism, Eco-Conscious

The Buzz From Europe Could Save Our Food Crops

Germany and France have banned a class of pesticides linked to Colony Collapse Disorder, even though scientists don’t believe it’s the whole reason for the problem. On the other hand, when heaps of dead bees coated in clothianidin were found beside corn fields, it didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that the pesticide wasn’t a bee’s best friend. Ditto for imidacloprid another pesticide which causes bees to become disoriented.

So when will the EPA realize that these pesticides are killing bees? And why aren’t more people concerned about the bees’ disappearing? It might be because so many people regard bees as a nuisance – just another bug that stings you or buzzes you when you’re out trying to enjoy your yard. There are traps for bees at my local hardware store and I know plenty of people who’d just as soon swat bees as attract them to their gardens.

I wonder how long it will be before people realize how closely our survival is tied to the survival of bees? It’s estimated that bees are responsible for one out of three bites of our food. Some of the many crops that they pollinate are corn, berries, peaches, soybeans, cucumbers, cherries, pears and pumpkins. Bees are entirely responsible for the pollination of apples, so if they disappear pollination will have to be done by hand – a very labor intensive and maybe impossible process.

Bees contribute billions of dollars to agriculture and also pollinate animal-feed crops, which would deeply affect the beef, pork, and poultry industry. Actually, no one knows what would happen if bees disappeared completely, although Einstein said that – if bees disappeared –  all life on earth would disappear in four years – and who am I to disagree with Einstein?

I don’t want to find out what the loss of the world’s bees would do to our planet. As I type this, swarms of bees are humming in the giant comfrey plants outside my window and I want to hear that sound throughout the summers that I have left on earth. I want to know that my children and their children will see and hear bees in their gardens and yards after I’m gone.

I’m going to do everything I can to support bees and get pesticides that harm them – and us – out of our food chain. I’m going to support research that is investigating other possible causes of Colony Collapse such as cell phone and wi-fi. Some researchers say that bees refuse to go near a beehive that has a cell phone near it and that cell phone and wireless signals are confusing their navigation system. While this needs more research, it’s definitely not going to be a popular finding if it proves to be true. Who wants to give up the convenience of our wireless techie toys, eh?

But while we wait for other solutions and research to point to all the reasons for CCD, it’s reasonable to support a ban on the pesticides that have obviously killed bees, like Europe is doing. After all, my theory is that anything that isn’t good for bees, isn’t good for us. Here are some links to organizations that are working to curb pesticide use:

And for more information on Colony Collapse and how to help save bees you can buzz on over to the National Resources Defense Council’s site. Save the bees and the sweet life they provide for us.

Author: Nelle J. Hussey from Troy-moore.com.

activism, Eco-Conscious, Green Living, In the News

Fishy, Froggy and Frightening

I just read a brochure outlining Safe Eating Guidelines for Fish and Shellfish in Maine. It’s put out by the state of Maine, where sport fishing is a big part of the economy. In it, Maine environmental officials urge that pregnant women and children under 8 limit their intake of some fish to two meals a month.

I don’t know about you, but when I see a warning like that, it doesn’t make me run right over to the calendar and circle the two days I’m going to put PCB‘s, Dioxin, Mercury and DDT on the dinner table.

Nope, freshwater fish caught in Maine have been off our menu for years. Ditto for fish caught offshore near the estuaries where toxins accumulate in shellfish, lobsters and fish.  We do eat wild-caught salmon, chunk light tuna on occasion and shellfish from unpolluted waters.

You might want to check your state’s advisories on fish and anything else you might eat that comes from fresh or saltwater. Also, none of these advisories take into account any of the other toxins our bodies imbibe from water, air and food. This stuff is cumulative and also most likely has a synergistic effect when combined.

And while we’re floundering around in murky waters, let’s not forget to help out our froggy little friends who are sinking fast. Fish and shellfish aren’t the only species that are facing extinction. Take a minute and hop over to Save the Frogs where you can learn more about why we can’t wait to do something about the threat that hangs over the future of whole species of frogs and toads.

Kids will like Cool Facts About Frogs and you can print out posters, donate to the non-profit organization or surf the links to other amphibian resources. Or just revel in the many beautiful pictures of these amazing little creatures and find out what a Caecilian is when it’s at home. Hey, my spell-check dictionary didn’t know what it was, do you?

Authors Bio: Patricia from Stephaniereinhardt.com. Bornand raised in the Saginaw Bay Region of Michigan, I have always been the generally curious sort (sometimes too curious – sorry Mom and Dad!). When applying for jobs in high school, I begged my parents not to make me turn in any more applications until I’d heard back from the public library about a page position. Fortunately they called me back, and it set me upon the path toward librarianship…

activism, In the News

Does Santa Deliver To Rwanda? Are There Even Chimneys There?

Pumpkins are melting into sodden orange lumps on doorsteps. Womens’ magazines feature yet another recipe spread for a low-fat Thanksgiving dinner, which seems terribly surreal to me. No matter what anyone may say to the contrary, eating real food instead of the processed fast food we eat the rest of the year is the whole point of Thanksgiving for most of us. Well, that and waiting for Santa to arrive and open the official Christmas shopping season after we’re entertained by huge, inflated creatures bopping each other and threatening to injure spectators. (This could be a description of either the Macy’s Parade or a football game. Take your pick.)

Yes, once again, the season of goodwill and peace on earth is upon us, which means it’s time to get out our skinny little wallets and shop for America. Unfortunately for the retailers, this year things may be a tad less remunerative both online and off. I’m not buying the hype that online sales will be higher than last year, because people can’t afford mall prices. I think online and offline sales will both be smaller than last year.

I know my budget is having a hard time stretching to cover oil and gas and food and I assume I’m not alone. I know this because of the posts in parenting forums where mothers are trying to figure out how to have the Christmas they always have on a third of the money they usually spend. We don’t overdo on Christmas. As a matter of fact, we celebrate more of a Solstice-y, Winter Holiday as an excuse for celebrating sort of thing and presents aren’t a big part of it. But we’re still cutting back.

Perhaps as we all tighten our belts around our bulging American bellies, it might help us to feel a little less deprived if we consider the families around the world who aren’t having a problem figuring out how to fit toys into their December budget. I’ve been doing that a lot lately and it really gives me a different perspective on the holidays and our whole way of life.

Even if you don’t watch the news, it’s impossible to ignore what’s happening in Darfur, Rwanda, DR Congo, Iraq and so many other places. That the brunt of this falls onto the already overburdened shoulders of women and children is what bothers me. As Slaid Cleaves sings,

” Women cry as the men kill
Always have and always will
You know we’re never gonna run out of blood to spill”

But while the men fight the wars, women are left behind to try to feed and shelter their children. You see them digging up roots in Africa, even though the roots make their children sicken and die. There’s just flat out nothing else to put into their bellies, and the roots do keep them alive a little longer. I know without being told that I’d do the same thing, hoping that the war would end and food would come from relief organizations in time to save my child.

They’re starving to death in tiny rooms in Iraq, because if they go out without a male family member, they’ll be beaten and maybe raped. We’re texting in our cars and IM’ing our friends about the latest surprise on Survivor. Their orphan sons are foraging in gangs and getting kidnapped by rebel armies where they’re taught to kill by the people who killed their parents. We worry that our sons spend too much time online playing World Of Warcraft.

Their toddlers are watching their mothers starve while ours are watching their mothers try to stick with the latest diet. We obsess about picking the best pre-K for our daughters. Their mothers gave up on school for their girls when the teacher was gunned down by militant fundamentalists in front of the class for teaching their daughters how to read.

We have so much stuff that we need books to help us figure out where to put it all. They cling to a battered pan, scraps of cloth to cover their children at night, a cracked cup just in case they find something to put into it. Their husbands, sons and brothers are lost to them, whether or not they’re killed in the war or missing or prisoners, or just too tired and dispirited to come home. Ours are in the living room watching sports, stealing marshmallows off the sweet potatoes in the kitchen and cuddling with kids on the couch watching the parades.

But what can we do, eh? We didn’t start the wars. Well, maybe the one in Iraq, but really it was Saddam’s fault for saying he had weapons of mass destruction. Besides, the people are a lot better off now than they were then, just like we’re better off now than we were before the Iraq War. Or not.

Maybe, though, we’re a little less smug and a little more able to sympathize with what’s been happening in so much of the rest of the world all this time. As we slide back on the scale towards where so many women and children are trapped in poverty, war and disease, maybe we can understand a little better a tiny portion of what they feel when they can’t give their kids what they need.

In their case, of course, it’s food, shelter and health care. In our case – this year – for most of us – it’s toys and luxuries and the standard of living we and our kids are used to. Next year? Who knows. Maybe things will turn around and we’ll be back to “normal”, if normal means consuming over a quarter of the world’s oil and ruining the environment in the name of jobs.

But maybe, just maybe, things won’t turn around. Maybe things will get worse and next year we’ll be even closer to a Rwandan or Congolese mother, unable to afford medical care for a sick baby or heat for our house. Worse, maybe we won’t be able to afford a house at all. If we’re forced to go into an apartment or even a homeless shelter, where will we put our stuff?

Is that why we turn away from the despair and hopelessness on the faces of women who cradle babies who are so still that even their mothers can’t tell if they’re still alive? Is it because we know that it’s only a fluke of fate that keeps us from what they’re going through, and fate is very fickle?

They could be us. She could be me. I could wake up some morning and find that my world is gone, taken by war, taken by losing all my wealth, taken by disease. You could too. That’s why I’m doing what I can now to help the women who can’t help themselves. My first present this holiday season was to the Women’s Commission For Refugee Women and Children. Quick, affordable and I didn’t even have to wrap it.

I would be so chuffed if this post got one other person to donate or to write a post in aid of aid to women and children who are displaced by war, threatened with starvation, subjected to gender-based violence or forced to live without food, shelter and peace for any reason. I know how lucky I am no matter how bad things get for me financially. I hope that the small gifts I make will give another woman a little bit of what I’m so fortunate to have.

Author: Tasha Chavez.  I am providing you great ideas to materialise the magic of Christmas the best way you can. As an author, I know girls and also know the importance of a great gift. On our site www.whattogetagirlforchristmas.com you can find the inspiration that you need! Girls are easy to please if you find the right present. And we gathered all the great ideas in one place. We provide you perfect ideas for little girls and women! And when it comes to pleasing a woman’s taste, we know just what you need to do! Check our site and make the women in your life happy this Christmas!

activism, Eco-Conscious, Health Alert, In the News

Some Companies Will Do Anything to Keep BPA in Their Products

Coca-Cola, Alcoa, Crown,Del Monte, North American Metal Packaging Alliance, Inc., Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), American Chemistry Council… These are the companies that met recently to come up with strategies to keep BPA from being banned in CA. According to an article at the Environmental Working Group’s web site, they also put up $500,00 to implement their plans.

One of their ideas is having a young pregnant woman giving speeches around the country in support of BPA’s good points. I’m not exactly sure what good things she could say about something that’s a proven endocrine system disruptor, but I’m sure they’d come up with something. They’re good at marketing slogans. Maybe, “Without BPA, What Would You Have to Worry About?”

At any rate, prepare yourself for whatever  the BPA Joint Trade Association Meeting on Communications Strategy comes up with to keep making money from something that poisons baby formula, soda and canned fruits and vegetables. While you’re waiting, you might want to totter on over to the EWG site and sign up to do some campaigning of your own against Big Business and its slimy tactics. Oh yes, and an email to the companies who think BPA is just ducky wouldn’t go amiss either. Tell them Lill – the DES Daughter – sent you.

activism, Great Green Sites

Can We Make This Idea Go Viral?

One of my favorite places on the Net is Natural News where Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, dispenses news, views and reviews of everything health-related. Unlike some of the Fish Oil Salesmen (the modern version of Snake Oil Salesmen), Mike doesn’t just paste up some tacky recycled content in an effort to get you to buy stuff. Yes, he sells a lot of the things he writes about, but there’s no pressure to buy and he’s obviously an advocate for a healthier, more planet-friendly lifestyle. I’ve never bought anything from him and I’ve been a subscriber for a long time.

Anyhow, one of his recent posts, “Helping People Isn’t Complicated: Four Simple Steps To A Better World”, really struck a chord with me. I’ve always believed that the world would be a very different and better place if everyone helped someone else as often as they could.  I’ve seen this from both sides.

I grew up dirt poor, raised by a single mother who worked in factories to support my brothers and me. There were many times when we didn’t have enough food and I remember my mother throwing winter coats over us because we didn’t have heat in the dead of winter in New England.  My mother was too proud to accept government help, so we struggled along, hungry, cold and discouraged. What a difference it would have made if someone at our church or in the community had brought us some groceries once in awhile or a couple of warm blankets. But she wouldn’t ask and they didn’t offer.

After I left home, I traveled around the US by thumb – a very stupid thing for an 18 year old woman to do. But it was the 70’s and “everyone was doing it” so I did.  I worked at day labor jobs, donated blood as often as I could and picked vegetables and fruits, but there were times when there were no jobs and I panhandled for small change. Once in awhile, someone would tell me that they wouldn’t give me change, because they were afraid I’d spend it on drink (I’d never had a drink in my life at the time), so they gave me cups of coffee, doughnuts or sandwiches. One woman gave me a warm winter coat and a pair of mittens when I was in St. Louis in a sleet storm. A mother and daughter gave me a blanket. I think my favorite donation was a big thermos of hot homemade soup. I used the thermos for the rest of my trip.

The point of all this is that helping people means giving them what they need, not just throwing money at an organization that “helps people” and feeling like we’ve done our duty to the world. It means that we don’t have to have a big bank account to lend a helping hand to someone else.

It might mean that you use the money you were going to spend on a coffee and donut to buy a coffee and donut for that guy who begs for change on the corner near your office building. It could mean that you pay for groceries for an obviously struggling single mom or elderly person when they’re standing in line in front of you at the supermarket.

Helping can mean going through your closets, grabbing all those old but still good winter coats and walking around downtown asking homeless people if they want one. Or you could find a homeless shelter and ask if they’d take them and give them out. What about blankets? Sleeping bags you don’t use anymore? Are there people in your neighborhood or around town who are cold at night because they can’t afford to keep their heat up enough to warm their houses or apartments? I can tell you from personal experience that it’s really hard to sleep when you’re shivering.

There are so many things we can do. The Natural News article has a list at the end of organizations that help people directly and there are tons more on the Net. Sure, you can just give them some money if you have it to give and that’s a really good thing. But beyond that, it might be better to find someone in need and fill that need, personally, if you can.

Poverty is a real barrier to healing and protecting our planet. I don’t believe that we can be really eco-conscious without caring for our fellow human beings as well as we care for the Earth.