Archive | Saving Our Animals

Jane Goodall’s Message of Hope

A very special opportunity was given to myself and son Angelo when Nature’s Path asked if we wanted to attend Jane Goodall’s lecture in Vancouver. My answer, in a heart beat was yes (!), and I’m most appreciative to Nature’s Path. This brand follows a beautiful manufacturing process, clean ingredient list and they are 3rd party GMO-free verified. Thank you for giving us an experience we’ll always remember. Here are the highlights from Jane Goodall’s lecture last week and fun contest details.

Jane entered the stage at Vancouver’s Orpheum theatre and my first thought was how much I love her ponytail. I have a new view of my own ponytail, with greying hair at the temples, as one to be worn with pride. My 10 year old son reported that she was a ‘comedian’ and he loved her chimpanzee stories and humour throughout the lecture. Don’t feel sad that you missed the opportunity because her Ted Talk contains many of these wonderful stories and information about how kids can be involved within her Roots and Shoots organization.

I felt it important to write about the experience because I left feeling hopeful. Jane Goodall has seen deforestation and destruction at the maximum degree and yet her lecture is one filled with hope. She talks about how we make decisions using only our brains and the environmental disconnect might be happening because we aren’t thinking with our brain and heart combined. We are such a clever species but we are destroying the only planet we have. Interesting that it’s empathy we teach children in school to combat bullying, and this emotion of connecting the brain and heart will also help our environment. Making small steps to connect children with nature, disconnecting them from electronic overload, and guiding their love for our earth is important. Jane’s quote “The greatest danger to our future is apathy.” ― she really lends to the fact that if kids don’t care about the world around them, they will do nothing to nurture or care for it.

Many large, global issues cause my brain to really shut down because of the enormity. Examples of this are terms like global warming, ocean, air, soil pollution and habitat loss. I’m not alone in feeling like these huge environmental problems are just too far out of reach for one person to help fix. It was amazing to hear Jane say she believes the small changes we control in our everyday lives do make a difference and are very important. Asking questions about things you don’t believe are right like factory farming and being proactive with engaging children with nature, unplugging, growing a garden, kindness, etc. These are all acts that can make a difference; what level is up to you, but participate with small ones because it helps. Jane’s message is one of hope. And it was so refreshing to hear in her 80 years of life, she looks to our children to continue her voyage to get the earth back and repair the damage we’ve inflicted.

Heading into Earth month, I feel her hope and will do all I can with spreading the message. As we stood up to leave the lecture, Jane suddenly came back to the microphone and told us to Google ‘Wounda’. Thank you to Nature’s Path for helping me remember the video she wanted us to watch which is about a chimpanzee named Wounda (meaning close to death) that is nursed back to health and released into a chimpanzee sanctuary. Grab your children and enjoy the magic at minute 3 between Jane and Wounda – it is amazing. I’ve embedded it for you to watch here:

In addition to giving me a voice to spread the word about Jane Goodall’s journey of hope, Nature’s Path offered MommyFootprint,  EcoBravo and Spokesmama a cereal prize package so we are teaming up for a really fun contest! My household loves and eats Nature’s Path granola and cereal  ~ does yours? We want to see your Nature’s Path breakfast.  To gain a contest entry, simply take a picture of your Nature’s Path breakfast and/or share the below graphic on Instagram and/or Twitter and include hashtag #Envirokidzbox. With each hashtag, you’ll be entered to win (feel free to enter daily). Here are my accounts to follow if you need contest reminders: Instagram and Twitter.

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Thanks again to Nature’s Path for including Angelo and myself in this beautiful opportunity to hear Jane speak. I can’t help but believe this is another feather in Angelo’s wings to soar and fly with inspiration to help our environment. We will use the experience to give back.

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Animal Extinction- A Side-Effect of Palm Oil

Sometimes a few different events lead up to an article and the first started with a visit my family took to the Seattle Zoo in November. It was sad to see animals confined within the zoo but my kids had never seen many of the animals up close and they did enjoy the experience. In particular the gorillas and orangutangs because you could really see their human-like behavior and emotions up close. Even the elephants and penguins did not elicit the reaction that my children had with the primates. We spent hours with the orangutangs watching them, making eye contact, apologizing through the glass, my son showed videos on my phone (of the outside world), and we all felt a connection. I didn’t really know what I was apologizing for that day at the zoo until tonight when I started to research Palm Oil. Now I know why I’m apologizing…and after having such a connection I can’t not share what I’ve learned.

Another dot that connected tonight was my confusion with cooking oils and my journey to eat and prepare real food in 2013. All of the different types of sugars and oils have me really confused. I’ve been trying hard to avoid any canola oils because of GMO concerns, and although palm oil is non-GMO I am adding this ingredient to my personal ban list. It is usually listed as vegetable oil (click here to find the top 30 ways it’s listed in ingredient lists) and commonly found in margarine, cereals, packaged, sweets and baked goods, to soaps, washing powders and cosmetics. Similar to when I watched the W5 undercover investigation on large scale factory pig farming in Canada, there are certain things that I can no longer knowingly consume….factory farmed pork is one and now palm oil is the second.  I’m getting to why in a minute…I’m not finished connecting the dots. =)

The next is really a no brainer with trying to eat real food. Tougher than it sounds but really trying to only eat fresh or home prepared meals. It is super rewarding as a mother but is taking a lot of time. You want to immediately improve your family and children’s health? Stop buying any food that is in a package. Really. Think of the granola bars, fake fruit snacks, crackers, cereals, etc. the list goes on and on. It is so hard to get away from but vital if you want to protect your family from long-term health effects from food. I am still at the starting point of my food journey but even I’m at the point if I walk through the isles of a traditional grocery store, I feel like I’m shopping in a plastic waste dump. There is seriously only 10% of a traditional grocery store that I want to put inside the stomach’s of my children. And that is a pretty scary thought. Not eating packaged food will also limit your palm oil consumption.

My last point is bigger is not better. It seems the bigger you are – the less accountable, knowledgeable, and trustworthy you are. I see it all the time in media saying “trust us, protect your family, we are the experts, but because we have P&G as our advertisers – still buy toxic shit.” The mixed messaging has to stop. Either you are pro health or pro making money with big time advertisers.  The perfect example of bigger not being better is Dr. Oz. Is that man having a tough time lately or what?  Read below to find out why.

Okay – let’s join these dots. Everything I have mentioned came to a tipping point for me tonight. Seeing brutal images of tortured orangutangs that left me devastated are the reason for this article. Palm oil is causing an ecological disaster and primate genocide and you can’t help but think consumer demand is the reason it’s happening. Do we seriously want to live in a world without tigers, orangutangs, and rhinos? There are less than 7,000 Sumatran orangutans left and they have now been classified as critically endangered. Their near extinction needs to get consumers (you and I) looking at ingredients before a product goes into our shopping carts.  We need to think for ourselves so when Dr. Oz puts consumers into a buying frenzy when he recommends Red Palm Fruit Oil as his miracle find in 2o13 – the back-end destruction caused to the forest and animals doesn’t happen.

How can we help? Although palm oil is used in the production of biofules, the increase in oil production is because of food demands. Who are the big companies driving this demand? Procter & Gamble, Nestle, Kraft and Burger King to name a few. Here is our way as North Americans to help the deforestation and slaughter of animals – influence the world with your consumer dollars. We have the ability to drive change where we spend our money. There are organizations dedicated to helping buy back parts of the rain forests in Indonesia and Malaysia (they are responsible for 80% of world palm oil production). The website Say No To Palm Oil has a really helpful list of the top 30 names palm oil can be labelled under. It’s important to the remember that these ingredients can be found in natural or organic products because we are talking about how palm oil is produced, rather than it’s contents.

I won’t link to the image that is now searing into my brain of dead orangutangs and the terrible way their lives are being extinguished. However as a mother, I will leave you with a few facts I won’t ever forget after researching orangutangs. Did you know that orangutangs are so close with their children that unlike any other mammal, orangutang babies stay with their parents until they are 7 or 8 years old? I saw proof of this connection when watching how difficult it was for the poachers to pry an infant away from it’s dead mother. With the illegal trade on infant orangutangs it is estimated that for every orangutan orphan sold, six to eight orangutans die in the process of capture and transport. With there only being 1 chromosome difference between orangutans and humans – the similarities between the human/orangutang infant/mother bond left me feeling like I needed to do something to help. I hope this opens a window of awareness for you.

For people that want to buy personal care products I usually recommend Green Beaver because they are certified organic and Canadian made. I just confirmed on their Facebook Page that they do not use palm oil in their products. So if you are looking for a great line that is organic and made without palm oil – Green Beaver can help!

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Sharing The Journey Of West Coast Salmon

I’m a total West Coast girl. My favorite thing to do is walk through the forest and even though I’ve lived here my whole life, I will still gasp out loud at the lush moss, green ferns, amazing leaves, and trees that surround my community. I learned last year that not all of my readers have personally experienced watching salmon make their way back to their place of birth to spawn each year. The journey is a mixture of beauty and sadness because after the females bury their eggs and male spawners fertilize, their journey is over and they dye.  From each thousand eggs that were laid, only a few adult salmon survive and return to their home streams to spawn and die and continue the cycle.

I always take my children to watch the salmon’s journey up our local rivers and streams because they see the tremendous effort these fish make to continue their cycle.  Their pre-school did a great job of organizing field trips to local watersheds so the kids could learn about local restoration programs. When salmon streams are not taken care of properly, it has a dramatic effect on salmon numbers and spawning numbers. Having been raised with salmon being an important part of the environment, I think watching and learning about the salmon run is amazing for children!

It’s taken a few attempts to get a good video of local salmon making their way upstream, but I hope you get a glimpse of this beautiful event we are lucky enough to see up close.  As you can see, this stream is filled with salmon but the moving water makes it hard to get a super clear video. . . hopefully you can make out the moving salmon under the stream’s surface!

 

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Plastic Ocean Pollution From Your Home

I attended an online round table discussion on plastic ocean pollution a few days ago and the panel of experts were amazing. It was hosted by an internet radio show KQED SCIENCE and really expanded my awareness on the toll plastic pollution is having with our oceans. Two points were a surprise to me and since they can be controlled through education and consumer dollars – I’ve expanded the topics below. If you’d like to access a full link to the discussion & panel, there is a full recording on the Surfrider Foundation blog.

We know many of the causes of plastic ocean pollution are not good for your health, so if the topic of ocean pollution seems too broad – let’s dial it back and think of it starting in our washing machines or bathroom sink and the problem will seem closer to home. My thanks to Beth Terry, author of Plastic Free for the invite and your great advice during the discussion!

Microfiber Pollution via Your Washing Machine

A question was asked of Sea Captain Charles Moore about pollution from washing polyester clothing in household washing machines. I’ve always voiced my concern over the amount of plastic on clothing that is washed and heated in dryers, so my ears perked up at this conversation. And Captain Moore would know about plastic pollution because in 1997 he discovered an area in the mid-Pacific Ocean the size of Texas that became dubbed “The Great Pacific Garbage Patch”. He agreed with the study that polyester sediments are not able to be filtered through washing machines and these microfibers are being consumed by marine life. The life cycle of PET bottles being turned into fleece clothing might not have the ‘green’ story we want. The very small particles are called microplastic and they are no larger than the head of a pin. Until microplastic can be removed from sewage we need to re-think what is going into our washing machines. We avoid polyester in my house because we have eczema skin issues which is aggravated by this synthetic fabric, but because of this new discovery I will really think twice before dropping my microfiber cloths into the washing machine. Panelist Beth Terry recommends using natural fibers for clothing and I agree. 100% cotton, or organic when possible is such a better alternative against skin than polyesters that will leach “more than 1,900 fibers per wash into waste water.” *Sources and sinks. Environmental Science & Technology doi:10.1021/es201811s.*

Microbeads in Facial Scrub

It was Bill Hickman, Surfrider Foundation’s Rise Above Plastics Campaign Coordinator that was talking about removing every day uses of single use plastic and ways to start at home that mentioned a sneaky culprit that might enter the waterways via a facial cleanser marked as natural *yuck*. Because micro beads are a huge source of plastic pollution I wanted to mention this source and the thought of rubbing plastic on your face to ‘clean’ it is really disgusting. The ingredient in this facial cleaner containing plastic beads is Polyethylene. Here is an image from the Rise Above Plastic fan page that is more descriptive on this topic, but since all of the panelists talked about the problem of microplastic (plastic that is less than 5 millimeters in size), you can see how this size of plastic entering the ocean is going to have huge impact on sea life. Captain Moore mentioned that ocean plastic pollution is killing more animals than climate change – that really surprised me but also renewed my energy with trying to further reduce my own amount of plastic waste since consumer dollars are such a huge way to help. Think of every source of single use plastic in your lives. If you can make this one change – this would be the highest impact and improvement for your personal waste and the environment!

Surfrider Foundation has published some amazing visuals to aid with ocean plastic pollution. They also have a great article with more ways you can help with plastic pollution here. I see how quickly this images travel around Facebook when they are published – I hope they make more! Here are two images they’ve created that have the highest impact to inspire change – photo credits to Surfrider:

 

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Plastic Ocean Pollution

It’s easy to become enraged when you see pictures of marine life that have been maimed, killed, or caught in plastic or ocean debris. It  really puts a face to this huge problem but because the problem is so big – how can we help? This article is inspired from combing the ocean’s tidal pools with my own kids today and we noticed a lot more garbage at the shoreline. Finding multiple golf balls really reminded me that education is needed with our unprotected waters. We need to think about our oceans and remember to only put things from the ocean back into them – this doesn’t include sand toys, cigarette butts, water bottles, golf balls, etc. Not only is an item like golf balls made from rubber and a plastic exterior, there can be confusion for marine life once they start breaking down.  Here is what I saw today:

What can we do? Talk to you children about this epic problem. Show them pictures if you don’t live close to water. There are all ranges of images – select age appropriate pictures and educate children that single use items and plastic is a huge problem. Understanding consumerism and the importance of making better choices for things that enter our homes. I also find general awareness of this problem forces you to rethink lifestyles. I recently learned that cigarettes contain plastic. I had no idea!  Think of how many cigarette butts find their way into the ocean? The plastic soup of our single use lifestyle is really the turning point for so many environmental issues – the ocean is no different.

What can you start doing today that will help? Most important is limiting single use plastic disposable items from your life – once you start it doesn’t seem like such a huge undertaking. The best part is with this reduction you will be taking steps to improve not only the environment but your own health!  Here are some tips.

~ Say no to drinking water in plastic and using plastic shopping bags. Grab a reusable stainless steel bottle and refill and use cloth or paper bags for shopping.

~ Use reusable tableware – say no to plastic. Refuse plastic straws, Styrofoam cups, plates, and cutlery. Are you an big coffee drinker?  Recognize that about yourself and have a reusable cup in your car. Like to use straws? Keep a stainless steel straw in your glove box or purse.

~ Food packaging is the biggest problem of all!  It’s easier to avoid putting fresh produce in plastic, but think of all the snack type foods that contains plastic packaging; cereal, crackers, yogurt, cheese, etc. Purchase these items in bulk, sourcing products like milk in glass bottles, and avoiding heavily packaged foods when shopping helps curb single item waste.

Many of us believe that our plastic waste is recycled but sadly it’s just not true. Recycling rates for plastic are poor – less than 1% of all plastic bags are actually recycled. The plastic you put into blue bins or recycle bins is not automatically disposed in a full circle where plastic is turned into another product or given new life. Most plastic ends up in the land fill, and the overrun sometimes ends up in our water and that has turned into a huge problem. Plastic is created to exist forever. Did I just say forever? Yes, so the problem of using something only once and having that packaging created to withstand the elements forever is scary. And once that plastic item becomes weathered and torn, the small pieces it breaks down to probably cause the most damage because it’s now making it’s way into our food system, animals, and soil.

When you can’t avoid using plastic – treat that item with care and try to use it for as long as possible. In my house we’ve accumulated toys, sand toys, water toys and rather than feeling guilty about having these items, I’ve taken a new approach; take really good care of them. When these toys are gone they won’t be replaced so if we can keep plastic sand toys that will last my children’s entire childhood….then mission accomplished. There isn’t an effective material to replace plastic with water play – especially floatation devices, pools, etc. so treat them with care. Ensure your plastic is removed from visiting the beach and treat it well. Use it and preserve it so it doesn’t become a single use item – stretch it’s use into years.

At every turn with talking about the environment and human health, the biggest factor is curbing consumerism and reducing items that have a short life span. When you understand that plastic was created to last forever – it becomes hard to purchase something that will only be used once, but will stay on the planet longer than your grandchildren.

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