By redirecting unspoiled food from landfill to our neighbors in need, individuals can support their local communities and reduce environmental impact. Non-perishable and unspoiled perishable food can be donated. Donated food can also include leftovers from events and surplus food inventory.
Where to Donate
Food pantries, food banks and food rescue programs are available across the world to collect food and redistribute it to those in need.
Food banks are community-based, professional organizations that collect food from a variety of sources and save the food in warehouses. The food bank then distributes the food to hungry families and individuals through a variety of emergency food assistance agencies, such as soup kitchens, youth or senior centers, shelters and pantries. Most food banks tend to collect less perishable foods such as canned goods because they can be stored for a longer time.
Food Rescue Programs
Food rescue programs take excess perishable and prepared food and distribute it to agencies and charities that serve hungry people such as soup kitchens, youth or senior centers, shelters and pantries. Many of these agencies visit the food bank each week to select fresh produce and packaged products for their meal programs or food pantries. Many also take direct donations from stores, restaurants, cafeterias, and individuals with surplus food to share.
Remember to contact your local food pantry, food bank or food rescue operation to find out what items they accept. Also, food banks will often pick up donations free of charge.
Ideas for Increasing Food Donations in Your Community
- Leverage your existing relationships with food banks and kitchens to donate food after events.
- Enlist groups that meet within your facilities to assist in collection or distribution of donated food.
- Reach out to your local grocers, restaurants, venues and/or schools to suggest that they could donate wholesome food that will be wasted.
- Create a schedule for pick-up of donated food on a weekly, biweekly or monthly basis.
- Use donated food to feed the hungry or elderly of your community or for events held at your facility.
- Create a schedule of deliveries to shelters and food banks for donated food that cannot be used in your facility.
Turning on lights in our homes is as easy as flipping a switch. We do it all the time. But do you ever wonder where the electricity comes from?
It all starts at a power plant. It might be hundreds of miles away from your light switch. A power plant makes electricity. There are different kinds of power plants, and they make electricity in different ways. Many of them are coal power plants and natural gas power plants. They burn fuel and use the heat to run a machine that makes electricity for us to use. The electricity travels in power lines to get to our homes. Then we can use the electricity to turn on the lights, watch television, keep food cold in the refrigerator, heat up water for bathing, or turn on the air conditioner.
The trouble is that making electricity this way also creates pollution. These power plants make smoke and release greenhouse gases like CO2. These greenhouse gases are a cause of global climate change. We don’t want to make too much CO2, and we want to decrease pollution.
Remember, these power plants make electricity for us to use. If we use less electricity, the power plants will make less electricity. If they are making less electricity, they are also making less pollution. That means that we can help the world by using less electricity. Everyone can do it, and everyone can make a difference.
How can you use less electricity? Look for ways to save electricity all the time. In your home, what is plugged in right now? What do the switches control? Ask yourself which of them need to be turned on, which of them don’t, and which of them can be unplugged.
Remember that some things use electricity when they’re plugged into the wall even if you’re not using it right now. For example, phone and tablet chargers use electricity when they’re plugged in, even if the phone or tablet isn’t connected. Make sure you unplug them when you’re not using them.
Did someone leave a light on when they left the room? Flip the switch. Did someone leave the TV on? Switch it off. Did someone leave a fan on? Turn it off. Did someone leave a phone charger plugged in? Unplug it. Make a difference every day!
Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), more popularly known as drones, are becoming increasingly popular. They are employed for a variety of uses, including to monitor, observe and protect wildlife. But researchers say that steps should be taken to ensure that drone operations are not causing undue stress to animals.
The vast majority of UAV users, both biologists and hobbyists, do not want to disturb wildlife and will often seek advice from experts. However, in some cases, users may be unaware that their drone operations could be causing considerable and unnecessary disturbance.
Even though an animal might not appear to be disturbed, it could be quite stressed. For example, a bird may choose to remain near a UAV even when stressed because she is incubating an egg or protecting her hatchling. Animal responses vary depending on a variety of factors, including the species, environmental and historical context, and the type of drone and its method of operation.
Studies have shown that drones can be more efficient than traditional approaches to wildlife monitoring and can provide more precise observational data. Accordingly, there has been a considerable increase in the use of UAVs for research purposes. Scientists have now developed a code of best practices intended to help mitigate or alleviate potential disturbance to wildlife related to drone use. The goal is to ensure that UAVs can be a powerful, low-impact ecological survey tool.
In cases where the evidence is lacking, UAV users should consult with appropriate experts and proceed with an abundance of caution. Further study on the impact of UAVs is also needed.
UAV users should seek approval when appropriate and explain the anticipated benefit of using UAV technology in their situation.
Suitably trained UAV operators should comply with all relevant civil aviation rules, which may include restrictions on flying beyond visual line of sight, above a defined altitude, at night, and near people or in the vicinity of important infrastructure and prohibited areas.
UAVs should be chosen or adapted to minimize disruption, for example, by disguising UAVs as other non-threatening animals.
UAVs should be launched and recovered from a distance, and a reasonable distance from animals should be maintained at all times during UAV flights.
Behavioral and physiological stress responses should be measured whenever possible, and UAV flights should be aborted if excessive disturbance is found.
UAV specifications and flight practices should be detailed accurately and shared in full in published studies, along with any animal responses, accidents, or incidents.
By promoting an awareness of the potential for drones to impact wildlife, users can be more conscious of the potential impacts and utilize the code to ensure their UAV operations are responsible.
Researchers are now conducting studies with the goal of better understanding how different animals respond to UAVs. The results of that work will inform the development of species-specific protocols designed to mitigate or alleviate potential disturbance.
In a time of unprecedented change, drones can assist in understanding, managing, protecting and conserving our planet's biodiversity – if used responsibly and ethically.
Vegan clothes consist of clothing and shoes that are constructed without using animal products. By choosing vegan clothing, you ensure that no animals suffered or died to produce them. You also help protect the environment and wildlife from the devastating effects of animal agriculture. Although there are specialty stores that only sell vegan clothing lines, it is possible to buy vegan apparel from any retail shop. To do so, you need to know how to distinguish the vegan and non-vegan items and materials described in clothing labels.
Choose fake or faux fur in place of authentic fur. Pelts and fur are non-vegan since they are the skins and fur taken from animals trapped or raised specifically for that purpose; minks, foxes, rabbits, chinchillas, lynxes, dogs, and many more. Search the clothing label for faux fur, acrylic, polyester, or mod-acrylic.
Purchase imitation-leather in place of real, authentic leather or suede. Leather is non-vegan because it comes from animal hides and skin. Look at the clothing labels to discover alternative clothing that resembles leather, such as synthetic leather, pleather, man-made leather, imitation-leather, and waxed-cotton. Apparel that is made from leather-like materials are typically much cheaper than authentic leather or suede products.
Avoid fabric or apparel that is silk-made. Silk worms may produce silk naturally, however, in order to get the silk producers boil them alive. Go for materials that resemble and imitate silk instead, like nylon, polyester, rayon, silk-cotton tree and ceiba tree filaments, milkweed seed-pod fibers, and the wood pulp-made fabric called tencel.
Avoid buying clothes made with down feathers. These are non-vegan products because they are either plucked from living animals, or animals are killed specifically for this reason. Consult the clothing labels to discover down substitutes, like synthetic down, polyester fill, hypo-allergenic synthetic down, and down-alternative.
Finally, stop buying any type of woolen fabric or clothing. Wool comes from sheep, goats, rabbits and camels who are exploited for their hair. Particular products made from wool that you should avoid include cashmere, angora, mohair, pashmina, shearling, and camel hair. Opt for alternative wool materials instead, such as cotton flannel, polyester fleece, orlon, acrylic, synthetic fleece, synthetic wool, or any other wool fabric characterized as "synthetic." There are synthetically made products that are just as good as wool. Some man-made products exist that rival wool in terms of thickness, providing warmth, and can pull away moisture from the skin. Recycled plastic bottles are typically used to make these products, which you can usually find in outdoors clothing featured in specialty stores.
Taking It A Step Further
Avoiding clothing made from animal-derived products helps to save animals and reduce animal cruelty, but truly ethical clothing decisions also factors in environmental concerns. Clothing choices that contribute to environmental damage affects wildlife in detrimental ways. When shopping for animal-friendly clothes, also consider eco-friendly alternatives.
You can easily make vegan and environmentally friendly clothing choices by choosing clothes made from natural, plant-based materials. You can opt-out of buying faux animal clothing products. Do you really need that faux leather jacket, fake fur coat and imitation silk shirt? There are lots of alternatives that are just as stylish, while not hurting animals or their ecosystems.
Over 25 percent of the planet’s pesticides can be attributed to conventional cotton production. Organic cotton production does not use chemicals. Choose organic cotton clothing made with natural dyes or colored cotton.
Bamboo clothing is all the rage, and for good reason. Bamboo is a fast growing, highly renewable grass usually grown without chemicals. It breathes well, is biodegradable and has natural antibacterial properties. Avoid “bamboo-based rayon” which involves toxic chemicals in its processing.
Hemp is fast growing and highly sustainable like bamboo. It needs little or no pesticides or fertilizers, and it does not deplete soil nutrients.
Recycled polyester is created from cast-off polyester fabric and soda bottles. It's carbon footprint is an impressive 75 percent lower than virgin polyester.
Soy Silk & Soy Cashmere
Soy cashmere and soy silk are created from soy protein fibers left over from soybean food processing. Look for clothing that is not made from genetically engineered soy.
Tencel is created from natural cellulose wood pulp. It is fully biodegradable and is made from Forest Stewardship Council-certified wood pulp and less-toxic chemicals.
Clothing production in general has a big environmental impact. It uses a lot of land, energy, water – and often chemicals. Purchasing quality made products, and wearing them for as long as possible, is one of the best ways to reduce the environmental impact of clothing. You can also purchase used clothing and repair damaged clothes to extend their use. Above all else, don't get caught up in the trap of “trendy styles” and “Fast Fashion” that promotes clothing as being disposable. With a ridiculous 52 “micro-seasons” per year, and new trends coming out every week, it's impossible to keep up anyway. Don't try. Be responsible and help the Earth and its animals – don't buy animal-derived clothing and do buy clothes that are as environmentally-friendly as possible.
Internet hunting—also called remote controlled hunting—utilizes Internet technology to allow a computer user to hunt large game and exotic animals from their own home. The controversial practice originated in San Antonio, Texas, with the launching of the website Live-Shot.com, which allowed hunters to shoot animals with the click of a mouse for a fee. Computer users aimed and fired a weapon that was mounted on a mechanized tripod at a remote location—usually a game ranch where exotic animals were kept penned and shot at close range.
The customer signed up through the website and paid a user fee and deposit for the animal he or she wished to kill. The animal was lured to a feeding station within range of the mounted rifle. At one facility, the animals were fed at the same time and place each day by people to whom they had become accustomed. When the animal approached the appointed place at the appointed time, the desktop hunter used the computer mouse to line up the crosshairs and fire the rifle. A single click of the mouse shot the animal. Trophy mounts were prepared at the ranch and shipped to the customer.
An Internet hunting session usually cost more than $1,500. The final cost depended on the species and size of the animal killed and the cost of mounting the trophy.
This practice bared no resemblance to traditional hunting. Even pro-hunting groups denounced Internet hunting because it violated the ideals of a "fair chase." Kelly Hobbs of the National Rifle Association stated, "The NRA has always maintained that fair chase, being in the field with your firearm or bow, is an important element of hunting tradition. Sitting at your desk in front of your computer, clicking at a mouse, has nothing to do with hunting." Even Safari Club International, a group dedicated to hunting large and exotic trophy animals, agreed that Internet hunting "...doesn't meet any fair chase criteria."
John Lockwood, the founder of Live-Shot.com, claimed the operation was intended to provide disabled individuals with the opportunity to hunt, but the Texas legislature did not buy it and promptly outlawed Internet hunting in state. The website was removed.
Internet hunting has now been banned in 40 states. This proactive measure has so far curbed the practice, but the interstate and international nature of the worldwide Web necessitates federal legislation. Laws in the states where it is still permitted are also needed to put a permanent end to the travesty of Internet hunting.
Ethics addresses questions of morality, such as what makes our actions right or wrong. Animal ethics focuses upon the constantly evolving way in which society thinks of nonhuman animals. Through our use of animals as goods for food, clothing, entertainment and companionship, animal ethics is something that we all interact with on a daily basis.
Environmental ethics is the philosophy that considers extending the traditional boundaries of ethics from solely including humans to including the non-human world. There are many ethical decisions made by humans with respect to the environment.
When we begin to explore our behavior towards animals and the environment, we find that what is presented as acceptable conduct is often inconsistent. While we love and value the nonhuman members of our family, such as the cats and dogs who share our homes, we distance ourselves from the lives of billions of wild animals, farmed animals, animals used in experimentation, animals used for clothing and animals used in the entertainment industry.
Our consumer choices shape our daily lives and it is through them that we have come to regard some animals not as individuals, but in terms of the financial value placed upon them. The distance we maintain between their lives and our own allows our use of their bodies to continue unchallenged. Can this inequality in how we regard other animals ever be truly justified?
Environmental ethics address questions of right and wrong regarding the natural world and our relationship with plants and animals. We must find meaningful ways to deal with pollution, resource degradation and plant and animal extinction - not only because it is vital to saving our human race - but because it is simply the right thing to do.
All plants and animals are an important part of the planet and are a functional part of human life. Maintaining environmental ethics ensures we are doing our part to keep the environment safe and protected. It is essential that we respect and honor the environment and use morals and ethics in our daily decisions.
Environmental ethics builds on scientific understanding by bringing human values, morals and improved decision making into the conversation with science. While moral reasoning is not a substitute for science, science does not teach us to care. Scientific knowledge alone does not provide reasons for planet protection. It only provides data, knowledge and information. Environmental ethics uses this information to ask how can we live in harmony with the environment and why should we care.
Environmental ethics considers three key propositions:
The planet and its plants and animals are worthy of our ethical concern.
Plants, animals and the environment have intrinsic value; moral value because they exist, not only because they meet human needs.
We should consider whole ecosystems, including other forms of life, in our daily decisions.
Industrialization has created pollution and ecological imbalance. It is not only the duty of that industry to make changes to protect the environment, but all of us must make daily decisions that help to restore the environment and make it sustainable.
Ethical consumerism is buying things, only when needed, that are made ethically. Generally, this means they are made without harm to or exploitation of humans, animals and the environment. Ethical consumerism involves positive buying and moral boycotting.
Positive buying means favoring ethical products, be they fair trade, cruelty free, organic, locally produced, recycled or re-used.
Moral boycott means refusing to buy products that exploit humans, animals and the environment.
Shopping is a form of voting; a way to express our moral choices. If we care about the planet and animals, but continue to buy from companies that harm animals and the environment, than we are participating in that unethical behavior.
Ethical consumers research products before purchasing to ensure they are environmentally friendly, animal friendly, sustainable and do not exploit humans.
We must also not limit our places in society to that of consumers only. We are, after all, people not consumers, with the free will to take more direct action. Our responsibility does not end after we stop ourselves from buying unethical products. We must also work to stop unethical corporations from abusing the planet and animals.
Different approaches to animal ethics, such as welfarism and abolitionism, vary greatly both in their philosophical viewpoints and their practices. Their shared focus is achieving the inclusion of nonhuman animals within our moral community.
The call for ‘higher-welfare’ products, through consumer demand for 'humane treatment' and products such as free-range meat, eggs and dairy, is termed welfarism. Welfarism modifies systems of abuse through changes to legislation and working practices, while allowing exploitation of nonhuman animals to continue.
By rejecting their commodification as ‘products’ and property, abolitionism affords nonhuman animals a right to life and freedom from exploitation. Abolitionism challenges the legitimacy of abusive industries and what we demand from them, working to end suffering by ending exploitation as a whole.
Animal Ethics In Practice
We can prevent nonhuman animals from being degraded into the class of things by promoting a compassionate attitude towards them. An attitude that demonstrates a lack of respect for other animals and unfair behavior towards them is known as speciesism. Like both racism and sexism, speciesism is a prejudice which builds a general disregard for the lives of others based upon an unreasonable differentiation. Only by allowing all animals equal consideration can we be unprejudiced in our actions.
When we start to value nonhuman animals as individuals, we recognize that they are not mechanical units of production and profit. Gradual changes to how animals are treated, confined and slaughtered may alter aspects of how we use other animals but they do not challenge the wrongs of their enslavement. On the surface, welfare changes may appear compassionate, however, by looking at the wider picture we can see that they leave animals within abusive environments and allow their exploitation to continue. By regulating cruelty, welfarism actively accepts the trade in nonhuman animal lives.
Killing and unacceptable harm remain an inherent part of farming animals for food and clothing, using animals in experiments, and using animals for entertainment, regardless of the practices used. The use of buzzwords such as 'humanely raised', and commercial branding of free range products, wrongly reassures us as consumers. The cheery media persona designed for these 'products' enables us to put a falsely positive image to a process which commodifies animals and causes them to suffer.
By creating a change within our own consumer demand, we can create a wider reaching change for the better. When we choose not to support exploitative industries and avoid products taken from animals, we reject the commodity status placed upon them and recognize their value as individuals. Veganism (refraining from consuming all animal products) is the simple action of removing our personal demand for animal exploitation. It is the practical application of the idea that animals are not property, nor ours to use and manipulate.
Animal Ethics & You
If you believe that we should be kind to animals and treat them with respect, only one further step is needed to reach the conclusion that all animals deserve our kindness and respect. If we extend to other animals the same compassion and morality we would hope for ourselves, we can begin to alleviate the harm that we cause them. Compassionate choices made by us as individuals offer protection to those who need it most. Changing the way in which harm takes place is not enough: we need to make choices that respect life and freedom. By leading a vegan lifestyle, we end our demand for animal suffering and exploitation. All that this requires from us is the decision to make a change.
Sales of ‘higher-welfare’ animal ‘products’ are rising each year, demonstrating consumers’ ever-increasing desire for animals to be treated compassionately. The next question to ask is surely: is killing a sentient animal consistent with wanting that animal to be treated compassionately? Is killing acceptable?
Ask someone if they believe that killing is acceptable, and they will probably answer no, or perhaps only under a few specific circumstances (e.g. to alleviate suffering, or in self-defense or defense of another when life is at risk). Ask if, more specifically, they believe that killing for pleasure is acceptable, and few people would answer yes.
Despite this, many consumers continue to choose to cause the death of other sentient creatures for reasons of personal pleasure on a daily basis, each time they buy or eat animal 'products'. However; this choice is not usually the result of a conscious, rational decision in favor of killing. Most people are brought up to believe that eating or using things taken from animals is a normal choice. This conditioning is often well established before they are old enough to understand the concept of killing and death.
Many people then continue these actions largely due to habit or convenience, rather than ever having made a conscious decision to do so. We can also find it difficult to choose behavior which is outside the expected norms in our families or social groups, or which differ from the values and traditions we were brought up with. The expectation or desire to conform can be enough to deter us from considering changing our actions - even when we know that, in truth, the change will be a positive choice.
In countries where a variety of foods, clothing and other products are available and there is therefore no need to consume or use animals, it is hard to argue that choosing to cause death in this way is a necessity, rather than a choice or simply a convenient habit. Choosing to buy vegan, 100% plant-based food and products, is an easy way for consumers to be sure that the things they buy have not caused the death or suffering of an animal.
It's Not Just About Welfare
The suffering and cruelty inflicted upon animals is a major cause for concern and a strong motivation for many vegans. Many people are becoming increasingly aware of the animal welfare concerns surrounding food production, particularly in intensive farming systems. However, the welfare of farmed animals during their lifetimes is not the only reason why vegans choose not to consume or use animal products.
There is strong evidence from behavioral studies that animals, including wild animals and farmed animals, are sentient beings with individual needs and preferences. The mass production and killing of these animals does not recognize this. Anyone who has spent time with a companion animal knows that they have complex emotions, and yet wild animals and farmed animals are no different in this respect from dogs and cats.
Killing is an inherent and unavoidable part of farming animals for food. Of course animals are killed for meat, but many people are unaware that this is equally true of egg and milk production. Millions of male chicks and calves are killed each year as 'by-products' of the egg and milk industries, considered worthless since they cannot produce milk or eggs. The dairy cows and egg-laying hens themselves are killed at a fraction of their natural lifespan, when they become too worn out to produce enough milk or eggs to be profitable.
Simply buying ‘higher-welfare’ animal products cannot change these facts. If consumers want to ensure that the food they buy is ‘cruelty-free’, by far the best way to achieve this is to buy vegan food.
It is entirely possible and increasingly easy to have nutritious and tasty food and practical and stylish clothing without exploiting other animals.
Therefore the question is not, “Why shouldn’t we use and kill animals?”, but, “Why would we?”
It's Not All Or Nothing
Living a vegan lifestyle is not an all or nothing philosophy. Vegans attempt to minimize the suffering of animals as much as possible in their daily lives. If a vegan accidentally, or intentionally, purchases or consumes an animal product, it does not suddenly exclude them from being vegan. They simply try harder in the future. If you are not ready, or willing, to be a full fledged vegan, you can still help countless animals by making as many compassionate choices as you can. For example, if you aren't ready to completely eliminate animal products from your diet, you can still reduce consumption of those products while also eliminating non-food animal products from your daily purchases and boycotting animal entertainment.
How to Save 11,000 Animals
Do you care about animals? Do you want to help stop their suffering? Then go vegan! Cutting out animal products and being vegan means voting every single day of your life with your knife and fork and by your choice of clothing, cosmetics, household products and entertainment. Your vote says no to animal cruelty.
There is now a fantastic range of vegan products on the market to make it easy for you to make the transition. Some people go vegan in a day, others take a few months to adjust. The most important thing is to make a start and use each day to work towards the goal of a compassionate vegan lifestyle.
In a lifetime a meat-eater will consume a huge number of animals. By switching to a plant based diet, not only will you stop contributing to this mass slaughter of creatures, but you will also save those animals from a lifetime of suffering. A recent study by Viva! suggests this figure could be as high as 11,000!
Turn thermostats down to 68 degrees or below - reduce settings to 55 degrees before going to sleep or when away for the day (for each 1 degree, you'll save up to 5% on your heating costs). Turn off non-essential lights and appliances. Avoid running large appliances such as washers, dryers, and electric ovens during peak demand hours from 5 am to 9 am and 4 pm to 7 pm. Close shades and blinds at night to reduce the amount of heat lost through windows. Buy Energy Star appliances, products and lights.
Turn thermostats down to 68 degrees or below - reduce settings to 55 degrees at the end of the day (for each 1 degree, you'll save up to 5% on your heating costs). Turn off all unnecessary lights, especially in unused offices and conference rooms and turn down remaining lighting levels where possible. Set computers, monitors, printers, copiers and other business equipment to their energy saving feature, and turn them off at the end of the day. Minimize energy usage during peak demand hours from 5 am to 9 am and 4 pm to 7 pm. Buy Energy Star appliances, products, and lights.
KIDS & TEACHERS TIPS
Choose an energy monitor for your classroom every week who will make sure that energy is being used properly. Hold a ribbon up to the edges of windows and doors - if it blows, you've found a leak. When you leave the room, turn off the light.
HEATING & COOLING TIPS
Set your thermostat as low as is comfortable in the winter and as high as is comfortable in the summer. Clean or replace filters on furnaces once a month or as needed. Clean warm-air registers, baseboard heaters, and radiators as needed; make sure they're not blocked by furniture, carpeting, or drapes. Bleed trapped air from hot-water radiators once or twice a season; if in doubt about how to perform this task, call a professional. Place heat-resistant radiator reflectors between exterior walls and the radiators. Use kitchen, bath, and other ventilating fans wisely; in just 1 hour, these fans can pull out a houseful of warmed or cooled air. Turn fans off as soon as they have done the job. During the heating season, keep the draperies and shades on your south-facing windows open during the day to allow sunlight to enter your home and closed at night to reduce the chill you may feel from cold windows. During the cooling season, keep the window coverings closed during the day to prevent solar gain. Close any unoccupied room that is isolated from the rest of the house, such as in a corner, and turn down the thermostat or turn off the heating for that room or zone. However, do not turn the heating off if it adversely affects the rest of your system. For example, if you heat your house with a heat pump, do not close the vents-closing the vents could harm the heat pump. Select energy-efficient equipment when you buy new heating and cooling equipment. Your contractor should be able to give you energy fact sheets for different types, models, and designs to help you compare energy usage. Look for high Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) ratings and the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER). The national minimums are 78% AFUE and 10 SEER. Look for the ENERGY STAR® labels. ENERGY STAR® is a program of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) designed to help consumers identify energy-efficient appliances and products.
Check your ducts for air leaks. First look for sections that should be joined but have separated and then look for obvious holes. If you use duct tape to repair and seal your ducts, look for tape with the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) logo to avoid tape that degrades, cracks, and loses its bond with age. Remember that insulating ducts in the basement will make the basement colder. If both the ducts and the basement walls are uninsulated, consider insulating both. If your basement has been converted to a living area, install both supply and return registers in the basement rooms. Be sure a well-sealed vapor barrier exists on the outside of the insulation on cooling ducts to prevent moisture buildup. Get a professional to help you insulate and repair all ducts
HEAT PUMP TIPS
Do not set back the heat pump's thermostat manually if it causes the electric resistance heating to come on. This type of heating, which is often used as a backup to the heat pump, is more expensive. Clean or change filters once a month or as needed, and maintain the system according to manufacturer's instructions.
Keep all south-facing glass clean. Make sure that objects do not block the sunlight shining on concrete slab floors or heat-absorbing walls. Consider using insulating curtains to reduce excessive heat loss from large windows at night.
If you never use your fireplace, plug and seal the chimney flue. Keep your fireplace damper closed unless a fire is going. Keeping the damper open is like keeping a 48-inch window wide open during the winter; it allows warm air to go right up the chimney. When you use the fireplace, reduce heat loss by opening dampers in the bottom of the firebox (if provided) or open the nearest window slightly-approximately 1 inch-and close doors leading into the room. Lower the thermostat setting to between 50 and 55 degrees F. Install tempered glass doors and a heat-air exchange system that blows warmed air back into the room. Check the seal on the flue damper and make it as snug as possible. Add caulking around the fireplace hearth. Use grates made of C-shaped metal tubes to draw cool room air into the fireplace and circulate warm air back into the house.
Whole-house fans help cool your home by pulling cool air through the house and exhausting warm air through the attic. They are effective when operated at night and when the outside air is cooler than the inside. Set your thermostat as high as comfortably possible in the summer. The less difference between the indoor and outdoor temperatures, the lower your overall cooling bill will be. Don't set your thermostat at a colder setting than normal when you turn on your air conditioner. It will not cool your home any faster and could result in excessive cooling and, therefore, unnecessary expense. Consider using an interior fan in conjunction with your window air conditioner to spread the cooled air more effectively through your home without greatly increasing your power use. Don't place lamps or TV sets near your air-conditioning thermostat. The thermostat senses heat from these appliances, which can cause the air conditioner to run longer than necessary. Plant trees or shrubs to shade air-conditioning units but not to block the airflow. A unit operating in the shade uses as much as 10% less electricity than the same one operating in the sun.
Consider factors such as your climate, building design, and budget when selecting insulation R-value for your home. Use higher density insulation, such as rigid foam boards, in cathedral ceilings and on exterior walls. Ventilation plays a large role in providing moisture control and reducing summer cooling bills. Attic vents can be installed along the entire ceiling cavity to help ensure proper airflow from the soffit to the attic, helping to make a home more comfortable and energy efficient. Recessed light fixtures can be a major source of heat loss, but you need to be careful how close you place insulation next to a fixture unless it is marked. "I.C."-designed for direct insulation contact. Check your local building codes for recommendations. As specified on the product packaging, follow the product instructions on installation and wear the proper protective gear
First, test your home for air tightness. On a windy day, hold a lit incense stick next to your windows, doors, electrical boxes, plumbing fixtures, electrical outlets, ceiling fixtures, attic hatches, and other locations where there is a possible air path to the outside. If the smoke stream travels horizontally, you have located an air leak that may need caulking, sealing, or weatherstripping. Caulk and weatherstrip doors and windows that leak air. Caulk and seal air leaks where plumbing, ducting, or electrical wiring penetrates through exterior walls, floors, ceilings, and soffits over cabinets. Install rubber gaskets behind outlet and switch plates on exterior walls. Look for dirty spots in your insulation, which often indicate holes where air leaks into and out of your house. You can seal the holes by stapling sheets of plastic over the holes and caulking the edges of the plastic. Install storm windows over single-pane windows or replace them with double-pane windows. Storm windows as much as double the R-value of single-pane windows and they can help reduce drafts, water condensation, and frost formation. As a less costly and less permanent alternative, you can use a heavy-duty, clear plastic sheet on a frame or tape clear plastic film to the inside of your window frames during the cold winter months. Remember, the plastic must be sealed tightly to the frame to help reduce infiltration. When the fireplace is not in use, keep the flue damper tightly closed. A chimney is designed specifically for smoke to escape, so until you close it, warm air escapes-24 hours a day! For new construction, reduce exterior wall leaks by either installing house wrap or taping the joints of exterior sheathing.
WATER HEATING TIPS
Repair leaky faucets promptly; a leaky faucet wastes gallons of water in a short period. Insulate your electric hot-water storage tank and pipes, but be careful not to cover the thermostat. Insulate your gas or oil hot-water storage tank and pipes, but be careful not to cover the water heater's top, bottom, thermostat, or burner compartment; when in doubt, get professional help. Install nonaerating low-flow faucets and showerheads. Buy a new water heater. While it may cost more initially than a standard water heater, the energy savings will continue during the lifetime of the appliance. Although most water heaters last 10 to 15 years, it's best to start shopping for a new one if yours is more than 7 years old. Doing some research before your heater fails will enable you to select one that most appropriately meets your needs. Lower the thermostat on your water heater; water heaters sometimes come from the factory with high temperature settings, but a setting of 115 degrees F provides comfortable hot water for most uses. Drain a quart of water from your water tank every 3 months to remove sediment that impedes heat transfer and lowers the efficiency of your heater. The type of water tank you have determines the steps to take, so follow the manufacturer's advice. If you heat with electricity and live in a warm and sunny climate, consider installing a solar water heater. The solar units are environmentally friendly and can now be installed on your roof to blend with the architecture of your house. Take more showers than baths. Bathing uses the most hot water in the average household. You use 15 to 25 gallons of hot water for a bath, but less than 10 gallons during a 5-minute shower.
COLD-CLIMATE WINDOW TIPS
Install exterior or interior storm windows; storm windows can reduce your heat loss through the windows by 25% to 50%. Storm windows should have weatherstripping at all moveable joints; be made of strong, durable materials; and have interlocking or overlapping joints. Low-e storm windows save even more energy. Repair and weatherize your current storm windows, if necessary. Install tight-fitting, insulating window shades on windows that feel drafty after weatherizing. Close your curtains and shades at night; open them during the day. Keep windows on the south side of your house clean to maximize solar gain.
WARM-CLIMATE WINDOW TIPS
Install white window shades, drapes, or blinds to reflect heat away from the house. Close curtains on south- and west-facing windows during the day. Install awnings on south- and west-facing windows. Apply sun-control or other reflective films on south-facing windows.
When you're shopping for new windows, look for the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) label; it means the window's performance is certified. Remember, the lower the U-value, the better the insulation. In colder climates, a U-value of 0.35 or below is recommended. These windows have at least double glazing and low-e coating. In warm climates, where summertime heat gain is the main concern, look for windows with double glazing and spectrally selective coatings that reduce heat gain. Select windows with air leakage ratings of 0.3 cubic feet per minute or less. In temperate climates with both heating and cooling seasons, select windows with both low U-values and low solar heat gain coefficiency (SHGC) to maximize energy benefits. Look for the ENERGY STAR® and EnergyGuide labels.
Trees that lose their leaves in the fall (i.e., deciduous) are the most effective at reducing heating and cooling energy costs. When selectively placed around a house, they provide excellent protection from the summer sun but permit winter sunlight to reach and warm your house. The height, growth rate, branch spread, and shape are all factors to consider in choosing a tree. Vines provide shading and cooling. Grown on trellises, vines can shade windows or the whole side of a house. Deflect winter winds by planting evergreen trees and shrubs on the north and west sides of your house; deflect summer winds by planting on the south and west sides of your house.
INDOOR LIGHTING TIPS
Turn off the lights in any room you're not using, or consider installing timers, photo cells, or occupancy sensors to reduce the amount of time your lights are on. Use task lighting; instead of brightly lighting an entire room, focus the light where you need it. For example, use fluorescent under-cabinet lighting for kitchen sinks and countertops under cabinets. Consider three-way lamps; they make it easier to keep lighting levels low when brighter light is not necessary. Use 4-foot fluorescent fixtures with reflective backing and electronic ballasts for your workroom, garage, and laundry areas. Consider using 4-watt mini-fluorescent or electro-luminescent night lights. Both lights are much more efficient than their incandescent counterparts. The luminescent lights are cool to the touch.
COMPACT FLUORESCENT BULBS
These compact fluorescent bulbs are four times more energy efficient than incandescent bulbs and provide the same lighting. Use CFLs in all the portable table and floor lamps in your home. Consider carefully the size and fit of these systems when you select them. Some home fixtures may not accommodate some of the larger CFLs. When shopping for new light fixtures, consider buying dedicated compact fluorescent fixtures with built-in ballasts that use pin-based replacement bulbs. For spot lighting, consider CFLs with reflectors. The lamps range in wattage from 13-watt to 32-watt and provide a very directed light using a reflector and lens system. Take advantage of daylight by using light-colored, loose-weave curtains on your windows to allow daylight to penetrate the room while preserving privacy. Also, decorate with lighter colors that reflect daylight. If you have torchiere fixtures with halogen lamps, consider replacing them with compact fluorescent torchieres. Compact fluorescent torchieres use 60% to 80% less energy and can produce more light (lumens) than the halogen torchieres.
OUTDOOR LIGHTING TIPS
Use outdoor lights with a photocell unit or a timer so they will turn off during the day. Turn off decorative outdoor gas lamps; just eight gas lamps burning year round use as much natural gas as it takes to heat an average-size home during an entire winter. Exterior lighting is one of the best places to use CFLs because of their long life. If you live in a cold climate, be sure to buy a lamp with a cold-weather ballast.
Check the manual that came with your dishwasher for the manufacturer's recommendations on water temperature; many have internal heating elements that allow you to set the water heater to a lower temperature. Scrape, don't rinse, off large food pieces and bones. Soaking or prewashing is generally only recommended in cases of burned-on or dried-on food. Be sure your dishwasher is full, but not overloaded. Don't use the "rinse hold" on your machine for just a few soiled dishes. It uses 3 to 7 gallons of hot water each time you use it. Let your dishes air dry; if you don't have an automatic air-dry switch, turn off the control knob after the final rinse and prop the door open a little so the dishes will dry faster.
Look for a refrigerator with automatic moisture control. Models with this feature have been engineered to prevent moisture accumulation on the cabinet exterior without the addition of a heater. This is not the same thing as an "anti-sweat" heater. Models with an anti-sweat heater will consume 5% to 10% more energy than models without this feature. Don't keep your refrigerator or freezer too cold. Recommended temperatures are 37 to 40 degrees F for the fresh food compartment of the refrigerator and 5 degrees F for the freezer section. If you have a separate freezer for long-term storage, it should be kept at 0 degrees F. To check refrigerator temperature, place an appliance thermometer in a glass of water in the center of the refrigerator. Read it after 24 hours. To check the freezer temperature, place a thermometer between frozen packages. Read it after 24 hours. Regularly defrost manual-defrost refrigerators and freezers; frost buildup increases the amount of energy needed to keep the motor running. Don't allow frost to build up more than one-quarter of an inch. Make sure your refrigerator door seals are airtight. Test them by closing the door over a piece of paper or a dollar bill so it is half in and half out of the refrigerator. If you can pull the paper or bill out easily, the latch may need adjustment or the seal may need replacing. Cover liquids and wrap foods stored in the refrigerator. Uncovered foods release moisture and make the compressor work harder. Move your refrigerator out from the wall and vacuum its condenser coils once a year unless you have a no-clean condenser model. Your refrigerator will run for shorter periods with clean coils.
Be sure to place the faucet lever on the kitchen sink in the cold position when using small amounts of water; placing the lever in the hot position uses energy to heat the water even though it never reaches the faucet. If you need to purchase a gas oven or range, look for one with an automatic, electric ignition system. An electric ignition saves gas-because a pilot light is not burning continuously. In gas appliances, look for blue flames; yellow flames indicate the gas is burning inefficiently and an adjustment may be needed. Consult your manufacturer or your local utility. Keep range-top burners and reflectors clean; they will reflect the heat better, and you will save energy. Use a covered kettle or pan to boil water; it's faster and it uses less energy. Match the size of the pan to the heating element. If you cook with electricity, turn the stovetop burners off several minutes before the allotted cooking time. The heating element will stay hot long enough to finish the cooking without using more electricity. The same principle applies to oven cooking. Use small electric pans or toaster ovens for small meals rather than your large stove or oven. A toaster oven uses a third to half as much energy as a full-sized oven. Use pressure cookers and microwave ovens whenever it is convenient to do so. They can save energy by significantly reducing cooking time.
Wash your clothes in cold water using cold-water detergents when ever possible. Wash and dry full loads. If you are washing a small load, use the appropriate water-level setting. Dry towels and heavier cottons in a separate load from lighter-weight clothes. Don't over-dry your clothes. If your machine has a moisture sensor, use it. Clean the lint filter in the dryer after every load to improve air circulation. Use the cool-down cycle to allow the clothes to finish drying with the residual heat in the dryer. Periodically inspect your dryer vent to ensure it is not blocked. This will save energy and may prevent a fire. Manufacturers recommend using rigid venting material, not plastic vents that may collapse and cause blockages. Look for the ENERGY STAR® and EnergyGuide labels.
Dissection is the practice of cutting into and studying animals. Every year, 5.7 million animals are used in secondary and college science classes. Each animal sliced open and discarded represents not only a life lost, but also just a small part of a trail of animal abuse and environmental havoc.
Frogs are the most commonly dissected animals below the university level. Other species include cats, mice, rats, worms, dogs, rabbits, fetal pigs and fishes. The animals may come from breeding facilities which cater to institutions and businesses that use animals in experiments; they may have been caught in the wild; or they could be stolen or abandoned companion animals. Slaughterhouses and pet stores also sell animals and animal parts to biological supply houses.
Frogs are captured in the wild to stock breeding ponds because populations die out if not replenished. A completely independent frog colony has never survived long without the introduction of "outside" frogs. In their natural habitat, frogs consume large numbers of insects responsible for crop destruction and the spread of disease. In the years preceding India's ban on the frog trade, that country was earning $10 million a year from frog exports, but spending $100 million to import chemical pesticides to fight insect infestations. In addition, economic losses in agricultural produce were heavy. Today, Bangladesh is the main Asian market for frogs, and in the United States, scientists have noted severe declines in frog and toad populations that they blame on the capture of these animals for food and experiments, as well as on causes of general environmental decline such as the use of pesticides and habitat destruction.
Classroom dissection desensitizes students to the sanctity of life and can encourage students to harm animals elsewhere, perhaps in their own backyard. In fact, serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer attributed his fascination with murder and mutilation to classroom dissections.
Students with little or no interest in pursuing a career in science certainly don't need to see actual organs to understand basic physiology, and students who are planning on pursuing a career in biology or medicine would do better to study humans in a controlled, supervised setting, or to study human cadavers or some of the sophisticated alternatives, such as computer models. Those who are rightfully disturbed by the prospect of cutting up animals will be too preoccupied by their concerns to learn anything of value during the dissection.
More and more students are taking a stand against dissection before it happens in their classes, from the elementary school level on up to veterinary and medical school. In 1987, Jenifer Graham objected to dissection and was threatened with a lower grade. Jenifer went to court to plead her case and later testified before the California legislature, which responded by passing a law giving students in the state the right not to dissect. Jenifer's mother and the National Anti-Vivisection Society have set up a hotline for students who want to avoid dissection. Since Jenifer's case, thousands of students have opted to study biology in humane ways, and many schools have accepted the students' right to violence-free education.
Students and teachers may choose from a wide range of sophisticated alternatives to dissection. The typical science "lab" at many schools now emphasizes computers rather than animal cadavers. Computer programs can be used as either a lesson or a test. Many books also offer humane science lessons.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Whether you are a student, a parent, or a concerned taxpayer, you can act to end dissection in your town's school system.
If you are expected to perform or observe a dissection, talk to your teacher as early as possible about alternative projects.
If there is an animal rights group at your school or in your community, ask them to help.
Parents can urge their local Parent-Teacher Association to ask the area superintendent of schools or school board to consider a proposal to ban dissections in public schools or at least give all students the option of doing a non-animal project.
It may help to collect signatures on a petition and to present the school board with information on the cruelty and environmental destruction caused by animal dissection and on readily available alternatives.
Let’s say you go to the grocery store and buy a pineapple. Why are you buying a pineapple? They’re delicious. You get in line to pay for your pineapple. The clerk says, “Paper or plastic?” Paper or plastic? Hmmm…
What should you say? What things should you think about before you answer?
Let’s think about paper first. The paper bag, like most paper, is made from trees. People cut down the trees, grind them up, and make paper from the pulp. We don’t want to cut down too many trees, though, because trees help the environment. They make oxygen that we need to breathe. They provide a place for animals to live. We can plant new trees to replace the ones we cut down, but we still should save as many trees as we can.
The paper bag might be made of recycled paper. That’s paper that has been used more than once. That means that we didn’t have to cut down more trees to make it. Recycling paper still requires energy, though. Paper is also quite heavy, which means that moving it around on trucks takes a lot of energy too.
Maybe we shouldn’t get a paper bag.
What about plastic?
Plastic is not made from living things like paper is. Plastic is made by people. It never existed before people created it. If we don’t have to cut down any trees to make it, is that better?
The trouble with plastic is that it’s not part of nature. It doesn’t fit into any ecosystem. Nothing can eat it, so when it goes in the trash, it never goes away. Plastics last for hundreds or even thousands of years. And because plastics are lightweight and blow around in the wind easily, a lot of them end up in the ocean.
Maybe we shouldn’t get a plastic bag either, then.
What should we do?
There is another question that the checkout clerk might forget to ask: “Did you bring your own bag?”
The best way to take your groceries home is in your own bag. You can use it as many times as you like. You never have to throw it away!
Have you ever wondered about a career working with animals?
From being a veterinarian or wildlife specialist to working in television and creating programs about animals, there are numerous ways you can make a difference for animals in your lifetime.
People who work with animals can have a variety of backgrounds. Usually, one requirement is a great love of animals and a concern for their well being. People who are interested in a career working with animals might take classes in biology, zoology, animal behavior, and animal health sciences in college. Certain careers, such as those working in veterinary fields, require an extensive medical education.
Choosing a career is one of the most important decisions a person can make. Your career should make you happy and reflect what you want to give back to the world. People who care for animals can choose from several different career paths.
Animal behaviorists learn and observe how animals relate to each other and to people. While an animal behaviorist may work in a variety of animal-related settings, like a zoo or an aquarium, some animal behaviorists work at animal shelters or assist companion animal guardians with animal behavior problems. In this role, the animal behaviorist helps the companion animal by helping the human companion better understand why animals do the things they do. Why does a dog jump on people? Why is the cat not using the litter box? And what can be done to change this behavior. Animal behaviorists may also help shelters identify good-natured animals that should be placed for adoption and work with other animals that might need a little more training before being placed in a good home. This job requires an extensive education in animal behavior.
Animal Care Attendants
Animal care attendants provide the actual day-to-day care for the shelter animals. They clean kennels, provide food and water to the animals, and may administer medications. It’s a very hands-on job that puts you in direct contact with animals everyday. Some shelters look for volunteers to assist with these duties. It’s a great way to get started working for shelters.
Animal Control Agency Directors
An animal control agency director runs a shelter that is funded by the city. They help animals too, providing many of the same services as a humane society. The biggest difference is that animal control agencies are concerned with public safety. They protect people from health risks and the dangers that stray and lose animals can cause to people in the community. They often represent the agency at public functions and manage the overall daily operations of the facility.
Animal Shelter Veterinarians
An animal shelter veterinarian treats sick or injured animals or provides well-care exams for the animals at the shelter. They are responsible for the individual care of all the shelter animals as well as the health and well-being of the entire shelter population. Shelter veterinarians make sure that the animals coming into the shelter don’t spread diseases to other animals in the shelter. They often spay and neuter adopted companion animals to insure they won’t contribute to the companion animal population problem. The job requires an extensive education, including veterinary school.
Adoption counselors help people find the right companion animal for their family’s lifestyle. They have to learn about the potential adopter’s needs as well as the various personalities of all the animals available for adoption. Making the right match helps ensure that an animal has found a permanent home and won’t be returned to the animal shelter. This job is good for someone who likes to work with both people and animals.
Cruelty investigators respond to complaints about people who may be hurting or neglecting their animals. They may work with an animal shelter, animal control facility, or police department handling animal cruelty investigations. Investigators can usually enforce cruelty laws by making arrests or giving citations if only a minor law is broken. Cruelty investigators are like animal detectives. They have to help law enforcement officials and prosecutors collect evidence to prepare an animal cruelty case for trial. This job usually requires training in law enforcement and investigation techniques.
Fundraising specialists help organize special events to raise money for animal shelters and organizations. Animal organizations can’t operate or care for the animals without money to support their programs and services. Animal control agencies usually receive money from the city budget, while humane societies survive on contributions from the community. Fundraising specialists are important to keep the work of the agency going. This job is great for a person who likes to organize events and enjoys working with people.
Humane educators present programs to youth and adults on various humane topics, including companion animal responsibility, bite prevention, and kindness to animals. Their role is to educate the public and affect the community’s view and behavior towards animals. These presentations are often given in schools, at business club meetings, or at the shelter. Teachers or people who have worked in classrooms and are comfortable speaking before groups often fill these jobs.
Humane officers (also known as animal care and control officers) respond to calls about animals that are sick, injured, or neglected. Humane officers must have a good understanding of animal control laws and anti-cruelty laws, since they help educate the public on the responsible care of animals. This job requires some lifting, as humane officers frequently have to transport large or injured animals to the shelter.
Humane Society Directors
A humane society director runs an animal shelter where the ultimate goal is to insure the humane care and treatment of the animals. The director supervises staff and ensures that the shelter’s programs and services are helping homeless animals. They also have to find individuals and donors to donate to the agency, since humane societies are funded entirely by private donations. This job usually requires a lot of people skills, as the director usually works more with people in the community than the animals in the shelter.
Public Relations Specialists
Public relations specialists work with the media to inform the community about the work of animal organizations as well as important issues related to the humane care and treatment of animals. They usually write press releases, newsletters, and other promotional materials to help get the word out on the agency. This is a great job for people who love to write, give media interviews, and speak to the public.
Shelter managers generally oversee all the activities associated with the daily care and maintenance of the animal shelter and shelter staff. They might handle receiving animals, making sure they are given health checks and vaccinations. Or they may work with the human clients that come into the shelter to adopt or surrender an animal. This job requires supervisory skills and an interest in working with both people and animals.
Some veterinary technicians work at animal shelters, but most work at veterinary hospitals. Their job involves direct contact with both animals and people. Mostly, they assist veterinarians in caring for injured or sick animals or providing healthy animals with well-check ups. They may handle doing lab tests or preparing the operating room for surgery. This job does not require the special education needed to become a veterinarian, but special classes or specific experience with animals can make you more qualified to handle these responsibilities.
A volunteer coordinators job is to find volunteers that want to donate time to help animal organizations. Volunteer coordinators oversee the scheduling and daily activities of these volunteers for the organization’s special events or daily operations. Often volunteers can only come for a few hours a week or month, so the coordinator has to find lots of volunteers to help cover all the available time slots. Some animal organizations have hundreds of volunteers; some have only a handful of volunteers. But most all animal organizations depend heavily on volunteers.
One final note: If you are interested in working with animals, you can begin before you are out of school by volunteering at a local humane society. Your volunteer work will give you exposure to many different species of animals while performing a great community service at the same time. Also read books on animal careers to see how your interests and concern for animals might become a lifelong career.
Don't be afraid OF sharks; be afraid FOR them. There are more misunderstandings and untruths about sharks than almost any other group of animals on the planet. While many people fear sharks, it is the sharks who should be fearing us.
According to the shark attack file, maintained by the Florida Museum of Natural History, on average 5 people die worldwide from shark attacks. Research published in 2006 found that up to 70 million sharks are killed by humans each year, mostly for their fins. This is a devastating death toll for a long-living species that is as slow to reproduce as sharks.
Sharks have roamed the oceans far longer than most land animals have been here. They were here before many of the dinosaurs and have outlasted them. But an international assessment of sharks undertaken by the World Conservation Union reveals that their future is in doubt.
Of 546 shark species assessed, 111 species were at significant risk of global extinction. Twenty species are listed as critically endangered and 25 as endangered. A study published in the journal Science concluded that some shark species have lost 80% of their populations just in the past 40 years including hammerhead sharks, thresher sharks and porbeagle sharks. While hammerhead shark is a name familiar to most, most people have never heard of porbeagle sharks...some of the lesser known sharks are in even greater danger.
Sharks can range from being just inches in length (like the tiny cookie cutter shark) to being larger than a school bus (like the giant plankton-eating whale shark). Though sharks perform the same role in the ocean ecosystem that is performed by well-known predators such as lions, tigers and cheetahs on land, the fact that they live in such an alien world makes it hard for us to know about their lives. What we do know is pretty fascinating.
Sharks shed their teeth. A single shark may lose thousands of teeth over its life and this accounts for the many shark teeth found by beach combers throughout the world. Their teeth are connected to a membrane in their mouth that is constantly being pushed forward as new teeth form. New teeth are generally slightly larger than the ones before. This allows the size of the shark's teeth to keep pace with the growth of the rest of the body.
Sharks are picky eaters. Some sharks eat only plankton, others eat small fish or squid, and still others eat large fish and marine mammals. The type of teeth a shark has will show you what it eats. Great white sharks have teeth with serrated edges for slicing off pieces from larger prey, the teeth of mako sharks are thin and pointed for grabbing onto slippery fish. Nurse sharks and other bottom dwellers tend to have thicker teeth for crushing shellfish. No matter the tooth shape, sharks never chew their food.
You're more likely to die as a result of being electrocuted by lighting than being attacked by a shark. More deadly than shark attacks each year are crocodile attacks, hippo attacks, and even attacks by pigs.
Many sharks are warm blooded. Unlike the rest of the fishy world, many large sharks can maintain their body temperature higher than the ocean temperature around them.
Some sharks lay eggs, but others give birth to live young and may not be sexually mature until they are over the age of 10.
We don't know whether sharks sleep. Sometimes they seem to rest, but their eyes don't close and if they sleep, they certainly don't sleep the way that mammals can.
There is a lot we don't know about sharks, but we DO know that if we don't act soon to stop overfishing, some of the most ancient and magnificent animals on the planet may soon disappear.
Water is a precious resource in our environment. Growing populations and ongoing droughts are squeezing our water resources dry, causing natural habitat degredation and impacting our everyday use of water. We have no choice but to pay more attention to how we are using water, and how we may be wasting it. We must bridge the gap between our understanding of how important water is to our survival and what we can do to ensure that we have an adequate supply of clean water for years to come. Below is a list of the many simple ways you can take action and conserve water, both inside and outside our homes.
YOU'RE IN CONTROL
Try to do one thing each day to save water. Don't worry if the savings are minimal. Every drop counts, and every person can make a difference. Be aware of and follow all water conservation and water shortage rules and restrictions that may be in effect in your area. Make sure your children are aware of the need to conserve water.
WATER WASTERS IN THE KITCHEN & BATH
Check for toilet leaks by adding food coloring to the tank. If the toilet is leaking, color will appear in the bowl within 30 minutes. Check the toilet for worn out, corroded, or bent parts. Consider purchasing LowFlow toilets that can reduce indoor water use by 20%. Install a toilet dam or displacement device such as a bag or bottle to cut down on the amount of water needed for each flushing. Be sure installation does not interfere with operating parts. Avoid unnecessary flushing. Dispose of tissues, insects, and other similar waste in the trash rather than the toilet. If the toilet flush handle frequently sticks in the flush position, letting water run constantly, replace or adjust it.
Replace your showerhead with an ultra low-flow version, saving up to 2.5 gallons per minute. Take shorter showers. Try a "Navy" shower; get wet, turn off the water, soap and scrub, then turn the water on to rinse. In the shower, instead of increasing the hot or cold water flow to adjust the water temperature, try decreasing the flow to achieve a comfortable water temperature. Use the minimum amount of water needed for a bath by closing the drain first and filling the tub only 1/3 full. The initial burst of cold water can be warmed by adding hot water later. Don't let the water run while shaving, washing your face, or brushing your teeth.
Minimize the use of kitchen sink disposals; they require a lot of water to operate properly. Start a compost pile as an alternate method of disposing of food waste. Store drinking water in the refrigerator rather than letting the tap run to get a cool glass of water. Do not use running water to thaw meat or other frozen foods. Defrost them overnight in the refrigerator, or by using the defrost setting on your microwave. Consider installing an instant water heater on your kitchen sink so you don't have to let the water run while it heats up. This will reduce heating costs for your household.
When washing dishes by hand, fill one sink or basin with soapy water. Quickly rinse under a slow stream of water from the faucet. Use the dirty water to run your sink disposal if necessary. Fully load automatic dishwashers; they use the same amount of water no matter how much is in them. Buy dishwashers with water and energy saving options.
OTHER WATER WASTERS IN YOUR HOME
Unlike your dishwasher, the amount of water your washing machine uses is adjustable; adjust according to load size. Look for water saving washing machines and buy them. Horizontal loading machines use less water than top-loading machines. Install a hot water recirculation device. By recirculating the water that would otherwise go down the drain, you can save 2-3 gallons of water for each shower taken or 16,500 gallons a year per household. This may mean an average annual savings of $50 on your water bill and $40 on your energy bill. Install an air-to-air heat pump or air-conditioning system. Air-to-air models are just as efficient as water-to-air models and do not waste water. Install water-softening systems only when necessary. Save water and salt by running the minimum amount of regeneration necessary to maintain water softness. Turn softeners off while on vacation.
Divert From the Drain
Never put water down the drain when there may be another use for it such as watering a plant or garden, or cleaning.
Verify that your home is leak free, because many homes have hidden water leaks. Read your water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the meter does not read exactly the same, there is a leak. Repair dripping faucets by replacing washers. If your faucet is dripping at the rate of one drop per second, you can expect to waste 2,700 gallons per year. Retrofit all wasteful household faucets by installing aerators with flow restrictors. Insulate your water pipes. You'll get hot water faster and avoid wasting water. Check your pump. If you have a well at your home, listen to see if the pump turns on and off while the water is not in use. If it does, you have a leak.
OUTDOOR WATER WASTERS
Watering the Lawn
Don't overwater your lawn. As a general rule, lawns only need watering every 5 to 7 days in the summer. A hearty rain eliminates the need for watering for as long as two weeks. Water lawns during the early morning hours when temperatures and wind speed are the lowest. This reduces losses from evaporation. Don't water your street, driveway, or sidewalk. Position your sprinklers so that your water lands on the lawn and shrubs and not the paved areas. Install sprinklers that are the most water-efficient for each use such as micro and drip irrigation and soaker hoses. Regularly check sprinkler systems and timing devices to be sure they are operating properly. Teach your family how to shut off automatic systems so they can turn them off when storms are approaching. Do not leave sprinklers or hoses unattended. Your garden hose can pour out 600 gallons or more in only a few hours. Use a kitchen timer to remind yourself to turn the water off.
Raise your lawn mower blade to at least three inches. A lawn cut higher encourages grass roots to grow deeper, shades the root system, and holds soil moisture better than closely-clipped lawns. Avoid overfertilizing your lawn. The application of fertilizers increases the need for water and is a source of water pollution.
Mulch to retain moisture in the soil. Mulching also helps to control weeds that compete with plants for water. Repair dripping faucets by replacing washers. If your faucet is dripping at the rate of one drop per second, you can expect to waste 2,700 gallons per year. Plant native and/or drought-tolerant grasses, ground covers, shrubs, and trees. Check with your local nursery for advice. Group plants together based on similar water needs. Outfit your hose with a shut-off nozzle which can be adjusted down to a fine spray so that water flows only as needed. When finished, turn it off at the faucet instead of at the nozzle to avoid leaks. Minimize the grass areas in your yard because less grass means less water. Buy a rain gauge to determine how much rain or irrigation your yard has received.
Other Outdoor Water Wasters
Avoid hosing down your driveway or sidewalk; use a broom instead and save hundreds of gallons of drinkable water. Check all hoses, connectors, and spigots regularly. Replace or add washers if you find leaks. Avoid the installation of ornamental water features unless the water is recycled. If you have a pool, consider a new water-saving pool filter. A single backflushing with a traditional filter uses from 180 to 250 gallons of water. Consider using a commercial car wash that recycles water. If you wash your own car, park it on the grass, use a bucket with soapy water, turn off the water while soaping, and use a hose with a pressure nozzle to decrease rinsing time. Create an awareness of the need for water conservation among your children. Avoid purchasing recreational water toys that require a constant stream of water.
AT WORK & AROUND TOWN
Encourage your employer to promote water conservation at the workplace. Suggest that water conservation tips be put in the employee orientation manual and training program. Support projects that will lead to an increased use of reclaimed wastewater for irrigation and other uses. Promote water conservation in community newsletters, on bulletin boards, and by example. Patronize businesses that practice and promote water conservation. Report all significant water losses (broken pipes, open hydrants, misdirected sprinklers, abandoned or free-flowing wells, etc.) to the property owner, local authorities, or your water management district. Encourage your school system and local government to promote a water conservation ethic among school children and adults. Support efforts and programs to create a concern for water conservation among tourists and visitors to your state. Make sure your visitors understand the need for, and benefits of, water conservation. Conserve water because it is the right thing to do. Don't waste water just because someone else is footing the bill, such as when you are staying at a hotel.
Growing your own food is just smart and a great way to not have to rely on the stores to have what you want. Just because you live in an apartment or don't have much land doesn't mean you can't grow your own food. There are plenty of vegetables that do great in containers, such as tomatoes, peppers, onions, lettuce, spinach, beets, and of course many herbs.
Take into consideration how big the plant gets and plant accordingly into the right size pot. Make sure it has a drainage hole or two, and never let your veggies dry out. Over-watering can be just as dangerous. A good rule of thumb to avoid over-watering is to plunge a popsicle stick into the soil. If soil sticks to it, it doesn't need watered.
If you have a spot in the yard at least 4x4 feet, you can have a great little raised garden bed and plant a variety of veggies.
Keep in mind that plants have friends and neighbor well with some better than others. This is called Companion Planting. An example of this is tomatoes like to be planted near carrots, celery, cucumbers, onions, peppers. Do not plant corn or potatoes near your tomatoes. Beans do well with celery, corn, cucumbers, radish, strawberries and summer savory, but will not do well with garlic and onions. Planting mint near your cabbage will enhance the flavor of your cabbage. Marigolds near your tomatoes will deter tomato Aphids.
If you are new to gardening, container and small, raised bed gardening are great ways to start. Try an online search for Companion Gardening and Container Gardening...there is an entire world of information out there. Remember to start with non GMO seeds so you can save your seeds for next year's planting.
Teach your kids everything you learn; pass it on to them so they, too, can one day be self sustainable. Also, try canning to preserve your hard work and enjoy it in the winter.
Reducing waste does not mean you have to reduce what you buy, it means shopping with the environment in mind. Consider the environmental impact of each product before you buy it. Make a list of what you need before you go shopping; this will reduce impulse buying. Buy in bulk. It is cheaper and eliminates small containers and excess packaging, which accounts for 50 percent of our domestic trash. You have bought your laundry soap like this for years. Think about what else you can buy in bulk!
Avoid buying throwaways that can't be recycled. For instance, carry a camera but if you need to use a disposable camera make sure that it can be recycled when you get the film developed. Some companies that make one-time use cameras reuse and recycle up to 90 percent of the parts of their cameras when consumers send them in for developing. Installing low-flow shower heads and faucets can save a family of four 280 gallons of water per month. Seldom used items, such as appliances and party supplies, often collect dust, rust and take up valuable storage space. Consider renting or borrowing them the next time they're needed. Remember, every time you make a purchase you cast your vote to protect the environment.
Learning to reuse is easy, and after a little practice it will become second nature. Here are some great ways to reuse our precious resources. Reuse shopping bags or buy canvas bags and use them when you shop. Buy durable high quality goods for a longer life outside the landfill. Although durable goods may cost a little more at first, they will save you money and help save the environment in the long run.
Before throwing anything away, think about how each item can be reused. Be sure to use both sides of a piece of paper before recycling it. Donate clothing, furniture and appliances to charity. Hospitals and nursing homes often accept old magazines and schools reuse many items in their art and theater classes. Almost all glass, plastic and metal containers can be reused for storage in the kitchen or the garage. Think before you toss.
If you want to reduce and reuse at the same time, take a two liter pop bottle and fill it with water. Add a few stones to weigh it down, place it in the tank of your toilet, and you will have reused a pop bottle and reduced two liters of water every time you flush.
Reducing is the best way to protect the environment. However, if you can't reduce something, reuse it, and if you can't reuse it, recycle it. Recycling means collecting, processing, marketing, and ultimately using materials that were once discarded. For example, this morning's newspaper can be recycled into insulation, packing material, wrapping paper and more newspaper. Plastic pop and milk jugs are recycled into lumber that is used for making durable playground equipment and park benches.
Many different materials can be recycled. Among these are aluminum cans, glass bottles and jars, plastics, tin cans, steel cans, brass, copper, car batteries, computer paper, office paper, corugated cardboard, motor oil, scrap iron and steel and tires.
Separate aluminum, steel and tin cans from other metals. If you aren't sure whether a can is aluminum or steel, check with a magnet. A magnet will stick to steel and tin but will not stick to aluminum. Wipe or lightly rinse all cans and make sure they are dry before recycling them. Prepare newspapers by folding them into brown paper bags or bundle with string into one foot stacks. Prepare glass by rinsing and removing metal or plastic rims and lids. Sort by color: brown, green and clear. Prepare plastics by rinsing and separating by numbers. If plastic is recyclable, it will have a number on the bottom of the container. Break down corrugated cardboard boxes. Separate office paper into white, colored and glossy stacks. Be careful to remove sticky tabs and paper clips. Motor oil should be collected in no larger than five gallon containers and be free of contaminants. Tires are accepted from individuals no more than five per year.
The fur ads we see in magazines and commercials portray fur coats as a symbol of elegance. But these ads fail to show how the original owners of these coats met their gruesome deaths. Approximately 3.5 million furbearing animals -- raccoons, coyotes, bobcats, lynxes, opossums, nutria, beavers, muskrats, otters, and others -- are killed each year by trappers in the United States. Another 2.7 million animals are raised on fur "farms." Despite the fur industry's attempts to downplay the role of trapping in fur "production," it is estimated that more than half of all fur garments come from trapped animals.
RANCH RAISED FUR
Some people believe that animals raised in captivity on fur "ranches" do not suffer. This is not the case. Trapping and "ranching" have both similar and disparate cruelties involved, and neither is humane. "Ranched" animals, mostly minks and foxes, spend their entire lives in appalling conditions, only to be killed by painful and primitive methods.
Approximately one half of the fur coats made in the United States and Canada come from captive animals bred, born and raised on fur farms. These operations range from family-owned businesses with 50 animals to large operations with thousands of animals. But regardless of their size or location, "the manner in which minks (and other furbearers) are bred is remarkably uniform over the whole world," according to one study. As with other intensive-confinement animal farms, the methods used on fur farms are designed to maximize profits, always at the expense of the animals' welfare and comfort, and always at the expense of their lives.
In the United States there are approximately 500 fur farms. About 90% of all ranched fur bearers are minks. Foxes, rabbits and chinchillas account for most of the remainder, though fur farmers have recently diversified into lynx, bobcats, wolves, wolverines, coyotes and beavers. All of these animals live only a fraction of their natural lifespans; minks are killed at about five months of age, and foxes are killed when they are about nine months old. Breeding females live somewhat longer. The animals' short lives are filled with fear, stress, disease, parasites and other physical and psychological hardships, all for the sake of an industry that makes huge profits from its $648 million-a-year sales.
Foxes are kept in cages only 2.5 feet square, with one to four animals per cage. Minks and other species are generally kept in cages only one by three feet, again with up to four animals per cage. This extreme crowding and confinement is especially damaging to minks, who are by nature solitary animals. A large portion of ranched minks develop self-mutilating behaviors, including pelt and tail biting, and abnormalities called "stereotypes" such as pacing in ritualized patterns. Foxes kept in close confinement sometimes cannibalize each other.
Minks, foxes and chinchillas are fed meat and fish by-products so vile that they are unfit even for the pet food industry. These animals are also fed minced offal, which endangers their health because of bacterial contamination. Newly weaned kits and pups are especially vulnerable to the food poisoning this diet can cause. Water on fur farms is provided by a nipple system from which the animals can drink at will...except, of course, when the system freezes in the winter.
As with other caged and confined animals, animals on fur farms are much more susceptible to diseases than their free-roaming counterparts. Contagious diseases such as Aleutian disease, viral enteritis and pneumonia are passed from cage to cage, and sometimes kill entire populations. Bladder and urinary ailments (wet belly disease) and nursing sickness (which kills up to 80 percent of all animals it infects, if not treated in time) are common. Animals are often infested with fleas, ticks, lice, and mites, and disease-carrying flies are a particularly severe problem because they are attracted to the piles of excrement that remain under the cages for months.
Fur farm cages are typically kept in open sheds that provide little protection from wind, cold and heat. The animals' fur helps keep them warm in winter, but summer is very hard on minks because they lack the ability to cool their bodies without bathing in water. Free-roaming minks spend 60 to 70 percent of their time in water, and without it their salivation, respiration and body temperature increase greatly. When minks learn to shower themselves by pressing on their drinking water supply nipples, mink farmers have been known to modify the nipples to cut off even this meager water supply.
No humane slaughter law protects animals on fur farms, and killing methods are gruesome. Because the fur farmers care only about preserving the quality of the fur, they use slaughter methods that keep the pelts intact but which result in severe suffering for the animals still quite attached to the pelts. Small animals can be shoved up to 20 at a time into boxes, where they are poisoned with hot, unfiltered engine exhaust pumped in by hose from the fur farmer's truck. Engine exhaust is not always 100 percent lethal, and some animals "wake up" while being skinned. Larger animals, including foxes, often have clamps attached to their lips while rods are inserted into their anuses, and are then very painfully electrocuted. Other animals are poisoned with strychnine, which actually suffocates them by paralyzing their muscles in painful rigid cramps. Gassing, decompression chambers and neck snapping are other common fur farm slaughter methods.
An archaic device used for centuries, the steel-jaw leghold trap is the most commonly used trap in the U.S. by commercial and recreational fur trappers today. Triggered by a pan-tension device, the weight of an animal stepping between the jaws of the trap causes the jaws to slam shut on the victim's leg, or other body part, in a vice-like grip. Most animals react to the instant pain by frantically pulling against the trap in a desperate attempt to free themselves, enduring fractures, ripped tendons, edema, blood loss, amputations, tooth and mouth damage (from chewing and biting at the trap), and starvation. Some animals will even chew or twist their limbs off, so common that trappers have termed this occurrence as "wring-off," which for them means the loss of a marketable pelt. To the animal left crippled on three legs, "wring-off" means certain death from starvation, gangrene or attack from other predators.
On land, leghold traps are most frequently set for coyote, bobcat, fox, raccoon, skunk and other furbearing animals. However, leghold traps are inherently indiscriminate and will trap any unsuspecting animal that steps foot into the trap jaws, including companion animals, threatened and endangered species, and even humans. Trappers admit that for every "target" animal trapped, at least two other "non-target" animals, including dogs and cats, are trapped.
Aquatic leghold traps are most often set for muskrat, otter, mink and beaver. Most animals trapped in water will either try to surface to gasp for air or will drag the trap under water in an attempt to reach land. Usually they die a slow, agonizing death by drowning, which can take up to 20 minutes for some species. Death by drowning has been deemed inhumane by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).
More than 80 countries have banned leghold traps, as well as several states. But most states continue to allow them, and some states still allow the use of teeth on leghold traps. An estimated 80% of the total number of trapped animals in the U.S. are taken by steel-jaw leghold traps, followed by wire snares and Conibear traps.
In November 1995, the European Union banned the use of leghold traps in all 15-member nations.
Many veterinary associations, including the World Veterinary Association and the American Animal Hospital Association, have policy statements opposing the use of leghold traps. In 1993, the Executive Board of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) declared, "The AVMA considers the steel-jaw leghold trap to be inhumane."
A national poll showed that 74% of Americans believe leghold traps should be banned.
Trapping proponents argue that traps used today in the U.S. are humane, touting the "padded" leghold trap as a commonly used humane alternative to the steel jaw version. However, the only distinctive difference between the two traps is that the padded leghold trap has a thin strip of rubber attached to the trap jaws. Not only do these traps cause significant injuries to animals, but research indicates that fewer than 5% of trappers even own padded leghold traps in the U.S. Only a few states require that padded leghold traps be used, and this provision only applies to leghold traps set on land. Numerous studies have shown that padded traps can cause severe injuries to their victims.
Snares are categorized as either body/neck or foot snares. Like leghold traps, they are a primitive device, simple in design and vicious in action. They are generally made of light wire cable looped through a locking device or of small nylon cord tied so that it will tighten as the animal pulls against it. The more a snared animal struggles, the tighter the noose becomes, the tighter the noose, the greater the animal's struggle and suffering. The body snare is used primarily on coyotes and is often set where animals crawl under a fence or some other narrow passageway. The body snare is designed to kill the animal by strangulation or crushing of vital organs. However, snares do not discriminate between victims and will capture any animal around any body part.
While some small animals are thought to become unconscious in about six minutes when neck snared, larger animals can suffer for days on end. Trappers even have a term -- "jellyhead" -- that refers to the thick, bloody lymph fluid which swells the heads and necks of neck-snared canids. Snares frequently have to be replaced after each capture due to twisting and strain on the snare cable that results from animals struggling to free themselves.
Set on land and in water, snares are considered even more indiscriminate than the leghold trap. Because they are cheap and easy to set, trappers will often saturate an area with dozens of snares to catch as many animals as possible. Called "saturation snaring," this practice is common in Alaska where trappers attempt to target entire wolf packs through this reprehensible practice.
Even the Federal Provincial Committee for Humane Trapping has deemed the snare to cause too many injuries to be considered a "quick killing device."
The Conibear trap, named after its inventor Frank Conibear, consists of two metal rectangles hinged together midway on the long side to open and close like scissors. One jaw has a trigger that can be baited. The opposite jaw has a catch or "dog" that holds the trap open. Originally intended to be an "instant killing" device, the Conibear trap is designed to snap shut in a scissor-like fashion on an animal's spinal column at the base of the skull. However, because it is impossible to control the size, species and direction of the animal entering the trap, most animals do not die quickly in the Conibear trap...instead enduring prolonged suffering as the clamping force of the trap draws the jaws closer and closer together, crushing the animal's abdomen, head or other body part.
Domestic animals are frequent victims of this indiscriminate trap, especially the size 220 (7") Conibear. Numerous veterinary reports indicate that dogs and cats may be found dead or alive by their owners in these traps after suffering for days. However, because it is extremely difficult to open the trap jaws, most people are not able to free their companions in time.
Manufactured in three standard sizes, Conibear traps are frequently used in water sets to trap muskrat and beaver. In addition, they are used on land to trap raccoon, pine marten, opossum and other furbearers. Numerous research studies have shown that this trap does not kill instantly.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Every fur coat represents the intense suffering of up to several dozen animals, whether they were trapped or ranched. These cruelties will end only when the public refuses to buy or wear fur products and rejects the propaganda of trappers, ranchers and furriers whose monetary motives cause unjustifiable misery and death. Those who learn the facts about furs must help educate others, for the sake of the animals and for the sake of decency.
You've recently learned about animal issues. Or you're concerned about endangered species. Or you've been concerned about the environment for many years and have decided it's time to educate society about the issues. You may be timid or think you do not speak well in public. Perhaps you've never been involved in an activist group and you do not know the first thing about them. You may feel that you are all alone. But as an individual you can educate hundreds of people in your community and affect their often unwittingly exploitative attitudes and lifestyles.
Earth and animal activists are people who see the need for change and devote their time to doing something about it. They are driven by passion and a vision for a better future for animals and the environment. Whatever your reason for wanting to become an earth and animal activist, you have the ability to do so no matter your age, your means or your background. It's people like you, people who believe they have the power to make a difference, who end up bringing remarkable change for the planet and its animals.
Perhaps there are no animal or environmental groups in your area. But there is one animal advocate/environmentalist person—you. Anyone can be an earth and animal activist. It does not take any special skills or superhuman abilities. You just need to care enough about animals to want to help them.
Earth and animal activists are passionate enough to believe they can make change happen if they work hard enough to find a solution. While many people might become stalled when faced with the question, "How much good can one individual do?", activists believe that one dedicated and persistent person can make a difference for the earth and its animals.
Practice earth and animal activism at home, at work and in your community. Making a difference for the earth and animals can be as easy as posting messages on Facebook and blogs and participating in conversations relevant to your passion. Use your particular talents to bring positive changes for the planet and its animals.
Write to producers and networks of television programs in which animals are abused or ridiculed.
Write to thank producers and publishers for animal-friendly messages in print and on television.
Write letters to companies that conduct animal experiments.
Write letters to companies that use real wild and exotic animals in their commercials.
Write letters to the editor on earth and animal issues.
Write a letter to the editor of a newspaper that allows ads for fur, circuses or rodeos.
Write and call legislators to ask them to support animal-friendly legislation and thank them for past support.
Call the sponsors of upcoming entertainment events that use animals and ask them not to sponsor animal entertainment.
Encourage radio and television talk shows to discuss animal issues.
Record a pro animal/environment message on your voice mail.
Include a flyer or fact sheet with every bill you pay.
Ask your child’s teacher to stop keeping animals in the classroom.
Ask your child's school to stop requiring students to dissect animals.
Offer to walk a tethered neighbor dog and provide the dog with food, fresh water and toys.
Turn your backyard into a wildlife sanctuary.
Deal with wildlife problems humanely.
I.D. your companion animals and encourage others to do the same.
Prepare disaster kits for your companion animals.
Post flyers and fact sheets on work bulletin boards.
Donate to organizations that legitimately help animals and the environment. Expose greenwash organizations to coworkers so they can make more informed decisions regarding their donations.
Encourage coworkers to donate to organizations that do not test on animals.
Make cruelty-free and environmentally responsible investments.
Buy cruelty-free and green supplies for your office.
Use a coffee mug with a pro animal or pro earth message at work.
Take vegan dishes to office parties.
Encourage your workplace to implement dog-friendly policies.
Hold a volunteer work party to write letters, help out at an animal shelter, or make banners or signs for a demonstration.
IN YOUR COMMUNITY
Donate pro earth and animal books to your local library.
Setup a library display with a poster, flyers and appropriate books.
Donate pro earth and animal DVDs to your local video rental store.
Wear clothes and buttons with earth and animal statements.
Post and distribute WAF flyers and fact sheets around your town.
Setup an information table in a busy area of town to distribute flyers and fact sheets.
Offer to show videos and host seminars.
Take vegan meals to community functions and share the recipes.
Show your hairdresser products that aren’t tested on animals.
Encourage local pet stores to stop selling animals and to work with local animal groups to offer adoptions instead.
Organize a low cost spay and neuter event in your community.
Work to get local universities and schools to stop requiring dissection and to add vegan options to their menu.
Help feral cats in your neighborhood with Trap-Neuter-Return.
Ask for vegan options at local restaurants and grocery stores.
Suggest an earth or animal themed book for your next book club meeting.
Work to engage your place of worship with animal and environmental issues.
Register to vote.
Determine which elected officials represent you at local, state and federal levels.
Encourage local officials to find long-lasting, nonlethal solutions to conflicts with wildlife.
Attend town meetings to urge officials to support animal and environmental issues.
Work for the passage of local ordinances in your community.
Engage kids and teens with humane education activities and lesson plans.
Learn what animal and environmental legislation is now pending in Congress, and contact your federal and state legislators.
Organize a demonstration to help the earth and animals - holding posters and passing out flyers.
Promote earth and animal issues on cable-access television.
Speak at your club or church about earth and animal issues.
Host an earth and animal dinner party.
Teach a college or community education course on earth and animal issues.
Speak, or sponsor a speaker, at local schools, universities and civic clubs.
Find a local wildlife rescuer to help stop cruel trapping and killing of animals in your community.
Find free advertising space in your town for earth and animal issues.
Organize a litter cleanup in your town.
Follow World Animal Foundation on social media. Help spread the word about animal issues by sharing our posts, links and photos.
Include a link to WorldAnimalFoundation.org in your e-mail signature.
Add a link to WorldAnimalFoundation.org to your website, blog or social networking page.
Sign online earth and animal petitions.
Place earth and animal banners on your blog or website.
Host a fundraising party at home to raise donations for WAF.
Host a fundraising event in your community to raise donations for WAF.
Make a personal annual or monthly donation to WAF.
Donate a percentage of your online sales to WAF.
Donate a percentage of your business profits to WAF.
Make a memorial gift in honor of a friend or companion animal.
Include WAF as a beneficiary in your will.
Adopt an animal from a local animal shelter or rescue group.
Purchase eco-friendly and cruelty-free cosmetics, clothing and household products.
Provide for your animals’ future in case you can’t care for them.
Wear pro earth and pro animal t-shirts.
Display a bumper sticker on your car.
Display earth and animal stickers and magnets on yourself and your stuff.
Reduce or eliminate animal products from your diet.
About half the air pollution comes from cars and trucks. Two important ways to reduce air pollution are to drive less -- even a little less -- and to drive smart. Taking fewer trips in your car or truck helps cut air pollution. And adopting smart driving habits reduces your car's emissions. Driving less doesn't mean you have to stay home. Try combining driving with alternative modes of transportation:
Walk or ride a bicycle
Shop by phone or mail
Ride public transit
Driving smart keeps pollution at a minimum:
Use cruise control on the highway
Obey the speed limit
Combine your errands into one trip
Keep your car tuned and support the smog check program
Don't top off at the gas pumps
Replace your car's air filter
Keep your tires properly inflated
That's not all. When shopping for your next car...
Look for the most efficient, lowest polluting model--or even use either a non-polluting car or zero emission vehicle. (Check out ARB's Guide to Cleaner Cars) If you must drive on days with unhealthy air, drive your newest car. Newer cars generally pollute less than older models.
CHOOSE AIR-FRIENDLY PRODUCTS
Many products you use in your home, in the yard, or at the office are made with smog-forming chemicals that escape into the air. Here are a few ways to put a lid on products that pollute:
Select products that are water-based or have low amounts of volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
Use water-based paints. Look for paints labeled "zero-VOC"
Paint with a brush, not a sprayer
Store solvents in air-tight containers
Use a push or electric lawn mower
Start your barbecue briquettes with an electric probe, or use a propane or natural gas barbecue
Saving energy helps reduce air pollution. Whenever you burn fossil fuel, you pollute the air. Use less gasoline, natural gas, and electricity (power plants burn fossil fuels to generate electricity):
Turn off the lights when you leave a room
Replace energy hungry incandescent lights with fluorescent lighting
Check with your utility company for energy conservation tips, like purchasing energy saving appliances
Use a thermostat that automatically turns off the air conditioner or heater when you don't need them
Add insulation to your home
Use a fan instead of air conditioning
Use an EPA-approved wood burning stove or fireplace insert
Heat small meals in a microwave oven
Insulate your water heater
Install low flow showerheads
Dry your clothes on a clothesline
It takes energy to make and sell the products we use. Here are ways to cut energy use, reduce air pollution, and save money:
Choose recycled products
Choose products with recyclable packaging
Reuse paper bags
Recycle paper, plastics, and metals
Print and photocopy on both sides of the paper
WATCH OUT FOR THE SMALL STUFF
When you breathe, very small particles -- such as dust, soot, and acid droplets -- can slip past your lung's natural defense system. These particles get stuck deep in your lungs and may cause problems -- more asthma attacks, bronchitis and other lung diseases, decreased resistance to infections, and even premature death for the elderly or sick. Here are a few things you can do to reduce particulate matter pollution and protect yourself:
Don't use your wood stove or fireplace on days with unhealthy air
Avoid using leaf blowers and other types of equipment that raise a lot of dust - use a rake or broom instead
Drive slowly on unpaved roads
Drive less, particularly on days with unhealthy air
Avoid vigorous physical activity on days with unhealthy air
KNOW THE INSIDE STORY
Air pollution is a problem indoors and out. Most people spend at least 80 percent of their lives indoors. Here are some ways you can reduce pollution in your home, office or school:
Send smokers outside
Products such as cleaning agents, paints, and glues often contain harmful chemicals - use them outdoors or with plenty of ventilation indoors
Use safer products, such as baking soda instead of harsher chemical cleaners
Don't heat your home with a gas cooking stove
Have your gas appliances and heater regularly inspected and maintained
Clean frequently to remove dust and molds
SPEAK UP FOR CLEAN AIR
Do what you can to reduce air pollution. It will make a difference. Use your civic influence to improve regional and national air pollution standards:
Write to your local newspaper
Support action for healthy air
Let your elected representative know you support action for clean air
Both orcas (commonly known as killer whales) and dolphins are members of the dolphin family Delphinidae -- orcas are the largest members. More than 500 orcas, dolphins and other members of the dolphin family are held in captivity in the United States. Before the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) was passed in 1972, some 1,133 dolphins were captured in U.S. waters. Since 1961, 134 orcas have been captured worldwide for aquariums; of those only 28 are still alive, when a normal lifespan in the wild is 50 years. While the MMPA made it more difficult to capture marine mammals from the wild, aquariums can still apply for permits or import animals caught in other countries. Whether wild caught or captive born, orcas and dolphins in captivity are sentenced to a life of confinement deprived of normal social and environmental interaction.
The following are some of the myths surrounding captive marine mammals.
MYTH: The needs of orcas and dolphins are met in captivity.
Orcas and dolphins are extremely social, intelligent, and active animals. In the wild they are perpetually mentally and physically challenged by their life in the ocean and are almost always on the move. Orcas and dolphins in aquariums do not have a constantly changing aquatic environment to challenge them and their small tanks are comparable in size to human prison cells.
In the wild, dolphin populations are comprised of females and calves. Adult and sub-adult male dolphins form separate groups and form strong bonds in pairs or trios lasting up to ten years. Orcas live in maternal groups or pods consisting of family members including related adult males. No orca has yet been seen to transfer permanently from one pod to another. Studies of acoustical recordings show that each pod retains a unique dialect of vocalizations used in communication. Even after decades in captivity, orcas continue to produce the sounds of their natal pod.
In captivity these social organizations are restricted or nonexistent, as family members are traded and sold to other aquariums. In some cases calves have been removed from their mothers when they were only 6 months of age. When calves are separated from their mothers, it ensures that the normal social structure will never be developed.
MYTH: Marine mammals live longer in captivity.
Current research shows that there is no significant difference between the longevity of captive orcas and dolphins and wild orcas and dolphins. Despite the controlled environment, routine veterinary care and medications including anti-depressants, captive dolphins and orcas do not outlive their wild counterparts.
Looking at the bigger picture, the insistence on relying on mortality as a barometer of health of species is a distraction, taking attention away from the real issue of quality of life for the unfortunate animals who are forced to live in small barren enclosures for their entire lives.
MYTH: Marine parks conserve orcas and dolphins through breeding.
The marine mammals most commonly bred in captivity are not threatened or endangered species, so continued breeding in captivity exists to produce the next generation of park entertainers and to ensure continued profits. Aquariums have no intention of returning captive-bred animals to the wild. In fact, they claim that the success of such an endeavor would be unlikely and vehemently oppose release efforts.
Real conservation efforts focus on protecting habitat and the animals' place in that habitat.
MYTH: Aquarium research helps us understand and protect wild whales and dolphins.
Much of the research done at marine parks focuses around reproduction and maintaining the health of captive animals to ensure the perpetuation of profits for the industry. Results of studies conducted in captivity may not be adequately extrapolated to wild animals for several reasons:
Captive marine mammals live in small, sterile enclosures and are deprived of their natural activity level, social groups, and interactions with their natural environment.
Many captive marine mammals develop stereotypic behavior and/or aggression not known to occur in the wild.
What we have learned from captive research is that orcas and dolphins are more intelligent than previously imagined, providing more evidence that a life in captivity is inhumane.
MYTH: Marine parks provide valuable education and teach people respect for nature.
The principal education component at these parks comes from the "shows" where the animals perform tricks and stunts much like circus clowns. The education offered is often inaccurate, incomplete and misleading. Marine mammals cannot behave normally in a situation that deprives them of their natural habitat and social structure. Patrons witness and learn about abnormal animal behavior. The real message conveyed is not one of respect, but rather that it's all right to abuse nature.
MYTH: Most people feel marine parks are doing the right thing.
In a current national survey, almost all respondents indicated captive marine mammals should be kept under the most natural conditions possible, even if it meant the animals were more difficult to observe. Three-quarters of the American public further expressed a preference for marine mammals displaying natural behaviors rather than perform "tricks and stunts." Four-fifths of the national sample believed zoos and aquariums should not be permitted to display marine mammals unless major educational and/or scientific benefits resulted. Three-fifths objected to capturing wild dolphins and whales for display in zoos and aquariums. Three-quarters disapproved of keeping whales and dolphins in captivity if it resulted in significantly shortened lifespans.
A tremendous amount of money and public support was raised around the efforts to rehabilitate and release Keiko, the star of the movie Free Willy. This would not have been possible if people believed that aquariums were the right place for orcas.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Do not patronize any form of entertainment that uses animals. Tell your friends and family to boycott all aquariums that hold captive marine mammals for entertainment. Support only those aquariums involved solely in the rehabilitation and release of marine mammals, or the care of animals that cannot be released.
Support legislation to protect captive and wild marine mammals. If you witness a wild marine mammal being harassed or poached, contact the National Marine Fisheries Service. The national toll-free phone number for the enforcement division is 1-800-853-1964.
If you witness a captive marine mammal being neglected or mistreated at a marine park, contact the national headquarters of the U.S. Department of Agriculture:
Plants have been the main source of substances for pharmaceutical use for millennia. The majority of medicines have a natural origin before they are fortified with synthetic substances by the pharmaceutical industry. You can avoid the intermediary process and produce your own pharmaceutical plants in your own backyard. Fresh herbs are cheap, can be grown easily, can help with a wide array of symptoms, and cause relatively fewer adverse effects than drugs. Avoid running to your pharmacist whenever you have a minor ailment; go to your garden instead. Populate your pharmaceutical garden with the following potent medicinal plants.
Basil may be a common element of Italian food, but it also has great medicinal properties. This fantastic herb can help transform both you and your garden. It is very rich in beta-carotene, a precursor to Vitamin A. Vitamin A is essential for good vision, cell development, and immune health. Basil oil is rich in a compound named eugenol, which has anti-inflammatory properties and can comfort painful bones and joints just like over-the-counter ibuprofen. What’s more, it exhibits potent antibacterial properties and is effective even against antibiotic-resistant microorganisms.
Lemon balm belongs to the mint family, which explains its beautiful aroma. It has been traditionally used for hundreds of years as a sleeping and anti-anxiety remedy, to facilitate digestion, and to treat cold sores and lesions. It has been scientifically proven that lemon balm helps fight herpes lesions around the lips and the genitals. Eugenol, which is also present in lemon balm, has antibacterial properties and is also used in dentistry, as a topical agent for cavities. You can use dried leaves of lemon balm to decorate your salads, or to make hot tea.
Marigolds are yellow and orange flowers that are common in gardens and backyards. They are rich in antioxidant substances that scavenge free radicals, extremely reactive particles that can damage cells and genetic material and cause cancer. Research has shown that lutein, a substance with antioxidant properties that is present in marigold extract, has tumor-fighting properties. What’s more, marigolds fight inflammation, making them useful in the treatment of burns, scrapes, and irritated skin. Finally, they are useful in fighting pests, as insects are paralyzed within seconds after consuming it.
Sage is a native Mediterranean plant that can grow anywhere in the world, notorious for its multi-color appearance, with its purple, blue, pink and white flowers and leaves. With strong antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial activity, sage strengthens the immune system and is particularly helpful against fungal infections. It is also traditionally known as a treatment for indigestion, mental issues, and muscular spasms. Moreover, it has been successfully used to treat hot flashes and menstrual cramps in women. There is some evidence that sage extract may positively affect cognition, making it a good candidate for an Alzheimer’s disease treatment. Finally, the plant itself adds a beautiful touch to any garden and can also be used as a potent additive to any cuisine.
Comfrey, as its name suggest, is comforting in numerous ways. Its drooping flowers and bristly hairs are its distinctive characteristic. It was widely used in Ancient Greece to treat open wounds and broken bones, a use that continues to this day. These claims have been vindicated by science. The main ingredient of this herb is allantoin, a compound with moisturizing properties – hence its use in several products for the skin. It has been scientifically proven that comfrey is useful against ulcers, dermatitis, and swollen ankles. However, caution should be exercised, as comfrey also contains minute concentrations of alkaloids that have cancer-causing properties. This is why it is often recommended only to use comfrey externally.
Thyme is a member of Thymus, a genus indigenous to Asia and Europe. It has been typically used as a decoration element, while bees make honey from its pollen. Thyme exhibits strong antibacterial and antiseptic properties. Research has shown that thyme can be valuable in antimicrobial resistance, and is more effective in treating acne than many prescription topical preparations. It is also used to ease gastrointestinal and respiratory issues, arthritis and sore throat. In general, it is a great addition to your garden, and can also be used as a flavor-enhancing herb in your kitchen.
Echinacea is a famous herb, known for its use by Native Americans as a means of treating wounds and fighting off infections. Because it is resilient to drought, Echinacea can be cultivated very easily. During mid-summer, it blossoms into a gorgeous coneflower. Today it is widely used to shorten the course of common colds and infections of the sinuses. Also, many herbalists use it to treat bee stings, migraines, and urinary tract infections. During the summer, you can make Echinacea ice tea.
Nettle has been used for centuries to treat gout, arthritis, insect bites, allergies and infections of the urinary system. What’s more, nettle has a great taste and valuable cleansing properties with many uses in the kitchen. You can recognize it by its stinging hairs. Although they sting anything they touch, they surprisingly sooth already irritated skin.
Greek mythology holds Achilles, the legendary warrior king, used yarrow for the treatment of open battle wounds. Yarrow is easy to cultivate and has an effect on almost every bodily function, with the liver, spleen, kidneys and bladder among others. Exhibiting potent antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity, this panacea has a marvelous effect on a wealth of conditions, ranging from open wounds to indigestion. It has been successfully used to treat fever, rashes, and hypertension. In addition, its alkaloids can soothe menstruation pain as well. Collect yarrow from your garden to treat minor ailments and also fortify your soups, salads, and stir-fries.
Chinese yam is a vine with great fame surrounding its medicinal properties. It has been used in the past for the treatment of diarrhea and sore throat, and also for controlling blood glucose and to counter weight gain. It has potent stomach and spleen-strengthening properties. Rich in vitamin B6, it shields against heart disease by removing homocysteine from circulation, an amino-acid that can harm the walls of veins and arteries. You can even eat this cinnamon-scented herb raw.
Gardens can be so much more than a pleasing sight; they can provide food, pharmaceutical herbs, and life. If you grow your own pharmaceutical herbs, you can save money and improve your well-being.