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!
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.
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.
Despite continued calls from the public and leading experts to abandon inhumane badger culls, thousands of badgers are slaughtered each year in England in a misguided attempt to control tuberculosis in cattle. Killing badgers as a means of controlling the spread of the disease has been overwhelmingly declared ineffective by a host of eminent scientific experts.
The government continues to maintain that shooting badgers reduces TB in cattle, for which there is no evidence. In fact, the vast majority of scientists agree that this approach actually increases the risk of spreading the disease.
Shooting thousands of badgers, the majority of whom will not even have TB, is a costly distraction from the real solution to TB in cattle. The truth is, they could wipe out every badger in England and farmers would still be dealing with TB in cattle: it’s a disease of cattle, primarily spread by cattle, and it’s cattle-focused control measures that will stop it.
If badgers were causing TB in cattle, scientists would see a similar pattern of infection in both species. However, analysis reveals that this is not the case.
There is little geographical overlap between farms with infected cattle and setts with infected badgers, and cycles of infections between the two species are not synchronized. Also, the spatial aggregation pattern of TB in cattle and badgers is different – in badgers the disease is found in clusters, whereas in cattle the disease is much more random and dispersed.
While policymakers have adopted the bovine TB management strategy of culling badgers, culling badgers spreads the disease further as it forces them to runaway.
Culling causes great suffering to badgers with no meaningful benefit to farmers or their cattle. Badgers are killed by two methods: by “cage trapping and shooting,” where they are caught in cage traps and then shot at close range; or by “controlled” shooting, where a cull company contractor shoots them with a rifle in the countryside at night.
An Independent Expert Panel estimated that between 7.4 percent and 22.8 percent of badgers that are shot are still alive after 5 minutes, experiencing marked pain.
The enormous cull is completely at odds with public attitudes. A YouGov poll revealed the high level of concern the public has for badger welfare, with 67 percent of respondents saying they are concerned at the suffering caused to badgers. This concern is reflected in the number of ordinary local residents who join badger patrols night after night to check badger setts and look for injured animals.
There is no justice in killing badgers when all the science says killing badgers will make no meaningful difference to the incidence of bTB in cattle. In Wales, where stricter cattle testing and movement restrictions have been implemented in recent years (and where badger vaccination is undertaken and there is no badger culling), the number of cattle slaughtered as a result of bovine TB has been reduced by 45 percent.
Badger culls are ignorant and cruel. Tell the government to stop killing badgers.
It is unethical and absolutely unnecessary to submit animals to testing for the development of cosmetics or other household products. If you want to help animals, you have the power as a consumer to do so with your buying choices.
Using animals during product development and testing is largely a consumer issue. It is not going to stop unless caring consumers stand up for animal rights and leverage their purchasing power. It is possible to stop the unnecessary suffering of millions of animals every year by putting an end to animal product testing through the adoption of informed, humane practices.
If you are against animal testing, you can make a substantial difference by boycotting companies that engage in animal testing. Opting to use cruelty-free products instead is a means of putting pressure on the marketplace itself, besides an ethical choice. If more and more people stop buying the products of companies that support animal testing, we substantially hurt their sales, and therefore it’s more likely that those companies will reconsider their practices.
Cruelty-free shopping is about buying products that have not been used on animals for testing purposes, and products that do not contain animal byproducts. But this process doesn’t come without challenges, and the biggest challenge is how to distinguish such products. Luckily, considerable work has been done by animal rights groups who have compiled lists of companies outlining their animal testing practices. Moreover, they provide logos for companies to use in order to certify that their products are cruelty-free so customers can identify them more easily.
If you wish to buy such products that conform to a higher standard, you can keep an eye out for such cruelty-free logos. The most trusted of these is the Leaping Bunny. For a product to hold this logo, a number of rigid requirements and standards must be met as defined by CCIC, the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics. This organization acts as a federation of multiple animal rights groups.
To earn the CCIC certification, a company must conform to the following:
It doesn’t do animal testing on any of its products.
It doesn’t use ingredients that underwent animal testing after the date of CCIC certification.
It abstains from selling their products to countries that require testing on animals.
Their entire supplier chain, ranging from producers of ingredients to those of finished products, declare in writing that they don’t test their products on animals.
A CCIC-appointed firm conducts independent auditing of the company to ensure that all suppliers conform to their statement.
The Leaping Bunny logo appears on certified companies’ products and is an internationally respected sign of reliable, animal-friendly products.
The Leaping Bunny Logo is just one way to distinguish animal-friendly products. There are also online registries of all the animal-friendly certified companies. To view these lists, you can visit their website at leapingbunny.org.
These registries are particularly useful when you are doing online shopping of personal care products. If you are not sure about a company, you can cross-check with the Leaping Bunny Approved Brands lists and validate them.
Some companies haven't acquired a license for the logo, but you still can do a quick online background check on companies lacking the logo. The Leaping Bunny program offers a relevant app, and you can also get a wallet-sized guide in the mail for free. You can even download the guide and print it, or keep it in your smartphone in digital form.
You can also support the animal-friendly notion by making your own cleaning and personal care products. By doing so, you have the highest assurance that no animal testing was conducted, as well as assuring that your products contain no toxic chemicals. A wide variety of products can be made at home using natural substances: shower gel, shampoo, lotion, conditioner, toothpaste, bathroom cleaner, window cleaner, and much more. Chances are that you already have most of the ingredients you’ll need. Additionally, many of the products you make at home have multiple uses. You can learn how to make homemade natural products for cleaning and personal care on the Internet.
By adopting animal-friendly consuming habits, you both support companies that adhere to ethical practices and apply pressure to other companies to do the same. If you prefer to make your own products, you not only help animals but also the environment. Simple lifestyle choices, activism, and animal-friendly shopping can positively affect the lives of animals worldwide.
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.
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.
"Compassionate living" is a concept based on the belief that humans have a moral responsibility to treat animals with respect, and that the interests of humans and animals should be considered equally. This means that in any decision that could potentially affect the life of an animal, that particular animal's interests should not be dismissed simply because it is inconvenient for us to consider them.
Although it may not always be easy to determine accurately the best interests of an animal, we can safely assume that animals generally prefer to live, to be free from pain and to express their natural behaviors.
The failure of humans to consider an animal's needs/interests as equal to those of humans is an expression of prejudice called speciesism. Defenders of speciesism often argue that humans are superior to other species because of their greater intelligence. Taken to its logical extreme, this argument would imply that humans with higher I.Q. scores should have more rights than humans with lower I.Q. scores. However, we have developed the sensitivity to extend basic human rights to all humans, whether or not they meet any criteria for intelligence, capacity or potential. But animals are commonly experimented on without their consent, and even killed, if it suits human purposes. This gross inequality is what we are trying to address with the concept of "animal rights."
Another common assertion is that humans are superior to animals because we possess the capacity to understand morality, as well as the ability to determine right from wrong. Since some animals may lack these same abilities, it is argued that humans are not obligated to treat them in any particular way. However, if only those who are capable of making and understanding moral judgments were to be accorded basic human rights, than infants, young children, and the severely ill or mentally challenged would be excluded. It is equally logical to affirm that, since humans are the only ones who can make moral judgments, that it is our responsibility to do so on behalf of the animals.
All animals, including humans, have the ability to experience pleasure and pain. Unfortunately, humans have tended to inflict tremendous amounts of pain and suffering on animals without any consideration of how this affects the animals themselves. By making compassionate daily choices, you can help end widespread animal abuse and exploitation.
WHAT YOU CHOOSE TO WEAR
Fur: Each year more than 40 million animals are senselessly tortured and killed to satisfy the dictates of fashion. Wild-caught fur is obtained by setting traps or snares to capture fur-bearing animals. Once an animal is caught it may remain in the trap or snare for several days starving or slowly strangling. Farm-raised fur comes from animals kept in tiny, filthy cages, deprived of adequate protection from the elements. As a result, animals develop stereotypical behavior, including pacing, head bobbing, and self-mutilation. The techniques used to kill animals on fur farms include neck snapping or "popping", electrocution with a rod shoved into the anus and gassing or smothering.
Wool: Sheep raised for wool are subjected to a lifetime of cruel treatment. Lambs' tails are chopped off and males are castrated without anesthetic. In Australia, where 80% of all wool comes from, ranchers perform an operation called "mulesing" where huge strips of skin are carved off the backs of lambs' legs. This procedure is performed to produce scarred skin that won't harbor fly larvae, so that the rancher can spend less time caring for the sheep. The shearing of sheep can be a brutal, as workers are encouraged to shear as quickly as possible. As a result, an estimated one million Australian sheep die every year from exposure. Sheep that are no longer useful for their wool are sent to crowded feedlots and then transported to the slaughterhouse.
Leather: By-products of the beef industry are defined by the parts of the cow that are not consumed by humans. These include hooves, some organs, bones, and skin. Skin (leather) accounts for about half of the by-product of the beef industry. Like meat, leather is a product made from animals that experienced the horrors of factory farming, transport and slaughter. The leather industry uses some of the most dangerous substances to prepare leather, including formaldehyde, coal-tar derivatives, various oils and some cyanide-based dyes.
WHAT YOU CHOOSE FOR ENTERTAINMENT
Circus: Animals used in the circus spend the majority of the year imprisoned in small cages or on chains, traveling from show to show. The training endured by circus animals is almost always based on intimidation; trainers must break the spirit of the animals in order to control them. It is not uncommon for an elephant to be tied down and beaten for several days while being trained to perform, and tigers are chained to their pedestals with ropes around their necks to choke them down.
Rodeo: Horses and cows used in rodeos are abused with electrical prods, sharp spurs and "bucking straps" that pinch their sensitive flank area. During bucking events, horses and bulls may suffer broken legs or run into the sides of the arena causing serious injury and even death. During calf-roping events, a calf may reach a running speed of 27 miles per hour before being jerked by the neck to an abrupt stop by a lasso. This event has resulted in animals' punctured lungs, internal hemorrhaging, paralysis and broken necks.
Greyhound and Horse Racing: Once greyhounds begin their racing careers, they are kept in cages for about 22-1/2 hours a day. The cages are made of wire and are barely big enough for dogs to turn around. Dogs considered too slow to race are sold to research facilities or killed (20,000-25,000 each year) - very few are adopted. More racehorses are bred than can prove profitable on the racetrack. As a result, hundreds are sent to slaughter every year.
Zoos and Aquariums: While zoos and aquariums may appear to be educational and conservation-oriented, most are designed with the needs and desires of the visitors in mind, not the needs of the animals. Many animals in zoos and aquariums exhibit abnormal behavior as a result of being deprived of their natural environments and social structures. Some zoos and aquariums do rescue some animals and work to save endangered species, but most animals in zoos were either captured from the wild or bred in captivity for the purpose of public display, not species protection. The vast majority of captive-bred animals will never be returned to the wild. When the facility breeds too many animals they become "surplus" and often are sold to laboratories, traveling shows, shooting ranches, or to private individuals unqualified to care for them.
WHAT YOU CHOOSE TO EAT
Every year billions of animals are raised and killed for human consumption. Unlike the family farms of the past, today's factory farms are high-revenue, high-production entities. On a factory farm, animals are confined to extremely small spaces, which allows farmers to concentrate on maximizing production. Because this type of overcrowding breeds disease, animals are routinely fed antibiotics and sprayed with pesticides. They are also fed growth hormones to enhance productivity. These chemicals, antibiotics and hormones are passed on to the environment, as well as to consumers of meat and dairy products.
Pork: In the United States each year more than 115 million pigs are raised on factory farms and slaughtered for human consumption. Factory-farmed pigs are raised in crowded pens which are enclosed inside huge barns. The air in these barns is filled with eye and lung burning ammonia created by urine and fecal waste collected below the floors. Breeding sows (or "animal production units") spend their lives in metal crates so small that they cannot turn around. Denied adequate space and freedom of movement, these sows often develop stereotypical behavior, repetitive movement such as head bobbing, jaw smacking, and rail biting. At the slaughterhouse, pigs are stunned (often inadequately), hung upside down before their throats are cut, and then bled to death. If workers fail to kill a pig with the knife, that pig is carried on the conveyer belt to the next station, the scalding tank, where he or she may be boiled alive.
Chicken: Every year approximately 8.785 billion chickens are raised and slaughtered for human consumption in the United States, most on factory farms. Crowded and unable to express natural behavior, chickens begin to peck excessively at each other. Rather than solve this problem by providing adequate space for the chickens, factory farmers "debeak" them, a painful procedure where the bird's sensitive upper beak is sliced off with a hot metal blade. Chickens raised for consumption have been genetically altered to grow abnormally large. As a result, many broiler chickens' bones are unable to support the weight of their muscle tissue, which causes them to hobble in pain or become crippled. At the slaughterhouse, chickens while still fully conscious are hung upside down by their feet and attached to a moving rail. Birds missed by the mechanical neck-slicing blade and boiled alive are called "redskins".
Eggs: There are more than 459 million egg-laying hens in the U.S. Of these, 97% are confined to "battery" cages - tiny wire boxes roughly 16 by 18 inches wide. Five or six birds are crammed into each cage. Battery hens are forced to produce 10 times more eggs than they would naturally. When egg production slows, factory farmers use a method called "forced molting" to shock the hens into losing their feathers, which causes them to begin a premature laying cycle. "Forced molting" involves starving the hens and denying them water for several days' time, during which many hens die. To keep hens from pecking each other in their crowded cages, factory farmers "debeak" them. Male chicks, considered by-products of laying hen production, are either tossed into plastic bags to suffocate slowly, or ground into animal feed while still alive.
Beef: About 41.8 million beef cattle are slaughtered annually in the United States. For identification purposes, cattle are either branded with hot irons or "wattled," a process in which a chunk of flesh from under the cow's neck is cut out. Raised on the range or in feed lots, cattle when large enough are crammed into metal trucks and taken to slaughter. On the way to slaughter, these cattle may travel for hours in sweltering temperatures with no access to water. Animals unable to stand due to broken legs or illness are called "downers" by the meat industry. Downers are electrically prodded or dragged with chains to the slaughterhouse, or left outside, without food or water, to die.
Milk: About half of the 10 million milking cows in the U.S. are kept in confinement on factory farms. Dairy cows are forced to produce 10-20 times the amount of milk they would naturally need for their calves. This intensive production of milk is extremely stressful, and as a result many dairy cattle "burn out" at a much younger age than their normal life expectancy, and up to 33% suffer painful udder infections. To continue milk production, a cow must bear a calf each year. Although calves elsewhere stay with their mothers for a year or more, on the dairy factory farm they are immediately removed from their mothers so that milk can be sold for human consumption. Calves are sold to the beef or veal industry or become replacements for "burned out" dairy cows.
WHAT PRODUCTS YOU CHOOSE
Despite the modern alternatives to animal testing, millions of animals suffer and die each year for the "good" of cosmetics and household products. No law in the U.S. requires cosmetic, household product, or office supply companies to test on animals, but many companies do so to protect themselves against liability. However, animal testing does not necessarily make a product safe for humans. Most animal tests were developed over 50 years ago and are significantly flawed and inferior to modern alternatives. Use your dollars to send a strong message that animal testing is outdated and unnecessary. Support only companies committed against animal testing.
We all know fruits and vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet, and a plant-based diet is good for the planet and its animals. But most people don’t eat enough of these healthy powerhouses. An easy way to make sure you’re getting enough of the good stuff is to find new ways to mix them into meals you already enjoy. And aim for making at least ½ your plate full of fruits and veggies.
Try increasing your fruits and vegetables by following these tips.
Getting More Out of Breakfast
Add fresh fruit to cereal, oatmeal, whole grain pancakes, or vegan waffles.
Getting More Out of Lunch
Add some vegetables to your veggie burger or tofu wrap, or have vegetable soup. Try adding chopped apples, pears, raisins, or other dried fruit to your salad. And don't forget beans—like black beans or chickpeas.
Getting More Out of Dinner
Steam or stir-fry some veggies to top off whole grain pasta or rice. Make shish-kabobs by putting vegetables on a skewer. Make a vegan pizza or sub with lots of veggies.
Getting More Out of Snacks
Blend fruits in a healthy smoothie. Cut up fruits and veggies and eat them with hummus or vegan peanut butter. Try a mix of unsalted nuts, raisins, or other dried fruit and your favorite whole grain cereal. Snack on popcorn or try some whole wheat, vegan pretzels.
Track What You're Eating
It’s important to keep track of the steps you’re taking toward nourishing your body with a healthier, vegan diet. By keeping track of what you’re eating—even for a couple of weeks— you may be able to identify patterns that are helping—or hurting—your goals for nourishing your body in a healthy way.
Don’t get too bogged down in the details. We all have those days where we get to the end of the day and realize we haven’t eaten the kinds of foods or the portions we know we need to lead the healthy life we want. By keeping track of what you eat over a couple of weeks, you may be able to get a better sense of your more general pattern of eating and identify areas of success (like eating lots of veggies), as well as places where you could make some improvements (like when you’re likely to mindlessly munch and fill up on empty calories).Think of tracking the foods you eat as a tool to help you reach your goals.
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.
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:
Growing your own food and being self sustainable is something to really consider to save money and eat healthier. It used to be the way of life for most families, but we are now too dependent on the grocery stores or the older generation. It's not as hard as you would think and gets quite addicting!
Think about sewing your seeds indoors. All you need are some trays with holes in them, a larger pan to set the seed trays in so they can sit in water, seed planting soil, seeds of your choice, and a grow light or florescent bulb.
Follow the planting depth on the packages and then set them in the larger trays of water. Seeds are better off watered from the bottom. If you soak them, or let them get dry, they will probably never make it.
Cover the seed trays with plastic wrap and set the light on them about 2-3 inches above the trays. Once they sprout, raise the light a few inches and remove the plastic wrap.
Seeds like it warm, between 65-75 degrees. If you are only doing a couple of trays, set them on top of the fridge with their light.
Once the weather is closer to planting your seedlings, don't just throw them outside and plant them. Let them sit on the porch during the day and bring them back in at night. Do this for a few days to let them 'toughen up'. Then plant them as indicated on the pack.
An animal advocate is one who fights for animals to have the right to exist without the fear of being mistreated, exploited or exterminated. The welfare of animals is foremost in the mind of a genuine animal activist. Activists work to ensure that animals receive proper care, treatment and respect, and endeavor to create awareness among the public about animal exploitation and abuse issues. Animal advocates can be individuals, volunteers of an organization, or paid employees of an organization.
1. Determine Your Strengths
A good way to become an animal activist is to make a list of your strengths. Everyone is endowed with some skills; it makes sense to chose those skills that are conducive to animal rights activism. Your personal strengths can be used to make a big impact for animals.
2. Choose Your Cause
Find out as much as you can about animals and the various issues affecting them. This could include habitat destruction, deforestation, animal agriculture, urban development, illegal trafficking, neglect and various forms of animal exploitation and abuse. It is advisable to choose just one or two areas to focus on. Trying to pursue too many causes can prove diversionary and quickly burn you out.
3. Know Your Subject
Your ability to convince people is greatly affected by the amount of knowledge you possess about the subject. Watching documentaries, searching the web, reading books, and perusing articles will help you gain knowledge on your chosen issues. It also helps to compile a data bank which can lend strength to your arguments when you present facts to potential enthusiasts or donors.
4. Get Connected
Individual effort is indeed a good way to advocate animal protection and preservation. But activism is more effective when you connect with other people who also feel passionately about the subject. Meet-ups with like-minded people in your locality, or attending workshops or seminars, are productive ways to stay connected with fellow activists and potential activists. Join online groups associated with your cause.
To make headway in animal advocacy, nothing is more constructive than volunteer work. Take part in activities of organizations that espouse similar causes as yours. Getting in touch with local chapters of humane societies, SPCAs, or wildlife rehabilitation centers is a good place to start.
6. Plant A Seed
To circulate your passion for animal advocacy go on-line. The web offers instant communication to large numbers of people - not just locally, but worldwide. Construct a blog or a website, or create social media pages. Make people feel your passion for the subject. Create well-written articles on sensitive issues, or post recent news topics on the subject. This will create awareness among those who may not have been previously aware of the issue.
Most of the people you speak to about animal issues are clear about what they feel. Listen to their viewpoint and find common ground. Determine what your target audience feels about the subject and offer a little additional information to make them think more deeply about the subject.
8. Power Of The Pen
Letter and email writing can be powerful tools in promoting your cause. Write to authourities and companies at local and national levels about animal issues. Many of the addresses of such agencies, institutions and corporations can be found on the web. You can also write letters to the editor(s) of your local newspaper(s).
9. Raise Funds
Organize fund-raising activities for your cause. Dinner events, bake sales and marathons can attract hundreds of participants. Proceeds from such activities can be used for your own group, or can be donated to organizations that support your goals.
10. Be Prepared
Make sure to carry brochures, pamphlets or business cards with you wherever you go. There are numerous opportunities throughout the day to distribute educational and promotional materials that draw attention to your cause.
11. Get Noticed, Get Vocal
Getting visible is the name of the game. Catchy animal photographs and posters displayed at local events will draw people to your table or booth. Circulate literature about your activities via brochures and business cards carrying URLs of your website, blog or social media page. Arrange for lecture appointments at schools, colleges and universities. Make your presence known to local authorities and regulators. Post messages and videos on your site and social media outlets to gain wider dissemination of information on the issues you stand for.
12. Practice, Practice, Practice
Animal advocacy is like any other skill: the more you practice, the better you’ll become. Hone your skills.
Consumers have huge environmental impact. We like to blame the government or industries for the Earth's problems, but what we buy makes a big difference.
The world's workshop – China – surpassed the United States as the largest emitter of greenhouse gases on Earth in 2007. But if you consider that nearly all of the products that China produces, from iPhones to tee-shirts, are exported to the rest of the world, the picture looks very different.
"If you look at China's per capita consumption-based (environmental) footprint, it is small," says Diana Ivanova, a PhD candidate at Norwegian University of Science and Technology's Industrial Ecology Programme. "They produce a lot of products but they export them. It's different if you put the responsibility for those impacts on the consumer, as opposed to the producer."
That's exactly what Ivanova and her colleagues did when they looked at the environmental impact from a consumer perspective in 43 different countries and 5 rest-of-the-world regions. Their analysis showed that consumers are responsible for more than 60 percent of the globe's greenhouse gas emissions, and up to 80 percent of the world's water use.
"We all like to put the blame on someone else, the government, or businesses," Ivanova says. "But between 60-80 percent of the impacts on the planet come from household consumption. If we change our consumption habits, this would have a drastic effect on our environmental footprint as well."
Consumers are directly responsible for 20 percent of all carbon impacts, which result from when people drive their cars and heat their homes. But even more surprising is that four-fifths of the impacts that can be attributed to consumers are not direct impacts, like the fuel we burn when we drive our cars, but are what are called secondary impacts, or the environmental effects from actually producing the goods and products that we buy.
A good example of this is water use. When you think about cutting your individual water use, you might think about using your dishwasher very efficiently, or taking shorter showers. Those aren't bad ideas on their own, but if you look deeper you'll find that much of the water use on the planet is gulped up by producing the things that you buy.
Consider beef. Producing beef requires lots of water because cows eat grains that need water to grow. But because cows are relatively inefficient in converting grains into the meat that we eat, it takes on average about 15,415 liters of water to produce one kilo of beef.
Dairy products require similarly large amounts of water to produce. When a group of Dutch researchers looked at the difference in producing a liter of soy milk with soybeans grown in Belgium compared to producing a liter of cow's milk, they found it took 297 liters of water to make the soy milk (with 62 percent of that from actually growing the soybeans) versus a global average of 1050 liters of water to produce a liter of cow's milk.
Processed foods, like that frozen pizza you bought for dinner last night, are also disproportionately high in water consumption. Making processed foods requires energy, materials and water to grow the raw materials, ship them to the processor, produce the processed food items and then package the final product.
This is particularly bad news when it comes to chocolate, which is one of the most water-intensive products we can buy. It takes a shocking 17,000 liters to produce a kilo of chocolate.
Researchers have also looked at environmental impacts on a per-capita, country-by-country basis. While the information is sometimes surprising – Luxembourg has a per capita carbon footprint that is nearly the same as the United States – it mostly follows a predictable pattern. The richer a country is, the more its inhabitants consume. The more an individual consumes, the bigger that person's impact on the planet.
But the differences between individual countries are extremely high. The countries with the highest consumption have about a 5.5 times higher environmental impact over the world average.
The United States is the overall worst performer when it comes to per capita greenhouse gas emissions, with a per capita carbon footprint of 18.6 tons CO2 equivalent, the unit used by researchers to express the sum of the impacts of different greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and sulphur hexafluoride.
The US is followed closely by Luxembourg, with 18.5 tons CO2 equivalent, and Australia, with 17.7 tons CO2 equivalent. For comparison, China's per capita carbon footprint is just 1.8 tons CO2 equivalent. Norway, at 10.3 tons CO2 equivalent per capita, is three times the global average of 3.4 tons CO2 equivalent per capita.
The results for individual countries also reflect the effects of the electricity mix, or the fuel source that countries rely on for electric power. The prevalence of nuclear or hydroelectric power in countries such as Sweden, France, Japan and Norway means that these countries have lower carbon footprints than countries with similar incomes but with more fossil fuels in their energy mix.
For this reason, a significant portion of household impacts from Sweden and France come from imports (65 and 51 percent respectively), because the products that are imported are mostly produced with fossil fuels.
The advantage of identifying the effects of individual consumer choices on the different environmental measures is that it pinpoints where consumers in different countries can cut back on their impacts.
Households have a relatively large degree of control over their consumption, but they often lack accurate and actionable information on how to improve their own environmental performance. The two best, and easy, ways to cut your environmental impact are to stop eating meat and cut back on your purchases.
Forest are great storehouses of natural life. Nearly half of our forest are now gone. We must act now to save the earth's forest. You can help by reducing, reusing, recycling & refusing to purchase paper and wood products that that are not ecologically responsible.
Every ton of paper that is recycled saves 17 trees, 4100 kilowatts of electricity, 7000 gallons of water and 90 cubic feet of landfill space.
1. Volunteer for tree-planting projects.
2. Buy firewood from "downed wood" sources
3. Purchase wood products certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)
4. Shop for FSC-certified products on the web at www.CertifiedProducts.org
5. Use only FSC-Certified products
6. Use recycled wood for remodeling and repairs
7. Avoid chlorine bleached paper
8. Buy recycled paper products and avoid products with excessive paper packaging
9. Use both sides of paper and save scraps for notes
Interested in making a difference for the planet and the animals that inhabit it? One of the best places to volunteer may be right near you:
an animal shelter
animal protection organization
Whether you walk dogs at your shelter, stuff envelopes for an educational mailing, clean cages or assist with a fundraising event, you can make a difference in the lives of animals.
VolunteerMatch helps good people and good causes connect. Its online service, www.volunteermatch.org, makes it easy to find a way to make a difference by location, expertise, or availability. The online network features thousands of volunteer listings. And each day, new listings are added. There’s something for everyone. Just enter your zip code and interest area, and VolunteerMatch will provide you with a list of opportunities in your community. See something that interests you? Click on it to read more. Another click contacts the organization. It's that simple.
HOW TO FIND YOUR LOCAL ANIMAL SHELTER OR RESCUE
The easiest place to start your search for your local animal shelter is online at:
You can enter your zip code and find a list of animal shelters, animal control agencies, and other animal care organizations in your community. In addition, these sites feature animals available for adoption, low-cost spay/neuter services, and volunteer opportunities.
You may also want to look in your phone book or search online. Animal shelters are called by a variety of names, so search for "animal shelter," "humane society," or "animal control." Public animal care and control agencies are often listed under the city or county health department or police department in phone books.
VOLUNTEER FOR WILDLIFE
Volunteering to participate in wildlife conservation is a great way to get involved in scientific research, promote environmental education, and gain experience working with animals.
Today, there are many volunteer opportunities available, both locally and internationally. These opportunities range from volunteering at your nearby forest preserve to traveling to a distant country to participate in a long-term research project.
To find volunteer work, research the various animal protection organizations and decide which would best suit your philosophical position, talents and capabilities.
The WAN Directory is a good starting point for research (particularly if you follow links to the websites of different organizations). You can search the WAN Directory geographically or by activity at www.worldanimal.net.
VOLUNTEER AT AN ANIMAL SANCTUARY
Volunteer to do the dirty work at an animal sanctuary. Usually, by policy, there will not be interaction with the animals, especially if the animals involved are wildlife. But there are always areas to be mucked, mowed, cleaned, repaired, landscaped, constructed, painted and inspected; food to be prepared; items to be washed; files to be organized; data to be entered; mail to be opened, email to be answered and more. Depending on your skills, you can also offer to do a youtube video, write and submit articles for publicity, do plumbing, or complete some electrical wiring. In other words, whatever your skills, a sanctuary can probably use them. Find a sanctuary through Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries and American Sanctuary Association.
MORE WAYS TO HELP
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 Facebook. 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.
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.