Overpopulation is not what's bringing about ecological catastrophe; overconsumption is. Overconsumption is the state where consumption surpasses the planet’s natural replenishing capabilities.
Living and consuming are interconnected activities. You can’t live without consuming. Water, food and air are consumed to support life. But we also consume much more than essentials, including goods and services such as electronics, furniture, appliances, cars, books, entertainment, and travel. There seems to be no end to the list of items and services we can’t live without.
Nowadays, we buy mainly to draw emotional satisfaction rather than meeting our actual needs. Advertising creates virtual problems and triggers negative feelings about them; then, it conveniently presents you with a solution. This cycle results in a deterioration of the quality of life, overworking, and overconsuming, which also damages the environment significantly.
Corporations manipulate consumers. They promise us privileges, connection, and happiness, which makes us keep buying more and more. The message’s effectiveness is so high that, despite being left in debt, overstressed, and buried under tons of possessions, we continue wanting more. But, worse of all, our overconsumption is based on our society’s reliance on it. The modern Western economy relies on us consuming more, so it focuses on fueling our wants and desires, and encourages us to upgrade more, buy more, waste more and pollute more.
Consuming Consequences To The Environment
This unrelenting consumption does not come free of charge. The natural world provides everything we consume, through mining, extraction, farming, and forestry – and there is a limit on the planet’s resources. As we keep consuming more and more, pursuing an elusive “comfortable” life, the planet is overstressed by this over-exploitation of soil, water, minerals, forests, fish, etc. As a result, species, habitats, and even entire ecosystems are collapsing. What’s more, with increased consumption comes more waste and pollution, compromising the quality of life’s very basic elements: air, water and land.
Consumption Consequences For Societies
Wealthier nations consume the biggest share of the Earth’s resources, depriving others of their fair share. 80 percent of the planet’s resources are consumed by a mere 17 percent of the total population. Valuable resources flow from the Earth’s South to the North. We exploit and use these resources to create services and goods for a small percentage of the population, instead of utilizing them to ensure that the rest of the world also has access to the essentials for life, such as water, food, health and sanitation. To satisfy the virtual needs of the rich, valuable resources are used up to produce meaningless items of luxury, further increasing the gap with the poor.
An Ecological Footprint measures the impact of a person or community on the environment, expressed as the amount of land required to sustain their use of natural resources. Natural resources provide the materials for everything we use for our day to day activities and needs. The Eco-Footprint, calculated in acres or hectares, expresses how much bio-productive space a defined population needs to sustain its current levels of life and consumption.
The following resources are factored into the measurement:
Arable Land Required: how much land is needed for growing crops for fiber, food, animal feed, etc.
Forest Resources: the resources required for furniture, fuel, houses, etc., and for ensuring the ecosystems are secured from climate change and erosion.
Ocean Resources: water required for fish and related products.
Pasture Land Required: how much land is needed to raise animals for meat, dairy production, hides, etc.
Energy Costs: the amount of land needed to absorb carbon dioxide emissions and other waste products.
Infrastructure Needed: how much land is required for transportation and creating factories, houses, etc.
Land, water and air pollution, and species extinction, are not yet factored in for the calculation of this Eco-footprint.
The planet has a biocapacity of about 4.7 acres (1.9 hectares) per individual. On a global scale, we currently use 5.4 acres (2.2 hectares) per individual. This means that we have surpassed the Earth’s sustainable biocapacity by 15 percent, a deficit of 1 acre (0.3 hectares) per individual. This deficit is self-evident by the cascading failure of the natural ecosystems –oceans, forests, fisheries, rivers, coral reefs, water, soil, global warming, etc.
It is possible to estimate the Eco-Footprint for a single person, a city, a region, a country, and the whole world. Several countries are in the “red zone”, meaning they have a larger Ecological Footprint than their ecosystems’ biocapacity, putting them into an “ecological deficit.” Conversely, countries that feature a smaller Eco-Footprint than their ecosystems’ biocapacity are in “ecological reserve.”
Cities, states, and nations are put in ecological deficits by abolishing their natural resources, for example, by overfishing, with resource imports from elsewhere and by surpassing their ecosystem’s natural capacity of carbon dioxide absorption.
Overshoot is the phenomenon of the entire planet being put in an ecological deficit. Overshoot and ecological deficit are the same from a global point of view because it is impossible to import new resources to the planet.
Currently, our planet needs 1.5 years to replenish the resources we use in one year. We keep this overshoot by abolishing the planet’s resources. We have not taken seriously how big of a threat overshoot is to humanity’s future, and have not begun to address it properly.
Earth’s Ecological Limits
In contrast to the growing populations, economies and resource demands, Earth’s size doesn’t change. It is only possible to sustain an overshoot for a small window of time, after which ecosystems start degrading and collapse. Ecological overconsumption is becoming increasingly apparent in the form of desertification, deforestation, water shortages, soil erosion, reduced crop production, overgrazing, rapid extinction of species, fish declines, coral reefs collapse, and increased carbon levels in the atmosphere.
Data from the Global Footprint Network reveal that if our current level of demand remains the same, we would need a second Earth by the year 2030. Consuming at this same rate will endanger the future of large portions of the planet’s inhabitants.
It's Time To Move Beyond Recycling
Everyone must work together to reduce consumption — public and private sectors, poor and rich, men, women, and children. The one thing we all have in common is the planet we live on. However, the larger burden of responsibility to shift behaviors lies with the wealthier nations, which have to move beyond just separating metal, glass and plastic to not consuming so much of them in the first place.
More than 30 percent of the total waste in the world is produced in America, by less than 5 percent of the total population of the planet. Since we create most of the problem, we are burdened with a higher responsibility to change our behavioral pattern. If every person on the planet adopted the lifestyle of the average American, we would need five Earths.
We must rethink what consumption is, and do our best to reduce it. The planet is being destroyed by the way societies function right now. It’s not just about recycling anymore; it’s about how to stop feeding the cycle altogether.
Each year thousands of seals are killed in Canada. The seals suffer painful and lingering deaths. The weapon used is a club, the brutal hakapik. Sometimes the seals are skinned alive. Sealers often use sharpened steel hooks to drag the creatures on board their vessels. Seal-clubbing is justified by the Canadian government because its victims are adversely affecting the profits of the Newfoundland fishing industry.
A harp seal can be legally killed as soon as it has begun to moult its white hair, around 2 weeks after birth. Adult seals are also killed. The seal hunt is one of the very few hunts that occurs in the spring when young are being born. As a result, roughly 80% of the seals killed in the commercial hunt are 'young of the year' - between approximately 12 days and 1 year old.
Younger seals (ragged jackets and beaters) are usually killed on the ice with clubs or hakapiks (a device resembling a heavy ice-pick). Later in the season, beaters and older seals are usually shot with a rifle, both on the ice and in the water. It is also legal to use a shotgun firing slugs. It is illegal to deliberately capture seals using nets, although seals are often caught incidentally in nets set for other fisheries.
Six species of seals -- including the harp, hooded, grey, ringed, bearded and harbour -- are found off the Atlantic coast of Canada. Harp and hooded seals are the two most common species hunted commercially.
Although harp seals make up 95% of the commercial hunt, they are not the only seals hunted in Atlantic Canada: there is also a quota for 10,000 hooded seals, and in recent years small numbers of grey seals have been hunted for commercial use. In addition to the commercial hunts, seals of all species are taken for subsistence purposes in Labrador and the Canadian Arctic, and harp and hooded seals may be killed for personal use by residents of sealing regions. The seal hunt quota was introduced in 1971.
The majority of seal pelts are still exported to Norway for processing. The seal pelts are either used for furs or leather. A small amount of seal meat, particularly the flippers, is consumed locally by Newfoundlanders, and some claim it to have an aphrodisiac effect. Seal penises are shipped to Asian markets and can sell for upwards of $500 US each. Penises are often dried and consumed in capsule form or in a tonic.
Seal hunting is inhumane. Groups have campaigned on the issue for years and their evidence shows all the horror of the hunt -- dragging conscious seal pups across the ice with sharpened boat hooks, stockpiling of dead and dying animals, beating and stomping seals, and skinning seals alive. In 2002, an international team of veterinary experts attended the hunt. They observed sealers at work from the air and from the ground, and performed post-mortems on 73 seal carcasses.
Their study concluded that:
79% of the sealers did not check to see if an animal was dead before skinning it.
In 40% of the kills, a sealer had to strike the seal a second time, presumably because it was still conscious after the first blow or shot.
Up to 42% of the seals they examined were likely skinned alive.
Many people remember the worldwide protest that arose in the 1970s over Canada’s killing of whitecoat seal pups (under two weeks old). The massive protest, with international campaigning against the Canadian seal hunt during the 70s & 80s, led to the European Union ban on the importation of whitecoat pelts in 1983, and eventually to the Canadian government banning large-vessel commercial whitecoat hunting in 1987.
Canada's cod fishery collapsed in the early 90s, and some in Canada blamed the seals, despite the fact that the greatest cause was clearly decades of over-fishing by humans. The collapse of fisheries around Newfoundland, due to mismanagement, is a major driver in the expansion of the seal hunt.
Although the Canadian seal hunt is the largest in the world and has the highest profile internationally, sealing is also carried out in a number of other countries across the world including Greenland, Namibia, Russia, Norway and Sweden.
We cause our wild animal neighbors far more trouble than they do us, as each day we invade thousands of acres of their territories and destroy their homes. Here are some ways to live in harmony with them.
AROUND THE HOUSE
Cap your chimney. When birds sit atop chimneys for warmth they can inhale toxic fumes, and if the chimney is uncapped they can fall in and die. Because we have destroyed so many den trees, many raccoons nest in chimneys. If you hear mouse-like squeals from above your fireplace damper, chances are they're coming from baby raccoons. Don't light a fire--you'll burn them alive. Just close the damper securely and do nothing until the babies grow older and the family leaves. When you're absolutely sure everyone's out, have your chimney professionally capped--raccoons can quickly get through amateur cappings. Also, a mother raccoon or squirrel will literally tear apart your roof if you cap one of her young inside your chimney.
If for some reason you must evict a raccoon family before they leave on their own, put a radio tuned to loud talk or rock music in the fireplace and hang a mechanic's trouble light down the chimney. (Animals like their homes dark and quiet.) Leave these in place for a few days, to give mom time to find a new home and move her children. You might also hang a thick rope down the chimney, secured at the top, in case your tenant is not a raccoon and can't climb up the slippery flue. If the animal still cannot get out, call your conservation department for the name of a state-licensed wildlife relocator. Don't entrust animals' lives to anyone else, especially "pest removal services," no matter what they tell you.
You can also use the light-radio-patience technique to evict animals from under the porch or in the attic. (Mothballs may also work in enclosed places like attics, although one family of raccoons painstakingly moved an entire box of mothballs outside, one by one.) Remember, when sealing up an animal's home, nocturnal animals, like opossums, mice, and raccoons, will be outside at night, while others, like squirrels, lizards, and birds, will be outside in the daytime.
If an animal has a nest of young in an unused part of your house and is doing no harm, don't evict them. Wait a few weeks or so, until the young are better able to cope. We owe displaced wildlife all the help we can give them.
Wild bird or bat in your house? If possible, wait until dark, then open a window and put a light outside it. Turn out all house lights. The bird should fly out to the light.
Uncovered window wells, pools, and ponds trap many animals, from salamanders to muskrats to kittens. To help them climb out, lean escape planks of rough lumber (to allow for footholds) from the bottom to the top of each uncovered window well, and place rocks in the shallow ends of ponds and pools to give animals who fall in a way to climb out. Also, a stick in the birdbath gives drowning insects a leg up.
Relocating animals by trapping them with a humane trap is often unsatisfactory; animals may travel far to get back home. Also, you may be separating an animal from loved ones and food and water sources. It is far better and easier to use one of the above methods to encourage animals to relocate themselves.
Bats consume more than 1,000 mosquitoes in an evening, so many people encourage them to settle in their yards by building bat houses. Contrary to myth, bats won't get tangled in your hair, and chances of their being rabid are miniscule. If one comes into your home, turn off all lights and open doors and windows. Bats are very sensitive to air currents. If the bat still doesn't leave, catch him or her very gently in a large jar or net. Always wear gloves if you attempt to handle a bat, and release him or her carefully outdoors. Then find and plug the entrance hole.
Leave moles alone. They are rarely numerous, and they help aerate lawns. They also eat the white grubs that damage grass and flowers.
Gophers can be more numerous, but they, too, do a valuable service by aerating and mixing the soil and should usually be left alone.
Snakes are timid, and most are harmless. They control rodent populations and should be left alone. To keep snakes away from the house, stack wood or junk piles far from it, as snakes prefer this type of cover. Your library can tell you how to identify any poisonous snakes in your area; however, the vast majority are nonpoisonous.
People unintentionally raise snake and rat populations by leaving companion animal food on the ground or keeping bird feeders. It is far better to plant bushes that will give birds a variety of seeds and berries than to keep a bird feeder.
Denying mice and rats access to food in your home will do the most to discourage them from taking up residence there. Do not leave dog and cat food out for long periods of time. Store dry foods such as rice and flour in glass, metal, or ceramic containers rather than paper or plastic bags. Seal small openings in your home.
If you must trap an occasional rodent, use a humane live trap made for this purpose. If the trap is made of plastic, make sure it has air holes and check it often.
Be careful not to spill antifreeze which is highly toxic to animals, who like its sweet taste. Better, shop for Sierra antifreeze, which is non-toxic and biodegradable.
GARBAGE DUMP DANGERS
Many animals die tragically when they push their faces into discarded food containers to lick them clean and get their heads stuck inside. Recycle cans and jars. Rinse out each tin can, put the cover inside so no tongue will get sliced, and crush the open end of the can as flat as possible. Cut open one side of empty cardboard cup-like containers; inverted-pyramid yogurt cups have caused many squirrels' deaths. Also, cut apart all sections of plastic six-pack rings, including the inner diamonds. Choose paper bags at the grocery store, and use only biodegradable or photodegradable food storage bags.
Be sure any garbage cans under trees are covered--baby opossums and others can fall in and not be able to climb out. If animals are tipping over your can, store it in a garage or make a wooden garbage can rack. Garbage can lids with clasps sometimes foil the animals. One homeowner solved the strewn garbage problem by placing a small bag of "goodies" beside his garbage can each night. Satisfied, the midnight raider left the garbage alone.
Dumpsters can be deadly--cats, raccoons, opossums and other animals climb into them and cannot climb out because of the slippery sides. Every dumpster should have a vertical branch in it so animals can escape. (Ask your local park district to put branches in park dumpsters.)
ORPHANED & SICK ANIMALS
Wild youngsters are appealing, but never try to make one your pet. It's unfair; they need to be with others of their kind. If you tame one, when the time comes for release, the animal will not know how to forage for food or be safe in the woods. Tame released animals normally follow the first humans they see, who often think, "Rabies!" and kill them. If you find a youngster who appears orphaned, wait quietly at a distance for a while to be certain the parents are nowhere nearby. If they are not, take the little one to a professional wildlife rehabilitation center for care and eventual release into a protected wild area. An injured bird can be carried easily in a brown paper bag, loosely clothes-pinned at the top.
On very hot days, some animals come out of hiding. Foxes have been known to stretch out on patios. Normally nocturnal adult animals seen in daytime should be observed--if they run from you, chances are they are healthy. If sick, they may be lethargic, walk slowly, or stagger. Distemper is more often the culprit than rabies. (Distemper is not contagious to humans.) Call a wildlife expert.
Get names and telephone numbers of wildlife rehabilitators from your local humane society or park authority; keep them in your home and car at all times in case of an emergency.
CREATE A BACKYARD HABITAT
Don't use pesticides on your yard and leave part of it natural (unmanicured). Dead wood is ecological gold--more than 150 species of birds and animals can live in dead trees and logs and feed off the insects there. The U.S. Forestry Department says saving dead wood is crucial to kicking our pesticide habit. Top off, rather than chop down, dead trees 12 inches or more in diameter. Save fat dead logs. Leave plenty of bushes for wildlife cover. Keep a birdbath filled with water, and a pan for small mammals, and use heating elements in them in the winter.
Your goal is to become a resource on earth and animal issues for the media. You can start by letting them know that you exist and by cultivating contacts. You don’t have to be an expert on every issue, but you should be open to learning about issues when they come up in the news. You want your local media to think of you when anything involving the environment or animals is in the news and to know that they can come to you for a timely comment or information.
If your group is just starting out, you’ll need to develop some identifying literature. Even if you intend to use literature from larger groups, you need to have at least one brochure, fact sheet or flyer that identifies your organization and describes its purpose and goals. You will also need some letterhead stationery. These materials are invaluable when working with reporters, who are always interested in the local angle.
CREATE A MEDIA LIST
Create a media list and organize it into the following categories: Wire services; Local print media; Local radio; Local TV. Record the name and title of each contact person (you may have more than one contact person for each organization), the name of his or her publication or station, and his or her address, telephone number, and e-mail address. For print media, get the names of the news editor (also called the city editor, news director, or assignment editor), the features editor, and the person responsible for the community calendar or bulletin board.
Organize media information according to whether the publication is daily, weekly, monthly or web-based. Find out the publications’ deadlines and make a list of your local TV news programs’ broadcast times. This will help you plan your demonstrations and actions so that they will best fit into the TV stations’ schedules and will prevent you from calling stations about an upcoming event while they are busy preparing to go on the air.
Try to keep profiles of your media contacts, with comments on whether they are sympathetic or hostile to certain issues and whether they have covered earth and animal-related issues in the past. It’s also a good idea to date your notes so that you’ll know when you contacted them last, what you contacted them about, and how they reacted.
Once you’ve created your media list, send a brief letter to each contact explaining the purpose of your group and offering information on issues. Include your group’s identifying fact sheet or brochure. This alone is probably not enough to get the media to contact you (usually you have to become known in the community), but it is a start.
WRITING A NEWS RELEASE
News releases—short announcements about newsworthy events—are sent to newspapers, magazines, and TV and radio stations to interest them in doing stories. Because news directors receive hundreds of releases every day, yours must look professional and present the facts quickly, or it will never be read.
Keep it short; one page is best. Write a concise, catchy headline that summarizes the story. It should be written in the style of a newspaper headline, using active verbs. Use the “inverted pyramid” style to write the release. Put the most important facts in the first paragraph and supporting information in descending order so that the least important information is last. The first paragraph should answer the “five W’s”: who, what, where, when, and why. Underline the text that gives the location, time and date of the event. The final paragraph should describe your group and reinforce your message with a quotation from your spokesperson.
Never editorialize. Use quotations to express opinions. Quotations should be attributed to a specific individual, such as the appointed spokesperson for your upcoming event, not just your group.
Proofread the release carefully for grammar and spelling. Ask someone else to read it and to give an objective opinion. If you have the time, set it aside and look it over again the next morning. Eliminate redundancy, use short words and phrases, and simplify complex ideas. Make it dramatic and attention-getting, but be prepared to substantiate everything that you say. Double-check the facts. It is virtually impossible to correct a release once it has gone out. But if you do make a mistake—especially in the time or location of an event—call those who received the release as soon as possible.
The time you give the media should be the ideal time for them to see your event. If your event starts at 11 am, you may wish to tell the media that it’s a little later so that they don’t arrive to see activists who are still figuring out where to stand or are simply chatting.
Use white, regular-weight, letter-sized (8.5-by-11-inch) paper. Include your group’s name, address, and website (if you have one) in your letterhead. Type “NEWS RELEASE” at the top of the first page. Always refer to releases as “news releases,” not “press releases.” The same goes for “news conference” versus “press conference.” Type the date in the upper-lefthand corner. Type “For Immediate Release” above the date. Be sure to give the contact’s full name. Be certain that the contact is always available at the phone number listed on the release, and include both daytime and evening numbers if necessary.
Center the headline, type it in all capital letters, and place it about 2 inches from the heading above it to provide space for editors’ notes. Directly below the headline, type the subhead. The subhead, which should be centered and underlined, gives a bit more detail about the event but, like the headline, is still short and catchy. Begin the body of the release below the subhead and about a third of the way down the page. Leave wide margins for reporters’ and editors’ notes.
Don’t use zeroes for times (“11 am,” not “11:00″) or letters after numbered dates (“August 22,” not “August 22nd”). Never continue on the back of a page. Instead, end the first page with a complete paragraph and type the word “more” centered at the bottom. At the end of the release, center and type “-30-,” “###,” or “Ends.”
A media kit is a packet of information given to reporters who come to your demonstration, event or news conference. It helps to get your message across and makes you look professional. A media kit can include a news release, a facts heet, photographs, background information on or a history of the issue, copies of relevant documents and background on your organization. Package the kit in a two-pocket folder (found in any office supply store) and put a label on the cover with your group’s name and the words “Media Kit.” If you have a photograph, you can put it on the cover, but it is not essential.
SERVICING A NEWS RELEASE
Before deciding how and when to deliver your release, establish what you want to accomplish. Do you want something printed or broadcast before the event, or do you want the media to attend and cover the event? Generally, it’s better to get coverage of events such as film showings, meetings, and fundraisers before they occur. In such cases, you should send releases at least three weeks in advance to the “community calendar” or “bulletin board” sections of your local paper. If, on the other hand, you’re organizing a picket or demonstration, you’ll want news coverage of the event itself. In this case, fax and/or e-mail your news release one day before the event.
Regardless of what type of event you’re planning, keep in mind that reporters need an interesting angle. When you make a media call or send out a news release, be sure that it is for something newsworthy. Remember, the media don’t like to feel “used” to promote a cause. Reporters want what they’re writing to be legitimate news, not propaganda. If your information or event isn’t newsworthy, don’t contact the media because you’ll only anger them and waste their time.
Use interesting visuals in your demonstrations. Tie your demonstration in with current events, such as an upcoming holiday or a popular current news story. Focus on local aspects. In addition to sending a news release, call the news desk to inform them. Do not read your entire news release to them; just inform them of the event, date, location and times.
When you send a news release to more than one person in an organization, let each person know who else is receiving it. Nothing infuriates an editor more than working on a story and then finding out that someone else at the paper is doing the same story for another section.
After the demonstration, assign volunteers to gather the coverage. At least two people should record television coverage and check the newspapers for stories and photos. These clips can be sent out with your next news release to show that what you’re doing is newsworthy.
If a newspaper covers your event but the news wires (Associated Press, Reuters) don’t, call the wires to let them know that they can pick up the story from the paper. If your event is of national interest, call the national television news desks in New York to let them know that they can pick up footage from the local affiliate.
Reporters work against deadlines. If you call editors or reporters when they are rushing to meet a deadline, you won’t get your story in the news, and you may alienate them as well. The best time to call contacts at a morning paper is between 9:30 and 10 am. As it gets later, the staff will be more pressed for time. Call contacts at an evening paper in the late afternoon when the paper has just gone out.
It is best to call radio or TV reporters as early in the day as possible—between 8 and 9 am—if you’re trying to get on an evening broadcast. Don’t call after 1 or 2 pm for a 5 pm story; the staff is rushing to edit the news that they already have. As a general rule, talk to the media as far before deadlines as possible, then follow up on the day of the event.
Develop and maintain professional relationships with the media in your community by being courteous and responsible. Return calls promptly—remember those deadlines! Be enthusiastic, cooperative, friendly, and truthful. If you make a mistake, admit it promptly. Don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know, but I can find out.” Then do so.
WORKING WITH WIRE SERVICES
Wire services are news-gathering agencies that sell stories to newspapers and radio stations around the country. They should be your first points of contact for delivering a news release or making media calls. If you can interest the wire services, your story will be sent to all the subscribing media in your area or even across the nation. The biggest wire services are the Associated Press (AP) and Reuters. Many of the nation’s largest papers—The Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, The New York Times—also have news services, which means that if you interest them in your story, it may be sent nationwide as well.
Getting a story “on the wire” is a valuable accomplishment. It is worth the great deal of effort that goes into developing good relations with wire service reporters. Many TV, radio and print assignment editors answer calls asking for coverage by saying, “We’ll see what comes in over the wire.”
To find out which wire service bureaus are in your area, look in the telephone book or call your local newspaper office. Any reporter can tell you where the nearest bureau is. If the newspaper is a member of the AP, it also submits stories to the AP.
Send the bureau manager a letter describing your organization, and supply the names, addresses and telephone numbers of your best contact people. Offer to supply information or the local angle on earth and animal issues.
The daybook is a listing of scheduled events for the day. Each evening and morning, AP and United Press International (UPI) send the daybook to their members. Assignment editors use this list to decide how to assign reporters and camera crews. Always send two news releases to the wire services—one for the daybook and one for the assignment editor. Call both the daybook editor and the assignment editor to follow up. To get listed in the daybook, send your news release about a week before the event. If that’s not possible, you may still be able to get listed by calling the information in to the daybook editor.
You might also be able to get a photograph of your event on the wire. If you’ve just had a demonstration, e-mail your pictures along with your news release.
Call your closest radio bureaus. Be prepared to do an interview on the spot if they are interested. They’ll tape it for later use.
WRITING LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
You can get great exposure for earth and animal issues by writing letters to the editors of newspapers or magazines. Make it a point to read local papers and magazines for articles that provide fuel for letters to the editor.
A spokesperson, not necessarily the group leader, should be appointed for each event. Members of your group need to be prepared to answer media questions with a brief sentence and then direct further questions to the spokesperson, who will be prepared with media kits and all the facts. This helps prevent the media from interviewing an inarticulate or unprepared person. Your group must decide ahead of time what the spokesperson should and should not say. The spokesperson should be well dressed. Though you must appoint a spokesperson, everyone at the event should be familiar with the topic because reporters will often want a second comment from others involved.
Never speak “off the record”; everything is on the record. Also, watch out for jokes, which can create misunderstandings. Don’t get bullied into a simple “yes” or “no” answer to a complex question. Give the facts that are necessary to address the issue.
Study the professionals on national interview shows. Develop a few good phrases and examples that will catch a reporter’s ear, and rehearse them. No one becomes an expert overnight. The key is to practice, practice, practice!
State important points clearly and briefly. It’s helpful if you understand what media professionals consider newsworthy. The following are primary characteristics of newsworthy stories:
Timeliness: The media are interested in what’s happening today, not yesterday.
Proximity: The closer the event is to the media’s target audience, the more likely it will be considered news.
Prominence: You may get more media attention by getting well-known people involved.
Conflict: The media love covering opposing factions.
Novelty: If you’re doing something for the first time, the media are more likely to respond; they get tired of the same old thing.
Importance: The more people who will be affected or interested, the more likely you are to receive media coverage of an event.
Your information or event does not have to meet all these criteria, but it should meet most of them.
RADIO & TV TALK SHOW INTERVIEWS
You can reach thousands of people through talk shows. Call in to make comments when earth and animal related subjects are discussed and during “open phone” segments. It’s even better if someone from your group can be a talk show guest.
If your group is expecting a visit from someone with a particular area of expertise, try to get the person on a talk show. Or try to get yourself on one. Contact television and radio stations several weeks in advance. Send a letter to the show’s director describing your credentials or those of your speaker as well as possible discussion topics and reasons why they would interest the audience. As with a news release, be sure to provide your telephone number. Prepare a list of people whom your speaker would feel comfortable debating in case the show wants to present both sides.
Once you are booked on a show, listen to it or watch it so that you’ll know what style and format to expect. To prepare, do the following:
Study the issue.
Practice being interviewed. Tape yourself with a recorder or video camera.
Anticipate difficult questions and plan your answers.
Memorize good quotations, anecdotes and facts.
Have a friend ask you hard questions in a hostile, aggressive way so that you can be prepared for a difficult interview.
Decide on the five main points that you want to make during the show. Memorize a fact or an example for each one.
Try to make your five points, even if the interviewer doesn’t ask the “right” questions. Don’t feel limited by the questions. You can answer them and still talk about your points. Practice saying, “The real question here is …” or, “That relates to a larger issue, which is ….”
If you’re doing a TV show, be careful about how you dress. Wear plain, solid colors rather than patterns, but avoid solid black, white and red. Green and blue film especially well. Smile, and don’t fidget or touch your face or hair.
Try to make your point in eight seconds or less. TV news shows look for “sound bites”—statements that can be plugged into a 60-second story. If you take 45 or 60 seconds to make your point, your spot won’t be aired, so use short sentences.
Speak slowly and carefully (but not too slowly!), and think before answering the question.
Don’t say anything that you wouldn’t want edited out and aired separately. The reporter may interview you for five minutes but air only eight seconds of it. Don’t worry about repeating yourself: It just increases the chances that what you want to be heard actually will be.
If the reporter is hostile, don’t get flustered, raise your voice or get shrill. Stay calm and concentrate on making your five points. Remember, the reporter is not your real audience.
Talk directly to the interviewer, not to the audience or camera. If you steal side glances at the camera, you’ll look nervous or shifty.
Holding a news conference is a good way to fall flat on your face … unless you have a really important story. Hold a news conference only when the following criteria are met:
The media can get more from it than they could from photographs and news releases.
You have important or newsworthy people available to present your story.
Experts will be available to answer questions.
The story involves something that has to be seen to be understood.
The media are inundating you with telephone calls, and rumors must be dispelled.
Use the following format when holding a news conference:
Hold the news conference in a location that is convenient for media professionals, such as in a downtown hotel, and provide light refreshments. The best time to have a news conference is 10 or 11 am.
Start promptly with a concise statement from your spokesperson.
Have media kits ready and explain the material to the media.
Call on the expert to read a short statement.
End the news conference on time. It should not last more than 30 or 40 minutes. Reporters will ask further questions if they wish to do so.
If possible, issue invitations one to two weeks ahead of time by sending a “media alert.” Explain the details of the news conference and what will be addressed. If you are holding the news conference right away, alert the media by telephone. Call the wire services to get it on the daybook.
Be careful to allow only media professionals, not members of the general public, to enter the room. Assign someone to check media IDs at the door. Courteously refuse entry to all others. Hand media kits and news releases out as soon as reporters arrive. If a major statement is being made, you may want to issue the news release after the statement. After the news conference, follow up with media inquiries as quickly as possible. Make every effort to accommodate requests for personal interviews. Deliver news releases and media kits to media professionals who were invited but did not attend. Tell radio stations that your spokesperson is available for telephone interviews.
Along with the bald eagle, the bison perhaps best symbolizes the spirit of American wilderness. While many people are aware that both animals teetered on the brink of extinction in the past due to human encroachment, few realize that wild bison continue to be the victims of a calculated, annual slaughter in the Greater Yellowstone Area.
During the mid to late 1800s, government agents orchestrated one of the most aggressive and wanton animal massacres in history, killing bison indiscriminately in an attempt to subjugate Native Americans. With the addition of market hunters and settlers killing bison for profit and for fun, America's wild bison herds were reduced from an estimated 60 million to perhaps as few as 100.
With the establishment of Yellowstone National Park in 1872 and the National Park Service in 1916, the 25 bison remaining in the Park finally were afforded some protection. Initially, management policies allowed for the active manipulation of populations by culling what was perceived as "surplus" animals. But eventually, the management strategy evolved to an approach which permitted natural regulation to occur, for the most part letting nature take its course rather than relying on human intervention.
This was good news for the bison, but sadly their fortune was short lived. Since the mid 1980s, more than 3,000 bison have been massacred under the supervision of government officials bowing to the pressures of the livestock industry and its cohorts.
WHY ARE BISON BEING KILLED?
In 1917, officials discovered that some Yellowstone bison were infected with Brucella abortus, the bacteria which causes the disease brucellosis in domestic cattle. In cattle, the disease produces spontaneous abortions, but bison do not appear to be similarly affected. In fact, over the past 80 years in the entire Greater Yellowstone Area, there have been only four documented bison abortions, which may or may not have been caused by the bacteria.
Over the past decade, bison have been emigrating from the Park over its northern and western boundaries into the state of Montana during winter months. Because of several mild winters, and the National Park Service's continued grooming of snowmobile trails which makes it easier for bison to exit the Park, more and more bison have been stepping hoof over Park boundaries.
The livestock industry and federal and state livestock agencies contend that bison can transmit the Brucella abortus bacteria to cattle under natural conditions. In reality, there has never been a documented case of this occurring. Despite this fact, they continue to wage a war against Yellowstone bison.
HOW THE BACTERIA IS TRANSMITTED
The primary route of transmission is direct contact of susceptible animals with infected reproductive products, such as fetuses and afterbirth, or with contaminated feed. Given that bison abortions are extremely rare, the risk is remote at best. Bull bison and calves pose virtually no threat of transmitting the bacteria -- because males and juveniles obviously do not give birth or have abortions -- yet shockingly hundreds have been killed. Of the blood and tissue samples taken from 218 of the bison slaughtered during the winter of 1991-92, not a single bison was infectious at the time of death.
In the event a bison abortion were to occur, the bacteria is sensitive to sunlight and heat, and in all likelihood, would die quickly outside the body, although it is possible for it to remain viable for longer periods of time if frozen. Nevertheless, in nature, aborted fetuses are consumed either by the bison themselves or by scavengers almost immediately. In addition, abortions probably would happen during January through June, a period of time which cattle are not permitted on public lands and do not come into contact with wild bison.
CATTLE PERMITTED ON PUBLIC LANDS
The U.S. Forest Service issues grazing permits on lands adjoining Yellowstone National Park, generally for the months of June through October. Cattle grazing is even allowed in Grand Teton National Park. The interests of wildlife, and not cattle, should take precedence on public lands. The grazing allotments should be either closed or modified to minimize any contact between bison and cattle. Also, mandatory vaccination of domestic calves against brucellosis within the counties surrounding the Park could further reduce the risk, if any risk exits at all, of infection. Currently, vaccinations are not mandatory in Montana or Wyoming.
AGENCIES RESPONSIBLE FOR BISON BEING KILLED
With increased bison migrations into Montana, the Montana Legislature listed bison as a game animal in 1985, giving the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks authority to initiate a public hunt. During the winter of 1988-89, sport hunters shot 570 bison at point-blank range. Due to national media coverage, this cruel fiasco generated outrage across the country. Shortly thereafter, the Legislature decided to no longer issue bison permits to sport hunters, although state officials retained the right to implement lethal control.
Today, control has been vested in the Montana Department of Livestock, an agency which views bison as nothing more than brucellosis-infected pests who must be controlled to maintain Montana's brucellosis-free status. With the cooperative services of Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks and National Park Service officials, government officials continue to gun down hundreds of bison each year. During the winter of 1996-97 alone, nearly 1,100 bison were killed.
Much of the hysteria derives from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), the agency responsible for brucellosis eradication in domestic livestock. APHIS, without legal authority, has threatened to revoke the brucellosis-free status of both Montana and Wyoming if measures aren't taken to eliminate Brucella abortus in the Greater Yellowstone Area. Brucellosis-free status permits cattle producers to market their cattle without being subject to disease testing requirements. Recently, Wyoming capitulated to these threats by establishing a bison sport hunt outside the eastern boundaries of Yellowstone National Park where a small number of bison occasionally exit.
The APHIS brucellosis eradication program launched in the 1930s was intended to apply only to domestic livestock, but it appears that APHIS and other industry interests will not be satisfied until the Brucella abortus organism is eliminated in all domestic animals and wildlife.
OTHER WILD ANIMALS POSE A RISK
In addition to bison, elk can also be infected with the bacteria and can carry the disease. With more than 90,000 elk in the Greater Yellowstone Area, the likelihood of eliminating the bacteria using available technologies is virtually nonexistent. Moreover, if all infected bison were destroyed, exposure to elk would result in reinfection in the remainder.
This is particularly a problem in Wyoming where over 23,000 elk congregate on artificial feedgrounds, creating prime conditions for bacteria transmission. In fact, bison from Grand Teton National Park, just south of Yellowstone, have discovered the "free meals" being provided on the National Elk Refuge each winter in the Jackson Hole area. It is speculated that this herd of bison contracted the bacteria from elk on the feedground.
State officials rarely admit that elk may also carry the disease. Elk, of course, are a prime money maker for Montana and Wyoming state officials, who encourage propagation of elk herds so they can profit from the sale of sport hunting licenses.
Ironically, bison are being targeted allegedly to protect the livestock industry, but the general consensus among scientists is that cattle probably introduced the bacteria into the Yellowstone bison herd shortly before 1917. Victims then and victims now.
Despite ever shrinking green space, the animals that share the Earth with us are trying to survive. Our homes, offices and shopping centers were developed on what was once forest and fields. Chipmunks, squirrels, rabbits, possums, skunks, raccoons, ground hogs and deer are not the invaders. We are. Please remember this when these displaced animals forage for food on your property or try to find places to bear and rear their young.
With education and raised awareness, more and more people are choosing the enlightened and compassionate way to protect their homes and gardens from unwanted animal visitors. There are many humane alternatives to killing. Simple commonsense and prevention are the best forms of animal control.
Raccoons and possum are attracted by garbage. Keep all leftover food inside until the night before trash pick-up. Seal organic garbage in plastic bags (a good way to reuse sandwich or storage bags) and refrigerate or, better yet, freeze it. The less your garbage smells, the less likely it will attract an animal. Use trashcans, with locking lids, where allowed. Otherwise, use heavy-duty, tightly tied trash bags.
With so few places left to burrow or nest, raccoons, possums, skunks and ground hogs will look for safe haven wherever they can find it. They will seek out the weak spots around your home. Neglect invites these animals. A well maintained home does not.
Install lattice under porches and decks to block animals from nesting. Another option is stainless steel screening that can be sunk into the ground around the inhabited area. A one-way gate is installed that allows the animal to leave, but will not allow it to return. Only install this form of prevention when there are no babies in the nest.
Keep your garage or shed door tightly closed and repair broken boards at the bottom of cracks in the foundation.
Seal all openings under the roofline and cap your chimney. Do not do this if an animal has already entered. Wait until the animal has left to look for food. And be certain that there are no babies left behind. Do not use mothballs or ammonia to flush the animal out. You will kill the babies. A radio tuned to a talk show will sometimes disturb the mother enough to cause her to move out with her babies.
Your garden, whether it is a flower garden or you grow vegetables, will tempt any animal that forages for vegetation. There are a variety of repellants commercially available that claim to keep animals away. These range in cost and effectiveness. And there are recipes for homemade, foul smelling deterrents all over the Internet. The same commercial products used to repel cats and dogs often deter raccoons.
Another option is a mechanical device. Motion-activated sprinklers can be purchased that shoot a stream of water at an intruder, like a remote squirt gun. Loud or annoying sounds can also be set to go off like a security alarm, whenever movement is detected.
Polypropylene netting is sold to cover plants and keep deer and rabbits from eating them, but this netting can put other wildlife at risk. Small birds, toads and other animals could become trapped in the mesh. The netting is also very difficult to work with and expensive in large quantities.
By far the most effective “critter control” is fencing. A low voltage, electrified fence can be effective for all animals, but this option can be expensive. Chicken wire has served the purpose for years. A picket fence may be charming, but deer can jump those of average height. Decorative metal fencing looks good and should keep out all but the most intrepid deer. A low-tech method is simply a nylon string, stretched across your garden perimeter, chest-high. A deer will back off when it feels the tension.
Deer can be the most destructive of all the animals that come into your garden to forage. In addition to the measures above, you could simply plant as many deer resistant plants as possible. The following is a list of plants that deer will “rarely” damage or “seldom severely” damage. Ask your nursery expert or search online. You can find photos of beautiful plants that won’t tempt the creatures in your garden.
In 1971, more letters poured into Congress over the threat to our nation’s wild horses than over any issue in U.S. history, except for the Vietnam War. And so Congress unanimously passed the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act, declaring that “wild horses and burros are living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West; that they contribute to the diversity of life forms within the Nation and enrich the lives of the American people; and that these horses and burros are fast disappearing from the American scene.” The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) were appointed to implement the Act. Most herd areas are under BLM jurisdiction.
Fast-forward thirty years: in 2001, after decades of failed herd management policies, the BLM obtained a 50% increase in annual budget to $29 million for implementation of an aggressive removal campaign; in 2004, the 1971 Act was surreptitiously amended, without so much as a hearing or opportunity for public review, opening the door to the sale of thousands of wild horses to slaughter for human consumption abroad.
Injuries, abortions, trauma and death are the common results of wild horse round-ups (or “gathers,” to use a placating euphemism). Horses seen galloping during a round-up are terrified wild animals chased by helicopter and running for their lives. It has been documented that, long after they have been adopted out, BLM-captured horses will still react in terror to a helicopter flying overhead.
As wild horses are driven into holding pens, closely-knit family bands are broken up; foals may be separated from their mothers, trampled, or sometimes, too exhausted to keep up with the herd, left behind to fend for themselves out on the range; stallions, suddenly crammed in close quarters, will fight. At the holding site, BLM makes “liberal” use of its euthanasia policy: horses with physical defects such as club-feet are euthanized, including adults that had managed to thrive for years in the wild.
ABUSE, NEGLECT & SECRECY
BLM routinely turns a blind eye on abuse by its two main round-up contractors. To quote an eye-witness to the 2006 Sulphur round-up in Utah: “In all my life I have never seen such blatant abuse and neglect and just plain lack of compassion for horses, or animals in general for that matter.” It is not uncommon for contractors to drag a listless body into the round-up pen to collect their fee, as they get paid per horse, dead or alive.
Round-ups are often conducted in secrecy, with heavy police presence to keep the public at bay. Once in a while, BLM and its contractors will invite the public and the media to a carefully staged capture, where a few horses are trotted into a pen. Members of the public are positioned at the holding pens, usually during the first few days of a round-up, so they are generally witnessing the horses coming in from areas closest to the round-up site. As days go by, the further out the wranglers go, the more challenging for the horses who are run in large numbers over much longer distances.
THE REAL REASON
The current situation is the result of a long history of failed policies, land allocation issues, and an intricate money trail. The BLM and the USFS, among others, are responsible for managing the nation’s public lands and are foremost the managers of wild horses and burros. Their responsibilities also include issuing public land grazing permits to cattle ranchers. These grazing permits cover limited areas of public land that are available for lease. So, for every wild horse removed from a grazing permit allotment, a fee-paying cow gets to take its place, and a public land rancher gets the benefit of public land forage at bargain rates. This is the number one reason wild horses are removed from public lands.
PLAYING WITH NUMBERS
The 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act mandated that wild horses be managed at their then-current population level, officially estimated by the BLM at 17,000 (three years later, BLM’s first census found over 42,000 horses). To the horses' detriment, both sides agreed to allow the government to manage wild horse populations at that “official” 1971 level. Eleven years later, a study by the National Academy of Sciences found BLM’s 1971 estimate to have been “undoubtedly low to an unknown, but perhaps substantial, degree,” given subsequent census results and taking into account the horses' growth rate and the number of horses since removed. But the damage had already been done; management levels had been etched in stone, and processes for removal of "excess" horses were well in place.
The fact is that the 1982 National Academy of Sciences report and two General Accounting Office reports have countered key points in BLM's premise for its current herd reduction campaign. These government-sanctioned documents concluded that: (i) horses reproduce at a much slower rate than BLM asserts, (ii) wild horse forage use remains a small fraction of cattle forage use on public ranges, (iii) “despite congressional direction, BLM did not base its removal of wild horses from federal rangeland on how many horses ranges could support,” and (iv) “BLM was making its removal decisions on the basis of an interest in reaching perceived historic population levels, or the recommendations of advisor groups largely composed of livestock permittees.”
From over 2 million in the 1800s, America’s wild horse population has dwindled to fewer than 33,000. There are now more wild horses in government holding pens than remain in the wild, with many of the remaining herds managed at population levels that do not guarantee their long-term survival. Still, the round-ups continue.
Over the past forty years, federal law enacted by the people on behalf of their wild horses has been ignored. No strategic plan to keep viable herds of wild horses on public lands was ever developed.
Recycling is the process of collecting and processing materials that would otherwise be thrown away as trash and turning them into new products. Recycling can benefit your community and the environment.
Benefits of Recycling
- Reduces the amount of waste sent to landfills and incinerators
- Conserves natural resources such as timber, water, and minerals
- Prevents pollution by reducing the need to collect new raw materials
- Saves energy
- Reduces greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global climate change
- Helps sustain the environment for future generations
- Helps create new well-paying jobs in the recycling and manufacturing industries.
Steps to Recycling Materials
Recycling includes the three steps below, which create a continuous loop, represented by the familiar recycling symbol.
Step 1: Collection and Processing
There are several methods for collecting recyclables, including curbside collection, drop-off centers, and deposit or refund programs. After collection, recyclables are sent to a recovery facility to be sorted, cleaned and processed into materials that can be used in manufacturing. Recyclables are bought and sold just like raw materials would be, and prices go up and down depending on supply and demand.
Step 2: Manufacturing
More and more of today's products are being manufactured with recycled content. Common household items that contain recycled materials include the following:
- Newspapers and paper towels
- Aluminum, plastic, and glass soft drink containers
- Steel cans
- Plastic laundry detergent bottles
Recycled materials are also used in new ways such as recovered glass in asphalt to pave roads or recovered plastic in carpeting and park benches.
Step 3: Purchasing New Products Made from Recycled Materials
You help close the recycling loop by buying new products made from recycled materials. There are thousands of products that contain recycled content. When you go shopping, look for the following:
- Products that can be easily recycled
- Products that contain recycled content
Below are some of the terms used:
Recycled-content product - The product was manufactured with recycled materials either collected from a recycling program or from waste recovered during the normal manufacturing process. The label will sometimes include how much of the content was from recycled materials.
Post-consumer content - Very similar to recycled content, but the material comes only from recyclables collected from consumers or businesses through a recycling program.
Recyclable product - Products that can be collected, processed and manufactured into new products after they have been used. These products do not necessarily contain recycled materials. Remember not all kinds of recyclables may be collected in your community, so be sure to check with your local recycling program before you buy.
Some of the common products you can find that can be made with recycled content include the following:
You can make a big difference for ocean conservation and species preservation. There are many easy lifestyle changes that can aid in the effort of saving our oceans and the animals that inhabit them.
Give Power To Your Vote
Sound ocean policy depends on the election of proper public officials. Do your homework and decide wisely before casting your vote. Don’t forfeit your right to vote; on the contrary, remain politically active even after Election Day. Contact your representative and voice your questions and concerns. Be active.
Collect Litter And Garbage Near Beaches
A large percentage of the plastic garbage polluting the oceans begins as litter on a beach. Enjoy your day at the beach without engaging in activities that will destroy our oceans. Properly dispose of your trash, pickup litter that other people carelessly left behind, and participate in beach clean-up initiatives.
Consume Less Energy
Carbon dioxide emitted from fossil fuel burning contributes to the acidification of our oceans. A grave danger from this phenomenon is the demise of coral reefs worldwide because the water’s lower pH dissolves their calcium framework. There are several easy ways in which you can decrease your energy consumption. Use public transportation, ride a bicycle, or even walk. Purchase home appliances that are highly efficient. Turn off devices that you aren’t using. Adjust your home temperature a bit higher during summertime, and a bit lower in wintertime. Opt for eco-friendly light bulbs in your home.
Use Reusable Plastic Products
Marine habitats are compromised by the presence of plastic remnants in the ocean, which are also to blame for the direct deaths of many marine creatures. Various creatures of the sea such as sea turtles, birds, and marine mammals mistakenly take floating plastic objects for food, leading to their death due to choking or starvation from blocked digestive systems. You can help cut down that unnecessary loss of life by using reusable water bottles and grocery bags made from cloth.
Global fisheries are very close to the point of collapse. According to FAO, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, 75 percent of fisheries worldwide are now fully or over-exploited, or severely depleted. Animals are on the edge of extinction due to corporate greed and over-consumption. Don't participate in their destruction.
Properly Dispose Of Hazardous Materials
Many harmful and toxic materials, such as motor oil, end up in aquatic ecosystems because people don’t follow sound disposal practices. The result is water pollution and further degradation of oceanic health. It is important to follow environmentally friendly practices when disposing of hazardous materials.
Minimize The Use Of Fertilizers
The use of fertilizers in agriculture and gardening usually results in excess material reaching the ocean. This can cause “dead zones”, which are areas depleted of oxygen in the water. Because all aquatic life depends on oxygen to live, fish and shrimp included, they can only abandon the area to survive. So, minimize your use of fertilizer, or eliminate it altogether.
Buy Products That Are Ocean-Friendly
Don’t use products that have been made using unsustainable methods that harm the oceans. Such products include cosmetics that contain shark-derived squalene, or jewelry made with sea-life parts such as corals or sea-turtle shells. These products are destructive and eliminate whole ecosystems.
Inform people of the situation of the oceans of the world and the need for action. Share the message and actively participate in conversation.
The single most effective way of helping the oceans is to adopt a vegan diet. Animal farming is the number one cause of water consumption and pollution. It has a higher greenhouse effect on the atmosphere than fossil fuel consumption. The farming industry is the principle cause of dead zones in the oceans. Overexploitation of fisheries leads to the extinction of entire species. Unsustainable fishing methods destroy marine habitats and ecosystems. By opting to consume exclusively plant-based food, you aid in the rescue of our oceans, while easing animal suffering at the same time.
While there are many lifestyle changes you can make to help the environment, no other lifestyle decision can compare with the positive environmental impacts of veganism.
Veganism is a compassionate lifestyle of daily decisions that reject the exploitation and harm of animals. Vegans do not consume food that is derived from animal sources, do not purchase products made from animal sources, do not use services in which animals are harmed, and do not involve themselves in activities that cause intentional harm or exploitation of living beings. Vegans attempt, as much as possible, to live their lives free from all forms of animal exploitation. It is a humane, responsible and healthy choice.
And not only does veganism help animals, it helps the planet – in a big way. Becoming a vegan is the single, most effective action you can take to help the environment. Adopting a compassionate lifestyle can have a profound impact not only on you and your family, but also on the planet. Our fragile environment benefits immensely by your vegan choices.
Animal agriculture is the leading cause of deforestation, water consumption and pollution. It is responsible for more greenhouse gases than the transportation industry. Factory farms are a primary driver of topsoil erosion, rainforest destruction, species extinction, habitat loss and ocean dead zones. Raising animals for food requires massive amounts of land, food, energy, and water and causes immense animal suffering.
It takes 12 times as much land, 13 times more fuel and 15 times more water to make a pound of animal protein than to make a pound of plant protein. Adopting a vegan diet saves 20 pounds of CO2 equivalent, 45 pounds of grain, 1,100 gallons of water, 30 square feet of forest land, and one animal every day!
ENVIRONMENTAL BENEFITS OF VEGANISM
Vegans save more than farm animals. Animal agriculture is the leading cause of species extinction, habitat destruction and wildlife culling. Each year the USDA kills millions of wild animals.
Vegans help save aquatic animals and ecosystems. Commercial fishing methods often clear the ocean floor of all life and destroy coral reefs. Thousands of dolphins, sea turtles, sharks, and other “bycatch” animals are killed each year. Fish farms release antibiotics, feces, parasites, and non-native fish into aquatic ecosystems, and farmed fish are often fed massive amounts of wild-caught fish.
Vegans reduce the adverse impact of climate change. Animal agriculture is responsible for more greenhouse gases than the entire transportation industry combined. A staggering 51 percent or more of global greenhouse-gas emissions are caused by animal agriculture. Methane (CH4) emissions have over 20 times the global warming potential of CO2.
Vegans reduce the destruction of forests. Animal agriculture is the leading cause of deforestation. Up to 91% of Amazon Rainforest destruction is caused by animal agriculture. One of the main crops grown in the rainforest is soybeans used specifically for animal feed. Plant-based diets require 20 times less land than animal-based diets.
Vegans reduce pollution caused by animal breeding, animal processing and food processing. Deforestation for animal grazing and feed crops is estimated to emit 2.4 billion tons of CO2 each year. Burning fossil fuels to produce fertilizers for animal agriculture may emit 41 million metric tons of CO2 each year. Animal agriculture contributes to air pollution by releasing compounds such as hydrogen sulfide, methane and ammonia.
Agriculture animals produce many times more excrement than does human population – a staggering 500 million tons of manure each year in the US alone. There are no animal sewage processing plants; most of the sewage is stored in waste “lagoons” or sprayed into the air.
To prevent disease in crowded, filthy conditions and to promote faster growth, farm animals are fed numerous antibiotics. Around 75 percent of these antibiotics end up undigested. These antibiotics can contaminate crops and waterways through urine and manure, and can ultimately be ingested by humans.
Vegans save and protect precious water resources. Animal agriculture is the leading cause of all fresh water pollution, the leading cause of ocean dead zones, and the leading cause of Great Barrier Reef die-off. Bacteria and viruses can be carried by runoff and contaminate groundwater. Runoff is one of the leading causes of pollution in rivers and lakes.
Animal agriculture is responsible for 55% of US water consumption. It takes 683 gallons of water to produce just 1 gallon of milk, and more than 2,400 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of beef. 1 pound of tofu requires only 244 gallons of water to produce. Every vegan saves approximately 219,000 gallons of water every year.
Veganism feeds more people and could end world hunger. Animal agriculture contributes to world hunger. Livestock consumes up to 50% of all grains produced each year. 45% of the earth's entire ice free land is used for animal agriculture.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF VEGANISM
While going vegan helps us help nature, nature rewards our efforts with a bounty of health benefits. You can reduce the risk of many diseases by modifying your diet habits and becoming a vegan.
A plant based diet reduces the risk of cancer as carcinogens and other harmful chemicals are used in growing, processing and storing animal based food products.
Vegans have less risk of heart disease and high blood pressure as most plant foods do not add bad cholesterol to your body and clog your blood vessels. Animal foods saturated with excessively high amounts of fat and other enzymes have an adverse impact on the natural body processes.
Veganism can help prevent the onset of diabetes as most plant based foods tone up the glucose handling mechanism of your body, adding strength and boosting the natural metabolic process without the harmful enzymes and secretions you normally get with animal based foods.
Vegans have less chance of getting rheumatoid arthritis as plant based foods do not create toxins in your body during their natural metabolism.
A vegan lifestyle helps animals, the environment and you. By opting for plant based foods and products, you are choosing compassion, health and responsible living. And choosing to go vegan really could save the world.
The hippopotamus outweighs all the many fresh water semi-aquatic mammals that inhabit our rivers, lakes and streams. After elephants and the white rhinoceros, the hippopotamus is the third largest land mammal on Earth. Its hide alone can weigh half a ton.
The ancient Egyptians both feared and revered the hippopotamus. The word hippopotamus comes from the Greek for "river horse" and the hippo, once indigenous to Egypt, flourished there, grazing along the fertile banks of the Nile River and swimming in its muddy waters. Hippos may seem slow and lumbering, but they can be ferocious, deadly killers. These prolific animals multiplied until the river was thick with them. They destroyed crops, up ended fishing boats and killed the men as they fell into the river. The ancient kings found sport in great hippopotamus hunts that would thin out the herds. Hunts became bloody battles between man and beast. The hippo is no longer found in Egypt. They were wiped out of that country in modern times because of the crop damage they caused, but the hippo still thrives in other parts of Africa.
Hippopotamus are of the Order Artiodactyla: Even-toed ungulates. On land, the enormous weight of a hippo is distributed evenly and is adequately supported by the four webbed toes on each of its feet. These animals are grayish in color with thick skin that is virtually hairless. The hippo has no sweat or sebaceous glands and must rely on the water to keep cool. A hippo’s hide has the unusual property of secreting a viscous red fluid that protects it from the sun. This specialized excretion may also be a healing agent.
Female hippopotamus bear a single young and will give birth either on land or in shallow water. The mother helps the newborn to the surface of the water. In time, she will teach her baby to swim. Newborns can be seen in the river, resting on their mothers' backs. At birth, a baby hippo will weigh from 55 to 120 pounds. The mother must protect it from crocodiles in the water and lions on land. She must also ward off male hippos. Males do not bother baby hippos when on land, but they will attack them in the water.
Adult hippos can stay under water for up to six minutes. A young hippo can only stay submerged for about half a minute. In order to suckle under water, the baby must take a deep breath, close its nostrils and ears and then wrap its tongue tightly around the teat to suck. This instinctive behavior is the same when the baby suckles on land. Baby hippos start to eat grass at 3 weeks, but will continue to nurse until they are about one year old.
Hippos are usually found in groups of just over a dozen, presided over by a territorial bull. They have flexible social systems defined by food and water conditions and hierarchy. Periods of drought will force them to congregate in large numbers around a limited water supply. This overcrowding disrupts the system and under these conditions, there will be higher levels of aggression. Fights for dominance will be brutal with loud and frequent vocalization. Hippos can bear the scars of old, deep wounds sustained in such battles. A hippo establishes status and marks territory by spreading its excrement with its flat, paddle-like tail.
Hippos move surprisingly well, climbing adeptly up steep riverbanks to grazing areas. They spend the heat of the day in the water, leaving it to graze at night. Apparently creatures of habit, they enter and exit the water at the same spot. They will graze four to five hours, usually covering one or two miles. The amount of grass consumed is relatively modest for animals their size. A hippo’s appetite is in proportion to its sedentary life.
Despite the fact that ditches and low fences can easily deter them from encroaching on cultivated areas, hippopotamus are slaughtered by the hundreds each year. These "controlled management" schemes are put forth less for crop protection than for the meat they yield. The fat and ivory tusks of the hippo are also of value to humans, as is the hippo’s grazing land. The hippos’ range was once from the Nile delta to the Cape, but the mighty river horse is now mostly confined to protected areas.
Most of us will never see a hippopotamus. But as we know more about them, we may learn to value them and their place in the larger ecosystem we all share.
Captive hunting operations—also referred to as "shooting preserves," "canned hunts," or "game ranches"—are private trophy hunting facilities that offer their customers the opportunity to kill exotic and native animals trapped within enclosures. Some facilities have even allowed their clients to kill animals remotely via the Internet.
The animals killed in captive hunts may come from private breeders, animal dealers, circuses or even zoos. These animals are frequently hand-raised and bottle-fed, so they have lost their natural fear of people. In many facilities, the animals expect to be fed at regular times by familiar people—a setup that guarantees a kill for trophy hunters.
Endangered species are even available at captive hunts. Several species of threatened and endangered animals are regularly advertised at captive hunting ranches. For example, the International Union for the Conservations of Nature and Natural Resources lists the scimitar-horned oryx and Pere David's deer as extinct in the wild; the Dama gazelle and the addax as critically endangered; the Arabian oryx and markhor as endangered; the blackbuck and bongo as near threatened; and the Nubian ibex, aoudad, barasingha, mouflon, yak and European bison as vulnerable.
Although the Endangered Species Act (ESA) protects animals listed as endangered or threatened, captive hunt enthusiasts exploit loopholes in federal law that allow captive-bred wildlife to be killed if permitted by state law. This creates a market for endangered species’ trophies, and can encourage illegal poaching of the animals in their native habitat. Issuing permits to shoot endangered species on these ranches contradicts the basic purposes of the ESA, which is to conserve endangered and threatened wildlife – not kill them.
Semi-tame animals make easy targets, so captive hunt operators can offer their customers a guarantee of "no kill, no pay." The animals are guaranteed something as well—that there will be no escape.
Due to the high population densities on captive hunts, risk of disease transmission increases, posing a threat to animals inside and outside the fences. And it is doubtful that those involved in the captive hunting business provide acceptable veterinary care for their animals. Diseases such as tuberculosis and brucellosis—which can also infect farm animals and other wildlife—have been diagnosed in captive wildlife. Michigan battled an outbreak of tuberculosis among deer a few years ago due to baiting, which encourages animals to congregate in small areas. Chronic wasting disease, a fatal disease that infects deer, elk, and moose, is another serious concern. CWD has been reported in 19 states; in 11 of these states CWD was present in captive wildlife populations. In 2011, new cases of CWD have been reported in South Dakota, Illinois, West Virginia, Minnesota, Maryland, Nebraska, and Kansas.
Although there must legally be fencing around captive hunts, animals often can and sometimes do escape from these facilities. Since 2007, there have been 48 instances of elk escaping from captive facilities in Iowa alone. In Wisconsin, captive facilities reported 437 escapes from 2004 to 2007. The interstate transport of animals for breeding purposes increases the possibility of spreading these diseases even further. Once present, CWD becomes increasingly difficult to control, and attempts to halt the disease can cost taxpayers millions of dollars. Through escaped animals, fence-line transmission, or environmental contamination, game farms and captive hunting ranches are putting our wild herds at grave risk.
Captive hunting is a lucrative and expanding industry. It is estimated that more than 1,000 captive mammal hunting operations are operating in at least two dozen states. Several factors feed into that expansion: The overbreeding of captive exotic animals, the desire by some hunters with plenty of cash for a quick and easy kill, and the incentive to bag exotic mammals provided by Safari Club International's "Introduced Trophy Game Animals of North America" trophy hunting achievement award.
Do all hunters support captive hunting? No. As hunter and noted author Ted Kerasote puts it, "'Canned hunting' is a misnomer. More accurately defined as 'shooting animals in small enclosures,' the activity has nothing to do with the motives that inform authentic hunting: procuring healthy, organic food; participating in the timeless cycles of birth, death, and nurturing; honoring the lives that support us; and reconnecting with wildness. No matter where one stands on hunting—vehemently opposed to it or seeing it as yet another way to live sustainably on earth—one ought to decry shooting animals behind fences."
"Fair chase"—a concept central to the philosophy of many in the hunting community—doesn't exist in captive hunts. The self-described ethical hunting community (including groups like Boone & Crockett, Pope & Young, and the Izaak Walton League) is becoming increasingly vocal in its opposition to canned hunting.
As reviled as captive hunting is by non-hunters and hunters alike, no federal law bans the practice, and only about half of the states have policies that ban or restrict canned hunts. The regulations implementing the federal Animal Welfare Act do not apply to game preserves, hunting preserves, and captive hunts. Although the Endangered Species Act protects animals listed as endangered or threatened, the Fish and Wildlife Service does not prohibit private ownership of these animals and even allows captive hunting of endangered species.
All the garbage you throw away is destined to end up in a landfill. What’s more, most of the items constituting your garbage (metal, plastic, paper, and everything else) was probably created using environmentally harmful methods. When you produce less trash, you ease up your environmental impact. Consider doing the following:
Purchase reusable products, and avoid buying new ones. Take care of, and repair, the ones you currently own. Use glass containers instead of plastic. Stop using plastic bags and opt for reusable cloth. Don’t use disposable kitchenware; use reusable items. Store your food in reusable containers and avoid plastic wrap and aluminum foil as much as possible.
Repair your clothing instead of purchasing new. Equip your most frequently used devices with rechargeable batteries. Opt for used furniture – there is a large supply of it and it costs much less than new. Don’t buy products that are packaged in several layers, when they could have been packaged in one. Almost 33 percent of our waste consists of packaging material.
Choose recycled paper. Print and copy on both sides. Reuse your folders, envelopes and paper clips. Reduce your paper mail by relying more on emails and mobile texting.
Cook your own food. And if you are up for it, grow it yourself! In any case, try to make as many meals as you can from the most basic of ingredients – which you can also buy in bulk to save on packaging.
Try making your own personal care products. Homemade soaps and shampoos are much more environmentally friendly than commercial ones that are often full of toxic chemicals. There are literally no personal care products that you can’t make on your own, including toothpaste, lotion, conditioner and shampoo. Begin by replacing one product at a time. Most homemade products have a variety of uses (IE baking soda can be used as soap, shampoo, conditioner, facial cleanser, teeth whitener and toothpaste – as well as for cleaning.)
Reduce your reliance on chemical products. Synthetic chemicals in cleaning and personal care products end up in the water supply. Because the bulk of chemicals used today are toxic, they end up harming aquatic life and waterways significantly. What’s more, these substances harm people as well, so it’s only in your best interest to reduce their usage. Also, avoid herbicides and pesticides and opt for natural ways of combating pests and weeds.
Revert to homemade cleaning products. You can make all sorts of cleaners – in fact all of your cleaning products – with natural-only ingredients. Read up on how to make alternative cleaning products that exclude harmful chemicals. For instance, you can do your basic cleaning using a 50-50 solution of water and white vinegar, that works just as well as most conventional cleaners on the market. Virtually all your cleaning can be accomplished with baking soda, vinegar and water. You help protect the environment, your health, and save a lot of money.
When there are no reliable alternatives to a harmful item, try to use the minimum amount needed. By doing so, you help the planet and also help your wallet.
When you just can't stay silent on a particular earth and animal issue, expressing your views through civil protest is a positive way to make a difference. Gathering with other people to collectively speak out against animal and environmental wrongdoing is a fundamental right and a powerful way to bring about change.
ORGANIZING A PROTEST
Protests can function as a way to spread awareness about an issue or put pressure on those in power to make a specific change. What do you hope to accomplish with your protest? Figure out who the audience of your protest will be and plan your strategy from there. You're more likely to get the outcome you want if you take time to set a goal for achieving it. For example, let's say you want to stage a protest against a local factory farm as a way to spread awareness about how animals are treated there so people will stop buying their products. In this case your audience is the public. You may have a more specific goal, like trying to stop bully breed legislation in your town. In this case the aim of the protest might be to put pressure on the local government. In some cases your goal might be quite large in scale and can be used as a tool to show political leaders that their constituents want a change in policy.
CHOOSE A LOCATION
Find a location that is practical, symbolic or convenient - or all three. The location you choose should be the one that helps you reach your target audience so that the protest is as effective as possible. This could be the sidewalk in front of a business, a public street corner, the courthouse, the capitol building, or a park that has historically been used for protests in your city. Just remember that in order for the protest to be legal, the site you choose must be public.
CHOOSE A TIME
Protest at a time when you'll be able to gather the largest crowd and have the greatest impact on your audience. For example, if you're protesting a certain company's business practices you'll want to stage the protest when the CEO is present, which will probably be during business hours. On the other hand, if the goal of your protest is to gather as many people as possible, you might want to protest on a weekend when more people will be available to come.
APPLY FOR PERMITS
Get the necessary permits. Check with your city officials about whether you need to get a permit to protest in the location you choose. Each city has its own laws regarding how many people can protest and where they can gather. Do your homework and get the permits you need so that your protest won't get disbanded before it can gain any traction. In some cases the permit will set limits on how many people can gather, how much noise you can make, and where protesters can move about. If you disagree with the terms, you can contact an attorney to help you try to get them altered. Some cities don't require protest permits. If you're expecting a large crowd to come to the protest, you should alert the police department anyway. If they know what to expect they can help with crowd control and there will be less chance of conflict occurring.
PLAN AN AGENDA
Plan the sequence of events. What actions will best help you achieve your goal? It's important to have an agenda in mind for what will happen once everyone is gathered for the protest. Do some research on other effective protests and come up with a game plan that will help you target your goal. Here are a few ideas:
Have community leaders introduce the protest and make speeches on the issue at hand.
Have an emcee who can lead protest chants and songs, and have bands play protest music.
Plan a march from one location to another. This is a classic form of protesting that helps bring widespread attention to a cause.
Implement performance art to help get your point across.
Screen an informative video or documentary on the subject you're protesting.
Consider having a sit-in or sleep-in occupying a space until your demands are met.
PUBLICIZE THE EVENT
Take this important step to make sure your protest gets as much attention as possible. The aim isn't just to encourage people to show up for the protest, but to capture that attention of the media, too. Pull out all the stops to spread the word starting a few weeks before the protest. Post details about the protest on all your social media channels. Make flyers about the protest and put them up around town. Target college campuses and other places where people likely to be interested in protesting your issue congregate. Call local newspapers and radio stations and ask them to publish information about the protest and promote it on the air.
PREPARE TO PROTEST
Make posters, flyers, visual aids or pamphlets to help spread your message and communicate your concerns to others. During the protest, you can give out information on what you're protesting to interested parties. You might want to put the name of the group with which you're affiliated on your protest materials. That way, people who are new to the issue will know who to contact to find out more. Consider coming up with a catchy slogan for the materials, something people can easily memorize and communicate to others.
Dress appropriately for the occasion. Dress for comfort - you might be standing or walking for several hours. Wear comfortable shoes.
Bring emergency supplies. Bring a backpack with a few supplies you might need. Bottled water and food are good to have on hand if the protest is going to last a long time. In addition to these staples, pack a copy of the protest permit, your identification card and a first aid kit.
Understand that protests are unpredictable. No matter what you're protesting, there will be people who strongly disagree with your point of view. You may even encounter a separate group of protesters protesting the opposite side of the issue. At larger protests, police may be present to control the crowd and make sure things don't get too out of hand. With all these different forces butting heads, be prepared for unpredictable things to happen.
Know how to interact with police. Make sure you know your rights as a protester and are familiar with how to deal with police in case you get stopped by an officer. If you stick to the terms outlined in the protest permit, you shouldn't encounter problems, but you never know what could happen. Do your best to follow the instructions given by the police. If you believe your free speech rights are being threatened, call an attorney. If a police officer asks if he or she can search you, you have the right to decline until a warrant is presented.
Decide how far you want to go. If you're considering civil disobedience as part of your protest strategy, think carefully before taking action. Civil disobedience can be a courageous, nonviolent strategy for driving a point home, but it comes with serious consequences, like getting arrested. It's important to know what you're getting into before you choose to break the law in the name of your cause.
DURING THE PROTEST
Know your facts. Be prepared to answer questions from passers-by. You'll look very silly if you can't answer questions about your own protest. Make sure everything you say is the complete truth. You shouldn't have to skew the truth for what you're protesting.
Don't force your cause. Realize that not everyone is interested in what you are protesting. Don't force people to listen if you are having a quiet, informative protest. People don't listen if they don't want to listen. Basically, if a person says "no", say "thank you anyways". Avoid lengthy debates, discussions, and arguments during your protest. These can escalate into conflict, and also tend to distract you away from the focus of your protest. Instead, offer visitors a pamphlet and perhaps a way to contact you for follow-up discussion.
Be respectful at all times. A protest can be a very effective way to exercise free speech, make your voice heard and bring about change. However, being disrespectful to those against whom you're protesting can undermine your group's reputation and hurt the cause. Your arguments won't be taken as seriously if disrespectful actions are taken. Avoid yelling insults at people who disagree with you, vandalizing public or private property and resorting to violence of any kind.
AFTER THE PROTEST
Gauge the effectiveness of your protest. When all is said and done, reflect back on the protest and decide what worked and what didn't. Think about whether you reached your goal, and whether a different approach would be more effective the next time around. No matter what, be proud that you stayed true to your beliefs and exercised your right to be heard. Even if your protest didn't bring about the change you want to see, speaking up about your cause is a step in the right direction. It's unlikely that a single protest is going to change the circumstances. You'll probably need to have follow-up protests and will also need to approach the issue from other angles as well. You could start a letter-writing campaign, lead a boycott, write a blog to voice your opinions, and take other actions to spread awareness and accomplish your goals. Don't give up!
Habitat loss and the extinction of species are devastating consequences of irresponsible human actions. The problem’s complexity and reach often leads people to feel unable to make a difference. However, every single action we take is crucial in bringing about change. Although individually our contribution may seem small, the sum of our efforts can really make a huge difference.
Protect Wildlife Habitat
The most pressing issue that threatens species is their progressive loss of habitat. Animal agriculture, deforestation, and development impact the environment in profound ways: erosion, soil compaction, desertification and changes in climate. When the land is manipulated in such a manner, wildlife habitat alteration or even elimination takes place. This is more pronounced when rare species are involved; these alterations may result in the rapid extinction of the species. Habitat protection ensures that whole animal communities are safe, which in turn leads to fewer interventions needed towards the conservation of endangered species. Reserves, parks, and similar protected areas are often the only safe havens that remain unaffected by habitat loss.
Consume Less, Recycle More
A great way to minimize our effect on the environment is to recycle and reuse as much as possible. Consuming less is an immensely effective means of protecting the planet. What’s more, by reducing our energy consumption we help conserve our natural resources, and we save money in the process!
Become Member Of A Conservation Organization
Numerous conservation organizations exist with a mission to protect endangered species and habitats. Each organization has a different mission – for some it’s to safeguard a certain habitat or species, for others to push for the legislation of good environmental practices. If you are particularly interested in a topic, chances are that you will find an organization that shares your interest. Becoming a member will let you back organized, constant efforts towards protecting wildlife and habitats. Moreover, there are often special programs available that offer the chance to do conservation field work, as many organizations depend on volunteer work.
Use Fewer Herbicides And Pesticides
Herbicides and pesticides are effective in beautifying your backyard, but they wreak havoc on wildlife on several levels. Some of these compounds degrade at an extremely slow rate, which means their levels build up in the soil and, consequently, pass into the food chain. Certain animal groups, like the amphibians, are especially prone to the toxic effects of these chemicals, suffering a greater impact.
Prevent Invasive Species From Spreading
Native wildlife populations all over the world have been severely affected by the invasion of non-native species, since the latter increase competition for food and habitat. Native species may even become their direct prey, risking extinction. You can minimize the impact of invasive species by populating your garden with native plants.
Don’t Drive Too Fast
For many native species, life takes place in densely populated areas, meaning they have to find their way through a labyrinth of human-made dangers. Roads, in particular, pose one of the greatest risks for wild animals that live in developed areas, because they split their habitat and pose a constant threat to animals that try to cross to the other side. So, if you are driving in such areas, reduce your speed and pay attention for such animals.
Install Decals On Windows To Prevent Bird Collisions
Collisions with windows is a serious risk for birds. Almost one billion birds lose their lives every year by colliding with windows. A simple way of decreasing that number is by installing decals on the windows of your office and home. Other things you can do to help is to relocate bird feeders to a more convenient spot, draw curtains and shades when it’s bright outside, install screens on the external side of your windows, or use tinted window glass.
Express Your Concerns And Become Actively Involved
By actively expressing your concerns regarding endangered species to local and national authorities, you raise the chances of someone actually doing something to remedy the situation.
Share Your Excitement For Nature And Wildlife
Motivate other people to read up on wildlife issues, respect wildlife, and be serious about the protection of species and habitats.
Last but not least, the single most effective way of helping wildlife is to adopt a vegan diet. Animal farming is the number one cause of water consumption, pollution, and deforestation. Livestock has a higher greenhouse effect on the atmosphere than fossil fuel consumption. The farming industry is the greatest cause of rainforest demise, soil erosion, habitat loss, species extinction and dead zones in the oceans.
Outer beauty is a reflection of our health. When healthy and well-nourished our skin glows, our hair is silky and our eyes are bright. Ironically, most “beauty” products are anything but healthy. Often laced with dozens of chemicals, conventional bath and beauty products are destructive to the planet's health as well as our own. Fortunately, simple and effective alternatives are waiting to be discovered in your kitchen cupboards. In fact, just three ingredients from your kitchen can make most of the products you use in your bathroom – oil, baking soda and vinegar. They are truly so healthy you can eat them. If you can't eat your bath and beauty products, you shouldn't be using them on your body.
Natural Alternatives For Shampoo
Baking soda is very effective at cleaning hair. Simply dissolve the baking soda in some water and apply it to your hair, then rinse thoroughly. For dry hair, apply a bit of oil such as olive or coconut oil. For frizzy hair, use less baking soda or rinse it sooner. For greasy hair, add a little lemon or lime juice. For itchy scalp, add essential oils such as lavender, tea tree, or rosemary.
Natural Alternatives For Hair Conditioner
Coconut oil offers exceptional hydration and can be used before or after shampooing. For thin, lightweight, or oily hair, apply before showering. For curly, thick, or dry hair, apply after showering. Apple cider vinegar is also one of the best alternatives to commercial conditioner. It smoothes your cuticles, leaving your hair softer and easier to detangle. Simply mix 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar with 1 cup of water. Apple cider vinegar has low pH, so it can dry some hair types – mix a little oil with it.
Natural Alternatives For Body Wash And Soap
Baking soda is an amazing body cleanser. Just mix a little baking soda with water. To moisturize your skin, add a little coconut oil. For some added fragrance, add some essential oil. Peppermint oil can stimulate and lift your mood, camomile or lavender oils promote relaxation, and ylang ylang and geranium oils help your overall feeling of well-being. 1 cup of Castile liquid soap (vegetable oils) mixed with 6 drops of essential oil also makes a great body wash.
Natural Alternatives For Bath Salts
Mix 3 cups of Epsom salt, 2 cups of sea salt and 1/2 cup of baking soda. Add essential oils for scent. Jasmine, lavender, and cedar create a calming bath. Citrus scents like orange, grapefruit, lemon and tangerine are used for clarity and joy.
Natural Alternatives For Bath Milk
Mix 1 1/2 cups powdered soy milk and 1/2 cup Epsom salts together. Add a few drops of essential oil if desired.
Natural Alternatives For Bubble Bath
Mix 1 cup of liquid castile soap, 2/3 cup of liquid vegetable glycerin, 1/4 cup of water, and a few drops of essential oil together. Add to bath.
Natural Alternatives For Body Scrub
Mix 2 cups of brown sugar with 1 cup of coconut or olive oil. Add essential oil for fragrance if you like. For a softer alternative, substitute all or part of the sugar for oats.
Natural Alternatives For Hair Gel
Coconut oil makes an excellent, all natural alternative to hair gel...and it conditions your hair. Note: a little goes a long way.
Natural Alternatives For Deodorant And Antiperspirant
Conventional antiperspirant and deodorant put aluminum in your body and prevent perspiration – the body’s natural way of eliminating toxins. Baking soda is an incredibly effective natural deodorant. Mixing it with equal parts coconut oil is even better. Coconut oil is antibacterial and anti fungal, so it prevents odors very well.
Natural Alternatives For Lotion
Skin is the largest organ in the body, and chemicals from conventional lotions are absorbed through the skin and stored in fat. A much safer lotion alternative is pure organic coconut oil. Coconut oil helps dry skin, wrinkles, and additional skin issues. It is naturally antibacterial, so it does not create breakouts. Coconut oil can be combined with other oils, herbs and essential oils to create a variety of solutions for different skin types.
Natural Alternatives For Toothpaste
Virtually all conventional toothpastes contain dangerous fluoride – a toxic byproduct of the aluminum industry. Fluoride has been linked to numerous diseases, including cancer and thyroid disease. Steer clear of fluoride toothpaste. Instead, brush your teeth with baking soda. You can add peppermint or other essential oils for better taste and fresher breath.
Natural Alternatives For Lip Balm
Use coconut oil in place of lip balm. It works well, and it's quite tasty.
Natural Alternatives For Facial Toner
Apple cider vinegar diluted with water makes a fantastic facial toner. Use a teaspoon of vinegar per half cup of water. Don't worry, the vinegar scent fades as soon as it dries. A few drops of essential oil will improve the scent. Apple cider vinegar brightens, tightens and freshens skin. It solves dry skin and breakout problems.
Natural Alternatives For Facial Cleanser
Make a face wash by adding a little baking soda to coconut oil.
Natural Alternatives For Mascara Remover
Olive oil or coconut oil work well at removing mascara and eye makeup, including waterproof makeup. Use one or the other, or combine the two. These oils also moisturize the eyes and help remove or prevent wrinkles.
Natural Alternatives For Hair Spray
Juice a lemon and mix with two cups of water in a spray bottle. Keep the mixture stored in the refrigerator. A cup of boiling water mixed with 1 to 4 teaspoons of sugar also creates an effective hair spray. Pour the mixture into a mister bottle. Apply as many times as needed, allowing it to dry in between applications. For a natural beach waves look, substitute sugar for salt.
Natural Alternatives For Teeth Whiteners
A healthy diet is most effective in keeping teeth white, and pure baking soda applied with a toothbrush is also effective. You can also rub fresh strawberries on your gums or mix mashed strawberries with baking soda and keep in your mouth tray for about 30 minutes one time a week.
Natural Alternatives For Cuticle Care
Scrub dry, cracked cuticles with a paste made from equal parts baking soda and warm water. It exfoliates dead skin cells and soften hands.
Natural Alternatives For Acne Solution
Mix baking soda with a little bit of water. Apply to the acne until dry.
Natural Alternatives For Foot Soak
Eliminate foot odor and fungus by soaking your feet in a solution of warm water and half a cup of baking soda. Add essential oil if you like.
Natural Alternatives For Aftershave
Apply a little coconut oil after shaving to soothe your skin.
A campaign requires a great deal of commitment, planning and organization. While it's possible to do this alone, the support of others is very desirable. In either case, it's important to establish an identity as a group. Once you get going, others will join you. You, however, must expect to lead the way.
Your first step is to thoroughly research your opponents. What arguments will they use to defend their position? What do you hope to achieve?
Decide exactly what your demands are: What do you want your target to do? What is the minimum you'll accept? Are your goals realistic?
If you've got a good target, start developing your strategy. Begin by designing a timetable for your campaign. Then establish short-range goals. Short-range goals keep momentum going and bring you closer to your target.
Prepare for countercharges. What claims will your opponents make to defend their actions? How will you refute them?
Decide whose support you really need to win; don't just say "the public." Which part of the public? Which groups or individuals in particular?
Consider how to reach them. Whose support can you count on from the beginning? How will you work with those people? And analyze how you will win over or neutralize supporters of the opposition.
CHOOSING YOUR STRATEGY
You may be able to accomplish your goals with a low-level effort, such as a letter-writing campaign or a series of leafletting and tabling activities - not all campaigns require demonstrations, boycotts or rallies. If you start out with a bang, you must be able to sustain it.
Take the time to consider what's going to make your campaign a success. The more planning time you give yourself, the better chance you have of winning your cause.
Here are some general strategies to follow:
Try to communicate with your opponent. Write to the head of the company or organization, politely state your grievance and ask for action.
Give them time to respond, but set a deadline so they don't keep you dangling forever. It's always possible that your opponent is unaware of abuses, and there may be room to negotiate a change. Regardless, if you don't go to the source first, your credibility will be impaired.
Document your communications. Keep copies of letters and a written record of telephone calls.
Before you go public, try to get some expert opinions to back you up. Such statements lend credibility to your campaign and make it easier to convince both the public and government officials. Approach scientists, veterinarians, doctors, or anyone else who has the experience and credentials to be considered an expert on the issue. Inform them of the situation and ask them to give you a written statement criticizing your target and recommending alternatives.
Produce some basic campaign literature first: a fact sheet, a background/history sheet, an alternatives sheet, a page of expert opinions, and a short leaflet that lists your demands and tells people what they can do to help. These provide essential factual information for the public and the media.
Arrange a meeting with the mayor's office and/or the specific regulatory office related to the issue. Clarify the facts about the issue and the changes you are proposing and try to get their support.
Write letters to local government officials, congressional representatives, and the head of the organization you are targeting. State the problem, your demands or alternatives, and specify what you want the official to do.
Arrange to meet personally with as many elected officials as possible. Try to enlist their support.
Write to news editors of local papers and to related trade journals to try to interest them in doing a story on the issue.
Educate your community. Setup tables and hand out leaflets to publicize the issue. Run an advertisement in the newspaper if your budget allows. Create a website and/or social media pages.
Try to get support from other national and local groups. Contact civic associations, the League of Women Voters, Rotary Clubs, and political clubs and ask for their support.
Give your opponent a second chance to negotiate with you. This may also be the time to issue an ultimatum if negotiations are unsuccessful.
When you escalate to a new level, don't abandon your original activities. Public education should be a constant effort, complementing all your other tactics.
Escalation means finding ways to exert more pressure, such as picketing, holding a candlelight vigil, organizing a march, encouraging a boycott or holding a rally.
Baking soda, or bicarbonate of soda, can be used as a natural, non-toxic alternative for many cleaning and bath products. Drastically reduce your consumption, eliminate your use of toxic products, and save a lot of money with simple baking soda solutions.
Using baking soda for bath and beauty needs, cleaning, deodorizing and other eco-friendly uses is easy. For solutions, stir together about 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) of baking soda with 1 quart of water until dissolved. For pastes, stir together three parts of baking soda with one part water. For sprinkling, simply store baking soda in a jar or bottle with a shaker-type cap.
Baking Soda In The Bath
Shampoo: Use baking soda as a shampoo, rinse, then use apple cider vinegar as a conditioner.
Spa Bath: Add baking soda or bath salts to your bath.
Toothpaste: Dip your wet toothbrush into baking soda to brush your teeth, whiten your teeth and freshen your breath.
Teeth Whitener: Create a paste with a teaspoon of baking soda and water. Rub paste on your teeth once a week, let sit for five minutes, then rinse.
Deodorant: Lightly pat baking soda under your arms.
Mouthwash: Add one teaspoon of baking soda to a small glass of water.
Exfoliant: Mix three parts baking soda with one part water to use as an exfoliant to gently remove dead skin cells. Rub in a circular motion, then rinse.
Insect Bites: Make a paste out of baking soda and water and apply to skin.
Clean Combs And Brushes: Remove oil build-up by soaking combs and brushes in a glass of warm water mixed with one teaspoon of baking soda. Rinse and let dry.
Oral Appliances: Clean retainers and dentures with two teaspoons of baking soda dissolved in a cup of warm water.
Body Uses For Baking Soda
Hand Softener: Mix baking soda with warm water and rub on your hands to clean and soften.
Rash: Use two tablespoons of baking soda in bathwater to relieve rash.
Antacid: Use baking soda to relieve heartburn, stomach upset and acid indigestion by drinking half a teaspoon of baking soda mixed with half a cup of water.
Canker Sores: Used as a mouthwash to relieve canker sore pain.
Windburns: Moisten baking soda with water and apply.
Feet: Soak your feet in a warm bowl of water with three tablespoons of baking soda.
Sunburn: Apply a paste of baking soda mixed with water.
Bee Stings: Create a poultice of baking soda mixed with water.
Measles And Chicken Pox: Relieve general skin irritations such as measles and chicken pox by adding baking soda to your bath.
Itchy Skin Relief: Mix baking soda with water to create a paste – then rub it on your skin.
Splinters: Splinters come out naturally after a few days of soaking in baking soda twice a day.
Health Benefits Of Baking Soda
Ulcers: Baking soda neutralizes stomach acid and is beneficial for ulcers. Add a pinch of baking soda to your drinking water.
Cancer Prevention: Eating baking soda can offer nutritional and immune support for people with cancer. Add a little baking soda to your drinking water. Baking soda increases the pH of acidic tumors without affecting the pH balance of healthy blood and tissues. A pH imbalance causes unhealthy organisms to flourish, damaging tissues and organs and compromising immune systems.
Exercise Enhancer: Mix a pinch of baking soda in your drinking water before workouts. Baking soda absorbs lactic acid in muscles during vigorous workouts, prolonging fatigue and enhancing athletic performance.
Kidney Function: Low-functioning kidneys have difficulty removing acid from the body. Baking soda buffers acids and maintains balanced pH levels in your body.
Bathroom Cleaning With Baking Soda
Soft Scrub: Sprinkle baking soda on a damp sponge to scrub bathtubs, showers, tiles and sinks – then rinse and wipe dry.
Vinyl Shower Curtains: Sprinkle baking soda on a damp brush to scrub shower curtains, rinse and allow to dry.
Toilet Cleaning: Add one cup of baking soda to the toilet and scrub.
Clogged Drains: Unclog your drain with one cup of baking soda and one cup of vinegar.
Laundry Uses For Baking Soda
Laundry Detergent: Use half to 1 cup of baking soda in the wash cycle to get clothes clean and smelling fresh naturally.
Laundry Detergent Boost: Add half a cup of baking soda to detergent to get clothes brighter.
Pre-Soak: For heavy odor and dirt issues, use baking soda as a pre-soak. Dissolve 1 cup of baking soda in warm water. Fill the washer or sink with water and add the dissolved baking soda and clothes to soak overnight before washing.
Fabric Softner: Add half a cup of baking soda to the rinse cycle to balance pH levels and suspend detergent or mineral deposits in the water that make clothing feel stiff.
Iron Cleaner: Remove built-up starch and scorch deposits from irons with a mix of baking soda and water, then wipe the plate with white vinegar.
Cloth Diapers: Add half a cup of baking soda to 8 cups of water to soak cloth diapers.
Kitchen Cleaning With Baking Soda
Floors: Mix half a cup of baking soda in a bucket of warm water. Mop and rinse clean.
Microwave: Sprinkle baking soda on a damp sponge or cloth to clean inside of microwaves and remove odors.
Cookware: Shake baking soda onto pots and pans, add hot water and soak for 15 minutes before washing.
Oven: Sprinkle baking soda on the bottom surface of your oven and spray with water. Allow to sit overnight, then scrub and rinse.
Cookware Oil And Grease: Add a heaping scoop of baking soda to your regular dish soap to help cut oil and grease.
Dishwashers: Deodorize and cleanse your dishwasher by adding baking soda to the wash cycle.
Dishcloths: Sweeten sour dishcloths with baking soda.
Cutting Boards: Sprinkle baking soda on cutting boards, scrub and rinse.
Drains: Unclog your sink with one cup of baking soda and one cup of vinegar.
Polish Silver: Mix baking soda and water to create a paste and rub onto silver with a clean cloth, then rinse and dry.
Stainless Steel And Chrome: Rub with a moist cloth and dry baking soda. Rinse and dry.
Fridge And Freezer: Clean with baking soda sprinkled on a damp cloth, then rinse.
Food And Beverage Containers: Wash food and beverage containers with baking soda and water.
Melted Plastic Bread Bags: Use baking soda to remove melted plastic from bread bags by dampening a cloth and creating a mild abrasive with baking soda.
Counters: Clean with baking soda sprinkled on a damp sponge.
Thermos Bottles: Wash out with baking soda and water.
Coffee Pots: Clean glass or stainless steel coffee pots (but not aluminum) with 3 tablespoons of baking soda mixed with one quart of water.
Coffee Makers: Run coffee maker through its cycle with a baking soda solution, then rinse.
Garbage Disposals: Eliminate odors by slowly pour baking soda down the drain while running warm water.
Outdoor Uses For Baking Soda
Barbecue Grills: Sprinkle baking soda on barbecue grills, let soak, then rinse off.
Garage Floors: Sprinkle baking soda on greasy garage floors. Allow to stand, then scrub and rinse.
Repel Rain From Windshields: Apply gobs of baking soda to a dampened cloth and wipe windows.
Patio Furniture: Sprinkle baking soda under chair cushions to freshen patio furniture.
Weeds: Sprinkle baking soda between the cracks of your walkway to keep weeds away.
Cars: Mix baking soda with warm water on a soft cloth, brush or sponge to clean off dirt and bugs.
Garbage Cans: Wash garbage cans with baking soda and water.
Hands: Remove odors from hands by wetting hands and rubbing them hard with baking soda, then rinse.
Cleaning With Baking Soda
Furniture: Sprinkle baking soda on a damp sponge and rub furniture lightly. Wipe off with a dry cloth.
Surfaces: Clean and remove stains from marble, formica and plastic surfaces by scouring with a paste of baking soda and water.
Batteries: Create a baking soda paste and apply with a damp cloth to scrub corrosion off batteries. Use caution as batteries contain acids. Disconnect battery terminal before cleaning, and to prevent corrosion wipe on petroleum jelly.
Oil And Grease Stains: Sprinkle baking soda on oil and grease and scrub with a wet brush.
Crayon Marks On Walls: Add baking soda to a wet cloth to remove crayon marks on walls.
Deodorizing With Baking Soda
Air Freshener: Add one tablespoon of baking soda to water and a little essential oil.
Refrigerator: Place an open box of baking soda in the refrigerator.
Rugs And Carpeting. Sprinkle baking soda on rugs and carpet, wait 15 minutes or overnight, and vacuum.
Garbage Cans: Sprinkle baking soda on the bottom of garbage cans.
Sports Gear: Sprinkle baking soda into gym, sport and golf bags.
Closets: Place an open box of baking soda in closets. To ward off moths, add a few drops of lavender oil.
Toilets Odors: Add one cup of baking soda to the toilet and allow to sit an hour before flushing.
Stuffed Animals: Clean stuffed toys by sprinkling them with baking soda; brush off after 15 minutes.
Fireplaces: Reduce soot odor by cleaning the ashes out of your fireplace and placing a bowl of baking soda inside.
Vacuum Cleaners: By vacuuming baking soda into the vacuum cleaner, you deodorize the vacuum.
Shoes: Shake baking soda into shoes.
Baking Soda Companion Animals Uses
Dry Bath: Sprinkle baking soda on dry fur, brush it in then brush it out. Keep away from eyes.
Wet Bath: Bathe your dog with a solution of 1 tablespoon of baking soda for every 1 1/2 cups of warm water. Let it soak into fur for a few minutes. Thoroughly rinse, then apply apple cider vinegar to condition fur – 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar per cup of warm water – allowing to sit for a few minutes. Rinse thoroughly, then dry. Keep both solutions away from eyes.
Accidents: Clean up companion animal "accidents" by scrubbing the area with club soda, then allow the area to dry. Sprinkle baking soda on the area and let stand for a while, then vacuum up.
Teeth And Gums: Brush your companion animal's teeth by dipping a damp, soft brush in baking soda and brushing gently.
Animal Bedding: Sprinkle baking soda liberally onto pet bedding, allow to sit for 15 minutes before vacuuming.
Animal Carpet Odors: Sprinkle baking soda on the carpet, let dry, then vacuum.
Litter Box Odor: Layer the bottom of the box with baking soda, add litter on top.
Litter Box Cleaning: Empty old litter and pour in a mixture of baking soda and vinegar. Let stand for 15 minutes, then scrub, pour out and dry.
Cage And Crate: Scrub with a solution of baking soda dissolved in warm water. Rinse and dry.
Dishes: Scrub dog and cat bowls with baking soda and water.
Toys: Dissolve baking soda in warm water to wash pet toys. Rinse well and dry.
Blankets And Towels. Add half a cup of baking soda to the wash.
Skunk Odors: Combine 1 quart of hydrogen peroxide with 1/4 cup of baking soda and 1 teaspoon of grease cutting dish detergent. Wash your animal with the solution.
Bee Stings: Remove stinger from animal if needed, then apply a baking soda paste.
Nail Bleeding: If you cut your animal's nails too close and draw blood, dip the nail in baking soda and apply pressure.
Bad Breath: Mix half a teaspoon of salt and half a teaspoon of baking soda with one cup of water in a spray bottle. Spray your animal’s mouth regularly.
Food Uses For Baking Soda
Produce: Scrub produce with baking soda under water to remove pesticides and residue.
Baking: Baking soda, as its name implies, can be used as a leavening agent in baked goods. It causes dough to rise.
Beans And Bloating. Sprinkle a teaspoon of baking soda in water while soaking dry beans to reduce bloating.
Tea: Add a pinch of baking soda to a gallon of freshly brewed tea to remove bitterness and cloudiness.
Lunch Boxes: Place a spill-proof box of baking soda in a lunch box between uses to absorb odors.
Ants: Mix equal parts baking soda and salt and sprinkle in areas where ants are entering your home.
Babies And Kids Uses For Baking Soda
Baby Bottles: Clean baby bottles with baking soda and hot water.
Cloth Diapers: Dissolve half a cup of baking soda in two quarts of warm water and soak diapers thoroughly before washing.
Diaper Rash: Add two tablespoons of baking soda to your baby's bath water to help relieve diaper rash.
Play Clay: Combine 1 1/4 cups of water, two cups of baking soda and one cup of cornstarch.
Baby Spit Ups: Moisten a cloth, dip it in baking soda and dab at the dribbled clothing.
Baby Pools: Add baking soda to the bottom of a mildewed baby pool, then hose it down.
More Baking Soda Uses
Cut Flowers: Add a teaspoon of baking soda to a vase of flowers to expand their life.
Fill Wall Holes. Mix baking soda with white toothpaste to fill holes in a plastered wall.
Small Fires: Toss baking soda at the base of the fire to help put a fire out.
Ashtrays: Remove odors from ashtrays with baking soda and water. Sprinkle dry baking soda in ashtrays to prevent smoldering and reduce odor.
Canvas Bags: Use dry baking soda with a brush to rub canvas handbags clean.
Whales are hunted for their meat and other body parts. The oil from their bodies has been used to make lipstick, shoe polish and margarine. The practice of hunting whales began in the 9th century when Spain undertook the first organized hunt. By the 20th century, the Netherlands, Denmark, Britain, France, Germany, Norway, Japan and the United States had begun to kill large numbers of whales.
Certain species of whales were hunted so much that their numbers began to decline. There were fewer whales than there had been before. In 1946 the International Whaling Commission (IWC) was formed to address the issues of whaling and this growing threat to whales. The IWC created three categories of whaling: Commercial, Scientific and Aboriginal Subsistence.
In commercial whaling, whales are killed for their meat and their parts. In scientific whaling, whales are killed so that their bodies can be studied and cataloged. Aboriginal subsistence is the whaling carried out by native cultures, such as the Native Americans in the United States. These groups of people are given certain rights to hunt whales based upon their cultural history and dependence upon whale meat.
Due to the danger of extinction facing many whale species, the IWC voted to suspend all commercial whale hunting beginning in 1986. Despite this international agreement to stop killing whales for their parts, several countries continued to kill whales and sell their meat and parts, including Norway, Iceland and Japan.
A loophole in the ban on commercial whaling allowed for the killing of large and medium whales for "scientific purposes." The ban also doesn't cover smaller whales like pilot whales, dolphins and porpoises. Iceland and Norway take whales within their own waters, otherwise known as exclusive economic zones. Japan conducts whaling in international waters, including in a whale sanctuary in the ocean off the Antarctic coast, despite the ban.
Whales are most often killed using a primitive weapon called a harpoon. The harpoon has a grenade attached that explodes when the harpoon enters the body of the whale. It can take a very long time for some whales to die which causes additional suffering and fear in these gentle animals. There is no humane way to kill a whale.
Despite international pressure and the best efforts of grassroots movements to ‘save the whales’ around the world, whaling continues to be a danger facing whales and their future here on earth.
An essential part of any movement for social change is the effort to create new legislation. You don’t need to be an expert on law or politics to lobby your elected officials, but you do need to know how to communicate with them effectively.
The first step is to find out who they are. Next, get to know as many legislators as you can. Don’t wait until you or your group want to introduce a bill or to lobby your legislator to vote one way or the other on an issue. Lay the foundation before you start a legislative campaign. Attend “town meetings” where legislators meet with voters to answer questions. Write to thank them for taking specific positions that you support.
Arrange to meet with them, even if it’s on an issue that you don’t feel strongly about. The important thing is to establish a rapport. It’s also very helpful to get to know elected officials’ aides, who are often much more accessible than the legislators themselves and can often provide you with good “inside” information.
Legislators prefer to be contacted by the following means (in order of preference): Individualized letters by mail; Phone calls; Individualized letters by fax; Individual e-mails; Form letters and e-mails. Be sure to provide your name, address and phone number on the envelope, in the letter, and in all e-mail messages and make sure you are able to articulate the issue should you get your elected official or an aide on the phone.
In your correspondence with elected officials, discuss only one issue at a time. Keep it short; one-page letters are best, and two pages is the maximum. The more personal the correspondence appears, the more seriously it will be taken. State the purpose of your letter or e-mail in the first paragraph. Support your argument with facts, not emotions. Don’t assume that the legislator knows all about the issue. Provide background information. Identify the bill or ordinance by title and number. Be polite and positive. Never threaten; today’s opponent could be tomorrow’s ally on another issue. Clearly state what you want him or her to do. Don’t be self-righteous about being a “citizen” or a “taxpayer”; your readers will assume that you are both.
When addressing the letter and envelope, be sure to use the proper form for the address and salutation. On the envelope and inside address, refer to any legislator as “The Honorable.” The salutation for state or federal representatives is “Mr.” or “Ms.” The salutation for state or federal senators is “Senator.”
When writing to U.S. senators, use the following format and address:
The Honorable [first and last name]
Washington, DC 20510
When writing to U.S. representatives, use the following format and address:
The Honorable [first and last name]
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
MEETING WITH LEGISLATORS
When meeting with elected officials, make an appointment well in advance. Go by yourself or, at most, with one other person. f you are going with a group of people, decide on a spokesperson ahead of time.
Dress conservatively and professionally. Know about the legislator and his or her voting record; compliment him or her on past achievements. Be friendly and positive.
Don’t turn down a chance to meet with a legislative aide; go to the meeting and behave as if you were meeting with the elected official.
Know the title and bill number of the legislation that you want to discuss. Provide one-page fact sheets to give background information.
Don’t speak as a member of a national organization. Know your facts. Don’t become emotional. Don’t waste the legislator’s time; make your points briefly and clearly, and then thank him or her and leave promptly.
Remember that how you communicate is as important as what you communicate. People who care about the earth and animals are often stereotyped as too emotional. We can change that image by doing our homework, staying calm and polite, and keeping our statements concise.