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.
Environmentalism is an integration of the ideology and philosophy of protecting the health of the environment and the social movement resulting from it. Issues such as conservation, preservation, ecosystem restoration, and improvement of the natural environment are foremost on the agenda of environmentalists. Concerns and threats involving the Earth's biodiversity and ecology feature at the top of the list.
To be an environmentalist, follow the simple steps given below.
1. Choose Your Cause
Discover what you are passionate about and do some research. There are a variety of environmental issues that will pique your interest. Protection of endangered species, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, avoiding wastage of natural resources, restoration of age-old landscapes, protecting forests, and encouraging recycling are some of the causes environmentalists support. Learning about environmental issues in your own locality, and taking a part in solving them, is a good way to get involved.
2. Use Your Talents
Take measure of your talents. Are you an extrovert and like to communicate verbally with people? Are you introverted and more inclined towards writing than to speaking? Do you like to communicate and spread your thoughts in words through correspondences? Are you someone who likes being out in nature? Can you play an instrument, sing, bake, paint or juggle? Your unique talents can contribute to bringing attention to, and raising funds for, environmental efforts. Consider getting involved in events, fundraisers and campaigns for conservation issues.
3. Educate Yourself, Then Educate Others
Get yourself acquainted with how the Earth works and how human activities are affecting it. To make sense out of the multitude of environmental issues and the science behind it, read magazines, books and articles, watch documentaries, and browse websites relating to nature. Share what you learn with family, friends, coworkers and associates. Use social media to spread the word on environmental issues.
4. Get Connected
Get in touch with other like-minded people or experts in the field. Getting connected with people, especially experts on the environment, is an important step on the way to becoming an environmentalist. Conduct searches on the web for people and organizations who share your thoughts and concerns. Join organizations, groups, websites and social media channels that promote your cause – or create your own. Learn from the experts and help make a bigger impact by joining forces with other people, groups and nonprofits who share your passion for environmentalism.
5. Clean Up Litter
Pick up litter wherever you go and whenever you can. Litter not only dirties roads, parks and public spaces, it also pollutes the environment. It harms wildlife that comes into contact with it. You can pickup litter on your own in your spare time, or join or organize groups to clean up large areas.
6. Go Outside
Visit places like wildlife sanctuaries, nature preserves, and parks. Support their efforts. Volunteer. Enjoy the natural beauty of these places, observe animals and their behavior, and encourage others to do the same. Communicate to people in your social circles why these protected places are important.
7. Go Native
Grow native plants in your backyard. Invasive species wreak havoc on ecosystems. Native plants are better adapted to the area where you live and need minimum caring. They are less vulnerable to pests and will benefit birds, insects and other wildlife endemic to your locality.
8. Plant Trees
The more trees you plant the more you help the environment. Trees absorb harmful CO2, prevent their emission and alleviate global warming. They provide food and shelter for wild animals. Plant trees on your property, and help plant trees in your community.
9. Go Organic
Consuming organic food and using organic gardening methods contributes towards a safer, healthier environment. Minimizing the use of pesticides and fertilizers stimulates beneficial soil organisms and results in less polluted waste-water flowing out of your garden. Moreover, it creates a much healthier environment for wildlife, your children and your companion animals.
10. Go Green
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rethink. Reduce the amount of materials you use, which reduces the amount of waste you create. Reuse materials when possible. Recycle whenever possible. Rethink the materials you use and those you throw away. By thinking about what we're using and how to reduce the wast we produce, we can help create a cleaner, healthier environment.
11. Go Without
Cut back your consumption. Water, food and air are consumed to support life. But we also consume much more than essentials, and far more than we should. There seems to be no end to the list of items and services we can’t live without. 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.
12. Eat More Veggies
Animal agriculture emits more greenhouse gases than aircrafts, automobiles and trains combined. Forests are being cleared at alarming rates to feed grains to livestock that could feed the entire human race. Less trees means less impediments to CO2 being released into the air and thus more pollution. Animal waste is producing massive amounts of toxic levels of methane and ammonia, which leads to climate change as well as acid rain. Animal agriculture is also destroying our waterways and using up our valuable water supplies. Hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, fertilizers and other chemicals run off into rivers, lakes, streams and our drinkable water. These practices cause dead zones in the oceans, rivers and lakes. Animal farming is the leading cause of the catastrophic reduction of critical wildlife habitat, and the problem is escalating at a disturbing pace. Meat production is slated to double in another four decades. Remove or reduce meat, dairy and eggs from your diet.
Much of the work you will do as an activist requires no more (and no less) than caring and motivation. On the other hand, making flyers, setting up tables and forming groups also requires some money to cover costs.
TARGET YOUR EFFORTS
People like to know how their donations will be used. It's always more effective to target your fundraising efforts for a specific purpose. Make it clear what the proceeds from your raffle or flea market will be used for.
ACTIVITIES THAT RAISE FUNDS
Product sales: If you have some money to invest, you can purchase T-shirts, buttons, bumper stickers and books to sell when you set up tables and hold meetings.
Food sales: Vegan bake sales can do well either as an independent fundraiser or when combined with another event. Groups should appoint someone to be in charge and to get each member to contribute a baked item (or try offering tofu hot dogs or veggie burgers). Choose a busy spot or a craft fair or festival and check ahead with the police and health department about permits and food regulations.
Garage sales: You'll make more money if your goods are clean and well displayed. Tag clothing with size labels and make sure prices are clearly marked.
Thrift shops: Setup an ongoing thrift shop at a church or unused garage. You'll need a staff of volunteers to sort, price, display and do the sales and bookkeeping.
Annual sales: Hold the sale at the same time each year. Plan ahead to get a good location and publicize the event. If you have a good spot for storage, you can collect donations year round.
Raffles: The two keys to a successful raffle are a good prize and lots of ticket sellers. Print the name of your group, the date and place of the drawing, and a list of the prizes you're offering. Make sure ticket sellers always have enough tickets on hand. Try setting up a table at the supermarket on Saturday or outside a church to sell tickets during the weekend. Ask local merchants to donate prizes or have a 50/50 raffle, meaning that the prize is half the money you collect. Make sure you comply with local solicitation regulations.
Sponsored events: In a walk-a-thon or bike-a-thon, for example, a group of people commit to participating in the event, and they then ask family, friends and local businesses to sponsor them for a certain amount. Choose a safe route and check it first with the police. You'll need to prepare sponsor forms with the name and address of the group, the purpose of the event, the date and time, and the route. Also include columns for the sponsor's name, address, and amount pledged per mile (establish a minimum). Encourage local athletic groups to participate.
Do chores and odd jobs: Have all your members spend a Saturday cleaning, painting, raking leaves, or putting up storm windows. Advertise ahead of time and schedule as many jobs as possible.
Recycling: Many communities have recycling facilities that will pay you for cans, bottles or other items.
Give up something: Ask people to give up smoking for a week or lunch for a day, and donate the money they save.
Miscellaneous: Place donation cans in stores, go Christmas caroling for donations, sell heart-shaped dog biscuits on Valentine's Day, have a car wash ... use your imagination!
ASK FOR GOODS OR DISCOUNTS
Another kind of fundraising effort is to ask for something other than money. Ask print shops if they will give you a discount. Ask local businesses to donate new or used office equipment. Send each business an individualized request describing your group and its goals and asking for a specific item or service. If you are tax-exempt, that will encourage donations. But don't be afraid to ask even if you're not tax-exempt.
Another good source of financial support is your supporters. Ask them to pay a yearly membership fee. Set different levels for dues such as $10 to $20 for regular members, $50 for sponsors, $100 for sustaining members, and $500 to $1,000 for lifetime members. Student and senior citizen memberships could be offered at discounted rates.
Consider offering members an incentive, such as a free book or T-shirt with a large donation. Ask for regular donations either monthly or quarterly, and always be sure to send a thank-you note promptly. (If you are tax-exempt, your thank-you note should inform donors of the deductible portion of their gift, i.e., the amount of the gift minus the value of any incentive you give them in return.)
TAXES & REPORTING
Virtually all fundraising has tax - and financial - reporting consequences. Donation and sales revenue is generally taxable unless you qualify as a tax-exempt organization. Even if you are tax-exempt, you must still collect and remit to the government sales tax on many types of sales. Also, most states require charities to register as soliciting organizations and to file annual reports. (Note that automatic exemptions may exist under some of these rules for small organizations.) Check with your state taxing authority, secretary of state, attorney general, and consumer affairs agency. It is also a very good idea to have a CPA on your managing committee!
CHARITABLE SOLICITATION CERTIFICATE
File with your state's Charitable Solicitations Division. They will give you a certificate that allows you to solicit funds in that state. You may be required to list a registered agent - someone who resides in the state and can be served with legal papers if necessary - in order to file. Different states have different thresholds for the amount of money you must have to file. But even if your group falls below that threshold, you cannot ignore the charitable solicitations office. You must, in that case, file for an exemption from formal registration as a charitable organization. If you intend to solicit funds in other states as well, you need to file similar forms. Some states require that you file applications for a "certificate of authority to transact business" in the state before you will be allowed to register for charitable solicitation. This may require an attachment to the application of a "certificate of good standing" or a "certification of articles of incorporation" from the state in which you are incorporated. After receiving your certificate to transact business you may have to file it in the county or state of your registered agent.
FORMS REQUIRED ANNUALLY
Now that you have done all the necessary paperwork to setup, you must do the paperwork necessary to continue to exist legally. The federal government requires you to file Form 990, "Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax," annually. You may also need to file Form 990-T to report taxable sales that are not related to your tax-exempt purpose. The state governments require an "annual report of tax" and an "annual report of domestic nonprofit corporations." If you do not fill out these forms, your organization can be dissolved by the state.
Establish an accounting system to maintain tax compliance, to assist in management of the organization, and to establish a general trend to provide long-range planning for the organization and its resources.
Animal acts and exhibits run a deplorable gamut. They include diving horses at theme parks, dancing chimpanzees, caged bears at an ice cream stand, piano-playing chickens, caged parrots in hotel lobbies, cats forced through flaming hoops, and giant turtles forced to give children rides.
Animals used in these spectacles are often subjected to abuse in order to provide "entertainment" to patrons. Even under the best of circumstances, captivity can be hell for animals meant to roam free. Kept in small, barren cages, forced to sleep on concrete slabs, and imprisoned behind iron bars, performing animals often suffer from malnutrition, loneliness, the denial of all normal pleasures and behaviors, loss of freedom and independence, even lack of veterinary care, and filthy quarters. Attracting customers is the first consideration and the animals' welfare is often the last. Even when the mere display of the animals themselves is the "draw," the animals rarely receive proper care--and almost never the socialization and stimulation they crave.
Animals used for entertainment are subjected to rigorous and abusive training methods to force them to perform stressful, confusing, uncomfortable, and even painful acts; training methods can include beatings, the use of electric prods, food deprivation, drugging and surgically removing or impairing teeth and claws.
Confined to tiny cages and gawked at by crowds, animals in exhibits and acts endure constant stress. They may suffer from temperature extremes and irregular feeding and watering. Without exercise, they become listless, their immune systems are weakened, and they become prone to sickness; many resort to self-mutilation in reaction to stress or boredom. Mental illness is rampant among confined animals. Torn from their families and deprived of all dignity, every part of their lives is controlled by their captors.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Refrain from patronizing animal entertainment businesses. Educate others on the issue and encourage them to boycott the industry. Urge your local government to ban animal entertainment in your community.
The best way to persuade others to adopt humane and responsible lifestyles is to set a good example. Think realistically about how you're going to fit environmental and animal activism into your life. You may have a full-time job and may have to juggle time with family and friends. Can you re-plan your schedule or transfer some duties to a coworker, spouse, or someone else to allow yourself time to focus on animal and environmental activities? Maybe you can incorporate some animal and environmental work into the church, office, family or political activities you're already involved in. You do not want to overextend yourself in a blaze of glory, only to burn out in six months. Think carefully about how you're going to schedule activism into your daily routine so that it will become a part of your life and not an intrusion.
PICK YOUR PASSION
Figure out what earth and animal issue(s) you are most passionate about. Passion often comes from a sudden realization that changes your life forever. Once the realization hits you, it is what will stoke the embers of your earth and animal activism, even at the lowest points when you sometimes feel like giving up. Once you are aware of something in the world that you believe needs changed, that awareness will motivate you constantly and cause you to see the need everywhere, bringing a sense of responsibility with it.
As you read and learn more about animal and environmental issues, start choosing the ones that mean the most to you. The issues are so widespread you cannot possibly address all of them. You can focus on projects that will help the greatest number of animals, such as those involving animals used in laboratories or saving the animals of the rainforests, or that will help change the fundamental attitudes of large numbers of people. Or you can focus on specific issues or animal cruelty cases.
You do not need to "know it all" to start getting active, but before you can educate others effectively you need to know some basic facts. Visit your local library and bookstores for books and videos on the issues that interest you, and research your issues online. Become familiar with the people and facilities in your area. You'll want to be able to make ethical recommendations to people who may come to you with questions in the future. As you compile facts, resources, and other materials, keep your information organized. File important or useful information according to the issues they concern. Keep the names and addresses of good veterinarians, shelters, low-cost spay/neuter programs and wildlife rescue services for easy reference.
Research existing efforts. Your chosen cause likely already has action taking place at the local, regional, national or international level. Find out what activism is already taking place, and where you fit in. See if you can liaise with existing efforts and consider how you will join in or bolster existing efforts independently. Ask yourself these questions: Do you want to volunteer with or join the board of an existing group? Do you want to find a paid job with an earth or animal activist organization? If you're working at the local level, does a national organization have resources you can use? Where you find no existing efforts, avoid seeing this as a mammoth task of insurmountable proportions. Instead, break it down into small pieces. Aim to get other like-minded people on board. This is easier now than ever before with modern communication tools such as the internet.
Also educate yourself about activism. One of the most inspiring and helpful means for getting more deeply involved in activism is to read broadly in the field of activism. In particular, seek out books written by prominent activists who share wisdom derived from personal experience. Then, read widely within the cause itself, to both understand the issues clearly and to learn about the tactics, ideas, experiences, wins and losses and other useful information from those who have already been active in this cause.
The point of environmental and animal activism is to educate, raise awareness and make people passionate about an issue. Though you can do some of this on your own, especially through the internet, the news media is an invaluable tool when used well. Get in touch with folks who know how to craft press releases, write an editorial and contact the press.
Know the legislative, administrative and judicial processes of your country and/or region. Research your city, county and state environmental and animal laws. Knowing how to effect change to laws and how to make the most of the legislative system is important for every activist.
DETERMINE WHAT YOU CAN DO
Figure out what you can do for your chosen cause. Whether your cause is animal rights, the environment, wildlife issues, the local community garden, or the global economic system, it's important to have specific ideas about how you can contribute. Figure out which skills and resources you can devote to the cause, and how much time you want to dedicate.
While it is great to think big, it's also important to think small and gradual. Incremental change can be as important, and often more enduring, than massive change that happens quickly and disrupts people in a major way. Think through all the possibilities for slowly unleashing change through your school, workplace, community, town, region, country or the world. Decide whether you're a radical activist or a reformer activist. The radical activist is someone who needs to continue pushing for fundamental change and will use such means as protests, boycotts, alternative summits, etc., and generally tends to be wary of those people who sit in the institutions they want changed. A reformist is happy to work with those in the institutions they'd like to see changed, using tools of democracy to work within the existing structure to force social or political progress.
CHOOSE YOUR COURSE OF ACTION
Choose your method of activism. While activism can take hundreds of forms, approach this as being about utilizing your own talents and resources as best you can. You are in the best position to decide how you can achieve your goals as an earth and animal activist, along with the time frame, and whether or not you go it alone.
Do you want to work solo? Being an individual activist is easier now than ever, as you can use forums, videos, photos, websites, blogs, social networking and even advertising to get your message across. On the downside, being the only person working on the issue can be lonely, and it's a lot of work. Sometimes it may cause you to question whether you're on the right track or whether it's worth pursuing.
Do you want to work with others? You could join an existing group or start your own and request collaborators. One of the advantages of being part of a group is the extended power, resources, networks and passion involved. You may also want to collaborate loosely without putting together a permanent structure, for example by inviting collaborators to post on a group blog or a biannual zine.
Would you like to contribute to your cause through writing, teaching, speaking, planning events or art? Or perhaps you're great with website building, blogging or podcasts? Assess your talents realistically, along with the time and resources you have available.
Be willing to put in the work without immediate rewards. In many cases earth and animal activists work for years on a project without seeing the major change they want to bring about. Laws, social norms and other factors can make it very difficult to enact immediate change. It is wise to understand the possibility that during your lifetime you could be paving the way for eventual change, but you may not see it actually occur. Understanding this can help alleviate a sense of frustration, doom and resentment about your cause.
BEGIN TO SPEAK OUT
Speak up about your opinions. Environmental and animal activism starts with the everyday conversations you have with friends, your family and new people you meet. When you're passionate about something, it's hard to stop talking about it, so express yourself freely and engage people in serious conversations about your cause. Aim to educate people and help them get involved.
Be bold. Don't hesitate to walk up to the girl reading an animal magazine in the coffee shop–she might be looking for the group you're starting. But don't force your opinions on people who are averse to hearing them. After you've made your point, people might need time to digest what they've learned. Don't expect everyone to hop on board with your cause right away. Plant a seed and hope it grows.
GROW YOUR CAUSE
Once you've learned the ropes of being an earth and animal activist, you might want to start your own group and become an organizer. Doing outreach on your own is a great way to help the earth and animals, but forming a local group can increase your effectiveness and your clout. The media, the government, and the public will often give more serious consideration to the views of a group.
You will need to gather committed people together and create a solid plan of action. Decide from the beginning what your goal is: Do you want to stage a variety of actions to achieve a particular achievable goal, and then disband when it's achieved? Do you want to form a permanent group that works on different projects surrounding a particular topic? Or do you only want to work together for a single action, for example to coordinate a protest or fundraising effort?
Call your first meeting and discuss tactics. At this meeting, you should decide who will be responsible for which tasks, what your group’s goals are, and how often you want to meet. Be open to new ideas, and encourage people to express themselves.
Put your goals in writing and sketch out a basic plan that highlights what you need, what you want to achieve and some of the big steps that will be necessary to achieve your goals. Consider creating a website or social media page to keep track of your group's goals and members. If you want the group to stay together for a long time, you'll need a good name. Register your name with your local, state and federal governments to establish a unique identity.
Hold regular meetings to enable you to track your goals and coordinate everyone's efforts towards the common project. Set meeting dates well in advance and publicize them widely. Make sure you have a location reserved in advance, whether it's a physical place or a virtual meeting technology like conference calls or a chat room. Possible meeting locations include classrooms, the public library, someone's house, the park, municipal/community building, teen center, community center, coffee shop/cafe, church hall, etc.
If many people are involved in your group or have signed on as temporary volunteers, it may be helpful to form subcommittees. These can be useful for large groups that are doing multiple projects or staging multiple actions with the same goal. Here are some examples of subcommittees that you might need:
Public Relations: This subcommittee does all of the canvassing, handles advertising, books tables, creates banners and posters, and serves as a press contact to drum up media attention.
Outreach: This subcommittee liaises with other organizations, local businesses and anyone that might be able to support your cause through advertising, funding, in-kind donations of space or food, etc.
Logistics: This subcommittee takes care of all practical matters such as scheduling, booking performers, finding needed equipment and services, getting necessary permits, arranging for parking, taking care of food, etc.
Financial: This subcommittee keeps track of the budget and makes sure everything runs smoothly where money is concerned. Tasks include creating a budget, paying performers and service providers, setting any event prices, arranging for donations and identifying pre-event fundraising needs.
Learn how to message effectively. One thing that distresses time-poor, financially-tight, and already overworked people is being told that what they are doing is wrong. This kind of messaging is bound to make people bite the messenger and turn away from the message. As such, while maintaining your passion, also maintain a sense of courtesy, respect and a basic understanding of motivational psychology. In a nutshell, nobody likes being told that how they're living is wrong and surely you don't either. Instead, focus on enlightening people about societal and individual practices that have outlived their usefulness and provide alternatives that are realistic and obtainable. Have an affirmative vision, one that shows what you are for, not just what you're against. Remember that fear is at the heart of much resistance. Fear of job loss and lifestyle downgrading are two particular fears that drive much resistance to activist messaging. If you're not offering alternatives that are viable, doable and respecting of the people who may be impacted, don't be surprised if they resent your call for change.
Create a whole vision rather than a piecemeal one. How do you envisage a future in which the changes you are advocating for have happened? Paint that vision for everyone and let them imagine themselves in it. Make plans for the future. A good activist thinks into the future, imagining life after the goals have been met. What happens next? Will the change you bring about need constant maintenance? Or will it be self-sustainable? Thinking about this in advance may well change your tactics if you're concerned that just creating change isn't enough.
Learn how to raise money. Though you can do activism on your own dime, there are few kinds of activism that don't require money. Artists need supplies, bloggers need hosting plans, lone protesters need signs. Some forms of activism might even attract grant money, if you know how to write a proposal. Consider using merchandise for additional fundraising. You can sell t-shirts, host a bake sale, or sell related books on the issue you're addressing.
Strong organization from the top down (or the bottom up) will ensure that everything runs smoothly. Don't forget to document your steps, adjust your plans as time goes by and communicate frequently.
When working with others, consider the needs of the group. Be willing to compromise on the details, if not on your core values.
SPREAD YOUR MESSAGE
Leafleting is one of the best ways to educate people about earth and animal issues. It’s not only easy but also effective! Put the right information in the right hands and minds are changed. Create a flyer containing essential information about your cause, the name of your organization, the time and date you meet and anything else you want people to know. Hang the flyers around school, the neighborhood, community bulletin boards, inside coffee shops or cafes. In addition to flyers, you can pass out buttons, postcards, bumper stickers or other materials to help spread the word about what you're doing. These items are available from established organizations, or you can create your own. As you pass out your materials, be willing to answer people's questions and get into discussions about your cause.
Tabling—or setting up a table with resources about earth and animal issues—is an effective way to engage the public and provide information about environmental and animal issues. See if you can rent a table or setup a table for free in a school, university or somewhere local like outside of the supermarket or in the park. Have a sign-up list, information about your organization and colorful posters to attract people. Having free stuff to hand out, like stickers or bumper stickers, attracts people to your table. Be ready to educate people who stop and want to learn more about environmental and animal issues. By educating yourself on the issues before you go, you’ll be ensuring that answering questions will be a snap. Use the literature on your table to supplement your answers. The issues facing the earth and animals are deep and complex, so don’t worry if you don’t know the answer to a tough question. Simply get the person’s contact information and offer to have someone get back to him or her.
Sponsor a speaker in your community. Get in touch with someone of note who is working for the same cause. An author, a professor, the head of a nonprofit or an activist musician are all good choices. Make plans to host the speaker at a local community event space, then publicize the event using flyers, advertising and social media. A local school or university, a bookstore, a concert venue or a community center are all good places to host a speaker. Be sure to have literature to hand out at the event, and provide a sign-up sheet to get people's email addresses so you can let them know about the next event you organize.
Holding a demonstration is a fun, effective and easy way to alert people to earth and animal issues. It’s one of the easiest ways to reach a lot of people, and if your event is covered by the media, you have the potential to reach thousands more. Decide what form of demonstration to hold. Choose where it will take place. Get people interested and signed up. Get permission from the relevant people, whether that is local councils or a particular body like a university. Get the necessary permits if required. Talk to the media to get the word out to get people to come to the demonstration. Appoint a group of volunteers that will help manage the event. Make posters, flyers, visual aids or pamphlets to help spread your message and communicate your concerns to others. On the demonstration day, make sure everyone remains calm and demonstrates peacefully and respectfully. Hold your signs so they can be read easily (and you aren’t hiding your faces) and ask people to refrain from talking on the phone or texting. Have the majority of the people holding signs and waving at cars but have a select group handing out leaflets to people who are passing by. Remember to smile and be polite. You’ll change more people’s minds by being respectful and having engaged conversations, as opposed to yelling at them or intimidating them. If the police do arrive, calmly tell them that you already have your permit (or that you were told you didn’t need one). After the demo, remember to collect all your materials so that there isn’t any litter and get everyone’s contact information for future events.
Work with the media to spread your message. Make a database of key media outlets in your area. Start locally, then expand the list to regional and even national media. Include newspapers, television programs, websites and radio stations. Introduce yourself to local reporters and give them a copy of all your publications and a free ticket to any events you organize. Pitch story ideas as they come up pertaining to a relevant and timely issue with a human interest angle in mind. Make time for reporters and be accessible. Don't be afraid to give out your cell phone number. If a reporter cannot reach you with one phone call, he most likely will move on to an alternative source for his story. Be accurate, trustworthy and prepared. When a reporter asks a question, she wants an immediate answer. If there's no way you can answer immediately, ask the reporter when her deadline is. Be sure to get back to her as soon as possible. Send press kits or releases to a specific contact at a news organization. Press kits and releases are not as effective as making a call to a reporter, but they are a good way to send background information on your agency. Include your business card so reporters can keep your contact information on file. Thank reporters when you are satisfied with the stories they write. Reporters rarely receive praise.
NOT EVERYONE WILL AGREE WITH YOUR CAUSE
Expect to encounter dissent. Change worries most people and can cause them to react in ways that are not always considerate or constructive. It's not uncommon for an activist promoting a cause to deal with varying levels of negativity. The important thing is to brace yourself and stay strong in the face of people who disagree with you.
If you experience dissent from people within the cause, it is good to self-question and examine their reasons more closely. See if they actually have a point and seek to re-examine your approach in the light of their dissent. This doesn't necessarily mean you need to change your approach, but it does mean that keeping an open mind will ultimately make your cause stronger.
Dissent from outside the cause is to be expected. You're challenging the status quo. You will go through many experiences, including having people question your knowledge/authority/facts/respect and even your sanity on occasion. Keep calm and keep a level head. Some of the dissent will be obvious stalling, spin and covering-up tactics. Other times it will be more subtle, malicious and harmful. Know when to respond and when to keep quiet, and know when to bring your lawyer in. If you feel threatened in any way, get local authorities involved.
Don't work yourself to exhaustion. Earth and animal activists commonly experience burnout, especially when loads of passionate work don't translate into tangible change. When you're tired, worn out, and at your wit's end, that's when activism can turn negative. Take good care of yourself to prevent this from happening, since you won't be as powerful if you're feeling exhausted and bitter. Get plenty of rest. Take breaks from your activism and refresh your thoughts about where it's headed. If you find yourself feeling bitter about other people's lack of passion, take this as a warning sign to pull back and reassess your direction and purpose. Expect down times. Sometimes it will feel as if things are stagnating. Anything to do with progress meets such plateaus; knowing to expect them and learning how to ride them out is important. Break through the stagnant times by making new associations and recombining your existing approaches with new ones.
Be creative! Animal and environmental activism doesn't have to involve large events. Bloggers can be activists through their writing, teachers can be activists by encouraging students to challenge their beliefs, artists can leave guerrilla activist art around town, computer-savvy folks can arrange an e-zine, etc.
The trophy hunting industry is driven by demand, and sadly, demand for animal trophies is prevalent worldwide. Even in the face of extinction, imperiled species are still being hunted every day in order to serve as the centerpiece of someone’s décor. It is unconscionable in this modern day when species are under so many threats to survive.
Killing For Trophies: An Analysis of Global Trophy Hunting Trade is a report that provides an in-depth look at the scope and scale of trophy hunting trade and isolates the largest importers of animal trophies worldwide.
The result of a comprehensive analysis of the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Trade Database, the report found that as many as 1.7 million hunting trophies may had been traded between nations during a ten year period, with at least 200,000 of that being made up of categories of species, also known as taxa, that are considered threatened.
Research found that 107 different nations (comprised of 104 importing nations and 106 exporting nations) participated in trophy hunting in one decade, with the top twenty countries responsible for 97 percent of trophy imports. The United States accounted for a staggering 71 percent of the import demand, or about 15 times more than the next highest nation on the list—Germany and Spain (both 5 percent).
Of the top 20 importing countries, most of the trophies were killed and imported from Canada (35 percent), South Africa (23 percent) and Namibia (11 percent), with the largest number of threatened taxa coming from Canada to the U.S., followed by African nations to the U.S.
Three of the four threatened taxa from the highly-prized species known as the “Africa Big Five” (African elephant, African leopard, and African lion) are among the top six most traded of imperiled taxa. African lions in particular had the strongest statistically significant increase of trophy hunting trade, with at least 11,000 lion trophies being traded worldwide in only 9 years.
Other big five species also remain popular with trophy hunters, with over 10,000 elephant trophies and over 10,000 leopard trophies being legally traded worldwide in one decade. Like African lions, elephant trophy hunting trade has increased significantly.
You can get great exposure for earth and animal issues by writing letters to the editors of newspapers or magazines, writing letters to businesses and writing letters to legislators. Use your clout as a consumer to protest companies that exploit the environment and animals. While everyone is good at complaining about politics to their friends, too few citizens express their opinions to those who can do something about it: legislators.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
By writing letters to the editors of newspapers or magazines, not only will you be reaching thousands of readers, you will also be bringing your concerns to the attention of policymakers who often refer to the opinion pages to learn what issues really matter to the public.
Read local papers and magazines to get ideas for letters. Watch for articles, ads or letters that mention earth and animal issues.
Letters don’t have to be rebuttals. Let people know how you feel. Write on good news as well as bad. Thank the paper for its coverage of earth and animal issues.
Be brief. Sometimes one paragraph is enough. Three hundred words is the maximum length that most papers or magazines will allow without cutting, and it’s better for you to do the cutting than for the editor to do it. The ideal length is 100 to 150 words (10 to 15 typed lines).
Type if possible. Otherwise, print legibly. Be sure to use correct grammar and spelling, and remember to have your letter proofread by someone with good language skills.
Make the first sentence catchy to get the readers’ attention, and stick to one issue. The letter should be timely. If you’re responding to an article, send it no more than three days after the article was published.
Make sure you include your name, address and telephone number in your letter. Some newspapers verify authorship before printing letters.
Don’t just send letters to the biggest paper in town. The smaller the paper, the better the chances of getting your letter printed. Small weekly papers can help you reach hundreds or even thousands of people. Occasionally, you may have the chance to write an opinion piece for the local paper, especially if you are involved in a controversial campaign. These are longer articles of 500 to 800 words that summarize an issue, develop an argument, and propose a solution. Send the article to the editorial page editor with a cover letter explaining why it should be printed. The opinion piece has a better chance of getting printed if it is signed by someone prominent, even if you wrote it for him or her.
You can also write (or call) television and radio stations to bring attention to earth and animal issues or to compliment them on programs that promote environmental and animal issues.
Increase your credibility by mentioning anything that makes you especially qualified to write on a topic. Try to tell readers something they’re not likely to know and suggest ways to take action. Include something for readers to do. Keep personal grudges and name-calling out of letters; they’ll hurt your credibility.
Speak affirmatively. Avoid self-righteous language and exaggeration. Don’t assume your audience knows the issues. Use positive suggestions rather than negative commands. Personalize your writing with anecdotes and visual images.
Avoid speciesist language. Instead of referring to an animal with an inanimate pronoun (“it” or “which”), use “she” or “he” and “who.” Avoid euphemisms; say what you really mean. Criticize the cruelty, not the newspaper.
LETTERS TO BUSINESSES
Send letters to companies that exploit the environment and animals. Tell cosmetics manufacturers that you will purchase other brands until they stop testing on animals, or tell a store that you won’t shop there until it stops carrying live animals—and explain why.
LETTERS TO LEGISLATORS
Constituent input really does make a difference. If you don’t communicate with the officials representing you, who will? You’re probably not going to single-handedly convince your legislators, but many legislators share your objectives and just need to be convinced that there is sufficient public support before putting their necks on the line.
Find out who your federal and state representatives are. Identify yourself as a concerned citizen, not as a member of an organization; legislators want to get feedback from their constituents, not lobbyists. Keep letters brief—no more than one page. If you’re writing about a specific bill, mention in the first paragraph the bill’s name (and number if you know it) and whether you support or oppose it. Include reasons and supporting data in the next paragraph or two. Conclude by asking for a response.
Focus on a specific topic. Don’t ask the legislator just to “support animals and the environment.” Very few legislators vote in favor of all earth and animal protection bills, because different issues are at stake with each one. Be polite and concise. Keep everything relevant to the bill or issue in question. Never be threatening or insulting. Remember, each letter pertaining to a particular piece of legislation is usually counted as a “yes” or “no.”
Don’t get overwhelmed by the project. Just get those letters written and in the mail. As few as 10 letters on any one topic can sway a legislator’s vote. Several hours of letter writing every month can make a big impact. And don’t be discouraged if you receive unfavorable responses; the more we communicate with public officials, the sooner they’ll change their positions.
There are many ways you can help to conserve important animals across the globe. Here are a few examples of things you can do to help support international conservation efforts:
Volunteer! Many conservation organizations depend on volunteers in your country and abroad. Do a web search to find an organization near you.
If you can't volunteer, donate. Wildlife conservation organizations require funding to carry out their critical missions of saving animals.
Wild animals do not make good “pets”, and it is illegal to buy endangered species. Wild animal belong in the wild. Rescue a companion animal from a shelter.
Learn more about threatened and endangered species and tell your friends! Lesser known species do not receive as much support as other more well-known species.
Read your labels! Palm oil plantations and animal agribusinesses are contributing to massive habitat loss around the world. Valuable forests and other ecosystems are being cleared at alarming rates. If palm oil is in your product, read the label to check if it was sustainably grown.
Be a conscious shopper when abroad. When you travel, it is important to think about what you are buying. When purchasing souvenirs or gifts for family and friends, think about where that item might have come from. Does it contain wildlife products? One of the main ways to limit the wildlife trade is to stop the demand for wildlife products. If you don’t know, don’t buy!
Be an eco-tourist and travel green. Eco-tourists are able to experience species in their natural habitat while supporting local livelihoods and conservation efforts. Sustainable and humane travel practices allow visitors to experience nature while limiting human impacts on wildlife.
Don't patronize zoos, circuses, aquariums and other forms of animal entertainment. Imprisoning wild animals for profit and human entertainment is cruel and unethical.
Buy local products and support the local economy. Support local communities’ livelihoods by purchasing unique, handcrafted goods that do not contain animal products.
If you see suspicious products, speak up. If abroad and you think you see wildlife or products derived from wildlife traded or sold illegally, let the local police or your hotel management know. If possible, warn fellow travelers in the same area.
Don't buy wildlife products, whether they are legal or illegal.
Reduce or eliminate all animal product purchases. Animal agriculture is the leading cause of deforestation, habitat loss and greenhouse gases – which are the leading causes of species extinction. Make the connection.
While some claim the manatee is ugly, with ‘a face only a mother could love,’ most people seem drawn to this fascinating marine creature. Whether it’s their sad, puppy-like demeanor, or their sluggish, gentle manner, something about manatees is awfully endearing.
The manatee, or sea cow, is an aquatic mammal. With a round cylindrical body, they can measure from 8 to 13 feet from tail to head. Weights can vary from 450 lbs for the smallest species to 1,300 lbs for the larger ones. Some can even grow up to 3,000 lbs.
Primarily herbivorous, manatees spend up to eight hours each day quietly grazing on seagrasses and other aquatic plants, though they will occasionally feed on fish.
Manatees surface for air about once every five minutes, but can remain submerged for up to twenty minutes when they are resting. Their lungs are positioned along the backbone, which helps with buoyancy control. They swim by waving their wide paddle tails up and down, and because they do not possess the neck vertebra that most other mammals have, they must turn their entire bodies to look around.
Manatees can hear quite well, at least at high frequencies. This is likely an adaptation to shallow water living, where low frequency sounds aren’t transmitted well because of physical barriers. Their inability to hear the low frequency churning of an approaching boat might explain why manatees are susceptible to injury by boat propellers, a top reason for the decline in their populations.
West Indian Manatee
West Indian manatees are the largest of the three main manatee species. They are gray in color, have a whale-like body, and a tail that is shaped like a paddle. This species of manatee is mostly found in the waters of the Caribbean Sea and south-eastern fringes of the US, especially the coastal areas of Florida and Georgia where they prefer to wade in warm shallow waters. They also occur in Texas, Mexico, Puerto Rico and elsewhere in the Caribbean. This species takes in a daily diet of sea weeds and plants, up to 10-15 percent of their body weight.
West Indian manatees were listed as endangered in 1967 concurrent with the creation of the Endangered Species Conservation Act, an act that pre-dated the federal Endangered Species Act of 1973. Accidental collisions with boats are the primary cause of death for these shallow water-inhabiting animals, followed by low reproductive rates and a decline in suitable habitat. Another important threat is loss of reliable warm water habitats that allow manatees to survive the cold in winter. Natural springs are threatened by increased demands for water supply. Deregulation of the power industry may also result in less reliable man-made sources of warm water. Seagrass and other aquatic foods that manatees depend on are affected by water pollution, and sometimes direct destruction.
The Amazonian manatee can reach up to 9 feet in length and weigh up to 500 lbs. It is the smallest of the tree species. This species of manatee is basically a fresh water creature found in the upper reaches of the Amazon river and its tributaries that span the countries of Brazil, Guyana, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. Water lettuce and hyacinth are their main diet, requiring 8 percent of their body weight daily. They have a flat and elongated rear and a hippo-like snout, both characteristics that make the Amazonian manatee an unusual looking animal.
Although hunting of the Amazon manatee was banned in 1974, there seems to be no end to the poaching of the animal. It's still being hunted down for its meat and oil. Massive deforestation of the Amazon basin, and mining for gold, has led to the habitat of the manatee considerably shrinking over the decades. Once found all over the huge Amazon basin area, it is a rare sight nowadays – leading conservationists to believe that it could become extinct.
West African Manatee
Of all the three species of manatee, the West African is the one few people have heard of. They dwell all along the coastline of West Africa, especially in the shallow and warm waters of estuaries and lagoons flowing into the Atlantic. The country-wise distribution of their habitat is Angola, Benin, Cameroon, Congo, Ivory Coast, Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, Gabon, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal, Togo and Sierra Leone. The preferred daily diet of this species is the leaves of the low overhanging trees of the extensive mangrove forests abounding the mouth-waters of the massive Niger river and Congo river deltas.
For the West African manatee, the threats are similar to its Amazonian cousin in the sense that its meat fetches a considerable price in the markets. In many places it is openly displayed for sale. It is also poached for sale to zoos and aquariums of private collectors. Rapid agricultural and urban expansion, massive and unhindered exploration for oil in Nigerian delta waters, and extreme congestion of vessels and boats in shallow waters are serious threats to the habitat of the African manatee. Fishing equipment, such as large nets, are also a threat. Manatees trapped inside them are killed by the fishermen before they can cause considerable damage to the nets. Natural occurrences, like shifting tides and eddies, are also threats as manatees are shallow-water creatures. Like the Amazonian manatee, their numbers are dwindling.
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) enforces controls on the export of the West African manatee. Hunting of the animal is now banned in almost all the countries of its habitat. In countries like Côte d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Guinea-Bissau and Senegal, conservation programs have seen areas being demarcated as protected zones for the manatees. Conservation organizations are also making an effort to educate the populace in these regions about the manatee.
Fight For Survival
Manatee conservation and recovery involves many partners from government and industry, as well as many citizens. Great strides have been made in the protection and recovery of the manatee. Numerous manatee speed zones have been established. Many sick and injured manatees are rescued every year. These animals are often rehabilitated and returned to the wild. Recommendations and actions to prevent manatee deaths related to water-control structures and navigation locks have included modification of gate openings and installation of pressure sensitive and acoustic devices on some of the most deadly locks. All efforts to reduce water pollution help to maintain and restore aquatic vegetation. Extensive manatee conservation education work has been conducted by federal, state and private entities.
The West Indian manatees are now doing comparatively better than their Amazonian and African counterparts. However, there is much left to be done to secure their future. This will require the cooperation and support of everyone: government, orgainzations, the private sector and boaters.
Rotors of fast-moving water crafts once took many lives each year. Thanks to awareness and dissemination of information concerning the safety of the sea mammals, such mishaps have been reduced considerably. But areas where watercraft-related injury and mortality continue to occur have almost no protective measures for manatees.
Warm water wintering sites need to be secured. Important spring flows must be maintained. We must ensure that aquatic vegetation is adequate to support a recovered population.
Red tide, a natural occurrence in the Gulf of Mexico, is another threat to the manatee. Exposure to toxic algal bloom created by the red tide can be lethal to manatees. Scientists are investigating links between the run-off of wastes into the sea and the red tide phenomena.
The great news for these likeable creatures and their enthusiasts is that their count has increased five-fold within a decade and half. In 1991, a count of the West Indian manatees around Florida found just 1,267 inhabiting the area. The number has increased to an astonishing 6,250. The West Indian species is finally out of the list of endangered animals.
Although the struggle will be uphill, one can only hope that similar efforts are made to wean away the Amazonian and West African manatee from the path of extinction and put them in one that leads to multiplication of their numbers.
There's little doubt anymore that vegetarianism is going mainstream. Millions of people are vegetarians, and thousands more make the switch to a meat-free diet every week. Many others have greatly reduced the amount of animal products they eat.
Many people eliminate animal foods from their diet because of health concerns. In study after study, the consumption of animal foods has been linked with heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, arthritis and other illnesses. One reason may be because animals are routinely given growth hormones, antibiotics, and even pesticides, which remain in their flesh and are passed on to meat-eaters.
Other people become vegetarians out of concern for animal welfare. On today's factory farms, animals often spend their entire lives confined to cages or stalls barely larger than their own bodies. Death for these animals doesn't always come quickly or painlessly. Billions of animals are killed for food in the United States alone.
Reducing health risks and eliminating animal suffering are just two reasons to go vegetarian; adopting a plant-based diet can also help protect the environment and feed the hungry. Factory farms produce billions of tons of animal waste. The waste produced in a single year would fill 6.7 million train box cars, enough to circle the Earth 12 1/2 times. Unfortunately much of this waste ends up in our rivers and streams, polluting waterways more than all industrial sources combined.
Raising animals for food is also taking its toll on the world's forests. Since 1960, more than one-quarter of the rain forests in Central America have been destroyed to create cattle pastures. Of the Amazonian rain forest cleared in South America, more than 38 percent has been used for ranching. Rain forests are vital to the survival of the planet because they are the Earth's primary source of oxygen. And scientists are increasingly exploring the use of rain-forest plants in medications to treat and cure human diseases.
Veganism takes vegetarianism beyond the diet. A vegan (pronounced Vee-g'n) is someone who tries to live without exploiting animals, for the benefit of animals, people and the planet. A vegan does not eat any animal food products, avoids wearing animal-derived products and does not purchase toiletries, cosmetics and cleaning products that have been tested on animals or contain animal based ingredients. They also refrain form supporting animal entertainment and other industries that exploit animals. Instead, vegans choose from thousands of animal-free foods, products and entertainment.
Veganism is a philosophy, not a diet. This philosophy is the belief in the right of all sentient beings to be treated with respect, not as property, and to be allowed to live their lives.
A balanced vegan diet (also referred to as a ‘plant-based diet’) meets many current healthy eating recommendations such as eating more fruit, vegetables and whole grains and consuming less cholesterol and saturated fat. Balanced vegan diets are often rich in vitamins, antioxidants and fiber and can decrease the chances of suffering from diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke and some cancers. Well-planned plant-based diets are suitable for all age groups and stages of life.
Many people become vegan through concern of the way farmed animals are treated. Some object to the unnecessary ‘use’ and killing of animals – unnecessary as we do not need animal products in order to feed or clothe ourselves. Public awareness of the conditions of factory-farmed animals is gradually increasing and it is becoming more and more difficult to claim not to have at least some knowledge of the treatment they endure. Sentient, intelligent animals are often kept in cramped and filthy conditions where they cannot move around or perform their natural behaviors. At the same time, many suffer serious health problems and even death because they are selectively bred to grow or produce milk or eggs at a far greater rate than their bodies are capable of coping with.
Regardless of how they were raised, all animals farmed for food meet the same fate at the slaughterhouse. This includes the millions of calves and male chicks who are killed every year as ‘waste products’ of milk and egg production and the animals farmed for their milk and eggs who are killed at a fraction of their natural lifespan. Choosing a vegan diet is a daily demonstration of compassion for all these creatures.
Vegans also help the planet. Plant-based diets only require around one third of the land and water needed to produce a typical Western diet. Farmed animals consume much more protein, water and calories than they produce, so far greater quantities of crops and water are needed to produce animal ‘products’ to feed humans than are needed to feed people direct on a plant-based diet. With water and land becoming scarcer globally, world hunger increasing and the planet’s population rising, it is much more sustainable to eat plant foods direct than use up precious resources feeding farmed animals. Farming animals and growing their feed also contributes to other environmental problems such as deforestation, water pollution and land degradation.
Choosing to live a life free from animal products means choosing a path that is kinder to people, animals and the environment.
VEGANS & PROTEIN
Can the vegan (strict vegetarian) diet provide protein adequate for sound human health? This question continues to be asked despite the fact that a "yes" answer was given some three decades ago in a study reported by Hardinge and Stare. The question stays with us largely because animal products (meat, milk, cheese, and eggs) have been promoted (usually by the industries that produce and sell them) as the best source of protein. This dietary assumption is wrong and can even be harmful, as a quick study of the facts about vegetable protein and nutrition shows.
Protein is essential to human health. In fact, our bodies -- hair, muscles, fingernails, and so on -- are made up mostly of protein. As suggested by the differences between our muscles and our fingernails, not all proteins are alike. This is because differing combinations of any number of 22 known amino acids may constitute a protein. (In much the same way that the 26 letters of our alphabet serve to form different words, the 22 amino acids serve to form different proteins.)
Amino acids are a fundamental part of our diet. While most of the 22 can be manufactured in one way or another by the human body, eight (or, for some people, 10) cannot. These "essential amino acids" can easily be provided by a balanced vegan diet.
Non-animal foods can easily provide us with the necessary protein. Despite the claims of the meat and dairy industries, only 2.5-10 percent of the total calories consumed by the average human being needs to be in the form of protein. The rule of thumb used by the National Academy of Sciences Food and Nutrition Board is .57 grams of protein for every kilogram (2.2 pounds) of body weight. People under special circumstances (such as pregnant women) are advised to get a little more. Vegans should not worry about getting enough protein; if you eat a reasonably varied diet and ingest sufficient calories, you will undoubtedly get enough protein.
Eating too much protein can result in osteoporosis and kidney stones. Meat and dairy products raise the acid level in human blood, causing calcium to be excreted from the bones to restore the body's natural pH balance. This calcium depletion results in osteoporosis, or weakening of the bones. The excreted calcium ends up in the kidneys, where it often forms painful stones. Kidney disease is far more common in meat-eaters than in vegans, and excessive protein consumption has also been linked to cancer of the colon, breast, prostate, and pancreas. By replacing animal protein with vegetable protein, you can improve your health while enjoying a wide variety of delicious foods.
While just about every vegetarian food contains some protein, the soybean deserves special mention, for it contains all eight essential amino acids and surpasses all other food plants in the amount of protein it can deliver to the human system. In this regard it is nearly equal to meat. The human body uses about 70 percent of the protein found in meat and 60 to 65 percent of that found in soybeans. The many different and delicious soy products (tempeh, soy "hot dogs," "burgers," Tofutti brand "ice cream," and tofu) available in health and grocery stores suggest that the soybean, in its many forms, can accommodate a wide range of tastes.
Other rich sources of non-animal protein include legumes, nuts, seeds, food yeasts and freshwater algae. Although food yeasts ("nutritional yeast" and "brewer's yeast") do not lend themselves to forming the center of one's diet, they are extremely nutritious additions to most menus (in soups, gravies, breads, casseroles, and dips). Most yeasts are 50 percent protein (while most meats are only 25 percent). Freshwater algae contains a phenomenal percentage of protein. One type is the deep green spirulina, a food that is 70 percent protein. It is available in tablets, powders, and even candy bars.
Protein deficiency need not be a concern for vegans. If we ate nothing but wheat, oatmeal, or potatoes, we would easily have more than enough protein. Eating nothing but cabbage would provide more than twice as much protein as anyone would need! Of course, an actual vegan would never want to be limited to just one food. The vegan diet can (and should) be full of a wide variety of delicious foods.
Most people have been taught that children must eat animal flesh and dairy products to grow up strong and healthy. The truth is that children raised as vegans, who consume no animal products, including meat, eggs, and dairy, can derive all the nutrients essential for optimum growth from plant-based sources.
Consider this: Many children raised on the "traditional" American diet of cholesterol and saturated fat-laden hamburgers, hot dogs, and pizza are already showing symptoms of heart disease -- the number one killer of adults -- by the time they reach first grade. One epidemiological study found significant levels of cholesterol and fat in the arteries of most children under the age of five. Children raised as vegans can be protected from this condition. They are less likely to suffer from childhood illnesses such as asthma, iron-deficiency anemia and diabetes, and will be less prone to ear infections and colic.
A vegan diet has other benefits, too. According to the Centers for Disease Control, there are more than 20,000 E. coli infections from meat every year in the United States. A vegan diet protects children from the pesticides, hormones and antibiotics that are fed to animals in huge amounts and concentrate in animals' fatty tissue and milk.
Nutritionists and physicians have learned that plant products are good sources of protein, iron, calcium, and vitamin D because they can be easily absorbed by the body and don't contain artery-clogging fat.
Protein--Contrary to popular opinion, the real concern about protein is that we will feed our children too much, not too little. Excess animal protein actually promotes the growth of tumors--and most people on a meat-based diet consume three to 10 times more protein than their bodies need! Children can get all the protein their bodies need from whole grains in the form of oats, brown rice, and pasta; from nuts and seeds, including spreads such as tahini and peanut butter; and legumes, including tofu, lentils, and beans.
Iron--Few parents know that some babies' intestines bleed after drinking cow's milk. This increases their risk of developing iron-deficiency anemia since the blood they're losing contains iron. Breast-fed infants under the age of one year get sufficient iron from mother's milk (and are less prone to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). Formula-fed babies should be fed a soy-based formula with added iron to minimize the risk of intestinal bleeding. Iron-rich foods such as raisins, almonds, dried apricots, blackstrap molasses and fortified grain cereals will meet the needs of toddlers and children 12 months and older. Vitamin C helps the body absorb iron, so foods rich in both, such as green, leafy vegetables are particularly valuable.
Calcium--Drinking cow's milk is one of the least effective ways to strengthen bones. Too much protein, such as the animal protein fed to children in dairy products, actually causes the body to lose calcium. In countries where calcium intake is low but where protein intake is also very low, osteoporosis is almost non-existent. Cornbread, broccoli, kale, tofu, dried figs, tahini, great northern beans and fortified orange juice and soy milk are all excellent sources of calcium. As with iron, vitamin C will help your child's system absorb calcium efficiently.
Vitamin D--This is not really a "vitamin" but a hormone our bodies manufacture when our skin is exposed to sunlight. Cow's milk does not naturally contain vitamin D; it's added later. Vitamin D-enriched soy milk provides this nutrient without the added animal fat. A child who spends as little as 15 minutes a day playing in the sunshine, with arms and face exposed, will get sufficient vitamin D.
Vitamin B-12--This essential vitamin once occurred naturally on the surfaces of potatoes, beets, and other root vegetables, but the move away from natural fertilizers has caused it to disappear from our soil. Any commercially available multivitamin will assure adequate B-12 for your child. B-12 is also found in nutritional yeast (not to be confused with brewer's or active dry yeast) and many fortified cereals.
Dangers of Dairy Products
Children do not need dairy products to grow up strong and healthy. The director of pediatrics at Johns Hopkins University, Dr. Frank Oski, says, "There's no reason to drink cow's milk at any time. It was designed for calves, it was not designed for humans, and we should all stop drinking it today, this afternoon." Dr. Benjamin Spock agrees that although milk is the ideal food for baby cows, it can be dangerous for human infants: "I want to pass the word to parents that cow's milk . . . has definite faults for some babies. It causes allergies, indigestion, and contributes to some cases of childhood diabetes."
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants under one year of age not be fed whole cow's milk. Dairy products are the leading cause of food allergies. In addition, more than two-thirds of Native Americans and people from Asian and Mexican ancestry and as many as 15 percent of Caucasians are lactose intolerant and suffer symptoms such as bloating, gas, cramps, vomiting, headaches, rashes or asthma. Many people become lactose intolerant after age four. For these people, animal proteins seep into the immune system and can result in chronic runny noses, sore throats, hoarseness, bronchitis and recurring ear infections.
Milk is suspected of triggering juvenile diabetes, a disease that causes blindness and other serious effects. Some children's bodies see cow's milk protein as a foreign substance and produce high levels of antibodies to fend off this "invader." These antibodies also destroy the cells which produce insulin in the pancreas, leading to diabetes.
An estimated 20 percent of U.S. dairy cows are infected with leukemia viruses that are resistant to killing by pasteurization. These viruses have been found in supermarket supplies of milk and dairy products. It may not be merely coincidence that the highest rates of leukemia are found in children ages 3-13, who consume the most dairy products.
We all know fruits and vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet, and a plant-based diet is good for the planet and its animals. But most people don’t eat enough of these healthy powerhouses. An easy way to make sure you’re getting enough of the good stuff is to find new ways to mix them into meals you already enjoy. And aim for making at least ½ your plate full of fruits and veggies.
Try increasing your fruits and vegetables by following these tips.
Getting More Out of Breakfast
Add fresh fruit to cereal, oatmeal, whole grain pancakes, or vegan waffles.
Getting More Out of Lunch
Add some vegetables to your veggie burger or tofu wrap, or have vegetable soup. Try adding chopped apples, pears, raisins, or other dried fruit to your salad. And don't forget beans—like black beans or chickpeas.
Getting More Out of Dinner
Steam or stir-fry some veggies to top off whole grain pasta or rice. Make shish-kabobs by putting vegetables on a skewer. Make a vegan pizza or sub with lots of veggies.
Getting More Out of Snacks
Blend fruits in a healthy smoothie. Cut up fruits and veggies and eat them with hummus or vegan peanut butter. Try a mix of unsalted nuts, raisins, or other dried fruit and your favorite whole grain cereal. Snack on popcorn or try some whole wheat, vegan pretzels.
Track What You're Eating
It’s important to keep track of the steps you’re taking toward nourishing your body with a healthier, vegan diet. By keeping track of what you’re eating—even for a couple of weeks— you may be able to identify patterns that are helping—or hurting—your goals for nourishing your body in a healthy way.
Don’t get too bogged down in the details. We all have those days where we get to the end of the day and realize we haven’t eaten the kinds of foods or the portions we know we need to lead the healthy life we want. By keeping track of what you eat over a couple of weeks, you may be able to get a better sense of your more general pattern of eating and identify areas of success (like eating lots of veggies), as well as places where you could make some improvements (like when you’re likely to mindlessly munch and fill up on empty calories).Think of tracking the foods you eat as a tool to help you reach your goals.
By redirecting unspoiled food from landfill to our neighbors in need, individuals can support their local communities and reduce environmental impact. Non-perishable and unspoiled perishable food can be donated. Donated food can also include leftovers from events and surplus food inventory.
Where to Donate
Food pantries, food banks and food rescue programs are available across the world to collect food and redistribute it to those in need.
Food banks are community-based, professional organizations that collect food from a variety of sources and save the food in warehouses. The food bank then distributes the food to hungry families and individuals through a variety of emergency food assistance agencies, such as soup kitchens, youth or senior centers, shelters and pantries. Most food banks tend to collect less perishable foods such as canned goods because they can be stored for a longer time.
Food Rescue Programs
Food rescue programs take excess perishable and prepared food and distribute it to agencies and charities that serve hungry people such as soup kitchens, youth or senior centers, shelters and pantries. Many of these agencies visit the food bank each week to select fresh produce and packaged products for their meal programs or food pantries. Many also take direct donations from stores, restaurants, cafeterias, and individuals with surplus food to share.
Remember to contact your local food pantry, food bank or food rescue operation to find out what items they accept. Also, food banks will often pick up donations free of charge.
Ideas for Increasing Food Donations in Your Community
- Leverage your existing relationships with food banks and kitchens to donate food after events.
- Enlist groups that meet within your facilities to assist in collection or distribution of donated food.
- Reach out to your local grocers, restaurants, venues and/or schools to suggest that they could donate wholesome food that will be wasted.
- Create a schedule for pick-up of donated food on a weekly, biweekly or monthly basis.
- Use donated food to feed the hungry or elderly of your community or for events held at your facility.
- Create a schedule of deliveries to shelters and food banks for donated food that cannot be used in your facility.
Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), more popularly known as drones, are becoming increasingly popular. They are employed for a variety of uses, including to monitor, observe and protect wildlife. But researchers say that steps should be taken to ensure that drone operations are not causing undue stress to animals.
The vast majority of UAV users, both biologists and hobbyists, do not want to disturb wildlife and will often seek advice from experts. However, in some cases, users may be unaware that their drone operations could be causing considerable and unnecessary disturbance.
Even though an animal might not appear to be disturbed, it could be quite stressed. For example, a bird may choose to remain near a UAV even when stressed because she is incubating an egg or protecting her hatchling. Animal responses vary depending on a variety of factors, including the species, environmental and historical context, and the type of drone and its method of operation.
Studies have shown that drones can be more efficient than traditional approaches to wildlife monitoring and can provide more precise observational data. Accordingly, there has been a considerable increase in the use of UAVs for research purposes. Scientists have now developed a code of best practices intended to help mitigate or alleviate potential disturbance to wildlife related to drone use. The goal is to ensure that UAVs can be a powerful, low-impact ecological survey tool.
In cases where the evidence is lacking, UAV users should consult with appropriate experts and proceed with an abundance of caution. Further study on the impact of UAVs is also needed.
UAV users should seek approval when appropriate and explain the anticipated benefit of using UAV technology in their situation.
Suitably trained UAV operators should comply with all relevant civil aviation rules, which may include restrictions on flying beyond visual line of sight, above a defined altitude, at night, and near people or in the vicinity of important infrastructure and prohibited areas.
UAVs should be chosen or adapted to minimize disruption, for example, by disguising UAVs as other non-threatening animals.
UAVs should be launched and recovered from a distance, and a reasonable distance from animals should be maintained at all times during UAV flights.
Behavioral and physiological stress responses should be measured whenever possible, and UAV flights should be aborted if excessive disturbance is found.
UAV specifications and flight practices should be detailed accurately and shared in full in published studies, along with any animal responses, accidents, or incidents.
By promoting an awareness of the potential for drones to impact wildlife, users can be more conscious of the potential impacts and utilize the code to ensure their UAV operations are responsible.
Researchers are now conducting studies with the goal of better understanding how different animals respond to UAVs. The results of that work will inform the development of species-specific protocols designed to mitigate or alleviate potential disturbance.
In a time of unprecedented change, drones can assist in understanding, managing, protecting and conserving our planet's biodiversity – if used responsibly and ethically.
Vegan clothes consist of clothing and shoes that are constructed without using animal products. By choosing vegan clothing, you ensure that no animals suffered or died to produce them. You also help protect the environment and wildlife from the devastating effects of animal agriculture. Although there are specialty stores that only sell vegan clothing lines, it is possible to buy vegan apparel from any retail shop. To do so, you need to know how to distinguish the vegan and non-vegan items and materials described in clothing labels.
Choose fake or faux fur in place of authentic fur. Pelts and fur are non-vegan since they are the skins and fur taken from animals trapped or raised specifically for that purpose; minks, foxes, rabbits, chinchillas, lynxes, dogs, and many more. Search the clothing label for faux fur, acrylic, polyester, or mod-acrylic.
Purchase imitation-leather in place of real, authentic leather or suede. Leather is non-vegan because it comes from animal hides and skin. Look at the clothing labels to discover alternative clothing that resembles leather, such as synthetic leather, pleather, man-made leather, imitation-leather, and waxed-cotton. Apparel that is made from leather-like materials are typically much cheaper than authentic leather or suede products.
Avoid fabric or apparel that is silk-made. Silk worms may produce silk naturally, however, in order to get the silk producers boil them alive. Go for materials that resemble and imitate silk instead, like nylon, polyester, rayon, silk-cotton tree and ceiba tree filaments, milkweed seed-pod fibers, and the wood pulp-made fabric called tencel.
Avoid buying clothes made with down feathers. These are non-vegan products because they are either plucked from living animals, or animals are killed specifically for this reason. Consult the clothing labels to discover down substitutes, like synthetic down, polyester fill, hypo-allergenic synthetic down, and down-alternative.
Finally, stop buying any type of woolen fabric or clothing. Wool comes from sheep, goats, rabbits and camels who are exploited for their hair. Particular products made from wool that you should avoid include cashmere, angora, mohair, pashmina, shearling, and camel hair. Opt for alternative wool materials instead, such as cotton flannel, polyester fleece, orlon, acrylic, synthetic fleece, synthetic wool, or any other wool fabric characterized as "synthetic." There are synthetically made products that are just as good as wool. Some man-made products exist that rival wool in terms of thickness, providing warmth, and can pull away moisture from the skin. Recycled plastic bottles are typically used to make these products, which you can usually find in outdoors clothing featured in specialty stores.
Taking It A Step Further
Avoiding clothing made from animal-derived products helps to save animals and reduce animal cruelty, but truly ethical clothing decisions also factors in environmental concerns. Clothing choices that contribute to environmental damage affects wildlife in detrimental ways. When shopping for animal-friendly clothes, also consider eco-friendly alternatives.
You can easily make vegan and environmentally friendly clothing choices by choosing clothes made from natural, plant-based materials. You can opt-out of buying faux animal clothing products. Do you really need that faux leather jacket, fake fur coat and imitation silk shirt? There are lots of alternatives that are just as stylish, while not hurting animals or their ecosystems.
Over 25 percent of the planet’s pesticides can be attributed to conventional cotton production. Organic cotton production does not use chemicals. Choose organic cotton clothing made with natural dyes or colored cotton.
Bamboo clothing is all the rage, and for good reason. Bamboo is a fast growing, highly renewable grass usually grown without chemicals. It breathes well, is biodegradable and has natural antibacterial properties. Avoid “bamboo-based rayon” which involves toxic chemicals in its processing.
Hemp is fast growing and highly sustainable like bamboo. It needs little or no pesticides or fertilizers, and it does not deplete soil nutrients.
Recycled polyester is created from cast-off polyester fabric and soda bottles. It's carbon footprint is an impressive 75 percent lower than virgin polyester.
Soy Silk & Soy Cashmere
Soy cashmere and soy silk are created from soy protein fibers left over from soybean food processing. Look for clothing that is not made from genetically engineered soy.
Tencel is created from natural cellulose wood pulp. It is fully biodegradable and is made from Forest Stewardship Council-certified wood pulp and less-toxic chemicals.
Clothing production in general has a big environmental impact. It uses a lot of land, energy, water – and often chemicals. Purchasing quality made products, and wearing them for as long as possible, is one of the best ways to reduce the environmental impact of clothing. You can also purchase used clothing and repair damaged clothes to extend their use. Above all else, don't get caught up in the trap of “trendy styles” and “Fast Fashion” that promotes clothing as being disposable. With a ridiculous 52 “micro-seasons” per year, and new trends coming out every week, it's impossible to keep up anyway. Don't try. Be responsible and help the Earth and its animals – don't buy animal-derived clothing and do buy clothes that are as environmentally-friendly as possible.
Don't be afraid OF sharks; be afraid FOR them. There are more misunderstandings and untruths about sharks than almost any other group of animals on the planet. While many people fear sharks, it is the sharks who should be fearing us.
According to the shark attack file, maintained by the Florida Museum of Natural History, on average 5 people die worldwide from shark attacks. Research published in 2006 found that up to 70 million sharks are killed by humans each year, mostly for their fins. This is a devastating death toll for a long-living species that is as slow to reproduce as sharks.
Sharks have roamed the oceans far longer than most land animals have been here. They were here before many of the dinosaurs and have outlasted them. But an international assessment of sharks undertaken by the World Conservation Union reveals that their future is in doubt.
Of 546 shark species assessed, 111 species were at significant risk of global extinction. Twenty species are listed as critically endangered and 25 as endangered. A study published in the journal Science concluded that some shark species have lost 80% of their populations just in the past 40 years including hammerhead sharks, thresher sharks and porbeagle sharks. While hammerhead shark is a name familiar to most, most people have never heard of porbeagle sharks...some of the lesser known sharks are in even greater danger.
Sharks can range from being just inches in length (like the tiny cookie cutter shark) to being larger than a school bus (like the giant plankton-eating whale shark). Though sharks perform the same role in the ocean ecosystem that is performed by well-known predators such as lions, tigers and cheetahs on land, the fact that they live in such an alien world makes it hard for us to know about their lives. What we do know is pretty fascinating.
Sharks shed their teeth. A single shark may lose thousands of teeth over its life and this accounts for the many shark teeth found by beach combers throughout the world. Their teeth are connected to a membrane in their mouth that is constantly being pushed forward as new teeth form. New teeth are generally slightly larger than the ones before. This allows the size of the shark's teeth to keep pace with the growth of the rest of the body.
Sharks are picky eaters. Some sharks eat only plankton, others eat small fish or squid, and still others eat large fish and marine mammals. The type of teeth a shark has will show you what it eats. Great white sharks have teeth with serrated edges for slicing off pieces from larger prey, the teeth of mako sharks are thin and pointed for grabbing onto slippery fish. Nurse sharks and other bottom dwellers tend to have thicker teeth for crushing shellfish. No matter the tooth shape, sharks never chew their food.
You're more likely to die as a result of being electrocuted by lighting than being attacked by a shark. More deadly than shark attacks each year are crocodile attacks, hippo attacks, and even attacks by pigs.
Many sharks are warm blooded. Unlike the rest of the fishy world, many large sharks can maintain their body temperature higher than the ocean temperature around them.
Some sharks lay eggs, but others give birth to live young and may not be sexually mature until they are over the age of 10.
We don't know whether sharks sleep. Sometimes they seem to rest, but their eyes don't close and if they sleep, they certainly don't sleep the way that mammals can.
There is a lot we don't know about sharks, but we DO know that if we don't act soon to stop overfishing, some of the most ancient and magnificent animals on the planet may soon disappear.
Ethics addresses questions of morality, such as what makes our actions right or wrong. Animal ethics focuses upon the constantly evolving way in which society thinks of nonhuman animals. Through our use of animals as goods for food, clothing, entertainment and companionship, animal ethics is something that we all interact with on a daily basis.
Environmental ethics is the philosophy that considers extending the traditional boundaries of ethics from solely including humans to including the non-human world. There are many ethical decisions made by humans with respect to the environment.
When we begin to explore our behavior towards animals and the environment, we find that what is presented as acceptable conduct is often inconsistent. While we love and value the nonhuman members of our family, such as the cats and dogs who share our homes, we distance ourselves from the lives of billions of wild animals, farmed animals, animals used in experimentation, animals used for clothing and animals used in the entertainment industry.
Our consumer choices shape our daily lives and it is through them that we have come to regard some animals not as individuals, but in terms of the financial value placed upon them. The distance we maintain between their lives and our own allows our use of their bodies to continue unchallenged. Can this inequality in how we regard other animals ever be truly justified?
Environmental ethics address questions of right and wrong regarding the natural world and our relationship with plants and animals. We must find meaningful ways to deal with pollution, resource degradation and plant and animal extinction - not only because it is vital to saving our human race - but because it is simply the right thing to do.
All plants and animals are an important part of the planet and are a functional part of human life. Maintaining environmental ethics ensures we are doing our part to keep the environment safe and protected. It is essential that we respect and honor the environment and use morals and ethics in our daily decisions.
Environmental ethics builds on scientific understanding by bringing human values, morals and improved decision making into the conversation with science. While moral reasoning is not a substitute for science, science does not teach us to care. Scientific knowledge alone does not provide reasons for planet protection. It only provides data, knowledge and information. Environmental ethics uses this information to ask how can we live in harmony with the environment and why should we care.
Environmental ethics considers three key propositions:
The planet and its plants and animals are worthy of our ethical concern.
Plants, animals and the environment have intrinsic value; moral value because they exist, not only because they meet human needs.
We should consider whole ecosystems, including other forms of life, in our daily decisions.
Industrialization has created pollution and ecological imbalance. It is not only the duty of that industry to make changes to protect the environment, but all of us must make daily decisions that help to restore the environment and make it sustainable.
Ethical consumerism is buying things, only when needed, that are made ethically. Generally, this means they are made without harm to or exploitation of humans, animals and the environment. Ethical consumerism involves positive buying and moral boycotting.
Positive buying means favoring ethical products, be they fair trade, cruelty free, organic, locally produced, recycled or re-used.
Moral boycott means refusing to buy products that exploit humans, animals and the environment.
Shopping is a form of voting; a way to express our moral choices. If we care about the planet and animals, but continue to buy from companies that harm animals and the environment, than we are participating in that unethical behavior.
Ethical consumers research products before purchasing to ensure they are environmentally friendly, animal friendly, sustainable and do not exploit humans.
We must also not limit our places in society to that of consumers only. We are, after all, people not consumers, with the free will to take more direct action. Our responsibility does not end after we stop ourselves from buying unethical products. We must also work to stop unethical corporations from abusing the planet and animals.
Different approaches to animal ethics, such as welfarism and abolitionism, vary greatly both in their philosophical viewpoints and their practices. Their shared focus is achieving the inclusion of nonhuman animals within our moral community.
The call for ‘higher-welfare’ products, through consumer demand for 'humane treatment' and products such as free-range meat, eggs and dairy, is termed welfarism. Welfarism modifies systems of abuse through changes to legislation and working practices, while allowing exploitation of nonhuman animals to continue.
By rejecting their commodification as ‘products’ and property, abolitionism affords nonhuman animals a right to life and freedom from exploitation. Abolitionism challenges the legitimacy of abusive industries and what we demand from them, working to end suffering by ending exploitation as a whole.
Animal Ethics In Practice
We can prevent nonhuman animals from being degraded into the class of things by promoting a compassionate attitude towards them. An attitude that demonstrates a lack of respect for other animals and unfair behavior towards them is known as speciesism. Like both racism and sexism, speciesism is a prejudice which builds a general disregard for the lives of others based upon an unreasonable differentiation. Only by allowing all animals equal consideration can we be unprejudiced in our actions.
When we start to value nonhuman animals as individuals, we recognize that they are not mechanical units of production and profit. Gradual changes to how animals are treated, confined and slaughtered may alter aspects of how we use other animals but they do not challenge the wrongs of their enslavement. On the surface, welfare changes may appear compassionate, however, by looking at the wider picture we can see that they leave animals within abusive environments and allow their exploitation to continue. By regulating cruelty, welfarism actively accepts the trade in nonhuman animal lives.
Killing and unacceptable harm remain an inherent part of farming animals for food and clothing, using animals in experiments, and using animals for entertainment, regardless of the practices used. The use of buzzwords such as 'humanely raised', and commercial branding of free range products, wrongly reassures us as consumers. The cheery media persona designed for these 'products' enables us to put a falsely positive image to a process which commodifies animals and causes them to suffer.
By creating a change within our own consumer demand, we can create a wider reaching change for the better. When we choose not to support exploitative industries and avoid products taken from animals, we reject the commodity status placed upon them and recognize their value as individuals. Veganism (refraining from consuming all animal products) is the simple action of removing our personal demand for animal exploitation. It is the practical application of the idea that animals are not property, nor ours to use and manipulate.
Animal Ethics & You
If you believe that we should be kind to animals and treat them with respect, only one further step is needed to reach the conclusion that all animals deserve our kindness and respect. If we extend to other animals the same compassion and morality we would hope for ourselves, we can begin to alleviate the harm that we cause them. Compassionate choices made by us as individuals offer protection to those who need it most. Changing the way in which harm takes place is not enough: we need to make choices that respect life and freedom. By leading a vegan lifestyle, we end our demand for animal suffering and exploitation. All that this requires from us is the decision to make a change.
Sales of ‘higher-welfare’ animal ‘products’ are rising each year, demonstrating consumers’ ever-increasing desire for animals to be treated compassionately. The next question to ask is surely: is killing a sentient animal consistent with wanting that animal to be treated compassionately? Is killing acceptable?
Ask someone if they believe that killing is acceptable, and they will probably answer no, or perhaps only under a few specific circumstances (e.g. to alleviate suffering, or in self-defense or defense of another when life is at risk). Ask if, more specifically, they believe that killing for pleasure is acceptable, and few people would answer yes.
Despite this, many consumers continue to choose to cause the death of other sentient creatures for reasons of personal pleasure on a daily basis, each time they buy or eat animal 'products'. However; this choice is not usually the result of a conscious, rational decision in favor of killing. Most people are brought up to believe that eating or using things taken from animals is a normal choice. This conditioning is often well established before they are old enough to understand the concept of killing and death.
Many people then continue these actions largely due to habit or convenience, rather than ever having made a conscious decision to do so. We can also find it difficult to choose behavior which is outside the expected norms in our families or social groups, or which differ from the values and traditions we were brought up with. The expectation or desire to conform can be enough to deter us from considering changing our actions - even when we know that, in truth, the change will be a positive choice.
In countries where a variety of foods, clothing and other products are available and there is therefore no need to consume or use animals, it is hard to argue that choosing to cause death in this way is a necessity, rather than a choice or simply a convenient habit. Choosing to buy vegan, 100% plant-based food and products, is an easy way for consumers to be sure that the things they buy have not caused the death or suffering of an animal.
It's Not Just About Welfare
The suffering and cruelty inflicted upon animals is a major cause for concern and a strong motivation for many vegans. Many people are becoming increasingly aware of the animal welfare concerns surrounding food production, particularly in intensive farming systems. However, the welfare of farmed animals during their lifetimes is not the only reason why vegans choose not to consume or use animal products.
There is strong evidence from behavioral studies that animals, including wild animals and farmed animals, are sentient beings with individual needs and preferences. The mass production and killing of these animals does not recognize this. Anyone who has spent time with a companion animal knows that they have complex emotions, and yet wild animals and farmed animals are no different in this respect from dogs and cats.
Killing is an inherent and unavoidable part of farming animals for food. Of course animals are killed for meat, but many people are unaware that this is equally true of egg and milk production. Millions of male chicks and calves are killed each year as 'by-products' of the egg and milk industries, considered worthless since they cannot produce milk or eggs. The dairy cows and egg-laying hens themselves are killed at a fraction of their natural lifespan, when they become too worn out to produce enough milk or eggs to be profitable.
Simply buying ‘higher-welfare’ animal products cannot change these facts. If consumers want to ensure that the food they buy is ‘cruelty-free’, by far the best way to achieve this is to buy vegan food.
It is entirely possible and increasingly easy to have nutritious and tasty food and practical and stylish clothing without exploiting other animals.
Therefore the question is not, “Why shouldn’t we use and kill animals?”, but, “Why would we?”
It's Not All Or Nothing
Living a vegan lifestyle is not an all or nothing philosophy. Vegans attempt to minimize the suffering of animals as much as possible in their daily lives. If a vegan accidentally, or intentionally, purchases or consumes an animal product, it does not suddenly exclude them from being vegan. They simply try harder in the future. If you are not ready, or willing, to be a full fledged vegan, you can still help countless animals by making as many compassionate choices as you can. For example, if you aren't ready to completely eliminate animal products from your diet, you can still reduce consumption of those products while also eliminating non-food animal products from your daily purchases and boycotting animal entertainment.
How to Save 11,000 Animals
Do you care about animals? Do you want to help stop their suffering? Then go vegan! Cutting out animal products and being vegan means voting every single day of your life with your knife and fork and by your choice of clothing, cosmetics, household products and entertainment. Your vote says no to animal cruelty.
There is now a fantastic range of vegan products on the market to make it easy for you to make the transition. Some people go vegan in a day, others take a few months to adjust. The most important thing is to make a start and use each day to work towards the goal of a compassionate vegan lifestyle.
In a lifetime a meat-eater will consume a huge number of animals. By switching to a plant based diet, not only will you stop contributing to this mass slaughter of creatures, but you will also save those animals from a lifetime of suffering. A recent study by Viva! suggests this figure could be as high as 11,000!
Internet hunting—also called remote controlled hunting—utilizes Internet technology to allow a computer user to hunt large game and exotic animals from their own home. The controversial practice originated in San Antonio, Texas, with the launching of the website Live-Shot.com, which allowed hunters to shoot animals with the click of a mouse for a fee. Computer users aimed and fired a weapon that was mounted on a mechanized tripod at a remote location—usually a game ranch where exotic animals were kept penned and shot at close range.
The customer signed up through the website and paid a user fee and deposit for the animal he or she wished to kill. The animal was lured to a feeding station within range of the mounted rifle. At one facility, the animals were fed at the same time and place each day by people to whom they had become accustomed. When the animal approached the appointed place at the appointed time, the desktop hunter used the computer mouse to line up the crosshairs and fire the rifle. A single click of the mouse shot the animal. Trophy mounts were prepared at the ranch and shipped to the customer.
An Internet hunting session usually cost more than $1,500. The final cost depended on the species and size of the animal killed and the cost of mounting the trophy.
This practice bared no resemblance to traditional hunting. Even pro-hunting groups denounced Internet hunting because it violated the ideals of a "fair chase." Kelly Hobbs of the National Rifle Association stated, "The NRA has always maintained that fair chase, being in the field with your firearm or bow, is an important element of hunting tradition. Sitting at your desk in front of your computer, clicking at a mouse, has nothing to do with hunting." Even Safari Club International, a group dedicated to hunting large and exotic trophy animals, agreed that Internet hunting "...doesn't meet any fair chase criteria."
John Lockwood, the founder of Live-Shot.com, claimed the operation was intended to provide disabled individuals with the opportunity to hunt, but the Texas legislature did not buy it and promptly outlawed Internet hunting in state. The website was removed.
Internet hunting has now been banned in 40 states. This proactive measure has so far curbed the practice, but the interstate and international nature of the worldwide Web necessitates federal legislation. Laws in the states where it is still permitted are also needed to put a permanent end to the travesty of Internet hunting.
Let’s say you go to the grocery store and buy a pineapple. Why are you buying a pineapple? They’re delicious. You get in line to pay for your pineapple. The clerk says, “Paper or plastic?” Paper or plastic? Hmmm…
What should you say? What things should you think about before you answer?
Let’s think about paper first. The paper bag, like most paper, is made from trees. People cut down the trees, grind them up, and make paper from the pulp. We don’t want to cut down too many trees, though, because trees help the environment. They make oxygen that we need to breathe. They provide a place for animals to live. We can plant new trees to replace the ones we cut down, but we still should save as many trees as we can.
The paper bag might be made of recycled paper. That’s paper that has been used more than once. That means that we didn’t have to cut down more trees to make it. Recycling paper still requires energy, though. Paper is also quite heavy, which means that moving it around on trucks takes a lot of energy too.
Maybe we shouldn’t get a paper bag.
What about plastic?
Plastic is not made from living things like paper is. Plastic is made by people. It never existed before people created it. If we don’t have to cut down any trees to make it, is that better?
The trouble with plastic is that it’s not part of nature. It doesn’t fit into any ecosystem. Nothing can eat it, so when it goes in the trash, it never goes away. Plastics last for hundreds or even thousands of years. And because plastics are lightweight and blow around in the wind easily, a lot of them end up in the ocean.
Maybe we shouldn’t get a plastic bag either, then.
What should we do?
There is another question that the checkout clerk might forget to ask: “Did you bring your own bag?”
The best way to take your groceries home is in your own bag. You can use it as many times as you like. You never have to throw it away!
Turn thermostats down to 68 degrees or below - reduce settings to 55 degrees before going to sleep or when away for the day (for each 1 degree, you'll save up to 5% on your heating costs). Turn off non-essential lights and appliances. Avoid running large appliances such as washers, dryers, and electric ovens during peak demand hours from 5 am to 9 am and 4 pm to 7 pm. Close shades and blinds at night to reduce the amount of heat lost through windows. Buy Energy Star appliances, products and lights.
Turn thermostats down to 68 degrees or below - reduce settings to 55 degrees at the end of the day (for each 1 degree, you'll save up to 5% on your heating costs). Turn off all unnecessary lights, especially in unused offices and conference rooms and turn down remaining lighting levels where possible. Set computers, monitors, printers, copiers and other business equipment to their energy saving feature, and turn them off at the end of the day. Minimize energy usage during peak demand hours from 5 am to 9 am and 4 pm to 7 pm. Buy Energy Star appliances, products, and lights.
KIDS & TEACHERS TIPS
Choose an energy monitor for your classroom every week who will make sure that energy is being used properly. Hold a ribbon up to the edges of windows and doors - if it blows, you've found a leak. When you leave the room, turn off the light.
HEATING & COOLING TIPS
Set your thermostat as low as is comfortable in the winter and as high as is comfortable in the summer. Clean or replace filters on furnaces once a month or as needed. Clean warm-air registers, baseboard heaters, and radiators as needed; make sure they're not blocked by furniture, carpeting, or drapes. Bleed trapped air from hot-water radiators once or twice a season; if in doubt about how to perform this task, call a professional. Place heat-resistant radiator reflectors between exterior walls and the radiators. Use kitchen, bath, and other ventilating fans wisely; in just 1 hour, these fans can pull out a houseful of warmed or cooled air. Turn fans off as soon as they have done the job. During the heating season, keep the draperies and shades on your south-facing windows open during the day to allow sunlight to enter your home and closed at night to reduce the chill you may feel from cold windows. During the cooling season, keep the window coverings closed during the day to prevent solar gain. Close any unoccupied room that is isolated from the rest of the house, such as in a corner, and turn down the thermostat or turn off the heating for that room or zone. However, do not turn the heating off if it adversely affects the rest of your system. For example, if you heat your house with a heat pump, do not close the vents-closing the vents could harm the heat pump. Select energy-efficient equipment when you buy new heating and cooling equipment. Your contractor should be able to give you energy fact sheets for different types, models, and designs to help you compare energy usage. Look for high Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) ratings and the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER). The national minimums are 78% AFUE and 10 SEER. Look for the ENERGY STAR® labels. ENERGY STAR® is a program of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) designed to help consumers identify energy-efficient appliances and products.
Check your ducts for air leaks. First look for sections that should be joined but have separated and then look for obvious holes. If you use duct tape to repair and seal your ducts, look for tape with the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) logo to avoid tape that degrades, cracks, and loses its bond with age. Remember that insulating ducts in the basement will make the basement colder. If both the ducts and the basement walls are uninsulated, consider insulating both. If your basement has been converted to a living area, install both supply and return registers in the basement rooms. Be sure a well-sealed vapor barrier exists on the outside of the insulation on cooling ducts to prevent moisture buildup. Get a professional to help you insulate and repair all ducts
HEAT PUMP TIPS
Do not set back the heat pump's thermostat manually if it causes the electric resistance heating to come on. This type of heating, which is often used as a backup to the heat pump, is more expensive. Clean or change filters once a month or as needed, and maintain the system according to manufacturer's instructions.
Keep all south-facing glass clean. Make sure that objects do not block the sunlight shining on concrete slab floors or heat-absorbing walls. Consider using insulating curtains to reduce excessive heat loss from large windows at night.
If you never use your fireplace, plug and seal the chimney flue. Keep your fireplace damper closed unless a fire is going. Keeping the damper open is like keeping a 48-inch window wide open during the winter; it allows warm air to go right up the chimney. When you use the fireplace, reduce heat loss by opening dampers in the bottom of the firebox (if provided) or open the nearest window slightly-approximately 1 inch-and close doors leading into the room. Lower the thermostat setting to between 50 and 55 degrees F. Install tempered glass doors and a heat-air exchange system that blows warmed air back into the room. Check the seal on the flue damper and make it as snug as possible. Add caulking around the fireplace hearth. Use grates made of C-shaped metal tubes to draw cool room air into the fireplace and circulate warm air back into the house.
Whole-house fans help cool your home by pulling cool air through the house and exhausting warm air through the attic. They are effective when operated at night and when the outside air is cooler than the inside. Set your thermostat as high as comfortably possible in the summer. The less difference between the indoor and outdoor temperatures, the lower your overall cooling bill will be. Don't set your thermostat at a colder setting than normal when you turn on your air conditioner. It will not cool your home any faster and could result in excessive cooling and, therefore, unnecessary expense. Consider using an interior fan in conjunction with your window air conditioner to spread the cooled air more effectively through your home without greatly increasing your power use. Don't place lamps or TV sets near your air-conditioning thermostat. The thermostat senses heat from these appliances, which can cause the air conditioner to run longer than necessary. Plant trees or shrubs to shade air-conditioning units but not to block the airflow. A unit operating in the shade uses as much as 10% less electricity than the same one operating in the sun.
Consider factors such as your climate, building design, and budget when selecting insulation R-value for your home. Use higher density insulation, such as rigid foam boards, in cathedral ceilings and on exterior walls. Ventilation plays a large role in providing moisture control and reducing summer cooling bills. Attic vents can be installed along the entire ceiling cavity to help ensure proper airflow from the soffit to the attic, helping to make a home more comfortable and energy efficient. Recessed light fixtures can be a major source of heat loss, but you need to be careful how close you place insulation next to a fixture unless it is marked. "I.C."-designed for direct insulation contact. Check your local building codes for recommendations. As specified on the product packaging, follow the product instructions on installation and wear the proper protective gear
First, test your home for air tightness. On a windy day, hold a lit incense stick next to your windows, doors, electrical boxes, plumbing fixtures, electrical outlets, ceiling fixtures, attic hatches, and other locations where there is a possible air path to the outside. If the smoke stream travels horizontally, you have located an air leak that may need caulking, sealing, or weatherstripping. Caulk and weatherstrip doors and windows that leak air. Caulk and seal air leaks where plumbing, ducting, or electrical wiring penetrates through exterior walls, floors, ceilings, and soffits over cabinets. Install rubber gaskets behind outlet and switch plates on exterior walls. Look for dirty spots in your insulation, which often indicate holes where air leaks into and out of your house. You can seal the holes by stapling sheets of plastic over the holes and caulking the edges of the plastic. Install storm windows over single-pane windows or replace them with double-pane windows. Storm windows as much as double the R-value of single-pane windows and they can help reduce drafts, water condensation, and frost formation. As a less costly and less permanent alternative, you can use a heavy-duty, clear plastic sheet on a frame or tape clear plastic film to the inside of your window frames during the cold winter months. Remember, the plastic must be sealed tightly to the frame to help reduce infiltration. When the fireplace is not in use, keep the flue damper tightly closed. A chimney is designed specifically for smoke to escape, so until you close it, warm air escapes-24 hours a day! For new construction, reduce exterior wall leaks by either installing house wrap or taping the joints of exterior sheathing.
WATER HEATING TIPS
Repair leaky faucets promptly; a leaky faucet wastes gallons of water in a short period. Insulate your electric hot-water storage tank and pipes, but be careful not to cover the thermostat. Insulate your gas or oil hot-water storage tank and pipes, but be careful not to cover the water heater's top, bottom, thermostat, or burner compartment; when in doubt, get professional help. Install nonaerating low-flow faucets and showerheads. Buy a new water heater. While it may cost more initially than a standard water heater, the energy savings will continue during the lifetime of the appliance. Although most water heaters last 10 to 15 years, it's best to start shopping for a new one if yours is more than 7 years old. Doing some research before your heater fails will enable you to select one that most appropriately meets your needs. Lower the thermostat on your water heater; water heaters sometimes come from the factory with high temperature settings, but a setting of 115 degrees F provides comfortable hot water for most uses. Drain a quart of water from your water tank every 3 months to remove sediment that impedes heat transfer and lowers the efficiency of your heater. The type of water tank you have determines the steps to take, so follow the manufacturer's advice. If you heat with electricity and live in a warm and sunny climate, consider installing a solar water heater. The solar units are environmentally friendly and can now be installed on your roof to blend with the architecture of your house. Take more showers than baths. Bathing uses the most hot water in the average household. You use 15 to 25 gallons of hot water for a bath, but less than 10 gallons during a 5-minute shower.
COLD-CLIMATE WINDOW TIPS
Install exterior or interior storm windows; storm windows can reduce your heat loss through the windows by 25% to 50%. Storm windows should have weatherstripping at all moveable joints; be made of strong, durable materials; and have interlocking or overlapping joints. Low-e storm windows save even more energy. Repair and weatherize your current storm windows, if necessary. Install tight-fitting, insulating window shades on windows that feel drafty after weatherizing. Close your curtains and shades at night; open them during the day. Keep windows on the south side of your house clean to maximize solar gain.
WARM-CLIMATE WINDOW TIPS
Install white window shades, drapes, or blinds to reflect heat away from the house. Close curtains on south- and west-facing windows during the day. Install awnings on south- and west-facing windows. Apply sun-control or other reflective films on south-facing windows.
When you're shopping for new windows, look for the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) label; it means the window's performance is certified. Remember, the lower the U-value, the better the insulation. In colder climates, a U-value of 0.35 or below is recommended. These windows have at least double glazing and low-e coating. In warm climates, where summertime heat gain is the main concern, look for windows with double glazing and spectrally selective coatings that reduce heat gain. Select windows with air leakage ratings of 0.3 cubic feet per minute or less. In temperate climates with both heating and cooling seasons, select windows with both low U-values and low solar heat gain coefficiency (SHGC) to maximize energy benefits. Look for the ENERGY STAR® and EnergyGuide labels.
Trees that lose their leaves in the fall (i.e., deciduous) are the most effective at reducing heating and cooling energy costs. When selectively placed around a house, they provide excellent protection from the summer sun but permit winter sunlight to reach and warm your house. The height, growth rate, branch spread, and shape are all factors to consider in choosing a tree. Vines provide shading and cooling. Grown on trellises, vines can shade windows or the whole side of a house. Deflect winter winds by planting evergreen trees and shrubs on the north and west sides of your house; deflect summer winds by planting on the south and west sides of your house.
INDOOR LIGHTING TIPS
Turn off the lights in any room you're not using, or consider installing timers, photo cells, or occupancy sensors to reduce the amount of time your lights are on. Use task lighting; instead of brightly lighting an entire room, focus the light where you need it. For example, use fluorescent under-cabinet lighting for kitchen sinks and countertops under cabinets. Consider three-way lamps; they make it easier to keep lighting levels low when brighter light is not necessary. Use 4-foot fluorescent fixtures with reflective backing and electronic ballasts for your workroom, garage, and laundry areas. Consider using 4-watt mini-fluorescent or electro-luminescent night lights. Both lights are much more efficient than their incandescent counterparts. The luminescent lights are cool to the touch.
COMPACT FLUORESCENT BULBS
These compact fluorescent bulbs are four times more energy efficient than incandescent bulbs and provide the same lighting. Use CFLs in all the portable table and floor lamps in your home. Consider carefully the size and fit of these systems when you select them. Some home fixtures may not accommodate some of the larger CFLs. When shopping for new light fixtures, consider buying dedicated compact fluorescent fixtures with built-in ballasts that use pin-based replacement bulbs. For spot lighting, consider CFLs with reflectors. The lamps range in wattage from 13-watt to 32-watt and provide a very directed light using a reflector and lens system. Take advantage of daylight by using light-colored, loose-weave curtains on your windows to allow daylight to penetrate the room while preserving privacy. Also, decorate with lighter colors that reflect daylight. If you have torchiere fixtures with halogen lamps, consider replacing them with compact fluorescent torchieres. Compact fluorescent torchieres use 60% to 80% less energy and can produce more light (lumens) than the halogen torchieres.
OUTDOOR LIGHTING TIPS
Use outdoor lights with a photocell unit or a timer so they will turn off during the day. Turn off decorative outdoor gas lamps; just eight gas lamps burning year round use as much natural gas as it takes to heat an average-size home during an entire winter. Exterior lighting is one of the best places to use CFLs because of their long life. If you live in a cold climate, be sure to buy a lamp with a cold-weather ballast.
Check the manual that came with your dishwasher for the manufacturer's recommendations on water temperature; many have internal heating elements that allow you to set the water heater to a lower temperature. Scrape, don't rinse, off large food pieces and bones. Soaking or prewashing is generally only recommended in cases of burned-on or dried-on food. Be sure your dishwasher is full, but not overloaded. Don't use the "rinse hold" on your machine for just a few soiled dishes. It uses 3 to 7 gallons of hot water each time you use it. Let your dishes air dry; if you don't have an automatic air-dry switch, turn off the control knob after the final rinse and prop the door open a little so the dishes will dry faster.
Look for a refrigerator with automatic moisture control. Models with this feature have been engineered to prevent moisture accumulation on the cabinet exterior without the addition of a heater. This is not the same thing as an "anti-sweat" heater. Models with an anti-sweat heater will consume 5% to 10% more energy than models without this feature. Don't keep your refrigerator or freezer too cold. Recommended temperatures are 37 to 40 degrees F for the fresh food compartment of the refrigerator and 5 degrees F for the freezer section. If you have a separate freezer for long-term storage, it should be kept at 0 degrees F. To check refrigerator temperature, place an appliance thermometer in a glass of water in the center of the refrigerator. Read it after 24 hours. To check the freezer temperature, place a thermometer between frozen packages. Read it after 24 hours. Regularly defrost manual-defrost refrigerators and freezers; frost buildup increases the amount of energy needed to keep the motor running. Don't allow frost to build up more than one-quarter of an inch. Make sure your refrigerator door seals are airtight. Test them by closing the door over a piece of paper or a dollar bill so it is half in and half out of the refrigerator. If you can pull the paper or bill out easily, the latch may need adjustment or the seal may need replacing. Cover liquids and wrap foods stored in the refrigerator. Uncovered foods release moisture and make the compressor work harder. Move your refrigerator out from the wall and vacuum its condenser coils once a year unless you have a no-clean condenser model. Your refrigerator will run for shorter periods with clean coils.
Be sure to place the faucet lever on the kitchen sink in the cold position when using small amounts of water; placing the lever in the hot position uses energy to heat the water even though it never reaches the faucet. If you need to purchase a gas oven or range, look for one with an automatic, electric ignition system. An electric ignition saves gas-because a pilot light is not burning continuously. In gas appliances, look for blue flames; yellow flames indicate the gas is burning inefficiently and an adjustment may be needed. Consult your manufacturer or your local utility. Keep range-top burners and reflectors clean; they will reflect the heat better, and you will save energy. Use a covered kettle or pan to boil water; it's faster and it uses less energy. Match the size of the pan to the heating element. If you cook with electricity, turn the stovetop burners off several minutes before the allotted cooking time. The heating element will stay hot long enough to finish the cooking without using more electricity. The same principle applies to oven cooking. Use small electric pans or toaster ovens for small meals rather than your large stove or oven. A toaster oven uses a third to half as much energy as a full-sized oven. Use pressure cookers and microwave ovens whenever it is convenient to do so. They can save energy by significantly reducing cooking time.
Wash your clothes in cold water using cold-water detergents when ever possible. Wash and dry full loads. If you are washing a small load, use the appropriate water-level setting. Dry towels and heavier cottons in a separate load from lighter-weight clothes. Don't over-dry your clothes. If your machine has a moisture sensor, use it. Clean the lint filter in the dryer after every load to improve air circulation. Use the cool-down cycle to allow the clothes to finish drying with the residual heat in the dryer. Periodically inspect your dryer vent to ensure it is not blocked. This will save energy and may prevent a fire. Manufacturers recommend using rigid venting material, not plastic vents that may collapse and cause blockages. Look for the ENERGY STAR® and EnergyGuide labels.
Water is a precious resource in our environment. Growing populations and ongoing droughts are squeezing our water resources dry, causing natural habitat degredation and impacting our everyday use of water. We have no choice but to pay more attention to how we are using water, and how we may be wasting it. We must bridge the gap between our understanding of how important water is to our survival and what we can do to ensure that we have an adequate supply of clean water for years to come. Below is a list of the many simple ways you can take action and conserve water, both inside and outside our homes.
YOU'RE IN CONTROL
Try to do one thing each day to save water. Don't worry if the savings are minimal. Every drop counts, and every person can make a difference. Be aware of and follow all water conservation and water shortage rules and restrictions that may be in effect in your area. Make sure your children are aware of the need to conserve water.
WATER WASTERS IN THE KITCHEN & BATH
Check for toilet leaks by adding food coloring to the tank. If the toilet is leaking, color will appear in the bowl within 30 minutes. Check the toilet for worn out, corroded, or bent parts. Consider purchasing LowFlow toilets that can reduce indoor water use by 20%. Install a toilet dam or displacement device such as a bag or bottle to cut down on the amount of water needed for each flushing. Be sure installation does not interfere with operating parts. Avoid unnecessary flushing. Dispose of tissues, insects, and other similar waste in the trash rather than the toilet. If the toilet flush handle frequently sticks in the flush position, letting water run constantly, replace or adjust it.
Replace your showerhead with an ultra low-flow version, saving up to 2.5 gallons per minute. Take shorter showers. Try a "Navy" shower; get wet, turn off the water, soap and scrub, then turn the water on to rinse. In the shower, instead of increasing the hot or cold water flow to adjust the water temperature, try decreasing the flow to achieve a comfortable water temperature. Use the minimum amount of water needed for a bath by closing the drain first and filling the tub only 1/3 full. The initial burst of cold water can be warmed by adding hot water later. Don't let the water run while shaving, washing your face, or brushing your teeth.
Minimize the use of kitchen sink disposals; they require a lot of water to operate properly. Start a compost pile as an alternate method of disposing of food waste. Store drinking water in the refrigerator rather than letting the tap run to get a cool glass of water. Do not use running water to thaw meat or other frozen foods. Defrost them overnight in the refrigerator, or by using the defrost setting on your microwave. Consider installing an instant water heater on your kitchen sink so you don't have to let the water run while it heats up. This will reduce heating costs for your household.
When washing dishes by hand, fill one sink or basin with soapy water. Quickly rinse under a slow stream of water from the faucet. Use the dirty water to run your sink disposal if necessary. Fully load automatic dishwashers; they use the same amount of water no matter how much is in them. Buy dishwashers with water and energy saving options.
OTHER WATER WASTERS IN YOUR HOME
Unlike your dishwasher, the amount of water your washing machine uses is adjustable; adjust according to load size. Look for water saving washing machines and buy them. Horizontal loading machines use less water than top-loading machines. Install a hot water recirculation device. By recirculating the water that would otherwise go down the drain, you can save 2-3 gallons of water for each shower taken or 16,500 gallons a year per household. This may mean an average annual savings of $50 on your water bill and $40 on your energy bill. Install an air-to-air heat pump or air-conditioning system. Air-to-air models are just as efficient as water-to-air models and do not waste water. Install water-softening systems only when necessary. Save water and salt by running the minimum amount of regeneration necessary to maintain water softness. Turn softeners off while on vacation.
Divert From the Drain
Never put water down the drain when there may be another use for it such as watering a plant or garden, or cleaning.
Verify that your home is leak free, because many homes have hidden water leaks. Read your water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the meter does not read exactly the same, there is a leak. Repair dripping faucets by replacing washers. If your faucet is dripping at the rate of one drop per second, you can expect to waste 2,700 gallons per year. Retrofit all wasteful household faucets by installing aerators with flow restrictors. Insulate your water pipes. You'll get hot water faster and avoid wasting water. Check your pump. If you have a well at your home, listen to see if the pump turns on and off while the water is not in use. If it does, you have a leak.
OUTDOOR WATER WASTERS
Watering the Lawn
Don't overwater your lawn. As a general rule, lawns only need watering every 5 to 7 days in the summer. A hearty rain eliminates the need for watering for as long as two weeks. Water lawns during the early morning hours when temperatures and wind speed are the lowest. This reduces losses from evaporation. Don't water your street, driveway, or sidewalk. Position your sprinklers so that your water lands on the lawn and shrubs and not the paved areas. Install sprinklers that are the most water-efficient for each use such as micro and drip irrigation and soaker hoses. Regularly check sprinkler systems and timing devices to be sure they are operating properly. Teach your family how to shut off automatic systems so they can turn them off when storms are approaching. Do not leave sprinklers or hoses unattended. Your garden hose can pour out 600 gallons or more in only a few hours. Use a kitchen timer to remind yourself to turn the water off.
Raise your lawn mower blade to at least three inches. A lawn cut higher encourages grass roots to grow deeper, shades the root system, and holds soil moisture better than closely-clipped lawns. Avoid overfertilizing your lawn. The application of fertilizers increases the need for water and is a source of water pollution.
Mulch to retain moisture in the soil. Mulching also helps to control weeds that compete with plants for water. Repair dripping faucets by replacing washers. If your faucet is dripping at the rate of one drop per second, you can expect to waste 2,700 gallons per year. Plant native and/or drought-tolerant grasses, ground covers, shrubs, and trees. Check with your local nursery for advice. Group plants together based on similar water needs. Outfit your hose with a shut-off nozzle which can be adjusted down to a fine spray so that water flows only as needed. When finished, turn it off at the faucet instead of at the nozzle to avoid leaks. Minimize the grass areas in your yard because less grass means less water. Buy a rain gauge to determine how much rain or irrigation your yard has received.
Other Outdoor Water Wasters
Avoid hosing down your driveway or sidewalk; use a broom instead and save hundreds of gallons of drinkable water. Check all hoses, connectors, and spigots regularly. Replace or add washers if you find leaks. Avoid the installation of ornamental water features unless the water is recycled. If you have a pool, consider a new water-saving pool filter. A single backflushing with a traditional filter uses from 180 to 250 gallons of water. Consider using a commercial car wash that recycles water. If you wash your own car, park it on the grass, use a bucket with soapy water, turn off the water while soaping, and use a hose with a pressure nozzle to decrease rinsing time. Create an awareness of the need for water conservation among your children. Avoid purchasing recreational water toys that require a constant stream of water.
AT WORK & AROUND TOWN
Encourage your employer to promote water conservation at the workplace. Suggest that water conservation tips be put in the employee orientation manual and training program. Support projects that will lead to an increased use of reclaimed wastewater for irrigation and other uses. Promote water conservation in community newsletters, on bulletin boards, and by example. Patronize businesses that practice and promote water conservation. Report all significant water losses (broken pipes, open hydrants, misdirected sprinklers, abandoned or free-flowing wells, etc.) to the property owner, local authorities, or your water management district. Encourage your school system and local government to promote a water conservation ethic among school children and adults. Support efforts and programs to create a concern for water conservation among tourists and visitors to your state. Make sure your visitors understand the need for, and benefits of, water conservation. Conserve water because it is the right thing to do. Don't waste water just because someone else is footing the bill, such as when you are staying at a hotel.