The most effective way to reduce waste is to not create it in the first place. Making a new product requires a lot of materials and energy - raw materials must be extracted from the earth, and the product must be fabricated then transported to wherever it will be sold. As a result, reduction and reuse are the most effective ways you can save natural resources, protect the environment and save money.
Benefits of Reducing and Reusing
- Prevents pollution caused by reducing the need to harvest new raw materials
- Saves energy
- Reduces greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global climate change
- Helps sustain the environment for future generations
- Saves money
- Reduces the amount of waste that will need to be recycled or sent to landfills and incinerators
- Allows products to be used to their fullest extent
Ideas on How to Reduce and Reuse
- Buy used. You can find everything from clothes to building materials at specialized reuse centers and consignment shops. Often, used items are less expensive and just as good as new.
- Look for products that use less packaging. When manufacturers make their products with less packaging, they use less raw material. This reduces waste and costs. These extra savings can be passed along to the consumer. Buying in bulk, for example, can reduce packaging and save money.
- Buy reusable over disposable items. Look for items that can be reused; the little things can add up. For example, you can bring your own silverware and cup to work, rather than using disposable items.
- Maintain and repair products, like clothing, tires and appliances, so that they won't have to be thrown out and replaced as frequently.
- Borrow, rent or share items that are used infrequently, like party decorations, tools or furniture.
One person's trash is another person's treasure. Instead of discarding unwanted appliances, tools or clothes, try selling or donating them. Not only will you be reducing waste, you'll be helping others. Local churches, community centers, thrift stores, schools and nonprofit organizations may accept a variety of donated items, including used books, working electronics and unneeded furniture.
Growing your own food is just smart and a great way to not have to rely on the stores to have what you want. Just because you live in an apartment or don't have much land doesn't mean you can't grow your own food. There are plenty of vegetables that do great in containers, such as tomatoes, peppers, onions, lettuce, spinach, beets, and of course many herbs.
Take into consideration how big the plant gets and plant accordingly into the right size pot. Make sure it has a drainage hole or two, and never let your veggies dry out. Over-watering can be just as dangerous. A good rule of thumb to avoid over-watering is to plunge a popsicle stick into the soil. If soil sticks to it, it doesn't need watered.
If you have a spot in the yard at least 4x4 feet, you can have a great little raised garden bed and plant a variety of veggies.
Keep in mind that plants have friends and neighbor well with some better than others. This is called Companion Planting. An example of this is tomatoes like to be planted near carrots, celery, cucumbers, onions, peppers. Do not plant corn or potatoes near your tomatoes. Beans do well with celery, corn, cucumbers, radish, strawberries and summer savory, but will not do well with garlic and onions. Planting mint near your cabbage will enhance the flavor of your cabbage. Marigolds near your tomatoes will deter tomato Aphids.
If you are new to gardening, container and small, raised bed gardening are great ways to start. Try an online search for Companion Gardening and Container Gardening...there is an entire world of information out there. Remember to start with non GMO seeds so you can save your seeds for next year's planting.
Teach your kids everything you learn; pass it on to them so they, too, can one day be self sustainable. Also, try canning to preserve your hard work and enjoy it in the winter.
Plants have been the main source of substances for pharmaceutical use for millennia. The majority of medicines have a natural origin before they are fortified with synthetic substances by the pharmaceutical industry. You can avoid the intermediary process and produce your own pharmaceutical plants in your own backyard. Fresh herbs are cheap, can be grown easily, can help with a wide array of symptoms, and cause relatively fewer adverse effects than drugs. Avoid running to your pharmacist whenever you have a minor ailment; go to your garden instead. Populate your pharmaceutical garden with the following potent medicinal plants.
Basil may be a common element of Italian food, but it also has great medicinal properties. This fantastic herb can help transform both you and your garden. It is very rich in beta-carotene, a precursor to Vitamin A. Vitamin A is essential for good vision, cell development, and immune health. Basil oil is rich in a compound named eugenol, which has anti-inflammatory properties and can comfort painful bones and joints just like over-the-counter ibuprofen. What’s more, it exhibits potent antibacterial properties and is effective even against antibiotic-resistant microorganisms.
Lemon balm belongs to the mint family, which explains its beautiful aroma. It has been traditionally used for hundreds of years as a sleeping and anti-anxiety remedy, to facilitate digestion, and to treat cold sores and lesions. It has been scientifically proven that lemon balm helps fight herpes lesions around the lips and the genitals. Eugenol, which is also present in lemon balm, has antibacterial properties and is also used in dentistry, as a topical agent for cavities. You can use dried leaves of lemon balm to decorate your salads, or to make hot tea.
Marigolds are yellow and orange flowers that are common in gardens and backyards. They are rich in antioxidant substances that scavenge free radicals, extremely reactive particles that can damage cells and genetic material and cause cancer. Research has shown that lutein, a substance with antioxidant properties that is present in marigold extract, has tumor-fighting properties. What’s more, marigolds fight inflammation, making them useful in the treatment of burns, scrapes, and irritated skin. Finally, they are useful in fighting pests, as insects are paralyzed within seconds after consuming it.
Sage is a native Mediterranean plant that can grow anywhere in the world, notorious for its multi-color appearance, with its purple, blue, pink and white flowers and leaves. With strong antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial activity, sage strengthens the immune system and is particularly helpful against fungal infections. It is also traditionally known as a treatment for indigestion, mental issues, and muscular spasms. Moreover, it has been successfully used to treat hot flashes and menstrual cramps in women. There is some evidence that sage extract may positively affect cognition, making it a good candidate for an Alzheimer’s disease treatment. Finally, the plant itself adds a beautiful touch to any garden and can also be used as a potent additive to any cuisine.
Comfrey, as its name suggest, is comforting in numerous ways. Its drooping flowers and bristly hairs are its distinctive characteristic. It was widely used in Ancient Greece to treat open wounds and broken bones, a use that continues to this day. These claims have been vindicated by science. The main ingredient of this herb is allantoin, a compound with moisturizing properties – hence its use in several products for the skin. It has been scientifically proven that comfrey is useful against ulcers, dermatitis, and swollen ankles. However, caution should be exercised, as comfrey also contains minute concentrations of alkaloids that have cancer-causing properties. This is why it is often recommended only to use comfrey externally.
Thyme is a member of Thymus, a genus indigenous to Asia and Europe. It has been typically used as a decoration element, while bees make honey from its pollen. Thyme exhibits strong antibacterial and antiseptic properties. Research has shown that thyme can be valuable in antimicrobial resistance, and is more effective in treating acne than many prescription topical preparations. It is also used to ease gastrointestinal and respiratory issues, arthritis and sore throat. In general, it is a great addition to your garden, and can also be used as a flavor-enhancing herb in your kitchen.
Echinacea is a famous herb, known for its use by Native Americans as a means of treating wounds and fighting off infections. Because it is resilient to drought, Echinacea can be cultivated very easily. During mid-summer, it blossoms into a gorgeous coneflower. Today it is widely used to shorten the course of common colds and infections of the sinuses. Also, many herbalists use it to treat bee stings, migraines, and urinary tract infections. During the summer, you can make Echinacea ice tea.
Nettle has been used for centuries to treat gout, arthritis, insect bites, allergies and infections of the urinary system. What’s more, nettle has a great taste and valuable cleansing properties with many uses in the kitchen. You can recognize it by its stinging hairs. Although they sting anything they touch, they surprisingly sooth already irritated skin.
Greek mythology holds Achilles, the legendary warrior king, used yarrow for the treatment of open battle wounds. Yarrow is easy to cultivate and has an effect on almost every bodily function, with the liver, spleen, kidneys and bladder among others. Exhibiting potent antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity, this panacea has a marvelous effect on a wealth of conditions, ranging from open wounds to indigestion. It has been successfully used to treat fever, rashes, and hypertension. In addition, its alkaloids can soothe menstruation pain as well. Collect yarrow from your garden to treat minor ailments and also fortify your soups, salads, and stir-fries.
Chinese yam is a vine with great fame surrounding its medicinal properties. It has been used in the past for the treatment of diarrhea and sore throat, and also for controlling blood glucose and to counter weight gain. It has potent stomach and spleen-strengthening properties. Rich in vitamin B6, it shields against heart disease by removing homocysteine from circulation, an amino-acid that can harm the walls of veins and arteries. You can even eat this cinnamon-scented herb raw.
Gardens can be so much more than a pleasing sight; they can provide food, pharmaceutical herbs, and life. If you grow your own pharmaceutical herbs, you can save money and improve your well-being.
Compost is organic material that can be added to soil to help plants grow. Food scraps and yard waste currently make up 20 to 30 percent of what we throw away, and should be composted instead. Making compost keeps these materials out of landfills where they take up space and release methane, a potent greenhouse gas.
All composting requires three basic ingredients:
- Browns: This includes materials such as dead leaves, branches, and twigs.
- Greens: This includes materials such as grass clippings, vegetable waste, fruit scraps, and coffee grounds.
- Water: Having the right amount of water, greens, and browns is important for compost development.
Your compost pile should have an equal amount of browns to greens. You should also alternate layers of organic materials of different-sized particles. The brown materials provide carbon for your compost, the green materials provide nitrogen, and the water provides moisture to help break down the organic matter.
What To Compost
- Fruits and vegetables
- Coffee grounds and filters
- Tea bags
- Nut shells
- Shredded newspaper
- Yard trimmings
- Grass clippings
- Hay and straw
- Wood chips
- Cotton and Wool Rags
- Dryer and vacuum cleaner lint
- Hair and fur
- Fireplace ashes
What Not To Compost & Why
- Black walnut tree leaves or twigs
Releases substances that might be harmful to plants
Create odor problems and attract pests such as rodents and flies
- Diseased or insect-ridden plants
Diseases or insects might survive and be transferred back to other plants
- Fats, grease, lard, or oils*
Create odor problems and attract pests such as rodents and flies
- Meat or fish bones and scraps*
Create odor problems and attract pests such as rodents and flies
- Animal wastes (e.g., dog or cat feces, soiled cat litter)*
Might contain parasites, bacteria, germs, pathogens, and viruses harmful to humans
- Yard trimmings treated with chemical pesticides
Might kill beneficial composting organisms
* Check with your local composting or recycling coordinator to see if these organics are accepted by your community curbside or drop-off composting program.
Benefits Of Composting
- Enriches soil, helping retain moisture and suppress plant diseases and pests.
- Reduces the need for chemical fertilizers.
- Encourages the production of beneficial bacteria and fungi that break down organic matter to create humus, a rich nutrient-filled material.
- Reduces methane emissions from landfills and lowers your carbon footprint.
How To Compost At Home
There are many different ways to make a compost pile. Helpful tools include pitchforks, square-point shovels or machetes, and water hoses with a spray head. Regular mixing or turning of the compost and some water will help maintain the compost.
- Select a dry, shady spot near a water source for your compost pile or bin.
- Add brown and green materials as they are collected, making sure larger pieces are chopped or shredded.
- Moisten dry materials as they are added.
- Once your compost pile is established, mix grass clippings and green waste into the pile and bury fruit and vegetable waste under 10 inches of compost material.
Optional: Cover top of compost with a tarp to keep it moist. When the material at the bottom is dark and rich in color, your compost is ready to use. This usually takes anywhere between two months to two years.
If you do not have space for an outdoor compost pile, you can compost materials indoors using a special type of bin, which you can buy at a local hardware store, gardening supplies store, or make yourself. Remember to tend your pile and keep track of what you throw in. A properly managed compost bin will not attract pests or rodents and will not smell bad. Your compost should be ready in two to five weeks.
Recycle your kitchen scraps and reduce your grocery bills by growing fruits and vegetables from the scraps you usually throw away. It's simple, easy and you can do it indoors.
Potatoes: Potatoes can be grown from scraps. Allow a potato scrap with 1 to 2 eyes to dry thoroughly. Plant it in a small container and cover with a few inches of soil. As more roots appear, cover with additional soil.
Romaine lettuce: Place roots in a dish of water without fully submerging the entire plant. Place in the sun and spray with water once a week. You don’t need to put romaine lettuce in soil, but if you do the leaves will grow to twice the size.
Celery: Place celery in water with the stalks cut back to about an inch above the roots. Add sun and spritz with water once or twice a week.
Cabbage: Place cabbage roots in water with standing water kept away from the rest of the plant. Place in a sunny location and water twice a week.
Garlic: Plant a garlic clove with its root facing down. As it grows, cut back its shoots to end up with a fresh, new garlic bulb.
Lemongrass: Lemongrass stalk bottoms are too tough to use in cooking, but you can avoid throwing out half the plant by placing the stalks in water. Once roots develop, plant the lemongrass in soil and place in a sunny location.
Onions: Cover an onion root with soil and place it in a sunny location. Water as needed.
Pineapple: For those with patience, a pineapple can be grown from scraps in 2 to 3 years. While you’re waiting, you’ll have a unique indoor plant. Remove all fruit and green stalks from the top of the plant. Cut sections horizontally from the crown until you see the root buds. Leave about an inch of leaves at the base and plant in a warm place. Water often until established, then once a week.
Basil: Basil can be grown from basil cuttings by simply placing them in water. Change the water often to keep the plants from getting slimy.
Mushrooms: Mushrooms are one of the more difficult produce to re-grow. Mix soil and compost in a pot. Remove the head of the mushroom and plant the stalk in the soil with only the top exposed. Place in an area with filtered light by day and cool temperature by night.
Many gardeners grow perennial plants and flowers, enjoying their ornamental beauty year after year. But did you know there are a variety of perennial vegetables that can also be planted once and enjoyed for years to come? They are also among the healthiest veggies and are an inexpensive, one-time purchase.
Easy-to-grow perennial vegetables offer a healthy food source that comes back year after year. Here are 10 perennial veggies:
Scarlet Runner Beans: Scarlet runner beans are grown as ornamentals and are also edible as green beans and dried beans. The flowers are edible too, when cooked.
Sea Kale: Sea Kale is ornamental and the shoots, young leaves and flowers are edible.
Sorrel: Sorrel is an herb with tart, lemon-flavored leaves used in salads, soups, and sauces.
Jerusalem Artichoke: Jerusalem artichoke underground tubers can be eaten raw or cooked like potatoes.
Groundnut: Groundnut is a 6-foot vine with high-protein tubers that taste like nuttyflavored potatoes.
Bunching or Egyptian Onions: These onions continue to produce new onions even after being harvested.
Ostrich Fern: Ostrich ferns are ornamental and delicious.
Ramps or Wild Leeks: Ramps are an onion with edible leaves and bulbs.
Daylilies: Daylilies are primarily grown as ornamentals, and are common in the wild, but the flowers are also delicious in salads or battered and fried.
Good King Henry: Good King Henry is a European spinach with tasty shoots, leaves and flowers.
Gardens yield tasty and healthful produce three out of four seasons a year. Examples of the many types of produce you can grow in your home or community garden include: fresh sweet corn, tomatoes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, lima beans, green beans, watermelons, pumpkins, cantaloupes, peppers, carrots, squash, zucchini, broccoli, herbs, as well as ornamental plantings including sunflowers, pumpkins and gourds.
How much will a garden cost? The annual cost to maintain a garden is approximately $100-$200. This includes costs for seed, fertilizer, and crop protection products. But the fresh produce yielded from gardens help to offset grocery costs and help increase overall savings on money that would otherwise be spent on purchasing food.
Gardening organizations and Cooperative Extension offices can assist you with getting back into gardening. In addition to educational resources and workshops, you may gain access to garden plots, seeds, plants, tools and plowing services.
Tips For a Successful Garden
Select a well-drained site that receives direct sunlight. You can overcome the lack of a well-drained site through the use of raised beds.
Conduct a soil fertility test by taking random soil samples from the site and having them analyzed by your Cooperative Extension office or garden organization. Approximately one pint of soil is adequate for a soil test.
Prepare a good quality seed bed by tilling soil until no soil particles exceed a one-half inch diameter. Soil tillage should only occur when conditions are dry enough to allow breakup of soil.
Plan for your family’s tastes, nutritional needs, and availability of space. Some plants, like watermelons, consume a large surface area whereas a properly staked tomato utilizes more height than surface area.
Plant seeds and transplants under appropriate weather conditions for their growing behaviors. For example, broccoli, onions, and potatoes are early spring crops. Tomato transplants should not be in the garden until early May, and summer squash can be planted after the risk of last frost.
Make additional plantings to keep the garden producing throughout the summer. By planting two or three yellow squash every three weeks through August 1, a family should have fresh squash available from early June through October.
Consider conserving finances by sharing seed packets and larger quantities of transplants with others in your community. Store leftover seed in a cool, dry place to preserve germination.
Each spring there are baby animals in nests and burrows all around us. Your children may find a fledgling bird or a baby rabbit and bring it home. If your child brings home some poor creature that has fallen from the nest or wandered away from its mother, the animal should be immediately returned to the same location from which it was taken.
More often than not, the mother is nearby. If you find a featherless baby bird that appears to have fallen from the nest, find the nest, and put the baby back. It is a myth that birds will abandon their babies because of human smell. Most birds have a very poor sense of smell. The parents will continue to care for the baby.
If you see that the nest has fallen on the ground with the babies, pick it up, place it and the babies in a small berry basket and nail the basket to a tree branch. You can also use a plastic bowl. If the nest came apart when it fell and the nesting material is scattered, gather up as much as you can, then line the berry basket or bowl with tissues before you put everything you picked up, and the babies, into the basket.
Birds very rarely abandon their babies. Even when you don't see the parents, if you hear the babies making sounds in the nest, then they are being cared for. Baby birds need to eat every 20 minutes. They would die very quickly without their parents to feed them. If you can still hear the babies making sounds hours after you return them to the nest, you will know that the parents are doing their job.
Sometimes young birds fly out of the nest before they are able to fly back again. A young bird that is completely covered with feathers does not need help and should never be picked up. These "fledgling" birds will hop into undergrowth for cover, where their parents will continue to feed and protect them until they are strong enough to fly, usually within a day or two.
Never allow your child to take eggs out of a nest. Put any they may bring home back in the nest they came from right away.
Baby mammals will also sometimes leave the nest or burrow, before they have learned to take care of themselves. They may have wandered away, while the mother was off foraging for food. She will find her baby when she returns. If the baby is in an unsafe location, like the middle of the road or in a parking lot, pick it up (use gloves) and place it in nearby vegetation.
Never handle a wild animal without gloves. Cute as they may be, even adorable babies may bite, especially if injured. Also, some animals carry parasites or diseases that can be transmitted to humans.
Turtles do sometimes need our help. If you see a turtle crossing a busy road where a car could hit it, use gloves and put it on the side of the road that it was heading. Turtles know where they are going. If you put a turtle back where it came from, it will just try to cross the road again. Don't put the turtle in water. Box turtles belong on dry land and can drown in only a few inches of water.
Children will often capture a frog for the fun of it. It is our job to teach our children that no animal should ever be caught and removed from its habitat. A captured animal teaches your child nothing but cruelty.
If you find a baby animal that appears obviously injured, using gloves, gently place the baby in a cardboard box, lined with a towel. Call a forest ranger or rehabber as soon as possible.
When to help mammals:
The mother has been removed, relocated or is dead.
The mother is injured.
The nest, burrow or den has been destroyed and the mother has not returned to move her young. (Give her a full 24 hours if possible. Mothers can carry only one baby at a time. Give her time to remove all her young before believing that she is not returning for those babies that still remain.)
The baby is in a dangerous place, (lying in water, in the road, wandering a parking lot, etc.)
We must teach our children that meddling in the natural process of life and death, however well meaning, should be avoided whenever possible.
Fruit trees can offer more return on effort than anything else in the garden. A single apple tree can produce up to 500 apples each season. Several fruit trees can offer 8 months of fruit for your family. Growing your own fruit saves you money, and ensures your fruit isn't laced with toxic chemicals.
Fruit trees can be planted in early spring or in fall and are available in two options: bare-root and in containers. Bare-root trees are common through online and mail-order sources. They are usually less expensive, and there is a greater variety available then containerized trees from a local nursery. When ordered, they are lifted from the ground at the nursery, the soil washed from the roots, then wrapped in moist peat or a similar material to keep them from drying out. Bare-root trees must be planted while dormant in late winter or early spring.
Containerized trees, usually purchased from local nurseries, are fully rooted in a pot and are available for a greater period of time spring through summer. Only the most popular varieties are usually available. Being established, they are easier to grow.
Fruit trees do best in full sun. Most need well-drained soil, though apples, plums and pears are more tolerant of poor drainage. Some fruit trees are self-pollinating, others require another variety to pollinate. Ask the nursery about the pollinating requirements for your trees.
Plant bare-root trees as soon as possible. Soak the roots in a bucket of water for a few hours before planting. Keep containerized trees well watered until planted. Dig holes twice as wide as the roots to help roots grow easily. The depth of the hole should be as deep, but not deeper, than the roots. Compost can be mixed into the hole if the soil is poor, but don't fertilize new fruit trees. Spread the roots out in the hole and tamp the soil around them firmly. Water thoroughly when first planted, then whenever the top 2 inches of soil are dry.
Fruit trees need an open shape to receive sufficient sunlight. They can be pruned when first planted, and each year in late winter before new growth begins. Remove any crossing, dead or diseased branches to create an open tree. Bare-root trees are usually pruned before you receive them, sometimes with all branches removed.
When fruit begins to appear, remove some of the fruit to ensure larger, better fruit growth. In early and late spring, each year, you can fertilize established fruit trees...though if they are doing well on their own, fertilizing may not be necessary.
You don't have to form a group to accomplish something; you can do a lot by yourself. If you've uncovered an important local issue, you may wish to print a flyer to hand out to people on the street. Or maybe you've collected signatures from people enthusiastic about earth and animal issues and want to invite them to a meeting with an inspiring speaker. Or you may want to urge local residents to spay and neuter their animals. Once you've defined your message and audience, try to prepare a leaflet that will reach them.
MAKING WORDS COUNT
Your leaflet must answer the questions what, where, when, who, and why. It must tell people specifically what they can do to help. Include contact information and direct to the reader to sources of additional information on the topic.
People won't read a long complicated leaflet, so keep your sentences short and clear. Use descriptive headings, subheadings and quotations to get your main points across, and use three or four headings to a page so that if people only read the headlines they still get the message. Keep your flier simple, to the point and easy to understand.
Don't make remarks you can't substantiate. Be careful not to make libelous statements - call the act cruel and irresponsible, not the individual.
Often, making a leaflet starts with some creative brainstorming. Taking the time to develop ideas will help when planning the printed page in more detail. You'll most likely want a central theme for the leaflet. Developing words that go along with this theme will help when it's time to create all of the text that will go into this document. Each separate fold of a leaflet may have its own unique focus, so think about how each part of your project will fit together. Consider phrasing for titles and text. With overall themes in hand, the leaflet planner can develop those into phrases or slogans that might lead in leaflet text.
CREATE YOUR LAYOUT
Do a rough layout. The rough layout for a leaflet is usually a sketch that will show where text and images will be positioned on the leaflet, how big the size of each text portion will be, and how much of the leaflet will be dedicated to each separate part or idea. This rough draft will show how much room is available and how it can be allocated.
Design leaflets are usually easiest done digitally. Digital word processor or print shop programs, such as MS Word, are common software solutions for creating leaflets. Many printing companies also provide online software. Look at your software and understand how the digital setup will translate to the printed page, especially if you plan to fold the leaflet. Do a print preview. A page layout or print preview option helps to see how the leaflet will look when it is printed. Make any needed edits, then print out a few copies and observe how they are actually printed on the page. Practice folding the leaflet and make sure that it is correct before printing hundreds of copies for distribution. Correct any errors as needed, and through trial and error, an attractive document should emerge.
When distributing your leaflets, don’t wait for people to approach you. Walk up to them, and with a friendly smile, hand them a leaflet accompanied by a positive comment like, “Have you received one of these yet?” Make eye contact and never be pushy. Simple eye contact will help you get their attention.
Be prepared for questions! Know at least three facts from the leaflet that you’re passing out and know more info that isn’t included in the leaflet.
Don’t waste time arguing. Say politely, “I think that if you read this material, you might change your mind.” Then smile, hand them a leaflet, and turn away.
You want people to take your message seriously. People will judge you by the way you look, so look clean and professional.
Hold the flyer so the title can be clearly seen by passersby.
Take people's e-mail addresses if they seem interested, but don't get caught up in a conversation that distracts you from your job.
Try to get someone else to leaflet with you, especially in potentially hostile territory.
It is illegal to drop leaflets in mailboxes, although you can put them through a letter slot in a door or leave them in door handles or on the doorstep.
If you are planning to solicit contributions, check local and state regulations.
Don’t leave a mess! Pick up discarded leaflets before you leave the area.
You may also want to post leaflets on bulletin boards in public areas such as libraries, veterinary offices, cat and dog supply stores, supermarkets, laundromats and apartment buildings. Remember to ask permission from the owner of the area before posting a leaflet to make sure that it stays posted. Some places will even allow you to leave a stack of leaflets.
A great way to reach a large number of people is to setup an information table in a busy area of town. Choose a spot with a lot of pedestrian traffic where people will see you. Find out where other groups in your community setup tables, and get a list of festivals or fairs from the Chamber of Commerce, Department of Parks and Recreation, or Tourist Department.
Once you've chosen a good location for a table, call the mayor's office or police station to learn about regulations you need to follow. Here are some questions to ask:
Do I need a permit? Permits are usually easy to apply for, although they may take two or three weeks to process.
How often can I use this spot?
Are there restrictions on the type of equipment that can be set up?
Are there any regulations on selling items such as buttons and bumper stickers at a table? If so, you can ask for donations instead of charging for the merchandise.
Ask for several copies of the application form to save for future use.
Here's what you need to set up your table:
one or two card tables or a folding display table
a plain table cloth to cover the table, long enough to reach the ground
a donation can
signup sheets (so you can contact activists for future events)
paperweights - small but heavy
Arrange your table neatly and attractively. Remove rubber bands from pamphlets so people can pick them up easily. Keep an eye on your donation can - don't let someone walk off with it. Leave a five-dollar bill and some change in the can to encourage people's generosity!
If visitors to your table seem interested, ask them to leave their e-mail address or join your social networking site. Encourage them to help with your cause. Don't spend so much time with one person that you miss contact with others who may be interested. Be especially sure not to waste time and attention on someone who disagrees with you; you may alienate people who overhear the argument. Instead, clarify your position briefly, express regret at your disagreement, and turn to someone else as quickly as possible. You may feel as if you're "backing down," but arguing at a table is a waste of time and can cause you to miss potential supporters.
Above all, remember to smile, be friendly, and be patient. You, too, were once unaware of animal and environmental issues. Let others know that your background is much like theirs, but that once you learned about animal suffering and the state of the environment you decided to take action. Lifestyles and attitudes are easy to change - you're living proof! And you can show others how to be more compassionate, too!
A plant-based diet is the most dramatic lifestyle change you can make to help save the planet and its animals. It also provides a wealth of health benefits. People who eat more fruits and vegetables as part of an overall healthy diet are likely to have a reduced risk of some chronic diseases. Fruits provide nutrients vital for health and maintenance of your body.
Most fruits are naturally low in fat, sodium, and calories. None have cholesterol.
Fruits are sources of many essential nutrients that are underconsumed, including potassium, dietary fiber, vitamin C, and folate (folic acid).
Diets rich in potassium may help to maintain healthy blood pressure. Fruit sources of potassium include bananas, prunes and prune juice, dried peaches and apricots, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, and orange juice.
Dietary fiber from fruits helps reduce blood cholesterol levels and may lower risk of heart disease. Fiber is important for proper bowel function. It helps reduce constipation and diverticulosis. Fiber-containing foods such as fruits help provide a feeling of fullness with fewer calories. Whole or cut-up fruits are sources of dietary fiber; fruit juices contain little or no fiber.
Vitamin C is important for growth and repair of all body tissues, helps heal cuts and wounds, and keeps teeth and gums healthy.
Folate (folic acid) helps the body form red blood cells. Women of childbearing age who may become pregnant should consume adequate folate from foods, and in addition 400 mcg of synthetic folic acid from fortified foods or supplements. This reduces the risk of neural tube defects, spina bifida, and anencephaly during fetal development.
Eating a diet rich in vegetables and fruits may reduce risk for heart disease, including heart attack and stroke.
Eating a diet rich in some vegetables and fruits may protect against certain types of cancers.
Diets rich in foods containing fiber, such as some vegetables and fruits, may reduce the risk of heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.
Eating vegetables and fruits rich in potassium may lower blood pressure, and may also reduce the risk of developing kidney stones and help to decrease bone loss.
Eating foods such as fruits that are lower in calories per cup instead of some other higher-calorie food may be useful in helping to lower calorie intake.
Tips To Help You Eat Fruits
Keep a bowl of whole fruit on the table, counter, or in the refrigerator.
Refrigerate cut-up fruit to store for later.
Buy fresh fruits in season when they may be less expensive and at their peak flavor.
Buy fruits that are dried, frozen, and canned (in water or 100% juice) as well as fresh, so that you always have a supply on hand.
Consider convenience when shopping. Try pre-cut packages of fruit (such as melon or pineapple chunks) for a healthy snack in seconds. Choose packaged fruits that do not have added sugars.
For The Best Nutritional Value
Make most of your choices whole or cut-up fruit rather than juice, for the benefits dietary fiber provides.
Select fruits with more potassium often, such as bananas, prunes and prune juice, dried peaches and apricots, and orange juice.
When choosing canned fruits, select fruit canned in 100% fruit juice or water rather than syrup.
Vary your fruit choices. Fruits differ in nutrient content.
At breakfast, top your cereal with bananas or peaches; add blueberries to pancakes; drink 100% orange or grapefruit juice.
At lunch, pack a tangerine, banana, or grapes to eat, or choose fruits from a salad bar. Individual containers of fruits like peaches or applesauce are easy and convenient.
At dinner, add crushed pineapple to vegan coleslaw, or include orange sections or grapes in a tossed salad.
Make a Waldorf salad, with apples, celery, walnuts, and a low-calorie, low-sugar salad dressing.
Add fruit like pineapple or peaches to vegetable kabobs.
For dessert, have baked apples, pears, or a fruit salad.
Cut-up fruit makes a great snack. Either cut them yourself, or buy pre-cut packages of fruit pieces like pineapples or melons. Or, try whole fresh berries or grapes.
Dried fruits also make a great snack. They are easy to carry and store well. Because they are dried, ¼ cup is equivalent to ½ cup of other fruits.
Keep a package of dried fruit in your desk or bag. Some fruits that are available dried include apricots, apples, pineapple, bananas, cherries, figs, dates, cranberries, blueberries, prunes (dried plums), and raisins (dried grapes).
As a snack, spread vegan peanut butter on apple slices.
Frozen juice bars (100% juice) make healthy alternatives to high-fat snacks.
Make Fruit More Appealing
Many fruits taste great with a healthy dip or dressing.
Make a fruit smoothie with fresh or frozen fruit. Try bananas, peaches, strawberries, or other berries.
Try unsweetened applesauce as a healthier substitute for some of the oil when baking cakes.
Try different textures of fruits. For example, apples are crunchy, bananas are smooth and creamy, and oranges are juicy.
For fresh fruit salads, mix apples, bananas, or pears with acidic fruits like oranges, pineapple, or lemon juice to keep them from turning brown.
Fruit Tips For Children
Set a good example for children by eating fruit every day with meals or as snacks.
Offer children a choice of fruits for lunch.
Depending on their age, children can help shop for, clean, peel, or cut up fruits.
While shopping, allow children to pick out a new fruit to try later at home.
Decorate plates or serving dishes with fruit slices.
Top off a bowl of cereal with some berries. Or, make a smiley face with sliced bananas for eyes, raisins for a nose, and an orange slice for a mouth.
Offer raisins or other dried fruits instead of candy.
Make fruit kabobs using pineapple chunks, bananas, grapes, and berries.
Pack a juice box (100% juice) in child lunches instead of soda or other sugar-sweetened beverages.
Look for and choose fruit options, such as sliced apples, mixed fruit cup, or 100% fruit juice in fast food restaurants.
Offer fruit pieces and 100% fruit juice to children. There is often little fruit in “fruit-flavored” beverages or chewy fruit snacks.
Keep It Safe
Rinse fruits before preparing or eating them. Under clean, running water, rub fruits briskly with your hands to remove dirt and surface microorganisms. Dry with a clean cloth towel or paper towel after rinsing.
Increasingly today, corporations and apartment complex owners are planting lawns only in the areas around their buildings. They are leaving the outer areas of their property woodsy and natural, with tall grasses, wildflowers, evergreens, hedgerows, and bushes to provide cover and homes to wildlife. Homeowners can follow these examples on a smaller scale within their own yards.
Plant a mix of shrubs, trees, and flowers that will provide nuts, berries, seeds, and nectar to creatures throughout the year, and that will attract birds, nature's best insect controllers. Foster hollies, for instance, provide winter berries, for food, winter foliage for cover, and places to raise young. A butterfly bush (buddleia davidji) is irresistible to butterflies. Your local garden supply company is a good source of information.
Rocks and leaf and brush piles also provide cover and places to raise young.
A pond with shallow ends for birds makes a good water supply. You might want to locate it so you can watch the wildlife activity from a window throughout the year.
A window-box planter containing marigolds, zinnias, or red salvia can attract hummingbirds and butterflies to a sunny window. Hummingbirds are attracted to almost anything red.
DEAD WOOD FOR NEW LIFE
For birds and small mammals, snags (dead trees) and stumps are ecological gold. More than 150 species of creatures nest in them and feed on their insect tenants. Included are nuthatches, woodpeckers, squirrels, raccoons, bluebirds, owls, chickadees, wood ducks, and wrens.
Saving snags and stumps is crucial to kicking our pesticide habit and solving the dilemma of pesticide resistance.
Top off--don't chop down--snags 12 inches or more in diameter and away from the house. The thicker the better. Remember to check for nests and dens first. Big dead logs and underbrush away from the house are also desirable. Mosquitoes will disappear from your yard as elegant, snag-nesting swallows, swifts, and purple martins sweep through the air.
Huge great-granddaddy den trees can be homes for peregrine falcons, barn owls, and ivory-billed woodpeckers.
Making smarter food choices at the grocery store helps the planet and it animals and is important for a healthier diet. Avoiding processed foods and factory farmed products dramatically reduces your contribution to environmental destruction and animal exploitation, while improving your health.
Follow these tips to make smart and healthy food choices:
Shopping for Fruits & Vegetables:
- Choose a variety of fruits and veggies for a colorful plate!
- Buy fresh, organic fruits and veggies.
- Can’t buy fresh? Try frozen! Frozen vegetables are picked at the height of freshness, and the freezing process locks in their nutrients.
- Buying canned? Go for organic fruit in 100% fruit juice, and low sodium, organic veggies.
Try This: Check out your local farmer’s market for fresh, seasonal produce.
Shopping for Grains:
- When shopping for breads, cereals, and pastas, choose options that list one of the following as the first ingredient: brown rice, whole oats, whole rye, or whole wheat.
- Limit or eliminate refined grains like white bread, white rice, and “plain” pasta.
- Buy organic whenever possible.
- Try to get all the grains in your shopping cart to be whole grains.
Try This: Try a whole grain you’ve never tried before—like brown rice or quinoa. Then mix it up by tossing in some fresh, colorful veggies and herbs.
Shopping for Non-Dairy:
- Choose soy, rice, almond, coconut or hemp milk.
- Buy vegan cheese or go without. Most recipes that call for cheese can be made without it or the cheese can be substituted.
- When buying “no fat” products, watch out for added sugars, which might mean more calories, and worse calories, than you think.
- Flavored non-dairy milk and beverages may also contain added sugars, which may mean more calories, and worse calories, than you think.
Leave No Trace encourages people to get outdoors to enjoy nature, while doing so in a responsible manner. It refers to a set of outdoor ethics promoting conservation in the outdoors. It is built on seven principles: Plan Ahead and Prepare, Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces, Dispose of Waste Properly, Leave What You Find, Minimize Campfire Impacts, Respect Wildlife and Be Considerate of Other Visitors. The seven principles have been adapted to different activities, ecosystems and environments.
Leave No Trace provides a framework for outdoor recreation decision making, which is summarized in the following seven principles. Originally developed for the "backcountry", there are now also seven "frontcountry" principles as well:
Backcountry guidelines are guidelines for sparsely inhabited rural areas; wilderness.
Plan Ahead and Prepare: Poorly prepared people, when presented with unexpected situations, often resort to high-impact solutions that degrade the outdoors or put themselves at risk. Proper planning leads to less impact.
Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces: Damage to land occurs when surface vegetation or communities of organisms are trampled beyond repair. The resulting barren area leads to unusable trails, campsites and soil erosion.
Dispose of Waste Properly: Though most trash and litter in the backcountry is not significant in terms of the long term ecological health of an area, it does rank high as a problem in the minds of many backcountry visitors. Trash and litter are primarily social impacts which can greatly detract from the naturalness of an area. Further, backcountry users create body waste and waste water which requires proper disposal.
Leave What You Find: Minimize site alterations, such as digging tent trenches, hammering nails into trees, permanently clearing an area of rocks or twigs and removing items.
Minimize Campfire Impacts: Because the naturalness of many areas has been degraded by overuse of fires, seek alternatives to fires or use low-impact fires.
Respect Wildlife: Minimize impact on wildlife and ecosystems.
Be Considerate of Other Visitors: Following hiking etiquette and maintaining quiet allows visitors to go through the wilderness with minimal impact on other users.
Frontcountry guidelines are guidelines for day-use areas like parks and trails.
Plan Ahead: Know the local rules and regulations. Remember to bring food, water, and appropriate clothing. Bring a map so you don’t get lost. Bring a bag to pack out your trash. Don’t forget a leash for your animal. Take the time to learn about the area.
Stick to Trails: Stay on the trails as they are marked if you can. Try not to disturb wildflowers and other plants. Don’t trespass on private property.
Manage Your Companion Animal: Keep your animal on a leash at all times. Use a plastic bag to pack out their waste. Do not let your companion animal chase wildlife.
Leave What You Find: Don’t pick wildflowers. Leave rocks and other objects where they are. Do not mark or carve into living plants.
Respect Other Visitors: Be courteous to others on trails when biking or running. Make room for others on trails and be cautious when passing. Don’t disturb others by making lots of noise or playing loud music. Respect “No Trespassing” and “Do Not Enter” signs.
Trash Your Trash: Remove any trash you bring with you. Make sure it is put in a receptical or take it with you. Even natural materials, like bits of fruit, should not be thrown on the ground. They attract pests and detract from the natural beauty of an area.
BEYOND LEAVE NO TRACE
In a world of global capital circulation where the goods we produce and consume in order to enjoy the outdoors can have long-term and far-reaching social and environmental ramifications, it is important to also think beyond the Leave No Trace principals. Consider the environment when making purchases of outdoor gear, food and clothing...and respect the ecosystems you visit. Most importantly, practice environmental ethics wherever you go and with all daily choices you make.
Educate yourself and others about the places you visit
Purchase only the equipment and clothing you need
Take care of the equipment and clothing you have
Make conscientious food, equipment and clothing consumption choices
Minimize waste production
Reduce energy consumption
Get involved by conserving and restoring the places you visit
Since 1994, Leave No Trace Center For Outdoor Ethics, a non-profit organization also known as Leave No Trace, exists to educate people about their recreational impact on nature as well as the principles of Leave No Trace to prevent and minimize such impacts. The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics has partnerships with the National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, US Army Corps of Engineers and nearly 400 other partners such as colleges, universities, outfitter/guide services, small businesses, non-profits and youth serving organizations.
Each year, people are amazed to see ducks and ducklings in the most unlikely places, such as walking single-file through city streets or nesting under bank teller windows! Luckily, ducklings are precocious and mature quickly. Here are some common sense solutions to typical problems encountered in suburban and urban settings.
DUCKS NESTING IN BAD PLACES
Ducks commonly nest in poor spots, such as under bank-teller windows or the middle of busy ball fields. These nests may fall prey to cats, dogs or human malice. However, moving the eggs and nest is not only illegal according to federal law, but also the parents usually won't follow it. Instead, put up educational signs and perhaps try to fence off the nest temporarily. There isn't much else you can do. Some people have tried moving the nest, a few feet at a time, into a better area. This may work if the relocation site is nearby and you move the nest a bit by bit. However, the mother may stay on the nest making relocation impossible. It's usually best to leave the nest alone and hope for the best.
DUCKLINGS SEPARATED FROM THEIR MOTHERS
If the mother was seen recently, wait it out for an hour and see if she comes back. If the ducklings are beginning to scatter, or you're not sure how long they've been alone, put a plastic laundry basket over them, upside down, to contain them while waiting for the mother to return. She will see them through the lattice sides of the basket and make contact. If she returns, slowly approach and overturn the basket so she can collect her young.
DUCKS IN YOUR POOL
The best solution is to leave them alone, as long as the ducklings are able to get out of the pool. The mother will move her young when they are older and less vulnerable. If you must evict them, go to your local party store and buy silver mylar balloons with heavy weights on the bottom. Put the balloons around the perimeter of the entire pool, about every 20 feet. The balloons will bob in the breeze and make the ducks nervous. To enhance the harassment effect, you can also float a beach ball in the pool or use an electric boat.
DUCKLINGS STUCK IN POOLS
Most ducklings get stuck in pools because the water level is too low. The solution is to either raise the water level (simplest approach), fish them out with a net, or create a ramp angled <45 degrees, with a wet towel attached to it for traction.
If you know where the duckling came from, then it's best to take the duckling to that pond for release. The duckling will soon rejoin his family. Sometimes other ducks will even foster-parent the young duckling. If the duckling was left behind for a while and his origin is unknown i.e. fished out of storm drain or spillway, you can contain the duckling with an upside-down laundry basket (as described above) and monitor to see if the mother returns. If she doesn't come back after 4-8 hours, call your local fish and game agency to locate a wildlife rehabilitator. These are tough judgment calls. If you need to hold the duckling(s) in captivity for a few hours, DO NOT give them water to swim in because ducklings are not waterproof until they're older. They may become chilled and die. Just give them a shallow pan of water (to drink) and some crushed, non-sugary cereal like Cheerios.
REMOVING DUCKS FROM AN AREA
You can shepherd ducks by creating a "moving wall," i.e. have people hold sheets between them and move behind the ducks, forcing them to walk in the desired direction. However, consider waiting to move them out because the young may be vulnerable. Sometimes you may need to temporarily feed them greens like kale, spinach and poultry starter food (available from an animal feed store,) and set up a shallow kiddy pool with ramps until the ducklings can fly. Particularly in cities, early eviction can mean certain death.
MOVING A DUCK FAMILY FOR THEIR SAFETY
The only way to catch adult ducks is to do so at night (they don't see well in darkness), by creeping up on them while they sleep, then gently covering them with a lightweight blanket or towel and scooping them into a carrier. Catch the ducklings next with a net or sheet, but try to minimize stress as they will be scared and may scatter. Be sure the net doesn't have large holes in which they may escape or become entangled. Consult your state fish and game agency prior to any intervention for any special authorization you might need.
GETTING DUCKLINGS OUT OF SEWER GRATES
These are tricky situations. Often you'll have to contact your town's Public Works Department for assistance with removing the grate. The police can be a valuable resource in terms of helping you contact the correct town employee. You'll need a fishing net or a fabric "hammock" stretched between two golf clubs to catch the ducklings below the grate. You may have to be creative in terms of capture strategies, depending on the logistics of where they're stuck. Once you catch them, make sure they are dry (or use a hair dryer) before setting them back outside for the mother to retrieve. Put an upside-down laundry basket over them until the mother comes (so they don't scatter), and then slowly lift it when she reappears. If she doesn't come back by nightfall, contact your local wildlife rehabilitator.
Both orcas (commonly known as killer whales) and dolphins are members of the dolphin family Delphinidae -- orcas are the largest members. More than 500 orcas, dolphins and other members of the dolphin family are held in captivity in the United States. Before the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) was passed in 1972, some 1,133 dolphins were captured in U.S. waters. Since 1961, 134 orcas have been captured worldwide for aquariums; of those only 28 are still alive, when a normal lifespan in the wild is 50 years. While the MMPA made it more difficult to capture marine mammals from the wild, aquariums can still apply for permits or import animals caught in other countries. Whether wild caught or captive born, orcas and dolphins in captivity are sentenced to a life of confinement deprived of normal social and environmental interaction.
The following are some of the myths surrounding captive marine mammals.
MYTH: The needs of orcas and dolphins are met in captivity.
Orcas and dolphins are extremely social, intelligent, and active animals. In the wild they are perpetually mentally and physically challenged by their life in the ocean and are almost always on the move. Orcas and dolphins in aquariums do not have a constantly changing aquatic environment to challenge them and their small tanks are comparable in size to human prison cells.
In the wild, dolphin populations are comprised of females and calves. Adult and sub-adult male dolphins form separate groups and form strong bonds in pairs or trios lasting up to ten years. Orcas live in maternal groups or pods consisting of family members including related adult males. No orca has yet been seen to transfer permanently from one pod to another. Studies of acoustical recordings show that each pod retains a unique dialect of vocalizations used in communication. Even after decades in captivity, orcas continue to produce the sounds of their natal pod.
In captivity these social organizations are restricted or nonexistent, as family members are traded and sold to other aquariums. In some cases calves have been removed from their mothers when they were only 6 months of age. When calves are separated from their mothers, it ensures that the normal social structure will never be developed.
MYTH: Marine mammals live longer in captivity.
Current research shows that there is no significant difference between the longevity of captive orcas and dolphins and wild orcas and dolphins. Despite the controlled environment, routine veterinary care and medications including anti-depressants, captive dolphins and orcas do not outlive their wild counterparts.
Looking at the bigger picture, the insistence on relying on mortality as a barometer of health of species is a distraction, taking attention away from the real issue of quality of life for the unfortunate animals who are forced to live in small barren enclosures for their entire lives.
MYTH: Marine parks conserve orcas and dolphins through breeding.
The marine mammals most commonly bred in captivity are not threatened or endangered species, so continued breeding in captivity exists to produce the next generation of park entertainers and to ensure continued profits. Aquariums have no intention of returning captive-bred animals to the wild. In fact, they claim that the success of such an endeavor would be unlikely and vehemently oppose release efforts.
Real conservation efforts focus on protecting habitat and the animals' place in that habitat.
MYTH: Aquarium research helps us understand and protect wild whales and dolphins.
Much of the research done at marine parks focuses around reproduction and maintaining the health of captive animals to ensure the perpetuation of profits for the industry. Results of studies conducted in captivity may not be adequately extrapolated to wild animals for several reasons:
Captive marine mammals live in small, sterile enclosures and are deprived of their natural activity level, social groups, and interactions with their natural environment.
Many captive marine mammals develop stereotypic behavior and/or aggression not known to occur in the wild.
What we have learned from captive research is that orcas and dolphins are more intelligent than previously imagined, providing more evidence that a life in captivity is inhumane.
MYTH: Marine parks provide valuable education and teach people respect for nature.
The principal education component at these parks comes from the "shows" where the animals perform tricks and stunts much like circus clowns. The education offered is often inaccurate, incomplete and misleading. Marine mammals cannot behave normally in a situation that deprives them of their natural habitat and social structure. Patrons witness and learn about abnormal animal behavior. The real message conveyed is not one of respect, but rather that it's all right to abuse nature.
MYTH: Most people feel marine parks are doing the right thing.
In a current national survey, almost all respondents indicated captive marine mammals should be kept under the most natural conditions possible, even if it meant the animals were more difficult to observe. Three-quarters of the American public further expressed a preference for marine mammals displaying natural behaviors rather than perform "tricks and stunts." Four-fifths of the national sample believed zoos and aquariums should not be permitted to display marine mammals unless major educational and/or scientific benefits resulted. Three-fifths objected to capturing wild dolphins and whales for display in zoos and aquariums. Three-quarters disapproved of keeping whales and dolphins in captivity if it resulted in significantly shortened lifespans.
A tremendous amount of money and public support was raised around the efforts to rehabilitate and release Keiko, the star of the movie Free Willy. This would not have been possible if people believed that aquariums were the right place for orcas.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Do not patronize any form of entertainment that uses animals. Tell your friends and family to boycott all aquariums that hold captive marine mammals for entertainment. Support only those aquariums involved solely in the rehabilitation and release of marine mammals, or the care of animals that cannot be released.
Support legislation to protect captive and wild marine mammals. If you witness a wild marine mammal being harassed or poached, contact the National Marine Fisheries Service. The national toll-free phone number for the enforcement division is 1-800-853-1964.
If you witness a captive marine mammal being neglected or mistreated at a marine park, contact the national headquarters of the U.S. Department of Agriculture:
Performing captive wildlife -- elephants, lions, tigers, bears, baboons, monkeys, camels, llamas -- all endure years of physical and psychological pain and suffering in traveling acts to "entertain" an uninformed audience.
Animals used in the circus and other traveling acts travel thousands of miles each year without water, in railroad cars or trucks not air conditioned in summer or heated in winter. Elephants are forced to stand in their own waste, chained in place for up to 100 hours while being transported from one performance to another. These performing animals do not receive the proper care, nutrition and environmental enrichment required for their well-being.
Elephants suffer terribly while being used for human "entertainment." Elephants have three basic needs -- live vegetation for food, family relationships, and freedom of movement -- all of which are denied in the circus setting. In captivity, baby elephants are wrenched from their mother at one year of age and are trained with abusive domineering methods. Perhaps as the result of the ongoing stress and abuse they endure, there have been dozens of premature deaths of elephants used in the circus.
Compare the existence of captive elephants to those left in the wild. Elephants in the wild live as long as 70 years. Wild elephants live in herds and have a large extended family with strong social bonds. Baby elephants stay very close to their mothers for the first three years of their lives, and the females remain with their extended families throughout their lifetime. They roam up to 25 miles a day foraging for food and water. They take dust baths and find comfort during hot weather by wading in water and standing in the shade.
Large exotic cats used in the circus don't fare any better. In the wild, large cats roam for miles each day; they hunt for food, sleep in the sun and lead a fairly solitary existence. Exotic cats used in the circus are allowed none of these behaviors. They live and travel in small cages in close confinement with other cats. They have little room to move around and are never provided with any environmental enrichment.
Elephant training is almost always based on fear and intimidation; trainers must break the spirit of these magnificent animals in order to control them. It is not uncommon for an elephant to be tied down and beaten for days at a time while being trained to "perform." During their training and throughout their lives in captivity elephants are beaten with clubs, shocked with electric prods, stabbed with sharp (ankus) hooks and whipped.
Cats used in the circus are also trained by inherently cruel and dominating methods to force them to perform tricks that are unnatural and undignified. Exotic cats are often whipped, choked and beaten during their training sessions. To force a cat, such as a tiger, to stand on her hind legs, her front paws are often burned with cigarette lighters. To make the cats used in the circus run "enthusiastically" into the circus arena, they are often prodded with pipes or frightened by loud noises to make them appear excited to perform.
It is no wonder that out of frustration and rage elephants used in circuses have been responsible for over 40 human deaths worldwide since 1990. Denied their natural behaviors, and stressed by being kept in close quarters and being forced to constantly perform inane tricks, captive cats also strike back against those responsible for their confinement. There have been more than 75 documented human attacks by felines since 1990.
No traveling animal act, regardless of size or appearance, is capable of handling exotic wildlife in a humane manner. Federal USDA inspection records of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus show more than 100 instances of substandard animal keeping between 1992 and 1997 alone. Although such a record of non-compliant items is not rare, citations are seldom issued. Each year only approximately a dozen of the 2,000+ licensed animal exhibitors in the U.S. are cited, and just one or two may have their license suspended or revoked by the USDA. Fines are frequently suspended.
Despite poor enforcement of animal welfare laws to protect animals in circuses, hope is on the horizon. A movement is underway to restrict or ban traveling animal acts at the local and state level. Traveling acts using animals have been banned in a number of cities in Australia and Canada. Several towns in the U.S. have prohibited animal acts and a few large cities are considering bans. Bills restricting circuses have been introduced in several state legislatures in recent years, and legislation was introduced in Congress to prohibit the use of elephants in circuses and for rides.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Do not patronize any form of entertainment that uses animals. Tell your friends and family to boycott all animal circuses and other animal acts. Instead, support one of the growing number of circuses that do not use animals. Do not allow elephant rides or other animal acts to be used for fundraising purposes in your community. Contact the event sponsors and urge them to promote humane, animal-free circuses instead. Support legislation to protect captive exotic animals.
If you witness animal cruelty at an event, document it in writing and/or with photographs or videotape and report it to your local humane society and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA): USDA Animal Care, 4700 River Road, Unit 84, Riverdale, MD 20737-1234, Phone: 301-734-4981 Fax 301-734-4978.
If you've tabled enough to build up an e-mail list or social media following of 100 or more people, you may want to hold a public meeting. There are several good reasons to hold a meeting: to form a local group, to show an animal or environmental film, or to have a speaker urge people to take action on a particular issue. Be sure you're clear about the purpose of your meeting, as this affects how you plan it.
SETTING THE DATE
If you are inviting a speaker, first call and find out when he or she is available. If you intend to show a film or video, find out when you can get it and what equipment you'll need to show it. These factors will determine the date of your meeting. Before you finalize the date, call the parks and recreation department, chamber of commerce and area schools to make sure your meeting doesn't conflict with any major sporting events or local community gatherings. Give yourself at least six weeks to get ready.
FINDING THE RIGHT SPOT
Most cities have rooms or auditoriums in libraries, community centers or government office buildings that local groups can use free of charge. Try calling the "facilities management" office of the city or county government, or the mayor's office. Universities have excellent facilities, including auditoriums, that students and faculty members can often use free of charge.
Send in any required permit applications as early as possible. It could take several weeks to get an application approved, especially if it has to be submitted to a monthly town council meeting. If you are denied a permit, politely ask exactly why, then try to enlist a lawyer to call and appeal the denial. If you can't find lawyers who will volunteer their services, call the nearest office of the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union). They may be able to help.
If you can't find a government or library room, try renting a room from a church, the YMCA, an event center or a school. In any case, go and see the room first. It's better to have a room that's a little too small. A crowded room will make the meeting seem more successful than a large, half-empty room.
PUBLICIZING THE EVENT
Once you've got the date, place, topic and speaker chosen, you're ready to publicize your meeting. Here are some ways to do it:
Distribute and post flyers.
Create social media event pages.
E-mail details to the people on your contact list.
Make a public service announcement over the radio or on TV.
Get a newspaper listing in the "event" or "calendar" section.
Send a news release to local newspapers.
Most radio stations feature a community bulletin board to air free announcements of local events (called public service announcements or PSAs). You'll have to call each station to find out its policy and time limit (usually 20 seconds) for these announcements; they sometimes require a typewritten or e-mail notice up to a month in advance. Local TV stations are also worth checking for free announcements.
Newspapers often offer free services to publicize community group events. Try both the established publications and the small, local papers. Once again, you may need to send a written or e-mail notice a few weeks ahead of time.
Get others involved to help post flyers, make some telephone calls, spread the word on social media or help you set up the meeting.
If your speaker is willing, try to schedule talk shows or newspaper interviews while he or she is in town.
CONDUCTING THE MEETING
Most of us are nervous on the day we're doing something special or new. While you may not be able to avoid being anxious, you can eliminate some worry (and maybe avert some misery) if you are well prepared.
A few days before the meeting: Call your speaker to confirm the date and time he or she is expected. Find out how the speaker would like to be introduced, and take a few minutes to write and practice the introduction. Confirm your room rental. Make sure your equipment is reserved and that you have adequate extension cords to hook up the equipment.
The day of your meeting: Arrive at the room at least an hour ahead of time. Set up the equipment you'll be using and make sure it works. Lay out literature on a table in the back of the room, and arrange chairs near the front of the room.
As people arrive: Be at the door to greet people. Circulate a signup sheet, but remove it when the meeting is ready to start.
Introduce the speaker to start the meeting and thank him or her at the end of the meeting. Ask people if they've added their names to the signup sheet, and thank them for coming to your meeting. Urge them to get involved. Give them something specific to do: write a letter, make a telephone call, share your social media pages, or hand out leaflets. Always end on an upbeat note.
A few days later, send a short thank-you to your speaker; you may want to invite him or her again.
Send a follow-up message suggesting specific actions to people who attended the meeting, and be sure to add any new contacts to your mailing list. Post photos and videos of the event on public media.
An essential part of any movement for social change is the effort to create new legislation. You don’t need to be an expert on law or politics to lobby your elected officials, but you do need to know how to communicate with them effectively.
The first step is to find out who they are. Next, get to know as many legislators as you can. Don’t wait until you or your group want to introduce a bill or to lobby your legislator to vote one way or the other on an issue. Lay the foundation before you start a legislative campaign. Attend “town meetings” where legislators meet with voters to answer questions. Write to thank them for taking specific positions that you support.
Arrange to meet with them, even if it’s on an issue that you don’t feel strongly about. The important thing is to establish a rapport. It’s also very helpful to get to know elected officials’ aides, who are often much more accessible than the legislators themselves and can often provide you with good “inside” information.
Legislators prefer to be contacted by the following means (in order of preference): Individualized letters by mail; Phone calls; Individualized letters by fax; Individual e-mails; Form letters and e-mails. Be sure to provide your name, address and phone number on the envelope, in the letter, and in all e-mail messages and make sure you are able to articulate the issue should you get your elected official or an aide on the phone.
In your correspondence with elected officials, discuss only one issue at a time. Keep it short; one-page letters are best, and two pages is the maximum. The more personal the correspondence appears, the more seriously it will be taken. State the purpose of your letter or e-mail in the first paragraph. Support your argument with facts, not emotions. Don’t assume that the legislator knows all about the issue. Provide background information. Identify the bill or ordinance by title and number. Be polite and positive. Never threaten; today’s opponent could be tomorrow’s ally on another issue. Clearly state what you want him or her to do. Don’t be self-righteous about being a “citizen” or a “taxpayer”; your readers will assume that you are both.
When addressing the letter and envelope, be sure to use the proper form for the address and salutation. On the envelope and inside address, refer to any legislator as “The Honorable.” The salutation for state or federal representatives is “Mr.” or “Ms.” The salutation for state or federal senators is “Senator.”
When writing to U.S. senators, use the following format and address:
The Honorable [first and last name]
Washington, DC 20510
When writing to U.S. representatives, use the following format and address:
The Honorable [first and last name]
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
MEETING WITH LEGISLATORS
When meeting with elected officials, make an appointment well in advance. Go by yourself or, at most, with one other person. f you are going with a group of people, decide on a spokesperson ahead of time.
Dress conservatively and professionally. Know about the legislator and his or her voting record; compliment him or her on past achievements. Be friendly and positive.
Don’t turn down a chance to meet with a legislative aide; go to the meeting and behave as if you were meeting with the elected official.
Know the title and bill number of the legislation that you want to discuss. Provide one-page fact sheets to give background information.
Don’t speak as a member of a national organization. Know your facts. Don’t become emotional. Don’t waste the legislator’s time; make your points briefly and clearly, and then thank him or her and leave promptly.
Remember that how you communicate is as important as what you communicate. People who care about the earth and animals are often stereotyped as too emotional. We can change that image by doing our homework, staying calm and polite, and keeping our statements concise.