Archive for the ‘deforestation’ Category

see the forest for the trees

September 5, 2008

What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and to one another.

~Mahatma Gandhi

They are the lungs of the Earth, and they fill our lungs with oxygen. They nourish the soil and provide us with fresh water. They regulate climate. They are home to diverse and increasingly endangered life forms. They hold secrets we have yet to discover.

Forests aren’t just the stuff of fairy tales, but they are heading that way. Deforestation continues at a rate of 32 million acres per year. But you can help stop it.

Protect an acre
Through Conservation International, you can protect an acre of forest for $15

Adopt an acre
Through the Nature Conservancy, you can adopt an acre for $50

Buy certified wood and paper products
Check to see if the product you’re about to purchase is certified by FSC (Forest Stewardship Council). Their logo looks like this:

eco jotting

September 2, 2008

I came across these adorable pocket-sized “garden” notebooks today by ecojot while at an equally cute little shop in Park Slope called Fiber Notion. The notebooks are made of 100% post-consumer recycled paper in Canada (sweatshop free!) and the covers come in a range of great themes designed by Carolyn Gavin.

The dyes are vegetable based and the recycled paper is chlorine- and acid-free. Plus the mill they’re made in is landfill-gas powered. And to top it off, proceeds from the notebooks go to Evergreen, a non-profit group that introduces healthy and sustainable living to outdoor urban environments.

These little puppies are great for throwing in your bag, especially if you do your best thinking on the go. I haven’t been able to find these exact notebooks online, but you can get other notebooks by ecojot here. Brick-and-mortar shops that carry them include Anthropologie, The Container Store, and Kate’s Paperie.

end mountaintop removal

August 1, 2008

The destructive process of mountaintop removal coal mining must be stopped. It destroys entire mountains, ecosystems, communities, and economies. Here, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. explains:

“In May 2002 I flew over the coalfields of Kentucky and West Virginia. From the air, I came face to face with one, but only one, of the enormous costs we pay for our nation’s dependence on coal. Leveled mountains, devastated communities, wrecked economies and ruined lives—this is the coal truth.

Half of our electricity comes from coal. In the Appalachian chain, ancient mountains are dismantled through a form of strip mining called mountaintop removal. We’re cutting down these historic landscapes—where Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett roamed and that are the source of America’s values and culture—with giant machines called draglines. These behemoths stand 22 stories, cost half a billion dollars, and practically dispense with the need for human labor.

That, indeed is the point. I recall a conversation that I had with my father when I was 14 years old and he was fighting strip mining in Appalachia. There was no environmental issue about which my father cared more passionately than strip mining. He visited the Appalachian coalfields in 1966 and many times thereafter. He explained to me that the strip miners were not just destroying the environment, they were permanently impoverishing the region; there was no way that Appalachian communities could rebuild an economy from the barren moonscapes the strip industry left behind. “And,” he told me, “they are doing it to break the unions.” Back then there were 114,000 unionized mine workers in West Virginia digging coal from tunnels and supporting the families and communities of Appalachia. Today, there are less than 11,000 miners in West Virginia taking the same amount of coal and only a fraction of them are unionized because the strip industry isn’t.” Read more…

Join over 30,000 others who are standing up against this heinous act against the environment.

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it just takes a dollar

July 29, 2008
One dollar can buy you a heck of a lot more than a lottery ticket. Through Plant A Billion Trees, a Nature Conservancy initiative, every dollar you donate will plant a tree in the deforested Atlantic Forest of Brazil. It’s home to 23 primate species, 1,000 bird species, and over 20,000 plant species. The restored forestland will take 10 million tons of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere every year, the equivalent of taking 2 million cars off the road.

Through this program, The Nature Conservancy is working with local partners to restore 2.5 million acres of land and plant 1 billion trees in 7 years, and you can be a part of it. See below for details.

why smoking stinks

July 8, 2008
[First I’d like to say to my auntie, if this post upsets you, sorry! I’m only thinking of your health and well being — that’s all.]

(Image: Chris Jordan. Cigarette butts, 2005. 5 x 10 feet)

Ok, now let’s get down to it.

Aside from the obvious: cancer, emphysema, COPD, brittle bones, yellow teeth, yellow nails, stinky breath, smelly hair, and stinky everything-one-owns, there’s the health of the world to consider.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), tobacco is the second major cause of death in the world. What? That shocked even me. (More alarming facts about tobacco from WHO here.) What other evil do cigarettes impose on the planet?

Tobacco poisons land and waterways.
Large amounts of pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers are used in the farming of tobacco. In the US, one estimate puts yearly use of pesticide on tobacco in the US at over 25 million pounds. Some of these toxic pesticides are linked to birth defects, cancer, and/or nerve damage.[1] Naturally, what’s put into the soil soon runs off into waterways, poisoning lakes, streams, and eventually the ocean.

Today, like many other industries, tobacco production is moving out of the US to developing nations. These countries don’t have the same environmental regulations as the US, so the ecological toll could be greater.

Tobacco production contributes to deforestation.
Trees are cut down to build tobacco curing barns and to fuel the curing process.[2] There’s also the paper the tobacco is rolled in to consider. It’s estimated that one tree is sacrificed for every 300 cigarettes (~10.5 packs) produced. [3] We all know by now that deforestation is a major contributor to climate change.

Tobacco crops also eat into land that would be viable for farming food.

Unextinguished cigarettes cause forest fires.

And the butt…
The most littered trash in America (and some say the planet) are cigarette butts. While estimates vary on how long it takes for them to break down (from 10 months to 12 years), the plastic toxins in the butts never go away. They find there way into waterways and can adversely affect (read: kill) aquatic micro-organisms at the bottom of the food chain. And if we remember anything from grade school science class, what happens to the creatures at the bottom of the food chain affects us all.

So how can you or someone you care about quit smoking?
I know people who’ve quit cold turkey, using the patch, taking Chantix, or reading a book (like this one by Allen Carr, which gets a ton of good reviews). There are several online resources to help kick the habit. Here are a few:

In New York City, dial 311 to get free nicotine patches.


1. US Geological Survey, Pesticide National Synthesis Project. National Totals by Crop and Compound. March 1998. In: Pesticide Action Network.
2. Geist, HJ. Global assessment of deforestation related to tobacco farming. Tobacco Control. 1999;8:18-28.
3. Muller, M. Tobacco in the Third World: Tommorrow’s Epidemic? London: War on Want, 1976.

Additional sources:

5 actions you can take right now

June 5, 2008

1. Slow global warming: Urge your senators to push for clean energy
2. Protect children from airborne lead with stricter EPA standards
3. Stop mountaintop removal coal mining
4. Save Yellowstone and The Greater Rockies from coal mining
5. Stop the clock on species extinction

The endangered Philippine eagle

Mountaintop removal coal mine in WV
(Vivian Stockman)

how much good would good wood do?

June 5, 2008

One of the biggest contributors to climate change is deforestation. And if we don’t pay attention to the labeling on things like paper products (tp, napkins, stationery), building materials, or furniture, we won’t know if we’re contributing, too.

When my boyfriend and I were renovating our kitchen last year, one of my criteria for cabinets was that they be made from FSC-certified wood (The Forest Stewardship Council is an independent organization that certifies if manufacturers of tree-based products are sourcing materials from sustainably managed forests). We did some initial shopping at big box stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot. When I’d ask the sales people if they had any cabinets available in FSC-certified wood, they didn’t know what the heck I was talking about. So we had to do some research.

Luckily, we found Neil Kelly Cabinets. We really expected that their prices would take us way over budget, since their cabinets are FSC certified and contain low to no volatile organic compounds (VOCs). But we got an estimate. Surprisingly, their prices were on par with those at the big box stores. The un-eco-friendly part is that we had them shipped from the West Coast. (Can you say huge carbon footprint? Well, I guess it’s smaller than if we would have ordered cabinets made in China).

They’re not only responsibly made, they look really great, too.

When buying any wood or paper products, look for the FSC seal.

Pledge to buy good wood here.