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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
If you are planning a balloon release for a special occasion, understand that the moment or two of delight the balloons provide can have deadly consequences for the environment. When you release balloons you are littering and your litter creates numerous threats to wildlife. Before you plan a balloon release ask yourself, “What happens to the balloons? Where do they go?”
While some balloons burst, others gradually deflate and fall back to earth where they can have cruel consequences for wildlife. Dolphins, whales, turtles, and many other marine species, as well as terrestrial animals such as cows, dogs, sheep, tortoises, birds and other animals have all been hurt or killed by balloons. The animal, unless rescued, will die from the balloon blocking its digestive tract. Unable to take in any nutrients, the animal slowly starves to death. Sea turtles are particularly at risk because they naturally prey on jellies and balloons can easily be mistaken for this prey. Wildlife of all kinds can become entangled in a deflated balloon and/or its ribbon, leaving the animal unable to move or eat.
Surveys of beach litter show that the amount of balloons and balloon pieces found on beaches has tripled in the past 10 years and those balloons can take years to break down. The balloon industry has set “standards” for themselves claiming that releasing balloons that are hand-tied, made of “biodegradable” latex, and without ribbons are environmentally friendly. Natural latex may be biodegradable, but after adding chemicals, plasticizers and artificial dyes it is no longer “natural”. It may degrade after several years, but it can do a lot of harm during those years. The ribbons or strings that are tied to the balloons also last years and can entangle any animal that comes in contact with them.
Many defenders of balloon releases are in the balloon business. They profit from the sale of balloons and many encourage people to disregard everything scientists, wildlife rehabilitators and conservationists are reporting about the impact balloons have on animals and the environment. Mass balloon releases bring in big profits. Conservationists are finding many more of the so-called “biodegradable” latex balloons, because the balloon industry has promoted this “alternative” with false information. But it should fall on the consumer to act responsibly and not risk wildlife just to mark an occasion.
Some states and countries have enacted laws regarding the release of balloons. The Balloon Council, and other balloon industry entities, spend millions of dollars lobbying to keep balloon releases legal. This multi-billion dollar industry, by promoting their product, actually encourages consumers to litter. Releasing balloons should be included in already existing litter laws. The practice is, by all definitions, littering.
Sky lanterns also return to earth as litter, and are also often marketed as “biodegradable” or “earth- friendly”. Both claims are untrue. Sky lanterns are made with treated paper, wires and/or a bamboo ring. They can travel for miles and always come down as dangerous litter. Sky lanterns have caused huge losses of property by starting structure fires and wildfires. This flaming aerial trash has also caused serious burns to humans and has killed animals that eat them or become entangled in their fallen remains.
Entire countries have banned the use of sky lanterns, including Austria, Australia, Brazil, New Zealand, Spain, Germany and parts of Canada. In the USA, bans include California, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia and Washington. Other states, including Kansas and Missouri and the New York Division of Fire Prevention and Control are also looking into adopting changes to fire codes to regulate the use of sky lanterns.
The FAA has raised concerns over the use of floating lanterns as they can be sucked into aircraft engines. And there are even more consequences to this practice. In a report out of the UK, “Chinese Lanterns Report for Defra by WFU”, the Women’s Food and Farming Union determined: “The results were staggering, all over the country farmers had discovered them in their fields; loss of livestock, horses, and cattle was reported as well as fires and machinery damage. Worries about the metal being cut into small needles and then incorporated into hay or silage were uppermost in many farmers’ thoughts and so the WFU undertook to provide enough evidence to obtain a total ban on their use throughout the UK.”
There are many environmentally and animal friendly alternatives to balloon releases. If the occasion calls for a remembrance, why not plant a memory garden or just one tree? Though certainly not in keeping with a “reduce, reuse and recycle” lifestyle, there are pinwheels and streamers that can still offer a lovely display. Be certain that none are discarded at the site or beyond, as the purpose of not littering will be defeated.
Other alternatives to a balloon release are:
Blow bubbles (Collect all empty bubble bottles and wands.)
Light candles (Use safety precautions and collect all spent candles.)
Float flowers or flower petals (Many people feel a sense of peace and of letting go when they watch the flowers float away on a stream or lake.)
Fly a kite (Never near trees or lines where a kite could become entangled and harm birds.)
But never choose to release butterflies. They promote the breeding and exploitation of animals. A butterfly’s life is short. Not a minute should be spent in a container. Many of these beautiful creatures do not survive to fly away. And Lepidopterists warn that butterfly releases are not good for the environment, often introducing one species where it may not belong.
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.
About half the air pollution comes from cars and trucks. Two important ways to reduce air pollution are to drive less -- even a little less -- and to drive smart. Taking fewer trips in your car or truck helps cut air pollution. And adopting smart driving habits reduces your car's emissions. Driving less doesn't mean you have to stay home. Try combining driving with alternative modes of transportation:
Walk or ride a bicycle
Shop by phone or mail
Ride public transit
Driving smart keeps pollution at a minimum:
Use cruise control on the highway
Obey the speed limit
Combine your errands into one trip
Keep your car tuned and support the smog check program
Don't top off at the gas pumps
Replace your car's air filter
Keep your tires properly inflated
That's not all. When shopping for your next car...
Look for the most efficient, lowest polluting model--or even use either a non-polluting car or zero emission vehicle. (Check out ARB's Guide to Cleaner Cars) If you must drive on days with unhealthy air, drive your newest car. Newer cars generally pollute less than older models.
CHOOSE AIR-FRIENDLY PRODUCTS
Many products you use in your home, in the yard, or at the office are made with smog-forming chemicals that escape into the air. Here are a few ways to put a lid on products that pollute:
Select products that are water-based or have low amounts of volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
Use water-based paints. Look for paints labeled "zero-VOC"
Paint with a brush, not a sprayer
Store solvents in air-tight containers
Use a push or electric lawn mower
Start your barbecue briquettes with an electric probe, or use a propane or natural gas barbecue
Saving energy helps reduce air pollution. Whenever you burn fossil fuel, you pollute the air. Use less gasoline, natural gas, and electricity (power plants burn fossil fuels to generate electricity):
Turn off the lights when you leave a room
Replace energy hungry incandescent lights with fluorescent lighting
Check with your utility company for energy conservation tips, like purchasing energy saving appliances
Use a thermostat that automatically turns off the air conditioner or heater when you don't need them
Add insulation to your home
Use a fan instead of air conditioning
Use an EPA-approved wood burning stove or fireplace insert
Heat small meals in a microwave oven
Insulate your water heater
Install low flow showerheads
Dry your clothes on a clothesline
It takes energy to make and sell the products we use. Here are ways to cut energy use, reduce air pollution, and save money:
Choose recycled products
Choose products with recyclable packaging
Reuse paper bags
Recycle paper, plastics, and metals
Print and photocopy on both sides of the paper
WATCH OUT FOR THE SMALL STUFF
When you breathe, very small particles -- such as dust, soot, and acid droplets -- can slip past your lung's natural defense system. These particles get stuck deep in your lungs and may cause problems -- more asthma attacks, bronchitis and other lung diseases, decreased resistance to infections, and even premature death for the elderly or sick. Here are a few things you can do to reduce particulate matter pollution and protect yourself:
Don't use your wood stove or fireplace on days with unhealthy air
Avoid using leaf blowers and other types of equipment that raise a lot of dust - use a rake or broom instead
Drive slowly on unpaved roads
Drive less, particularly on days with unhealthy air
Avoid vigorous physical activity on days with unhealthy air
KNOW THE INSIDE STORY
Air pollution is a problem indoors and out. Most people spend at least 80 percent of their lives indoors. Here are some ways you can reduce pollution in your home, office or school:
Send smokers outside
Products such as cleaning agents, paints, and glues often contain harmful chemicals - use them outdoors or with plenty of ventilation indoors
Use safer products, such as baking soda instead of harsher chemical cleaners
Don't heat your home with a gas cooking stove
Have your gas appliances and heater regularly inspected and maintained
Clean frequently to remove dust and molds
SPEAK UP FOR CLEAN AIR
Do what you can to reduce air pollution. It will make a difference. Use your civic influence to improve regional and national air pollution standards:
Write to your local newspaper
Support action for healthy air
Let your elected representative know you support action for clean air
Reducing waste does not mean you have to reduce what you buy, it means shopping with the environment in mind. Consider the environmental impact of each product before you buy it. Make a list of what you need before you go shopping; this will reduce impulse buying. Buy in bulk. It is cheaper and eliminates small containers and excess packaging, which accounts for 50 percent of our domestic trash. You have bought your laundry soap like this for years. Think about what else you can buy in bulk!
Avoid buying throwaways that can't be recycled. For instance, carry a camera but if you need to use a disposable camera make sure that it can be recycled when you get the film developed. Some companies that make one-time use cameras reuse and recycle up to 90 percent of the parts of their cameras when consumers send them in for developing. Installing low-flow shower heads and faucets can save a family of four 280 gallons of water per month. Seldom used items, such as appliances and party supplies, often collect dust, rust and take up valuable storage space. Consider renting or borrowing them the next time they're needed. Remember, every time you make a purchase you cast your vote to protect the environment.
Learning to reuse is easy, and after a little practice it will become second nature. Here are some great ways to reuse our precious resources. Reuse shopping bags or buy canvas bags and use them when you shop. Buy durable high quality goods for a longer life outside the landfill. Although durable goods may cost a little more at first, they will save you money and help save the environment in the long run.
Before throwing anything away, think about how each item can be reused. Be sure to use both sides of a piece of paper before recycling it. Donate clothing, furniture and appliances to charity. Hospitals and nursing homes often accept old magazines and schools reuse many items in their art and theater classes. Almost all glass, plastic and metal containers can be reused for storage in the kitchen or the garage. Think before you toss.
If you want to reduce and reuse at the same time, take a two liter pop bottle and fill it with water. Add a few stones to weigh it down, place it in the tank of your toilet, and you will have reused a pop bottle and reduced two liters of water every time you flush.
Reducing is the best way to protect the environment. However, if you can't reduce something, reuse it, and if you can't reuse it, recycle it. Recycling means collecting, processing, marketing, and ultimately using materials that were once discarded. For example, this morning's newspaper can be recycled into insulation, packing material, wrapping paper and more newspaper. Plastic pop and milk jugs are recycled into lumber that is used for making durable playground equipment and park benches.
Many different materials can be recycled. Among these are aluminum cans, glass bottles and jars, plastics, tin cans, steel cans, brass, copper, car batteries, computer paper, office paper, corugated cardboard, motor oil, scrap iron and steel and tires.
Separate aluminum, steel and tin cans from other metals. If you aren't sure whether a can is aluminum or steel, check with a magnet. A magnet will stick to steel and tin but will not stick to aluminum. Wipe or lightly rinse all cans and make sure they are dry before recycling them. Prepare newspapers by folding them into brown paper bags or bundle with string into one foot stacks. Prepare glass by rinsing and removing metal or plastic rims and lids. Sort by color: brown, green and clear. Prepare plastics by rinsing and separating by numbers. If plastic is recyclable, it will have a number on the bottom of the container. Break down corrugated cardboard boxes. Separate office paper into white, colored and glossy stacks. Be careful to remove sticky tabs and paper clips. Motor oil should be collected in no larger than five gallon containers and be free of contaminants. Tires are accepted from individuals no more than five per year.
The fur ads we see in magazines and commercials portray fur coats as a symbol of elegance. But these ads fail to show how the original owners of these coats met their gruesome deaths. Approximately 3.5 million furbearing animals -- raccoons, coyotes, bobcats, lynxes, opossums, nutria, beavers, muskrats, otters, and others -- are killed each year by trappers in the United States. Another 2.7 million animals are raised on fur "farms." Despite the fur industry's attempts to downplay the role of trapping in fur "production," it is estimated that more than half of all fur garments come from trapped animals.
RANCH RAISED FUR
Some people believe that animals raised in captivity on fur "ranches" do not suffer. This is not the case. Trapping and "ranching" have both similar and disparate cruelties involved, and neither is humane. "Ranched" animals, mostly minks and foxes, spend their entire lives in appalling conditions, only to be killed by painful and primitive methods.
Approximately one half of the fur coats made in the United States and Canada come from captive animals bred, born and raised on fur farms. These operations range from family-owned businesses with 50 animals to large operations with thousands of animals. But regardless of their size or location, "the manner in which minks (and other furbearers) are bred is remarkably uniform over the whole world," according to one study. As with other intensive-confinement animal farms, the methods used on fur farms are designed to maximize profits, always at the expense of the animals' welfare and comfort, and always at the expense of their lives.
In the United States there are approximately 500 fur farms. About 90% of all ranched fur bearers are minks. Foxes, rabbits and chinchillas account for most of the remainder, though fur farmers have recently diversified into lynx, bobcats, wolves, wolverines, coyotes and beavers. All of these animals live only a fraction of their natural lifespans; minks are killed at about five months of age, and foxes are killed when they are about nine months old. Breeding females live somewhat longer. The animals' short lives are filled with fear, stress, disease, parasites and other physical and psychological hardships, all for the sake of an industry that makes huge profits from its $648 million-a-year sales.
Foxes are kept in cages only 2.5 feet square, with one to four animals per cage. Minks and other species are generally kept in cages only one by three feet, again with up to four animals per cage. This extreme crowding and confinement is especially damaging to minks, who are by nature solitary animals. A large portion of ranched minks develop self-mutilating behaviors, including pelt and tail biting, and abnormalities called "stereotypes" such as pacing in ritualized patterns. Foxes kept in close confinement sometimes cannibalize each other.
Minks, foxes and chinchillas are fed meat and fish by-products so vile that they are unfit even for the pet food industry. These animals are also fed minced offal, which endangers their health because of bacterial contamination. Newly weaned kits and pups are especially vulnerable to the food poisoning this diet can cause. Water on fur farms is provided by a nipple system from which the animals can drink at will...except, of course, when the system freezes in the winter.
As with other caged and confined animals, animals on fur farms are much more susceptible to diseases than their free-roaming counterparts. Contagious diseases such as Aleutian disease, viral enteritis and pneumonia are passed from cage to cage, and sometimes kill entire populations. Bladder and urinary ailments (wet belly disease) and nursing sickness (which kills up to 80 percent of all animals it infects, if not treated in time) are common. Animals are often infested with fleas, ticks, lice, and mites, and disease-carrying flies are a particularly severe problem because they are attracted to the piles of excrement that remain under the cages for months.
Fur farm cages are typically kept in open sheds that provide little protection from wind, cold and heat. The animals' fur helps keep them warm in winter, but summer is very hard on minks because they lack the ability to cool their bodies without bathing in water. Free-roaming minks spend 60 to 70 percent of their time in water, and without it their salivation, respiration and body temperature increase greatly. When minks learn to shower themselves by pressing on their drinking water supply nipples, mink farmers have been known to modify the nipples to cut off even this meager water supply.
No humane slaughter law protects animals on fur farms, and killing methods are gruesome. Because the fur farmers care only about preserving the quality of the fur, they use slaughter methods that keep the pelts intact but which result in severe suffering for the animals still quite attached to the pelts. Small animals can be shoved up to 20 at a time into boxes, where they are poisoned with hot, unfiltered engine exhaust pumped in by hose from the fur farmer's truck. Engine exhaust is not always 100 percent lethal, and some animals "wake up" while being skinned. Larger animals, including foxes, often have clamps attached to their lips while rods are inserted into their anuses, and are then very painfully electrocuted. Other animals are poisoned with strychnine, which actually suffocates them by paralyzing their muscles in painful rigid cramps. Gassing, decompression chambers and neck snapping are other common fur farm slaughter methods.
An archaic device used for centuries, the steel-jaw leghold trap is the most commonly used trap in the U.S. by commercial and recreational fur trappers today. Triggered by a pan-tension device, the weight of an animal stepping between the jaws of the trap causes the jaws to slam shut on the victim's leg, or other body part, in a vice-like grip. Most animals react to the instant pain by frantically pulling against the trap in a desperate attempt to free themselves, enduring fractures, ripped tendons, edema, blood loss, amputations, tooth and mouth damage (from chewing and biting at the trap), and starvation. Some animals will even chew or twist their limbs off, so common that trappers have termed this occurrence as "wring-off," which for them means the loss of a marketable pelt. To the animal left crippled on three legs, "wring-off" means certain death from starvation, gangrene or attack from other predators.
On land, leghold traps are most frequently set for coyote, bobcat, fox, raccoon, skunk and other furbearing animals. However, leghold traps are inherently indiscriminate and will trap any unsuspecting animal that steps foot into the trap jaws, including companion animals, threatened and endangered species, and even humans. Trappers admit that for every "target" animal trapped, at least two other "non-target" animals, including dogs and cats, are trapped.
Aquatic leghold traps are most often set for muskrat, otter, mink and beaver. Most animals trapped in water will either try to surface to gasp for air or will drag the trap under water in an attempt to reach land. Usually they die a slow, agonizing death by drowning, which can take up to 20 minutes for some species. Death by drowning has been deemed inhumane by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).
More than 80 countries have banned leghold traps, as well as several states. But most states continue to allow them, and some states still allow the use of teeth on leghold traps. An estimated 80% of the total number of trapped animals in the U.S. are taken by steel-jaw leghold traps, followed by wire snares and Conibear traps.
In November 1995, the European Union banned the use of leghold traps in all 15-member nations.
Many veterinary associations, including the World Veterinary Association and the American Animal Hospital Association, have policy statements opposing the use of leghold traps. In 1993, the Executive Board of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) declared, "The AVMA considers the steel-jaw leghold trap to be inhumane."
A national poll showed that 74% of Americans believe leghold traps should be banned.
Trapping proponents argue that traps used today in the U.S. are humane, touting the "padded" leghold trap as a commonly used humane alternative to the steel jaw version. However, the only distinctive difference between the two traps is that the padded leghold trap has a thin strip of rubber attached to the trap jaws. Not only do these traps cause significant injuries to animals, but research indicates that fewer than 5% of trappers even own padded leghold traps in the U.S. Only a few states require that padded leghold traps be used, and this provision only applies to leghold traps set on land. Numerous studies have shown that padded traps can cause severe injuries to their victims.
Snares are categorized as either body/neck or foot snares. Like leghold traps, they are a primitive device, simple in design and vicious in action. They are generally made of light wire cable looped through a locking device or of small nylon cord tied so that it will tighten as the animal pulls against it. The more a snared animal struggles, the tighter the noose becomes, the tighter the noose, the greater the animal's struggle and suffering. The body snare is used primarily on coyotes and is often set where animals crawl under a fence or some other narrow passageway. The body snare is designed to kill the animal by strangulation or crushing of vital organs. However, snares do not discriminate between victims and will capture any animal around any body part.
While some small animals are thought to become unconscious in about six minutes when neck snared, larger animals can suffer for days on end. Trappers even have a term -- "jellyhead" -- that refers to the thick, bloody lymph fluid which swells the heads and necks of neck-snared canids. Snares frequently have to be replaced after each capture due to twisting and strain on the snare cable that results from animals struggling to free themselves.
Set on land and in water, snares are considered even more indiscriminate than the leghold trap. Because they are cheap and easy to set, trappers will often saturate an area with dozens of snares to catch as many animals as possible. Called "saturation snaring," this practice is common in Alaska where trappers attempt to target entire wolf packs through this reprehensible practice.
Even the Federal Provincial Committee for Humane Trapping has deemed the snare to cause too many injuries to be considered a "quick killing device."
The Conibear trap, named after its inventor Frank Conibear, consists of two metal rectangles hinged together midway on the long side to open and close like scissors. One jaw has a trigger that can be baited. The opposite jaw has a catch or "dog" that holds the trap open. Originally intended to be an "instant killing" device, the Conibear trap is designed to snap shut in a scissor-like fashion on an animal's spinal column at the base of the skull. However, because it is impossible to control the size, species and direction of the animal entering the trap, most animals do not die quickly in the Conibear trap...instead enduring prolonged suffering as the clamping force of the trap draws the jaws closer and closer together, crushing the animal's abdomen, head or other body part.
Domestic animals are frequent victims of this indiscriminate trap, especially the size 220 (7") Conibear. Numerous veterinary reports indicate that dogs and cats may be found dead or alive by their owners in these traps after suffering for days. However, because it is extremely difficult to open the trap jaws, most people are not able to free their companions in time.
Manufactured in three standard sizes, Conibear traps are frequently used in water sets to trap muskrat and beaver. In addition, they are used on land to trap raccoon, pine marten, opossum and other furbearers. Numerous research studies have shown that this trap does not kill instantly.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Every fur coat represents the intense suffering of up to several dozen animals, whether they were trapped or ranched. These cruelties will end only when the public refuses to buy or wear fur products and rejects the propaganda of trappers, ranchers and furriers whose monetary motives cause unjustifiable misery and death. Those who learn the facts about furs must help educate others, for the sake of the animals and for the sake of decency.
Have you ever wondered about a career working with animals?
From being a veterinarian or wildlife specialist to working in television and creating programs about animals, there are numerous ways you can make a difference for animals in your lifetime.
People who work with animals can have a variety of backgrounds. Usually, one requirement is a great love of animals and a concern for their well being. People who are interested in a career working with animals might take classes in biology, zoology, animal behavior, and animal health sciences in college. Certain careers, such as those working in veterinary fields, require an extensive medical education.
Choosing a career is one of the most important decisions a person can make. Your career should make you happy and reflect what you want to give back to the world. People who care for animals can choose from several different career paths.
Animal behaviorists learn and observe how animals relate to each other and to people. While an animal behaviorist may work in a variety of animal-related settings, like a zoo or an aquarium, some animal behaviorists work at animal shelters or assist companion animal guardians with animal behavior problems. In this role, the animal behaviorist helps the companion animal by helping the human companion better understand why animals do the things they do. Why does a dog jump on people? Why is the cat not using the litter box? And what can be done to change this behavior. Animal behaviorists may also help shelters identify good-natured animals that should be placed for adoption and work with other animals that might need a little more training before being placed in a good home. This job requires an extensive education in animal behavior.
Animal Care Attendants
Animal care attendants provide the actual day-to-day care for the shelter animals. They clean kennels, provide food and water to the animals, and may administer medications. It’s a very hands-on job that puts you in direct contact with animals everyday. Some shelters look for volunteers to assist with these duties. It’s a great way to get started working for shelters.
Animal Control Agency Directors
An animal control agency director runs a shelter that is funded by the city. They help animals too, providing many of the same services as a humane society. The biggest difference is that animal control agencies are concerned with public safety. They protect people from health risks and the dangers that stray and lose animals can cause to people in the community. They often represent the agency at public functions and manage the overall daily operations of the facility.
Animal Shelter Veterinarians
An animal shelter veterinarian treats sick or injured animals or provides well-care exams for the animals at the shelter. They are responsible for the individual care of all the shelter animals as well as the health and well-being of the entire shelter population. Shelter veterinarians make sure that the animals coming into the shelter don’t spread diseases to other animals in the shelter. They often spay and neuter adopted companion animals to insure they won’t contribute to the companion animal population problem. The job requires an extensive education, including veterinary school.
Adoption counselors help people find the right companion animal for their family’s lifestyle. They have to learn about the potential adopter’s needs as well as the various personalities of all the animals available for adoption. Making the right match helps ensure that an animal has found a permanent home and won’t be returned to the animal shelter. This job is good for someone who likes to work with both people and animals.
Cruelty investigators respond to complaints about people who may be hurting or neglecting their animals. They may work with an animal shelter, animal control facility, or police department handling animal cruelty investigations. Investigators can usually enforce cruelty laws by making arrests or giving citations if only a minor law is broken. Cruelty investigators are like animal detectives. They have to help law enforcement officials and prosecutors collect evidence to prepare an animal cruelty case for trial. This job usually requires training in law enforcement and investigation techniques.
Fundraising specialists help organize special events to raise money for animal shelters and organizations. Animal organizations can’t operate or care for the animals without money to support their programs and services. Animal control agencies usually receive money from the city budget, while humane societies survive on contributions from the community. Fundraising specialists are important to keep the work of the agency going. This job is great for a person who likes to organize events and enjoys working with people.
Humane educators present programs to youth and adults on various humane topics, including companion animal responsibility, bite prevention, and kindness to animals. Their role is to educate the public and affect the community’s view and behavior towards animals. These presentations are often given in schools, at business club meetings, or at the shelter. Teachers or people who have worked in classrooms and are comfortable speaking before groups often fill these jobs.
Humane officers (also known as animal care and control officers) respond to calls about animals that are sick, injured, or neglected. Humane officers must have a good understanding of animal control laws and anti-cruelty laws, since they help educate the public on the responsible care of animals. This job requires some lifting, as humane officers frequently have to transport large or injured animals to the shelter.
Humane Society Directors
A humane society director runs an animal shelter where the ultimate goal is to insure the humane care and treatment of the animals. The director supervises staff and ensures that the shelter’s programs and services are helping homeless animals. They also have to find individuals and donors to donate to the agency, since humane societies are funded entirely by private donations. This job usually requires a lot of people skills, as the director usually works more with people in the community than the animals in the shelter.
Public Relations Specialists
Public relations specialists work with the media to inform the community about the work of animal organizations as well as important issues related to the humane care and treatment of animals. They usually write press releases, newsletters, and other promotional materials to help get the word out on the agency. This is a great job for people who love to write, give media interviews, and speak to the public.
Shelter managers generally oversee all the activities associated with the daily care and maintenance of the animal shelter and shelter staff. They might handle receiving animals, making sure they are given health checks and vaccinations. Or they may work with the human clients that come into the shelter to adopt or surrender an animal. This job requires supervisory skills and an interest in working with both people and animals.
Some veterinary technicians work at animal shelters, but most work at veterinary hospitals. Their job involves direct contact with both animals and people. Mostly, they assist veterinarians in caring for injured or sick animals or providing healthy animals with well-check ups. They may handle doing lab tests or preparing the operating room for surgery. This job does not require the special education needed to become a veterinarian, but special classes or specific experience with animals can make you more qualified to handle these responsibilities.
A volunteer coordinators job is to find volunteers that want to donate time to help animal organizations. Volunteer coordinators oversee the scheduling and daily activities of these volunteers for the organization’s special events or daily operations. Often volunteers can only come for a few hours a week or month, so the coordinator has to find lots of volunteers to help cover all the available time slots. Some animal organizations have hundreds of volunteers; some have only a handful of volunteers. But most all animal organizations depend heavily on volunteers.
One final note: If you are interested in working with animals, you can begin before you are out of school by volunteering at a local humane society. Your volunteer work will give you exposure to many different species of animals while performing a great community service at the same time. Also read books on animal careers to see how your interests and concern for animals might become a lifelong career.
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:
Consumers have huge environmental impact. We like to blame the government or industries for the Earth's problems, but what we buy makes a big difference.
The world's workshop – China – surpassed the United States as the largest emitter of greenhouse gases on Earth in 2007. But if you consider that nearly all of the products that China produces, from iPhones to tee-shirts, are exported to the rest of the world, the picture looks very different.
"If you look at China's per capita consumption-based (environmental) footprint, it is small," says Diana Ivanova, a PhD candidate at Norwegian University of Science and Technology's Industrial Ecology Programme. "They produce a lot of products but they export them. It's different if you put the responsibility for those impacts on the consumer, as opposed to the producer."
That's exactly what Ivanova and her colleagues did when they looked at the environmental impact from a consumer perspective in 43 different countries and 5 rest-of-the-world regions. Their analysis showed that consumers are responsible for more than 60 percent of the globe's greenhouse gas emissions, and up to 80 percent of the world's water use.
"We all like to put the blame on someone else, the government, or businesses," Ivanova says. "But between 60-80 percent of the impacts on the planet come from household consumption. If we change our consumption habits, this would have a drastic effect on our environmental footprint as well."
Consumers are directly responsible for 20 percent of all carbon impacts, which result from when people drive their cars and heat their homes. But even more surprising is that four-fifths of the impacts that can be attributed to consumers are not direct impacts, like the fuel we burn when we drive our cars, but are what are called secondary impacts, or the environmental effects from actually producing the goods and products that we buy.
A good example of this is water use. When you think about cutting your individual water use, you might think about using your dishwasher very efficiently, or taking shorter showers. Those aren't bad ideas on their own, but if you look deeper you'll find that much of the water use on the planet is gulped up by producing the things that you buy.
Consider beef. Producing beef requires lots of water because cows eat grains that need water to grow. But because cows are relatively inefficient in converting grains into the meat that we eat, it takes on average about 15,415 liters of water to produce one kilo of beef.
Dairy products require similarly large amounts of water to produce. When a group of Dutch researchers looked at the difference in producing a liter of soy milk with soybeans grown in Belgium compared to producing a liter of cow's milk, they found it took 297 liters of water to make the soy milk (with 62 percent of that from actually growing the soybeans) versus a global average of 1050 liters of water to produce a liter of cow's milk.
Processed foods, like that frozen pizza you bought for dinner last night, are also disproportionately high in water consumption. Making processed foods requires energy, materials and water to grow the raw materials, ship them to the processor, produce the processed food items and then package the final product.
This is particularly bad news when it comes to chocolate, which is one of the most water-intensive products we can buy. It takes a shocking 17,000 liters to produce a kilo of chocolate.
Researchers have also looked at environmental impacts on a per-capita, country-by-country basis. While the information is sometimes surprising – Luxembourg has a per capita carbon footprint that is nearly the same as the United States – it mostly follows a predictable pattern. The richer a country is, the more its inhabitants consume. The more an individual consumes, the bigger that person's impact on the planet.
But the differences between individual countries are extremely high. The countries with the highest consumption have about a 5.5 times higher environmental impact over the world average.
The United States is the overall worst performer when it comes to per capita greenhouse gas emissions, with a per capita carbon footprint of 18.6 tons CO2 equivalent, the unit used by researchers to express the sum of the impacts of different greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and sulphur hexafluoride.
The US is followed closely by Luxembourg, with 18.5 tons CO2 equivalent, and Australia, with 17.7 tons CO2 equivalent. For comparison, China's per capita carbon footprint is just 1.8 tons CO2 equivalent. Norway, at 10.3 tons CO2 equivalent per capita, is three times the global average of 3.4 tons CO2 equivalent per capita.
The results for individual countries also reflect the effects of the electricity mix, or the fuel source that countries rely on for electric power. The prevalence of nuclear or hydroelectric power in countries such as Sweden, France, Japan and Norway means that these countries have lower carbon footprints than countries with similar incomes but with more fossil fuels in their energy mix.
For this reason, a significant portion of household impacts from Sweden and France come from imports (65 and 51 percent respectively), because the products that are imported are mostly produced with fossil fuels.
The advantage of identifying the effects of individual consumer choices on the different environmental measures is that it pinpoints where consumers in different countries can cut back on their impacts.
Households have a relatively large degree of control over their consumption, but they often lack accurate and actionable information on how to improve their own environmental performance. The two best, and easy, ways to cut your environmental impact are to stop eating meat and cut back on your purchases.
When news reports tally the casualties of war, or when monuments are erected to honor soldiers, the other-than-human victims of war--the animals whose bodies are shot, burned, poisoned, and otherwise tortured in tests to create even more ways to kill people--are never recognized, nor is their suffering well known.
The U.S. military inflicts the pains of war on hundreds of thousands of animals each year in experiments. The Department of Defense (DOD) and the Veterans Administration (VA) together are the federal government's second largest user of animals (after the National Institutes of Health). They account for nearly half of over one-and-a-half million dogs, cats, guinea pigs, hamsters, rabbits, primates, rats, mice and "wild animals" used, as reported to Congress each year. Because these figures don't include experiments that were contracted out to non-governmental laboratories, or the many sheep, goats, and pigs often shot in wound experiments, the actual total of animal victims is probably much higher.
Military testing is classified "Top Secret," and it is very hard to get current information. From published research, we know that armed forces facilities all over the United States test all manner of weaponry on animals, from Soviet AK-47 rifles to biological and chemical warfare agents to nuclear blasts. Military experiments can be acutely painful, repetitive, costly and unreliable, and they are particularly wasteful because most of the effects they study can be, or have already been, observed in humans, or the results cannot be extrapolated to human experience.
In 1946, near the Bikini Atoll in the South Pacific, 4,000 sheep, goats, and other animals loaded onto a boat and set adrift were killed or severely burned by an atomic blast detonated above them in the experiment "The Atomic Ark." At the Army's Fort Sam Houston, live rats were immersed in boiling water for 10 seconds, and a group of them were then infected on parts of their burned bodies. In 1987, at the Naval Medical Institute in Maryland, rats' backs were shaved, covered with ethanol, and then "flamed" for 10 seconds. In 1988, at Kirkland Air Force Base in New Mexico, sheep were placed in a loose net sling against a reflecting plate, and an explosive device was detonated 19 meters away. In two of the experiments, 48 sheep were blasted: the first group to test the value of a vest worn during the blast, and the second to see if chemical markers aided in the diagnosis of blast injury (they did not).
At the Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute in Maryland, nine rhesus monkeys were strapped in chairs and exposed to total-body irradiation. Within two hours, six of the nine were vomiting, hypersalivating, and chewing. In another experiment, 17 beagles were exposed to total-body irradiation, studied for one to seven days, and then killed. The experimenter concluded that radiation affects the gallbladder.
At Brooks Air Force Base in Texas, rhesus monkeys were strapped to a B52 flight simulator (the "Primate Equilibrium Platform"). After being prodded with painful electric shocks to learn to "fly" the device, the monkeys were irradiated with gamma rays to see if they could hold out "for the 10 hours it would take to bomb an imaginary Moscow." Those hit with the heaviest doses vomited violently and became extremely lethargic before being killed.
To evaluate the effect of temperature on the transmission of the Dengue 2 virus, a mosquito-transmitted disease that causes fever, muscle pain, and rash, experiments conducted by the U.S. Army at Fort Detrick, Md., involved shaving the stomachs of adult rhesus monkeys and then attaching cartons of mosquitoes to their bodies to allow the mosquitoes to feed. Experimenters at Fort Detrick have also invented a rabbit restraining device that consists of a small cage that pins the rabbits down with steel rods while mosquitoes feast on their bodies.
The Department of Defense has operated "wound labs" since 1957. At these sites, conscious or semiconscious animals are suspended from slings and shot with high-powered weapons to inflict battlelike injuries for military surgical practice. In 1983, in response to public pressure, Congress limited the use of dogs in these labs, but countless goats, pigs, and sheep are still being shot, and at least one laboratory continues to shoot cats. At the Army's Fort Sam Houston "Goat Lab," goats are hung upside down and shot in their hind legs. After physicians practice excising the wounds, any goat who survives is killed.
Other forms of military experiments include subjecting animals to decompression sickness, weightlessness, drugs and alcohol, smoke inhalation and pure oxygen inhalation. The Armed Forces conscript various animals into intelligence and combat service, sending them on "missions" that endanger their lives and well-being. The Marine Corps teaches dogs "mauling, snarling, sniffing, and other suitable skills" needed to search for bombs and drugs.
Thousands of animals also fall victim to military operations and even military fashion. A series of Navy tests of underwater explosives in the Chesapeake Bay in 1987 killed more than 3,000 fish, and habitats for hundreds of species have been destroyed by nuclear tests in the South Pacific and the American Southwest.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Urge government officials to stop animal testing in the military. Educate others on the issue so they can advocate for animals in the military also.
An animal advocate is one who fights for animals to have the right to exist without the fear of being mistreated, exploited or exterminated. The welfare of animals is foremost in the mind of a genuine animal activist. Activists work to ensure that animals receive proper care, treatment and respect, and endeavor to create awareness among the public about animal exploitation and abuse issues. Animal advocates can be individuals, volunteers of an organization, or paid employees of an organization.
1. Determine Your Strengths
A good way to become an animal activist is to make a list of your strengths. Everyone is endowed with some skills; it makes sense to chose those skills that are conducive to animal rights activism. Your personal strengths can be used to make a big impact for animals.
2. Choose Your Cause
Find out as much as you can about animals and the various issues affecting them. This could include habitat destruction, deforestation, animal agriculture, urban development, illegal trafficking, neglect and various forms of animal exploitation and abuse. It is advisable to choose just one or two areas to focus on. Trying to pursue too many causes can prove diversionary and quickly burn you out.
3. Know Your Subject
Your ability to convince people is greatly affected by the amount of knowledge you possess about the subject. Watching documentaries, searching the web, reading books, and perusing articles will help you gain knowledge on your chosen issues. It also helps to compile a data bank which can lend strength to your arguments when you present facts to potential enthusiasts or donors.
4. Get Connected
Individual effort is indeed a good way to advocate animal protection and preservation. But activism is more effective when you connect with other people who also feel passionately about the subject. Meet-ups with like-minded people in your locality, or attending workshops or seminars, are productive ways to stay connected with fellow activists and potential activists. Join online groups associated with your cause.
To make headway in animal advocacy, nothing is more constructive than volunteer work. Take part in activities of organizations that espouse similar causes as yours. Getting in touch with local chapters of humane societies, SPCAs, or wildlife rehabilitation centers is a good place to start.
6. Plant A Seed
To circulate your passion for animal advocacy go on-line. The web offers instant communication to large numbers of people - not just locally, but worldwide. Construct a blog or a website, or create social media pages. Make people feel your passion for the subject. Create well-written articles on sensitive issues, or post recent news topics on the subject. This will create awareness among those who may not have been previously aware of the issue.
Most of the people you speak to about animal issues are clear about what they feel. Listen to their viewpoint and find common ground. Determine what your target audience feels about the subject and offer a little additional information to make them think more deeply about the subject.
8. Power Of The Pen
Letter and email writing can be powerful tools in promoting your cause. Write to authourities and companies at local and national levels about animal issues. Many of the addresses of such agencies, institutions and corporations can be found on the web. You can also write letters to the editor(s) of your local newspaper(s).
9. Raise Funds
Organize fund-raising activities for your cause. Dinner events, bake sales and marathons can attract hundreds of participants. Proceeds from such activities can be used for your own group, or can be donated to organizations that support your goals.
10. Be Prepared
Make sure to carry brochures, pamphlets or business cards with you wherever you go. There are numerous opportunities throughout the day to distribute educational and promotional materials that draw attention to your cause.
11. Get Noticed, Get Vocal
Getting visible is the name of the game. Catchy animal photographs and posters displayed at local events will draw people to your table or booth. Circulate literature about your activities via brochures and business cards carrying URLs of your website, blog or social media page. Arrange for lecture appointments at schools, colleges and universities. Make your presence known to local authorities and regulators. Post messages and videos on your site and social media outlets to gain wider dissemination of information on the issues you stand for.
12. Practice, Practice, Practice
Animal advocacy is like any other skill: the more you practice, the better you’ll become. Hone your skills.
Over 87,000 man-made chemicals are currently in use. Virtually all have not been tested for threats to wildlife and humans.
Wildlife populations are constantly confronted with a massive array of pollutants released into the environment. In the last 80 years, the world chemical output has grown 500-fold, contaminating entire landscapes, accumulating in bodies of animals and plants, and altering and disrupting the DNA of wildlife in those places.
You can help save the planet and its animals by reducing your use of toxic chemicals.
Buy products that say "biodegradable" and "non-toxic" on the label
Use natural alternative to pestisides
Don't use chlorine bleach
Avoid products with EDTA, NTA, phosphates, sodium hypochlorite or chlorine bleach
Use rechargeable or mercury-free batteries
Plant disease and pest-resistant plants in your garden
Use environmentally friendly cleaning and hygiene products
Use compost and mulch to improve your soil instead of pesticides and fertilizers
Use only lawn companies that use ecologically sound Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
Animals and plants are being driven to extinction at unprecedented rates by animal agriculture. Animal farming has affected the environment and wildlife in detrimental ways. Our demand for meat has led to the loss of large numbers of animals, caused massive water and land pollution, and has been a major contributor to deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions.
With world population coming close to 10 billion by 2050, it is predicted that meat production, which has already tripled in the last 30 years, will double by 2050. Livestock farming has already taken up about 25% of the Earth’s land area, with 70% of farmlands used for rearing animals. Each passing minute lands about the size of seven football fields are cleared for the use of livestock production.
Every day an alarming number of plants and animals are lost to extinction. Researchers agree we are undergoing massive life extinction, the first mass extinction as a result of human explosive growth and voracious eating habits. Meat production has now become the biggest threat to animal life, as well as the ecosystem.
The animals used to meet our dietary demands account for 20% of the entire animal population. In the United States alone, animals raised for food are at about 10 billion; equivalent to 32 animals per person every year. On a per capita basis, Americans are the largest consumer of meat. A single individual consumes 203 pounds every year. And the unsustainable American diet is spreading globally.
If all Americans cut out meat from their meals for just one night, the emissions saved would equal the emissions that 40 million cars give off in a year. If Americans reduced their meat consumption by 30%, the greenhouse gas reduction would be equivalent to driving a car over 2,700 miles, and 340,667 gallons of water would be saved each year – per person.
Throughout the world, animal species like deer, elk and pronghorn are killed in huge numbers just to make room for providing more grazing land for cattle. Environmentally critical animals like beavers and prairie dogs are also killed in huge numbers because livestock managers consider them disruptive.
Public lands and funds are being hijacked. Over 175 endangered species are being threatened by livestock farming on American public lands alone, where livestock grazing is promoted and protected. 270 million acres of United States lands have been set aside for raising livestock on federal property. 80% of arable lands in the U.S. are already used for rearing of animals and farming. This is almost equivalent to the total land mass of the lower 48 states.
Over half of the grains grown in the country are used for feeding livestock, while more than 50% of water is used for livestock production. Government agencies, such as Wildlife Services, kill millions of animals each year to provide more grazing land for cows and animals raised on ranches.
“Predator control” programs, which are meant to provide protection to the livestock industry, have only succeeded in driving predator species into extinction. The livestock industry has become an obstacle to efforts of recovering endangered species. As the demand for meat continues to rise, livestock managers are increasing their production. Predators that are left with no other choice but to prey on livestock are killed.
Meat production has contributed immensely to raising the temperatures of the planet, which has in turn led to drought and food shortage. Research has shown that meat production has contributed up to 51% of greenhouse gas emissions caused by human activity. In the United States for instance, meat production has been responsible for 20% of the total methane produced by the country.
Livestock is responsible for 500 million tons of manure produced every year. These pollutants find their way into water bodies. Farm pollutants contaminate underground water, wetlands, rivers, lakes and oceans. A massive amount of antibiotics and pesticides used in the production of meat also pollutes the planet.
Cattle grazing wreaks havoc to vegetation and destroys the soil. Excessive grazing has destroyed many forests, caused erosion and stream sedimentation, and destroyed countless habitats.
Livestock grazing is one of the biggest threats to endangered species, affecting 14% of endangered animals and 33% of plants. Livestock grazing has wiped out large numbers of wildlife. Wildlife occupying public lands are the most threatened. Despite the huge amount of money it costs to graze livestock, governments still continue to sponsor it. Activities like vegetation destruction ruins the habitat and disrupts the natural balance of the ecosystem. In the end, endangered species are displaced because their homes have been taken away from them.
If you care about helping wildlife and protecting the planet, the most effective action you can take is to reduce or eliminate the amount of meat you consume. A plant based diet will go a long way in sustaining the ecosystem.