Many people enjoy walking as a recreation, and it is one of the best forms of exercise. One of the many benefits of walking is the time spent enjoying nature. Spending time outside is important for the body, mind and soul.
Get outside and enjoy nearby parks, green spaces, nature preserves and communities...all while improving your health.
Regular, brisk exercise of any kind can improve confidence, stamina, energy, weight control, life expectancy and reduce stress. It can also reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, strokes, diabetes, high blood pressure, bowel cancer and osteoporosis.
Scientific studies have also shown that walking, besides its physical benefits, is also beneficial for the mind, improving memory skills, learning ability, concentration and abstract reasoning, as well as reducing stress and lifting spirits.
Sustained walking sessions for a minimum period of thirty to sixty minutes a day, five days a week, reduce health risks and have various overall health benefits, such as reducing the chances of cancer, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, anxiety and depression. Life expectancy is also increased even for individuals suffering from obesity or high blood pressure.
Walking also improves bone health, especially strengthening the hip bone. It lowers the more harmful low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, while raising the more useful good high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.
Studies have found that walking may also help prevent dementia and Alzheimer's.
An essential part of any movement for social change is the effort to create new legislation. You don’t need to be an expert on law or politics to lobby your elected officials, but you do need to know how to communicate with them effectively.
The first step is to find out who they are. Next, get to know as many legislators as you can. Don’t wait until you or your group want to introduce a bill or to lobby your legislator to vote one way or the other on an issue. Lay the foundation before you start a legislative campaign. Attend “town meetings” where legislators meet with voters to answer questions. Write to thank them for taking specific positions that you support.
Arrange to meet with them, even if it’s on an issue that you don’t feel strongly about. The important thing is to establish a rapport. It’s also very helpful to get to know elected officials’ aides, who are often much more accessible than the legislators themselves and can often provide you with good “inside” information.
Legislators prefer to be contacted by the following means (in order of preference): Individualized letters by mail; Phone calls; Individualized letters by fax; Individual e-mails; Form letters and e-mails. Be sure to provide your name, address and phone number on the envelope, in the letter, and in all e-mail messages and make sure you are able to articulate the issue should you get your elected official or an aide on the phone.
In your correspondence with elected officials, discuss only one issue at a time. Keep it short; one-page letters are best, and two pages is the maximum. The more personal the correspondence appears, the more seriously it will be taken. State the purpose of your letter or e-mail in the first paragraph. Support your argument with facts, not emotions. Don’t assume that the legislator knows all about the issue. Provide background information. Identify the bill or ordinance by title and number. Be polite and positive. Never threaten; today’s opponent could be tomorrow’s ally on another issue. Clearly state what you want him or her to do. Don’t be self-righteous about being a “citizen” or a “taxpayer”; your readers will assume that you are both.
When addressing the letter and envelope, be sure to use the proper form for the address and salutation. On the envelope and inside address, refer to any legislator as “The Honorable.” The salutation for state or federal representatives is “Mr.” or “Ms.” The salutation for state or federal senators is “Senator.”
When writing to U.S. senators, use the following format and address:
The Honorable [first and last name]
Washington, DC 20510
When writing to U.S. representatives, use the following format and address:
The Honorable [first and last name]
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
MEETING WITH LEGISLATORS
When meeting with elected officials, make an appointment well in advance. Go by yourself or, at most, with one other person. f you are going with a group of people, decide on a spokesperson ahead of time.
Dress conservatively and professionally. Know about the legislator and his or her voting record; compliment him or her on past achievements. Be friendly and positive.
Don’t turn down a chance to meet with a legislative aide; go to the meeting and behave as if you were meeting with the elected official.
Know the title and bill number of the legislation that you want to discuss. Provide one-page fact sheets to give background information.
Don’t speak as a member of a national organization. Know your facts. Don’t become emotional. Don’t waste the legislator’s time; make your points briefly and clearly, and then thank him or her and leave promptly.
Remember that how you communicate is as important as what you communicate. People who care about the earth and animals are often stereotyped as too emotional. We can change that image by doing our homework, staying calm and polite, and keeping our statements concise.
The hippopotamus outweighs all the many fresh water semi-aquatic mammals that inhabit our rivers, lakes and streams. After elephants and the white rhinoceros, the hippopotamus is the third largest land mammal on Earth. Its hide alone can weigh half a ton.
The ancient Egyptians both feared and revered the hippopotamus. The word hippopotamus comes from the Greek for "river horse" and the hippo, once indigenous to Egypt, flourished there, grazing along the fertile banks of the Nile River and swimming in its muddy waters. Hippos may seem slow and lumbering, but they can be ferocious, deadly killers. These prolific animals multiplied until the river was thick with them. They destroyed crops, up ended fishing boats and killed the men as they fell into the river. The ancient kings found sport in great hippopotamus hunts that would thin out the herds. Hunts became bloody battles between man and beast. The hippo is no longer found in Egypt. They were wiped out of that country in modern times because of the crop damage they caused, but the hippo still thrives in other parts of Africa.
Hippopotamus are of the Order Artiodactyla: Even-toed ungulates. On land, the enormous weight of a hippo is distributed evenly and is adequately supported by the four webbed toes on each of its feet. These animals are grayish in color with thick skin that is virtually hairless. The hippo has no sweat or sebaceous glands and must rely on the water to keep cool. A hippo’s hide has the unusual property of secreting a viscous red fluid that protects it from the sun. This specialized excretion may also be a healing agent.
Female hippopotamus bear a single young and will give birth either on land or in shallow water. The mother helps the newborn to the surface of the water. In time, she will teach her baby to swim. Newborns can be seen in the river, resting on their mothers' backs. At birth, a baby hippo will weigh from 55 to 120 pounds. The mother must protect it from crocodiles in the water and lions on land. She must also ward off male hippos. Males do not bother baby hippos when on land, but they will attack them in the water.
Adult hippos can stay under water for up to six minutes. A young hippo can only stay submerged for about half a minute. In order to suckle under water, the baby must take a deep breath, close its nostrils and ears and then wrap its tongue tightly around the teat to suck. This instinctive behavior is the same when the baby suckles on land. Baby hippos start to eat grass at 3 weeks, but will continue to nurse until they are about one year old.
Hippos are usually found in groups of just over a dozen, presided over by a territorial bull. They have flexible social systems defined by food and water conditions and hierarchy. Periods of drought will force them to congregate in large numbers around a limited water supply. This overcrowding disrupts the system and under these conditions, there will be higher levels of aggression. Fights for dominance will be brutal with loud and frequent vocalization. Hippos can bear the scars of old, deep wounds sustained in such battles. A hippo establishes status and marks territory by spreading its excrement with its flat, paddle-like tail.
Hippos move surprisingly well, climbing adeptly up steep riverbanks to grazing areas. They spend the heat of the day in the water, leaving it to graze at night. Apparently creatures of habit, they enter and exit the water at the same spot. They will graze four to five hours, usually covering one or two miles. The amount of grass consumed is relatively modest for animals their size. A hippo’s appetite is in proportion to its sedentary life.
Despite the fact that ditches and low fences can easily deter them from encroaching on cultivated areas, hippopotamus are slaughtered by the hundreds each year. These "controlled management" schemes are put forth less for crop protection than for the meat they yield. The fat and ivory tusks of the hippo are also of value to humans, as is the hippo’s grazing land. The hippos’ range was once from the Nile delta to the Cape, but the mighty river horse is now mostly confined to protected areas.
Most of us will never see a hippopotamus. But as we know more about them, we may learn to value them and their place in the larger ecosystem we all share.
Each year, orcas leap through the air for a handful of fish, and dolphins are ridden by human performers as if they were water skis. Employees at marine parks like to tell audiences that the animals wouldn't perform if they weren't happy. You can even see how content the dolphins are--just look at the permanent smiles on their faces, right? But what most visitors to marine parks don't realize is that hidden behind the dolphin's "smile" is an industry built on suffering.
FAMILIES TORN APART
Killer whales, or orcas, are members of the dolphin family. They are also the largest animals held in captivity. In the wild, orcas stay with their mothers for life. Family groups, or "pods," consist of a mother, her adult sons and daughters, and the offspring of her daughters. Each member of the pod communicates in a "dialect" specific to that pod. Dolphins swim together in family pods of three to 10 individuals or tribes of hundreds. Imagine, then, the trauma inflicted on these social animals when they are ripped from their families and put in the strange, artificial world of a marine park.
Capturing even one wild orca or dolphin disrupts the entire pod. To obtain a female dolphin of breeding age, for example, boats are used to chase the pod to shallow waters. The dolphins are surrounded with nets that are gradually closed and lifted into the boats. Unwanted dolphins are thrown back. Some die from the shock of their experience. Others slowly succumb to pneumonia caused by water entering their lungs through their blowholes. Pregnant females may spontaneously abort babies.
Orcas and dolphins who survive this ordeal become frantic upon seeing their captured companions and may even try to save them. When Namu, a wild orca captured off the coast of Canada, was towed to the Seattle Public Aquarium in a steel cage, a group of wild orcas followed for miles.
ADAPTING TO AN ALIEN WORLD
In the wild, orcas and dolphins may swim up to 100 miles a day. But captured dolphins are confined to tanks as small as 24 feet by 24 feet wide and 6 feet deep. Wild orcas and dolphins can stay underwater for up to 30 minutes at a time, and they typically spend only 10 to 20 percent of their time at the water's surface. But because the tanks in marine parks are so shallow, captive orcas and dolphins spend more than half of their time at the surface. Experts believe this may account for the collapsed dorsal fins seen on the majority of captive orcas.
Dolphins navigate by echolocation. They bounce sonar waves off other objects to determine shape, density, distance, and location. In tanks, the reverberations from their own sonar bouncing off walls drives some dolphins insane. Jean-Michel Cousteau believes that for captive dolphins, "their world becomes a maze of meaningless reverberations."
Tanks are kept clean with chlorine, copper sulfate, and other harsh chemicals that irritate dolphins' eyes, causing many to swim with their eyes closed. Former dolphin trainer Ric O'Barry, who trained dolphins for the television show "Flipper," believes excessive chlorine has caused some dolphins to go blind. The United States Department of Agriculture closed Florida's Ocean World after determining that over-chlorinated water was causing dolphins' skin to peel off.
Newly captured dolphins and orcas are also forced to learn tricks. Former trainers say that withholding food and isolating animals who refuse to perform are two common training methods. According to Ric O'Barry, "positive reward" training is a euphemism for food deprivation. Marine parks may withhold up to 60 percent of food before shows so that the animals will be "sharp" for performances. Former dolphin trainer Doug Cartlidge maintains that highly social dolphins are punished by being isolated from other animals: "You put them in a pen and ignore them. It's like psychological torture." It's little wonder, then, that captive orcas and dolphins are, as O'Barry says, "so stressed-out you wouldn't believe it." The stress is so great that some commit suicide. Jacques Cousteau and his son, Jean-Michel, vowed never to capture marine mammals again after witnessing one captured dolphin kill himself by deliberately crashing into the side of his tank again and again.
If life for captive orcas and dolphins is as tranquil as marine parks would have us believe, the animals should live longer than their wild counterparts. After all, captive marine mammals are not subject to predators and ocean pollution. But captivity is a death sentence for orcas and dolphins.
In the wild, dolphins can live to be 25 to 50 years old. Male orcas live between 50 and 60 years, females between 80 and 90 years. But orcas at Sea World and other marine parks rarely survive more than 10 years in captivity. More than half of all dolphins die within the first two years of captivity; the remaining dolphins live an average of only six years. One Canadian research team found that captivity shortens an orca's life by as much as 43 years, and a dolphin's life by up to 15 years.
Sea World, which owns most of the captive orcas and dolphins in the United States, has one of the worst histories of caring for its animals. After Sea World purchased and closed Marineland, a Southern California competitor, it shipped the Marineland animals to various Sea World facilities. Within a year, 12 of them--5 dolphins, 5 sea lions, and 2 seals--were dead. The following year, Orky, a Marineland orca said to be the "world's most famous killer whale," also died. Because of such high mortality rates and because captive breeding programs have been highly unsuccessful, marine parks continue to capture orcas and dolphins from the wild.
Captive animals are not the only victims of these "circuses of the sea." Sea World patrons were stunned when two orcas repeatedly dragged trainer Jonathan Smith to the bottom of their tank, in an apparent attempt to drown him. Trainer Keltie Lee Byrne was killed by three Sea Land orcas after she fell into the water with them.
Marine parks have shown no more interest in conserving marine mammals' natural habitats than they have in educating audiences. In fact, the industry has actively lobbied to keep small cetaceans, such as orcas and dolphins, outside the jurisdiction of the International Whaling Commission (even though this would help protect these animals in the wild) because they don't want to risk not being able to capture additional animals in the future.
TURNING THE TIDE
Increasingly, people around the world are recognizing that dolphins, orcas, and other cetaceans do not belong in captivity. Canada no longer allows beluga whales to be captured and exported. In Brazil, it is illegal to use marine mammals for entertainment. In England, consumer boycotts have forced all the marine parks to close. Israel has prohibited the importation of dolphins for use in marine parks, South Carolina has banned all exhibits of whales and dolphins, and other states are currently working on legislation to prohibit the capture or restrict the display of marine mammals.
Richard Donner, coproducer of the film "Free Willy," has joined a growing number of people in calling for an end to the marine mammal trade. Says Donner, "Removal of these majestic mammals from the wild for commercial purposes is obscene....These horrendous captures absolutely must become a thing of the past."
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Boycott all forms of animal entertainment.
Contact your local, state and federal officials and encourage them to ban marine mammal parks.
Switching to a vegan lifestyle is accompanied with so many benefits (environmental, animal compassion, healthier living) that the real question you should ask is, “Why not?” By switching to a vegan lifestyle, you will see your health drastically improve, your negative environmental impact will diminish, and you will help save millions of animals worldwide.
Veganism And Health
There is clear and overwhelming medical evidence that the incidence of heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis and diabetes is much less among vegans; obesity as well. Vegans are usually in better physical condition; their food has far lower levels of pesticides; and their immune systems work much better.
The largest epidemiological study to date, commonly referred to as “The China study”, showed that people who consume meat and animal products in quantities similar to those in a typical American diet are 17 times more likely to die from heart disease, and 5 times more likely to suffer from breast cancer, than those whose animal-derived protein comprises less than 5 percent of their total diet.
The concentration of pesticides in meat is 14 times higher than plant foods, because these chemicals accumulate as they progress through the food chain, and they are fat-soluble. Six years after the banning of dieldrin, a pesticide, the USDA confiscated and destroyed 2,000,000 packages of frozen turkey products with high dieldrin concentrations. In 1974, in tests run by the FDA, dieldrin was discovered in 85 percent of all dairy products and in 99.5 percent of the country’s human population.
According to the EPA, vegetarian mothers produce breast milk that has much lower pesticide concentrations than the average American.
In a study published in the NEJM, it was reported that the highest contamination level of vegetarians was lower than the lowest contamination level of non-vegetarians. Mean contamination in vegetarians was only 1 to 2 percent as much as the national average.
Veganism And The Environment
Veganism is a choice that has more positive impact on energy, land, water, ecosystems and wildlife than any other. This is due to livestock consuming several times more grain than their meat output. What’s more, harvesting and transportation of animal-derived products requires huge amounts of energy, and massive quantities of water for the animals and the crops they are fed – not to mention the disturbing amount of pesticides used.
If all countries around the world adopted American diet habits, fossil fuel reserves would be depleted in just eleven years. Plant foods with the worst energy efficiency are ten times more efficient than the most efficient meat food. If we went vegetarian as a nation, our oil imports would be reduced by 60 percent.
More than 50 percent of the nation’s water consumption goes to water the crops that feed livestock. You need 100 times more water for meat production. One day’s food in the typical American diet requires 4,000 gallons of water. Conversely, vegetarian food needs 1,200 gallons, and vegan food just 300 gallons. When you eat the typical American diet, just to grow enough food for three days you need to use as much water as you need to shower every day for the whole year.
Livestock in America produces 20 times more waste than humans, a jaw-dropping 250 thousand pounds per second. The waste produced by a large feedlot rivals that of a large city – and feedlots don't have sewage systems. This results in animal waste ending up in lakes and rivers, increasing their pollution of phosphates, nitrates, ammonia, and microorganisms, thereby depleting oxygen and killing animal and plant life. The meat industry produces 300 percent more harmful organic waste than all the other industries in the country combined.
To produce food for the average American diet, 10 times more land is needed compared to a vegetarian one. 20 thousand pounds of potatoes vs. only 165 pounds of beef can come out of an acre of land. In the United States alone, in order to support our meat-based diet, 260 million acres of forest have been turned over to agriculture, accounting for more than one acre per person. Forests are destroyed at a rate of 1 acre every 5 seconds. Seven acres of forest are turned into grazing or crop fields for animal feeding for every acre cleared for urban development.
Almost 85 percent of all lost topsoil is directly related to livestock farming. According to the USDA, topsoil loss has caused crop productivity to drop by as much as 70 percent. Almost 500 years are required for the formation of one inch of topsoil under natural conditions. Conversely, vegan diets demand less than 5 percent of the topsoil needed for meat-based diets.
Moral Benefits Of Veganism
Animal suffering is nobody’s objective, but we often forget that it’s inevitable when we eat them. The one most effective action an individual can perform to ease the suffering of animals is to simply remove them from your diet.
We kill approximately 8 billion animals every year to produce food in the U.S. alone, which accounts for more than the planet’s entire human population. It is estimated that around 24 animals die every year for one American to feed on them. To make things worse, modern agriculture has been raising animals in small confinement facilities, far removed from the traditional image of the beautiful-looking pasture – a method called factory farming.
Most factory farmed animals are raised in tiny cages with no room to move. They are deprived of exercise so that all of their bodies' energy goes toward producing flesh, eggs, or milk for human consumption. Massive amounts of potent drugs are fed to the animals to stop them from becoming sick due to their filthy living conditions, and to boost their production faster than their natural development would dictate. When chickens and cows become less productive in eggs and milk, they are killed and turned into low-quality meat (pet food and fast food).
Cattle raised for beef are usually born in one state, fattened in another, and slaughtered in yet another. They are fed an unnatural diet of high-bulk grains and other "fillers" (including sawdust). They are castrated, de-horned, and branded without anesthetics. During transportation, cattle are crowded into metal trucks where they suffer from fear, injury, temperature extremes, and lack of food, water, and veterinary care. Calves raised for veal are taken from their mothers only a few days after birth, chained in stalls only 22 inches wide with slatted floors that cause severe leg and joint pain. They are fed a milk substitute laced with hormones but deprived of iron: anemia keeps their flesh pale and tender but makes the calves very weak. When they are slaughtered at the age of about 16 weeks, they are often too sick or crippled to walk. One out of every 10 calves dies in confinement.
Ninety percent of all pigs are closely confined at some point in their lives, and 70 percent are kept constantly confined. Sows are kept pregnant or nursing constantly and are squeezed into narrow metal "iron maiden" stalls, unable to turn around. Although pigs are naturally peaceful and social animals, they resort to cannibalism and tailbiting when packed into crowded pens and develop neurotic behaviors when kept isolated and confined. They often contract dysentery, cholera, trichinosis, and other diseases fostered by factory farming.
Chickens are divided into two groups: layers and broilers. Five to six laying hens are kept in a 14-inch-square mesh cage, and cages are often stacked in many tiers. Conveyor belts bring in food and water and carry away eggs and excrement. Because the hens are severely crowded, they are kept in semi-darkness and their beaks are cut off with hot irons (without anesthetics) to keep them from pecking each other to death from stress. The wire mesh of the cages rubs their feathers off, chafes their skin, and cripples their feet. Approximately 20 percent of the hens raised under these conditions die of stress or disease. At the age of one to two years, their overworked bodies decline in egg production and they are slaughtered (chickens would normally live 15-20 years).
More than six billion "broiler" chickens are raised in sheds each year. Lighting is manipulated to keep the birds eating as often as possible, and they are killed after only nine weeks. Despite the heavy use of pesticides and antibiotics, up to 60 percent of chickens sold at the supermarket are infected with live salmonella bacteria.
Farm animals are sentient beings that experience all the same emotions we do. They deserve our respect and compassion. The easiest and most effective way to reduce the cruelty inflicted on farm animals is to become vegan.
Performing captive wildlife -- elephants, lions, tigers, bears, baboons, monkeys, camels, llamas -- all endure years of physical and psychological pain and suffering in traveling acts to "entertain" an uninformed audience.
Animals used in the circus and other traveling acts travel thousands of miles each year without water, in railroad cars or trucks not air conditioned in summer or heated in winter. Elephants are forced to stand in their own waste, chained in place for up to 100 hours while being transported from one performance to another. These performing animals do not receive the proper care, nutrition and environmental enrichment required for their well-being.
Elephants suffer terribly while being used for human "entertainment." Elephants have three basic needs -- live vegetation for food, family relationships, and freedom of movement -- all of which are denied in the circus setting. In captivity, baby elephants are wrenched from their mother at one year of age and are trained with abusive domineering methods. Perhaps as the result of the ongoing stress and abuse they endure, there have been dozens of premature deaths of elephants used in the circus.
Compare the existence of captive elephants to those left in the wild. Elephants in the wild live as long as 70 years. Wild elephants live in herds and have a large extended family with strong social bonds. Baby elephants stay very close to their mothers for the first three years of their lives, and the females remain with their extended families throughout their lifetime. They roam up to 25 miles a day foraging for food and water. They take dust baths and find comfort during hot weather by wading in water and standing in the shade.
Large exotic cats used in the circus don't fare any better. In the wild, large cats roam for miles each day; they hunt for food, sleep in the sun and lead a fairly solitary existence. Exotic cats used in the circus are allowed none of these behaviors. They live and travel in small cages in close confinement with other cats. They have little room to move around and are never provided with any environmental enrichment.
Elephant training is almost always based on fear and intimidation; trainers must break the spirit of these magnificent animals in order to control them. It is not uncommon for an elephant to be tied down and beaten for days at a time while being trained to "perform." During their training and throughout their lives in captivity elephants are beaten with clubs, shocked with electric prods, stabbed with sharp (ankus) hooks and whipped.
Cats used in the circus are also trained by inherently cruel and dominating methods to force them to perform tricks that are unnatural and undignified. Exotic cats are often whipped, choked and beaten during their training sessions. To force a cat, such as a tiger, to stand on her hind legs, her front paws are often burned with cigarette lighters. To make the cats used in the circus run "enthusiastically" into the circus arena, they are often prodded with pipes or frightened by loud noises to make them appear excited to perform.
It is no wonder that out of frustration and rage elephants used in circuses have been responsible for over 40 human deaths worldwide since 1990. Denied their natural behaviors, and stressed by being kept in close quarters and being forced to constantly perform inane tricks, captive cats also strike back against those responsible for their confinement. There have been more than 75 documented human attacks by felines since 1990.
No traveling animal act, regardless of size or appearance, is capable of handling exotic wildlife in a humane manner. Federal USDA inspection records of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus show more than 100 instances of substandard animal keeping between 1992 and 1997 alone. Although such a record of non-compliant items is not rare, citations are seldom issued. Each year only approximately a dozen of the 2,000+ licensed animal exhibitors in the U.S. are cited, and just one or two may have their license suspended or revoked by the USDA. Fines are frequently suspended.
Despite poor enforcement of animal welfare laws to protect animals in circuses, hope is on the horizon. A movement is underway to restrict or ban traveling animal acts at the local and state level. Traveling acts using animals have been banned in a number of cities in Australia and Canada. Several towns in the U.S. have prohibited animal acts and a few large cities are considering bans. Bills restricting circuses have been introduced in several state legislatures in recent years, and legislation was introduced in Congress to prohibit the use of elephants in circuses and for rides.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Do not patronize any form of entertainment that uses animals. Tell your friends and family to boycott all animal circuses and other animal acts. Instead, support one of the growing number of circuses that do not use animals. Do not allow elephant rides or other animal acts to be used for fundraising purposes in your community. Contact the event sponsors and urge them to promote humane, animal-free circuses instead. Support legislation to protect captive exotic animals.
If you witness animal cruelty at an event, document it in writing and/or with photographs or videotape and report it to your local humane society and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA): USDA Animal Care, 4700 River Road, Unit 84, Riverdale, MD 20737-1234, Phone: 301-734-4981 Fax 301-734-4978.
Surveys show that public speaking is the number one phobia in America. The fear of death is number seven! The idea of speaking before a group may terrify you, but one day you'll need to speak publicly to help animals and the planet. If you plan your speech and rehearse your presentation, you may still be nervous but at least people will listen.
Your first step in preparing a speech is to understand the nature of the people you'll be speaking to. Try to determine the age, sex, religion, occupation, and political affiliation of the group. How much do they already know about your topic? Do you share any beliefs or experiences with them? Try to put yourself in their shoes. You also need to consider how you want your speech to affect your audience. What do you want them to feel, think, or do after they've heard your speech?
Don't be afraid of "alienating" people by talking about environmental and animal issues. If you don't introduce them to new ideas, who will? How you speak is as important as what you say. A shrill, aggressive demeanor will alienate people; a calm voice and friendly manner will encourage them to think twice about those new ideas.
WRITING A SPEECH
Before you begin writing your speech, make a list of two to five main points you want to make. Write out each point in one or two sentences. Don't try to make more than five points.
You're more likely to persuade your audience if you don't speak in generalities. If necessary, do some research to find some specific examples that will illustrate your points dramatically. Statistics are boring if you overuse them, but are good for making comparisons. People are more likely to retain information if it is new, relevant and presented by vivid comparison and contrast.
Don't try to write and edit at the same time. Write the first draft as ideas occur to you. Don't worry about spelling, punctuation, grammar, or how it will sound. Just get your thoughts down! Editing is a separate process that should be done after writing.
Your speech will be most effective if you plan your opening and closing statements and key transitions down to the last word. Organize the speech logically with a beginning, middle and end. In other words, tell them what you're going to tell them; tell them; then tell them what you've told them. Here are some suggestions:
Establish your credibility by briefly stating your qualifications and experience, or have someone introduce you this way.
Open with an attention-getting fact, rhetorical question (making sure you know what the answer will be), quotation (to support your message), or relevant anecdote.
You may challenge your audience, but make sure you don't sound hostile.
You don't have to start with a joke, especially if it doesn't support your message.
Keep it short. Your speech should take less than 20 minutes.
Tell the audience what the problem is, what your proposed solution is, and what actions they can take to help bring about the solution.
When you prepare your final version, write or type the beginning, ending, and key transitions and phrases in large print, and then itemize your main points. Only write two thirds of the way down the page so it won't be obvious if you need to look at your notes.
Plan a snappy conclusion that summarizes your main points. But don't say, "In conclusion "
Don't present new information at the end of your speech.
Don't just trail off at the end. Finish with an appeal for action.
REHEARSING YOUR SPEECH
You should know your speech well enough that you can speak naturally and only glance occasionally at your notes.
Practice your speech no fewer than three times, but not more than six times. Don't practice sitting down - stand up. Work on one thing at a time: gestures, voice, content or visuals. Pay attention to the beginning and end of your speech, since these will be what the audience remembers most.
Practice your speech in front of another person, and ask him or her for constructive criticism.
Be sure to pace yourself, using pauses and changes in volume for emphasis. Speak clearly and don't slur your words.
Remember that gestures, movement and eye contact can add to your impact, but make sure they're natural and relevant.
Move briskly and purposefully, but don't be afraid to stand still. Stand straight and keep your feet 12 to 14 inches apart. Don't point, put your hands in your pockets or gesture below chest level. Keep your hands away from your mouth.
Look at your audience, smile, and make eye contact. Focus on one friendly face for a complete sentence, then move on to someone else. Don't look at the floor or ceiling or stare at only one person. Also, don't look at your watch. Take it off and put it on the lectern if you need it.
Try not to speak from the lectern - it's a barrier between you and your audience. Use it to put your notes on, and then try to walk around. You can always go back to the lectern to check your notes when you need to.
Never walk away while most people are still applauding.
USING VISUAL AIDS
Visual aids can help you make your point if the subject matter is complex, dry, or unfamiliar. Make sure they reinforce your point of view and make abstract ideas concrete. PowerPoint presentations, photos, charts and videos can all help you get your point across.
When you use a visual aid, explain to people what you're showing them. Summarize the information on the slide or chart without reading it word-for-word.
Talk to the audience, not to the visual aid.
Visual aids should be simple and colorful, but remember that red and green are difficult to read from a distance. Don't reveal visual aids until you're ready to show them, and remove them after you've used them.
A few effective visual aids can help your audience understand your message, but too many will distract them.
PREPARING FOR A QUESTION-AND-ANSWER SESSION
A well-handled question-and-answer session can strengthen your credibility, demonstrate your knowledge, and give you a chance to clarify and expand your ideas. A poorly handled session can hurt your credibility, cause you to lose control of the audience, and give your adversaries an opportunity to make their case.
Try to anticipate difficult questions in advance. Play the "devil's advocate" and guess which questions your opponents might ask. Write down the toughest questions you can think of and strong responses. Practice your answers out loud, preferably with someone else asking the questions. Have friends ask hostile, aggressive questions so you're less likely to get rattled by the real thing.
Remember that tough questions aren't necessarily hostile. If you can remember that, you won't get defensive or nervous. You can also "buy time" to collect your thoughts by repeating or rephrasing the question. Then answer the question.
If someone is hostile, stay cool. You must appear calm and reasonable, even if you don't feel that way. Listen carefully to each question, be tactful, and avoid using such emotionally charged words like "obviously" when you answer. Stick to things you can prove and stick to facts.
Use the "feel, felt, find" method to disagree with someone: "I understand how you feel. Others have felt that way. But I find in my experience that ..."
Answer to the entire audience, not just the questioner (especially if it's a hostile question). If someone tries to get control of the session, ask, "What is your question?" or say, "I'll be happy to hear your comments afterwards, but we've got to end soon, so let's go on to another question."
Never forget that, when you speak in defense of the planet and animals, you are right. If you speak sincerely and with conviction, you will reach your audience. They may not walk out agreeing with you, but you will plant an idea in their minds that can grow.
If you've tabled enough to build up an e-mail list or social media following of 100 or more people, you may want to hold a public meeting. There are several good reasons to hold a meeting: to form a local group, to show an animal or environmental film, or to have a speaker urge people to take action on a particular issue. Be sure you're clear about the purpose of your meeting, as this affects how you plan it.
SETTING THE DATE
If you are inviting a speaker, first call and find out when he or she is available. If you intend to show a film or video, find out when you can get it and what equipment you'll need to show it. These factors will determine the date of your meeting. Before you finalize the date, call the parks and recreation department, chamber of commerce and area schools to make sure your meeting doesn't conflict with any major sporting events or local community gatherings. Give yourself at least six weeks to get ready.
FINDING THE RIGHT SPOT
Most cities have rooms or auditoriums in libraries, community centers or government office buildings that local groups can use free of charge. Try calling the "facilities management" office of the city or county government, or the mayor's office. Universities have excellent facilities, including auditoriums, that students and faculty members can often use free of charge.
Send in any required permit applications as early as possible. It could take several weeks to get an application approved, especially if it has to be submitted to a monthly town council meeting. If you are denied a permit, politely ask exactly why, then try to enlist a lawyer to call and appeal the denial. If you can't find lawyers who will volunteer their services, call the nearest office of the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union). They may be able to help.
If you can't find a government or library room, try renting a room from a church, the YMCA, an event center or a school. In any case, go and see the room first. It's better to have a room that's a little too small. A crowded room will make the meeting seem more successful than a large, half-empty room.
PUBLICIZING THE EVENT
Once you've got the date, place, topic and speaker chosen, you're ready to publicize your meeting. Here are some ways to do it:
Distribute and post flyers.
Create social media event pages.
E-mail details to the people on your contact list.
Make a public service announcement over the radio or on TV.
Get a newspaper listing in the "event" or "calendar" section.
Send a news release to local newspapers.
Most radio stations feature a community bulletin board to air free announcements of local events (called public service announcements or PSAs). You'll have to call each station to find out its policy and time limit (usually 20 seconds) for these announcements; they sometimes require a typewritten or e-mail notice up to a month in advance. Local TV stations are also worth checking for free announcements.
Newspapers often offer free services to publicize community group events. Try both the established publications and the small, local papers. Once again, you may need to send a written or e-mail notice a few weeks ahead of time.
Get others involved to help post flyers, make some telephone calls, spread the word on social media or help you set up the meeting.
If your speaker is willing, try to schedule talk shows or newspaper interviews while he or she is in town.
CONDUCTING THE MEETING
Most of us are nervous on the day we're doing something special or new. While you may not be able to avoid being anxious, you can eliminate some worry (and maybe avert some misery) if you are well prepared.
A few days before the meeting: Call your speaker to confirm the date and time he or she is expected. Find out how the speaker would like to be introduced, and take a few minutes to write and practice the introduction. Confirm your room rental. Make sure your equipment is reserved and that you have adequate extension cords to hook up the equipment.
The day of your meeting: Arrive at the room at least an hour ahead of time. Set up the equipment you'll be using and make sure it works. Lay out literature on a table in the back of the room, and arrange chairs near the front of the room.
As people arrive: Be at the door to greet people. Circulate a signup sheet, but remove it when the meeting is ready to start.
Introduce the speaker to start the meeting and thank him or her at the end of the meeting. Ask people if they've added their names to the signup sheet, and thank them for coming to your meeting. Urge them to get involved. Give them something specific to do: write a letter, make a telephone call, share your social media pages, or hand out leaflets. Always end on an upbeat note.
A few days later, send a short thank-you to your speaker; you may want to invite him or her again.
Send a follow-up message suggesting specific actions to people who attended the meeting, and be sure to add any new contacts to your mailing list. Post photos and videos of the event on public media.
As you set up tables and distribute leaflets, you'll meet people who feel the way you do about earth and animal issues. Although it's not absolutely necessary, you can increase your effectiveness by joining forces and forming a group. A group can have more clout than one person. The media, the government, and the public will usually give more serious consideration to the views of a group.
CHOOSING YOUR ISSUES
A group can start with two people. The important thing is to decide from the beginning which issues you will work on. Then choose a name for your group that reflects that focus. Do you want to work primarily on animal or environmental issues? Realistically, you won't have the time, energy, or money to focus on all issues effectively. It's usually best to stick to animal and environmental education, organizing, and lobbying and refer individual cruelty cases to the appropriate agencies in your community that should be equipped and trained to deal with them.
TAKING THE FIRST STEP
Before you get a group together, educate and organize yourself:
Setup a website or social media page for your group.
Get a post office box mailing address at a local post office.
Open a bank account. You'll need to keep accurate financial records from the start, so decide on a record-keeping system. At the minimum, record the date and amount of all donations, and the name and address of the donor. Also keep a record of how money is spent, including the date, amount and purpose. Save all your receipts and write on the back of the receipt the item you bought and the date and reason you bought it.
Prepare an information pack for new members and a form thank-you letter for donations you receive...and make sure you acknowledge them quickly.
Prepare a media list of newspapers and TV and radio stations with their addresses, telephone numbers and deadlines to save time when you need to publicize an event.
Do some long-term planning. Set up a tabling schedule or leafletting plan for the next three to six months.
As a small and new group, prioritize your activities. Member newsletters, for example, should be a low priority. Your time and money will be more wisely spent on educational materials, leaflets and campaigning. Remember that newsletters relate what a group has already done - they shouldn't be used as a replacement for action.
You may want to postpone incorporating your group as long as your budget is small and you're not launching high-profile campaigns.
THE FIRST MEETING
Decide how you want to operate. Should you meet once a month or call meetings as you need them? If you have regular meetings, they should be held on the same day and time each month to make them easier to remember and schedule. Can you find a room at the library or a local school or church? Avoid meeting in people's homes - you're better off in neutral territory.
LEADING THE GROUP
Expect to be the leader of your group and to do most of the work, even if you have hundreds of people interested in joining. As the leader, it's your job to prepare an agenda for each meeting. Make sure each person will leave the meeting with something to do. It may seem tedious to do this but people feel useless and drop out if they don't feel needed. Find out what kinds of things people are good at: who has web designing skills or access to a copy machine, who is good at designing posters, and who enjoys tabling.
Don't let meetings become strictly social affairs - keep on target. Avoid the "pot-luck supper" trap. Many new activists will suggest having them frequently. But people have a limited amount of time and energy, and it's more important to spend it on activism than on cooking. Make sure your meetings are friendly enough that people feel comfortable offering their feedback and ideas. Having a "work party" to prepare posters or write letters can do wonders to boost spirits.
Always be on the lookout for potential leaders to share responsibilities. Most groups are held together by one or two strong people, with short-term volunteers working only when convenient.
Let people move (and move on) at their own pace, and accept the fact that people will leave the group. Be grateful for every contribution, no matter how small, and never publicly criticize or embarrass anyone. Never make people feel guilty for not doing enough. You won't encourage them to do more; it's more likely they'll stop working completely. People's activism thrives on encouragement and recognition rather than criticism.
It's very important to avoid fighting within the group. Avoid criticizing others, even if you're speaking confidentially - your words may come back to haunt you. If it's really necessary, criticize the act rather than the individual.
Be open to new ideas and encourage people to express themselves. Have regular brainstorming sessions. Ask each person to think of several ideas, and write down every one, no matter how offbeat. Discuss the ideas only after you've finished listing them all. Don't allow people to disparage others' input. Everyone is special in some way, and even outlandish suggestions can lead to creative planning. Ask questions and listen attentively.
WHAT SHOULD THE GROUP DO?
Your group's activities will probably fall into three categories: public education, seasonal or "reaction" events, and long-term campaigns.
Every group should try to sustain a minimum schedule of public education work, including tabling, leafletting and electronic media. Your group can also host educational seminars and workshops, donate earth and animal themed books and media to libraries and schools, and host fundraising events that also educate the public on specific issues.
Seasonal or "reaction" events are another valuable activity. These include leafletting or picketing stores that carry inhumane items in response to advertised sales, demonstrating when a circus or rodeo comes to town or protesting the destruction of area wild-lands. In smaller towns where you are likely to get publicity, these one-time events can be especially effective.
The easiest way for local groups to work on long-term campaigns is to join one that has been initiated by a national organization. You can bring important issues to your community and have the benefit of the national group's literature and resources.
You may eventually want to take on a purely local campaign to shut down a lab, puppy mill or polluting factory, or to stop industrial polluting. This kind of campaign will most directly involve the local community and can be one of the best ways to bring people into the movement. Be aware, however, that this requires much more time and money than the one-shot seasonal events.
Above all, your group should be visible. Get into the public eye often, and always try to get media coverage for your events.
You don't have to form a group to accomplish something; you can do a lot by yourself. If you've uncovered an important local issue, you may wish to print a flyer to hand out to people on the street. Or maybe you've collected signatures from people enthusiastic about earth and animal issues and want to invite them to a meeting with an inspiring speaker. Or you may want to urge local residents to spay and neuter their animals. Once you've defined your message and audience, try to prepare a leaflet that will reach them.
MAKING WORDS COUNT
Your leaflet must answer the questions what, where, when, who, and why. It must tell people specifically what they can do to help. Include contact information and direct to the reader to sources of additional information on the topic.
People won't read a long complicated leaflet, so keep your sentences short and clear. Use descriptive headings, subheadings and quotations to get your main points across, and use three or four headings to a page so that if people only read the headlines they still get the message. Keep your flier simple, to the point and easy to understand.
Don't make remarks you can't substantiate. Be careful not to make libelous statements - call the act cruel and irresponsible, not the individual.
Often, making a leaflet starts with some creative brainstorming. Taking the time to develop ideas will help when planning the printed page in more detail. You'll most likely want a central theme for the leaflet. Developing words that go along with this theme will help when it's time to create all of the text that will go into this document. Each separate fold of a leaflet may have its own unique focus, so think about how each part of your project will fit together. Consider phrasing for titles and text. With overall themes in hand, the leaflet planner can develop those into phrases or slogans that might lead in leaflet text.
CREATE YOUR LAYOUT
Do a rough layout. The rough layout for a leaflet is usually a sketch that will show where text and images will be positioned on the leaflet, how big the size of each text portion will be, and how much of the leaflet will be dedicated to each separate part or idea. This rough draft will show how much room is available and how it can be allocated.
Design leaflets are usually easiest done digitally. Digital word processor or print shop programs, such as MS Word, are common software solutions for creating leaflets. Many printing companies also provide online software. Look at your software and understand how the digital setup will translate to the printed page, especially if you plan to fold the leaflet. Do a print preview. A page layout or print preview option helps to see how the leaflet will look when it is printed. Make any needed edits, then print out a few copies and observe how they are actually printed on the page. Practice folding the leaflet and make sure that it is correct before printing hundreds of copies for distribution. Correct any errors as needed, and through trial and error, an attractive document should emerge.
When distributing your leaflets, don’t wait for people to approach you. Walk up to them, and with a friendly smile, hand them a leaflet accompanied by a positive comment like, “Have you received one of these yet?” Make eye contact and never be pushy. Simple eye contact will help you get their attention.
Be prepared for questions! Know at least three facts from the leaflet that you’re passing out and know more info that isn’t included in the leaflet.
Don’t waste time arguing. Say politely, “I think that if you read this material, you might change your mind.” Then smile, hand them a leaflet, and turn away.
You want people to take your message seriously. People will judge you by the way you look, so look clean and professional.
Hold the flyer so the title can be clearly seen by passersby.
Take people's e-mail addresses if they seem interested, but don't get caught up in a conversation that distracts you from your job.
Try to get someone else to leaflet with you, especially in potentially hostile territory.
It is illegal to drop leaflets in mailboxes, although you can put them through a letter slot in a door or leave them in door handles or on the doorstep.
If you are planning to solicit contributions, check local and state regulations.
Don’t leave a mess! Pick up discarded leaflets before you leave the area.
You may also want to post leaflets on bulletin boards in public areas such as libraries, veterinary offices, cat and dog supply stores, supermarkets, laundromats and apartment buildings. Remember to ask permission from the owner of the area before posting a leaflet to make sure that it stays posted. Some places will even allow you to leave a stack of leaflets.
A great way to reach a large number of people is to setup an information table in a busy area of town. Choose a spot with a lot of pedestrian traffic where people will see you. Find out where other groups in your community setup tables, and get a list of festivals or fairs from the Chamber of Commerce, Department of Parks and Recreation, or Tourist Department.
Once you've chosen a good location for a table, call the mayor's office or police station to learn about regulations you need to follow. Here are some questions to ask:
Do I need a permit? Permits are usually easy to apply for, although they may take two or three weeks to process.
How often can I use this spot?
Are there restrictions on the type of equipment that can be set up?
Are there any regulations on selling items such as buttons and bumper stickers at a table? If so, you can ask for donations instead of charging for the merchandise.
Ask for several copies of the application form to save for future use.
Here's what you need to set up your table:
one or two card tables or a folding display table
a plain table cloth to cover the table, long enough to reach the ground
a donation can
signup sheets (so you can contact activists for future events)
paperweights - small but heavy
Arrange your table neatly and attractively. Remove rubber bands from pamphlets so people can pick them up easily. Keep an eye on your donation can - don't let someone walk off with it. Leave a five-dollar bill and some change in the can to encourage people's generosity!
If visitors to your table seem interested, ask them to leave their e-mail address or join your social networking site. Encourage them to help with your cause. Don't spend so much time with one person that you miss contact with others who may be interested. Be especially sure not to waste time and attention on someone who disagrees with you; you may alienate people who overhear the argument. Instead, clarify your position briefly, express regret at your disagreement, and turn to someone else as quickly as possible. You may feel as if you're "backing down," but arguing at a table is a waste of time and can cause you to miss potential supporters.
Above all, remember to smile, be friendly, and be patient. You, too, were once unaware of animal and environmental issues. Let others know that your background is much like theirs, but that once you learned about animal suffering and the state of the environment you decided to take action. Lifestyles and attitudes are easy to change - you're living proof! And you can show others how to be more compassionate, too!
Habitat loss and the extinction of species are devastating consequences of irresponsible human actions. The problem’s complexity and reach often leads people to feel unable to make a difference. However, every single action we take is crucial in bringing about change. Although individually our contribution may seem small, the sum of our efforts can really make a huge difference.
Protect Wildlife Habitat
The most pressing issue that threatens species is their progressive loss of habitat. Animal agriculture, deforestation, and development impact the environment in profound ways: erosion, soil compaction, desertification and changes in climate. When the land is manipulated in such a manner, wildlife habitat alteration or even elimination takes place. This is more pronounced when rare species are involved; these alterations may result in the rapid extinction of the species. Habitat protection ensures that whole animal communities are safe, which in turn leads to fewer interventions needed towards the conservation of endangered species. Reserves, parks, and similar protected areas are often the only safe havens that remain unaffected by habitat loss.
Consume Less, Recycle More
A great way to minimize our effect on the environment is to recycle and reuse as much as possible. Consuming less is an immensely effective means of protecting the planet. What’s more, by reducing our energy consumption we help conserve our natural resources, and we save money in the process!
Become Member Of A Conservation Organization
Numerous conservation organizations exist with a mission to protect endangered species and habitats. Each organization has a different mission – for some it’s to safeguard a certain habitat or species, for others to push for the legislation of good environmental practices. If you are particularly interested in a topic, chances are that you will find an organization that shares your interest. Becoming a member will let you back organized, constant efforts towards protecting wildlife and habitats. Moreover, there are often special programs available that offer the chance to do conservation field work, as many organizations depend on volunteer work.
Use Fewer Herbicides And Pesticides
Herbicides and pesticides are effective in beautifying your backyard, but they wreak havoc on wildlife on several levels. Some of these compounds degrade at an extremely slow rate, which means their levels build up in the soil and, consequently, pass into the food chain. Certain animal groups, like the amphibians, are especially prone to the toxic effects of these chemicals, suffering a greater impact.
Prevent Invasive Species From Spreading
Native wildlife populations all over the world have been severely affected by the invasion of non-native species, since the latter increase competition for food and habitat. Native species may even become their direct prey, risking extinction. You can minimize the impact of invasive species by populating your garden with native plants.
Don’t Drive Too Fast
For many native species, life takes place in densely populated areas, meaning they have to find their way through a labyrinth of human-made dangers. Roads, in particular, pose one of the greatest risks for wild animals that live in developed areas, because they split their habitat and pose a constant threat to animals that try to cross to the other side. So, if you are driving in such areas, reduce your speed and pay attention for such animals.
Install Decals On Windows To Prevent Bird Collisions
Collisions with windows is a serious risk for birds. Almost one billion birds lose their lives every year by colliding with windows. A simple way of decreasing that number is by installing decals on the windows of your office and home. Other things you can do to help is to relocate bird feeders to a more convenient spot, draw curtains and shades when it’s bright outside, install screens on the external side of your windows, or use tinted window glass.
Express Your Concerns And Become Actively Involved
By actively expressing your concerns regarding endangered species to local and national authorities, you raise the chances of someone actually doing something to remedy the situation.
Share Your Excitement For Nature And Wildlife
Motivate other people to read up on wildlife issues, respect wildlife, and be serious about the protection of species and habitats.
Last but not least, the single most effective way of helping wildlife is to adopt a vegan diet. Animal farming is the number one cause of water consumption, pollution, and deforestation. Livestock has a higher greenhouse effect on the atmosphere than fossil fuel consumption. The farming industry is the greatest cause of rainforest demise, soil erosion, habitat loss, species extinction and dead zones in the oceans.
All the garbage you throw away is destined to end up in a landfill. What’s more, most of the items constituting your garbage (metal, plastic, paper, and everything else) was probably created using environmentally harmful methods. When you produce less trash, you ease up your environmental impact. Consider doing the following:
Purchase reusable products, and avoid buying new ones. Take care of, and repair, the ones you currently own. Use glass containers instead of plastic. Stop using plastic bags and opt for reusable cloth. Don’t use disposable kitchenware; use reusable items. Store your food in reusable containers and avoid plastic wrap and aluminum foil as much as possible.
Repair your clothing instead of purchasing new. Equip your most frequently used devices with rechargeable batteries. Opt for used furniture – there is a large supply of it and it costs much less than new. Don’t buy products that are packaged in several layers, when they could have been packaged in one. Almost 33 percent of our waste consists of packaging material.
Choose recycled paper. Print and copy on both sides. Reuse your folders, envelopes and paper clips. Reduce your paper mail by relying more on emails and mobile texting.
Cook your own food. And if you are up for it, grow it yourself! In any case, try to make as many meals as you can from the most basic of ingredients – which you can also buy in bulk to save on packaging.
Try making your own personal care products. Homemade soaps and shampoos are much more environmentally friendly than commercial ones that are often full of toxic chemicals. There are literally no personal care products that you can’t make on your own, including toothpaste, lotion, conditioner and shampoo. Begin by replacing one product at a time. Most homemade products have a variety of uses (IE baking soda can be used as soap, shampoo, conditioner, facial cleanser, teeth whitener and toothpaste – as well as for cleaning.)
Reduce your reliance on chemical products. Synthetic chemicals in cleaning and personal care products end up in the water supply. Because the bulk of chemicals used today are toxic, they end up harming aquatic life and waterways significantly. What’s more, these substances harm people as well, so it’s only in your best interest to reduce their usage. Also, avoid herbicides and pesticides and opt for natural ways of combating pests and weeds.
Revert to homemade cleaning products. You can make all sorts of cleaners – in fact all of your cleaning products – with natural-only ingredients. Read up on how to make alternative cleaning products that exclude harmful chemicals. For instance, you can do your basic cleaning using a 50-50 solution of water and white vinegar, that works just as well as most conventional cleaners on the market. Virtually all your cleaning can be accomplished with baking soda, vinegar and water. You help protect the environment, your health, and save a lot of money.
When there are no reliable alternatives to a harmful item, try to use the minimum amount needed. By doing so, you help the planet and also help your wallet.
A plant-based diet is the most dramatic lifestyle change you can make to help save the planet and its animals. It also provides a wealth of health benefits. People who eat more fruits and vegetables as part of an overall healthy diet are likely to have a reduced risk of some chronic diseases. Fruits provide nutrients vital for health and maintenance of your body.
Most fruits are naturally low in fat, sodium, and calories. None have cholesterol.
Fruits are sources of many essential nutrients that are underconsumed, including potassium, dietary fiber, vitamin C, and folate (folic acid).
Diets rich in potassium may help to maintain healthy blood pressure. Fruit sources of potassium include bananas, prunes and prune juice, dried peaches and apricots, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, and orange juice.
Dietary fiber from fruits helps reduce blood cholesterol levels and may lower risk of heart disease. Fiber is important for proper bowel function. It helps reduce constipation and diverticulosis. Fiber-containing foods such as fruits help provide a feeling of fullness with fewer calories. Whole or cut-up fruits are sources of dietary fiber; fruit juices contain little or no fiber.
Vitamin C is important for growth and repair of all body tissues, helps heal cuts and wounds, and keeps teeth and gums healthy.
Folate (folic acid) helps the body form red blood cells. Women of childbearing age who may become pregnant should consume adequate folate from foods, and in addition 400 mcg of synthetic folic acid from fortified foods or supplements. This reduces the risk of neural tube defects, spina bifida, and anencephaly during fetal development.
Eating a diet rich in vegetables and fruits may reduce risk for heart disease, including heart attack and stroke.
Eating a diet rich in some vegetables and fruits may protect against certain types of cancers.
Diets rich in foods containing fiber, such as some vegetables and fruits, may reduce the risk of heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.
Eating vegetables and fruits rich in potassium may lower blood pressure, and may also reduce the risk of developing kidney stones and help to decrease bone loss.
Eating foods such as fruits that are lower in calories per cup instead of some other higher-calorie food may be useful in helping to lower calorie intake.
Tips To Help You Eat Fruits
Keep a bowl of whole fruit on the table, counter, or in the refrigerator.
Refrigerate cut-up fruit to store for later.
Buy fresh fruits in season when they may be less expensive and at their peak flavor.
Buy fruits that are dried, frozen, and canned (in water or 100% juice) as well as fresh, so that you always have a supply on hand.
Consider convenience when shopping. Try pre-cut packages of fruit (such as melon or pineapple chunks) for a healthy snack in seconds. Choose packaged fruits that do not have added sugars.
For The Best Nutritional Value
Make most of your choices whole or cut-up fruit rather than juice, for the benefits dietary fiber provides.
Select fruits with more potassium often, such as bananas, prunes and prune juice, dried peaches and apricots, and orange juice.
When choosing canned fruits, select fruit canned in 100% fruit juice or water rather than syrup.
Vary your fruit choices. Fruits differ in nutrient content.
At breakfast, top your cereal with bananas or peaches; add blueberries to pancakes; drink 100% orange or grapefruit juice.
At lunch, pack a tangerine, banana, or grapes to eat, or choose fruits from a salad bar. Individual containers of fruits like peaches or applesauce are easy and convenient.
At dinner, add crushed pineapple to vegan coleslaw, or include orange sections or grapes in a tossed salad.
Make a Waldorf salad, with apples, celery, walnuts, and a low-calorie, low-sugar salad dressing.
Add fruit like pineapple or peaches to vegetable kabobs.
For dessert, have baked apples, pears, or a fruit salad.
Cut-up fruit makes a great snack. Either cut them yourself, or buy pre-cut packages of fruit pieces like pineapples or melons. Or, try whole fresh berries or grapes.
Dried fruits also make a great snack. They are easy to carry and store well. Because they are dried, ¼ cup is equivalent to ½ cup of other fruits.
Keep a package of dried fruit in your desk or bag. Some fruits that are available dried include apricots, apples, pineapple, bananas, cherries, figs, dates, cranberries, blueberries, prunes (dried plums), and raisins (dried grapes).
As a snack, spread vegan peanut butter on apple slices.
Frozen juice bars (100% juice) make healthy alternatives to high-fat snacks.
Make Fruit More Appealing
Many fruits taste great with a healthy dip or dressing.
Make a fruit smoothie with fresh or frozen fruit. Try bananas, peaches, strawberries, or other berries.
Try unsweetened applesauce as a healthier substitute for some of the oil when baking cakes.
Try different textures of fruits. For example, apples are crunchy, bananas are smooth and creamy, and oranges are juicy.
For fresh fruit salads, mix apples, bananas, or pears with acidic fruits like oranges, pineapple, or lemon juice to keep them from turning brown.
Fruit Tips For Children
Set a good example for children by eating fruit every day with meals or as snacks.
Offer children a choice of fruits for lunch.
Depending on their age, children can help shop for, clean, peel, or cut up fruits.
While shopping, allow children to pick out a new fruit to try later at home.
Decorate plates or serving dishes with fruit slices.
Top off a bowl of cereal with some berries. Or, make a smiley face with sliced bananas for eyes, raisins for a nose, and an orange slice for a mouth.
Offer raisins or other dried fruits instead of candy.
Make fruit kabobs using pineapple chunks, bananas, grapes, and berries.
Pack a juice box (100% juice) in child lunches instead of soda or other sugar-sweetened beverages.
Look for and choose fruit options, such as sliced apples, mixed fruit cup, or 100% fruit juice in fast food restaurants.
Offer fruit pieces and 100% fruit juice to children. There is often little fruit in “fruit-flavored” beverages or chewy fruit snacks.
Keep It Safe
Rinse fruits before preparing or eating them. Under clean, running water, rub fruits briskly with your hands to remove dirt and surface microorganisms. Dry with a clean cloth towel or paper towel after rinsing.
Despite their professed concern for animals, zoos remain more "collections" of interesting "items" than actual havens or simulated habitats. Zoos teach people that it is acceptable to keep animals in captivity, bored, cramped, lonely and far from their natural homes. They are a form of animal entertainment, not education.
Zoos range in size and quality from cageless parks to small roadside menageries with concrete slabs and iron bars. The larger the zoo and the greater the number and variety of the animals it contains, the more it costs to provide quality care for the animals. Although more than 112 million people visit zoos in the United States and Canada every year, most zoos operate at a loss and must find ways to cut costs (which sometimes means selling animals) or add gimmicks that will attract visitors. Zoo officials often consider profits ahead of the animals' well-being.
Animals suffer from more than neglect in some zoos. When Dunda, an African elephant, was transferred from the San Diego Zoo to the San Diego Wild Animal Park, she was chained, pulled to the ground, and beaten with ax handles for two days. One witness described the blows as "home run swings." Such abuse may be the norm. "You have to motivate them," says San Francisco zookeeper Paul Hunter of elephants, "and the way you do that is by beating the hell out of them."
Zoos claim to educate people and preserve species, but they frequently fall short on both counts. Most zoo enclosures are quite small, and labels provide little more information than the species' name, diet and natural range. The animals' normal behavior is seldom discussed, much less observed, because their natural needs are seldom met. Birds' wings may be clipped so they cannot fly, aquatic animals often have little water, and the many animals who naturally live in large herds or family groups are often kept alone or, at most, in pairs. Natural hunting and mating behaviors are virtually eliminated by regulated feeding and breeding regimens. The animals are closely confined, lack privacy and have little opportunity for mental stimulation or physical exercise, resulting in abnormal and self-destructive behavior called zoochosis.
A worldwide study of zoos conducted by the Born Free Foundation revealed that zoochosis is rampant in confined animals around the globe. Another study found that elephants spend 22 percent of their time engaging in abnormal behaviors, such as repeated head bobbing or biting cage bars, and bears spend about 30 percent of their time pacing, a sign of distress.
One sanctuary that is home to rescued zoo animals reports seeing frequent signs of zoochosis in animals brought to the sanctuary from zoos. Of chimpanzees, who bite their own limbs from captivity-induced stress, the manager says: "Their hands were unrecognizable from all the scar tissue."
More than half the world's zoos "are still in bad conditions" and treating chimpanzees poorly, according to renowned chimpanzee expert Jane Goodall.
As for education, zoo visitors usually spend only a few minutes at each display, seeking entertainment rather than enlightenment. A study of the zoo in Buffalo, N.Y., found that most people passed cages quickly, and described animals in such terms as "funny-looking," "dirty," or "lazy."
The purpose of most zoos' research is to find ways to breed and maintain more animals in captivity. If zoos ceased to exist, so would the need for most of their research. Protecting species from extinction sounds like a noble goal, but zoo officials usually favor exotic or popular animals who draw crowds and publicity, and neglect less popular species. Most animals housed in zoos are not endangered, nor are they being prepared for release into natural habitats. It is nearly impossible to release captive-bred animals into the wild. A 1994 report by the World Society for the Protection of Animals showed that only 1,200 zoos out of 10,000 worldwide are registered for captive breeding and wildlife conservation. Only two percent of the world's threatened or endangered species are registered in breeding programs. Those that are endangered may have their plight made worse by zoos' focus on crowd appeal. In his book The Last Panda, George Schaller, the scientific director of the Bronx Zoo, says zoos are actually contributing to the near-extinction of giant pandas by constantly shuttling the animals from one zoo to another for display. In-breeding is also a problem among captive populations.
Zoo babies are great crowd-pleasers, but what happens when babies grow up? Zoos often sell or kill animals who no longer attract visitors. Deer, tigers, lions and other animals who breed often are sometimes sold to "game" farms where hunters pay for the "privilege" of killing them; some are killed for their meat and/or hides. Other "surplus" animals may be sold to smaller, more poorly run zoos or to laboratories for experiments.
Ultimately, we will only save endangered species if we save their habitats and combat the reasons people kill them. Instead of supporting zoos, we should support groups like the International Primate Protection League, The Born Free Foundation, the African Wildlife Foundation and other groups that work to preserve habitats, not habits. We should help non-profit sanctuaries, like Primarily Primates and the Performing Animal Welfare Society, that rescue and care for exotic animals, but don't sell or breed them.
Zoos truly interested in raising awareness of wildlife and conservation should create high-tech zoos with no animals. Visitors could observe animals in the wild via live satellite links with far off places like the Amazon rain forest, the Great Barrier reef and Africa.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
It is best not to patronize a zoo unless you are actively working to change its conditions. Avoid smaller, roadside zoos at all costs. If no one visits these substandard operations, they will be forced to close down. Zoos are covered under the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA), which sets minimal housing and maintenance standards for captive animals. The AWA requires that all animal displays be licensed with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which must inspect zoos once a year. However, some zoos that have passed USDA inspections with flying colors have later been found by humane groups to have numerous violations. Start a "Zoocheck" program to build a strong case for implementing changes.
Residents living in towns and cities can play a major role in ensuring insect pollinators survive and thrive around them.
With global bee and butterfly populations in decline, the nature of cities is shifting so that they often contain more diverse and abundant populations of native bees than nearby rural landscapes. However, urban conservation programs are largely lagging behind, in that they continue to invest in education and outreach rather than programs designed to achieve high-priority species conservation.
New research into urban ecology is changing how we view the biological value and ecological importance of cities globally. But in order to ensure this has a recognizable effect on issues such as global food security and ecosystem service provision, policies now need to be better aligned with this newly unfolding image of urban landscapes.
Urban gardens are increasingly being recognized for their potential to maintain or even enhance biodiversity. And by growing a variety of plants from around the world, gardeners can play an important role in ensuring that a range of food sources is available for many different pollinators. This international collaboration demonstrates those theories can also be applied globally, to the potential benefits of people and communities across the world.
Urban habitats have traditionally been rather neglected by ecologists and conservationists who are interested in pollinators. However, recent research globally has demonstrated that towns and cities can support large, diverse communities of bees and other insects that play an important role in pollinating urban food crops, particularly in gardens and allotments. It's important that we raise the profile of these insects to influence planning policies, ensuring that building and infrastructure development, as well as conservation strategies, takes this into account.
The diversity of people living in cities creates a diversity of aesthetic landscaping preferences, which in turn leads to a diversity of flowering plants which supports diverse populations of bees. And because native bees can live their entire lives in relatively small spaces when food sources are present, insect pollinators put high-priority and high-impact urban conservation within reach, and small actions can yield large benefits for pollinator conservation.
Recent research is also showing that improving the wild pollinator populations in urban areas improves species diversity and abundance in nearby agricultural lands. So intensifying conservation efforts for urban insect pollinators constitutes an opportunity for meaningful urban conservation, moving beyond traditional education and recreation programming towards a series of cascading benefits throughout rural and urban landscapes.
Because the world’s food security depends upon bees and other pollinators, attending to populations of urban pollinators is important. The global pollinator crisis is one environmental problem that an individual urban resident can do something about. There is no need to get a bee hive which can increase competition for resources with native bees. Simply plant more diverse flowers of different sizes, let valuable 'weeds' grow an extra week or two before mowing them from your lawn, leave some bare unmulched ground for solitary ground nesters, learn to appreciate the aesthetic of yards of others who plant for bees, and then watch the urban pollinators flourish.
Each year, people are amazed to see ducks and ducklings in the most unlikely places, such as walking single-file through city streets or nesting under bank teller windows! Luckily, ducklings are precocious and mature quickly. Here are some common sense solutions to typical problems encountered in suburban and urban settings.
DUCKS NESTING IN BAD PLACES
Ducks commonly nest in poor spots, such as under bank-teller windows or the middle of busy ball fields. These nests may fall prey to cats, dogs or human malice. However, moving the eggs and nest is not only illegal according to federal law, but also the parents usually won't follow it. Instead, put up educational signs and perhaps try to fence off the nest temporarily. There isn't much else you can do. Some people have tried moving the nest, a few feet at a time, into a better area. This may work if the relocation site is nearby and you move the nest a bit by bit. However, the mother may stay on the nest making relocation impossible. It's usually best to leave the nest alone and hope for the best.
DUCKLINGS SEPARATED FROM THEIR MOTHERS
If the mother was seen recently, wait it out for an hour and see if she comes back. If the ducklings are beginning to scatter, or you're not sure how long they've been alone, put a plastic laundry basket over them, upside down, to contain them while waiting for the mother to return. She will see them through the lattice sides of the basket and make contact. If she returns, slowly approach and overturn the basket so she can collect her young.
DUCKS IN YOUR POOL
The best solution is to leave them alone, as long as the ducklings are able to get out of the pool. The mother will move her young when they are older and less vulnerable. If you must evict them, go to your local party store and buy silver mylar balloons with heavy weights on the bottom. Put the balloons around the perimeter of the entire pool, about every 20 feet. The balloons will bob in the breeze and make the ducks nervous. To enhance the harassment effect, you can also float a beach ball in the pool or use an electric boat.
DUCKLINGS STUCK IN POOLS
Most ducklings get stuck in pools because the water level is too low. The solution is to either raise the water level (simplest approach), fish them out with a net, or create a ramp angled <45 degrees, with a wet towel attached to it for traction.
If you know where the duckling came from, then it's best to take the duckling to that pond for release. The duckling will soon rejoin his family. Sometimes other ducks will even foster-parent the young duckling. If the duckling was left behind for a while and his origin is unknown i.e. fished out of storm drain or spillway, you can contain the duckling with an upside-down laundry basket (as described above) and monitor to see if the mother returns. If she doesn't come back after 4-8 hours, call your local fish and game agency to locate a wildlife rehabilitator. These are tough judgment calls. If you need to hold the duckling(s) in captivity for a few hours, DO NOT give them water to swim in because ducklings are not waterproof until they're older. They may become chilled and die. Just give them a shallow pan of water (to drink) and some crushed, non-sugary cereal like Cheerios.
REMOVING DUCKS FROM AN AREA
You can shepherd ducks by creating a "moving wall," i.e. have people hold sheets between them and move behind the ducks, forcing them to walk in the desired direction. However, consider waiting to move them out because the young may be vulnerable. Sometimes you may need to temporarily feed them greens like kale, spinach and poultry starter food (available from an animal feed store,) and set up a shallow kiddy pool with ramps until the ducklings can fly. Particularly in cities, early eviction can mean certain death.
MOVING A DUCK FAMILY FOR THEIR SAFETY
The only way to catch adult ducks is to do so at night (they don't see well in darkness), by creeping up on them while they sleep, then gently covering them with a lightweight blanket or towel and scooping them into a carrier. Catch the ducklings next with a net or sheet, but try to minimize stress as they will be scared and may scatter. Be sure the net doesn't have large holes in which they may escape or become entangled. Consult your state fish and game agency prior to any intervention for any special authorization you might need.
GETTING DUCKLINGS OUT OF SEWER GRATES
These are tricky situations. Often you'll have to contact your town's Public Works Department for assistance with removing the grate. The police can be a valuable resource in terms of helping you contact the correct town employee. You'll need a fishing net or a fabric "hammock" stretched between two golf clubs to catch the ducklings below the grate. You may have to be creative in terms of capture strategies, depending on the logistics of where they're stuck. Once you catch them, make sure they are dry (or use a hair dryer) before setting them back outside for the mother to retrieve. Put an upside-down laundry basket over them until the mother comes (so they don't scatter), and then slowly lift it when she reappears. If she doesn't come back by nightfall, contact your local wildlife rehabilitator.
Tread Lightly! was started by the United States Forest Service in 1985 as a public awareness program. In 1990, Tread Lightly! became a nonprofit organization. The Tread Lightly philosophy encourages off-highway enthusiasts to enjoy the outdoors responsibly through stewardship to further the goals of responsible and ethical recreation.
Travel on trails or other legal areas.
Keep your feet and wheels on open roads, trails or in legal riding areas.
When you step off trail, watch your step and don’t trample plants.
Remember riding up and down stream beds can damage soils, plants and animals in the water.
Use maps and signs to help you stay on the trail.
Walk or ride slowly through puddles and mud on the trail—not around.
When you are on a bike or an ATV, if you can’t go over an object turn back. Report the trail obstacle to the ranger.
Keep control of your bike, dirt bikes or ATV.
RESPECT NATURE & WILDLIFE
Don’t chase, scare, feed or try to pet animals.
Don’t carve on tree bark or draw graffiti on trees and rocks.
Watch out for other people on the trails.
Keep the noise down, especially in camp.
Don’t shine your flashlight into other camps.
Don’t ride or run through other camps.
Always tell someone else where you are going, who you are with and when you will be back.
Remember to pack the seven important items: water, food, first aid kit, raincoat or poncho, flashlight, sunscreen and a whistle.
When trail riding or hiking, don’t leave the trail—you are less likely to get lost and much easier to find. If you think you are lost, stay where you are and blow your whistle.
Don’t wander off at night.
Bring a map, check the weather, and find out about wildlife to be aware of in your area.
Bring the proper clothes including good shoes and a jacket—wear a helmet and other protective gear when you ride.
LEAVE THE OUTDOORS BETTER THAN YOU FOUND IT
Don’t litter or leave food or trash behind.
Pick up trash left by others—as long as it is safe.
Wash your bike or ATV and other gear after every ride so you won’t spread weed seeds.
Leave plants or flowers for others to see.
Lend a hand, plant trees and other plants with your local ranger.
If you need a new light bulb, you have a hard decision to make. There are several kinds of light bulbs to choose from. What are they? Does it make a difference?
Lights use a lot of electricity, so it's important to use the most efficient ones. Efficient bulbs use less electricity to make light. Using less electricity in turn creates less pollution and saves you money. It's better for everyone.
So what are the different kinds of light bulbs? The most common light bulbs you can find at the store are incandescent, compact fluorescent (CFL), light emitting diodes (LED), fluorescent, and halogen. It can feel overwhelming. Let's look at each one individually.
If you think about a regular light bulb, you're most likely picturing an incandescent bulb. They have the classic tear-drop shape. You can see the little piece of metal inside the glass that creates the light. This is an old design. These bulbs make a lot of heat when they're turned on. That heat is wasted electricity. For that reason, incandescent bulbs aren't very energy efficient.
Compact fluorescent bulbs are a newer design. They sometimes are shaped like a coil. These are very energy efficient. They don't create as much heat as incandescent bulbs do. They also last much longer. But CFL bulbs have mercury in them. This is a dangerous element, so CFL bulbs need to be treated with care. You can't throw them in the trash like other bulbs. They need to be recycled. You can take unbroken bulbs to special recycling centers.
Fluorescent lights are the bigger version of CFLs. These are the lights that lots of office buildings and businesses use. They create a lot of light for big areas. Just like CFLs they have mercury in them. They need to be treated with care.
Light emitting diodes are another newer design for lighting. They create a lot of light with very little electricity. They're very energy efficient. And they last a very long time - even longer than a CFL. And unlike CFLs, they don't have mercury. That means they're better for the environment. They don't need to be specially recycled. The only problem is that LEDs are much more expensive than other bulbs. But many people would say they are worth it.
Some light sockets use halogen bulbs. These work about the same way as incandescent bulbs. They create a lot of heat, but are a little more efficient than incandescent lights. They last for about one year, and they don't contain mercury. These bulbs are usually used for recessed lights like ones set into the ceiling in homes.
Most people don't realize how much food they throw away every day — from uneaten leftovers to spoiled produce. About 95 percent of the food we throw away ends up in landfills or combustion facilities - more than 35 million tons of food waste each year. Once in landfills, food breaks down to produce methane, a potent greenhouse gas which contributes to climate change.
Benefits of Reducing Wasted Food
- Saves money from buying less food.
- Reduces methane emissions from landfills and lowers your carbon footprint.
- Conserves energy and resources, preventing pollution involved in the growing, manufacturing, transporting, and selling food (not to mention hauling the food waste and then landfilling it).
- Supports your community by providing donated untouched food that would have otherwise gone to waste to those who might not have a steady food supply.
Ways to Reduce Wasted Food
Planning, prepping, and storing food can help your household waste less food. Below are some tips to help you do just that:
- By simply making a list with weekly meals in mind, you can save money and time and eat healthier food. If you buy no more than what you expect to use, you will be more likely to keep it fresh and use it all.
- Keep a running list of meals and their ingredients that your household already enjoys. That way, you can easily choose, shop for and prepare meals.
- Make your shopping list based on how many meals you’ll eat at home. Will you eat out this week? How often?
- Plan your meals for the week before you go shopping and buy only the things needed for those meals.
- Include quantities on your shopping list noting how many meals you’ll make with each item to avoid overbuying. For example: salad greens - enough for two lunches.
- Look in your refrigerator and cupboards first to avoid buying food you already have, make a list each week of what needs to be used up and plan upcoming meals around it.
- Buy only what you need and will use. Buying in bulk only saves money if you are able to use the food before it spoils.
- It is easy to overbuy or forget about fresh fruits and vegetables. Store fruits and vegetables for maximum freshness; they’ll taste better and last longer, helping you to eat more of them.
- Freeze, preserve, or can surplus fruits and vegetables - especially abundant seasonal produce.
- Many fruits give off natural gases as they ripen, making other nearby produce spoil faster. Store bananas, apples, and tomatoes by themselves, and store fruits and vegetables in different bins.
- Wait to wash berries until you want to eat them to prevent mold.
- If you like to eat fruit at room temperature, store in the refrigerator for maximum freshness then take what you’ll eat for the day out of the refrigerator in the morning.
- Prepare perishable foods soon after shopping. It will be easier to whip up meals or snacks later in the week, saving time, effort, and money.
- When you get home from the store, take the time to wash, dry, chop, dice, slice, and place your fresh food items in clear storage containers for snacks and easy cooking.
- Befriend your freezer and visit it often. For example, freeze food such as bread, sliced fruit, or meat that you know you won’t be able to eat in time. Cut your time in the kitchen by preparing and freezing meals ahead of time.
- Prepare and cook perishable items, then freeze them for use throughout the month.
- Be mindful of old ingredients and leftovers you need to use up. You’ll waste less and may even find a new favorite dish.
- Shop in your refrigerator first! Cook or eat what you already have at home before buying more.
- Have produce that’s past its prime? It may still be fine for cooking. Think soups, casseroles, stir fries, sauces, baked goods, pancakes or smoothies.
- If safe and healthy, use the edible parts of food that you normally do not eat. For example, stale bread can be used to make croutons, beet tops can be sautèed for a delicious side dish, and vegetable scraps can be made into stock.
- Learn the difference between “sell-by,” “use-by,” “best-by,” and expiration dates.
- Are you likely to have leftovers from any of your meals? Plan an “eat the leftovers” night each week. Casseroles, stir-fries, frittatas, soups, and smoothies are great ways to use leftovers too. Search for websites that provide suggestions for using leftover ingredients.
- At restaurants, order only what you can finish by asking about portion sizes and be aware of side dishes included with entrees. Take home the leftovers and keep them to make your next meal.
- At all-you-can-eat buffets, take only what you can eat.
If You Can't Reduce Wasted Food, Divert It From Landfills
- Nutritious, safe, and untouched food can be donated to food banks to help those in need.
- Compost food scraps rather than throwing them away.
In the last decades, the disease Lyme borreliosis that is spread by ticks has been increasing – but this increase cannot be explained by the increasing deer populations. Results from research projects show that the percentage of ticks with Borrelia is decreasing in areas with a high deer population (deer, red deer and moose). However, the total number of ticks is higher.
Evidence points to a warmer climate contributing to tick-borne diseases. The change in the use of the landscape, resulting in more encroachment, is also a contributing factor.
Since 1991 Norway has registered all incidents with borreliosis in a so-called MSIS-statistics for reportable diseases. At the same time data on the wild deer population over all of Norway has been recorded. As a result, Norway has a unique set of data material for comparing the relation between the disease progression over time.
What the data shows is that borreliosis has increased more than the density of deer would suggest. The incidence of borreliosis has increased in the southern part of Norway in a period of time where both the deer population and the moose population have decreased. We cannot blame the deer for getting more of these blood-sucking parasites.
The cycle of the Borrelia bacterium in nature is both complex and is influenced by many different drivers, where the hosts of the ticks in an early life stage can influence the cycle. There is also little doubt that a warmer climate is a contributing factor for the tick-borne diseases. The change in the use of the landscape, resulting in more encroachment, has also been an advantage for the ticks.
Ticks have a life cycle that is threefold; larva, nymph, and adult ticks. They need a blood meal in each of the life stages, but they may have different hosts at different stages. In the first stage it is rodents and birds that become victims of these parasites. In the second stage they usually suck blood from slightly larger animals. It is in the last stage that the tick is an adult and needs blood for reproduction. Then the host is usually a large animal like deer. Deer are therefore frequently referred to as reproductive hosts, and were thought to be important for the population dynamics of the ticks.
Ticks are born pure. That is why the hosts in the first life stage of the tick determine whether it will be a carrier of infection or not. Ticks can therefore only be infected in the second and third stage. In the third stage, they are quite large, and we often feel them crawling on the skin. Therefore nymphs are more often inflicting infection, because we do not notice their bite.
Deer contribute to keeping the ticks clean since they are not carriers of the Borrelia-bacteria. Therefore ticks that have used deer as a host do not contain Borrelia that can infect us.
Shooting deer and moose will not eradicate ticks. The population density will not limit the amount of ticks strongly. It is time to stop blaming the deer.