November 27, 2011

Emily’s crusade against plastics

So, Polly’s post about the Chris Jordan and the Midway Atoll in the Pacific Ocean makes me want to never use anything plastic ever again.

I feel really inspired by a fellow student’s crusade against plastics.  Seventeen-year-old Emily Chartrand from British Columbia, Canada is working with Team Jordan on their Midway project as a student outreach ambassador.  She’s the president of Plastic Free Penticton Secondary School (amazing!) and a founding member of Plastic Free Penticton. She and her sister have operated their own successful small business for eight years, and the proceeds from their operation have helped fund working holidays to Mexico — where they worked with the families who live off the Puerto Vallarta garbage dump.

She’s available to speak to schools and organizations, and she has a blog.  I like what she says here a lot:

I know that being this actively involved in a cause while so young will not be easy. I have already faced many hard times that made me consider stopping everything I do but I now better understand that this is way too important to me and the world. I’m in this forever. I promise you all that! So as I go continue on my journey please keep checking back on my blog. I’m going to have some very interesting stories about travelling elsewhere to speak about plastic pollution!

You can keep up with Plastic Free Penticton on Facebook.  So do it!

November 9, 2011

Protect what you love

People who surf and raft and mountain bike are maybe sort of adrenaline junkies? But a lot of outdoor sports enthusiasts get intense about environmental activism, too. It makes total sense to me to try and respect and care for the outdoor terrain you love the most.

Surfrider protects oceans and beaches.  Protect Our Winters (with the awesome acronym, POW) raises awareness about the effect of climate change on high-altitude regions like mountains.

The Access Fund keeps all kinds of outdoor climbing areas open and conserves climbing environments.  The International Mountain Biking Association creates and preserves trails, and encourages low-impact riding, volunteering, and thinking of new trail management solutions.  And American Whitewater advocates for the preservation and protection of rivers in the US.

Chances are if you have a hobby or an activity you’re really into, there’s a way to get involved with an organization that can connect you to other people and do good for the environment.

So go hang ten and drink some X-treme beverages!   (That link really makes me laugh.)


October 21, 2011

How to Be a Climate Hero

I like this article from Orion Magazine a lot.  It’s by a woman named Audrey Schulman who tries to make us snap out of it and take action on the environment. And how an incident on board a train with a little boy and his epileptic mom actually illustrates the point perfectly.

Uhhhhhhhhhh... somebody do something!!!

She thinks people don’t do anything because of a phenomenon called the Bystander Effect, which means people are passive because everyone else is too. She says,

We bustle about our normal lives, assuming it can’t be as bad as it seems because surely, then, everyone would be marching in the street about it.

She talks about realizing how urgent it is to protect the Earth after her first child was born.  And she says she’s cut her family’s carbon emissions by 50%.

Even though it took her becoming a mom to do it, she woke up and did her part.  Good job, Audrey.

October 12, 2011

Amazing young people win The Barron Prize 2011


The Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes is a national award that acknowledges the contributions of people 18 and under to make a better world.  The winners get some $ and also more publicity for their projects – they totally deserve it!  This year, 11 prizes were given out and the projects that these teenagers, tweens, and younger kids have created are awe-inspiring.  Some of the projects are environmental, some raise funds for different communities.  I’ll stick to the environmental ones and if you wanna learn more about all of them, just check out the Barron Prize website.

Those Girl Scouts I told you about before, Rhiannon and Madi, won for the campaign they started to get Girl Scouts to stop using palm oil in their cookies.  Speaking of which — around the time the Barron Prizes were announced, the GSUSA (the leadership of the Girl Scouts) promised to try to eliminate palm oil from all Girl Scout cookies by 2015.  Can you believe it?  They did it!  GSUSA said they’re also going to do things in the meantime to make up for using of palm oil, like buying Green Palm certificates, which reward palm oil plantations that do things right (i.e. not destroying orangutan habitats, duh) so the suppliers will do things right and not ruin rainforests.  Congrats you guys!  Eye of the tiger, or, um, orangutan!

The other environmental projects that got the Barron Prize this year: Rujul from New Jersey (age 16) raises money to build wells in India so villagers can have clean fresh water.  Jonny from Illinois (age 15) designed and developed a new kind of windshield for school buses that makes them more aerodynamic and fuel-efficient.   Eric and Christina from Colorado (ages 11 and 13) developed an education project to teach people about the dangers of the harmful gas radon.  Olivia from New York (age 11) drew bird pictures to raise money for the Audubon Society and other groups working on saving wildlife after the BP oil spill in the Gulf Coast. 

Pretty impressive, huh?  And this is what they’re doing in their spare time after their homework is finished.  It makes me wonder how people can watch TV at all.  I mean, I know that’s preachy, but srsly…  I really love FRINGE but at least I’m trying to do something with Earth Ambassadors.  Even if one out of every 20 people were doing something amazing, the world would be so different.

September 21, 2011

Living by the Girl Scout Law

When Rhiannon Tomtishen (left) and Madison “Madi” Vorva (right) became Girl Scouts, they learned that part of Girl Scout Law is doing your best to make the world a better place.  They took it seriously.  So seriously they’ve been engaged in a four-year campaign to get Girl Scouts’ famous cookies to stop using palm oil as an ingredient.

Rhiannon and Madi found out about the palm oil in Girl Scout cookies after studying orangutans as part of a project to earn their Girl Scout Bronze Award.  They found out palm oil plantations are built by destroying rainforests where orangutans live. So they started a crusade to and partnered with and Rainforest Action Network to spread the word.

Girl Scouts of the USA really messed up at first.  They wouldn’t reply and even erased comments about palm oil from their Facebook page, so then of course all these news organizations found out and did articles about the censorship.

But Rhiannon’s and Madi’s hard work finally paid off this spring, when Rhiannon and Madison met with leaders at Girl Scouts HQ in May of 2011 – and Girl Scouts vowed to look into more responsible sourcing for its palm oil.  (Girl Scouts also got a new CEO.  Coincidence?  I think not…)

Tons of companies use palm oil. 1 out of every 10 products in a supermarket contain it. It’s a huge problem. You can sign Rhiannon’s and Madi’s petition or ask another company to do the right thing and stop using palm oil.  I did.  These girls are so awesome.  I feel like we’re friends.

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    "The Next Forever" is a song from The Great Immensity. The footage was taken on Barro Colorado Island in the Panama Canal by videographer David Ford. Music and lyrics by Michael Friedman.
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