Environment

Compost your Kitchen Scraps

Save your uncooked food scraps and turn them into super-effective plant food. Reduce your garbage load… why toss all that good stuff that is nutritious for the earth into a plastic bag that ends up in a landfill?  Biodegradable garbage is still just trash if it’s busy biodegrading inside a plastic bag, stuffed between a styrofoam cup and a ball of aluminum foil.

If you don’t have a garden in your yard, find a local community garden and donate your compost.  They’ll love you for it (and maybe even slide you some tomatoes when they’re ripe.)

Here’s our video that outlines the composting process, followed by written step-by-step instructions. Host Elizabeth Fiend tells you what you can and can’t recycle in your compost pile and how to start one.

Composting —Nature’s Way of Recycling
A How-To written by ELIZABETH FIEND

We need to reduce the amount of garbage we create. Most household garbage is burned, which creates air pollution, or dumped into landfills which produce toxic gases. Obviously neither way is good for the environment. By composting leaves, grass clippings, and kitchen scraps you can greatly reduce the amount of trash your household makes.

Composting is a natural form of recycling where plant matter is turned into a soil-like material that’s full of nutrients and very beneficial to your backyard soil and garden plants. Insects, earthworms, bacteria and fungi help out in the process. But it’s up to you to get it started!

Starting a Compost Pile:

INSIDE:
1.) Begin in the kitchen by saving uncooked food scraps like carrot tops, lettuce cores and banana peels. Coffee grinds, tea bags and egg shells can also be saved. NO cooked food, meat or dairy products should be added to the compost pile.
2.) Store the scraps in a lidded container or small bucket you keep in easy reach of the cutting board.

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This US summer is ‘what global warming looks like’

Source: Associated Press  

Written By: SETH BORENSTEIN  

Posted By: Elizabeth Fiend

WASHINGTON (AP) – If you want a glimpse of some of the worst of global warming, scientists suggest taking a look at U.S. weather in recent weeks.

Horrendous wildfires. Oppressive heat waves. Devastating droughts. Flooding from giant deluges. And a powerful freak wind storm called a derecho.

These are the kinds of extremes climate scientists have predicted will come with climate change, although it’s far too early to say that is the cause. Nor will they say global warming is the reason 3,215 daily high temperature records were set in the month of June.

Scientifically linking individual weather events to climate change takes intensive study, complicated mathematics, computer models and lots of time. Sometimes it isn’t caused by global warming. Weather is always variable; freak things happen.

And this weather has been local. Europe, Asia and Africa aren’t having similar disasters now, although they’ve had their own extreme events in recent years.

But since at least 1988, climate scientists have warned that climate change would bring, in general, increased heat waves, more droughts, more sudden downpours, more widespread wildfires and worsening storms. In the United States, those extremes are happening here and now.

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Battle Brewing Over Labeling of Genetically Modified Food

Source: New York Times Written By: AMY HARMON and ANDREW POLLACK Posted By: Elizabeth Fiend

GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — On a recent sunny morning at the Big Y grocery here, Cynthia LaPier parked her cart in the cereal aisle. With a glance over her shoulder and a quick check of the ingredients, she plastered several boxes with hand-designed stickers from a roll in her purse. “Warning,” they read. “May Contain GMO’s (Genetically Modified Organisms).”
Multimedia

In San Francisco, a gathering of supporters of a California ballot proposition requiring genetically modified foods to be labeled.

For more than a decade, almost all processed foods in the United States — cereals, snack foods, salad dressings — have contained ingredients from plants whose DNA was manipulated in a laboratory. Regulators and many scientists say these pose no danger. But as Americans ask more pointed questions about what they are eating, popular suspicions about the health and environmental effects of biotechnology are fueling a movement to require that food from genetically modified crops be labeled, if not eliminated.

Labeling bills have been proposed in more than a dozen states over the last year, and an appeal to the Food and Drug Administration last fall to mandate labels nationally drew more than a million signatures. There is an

The most closely watched labeling effort is a proposed ballot initiative in California that cleared a crucial hurdle this month, setting the stage for a probable November vote that could influence not just food packaging but the future of American agriculture.

Tens of millions of dollars are expected to be spent on the election showdown. It pits consumer groups and the organic food industry, both of which support mandatory labeling, against more conventional farmers, agricultural biotechnology companies like Monsanto and many of the nation’s best-known food brands like Kellogg’s and Kraft.

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Walmart steers its campaign cash to politicians who are far from green.

Source: Grist    Written by: by Stacy Mitchell     Posted by: Elizabeth Fiend

Over the last decade, Walmart has emerged as one of the country’s largest funders of political campaigns. Its dollars skew heavily in favor of candidates who routinely vote against the environment.

Walmart’s largest donations have gone to some of the nation’s most powerful climate-change deniers. Since 2005, Walmart’s PAC has given $25,000 to House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio (“the idea that carbon dioxide is a carcinogen that is harmful to our environment is almost comical”); $30,000 to Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo. (“there isn’t any real science to say we are altering the climate path of the earth”); and $29,500 to Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark. (“you can look back at some of the previous times when there was no industrialization, you had these different ages, ice ages, and things warming”).

In 2006, Walmart made headlines when its vice president for corporate strategy and sustainability, Andrew Ruben, told a congressional committee that the company “would accept a well-designed mandatory cap-and-trade system for greenhouse gases.” Other major U.S. companies had spoken favorably of cap-and-trade, but Walmart made a bigger splash. Not only was it America’s second-largest corporation; it also had deep roots in the country’s coal-burning heartland.

But even as Ruben was delivering his testimony, Walmart’s political action committee (PAC) was funneling a river of campaign cash into the coffers of lawmakers who would ensure that the U.S. did absolutely nothing to curb its greenhouse gas emissions. During the 2007-2008 election cycle, 80 percent of Senate campaign contributions that came from Walmart’s PAC and large donors employed by the company went to senators who helped block the Lieberman-Warner cap-and-trade bill, according to data on political giving published by the Center for Responsive Politics. (When the bill arrived on the floor in 2008, it came up 12 votes shy of the 60 needed to overcome a filibuster.)

Over the last decade, Walmart has emerged as one of the country’s largest funders of political campaigns. Its dollars skew heavily in favor of candidates who routinely vote against the environment. Since the company launched its sustainability campaign in 2005, 40 percent of the $3.9 million it has given to members of Congress went to those who have lifetime scores of 20 or less on the League of Conservation Voters’ National Environmental Scorecard — meaning they vote against the environment 80-100 percent of the time. Another 19 percent went to those who vote against the environment 50-79 percent of the time.

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EVERYONE’S A FILM MAKER THESE DAYS. HERE ARE SOME GREEN FILM MAKING TIPS

Source: The Greater Philadelphia Film Office

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Posted by: Elizabeth Fiend

THE PRODUCTION OFFICE
•    Look for office products with GREEN SEAL CERTIFICATION
•    PRINT DOUBLE SIDED whenever possible
•    COMMUNICATE VIA EMAIL instead of printed memos

THE GREEN ROOM
•    USE TAP WATER: Filtered and disinfected by state and EPA
•    RENT A WATER COOLER
•    BUY WASHABLE silverware
•    STOCK REUSABLE containers
•    BUY ORGANIC OR LOCAL fruits and vegetables
•    Shop at Local Supermarket
•    AVOID using all Styrofoam

SET CONSTRUCTION
•    RE USE Set Walls as much as possible!
•    USE SCREWS instead of staples
•    Recharge power tools when FULLY DRAINED
•    RE USE CUTOFFS for smaller construction
•    DESIGNATE waste cans for small scraps and saw dust only
•    USE low VOC caulk

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SEED SAVING : Preserving Diversity For the Future

Article by: ELIZABETH FIEND

Genetic diversity is the biological basis of world food security

This Lacinato kale plant was such a super achiever, I made sure to save it’s seeds and share with friends.

In just one generation we’re on the verge of losing the agricultural diversity it took humankind 10,000 years to create. The UN estimates that in the past 100 years 75% of the genetic diversity of crops has been lost. Diverse and localized ecosystems have been replaced with mono-crop farms which grow a few super-hybrid varieties. To make it worse, seeds and plants are now patented by giant companies who then own exclusive ‘rights’ to these plants. Since the world now depends on such a narrow base for food, it’s vital that we preserve wild and semi-domesticated edible plants as well as ‘heirloom plants.’ Heirloom plants are cultivated plants that predate the current seed production system.

Seed saving is a ritual as old as civilization. To save peas and beans: pick the pods after they’ve dried on the vine; flowers: pick the flowers when fully mature, but before the seeds drop; greens: collect the seeds after the plant has flowered; fruits and vegetables: scrape out the seeds and dry them, or simply place the produce on the ground where you want it to grow – let it decompose over the winter and in the spring help it along by burying whatever is left – a new plant will grow!

Dryness is the most important factor in storing seeds. Air dry thoroughly then store in a cool, dark, dry place until ready to plant. Most seeds will be viable for several years if stored properly. Package up any leftovers in envelopes to share with friends. If you have even more seeds, ‘Guerrilla Garden’ by throwing the seeds in empty lots right before it rains. (more…)

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HaPPY EaRTH DaY!
Love, BiG TeA PaRtY Sustainable Living
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Don’t Trash Yr Tree, Recycle It!

Christmas Tree Recycling

Know where to recycle trees in your hood? Post the info in comments.

In my hood: More than 20 local civic and nonprofit organizations are working together to recycle trees this holiday season. For the third year in a row, the City of Philadelphia will not be collecting holiday trees for recycling.  As a result, any trees left at the curb will go into landfills or incinerators, causing air and water pollution and contributing to global warming.

Instead, with sponsorship by Bartlett Tree Experts and Schectman Tree Care, these volunteer groups are working to have trees chipped and reused to beautify local dog runs, community gardens and parks.

$5 suggested donation. Please remove all decorations.

Location: Columbus Square Park at 13th and Reed streets

Time: 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Date: January 8th from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Early Drop-Off: At northeast corner of 13th and Reed, donation can be dropped off at 1415 S. 13th St (private residence).

More info click here.

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Monsanto’s Fortunes Turn Sour, YEAH!

Source: New York Times Written By: ANDREW POLLACK     Posted By: Elizabeth Fiend

As recently as late December, Monsanto was named “company of the year” by Forbes magazine. Last week, the company earned a different accolade from Jim Cramer, the television stock market commentator. “This may be the worst stock of 2010,” he proclaimed.

Monsanto, the giant of agricultural biotechnology, has been buffeted by setbacks this year that have prompted analysts to question whether its winning streak from creating ever more expensive genetically engineered crops is coming to an end.

The company’s stock, which rose steadily over several years to peak at around $145 a share in mid-2008, closed Monday at $47.77, having fallen about 42 percent since the beginning of the year. Its earnings for the fiscal year that ended in August, which will be announced Wednesday, are expected to be well below projections made at the beginning of the year, and the company has abandoned its profit goal for 2012 as well.

The latest blow came last week, when early returns from this year’s harvest showed that Monsanto’s newest product, SmartStax corn, which contains an unprecedented eight inserted genes, was providing yields no higher than the company’s less expensive corn that contains only three foreign genes.

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Earth Needs ‘Bailout Plan’ For Species Loss

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Posted By: Elizabeth Fiend Source: BreitBart.com

Facing what many scientists say is the sixth mass extinction in half-a-billion years, our planet urgently needs a “bailout plan” to protect its biodiversity, a top conservation group said Thursday.

Failure to stem the loss of animal and plant species will have dire consequences on human well-being, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) warned.

“The gap between the pressure on our natural resources and governments’ response to the deterioration is widening,” said Bill Jackson, the group’s deputy director, calling for a 10-year strategy to reverse current trends.

“By ignoring the urgent need for action we stand to pay a much higher price in the long term than the world can afford,” he said in a statement.

A fifth of mammals, 30 percent of amphibians, 12 percent of known birds, and more than a quarter of reef-building corals — the livelihood cornerstone for 500 million people in coastal areas — face extinction, according to the IUCN’s benchmark Red List of Threatened Species.

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