|TeachingGreen Launches New Program for Kids
Growing Up Green
The Early Years: Grades K - 5Attention teachers!
Do you teach K - 5th grade in the Los Angeles area? Do you believe in the importance of teaching our kids how to protect the Earth that they will inherit and pass down to their kids? TeachingGreen is pleased to announce a new program just for you - or more accurately, for your students.
Using the popular character Flat Stanley and his friend Flat Sue,
our Growing Up Green: The Early Years
program focuses on that cardinal rule of sustainability: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Through the experiences of Flat Stanley and Flat Sue, children are encouraged to think about the impact that their day-to-day lives have on the environment and are empowered with simple steps that they can take to reduce this impact. The result is engaging environmental education to help our children become thoughtful, responsible consumers.
In honor of Earth Day, we are waiving all fees throughout the month of April. For more information, and to schedule a classroom presentation for your students, visit us at www.teachinggreen.org.
Children WANT to protect the environment - it's up to us to teach them how.
|Our Two Cents
Mother Nature is Calling...Will We Answer?
The Case for Conservation
I'm not one to personify our planet, but I'm starting to wonder whether Mother Earth might be trying to send humanity a message.
Of course, there have always been natural disasters, oil spills, coal mine explosions, and even an occasional nuclear disaster. But events of the past two years should give us pause. The year 2009 saw the worst oil spill in U.S. history and the worst U.S. coal-mining disaster in 40 years. Together, these two calamities took the lives of 40 humans and countless marine organisms. Now Japan is dealing with the aftermath of the costliest natural disaster in history, and the continued threat of a nuclear meltdown.
The problem? Our western way of life is built on "cheap"
energy, and our quest for and use of this "cheap" energy is getting us into heaps of trouble. It's not really cheap, of course, when you consider the externalized costs: ecosystems and communities poisoned with oil and sludge, people and wildlife exposed to unsafe and in some cases lethal levels of radiation, people killed in their homes by exploding gas lines, and perhaps most troubling, a climate increasingly showing signs of being out of whack with no turning back.
The road to a society powered by clean, renewable energy sources - wind, solar, geothermal, biofuels, and others - is going to be a long and bumpy one. In the meantime, we are going to continue to depend mostly on dirty, nonrenewable energy sources - coal, oil and natural gas - and nuclear. How are we going to get there without destroying the world as we know it along the way? One word: conservation.
Because carbon-based energy sources are so "cheap," energy waste is rampant in the Western world. According to the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, roughly 56 percent of all energy in the U.S. economy is wasted. Much of this is lost in the production of electricity from coal and natural gas, which is just another reason to move away from these energy sources.
Because our lives are so very dependent on this cheap energy - from the lights we use to the cars we drive to the growing and manufacturing of the products we buy - there are dozens if not hundreds of things you can do to use less energy. Here are just a few ways that you, the consumer, can conserve energy every day, two of which may surprise you:
- On the road. If you're in the market for a new car, visit www.fueleconomy.gov to find the most fuel-efficient vehicle that will meet your needs. Even better, go electric: the extended range electric Chevy Volt is available now, and the 100% electric Nissan Leaf will be arriving in dealerships soon. Support the shift from polluting foreign oil to increasingly clean, domestic energy by becoming an early adopter of this exciting new technology.
- At the market. Go easy on the beef. Producing beef is energy-intensive: researchers at Bard College and the University of Chicago found that overall, it takes about 16 times more energy to produce a 320-calorie beef steak than it does to produce a 320-calorie dish of rice and vegetables. Producing beef is also water-intensive: according to the Water Education Foundation, producing one pound of beef requires a whopping 2,463 gallons of water. What does water use have to do with energy? Read on.
- At home. Kill your lawn, install low-flow toilets, take shorter showers. Do whatever you can to conserve water. Why? Have you picked up a gallon of water lately? The stuff isn't exactly lightweight, and moving it around consumes energy. Lots of it. According to the California Energy Commission, obtaining, purifying and pumping water throughout California consumes 19% of the state's electricity, 30% of its natural gas, and 88 billion gallons of diesel fuel every year, for a total of roughly 20% of the state's total energy use. Just one more reason to treat water like a precious natural resource that's in limited supply (which it is, of course).
To be sure, with the global human population approaching 7 billion and growing exponentially, individual actions on the part of consumers won't be enough to avoid destroying Earth's ability to sustain us and the millions of other life forms that live here. We're going to need a new, energy-efficient economy that is based on clean, renewable energy to do that.
The road will be long and bumpy, for sure, but along the way, we must do what we can to smooth the ride by making sure that the energy we do have is put to the very best use possible. Then we can look forward to a time when oil spills, coal-mine explosions and nuclear meltdowns are a thing of the past and hope that Mother Earth continues to provide her inhabitants with relative peace and tranquility.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
REDUCE Food Waste
The Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Act of 1996
According to a 1995 study by the Department of Agriculture, roughly 27% of all food produced in this country never gets eaten. Are Americans really that averse to leftovers? While plenty are, this problem is not as much about tossed leftovers as it is about food thrown out by grocery stores, restaurants and caterers.
The next time you go grocery shopping, pay attention to the state of the produce: do you see bruised apples, wilted heads of lettuce and piles of over-ripe bananas? Do you yourself tend to avoid such produce? Many people do, which is why most produce fitting this description never makes it into a shopping cart.
Less-than perfect produce, day-old bakery goods and other items past their 'best-by' date are constantly being purged by grocery stores. And all those ready-to-eat items? Ever pondered what happens to the prepared sandwiches, salads, soups, and rotisserie chickens at the end of each day?
Judging from a recent study by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that found that 30 million tons of food ends up in landfills every year, it's safe to say that most of it ends up in the garbage. The same thing happens in restaurants and at catered events, of course, which helps to explain how it's possible that one of every four bites of American food never finds its way through a human digestive tract.
It doesn't have to be this way. Perhaps contrary to popular belief, grocery stores, restaurants and caterers in the U.S. can donate unsellable food without fear of legal retribution. A law passed by Congress and signed by the President in 1996 protects restaurants and other food establishments in all 50 states from civil and criminal liability for donations of "apparently wholesome food."
The law, the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Act, was a direct result of a 1995 survey that found that over 80% of U.S. food businesses did not donate excess food, citing liability concerns. For fear of a lawsuit, perfectly good food was being thrown away instead of donated to individuals in need.
Based on statistics from the U.S. EPA, food businesses across the country never got the memo. Despite the law, in 1994, food scraps made up 6.7% of municipal solid waste, while in 2008, that number had increased to 12.7%. These numbers are before recycling, so increased recycling rates cannot explain the increase in food waste.
If you agree that it is unacceptable to waste a quarter of all food - food that took a significant toll on the environment in its making, by the way - then start talking. The next time you go shopping, dine out, or hire a caterer, ask the staff what happens to any food that isn't sold by the end of the day. If it is not being donated, hand over a copy of the Act, along with contact info for your local food bank.
While your local food bank may not be able to pick up the donated food itself, it should be able to connect the food business with a local program that can. The Los Angeles Food Bank works with more than 600 agencies in the LA area, for example. Don't know the name of your local food bank? For an extensive database of food banks across the country, check out www.mamashealth.com.
Food is too precious to waste. Speak up today!
REUSE Clothes and Toys: Maternity, Baby, Kids, and Teens
Kids are unpredictable...the only thing that can be said with any certainty about kids is that they grow up too fast. One minute you're expecting, the next you're ironing a graduation gown. And along the way, an incredible, and sometimes overwhelming amount of stuff comes and goes from your life: toys, clothes and other essentials (and non-essentials) for every stage of Junior's young life.
There are many ways to ensure that this stuff gets reused: it can be handed down to a sibling or friend, donated to charity, Freecycled, or sold at a garage sale. It can also be swapped, which is what peace. love. swap is all about.
Started by a couple of moms in Grass Valley, CA, peace. love. swap is a relatively new organization that hosts swap events where families pay $5 to swap as much of their used stuff as they like. It works on the honor system: bring what you have, take what you need, don't hoard. Whatever is left over is donated to charity.
Having participated in a peace. love. swap event myself, I can wholeheartedly recommend these swap events to anyone with kids. These swaps are fun, stress-reducing, easy on your pocketbook, and great for the environment (the events are community-based, require no packaging and extend the useful life of consumer goods).
To date, most swap events have taken place in California, but they are spreading across the country. If you don't see a peace. love. swap event scheduled in your area, the website invites you to get involved and host events in your community. We at TeachingGreen love this idea so much that we are talking to the folks at peace.love.swap about working together to bring swaps to schools in Los Angeles. Stay tuned for more on that later.
To sign up to host, or to find an event near you, visit www.peaceloveswap.com.
Don't delay. Your little angel will be all grown up before you know it.
While we're on the topic of kids, let's take a look at crayons. The Crayola website proudly boasts "Nearly 3 billion Crayola crayons are produced each year, an average of 12 million a day. That's enough to circle the globe 6 times!" With roughly 360,000 births per day globally, even if every child on Earth was given his or her share of Crayola crayons - a nice fantasy - this would be enough for each child to receive 33 crayons. And we're only talking about Crayola here.
The problem with crayons is that they lack durability. In the hands of an enthusiastic young artist, it doesn't take long before a nice sharpened crayon becomes a broken crayon mess. But the flip side of that coin is that crayons are also easy to recycle. Not in the blue bin, of course, but by melting them down into new crayons. If you're looking for a fun project to do with your kids, you can DIY with a non-stick cupcake pan and an oven. Here's a step-by-step inspired by Martha Stewart Kids Magazine: www.notwithoutsalt.com. Fun, but these crayons lack the nice, sharpened tip kids crave.
Another option is to collect all your broken, unwanted crayons and ship them to Crazy Crayons, a great company that employs people with developmental disabilities to help sort the crayons so they can be melted down, strained, sterilized and hand poured into new shapes. The result is beautiful, 'new' crayons that come in a variety of shapes, including stars, earth worms and heavy-duty sticks stamped with the word 'recycle.'
Recycling is easy: no need to sort by color or remove the paper wrappers. In fact, the folks at Crazy Crayons specifically ask that recyclers leave the wrappers intact - without them, distinguishing black from purple from blue can be a challenge. Recyclers do foot the bill for shipping, but Crazy Crayons offers several shipping tips to help keep the cost down.
You can buy the recycled crayons from Crazy Crayons directly, or for a more user-friendly shopping experience, visit www.buygreen.com. Added bonus: enter the coupon code teachgreen4all, and TeachingGreen gets 10% of the sale (that's true for everything on the site, by the way).
Never throw a crayon away again. Even the saddest, smallest stubs can be given a new life. Visit www.crazycrayons.com to learn more.
| Green City, USA
America's Least Wasteful Cities
Curious which large cities are home to America's least wasteful residents? In
an effort to find out, Nalgene surveyed 3,750 residents from the country's 25 largest cities on 23 behaviors and habits ranging from recycling to using public transportation to shutting off the lights when leaving a room. Participants were also asked to grade their city's, company's, friends' and personal commitment to sustainable living.
This 2nd annual survey conducted by Nalgene revealed that Americans seem to be making slight improvements in their commitment to environmentally-friendly living, but it's clear that there is still much room for improvement, even in these relatively green-minded cities.
Go to www.leastwastefulcities.com
to see how your city stacks up.
| Duty Calls
Saturday, March 26, 8:30pm
On March 26, 2011, pledge to turn out your lights at 8:30 pm for Earth Hour, a worldwide collective display of commitment to protect the one thing that unites us all--the planet.
Every year, Earth Hour, a program of World Wildlife Fund, asks individuals, businesses and communities worldwide to show their commitment to the environment by turning off the lights for one hour.
In 2010 hundreds of millions of people across the world, in 4,616 cities, in 128 countries and territories took part in Earth Hour. Earth Hour 2011 is shaping up to be an even bigger event. For more information and to pledge your support, go to www.earthhour.org
Events and Other Stuff for Angelinos:
Earth Day Celebrations for the Whole Family
Celebrate Mother Earth and her protection at an Earth Day celebration near you:
2011 Torrance Environmental Fair
Date: Saturday March 26
Time: 10:00 - 2:00pm
Location: Madrona Marsh, 3210 Plaza del Amo, Torrance 90503
Aquarium of the Pacific's Earth Day Celebration
Date: Saturday & Sunday, April 9 & 10
Time: 9:00am - 5:00pm
Location: Aquarium of the Pacific, 100 Aquarium Way, Long Beach 90802
Cost: FREE with general admission and for AOP members
STAR ECO Station Children's Earth Day 2009
Date: Sunday April 10
Time: 10:00am - 4:00pm
Location: STAR ECO Station, 10101 Jefferson Blvd, Culver City 90232
Cost: FREE (tours of the ECO Station are $5)
SEA Lab Earth Day Fair
Date: Saturday April 16
Time: 10:00am - 2:00pm
Location: SEA Lab, 1021 North Harbor Drive, Redondo Beach 90277
SMPA Earth Weekend
Date: Saturday April 16
Time: 11:00 - 6:00pm
Location: Santa Monica Pier Aquarium, 1600 Ocean Front Walk, Santa Monica 90401
Cost: FREE for anyone who participates in the beach cleanup (meet at the aquarium between 11:00 and 2:30)
VOICE Earth Day Celebration & Concert
Date: Saturday April 16
Time: 11:00am - 4:00pm
Location: Polliwog Park, Manhattan Beach 90266 (corner of Manhattan Beach Blvd. and Peck Ave.)
Earth Day Whale Fest
Date: Sunday April 17
Time: 10:00am - 4:00pm
Location: Leo Carillo State Park, 35000 PCH, Malibu 90265
Cost: Free admission; $12 for parking
WorldFest 2011 Earth Day Festival
Date: Sunday, May 22
Time: 10:30AM - 7:00PM
Location: Woodley Park, 6350 Woodley Ave, Van Nuys, CA 91406
Cost: Adults $7, Seniors $5, 12 & Under FREE, Parking $5
Earth Day at CMA
Date: Saturday April 23
Time: 10:00am - 4:00pm (beach cleanup from 8:00 - 10:00)
Location: Cabrillo Marine Aquarium; 3720 Stephen M. White Drive, San Pedro 90731
Other Events for the Eco-Conscious
Go Green Expo
Date: Saturday & Sunday April 16 - 17
Time: 10:00am - 5:00pm (6:00 pm on Saturday)
Location: The Los Angeles Convention Center, 1201 South Figueroa Street, South Hall G, Los Angeles 90015
Cost: Adults $15, Students & Senior Citizens $10, 12 & Under FREE
3rd Annual Mar Vista Green Garden Showcase
This free citywide event will feature a public, open house tour through more than 70 private resident gardens throughout Mar Vista. Participants will learn about drought-resistant landscapes, edible gardens, composting techniques, water capture practices and free range farming.
Date: Saturday April 30
Time: 10:00AM - 4:00PM
Location: Mar Vista (map)
Keeping Our Heads Above Water
Adapting to Climate Change in Southern California
Join top scientists, Nobel Peace Prize recipients from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), public policy-makers and industry representatives in a discussion on:
Date: Monday May 2
- Climate change impacts on local communities (such as sea level rise, water management, heat index rise, community health impacts)
- Climate adaptation policy frameworks
- Decision-making an uncertain world
- Risk assessment & the role of the insurance industry
- Local case studies, tools & strategies
Time: 8:00AM - 4:00PM
Location: Northrop Grumman Presentation Center, One Space Park, Redondo Beach (map)
To register, visit www.sbesc.com/event-registration or call (310) 371-7222.
Three ways you can help:
1. Bring us your people
Actually, we'll come to you.
In addition to public workshops, we also give presentations for groups, schools, and businesses. Are you a member of a community group, alumni group, Mom's group, church group, or any other kind of group? Have a business you're trying to green and want to get your employees on board?
If so, we would love to come and give a presentation or two for your group! We give presentations on specific issues, such as transportation, food and household toxics, and we also offer a general overview of sustainable living.
Visit www.teachinggreen.org to learn more and to request a presentation.
2. Volunteer or intern with TeachingGreen
We are seeking interns and volunteers to help further our mission of helping people reduce the environmental impact of their personal and professional lives. We need help with curriculum development, classroom presentations, fund raising and outreach. Your involvement will help us to grow the organization so that we can reach more people with the message of sustainability. Sign up today!
For more information, contact Kathleen Jacecko at 310-372-7484 or [email protected].
3. Donate and become a member of TeachingGreen
We are a 501(c)3 organization, so all donations are fully tax-deductible. Your support helps us spread the message of sustainability via workshops, presentations, our wesite and this newsletter. We currenlty operate only in Los Angeles, but even if you don't live here, remember that when we act locally, we help the global environment as well as the local environment.
To make a tax-deductible donation to TeachingGreen, click here.
We hope you find this newsletter helpful and informative, and should you have any suggestions, questions or general comments, we'd love to hear from you.