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The Green Graze

A Taste of Everything Green 

Spring 2014
In This Issue
Eco Gadgets & Innovations
Reduce, REUSE, Recycle
Did You Know?
Good News!
Bringing Back Nature
L.A. Confidential
Duty Calls
Survey Says!
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Welcome to TeachingGreen's Spring 2014 issue of The Green Graze, our seasonal newsletter offering a taste of everything green!

Earth Day is coming up on April 22, so be sure to get out and celebrate environmental protection at an Earth Day festival near you! TeachingGreen will be hosting a table at the Earth Day Celebration at Polliwog Park in Manhattan Beach, so if you're in the area on April 26, come say hi!

Inside this issue of The Green Graze: ...and more!
Happy grazing!
Eco_gadgetsEco Gadgets & Innovations

Sugar Battery has "Unmatched Energy Density"

It should come as no surprise that sugar is chock full of energy; parents of small children are especially mindful of this fact. But what if we could harness that energy to do something useful, such as power the electronic gadgetry so ubiquitous in modern life? Researchers at Virginia Tech have developed a battery that might soon make this fiction a reality.

The research team, led by Y.H. Percival Zhang, an associate professor of biological systems engineering in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the College of Engineering, has developed a battery that runs on sugar - in this case, maltodextrin, an ingredient you've probably seen listed on food labels.

Using synthetic enzymes as a catalyst, Zhang's battery strips all electric charge from the sugar to generate electricity in an enzymatic fuel cell. "Sugar is a perfect energy storage compound in nature," Zhang said. "So it's only logical that we try to harness this natural power in an environmentally friendly way to produce a battery."

Research on sugar-powered batteries is nothing new; in fact, it's been going on for at least 20 years. But Zhang's battery is the first to extract all of the energy in sugar and convert it into electricity, making it an order of magnitude more powerful than previous sugar batteries.

Zhang hopes that his new sugar battery will be powering our small electronic devices - think cell phones and tablets - in as little as three years. But there are some nagging details to be worked out first, such as how to keep the battery dry. Like any other fuel cell, the battery produces carbon dioxide and water as the main byproducts of electricity production. What Zhang and his team will do about that water remains to be seen.

If they can work out the kinks and build a practical sugar-powered battery, there will be many things to love about it:
  • It's refillable - just add sugar
  • The enzymes and the sugar solution are both biodegradable
  • The fuel - a sugar solution - is neither explosive nor flammable
  • A battery life at least ten times longer than current lithium-ion batteries, according to Zhang 
Not only that, but a refillable battery powered by sugar would replace countless disposable batteries that get tossed every year. Here in the U.S. alone, billions of batteries - and their toxic heavy metals - get dumped in landfills each year, posing a threat to the environment, and human health as well.

To read more about the battery that could turn today's public health enemy #1 into the clean energy hero of tomorrow, visit www.vtnews.vt.edu .

 reuseReduce, REUSE, Recycle

Any way you look at it, moving is the pits. It's either a time-consuming hassle or a significant drain on your bank account. And what with the billions of moving boxes Americans use every year, it's no fun for our forests either.

The next time you find yourself facing the hell that is moving, consider making it a bit less hellish for our forests by reusing old boxes instead of buying new ones. Don't have an attic full of used boxes like I do? You can always hit up your friends, neighbors, and community websites like freecycle.org and craigslist for used boxes. Or, you can now buy them from UsUsed cardboard boxesedCardboardBoxes.com.
As the name implies, the Los Angeles-based company deals with one thing and one thing only: used cardboard boxes. UsedCardboardBoxes.com saves trees by buying quality used boxes from large companies that would otherwise just recycle them as scrap. They then sell those very same boxes back to consumers and businesses. They claim that their boxes are used just once or not at all (new factory misprints, overruns or customer returns), and they guarantee their boxes to work just as well as new boxes.

You can buy stacks of medium, large or x-large moving boxes, or if you need packing accessories such as tape, pens and packing paper, you can buy a moving kit for everything from a studio apartment to a 10 bedroom house. If it's shipping or gaylord boxes you're looking for, they sell those too. With a network of distribution centers across the country, and national contracts with UPS and FedEx, they offer free shipping to anywhere in the continental U.S.

I'll end with one small caveat: the company's claim that they "sell to customers for less than retail" is not true according to my calculations. I did a rough comparison to U-Haul's prices, and found that for the same storage volume, you will pay less at U-Haul. Of course, U-Haul's boxes are made with 100% virgin material, and we all know what that means: trees. So it comes down to a question of who pays: you or Mother Nature?

Visit UsedCardboardBoxes.com to learn more.
did_you_knowDid You Know?

Little Scrubbers Causing Big Problems for Aquatic Organisms
Beware plastic microbeads in some exfoliating scrubs
Love the feel of a freshly washed face that only an exfoliating scrub or soap can achieve?  Well scrub with caution, because if you're not careful, that healthy glow could have a pretty steep environmental  price tag attached.

The problem is that most major brands use plastic microbeads in their exfoliating soaps and scrubs, and there's now strong evidence to suggest that those sand-sized pieces of plastic are ending up in our rivers, lakes and oceans. While it's reasonable to assume that sewage treatment plants would remove these microbeads from sewage, it turns out that they are small enough to pass right through.

Once in the aquatic environment, microbeads wreak havoc on the organisms that live there. That's because they look a lot like plankton, a favorite food source for the tiniest of critters, who gobble them right up. The plastic then moves on up the food web, accumulating in significant quantities in larger animals.

The problem is serious enough to have prompted action on the part of New York's Attorney General Eric Schneiderman: on February 11, the Microbead-Free Waters Act was introduced on his behalf. The state bill would prohibit the production, manufacture, distribution and sale of products containing plastic beads fewer than 5 millimeters in size.

The good news is that it's easy to avoid killing aquatic life every time you rinse your exfoliant down the drain: just choose a product that uses a biodegradable exfoliant such as crushed nut shells, sugar, or sand. And if you have an iPhone, there's an app for that! Developed by The North Sea Foundation and the Plastic Soup Foundation, the Beat the Micro Bead app will help you identify and avoid products that contain microbeads.

There are hundreds of scrubs available out there with biodegradable exfoliants. If yours isn't one of them, ditch it today!

good_newsGood News!

Three Wins for Wildlife
The world gets serious about wildlife trafficking

Obama Announces New National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking

Victims of the booming illegal wildlife trafficking business got an early Valentine's Day gift from President Obama last month: on February 11th, his administration announced a new National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking.

Wildlife trafficking - the poaching of and illegal trade in protected or managed species - has been escalating rapidly over the past decade, and is now estimated to be the fourth largest transnational crime in the world. It is estimated that as many as 35,000 elephants died at the hands of poachers in 2012, and 2013 data shows that nearly 100 elephants were killed every single day. Globally, the illegal ivory trade has more than doubled since 2007.

While many believe that ivory trade in the U.S. has long been banned, we in fact host the second largest ivory marketplace after China. "The U.S. market is contributing to the crisis now threatening the African elephant," said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe. "The largely unregulated domestic trade in elephant ivory has served as a loophole that gives cover for illegal trade. Through a series of administrative actions, we can establish a commercial ivory ban and provide the urgently needed protections for elephants and rhinos that will help counteract the unparalleled threats facing two of the world's most treasured species."

This new National Strategy calls for strengthening the enforcement of laws and international agreements that protect wildlife, while reducing demand for illegal wildlife and wildlife products through public awareness campaigns. It proposes to immediately pursue a series of administrative actions to establish a U.S. ban (with limited exceptions) on elephant ivory and rhino horn trade. It will also restore Endangered Species Act protections for African Elephants that had previously been  relaxed.

Forty Six Nations Agree to Fight Illegal Wildlife Trade

On February 13, just three days after the announcement out of Washington, world leaders meeting at the Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference in London agreed on "decisive and urgent action" to end the illegal trade of wildlife and wildlife products that is threatening elephants, rhinos, tigers and other species with extinction.Elephants killed for ivory

The London Declaration, adopted by delegates representing 46 nations - including Botswana, Chad, China, Gabon, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Russia, Tanzania, Vietnam and the United States - pledges to wipe out markets for illegal wildlife products, ensure effective legal deterrents, strengthen law enforcement, and support sustainable livelihoods for communities affected by wildlife crime.

Prince Charles, who attended the conference with the Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry, told the conference, "Today you are breaking new ground by coming together and committing - at high levels never before seen at a conference on this topic - to take urgent action to put a stop to this illicit trade, which has become a grave threat not only to the wildlife and the people who protect them, but also to the security of nations."

Four Hundred Arrested in Global Wildlife Crime Sting

Meanwhile, a wildlife crime sting involving law enforcement officers from 28 countries lead to the arrest of more than 400 wildlife crime suspects, several of whom were identified as wildlife trafficking kingpins. The operation included the first ever joint China-Africa undercover sting that identified and arrested members of a major ivory trafficking organization.

The month-long operation, code-named Operation Cobra II, resulted in the seizure of 36 rhino horns, and more than three metric tons of elephant ivory, 10,000 turtles, 1,000 skins of protected species, 10,000 European eels and 200 metric tons of rosewood logs.

To read more about these victories for wildlife, visit:

National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking
London Conference on the Illegal Wildlife Trade
Global Wildlife Crime Sting

bringing_back_natureBringing Back Nature...

...One Dam at a Time
By Vincent Vitale

Can you recall the last dam you saw? Perhaps it was the Hoover Dam, sandwiched between Arizona and Nevada, or maybe it was the Grand Coulee Dam, located in Washington state. Dams of this size and structure are marvels of engineering, supplying electricity to citizens through the motion of flowing water. These dams are not the concern of this article. Did you know that less than 5% of all dams in the United States are able to produce hydroelectric power? Did you know that of the more than 78,000 dams in our country, the overwhelming majority, are less than 30 feet in size and do little more than exist, choking our nation's rivers?

Dams are highly complex for they represent much more than a vertical slab of concrete in the land.  When a dam is inserted, it chokes off a free-flowing and self-regulating river. Without human intervention, rivers operate in a highly sustainable manner. They allow sediment and nutrients to flow through the entire entity, creating one long hospitable and profitable ecosystem. Dams put a halt to  these natural processes.

The majority of dams in America were constructed between 1910-1940 to irrigate the quickly developing western farmlands. Though they served at one time, irrigation technology has rendered the majority of these structures obsolete. Providing no benefit to today's society, these medium to small scale dams are instead wreaking havoc on ecosystems across the country. Our planet is hospitable to the variety of life around us due to water existing in its liquid Dam removalstate. Rivers therefore act as the Earth's arteries, supplying precious water over large-scale stretches of otherwise uninhabitable land.  

There exists a solution, and it isn't ethically radical or expensive: dam deconstruction.  Deconstruction of a dam requires legislation and money, just as inserting it did. However, these are one-time costs which are economically more feasible than the cost of maintaining a dam which provides no economic return. The irony lies in the fact that a re-established, free-flowing river actually pays us back. Over the course of 5-10 years, at locations where a dam existed but was removed, river ecosystem health has been seen to return.

If we allow ourselves to do so, we may see that decisions made nearly a century ago simply do not correspond to today. Nothing illustrates this fact like dams. In doing so, we arrive at the sound conclusion that a dam removed is all around better in economic and ecological concerns than fighting an unnecessary and costly battle with nature.

LA_confidentialL.A. Confidential

Upcoming 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:

STAR ECO Station's 14th Annual Children's Earth Day
Date: Sunday April 6
Time: 11:00am - 4:00pm
Location: STAR ECO Station, 10101 Jefferson Blvd, Culver City 90232
Cost: FREE (tours of the ECO Station are $5)

Sanitation Districts Earth Day
Date: Saturday April 12
Time: 10:00am - 2:00pm
Location: Sanitation Districts Parking Lot, 1955 Workman Mill Road, Whittier 90601
Cost: FREE

Earth Day Bird Fest
Date: Saturday April 19
Time: 8:00am - 3:00pm
Location: Cabrillo Marine Aquarium; 3720 Stephen M. White Drive, San Pedro 90731
Cost: FREE
VOICE 21st Annual Earth Day Celebration & Concert

Date: Saturday April 26
Time: 11:00am - 4:00pm
Location: Polliwog Park, Manhattan Beach 90266 (corner of Manhattan Beach Blvd. & Peck Ave.)
Cost: FREE

Earth Day Festival at Santa Monica Pier
Date: Saturday April 26
Time:  9:00am - 5:00pm
Location: Santa Monica Pier Aquarium, 1600 Ocean Front Walk, Santa Monica 90401
Cost:FREE, and anyone who participates in the beach cleanup will be rewarded with free admission to the Aquarium

Aquarium of the Pacific's Earth Day Celebration
Date: Saturday & Sunday, April 26 & 27
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; 20% off for their guests

Other Upcoming Events for the Eco-Conscious

MB 2025 Future Fast Forward
Date: Saturday March 29
Time: Forum at 4:00pm; Earth Hour event at 8:00pm
Location: Joslyn Center 1601 N Valley Dr, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
Cost: Free
In conjunction with the international Earth hour event, MB 2025 Future Fast Forward will start with a two-hour TEDx-inspired forum at the Joslyn Center in Manhattan Beach, followed by an Earth Hour event at the Manhattan Beach pier. The Future Forum will feature leading-edge experts on the benefits and process of transforming our fossil fuel-based society into a 100% renewable energy powered civilization.

LA Waterkeepers' 3rd Annual Stand-Up Paddle Race
Date: Saturday April 5
Time: Registration starts at 9:00am; Race starts at 10:00am
Location: Paradise Cove, Malibu
Cost: Free admission for all race registrants, $20 general admission
Hundreds of clean water supporters and outdoor enthusiasts will gather to participate in stand-up paddle races and demos

Whale of a Day Celebration
Date: Saturday April 12
Time: 10:00am - 4:00pm
Location: Point Vicente Interpretive Center at 31501 Palos Verdes Drive West, Palos Verdes 90275
Cost: FREE with free parking available at the Rancho Palos Verdes City Hall located at 30940 Hawthorne Blvd. (with a free shuttle bus service)
Celebrate the migration of the Pacific Gray Whale from its summer feeding grounds in the Bering and Chuchki Seas in Alaska to the winter breeding and calving grounds in Baja California. Enjoy activities for children, exhibits, craft and food vendors and a raffle drawing.

6th Annual Mar Vista Green Garden Showcase
Date: Saturday April 26
Time: 10:00am - 4:00pm 
Location: Map of the gardens on the tour
Cost: FREE
Each garden - located in one of six walkable/bike-able clusters - will have one or more of the following sustainability features: California native/drought tolerant plantings, edibles, water catchment systems or chickens. Meet landscapers and do-it-yourself gardeners who will share their knowledge and experience.

25th Annual La Gran Limpieza: The Great Los Angeles River CleanUp
Date: Saturday, April 26, May 3, and May 10
Time: 9:00am - 12:00pm each day
Location:  Click here for clean up sites
Cost: FREE
Friends of Los Angeles River will host three Saturdays of river cleanup on the 25th anniversary of this community event.

Second Annual Long Beach Lawn-To-Garden Tour
Date: Saturday, May 3
Time: 10:00am - 2:00pm
Location: Register to receive a map via email
Cost: FREE
This self-guided tour will showcase 30 beautiful Long Beach Lawn-to-Garden landscapes throughout the City. Homeowners or representatives will be available at each home to talk about their experiences during their garden transformations.

8th Annual Solar Homes Tour of the South Bay
Date: Saturday May 17
Time:  All day
Location: South Bay area
Cost: FREE
Join Environmental Priorities Network for their annual solar homes tour. For more information and to
obtain a tour flyer contact Lillian Light at lklight@verizon.net. 

WorldFest 2014 Earth Day Festival
Date: Sunday, May 18
Time: 10:30am - 7:00pm
Location: Woodley Park, 6350 Woodley Ave. Lake Balboa, CA
Cost: $8; $12 after May 1st; 12 & Under and 91406 zip code residents FREE, Parking $5
Enjoy live music, empowering speakers, environmental, humanitarian and animal welfare non-profits, kids' activities and a delicious food court.

Duty_callsDuty Calls

Saturday, March 29, 8:30pm

On March 29, 2014, pledge to turn out your lights at 8:30pm (your local time) for Earth Hour, a worldwide collective display of commitment to protect the one thing that unites us all--the Earth Hour planet.

Every year, Earth Hour, a program of World Wildlife Fund, asks individuals, businesses and  communities around the world to show their commitment to the environment by turning off the  lights for one hour.

For more information, to pledge your support, and to start your own Earth Hour event at your home, workplace, school or city, go to www.worldwildlife.org.


surveySurvey Says!

We're Still Curious...

When were the seeds of environmental awareness FIRST planted in your mind? Was it during your early childhood...teens years...later on? We want to know! If you haven't already, please take two minutes to take our short survey. Your response will provide valuable insight that could help us secure funding for our new Growing Up Green TOTS Program. Thanks for participating!

Green_TOTSCalling All Preschool and Kindergarten Teachers!

Green Your Classroom with our Growing Up Green TOTS program!
Are you an early education teacher? If not, do you know any preschool or kindergarten teachers? We are getting ready to officially launch our new Growing Up Green TOTS program, and we need your help to spread the word!

The Growing Up Green TOTS pilot program, which officially launched in September of this year, is in full swing in four classrooms at the preschool run by the South Bay Adult School Parent Education Program in Los Angeles. Through the pilot, some 80 children - and their parents - are already enjoying the benefits of a greener and healthier classroom, while learning about reducing, reusing, recycling, composting and other important principles of green living.

Compost kids

With Growing Up Green TOTS, teachers receive an all-inclusive, easy-to-implement program, free of charge. We do the research and produce the materials so that they don't have to. 
  • For the kids: Colorful signage, nature - and eco - based crafts, activities, stories and field  trip experiences that make the program fun and engaging. 
  • For the parents: Quarterly Newsletters, Parent Guidelines, a Green & Healthy Classroom Pledge sheet, and Parent Surveys to facilitate and track parent involvement.
  • For the teachers: A wealth of resources to go green in the classroom and engage students and parents, including classroom signage, a Green Tips & Resources Guide, a week-long unit for Earth Day, and ideas for hands-on activities and crafts, circle time and field trips.
Our best hope for ensuring a healthy environment for our children and grandchildren lies with those children themselves. If they learn to appreciate the wealth of beautiful and life-sustaining things that the earth provides, they will learn to love and care for it. It's that simple.

For more information, contact Kathleen Jacecko at 310-372-7484 or kjacecko@teachinggreen.org.

We hope you find this newsletter helpful and informative. Should you have any suggestions, questions or general comments, we'd love to hear from you.
Kathleen Jacecko AllStar Logo


Kathleen Jacecko