16
Sep

Do You Follow The Frog?

by Tiffany in Environment

Today kicks off Follow the Frog Week. What exactly is that you ask? Well, basically this initiative comes to us from the Rainforest Alliance and it is a week-long campaign that encourages individuals and businesses to celebrate sustainability by taking even one small step toward a greener lifestyle. There is actually a little green frog on numerous products such as coffee, tea, chocolate, flowers, paper and wood products that signify these are better choices for the planet.

Have you seen the frog? Is he hoppin at your home?

follow the frog week sm

Why should we care?? Just because you don’t see the consequences of your actions, doesn’t mean there aren’t any. In fact, we’re losing forests at a rate of 32 million acres per year — that’s equivalent to one football field every 78 seconds. Helping to protect forests and support communities worldwide can be as simple as looking for the Rainforest Alliance Certified™ seal and the Rainforest Alliance Verified™ mark.

I love this video that was just released illustrating what happens when dad does the grocery shopping and doesn’t Follow the Frog. Every purchase has an impact and if we actually saw the consequences in our own neck of the woods we might be just a little more vigilant. What do you think?

Monday, September 16th, 2013

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8
Sep

Your Garden May Be Harming the Bees, Not Helping Them

by Tiffany in Environment

garden bees

The decline of the bees has been a concern of mine for several years now. I first wrote about why we need bees three years ago and then just again recently with an article on how to attract more bees to your yard and local community. I see personally just how few bees we have buzzing around these days and of course the headlines are full of news too, such as the massive bee deaths that just occurred in Oregon. Movies such as Vanishing of the Bees also highlight the growing problem and it is a HUGE problem on many levels that will adversely affect our future on this planet.

One of the common “solutions” though may actually be part of the problem and we need to educate ourselves so that we are not inadvertently harming the bee population instead of doing our part to help. When a concerned individual decides to make their own property more bee friendly one of the first things they do is probably to plant more flowers and plants that bees will love and feed off of. Modern life and progress means less raw nature for all kinds of animal life and that includes the bees. It only makes sense that one big step to changing that is too start gardening and play host to flowering plants that will give the bees a safe haven and a healthy food source. It can be a problem though when we consider the source of those plants and flowers.

A new study conducted by the Friends of the Earth-US and Pesticide Research Institute has established something rather alarming. They found that 54% of common garden plants purchased at top retailers like Lowes and Home Depot contained neonicotinoid pesticides, which studies show can harm or kill bees and other pollinators, with no warning to consumers. If we are buying garden seeds and/or young plants at places such as these we are bringing pesticides home to our own garden and they can survive in the soil and plants for months and even years!

I know how easy it can be to adopt the thinking that growing from seed is just too much work and that you should be able to get away with plants bought from garden stores or big box retailers even though they aren’t organic. As long as you don’t use nasty pesticides at home you should be fine right? Any residual pesticides in the small amount of soil that comes with the plant will surely be gone before long right? Well, no actually. The pesticides stick around for much longer than we might have anticipated so we really do need to start with organic plants, seedlings, and soil. Most of which is usually not to be found at major garden supply centers. We don’t want to expose bees to the pesticides, be saving seeds from these contaminated plants, or be eating from them if we are also gardening for food.

The European Union is set to suspend the use of three neonic pesticides later this year, after their own scientific review by the European Food Safety Authority found that neonicotinoids pose an unacceptably high risk to bees. The UK’s largest garden retailers have already stopped selling neonics. Despite the growing evidence that these pesticides are in fact killing our bees the giant chemical companies Bayer and Syngenta, who make them, are fighting back aggressively, even suing the European Commission to overturn the ban on the pesticides. Our own EPA has delayed action until 2018 showing that profit will come before common sense on the issue and that is why we need to create change on our own at an individual level and as a community.

We need to stop buying seeds and plants from big garden centers who use these pesticides and be vocal about demanding they STOP this practice. We need to buy organic heirloom seeds and plants from reputable retailers online or from small nurseries who share our values. If you do some looking you are sure to find some companies that fit this bill and they need your support because they are doing vital work.

In the meantime Tell Congress to support the Save America’s Pollinators Act and join us in asking the CEOs of Lowe’s and Home Depot, Robert Niblock and Frank Blake, to give bees a chance and stop selling bee-killing pesticides.

Written for the Buzz on Bees and Making Your Garden Count Blog Carnival. 

Sunday, September 8th, 2013

5 Comments

8
Jul

America’s Most Endangered River

by Tiffany in Environment

My beautiful picture

I spotted this video (below) over the weekend and I got a little teary eyed. It is true that I was born in the Midwest (Ohio) and live there currently but I consider myself to be a Southwestern gal at heart…a desert rat. I lived in Arizona for over twenty years and spent my childhood there. The Colorado River is a treasure to us desert rats and in the years before I left it was so alarming to hear how badly we were decimating it. The unsustainable way in which many live there is one big reason I left. I couldn’t feel good about buying local foods from local family farmer’s when I knew they were using water piped in from the Colorado River to sustain their plants/farms. It seemed very unnatural to me. Living in a sustainable way to me means not stealing water from hundreds of miles away and from the people in that region who need it.

This video from American Rivers highlights the problem beautifully. They have named the Colorado River America’s most endangered river of 2013. It might not be the biggest river out there but it works the hardest as the lifeblood of seven states, two countries, and nine national parks. It has been so used and abused that it no longer reaches the sea. :(

Their site has some great information on ways we can action to save it and also to save other American rivers and waterways. One HUGE way is to make sure we patronize businesses and corporations that are not exploiting these resources and research our purchases before we make them to ensure it. Vote for the world you want with your dollars.

Many thanks to Reuseit for sharing this video (the place I discovered it). In addition to being a company with great eco products and ethics they partner with American Rivers and other environmental organizations and donate 1% of anything you buy to support them.

Monday, July 8th, 2013

4 Comments

24
Jun

More Bees Please; How to Attract Bees to Your Yard and Local Community

by Tiffany in Environment

How to Attract Bees to Your Yard and Local Community

Do you know how to attract bees to your yard?  Maybe a better question is why would you possibly want to attract bees to your yard?

While there are some people who will do whatever it takes to eliminate all kinds of insects from their property in an attempt to create the “perfect” yard, the more informed and conscious gardeners, homeowners, and consumers understand that the presence of bees is actually a good thing. Vital in fact. The more bees that are present in your yard or garden, the healthier your space is.  If you are a gardener, you’ll understand that flowers, fruits and vegetables benefit from having more bees around. One out of every three bites of food is pollinated by bees and other pollinators. They give us food and they are a sign of balance and good health in our local eco systems. You really don’t want to live in a world without bees.

Aren’t convinced? Try watching one of the bee documentaries out there currently. I recommend Vanishing of the Bees. It highlights the bee crisis we currently face and just how dire it could be if we don’t turn it around. I was crying inside of ten minutes…it’s powerful stuff. I re-watched this week and then was horrified by the news a couple days ago that over 25,000 bees died in a Target parking lot after trees were sprayed with pesticides.

If you are one of those who understand the benefits, you will do whatever it takes to lure them to your yard or garden and your local community in general.

Bee Attractive

There are a number of things that you can do to attract more bees to your yard or garden, and not all of them require that you be a master gardener or landscaper.  The most important thing you can do is to start thinking like a bee.  This includes understanding what it is that bees like (or don’t like) and then creating an outdoor space that reflects this.

What a Bee Wants.  Bees are looking for two things when they visit a plant; nectar and pollen.  By using plants and flowers in your yard or garden that are rich in either nectar or pollen, you will find yourself with more bees than you can shake a stick at and an outdoor space that is a gardener’s dream come true.  Unfortunately, not all of these plants (however beautiful) are created equal.

Keep it Natural. One of the main detractors for bees is flowers and plants that have been hybridized.  While these plants have been designed to be easier to grow, to have bigger blooms and be resistant to disease, they usually come with a price; reduced production of nectar and pollen.  So keep your selection of plants and flowers as natural as possible.

And speaking of natural, one of the worst things that you can do for your yard is to use many of the chemical pesticides that are on the market today.  Yes, they may get rid of pests like aphids and gypsy moths that leave your leaves ragged, but most are not selective and will also kill off the more beneficial insects such as spiders, butterflies and even bees.  Believe it or not, once your yard or garden has reached a natural balance, these pests will be balanced out by the more beneficial insects that keep them in check.

Go Native.  Yes, exotic plants, trees and flowers may be attractive and alluring to humans, but you are looking to attract local bees and local bees prefer local plants.  The more plants and flowers you can include that are native to your area, the more luck you will have in attracting bees.

Think Variety.  The bigger the variety of flowers and plants you have in your yard or garden, the more bees you will be able to attract.  This includes a variety of colors and shapes.  Be especially careful to include plants that will flower at different times of the growing season, this will give your bees a constant source of attractors.

Buy Organic and Buy Local. Support your local farmers, especially ones who garden organically. They are doing their part to garden without toxic chemicals and they are providing food for bees. Many of these small farmers even keep bees to pollinate their crops. They need our monetary support so they can keep doing this important work. Buy local and organic and you support your local economy and your local bee colonies.

Bee Generous. Donate money to bee research and other organizations that are doing important work to support bees. Look for ones locally, perhaps at a college or university.

Be a Backyard Beekeeper. If you have the space take the plunge! We need more eco conscious people to keep the movement to save our bees going and growing. Check out the book The Practical Beekeeper: Beekeeping Naturally for a good getting started guide.

Yes, it may seem like a lot of work, but with a little time and attention you can have a yard or garden that will attract bees.  You can also do your part to support those in your community you are making the world a more hospitable place for bees. Your reward is that you are making the world a better place for everyone to “bee”.

bee tweet

Monday, June 24th, 2013

5 Comments

5
Feb

SodaStream Super Bowl Commercial Rejected

by Tiffany in Environment

plastic bottle ruining nature

I admit to you that I did not watch the Super Bowl. It did not play anywhere in my home and we attended no parties. My husband and I could give two licks about football so why bother? I guess this also means I missed out on all the wonderfully entertaining commercials but I will survive I think.

Because I didn’t watch I don’t care to get irate about the inappropriate content of the commercials. I have two eyes that are capable of looking away when I see stuff I don’t like anyway. I see no need to sanitize the content of the world and make sure it is all to my liking only. Yet I did get pretty miffed when I heard that SodaStream tried to run an ad that shows how their product can reduce needless waste (via plastic bottles) and that it was rejected. CBS is saying they rejected it because it unfairly disparages Pepsi and Coke but we all know they allow those two companies to attack each other via commercials all the time. I guess it stops being funny when it is done by a company who wants to create consumer change and has a good product that can actually do so.

SodaStream ended up airing an ad but they had to change it slightly to protect the not-so innocent.

The original ad doesn’t even really attack the soda companies, it simply highlights that you can make soda at home and save more than 2,000 bottles a year. Pretty incendiary stuff! CBS better protect us from all that vitriol! Thank goodness we have them to shield the public from its destructive consumer ways and protect the interests of big business. At least we can keep talking about the issue and make sure the ad gets seen…

What do you think of this move by CBS and what do you think of the SodaStream ad?

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

7 Comments