Earth Day is right around the corner (April 22), but why not commit to loving and protecting the environment every day?
1. Awaken Your Senses to nature all around you, even in the city. Just step outside, and nature is right there. Is it windy? What do the clouds look like? Is it sunny? What is the first bird that you hear?
2. Use Less Water: turning off the tap while you brush your teeth will save four gallons a minute. In the shower, turning off the water while you shampoo and condition your hair can save more than 50 gallons a week.
3. Attack The Energy Monster: always turn off the lights when you leave a room, and replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs). They are more expensive but will last much longer. Use the minimum amount of outdoor security lights by setting them on a timer or motion sensor so they turn off during the day.
4. Commute Without Polluting: take mass transit or at least carpool if you can. Best of all, ride a bike! There are huge physical and fiscal benefits to biking. The obesity rate for adults is at almost 36 percent in the U.S., while countries like the Netherlands, Sweden and Germany, which promote biking as transportation, have the lowest incidence of obesity.
5. Know The Top 10. According to the National Recycling Coalition, these are the top 10 most important items to recycle: aluminum, PET plastic bottles, newspaper, corrugated cardboard, steel cans, HDPE plastic bottles, glass containers, magazines, mixed paper and computers.
6. Just Say No to paper and plastic bags. The average consumer makes 1.9 trips to the grocery store every week. If you take home two bags each trip, that’s about 200 bags a year. Even if you recycle your bags, it’s better not to use them in the first place, due to the energy used to produce those bags. Instead, carry your stuff home from the store in a reusable tote bag.
7. Put A Cap on bottled water: roughly 50 billion plastic water bottles end up in U.S. landfills each year, which is 140 million every day. And according to the National Resources Defense Council, 40 percent of bottled water is nothing more than tap water anyway. You’ve paid taxes for your tap water, so drink it! Head out to buy some refillable water bottles.
8. Buy Locally Produced Food. When you do, you are helping reduce the pollutions and depletion of resources associated with the transportation and packaging of food. On average, domestically grown produce sold in conventional supermarkets has traveled some 1,500 miles from farm to table. Not to mention, it’s probably been treated with fungicides so that it can be stored.
9. Weigh Your Waste. I’ve done this and it’s scary to see how much my family accumulates each week. Weigh on a bathroom scale every bag of garbage you create before you take it out. Do this for a week, and multiply by 52 to get a rough estimate of how much waste you produce in a year. Then figure out how you can cut your waste production!
10. Avoid The “Print” Button. It’s an obvious one – but really, think twice before printing from the computer. You can read most documents and magazines online, and you can pay many bills via the web these days. When you do print, use both sides of your paper as much as possible.
Worldwatch’s Nourishing the Planet team emphasizes urban agriculture as a means of increasing food security, empowering women, and protecting the environment.
Washington, D.C.-As people move from rural to urban settings in search of economic opportunities, urban agriculture is becoming an important provider of both food and employment, according to researchers with the Worldwatch Institute. “Urban agriculture is providing food, jobs, and hope in Nairobi, Kampala, Dakar, and other cities across sub-Saharan Africa,” said Danielle Nierenberg, co-director of the Institute’s Nourishing the Planet project. “In some cases, urban farmers are providing important inputs, such as seed, to rural farmers, dispelling the myth that urban agriculture helps feed the poor and hungry only in cities.”
The United Nations projects that up to 65 percent of the world’s population will live in cities by 2050, up from around 50 percent today. The rate of urban migration is particularly high in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, where inadequate urban infrastructure struggles to keep up with the large influx of people. “Although most of the world’s poor and hungry remain in rural areas, hunger is migrating with people into urban areas,” said Brian Halweil, co-director of the Nourishing the Planet project.
Currently, an estimated 800 million people worldwide are engaged in urban agriculture, producing 15-20 percent of the world’s food. However, this activity occurs mainly in Asia, making it critical to place more worldwide emphasis on this vital sector. In Africa, 14 million people migrate from rural to urban areas each year, and studies suggest that an estimated 35-40 million Africans living in cities will need to depend on urban agriculture to meet their food requirements in the future.
“Urban agriculture is an important aspect of the development movement as it has the potential to address some of our most pressing challenges, including food insecurity, income generation, waste disposal, gender inequality, and urban insecurity” said Nancy Karanja, a Professor at the University of Nairobi, Kenya, and a State of the World 2011 contributing author.
Organizations such as Urban Harvest and others are working across the African continent to enhance urban agricultural efforts. In sub-Saharan Africa, the Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization (ECHO), a Florida-based organization, has helped farmers build gardens using old tires and other “trash” to create plant beds. And the group Harvest of Hope has helped organize urban Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs in Cape Town, South Africa, purchasing excess produce from city gardens and redistributing it in schools in the area.
“These projects are not only helping to provide fresh sources of food for city dwellers, but also providing a source of income, a tool to empower women, and a means of protecting the environment, among other benefits,” said Mary Njenga, researcher at the University of Nairobi and the World Agroforestry Centre.
According to Nourishing the Planet, urban agriculture provides three important advantages that are evident in successful projects across the African continent:
· Close to home (and market). Produce from urban farms and gardens does not need to travel as far as produce grown in rural areas to reach the dining table, which helps to reduce production costs, post-harvest waste, and greenhouse gas emissions. This is also helpful in situations when supply chains from rural areas have been interrupted and cities are unable to receive food imports.
· Empowering women and building communities. In Kibera, the largest slum in Nairobi, Kenya, Urban Harvest has helped women build “vertical farms” simply by using sacks of soil in which to grow vegetables. Using these gardening activities, the women share business ideas and technical know-how, empowering each other. The community gardens also act as a forum where community members can exchange ideas and discuss community issues and problems.
· Improving urban environments. Faced with limited resources, urban farmers are adept at utilizing urban waste streams to strengthen their soil and grow their crops. Garbage is used as compost or fodder for livestock, and nutrient-rich waste water is used for irrigation. By re-using these waste products, urban farms help to reduce the amount of refuse clogging landfills as well as the amount of water used in cities. Community gardens also provide an aesthetically pleasing space and help improve the air quality in urban areas.
Nourishing the Planet (www.NourishingthePlanet.org) is a two-year evaluation of environmentally sustainable agricultural innovations to alleviate hunger. Worldwatch researchers traveled to 25 countries across sub-Saharan Africa to meet with more than 350 farmers groups, NGOs, government agencies, and scientists, highlighting small-scale urban agricultural efforts that are helping to improve peoples’ livelihoods by providing them with food and income. The findings are documented in the recently released report, State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet.
State of the World 2011 is accompanied by informational materials including briefing documents, summaries, an innovations database, videos, and podcasts, all available at www.NourishingthePlanet.org. The project’s findings are being disseminated to a wide range of agricultural stakeholders, including government ministries, agricultural policymakers, and farmer and community networks, as well as the increasingly influential nongovernmental environmental and development communities.
About the Worldwatch Institute:
Worldwatch is an independent research organization based in Washington, D.C. that works on energy, resource, and environmental issues. The Institute’s State of the World report is published annually in more than 20 languages. For more information, visit www.worldwatch.org.
ONE EARTH…ONE DAY…FOR GEORGIA
ATLANTA— (February 15, 2011) EarthShare of Georgia is organizing three key events in 2011 to promote environmental stewardship to leaders from the business world and the community at large. The EarthShare of Georgia Earth Day 2011 events are presented by Kaiser Permanente.
This year’s Corporate Green Day Challenge, on Saturday, April 16, 2011, 9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m., presented by Kaiser Permanente, allows employers in both the public and private sector to show their true color (green) by matching employee teams to community environmental projects. More than 1000 volunteers participated in the 2010 Corporate Green Day Challenge at 25 locations throughout Atlanta and beyond! These corporate volunteers exchanged their suits for work boots and garden gloves, to clean up parks, pull privet and clean streams. All participants must be employees of Earth Day 2011 Sponsor Companies. To sign up please download the Earth Day Sponsorship Packet at www.earthsharega.org.
On Wednesday, April 20, 2011, from 8:00-10:00 am, at the Georgia Aquarium, presented by Kaiser Permanente, business and non-profit leaders from metro-Atlanta will gather to celebrate innovations in sustainable business practices at the Earth Day 2011 Leadership Breakfast. Now in its ninth year, the event will be held at the Georgia Aquarium, the world’s largest aquarium, with eight million gallons of fresh and marine water and more aquatic life than found in any other aquarium. Fresh organic fare will be provided by Wolfgang Puck Catering and Whole Foods Market. The Earth Day 2011 keynote speaker is Rhett Turner, a highly gifted filmmaker and photographer and president of Red Sky Productions, a state of the art international film production company focusing on documentary films for global television audiences and private corporations.
Turner’s most recent project (premiered on Georgia Public Broadcasting – October 2010) is a documentary – Chattahoochee: From Water War to Water Vision – highlighting the longstanding conflict about the 20-year-old struggle between Alabama, Florida and Georgia. Co-produced with Jonathan Wickham (ZoёTV) – it interweaves individual stories and educates viewers on the complex issues and choices that increasingly face all of us when it comes to one of our most precious natural resource – water www.gpb.org/waterwar. Turner’s outlook on conservation was highly influenced by his father, media mogul and philanthropist Ted Turner; he grew up with strict tenets of environmental stewardship, and has pursued these themes through his career.
The program will also include the annual Earth Day awards program to honor and recognize our 2011 EarthShare of Georgia outstanding community partner, campaign leader, member organization, and the winning Corporate Green Day Challenge company green team.
Table-top displays from EarthShare of Georgia and its environmental member organizations will offer business partners a chance to see their dollars at work and offer an additional networking opportunity for all guests. A limited number of individual tickets are available for $100 each. Register online at www.earthsharega.org.
The 15th Annual Earth Day Party will be held on Thursday, April 21, 2011, from 7:00-10:00 pm at Summerour Studio, 409 Bishop Street, NW, Atlanta, GA 30318. EarthShare of Georgia’s Earth Day Party, presented by Kaiser Permanente, is Atlanta’s premiere Earth Day event, bringing together a diverse group of grassroots environmentalists, devoted philanthropists, and business professionals whose collective goal is to integrate sustainable practices and policies wherever we work, live or play. The 2011 Party Chairs are Katie Kirkpatrick and Lewis Perkins. Enjoy live music, food by Bold American Catering, and an Eco-silent auction stocked with deals on eco-friendly products, unique getaways, outdoor gear, and jewelry. Proceeds for the evening benefit EarthShare of Georgia, Georgia’s only dedicated environmental fund. Tickets are $60 per person. Register online at www.earthsharega.org.
For more information on all three 2011 Earth Day events and sponsorship visit EarthShare of Georgia at www.earthsharega.org or by calling 404-873-3173.
EarthShare of Georgia is working for the day when our air, land and water are clean abundant and healthy. EarthShare of Georgia is a non-profit that raises funds for more than 60 environmental organizations dedicated to conserving and protecting our air, land and water. For more information on how you and your company can help carry on the Earth Day message throughout the year, call EarthShare of Georgia today at 404-873-3173, or visit www.earthsharega.org.