Monday, November 30, 2015

Greening Cyber Monday: Eco-friendly Packaging

So anyone with children in their lives knows that’s it’s pretty hard to avoid buying at least a few things at this time of year. We’re doing our best to find a few things that our kids will really like while still minimizing our impact on the environment. This year the Nature Conservatory has launched a movement to change “Cyber Monday” into “Green Gift Monday“. They are encouraging people to buy Green products and to minimize their impact on the environment with their holiday purchases.
One way to reduce your impact on the environment is to consider the packaging when purchasing kids toys. Most parents have dealt with layers of plastic containers, wires and strings tying the toys to layers of cardboard and difficult to wrap oddly shaped packages. The children don’t like this packaging any more than the parents do and it’s all headed quickly to the trash. Most of that packaging isn’t recyclable or reusable. But what can you do? If you want the doll or toy you have to put up with the packaging designed to hold it perfectly in place while it is shipped around the world and to the store shelf where you purchase it.
Believe it or not, is starting a movement to revolutionize product packaging. Their movement isn’t new, they started “Frustration-Free Packaging” in 2008. According to their web page:
It’s a multi-year initiative designed to alleviate “wrap rage,” featuring recyclable boxes that are easy to open and free of clamshells and wire ties.
Amazon works directly with manufacturers like Fisher-Price and Leapfrog to package products directly into recyclable boxes that can be shipped in their own boxes without an additional shipping box. The item is exactly the same, but when your child opens the box they can immediately pull out their present and use it without waiting for someone to help them free it from its restraints. All the packing materials can be directly recycled in paper recycling or reused.
Vendors are allowed to sell their products in Frustration-Free Packaging in any of their outlets, therefore I encourage you to watch for it wherever you are shopping and purchase these versions. For example, I was shopping directly on LeapFrog’s website yesterday and I had the choice to order a product in either regular or frustration free packaging – I bet you can guess which I chose!
There is even an option for you to help influence this program. If you purchase anything that is shipped through Amazon (usually anything eligible for Super-Saver Shipping), after the product arrives you can go to their Packaging Feedback site (only works if you have recently placed an order) and provide direct feedback of the packaging. Amazon then uses this feedback to work directly with manufacturers to improve the packaging of the products they sell.
As I was doing research for this article, I discovered that Amazon has a huge program to implement environmental and energy initiatives throughout their company around the world. You can read more about their “Earth Kaizens” program directly on their website. I was very impressed by the efforts they are making.
You can buy a lot more than just toys packed in Frustration-Free Packaging including electronics, food, household supplies, and even our favorite, toilet paper!
So whether you are going green with your holiday shopping or your regular household purchases, consider the packaging and if you can’t get frustration free packaging, let Amazon know you want it next time!
Happy Greening,

Holiday Posts 2015

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Why You Should Buy an Organic Turkey

Experts say making that choice this holiday might help prevent the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria
By Consumer Reports
Last updated: November 17, 2015
Still deciding whether to buy an organic turkey or a conventionally raised turkey for Thanksgiving this year? Here's one more reason to consider going organic: Turkeys labeled organic are raised without antibiotics, and the overuse of those drugs in raising farm animals is causing big problems in humans.
About 80 percent of the antibiotics sold in the U.S. are used in industrially produced livestock. Producers administer the drugs to promote growth and prevent animals from getting sick on crowded factory farms. (Read parts 1 and 2 of our series: "The Rise of Superbugs" and "How Your Hospital Can Make You Sick." Plus, check our special report "How Safe is Your Ground Beef?" and antibiotic resistance guide.)
But the widespread use of antibiotics in farmed animals breeds drug-resistant bacteria that can spread from farms to humans through contaminated food, airborne dust blowing off farms, and water and soil polluted with contaminated feces.
Experts Are Concerned About Antibiotics in Meat
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has made reducing inappropriate antibiotic use a top priority. Doctors are worried, too. Ninety percent of physicians in a recent Consumer Reports poll said they are troubled by the meat industry's use of antibiotics on healthy animals and its effect on human health.
Concern over drug resistance led several public health groups, including Health Care Without Harm and the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society, to urge doctors and pharmacists to sign a pledge to purchase a Thanksgiving turkey "raised without the routine use of antibiotics."
Hospitals are getting in on the action, too. Some 300 hospitals around the country, including the University of California at Los Angeles Medical Center and Fletcher Allen Health Care in Vermont, have taken steps to to stop feeding meat raised with antibiotics to their patients and staff.
How to Find an Organic Turkey
If you want to avoid a turkey raised with antibiotics, you need to read labels carefully. Here's what to look for:
  • USDA Organic/No Antibiotics. This is one of the best guarantees a bird didn't receive antibiotics. (Note that under current rules poultry that is labeled USDA Organic may have been given antibiotic injections before it hatched and until its second day of life.)
  • USDA Process Verified. When this label is accompanied by claims like "No Antibiotics Administered" and variations you can buy with confidence.
  • Animal Welfare Approved. Poultry with this label has been raised under healthy conditions that don't include administration of antibiotics. (Birds may only be given antibiotics if they are sick or injured. Non-therapeutic use of antibiotics isn't allowed.)
Three labels to be leery of: "antibiotic free," "no antibiotic residues," and "no antibiotic growth promotants." Those are all unapproved claims. 
Gene Dempsey, City Forester
Public Works Sustainability Division
Office - (954) 828-5785  Fax - (954) 828-4745

8 Ways to Green Your Thanksgiving Celebration

The holidays are a time of family, warmth, joy -- and waste. Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, 5 million extra tons of trash are
created each week. It’s easy to reduce your contribution to all that waste -- and greening your Thanksgiving is a great place to start. Here
are eight ideas to get you on your way.
1. Buy organic, local produce.
Support the local economy and the environment by purchasing organic produce for your Thanksgiving feast from a local farmers’ market. Better yet,
participate in the 100-mile Thanksgiving Challenge. Make a meal for your family and friends using only ingredients sourced within 100 miles of your home.
2. Eat natural turkey.
Although turkeys are native to North America, today’s turkeys have little in common with their ancestors. More than 99 percent of turkeys raised in the United
States today are broad-breasted white turkeys. This version is renowned for its large, meaty breast, which has become so big that these turkeys
can’t reproduce on their own and must rely on human intervention to keep their species alive.
Buy a natural turkey this year. Order your family a certified organic heritage turkey, which is raised outdoors, eats a varied diet and has a more succulent flavor than
turkeys raised on factory farms. Find a heritage turkey near you using Local Harvest.
3. Make just enough food.
Although Thanksgiving is a holiday renowned for its leftovers, you should still take extra care not to prepare more food than your family can eat. To
help you plan your Thanksgiving feast, Use Less Stuff came up with this list of the amount of food you should make for each person:
Turkey – 1 pound

Stuffing, green beans, sweet potatoes – 1/4 pound

Cranberry salad – 3 tablespoons

Pie – 1/8 of a 9-inch pie
After the meal, look at the number of guests versus the amount of leftover food and evaluate how much food was consumed. Keep track of your
calculations for next year!
4. Manage leftovers.
Divide up the leftovers between your guests and send them home in reusable containers. If you have more leftovers than your family can manage,
donate them to a local food bank or homeless shelter.
5. Clean house with nontoxic, green cleaners.
If you’re hosting the Thanksgiving celebration (and therefore must clean your house beforehand), be sure to use green cleaning products. Natural
homemade cleaners will also get the job done, and most use basic ingredients already in your cupboard.
6. Use reusable dishes and napkins.
A horde of guests and a kitchen full of dirty pots and pans can make it tempting to set your Thanksgiving table with disposable dishes. Don’t
give in! If you don’t have enough  dishes or china for a crowd, pick up inexpensive used plates, which can be found in thrift stores for $1 or
less. You can set a pretty -- and interesting -- table by selecting mismatched dishes with similar color themes.
If you must use disposable dishes, buy biodegradable and compostable dishes and utensils. Along the same lines, use cloth napkins instead of disposable
7. Make your own centerpiece.
If there’s still room at your table after all the food and dishes have been set, create a homemade centerpiece. Avoid store-bought bouquets
and gather items from nature. In most areas of the country, not much is in bloom, but
cutting bare branches or branches with seasonal berries
adds sculptural interest and connects your table to the season. You can put your hand-picked bouquet in this 60-second vase or this wood chip vase.
8. Drink organic wine.
If wine is part of your Thanksgiving feast, buy organic. Check out Natural Home’s guide to organic wine to get started.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

An Ode To Trees By Billy the Marlin

Why Fish Need Trees:  An Ode To Trees By Billy the Marlin
When you see me frolicking at the Marlins games and hopping in the air every time we hit a home run, you may not guess that fish need trees, but we do.    Check out the top 5 reasons fish depend on trees:
1)     Trees give us oxygen—and yes that means we fish can breathe in water
2)     Trees are cool—by providing shade, they reduce our water and land temperatures
3)     Trees shelter us -- just like you use wood for your home, Snappers, Grunts, Manta Rays and Barracudas use coastal tree roots as nurseries for their eggs and a  hiding place from predators
4)    Trees clean our water and air --without them I'd be swimming in some pretty icky water
5)     Trees feed us --  You may love mangos, oranges and avocados, but guess what? Trees and the wildlife they attract, enrich our soil and provide many nutrients fish need to survive.

Does Ecotourism Hurt or Help?

When critters get used to tourists, they may be less aware of both predators and poachers.

Eco-tourists snorkeling with fish in a Brazilian river (Benjamin Geffroy)
October 14, 2015     
Ecotourism is travel with a purpose: To conserve and contribute to remote communities and delicate ecosystems. And business is booming—tourists can snorkel with whale sharks to fund their protection or help scientists track jaguars in Costa Rica. But a new study shows that this tourism may put animals at risk.
Every year, eight billion tourists throng to protected areas around the globe. "That's like each human on Earth visited a protected area once a year, and then some," study author Daniel Blumstein says in a press release
This impressive statistic made Blumstein, a conservation biologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, question how that many visitors affect the animals. So along with his colleagues, Blumstein evaluated more than 100 studies of wild animals in areas with ecotourism, reports Rebekah Marcarelli for HNGN
This search showed that the animals grow accustomed to human presence. In some cases, reserve managers and ecotourism companies actually facilitate these interactions. For example, park rangers in Uganda’s Kibale National Park visit chimpanzees daily to ensure they make an appearance for the tourists, the researchers write in the paper recently published in the journal Trends in Ecology & Evolution.
"The question we’re asking is, 'Does this mean they become more vulnerable to predators?'" Blumstein tells Jon Gugala for Outside. “The degree to which animals become dumb around humans is a really interesting question."
When people are around, predators are deterred. But when people leave, animals may keep their guard down. The Elk and antelope in the Grand Teton National Park are only one example. These creatures grow accustomed to noise from tourists and their cars, and so they spend less time alert for predators and more time feeding. Birds in urban areas also suffer from acclimation. The city birds are more bold, and as a result, they are more frequently nabbed by sparrowhawks.
But the danger extends beyond regular predators: Researchers also fear that poachers can more easily bag these human-accustomed critters.
Ultimately, this study doesn't prove ecotourism harms wildlife. Still, there’s enough evidence that experts should be concerned, the researchers write. It’s a "rallying cry" for more research, Blumstein tells Christopher Intagliata for Scientific American. Even when people mean well, they could be changing the environment.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Sunday, November 22nd - Fort Lauderdale Residential Tree Giveaway

As part of Open Streets | Fort Lauderdale, there will be a Tree Giveaway for Fort Lauderdale Residents on SE 2nd Avenue just north of East Las Olas Boulevard on Sunday, November 22nd from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.  All City of Fort Lauderdale residents are eligible for two free trees per household.  At least 11 species of trees will be available, including fruit trees.  Tree species include: Bulnesia, Gumbo Limbo, Pigeon Plum, Silver Buttonwood, White Geiger, Live Oak, Jamaican Caper, Lychee, Edible Fig, Avocado and Dwarf Mango.  The trees are 3-gallon nursery stock and are from two to four feet tall.  The streets will be closed to vehicles and the nearest parking to the tree giveaway will be at the City Park Garage at 150 SE 2nd Street.  There is a $5 flat rate parking fee due to the event. 
Bike away with your tree! 
Plan to stay and Discover! Engage! Play! Celebrate! all on one of Fort Lauderdale’s most popular thoroughfares, but without cars. Open Streets Fort Lauderdale and Winterfest Family Fun Day will transform East Las Olas Boulevard into a fun, activity filled "playground" for recreational activities, such as walking, skating, bicycling, dancing, rollerblading, and more.  Check out everything that is going on at

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Riding an Electric Power Bicycle

As time progresses we continue to destroy the environment with the tons of fossil fuels we burn on a daily basis. More and more people are realizing that it's definitely time for us, as a species, to find alternative energy sources that are less destructive to the earth. This need for alternative energy sources has brought about electric cars, solar powered energy sources. Scores of new age windmills. Some ideas are obviously better than others but we can all do our part and start being a bit greener. A great way to do this is to get an electric power bicycle.
Electric bicycles are sweeping through Europe and other areas around the world. The electric power bicycle has gained immense popularity overseas and is starting to pop up all across America as people start realizing this green machine is efficient, cheap. A lot of fun. Electric bicycles have come about due to innovations in modern technology that's allowed the batteries and electrical systems in these bikes to last longer than ever before.
Why are electric bicycles getting so popular? They’re cheap. Electric bikes cost between five hundred and fifteen hundred dollars. This may sound like a lot for a bicycle but you've to take into account the bike’s efficient performance and overall impact on your wallet. Standard electric bicycles have been clocked to run anywhere from fifteen to twenty miles per hour. Some higher powered off road electric bikes have been clocked at over fifty miles per hour. Gas prices constantly rise almost on a day to day basis and cost most people that have to regularly commute one or two hundred dollars a month. The bike will pay for itself well within a year if you start riding an electric bicycle to work instead of driving.
There are a number of different electric power bicycle companies that are quickly becoming brand names in the industry. PEDELEC is the top name in Europe for electric bicycles. All their bikes meet regulations for various countries and have proven to be very family friendly. E-BIKE is the big company in the U.S. for people looking to obtain a quality electric power bicycle.
If you're thinking about getting an electric bicycle keep in mind there are three regulations your bike must meet. It must've standard functioning pedals, your bike can’t go faster than twenty miles per hour. The electric motor can't exceed seven hundred and fifty watts output. Do your part to help save the environment we've left and save some money in the process by getting an electric bicycle today. Do the responsible thing before it's too late to do anything.