Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Change The World Wednesday - Light Pollution

Welcome to Change The World Wednesday (#CTWW)!

Wondering how to live greener? You've come to the right place. Each week we challenge ourselves to try a new task ... or "amp up" something we're already doing. We raise our awareness, learn from each other and develop Eco-friendly skills which will improve our lives and protect our planet. Doing so together gives us power ... the power to Change The World!

If this is your first visit, please click HERE for information and a complete list of all the challenges we've taken on so far.

This post contains great information and I encourage you to read through it at your leisure ... however, if you are short on time, you might find the following quick links helpful:

Last week we stopped the circling madness ... you know the drill ... circling parking lots, looking for the closest space. That practice uses a lot of fuel. So we challenged ourselves to take the first spot in the lot, saving gas and giving us the added benefit of a little exercise. Art and I banned circling from our lives some time ago. Not only do we get a bit of exercise, but we avoid door dings or the frustration of trying to squeeze into a parking space. I never lose the car because it's the one at the end of the lot ... all by itself. What I found especially interesting about this challenge was how pervasive oil is. It's in common products such as aspirin and cosmetics. That was an eye-opener!

The Honor Society are those people who help us spread the "green" word by writing an article about our challenges and/or leaving pertinent comments.

From a previous challenge, I had several conversation with June, who works hard to educate the public on bees. She shared Swarms: The Future Of A Colony, an interesting look at swarms and how we should treat them. Be sure to browse around June's site ... she shares a lot of great information on this topic.

Nelodra stopped by and shared this: "I'm late to the party, but even so, I'd like to tell you I went to the garden centre yesterday and bought as many flowering plants as I could to plant in my front yard." It's never too late, Leah ... the bees thank you!

Here's a little secret ... Argentum Vulgaris (AV) isn't anti-vegetarian. Wow! In fact, in this week's Change the World Wednesday – 30th Apr post, he shares a link to a recipe for cashew cream. Mmm! But I digress, AV also discusses our current challenge. He doesn't drive but took on the second half of the task. Here are a few hints about how he did: 1) he doesn't like a certain kind of woman, 2) he has a "condition" preventing the use of hair colors, and 3) dengue fever requires the use of spray in his home. Go on ... I know you want to read that post!

This week's post by Lois, Change the World Wednesday: Multiple Choice, is just fascinating. She begins by talking about oil-pulling. No, it's not exactly about our challenge but it's really interesting and worth reading. She then gives readers an accounting of her CTWW efforts. If you know Lois, then you know she's met the challenge in a brilliant fashion. There is one area which isn't quite "there". Can you guess what it is? Check it out!

Some of our "regulars" don't drive. So when I post this kind of challenge, I work hard to find something else which might be a challenge for them. I knew that EcoGrrl would fly by the first part. Here's how she did on the rest of the task: "6+ years now without a car (and with a Car2Go carsharing super easy to find parking 'cuz the cars are so teeny tiny!) So to respond to your suggestions:
* Buy local products - heck yeah I do!
* Go "Scent Free" or use essential oils - Yancy Lael's coconut vanilla body balm is all I use, made in her home!
* STOP using plastic bags! - yup. (Folks, bring your bag when you go clothes/misc shopping too, not just to the grocer!)
* Air dry your clothing - in summer/fall I use the clothesline but my laundry room in the basement is too humid for line drying indoors.
* Choose natural, Eco-friendly cosmetics - I don't wear cosmetics!
* Switch to soy-based printing inks - I don't know if soy is much better than petrol, honestly, as rainforests are cut down to grow soybeans and most are GMO. My action instead is always in printing as little as possible - I've had the same toner cartridge for 2 years in my printer :)
* Say "NO" to nylon and polyester - and they make you sweaty!
* Avoid aspirin - didn't know it, but I don't use it anyhow. It's usually weather or wine-based, and water cures the latter :)
* Avoid hair color and opt for a natural dye like henna ... or just go natural! - I use organic hair color, Whole Foods has some nice eco options :)
* Grow and/or buy organic foods - done!"

Woe is me ... looks like I'll have to work harder to truly challenge people like EcoGrrl!

Betsy accepted our challenge and shares one exception to the no-circling rule: "My husband and I often laugh about people who do this. Although I will tell you that I do take a bit more time and care to find a space that will limit my kids' exposure to cars when I have my 3 little ones in tow. Often I just park next to the carts -- usually lots of spots there." Perfectly understandable, Betsy, and I like that, even though you park a bit closer, you have a plan which prevents hunting for a spot.

Katie accepted the challenge and had a few opportunities to try out a new parking strategy. She wrote Don't Circle, Park and Walk [#CTWW] and came to a pretty stunning conclusion about taking the first spot in the lot.

Clare joined us and shared this: "Lots of challenges this week! OK, circling is no problem, I don't do it (don't have the patience or time - drive in, find the first spot, take it). Local products - I do what I can but a horribly large % of goods are imported to a tiny island where there's little or no industry. Perfume - no problem. Plastic bags - ah, my big bug-bear. The larger stores now charge for them so that's helped with the litter issue here. I bring bags with me all the time, no problem there (to other places as well as grocery stores as noted by EcoGrrl) but one store won't accept my re-usable bags for fresh produce - an ongoing discussion with management. Not too much choice of other shops either, otherwise I'd boycott them. Air drying clothes is dead easy here, cosmetics no problem, and definitely no synthetic clothes in this heat (although I suppose there might be little bits of trimming or decoration that aren't natural fibre). Hair is fine, and I grow organically but can buy very little organic produce. OK, so some of the things are beyond my control (short of moving off the island!) but always room for improvement, every day. I never cease to be amazed at how pervasive oil / petroleum is in our lives. You've done a great job of highlighting where we use it, and here are some more And of course all our plastic comes from oil, and it's everywhere. Is it any wonder we're so dependent on fossil fuels?"

Alicia joined the party. She shared this, "I also don't do the circling thing. I just park and get out and walk. I always feel good about the extra exercise I am getting! We use recycled bags, try to buy most things local, we hang lots of our clothes out to be air dried especially heavy bath towels. I quit using hair color four years ago after I read about all of the harmful chemicals in them. All of our health and beauty products are all organic and chemical free and we only use essential oils. I just bought a new reusable water bottle that is suppose to keep things cold for 12 hours and hot for 8 hours. It is purple and soy ink was used on it!" By the way, Alicia is hosting a giveaway of her fabulous Eco Natural Soap products. They are truly awesome (check out my review HERE). So, click over to her site and enter.

Our Twitter friend, @GiveTreeGifts, joined the conversation and shared the following:

-Also, the closer you park, the more congested it gets with foot traffic and vehicle traffic

The #CTWW Gang are those folks who tweet our challenges using the hashtag #CTWW. If you're a Twitter member, I recommend following them ... they share great things. Let's meet them:

@allnaturalkatie @anitaadamsnc @cellomomoncars
@charismayoonyh @cleannergyphoto @counselorholley
@daft_crafts @debsmikdav1 @dehoeksteen
@ecothrifty @erbaviva @factorydpromos
@familybetty @frederickbrooke @freshcleanersaz
@freshgriller @givetreegifts @green_vibes
@herbgir1972 @hismerecry @jamiastarheart
@junestoyer @kaitlingarder @kanelstrand
@kiser_krafts @krmbalclothing @laalicia
@lu_and_ed @magnushrm @marikokoloco
@michaelinla3 @mistiwithani @mitlamoda
@momfindsout @mommacuisine @nolafusion
@pamela_o_plays @pberk @pinecone_grove
@proamusa @rckweddings @rulesofgreen
@sbs_brands @sensuouspromos @sfcouncil
@soulfullab @sowandso @superbsolutions
@susanheaney @treesgroup @twicecreations
@veggiebeet @witteeme

My Final Thoughts:

As with many of our challenges, this one reminded me that green living is about thoughtfully considering the environmental impact of all that we do. Margaret J. Wheatley said, "Thinking is the place where intelligent actions begin. We pause long enough to look more carefully at a situation, to see more of its character, to think about why it's happening, to notice how it's affecting us and others." A little thought, combined with action, has tremendous power ... the power to change the world.

Thanks, everyone! If you wrote an article, I Stumbled, Tweeted, Facebooked and posted it on Google +. You can help spread the "green" word by using the share features located below this post.

This Week's Challenge:

Change The World Wednesday - Light Pollution
Artificial light can affect
organisms and the ecosystem
Did you know that artificial outdoor lights affect the environment? Beyond the use of energy, they affect plants and animals.

Some species of spiders love artificial light because it attracts bugs and makes it easy to hunt. Unfortunately, that gives the spider an unnatural advantage, causing spider populations to grow disproportionately to their prey.

Sea turtles are drawn to street lights, believing them to be the light of the moon. They crawl in the wrong direction and are often killed as they cross streets.

Night-time light can interfere with the ability of moths and other nocturnal insects to navigate, in turn affecting night-blooming flowers which depend on moths for pollination.

And here's a shocking fact: according to estimates by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4-5 million birds are killed, each year, when they are attracted to the lights of tall towers.

Good news ... light pollution is totally preventable! Here's your challenge ...

This week, reduce light pollution. Here are some suggestions:
  • Turn off indoor lighting which isn't necessary. In rooms where lights are required, be sure to close the curtains so that the glow doesn't escape outdoors.
  • Install a motion detector on outdoor security lighting.
  • Use lights only when necessary ... avoid dusk-to-dawn lighting (for example, a porch light doesn't need to be on all night).
  • Lower the wattage on outdoor lights (a 300 watt flood light is not necessary).
  • Light only what needs to be lit. For example, if you need a front porch light, be sure that it lights the door and not the entire yard.
  • Use full cutoff, low-glare fixtures (also called night sky friendly outdoor lighting fixtures). These fixtures direct the light to the ground. They typically have a cap, on top, which restricts the glow from affecting the sky or other areas.
  • Instead of a light for your driveaway, consider reflectors.
  • Share information on your blog and/or with your friends ... many people don't know the problems with light pollution.

Let's darken the night sky. Are you with me? I know that you are!

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Change The World Wednesday on Reduce Footprints

Sneak Peek: Tomorrow, on the next edition of "My Vegan Life", I'll share my reasons for not eating honey.

Until then ...