This is the latest news, victories, investigations and events happening in your community and around the world for the environment. There are also articles on things some wonderful folks are going to do and have accomplished.

African Farmers Are Creating Forest Gardens and “Planting it Forward”

African Farmers Are Creating Forest Gardens and “Planting it Forward”

In arid and degraded areas of Sub Saharan Africa, farmers who were barely able to provide for their families are now creating abundant forest gardens and “planting it forward” as they pass on successful techniques to their neighbors.

Working with agroforestry experts and volunteers from Trees for the Future, an Aid for Africa member organization, farmers in West Africa are turning small unproductive fields into veritable oases of fruits and vegetables.

One plant-it-forward scenario begins with Omar in Senegal. Thirteen years ago, he inherited about two acres (one hectare) of land with a few trees, shrubs and peanut plants. Income from this field was about $200 a year. Working with Trees for the Future, Omar began to add fast-growing trees with deep roots to improve soil quality and thorny acacia trees around the border to keep out grazing animals and harsh winds. Omar then intercropped vegetable plants and fruit trees. Within four years, Omar’s forest garden produced fruits, vegetables and tree products and an income of $1,000 a year.

Determined to spread his knowledge to others, Omar worked with Trees for the Future to provide seed and technical advice to his neighbor Keba, a 52-year-old peanut farmer who was struggling to make a living on land that was depleted from 50 years of peanut farming. Today, Keba’s land, which is surrounded by more than a thousand thorny bushes, produces a variety of crops including hot peppers, jujube berries and cashew nuts. In the past, he was lucky to earn $200 a year. Today, he earns that amount in a month from selling his hot peppers.

Keba too wanted to “plant it forward” and share his knowledge with another local farmer. The result—another thriving sustainable forest garden where there once was a degraded peanut field. Through example and word of mouth, farmers in the region continue to help each other find a better way to feed their families and rise out of poverty.

Trees for the Future has worked with more than 300,000 families throughout Africa and other parts of the world to help them return degraded land to sustainable production. John Leary, Trees for the Future’s executive director, has seen what happens when farmers “plant it forward.”

“In a place where difficulties abound, the worst thing to lose is hope. This farmer-to-farmer relationship of planting it forward brings cooperation, learning, teaching and hope…” he said.

Learn more about Trees for the Future and how they are working with African farmers to plant it forward.

Read more:

Monarch Butterflies Need Federal Protection to Keep Them From Disappearing

Monarch Butterflies Need Federal Protection to Keep Them From Disappearing

As monarch butterflies are beginning their epic migration from Canada and the U.S. to Mexico for the winter, concerns about the drastic rate at which they’re disappearing from the landscape have led environmental and health organizations to petition the government for federal protection.

This week, the Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Food Safety, Xerces Society and monarch scientist Dr. Lincoln Brower filed a legal petition with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service seeking protection for monarchs under the Endangered Species Act.

“Monarchs are in a deadly free fall and the threats they face are now so large in scale that Endangered Species Act protection is needed sooner rather than later, while there is still time to reverse the severe decline in the heart of their range,” Brower, who has been studying the species since 1954, said in a statement.

According to the petitioners, monarchs have declined by a shocking 90 percent in less than 20 years and “may have lost more than 165 million acres of habitat ― an area about the size of Texas ― including nearly a third of their summer breeding grounds.” Last winter, the numbers of these iconic butterflies reached a record low, raising worries about their future survival.

According to the Xerces Society, in the 1990s, an estimated one billion monarchs made their way from the north to the oyamel fir forests where they spend their winters sheltered by the trees, while another million were believed to spend the winter at sites in California. Now, scientists believe there are only 33 million left.

Tierra Curry, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity, likened the loss to losing every living person in the United States except those in Florida and Ohio.

For these fragile little insects, surviving a migration that spans thousands of miles is difficult enough with existing threats of predators, parasites and severe weather, but their greatest threats now are a result of human activity.

Scientists believe the widespread use of herbicides and pesticides, illegal logging in Mexico and a loss of milkweed – the only plant that monarchs lay eggs on and the only plant the caterpillars will eat – have all played a role in their severe decline.

According to the Center for Biological Diversity, “Scientists have predicted that the monarch’s entire winter range in Mexico and large parts of its summer range in the states could become unsuitable due to changing temperatures and increased risk of drought, heat waves and severe storms.”

Protection under the ESA would not only make it illegal to kill these beautiful butterflies, but it will also mean no one can modify their habitat without a permit and that they will get designated critical habitat needed for their survival. Next the FWS will issue a “90-day finding” to see if the petition is warranted and if it comes back in their favor, it will do a one-year status review.

NRDC -- People’s Climate March

On September 21 -- exactly one month from today -- hundreds of thousands of activists will take to the streets of New York City in the People’s Climate March to demand global action on climate change.

More than 1,400 NRDC activists like you have already pledged to join us on September 21. If you’re still on the fence, I urge you to watch our inspirational 30-second video right now:

Climate March Video

I know you don’t live in New York -- so if you can’t take to the streets yourself, please help us spread the word about this historic event by forwarding this email and encouraging your friends and family in the New York area to sign up.

Click here to watch our video and let us know you’ll be there.

Once we know you’re coming, we’ll follow up before the big day with more details about the March, including how to meet up with us and your fellow NRDC supporters.

September 21 is fast approaching. I hope you’ll seize the opportunity to join the largest climate mobilization in U.S. history -- and march proudly alongside us in the fight for a more livable planet.

Thank you for being part of this incredible movement.

An Undeniable Link: Glacial Melt and Man-Made Climate Change

While many of our politicians continue to deny man-made climate change is a reality, new figures reveal that human-caused climate warming may be the single biggest driving force behind recent glacial melt.

There’s a reason why we have the phrase “a glacial pace.” Everything about glaciers is slow, so even though we know they are melting due to the warming climate, it’s hard to get a fix on just how rapid that melting process is, when it began in earnest and, crucially, whether man-made climate change can be shown to have exacerbated the melting, and to what extent.

Now researchers from Canadian and Austrian university and publishing this month in the journal Science Express have been able to conduct a systematic analysis of data on glacial melt that is collected as part of the Randolph Glacier Inventory (RGI) initiative. The researchers say that glaciers actually provide a very neat way of looking at climate change because their responses are so slow to manifest. As a result, the researchers could, and with some accuracy, estimate the state of the glaciers as far back as 1851, and then begin to calculate the speed of glacial melt from there, adjusting for known reasons why melting may have slowed or sped up other than natural causes or what we’d call man-made climate change.

The figures showed that man-made climate change could be tracked over several decades, exacerbating standard melting patterns. What’s more, over the past couple of decades there has been a sharp upturn in glacial melt that the researchers believe is consistent with our modern manufacturing boom. In fact, they believe they can say that man-made global warming, and mainly the burning of fossil fuels such as oil and coal for energy, may be responsible for as much 69 percent of the glacial melt between 1991 to 2010.

To put that in more solid terms, the researchers were able to create a rough estimate for just how much ice is melting every year. They think that around 295 billion tons of ice melts every year due to human-linked climate change compared to just 130 billion tons related to natural causes.

Still, due to the way in which these figures were calculated based on estimates, there is a sizable margin for error on this and we do have to take that into account. Taking just the 1991 to 2010 figure as an example, the human contribution to glacier melt may be as low as 45 percent, or it could even be as high as 93 percent, but the researchers believe that the evidence suggests the 69 percent figure is probably closer to the real value. What isn’t in dispute here is the contribution of man-made climate change which, even at the lower end of the spectrum, remains considerable and worrying.

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Yosemite National Park by Alyssa Winan for See America

Almost 98 years ago, Congress passed the Organic Act, creating the National Park Service on August 25, 1916.

Help us celebrate by signing our birthday card for the Park Service … and share your thoughts and hopes for our parks for their upcoming centennial in two short years. We’ll then share your comments with the Park Service Centennial Office!

Did you know? When the National Park Service was created, it already oversaw 14 national parks and 21 national monuments. Today, 401 sites make up this unique, unparalleled system that was enjoyed last year by 273 million visitors, contributed more than $26 billion to local economies, and supported 240,000 jobs. That’s a lot to celebrate!

Please share your thoughts and hopes for the parks with us as we celebrate this year’s anniversary and look ahead to the fast-approaching centennial in 2016.


Clark Bunting, NPCA President and CEO

Good morning weekly readers! We have migrated our Newsletter over to Mailchimp, which gives me more flexibility and won't be as ugly as last week's was. There are lots of new features that I hope you like and as always, you can complain right here. 

Katherine lives in what most North Americans would call a very small house; Here's how she does it with two little kids underfoot. And DON'T READ THE COMMENTS!

How I'm raising a family in a 1,200 sq. foot home

Lucy locked her bike to a post in public space and came back to find it had been solid. She was shocked to find out who took it:

Private real estate company steals bikes from public property in front of their buildings

Brooklyn lofts are expensive! In thi.s one, artists built two tiny houses inside one so that they could rent it out on AirBnB. Book me in

Artists create a tiny house in a loft

My mom has spices in her cupboard that are as old as I am. Now I can tell her what to do with them!

7 uses for expired spices

Derek lives in a warm climate and I wondered how many of these we could grow in the north, but it seems that most of these can be grown just about anywhere.

7 Superfruits you can grow at home

Strong, inexpensive and quick to grow, there is a lot of potential for bamboo to replace other building materials, and this complex of 80-foot wide bamboo domes is but one example.

Soaring domes built with bamboo, the new "green steel"

This is a stair that never ends, It just goes on and on my friends; some people started building it not knowing what it was, and they'll continue building it forever just because...

Stair of the week coils up through entire 921 square foot house

Earth911 Logo August 15th, 2014
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It’s easy, in a world of constant information and change, to lose sight of the things that are right in front of our faces. For instance, there is so much news about the proposed Keystone XL pipeline project that people don’t pay attention to the pipelines that we already have in place, many of which are nearly 50 years old.


Zero Waste Dining

Can you imagine trash-free living? Zero waste lifestyles focus on living without creating trash in the process. A zero-waste lifestyle seems quite unattainable, but as you can tell, it might be something to aspire to, especially when the Earth is already struggling with all of the waste we’re creating.


Rock Me Like a Hurricane

Today’s modern appliances and household technology are coming online at a staggering pace. Many of these new technologies are about giving us remote control (remember in the 90’s when we all were out on some sort of “vision quest” searching Radio Shack backrooms for that perfect universal remote control that could control our VCR, TV and that banging “Pioneer” stereo system we bought off that guy in the mall parking lot, and there was always some rumor of a town about 40 minutes away that had one?) via our mobile device over temperature, settings and functions while snorkeling with the last remaining emperor penguins off the coast of Antarctica.


Curious Marmot Interrupts Greenpeace Video With Most Adorable Photobomb Ever

Wild animals have had some hilarious reactions to discovering cameras set up to watch them, and one curious little marmot in Montana who decided to step into a project dedicated to protecting its home is no exception.

Members of Greenpeace USA had set out to make a timelapse video of a stunning valley in Glacier National Park to raise awareness about climate change and how it’s impacting the park’s shrinking glaciers and alpine tundra. Instead, they got something that’s arguably even better – a kiss from a marmot.

Writing on Facebook, the group said, ‘Though we didn’t capture the timelapse video of Glacier National Park that we intended to, we captured something much cooler…Marmot Love.’

Even though the adorableness factor of the video is off the charts, the underlying message is sobering. The video was intended to be part of the organization’s campaign to ‘Keep our coal in the ground,’ which is raising awareness about climate change and the problems with the federal coal leasing program, in addition to raising opposition against the Department of the Interior (DOI) and Bureau of Land Management for auctioning off our public land for coal mining.

How Meat Consumption Threatens the Environment. The planet and its wildlife need us to reduce our meat consumption.

Meat production is one of the main drivers of environmental degradation globally, and the crisis is rapidly growing worse. Production of beef, poultry, pork and other meats tripled between 1980 and 2010 and will likely double again by 2020. This ever-increasing meat consumption in a world of more than 7 billion people is already taking a staggering toll on wildlife, habitat, water resources, air quality and the climate. And Americans eat more meat per capita than almost anyone else. By eating less or no meat, we can take extinction off our plates and improve our own health along with the health of the planet.

Livestock vs. Wildlife

From wolves to elk to prairie dogs, wild animals pay the price of meat production. Some are killed because they prey on cows; others die en masse to make room for agricultural operations; still more are put in harm’s way by pollution and greenhouse gas emissions that exacerbate climate change.
Learn More

Climate Change

According to the United Nations, meat production is responsible for 14.5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions — more than all forms of transportation combined. Nearly 60 percent of the carbon footprint of the average U.S. household diet comes from animal products.

Learn More

Habitat Loss, Water Use and Pollution

The 500 million tons of manure produced annually by U.S. livestock is just the beginning: Animal agriculture has taken over nearly half the landmass of the lower 48 states. And it has polluted 35,000 miles of rivers in 22 states and groundwater in 17 states.

Learn More

Right now the Obama administration is deciding whether to allow future offshore oil and gas drilling off our coasts.

The administration has a crucial choice to make: It could give the green light to reckless oil drilling companies, like Shell and BP, or it could decide to protect our planet and our precious wildlife by putting an end to offshore drilling once and for all.

This decision will impact the future of offshore drilling off U.S. coasts for decades to come, so it’s critical that the administration gets it right and puts an end to fossil fuel drilling. This crucial public comment period closes on August 15, so we need to fight back now.

Tell the Obama administration: No offshore drilling! Submit a public comment now.

President Obama's Environmental Protection Agency is finally starting to crack down on carbon pollution from existing coal plants in a limited way. But at the same time, the president has continued to allow increased oil and gas drilling, which has undermined his already insufficient climate policies.

Big Oil companies like Shell and BP want to drill for every last drop of oil. But both companies have already proven with their spills and accidents that offshore drilling is far too risky and can not be done safely.

Oil and gas companies are already lobbying the Obama administration behind the scenes. But if thousands of us demand that the administration say no to new leasing for gas and oil, we can provide a powerful counterpoint to their oil-soaked lobbyists.

We only have a few days until this crucial public comment period closes. Please submit your public comment now telling the Obama administration not to allow any new dangerous oil and gas drilling off our coasts.

Tell the Obama administration: No offshore drilling! Click the link below to submit a public comment:

Thanks for fighting to stop dangerous oil and gas drilling.

Josh Nelson, Campaign Manager
CREDO Action from Working Assets

Add your name:

Take action now ►

Learn more about this campaign


Saving Shores Saves Money

Trunk Bay at Virgin Islands National Park.Close your eyes and imagine a national park. Did you think of mountains, towering redwoods, dense forests, or perhaps the sublime rock formations at places like the Grand Canyon? What many people don’t immediately associate with national parks are the sandy beaches, sapphire waters, and sparkling vistas of the coastal world. Surprisingly, one in four national park areas has a coast. The […]

Overcoming Barriers in the Southwest

The Hispanic Access Foundation connects Latino youth with national parks in the Southwest.Will future generations love national parks as much as we do? It’s a question that is as old as the parks themselves, and one that will be asked as long as parks exist. How do we make sure future Americans care about our parks? How do we do it when the face of America is […]

10 Spectacular Parks for Stargazing

The night sky over Death Valley National Park.As the days get shorter, stargazers have more opportunities to celebrate the night—and national parks offer some of the darkest skies in the country. If you have trouble seeing the stars from where you live, you’re not alone. Urban areas have become so bright that more than 80 percent of the U.S. population can no longer see […]

To read more:

15 Surprising Uses for Toilet Paper Tubes

15 Surprising Uses for Toilet Paper Tubes

When you finish a roll of toilet paper or paper towels, do you toss the cardboard tube into the recycle bin? Check out these awesome ways to reuse them instead!

The average American family uses around 240 rolls of toilet paper per year – around 20 12-packs. That’s a lot of cardboard headed to the recycle bin or the landfill. Recycling your cardboard paper tubes is good, but reusing them is even better, since you get to skip the energy use and waste produced in a paper recycling plant.

I know, crafting with toilet paper tubes might seem a little bit gross. If that idea squicks you out, you can cut paper towel tubes down to use in these projects instead. For what it’s worth, I’ve been using toilet paper tubes in craft projects for years without any problems, but I totally understand if you’d rather avoid crafting with something that lived in your bathroom. It’s all about your comfort level!

We keep a little basket on a shelf in the bathroom to stash empty toilet paper rolls for crafting. Some of the toilet paper tube ideas below use a single roll and some involve a few rolls. Take a gander, and decide how many rolls you need to save up to start crafting!

15 Ways to Reuse Toilet Paper Tubes (or Paper Towel Tubes)

These play rockets all use toilet paper or paper towel tubes as the foundation.

15 Ways to Reuse Toilet Paper Tubes (or Paper Towel Tubes)

1. DIY Rocket – A toilet paper or paper towel tube is the perfect base for making an upcycled play rocket.

2. Play Megaphone – I can’t call this a craft, really, but it’s a game that my 17-month-old LOVES. Grab a toilet paper or paper towel tube for each of you, and talk into one of the open ends. He loves how it distorts our voices!

3. Faux Christmas Lights – Think LED lights are an eco-friendly Christmas decoration? Check out these totally upcycled lights made from toilet paper tubes!

4. Make an Eyeglass Holder – This is such a cute, simple transformation!

5. Quick, Easy Cat Toy – Raid your crafty stash to transform an old toilet paper roll into hours of entertainment for your kitty.

15 Toilet Paper Roll Crafts

photo by Emma Craig

6. Heart Stamp for Kids – The photo above is pretty self-explanatory. Fold your tube, dunk in paint, and let your kids stamp to their hearts’ contents!

7. Faux Wrought Iron – You seriously need to see this. It uses a technique called quilling to transform paper tubes into a beautiful art piece.

8. DIY Bathroom Deodorizer – A few drops of essential oil inside of a toilet paper tube will diffuse and make your bathroom smell great.

9. Paper Tube Garden – This is another fun one for kids. Younger kids may need a little bit of help tracing and cutting, but any kid will be proud to display her paper tube garden on a windowsill!

10. Gnomes – How cute are these little gnomes made from a toilet paper tube and conical paper cup? If you’d rather make this completely upcycled, you can make a cone out of scrap paper instead of using the cup.

15 Toilet Paper Roll Crafts

photo by Alice Keeler

11. Make an Organizer – Nestle toilet paper tubes or cut-in-half paper towel tubes into a box to organize things like pens, pencils, paint brushes, or anything else tall, skinny, and tough to wrangle.

12. Cat in the Hat Puppet – Turn an old paper tube into a pop-up puppet for some Dr. Seuss-themed fun.

13. Candle Cover – Do you have those electric Christmas “candles?” Turn them into something cute and unique with cut toilet paper tubes.

14. Marble Slide – Toilet paper and paper towel tubes combine with a few other simple materials to create this fun kid’s activity.

15. String Lights – Do you like the look of covered string lights but dislike the price tag? Grab a strand of LED lights and create your own custom covers from toilet paper rolls.

12 Surprising Uses for Milk & Milk Containers

Around the House.

1. DIY Dustpan. Cutting a milk jug just so makes a great dustpan, with handle and everything! Click here for detailed instructions.

2. Clean Linoleum Floors. Adding a capful of skim milk to your regular floor wash will help shine your linoleum floors.

3. Sooth Hot Pepper Burn on Your Eyes. It happens to the best of us: you’re making salsa, minding your own business, and, all of a sudden, you get the urge to soothe your itchy eye. But if you have that spicy pepper oil on your fingers, forget it! You’re in for a terrible, stinging pain. Luckily, though, you’re not stuck that way. Just as drinking milk will help soothe a too-spicy taste in your mouth, rinsing your eyes with the stuff will help soothe that too-spicy feeling in your eyes. Pour some in a shot glass or small cup and gently rinse the pain away.

4. Use As Storage Containers. Cut the tops off of your milk jugs and use them to store anything and everything — kitchen utensils and office supplies, bulk foods and garden mulch. Just make sure to wash the containers well before using!

Health and Beauty.

5. Get Rid of Garlic Breath. Enjoying some tasty Italian food but can’t get that garlic taste out of your mouth? Try drinking a glass of milk. Studies have shown that milk reduces those stinky compounds more effectively than even brushing your teeth!

6. Clean Ultra-Dirty Hands. If you’ve gotten your hands so dirty that regular soap just isn’t working, try washing them with a paste made of milk and oatmeal. This combination is a heavy-duty cleaner.

7. Exfoliate Skin. If it’s good enough for Cleopatra, it’s good enough for you! The lactic acid in skin is strong enough to exfoliate your skin, but much more gentle than other DIY or store-bought products. You can add a little milk to your face washing routine, or even pour some into your bath along with essential oils — lavender is a great option.

8. Sooth a Sunburn. Forgot your sunblock? Get a washcloth wet with some cold skim milk and apply directly to the burn. It’ll help soothe the pain, and cut down on pain yet to come.


Crafts, Projects, Gardening and More.

9. DIY Container Pots. No need to go out and buy containers — a well-washed milk jug with the lid cut off will do just fine.

10. DIY Watering Can. Another great way to re-use old milk jugs in the garden is by turning them into makeshift watering cans. And it’s so easy — all you need to do is poke several small holes into the cap.

11. DIY Camping Light. This is genius! A milk jug filled with water can help you radiate light emitted from a headlamp. Just place the headlamp around the jug and — voila! — you’ll have a great, far-reaching light source.

12. Prevent Mildew. Stop powdery mildew before it starts with the help of some whole milk. It’s a safe, natural and effective fungicide treatment for many plants, pumpkins, cucumbers and zucchinis in particular.



Audubon logo | ACTION ALERT
arrow pointing at letter
Cerulean Warbler | Mdf/Wikimedia Commons

Cerulean Warblers, which are declining at one of the fastest rates of any North American songbird, are being harmed by the loss of mature hardwood forests for biomass fuel production.

Urge the Environmental Protection Agency to stop the destruction of vital forest habitats.

Take Action


Mature forests are being cut down to create wood pellets that will fuel power plants, destroying important bird habitat AND increasing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has an opportunity to protect these vital forests with a new rule that will spell out what types of resources can be used for renewable biomass fuel. Let's be clear—burning whole trees from native forest ecosystems harms birds like Cerulean and Prothonotary Warblers and should not be seen as a way to fuel our power plants when we have truly clean alternatives available.

We expect the EPA to announce its new rule in the next few weeks. Send an urgent message today: tell the EPA to protect our forests.

The use of biomass as a fuel source is supposed to help reduce global warming, but not all biomass is created equal. In fact, clear-cutting mature forests to produce biomass fuel will actually increase the amount of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere because while live trees trap and store carbon dioxide, when they are burned all of that stored carbon is released.



CREDO Mobilize
CNBC must apologize for misleading viewers about climate change.

Last week, the cable television business channel CNBC was caught seeking out an economist, and known climate change denier, to write an article about the "global warming hoax."

Cindy Perman, the commentary editor of, mistakenly sent an email to DeSmogBlog inviting climate change denier Alan Carlin to write an article about the "global warming hoax" on CNBC's website.

CNBC should be reporting the news, not making the news. By soliciting an article specifically to deny the science behind climate change the network clearly crossed a line. We have to hold CNBC accountable for actively misleading its viewers. That's why I started my own campaign on, which allows activists to start their own petitions. My petition, which is to CNBC Managing Editor Allen Wastler, says the following:

For years now, scientists at major institutions have proven that climate change is happening and that fossil fuel emissions from our factories, cars and electricity generation are to blame. And we are already seeing the impacts in the form of more wildfires, droughts and other extreme weather-related events.

When it comes to issues of science, media outlets such as CNBC have a responsibility to report their stories based on what scientists have concluded and not seek out commentary from non-scientists just for the sake of providing a counterpoint no matter how clearly false.

This isn't CNBC's first offense. Last year, a Media Matters for America report found that, "more than half of CNBC's climate change coverage was misleading. Twenty-four out of the 47 substantial mentions or segments on climate change on CNBC, or just over 51 percent of coverage, cast doubt on whether manmade climate change existed."

A year later and it looks like nothing has changed at CNBC, as it is actively seeking out non-scientists to make the false claim that global warming is a hoax. This isn’t reporting the news. This is creating the news. Climate change denial isn’t only patently false, it’s dangerous and a clear betrayal of the public trust.

Click here to read more: Will you join me and add your name to my petition urging CNBC Managing Editor Allen Wastler to apologize for his network's misleading coverage of climate change?




3200 Years in One Photo

 'The President' has earned it. This giant sequoia stands at 247 feet tall, and is estimated to be over 3,200 years old. Imagine, this tree was already 1200 years old when Jesus walked the earth. The trunk of the president measures at 27 feet across, with 2 billion needles from base to top.


Fireworks, the Environment and the Fourth



I know what you’re already thinking: I’m here to ruin your Fourth of July celebration. Not so, fair reader. You know I’m the nice one (my cohorts never let us forget it) and the nice one doesn’t set out to ruin things for you…other than cheeseburgers. There’s really no way I’d ruin your Independence Day festivities.



Updating the Grid

Shrimp Bioplastic

With all this plastic piling up on Earth, one of the biggest issues we face is recycling and sustainability. We’re producing so much plastic without making it truly resourceful and the excess is choking our fish and affecting our waste levels. 


Bureo Skateboards Recycle Fishnets

Who needs two living rooms and a media room? Smaller is better. Shifts in the economy and environmental issues like climate change have led many people to seek out a life lived within their means. Yet, other folks have taken it a step further with tiny houses.





There is an alternative to building more towers and more subways to pack everyone into New York City. Move to Buffalo.


The rust belt cities around the Great Lakes and the Erie Canal have great bones. It's time to fill them out a bit.


A cute little camper is made out of green materials like beetle-killed pine.


Mmmm butter.  This fabulous moisturizer has only 4 ingredients and will make your skin soft, smooth, and supple.


This interactive map of "falling fruit" for foragers is just amazing, I checked it out and found three trees right across the street from my house.


Nutritional yeastalso known as "hippie dust" in Derek's house, is a staple for Zach. Here's a quick rundown of its benefits and 11 ways to use it.



This totally tubular home is built out of an expired Boeing 727 jet. 


I don't know what you do with it in the first place, But  Katherine offers us 21 ways to repurpose a yoga mat.


There's no such thing as waste, it's just useful stuff in the wrong place. That's been the TreeHugger party line for years. Now Derek joins the party.


5 Plants You Can Grow from Your Garbage!

Instead of throwing out the undesirable ends of freshly chopped organic veggies, why not put them to use! Americans throw away billions of dollars of food every year, so get the most for your money. Many of the veggie discards you usually throw out can actually be used to grow more crops. Here are 5 relatively easy ones that will extend your organic buck.

Onions. Green onions are extremely easy to propagate. When you chop the roots off of green onions, place them in a bowl of water with a little bit of the green shaft sticking above the surface. Set them in a warm, sunny area and continue to add water as the plants grow taller. Once the roots are big enough, gently untangle them and transplant them into a pot in your sunny kitchen or your outdoor garden. You must transplant them, as they need the nutrients from the soil to keep growing. Red and white onions can also be revitalized in a similar manner.

Celery. Stop throwing away the root bases of your celery! Freshly cut root bases can re-grow and yield an entirely new crop! Simply set the base in a glass of shallow water in the window and watch shoots reappear. Then, you can transplant it into a pot or garden and watch your “garbage” celery grow into a delicious new crop.

Sweet potatoes. Just like white potatoes, sweet potatoes spout with “eyes.” Bury the sweet potato under a thin layer of moist soil in a sunny location. Shoots take a week to appear, and once they reach about 4 inches high, you can cut them off and replant them about a foot apart. With any luck, in 4 months you’ll have homegrown, organic sweet taters! Beware, if you plant them outside, keep and eye out for slugs, who also are partial to delicious sweet potatoes.

Ginger root. Ginger is surprisingly easy to grow from leftover chunks of a knob. Place a small bit of the root in a pot of soil with the smallest buds pointing skywards. Place the pot in a moist environment with filtered sunlight and let it grow. Ginger plants are very attractive in the house. When you need a new ginger root, dig up the entire plant, harvest the root, and cut off a small bit to pot and plant again for the next time you need ginger.

Romaine lettuce. Check out this video and learn how easy it is to repurpose your romaine stubs. The heart can re-grow, and since organic lettuces are often pretty pricey, it is a great way to save cash on those delicious summer salads.

Other foods that you can salvage include white potatoes, sprouting garlic, and even pineapple. Be warned; conventional plants probably won’t regrow, so be sure to invest in high quality organic produce. Stop wasting your food and your money. Make the most of your organic veggies and have fun in the process!

Read more:


A Victory for Virunga Africa!

Breaking News:SOCO International plc announced it will abandon its controversial oil exploration in Africa's Virunga National Park, a key part of the home range for more than half of the world's endangered mountain gorillas and a vital natural resource to hundreds of thousands of people.

Not only did the London-listed oil company commit to pulling out of Virunga, but it went one step further: It has committed to staying out of all other World Heritage sites.

It's with great pride and relief for the people and wildlife of Virunga National Park that I'm writing to you directly from the Democratic Republic of Congo in Africa to say: we did it!

You helped us make this happen, and we cannot be more grateful. From petitioning SOCO to encouraging leaders in the US Congress to stand up and protect Virunga National Park, you've continued to speak out for what's right.

Thank you for believing in this campaign and taking action to make a difference.

This victory is being celebrated around the world. And it is being met with well-deserved joy and hope by many of the people I am with in Africa. We are grateful for your continued activism and the leadership and efforts of the US State Department and members of Congress on this issue.

Because of you, Virunga is saved from oil exploration that was already under way. 

Please remember this victory when obstacles seem insurmountable and know we will keep on fighting together to protect our planet.

Thank you for remaining a loyal activist,

Allard Blom Managing Director, Congo Basin  World Wildlife Fund


Oregon State Parks Foundation


Hikers in Silver Falls

Hikers enjoy a beautiful view at Silver Falls State Park.

Oregon State Parks Foundation is Oregon’s statewide not-for-profit organization dedicated to preserving and enhancing Oregon’s state parks. OSPF is devoted to protecting and improving Oregon’s outstanding natural, scenic, cultural, historic and recreational sites for the enjoyment of present and future generations.

To date, the Foundation has provided over $8.5 million in support of Oregon State Parks since its creation in 1995. These funds, generously donated from private donors and foundations, have supported such projects as restoring Vista House at Crown Point, helping to maintain Oregon’s Lighthouses, and purchasing important property at Iwetemlaykin State Heritage Site near Wallowa Lake.

For a list of the many projects and campaigns we have helped fund for Oregon State Parks, please visit our Our Successes page. There you can browse by region to find out how we have impacted parks in your area.

If you’re interested in becoming a part of our efforts to preserve Oregon’s natural and historic wonders, sign up to receive important updates from OSPF.


5 Ways You Can Help Animals This Earth Day

April 22 is Earth Day, and it’s the perfect time to slow down, reflect on how our actions impact the planet, and consider the ways in which we can do more. Maybe this year, you’ll plant a garden, volunteer to do a coastal cleanup, or attend a local festival. Whatever you choose, here are five easy actions that you can incorporate into your day that will help animals and the planet:

1. Share this image on Facebook!

Milk Wastes Water

Let your friends and family know that while dairy products may not be meat, their production is just as bad for the Earth (not to mention cows).

2. Bring a vegan dish to the office to share with coworkers.


With hundreds of delicious vegan recipes on our site, we’re sure that there is something for even the most skeptical palate.

3. Print this sign and put it in your car window.


Why not use your time while you’re sitting in traffic to let others know just how detrimental eating meat is?

4. Watch and share PETA’s “Meat’s Not Green” video.

This two-minute glimpse of the damage done by factory farming is gentle on viewers while still packing an educational punch.

5. Go vegan!


According to the United Nations, a global shift toward a vegan diet is necessary to combat the worst effects of climate change. Whatcha waitin’ for?

Want to help animals every day? Join PETA’s Action Team, and we’ll send you e-mails on ways that you can help animals as well as alerts about local demonstrations that you can participate in!
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Monarch butterflies are in dire trouble -- Help NRDC save them!

Monarch butterflies are in crisis, and we must take immediate action to protect them!

Less than 20 years ago, an astounding 1 billion monarchs migrated to Mexico for the winter. This year, a mere fraction of that -- just 33.5 million -- made the journey.

Why? In large part it's because industrial agriculture is killing off the native milkweed on which monarchs depend with a new generation of potent herbicides.

By placing commonsense limits on Big Ag's rampant use of herbicides like glyphosate -- marketed as Roundup by Monsanto -- the EPA could dramatically increase the monarch's chance for survival.

But the EPA is unlikely to do that unless it hears from hundreds of thousands of us!

Monarchs can't live without milkweed -- it is the only plant on which they lay their eggs.

What's at stake here? One of the most astounding and extraordinary migrations on the planet -- a true natural wonder.

Each year, as they have for countless generations, North American monarchs undertake an epic journey, flittering upwards of 3,000 miles across the U.S. and Canada to just a relative few wintering grounds, including Mexico's Sierra Madre mountains.

But as industrial agriculture has ramped up its use of genetically engineered crops resistant to weed killers like glyphosate, it has also dramatically escalated its use of herbicides -- and monarch populations have plunged.

This is the ninth year in a row that the population of monarchs wintering in Mexico has fallen below its long-term average, and this year it hit an all-time low.

Please tell EPA the time to act is now!

Thank you for joining NRDC at this critical moment in our fight to save the monarchs.


5 Incredible Oil-Free Ways to Make Plastic

5 Incredible Oil-Free Ways to Make Plastic

Our dependence on fossil fuels, namely petroleum, is one of the biggest accelerators of climate change. Despite the obvious promise of solar, wind, geothermal and other renewable energy sources, the critics say we can’t live without oil. Not because we can’t power our homes and cars with something else, but because we’re addicted to plastic.

Plastic is part of nearly everything we touch, from packaging to electronics. It’s in our carpets, and bathrooms, and closets. It’s used in so many products because it’s “cheap” and durable.

Globally, we went from consuming 50 million tonnes of plastic per year in 1950 to 245 million tonnes in 2008, according to Plastics Europe. And it’s estimated that around 50 percent of that plastic is only used once, sometimes for mere minutes, before we throw it away. This plastic addiction has create massive environmental problems while simultaneously making the fossil fuel industry feel very loved.

“The production of plastic uses an incredible amount of fossil fuels. Most estimates put the figure at around 8% of the world’s oil production, 4% of which is actually used in energy consumption to make the plastic,” reports Plastic Oceans.

Since we seem to be incapable of going without plastic (or recycling it at rates that would really make a difference), the world’s leading inventors and scientists are on a quest to make plastic out of something–anything–besides oil. Here are five of the most promising ideas:

5 Oil-Free Ways to Make Plastic

plastic from shrimp shells

1. Shrimp Shells and Wood Flour

As Treehugger reports, researchers at Harvard’s Wyss Institute have developed a new bioplastic from chitosan derived from shrimp shells. Chitosan is a form of chitin, a natural polymer said to be the second most abundant organic material on Earth. Although the scientists had trouble getting the bioplastic, dubbed “Shrilk,” to hold its shape, they solved the problem by adding in another waste material: wood ‘flour’.

plastic from air pollution

2. Air Pollution

Talk about two birds with one stone. A California-based chemical technologies company has developed a manufacturing technology that captures airborne carbon, a major health and environmental hazard, and turns it into a replacement for oil-based plastics. ”By using carbon that would otherwise be in the air we are breathing right now, AirCarbon turns everyday goods into products that actually improve the environment,” said Mark Herrema, CEO, in a press release. “Combined with a cost profile that is more favorable than oil-based plastics, AirCarbon has the potential to change the world.”

plastic from banana peels

3. Banana Peels

Bananas are delicious and nutritious, but we may have been tossing their most valuable asset into the garbage pail for centuries. In 2013, sixteen-year-old Turkish student Elif Bilgin discovered that the the starches and cellulose in banana peels are perfect for making a non-decaying bioplastic. Bilgin hopes the banana bioplastic could be used to insulate wires and form medical protheses, reducing our dependence on oil-based plastic.

plastic from sewage

4. Sewage

One thing that we’ll always have in abundance (as long as humans roam the Earth) is sewage. Anywhere humans have settled, there’s bound to be a sewage treatment center nearby. Recently, a company called Newlight Technologies, LLC developed a way to capture the methane and carbon dioxide emanating from these facilities, and turn it into plastic. “First, a mix of gases, including methane and carbon dioxide, is funneled into a reactor. Next, carbon and oxygen are separated out, and then they are reassembled into a long-chain thermopolymer (aka: a form of plastic),” explains CleanTechnica.


5. Whey

About 15 million tons of whey are produced each year by European cheese manufacturers, yet only a tiny portion of that whey is reused as food additives or supplements. A group of companies in the EU is working on technology that would allow them to turn this unwanted by-product into something useful, like bioplastic. The biodegradable material is said to be air tight and water resistant, making it ideal for food packaging.
Read more:


Nothing’s Sacred: Oil Industry Wants to Drill the Everglades

Nothing’s Sacred: Oil Industry Wants to Drill the Everglades

Running out of places to excavate oil, American energy companies are starting to eye Florida’s Everglades. The beautiful tropical wetlands of southern Florida have benefited from environmental protections previously, but now the oil industry is laying the groundwork for future drilling in the area.

The Department of Environmental Protection has been very adamant in claiming that no one has so much as filed a request to drill in the Everglades. However, as a writer of the Tampa Bay Times points out, this seems like more of “a bit of semantics.” Although no drilling will occur in the Everglades National Park, companies have made moves to purchase land that directly borders the protected park.

Besides, the Everglades extend well beyond what has been designated the national park’s boundary. Still, pretending for a moment that the parkland is the only area that matters, even that is at risk due to adjacent drilling and fracking. The environmental consequences of these activities are never contained to just the immediate area.

Jaime Duran, a resident of the Everglades, researched the likely harms after having an encounter he had with a representative for an oil company. Duran told NPR that the employee delivered a letter explaining that an oil well would be put on land just 1,300 feet from Duran’s house and that – as such – he was now living in an “evacuation zone.”

Due to his proximity to the well site, Duran is at risk of exposure to hydrogen sulfide gas leaks. Nonetheless, Duran is less frightened by that possibility than what he knows to be true. “[My] biggest concern is the brine, the produced waters,” he said. “[For] every gallon of oil that they extract, they will get 20 gallons of salt water, and that salt water is toxic.”

Duran’s neighboring land is not the only one in peril. The Sun Sentinel reports that oil companies are currently seeking permission to test acreage below the Big Cypress National Preserve for energy viability. Meanwhile, a Texas company has already received approval to drill next to the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge.
Read more:

STOP the STATE of TEXAS from Destroying 500 Year Old Live Oak Tree and Forest!!

STOP the STATE of TEXAS from Destroying 500 Year Old Live Oak Tree and Forest!!

Update #3 March 8, 2014

Press release from TxDot deputy director Joe Barton yesterday reported in
Houston Chronicle,,, " sending engineers back to the drawing board... " A step in the right direction in our opinion but we feel we need to hold their feet to the fire until something more concrete than a press release is presented. Keep signing and sharing show them we are serious
We are so blessed by all your support.

Buffalo National River

New Chance to Stop the Damage to Buffalo River

Last year, Arkansas officials allowed an industrial-scale hog farm to operate upstream from Buffalo National River. Now, these officials have the opportunity to reopen the farm's permit, which was issued without public comment and contains misinformation related to the disposal of the facility's enormous quantities of manure. Learn more, see a new video on the issue, and take action to help stop the harm this poorly sited facility could cause this pristine watershed.

Get the Latest »

US Capitol

Do Your Reps Support National Park Funding?

Earlier this week, President Obama unveiled his proposed budget for the next fiscal year, which would restore $55 million in additional funding to the National Park Service after several years of cuts and declining funds. But for these much-needed funds to become a reality for national parks, the proposal needs congressional support. See how your members of Congress voted on national park funding issues in 2013, and send a message encouraging them to support the proposal, which would take effect in time for the upcoming Park Service centennial.

Take Action »

Brixton Doyle

Q&A: Behind the Scenes with Artist Brixton Doyle

To date, NPCA and the Creative Action Network have showcased 450 original works of art (and counting) through the See America Project, a new crowdsourced campaign to reimagine classic New Deal-era posters of national parks for a new generation. Graphic designer and instructor Brixton Doyle contributed a particularly striking work of a hand-drawn rendering of Devil’s Tower in Wyoming, set against a dramatic red sky. We asked the artist about his connection to the parks, his artistic process, and his inspiration.

Learn More »

Groundwork Anacostia

Transforming D.C.’s “Forgotten River”

D.C.’s Anacostia River has an image problem. It has suffered for years from pollution and neglect and has a reputation as a place to avoid—some even call it the “forgotten river.” Fortunately, community advocates are helping to reverse this stigma and inspire a new generation of stewards: Groundwork Anacostia is involving high school students in service-learning projects that are revitalizing the watershed.

Learn More »


Wildlife vs. Climate Change: A Pika Tale

What lives near high-altitude rock fields, is closely related to rabbits, makes a distinctive barking noise, and is so sensitive to cold that it could literally die from climate change? Meet the adorable, mischievous pikas that scurry their way around a number of western national parks, and learn how a team of researchers is trying to help them survive.

Learn More »

PepsiCo Diverts 2M Pounds | Sewage Water to Energy | Smart Sprinkler System

Earth911 Logo March 5, 2014
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PepsiCo Dream Machines Divert More Than 2 Million Pounds from Landfills

PepsiCo Dream Machine-sponsored Free Green Cans provide Chicago residents and visitors with a convenient way to recycle their plastic bottles and aluminum cans while on-the-go. Photo: PepsiCo
Nearly four years after launching its innovative Dream Machine program, PepsiCo is keeping the dream alive. To date, PepsiCo says that more than 1,000 K-12 schools in 34 states have joined the program, keeping an estimated 40 million containers out of landfills. That adds up to almost 2 million pounds of plastic and aluminum that’s been diverted from the trash.

Company Converts Steaming Hot Sewage Water into Energy

On any given day, the average American blows through approximately 100 gallons of water, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. See how one company prevents energy from being flushed down the drain. 

Smart Sprinkler System Saves Water in the Yard

With its Wi-Fi–connected smart controller and corresponding mobile app, the Rachio sprinkler system promises to save homeowners water and money. Photo: Rachio



10 Ways to Reuse Wine Bottles and Corks

A wine-bottle bird feeder. Photo: Ellen Thomas/The Chilly Dog
Hey, wine lovers! Want to know what you can do with your empty bottles and corks? Surprisingly, there are loads of things to make — from upcycled glassware to home décor. Get crafty with these 10 ideas.


Secretary Kerry: Stop Keystone XL

Secretary Kerry: Stop Keystone XL

  • author: Center for Biological Diversity
  • target: Secretary of State John Kerry
  • signatures: 5,202

  • Following the State Department's release of its final environmental review of the Keystone XL pipeline on Jan. 31, more than 10,000 concerned activists across the country came together to hold vigils opposing the project. Now the ball is in Secretary Kerry's court to decide whether we'll have a safe climate future -- or whether such a huge investment in fossil fuel development is in our national interest.

    After years of debate, the evidence is overwhelming: Keystone XL would increase production levels of tar sands oil in Alberta and significantly add to carbon emissions. The massive investment would lock us into dependence on this dirty fuel for decades -- exacerbating carbon pollution just when we urgently need to go quickly, decisively in the opposite direction.

    Although the State Department's environmental impact statement underestimated the likelihood that the Keystone XL pipeline would fuel climate change, Secretary Kerry can set the record straight in his "National Interest Determination."

    Please act now and tell Secretary Kerry that Keystone XL is not in our country's best interest, and urge him to take strong climate action.


Protect the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint from Special Interests

Protect the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint from Special Interests

  • author: Chesapeake Bay Foundation
  • target: The 21 States Opposing a Clean Chesapeake
  • signatures: 9,148

  • We know what's best for the waters in our backyard!

    The American Farm Bureau Federation and Fertilizer Institute have recruited 20 states from outside the watershed to support their efforts to derail Chesapeake Bay restoration. Together, they're seeking to overturn the recent ruling which declared the science-based pollution limits and the clean-up plan legal. We say to these special interests and to Missouri, Kansas, Texas, Alaska, and the other states, don't tell us how to restore clean water in our backyard!

    Each of the six Bay states and the District of Columbia—including hard-working farmers, businesses, and individuals—are working together. We are well on our way to making our rivers and streams safer, improving our habitat, protecting human health, and strengthening local economies. Let us continue to do this good work for our waters and future generations.

    Dead zones are shrinking. Oyster populations are rebounding. We can't let these states—spurred by Big Agriculture and fertilizer lobbyists who put their profits ahead of clean water—undermine what could be our last chance to save the Bay. Not now, just when the Bay's recovery is picking up speed!

    Tell Alaska, Utah, Montana, Kansas, and the other states backing these lobbyists: Don't tell us how to restore clean water in our backyard!

Protect Our Parks

Protect Our Parks

  • author: West Coast Environmental Law
  • target: Premier Christie Clark, Environment Minister Mary Polak
  • signatures: 2,280

  • BC's protected areas, from urban parks such as Cypress to the rugged Mount Robson, provide invaluable environmental, social and economic benefits. Enjoyed by over 19 million visitors every year, BC's parks and conservation areas are a public trust that the provincial government has a legal duty protect for the benefit of British Columbians.

    But the provincial government wants to pave the way for our protected lands to become industrial corridors. It has proposed legal changes that would reduce protection for smaller parks, allow "research" such as drilling, surveying and exploration to occur in protected areas and make it easier for the government to "adjust" park boundaries at industry's request.

    The changes follow recent revelations that the BC government is expecting applications from industry to change the boundaries of dozens of protected areas to allow pipelines, transmission lines and other resource projects to cut through them.

    The government is debating these changes on Monday, February 17. If you want to keep BC's parks safe, they need to hear from you.

    Send your message to the BC government that protected areas belong to British Columbians and do not exist at the whim of politicians.

    BC Parks, "BC Parks: More than Just a Pretty Place"
    BC Parks, "BC Parks Mission and Mandate"
    Vancouver Sun, "B.C. legislation would allow oil and gas to conduct preliminary research in parks." (13 February 2014)
    Vancouver Sun, "Boundary changes for industrial corridors expected ... more

Ban Plastic Microbeads That Pollute Great Lakes!

Ban Plastic Microbeads That Pollute Great Lakes!

  • author: Chris Wolverton
  • target: Personal Care Products Manufacterers and Retailers
  • signatures: 22,525
  • Plastic microbeads found in exfoliating personal care products are polluting United States Great Lakes. Recent research published in peer-reviewed journal The Marine Pollution Bulletin found high concentrations of plastics in U.S. lakes, particularly Lake Erie, with microbeads accounting for 90 percent of these plastics.

    Microbeads are designed to be small enough to wash down the drain, but they are obviously not being caught by sewage treatment and are instead flowing into waterways.

    There is no need to continue polluting our lakes with these unnecessary products. Natural products such as ground nuts and fruit pits can exfoliate without harming the environment. Major beauty companies such as The Body Shop have already agreed to phase out microbeads, and it is time for other corporations to follow suit. Please sign the petition to ban plastic microbeads from personal care products!

    Plastic microbeads found in exfoliating personal care products are polluting United States Great Lakes. Recent research published in peer-reviewed journal The Marine Pollution Bulletin found high concentrations of plastics in U.S. lakes, particularly Lake Erie, with microbeads accounting for 90 percent of these plastics.

    Microbeads are designed to be small enough to wash down the drain, but they are obviously not being caught by sewage treatment and are instead flowing into waterways.

    There is no need to continue polluting our lakes with these unnecessary products. Natural products such as ground nuts and fruit pits can exfoliate without harming the environment. Major beauty companies such as The Body Shop have already agreed to phase out microbeads, and it is time for other corporations to follow suit. Please sign the petition to ban plastic microbeads from personal care products!


STOP the STATE of TEXAS from Destroying 500 Year Old Live Oak Tree and Forest!!

STOP the STATE of TEXAS from Destroying 500 Year Old Live Oak Tree and Forest!!

  • author: Phyllis Tietjen
  • target: State of Texas Department of Transportation
  • signatures: 6,285

  • There is a tree located in a small town called Snook in Texas (pop. ~515) certified by an arborist to be around 500 years old. The grand tree is one of several live oak trees the arborist has measured to be 200-300 years old and is noted to be one of the few true Live Oak Forests in this area. My family has owned the property close to 150 years which the State of Texas recognized and entered into the Texas Family Land Heritage program. The grand oak has a trunk that measures around 25 feet in circumference. Its limbs extend somewhere around 100 feet. They have survived numerous severe droughts, floods hurricanes, lighting storms, you name it and they have beat it. Ponder for a few minutes about the history that has passed these trees by, Columbus sailed the ocean blue, Coronado searched for gold, Jamestown was settled, John Hancock signed his name, Lewis and Clark walked to Portland, Hugh Glass fought a Bear, Bowie used his knife in a Church, Booth did the unthinkable, yes it just goes on and on till 2014.

    Sadly, after centuries of struggling to survive, watching history unfold, these beautiful old trees have become the target of the State of Texas through her Department of Transportation. They have determined, through all their exceptional wisdom that it is their duty to serve and protect the public by choosing to destroy these beautiful specimens of god’s ability to create a lasting beauty, which now has proven they can only to be destroyed by simple man.

    TxDot is go... more



Victory 2013
Several of our victories and successes in 2013 were the culmination of decades of work and support from our staff, our volunteers, our allies, and supporters like you. Consider Yellowstone, where, after 15 years of work to reduce air and noise pollution during the park's winter season, park officials reached a final decision to regulate snowmobile and snowcoach use in America's first national park.

In other news, your support helped us stop an ill-conceived water pipeline in Nevada near Great Basin National Park, successfully fight for critical recovery funds for parks in Superstorm Sandy's path, and finally defeat the proposed Eagle Mountain Landfill--which would have been frighteningly close to Joshua Tree National Park. There is so much more to share.
Please take a look at our 2013 timeline of milestones and victories. Scroll through and read about all of the great things we accomplished together. We simply cannot do this work without you. Even with all of these outstanding achievements, we have our work cut out for us in 2014.

We hope you’ll stand with us as we strive to safeguard the funding and protections our parks need to tell the stories of our rich natural and cultural history.
You can take one small step today by
liking NPCA on Facebook and following us on Twitter so you’ll be sure to receive breaking news and opportunities to take action to help protect the parks. I hope you will also share this email with family and friends who care for the parks as much as you do, and encourage them to join our online community at

Thanks for everything you do for our national parks, and all the best this new year!


Clark Bunting, NPCA President and CEO
Clark Bunting

Earth911 Logo November 1, 2013
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How To: Make Your Own Toothpaste from Scratch .. Info on Oils..

Make your own toothpaste using a recipe that is entirely nontoxic and is enriched with much-needed calcium. Photo: Matt and Betsy Jabs/DIY Natural
Most toothpaste concoctions require only a few household ingredients and work just as well as your favorite brand. We bring you two simple do-it-yourself recipes.


5 Oils from Your Kitchen You Can Add to Your Beauty Routine
Many natural oils that you probably already have, such as olive oil, make great moisturizers for your skin.


LCV logo header

Don’t let polluters get away with weakening critical Clean Water Act protections. Tell the EPA to protect all our waterways now >> 


Protect the waterways that our wildlife and our families depend on.

Tell the EPA to stop letting polluters put our waterways at risk and fix the Clean Water Act now!

If you ask any child what happens when you put a toy boat in a river, they’ll tell you that it sails downstream.

But if you ask our government what happens when polluters dump their toxic waste into our streams and wetlands, they’ll say our laws don’t acknowledge that this pollution will travel down into our rivers and lakes.

Why? Because the Clean Water Act is broken -- but you can help us fix it.

Show the EPA that you support them using science to restore Clean Water Act protections for our wetlands and streams!

Over the years, key pieces of the Clean Water Act have been rolled back. Polluters have argued that certain kinds of waterways like streams, wetlands, and floodplains shouldn’t be protected because they don’t connect to our larger bodies of water.

But science has shown that they are connected. Right now more than 59 percent of U.S. streams and 20 million acres of wetlands are vulnerable to toxic dumping and pollution.

Since these are connected to larger waterways, this puts the drinking water of 117 million Americans at terrible risk. It also threatens the survival of wildlife like river otters and fish that make their homes in these waterways and are very sensitive to pollution.

Luckily, the Environmental Protection Agency is working to fix this law right now. They did an investigation and confirmed what we already knew -- that streams, wetlands, and floodplains are connected to important downstream waters.

They can use this scientific report to close these loopholes in the Clean Water Act and protect these important watersheds. But polluters are going to push back hard against anything that would stop them from contaminating our waters with impunity. So we need your help to give the EPA an extra push to make sure they take this step forward.

Join us in calling on the EPA to listen to science and protect our waterways now. Send your message here >>

As a part of the LCV community, you know how important it is to keep the Clean Water Act strong. Polluters think that they can just poke holes in our most critical clean water protections and we won’t notice.

Show them they’re wrong, Johni. Send a message now telling the EPA to finalize its scientific report quickly and use it to restore protections to all our interconnected waterways.

Vanessa Kritzer
Online Campaigns Manager
League of Conservation Voters

Otter photo found here.

WWF May E-newsletter

U.S. Activists: Protect Bristol Bay from Pebble Mine

Pebble Mine sign
An Alaskan native protests the development of Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay. © Scott Dickerson/WWF-US

Alaska’s Bristol Bay is a national treasure. It's the ecological epicenter of the Bering Sea, which yields more than 40 percent of the wild-caught seafood produced in the U.S., and an irreplaceable stronghold for fish and wildlife. But right now its future is at risk. The largest open pit copper and gold mine in North America is proposed at the headwaters of Bristol Bay. If developed, the mine would destroy miles of salmon streams and acres of vital salmon habitat, and would require up to 10 billion tons of toxic mine waste to be stored and monitored "in perpetuity." Urge the federal government to protect Bristol Bay from the potentially disastrous Pebble Mine.

Take action

Urge Secretary Kerry to Clean Up Our Skies

Blue sky
Sign the petition to help keep our skies clean. © Frank Parhizgar/WWF-Canada

Carbon emissions from aviation are polluting our skies at a staggering rate. They are projected to nearly double by 2030 and continue to climb unless we can adopt new, international policies to get them under control. Secretary of State John Kerry has the opportunity later this month to slash this pollution by supporting a global agreement to reduce the aviation industry’s carbon emissions. By taking a leadership role on this critical issue, he would demonstrate to the world our nation’s commitment to tackling climate change in the U.S. and across the globe. U.S. Activists: Urge Secretary Kerry to support a global agreement to clean up our skies.

Take action

It's the first day of Spring. Time go get outside! Is this email not displaying correctly?
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Spring has sprung


Even if you're getting hit with snow right now, take comfort: It's the first day of spring, and better weather is just around the corner.

Let's dream away today thinking of all the time we'll spend outside enjoying the sunshine. Open some windows, get things tidied up, and get ready to enjoy!
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Climate Change Hurts Butterflies, Too

  • Climate Change Hurts Butterflies, Too

Written by Judith A. Ross

A butterfly’s transformation — from minuscule egg, to chubby caterpillar, to pod-like chrysalis and finally into an intricately decorated, delicately winged creature — strikes the perfect balance between magic and science.

My introduction to the more scientific aspects of a butterfly’s life cycle came at the age of eight, when as a budding naturalist, I attended a day camp at the local Audubon sanctuary. Our counselors taught us about a program to band monarch butterflies in order to track their yearly journey from our northern environs in Massachusetts down south through Texas and into Mexico.

As an adult, I remain enchanted by butterflies’ mystical beauty, while also assisting with their more earthly needs by including butterfly-friendly plants in my garden.

But no matter how otherworldly they may appear, and in spite of efforts like mine to encourage their propagation, even butterflies are not exempt from the effects of climate change.

Atlantis Fritillary Photo: Barbara Spencer, West Cummington

A study examining the butterfly population in Massachusetts, published this month in Nature Climate Change, has shown that protective habitats alone aren’t enough to keep some butterfly species in the Bay State.

Based on data collected between 1992 and 2010 by the Massachusetts Butterfly Club, the study shows that over the past 19 years, a warming climate has altered the state’s butterfly communities.

So while I may be seeing more subtropical and warm-climate butterfly species, such as the giant swallowtail and the zabulon skipper around my Massachusetts home, more than three-quarters of northerly species are in sharp decline. According to the study, those that over-winter as eggs or small larvae seem especially vulnerable to what has become a warmer, dryer climate with less snow cover.

Greg Breed, lead author of the study and a postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard Forest in Petersham, recently told the Harvard Gazette:

For most butterfly species, climate change seems to be a stronger change-agent than habitat loss. Protecting habitat remains a key management strategy, and that may help some butterfly species. However, for many others, habitat protection will not mitigate the impacts of warming.

Atlantis Fritillary Photo: Erik Nielsen Pittsburg, NH

The downside? Populations of species with mythological names like the atlantis and aphrodite fritillaries have declined nearly 90 percent in Massachusetts.

Like birds, butterflies, and all other living things, we humans can’t escape the impact of climate change. Unlike them, however, we are not voiceless. In fact, we can have a strong voice in protecting butterflies and other silent, yet vulnerable populations.

At Moms Clean Air Force we make it easy for engaged citizens to speak up and Take Action.

Tell the presidential candidates to talk about climate change!

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The World is Running Dry: What You Can Do

by Chris Chuang 

Did you know that the world is running dry? That a water crisis, linked to global warming, is aruguably the largest environmental challenge facing the United States and the world today? After reading Water Consciousness you’ll be in no doubt.

Designed to be both practical and beautiful, Water Consciousness presents readers with a welter of information, alternately fascinating and alarming, about our water — where it comes from, where it goes, how we use — and waste — it, how much — and how little — there is, how we can conserve and protect it, and much more. The book, which features contributions by Bill McKibben, Maude Barlow, Vandana Shiva, and other top environmental writers, is a model of accessibility and includes colorful images, charts, and other visuals, as well as a stunning photo essay. It’s a book that will change how you think about and use water every day.

Here, drawn from the book, are 14 steps you can take to protect our water.

1. FIND OUT HOW MUCH WATER YOU USE. Visit the Water Calculator to see what you can do to cut back (

2. STOP DRINKING BOTTLED WATER. Choose tap water over bottled water whenever possible. Create a bottled water free zone in your classroom, campus, workplace, union, community center, city hall, environmental organization, or faith-based group. (,

3. HELP CREATE A CLEAN WATER TRUST FUND. Support public control of water resources and increased funding for public drinking water by signing a petition urging Congress to create a Clean Water Trust Fund. (

4. CONSERVE WATER INSIDE. Retrofit with efficient appliances and fixtures, take shorter showers, check faucets for leaks and drips. (

5. CONSERVE WATER OUTSIDE. Reduce lawn size and choose drought-tolerant xeriscapes. You can also recycle municipal water and on-site graywater, or harvest rainwater to use in the garden. (,

6. DON’T POLLUTE YOUR WATERSHED. Stop using toxic cleaners, pesticides, and herbicides. Properly dispose of pharmaceuticals and personal care products. (,

7. LEARN ABOUT YOUR WATERSHED. Form a watershed group. River keeper organizations, Friends of Creeks groups, and watershed councils are springing up all over the country. (

8. HELP KEEP YOUR WATERSHED HEALTHY. Support or start water-quality monitoring programs. Citizen-based water-quality monitoring is an accessible and meaningful way to understand the health of our waterways. (

9. CLEAN UP AGRICULTURE. Buy local and organic food. Help with the implementation of on-farm water conservation and protection programs. (,

10. PROTECT GROUNDWATER FROM DEPLETION AND DEGRADATION. Help ensure legislation to manage and protect all groundwater. Unlike our system of surface-water rights, the extraction of unlimited quantities of groundwater is largely unregulated. (

11. LEARN ABOUT DAMS IN YOUR AREA. Oppose construction of new dams and always ask if any planned dams are really necessary, or if there are better, less destructive ways of conserving water, preventing floors, or generating power. (

12. REDUCE YOUR ENERGY USE. Producing electricity uses lots of water. You can figure out how much energy you use at Low Carbon Diet. (

13. SUPPORT THE RIGHT TO WATER FOR EVERYONE. Learn more about grassroots movements for water democracy and support for the United Nations covenant on the right to water. (

14. HELP SPREAD THE WORD. Visit for more information.

 To read more from " The Progressive Reader" :


3,000 Year Old Giant Baobab Tree Tells an Amazing Story

3,000 Year Old Giant Baobab Tree Tells an Amazing Story

For some 3,000 years, this Baobab tree has been a force of salvation in Southern Africa. Shoulder to shoulder, 23 people could line up across the face of this Baobab tree in Zimbabwe’s Save Valley Conservancy and if a pride of lions were to approach you’d see many of them quickly disappear into the tree’s hollow cavity.

“There are many Baobabs anywhere in Africa but what makes this one rather unique is its size,” Karen Paolillo of the Turgwe Hippo Trust explains. “This tree has been recorded as the largest in Southern Africa.”

Local people use Baobabs for prayer. If a white cloth is found attached to a Baobab, that signifies that it is a place of worship. And with thousands of years of dry season, of extreme droughts, this Baobab has hosted countless rain dances as both young and old lift their hands and feet in a desperate ritual for survival.

Over thousands of years, this tree has seen some of the most gorgeous spectacles on earth. A pride of lions napping in the afternoon sun. A massive herd of elephants padding through the bush on their way to get a drink in the river. A mother baboon craddling her baby in her arms. We pause today to embrace life here, even in all its frailty as increased risks of hunting in the Conservancy have left us all holding our collective breath.

Please take a moment to enjoy this slideshow of some of the creatures who roam beneath the Baobab trees.

Related Stories:

Bonobos Can Make Stone Tools…and That’s Freaking Cool

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The Pizza Box Recycling Mystery

Courtesy of Earth911

Many people assume that pizza boxes are recyclable. In fact, most boxes have recycling symbols on them and are traditionally made from corrugated cardboard. They are, in and of themselves, recyclable.

However, what makes parts of them non-recyclable is the hot, tasty treat that comes inside them, specifically, the grease and cheese from pizza that soil the cardboard.

So there you have it, pizza boxes that are tarnished with food, or any paper product that is stained with grease or food, are not recyclable - unless you remove the tainted portions.

But why is this? And what are the implications for the general, pizza-loving public? Mmm, pizza.

How it Gets Recycled
Food is one of the worst contaminants in the paper recycling process. Grease and oil are not as big of a problem for plastic, metal and glass, as those materials are recycled using a heat process. But when paper products, like cardboard, are recycled, they are mixed with water and turned into a slurry. Since we all know water and oil don't mix, the issue is clear.

Grease from pizza boxes causes oil to form at the top of the slurry, and paper fibers cannot separate from oils during the pulping process. Essentially, this contaminant causes the entire batch to be ruined. This is the reason that other food related items are non-recyclable (used paper plates, used napkins, used paper towels, etc).

"The oil gets in when you're doing your process of making paper," said Terry Gellenbeck, a solid waste administrative analyst for the City of Phoenix. "The oil causes great problems for the quality of the paper, especially the binding of the fibers. It puts in contaminants, so when they do squeeze the water out, it has spots and holes."

But what about other things regularly found on paper products, like ink? "Most inks are not petroleum-based so they break down fast. Food is a big problem," he said.

Also, be mindful of adhesives that may be on the pizza box (coupons, stickers, etc.) as those are contaminants. Known as "pressure sensitive adhesives (PSAs)" these can ruin the recycling process just as much as oil or food remains.

Many people admit trying to "sneak" their pizza boxes in with cardboard boxes and such. In reality, this does more harm than good as the contaminated cardboard could ruin the whole recycling batch.

In fact, contamination in the recycling business is a big problem. Some estimates put the costs of irresponsible contamination in the neighborhood of $700 million per year industry-wide. Gellenbeck estimates that for the City of Phoenix, contamination costs them around $1 million annually, because of damage to machinery, disposal costs for the non-recyclable material and wasted time, materials and efficiency. With the City processing 129,000 tons of materials in 2008 (around 7 percent of this is cardboard), money is an important factor as to why residents should know what their municipalities do and do not accept.

So, What Do I Do?
The easiest remedy for this problem is to cut or tear out the soiled portions of your pizza boxes and trash them. For example, you can tear the top of the box off, recycle that and throw away the bottom part containing the grease. If the entire box is grease-free, the whole box can be recycled with a guilt-free conscience.

Another option to recycling cardboard is to compost it, although the grease rule still applies here as well. "Even with oils, you shouldn't compost [greased cardboard]. It causes rotting, you get more bugs and smell and it's just not good for the plants," said Gellenbeck.

Most importantly, being well-versed on what your local recyclers accept, can make the biggest difference. "It all depends on where your processor sends your paper, too," said Gellenbeck, whose authority applies only to the City of Phoenix. "If you can keep a particular thing like the food out, the plastics out, all those things that really shouldn't be there, it would help."

New 7 Wonders of Nature

New 7 Wonders of Nature

Written by Stephen Messenger, Treehugger

After two years of vote-casting by millions of people from across the globe, a new list of the “New 7 Wonders of Nature” has been revealed. Reducing a planet full of incredible, breathtaking, and awe-inspiring sites to a mere handfull was no easy task — but while it is arguably inappropriate to pit nature’s most beautiful places in such a competition, the organization behind the list hopes it will help the top spots “in becoming part of global memory for humankind forever.” In the end, however, the list is a bit more remarkable for the countless wonders it lacks than the ones it contains.

The campaign was launched by the group’s founder Bernard Weber who hoped to revive the listing convention originated by Ancient Greeks in naming the 7 Wonders of the World more than two thousand years ago. “So many breathtakingly beautiful, natural places are still quite unknown to many. From waterfalls to fjords, rainforests to mountain peaks, freshwater lakes to volcanoes, we are discovering together the incredible beauty and variety of our planet,” says Webber.

According to New7Wonders, the group that organized the international competition, from an original list composed of around 440 nominated locales, seven ‘provisional’ top wonders have been selected with the input of over a million international voters. An official announcement of the winning sites is expected some time early next year. But in lieu of any changes, the list of the final seven is as follows (in alphabetical order):


The Amazon

“The Amazon Rainforest, also known as Amazonia, the Amazon jungle or the Amazon Basin, encompasses seven million square kilometers (1.7 billion acres), though the forest itself occupies some 5.5 million square kilometers (1.4 billion acres), located within nine nations. The Amazon represents over half of the planet’s remaining rainforests and comprises the largest and most species-rich tract of tropical rainforest in the world. The Amazon River is the largest river in the world by volume, with a total flow greater than the top ten rivers worldwide combined. It accounts for approximately one-fifth of the total world river flow and has the biggest drainage basin on the planet. Not a single bridge crosses the Amazon.”

*All descriptions are from the New7Wonders website.

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 Composting Bin

                                                       It's all in the bag.

Plastic bags don't need to be tomorrow's pollution. There's no denying that plastic bags are a hotly debated topic in the eco-scene. But solving this problem doesn't have to be a stressful endeavor - indeed, the bags blowing in the wind & floating in the sea can be prevented through simple actions & creative ideas. It's imperative that we reduce our use, reuse what we have & recycle every bag that crosses our path. 

Getting out my glue gun,

Jennifer Berry Signature

Get Started

We use 89B plastic bags, sacks & wraps every year in the U.S., but recycling only hovers around 9%. Here's why you can't ignore plastics recycling & some amazing items that recycled bags can become. Even changing their color could make a huge difference.

This Week's Eco Warrior Takes Bags from Blah to Tada!

In this week's top photo, Eco Warrior Claire Obias shares a picture of the beautiful plastic flower she uses for gift wrap, which she made from an old plastic bag for her crafty recycling blog, blah to TADA! Her plastic bag projects include making a festive lei, a functional padded mailing envelope and other gift embellishments

Check out her blog for other amazing recycled crafts! Thanks for your great work, Claire!


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