For Love of Animals and Trees…

 

Professor X: [voiceover] Either way, it is a historical fact: Sharing the world has never been humanity’s defining attribute. (X-Men 2)

As I get older (officially middle-aged, though it feels a lot older), I am plagued with this odd sort of remembrance. I am remembering a lot of things about my girl self that got shoved aside in hopes of becoming somebody loved, worthwhile, hire-able, successful, popular, pretty, rich–all of which, of course, never happened (yet, anyway). So I put away a lot of stuff that made me, me, because society taught me to be ashamed of who I was (and I believed them). Though it was always still sorta there, and it would escape from time to time, as I got involved in environmental causes and animal rights causes and human rights causes. I even majored in environmental science, once upon a time, even though I really wanted to be a marine biologist, but the school I ended up at didn’t offer it. But, math didn’t really come naturally to me, so I let that dissuade me from a career in science.

I was that girl who hated to see animals hurt, even in movies, where they (purportedly) said that the animals weren’t really hurt–it was all for show. I didn’t even like to kill bugs, and tried to fight against the use of pesticides even in my small world of the family home. Even though it was “Nature’s way”, I still had a hard time seeing animals hurt or eaten by other animals. I still feel guilty over the high school dissections I performed in the 80s. I try not to even kill bugs, and feel terrible if I accidentally kill bugs, or fall back into a certain callousness to insects just because I’m tired and it’s been a long day of struggling with too-vivid dreams and depression and anxiety and worry and stress and allergies and workplace hell and I just want to make dinner and go to bed.

The point is; I am realizing what’s really important to me, after all these years. I don’t want to live in a world without animals and trees and wildness in nature. It kills me that the price of having a comfortable life as a human is yet another species going extinct or getting on the endangered list. Animals losing their homes. Trees being murdered. Rampant, unchecked, local-politician-supported-against-all-protective-laws destroying my beloved swamps and ecosystems in my home state of Florida (for example). That the trafficking of endangered species is more widespread than I could even imagine. Just to end up on a dinner plate, for vanity (decoration) or to spend life in captivity as someone’s trophy pet.

https://www.worldwildlife.org/threats/illegal-wildlife-trade

https://www.fws.gov/international/wildlife-trafficking/

So, maybe it’s partial selfishness as I enter into this transition #437–trying to figure out who I am and what kind of life I want to lead going forward. Sometimes it feels frustratingly slow, especially for someone as proactive as I am, coupled with seeing the clock run down for so many non-human lifeforms that we share (or not share) this planet with. It kills me that I’m just sitting here while non-human lifeforms are suffering and dying all around the world, because of us humans.

The takeaway? Who wants to live on a world stripped of trees and plants and birds and snakes and bugs and all the other wonderful diversity of life? Do we really want that on our conscience that we were part of an entire world destruction just because we want our Starbucks coffee and our designer clothes and diamonds and furs so that we know we are loved. What about loving other lifeforms, instead? What about appreciating and protecting the beauty that we already have? Who cares how beautiful we look in the mirror if we live in an ugly, desolate, plastic-bubble, sterile world?

 

So, take steps today. Make choices for the planet and not just for ourselves. Give up meat, even dairy. Buy organic and non-GMO foods. Start an urban garden. Adopt animals from a shelter instead of buying (inbred/puppy mill) breed animals. have your pets spayed/and neutered and keep cats indoor-only. Have yourself (the human equivalent) of spay/neuter–the world has plenty of adoptable children who need homes, too, right here on U.S. soil. Don’t wear fur or leather. Volunteer for animal rights causes. Stop using harmful pesticides and Round-up–learn about xeriscaping instead. Downsize your possessions. Reduce your carbon footprint. Don’t buy new–shop at thrift stores and purchase/remodel an older home rather than a brand-new (cheaply built) home/residence (do you really need six bedrooms and five bathrooms?).

I know I don’t want an entire planetary destruction on my conscience. So, my life going forward will be finding more ways to save the planet, outside of my usual armchair activist activities. Because I don’t want to be alone with just other humans for company. Even though I’m just one person, I want to change. And make change happen.

 

 

 

Sustainable Menstruation!

 

There’s much debate over the environmental impact over the products we women use to soak up our monthly bleeding. (Oh, come on, it’s 2016!!! Though, given the current state of things, sometimes I wonder…)

Anyhoo, the debate rages on such topics about comfort, period shaming, and women’s health. (Disclaimer: I have not received any products for free in the making of this review blog.)

Here’s a site I found that breaks it down pretty well:

https://rathofeve.wordpress.com/using-disposable-menstrual-products-what-are-the-environmental-impacts/

I, for one, was delighted to discover LunaPads back in the…90s? Years ago, anyway. (I discovered them in a Bitch Magazine ad) Disposable pads just didn’t cut it. I tried everything for years (sans tampons–not a fan)–heavy “flow”, wings, industrial-strength sponges (just kidding!), but nothing worked to prevent “leaks”. (Yep, yet another reason why I hated high school–aside from being a huge nerd, that is…LOL)

But LunaPads did. They were fantastic! I never had any problem after that. Well, until they changed their construction. The old ones had the wings on the inside, sewn directly into the base wing pad, and now they had one of the wingless inserts sewn onto the base. When I purchased a set of the new ones, I realised they were no longer as effective. I even contacted the company directly and asked them why they changed the construction and explained that they weren’t as effective, and they said they had customer requests and positive feedback about the new design, and that’s how they were going to be made from here on out.

So, I’m on the quest for new replacements. I have tried GladRags in the past, and they weren’t my first choice, but I might try them again, as I desperately need a more effective alternative. I’m also looking at the “Period Panties” that Thinx makes.

In any case, I put together a shopping list to get you started. Please, post up below with any feedback or comments on these products! Thanks!

http://www.shethinx.com/

http://gladrags.com/

http://lunapads.com/?geoip_country=US

http://www.earthwisegirls.co.uk/ecofriendlyperiods-g-19.html

http://www.theveganwoman.com/green-period-5-eco-friendly-vegan-period-products-will-change-life/

Happy Green Bleeding! (i.e. environmental, not Vulcan…it wouldn’t be the Chaos Fairy without some lame nerd humour!)

 

 

It’s a small (shark) world…learn to share it, humans!

“Fish are friends, not food.”–Finding Nemo

For my sustainable Saturday post, I was inspired to make the topic sharks.

Partially because of a tweet I saw this morning, which had a Care2 petition to urge FedEx to stop shipping shark fins. (Sign it here.), and partially because I saw an ad for a show that yet again played up the shark’s reputation as a vicious monster.

And, it’s Shark Week, as I just realized, belatedly.

Growing up near the ocean (well, the Gulf of Mexico, technically) as a kid, we learned to be smart in the water. If we were stupid enough to ignore shark alerts, or go swimming at night–things like that–well, it was our own damn fault if something were to happen to us. There just seemed to be common-sense things that you did without question, especially in regards to animals and nature in general. Guess it was a different world?

Here’s some sites with statistics that highlight the odds that are stacked against sharks (and, what fascinating creatures they are).  Because we humans have much more of an impact on sharks and other creatures than they do against us. Nature is not the enemy, we humans are.

http://sharkangels.org/issues-facing-sharks/looming-extinction

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shark_attack

http://natgeotv.com/ca/human-shark-bait/facts

http://www.seashepherd.org/sharks/?gclid=CjwKEAjwzN27BRDFn9aAwLmH2yISJABWuEXcbE1ZjUm_38HfOG-KUF1kz2bF-amjpdmsYj-SUnTzOhoCDnHw_wcB

http://aqua.org/blog/2014/november/shark-diversity?gclid=CjwKEAjwzN27BRDFn9aAwLmH2yISJABWuEXcc4VqKHMmfimolEXLk1U9TARcwqUSjjqD2GVTMaRwgBoCDGrw_wcB

http://www.oceanicresearch.org/education/wonders/sharks.html

http://www.livescience.com/topics/sharks

Save the Sharks!

 

Every Day (should be) Earth Day…

…so take action on one of these upcoming holidays and then celebrate with a beer from an eco-friendly brewery. Or vice versa. Cheers!

Yesterday  (June 17th) was World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought.

July 11: World Population Day

July 29: International Tiger Day

August 12: World Elephant Day

August 22: National Honey Bee Day

September 21: Zero Emissions Day

 

Here’s a whole list:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_environmental_dates

 

I have been dreaming of life in a pre-industrial (ideal) forest world lately. And,  a book called Green Mansions  has been on my mind lately, even though I haven’t read it since middle school. It may be a bit dated, but I still love my memory of the book.

Sarasota County Commissioners for sale/rent–available to the highest bidder…

Developer? Sport Hunter? Or, simply an individual property owner that hates leaf-dropping, old oak trees? Sarasota-Bradenton will welcome you with open arms! Pesky development and environmental/wildlife laws preventing you from cutting down old-growth trees, building on wetlands/protected natural areas, or hunting on wildlife like black bears? Not to worry–Sarasota County Commissioners will change local laws and regulations to suit your heart’s desire!

(Except where I’ve included links and quotes from newspaper and online articles, this is an opinion piece, and all opinions are mine, and mine alone. –A.C.F.)

On the wake of seeing homes like the one that was built in 1925 in my very neighbourhood demolished, and even this one (http://realestate.heraldtribune.com/2015/06/30/historic-119-year-old-reasoner-home-becomes-rubble/) meeting the wrecking ball, as well as beautiful old oak trees being cut down with no effort to preserve them (despite purported codes/laws in place protecting said trees), I was greeted by this article in the paper this morning that Randy Benderson, who infamously got permission to build a huge, wildlands-destroying and traffic-congesting mall, the University Town Center, “somehow” convinced Sarasota County Commissioners to “unanimously” grant his proposal to expand development to a whopping 600K feet of retail space and 100K of office space, according to the article (Read full article here). Not to mention that he’s going to be able to put in “nearly1,800 homes and 500 hotel rooms” on the site. But, no worries, the commissioners have learned to hide their bias towards/ties to developers behind convenient green-washing doublespeak. Supposedly, the “281-acre property…bolster(s) wetland protection.”

Here’s a novel idea, County Commissioners, why don’t you just simply PROTECT the wetlands and Florida’s natural ecosystem?

Oh, that’s right, because you are apparently carrying on with a trend in local Commissioner behavior–behavior which seems to point out that you pass measures that not only support a small influential percentage of the local population, but your own interests as well, as this article states “It wasn’t a tough sell for commissioners, most of whom shoot guns and frequent the range themselves.”

The article about the expansion of the shooting range in Nokomis goes on to inform us that the County commissioners allowed about 43 acres of protected natural land to be used for the expansion of the shooting range in Nokomis, despite environmental outcry, and the article suggests, by my interpretation, that you probably (illegally?) tried to keep it under the radar by not informing the public that it was coming under vote until the last minute.

(A small local paper presents another viewpoint into some of the issues facing Sarasota, often including reactionary articles on Benderson and County Commissioners that are interesting to read, simply because of the perspective offered on issues that would be hot-button among the voting demographic anywhere else: https://www.facebook.com/SarasotaPhoenixNews. )

Is it any wonder I (and other environmentally concerned Sarasota-Bradenton residents) feel so helpless? After all, we can’t compete with wealthy developers, out-of-state snowbirds (whose needs and wants are placed above those of long-term/year-round residents), or the special-interest groups that have the advantage simply because they reflect the needs and wants of our County Commissioners, as it suggests in many of the articles in the Sarasota Herald Tribune, and the events taking place “on the ground”.

Also, keep in mind that all this is happening while schools are underfunded, funding for the arts is being slashed, libraries don’t have enough funding and have had to slash staff and programs, social support programs are being neglected, and many people here are “lucky” to make minimum wage, and, even then, that is routinely exploited, with many businesses/individuals paying their employees under the minimum wage (I know about this tactic, firsthand, from personal experience in years of job hunting/working in Florida.)

I am saddened and angry beyond belief. And I have admitted defeat. I feel so powerless and alone to stop any of this from continuing to happen. Since I am poor and have no social status, I don’t matter. I can be sidelined like all of the other residents with heart, who care about what happens to not only Florida’s dwindling ecosystem, but to the local community and to preserving a sense-of-place connection with the area as well. I cried a lot this morning over the fate that Florida’s natural areas and wildlife faces in the face of political-based greed and favoritism. Not that the County Commissioners would notice, or even care, how members (like me) of their grassroots community would feel.

You win.

 

Destruction of Florida’s Ecosystem: Who Cares as Long as We Have Perfect Green Lawns!

It really seems that Floridians are becoming increasingly reliant on pesticides like Round-up, and other chemicals used to maintain green-grass landscaping here in Florida, even in city and state parks. Even my bank, busy promoting a “save-the-ocean” gimmick to get new clients sees nothing wrong with the fact that their landscaping (and sidewalks) is maintained by those eco-system chemicals/pesticides (I voiced more than one complaint).

Yes, I am always on my soapbox about this (not that anyone listens to just one voice, unless you have scads of $$$, of course), but here in Florida we have a vote coming up on November 4th: the Florida Water and Land Conservation Initiative, Amendment 1, which is part of the inspiration for this blog. I doubt that it will ban the use of Round-Up, etc. but I’m sadly cynical enough after having grown up here to hold out much hope that it will make any difference, no matter what it proposes. But, yes, I voted, in favour of it.

So, my science links garnered from around the Internet world have to do with Florida’s ecosystem, since the local politicians seem to have put the ecosystem/environment on the back burner in favour of catering to developers.

Green vs Brown (Cuban) Anoles–I remember when the green anoles populated our back yard, now we just have the brown lizards, and only rarely will I see one in the (Round-Up flooded) state parks/wilderness spots. Pretty cool!

http://www.iflscience.com/plants-and-animals/invaders-drove-lizards-evolve-stickier-feet-just-10-years

The impact of fertilizer run-off. We have almost year-round red tide, bacteria-laden water that made people sick when swimming, and a dead zone in the Gulf. I don’t even go swimming anymore. Who knows if this was even related, but one overcast evening I went out for a walk on Siesta Beach, and there was all these dark patches of algae on the beach. I realized that one patch of algae looked really weird, so I went over to look at it, ironically just as the moon came out of from the clouds–it was a dead seagull. As the moon came out more, it illuminated the beach. I realized it was not just one bird, but hundreds, all over the beach. The algae was not algae, it was dead seagulls, terns, etc. that I had been walking through. I went home and called the news hotline(s) to make a report, but it did not receive one bit of coverage–not on the TV or in the print/online news.

http://www.theledger.com/article/20121124/NEWS/121129635?tc=ar

Research paper on the impact turf lawns have on the local ecosystem, plus a more general research paper on the impact of Round-up type pesticides/chemicals:

http://www.wec.ufl.edu/extension/gc/harmony/landscaping/nativeandexotic.htm

https://www.lehigh.edu/~dpm2/Perez,%20et%20al%202007%20Ecological%20Applications%2017(8)%202310-2322.pdf

On the Monarch Butterfly:

http://e360.yale.edu/feature/tracking_the_causes_of_sharp__decline_of_the_monarch_butterfly/2634/

That’s just the beginning…plenty more out there, but please, Floridians, explore native plants and other non-toxic, drought-friendly landscaping over those toxic lawns (I “love” when I see “native” landscaping, having been planted for environmental purposes, routinely doused with Round-up, etc. to kill the weeds :-p).

It is just unbelievable how people think it’s safe, and to highlight just how scary it was, I watched the staffers at the local fairgrounds douse the grass with Round-up in front of an event, where, less than an hour later, you had little kids rolling around, eating the Round-Up laden grass, sticking their fingers in their mouths…How is it that people aren’t disturbed by that I will never understand.

Though I try to get involved and advocate for change, I just feel so powerless, and bitter, here in Florida…