Vegan Hanukkah recipes that everyone will enjoy

December 10, 2020 by  
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Like most holidays, food is an integral part of Hanukkah . But as is often the case at holiday celebrations, it’s easy for vegans to feel left out of the fun. Don’t despair. Genius chefs have found workarounds so that vegans can eat a plant-based rendition of everything from matzo ball soup to brisket. Here are some recipes to accompany lighting the menorah. Latkes Latkes are a Hanukkah favorite, and there are so many ways to make these small and savory fried pancakes. Potatoes are the classic main ingredient, but other grated root vegetables like sweet potatoes, carrots or even beets will also work. Instead of using egg for a binder, vegan versions mix in potato starch or flax seed. Forks Over Knives offers a healthier baked version of potato-corn latkes . Or you can really go rogue with the Minimalist Baker’s recipe for samosa potato cakes with green chutney. As the Minimalist Baker herself puts it, “Everyone knows samosas are the best appetizer, so why not make them into latkes?” Serve with applesauce and/or vegan sour cream. Related: 5 tips for a green and happy Hanukkah! Brisket What?! Vegans don’t eat brisket. Well, not really. But the handy resource group Jewish Veg has a recipe for a jackfruit-based alternative. Just add crushed tomatoes, apple cider vinegar, red wine and a few more tasty ingredients, and you’ll have a new take on the traditional meaty main dish. Kugel Kugel is usually made as an egg noodle-based dessert casserole involving eggs and sweet cream sauce. But the Unconventional Baker replaces all that egg and dairy with a cashew-based cream cheese sauce and adds raisins and apples for sweetness. Or you can turn kugel savory with this recipe from the Spruce Eats . It uses carrots, onions, zucchini and potatoes, with the flexibility to add some of your other favorites. Matzo ball soup Matzo (also spelled matzah) ball soup is one of the most famous Jewish dishes and is especially know for its connection to Passover. But Hanukkah is also an excellent time to make it. The traditional way of preparing it is to float Ashkenazi Jewish soup dumplings called matzo balls — a mixture of matzo meal, water, eggs and chicken or other fat — in chicken soup. But you can substitute a delicious veggie broth and make vegan matzo balls. This recipe from The Edgy Veg uses coconut oil and potato starch as fat and binder. Forks Over Knives’ recipe for herbed vegan matzo ball soup holds it together with cooked quinoa and flax seed. And if you’re wondering, matzo meal is mostly wheat flour. Challah Braided challah bread can still be good even without the egg coating traditionally used to make it shiny on top. Instead, you can use soy or other plant-based milk to replicate the shine. There’s even a whole class of “water challah” recipes for those who avoid eggs. Water challah is more popular in Israel , while eggy challah prevails in the U.S. The Spruce Eats gets sweet with the topping in its maple-glazed vegan water challah . You can liven your bread up with poppy seeds, too. Blintzes Blintzes are sweet, thin crepes usually filled with fruit or cheese. It’s simple enough to swap out the usual milk and eggs in the batter. This recipe from Yum Vegan Lunch Ideas fakes the cream cheese with silken tofu , plus a little vanilla, powdered sugar, lemon juice, vegan butter and apple cider vinegar. Famous vegan chef Mark Reinfeld’s recipe for blueberry blintzes is on the Jewish Veg site and includes tahini and cardamom for extra flavor. If you keep your batter basic, it’s easy to go savory instead of sweet with the fillings. Applesauce Applesauce is almost always vegan . But you don’t have to settle for a bland version straight from the jar. Check out Cookie and Kate’s recipe for applesauce with maple and cinnamon. Or spice up your store-bought applesauce with something special, whether that’s a pinch of cayenne or some pureed cranberries. Cashew sour cream Top your latkes (and everything else) with freshly made cashew sour cream. The Simple Veganista recommends soaking the cashews in two to three inches of water for a couple of hours to soften them. Then all you have to do is add water, lemon, apple cider vinegar and salt to your high-speed food processor and blast them into cream. Chocolate babka Chocolate is important to any holiday celebration, and chocolate babka is good morning, noon or night. You’ll need plenty of vegan butter to make this delicious, pull-apart dessert bread. The Domestic Gothess provides easy-to-follow pictorial directions. Sufganiyot Part of the Hanukkah story is a miracle of long-lasting oil. As Jewish vegan activist Mayim Bialik explains on PETA’s website, “Sufganiyot, or jelly doughnuts, are a traditional food eaten for Hanukkah. The holiday falls in the winter and commemorates the miracle of oil that lights the menorah in the Great Temple in Jerusalem lasting for eight days rather than one. Foods fried in oil are thus traditional for this festive winter holiday. This is a recipe I veganized, and although it is labor-intensive, the results are unbelievably delicious.” Happy Hanukkah! Images via Pixabay and Adobe Stock Images

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Vegan Hanukkah recipes that everyone will enjoy

The best eco-friendly gifts for your grandparents

November 30, 2020 by  
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There’s no denying the holiday season is upon us. Whether that makes you ripple with excitement or reluctance, we have help for at least one of your holiday woes — what to buy the grandparents. Grandparents are notoriously difficult to buy for, but keep in mind that many of our loved ones enjoy useful household goods and homemade goodies. As a bonus, these ideas are even good for the Earth! Homemade bread There are endless variations of homemade bread, from cinnamon rolls to a pumpkin loaf. Make it with wheat flour or cater to gluten-free needs. Add seeds or nuts. Mix in some flax, chia or hemp — and don’t forget to add love! Make your homemade gift pretty with a beeswax or cloth food wrap, either of which can be reused again and again. Alternately, place it into a reusable produce bag that they can take to the grocery store later. Related: 9 sustainable living tips to take from our grandparents Aprons At the grill or over the stove, aprons take a beating. Supply grandma or grandpa with a new linen apron from Son de Flor . Linen is made from flax, a plant that is gentle to the environment. In addition to enriching the soil , flax requires less energy and water to manufacture into material than cotton. Even better, linen is completely biodegradable. Earth Polo For a classic polo that honors the planet, lean into the Ralph Lauren Earth Polo . Give grandpa one of 13 color options, all manufactured using an innovative fabric made entirely from plastic bottles. In addition, the rich colors are achieved using a waterless process . Organic handmade pasta Even if you haven’t mastered the art of making handmade pasta yourself, you can give the gift of organic food. Semolina Pasta uses semolina milled from organic durum wheat and makes its pastas in Los Angeles. Organic semolina is non-GMO and is grown sans pesticides or fertilizers. The mill sells by-products to the dairy industry, and there is nearly zero waste in the Semolina Pasta kitchen. For $25, you can put together a gift box filled with three pasta shapes of your choosing. Upcycled cribbage board For the grandparent who enjoys classic game time, give the gift of cribbage with the added benefit of reusing materials off the street. The Upcycled Cribbage Board from Art of Play is made from maple and other hardwoods. The unique inlay in the top is created using upcycled skateboards . Eliminating plastic in the design, the pegs are made of metal and can be neatly stored in a compartment on the bottom of the game board. Eco-friendly cookbooks Chelsea Green publishing not only provides a variety of unique cookbooks, but it is a leading publisher of books on all topics related to sustainable living. All books and catalogs are printed on chlorine-free recycled paper , using soy-based inks whenever possible. They are also printed in partnership with North American printing shops. Plus, Chelsea Green is 100% employee-owned. Here are a few of the popular book options that the grandparents in your life might appreciate. The Fruit Forager’s Companion provides insight for making use of fruit often left hanging on the branch. The art of fermentation has perhaps never been more in the spotlight, for the simple fact that fermented foods are good for your gut. Check out Koji Alchemy for recipes and processes related to koji. Also take a look at Wildcrafted Fermentation , a guide to lacto-fermentation using wild edibles. For grandparents committed to a restrictive diet for health or other reasons, consider The Grain-Free, Sugar-Free, Dairy-Free Family Cookbook , which is loaded with recipes that might even get the grandkids excited to roll up their sleeves and start cooking. Buckwheat pillow If your grandparents have the common issue of neck pain and trouble sleeping, a buckwheat pillow may be the solution. The heavy, firm Slumbr Ara Buckwheat Pillow offers personalized support with a design that is shaped by pushing around the buckwheat hulls. Once situated, the pillow retains its shape for consistent support through the night. Laundry kit Laundry is a fact of life, so a gift that makes the process more efficient is thoughtful for your recipient and the planet. LooHoo Wool Dryer Balls Gift Set includes three all-natural dryer balls that help dry clothes faster, and more economically, by saving energy. Wool is locally sourced near the business location in Maine. The gift set also includes a package of SoulShine Soap Company’s all-natural laundry soap, which comes without any wasteful plastic jugs. In addition, there is an equally Earth-friendly stain stick. The entire bundle comes in a box made from recycled cardboard and is plastic-free. Mason Bee Barrel Animal and nature enthusiasts will love this adorable Mason bee barrel via The Grommet . Not only is it visually appealing, but it provides a home for mason bees, which are crucial to planetary health. In return for a safe home, the bees will pollinate nearby flowers and gardens. Frog/toad house for garden If your grandparents enjoy their pond, this Ceramic Frog & Toad House is the perfect complementary item. The ceramic is made from natural materials and is 100% recyclable, giving a home to frogs and toads without damaging the ecosystem in which they thrive. Knitting needle system Keep those hand-knitted sweaters coming with this Adjustable Straight Knitting Needle System . The repetitive action of knitting can be hard on hands, especially when the yarn continuously slips down the needle. This rosewood knitting needle system uses a stopper and spring-loaded slider to keep the stitches at the top of the needle for easier, more enjoyable knitting. Images via Pixabay, Unsplash, Son de Flor, Ralph Lauren, Semolina Pasta, Art of Play, Slumbr, LooHoo and The Grommet

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The best eco-friendly gifts for your grandparents

Renewable energy is the cheapest source of electricity

October 28, 2020 by  
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A new report published by Rewiring America concludes that if everybody in the U.S. switched to solar, wind or other clean energy power, not only could the country reach zero emissions, but households would save an average of $1,050 to $2,585 annually on bills. This adds up to about $321 billion savings per year. The report, No Place Like Home: Fighting Climate Change (And Saving Money) by Electrifying America’s Households , found that more than 40% of U.S. energy-related carbon emissions come from normal household activities like cooking, bathing and commuting. The way forward, according to the report, is decarbonizing households through electrification. This means driving electric cars that we charge via our rooftop solar panels. Instead of powering appliances with natural gas, the report promotes electricity to power heat pumps, stoves and clothes dryers. Related: Japan aims to be carbon-neutral by 2050 “Too often we are told doing the right thing for the environment requires sacrifice and costs more,” Adam Zurofsky, executive director of Rewiring America , told The Guardian . “But no one is talking about the upside — we can actually make a better economy and save people money and a byproduct will be to cut emissions from residential buildings.” This optimistic attitude nicely coincides with an analysis recently released by financial giant Lazard. In Lazard’s Levelized Cost of Energy Analysis Version 14.0 , the firm concluded that wind and solar are the most affordable electricity sources. Building new solar plants is less expensive than keeping existing coal plants running. Of course, the upfront cost is the hitch for individual households. A larger-scale infrastructure will be necessary for all those solar panels, car chargers and batteries to work together. And it all has to happen pretty soon, before humans render the planet uninhabitable for their own species. That’s going to require government help. According to Zurofsky, “The federal government can make it dirt cheap for people to switch to renewables.” Now we have to make sure they do. Which reminds us, please vote. + Rewiring America Via Common Dreams , PV Magazine and The Guardian Image via Charlie Wilde

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Affordable and sustainable fashion trends for fall

October 26, 2020 by  
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The changing of the seasons always signals a change in style. But no season is as hard to dress for as fall. You have to be prepared for all kinds of weather, yet you still want to look put together. With the ongoing pandemic, it’s also important to be cozy and comfortable as you spend more time at home. So how can you dress for fall, dress for style and make sure you’re still doing it with comfort and sustainability in mind? There are many clothing brands that are dedicated to ethical, eco-friendly clothing that won’t break your budget. Jeans Jeans are truly the cornerstone of great fall fashion. They’re perfect in all weather situations, and they complement every fall 2020 trend from velvet blouses to platform boots. MUD Jeans is committed to maintaining an environmental standard with every pair of jeans it produces. It uses eco-friendly materials like recycled cotton and non-toxic dyes. As a company, MUD jeans closely monitors health and safety issues for all employees as well as its own supply chain to ensure that sustainable practices are followed. PETA has rated MUD Jeans as vegan . Activewear Activewear is really shining in 2020 as more people turn to yoga pants for lounging or workout clothes to keep up their fitness routines at home. Workout clothes are a great go-to for casual autumn outfits. They’re already designed to work well in layered outfits, and they’re available in a wide range of colors and designs so you can show off your personality. Vege Threads offers cotton activewear that is 100% certified Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS). Vege Threads clothing is made in Australia, where all products are certified by Ethical Clothing Australia. The supply chain is audited to ensure that all workers are treated and compensated ethically and fairly. Jewelry An outfit just isn’t complete without a little jewelry , which can also elevate any outfit for your next virtual meeting or happy hour. With the ongoing pandemic, jewelry has become one of the simplest ways to elevate your work-from-home outfit. Complete your wardrobe with jewelry from makers like Bario Neal . This ethical designer makes handmade rings with conflict-free gems and diamonds. Using recycled jewelry and recycled packaging, Bario Neal traces its entire supply chain and sources fair-trade materials. Article22 is another company to consider when purchasing jewelry for your fall outfits. This jewelry is handmade in Laos using recycled materials — namely shrapnel from the Vietnam War. Article22 ‘s mission is to not only provide beautiful jewelry but to improve social conditions in Laos by turning shrapnel into jewelry and clearing contaminated land. Accessories The scarf is fall’s quintessential accessory. A scarf can instantly add personality and class to any outfit. Frances Austen makes ethical cashmere scarves that are soft, beautiful and sustainably made with spun yarn. Each scarf is completely traceable all the way to the source. Cashmere is wrinkle-resistant and with Frances Austen, it’s responsibly sourced. The company’s clothing and accessories are made in Scotland in a family-owned factory that has been in business for 200 years. Related: These biodegradable sweaters ditch fast fashion in favor of sustainable cashmere New to this season, masks are the “it” item for fall 2020. By now, plenty of people and brands are making comfortable, stylish and eco-friendly reusable masks to match any outfit. Check Etsy for a wide range of handmade options, from plain to patterned to embroidered. Footwear Your choose can make or break a fall outfit. For one, fall footwear needs to be functional. As the weather turns cold, you want shoes that can keep your feet warm and hold their ground when ice and snow are around. It doesn’t hurt to have shoes that are stylish to boot, whether you go with flats, sneakers, mules or boots. If you’re on the hunt for a new pair to invest in for your fall wardrobe, you can find all of these styles at Everlane . This sustainable fashion company maintains a policy of “Radical Transparency”, so you know where its materials come from and how the products are made. This footwear is ethically made with recycled materials and a strong commitment to sustainability. Dresses Take all the guesswork out of getting dressed with cute dresses from Pact . No need to stare at your closet, wondering which separates will pair best together. Pact offers comfortable, chic and ethically made dresses that will look just as cute while you are at the pumpkin patch as they will when you are on the couch. Pact clothing is made in factories that follow fair-trade clothing guidelines. Everything is also made with organic cotton . Outerwear Fall weather isn’t always warm and welcoming. On those blustery days, you need jackets and vests to keep yourself warm. Patagonia has a gorgeous selection of outerwear items in varying styles. That includes puffy parkas, short jackets, hooded coats and vests, all of which are on-trend for fall 2020. Patagonia even offers a Worn Wear program , wear you can purchase used gear to save money and the resources required in making new garments . Best of all, Patagonia is a champion of change. This company engages in activism to prevent mining, protect public lands and save the planet. Patagonia is all about being active, getting involved and doing its part to promote not just sustainable clothing but also global change. Images via Ryan Wheatley / Vege Threads, Orders Mudjeans (MUD Jeans), Article22, Austin Wade and Adobe Stock

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Affordable and sustainable fashion trends for fall

10 fun and fascinating facts about sharks

August 10, 2020 by  
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Sharks are the apex predators of the oceans, but they’re more than movie monsters and beach horror stories. There’s a lot that most people don’t know about sharks and plenty more that scientists are still learning about them. More than 500 species of sharks swim the ocean depths, making up a diverse and endlessly fascinating group of animals who have been hunting the waters for millions of years longer than humans have been walking around on Earth. We’re still learning Sharks are ancient creatures who inhabited the Earth at the same time as the dinosaurs . But that doesn’t mean we know everything there is to know about them. In fact, we’re still making discoveries. The megamouth shark was only discovered in 1976, and fewer than 100 of these rare sharks have ever been seen. It grows to an average of 16 feet , we think, and siphons plankton out of the water to feed. Even more recently was the discovery of the pocket shark, a 5-inch shark found in the Gulf of Mexico. It glows under the water to attract prey. Related: How your beauty routine might be killing sharks Their teeth are healthier than yours Shark teeth are totally resistant to cavities . The teeth of sharks are covered in fluoride, an enamel known as fluorapatite. This material is resistant to acid created by bacteria. Sharks also go through several sets of teeth in their lifetimes, shedding and growing new teeth periodically. An average shark mouth will see about 30,000 teeth in one lifetime. Shark teeth are much healthier than human teeth, which need constant care and maintenance. They can clone themselves Through a process that has been observed in many animals , sharks can clone themselves through parthenogenesis , a type of external fertilization. This has been seen in female sharks being kept in captivity. Sharks aren’t that dangerous Humans are a far greater danger to sharks than they are to us. Though it makes for a pretty good movie, there are fewer than 200 shark-human interactions globally every single year. Meanwhile, humans kill about 100 million sharks annually, mostly through hunting. Sharks have a variety of feeding habits. Many species of sharks are filter feeders that eat small marine life , such as clams, and many are bottom feeders who use suction to gather food. Only some species of sharks are hunters that attack seals, dolphins and other large sea creatures. They’re resilient Not only did sharks survive the extinction event that brought an end to the dinosaurs, but they’ve also survived five total mass extinction events on planet Earth. Sharks first appeared in the planet’s oceans over 400 million years ago. That makes them even older than trees. Sharks were swimming in the oceans before dinosaurs roamed the planet. They survived a mass extinction event that killed 75% of all living species on Earth , including many ocean-dwelling species. Then, they survived an event that killed 96% of all marine life on the planet. This is why sharks are often referred to as “living fossils.” The great white isn’t the biggest shark Movies have made the great white shark famous as a predator, but it’s not the biggest shark in the ocean. That honor goes to the whale shark, which grows up to 60 feet in length . Though it has the size, the whale shark doesn’t have the terrifying look that makes the great white shark so distinct. This giant of the water feeds on small fish , plankton and invertebrates. That means whale sharks don’t have those razor-sharp teeth and huge jaws that make the great white shark such a perfectly terrifying villain. By comparison, the great white shark grows up to 20 feet at most. They have a sixth sense Sharks have the same five senses as human beings — plus one more. Sharks have an organ in their snouts, ampullae of Lorenzini, that allows them to sense electrical fields in the water emitted by other fish and marine life. Lion vs. shark? In the battle of lion against shark, if such a battle was possible, sharks would win pretty easily. A lion bite is weaker than you might imagine, about 650 PSI (pound-force per square inch). A shark bite is much more powerful. In a single snap, a great white shark can produce up to 4,000 PSI. They don’t vocalize Despite what you may have seen in “Finding Nemo,” sharks definitely can’t talk, even to other fish. Sharks have no vocal cords; therefore, they make no vocal sounds whatsoever. Instead, they communicate through body language. A mega shark was once real “Jaws” isn’t just a movie, it’s reality. Well, kind of. There once was an enormous shark that swam the ocean depths. The megalodon inhabited the Earth’s oceans 20 million years ago , becoming extinct about 3.6 million years ago. This monster was the largest shark to ever swim the oceans and the largest fish the planet has ever known, up to three times the size of the longest great white shark. Sharks are truly fascinating creatures, and they have much more to fear from us than we do of them. They’ve managed to survive on a planet that’s known for being rocked by massive extinction events, living long enough to see the rise and the fall of the dinosaurs and the evolution of plant life on the planet. Now, they swim the same waters as human beings. The more you research about these hunters of the deep, the more you’ll find that learning about sharks is pretty fun. Via NOAA and WWF Images via NOAA ( 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 )

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10 fun and fascinating facts about sharks

Celebrate National Pollinator Week from June 22-28

June 23, 2020 by  
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Thirteen years ago, Pollinator Partnership initiated the annual designation of a week in June to help address the urgent issue of declining pollinator populations. Backed by unanimous approval from the U.S. Senate, Pollinator Week has grown into an international celebration of the fragile ecosystem of bees , birds, butterflies, bats and beetles that help contribute to about 75% of all flowering plant species that require animal pollinators for reproduction. So, what are some of the best ways to help out our planet’s little pollinators? If you have access to a backyard, a window box, a garden or some kind of green space, plant some flowers that are pollinator-friendly. The types of plants that attract bees, butterflies and other pollinators vary by region, so use an Ecoregional Planting Guide to learn which ones will make the pollinators in your area the happiest. Knowing your soil type, planting flowers in clusters for pollinators to target and planting for continuous bloom will help. Related: The best plants for attracting pollinators to your yard Try to reduce or eliminate your use of pesticides whenever possible. Pollinator Partnership offers a digitized training module for farmers and certified pesticide applicators to help increase awareness and skill in minimizing the effects of pesticide applications. Register as part of the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge to connect with other gardeners and pollinator-enthusiasts for free, and upload photos or videos of your pollinator site, view profiles of pollinator-friendly plants, measure pollinator progress and highlight areas in need of pollinator action. If you don’t have a green thumb, support your local bees and beekeepers by buying local honey (buying locally sourced products keeps transportation-based carbon emissions low, as well). Because bees, butterflies and other pollinators are drastically affected by climate change , any effort to conserve resources, use less and reduce your carbon footprint is a huge win for everyone. Check out the Pollinator Partnership’s online toolkit for resources and activity ideas for all ages, from webinars on monarch butterfly habitat restoration and pollinator-themed crossword puzzles to school gardening kits and instructions for building a bee box. Each year, local establishments and buildings light up yellow and orange in support of pollinators during Pollinator Week. Participating destinations have included the Empire State Building in New York City, CN Tower in Toronto, City Hall in San Francisco and Niagara Falls in the past. Add lightings, activities and “My Pollinators, My Story” registered gardens to the website’s map . You can also check for local public events in your own neighborhood to participate in and view governor proclamations from all 50 states. + Pollinator Partnership Images via Cole Keister , Mpho Hlakudi and John Duncan

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Celebrate National Pollinator Week from June 22-28

Tips for reducing food waste amid coronavirus

May 14, 2020 by  
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In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, people are panic-buying groceries that may or may not be used before they expire, leading to unprecedented amounts of food waste. Meanwhile, restaurants and farms are having to throw out unsold and unused food and dairy products. To help lessen the impact, follow these tips to reduce your household’s food waste during the pandemic and beyond. Food waste represents around 8% of greenhouse gas emissions. Studies have shown that humans waste one of every three food calories produced — enough to feed 3 billion mouths, about 10 times the population of the U.S. or 25% of the world’s 815 million undernourished people. Financially, food waste presents an additional burden; the average American family wastes $1,866 worth of food annually. But the pandemic could make these circumstances worse. Related: How to make a meal out of leftover veggies According to the The New York Times , farmers and ranchers have been forced to dump tens of millions of pounds of food that they are unable to sell due to the closures of schools, restaurants and hotels. Amid these difficult times, they simply do not have the financial means to ship and distribute their produce. Dairy Farmers of America estimated that farmers are dumping upward of 3.7 million gallons of milk every day, and some chicken processors are smashing 750,000 eggs each week. Exporting excess food is difficult because the pandemic is affecting the entire world. The cost of crop harvesting and processing without the promise of profit is causing portions of the agriculture industry to face financial strains that they have never seen before. Yet, Americans are continuing to see empty shelves at grocery stores, and, according to Feeding America , 98% of food banks in the United States reported an increased demand for food assistance since the beginning of March, and 59% of food banks have less food available. COVID-19 has disrupted nearly every aspect of the food supply chain. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has updated its food waste initiative to reflect additional issues presented by the novel coronavirus. WWF is also helping to bring people together from different food-related industries and schools to find new approaches to reducing food waste with Further With Food . The organization is also providing opportunities to teach and learn about sustainability, water conservation and the connections between food and the environment with Wild Classroom Daily Activity Plans . April 29 was Stop Food Waste Day , a movement introduced in 2017 to help the world reach the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to halve food waste by 2030. Although a vast number of people around the world are experiencing difficult times, the coronavirus pandemic has also presented many with the opportunity to rethink their habits — including those involving food . Plan ahead Plan your meals ahead of time to ensure that no food goes to waste. Even better, start food prepping so you have time to accomplish other things during the week. Something as simple as making a list or taking inventory of the food you already have in the kitchen before heading to the grocery store can save time, money and food. Related: How to stock a vegan pandemic pantry Try new recipes If there was ever a time to try out those recipes from Pinterest, it is now. Browse social media, ask your friends, scour the internet for creative recipes; you may discover a new way to use those food items you stocked up on a while ago. Preserve and freeze Have some wilting beets in the vegetable crisper you won’t get to before the end of the week or leftover red onion you have no room for in future recipes? Do a quick-pickle to extend the life of your produce (don’t forget to follow correct pickling and canning procedures to avoid getting sick). Consider whether or not you can freeze something before throwing it out, too. For example, before your bananas have the chance to go bad, peel them and store them in the freezer to use for smoothies. Related: Your guide to preserving, storing and canning food Use every bit of food Store unused mushroom stems, onion ends, herbs, carrot stubs and celery leaves in the freezer to use for broth. Save the carcass if you roast a whole chicken, too. Though it takes several hours to complete, making bone broth is super simple and a great way to get those added nutrients without having to purchase store-bought stock. Start with these recipes for simple bone broth and vegan vegetable broth by Minimalist Baker. Learn a trick or two If you notice that some of your produce is starting to shrivel in the refrigerator, revitalize them. Some vegetables, such as lettuce, are reinvigorated with an ice water bath. Asparagus will last longer if you keep the stalks moist by wrapping them with a damp paper towel or storing them upright in a glass of water in the fridge. Check out this infographic on how to make fresh food last longer . Educate yourself on food labeling Food labels can be intimidating for some shoppers, and sometimes consumers tend to err on the side of caution by tossing out food before it has truly gone bad. Don’t confuse the “best by,” “sell by” and “best before” labels. Check out the USDA website for some amazing resources for proper food storage and handling , including information on the FoodKeeper App for the best tips on food freshness and answers to common questions about food product dating . Sharing is caring During times of uncertainty, frustration and fear, humans are always stronger together. Though most of us are unable to see friends, family and neighbors in person for now, dropping off some extra food — if you can spare it — certainly goes a long way for those in need. Remember to only purchase what you need so that other members of your community have enough resources available to get by. Share recipes, donate extra food to your local food bank and remember — we’re all in this together! Images via Jasmin Sessler , Ella Olsson , Hans , Tatiana Byzova

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Tips for reducing food waste amid coronavirus

‘Tiger King’ drama overshadows abuse of captive tigers in U.S.

April 24, 2020 by  
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Netflix’s wildly popular “Tiger King” documentary series has been progressively sweeping the nation since it first aired on March 20. As an outrageous, binge-worthy drama released when self-isolation and uncertainty were spreading around the world, the show certainly came at the right time to provide an escape from the news. Overnight, it seemed, conversations that didn’t revolve around the coronavirus or Joe Exotic were hard to come by. Photos of celebrities who’d visited the zoos were flooding the internet, Joe Exotic’s power-ballads were hitting it big on Spotify and even President Donald Trump was fielding questions about the gun-toting zookeeper during press briefings. While the eccentric documentary reveals some disturbing truths about the enigmatic underworld it portrays, the show’s colorful characters tend to overshadow serious animal welfare issues. The dizzying murder-mystery component camouflages animal cruelty behind a jaw-dropping “you have to see it to believe it” drama. Now that the initial buzz of the show has started to die down, animal conservationists are begging the public to take a closer look at what the series failed to address: why, and how, these types of animal “sanctuaries” are legal in the United States. Related: Bronx Zoo tiger tests positive for coronavirus The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) believes that the illegal wildlife trade presents the most substantial incentive for exotic animal breeding and estimates that a vast majority of the captive tigers in the U.S. are living inside people’s backyards, roadside attractions and private breeding facilities. “Tigers should not be kept or bred for entertainment or trade in their parts and products,” said Leigh Henry, director of wildlife policy for WWF USA. “As a leader in promoting the conservation of tigers globally, the United States has a responsibility to manage the staggering 5,000 estimated captive tigers within its own borders.” The tigers remaining in the wild currently number around 3,900 and are continuing to be threatened due to poaching , illegal trade and habitat loss. Surprisingly, only an estimated 6% of the captive tiger population in the U.S. live inside zoos and facilities accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). Because tigers in the United States are regulated by a combination of federal, state and local laws, there is no single government agency monitoring the location, ownership or sales of the tigers or what happens to their parts when they die. According to Henry, any supply of tiger parts into the black market stimulates trade and customer demand, posing additional risks to the wild tiger population. Tiger abuse in the U.S. was on the radar well before Netflix aired “Tiger King.” In 2006, Joe Exotic’s GW Exotic Animal Park was fined $25,000 by the USDA for not providing adequate veterinary care or sufficient staff. Back in 2011, the Humane Society put an investigator undercover as an animal caretaker inside the park for about four months. They found hundreds of animals caged in barren conditions, cared for by workers with little-to-no experience and tiger cubs that were “punched, dragged, and hit with whips.” During that time, GW Exotic Animal Park was under investigation by the USDA for the deaths of 23 tiger cubs between 2009 and 2010. Even Emmy Award-winning comedian and political commentator John Oliver recently recalled learning about Joe Exotic in 2016. “Our researcher went back through his notes and did say, ‘It seems like the park he’s running is a little bit dangerous, we may not want to hold hands too closely with this, “ Oliver said . “Plus he started ranting about a woman named Carole.’” For the places that make their money from public encounters with tigers, continuous breeding is key in maintaining a constant supply of cubs for entertaining guests. Because of this, tigers are often inbred, causing birth defects and health issues that make them unsuitable for reintroduction into the wild . Most of the privately owned tigers in the U.S. are of mixed or unknown lineage, making them unable to participate in legitimate captive-breeding efforts in accredited zoos and institutions as well. “Facilities like Joe Exotic’s and Doc Antle’s masquerade as rescue or conservation operations, but in fact they breed tigers and subject the cubs, who are torn from their mothers immediately after birth, to stress and abuse,” said Kitty Block, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States and the CEO of Humane Society International. “After a few months, when the cubs are too large for close encounters with the public and the opportunity for profit is over, the cubs are caged, sold into the pet trade or die. This cycle of breeding for temporary use leads to a surplus of unwanted animals who languish in horrible conditions.” When it comes to ethical animal sanctuaries, the leading authority is the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS). This accrediting organization requires sanctuaries to meet animal-welfare standards exceeding the federal Animal Welfare Act minimum. National Geographic also outlines several things to look for when participating in wildlife tourism . According to the GFAS, sanctuaries must provide lifetime care for abused, injured or abandoned animals, and rehabilitation or rescue centers are meant to provide temporary care with the goal of either releasing animals back into the wild or placing them in permanent care. To be accredited in the AZA, the leading non-profit organization connected to zoos and aquariums in terms of conservation, companies must go through a rigorous application process . Both the AZA and the GFAS provide lists of accredited facilities on their websites. Since the documentary was filmed, 39 of Joe Exotic’s tigers have been rescued and are now living peacefully inside The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Colorado (you can see a video of the tigers’ new living conditions here ). WWF and the Humane Society are continuing to call for greater supervision and protection of captive tigers with the introduction of the Big Cat Public Safety Act . The act and its accompanying bill prohibiting cub petting are scheduled to be voted on by the end of the year. One could argue that “Tiger King” inspired viewership in ways that a more deliberate, expose-style documentary simply could not accomplish. Though the more severe components of the documentary have been masked by a barrage of memes and Twitter-fueled jokes, the ones who suffered the most in this human drama were actually the animals . Hopefully, what begins to come out of “Tiger King” will be the public’s refusal to let spectacle overpower mindfulness and that we all learn to see beyond the flashy images to realize that animal abuse is wrong — no matter how captivating the abusers are. Via National Geographic and World Wildlife Fund Images via Pixabay

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How to celebrate Earth Day virtually in 2020

April 17, 2020 by  
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With social distancing in full force this Earth Day , the 50th anniversary of this environmental movement is certainly one for the history books. Just because you can’t go outside in large groups this year doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of inventive ways to celebrate Earth, though. The Earth Day 2020 theme is “climate action,” and while we aren’t able to come together physically this year, technology is presenting some unique opportunities to show your love for the Earth virtually. Learn the history The first Earth Day took place on April 22, 1970, when 20 million Americans (about 10% of the U.S. population at that time) took to the streets and college campuses to protest environmental ignorance and promote environmental awareness. The movement, now recognized as the world’s largest civic event each year, launched the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency and passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species Acts. Related: How Earth Day began and how it helps the planet Take a virtual tour Because many of us are now homeschooling kids, Google has created 360-degree tours of 113 different national park sites, including monuments, historic sites and shorelines. The Nature Conservancy also features a series of virtual field trips designed for grades 5-8. Live webcams have also gained popularity since social distancing began. People may be staying indoors for the most part, but animals are still keeping up with their daily routines. Check out live feeds of marine animals at Monterey Bay Aquarium or a series of different feeds, from remote locations throughout Africa to rescue animal facilities around the world, with Explore.org . Earthx , in partnership with National Geographic, is streaming everything from speaker series to film festivals to student activities via its website. Participate in a running challenge A healthy running challenge that raises awareness for the environment is a win-win to celebrate this year’s Earth Day. The 2020 Earth Day Run presented by The Virtual Run Challenge encourages participants to spend the month of April (though you can start anytime) to collectively run the distance of the equator — 24,901 miles. Log your running and walking miles every day and connect with others for a common goal; participation is free. Related: Orca Running offers a Social Distance Run Virtual Strides is celebrating Earth Day by hosting the 5K/10K/Half-Marathon Earth Run virtually. After runners (or walkers) finish their course, they can upload results and photos to the website. Registration isn’t free, but a portion of the proceeds from the race (around $4 from each registration) will be donated to EarthShare, a non-profit that supports critical environmental causes. In the past, the organization has raised more than $300 million for programs benefiting air, land, water, wildlife and public health. Download the Earth Challenge 2020 app By downloading the Earth Challenge 2020 app , you’ll help gather critical environmental data near your area, providing scientists and other “citizen scientists” with research to help maintain a cleaner planet. Users measure air quality and plastic pollution where they are and add each reading to a global database. Related: Earth Day 2020 goes digital For example, Earth Challenge 2020 launched its monarch butterfly project on April 1 with a goal to fill 1 billion data points before the month’s end. When users launch the app, they are able to snap pictures of insects that they see, submit them to be verified and allow scientists to better understand the distribution of butterflies and migration patterns. This kind of knowledge is essential to identify the different regions that need habitat restoration. Take action From April 20 to April 25, more than 100 speakers from five continents will participate in the largest online climate conference ever held to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Topics ranging from climate finance and agriculture to circular economy and politics will be discussed and can be viewed virtually via the partnership program We Don’t Have Time . Sign up with the official Earth Day website volunteer database for the latest resources and information on at-home or online activities as well as ways to spread the word to your friends. You can also create your own “act of green” and share it with the rest of the Earth Day community. The official Earth Day website also has a planning guide to help get people inspired and organized; check the map for ideas and to see how other people around the world are celebrating. Spread the word Digital tools are making it easier than ever to connect, especially through social media. You can bring your friends, teachers and family together to raise awareness and do their own part for the environment. Utilize Vote Earth to take the pledge to vote for climate candidates . The global initiative has already mobilized millions of people who wish to show their concern for the Earth and demand change at the polls. Sign up on the website to pledge to vote for candidates who support sustainability in your next election, and you’ll have the option to receive automatic email reminders to vote. + Earth Day Images via Carl Heyerdahl , University of Michigan School of Environment and Sustainability , Arek Adeoye , U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southeast Region

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12 surprising things that arent vegan

January 16, 2020 by  
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It’s hard to stick to a vegan lifestyle. It can be easy to be foiled by ingredients that just slip right by you, and these aren’t just in food . A surprising number of non-food items also contain animal-derived ingredients. What’s a wannabe vegan to do? Remember that drastically cutting down on animal consumption is good for the planet, even if you fall short of 100 percent. If you want to be as close to completely vegan as possible, here’s a list of some surprising foods and other items that aren’t necessarily vegan. Sugar The sugar industry uses bone char from slaughtered cattle to remove the color from sugar so it becomes a lovely, bright white. What about using brown sugar? Unfortunately, that’s made of white sugar with molasses added to it. If you want to avoid bone char-processed sugar, buy organic, unrefined, beet or coconut sugar. You can also consult PETA’s list of manufacturers that forego the bones. Condoms Many condom manufacturers use the milk derivative casein for a smooth feel. If you can do without that texture, check out vegan-friendly brands . Altoids Would you like some tendons with your fresh breath? Yep, those ubiquitous mints contain gelatin. Time for a Tic Tac instead, or opt for the Altoids labeled “sugar-free smalls,” which do not contain gelatin. Related: 10 vegan myths, debunked Tattoo ink Charcoal can be made from plant or animal origins. But many of the black dyes used in tattooing are made with charcoal derived from animal bones. Other non-vegan ingredients in tattoo ink are glycerin (from animal fat), gelatin and shellac (made from crushed beetles). If vegan ink is important to you, consult this international list of vegan-friendly tattoo artists . Apple juice Now, it’s time for something really gross. Some companies use isinglass, or fish bladders, to clarify their apple juice. Paintballs Animal tendons and sinews find their way into a lot of food and non-food products. The outer layers of paintball capsules are usually made of gelatin. Dryer sheets Dryer sheets are designed to fight static electricity and make clothes soft and lint-resistant. But what keeps the sheets from drying out? In some cases, animal fat. Urban Vegan assembled a list of vegan alternatives , if you happen to use dryer sheets. Alternatively, you can also reduce your waste by opting to use wool dryer balls. Paint and makeup brushes Artists and anybody who uses makeup might wonder, where did the hairs in my brush come from? They might be synthetic, or they might be from some poor pig, squirrel, sable or Siberian weasel. Artists, consult this list of cruelty-free brushes , and here’s a list of vegan makeup brushes . Related: The pros and cons of going vegan Crayons In other art supply news, crayons contain stearic acid. This ingredient occurs naturally in plants and animals. But it’s often animal-derived, a slaughterhouse byproduct. Crayons are one of many products that contain stearic acid, including soaps, cosmetics, candles, lubricants, chewing gum and hairspray. If you prefer your crayons vegan, check out these triangular ones made by Melissa and Doug . Worcestershire sauce Newer vegans might not have realized this yet, but traditional Worcestershire sauce contains anchovies. Instead, make your own or buy this vegan, organic Worcestershire sauce from trusted brand, Annie’s. Soy cheese If you’re vegan, you probably already know that many regular cheeses aren’t even vegetarian, because they contain rennet, enzymes produced in bovine stomachs that help cheese curdle. But did you know many soy cheeses aren’t vegan? They often contain casein, which seems really weird, because why would you even want soy cheese if you weren’t vegan? British money Vegans who live in or are visiting Britain aren’t thrilled to handle the £5 notes, which contain tallow, an animal fat derivative. It is used to make the bills anti-static and less slippery. British vegans and vegetarians have been protesting since the new notes were introduced in 2016. This month, a British employment judge ruled that the Equality Act should also apply to people who sincerely believe in ethical veganism. How an indirect discrimination case will affect the bank notes is still to be seen. Plastic bags Could be beef tallow, could be chicken fat — most plastic bags use some type of animal fat as “slip agents” to prevent bags from sticking together. One more good reason for banning plastic bags ! Images via Shutterstock

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