Tracking Your Food

By Hannah Gartner

Being a responsible citizen of this world means understanding where one sits in it. This involves thinking about and understanding the historical, political, socioeconomic, and ecological impact of one’s actions. One great space to begin unpacking this is food, something each of us must interact with every day.

produceSource: Indiana State Department of Health

Most of us are fully aware that the majority of our food travels a very long distance to our plate. Fresh produce has the easiest origins to pinpoint, as the little sticker says what country it comes from. Harder to figure out is where in that country as well as what farm. With this in mind I grab two granny smith apples from my pantry. They are both from the US, and one includes the word “Washington”, making me believe it comes from Washington State. The other has five stars arranged in a circle, which, after a small amount of research, leads me to believe it is from Oklahoma, since the state seal there is a pentagram. I try to find more information by looking through the websites of the grocery stores I bought these apples from (City Market and Safeway), but can’t find these types of details on individual products.

This small experiment only begins to to show how complicated figuring out where our food comes from is. With processed and packaged food the difficulty grows exponentially. One box of macaroni and cheese will contain near twenty ingredients, and although it may say from where it is distributed, each of those ingredients may come from a different place. To pick apart where food comes from is therefore a huge research task.

What one can do though is get to know the global trends. Around the world their are twelve centers of food production located in North America, Central America, South America, the Western edge of the Mediterranean, Ethiopia, the Arabian Peninsula, Siberia, Central Asia, India, Western Asia and Japan, Southeast Asia, and Australia. If something you are eating was not grown or produced locally, most likely it comes from one of these hubs. We can get to know the climate and practices in each of these regions and try to buy in ways that support those that are more sustainable and fruitful.

Seed-Map-Poster_Where-Did-our-Food-Come-FromSource: SeedMapper.org

Quite obviously the easiest way to know where your food comes from is to buy locally, or to even grow your own food. For those of us who live in higher latitudes though this isn’t a year round option, so it is important to learn how to navigate the grocery store. I hope this gets you on the right path, and here are a few more helpful links:

Happy eating!

Sounds Under the Stars featuring Checkmate with Freda Burke and Company

By Hannah Gartner

Please join us at the Hayloft, Gamiing Nature Center’s music and events venue, this Saturday for a performance by Checkmate with Freda Burke and Company. This mix of folk, pop, and classic rock begins at 7:30pm. Tickets are $10.00 at the door and a cash bar is provided.

Hayloft_Heading__ImagesThe Hayloft was transformed from a barn to a venue two years ago. Through August there will be Saturday music events as part of our Sounds Under the Stars series. We are also offering multiple two day workshops on a variety of subjects throughout the Summer. A full list of events can be found here.

The Hayloft is located at the following address:

1884 Pigeon Lake Road
between Lindsay and Bobcaygeon
at Gamiing Nature Centre

We hope to see you there this Saturday evening!

It’s time to change your habit!

 

By Pooja Mishra

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Source : truehuenews.com

Recycling can easily make a big difference in protecting the environment. It helps reduce energy and other useful materials from being wasted. There are a lot of people out there who always keep in mind what things can or can’t be recycled and follow the instructions. But you may be surprised to know the fact that the things you have been throwing away in the blue bins, actually don’t belong there.

The Toronto city launched a campaign earlier this month as a reminder for people on what can and can’t go into recycling bin.  You will be surprised to know that those takeout coffee mugs, which we use on the go and have been throwing away in blue bins, thinking that they are recyclable, actually have to go in trash.

The takeout coffee mugs are coated with plastic and wax so they can’t go in recycle. There black lid also can’t go in blue bins, only non-plastic lids and cardboard cup sleeves can be recycled. According to the city, last year estimated 45,000 tonnes of garbage was mistakenly put into recycling bins.

Here is a small list of those things which we use on a daily basis and which can or can’t be recycled. We can help reduce global environmental damage by keeping this in mind and adding it to our daily routine.

 Can:

  1. Food packaging (Unwaxed only)
  2. Boxboard (Shoes box, gift box, cereal box)
  3. Aluminium foil
  4. All colors glass bottles and jars
  5. All plastics number 1-7
  6. Clean grocery and retail plastic bags
  7. Beer and wine bottles
  8. Kitchen cookware (metal pots, pans, tins, and utensils)
  9. Brown paper bags
  10. Newspapers and magazines

Can’t:

  1. Paper coffee cups
  2. Pizza boxes (with food and wax)
  3. Wet paper
  4. Plastic bottle caps
  5. Plastic Bags
  6. Juice Boxes
  7. Styrofoam
  8. Paper napkins or towel
  9. Heavy died papers
  10. Broken glass

 

 

 

Gardening is a Summer Pass-time That Gives Back

by Hannah Gartner

Summer is fast approaching, which means time spent outside. There are tons of fun things to do in the outdoors, but if you are looking to give back to the Earth while soaking up the sunshine, gardening is the way to go. Additionally, more and more research is finding that gardening is also good for human health in a multitude of ways.

IMG_1926A few of the plants from my own container garden.

Planting a garden improves the look of your yard, increases air quality, and if strategically placed can help alleviate erosion. Gardens can even help increase the energy efficiency of one’s home by providing shade that regulates heat. It is important to note that there are practices that can be decidedly harmful. Try to use products without chemical additives, and pesticides and herbicides only when absolutely necessary. If you do have a problem with pests search for natural, homemade repellents, there are plenty out there! Another way is to look for plants which encourage the bugs that help protect your garden and discourage those that will harm it.

When it comes to human health, gardening has been found to provide many of the things missing from the typical sedentary lifestyle. As a type of moderate-intensity exercise, gardeners tend to have lower BMIs and be in better shape. Being outside everyday also increases one’s vitamin D intake, which can help alleviate autoimmune disorders as well as flus and colds. Research has also found that gardening can reduce depression, improve self esteem, and even lower one’s chances of getting Alzheimer’s disease. Helping plants to flourish is an incredibly satisfying experiences, and it seems science agrees.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

My local community garden at the High Country Conservation Center in Frisco, CO.

These are just a smattering of the incredible benefits and joys that gardening can bring to one’s life. If you are interested, but don’t know where to start look to a local community garden or environmental group. Also, feel free to reach out. As a new gardener myself I understand how overwhelming it can be to get started. One of the most important things I’ve learned though is the experiential nature of this pass-time – to learn it you have to do it. So get out there and have a happy, productive Summer!

Happy Earth Day

By Pooja Mishra

“You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” —Jane Goodall

earth-day

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: www.50img.com

What better day can there be to kick off my April blog post than the Earth Day! A day that people celebrate each year on 22nd April through events, rallies, parades and show their support around the world. For me, Earth day is all about appreciating our nature and all the natural resources we have and also taking a pledge to not waste them by making small changes in my lifestyle. A small effort that I start off from my home.

Earth day was first celebrated on April 22nd 1970, in US. It was started by former US senator Gaylord Nelson after devastating oil spill in Santa Barbara, California in January and February of 1969. It was the largest oil spill in US waters at the time.

All these years we have been using all natural resources at a large scale without thinking of any future impacts. What will happen when we won’t have access to pure water and we have to travel miles and miles to get pure drinking water? And what will happen if we don’t have fresh air to breath, beautiful green trees, and plants? If we don’t start saving all the natural resources today then the day is not very far when our future generation have to struggle to get all these resources.

Image 3

Source: blog.savewater.com.au

In fact, these are the problems that we have already been facing for many years in our day to day life. There are so many people who don’t have access to all these natural resources. They have to struggle to get them. An average person generates 4.3 pounds of waste per day and that waste causes pollution, contributes to climate change and wastes natural resources.

Today, we are dependent on so many materialistic things to fulfil our basic needs. We use artificial things to complete our desire of natural resources. We use filter, water purifier to get pure and fresh water, why? Because our taps don’t have fresh water anymore. We don’t get fresh air under the sky. We have polluted it by various actions. We are so busy in making our life better through materialistic things that we always forget to appreciate what we already have. We all have artificial plants and flowers in our home. We have forgotten to grow them in our garden and keep them safe. We use plastics and throw them away to destroy the fertility of soil. It is high time we need to stop being selfish and try to do something for our environment.

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Source: toolboxtalk.weebly.com

Some small efforts can make a big difference to the health of all living things and the planet that we all call home. Little changes in our lifestyle can do wonders. Although, we are making great progress everywhere but there is more each of us can do. So next time when you go to grocery shopping, remember to get reusable bags instead of plastic bags. Avoid buying something that you are not going to use later. Buy things that you can use again or consider donating to someone else rather than throwing them way. Look around in your communities and neighbours to find a garden that can take your food scrapes for compost. Find out the place where you can put them for recycling. Remember to turn off lights all day when sunlight could be used. Keep your computers, printers, and all electronic items off when you are not using them. There are so many such small things that we can avoid in our day to day life.

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Source: earthday.ca

We always get all the things we want to fulfill our needs from the environment but somehow we don’t realize what our planet wants from us? We forget that we have limited resources and if we want to use them we have to save them. So let’s take a pledge today to make small changes in our lifestyle and start to make some difference starting from our homes. Appreciate our environment, love it, feel it and live with it.

 

Make a Pledge for Earth Day

By Hannah Gartner

With Earth Day tomorrow, now is a great time to make a pledge to improve the natural world. Small or large, there are many day to day changes that can be made which help reduce ones carbon footprint and increases the sustainability.

Pale Blue Dot copySource: National Geographic – This photo, titled “The Blue Marble”, was the first photo of Earth taken in its entirety. It was taken in 1972, two years after the first Earth Day.

Here are a few more simple pledges that can be made:

  • Stop eating cattle, pork, and sheep; take it a step further by cutting meat consumption to two or three times a week.
  • Start a compost pile, its easy and doesn’t take up that much space. Directions can be found here.
  • Commit to purging your life of disposable plastic.
  • Instead of buying new clothes go to the thrift shop or exchange clothes with your friends.
  • Volunteer for trash pickups, trail maintenance, or at your local garden.

Earth Day Vollunteers copySource: Politico

The more one gets to know nature the more they care for it, so the most fun pledge one can make is to spend more time exploring and learning about the Earth. Here are some ideas:

  • Go for a hike every month this year.
  • Plan the first annual family camping trip.
  • Go on science walks were you identify and catalogue the flora and fauna.
  • Take a trip to wide open spaces and spend the night identifying the stars.

Understanding is often the first step to change. Anything that fosters connection and caring for the natural world also helps it and can be a pledge.

800px-Crepuscular_rays_in_the_woods_of_Kasterlee,_BelgiumWhile we make these small changes in our lives, it is important to remember that systemic change is also needed. All over the world there are individuals, groups, and organizations working on the creating the changes that solve the large problems. Pay attention and support these activities whenever possible. One example is The Leap Manifesto, written by a wide array of activist groups, which tackles a huge portion of Canada’s environmental and social problems at once. Read it here and join the 39,000 who have signed it.

Gamiing Logo copy

This Saturday, April 23rd, The Gamiing Nature Center will be holding an event where everyone will be making there own pledge. These pledges will all be displayed on the wall as a symbol of our promise to help create a healthier Earth. More information on the event can be found here. Start thinking about your own pledge and we hope to see you on Saturday.

Forget Political Parties, Vote for the Natural World!

By Hannah Gartner

The vast number of countries in the modern world vote for who will head their government. Where I live in the United States we are currently undergoing a presidential election, without doubt the most important election that takes place here. This one is particularly important given that the candidates on the right are all anthropogenic climate change deniers. This has gotten me thinking a lot about how we can vote for the natural environment and help bring sound climate policy into politics.

Presidential Candidate Profiles 52Source: Conservative Review

The first step in determining the right candidate to vote for is to find their political platform for climate change. For the US presidential election this was relatively simple, since none of the Republican candidates have anything to say on this particular issue. As an environmentalist it is therefore clear to me that I can not vote for anyone in the Republican party. I believe that environmental issues are the most important issues we face, and feel that my vote must therefore be for someone who represents and believes the same.

The next step in voting for the natural world is to evaluate each platform. Hillary Clinton’s platform sets clear goals, but does not dive into details on how to accomplish these goals. It also completely ignores the international components of climate change. Bernie Sanders has a much more complete climate platform, although again the international components are lacking. Furthermore, it is important to look at each candidates history on these issues. Sanders has been talking about climate change for years, while Clinton has remained relatively silent.

3d rendering of a badge for the 2008 presidential election

The final step is to vote! Collecting this information and forming opinions means nothing if one does not act of them. So, wherever you live and whoever your candidates are, make sure you cast your vote for the natural world.

Amendment, 5/9/2016: Since writing this Clinton has released an environmental justice plan which can be found here.

World Water Day!

By Pooja Mishra

Source: news.Ik

Source: news.Ik

Can you imagine waking up in the morning without a single drop of water flowing from the taps of your home? Horrible right! We can’t even imagine few hours of our life without access to clean water. But do you know in spite of tremendous progress in science and technology; over 600 million people around the globe still don’t have access to clean water and adequate sanitation. Millions of people spend hours collecting fresh water every day. We never realize that how challenging it is for all those people who don’t have access to safe and clean water.

On 22nd March every year we celebrate the World Water Day, which was started in 1993. Since then it has been celebrated every year around the globe. Its mission is to get everyone access to safer water. It is a day to learn, make efforts and save water.

Water is a vital for sustenance of life. There are many areas where people are suffering from many water-related diseases including Diarrhea, Malaria and Pneumonia. Newborns are getting infected because of the hygiene problems and lack of safe water. The total amount of clean water has been declining rapidly.

Source:

Source: ibtimes.co.uk

Access to safe water is a first and foremost need/right of every human being. We always talk about drinking lots of water keeps you safe and healthy but what if the same water makes you sick. It is a disturbing fact that 82 percent of people who live in rural areas don’t have access to clean water. More than 840,000 people die every year from water related diseases caused by polluted drinking water, hygiene and sanitation.

Water is a precious thing that many of us take for granted. It is high time to take action for all those people who don’t have access to clean water, and the places where water needs are still a paramount. We should come forward together to find a solution.

On this day we all should take a pledge to learn more about water related issues, take required action and make a difference. By improving the access to clean and safe water, we can improve the lives of many people.

Social Impacts of Melting Sea Ice in the Arctic

By Hannah Gartner
As climate science has grown two of the areas most closely monitored are the poles. This past January saw record breaking lows of sea ice in the Arctic. For the years between 1981 and 2010 the average extent of sea ice for this time of year was measured to be 14.57 million square kilometers. Since 2005, January has consistently seen sea ice extent below 14.25 million square miles, and this year it reached only 13.53 million square miles. The effects that this loss will have on climate change remain unclear, yet there is consensus that there will be effects.

Sea Ice, Jan 2016
Source: ecowatch.com

What is more apparent is how sea ice, or lack thereof, impacts people in the Arctic. For over a century we have known of the Northwest Passage, a boating rout that takes one from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific through archipelagos above the Arctic Circle. For those in the Northern hemisphere this allows for a much shorter journey to the other side of the World then the conventional one through the Panama Canal. Over the past decade the number of vessels making this journey has risen to around 30 per year. Still, for large shipping containers the voyage can only be made in the Summer months when sea ice is lowest, and they need to bring along ice breaking technology.

As the ice recedes the tourism industry has also moved into the Northwest Passage. They too can only voyage in the Summer, but this does not change the fact that they are stopping in ports that previously would have been impossible. One example is Cambridge Bay, a town of 1,500, which until recently was only accessible by air. The added tourism is changing the culture of these towns. Tours and cultural centers have begun to crop up and the increased traffic is also increasing revenue.

Arctic Cruise
Source:bestholidaytrips.co.uk

For other areas though the outlook is not so positive. Shishmaref, a island town on the western coast of Alaska, has historically relied on Fall sea ice to stop the damaging impacts of storms. However, now the ice isn’t forming until December and the impact is the loss of about 50 feet of shoreline annually. The future of the people of Shishmaref becomes more uncertain each year, and there is consensus that they must relocate or perish. In the face of all this unknown, there is one nonnegotiable fact about receding sea ice – there will be massive affects that dramatically change life within the Arctic Circle.

Environmental Performance Index 2016- A quick checkpoint

By Pooja Mishra

Environmental Performance Index via phys.org

Environmental Performance Index via phys.org

Canada fell down a rank in 2016 Environmental Performance Index. Canada ranked 25th with a score of 85.06. Canada’s overall scored increased by 11.92% in comparison to the score in 2014, 73.14 which was good enough for a 24th rank.
For the past 15 years Yale and Columbia University have been ranking 180 countries on the bases of their environmental performance. This index ranks the performance of each nation in two areas: Protection of human health and protection of ecosystem. It is based on nine assessment areas including air quality, water & sanitation, health impacts, climate & energy, water resources, agriculture, forest, fisheries and biodiversity & habitant.

Canada’s score card:
13th rank with 99.65 score in water and sanitation
18th rank with 94.64 score in health impact
28th rank with 89.75 score in water resources
36th rank with 91.16 score in air quality
59th rank with 95.68 score in agriculture
64th rank with 74.59 score in climate and energy
82th rank with 39.1 score in forest
99th rank with 35.51 score in fisheries
111th rank with 74.5 score in biodiversity and habitat

Compared to last results, our performance has improved to13th rank in water and sanitation, 59th in agriculture, 82nd in forest but this progress has been very slow. In some other areas our performance has degraded since the last study. In 2014 we scored 100 out of 100 in health impacts. We need to focus more on our environmental issues.
Finland was ranked 1st with 90.68 score followed by Iceland (90.51), Sweden (90.43), Denmark (89.21), Slovenia (88.98).

For more and complete analysis click on epi.yale.edu