Project O.C.E.A.N. Hawaiʻi Interview

Recently, Eco-Youth had the amazing opportunity to have a social media interview on Instagram  with Dyason Chee, founder of Project O.C.E.A.N. Hawai’i. We are so honored to work with such a special, hard-working, and determined individual. At only such a young age, Chee has done so many outstanding things in tackling plastic pollution and helping improve the environment.

Briefly introduce yourself to the audience and tell us about your journey – where do you live and study, what got you interested in the environment and plastic pollution, and what are you doing at the moment?

Aloha mai kākou! My name is Dyson Chee, and I am a college freshman living in Honolulu, Hawaiʻi. My story starts with the ocean. Living in Hawaiʻi youʻre completely surrounded by the ocean, so I grew up with it and it became my second home. I loved going to the beach and exploring the deep blue waters. Eventually, my exploration of the ocean led me to something called plastic pollution. As I went to the beach, I gradually began to notice the rubbish that was strewn about it, and it only got worse as time went by. I eventually decided that I had to do something to protect my second home, and that is when I started taking on plastic pollution through Project O.C.E.A.N.

What is Project O.C.E.A.N. Hawai’i? How was it founded? What issues does it address and what is its main goal(s)?

Project O.C.E.A.N. Hawaii takes on single-use plastic pollution through two means: education and activism. Education involves letting people know that plastic pollution is a problem, and more importantly what we can do about it. And one of the ways we can take on plastic pollution is through activism. Activism involves passing legislation and getting the community civically engaged with this legislation.

What action do you believe everyone could/should be involved in to create a positive change and impact towards climate change and the environment? What are you most excited about for the future?

I believe that everyone should be civically involved. I know a lot of the solutions are focused on individual consumption, which does matter. Unfortunately, individual consumption alone will never solve the climate crisis. We are already seeing this in the COVID-19 pandemic–air travel has gone down drastically, yet the amount of emissions going into the air are still extraordinarily high. Why? Well part of it is the fact that we are still largely dependent on fossil fuels, and as we are all at home we are having to use more energy than usual. But for those of use who are dependent on the electricity grid, itʻs not like we can just say, “well Iʻm not going to use electricity since itʻs all fossil fuels.” And you can only reduce your consumption by so much. As an individual you still do have power, and that power is strongest when we get together and advocate. Advocate for energy companies to transition to clean energy. Advocate for the government to take meaningful climate action. This is what makes me excited: when the community gets together and successfully advocates for something.

Do you have any advice to people who want to help the environment, particularly fight climate change, but don’t know where to start? What advice can you give for newer organizations, like Eco-Youth, that will help grow their platform and gain a bigger audience?

This advice is very specifically geared towards those who are interested in using activism and advocacy as a means of fighting climate change (or any issue, really). Donʻt be afraid to start small. When we think of government, we usually think of national or international bodies. Like the President, or the United Nations. While it is true that both are a part of governments, they are not necessarily the most impactful ones in your community. The state, county, and city governments have a lot of power, and their decisions are usually the ones that impact everyday life for you and your community. So start there. They are easier to access, are more likely to listen to you, and can be more open to change.

What great things does Project O.C.E.A.N. Hawai’i plan to do next? What is its future and do you plan to expand this initiative beyond just Hawai’i?

For growing your platform and building a larger audience, Iʻll be honest, you just have to put in the work and energy. But what does help is to partner with other organizations. You can both help each other grow your platforms, collaborate on projects, and create coalitions to support each other. That coalition building has been very helpful in Hawaiʻi, especially when there is a specific goal (for example, passing a bill). I have actually since moved on to Hawaiʻi Youth Climate Coalition, another organization focused on achieving climate justice. However, I still do presentations under the umbrella of Project O.C.E.A.N.

Besides being a guest on the Lonely Whale podcast, 52 Hertz, where can people learn more about you and Project O.C.E.A.N. Hawai’i?

So if anyone would like to contact me, please feel free to reach out to either projectoceanhawaii@gmail.com or my Instagram @project_ocean_hawaii.

Listen to Dyson Chee on Episode 4 of 52 Hertz: The Lonely Whale Podcast. Check out Eco-Youth’s article, Lonely Whale Interiew, to learn more about Lonely Whale.

Lonely Whale Interview

Recently, Eco-Youth had the amazing opportunity to have an email interview with Mindy Ramaker, the Creative Producer at Lonely Whale. We are so honored to work with such a hard working and determined organization. Lonely Whale has made outstanding strides in helping improve the conditions of the oceans and the environment.

“We live in a lonely, plastic world. But together we can change that.” -Lonely Whale

1. What is Lonely Whale? How was it founded? What issues does it address and what is its main goal(s)?

Actor-Activist Adrian Grenier and producer Lucy Sumner founded Lonely Whale in 2015 with the intent of bringing the ocean closer to everyone. The ocean – which covers 71% of the earth’s surface, containing 97% of the earth’s water and 99% of the planet’s living space – is at the heart of everything that we do. Today, Lonely Whale is a nonprofit that develops digital campaigns that reconnect us to each other by encouraging behavior change away from single-use plastic and toward a healthy, thriving ocean.

2. What is the story of “Blue 52”?

In 1992, off the coast of Whidbey Island in Puget Sound, the Navy picked up an unusual sound. It pulsed onto the graph pages at the frequency of 52 hertz. On paper, the vocalizations looked like they belonged to a blue whale. Except a blue whale’s call usually registers between 15 and 20 hertz. At 52 hertz, this call was off the charts! So far off that no other whale was known to communicate at that pitch. Because male whales often sing for companionship and this song was the only of its kind, it was theorized that 52 Blue was the world’s loneliest whale, calling out and never receiving a reply.

​The legend of 52 Blue inspired us to answer that call, to work on behalf of the ocean, and empower others to do the same.

3. Recently Lonely Whale has created their new podcast 52 Hertz: The Lonely Whale Podcast. What’s the goal of this podcast? What typically happens during this podcast? Is there a specific audience you wish to target?

​During a time of social distancing, ​social unrest, and increased eco-anxiety, the need for positive, solution-based stories that represent diverse topics and voices is greater than ever. ​We launched 52 Hertz to create community and connection during ​this time, and to give people an uplifting ​take on environmentalism.

Inspired by our namesake Lonely Whale, the podcast allows us to go back to our roots and listen to what our community has to say. Eco-activist and actor Petrice Jones hosts Season One, titled Against the Current. The 12-episode season focuses on the people, topics, and current events that are challenging the status quo. Against The Current showcases a diverse set of individuals​ from youth activists to industry professionals—all redefining what it means to be an “environmentalist.” 

​Some recent episodes include: 

Wanjiku “Wawa” Gatheru, an environmental justice advocate calling for the movement to center the experience and expertise of frontline people of color

Youth activist Dyson Chee, an 18-year-old youth environmental policy activist from Oahu, Hawaii

Adrian Grenier, Lonely Whale’s co-founder, discussing eco-anxiety, the plastic crisis overwhelming our ocean, and how building community is the first step to healing ourselves and our Earth

4. As Eco-Youth primarily fights climate change, how does Lonely Whale target this topic? In your words, how does cleaning and caring for the ocean contribute to fighting climate change?

Covering about 70% of the Earth’s surface, the ocean has an intricately linked relationship with the climate crisis. 

In addition to generating the majority of the oxygen we breathe, ​the ocean ​also captures ​excess carbon dioxide and help​s​ regulate ​global ​temperature​s​.

Because of the increasing greenhouse gas emissions and resulting carbon dioxide, our ocean is not only becoming warmer and more acidic, but it is also de-oxygenating. Climate change weakens the ocean’s ability to provide food, store carbon, generate oxygen, regulate extreme weather, and serve as a nature-based solution to climate change.

B​y taking care of the ocean we help combat climate change.​

5. With what degree of seriousness should people be approaching topics such as climate change, and how can people start changing their mindset towards this topic?

The issue of climate change is incredibly serious, but that doesn’t mean we have to approach it that way. At Lonely Whale we take information that may be overwhelming and dark, and come up with ways to make it understandable and empowering.

Our goal is to change the narrative and mindset towards the topic of climate change. We want people, especially young people, to understand there are things they can do every day to make a positive change for our planet and their futures.

A tip Steff McDermott, one of our young podcast guests, shares that speaks to changing mindsets is to “connect your passion to the environment.” You don’t have to work for an environmental organization to make a difference. You don’t have to become something you’re not, or go into a field you’re not interested in. Take what you are already good at, what you’re already interested in, and connect that to the environment. There are infinite fun, creative ways to help protect our ocean and our planet.

6. Should schools start instilling classes that cover topics like climate change, so that the youth can get a better grasp as to what is happening out in the world?

Absolutely! The next generation will be most impacted by the plastic pollution crisis. In fact, many young people will graduate or start their first jobs in 2025, the same year the ocean is expected to contain more plastic than fish! Our education system could help equip the next generation with the knowledge and language to craft solutions. ​

That knowledge should be available to everyone ​because climate change affects everyone. And as we champion environmental literacy in general education, it’s important to remember what Wawa Gatheru, talks about on the podcast: Environmental education needs to center BIPOC voices, especially frontline people of color who are impacted first and worst by climate change. 

​I also encourage young people to seek opportunities to learn about environmental issues outside of the classroom, such as the annual Ocean Heroes Bootcamp organized by Captain Planet Foundation, Lonely Whale and Point Break Foundation​. ​The bootcamp​ empower​s​ existing and emerging youth leaders, ages 11 to 18, to create their own campaigns to take action against ocean plastic pollution.

7. Your campaign #Stop[ped]Sucking was a huge success! What great things does Lonely Whale plan to do next?

Thank you so much! Lonely Whale spearheaded the global movement to eliminate the use of plastic straws after “Strawless in Seattle,” which resulted in the permanent removal of more than 2.5 million plastic straws in Seattle in just one month while ushering in policy change in cities across the U.S. “Strawless” is on track to remove an estimated 15 billion single-use straws from circulation.

Right now, we’re focused on our “Question How You Hydrate” campaign which includes the #HydrateLike social challenge and Museum of Plastic. This campaign has served as a catalyst for Facebook, the United Nations Headquarters, 2019 Global Citizen Festival and the San Francisco International Airport to ban single-use plastic water bottles. The campaign caught the attention of Pepsi and Coca-Cola to announce plans to switch from plastic bottles to aluminum cans for leading brands Aquafina and Dasani.

We’re also working with multinational corporations through NextWave Plastics, which brings together companies to develop the first global network of ocean-bound plastics supply chains. These companies, some of which are competitors, work together to turn off the tap on plastic pollution – keeping plastic in the economy and out of the ocean.

As the plastic pollution crisis continues to grow and evolve and the world continues to adapt to COVID-19, we are active participants in conversations and strategies that ensure the plastic industry doesn’t exploit the pandemic to increase plastic production.

8. Do you have any advice to people who want to fight climate change but don’t know where to start? What advice can you give for newer organizations, like Eco-Youth, that will help grow their platform and gain a bigger audience?

Have optimism. Even the smallest gestures can have a big impact, so we’d encourage you to start small and work on changing little things you do every day and make them more sustainable. 

We also encourage youth to get involved in Ocean Heroes Bootcamp by joining the Ocean Heroes Network, a global community of youth working year-round towards clean seas and against plastic pollution. Ocean Heroes Bootcamp has trained more than 1,000 global youth how to develop and execute their campaigns with the ultimate goal of supporting 10,000 campaigns by the end of 2025. The unique campaigns created by Ocean Heroes support the achievement of UN SDG 14.1 by 2025.

We are a very small team at Lonely Whale, so for organizations looking to grow their impact, we really think partnering with creatives, scientists, brands, influencers and other organizations like yours are some the best way to create change around the world. 

9. How can people help and support Lonely Whale from home without monetary donations? Where can people learn more about Lonely Whale?

You can support us by visiting www.lonelywhale.org or following @LonelyWhale.

For more information on Ocean Heroes virtual Bootcamp, visit www.oceanheroeshq.com. You can also connect with Ocean Heroes HQ on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

Listeners interested in tuning out plastic and tuning in to Lonely Whale’s 52 Hertz podcast can check out the trailer, Season One and future episodes here.

The Effect PPE Has On the Environment

** DISCLAIMER: THIS ARTICLE IS NOT ANTI-MASK. IT SUPPORTS MASK WEARING AND OTHER PPE**

Gull stuck in face mask
BBC. (2020). The elastic straps on the face covering had become increasingly tight around the gull’s legs [Photograph]. BBC. https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-essex-53474772

The modern world has turned to PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) as a way to protect from the Coronavirus. PPE is any piece of equipment that helps protect not only the wearer but also any other person around the wearer. Examples of PPE include basic medical equipment such as gloves, masks, and eye protection. Although wearing basic PPE, against deadly diseases, isn’t a novel concept, the sudden increase in demand and removal of PPE may have detrimental effects on the environment around us. 

The PPE that will be mostly studied in this article is  masks. Within the past few months, masks can be sold almost anywhere; however, the mask that is most commonly found within the public is the surgical masks. They are approved by the FDA and the CDC. Surgical masks protect from hazardous fluids and respiratory emissions. They are mainly constructed from non-woven fabric, which according to INDA.org are, “broadly defined as sheet or web structures bonded together by entangling fiber or filaments,” and “flat, porous sheets that are made directly from separate fibers or from molten plastic or plastic film.”  Examples of these materials include polystyrene, polyester, polycarbonate, and polyethylene. These are great materials to use in protective equipment because of the properties it is able to supply the wearers. Some of the properties include, liquid repellency, bacterial barrier, sterility, filtering, and cushioning (INDA, 2019). 

In these situations, it is equally as important to look at both sides of the argument. Mask wearing does stop the spread of the Coronavirus. As an environmental organization, Eco-Youth must raise awareness of  how this simple act could harm the planet. Ever since the start of the pandemic, researchers have been finding masks everywhere, including uninhabited islands of Soko in Hong Kong.  This is not good for the wildlife and the environment as a whole. Since the masks are primarily made of plastic fabrics, animals can end up eating the sing-use mask or other PPE. Even worse, the increasing flow of masks and other single-use PPE, which can have a lifespan up to 450 years, can lead to “impaired mobility, infection, limb amputation, starvation, suffocation, and death,” (Ocean Asia, 2020)  in marine life. This not only happens in countries like China, but the same effect has been studied in France where conservationists from the non-profit Opération Mer Propre have studied the French coastline and found the aftermath of the single-use PPE in the waters of the Mediterranean . Laurent Lombard, one of the people on Opération Mer Propre, warned the public on his Facebook by saying, “there is likely to be more masks than jellyfish in Mediterranean waters…!” 

From floating face masks to recycling cutbacks: how the pandemic has hit  the war on plastic
Laurent Lombard/Operation Mer Propr. (2020). Gloves and protective face masks seen in the Mediterranean in May, held by a volunteer clean-up diver [Photograph]. The Telegraph. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/global-health/climate-and-people/floating-face-masks-recycling-cutbacks-pandemic-has-hit-war/

The world must take environmental precautions to prevent further damage to the environment. Countries like France have taken strides to prevent further contamination because not long after Mr. Lombard posted his concerns, a French politician, Eric Pauget expressed his concerns to the President of France, calling forth an effort to collect, recycle, decontaminate or sort the single-use masks to lessen the “environmental footprint in [French] societies.” (Eric Puaget, 2020). 

As a consumer, there are many options to choose from that can help from stopping the transmission of the Coronavirus and still be eco-friendly. It is important to know that some reusable face masks do not have the same medical-grade standards as some single-use masks. They might fit looser, so might not block all the small particles. Please still wear a mask to minimize contact with contaminated areas. If you are still using the single-use please cut off the straps because they can end up entrapping wildlife and end up posing a threat to their life.  Here are some eco-friendly options to choose from:

Masks from the Old Navy are equipped with three layers of cloth. They are made of 100% cotton, and are machine washed, and tumble dried. The Old Navy offers many patterns; however, most are on backorder. 

O2 Canada is a little more expensive than the rest of the other brands; however, it does have the highest protection. The masks come with filters (which will have to be bought if used up). The company provides different colored shells to customize the mask. Also, the mask is equipped with medical-grade silicone to provide a snug fit. 

Hyper Good upcycles waste to prevent waste coming into landfills. This company uses leftover materials to create their masks. Hyper Goos has a movement called BETTER PPE in which they donate a mask to an essential workers for every mask that is sold. 

Selva Negra is a LA-based company. They used eco-friendly materials such as cotton, silk, and linen. Most of the designs are plaid. They are also machine washable, but must be hung out to dry. 

Made Trade masks offer a two-layer face mask and are made of recycled materials  (hemp and organic cotton). They follow CDC and Kaiser Permanente’s guidelines for cloth face coverings. The masks come in adult and kids sizing, with an option for a filter (not included). Made Trade offers four colors to choose from. 

PLEASE CONTINUE FOLLOWING CDC GUIDELINES TO LIMIT THE SPREAD OF COVID-19!

A Guide to Veganism: How Your Diet is Contributing to the Environment

You may know from previous articles that there are a lot of things that you as an individual can do to help reduce climate change and help the environment as a whole. Going vegan can definitely be added to this list! By reading the rest of this article, you can learn about how eating meat is actually contributing to global warming and negatively impacting the environment, and what you can do to individually change this. This article is not meant to shame anyone for eating meat or make anyone feel bad, it is simply written as a guide to anyone who might want to start going vegan for whatever reason. 

Negative Impacts of Animal Agriculture 

The number and amount of resources that go into meat production and general domestication are enormous. For starters, PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) has stated that nearly half of all the water in America is used in raising animals for food. More specifically, it takes nearly 2,400 gallons of water to produce one pound of meat whereas growing one pound of wheat only takes 25 gallons of water. The list continues: one pound of beef takes about 1,800 gallons whereas corn only needs 108 gallons, etc. Therefore, stopping the consumption of animal products fundamentally reduces your water footprint on the planet and allows you to help save thousands of gallons of freshwater. 

Not only is meat consumption causing an excess of water to be wasted, but it is also one of the leading causes of greenhouse gas emissions as it is responsible for nearly 18% of human-produced greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. Thousands of gallons of water that go towards bulking up the animals to slaughter them and the impact of this is the immeasurable amount of CO2 and methane that is released from the animals and their waste. Researchers calculated that if every single American stopped eating meat, the environmental impact would be the equivalent of removing 60 million cars off the road. This suggests that the emissions of greenhouse gasses due to meat production is much larger than most believe, and by individually choosing to stop eating meat, you could drastically reduce your carbon footprint on the planet. 

While meat production and consumption are the most damaging to the environment, all animal products are harmful and contribute to climate change. The dairy industry, for example, is not only inhumane but also globally emits about 4% of all human-caused emissions alone. Studies have also shown that “in the U.S., every gallon of milk consumed results in greenhouse gases equivalent to 17.6 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions.” Numbers such as this align with all animal products, including fish and eggs. Although they aren’t as significant as the numbers associated with meat production, cutting all these foods out of your diet can cause a significant environmental change in the long run. 

cows, agriculture, rural life, lowland shoe, black and white, heifers, milk,  dairy | Pikist

Why Should I Go Vegan? 

It may seem like one person choosing to go vegan wouldn’t make much of a difference, but this mindset can be dangerous. As previously stated, just a single pound of meat requires about 2,400 gallons of water and can emit nearly 14.8 pounds of CO2 into the atmosphere. By choosing to cut out all animal products, you can contribute to reducing this number and generally reducing your carbon and water footprint. Not only can you help save the environment, but you can also help save the animals. The way that domesticated animals are treated in order to become our food is more horrific than people may think. The dairy industry, for example, causes the cows that end up in this industry to suffer their entire lives. You can learn more about the cruelty and horror within this industry by looking at the list below. 

Tips for Going Vegan

  1. Educate yourself. Watch and read more about the cruelty of animal agriculture, the horrific impacts that it has on our planet, and how a vegan diet can impact your health. We have composed a list to get your research started: 
  • Well-known documentary Forks Over Knives:
https://www.forksoverknives.com/
  • Podcasts:

Main Street Vegan:

Food for Thought: The Joys and Benefits of Living with Compassion and Purpose: 

The Bearded Vegans:

  1. Start slow. Cutting out all animal products from your diet after being so used to eating them will be extremely difficult and might cause you to lose determination and go back to these foods. Starting by cutting out one thing at a time for some time can cause your body to adjust to the changes and will give you a better chance of staying vegan. 
  2. Find someone who inspires you. Finding a vegan blogger or nutritionist who inspires you can help motivate you to get started on your journey. Several bloggers also have vegan guides and recipes to help make your journey even easier. Here are a few vegan vloggers you might be interested in:
    1. Pick Up Limes – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCq2E1mIwUKMWzCA4liA_XGQ
    2. SweetPotatoSoul – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCbmUfoOfNW04K9U7moSDDcw
    3. NikkiVegan – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCXc8sao7QK8pm3g4vJpb5kg
    4. Simnett Nutrition – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCpyhJZhJQWKDdJCR07jPY-Q

If you don’t find someone who inspires you, it might help to know that some of your favorite celebrities are actually vegan! Billie Eilish, Ariana Grande, Lizzo, Miley Cyrus, Beyonce, Kate Mara, Venus Williams, Ellen Pompeo, Benedict Cumberbatch, Zac Efron, Madonna, Ellen Page, Liam Hemsworth, and Joaquin Phoenix are just a few popular celebrities who helping fight climate change by going vegan. Now it’s your turn! 

Works Cited

Finke, Photograph by Brian. “Eating Meat Has ‘Dire’ Consequences for the Planet, Says Report.” National Geographic, 16 Jan. 2019, www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/2019/01/commission-report-great-food-transformation-plant-diet-climate-change/

Gustin, Georgina, et al. “Cows vs. Nuts: Who Gets to Be Called Milk, and Are They Climate Friendly?” InsideClimate News, 8 Nov. 2018, https://insideclimatenews.org/news/24012018/almond-soy-milk-non-dairy-climate-change-impact#:~:text=The%20dairy%20industry%20has%2C%20for,greenhouse%20gases%20equivalent%20to%2017.

“How Much Water Does It Take to Make One Steak?” PETA, 2 Apr. 2015, www.peta.org/videos/meat-wastes-water/

“Meat and the Environment.” PETA, 8 Jan. 2019, www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-food/meat-environment/

National Geographic Freshwater 101: Food, 18 June 2019, www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/freshwater/food/

Nierenberg, Danielle, et al. “Meat’s Large Water Footprint: Why Raising Livestock and Poultry for Meat Is so Resource-Intensive.” Food Tank, 28 Nov. 2016, https://foodtank.com/news/2013/12/why-meat-eats-resources/#:~:text=Shock%20is%20reasonable%20after%20discovering,gallons%3B%20corn%20is%20108%20gallons.

Schiermeier, Quirin. “Eat Less Meat: UN Climate-Change Report Calls for Change to Human Diet.” Nature News, Nature Publishing Group, 8 Aug. 2019, www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-02409-7

Woodward, Aylin. “Researchers Calculated What Would Happen If the Entire US Stopped Eating Meat. It’d Be like Taking 60 Million Cars off the Road.” Business Insider, Business Insider, 11 Aug. 2019, https://www.businessinsider.com/switch-from-meat-to-meatless-diet-environmental-benefits-2019-8#:~:text=The%20researchers%20calculated%20that%20if,of%20carbon%20dioxide%20every%20year. 

What is Eco-Anxiety and How Does One Manage it?

Check out KaurSpace’s article on eco-anxiety

A lot of young people today are affected by eco-anxiety, but don’t know it. Simply put, eco-anxiety is the anxiety to or extreme fear of humans’ relationship with the environment and climate change. While it is not an official mental disorder, it is still very real.

How does Eco-Anxiety manifest?

Constant media coverage of environmental destruction and evidence of just how bad climate change really is can be extremely overwhelming. Even being affected by extreme weather such as hurricanes, flooding, drought, and more can cause eco-anxiety. According to  Medical News Today, “For some people, the increase in environmental crises is not only frustrating, frightening, and shocking, but also a source of constant or debilitating anxiety. People may also feel guilty or anxious about the impact that their or their generation’s behavior may have on the environment and that of future generations.”

Who is affected?

Eco-Anxiety does not affect all people equally. It tends to affect people who are younger (such as Gen Z and Millenials) and will have to deal with the permanent repercussions. It also affects indigenous communities and people who are currently losing resources and having their homes destroyed by natural disasters. 

How to Know if You Have Eco-Anxiety

There is no medical definition of eco-anxiety. But if you feel sad, angry, frustrated, helpless, and overall stressed about climate change you likely have eco-anxiety. 

How Do You Manage Eco-Anxiety?

  1. Take Action: Taking some form of action can reduce feelings of anxiety. An example of taking action could be protesting, signing petitions, and going to clean-ups.
  2. Getting Educated on Climate Change: A lot of news and media will overdramatize headlines to get people to click on their article. Educating yourself beyond the headline can help to reduce eco-anxiety.
  3. Connecting With Nature: If you foster a stronger connection with the environment, you can gain a greater appreciation for how it is now.
  4. Being More Active: Hiking, canoeing, simply going for a walk not only connects you with nature but helps your mental health in general.
  5. Try to Prevent Water/Energy Being Wasted: Simply turning off lights or turning the faucet off while brushing your teeth can have a huge effect on the amount of waste produced from your home.

Climate change is very real and dangerous,but unfortunately, not one person alone can  stop it. Keep that mind when feeling stressed about climate change: that as long as you try your best you are doing amazing! Please do not let eco-anxiety consume life with fear, rather use it as fuel in this ongoing fight against climate change. 

Sources:

Plautz, Jason. “Eco-Anxiety Is Overwhelming Kids. Where’s the Line between Education and Alarmism?” The Washington Post, WP Company, 3 Feb. 2020, www.washingtonpost.com/magazine/2020/02/03/eco-anxiety-is-overwhelming-kids-wheres-line-between-education-alarmism/?arc404=true

“Eco-Anxiety: What It Is and How to Manage It.” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/327354#summary

Watson, Stephanie. “How Eco-Anxiety Works.” HowStuffWorks Science, HowStuffWorks, 22 June 2020, science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/green-science/eco-anxiety.htm.

Easy Ways to Help Fight Climate Change

Climate change is a ginormous issue, so it’s easy to get discouraged when it comes to fighting it. However, there are countless things you can do at home to help. Some of these things not only help fight climate change, but can also save you time and money. 

  1. Turn Off Your Lights

According to NSTAR,”29% of energy use in non-residential buildings is used for lighting. If you turn off the lights whenever you leave a room, you can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 0.15 pounds per hour.” Instead of turning lights on during the day, consider letting natural light in by opening the window. In the long run, you’ll be saving light bulbs, money, and the planet.

  1. Save water

Only 2% of the earth’s water is safe for human consumption, and that same water is being polluted. To prevent people from getting sick, this water is pumped and filtered 24/7 to meet the needs of everyone. On average, 2 gallons of water flow through a faucet each minute. Simply turning off the faucet while you brush your teeth can save up to 4 gallons of water per person a day. This would eventually add up to over 1,000 gallons of water a year. Not wasting water saves you money and helps fight climate change.

  1. Consider Purchasing Solar Panels

Solar power is a 100% clean, renewable energy source. As long as the sun is out, your home will be powered, without releasing any greenhouse gases. The average savings for a New Jersey resident over 20 years is $23,000.

  1. Ride a Bike or Walk More

Walking and/or riding a bike releases no greenhouse gases, reduces noise pollution, and reduces congestion. It provides a great workout for your whole body. Not to mention, it’s fun!

  1. Vote

One of the easiest ways to help the environment is to vote for candidates who will actively help fight climate change. Especially this year with the upcoming presidential election, it has never been more important to get out there and vote!

Sources:

Organizations and Brands that Fight to Help the Environment

Finding trustworthy organizations/brands to support when it comes to the environment can tend to be difficult at times. Knowing which organizations to donate to and whether or not their intentions are pure are important things to factor in. Therefore, this article has composed a list of trustworthy organizations you can support and start using to ensure that your money can go toward helping the environment. 

White Sided Dolphin Beaded and Braided Bracelet 2-Pound Pack on a wrist
  1. 4Ocean

4ocean is a legitimate organization that is dedicated to ocean cleanups. These cleanups are completely funded by the profits made from the products they sell. They give a “One Pound Promise” in which they state that every product being purchased from their site goes into one pound of trash being clean from the oceans. Their products vary from adorable bracelets to environmental-friendly products such as reusable water bottles and straws. You can learn more about them and purchase a few items on their site

Zero Waste Face Masks - 2 Pack

2. Sand Cloud

Sand Cloud is an organization dedicated to turning recycled plastic into great-quality products. They take single-use plastic and are able to make incredible items such as towels, shirts, reusable water bottles, and so much more! Their goal is to reduce plastic pollution and save marine life. Not only are they creating high-quality sustainable items from recycled plastic, but a percentage of their profits also go into Marine Conservation. Learn more about their goal and shop their products on their website!

Picture taken from https://www.bustle.com/p/lushs-shark-fin-soap-is-back-100-of-the-proceeds-go-to-protect-the-species-17994689. Article is about the Lush’s shark campaign and what they have done to help save the sharks.

3. Lush

Lush is one of the more mainstream sustainable brands. However, their environmental involvement is usually overlooked due to their popularity. They focus on being as plastic-free as possible and tend to package most of their products in reusable materials. Not only that, but they often focus on specific issues, such as saving sharks, and have articles educating people about issues happening all around the world. Learn more about their #savethesharks campaign here.

Click the link to learn more about their website and switch to supporting their cruelty-free, vegan, environmentally-friendly products! https://www.lushusa.com/plastic-free-july-2020.html

Photo from the Coral Gardeners Website: https://www.coralgardeners.org/.

4. Coral Gardeners

Although this isn’t necessarily a brand that you can support, this organization’s motive is so important and deserves to be shared. A prominent issue in the environment is the global death of coral reefs, which are extremely important to the environment. This organization is dedicated to educating others about the importance of coral reefs as well as trying to save them. You can get involved by actually adopting one! Click the link to adopt your own coral reef and the organization will be dedicated to taking care and saving it. 

5. The Dolphin Project

The Dolphin Project is an organization dedicated to saving the dolphins. They have articles educating others about what’s happening to dolphins all around the world and are dedicated to saving as many dolphins as they can. They have a shop in which all proceeds go back to the organization and its goals. Click the link to shop their store and contribute to their project, and visit their site to learn more about them!

6. Ecosia

Ecosia is a free, legit, and safe search engine that uses its profits to focus on deforestation. It isn’t necessary somewhere to spend your money to support the environment, but by switching to this search engine rather than using Google, Bing, etc., you could contribute to the important focus on deforestation. Ecosia has already helped plant over 70 million trees since its founding in 2009. Click the link to learn more about Ecosia and switch to using them as your main search engine. 

7. Eco-Youth

Donating is one of the easiest things that some of us can do to make an impact on the environment, and even a small donation can go a long way. While there are endless places to donate to, we are one of the most trustworthy! Click the link to join the fight and donate to our gofundme where the money will directly be located into making our communities more eco-friendly! 

Composting 101

Over 22% of discarded solid waste sent to landfills is food. You may think that it is a good thing because now the food has a chance to decompose into the earth. Unfortunately, this is not the case. When food waste is properly composted, it will produce carbon dioxide, fertilizer for new plants, and a good home for worms. Landfills are extremely toxic places with plastic or clay lining on the bottom. So when food is sent to the landfill it will end up generating tons of methane gas and doesn’t provide any benefits. If everyone in the U.S. alone composted their wasted food, it would have the same environmental impact as removing 7.8 million cars off the road according to the Composting Council. When you compost you not only gain fertilizer for you plants, but you help lower your carbon footprint!

How to Set Up a Garden Compost Bin According to the EPA

  1. Select a dry, shady spot near a water source for your compost pile or bin.
  2. Add brown* and green* materials as they are collected. Make sure larger pieces are chopped or shredded.
  3. Moisten dry materials as they are added.
  4. Once your compost pile is established, mix grass clippings and green waste into the pile and bury fruit and vegetable waste under 10 inches of compost material.
  5. Optional: Cover top of compost with a tarp to keep it moist.

When the material at the bottom is dark and rich in color, your compost is ready to use. This usually takes anywhere between two months to two years.

*Browns (carbon-based materials like dead leaves, branches, twigs, brown paper, newspaper)

*Greens (nitrogen-based materials like grass clippings, vegetable waste, fruit scraps, coffee grounds)

Waste For Composting

  • Fresh grass clippings
  • Flowers – stems should be chopped up; however, don’t use diseased plants.
  • Nettles act as good natural activators.
  • Vegetable and fruit peelings
  • Vegetable crop residue, such as potato and tomato plants.
  • Young weeds, but avoid perennials.
  • Herbivore manure, such as from horses, cows, and rabbits.
  • Tea leaves, but tea bags will take longer to break down.
  • Dead or fallen leaves – use only small amounts
  • Shredded paper
  • Coffee grounds and filter – use only paper filters
  • Cardboard torn into small pieces
  • Woody hedge clippings and twigs ideally put through a shredder
  • Sawdust mixed well with more aerated material
  • Herbivore bedding, such as hay and straw
  • Eggshells washed and crushed up
  • Hair – either human or animal hair since both are high in nitrogen
  • 100 percent wool or cotton cut into small pieces or tumble-dryer lint
  • Vacuum-bag contents, but use common sense as to what has been picked up
  • Wood ash in small quantities

What Not to Compost

  • Meat and fish (cooked and raw) can harbor disease and attract vermin.
  • Dog and cat feces can harbor disease.
  • Cat litter will normally contain feces.
  • Glossy magazines contain too many inorganic chemicals.
  • Barbecue coals and coal ash contain harmful sulfur oxides.

Sources:

“Composting At Home.” EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, 13 Nov. 2019, www.epa.gov/recycle/composting-home.

Lauren. “How to Set Up a Kitchen Compost the Easy Way: Zero Waste Memoirs.” The Zero Waste Memoirs, 27 Apr. 2020, zerowastememoirs.com/baby-step-5-kitchen-compost/ 

Organicsociety. “Composting Tips – How to Setup Your Own Compost.” The Organic Society, 29 Mar. 2018, www.organicsociety.co/composting-tips-how-to-setup-your-own-compost/ 

“Sustainable Management of Food Basics.” EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, 19 June 2020, www.epa.gov/sustainable-management-food/sustainable-management-food-basics. “What Happens To Food Scraps That Are Thrown Away?” Basmati, 24 Dec. 2017, basmati.com/2016/12/01/what-happens-food-scraps-are-thrown-away `

Are Leggings Hurting People and the Planet?

The simplest answer: yes, they are. It’s a hard concept to wrap your head around. How could something so simple and so comfortable be killing the planet and people? Well, it’s not the leggings fault it’s material that they are constructed from. (It’s also important to note that leggings are not to blame for all environmental issues.)

Leggings, and anything that is made from nylon or polyester, are made from synthetic material that shed microscopic plastic fibers – called microfibers. When you wash clothes in the washing machine the microfibers are released into the wastewater system. From there, the water from the wastewater system is flushed into natural waterways which eventually reaches the sea.

At first glance it may seem like these microfibers are harmless. But in reality, these plastics are extremely dangerous for everyone. They can be found in beer, salt, seafood, sugar, alcohol, and honey. We ingest so many things that contain microfibers, that the average eats microfibers every single day. A study at King’s College in London hypothesized that the cumulative effect of ingesting plastic could be toxic. Some plastics are made from chemicals like chlorine, and some others can pick up chemicals like lead. The overall build-up of these toxins over time could affect the immune system. Eating seafood that contains microfibers could damage the stomach’s balance. Scientists still do not completely understand the impact of microfibers on the body, but they do know that these impacts are not good.

Now, you should not go boycotting leggings and every single brand that uses nylon or polyester. Those materials are essentially cheap and effective, so of course, a lot of brands are going to opt to use them. If you would like to avoid releasing microfibers into the waters there are actually a few things you can do. It’s very difficult to find leggings that have that classic stretch but don’t release microfibers. Instead, you can put a microfiber filter on your washing machine, or put a microfiber laundry ball in during every wash to prevent all microfibers from being released from your home’s wastewater system into natural waterways. It is the small actions that can hopefully lead to a better environment and overall planet.

Check out this informational video on micro plastics !: https://youtu.be/BqkekY5t7KY

Sources:

“Dangers of Microfibres and Microplastics.” The Thames Project, http://www.thethamesproject.org/dangers-microfibres-microplastics/.

Gibbens, Sarah. “You Eat Thousands of Bits of Plastic Every Year.” The Average Person Eats Thousands of Plastic Particles Every Year, Study Finds, National Geographic , 5 June 2019, http://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/2019/06/you-eat-thousands-of-bits-of-plastic-every-year/.

Press, Associated. “Yoga Pants Are Destroying the Earth.” New York Post, New York Post, 26 July 2017, nypost.com/2017/03/15/yoga-pants-are-destroying-the-earth/.

The Impact of COVID-19 on the Environment

Coronavirus: What providers, patients should know | Health.mil

After being stuck at home for several months due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus, it’s been hard to focus on the drastic impact that the virus has had on the environment. There have been several social media posts spiraling throughout the internet, but it may be hard to truly grasp what’s happening. From an initial glance, it may seem that the indirect impact of COVID-19 has been nothing but positive; however, the virus has impacted the climate in several different ways. 

Positive Outcome on Environment 

The outbreak of the virus has globally kept people at home since nearly the beginning of March, and in some areas, people have been stuck at home since the start of 2020. As a result, environmental pollution has been reduced to nearly 30%. Reduction in pollution has had many positive effects on air quality, water quality, and several other areas. Images depicting the before and after effects of quarantine on the canals of Italy have virtually gone viral, illustrating just how it only took a few months of minimal human activity to not only increase the quality of the water but also bring back wildlife. The improvement of water quality and cleanliness has been a global trend since the beginning of quarantine, and lakes have particularly been doing well due to the lockdown of businesses and reduced activity. 

Deserted Venetian lagoon | Italy's efforts to limit the spre… | Flickr
Credited to European Space Agency, contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2019-20), processed by ESA.

Not only has the quality of water been improving, but air quality and overall air pollution have also been doing well. The decrease in human activity as a result of quarantine has caused a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Global warming is one of the planet’s greatest threats, with the most prominent cause being the emissions of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. With an increase in the reduction of mobility, transportation through means of fossil fuel burning vehicles, such as cars, have also been reduced. As of 2018, transportation vehicles emit up to about 30% of all greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. Not only transportation but the reduction of human activity, in general, has resulted in the reduction of nearly 6% of global greenhouse gas emissions, as well as a decrease in pollutant gas emissions. 

The reduction of pollution due to quarantine has had several indirect effects of areas outside of the climate. As previously stated, better water quality and cleaner bodies of water are allowing more animals to find shelter and food in areas that were once polluted. Another indirect effect is the impact that clean air and better air quality has had on the planet. A study conducted by researchers at Yale School of Medicine shows that in China, improvement in the quality of air has prevented thousands of pollution-related deaths in premature babies. An estimated 12,125 premature deaths were avoided because of the better air quality, as of May 4. 

Negative Impacts of COVID-19

Levels of environmental pollution have gone down due to quarantine, and areas such as beaches are beginning to clear up due to lack of tourists and visitors. However, there have been increases in inorganic waste. Quarantine has increased the demand for online shopping and at-home delivery, which has in turn increased both organic and inorganic waste generated by households. Medical waste is also slowly becoming a greater issue as used masks and gloves are beginning to pollute the streets and certain hospitals are producing a significantly greater amount of medical waste due to the surge of patients and higher demand. 

The most harmful effect that COVID-19 will have on the environment would likely come afterward. The positive changes that have been seen in the environment are unfortunately temporary, and as more and more people grow restless at home and begin going out again, not only will these positive changes go back to the way they previously were, but they could potentially be worse. With the focus being on the attempt to end the current pandemic, funding and financial support is being transferred from environment-related organizations. The current administration is aggressively pushing to reduce funding in necessary areas, and has successfully “suspended enforcement of air and water pollution regulations, curtailed states’ ability to block energy projects, and suspended a requirement for environmental review and public input on new mines, pipelines, highways, and other projects.” (National Geographic) The effects of this lack of funding and an increase in greater human activity as the pandemic becomes less of a threat could be catastrophic on the climate. We need to use this unfortunate situation as a wakeup call. After years of warnings about the dangers of climate change, it took a global pandemic to see a positive impact on the environment. We need to continue to fight for a better future because the long term impact that the virus could have on the environment could be more disastrous than ever. 

Sources

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0048969720325298

https://medicine.yale.edu/news-article/24721/

https://phys.org/news/2020-05-world-covid-response-impact-environment.html

https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/sources-greenhouse-gas-emissions#:~:text=Transportation%20(28.2%20percent%20of%202018,ships%2C%20trains%2C%20and%20planes.

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0048969720323378

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0048969720323305

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2020/06/why-covid-19-will-end-up-harming-the-environment/#close