Essay About Mother Nature Pest

Day and night, pesticide-free organic gardens are abuzz with activity, much of it a life-and-death struggle between predators and prey. We seldom see much of this natural pest control, in which tiny assassins, soldiers and lions — aka “beneficial insects” (the bugs that eat other bugs) — patrol their surroundings in pursuit of their next meal. Assassin bugs aren’t picky: They will stab, poison and devour a wide range of garden pests, including caterpillars, leafhoppers and bean beetles. Soldier and carabid beetles work the night shift, emerging after dark from beneath rocks, mulch and other daytime hiding places to feast upon soft-bodied insects and the eggs of Colorado potato beetles. Aphid lions (the larvae of the lacewing) have a hooked jaw that helps them dispatch huge numbers of aphids, caterpillars, mites and other pests.

These and many other beneficial insects (find profiles of our Top 10 later in this article and pictures of each in the Image Gallery) are well-equipped to see, smell and/or taste a potential meal. Sometimes they’re alerted by the plants themselves, as some emit a chemical alarm signal when pest insects begin feeding on them, and nearby beneficial insects are quick to respond. If your garden is teeming with beneficials, these bugs may often thwart budding pest infestations before you’ve even noticed the threat. It’s nature’s way of managing pests — no pesticides required.

Judging from reports from MOTHER EARTH NEWS readers across the continent, tapping the support of beneficial garden insects is one of our best tools for natural pest control. By providing a welcoming habitat — shelter, water and alternate food — you’ll encourage these insect helpers to maintain year-round residence in your garden. You can then kick back and enjoy the natural pest control provided by the diverse and amazingly complex balance among what we humans see as the “good bugs” and the “bad bugs.”

Habitats for beneficial bugs go by several names, such as “farmscape,” “eco-scape” and, in Europe, “beetle banks.” The concept of “farmscaping” to promote natural pest control isn’t new, but designing studies to confirm exactly what works best for a given crop in various regions is challenging. An increasing number of researchers has been exploring these complex interactions between insects and plants to find new ways gardeners and farmers can grow food without resorting to toxic pesticides. The information here will equip you to put this growing body of knowledge to work in your garden.

1. Plant a Nectary Smorgasbord of Flowers. When they can’t feed on insect pests in your garden, beneficial insects need other food to survive and reproduce. Having certain flowering plants in or near your garden supplies that food in the form of nectar and pollen. Beneficials use the sugar in nectar as fuel when searching for prey and reproducing, and the protein in pollen helps support the development of their eggs.

Which plants are easiest for them to tap? Researchers have identified the following groups whose flowers provide easily accessible nectar and pollen: 1) plants in the daisy family, such as aster, cosmos and yarrow; 2) plants in the carrot family, such as cilantro, dill, fennel, parsley and wild carrot; 3) alyssum and other members of the mustard family; 4) mints; and 5) buckwheats. 

Plants in these families are especially good because their clusters of very small flowers make accessing their nectar and pollen easier for many insects. For a longer list of flowers that support beneficials, check out Organic Pest Control: The Best Plants to Attract Beneficial Insects and Bees, and if you’ve noticed plants in your garden that are bustling with insects while flowering, tell us about them in the comments section of that page.

Beneficial garden insects can be broadly categorized as generalists — those that eat most anything they can catch — and specialists — those that feed on just one or a small array of prey. The plants mentioned above can be used by both types, says Mary Gardiner, assistant professor of entomology at Ohio State University.

“Also be sure to consider bloom time,” Gardiner says. “You want to provide a diversity of flowers from early to late in the season so that food is always available for the beneficials.”

In addition, be sure to include some plants with extrafloral nectaries, which are nectar-producing glands apart from the plant’s flowers. Such plants are an important supplemental food source for lady beetles and other beneficial insects, especially during periods of drought or other extreme weather. Plants with extrafloral nectaries include sunflower, morning glory, peony, elderberry, vetch, willow, plum and peach.

Until your season-long flower supplies become well-established, you can supplement beneficials’ diets with a simple solution of sugar water. Several studies conducted by Utah State University found a sugar solution effective for attracting parasitic wasps. The researchers used a mix of about three-quarters of a cup of sugar per 1 quart of water, and they applied it in a fine mist with a handheld sprayer onto the crop’s foliage. (The researchers used the solution on alfalfa.) Be sure to use fresh solution, Gardiner advises.

For more information about plants that attract beneficials, see our 19 Plants Beneficial Insects Love chart.

2. A Home of Their Own. Rather than just interplanting a few of these flowering plants within your vegetable garden, try to give them a wider berth: their own permanent space near your garden crops. Doing so will help create an undisturbed habitat where insect predators and parasites can feed, reproduce and overwinter. Many beneficials, including ground beetles and soldier beetles, spend at least part of their life cycle underground, so having patches of soil that won’t be churned up by digging or tilling is helpful.

“By taking an annual cropping system and adding borders or strips of diverse perennial vegetation, we mimic natural systems,” says Don Weber, a research entomologist with the Agricultural Research Service who is based in Beltsville, Md. “From there, predators can move quickly into nearby annual crops to help suppress pests.”

3. Go Native. Beneficial and pest species vary regionally, so be sure to incorporate some native plants into your beneficial habitat. Native plants provide not only nectar and pollen but also alternate insect prey. “Take milkweed, for instance,” Gardiner says. “It hosts aphids, which draw in lady beetles. The native aphids only feed on the milkweed, but the lady beetles can go on to feed on garden pests.” Native plants have other benefits, too: They increase biodiversity and provide food for birds and native bees.

In 2004 and 2005, researchers at Michigan State University tested 46 native plants and identified a group that provided flowers throughout the growing season and attracted a diversity of beneficial insects (you can see the results at Michigan State University Native Plants and Ecosystem Services). What set the winners apart? All had very showy floral displays.

“That could be due to either having large individual blooms, like the cup plant, or a large number of smaller blooms that together appear large, like the milkweeds,” says Doug Landis, the Michigan State University entomologist who led the study. Landis advises gardeners in other regions to select natives that are known to be insect-pollinated, that grow vigorously in the specific conditions and that have large floral displays.

4. Hedge Your Bets. Include shrubs and perennial grasses in or near your garden, too, if possible. California researchers have taken a long, hard look at hedgerows to find out how they may be able to increase beneficial insect activity on farms. Hedgerows — diverse plantings of native flowering perennials, grasses, shrubs and trees — were previously used as windbreaks, boundary markers and sources of wood, but have become less common in recent decades.

The studies have shown that a hedgerow can provide an ideal habitat for many beneficial bugs, such as predatory bugs (assassin bugs and minute pirate bugs), syrphid flies, lady beetles, and parasitic wasps and flies. From the shelter of a hedgerow, these “good bugs” can quickly move to nearby garden crops to feed on aphids, caterpillars, leafhoppers and squash bugs.

“Once these hedgerow plants are established, they can bloom for a long period and produce a large quantity of flowers with high-quality nectar,” says Rachael Long, farm adviser with the University of California Cooperative Extension Service. “Hedgerows provide shelter from wind and cold, too, as well as alternate prey species, which is especially important at the end of the growing season when beneficials need a place to overwinter. It encourages them to stay in the area.”

In a home garden setting, even a small mixed border of shrubs, grasses and perennial flowers should achieve similar results. Select plants with different bloom times, advises Long. The closer the planting is to garden crops, the better, although beneficials will travel as far as several thousand feet if necessary.

One note of caution: Letting the margins of your property go “wild” with weeds is not necessarily the kind of diversity you want to encourage. “We found that weedy, semi-managed areas actually were a resource for insect pests, while managed hedgerows with native plants had fewer pests and more beneficials that moved to nearby crops,” Long says. (For more information on the findings, see Establishing Hedgerows on Farms in California.)

5. Cover More Ground. Cover your soil with an organic mulch or cover crop. Bare ground exposes beetles, spiders and other beneficial garden insects to climate extremes (temperature, wind, humidity) that can threaten their survival. “Use any locally available organic mulch,” Gardiner says. “As long as it helps retain moisture, is well-aerated, and is not infected with fungal pathogens, it will protect the beneficials from the sun and also provide food for some predators as it decays.”

Cover crops such as buckwheat, cowpea, sweet clover, fava bean, vetch, red clover, white clover and mustards can also provide food and shelter for beneficials. “The key is to make sure that both the cover crop and food crops overlap for at least some of the time, so beneficials can move directly from the cover crop to the crop pests,” says Robert Bugg, a University of California, Davis entomologist who has been studying the relationship between plants and beneficials for several decades. (A comprehensive cover crop database is available on the UC Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program website. Entries include information about a crop’s attractiveness to beneficial insects and other selection criteria.) At the end of the season, ignore the conventional advice to remove all spent vegetation. If you know you have a pest that will overwinter in the debris, go ahead and remove it or till it under. But if not, leaving the debris is better because beneficials will seek shelter in it. Bunch grasses and clumping perennials such as comfrey provide especially good winter shelter for a number of beneficial insects.

6. Water Works. Provide shallow, gravel-filled dishes of water in your garden if you don’t have other water sources such as ponds or wetlands nearby to support beneficial insects (including native bees). Be careful to change the water frequently to avoid creating a habitat for mosquitoes. Better yet, try growing the cup plant (Silphium perfoliatum), which holds water in its leaves.

7. Use Organic Insecticides Selectively. Insecticides are designed to kill insects, and even natural, plant-based pesticides such as pyrethrum can kill beneficials. Use only pesticides approved for use by organic growers, use them as a last resort, and use them selectively. Besides, experts say having a few insect pests in your garden isn’t so bad anyway — they help keep the good guys hangin’ around, hungry for more.


Top 10 Beneficial Insects

1. Braconid Wasps (Hymenoptera): North America is home to nearly 2,000 species of these non-stinging wasps. Adults are less than half an inch long, with narrow abdomens and long antennae. Adults lay eggs inside or on host insects; the maggot-like larvae that emerge consume the prey. Diet: Caterpillars (including tomato hornworms), flies, beetle larvae, leaf miners, true bugs and aphids. Adults consume nectar and pollen.

2. Ground Beetles (Coleoptera): Most of the 2,500 species are one-eighth to 1 1/2 inches long, dark, shiny and hard-shelled. Diet: Asparagus beetles, caterpillars, Colorado potato beetles, corn earworms, cutworms, slugs, squash vine borers and tobacco budworms. Some are also important consumers of weed seeds.

3. Hover or Syrphid Flies (Diptera): Larvae are small, tapered maggots that crawl over foliage. Black-and-yellow-striped adults resemble yellow jackets but are harmless to humans. The adults hover like hummingbirds as they feed from flowers. Diet: Larvae eat mealybugs, small caterpillars, and are especially helpful in controlling early season aphids. The adults feed on nectar and pollen.

4. Lacewings (Neuroptera): Larvae, sometimes called “aphid lions,” measure to half an inch long and are light brown with hooked jaws. Adults are light green or brown and one-half to 1 inch long with transparent wings. Diet: Larvae prey upon aphids, small caterpillars and caterpillar eggs, other larvae, mealybugs, whiteflies and more. Adults eat honeydew, nectar and pollen, and some eat other insects.

5. Lady Beetles (Coleoptera): All of the nearly 200 beneficial North American species are one-quarter-inch long. Larvae, which can resemble tiny alligators, are usually dark and flecked with red or yellow. Adults are rounded and often have orange or red bodies with black spots. Diet: Larvae and adults both dine on aphids, small caterpillars, small beetles and insect eggs. Specialist species feed on scale insects, mealybugs, mites and even powdery mildew. Adults also eat honeydew, nectar and pollen.

6. Predatory Bugs (Hemiptera): This group includes big-eyed (see Image Gallery), minute pirate, assassin, damsel and even certain predatory stink bugs. All use their mouth, or “beak,” to pierce and consume prey. Adults range in size from the minute pirate bug (one-sixteenth-inch long) to the wheel bug (an assassin bug that’s 1 1/2 inches long). Diet: Nymphs or larvae and adults feed on aphids, caterpillars, scale insects, spider mites and insect eggs. Many also prey upon beetles.

7. Soldier Beetles (Coleoptera): These elongated, half-inch-long beetles have soft wing covers. Larvae are brownish and hairy. Adults usually have yellow or red and black markings and resemble fireflies. Diet: Larvae feed on the eggs and larvae of beetles, grasshoppers, moths and other insects. Adults feed on aphids and other soft-bodied insects, as well as on nectar and pollen. 

8. Spiders (Araneae): All of the more than 3,000 North American species — including the crab spider, jumping spider, wolf spider and orb-web spider — are predatory. Diet: Depends on species, but can include aphids, beetles, cutworms, fire ants, lacebugs, spider mites, squash bugs and tobacco budworms.

9. Tachinid Flies (Diptera): There are more than 1,300 North American species of parasitic flies. Most resemble houseflies but with short, bristly hairs on the abdomen. All develop as internal parasites of other insects, including many garden pests. Usually, the adult female attaches its egg to the host insect, which is then consumed by the larva, but there are several other patterns: eggs laid on host, eggs laid into host, eggs laid on foliage to be eaten by host, live larvae laid on or near host, and live larvae laid into host. Diet: Larvae feed internally on caterpillars, beetles, bugs, earwigs and grasshoppers. Adults feed on nectar, pollen and honeydew. 

10. Trichogramma Mini-Wasps (Hymenoptera): These extremely small wasps lay their eggs inside the host’s eggs, where the young trichogramma develop as internal parasites. Parasitized eggs turn black. Because the trichogramma’s life cycle is very short — just seven to 10 days from egg to adult — their populations can grow rapidly. Diet: Pest eggs, especially those of cabbageworms, codling moths, corn earworms, diamondback moths, and other moths and butterflies. 

Keep these and other beneficials coming back by planting our 19 recommended plants for attracting beneficial insects in and around your garden.


Put a HIPPO in Your Garden!

When pest insects attack crops, many plants release chemicals that signal to beneficial insects that lunch is nearby. One of the more common HIPPOs — Herbivore-Induced Plant Protection Odors — is methyl salicylate, aka oil of wintergreen. Numerous studies have confirmed that oil of wintergreen attracts a variety of beneficial insects, including ladybugs, lacewings, minute pirate bugs and aphid-eating hover flies. Controlled-release dispensers of this fragrant oil are marketed as PredaLures and cost about $5 each at Grow Organic. Or, take a DIY approach by soaking cotton balls in the oil, then placing them in the garden inside empty cottage cheese containers with perforated lids. — Cheryl Long


Resources

Garden Insects of North America by Whitney Cranshaw 

Natural Enemies Handbook: The Illustrated Guide to Biological Pest Control by Mary Louise Flint and Steve H. Dreistadt 

Managing Cover Crops Profitably from Sustainable Agriculture Research & Development


Veteran garden writer Vicki Mattern is one of America’s leading experts in organic gardening. She currently homesteads on 3 acres in northwestern Montana.

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Love Your Mother Earth

The Earth provides us with all we need to exist and asks for nothing in return. We have taken advantage of this and exploited her for profit. The abuse and destruction of the earth has increased to the point where we have not only poisoned the earth and it’s creatures, but also ourselves. We are all part of the environment and what we do to the environment, we also do to ourselves, as well as to our future generations. You can take steps in your everyday life to ensure the survival of our living planet.

Date: 05/03/05
Source: www.greenpeace.org - www.worldwildlife.org 

The United States, as one of the world’s largest consumers and waste producers, plays a major role in the degradation of the earth. We must ALL be part of the solution. Air pollution In 1990, American industry emitted more than 2.4 billion pounds of toxic pollutants into the atmosphere.

In 1991, 98 areas exceeded the Environmental Protection Agency's recommended levels for ozone, and an estimated 140 million Americans lived in those areas. Also in 1991, 76 areas exceeded recommended levels for carbon monoxide, 70 did so for particulate matter, and 50 did so for sulfur dioxide. Such air pollution levels have been associated with increased respiratory health problems among people living in the affected areas. According to the Healthy People 2000 report, each year in the United States --

• The health costs of human exposure to outdoor air pollutants range from $40 to $50 billion.

• An estimated 50,000 to 120,000 premature deaths are associated with exposure to air pollutants.

• People with asthma experience more than 100 million days of restricted activity, costs for asthma exceed $4 billion, and about 4,000 people die of asthma.

The detrimental effects of air pollution on health have been recognized for most of the last century. Effective legislation has led to a change in the nature of the air pollutants in outdoor air in developed countries, while combustion of raw fuels in the indoor environment remains a major health hazard in developing countries. The mechanisms of how these pollutants exert their effects are likely to be different, but there is emerging evidence that the toxic effects of new photochemical pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide are likely to be related to infection.

You can take steps in your everyday life to ensure the survival of our living planet.

Stopping Global Warming As pollution increases, so does the world's average temperature. Global warming forces rapid changes in human and animal habitats. Life becomes more difficult, many species will not survive. Human industries and activities produce the world's air pollution, most of it carbon dioxide and other "greenhouse" gases that result in global warming. The U.S. releases approximately 40,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per person each year. What You Can Do You can help stop global warming by taking these 10 steps to cut your yearly emissions of carbon dioxide by thousands of pounds.

1. Next time, buy a car that gets at least 30 miles per gallon (reduces carbon dioxide 2,500 pounds a year over a car that gets 10 mpg less.).

2. Where you can, choose an electric utility company that does not produce power from polluting sources such as fossil fuels and nuclear fission. (Enormous potential reductions in carbon dioxide emissions.)

3. Replace standard light bulbs with energy-efficient fluorescents. (Reduces emissions by 500 pounds per year light bulb.)

4. Replace worn-out home appliances with energy efficient models. (Reduces emissions by up to 3,000 pounds per year.)

5. Choose the best energy-saving models when you replace windows. (Reduces emissions up to 10,000 pounds per year.)

6. Wrap your water heater in an insulating jacket. (Reduces emissions up to 1,000 pounds per year.)

7. Install low-flow showerheads that use less water. (Reduces emissions up to 300 pounds per year.)

8. Ask your utility company for a home energy audit to pinpoint the biggest energy-wasters. (Potential reduction of thousands of pounds per year.)

9. Whenever possible, walk, bike, carpool or use mass transit. (Reduces emissions by 20 pounds for every gallon of gasoline used.)

10. Insulate walls and ceilings and save about 25% of home heating bills. (And reduce emissions by up to 2,000 pounds per year.)

Additional Resources
Energy Star Website: http://www.energystar.gov  - Energy Star products use less energy than other products, save you money on utility bills, and help protect the environment.

www.worldwildlife.org  Climate Change site provides more information, breaking news, and online actions.

Deforestation
Forests are essential to the web of life: they are home to millions of species, protect soil from erosion, produce oxygen, store carbon dioxide, and help regulate climate. Forests are also essential to human beings: they provide us with food, fuel, shelter, medicines, and a variety of wood products. They also purify our air and water and provide us with places of recreation and renewal. With irresponsible forest practices, many of these functions are severely debilitated.

Almost half of the planet's original forests have disappeared. Of what remains, only about 10 percent are protected. In the minute it has taken you to read this page, some 64 acres (that's roughly the size of 60 football fields) of forest have been lost. Threats such as illegal or irresponsible logging, land clearance for agriculture and development, and fires destroy these ecosystems at astounding rates.

While WWF employs a multi-faceted approach to protect, manage, and restore the world's forests, certification is one process that may help mitigate these affects. However, for this system to be effective, forest managers, logging companies, manufacturers, retailers, and builders must adopt practices that maintain or restore the health and integrity of forest ecosystems. About 2.3 million square miles of forest are harvested annually to supply global consumption. And this is where you come in. As a consumer of forest products - things like paper, furniture, and cosmetics - your purchasing decisions have an important impact on forests.

The companies that produce and sell forest products depend on your dollars, so they will listen to your opinions and react to your behavior. What You Can Do

• Purchase conscientiously. Look for wood and paper products displaying the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) label. The FSC label guarantees that your chair, plywood, snowboard, guitar, or hairbrush is made from wood harvested to rigorous environmental standards, and your purchase supports responsible forest management. You can find these products on the Web at www.certifiedwood.org. Ask for FSC certified products at The Home Depot, The Body Shop, and from your housing contractor or architect.

• Encourage suppliers. If you cannot find the FSC logo on the products, ask the shop to stock them. The more customers request for products from well-managed forests, the greater the incentive for forest owners and retailers to provide them.

• Specify FSC. If you work in a company, organization or statutory body encourage them to request FSC-endorsed sources every time they make a purchase.

• Provide information. If there are no suppliers near you, provide local stores with information about FSC, and send them the list of certified forests, or other certified suppliers. More details can also be obtained from FSC accredited certification bodies.

• Get involved. If you would like to get involved with a local group, get in touch with a national FSC contact person. If there is no local group and you are interested in setting one up, read the FSC Guidelines for developing Regional Certification Standards and the FSC Protocol for Endorsing National Initiatives.

• Join World Wildlife Fund’s Conservation Action Network and help us reach out to lawmakers, corporations, and other institutions that influence forest management.

• Learn more by visiting WWF's Forest Conseration Web site. www.worldwildlife.org Overfishing The world's fish are the victims of their own popularity. As more people make nutritious and delicious seafood an integral part of their diets, much of the world's stocks are being depleted at alarming rates due to overfishing and harvesting practices that damage the environment.

The United Nations estimates that at least 60 percent of the world's most valuable marine life is either overfished or fished to the limit. Worldwide demand for fish is projected to rise 40 percent in the next few years, making action to reverse the current crisis even more urgent. So, it is the challenge for all of us -- conservation organizations and consumers, chefs and supermarkets - to help keep America's favorite seafood plentiful for future generations and to preserve our oceans. Facing the challenge are organizations like Whole Foods, Inc. and the Chefs Collaborative, who are working with WWF to form coalitions and launch educational campaigns to protect oceans from unnecessary destruction. In the past, groups have pushed for boycotts of certain fish. Now many are supporting fisheries where threatened fish are allowed to reach healthy levels and seafood is caught in eco-friendly ways. An independent label, the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) stamp-of-approval, helps Americans make environmentally responsible seafood choices. Using purchasing power to encourage improved management of our ocean resources, consumers can now look for the MSC label on seafood products like wild Alaska salmon and Western Australia rock lobster.

"I don't think very many chefs at all are aware of how dangerous a situation this is," says Rick Bayliss, chef at Chicago's Frontera Grill. "So they call up their local fish distributor and order whatever sells, not even giving a thought to the environment." What You Can Do Purchase conscientiously. Look for products displaying the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and make smart decisions when ordering seafood. The Right Fish to Eat

• Halibut - Alaska/Canada

• Striped Bass - Atlantic

• Squid - Pacific "market"

• Albacore - Pacific

• Mahi-mahi

• Lobster - Australian rock lobster

• Shellfish; mussels, clams, oysters - farmed (various sources), cockles (Burry Inlet, U.K.)

• Dungeness crab

• Caviar - farmed U.S.

• Salmon - wild Alaskan Keeping toxic chemicals away from wildlife and your family

You do a lot to keep you family healthy, but you may not have considered all the potential dangers of toxic chemicals in your surroundings. Toxic chemicals can be found in virtually all creatures and in all environments. Enormous quantities are released every day and once in the environment, many toxic chemicals can travel great distances, persist for years, and grow more concentrated in living things as they move through the food web.

An estimated 1,000 new chemicals enter the market every year, in addition to the tens of thousands of chemicals already in commercial use. Very few of these have been tested adequately for the threats they may pose to wildlife and humans. There is growing evidence that many of these chemicals can alter sexual and neurological development, impair reproduction, cause cancers, and undermine immune systems.

WWF has created a list of actions you and your family can take to reduce your consumption and use of toxic chemicals at home and in your community:

1. Buy organic cotton clothing, fruits and vegetables, and other goods.

2. Wash and peel fruits and vegetables whenever possible.

3. Stop using pesticides. Green up your yard using natural methods:

- Use traps and biological controls such as parasites and natural predators.

- Use disease and pest-resistant plants. Include in your garden plants that repel insects such as basil, chives, mint, marigolds, and chrysanthemums.

- Use compost and mulch to improve soil health and reduce the need for pesticides and fertilizers.

4. Use environmentally friendly cleaning products in your home:

- Don't buy or use chlorine bleach.

- Use simple and inexpensive cleansers such as soap, vinegar, lemon juice, and borax (see World Wildlife Fund's Household Recipes below).

- Avoid air fresheners and other perfumed products: Freshen your air by opening windows or using baking soda, cedar blocks, or dried flowers.

5. Urge your schools and communities to use non-toxic cleaning products and to stop using pesticides.

Join with World Wildlife Fund to ensure that our children will know animals like rhinos and tigers as more than zoo attractions. Below are ways that you can use your power as a consumer to protect endangered species around the world. What You Can Do Say "No" to Bad Souvenirs Some souvenirs could end up costing a lot more than you paid for them. Think twice before you buy any products made from any endangered species, including animal hides and body parts, tortoise-shell, ivory, or coral - they could be illegal. Supporting this damaging trade doesn't just add to the pressure on endangered species, you could also risk having your goods seized when you get home.

Use the following web resources for information that can help you say "no" to illegal wildlife products: World Wildlife Fund’s Buyer Beware Section (www.worldwildlife.org) provides you with more information on some of the products you purchase which may support illegal wildlife trade. Information from World Wildlife Fund’s section on Wildlife Trade (www.worldwildlife.org) details the effects of the illegal wildlife trade, and includes a listing of products that are banned for international trade.

Reduce
Really, the best thing that we can do for the planet is to use less of it. At the heart of the environmental crisis is our consumer society.

Here are a few questions you can ask yourself before you buy:

Do I, or the other person I am buying this for, really need this?

Is there another product which would do the same thing but more sustainably?

Will this last a long time?

Do I know how this item was made, how it will be used and how it will be disposed of? Where was this made and under what circumstances?

Are the materials used to make this renewable and have they been harvested in a sustainable manner?

Reuse
Regrettably, because we live in a “disposable society,” we are encouraged to buy a new and “improved” item even if the one we have can be repaired. When we buy, we should buy items which are durable, we should maintain them, and have them repaired when necessary. If we practice this, many things cannot only last a lifetime, but can be passed along from generation to generation. If something is truly unusable for its original purpose, try to be creative and think of how else it might be used. When you are done with it, think of whether someone else might be able to use it as well.

Recycle
Rather than throwing an item out when neither you nor anyone else can make use of it, have it recycled. And while recycling is not perfect — it requires energy and the process of changing something into something else often produces by-products — it is better than sending goods to the landfill or having them incinerated. Find out what types of materials can be recycled in your area. Clean and sort the materials before putting them out on the curb — often collectors will not pick up recycling that is mixed or contains non-recyclables. For more information on recycling, visit the National Recycling Coalition website.(www.nrc-recycle.org).

Food

• Eat lower on the food chain — fruit and vegetable production requires far less energy than meat production.

• If you do eat meat, buy free-range, organically raised meat and poultry products. These have been raised humanely and on untreated feeds.

• Grow your own vegetables, fruits and herbs without using pesticides.

• Eating organically grown fruits and vegetables doesn’t just reduce the amount of pesticides getting released into the environment, it’s also more healthy for you, the farmers and food handlers. Just look for the "certified organic" label.

• Eat local fruits and vegetables which are fresher and less likely to be waxed. Also, some imported produce may have been treated with pesticides and chemicals that have been banned in the United States and Canada.

• Cut excess fat off of meat and poultry and avoid high fat dairy products. Many chemicals released into the environment are stored in fat tissue and are cumulative.

• Avoid storing food in plastic. Use reusable glass containers for storing food in the refrigerator, but be careful, not all glass containers can be frozen.

• If you use plastic for storage, use containers specifically designed for this.

• Never microwave food in a plastic container. Even plastics that are approved for food storage and are "microwavable" may leech chemicals into your food when heated.

• If you must use plastic wrap, do not let it come in direct contact with your food and make sure that it is not made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC or vinyl). Waste

• Buy in bulk. It’s cheaper and it uses less packaging.

• Buy vegetables loose, not in plastic bags.

• Avoid plastic containers, they are made of different types of plastic which are costly and difficult to separate and recycle.

• Choose products in refillable or reusable containers.

• Compost your food scraps.

• Look for products made from recycled materials.

• Use cloth instead of paper napkins and towels. Water

• Keep a covered container of water in the fridge for drinking - you won’t have to run the tap until the water is cold every time you want a drink.

• Keep a bowl of water in the sink while preparing food for quickly rinsing your hands.

• If you must use a dishwasher, only do full loads and use the econo setting. To save energy, stop the machine after the rinse and open the door to let the dishes air dry.

• Don’t let the water run while doing dishes.

Sources: www.greenpeace.org - www.worldwildlife.org -  Sofia M. Pico, LMT

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