Why You Should Cut Plastic Milk-Rings

It’s often easy to overlook small acts as being insignificant in the grand scheme of things. After all, how much damage can one person do with a single piece of trash? Apparently, a lot. These turtles (found on the Creepy Animals blog) found their way into plastic rings as babies and have been deformed ever since. What would have taken just a few seconds to snip into something safe to throw away has affected these animals’ entire lives. They’re living proof that putting forth just a little extra effort is worth the trouble. And with a problem like the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, you can bet there’s a great many more of these little plastic rings out there.

It isn’t always immediate to see how our actions affect the planet. But with patience and an optimistic outlook, we can solve problems like these and others that are detrimental to our planet’s ecosystems.  What other tips for everyday living do you have that can make a difference? Sound off in the comments below!

A shining past and a bright future

Solar cooking is nothing new on planet earth.  Earlier man could have cooked and baked some foods on rich colored rocks given enough time. Today in some places during the summer you can literally fry an egg on the side of a blacktop road, but there are much better (and more sanitary) ways of doing this now. It is said that Archimedes burned incoming invading ships with reflective pans, and with today’s resources we can use it to burn through solid metal and vitrify clay with nothing but a recycled satellite dish that nobody wanted. Though perhaps more practical is cooking with it, causing no waste, drawing no electricity, burning no gas and making no smoke. What better way to do the three R’s (reduce, re-use, recycle) that the Captain taught us AND save money in the process? Many third-world countries are already tapping into the sun, so what is our excuse?

Making a solar cooker can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be.  My first solar cooker was a fiberglass satellite dish pasted with cuttings from a reflective wilderness safety blanket and it heated up to 600 degrees at the focal point on a near setting sun. With a small well designed parabolic dish you could boil water ontop of Mt. Everest. When concentrated light hits a dark colored object it heats up, a dull black surface being the ideal. A black colored pan with a lid is good to start with, and a smaller black pot inside a bigger glass pot is best (a breeze will cool down the pan otherwise). Using black cast iron pots and pans may work exceptionally well, and they naturally leech some iron into the food. The hardest part is mounting the pot in the focal point then learning to track the sun and to adjust it for the right temperature. If you have no black pans you can use a natural resin or glue and mix it with crushed charcoal then smear it on the sides. The resin or glue will burn off leaving the black finish (if you use glue, please use a non-toxic one). My current solar cooker is a dishtv metal parabolic dish which I have sanded the face to a shine. To prevent rust I polished to a high finish and used a coating of linseed oil when storing.

The sun is powerful, and when you use the cooker you need to wear eye protection. Sun glasses are a must, but welding goggles are better. Remember, dark colors get hot quick, so the more tan you have to begin with the hotter it will get on your arm when you mess with the pot or pan. You may want to wear a white sleeve shirt or jacket while operating one. When not in use the cooker should be covered up with a white cover or put face down so it can’t shine.

You might even be able to take the little mirrors off old disco balls and repaste them to make a powerful solar oven (talk about retrofitting!) Use your planet conserving imagination and begin cooking at the speed of light. Ol’ Cap would approve.

Call for Leave No Trace volunteers – FIGMENT – Governor’s Island – June 10, 11, 12

Calling all New York Planeteers! The following is a call for volunteers for Figment, an arts event held on Governor’s Island.

Join the FIGMENT Leave No Trace (LNT) Team!
Figment, a fun, participatory arts event held annually on Governor’s Island since 2007. One of its guiding principles is Leave No Trace (LNT) or leaving every place better than we found it. This year FIGMENT is partnering with Earth Matter to kick LNT up a notch by composting and recycling.

Sign up online: http://newyork.figmentproject.org/get-involved/volunteer/
Be sure to select “Leave No Trace” Specialist, at the most convenient shift/s for you).
For questions contact Carol.Crump@gmail.com.

I’m searching for several LNT team members for a 2nd team lead, full- and half-day shifts, on Governor’s Island, NY June 10, 11 and 12, doing a combination of the following:
* experience the art and interact with artists and visitors while picking up occasional bits of misplaced trash and escorting them to the appropriate container
* learn about Governor’s Island-specific recycling as well as what items can be composted on Governor’s Island
* assist FIGMENT guests with and and educate them on sorting their disposables into the right container: compost, recycle or landfill
* work with Gov’s Island staff to make sure waste receptacles do not overflow
* ride the trike around the island to pick up compost and chauffeur it to the Earth Matter Compost Education Center
* make the Clean Sweep at the end of each day–leaving no trace that people brought anything but the summer-long art to FIGMENT

It can be a bit hot and dirty. Hopefully that’s the way you like it, but we do provide gloves and have safety rules and a brief training.

Leave No Trace, the the 9th principle of Figment, states,”We are committed to leaving no physical trace of our activities wherever we gather. We clean up after ourselves to leave each place in a better state than we found it.”‘

Food contamination and organic farming

With more than a thousand people sick from E Coli on their vegetables (cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce)  in Europe, it may be time to put some scrutiny on our vegetable and fruit sources. First of all we should find out just what exactly is this type of E. coli making them sick,  what it is in general,  how it makes us sick, and how to avoid contaminated foods and beverages containing it.

Escherichia coli (E. coli) are members of a large group of bacterial germs that inhabit the intestinal tract of humans and other warm-blooded animals (mammals, birds) The E. coli serotypes that are responsible for the numerous reports of outbreaks traced to the consumption of contaminated foods and beverages are those that produce Shiga toxin (Stx) It is important to remember that most kinds of E. coli bacteria do not cause disease in humans, indeed, some are beneficial, and some cause infections other than gastrointestinal infections, such as urinary tract infections.   Shiga toxin is one of the most potent toxins known to man, so much so that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists it as a potential bioterrorist agent (CDC, n.d.).  It seems likely that DNA from Shiga toxin-producing Shigella bacteria was transferred by a bacteriophage (a virus that infects bacteria) to otherwise harmless E. coli bacteria, thereby providing them with the genetic material to produce Shiga toxin.

A new, never before seen strain of E. coli reponsible for the current situation in Europe is called E. coli O104 of which complications can result in failure of the kidneys and central nervous system.  This strain is centered out of Germany. For a full list of symptoms of E. coli and how to avoid getting it look at the source below. When massive food contamination happens, it is hard to figure out who is selling the contaminated food and how to track it. It is hard to convict any farm of poor food handling and many can die and be hospitalized without any justice for this indirect form of mass poisoning. It is a sickening reality that much of todays food is dealt out through giant industrialised farms and ranches. The animals are often confined to small spaces and injected with various growth hormones and vaccines that don’t magically disappear when you put your lettuce and tomatoe on it (hopefully properly handled.)

As Planeteers we learned that animal abuse is wrong, and that we are as much a part of nature as any animal and shouldn’t suffer ourselves to eat and drink contaminated food and water. If we are down for the count and severly hospitalized, then who will take care of our earth? So lets promote farming and ranching the right way, and let us not promote want-to-be Dr. Blights in Mad Science of our food cultures. Remember, we are the ones promoting this research and contamination by buying their products. The power to stop food contamination is ours!

Captain Planet LIVE STREAMING Marathon!

Captain Planet and the Planeteers’ UNEP World Environment Day MARATHON
Streaming LIVE June 5, 2011, 12PM-12AM EST @ www.planeteermovement.com/marathon 

Join us for 12 hours of Captain Planet from Noon to Midnight EST as we feature episodes hand-picked by the series’ Executive Producers, archival celebrity interviews and media coverage, and the first public webcast of the Planeteer Movement’s “What’s A Planeteer?” PSA.  You might even get a chance to chat with series Exec. Producer Barbara Pyle!

Tell your friends! This is Captain Planet history in the making! You can spread the word by sharing the following blurb on your Facebook, Twitter, or other social networks:

Captain Planet LIVE 12 Hour Web Marathon for UNEP’s World Environment Day! June 5 @ Noon EST. http://www.planeteermovement.com/marathon #TPIY

The livestream will be broadcast right here at www.CaptainPlanet.me/marathon!

As Captain Planet says, “The Power Is Yours!”

Upcoming iMatter March in Dhaka, Bangladesh!

It is thrilling to see the positive response in regards to the Dhaka iMatter March! What started as a social experiment with Captain Planet’s Facebook Page has turned into an organized campaign for an large-scale event in your city,

Atlanta Planeteers iMatter March
all within two weeks. Dhaka Planeteers, this is truly incredible and it is a sign of great things to come.

Successful campaigns have also been launched in other countries and the members of those groups have become great friends and have continued their work. The Atlanta Planeteers volunteered at Captain Planet’s 20th Birthday Bash (a fundraiser for the Captain Planet Foundation), an iMatter March, and created a video called ‘What’s a Planeteer?’ to encourage fans of Captain Planet around the world to join forces and make a difference.

Ghana Planeteers iMatter March
The Ghana Planeteers joined with a local recycling firm called Zoomlion to discover positive new ways to address waste buildup in Accra. They have held several other events, including their own iMatter March against climate change!

Please use the Dhaka Planeteers Facebook Group as a tool to combine your powers. Be a leader, and be determined to make a difference in your community! And share your efforts on Captain Planet’s Facebook Page. The Dhaka iMatter March is just a first step in moving towards a sustainable community for Dhaka, and as communities worldwide follow suit, together we can all look forward to making a global change.

The Power Is Yours!

Don’t Palm Us Off

Getting into the spirit of what the show embodied I thought I’d contribute with one of the campaigns I’ve been helping teach the kids on the Zoo Adventures holiday program at Melbourne Zoo.

Orangutans and Sumatran tigers are facing extinction and palm oil is the single biggest threat to their survival. Only 300 Sumatran tigers remain in the wild. In SE Asia alone, the equivalent of 300 football fields are deforested every hour for palm oil production.

But there is hope for our endangered friends! You can help by:

  • Purchasing foods with sustainable palm oil when they are appropriately labelled;
  • Writing to food manufacturers asking whether they source sustainable palm oil to include in their products; and
  • By putting the pressure on our local government for mandatory labelling of palm oil.

Our voices have already been heard and as a result companies such as Cadbury, KFC and Nestle have pledged to stop sourcing unsustainable palm oil. The Power is Ours!

I am constantly astounded and encouraged by the knowledge, enthusiasm and proactive attitude of the kids I teach. It is largely through these children’s actions that the aforementioned results were achieved. We can make a difference!

The film Born to be Wild (2011) poignantly highlights the repercussions of unsustainable palm oil plantations. A brilliant film I highly recommend. Read more about the film here. The site also provides some good educational material for classroom discussions and activities, and some very cute downloads.

Read more about the Don’t Palm Us Off campaign here.

For more information on palm oil plantations and its impact on species, you can visit these websites:
WWF – Orangutans and Palm Oil Plantations
Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil

The Power Is Yours!

A Planeteer Message to Australia

20 years have passed since Captain Planet first began raising awareness for our generation about environmental concerns – many of which were once fantastical and have now come to pass. We learned so much from the stories on the show. An entire generation worldwide was educated on our planet’s condition, and what could be done to improve it. As Cap famously said in each episode, “The Power Is Yours.”

Captain Planet and the Planeteers reached over 2 billion people in its original run. There’s evidence of the show’s broad appeal on the Facebook Page, with 430,000 fans! Would you believe that over 200,000 of those fans are from Australia? As part of a new initiative, Planeteer Networks were launched all around the globe to create a forum for fans of the show to connect and share their events, ideas, and resources.

Seven networks are in Australia! You can join through the ‘Networks’ tab above, or by following the links to Adelaide, Brisbane, Chatswood, Melbourne, Perth, Sunbury, and Sydney. Please feel free to say hello, add your friends, and promote your local eco-events! These are all brand new Networks that could use your help! Joining your local Network is a great way to make new friends and face the challenges that lie in our future.

Coming up soon is ‘Say Yes Australia’ week, in which traditional ideas are challenged for the proposed idea of a carbon tax. This could cut down on carbon emissions and create more opportunity for renewable energy. Major cities in Australia are hosting rallies, and you can find the schedule here. A great idea would be to make and wear a Planeteer shirt and meet your fellow Network members at the rally!

We are rapidly approaching our planet’s capacity for resource use, and our generation is the only one with the host of ecological knowledge provided by Captain Planet and the Planeteers. Let’s combine our powers and make a difference in our planet’s future! Join your local Planeteer Network and start planning for your Say Yes Australia Rally today! The Power Is Yours!

A Planeteer Message to Bangladesh

We learned a great deal from Captain Planet and the Planeteers. Being exposed to a wealth of ecological messaging as children has created a more informed generation capable of dealing with today’s problems. Captain Planet potentially reached two billion young people when it aired from 1990-1996. Now our generation has grown up, and we have the decision-making power and responsibilities for the future.

Hundreds of thousands of people have become fans of Captain Planet on Facebook, and over 18,000 of those fans are from Bangladesh. We have more tools for communication now than we have ever had, which gives us the chance to make a difference in our planet’s history.

One such way is through the iMatter March, a global initiative to raise awareness about climate change and tell our legislators that we won’t tolerate mass pollution anymore. You might ask, “What can marching do to save the planet?” One act, and especially an act performed globally, can cause quite a stir in the online community. Politicians and major corporations want (and need) your support to continue business as usual. But if business as usual is jeopardizing our planet’s future, then it is up to us to make the change. By announcing that we will no longer tolerate their practices, we educate others about the cause and spread the message that our planet is more valuable than another’s profit.

An iMatter March is already in place for Dhaka, Bangladesh on June 5th. Please follow this link for more details! We cannot assume that others will handle this responsibility for us. It is up to everyone to show that we matter, that our planet matters, and that we want our future to be inhabitable for our children! A great idea for your march would be to make Planeteer Shirts with your group using the instructions posted here.

For more information on the iMatter March, visit http://www.iMatterMarch.org, and please join the Dhaka Planeteers on Facebook to become more involved in your local community. This is a really cool opportunity and a new phenomena of instant friends that meet each other through the Planeteer Networks – with over 80 Planeteers in Dhaka already! We’ll be posting this blog a few times leading up to the Dhaka March, so please invite your friends and remember, The Power Is Yours!!

Lessons from the Captain

Lesson #Two: Global warming is real.

It is completely irrefutable that global warming is taking place, though the ones causing it are also the ones saying they are preventing it. It was not until any real concern was broadcasted about global warming that the type of climate change we fear started to churn. After finding out just how concious people were becoming to the pollution of the time, the same calibre of eco-villain as made infamous on Captain Planet shows made ways to capitalize on this too. Even worse they found they could promote something as an “eco-friendly” alternative which just changed one concern for a different one. The less informed planeteer could easily be swayed into buying their products thinking they were doing good, being convinced immediatley after reading the “green” slogan on the package without asking too many questions. Though these spiral CFL bulbs are said to last longer and use much less energy, just one contains enough mercury to contaminate an estimated 6,000 gallons of water beyond safe drinking levels*. Karl Hans Welz, inventor of the Chi Generator, likes to call these bulbs “cancer coils” and producers of DOR. Keep in mind some climate change is part of a natural planetary cycle, and some of it is being caused by man-made pollution, though there will never be as much pollution now as will be made as some of the measures proposed to combat global warming**. You see, they took over a theme and movement and warped it into something that would make this statement true, “We MUST change the planet to stop climate change while poisoning the earth.”

What we can do instead is buy LED lightbulbs, which have no mercury and use less energy than incandescent, and do just what the Captain said by the three R’s: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. A perfectly suitable alternative energy system already exists, and more alternatives are already used in developing countries.

Though we may be very well tempted to, we shouldn’t lash out at this misdirection. As said before, it is for the planeteers of our earth to take care of it to the best of their resources and within their legal means. Remember, Captain Planet never physically beat any of the eco-villains, though he easily could have. He instead gave them up to the proper government authorities, even when they resurfaced later on to cause more grief.  When there was an eco-emergency, at that time the planeteers got together to thwart it there and then, and stood on call till the next one appeared. What they did not do is go to Hoggish Greedily’s house and tepee it, nor intimidate the people into sabotaging or demolishing Dr. Blight mechanations on sight.  The Planeteers didn’t fear-monger, they gave the facts and the solutions to stop pollution, and so should you being one of the elite special forces of Mother Earth.  Remember these things the next time you hear “Go GREEN” on anything, because the one that said it might be Mr. Plunder with a mask on.