HALLIE EPHRON: As everyone who follows us knows, I have a thing about the small matter of saving our planet. About conserving, cutting down on waste and recycling, and trying to ensure quality of life for our grands and great grands, along with the flora and fauna with whom they'll share the earth.
Today Im welcoming a kindred spirit who is much more informed and much more emphatic than I. Kyla Bennett is a PhD ecologist and an environmental lawyer working for a Washington DC based environmental whistleblower non-profit organization. A lifelong environmentalist (and vegan), she's trying to save the world.
Im thrilled that shes give me the okay to share her advice. Some of its easy-peasy and you're probably already doing it. Some of its a stretch.
Hang onto your hats because what you're about to read may feel a bit stronger what youre used to finding on Jungle Red. Think of it as bracing. And literally, food for thought.
Kyla has promised to drop by today to field questions and comments, so please add on and share your thoughts!
KYLA BENNETT: It's that time of year where I get on my soapbox and tell you what YOU can do to save the earth.
Guys, it's 2020. We have tipped over the precipice and we may not be able to save ourselves. But we have to try, right? So here are the top 10 things you can do to help. Because if you're not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.
Yes, I KNOW we have to hold fossil fuel and chemical companies and plastics industries and the government accountable, but that doesn't mean we are helpless. EVERYONE HAS TO DO SOMETHING. Don't you have children, grandkids, people you love? Australia is on fire. The earth is literally burning. We are destroying our planet, and we have to stop. Failure is not an option.
Okay, here goes.
1) Go vegan. Seriously. Or at least cut down substantially on meat, fish, poultry and dairy. It's not hard, it's better for your health, the planet, and it's humane. And its too late for snarky comment about how they can't give up their bacon, or how plants have feelings too, or how veganism is harder on the environment than meat. We have to make some concessions here if we want to save the planet. (Plus, have you SEEN any of the footage coming out of some of those slaughter houses??? Have you no compassion???)
I urge you to watch Forks Over Knives, or if you're an athlete, Game Changers. Make it a resolution, and do it soon, because I think Forks Over Knives is getting taken off of Netflix soon. And yes, I know, small family farms are better than the big industrial farms, but seriously....how many people buy from those small family farms?
How about this: if you're going to eat eggs or drink milk or eat meat, buy it from a small family farm. Otherwise, just don't.
2) Stop using pesticides. It's 2020. There is an insect apocalypse, and we NEED insects to survive. I live in Ground Zero for EEE (eastern equine encephalitis) and WNV (West Nile virus), and we don't use pesticides. I use Repel's Lemon Eucalyptus spray on us, and it works, and it's not bad for the environment, and it doesn't have PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) Yes, many pesticides have PFAS. Stop killing the bees. Stop spraying carcinogens that destroys the brains of children.
3) Minimize/eliminate plastic. There is too much plastic. Microplastics are everywhere, in the ocean, in our water, in our food. It's dangerous. It's killing marine mammals and sea turtles and birds and mammals. It's killing us.
Here are some of the things I've done: switched to Little Seed Farm deodorant, which comes in a glass jar. It works. Switched to Viva Doria toothpaste, which comes in a glass jar. I use Etee's concentrated dishwashing liquid, which comes in a biodegradable pod. I bought some glass pump jars, and I reconstitute it in that. I've gone back to bar soap (added bonus: no palm oil, which is killing orangutans). I like Kirk's and Meliora soap. Speaking of Meliora, they have a great laundry powder in a cardboard container - no plastic. And a cleaning scrub. I clean with vinegar and essential oils.
Try to avoid plastic wrapped fruits and veggies. I bring mesh bags to the grocery store for my produce and my bulk foods. I buy bulk organic oats, and put them in glass jars (I like Anchor Hocking from Target, because there is NO plastic!). Buy from your local farm when you can, and bring your own reusable bags.
Bring your own mug to the coffee place (I like Stojo, because it collapses down to nothing). I even make my own granola, because I can't get a straight answer out of the cereal companies as to whether their plastic inserts have PFAS. And as you all know, I have gone down the PFAS rabbit hole. Speaking of which...
4) PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances). Get rid of your Teflon/non-stick pans. No, NONE of the so-called "green" non-stick pans are safe. Get cast iron and season it well. Or get stainless steel if you are okay with using oil. Get rid of your waterproofing crap, check with companies to see if they use ANY PFAS when buying rain gear, shoes, carpets, car seats, makeup, etc. Use a brand of dental floss that doesn't use PFAS, like Desert Essence. Use the PFAS free ski wax, and furniture polish. I use Kenetrek for waterproofing, and all natural furniture polish for my wood furniture.
GET A FILTER. We are all contaminated, and this is all about minimizing risk.
Avoid plastic. A ton of it has PFAS in it. Home Depot and Lowe's have allegedly banned all PFAS from their carpets as of now, but check. Don't buy biosolid fertilizer. Avoid the "flame retardant" clothes and fabrics. It all has PFAS.
Look, this isn't just about YOUR health. Whenever YOU use a Teflon pan, and wash it, that plastic goes down the drain and ends up in MY water. You're contaminating everyone. Just stop.
5) Read labels and buy wisely. Did you ever notice how many things have palm oil? We have to stop. Email companies and tell them to remove it. We are destroying rain forests, which are the lungs of the earth. We are killing orangutans. We just have to stop. Even sustainable palm oil. We don't need it, and it's not healthy. I even gave up my beloved Dr. Bronner's soap because of palm oil.
6) Cut down on flying. Yeah, I know. But really... try.
7) And cut down on driving, if you can.
8) Go solar. Yes it works. We generate 118% of what we need, and sell the rest to the grid. If you live in an apartment or condo or you can't afford to buy solar panels, switch to green energy with your electric company.
Turn off your friggin' lights and stop wasting water. Why do you leave your porch lights on all night? Turn off lights when you leave the room. Make sure you have energy efficient bulbs. Stop watering your lawn. Really? Just stop. Oh, and hang dry your clothes. I got a great drying rack from Lehman's. Dryers use a ton of electricity.
9) Avoid chemicals. Did you know there are 80,000 chemicals on the US market, and EPA has banned only 9? Yeah. Well, that doesn't mean that only 9 are dangerous.
10) Teach children about nature, and wildlife, ecology, and biology. If they don't spend time outside, if they don't understand how we're all connected, and how vulnerable humans are as animals, we are doomed. Teach them to love and appreciate wildness and other species. Teach them empathy and compassion and curiosity.
"In wildness is the preservation of the world." - Henry David Thoreau.
Okay, I'm done. Thanks for reading. Never underestimate our power. We can change things if we all act together. We cannot afford to wait any longer. Do something. And #vote.
HALLIE: What did I tell you? Bracing, right?
Ill be switching to green energy with my electric company. And changing my toothpaste. I stopped buying plastic wrap and tin foil and I try not to use plastic bags or paper towels. I don't water my lawn. I'm switching to Kyla's toothpaste and dental floss. Never owned teflon pans so that's easy. And all our carpets were made before PFAS were invented. And...
Baby steps, I know. But if we all do it, it makes a difference. (Remember when dog poo was everywhere and airplanes had no smoking sections?)
What have you done in 2019 and what will you be trying to do in 2020 save the planet?