Loving the Earth - Celebrating Earth Day 2015

Wednesday, April 22, 2015 will mark the 45th anniversary of Earth Day.  Are you ready?

                                                       Dog Tag Necklace by  DesignsbySky  on Etsy

                                                       Dog Tag Necklace by DesignsbySky on Etsy

Earth Day, while just one day, should not be limited to the one day; it should be reflected in our daily actions. 45 years later, Earth Day should really be Earth Awareness 365 days. 

Humans are the only creatures on the planet that do not use their intelligence to halt the proliferation of waste and destruction around us.  Okay, that's a wee bit harsh. There are some humans, many humans in fact, who are doing their best to stop the killing of animals, removing trash off of streets, beaches, water sources and play grounds, composting, dumpster diving and growing gardens, etc. I'm one of those people. And I can't tell you how many times I've had a person say to me, "your recycling makes up for my lack of recycling." I always shake my head at that.  No, unfortunately, it does not. While I may not buy lots of things, and attempt to recycle as much as I can, that doesn't make up for what keeps being generated. I'm making a small dent in a larger problem.

That's where all of you come in! As we prepare for Earth Day, I'd like to make suggestions events and things you can do to brush up on your earth awareness and celebrate Earth Day. Yes, we're talking about recycling and other thought provoking and action inducing activities, but that's part of the fun of getting out and seeing all that you can do to help tackle this important issue. 

To start, here are some movies, documentaries, that you might be interested in; I doubt you'll want to watch more than once, but maybe you can screen it at your apartment with friends and family, or recommend them to friends and family.  Either way,I hope you'll help bring Earth awareness to your life and those you love every day of the year, not just April 22 every year.

Films to Consider:

"Addicted to Plastic", 2008 - Available on Netflix

A really interesting film on plastic and the role it plays in our lives. It's also a great educational film about the history of plastic. I find the guy who created the film fascinating - anyone willing to spend two years learning about anything makes me excited!

"Plastic Paradise: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch", 2013 - Available on Netflix

I recently watched this film and was sickened by the conditions of the animals after ingesting plastic because they confuse it with food. I know this seems like a lot of movies about plastic, but our culture needs to open their eyes about the use of plastic and what the convenience of it is doing to the rest of the organisms that call Earth home.

"Food, Inc", 2008 - Available on Netflix

You may have seen this movie already. It was sort of a big deal when it came out. But this movie is still my trusted go to when discussing the food industry and it's impact on the environment.  Everything we eat is wrapped in packaging that may be just as unhealthy as the products themselves. You can not discuss environmental issues without discussing food and this movie makes the case.

"Trashed", 2012 - Available on Netflix DVD, http://www.trashedfilm.com/

Jeremy Irons narrates this amazing documentary that explores the amount of trash currently circulating the planet. He also gives us a window into the effects our trash has on our bodies. It's a really interesting film.

"Waste Land", 2010 - Available on Netflix

A film about art and changing the lives of trash pickers in one of the largest landfills in Brazil. This is not a story per se about environmentalism, but it shows the lives of people one would not think about when they think of Brazil. It's a beautiful story of hope and eye opening at the same time.

Now, what do you do after you watch these films?

Maybe, you'll decrease your plastic use, or will limit your trash creation? Maybe, you'll consider recycling more, or composting your food scraps? Maybe, you'll look into ways that your City is providing alternative trash collections?

Since we're a NY area focused blog, I'd like to suggest that you check out the Earth Day Union Square event on Sunday, April 19, 2015 from 12-7PM.  Live music and kid activities will be available as well as representatives from environmental organizations and non-profits talking about their work and how you can become involved.

Alternatively, you can use Earth Month (yeah, lets just call April Earth month!), as a time to clean out your apartment/home and recycle as much as you can. Throughout the month, NYC is offering shredding, clothing drops, "Stop N Swaps" and electronics and harmful waste recycling.

NYC SAFE Disposal Events - Safely dispose of electronics and other potentially harmful household products like batteries, paint, pesticides and medicine at the NYC Department of Sanitation's NYC SAFE events this Spring. Only NYC residential waste will be accepted (no business or institutional waste permitted). Learn more and find the full schedule at www.nyc.gov/safedisposal.

Staten Island - Saturday, April 11, 10am-4pm
Midland Beach Parking Lot, Father Capodanno Blvd & Hunter Ave
(cars approach from Midland Ave)


Brooklyn - Sunday, April 19, 10am-4pm
MCU Park, Surf Ave Parking Lot
(cars approach from Surf Ave & W21 St)

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Electronics Recycling with the Lower East Side Ecology Center - Responsibly recycle unwanted or broken electronics (no appliances such as microwaves or refrigerators). Learn more and get the full spring schedule.

Saturday, April 11 - Chelsea
Sunday, April 12 - Upper West Side
Saturday, April 18 - Fort Greene
Sunday, April 19 - Bay Ridge
Sunday, April 19 - Cobble Hill
Saturday, April 25 - Flatbush
Saturday, April 25 - University Heights
Sunday, April 26 - Park Slope
Sunday, April 26 -

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NYPD Document Shredding & E-Waste Collection- College Point - Join the NYPD's Crime Prevention Section to shred your documents containing your personal/sensitive information, free!  Bring old computers, laptops, printers, LED/LCD screens (not tube screen), keyboards, mice, cables, cell phones and tablets to recycle.  All working devices received will include free data destruction services. 

Sunday, April 12, 10am-1pm
College Point Retail Center (main parking lot across from Target)
134-15 20th Ave, Queens (flier)

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April Stop 'N' Swap® Schedule - Bring clean, reusable, portable items such as clothing, housewares, games, books, & toys that you no longer need, and take home something new-to-you, free. You don't have to bring something to take something. No furniture or large items, please.  Learn more.

Saturday, April 18 - Glendale
12pm-3pm, The Shops at Atlas Park, 80-00 Cooper Ave, Queens (map)  

Sunday, April 19 - Chinatown
12pm-3pm, Two Bridges, 82 Rutgers Slip, Manhattan (map)

Thursday, April 23 - Brooklyn Borough Hall
12pm-3pm, 209 Joralemon Street (map)  
*Commuter drop-off available from 8am-12pm at the Greenmarket

Saturday, April 25 - Westchester Square
12pm-3pm, 2551 Westchester Ave, Bronx (map)

Sunday, April 26 - Forest Hills
12pm-3pm, Central Queens Y, 67-09 108th St, Queens (map)  

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Chinatown Earth Day Clothing Collection* - Clothing and textiles represent nearly 6% of NYC's waste. GrowNYC's Office of Recycling Outreach and Education will be partnering up with Chinatown Partnership and the Chinatown Business Improvement District (BID) for a one-day-only pop-up clothing collection at the  2015 Earth Day Chinatown Goes Green!  Bring clean and dry clothing, paired shoes, linens, handbags, belts, and other reusable textiles and we'll keep them out of the landfill. (No scraps, rugs, carpeting, pillows, comforters, or luggage.)

Sunday, April 19, 10am-4pm
Kimlau Square, Park Row, Manhattan (map)

*If you're unable to make this event, the Union Square Farmers Market has a clothing collection tent on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday every week. They usually leave by 4pm and they can provide you a receipt for tax benefits!

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AND there's always composting, but I'll save composting for my next post. This is already long enough! 

If you're not a NY City resident, I highly recommend you go to your City or Town's website (or call your Mayor's office) and see what they offer. If they don't offer anything, maybe you can see about helping start a program that tackles environmental issues? If they do have programming already, maybe you can join and become part of your community?

Watching documentaries, no matter how educational and enlightening, does not do much unless you follow up with action. Hopefully, this helps put you on a path you're comfortable with and will lead you to becoming part of the solution this Earth Day. (Month and Year! (every year!))

Happy celebrating Earth Day fellow earthlings.

Sara of  S2 Stationery & Design
 

 

Hello Etsy Recap: "Good Jobs, Good Business, & Good Markets" - Good Economics According to Stewart Wallis

Stewart Wallis, Executive Director of the New Economics Foundation, and a jovial Brit, was one of three 30-minute presentations in the first opening session on Saturday, March 23rd, titled  "Reimagining Economy."  Mr. Wallis's presentation was the first of the three panelists and was not just a great intro to the day, but a great follow-up to Mr. Rifkin's keynote address the night before. In other words, anyone who may have been lost in Mr. Rifkin's session the previous night, got a lot more clarity the next morning thanks to Mr. Wallis.

Now, he talked more than just economics. He talked about environmental concerns, climate change, and the impact we have on these through the current state of our economics.  So lets get the economics over with. I don't think you really want me to go on and on about economics (I should note, I didn't do too well in my college economics class, but that's because I was tired and had no clue I would be in the business world to the extent that I am now. Age and wisdom is an amazing thing, no?), especially when Hello Etsy covered a great mix of topics and I'm itching to share those with you, too!

Stewart Wallis's main presentation was on what he calls, "the four U's" that are interlinked and causing systemic problems in our economies:

Unsustainable, Unstable, Unfair, and Unhappy.  As any good Economist, he threw out the following data to back up these U's:

  • We've been on the planet for 175,000 years;
  • In 1975 we were using what the planet had to offer. Now, we've exceeded it by 50%;
  • Over the last 23 years, 80% of real new income created in USA went to the top 1%;
  • Top 400 Americans have more wealth than bottom 155 million Americans;

Daunting to think about isn't it to read this?  I mean, how is it possible that 400 Americans have more wealth than 155 million Americans?! (Readers outside of the US, I am sorry to be honing in on America's problems, especially when we can look all over the world and see employment and economic concerns for humanity as a whole.)  Even more so, how is it that we've exceeded the Planet's offerings by 50% in 38 years?

Mr. Wallis went on to say that we've moved beyond "trickle down economics." No longer is it feasible to even consider the idea that tax breaks of other economic benefits provided by the US government to businesses and the wealthy, will improve the economy, or benefit the poorer members of society.  The reason why we've moved beyond this is according to Mr. Wallis because economics doesn't recognize resilience, not to mention the way it is currently being practiced is morally and ethically corrupt. To drive it further, he said, "currently, markets are considered a religion and that's bad!" Amen!

He went on to explain that everyone should have a living wage and that corporations, if you work for one, should be providing that.  Instead, we live in a society where salaries reflect scarcity and scarcity creates over consumption and lack of opportunity in everything (education, medical care, food, and money).  If you've ever watched a show about obsessive couponers or hoarders, you know what I'm talking about. It's why Walmart and Dollar stores do so well.  When people believe that things are scarce, their actions mimic that belief.

These beliefs and actions are what is spinning our commodity driven world to chaos and why we now, have exceeded the limitations of the planet in the last 38 years.  It is why our oceans are with dangerously low levels of fish, polar bears are dying in the Arctic, bee populations are dying, and we, humans, are besieged with medical problems. Our systems are polluted thanks to our actions.

Etsy sellers and buyers are changing this, though. The Internet is helping to change this. Think about the shift we are part of, that is helping give back that sense of value to others.

So how do we change all of this? 

According to Mr. Wallis change comes in three ways. The first being, the critical challenge of -

"how do we provide enough good jobs while remaining within planetary limits?"- the remaining two fold into this challenge. 

The answers to his critical challenge are many, but fairly simple:

  1. Shift in values - we must become stewards not consumers
  2. Shift in goals
  3. Shift in measurement
  4. Strong local economies
  5. Replenishing and enhancing natural capital
  6. Public service reform
  7. Strategic Governance
  8. Banking Reform (Markets as servants, power in markets, and tackling inequality)

All of these can be answered in how we see work. If you work for a company, that becomes how you are treated by that company. If you own your own business, that becomes how you treat yourself, your customers and business partners, and should you have any, employees.  This also means how you see your own relationship with money and the economy.   Mr. Wallis's list of what makes a good company, good includes the following:

  • Maximize returns to scarce ecological resource
  • Good job creation as a goal
  • Employees are seen as an asset and equity holders, not costs
  • Value of company is reflective of value created or destroyed

As for the changes necessary for the long term, to save the Planet, to get us back within planetary limitations, and to save ourselves, our values, and our happiness, we need to demand the following:

  • Countering Short termism
  • Changes to taxes and incentives
  • One bottom line that includes social and environmental as well as economic
  • Structure and diversity changes
  • Banking and finance reform

What is your part in making these changes?  You can begin by paying attention to you:

  • Your work
  • Your lives and communities
  • What you buy
  • What you demand

With those four points, Mr. Wallis ended with saying, CREATE A MOMENT OF CHANGE!

This may seem impossible, but it isn't. He's absolutely right! We can create a moment of change within our own world which will impact all those that we come into contact with, do business with, and share our products with (if you are an Etsy seller, or a buyer of Etsy sellers).  These actions will inspire others and before you know it, we're all humming a similar tune, a tune of change.

While doing research for this post, I came across a recent (today!) TEDxExeter talk that Mr. Wallis did much like his presentation at Hello Etsy.  I highly recommend you watch it, especially if you're interested in hear more than reading bullet points.

Next month, I'll cover another presenter from Hello Etsy. Until then, I hope you'll join me in becoming a steward!

As always, if you have any comments, or suggestions, leave them below.  Lets do this!