Tag Archives: environmentalism

Capping our Future?

The American Farm Bureau Federation has a new campain: “Don’t Cap our Future.”  In opposition to a cap-and-trade system for greenhouse gases, the AFBF is encouraging members to sign a cap across the bill and deliver it to their Congressman

The AFBF is concerned that a cap-and-trade system will lead to higher fuel, energy and fertlizer costs, and also the conversion of farmland to woodland to sequester carbon.  This translates into loss of farms, increase in food costs, and a decrease in the productivity of farms.  According to the AFBF:

Already, the economic situation in some sectors of agriculture is dire… For many, sheer determination is what keeps them in business.  Those who are persevering are doing so with a brighter future in mind.  They are also driven by the goal of being able to pass the farm or ranch on to the next generation when they retire or perhaps farming with their children as they grow into adulthood.

I personally am not a huge fan of cap-and-trade, since I think it’s a system that allows polluters to continue on polluting while paying for credits or often choosing to pay the fines for going over their limit since that’s less expensive than actually reducing their emissions.  One of the amazing concepts that I took away from my environmental law course was that it’s all about the money: businesses will do what’s right for them financially, not what’s right for the environment, and they’re able to continue polluting because a cap-and-trade system allows it, as long as they pay a fine or buy credits. 

However, I think that action is important, and I think cap-and-trade is better than nothing.  The real problem here, from my point of view, is that family farmers are not the big time polluters.  We know that industrial agribusiness is where the majority of the pollution takes place, but they’ve got the money to pay the lobbyists and lawyers, buy credits, and pay fines, while all farmers deal with the increase in fuel, energy and fertilizer prices.  Who will be hit harder by the increase in costs, agribusiness or small, family farmers? And who will lose their farms?

I’m categorically opposed to legislation that puts an unfair burden on family farms.  It’s a deeply emotional issue for me, since I think about MY family and OUR farm, and it breaks my heart to see families lose their farms.  However, I think that the American Farm Bureau Federation needs to take steps to work with legislators to reduce the unfair burden on small family farms, while still taking strides to reduce pollution and carbon emissions. 

For now, I’m taking a wait and see approach.  I won’t be signing and delivering a cap, but I also won’t be asking my legislators to support this bill.  What I will do is continue to support my local family farms.

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Women’s Empowerment for Environmentalists

A horrifying story of a man lighting his wife on fire a few towns over from here got me thinking about all the injustices that women endure throughout the world.  Here in the developed world, women deal with domestic violence, unequal pay in the workplace, and discrimination.  However, we have it pretty good compared to the challenges that women face in the developing world.  Arranged or forced marriages, lacking control over when and how many children she has, lack of education or job skills, bride burning, poor or non-existant health care for treatable medical problems like obstetric fistulas, and being forced into illicit activities like prostitution are just some of the challenges that women in the developing world face.

So, what does this have to do with environmentalism? When we think of women’s empowerment, we should think of the following: the rights to be educated, gain job skills, choose who she marries, and choose when and how many children to have.  When this happens, quality of life for women in the developing world increases.  When a woman’s quality of life increases, so will her children’s lives.  Women and children are most likely to suffer from environmental issues like problems accessing clean water and healthy food.  Women who have an education and job skills have fewer children, which helps to combat problems with overpopulation.  If you are an environmentalist, you should be aware of how much good for the environment can come from women’s empowerment.

There are many organizations that focus on empowering women around the world.  One that I support is Global Girlfriend.  From their website:

Global Girlfriend was created by Stacey Edgar in 2003 to help women worldwide gain economic security while providing you unique products and a simple way to help women in need. Our fair-trade boutique offers a line of trend-setting, women-made, fair-trade products including stylish apparel, accessories and gifts with one purpose — helping women in need help themselves. We believe passionately that economic opportunity for women holds the promise for real change in the world; because when women have an income, they reinvest in themselves and in their children’s health, education and nutrition, building stronger families and communities over time.

I don’t have a lot of money to donate to charitable organizations, but I support women around the world by shopping at Global Girlfriend.  I’ve bought some of their organic clothing and recycled jewelry, and I love that each item comes with a card that explains where it was made and who made it.  For example, I bought an organic cotton skirt that was made by “a non-profit employment program in the Tamil Nadu region of India. Run by an order of Franciscan Nuns, the sisters employ and care for 120 young women who are handicapped and/or economically disadvantaged.”  It’s a skirt that’s good for the environment, good for women, and fashionable.  I’m wearing this skirt and a tunic from Global Girlfriend in the picture below.

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If you support charities or businesses that promote women’s empowerment, please leave a comment!

Please note: Global Girlfriend has not solicited this post, paid me, or provided me with any free or reduced-price items.  It’s a company that I found on my own and have shopped with for a few years now.

Updated!

Wow, that pregnancy brain must really be kicking in.  I forgot that I wanted to add in something I learned in a botany course in college.  My professor, who’s research focus was on ethnobotany and urban botany, explained that in all of his experience in the developing world, he learned that women are the key to tree-planting programs.  He went on to tell us how women’s nurturing instincts were carried over onto the plants, and that it may seem like a stereotype, but that in his programs where they taught women to care for the trees, the trees thrived.  Women were also more likely to bring their children to care for the plants, thus instilling a care for the environment and wonder for nature with them.  In his experience, tree-planting programs directed toward men in the developing world were less successful.  Just another reason why women are important to environmentalism!

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“Women Taking the Lead to Save Our Planet”

Tonight I was so incredibly honored to receive an award from the local League of Women Voters at their Women in History Month Celebration.  The theme of this year’s awards was “Women Taking the Lead to Save Our Planet,” and seven different women were honored.  I got to meet really amazing women who are all working to preserve our environment. 

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Here I am giving a short speech.  I spoke about the importance of being a good role model, told about what I have learned from my students,  thanked my family and my husband.  I even choked up a little at the end when I said “I would especially like to thank my students for truly believing that they can save the planet.  They lack the cynicism that often comes with age, and they give me hope for the future.”  At least that’s what I tried to say, but I’m not sure if everyone could understand.  What can I say? I’m a crier.  I get it from my mom.

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Here are all of the honorees:  a local reporter who has covered environmental issues and her battle with breast cancer, an Inland Wetlands Commission member, a middle school teacher, an Earth Day celebration coordinator, a town recycling coordinator, and me.

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Me and Ed with my certificate.   We were also joined by my mom (who took the pictures), Ed’s mom, my friends and colleagues Sue and Bob, and a couple of former students…

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Me with my former student Kayla.  Last year, Kayla coordinated the Green Awakening Fashion Show and I supervised her project.  She was a special guest because she’s here on spring break from her year abroad in Italy.  I was honored that she’d take time off of her spring break to come see me get an award!  She also brought her boyfriend Aaron, another former student that I was happy to see again.  They gave me those roses, too.  I’ve told Kayla that when she’s a famous eco-designer, she has to give me free clothes.

I had a wonderful night!!!

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A Winning Week

This has been an exciting week for me, and not just because it was my birthday.

On Tuesday, I received a call at school informing me that I’ve been chosen for an award.  The local League of Women Voters honors women each year in March, since it is Women’s History Month.  Their theme for the award in 2009  is “Taking the Lead to Save the Planet,” and someone nominated me.  I’m so honored to have been selected for this award, since I don’t try to push my lifestyle on others and I don’t really see myself as a leader.  When I was speaking to my friend and mentor, Sue, I said “I feel like I don’t even deserve it.  I’m just a teacher.” 

As soon as the words left my mouth, I realized just how wrong I was.  I try hard to be a good role model in many ways for my students, and one of the things I focus on most is being a steward to the Earth.  I could speak on and on about the Pacific garbage patch, animals dying from plastic ingestion, BPA, dioxin, and the costs and benefits of recycling versus reducing, but all of that lecturing would be negated if I took a sip from a plastic water bottle.  I can’t just talk about it, I need to live it.  For example, my mother gave me a new stainless steel water bottle (blue and green) for my birthday.  I gave my dented, orange bottle a rest, and at the beginning of my first class, a student said “Hey! You got a new water bottle! I like it.”  They notice what I do, even if I feel like they don’t listen to what I say all the time.  I guess in that sense, I am a leader.  Still, I feel like I’ve only been at it for a relatively short period of time, and maybe in ten more years I’ll be deserving of an environmental leadership award.  Either way, I’ve taught environmental science to over two hundred students, and I’m sure I’ve passed on my environmental values to at least some of my biology, botany, and forensics students, and even my study hall students, over the past six years. 

I won again yesterday, when my butternut squash pie won the Pi Day baking contest at school.  I was pretty excited about that, too! I won a gift card to a local bookstore and a pi T-shirt made by students.  I was thrilled to hear my pie announced for first place.

This morning, my mother and I attended an organic gardening workshop at a local garden center.  While I felt like I already knew most of what was discussed, since a lot of time was focused on topics I teach in botany or environmental science, I did learn about an organic gardening magazine for New England gardeners and got to stroll through their pansy, viola, and daffodil filled greenhouses for a dose of spring.  Also, everyone who took the class was entered in a raffle for a bag of organic lawn fertilizer, and guess what? I won.  The amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium are small, and it’s also a time-release formula, with water-insoluble nitrogen, which will decrease runoff.  It also contains corn gluten, which will help to prevent the germination of crab grass and other weed seeds.  I’m not opposed to these weeds, but hey, it was free. 

I typically never win anything, so I was excited to win three times this week.  I’m most proud of the “Taking the Lead to Save the Planet” award, but the other two were nice additions.  The League of Women Voters award ceremony is in a couple of weeks, and six different women will be honored there.  I’m going to have to make a speech, and I’m nervous.  But then again, speaking about my environmental ideals to a room full of people is nothing new to me, just ask my students.

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