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One more way the world wasn’t prepared for coronavirus: Air pollution

The coronavirus pandemic is changing everything — including the quality of the air we breathe.

In three coronavirus hotspots, satellite imagery revealed a dramatic decline in air pollution in recent weeks as China, Italy, and Iran were brought to a standstill. One Stanford scientist estimated that China’s coronavirus lockdown could have saved 77,000 lives by curbing emissions from factories and vehicles — nearly 10 times the number of deaths worldwide from the virus so far.

But the blue skies are unlikely to last. Just as the temporary dip in global carbon dioxide emissions could be reversed when companies eventually increase production to make up for lost time, air pollution could rebound with a vengeance when factories and traffic spring back to life. On Tuesday, the Chinese government said it plans to relax environmental standards so factories can speed up production.

Air pollution and the virus have a close relationship. Breathing unclean air is linked to high blood pressure, diabetes, and respiratory disease, conditions that doctors are starting to associate with higher death rates for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. Physicians say that people with these chronic conditions may be less able to fight off infections and more likely to die of the disease.

“The air may be clearing in Italy, but the damage has already been done to human health and people’s ability to fight off infection,” said Sascha Marschang, acting secretary general of the European Public Health Alliance, in a statement.

Evidence suggests that bad air quality may have increased the death toll of a previous coronavirus outbreak, the SARS pandemic of 2003. One study of SARS patients found that people living in regions with a moderate amount of air pollution were 84 percent more likely to die than those in regions with cleaner air.

And now, health officials are warning that people who live in polluted places anywhere may be at greater risk again. “I can’t help but think of the many communities where residents breathe polluted air that can lead to chronic respiratory problems, cancer, and disease, which could make them more vulnerable to the worst impacts of COVID-19,” wrote Gina McCarthy, the president and CEO of the Natural Resources Defense Council, in a post this week about how the organization is responding to the coronavirus.

Clearing the air could help vulnerable people fight off the threat of deadly disease — during this pandemic as well as any future ones — and save millions of lives in the meantime. Governments already have a pretty good idea of how to clean up air pollution, and it doesn’t involve a global pandemic.

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One more way the world wasn’t prepared for coronavirus: Air pollution

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The report card is in: Green orgs are improving staff diversity, but still don’t reflect America

People of color are on the frontlines of the climate crisis: They live in areas disproportionately impacted by pollution, deadly heat waves, and extreme storms. So it stands to reason that the staffers and leaders of major environmental organizations should reflect the demographics of the communities most relevant to their work.

The Green 2.0 initiative, which was launched in 2013 to promote racial and gender diversity in the environmental movement, released its third annual diversity report card for the top 40 major non-governmental organizations and foundations on Wednesday. For the first time in its short history, the report brought good news: an overall increase in people of color and women on staff and boards of directors since Green 2.0 started collecting and releasing data in 2017.

According to the report, each green organization that provided data added 11 people of color to its staff between 2017 and 2019, on average. As for senior staffers, each organization added an average of two people of color to its upper ranks, while the number of women on senior staff remained unchanged over the same two-year period. (Overall, people of color constitute close to 30 percent of organizational staff; women constitute about 64 percent.) Each organization also added, on average, one woman and one person of color to its board. These improvements were determined to be statistically significant — though the numbers do exclude one unnamed outlier that skewed the results in a different direction.

Whitney Tome, the executive director of Green 2.0, said in a press call that the organization is “cautiously optimistic” after reviewing the findings. “We want the trend to continue and we want it to accelerate, so that it can match the racial demographics of the country,” she said.

Tome also highlighted the importance of further improvements to board composition. “When it comes to membership of the board, it is critically important that people of color sit on that stage,” Tome said. “The board needs to be as diverse as the country to ensure that its next leaders are people of color.”

For three years, Green 2.0 has surveyed the top 40 environmental NGOs and top 40 foundations across the country. NGOs were generally more active and willing to share their data than foundations. In fact, the participation rate among the top 40 NGOs increased from 82.5 percent to 90 percent between 2017 and 2019. Green 2.0 specifically called out the Pew Charitable Trusts, one of largest nonprofits with a mission to improve public policy by collecting data for research, for declining to participate in the survey multiple times. “It’s hypocritical,” Tome said in the press call.

Meanwhile, the participation rate among foundations remains stagnant at 35 percent, making it difficult for Green 2.0 to provide a concrete set of trends on the demographic composition of foundations.

Foundations funnel money to push policies, grants, and other resources as part of the environmental movement, so diverse viewpoints among their staff members are leaders are of critical importance. Ironically, many foundations ask grantees for their own demographic data, Tome pointed out — but the foundations themselves are unwilling to disclose their own data to the public.

“We recognize the environmental movement hasn’t always been as attentive to frontline communities and communities of color throughout its history,” Tome said. “So we really want to continue to push and advocate for having people of color in those senior leadership places, and for them to hopefully have a tremendous impact in policies going forward.”

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The report card is in: Green orgs are improving staff diversity, but still don’t reflect America

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The climate crisis is putting women in danger, study finds

Imagine being a mom of seven children in a small village with little to no economic opportunities and resources. The only job a woman can get is to sell fish in the market — but in order to get the fish to sell, you have to have sex with fishermen as a form of payment.

This is the reality for many women in parts of East Africa, where economic opportunities are divided by gender. Traditionally, men own boats and go out fishing in lakes, while women buy fish from the men to sell at the market. But fish stocks are dwindling in East Africa, as they are across the globe, in part due to climate change. When men don’t catch enough fish to supply all the buyers, they negotiate sex in exchange for a guaranteed catch.

“Sex for fish” is just one of many examples described in a new study by the International Union for Conservation of Nature about the ways in which climate change and environmental destruction are fueling violence against women.

The researchers of the study conducted a survey of environmental policymakers, advocates, activists, and academics and collected 80 case studies that drew connections between environmental catastrophe and gender-based violence and exploitation. Fifty-nine percent of those who took the survey said they have observed sexual assault and coercion, rape, trafficking, child marriage, or other forms of violence against women in the wake of environmental crises or conflicts.

In countries with high gender inequality, like those in East Africa, laws and gender norms determine who has access to and control over natural resources. The study authors write that men often engage in violence against women to maintain these power imbalances. Indigenous women, for instance, sometimes face sexual violence and assault when male authorities demand sexual favors in exchange for land rights.

It’s not just struggles over natural resources that contribute to violence against women. In rural Australia, researchers found an uptick in domestic violence during severe droughts, which the researchers attributed to an increase in men’s alcohol and drug consumption to help them cope with drought-related financial pressures. And climate change–induced migration can also exacerbate gender-based violence, with women who flee to overcrowded temporary shelters after a climate disaster particularly vulnerable.

The jaboya system, as the sex-for-fish practice is called in western Kenya, has made women vulnerable to HIV and AIDS, which are four to 14 times more prevalent in fishing communities than elsewhere in developing countries. Overfishing and warming temperatures have made it more difficult for fishermen to find fish. Climate change-fueled floods and droughts can severely impact inland waters such as lakes and ponds, resulting in a decline in water quality, longer dry seasons, the emergence of new pathogens, and accelerating fish mortality.

Despite environmental pressures, East African women have been exploring ways to resist sexual exploitation. In 2011, a women’s cooperative called “No Sex For Fish” launched, in an attempt to eliminate the jaboya practice. Thanks to grants from various nonprofits, such as World Connect, the women in the cooperative have bought boats and hired men to catch fish for them. Some boats, however, weren’t strong enough to take the strong wave currents, and eventually broke down. Although the jaboya system has not been fully eradicated, the cooperative continues to fight for women’s autonomy.

The IUCN study also provides examples of solutions and proposals for policymakers to consider when addressing gender-based violence and environmental rights. Uganda’s government, for instance, has integrated gender issues into a wetlands restoration project. Research shows that child marriage tends to increase during droughts, famines, and water shortages because it allows a family to receive “bride wealth” and to reduce the number of people to feed in a household. The restoration project is designed to mitigate such climate disasters, and as a result reduce child marriage and other forms of gender-based violence. The study also suggests ways to address gender-based violence by creating consortiums to spread awareness. In Nepal, for example, women who do forest conservation work were particularly vulnerable to violence from illegal loggers. USAID then expanded its Hariyo Ban Program, a consortium that aims to reduce threats to biodiversity and climate vulnerablities, to incorporate trainings to prevent violence against women.

“A powerful ingredient for change is knowledge,” Cate Owren, one of the study’s authors and the IUCN senior gender program manager, told Grist in an email. “We hope innovation and creative partnerships are on the horizon.”

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The climate crisis is putting women in danger, study finds

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These hacked streets signs are the scariest thing you’ll see this Halloween

Gather ‘round, monsters, goblins, and ghouls. It’s Halloween, and we have spooky news from one of the scariest places in the world (if you’re terrified of tall buildings, pretty people, and loneliness).

A haunted hacker has been taking over New York City Department of Transportation electronic road signs to send messages to New Yorkers from the other side. The first supernatural transmissions arrived earlier this month and included such eerily true statements as “cars are death machines” and “cars melt glaciers.”

Now, for Halloween, the trickster has some new messages for commuters: “Forget poison candy” / “cars are the real danger.”

The sprite responsible for these spine-chilling messages has been dubbed Bikesy — the NYC bike-advocate version of Banksy (don’t yell at me, I didn’t come up with the nickname). Bikesy also left a “Happy Halloween” message on Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn this morning, along with a warning: “Don’t be creepy” / “Leave the car at home.”

OK, fine. Whoever is hacking into road signs is most likely a transportation nerd with tech skills and some free time, not a tormented spirit from beyond. But you know what is super scary? Cars!

Some 40,000 Americans died in car crashes last year, according to an estimate by the National Safety Council. Cars killed 111 New Yorkers in the first six months of 2019 alone. That means vehicles are way deadlier than guns, which killed 61 people in the city during the same period, according to NYPD data. So far this year, 25 cyclists have been killed by vehicles in the Big Apple, more than double the number of cyclists that were killed by cars in the entirety of 2018.

And Halloween is a particularly dangerous time for people trying to share the street with cars. Research shows it’s the deadliest day of the year for child pedestrians, who are three times more likely to be killed by a car on this day. For kids between 4 and 8 years old, the risk is 10 times higher. Not to mention the fact that gas-powered vehicles are a major contributor to climate change and air pollution, both of which come with their own major health risks.

How’s that for a scary story? The moral is clear: if you don’t want to be cursed for all eternity, listen to Bikesy and leave the car at home tonight.

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These hacked streets signs are the scariest thing you’ll see this Halloween

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Broke Is the New Green

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Planet-friendly products are getting easier to find, but they’re still too expensive for most people to buy.

If you can’t afford fair trade coffee, organic cotton towels, and reclaimed wood tables, environmentalism can seem like a cause you can’t join. It’s good to shop your values, but the truth is, you can’t shop your way to sustainability. If you’re too broke to shop green, there’s a pretty good chance that you are already living that way.


Housing ties with transportation as Americans’ biggest direct carbon impacts, making fantasies of off-grid homesteading or net-zero efficiency hard to resist. At least, they would be if they weren’t so expensive.

As inspiring as these sorts of homes are, it takes 15 to 20 years for a net-zero house to offset the carbon emissions from its own construction. Which means that energy retrofits to an old house are not only much cheaper than moving to a new one, they are just as green.

Density, meaning both the size of your home or the number of people you squeeze into it, lowers per capita emissions more than almost any other housing change. Besides reduced per capita energy consumption, the benefits cascade into reduced transportation emissions and consumer waste.

In fact, the U.S. could achieve half of its climate targets if everyone got a roommate.


Feel guilty because you can’t afford a Prius? Don’t be too hard on yourself. It’s true that about 80 percent of a vehicle’s emissions result from driving it rather than manufacturing it. But the exact math on whether it’s greener to buy an efficient new car is not clear cut.

Replacing your 1970s Buick that gets 8 mpg with a 1990s Honda might be greener than buying a new electric vehicle (unless it’s a recycled EV). Next time your old car is in the shop, you can feel extra virtuous.

Walking, biking, and taking public transportation are all greener than driving, no matter what kind of car you own.

Shopping Less

Four-fifths of the impacts that can be attributed to consumers are not direct impacts, but are secondary impacts, the environmental effects of producing the stuff we buy.

If your tight budget has you thinking twice before you head to the register, you are eliminating waste before it’s produced. That’s called precycling, and it’s the greenest consumer choice you can make.

When you really do need to buy stuff, a new organic cotton T-shirt is undoubtedly better than a new one made from conventional cotton. But life cycle analysis shows that by far the most important factor is the number of times consumers wear a garment before throwing it out. Buying second-hand is almost as good as not buying at all, because it extends the life of the product.

Cooking More

Forget fancy dinners at the latest organic, locavore restaurant. Even fast food is more expensive than cooking at home.

What you might not know is that cooking at home produces fewer greenhouse gases than eating the same meal at a restaurant. Plus, you have more influence over your own ingredient choices and food waste at home. Suddenly, making beans and rice starts to look like environmental activism.

Feature image courtesy of  1820796 from Pixabay 


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Elemental – Tim James



How the Periodic Table Can Now Explain (Nearly) Everything

Tim James

Genre: Chemistry

Price: $9.99

Publish Date: March 26, 2019

Publisher: ABRAMS

Seller: Harry N. Abrams, Inc.

If you want to understand how our world works, the periodic table holds the answers. When the seventh row of the periodic table of elements was completed in June 2016 with the addition of four final elements—nihonium, moscovium, tennessine, and oganesson—we at last could identify all the ingredients necessary to construct our world.In Elemental, chemist and science educator Tim James provides an informative, entertaining, and quirkily illustrated guide to the table that shows clearly how this abstract and seemingly jumbled graphic is relevant to our day-to-day lives.James tells the story of the periodic table from its ancient Greek roots, when you could count the number of elements humans were aware of on one hand, to the modern alchemists of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries who have used nuclear chemistry and physics to generate new elements and complete the periodic table. In addition to this, he answers questions such as: What is the chemical symbol for a human? What would happen if all of the elements were mixed together? Which liquid can teleport through walls? Why is the medieval dream of transmuting lead into gold now a reality?Whether you're studying the periodic table for the first time or are simply interested in the fundamental building blocks of the universe—from the core of the sun to the networks in your brain—Elemental is the perfect guide.

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Elemental – Tim James

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How to Find Balance as an Eco-Conscious Urbanite

Our planet is a mess.?Fish are?disappearing from our oceans. Global warming is on the rise. A million species are on the brink of extinction. Plastic pollution is out of control. Predictions for the future are even more alarming.

In the face of such overwhelming challenges, it can sometimes feel like the only answer is to build an off-the-grid cob house and grow your own food. But while that?might sound like an idyllic lifestyle, it’s not a feasible solution for most people.

The majority of us?have lives in the city that we either can’t leave behind or simply don’t want to. It’s where we earn a living, raise our families and caffeinate ourselves.

We might not want to live elsewhere, but at the same time we’re also acutely aware that our urbanite carbon footprint dwarfs that of our yurt-dwelling counterparts.

Humans tend to be an all or nothing lot. We either deny the evidence in front of us or we try to do everything in our power to make a difference. As a Care2 reader, you obviously fall into the second category. Me too.

Unfortunately, doing everything isn’t an option. Finding balance as an eco-conscious urbanite?is key. It’s about doing your best, rather than striving for perfection. How do you do that?

Choose Your #1 Cause

My wife and I have been eating a vegan diet for almost eight years now. Not harming animals is our number one priority. We might compromise in other areas, but not this one.

What’s most important for you? It could be living a zero-waste lifestyle, eating locally grown, organic food or whatever.

Identify something you can do unfailingly. Knowing you’re doing one thing perfectly (or close to) will help you feel better about the fact that you can’t do everything.

Take a Hard Line When It Matters

With some things, you have to take a hard line no matter what. They’re the kinds of issues that you can’t compromise on.

You might eat meat, eggs and dairy, but that doesn’t mean you have to support factory farming.
You might enjoy pampering yourself, but that doesn’t mean you have to use products that have been tested on animals.
You might like wearing nice clothes, but that doesn’t mean you have to contribute to?the fast fashion industry.

There’s always a sustainable alternative. It might not be as readily available, and it could cost more, but it’s better than indulging your desires at the expense of another living being.

Compromise When It?Counts

Living plastic-free is an ongoing mission in our house. We’re nowhere near where we’d like to be, but we’re doing our best.

Recently, we discovered that a local plant-based food brand?supports Sea Shepherd, a?non-profit, marine conservation organization fighting to protect our oceans.

We’ve always loved Fry’s Foods but stopped buying it because of the packaging. When we heard about their efforts to make a difference, we decided a compromise was in order. Rather than just toss the packaging in the trash, we’ll be making eco-bricks with our non-recyclables.

I’ve always believed it’s important to support businesses that are making an effort to be eco-conscious. It’s not always easy, as they have investors to placate and staff to pay. In spite of this, they still try.

A powerful way to?protest the things we don’t like (factory farming, manufacturing of single-use plastic, etc.) is with our pockets. We need to support the businesses that are?making a difference?and ignore the ones that are contributing to the problem.

Find a Balance that Works for You

As eco-conscious urbanites, our approaches will differ from person to person. What holds true for all of us, however, is our belief that we can leave the world a better place.

Focus on the things you can do and don’t worry so much about the rest. That may be easier said than done when you’re?constantly being bombarded with bad news, but it’s important to try. Instead of getting down about the way things are, go out there and make a difference in whatever way you can. It’s also helpful to go on a news fast every now and then.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

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11 Signs that Your Social Media Habits are Unhealthy

Any addiction is unhealthy, so if you?re a self-proclaimed social media addict or tech addict, then you?ll want to examine your relationship with it immediately. But maybe you don?t know whether you?re an addict. If that?s the case, then peruse these signs of social media addiction to determine where you fall on the spectrum.

11 Signs of Social Media Addiction

1. You check your phone constantly.

You know this has to be the first one because the rate of usage is always the first sign. If you?re constantly on your phone, scrolling your social media accounts then that?s a big red flag.

2. You can?t wait in an elevator, line, or at a traffic light without checking your phone.

Silence kills you. Even if you have music blaring in your car and you’re waiting for the light to turn green, you can?t keep your hands off your phone. In fact, it?s so habitual that you don?t even realize you?re doing it. Then one day you run into the car in front of you because some guy in the right lane decided to run the red light. And your peripheral vision tricked you.

3. Your phone is in your hand (and possibly on and facing you) while you?re in an intimate conversation.

If you can?t leave your phone in your pocket or purse during dinner or while you?re in a conversation with a lover, then you?ve got a problem. More than one. First, you?ve got your addiction. Then you?ve got the problem caused by the addiction: an upset lover, friend, or family member.

4. You document your every move.

Go ahead and review your timelines. If your life is so thoroughly documented that you know what you ate for dinner four years ago on Friday the 13th of January at 7:08 pm, then you?ve got an unhealthy relationship with social media. The same goes for when you know every nail polish color you?ve had on your toes and fingers for the last five years.

5. You spend more hours on social media than you do with real people.

You can track how much time you spend on social media with neat apps. Some apps will even show you how many times you open social media or simply open your phone throughout the day. Try tracking yourself for a few weeks. More hours on social media doesn?t nurture a healthy social life. It actually hinders it.

6. You experience FOMO when you go without social media for any amount of time.

If you miss anyone?s posts, even your own, and you experience a deep fear of missing out, then you need to back away from social media for a while. You will miss out on things in life. And you?re making yourself crazy thinking that you won?t. You?ll experience exactly what you need to when you need to.

7. Your sense of self-worth depends on the number of likes, shares, or friends you have.

It?s sad but true. Some individuals rely heavily on the amount of fake congeniality they experience online to bolster their sense of self-worth. This is an extremely unhealthy relationship with social media that has a far-reaching impact. If you depend on likes, shares, or friend requests to feel good about yourself, then you need to reexamine your relationship with social media today. You are worth far more than a mere click of a mouse.

8. You accept friend requests from strangers.

You don?t need to be friends with anyone you don?t know. The only time this would make a difference is if you are a business. And you?re business needs customers. Then you?ll definitely have people you don?t know friending you on Facebook. That?s the only time it?s okay. New friends are to be made in person, then friended on Facebook. Or, if you?re dating and you meet online, that?s a different story. But most of the time, the strangers friending you on Facebook aren?t real anyway.

9. You check your phone first thing in the morning and the last thing at night.

If your morning ritual consists of your phone, then you need to take a step back. Bombarding yourself before you get out of bed and before you go to sleep at night with what other people are doing diminishes your connection with yourself. The more impaired your connection to self, the more you depend on others to give you your sense of self.?That’s?an unhealthy, codependent relationship, even if it is through social media alone.

10 . You walk down the street looking at your phone.

You are putting yourself and others at risk. You could inadvertently walk into traffic, crash into someone carrying groceries, or trip and break a wrist. It?s not worth it.

11. You had to increase your data plan to accommodate your usage.

You may need more data for other reasons, but if you have an unhealthy relationship with social media, then you know that you?re increasing your data for one reason and one reason alone: increased scroll time.

Final Thoughts

You know you?re addicted to social media before you even read these 11 signs. While social media addiction isn?t as big a problem as some might think, it still exists. And it?s more likely to occur in those with addictive personalities.

The same types of people who are likely to get addicted to drugs can experience a social media addiction. Seek help sooner rather than later. Real life social interactions are far more important than the superficial interactions of social media. Plus, real life social interactions have proven to play a role in longevity and overall health.

Image via Thinkstock

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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11 Signs that Your Social Media Habits are Unhealthy

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It’s World Oceans Day! Let’s Say Sayonara to Single-Use Plastic

In July 2017, a study tallied up all the plastic ever made, arriving at the jaw-dropping figure of 8.3 billion metric tons. That was 11 months ago. How much more do you think has been added since then?

Most people get that plastic is a major problem, but the extent of?that problem eludes us. This is understandable, given that we generally don’t see the results of our own actions when it comes to plastic waste.

We’ll use a plastic straw in our smoothie, for example and excuse it as one small thing.

However, all those small things add up, until eventually what you?re left with is a garbage patch in the ocean that?s two time the size of Texas. That?s a heck of a lot of plastic.

According to Reuse This Bag, we use over 320 million metric tons of plastic annually. Do the math on that, and it?s easy to understand why the action focus for World Oceans Day 2018 is centered around?stopping?plastic pollution.

Single-Use Plastic is Destroying Our Oceans

It would be bad enough if our garbage ended up only in landfills, but around 2.41 million metric tons of plastic end up in the sea each year. The resulting impact of plastic on marine and bird life is disastrous.

Just recently, a whale was found in Thailand with eighty shopping bags and other plastic debris clogging its stomach. It literally starved to death. That?s just one story out of millions.

The number of countries and cities that have banned single-use plastics is growing. It?s time for all of us to step up and do our bit. Together, we can make single-use plastic obsolete.

By properly informing ourselves, we?ll be able to view our actions as part of the collective whole, rather than standalone indiscretions that don?t make all that much of a difference.

This infographic offers an in-depth look at plastic in the ocean. Along with dispelling myths around the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, it shows the impact of plastic pollution on?sea birds and marine life, including the harmful effects when these creatures eat plastic waste.

This video by National Geographic does a great job of explaining the history of plastic as well as the impact it’s had on the world and what we can do to make a difference. They, too, emphasize?the importance of eliminating single-use plastic.

What can you do to help?

If all we did was eliminate our use of single-use plastic, we?d make massive inroads into the problem. Avoiding plastic is a struggle, but it can be done. Here are some hacks to reduce your single-use plastic consumption:

  1. Carry your own travel mug.
  2. Carry your own eating utensils.
  3. Bring your own cloth shopping bags.
  4. Bring your own fresh produce bags, too.
  5. Don?t use plastic straws.
  6. Carry a reusable water bottle.
  7. Buy in bulk to reduce packaging waste.
  8. Buy laundry detergent that comes in a box.
  9. Opt for zero waste lunches.
  10. Refuse plastic at the dry cleaner. Or skip the dry cleaner all together!
  11. Use eco-friendly shaving supplies.
  12. Stop buying single-use coffee pods.
  13. Avoid processed food.
  14. Use bar shampoo and soap.
  15. Light your fire with matches.
  16. Use cloth diapers instead of disposable.
  17. Ladies, make your period waste-free.
  18. Shop at package-free stores.
  19. Rethink your food storage options.
  20. Make reusable bowl covers?(or bribe someone to make them for you)

We all know what we need to do, it’s time to do it. Let’s all commit to saying sayonara to single-use plastic for good.

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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It’s World Oceans Day! Let’s Say Sayonara to Single-Use Plastic

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For 400 months in a row, our planet has been unusually hot

Our overheating planet just reached another staggering — maybe even astronomical — new milestone.

In a report out Thursday, NOAA confirmed that April was the 400th consecutive month of warmer-than-average global temperatures. The last month cooler than the 20th century average was December 1984, back in the days of big hair and Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.”

We’ve come a long way since then. Somehow, though, we’re still debating whether human activity is behind the warmer atmosphere, not to mention what the hell we’re going to do about it.

Either the last 400 months were all an incredible coincidence — we’ll get to that in a second — or something else is going on. I’m thinking it’s the latter.

Sure, there is a tiny chance that Earth just pulled off the most impressively unlikely feat ever. If you assume the odds of a particular month being warmer than average are 50 percent — what you’d expect in a stable climate — then the odds of 400 warm months in a row would be approximately one in 1 x 10^120. The name for such a number is a “novemtrigintillion” — a value bigger than the number of atoms that exist in a trillion universes.

Thanks to science (and common sense) we know the real reason: People burning stuff for energy, something that — lucky us! — we really don’t have to do anymore.

Excerpt from: 

For 400 months in a row, our planet has been unusually hot

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