Why are Fireflies Disappearing?

Day 160 – When I was a kid, lightning bugs (fireflies) were one of the main indications that summer had arrived. My sisters and I always made sure to be extra careful when catching them. We only wanted a brief moment with the magical insect. We were always quick to release them back into the warm summer, night sky.

Sadly, my kids have not had the same experience I had growing up. The opportunities to enjoy a good chase around the yard, trying to catch those flashing lights, has ceased to exist. The number of fireflies has decreased over the years due to numerous factors. Not only has habitat destruction, pesticide use, and climate change cause numbers to decline, but light pollution has played a major role in disrupting the firefly populations.

“Human light pollution is believed to interrupt firefly flash patterns. Scientists have observed that synchronous fireflies get out of synch for a few minutes after a car’s headlights pass. Light from homes, cars, stores, and streetlights may all make it difficult for fireflies to signal each other during mating—meaning fewer firefly larvae are born next season.” firefly.org

Why do we need to protect fireflies?

  1. They are important pollinators.
  2. The larvae of some species are specialized predators. They feed on slugs and mites that can harm garden plants.
  3. They are extremely sensitive to environmental conditions, which make them good indicators for scientists to access healthy ecosystems.
  4. Luciferin, the chemical that gives fireflies their glow, has major applications in medical research, particularly for diseases such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, cystic fibrosis and various heart diseases.

However, the main reason we should all care about the well being of the firefly is because they represent the amazing nature that surrounds us everyday.

“They spark wonder in people. When you are in your back yard or park you notice them and are amazed. They are one of the few things that universally give people a feeling of falling in love in nature.” – Sara Lewis (biology professor at Tufts University

Decreasing our carbon footprint and pesticide use will be helpful to the survival of the fireflies. However, one of the easiest things we could do is to just turn off the lights.

Tomorrow, spreading random acts of green.

The Ocean: Life and Livelihoods

Day 159 – Oceans Day was first declared on June 8, 1992 in Rio de Janeiro at the Global Forum, a parallel event at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) which provided an opportunity for non-government organizations and civil society to express their views on environmental issues. In 2008, led by Canada, the General Assembly resolved that June 8 would be designated by the United Nations as “World Oceans Day”. The theme of the inaugural observance of World Oceans Day was ‘Our Oceans, Our Responsibility’.

This year’s theme is ‘The Ocean: Life and Livelihoods‘. The day will shed light on the wonder of the ocean and how it is our lifesource, supporting humanity and every other organism on earth.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) gives many reasons as to why we should care about the ocean.

  1. The ocean produces over half of the world’s oxygen and stores more than 50 times more carbon dioxide than our atmosphere.
  2. Covering 70% of the Earth’s surface, the ocean transports heat from the equator to the poles, regulating our climate and weather patterns.
  3. 76% of U.S. trade involves some form marine transportation.
  4. The ocean economy produces $282 billion in goods and services per year. Ocean dependent businesses employ almost 3 million people.
  5. The ocean provides so much more than just seafood. Ingredients from the sea are found in things like peanut butter and soy milk.
  6. Many medicinal products come from the ocean. Medicines that fight cancer, arthritis, Alzheimer’s and heart disease can be traced back to the ocean.

So, what can we do to help the oceans?

NOAA gives us 10 ways we can help.

  1. Conserve Water – Use less water so excess runoff and wastewater will not flow into the ocean.
  2. Reduce Pollutants – Choose nontoxic chemicals and dispose of herbicides, pesticides, and cleaning products properly.
  3. Reduce Waste – Cut down on what you throw away.
  4. Shop Wisely – Choose sustainable seafood. Buy less plastic and bring a reusable bag.
  5. Reduce Vehicle Pollution – Use fuel efficient vehicles, carpool or ride a bike.
  6. Use Less Energy – Choose energy efficient light bulbs and don’t overset your thermostat.
  7. Fish Responsibly – Follow “catch and release” practices and keep more fish alive.
  8. Practice Safe Boating – Anchor in sandy areas far from coral and sea grasses. Adhere to “no wake” zones.
  9. Respect Habitat – Healthy habitat and survival go hand in hand. Treat with care.
  10. Volunteer – Volunteer for cleanups at the beach and in your community. You can get involved in protecting your watershed too!

Even if you don’t live near the ocean, your actions can have an impact. Make sure your impact is a positive one.

Tomorrow, saving the fireflies.

World Food Safety Day

Day 158 – The first World Food Day was celebrated on October 16, 1981. After acknowledging the global burden of food-borne diseases on individuals of all ages, the United Nations General Assembly then proclaimed in 2018 that every year, June 7th would be celebrated as World Food Safety Day.

“According to the World Health Organization (WHO), worldwide, unsafe food causes approximately 600 million cases of food-borne diseases and 420,000 deaths annually. Unsafe food is a serious threat to human health and economies. It is mostly the marginalized and vulnerable people, especially women and young children, migrants, and populations affected by conflict, who bear the brunt of it all. Food is the focal point for our health, energy, and our well-being. We often take for granted that all the food we eat is safe. But, in a progressively interconnected world where food value chains are constantly growing longer, there is a need for robust food-related standards and regulations to keep us safe.” FirstCryParenting.com

Food safety is a shared responsibility between governments, producers and consumers.  Everyone has a role to play from farm to table to ensure the food we consume is safe and healthy. Through the World Food Safety Day, WHO works to mainstream food safety in the public agenda and reduce the burden of food-borne diseases globally. Food safety is everyone’s business.

Calls to action

1 – Ensure it’s safe – Government must ensure safe and nutritious food for all.

2 – Grow it safe – Agriculture and food producers need to adopt good practices.

3 – Keep it safe – Business operators must make sure food is safe.

4 – Know what’s safe – Consumers need to learn about safe and healthy food.

5 – Team up for food safety – Work together for safe food and good health.

Be thankful for access to safe food and fight for those that do not. Everyone should be able to eat without fear of getting sick.

Tomorrow, preserving and protecting our oceans.

Eyewear: Options for donating and recycling

Day 157 – About 60% of the world’s population needs some kind of corrective lenses. That ends up being a lot of eyeglasses and contacts being worn and eventually tossed. Thankfully, there are places to donate your eyewear and recycle your contacts.

Eyeglasses

The organization you donate to will inspect the glasses, determine the prescription, and clean the eyewear so it can be used again. Your old glasses will then get matched to someone who needs them — around the world or in your neighborhood.

  1. Lions Club International – They operate a network of collection boxes and Lions Eyeglass Recycling Centers, where volunteers process donated glasses for distribution through medical missions around the world.
  2. New Eyes – A United Way agency, buys new glasses for people in need in the United States. It also accepts, processes and distributes gently used donated eyeglasses to people overseas. New Eyes accepts used prescription glasses, reading glasses, sunglasses, safety glasses and children’s glasses in good to excellent condition.
  3. OneSight -An independent nonprofit that has helped more than 9 million people in 46 countries. They set up permanent vision centers and hold charitable clinics around the world. While OneSight dispenses only new eyewear to patients, they accept donations of used eyewear and send it to Lions Clubs International in support of their recycling programs.
  4. Eyes of Hope – Vision insurer VSP Global provides access to no-cost eye care and eyewear for more than 2 million people around the world. They accept donations of new and gently used eyewear.

Contacts

You can recycle your contacts and their packaging through TerraCycle’s Free Recycling Program. Just type in your zip code and you will be given a list of participating eye care facilities that will take your used contact lenses and packaging.

You can drop off your old eyeglasses and used contacts at the Northcenter Neighborhood Association’s Recycle Popup. Eyeglasses will be donated to the Lions Club and contacts will be recycled through TerraCycle. Our next popup will be on Saturday, June 19th.

So, on this National Eyewear Day, consider passing on those old eyeglasses to someone in need and give them the gift of good eyesight.

Tomorrow, keeping our food safe, locally and globally.

#GenerationRestoration

Day 156 – REIMAGINE. RECREATE. RESTORE.

“This is our moment. We cannot turn back time. But we can grow trees, green our cities, rewild our gardens, change our diets and clean up rivers and coasts. We are the generation that can make peace with nature. Let’s get active, not anxious. Let’s be bold, not timid. Join #GenerationRestorationWorld Environment Day

The theme of this year’s World Environment Day is Ecosystem Restoration. Pakistan will act as global host of the day. World Environment Day 2021 will see the launch of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration.

“Ecosystem restoration means assisting in the recovery of ecosystems that have been degraded or destroyed, as well as conserving the ecosystems that are still intact. Restoration can happen in many ways – for example through actively planting or by removing pressures so that nature can recover on its own. It is not always possible – or desirable – to return an ecosystem to its original state. We still need farmland and infrastructure on land that was once forest, for instance, and ecosystems, like societies, need to adapt to a changing climate. Between now and 2030, the restoration of 350 million hectares of degraded terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems could generate US$9 trillion in ecosystem services. Restoration could also remove 13 to 26 gigatons of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.”UN Decades on Ecosystem Restoration

Scientists say these next ten years will count most in the fight to avert climate change and the loss of millions of species. Here are ten actions in the strategy of the UN Decade that can build a #GenerationRestoration.

  1. Empower a global movement – Groups and individuals can get informed about restoration opportunities in their area. They can join an initiative already underway or start their own.
  2. Finance restoration on the ground – Governments, international lenders, development agencies and private business will all have to ramp up their support. Individuals can consider giving a donation, their time or their expertise to a worthy initiative.
  3. Set the right incentives – In the long-term, healthier ecosystems can produce bigger harvests, more secure incomes and a healthier environment for people. Being a leader on restoration needs to be rewarded and not punished.
  4. Celebrate leadership -The UN Decade will celebrate leadership and encourage others to step up. Just like Indigenous peoples have acted as defenders of their ecosystems for generations., we too, need to protect our lands.
  5. Shift behaviors – Deforestation, the depletion of fish stocks and the degradation of agricultural soils are all caused by global consumption patterns. The UN Decade will work with all partners to identify and encourage restoration-friendly consumption.
  6. Invest in research – Scientific understanding of how to restore and adapt ecosystems is still developing. Considerable investments are needed to identify the best practices to restore our planet – one plot at a time.
  7. Build up capacity – As a priority, the UN Decade’s strategy seeks to build the capacity of marginalized groups that stand to lose most from the continued destruction of ecosystems – such as indigenous peoples, women and youth to take an active role in restoration.
  8. Celebrate a culture of restoration – Shifting from plundering the planet to healing it is a cultural challenge. The UN Decade’s strategy therefore calls on artists, storytellers, producers, musicians and connectors to join the #GenerationRestoration.
  9. Build up the next generation – Education for restoration will turn today’s children into ecosystem ambassadors, provide skills for sustainable jobs and ensure that the UN Decade’s achievements far outlive its timeframe.
  10. Listen and learn – The UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration wants to hear from you. Connect with them on social media and be sure to use #GENERATIONRESTORATION

There is a lot of work to be done and no one person or organization can do it alone. We all have to join forces and work together to protect the planet, our home.

Tomorrow, options to donate and recycle your eyewear.

Bicycle Donation and Recycling

Day 155 – I remember getting my first bicycle. I had just made my First Communion and a new bicycle was my big gift. Up until then I was riding my sisters’ old bikes or ones that we had acquired from various family and friends. It was an amazing feeling to have my very own bicycle.

Sadly, there are many children that don’t experience the joy of receiving a new bicycle. They don’t even get the chance to own any kind of bicycle, new or old. Today’s post lists some options for those looking to part with bicycles that have been outgrown or replaced with an upgrade. These bicycles have the potential to bring a great deal of happiness to children and adults, alike.

These are mainly options that can be found in Chicago. However, a simple Google search for bicycle donations in your town or city, can put you on the right track.

  1. Working Bikes – To donate, visit their warehouse/shop at 2434 S. Western Ave. any time during store hours. If the warehouse is too far for you to travel, you may bring your donation to one of their drop-off locations.
  2. The Recyclery – You can email donatebikes@therecyclery.org to schedule a pick-up. You can also drop off bikes directly to the Collection Points listed HERE. They take bicycles in all conditions.
  3. Play It Again Sports – Play It Again Sports will be happy to take your bicycle and they will pay you.

The 47th Ward is collecting bicycles until June 25th. You can drop off bicycles at 4243 N. Lincoln Ave. They are partnering with non-profit bike shops across the city to provide bikes to young Chicagoans who are in need of a workable bike.

Since, many organizations will take bicycles in any condition there is little to no need to recycle bicycles. However, if you have a bicycle that can absolutely not be donated, many scrap metal companies will be happy to take your bicycle.

Tossing your old bicycle is never an option. There is someone out there more than happy to take that bicycle and give it a new life.

Tomorrow, commemorating World Environment Day.

I want to ride my bicycle…

Day 154“I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride my bike, I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride it where I like.”

Bicycle Race, was just one of the many songs I enjoyed listening to, off my Queen’s Greatest Hits album, when I was a kid. Couldn’t help think of that song while getting ready to write today’s post.

It’s World Bicycle Day! It’s the day where we celebrate all the wonderful benefits of riding a bicycle.

GearHungry.com came up with a list of 23 benefits of bicycle riding. I thought I would share five of them.

  1. Cycling Helps You Get in Shape – Perhaps the most compelling reason to ride a bicycle from a personal perspective is the fact that doing so can help you lose excess weight and improve your cardiovascular health. 
  2. Riding Your Bicycle Improves Mental Acuity – When you exercise your heart muscle by riding your bicycle all that blood surging through your veins is carrying oxygen it’s picking up in the lungs, which are also getting a good workout. That oxygen rich blood is then distributed to your brain where it helps you become more alert and mentally sharp.
  3. Cycling Can Save the Planet – Leaving the car home and taking the bicycle to work is one important step we can each take to putting the human race on a path toward sustainability and making sure we leave our grandkids a world every bit as beautiful as the one we grew up in.
  4. Riding Your Bike Saves Money – No tank to fill, no parking to pay for, no meter maids to deal with and no duals to the death with other drivers whose nerves have been frayed to the breaking point. 
  5.  Riding Your Bike will Help You Sleep Better – Getting out on the bike on a regular basis helps work off the stress and tire you out so you can get a proper night’s sleep.

And you’re going to want to start getting out on your bike, so you can prepare yourself for the ride of a lifetime. The Great American Rail Trail will span across 12 different states from coast to coast, enabling cyclists to travel safely and efficiently, avoiding any and all car and pedestrian traffic. The path will span 6,000 kilometers (3,728 miles), starting in Washington State, heading west through Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and finally, Maryland, where it will end in Washington D.C. The trail will hopefully be opening in the next year or two. Check out the route HERE.

So, get out there and ride your bike. Ride it where you like.

Tomorrow, ideas on where to donate a bicycle.

From Plastic Toys to Children’s Furniture

Day 153 – Co-founders Vanessa Yuan and Joris Vanbriel started ecoBirdy (Certified B-Corporation), a Belgium company that recycles old toys into furniture, as a way to reduce plastic waste. ecoBirdy collects toys from schools and recycling centers.

Check out the VIDEO to see how they do it.

“Recycled plastic products are usually recognized as being greyish, dullish and not very attractive. Our aim was to change this, and make something colorful out of the colorful plastic waste. Following an in-depth two-year study period, ecoBirdy created a special production process that gives the characteristic look to its products. The material resulting from this unique production process we named ecothylene®. Due to accurate sorting and using state-of-the-art technology, we are able to transform post-consumer plastic waste into high-grade raw material. The patented technology features integrated material separation and an improved binding formula for polymers. The result is that no pigments or new plastics need to be added. Making ecothylene® is significantly more eco-friendly than most recycling procedures for plastics.” – ecoBirdy

The recycled plastic used for the production of ecothylene® is 100% recyclable. Which means that ecothylene® can easily be recycled again.

The plastic waste goes through several stages.

  1. The collected plastic waste is brought to our partner, a professional recycling center.
  2. Every single object is manually checked.
  3. The volume is ground to smaller fragments and washed.
  4. Precise sorting is conducted automatically.
  5. Lab quality control is carried out.

Throughout the whole production process, the material is checked by people as well as machines to avoid contamination. 

The end product is safe and stylish children’s furniture that is helping keep plastic toys out of the landfill. We can only hope that more manufacturers will see the benefits of using recycled materials. As consumers, we can also help by supporting companies that put the planet first, but also by making good decisions when purchasing products. All you have to ask, “Does this product have a negative effect on the planet?”

Tomorrow, celebrating World Bicycle Day.

Plastic Toys: It’s not all fun and games

Day 152 – One of my least favorite toys that I had to assemble for my children was a kitchen. A rather large, plastic kitchen. All the pieces were attached and had to be separated before they could be reassembled to resemble a kitchen set. I did it all by myself on a Christmas Eve and it was absolutely the worst. However, the kids loved it! And when it’s all said and done, isn’t that what it’s all about?

Well, I sure drank the KoolAid on that misconception. Most of us don’t give much thought about the cheap, plastic toys we purchase for our children or young people in our lives. Our main concern is usually their happiness. So, we spend our money on toys that will most likely not even last a year and will end up in the trash.

About 90% of today’s toys are made from plastic. Sadly, most of the plastic is not recyclable. Think about the plastic toys you played with as a kid. Those same toys are still sitting in a landfill somewhere and will be there for centuries to come.

So, what are our options when looking to purchase toys?

Find toys made from other materials, like wood, cotton, metal or natural rubber

Companies like Big Future Toys and Begin Again Toys are finding other ways to produce fun and entertaining toys without the use of plastic.

Find toys made from recycled material

Companies like Green Toys and Luke’s Toy Factory are using recycled material to create their toys.

Find toys with take back programs

Numerous toy manufacturers are taking back their toys. If you have toys that have reached the end of their life, from any of the following companies, you can ship them, at no cost, to be recycled. Be sure to check out the list of accepted toys for each program.

Hasbro

V-Tech

Leap Frog

SpinMaster

Matel

Lego

*The Northcenter Neighborhood Association Recycle Popup collects all the toys listed here. The next popup is June 19th.

Find alternatives to toys

Another great option to avoid plastic toys, is to give the gift of an experience. Maybe it’s a trip to the bowling alley, or the arcade. A movie with all the popcorn and candy you can eat, a hike in a beautiful wooded area, or a day at the waterpark, would all make awesome gifts.

So, the next time you are faced with the challenge of finding that perfect gift consider avoiding the cheap plastic toys. There are so many great alternatives out there. You just need to look.

Tomorrow, a company that has found a purpose for the plastic from discarded children toys.

GotSneakers: Recycling shoes and raising funds

Day 151 – On Day 62, I gave a list of options to donate or recycle your shoes. Well today, I have another option for you. This one can bring you a little extra cash.

“At GotSneakers, we’re making it socially and financially rewarding to contribute to a circular economy with our FREE sneaker recycling programs for individual sellers and organizations of all types and sizes. When you join our sneaker recycling community, you will be making a global impact AND you will earn money for every pair of sneakers you contribute.” – GotSneakers

If your an individual seller, hosting a fundraiser, or part of a retail program, GotSneakers can fit your needs. Signup is easy and FREE. Just let GotSneakers know how many bags you need and if you need more they will send more. Once your bags arrive, fill them up with your sneakers (only sneakers), seal the bags and drop them off at either UPS or FedEx. Your prepaid postage will specify as to which service you will need to use.

All sneakers collected are recirculated to people who want quality, reusable footwear at affordable prices or repurposed into new surfaces such as playgrounds and tracks. Each pair will be professionally evaluated by GotSneakers’ trained staff, to determine the quality, style, and brand of each pair of footwear. You can check out the compensation chart HERE.

The Northcenter Neighborhood Association Monthly Recycle Popup, will be collecting sneakers, starting on June 19th. We will be using GotSneakers and hopefully raise a few dollars to put toward our recycling efforts.

Tomorrow, the problem with plastic toys.