2017 Environmental Wins
Throughout its 30 year history, EarthShare has supported the work of America’s most respected environmental and conservation organizations, while helping millions of people discover and understand their role in caring for our air, land, water, wildlife, and health. EarthShare’s 600 member organizations are working every day to protect wildlife, fight climate change, and build healthy communities in the US and around the world. In fact, you’ll find our members behind some of the most important environmental work of the past year.
With your help, we can keep up the fight for a healthy future. Make a tax-deductible year-end gift today to support the work we'll be doing in 2018!
Supporters like you made so many accomplishments possible in 2017, including:
- EarthShare Members like Conservation International and The Nature Conservancy helped pause a decision to lift the ban on sport-hunted big game trophies, which could undermine important trade bans put in place to protect elephants from the deadly ivory trade. They are also working with transport companies to break the chain between suppliers and customers in the illegal wildlife trade.
- With help from Environmental Defense Fund, California doubled down on its commitment to slowing climate change by voting to extend the state’s cap-and-trade program. The cap guarantees emissions reductions and is a central component of California’s ambitious plan to cut emissions 40% below 1990 levels by 2030. simple. The legislation caps greenhouse gases emitted by the state’s largest polluters, and lowers that cap over time, creating a market for innovations to help companies cut emissions at lowest cost. “EDF listened to all sides and helped forge compromise,” said Assembly minority leader Chad Mayes (R-Yucca Valley).
- American Rivers advocated for the removal of the Milburnie Dam for over a decade, and is celebrating the removal of this dam on the Neuse River in Raleigh, NC. The dam had not produced power in years, was the site of multiple drownings, and posed a barrier to migratory fish. Removal of the dam is allowing fish to return to historic spawning grounds and restoring habitats to their original stream ecosystem.
- City Parks Alliance released City Parks: America’s New Infrastructure, the first video in a series documenting the multi-functional benefits of urban parks. With growing urban populations, local governments are taking a fresh look at parks as a wise investment to address our greatest urban challenges—from stormwater management to reducing public health costs to economic revitalization. The videos include interviews with local business leaders, real estate developers, elected officials, urban design and park professionals, academics, and others.
- Audubon's Plants for Birds native-plants program launched nationally. The project is a collaboration between Audubon national staff, nature centers, and chapters throughout the U.S. It includes a searchable database of plants, where to buy them, and local Audubon resources available to help aspiring native-plant gardeners achieve success. Within the first three weeks after launch, more than 30,000 people signed up for information about native plants.
- Oceana attached satellite tags to blue sharks off the northeast coast of the US to track their movements to see how close they get to fishing boats. Tens of millions of sharks are killed every year when they’re caught in fishing lines. The technique from this pilot program can be used to study the movements of other species that might be sensitive to bycatch, such as sea turtles. The data could indicate hotspots where fishing should be limited, or where modified gear is needed.
- Bat Conservation International awarded a scholarship to researcher Kristen Lear, who is researching the needs of Mexican long-nosed bats, which are essential to pollinating agave. Developing “bat-friendly” agave programs will help maintain the genetic diversity and sustainability of agaves, which will in turn prevent erosion, provide food and shelter for wildlife, and provide the local community with the makings of traditional medicines, tequila, food for cattle, fibers for clothing, and more.
- Housatonic Valley Association partnered on a survey to check stormwater pipes that discharge into the Housatonic River in Pittsfield, MA. Survey crews found harmful E. coli bacteria in many pipes and were able to log results and geo-tagged photos while in the field using a new smartphone app. The survey will be used to discuss how to further diagnose and remedy infrastructure problems that may be causing the release of bacteria into the Housatonic River.
- The Anacostia Watershed Society installed new docks, completed bike trails, restored 12 acres of wetlands, and cultivated 10 acres of riverside greenspace on the Anacostia River Trails.
- Ohio Wildlife Center served 12,500 callers through their Wildlife InfoLine, released 1,684 animals back to the wild, and treated 4,525 animals from 143 species. They also educated 16,286 Ohioans through day camps, education programs in the community, and visits to the Center.
- The Alliance for the Great Lakes helped assess progress on a commitment made by the governments of Ohio, Michigan, and Ontario to reduce phosphorus pollution in Lake Erie by 40% by 2025. They reviewed legislation, regulations, and policy in each jurisdiction and released their findings in an original report, Rescuing Lake Eerie: An Assessment of Progress.
Despite our progress, we’re now facing a turbulent time for the environment. Threats and challenges to environmental health – and therefore our own health and future – have never been more evident. But with your participation, we can build a thriving future for all inhabitants of our beautiful planet. Thank you!
8 Eco-Friendly Renovation Tips
Maybe you don't want a forest-green home, but you can still keep the environment in mind when you decide to renovate. Follow these tips to ensure an energy efficient and non-toxic home improvement project.
- Think before adding square footage. According to This Old House, "adding unnecessary square footage doesn't just result in the excessive use and disposal of building materials—you also have to factor in the extra heating, air-conditioning, electricity, and furniture you'll need to service the living space."
- Get an an energy audit. A home improvement project is a great time to learn where you might improve your home's energy efficiency. Visit Angie's List or Yelp to find a highly-rated professional energy auditor near you. They can offer great tips to save on your energy bills.
- Find a LEED-certified contractor. The US Green Building Council (USGBC) trains professionals on the latest green building practices. Find a LEED-certified contractor at the USGBC website.
- Choose non-toxic paint. Look for low-VOC and Green Seal certified paints avoid the most dangerous solvents. Most companies now offer low-VOC options.
- Dispose safely. Never pour thinners, solvents or paint down the drain or storm drain. Put them in tight-fitting jars or cans and have them picked up or delivered to a certified hazardous waste disposal site.
- Use locally-sourced, recycled/salvaged and sustainable materials. According to Freshhome, "antique shops and consignment shops are great places to visit for items such as doorknobs, light fixtures and even mantels." Look for salvaged wood and other materials on Craigslist, salvage yards, and even demolition sites (get permission first, of course).
- Choose energy-efficient appliances. Look for the "Energy Star" label on appliances like dishwashers and refrigerators and visit the Energy Star website to learn more.
- Donate. Consider donating excess renovation materials to a local theater group, parks department, school, or organization, or take it to a community exchange. Many towns have “drop and swaps” once or twice a year.
NYC Students Tell City to Ban Toxic Pesticides
Adapted from a post by EarthShare member Beyond Pesticides
New York City passed a pesticide reduction policy in 2005, but the law has not done enough to stop the use of toxic chemicals like glyphosate (Roundup) that endanger human health.
In 2014, NYC Public School teacher Paula Rogovin’s kindergarten class at PS 290, after learning about the dangers of chemical pesticides, wrote their Councilmember Ben Kallos, asking him to “Make a Law!” and stop the use of harmful insecticides and herbicides in city parks and public spaces. And Councilmember Kallos did just that by introducing a bill called “Intro 800” in 2015.
However, that law still needs support to pass through the NYC Committee on Health, so Rogovin’s class took action in October and performed a skit in front of the committee.
“We’re going to make a great big fuss,” said the children, who showed up with chants and signs. Student Jesse Balsam summed up the core importance of Intro 800. “I think this is a good law that should pass, because pesticides are bad for people,” the student told CBS New York.
The current law encourages city agencies to use less toxic products in and around structures and green spaces owned by the city. The law also requires the city to record and report their pesticide use.
Intro 800 would go even further, limiting the use of pesticides on New York City property to only biological-based pesticides. New York City has been using more of the weedkiller glyphosate (Roundup) in recent years and the kids want it to stop.
“The World Health Organization found that [glyphosate] was a carcinogen, so we introduced legislation right away,” Councilmember Kallos said in an interview with CBS New York.
Glyphosate comprises over 50% of pesticide use by city agencies. In 2016, glyphosate was applied over 1,000 times by the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation.
Beyond Pesticides provided testimony in support of Intro 800, and suggested some amendments that would provide additional tools for landscapers to achieve goals in NYC parks without sacrificing public health.
Items on Beyond Pesticides’ Organic Compatible Product List, for example, are approved by the independent stakeholder National Organic Standards Board and are reviewed for their safety for organic lawn care.
Intro 800 is critical to the protection of community health, particularly children, elderly, and vulnerable population groups that suffer from compromised immune and neurological systems, cancer, reproductive problems, respiratory illness and asthma, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and learning disabilities.
Councilmember Kallos told CBS New York that he hopes to pass the legislation by year end. If you live in NYC and would like to show your support to your City Councilmember and urge them to pass Intro 800, go here to send them a letter, and consider following up with a phone call.
And for more information on the hazards of glyphosate use and how you can take action in your own community, visit Beyond Pesticides.