WBEZ | EcoMyths http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en EcoMyths: How Botanic Gardens Fight Climate Change http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths/ecomyths-how-botanic-gardens-fight-climate-change-114735 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/EcoMyths-Botanic Gardens.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">Kate Sackman of <a href="http://www.ecomyths.org">EcoMyths Alliance</a>, believes that with increased global focus on slowing Climate Change and creating sustainable livelihoods, more people seeki to understand these problems and how to solve them. For our&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths"><em>EcoMyths</em></a> segment, Sackman joins us with Dr. Paul Smith, secretary general of Botanic Gardens Conservation International <a href="http://www.bgci.org/">(BGCI)</a> and former head of the Kew Millennium Seed Bank. They&rsquo;ll tell us why they think that botanic gardens, like our own <a href="http://www.chicagobotanic.org/">Chicago Botanic Garden</a>, are the key to finding these global solutions.<iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/244061145&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.656;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-b0d9c5e0-b33a-fdb7-55cb-f26bb77dfd92"><span style="font-size: 14.6667px; font-family: Arial; font-weight: 700; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Botanic Garden Basics</span></span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.656;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-b0d9c5e0-b33a-fdb7-55cb-f26bb77dfd92"><span style="font-size: 14.6667px; font-family: Arial; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Modern botanic gardens started in the 16</span><span style="font-size: 8.8px; font-family: Arial; vertical-align: super; white-space: pre-wrap;">th</span><span style="font-size: 14.6667px; font-family: Arial; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> and 17</span><span style="font-size: 8.8px; font-family: Arial; vertical-align: super; white-space: pre-wrap;">th</span><span style="font-size: 14.6667px; font-family: Arial; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> centuries in Europe for the purpose of growing plants with economic value, including forestry and agriculture, the &ldquo;economic botany&rdquo; era. This was followed historically by a period of data collection, and the naming and classification of plants &ndash; Paul calls this the &ldquo;taxonomic era&rdquo;. He asserts that we are now in the era of applying global solutions using all this data.</span></span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.656;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.656;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-b0d9c5e0-b33a-fdb7-55cb-f26bb77dfd92"><span style="font-size: 14.6667px; font-family: Arial; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">What is a Botanic Garden: &nbsp;The internationally accepted definition of a botanic garden is &nbsp;one that scientifically documents their plant collections and is open to the public. &nbsp;Key to this is the garden&rsquo;s scientific basis for how plants are cultivated, monitored, documented, and the information that the garden shares with its public visitors and the botanic garden community at large If a garden simply displays beautiful flowers it is not considered a botanic garden, although it may be a &ldquo;public garden&rdquo;. The full definition is provided on the attached document.</span></span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.656;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.656;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-b0d9c5e0-b33a-fdb7-55cb-f26bb77dfd92"><span style="font-size: 14.6667px; font-family: Arial; font-weight: 700; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Why Botanic Gardens Matter: International Impact</span></span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.656;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-b0d9c5e0-b33a-fdb7-55cb-f26bb77dfd92"><span style="font-size: 14.6667px; font-family: Arial; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Botanic gardens deal with all plant diversity, both in the wild and cultivated. Botanic gardens within North America and globally are generally very supportive of one another. &nbsp;Collectively we have a lot to accomplish to help save the world&rsquo;s plants, as at least one-third of known plants are believed to be at risk of extinction over the next twenty to thirty years. &nbsp;It is critical to prevent plant extinctions on this scale not only to prevent the extinction of animals that rely on threatened habitats, but in order to preserve the natural world that humans love and upon which we all rely for our everyday needs.</span></span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.656;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.656;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-b0d9c5e0-b33a-fdb7-55cb-f26bb77dfd92"><span style="font-size: 14.6667px; font-family: Arial; font-weight: 700; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">The Adventurous Side</span></span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.656;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-b0d9c5e0-b33a-fdb7-55cb-f26bb77dfd92"><span style="font-size: 14.6667px; font-family: Arial; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Climate change, food security, and sustainable livelihoods are just a few of the critical global issues that botanic garden work impacts directly. Plant scientists work all around the world, collecting and preserving new species, studying threatened species in the wild, and restoring degraded natural areas. &nbsp;They are explorers and adventurers, often working in dangerous and remote places. Botanists and others who work with plants in the lab and in the wild are deeply devoted to their work and passionate about making an impact.</span></span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.656;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.656;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-b0d9c5e0-b33a-fdb7-55cb-f26bb77dfd92"><span style="font-size: 14.6667px; font-family: Arial; font-weight: 700; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Crop Wild Relatives</span></span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.656;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-b0d9c5e0-b33a-fdb7-55cb-f26bb77dfd92"><span style="font-size: 14.6667px; font-family: Arial; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">All plants that are grown for food are derived from a wild source. &nbsp;These wild plants, called &ldquo;crop wild relatives&rdquo;, need to be protected in their original habitat in order to serve as a backstop in case their cultivated cousins are threatened or wiped out by disease, pests, or other calamity. Royal Botanic Gardens Kew has estimated the present value of these crop relatives in the wild to be $42 billion. &nbsp;Clearly, we need to ensure the resilience of these plants in their native habitats if we want to maintain food security into our ever more populated future.</span></span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.656;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.656;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-b0d9c5e0-b33a-fdb7-55cb-f26bb77dfd92"><span style="font-size: 14.6667px; font-family: Arial; font-weight: 700; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">One (2) Green Thing(s)</span></span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.656;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-b0d9c5e0-b33a-fdb7-55cb-f26bb77dfd92"><span style="font-size: 14.6667px; font-family: Arial; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Grow something new and unusual in your home garden or on your terrace, such as heritage vegetable varieties.</span></span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.656;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-b0d9c5e0-b33a-fdb7-55cb-f26bb77dfd92"><span style="font-size: 14.6667px; font-family: Arial; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">And visit your local botanic garden with new eyes &ndash; exploring how their scientific knowledge is helping to solve global challenges!</span></span></p></p> Tue, 26 Jan 2016 09:21:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths/ecomyths-how-botanic-gardens-fight-climate-change-114735 EcoMyths: Is food waste unavoidable? http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths/ecomyths-food-waste-unavoidable-114733 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/EcoMyths-Food Waste.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><span id="docs-internal-guid-18a50c70-b330-4871-eb84-f9e164e24238">According to the Worldwatch Institute research, Americans waste three times more food between Thanksgiving and New Year&rsquo;s than the rest of the year. Globally, we waste one-third of all food produced for us to eat (1.3 billion tons), according to the UN&rsquo;s Food and Agriculture Organization. For our </span><a href="http://ecomyths.org/"><em>EcoMyths</em></a> segment, Kate Sackman of EcoMyths Alliance joins us with Dr. Barbara Willard of DePaul University, to bust the myth that large holiday food bills and waste are inevitable.<iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/233666594&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-18a50c70-b32c-b0c3-eb4b-67a9a5afbe22">People spend more on groceries during the holidays, ostensibly because we expect to eat more. But, MYTH BUSTED: Turns out we&#39;re not even eating a huge chunk of that food.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><strong><span id="docs-internal-guid-18a50c70-b32c-b0c3-eb4b-67a9a5afbe22">FOOD WASTE TRENDS</span></strong></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-18a50c70-b32c-b0c3-eb4b-67a9a5afbe22">&middot;</span> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;U.S.: According to the Environmental Protection Agency, food scraps make up 20 percent of our landfills, and each year Americans toss 35 million tons of<a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/11/17/364172105/to-end-food-waste-change-needs-to-begin-at-home"> uneaten groceries</a>. That&#39;s nearly enough to feed the population of California. Good news: new national goal is to cut waste by<a href="http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?contentid=2015/09/0257.xml"> 50% by 2030</a>*</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-18a50c70-b32c-b0c3-eb4b-67a9a5afbe22">&middot;</span> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;GLOBAL: Food waste may seem like a uniquely American problem, but it&#39;s not. Barb can discuss examples of waste in France and the UK&mdash;and what steps those countries are taking to mitigate, such as: UK grocery chains&#39; recent success in slashing<a href="http://www.edie.net/news/5/Supermarkets-slash-food-waste-by-20-000-tonnes/"> 20,000 tonnes</a> of food waste* AND France&#39;s efforts (<a href="http://www.foodnavigator.com/Policy/France-s-food-waste-law-scrapped-on-a-technicality">thwarted, for now</a>) to require chain grocers to donate edible food to charity for human or animal consumption*.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-18a50c70-b32c-b0c3-eb4b-67a9a5afbe22">These steps are important because there are major&hellip;</span></p><p dir="ltr">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr"><strong><span id="docs-internal-guid-18a50c70-b32c-b0c3-eb4b-67a9a5afbe22">ENVIRO AND ECONOMIC FOOD WASTE IMPLICATIONS</span></strong></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-18a50c70-b32c-b0c3-eb4b-67a9a5afbe22">&middot;</span> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;Environmental issues:</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-18a50c70-b32c-b0c3-eb4b-67a9a5afbe22">o</span> &nbsp;&nbsp;Methane is most pressing/straightforward impact: In the U.S., organic waste is the<a href="http://www3.epa.gov/region9/waste/features/foodtoenergy/food-waste.html"> second highest component</a> of municipal solid waste sent to landfills, which are the<a href="http://www3.epa.gov/climatechange/ghgemissions/gases/ch4.html"> third largest source of methane emissions</a> à increasing green gas emissions in vain.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-18a50c70-b32c-b0c3-eb4b-67a9a5afbe22">o</span> &nbsp;&nbsp;Wasted resources used in production include land, water, energy and inputs. &quot;Generally, lower losses are associated with higher efficiency in the food supply, and eventually with more effective recycling of resources, lower storage needs, shorter transport distances, and less energy use,&quot; according to the<a href="http://www.fao.org/3/a-i4068e.pdf"> FAO</a>.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-18a50c70-b32c-b0c3-eb4b-67a9a5afbe22">&middot;</span> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;Economic issues: Individual spending money on food we don&#39;t eat simply doesn&#39;t help anyone&#39;s personal budget. And globally, the value of that food waste is estimated at US $1 trillion, according to the FAO.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-18a50c70-b32c-b0c3-eb4b-67a9a5afbe22">&middot;</span> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;Societal issues: We won&#39;t get into this, but certainly worth mentioning that 925 million people do not have enough to eat - more than the combined populations of USA, Canada and the European Union, according to the<a href="http://www.un.org/en/globalissues/briefingpapers/food/vitalstats.shtml"> UN</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr"><strong><span id="docs-internal-guid-18a50c70-b32c-b0c3-eb4b-67a9a5afbe22">HOW TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE</span></strong></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-18a50c70-b32c-b0c3-eb4b-67a9a5afbe22">*Policy progress</span> is listed above. Depending on the natural flow of the segment, they can be mentioned in either place.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-18a50c70-b32c-b0c3-eb4b-67a9a5afbe22">How to help at home?</span> Both the<a href="http://www.fao.org/news/story/en/item/196377/icode/"> FAO</a> and the<a href="http://www2.epa.gov/recycle/reducing-wasted-food-basics"> EPA</a> list meal-planning as their first reco for individuals looking to reduce household food waste. Other ways to curb waste include buying &quot;ugly&quot; produce, using your leftovers, and freezing surplus ingredients.</p><p dir="ltr">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr"><strong><span id="docs-internal-guid-18a50c70-b32c-b0c3-eb4b-67a9a5afbe22">ONE GREEN THING</span></strong></p><p dir="ltr">Save money AND GHG emissions by planning your meals during the holidays (and all year round, too).</p></p> Wed, 18 Nov 2015 09:09:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths/ecomyths-food-waste-unavoidable-114733 EcoMyths: Nutrients pollution in the Great Lakes http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths/ecomyths-nutrients-pollution-great-lakes-114729 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/EcoMyths-Great Lakes.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-d1bb12dd-b31c-386c-48e6-c8cbc3807f42">Our relatively &ldquo;clean&rdquo; drinking water in the U.S. leads many to believe that the best place to clean our water may be at the local treatment plant. But EcoMyths Alliance says that may not be the case and that this year has seen &ldquo;a sea change in how we understand and begin to better address nutrient pollution in the Great Lakes.&rdquo; Kate Sackman from <a href="http://ecomyths.org/">EcoMyths Alliance</a> will talk about what she calls the &nbsp;&ldquo;war on nutrient pollution&rdquo; with Joel Brammeier, executive director at <a href="http://www.greatlakes.org/">Alliance for the Great Lakes</a> and Paul Botts, executive director of <a href="http://www.wetlands-initiative.org/">The Wetlands Initiative</a>.</span></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/230364493&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe>This year has seen a sea change in how we understand and begin to better address <a href="http://www2.epa.gov/nutrientpollution">nutrient pollution</a> in the Great Lakes. We&#39;ll discuss the new updates in the war on nutrient pollution, beginning with the basics of the problem and then exploring unfolding solutions&mdash;from two complementary perspectives.</p><p><strong>Outcome: </strong>Busted. The most effective place to stop nutrient pollution is to stop it before it goes off the farmland in the first place. Anything else is like a band-aid.</p><p><strong>Nutrient Pollution 101</strong></p><p>Huge swaths of the Gulf of Mexico and the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River system are choked with nutrient pollution, that is: over-abundance of nitrogen and phosphorus in water is creating anoxic conditions</p><p>Why? Factories they may <em>look</em> like the polluters, (ie ,those smokestacks in Gary), but today agricultural runoff is #1 source, at least in the Midwest/Farm Belt. &quot;Agricultural nutrient pollution is arguably the biggest water-quality issue of our time and place,&quot; says Botts. We&#39;re growing more food than ever, plus more effective fertilizer and field tiling means more nutrients running off into water, without strong requirements from the Clean Water Act to keep it in check.</p><p>Problems of this are becoming more evident, from public health to economic to environmental. Many Great Lakes residents all too familiar with notices of water that&#39;s unsafe to swim in or even drink, and fishing and tourism industries have taken a hit.</p><p>Impact is local&mdash;and beyond. Midwestern agricultural nutrient pollution runs two different ways, with huge but differing impacts through the Great Lakes system and Mississippi River basin.</p><p><strong>&quot;Sea Change&quot; in last year</strong></p><p>Big algal blooms in last year around the region, including S. Illinois, when people were being told not to go in the water, and of course Toledo&#39;s infamous drinking water disaster last summer, continue to make headlines.</p><p><u>The good news</u> is farmers are listening, and TWI has noted a sea change in their interest in helping, as well as public interest in the topic. Toledo/Pelee Island was a wake-up call, as was a recent lawsuit in Des Moines against some of the farm communities.</p><p>&middot;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Rising costs for cities to treat polluted water: evidenced by Des Moines lawsuit against rural farms</p><p>&middot;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Toledo/Pelee Island water crisis last summer</p><p>&middot;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Ontario, MI and OH <a href="http://windsorstar.com/uncategorized/ontario-michigan-and-ohio-pledge-40-phosphorus-cut-to-reduce-algal-blooms">pledged to cut phosphorus by 40%.</a></p><p>&middot;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; More visible pollution, such as the massive algal bloom seen this summer in Southern Illinois</p><p><strong>The sensitive topic of farmers: A note</strong></p><p>Farms are causing this, but as Botts says, but they also don&#39;t want to be the villains. They consider themselves stewards of the land. Challenges they face are: it&#39;s expensive to change, it&#39;s risky to change, and, often, the problems seem so far they may simply not connect their practices to the pollution problems further downstream.</p><p>For example, Illinois, Iowa and Indiana are numbers 1, 2 and 3 as sources of the excessive nutrients flowing out of the mouth of the Mississippi to create a <a href="http://ecomyths.org/2009/07/01/what-happens-and-pollutes-in-chicago-stays-in-chicago/">Dead Zone</a>. Meanwhile in W. Lake Erie, the polluting farms are as much as 200 miles away from the people in Toledo being affected by the drinking water crisis.</p><p><strong>Solutions</strong></p><p>Millions of tons of pollutants won&#39;t clean themselves up. We have to stop it at the source&mdash;which in this region&#39;s case, means stopping it at the farm through a suite of tactics that can include:</p><ul><li>Wetland development &ndash; with the right landscape, other factors (eg: TWI&#39;s constructed wetland time-lapse <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GoHvnTtouEg&amp;feature=youtu.be">video</a>)</li><li>Buffer strips</li><li>Smart fertilization&hellip;ie, how, how much and when you apply</li><li>Regionally apt solutions, eg, Ohio banned the spreading of the manure on frozen ground</li><li>Federal and state policy, such as A4GL-supported 40% bill</li><li>Public and private partnerships, such as TWI and farm-growers</li></ul><p><strong>One Green Thing</strong></p><p>Explore your local river.</p><p>Joel: just getting in a canoe &ndash; in a creek downstate is an act of support for clean water. Paul can reco tributaries if desired!</p></p> Tue, 27 Oct 2015 09:48:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths/ecomyths-nutrients-pollution-great-lakes-114729 EcoMyths: Animals speak with accents too! http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths/ecomyths-animals-speak-accents-too-113162 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/EcoMyths-Whales.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><span id="docs-internal-guid-c5a7af8c-29d7-b539-15df-81fa9f3b70fb">Animal communication has been observed and documented for centuries, but only recently, have studies shown that we&rsquo;ve only scratched the surface of understanding this complex world of grunts, barks and howls. For our </span><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths">EcoMyths</a></em> segment, Kate Sackman and Beth Kosson of <a href="http://www.EcoMyths.org">EcoMyths Alliance</a>, will join Bill Ziegler, senior vice president of Animal Programs at <a href="https://www.czs.org/Chicago-Zoological-Society/Home.aspx">Brookfield Zoo</a>. They&rsquo;ll teach us about the noisy world of animal talk and how deciphering their languages can aid in conservation efforts.<iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/226311051&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:20px;"><em><strong>See the new EcoMyths PSA (Airing on Comcast)</strong></em></span></p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/oD01Vo_EYWQ" width="640"></iframe></p></p> Wed, 30 Sep 2015 09:33:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths/ecomyths-animals-speak-accents-too-113162 EcoMyths: You Don't Need a Car to see Nature http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths/ecomyths-you-dont-need-car-see-nature-112595 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/EcoMyths-Car to Nature.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-099f-5473-bdc3-171ceaca3dfa">Even though at times, cities and nature seem to be at odds, EcoMyths Alliance believes the two are not as disconnected as they may seem. For our EcoMyths segment, Kate Sackman will tell us why city-dwellers, with an itch to experience the wilderness, can do so without using a car. Joining her are John Cawood, education program coordinator for Openlands and Gil Penalosa, founder and board chair of 8 80 Cities.</span></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/216769748&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><strong>Myth: You Have to Drive to Nature</strong></p><p dir="ltr"><strong><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">Do You Need Four Wheels and a Steering Wheel to Get to Nature?</span></strong></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">City is often pitted against nature: Concrete jungle vs. forest or prairie. Civilization vs. wilderness. Shops and museums vs. dirt and, well, more dirt. But are cities as disconnected from nature as they seem? Must city-dwellers with an itch to experience wilderness rely on four-wheeled motorized vehicles to reach it?</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">Though many of our urban areas were built to accommodate car culture (ahem, Los Angeles), open, natural space really can be just a walk, bike, or bus ride away in cities from Chicago to Bogotá.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">To help chart the sometimes surprising points of access, we chatted with</span><a href="http://880cities.org/index.php/services/gil-s-keynote"> Gil Penalosa</a>, PhD, of Toronto-based<a href="http://880cities.org/index.php"> 8 80 Cities</a>, an organization dedicated to creating more accessible, walkable cities that are planned around people rather than cars, and<a href="http://www.openlands.org/john-cawood?page_id=32"> John Cawood</a>, M.S., of<a href="http://www.openlands.org/who-we-are"> Openlands</a>, a Chicago-based nonprofit that unites people and nature.</p><p dir="ltr">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr"><strong><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">Reality Check: You Don&#39;t Have to Go to the Grand Canyon to See Nature</span></strong></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">Let&#39;s be clear: even in cities, nature is generally not that far to begin with.</span><a href="http://www.ecomythsalliance.org/2013/05/kids-access-to-nature/"> You really can find evidence of it all around</a>, from the shady tree across the street and migratory bird swooping overhead, to the rich biodiversity that exists along the banks of many urban creeks. But what about those times when you want to get someplace more open and expansive than your own front sidewalk?</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">Thanks to thoughtful city planning and conservation efforts working to preserve and link open space, large swaths of nature often abound in and around cities. Often, it&#39;s just a matter of learning where they are&mdash;and how to take advantage of existing biking and walking trails as well as public transit to get to them.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">So, where are these urban gifts of Mama Earth? &quot;Nature isn&rsquo;t always obvious in urban areas,&quot; says Cawood. &quot;But wherever you live, there are public lands that have been set aside specifically as places for people to engage in nature &ndash; forest preserves and city parks most notably, but many community gardens and school gardens are also open to the public.&quot;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">For expansive natural landscape, he sees Chicago as a great example of a gateway. A bevvy of trails from the Chicago park system and the virtually uninterrupted 18.5 mile Lakefront Trail to the Grand Illinois trail provide picturesque space for walking, biking, sailing, investigating bugs, unicycling, what have you.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">In fact, he adds, one of the top birding locations in the country is just a brief walk away from one of the busiest intersections in the city&#39;s Uptown neighborhood. &quot;It&rsquo;s known as &#39;The Magic Hedge,&#39; a natural area at Montrose point, which happens to be a favorite stop for migrating birds along the flyway from Canada to South America&mdash;more than 320 species have been identified there!&quot;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">Examples like these bode well for city-dwellers, because boatloads of evidence indicates that</span><a href="http://www.ecomythsalliance.org/2011/12/ecomyth-getting-outside-is-fun-but-not-fundamental/"> nature is good for you</a>. So, how can we get to these local and regional treasures? Let us count the ways, via bike, foot, or transit&mdash;in Chicago and beyond.</p><p dir="ltr">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr"><strong><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">Bike or Walk It, Baby!</span></strong></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">Creating more access to nature via biking or walking is a vital part of 8 80&#39;s vision, which sees nature as essential to the wellbeing of 8-year-olds </span>and 80-year-olds alike&mdash;aka the &quot;indicator species&quot; of a community&#39;s health.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">It all starts with making it easier for people to bike or walk safely around their neighborhoods. For example, with Penalosa&#39;s help,</span><a href="http://880cities.org/images/resource/walking-cycling-arti/learning-from-bogota.pdf"> Bogotá</a> now closes over 75 miles of roads to cars every single Sunday, allowing 1.5 million people to ride their bikes throughout the city. There are also 185 miles of fully sheltered bikeways throughout the Colombian capital.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">&quot;The idea is to rethink the streets as public spaces,&quot; he says, &quot;The streets can have different uses according to the time of the day, the day of the week, of the year.&quot; From New York to San Francisco, from Paris to Toronto, cities are taking up this rallying cry in innovative new ways, closing roads, reducing speed limits, or limiting traffic to downtown.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">Copenhagen is another excellent example of a bike-friendly city, Penalosa observes. Sure, it&#39;s cold in the winter, hot in the summer, and it rains all the time. &quot;Nevertheless, 41 out of 100 trips are done on bikes. Here in the U.S., cities like Portland are also working toward becoming more walkable and bikeable.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">Do all these bike-friendly initiatives actually get you closer to expansive nature? Why, yes, they often do. A quick survey of</span><a href="https://www.google.com/maps"> Google Maps</a> shows many cities&#39; bike maps are up to date, and you can use it to zoom out to see green areas you&#39;d like to get to using bike routes.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">Plus, valuable local resources exist on a city-by-city basis. For example, the Chicago Department of Transportation updates the city&#39;s</span><a href="http://www.chicagobikes.org/pdf/chicagomap_en_combined.pdf"> bike map</a> annually, and inexpensive<a href="https://www.divvybikes.com/stations"> bike rental stations</a> are now ubiquitous throughout the city, with user-friendly bike maps and tips available via app.</p><p dir="ltr">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr"><strong><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">Transit to Trails: Next Stop, Nature!</span></strong></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">Public transportation doesn&#39;t just connect you from neighborhood to work to nightlife. In many cities, complex networks of buses and trains connect to rich nature areas in sometimes surprising ways.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">Let&#39;s take a look at Chicago, with Cawood&#39;s help. Here, public transit provides access to dozens of natural areas outside the city limits. Consider: &quot;At the Millennium Station, you can jump on the South Shore train for a day trip to Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. At Ogilvie, take the Union Pacific North train to the Fort Sheridan stop, from which the</span><a href="http://www.openlands.org/openlands-lakeshore-preserve"> Openlands Lakeshore Preserve</a>, a certified Illinois Natural area, is a 10-minute walk.&quot;</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">Wanna skip town in a bigger way? &quot;For an ambitious nature-based vacation, reserve a seat on Amtrak&rsquo;s Empire Builder train, which stops in</span><a href="https://www.google.com/maps"> Glacier National Park</a>. The Amtrak system also connects Chicago with other major transit hubs that happen to be gateways to nature as well &ndash; cities like Denver, Seattle, St. Louis, St. Paul, Flagstaff, Portland, and San Francisco. No automobile necessary!&quot;</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">Cawood&#39;s a big fan of training it to nature. &quot;On a train you can multi-task. You are shuttled from point A to point B while you sleep, work, read, watch a movie, or have a nice conversation with someone. It&rsquo;s even legal to text while you are on the train!&quot;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">California&#39;s Bay Area, is another interesting example of how public transit can connect some of the most building-bound folks out there to beautiful wilderness areas inside and just outside the city. Case in point: there&#39;s a municipal bus stop at the entrance to the expansive 2,500-acre Wildcat Canyon (pictured left-TK). Yep, just a 30-minute bus ride outta Oakland turns up an epic hike, complete with sweeping views of the bay and cities below.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">How to find said access points? In California,</span><a href="http://www.transitandtrails.org/"> Transit and Trails</a> provides detailed maps and schedules for public transportation options to outdoor recreation areas across the country. In Illinois,<a href="http://animaliaproject.org/t2t/"> Transit to Trails</a> is a project underway to make it easier to figure out which train and bus systems connect to which natural areas.</p><p dir="ltr">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr"><strong><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">Cool Reclaimed Spaces Connect Us to Nature, too</span></strong></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">Making room for bikes on trains and existing roads is important&mdash;but it&#39;s not all that&#39;s happening in the way of connecting people to nature. Cities and orgs are working to convert areas of otherwise wasted space into cool places for the community to stretch their legs and their perspectives&mdash;a notion that 8 80 dubs Hidden Assets.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">The</span><a href="http://www.thehighline.org/"> High Line</a> is a high-profile example [KATE: DO you have pics from your visit there?]. In Manhattan, this 1.45-mile stretch of abandoned elevated train tracks was converted into an aerial park, covered with colorful and sustainable<a href="http://www.thehighline.org/High_Line_Plant_List.pdf"> plants</a> and proving a hugely popular walking path.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">Reclaiming these unused train tracks is what the</span><a href="http://www.railstotrails.org/"> Rails-to-Trails Conservancy</a> program is all about, with a vision that calls for creating trails within three miles of every home in the U.S. By transforming unused rail lines into vibrant public places, the goal is to connect its current roster of 30,000 miles of rail-trails and multi-use trails to a nationwide network.</p><p dir="ltr">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr"><strong><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">Close! But There&#39;s Still Work to Do</span></strong></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">While many cities are making great progress on the march to becoming more livable communities, there are still places where it can be tougher to get someplace beautiful. For example, in LA, only a third of school kids have a park within walking distance (a quarter mile), according to the</span><a href="http://880cities.org/images/resource/park-space-arti/trust-no-place-to-play.pdf"> Trust for</a> Public Lands. That&#39;s especially dismal when you compare to other big cities, like Boston, which reaches 97 percent of the city&rsquo;s children, and NYC&#39;s 91 percent.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">&quot;We need to have nature everywhere in cities&mdash;within walking or biking distance, but also right outside your front door, in schoolyards, in city halls,&quot; says Penalosa. &quot;And when you want to go further, you should be able to use public transit.&quot;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">&quot;It&#39;s about changing habits around the built environment. How do we want to build our cities? The human population is growing quickly. According to the U.S. Census, the nation&#39;s population will grow by 100 million people in the next 35 years. That means the U.S. needs to build around 40 million homes. How are they being built? Is everyone having all their basic needs within a 10-minute walking distance or do they have to drive everywhere just because they want to buy eggs or milk? Not only do we have to improve the communities we have today, but we also need to create great communities for these millions of new people who are going to be in the same space in the next 40 years.&quot;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">In other words, while cities like Chicago and Bogota are doing a great job, and ambitious nonprofit organizations are working tirelessly to connect the dots, there is yet work to be done.</span></p><p dir="ltr">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr"><strong><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">Why Bother?</span></strong></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">The pros of improving access to nature are extensive. As we rely less on cars and more on feet and bike wheels, we&#39;ll all be healthier. We&#39;ll experience less noise and stress. Air quality will improve.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">And, as Cawood points out, as more people experience nature, more people decide it&#39;s worth their while to make eco-friendlier choices, too, whether by supporting conservation work or opting for earth-friendly products at the store.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">&quot;Environmentally, by biking or taking public transit, you are impacting social norms,&quot; Cawood explains. &quot;If you do it, your friends, family, co-workers and neighbors might be more likely to try it out. If it catches on, you&rsquo;re taking cars off the road, which conserves fossil fuels and essentially cleans the air.&quot;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">Plus, money. Penalosa says there&#39;s a potentially staggering impact on personal income for those who decide to go full throttle with car-free living. Americans today who use cars spend one out of four dollars on mobility, he comments, when we could be spending less than 4 percent if we walk, bike and take public transit instead. With AAA stats reporting average expenses for having a car tally up to about $8,500 every year, that&#39;s kinda like winning the Lottery, when you think about it&hellip;but with way better odds.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">Pretty decent perks, when you consider all you wanted was to stretch your legs and get a nice view of nature, huh?</span></p><p dir="ltr">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr"><strong><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">Myth Outcome: Myth partially busted</span></strong></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">In many cities, you don&#39;t need a car to get to nature&mdash;you just need your feet, a bike, or ticket to ride public transit</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">Still, there are many ways we could improve access and provide better connecting points to places both within city limits and further afoot.</span></p><p dir="ltr">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr"><strong><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">One Green Thing</span>:</strong></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">Ride your bike to a pretty nature spot this weekend. (Hint: Try using Google Maps or</span><a href="http://www.traillink.com/"> Trail Link</a> to identify the route.)</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">But wait, there&#39;s more, says Penalosa! &quot;Some people may say, &#39;oh I don&#39;t care about environment or health&hellip;What&#39;s in it for me?&#39;&quot; A potentially staggering impact on personal income, for one thing. Americans today who use cars spend one out of four dollars on mobility, he comments, when we could be spending less than 4 percent if we instead walk, bike and take public transit.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">What would we do with all that cash if we weren&#39;t spending it </span>every single year on transportation? His suggestions: We could spend it on education, or special experiences with our family&mdash;and that can in turn help boost the local economy, as we spend money on things like going out to eat or improving our gardens instead of on cars built in some far-off locale.</p><p dir="ltr">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr"><strong><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">RESOURCES</span></strong></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">&middot;</span> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;<a href="http://http://www.railstotrails.org/">Rails to Trails Conservancy</a></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">&middot;</span> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;<a href="http://www.traillink.com/">&nbsp;http://www.traillink.com/</a></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">&middot;</span> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;<a href="http://www.thenatureofcities.com/2014/10/05/do-urban-green-corridors-work-it-depends-on-what-we-want-them-to-do-what-ecological-andor-social-functions-can-we-realistically-expect-green-corridors-to-perform-in-cities-what-attributes-defi/">&nbsp;http://www.thenatureofcities.com/2014/10/05/do-urban-green-corridors-work-it-depends-on-what-we-want-them-to-do-what-ecological-andor-social-functions-can-we-realistically-expect-green-corridors-to-perform-in-cities-what-attributes-defi/</a></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">&middot;</span> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;<a href="http://activetrans.org/sites/files/Active_Trans_Chicago_Bike_Monitoring_Report_2014.pdf">&nbsp;http://activetrans.org/sites/files/Active_Trans_Chicago_Bike_Monitoring_Report_2014.pdf</a></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">&middot;</span> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;<a href="https://www.divvybikes.com/">&nbsp;https://www.divvybikes.com/</a></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">&middot;</span> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;<a href="http://www.openlands.org/eco-explorations">Eco-Explorations</a> program and the new<a href="http://www.openlands.org/birds-in-my-neighborhood"> Birds in my Neighborhood</a></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">&middot;</span> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;<a href="http://chicagowilderness.org/CW_Archives/issues/summer2007/transit.html">&nbsp;http://chicagowilderness.org/CW_Archives/issues/summer2007/transit.html</a></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">&middot;</span>&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;2006<a href="http://880cities.org/images/resource/park-space-arti/trust-health-benefits-parks.pdf"> report</a> by the Trust for Public Land</p></p> Tue, 28 Jul 2015 10:21:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths/ecomyths-you-dont-need-car-see-nature-112595 EcoMyths: Composting Doesn’t Have to Smell http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths/ecomyths-composting-doesn%E2%80%99t-have-smell-112594 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/EcoMyths-Composting.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Many shy away from composting because they have images of rotting food, scavenging animals and neighbors complaining about the smell. But EcoMyths Alliance wants you to know that composting can be odorless. Kate Sackman of EcoMyths and composting enthusiast, Jerome McDonnell, talk with Eliza Fournier of Chicago Botanic Garden. Fournier says, &quot;It only stinks if you&#39;re not going at it right.&quot;</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/212692927&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><span style="font-size:18px;"><strong>Myth: Composting Stinks!</strong></span></p><p><strong>&quot;Hold Your Nose!&quot;&mdash;Said No Real-Life Composter We Talked To, Ever</strong> <strong>Composters: They&#39;re just like us!</strong></p><p>Mine doesn&#39;t smell at all! I think the trick is plenty of dried matter (leaves in my case) and aerating it well. This is first time with my own composter and I&#39;m very happy so far!</p><p><em>~ Corina McKendry, Colorado</em></p><p>Every nose has its own unique point of smell&mdash;but all are likely to turn themselves up at the smell of rotting trash. Why then would we assault our nasal passages by composting, aka, piling up a bunch of food and plant waste with the express goal of, gasp, <em>purposefully</em> <em>letting it rot</em>?</p><p>Answering the why is easy: For one thing, that pile of decomposed organic waste turns nutrient-rich food waste back into food for the garden, and, by reducing food waste headed to landfill, takes some heat off the earth&#39;s atmosphere by reducing methane emissions.</p><p>But before we get into a full-blown love song about composting, it&#39;s time to set the record straight about the stink.</p><p>&quot;It only stinks if you&#39;re not going at it right,&quot; says Eliza Fournier of the<a href="http://www.chicagobotanic.org/urbanagriculture/youthfarm/staff"> Chicago Botanic Garden</a>. &quot;After people read this article, they will do it right. Therefore composting doesn&#39;t smell!&quot;</p><p>As the leader of the Garden&#39;s Windy City Harvest<a href="http://www.chicagobotanic.org/urbanagriculture/youthfarm"> Youth Farm</a> program, Fournier would know if composting nose-plugs were a common request (they&#39;re not). She oversees the sites, which provide urban farming jobs to youth in food desert communities, giving them hands-on experience in the gardens&mdash;and in the compost piles around them, too.</p><p>The feds back up the case against the need for nose-plugging, too, proclaiming on the<a href="http://www2.epa.gov/recycle/composting-home"> EPA</a> website that a properly managed compost bin &quot;will not smell bad.&quot;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>COMPOSTERS: They&#39;re just like us!</strong></p><p>We compost and it does not stink at all. I&#39;m always learning when I open the lid, but I&#39;ve been doing it for four years and no bad smells yet!</p><p><em>~ Becky Staton, Chicago, IL</em></p><p>Still, because every aforementioned nose is indeed different, we also turned to<a href="https://www.facebook.com/ecomyths"> Facebook</a> for some first-hand accounts. Does your composting stink, we asked you? No! Was the resounding answer. (For more of what these real-life, non-professional composters said, check out the IRL stories sprinkled throughout this article.)</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Smells Like&hellip;It&#39;s Easy to Bench the Stench</strong></p><p>Healthy compost is easy to maintain, explains Fournier. &quot;It&#39;s like making a parfait,&quot; except you&#39;re layering in nitrogen, carbon, air, and water.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><u>Fournier&#39;s Recipe (aka, Plain Ol&#39; Compost)</u></p><p><em>Ingredients:</em></p><p>&middot; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;Greens, including fruit and veggie scraps, coffee grounds, and fresh grass clippings bring in the nitrogen</p><p>&middot; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;Browns like dried leaves, twigs, straw, and pine needles serve up carbon</p><p>&middot; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;Heat, water, air</p><p>&middot; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;Optional: Top soil for a little dose of tiny, hungry arthropods to help accelerate decomposition</p><p>&middot; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;<strong>SKIP</strong>: Meat, fish, and dairy. Those are the most common culprits in smelly piles.</p><p><em>* Note: </em>Quantities are irrelevant in this easy-does-it recipe.</p><p><em>Directions:</em></p><p>1. &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;Alternate greens and browns of different sizes.</p><p>2. &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;Add in water when the pile seems dry.</p><p>3. &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;Stir every couple of weeks to add air.</p><p>4. &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;Sit back, watch, and maintain balance!</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>COMPOSTERS: They&#39;re just like us!</strong></p><p>At our new house they pick it up at the curb. We keep a small bin in the kitchen&mdash;it&#39;s small enough that it doesn&#39;t get too full before we have to take it to the compost can outside, which limits the smell in the kitchen. And really, if the food waste wasn&#39;t going in the compost bin, it would be going in the trashcan right next to it in the kitchen, so the smells would be there all the same.</p><p><em>~ Tiffany Plate, Boulder, CO</em></p><p>&quot;It&#39;s almost like having a pet,&quot; muses Fournier. &quot;If your pet is looking lethargic, or panting a lot, he probably needs some water. <em>Oh, he smells a little? Maybe he needs a bath</em>&hellip;</p><p>&quot;With composting, you start to do the same. It looks depleted? Give it some food. It&#39;s a little crunchy? Give it water. Too wet? Hold the water!&quot;</p><p>Like plants, pets, anything you care for, it&#39;s natural to want to observe it, and as you do, you&#39;ll be able to diagnose any issues pretty quickly.</p><p>Still, you don&#39;t need to be &quot;super precious&quot; about your compost, she says. &quot;The most important thing is balance. Everything in moderation in terms of greens, browns, soil, water, and air&mdash;not too much of any one thing.&quot;</p><p>So, let&#39;s say you strike out big time in terms of balance and somehow, against all odds&hellip;compost does stink?</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>COMPOSTERS: They&#39;re just like us!</strong></p><p>We&#39;ve been composting daily for nearly three years and it NEVER stinks. But you know what does stink? Regular trash.</p><p>We had a situation with an out-of-towner who was confused and just tossed everything in the trash. We came home and thought there was a dead fish in our house. We finally figured out that his habits (just tossing whatever in the garbage) was what was causing our entire house to smell. Just a few adjusted habits and it&#39;s been easy-peasy. I love compost.</p><p><em>~ Kristin Urquiza, San Francisco, CA</em></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Never fear! Fournier says even if stink happens, you can stop it pretty quickly. &quot;Usually it starts smelling is if it has too many greens or is too wet. The way you deal with that is to add more browns to counter-act greens, stop watering, and get some air circulation in there.&quot; Not enough dried leaves around this time of year? No worries. Add non-glossy paper or cardboard.</p><p>As for the inside portion of the affair, just keep scraps in a lidded container and take &#39;em out every day. Apartment dwellers can try worm bins, aka<a href="http://compost.css.cornell.edu/worms/basics.html"> vermicomposting</a> systems, which are also non-stinky, and in Fournier&#39;s opinion, even easier than composting proper.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Hook, Line and Non-Stinker: Composting FTW</strong></p><p>Okay, so composting doesn&#39;t stink. But that&#39;s not the only thing it has going in its favor. We can all help reduce food waste, improve our gardens and selves, and even combat climate change, simply by returning our food scraps to the earth in an awesome way.</p><p>How awesome? Let&#39;s count the ways:</p><p style="margin-left:39pt;">&middot; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;<em>Beating food waste</em>: According to the<a href="http://www2.epa.gov/recycle/composting-home"> EPA</a>, food scraps and yard waste make up 20-30 percent of our nation&#39;s trash. In 2013, we threw away more than 35 million tons of food waste, roughly 95 percent of which ended up in landfills or combustion facilities. You don&#39;t need to watch a sad infomercial about world hunger to know that making the most of food is a good thing.</p><p style="margin-left:39pt;">&middot; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;<em>Combatting climate change: </em>All that soil-friendly food waste we trash not only takes up space in the landfill, it also becomes a significant source of<a href="http://epa.gov/climatechange/ghgemissions/gases/ch4.html"> methane</a>, one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gases, and therefore a big bad wolf in global warming.</p><p style="margin-left:39pt;">&middot; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;<em>Souping up gardens, on the cheap</em>: Compost improves soil health and structure, suppressing plant diseases and pests, and supporting water retention to reduce the need for extra water and fertilizers. It&#39;s also great for city-dwellers whose soil may need extra love when it comes to nitrogen composition in the soil, adds Fournier. Oh, and it&#39;s free.</p><p style="margin-left:39pt;">&middot; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;<em>Feel-good fun!: </em>How cool that you can not only waste less food, but you can also have more reason to get outside, asks Fournier. Plus, she enthuses, turning your compost pile is a great workout. &quot;It&#39;s great for your core&mdash;those little muscles on your side!&quot; It&#39;s also just plain interesting, like a little science experiment right in your backyard.</p><p>To make sure we covered all our bases in terms of potential stinkage and likely benefits, we also turned to a real life farmer.</p><p>&quot;Your pile won&#39;t stink,&quot; confirms Audra Lewicki of<a href="http://dirtdoll.tumblr.com/"> Dirt Doll</a> in Chicago, an urban farm in Chicago, &quot;as long as you&#39;ve got a good mix of greens and browns, water, and air. It&#39;s important for us to compost because we get to put all those nutrients back into the soil <em>and</em> avoid using up precious fossil fuels to haul them to a landfill. It kills me to think of our nutrient-rich turnip tops and dandelion greens sitting under heaps of plastic bags for decades in a landfill.&quot;</p><p>Good point, Dirt Doll. We can all take a deep breath and help save the world, one non-smelly, composted food scrap at a time.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size:18px;"><strong>Myth Outcome: Busted</strong></span></p><p>Composting doesn&#39;t stink&mdash;if you stick to the basics. The only thing that might stink? The trash, when it&#39;s unnecessarily full of all those food scraps that could&#39;ve been composted!</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size:16px;"><strong>One Green Thing</strong></span></p><p><strong>Compost!</strong></p><p>Not sure where to start? One start by learning how much compostable food your household is currently throwing away. Not only will this will help motivate you to set up your composting system, it will also give you a sense of how big an area or system you need to set up.</p><p>Use a Tupperware (or several, depending) to store non-meat food scraps for a week. Assuming you don&#39;t already have a compost system in place, you&#39;ll want to refrigerate this so it can accumulate without stinking up the kitchen. At the end of the week, weigh the Tupperware. Measure your own Multiplier Effect by multiplying the weight by 365. It adds up!</p><p>Wanna check out composting starter items? Our composting gurus weighed in with some tips:</p><p>&middot; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;IRL composter Kristen U. recommends<a href="http://www.amazon.com/Biobag-Food-Waste-Gallon-Count/dp/B002FC6JZG/ref=sr_1_1?s=home-garden&amp;ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1434997346&amp;sr=1-1&amp;keywords=bio+bags"> this simple lidded trashcan</a> for storing food scraps in the kitchen</p><p>&middot; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;IRL composter Tiffany P. says biodegradable<a href="http://www.amazon.com/Biobag-Food-Waste-Gallon-Count/dp/B002FC6JZG/ref=sr_1_1?s=home-garden&amp;ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1434997346&amp;sr=1-1&amp;keywords=bio+bags"> BioBags</a> are great for keeping curbside containers smell-free in cities lucky enough to have composting pickup services</p><p>&middot; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;IRL composter Becky S. simply drilled some holes into a black storage bin to layer her greens and browns. (Though her dream is to have a two-compartment<a href="http://www.amazon.com/Jora-Gallon-125-Compost-Tumbler/dp/B004U7ISQ2"> tumbler</a>&hellip;)</p><p>&middot; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;Eliza F. recommends<a href="http://www.amazon.com/b?node=3753631"> buying</a> or<a href="http://my.chicagobotanic.org/horticulture/how-to/the-cadillac-of-compost-bins/"> making your own</a> three-bin compost bin system if you live in an area where an open pile would be too tempting for wildlife to resist.</p><p>When you know more about how big a system you need, you&#39;re ready to advance to the next level: read the quick how-to on setting up a compost pile, courtesy of the<a href="http://www.chicagobotanic.org/sites/default/files/pdf/plantinfo/compost.pdf"> Chicago Botanic Garden guide</a>.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>The Multiplier Effect</strong></p><p>The average U.S. citizen generates<a href="http://www.epa.gov/solidwaste/nonhaz/municipal/"> 4.4 pounds</a> of waste a day, roughly two thirds of which is compostable, according to<a href="https://center.sustainability.duke.edu/resources/green-facts-consumers/how-much-do-we-waste-daily"> Duke University&#39;s Center for Sustainablity &amp; Commerce</a>. That means each of us who starts composting now could, in a single year, keep a half a ton of food waste out of landfills.</p><p><em>IRL Multiplier Effect</em>: Thanks to the waste-busting combo of composting and recycling, IRL composter Kristin U. has cut her household of two&#39;s actual garbage output down to a single 10-gallon trash bag <em>per month.</em></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Resources</strong></p><p>Learn more basics on how to compost from the Chicago Botanic Garden -<a href="http://www.chicagobotanic.org/conservation/composting"> http://www.chicagobotanic.org/conservation/composting</a></p><p><a href="https://center.sustainability.duke.edu/resources/green-facts-consumers/how-much-do-we-waste-daily">https://center.sustainability.duke.edu/resources/green-facts-consumers/how-much-do-we-waste-daily</a></p><p><a href="http://www.safebee.com/home/how-compost-without-attracting-pests">http://www.safebee.com/home/how-compost-without-attracting-pests</a></p><p>Also related myth: <a href="http://www.ecomythsalliance.org/2014/08/sink-disposals-vs-trashcans">http://www.ecomythsalliance.org/2014/08/sink-disposals-vs-trashcans</a></p></p> Tue, 30 Jun 2015 09:10:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths/ecomyths-composting-doesn%E2%80%99t-have-smell-112594 EcoMyths: 'Can we save seeds for Doomsday?' http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths/ecomyths-can-we-save-seeds-doomsday-112179 <p><p>While some seeds appear immortal, most seeds don&#39;t last forever&mdash;unless they&#39;re carefully stored in seed banks or, in some cases, preserved in liquid nitrogen or as part of living collections. This is critical because many plants are under threat of disappearing forever&mdash;about 68 percent of evaluated plant species. We&rsquo;ll do &#39;Seed Banking 101&#39; with Kate Sackman of EcoMyths Alliance, Murphy Westwood, Tree Conservation Specialist at <a href="http://www.mortonarb.org/">The Morton Arboretum</a> and Global Tree Conservation officer for Botanic Gardens Conservation International <a href="https://www.bgci.org/">(BGCI)</a> and Kayri Havens, director of Plant Science and Conservation at the Chicago Botanic Garden. She is also a hands-on seed banker in the Garden&#39;s <a href="http://www.chicagobotanic.org/research/conservation_and_restoration/seed_banking">Dixon National Tallgrass Prairie Seed Bank</a>.<iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/207340836&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><strong>Seed banking 101</strong></p><p>Seeds don&#39;t last forever. If they&#39;re not stored in precise conditions, they generally cannot be germinated at a future date. Most seeds are <strong>orthodox</strong> seeds, meaning they can be stored for longs periods of time if handled correctly. Typically they are dehydrated and frozen in seed banks like the one at Chicago Botanic Garden, which has committed to collecting 30 million seeds from 1,500 native species across the Midwest, and the <a href="http://www.kew.org/science-conservation/millennium-seed-bank">Millennium Seed Bank</a> Partnership at the Kew Gardens in London, which has stored 13 percent of the world&rsquo;s plant diversity, with close to <a href="http://www.kew.org/science-conservation/millennium-seed-bank-partnership/about-millennium-seed-bank-partnership">2 billion</a> seeds.</p><p><em>Quick basic rundown, from the CBG: </em>To bank seeds, researchers first collect them from the entirety of the species&rsquo; range. Then they&#39;re x-rayed to prevent bugs from making their way into the collection and to be sure the seed houses an embryo. They&#39;re then stored in subzero temperatures. After they&#39;ve gone in the storage jar, they&#39;ll only come out every 10 years or so, to be retested for germination potential.</p><p>&ldquo;If they are taken care of and processed correctly, seeds can live centuries in suspended animation,&rdquo; Havens explains.</p><p><strong>Some seeds cannot be banked &ndash; these are called recalcitrant seeds</strong></p><p>Many trees, from the oak to the avocado, produce seeds that for a variety of reasons cannot be stored in the same way as orthodox seeds. To preserve these, institutions like the Morton Arboretum utilize two strategies: one is a living collection, where they plant as many species as possible to ensure seeds are safe in the long haul. The other is to preserve seeds in liquid nitrogen. Because plants have <a href="http://biology.kenyon.edu/HHMI/Biol113/meristems.htm">meristem</a> cells (kind of like human stem cells), it&#39;s also possible to regenerate a plant from a liquid-nitrogen-preserved oak bud, in a process called micro-propagation or tissue culture.</p><p><strong>Why bother? </strong></p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" height="195" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/EcoMyths-Saving%20Seeds%20BLOG.jpg" style="float: right;" title="A guard armed with a rifle stands guard in Longyearbyen, Norway, outside the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, which has been described as Noah's Seed Ark and a Doomsday Vault, was dug into a mountainside in Norway's arctic Svalbard islands. It will hold 4.5 million different agricultural seed samples from around the world. (AP Photo/John McConnico)" width="356" />Because we&#39;re starting the world&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/programs/biodiversity/elements_of_biodiversity/extinction_crisis/">sixth mass extinction</a>, many plants are under threat of disappearing forever&mdash;about 68 percent of evaluated plant species, to be exact. Diseases like the <a href="http://na.fs.fed.us/fhp/ded/">Dutch Elm Disease</a>, <a href="http://www.nature.com/news/fungus-threatens-top-banana-1.14336">banana-killing fungi</a>, and insect pests like the <a href="http://na.fs.fed.us/fhp/eab/">Emerald Ash Borer</a> are also threatening plants. Species loss in turn has a direct impact on day-to-day life: a genetically <a href="http://www.nps.gov/plants/restore/pubs/restgene/1.htm">diverse seed supply</a> helps us avoid potentially losing a bunch of food crops. (Examples: the <a href="http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/agriculture_02">Potato Famine</a><u> of the 1840s</u>, the corn blight <a href="http://www.ars-grin.gov/npgs/Seeds_for_Our_Future.pdf">in the 1970&rsquo;s in the U.S</a><u>.</u>, which wiped out almost 15 percent of the nation&#39;s corn, mostly because of the genetic similarity of the corn planted.</div><p>If we don&rsquo;t preserve healthy seeds in the near term, we could be saying goodbye to lots of plants we know and love in the long run.</p><p><strong>One Green Thing</strong></p><p>Plant a fresh native tree seedling in your backyard. You&#39;ll be supporting plant diversity with your mini living collection, while scoring the host of other ecosystem benefits there are to planting trees.</p><p><strong><em>More ways to help:</em></strong></p><ul><li><em>Visit a living collection or seed bank.</em> These beautiful institutions help to ensure that future generations have the safety net of genetically diverse plants we all know and love: <a href="http://www.mortonarb.org">Morton Arboretum</a>, <a href="http://www.chicagobotanic.org">Chicago Botanic Garden</a>, <a href="http://www.montgomerybotanical.org">Montgomery Botanic Gardens</a>, and the <a href="http://www.fairchildgarden.org">Fairchild Tropical Botanic Gardens</a>, <a href="http://www.nybg.org/">New York Botanical Garden</a>, and <a href="http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/">Missouri Botanical Garden</a>.</li><li><em>Bank your own!</em> The Chicago Botanic Garden has some cool tips <a href="http://www.chicagobotanic.org/conservation/saving_seeds">here</a>.</li><li><em>Plant seeds in optimal growing conditions: </em>Every seed counts, so give the ones in your garden the best shot at life. This includes opting for native plants, which are uniquely suited to your region&#39;s climate.</li></ul></p> Tue, 26 May 2015 09:19:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths/ecomyths-can-we-save-seeds-doomsday-112179 EcoMyths: 'Am I too busy to care for Nature?' http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths/ecomyths-am-i-too-busy-care-nature-112178 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/EcoMyths-Too Busy to Care.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-469d6eaa-e435-a786-2000-ec52a15fc8cb">With our busy lives, caring for the environment can seem overwhelming, but <a href="http://www.ecomythsalliance.org/">EcoMyths Alliance</a> says that being more green takes less time and effort than you may think. For this months<a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths"><em> EcoMyths</em></a> segment, we ask two experts to help bust the myth that you&rsquo;re &ldquo;too busy to care for Nature&rdquo;. Kevin Ogorzalek of the <a href="http://www.humansandnature.org/">Center for Humans and Nature</a> and John Barrett with the <a href="http://http://www.brushwoodcenter.org/index.html">Brushwood Center</a> at Ryerson Woods, will tell us how doing just a little, every day, makes a huge difference.<iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/200816449&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-469d6eaa-e437-56ea-31f9-018b3cc87cfd">Most of us do actively care for nature &ndash; we just don&#39;t necessarily recognize or celebrate it. We already show we care in obvious ways, such as by volunteering at nature centers or donating to a cause, but also in smaller daily activities, like going outside to read a book in the park, or choosing a microbead-free face wash at the store.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>It&#39;s a significant sign of caring that, for example:</strong></p><p dir="ltr">&middot; Caring as a leisure activity:<a href="http://www.nps.gov/aboutus/faqs.htm"> 292 million people visited our national parks in 2014</a>, while<a href="http://www.waza.org/en/site/zoos-aquariums"> 700 million people showed curiosity about wildlife by visiting global zoos and aquariums</a></p><p dir="ltr">&middot; Caring as consumers: A 2014 survey by<a href="http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/press-room/2014/global-consumers-are-willing-to-put-their-money-where-their-heart-is.html"> Nielsen</a> found that 55 percent of global online consumers across 60 countries say they are willing to pay more for products and services provided by companies that are committed to positive social and environmental impact</p><p dir="ltr">&middot; Caring at home: Eg: the growing trend to<a href="https://www.dropbox.com/s/bqlywujwzz4sx05/NGASpecialReport-Garden-to-Table.pdf"> grow our own veggies</a> (35% of all households in America, or 42 million households, are growing food at home or in a community garden, up 17% in five years, according to National Gardening Association 2014 report); Meatless Mondays campaigns are now active in<a href="http://www.meatlessmonday.com/the-global-movement/"> 36 countries</a>; and Bicycle Friendly Communities, including Washington, DC, Philadelphia, Denver and Lexington, Ky., have more than doubled their bike commuter share since 2000, according to the<a href="http://bikeleague.org/content/bicycle-commuting-data"> League of American Bicyclists</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">The trick is overcoming busyness as usual: Being too busy for X is a sign of our times&mdash;but it only takes a second to think to yourself, &quot;if I do X or Y One Green Thing, that has an impact on the environment over time.&quot; That step-wise approach to green thinking can be tough to start, but once you get in the habit, it becomes routine.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>So What? </strong></p><p dir="ltr">Consciously caring about nature may seem insignificant, but the more we &nbsp;recognize our personal connection to nature, the more likely we are to make a positive difference.</p><p dir="ltr">&middot; Caring inspires action, conscious or not: Caring is a catalyst for behavior. For example, turning off the lights is an easy daily action that illustrates caring. It doesn&#39;t necessarily take time to integrate that with things you already do in daily life &ndash; it just takes making a conscious choice.</p><p dir="ltr">&middot; Conscious discussion can inspire movements. The transcendentalist poets in 19th century caused a ripple effect on the way our society relates to nature: Thoreau and Emerson talking about writings of nature, inspired John Muir, whose writing celebrated wilderness protection, the spaces themselves which inspired Ansel Adams, who in turn took photos that captured the country&#39;s imagination.</p><p dir="ltr">&middot; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;Going further. Turning caring into greater action can mean varying degrees of sacrifice. But caring enough to make a short-term sacrifice, like paying a little more now for renewable energy to get to the point where it actually costs less than fossil fuels has potential for greater payback than meets the eye. Turning &quot;simple actions&quot; that we used to do by rote into more meaningful actions can be a source of pride.</p><p dir="ltr">People care for nature in ways big and small in their daily lives, often without thinking about it at all&hellip;The more we can celebrate how we do care, the more we can work those conscious changes into our lives to affect even greater change.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>One Green Thing</strong></p><p dir="ltr">This Earth Day, take a moment to think about ways in which your daily actions demonstrate care for the environment.</p></p> Tue, 14 Apr 2015 09:14:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths/ecomyths-am-i-too-busy-care-nature-112178 EcoMyths: Dangers of Microplastics http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths/ecomyths-dangers-microplastics-112169 <p><p><span id="docs-internal-guid-34d00667-da74-cf3b-6a33-f532ccbde9dc">Plastic makes up 90% of the trash picked up in Trash Free Seas (TFS) ocean cleanups, according to research by Ocean Conservancy</span>. And experts says that microplastics - pieces of plastic smaller than 5 millimeters (just under a fifth of an inch) - are just as dangerous as those 2-liter bottles you might see floating in Lake Michigan or the &ldquo;Great Pacific garbage patch&rdquo;. Kate Sackman, of EcoMyths Alliance, will help us find out why these microfibers are a big hazard from Allison Schutes, manager of the TFS Program at Ocean Conservancy and Olga Lyandres, research manager at Alliance for the Great Lakes.</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/196366595&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><strong>Does Size Matter When It Comes to Plastic Pollution?</strong></p><p>&quot;Don&#39;t sweat the small stuff&quot; is a great mantra&hellip;except when you&#39;re talking about plastic pollution. Devilishly tiny plastics, a.k.a. microplastics, are adding up to one massive problem in the world&#39;s waterways - acting as a sponge for other pollutants, not to mention confusing and harming wildlife.</p><p>On this month&#39;s EcoMyths segment, we&rsquo;ll find out how and why something so small can cause such a big fuss. We brought in Olga Lyandres, research manager for the <a href="http://greatlakes.org/">Alliance for the Great Lakes</a>, and Allison Schutes, manager of the <a href="http://www.oceanconservancy.org/our-work/marine-debris/" target="_blank">Ocean Conservancy&#39;s Trash Free Seas program</a> for a tete-a-tete with Jerome McDonnell and Kate Sackman.</p><p><strong><u>Microplastics 101</u></strong></p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" height="237" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/microbeads%201.jpg" style="float: left;" title="Microbeads! (Courtesy of Alliance for the Great Lakes/Lyandres)" width="306" />First, some perspective. Before the show, Olga showed the <em>Worldview</em> team a fairly nondescript bottle of <a href="http://www.ecomythsalliance.org/2015/02/minimyth-face-scrub-isnt-made-of-plastic/">microbeads</a>. While they may look unassuming, these types of microplastics are especially insidious, because they lurk inside so many personal care products, from face scrub to toothpaste, Olga explained.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">And when you wash the teensy plastic scrubbers off your face or spit &#39;em out with your toothpaste, down the drain they go&mdash;straight to the wastewater treatment facility, which is not equipped to remove them. So on the pearly pellets go, discharging into lakes, running down into streams, floating off into oceans&hellip;and contributing to the 10-20 billion pounds of plastics estimated to enter the world&#39;s oceans each year, according to Allison.</div><p>By the way, though they&#39;re the most hyped, microbeads aren&#39;t the only kind of microplastics, which generally are defined as any plastic measuring smaller than 5 millimeters (just under a fifth of an inch). Other types include:</p><ul><li><em>Fibers</em>: Little strands of synthetic fibers, from fishing line to cigarette filters to polyester and fleece clothing, to name a few</li><li><em>Fragments</em>: Big plastic trash doesn&rsquo;t go away&mdash;it simply breaks down into teensy, irregularly shaped plastic particles.</li><li><em>Film</em>: Thin, long pieces that may once have been food wrapping or plastic bags</li></ul><p><strong>So What? </strong></p><p>The quick rap sheet on microplastics is that once they <strong><em>get</em></strong> out into our waters, they tend to <strong><em>act</em></strong> out, to put it lightly. First, Olga explained that they basically act as sponges, adsorbing other pollutants willy-nilly and moving them around the Great Lakes or wherever they happen to float. Second, Allison pointed out that wildlife often accidentally eat them, which can directly or indirectly affect animals as varied as small fish, turtles, and even whales.</p><p>Both experts clarified that the research on the implications of microplastics is still emerging, but they&#39;ve pointed out some interesting studies. Consider:</p><ul><li><a href="http://www.csgmidwest.org/policyresearch/documents/Plastics-GLLC-20114.pdf" target="_blank">Sherri Mason&rsquo;s lab at SUNY Fredonia</a> found plastic in the guts and intestines of 18 different species, including 17 fish, and one waterbird.</li><li>Some research shows that ingesting too much plastic can result in serious digestive issues. <a href="http://ocean.si.edu/slideshow/laysan-albatrosses%E2%80%99-plastic-problem" target="_blank">Albatross chicks</a>, for instance, cannot regurgitate nor digest plastic debris they swallow, so it can fill up their stomachs such that they can no longer digest food.</li></ul><ul><li>Some <a href="http://www.bioportfolio.com/resources/pmarticle/1040530/Uptake-and-retention-of-microplastics-by-the-shore-crab-Carcinus-maenas.html">evidence</a> suggests that microplastics can make their way up the food chain, though this is still an early area of scientific inquiry.</li></ul><p>Plus&hellip;precisely because they&#39;re so small, microplastics are especially tricky and take &quot;astronomical costs&quot; to clean up, noted Allison. That&#39;s one big reason it&#39;s so important for folks to help keep plastic from entering the waste stream in the first place, whether it&#39;s by avoiding products like microbead-laden facial scrub or participating in a cleanup.</p><p><strong>Change is a&#39;comin&rsquo;</strong></p><p>But wait, there&#39;s good news! Olga and Allison are all about embracing individual impact, from swapping out plastic-studded face wash with apricot scrub to supporting legislation like <a href="http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/06/17/illinois-takes-a-big-stand-on-tiny-plastics/" target="_blank">Illinois</a>&#39; phase-out of the manufacture and sale of microbeads in personal care products. At least nine other states now have similar legislation on the docket, as does Ontario, Canada, added Olga.</p><p>Though the topic can be infuriating, to use Jerome&#39;s term, Allison cheered everyone up in the studio by reminding us that, &quot;We all have a part to play in the solution.&quot;</p><p>Nutshell: Small size doesn&rsquo;t mean small impact &ndash; in terms of plastic pollution, that&#39;s a bad thing. In terms of public involvement &ndash; it&#39;s great! Microplastics may be a big problem, but we can each make a difference.</p><p><strong>One Green Thing</strong></p><p>One easy way to keep plastic - big and small - out of waterways is to choose reusable instead of single-use products. Boom!</p><p><strong><em>More ways to help:</em></strong></p><ul><li><strong>Save the date for the <a href="http://www.oceanconservancy.org/our-work/international-coastal-cleanup/" target="_blank">International Coastal Cleanup</a> day on September 19, 2015</strong></li><li>Participate in Alliance for the Great Lakes&rsquo; <a href="http://www.greatlakes.org/ADOPTABEACH" target="_blank">Adopt-a-Beach program</a></li><li>Try Ocean Conservancy&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.oceanconservancy.org/our-work/international-coastal-cleanup/10-things-you-can-do.html" target="_blank">10 Things You Can Do for Trash-Free Seas</a></li><li>Ask your state legislator to support microbead bans (the Alliance has tools <a href="http://takeaction.greatlakes.org/site/PageServer?pagename=Advocacy_Home" target="_blank">here</a>)</li></ul></p> Tue, 17 Mar 2015 09:56:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths/ecomyths-dangers-microplastics-112169 EcoMyths: Do scare-tactics motivate people to live greener lives? http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths/ecomyths-do-scare-tactics-motivate-people-live-greener-lives-111597 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/EcoMyths-Environmental Scare tactics_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-59fe6f45-a855-e9b0-16ac-4537d9a22910">Kate Sackman of EcoMyths Alliance says that, &ldquo;Many environmental organizations use scare tactics to motivate people to take action...For most people, the end result is that they are overwhelmed and too discouraged to act.&rdquo; &nbsp;For our EcoMyths series, we&rsquo;ll talk with Sackman and Diane Wood, president of the National Environmental Education Foundation&nbsp; (NEEF) about different methods to inspire people to get engaged with green issues.</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/188188068&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>Many environmental organizations use scare tactics to motivate people to take action to protect the planet and resources we all share.&nbsp; For most people, the end result is that they are overwhelmed and too discouraged to act.&nbsp;</p><p>NEEF and EcoMyths Alliance share the core belief is that people will act in eco-friendly ways when specific actions are relevant and important to their everyday lives. We believe people need the facts and need to be given choices so they can respond in ways that are meaningful to them personally. NEEF and EcoMyths, through a series of stories, examples and games, present science to the public so that it is not only clear, but it also inspires positive action.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>NEEF &amp; EcoMyths - Who we are:</strong></p><p dir="ltr">- NEEF&mdash;national organization advancing lifelong environmental learning. We connect people to useful knowledge that improves the quality of their lives and the health of the planet.</p><p dir="ltr">- We leverage resources through dynamic public-private partnerships and provide grants for innovative projects.</p><p dir="ltr">- NEEF embraces the idea that environmental issues can only be solved if all Americans understand how they play a role in addressing these 21st century problems and experience the benefits that come from doing so first-hand.</p><p dir="ltr">- NEEF sees a future whereby 2022, 300 million Americans are actively using environmental knowledge to ensure the well-being of the earth and its people.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>NEEF&rsquo;s reach:</strong></p><p dir="ltr">- Reach up to 90 million U.S. households through 350 meteorologists, radio broadcasters and journalists participating in Earth Gauge.</p><p dir="ltr">- Enable 175,000 volunteers at more than 2,000 public lands sites in all 50 states, DC and Puerto Rico to complete $18 million in park improvements during National Public Lands Day.</p><p dir="ltr">- National Public Lands Day (NPLD) is the nation&#39;s largest, single-day volunteer effort for public lands. In 2015, NEEF will celebrate the 22nd annual National Public Lands Day on September 26, 2015. Toyota will sponsor NPLD for the 17th straight year.</p><p dir="ltr">- Children and Nature Initiative: Train thousands of health care providers on environmental health issues.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Rx for Outdoor Activity</strong></p><p dir="ltr">- Aims to prevent serious health conditions like obesity and diabetes related to indoor sedentary lifestyles and connects children and their families to nature to promote good health, enjoyment, and environmental stewardship. The Initiative educates pediatric health care providers about prescribing outdoor activities to children. The program also connects health care providers with local nature sites, so they can refer families to safe and easily accessible outdoor areas.</p><p dir="ltr">- Reach hundreds of thousands of students and educators with non-biased environmental education materials during National Environmental Education Week.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Americans Face Daunting Environmental Challenges</strong></p><p dir="ltr">- &ldquo;Environment&rdquo; is polarizing, Green issues seen as exclusive</p><p dir="ltr">- The enormity of these problems overwhelms people</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Feel powerless &amp; frustrated, Don&rsquo;t see relevancy to personal life, Don&rsquo;t see the value of individual action</strong></p><p dir="ltr"><strong>NEEF&rsquo;s Approach:</strong></p><p dir="ltr">- &ldquo;Know more, Do more, Live better&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">- Empower people with knowledge and practical actions to help them become &ldquo;everyday stewards.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>People want to make a difference: By nature, individuals are motivated to make the world a better place: </strong></p><p dir="ltr">- 78% of US adults volunteer, donate or advocate with a philanthropic organization</p><p dir="ltr">- 6 in 10 US adults take action when they understand environmental issues</p><p dir="ltr">- 71% of Americans consider the environment when they shop</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>NEEF wants to start where people are, in an easy, straightforward way (&ldquo;lighten their load&rdquo;)</strong></p><p dir="ltr"><strong>NEEF doesn&rsquo;t want to make people uncomfortable, but rather draw them in with welcoming messages</strong></p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Why this is Important - We (EcoMyths and NEEF):</strong></p><p dir="ltr">- We respect the intelligence of individuals, so we provide them with the environmental science facts they need to make decisions.</p><p dir="ltr">- We believe people want to do the right thing for the health and well-being of their families and themselves and the long-term health of the planet.</p><p dir="ltr">- We use storytelling to bring facts to life &ndash; e.g.</p><p><strong>ONE GREEN THING: </strong></p><ul><li><u>Individuals:&nbsp; Sign up for the EcoMyths newsletter</u> at <a href="http://www.ecomythsalliance.org">www.ecomythsalliance.org</a> for guilt-free myth-busting articles that make you laugh and give you One Green Thing you can do</li><li><u>Companies: Sign up for NEEF&rsquo;s Business and Environment program</u> at <a href="http://www.neefusa.org">www.neefusa.org</a>.</li></ul></p> Tue, 27 Jan 2015 09:44:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths/ecomyths-do-scare-tactics-motivate-people-live-greener-lives-111597