Tag: Herbicides

5 Ways to Save the Earth in Your Own Back Garden

5 Ways to Save the Earth in Your Own Back Garden

There’s a lot of talk lately about climate change, environmental destruction and ecological collapse, and how we’re all doomed if we don’t change our lifestyles.

Have you noticed how much of this protest is directed at governments and leaders? Sure, their views and actions are important, because they make the laws which protect natural habitats, enforce reduction and recycling of plastics, or require corporations to clean up their mess.

But individuals, like you and me, are able to accept and enact changes more easily and quickly than bureaucratic governments or profit-chasing corporations.

So we’re an essential part of the solution. How about we start changing our habits today?

A good place to start is in your own garden.

Why? Well, not only is it easier to start small, but it’s a good idea to make changes directly where we live, because that’s where we have the most impact on the planet’s health…

In our own homes and gardens, our places of work, how we travel, what we consume, and where we buy food and other products from…

Let’s start.

Here are 5 ways you can save the Earth in your own front, back or container garden.

1. Gardens should be natural havens for wildlife.

So often, our gardens are not natural – instead they are trimmed and poisoned geometric blocks of human-controlled or ‘fake’ nature.

All this does is discourage the small creatures and bugs which are so important for soil quality.

If mini-beasts are allowed to thrive, this brings biodiversity with lots of different plants and animals living there, which in turn encourages birds, small mammals and amphibians like hedgehogs, frogs and mice. And they’re all important to ensure nature is balanced.

Encourage all sorts of wildlife by planting bee-friendly and insect-encouraging plants, providing nesting places for them like sheltered and undisturbed areas with lots of hidey-holes and/or insect and bird boxes, and not using pesticides or herbicides of any sort.

Why’s this important? Because humans are killing off so much biodiversity everywhere – and in doing so, eventually we won’t be able to grow crops to feed humans or to feed the animals humans like to eat, and we won’t have enough insect pollinators which are essential for most crops.

2. Bees, insects and spiders are good.

They’re the ‘canaries’ of the garden world.

If you have lots of bugs, worms, invertebrates like snails and slugs, spiders, bees and other mini-beasts, it’s a sign of a healthy ecosystem.

Stop using slug pellets, rat traps and bug sprays. Not only do these poisons kill off essential wildlife, but they increase the amount of life-killing chemicals in the air, water and soil.

Snails and mice and other so-called ‘pests’ are living beings too. And they have to eat. Think of creative ways of giving them food they like to eat so they don’t need to eat up your favourite plants.

3. Nurture and keep every tree, bush, branch and leaf.

Thinking about chopping that tree down because it spoils your view, or drops too many leaves?

Think again. Everywhere we are losing more trees and foliage than are planted. And although we should encourage and celebrate planting more trees, new trees take decades if not centuries to contribute significantly to cleaning our air and soil. So we need to keep all the older trees too!

Fallen leaves and branches not only provide havens for small wildlife, but they help to add essential nutrients back into the soil.

And trees and bushes are the homes of wildlife. Chopping back or cutting down plants means you’re taking their homes.

4. Weeds are plants too.

We need to look at nature in a different way. Instead of viewing it as inconvenient, messy or ugly, we need to allow it to thrive. All of it. Even so-called ‘ugly’ weeds.

Which, when you really look at them, aren’t so ugly after all. Some of them have thorns or grow aggressively, but they’re just trying to survive. Most so-called weeds are the first foods of the season or the favourite foods for insects, bees and invertebrates, and weeds are part of the wonderful natural diversity our natural spaces need more of. 

Weeds can be useful – not only as important indicators of your soil quality but many have health benefits too when consumed. Allowing weeds between other plants means you’ll have contributed to better soil, less pollution, and your garden will be full of nature and diversity!

Your garden might be considered ‘untidy’ by some, but more importantly, it will be life-giving instead of life-taking.

5. Banish those Earth-killing poisons.

Bug sprays, slug pellets, insecticides, pesticides, weedkillers and herbicides, especially Glyphosate-based ones, are a very significant and serious cause of environmental problems.

We’ve got to stop use life-destroying chemicals in our gardens, parks, public spaces and on our crops if we are to survive ourselves.

There are plenty of natural methods of removing the odd weed (but see point 4) or discouraging certain wildlife (but see points 1 and 2).

It’s also impossible to ensure poisonous chemicals only affect the plants or animals you were intending them for. Invariably others will be injured or die too, and the poisons will enter our air, soil and water.

And most garden chemicals are not only dangerous to plants and small animals, but very dangerous to humans too.

Every person has the power to change the world.

Your power is multiplied by all the actions other individuals take.

Here’s to gardens, and our planet, full of life. Let’s do it! 🙂

What do you think?

What are you doing in your garden to encourage wildlife? What do you think we should do about weeds, slugs, rats and spiders? Do you think messy, natural gardens can be beautiful?

Sources and Further Research

An entomologist explains why NOT to kill spiders – http://theconversation.com/should-i-kill-spiders-in-my-home-an-entomologist-explains-why-not-to-95912

Organic weed management – https://www.gardenorganic.org.uk/weed-management

Save bees and pollinators – https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/wildlife-and-wild-places/saving-species/save-bees-and-pollinators

Understanding the dangers of Glyphosate – https://thetruthaboutcancer.com/glyphosate-dangers/

Weeds in your garden have many uses – https://www.growwilduk.com/blog/weed-my-lawn 

Image credits: Thanks to artists and photographers of Pixabay.com

Make 1 Change a Week – 52 Things You Can Do to Save the Planet: How to Save Hedgehogs

Make 1 Change a Week – 52 Things You Can Do to Save the Planet: How to Save Hedgehogs

 

Hedgehogs. Those cute little spiky animals we all love, which we are inadvertently driving to extinction.

It’s “Hedgehog Awareness Week” in the UK from 5th to 11th May 2019.

But hedgehog populations are suffering and we may lose these little critters if we don’t all start doing something about it now.

Basically hedgehogs are dying because humans are taking away their living space and their food, and since they’re nocturnal creatures, we’re killing them on the roads too.

So what can we do to help hedgehogs survive?

We need to make our gardens and parks and common spaces hedgehog-friendly.

Keep your garden and other natural areas litter-free. Hedgehogs and other wildlife can easily get caught in plastic, netting or packaging left lying around.
 
More than anything, we must actively keep plants, hedgerows, bushes and fallen leaves intact. We need to start encouraging nature and plant life, not cutting it back or clearing it away.
 
Hedgehogs eat bugs so we need to ensure the hedgehogs, and the bugs, have somewhere safe to live. That means NO weedkillers, pesticides or herbicides!
 

Remember that so-called ‘weeds’ are plants too, and these are usually important food sources for insects, bees and small mammals.

No matter how safe the manufacturers claim their biological poisons are, chemicals like Roundup, other glyphosate-based herbicides and other toxic garden sprays and pest pellets are designed to KILL life.
 
Despite the fact that they are designed to kill only some life, the target plants and small animals are always part of an ecosystem with other life, which means if we use chemicals at the bottom of the food chain, we are poisoning and negatively affecting ALL life up the food chain too.
 
For example, if we spray weedkiller, and a hedgehog eats insects which were on or around that plant, the hedgehog will be poisoned too.
 

Hedgehogs often struggle to move around to find food sources.

Where possible we should be adding holes for them in the bottom of garden fences, using lower borders around plant beds (maximum 15cm high), or using plants as borders instead of fences.
 
It’s a good idea to talk to your neighbours and each make a hedgehog-sized hole in your fences, so hedgehogs can move unhindered through all your gardens.
 
You can put out water in a shallow bowl, and some specialist hedgehog food for them too. But if your garden is a safe haven, full of life, and they can move around safely, hedgehogs will probably be able to find enough food and moisture without you feeding them. The only time it may become an emergency is in hot summer spells, when they will benefit from you putting water out.
 

Hedgehogs sleep and hibernate under hedges, bushes and in piles of leaves and vegetation.

Never clear leaves away, and don’t prepare or light a bonfire, without first gently checking for hedgehogs which may be resting or sleeping underneath. Be careful when gardening, as hedgehogs can be injured or killed by hedge-trimmers, lawnmowers, strimmers and even handheld garden tools.
 
You can place a hedgehog box or hedgehog house under plants or in areas with lots of leaves and vegetation for hedgehogs to live in. Put some leaves, moss and twigs in it to encourage them in. They may well hibernate in it all winter, and even make a nest for their babies there!
 

Hedgehogs are nocturnal, so they sleep in the day and roam around feeding at night.

Try to not disturb hedgehogs who you know may be sleeping nearby in the day. Also do be aware that hedgehogs may be hibernating for a few months in the winter, so again, do not disturb places where they might be.
 
Unfortunately it’s not always possible to avoid them on the roads. But where you can, do drive slowly and look out for little creatures crossing the road at night.

Find out more. 

Have you ever seen a hedgehog? What are you doing to save them? I’d love to hear from you. Write your reply below this post.


Information sources and further reading:

British Hedgehog Preservation Society: https://www.britishhedgehogs.org.uk/
St Tiggywinkles Wildlife Hospital: https://www.sttiggywinkles.org.uk/

Photo credits:

Hedgehog photos and images from pixabay.com and canva.com


Veganism: How You can Save the Planet one Plant-Based Meal at a Time

Veganism: How You can Save the Planet one Plant-Based Meal at a Time

Veganism: passing fad or here to stay?

Veganism is being embraced, especially by young celebrities and their followers, and the numbers of people adopting vegan diets have risen exponentially in the last 10 years.

Are they just trying to be trendy, or is there something else going on?

Matt Prior, vegan and vegan activist

 Matt Prior, a vegan and vegan activist in Hertfordshire, says there’s more to veganism than you might think:

“Veganism is a lifestyle, not just a diet. It’s about not supporting any forms of animal exploitation, whether that be in animals farmed for meat, dairy and eggs, or animals confined in zoos or circuses; or in clothing and fashion, such as items made from leather, wool or silk; or in cosmetics/cleaning products where ingredients are derived from animals; or in animal testing in laboratories”.

So let’s take a look at the different aspects of veganism.

Probably the strongest motivator for vegans is they don’t want to support any forms of animal suffering, and so take steps to avoid it with their consumer choices. Matt describes this as “aligning your actions with your morals and ethics”.

Vegans typically avoid any foods derived from animals, such as:

~ Meat (especially meat from intensively factory-farmed animals),

~ Dairy milk and products derived from milk such as cheese, cream and butter (did you know that most dairy cows also end up as meat?),

~ Eggs (most eggs come from tightly packed hens living in appalling conditions all their egg-laying lives, and when spent, they may also end up as meat),

~ Foods like honey (which is the bees’ own food for the winter months), Foie Gras (which means ducks and geese are force-fed with pipes down their throats to make them unnaturally fat, so that Foie Gras can be scraped from their livers when they’ve been killed for this purpose), and foods with ingredients like gelatine (thickening agent usually made from boiling bones and ligaments of cows and pigs).

Unfortunately even ‘organic’, ‘free-range’ or ‘grass-fed’ animal-based food products, which may be more nutritional for consumers, often come from animals which have had to die the same grisly deaths in the same slaughterhouses as factory farmed animals.

What do vegans eat, and is it healthy?

Essentially vegans have a plant-based diet, which when balanced, will give you everything your body needs, plus better health and more energy than meat-eaters and dairy-consumers!

More and more science is noting that meat and dairy consumption contributes significantly to the world’s major fatal diseases such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and Alzheimer’s, where as a plant-based diet leads to health and longevity.

But beware – not all ‘plant-based’ diets are necessarily healthy.

You could, for example, live on crisps, chips and soda drinks – usually all ‘vegan’ – but sooner or later, you’d get sick from your nutritional deficiencies.

However most vegans are much more nutritionally-aware than their meat-eating counterparts, and vegan food can be tasty, colourful, exciting and full of nutrition!

To get everything you need nutritionally as a vegan, make sure you eat a range of vegetables and fruits – the different colours and types all signal different nutritional benefits, as well as beans and pulses (like lentils, broad beans, black beans, kidney beans, endamame beans or aduki beans), nuts and seeds. Add grains and starches like potatoes, pasta, rice, cous cous, quinoa or bulgar wheat, and/or different breads like wholewheat bread, rye bread, pittas, wraps or tortillas – check the ingredients to ensure they’re all vegan – and you’re good to go.

Plus there are countless alternatives to meat and other non-vegan foods available nowadays – such as vegan burgers, vegan cheese, plant milks (such as soya milk, rice milk, almond milk or hemp milk), vegan pre-prepared meals and vegan snacks. So if you’re struggling with what to eat to appease your conscience, you’ll be spoilt for choice.

There are a lot of myths about the vegan diet.

If you’re worried that you won’t be able to get all the protein, iron or calcium you need, except from meat or dairy products, I’m afraid you’ve been duped by the wealthy and powerful meat and dairy industries, who, like the cigarette industry, will do anything, including lie, deceive and commit scientific fraud to keep people buying and using their products.

A plant-based diet can provide all the protein, calcium and iron you need, and in more digestible, purer forms of these nutrients, than from meat and dairy. Think of any large, herbivorous mammals like cows, camels, elephants or buffalos – in the wild, they’re strong, healthy and get everything they need from eating only grasses and other plants!

And like anybody else who’s health-aware, if you’re concerned about getting all the nutrition you need, take vitamin and mineral supplements. Vegans are encouraged to take vitamin B12 supplements because this vitamin, naturally occurring in soil, is no longer available to us in our overly washed, soil-less vegetables and fruits.

Vegans know animal suffering doesn’t stop with the food industry.

Shearing sheepCountless animals are kept in unnatural conditions and undergo painful trauma and abuse in order for us to have things like wool (sheep and goats are often kicked, hurled and cut in order to remove their wool as quickly and profitably as possible), leather (leather is not always a by-product of the meat industry – many millions of cattle and other animals – even dogs – are bred and killed inhumanely just for their skins), and fur (did you know that 100 million animals are killed every year for their fur, and that some fake fur is actually real fur?).

Orca whales in tank

Most vegans choose not to buy products made from those and other animal-derived materials.

They also prefer to deliberately stay away from places like zoos, circuses, aquatic parks and animal rides, where animals are usually kept in impossibly tiny enclosures their whole lives, or are forced to work or perform unnatural tricks, and often suffer from mental illness, loneliness, disease and early death.

Monkey in a cage

Even the so-called ‘best’ zoos and parks, which brag about their ‘world-class’ animal welfare policies, cannot get away from the fact that they’re essentially keeping animals captive for profits. Gone are the days when zoos and aquatic parks helped conserve species from extinction – most captive animals are not endangered and it’s very common for zoos to cull their ‘excess’ animals.

What’s this got to do with the planet?

Essentially everything we do or buy as consumers on this planet has an impact on the environment. With seven billion human beings, it’s got to.

Whether that be filling up our cars with petrol or diesel and driving instead of walking or cycling, buying and consuming foods from supermarkets or local shops, using electricity or gas for light or cooking, or choosing and using household cleaners, pharmaceutical medicines, cosmetics or clothing…

All of the food and products we buy and use come from somewhere (often from factories or farms of industrial scale); almost all of these products and by-products generate waste, littler and pollution in their manufacturing, packaging and discarding after use; and many of them are full of additives, carcinogens, pollutants, toxins, pesticides, herbicides and contaminants which are bad for our bodies and bad for the planet.

Sows in crates - Factory Farming

Take factory-farming, for example.

This is how the vast majority of meat, dairy, egg and fur animals are farmed across the globe.

Factory farming involves keeping animals by the hundreds, thousands and more commonly by the hundreds of thousands, in confined spaces like crates, cages or barns. They are fed hormones, antibiotics and even ground-up flesh of other animals in order to artificially boost their growth and keep costs down, and their natural behaviours and movement are restricted.

At the end of their short, horrible lives, they are slaughtered in cruel ways, some of which are deemed legal and ‘humane’, but not all. Keeping and killing all those animals – 150 billion every year – happens behind closed doors, for a reason. And is there really a ‘humane’ way to kill any living being?

Big farming = big degradation and big hunger.

Bulldozer clearing forest

Not only do animals suffer from these barbaric, cost-saving policies, but the disease and pollution from the close confinement of millions of animals kept in mega-farms is through the roof. The emissions of greenhouse gases like methane, carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide are on the rise, accounting for anything between 10%-65% of all global greenhouse gas emissions. Those quantities are definitely climate-changing.

We haven’t even touched on the land grabbing, clearing and deforestation that occurs, such as in the Amazon rainforest, and resulting habitat loss, species extinction and desertification, in order to grow feed-crops for animals, including beef cattle, or to provide space for livestock or agriculture.

Starving children begging

Or the fact that we could feed many more humans with plant-based foods than we do now, by not producing meat or dairy (meat- and dairy-producing animals need humongous amounts of space, food and water compared to plants), and instead growing crops for human food consumption. For instance, it takes around 660 gallons of water to produce enough beef for ONE hamburger!

Eating meat and dairy is literally contributing to human starvation and planetary degradation on an industrial scale.

At the end of the day, it’s a matter of science and conscience.

We live in a world where we can buy, eat and use anything we want, whenever we want. Or at least those that can afford it, do.

But surely there’s more to life than just consuming whatever we like, regardless of the cost to ourselves, to other beings and to planet Earth?

Veganism is about being mindful of the fact that what we do has a consequence.

Like Matt says: “Once you know what happens in the meat, dairy and egg industries, and how bad they are for the planet, it feels hypocritical to support them. To live a vegan lifestyle is to consciously add more compassion and benevolence to the world, to establish a spiritual connection with it and its many forms of life. By minimising the negative impact we impose on the environment and our fellow earthlings, future generations have a chance to thrive.”

Never in history was it more true to say ‘you are what you eat.’


Watch this video interview with Matt about veganism, at a recent Cube of Truth demonstration by Anonymous for the Voiceless:

Vegan support websites:

Challenge22.com – https://www.challenge22.com/challenge22/

Vegan Society – https://www.vegansociety.com/

Films about animal rights, factory farming and veganism:

Cowspiracy – http://www.cowspiracy.com/

Dominion – http://www.dominionmovement.com/

Earthlings – http://www.nationearth.com/

Land of Hope and Glory – https://www.landofhopeandglory.org/

What The Health – http://www.whatthehealthfilm.com/


Selected sources for further reading:

https://www.riseofthevegan.com/blog/going-vegan-biggest-trend-for-2018

https://www.riseofthevegan.com/blog/largest-study-to-show-link-between-meat-and-disease

https://vegetariannutrition.net/docs/Calcium-Vegetarian-Nutrition.pdf

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/things-vegans-dont-eat#section2

Protein, Calcium & Iron

Eat Your Dirt: Natural Vitamin B12 And Where To Find The Best B12 Supplement

Is a Plant-Based Diet Right for You?

Factory Farming: Misery for Animals

https://www.ciwf.org.uk/factory-farming/why-does-factory-farming-still-exist/

10 Dairy Facts the Industry Doesn’t Want You to Know

http://theconversation.com/five-ways-the-meat-on-your-plate-is-killing-the-planet-76128

http://www.cowspiracy.com/infographic

https://iskconnews.org/meat-eating-the-cause-for-world-hunger-criminal-waste-of-grains,3607/

https://www.thoughtco.com/is-foie-gras-particularly-cruel-127514

Fur Farming

http://www.adaptt.org/about/the-kill-counter.html

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-26356099

http://www.humanesociety.org/assets/pdfs/farm/hsus-fact-sheet-greenhouse-gas-emissions-from-animal-agriculture.pdf

http://www.wri.org/blog/2014/05/everything-you-need-know-about-agricultural-emissions

 


Image sources:

Pixabay.com

FilmingForLiberation.com


Unique novels with environmental themes by Kathryn Rose NeweyKathryn Rose Newey is an author of unique novels with environmental themes, for young adults, teens and children. In fact, her books are suitable for anyone aged 8-88 who cares about animals and the planet.

Her books include: The Zoo Animals’ Faraway Dream (a story to save caged animals), Animals in the Forest: The Day Terrible Things Came (a story to save the Earth), and Ilnoblet Elmer and the Alien Water Thieves (science fiction). Her next book will be a story to save trees.

Available from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, other Amazon websites and major bookstore websites worldwide.  Find out more