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Environmental Challenges
and the Power of Women

Compiled by Circle the Earth

It is Holiday Time. Time to be Merry and Serious!
Redwood Mary, Executive Director of Circle the Earth

I just finished reading an Associated Press article and several other media reports about the recently released United Nations Human Development Report 2007/2008, "Fighting Climate Change: Human Solidarity in a Divided World". You can download it at: http://hdr.undp.org/en/reports/global/hdr2007-2008/

The report forewarns, “There is a window of opportunity for avoiding the most damaging climate change impacts, but that window is closing: the world has less than a decade to change course. Actions taken—or not taken—in the years ahead will have a profound bearing on the future course of human development. The world lacks neither the financial resources nor the technological capabilities to act. What is missing is a sense of urgency, human solidarity and collective interest.”

And as I write this it is the “shopping season” here in North America. And we are always looking for “cheap bargains”. But there is a price and cost stream that we need to consider. There is actually no such thing as cheap—someone always pays the price down the line for our concept of "cheap". "Cheap" also impacts the environment we are trying to protect. But all is not doom and gloom--read on how to be jolly, have fun and do the right thing!

Where I live, here in the San Francisco Bay Area, we are trying to do our part! Now your turn. How to be part of the solution? How about Eco-Gifts this Holiday Season? Here are some ideas: Create a gift box that has CFLs. CFLs (Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs) and compostable garbage bags (http://www.carolinagreen.com look under products) and a stainless steel to-go mug (http://www.reusablebags.com/store/stainless-steel-thermal-travel-p-374.html)! Fill it with home baked organic goodies that you made yourself or organic treats, jams, jellies made locally. If every American home replaced just one light bulb with an ENERGY STAR CFL qualified bulb, we would save enough energy to light more than 3 million homes for a year! http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=cfls.pr_cfls

If you need to send a gift out of your area think about EcoExpress! This is a fabulous woman owned business that creates natural and organic gifts baskets that are memorable and high quality. You won’t even have to leave home to send beautiful gifts and support the environment! With their wide assortment of earth friendly gourmet, spa and rainforest baskets there is something to please everyone! http://www.ecoexpress.com/

Holiday cards? Have a card making party with your friends and family! They are so much fun! Call your local print shop for cast away paper and use your old cards you were sent from last year – or go to your local thrift shop for magazines and with some home made non-toxic glue – you can cut and paste a personalized holiday card! Here is the recipe for a basic flour paste non-toxic glue! Blend whole wheat flour with cold water to make a liquid paste (about the consistency of pancake batter). Beat until the mixture is free of lumps, and then gently heat until boiling, while constantly stirring. Allow to cool before using. Store in an air-tight jar. If the paste hardens, soften by mixing in small amounts of warm water as needed. And for that last minute card – how about tree-free email? Care 2’s eco friendly email cards are waiting for you at: http://www.care2.com/send/categories

We have a S.F. Bay Area Green Business Program Directory. Do you have one where you live? If not- get together with friends and start one and send it by email to your friends.

Please Go Green this Holiday Season! The possibilities are endless! Protect The Earth! And pay the true costs up front to sustain clean air, water and intact forests and not in environmental destruction or toxics or displacement of indigenous peoples from their forest or farm homelands. Better yet…Reduce. Reuse and Recycle! Speaking of recycling, here is a useful excerpt from an article I had in my computer archives.


Dec 23, 2005 – by Martin Hickman, Consumer Affairs Correspondent For The Independent (United Kingdom)


One billion Christmas cards will be sent or hand-delivered - 17 for every man woman and child in the UK. But most will head into the bin after a few weeks. Some companies decided this year to stop sending Christmas cards or environmental reasons and instead sent e-mails. Cards can be recycled at big Tesco and WH Smith stores from 2 January. Last year, their scheme recycled more than 58 million cards.


Laptops, iPods and X-Boxes are among the most sought-after presents this year. Technological advances make consumers consider their IT and entertainment equipment to be out of date within a few years. Many do not throw out computers because they still work and instead stick them in the loft. But two million computers - weighing 53,000 tons and containing poisonous solders and plastics - are dumped each year, although they could be collected for the Third World. Just 26 per cent of computers and printers are recycled and refurbished.


Small household appliances such as toasters, kettles and microwaves are not normally given as Christmas presents. But some families replace kitchen gadgets before the arrival of the family for the traditional meal. About 90 per cent of household electrical appliances are dumped in landfill sites. That amounts to 80,000 tons, just 8 per cent of the weight but 31 per cent of the total volume of electrical goods that are dumped.


The Christmas feast and entertaining family and friends creates mountains of waste. Shops are said to have sold 16 million turkeys, 830 million sprouts and 12 million jars of pickles, yet 30 to 40 per cent of all festive food is wasted by farmers, shops or families. This year, Britons will consume the contents of an extra 750 million bottles and jars and 500 million drinks cans, most of which will be thrown out with the rubbish. Turkey foil wrap alone will create 3,000 tons of waste.


Getting the latest model is still a priority for many, as manufacturers hawk the next generation of phones. Their desirability is likely to increase as 3G handsets resemble mini-televisions. Yet only between 10 and 15 per cent of handsets are recycled. Like computers and televisions, mobiles are full of nasties. The batteries are the most toxic and contain lithium, nickel and cadmium.


The boom in Internet shopping has resulted in 70 million parcels being delivered this Christmas, compared to 55 million last year, the Royal Mail estimates. Most of the bulky packaging in parcels will end up in the bin, when it could be recycled and pulped for re-use. An estimated 83 square kilometres of wrapping paper will be ripped off presents during the festive season. At normal times of year, 20 per cent of our rubbish is board and paper. Eighty per cent of people have access to a curbside collection scheme to collect paper and cardboard packaging.


Family and friends will spend £181 on toys for the average child with each child expecting to receive 10 presents on top of those from parents. But 41 per cent of them will be broken within three months, according to a poll by the Children's Mutual savings society. Because of the difficulty of recycling heavy plastics, most of these will head for the tip. Few are made of wood and materials that, unlike plastic, are not made with oil. Hardly any batteries are recycled, despite the poisons they contain.


About eight million have been bought for homes. About 1.2 million will be recycled and turned into woodchip or mulch, by local authorities, many of which arrange collections. But seven million will be left to rot in back yards or gardens or thrown out with the household rubbish, creating methane, which is a potent greenhouse gas.


By Redwood Mary, Executive Director, Circle The Earth - Grassroots Women Taking Action for a Sustainable Future - A Project of the Agape Foundation

TO SUPPORT OUR WORK: http://www.circletheearth.netfirms.com/SupportOurWork.htm

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Berkeley CA 94712

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