green communities

Regardless of what any polls might say, please don’t get complacent and assume this election will turn out the way you want or expect. Progressives can’t count on any state being a “safe state” where we can abstain from voting or risk opting for a third-party vote that could end up helping the worst candidate get extra electoral votes and actually tip the outcome of the election, as it did in 2000. (The folly of third-party voting in U.S. elections is a touchy subject that deserves its own post, and I might write one later.) The survival of our very democracy (what remains of it) is at stake.

statueoflibertyIn this election, many more states could serve as “swing” states than ever before, for a variety of reasons. It’s important to recognize that new voter suppression laws (including many restrictive ID laws and fewer voter protections, enabled by the Supreme Court’s evisceration of the Voting Rights Act after the last election), voter intimidation efforts, voter database purges in some states, voter database hacking (database breaches were detected this year in Arizona and Illinois, and were attempted in at least 20 states), and other such forces are sure to have a very negative impact on this year’s elections, so we need to do everything possible to counteract all of these attempts to curtail people’s right to vote.  I feel an extra responsibility to vote, since so many people who should be able to vote will not be able to (some only because they’re seniors or students who haven’t been able to get the “correct” form of ID in time). Also, a clear, landslide outcome will remove any shred of legitimacy from a losing candidate’s petulant refusal to concede (or calls for an armed revolt), should such a travesty occur…

Here are very specific ways you can help—10 steps you can take right now, leading up to, and/or on election day—to try to ensure a high turnout and the best possible (i.e., least egregious) election outcomes:

1. Verify that you are still registered to vote (at your correct, current address): Go to or and click on your state and follow the links, or contact your county’s elections office. Thousands of voters may have been (wrongly) purged from the voter rolls in several states. Make sure you aren’t one of them, well before you arrive at the polls on Election Day. Also send / post these links for your friends, and ask them to check and re-check their registration status before the election.  If you’ve moved since you last registered or you are not yet registered to vote, register / re-register right away, if you still can (many states’ deadlines have already passed in October).  You can pick up a voter registration form at a Post Office (or a library or other government building) located in your county; or go to or, or better yet, go directly to your county’s election office to register.

If there’s a chance you won’t be able to get to your polling place before it closes on election day (the upcoming election is Tuesday, November 8), fill out the absentee/mail-in ballot request form to receive a mail-in ballot before the specified deadline. When you receive your ballot, be sure to follow the instructions and fill it out carefully; sign it where specified and drop it off at a designated location (best option) or mail it in plenty of time (ideally well before Election Day) and be sure to put enough postage on your mail-in ballot when you send it in; in some cases, more than one regular stamp is required.

2. Sign up to help with voter registration drives, if the voter registration deadline hasn’t already passed in your state (check your Secretary of State’s website, or for the deadline). You can help register voters through your local Democratic Party office, among other groups. Also, encourage students and young voters that you know (18+) to register to vote and to show up to vote. (Assist them in filling out their registration form completely, if they need help, and show them the voting guides that explain what’s on their ballot.)

You can also help people figure out how to get the ID that they (might) need in order to vote in your state (see item #9 below), or drive them to the DMV to apply for their ID. In addition, though it is probably too late at this point (to qualify for this election), encourage and help anyone you know who has been wanting/trying to become a citizen to complete the naturalization process; you could even offer to help contribute to the steep citizenship exam fee.

3. Sign up to be an election worker at a polling place, through your County’s elections office or Secretary of State’s office, or volunteer as an official election observer or monitor, through groups like Common Cause, the League of Women Voters, your local or state Democratic Party, or various civil rights groups. You can also volunteer to help staff the Election Protection hotline to answer voting-related questions and to record and respond to reports of voting problems.

4. Find out whether your state and county’s voting systems are reliable and publicly verifiable (i.e., have a paper trail that can be audited for accountability); most state and counties do use auditable systems with a paper trial, but some still don’t. For example, Georgia’s touchscreen voting systems do not employ best practices. Go to, which works for election integrity/preparedness, to learn more. While voter fraud (e.g., voter impersonation) is extremely rare and is not easy to get away with (so it not a cause for real concern), election hacking (and voter registration hacking) is still possible in some states.

Contact your Secretary of State’s office and your County’s elections office to request that they take all precautions to prevent ballot hacking and tampering, and to provide secure and verifiable voting systems with an auditable paper trail.  Specifically, if you are in one of the states or counties that uses electronic voting machines, ask if you can use a paper ballot instead. And every voter should make sure they get their ballot receipt after voting, and keep it until the election has been certified.

5. Research all of the issues, propositions, and national, state, and local candidates that will be on your ballot, so that you are as informed as possible. Don’t base your decisions on campaigns’ (often deceptive) TV and radio ads or the (often corporate-funded) propaganda flyers you receive in the mail. Read the information that’s provided in your state and county’s official voter guides (which you should receive in the mail), as well as newspaper editorials and articles written by trustworthy, non-dogmatic analysts or journalists, and information provided by trusted organizations such as the League of Conservation Voters, League of Women Voters, etc. Given the prevalence of lying and mis-information (especially online and on social media), it’s important to check the veracity of any wild claims or personal attacks/smears: search the fact-checks on Politifact,, and Snopes. To get additional information on what is on your ballot, and where candidates stand on specific issues, check out  In California, Illinois, and New York, Voter’s Edge provides a helpful, non-partisan voting guide to help you make sense of what’s on your ballot. In California, there is also the California Progressive Voter Guide, a chart that shows what a variety of organizations think about each Proposition on the ballot. Educate yourself as much as possible. But if you still do not really know about or fully understand what a particular ballot proposition is about when it comes time to vote, it’s best not to vote on that issue.

6. Donate to candidates and issue campaigns that you support, at local, state, and national levels, and/or to your local (county or state) Democratic Party, the DSCC, DCCC, and Democratic Governors Association.  Also consider donating to or volunteering for an election integrity or voting-related group, such as Election Protection, ACLU, Common Cause, the League of Women Voters, or others (we provided an extensive list of organizations in one of our previous posts).

7. Make your voting preferences known to your good friends and family, via conversations or posts on social media, without resorting to inflammatory insults (no one will listen to you if you’re suggesting that they’re an idiot or worse). You probably have more influence than you think, especially among your peers and others who respect you. I know it takes some courage; when you stick your neck out on political matters, a few people might want to chop it off and might lash out in a rude or offensive manner. But if you set a civil and positive tone (and only post truthful, substantiated information) and mostly focus on reaching out to people who you know personally, you’ll get fewer reactionary or vitriolic responses. Avoid telling people who they “must” or “have to” vote for (no one likes to be be told what to do). Simply state what you will do and why, and why you think it’s important. Post links to helpful and trustworthy election sites, such as links for finding polling location, hours, etc. (e.g.,, or your Secretary of State or County elections site).  Consider sharing this blog post (and our other election posts) with your friends. And on or before voting day, remind your friends to vote.

8. Volunteer to drive people to the polls, through direct offers or via your local Democratic Party.

9. Make sure you know what the ID requirements are for voting in your state, and bring the necessary identification document(s) with you. Many states have instituted more restrictive (discriminatory) ID requirements since the last election or since 2010: including TX, WI, NC, OH, SC, IN, NH, TN, KS, NE, IL, AL, MS, WV, IA, and FL. Go to, or, call 866-OUR-VOTE, or contact your State or County’s elections offices to find out about your voter ID requirements.


10. And of course, on Election Day (or on an Early Voting day, if those are available where you are, or by mail-in ballot): PLEASE VOTE. Remind your friends to vote, and bring a friend with you.

If you experience or witness any voting problems or irregularities, report them to the Election Protection hotline (1-866-OUR-VOTE, or 1-888-VE-Y-VOTA) and to your County elections office and your Secretary of State; you could also report the problems to the DNC and to local media.

Also, make sure you get and keep your ballot receipt, and keep it for at least a couple weeks after the election, until the election is settled. Once all ballots have been counted, you should be able to confirm that your ballot was counted, by calling your County elections office or, in some cases, you can check online.

Vote not just for your own sake, but for the sake of your family, future generations, vulnerable populations, other species, and the environment, atmosphere, and climate that we all share and depend on for life. Vote as if everyone’s future depends on it; it does.


Related posts:


October 24, 2016
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This is the second part in my series of posts related to the upcoming election.
[Click here for Part I: Important Election and Voting-related Websites & Organizations.]
[Click here for Part III. Specific Ways to Help.]

logo_lcvVarious environmental groups make endorsements of candidates for Senate, House, and President. Some groups endorse a lot of candidates, and others focus their endorsements and advocacy on a smaller set. For example, the Sierra Club endorses candidates in many races, at all levels of government. NRDC Action Fund and NextGen Climate have only endorsed people for some Senate races and for President; not for House races. Climate Hawks Vote endorses a select set of candidates who have been especially strong climate leaders. Some groups limit their endorsements mainly to candidates in tight races, while others don’t. Each group has its own criteria, which you can learn about via the links to their sites (see the key below). Some groups will be adding additional endorsements as we get even closer to the election.

6a00d83451b96069e2019103a359ae970c-600wiTo find endorsements for Governors, state legislators, and local-level candidates or issues, find your state’s League of Conservation Voters and your local Sierra Club chapter and look up their endorsements. A few of their Governor endorsements are listed at the end of this post.

Below you can see which candidates (for Senate, House, and President) have received endorsements from one or more of the following groups (as of 9/29/2016):


  1. League of Conservation Voters endorsement
  2. ActionFundLogo.v2Sierra Club endorsement
  3. NRDC Action Fund endorsement
  4. Climate Hawks Vote endorsement
  5. NextGen Climate endorsement


CA:            Kamala Harris (2, 3, 4see key above)
CO:            Michael Bennet (1, 2, 3)
CT:            Richard Blumenthal (2, 3)CHV_Logo2
FL:            Patrick Murphy (1, 2)
HI:            Brian Schatz (2, 3, 4)
IA:             Patty Judge (1)
IL:             Tammy Duckworth (1, 2, 3, 5)
MD:          Chris Van Hollen (1, 2)
MO:          Jason Kander (1, 2)
NC:           Deborah Ross (1, 2, 5)
NH:          Maggie Hassan (2, 5)
NV:           Catherine Cortez Masto (1, 2, 3, 5)20140429100313132_nextgen-climate-logo
NY:           Charles Schumer (2, 3)
OH:          Ted Strickland (1, 2, 3, 5)
OR:          Ron Wyden (1, 3)
PA:           Katie McGinty (1, 3, 5)
VT:           Patrick Leahy (1, 3)
WA:         Patty Murray (1, 2, 3)
WI:          Russ Feingold (1, 2, 3)

(in alphabetical order, by state and then by candidate’s last name)

AZ:           Ruben Gallego (2)
AZ:           Raul Grijalva (1, 2)
AZ:           Matt Heinz (2)

CA:           Pete Aguilar (1, 2)
CA:           Nanette Barragan (1, 2, 4)
CA:           Karen Bass (2)
CA:           Xavier Becerra (2)
CA:           Ami Bera (1, 2)
CA:           Julia Brownley (1, 2)
CA:           Salud Carbajal (1, 2, 4)
CA:           Bryan Caforio (1, 2)
CA:           Tony Cardenas (2)
CA:           Judy Chu (2)
CA:           Susan Davis (2)
CA:           Mark DeSaulnier (2)
CA:           Michael Eggman (1)
CA:           Anna Eshoo (2)
CA:           John Garamendi (2)
CA:           Mike Honda (2)
CA:           Jared Huffman (1, 2)
CA:           Barbara Lee (2)
CA:           Ted Lieu (2, 4)
CA:           Zoe Lofgren (2)
CA:           Alan Lowenthal (1, 2)
CA:           Doris Matsui (2)
CA:           Jerry McNerney (1, 2)
CA:           Grace Napolitano (1, 2)
CA:           Bao Nguyen (2)
CA:           Jimmy Panetta (2)
CA:           Nancy Pelosi (2)
CA:           Scott Peters (1, 2)
CA:           Lucille Roybal-Allard (2)
CA:           Raul Ruiz (1, 2)
CA:           Linda Sanchez (1, 2)
CA:           Adam Schiff (2)
CA:           Brad Sherman (2)
CA:           Jackie Speier (2)
CA:           Eric Swalwell (2)
CA:           Mark Takana (2)
CA:           Mike Thompson (2)
CA:           Norma Torres (2)
CA:           Juan Vargas (2)
CA:           Maxine Waters (2)

CO:          Morgan Carroll (1, 2, 4)
CO:          Diana Degette (2)
CO:          Ed Perlmutter (2)
CO:          Jared Polis (2)
CO:          Gail Schwartz (1, 2)

CT:           Joe Courtney (2)
CT:           Rosa DeLauro (2)
CT:           Elizabeth Esty (2)
CT:           Jim Himes (2)
CT:           John Larson (2)

FL:            Kathy Castor (2)
FL:            Charlie Crist (1)
FL:            Val Demings (1)
FL:            Ted Deutch (2)
FL:            Lois Frankel (2)
FL:            Alcee Hastings (2)
FL:            Stephanie Murphy (1)
FL:            Frederica Wilson (1, 2)

GA:          Hank Johnson (2)
GA:          John Lewis (2)
GA:          David Scott (2)

HI:            Tulsi Gabbard (2)

IA:            Dave Loebsack (2)
IA:            Jim Mowrer (1, 2)
IA:            Monica Vernon (1, 2)

ID:            James Piotrowki (1)

IL:             Cheri Bustos (2)
IL:             Danny Davis (2)
IL:             Bill Foster (2)
IL:             Luis Gutierrez (1, 2)
IL:             Robin Kelly (2)
IL:             Raja Krisnamoorthi (1, 2, 4)
IL:             Mike Quigley (2)
IL:             Bobby Rush (2)
IL:             Jan Schakowsky (2)
IL:             Brad Schneider (2)

IN:            Shelli Yoder (1)

KY:           John Yarmuth (2)

MA:         Michael Capuano (2)
MA:         Katherine Clark (2)
MA:         Bill Keating (2)
MA:         Joseph Kennedy III (2)
MA:         Jim McGovern (2)
MA:         Seth Moulton (2)
MA:         Richard Neal (2)
MA:         Niki Tsongas (2)

MD:        Anthony Brown (1, 2)
MD:        Elijah Cummings (2)
MD:        John Delaney (1, 2)
MD:        Steny Hoyer (1, 2)
MD:        Jamie Raskin (1, 2, 4)
MD:        Dutch Ruppersberger (2)
MD:        John Sarbanes (2)

ME:         Emily Cain (1, 2)
ME:         Chellie Pingree (2)

MI:          Paul Clements (1, 2)
MI:          John Conyers (2)
MI:          Debbie Dingell (1, 2)
MI:          Gretchen Driskell (1, 2)
MI:          Lon Johnson (1, 2)
MI:          Dan Kildee (1, 2)
MI:          Brenda Lawrence (1, 2)
MI:          Sander Levin (2)
MI:          Suzanna Shkreli (2)

MN:        Terri Bonoff (1)
MN:        Angie Craig (1, 2)
MN:        Keith Ellison (2)
MN:        Betty McCollum (2)

MO:        Emanuel Cleaver (2)
MO:        Lacy Clay (2)
MO:        Bill Otto (2)

MT:         Denise Juneau (1)

NC:          Alma Adams (1, 2)
NC:          G.K. Butterfield (2)
NC:          David Price (2)

NH:          Ann Kuster (2)
NH:          Carol Shea-Porter (1, 2)

NJ:            Josh Gottheimer (1)
NJ:            Donal Norcross (2)
NJ:            Frank Pallone (1, 2)
NJ:            Bill Pascrell (2)
NJ:            Donald Payne (2)
NJ:            Albio Sires (2)
NJ:            Bonnie Watson-Coleman (2)

NM:        Michelle Lujan Grisham (2)
NM:        Ben Ray Lujan (2)

NV:          Ruben Kihuen (1, 2)
NV:          Jacky Rosen (1, 2)
NV:          Dina Titus (2)

NY:           Yvette Clark (2)
NY:           Joseph Crowley (2)
NY:           Colleen Deacon (1)
NY:           Mike Derrick (2)
NY:           Eliot Engel (2)
NY:           DuWayne Gregory (1)
NY:           Brian Higgins (2)
NY:           Hakeem Jeffries (2)
NY:           Nita Lowey (2)
NY:           Carolyn Maloney (2)
NY:           Grace Meng (2)
NY:           Kim Myers (1)
NY:           Jerrold Nadler (2)
NY:           John Plumb (1)
NY:           Jose Serrano (2)
NY:           Louise Slaughter (2)
NY:           Zephyr Teachout (2)
NY:           Paul Tonko (2)
NY:           Nydia Velazquez (2)

OH:          Joyce Beatty (2)
OH:          Marcia Fudge (2)
OH:          Marcy Kaptur (2)

OR:          Suzanne Bonamici (1)

PA:           Brendan Boyle (2)
PA:           Bob Brady (2)
PA:           Matt Cartwright (2)
PA:           Christina Hartman (1, 2)
PA:           Steve Santarsiero (1, 2)
PA:           Kerith Strano Taylor (2)

RI:            David Cicilline (2)
RI:            Jim Langevin (2)

SC:           Jim Clyburn (2)

TN:           Steve Cohen (2)

TX:           Joaquin Castro (2)
TX:           Llloyd Doggett (2)
TX:           Pete Gallego (1, 2)
TX:           Al Green (2)
TX:           Gene Green (2)
TX:           Eddie Bernice Johnson (2)
TX:           Sheila Jackson Lee (2)
TX:           Marc Veasey (2)
TX:           Tom Wakely (4)

UT:           Doug Owens (1, 2)

VA:           LuAnn Bennett (1, 2)
VA:           Don Beyer (1, 2)
VA:           Gerry Connolly (2)
VA:           Suzan DelBene (1)
VA:           Jane Dittmar (2)
VA:           Donald McEachin (1, 2)
VA:           Bobby Scott (2)

WA:         Suzan Delbene (2)
WA:         Denny Heck (2)
WA:         Derek Kilmer (1, 2)
WA:         Joe Pakootas (2)
WA:         Adam Smith (2)

WI:          Tom Nelson (1)

WV:         Mike Manypenny (2)

President of the United States

Hillary Clinton  (1, 2, 3, 5)


And here are some state LCV organizations’ endorsements of a few state Governors:

MT:  Steve Bullock

NC:  Roy Cooper

OR:  Kate Brown

VT:  Sue Minter

WA:  Jay Inslee


Also see:
2016 Eection and Voting Information (Part I): Important Websites & Organizationsand
2016 Election (Part III): Specific Ways to Help



September 30, 2016
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We post daily morsels of illuminating information and inspiration on The Green Spotlight’s Facebook Page. Anyone can view the page, even if you don’t have a Facebook account. But if you do have an account, we hope you’ll click on the page’s Like button (if you haven’t already “Liked” the page) and Share the page with your friends.

Please visit the Page to get a sense of the various topics that it covers. You are welcome to comment on the posts and we hope you’ll share some of our links. To make sure that Facebook will continue to show you our posts on your Facebook homepage/newsfeed, visit our page regularly and give a thumbs-up to (“Like”) your favorite posts.

Here’s a sampling of topics that we’ve highlighted on the page over the last few months:

  • Native American movement against the Dakota Access Pipeline, #NoDAPL
  • New federal emissions rules for heavy-duty trucks
  • and
  • app
  • Climate Ride
  • Organizations: The Greening of Detroit, Rural Renewable Energy Alliance, Grid Alternatives, Honor the Earth, Animal Legal Defense Fund, WildEarth Guardians
  • Books: Beyond Words; Frackopoly
  • Films: A Dangerous Game;  You’ve Been Trumped Too (coming soon)
  • Quotations, graphics, photos, videos, etc.

August 31, 2016
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Important Websites, Organizations, and Other Resources for Voters

I encourage you to check out the following sites and organizations; follow, share, and support some of them; check your voter registration status; and get involved in some way (e.g., by sharing useful information and links, sharing your opinions in a civil manner, registering new voters, volunteering for a campaign, or working at or monitoring the polls on election day). Please vote and do whatever you can to get more pro-environment candidates elected to Congress and to state-level (and local) offices, and to prevent T-Rump from getting elected. I’m not too proud to beg and plead. It’s not an overstatement to say that our future and the future of humanity and our planet will be significantly affected by the outcome of this election.

I’ll be adding at least one other post related to voting and this election in the next couple of months, so check back again soon.

Candidate Endorsements sc_voterguide_logo1-300x300

See our related (Part II) post for a list of Candidates Endorsed by Enviro Groups.

Candidate Information

Voting / Election Information
(check your current voter registration status, register or re-register to vote, get ballot/election information, ID requirements, poll location, etc.)

Voting-Related Advocacy Groups

Consider volunteering for or donating to your favorite candidates (for state, local, or federal offices) or donating to groups such as:

Related posts:

I hope you’ll share this post with your friends and community.


July 20, 2016
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With the recent spread of the Zika virus and its link to microcephaly, proper mosquito control is something that people want and need to understand more than ever. The Aedes mosquito can carry Zika; this CDC map shows the areas that have reported active transmission of Zika so far. Some types of mosquitoes can also transmit malaria, West Nile virus, dengue fever, yellow fever, and other serious diseases in various regions of the world. (Other types of mosquitoes are also responsible for infecting dogs with heartworm.)

Climate change is almost certainly contributing to the increase in some tropical diseases such as Zika, due to higher temperatures and more precipitation in many areas, in the tropics and beyond.  [Source: The Guardian]

mosquitoUnfortunately, conventional tactics for killing mosquitoes are not always effective, and they tend to be toxic. Zika can harm the development of fetuses and can harm some adults; meanwhile, exposure to toxic insecticides can harm everyone (including fetuses). It doesn’t make sense for society to accept that we should have to suffer from the long-term effects of slow poisoning (e.g., chronic and fatal illnesses) from insecticides and pesticides when less-toxic, effective alternatives exist. We cannot just “fog” the world in a cloud of insecticides to try to avoid Zika. Furthermore, the use of insecticides often backfires and has unintended consequences, such as killing other insects and animals that eat mosquitoes.

header-logoHere are some key excerpts from a very helpful article from Beyond Pesticides, which references information from an article in The Guardian:

“Aerial and ground applications of pesticides have long been used for mosquito control, but many believe that these methods fail to sufficiently control mosquito populations, [and that they] promote resistance and kill other species that would have acted as a natural predator to mosquitoes.

Dino Martins, PhD, a Kenyan entomologist, in an interview with The Guardian said that while pesticides can reduce the population of flying adult mosquitoes that transmit the virus, they will fail to deal with the epidemic that threatens to become a global pandemic, and warns that spraying landscapes is extremely dangerous.  ‘It is a quick fix but you pay for it. You kill other species that would have predated on the mosquitoes. You also create a mosaic of sprayed and unsprayed low densities of chemicals that fosters the rapid evolution of resistance.’

Already there is emerging resistance to insecticides among Anopheles mosquitoes. Additionally it is impossible to fumigate every corner of habitat where mosquitoes might breed.

According to Dr. Martins, the explosion of mosquitoes in urban areas, which is driving the Zika crisis, is caused by a lack of natural diversity that would otherwise keep mosquito populations under control, and the proliferation of waste and lack of disposal in some areas which provide artificial habitat for breeding mosquitoes.

The efficacy of adulticidal pesticide applications (aerial or ground spraying) has been called into question over the years. Further, the drifting spray impacts other non-target organisms like pollinators, birds, fish and amphibians. Commonly used mosquito pesticides like permethrin, resmethrin, naled and malathion are all associated with some measure of human and ecological health risks, especially among people with compromised immune systems, chemically sensitized people, pregnant women, and children with respiratory problems, such as asthma.

…Individuals can take action by eliminating standing water, introducing mosquito-eating fish, encouraging predators, such as bats, birds, dragonflies and frogs, and using least-toxic larvacides like bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (Bt). Through education of proper cultural controls, and least-toxic and cost effective biological alternatives, the use of hazardous control methods, such as toxic pesticides, can be eliminated.

  • Clean-Up–Eliminate pooled or stagnant waters from debris, containers, drains, and anywhere that pools water. Watch out for [and fix] leaky faucets. Mosquitoes can breed in puddles the size of dimes, so keep a keen eye out for stagnant water!
  • Natural Predators– Use indigenous fish populations, like bluegills or minnows, to eat mosquito larvae in shallow waters and ornamental pools. Copepod crustaceans can also be used to eat mosquito larvae in ditches, pools and other areas of stagnant water. Don’t forget about bats either! One bat can consume 1,200 mosquitoes in an hour, and many bats are in trouble from a disease wiping out their population. Help conserve these important mammals while keeping the mosquito population down by installing a bat house!
  • Behavior Modification–Wear long sleeves and long pants/skirts, and use least-toxic mosquito repellent when outdoors. Try to avoid being outside at dusk when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Attentive Monitoring– Check sources of water for signs of mosquito larvae often.
  • Least-toxic Pesticide Options– Use Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (Bt), a biological larvicide (“mosquito dunk”) that prevents mosquitoes from developing into breeding, biting adults in standing waters that cannot be drained.
  • Take Action–Let your local council members, mayor, or state delegates know that safer, more sustainable options exist. [Click here and scroll to the bottom of the article to] download our sample letter to send to public health officials in your area.

Beyond Pesticides’ Mosquito Management program page has a list of resources that can help you and your community safely manage mosquitoes, including least-toxic mosquito repellents, bed nets, and proper clothing that can be used to keep mosquitoes safely at bay.”

In addition to the behavior suggestions mentioned above, these are some other useful suggestions for keeping mosquitoes (and other bugs) away:

  • Make sure any windows that get opened have window screens, and repair/tape any tears in the screens.
  • Turn on a fan. Mosquitoes avoid strong wind.
  • Remove all standing and stagnant water from your yard. Don’t let excess water sit in plant pot dishes. Clear out debris from gutters. Remove water from birdbaths, any discarded tires, unused water troughs, etc. If you use rain barrels, make sure they have screens and that the screens are on tightly. If you have a compost pile, make sure it has drainage, is not soggy, is covered with a thick layer of leaves or grass clippings, and is not located right next to your living quarters. Running/moving water is generally OK, as mosquitoes larvae cannot grow there.
  • Cover up with loose, light-colored clothing. Wear shoes and socks instead of sandals. Change and wash your socks and clothing regularly, as mosquitoes are attracted to stinky feet and sweat.
  • Use mosquito netting over baby carriers, strollers, beds, etc.
  • Avoid drinking beer or eating/drinking dairy products when in a mosquito-prone environment. They seem to be attracted to beer and possibly also to lactic acid.
  • Methods and products that don’t work or don’t work well include: 1.) Ultrasonic devices. 2) Vitamin B patches. 2.) Repellent candles (e.g., citronella candles): They don’t work nearly as well as clothing or skin treatments, and 3) Bug zappers: They may actually attract more mosquitoes and other bugs to the area, and they can kill beneficial bugs.


There’s no need to coat your skin or clothes with highly toxic chemicals to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes. Studies are finding that mosquito repellents that use oil of lemon-eucalyptus (with some PMD) are just about as effective as DEET, and they last longer. Picaridin (or icaridin, or KBR 3020) is a less-toxic synthetic repellent than DEET and it works almost as well. The EcoSmart organic insect repellent (which uses a variety of botanical ingredients) was also found to work well, but it needs to be reapplied frequently (every 2-3 hours).  [Sources: NPR and EWG]

Consumer Reports gave these three DEET-free repellents their top ratings: Sawyer—Fishermen’s Formula Picaridin;  Repel—Lemon Eucalyptus; and Natrapel 8-hour. [For more information on those three products, see this article.] A friend of mine, who runs a summer farm camp and has tried many repellents, swears by All Terrain’s Herbal Armor repellent (which is also DEET-free).

Avoid using permethrin-based repellents, even those used to treat clothing and not applied to skin. Also avoid products with more than 30% DEET. And don’t use “foggers.” Those are all very toxic. Also, don’t use any aerosol sprays (use lotions or pumps instead). Don’t use repellents on babies under 6 months, and don’t use lemon-eucaluptus/PMD on children under 3 years old.  [Source: EWG’s Guide to Bug Repellents in the Age of Zika: Top Choices, and Do’s and Don’ts for Avoiding Bug Bites]

Other than lemon-eucalyptus oil, most botanical/plant-based repellents have not been found to be as effective as DEET or Picaridin-based repellents (especially for repelling the types of mosquitoes that can carry Zika). However, you could still experiment with rubbing a few of these bug-repelling plants on your skin or clothes (try a small area first, to make sure it doesn’t cause an allergic reaction). Better yet, planting some of these herbs and plants in your yard could help reduce the mosquitoes (and also fleas and ticks) in the area around your house. (Always be sure to buy organic—or non-treated—plants or seeds, so that they don’t kill off pollinators and other beneficial bugs and creatures.)  Turning your yard into a thriving garden will also help create more much-needed habitat for beneficial bugs, birds, and other species that help keep the mosquito population under control.

  • Anise
  • Basil
  • Bayberry (shrub)
  • Calendula
  • Catnip and catmint
  • Chives
  • Cloves
  • Feverfew
  • Garlic
  • Geranium (especially citronella geranium)
  • Hyssop
  • Lantana
  • Lavender
  • Lemongrass
  • Lemon eucalyptus
  • Marigold
  • Mint, peppermint
  • Mugwort
  • Onion
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Southernwood
  • Sweet woodruff
  • Tansy
  • Thyme (especially lemon thyme)
  • Wormwood
  • Yarrow

[Sources: Book: Naturally Bug-Free: 75 Nontoxic Recipes for Repelling Mosquitoes, Ticks, Fleas, Ants, Moths & Other Pesky Insects, by Stephanie Tourles, Storey Publishing, 2016; and “Repel Mosquitos with These Plants,” by Julie Fryer, Mother Earth News]


A company is currently working on developing Kite Patch and Kite Shield, technologies intended to prevent mosquitoes from detecting the CO2 that we emit, to make us virtually invisible to mosquitoes. Time will tell whether these technologies are effective. If they are, they are likely to become quite popular.


Unfortunately, many women who know that they got Zika during their pregnancy, or who live in areas where there are many Zika-carrying moquitoes, also happen to live in countries where contraception is not readily available or affordable, and/or where abortion is illegal and therefore unsafe.  Many such women are contacting organizations like Women on Waves for help.


Resources and references:

EWG’s Guide to Bug Repellents in the Age of Zika (including tip sheets that you can print out), from Environmental Working Group

How to Repel Mosquitoes Safely, Beyond Pesticides

Mosquito Management and Insect-Borne Diseases, Beyond Pesticides

With Zika Virus, Widespread Pesticide Spraying Not the Long-Term Solution, says Entomologist,” Beyond Pesticides

Zika Virus: Pesticides are not a long-term solution says leading entomologist,” The Guardian

What’s the Best Way to Keep Mosquitoes from Biting?,” NPR

Three top-rated insect repellents that don’t contain DEET,”

Book: Naturally Bug-Free: 75 Nontoxic Recipes for Repelling Mosquitoes, Ticks, Fleas, Ants, Moths & Other Pesky Insects, by Stephanie Tourles, Storey Publishing, 2016

Repel Mosquitoes with These Plants,” Mother Earth News

Mosquito Deterrents: The Good, The Bad, and the Potentially Effective,” Smithsonian Magazine


Related post:

Flea and Tick Treatments that Won’t Poison Your Pets


June 29, 2016
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GoldmanPrizeLogo-300x106The Goldman Environmental Prize is the world’s largest and most prestigious annual award for grassroots environmentalists. Many people refer to it as the “green Nobel.” Goldman Prize winners are models of courage, and their stories are powerful and truly inspiring. “The Prize recognizes individuals for sustained and significant efforts to protect and enhance the natural environment, often at great personal risk. Each winner receives a financial award of $175,000. The Goldman Prize views ‘grassroots’ leaders as those involved in local efforts, where positive change is created through community or citizen participation in the issues that affect them. Through recognizing these individual leaders, the Prize seeks to inspire other ordinary people to take extraordinary actions to protect the natural world.”

2016 is the prize’s 27th year. The Goldman Environmental Prize ceremony is held in San Francisco, California and then a couple of days later in Washington DC. The main event on April 18 will be livestreamed on the Goldman Prize YouTube channel, as well as on their website and Facebook page.


This year’s six prize recipients (one from each of the six inhabited continental regions) are:

  • Destiny Watford—Baltimore, MD, USAIn a community whose environmental rights had long been sidelined to make room for heavy industry, Destiny Watford inspired residents of a Baltimore neighborhood to defeat plans to build the nation’s largest incinerator less than a mile away from her high school. (Her organization: Free Your Voice)
  • Luis Jorge Rivera Herrera—Puerto Rico: Luis Jorge Rivera Herrera helped lead a successful campaign to establish a nature reserve in Puerto Rico’s Northeast Ecological Corridor—an important nesting ground for the endangered leatherback sea turtle—and protect the island’s natural heritage from harmful development. (His organization: Coalition for the Northeast Ecological Corridor)
  • Máxima Acuña—Peru: A subsistence farmer in Peru’s northern highlands, Máxima Acuña stood up for her right to peacefully live off her own property, a plot of land sought by Newmont and Buenaventura Mining to develop the Conga gold and copper mine. (More information at and EARTHWORKS)
  • Leng Ouch—Cambodia: In one of the most dangerous countries in the world for environmental activists, Leng Ouch went undercover to document illegal logging in Cambodia and exposed the corruption robbing rural communities of their land, causing the government to cancel large land concessions. (His organization: Cambodia Human Rights Task Forces, CHRTF)
  • Edward Loure—Tanzania: Edward Loure led a grassroots organization that pioneered an approach that gives land titles to indigenous communities—instead of individuals—in northern Tanzania, ensuring the environmental stewardship of more than 200,000 acres of land for future generations. (His organization: Ujamaa Community Resource Team, UCRT)
  • Zuzana Caputova—Slovakia: A public interest lawyer and mother of two, Zuzana Caputova spearheaded a successful campaign that shut down a toxic waste dump that was poisoning the land, air and water in her community, setting a precedent for public participation in post-communist Slovakia. (Her organization: VIA IURIS)

Click on each recipient’s name to read a longer profile—and watch a brief, well-produced video—about each person’s remarkable efforts and achievements.

Here’s the video about Máxima Acuña of Peru:

Posts on Goldman Prize winners from previous years:


April 18, 2016
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A few months ago, I posted five TED talks on this blog. As promised, here’s another set of recommended TED talks given by knowledgeable and compelling speakers:

A Guerilla Gardener in South Central L.A. / Ron Finley

Why Climate Change is a Threat to Human Rights / Mary Robinson

The Green Boat: Reviving Ourselves in Our Capsized Culture (TEDxLincoln) / Mary Pipher

A Teacher Growing Green in the South Bronx / Stephen Ritz

Are Mushrooms the New Plastic? / Eben Bayer


Related post:  TED Talks to Watch (Part I)

And here are some other collections of environment-related TED talks:


February 12, 2016
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Online activism is sometimes disparagingly called “slacktivism.” While it’s true that more direct actions (e.g., phone calls, marches, protests, boycotts, face-to-face conversations, and personal letters) can sometimes be the most effective ways to effect change, online petitions and information-sharing through social media are essential parts of grassroots communication and participation these days. And well-crafted petitions that get a lot of signatures do get noticed by their recipients and can be very effective.

I often sign at least one or two online petitions a day. It only takes a couple of minutes, and I’ve been heartened to see that many of those past petition campaigns have been successful in effecting their intended changes.

takepart_logoIf you’re not already on the mailing list to get emails from the organizations and websites listed below, you might want to check some of them out. The first set of sites feature petitions that are focused primarily on environmental campaigns, while the second set have petitions on a variety of social, economic, environmental, and political causes. On a few of the sites (including Care2,, MoveOn, and The White House’s We the People site), you can also create your own petitions.

These sites are focused primarily on efforts in the United States. If you know of good environmental petition sites for other countries or international issues, please mention those in the Comments!

Note: This is not an endorsement of all of the petitions that appear or have appeared on these sites. While I have often found many of their petitions to be sound, I don’t necessarily agree with the opinions expressed in every petition from these sources.


Union of Concerned Scientists


League of Conservation Voters
Also look up your state-level LCV; for example, this is California’s LCV:

Sierra Club

The Rainforest Site / GreaterGood


Care2 / The Petition Site



CREDO Action


The White House’s “We the People” petition site
(You can filter the petitions by issue, or look at the most popular or most recent petitions.)

Courage Campaign  (for California)



January 15, 2016
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We post daily morsels of illuminating information and inspiration on The Green Spotlight’s Facebook Page. Anyone can view the page, even if you don’t have a Facebook account. But if you do have an account, we hope you’ll click on the page’s Like button (if you haven’t already “Liked” the page) and Share the page with your friends.

Please visit the Page to get a sense of the various topics that it covers. You are welcome to comment on the posts and we hope you’ll share some of our links. To make sure that Facebook will continue to show you our posts on your Facebook homepage/newsfeed, visit our page regularly and give a thumbs-up to (“Like”) your favorite posts.

Here’s a sampling of topics that we’ve highlighted on the page over the last few months:

  • Costa Rica now uses almost 100% renewable energy
  • Uruguay uses almost 95% clean energy
  • Aspen, CO, Burlington, VT, and Greensburg, KS use 100% renewables
  • San Diego plans to shift to 100% renewable energy
  • The island of Bonaire is switching to 100% renewables
  • Community solar for groups and neighborhoods
  • Ireland rules out fracking
  • COP21 Paris Climate Summit Commitments
  • CatalogChoice free junk-mail opt-out service
  • Organizations and Initiatives: Earthworks, Center for Environmental Health, Story of Stuff Project, Politifact,, Solar Ready Vets, Troops to Solar
  • Books: Voices of the Wild, The Heart of Sustainability
  • New films: Time to Choose, Racing Extinction, Medicine of the Wolf, Last Days of Ivory
  • Quotations, photos, graphics, cartoons, etc.

December 28, 2015
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