resource listing

photo by Erica Gies

photo by Erica Gies

Trees are life enablers and life protectors. They are air cleaners and oxygen makers, making it possible for us to breathe (i.e., live). They mitigate climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide; one tree can sequester up to 50 pounds of CO2 per year, and an acre of forest can absorb twice the CO2 produced by the average car’s annual mileage. Trees also filter some pollutants out of the water and soil, and they can prevent or control flooding. They provide habitat to many species. They provide shade (natural cooling, which reduces energy use for AC cooling). Some trees provide food (fruit and nuts) for us to eat. Being near trees boosts our mental health and clarity. Their presence increases property values for homes and neighborhoods, and they contribute much-needed beauty to our world. So many benefits.

Despite all of the ways that trees contribute to (and are necessary for) our health and wellbeing, a recent study found that during the past 12,000 years of human civilization, humans have wiped out almost half of the trees on earth. Around 15 billion trees are cut down each year (to make wood products, pulp, and paper, and to clear land for cattle grazing, palm oil plantations, other agricultural uses, and development). (Click here for other Forest Facts.) We are destroying our own life support system. We are also losing millions of trees to drought in some areas, and also to the growing number of severe wildfires, which are both worsened by climate change and simultaneously contributing to climate change through additional carbon emissions, in a vicious cycle (AKA a feedback loop).23208221_10155936458843007_9218184974786625536_n

We need to prevent deforestation, and also to reforest and regreen our world. We can start with our own yards, gardens, fields, or towns. Plant a tree, or two or three!

[NOTE: If you celebrate Christmas and you traditionally mark the occasion with a cut-down (i.e., killed) xmas tree, how about starting a new tradition: you could get a living (potted and replantable) tree instead (do a web search for the words “living Christmas trees” or “live xmas trees” and your county name to see if there are places near you that offer these; or just go get a live, plantable tree from a nursery). Alternatively, you could put ornaments or lights on a tree that’s already growing in your yard. Or get creative and make a wreath or a table/mantle decoration from evergreen trimmings, and forego having an xmas tree at all (gasp!). In a climate crisis (which is what we are in now), and with millions of trees being destroyed by wildfires, drought, and deforestation every year, I think it’s entirely fair and appropriate to question some traditions (such as our Great Annual Xmas Tree Massacre) and start up some new ones. Don’t you? Regardless of what you choose to do for Christmas, you can always make a donation to a reforestation group or a local tree-planting group. You will find a partial list of organizations below.]

You can also have a tree planted in someone’s name (e.g., “adopt” or “sponsor” a tree in their honor) as a gift for Christmas or any other occasion—through groups like the Arbor Day Foundation, Cool Earth, Trees for a Change, Redwood Forest Foundation, etc.

imagesfscOne good way to reduce extreme deforestation (the clear-cutting of forests) is to look for FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified wood and paper products, as well as Rainforest Alliance-certified products (see logos to the right)—and of course reduce, reuse, and recycle all forest/paper products.

Earlier this year, 1.5 million volunteers planted a record 66 million trees in 12 hours in the state of Madhya Pradesh in India. Other groups are starting to use drones to plant seeds or saplings, to reforest areas much more quickly and efficiently than can be done by hand (there have been articles on this in Fast Company and Wired magazine, among other publications). Note: Climate- and site-appropriate (native or adapted) trees should be selected when planting trees. And forests should not be planted over native, wild grasslands, which also sequester carbon.

There are many anti-deforestation efforts as well as local tree-planting and global reforestation organizations around the world, including:

Also check out these online tools:

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December 6, 2017
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We have published numerous posts that provide listings of various type of non-profit* groups (related to specific topics and issues), so we thought we’d provide an index of all of them to make them easy to find. Many of the groups that we’ve mentioned in our posts are based in the United States, but some are international organizations and a few are focused on other countries:

In the near future, we will be adding more organization listings, including anti-nuclear groups, Canadian environmental groups, midwestern environmental groups, wildlife protection/conservation and domestic animal protection groups, and others.

* NOTE: Not all of the organizations mentioned in the above posts are 501(c)(3) non-profits. If you want to know whether you would be eligible to get a tax deduction for your donation to an organization, please check with each organization.

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November 21, 2017
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Listed below are some of the posts on The Green Spotlight that include information related to sustainable land use,  e.g., land conservation and stewardship, sustainable agriculture and permaculture, regenerative and restorative land use, sustainable home/homestead and neighborhood planning and development, and resilience. Links to other resources (organizations and websites) on these topics are also provided, at the bottom of this post.

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Also see our selection of Quotations for Gardeners, Farmers, and Others on Mother Earth News.

 

Other relevant resources:

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May 30, 2017
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Part I: Action Lists, Groups, Online Tools, and Other Resources

Many of us are seeking effective ways to take action, to counteract, offset, mitigate, neutralize, resist, and fight the impending damage that will be done by members of the DT/Pence Administration and their attempts to corrupt and dismantle U.S. democracy. Many of us recognize that “business as usual,” the status quo, and complacency aren’t going to cut it anymore. We need to redouble our efforts, go beyond the edge of our comfort zones, take some giant leaps, speak out, refuse to accept the unacceptable—to “be the change we wish to see in the world,” and become our own heroes, rather than expecting other people to step forward and save us.

To get through these dark times without losing our minds, we need to make it a regular practice to take care of ourselves and find constructive ways to cope, and also to offer and request support from our friends and loved ones. We have to recognize that we are not alone; we are all muddling through this together. But in addition—to maintain our self-respect and act as compassionate humans and citizens—we should also find some way(s) to support and protect people from vulnerable and targeted groups, and to protest and take positive actions within our neighborhood or community, our town or state, and our country and world.

sleeping giantsIn the next couple of months, I will be adding a list of several specific steps and actions that you can take (in Part II, a separate post). In the meantime, please check out the existing tools and resources listed below. They include action lists, action campaigns, guides, articles, advice; as well as a list of trusted news sources; key organizations; people to follow online; and tools for staying sane and fostering hope.

Don’t feel obligated to explore all of these links. Just check out a few at a time; select a couple of them to follow or participate in, and if those end up not feeling useful to you after you’ve spent some time with them, pick a couple of other sites or groups (from this list or elsewhere) to follow or join. Note: I have not done a thorough vetting of all of these sites yet, so cannot vouch for every single one (and am not endorsing them), but I put a couple of my favorites in bold type. I’ll be adding more links regularly, as I discover new ones.

Useful articles

News sources

It’s important that those who can pay something for real journalism actually do so, so that real news outlets can survive and not be entirely driven out by the world of profit-driven, sensationalist media (and “fake news” or lie-spreading, non-journalistic websites). Choose at least one legitimate (truth-seeking, fact-checking, investigative) news source to subscribe to (as a paid subscriber), to show your support and to help keep them afloat. We can’t expect competent journalists and writers to work for free, and we don’t want them to be reliant solely on their major advertisers, who might expect publications to alter (or censor) their content to serve the advertisers’ special interests. Here are a few media sources that, to date, have regularly produced sound, informative reporting:

Key organizations

Here are some suggestions of the types of local, state, national, or international organizations that you might want to consider donating to, becoming a member of, or getting actively involved with.

Environmental:

Your state’s League of Conservation Voters; local and statewide renewable energy or climate initiatives (e.g., California’s Center for Climate Protection); local land conservation groups (e.g. a Land Trust in your county or region) and local habitat/wildlife protection groups;  Earthjustice, NRDC, Center for Biological Diversity, 350.org, Indigenous Environmental Network, Nuclear Information & Resource Service, Bold Alliance (Bold Iowa, Bold Nebraska, Bold Louisiana, Bold Oklahoma), Nature Conservancy, Earthworks, Greenpeace, Vote Solar, GRID Alternatives, Union of Concerned Scientists, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Fossil Free, WeForest, Rural Renewable Energy Alliance, The Greening of Detroit

Societal:

Local food banks, shelters, homeless/housing groups, child abuse prevention and foster care organizations, non-profit health clinics and mental health services, education groups, senior services and veterans services groups; ACLU (including state chapters), SPLC, Teaching Tolerance, National Lawyers Guild, Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, VoteVets.org, Common Cause, PFAW, Children’s Defense Fund, NARAL, Planned Parenthood (including your state’s group or a PP in a “red” state), Population Institute, Global Zero, Ploughshares Fund, VerifiedVoting, Carter Center, International Rescue Committee, UN Refugee Agency, Center for Media and Democracy, International Center on Nonviolent Conflict (ICNC), Compassion & Choices, Meals on Wheels, MoveOn, Emily’s List, and California’s Courage Campaign; Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC), DSCC, DCCC, and Democratic Governors Association; Animal Legal Defense Fund, International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), International Anti-Poaching Foundation (IAPF), SPCA.  (Also see the groups listed in the bulleted list near the top of the post.)

Also, if you grew up in or currently live in a Republican-governed or Republican-leaning state or county (or a low-income state or county) and you have the means, please consider donating to (or volunteering for) local organizations in your home state or hometown that will help protect people there (and their health and their land/water/environment) from the state or local government’s regressive policies. And consider getting involved in your local Democratic Party or other political organizing group.

Also see:

People to follow online

The people listed below have shown integrity, courage, intelligence, and/or leadership in their writings and their actions. Some are names you may already be familiar with, and others probably aren’t. While I don’t always agree with everything these individuals say or have said, I have often found their commentary to be informative or interesting. I will probably add more people to this list (and maybe remove some) over time. Take a look at what these individuals are saying on social media, and consider following some of their pages:

Rebecca Solnit, Dan Rather, Robert Reich, Van Jones, Reverend Dr. Barber, Bill McKibben, Nicholas Kristof, John Pavlovitz, Lawrence Lessig, Ari Berman, Sarah Kendzior, Jason Kander, Jane Kleeb, Dallas Goldtooth, Antonia Juhasz, Laurence Tribe, Paul Krugman, Shaun King, Charles Blow, Nick Hanauer, Leah McElrath, Ian Milhiser, Sherilynn Ifill, Tony Schwartz, Mark Ruffalo

It’s also important to support and praise principled conservatives with a conscience, whenever they speak up for democracy and civil rights, challenge the DT Administration or the GOP leadership, and show compassion. A few conservatives who have shown that they have a backbone and think for themselves include:
Evan McMullin, David Frum, David Brooks, John Weaver, Andrew Sullivan, Colin Powell, Ana Navarro, John Dean, Chris Suprun, and Charlie Sykes. (Even some right-wingers like Bill Kristof, Peggy Noonan, and George Will have spoken out against DT.)

And Republican politicians (current and former) who have sometimes spoken out against DT and who periodically demonstrate that they have a backbone or a conscience include: John McCain, John Kasich, Jon Huntsman, Bill Weld, Mitt Romney, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and the Bushes.

 

Tools for staying sane / retaining and creating hope

Try not to let yourself get so overwhelmed that you become paralyzed by the depth and breadth of the challenges and the many different ways there are to be of service to your community and world. Start by identifying one or two specific ways that you are most able to be involved (or groups to get involved in), and dedicate yourself to those. Pick something to do each day or each week or at least each month. Take sanity breaks when you need them, to avoid burnout, and you may find that you are gradually able to build your capacity over time. Regardless, the point is: Do something. Start where you are. Acknowledge your frustrations and the limitations of your individual impact, but remember that you are part of a widespread and growing, collective effort (even if other people’s efforts are not visible to you).

Here are a few resources for maintaining emotional balance, regaining perspective, or finding inspiration and motivation when you start to feel overwhelmed:

I have found that going for a long walk or a short hike can really help me regain the perspective that I need to move forward. What are some of your favorite strategies or readings for grounding or motivating yourself or coping with adversity?

Do take care of yourself, get enough sleep, and take a break when you need it, but never give up. Please never stop trying to make the world and our country a better place. And remember that you are not alone.

 

To be added soon:

  • Part II: Suggested actions to take
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January 13, 2017
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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 DT from getting elected. I’m not too proud to beg and plead. It’s not an overstatement to say that our future and the collective future of humanity and our planet will be significantly affected by the outcome of this election.

[Note: Several new links have been added in the weeks and months since this post was first published.]

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 to some of the election/voting groups listed above or groups such as:

Recommended articles:

“Voting isn’t a valentine. It’s a chess move.”
[In other words, your vote should be strategic; you don’t have to love the candidate or think she’s perfect.]
– Rebecca Solnit

“Our job is not to elect a savior. Our job is to elect someone we can effectively pressure.”
– Bill McKibben

 

Related posts:

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

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July 20, 2016
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These are a few notable books that have been published recently:halfearth

Half-Earth: Our Planet’s Fight for Life, by Edward O. Wilson

Our Only World, by Wendell Berry

Tools for Grassroots Activists: Best Practices for Success in the Environmental Movement, by Nora Gallagher and Lisa Myers

How Did We Get Into This Mess?: Politics, Equality, Nature, by George Monbiot

The Hour of Land, by Terry Tempest Williams

The Big Pivot: Radically Practical Strategies for a Hotter, Scarcer, and More Open World, by Andrew Winston

Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities, by Rebecca Solnit
(originally published in 2004; reissued in 2016 with a new foreword and afterword)

 

These are a few older books that are among my favorites:

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, by Barbara Kingsolver

Encounters with the Archdruid, by John McPhee

A Civil Action, by Jonathan Harr  (This story was also made into a major motion picture.)

And these are some environmental classics, which helped lay the foundation for the environmental movement and have inspired many environmental leaders and writers:

  • Silent Spring, by Rachel Carson
  • The Sea Around Us, by Rachel Carson
  • Small Is Beautiful: Economics As If People Mattered, by E.F. Schumacher
  • Sand County Almanac, by Aldo Leopold
  • Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, by Annie Dillard
  • Walden, by Henry David Thoreau
  • Desert Solitaire, by Edward Abbey

In addition to the authors already mentioned above, the following are some other key authors (in no particular order) who often write on topics related to sustainability and the natural environment. I recommend checking out their writings:

Elizabeth Kolbert, Bill McKibben, Bernie Krause, David Orr, Alan Weisman, David Suzuki, Sandra Steingraber, Janine Benyus, Gary Snyder, Amory Lovins, Frances Moore Lappe, Jane Goodall, Barry Lopez, Carl Safina, Mary Pipher, Robert D. Bullard, Joanna Macy, Wangari Maathai, Buckminster Fuller, Ray Anderson, Paul Hawken, William McDonough, David James Duncan, Rick Bass, and Andres Edwards.

Do you have a favorite eco-book or author to recommend?

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May 31, 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, Change.org, 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.

Earthjustice
http://earthjustice.org/action

Union of Concerned Scientists
http://www.ucsusa.org/action-center

350.org
http://350.org/campaigns

NRDC
http://www.nrdc.org/action

League of Conservation Voters
http://www.lcv.org/act
Also look up your state-level Conservation Voters group; for example, this is California’s LCV:
http://act.ecovote.org

Sierra Club
http://sierraclub.org/take-action
AddUp
https://www.addup.org

The Rainforest Site / GreaterGood
http://therainforestsite.greatergood.com/clickToGive/trs/take-action

 

TakePart
http://takeaction.takepart.com

SumOfUs
http://sumofus.org

Change.org
https://www.change.org/petitions

Care2 / The Petition Site
http://www.thepetitionsite.com

CREDO Action
http://credoaction.com

MoveOn
http://petitions.moveon.org

The White House’s “We the People” petition site
https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petitions
[2017 UPDATE: The new Administration may currently be dismantling this webpage, or might not respond to any petitions.]

Courage Campaign  (for California)
http://couragecampaign.org/take-action

 

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January 15, 2016
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Green Business is one of this blog’s main content categories. The following are some of the business-related posts that have been published on The Green Spotlight:

Green products are one subset of the green business category. The following are a few of our posts related specifically to green products:

Additional posts on sustainable business topics will be published on the blog in coming months. Check back for more.

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April 26, 2015
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Ever since Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring was published in 1962 (sparking people’s awareness of health threats from chemicals, and leading to the ban on DDT 10 years later), an array of scientific studies have shown that various toxic chemicals and pollutants—in our air, water, soil, food, yards, indoor environments (homes, schools, and workplaces), and household and personal products—are causing or contributing to a myriad of public health problems. Such problems Basic RGBrange from asthma, allergies, headaches, and skin and respiratory conditions to serious reproductive/endocrine (hormone) problems, neurological problems (including learning disorders and lower IQ), birth defects, infertility, heart conditions, and many types of cancers. Recent studies have also linked chemical exposure to diabetes and obesity. Children and babies are particularly vulnerable to toxins, including through pre-natal exposures. And people in certain occupations (such as janitors, farm workers, nail and hair salon staff, housekeepers, auto mechanics, and some factory workers)—who have jobs in which they are regularly exposed to a stew of toxic chemicals—suffer from higher rates of certain health conditions than the general population.

Unfortunately, many toxic chemicals remain virtually unregulated, and existing regulations are not adequately enforced. Most products and chemicals that are used in products are considered “innocent until proven guilty;” they are assumed to be safe until it’s proven that they’re dangerous. But even when there is strong scientific evidence of the toxicity and harmfulness of certain substances, they are not always banned—or it can take many years of battles to get them banned. Known, probable, and suspected carcinogens and other harmful chemicals are in products that we all use every day. The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) is the main chemical safety law in the U.S., but it is weak and outdated; it desperately needs to be updated and strengthened, but some members of Congress are currently trying to weaken it further, putting the profit interests of the chemical industry over public health.

A few of the most toxic chemicals/elements, many of which are still commonly found in products, CradletoCradleCertified-NoLevelinclude: mercury, lead, arsenic, benzene, formaldehyde, PVC (poly-vinyl chloride—dioxin is a by-product), phthalates (plasticizers), flame retardants (PBDEs, TDCP, TCEP), cadmium, chromium, hexane, PFCs, trichlorethylene (TCE), and asbestos. And there are many other toxic chemicals and ingredients. See the Cradle to Cradle product certification’s Banned Lists of Chemicals.

Bear in mind that chemicals and pollutants that have negative effects on human health usually have (even worse) negative effects on other species (pets, wildlife, fish, etc.) and on environmental health overall. Our air and water and soil are shared resources, and all living things depend on them for their survival and health. Some of the worst chemicals are classified as PBTs: Persistent, Bioaccumulative, and Toxic; these are toxic chemicals that are known to persist in the environment and bioaccumulate in people and/or wildlife (increasing in concentration as they go up the food chain).

All public health—and especially preventive health—efforts should start focusing on reducing environmental (and fetal) exposures to toxins, which means minimizing the production of toxins and pollutants at their source. The World Health Organization estimates that outdoor air pollution alone causes 7 million premature deaths (of humans) each year. If something else were killing that many people, it would be considered a public health epidemic.

The following organizations focus on health issues related to environmental exposures to toxins. Visit their websites to learn more about their efforts and ways that you can get involved:

Center for Environmental Health 

Collaborative on Health and the Environment logo-ewc2

EWG (Environmental Working Group)

Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families

Silent Spring Institute

Coming Cleanschf_logo_site

Physicians for Social Responsibility

The Endocrine Disruption Exchange (TEDX)

EPA’s Safer Choice product label

EPA’s Green Chemistry information

HealthyStuff.org

Union of Concerned Scientists

Several other broad-based sustainability organizations—including Earthjustice, EDF, Greenpeace, and NRDC—also address health and toxics issues, among other issues.

Among the many types of toxins that many people are exposed to on a regular basis, some of the worst sources include: power plant emissions, and other oil, coal, and gas industry inputs, by-products, and emissions (including fracking chemicals/waste); nuclear radiation; pesticides, insecticides, and herbicides (including atrazine, chlorpyrifos, and Roundup/glyphosate); building materials, finishes, furnishings, and furniture; electronics (manufacturing and disposal hazards); cleaning products and solvents; and everyday personal care products (e.g., shampoo and other hair products, sunscreen, toothpaste, nail polish, etc.).

These groups are working to reduce harmful exposures to chemicals from the following, specific sources:

Pesticides / food:

Nuclear radiation:

Building materials:

Interior products (and building materials and electronics):

Electronics / tech:

Healthcare:

Cosmetics:

 

Books and Films

Living Downstream (book and film; book written by Sandra Steingraber)

No Family History (book and film; book written by Sabrina McCormick)

Other recent films on topics related to health, toxins, and the environment include: The Human Experiment, Unacceptable Levels, Toxic Hot Seat, The Atomic States of America, Hot Water, Blue Vinyl, and A Will for the Woods. You can find links to these and other films via the following posts:

 

Other health-related posts:

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March 16, 2015
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