DSCN4570Like most beach communities, Martha’s Vineyards population swells in the summer. Renters descend and take advantage of MV’s beautiful setting.  ”Seasonal residents and tourists flock to the Island to bask and hike on its beaches, swim in its waters, catch and eat local fish and shellfish, and go boating on its sparkling bays”, reads The Island Blue Pages, a “phonebook” published by concerned locals wanting to education everyone on the Island about this vulnerable treasure. The Island Blue Pages is only a phonebook in such that every household on the Island received one free, with hopes that it would remain a guide for year round residents and everyone visiting the Island. Yes, there is a list of phone numbers in its reference material, but mostly the book is a wonderful guide to the islands watersheds, sound water usage, and waste management. It even includes a “12 Step” program for “Dream Lawn Addicts” that guides homeowners and business to make smart pesticide free, water conscience lawn care choices.

The idea for The Island Blue Pages ruminated in biologist and director of Martha’s Vineyard Shellfish Group Inc. Rick Karney’s mind for years. Each time he visited a hatchery or community near water, he picked up packets of information regarding best practices for the community around water usage and sustainable living. It was the Puget Sound Blue Pages that stood out as the most comprehensive and user friendly of any of the publications that he had seen. With funding through an EPA grant awarded to the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) and keen editing by Amandine Surier from Martha’s Vineyard Shellfish Group, The Island Blue Pages relied on local full time residence of the Vineyard to author each chapter making this a true community conservation effort.

Amandine Surier and Rick Karney

Amandine Surier and Rick Karney

The unique layout of The Island Blue Pages appeals to all ages.  The graphic are simple enough to engage a child but not “kid-ish” enough to turn off a teen. The layout is easy to navigate and engaging with enough science to satisfy the well versed hobby conservationist.  The Island Blue Pages is tailored to Martha’s Vineyard specifically by including local stories and maps, but any community could adapt a version to represent its own environmental concerns.Graphic from The Island Blue Pages

This wonderful reference book with tips on gardening, septic tanks, and boating includes a section about marine animals called “Vineyard Neighbor.” It should be poured over, updated regularly and passed from generation to generation.

Graphic from Island Blue Pages

A cool reusable cold cup from crunchybeachmama.com

A cool reusable cold cup from crunchybeachmama.com

Reusable cups are not only for hot drinks. Bring your own cup on the road this summer so that when you stop for that iced drink, you can be satisfied that you are not adding another plastic tumbler and straw to the landfill. Plastic is forever. It breaks down and seeps into our waterways, is eaten by wildlife and in turn eaten by us.  Be cool, be responsible. There are tons of options out there. Here are just a few fun and economical choices for cool drink containers:

http://www.starbucksstore.com/drinkware/cold-cups,default,sc.html

http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/store/product/o2cool-reg-20-ounce-insulated-mason-jar-beverage-cup/1040814957

http://www.reuseit.com/travel-mugs-and-cups/dci-iced-coffee-cup-16-oz-eco-cup-on-ice.htm

Activist Abby in field Some time after the W2O event “Plastics in the Ocean, Plastics in You,” I remember stumbling upon information about Abby Goldberg, better known in the conservation world and on her Facebook page as “Activist Abby.”  I was so impressed to find out that this then 13 year old had gathered 174,000 signatures to protest a bill that would block the introduction of bans of single use plastic bags in the Illinois legislature.

Abby cleaning up on Earth Day 2014

Abby cleaning up on Earth Day 2014

Abby lives in a small picturesque town north of Chicago where her neighbors meet during summer at a lake for swimming and recreation. She is an avid horse back rider and would like to someday study marine biology. She says that when she was in seventh grade, she was spurred into action by a school project called “CP” or “Culminating Project.”  She choose plastic bags as her topic because she lives less than a mile from a landfill and sees plastic bags on the local beach and hiking trails.  She feels like they “go mostly unnoticed” by her community and friends. She thought she would introduce a plastic bag ban in her town. Area petroleum and chemical manufacturing companies countered with a different plan. After some research and with help from her family and environmental groups, Abby made it her mission to collect signatures to protest the bill that they introduced and that she thought would make banning single use plastic bags give way to “down cycling.” She knows that plastic is forever. After all her hard work, her meeting with then Governor Quinn to present him with the signed petition made national news and helped to convince him to veto the bill.Abby and bags at table

Recently, Chicago, just south of Abby’s town, passed a bill to ban single use plastic bags that will go into effect in August of 2015. Abby will be watching and working to spread the word to the rest of the state of Illinois. She won’t stop there, though. Abby would like everyone everywhere to ban single use plastic.

“Activist” Abby is the perfect name for this articulate now 14 year old high school student with thousands of new “friends” sharing an important message about refusing single use plastic. She is an inspiration!  Take her advice: “You’re never too young (or old) to make a difference.”

 

World Ocean Day, a Canadian tradition since 1992, was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2008, to honor the oceans importance and bring awareness to its vulnerabilities.  Coordinated by The Ocean Project and World Ocean Network, (and growing in prominence each year with their efforts,)  this year’s theme is “Together we can protect our ocean.” 

Come on down to the New England Aquarium on World Ocean Day, June 8th, and share memories of your favorite oceans experiences and adventures with W2O. Check out the fun, kid friendly, educational booths set up by the NEAQ-it is free and open to the public.WOD 13 "I love the Ocean"

This time of year, some of us that live in urban areas are enjoying spring preparations for our garden and lawns. With this privilege comes responsibility to our blue planet.

Photo: thegardeningblog.com

Photo: thegardeningblog.com

Run off from our lawn flows directly into what Tufts University’s Institute of the Environment calls the “three giant watersheds” comprising of streams, rivers and lakes that flow into the sea: ”Watersheds can be nested one inside the other. For example, the United States could be divided into three giant watersheds: one to the west of the Rocky Mountains that drains into the Pacific Ocean, one to the east of the Appalachian Mountains that drains into the Atlantic Ocean, and one in between those two that drains into the Gulf of Mexico. However, within each one of these watersheds, there are many watersheds that drain into rivers and smaller bodies of water.”

So what are your plans for a healthy beautiful, pesticide free garden this spring? On her website for the Great Healthy Yard Project,  Dr. Diane Lewis explains why using pesticides can be bad for our own health as well as the health of our wildlife, planet and oceans. Read her blog, listen to her mission and take The Pledge to garden pesticide free because, as she states, it’s “Our yards, our children, our responsibility.” Protect what you love. Garden pesticide free for healthy oceans and a healthy you.

 

 

MTSOfan:Flicker of bagsChicago is poised to be the next US city to implement a bill that would ban single use plastic bags in large retail outlets.  It’s not perfect, some say, but it is a step in the right direction. On NPR today, San Francisco’s spokesman from the Dept. of the Environment, Guillermo Rodrigues, reminded us of the baby steps taken by San Francisco before a wider and finally, a complete ban on single use plastic bags. It took three steps which started with a bill similar to the current Chicago bag bill and over the course of a couple of years, with three amendments, banned single use plastic bags altogether.  San Francisco had the same reservations about the ban that Chicago retailers are voicing now: higher costs and loss of jobs due to the bag ban. But NPR found out that “Those are all concerns that San Francisco dealt with when it became the first major city in the country to issue a plastic bag ban in 2007.”  According to Mr. Rodrigues, retailers are not complaining.  He says that the main issue turned out to be that retailers didn’t want to deliver the “bad” news to customers. To smooth the transition, San Francisco put an aggressive education campaign in place to support the retail community by delivering a compelling message about how single use plastic pollutes, causes health risks and costs taxpayer money from cleanups. “We haven’t heard from retailers that it is a economic loss for them,” says Rodrigues.

 

Celine Cousteau tweeted  yesterday, Earth Day, (and it is one of those rare tweets that stay in your head because she, as usual, just nails it),”"Ahh, Earth-every Day!!” I see it as a call to really appreciate, take a long look around, reflect gratefully and step up to the plate with some action.

Gina McCarthy, US EPA Administrator, also gave us a live sound bite that resonates still; “Your turn, your turn, pick it up!” She was encouraging the ClimaTeens, a group of Boston area teens, volunteering and learning at the New England Aquarium, that have been taking action and will encourage the community “to join a citywide effort to reduce carbon emissions called Greenovate Boston”.

ClimaTeens at the New England Aquarium

ClimaTeens at the New England Aquarium

 

Yes, every day should be earth day…”Ahh, Earth-every Day!!” sounds about right… and it is your turn!  Take some action!

 

 

A collective sigh could be heard from W2O when the U.N. Climate Panel published their findings today. At first glance, it seems like the same old doom and gloom story. It might be easy to throw up our hands and feel helpless when the news is so dire about what is referred to in a New York Times summation of the findings as “the profound risks in coming decades.”  But the article also offers hope, “Not only is there still time to head off the worst, but the political will to do so seems to be rising around the world.”

At W2O’s recent event Women emPowered: Leading the Future of Clean and Efficient Energy at the New England Aquarium, our assembled experts echoed feeling hopeful about energy options and about how we can be a part of the growing moment to protect our planet, oceans and health by educating others about how to curb emissions.

“Think about how over air conditioned your office is, how cold your hotel room is when checking in on a hot day and lights your kids-or you-don’t bother turning off. Energy efficiency is about the supply we can avoid buying,” according to Massachusetts Dept. of Utilities Chair Ann Berwick.

And women are at the center of that hope. “Women are driving the choices. They are the decision makers,” Tom King, Executive Dir. and President of National Grid USA offered. Home energy usage is one of the leading contributors to climate change. “But if you don’t know how much energy you are using”, commented Kateri Callahan, President of the Alliance to Save Energy, “how can you make a change?”  Signing up for an energy audit to find out your energy usage might be a good place to start because, according to This Old House’s Kevin O’Connor, “customers care about cost, comfort and convenience.”    Says Callahan, “Legislation for climate change may not be soon but the sweet spot on the hill is energy efficiency.”  Callahan recommends taking further action by writing in favor of the Shaheen-Portman energy bill which supports investment for innovative energy efficient solutions.

Ann Berwick wants us to take a closer, more analytical look at the data that tells us that hope lies in renewable energy sources. Her slide, included here, focuses on off shore wind because “although it comes with enormous challenges, and is expensive-no getting away from that- its nowhere near as expensive as the failure to address climate change. It is scalable to an extent that other renewable resources simply are not”. The Wall Street Journal quotes the Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Rajendra Pachauri, as saying “Analyzing the costs and benefits of mitigation is a “complicated question,” but warned against putting a dollar value on the loss of human lives, ecosystems, oceans and marine life threatened by climate change. ”The affordability question has to be seen in what will happen if we don’t take these steps,” Mr. Pachauri said.

Ann Berwick concluded at our event; “Given the current state of technology, no renewable resource can match off shore wind in terms of the potential size of the suppy and accessibility-right off our coast. It’s expensive, but it’s pay now or pay a lot more later.”

Take Action!

Kevin O'Connor, Kateri Callahan, Tom King and Ann Berwick (photo: David Parnes)

Kevin O’Connor, Kateri Callahan, Tom King and Ann Berwick (photo: David Parnes)

 

 

Photo of flooding in Bangladesh courtesy of The Melbourne Age

Photo of flooding in Bangladesh courtesy of The Melbourne Age

Climate Change is in the news every day. It means different things to different people.  Here in New England, it means that we are concerned about the rising water temperature and the melting of the polar ice caps causing flooding of our coastal cities and properties. In some parts of the rest of the world it means so much more. The rising temperature of the earth and oceans is caused by human’s burning of fossil fuels (coal, oil, gas) that emits carbon dioxide into the atmosphere “thickening” the blanket of heat trapping gases that in turn warm the planet. It is expected that these warming earth and ocean temperatures will most precipitously hurt the poorest of nations.  Today’s New York Times article, talks about Bangladesh in particular that “produces just 0.3 percent of the emissions driving climate change.”  Bangladesh and other developing nations in coastal areas will lose their homes completely, forcing them to relocate and are referred in the article as “climate migrants.”  Connecting the dots on climate change is pretty easy. The United States and other wealthy nations are the largest polluters and contributors of climate change. We have a responsibility to curb our own emissions for the future and health of all nations.

Next week, W2O will host, along with the New England Aquarium, Women emPowered: Leading the future of clean and efficient energy. Come learn about what you can do in your own home and workplace to curb harmful emissions that contribute to this global issue. Every action, big or small can help. 

 

Kevin Connor courtesy of This Old House

courtesy of This Old House

 

Kevin O’Connor, host of This Old House, thinks seriously about customer satisfaction. When it come to contractors suggesting fancy ways to save on energy costs, he worries about big promises that are under delivered. “People want home energy efficient options that are easy to obtain, economical and bring results. Suggestions for energy efficient upgrades should be practical, feasible solutions.  The worst thing is when clients are bamboozled into buying something that is expensive and doesn’t live up to expectations,” says O’Connor

Don’t be bamboozled! Come hear Kevin at W2O’s April 8th event Women emPowered: Leading the future of clean and efficient energy and hear how you can easily and affordably  curb emissions that contribute to climate change by making some smart, energy saving choices in your home.  Every small change makes a big different to our health and the health of our oceans!