Let’s Talk Zero Waste For Our Blue Planet

By | Action today, Climate Action, Sustainable Living, Uncategorized, W2O Blog, Zero Waste

Have you thought about joining the “zero waste” movement? What does “zero waste” actually mean? At W2O we are keen to make sure that this term and its peer-reviewed accepted definition is on everyone’s lips.

Zero Waste: “The conservation of all resources by means of responsible production, consumption, reuse, and recovery of products, packaging, and materials without burning and with no discharges to land, water, or air that threaten the environment or human health.”

Last updated December 20th, 2018 by ZWIA.org

Now that you have changed your individual habits and cut down on single-use plastic, its time to move towards bold action collectively to ensure that we live in a circular economy without waste that ends up in our landfills and in our ocean. Zero waste moves beyond reusing and recycling to eliminate waste. Successful zero waste means that everyone from manufacturers to consumers must consider design, packaging, longevity, and end of life usage. From the conception of an idea straight through a product’s life cycle, zero waste aims to make sure that manufacturers are accountable for the sustainability of their products and that we become more thoughtful about our purchases, shifting us away from the current “throwaway” model that has been so prevalent in the last several years. The goal of zero waste is to make sure that no trash is sent to a landfill, is incinerated or ends up in our ocean.

On October 10th, join Women Working for Oceans and Conservation Law Foundation for a special event, The Truth About Plastics, It’s Time for Zero Waste, to learn more about zero waste and how you can become part of this movement.

 

 

Armed for Ocean Action

By | #ClimateStrikeMa, Action today, Climate Action, Featured Post, Member Only Events, New England Aquarium, Uncategorized, W2O Blog, Youth

 

Back to school time brings a sense of renewed energy and commitment to everything ocean at W2O. The ocean is never on vacation and between pockets of enjoying all of its gifts, we have been engaging our members about solutions for protecting our blue planet.

News this summer of 8 deaths of New England’s critically endangered North Atlantic right whales left us saddened but forced us to really push the urgency of our work. At our whale “PODs,” small gatherings across New England, we outlined threats to right whales and learned more about why these iconic species are so important to the health of our ocean. W2O members also joined advocates in force to attend the NOAA public hearings to demand action on preventing entanglement from lobster and crab gear. Eighty percent of right whales have been entangled at least once, wrapping them in hundreds of pounds of gear that limits their ability to feed, often leading to death.  Along with ship strikes, entanglement is one of the leading causes of whale deaths.

A team attempting to free a right whale from entanglement. The grapple with the control line is thrown. Photo from the Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life. Photo credit: CWRT/CWI

 

Thank you for helping us speak up for this important work of protecting the North Atlantic right whale. Stay tuned for more information about PODs you can attend in your neighborhood. As W2O heads to DC this October to push for more funding, research and enhanced protection, we need your voice! 

Heading into the fall, W20’s focus will be on plastic pollution. The feedback from our 2011 event, “Plastic in the Ocean, Plastic in You” set the tone for our members to make meaningful change in their communities and personally refuse single-use plastic.  Now plastic pollution has become a global conversation and we are at a tipping point for our ocean’s health. This year we will tackle the bigger picture of plastic pollution by taking a deep dive look into recycling, the concepts of consumer/manufacturer responsibility, zero waste, and the link of plastic production to petroleum and climate change.

With the climate and the ocean now joining the top of the list of voter’s concerns, we will be side by side promoting the amazing efforts of our next generation ocean lovers by supporting efforts like the #YouthClimateStrike and will be pushing for folks to register and vote for our blue planet. Follow us on twitter (@W2Oorg) and Instagram (@womenworkingforoceans) for more information. 

Let’s go! We have our work cut out for us. Interested in participating in our small educational member’s gatherings? Want to become an ocean advocate? Join W2O!  Good for you; good for our ocean.

Boston Back Bay POD September 12th

Youth Climate Strike (Boston and around the Globe) September 20th

Sign up to get out the vote with W2O and the Environmental Voter Project

 

 

Size Matters..Our Ocean: Too Big to Ignore

By | Climate Action, Featured Post, Uncategorized, W2O Blog

Women Working for Oceans (W2O) members joined our partners from the New England Aquarium in Washington DC this past week at the annual Capitol Hill Ocean Week (Chow) hosted by National Marine Sanctuary Foundation to learn about current ocean policy issues and visit with legislators.

Yes, we were reminded, size matters when it comes to protecting our blue planet. Our marine protected areas (MPAs) and ocean National Monuments provide habitat, act as nurseries and become underwater sea laboratories that enhance adaptability and resilience for our changing ocean. The bigger the protected area the better! These special places are the “yoga retreats” of the ocean; calm and nurturing, providing a pristine respite from stressors like ocean noise, entanglement, fishing, pollution, ship traffic, and other human-induced pressure that affect the health and wellbeing of all ocean animals. As ocean laboratories, Monuments and MPAs help scientist understand how climate change affects the rest of the planet, providing critical data on how species can thrive if left alone in an environment untouched by humans.

At Chow, Jane Lubchenco, former head of NOAA commented, “The oceans were once thought of as too big to fail. Now there is fear they are too big to fix. The ocean is central to our livelihood, so I say they are too big to ignore.” On a panel hosted by the Center for American Progress, Ms. Lubchenco along with NEAq President and CEO Vikki Spruill, and Kalani Quiocho, Native Hawaiian program specialist for the NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (ONMS) Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument stressed the importance of including climate change in the ocean dialogue.

Studies show that the ocean (including its wetlands, estuaries, seagrasses and other marine environments) helps remove carbon from the atmosphere through carbon sequestration. The conversation about protecting our ocean goes hand in hand with protecting our entire planet from climate change. The designation of more marine National Monuments (like the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts right on our doorstep here in New England,) and other marine protected areas is critical for defending the ocean that gives us our food, security and even the air we breathe. The ocean is too big to ignore.

Happy World Ocean Day!

Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument
Photo: OceanX

Extinction Is Not An Option: Protecting the Right Whale

By | Action today, Featured Post, New England Aquarium, Uncategorized, W2O Blog

Dr. Scott Kraus believes that until North Atlantic right whales find safer habitat it is our job to protect them. “Biology is on our side,” says Dr. Krause, “because right whales will live a long life if we leave them alone.”

Like most marine mammals, the right whale relies on sound to navigate, find a mate, feed, and migrate with offspring. Ocean noise is just one of the stressors that can contribute to their poor health.  “Imagine that the ocean is the right whale’s living room, dining room, and bedroom,” says Dr. Kraus describing how we have become unwelcome visitors introducing ocean noise, ship strikes, and entanglement to their home and bringing the right whale to the brink of extinction. “Human ocean activity is disrupting the whale’s existence and my team and I believe that extinction is not an option. Saving the right whale is important for saving our ocean.”

Dr. Kraus spoke to a group of about 300 at W2O’s event “On The Brink: Saving Our Right Whale, Saving Our Ocean and shared his experiences learning from these animals. As Vice President, Chief Scientist and Senior Science Advisor at the Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life at the New England Aquarium, Dr. Kraus has been studying right whales for nearly 40 years. Of the remaining 400 right whales, most have been entangled in strong ropes used by the fishing industry to lift gear off of the ocean floor. Entanglement puts enormous stress on these animals causing a decline in breading and birth rates and often leads to death. Now alternative strategies for using whale friendlier fishing gear are being developed and there is an increased awareness of how important whales, which bring nutrients to all marine life, are to the entire food chain. These animals are the “canary in the coal mine” of our ocean and their fight for life is a reminder to all of us that we need a healthy ocean for a healthy planet.

Find out ways you can help save the North Atlantic right whale HERE

Meet Ocean Spirit Award Winner Bonnie Combs

By | Climate Action, Events, Featured Post, In the News, New England Aquarium, New England Aquarium, Sustainable Living, W2O Blog

Meet Bonnie Combs, our 2019 Ocean Spirit Award winner! Bonnie lives in Blackstone, a small Massachusetts community on the border of Rhode Island. Her journey to ocean conservation started years ago with a love of food and continues today with big ideas that exemplify how an army of one can influence two states and multiple communities, inspiring them to join the fight to protect our blue planet. When Bonnie tells her story, it’s best to have a map of Massachusetts and Rhode Island on hand! Her life has crisscrossed these borders and each state could claim her as their own ocean hero.

Bonnie’s motto is “be the change you wish to see” and believes everyone can make a difference when it comes to saving the planet. “Some people are just too shy or scared but I say if you just try and get out there, you never know how your efforts might make a difference,” she muses. Always a nature lover, Bonnie had her awakening to conservation while working as a chef at Whole Foods and was drawn into the company’s sustainability mission becoming Community Relations Team Leader. This work, in locations in MA and RI, became her conservation training ground and solidified her interest in working locally to spread the message that you too can choose healthy for your family and in turn, make our world a better place.

Bonnie is often using her skills as a trained chef to make sustainable meals or is firing up her sewing machine, stitching up t-shirts for reusable bags, sewing remnant fabric for cutlery wraps and repurposing animal feed bags. A creative energetic change maker, Bonnie is regularly organizing river and beach clean-ups across both MA and RI, teaching folks how to reuse and repurpose everyday materials to mitigate waste, and sharing her talents with the community by empowering others to learn how to make creative choices when it comes to refusing single-use plastic pollution.

Her life is bursting with community activism and her reach is wide. As Marketing Director at the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor, Inc, she has developed and designed the Trash Responsibly and Fish Responsibly campaigns, making sure that waste and monofilament fishing line is recycled properly. A co-worker and volunteer coordinator of the Corridor, Suzanne Buchanan, describes Bonnie’s enthusiasm for her conservation work as contagious. “People stop by to donate feed bags for repurposing and you would think that she is being given a bouquet of flowers given her outburst of joy and the hugs that follows,” says Suzanne. “Bonnie is generous above and beyond as she gathers people together to think about their consumption and choices. She can’t go to bed until she has filled up a trash bag on one of her walks and on those walks she is stopping for conversations, inspiring others to join in.” Suzanne adds, “She makes me a better person and I am not the only one that would say that.”

Bonnie loves networking, outreach and the community participation in the building of a movement. She thinks big! Her newest project takes this concept on, literally. Bonnie is currently a “3D Resident Local Artist” at the Providence citywide public art initiative, The Avenue Concept, collecting a rainbow of plastic containers from across Rhode Island for an enormous public sculpture that will be assembled and constructed on site by famed New York artist Steven Siegel. The entire structure will be assembled from plastic waste including laundry jugs and personal and household cleaning products. The sculpture will be held together by discarded fishing nets and Bonnie hopes the art will spark discussions about how to protect marine life from entanglement and keep plastic pollution out of our waterways and ocean.

“The ocean to me (blending my passion for the environment and cooking) is the soup of life,” says Bonnie. “We all play a part in the recipe. If we want a well balanced, healthy and life-sustaining soup, we need to change our mindset and think of our daily actions as ingredients. Are we adding too much to the soup? If ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’ we must be mindful of our individual impact and how collectively we all sit at the same table and share the same meal.”

Bonnie at The Avenue Concept

Congratulate Bonnie on May 21st at W2O’s On the Brink: Saving our Right Whale, Saving our Ocean. Bonnie will be presented the 2019 Ocean Spirit Award at this event that will educate the public about the endangered North Atlantic right whale. Find out how we can save this species, thought of as the “ocean’s canary in the coal mine,” and join us to take a closer look at how we can protect our blue planet. Click Here for Tickets!

 

 

 

 

 

Her Only Option: Youth #ClimateStrike

By | Action today, Climate Action, Featured Post, In the News, W2O Blog, Youth

High school senior Stephanie Kuplast from Southampton, Massachusetts tells us why organizing #ClimateStrike is her generation’s option for climate action. Stephanie joins a global movement of youth voices demanding that our elected officials make climate both a priority and bipartisan issue to save generations from the continued effects of human-induced climate and to protect what we love.

Coming to terms with my only option was not an easy path. As a young adult, learning about climate change has made my work in conservation infinitely more difficult, as every battle we win is dwarfed by the war we are quickly losing. I have volunteered at the National Marine Life Center for years, teaching a young crowd about seals, sea turtles, and whales. I know the tactics of rehabilitation and conservation work; I have borne witness to it. However, the work I love is nearly too depressing to continue.

Every single time I hear a 7-year-old leave our class declaring that she wants to be a marine biologist, my heart swells with pride knowing that I have helped another child love the ocean as I do. I can not feel that anymore; it is deeply painful to teach children to do so. Every summer there is a new generation of kids, and a new generation of sea turtles that face nearly insurmountable odds as the hot sand rearranges the ancient ratio for their temperature-dependent sex determination. I teach these kids to care and fight for the life of every single animal, knowing that after 150 million years of adaptation, now a few degrees threatens their entire existence.

I am a high school senior, a state organizer for Massachusetts Climate Strike, Women Working for Oceans member, and an ocean advocate. I can still remember the unbridled joy of meeting a horseshoe crab for the first time, and this curiosity has bred compassion that grows with every summer on Cape Cod. I fell in love with the ocean too soon to replace it with the apathy many are comfortable feeling as they discuss climate change.

I do not want to build a palatable movement.  My generation is desperate. Legislative inaction puts the world in a position to rise past the atmospheric threshold for carbon dioxide in 11 years.  This is not a problem we have 11 years to solve, as we all can feel the effects of climate change now. We must remind legislators that they are failing to do their job to protect us, our communities, and our economies. Youth climate activists face losing everything, but rather than accepting our rapidly approaching demise we have decided to fight. We were raised to be community leaders, hard workers, and to protect our families. We no longer have the time, so we will change the world as teenagers- exactly as we are, with everything we have. We sacrifice our youth and rewrite our plans for a future because people older than us, some driven by greed, have taken our hope for a safe future from us. We ask you to mobilize, urge your lawmakers to protect your future by co-sponsoring the Green New Deal and all legislative measures for climate action now.

Join us on March 15th, a global day of action led by youth and welcoming everyone, at the Climate Strike on the steps of Massachusetts State House from 11-3pm. This is a day of mobilization, taking time to leave school or work to reflect, discuss, and plan for our future. In addition to Boston, there are sister strikes being held in Cape Cod, Amherst, and Great Barrington (Monument Mountain Regional High School, 1 pm). If you cannot attend an organized strike, show us your support by wearing green, walking out of school or work for 11 minutes at 11 am, or by hosting a rally after school. Send us a photo of your initiative #climatestrikema.

 

Nominate for the 2019 Ocean Spirit Award

By | Featured Post, In the News, Uncategorized, W2O Blog

 

 

This year will be the third year that we have presented the Ocean Spirit Award to someone that embodies our mission of protecting our blue planet through education that inspires advocacy and action. Past winners have included Lori LeFranc and her students (pictured above) for their work on the successful campaign to ban single-use plastic bags in Ipswich and Sierra Rothberg, a Dorchester resident that created a sustainable way to provide reusable bags to those that might be in need through her Boomerang Bag program in and around Boston.

The 2019 Ocean Spirit winner is announced and the award will be presented at our May event On the Brink: Save our Right Whale. Save our Ocean. Who is your ocean hero?

The W2O Ocean Spirit Award will be given to the individual that has encompassed our mission of educating and inspiring action by using grass roots initiatives towards protecting our blue planet.  

Criteria:

This nominee is a woman because we support the notion of empowering our ocean sisters to take a lead in protecting our blue planet.

This nominee is a resident of New England.

As someone who has initiated a grass roots effort, this nominee has a story about their conservation vision and evidence of measurable outcomes. Some examples might be someone who has worked on a successful campaign to change legislation or worked to change community habits around an environmental/ocean issue. It might be someone who has influenced change using art, music, or education and has inspired a group to take on action around the topic of ocean health.

We hope to present this award to someone who has not been widely recognized in the past for her efforts. Instead, an “unsung hero” that embodies the notion that “you too can make a difference.” We ask that you look beyond W2O board members.

We are delighted to receive your nomination for the W2O Ocean Spirit Award!

Please include:

  • Nominees name
  • Nominees email address and phone number
  • District or town the nominee is from (so we can notify local press on behalf of our winner)
  • A short paragraph about your nominee (300 words or less) with supporting documentation that will help us evaluate measurable outcomes that make this candidate noteworthy.

Please submit to ellenforW2O@gmail.com by February 15th, 2019 with 2019 Ocean Spirit Award in the subject line.

 

Protecting the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts: Tips from a Pro

By | Uncategorized, W2O Blog

The Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument is the first fully protected marine area in the US Atlantic. It shelters vibrant underwater communities consisting of fragile deep-sea corals, diverse schools of fish and endangered species, including the North Atlantic right whale. Shortly after its designation on September 15, 2016, the Monument was put in jeopardy by our administration and the fishing industry who threatened to open up the Monument to commercial fishing. Our concerns now grow with the proposed opening of the Atlantic Ocean to new offshore oil and gas exploration which would put thousands of already vulnerable species at risk and cause devastating impacts to the ecosystem.  Protecting the Monument is no easy task.  It takes the hard work of biologists, attorneys, educators, advocates, conservationists and concerned citizens to keep attacks on its security at bay. 

Women Working for Oceans has long supported the Monument’s designation and recognized it vital importance to the health of our coast. Protection of our coasts and educating the public about the importance of marine protected areas is part of their mission. As a new member of the Young Professionals Action Committee at W2O, I wanted to investigate ways in which anyone—from the active advocate to the middle school biologist-to-be—can take actions to effectively defend the Monument.  So, I sat down with Allison Lorenc, Policy Analyst and Outreach Organizer for the Oceans Team at Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) to find out the most effective tools.

As an Oceans Policy Analyst and Outreach Organizer, Allison has met with stakeholders throughout New England to gain a broad range of support for the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts National Marine Monument. An exciting part of her job is learning just how many supporters there are; the recreational community, the conservation community, coastal businesses, the tourism industry, academia, zoos and aquariums are just some of the teams batting for the Canyons and Seamounts.  

Allison says that education is one of the most powerful tools we can use to help defend the Monument. “The more informed the stakeholder, the more empowered they are to stand up for support of the Monument,” Allison explains.  She finds that by communicating the major positive impacts that protecting special places has on the planet and economy can help others understand the benefit of maintaining the integrity of the Monument.  She says, “Protected areas are key to maintaining healthy ecosystems, which in turn help support a robust economy and a happy lifestyle. Additionally, protecting special places like the Canyons and Seamounts can provide scientists with an underwater laboratory for studying the ocean and assessing the impacts of climate change.”  Informing the community of these benefits only strengthens conservation efforts.

Allison Lorenc

Advocates for the protection of the Monument, including CLF, W2O and NEAq, encourage you to speak up to defend our coasts and ocean. Simply by calling or writing and asking our own elected officials to defend our Monuments can make a difference.

Get Involved

Join W2O for a film screening and chat to learn how you can protect our coasts from offshore oil and gas exploitation on Thursday, January 10th at 6:30pm. 

The evening begins with a screening of Working Films short feature Shore Stories, about offshore drilling and gas exploration, its development and production and its impacts on local communities. Our expert panel will end the evening with a robust audience-led Q&A session moderated by Vikki Spruill, President and CEO of the New England Aquarium.

This event is free but you must reserve a seat

Blog contributor Cori Roach is a W2O Young Professionals Action Committee member and Research Associate for Conservation Law Foundation.  She gets her biology fix by volunteering with the New England Aquarium’s Rescue and Rehabilitation team.  She is passionate about ocean conservation and finds intrinsic value in every living being.