10 Eco-friendly habits anyone can do

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I believe that everyone can make a difference in the environment. You do not have to be a bee keeper or a wildlife rehabilitation volunteer to do something good for the world every day. So I have compiled a list of 10 easy changes that anyone can make to be more environmentally friendly.
1) Recycle– it is often easier to find a garbage can than a recycling bin, but recycling that water bottle or soda can makes a big difference in our landfills and in the struggle for sustainable resource use. If you don’t have recycling in your home or office, there are often recycling centers at schools that are there for everyone to use!
2) Drive less– This is not always possible, but when in a bigger city or tourist destination there are often subways, trains, and buses that are both cheaper and give your trip a lower carbon footprint. Walking short distances instead of driving is also cheaper and gets you some exercise. When you do have to drive, try to consolidate trips to save on gas and time.
3) Buy local– Buying local produce and goods not only cuts down on fossil fuel emissions, but helps support your community and local producers. Farmer’s Markets are easy to find and fun to shop at!
4) Plant a tree or a garden– Planting a tree in your yard or in a park provides shade, cleans the air, sequesters carbon, and helps prevent erosion. Trees that shade a house or apartment reduce air conditioning costs in the summer! Also, home gardens are a great way to enjoy the outdoors while keeping your carbon footprint low.
5) Turn off the lights– When you are not home or not in a room be sure to turn off the lights and other electronics. Leaving electronics on when you are not using them is wasting energy and money. Also, think about using natural light on sunny days and leave the lamps off if you can.
6) Be smart about laundry– Make sure to buy detergent that can be used in cold water. Using cold water to in the washing machine instead of hot reduces heating costs. Also, avoid using permanent press, which will add about 5 gallons of water use to every load.
7) Reuse containers– Use containers for lunches or leftovers instead of plastic bags. Containers work just as well and can be reused over and over again.
8) Buy secondhand clothes– Going to the thrift shop can not only be fun and inexpensive, but can reduce environmental impact.
9) Make your own cleaning products– This is a super simple and Eco-friendly change that saves the environment and your wallet. All the ingredients needed can be found in the pantry and there are a ton of recipes online.
10) Eco-friendly gift wrap– Instead of using wrapping paper from the store, reuse old gift bags or make your own wrapping paper from newspapers or magazines.

Why cats should stay indoors

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I love cats, in fact I have 3 pet cats that all came from the shelter. My love for my cats, however, does not blind me to the problems that outdoor cats cause. Free-Roaming Cats create ecological, human health,, and animal welfare concerns that affect cats, people, wildlife, and conservation efforts. According to the American Bird Conservancy, cats are estimated to kill between 1.4 and 3.7 billion birds and 12 billion small mammals every year in the United States. These cats, like all wildlife, can also spread disease such as rabies and internal parasites to other animals and to humans. Outdoor cats live much shorter lives than indoor cats due to disease and the dangers of the outdoors. Finally, outdoor cats that are not neutered or spayed can make more little furry bundles of joy that end up in our already overtaxed shelters where so many healthy animals have to be euthanized. What really gets me about all of this is that it is preventable if people would just keep their cats indoors and get them fixed.

Although habitat loss and fragmentation are probably the greatest problems facing today’s conservation efforts and are the main cause of bird population declines [i], we can’t afford to ignore the other issues facing conservation efforts, such as cat predation. Overlooking the problem of free-roaming cats could undermine the other habitat-based initiatives, so we should try to address every cause of declining bird populations. As far as disease, the Federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently came out with a study that suggests that cats are now the primary domestic animal linked to human exposure of Rabies [ii]. Decreasing the free-roaming cat populations should decrease the spread of diseases and internal parasites both between cats and cat-to-human transfer as well as decrease cat predation on native species.

People who own cats should take responsibility for the cats’ care, which includes keeping them indoors when possible. Indoor cats are healthier, live longer, do not spread disease, and do not kill birds and small mammals (some of whom may be endangered). Owning any pet carries with it an obligation to properly care for it and cats are no exception. People who put their cats outside are putting them at risk due to cars, poisoning, and other wildlife such as foxes.  Additionally, citizens should respect their neighbors and their property by making sure their animals do not leave their personal property.

When I worked as a veterinary assistant, I ran across a cat or two that truly needed to be an outdoor cat. These cats were a bit wild or refused to use a litter box and if not allowed outside, their owners would not have been able to keep them. In cases like this, I understand that an outdoor cat is better than an adult cat given to a shelter (which is almost certainly a dead cat). I also understand that there is such a thing as a ‘working cat’, where farmers need their cats outside to catch vermin. For the vast majority of the outdoor cats that I have dealt with there is absolutely no reason to let them outside other than the owner believes that this makes their cat happier. While this may be true, the fact of the matter is that cats are an invasive species that is extremely detrimental to the environment and there are a number of things that an owner can do to keep their cat happy and healthy inside. Keeping cats indoors is healthy, environmentally friendly, and just plain considerate.


[i] Sallinger, B. 2013. Cats and Wildlife: Things are Different Here… Conservation 14(2): 4

[ii] Weise, E. 2013.  Feral cat colonies pose rabies risk, CDC says. USA Today. Retrieved August 21, 2013, from: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/08/17/feral-cats-

colonies-rabies-risk/2665359/.

 

USA TODAY: 10 best tips for green living

From USA TODAY

10 best tips for green living

Make it rain. Install a high-efficiency showerhead (look for the WaterSense label) and cut your family’s water use by 2,900 gallons a year. (M)eat less. Put meat on the menu just a couple of times a week; livestock is a high contributor of greenhouse gases. Simmer down. Bring your pasta or rice to a boil, then put a lid on the pot and turn off the stove. Your food will cook just as well, says Katie Heyhoe, author of Cooking Green: Reducing Your Carbon Footprint in the Kitchen. Clean green. Look to your kitchen cabinet for natural cleaning products, such as baking soda, white distilled vinegar and essential oils. Ride slow. Drive the speed limit, avoid rapid acceleration and brake less (except when it counts!) to increase your car’s fuel efficiency.

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Oceans: Satellite data shows leatherback sea turtles ranging far and wide in search of jellyfish

Summit County Citizens Voice

asdf A leatherback sea turtle at sea. Photo courtesy NOAA.

New study to help inform conservation efforts along East Coast and Caribbean

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Threatened leatherback sea turtles like to hang out off the northeastern U.S. coast in late summer and fall, when mature jellyfish are abundant in the area, scientists said last week, sharing the results of a long-term study based on satellite data of tagged sea turtles.

“Our study provides new insights about how male and immature turtles behave, how they use their habitats and how that differs from adult females,” said University of Massachusetts researcher Kara Dodge. “Resource managers for protected marine species have lacked this key understanding, especially in coastal regions of the U.S. and Caribbean where leatherbacks and intense human activity coincide.”

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