Pledge to Go Cruelty-free With Your Products

I’m a week late for WWAIL (World Week for Animals in Laboratories), but it’s always a good time to choose to go cruelty-free for your health, beauty and household products. Many people don’t realize that many of the shampoos, cosmetics, cleaners, soaps and more out there — and the ingredients in them — are tested on animals. And, unlike tests for new drugs, animal tests for these kinds of products are NOT required.

I came across this little video from The American Anti-Vivisection Society (thanks, Stephanie, for the heads up) that sums it up nicely:

The tests are cruel;

The results aren’t reliable;

There are plenty of terrific cruelty-free products available to choose from (many of which are also eco-friendly).

If you’re wanting to go cruelty-free with your products, you can sign the pledge to “take the leap” to cruelty-free products and find a cruelty-free shopping guide (note that not all products on this list are vegan) that lists cosmetics, personal care products, household products and even companion animal care products.

With all the plethora of products out there, there isn’t a single reason that anyone should still be using products tested on animals.

You can also go steps further and:

  • Write to the companies that still test on animals, asking them to choose non-animal alternatives;
  • Contact your local stores and ask them to carry cruelty-free products;
  • Encourage the stores you patronize — restaurants, groceries, hardware stores, etc. — to use only cruelty-free products (such as the soaps in the public bathrooms);
  • Leave a note with hotel managers to carry cruelty-free products;
  • Tell your friends, family and colleagues about your choice and encourage them to learn more and take the pledge themselves;
  • Write letters to editors and others to inform the public about this issue.

~ Marsha


Be Part of the Energy Solution: Focus the Nation

focusthenationlogoMany Americans have come to realize that we need clean, sustainable, just energy solutions. On Saturday, April 18, across the U.S., students, business leaders and engaged citizens will connect with their elected officials in town hall meetings focused on determining local and national energy solutions that also promote jobs, cooperation and respect for the planet. Focus the Nation is the organization sponsoring this “Nationwide Town Hall on a Just and Clean Energy Future.” Find out more about events in your area, or if you want to organize your own event, download the organizing guide.

Earth Hour: A Vote for the Planet (But Not a Very Big One)

On Saturday, March 28, families, businesses and organizations around the world will be turning out the lights in order to turn on support for the planet. Earth Hour is a campaign, sponsored by the World Wildlife Fund, encouraging people to turn off their lights for an hour, from 8:30 pm – 9:30 pm in their timezone, in order to bring awareness to the importance of our energy (and other environmental) choices and of the crisis issue of climate change. This year, turning off the lights is also being considered a “vote” for the earth (not turning them out is being considered a “vote” for global warming). So far the campaign has more than 2,700 cities and towns in 83 countries participating.  The goal is to get 1 billion people to “vote” by switching off their lights for that hour.

On the one hand, I think that it’s really terrific that so many people are participating in a collective action. I know the folks organizing this are completely serious about it being a major tool for positive change, and I applaud their efforts. Hopefully this worldwide event will inspire families, businesses and policy makers to commit to making significant choices that will help curb climate change and protect the planet.

But, really, the action people are taking is turning off a few lights (and using social media to encourage other people to do so). I worry that the message this sends is that all we have to do to help create a sustainable, just world is a few simple actions, like using less electricity or switching to compact fluorescent bulbs. And, while small steps are an important beginning, it’s important that people become aware that it’s going to take significant positive changes, both in our personal lives, and in society’s systems, in order to have a humane world.

Imagine if 1 billion people signed up to turn off the TV,  computer or radio and volunteer in their communities. Or to take an hour and clean up their streets. Or to take an hour and feed some hungry folks. Or, if 1 billion people agreed to stop eating animal products for 1 day. Or to shop locally. Or to write letters to their lawmakers in support of the 350 policy, or in support of an end to slavery, or any other significant topic.

I’ll be participating in Earth Hour, because I want to be supportive. But, I’ll continue to seek significant MOGO choices that can have a larger positive impact on the planet.

~ Marsha

Help Stop Worldwide Water Woes

Skim through the news, and the message about the future of water seems pretty grim: climate change, a growing population, and a thirst for foods, fuels and other products and services that require an increasing amount of water mean major shortages worldwide. In fact, the United Nations recently released a report that warned that by 2030, nearly half the world’s population “will be living in areas of acute water shortage.” There are already more than a billion people worldwide who don’t have access to clean water.

March 22 is World Water Day, a campaign sponsored by the United Nations to bring attention to the importance of clean, fresh water for all, and for the need of sustainable management of freshwater resources. Organizations around the world have planned activities throughout next week to bring attention to water issues.

This focus on water is a great opportunity to explore water issues with your children, students, friends or co-workers. Here are a few ideas:

For children and students:

  • Brainstorm a list of what needs water to survive (people, animals, plants).
  • Have kids/students list everything they can think of that contains or uses water (soda, nuclear power plants, agriculture, canned food, etc.). Which of these uses are vital to our sustainability and survival and which are not?
  • Have kids/students list all the ways they use water every day, calculating how much water they use each day, and then comparing their use with how much water people in other countries use.
  • Have kids/students carry around a gallon jug full of water and seeing how long it takes them to use it all up (drinking, hand washing, teeth brushing, etc.). Then repeat the exercise, seeing if they can reduce the amount they use (while still maintaining proper hygiene).
  • Brainstorm all the ways that people can conserve water.
  • Learn about people taking positive action to help those who need clean water, such as Ryan Hreljac, who learned about the water crisis and, at age seven, raised money so that a well could be build in a Ugandan village. Now Ryan’s Well Foundation works in 14 countries around the world.

For friends, family and co-workers:

  • Talk to them about water issues. Share news stories, links and articles with them. Post links on your social media sites.
  • Host a screening of a great documentary focused on water, such as Flow.
  • Challenge them to a water conservation contest. Have them notice how much water they use throughout each day, and then challenge them to see how much less they can use.
  • Give them information about the impact of bottled water, and inspire them to switch to a reusable water container.

For yourself:

  • Learn more about water issues.
  • Work to reduce your own water usage.
  • Get involved with water projects in your community or worldwide.

Here are just a couple websites focused on water issues. Water for the Ages also lists a bunch of suggested books and movies, so be sure to check out those resources, too.

Water Aid (UK)

Water for the Ages

Water Partners International

Water Wise (UK)

And, if you’re a Portlander, check out the planned events for World Water Day here.

~ Marsha

Celebrating 10 Vegan Years By Biking 600 Miles for Farmed Animals

People honor anniversaries in different ways.  Some throw parties, some go on trips, some buy flowers, some turn within and meditate, some drink copious amounts of liquor….and some ride their bikes 600 miles.

Herbivore Clothing Company owner Josh Hooten has decided to memorialize his 10 years of being vegan by biking from Portland, Oregon to the Farm Sanctuary in Orland, California. Josh is recording his training and trip on his blog, Bike Ride for Animals. He’s also hoping to raise $10,000 for Farm Sanctuary. Josh says:

“I’m going to ride my bike 600 miles to help rescued farm animals. The first week of May, 2009, I will leave Portland, Oregon for Tillamook, then ride South to Orland, California. My final destination is Farm Sanctuary, one of my favorite animal advocacy organizations.

I’ve been fortunate enough to visit the farm several times and I always leave inspired. Getting to meet the animals and the people who care for them is a very powerful experience. I’m raising money on this ride to help Farm Sanctuary provide that experience to others.”

If you’re interested in supporting Josh’s efforts, you can give a donation; you can also spread the word if you have a Facebook account by becoming a fan.

If you’re not familiar with Farm Sanctuary, they are an amazing non-profit organization that focuses on rescue, legislation, education and advocacy for farmed animals. They have  locations in Orland and in Watkins Glen, New York (I went there for the first time last summer and couldn’t get enough pig and cow snuggles.)

In addition to their website, they’ve recently debuted several blogs, including:

~ Marsha

Image courtesy of Josh’s Facebook page.

National Justice for Animals Week

I just discovered that this week is the first ever  National Justice for Animals Week, sponsored by the Animal Legal Defense Fund.   The goal of this annual campaign is to increase “public awareness nationwide about how to report animal abuse—and how to work within your community to create stronger laws and assure tough enforcement.”

The campaign has a different suggested daily action to help work toward justice for animals, as well as information and resources to help you take action in your own community and abroad. You can also sign the Animal Bill of Rights, which, while not nearly strong enough, includes language to help protect animals from the worst exploitation, neglect, abuse and cruelty.

I also joined their Facebook cause and am recruiting others who might not know about this issue.

Check it out, and join in if you are moved to help animals who cannot help themselves.

~ Marsha

Kid Eco-Agents to Our (and Their) Rescue

Grist recently Twittered about a new campaign in Norway by the organization Miljøagentene, which works to educate kids about the environment and to encourage them to become advocates. They’ve created commercials (3 as of this posting) which designate kids as Eco-Agents who are “licensed to speak up, because they are responsible for their own future.”

The commercials are funny and silly, posing the kids as stern eco-authority figures who aren’t angry, “just very, very disappointed” when their parents don’t take appropriate environmental actions. But, they also have a good point; kids have to protect and speak out for their own futures.

Check out the videos (these have English subtitles) and share them:

If they won’t play properly above, go to here, here, and here to see them.

~ Marsha