GOOD

How to Make Fido an Eco-Warrior

You work hard to make your home, your diet, and your life as “green” as possible. But what about your furry friend? It’s easy enough to raise an...

You work hard to make your home, your diet, and your life as “green” as possible. But what about your furry friend? It’s easy enough to raise an eco-friendly pet, if you know where to start. We talked to Paul McRandle of Natural Resources Defense Council's Simple Steps about how to do it. Here are McRandle’s simple tips to get you started.
1. Dump the clump. If your cat litter is lumping clay (most are), switch it out to pine, wheat, or newspaper varieties. You’ll reduce the impacts of clay mining in its production, and avoid exposing yourself—and your pets—to carcinogenic silica dust.
2. Watch out for hidden toxins. This one’s essential: avoid toxic flea and tick treatments that are likely hazardous to your pet’s health, and yours as well. Many of these products contact pesticides that leave residue on your dog or cat’s fur and can cause brain damage or harm their nervous systems. Check out NRDC’s GreenPaws campaign to learn more.
3. Feed ‘em the good stuff. Make sure their diet is healthy and all-natural. There are some great options—meat and vegetarian—on the market. Check out this report to learn more about the sketchy ingredients in many popular pet food brands. Important note: While many would claim that vegetarianism is the most eco-friendly diet for humans, naturally carnivorous animals like dogs, cats, ferrets, and so on might struggle with it. Consult a vet before forcing fido into vegetarianism.
4. Better bath time. Clean your pet like you’d clean yourself. Don’t wash your animal with carcinogenic chemicals. There are plenty of all-natural or organic pet shampoo and soap options out there. (Vermont Soap Works has a great pet shampoo.) You could also use the same clean and healthy shampoos and soaps that you treat yourself with. Dr. Bronner’s, perhaps?
5. Curb that dog the green way. Enough with the standard plastic poop bags that clutter landfills, tarnish landscapes, or find their way into the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Equip yourself with some biodegradable bags to pick up your dog’s doo. (One option is the BioBag.)
6. Be careful with your fish water. When you’re changing your aquarium tanks, never dump the contents into the toilet or—gasp—directly into local waterways. Doing so can release invasive species into local rivers, streams, lakes, and the oceans, as home aquariums often host dominant nonnative organisms that could harm local ecosystems. Dump the water onto your lawn instead.
7. Leave the coral in the ocean. While we’re on the subject of aquaria, never buy live rock—like coral—for your tank. McRandle quotes a WWF study that finds that 50 to 70 percent of reefs worldwide are threatened by the export of coral. Such coral harvesting degrades existing reefs, which are already struggling in the face of ocean acidification, and damages delicate ocean ecosystems.
8. Choose Nemo with care. Again on fish, choose your pet species carefully. According to a 2003 report from the UN Environment Programme’s World Conservation Monitoring Centre, the $330 million a year aquarium fish trade threatens 1,500 species of exported fish, and also the ecosystems they come from. The Marine Aquarium Council offers a certification ensuring ecologically-sound marine life gathering practices from collector through to retailer. Look for the MAC label.
9. Unlimited hunting isn’t green. Cats are probably best left indoors, or in an enclosed area if they’re allowed outside. Why? Cats kill an incredible number of birds and rodents when they roam free.
Photo (cc) by Flickr user Ramón Peco\n

This post originally appeared on www.refresheverything.com, as part of GOOD's collaboration with the Pepsi Refresh Project, a catalyst for world-changing ideas. Find out more about the Refresh campaign, or submit your own idea today.

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Mike Yohay, the founder and CEO of Cityscape Farms, is on top of the world. Or rather, his business is. This fall, he’ll begin realizing his dream of urban farming—on commercial rooftops. Cityscape Farms’ mission is simple: Instead of transporting food hundreds of miles, grow it where it is going to be eaten. Not only would this provide healthier, better tasting produce, it would help make cities cleaner and more self-sufficient. But cities are crowded, right? That’s why Yohay is attempting to capitalize on the unused resource of urban roofs. It’s a move that nets building owners a profit while benefiting the larger community. I spoke to Yohay, just after he was named one of the "Ten Most Inspiring People in Sustainable Food" by Fast Company, about how all this might work.
GOOD: So how did a Brooklyn kid get interested in rooftop farming?\n
MIKE YOHAY: Growing up in Brooklyn, rooftops were always one of my favorite places to hang out. I would hop from our building’s rooftop to the next one over, all the way down to the end of the block. I’d see container gardens with herbs and veggies, homing pigeons—really a whole ecosystem up there—all with the Statue of Liberty as the backdrop. Later recognizing what an underutilized resource rooftops are, I saw food production as a logical fit. Why cut down rain forests for farmland when you can grow food right here in the city, where the eaters are?
G: There’s been a lot of press on vertical farming lately but it still seems either like something relegated to design studios or something straight out of science fiction. Demystify it for us.\n
MY: It’s largely a conceptual discourse here in the United States because we have the luxury of sticking to the status quo—for now. In other countries, where the cost of oil and availability of water are not hidden externalities, rooftop and urban farming are done out of necessity. Look at Israel, Singapore, Japan, and countless others; they’ve been doing vertical farming and rooftop hydroponics for years. The innovation coming out of those countries is my inspiration. So I think folks in the United States need to put down the AutoCAD and start building!
G: Let’s talk hydroponics. Does the absence of soil change the quality, taste of produce?\n
MY: Yes, the absence of soil can dramatically change the quality and taste of the produce, for the better. In a soilless system, you can adjust nutrients, pH, water quality, etc. on a much more refined scale than in field agriculture. And in a controlled environment greenhouse you can ensure a more consistent quality, since you are not subject to environmental fluctuations like drought and soil infertility.
Taste is largely a function of ripeness, and hydroponic produce is picked at its ripest. Most produce in this country is transported thousands of miles from farm to fork. So in order to ensure shelf life and transportability, that produce is picked long before it’s ripe. It is later blasted with ethylene hormone to give it the appearance of ripeness—this is why tomatoes can often be red and tasteless. We created a cheeky film about this:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KeOR-ENi_08

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With employers scaling back hiring due to the tight economy, getting the real-world work experience summer internships provide is more crucial than ever. Think it’s too late for you to land a great opportunity for this summer? Rachel Garson, assistant director of internships from Northwestern University’s Career Services, says no way.
Garson supports a wide range of students from all academic disciplines, and whether they start their internship hunt in January or June, she guides them through the process. Here are her top tips to help you bring your A-game to your summer internship search.
1. Focus. Garson says this is the step most students dislike, but figuring out your career interests should be your first move. Talk to people doing jobs that interest you. Ask them what their jobs are really like—and don’t just contact them using e-mail or Facebook. "Students rely on email and online resources, and while those are helpful, old-school sounding face-to-face interactions really help you identify whether a particular career is a good fit for you," says Garson. Skip this step, and you might end up with an internship miserably mismatched with your values, skills and interests.
2. Scour that rolodex. Activate your networks and use multiple search strategies. That’s what your competition is up to. "They’re using online resources, they’re using their networks and they’re speaking with employers and working towards creating opportunities," says Garson. Don’t be shy about cold calling a company to ask about internships. Convince them you’d be an addition to their team.
3. Think smaller. Too often students think great internships are only with the big industry names. Garson says students can have an equally positive experience at a smaller, niche employer. Smaller businesses may also have spots available later in the Spring. Most larger companies have already hired their interns for the year simply because students target them first.
4. Do your homework. Thoroughly research any organization you're interviewing with so that you know how to market your skills effectively. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking, "It’s just an internship." Never take it for granted that an employer will bring you on board if you know nothing about them.
5. Work during business hours. Too often, Garson says, students search for an internship on a student schedule instead of on an employer schedule. "Instead of building their search into every day, they make a block of time late at night. No employer is reading e-mails you send out at midnight," she says.
6. Pinch pennies. If you’re offered an unpaid internship and it really aligns with your long-term career goals, Garson recommends that you go for it. But don’t starve. "Negotiate your hours so that you’re more flexible and can work something out, possibly even getting a second job that pays." Check with your university to see if they offer support for unpaid summer internships. Garson says Northwestern offers a Summer Internship Grant, for instance.
Above all, Garson says to remember that landing an internship’s a competitive, time consuming process: "But, thousands of students do it every year. You just need to be proactive and engage in the process."
Photo (cc) by Flickr user Thewmatt\n

This post originally appeared on www.refresheverything.com, as part of GOOD's collaboration with the Pepsi Refresh Project, a catalyst for world-changing ideas. Find out more about the Refresh campaign, or submit your own idea today.

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