EcoWatch and Waterkeeper Launch News Website
Stefanie Penn Spear
On Oct. 27, EcoWatch and Waterkeeper Alliance hosted a public event along the Cuyahoga River to celebrate the launch of their nationwide news service website with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., founder and president of Waterkeeper Alliance, as keynote speaker. The website—www.ecowatch.com—went live the morning of Oct. 27 and works to unite the voice of the grassroots environmental movement and mobilize millions of Americans to engage in democracy to protect human health and the environment.
The website expands EcoWatch’s coverage nationwide and becomes the first media source to focus exclusively on environmental news culled from more than 700 environmental organizations across the country. The site showcases original content in its Insights column from leading national voices in the environmental movement, including EcoWatch’s advisory board members.
The news service provides timely access to relevant information that seeks to motivate individuals to become engaged in their community, adopt sustainable practices and support strong environmental policy. The site focuses on five critical issue areas—water, air, food, energy and biodiversity—and covers topics including, renewable energy, water and air quality, sustainable agriculture, fossil fuel depletion, solution-based sustainability projects, species protection, global warming, climate change and pending legislation.
“The current assault on America’s environmental laws, like the Clean Water Act, creates a pressing need to educate and engage people to protect our infrastructure, the air we breathe, the water we drink, to provide our children with the same opportunities for dignity and enrichment as our parents gave us,” said Kennedy. “This website encourages people to be part of the solution and engage in democracy.”
EcoWatch, publisher of EcoWatch Journal with a distribution of more than 80,000 copies across Ohio, launched the nationwide news service out of Cleveland’s Tremont neighborhood and become part of the growing online news media market.
“Northeast Ohio is a national leader in sustainability and EcoWatch is proud to call Cleveland its home,” said Stefanie Penn Spear, founder and executive director of EcoWatch. “This news service website follows the model we developed in Ohio over the last five years and expands on my more than 20 years of publishing environmental news.”
The public event featured brief remarks from Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson; Cleveland City Councilman Joe Cimperman; the George Gund Foundation’s Senior Program Officer for the Environment, John Mitterholzer; the Cleveland Foundation’s Program Officer, Nelson Beckford; and Kennedy, a member of EcoWatch’s advisory board, who served as keynote speaker.
Other advisory board members are Wendy Abrams, an eco-advocate and philanthropist; Ed Begley, Jr., an actor and environmentalist; Lester Brown, a prize-winning author and critical thinker; Laurie David, a bestselling author and activist; Paul Hawken, an environmentalist, entrepreneur and author; Randy Hayes, founder of Rainforest Action Network; Phil Radford, executive director of Greenpeace, and Harvey Wasserman, an anti-nuclear activist.
In addition to commemorating the launch of the national website, EcoWatch and Waterkeeper Alliance acknowledged the significance of the celebration’s location, near the historic site where the then oily Cuyahoga River caught on fire in June 1969. This event played a major role in the growth of the modern-day environmental movement and passage of the Clean Water Act. The event also highlighted the need for water advocacy and stewardship, public access to our waterways, human-powered recreation on the water and collaboration on solution-based projects like Rivergate Park. Immediately following the event, participants enjoyed Rivergate Park, home to the Cleveland Rowing Foundation, by touring the grounds and watching rowing, kayaking and paddleboarding on the river.
Kennedy also keynoted a fundraising event at Windows on the River at 2000 Sycamore St. at 6 p.m. that evening.
To visit the EcoWatch website, click here.
EcoWatch is a Cleveland-based nonprofit dedicated to uniting the voice of the grassroots environmental movement and mobilizing millions of Americans to engage in democracy to protect human health and the environment. EcoWatch, founded in 2006, publishes the bimonthly newspaper EcoWatch Journal, distributed for free throughout Ohio printing 80,000 copies per issue. For more information, visit www.ecowatchohio.org
Waterkeeper Alliance is a global environmental organization uniting more than 190 Waterkeeper organizations around the world and focusing citizen advocacy on the issues that affect our waterways, from pollution to climate change. Waterkeepers patrol more than 1.5 million square miles of rivers, streams and coastlines in the Americas, Europe, Australia, Asia and Africa. For more information, visit www.waterkeeper.org.
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By Gwen Ranniger
In the midst of a pandemic, sales of cleaning products have skyrocketed, and many feel a need to clean more often. Knowing what to look for when purchasing cleaning supplies can help prevent unwanted and dangerous toxics from entering your home.
1. Fragrance – Avoid It<p>One of the fastest ways to narrow down your product options is immediately eliminating any product that promotes a fragrance, or parfum. That scent of "fresh breeze" or lemon might initially smell good, but the fragrance does not last. What does last? The concoction of various undisclosed and unregulated chemicals that created that fragrance.</p><p>Many fragrances contain phthalates, which are linked to many health risks including reproductive problems and cancer.</p>
2. With Bleach? Do Without<p>Going scent-free should have narrowed down your options substantially – now, check the front of the remaining packaging. Any that include ammonia or chlorine bleach ought to go, as these substances are irritating and corrosive to your body. While bleach is commonly known as a powerful disinfectant, there are safer alternatives that you can use in your home, such as sodium borate or hydrogen peroxide.</p><p>While you're at it, check if there are any warnings on the label – "flammable," "use in ventilated area," etc. – if the product is hazardous, that's a red flag and should be avoided.</p>
3. Check the Back Label<p>Flip to the back of the remaining contenders and check out that ingredient list. Less is more, here. Opt for a shorter ingredient list with words you recognize and/or can pronounce.</p><p>You may notice many products do not have ingredient lists – while this doesn't necessarily mean they contain toxic ingredients, transparency is key. Feel free to look up a list online, or stick to products that are open about their ingredients.</p>
4. Ingredients to Avoid<p>We already mentioned that cleaners containing fragrance or parfum, and bleach or ammonia should be avoided, but there are other ingredients to look out for as well.</p><ul><li>Quaternary ammonium "quats" – lung irritants that contribute to asthma and other breathing problems. Also linger on surfaces long after they've been cleaned.</li><li>Parabens – Known hormone disruptor; can contribute to ailments such as cancer</li><li>Triclosan – triclosan and other antibacterial chemicals are registered with the EPA as pesticides. Triclosan is a known hormone disruptor and can also impact your immune system.</li><li>Formaldehyde – Causes irritation of eyes, nose, and throat; studies suggest formaldehyde exposure is linked with certain varieties of cancer. Can be found in products or become a byproduct of chemical reactions in the air.</li></ul>
Cleaning Products and Toxics: The Bottom Line<p>Do your research. There are many cleaning products available, but taking these steps will drastically reduce your options and help keep your home toxic-free. Protecting your home from bacteria and viruses is important, but make sure you do so in a way that doesn't introduce other health risks into the home.</p><p><em>Reposted with permission from </em><em><a href="https://www.ehn.org/how-to-shop-for-cleaning-products-while-avoiding-toxics-2648130273.html" target="_blank">Environmental Health News</a>. </em><a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/r/entryeditor/2649054624#/" target="_self"></a></p>
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
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Twenty-five years ago, a food called Tofurky made its debut on grocery store shelves. Since then, the tofu-based roast has become a beloved part of many vegetarians' holiday feasts.
By Jessica Corbett
A leading environmental advocacy group marked Native American Heritage Month on Wednesday by urging President-elect Joe Biden, Vice President-elect Kamala Kamala Harris, and the entire incoming administration "to honor Indigenous sovereignty and immediately halt the Keystone XL, Dakota Access, and Line 3 pipelines."
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Returning the ‘Three Sisters’ – Corn, Beans and Squash – to Native American Farms Nourishes People, Land and Cultures
By Christina Gish Hill
Historians know that turkey and corn were part of the first Thanksgiving, when Wampanoag peoples shared a harvest meal with the pilgrims of Plymouth plantation in Massachusetts. And traditional Native American farming practices tell us that squash and beans likely were part of that 1621 dinner too.
Abundant Harvests<p>Historically, Native people throughout the Americas bred indigenous plant varieties specific to the growing conditions of their homelands. They selected seeds for many different traits, such as <a href="https://emergencemagazine.org/story/corn-tastes-better/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">flavor, texture and color</a>.</p><p>Native growers knew that planting corn, beans, squash and sunflowers together produced mutual benefits. Corn stalks created a trellis for beans to climb, and beans' twining vines secured the corn in high winds. They also certainly observed that corn and bean plants growing together tended to be healthier than when raised separately. Today we know the reason: Bacteria living on bean plant roots pull nitrogen – an essential plant nutrient – from the air and <a href="http://www.tilthalliance.org/learn/resources-1/almanac/october/octobermngg" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">convert it to a form that both beans and corn can use</a>.</p><p>Squash plants contributed by shading the ground with their broad leaves, preventing weeds from growing and retaining water in the soil. Heritage squash varieties also had spines that discouraged deer and raccoons from visiting the garden for a snack. And sunflowers planted around the edges of the garden created a natural fence, protecting other plants from wind and animals and attracting pollinators.</p><p>Interplanting these agricultural sisters produced bountiful harvests that sustained large Native communities and <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1353/eam.2015.0016" target="_blank">spurred fruitful trade economies</a>. The first Europeans who reached the Americas were shocked at the abundant food crops they found. My research is exploring how, 200 years ago, Native American agriculturalists around the Great Lakes and along the Missouri and Red rivers fed fur traders with their diverse vegetable products.</p>
Displaced From the Land<p>As Euro-Americans settled permanently on the most fertile North American lands and acquired seeds that Native growers had carefully bred, they imposed policies that <a href="https://doi.org/10.1086/ahr/87.2.550" target="_blank">made Native farming practices impossible</a>. In 1830 President Andrew Jackson signed the <a href="https://guides.loc.gov/indian-removal-act" target="_blank">Indian Removal Act</a>, which made it official U.S. policy to force Native peoples from their home locations, pushing them onto subpar lands.</p><p>On reservations, U.S. government officials discouraged Native women from cultivating anything larger than small garden plots and pressured Native men to practice Euro-American style monoculture. Allotment policies assigned small plots to nuclear families, further limiting Native Americans' access to land and preventing them from using communal farming practices.</p><p>Native children were forced to attend boarding schools, where they had no opportunity to <a href="https://doi.org/10.5749/jamerindieduc.57.1.0145" target="_blank">learn Native agriculture techniques or preservation and preparation of Indigenous foods</a>. Instead they were forced to eat Western foods, turning their palates away from their traditional preferences. Taken together, these policies <a href="https://kansaspress.ku.edu/978-0-7006-0802-7.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">almost entirely eradicated three sisters agriculture</a> from Native communities in the Midwest by the 1930s.</p>
Reviving Native Agriculture<p>Today Native people all over the U.S. are working diligently to <a href="https://www.oupress.com/books/15107980/indigenous-food-sovereignty-in-the-united-sta" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">reclaim Indigenous varieties of corn, beans, squash, sunflowers and other crops</a>. This effort is important for many reasons.</p><p>Improving Native people's access to healthy, culturally appropriate foods will help lower rates of <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/aian-diabetes/index.html" target="_blank">diabetes</a> and <a href="https://www.apa.org/pi/oema/resources/ethnicity-health/native-american/obesity" target="_blank">obesity</a>, which affect Native Americans at disproportionately high rates. Sharing traditional knowledge about agriculture is a way for elders to pass cultural information along to younger generations. Indigenous growing techniques also protect the lands that Native nations now inhabit, and can potentially benefit the wider ecosystems around them.</p>
By Jake Johnson
Amid reports that oil industry-friendly former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz remains under consideration to return to his old post in the incoming Biden administration, a diverse coalition of environmental groups is mobilizing for an "all-out push" to keep Moniz away from the White House and demand a cabinet willing to boldly confront the corporations responsible for the climate emergency.