Green New Year’s Resolutions From the EcoWatch Team
2018 was a year in which the threats facing our planet—from plastic pollution to climate change―became impossible to ignore. As scientists and journalists continued to sound the alarm, ordinary people stepped up to do something about it. Sometimes it can be hard to believe that one person's action can make a difference in the face of such enormous challenges, but big changes are made up of little actions. So if you are looking for a New Year's resolution for 2019, why not add saving the earth to the list? To get you inspired, the EcoWatch staff is sharing successful green changes we made to our lives last year, as well as the improvements we plan to make in the year to come.
Olivia Rosane, freelance reporter
2018 Green Change: Stop Eating Meat
This is actually something I started halfway through this year, but after writing article after article about the ecological costs of meat-eating, I successfully cut meat out of my daily diet. I am still flexible about what I eat if I am a guest in someone's home, but I no longer cook or order meat for myself.
2019 Green Resolution: Get Involved Locally
I have been moving around a lot over the past two years, so I have not had a chance to get involved with any efforts to protect the environment in my local community. Now that I am a bit more settled, my goal for 2019 is to connect with like-minded people near me to work to preserve our shared home.
Chris McDermott, news editor
2018 Green Change: Reduce Plastic Waste
I knew plastics were made from fossil fuels but I never realized the extent to which plastic waste has infiltrated our oceans until 2018. Solving this crisis requires world-scale efforts, of course, but I started food shopping with reusable canvas bags instead of just accepting plastic ones. I also received a handy gift of reusable metal straws to carry to restaurants in an organic cotton case.
2019 Green Resolution: Cook at Home More
Growing more food and doing more cooking is a priority for 2019. I'm especially looking forward to expanding within my vegetarian diet to include more Indian cuisine and try new dishes. Cooking up batches of food to last two or three days will also save time and energy.
Lorraine Chow, freelance reporter
2018 Green Change: Compost Regularly
Since I've lived in apartments my whole adult life, it's always been difficult to consistently compost. But this year, my boyfriend's workplace installed a tumbler and now I'm a composting fiend. Even though our freezer is always stuffed with food scraps, I'm happy about generating less waste and lowering my methane footprint.
2019 Green Resolution: Drive Less
I live in a town with no reliable public transit, so my car is basically the only way to get around. However, for short and medium trips, I'm really considering an electric bike. I love the idea of spending more time outside, all while benefiting my health and the environment's health.
Jordan Simmons, social media manager
2018 Green Change: Raise Awareness About #PointlessPlastic
2018 was the year of plastic pollution awareness—it's also the year I began using a firm, "No, thank you" whenever offered #pointlessplastic. I've planted countless seeds of awareness by refusing plastic straws at restaurants and plastic bags in grocery stores, and I've been questioned about my choices, which allowed me to educate others on why we must take action for the planet now.
2019 Green Resolution: Live a Zero-Waste Lifestyle
My green resolution for 2019 is to live a zero-waste lifestyle. This lifestyle will not be easy as it includes shopping only in bulk and refusing to-go items whenever I don't have my own containers. But it's a dream I've had for years, so why not make this vision a reality in the new year?
Tara Bracco, managing editor
2018 Green Change: Stop Using Plastic Straws
We reported a lot on the ban on plastic straws in 2018 and reading those stories changed my habits. I no longer reach for a plastic straw after ordering an iced tea from my local coffee shop and saying, "No straw, please" at restaurants became a common practice.
2019 Green Resolution: Use Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products
I've been using a couple of Seventh Generation products in my home, but I didn't realize how much more I could be doing until Meredith Rosenberg wrote her article for EcoWatch about green cleaning products. In the new year, I want to use her tips for evaluating eco-friendly products and clean with less toxic chemicals and less guilt.
Irma Omerhodzic, associate editor
2018 Green Change: Buy Locally
I've been a vegetarian for nearly a decade, following a vegan diet for some of the time, but eggs are difficult for me to give up altogether. So, I made the choice to always stick to buying locally sourced eggs from an organic farm.
2019 Green Resolution: Use Organic Cotton Produce Bags
In 2019, I really want to cut down on unnecessary plastic waste. Using cotton produce bags is an easy step to kick another bad plastic consumption habit!
16 New #Vegan #Cookbooks We Can't Wait to Read in 2019 https://t.co/vlZnCUCq3R @peta @YourDailyVegan @FollowTheVegan— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1541469630.0
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By Daisy Simmons
1. Stay Informed<p>A first order of business in pet evacuation planning is to understand and be ready for the possible threats in your area. Visit <a href="https://www.ready.gov/be-informed" target="_blank">Ready.gov</a> to learn more about preparing for potential disasters such as floods, hurricanes, and wildfires. Then pay attention to related updates by tuning <a href="http://www.weather.gov/nwr/" target="_blank">NOAA Weather Radio</a> to your local emergency station or using the <a href="https://www.fema.gov/mobile-app" target="_blank">FEMA app</a> to get National Weather Service alerts.</p>
2. Ensure Your Pet is Easily Identifiable<p><span>Household pets, including indoor cats, should wear collars with ID tags that have your mobile phone number. </span><a href="https://www.avma.org/microchipping-animals-faq" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Microchipping</a><span> your pets will also improve your chances of reunion should you become separated. Be sure to add an emergency contact for friends or relatives outside your immediate area.</span></p><p>Additionally, use <a href="https://secure.aspca.org/take-action/order-your-pet-safety-pack" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">'animals inside' door/window stickers</a> to show rescue workers how many pets live there. (If you evacuate with your pets, quickly write "Evacuated" on the sticker so first responders don't waste time searching for them.)</p>
3. Make a Pet Evacuation Plan<p> "No family disaster plan is complete without including your pets and all of your animals," says veterinarian Heather Case in <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q9NRJkFKAm4" target="_blank">a video</a> produced by the American Veterinary Medical Association.</p><p>It's important to determine where to take your pet in the event of an emergency.</p><p>Red Cross shelters and many other emergency shelters allow only service animals. Ask your vet, local animal shelters, and emergency management officials for information on local and regional animal sheltering options.</p><p>For those with access to the rare shelter that allows pets, CDC offers <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/emergencies/pets-in-evacuation-centers.html" target="_blank">tips on what to expect</a> there, including potential health risks and hygiene best practices.</p><p>Beyond that, talk with family or friends outside the evacuation area about potentially hosting you and/or your pet if you're comfortable doing so. Search for pet-friendly hotel or boarding options along key evacuation routes.</p><p>If you have exotic pets or a mix of large and small animals, you may need to identify multiple locations to shelter them.</p><p>For other household pets like hamsters, snakes, and fish, the SPCA recommends that if they normally live in a cage, they should be transported in that cage. If the enclosure is too big to transport, however, transfer them to a smaller container temporarily. (More on that <a href="https://www.spcai.org/take-action/emergency-preparedness/evacuation-how-to-be-pet-prepared" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">here</a>.)</p><p>For any pet, a key step is to establish who in your household will be the point person for gathering up pets and bringing their supplies. Keep in mind that you may not be home when disaster strikes, so come up with a Plan B. For example, you might form a buddy system with neighbors with pets, or coordinate with a trusted pet sitter.</p>
4. Prepare a Pet Evacuation Kit<p>Like the emergency preparedness kit you'd prepare for humans, assemble basic survival items for your pets in a sturdy, easy-to-grab container. Items should include:</p><ul><li>Water, food, and medicine to last a week or two;</li><li>Water, food bowls, and a can opener if packing wet food;</li><li>Litter supplies for cats (a shoebox lined with a plastic bag and litter may work);</li><li>Leashes, harnesses, or vehicle restraints if applicable;</li><li>A <a href="https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/emergencycare/pet-first-aid-supplies-checklist" target="_blank">pet first aid kit</a>;</li><li>A sturdy carrier or crate for each cat or dog. In addition to easing transport, these may serve as your pet's most familiar or safe space in an unfamiliar environment;</li><li>A favorite toy and/or blanket;</li><li>If your pet is prone to anxiety or stress, the American Kennel Club suggests adding <a href="https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/home-living/create-emergency-evacuation-plan-dog/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">stress-relieving items</a> like an anxiety vest or calming sprays.</li></ul><p>In the not-unlikely event that you and your pet have to shelter in different places, your kit should also include:</p><ul><li>Detailed information including contact information for you, your vet, and other emergency contacts;</li><li>A list with phone numbers and addresses of potential destinations, including pet-friendly hotels and emergency boarding facilities near your planned evacuation routes, plus friends or relatives in other areas who might be willing to host you or your pet;</li><li>Medical information including vaccine records and a current rabies vaccination tag;</li><li>Feeding notes including portions and sizes in case you need to leave your pet in someone else's care;</li><li>A photo of you and your pet for identification purposes.</li></ul>
5. Be Ready to Evacuate at Any Time<p>It's always wise to be prepared, but stay especially vigilant in high-risk periods during fire or hurricane season. Practice evacuating at different times of day. Make sure your grab-and-go kit is up to date and in a convenient location, and keep leashes and carriers by the exit door. You might even stow a thick pillowcase under your bed for middle-of-the-night, dash-out emergencies when you don't have time to coax an anxious pet into a carrier. If forecasters warn of potential wildfire, a hurricane, or other dangerous conditions, bring outdoor pets inside so you can keep a close eye on them.</p><p>As with any emergency, the key is to be prepared. As the American Kennel Club points out, "If you panic, it will agitate your dog. Therefore, <a href="https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/home-living/create-emergency-evacuation-plan-dog/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">pet disaster preparedness</a> will not only reduce your anxiety but will help reduce your pet's anxiety too."</p>
Evacuating Horses and Other Farm Animals<p>The same basic principles apply for evacuating horses and most other livestock. Provide each with some form of identification. Ensure that adequate food, water, and medicine are available. And develop a clear plan on where to go and how to get there.</p><p>Sheltering and transporting farm animals requires careful coordination, from identifying potential shelter space at fairgrounds, racetracks, or pastures, to ensuring enough space is available in vehicles and trailers – not to mention handlers and drivers on hand to support the effort.</p><p>For most farm animals, the Red Cross advises that you consider precautionary evacuation when a threat seems imminent but evacuation orders haven't yet been announced. The American Veterinary Medical Association has <a href="https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/emergencycare/large-animals-and-livestock-disasters" target="_blank">more information</a>.</p>
Bottom Line: If You Need to Evacuate, So Do Your Pets<p>As the Humane Society warns, pets left behind in a disaster can easily be injured, lost, or killed. Plan ahead to make sure you can safely evacuate your entire household – furry members included.</p>
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