You know how I love stats. So here’s another cool poll to show you how green folks’ thinking is today., the web’s largest opinion-based community, polled its users to find out sentiments on topics surrounding the environment, recycling, organic products and hybrid cars.  Overall, 85 percent of respondents said being “eco-friendly” is very important or moderately important.  However, only 14 percent think the planet is improving, as 86 percent feel the planet has gotten worse or stayed the same.

When it comes to recycling, 62 percent feel that it should be mandatory.  In addition, only 7 percent of the public does not recycle, while 38 percent recycle “all the time” and 37 percent recycle “when possible.”  Most respondents (59 percent) stated that they are not more likely to buy a product just because it is packaged in recycled materials.

The public is split when it comes to organic products, as 51 percent feel organic products are better while 49 percent are either not sure or feel organic products are not better.  Younger respondents were willing to pay more for organic products than their older counterparts.  53 percent of those between18-24 years of age would pay more to go organic, while only 27 percent of those over 65 would pay extra.

If price wasn’t an issue, 72 percent of respondents would switch to a hybrid vehicle or an electric powered car (38 percent for hybrid, 34 percent for electric), while only 28 percent would stick with a gas powered vehicle.

And now, all this in pictures.

“Have you ever heard of Richard Louv?” My friend’s eyes were bright with possibility. I admitted that I had not, but then again back in 2005 I was also knee-deep in preschooler chaos. That’s when he told me about Louv’s book Last Child in the Woods and the author’s efforts to solve the nature-deficit disorder so many children have begun to exhibit. That was two years before the first iPhone hit the market. According to Martin Nielson, CEO of E-Waste Systems, less than 20% of electronic gadgets get recycled in the US every year. That’s up to 300 million gadgets tossed in landfills. While e-waste only represents 2% of the overall trash in landfills annually, it equalls 70% of  all toxic waste. Thirty million computers alone were tossed last year.

In light of those stats, the need to save the environment and to get outdoors has grown since Louv first penned that book.

As a result, Richard Louv has written another one, The Nature Principle: Reconnecting with Life in a Virtual Age. This time he addresses adult nature deficit disorder without forgetting the impact our actions have on children. He takes an enjoyment approach, not an admonishing one. He speaks little about recycling per see and views conservation as a troublesome term. He speaks more about nature creation and about allowing the Earth to do what it does best – live.

Louv has a delightful way of informing without lecturing, of inspiring without scaring people into action. At times I teared up while reading his latest book, simply for the passion and direction he shows.

“…nature simultaneously calms and focuses the mind, and at the same time offers a state that transcends relaxation, allowing the mind to detect patters that it would otherwise miss (page 28).”

In other words, nature is the stage upon which we return to self on a cellular level. It demands nothing of us. It simply is. As he writes, humans were meant to live in a natural environment and did so for five million years before divorcing ourselves virtually completely from the outside.

We choke the lives out of ourselves to somehow prove we are better than animals, yet we treat ourselves much worse than animals do. Trees take time to grow, yet we somehow demand that our children “just grow up!” Being a little adult is somehow a badge of honor, instead of simply being a kid who makes mistakes, gets messy and simply is. We could learn from nature by viewing it as teacher and guide in a world speeding out of control.

At a recent Disney Kids and Nature Celebration held April 13-14, 2012, at Walt Disney World Resort, Richard Louv, now chairman and co-founder, Children & Nature Network, is quoted as saying:

“People who identify themselves as conservationists…environmentalists had some transcendent experience with nature when they were kids. What happens if that virtually fades away? Who will be the future stewards of the earth? The true stewards? Conservation will always exist but if we’re not careful, conservationists will carry nature in their briefcases not in their hearts and that’s a very different relationship, and I don’t believe it’s sustainable.”

The Nature Principle focuses on the heart connection between humans and nature. We need to have a love of the land, parks, open spaces and greenery to establish, then preserve, a relationship with the outdoors., a web portal that offers up green tips and fun outdoor activities for kids, has been designed, in conjunction with Discovery Education, to encourage children grades K-5 to learn about plant science in their backyard and in public green spaces. If those spaces dwindle, they won’t learn about them through experience, but through Internet apps that explain what has since been extinct due to our carelessness and speed.

What Earth Day activities do you have planned? A few ideas:

  • have a picnic with our family,
  • seek out a new park in your area,
  • fly a kite,
  • recycle those batteries rolling around in your junk drawer
  • volunteer to pick up trash. Ask your community center how you might help.

In truth, every day is Earth Day because it is where we live. What will you do to create nature, not only in principle, but in real life too?

Books. They are my passion. They make me weep. They dropkick loneliness to another planet. Books have meaning, make meaning, build meaning. Books are the cornerstone for life.

While my editor at St. Martin’s recently astounded herself by actually going to a physical bookstore to buy one made of paper, I have to admit that I love trees just about as much as the books that trees surrender their lives for.

Therein lies the dilemma of this author. I want you to buy books. Lots and lots of books (preferably mine). And I want you to plant a tree in the name of the books you’ve bought to replenish what got lost when you bought those books. The Lorax will thank you. And so will I.

OR: you can go to Better World Books that is committed to libraries and literacy and the well-being of both the read and the reader.

“We only do well by doing good.”

In name of Earth Month, I hereby provide you with the top ten green reads to fill your soul (and possibly your tearducts). I always know I’m in close proximity to the truth when I cry after reading something that moves me. Give your spirit a jiggle with Better World Books’ top 10 green books:

  1. Natural Capitalism
  2. The Lorax
  3. An Inconvenient Truth
  4. Silent Spring
  5. Moral Ground
  6. The Better World Shopping Guide
  7. Hot, Flat and Crowded 2.0
  8. Farm City
  9. The Responsibility Revolution
  10. The Great Paper Caper

If you’re not familiar with this social enterprise, Better World Books collects and sells books online to donate books and fund literacy initiatives worldwide. With more than 8 million new and used titles in stock, it’s a self-sustaining, triple-bottom-line company that creates social, economic and environmental value.  To date, the company has raised over $10 million for libraries and literacy, and diverted millions of books from landfills.

Books in landfills? That’s book blasphemy!

How many of the above have you already read?

The Nature Conservancy: Protecting nature. Pre...

Image via Wikipedia

You are what you eat, and how you eat it. Locally grown produce, also known as Slow Food, is not only good for you, it’s good for the environment, too.

On this Earth Day, I pose the question about agriculture because the food industry is an enormous one with a huge lobby behind it. Reducing the need for food transport alone by shopping at our local farmer’s market instead of big chain food stores can have an impact on the Earth.

Nature Conservancy is working with various groups to ensure sustainable food for us all. Here are some of the top stories I’d like to share with you.

1.     Grass fed beef in Arizona

An Arizona beef cattle rancher saves millions of gallons of water by switching to native grasses. Something as seemingly simple as planting native grass is actually part of a paradigm shift for the Mercers. Not only is it a change in how they operate, but also who they work with. (TurfMutt would be so proud of this shift! His children’s plat science education program supports the notion of native plants over imports to sustain the natural habitat and surroundings.)

One change is the market for their beef. By feeding their cattle native grass, the Mercers are tapping into the grass-fed, locally grown beef market. The Mercers sell their beef—under the name Sombrero Butte Beef—at local farmers’ markets and at a gourmet Tucson restaurant.

2.     Sustainable Seafood in California

In Morro Bay, California, The Nature Conservancy worked with local fishermen to to establish 3.8 million acres of no-trawl zones off California’s Central Coast. Historically, groundfish — species that live close to the sea floor — have served as the backbone of fisheries in this region. But the overreliance of traditional bottom trawling — a fishing method that drags nets along the sea floor — led to habitat damage habitat, harm to other marine species and a decline in local fishing income.  The partnership is now pioneering innovative ways to catch fish, and this work has already improved the environmental and economic performances of the local fishery.

3.     Texas Rice Farmer

The Clive Runnells Family Mad Island Marsh Preserve is located near the midpoint of the Texas coast. For more than twenty years, the Franzen family has leased land on the preserve to grow rice, which creates feeding and roosting opportunities for native and migratory birds. The arrangement has benefited their family, the Conservancy and the human and wildlife communities of the Texas coast.

4.     Oysters in Massachusetts

Cape Cod’s Wellfleet, Massachusetts was literally built on shellfish. A century ago, wild reefs bustling with life were so huge ships had to navigate around them, but by the 1970s wild harvesting, pollution and disease had chiseled away the last wild reef.
Now, the Conservancy, Mass Audubon, NOAA and the Town of Wellfleet are experimenting with different structures on which oyster seed can stick, with the goal of rebuilding a reef that would bolster local populations of shellfish and provide benefits like clean water and defense against rising seas.

Happy Earth Day, Ya’ll! Now go hug a tree and bow to the Mother that holds us all!

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