They’re known for their talent in pollinating plants and ultimately helping the earth’s crops grow, but a recent news story gives us all reason to have a new appreciation for these tiny creatures.
Scientists at Washington University in St. Louis have discovered a way to use bee venom to destroy HIV cells. This “wonder drug” may be delivered via a vaginal gel that can destroy the virus before it has a chance to take over healthy cells and cause infection.
But this life-saving substance made from bees may not be so easy to come by. Over the last several decades, bees have virtually flown into oblivion as the world’s bee colony populations have declined to alarming numbers. Bee keepers have reported losing more than half of their colonies in a strange occurrence called colony collapse.
Colony collapse, as it was first termed in late 2006, is the drastic disappearance of worker bees in Western honey bee colonies in North America. This phenomenon is the result of many factors, including mites and insect diseases, environmental change, pesticides and even cell phone radiation. Researchers say that some chemicals used in pesticides fog honey bee brains, making it harder for them to navigate their way home.
So what’s the takeaway from the plight of the bee? Besides the fact that we should be concerned with all of nature, including the tiniest of organisms, think of it this way. Without the tiny bee, OUR food supplies will dwindle fast and our chances of ridding the world of the most devastating epidemic in decades will disappear.
On Sunday evening, I watched the news show 60 minutes and was shocked at what I saw. The story that I watched was about e-waste recycling. E-waste includes all those computer items, old printers, monitors, scanners, etc., that sits in our garages and storage spaces. These items can’t be simply thrown in the trash because many of the components contain large amounts of lead and mercury that is extremely dangerous to humans, wildlife and the environment. All over the country, cities and organizations hold e-waste recycling events where people can bring these unwanted items to be recycled. Many companies claim to dispose of these items responsibly, and not ship these items to other countries to be dumped. However, many of these companies do the latter. For example, at a e-waste recycling event in Colorado, many people brought their old computers to be recycled, intending to get rid of the waste while helping the environment. But the company, like many others, simply ship the items to Hong Kong in exchange for money, where poor workers dismantle and openly burn the parts with no protection on their bodies, for a mere $8 a day. Toxic amounts of lead accumulate in the e-waste landfill, pushing cancer, brain damage and infant mortality rates off the charts. The land has become a toxic waste dump.
When will we put the well-being of all human beings before our insatiable desire for money? When will we genuinely make environmental conservation a priority? At what point did we, as humans, get to be so ruthless and uncaring? We are all the same, despite our different colors, different religions, different cultures. We all want health for ourselves and our families. We all want to be able to obtain the most basic of needs and get them without sacrificing life and limb to get it. We all deserve clean air to breathe and lead-free water to drink. The earth deserves to create and re-create as it should because of the life that it provides us. We are all human. Only when we truly realize this and act accordingly will we be able to heal this planet.
To see this video, click on the link below:
CBS ’60 Minutes’ Report: The Electronic Wasteland
When I was growing up, there was a grocery store in my neighborhood called Sack ‘N Save. At the checkout, you had two options: pay per bag or grab a box in the front of the store and box up your own groceries. I’m sure their aim was cutting costs, but they were actually on to something much bigger. Conservation. Years later when I brought my old moving boxes to carry my groceries out of the store, the clerk looked at me like I was from another planet. It wasn’t fashionable but definitely earth-friendly!
Plastic bags, like plastic bottles, are quickly becoming detrimental to our environment and our health. Americans use 380 billlion plastic bags annually. Many of these bags end up in our oceans and ingested by wildlife. The petroleum used to make 14 plastic bags can drive a car for one mile. Lessening the use of plastic bags can go a long way in improving our environment and bottom line.
Luckily, you don’t have to haul around brown, bulky boxes to help the planet when you shop. Now you can pick up a sturdy, reusable bag for pennies (I’ve seen them at Wal-mart for 50 cents). They’re washable, easy to use and can carry some serious weight. Some are hip, chic and downright cool and they’re at almost every store. I have graduated and now have my own collection of different bag sizes and shapes, even insulated ones to keep my frozen foods cold until I get home. Keep them in your car so you don’t leave them behind. Bring Your Own Bag!
Reusable Bag Links:
Today’s Green Product I Can’t Live Without is the Reware 6.5v Power Pocket solar-powered charger. Save electricity and use the power of the sun to charge your cell phone, digital camera, portable video game or any other small electronic device. This lightweight gadget charges at the same speed as plugging into a wall.
Click here for more information on the Reware Power Pocket solar-powered charger.
This is one of my family’s favorite tasting herbs. It’s maple syrup flavor is delicious. Fenugreek acts as a laxative, coats the intestines and reduces fever. Its seeds can help lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels. It is also helpful to nursing mothers by increasing milk production.
Nutrient content: Amino acids, calcium, essential fatty acids, folate, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, potassium, selenium, zinc, vitamins B1, B2, B3 and C.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These statements are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
Don’t feel bad if you don’t clean your plate. Put those kitchen and food scraps to good use by composting. Composting is the decomposition of plant and animal materials into a dark, nutrient-rich substance that is an ideal food for houseplants, yards and gardens. It’s a great way to reuse food scraps and a crucial step to decreasing the volume of waste that needlessly goes to landfills.
Why not just throw food scraps in the trash? According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 25% of the nearly 236 million tons of waste we accumulate annually here in the U.S. is composed of food scraps and yard debris (i.e. grass clippings and leaves). Food and yard debris that does not break down in local landfills emits methane, a greenhouse gas that is several times more potent than carbon dioxide. Because greenhouse gases are the main contributor to climate change, reducing the amount of organic wastes that goes to landfills can have a huge affect.
Okay, so what can you do? You guessed it. Compost. Starting a compost pile or bin is very easy. Click on the links below to get tips on starting your own. It can be done indoors or outdoors. Start a neighborhood compost, get the kids involved or use it as an educational tool for science class. So at the end of your next meal, put those scraps on a compost pile!