Today, June 5th, 2018, is World Environment Day. Yes, everyday has it’s own national or global purpose now. However, one like World Environment Day, should be celebrated everyday. I know, it sounds cliche.

But, it is true.

The environment brings forth life to all organisms creating plant and animal matter. We as humans, have destroyed much of the planet through our quest for profit.

Biggest Threat: Plastic!

Plastic pollution is currently the most disastrous product that was ever invented. Take a moment and look at your surroundings. How many items are made of some form of plastic? Uncanny, it’s a vast majority of items. I, myself, this laptop I am typing on, my lap desk for the couch, my wireless mouse, my cell phone, my FitBit, my clipboard, the pens and pencils, the television, the printer and so much more.

We have become infatuated with single use and disposable and durability. However, some durability has no other function or purpose. One it has served it’s purpose it is discarded. Ends up on the ground, oceans, and forests. Even the lowest point of the ocean, the Mariana Trench. This is located in the Pacific Ocean more than 36,000 feet, which is technically if “higher or deeper” than Mount Everest (at 29,026 feet).

That is insane!! we have literally found a way to pollute every part of the planet. The problem with plastic: there is no “shelf-life”. They live inevitable. There are no natural micro-organism to break down plastic. It may break into smaller pieces, but those pieces never go away. They continue to accumulate on land and in salt and fresh water bodies.

Many sea-life creature have been found dead with an accumulation of plastic found in their bodies. Animals unintentionally consume plastic and suffer dire consequences. Plastic is used for primarily every product. From food containers, microwaving products, food ware, school and office supplies, shoe wear, electronics, automotives, clothing, edible, non-edible. PLASTIC IS EVERYWHERE!

Conundrum: How do you avoid it? How do you prevent it from becoming more pollution?

  • Stop your consumption of plastic products:
    • Fast-Food Dilemma 
      • You do not need plastic silverware for lunch, dinner, fast food etc. First, fast food is not good for your health so, you should omit it. Also, fast food enterprises are primarily guilty for creating the supply and demand for “single-use” products. Everything you purchase for $5-$10 you will only use once, not recycle it and disperse of it.
      • Solution for fast paced life: MEAL PREP. Yes, it is time-consuming to an extent, but you are in control. All my meals are made fresh, no preservatives and no plastic use. I use glass container to carry my lunch and meals. I take my own silverware so there is no need to purchase plastic silverware, which you cannot recycle because of the food contaminants. It real is something, that small and simple to induce a change.
    • Buy items only sold in recyclable packaging.
      • Meaning no more plastic bags, containers, peanut butters, etc.
      • Solutions: purchase jars to keep products fresh. Go to stores that sell items not in plastic packaging, but wholesomely so that you may refill your from home jars.
    • Gardening!
      • One of the simplest things you can do is start your own garden. This will limit the amount of items you buy in stores that come in pre-packaged plastic bags or containers.
      • You can reuse old items and convert them into flower planters or use glass jars to start a garden.
    • Carry your own bag!
      • Many states have implemented an additional charge on plastic bags to limit the use and sale of them. Customers bring their own reusable bag to carry items home from any type of purchase. Thus, decreasing the use and demand for single use.
      • Plastic bags are not biodegradable and harm so much of wildlife. Animals get stuck or caught in bags. Ocean animals consume bags mistaking them for other sea creatures.
    • Convert your products.
      • Every item you have in your home, most likely has a eco-friendly or bio-degradable version. Please consider switching to that alternative. Toothbrushes are plastic, use a bamboo toothbrush instead! Most office supplies can be made with recycled materials. Home filtered water is the best alternative to single use plastic water bottles.
    • Save MONEY!
      • Huh, how does not buying plastic save me money? You pay for the cost of being lazy. That is right, I said it. You are LAZY. Humans are lazy. The single-use catasrophy has made humans lazy and dirty. We purchase one-time items and literally throw them away. We no longer take the effort to make meals, learn to cook, learn to garden, learn to make and create things. The average human is not that creative, because they no longer have to use their brains to form something to be useful. We literally rely on pre-made products to “function”.
        • When you purchase single use items, you get less of the actual product you are purchasing. For example, cookies. the quantity is less, but you are paying for more plastic or aluminum packaging. You then discard that packaging because it cannot be reused. Purchasing non-individually wrapped items that you have to portion, you pay significantly less, but you also reduce waste. Saying no to plastic will not only save the world, but it was help make you affluent.

Did you know it takes more water to create and produce plastic than there is on the planet to consume? Think about that. Water sources are depleting all around the world and they are being used for plastic production.

Take a moment today and analyze your home. See what products are plastic that you can do without or will no longer need to re-purchase. You will be surprised how much less you will have to throw away and how much money you may actually save.

Join the revolution against plastic! Say NO to plastic. No more plastic pollution.

Last Day of Wetlands Month!

Did you know May is called “Wetlands Month”?!

I wish I knew earlier that it was #WetlandsMonth! My entire passion and reason for going to law school is to protect the Everglades. Once, one of the largest wetlands in the state of Florida and in the world!! While in law school I wrote my upper level writing requirement on the everglades and restoring it. In this blog post I will cite to some excerpts from my paper. (DISCLAIMER: Please do not plagiarize. I busted my butt for two years working on it and intend to be published, okay thanks!) Fun Fact: My logo picture is of the Everglades. I went there 3 years ago to get more information on the Everglades and what is being done to protect and restore it.

Being a native Floridian from Miami, the Everglades is very near and dear to my heart, so are the protections for it. Knowing the south Florida continues to destroy the everglades is one of the reasons I decided politics may be where my career lies. Now, I live in Orlando, but who knew my drive for protecting the Everglades would have grown with the physical distance. I actually live in the wetlands in Orlando. Also, the headwaters of the Everglades is located in Kissimmee, Florida. Yes, the Everglades used to encompass more than a third of the state. Now, it barely covers the south eastern portion of the state.

What is a wetland?

A wetland is an area where much of the land is submerged in water or covered in water. It maintains this state for much of it’s duration through out the wet and dry seasons. A wetland is home to an array of animals and plant life. Many of which are not found anywhere else in the world. More specifically, the Everglades was formed over 100,000 years ago! (Book I cite in my paper!)

Purpose of a Wetland

From an ecocentric perspective, it has a right to exist solely for its on inherent value. Meaning, it is natural and should exist on its own. Wetlands are one of the only ecological systems that brings forth various forms of life into one area to coexist. The Florida Everglades is one of the only places where you may find the American Crocodile and Alligator in the same place.

A wetland is one of the key sources of potable (drinking) water. Rain and run off waters seep into the ground through the marshes and then down into the limestone. This is the purest form of cleaning pollutants and contaminants out of the water. This beautifully, naturally filtered water eventually ends up in our aquifers. An aquifer is underground layer of permeable rock, which essentially acts as holding tank for water. (Over the years the water table has been dredged by huge conglomerates in processing bottled water. (I’ll go off that tangent another day).

Pretty much, wetlands act as a natural sponge to soak up all contaminants and then create purified drinking water! So, why are we destroying it?!

Destroyers of the Everglades: Big Sugar and Corporations

Again, these are people who have no regard for the sanctity of nature to just exist. Further, they have only one goal: money.

Big Sugar, refers to the huge lobbying industry in the state of Florida. A lot of the agricultural land near Lake Okeechobee is owned by sugar cane farmers. They are heavily subsidized by our government! Why? Obesity. (again, another tangent). The East Agricultural Area, is all sugar land. Much of this run of water from the pesticides and over use of phosphorus end up in the lake. The lake once connected tot he beautiful “River of Grass”, but has stopped. There are many proponents to release the headwaters back from Kissimmee, but the issue is the pollution.

IF those waters are released from the lake the will transfer polluted water into what is left of the wetlands. High levels of phosphorus allow for invasive plant species to thrive. Additionally, these high volumes are too much for the depleted wetland to clean. This also creates algae build up, which in turn blocks oxygen in the water. No oxygen, then the plant and animal life begin to suffer. Thus, creating a catastrophic chain of events. Single handily we are destroying an entire eco-system that existed long before humans ever “conquered” these lands.

What will you do to help protect our innocent Wetlands? Remember, Florida is not the only place with wetlands, they are found all over, but are being destroyed at an alarming rate by human sprawling and the need to create farms everywhere…for profit.

Profits will not protect the environment, nor will it prevent destruction of innocent sentient beings throughout the world. Will you be a part of the solution? To protect, preserve and restore!!

Meatless Monday Chronicles: What’s that Quinoa Thing?!

Hey everyone! Sorry for the late start, or late post. It has been one heck of a Monday! I have been a little under the weather, so my food is kind of like comfort food today.

Today,  I used quinoa. I know what is this weird grain thing that all veggie and vegan people eat. I literally put it in everything from, “fried rice”, pancakes, eggs, brownies, I mean pretty much anything. It truly is a fantastic grain. It has a lot of antioxidants, which are great for your skin and fighting free radicals in the body. There is also a lot of protein in this enriched, ancient grain. The ancient people of Peru utilized this grain.

The dark truth of quinoa’s ever growing popularity, is that this food source was once a staple in Peru. However, today this grain now costs more than rice in their country because it is of only high demand in the United States and other more advanced countries. This has hurt the populations because they now lack access to their own natural food source. How do you make the right choice? Look for free-trade brands when you are shopping. It is the best for the environment and the surrounding people. Remember this is all our planet and we all deserve the riches she provides.

Enough of my soap box. What do you do with quinoa?! Well, you can cook it as the package instructs with water. This is best when you are going to use the quinoa for some other purpose. Such as pancakes (I’ll teach this recipe soon!)

For today, I used it in its normal form, a grain or a starch for my meal. Let’s start!

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • Quinoa 1 cup
  • Vegetable broth 2 cups
  • 3 big Idaho potatoes (or whatever you have on hand)
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 tablespoons of a diced onion
  • half a bunch of asparagus

Seasoning for Potatoes (Perfect side as wedges/fries)

  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dill weed
  • you can always add more if you prefer more flavor!

 

Process:

  • Heat the oven to 375 degrees for the potatoes.
  • Cut the potatoes long way to make nice even strips or wedge shape.
  • To prevent from turning brown, place potatoes in a bowl of ice water. This helps remove a lot of starch and helps in the cooking process.
  • Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray.
  • Place your wedges on the sheet and add the seasonings.
  • Mix them up with your hands and then throw in the oven for 15 minutes, then flip and return for 15 minutes.

 

  • While the potatoes are cooking let’s move on to the rest.
  • Chop your onion and throw in a medium sized skillet.
  • Peel the carrots and cut on a diagonal and cut the ends off the asparagus.
  • Then rinse the carrots and asparagus.
  • Bring the onion to a nice sauté and then add the rest of the veggies.
  • Meanwhile, in another medium size saucepan. Heat some olive oil.
  • Add the 1 cup of quinoa to the pot and let it get toasted, like you would pasta or rice. Gives it an extra earthy flavor.
  • Then add the 2 cups of vegetable stock. This also adds new flavor to the quinoa, which is a lot like a sponge and absorbs what ever flavors you put in it.
  • Let it boil and then simmer until all the liquid is absorbed.

 

Serve:

  • Throw the quinoa at the bottom of your dish.
  • Add the veggies on top and the potatoes, there is your quick and easy  beginner quinoa meal!!

 

Check out some photos of the process. Let me know what else you like to put quinoa in!

 

 

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Weekly Wisdom Wednesday: Everyday Pollution

Pollution. The definition according to Webster’s dictionary is : “the action of polluting especially by environmental contamination with man-made waste.”

Ah, there’s the key word – “man-made waste”. Everything humans create is not natural to the planet, i.e. pollution. Majority of the products created throughout mankind’s history are not from natural resources. From the inception of humans we have always formed and created tools from either things in nature or now, in a lab or a factory. Many of the items we have grown to become accustom to in our everyday lives are actually the very products that are leading the epidemic of pollution.

For example, plastic water bottles. These items are created for individual, one sale use. The demand for single use items has grown exponentially over the years. however, the demand is not only by the “industrialized nations”, such as the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, and so on and so forth. There is a plethora of single use water bottles in “third world” countries all around the world! Why? Well, if the “better” nations are doing this and leading by example, then we must follow suit. The issue is simple: these items take 450 years (yes, you read that correctly, that is FOUR centuries!)

What is the other problem with plastic water bottles? The amount of oil used to create them! So, we are using a non-renewable resource to create something that will not decompose in any of our lifetimes. Some have said it is roughly over 1.6 million barrels of oil to make plastic water bottles.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) is unable to provide a real number for the amount of crude oil that is used to produce plastic. Then whom is responsible for knowing these specific amounts? ( I will do some real legal research and come back and update this post).

The purpose of this post was to show that we are responsible for pollution. Everything that humankind has created is with a single purpose. Once those items have fulfilled their purpose they are literally thrown away! There is not even a thought to repurpose them, recycle them, or reuse them in another fashion. This is for glass, plastic, cardboard, paper, napkins and the list goes on!

Collectively, we need to find a way to reduce the DEMAND for single use items. Imagine a world where all you saw was trash every step you made. Oh, wait… we already live in that world.

Here are some images from my stroll in Port Canaveral, Florida this past weekend. I was abhorred to see the amount of trash I did in every single turn!

 

I was disgusted and disappointed. I could not fathom that I descended from one of the “most” intelligent species to see such disregard for the environment. For those of you that are not familiar with Florida’s geography. Port Canaveral is of course near NASA, but it is also the major Port for cruise vessels. That means the ocean is right there!

Below is an image of my location.

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One of the biggest causes of sea life death, pollution! So, if you are littering all over near the ocean, odds are majority of this trash is going to wind up in the ocean.

What can we do? I will admit, I did not see a lot of recycling or trash receptacles. However, that does not mitigate our duty to do our due diligence and pick up and throw or recycle items!

We only have one planet, please take care of it. If you have any other suggestions or things you have seen work, please feel free to comment!

 

Mentor from Afar, Dr. Jane Goodall

I became enamored with Dr. Jane Goodall as a child, watching her on television. I thought how remarkable her career must be to study animals for a living and traveling the world. Her passion inspired me to want to make a difference in the world. To be the change I wanted to see. She instilled something within that I have since tried to follow.

Dr. Goodall may not even know the impact she has had on my life or my choices, but everything she stands for is what I believe in. She made groundbreaking strides not only for women in a male dominated field, but for animals. The Chimpanzees are very lucky to have an advocate like her in their corner. Dr. Goodall also brings the protection of local and indigenous people into the realm of protection. We must educate the masses on their vital role to protecting wildlife. The local people are very much part of the problem, but also they key to the solution when provided with the proper tools.

Not only is she a brilliant scientist, but a phenomenal world leader. She is known for being a peacemaker around the globe. According to her website, she “travels the world, writing, speaking and spreading hope though action, encouraging each of us to use ‘the gist of our life to make the world a better place’.”

I may not have followed in her footsteps, but I have continued to follow her work. I may not have become the scientist my parents wished, but I instead chose to take the law into my own hands and pursue a career in the protection of the environment and animals.

Many people do not believe they can make a change, but Dr. Jane Goodall is the perfect example of one person “being the change they wish to see in the world.” She is the ultimate “shero”, most definitely one of my idols. My dream is to one day meet her in a world where animals are given rights to exist and coexist with humans. I aspire to one day achieve the incredible accolades Dr. Goodall has over her lifetime as a pioneer in the animal rights community. Thank you for everything you have done, Dr. Goodall. Wishing you the most fabulous 84th Birthday. Here is to many more, and one day meeting you.

One of your biggest fans, Elizabeth ❤

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Amongst the Hustle and Bustle…Life is Created

Even with the constant movement in our mundane lives, life is being created. Spring is the time of rebirth. For all the beautiful plant life and vegetation, the sun is out longer and new plants have a chance to blossom. With the revival of the fauna, it is also time time for LIFE!

In our little yard, we noticed some perfectly made holes in our fence post. Of course, we thought woodpeckers! Interestingly enough, it was definitely birds, but not the ones we thought. We have in our fence post multiple holes in multiples posts and they all seem to be form the same birds! They have blue upper bodies and a red breast area. They are called Eastern Bluebird. If you click on the link you can see the type of bird I am referring too, unfortunately, I did not catch any good photos of the birds, but I see them everyday!

However, I have pictures of something even more precious. Important Note: Never touch wild eggs or wild babies. The parents will no longer recognize the scent and they will then abandon their eggs or young. This is a common problem of humans always feeling the necessity to touch what does not belong to them.

When we took our picture, we made it quick and brief and did not linger long so or scent would not perfume the air. The parents kept a safe distance as we captured a quick photo! Do you see the beauty?! Five beautiful small colored eggs, you could not ask for a more special Easter Surprise! We can’t wait to see the little birdies learn to fly. ❤ Happy Easter!!

Elusive Ghost Crab

The Elusive Ghost Crab
Probably my favorite creature on the shoreline. I absolutely love crabs! They are the cutest thing running across the beach, sideways. Have you ever notice tiny holes on the beach when you arrive early morning right before sunrise? Crabs are pretty active in the early hours, mainly because their main predators, birds cannot see them as easily. They tend to burrow into their holes. They are very shy and easily frightened. I had to stay pretty far to get a picture of this one. I am a huge proponent of beach clean ups. This little ‘fella’ was out while I was cleaning the beach with fellow law students. Beach clean ups are one of the best ways to give back to the earth and then being able to spend the rest of the day enjoying what nature has to offer. Whether it is finding crabs, watching birds dive into the ocean. Seeing, jellyfish, turtles or other fish in the water and even the rare stingray if you are lucky! I would never trade the ocean life. There are a multitude of creatures that can be found at the beach.Just remember to respect their space and admire them from a distance. They are just as afraid of us as we are of them.

The End of the White Rhino

What are you going to do to help prevent the extinction of animals? Poaching is not necessary. The horns of these animals are made of the same material as our fingernails and hair. Why is it so coveted throughout the world? If there is no demand then there should be no supply. The people who poach and kill many of these innocent creatures are doing it out of desperation to feed and support their families. They are forced. The extinction problem is a human caused problem.

Humans have an obsession with believing we are indestructible and our actions hold no consequences. Quite the contrary, animals such as the White Rhino coexisted with dinosaurs for millions of years before our existence. We single handily destroyed this species. For what? To exploit their horns and carve designs on them? Supposedly according to ancient culturales they held healing powers. However, we are not as ignorant as our ancestors. We have science that has proven we do not need any of those materials from a Rhino or any other animal such as elephants, tigers, pangolins and more.

We must come together to preserve what is late of the wildlife. Humans created this problem. Now, humans have to solve it.

What will you do to help?

My First Experience in a Winter Wonderland

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I finally got to experience snow, at the young, ripe age of 27! Being a native Floridian, I never got to experience snow. Snow is a mesmerizing form of science. Frozen water. Maybe it is because I have never experienced snow, that I am able to appreciate it in all this natural awe. This is picture from February 2017 in Brattleboro, Vermont. This is a creek in the backyard of the house we were visiting.

I simply found myself just standing outside and experiencing my surroundings through my senses. Feeling the cold air as the wind cascaded against me. Smelling snow for the first time, is quite like smelling rain, they have their own distinct smells. Staring at the icy creek, wanting to stand out, but knowing that with enough force the ice could break through. Giving you that exhilarating sensation of the unknown. Listening to every footstep as the snow crunches beneath your feet. Most importantly, just being able to see snow and realizing that it is exactly like every book, picture or movie you have ever encountered describing snow. It simply is breathtaking.

In Memory of Stephen Hawking

Today is a day that will forever be remembered in our history, one of the greatest minds to have existed in out time has passed away. Against all odds he accomplished what many have dreamed. World renowned physicist, Stephen Hawking passed away today at the age of 76. He was more than a scientist, he was an inspiration. He did not let his illness or disability be a hinderance to his life’s work or to making great accomplishments throughout his career.

Professor Hawkins was diagnosed at the age of twenty-two with a rare disease , motor neuron disease. He was a cosmologist, astronomer, mathematician, and author of many books. His most famous book is, “A Brief History of Time”.

One of his famous quotes, “It will be difficult enough to avoid disaster on planet Earth in the next 100 years, let alone next thousand, or million. The human race shouldn’t have all its eggs in one basket, or on one planet. Let’s hope we can avoid dropping the basket until we have spread the load.” I have to agree, we are the caretakers of our planet and we have not treated her well over the years. It is only a matter of time before we bring about complete destruction. It is now we must begin to make an impact on ourselves and the future of our planet.