What it means to be Green

What does it mean to be green? In today’s society it is a word that can dichotomize or unite. Individuals use it to identify themselves as caring for the environment. Corporations use it as a way to improve their images, a practice that is degrading its eco-friendly connotation. For some, it means reducing your carbon footprint by making changes like buying organic food, using natural cleaning products, and buying energy-efficient appliances. The true meaning of being green, however, is more comprehensive, and encompasses the creation of a sustainable society. Several global initiatives have created declarations to clarify these principles and guide the transition to sustainable development, most notably the Global Green Charter and the Earth Charter.

The Global Greens is a worldwide network of Green parties. In 2001, 800 delegates from 72 countries created the Global Green Charter, which specifies 6 guiding principles to being Green.

Ecological Wisdom
Everything on this planet is connected. Therefore we must ensure the integrity of ecosystems and preserve biodiversity. This requires the protection of all life, and the elements that sustain it, such as water, earth, air, and sun.

Social justice
Poverty is a source of environmental degradation, as well as a major social, ethical, and economic problem. We must ensure the equal distribution of resources throughout the world, reduce the gap between rich and poor, eliminate illiteracy, and build a new citizenship based on equal rights for all.

Participatory democracy
All citizens should have the power to influence decisions that affect their lives. This involves providing education, transparency, and returning governance to the local communities.

Nonviolence
The emphasis of maintaining security should not be placed on the military, but rather on prevention and conflict management. Efforts should be made to remove the causes of war and restrict arms exports.

Sustainability
In order to alleviate the pressure on our natural resources it is necessary to shift society’s focus away from consumption to quality of life. It is critical that we learn to use renewable resources sustainably, and halt the use of non-renewable resources. Since there will be no environmental justice without social justice, we must also work to alleviate poverty.

Respect for diversity
We must defend the rights of all persons, ensure equality, and respect all cultural, religious, sexual, and linguistic differences.

The Earth Charter is a list of ethical principles with the goal of creating a sustainable global society founded on respect for nature, universal human rights, economic justice, and a culture of peace. Recognizing that these elements are interdependent, the charter provides a framework for action and important guidelines to follow.

What does being green mean for business? It means committing to the improvement of the Triple Bottom Line, also called the 3 P’s (people, planet, and profits), a criterion for success that considers social, environmental, and economic factors. Although thinking about success in 3-dimensions sounds overwhelming and expensive, businesses that are pursuing sustainability are becoming more competitive and profitable[1]. The fact is that for a business to be sustainable it has to consider all of these factors. We can no longer have limited and shortsighted views, but rather we need to ensure future abundance for the entire world.

 

Read the original article at http://www.examiner.com/green-business-in-san-diego/what-it-means-to-be-green

Local-washing makes me ANGRY!

Have you heard about the latest craze for big corps? Local-washing is the new black. What if you’re a big corporation buying items from Asia and selling them in communities across America, while keeping your employees part-time on minimum wage? Don’t you get to call yourself local?

NOOOOOOO!

I think we can all agree that Walmart is not local, no matter how much they may try to sell that baloney to us, but how pervasive and insidious is this problem? I love local weekend markets. Finding fresh, juicy, locally grown veggies, talking to farmers, perusing local handicrafts. I was enjoying one such experience at the Pompano Beach Green Market, when I noticed something odd. Some of the bell peppers had ‘Grown in Florida’ stickers on them, while others did not. I asked where those peppers were grown, and I was told Chile.

Chile? That’s not local. Hmmm

(On a side note, I also noticed everyone putting their vegetables in plastic bags. 2 peppers in one bag, 3 zucchini in another bag, and so on. Then at the checkout counter all of those bags were subsequently placed into another PLASTIC BAG! Really people??? I KNOW you all have reusable bags sitting on your kitchen counter. They don’t count if you don’t USE THEM!)

So far it seems that Whole Foods may actually be the best place to buy local foods in my area. In addition to the produce and meat, there is also an isle full of dried fruits, nuts, and other Florida-made items. It is a chain, but the point is – Does it create better opportunities for farmers than the local market? Since I see more non-local stuff than local stuff the “local” market, I have to say yes.

This is an important issue, so if you have no idea what I’m talking about you should check out these websites…
SustainableTable.org
LocalHarvest.org

And don’t be afraid to ask questions!

Cape to Cairo officially begins

Day 1

On September 5th I left Cape Town with fellow traveler, Nick. Our first destination was Namaqualand National Park in the Northern Cape. We were hoping to see the blooming of the wildflowers, which is supposed to be an incredible site. Arriving on time to see this is an exact science, and we missed the main bloom, but there were still tons of beautiful flowers to be seen.
Namqualand wildflowers2
From there we traveled up to Ai-Ais National Park in Namibia. I was a little worried about having trouble crossing the border, since my South African travel visa had been expired for almost 3 months. I was fined R1500 (about $190), but luckily I was told that I could pay when I re-enter the country. Score! Ai-Ais is popular because of a hot spring there, so you know I was stoked to check it out. It turns out the hot water from the spring is diverted into a pool. Rather then relax in steamy hot water, you swim in a luke-warm pool. The air temperature was pretty cold, so I wasn’t into it.

The next day we headed north to Fish River Canyon, but were sidetracked to the Canon Lodge in Gondwanaland when Nick noticed some buildings blending into the mountainside. We decided to check them out and found a cool resort and sustainable farm. All of their food is grown and made on the farm. After several delicious meals we were finally ready to head on to Fish River Canyon. This beautiful area is very much like the Grand Canyon, so I felt right at home.
Fish River Canyon
A couple of Swiss travelers we camped next to suggested visiting the Giant’s Playground and Quiver tree forest near Keetmanshoop. I had already fallen in love with the quiver trees on the drive there. The Giant’s Playground is a boulder field, with huge rocks stacked on each other, as though they were a child’s building blocks. Keetmanshoop is a small town with not much going on, but the Quiver tree campground was a nice place to stay, and they have daily cheetah feedings that you can view up close, and even pet the cheetah.
Giant's playground2
After leaving Keetmanshoop we had a long drive to make it to our next destination of Sesriem, from which you enter Soussusvlei, the most beautiful dunes in the world. We had the good fortune of stopping to camp at the Lovedale farm. A very interesting man named Jacobus gave us a tour of the enormous farm, and told us everything we could ever want to know about farming sheep. That night we feasted on bbq mutton.

Soussusvlei was beautiful and frustrating at the same time. The “town” of Sesriem, is really just a campsite and a reception desk from which to purchase entry into Soussusvlei. There is a gated entrance into the campsite, and then an internal gate on the road to Soussusvlei. From Sesriem it is a 65km drive to the dunes. The entrance fee to Soussusvlei is fairly reasonable at R80 per person, plus R10 per car. The campsite, however, is a huge rip-off at R300 per car plus R150 per person. The catch is, if you want to enter the park in time to see the sunrise, and stay long enough to see the sunset you are forced to stay in the campsite because they control the gates. I would have had no problem with this except the receptionist was on a bit of a power trip, the showers barely worked, and the ‘toilets’ at the dunes were…well, I’ll just say they could be better. Also, if your car gets stuck in the sand, you’re on your own. There are no park rangers or telephones, and no cell-phone reception. There are no other campsites in the area, but Nick and I camped on the side of the road just outside the gate for free. Other than that, the dunes were amazing. I think the pictures speak for themselves.
Dune1
Deadvlei2
Dunes
From there we went northwest to the coast, and a little town called Swakopmund. There are more cool dunes in here, and some of them even sparkle! The first 2 nights we stayed at the Seagulls Cry campsite, but had some items stolen while visiting with other campers. Turns out leaving the car doors wide open in a dark campsite and walking away is a bad idea, go figure. It was an unfortunate, but valuable learning lesson about choosing travel partners. Consequently, I am on my own again. For the next couple of days I stayed with a really cool girl named Eva and her cousin Elias. Now I’m staying with Tashia and Dalene in Windhoek. I’m telling you, there are such awesome people on Couchsurfing. I feel like I’m making best friends all over the world, and I love it!

Check out my awesome new friends https://youtu.be/iY3zxS-M0Q4
Today I head to Livingstone and Victoria Falls. Believe it or not, I am excited to be back on the bus. When planning trips, most people instantly start looking for flights to their destination and rental cars to get around. They don’t even consider taking the bus or a train. People are totally missing out! I love using public transportation, and here are a few reasons why:

1. See the countryside
Sure, it’s a 10-hour bus ride instead of a 2-hour flight, but think of all the beautiful landscapes, funny farm animals, and unusual attractions you’ll see. There are great photographic opportunities, especially when you arrive or leave a city at sunset (which I will be doing today from Windhoek). Plus, if you factor in the ride to the airport, the time you wait before boarding the plane, and standing around to get your baggage afterwards, the time difference probably isn’t that much.
2. Meet cool people

Turns out, that creepy-looking guy sitting next to you is actually a German diplomat, and has cool travel stories from all over the world. He even flew with Nelson Mandela once. You never know whom you’ll meet, or what crazy stories you’ll hear if you talk to people.
There is also the chance that a local will give you good advice about where to go, and may even help you get there. Once I had a 10-hour layover in Port Elizabeth. A local offered to show me around the city for the day, and we had a great time! (Thanks Farai ☺)

3. Music therapy

No one to talk to? Awesome, this is my chance to finally listen to the new music I picked up in Cape Town. I think Blk Sonshine is my new favorite band. Really, when do you ever get to just sit and listen to music?

4. Cute kids

Kids can be a great source of entertainment, especially when they are doing funny things like stuffing their mouths with marshmallows (I so wish I had taken a picture). If the kid is actually interested in you (and the mother doesn’t seemed disturbed by you), it’s a great opportunity to do kid things, like coloring. Worried about crying kids? Carry some marshmallows with you, just in case.

5. Environmentally friendly

Don’t forget that air travel has a huge impact on the environment. Here is a chance to reduce your carbon footprint. Plus airplanes are pumped full of nasty chemicals, so you will be saving your body too.

6. Saves money
Not only is public transportation cheaper, but also it may allow you to spread your money to more people by stopping for food at local shops. I always take overnight buses, that way I won’t have to spend money on a hostel.

7. Practice your language skills
Even if you only know a few basic phrases, people in other countries will love hearing you speak their language. You will probably learn a lot as well, so be sure to have a notebook with you. This is another time when little kids come in handy. If you’re in Madagascar, know that they will laugh hysterically at you. Don’t worry, it’s a good thing.

Many people avoid public transportation because they are afraid. Certainly there are a few places where taking trains may be dangerous, but more often it just requires being cautious and aware of your surroundings. Remember, what you focus on is attracted to you. So think positively and smile at those around you. For me, this works every time. So go take a bus trip somewhere…go now!