Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Center for Biodiversity and Conservation



There are many simple ways in which you can help to sustain biodiversity. Here are some tips to get started. Check back for updates!


use water wisely Freshwater is a precious, finite resource. Conserving water not only helps to preserve this irreplaceable natural resource, but also helps reduce the strain on urban wastewater management systems, saving money and energy. There are many, easy ways to conserve our water resources into the future.
Click here to learn more.
refill at tap
Bottled water may be a healthy and increasingly common alternative to soft drinks, but the plastic bottle has a hidden dark side: energy consumption, waste disposal, and other environmental concerns. As bottled water grows in popularity, these problems also proliferate. Easy solution: if you want to carry water with you, why not get a reusable bottle and refill it at the tap? Click here to learn more about water.
plain soap works! Studies show that for most uses antibacterial soaps aren't any better than ordinary soap at preventing common illnesses. There is also growing concern among scientists that the chemicals commonly used in antibacterial soaps—triclosan and triclocarban—pose serious health and environmental concerns, especially because they persist in the environment and can contaminate our lakes, rivers, and water sources. Click here to learn more about water.


choose locally grown food Visit farmers’ markets and stock up on food in-season or join a community-supported agriculture group. Supporting local agriculture helps conserve farmland, bolsters the economy, provides fresh food to people, and reduces the pollution and energy use related to transporting food over great distances.
choose organic food Increased use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, irrigation, and fossil fuels have caused pollution of our waterways and degradation of habit. Studies have shown that agricultural chemicals can be replaced by alternatives that are friendlier to biodiversity. Choosing organically grown food supports the demand for such food and will help lessen the impacts of synthetic chemicals on the environment.
be a vegetarian once a week- or more! The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations states that livestock production is one of the major causes of the world's most pressing environmental problems, including global warming, land degradation, air and water pollution, and loss of biodiversity. Reducing our meat consumption and making wise choices can encourage more sustainable livestock management. Check out Local Harvest or the Eat Well Guide to find nearby sources of sustainable meat, poultry, and dairy (US and Canada).
choose seafood wisely All seafood is not the same! Many fish and shellfish species have been severely overharvested, and some fish farming practices are polluting, or, paradoxically, unsustainable through feeding the farmed fish meal made from wild fish. To make informed choices, consult one of these sustainable seafood guides:
Blue Ocean Institute, Monterey Bay Aquarium, Environmental Defense
choose shade-grown coffee Biologists report finding many fewer bird species in newer, sunny coffee fields than in the traditional shaded farms they replaced. Coffee grown in the shade also requires few or no chemical inputs—the leaf litter replenishes the soil nutrients and birds discourage pests.


calculate your carbon footprint Energy conservation—at home, at work, at school, and while traveling—reduces greenhouse gas emissions. The US Environmental Protection Agency's emissions calculator gives you an estimate of your personal greenhouse gas emissions (or your family's). Then see if you can shrink your "carbon footprint"! Click here to learn more about climate change and what you can do.
choose green enery Green power is supplied in whole or in part from renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar power, geothermal, and hydropower, all of which come with fewer negative environmental impacts. Click here for more information on choosing green power.
Adjust 2 degrees Moving your thermostat down just two degrees in winter and up just two degrees in summer adds up to real energy savings over time. If possible, program your thermostat for downtimes when the home is empty.
look for energy star When it comes time to replace household appliances – televisions, refrigerators, freezers, furnaces, air conditioners, water heaters – choose items with the Energy Star label—they meet strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the Environmental Protection Agency and the US Department of Energy.
wash and dry efficiently Since about 90% of the energy used for washing clothes is for heating the water, you can drastically cut energy by using cooler water. ENERGY STAR washers use 50% less energy than standard washers, and about half the water! Also consider lines outside or racks indoors for drying.
unplug! Chargers for your cell phone, iPod, digital camera, and computer can all use significant amounts of power even when they’re not charging the devices. Use power strips to switch off televisions, home theater equipment, and stereos when you’re not using them, as these products waste energy even when you think they are turned “off.” Consider investing in a solar-powered charger for your electronic digital devices.
phase out traditional light bulbs The new compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs are widely available, fit most standard fixtures, and use a fraction of the electricity that incandescent lamps use (and last seven to ten times longer). Always recycle CFLs.


paper or plastic? Neither! Plastic bags are everywhere—they get caught in trees and they clog our waterways. Paper bags come with a significant environmental impact as well, made out of tree pulp and utilizing energy to produce. Best is to bring a cloth bag instead of plastic or paper... or choose no bag!
refill your mug Start your day by breaking free of the disposable habit. Using a refillable mug reduces waste and energy consumption—even recycled paper cups utilize energy and resources to produce. Many coffee shops and employee cafeterias offer discounts for those that refill their mugs.
recycle bottle caps While almost all US municipalities accept plastic bottles for recycling, many require that the cap be removed, as it is a different kind of plastic. This does not mean the caps can't be recycled! Many schools and girl and boy scout troops have bottle cap collection drives. If your town or city will not accept them, you can also find where to recycle bottle caps in your area here.
start composting-indoors or out Many things we throw away can be turned into compost, which you can use on houseplants or on plants outside. To learn more about composting, click here [PDF].


plant native plants Landscaping with native plants requires minimal maintenance and enhances wildlife habitat. Contact your local botanical garden, arboretum, or native plant nursery for information about what grows best in your area and the habitat requirements of different plant species.
Controlling non-native predators such as domestic cats is an important part of maintaining or creating native habitat. Free-roaming domestic cats are responsible for killing perhaps hundreds of millions of birds each year. Many groups stress that keeping your cat inside makes for a healthier and happier feline as well.
reduce night lighting Life on Earth has evolved over the millennia in response to predictable day-night cycles. Artificial night lighting interferes with these adaptations and can affect animal navigation, reproduction, and courtship, as well as plant germination and flowering. Conserve energy and protect plants and animals from the disorienting (and often harmful) effects of light pollution.
They are not proven effective against pests and end up killing beneficial insects. The most important thing you can do to prevent mosquitos in your yard is to find and eliminate all sources of standing water.


green your holidays A festive and magical time for children and adults alike, the holidays can also be stressful, involving excessive spending on presents, decorations, and parties, resulting in greater resource use and waste. Click here for tips on sustainable holiday activities.