Don’t Get Tricked into Passing Out Palm Oil This Halloween – from ‘Sierra Magazine”

What was one of the scariest stories of 2019? The massive wildfires that were visible from space as they raged across the vast Amazon rainforest, spreading from Brazil into Bolivia, Paraguay, and Peru. The crisis followed the election of Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, a right-wing ideologue who swiftly weakened environmental protections and encouraged deforestation of the Amazon.

Beyond being the world’s largest carbon sink, the region is home to one in 10 species on Earth. When tropical rainforests burn down, or are destroyed to develop industrial plantations for palm oil—which is added to chocolate and baked goods, turned into fry oil, and added to all manner of snacks, cosmetics, and soaps—these tropical creatures are pushed from their habitats and driven closer to the brink of extinction. The equivalent of 300 football fields of rainforest is destroyed every hour to make way for palm oil plantations, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature—and in the African and Southeast Asian rainforests, this has decimated the populations of vulnerable creatures including tigers, elephants, and rhinos. Orangutans and other primates are particularly besieged, as studies suggest that most areas suitable for growing palm oil overlap with their habitats. Palm oil production impacts humans, too—Indigenous people have been forced from their lands, and plantation workers sickened by pesticides and contaminated water.

According to the Rainforest Action Network (RAN), palm oil appears in roughly half of packaged grocery store foods. (US Food manufacturers increased their use of the world’s cheapest vegetable oil after the FDA started enforcing limits on trans fats in 2005.) The good news is that consumer purchasing power can play a major role in rainforest health.

One step you can take to curb deforestation is to get wise to the details on product packaging. Fewer ingredients mean you’ll have less of a chance of a palm oil encounter, which has dozens of ingredient list aliases—vegetable oil, palmate, cocoa butter equivalent, glyceryl stearate, sodium lauryl sulfate, and glyceryl stearate, to name a few. Of course, you can always demand that your favorite food companies clean up their acts by either finding alternatives to the stuff, or sourcing their palm oil responsibly. (Check out RANs handy scorecard, which keeps track of product manufacturers that have pledged to limit deforestation,—and contributions to the climate and humanitarian crises—by switching to more sustainable forms of palm and other oils.)

Thanks to consumer action and grassroots activism, the candy industry has made some strides in recent years, with major corporations including Nestle and Hershey removing palm oil from many beloved Halloween staples. How can you help keep Big Candy accountable? Here’s a handy list of classic candies that are nostalgic and easy to pass out but that do not contain palm oil, compiled with help from Products Without Palm Oil( which provides fantastic free resources for consumers). Remember to stay vigilant for labels’ hocus pocus, as ingredients can vary within a single brand’s offerings (looking at you, M&M’s and Reese’s), and don’t be tricked by those discount bags of mixed candy: Stick to one type (or make your own mix), and it’s easier to shirk the dreaded industrial palm oil.

Safe* Trick-or-Treat Classics

Atomic Fireballs

Boston Baked Beans

Black Forest Organic Fruit Flavored Snacks

Brach’s Candy Corn (including all Candy Corn varieties, and Mellowcreme Pumpkins)

Dots

Dove Milk and Dark Chocolate Promises

Dum Dums

Endangered Species chocolate bars

Ghirardelli chocolates

Goobers

Good ‘n Plenty

Haribo gummy candy

Hershey’s Kisses, Bars, and Nuggets (Milk Chocolate, Skor, and Special Dark are safe, but keep on eye on slick Mr. Goodbar; versions with and without palm oil are both in stores. And don’t buy bags of mixed nuggets—the assortment contains a flavor with palm oil.)

Jolly Ranchers

Justin’s Peanut Butter Cups

Kirkland Signature Organic Fruity Snacks

Lindt truffles and chocolate bars

M&M’s (Plain, Dark, Almond, and Pretzel varieties are safe for the moment, but last year, Mars changed the Peanut M&Ms recipe, which now includes palm oil, as does Dark Chocolate Peanut.)

Nerds

Nelly’s Organics (all chocolate bars)

Nuubia Chocolate

Raisinets

Red Hots

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (Read labels to be sure, but bagged, individually wrapped snack size, and standard-sized cups and generally palm oil-free.)

Ring Pops

Tony’s Chocolonely (all chocolate bars)

Saf-T-Pops

Sno Caps

Wholesome Organic Lollipops

Yum Earth Candy (including Organic Pops, Organic Candy Corn, Organic Hard Candy, Gummy Bears, Gummy Worms, Organic Sour Beans, and Gummy Fruits)

York Peppermint Patties

*For the purposes of this story we mean “safe” in the context of palm oil. Many of the candy options on this list are high in sugar and use plastic packaging. For a healthier, less cavity-inducing Halloween, seek out dye-free, low-sugar options that are free of corn syrup

Talking with Kids about Severe Weather and other Disasters

After a long night of weather warnings and a tornado ripping through nearby Dallas, I’m reminded that some children (and adults!) have an overwhelming fear of extreme weather and other types of disasters. Although many aspects of these scary occurrences are out of our control, as adults, we can stay well-informed and plan ahead as much as possible to help alleviate part of the worry. Kids have the additional challenges of not fully understanding the various situations and not knowing how to prepare for or deal with these events. Maybe you’d like a great book written with children in mind to get an open and informative discussion started!

The ALSC (Association for Library Service to Children), a division of the  American Library Association (ALA), has compiled the Get Ready Get Safe Book List, with titles about preparing for emergencies, monitoring weather or other types of disasters, and overcoming fears in general. A short description of each book is provided, along with the recommended ages. Many topics are addressed, including blizzard, fire, hurricane, tornado, tsunami, earthquake, hailstorm, flood, and blackout. Parents, teachers, and grandparents can surely find a book here that could help.

On a bit of a lighter note, I love sharing the book, Thunder Cake, by Patricia Polacco, with kids. It’s set in my home state of Michigan and tells how a very smart grandmother keeps her worried granddaughter’s mind off an impending thunderstorm. The book includes themes of empowerment and personal strength.

I hope you find something here to share with your favorite youngsters!

 

Meatless Monday: Flavorful Fall Recipes

FROM MEATLESS MONDAY: “It’s officially fall! And the perfect time for apple picking, visiting the pumpkin patch and exploring the local farmers’ markets for seasonal vegetables, like broccoli and eggplant. Trying new meatless recipes is a great way to utilize all of the ripe fruits and vegetables coming into season. We’ve gathered delicious plant-based recipes from our Meatless Monday bloggers and influencers featuring fall produce. Enjoy the hearty tastes of fall!”

Hope you find something here that appeals, even if it’s not autumn where you live!                  ~Becky

Digital Climate Strike!

With Friday’s walkout from schools and businesses of individuals demanding action through the Climate Strike, an important week of events focused on climate change and our environment begins! 

For those of us who work or study from home, “walking out” may not be a real option. I could leave my apartment building, but I don’t imagine anyone in the Square would know my purpose. I saw these tools for use in a digital strike and thought I would share. This website and this one offer banners, widgets, messages, and videos to be used by strikers with an online presence.

Our “house” truly is on fire, and we must fight for our lives!             

~Becky

A Climate Action for Every Type of Activist – shared from “yes!”


From yes! – Journalism for People Building a Better WorldNo matter your age, gender, race, or political ideology, there are ways to fight climate change that fit your life and values.  (Illustration by Delphine Lee)

Cathy Brown – posted Jul 16, 2019

Most of us have heard about U.N. researchers warning that we need to make dramatic changes in the next 12 years to limit our risk of extreme heat, drought, floods, and poverty caused by climate change. Report after report about a bleak climate future can leave people in despair.

But another option is good for you and the planet.

Susan Clayton, a professor of psychology and environmental studies at the College of Wooster, says getting involved with a group can help lift your climate-related anxiety and depression in three ways. Working with like-minded folks can validate your concerns, give you needed social support, and help you move from feeling helpless to empowered.

And it can make a difference. “Groups are more effective than individuals,” Clayton says. “You can see real impact.”

So join forces with like-minded citizens and push for change.

The U.S. Climate Action Network lists more than 175 member organizations, which are activist groups working through energy policy to fight climate change. And that doesn’t include all of the environmental groups out there. So you have lots of options for getting involved.

Full disclosure: I found my activism comfort zone with Citizens’ Climate Lobby. I love its bipartisan, nonconfrontational style, and it suits me. What’s your climate action style?

I’ve done some matchmaking for you. Here are nine activism styles that might fit, along with some groups that align with them. Pick one, and you can start making change.

  1. You believe in a bipartisan approach.

Citizens’ Climate Lobby is an option for those who believe the best strategy is to gain support on both sides of the aisle. The group trains people in ways to build political will in their communities and to effectively lobby their members of Congress. It asks volunteers to bring respect and empathy to all of those encounters, even when talking with people who may vehemently disagree with their cause.

What distinguishes Citizens’ Climate Lobby from many climate groups is its singular legislative goal—to see a fee placed on carbon, with the proceeds returned to citizens as dividends. After more than 10 years of lobbying, a bill similar to their proposal has been introduced with bipartisan sponsors in the U.S. House.

  1. You’re an educator looking for support.

The Alliance for Climate Education can be a climate teacher’s best friend. It offers educational and interactive resources that can be streamed to high school classrooms. The group also works to fight anti-science policies that have been cropping up in some school districts and helps train teachers to counter misinformation.

  1. You’re ready to take it to the streets.

Consider joining 350.org. You may find yourself attending rallies, lobbying elected officials, helping get out the vote, or even getting arrested for protesting fossil fuel projects.

“To solve and fight the climate crisis, we need to employ every tactic we have,” says Lindsay Meiman, 350 U.S. communications coordinator.

One of the group’s more high-profile fights has been against the Keystone XL pipeline. But 350 members are also encouraged to take actions that make sense in their own communities. For instance, Meiman has been involved in a campaign against a fracked natural gas pipeline under New York Harbor.

  1. You’re a fierce mama or papa bear looking out for your kids.

Check out Moms Clean Air Force*, a million-strong organization of moms (plus dads, grandmas, aunts, uncles, godparents). These parents show up in senators’ offices, with babies on hips, to talk about climate change. They testify against rollbacks of clean air regulations. They work with their mayors to spark change locally, and they write or call their representatives.

“We have this saying: ‘Tell Congress to listen to your mother,’” says Heather McTeer Toney, national field director.

  1. You prefer working with people who share your culture.

If you’re a person of color, working with White progressives may not feel comfortable for a variety of reasons, no matter how welcoming they try to be.

Hip Hop Caucus is an option for anyone who embraces hip-hop culture regardless of age or race, says Mustafa Santiago Ali, a former senior vice president. The group takes a holistic approach, linking culture and policy. Its work ranges from registering people to vote to lobbying members of Congress to producing the radio show and podcast Think 100.

Other options for climate fighters of color: the Indigenous Environmental Network, GreenLatinos, Ecomadres, and the NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Program.

  1. You’re young and ready to change the world.

The Sunrise Movement started in April 2017 and got lots of attention last year for its protest along with U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s office demanding a committee to study the Green New Deal proposal.

The Sunrise target age is 14 to 35, and most members are in their teens and 20s. The group is growing fast—100 new hubs opened within two months in communities across the country after November. Communications Director Stephen O’Hanlon says the group’s overarching goal is “taking on the corrupting influence of fossil fuels and making climate change an urgent priority in every corner of the country.”

And if you’re still in high school, another option is Alliance for Climate Education.

  1. Your spiritual beliefs guide your life—and your climate actions.

Many religious groups find support for caring for the planet in the Scriptures. Two that are doing important work are Young Evangelicals for Climate Action and its parent group, Evangelical Environmental Network.

Because evangelical Christians are often more conservative than traditional environmentalists, these groups are able to get an audience with Republican lawmakers (they’ve met with U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell) who are less receptive to liberals. They also work to educate fellow churchgoers and spur them to action.

Other faith-based options include Green Faith, which unites people from the Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Christian, and Buddhist traditions in working to protect the planet, and Interfaith Power and Light.

  1. You have more money than time.

If you’re too busy to volunteer time but would like to support the climate cause financially, all of the above groups have operating expenses and need donations.

You may also want to invest in one of the large established groups that have been in the environmental battle for years, like the Environmental Defense Fund*, Natural Resources Defense Council, and Sierra Club Foundation.

Charity Navigator, an organization that ranks charities based on their financial health, accountability, and transparency, can help you evaluate the groups. But be aware that relatively new or small groups may not be evaluated yet.

  1. You’re older and want to fight for the next generation.

Elders Climate Action members are using their life experience and skills—and for many, the extra time they have in retirement—to try to make a difference on climate issues.

“Most of us won’t be around when the worst of climate change hits, but the people we love will be,” says Leslie Wharton, Elders co-chair.

Although members are nominally 55 and older, anyone can join; people as young as 18 have. And even though some members are in frail health, they can still get a lot done. For instance, members of an Elders group at an assisted living home write letters to lawmakers to ask for pledges of action on climate from candidates who come to speak to them.

Note from Becky~  If you’re interested in the Sunrise Movement, I’ve heard from one middle-aged blogger that she was welcomed to march with them and from another that the Movement also offers behind-the-scenes duties for interested activists, as well.

 

%d bloggers like this: