Friday, February 25, 2011

Save our Seas!

Healthy coral reefs provide a living for about 275 million people – and ¾ of the world’s coral reefs are at risk due to factors such as overfishing, pollution and climate change.

According to studies made and compiled over the last 3 years by Reefs at Risk Revisited, the biggest threat is exploitative fishing. Another concern is that in 20 years’ time, most reefs will also be feeling the impact of climate change.
The report is compiled by a group of more than 20 research and conservation organisations, led by the World Resources Institute (WRI) in Washington DC, in the hopes sending a wake up call for policymakers, business leaders, ocean managers, and others about the urgent need for greater protection for coral reefs.

Local and global threats, are already having significant impacts on coral reefs, putting the future of these beautiful and valuable ecosystems at risk.

The upside is that there are measures that can be taken to protect at least some. One variable that must be changed in this equation is the way fishermen make use of the reefs. Half of those around the world are threatened by methods ranging from simply catching more than nature can replace to the use of extremely damaging fishing methods such as dynamite fishing to stun or kill them - which also blasts coral formations to smithereens. Educating those in this particular industry of less abrasive and acquisitive methods for fishing would help preserve the balance of the reefs.

Other major threats are pollution carried in rivers, coastal development, and climate change.

If climate projections turn into reality, then by 2030 roughly half of the world's reefs will experience bleaching in most years - rising to 95% during the 2050s. Coral polyps - the tiny reef-building creatures - live in partnership with algae that provide nutrition and give corals their colour. When the water gets too hot, the algae are expelled and the coral turns white. Although reefs can recover, the more often it happens, the more likely they are simply to die. In addition, the slow decrease in the pH of seawater as it absorbs more carbon dioxide - usually known as ocean acidification - will compromise coral's capacity to form the hard structures it needs.

Regionally, Southeast Asia is the worst affected region, with 95% of reefs on the threatened list. But in terms of the impact on human society, threat is only part of the equation; societies most affected by reef degradation would be those where the threats are high, where a big proportion of the population depends on reefs for their livelihood, and where people's capacity to adapt is low. Combining these criteria, the countries highest on the risk register are Comoros, Fiji, Haiti, Indonesia, Kiribati, Philippines, Tanzania and Vanuatu.

Once again, let us remember that hope springs eternal. Reefs are resilient; and by reducing the local pressures, we can help buy time to find solutions to global threats that can preserve reefs for future generations.

Research has shown for example, that allowing a diversity of life to flourish on a reef keeps it healthy and more resistant to rising water temperatures. Protecting important regions of sea would also be one obvious strategy.

On the other hand, circumstances have shown that more than 2,500 protected areas of reef, researchers concluded that even though over a quarter of the world's coral is nominally protected, only one-sixth of those areas offer good protection.

Nevertheless there remains to be real world examples, studies and further research made that have proven solutions – real world examples whereby people have succeeded in turning things around. If we don’t learn from these successes now while there is still time and resource, we may end up 5 decades into the future with most of our beautiful reefs replaces by eroding limestone, overgrown with algae and grazed merely by a variety of fish.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A Mother’s Plea – Mother Earth, That Is.

A major US science conference was held last Sunday, whereby concerns were raised over the effect of a continually growing population on the planet. The United Nations has predicted that by the end of this year, the global population would have reached seven billion – and may escalate to nine billion by the year 2050.

What does this mean? Basically a rapid growth in the population would lead to an increase in food production – however, bear in mind that we already have a scarcity in resources as it is. If current trends carry on as they have been, by the year 2050 our children and grandchildren could very well be residing in an unrecognizable world.

Being that incomes are expected to rise as well in the coming decades- tripling globally and quintupling in developing nations- this development ensures added strain to global food supplies.

To feed all those mouths, we will need to produce as much food in the next 40 years as we have in the last 8,000! People tend to move up the food chain as their incomes rise, consuming more meat than they might have when they made less money.

It takes around seven pounds (3.4 kilograms) of grain to produce a pound of meat, and around three to four pounds of grain to produce a pound of cheese or eggs. The standing possibility is this - more people, more money, more consumption, but the same planet. Thus, scientists and governments are being urged to start making changes now on how food is produced.

Meanwhile, population experts are now calling for attention to be drawn on more funding for family planning programs to help control the growth in the number of humans, especially in developing nations.

For the past two decades, very little investment has been aimed toward family planning. However that has begun to change, partly because of the environmental factors like global warming and food prices. Minimizing population growth is one of the key factors in making a significant alteration to the predicted outcome, and the only feasible way of going about that is through effective family planning.

Our moment is here, and the time is now. Ask yourself this - what good will a pretty penny do for you and your family if we all live to see the day that the Earth is spoilt beyond recognition? Take this into consideration when you find yourself making decisions day by day, and I implore you to be a little more conscientious in the way you choose to live your life. Do it for the future of your family, and for the planet, the one home in which we thrive. Mother Earth has always been generous in providing for our needs, and it’s high time we did our part in protecting and restoring her to her splendour.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Because We Only Have One Earth to Love.

St. Valentine's Day on February 14 is a day for romantic partners and secret admirers to celebrate their love by exchanging small gifts, flowers and candy. Traditionally, red is the color that sets the mood for this day. Is it possible then to "go green" for this holiday? Absolutely! Here are some ideas on how to do just that.

Make a difference for the environment by purchasing VeriFlora-certified flowers. VeriFlora is a sustainability certification and eco-labeling program with the mission of promoting horticulture practices that build soil, conserve water and support healthy ecosystems. For details visit To order certified flowers online for your sweetheart try or
If you are opting not to give cut flowers at all, consider an edible arrangement. Edible Arrangements, a Fruit and Chocolate Specialty company that has 1013 outlets worldwide, can make chocolate covered strawberries to look like long stemmed roses! You can check for a store located near you by logging on to

Should you be thinking of expressing your heart’s desire with a piece of jewelry on Valentine's Day, try paying a visit to Ten Thousand Villages is one of the world's largest fair trade organizations and serves as a source for unique handmade gifts made by thousands of disadvantaged artisans in 38 countries of Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. Product sales help pay for food, education, healthcare and housing for artisans who would otherwise be unemployed or underemployed.

Let’s not forget about our delectable staple for this day: chocolate! Richard Cadbury introduced the first Valentine's Day box of chocolate in 1868. Today, even your purchase of a chocolate gift can be a socially responsible choice. The Global Exchange is a fair trade online store ( by criteria includes fair wages, humane working conditions and environmentally sustainable practices.
You can also surprise that special someone with a Chocoholics gift basket packaged in recycled materials and wrapped in biodegradable cellophane. If your sweetheart is keeping her new year's resolution to lose weight, she may enjoy a CD called Putumayo's Music from the Chocolate Lands (if you’re in Singapore, you can find a range of Putomayo Music Collections in the National Geographic Store in Vivo City). Hoping to set a romantic mood with candlelight? Since you breathe what you burn, make them the natural variety. Bluecorn Naturals offers a selection of beeswax, soy wax and palm wax candles and aromatherapy products. Visit Pennsylvania Soy Candles is a local supplier of soy candles. They use soy wax produced from the oil of soybeans — a biodegradable and renewable resource making soy candles environmentally friendly and supporting the American Farmers. (Visit

If you don't have a love interest this Valentine's Day, you can still do something to help the environment. According to Wiki Answers, over 250 million Valentine's Day greeting cards are given each year in the U.S. That number tops 1 billion worldwide. Help offset this paper use by planting a tree. The Nature Conservancy launched a "Plant a Billion Trees" campaign — one dollar plants one tree. (For details visit From their homepage, you can pass on the word about this program via Facebook or Twitter, or send an e-card. According to the Arbor Day Foundation, "trees make a world of difference. They are inspiring people to plant, nurture, and celebrate trees. Check out their programs too at and show your love for our great planet.

Happy Valentine’s Day, and remember that every day is an opportunity to spread the love not just to family and friends, but to our beloved Earth as well.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Coming Clean.

Okay, so I’ve never really had to clean up after anyone, myself included, until I moved to Singapore 7 months ago. Yes, I know, shame shame. Anyway, since I started working in childcare, I’ve encountered all the kinds of messes one can ever imagine – I've cleaned up after potty time, wiped off spit ups and of course, wiped clean many a table covered in heaven- knows- what.

Until recently my center had been using a generic brand of cleaning agents. The only problem I’ve had with that was the fact that I’m deathly afraid my kids might touch it or the mere smell might cause them harm. I’ve watched our cleaning auntie huff and puff over table stains and stenches that even these would be tough stain removers can’t seem to clear away.

Enter Green Cleaners’ All Purpose Cleaner. I have come to appreciate this product for more than one reason: it is completely idiot-proof (the instructions they provide for you at the back of the bottle is clear as crystal), and it makes the life of a teacher (or anyone for that matter) so much simpler!

Let me paint you a picture. Earlier today, one of my toddlers decided he was tired of painting on paper and took the liberty of decorating my immaculately white tabletop bright red. As though that wasn’t enough, he grabbed a few crayons and scribbled quite furiously as well, leaving heavy marks of brown and streaks of dark blue. I was freaking out because we're very particular about keeping spaces tidy. In a tizzy I ran to the store room, took out my Green Cleaners’ All Purpose Cleaner and rushed back with a rag. Thirty seconds after I spritzed it all on the table top, I literally watched the paint come off. With a few easy swipes, my white table was restored! It was like nothing happened.

So I know it’s good with stains on surfaces, but get this – it’s also a miracle worker when it comes to getting rid of unwanted smells. A couple of weeks back, one of my children got sick all over the table, his chair and the marble floor. As usual, the smell was driving all the other tots insane! And when our cleaning auntie went to get the usual disinfectant, some children began to complain because they couldn’t stand the acid like stench of the cleanser. So I went and took the GC spray and used it all over the areas that had been cleared of throw up. I left it on for about a minute, wiped it off and lo and behold, the smell was gone. The greater thing is, it leaves no trace of any other smell – which is the way clean should be.
My children are going to be up and about in a few, so I’d better head off. I just wanted to give credit where it is due, and show appreciation for the things that help make my life as a childcare teacher easier.

Green Cleaners products are availabel to buy online at:

EARTH HOUR 2011 Singapore

Walk, walk, walk … in the dark

You are invited to the Earth Hour Party on Saturday 26 March.
Make your way down to the Promontory @ Marina Bay with your friends, family or workmates for an unusual evening in-the-dark.
This year, we are 100% fuelled by Alpha Biodiesel recycled from IKEA Restaurants' waste cooking oil. Well then, what's cooking ?

Earth Hour Live Concert and Carnival

From 5.30 pm, the Live Concert and Carnival starts.
The concert is supported by Café Diplo, and will be hosted by DJs from the official radio stations for Earth Hour 2011, Power 98FM and Jia 88.3FM. Singers like Jack & Rai, Syltra Lee, and many more will be taking the stage.

Make your own kite and personalise it with your wishes for a healthy planet.
You can also look forward to some educational games,craft activities, and discover how to do good while shopping!

Walk for the Planet!

At 8.30pm as the lights go out, we will flag off the first Earth Hour Night Walk as a symbolic march in support of our Planet. Walk alongside Earth Hour 2011’s celebrity supporters like Nadya Hutagalung and Tung Soo Hua. The 3.5 km route starts at the Promontory and traces the perimeter of Marina Bay, passing by landmarks such as Marina Bay Sands, the Esplanade Theatres On The Bay and One Fullerton.

Movie Screening

Can’t find the pair of walking shoes your grandma gave you on your last birthday? Fret not, stay on and watch Singapore’s skyline fade into the starry sky as well as a screening of the award winning documentary “The Age of Stupid”.

Spread the Word

Tell the world about your commitment and help us spread the message about the fight against climate change. Tell your friends and family about Earth Hour and ask them to join us. Download web banners for your blog, website or put up posters in your office, school or apartment block. You can download resources at

Going Beyond Earth Hour

- First, you can start by using a fan instead of air-conditioning, and if you turn your air-conditioning on, remember to set the temperature at 24ºC or higher.

- Take the MRT, use your bike or walk, it can help you keep fit and reduce your ecological footprint.
Plan your holidays closer to home, there are so many beautiful places to discover nearby.

- Shop wisely, bring your own shopping bag, kindly turn down the cashier offer to wrap your stuff in 2 or 3 bags, and choose what you buy responsibly.

- Select items with minimum packaging, which are produced closer to Singapore to avoid unwanted emissions from shipping and moving goods around the world.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Toys for Tots – Safe for your child, kind to our Earth

It’s everywhere – on billboards, the television, radio ads and magazines. It won’t be long before all nations come together and “go green”. We read about eco friendly homes, with tips and advice on the how-to’s in going about this lifestyle change.

Anything and everything that could possibly entice you, pique your curiosity or encourage you to continue to take steps towards being kinder to the Earth is lain before you with one click of a mouse and a few key words.

So who’s to say that only grown ups can enjoy the benefits of going green? We all know the cliché, the future lies in the hands of our children; well the cheery toymakers of Rubbabu have taken it a step further.

Wilmington, DE-based Rubbabu Inc. has been focusing on their mission which is to create simple, classic, colorful and safe toys.

In 2010, while millions of toys were recalled from the marketplace due to concerns of high levels of lead and choking dangers, Rubbabu was raking in high level awards from one of the most discriminating industries in the nation.

Confusion surrounding various product lines often leave parents scrambling to find quality toys that are educational, eco-friendly and guaranteed safe.

At Rubbabu, much emphasis is given to ensuring that each toy created is simple, educational and made with love.

With more than 200 children’s toys ranging from finger puppets to building blocks, puzzles to magnetic upper case letters and action vehicles to animals on wheels, Rubbabu’s Toy Collection has been proven to be safe both for the planet and the children.

The Toys are crafted from pure natural rubber foam obtained direct from the rubber tree. And by extracting the sap without cutting down trees, Rubbabu ensures the entire process is fully sustainable. The company is also particular about the sources from which it acquires its ingredients, purchasing raw materials from Switzerland (yes, you read that correctly), the UK, America and Malaysia.

Their foam toys avoid the infusion of potentially harmful synthetic fillers. The toys themselves are eco-friendly as the company has adopted the mission of being as close as possible to fully-green, with only 1.2 percent of their production cost funding energy usage.

The response from the market has been quite positive – more and more parents and teachers, aunts, uncles and grandparents have become more aware of the state our world is in, and kudos to them for doing something about it.

And to the creators of Rubbabu toys, cheers and more power to you as you provide children all over the world with quality toys that actually do help make our earth a greener place to live.

For additional information about the Rubbabu line of handmade natural toys, visit

Monday, February 7, 2011

Small Changes = Big Difference: Going Green Made Easy

Ready to make some eco-friendly changes, but not sure where to begin? Start with the things you do each day: chores!

Yes, even small shifts in your daily cleaning routines can have positive effects on the planet – it really is amazing how much of a difference we can make should we just take certain things into consideration. Some people have a sense that green cleaning either requires more effort or is more expensive, while others are doubtful that it even works. These are myths! As for those who do wish to make a change, no day but today, right?

Add these simple tips to your daily chore toolbox and you'll be a green, clean, dirt-fighting machine in no time. Going green takes some time to figure out, but once you get it, you're set for life.

Go Green: Use a detergent designed for cold water. Choosing cold water for each load saves energy- which is good for the planet, and money – which is good for your wallet! Don’t worry, because cold-friendly detergents are formulated to fight dirt and stains just as well as their warm-water counterparts.
Go Greener: Ditch your bleach for a better brightener, like sodium percarbonate which is found in many common laundry products. While bleach pollutes our water systems and is a lung irritant, sodium percarbonate is a natural mineral that's just as effective at getting out stains.

Go Green: Invest in Green Cleaners' Dishwash liquid! Our products are respectful to the aquatic life, meet strict biodegradability standards and reduce packaging with our revolutionary concentrate concept.

Go Green: Place a stylish and sturdy welcome mat at your door. This decreases the amount of dirt tracked into the house, which leads to less vacuuming time later on.

Grocery Shopping
Go Green: Bring your own reusable totes to the store. There are available options almost anywhere, and most grocery stores have them on hand near the register. Leave a few in your trunk or stash one in your purse for unexpected trips.
Go Greener: Buy in the bulk section of your favorite store. You'll get the same great products without all that waste.

Remember that it all begins with one step – so go ahead and try these out, tell your friends, spread the word and who knows one day we just might reach the tipping point. We remain optimistic, as small changes can make a big difference.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Top Green Music Artists

Ever wonder how much music artists pollute the Earth while on tour? Today, many musicians are conscientious about the environment, putting shows on both for fans and to raise awareness. Traveling in eco-friendly buses, encouraging fans to recycle and providing education about global warming are just some of the ways musicians contribute to the environmental movement. Listed below are just five out of the quickly emerging artists that have sung their way onto the green bandwagon.

1. O.A.R.
Of A Revolution, or better known as O.A.R., can be heard all around the nation rocking out and entertaining their fans. Currently, they are touring across the country in their Green Dream tour bus raising awareness about recycling. At each show, the band promotes the importance recycling and how it can have a huge environmental impact. If you’re going to be at one of their upcoming shows, be sure to stop at the recycling centers set up throughout the venue where you can learn how to reduce your carbon footprint. This is not new for O.A.R., as they also promoted the environment during their 2008 “Campus Consciousness Tour.”

2. Maroon 5
The acclaimed band, Maroon 5, isn’t just five guys who make girls go crazy all around the world for their music and looks. This talented band shows the same passion for the environment as they do for their music. They use biodiesel fuel in their tour buses, which reduces their carbon footprint, and also teams up with Vote Solar, a non-profit movement promoting solar energy. In 2006, the band was honored at the Environmental Media Awards for their commitment to the environment. To see how much Maroon 5 truly loves the environment, check out this video to see how they remained green during their 2008 tour.

3. Sheryl Crow
A true environmental activist, Crow teamed up with Laurie David in 2007 for the “Stop Global Warming” College Tour. Traveling across the country, Crow entertained and educated students about global warming. She encouraged them to become active and help the environment for themselves, their communities and the country. While on tour, she uses biodiesel fuel for every tour bus and promotes a green lifestyle. She was also one of the keynote speakers at last year’s GreenBuild Conference & Expo, a conference dedicated to transforming the way buildings and communities are designed, built and operated to create an environmentally and socially responsible, healthy and prosperous environment.

4. Willie Nelson
A longtime environmental activist, Nelson promotes the use of biodiesel fuel and keeping the Earth clean. Nelson is also an honorary board member of the Sustainable Biodiesel Alliance, co-founded by his wife, and that was created to address issues about the U.S. biodiesel industry and its sustainability. In addition, he is a huge supporter of using hemp in fuel and clothing. In the mid-80s, he organized the benefit concert series, Farm Aid, which promoted the environmental benefits of organic and locally grown food and helped family farmers keep their land.

5. The Roots
The Grammy Award Winning hip-hop band, The Roots, may be known for their nightly appearances on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” but did you know they are green activists and animal lovers? The band worked with PETA on the campaign, “Stop the Violence: Go Veg,” combating violence against your body and promoting veganism. They even hosted a Pre-Grammy party in 2007 to raise awareness about green issues. That same year, they launched the “Feed Your Roots” campaign, which educated people on the benefits of composting programs and that helped integrate them into schools nationwide. Continuing their eco-friendliness, they use biodiesel fueled buses while touring across the country.

Many artists, including the ones above, also partner up with the Green Music Group and Reverb to make sure their eco-friendly voices are heard.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Bunny Hopping towards a Cleaner, Greener Lunar New Year

FENGSHUI practitioners say green is the colour to be clad in this Chinese New Year. For those who would like to take it a step further, however, here are some tips on how you can don a greener lifestyle, as well.

As some households may declutter in preparation for the coming new lunar year, a fair amount of things will be thrown out.That being said, here’s tip #1:Categorize your things – though it may have been a common practice in the past for you to simply throw everything out in one go, this year why not sort through your belongings for things that may still be useful? Giving to charitable institutions is always a good practice as well.

Chinese New Year celebrations can also generate more waste, especially food and beverage containers. This is where tip #2 comes in: Find the time to set aside all the used cans and empty bottles – it only takes a few minutes to sort them out and put them aside for recycling! Also, remember that mandarin orange peels and other kitchen wastes can be put to good use by turning them into compost for potted plants.

Another way to be kind to our environment (while being gentle on the pocket as well) is this – tip #3: Cook just the right amount of food. Though some people still believe in the ancient tradition that equates the abundance of food for prosperity and blessings, others find that cooking just enough minimizes wastage and allows for everyone to enjoy freshly made meals without having to endure days of eating leftovers

Another way to shrink the carbon footprint of the celebration is to refrain from giving out new banknotes in hong bao. This not only reduces paper waste but also traffic congestion (which can lead to higher carbon emissions) around banks.

Instead, the truly green hong bao you can give to everyone and the planet is by being thoughtful in what you eat, drink, consume and ultimately, discard.

Gong Xi Fa Cai, Everyone!