SustainAbility Newsletter

Six Ways to Go Green on Earth Day

Earth Day Tips

Annual Earth Day celebrations highlight the importance of conserving energy, reducing waste and treating the planet with respect and care. Remember, even minor changes to your daily routine can go a long way toward reducing waste.

With this in mind, here are six ways you can go "green" this Earth Day:

Water Conservation
Water conservation is a critical part of an eco-friendly lifestyle that can also save you hundreds on annual heating and water costs. By simply taking shorter showers and shutting off faucets completely when they are not in use, you can vastly reduce the amount of water your household consumes each year. You might even consider installing inexpensive appliances like low-flow shower heads and faucet aerators to limit your water waste even further.

Reusable Bags
Each year, just 1 percent of the 100 billion plastic bags consumed in America are recycled, according to the Department of Environmental Conservation. So next time you head to your local supermarket, try bringing reusable bags with you. These sturdy and recyclable bags can drastically cut down on waste and pollution and can be purchased at most supermarkets and stores.

Donate Old Electronics
The meteoric rise of the tech industry over the past two decades has brought with it new and severe consequences for the environment. In response, a plethora of groups have emerged offering to recycle and reuse outdated and unwanted technology.

Best Buy's Take Back program, for example, accepts all electronics for recycling, regardless of where they were purchased. Alternatively, there are a number of charities that will accept your old cellphones and other devices, for the purpose of refurbishing and redistributing them among the less fortunate.

Adjust the Thermostat
As much as half of the energy used in your home is spent on heating and cooling, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. By making minor adjustments to your temperature control systems, you can save hundreds on energy bills while significantly reducing your carbon footprint.

For a more long-term solution, consider installing a programmable thermostat. Although these systems can be costly initially, they will more than pay for themselves over the course of several years.

Shop Smart
Try getting the most from your regular grocery shopping by buying in bulk whenever possible. Not only will this save you from the hassle of making extra trips, but it will also cut down fuel and packaging waste. Similarly, if you're shopping for clothes, you should consider paying a little extra for garments made from more high-quality material that will last longer than cheaper throwaways.

Pass on Gas
According to the Worldwatch Institute, the United States consumes about a quarter of the world's fossil fuel resources despite accounting for less than 5 percent of the global population. Why not consider biking or walking to work or school for a healthy way to save on gas and parking prices? Alternatively, you could try using more fuel efficient methods of traveling, like carpooling or public transportation, to get to your destination.  




References and Sources used in this issue of SustainAbility Newsletter Include:

Audubon Lifestyles 
The International Sustainability Council 

Sustainability Campaign

Ford Motor Company

Urbana University

Defenders of Wildlife

The Earthday Network

Bloomberg Businessweek

Small Busienss Trends

The Dodson Group      

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SustainAbility Newsletter Archive Article (random)

New Species of Frogs Disappearing as Fast as They

New species of frogs in Panama are being lost nearly as fast as they are being found to a deadly fungal disease that is sweeping through the region.

In an effort to document the diversity of frogs in Central America before the disease sweeps through the entire region, scientists are discovering new species, some of which are going extinct, and some of which are surviving.

In Panama’s Omar Torrijos National Park, 11 new species of frogs were discovered in the course of the long-term survey. After the fungus epidemic in 2004, five of these species went locally extinct, but only one of them is thought to have no other known habitats.Panama Frogs

“In amphibians, the amount of new species described every year keeps going up. We can’t even guess where it is going to stop,” said evolutionary geneticist Andrew Crawford from the University of the Andes, lead author of the study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published on July 19. “But at the same time, we keep losing them. One third of amphibian species around the world are listed on the IUCN Red List.”

Biologist Karen Lips, a co-author of the study, set up long-term frog monitoring in Omar Torrijos National Park in 1998, when she realized that the deadly fungus first noted in Costa Rica was spreading rapidly towards the region.

“She walked the same transects year after year, and one day in October 2004 she started finding dead frogs instead of live ones,” Crawford said. “The strangest thing was that frogs that were previously rare, like subterranean frogs, became more abundant. They started coming out of the woodwork, so to speak, and then they died.”

In the course of the long-term study, Lips and Crawford identified a total of 74 species in the region.

Within a couple of months of the fungus arriving, Crawford said, 30 of the species disappeared from the region, including five that were newly discovered. A survey in 2008 confirmed their absence.

The killer fungus, Batrochochytrium dendrobatidis, was first noted when the golden toad and about half of the frog species disappeared in Monteverde reserve in Costa Rica in 1987.

Since then, it has been spreading eastward through the Central America highlands, and also through a large portion of the Andes, likely from a separate introduction.

The fungus dislikes too much heat or dryness, which makes frogs that live in streams in mountainous areas most vulnerable.

While the exact origin and cause of the spread of the disease is unknown, Crawford guesses that the disease travels with the amphibians that get moved around for pets and research. He said that this particular fungus either originated in Africa or North America.

Only one of the species that went extinct in Omar Torrijos National Park has no other known habitat, meaning that it is likely extinct worldwide. The other 29 species have known ranges in eastern Panama, which hasn’t yet been hit by the fungus.

Researchers are searching for ways to avert the loss of more species. The most promising of these is a bacteria that has been found in salamanders in North America that protects their eggs from the fungus.

The bacteria has been isolated and tested on frogs in the Sierra Nevada, and appeared to improve their survival rates from the fungus, said Crawford. However, there are still many questions to be answered about the ethics and efficacy of introducing the bacteria to frogs in Central and South America.

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References and Sources used in this issue of SustainAbility Newsletter Include:

Audubon Lifestyles

The International Sustainability Council 

The Reserve at Lake Keowee

Sustainability Campaign


The Royal Society of Biological Sciences

National Geographic

Double Oaks

Global Stewards

United States Department of Energy

American Society of Golf Course Architects

The United States Golf Association (USGA)


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A Coalition for Good - Spreading the Seeds of Sustainability

ISC-Audubon is a coalition of non-profit organizations and initiatives that include The International Sustainability Council (ISC), Audubon Lifestyles, Audubon Outdoors, Planit Green, Broadcast Audubon, and the Audubon Network for Sustainability. 

Funds generated through memberships and donations are used to provide fruit & vegetable seeds, wildflower seed mix, and wildlife feed & birdseed to urban and suburban communities around the world. These seeds are used by communities to establish fruit and vegetable gardens, bird and wildlife sanctuaries, and for the beautification of urban and suburban landscapes by creating flower and native plant gardens.

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