By: Deepa Pai
What is Earth Day? When did it start and why?
Post World War II, the United States of America went into a power building mode; capitalism and consumerism were encouraged and rewarded. The great suburbia developed. Americans were driving and shopping like never before. In two decades they had managed to pollute the air and waterways with emissions from their automobiles and industries. They were using up natural resources as if they were endless and polluting the air and water, causing health hazards to all living creatures on the planet. Then on January 28th, 1969 tragedy struck off the coast of Santa Barbara, California: a huge crude oil spill contaminated the ocean and the shores for thousands of miles up and down the coast, destroying the wildlife along the coastline. There were no regulations to penalize the oil companies for this disaster.
This incident got Wisconsin Senator Nelson into action to mobilize students at the University to call for action to regulate pollution from industries. He chose April 22nd that fell between spring break and final exams. A young activist named Denis Hayes galvanized the movement, spread the word, christened the day as Earth Day and on 22nd April 1970, 10% of the population showed up for protests. That led to the formation of the EPA, US Environmental Protection Agency, followed by several such organizations including the OSHA, Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act.
By 1990 the effects of industrialization were felt all over the world and this day was being recognized as Earth Day world over. Over time, with enough awareness that industrialization does to the environment, there is legislation and regulation to restrict damage to the natural resources and reduce pollution.
Notable Events for Earth Day over the last half century:
We now celebrate this day by holding events across the globe to take us a step closer to repairing and rejuvenating Mother Earth, the main source of life to all creatures. Each one of us can celebrate Earth Day by giving back a little to the planet that gives us our life, literally. Small gestures like cleaning up a neighborhood trail to making bigger pledges like going zero waste and everything in between will help us preserve our planet and leave behind a healthier place for generations to come.
Listing out a few events taking place in our neighborhood over the weekend to celebrate Earth Day:
By: Francesca Parroco
There are many who do not believe in climate change. There is a wide range of possibilities of why these suspicions exist, but a main one is not knowing the facts or the path of logic that brings us to the conclusion of the destruction of our planet.
(all facts are according to NASA on https://climate.nasa.gov/evidence/)
First, there is the obvious: due to advances in technology, carbon dioxide levels have skyrocketed since the Industrial Revolution. There is no denying that, as a more technologically advanced civilization, there are more places such as factories emitting fossil fuels, including carbon dioxide. One may believe that plants can just convert the carbon dioxide, but trees and other plants are constantly being destroyed for our own benefit, such as commercial buildings. Therefore, there are not enough plants to photosynthesize the increasing oxygen. In simple terms, there is now more carbon dioxide and less plants.
Cars, too, emit gases that are as detrimental as the overflow of carbon dioxide. These harmful gases rise in the atmosphere and eventually reach the ozone layer that protects us from the sun’s immense heat. Because of this constant damage to the ozone layer, it becomes weaker over time, letting more and more sunlight through. This is what is known as global warming. It is called this because of how the Earth is progressively increasing in temperature because of the sun’s heat, and we can no longer rely on the one thing protecting us from it because we have slowly been destroying it. It is true that we can just protect ourselves from the sun as we always have, through sunblock and shade. Although, that is not the case. Have you ever felt how hot it is when you are in 100 degree Fahrenheit weather? Now, imagine that, but exactly 270,000 times hotter. The sun is 27,000,000 (27 million) degrees Fahrenheit, and Earth is the third planet closest to the sun. I understand that you may not think that the heat can honestly travel that far, but just imagine how you are able to feel the heat of a campfire, which is approximately 900 degrees Fahrenheit, and think about the sun as one big campfire. Earth is not the closest to the sun, but it is third out of eight planets in our orbit.
This progressive heating is causing ice caps to melt, taking away the habitats of many animals. Many assume that this has no effect on humans, when really, it leads to the increased likelihood of each and every one of our lives being destroyed. Because of the melting, the sea levels are rising, seeing as ice becomes water. When these levels rise, more floods occur in coastal areas. This may not affect those who do not live near large bodies of water, but if the levels keep rising, they will. Floods destroy homes, money, and lives overall.
Another effect of the damage caused by human activities is ocean acidification. As previously discussed, toxic chemicals rise into the atmosphere. The atmosphere is where clouds and rain form, meaning that when unhealthy air rises, unhealthy precipitation falls. Oceans also absorb these pollutants, meaning that the plant and animal life there are dying. Along with this, acid rain is more likely to occur, destroying buildings and being very toxic to those who experience it.
Overall, it is very clear the causes and effects of climate change and how it affects each and every one of us, not just plants and animals. Remember that it is currently not too late to save and restore our planet, but it will be too late in just 6 years, by 2027.
By: Charlotte Phan
From wearing masks every time you step out, the rise of online meetings, and entire county lockdowns, the COVID-19 pandemic seems to have affected every aspect of our lives, but that doesn’t mean we should let it affect our efforts in being sustainable.
Measures used to limit overcrowding and encourage social distancing have had some positive impacts to the environment itself which you can read more of here. Even levels of air pollution in New York have reduced by nearly 50% because of measures taken to control the virus (Henriques, 2020). However, the pandemic has not been shy of bringing in negative impacts along with the positive into the environment.
Due to safety precautions, takeout is packaged and sealed in materials such as plastic wrap and styrofoam. Disposable masks, although an extremely crucial part of protecting one’s community, have begun piling up in landfills and are even seen discarded on the streets of cities. Not only do we have to face the reality of the pandemic’s impact of families and workers, but we must also be conscious of how it has started to affect our Earth. Despite these realities often becoming discouraging, here are a few ways to practice sustainability during a pandemic!
Reuse, Reuse, Reuse! (Safely)
Although sharing water bottles with others might not be the smartest or safest choice during a pandemic, using your own reusable water bottles helps in limiting your carbon footprint. Just make sure to wash your hands as well as your bottles after every use! Plastic water bottles can still be avoided, and reusable water bottles are just as safe (as long as you’re not sharing)!
At times, having a disposable mask could be the only way to protect yourself and others when going out, and that’s okay! However if you are able to, purchasing reusable masks is definitely the more sustainable (and usually more cost effective) route. And always make sure to wash after use! Keep in mind that N95 and surgical masks should be reserved for healthcare providers and first responders. Normal cloth masks are just as protective!
From takeout to shopping, sometimes plastic bags are the only option, especially when certain stores may turn down bringing in reusable bags depending on your location. But don’t fear! If you must use a plastic bag, make an effort to bring it home and provide it with a second life! They can be used for storage, or even a fun plastic-bag crochet project. You can also use them as smaller trash bags for your trash cans, extending the life of the plastic bag.
Taking-out (What You Need)
Some restaurants will discard utensils that were given even the slightest touch by customers, even if they were not actually used. When ordering takeout over the phone or in drive-throughs, tell restaurants ahead of time (either by phone or immediately after ordering if you are in person) how many utensils you actually need, if you need napkins, and turn down plastic straws if you are able to.
Advocate With Your Wallet
For some of us, the pandemic has restricted us from going out which limits our ability to purchase things in person. Due to this, many have turned to online shopping for necessities. As you buy products, look for businesses and sellers who are ethical and use sustainable practices. If your favorite businesses do not have any practices, reach out and let them know! Customer feedback is always helpful. Using your consumer power could do wonders for the Earth as well as future sustainable practices other businesses and corporations might follow!
The realities we face now may be shocking, discouraging, and may even make you feel hopeless. However, during a situation like this, we should be encouraged to step up as a global community and help create solutions to help others during a time like this!
By: Tejal Patel
The damaging effects of wildfires in California have left lasting impacts on the trees, state park, and people’s lives. From destroying giant trees to desomating millions of acres, fires have become one of California’s worst enemies. California has been under a cruel siege caused by the wild and burning flames from countless fires. As one of the effects of climate change, its continuous and increasing turmoil is destroying the earth as a whole and its constituents.
How does Climate change have an impact on the wildfires? Climate change is one of the main factors that cause wildfires. As warmer temperatures increase due to the greenhouse gases being trapped in the Earth’s atmosphere, it will also increase the chance of wildfires. An increase in temperature causes soil and other vegetation to become drier which can act as fuel to raging fires and enlarge their force.
The image is from one of NASA’s satellites, its ASTER instrument captured the wildfires from California in 2020. The burned areas are the gray color and vegetation is in red.
How does climate change have an impact on the wildfires? Climate change is one of the main factors that cause wildfires. As warmer temperatures increase due to the greenhouse gases being trapped in the Earth’s atmosphere, it will also increase the chance of wildfires. An increase in temperature causes soil and other vegetation to become drier which can act as fuel to raging fires and enlarge their force.
The rise of warmer temperatures in addition to less rainfall can cause lightening, which also can start fires. Not only does climate change increase the chance of wildfires, but also does human’s actions, like a gender reveal party. During 2020, a family in southern California caused a fire that burned nearly 10,000 acres from a pyrotechnic device for their gender reveal party. Known as the El Dorado Fire, the dangerous fire led to evacuation for residents and horrible air quality.
According to Cal Fire, California “had been struck by 9,639 fire incidents, burning 4.1 million acres, killing 31 people and damaging more than 10,400 structures.” In 2020, around 4% of California will burn and it's known to be the year of the worse wildfires for the state.
The fires have not stopped even in winter, and may never in the future! They are still burning precious acres full of sequoia and redwood trees. In August 2020, a wildfire destroyed approximately 40,000 acres in the Mojave National Preserve, burning and removing millions of Joshua trees. Not only were Joshua trees burned, but many other plants and trees like Sequoia trees, which take 2,000 years to wait to grow. Since the fires defiled these great trees, it will take many, many years for them to be the same as they were.
Ever since the countless horrific wildfires that have harmed California, its effects have damaging consequences. It is necessary that we work together to help combat these disasters. It may feel like there isn’t much to do, but there is! Look down below to find ways you can help, even in the smallest ways, to people, animals, and the environment:
How to prevent wildfires:
- Remove combustibles (firewood, fuel cans, solvents, paints) from your backyard
- Shut off propane, gas, or fuel oil
- Look at National Geographic on what you can help prevent wildfires: link
Volunteer to distribute clothes/food at shelters or food banks:
- Look at this link to find local food banks near you!
- An example of one food bank in the bay area is the San Francisco Marin Food Bank. They help distribute food at a pop-up pantry. Here is the link to help aid them in their efforts.
- Look at this link to find local shelters near you!
- Look at this link to find local evacuation centers!
Wildfires also destroy many habitats and affect the lives of many animal
There are many organizations that can help animals in need. Here are a couple:
- Sonoma County Animal Services (sonomacounty.ca.gov)
- Sonoma County Fair and Event center (sonomacountyfair.com)
- Glenn County Fairgrounds (glenncountyfair.org)
How to help the Big Basin:
- You can make donations to help the recovery efforts at the Big Basin in the Santa Cruz Mountains at sempervirens.org. The Big basin, an 118 year old state park, was strongly affected by an intense wildfire that defiled California’s precious redwood trees.
By Charlotte Phan
Greetings to the Dandilyonn Community! We hope everybody is enjoying this at-home Thanksgiving and if you do not celebrate this holiday, we hope you have found time to breathe and spend time with family, even if it was over zoom. This year Cyber Monday seems to be extending into a week-long extravaganza as online stores are hosting sales, hoping that we indulge in their products. However, we customers need to acknowledge the environmental impact of shopping, especially during these national shopping “holidays”.
Ever since the rise of social media paired with a moderate rise of mass production techniques, more and more fashion trends have come and gone and more and more people have bought clothing to match certain trends. However, have you ever considered the environmental impact of the accumulation of “fast fashion” on the Earth? Fast fashion is a term used by many fashion retailers, describing clothing that not only quickly makes it to retail stores once a trend surfaces, but also quickly makes it to the garbage when a new trend comes along. You can clearly see what the problem here is: as retailers compete to match the latest trends amplified by social media, they tend to resort to cheaper, lower quality fabrics like synthetics, but most never take into consideration how such materials would interact with the environment once thrown away. Not only are the materials dangerous to the Earth, but the factories used to mass produce the clothing contributes to the fashion industry’s 8% in manmade greenhouse gas emissions in the world, a number that is set to grow larger and larger every year (you can learn more about the industry’s impact here. According to the University of Queensland’s project on sustainability, the fashion industry is the second largest polluter in the world only second to oil; its main contributor being fast fashion.
No matter if it’s during Black Friday or when you’re just shopping with friends, being mindful of what you are actually buying and supporting makes the whole experience even more satisfying! Here are some tips on making sure the items your are buying are made by sustainable retailers and made of sustainable materials:
Here are a few brands to get you started towards a more sustainable closet!
Patagonia has environmentally sustainable activewear for both men and women as well as a “repair and reuse” program to make the most out of every item of clothing.
Everlane is affordable while also providing radical transparency and sustainable practices. It has also been nicknamed one of the world’s cleanest denim factories.
Levi's uses sustainable practices like significantly reducing water usage, decreasing greenhouse gases by 20% by 2020, and has aimed for zero hazardous chemicals in their jeans by 2020.
Plastic Freedom is a UK based brand striving for a plastic free future. Not only are all items of clothing sustainable, plastic free, or even recycled, Plastic Freedom also has everyday products such as kitchen supplies that are also as sustainable as their clothing.
Boyish Jeans is a high end sustainable and ethical denim brand, focusing on using sustainable fabrics for their vintage-inspired denim pieces.
Reformation is a sustainable fashion brand focusing more on high end, feminine items of clothing.
Of course, striving to be sustainable in a society where fast fashion seems to pop up everywhere comes at its price. Since fast fashion practices have been used so often, it is hard for more companies to switch entirely to sustainable practices, so the prices of their products usually increase. However, another way to tackle fast fashion with a more sustainable closet is by thrifting! Through thrifting, you are essentially reusing good pieces of clothing, and you might even find some gems while doing it! One of the more known thrift stores is Goodwill, and many more can be found with a quick internet search of your local area. Even if you thrift something that does not seem completely sustainable, you are still extending it life, ensuring that it will not immediately end up in the trash. There are also many online thrift stores such as ThredUp that are perfect to browse on during quarantine.
Lastly, supporting small businesses is one of the best ways to avoid fast fashion because many of these businesses produce their items sustainably! Supporting BIPOC businesses helps integrate these storeowners into our fast-paced economy and ensure more ethical and sustainable purchases. Here is a blog by influencer Anjali Chakra that contains a curated list of Black-owned stores to explore this Black Friday.
Thank you for reading this article! You can learn more about fast fashion’s impact on the environment here!
Author: Ojaswee Chaudhary
Have you ever wondered about coral reef, one of our most majestic aquatic creatures? How do they get their beautiful color? What are they made of? And how long can they last in our fading world?
Let’s use the last question, arguably the scariest one, to answer the rest of them. One culprit of Earth’s deterioration is global warming. When our oceans warm to unnatural temperatures, coral reefs expel the algae they need to produce their vibrant colors, leaving them an empty white color; this is called “coral bleaching”. But coral reef, and many other marine organisms also face the wrath of global warming’s ruthless sibling, ocean acidification. To answer, “What are they made of?”, reefs consist of a calcium carbonate skeleton. Sadly, ocean acidification is this skeleton’s worst enemy, and let’s learn why.
“Ocean acidification”. Sounds like a complex term, right? Well turns out, as long as you don’t go too deep into the chemistry, the process is pretty simple. Ocean acidification is caused by the increased CO2 levels in our oceans, making the ocean more acidic and taking away necessary nutrients for marine life, specifically calcium carbonate.
Detailed explanation: Both global warming and ocean acidification are fueled by the major increase in carbon dioxide on Earth. But while global warming is caused by the CO2 in our atmosphere, ocean acidification is caused by the CO2 that gets sucked into our oceans, hence the first half of the name. Now let’s understand the second, more daunting half of the name: “acidification”. When CO2 combines with the H2O in the ocean, it ends up forming two important particles: hydrogen ions and carbonate molecules. Our ocean loves and needs carbonate molecules because, when combined with calcium ions, they form calcium carbonate, and calcium carbonate makes up the skeletons and shells of marine organisms. The issue is that hydrogen ions swoop in and steal this carbonate! And not only do these hydrogen ions steal a necessary molecule, carbonate, but they also increase the acidity of the ocean. Acidic conditions are fatal to organisms, both land and sea.
So which marine organisms are affected? An article by the EPA breaks it down like this. Ocean acidification affects…
Life forms with carbonate-based shells and skeletons
Starfish, coral reef, plankton, and even sea butterflies are just a few examples of this category. When ocean acidification affects their homes, their bodies become brittle and dissolve. Not only do “adult” organisms lose their shells and skeletons, but when reproduced, the “baby” life forms’ bodies are weaker than before. Another EPA article states that coral reefs provide a home for 25% of marine life, including clams, crabs, oysters, sea urchins, starfish, and many types of fish. So you can only imagine the damage an ecosystem faces when its coral disappears. The scariest part is that “by the end of this century, coral reefs may erode faster than they can be rebuilt” (PMEL Carbon Program).
Organisms higher up the food chain that feed on these sensitive organisms
One change to any part of a food chain can be devastating. Phytoplankton and zooplankton are the foundation of marine food chains, and since their calcium carbonate bodies are disintegrating, the entire marine life food chain is suffering, too. Sea butterflies have a similar situation. First of all, because your curiosity level is probably peaking, this article depicts a sea butterfly in action (who doesn’t want to see an underwater butterfly?!). Second, these mystical creatures are dying due to ocean acidification. Many organisms ranging from tiny krill to whales to salmon depend on sea butterflies for food.
How can we help our marine life? How can we protect the sea butterflies?!
Though we may not be able to bring our ocean back to pre-industrial-revolution conditions, we can slow down the harm. The National Ocean Service provides a list of steps we can do:
Reduce our greenhouse gas emissions (so that less CO2 can enter the oceans)
Hopefully this article gives you a better understanding of one of the most dangerous facets of climate change: ocean acidification. Spread the word and take action, because without it, our marine life will face the consequences of our mistakes. The ocean is beautiful and alive, and let's keep it that way.
Near the end of March, our life was altered in a way we never thought possible. Because a global pandemic entered our world, we have had to close all contact with the outside world, cancel everything we had ahead of us, and the bravest of us have had to put on their scrubs and sacrifice their own lives for everyone else’s. But most of us are stuck at home, somehow with so much to do and nothing to do all at the same time.
We understand that staying home for a countless amount of time, often losing track of the day of the week, can be frustrating. To console these feelings, a lot of us have set the goal to achieve greater fitness. Physical activity not only gives us a break from all the emotions stirring in our minds, but also gives us a straightforward method to be productive and purposeful; we feel good after working out even if the rest of the day has been binging Netflix shows. Dandilyonn decided there must be a way to add a charitable aspect to these fitness goals. Action towards combating climate change does not have to halt if we are stuck at home.
Here is where atlasGO comes in. atlasGO is an IOS and Android application that connects 3 major parties: large companies, global issues, and regular people, like us. Basically, a large company will pledge funds for a certain global cause such as planting more trees. Individuals, the “Sweaty Changemakers”, log their exercise hours, raising money to reach the goal pledged by the company. This encourages both fitness and social responsibility. You can learn more about them here: https://atlasgo.org/
We decided to form a Dandilyonn team on atlasGO and challenge ourselves to plant as many trees as possible during April, the official Earth month. Starting with a goal of 100 trees, our incredible 32-member team quickly achieved this. Some of us did yoga, others walked their dogs around the neighborhood, and others did dance aerobics at home, and all together, we planted 400+ trees in just one month! And we did not stop when April finished, in fact today, we have planted exactly 682.77 trees.
We are so proud of our team for not only pushing themselves physically, but also for cheering each other on as we all kept our inner activist alive during quarantine. Dandilyonn wants to give a few shoutouts to some of our amazing team members!!!
This challenge and your participation in it shows that 1. Our fight for climate change is continuous and vital even during this time, and 2. We are stronger together! If you want to become a part of our Dandilyonn Team, we would love to have you! Check out this link for instructions on how to get started. Thank you again and we hope to see you all soon!
Announcing... Ella and the Animal Express! For the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, we wanted to do something special to give back to our community, and what better way to do that than a children's book? In the first book of this three part series, Ella (along with your help!) guides Tutu the Turtle to the ocean by cleaning up the plastic on her path. All proceeds will be donated to 5gyers, an organization that works to reduce ocean pollution all over the world. So if you're looking for something to do during this quarantine, spread some joy, and awareness, by purchasing Book 1 today. Happy Earth Day everyone!
Author: Ojaswee Chaudhary
As we all try to put our minds towards productive, positive activities, Dandilyonn is so excited to announce a new project! An app called Atlas GO allows you to log your exercise hours and raise money for a cause. Dandilyonn has chosen the cause #GO4trees which plants trees for every 4 miles/hour of exercise you do. Our goal is to plant 300 trees in the month of April and we would love your help!!! To find out how to join our team, read more here: https://tinyurl.com/DLatlasgo. We hope to see you as part of our team on the app soon!
Climate change, geopolitics, and their relation to the current coronavirus pandemic
By: Shreeya Indap
What is the silver lining of the corona virus pandemic?
While the world has plummeted into a state of devastation in light of the recent coronavirus outbreak, one positive arises. Worldwide emissions have decreased, smog has cleared from the airs in the largest cities, and animals are returning to the streets that they once occupied. In fact, in the month of February, China alone had an emissions drop of around 25% (~200 million tons), “more than half the annual emissions of Britain.” As we watch from inside our homes, nature adapts alongside us, slowly returning to its previous glory.
What does this mean for humanity?
This current pandemic is a look into our future, and day by day shapes how we will likely combat another life-threatening health issue: climate change. Similar to the race for a coronavirus vaccine, fighting climate change will directly save millions of lives by reducing diseases, cleaning out our air and water, and slowing our rising sea levels or catastrophic weather conditions, which evidence shows it has already done through corona. In fact, according to Marshall Burke, an assistant professor at Stanford, the few months of decreased pollution in China, has possibly saved 4,000 children under the age of 5 and 73,000 adults over the age of 70. But when the world bounces back from its few months of staying indoors, will people remember the “love for nature” they gained during their daily government sanctioned walks? Pollution will return to its previous levels as fast as it decreased, and sooner or later, we’ll be forced into quarantine once again, perhaps this time with no end.
What could reverse these short lived climate improvements (based on the current trends during COVID-19)?
How can we make this silver lining last?
Overall, we require a mass mindset shift, both socially and politically, to combat climate change. The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted exactly what needs fixing and we can ready ourselves for this certain future health and environmental crisis. Obviously, corporations play the largest role in worldwide emissions (e.g. in China, the 25% drop of emissions was mainly credited to a stop in industrial manufacturing). But ultimately, it’s in our hands to take control over something the power hungry will not, because we are still capable of change. This quarantine has especially highlighted what our wants and needs truly are, and if everyone continued through with this behavioral change, the inevitable could be slowed down. Along with small actions such as less car trips, there will hopefully be a mindset shift in which people begin to consider environmental contagions as a real issue and vote accordingly.
Because unlike a virus that will eventually die down, climate change will take much, much longer to recover from, potentially killing us while it’s at it. We are past any prevention stage. We’re living in a world of climate change. But, we don’t have to be a virus to this world. We can be our own vaccine.