Make Every Bite Count

Wake Forest University recently launched the Make Every Bite Count campaign that calls on colleges and universities to make a commitment to preserving and celebrating agricultural biodiversity in their own regions.


You can help promote agrobiodiversity, as well as your regional cultural heritage, by choosing to grow, buy, and celebrate indigenous and endangered foods:

  • Inquire. Ask regional gardeners and farmers about heirloom plants and heritage animals that may have been grown or raised in the past. Generational growers may also practice saving seeds and could have access to seeds that hold significance as part of the regional cultural heritage.
  • Connect. Visit farmers markets, restaurants, botanical gardens, seed banks, universities, or research centers to learn about the range of species that exist. From the ingredients a chef is using, to the rare fruit trees in a greenhouse, you can find out what is already being grown and what has the potential to be produced.
  • Celebrate. Take a memory trip with friends or family who have access to cherished recipes that include heirloom varieties and heritage breeds. Prepare and celebrate dishes that stand the test of time.
  • Share. Promote heirloom and heritage foods from your area by saving and sharing seeds or providing offspring for sale.


For more information, or to join the Make Every Bite Count campaign, visit sustainability.wfu.edu.

Read more at ENN.com!

Start the conversation – What is your university doing to help promote sustainability and agrobiodiversity?

by Editor

REVOLUTION: Facts & Figures from the Documentary

Need something to do tomorrow in order to celebrate Earth Day? Check out this new documentary titled REVOLUTION which opens worldwide tomorrow!

REVOLUTION takes the fight to save the oceans to the next level and hopes to inspire audiences to help save our oceans and our planet. Filmed over four years in locations spanning 15 countries, from the coral reefs in Papua New Guinea to the rainforests in Madagascar, REVOLUTION is the response to the pleas of leading scientists who insist that by the middle of this century, we could have no fish in the sea, no coral reefs, no rainforests and a planet that can’t sustain many forms of life. Two thirds of the world’s species could be gone by the end of the century if we don’t act now. Directed and produced by Rob Stewart, a leading conservationist and award-winning filmmaker, REVOLUTION is an empowering firsthand look into the most important issues facing us today. The film trailer can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=21hGAKv_0Bs. Read and see more at The Revolution.


REVOLUTION: Facts & Figures


Fact: The last time something of this magnitude happened was the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction which took place 65 million years ago, and it is estimated that 75% of all species vanished.

Sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cretaceous–Paleogene_extinction_event#cite_note-15:

Jablonski, D (1994). “Extinctions in the fossil record (and discussion)”. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Series B 344: 11–17. doi:10.1098/rstb.1994.0045.


Fact: Most of the “Big Five” mass extinction events can be directly attributable to ocean acidification.

Source: J.E.N. Veron. “Mass extinctions and ocean acidification: biological constraints on geological dilemmas.” Coral Reefs. 2008.


Fact: Properly managed coral reefs can yield an average of 15 tons of fish and other seafood per square kilometer each year.


Cesar, H. 1996. Economic Analysis of Indonesian Coral Reefs. Washington, DC: The World Bank.


Fact: Since the Industrial Revolution we have released approximately 1 quadrillion pounds (1,000,000,000,000,000) of CO2 into the atmosphere.

Source: http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2012/20120801_esrlcarbonstudy.html

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “NOAA, partners: Earth’s oceans and ecosystems still abosorbing about half the greenhouse gases emitted by people.” Aug. 1, 2012.


Fact: 21% of the air in our atmosphere is oxygen, which animals need to survive. At least half of our oxygen comes from phytoplankton in the oceans, which function as the lungs of the earth. Phytoplankton forms the basis of the ocean’s food chains, supporting everything from whale sharks to humans.

Source: Hellum, “Why Zooplankton are important (marine food webs)” Dec 5 2012


Fact: Studies have found that phytoplankton levels have diminished by up to forty percent over the last fifty years in 8 out of 10 ocean regions. If this depletion of phytoplankton continues it will basically starve the ocean, because phytoplankton is the food source for everything that lives in the ocean.

Source: http://news.discovery.com/earth/oceans/phytoplankton-iron-ocean-acidity.htm

Marshall, Jessica. Rising Ocean Acidity May Deplete Vital Phytoplankton. 14 January, 2010.


Fact: The Great Barrier Reef has declined in coral cover by 38 percent over the last 25 years. Coral cover in the Caribbean has declined by as much as 90 percent.

Source: J.E.N. Veron. “Mass extinctions and ocean acidification: biological constraints on geological dilemmas.” Coral Reefs. 2008


Fact: It took four million years for corals to rebuild reefs after the last extinction.

Source: Revolution and Global Reef Project. Retrieved from http://www.globalreefproject.com/blog/


Fact: Southeast Asia’s coral reef fisheries alone are estimated to yield US$ 2.4 billion annually.

Source: Multiple reports: http://www.icran.org/peoplereefs-fastfacts.html via:  

Burke, L., Selig, E., and Spalding, M. 2002. Reefs at Risk in Southeast Asia, World Resources Institute


Fact: Every year we discard approximately 40 billion pounds of dead fish as by-catch, because it wasn’t the species we were targeting.

Source: FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Department Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Rome. (2012). State of the World’s Fisheries and Aquaculture 2012. Retrieved from www.fao.org


Fact: Deforestation is the second biggest emitter of carbon dioxide, and contributor to ocean acidification.

Sources: Undated: http://whatsyourimpact.org/greenhouse-gases/carbon-dioxide-sources ; Le Quéré, C. et al. (2013). The global carbon budget 1959-2011.


Fact: Tropical forests are home to more than half of the world’s species, and produce a third of our oxygen.

Source: Undated, author not cited http://www.rainforestconcern.org/rainforest_facts/why_are_rainforests_important/


Fact: Madagascar has already lost 90% of its forest.

Source: Undated, World Wildlife Foundation, http://www.wwf.mg/ourwork/cssp/species_report/factsmada/


Fact: 75% of the world’s forests are gone due to deforestation.

Source: Think Global Green, December 2014. Retrieved from http://www.thinkglobalgreen.org/deforestation.html


Fact: Canada hopes to build pipelines to transport the oil out of Alberta, expanding the tar sands 20 times. The latest Tar Sands Keystone pipeline was just vetoed by President Obama.

Source: Gregory Korte, USA Today, February 25, 2015 http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2015/02/24/obama-keystone-veto/23879735/


Fact: The Earth’s population will increase from nearly 7 billion in 2013 to approximately 9 billion by 2050 and we are already exhausting the capacity of the planet to provide for us at our current level of population and consumption.

Sources: UN Press Release: World population projected to reach 9.6 billion by 2050 with most growth in developing regions, especially Africa” (PDF). United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. June 13, 2013. Retrieved March 16, 2015. “UN Press Release: World population projected to reach 9.6 billion by 2050 with most growth in developing regions, especially Africa” (PDF). United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. June 13, 2013. Retrieved March 16, 2015.


Photo credits: © Rob Stewart


by Editor

Monoculture Threatens Margaritas


Tequila’s soaring popularity is creating agricultural risks that may force its own collapse if current production practices continue.

A bit of background

Tequila has been made from the agave plant in Mexico for hundreds of years. The agave is sometimes called the century plant because of a myth that it blooms once in a century and then dies. Well, there’s some truth to this. It does die after it flowers, but it actually takes roughly 8 to 10 years to mature.

To prevent the agave from flowering, farmers closely monitor their crops and cut off any flower stalks so that the agave will continue to grow. When the agave’s sugar content is high enough for fermentation (at least 24 percent), the plant is harvested. Leaves are cut off and discarded. The heart of the plant, or piña, is then carted off and sold to tequila producers. The piña gets its name from its resemblance to an enormous pineapple, weighing in at roughly 50-100 pounds. The piñas are then roasted, mashed, fermented, strained, distilled, and sometimes aged, to make tequila.

Wait, don’t no flowers mean no seeds?

It might be reasonable to assume that the farmers would allow a selection of plants to flower to produce seeds for the next crop. But in the case of the agave, they don’t have to.

Agave is a succulent, one of those wonderful, strange plants that are so adept at asexual reproduction that, in many species, a single leaf has the potential to sprout roots and grow into a fully functioning adult plant. The agave, for example, sends out shoots, known as pups. Fortunately for farmers, the agave becomes especially eager to create pups when its means of sexual reproduction is disrupted in some way, such as by cutting off its flowering stalk. This is ideal for farmers, who can collect the pups to populate their fields in lieu of seed stock.

The problem

Using shoots or pups is cheaper, faster and easier than growing from seed. Unfortunately, the cost of convenience is the absence of genetic diversity of the agave stock. In 2007 it was estimated that that 99 percent of all cultivated agave were the products of pups. In genetic terms, most cultivated agave plants are clones. Without sexual reproduction, there is no genetic exchange between plants. This genetic sameness produces precarious conditions for the health of future crops, as genetic diversity creates obstacles that pests must overcome, thereby slowing their spread and damage.

In the last 30 years, tequila has ballooned in popularity, with producers scrambling to keep up with demand. In less than a decade, the
industry has seen propagation boom from 40,000 acres cultivated with Weber Blue agave to nearly 120,000 acres. This created an overabundance, and thus a flooded market. Prices for agave plummeted from $4 per pound to pennies, highlighting the risks of trying to predict the market when it takes 10 years for a crop to be ready for harvest.


But after planting 120,000 acres with a single strain, of a single crop, of which 99 percent of plants are vegetally propagated genetic clones, the tequila industry now has more to worry about than simply forecasting demand. This kind of agricultural management takes the concept of monoculture to a new level. It practically warrants a new word!

Monoculture makes crops vulnerable, and the predictable consequence is disease. This is why big agribusiness spends so much money on fungicides and pesticides. Just look what monoculture did to the Gros Michel banana. Today, the world consumes Cavendish bananas. But prior to the 1950’s, the Gros Michel, which was said to have been the most flavorful of all banana varieties, would have been in your local grocery store. Then came Panama Disease, caused by a fungus, which tore through the world’s banana plantations and very nearly resulted in the extinction of the Gros Michel.

With monoculture brought to the genetic level, Weber Blue agave today is an easy target for pests, with weevils, nematodes, fungi and bacteria ravaging the fields. Weevils boar into the hard husk, creating access points into the plant for the fungus and bacteria. Once an insect is inside the plant, pesticides are largely ineffective.

The best course of action for producers of Weber Blue agave is to work with seed stock, and intercrop with some of the other 10 heirloom varieties of agave that are viable for making tequila. But government standards prevent this from happening. Only liquor produced within the area surrounding the town of Tequila, and made with Weber Blue agave, may be called tequila. Other varieties can only be called mescal.

To avoid the inevitable consequences of monoculture, the simple and obvious solution would be for the government to modify regulations governing these designations. But the industry is loathe to do so for fear of compromising the integrity of the product and losing its designation as “tequila.”

Just as the Gros Michel banana was considered to be the most delicious of all strains of bananas, so is Weber Blue regarded among agave varieties. But if the Weber Blue agave meets the same fate as the Gros Michel, a great many tequila lovers will have reason to mourn.

# # #


Zapata, A., & Nabhan, G. (2003). Tequila: A natural and cultural history. Tucson: University of Arizona Press.

Stewart, A. (2013). The drunken botanist: The plants that create the world’s great drinks. Chapel Hill, N.C.: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill.

Margarita and Agave images via Shutterstock

by Katharine Galpin

15 Practical Tips for Sustainable Travel

By: Guest Contributor, Boom Rizal


Never before has the label “citizen of the world” been taken this seriously. People feel that travelling is something they deserve; that they owe it to themselves to see the world. For millions of people in the United Kingdom for example, global travel (53%) ranks higher than having a baby (30%) and buying a house (38%) in their bucket list. The dream travel destinations are anywhere from the Great Barrier Reef, Aurora Borealis, African Safari, Pyramids of Egypt, and the Great Wall of China. The desire to be a backpacker, an expert traveler, and a citizen of the world transcends race, religion, and color. Whether for vacation, business, or school, waking up in a different place is something everyone wants to experience.

A report by the United Nations Environment Programme shows that international tourist arrivals have almost quadrupled over the past thirty years and domestic tourism has also never been this vibrant. Jobs for locals and a boost to the economy are some of the positive impacts of a strong tourism industry. However, the risks of environmental degradation also become greater. With more than a billion people traveling each year, how can we see the world without destroying it? The answer is sustainable travel or simply put, traveling responsibly. Here are tips to be a more responsible traveler, and hopefully save the world for future generations.


Care for a little research?

1Photo via Pinterest

How hard is it to research about a place these days? Learn about mass tourism and the ecosystem. When you are visiting the Taj Mahal in India or the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt, know that pollution and heavy traffic of tourists have taken its toll. Always be considerate.


Look for eco accommodation

2Photo via Pinterest

When you look for the best accommodation deals especially in worldly famous destinations like Boracay, don’t just look for free wi-fi, book a hotel that recycles, employ locals, use alternative forms of energy, and have good ventilation. By supporting green hotel accommodations, you become an agent of sustainability.


Follow the rules

3Photo via Pinterest

Everywhere you go, there are going to be rules. These are necessary to preserve the tourist spots and destinations. In Boracay in the Philippines for example, building sand castles and sand sculptures are now prohibited by a local ordinance. This is one way to protect the famous white sands of one of the world’s best beaches.


Buy local, eat local


Photo via Pinterest

What is the point of going to Korea without eating Kimchi or Japan without trying sushi? When travelling, skip fast-food favorites like burgers and fries and go for local restaurants and buy local products. Hire local guides, too, if ever you’ll need one. This is one way to help sustain tourism in the countries that you visit.


Ride the bus, walk, or bike

5Photo via Pinterest

Instead of renting a car to use during the duration of your tour, it is better to take the train or ride the bus and not contribute to traffic and pollution. If the destination is just several kilometers away, try to walk or bike and take that chance to stroll down the city’s history and rich culture.


Carry a reusable water bottle around

6Photo via Pinterest

Endless walking and sight-seeing will tire you down. You will find yourself buying three or four plastic water bottles each day and doing so contributes to toxic wastes. Bring a reusable water container (hopefully big enough for a liter or two) that you can refill in restaurants or areas where tap water is safe.


Don’t litter

7Photo via Pinterest

This is very basic. Don’t throw food wrappers, plastic bags, water bottles, etc. anywhere (even if the locals do). The trails in the Peruvian Andes and in Nepal have been nicknamed “Coca-Cola trail” and “Toilet paper trail” because of the ton of garbage left behind by trekking tourists. Don’t let this happen to other tourist spots and remember to always dispose off your litter and trash properly.


Save electricity

8Photo via Pinterest

Are you one of those travelers who do not mind keeping the heater or air-conditioning on even after they leave their hotel because they paid for it? Well, you are not entitled to consume all of the world’s energy. Treat it as you would your own home. Turn the aircon off and plug out all appliances when not in the room.


Save water

9Photo via Pinterest

Skip the tub and take quick showers. The world’s water resources are beginning to get scarce so make the responsible gesture of keeping your water usage to a minimum. You may be on vacation, but you can only take a break from work and not from being a responsible citizen of the world.


Hang towels and skip laundry

10Photo via Pinterest

Hanging used towels is a universal sign that you want to use them again. Hang them so hotel staff won’t wash them again (and use more water). Also, hotels usually wash guests’ clothes separately so skip the laundry service if you can.


Do not disturb

11Photo via Pinterest

Putting the “do not disturb” sign on your door helps to cut down on using chemical cleansers, washing of bed linens, electricity for vacuuming, etc. After all, you only use your hotel to have a place to sleep when traveling so it can’t look like a cave in a few hours, right?


Respect the wildlife

12Photo via Pinterest

Don’t disturb the wildlife and help in preserving it. In the beach, don’t ride a jetski where there are corals or other marine life. In a safari tour, don’t get too close for comfort and keep a safe distance to animals. Don’t pick up or take home natural resources like shells or plants. Avoid using loud and motorized equipment in small communities.


Beware of souvenirs

13Photo via Pinterest

Ask about a product before purchase. Find out the raw materials used and from where they came from. Some may be illegal to manufacture or transport.


Bring reusable shopping bags

14Photo via Pinterest

When shopping for souvenirs or getting some produce from the local market, use reusable shopping bags and cut down the harmful use of plastic bags.


Consider off-peak travel

15Photo via Pinterest

Travelling during the off-season is not only cheaper; it also helps control the crowd. For example, Boracay is beautiful all year round and while summer is beach season, it is impossible for you not to enjoy and appreciate it even before or after summer. Population and crowd control are among the many challenges faced by most tourist destinations and supporting off-season travels is one way to help. As bonus, you get to enjoy the place with a little bit more peace and quiet.

Sustainable travel is about making simple choices. These choices may seem like it won’t make a difference but when done regularly and collectively, it can save the world for the future generations to see and experience. Remember that what you have is a passport to see the world and not a ticket to destroy it.


Boom Rizal is an investor, a researcher and a passionate writer. Get in touch with me and follow me @boomrizal.

by Editor

How Urbanization Affects the Environment

Herb Guide to Cooking

From: Chadwicks



by Editor

Making Your Own Organic Compost

Every Drop Counts

Your Guide to Choosing The Best Eco-Friendly House For Your Family

By: Guest Contributor, Aby League



Photo courtesy of telegraph.co.uk via Pinterest


With people’s current and modern lifestyles, combined with the fast-changing times, people are being more and more aware of having an eco-friendly home. Daily reports about natural disasters have encouraged people to make green practices everyday, including making their homes ideal for living green. Especially if you’re moving or building a new house, it helps if each material and space in your house is eco-friendly, which can make you feel assured that your home financial investment is all worth it. In fact, the National Association of Realtors reports that prospective buyers put environmental features of their home as one of their top priorities. Want to join the green bandwagon? Here are 8 tips to help you choose the best eco-friendly house for your family.


 1. Green Agents For Your Greener Home

When finding a home, it is always best to find an experienced and trustworthy realtor to help you select the best house. But since you’re focusing now on environment-friendly real estate, it is an additional advantage to find a realtor that knows green home listings. They can also help you out if you have little or zero knowledge on eco-friendly. You might ask, “Where can I find them?” You can try realtor.com to help you find a professional realtor that specializes on green real estate features.


2. Location Is Always Important

Your home’s location is one thing that you must put on your priority list when finding your dream green home. Aside from choosing a piece of land that is realistically available for constructing your house, it also helps if your desired location is convenient and near to everything that you need such as schools, work, etc. You’re sure to cut costs on your daily gas by simply walking or taking the public transport. Also, be clear on the number of rooms and size of your house so that you don’t waste resources on your materials.


3. Step On That Eco-Friendly Flooring

As you build your green home with knowledge on the practical ways to reduce appliances energy cost, you can continue with your environment friendly decisions by focusing on your flooring. Always think of durability as your top priority when it comes to floors, so you’re sure of the longevity of your floors. For wooden floors, check if it is Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified so that you know that it is harvested responsibly. You’ll also be helping out locally by choosing local wooden species. And of course, check the hardness of wood by using the The Janka scale so that you know if the wood is wear and denting resistant.


4. Have Your “Green” Fireplace


Photo courtesy of Lushome via Pinterest


An eco-friendly fireplace is one that produces less pollution compare to standard fireplaces. The Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA) suggests that prospective homeowners should be able to decide if the fireplace that they’re getting is for decorative purposes or for heating purposes during winter. A good option is to use Duraflame due to its lower carbon emissions. Other eco-friendly fireplaces you can choose from include pellet stoves that are convenient to use, as stoves which are one of the cleanest and cheapest options, and wood-burning stoves and inserts which can provide heat to the entire house as long as its constructed properly.


5. Not Just Your Ordinary Siding

The sidings of your house may not be too eco-friendly, but there are ways on how to make it more environment friendly. It all depends on your decision when it comes to the materials that you’ll be choosing. Nadav Malin, vice president of BuildingGreen and editor of Environmental Building News shares that aside from installing sidings properly, owners should think that it is a part of a bigger system of weather protection. People should be wise in choosing a material that’s long lasting, low-maintenance and will contribute greatly to a well-insulated and well-drained wall system. A helpful tip: one can achieve the wooden look by using a fiber-cement composite that is fire and termite resistant and other eco-friendly versions are already available in the market.


6. Solar Panels Are Still In

Your colleagues or friends might claim that solar panels might be expensive, but in the long run it can also save you a lot of money. Be sure to choose the proper location of your solar panel and install it properly, since these are important determinants of the amount of power that you can gather for your house. If you use it properly, you can lower down your energy consumption, and you can also take advantage of incentives and grants, which benefit those who choose to have solar panels at their residences.


7. Ideal Lights For A Greener Home


Photo courtesy of Packaging of the World – Creative Package Design Gallery via Pinterest


Aside from natural light, you’ll also need to pay attention to your installed lights at home. Instead of buying incandescent bulbs, get a hold of LED and CFL bulbs that may cost a little bit higher but you’ll be glad to know that they last longer and consume less energy.


8. Best Insulation, Important Decision

Lastly, the most important that you need to consider for your new green home is proper insulation. Studies show that your home cooling and heating account for 50% of the total energy consumption at your house. Check for broken stuff in your house, which can result into energy waste, such as air leaks, because of improper insulation. In the long run, proper insulation can bring your energy bills down.


Choosing and building your eco-friendly home need not be difficult. Along with energy-saving appliances and these helpful tips, you’re sure to enjoy your new life at your new home, at peace with Mother Nature.


About the Author: Aby League is a qualitative researcher and a passionate writer. She is an innovator and technology enthusiast. She has been writing about health, psychology, home improvement and technology. To know her more, follow @abyleague on Twitter.

by Editor

Sustainability Advice for Small Businesses

By: Guest Contributor, Hannah Corbett

shutterstock_120701584Generally speaking, people are getting better and better all the time at managing their own environmental footprints, and the effect that they have on the planet. But, as the world grows ever more environmentally conscious, and as sustainability becomes more a habit of everyday existence, it’s time for businesses – as well as individual consumers – to step up to the plate, too.

The larger corporations of the world may have more money and resources to invest in sustainability, and minimise the impact of their companies – but smaller business owners shouldn’t be disheartened. There are still a number of changes that even the smallest of businesses can implement in an effort to support sustainability – even if your business isn’t ‘green’ by nature.


Assess your Energy

Is there any way that you can reduce the amount of gas and electricity that your business consumes? There’s plenty of advice available out there on this topic, but some simple changes include turning off unused lights, reducing standby power loss, and investing in better temperature controls and meters.

Go Digital

You can seriously slash the amount of physical resources, such as paper, that your business uses by fully immersing in the latest digital technology. Use cloud computing and storage where possible, and reduce the need to print.

Consider your Supply Chain

Review your suppliers or other businesses that yours is associated, and how sustainable they are as a company. Don’t forget to do the same with your customers, and encourage them to go green, too. As an example, you could offer discounts to customers who reuse or recycle packaging from your products.

Get your Staff on Board

Make sure that your staff understand and abide by any sustainability changes you make in your business. You can even offer incentives to those who take steps to minimise their own impact, or even set up carpooling and cycle-to-work schemes for them to take advantage of.


Even for smaller business, there are a number of easily-implementable sustainability improvements to make, that don’t have to cost the Earth. Starting with the most simple and building up to the bigger ones is a great way to guarantee success and see your business really make a difference.

It’s important for small businesses to step up, take responsibility, and lead the way in sustainability. Small businesses are an integral part of the economy, and have the power pave the way and set an example for larger businesses and consumers alike.

This piece was written by guest author Hannah Corbett: an energy expert with a keen interest in the small business world. Click to find out more about small businesses energy from Make It Cheaper, or connect with Hannah on Twitter or Google+.

Sustainability Concept image via Shutterstock.

by Editor