Category: Wildlife

Golf Courses and the “Good Life” May Kill You

Washington (GGM) Analysis | June 12, 2021 by Attorney Michael Wells, PodcastLegal Fact and Fiction

You do not need to be a character in a Lifetime movie to be poisoned by arsenic. Same goes for some other deadly chemical. Just spend time on a golf course or near one. Contrary to what golf affocinadios claim, golf courses are not good for the environment even though many of the courses look like a cross between Xanadu and Shangri La. Pesticides, herbicides, rodenticides and other chemicals abound on golf courses, according to Fred Siegel’s book Environmental Hazards: Are you Exposed?, and they seep into the soil and run off onto property nearby.

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Heart of the matter. In reality, golf courses are not any different than nuclear sites, chemical dumps, and most any other place where toxic chemicals are dumped, buried, or deposited. What makes them more troubling, perhaps, is they masquerade as environmental improvements. 

For example, on Long Island, 52 golf courses applied 192 different pesticides containing 50 different active ingredients, Siegel writes, and it was later found that these courses averaged 7 pounds of pesticides per acre when the national average was 1.5 pounds per acre. 

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In Virginia, the Battlefield Golf Club was built out of 1.5 million tons of toxic coal ash, and its owners sued Dominion Resources for selling them the coal ash laden dirt used to build the golf course. The course is situated in a planned community, and the EPA deemed the water underneath the course contaminated. A contractor hired by Dominion found more than double the acceptable limits of arsenic as well as high amounts of chromium, lead, beryllium, magnesea, and zinc. One of the developers sued Dominion for contracting kidney cancer, and 383 residents sued for over $1 billion in damages. URS Corporation, the company Dominion hired to test the course, found the course was basically an “open dump”. The groundwater under the course threatened the aquifer supplying water to all the residents. 

In Cape Cod , the Conservation Law Foundation sued Willowbend Country Club for dumping toxic nitrogen pollution into the water. 

These are but a few examples, but this is happening everywhere. And very few people living near golf courses are ever asked (or told) about it. Most troubling is that children are the most vulnerable. But, for whatever reason, golf is associated with the “good life,” but sometimes the “good life” will kill you. Talk about a farce.

How this impacts you personally. Maybe you do not golf or think you live near a golf course, but golf courses are everywhere and often near bodies of water. Their chemicals spread through the water and the air like so many other toxic sites in America. They may look pretty, but they are heavily polluted and pose risks to those far beyond their borders. 

If you live in North America, you live near a golf course more than likely.

What you can do. There are a few things you can do. Never play golf, or, if you have, stop playing. Refuse to live on or near a golf course. Show up at zoning meetings open to the public, and say you do not want developers building golf courses in your town. It may not work, but, if enough people speak up, perhaps it will slow their growth.

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Next Steps

Golf is tied to the chemical industry, so fighting golf course development is really about stopping chemical companies such as Dow Chemicals from polluting. To that end, people can:

  • Contact their local, state, and federal officials and complain about golf course development, which is really golf course pollution;
  • Find out which chemical companies manufacture chemicals used on golf courses and protest these companies as well as boycott them; 
  • Google golf course lawsuits, and read more about them. If you do, you will realize these cases are no different than coal ash in North Carolina or the Hanford superfund site. 

Golf courses are the same as any other environmental problem, but they are not as obvious until you learn all about the toxic chemicals necessary to keep them looking pristine. And people should not have to be poisoned, get cancer, and die just because looks can be (and are) deceiving. You shouldn’t have to die for a cliche to be true. 

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Top 5 Vegan Beauty Brands | Vegan Scene

Washington (GGM) Analysis | June 2, 2021 by Sarah J. Kings

Consumer ethics has never been such a hot topic!  Compassionate and eco-friendly shoppers are searching for resources and products everyday. With many making changes in their diet and fashion choices, there has never been a better time to switch out your old cosmetics and trade them in for vegan alternatives. Vegan beauty brands do not rely on animal cruelty and animal products or biproducts to create makeup. Here is a list of five major vegan and cruelty free beauty brands that are focused on both ethics and sustainability. 

KVD Beauty- Kat Von D’s makeup line has been cruelly-free since its launch in 2008. The brand came out with its first vegan product, tattoo liner, in 2010. The Tattoo Liner sold like hotcakes, and is still one the most popular items today. KVD announced the switch to a vegan line in 2015, and went completely vegan in 2016. Today they boast the slogan “made with love, not animals.” They are also committed to not using bee’s wax, which is a big help to the environment.

Twitter- @guadalahari

NYX- NYX Professional Makeup is a PETA approved cruelty-free brand. They are well known for creating pigmented palettes and bold makeup trends. NYX is owned by L’Oreal, who recently released a statement about their commitment to meeting consumer demands for ethics and sustainable products. “To meet the changing expectations of our consumers, we are continuously innovating… [in] maintaining consistency in the quality of the product while also improving their environmental impact.”

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MILK- The brand has always been cruelty- free, and in 2018 co-founder Dianna Ruth announced that MILK would convert to 100% vegan formulas as well. MILK’s commitment to sustainability comes in the form of water reduction. The brand has shed  light on excess water usage in cosmetics, and they are responding  by designing concentrated formulas that do not waste water. Their products are also formaldehyde free. This is significant, as formaldehyde is known to be detrimental to marine life.

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Rare Beauty- Rare Beauty is something completely brand new! Singer, actress, and producer Selena Gomez is coming out with a beauty brand on September 3rd, and it is 100% vegan and cruelty-free. In an Instagram post Selena said this, “for the past few months, you’ve all been asking… and we’re proud to share that our products will be 100% vegan and cruelty-free. Like you, we love and care for our animals too.”

Instagram@rarebeauty 

Bare Minerals- Bare Minerals brand is 100% cruelty free and the high majority of their makeup is vegan. They make the list because of their strong commitment to mother earth. Bare Minerals runs an eco-friendly blog that regularly offers tips and advice to consumers on how to live a more sustainable life. Their products are all palm oil free, which makes them a viable option in selecting sustainable vegan makeup.

Each of these companies is working hard to provide the world with ethical and sustainable vegan beauty products. If makeup is part of your routine, consider shopping with one of these brands the next time you are in need of a new lipstick or brow pencil! 

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Leave No Trace — A Parents Guide

Washington (GGM) Analysis | May 26, 2020 by Sarah J. Kings

You are trying your best to head an eco-friendly family.  You are recycling and upcycling like a champ, you’re careful not to waste water or gas, and maybe you’ve even incorporated Meatless Mondays into your routine. With all the planet conscious talk around your house, your kids are probably starting to show a little love for Mother Nature too.

Twitter- @NatureKidsBC

Inviting your children to the conservation will inevitably lead to more time spent outdoors.  When you and your loved ones ‘get out’ and try to make the most out of summer, it is essential to remember: Leave No Trace. Leave No Trace is an outdoor ethics initiative that has helped people preserve and protect the environment for over 25 years.

The 7 Principles of Leave No Trace

  • Plan ahead & prepare
  • Travel & camp on durable surfaces
  • Dispose of waste properly
  • Leave what you find
  • Minimize campfire impacts
  • Respect wildlife
  • Be considerate of other visitors
It’s time to face the music. Nearly 1 billion people around the globe are food insecure because of climate change. And more than double that number are moderately food insecure. The imbalance between those who are currently suffering the consequences of climate change and those who still have very high carbon footprints, requires that we all make sacrifices. Sacrifices are much easier when there’s an awesome song to go with it. CLICK the link and check it out.

As a parent, it is important to take these principals with you when venturing into parks or woods with your kids.  Even if you are only going for the day and won’t be camping- you can still make sure to Leave No Trace.  

Before your outing, be sure to bring water and snacks in reusable containers.  It is also a good idea to bring a small satchel with you to collect any waste. You may find that other people have left behind water bottles or wrappers— help out by getting it out of the woods. Instead of bringing home trinkets like rocks, flowers, or bugs, bring a camera. Encourage your children to photograph what they see, so as not to disrupt the natural ecosystem. Make sure that you and your family members stay on the trails so that growing plants and small wildlife are not disturbed. Also, be sure that no one in your group breaks branches or carves initials into tree trunks.

Instagram- @texaskidsadventures

There are so many ways you can teach your children to respect Mother Nature while giving her a visit. The most important thing you can do is talk about it. Tell your children about Leave No Trace. Doing so will open up an avenue for their own personal interest in conservation to thrive. 


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So-called “Fake” Leather is Real Deal

Washington (GGM) Analysis | August 27, 2020 by Sarah J. Kings

The freezer section of your local grocery store isn’t the only thing going vegan. The vegan leather industry- often misbranded as ‘fake leather’- is booming right now, and the world of fashion is getting a much-needed makeover! Sustainability and ethics have moved to the forefront of consumer consciousness, and brands are racing to be first in line to meet the high demand.

Twitter- @watsonandwolfe

Hill Report spoke with Helen Farr-Leander, CEO of the Peta approved brand Watson & Wolfe, about vegan leather and the future of eco-friendly fashion. Watson & Wolfe is a luxury vegan leather & accessories brand that offers ethical fashion alternatives. When asked about the future of ‘fake,’ Farr-Leander had this to say. “Leather alternatives are already attracting more attention, and with each new innovation, they are reducing impact and increasing sustainability. Within five years, we will see existing leather goods brands looking at these materials, not only to reduce their own impact but to attract new customers.” And she’s not wrong.

According to a recent study conducted by Infinium Global Research, the vegan leather industry will be worth  $89.6 billion by 2025. With the rise of veganism and consumer ethics, many are looking to vegan leather to resolve animal cruelty and carbon emissions problems. This is why it is no surprise that people are looking to change assumptions about what ‘fake’ leather is and isn’t. Jonathan Ohayon, Founder and CEO of the F.A.K.E. Movement, is rebranding the word to stand for Fashion for the Animal Kingdom and Environment. When interviewed he told Hill Report, “I created the F.A.K.E. movement, so we can proudly wear a  real vegan alternative.” 

Instagram- @fakemovement 

Farr-Leander echoed this sentiment by saying, “I would encourage those people to look at these materials objectively. The newer leather alternatives are materials in their own right, just like cotton or animal leather, with their own unique qualities and textures.” Vegan leather is the future and is the boost and innovation that the textile industry needs to combat the climate crisis. To quote Farr-Leander, “there is nothing ‘fake’ about [vegan leathers], they are future materials.” ‘Fake’ leather is the real deal!

Tl:dr

  •  Sustainability and ethics have moved to the forefront of consumer consciousness
  • Vegan leather industry- often misbranded as ‘fake leather’- is booming
  • According to Infinium Global Research, the vegan leather industry will be worth  $89.6 billion by 2025
  • Vegan leather is the future of the textile industry 

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US Vegan Climate Index Isn’t “Shackled to The Past”

Washington (GGM) Analysis | August 27, 2020 by Sarah J. Kings

European investing platform Beyond Investing– no relation to Beyond Meat– celebrated the second ‘birthday’ of its US Vegan Climate Index this summer. As the world’s first exchange-traded fund (ETF) focused on veganism and environmentalism, the US Climate Index (VEGAN) should be a ticker on your investor watchlist.  

Twitter- @BeyondInvest

The US Climate Index avoids companies and business models that pose a threat to the environment.  This means that they do not support animal exploitation or unethical business. In a press release published on June 16, 2020, Beyond Investing reported, “over its two-year live history, VEGAN has outperformed the S&P 500 Index…on a price return basis of 5.93%.” VEGAN outperforming the S&P 500 means big things for Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) funds. 

When questioned about the future of ESG investing, Claire Smith, Beyond Investing CEO, shared some poignant thoughts with The Hill Report. “ESG investing will become the primary driver for investment. Investors are holding companies to higher standards and questioning the viability of unethical and polluting business models. It represents the opportunity to invest for the future that you want to see, as opposed to keeping your money shackled to the past.”

Instagram- @beyond_animal

With a boom of awareness of veganism and sustainability in the US, and the success of companies like Beyond Meat and Tesla, new Initial Public Offerings (IPOs) are sure to be popping up. Investors in the US Climate Index can rest assured that each new IPO will be properly screened and vetted before being added to the fund. Smith said that she anticipates “more IPOs of ethical plant-based and cruelty-free food and lifestyle product companies.” She looks forward “to including them in our US Vegan Climate Index as replacements for those damaging companies that fail our screens.” As the demand for ethical investing soars higher, people looking to the stock market should consider the US Vegan Climate Index. 

Tl;dr

  • European investing platform Beyond Investing celebrates two years of the US Vegan Climate Index
  • As the world’s first exchange-traded fund (ETF),  US Climate Index (VEGAN) is a ticker to watch
  • VEGAN has outperformed the S&P 500
  • CEO, Claire Smith predicts that more IPOs of ethical plant-based and cruelty-free food and lifestyle product companies are on the rise 
  • US Climate Index screens companies to ensure that only ethical businesses are added to the fund

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The Natural World’s Guidance During Difficult Times

Washington (GGM) Analysis | April 1, 2020
NWHillReport-Pic by Noreen Wise

It’s fascinating to learn how much secret communication occurs between animals, plants and all living organisms. Trees are probably the best example of a complex communication network that exists below the surface, enabling all the trees in a forest to share information about dangers they may be experiencing, a 911 call of sorts, conducted through fungus “threads.”

Different animals can communicate with each other as well. The Irish Examiner has provided a detailed analysis about how animals connect through “body language, sound, smell, touch, and even chemical and electrical communication.”

And we know how well our pets communicate with us, in fact, at times it seems like they can even read our minds. Therefore, it’s quite logical to imagine that wildlife animals can communicate with us too. For example, one scientific test proved that crows never forget a human face. Bizarre, especially in today’s era of facial recognition. Who would have imagined that a crow would have that type of advanced sensory ability. I’ll be dashing for cover the next time I see a crow in my vicinity, worried it might be a stalker.

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Interestingly, what I have noticed from past experiences, and past personal experiments testing my hypothesis that an animal crossing our paths is actually communicating with us, giving us a clue that will help answer a question we may have or solve a dilemma. I’ve become much more aware of my surroundings now, of each and every bird, forest animal and bug, and quickly google to see what it symbolizes. I interpret each chance encounter as the natural world sharing a piece of advice that I can apply to my current circumstance. The advice has never failed me. Ever. I don’t think I can say the same about human advice. It almost seems as though animals, and even plants for that matter, are able to tap into our spirit. Perhaps we somehow inadvertently transmit distress on a high level frequency that the natural world is connected to.

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Who knows, really. But what I am certain about is that during difficult times like these, I’m forever on the lookout to see what animals come my way and quickly google to checkout the meaning and interpret it as advice that I should apply to my situation (patience is quite common). Interestingly, throughout history, there have been multiple cultures who have believed in something along these lines. Native Americans are one such culture. Native Americans have a whole “spirit animal” association structure. And there are others. The bright side of our current distress is that we all have the opportunity to test this out for ourselves and see what it nets.

The fox I pass frequently when I’m running on the trail near my home is my constant reminder to live passionately. The fox also represents cleverness in the trickiest of situations, which is very valuable advice indeed, especially during the horrific covid-19 crisis. Apparently, I need to stay sharp and alert like a fox. “Will do,” say I in reply.

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