My Aquaponics Adventure!

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Recently I visited two Aquaponics farms. The farms were called, “Ouroboros Farms” and “SchoolGrown”. The tour of these aquaponics farms was thrilling because I like plants and animals. Aquaponics is an alternate farming method which combines Aquaculture and Hydroponics together. Alternate farming methods are going to play a very important role in our future. We can also grow plants without soil. Now here are some fascinating details I learned.

Last year people ate more fish than beef. That is very important to note. We really need more supplies of vegetables and we also need more fish. But with the changing climate and droughts, it is a huge challenge. Aquaponics is the answer to this challenge. Aquaponics also conserves water. An aquaponics fish farm uses 99% less water, no cleaning is needed, and there is no need to change the water. Vegetables are grown with 90% to 95% less water, as the water is re-circulating.

With this method we can grow more vegetables in less spaces and without soil. About 10 to 12 heads of lettuce can be grown per sq. ft., whereas in the old soil farming, only about 3 heads of lettuce per sq. ft. can survive because the roots need more space. The roots of one lettuce plant in the soil spread over large areas and can get as big as a Volkswagen beetle car! The plants grown in aquaponics farms grows fewer roots just enough to absorb the nutrients from the water, and they put all their energy in the rest of the plant growth, so plants are actually healthier. The aquaponics farm grows 900 carrots in just 2 sq. ft.

In fish farms the nitrate level goes as high as 1300-1400 ppm, which is toxic. Dr. Rakocy made the filtration system that removes toxic and keep the nutrients. The duckweed plants, algae, worms, and other small good living creatures, creates an ecosystem that can feed the fishes as well as create minerals for plants. Not only vegetables, other types of crops like rice can also be grown in aquaponics method.

The Ouroboros farm is organic. The pesticide used is Neem based. Mosquito fish are grown to eat insects. They strive hard to keep everything organic to maintain a good balanced ecosystem.  The aquaponics farm with the solar technology is the non-profit organization, “SchoolGrown”. Their new solar powered water circulating system uses just 20W of energy to move 500 gal. of water. The roof solar is used for filtration and other energy needs.

Aquaponics farms conserves energy, conserves water, crops can be grown all year round, has less pests, its organic, and is soil less. The benefits are huge! I would like to end with John Cage’s quote, “I can’t understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I’m frightened of old ones!”

About the Author:

Amita Gowda, 8 years old is an active volunteer of Green Kids Now, and is already a youth speaker and has delivered several presentations in science and environmental topics.

Ouroboros Farm Tour

Hydroponics & Alternate Farming Methods – presented at 5th annual, Green Kids Conference:

Other Resources:

Here is a PBS blog post about SchoolGrown: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/spreading-aquaponics-schools-around-country/

Here is a PBS news video about Ouroboros Farms:http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/aquaponic-farming-saves-water-can-feed-country/

 

A Wake up Call

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Let’s end our dependence on Fossil Fuels

Today, we have become extremely dependent on fossil fuels. 81 percent of America’s energy comes from fossil fuels. While this number has decreased, this is still an extremely high amount. We all know that fossil fuels are limited, yet we still keep using them in markets like the manufacturing and energy industries. Most of our Carbon Emissions come from Fossil Fuels, but still we have not made the switch. We are still too dependent on the old grid, fossil fuels and petrochemical products in general. My question is “Why”? There are practical solutions out there. Renewable resources technology has increased greatly over the past few years, along with more up and coming solar companies. America has always been in the front to adopt new technologies and innovations, especially in the Information Technology space. So, why haven’t we switched in the energy and manufacturing sectors? Why are we still dependent on petrochemical products and fossil fuels?

There are many answers to this question. Many say it’s because of decreasing oil prices, or the failures of Solar Companies like Solyndra. While these may be true, I believe that the reason we have not changed is because of a more psychological reason- an unwillingness to change.

This behavior can be explained through a very simple quote, “If something works don’t fix it.” This thinking can be seen in the petrochemical industry. During the 20th century, and the early 21st century, fossil fuels and petrochemical products were the answer to our demands. Clean Coal Technology was the solution. But, as time progressed and as more scientific research was done, we must come to a realization- Fossil fuels are not the answer. Studies show that an increase of Carbon Dioxide caused by Fossil Fuels is one of the biggest factors causing Climate Change. Fossil fuel extraction is also polluting our water, air, rivers, aquifers etc. Some places do not even have access to clean tap water anymore!

So, how long are we going to remain stubborn and not change? The more we procrastinate, the more we postpone signing treaties, and the more we argue; more lives are being put in danger and more people are being robbed of their basic necessities: clean air and water.

We MUST change. No longer can we go with the mentality of “If something works don’t fix it.” It is time that we break this habit and realize the severity of our actions. We must stop using fossil fuels in the manufacturing and energy industry. We must start the change NOW!

There is still hope. We have not completely lost. If we join together, and rethink, redesign and restore with environmental sustainability in our hearts, then there is hope. If we make environmental care, a priority and put it on the economic and social agendas, then there is hope. If we focus on the future generation and sustainability for years to come, instead of the short term gain, then there is hope. If we start caring more about our basic necessities, instead of short term profit, then there is hope.

So, this is why we must wake up and take action now. There is still hope, and if we join together and make changes, we can solve our issues and end our dependencies on all fossil fuels and petrochemical products.

 

About The Author:

Pavan-1Pavan is 14 years old and a passionate environmentalist. He is the founder of non-profit organization, Green Kids Now, Inc. He is also the founder of Green Kids Conference. Pavan has published two books, “Geckoboy-The Battle of Fracking” and “Two Tales from a kid”. He is a Climate Leader and also enjoys being a global reporter.

To request Pavan for a presentation, you can submit a request at: http://presenters.climaterealityproject.org/presenter/pavan-gowda_7084

The amazing experience I have been given!

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Author: Reshana is a student at Metropolitan Expeditionary Learning School, NY.

 Hello my name is Reshana. I am 12 years old and I attend Metropolitan Expeditionary Learning School (MELS). This school, empowers students by helping them understand the impact of their daily actions MELS-logoas well as the actions of others. By using New York City as their extended classroom, students learn that sustainability means meeting our current needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. Through their authentic, project-based learning expeditions in all disciplines, as well as their experiences in science and technology, students become critical thinkers who gather information, carefully weigh their options, and make informed, thoughtful choices that effect change. Students, once empowered, will take action to maintain and create sustainable systems within their neighborhood, community, city, state, country, and world. Along with regular classes my school also has expeditions and case studies, which provide students with in-depth, investigative units of study across the curriculum that engage students in real-world learning experiences. We also have fieldwork and experts which allow student to work, serve, and learn outside of the classroom. My school is open to different things.

As I was saying before about my school having expeditions, our latest one is “The Price of Progress”. We have to give up something that pollutes the earth. For example fast food, computer, light etc. As we do this we must blog about it.

At the beginning of the expedition we watch a film called “No Impact Man”. This film was about a man who decides to give up electricity, restaurants, transportation, etc. for a year to help the environment and to show us that some of the things we use every day isn’t necessary. My ELA project is similar to “No Impact Man”. In order to do this project, first we created a list of 10 things that would be hard to give up from the hardest to the easiest. Once you have done, I recommend you pick something in the middle. After that you can start committing to your sacrifice for a month but if you are really committed to it you can do it for a year. I would advise you to keep a journal. Write everyday of how you are feeling about your commitment. I did this for my commitment. I had given up TV; I know people would say I am crazy for giving up TV, but I am not. When I gave up TV it was hard for a couple of days but then I got used to it. On some days I am tempted because those are the days my shows are showing, but I didn’t give in to my temptation, because I reminded myself why I was doing this and it worked. Since my class did the project in May and that was when all my shows were ending I was going crazy. I would try this another month in the summer because I am going to be outside mainly so I don’t have to worry about TV.

I would think no TV is still worth it. According to eva.gov/state in 2013 New York had the fourth highest average electricity prices in the United States. If you think about it, if my carbon footprint is only 25% (as a child) imagine what an adult might be and a family. Then each building in New York. Also, in 2011, New York was the eighth largest energy consumer among the 50 states. I could imagine that LA was number one, but we are so close to becoming number one with new technology coming out. We need to cut back on the products we are buying and making. According to my science class most of the products we use are made out of fossil fuel. In order to get this fossil fuel we pollute and cause destructions in so many ways. There is a lot that goes into making products we use. And when these products are discarded and thrown out we are still polluting.

With my school we are provided with many experiences that educate us in many ways. In ELA I learned that everything we use somehow impact the environment and how I can help to preserve the environment and its beauty by eliminating the things that cause the environment harm. Even though I gave up TV that only helped the environment a little. I feel like I could have helped the environment more by asking my family to do the challenge with me. In order to make a real difference we need to do this together. Our future generations deserves a better world. Don’t you think we need to save the environment and make a better future?

No Meat May!

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Author: Isabella, Student at Metropolitan Expeditionary Learning School, NY

 In ELA class, we have been learning about how our actions impact the earth negatively. The commitments that we are doing connects to the school’s mission, because our mission is to help make the world MELS-logomore sustainable. My commitment is to give up all types of meat for the whole month of May. I chose this because giving up meat is very difficult for me. This is because I usually ate meat everyday for lunch and dinner. In MELS we have expeditions and case studies, our expedition is called Price Of Progress and our case study in ELA is called My Story Of Stuff. We learned how our actions can make a difference in the world. Eating meat has not only an impact on my carbon footprint, but also on the earth. All of our classes are connected to each other. We are learning about sustainability in all classes. Now, let’s get down to my story…

The first week of my commitment was extremely hard. I was very tempted to sneak a piece of meat into my sandwich or onto my plate at dinner. As days went by I wasn’t getting those temptations, but the savory taste of meat always stayed in my head. Since I couldn’t eat meat I tried a lot of foods with tofu or soy in it. For example, one thing I tried was tofu bacon. Since I will always remember the taste of real bacon, the tofu bacon didn’t taste very good.

Another thing I tasted was a soy sausage. I didn’t like it, but I would eat it again if I had to. My family loves meat and we have a lot of BBQs. So, when we go to the barbeques everyone always says, “Isabella do you want a hot dog?” It always kills me to say no, and then I have to explain my reason. The only part I like about that is explaining. This is because no one thinks that what they eat actually affects the earth and their carbon footprint. It’s really important because my family and I now know that our actions can negatively impact the earth. For example, www.Emissionschart.com says “ Chicken releases 6.9 kilograms of emission, beef releases 27 kilograms, pork releases 12.1 kilograms, and lamb releases 39.2 kilograms of emissions.” I found this to be a problem because everyone in my family eats these types of meats. Another puzzling fact I read on Meat Consumption, “ To make a quarter-pound hamburger it takes 1,036 kilograms of fossil fuel energy.” This connects to what I’m learning in my Science class. In Science we are learning about fossil fuels and how they affect the earth negatively and positively. In this case it’s showing a negative effect.

Another connection is to Social Studies. How would it make you feel knowing that by you eating the hamburger you’re slowly killing the earth? When I learned this I never wanted to touch a hamburger again. It’s sad to think that something so delicious is bad for the earth. Even though I had a wonderful time with this commitment, it was also hard for my family. I say this because they always had to cook something extra so that I would have something to eat. Besides that, my family was very supportive of me throughout my journey.

The experience that this commitment has given me is incredible. I’ve learned so much from it, the big picture that I learned is that one action has a bigger effect than anyone can imagine. In the end, when I reflect on this commitment I really think that I have become more flexible regarding what I eat. This commitment was definitely worth it, and now I know that not only do my actions reflect on other people, but also on the earth. Since I had to explain to everyone about my commitment, I think that I can make a big impact, because if someone in my family might also do this, and if they talk to other people about it, it would slowly spread the message. I have learned a lot throughout this expedition and I hope that you have learned something too.

Fair Trade

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Author: Megan, student at Metropolitan Expeditionary Learning School, NY

 Sustainability has been a common topic in all of my school classes. For example, a sacrifice to cut out one non sustainable activity/thing from our lives in ELA, fossil fuels and their impacts in science, sustainable packaging in math, and how sustainable the current clothing system is in social studies. Sara Ziff (a model who founded an organization called Model Alliance who is also working on a film called Tangled Threads) came into my social studies class to speak about her visit to Bangladesh and her discoveries about the current clothing industry. A summary of her presentation is that the fashion industry as a whole is built on the backs of young girls who are mistreated, over worked, underpaid and work in unsafe conditions. Her presentation inspired me to find a better, more sustainable way to make products. In social studies we learned that there are three types of sustainability: social, environmental, and economical. I did research to see if fair trade items are more sustainable in all three ways than a regular, non-fair trade items.

Socially, fair trade items are significantly more sustainable than regular items. For example, I found out from www.stylewithheart.com/category/fairtrade/  that workers get a fair amount of money for the work they do. Not only do they get a salary, they also receive a premium that goes towards things in their community like giving them access to clean water or building a school. Plus, according to http://fairtradeusa.org/blog/win-win-win-consumers-farmers-and-environment the quality of life can also be improved by fair trade. “Fair trade is an organized social movement that aims to help producers in developing countries to make better trading conditions and promote sustainability. It advocates the payment of a higher price to exporters as well as higher social standards.” That evidence is from http://www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_Trade, On the other hand, regular non fair trade items don’t pay workers fair wages and they don’t treat workers fairly.

Environmentally, fair trade is sustainable. According to http://fairtradeusa.org/blog/win-win-win-consumers-farmers-and-environment fair trade items reduce water usage and help to reduce pollution. That means it is better than regular items because it uses less water and reduces pollution. That makes the environment a better place. Fair trade is a movement that has higher environmental standards than regular items. That evidence is from http://www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_Trade. With higher environmental standards fair trade is more environmentally sustainable. According to http://www.triplepundit.com/2012/04/protecting-people-protecting-planet  fair trade helps farmers to be better stewards of the land. Without fair trade some farmers struggle with money so they use cheap agricultural practices that aren’t good for the environment. I learned in science and math class that burning coal to make electricity pollutes CO2. CO2 gets put into the air and comes down to pollute the water 7 years later. With fair trade polluting less it stops the cycle of pollution in the air and then to the water. That means they don’t only keep water clean by not putting chemicals in the water, but also by not putting pollution in the air. Without fair trade the environment is being compromised. Fair trade is environmentally sustainable.

Economically, fair trade is sustainable. According to http://www.equalexchange.coop/about/fair-trade/faqs/does-fair-trade-coffee-cost-more-consumer, fair trade items/ products don’t have to cost more than regular items. Compared to organic or specialty grade coffee it normally costs the same or less. Even if it did cost more people are willing to pay the extra dollar or even as much as 40% more! I know this because when Sara Ziff came in to speak to my class she said that she did an experiment. There were two boxes of the exact same socks except one box was labeled “Fair trade.” The fair trade box was marked up 40% more but most people still bought the fair trade socks. Plus, in social studies class I learned about subsidies. According to http://www.investopedia.com/terms/s/subsidy.asp a subsidy is “a benefit given by the government to groups or individuals usually in the form of a cash payment or tax reduction.” That means that when fair trade farmers get subsidies, it isn’t coming out of the consumers pocket, it is coming out of the governments.

In conclusion, fair trade is a way to meet the needs of our generation without out sacrificing the needs of future generations. If everyone did one small thing differently/more sustainably then the world would be a better place where future generations’ needs are still being met. This is essentially what we are doing in ELA. We have all given up one unsustainable thing for a month. Instead of giving up things that are very hard to give up like television, restaurants, meat, and electricity we could give up something simple that will still have a huge impact. The thing that we could give up are non-fair trade items. People, companies, and factories should realize that fair trade is the key to a more sustainable society. Over all, fair trade is a more sustainable alternative to regular items socially, environmentally, and economically.

Author’s statement:

MELS-logoThis research paper clearly meets the learning targets: I can evaluate the impact of my choices on the world and I can synthesize my learning in other classes to connect to real world experiences.

I met the first learning target by showing how the fair trade system currently affects people, consumers, companies and most importantly the environment. Plus, I showed that the choices you make now can affect people in the future. For example I wrote “Without fair trade the environment is being compromised.” I wrote that because if we choose to buy non-fair trade items the pollution and chemicals from those regular items make could hurt the environment. One small choice has a huge impact and I showed that by writing about how choosing fair trade items you can impact the environment for the better.

I met the second learning target by supporting the idea of fair trade with evidence from other classes. For example I wrote about Sara Ziff from social studies to show my inspiration that made me want to write this paper. I also wrote about her to show how non-fair trade factories treat women/people. I backed up how pollution can affect all places in the environment with evidence about fossil fuels from science and math. Also I spoke about a sacrifice in ELA to show that giving up non-fair trade items is simple but still has a big impact.

That shows us that everything we do connects to one another and everything we choose to do or not to do has an impact whether it be big, small, negative, or positive.

Are we going to awaken to the energy crisis yet?

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More than 100 years ago, when the great scientist, Nikola Tesla, spoke about the sustainability and safety of the sources of our energy, we refused to listen. We refused to awaken to the great inventor, Thomas Edison, when he proposed the need and benefits of renewable energy sources. When we adopted these two great scientists’ inventions, what made us not to listen to their advices about renewable energy sources? What are we waiting for, and most important question in my mind is, why are we still debating about renewable energy sources?

“We need to realize that Oil, Gas, and Coal can only be used for the short term. We have only so much more time left, until we completely run out” said, Nikola Tesla, who founded the AC-Alternating Current that we are using and so reliant on today.

Also, Thomas Edison the Father of electricity, warned us that, “Instead of waiting until we are in desperate need, and deep into the energy crisis, we should try to change now”, he said about a century ago, “We should avert this looming crisis, and make the transition to renewable resources.” Thomas Edison was aware of the need, and saw the possibility and potential of Solar, and Renewable energy! He was so passionate about the concept, that he said “I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that!”

Yet, most of our energy today still comes from fossil fuels. The United States gets almost 85% of energy from coal, oil and natural gas, and almost 10.6 million barrels of oil per day. Today, United States have actually reduced our dependency on Foreign Oil, and the government has put in plans to help America become completely Energy Independent, which is good. However, the way we are achieving this goal is controversial. The concept of “Drill, Drill, and Drill!” has had negative effects on human health and the environment, through processes like fracking.

This recent increase of drilling has caused Carbon Pollutions to increase. In fact, according to the EIA (U.S. Energy Information Administration), CO2 emissions from fossil fuels rose 2.39 percent in 2013 compared with 2012 and grew 7.45 percent for the first two months of 2014 compared with the same period in 2013. This increase puts an end to the 5 year decline that we had in for Carbon Emissions! An increase in Carbon, will greatly affect our planet!

Today, companies are imposing incentives to become more energy efficient and to reduce their Carbon Footprint. However, even with these initiatives, we still have not averted the energy crisis.

At least now, let’s awaken and further our knowledge on renewable resources. In an article Tesla wrote in 1905, he stated this fact, writing, ““Long before this consummation, coal and oil must cease to be important factors in the sustenance of human life on this planet. It should be borne in mind that electrical energy obtained by harnessing a waterfall is probably fifty times more effective than fuel energy. Since this is the most perfect way of rendering the sun’s energy available, the direction of the future material development of man is clearly indicated.” So, even in the 1900s people were aware of the consequences of over-using Fossil Fuels, and knew that Renewable Resources, like Solar and Wind, are the answer.

Let’s not wait another century and wonder how to handle our energy crisis. Wake up to the power and benefits of renewable sources of energy, which was the right way 100 years ago and is the right way even now!

 

Pavan-1  About the Author:

Pavan is 14 years old and a passionate environmentalist. He is the founder of non-profit organization, Green Kids Now, Inc. He is also the founder of Green Kids Conference. Pavan has published two books, “Geckoboy-The Battle of Fracking” and “Two Tales from a kid”. He also enjoys being a global reporter.

The 3 New R’s for our path forward

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RRR-GKN-96dpi

When most people think about environment care they think of the current ‘R’s – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rot. But, these ‘R’s, are not sufficient as it only focuses on Waste Management. Going forward I think we should adopt, “Rethink, Redesign, and Restore” with Environmental Sustainability in the core of everything we do. These new ‘R’s will dramatically help us, as it would provide us with new vision and new set of goals to redo, rebuild, and revive.

Rethinking can be applied in the manufacturing industry. For example, most of the problems we are having today in us not knowing how to use our raw materials properly and to dispose of an item properly, like plastics, are because when we were formulating these products we did not consider these important factors. But now we know from our previous mistakes that the correct way to make a product or solution is to think of environmental sustainability from the beginning. It’s time for us to rethink our manufacturing processes and our materials industry, by adopting natural processes like self-assembly process of nature, and expand green chemistry initiatives to ramp up the availability of new materials.

Our current systems are mostly outdated, and redesign is desperately needed to manage our current and future needs. Almost everything in our built world, like our energy distribution, our water storage and distribution, transportation and communication systems, requires rebuilding. Let’s take the electrical distribution system; in today’s world if one electrical line breaks, most of the city has a black-out. Scientists have been studying the vein structures found in leaves, for its efficient and redundant ways by which it distributes water, and other materials. Even when the main vein of the leaf is cut, it doesn’t affect the distribution to the rest of the leaf. Studying and adopting the natural systems will help us redesign for a more robust and sustainable built world.

Over the past years, we have destroyed too much in order to build and expand. That’s why we need to restore and revive our natural resources. We need to increase our preservation and conservation efforts. We need to also be aware that every time a plant or animal becomes extinct, we lose knowledge that could benefit us greatly. Remember, anything that affects our ecosystems, will affect humans too.

So, let’s collaborate to Rethink, Redesign, and Restore our world, with Environmental Sustainability in our hearts.

About the Author:

Pavan is 14 years old, founder of non-profit organization, Green Kids Now, Inc., founder of Green Kids Conference, Published author, Youth Speaker, and an International reporter for Primary Perspectives radio Show. (http://greenkidsnow.org)

Watch Pavan’s speech at the 4th annual, Green Kids Conference:

Founder’s Speech at the 4th annual, Green Kids Conference!

Saving The Frogs!

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Did you know that 1/3 of the world’s amphibians species are about to become extinct and that 200 species have disappeared since the 80s? This rate of the amphibian extinction is scary and not normal.  Usually, one species would only go extinct every 250 years!  The rate of amphibian destruction has increased dramatically, and this is not good. Since frogs and other amphibians play a major role in our ecosystems, wildlife, and humans, if we don’t “Save The Frogs” our lives would be majorly affected.

Frogs help balance our ecosystem. Tadpoles are very beneficial to the streams, and rivers that they are in.  Since tadpoles constantly swim around, the water would be moving too. Because the water does not have a chance to become stagnant all the sediment, waste, etc. would also have to keep on moving. This helps the algae which is at the base of the food chain, to be productive and efficient. If the frogs weren’t there all the sediments would just be still, and all the debris would block the algae’s access to the sun, and it would not be able to photosynthesize properly, affecting the whole ecosystem. If frogs disappear, it would also affect our wildlife, since frogs play a big role in the food chain. Frogs eat insects that spread diseases like Malaria, and frogs’ eggs are food for birds and other animals. Also, snakes and other important reptiles eat frogs. So, if we were to lose frogs we would have a dramatic increase in insects, and diseases like dengue fever will increase and affect even more people.

Also, we use frogs for medical reasons. Did you know that some frogs in Puerto Rico can produce and fix their own limbs? Scientists are studying these types of frogs in order to revolutionize the regenerative medicine industry. Also, in the 1980s there was a frog species called the gastric brooding frog, which was found in the Australian rain forests. The female frogs in this species could produce enzymes in there stomach that could treat the human ulcer. But, sadly this frog soon became extinct and we lost this valuable medical asset.

Even though we have lost a lot of frogs over the past years there’s still time to make a change.  We all need to start taking action now, and protect our environment.

On April 27th, 2013, which was the 5th International Save The Frogs Day,  I had the opportunity to interview Dr. Kerry Kriger, Ecologist and Founder of “Save the Frogs” non-profit organization, focused on amphibian conservation.  This interview was broadcasted on May 21st, 2013 through Primary Perspective Radio show in Melbourne Australia. You can listen to the entire interview at: http://greenkidsnow.org/ewaves.html

About The Author:

Pavan is a very passionate environmentalist, published author, the founder of Green Kids Now, Inc. non-profit organization, and the founder of Green Kids Conference. He is the official Biomimicry youth speaker, and a Global reporter for Primary Perspectives radio in Australia.

Global Reporter Pavan Gowda, Interviews Dr. Kerry Kriger, Ecologist and Founder of "Save The Frogs" non-profit organization.

Global Reporter Pavan Gowda, Interviews Dr. Kerry Kriger, Ecologist and Founder of “Save The Frogs” non-profit organization.

Real Solution

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In order to achieve true environmental sustainability, the whole community needs to take action. We need to change our ways and our behaviors, and environment care and sustainability must become the social norm.  Because, if only one person changes their behavior and no one else in the community does, then that person will be ridiculed and their actions will be deprecated.   Voluntary behavior changes and changes to social norms can be achieved by increasing awareness efforts and working together with the community leaders.

When you raise awareness, people would realize that their actions could have consequences, and it could affect other people, other communities, and even cause long term damages.  Once people understand this, they would want to change their ways voluntarily.  But when we enforce laws and force them, people won’t change, because they don’t understand the reason why they are being forced to do something. An example is the law passed to ban plastic bags in New Delhi, India.  However, this law has not made any effect on the number of plastic bags being used. People are still continuing to use plastic bags because they are not aware of the consequences.  As a result there has been no reduction in plastics bags in New Delhi. This is the reason why we have to educate people and raise their awareness, because if they know the effects of their actions they would want to change their behaviors.

For changes to be accepted by the society, the grassroots level actions alone are not sufficient and we need to work together with the community leaders. When the leaders are supportive and shows importance for environmental sustainability then all the people will also feel confident that they are doing the right thing and move in that path.  This will help make these changes become the social norm at a faster pace.  Usually for changes to become social norm it could take several ages and generations too. We do not have that much time to experiment when it comes to caring for this planet, as we are in dire need for fast changes.  A leader has a very powerful say in the direction for a community. So, grassroots level organizations and leaders must work together to bring fast changes that will be accepted by the community.

An example of a country were environmental sustainability has become the social norm is   Costa Rica. Everyone cares for their environment, and it is expected from people to live sustainably. Being caring and responsible towards the environment is a part of their daily lives.  We should all take a closer look at Costa Rica, and believe that it is indeed possible for environmental sustainability to become social norms in our country too.

Environmental Care and Sustainability is our Social Norm!!!

About the Author:

Pavan Raj GowdaPavan Raj Gowda is 12 years old, founder of non-profit organization, Green Kids Now, Inc., founder of Green Kids Conference, Official Biomimicry Youth Speaker, and an International reporter for Primary Perspectives radio Show. (http://greenkidsnow.org and http://greenkidsconference.org)

Listen to Pavan’s Radio Interviews at: http://greenkidsnow.org/ewaves.html

Don Juan’s Eco Farm

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This year for our family vacation we visited Costa Rica, the most beautiful, green place with many wonderful sites and attractions, and is about to become the world’s first carbon neutral country! The highlight of our vacation was our visit to Don Juan’s Eco Farm in Arenal.

Don Juan’s Eco Farm is an organic farm that is environmentally sustainable, and I think that all farms should try to be like this one.  It was fascinating to speak with Don Juan the owner of this farm. He says that like the impatiens seeds which bursts open and spreads its seeds to long distances with just the gentle touch of rain drops, he would like to disseminate his knowledge to people all around the world. The purpose of his farm is to produce, conserve, and to spread knowledge to everyone on environmental sustainability and organic farming.

Don Juan grows everything organically and his farm produces almost everything they need for their daily use. During the tour around the farm, Don Juan showed us how he can make natural juices and delicious snacks from sugar cane, fruits, and even leaves. These juices were one of the best tasting juices I have ever had! As we walked around we picked things that we wanted to eat for lunch; later his family made us traditional Costa Rican food with all the items we picked, and it was very delicious!

We also learnt that his careful placement of various types of plants was to take advantage of the diverse properties of the plants, in order to maintain the rich nutrients in the soil, and also some plants were purposefully placed to detract pests.  This is a very smart method that I think all farms should start using, instead of pesticides.

Don Juan’s Farm is a great real life example of how we could truly be zero waste, and conserve resources.  He has solar panels on roof tops and instead of Natural gas to heat his stove and home, Don Juan showed us how he uses Bio Gas. He uses the methane from his cows to make an energy source, which also helps reduce the amount of greenhouse gases that his farm produces.  He reuses almost everything in his farm, and is very careful about making the right choices for his needs.

Don Juan is a very passionate educator.  Before Don Juan became an organic farmer he was a math teacher and school principal. So, if you look around his farm you would see geometric shapes in which plants are arranged in his fields.   I would never forget the way he explained to me why pi has a value of 3.14 with a little basket and string. Don Juan has educated lots of people from all around the world, on how to farm organically, and in the future Don Juan would like to offer labs and educate even more people.

I saw many researchers, students, and farmers from all around the world visit his farm to learn from him. Don Juan is a true role model and I think that we all should try to follow in his footsteps.

DonJuan's Eco Farm

Picture taken at Don Juan’s Eco Farm, Arenal Costa Rica

About the Author:

Pavan Raj GowdaPavan Raj Gowda is 12 years old, founder of non-profit organization, Green Kids Now, Inc., founder of Green Kids Conference, Official Biomimicry Youth Speaker, and an International reporter for Primary Perspectives radio Show. (http://greenkidsnow.org and http://greenkidsconference.org)

Listen to Pavan’s Radio Interviews at: http://greenkidsnow.org/ewaves.html