Let me explain.
I am a huge tree-hugger. And for this reason, I was a vegetarian for 3 years. Yep, I love the environment so much I gave up the steaks (tough for a girl from Nebraska). There was only one downside.
It almost killed my poor hubs.
You see, I’m married to a meat-and-potatoes, gun-toting, uniform-wearing officer in the U.S. military. Yes, a tree-hugger and gun-toter is a weird combo and we’re not quite sure how it all came about, but so far so good ;). Either way, this man loves his steak. And, being that I’m from Nebraska, he naturally thought I’d be making steaks every night.
Boy, was he wrong.
As I studied more and more about the environment and economics in college, I realized that our meat-heavy world was having a huge impact on conservation (more on that later). And so…I became an ovo-pescatarian. It lasted until he took me to the middle-of-nowhere Georgia and literally, people. There were no vegetables there.
So I had to compromise.
Yep. I started eating meat. I still remember the look on my mom’s face that first Christmas when I dove into the chicken dinner. Sigh. If I’ve learned one thing about marriage, it’s that compromise is mandatory. So the compromise has become that we still have 2-3 nights every week when we don’t eat meat. Clearly my sad hubster is still surviving (mostly on protein powder, I think), my kiddos are like giant vikings (you can’t beat back those good midwestern genes), and our world is at least a bit the better for it.
And that takes us to today’s project.
No, we’re not going to ask you to give up the meaty life for good (although arguably vegetarianism is one of the best things you can do for the environment). But we are asking you to do one project, at home, that will be a huge win for the world’s environment, for your own personal green space, and for the conservation movement as a whole.
We call that living The Spark Life.
And now you get to be a part of it.
One of our core principles here at Aina is that we don’t just talk about issues, we give you meaningful, hands-on action you can take to change the world, today. We’re giving you this fantastic project to help environmental conservation with one of Aina’s Accredited Nonprofits. And if saving the environment isn’t your Spark (have you heard of the Spark Life?), or if this project doesn’t ring quite true to you, be sure to email us so we can help. Because empowering women to change the world is what we do here at Aina, and we’re here to help you.
Before we get to today’s project, let’s talk a few fast facts on Conservation and the Environment so you can wow your friends at the next (meat-free!) dinner party – and understand why this project is so important.
YOUR ISSUE: Conservation & The Environment
One of my favorite conservation facts is that conservation, in and of itself, helps stop global warming. As I’ve said before, global warming is SO important to me, so I’m a big fan of any projects related to it. Conservation is SUCH a huge issue and such a huge part of saving the environment, so to help you have some facts on hand, here’s an easy infographic:
Did you know that the 1.5% of the Earth’s land holds 44% of our plant species (and yep, those land areas are in the tropics)? And that, according to National Geographic, “after looking at just 19 trees in Panama, scientists found 1,200 different species of beetles—80 percent of them unknown to science at the time”? Not only that, but biodiversity and conservation is SO IMPORTANT to our economy – the Great Barrier Reef in Australia produces $6 billion to that nation’s economy – and 2/3 of it is already gone due to global warming. Conservation is still such an important issue worldwide, because the nature of our biosphere means that conservation in one area affects everyone around the globe.
Between 1994 and 2003 the world collectively spent $14.4 billion on conservation. And guess what? It worked. During that time our biodiversity decline slowed by 29 percent. And we need to keep up this good work! Conservation is defined as “the act of consuming natural resources responsibly and carefully so they will be available in the long-term.” So basically that means it’s the “reduce, reuse, recycle” part of the environmental song. And that is just what this project – and our partner organization – is all about.
Why Meatless Works
Producing one pound of meat for a person to consume takes more than 1,800 GALLONS of water. A loaf of bread take 240 and one pound of corn takes 147 gallons. Basically the reason why is because, the higher up the food chain you go, the more calories you need. So if we were all eating veggies instead of meat, the water and land use to feed each person would drastically decrease. And that means more conservation in terms of using natural resources responsibly, and more conservation in terms of more land conserved in its natural state.
YOUR ORGANIZATION: The Marine Mammal Center
Ok ladies, it’s time to stop being morose and start dancing with joy. Because the fantastic news is that you can do something about it, right now, from home. Yep, you – because we are SO not fans of doom and gloom here at Aina.
We are women of action. And we’re out to save this world.
Enter this project – and the fantastic organization of The Marine Mammal Center.
Started in 1975, the Marine Mammal Center is guided and inspired by a shared vision of a healthy ocean for marine mammals and humans alike. Their mission is to advance global ocean conservation through marine mammal rescue and rehabilitation, scientific research, and education. They do this by focusing on three core areas. By rescuing marine animals, many of whom have been hurt or are in trouble because of human activity, they respond responsibly to fix the issues we as a species have created. Secondly, they recognize and promote the interdependence of our biosphere. Because 70% of the area of Earth is covered by oceans, what happens in the oceans has a huge impact on our species as well. Finally, they work to expand the knowledge base around the world about conservation and what we can do to help.
Since 1975, The Marine Mammal Center has rescued and treated over 20,000 animals. Each year their education and involvement programs reach over 30,000 adults and children (that’s amazing!). Not only that, but they are scrappy and get the work done with the fewest resources (one of our big requirements for our partner organizations) – every year they have over 1,200 volunteers helping them with their work. They are so very awesome – and you can help them too. Keep reading for one way to get involved, and find more ways to be involved with The Marine Mammal Center here.
→Vegetables (all varieties, not just these!)
→One Night per Week
(Note: These might include affiliate links)
Step 1: Get Your Recipe
We have put together our own Pinterest Board to help you out with your “Meatless Mondays” feast. Check out all of the fun recipes, repin what you like, and find that perfect recipe for your Meatless Monday. And don’t forget to follow us on Pinterest – we’re always pinning something to help the world!.
Step 2: Get Connected
Whenever a woman asks us how they can start helping the world in their specific issue of interest, we always tell them to start with a known organization. The Marine Mammal Center is a great, Aina-Accredited organization to start with if you are interested in conservation. Read up on what they do and see if they fit you. Find out who is on Their Board of Directors, and check them out on Linkedin. Do you have any kind of connection to them? If so, reach out. If not, reach out! Open that dialogue, you’d be surprised to see where it takes you. If the Marine Mammal Center isn’t your cup of tea or you don’t know where to start, contact us!! We are here to help, and we know how to get you where you want to go.
Step 3: Get Involved
The Marine Mammal Center not only helps save our marine environment, but they also have a HUGE range of activities that you can do, from home, to get involved. This list ranges from becoming a member to taking an active part in their advocacy campaign. Because we know that the world only changes in community, this ability to get involved is one of our must-haves for accredited partner organizations. Just one of the reasons we love them.
You can see some of our other projects with them – like Conservation Composter! – or you can check out the whole gamut of involvement projects here. No matter what, you should send them an email and let them know that you want to be more involved with what they’re doing – they are worth your world-changing time!
Step 4: Step Up Your Game
Is all of this slightly intimidating? If so, contact us at Aina and we’ll help you down this path! As we’ve worked in this field for over 15 years, we know how daunting it can be. Believe us, we have few tricks up our sleeves to get you, as we like to call it, Living the Spark Life. We don’t want you to have to reinvent the wheel, because we’ve made all of the mistakes out there. We’d love to chat and shine light onto Your Spark.
Do you love this conservation project and want more action to take just like it? We have more fantastic conservation projects for you!
→Conservation Composter is the perfect project for all of your veggie scraps!
→Breathing Forests is a fantastic project for to help stop global warming. This is perfect for those with younger children and green thumbs.
→Powerful Pedals is a fantastic global climate change project for teenagers and workout fanatics.
And we have SO MANY MORE!! Be sure to check out all of our Crafting for Charity eBooks – they are a great one-stop-shop to help you find the perfect project for you.
GET CONNECTED TO AINA
Carmen Westbrook is the CEO and co-founder of Aina Giving, a female-led company that transforms women into world changers. Join the movement of DIY World Change and get our accredited projects, leadership coaching, and nonprofit consulting – Contact Us and tell us how you want to change the world. We’ll help you get there.