Nature and Environment
News about the health and beauty of the natural world that sustains us.

The Be the Change Project’s Top Tips for Regenerative Living #4 Compost & Soil Building


Katy making a Biodynamic compost pile in our backyard with restaurant scraps, coffee, straw, and amendments.

This is the fourth installment of my series on tips for regenerative living. Our goals are to improve the environment around us while nurturing closer connections to home and community.  Each tip requires a little more energy and a little more chutzpah to make happen but, hey, it’s worth it.   Part 1. Part 2. Part 3.

Of all there is to do in our backyards (actual or figurative), I can’t think of any other process that is as blatantly regenerative as improving soil.  And, at the heart of soil building is composting.  As things are now, most of our country’s organic waste winds up in the landfill.  This is a no-no.  Once there it decomposes anaerobically giving off methane gas while creating a toxic leachate that can foul groundwater.  Instead, we can transmute our food and yard scraps into nourishing compost that gets nutrients to plants, holds and filters groundwater, creates habitat for critters, sequesters carbon in the soil...and so on.  It’s modern day alchemy - the transformation of lesser materials into veritable gold.  There’s serious science to composting, of course, but it’s also just not that hard to do.  Go online (, for example) or grab a book from the library to get the basics and get started.  Regenerative living takes some effort so set up a composting system that works with your life so it becomes part of what you do and who you are.

NOTE: You may be thinking that composting is not so hard, not so radical, and you’re right!  But how many of us don’t do it?  And, if you do, how can you do it with more impact on multiple levels (what’s called “stacking functions” in Permaculture parlance)?

We’ve been composting at our BTC homestead since day one and we were far from experts when we started.  However, we learned by doing and by getting advice from friends.  We got so into composting that we eventually launched two successful composting businesses:  the Reno Rot Riders (Reno’s first compost collection service) and Wormtopia (vermicomposting at a larger scale).  Both of them have helped increase composting awareness in town, developed composting advocates, and actually composted tons and tons of material that have improved soils and grown plants all around Reno. 

So, in addition to composting for yourself or signing up with a compost collection service here’s some bigger actions to take if your city’s behind the times and needs some role models like you:

Involve your friends and neighbors.  If you have the space, or someone in your ‘hood does, make a drop-off spot to get more people and bigger piles in action.  Leaves, food, grass clippings...This may not be legal but do it anyway and be sure to keep it clean and perty.   

“What are you in for?”


And they all moved away from me on the bench there, with the hairy eyeball (“Alice’s Restaurant” lyrics, mostly)

Host several green waste days to collect large quantities of organic matter.  Pick a day, tell your friends and neighbors, get a dumpster dropped off, charge a little fee, and fill it with green waste (leaves and grass clippings) to be brought to a nearby composter.  Look to local orgs for allies.

Start a collection business.  From small to large there are successful examples out there   (check out the Institute for Local Self Reliance’s Community Composting site). There are opportunities with restaurants or cafes (trade for meals or espressos), events (both public and private), residential (a kid on a bike in your ‘hood). 

Teach.  Once you know what you’re doing, mainly, offer some classes to share the knowledge.

Importantly, measure your success by both how much you collect & compost and by the connections that result from your efforts. That is regenerative living on multiple levels.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

The Be the Change Project’s Top Tips for Regenerative Living #3 Health and Health Care


This is my third entry in our series, Top Tips for Regenerative Living where we take a deeper dive into what we can do and how we can be to live better for ourselves and the planet.  Each “tip” includes what we’ve learned from our lives with our Be the Change Project, background info giving some of the bigger picture, and usually a suggested stretch or two to help guide changemakers. Tip one. Tip two.

Health and health care are biggies for regenerative living.  Like the biosphere around us, when we’re ill things start to break down.  And there’s serious economic costs, too: health costs average $4,800/year per household and represent 18% of our overall GDP.  So what is our role on a personal level within this big system that helps us live more connected and regenerative lives?

When I present about our lives and work (which includes voluntary poverty, simple living…) people often ask how we navigate health care.  What they usually mean, though, is how do we pay for health insurance.  The short answer is that we don’t; we’re poor so we’re on Medicaid and Medicaid is just about free.  The longer answer, and what I share in detail, is a more holistic approach to healthier lives, communities, and ecosystems.  During the conversation I am also sure to point out that we take our health very seriously and that we are grateful to receive health care as needed.  It is a gift and one we’d like everyone to receive through Universal Health Care, Medicaid for All...whatever we choose to call it.  For us, it’s a human right that‘s encompassed by “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”  

Here are some examples of our Be the Change Project health care program:

Low-stress: We are, in large part, spending our time doing what we want to do and what we feel called to do.  Of course we’re still raising children, married, engaging with friends and neighbors in America in the 21st century, but we’re hardly jobbing and our immediate needs - shelter, food, water and warmth - are covered. 

Good Diet: We raise and eat a significant percentage of our own food.  It is all grown organically and our animals are raised with a lot of love and space.  Seasonal and fresh eating is the norm be it with hearty greens through the winter, apples in the fall, cherries in the summer, eggs potatoes, onions, garlic...all year from the root cellar. 

Beauty: What if every object in our lives was both beautiful and useful?  Now, we’re not there yet but we have made progress through the years and that’s been a function of how well we’ve gotten our systems to run and how much time that has allowed us to practice beautification. 

Flowers and plants, design of our space, natural materials, old and reused materials all contribute to good vibes on our property where we spend most of our time.  Along with the physical representation of beautiful objects, there is also the great satisfaction of making a beautiful thing and using it in our daily lives.  A good example of this is our cob oven which we built over a couple workshops with good people and then finished with a tadelakt plaster. It is so well-shaped and the finish is so lustrous that I can’t pass by it without running a hand over it or outright laying atop it.  And, we use it for pizza parties - gatherings with friends and music around fresh-cooked food.  Beauty and function.  Amen!

Sunshine and Fresh Air: We’re outside a lot!

Abundant Sleep: I wake up about 20 minutes before sunrise every day throughout the year no matter what the season.  I get tired when it gets dark and go to bed early.  I sleep a lot in the winter.  In short, we live with our natural circadian rhythms. 

Community: We have a wide and diverse community of people who love, or a least like us.  Throughout our week we get to engage with people on different levels as neighbors, friends, family, collaborators, and even strangers.  

Leisure time: Every Sunday I play basketball with a great group of guys.  Most nights with my family we’ll play a game or read aloud.  Often we have potlucks, get-togethers, sing-alongs.  And, we are able to travel, often for extended periods of time, to see friends, to work, to explore, to learn. 

Craft & Mastery: I am learning and improving at my crafts year-by-year.  My passion is natural building.

Fitness: I walk, hike, play ball, and work out multiple times a week. 

Creativity: This is happening all the time with our projects, building, art, writing and organizing. 

We also share a lot of what we grow and about how we live which sends ripples of wellbeing further into the world maybe helping others live healthier lives.  Our healthy land, too, sends its own ripples to passersby and the broader ecosystem. Altogether, a pretty amazing health plan. 

By this time, as you might imagine, the conversation about health care has moved beyond  health insurance.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

West Paw: A Pet Products Company Helping The Environment

Plastics polluting the oceans are a common sight on news outlets these days. Plastic water bottles seem to be one of the biggest culprits. I’m constantly looking for ways to reverse the damage done by plastic. During research I conducted on The Heathman Hotel in Portland Oregon for a story on pet-friendly travel; I stumbled across West Paw. Here’s what a Heathman press release said that caught my attention:

As believers in the luxury of a good night’s sleep, when travelers check into any of Provenance Hotels’ eight properties with a furry family member in tow, they will find their room equipped with a plush dog toy and an Eco Nap pet bed produced by West Paw Design. Created using recycled plastic bottles and eco-friendly materials, these lightweight sustainably produced pet mats make for dreamy travel beds, perfect for adding comfort to travel carriers or positioned bedside in a guestroom.

Sophie in bed

Author's dog Sophie loves her West Paw bed.

Intrigued, I looked up West Paw online and read their Who We Are page. When I saw that they have recycled over 15 million plastic bottles to make toys and beds I was sold. I purchased a bed and toy from their website immediately. My dog Sophie loves her West Paw bed and we take on all our road trips. It seems Sophie is able to relax at a strange home for the night when she has her own bed. With over 300 million pets in the U.S.A. just think of how many plastic water bottles would get re-used if half of those pet owners bought a pet bed made from recycled plastics!

There’s a growing concern for our world’s use of single-use plastics and many of us are looking for ways to do our part. We reduce, re-use, and recycle what we can to help. What we need is more companies manufacturing goods from recycled plastics that consumer’s desire.

Digging deeper I fired off several questions for West Paw’s CEO and President, Spencer Williams to share with Mother Earth News readers. Here’s what West Paw’s Amy Schumann said Spencer had to say about my questions and concerns.

When did Spencer decide to use recycled plastics in dog beds and toys and why?

Spencer Williams bought a small pet toy company in 1996. A 5th generation Montana, Spencer grew up on a ranch in Montana and was determined to take care of the place he called home.  One way he knew he could take care of this land he loved was to manufacture pet products in a sustainable manner, and source environmentally friendly materials that could help lessen the company's carbon footprint.  This desire to do the right thing solidified West Paw's leadership role in the "green" movement among pet product manufacturers.

 One way Spencer went about sourcing environmentally responsible materials, e.g., recycled plastic, was utilizing technologies and materials that were already in existence but not used in the pet industry. After seeing a pair of recycled plastic Birkenstock socks in a shoe store in Bozeman, Montana, Spencer was curious how recycled plastic could be turned into clothing. Spencer followed the trail to find the supplier, and West Paw is happy to report they have been using this type of recycled plastic fill in their eco-friendly pet beds and toys ever since. To date, West Paw has kept over 15 million plastic bottles out of the landfill, a huge point of pride for their 70+ employees.

How hard was it to fund the startup of the company?

Spencer purchased a small cut and sew pet toy company and with a small team turned that company into what is now known as West Paw, a world-class manufacturer that sells in over 35 international markets.

Why Montana when it's so much cheaper to manufacture outside the US?

West Paw is about attracting and keeping exceptional local talent that makes our unique company culture thrive. Bozeman, Montana is a tight-knit mountain community with a commitment to sustainable growth and land conservation. As a fifth-generation Montanan, Spencer was serious about putting down roots in Bozeman and investing in people, especially those with a Montana work ethic. As a community, Bozeman gives our employees and their families a healthy place to grow and it’s full of pet lovers who have helped West Paw test the durability of their toys and the comfort of their beds. West Paw has made pet products in this special place for over 20 years, and because of these reasons, they have no plans to leave.

Was there ever a concern of toxicity using recycled plastic?

Never. West Paw's eco-friendly recycled fabric, fill and batting has all been tested for safety by a third-party international certifier, Oeko-Tex. This is the same company that tests the safety of the fabrics used in children's toys and baby carriers. After all, pets are our family and we take their safety seriously.

What has the growth of the company been like from day one?

Over our past 22 years, West Paw has experienced steady growth with a few bumps in the road. We've been lucky enough to have operated in Montana since 1996 and luckily the vast majority of those years have seen financial growth. Since 2012, we have practice Open Book Management (OBM) to keep our employees knowledgeable about the company's financial health. We have discovered that practicing OBM increases employee involvement in day-to-day decisions which results in more buy-in. As a result, most years West Paw has experienced growth and offered more jobs to people in their community.  

What eco-friendly practices does West Paw engage in other than making products from recycled plastics?

Wet Paw uses eco-friendly hemp in our leashes and collars. Hemp is an incredible agriculture product as it does not require much water and grows extremely fast. It is strong, so great for collars and leashes and soft to the touch (for both humans and dogs). We also use excess materials from our Montana Naps to make our Montana plush toys.  By cutting materials smartly, we reduce the amount of scrap material that goes into the landfill. 

West Paw lessens their environmental impact by using technology that allows them to greatly reduce paper usage, they have seen a 600-lb. reduction in paper. West Paw installed LED lights that will result in a 60% reduction of energy over the prior metal halide light fixtures. Additionally, they redesigned their product packaging to use 25% less material than their previous packaging. 

In 2017 alone over 1,480 pounds of post-consumer Zogoflex® were recycled. (Through their Join the Loop® recycling program West Paw has recycled over 6,600 pounds of Zogoflex material back into our Zogoflex toys since 2014.)

What future products might be in the works?

West Paw is looking forward to diversifying their product offerings. In 2018, West Paw introduced our first collection of leashes and collars and in 2019 we have more exciting news that we look forward to sharing with our consumers and retail partners in the near future. 

What Can You Do ?

Find manufacturers that sell products made from recycled plastics.
Come up with your own idea to form a company making useful goods from recycled materials.
Reduce, reuse, and recycle.
Buy beverages in aluminum or glass containers instead of plastic when possible.

I hope Mother Earth News readers find their own solutions for re-using the glut of single-use plastics. Maybe there’s an untapped business opportunity that’s as good as West Paw for you to develop and make our planet cleaner and safer. I remain hopeful we will fix this problem before it’s too late.

Sophie and author at the top of Independence Pass Colorado

Sophie and author at the top of Independence Pass on Colorado road trip.

Kurt Jacobson writes about travel, food, wine, organic gardening, and most anything else from his varied professional life. His articles appear in Alaska Magazine, Fish Alaska Magazine, Metropolis Japan Magazine, Edible Delmarva Magazine, North West Travel and Life Magazine, and Mother Earth News. Kurt lives in the Baltimore, MD area with his wife, dog and cats. Kurt’s articles also appear on several websites like:GoNomad.comTrip101.comMotherEarthNews.comAdventuresstraveler.comand several others. Kurt is a regular contributor to writing about Alaska, Colorado, New Zealand, Japan, and the Mid-Atlantic areas.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

The Be the Change Project’s Top Tips for Regenerative Living #2 Greywater


This is the second installment of our Be the Change Project’s tips for regenerative living. Here is the first.  We’re out to restore and improve the environment while also improving our quality of life through closer connections to people, place, and purpose.

What comes up in your mind when you hear the word “greywater”?  Several years ago before we lived with greywater systems at several places across the country I would have pictured some fancy system of pipes and filters, probably a storage tank, maybe even a pond with cattails and some fish.  It would probably involve some expensive gizmos, maybe a pump, too, that had to be found online and was made in China.  But what did I know then?  Very little.

Creating and maintaining a greywater system is easy to do. Don’t let the word, “system” scare you, though, because a system is just a solution with multiple parts.  Sure, a big system like health care can quickly become complex but we’re just talking about dribbling your water into your backyard.  A hole in the wall, a couple pipes, and a hole in the ground (technically called a “mulch basin”) are the basics.  There is a strange tendency in people to complicate systems so consider yourself warned as you start your research.  And, fine, depending on your home’s foundation or your living circumstances you may need a pump or a bucket or a hose or some other stuff made in China but that’s OK.  Just remember that in most cases simple is the rule and learning (read: mistakes) will happen along your journey. 

Check the laws, too. I’m pretty sure every system I’ve lived with was not code-approved, God help us, but every system worked and served a higher purpose.   

Having a greywater system is, to be clear, another responsibility.  In terms of effort it falls somewhere between owning a cat and having a pet rock: not much but it’s there.  We have to remember that we can’t expect meaningful connections to nature and place to just happen around our conventional toxic homes in cities or suburbia without some conscious input.  A walk on a lovely beach and Bam! you’re in the moment with the cosmos. My backyard that backs up to a busy road with crummy condos perched above our doings?  Not so much.  Connection and regenerative living takes a little something.  But, this responsibility is a good thing because what living with greywater does is create a positive feedback loop that impacts what we buy, what we throw “away” and how we live. One has to be a grown up and change their habits to do right by greywater.  Follow along with me as I wax poetic about our own Greywater experience to see what I mean:

Since day one of BTC when we first started fixing up our wreck of a home, we’ve been routing all of our sink, shower, and wash water into a wood chip mulch basin in our backyard.  Choosing greywater started a feedback loop that caused us to stop buying nasty cleaners and soaps because if we put those down the sink in an attempt to throw them “away” they would now go into our backyard.  Yuck!  So one choice impacts another.  And if we’re not buying nasty soap then maybe we’re supporting a smaller company that makes greywater-safe soap that is also trying to be the change.  Loops...

And, then, with this water in our backyard, how about we plant some berry bushes there and tomatoes in the summer and maybe earth worms show up by the thousands and help feed our chickens which give us more nutritious eggs and happier hens.  And then those wood chips break down over a year or so and become mulch for our trees making better soils that support more carbon sequestration and hold water which in turn reduces our irrigation needs while providing more habitat for bugs and birds.  Loops...

Next, milkweed shows up in our basin, too.  Milkweed; with it’s pods of fluff that burst open and send their seeds on the wind hoping to find a spot just wet enough to take root and grow and thrive.  Milkweed; on which monarch butterflies lay their eggs and which is the exclusive food for their caterpillars.  Monarchs, amazing monarchs, who, over several generations in each season, migrate thousands of miles north and south and who are now threatened due to habitat loss.  Monarchs which now call our yard home for their young.

And every person who tours our place learns this and, if the season is right, might even see a majestic and beautiful and bold black-orange-white monarch flitting about during that tour.  And our youngest son is sure to find us everytime he sees a monarch because he too knows they’re special even though he may not realize, yet, that they’re here because we drilled a hole in our wall and ran a pipe into a pit.  One choice became a system, became an example, became an inspiration that has led others to drill holes in their walls and await the milkweed and the monarch.

Make a bold and beautiful statement yourself and get that greywater going. 

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Top Tips for Regenerative Living, Part 1


For the next several months I am going to share some of our Be the Change Project’s top tips for regenerative living taken from our eight years of trying to walk our walk.

(For some background on us, read some of my other blog entries or check out our website.)

Our lives are greatly influenced by Permaculture and Gandhian Integral Nonviolence resulting in a blend of greener living with attention to issues of social justice.  We aim to be good friends and neighbors while improving the land and living a good life. It’s a high bar but we do pretty good with it...mostly. 

My goal with this series is to share the edgier, more challenging, and frankly more uncomfortable elements of being the change.  Recycling is fantastic. Changing your lightbulbs is great.  Let’s rejoice with a collective pat on the back for about two seconds and then dig deeper. I want to help foment structural changes that lead to the creation of a more just and abundant world.  I feel this starts with each of us and radiates out to our land, our neighborhood, our city, and beyond.  Lest you believe that your individual actions have no impact, think again.  Check out Erica Chenoweth’s research and her 3.5% rule for social change.  Here’s a sample:

In fact, no campaigns [for nonviolent social change] failed once they’d achieved the active and sustained participation of just 3.5% of the population—and lots of them succeeded with far less than that.

Her work gives me hope and I hope you’ll read on to see our take for making that a reality.

#1. Electricity-Free Living

I’m starting with Electricity-Free Living but the order of tips has less to do with impact than with what I am in the mood to write about. 

Turn on a light switch and magic happens.  We’ve vanquished darkness, kept predators at bay through the night, and can see what color our socks are in our closet in the morning.  Amazing!  But what does it take to bring that light to our sock drawer?  In Nevada, over 50% of our electricity still comes from the burning of coal.  Soooo 18th century. And if it’s not burnt coal, that light is still likely connected to a giant, extraction-based company that’s run by billionaires who work against environmental rules and put profits over people.  And then there’s the materials themselves - metals, glass, plastics, and so on that deliver the energy - which are mined (big holes in the ground made by big corporations), processed, moved around the planet burning more fuels, blah, blah, blah, same old globalism story. 

And, two more things: one, those lights keep us out of sync with the seasons and wreak havoc with our circadian rhythms.  Think of that: with electric lights on all the time we’re forcing our bodies to ignore the sun. To ignore the Sun!  Who does that?  Who, in the history of human existence has ever done that? Hubris out the wazoo. Second, more lights = more stuff = more shit from China or some other sweatshoppy-place run by a multinational that’s conveniently outsourced US pollution and treats the earth and people like dung. 

OK, so what can one do besides give up and watch more adorable cat videos?  Big action would mean calling up the power company and cutting the cord, totally.  That’s a big leap and big leaps are necessary but not if they lead to abject failure.  It’s what we’ve done but it took several years of baby steps with lots of mentorship and experimentation.  So start smaller but continue to hold the bigger vision. 

Here’s two actions:

1. Remove some light switches and plugs in a room or two.  That’s right, get the screwdriver and either uninstall them or seriously cover them up.  Call it a sanctuary in your home but do whatever it takes to get willpower out of the picture to make structural changes that are habit-forming. 

2. Turn the power off for a month.  That’s easy enough to do: just call the power company and say you’re going out of town.  See how fast your rhythms adjust, how well you sleep, how good your lover looks in candlelight.  Dang! how great you look in candlelight.  Have parties all month to share the fun with your peeps.  Guaranteed you’ll learn tons, inspire the hell out of people along the way, and end the month with warm fuzzy feelings of self-righteousness.     

Go ahead, do it!  Dooooo it!  You’ve got the power.

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The Indonesian Rainforest Needs Earth Law Rights in Response to Palm Oil

By fabrizio frigeni from unsplash

Photo by Fabrizio Frigeni on Unsplash

What if Earth Law could help strengthen the protection of natural habitats critical to the orangutan, and other animals, survival?

Bornean, Sumatran and Tapanuli orangutan face extinction due to habitat destruction, illegal hunting, and animal trading. Upwards of 80% of Orangutan’s habitat has been lost in the last 20 years

Palm oil factory wikimedia commons

Palm Oil Factory from Wikimedia Commons

For consumers, palm oil is nearly impossible to avoid completely. Over half of products in the US contain palm oil including shampoos, instant noodles, packaged bread, lipsticks, soap, and detergent. Most of the world’s palm oil comes from Malaysia (43%) and Indonesia (44%). Indonesia also happens to contain a richly biodiverse rainforest – matched only by the Amazonian ecosystem.

Palm oil plantations require bulldozing or burning large tracts of rainforest. More than a quarter of Indonesia's forests has disappeared since 1990. Extensive clearing also releases carbon dioxide stored in trees. Indonesia has become the fifth highest emitter of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses due to these practices.

Humans suffer, too. Palm oil has been identified as one of the most common sources of forced work and child labor in the world, by the United States Department of Labor. ELC’s Co-Violations Report also found patterns of labor abuse in the palm oil industry

A solution: Rights for the Indonesian Rainforest could mean

It turns out that the $40 billion-dollar palm oil industry which is often singled out as the culprit for rainforest and orangutan habitat destruction, may, in fact, be the most environmentally friendly oil option. No other oil can yield even a third as much as palm oil per acre planted. Palm oil also uses significantly fewer pesticides and chemical fertilizers than coconut, corn or any other vegetable oil source.

So, it’s not the palm oil plant per se, but rather where it is being planted. Helping save the orangutans may mean planting on already-deforested land. Earth Law is the other part of the solution – recognizing rights of the rainforest to strengthen the protection of ecosystems and species

Governance and management plans which recognized the rainforest’s right to exist, thrive and evolve would also support a healthy ecosystem while preserving and restoring biodiversity. Colombia leads the way, recognizing rights for the Amazon Rainforest in 2018. A group of young human rights advocates sued the Colombian government in an effort for their right to exist within a healthy ecosystem and environment. 

Te Urewera National Park in New Zealand also gained legal rights recognition. The Maori presented the case to preserve the region's ecosystem and their land. This decision allows violations against the land to be brought to the courts and protected through legal channels. This case can set an example for the Indonesian case, involving the protection of both nature’s rights and human rights

Both these cases show that rights provided to the ecosystem can protect all life within that habitat. Legal rights for the Indonesian Rainforest would protect from deforestation, protect the population from land grabs and intentional wildfires, protect the workers from illegal and unsafe working conditions, and protect the animals and plants from endangerment and unhealthy habitat conditions.

ELC works to provide the earth with legal support and legally recognized rights. We work to create laws and protections that recognize the rights of nature.

If you’re interested in the environment, consider:

1. Donating to ELC

2. Signing up to volunteer at ELC.

3. Staying informed by signing up for ELC’s newsletter.

4. Connecting with ELC on social media.



Darlene May Lee is Executive Director of Earth Law Center, which works to transform the law to recognize and protect nature’s inherent rights to exist, thrive and evolve. She works to build a force of advocates for nature's rights at the local, state, national, and international levels. Connect with Earth Law Center on TwitterFacebookand LinkedIn. Read all of Darlene’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Thank You to Volunteers Everywhere!

By Martin Permantier from

Source: by Martin Permantier

Volunteers enable many charitable nonprofits to get their work done. A recent survey by the US Department of Labor shows that about one-quarter of Americans, or 25 percent, take the time to volunteer

The Independent Sector, an organization that gathers tons of statistics about charitable activities, places an Estimated National Value of Each Volunteer Hour every year. That value stands, as of 2017, at $24.69 an hour on average.

Donating one’s time and energy can have a positive effect on health. Volunteering can also be a great way to gain experience for recent graduates or for experienced professionals planning on a career shift. Sometimes volunteering helps define educational goals and volunteers go on to law or graduate school.

At Earth Law Center (ELC), volunteers contribute in many ways. Some help research & write legal documents to marketing communications, others focus on improving the user experience of our website and managing ELC’s digital marketing and paid search projects. Like most nonprofits, all of ELC’s board members are also volunteers.

By rawpixel from

Source: By rawpixel

This year, over 200 people have signed up to volunteer with Earth Law Center – including interns and externs. The interns and externs mostly hail from law schools. ELC was also named a “2018 Top-Rated Nonprofit” by Great Nonprofits, the leading provider of user reviews of charities and nonprofits based on reviews from volunteers, donors and aid recipients.

Regarding her experience with Earth Law Center, Nikita T. says, “It has been an absolute pleasure working with the Earth Law Center. The organization works tirelessly for the causes they believe in and have a remarkable network throughout the world.”

Volunteer Kailee K. states, “As part of the digital marketing team, I get the opportunity to work with talented, smart, and kind individuals who are all willing to donate their time to help this organization reach a boarder audience. There’s a great sense of community within the team even though we all work from different corners of the globe. If you’re interested in supporting a great nonprofit who is working to secure rights for nature and take on environmental challenges, be sure to check out ELC.”

Thanks to our team of dedicated board, staff, volunteers and interns - we are proud to have helped draft and pass an Earth Law Resolution in Crestone, Colorado and Rights of River legislation in Mexico City this year.

Won’t you consider volunteering for an organization you care about today?

If you’re interested in the environment, consider:

Donating to ELC

Signing up to volunteer at ELC.

Staying informed by signing up for ELC’s newsletter. )

Connecting with ELC on social media: Facebook; Twitter

By Eberhard Grossgasteiger from

Source:by eberhard grossgasteiger

Darlene May Lee is Executive Director of Earth Law Center, which works to transform the law to recognize and protect nature’s inherent rights to exist, thrive and evolve. She works to build a force of advocates for nature's rights at the local, state, national, and international levels. Connect with Earth Law Center on TwitterFacebookand LinkedIn. Read all of Darlene’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

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