Here, There, and Everywhere: The Problem with Microplastics in Water and What Women Scientists are Doing to Solve It

Read all about it in wH2O, The Journal of Gender and Water, Volume 8 (2021) right here.

 

Posted in microplastics, plastics | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments

International Women’s Day — The Struggle is Real

International Women’s Day — The Struggle is Real

March is Women’s History Month in the U.S. and March 8th is International Women’s Day, a day whose roots stretch back to places across the globe beginning in the early part of the 20th century when the first such gathering was held on February 28, 1909 in NYC. Women took to the streets seeking basic civil rights such as the right to vote (check); better working conditions (check-lite); equal rights (working on it); and ending sex discrimination (very much still working on it), to name a few. We’ve been at it for awhile now, ladies, but hopefully it won’t take another 111+ years to get across the finish line.  Sadly, economists are now saying that Covid may set women back a decade or more.

Women already held more precarious positions in the work force — working fewer hours, for less money, with shorter tenures and in lower-ranking jobs than men. The loss of child care limited many working mothers’ hours and availability even further, meaning they were often the first to be selected for layoffs and unpaid leave, the report concluded. And it noted that many families appear to be deciding that if they need one parent to give up a job and prioritize child care, it should be the lower-paid parent — usually the mother.

A.Taub, Pandemic Will ‘Take Our Women 10 Years Back’ in the Workplace, The New York Times (9.26.20).

Despite over a century of growth in the right direction, the ill wind known as Covid may have blown us here again, but take heart ladies, as there is one thing that cannot be taken from you and that is your education — and what you intend to do with it.

No one knew that better than the Italian innovator, Maria Montessori, a physician and educator who helped the cause for women immensely when on January 6, 1907 she opened the Casa dei Bambini — the Children’s House — in San Lorenzo, an inner-city district in Rome, for children aged seven and younger. Originally a daycare center, Casa dei Bambini evolved into an education center that would ultimately change the landscape of and traditional thinking behind teaching by developing the “Montessori Method,” a practice of instruction that adapted each child’s individual learning style in creating their curriculum. By letting the child lead, learning came more naturally to each because it was paired with the child’s own inherent learning abilities, allowing children to pursue what interested them, leading to success. Add self-assessment and self-correction as integral parts of the learning curriculum and the result is self-driven, self-aware, and smarter students.

Born to parents that believed strongly in education, Montessori’s own childhood was filled with museums, libraries and other places of learning, and as young as 13, she was breaking down traditional barriers by enrolling in an all-boys technical institute to study engineering. She later switched to medicine and after some false starts, graduated from medical school in Rome in 1896 as one of the city’s first female doctors. Perhaps it was her interest in psychiatry that ultimately led to adopting a manner of teaching that spoke to each child’s cognitive abilities and spurred Montessori to travel extensively in support of the Montessori Method, drafting adherents to the cause wherever she went, or perhaps she was just a natural born visionary and teacher.

My own godmother was not only a Montessori teacher, but a pioneer in women-owned businesses. In the late 1970’s she started her own Montessori school and ran it for decades. I remember as a kid being in awe of her multitasking abilities, raising a family of three children with her husband, himself a principal at an elementary school, while simultaneously running a business teaching other people’s children a new way of learning, to my mind the pinnacle of success. As both a career woman and smart momma — e.g., prepping meals on weekends for the week ahead as a time-saving measure — she empowered other women by example and she did it all before it became de rigueur.

At the turn of the 20th century, hotels, brothels, taverns, retail shops, and other service-oriented trades were the mainstay of the women-owned business, but after WWII, women started more diverse businesses, growing the list from about 600,000 in 1945 to over 1 million in 1950. By the 1980’s, women owned 25% of all small businesses.
Today, that number has risen to 40% and climbing which translates to 12.3 million women-owned businesses.

International Women’s Day may have started a century ago, but we still have a big hill to climb. Until women have equal pay, are represented equally in congress, until there are just as many women entering the workforce in STEM careers as there are men, and — this is the kicker — until we no longer need the #MeToo movement to help put an end to sexual discrimination in the workplace, we will remain vigilant and proactive, paying it both back and forward to our mothers and our daughters, and one of these years, we will laugh as the ill-winds pass us by since they will no longer hold sway over us.

Celebrate International Women’s Day by thanking the women you love.

pam lazos 3.8.21

Posted in women-owned businesses | Tagged , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Happiest Child

HAPPIEST CHILD

“You’re only as unhappy as your unhappiest child,” my friend who has cancer says.

I believe her.  You have to accumulate a lot of stress and heartache to get cancer.  It’s easy enough to acquire.  A small bad habit, like eating too much sugar, something I’ve done since 5-ever, can morph into a full blown health issue after decades of abuse — despite my overindulgence, so far, I’ve managed to eat enough spinach, broccoli, and cauliflower to counteract all the bad that goes with a daily pocketful of M&M’s and any other chocolate crosses my path — and if you add the passive brain that perseverates over our daily lists of to-do’s and the lack of time to achieve them; the stress of not being able to make your loved ones’ lives the bed of roses that, as parents, we believe we should have planted for them; compounded with a world that has been behaving dizzyingly poorly since we crossed over into the new millennium (as the fever-pitch level of crazy this last year has proven); and faster than quicksilver you’ve fallen into a negative mental groove that could easily manifest into something unwanted without you ever having thought too much about it until one day, pop, the dis-ease has snuck up on you without notice or regard, a fresh daily hell.  Dosed up on that kind of grief, anger or worry, you are walking around unhinged like 20 out of 24 hours a day because even your dreams are addled.  That’s what a seriously unhappy child can do to you.  

All kids are unhappy at one time or other, but it’s the long-standing and life-altering unhappiness that is difficult to navigate, the kind that leaves parents hollowed out from worry and kids frozen by discontent. And whether it’s Covid-related or the stress of modern life or the world inflicting its current manic state upon our offspring, I don’t know, but I currently have several friends who are walking on hell’s coals with, by, or because of one of their children.  We humans are fragile bubbles of emotion, and when the life we are owed is upended by a series of accidents or unfortunate incidents masquerading as seemingly impossible barriers to the happiness we believe we deserve we go “tits up” which those of you in the military will recognize as Total Inability To Support Usual Performance — i.e., flat on our backs.

To have children is to commit to a lifetime of suffering. Their aches are your aches.  Their losses, your losses.  Their victories, only theirs, which somehow doesn’t seem fair but, hey, that’s the way it is.  If my parents had a nickel for every night I came home after curfew and promised not to do it again, or said “yes, Mom,” or “yes, Dad,” and did the exact opposite, or lied through my teeth so I wouldn’t miss the bonfire before the big football game or the fill-in-the-blank thingee, they would have been rich, I suppose, but what does the universe care of nickels?  The universe deals in Karma, and my own Karma has been to house kids who think nothing of curfews or communication as to the where’s, when’s and how’s, who often saw questions such as “what time will you be home” as an infringement on their personal freedoms.  Payback, like Karma, is a big fat bitch.

I remember the time when, still in high school, I cut the headlights and pulled into my parent’s driveway at 4 a.m. after a night out with friends.  The lights in the house were all off and I was home free — woohoo! — or so I thought, until I walked into the living room and saw the red ember of my father’s cigarette glowing in the dark.  I was supposed to be home at midnight.  There were no cellphones then, but there were pay phones and you could always ask to use the phone of whatever establishment or house you were in.  I wonder how many cigarettes my father smoked that night, waiting for me to come home, nervously pacing the floor, smoke, pace, smoke, pace.  So yes, for all those times I kept my dad waiting up in the dark with only a lit cigarette for company, I have been paying it back for years now, my only consolation being that my children will understand one day when their own karma kicks in.

Do you have a child that can vacillate between happy and unhappy from day to day, sometimes minute to minute? If you think the latter is some kind of poetic license, you’ve not been in close personal contact with today’s offspring.  The behavior of today’s offspring is enough to worry even the most robust of parents.  Then again, when I think back to my days at this age, I was probably more mercurial than most.  Karma?  Genetics?  Not enough sleep?  Too much stress?  It’s not like there’s any of that these days, right?  Too much sugar?  Is half the minor population ADD or ADHD and on adderall?  Is it the food?  Have pesticides finally done us in by changing the biology of an entire generation?

The joy and pain of every mother is the labor and the leaving; ten months of having that baby all to yourself and then they pop right out of you and into the world, no longer yours to control.  The joy and pain of every parent is watching that child grow to maturity and then walking right out the door where you can no longer hover about, making sure it all goes according to plan.  The joy and pain of every parent is watching your child become exactly who they are meant to be and not feeling personally responsible for getting them there and not taking it personally when they don’t achieve every last one of your dreams because — their life, their dreams.

You are only as happy as your unhappiest child.  The best we can do as parents then is to raise the happiest children we can.  Then maybe we, too, will have a shot at happiness.  That means letting them lead when life and opportunities warrant so they can test their own limits and abilities.  The trick is not to get hung up on the outcome either way. 

Good luck to all of us with that one.  I, for one, am going to need it.

It is International Women’s month.  Go thank a woman you love — give her a big hug while you’re at it.

pam lazos 3.6.21

Posted in pesticides, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 28 Comments

Plastic Bank

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PLASTIC BANK

Okay, since this is supposed to be a feel-good blog post, I’m not going to bury you in plastic statistics the way we are ourselves being buried in the real thing, but I will shed a dash of light on it by repeating a few plastics facts you may already be privy to:

  • In the 70 years since plastics entered the consumer market, almost 9 billion tons have been created, 92% of which was not recycled and still exists on the planet in some form;
  • two million single-use plastic bags are distributed worldwide every minute — that have an average working life of a mere 15 minutes — are distributed worldwide every minute;
  • the straw you got with your drink at lunch will live for hundreds of years in the ocean, and 500 million of them are used everyday in America alone, enough to circle the world twice ;
  • one million plastic bottles are purchased every minute and only about 30% of them will be recycled;
  • at our current rate of production, by 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish, much of it as microplastics which break down from the original due to photodegradation.

The point of repeating these stats is that we can’t cover our eyes any longer.  The overuse of plastics is a global problem that requires immediate attention.  Yes, yes, every telemarketer that ever calls and every advertisement you read says some version of the same thing — that you need to pay attention now or you’re going to miss out; that the sky is falling but you can avoid the avalanche if you just do this; that everything you ever worked for in your life is going to be wiped out if you don’t follow this — but here’s why this time, this warning is for real, maybe not for you right now, right this instant on this exact day, but definitely for your children and their children, and so on.

Why, you ask?

Because water is finite.  We have all we’re going to get.  And if we keep contaminating what we have with plastics and microplastics, it will eventually be game over for us humans.  Scientists have found that microplastics have crossed the placenta barrier, the beginning of a very slippery slope IMO.

So what’s next for the human race?  Technically, it’s our move.  Enter, the Plastics Bank which is revolutionizing plastics recycling by “build[ing] ethical recycling ecosystems in coastal communities, and reprocess[ing] the materials for reintroduction into the global manufacturing supply chain.”

But wait, there’s more.  “Collectors receive a premium for the materials they collect to better help them provide basic family necessities such as groceries, school tuition, and health insurance.”

And if that wasn’t enough:  “Collected material is reborn as Social Plastic® which is reintegrated into products and packaging. This creates a closed-loop supply chain while helping those who collect it.”

Want to know more about the Plastic Bank?  Go visit their website.

Let’s support that which supports all of us.

It’s the last Friday of the month.  Time to share your good news on the We Are the World Blogfest — #WATWB — a monthly good news trip around the world.  May we all be energized and rejuvenated by such news.  If you’re interested in joining our Blog Hop, the guidelines are as follows:

1. Keep your post to below 500 words;

2. Link to a human news story on the last Friday of each month that demonstrates love, kindness, humanity, support, open-mindedness, all the good stuff, but no proselytizing, preaching or inconsiderateness toward others;

3. Post on the last Friday of the month in sharing the good news.  No story is too big or small;

4. Place the WE ARE THE WORLD Badge on your sidebar and help spread the word on social media using the #WATWB hashtag;

5. Read and comment on others’ posts, play nice, and make friends;

6. To sign up, add your link to the WE ARE THE WORLD Linky List below.

This month’s cohosts are:

https://ericlahti.wordpress.comEric; https://www.godyears.net; http://shilpaagarg.com/; https://gardenofedenblog.com/; https://professorowlsbookcorner.com/.

If you want to share your good news of an uplifting story, follow this link to sign up here: https://bit.ly/3aSG3qL

Thanks for reading!

pam lazos 2.26.21

Posted in plastics, recycling, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 47 Comments

Amid Rage

My friend Joel Burcat is back with a new book, Amid Rage, released February 2, 2021, an environmental thriller about a crazy coal mine operator, an application for a mining permit, and the anti-mining neighbors who will fight as long as it takes to make sure the mine doesn’t get it.  Caught in the crossfire is environmental prosecutor, Mike Jacobs who just wants to do the right thing for the environment.  Who will win is anyone’s guess.  Central and Western Pennsylvania struggles mightily with its roots, especially as they relate to coal, and this story could have easily been ripped from the headlines, but Burcat’s character-driven telling is much more.  Drawing on his experience as an environmental lawyer for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Amid Rage is a tale running as deep and wide as acid mine drainage itself.

Amid Rage is Burcat’s second novel.  The first, Drink to Every Beast was released in 2019.  Go here to read my previous interview with Joel who has been practicing or thinking about practicing environmental law since 1974 — before it was even cool!

Joel and I had a zoom chat a few days ago before participating in the lunch and learn discussion this past Friday (2/19/21) for the Pennsylvania Bar Association Environmental and Energy Law Section.  The topic?   So you’re thinking about writing that novel? Lots of thoughts, ethical considerations, and practical advice.

I don’t usually get many questions about my writing from own work colleagues, so this was a delightful diversion, a back and forth Q&A where Joel and I asked each other questions about our writing, how we both came to be writers and environmental lawyers, where we would like to go with our writing, and whatever advice we could offer for others looking to get started?  Since Joel has a new book out, I thought I’d share some of his responses with you.

So, here we are again, Joel.  And if you’re like me, the biggest question you always get is – how do you find time to write?

 

Great question, Pam. When I was still practicing law, I only wrote after 8 or 9 pm. Fortunately, I had the stamina after a long day in the office to write until 11 pm or midnight (sometimes later) then get up the next morning and go to work. Because I had a day job I felt I could not work during the time I was supposed to be devoting to my law practice. As a result, I did all of my writing at night.

Now that I am retired (disabled, actually) I write from about 8 a.m. until lunch time (determined by my hunger). Then I work on the business of books in the afternoon. Sometimes I will write in the afternoon, too. Often I will write on Sundays, as well.

You’re busy and determined!  I am still working my writing into the interstices of my day, but aspire to someday have the same kind of writing schedule, Joel.  How do you initially settle on your characters and once you do, how do you come up with plot lines?

When I began writing my Mike Jacobs books, I was already familiar with main characters from many thrillers and legal thrillers. I have often read about main characters who had a superpower. Some are unusually big and strong, some have photographic memories, some have martial arts or military skills. I find such characters interesting, but not relatable. I wanted my main character and all the characters in my books to be relatable. I think readers will have an easier time seeing themselves, possibly, as Mike or one of my other characters. I’d like my readers to think, “I could do that.”

My plots are based on a combination of cases or scenarios I read about (mostly news articles and case law), snippets from my own life, stories people have told me, and pure fiction I make up. Even when a story is “ripped from the headlines” (as the cliché goes) I take huge license with the story and make it my own.

They say a good writing is all about good reading.  What are you reading these days and how does that affect and improve your writing?

I read on a 4-book cycle: 1) a thriller, so I stay current with my genre; 2) a Young Adult (YA) novel, since I am branching out into the world of YA; 3) a debut novel or a book written by one of my friends, so I see the exciting things newer writers are doing; and 4) non-fiction. The last four books I read were: 1) SKIN IN THE GAME, by D.P. Lyle; 2) AN EMBER IN THE ASHES, by Sabaa Tahir; 3) BLACKTOP WASTELAND, by S.A. Cosby; and 4) HOMO DEUS, by Yuval Noah Harari. Currently, I am reading ONE OF US IS LYING, by Karen M. McManus, a young adult thriller. Life is all about learning and growing. This is an enjoyable way of doing that.

That sounds like a great approach.  You found your niche in the legal thriller genre and added the environment which makes it even more specialized. Do you think you’ll ever write outside that genre or is it your superpower — and you thought you didn’t have one –so you’re just going to stick with it?

Since you mentioned it…I have written a third book in the Mike Jacobs series, STRANGE FIRE, an environmental legal thriller about fracking. However, the last book I completed was a gritty, post-pandemic dystopian young adult thriller, called LULLABIES AND OTHER LIES. Currently that books is being evaluated by publishers, so we will see. I am at work on an environmental thriller that is not a legal thriller. It is titled (at this moment), PROJECT ICE. It is set in 1988 and is about a 21-year-old law student who walks into and accidentally attends a secret strategy meeting of the energy industry in Washington DC. (Something like this actually happened to me when I was in law school.) The topic of the strategy meeting is how to put the brakes on all research on climate change and prevent the United States from participating in any international meetings on climate change. She gets caught up in exposing the effort at great personal sacrifice.

That sounds like something we would all be interested in reading.  How many more books do you think you have in you?

It took me seven weeks to write the first draft of STRANGE FIRE (after I became legally blind!). It took me less than one month to write the first draft of LULLABIES AND OTHER LIES. Granted, writing the second draft and the editing process takes a much longer time, but once I get started, I write quickly. If pressed, I probably could write three or four books a year (not a typo). Realistically, I think two books a year is do-able. I love writing, so I’m going to do this for as long as I am able to do so. Hopefully, that’s a lot of books.

Ambitious, yes, but also doable from your determinedness.  So tell me, how much of your writing depends on audience approval?  After all, no fans, no books sold.  Do you ever get  discouraged that you haven’t yet entered the “millions of copies sold” arena?  What tools do you use to keep going when you don’t get the massive success for which every writer longs?  Do you keep writing regardless?

Writing has to be an obsession. You can’t do it only between the end of football season and beginning of March Madness or after the Christmas season is over on Hallmark (is it every truly over?). You really need to be drawn in by it and want to do that more than any other activity. My training as a lawyer has helped. That allows me to spend nearly endless time at my desk writing when I wouldn’t mind doing something else. Also, I am really goal driven. If I want to write a certain number of words on a certain day or finish writing a chapter, I will force myself to do it. At the least, I will find something else I must do related to writing that is equally important.

Finally, I live by the Winston Churchill quote, “Never Give in. Never, never, never, never.” That is a good motto for writers!

Thanks for the opportunity to talk!

Joel Burcat
Feb. 15, 2021

Additional info should you want to buy a copy of Amid Rage or Drink to Every Beast, or reach out to Joel.

http://www.JoelBurcat.com

@JoelBurcat

https://www.amazon.com/author/joelburcat

717-215-0236

Thanks for reading!

pam lazos 2.21.21

 

Posted in book promotion, book release, books | Tagged , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Yes or No?

[eddies in ice © pam lazos]

While we wait for the men and women of the U.S. Senate, the world’s greatest deliberative body, to decide today whether the 45th POTUS incited an insurrection in our nation’s capitol on January 6, 2021 or, alternatively, to allow domestic terrorism to be our new normal — because isn’t the failure to impeach a vote for the latter?! — I leave you with this photo of eddies, frozen at the edge of the river while the maelstrom just below the surface, momentarily icebound, keeps time with the season — just like us.

And so we wait … .

pam lazos 1.17.21

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The Sue Vincent Rodeo Is Live

The Sue Vincent Rodeo is great fun for a great cause — propping up our bloggy friend and cohort, Sue Vincent in her time of need — but don’t take my word for it. I’ll let fellow author and blogger Geoff LePard tell you about it — although not in 99 words or less. Thanks for participating!

TanGental

Yes it’s here. it’s a lovely idea and it’s got a prize attached. Read on…

It’s time to saddle up and get in line, because the Sue Vincent Rodeo Classic is happening NOW at the Carrot Ranch! Writers will have the opportunity to support Sue Vincent, a stalwart center of our blogging community, as well as compete for a $100 prize! That’s right – we’re trying to make this the biggest writers’ Rodeo yet and celebrate Sue Vincent’s work and writing in the process. On the Rodeo Classic page, you can find a beautiful photo (from none other than Sue herself) to serve as a prompt. Write a story of 99 words or a poem of 99 syllables – no more, no less – based on the prompt photo on the Rodeo page. Also on the Rodeo page is an entry form where you can put up to two…

View original post 264 more words

Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments

WATWB — Getting Back to Normal?

 

I had hoped, probably somewhat naively, that with President Biden’s win in a free and fair election, we in the U.S. could get back to a more normal, less dramatic way of speaking, transacting, cooperating, and interacting with each other, that hate speech would go by the wayside, and that people would look upon each other fondly again as we all ditched our malicious and spiteful rhetoric for a bright new way, or at least a return to the old, less vitriolic way, a fresh start, as it were.  

As I said —  naive.

But that doesn’t mean I’ve given up hope for that sparkly future for America.  This is, after all, one of the greatest experiments in self-rule ever conducted and sometimes people lose faith in the political creed or fall into despair when the pendulum swings too far right or left and no longer makes sense to them.

Yet one thing we should all be able to agree on is that we will make no forward motion unless we all tone down the hate speech.  To that end, I offer you this brief by Madiha Afzal, a David M. Rubenstein Fellow — Foreign Policy, Center for Middle East Policy, Center for Security, Strategy, and Technology at Brookings.  The Brookings Institution is a non-profit think tank dedicated to independent research which addresses some of the world’s most pressing problems.

Twenty years after terrorists carried out the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. seems to be winning the war on terror abroad, but our own soil is a wholly different headache.  Like Ireland in the last third of the 20th century, America suddenly has homegrown terrorists of its own, something that many of us never saw coming, and it’s terrifying, especially when members of Congress are spewing their own hate speech.

Afzal argues that we need to restructure how we think about extremism and employ a top-down approach to combating it through education and the transferring of critical-thinking skills to combat the cultism that accompanies terrorism.  If the events of the last few months, culminating in the January 6, 2021 raid on the U.S. capitol, a raid spurred on by fake news and alternative facts — such as the totally erroneous claim that President Biden stole the election — have demonstrated anything, it’s that we have much more work to do at home.  

Reading Afzal’s brief is a start in that direction.  She proposes a global U.N. agreement, led by the U.S., in which countries design and roll out educational systems geared to fight extremism.  According to Afzal, “[t]he positive externalities of focusing on education would extend beyond their effect on extremism: This would also counter disinformation campaigns and the phenomenon of fake news, and the effect on attitudes could in turn have far-reaching effects on various forms of violence.”

For the sake of all, not just the U.S., but the world, we can’t push this any farther under the rug than we already have, otherwise, we’ll have to climb over the mountain of our own failures just to cross the living room.  Time to get smarter.

It’s the last Friday of the month.  Time to share your good news on the We Are the World Blogfest — #WATWB — a monthly good news trip around the world.  May we all be energized and rejuvenated by such news.  If you’re interested in joining our Blog Hop, the guidelines are as follows:

1. Keep your post to below 500 words;

2. Link to a human news story on the last Friday of each month that demonstrates love, kindness, humanity, support, open-mindedness, all the good stuff, but no proselytizing, preaching or inconsiderateness toward others;

3. Post on the last Friday of the month in sharing the good news.  No story is too big or small;

4. Place the WE ARE THE WORLD Badge on your sidebar and help spread the word on social media using the #WATWB hashtag;

5. Read and comment on others’ posts, play nice, and make friends;

6. To sign up, add your link to the WE ARE THE WORLD Linky List below.

Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list.  https://www.linkytools.com/basic_link_entry_form.aspx?id=277138

This month’s cohosts are:

SylviaMcGrath https://www.professorowlsbookcorner.wordpress.com/

Simon Falk https://simonfalk28.wordpress.com/

Shilpa Garg http://shilpaagarg.com/

Mary Giese https://maryjmelange.wordpress.com/

Belinda Witzenhausen https://bwitzenhausen.wordpress.com/

As always, thanks for reading.

pam lazos 1.29.21

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 25 Comments

Toilet: A Love Story

Toilet:  A Love Story

As comedies go, the lowly toilet has long been the brunt of many a comedic trope, potty humor being the universal go-to language when you need a sure thing.  We laugh at bathroom humor the same way we laugh when someone unexpectedly slips and falls.  We can’t help ourselves, chortling, snickering, and sinking into paroxysms of laughter if someone is clumsy enough to miss a step or a stair.  Perhaps it’s a universal acknowledgement of the collective embarrassment we all feel when publicly caught doing something stupid so we laugh because it feels better than crying.  The reaction starts from an early age when just whispering the word “fart” to a kindergartener can reduce them to giggles.  Flatulence is something everyone experiences from time-to-time, yet because we just don’t like to admit these things out loud the universal response is to laugh, and that’s for 5 and 50-year olds alike . 

Yet the cultural differences surrounding one’s toilette couldn’t be more divergent between the developed and developing worlds, and if you want to watch a comedic testament to this issue from the developing world, then watch Toilet, A Love Story, a 2017 comedic/drama directed by Shree Narayan Singh.  

India has a population of 1.37 billion people, approximately 71% of which have access to a toilet, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-46400678 yet despite the governments massive toilet building campaign which began in 2014, approximately 30% of the country still practices open defecation.  Approximately 90 million toilets have been built since the Indian government began this work, yet the  country still struggles, and not always for the reasons you may think.  

While India has been working hard to improve its water, sanitation and hygiene, or WASH, track record by eradicating open defecation, it has also received pushback from an unlikely place:  the religious sector.  As Toilet, A Love Story points out, many conservative religious groups believe that having a toilet in the house renders their home unclean, yet these same groups think nothing of having women arise before the sun, walk to the open fields to defecate as that’s how it’s always been done.  And it’s not just the men who think this way; the women do, too, even though there is much evidence that open defecation leads to increased violence against women.

Toilet, A Love Story takes a light-hearted approach to the intractable problem of lack of access to WASH and offers real solutions.  The movie is long, about 2.5 hours, and it’s in Hindi — a language spoken about twice as fast as a typical New Yorker — so the subtitles fly across the screen and sometimes it’s a little hard to keep up, but invest the time and you’ll be delighted you did, plus you’ll learn something in the process.

Toilet is available for streaming on Netflix and Youtube. 

pam lazos 1.17.21

Posted in access to sanitation, toilets, WASH | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Are you an EcoPreneur?

FAQs and Resources to Help You Become a Successful EcoPreneur

Here at Green Life Blue Water, I’m dedicated to promoting sustainable living and respect for the environment. That is why from time to time, I post information and services from like-minded folks, like this one from Mark Harris who is so very excited to help you on your way to becoming a successful EcoPreneur. Of course, you may have some questions before getting started and Mark has prepared a FAQ list that can help answer them and provide valuable resources in the process. 

Take it away, Mark:

What Is an EcoPreneur

You’ve heard of being an entrepreneur, but perhaps you’ve never heard the term “EcoPreneur.” Let the following resources and information explain this catchy label to you.

  • Successful EcoPreneurs look to establish businesses that help solve some of the most pressing issues impacting the environment. 
  • This is just one example of the different types of entrepreneurs who exist in business. 
  • Both Tesla and Lenovo are examples of corporations that promote this sustainability. 
  • If you need inspiration, check out Entrepreneur’s list of sustainable small business ideas. 

How Can I Start an EcoBusiness?

Now that you understand what makes an EcoPreneur different from other small business owners, let’s talk about ways to get your green business up and running.

  • You should always start with planning. Having a business plan will help keep you organized and can also help you secure funds for your startup. 
  • Think about ways your startup can solve pressing issues when writing your plan. 
  • Once you have a plan, you can set up an LLC for your business online. 
  • Depending on your business, you may want to look into green certification labels. 
  • Special funds may be available to help your eco-friendly business get started. 

How Do I Market a New Green Business? 

Marketing is critical for any new startup. This is what will connect you with those first customers and help grow your reputation as a leader in sustainability. These tips will help guide you. 

  • First of all, be aware of greenwashing. If you haven’t figured out sustainable practices for your new business, do not make this the focus of your branding and marketing efforts. 
  • You should create a strategic marketing plan to promote legitimate green practices.
  • Social media is going to be your safest bet for growing an audience for your business.  
  • Sustainability should also be highlighted on your website. Yes, you need a website. 

EcoPreneurship is such a responsible way to start a small business. Not only will you be empowering yourself with this new startup, but you will also be helping to resolve problems that are contributing to climate change and other environmental issues. In short, you will be helping to leave behind a better world for future generations. What a worthy pursuit! 

For more enlightening articles like this one, check in often with the Green Life Blue Water blog. 

Photo Credit: Pexels

Thanks so much, Mark, for sharing your wisdom.  Sound like good advice for all business, not just the sustainable ones, or perhaps it’s a way for all businesses to become sustainable!

pam lazos 1.10.21

Posted in Sustainability, sustainable business practices, sustainable cities | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments