Humane Education Tip of the Month
We can all live a more humane life. Here are some tips for getting started.
Growing a Backyard Garden
Last month’s Humane Tip focused on having a sit spot, which is a practice you can use to cultivate humane attitudes. This month, we’re exploring a similar practice: growing a backyard garden. Like having a sit spot, growing a backyard garden can increase your sense of connectedness to nature. It can also teach you skills you can use to have even more of a positive impact on animals and the environment.
In Michigan, March is too early to plant most seeds outside, but it is the right time to start preparing to plant them. According to MSU Extension (2016), you can start planning a backyard garden before the temperature rises and the soil thaws by:
- Sketching your garden. What plants would you like to grow, and how much space and sunlight will they need? Different plants have different needs, so it is important to know what their needs are and whether you will be able to meet them.
- Getting seeds and other supplies. You can purchase seeds and other supplies from several sources, including local farm supply stores or nurseries and online; you can also get them for free by borrowing them from a local seed library and then returning seeds from the plants you have grown at the end of the season.
For a more detailed garden planning calendar, use the one Michigan State University created as your guide: https://www.canr.msu.edu/resources/garden_planning_calendar.
If you cannot wait to start planting, you can also start pepper, eggplant and tomato seeds indoors in mid-March and transplant them when the temperature rises. You can even plant cool season seeds outdoors as early as late March.
This month, start preparing to grow a backyard garden. As you do, reflect on the impact it has on you, other animals and the environment.
Brown, D. (2017, March 14). Time to start vegetable garden seeds. MSU Extension. https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/time_to_start_vegetable_garden_seeds
Krans, R. (2015, March 20). “Cool” vegetables for you to grow this spring. MSU Extension. https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/cool_vegetables_for_you_to_grow_this_spring
MSU Extension. (2016, August 11). Garden planning calendar. MSU Extension. https://www.canr.msu.edu/resources/garden_planning_calendar
Having a Sit Spot
A primary aim of humane education is to help people become humane citizens who help other animals and the environment. The foundation of humane citizenship is having humane attitudes like reverence, respect and responsibility. This month’s Humane Tip focuses on a practice you can use to cultivate such attitudes: having a sit spot.
In their Coyote’s Guide to Connecting with Nature, Young, Haas, and McGown (2016) describe the practice of having a sit spot as follows:
Find one place in your natural world that you visit all the time and get to know it as your best friend. Let this be the place where you learn to sit still—alone, often, and quietly—before you playfully explore beyond. This will become your place of intimate connection with nature. (p. 36)
They list having a sit spot as one of their core routines.
To make having a sit spot one of your own practices, complete the following steps:
- Find a sit spot. To find a sit spot, think of a place where you can comfortably and safely observe animals and the environment. Possible sit spots include a nearby forest, a local park or even your backyard. The most important characteristic of a sit spot is that you are able to return to it on a regular basis.
- Connect with your sit spot. To connect with your sit spot, use your senses to observe it for at least fifteen minutes. What can you see, hear, smell and touch, and what patterns do you notice? After a few minutes, you may start to feel bored. This response is common, but it does not last for long. If you feel bored, challenge yourself to continue observing. You will likely notice something that captures your attention.
- Return to your sit spot. If possible, return to your sit spot at least several days per week. When you return to it, consider how it has stayed the same and how it has changed. The more regularly you return to it, the deeper your connection with it will become.
This month, make having a sit spot one of your own practices. As you do, reflect on how it influences your sense of connectedness to nature and other humane attitudes.
Reference: Young, J., Haas, E., & McGown, E. (2016). Coyote’s guide to connecting with nature (2nd ed.). Santa Cruz, CA: OWLink Media Corporation.
The Solutionary Process
Last month, the Institute for Humane Education (IHE) published an exciting book called The Solutionary Guidebook. As its name suggests, the book is a guide to being a solutionary; that is,
Someone who makes compassionate and responsible choices; identifies unsustainable, inhumane, and unjust systems; brings critical, systems, strategic, and creative thinking to bear on solving problems; [and] develops systems-based solutions that do the most good and least harm to people, animals, and the environment. (IHE, 2019, p. 4)
A key part of being a solutionary is following a 14-step process for solving problems that affect people, animals and the environment. For a full description of the process, you can download and read the book at https://humaneeducation.org/solutionary-guidebook/
To get a glimpse of how the solutionary process can help you as a humane educator, consider one of the steps: “Determine which solutions are the most solutionary, and most feasible for implementation” (IHE, 2019, p. 65). When you take action to help animals and the environment, how effective are your actions? According to IHE, you can determine how effective an action is by answering two questions about it. First, does it “address root and/or systemic causes” (IHE, 2019, p. 65)? Some well-meaning actions only fix a problem’s symptoms. To be most effective, an action must also address the problem’s causes. Second, does the action “strive not to produce unintended negative consequences to people, animals, or the environment” (IHE, 2019, p. 65)? Some well-intended actions can unintentionally cause harm. To be most effective, an action must strive not to produce such consequences.
As you take action to help animals and the environment this month try to be as effective as possible. Also, download and read The Solutionary Guidebook!
Reference: Institute for Humane Education. (2019). The solutionary guidebook. Retrieved from https://humaneeducation.org/solutionary-guidebook/
Practicing the “Yes, and…” Principle
During a humane education workshop at the Detroit Zoo this month, Zoe Weil, the president of the Institute for Humane Education, introduced the improvisational comedy principle of “Yes, and…” According to this principle, improv participants should first accept what other participants have already said (“Yes”), and then expand upon it (“and…”). For example, if one participant has already said, “We’ve been hiking all day, and we aren’t even halfway there yet!” another participant could add, “Yes, and I’m starting to wish I’d worn hiking boots instead of these slippers…”
The “Yes, and…” principle may have originated in improv, but it is also important in humane education. One reason is that it helps humane educators recognize that different people have different perspectives, all of which can contribute to helping animals and the environment. For instance, one person may believe that we must protect local bird populations from introduced predators, and another person may believe that we must provide domestic cats with opportunities to express their natural behaviors. By practicing the “Yes, and…” principle, a humane educator could recognize that these perspectives are not mutually exclusive: “Yes, we must protect local bird populations from introduced predators, and we must provide domestic cats with opportunities to express their natural behaviors. By keeping cats indoors and installing enclosed patios for them, we may be able to do both!”
Another reason the “Yes, and…” principle is important in humane education is that it helps humane educators stay positive in the face of discouraging realities. One such reality is the fact that millions of companion animals enter animal shelters each year. Through the “Yes, and…” principle, humane educators can acknowledge this reality and move forward with their work to address it: “Yes, millions of companion animals enter shelters each year, and this number has declined in recent years. We’re moving in the right direction!”
This month, when you notice yourself saying “Yes, but…” or “No,” practice the “Yes, and…” principle instead and reflect on how it shifts your thinking.
Humane Eating at the Community Level.
Last month’s Humane Tip focused on individual-level actions you can take to eat more humanely. Taking individual-level actions — like eating more plants or growing your own food — can have a significant, positive impact on animals and the environment. That said, taking community-level actions is important, too. This month’s Tip focuses on two community-level actions: advocate for humane options and teach others about humane actions.
1. Advocate for Humane Options. If you’ve already started eating more plant-based, local, or organic foods and want to have an even greater impact, try advocating for humane options at restaurants and grocery stores. For example, you could tell a restaurant server that you ate there because they had plant-based options, or inform a grocery store clerk that you shop there because of their selection of organic produce. If a restaurant or grocery store doesn’t offer humane options, try sending them an email or letter encouraging them to explore that possibility. For instance, you could email a fast food chain about the growing popularity of plant-based burgers or send a letter to a supermarket chain about the benefits of buying from local farmers. The more humane options that are available in your community, the more likely people are to choose them! Action: Tell your favorite restaurant that you eat there because of their humane options, or ask them to offer more humane options.
2. Teach Others about Humane Actions. If you’ve already started growing your own food or reducing food waste and want to do even more, try teaching others about humane actions. For example, you could lead a class at a community organization on starting a backyard garden. If you aren’t comfortable teaching people in person, try teaching them virtually; you could share ideas on social media about cooking with food scraps. The more knowledgeable people in your community are about humane actions, the more likely they are to take them! Action: Ask a local community organization about teaching a class on humane actions, or write a social media post about humane actions.
Humane Eating at the Individual Level
When people think of how they can live more humanely, some decide to “stop eating meat.” Adopting a vegan or plant-based diet can certainly help nonhuman animals and the environment, but it is not the only food-related action you can take. For the next two months, the Humane Tips will address the ways in which you can eat more humanely. This month’s Tip focuses on individual-level actions.
1. Eat more plants. Rather than not eating meat, try eating more plants. These two expressions may seem synonymous, and they do refer to the same action of adopting a plant-based diet. However, framing that action as “eat more plants” can be helpful for two reasons. First, it emphasizes the positive consequences of adopting a more plant-based diet. When a person chooses to eat more plants, they are gaining opportunities to try and enjoy new plant-based meals as much as, if not more than, losing opportunities to eat animal-based meals. Second, “eat more plants” highlights the positive impact that every action can have. A person does not have to completely adopt a plant-based diet to help animals and the environment; indeed, the positive impact of seven people eating plant-based meals one day per week is comparable to that of one person eating plant-based meals seven days per week. Action: Choose a vegetable you have not tried before, and find a recipe that includes it.
2. Eat more local and organic foods. In addition to eating more plants, try to eat more local and organic foods. Eating more local foods can have positive consequences for the environment as it minimizes the energy required to transport the food and the resulting carbon dioxide emissions. Similarly, eating more organic foods can also have a positive impact on the environment as it limits the artificial chemicals used in and released through the production process. These positive consequences for the environment will have positive impacts on the animals who live in it. Action: Go to a farmers market this weekend, or look for groceries with the USDA Organic label.
3. Grow your own food. By growing your own food, not only do you know that it is local and organic, but you also gain a deeper understanding of where food comes from and what resources are required for growth. This understanding can have profound, positive consequences for animals and the environment. Action: Start planning a backyard garden for next year, and ask your gardener friends for advice.
4. Reduce food waste. By reducing food waste, you can help ensure that the resources put into growing food do not go to waste. There are many ways to reduce food waste, including but not limited to meal planning, proper storage and composting. Action: Research additional ways to reduce food waste, and try one of them.
Humane Decision Making, Steps 5 and 6: Taking Action and Reflecting on Your Decision
The previous Humane Education Tip of the Month focused on the fourth step of humane decision making: finding the common ground. This month’s tip focuses on the final two steps: taking action and reflecting on your decision. After finding an issue’s common ground, take action to address it. When people take action, they often focus on individual-level actions that cause a change in their own behavior. For example, in order to reduce plastic pollution, a person may focus on using a reusable bag at grocery stores or refusing plastic straws at restaurants. Individual-level actions are important, but they are not the only type of action people can take. Another important type of action is community-level action; in other words, actions that change a community’s behavior. For instance, in addition to using reusable bags, a person could ask their grocery store to stop providing single-use plastic bags or encourage their town to ban plastic straws.
Finally, reflect on your decision by determining the extent to which it addressed the issue. If it solved the issue, great! Celebrate your success! If not, do not give up. Consider what you could do differently in the future, and remember that change takes time. If you struggle to remember your reusable bag when you go to the grocery store, try storing it in a place that will help you remember. If your town seems unwilling to ban plastic straws, try starting with your workplace.
This month, take action to address issues at both the individual and community levels, and remember to reflect on your decisions. And if you don’t have a reusable bag, consider investing in one!
Humane Decision Making, Step 4: Finding the Common Ground
Our last Humane Education Tip of the Month focused on the second and third steps of humane decision making: identifying the stakeholders and understanding their perspectives. This month’s tip focuses on the fourth step: finding the common ground. To find an issue’s common ground among stakeholders, consider what they need to thrive and how to meet their needs. If meeting all stakeholders’ needs seems unmanageable, focus on their general needs instead of specifics. To illustrate this point, consider the story behind the Snares to Wares exhibition, which is on display at the Detroit Zoo through late March 2020. To support themselves and their families, poachers in northern Uganda would set wire snares to catch animals for food. These snares would injure or kill those animals and other wildlife. At first glance, the poachers’ needs seem to conflict with the wildlife’s own needs to live. Could there be another way the poachers could meet their needs? There was. Setting snares was a specific example of how the poachers met their general need to support themselves and their families. As the Snares to Wares exhibition has shown, they could also meet this need by creating and selling sculptures from repurposed snares. This is just one example of how people and wildlife can meet their needs together.
This month, look for examples of how people and other animals have found common ground. And if you haven’t already visited the Snares to Wares exhibition, check it out!
Humane Decision Making, Steps 2 and 3: Identifying the Stakeholders and Understanding Their Perspectives
The previous Humane Education Tip of the Month focused on the first step of humane decision making: framing the issue. This month’s tip focuses on the second and third steps: identifying the stakeholders and understanding their perspectives. To identify an issue’s stakeholders, think of all those who are affected. Usually, when people think of those affected by an issue, they tend to focus on humans. However, other animals and environments are absolutely worth consideration. Let’s take, for example, mowing your lawn. If you decided to mow your lawn every other week instead of every week, who would the stakeholders be? Your decision would obviously affect you, and probably your family members and neighbors. However, it may also affect other animals, such as rabbits nesting in the grass and bees using the dandelions for food. It could even affect the environment if you use a gas-powered lawn mower. Is there anyone else who might be affected?
After you’ve identified all of the stakeholders, try to understand their perspectives by considering what they need to thrive. To do this, you must learn about them and empathize with them, which can be challenging. Returning to the issue of mowing your lawn; your neighbors’ perspective may be that you should mow it every week, but what about the bees’ perspective? Bees need flowers for food, and the dandelions growing in your lawn might be some of the only flowers available to them, especially if your neighbors mow their lawns every week. How about the environment’s perspective? For example, to what extent would mowing less frequently benefit or harm your local ecosystem’s air or water?
The more we identify an issue’s stakeholders and understand their perspectives, the more likely we are to make humane decisions. This month, think about the humans, other animals and environments. They may all be affected by your decisions, so consider what they need to thrive. And if your lawn has dandelions, consider letting them grow for the bees!
Humane Decision Making, Step 1: Framing the Issue
The goal of humane education is to teach people to behave in ways that do the most good and least harm to animals and nature. Unfortunately, some issues are complex, and deciding how to respond humanely isn’t always easy. Let’s explore how to address a deer feeding from your garden. Your thought process may go a little something like this: on the one hand, letting the deer eat from your garden would do good for her but not for you. On the other hand, scaring the deer away would do good for you but not for her. Fortunately, we can behave humanely in response to complex issues by using humane decision making. A possible humane solution in this instance: installing a deer-proof fence.
The Detroit Zoological Society’s Humane Education Tip of the Month focuses on the first step of humane decision making: framing the issue. When we frame a photograph, we make choices about position and composition — we decide where to stand and what to include. When we frame an issue, we also make choices, deciding on a perspective and how much information to consider.
Issues affecting animals and nature are often framed as conflicts. For example, you may hear the above situation referred to as a deer-human conflict. Framing it in this way implies that if the deer wins, we lose, and vice versa. Rather than framing issues as conflicts, try framing them as opportunities for coexistence. For instance, think of the above situation as an opportunity for deer-human coexistence. Framing it in this way opens our minds to decisions that can benefit both deer and humans.
This month, whenever you hear or see the word “conflict,” replace it with “opportunity for coexistence,” and observe what happens.
Humane Communication: There’s an art to promoting thoughtful dialogue. This is especially true when having conversations about challenging issues. Kim Korona, senior program director at HEART (Humane Education Advocates Reaching Teachers), recently created a short video highlighting various ways we can work to cultivate humane communication. Here are a few tips:
- Reserve judgment – Good communicators avoid talking about individuals as “evil” people. It’s okay to believe that certain actions or behaviors are wrong, but saying that a person is “bad” will not foster compassion or understanding. To teach about empathy and compassion, we need to demonstrate empathy and compassion.
- Build bridges – When possible, validate people for making good points to help build a positive rapport with them. If we agree with something they say, they are more likely to listen and stay open to new ideas. If we immediately dismiss them as wrong, they may shut down, not listen to anything else we say or become nervous to offer a thought/opinion in the future.
- Be sensitive – The person you’re talking with may be struggling with an internal conflict between previously held beliefs and new thoughts. He or she may express guilt about their past actions and opinions or want to change certain behaviors but not know how to do so. Take time to validate their compassion. Encourage them. Also, remind them that they can take one step at a time and that change doesn’t have to happen overnight.
- Don’t make assumptions – When someone says something that seems confusing, surprising or uncaring, don’t jump to conclusions about that person’s point of view. Instead, ask for clarification so that you can better understand what she or he is trying to say. Show that you are listening and that you genuinely want to understand their point of view. This can help foster dialogue instead of shutting it down.
To watch Kim’s video and learn more, visit the Humane Education Coalition’s website at www.hecoalition.org/videos.html.
What goes up must come down! Did you know that the Detroit Zoological Society does not allow balloons on Zoo grounds? Releasing balloons results in littering and can cause numerous threats to animals. While some balloons burst into small pieces, others gradually deflate and fall back to Earth. Both can have inhumane consequences for wildlife. Animals of all kinds can ingest balloon remnants or become entangled in a deflated balloon and/or its ribbon. Sky lanterns also return to Earth as litter and can have negative impacts on wildlife. They are made with treated paper, wires and/or a bamboo ring. They can travel for miles and have even been known to start fires. There are many environmentally-friendly and animal-friendly alternatives to balloon and sky lantern releases. If the occasion calls for a remembrance, you could plant a memory garden or tree. Other alternatives include:
- Blowing bubbles made from environmentally friendly soap. Be sure to collect all empty containers and wands.
- Lighting eco-friendly candles. Use safety precautions and collect all spent candles.
What other ideas do you have? Adapted from www.worldanimalfoundation.org.
The Humane Science Lab, a specially outfitted interpretive studio in the Ford Education Center, provides students, teachers and visitors with opportunities to learn about humane methods of studying biological systems. This includes Alternative Dissection Learning Labs, which utilize models and virtual simulations. We recently facilitated a program for middle school students utilizing iPads and the brand new dissection app, Froggipedia.
This offered students an effective and compassionate way to learn about the anatomy of frogs through augmented reality. Did you know that teachers can now bring alternative dissection materials into their classrooms for free? Organizations, such as Animalearn, have lending libraries that loan out software, models, videos and more. For information about Animalearn’s Science Bank, visit www.thesciencebank.org.
Every day we make consumer choices. We decide what to wear, what to eat and which products to use. These actions can collectively benefit the Earth and its inhabitants when we pause for a moment to reflect on their potential impacts. A number of years ago, I read the book “Stuff: The Secret Lives of Everyday Things” as part of my graduate studies at the Institute for Humane Education.
It was a huge eye-opener for me. The book details the life cycle of common products, such as coffee and a T-shirt. As I read about the various facets of creating these products, it was the first time I truly began to recognize the greater impact my purchases have on people, other species and the planet. As consumers, we’re often presented with different possibilities regarding which products we might purchase.
Take coffee, for example. Upon examination, we may discover that conventional coffee is grown in areas of the rainforest that have been “clear cut,” meaning that the trees have all been removed, negatively impacting ecosystems and inhabitants. Alternatively, we might have the choice of purchasing shade-grown coffee, which is grown under the canopy layer of trees. Not only does this preserve native trees, this method also conserves the habitat for many animals. When I first began doing this research 10 or so years ago, I had a challenging time finding shade-grown coffee and actually had to order it online. I find it exciting to note that you can now find it in many local grocery stores! We can consider the impact of our consumer choices by exploring two questions:
- What are the effects of this item or activity, both positive and negative, on animals and the environment?
- Are there any alternatives that may be less harmful or even provide some benefit?
Another example is that we might discover the cosmetics, toothpaste or cookies that we buy are made with palm oil. Conventional palm oil is grown in areas where the land has been cleared for oil palm plantations, which has had devastating impacts on animals such as orangutans and pygmy elephants.
Alternatively, there are companies who work to produce sustainably harvested palm oil. The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil works to certify those who responsibly produce palm oil. There are a number of organizations working to gather this helpful information for consumers.
There are even a number of apps available these days that help support ethical consumerism. For example, if you want to purchase a cruelty-free product, you could check out The Leaping Bunny Program. If you’re interested in minimizing your impact on animals and the planet, you might check out The Better World Shopper, “a site dedicated to empower people to make the best choice as consumers and to help build the world we want to live in.”
In addition, for those who want to research further, the Institute for Humane Education has put together an entire Pinterest board dedicated to ethical consumerism. Our choices really do add up! When we take a moment to examine the products we’re purchasing, it empowers us to make the best choice possible for people, animals and the planet. This enables us to make knowledgeable decisions on how to walk softly and treat the Earth’s creatures gently.
The Detroit Zoological Society (DZS) frequently receives calls from people who have purchased an exotic animal such as an iguana or a parrot and have discovered that they are unable or unwilling to provide the specialized – and often expensive – care the animal needs. We hear comments such as, “I didn’t know that a parrot could live to be almost 100 years old” or “I had no idea that an iguana could grow to be more than 5 feet long.”
Unfortunately, the ever-growing exotic pet trade creates situations that signiﬁcantly compromise animals’ welfare and result in people turning to the DZS for help. Although we wish we could provide sanctuary for all animals in need, we are unable to accept them in nearly all cases. Making a good pet choice is important, both for you and for the animal you will potentially be bringing into your home.
Here are a few questions to get you started before adopting an animal:
- Am I able to meet the animal’s physical and psychological needs for his or her entire life?
- Do I have the time and the money needed to properly take care of this animal? • Do local ordinances or laws prohibit owning this kind of animal?
- Will my veterinarian be able to provide his or her medical care?
- How much am I able to spend on veterinary costs?
- What will I do if there is a problem?
- Is it safe to bring this animal into my home?
- Will this animal get along with animals that already live with me?
Remember that dogs and cats have changed over several thousand years of living with humans and are the best nonhuman companions for us. Humane societies and rescue organizations are great resources to ﬁnd a dog or cat for your family. If you’re ready to adopt, join us on May 18 and 19 at Meet Your Best Friend at the Zoo, one of the nation’s largest off-site companion animal adoption events, where hundreds of dogs, cats, puppies and kittens will be available for immediate adoption to loving homes.
You can also visit http://www.petﬁnder.com to ﬁnd rescue organizations located nearby. They’ll be able to support you in ﬁnding the perfect companion animal for your family.
Fostering Empathy for Animals: Empathy is the ability to understand another person’s or animal’s experiences from their perspective. It’s being able to place yourself in some else’s shoes/paws and mirror what they are feeling which, in turn, is known to increase prosocial behaviors. While it can be more innate for some of us, empathy is actually a learned behavior.
One way to help nurture empathy in children is through stories, which can help them process thoughts and information. Stories allow us to try on different hats, try out new experiences, think through future actions and help us develop our moral compass – all of which can be done from the comfort of our own home.
At the Detroit Zoological Society, we incorporate stories into a number of our programs. We often seek out stories that highlight people helping animals and books that help us explore the world around us from an animal’s perspective. After reading a story, you can continue to build empathy by taking action.
For example, you can pair Stranger in the Woods, a beautiful picture book about local wildlife, with making a wildlife-friendly snowperson. After reading How to Heal a Broken Wing, a book about helping an injured bird who flew into a window, you can make window decals to help prevent bird collisions. You can learn how to humanely deter ants from your home after reading Hey Little Ant, a book that sheds light on an ant’s perspective. Fostering empathy in children can start at a young age. Together, we can help instill values of walking softly and treating the Earth’s creatures gently.
In a San Francisco neighborhood a newspaper delivery man’s papers started going missing. He was getting calls from upset clients that their paper wasn’t being delivered, but he knew for certain that he delivered them to their doorsteps. Shortly after the calls began, he discovered a coyote in the neighborhood playing with newspapers on a grassy hillside. He videoed her tossing the paper up in the air, sliding down the hillside and running around with papers flapping from her mouth.
Rather than get mad, the delivery man began to throw out a paper just for her each morning, launching it onto the grassy hillside she frequented before she had a chance to nip on from a front porch.
For this newspaper man, coexistence comes in the form of a simple solution-sharing an extra copy of the daily. In what ways do you peacefully coexist with animals that share your neighborhood?
Story adapted from an article published on www.mnn.com on February 1, 2018.
The Jane Goodall Institute created the #IEatMeatLess pledge in late 2017 to benefit people, animals and the environment.
“Dr. Jane Goodall is encouraging every individual to think more critically and act more consciously regarding the consumption of meat and animal products for the sake of our planet and the other animals to whom we are inexorably connected. As Jane often says, ‘You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.’”
Not only does reducing our meat consumption positively impact animals, it helps the planet too. According to the Food and Animal Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, animal agriculture is actually responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than the combined exhaust from all forms of transportation.
Consider avoiding meat one day a week! Our food choices can add up to make a big difference.
To learn more and to take the #IEatMeatLess pledge, visit news.janegoodall.org.
Instagram is teeming with seemingly cute photos of exotic animals. A picture of someone hugging a sloth or showing off a tiger cub is just a click away on the popular photo-sharing platform, which has 800 million users. But starting in December of 2017, searches for a wide range of wildlife hashtags will trigger a notification informing people of potential animal abuse found behind-the-scenes.
Instagram will now deliver a pop-up message whenever someone searches or clicks on a hashtag like “#slothselfie.” The message reads, “You are searching for a hashtag that may be associated with posts that encourage harmful behavior to animals or the environment.” People can then click through to a page Instagram set up in its Help Center to provide more information on wildlife exploitation.
Instagram will use the same process for activity such as #exoticanimalforsale and other hashtags users post to advertise the sale of live animals or animal parts. “We care about our community, including the animals and the wildlife that are an important part of the platform,” says Instagram spokeswoman Emily Cain. “I think it’s important for the community right now to be more aware. We’re trying to do our part to educate them.” Cassandra Koenen, head of wildlife campaigns at World Animal Protection, who worked on the list with Instagram, hopes the warnings will make people pause and reflect. “If someone’s behavior is interrupted, hopefully they’ll think, maybe there’s something more here or maybe I shouldn’t just automatically like something or forward something or repost something if Instagram is saying to me there’s a problem with this photo.”
Adapted from posted on news.nationalgeographic.com.