75% of global honey samples test positive for pesticides

Recent Tests of Honey Sourced Around the World Show Contamination by Neonicotinoid Pesticides

 

Citizen Science Project Reveals Widespread Contamination of Honey.

laboratory testingA recent study published in the journal Science revealed that seventy five percent of honey samples collected between 2012 and 2016 showed measurable amounts of neonicotinoids, a type of neurotoxic insecticide. The project, begun as a citizen science project by researchers at the Botanical Garden of Neuchâtel, Switzerland, tested honey donated from around the world.

The highest contamination levels were found in North America. 86% of North American samples contained at least one neonicotinoids, with Asia at 80% and Europe at 79% following right behind. Of the samples tested, South America showed the least amount of contamination at 57%. Approximately  half of the samples showed more than one type of insecticide.

What Effects do Neonicotinoids Have on Bees?

worker bee collecting pollenA study conducted by Amro Zayed, a biologist at York University in Toronto and published in June of this year, explains exactly what happens to bees and other insects that encounter clothianidin, a common neonicotinoid. In an article published by PBS on June 29, 2017 by Toni Dengler, “The pesticides not only reduced a bee’s chance of survival, but impaired its natural defense systems. While humans rely on vaccines or antibiotics, bees use social immunity, a tactic bees use to clean out dead or sick brood insects from the nest. Bees in colonies treated with clothianidin displayed less and less of this behavior over time, which means more sick bees were infecting, and staying in, the nests.”

Neonicotinoid exposure causes neural dysfunction that limit a bee’s ability to learn and remember. This is exhibited in bumblebees’ inability to forage after exposure. So even if the bees make it back to the hive, they can contaminate and make the rest of the hive sick. Sick hives tend to lose their queen, without which the hive slowly dies off, unable to produce eggs and future generations. Tapering populations of bees mean less pollination of plants such as food crops. Lack of pollination means reduced crop yields. You can see where this leads…

What Effects do Neonicotinoids Have on Humans?

The answer to this question is sadly lacking. There is little published research on the effect of honey crockneonicotinoids on vertebrates, though some do indicate the possibility of harm to humans.

In a February 2017 review of eight studies published by Environmental Health Perspectives, researchers concluded that “The studies conducted to date were limited in number with suggestive but methodologically weak findings related to chronic exposure. Given the wide-scale use of neonics, more studies are needed to fully understand their effects on human health.” That being said, three of the eight studies reviewed showed adverse health implications in cases of acute exposure to neonicotinoids.

What Can I Do To Stop the Use Of Neonicotinoids?

  1. You can start by educating yourself. There are plenty of great sites dedicated to reaching and teaching the masses about bees. Check out Bee Informed, the National Pesticide Information Center and Pollinator Partnership to name just a few.
  2. Avoid purchasing plants that have been treated with Neonicotinoids. If you haven’t read our post about how we first learned about the threat these pesticides pose, please go back and read it now.
  3. Get involved. Sign a petition. Donate to an organization you trust. We donate a percentage of our profits each month to organizations that work to protect out environment. Read more about who we support and why we’ve chosen them on our Giving Back page.
  4. Plant a Pollinator Garden Using Plants Native to Your Region. Use Native Plant Finder, a web database that contains thousands of native plant profiles. You can easily search using your area code. Once you’ve selected your plants, take the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge and register your pollinator garden online to show your solidarity with native bees, birds and other pollinators. Read our blog post about how we started a pollinator garden at our home.planting a garden at home

How to Plant A Pollinator Garden for Native Bees, Butterflies and Other Beneficial Insects

It All Started With a Tiny Plant Tag….

Last spring I brought home a few seemingly innocuous flowering perennial plants from a major chain home store to add a little color to our yard and I found a little surprise…A tag that told me my flowers were treated with neonicotinoids to protect them from “problematic pests”.

Wait, what…? Neonicotinoids? Aren’t those supposed to be really, really bad for honeybees? To add to my confusion, printed on the back of the tag was this: “These pesticides are approved by the EPA.” Isn’t the EPA supposed to protect at risk and endangered species like the honeybee and other pollinators?

A little googling and I found out that for years the EPA stated that there was not sufficient evidence to prove that neonicotinoids were harmful to bees or any other species of animal. In January of 2016, they revised that statement and have begun new investigations into the 5 different classes of pesticides considered to be neonicotinoids.

Be on the lookout for similar tags where you buy your plants; I even take the extra step of asking someone about it when I’m at a locally owned store, just to be on the safe side.

Bees in the Mountains…

About a month later while on vacation in the beautiful Northeast Georgia Mountains, my family and I took an afternoon to visit the Georgia Mountain Research and Education Center in Blairsville. Here, the University of Georgia has 415 acres of orchards, test plots, pasture land, specimen and preservation gardens, historic sites and forests, including a lovely native Georgia pollinator garden. While on the full tour of each of the areas of the station, the hot topic was bees and neonicotinoids and I began to realize how important every tiny garden plot is to the overall health of native bees.

In September of last year, local officials in Dorchester County, South Carolina sprayed naled, which is another class of pesticide, over a 15-square mile area of the county near Charleston. Officials sprayed the area out of concern about the spread of the Zika virus across the South, although only 4 reported cases of travel related Zika. Unfortunately, officials failed to contact local apiarists and the media in order to alert hobbyists, so area bees were basically obliterated overnight. Flowertown Bee Farm and Supply, in Summerville estimated that 46 of their hives, or about 2.5 MILLION bees, dies immediately.

The Sound of Silence…

Spring is to Savannah as Autumn is to the Adirondacks. Each year as azaleas, dogwoods, tulip blossoms and other flowering shrubs and trees come to life, you can literally hear the buzz of bees everywhere. Just a mere 100 miles away from Dorchester County, this Spring in Savannah has been hauntingly quiet.

Noticing the changes in my little corner of the world, coupled with the string of events in 2016 didn’t make me want to take up beekeeping, though (I was once stung on the eyelid and within 60 seconds my eye and face was swollen like a ballon. Ouch!) While I totally appreciate the important place of bees in the global ecosystem, I’m not ready to get up close and personal with the whole hive. If that is your thing, I salute you and I’ll gladly pay for your beautiful locally sourced honey if I see you at the farmers market!

It DID make me want to do the next best thing, which is to plant a pollinator garden using plants indigenous to Coastal Georgia.

What are the Best Pollinator Plants for My Zone..?

I started by calling our local cooperative extension office to see if they could share any resources with me to do the research. Try googling “Cooperative Extension Office in…” and add your city and state at the end to get in touch with someone to help you. Bonus tip; they also do things like assist you in getting your tap water checked for contaminants and soil sample testing to help you feed your lawn exactly what it needs.

Luckily, my local cooperative extension had several great online resources to share, one of which is the Native Plant Finder. In addition to providing a directory of pollinator plants indigenous to your area (you just enter your zip code) it also “scores” each plant with a number based on how many pollinators feed on and/or use the plant as a host for caterpillars. So cool!

I’m still working on researching and selecting the plants for our pollinator garden, but in the meantime, I “reclaimed’ an embarrassingly neglected garden bed near our garage that gets lots of sun. We have a compost bin rich with dried leaves and and other decomposed organic matter, so after a heavy application, we’ll have a healthy start for our pollinator garden. Here is a picture of it today, pre-planting. 

Thanks for visiting our blog! Stay tuned to find out which native pollinator plants I select and why, plus photos of the process and the finished garden…

 

GREEN LIVING CHALLENGE #2 – PINE VINEGAR – THE RESULTS ARE IN!

It’s been 5 weeks since I started the infusion of vinegar with Loblolly pine needles to make my own non-toxic pine cleaner.

You might remember the original post back in December when I discussed the dangers of using cleaners like Pine Sol and the benefits of making your own non-toxic version,here.

In February, I posted the steps I took to gather the items you need to make a pine vinegar infusion, here.

LOBLOLLYJARVINEGARSEALED JAR

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today, I took the infusion out of the dark, cool cabinet it was being stored in to make the cleaner. After 5 weeks, the pine aroma was present, but was more subtle than I expected. The vinegar darkened to a weak tea brown. Although the scent was more “acidic salad dressing” than “piney fresh”, I decided to follow the steps to make the cleaner and test it out.

What You Will Need:
1/2 cup Pine Vinegar Infusion
1/2 cup plain white distilled vinegar
1 tsp. Unscented Liquid Castile Soap*
*You can find many brands in natural or health food stores or online. I used Dr. Bronner’s 18-1 Hemp Baby Unscented Pure-Castile Soap. Here is a link to it on Amazon.
A clean, sealable glass jar or container
A spray bottle

DIY PINE VINEGAR AFTERLIQUID CASTILE SOAPVINEGARDIY NON TOXIC PINE CLEANER

 

 

 

 

 

 

Directions:
1) Add all ingredients to the glass jar.
2) Seal the lid and shake well.
3) Pour as needed into spray bottle to clean.
4) Store unused portion in sealed glass jar to keep fresh.

When we mixed the ingredients in the glass jar, some of the oils in the castile soap solidified. I am not sure how to prevent this. It did not effect the effectiveness of the cleaner, but you should try to keep the solid out if you are using a spray bottle to clean.

Finally, for the test….I decide to try the pine cleaner on my wooden kitchen cabinets. Check out the pictures below for the before and after. (The before is totally cringe-inducing. This is a cabinet right next to the stove and it had accumulated plenty of cooking “grunge” since it was last cleaned.) I am super-impressed with the result and couldn’t be happier to have found a non-toxic replacement for a chemical cleaner.

CABINET BEFORE PINE CLEANER FOR BLOGCABINET AFTER PINE CLEANER 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m calling this Green Living Challenge a WIN!!! Many thanks to our fellow “Greenie”, Cara, for providing the idea and inspiration. Please let me know if you think you will try it for yourself 🙂

If YOU have a great eco-friendly tip or product that you haven’t tried yourself because you:
A)think it would be too expensive to try
B)think it would be too time consuming to try
C) think it’s just a bunch of malarky….
then let me try it first!

Post your idea in the comments below. I would LOVE to try it for you.

#GreenLivingChallenge #‎GoGreenIn2016 #ItsEasyBeingGreen #‎KimberlyCarrHomeDesigns

Finding Eco-Friendly Home Ideas and Coupons in Unexpected Places

Do you ever read your electric bill (besides the amount due)? In Georgia, at least, you can find some pretty bright ideas (pun totally intended ;-)) like information about rebates for Energy Star purchases and some handy energy saving tips.
Through the end of the November, Georgia Power has partnered with Home Depot, Costco and Walmart to offer special pricing from on select ENERGY STAR® certified CFLs and LEDs (while supplies last.)Save $2 – $6 off select packs of CFLs and LEDs at participating Walmart, Costco and The Home Depot retail locations. No coupons or rebates needed — just immediate savings at the register. Look for the Georgia Power tag in-store to save. You can find a list of participating stores in Georgia here.
*DID YOU KNOW? If every American home replaced just one light bulb with one that has earned the ENERGY STAR, we would save enough energy to light 2 million homes for a year, save about $460 million in annual energy costs, and prevent 6 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions per year, equivalent to the emissions from about 550,000 cars.

Green Living Customers Span the U.S.

From the beaches of California to the streets of New York and everywhere in-between, you can find us!
Kimberly-Carr Home Designs now has customers in all 50 U.S. states, plus Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico.
THANK YOU to all of you who believe in our products and our brand!!!

Green Living Hacks…Recycle Your Old Cell Phone

About 130 million mobile phones are retired every year, resulting in more than 65,000 tons of waste―including potentially hazardous materials, such as lead and mercury. Recycle yours with Call2Recycle.org (log on to find a drop-off location near you) or programs like cellphonesforsoldiers.com, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing cost-free communication services to active-duty military members and veterans.

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Water, Water, Everywhere…

In the U.S., a seemingly endless supply of clean, running water has led to a mental disconnect between us and our water supply. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has designated August National Water Quality Month. The month is to remind everyone how each action can impact the nation’s waterways and water supply. As of right now, the EPA reports that 40 percent of the nation’s waterways suffer from water quality problems.

Here are some things you can do to help safeguard the availability of clean drinking water and runoff water:
– Do not use antibacterial soaps or cleaning products.
– Clean your driveway or sidewalks with a broom and not a hose.
– Do not flush outdated or unwanted medications down the toilet or drain.
– Install a rain barrel to collect rainwater. Collected water can be used to water a lawn or wash a car.
– Test soil before applying pesticides or fertilizer. Many common gardening issues can be solved using organic methods.
– Take used oil or antifreeze to a service station or recycling center.
– Adopt a watershed, organize stream cleanups, plant trees, and monitor your home’s water quality.

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Great News For The African Elephant Population!

At the end of May 2015, The Chinese government announced that it will “eventually” shut down its legal domestic ivory market. The move, which surprised conservationists, could provide a major boost in efforts to stop the mass killing of elephants for their ivory.
Read the rest of the story from Mongabay Environmental News

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Stop Feeding Your Family Chemicals – Learn To Bake Bread From Scratch (P.S. It’s Easier You Think!)

High Fructose Corn Syrup, Azodicarbonamide (the same chemical in yoga mats and shoe rubber), Chemical Dough Conditioners, Artificial Flavoring and Coloring, GMOs….These are some of the common ingredients in store-bought bread.

AND, the flour can be treated with any of the 60 different chemicals approved by the FDA before it ends up on store shelves – including chemical bleach!

If you think you don’t have time or the tools to make bread at home, we are about to blow your mind!!!
PLEASE try this amazingly simple recipe for the most delicious, chewy, dense bread EVER found on Simply So Good.

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“Mangia Bene, Ridi Spesso, Ama Molto”

Translated from Italian, this means “Eat well, laugh often, love much.” Thanks to the efforts of Expo Milano 2015, many people who are currently starving or suffering from a shortage of food, may be able to fully realize that beautiful idea.
Expo Milano 2015 is the Universal Exhibition that Milan, Italy, will host from May 1 to October 31, 2015. Over this six-month period, Milan will become a global showcase where more than 140 participating countries will show the best of their technology that offers a concrete answer to a vital need: being able to guarantee healthy, safe and sufficient food for everyone, while respecting the Planet and its equilibrium. In addition to the exhibitor nations, the Expo also involves international organizations, and expects to welcome over 20 million visitors to its 1.1 million square meters of exhibition area.
Anyone else hungry for Osso Bucco?

Expo2015Milan