Ten Square Miles

An Environmental Activism Resource

Author: Rebecca Cox

Restoring Forests in Africa

In a time where environmental destruction seems to be all we can talk about, its always hopeful to see some good news. Out of the Paris climate conference there is a plan to restore 386,000 acres of forest in Africa.

According to the article, “The African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative (AFR100) has secured commitments from six nations to restore 78.3 million acres and has pending promises from four more countries. The program has been officially adopted by the African Union, and international partners have pledged more than $1.5 billion in various forms of financial support.”

While some people are worried this program will focus too much on restoration and not preventing deforestation, it seems to be  a step in the right direction.

What do you think about Africa’s plan to restore the forests?

Check out the full article here.


Cowspiracy Review


Released in 2014, Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret is a documentary that sheds light on the world’s main cause of climate change: livestock farming. The film was written and directed by Keegan Kuhn and Kip Andersen as well as produced by actor Leonardo DiCaprio. The film follows Kip Andersen, an environmentalist who was confused why big groups like Greenpeace and the Sierra Club weren’t talking more about agriculture farming and its effects on the environment. He goes on to explore the climate change that it has caused and found that over half of the world’s pollution comes from livestock farming. The film is largely statistical and many infographics are used to show things like water consumption, meat consumption, etc.

Because the film consisted of many statistics, I found that there was much strength to this approach to filmmaking. Andersen spoke with almost all sides of the environmental problem. In the beginning he tried to speak with the Sierra Club and Greenpeace. He spoke with environmental experts at different universities and those who have done educational studies. He juxtaposed these interviews by spending time at the sustainable farm. In almost all of the interviews the audience was given new information in order to help put together what seemed like one big puzzle.

Regarding the cinematography, there were moments where shots were too overexposed and it became distracting. The amount of rack focuses used was also excessive and I felt that this film was too far away from an art film for it to focus so much on cinematography as it seemed to do at some points. Another small weakness was the focus on Kip Andersen. Although the film is focusing on his journey, I felt that there were many interviews where Kip didn’t need to be seen. I thought the film was particularly strong in its resources for alternative food consumption. The film provided numerous solutions with its outcomes for the audience. In fact, I felt as though unlike some films we’ve watched in the past classes, this film’s purpose was for the audience to make a change. Andersen and his experts provide numerous benefits of eating a meat free diet including reducing your carbon footprint by over fifty percent.

As a vegan of two years and a vegetarian for 8, I have spent a good amount of time educating myself on this particular subject. After watching the film, I felt even more concerned about meat production than I did before (if that’s even possible). There were numerous facts that I had never heard and I sat through the film appalled at most of them. I think the film overall did a good job of relaying this information and giving the audience a solid foundation in which they can make a decision about eating meat. I found it interesting that this film didn’t talk much about the slaughter of animals. I originally thought that was what the film was about. I feel like its difficult to talk about slaughterhouses without talking about what they do to animals, but this documentary stayed on focus with the environment. I think its good they chose to focus on one subject because tackling both issues in one documentary would have been too much. Overall, I found the documentary to be insightful and motivating.


Recycled Shoes: The new fad?

With all of the environmental discussions going on around the world lately, athletic company Adidas decided to join i
n. Recently the brand created a running shoe out of recycled materials from the ocean.  Partnering with the environmental group Parley for the Oceans, Adidas began collecting waste for the shoes back in April. According to takepart.com, between 10 billion and 28 billion tons of plastic were released into the ocean in 2010. By creating this sustainable shoe, Adidas has high hopes that this will be the shoe of the future.

See the full article here.

What Vegans Shouldn’t Do

The Huffington Post wrote an interesting article about some things vegans should never do. Some of their advice includes not eating junk food and to take a closer look at your wardrobe.

The Huffington Post wrote an interesting article about some things vegans should never do. Some of their advice includes not eating junk food and to take a closer look at your wardrobe.

Do you agree with all five suggestions?

Check out the article here.

Recycling & How You Can Help

Recycling is a small thing to do for the environment that has a big impact. Check out the infographic below for some informative facts and ways for everyone to get involved.




On social media platforms, there is a new hashtag going viral called #KillTheKCup. This new hashtag is in reference to K-Cups that go in Keurig machines that make hot beverages such as tea, coffee and hot chocolate.

Billions of the tiny plastic single-use cups are being thrown into the trash because they’re not recyclable. The company has acknowledged that this is a problem but doesn’t plan on making them recyclable until at least 2020.

Even the inventor of the K-Cup is now saying that he wishes he hadn’t invented them. According to an article at TakePart.com, creator John Sylvan admitted to not owning a Keurig because they are “too expensive to use.” He touches on the environmental issues and at one point says that he doesn’t think the K-Cups will ever be able to be fully recyclable due to the type of plastic used in them.

All of this attention to the Keurig has prompted the #KilltheKCup hastag in hopes that the company develops an environmentally friendly product at a faster rate.


See the full article here.

A Fierce Green Fire Response

Mark Kitchell produced and directed the 2012 documentary, A Fierce Green Fire that explores different environmental movements and groups around the world. Produced by Bull Frog Films, the film takes a look at different movements regarding the environment within the past 50 years all over the world. It is split up into five different acts, each of which progress in a somewhat chronological order. Kitchell takes the first act to look act the organization of the Sierra club and its early battle in the 60’s with dams and the Grand Canyon. Act 2 focuses on pollution and the 70’s era of Love Canal where a town in New York is overcome with over 20,000 toxic chemicals as its residents try and find resolution with the government. Act 3 is about the environmental organization Greenpeace and their fight to save the whales while Act 4 follows with deforestation in the 80’s and activist Chico Mendez. Act 5 finishes the film by looking at climate change and natural disasters. Overall, the film created a brief history of environmentalism and its’ activists.

This film in particular had a very positive outlook at environmental activism. The upbeat music and ambitious montages were meant to serve the film as inspiring. A particular strength of this documentary was the fact that it was split up into five different acts. The film was nicely strung together with each act and without the separation, would have just looked poorly organized. The diversity of each act worked in the film’s favor because the audience had the chance to see different types of activism in different eras. Ultimately A Fierce Green Fire is meant to observe the activist history in environmentalism and throughout the acts, it achieved that. The first three acts proved to be particularly strong with movements like Love Canal, which viewed one of the bigger environmental issues of the 70’s and groups like Greenpeace which shed light on issues like whaling and sealing that are not commonly known to the public. The last two acts weren’t as strong as they created more distant issues that didn’t prove quite as strong as the other acts but important nonetheless.

Kitchell and his crew stay behind the camera and leave it to the subjects to tell their stories. This is very much unlike the documentary DamNation we watched as a class earlier in the year that used a series of voiceovers from the documentarians themselves as they went on an adventure to advocate the destruction of Dams. Likewise, in class we read Rachel Carson’s text Silent Spring and in Act 2 the film relates back to Carson’s text numerous times. Kitchell seems to have a stronger act when he has more of a solid, focused foundation.

Personally, this was my favorite film we have watched thus far. I thought many of the issues were strong and focused on the importance of activism. I liked how part of the underlying message of the film was that activism has been going on for decades and the need to advocate isn’t going to go away any time soon. I find that this film was so incredibly different than many of the other films we have watched. This film wasn’t one that made me feel badly about issues I may not have any control over and it also didn’t involve a resolution. But it did show the effects of activism and how people are reacting to environmentalism around the globe and I find that this approach was far more successful in capturing my interest and ambition than the others. I thought it was a very realistic, upbeat approach to activism and its history.

The Meat Industry & Climate

When we hear the words climate change, our minds tend to gravitate toward cars, planes, and factories. While it may be a stretch for some people to imagine the meat on their plate is contributing to earth’s environmental decline, recent studies show that this is indeed true. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FOA), 14.5% of all greenhouse gas pollution is due to livestock production. The top three animal meats with the highest carbon footprint are grazing beef, sheep and meadow beef while some of the meats with much smaller footprints are seafood, chicken and eggs.

The earth as it is has already seen drastic climate change since the 1800s Industrial Revolution, which added 0.8 degrees Celsius of warming. According to the World Bank, we’ve already added at least 1.5 degrees Celsius since then.

In perspective, livestock agriculture is thought to produce more emissions than trains, planes and cars combined. Although it leaves such a chilling carbon footprint, animal agriculture is often overlooked by many national governments as being harmful. In fact, the production of meat is supposed to double in just over 30 years. In the United States, almost 70% of crops are used to feed livestock and agriculture is known for claiming an astounding percentage of global water depletion.

In order to produce meat, fossil fuels are burned releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. To produce 1 calorie of meat, it takes 8.5 times as much fossil fuel energy according to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. The farm animals crammed into factories waiting to be slaughtered produce methane during digestion and even after. Even more toxic is Nitrous Oxide which is released when manure from the animals are broken down.

By eating a vegetarian or vegan diet, a British study found that we could reduce our food related carbon footprint by 60%. This also saves about 1.5 tons of chemicals from entering the atmosphere annually.

Globally, the effects of the commercial meat industry are paralyzing and contribute more to greenhouse gas emissions than most people are informed. Another way to reduce this issue is to buy meat (and even other foods) locally. The food doesn’t have to travel as far and doesn’t need the same amount of energy or chemicals in preparation for its storage when it makes the journey. Although there isn’t a simple solution to this growing problem, there are steps we can take in preventing more damage to be done in the future.




National Geographic Conservation Photos

Recently, National Geographic posted beautiful images that have emerged as winners from the Por El Planeta conservation photography competition. Many of the photos include incredible views of nature, animals and the effects of human interaction.

View all the photos here



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