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  • 1 Sep 2023 7:22 PM | Kemi Oyebade (Administrator)

    Zero Waste Initiative

    By:Laurie Dameron, BPW Colorado Chair of Environmental and Sustainable Development

    A bottle of dishwashing liquid next to a sink Description automatically generatedCut Down Plastics Use

    Choose glass or aluminum whenever possible but when those are not available you can cut down your plastics usage simply by purchasing the largest plastic container and refilling the smaller container to use over and over!  

    Thank you!  


    To sign up for Laurie’s monthly music and “Green News,” write to

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  • 1 Sep 2023 7:12 PM | Kemi Oyebade (Administrator)

    Bring Back the Pollinators

    By: Marikay Shellman, BPW Colorado Virtual 

    Chair, NFBPWC Environment and Sustainable Development Committee (2022-2024)

    Soil Health is a Climate Solution.  While we all know that pesticides kill pollinators, fertilizer application causes widespread harm to soil health killing a wide world of soil invertebrates that live below our feet. In the Farming with Soil Health webinar, I was reminded of basics of Soil Invertebrates: Only 2% of insects are harmful, 40% of invertebrate pollinator species are at risk of extinction, and By minimizing disturbance, maximizing biodiversity in planting Native plants that bloom throughout the season, & Creating species habitat by leaving the leaves & stems & some dead branches or logs, we develop Soil Health.  

    (Photo courtesy of Xerces Society.)

    What fascinates me are the invertebrates living in the soil- 25% of total diversity in life is found in soil! Fungi & Bacteria, Protozoa, Rotifers, Tardigrades, Nematodes, Potworms, Earthworms, all the Arthropods (Springtails, Woodlice, Millipedes, Centipedes, Spiders, Mites) and Insects such as Flies (Crane Flies, Moth Flies, Snake Flies, Dance Flies, March Flies, Flower Flies) and Beetles (Soldier Beetles, Fireflies, Tiger Beetles, Ground Beetles, Rove Beetles, Burying Beetles, Dung Beetles, Ants, Ground Nesting Bees, Wasps, Scarab Hunting Wasps)- all are Decomposers.  These animals tunnel and burrow in the soil, bringing subsoil to the surface, hydrating and aerating the soil.  As I learned about these amazing creatures, such as Millipedes can live up to 11 years and Woodlice (“rolly-pollies”) nurse their young and are good for detecting metals, and spiders are useful diggers, I was amazed by how many of these invertebrates live in leaf litter, under stones, overwinter in soil & under bark.  

    Tardigrades live in leaf litter & within soil & are great scavengers & predators eating bacteria, fungi, algae.  

    Not only does healthy soil filter & purify our water, reduce flooding, and provide greater crop yields and thus food production, it plays a crucial role in capturing and storing large amounts of carbon.  Healthy Soil is second only to oceans as a carbon sink, surpassing forests, reducing the impact of Climate Change.  Healthy Soil is a win-win for sustainability and for the human species.

  • 1 Aug 2023 11:14 AM | Megan Shellman-Rickard (Administrator)

    Bring Back the Pollinators by Marikay Shellman

    Summer is well upon us & your gardens should have signs of active beneficial insects such as few holes in a leaf or flower, a yellow stem.  These are signs of insects thriving in a micro ecosystem.   If you have planted native plants which are well adapted to the environment from which they came, they are less likely to be victim to pests.  Rest assured that if you see pests, predators are nearby.   Example: a lady beetle devouring an aphid.

    Wonderful bugs to welcome into your garden are ground beetles who hide during the day just below the ground surface & emerge at night to feast on dozens of pests, slugs & snails & non-native spongy moths.

    All bee species pollinate berries, fruits, nuts, and seeds including wasps which not only are important pollinators but also predators of garden pests.  Don’t be so quick to get rid of these beneficial insects.

    Syrphid flies, also known as flower flies, look a lot like bees.  Not only are they great pollinators, the syrphid fly larvae can devour several hundred aphids before entering its pupal stage.

    While you should rid your garden of invasive non-native weeds, leave your native plant beds a bit on the unmanaged, wild side which will provide food and nesting habitat for pollinators.  Beware of mulch.  Colored or rubber mulch is toxic to pollinators & heavy mulch blocks the ground for soil nesting bees.

    Remember that the vast majority of insects are not pests.  That caterpillar that is devouring a juicy leaf in your garden will turn into a beautiful butterfly or moth.

  • 1 May 2023 3:57 PM | Megan Shellman-Rickard (Administrator)

    By: Marikay Shellman, BPW Colorado Virtual Member

    We are grateful to Candace Fallon, Senior Conservation Biologist Xerces Society, for her excellent Earth Day presentation, Fireflies: Conserving the Jewels of the Night.  With so much information in her presentation, I thought I would review some of the most important facts for NFBPWC members to remember and to act upon. 

    Fireflies are in trouble, threatened by 6 negative impacts:

    • Habitat Loss,
    • Light Pollution,
    • Pesticide Use,
    • Degradation of Water Quality,
    • Invasive Species, and
    • Climate Change.

    The most important thing we can do to help these magical insects is to give Fireflies shelter that is free from pesticides, mowing, and trampling.  They need moisture, clean fresh water with native vegetation in which they can burrow, and eat snails, slugs, and earthworms.  Don’t over tidy in your rush for Spring clean-up.

    Those leaves that you left last fall need to stay on the ground providing moisture in the soil & shelter for insects.  Rather than using bark mulch, use those leaves as mulch.  Don’t rake or leaf blow.  Refrain from mowing as female fireflies spend most of their time on the ground first as larvae & then laying eggs and mower blades are devastating.  Males use taller grasses and dried plant forbs as resting places.  Unkempt areas in your yard and garden, downed logs & leaf litter are ideal. 

    As you head to your nursery, ask for pesticide-free native plants, including asters, goldenrods, & milkweed.  Native brushy shrubs will add diversity in heights for perches for fireflies. 

    We all need to reduce night light pollution.  Fireflies and many other insects and birds need dark skies.  Limit your outdoor lighting to areas only necessary like sidewalks & patios.  Where you must have lighting, use dim red lights and motion detectors.  Join International Dark-Sky Association.

    What we can all do is advocate and educate.


  • 1 May 2023 3:52 PM | Megan Shellman-Rickard (Administrator)
    Simple Acts:  No Mow May

    By:   Marikay Shellman, BPW Colorado Virtual
    Chair, NFBPWC Environment and Sustainable Development Committee (2022-2024)

    Here’s a Simple Act for May: No mowing your lawn for a whole month!  “The goal of No Mow May is to allow grass to grow for the month of May, creating habitat and forage for early season pollinators.  This is particularly important in urban areas where floral resources are often limited.” (Bee City USA).  No Mow May is a catchy phrase, however, it depends upon where you live.  It might make more sense to have a No Mow April or No Mow Spring; whenever you notice the daffodils popping & robins eating worms, the native bees and bumblebees are beginning to emerge and need food and cover from the chilly nights. 

    The start of growing season is a critical time to give lawn flowers a chance to bloom and provide nectar and pollen for these early emerging bees and pollinators to fed themselves & their offspring.  Don’t jump into Spring Garden cleanup.  Leave those leaves that you didn’t rake last Fall as they provide much needed protection from the Spring winds and lingering frosts for both plants and invertebrates. 

    Many bees & butterflies don’t emerge until late May.  Notice chrysalides still clinging to the dried standing plant material you left last season.  Longer grass can provide shelter for many invertebrates, and several species including ground beetles and some butterflies (fiery skipper and sachem) use grasses as host plants. (Xerces Society).  

    We need to re-think the American lawn.

    40 million acres, 2% of the land in the US, are covered in lawns which are mowed, raked, fertilized, weeded, chemically treated, and watered.  These neatly kept monoculture lawns provide little food or habitat for native bees and pollinators, and the pesticides & lack of habitat are contributing to one in four bee species being on the verge of extinction.  “Weed and Feed” products contain toxins such as neonicotinoid insecticides, deadly to bees & other pollinators.

    Last year I experimented with leaving half my lawn un-mowed for the month of May and the pollinators did come, for example this Sphinx moth on a dandelion flower (photo to the Left taken by my grandson Dylan Rickard).  When it is finally time to mow, turf grass extension specialist, Paul Koch, University of Wisconsin, explains that: “You never want to remove more than one-third of the green leafy tissue at any one time.”  By raising your mowing height to four inches and mowing every other week, your lawn will flower throughout the growing season attracting more bees & butterflies.  You can over-seed your lawn with of “bee lawn seed mix” typically including white clover and creeping thyme.  Longer grass shades the ground underneath keeping it cooler and maintaining moisture.  It’s a win-win situation.  Less time mowing, less expense in upkeep, less water use, and providing a diversity of plants equals a huge positive for pollinators and your pocketbook.

    Balancing the urge to have a lawn for playing with your dog and wanting to create habitat for pollinators, try mowing a smaller portion of your lawn and leaving border areas of bunch grasses and shrubs.  You can always make your patio or balcony more pollinator-friendly by planting pesticide-free native plants.  If your neighbors or HOA are wondering about your long grass, print out free NO MOW MAY sign available from>no-mow-may .  Office Depot will laminate them, “outside” thickness, for a minimal charge.  Involve your community members and city officials or HOA board members by asking them to adopt a No Mow Spring policy.
  • 1 Apr 2023 3:50 PM | Megan Shellman-Rickard (Administrator)

    By:   Marikay Shellman, BPW Colorado Virtual Member

    98% of insects are NOT pests and “yet most of the chemicals now used kill all insects, our friends and enemies alike.” (Rachel Carson, Silent Spring)

    Spring is springing and so are bugs. There is no need for pesticides as there are plenty of non-chemical tactics to battle the bugs: basil to keep flies away, dish soap to rid of ants, a spray bottle filled with water & lemon or lime juice for spiders, a cockroach trap from a wine bottle lined with maple syrup & rubbed with cooking oil, salt for a flea infestation, and Neem Oil for many types of pests.


    The number & diversity of insects are declining at an alarming rate due to habitat loss, climate change & use of pesticides. By transforming part of your lawn into an insect friendly habitat, you can attract pollinators and provide habitat for native insects. Lawns are like deserts to insects. Simply leave a section of your yard untouched, allowing vegetation to grow & produce seeds & flowers. Fallen leaves & stems, sticks, and especially logs should be left for insects to use for habitation. Add native plants; they will thrive in your landscape, use less water and attract natural insect enemies to limit damage from those pest species.

    Urban areas can exceed rural areas in providing diversity & abundance for pollinators including planting native species in containers on your balcony or on rooftops.

    Limit your use of outdoor lighting which is one of the major causes of insect decline.  Nocturnal insects are attracted to artificial lights, killing many of them. Amber or red colored lights, best to use outdoors when a large amount of light is necessary, produce wavelengths that are not as attracting to bugs thus killing fewer. Do NOT use “bug zappers” which purposely kill all insects, especially our friendly insects.

    For those of us that left the leaves and native flower stalks all winter, leave the leaves which are providing shelter for insects & pollinators. New growth will pop through this bed of dead leaves. Trim stalks at uneven heights between 6-12 inches. Leave the stubble on the ground as some stem nesting bees might be living in them. Ground nesting bees are 70% of our native bees. Leave some bare ground areas to provide for these ground nesters, especially sandy areas. Remember that a leaf being eaten is providing food for leafcutter bees, 30% of our native bees.

    Bumble Bee Watch has put out a call for community collection of valuable data. “As you take your daily walk along your neighborhood trail, putter in your garden weeding and planting, or sip on your coffee on an outdoor patio, keep your eyes and ears open and your camera handy. If you spot a bumble bee foraging or crawling around on the ground, take a photo, a few photos. Then submit your photos to, along with the date and location of your sighting.” Bumble Bees, major pollinators for blueberries, tomatoes, & wildflowers, are nearing extinction.

  • 1 Apr 2023 2:20 PM | Megan Shellman-Rickard (Administrator)

    Simple Acts:  From Your Table to Your Community

    By Marikay Shellman, BPW Colorado, NFBPWC Environment and Sustainable Development Committee Chair (2022-2024)

    Farmers Market Box

    Growing up in Florida, my mother would take me to the local farmer stands to purchase vegetables.  “They taste much better because they are fresh”, she would say.  And how true that still rings today.  Our supermarkets advertise their “fresh produce”, but the food is often grown thousands of miles away or in another country, picked well before it has ripened, stored in warehouses, shipped over miles, and placed on your grocery store shelves.  By the time this “fresh produce” hits your table, it is typically days if not a week or more old. 

    Farmers Markets provide fruits & vegetables that are grown seasonally and grown near to where you live, therefore keeping your food money in your community and providing you with real fresh produce.  When you eat what is in season food is at its most nutritious in addition to tasting delicious.  Those fresh peas & spinach in the Spring, berries & tomatoes ripe in Summer, and crisp apples in the Fall are loaded with vitamins & minerals.  Feast on butternut squash soups to keep yourself nourished in the harsh winter months.  You are cutting your ecological footprint by purchasing your food from local farmers (food miles count for 11% of your meal’s carbon footprint.).  Couple that with using reusable bags, not plastic packaging, voila.  Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs) have become a user-friendly way to buy local, seasonal food directly from a farmer.  The consumer purchases a share in a farmer’s product & receives a box weekly of seasonal produce throughout the season.

    Opt for Organic!  Organic foods are healthier for you, providing more beneficial nutrients, lowering levels of chemicals in your food, and containing no genetically modified (GMOs) ingredients.  “Organic” defines the methods & materials used by farmers to grow & process farm products including vegetables, fruits, grains, dairy products and meat.  No synthetic or sewage sludge fertilizers are added to soil, no synthetic pesticides are used for pest control, no irradiation is used to preserve food or rid of pests, no genetic engineering of crops used for disease or pest control or to increase crop harvests, and no antibiotics or growth hormones are used for farm animals.

    “Organic” does not mean the same thing as “natural.”  Natural on a food label means only that the product has no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives, having nothing to do with the way in which the food ingredients were grown.  The labels “free-range” or “hormone-free” do not mean that these items were grown organically.  Non organic foods are sprayed with extremely toxic chemicals which kill everything but the plant including beneficial insects and soil nutrients needed to grow the plant.  Then, because the soil has no organisms or nutrients to provide plant growth, synthetic fertilizers are used.  Millions of taxpayer dollars are handed out in subsidies for these extremely expensive, large scale, non-organic farming practices. 

    In purchasing organic foods, you are keeping toxins out of the air, out of the drinking water, and out of the soil.  And remember, everything ends up in the ocean, leaching through soil into aquifers, into nearby rivers & lakes, into our landfills, and into our air. 

    Organic farming supports pollinators and we need pollinators to support life on earth.  We need to maintain a level of biodiversity in plants, animals, insects, & birds. 

    Eat healthily.

  • 1 Mar 2023 12:32 PM | Megan Shellman-Rickard (Administrator)

    Environmentally displaced people are those who are forced to leave their homes and communities due to irreversible degradation of their environmental resources caused by sudden-onset events such as floods, wildfires, landslides, droughts, heat waves, or by slow-onset impacts such as desertification or sea level rise.  Secondary displacement occurs when people such as refugees, who are already displaced and typically reside in “hotspots”, must migrate again due to climate disasters.  Losing all of their assets and ability to produce food and unable to plan any future, these climate migrants are extremely vulnerable and suffer trauma.  Many women & girls are at high risk of gender-based violence.  The 1951 Refugee Convention “does not recognize the environment as a persecuting agent,” therefore people forced to leave their country for reasons related to climate stressors (over 145 million people in the past 6 years) cannot be considered refugees and do not receive refugee protections.   
    Environmental Inequity- air pollution, climate disasters, unsafe drinking water, poor housing- is directly related to social inequality.  “Environmental racism is a problem where racism exposes minority groups to worse effects of environmental issues.” (EPA report 2023).  The water crisis in Flint, Michigan, is an example: low-income, minority residents.  A new analysis by the EPA finds that “oil refineries release billions of pounds of pollution annually into waterways, and that pollution disproportionately affects people of color.”

    Heavy metals, nitrogen and other toxic compounds make these waterways dangerous for people to swim in, fish in and even touch.   Concentrated along the Gulf Coast, in California, and Chicago area, low-income communities all over the country are affected.  A recent headline in our local newspaper states, “EPA eyes Colorado for discriminatory pollution” and is investigating if Colorado’s air pollution regulations from industrial facilities is prejudicial against Hispanic and racial minority residents.  Another recent study of federal housing discrimination (Redlining) found that 45 million Americans are exposed to dirtier air, lower house values, lower job opportunities & poverty because race deemed their communities as “undesirable”.
    NFBPWC members can explore Environmental Law Institute ( which provides legal tools for environmentally displaced persons & effective livelihoods for climate migrants.

    Encourage your congressional representative to expand Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for climate migrants affected by slow-onset climate change (desertification and rising sea levels).  With expansion of TPS, citizens from these regions or countries could not be deported & could obtain a worker’s permit allowing them to establish a secure livelihood.
    New York City’s WE ACT for Environmental Justice strives to provide people of color and low-income residents environmental protection.  WE ACT led efforts to clean up air pollution from diesel city busses and pushed for mandates of statewide testing of school’s drinking water and forced upgrades at a noxious sewage treatment plant.  Notably all of these pollutants were most common in communities of color.
    Louisiana Bucket Bridge has been fighting against petroleum industry’s oil & chemical pollution impacting Black communities, “fence-line communities” describing people who live right next door to polluting facilities.
    We can no longer ignore the unfair price being asked of our world’s poor and minority communities.  We must prioritize sustainable development and poverty eradication by financing environmental justice and join local and community-led fights.

  • 1 Feb 2023 2:17 PM | Megan Shellman-Rickard (Administrator)

    Simple Acts to Reduce Food Waste, by Marikay Shellman, NFBPWC Environment and Sustainable Development Committee (2022-2024)

    A dismal fact: While 1 in 8 Americans- including over 10 million children- suffer from food insecurity every day, we throw away nearly 80 billion pounds of food every year; about $2500 for a family of four of food is tossed into the garbage yearly. ( Most of this food waste ends up in landfills contributing to 11% of greenhouse gas emissions, methane, carbon dioxide, chlorofluorocarbons & nitrogen pollutions.  This waste adds to the energy & resources it takes to produce this food- water, land, soil, labor, processing, & transportation.  We consumers are the #1 source of wasted food (   What Simple Acts can we make?

    • More than 80% of perfectly good food is discarded because we misunderstand food labels such as “sell by”, “use by”, “best by” and “expires by”.  According to FDA, these food packaging labels are “related to optimal quality-not safety” and are generally applied at the manufacturers’ discretion. 
    • Keep food fresh by properly storing.  has an interactive encyclopedia on food storage.  Don’t wash vegetables or fruit before storing.  Cut off tops of root vegetables to extend their shelf life & use greens for making broth.  Store foods that emit ethylene gas- apples, bananas, citrus & tomatoes- separately to prevent the gas from spoiling other foods faster. 
    •  The simplest preservation method is freezing which works with most foods.   Store leftovers in airtight containers & label them to avoid “the guessing game”.  What you can freeze: bananas with peel removed, grated hard cheese, pre-sliced bread, yogurt, low fat milk, Grapes, ginger, chilis, herbs to name a few. 
    • Save bones & vegetable scraps in a bag in the freezer to make homemade broth to be used for soups, sauces, & gravy.

    The good news is that several states are actively curbing food waste by passing laws that restrict the amount of food waste going into landfills (CA, CN, MS, NY, RI & VT).  Vermont’s “Universal Recycling Law” bans food scrap waste entirely which has increased by 40% food donations to Vermont Foodbanks.  CA, CO, & MS fund private sector composting & food collection programs.  MA & RI introduced legislation to reduce the amount of food waste in schools.  Thank your legislators if you live in one of these states.

    USDA & EPA set a goal to reduce food waste by half by 2030.  (

  • 1 Dec 2022 12:21 PM | Megan Shellman-Rickard (Administrator)
    The holiday season is upon us with shopping & gifting and time with family & friends. It’s a joyous time, but unfortunately also a time of great waste & use of energy. How can we make our celebrations more sustainable?

    Green Holiday Shopping

    Make sure that you bring your own reusable tote when shopping for gifts or groceries. And totes make great gifts. There are so many styles & flavors of tote bags from Shutterfly Photo Cotton Tote Bag with memorable family photos to fancy designed totes that can be reused for everyone’s shopping needs.

    Gifts that encourage sustainability such as a cookbook for leftovers or reusable carry-out containers are useful. Bar soaps purchased from bins at Whole Foods or Natural Grocers are always welcome. If you give gifts that require batteries include rechargeable batteries.

    We can all use more life experiences such as gift certificates to local restaurants or museums, upcoming concerts, movie theatres, art classes. Grandkids can give coupons of things they would do such as “One free Foot Massage”. The gift of time is the best you can give a loved one.

    Homemade gifts such as knitted or crocheted hat or scarf, herbed vinegars, jellies or jams, cookies, repurposed jewelry. My sister gives us a family calendar every year with photos, old & new, of our growing family. Such fun that we all submit photos year-long for her to include.

    Climate Friendly Wrapping

    Gift bags are a great alternative to wrapping paper and can be used over & over again. President Megan saved the Sunday Comics all year in which to wrap her gifts for this season. Another idea is to use the “wrapping” as part of the gift such as a garden pot filled with garden supplies or mixing bowl filled with goodies for the kitchen. I am always envious of the beautiful woven totes I see many women carry when shopping at Farmers Markets. Perfect to fill with breads or cookies. Make your own reusable gift bags; one needs only a glue gun, scissors, cloth, & ribbon.

    Environmental Holiday Decorations

    LED (Light Emitting Diode) lights are not only 90% more efficient than traditional lights, but they also last much longer. Many big box stores offer recycling or holiday light exchange programs for those old energy-sapping lights.

    Rather than an artificial tree, cut trees are a much greener choice with, of course purchasing a potted native evergreen tree to be replanted after the holidays being the best. Stay away from tinsel & plastic ornaments (see NFBPWC ESD September 2022 newsletter on PLASTICS). Ornaments from berries, evergreen branches, dried flowers, & herbs add an essence of fragrance to your home.

    Green Parties

    It's time to bring out all those beautiful dishes and silverware. Avoid plasticware, paper plates & napkins. Stay away from individually packaged drinks. Purchase locally grown produce & foods whenever possible. Many Farmers Markets offer holiday markets for just this purpose. Plan your menu to minimize food waste. Ask guests to bring reusable containers to send them home with leftovers. Donate leftover food to local food banks and compost food that is not donated.

    By: Marikay Shellman, Chair, NFBPWC Environment and Sustainable Development Committee (2022-2024)

    Every member of the ESD Committee contributed to this article for our magazine:  Sue Oser, Daneene Monroe Rusnak, Megan Shellman Rickard & Laurie Dameron

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