Reforestation, Solar Power and Electric Cars

Apr 22, 2015

At a cafe I was working at today, serendipity sat me next to the electric car and solar power expert I had been wanting to reach out to. He turned and said “Happy Earth Day," as if he knew it would be well-received. After learning who he was we had an illuminating discussion about electric cars, pollution and solar power. Later on I joined a Google Hangout to learn more about Eden Projects, an organization that is saving lives through reforestation. Here is a recap of my fun Earth Day encounters and some helpful tips.

***We are excited to announce that when we refer you to a retreat or training, 33 trees are planted through Eden Projects on your behalf. Read on to learn more about this initiative!***

What is important in this struggle to “not get evicted” from our home (creating an uninhabitable environment for humans), is that we “bring each other on this journey.” Wise words from Gerry Gaydos, an Electric vehicle and solar energy advisor here in Victoria, BC who I met randomly on Earth Day, naturally! Just days ago I took a picture of a poster advertising his upcoming lecture about how we can - indeed / yes / you betcha - afford the switch to driving an electric vehicle. He explained how we cannot afford our addiction to fossil fuels, unless we want to get evicted permanently, aka, extinction. I've included highlights from our conversation at the end for your pleasure.

Earth_Day.jpgRight after Gerry and I spoke, I sat in on a Google hangout with Eden Projects Org, who are more about saving lives than planting trees. However after listening to them, it's clear they are THE people to approach to learn everything about reforestation: the science, politics and challenges. They know a lot about hardships impoverished communities face across the world because they are working with them, getting emotionally involved. During the hangout they each got teary-eyed at some point, as did I.

Something can be done and “we can heal the planet, as we heal people,” said Roger Hoesterey, Eden Projects CEO. I got such a heart-felt answer from Steve Fitch, Eden Projects President and Founder, when I asked if they received more applicants from villagers than there are jobs available. With genuine concern and motivation in his face he said it’s a big problem for them, sometimes having to turn away even single mothers though they wish they didn't have to. He sees first-hand the incredibly powerful and positive impact Eden Projects can have on communities, so he knows it's possible to offer more. If they can keep growing their impact and reach, they can provide more jobs in impoverished areas, improving and saving the lives of so many. I'll explain “saving lives" after we dig into deforestation.

What’s the problem with deforestation? Plenty, but let’s focus on the worst of it:

  1. Impoverished communities: the forests act as sponges providing natural protection from flooding/ tsunamis, provide nutrient-rich soil for growing food and act as a water purifier. Without them communities face challenges like having no drinking water, no crops, and are vulnerable to devastating effects of flooding.
  2. Loss of animal habitat: the way things exist and the REASON we are able to be here - is due to a delicate, formidable integration of all beings, fauna and elemental conditions. Do we really want to take the risk of creating imbalance in this system? More importantly, we are losing these wondrous creatures.
  3. Dramatic rise in modern slavery: as subsistence farming fails in communities because there is a lack of nutrient-rich soil, people are desperate for food and money. They migrate to cities to find work, only to find more people doing the same. Mass unemployment and poverty leaves these people vulnerable to sex and labor slavery. It is estimated there are 30 million slaves as a result of environmental destruction.

Oh ya, and there's this thing called Global Warming but I'm not sure I believe the hype, with all these crazy weather patterns and rising ocean temperature problems. (Are you catching my sarcastic drift?).

Deforestation is cranking up the heat. Our landlord just got the heating bill and she's pissed.

This is just a snapshot of the effects; deforestation impacts us collectively in many ways. However there is hope. Just as the trees can be cut down, they can also be planted, nurtured and forests rebuilt. The animals, the water and fertile soil returns. Roger got choked up telling a story about an elder in a village where Eden's new forest was growing. The elder was amazed and said it was the first time there had been water there in 50 years.

Some other notables about Eden Projects:

  • Employing to plant: this is where Eden Projects has seen the greatest immediate impact, improving and saving lives in communities where they are planting. In one community alone they are employing 3,500 part-time villagers, who for the first time are paid in cash. Steve said often it’s women that become incredibly enterprising, developing new businesses with the influx of cash and capitalizing on their new wealth.
  • Educating lifestyle changes to improve health: they connect communities with solar-powered ovens to prevent the smoke from burning charcoal, and incidences of tuberculosis decrease. Also, Eden Projects educates local villagers on sustainable agriculture so they can feed themselves and profit from agri-business.
  • Sustainable future for communities: 10 percent of the trees are grown for food, construction and fuel wood to provide more benefits to locals. Eg. in Madagascar the locals wanted to plant tons of coconut trees because they can earn 10 cents per coconut.
  • They truly care: the 2010 earthquake caused a major set-back to Eden’s work in Haiti, but this didn’t deter them! Haiti remains one of the most environmentally degraded countries. They worked with over 50 schools across Haiti, training 500 Haitian elementary teachers in the skills needed to start a small nursery and grow seedlings at their schools. These teachers incorporate their new skills in the curriculum in environmental science and allow students to grow seedlings of their own.

For more information on how reforestation prevents modern slavery, check out Steve Fitch’s article in Elephant Journal.

Half of Earth's forests have been cut down in the past 100 years, with the majority in the past 55 years. We need to take responsibility and reforest this beautiful planet, if nothing else for our own survival and safety. Steve discusses the effect of reforestation on communities:

How ISIY contributes
We are supporting three organizations at the moment, including our new campaign to support Eden Reforestation Projects, please check it out and donate if you have a moment. On top of this if you inquire about a retreat and then book it through ISIY, we will plant 33 trees on your behalf! We also donate yearly to Oceana and Surfrider Foundation.

What everyone can do

Out with the old, in with the new:

  1. Understand the effects of your lifestyle: know where your food comes from and how your purchasing power influences entities larger than you. Big agribusinesses won't protect communities or care for land when money is at stake For e.g. when soy milk became a thing: “In Brazil, where a pattern had developed of expanding soy production by direct forest clearing and by pushing cattle ranching off pastureland and into forested areas..." From Stanford News)
  2. Devote time to researching issues and non-profits: the second half of the quote above: "...a campaign by Greenpeace and others resulted in agreements by key companies to rein in their expansion. Instead, they worked to increase production on land already in agricultural use.” Support organizations like Greenpeace to make changes either through volunteering or donating money.
  3. Buy local, organic food and reducing your consumption of beef: reduce your carbon footprint dramatically by avoiding meat that has been raised unethically. Too many details for this blog, so you’ll just have to trust me that you are saving the world by doing this.
  4. Grow your own food: avoid trips to the grocery store altogether by gardening or trading with neighbors that garden (1 Litre of kombucha for 3 garlic bulbs and a cucumber?.. deal!).

Increase oxygen production and reduce CO2 emissions:

  1. Plant trees in your own neighborhood using local seeds.
  2. Eat farmed mussels, clams and oysters: these little suckers actually soak up pollutants / excess nutrients converting them into healthy protein - yummy stuff. However to be sure, as not all farming practices are safe, check out Seafood Watch Resources page to find healthy sources.
  3. Ride a bike, take transit or buy an electric car: (notice my attempt to make the last one mainstream? Should be!) or if all else fails, walk or SUP to your destination! ;)
  4. Invest in Solar energy: it’s transportable, easy to use, storable, and only getting cheaper as more people employ it in their homes/ cars /machinery/ at work.
  5. Stop investing in polluting industries with your hard-earned money. Trust me, bragging to your friends about your new BMW that you could afford from playing the stock market isn't impressive when your choking on CO2 emissions in the future. None of that matters in the end.

Travel lighter and greener:

  1. Avoid drinking from plastic bottles: check out Travelers Against Plastic whose vision is to “Catalyze a self-sustaining global movement resulting it the near-elimination of travelers’ dependence on plastic water bottles.” Take their pledge and learn how to prepare yourself pre-trip.
  2. Attend and do your own personal beach cleanups: since our ocean produces half of our oxygen, let’s show it a little loving shall we? Plastic is wreaking havoc on marine life - it does not belong in the sea. Join or support Surfrider Foundation who protects the ocean and our access to surf. Learn about Surfrider's history here and what their top 10 environment priorities are for 2015.
  3. Carry reusable bags wherever you go: stuff them in every pocket and corner of your pack - they will come in handy, once you start seeing the copious amounts of plastic bags used on your travels, you'll be stoked to not part-take in this nasty habit. Plus you are paving the way by showing others how easy it is.

How to help others
Be a role model.


The work of Eden Projects is life-changing, life-saving stuff. iSurf iYoga wants to help and you can help too by either donating directly, spreading the word and/or booking a trip with one of our affiliates through us.

For those community elders who once enjoyed the beauteous, natural gifts a forest provides, like clean drinking water and nutrient-rich soil for growing crops - let us help them see their land rebuilt like they remember as children before they pass on.

Happy Earth Week to you all!



As promised, some highlights from my convo with Gerry:

  • the guilt we carry about our participation in the state of our environment goes unacknowledged and the more it remains unacknowledged the worse people behave (like a child that misbehaved but not shown why, yet they feel badly so they do more of it). In general, the shame is widely accepted and known; however, the guilt resides deeper within us. Without acknowledging this guilt by recognizing that we’ve made a mistake - a mistake we keep living out day after day - things won't change as fast as they need to.
  • this mistake is not pointing to someone or something to blame as we are all involved. We were born as one species and what we do here on this planet affects us as one species. We need to set the example; people think it is up to industry but we are responsible for 30% of CO2 emissions from driving cars alone.
  • Gerry said when he helps someone buy an electric car and reduce their footprint - he sees a shift in their attitude and even their body, like some huge weight has been lifted off their shoulders. This is the guilt that we are carrying. It is possible to build a new world, post-carbon, where we'll be up to all sorts of neat things, including traveling but doing it in a way that adds beauty to the world rather than destroying.
  • there are so many solutions but we think we can’t employ them. With think we are powerless or it’s outside of the scope of what we can achieve. We just need to do it, to seek out answers, use these magnificent brains of ours and implement new ways of going about our ‘business.’ We have options and alternatives AND, get this - we are smart enough to figure out how to use them.
  • we are cutting off our oxygen supply: the part of the atmosphere that contains the life-giving oxygen that WE DEPEND ON is small and already becoming mixed with increasing CO2 and methane levels while oxygen depletes. It’s dangerous for humans to be in an environment with low oxygen levels (try holding your breath for a couple minutes!) Our brains and organs depend on it. The problem is the ocean’s plankton and other life sucks up CO2 & methane like nobody’s business but we are killing it off with the rising heat in the atmosphere. Double whammy! Eviction notice posted on the front door says “Pay up or get out.”
  • We can and must pay up! If we act now - if we change our routines and ‘bring others on our journey’ we’ll be looking back one day on our cars, seeing them like old-fashioned horse-drawn carriages, that are literally shitting on the air! (nice one Gerry!).

Category: ISIY Journal

Stacey Jones

Profile_stacey.jpgMarketer, Writer, Teacher.  Having been a yogi and surfer for over a decade, Stacey decided to attend a surf yoga retreat.  She found it time-consuming sorting out which retreat to attend and who to support with her hard-earned money. From this hatched iSurf iYoga, a website for wave-sliding yoginis to come together to share their journeys and where they can easily find inspiring, sustainable adventures. Other passions: mountain biking, skiing, boarding (all kinds), raw food, turtles, chocolate, Sci-fi and traveling.  She fell in love with traveling on a four month trip to South East Asia on her first adventure 14 years ago. "Just like the experience of surfing the first time, I felt like I came alive."

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