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May 2013

5 Easy Things You Can Do To Make an Eco-Difference

5 Easy Things You Can Do To Make an Eco-Difference by Ladye Jane VickersThis Earth Day, April 22, we wanted to celebrate the day by providing some simple, everyday alternatives that can make a big difference to the environment. We posted five things on Facebook that we can all easily do to make daily adjustments in environmentally-friendly ways. Because environmental stewardship plays such an integral role here at Broadreach, we wanted to reshare, or recycle (see what we did there), a few small things that can make a big difference.

Did you know that only 1% of water on the planet is available for use? It's a resource that we need to use mindfully, and below are a few easy changes we can make to use less:

• Only run your dishwasher when it's completely full. Think of it like a puzzle and see just how many dishes you can get into one run!

• Don't pre-wash your dishes before putting them in the washer. EPA tests show it doesn't affect the cleanliness and it is a huge waste of water to boot. Just a quick douse of water to get off the larger pieces of food should suffice. If you don’t have a dishwasher and do dishes by hand, don’t keep the water running in-between dishes and you’ll save each load.

• Only run your washing machine when completely full as well.

Thinking about driving to that thing you’ve got later that’s a mile or two away? Save the gas it takes to drive there and walk! You'll not only save on gas emissions, but will do healthy things for body and mood in the process. It doesn't cost you a thing but your own energy to ride a bike or walk somewhere! It may mean you need to plan ahead to make sure you’ve got plenty of time to get there, but by the time you do, you’ll be energized and ready to take on anything.

Saving food scraps and compostable materials for your compost not only reduces your trash output, but provides you with healthy soil for spring and summer planting!

For those that are not familiar with composting, it is saving all of your organic waste, which could be vegetable and fruit scraps, food waste, leaves and other organic matter. As it decomposes, it leaves behind a nutrient-rich soil that is a garden’s dream. It’s easier to do than you think it is; you can compost in barrels or even by using hay piles in the yard.

Here is a great long reference list of all the different things you can compost and keep out of landfills:

Creative reuse of materials is the number one way to keep things out of the trash bin and then in landfills or our oceans. Have an old t-shirt that you don't want anymore? Cut it up into pieces and use as dust rags (and save trees in the process by not using paper towels)! I can’t recycle those little tags that come on my bread, so what should I do with them? Here is a link with a GREAT list of creative re-use projects that are not only environmentally friendly but are fun as well.

Know where most plastic bags that get thrown away end up? That's right, in our oceans. Next time you're at the store, bring your own reusable bags and together we can keep tons of plastic out of our oceans. Better yet, instead of buying reusable bags, you could re-purpose one of those old t-shirts we mentioned earlier into a bag and turn grocery shopping into a fashion statement!

The Most Adorable Fish in the Sea

adorable juvenile trunkfishImogen Hoyle, Broadreach Academic Director

The most adorable fish you will ever lay eyes on, that is, if you're actually lucky enough to spot one of these tiny and elusive creatures, is the juvenile trunkfish. They’re affectionately known by marine life lovers as “the sea pea” because they’re basically the same size as the little veggie, which makes them exceptionally difficult to spot among the coral reefs of the Caribbean. While they’re hard to spot, they are super inquisitive, so will come out of their hiding spots often to check out what’s going on if they detect activity.

Part of the boxfish family, the pea grows into a beautifully spotted box-shaped fish (hence the name). Interesting side note – apparently in 2006, Mercedes-Benz was so inspired by the fish’s physique that they designed their 2006 Bionic concept car after the yellow version of the species.

As they grow older, they develop a pair of distinctive puffy pair of lips that they use to spurt jets of water into the sand to flush out any small buried invertebrates; their favorites being crustaceans and mollusks. As omnivores, they’re also big fans of seaweed and sponges.

Trunkfish are one of the few daytime ‘invert feeders’ because they come with their own line of defense. Their self-defense mechanism is secreting a colorless ostracitoxin from glands on its skin when it feels threatened or is touched by something, so you can look at this cute ‘lil guy, but don’t eat or touch! Don’t worry if you spot one though; the toxin is only toxic when ingested.

If you’re on one of our programs in the Caribbean, Bahamas, or Bonaire this summer, keep an eye out for the peas of the sea. They’ll definitely be watching out for you!

Watch a video of the sea pea in action.
We didn't have a photo of a pea, so we used one from this website.

Program Spotlight

dolphin studies program for teens in BelizeEncounter wild bottlenose dolphins in their natural habitat while you do field work with researchers from the Belizean Oceanic Society and help collect data for ongoing research. Not only will you earn college credit, you'll dive uninhabited Cayes and the second longest barrier reef, snorkel the Blue Hole, go cave tubing, sailing and kayaking.

Alumni News

Appreciating the Differences

by Virginia Hanstad

My eyes are locked on the screen. Next to me Raymond, my homestay father, and Martine, my homestay mother, sit anxiously. Their bodies are tense and their hands grip the sides of the couch. No one dared to look away from the TV. On screen is the quarter final for the women’s basketball Olympic Championship—France versus the Czech Republic. It is a tight game and with less than a minute left France is down by two points. Then suddenly we all watch as the ball soars into the basket—it is a three point shot bringing France into the lead. I find myself screaming with joy, jumping out of my seat along with Raymond and Martine. In that moment, I do not feel like an American student staying with a French family, I feel comfortable, like a part of their family.

Never in my entire life had I ever expected to find myself rooting for another country during the Olympics and yet, this is exactly what happened on my trip to Guadeloupe. Living in a different country, where the people speak a different language than your own and living with a family that is not your own is a major adjustment. I remember during my first few days with Raymond and Martine all I could do was notice the differences between them, my homestay family, and my real family back home in America. Everything was different; from what they ate to what they said to what they did every day. I was worried that I would leave Raymond and Martine’s house just as uncomfortable as when I had arrived and I did not want that. I did not just want to see Guadeloupian culture, I wanted to immerse myself in it. That one minute of the basketball game allowed me to do that. In that one minute of my trip I learned something that I had not been able to fully understand up to that point: at the core all people are similar in one way or another. We may have different tastes, we may live in different places, we may have different customs and yet we are all united. We are linked across boundaries and across time by our smiles, our passion, our pride, and our love. This is why it was so easy for me to cheer alongside a family that was not my own, for a team that was not my own.

Often in life, people point out the differences among people. Living in such a way is the root of many problems in our society. People judge and people make assumptions. My Broadreach experience taught me that it is okay to notice the differences between people and to appreciate the differences, but that I also need to be open minded and I need to look beyond my first impression and dig deeper… because, underneath the first layer there is so much more.

It was on that warm summer night in Guadeloupe with Raymond and Martine that a bond was formed. I am forever linked to that night, to that island, and to that family. Now I only hope to establish more links, creating an ever lengthening chain that connects me to all the amazing people and places that the world has to offer.

Virginia Hanstad went on our West Indies French Immersion program in 2012 and is a Broadreach Alumni Ambassador.

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