Things That Matter

7 Ways Latinos Go Above And Beyond To Be Eco-Friendly

A group of Latinos came together in Washington, D.C., recently for GreenLatinos, an event dedicated spreading awareness on environmental practices and causes. Many attendees talked about passing legislation to save the planet, and they agreed that Latinos are already eco-friendly af.

Here are some of the ways GreenLatino attendees claim Latinos go above and beyond in saving the planet.

1. There’s nothing like reusing your old clothes as cleaning rags.

CREDIT: mitú

“My mom used to have all of our t-shirts in a pile and she would sit there on Sundays and cut them up into little rags,” Greisa Martinez Rosas, the advocacy director of United We Dream says. “It wasn’t a green thing. It was more of a money thing.”

2. We will always reuse that butter container as Tupperware.

CREDIT: mitú

“At least in my house, they always told me to turn off the lights because it’s cheaper, so they’re low-key trying to save money,” Laura Di Lorenzo, mitú video producer and emcee at the GreenLatinos event. “They don’t even know they’re being green. They’re just being cheap. That’s something my parents did. They reuse ziplock bags and Tupperware. We recycle clothes. If I have a big cousin, I’ll inherent their clothes. Not that I want to, I’m just kind of forced into it.”

3. Your old clothes probably became a very uncomfortable pillow.

CREDIT: Calvin Klein / Giphy

“They usually turn out to be really hard and uncomfortable, but it’s a great way to recycle old shirts,” Rep. Jimmy Gomez of California’s 34th district says.

4. Some times you need to skip the towel after the shower.

CREDIT: That 70s Show / FOX

One Congressperson, who shall remain anonymous, admits that sometimes after a shower they skip the towel and dry off naturally. Not a bad idea if you want to conserve power and water.

5. We are experts in how long you can wear clothes before having to wash it.

CREDIT: Twin Peaks On Showtime / GIPHY

“I wait longer before I wash my clothes,” Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragán of California’s 44th district says. “I use it more before I have to go put it in the laundry and use detergent and more water. I don’t sweat very much so it’s probably easier to do that.”

6. We carpool like no other because there are a lot of us.

CREDIT: The Late Late Show with James Corden / CBS

“I have arranged for rides with friends that are heading into downtown,” Rep. Ruben Gallego of Arizona’s 7th district says. “Even though they couldn’t drop me off exactly at my spot, I would walk the last 5 blocks to get to my spot which is crazy in Phoenix to do that.”

7. We get every last bit of toothpaste out of the tube.

CREDIT: mitú

“We recycle some times out of need. We reuse the same bags. We use the same containers,” Henry Sanchez, chair of the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda and Executive Director of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA), says.”We try to be very careful about using things like toothpaste to the fullest. It’s something that comes in our nature.”

To learn more about GreenLatinos, check out their website here.


READ: Our Parents Were Recycling Before It Even Existed

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It Could Be Time To Say Goodbye To Your Salsa Forever As Tomatoes And Chilies Are In Danger Of Going Extinct

Culture

It Could Be Time To Say Goodbye To Your Salsa Forever As Tomatoes And Chilies Are In Danger Of Going Extinct

Pixabay

Two of Latin America’s most important ingredients – staples of cuisines across the region – are in danger of possible extinction thanks to climate change. Tomatoes and chilies both make up a huge part of traditional recipes from Mexico to Brazil and Argentina to Cuba – and they’re close to disappearing from grocery stores everywhere.

We know that tomato and chili are two fundamental ingredients in Mexican cuisine. Due to the threats suffered by its main pollinator, the bumblebee, these basic ingredients could disappear forever.

Climate change is wreaking havoc on the planet. But one of the most at-risk species is the humble bumble bee. These often feared insects are a vital source of pollination for thousands of plant and flower species around the world – if they disappear so too do the species of plants that depend on them.

Pollinators are species of great importance for a healthy environment. They are responsible for the the diversity and health of various biomes. Across Latin America, the bumble bee is largely responsible for the pollination of modern agriculture and this could have a major impact on the production of tomatoes and chilis.

Unfortunately, bumblebees are currently threatened, resulting in the possible extinction of different vegetables, including tomatoes and chili.

But why does the tiny bumble bee matter at all?

The bumble bee belongs to the insect family Apidae, which includes hundeds of different species of bumblebees. In fact, the bumble bee can be found on every continent except Antarctica and plays an outsized role in agriculture. The insects are often larger than honey bees, come in black and white varieties and often feature white, yellow, or orange stripes. This genus belongs to the Apidae family that includes different species commonly known as bumblebees. They’re almost entirely covered by very silky hairs. An adult bumblebee reaches 20 millimeters or more and feeds primarily on nectar from flowering plants. A curious fact is that females have the ability to sting, while males do not.

Bumblebees are epic pollinators of the tomato and chili plantS. Together with different species, the bumblebee helps produce many staple foods that are part of healthy diets around the world. If these become extinct the eating habits of all Latinos would suffer drastic changes as several vegetables would disappear.

So why are bumblebees in danger?

The main threat of these insects is the pesticides used in modern agriculture. That is why it is necessary to avoid consuming food produced in this way. We can all help the bumblebee planting plants, protecting native species and especially not damaging their natural environment.

But climate change is also wreaking havoc on the breeding patters of bumblebees – leading to colony collapse. With fewer colonies there is less breeding and therefore fewer bees around the world to pollinate our global crops.

Can you imagine a world without tomatoes or chilies?

Salsa. Moles. Pico de gallo. Ketchup. Chiles rellenos. Picadillo. All of these iconic Latin American dishes would be in danger of going extinct along with the bumblebee – because what’s a mole without the rich, complex flavors of dried chilies?

Several groups are already working hard to help fund programs that would work to conserve the dwindling bumblebee populations. While others are working out solutions that could perhaps allow tomatoes and chilies to self-pollinate – much as other plants already do.

Pablo Escobar Once Had Four Pet Hippos, Now There’s More Than 80 And They’re Destroying Colombia’s Ecosystem

Things That Matter

Pablo Escobar Once Had Four Pet Hippos, Now There’s More Than 80 And They’re Destroying Colombia’s Ecosystem

James Breeden / TripAdvisor

Pablo Escobar is known for many things, among them being one of the world’s most prolific drug lords. His Medellín cartel basically invented the modern-day drug business model – which continues to plague communities around the world.

However, there’s one part of Escobar’s life that few know about – the drug kingpin also had a menagerie of exotic animals that he kept as pets, including four giant African hippos.

The former drug lord‘s pet hippos have exploded in population and are wreaking havoc on the environment.

Escobar kept a large number of exotic animals – including lions, rare birds, giraffes, and hippos – as pets at his Medellin compound. When he was killed in 1993, most of the animals were moved to zoos, however, the hippos were left to fend for themselves. And apparently they’ve thrived on their own.

It was not possible to move the hippos and the animals soon lived near the Magdalena River. Their number has grown over the years and is now nearly 80. According to a study published in the journal Ecology, the hippos have become an invasive species and are destroying the aquatic ecosystem.

The region’s water supply is under threat thanks to hippo waste.

A team of researchers from the University of California at San Diego and the Universidad Pedagógica y Tecnológica de Colombia investigated the water quality of the lakes where hippos live, and compared them to lakes where they are not.

According to the study, hippos separate large amounts of waste into the lakes, changing the chemistry and oxygen levels of the water. This is because the excreted waste fertilizes harmful algae and bacteria.

According to Jonathan Shurin, lead author of the study, the hippos have a major impact on the ecosystem in their native Africa. He said a similar impact was seen when they were imported into an entirely new continent.

The Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar was known for his love of exotic animals.

He was once the owner of a grand estate, Hacienda Nápoles, just under 100 miles east of Medellin. In the early 1980s, Escobar built an illegal zoo full of rhinos, giraffes, zebras and hippos on his estate.

After his death it was seized by the government and now acts as a safari theme park. Most of the exotic animals that he housed in the on site zoo were re-homed. Except the hippos. Now, scientists say, the four original hippos now number around 80 and are having a detrimental effect on Colombian waters. 

While some remain in the current theme park, some slipped through the flimsy gate and are now feral. 

Escobar bought the hippos from a zoo in California and flew them to his ranch in the early 1980s. Left to themselves on his Napoles Estate, they bred to become supposedly the biggest wild hippo herd outside Africa.

Escobar’s hippos have become feral, living in at least four lakes in the area and spreading into neighboring rivers – confounding the problem.

The crime lord’s hippos are also much more sexually active than their cousins in Africa because of the perfect conditions, shallow water and no drought. 

All the fertile females are reported to be giving birth to a calf every year, the BBC said in 2014. And this is a problem for the water, if not local farmers who risk their wrath while working.  

“If you plot out their population growth, we show that it tends to go exponentially skyward. In the next couple of decades there could be thousands of them,” according to Jonathan Shurin, of UCSD.