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Topic of the Week! September 18, 2013

Filed under: Just Bonsai — Mary @ 6:03 pm
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Hi everyone!

Bonsai is going to be starting a new feature called the “Bonsai Topic of the Week.” This is how it works: every week, we’ll have a new topic on which we’ll be posting topics. This will not only make things more organized, but you’ll also get more in-depth knowledge on ways to help the world, or at least be aware of the problems that need to be fixed.

The topic for this week (September 16-21) is Ocean Conservation, as can be seen on the right-hand side of the blog. Some topics you might see in upcoming weeks are:

  • The Rainforest
  • Energy Conservation
  • Garbage
  • Wildlife
  • etc., etc.

If you want to suggest topics for us to cover in the future, you can head over to the About page & leave a comment. If you want to submit your work, go on over to the Submit Your Work page and submit it! We’re always glad to hear from you, glorious followers.

Love you guys!

Ceej & Mary

 

To Volunteer or Not to Volunteer – That is the Question August 27, 2013

Filed under: Education,Literacy — Mary @ 6:36 am
Tags: , ,

Hey everybody! You may or may not know this, but every staff member of Bonsai is required to complete one “large” assignment to help the world in real time over the course of a year and then post about it. As far as I know, this is the first one done. I asked Ceej (the lady in charge) if I could use volunteering at the library as my large assignment for helping people this year. I volunteered for 68.5 hours (I think), which may seem like a lot, but my friend McKenna got 101.25. Because she subbed for everyone. Almost.

What did I do while I volunteered? Well, there were two types of things you could sign up for – events and desk shifts. At the beginning of the summer, based on your availability, you were assigned certain desk shifts and recurring events. Throughout the summer, you could sign up for open slots at the desk and for events that occur only once, so you weren’t assigned to come beforehand.

Some events that were held included LEGO Club, Discovery Days, Wednesdays@1, Disc Golf in the Library, Teen Minute to Win It, Yarn Crafts, Origami, Fearless Crafters, READ to a Dog, Stuffed Animal Sleepover Party, and Give Peace a Chance. I volunteered at the LEGO Club (which happened over a span of four weeks), one Discovery Day, and Give Peace a Chance, while I attended Disc Golf in the Library and Teen Minute to Win It. When I volunteered, I would help set things up, pick things up, and help kids stay on task and give advice and at Give Peace a Chance I served cake.

The volunteers.

When you were at the desk, you would sit there (sometimes with another volunteer) and wait for people to sign up for the Summer Reading Program (SRP). Basically, you got their information, entered it into the computer & gave them their form, where they could fill in the boxes for the amount of time/pages they read. For the first two weeks, that was all you could do – sign people up and answer questions and associate yourself with your fellow volunteer. After those first miserable weeks, kids started coming back to collect their prizes, which you could get after you reached a certain checkpoint on your form. There were four prizes in all. You could give them Overtime Reading Tickets, tickets that would enter them in a random drawing for even more prizes (or you could forget about it and feel sorry for the child who missed a grand opportunity). There were 4 different programs: Preschool, K-5, 6-8, and High School-Adult. Each program gave you different prizes and different reading records and different amounts of time you had to read.

So that was how I spent my summer – reading, encouraging kids/young adults/adults to read books, serving cake, and building towers of LEGOs.

Does your library offer volunteering? Is there some other fun volunteering you could do in your community next summer? Think about it, and help your community! 🙂

 

Could It Possibly Be? August 26, 2013

After paper is made, there is left over wood pulp that has been sheared off so the surface of the sheet is smooth and able to be written on or ran through a printer. Once this pulp is gone it cannot be reused, as it is already dried and would not work properly if re-wet.
Where does it go, exactly? Wouldn’t you love to know – wait…promise you won’t hate me. This surplus of wood pulp goes into your food, that’s what. Can you believe it? No?
Well, you will.
McDonald’s McFlurries: (By the way , note how they do not say ‘McShake’s’ or something equally corny. Why, you dare to ask? Because it is not real milk. But that’s only the tip of the iceberg.) They are thick, creamy, delicious goblets of liquidated heaven, with maybe a few OreoTM bits stirred in. Or, that’s what they want you to think. In reality, you are so eagerly slurping up wood. Cellulose, one of the key compotes produced and inside wood, thickens food and gives it the texture similar to what flour or oil would provide. Some absolute genius discovered this, and now the cheapskate fast food restaurants are thinking…’JACKPOT!’ And not just restaurants… but companies as well. They have gone to the dark side.
Kraft Bagel-Fuls
Aunt Jemima’s ‘home made’ Maple Syrup
Processed Cheese
Guess what one organic ingredient these have in common? (HINT: …cellulose….)
Surprise! I think I ruined somebody’s happy illusion of delicious fast food. And I’m sorry, if that indeed is the case. But you people need to know what you’re really eating. If the human body ingests cellulose, it is completely indigestible. Instead, it sloshes around your stomach for a while until your body decides to get rid of it (don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about)
How disgusting is that?!
Well, happy fast-food eating! BEWARE THE EXCESS WOOD PULP!
-Kat

Sources: http://www.cracked.com/article_19433_the-6-most-horrifying-lies-food-industry-feeding-you.html
http://mcdonalds.org

Oh, Fun Fact Of The Day! Some loaves of bread have equal wood concent of the (yep! you guessed it!) wooden cutting board they may be sitting on.

 

Shark Finning- The Cruel Industry August 19, 2013

Shark finning is a disgusting way of gathering food, and sadly, it is on the rise. Fishermen will catch a shark, remove all fins for consumption and trading, and throw the shark back into the ocean, dismembered and traumatized. The shark, without its fins, can hardly swim and will sink to the bottom, starve to death, or be attacked by another animal. This is not the natural cycle. It is not the way sharks were meant to live, and most certainly not the way sharks were meant to die. Many people enjoying their shark fin soup are not even aware of the inhumane practices that go into it. According to the Endangered Shark Database, more than 1/4 of all sharks are being commercially exploited, and their survival in the long-term is doubtful. 

English: NOAA agent counting confiscated shark...

 

 

You can help. We here at Bonsai never underestimate the power of a good petition, and in this case, we’ve got plenty for you. You too can add your virtual signature and join the movement to stop shark finning. A large masterlist of petitions can be found at http://www.stopsharkfinning.net/stop-shark-finning-petitions/, and the rest of the website is helpful and fascinating as well. Shark finning is an abusive practice that harms many sharks, including endangered ones, the species of whom are already in danger. You can help spread awareness about shark finning in your community, there are many ways. First of all, you can immediately strike interest in people who have been blind to the practices before whenever you are confronted with shark fin soup. Refusing to eat it and asking others to is a small, but effective way to help. stopsharkfinning.net says, “If local communities realise that they can make more money by conserving sharks than by killing them, then we will ensure the survival of sharks. If you are considering a holiday in a location where there are sharks, you might want to go shark diving. This is a source of income for communities that encourages shark conservation.”

 

 

 

Ocean activities are a large tourist attraction that won’t harm the wildlife. Speak to restaurants offering shark fin soup or marketplaces allowing it to be sold and tell them how it is harming the ecosystem and our oceans. Check out the rest of the Stop Shark Finning webpage for other ideas, if you’re wondering what to do. Together, we can get ban shark finning in as many places as possible, and save the sharks.

Related Articles

Ceej

 

How To Help the Environment Without a Drivers Liscense July 9, 2013

The title is basically a clever way of me telling you that even if you are not an adult and can not give out personal information, drive cars, travel, or handle the electricity bill, you can still help to save the environment and have an impact on our small, small world. (That is actually quite large but small in the grand scheme of things.) The following may seem like small things, but they do great things. (This is kind of similar to the lazy environmentalist post from about a month ago, but many of our followers are teens/tweens and there are other things they can do.)

  1. Donate money to an organization that helps a cause you care about. Not everyone has the time to start organizations about important things, but even if you go on earning your usual amount of money doing chores, babysitting, or, if you’re old enough, doing a job, but setting aside some of your money to give to foundations like The Humane Society or the rainforest or adopting a dolphin or gorilla (not literally; there are programs where you send money that will help a gorilla or dolphin or what have you survive).
  2. Consider doing the simple things that your parents always nag you about. Whether it’s turning the lights off when you leave the room, not littering, using less water, taking shorter showers, or even playing outside (since you aren’t using electricity outside, you are helping the environment), it helps a great deal. You may think that just you doing these things will do nothing at all, but that isn’t true. If everyone who sees this does this little bit, it will help lots of things — fewer electricity will be used, less coal will be burned, fresh water will be saved, animals lives will last a little bit longer. You can do a lot in a little bit of time.
  3. Start getting crafty! By this I mean to start reusing things rather than throwing them away quickly, before all their use is gone. This may seem old-fashioned and annoying, and it kind of is. I myself have a grandmother who never throws anything away, even meat juice. Seriously. Sometimes when she stays with us for a weekend or whatever, I open the fridge and find a container of meat juice. But when you reuse things, it doesn’t have to have anything to do with meat juice, I assure you. Whether it’s using scraps of fabric, plastic, and used bottle caps in crafts or decorations, using bread-bags to carry things instead of just throwing them away, or even reusing your plastic water bottles by refilling them with water because hey! They can still hold water. You can even use candy wrappers as decorations if you’re working on a big project — that’s what my friends and I did when we were building a house out of foam and furnishing it without buying anything for school.
  4. Give your parents a break. No, you don’t have to stop bugging them about making you do useless chores by making your bead, but you can give them a break in the “driving you everywhere” category. Instead of making them drive you to the park, bike or walk. Instead of making them drive you to school, bike or walk if it’s close enough or carpool with people if it’s too far away. I think we all know about how oil and fumes and such from cars hurt the environment, and it’s also really expensive. Walking or biking or carpooling will give your parents breaks in more ways than one and will also help the earth.

These are only four ways you can help the environment without having a driver’s license, but there are so many more things you can do! Google it, ask people, or get creative and make it up yourself. Our world won’t last forever, and it won’t just heal itself. We have to do everything we can do to help it, and anything will help. So get out there and do your part. The world — and all of its inhabitants — will certainly appreciate it!

~Mary, Author at Bonsai

 

No-Kill Shelters July 8, 2013

Filed under: Animal Cruelty,Animals — K @ 9:06 am
Tags: , ,

*I was inspired to write this while watching Animal Cops: Detroit

Have you ever heard of the Humane Society animal shelters? Chances are you have one in your very town or city! The Humane Society is a national organization that has shelters geared towards the comfort and well being of all animals brought to them. Most shelters do not have law enforcement as part of their staff, unlike those featured on Animal Planet, but that doesn’t stop them from legally seizing abused animals from awful conditions, or giving life saving surgery to a cat with a fishing hook stuck in their paw. The Humane part of Humane Society means that, among other things, all H.S. shelters are no-kill. That means that all the animals that are brought or taken to them stay there until adoption or natural death.

A ‘Kill Shelter’ is a shelter that puts inhabitant animals to sleep after they have stayed in a cage or slotted space for more than the alloted time without meing adopted. This has been protested against by thousands of people across the United States because this doesn’t give all the animals a fair chance at lfie or adoption, or even foster care, which certainly is a very viable option for many animals. The shelters put their animals to sleep, partially because they are taking up space neededd for others, though that isnt a good reason, even if the shelter is low on funding, but also because younger kittens and puppies have a better chance of being adopted. The reason for that is as follows: If a younger couple is looking for a pet – say they have a four year old daughter at home- they’ll naturally lean towards an easily domesticated animal verses one who has matured distrustful and afraid of humans. It takes a rare person willing to adopt an older cat or dog, the two main animals placed in shelters.

Another problem with kill shelters is that many people don’t know about their local Humane Society, so they only take their unwanted or discovered pets to the other shelter, the one that doesn’t let the animals live past six weeks. There is an abundance of kittens and puppies, as very few owners actually spay and neuter their pets .This leads to a booming reproduction rate that leaves hundreds of baby animals homeless and abandoned because their owners never bargained that they would have this number of animals to deal with. The average size of a feline litter is 4 to 5 kittens, with about a 35-4 day gestation period. The dog’s litter is usually 3-4 puppies. That’s a lot of required time and energy to deal with these many hyper, energetic baby animals at once.

Do you think this is wrong, to kill animals simply because they haven’t been adopted yet? No. This is no excuse for animal cruelty, because there are foster programs and plenty of people who are willing to adopt.

Here are some things you can do to help:

1.) Research your local humane society location and see if you can volunteer to spread the word and/or volunteer with the cats and dogs that have been placed there.

2.) Make flyers/print some out from an online website encouraging pet owners to spay/neuter their pets

3.) Raise money for your local Humane Society Animal Shelter! This can be super fun if you can get a group of friends together to have a bake sale or a car wash.

4.) Watch Animal Cops on Animal Planet to get a better understanding of what Humane Societies do. WARNING: viewer discretion is advised, only because some of the animals they rescue have been abused awfully or have been rescued from very bad situations.

But above all, love your pets hat you have at home, and take good care of them so they’ll never have to end up in an animal shelter.

Happy Reading!

-Katherine Flynn, Author at Bonsai

 

Not So Vegetarian After All: Animal Traces in Seemingly Meatless Food July 2, 2013

I recently converted back to an all-vegetarian lifestyle, and I’m even eating vegan most days. However, we all could be eating food made with some disgusting ingredients taken from animals, without our knowing it! Things like gelatin and cochineal are hidden in our day-to-day snacks, right under our noses. If you are vegetarian or vegan, you should educate yourself very well on hidden dead animals in your  cake or hot sauce. Yes, you read that right- cake and hot sauce. Here, from Buzzfeed Food, are 9 Surprising Things That Might Not Be Vegetarian.

Not So Vegetarian After All

Why is this such a big problem, not only for non-animal eaters, but for omnivores as well? Food companies are concealing things from us, cheating us out of a lifestyle that many of us go to large lengths to preserve.  And even if you’re alright with an occasional tuna salad sandwich, I’m not sure how much you’d enjoy a fish’s bladder in your alcohol, crushed bones in your sugar, or intestines in your cheese. (Don’t forget the beetles in your Swedish Fish.) Have you lost your appetite yet? 

 

And what about people who are allergic to these hidden ingredients? Not only will they have a reaction, it might be confusing to bystanders who don’t know what’s really in the food the allergic person just ate. I’d also like to point out that eating cheese lined with intestines isn’t exactly what you’d call a gourmet meal. It’s dangerous, it’s gross, and it’s hiding information that the public deserves to know.

 

Not only is it revolting to think of such unseemly parts in your food, it’s ruining vegan and vegetarian meals for anyone who buys it. Always check the ingredients before buying.

 

For Your Reference:

Vegan Brands by PETAKiDs

Bone Char Sugar by Vegan Products Guide

Vegan Alcohol by Barnivore

 

Ceej

 

 
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