Body Shop Foundation
Human rights, the environment and animal protection are all causes that The Body Shop Foundation advocates for.

This charitable company works closely with The Body Shop International, a company that sells beauty and makeup products, making many of The Body Shop products an option to donate to charity.

Since 1989, the foundation has been funding and giving money to different projects around the world that focus on working for a social and environmental change.

Besides The Body Shop beauty products, they create various fundraising activities that allow them to manage their three different grant programs: animal protection, environmental protection and human rights.

In the 2011 values report of The Body Shop International, BSI, the foundation’s money, during the years 2009 and 2010, was spent in Asia Pacific, Europe, the Americas and Africa Global.

For this foundation, the natural environment means everything, and fighting to preserve and protect the animals and the environment is an important aspect to conserve the planet. Some of the animal and environment protection organizations that The foundation has supported are PAMS, the World Cetacean Alliance, the Orangutan Foundation and Wateraid, among others.

In the human rights area, The foundation has the belief that all basic rights should be given to everyone. The foundation supports organizations that fight for these means and give a voice to those who do not have one. Some of the human rights organizations that the foundation has supported are Cybersmile, Kaibosh, Changing Faces, Compassionate Hearts and Children on the Edge.

According to the 2014 impact report of the foundation, wildlife conservation, animal welfare, climate change, domestic violence, disability, poverty, child protection, access to water, recycling, forest conservation and water conservation were some of the funded issues by the foundation.

As another option, the foundation also provides volunteer opportunities in the areas of London and Littlehampton as another charitable method to advocate for the humanitarian causes they support.

The Body Shop’s 2015 fundraising product is called “Soft Hands Kind Heart.” The product is a hand cream sold in every The Body Shop store worldwide, and every purchase becomes a donation to the foundation.

For every “Soft Hands Kind Heart” cream sold, The Shop will donate £1.50 (US$2.33) to the foundation, helping it with the creation and success of its charitable programs. This beauty and makeup company is making a difference that contributes with the betterment of the world through charitable activities and fundraising projects.

The BSI, working hand in hand with the foundation, is an example of a company that provides and sells quality products to its customers at the same time as it provides donations to the organization. In tandem, it is also able to support and advocate for their three focuses: human rights, environmental protection and animal protection.

– Diana Fernanda Leon

Sources: The Body Shop Foundation 1, The Body Shop Foundation 2, The Body Shop Foundation 3, The Body Shop Foundation 4, The Body Shop Foundation 5, The Body Shop USA
Photo: The Body Shop Foundation

environmental_degradationIn a landmark visit to Ecuador, Pope Francis denounced the “irresponsible use and abuse of [the earth’s] goods” as the leading factor contributing to global poverty. The Pope addressed a crowd of over 1 million Ecuadorians at a mass on July 7 and touched on several issues concerning increasing poverty statistics.

One focal point of the Pope’s speech regarded Ecuador’s rich natural resources being the target of impending oil drilling. According to CBS, “Containing both the Galapagos Islands and Amazon rainforest, Ecuador has more biodiversity than any other country on earth. At the same time, it is heavily reliant on revenues from its oil reserves.” The South American nation boasts a rich oil reserve underneath its historically pure environmental ecosystems. The Pope strongly advocated for Ecuadorians to protect their oil reserves and to come together to preserve their natural resources.

Pope Francis’ message to Ecuador made impressions throughout the world, especially with Catholic investors. Since the Pope began publicly condemning environmental degradation, investors from all over began pulling out of fossil fuels and reinvesting their finances into more environmentally conscience resources. The driving force behind this change in investment comes at the Pope’s urging to think long-term. Pope Francis compelled not just Ecuador, but the rest of the plant to “consider the long-term consequences of harvesting the planet’s natural resources over its immediate payoff.” A strong message by the Pope for every one, of all beliefs, to think about the wellbeing of our planet.

While the Pope made his address at a Catholic mass with religion at its core, his words must resonate outside of a particular faith. His urgency to think long-term is critical in preventing the spread of poverty. More deforestation, mining, and oil drilling would displace millions more each year, leaving them homeless and their lives in ruins. Pope Francis makes a strong case for re-evaluating the way we approach our planet’s resources; it is up to us to listen and follow through.

Diego Catala

Sources: Ring Of Fire Radio, CBS News
Photo: Huffington Post

In the poverty discussion, it is easy to forget Mexico. Although less than two percent of the country lives below the international poverty line set by the World Bank, poverty and lack of economic and educational opportunity is very prevalent throughout the country. It is estimated that 42 percent of the population lives in some degree of poverty in Mexico.

Under President Enrique Peña Nieto’s administration, efforts to provide economic and educational opportunities have been made and the country has also instituted universal healthcare during his time in office.

One of Mexico’s newest ambitions is to extract the oil and gas reserves in the Eagle Shale Ford. The massive shale field starts in Texas and runs south along Mexico’s eastern corridor into Veracruz.

According to the Mexican government, the Eagle Shale Ford holds approximately 90 billion barrels of untapped oil and natural gas reserves. This makes Mexico one of the biggest hydrocarbon controlling countries in the world.

Officials believe that the rise of hydraulic fracturing in the United States can be applied in Mexico. Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” involves drilling into shale and blasting a mixture of water, sand and a litany of chemicals against the rock. This fractures the rock, allowing the gas or oil to be extracted.

This method has recently enabled Texas to ramp up oil operations. The state now produces as much oil annually as Mexico does.

President Nieto passed legislation last year that ended Pemex, the state-owned energy monopoly, and opened up foreign investment to private energy companies.

The difference between oil exploitation in Texas and Mexico is striking. Texas has over 8,000 wells operating in the shale field. In northern Mexico, there were only 25 by the end of 2014.

Mexico believes it is in their best economic interest to exploit the rest of their reserves. In an interview with Dallas Morning News, Mexican Ambassador Medina Mora said that the development of wells is key to limiting the influence of cartels. “The best way to counteract organized crime is to develop jobs in poor areas, that’s why investment by foreign energy companies is key to our future,” Mora said.

However Mexico’s ambition to exploit these reserves have many barriers. Some areas in the Eagle Shale Ford are controlled by various drug cartels. Foreign companies performing preliminary drilling have been known to pay cartels for access to prospective well sites.

Those same cartels also illegally extract oil from pipelines. Pemex asserts it has lost over a billion dollars in revenue over the past few years due to this.

For some foreign energy companies, this lack of security has kept them away from Mexico. Federal Congressman Javier Travińo of Nuevo León said that states must “get their house in order” if they want international investment.

Despite the day and night differences in security and infrastructure in Texas and Mexico, fracking still raises the same health and environmental concerns.

Fracking is banned in New York, Maryland and various counties and municipalities across the US. It is prohibited in Scotland and Wales as well. These bans were enacted due to the proven environmental and health concerns surrounding the process.

There are 250 chemicals commonly used in fracking. Many are detrimental to mammals, aquatic life and human health. The water and chemical mixture, or slurry, that is left in the ground has been linked to contaminated groundwater. Some chemicals have unknown effects.

The amount of water used for fracking also raises concern. In 2011, the Environmental Protection Agency estimated that 70 to 140 billion gallons of water were used in the U.S. for fracking. For water deprived Mexico, this will be an issue if necessary infrastructure and security materialize.

Mexico has much more lax environmental regulations than the United States. For companies that have made investments, there isn’t much transparency required with the public.

Gabino Vicente, a delegate from a small town at the southern edge of the Eagle Shale Ford, says companies are leasing land by deceiving owners in Mexico. “They take advantage of the poverty and low education levels to gain access to the land. Many citizens don’t even know what fracking is.”

Mexico is faced with a tough choice. There are direct economic incentives to exploit their natural resources. However, the environmental and social costs, which are obscure and delayed, could negate the monetary gains.

Whichever option is pursued, the citizens of Mexico have the right to be educated about this issue.

Kevin Meyers

Sources: Global Issues, HSPH, Keep Tap Water Safe, Poverty Data, Dallas News, Roar Mag
Photo: Dallas News

Poverty Impacts the Environment
How poverty impacts the environment: Natural resources are being depleted, clean air is growing scarce, climates are shifting, and entire ecosystems are being affected. It doesn’t take long to look around the world and see the ways in which the environment is changing. While mankind, in general, places stress on the environment, poverty in particular has played a major role in environmental degradation across the world.


Poverty Impacts the Environment: Effects and Solutions


One of the biggest ways that the environment is affected by poverty is through deforestation. Forests provide the world with clean air, in addition to working as “sink holes” that help reduce the drastic climate changes seen in the world today. With the increasing level of deforestation taking place, the environment is taking a heavy blow and finding it difficult to recover. Impoverished communities, unaware of the errant, harmful ways in which they use natural resources, such as forest wood and soil, are continuing the destructive cycle that spirals the environment further downward.

Air pollution is another way in which poverty contributes to environmental degradation. As mentioned above, poor communities lack the proper knowledge when it comes to production techniques. Thus, the ways in which they use resources to help them survive are harmful to the resources around them, and ultimately the world at large. Air pollution is one of the major consequences of poor production techniques while water pollution is a result of poor water management, once again due to lack of knowledge. Water pollution affects so many things beyond the poor community itself. Water pollution deprives soil of nourishing elements, kills off fish, and is extremely harmful to human health.

Because extreme poverty doesn’t always lend to widespread birth education, many poor women lack the resources necessary to engage in birth control. Therefore, it is common for poor women to continue having children well after they would have liked because of little to no access to resources and education.

The more the global population grows, the more weight is placed on the environment. Every human being consumes their share of resources from the environment, and with so many births originating from poor communities, the burdens placed on the environment grow heavier and heavier each day.

In order to help the state of the environment, we must first help the state of the poor and education is key.

Poor regions need to know what the proper and harmless methods are in which they can dispose of their waste. They must learn how to tend a healthy and sound agricultural system without the reliance on degraded soil, and other unfit resources. There must be more importance placed on water management and protecting fisheries, as those are essential for the livelihood of many people. Re-forestation projects are crucial in replenishing the supply of environmental “goods” that deforestation has destroyed.

In addition, taking action to stop the rampage of deforestation is even more important in order to begin to nourish the environment back to good health.

– Chante Owens

Sources: Teams To End Poverty, Global Issues
Photo: Science Daily

Keeping Our Oceans Healthy and Productive
Our most valuable resources on this globe are our oceans. Our lives depend upon the ocean and the food we fish from it. Never before have we had to worry about harming this resource to such an extent that it limits our food production. However, we have begun to “fish out” our world’s oceans, which causes great problems since our population is only growing and our demand for resources is also growing. Some major corporations such as McDonald’s and Wal-Mart have begun to take steps towards sustainable fishing.

McDonald’s has announced that the packaging for their fish items on the menu will carry a blue eco-label provided by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). This label guarantees that 99% of all McDonald’s fish will come from MSC approved sources. Wal-Mart has created a Sustainability Index to measure 70% of its suppliers by 2017. While these corporations are leading the way for businesses to practice sustainability, it is just the beginning for better awareness of our oceans.

On June 8, the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Oceans agreed upon two new initiatives that will guide the management of our oceans in the future: the Ocean Health Index and “Seafood Traceability.”

Until now, we have never had a way to measure the health of our oceans. With the Ocean Health Index, we can rate the sustainability of our oceans on a scale of 0-100. It measures the oceans against 10 goals including coastal protection, clean tourism and recreation, and food provision. Not only can the Ocean Health Index be used on a global scale, but it can be used on a regional scale as well. It gives policymakers the ability to make informed decisions about the productivity of the water.

The second initiative, seafood traceability, will provide necessary information to manage seafood resources worldwide. This initiative will help businesses trace back fish products from the fisheries where they were caught and learn essential information about how the fish was caught. Without this, it would be impossible to regulate and control illegal fishing habits.

The ocean is our largest asset that generated almost $72 trillion GDP in 2012. By taking steps like McDonald’s is taking or learning how to monitor our oceans better we are keeping them healthy and productive.

– Catherine Ulrich
Source: WE Blog,Ocean Health Index
Photo: Robin Jones Gunn

UN Warns Environmental Threats Increase PovertyA report released by the UN warns that the number of people in extreme poverty could rise by 3 billion in 2050 unless immediate action is taken to combat environmental threats.

The 2013 Human Development Report had stated that more than 40 countries have shown significant improvement on health, wealth and education with rapid increases in Brazil, China, India as well as many other developing countries. The percentage of those living in extreme poverty, or living on $1.25 a day or less, had fallen from 43% to 22% from 1990 to 2008. This is attributed to significant successes in poverty reduction and economic growth in China and India. In response to this statistic, the World Bank has said that the Millennium Development Goal of decreasing extreme poverty by half by 2015 was ahead of schedule.

However, the UN had also reported that if environmental challenges such as climate change, deforestation, and air and water pollution were left unaddressed, human development progress in the poorest countries could come to a halt and possibly be reversed. Environmental threats and ecosystem losses are worsening the living situations and hindering the livelihood opportunities of many poor people. Building on the 2011 edition of the report arguing for sustainable development, the UN warns that unless coordinated global action is taken to combat environmental issues, the number of people in extreme poverty could rise.

“Environmental threats are among the gravest impediments to lifting human development,” the report says. “The longer action is delayed, the higher costs will be.”

– Rafael Panlilio

Source: Flickr

Wood Architecture is Better than Steel
At the TED Conference 2013, architect Michael Green argues that wood architecture is better than steel and concrete when it comes to protecting the environment. Tall buildings are made of steel and concrete and the greenhouse gas emission of these materials is huge (three percent of the world’s energy goes into making steel, and 5 percent goes into making concrete). Green notes that most people think transportation is the main cause of CO2 emissions, but actually it is building — accounting for 47 percent of CO2 emissions.

Current building codes only allow wood buildings to be four stories high, and Green wants to change this. He proposes we use wood architecture and build skyscrapers out of wood. Trees store carbon dioxide, and by building with it, says Green, we could sequester the carbon. Building with one cubic meter of wood, he claims, stores one ton of CO2.

He is not proposing to build huge towers with small two-by-four pieces of wood. In his speech, he explains the technology that has been created to form rapid growth trees into massive lumber panels and the flexible system technology that assists in building with these huge pieces of wood.

An obvious question that people ask about his system is deforestation. To this, he insists there are sustainable forestry practices, and says that enough wood is grown in North America every 13 minutes for a 20-story building.

– Mary Purcell