Jan 30, 2014

Yoplait Update

Artist's rendering.

Excellent news - our petition, urging General Mills to change the design of the original Yoplait cup so it's less hazardous to wildlife, has received over 19,000 signatures, and counting!!! 

Keep up the good work - encouraging others to sign the change.org petition, HERE.

Stay tuned - we're about to take this campaign to a higher level. In the meantime, we launched a dedicated Facebook page, HERE. So, if you FB, please LIKE us and SHARE!

Want to do more to help this campaign succeed?

We're going to need content for our new web page and video channel - images from people like you.

Maybe you'll host a costume party and have your friends dress up as animals with their heads stuck in Yoplait containers, or organize a neighborhood parade, or a demonstration, or maybe you'll write a poem or make a music video about why General Mills needs to discontinue the hazardous cup design.

Help send a clear message to General Mills.


That's what the skunk would say!

So far, we haven't gotten much response from General Mills.

General Mills has answered inquiries with a canned response. Here's a sample from one of our supporters:
Dear Ms. *******: 
Thank you for contacting us about the Yoplait container.  
Yoplait also wants to protect and preserve wildlife – and we have supported efforts to help educate consumers about responsible disposal of food packaging.  
The “Don′t Trash Wildlife” message is to:  
Rinse and Recycle. Rinse all recyclable glass and plastic containers to remove any food remnants or odors. Even containers you′re going to throw away should be thoroughly rinsed before disposal to avoid attracting wildlife to your trash.  
Cut and Crush.Plastic containers should be cut and/or crushed before you put them in your garbage or recycling bin. 
Close and Cover.Make sure plastic food wrap is rinsed and contained inside a closed garage bag. Never throw plastic packaging in open trashcans.  Put garbage out for collection in plastic or metal trash containers with secure covers.  
We hope you will continue to use and enjoy our products.  
Rhonda Short, Consumer Services



Jan 28, 2014

What you need to know

By Rebecca Dmytryk

For years, I've heard things about palm oil and how its production could eventually wipe out the orangutans... just another atrocity in my 'save the planet' world. 

Oh, the images, and the stories or tribes of these critically endangered great apes being burned alive - it's just too much!

Emotional overload. You just have to turn away sometimes... right?

You have to pick your battles, right? 

Well, this week, I happened across an image circulating the media, and it triggered my fight response - "This just has got to stop!"

As difficult and painful as it might be, really, we have to not turn away...

So, I know you're busy, but I know you care.

I am going to simplify this issue for you - tell you what you need to know, and then it's up to you to decide what to do with this information,... but you need to know.

Here we go... 

If we do not stop consuming palm oil, wild orangutans will become extinct. At the rate their rainforest habitat is being destroyed, some say they could be gone in 3, maybe 12 years.

Gone. Wiped out. Never again to grace the forests of Earth.

Why? Because of palm oil.

Orangutans are only found on Sumatra and Borneo.
Image from http://www.orangutan.com/orangutans/orangutan-facts/

Almost all palm oil (from palm trees) is produced in Indonesia and Malaysia - on the islands Borneo and Sumatra - home of the remaining orangutans. 

Although there are alternatives to palm oil, it is relatively cheap, so it's popular with manufacturers.

Palm oil is in practically everything - it's in every grocery isleeven more so, now, with the shift away from trans-fats.

It's in cookies, snacks, crackers, chocolate and candies, chips, and ice cream. It's in soaps, and lotions, cosmetics, and toothpaste. Palm oil is also used in "eco-friendly" biofuel - required at a higher percentage in some countries. 

To meet the world's demand, tens of millions of acres of rainforest have been destroyed, and the clearing continues - at an alarming rate of about 6 football fields every a minute.

The ancient trees are cut, the forest is set ablaze, and the soil is turned and leveled to make way for a palm tree plantation.

In the process, orangutans are mercilessly injured or killed. A few lucky ones are rescued.

All, because of our appetite for palm oil.

No? You don't want to contribute to the killings and the eventual extinction of the orangutan?


Here is what you must to do:

From now on, when you're purchasing a product, take a look at the ingredients. If the ingredients list anything with PALM in it - palm oil, palm kernel, palmate, palmitate, palmolein, palmitoyl. Don't buy it. 

Look deeper - palm oil and its byproducts can also go under these names: Vegetable Oil, Vegetable Fat, Glyceryl, Stearate, Stearic Acid, Elaeis Guineensis, Palmitic Acid, Palm Stearine, Oxostearamide, Tetrapeptide-3, Sodium Laureth or Lauryl Sulfate, Sodium (Palm) Kernelate.

Here's a link to a page that will help you identify products that contain palm oil.

Do it!

Send your message. http://inyourpalm.org/
I did. 

Yesterday, I went into our kitchen, into the fridge and the cabinets... We shop mostly at New Leaf markets, so, I am happy to report only a few items contained palm oil - the Silk soy creamers, Rice Dream, and some Trader Joe's snicky-snacks (for the horse).

Remember, even if you're buying "fair trade", organic, vegan, gluten free, you still need to check the label. 

Just do it.

The manufacturers ARE listening!

Want to do more? Raise your palm!

Join thousands in the Last Stand of the Orangutan, by Rainforest Action Network (RAN). Take the pledge and submit your pic, HERE.

Let me leave you with some good news: 

A couple of weeks ago, an Indonesian court found a palm oil company guilty of illegally destroying critical orangutan habitat. The company was fined $30 million. Read more about this tremendous victory, HERE.

More, you say?

If you're in to indie films and documentaries, you might be interested in watching this one: Green.

Lastly, if you want to view the image that caught my attention, scroll down.

If you do not want to be party to this, then 
stop buying products that contain palm oil!

Jan 16, 2014

General Mills: It's time for a change...

Last week, we responded to an incident in Los Gatos involving a skunk with a Yoplait yogurt cup stuck on its head. Read the story and watch the video of its rescue, HERE.

Unfortunately, this sort of injury isn't as uncommon as you might think. Potentially thousands of small mammals get their heads stuck in Yoplait containers every year, nationwide.

Why Yoplait containers? Because of the inverted flange at the opening. 

Animals can squeeze past the flexible rim to get at the bottom of the cup, but when they try to back out, the flange catches on their hide, the back of their skull, or cheekbones. 

Animals in this condition are deprived of air, they are unable to see, drink, or eat. They end up wandering, blindly, exposed to the elements, and are at greater risk of being struck by a vehicle if they do not suffocate first.

General Mills, makers of Yoplait, has known about the flawed design for decades.

In 1998, under pressure from animal activists, General Mills made a few modifications, including a note on the label for consumers: PROTECT WILDLIFE CRUSH CUP BEFORE DISPOSAL, but they did not remove the flange inside the opening.

It's been 35 since these cups were introduced on the market, and General Mills has refused to make the necessary changes, citing:

"That design is a key lure for customers, and changing it could harm sales."

We’re asking consumers to show General Mills that sales will be hurt if they don't!

We have launched a campaign on Change.org, calling for people to stop purchasing Yoplait in the harmful conical-shaped cups until the company makes the packaging wildlife-safe. 

Take the pledge and sign our petition, HERE.

Watch this story about a squirrel in a similar situation:

More videos of animals with Yoplait cups stuck on their heads:

Jan 9, 2014

Another Yoplait casualty

This rescue was sponsored by Bodhi Matus

Yesterday morning, we were contacted by a resident who lives in the beautiful, wooded Santa Cruz Mountains of Los Gatos. His dogs had alerted him of something in the yard. When he went to investigate, he found a skunk with its head stuck in a Yoplait yogurt container, shivering at the base of a retaining wall. 

Because of how his dogs had been acting for the last couple of days, the skunk may have been in trouble for a while. Not being able to eat or drink, and fighting for air, the animal would not last long.

WES founder and lead responder, Rebecca Dmytryk, rushed to the scene. Here's her account of the rescue:

The home was located way, deep in the mountains - very rural, few fences, and lots of acreage between neighbors. Quite lovely. Odd, though,... I thought,... to find an animal caught up in garbage in such a pristine, unpopulated area. It must have broken into a recycling bag or garbage bin. 

When I arrived on scene, the RP, Gary, led me to the skunk. It was tucked up, sleeping, under a bush at the top of a pretty steep and slippery slope.

It was a bit of a challenge to reach the skunk. There was no way to stealthily sneak up on it, with the dried leaves and twigs and snapping of branches, but, the skunk kindly tolerated my noisy approach, at least until I grabbed hold of his tail.

If... if you can get hold of a skunk's tail and tuck it under, it might squirt a little juice, but it won't spray all over. Just FYI.

I used a bed sheet to shield me from spray as I maneuvered close. Once on top of the skunk, I slowly placed my gloved hands over its body, with little fuss, then clutched its tail to pull it out from under the bush. It wasn't capable of biting, so I focused on getting control of the sprayer.

I pulled the skunk to me, folding its tail under, and "burrito-wrapping" it in the sheet before tucking it between my legs to get a look at the cup - maybe I could remove it right there.

I gently pulled on the container, thinking it might slide right off, but, no. I pulled a little harder. Nope. Wow!

I carried the bundled skunk to a more comfortable spot where I could work on it. I cut the rim of the cup, then an inch more, then had to manipulate the plastic back to get it off the animal's face - it was REALLY on there!!! 

There it was - the skunk's lovely face. It looked SO relieved. It just sat there, not struggling, but just taking in the surroundings - it could see again! It bobbed its head up and down taking in the crisp, fresh air.

Not knowing how long it had gone without food and water, it would be held overnight and given a chance to recuperate before being set free. 

First, though, we needed to treat it for hypothermia, as it had been exposed to the elements overnight.

I placed the little skunk into a transport container that was outfitted with a large SnapHeat pad. These are portable and reusable heating pads that can provide warmth for hours.

Click HERE to send us a SnapHeat 
warmer from our Amazon Wish List.

After a full day of rest and a good meal, the skunk was given a final once over and deemed ready for release. 

Late this afternoon, I transported it back to the mountains, and found a safe spot off the roadside, below the property it was taken from. There was a culvert for it to hide in and a very old hollowed out redwood.

Check out the video of the skunk's rescue and release:

In case the embedded video doesn't play, click HERE

There's even more to this story... As I was setting up the cameras for the release, a neighbor drove by, headed home. He slowed and rolled down his window. I started off the conversation with "What is this strange person doing on My Road, right?", and proceeded to tell him of the skunk with the Yoplait container on its head. He said he'd seen that skunk. What? Really? "Around Christmas," he said. 

He was positive. He recalled telling the story at a Christmas party, about how he saw a large skunk with a red yogurt cup stuck to its face and it was trying desperately to get it off, but didn't know what to do or whom to call. 

This was definitely not the same skunk. It could not have lived without food and water for so long. We can only hope that skunk was able to remove the container from its head...

It's a bit of a mystery. Was there one Yoplait container or two? The code on this particular cup reads 00323. If this is a Julian date, it reads November 19th. Hmmm.

Also interesting, the aluminum foil top to the yogurt container was folded up at the bottom of the cup, as if the consumer had thoughtfully placed it there - perhaps thinking to recycle all of it. Perhaps the skunk(s) tore through a bag of recyclables?

Either way, let this story be a reminder to all - please crush or cut up Yoplait containers before discarding them.

As for General Mills, makers of Yoplait - CHANGE THE DAMN DESIGN OF THE CONTAINER!

UPDATE: 1-15-14

WES has launched a campaign on Change.org, asking General Mills to remove the flange from the "vercon" cups to make them less hazardous to wildlife. Please add your voice and sign the petition, HERE.