Education: Compassion Footprint

“Every product, every action and every lifestyle decision can be a choice to harm less.” – Zoe Weil

Every day we make choices. We decide what to wear, what to eat and which products to use. Each of these actions has an impact with implications we may not immediately think about.

Much like we can minimize our ecological footprint and reduce our impact on the planet by making greener choices, we can also work to increase our compassion footprint by making kinder choices.

We can consider the impact of our decisions by exploring two questions:

  • What are the effects of this item or activity, both positive and negative, on animals and the environment?
  • Are there any alternatives that may be less harmful or even provide some benefit?

For example, upon examination, we discover that conventional coffee is grown in areas of the rainforest that have been “clear cut”, which means that the trees have all been removed, which negatively impacts ecosystems and inhabitants. Alternatively, shade-grown coffee is grown under the canopy layer of trees, which not only preserves native trees, this method also conserves habitat for many animals.

When we take a moment to examine the products we’re purchasing, it enables us to make the best choice possible for people, animals and the planet. This enables us to make knowledgeable decisions on how to walk softly and treat the Earth’s creatures gently.

Whether we choose to purchase cruelty-free products, adopt a companion animal or attend an animal-free circus, there are lots of ways to increase our compassion footprint. How have you expanded your compassion footprint by being kind to animals? Share your stories with us!

– Lisa Forzley is the humane education manager for the Detroit Zoological Society and oversees the Berman Academy for Humane Education.

Education: Adopt-a-School in Peru

Claire Lannoye-Hall is a Curator of Education for the Detroit Zoological Society.

The ecological health of the world’s tropical Peru - Clairerainforests are vital to the balance of the global environment. Rainforests have been called the lungs of the earth, cleaning the air we breathe. The area is rich in biodiversity and culture, and supporting the people who know the rainforest best from living there for generations places them in an unparalleled position to protect the natural resources that they depend on for their way of life.  By empowering these communities to live sustainably amongst these resources, they become protectors of this essential region.

One of the keys to creating change in the world is access to education and current information. The Detroit Zoological Society has long been a partner in the Amazon Rainforest Adopt-A-School Program to provide school supplies and support to people living in the rural areas of Peru to strengthen education. With this education comes empowerment and responsibility to live sustainably in this vital region.

Peru - Claire 3I and another member of our education department have returned to Peru this spring to deliver school supplies to more than 3,000 children and teachers. Each child will receive several notebooks, pens, pencils, a folder, ruler and pencil sharpener. Each school receives a single set of books and basic school supplies like glue, construction paper and markers, and physical education materials like soccer balls and volleyballs.

The school supplies are purchased in Peru - Claire 2Peru with money donated by individuals and organizations from around the world. A group of about 20 people travel with us to deliver all the supplies in a single week. These generous individuals pay their travel costs and make a donation to the program that helps support operational costs.

The program was started almost 25 years ago by Amazon Explorama Lodges and CONAPAC, a Peruvian NGO. The DZS has been an integral partner since 1999.

To follow our daily diary of our trips to Peru, visit: adoptaschool.edublogs.org

– Claire Lannoye Hall