FAWCO's Environment Task Force is a dynamic and committed group of ten women from seven different clubs who work together to publish frequent informative Bulletins. The Task Force’s aim is to inform members about the global environmental issues that confront our planet, such as the major causes of global climate change, energy efficiency, conservation and waste reduction, and issues affecting clean air, soil and water.

Since we believe that each person can make a difference, one of our main goals is to help members become more environmentally minded through the choices they make in their daily lives. The Task Force also seeks to promote informed action within FAWCO, at both global and local levels. Major past activities have supported carbon sequestration through tree planting and water awareness in conjunction with the First Target Program.

For more information and to get involved with us, contact the Environment Task Force Chair at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Environment Bulletin February 2014 

Environment Co-Chairs:

Anne van Oorschot (left)

AWC The Hague


Kara Fairchild (right)

AWC Gothenburg

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Environment Task Force Members:

Debra-Yonker Hecht (AWGLR),Eileen Doyle (AWC Dublin),Cheryl Steenman-Bash (AWC Amsterdam)

Cut & Paste!
To begin with, thank you for subscribing to the Environment Bulletin! The fact that you do is proof you think the environment is important. While I hope you would like to pass environmental information on to your club members and friends, you are probably busy with too much to do each day.

That's why I hope this bulletin will help: by providing you with good information you can cut and paste for posting in your club newsletter. Simply add a sentence or two to personalize it for your audience, add your name as an author and send it out. If you are not in a position to contribute to your club newsletter, you can forward it to friends and family & get the message out that way. (I have a list of family and friends in the US that I send all the Environment bulletins to!)

I hope you will find the message in this bulletin worth sharing with others!

All the best, Anne

On Target - Women's Human Rights & the Environment
While it's clear that the focus of the first Target Program - water - was an environmental issue, you might think that is not the case for a Target issue of Women's Human Rights. Since the environment is a central aspect in every life, Women's Human Rights and the environment are closely related.

The many linkages between protection of human rights and protection of the environment have long been recognized. The 1972 United Nations Conference on the Human Environment declared that "man's environment, the natural and the man-made, are essential to his well-being and to the enjoyment of basic human rights--even the right to life itself."Despite this evident relationship between environmental degradation and human suffering, human rights violations and environmental degradation have been treated by most organizations and governments as unrelated issues. Just as human rights advocates have tended to place only civil and political rights onto their agendas, environmentalists have tended to focus primarily on natural resource preservation without addressing the human impact of environmental abuse. As a result, victims of environmental degradation are unprotected by the laws and mechanisms established to address human rights abuses. It's important that more people recognize how interrelated human rights and the environment really are, and while things are shifting to a more interrelated approach, it is moving slowly.  

Women and the Environment 

The direct and critical relationship between women and natural resources draws its strength not from biology-that is, not because women are born female-but from gender, and the socially created roles and responsibilities that continue to fall to women in households, communities and ecosystems throughout the world. Women have the primary responsibility for rearing children, and for obtaining sufficient resources to meet children's nutrition, health care and schooling needs. In the rural areas of developing countries, women are also the main managers of essential household resources like clean water, fuel for cooking and heating and fodder for domestic animals. Women grow vegetables, fruit and grain for home consumption and also for sale-often, as in much of Africa, producing most of the staple crops.

While women have the responsibility for managing household resources, they typically do not have managerial control. Given the variety of women's daily interactions with the environment, they are the most keenly affected by its degradation. Degraded environments mean that women must spend more time and effort to find fuel or produce food, but their other responsibilities - meeting household needs and ensuring family health - do not diminish.

At the same time, women have little power over the conditions of their lives. Even though women's use and management of local environmental resources is fundamental to household and community well-being, decision makers often overlook this reality. Agricultural extension services are heavily biased towards men and education and outreach efforts in support of sustainable farming and land management methods often exclude women.

Lack of Women's Rights = lack of environmental sustainability!

National law or local customs often effectively deny women the right to own or inherit land, which means they have no collateral on which to raise credit. Unsustainable land use can often be traced to a denial of technical and financial resources. Given the opportunity, women may well have a predisposition to practice sustainable agriculture and maintain overall land quality-precisely because of their strong reliance on natural resources. Women who lack rights to own and manage natural resources often lack rights in other aspects of their lives, reinforcing gender inequalities.

The successful negotiation between women and men will be helped by having access to information and education, and to agricultural and reproductive health services. The support of laws and policies on women's rights & equality and on the sustainable use and protection of natural resources are also essential. With such support, women and men can create a positive circle of sustainability and equity. Without it they are trapped in a vicious spiral of continuing environmental degradation, poverty, high fertility and limited opportunity, leading to environmental and social collapse. 

Article Sources: UN High Commissioner for Human Rights paper (January 2002): http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/environment/environ/bp1.htm;

UN Population fund: https://www.unfpa.org/swp/2001/english/ch04.html 

Save the Date!
World Environment Day ('WED') is celebrated every year on

June 5th to raise global awareness of the need to take positive environmental action. It is run by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and the goal is to stimulate awareness of the environment as well as enhance political attention and public action. 

We are hoping that FAWCO clubs will join together to commemorate this year. I will have more information and activity ideas available at the Conference in Brussels, so be sure to visit my table at Face2Face and pick them up. Watch for more information in a later bulletin, but for now - Save the Date! 

Environment Bulletin                 December 2013 

It has been quite awhile since I (Anne) have sent out an Environment Bulletin...high time then!  Environmental problems havn't gone away and I'd like to share some information with you about a serious problem that all of us come into contact with - on a daily basis! - and that all of us can EASILY help solve. Please read on...

Paper or Plastic? 

The "paper or plastic" choice put to earnest shoppers throughout the 1980s and 90s is largely moot today. Most American grocery store baggers don't bother to ask anymore. They drop the bananas in one plastic bag as they reach for another to hold the six-pack of soda. The pasta sauce and noodles will get one too, as will the dish soap. While plastic bag use at grocery stores worldwide may differ from this American picture, plastic bags are used extensively around the world. They are cheap to produce, sturdy, plentiful, easy to carry and store. "

First introduced in the 1970s, plastic bags now account for four out of every five bags handed out at the grocery store. Robert Bateman, president of Roplast Industries, a manufacturer of plastic bags in California, said the economic advantage of plastic bags over paper bags is too significant for store owners to ignore. It costs one cent for a standard plastic grocery sack, whereas a paper bag costs four cents, he said. "The plastic bags are so inexpensive that in the stores, no one treats them as worth anything ... they use two, three, or four when one would do just as well," he said. Americans use 100 billion plastic shopping bags a year, according to Washington-based think tank Worldwatch Institute, or more than 330 a year for every person in the country. Most are thrown away with only 1 - 3% ever being recycled. 

What's so bad about Plastic Bags? 

While the plastic bag sounds like an amazing success story, there is a dark side to their widespread uses. Consider the following plastic bag environmental impact facts:

  • Plastic bags don't biodegrade, they photo degrade - breaking down into smaller and smaller toxic bits contaminating soil and waterways and entering the food web when animals (accidentally) ingest them.

  • A plastic bag can take between 400 to 1,000 years to break down in the environment.

  • Plastic bags pose a serious danger to birds and marine mammals that often mistake them for food. Thousands die each year after swallowing or choking on discarded plastic bags. (Over 100,000 sea turtles and other marine animals die every year due to eating plastic.)

  • Nearly 90% of the debris in our oceans is plastic.

  • Producing plastic bags requires millions of gallons of petroleum that could be used for transportation or heating.

  • Plastic bags clutter landfills, flap from trees, float in the breeze, clog roadside drains and drift on the high seas.

  • Plastic bag litter has become such an environmental nuisance and eyesore that Ireland, Taiwan, South Africa, Australia, and Bangladesh have heavily taxed the totes or banned their use outright. Several other regions, including England and some U.S. cities, are considering similar actions. The scope of the problems caused by the spread of plastic bags is staggering, and we need to consider the "true costs" associated with the spread of these "free" bags.

    Consider a Personal Ban on Plastic Bags? 

    Why wait for others to make the first steps in addressing the plastic bag problem? Here are 2 things you can do to help right now:

    1. Switch to reusable shopping bags: Reusable shopping bags made from renewable materials conserve resources by replacing paper and plastic bags. Reusable bags are convenient and come in a variety of sizes, styles and materials. When not in use, some reusable bags can be rolled or folded small enough to fit easily into a pocket.

    2. Recycle your plastic bags: If you do end up using plastic bags now and then, be sure to recycle them. Many grocery stores in the US now collect plastic bags for recycling. If that isn't an option for you, check with your community recycling program to learn how to recycle plastic bags in your area.

    Paper and plastic bags both come at great cost to the environment, so when you head out to do your shopping at this festive time of the year, remember to take some reusable shopping bags with you and give the environment a gift as well.

    I end with a great 2 min. music video by Jay-Z on You-Tube with his message on plastic bags. Hope you will enjoy it; please pass it on to your friends, kids, neighbors... : 


    Article Sources: ; International Fund for Animal Welfare; ; ; the Environmental Protection Agency. 

    Environment Task Force 

    Contact us at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


            Anne van Oorschot - AWC The Hague

    Kara Fairchild - AWC Goteborg

    Environmental Task Force Committee members:  Cheryl Steenman-Bash,  Debra Yonker-Hecht, Eileen Doyle-Green, Clarice Scott, CC Kent

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