We’re just hours away from the dawning of a brand-new year! Once the champagne corks have been popped and the ball has dropped we’ll have the clean slate of 2014 stretching out before us like a blank canvas. The beginning of a new year always inspires us to make personal resolutions to improve our own lives. What if those resolutions didn’t just better you, though – what if they helped the planet? Here are our tips on how to green your New Year’s resolutions. Image source: Thetatums.com Watch What You Eat Pretty much everyone has resolved at least once to lose weight in the new year. It makes sense, especially if you’re like us and you spent all of December snacking on Christmas cookies. But this can be a tough resolution to stick too. Most people try to tackle a drastic diet overhaul and wind up falling off the wagon when it becomes too difficult to stick to. Instead of changing everything about your diet, we recommend making small adjustments that are good for you and good for the planet all at once. Join the Meatless Monday movement and go vegetarian one day out of seven. Start purchasing produce at a local farm stand or farmer’s market instead of the grocery store: or, if you don’t have time to add an extra shopping trip to your weekly routine, consider picking up organic produce instead of traditional produce at the store. Image source: Adventure-journal.com Don’t Overshoot Sure, we all say we’re going to start riding our bikes to work every day, but then it rains or we’re running late, and all our good intentions go straight out the window. Instead of completely changing up your routine, just commit to doing it once a week. Whether you pedal in or walk, or catch a bus or trolley, pick one day to leave your car at home. You’ll reduce your carbon footprint and shake up your routine – who knows what else it might inspire you to do? Image source: Money.usnews.com Have A Light Bulb Moment One of the most common New Year’s resolutions is to make better financial decisions. There’s one in particular you can make that’s also fantastic for the planet and as easy as flipping a switch: swapping out your traditional light bulbs for LED or complete fluorescent light bulbs. It’s a super simple way to save money and energy. Not able to make an investment in all new lighting? Just swap the bulbs out one at a time as they burn out. It’s a small change that will have a big impact on the planet.
If you grew up on the Island, you probably know we have our own personal Mother Nature out here. For years, Jeannie Bystrom has made it her mission to rescue animals in need: as a result, she’s always had quite the eclectic menagerie of animal companions. Whether she was bottle-feeding baby raccoons, being trailed by peacocks, or helping her husband (local veterinarian Bill Bystrom) rehabilitate a wounded bobcat in a flight cage in her backyard, Jeannie’s always kept some pretty unusual company. These days she’s heading up an initiative called Don’t Cut The Line, which seeks to educate the public on how to protect seabirds by fishing responsibly. Today, she talks to us about the origins and mission of her environmental group. How did Don’t Cut The Line get started? The group started with my sister Debbie Hall and me. We noticed a hanging pelican in the rookery in Bimini Bay on Memorial Day Weekend last year. It died so tragically that we decided to start checking the rookery every day from then on. We have rescued approximately 40 birds from that rookery since then. We paddle our paddle board and kayak over there and look for birds in distress. It has surprised us how many we come across. Image Source: Facebook.com/DontCutTheLine What is your mission? To educate the public as to what to do when you hook a bird and how to be responsible fishermen in order to protect the environment, as well as how to safely handle birds. AND most importantly to DON’T CUT THE LINE Why is it so important not to cut the line? Most people will hook a bird on the bridges or piers and as soon as a bird gets entangled in their line or steals some bait, they get scared and are afraid that they will harm the bird or the bird will harm them and they just cut the line. This bird will eventually fly to the rookery. When they land on the rookery, they jump from branch to branch until they find a place to rest. This line becomes entangled in the trees very very easily. When they try to fly from the rookery they end up hanging from the trees. Image Source: Facebook.com/DontCutTheLine If you could say something to people who cut the line, what would it be? Can you explain the ramifications? I would tell them to never ever cut the line, and to reel the bird in very slowly. Grab ahold of his beak and safely remove the hook and line. I would also to tell them that if the hook is embedded too deep or swallowed that they would need to call FWC and have a wildlife rehabilitator help them. Most fishing piers have employees that know what to do and also might have holding kennels for injured birds in need of rescue. Who are the members of your group? The group right now consists of me and my husband Bill, Debbie and Glenn Hall, Judy and Steve Titsworth, Ally Titsworth, Matty Dwyer, Katie Mattas, Robin Zoller, Oceanna and Lee White and anyone else who wants to come and help in rescue efforts. Image Source: Facebook.com/DontCutTheLine How can other people join up? We are always looking for people to go to the Skyway and look for injured birds. This is a huge problem at the Skyway fishing piers. We take the boats out there on Sundays and catch birds. We come home with several birds every time we go. Sabiki rigs used to catch bait have multiple hooks and these rigs are very bad for the birds. They end up hooking their feet together, their wing to their leg, their neck to their wing – you name it, we have seen it. Also multiple hook lures. A lot of lures have a treble hook in the front and also a treble in the back. These do the same as the sabiki rigs and kill a lot of birds. These type of rigs need to be outlawed on the piers and bridges. The Naples City Council just outlawed them. Are there any resources you need to continue operating? We found a sign that Naples is using and we would love to purchase a lot of these informational signs. They cost $75.00 each. We would love to place them on all of the piers and bridges and public beach accesses. If we could find someone willing to donate money to buy the signs that would be awesome! Also we take all of our birds to Save our Seabirds. They are always in need of donations. (Editor’s Note: May 6th and 7th are especially great days to donate to Save Our Seabirds as they are part of The Giving Challenge and will be receiving matching grants based on donor participation. You will definitely get more bang for your buck.) Image Source: Facebook.com/DontCutTheLine Why do you do this? To end the pain and suffering of these innocent creatures! When you arrive to the rookeries and see these birds in distress and are able to remove the hook and lines and set them free, it is the best feeling in the world! To learn more, visit and Like the Don’t Cut The Line Facebook page. To make donations to Save Our Seabirds click here to learn more about The Giving Challenge they’re participating in today and tomorrow.