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Rewear, Reuse, Recycle

You put your clothing and shoes in a Gaia Movement collection box. Once a week (or more often), we collect the clothing from the boxes. Read more...

Gaia School Program

Gaia provides free environmental educational programs and works to promote sustainable practices like the reuse of clothes by placing Gaia Clothes Collection Bins with schools throughout Chicago. Read more...

Urban Gardening

Over the past few years Gaia has planted flowers, bushes and trees around our ware house facility. This has provided living space for birds and other animals. Read more...

Take Action

The Gaia Movement USA encourages all people to understand their impact on the environment. - Read more...

St. Vincent Update 3


St Vincent Update 3

The Windward Side


            This issue will be a short intermediate issue. It will be about the trip we took to the windward side of the island last week. There will be a longer issue coming soon about our food production.

            Most of the life on the island is along the coast. Because of this, the island is divided into two sides. The school is on the west, or leeward side, as far north as the road goes. Last week we went to the east side, windward. We went to sign schools up for a tree planting competition called the treelympics, you can see about it at www.treelympics.org. It is very easy to sign the schools up, and we could have done it over the phone, but we used it as an excuse to go on a little vacation.

            There is no road across the island, so we had to travel south into Kingstown then north again on the leeward side. We left on Monday morning; since other people from school needed to go to town we took a cab to Kingstown. There we met a friend of the school who drove us to the northern part of the island. Driving north I noticed differences right away. The ocean had actual waves; they don’t call it windward for no reason. Our side of the island is protected, so the ocean is like a large swimming pool. The windward side has beaches that look much more like beaches on the ocean. Also, there are some areas with flat land between the ocean and mountains. On the leeward side there are just mountains right next to the ocean. Finally it seemed as though the people on the windward side had more money. Maybe it was because we were in larger towns, but it seemed like the houses were larger, and people were employed in more than fishing and drinking.

            To sign up the schools we split into teams and went to different schools. My partner, Berry, and I were dropped off in Sandy Bay. The other teams were dropped off farther north in Owia and Fancy. After we signed up the two schools in Sandy Bay we got a ride on a truck hauling dirt and went to Owia where we were to spend the night.


Owia Salt Pond

            We camped that night at the Owia Salt Pond. This is an area on the ocean where a natural barrier of rocks has formed a calm pond, which is quite deep, 15 ft in some areas. As you walk down to the salt pond you first see a large wall of rocks about 75 ft out in the ocean. Along two sides running from the beach to the rock wall are shorter walls of rock, sticking out just above the water level. The ocean comes crashing into the rocks, and then trickles into the salt pond. It was great entertainment to sit and watch the fierce ocean batter the rocks, only to get stopped, and run slowly back into the ocean and pond. We sat there for a long time in the late afternoon and evening.

            The next morning we headed back out to sign up schools. Because there isn’t much transportation that far north we had to hitch on the back of a pickup. The group that was inside the pickup didn’t let the driver know where we were going so we went too far; Berry and I had to hitch back the other way. The person who picked us up was very nice, he drove us 20 or 30 minutes out of his way; all the way up to the school in Tourama, near Orange Hill. This was one of the nicest schools we went to. It was up in the hills; a little ways away from the town. It had a large yard where the kids could go play. Many of the schools here have large open spaces, but they all have been filled in by concrete. I feel so sorry when I see the green on this lush island, and then watch the kids running around on concrete.

            From Tourama we got rides past Georgetown to Colonarie, which is pronounced “connery”. The primary and secondary schools are next to each other, and share a large yard for the students. This made it easy to sign up both schools. Although we ran into another problem that some of these schools have: slow internet. At the primary school it took us about 30 minutes to fill in two short forms online. We actually gave up on the second form, because the internet was going on and off too much. We completed it once we got back to Richmond.


We took any rides we could.

            Then we headed up to the village of Byera to the Pamulus Burke Primary School. This was a picturesque village on the bank of a river. We got dropped off along the main road at the bottom of the village, and of course the school was at the top of the village. From Byera we rushed back to Georgetown to get to one last school on our day’s list, but it had already been done by another team. The schools, and many businesses, close at 3 pm, so there is a very short time to get things done.

            As we got off the bus in Georgetown we ran into Esther; a member of the one month team we had worked with when we first arrived in St Vincent. Prior to our trip we tried to contact her, but were unable to, so it was destiny that we got off one bus and she got off the one that was coming just behind. We enjoyed catching up as we did some errands and made our way to the church we were to spend the night at.

            Wednesday was a very long day; we only had three schools left, but they were all inland. St Vincent has a main road that runs along both coasts of the island. There are many public vans and ways to hitchhike along these main roads. The roads that go inland have fewer people travelling along them, and public transportation doesn’t reach all areas. Also, the towns are more rural, so many towns are larger in size than those on the coast, but less densely packed.

            In the morning we took a van south from Georgetown, and then hitched to our first school, Lauders Primary. After getting them signed up we got a ride to our next school in Greggs. But we got dropped off at the old school which hadn’t been open for years, so we had to walk through the whole town to get to the new school, and of course the principal wasn’t there that morning so we had to make arrangements to come back. However we did find out how to get to the other school we had to visit, which sounded like, and was in fact, hard to get to.

            We got a public van that took us up and over a hill and along the ridge of a valley. It dropped us off at a deserted intersection on the ridge. We were told to walk over a small hill and then down into another valley. It was a weird experience; there we were, tourists, on a tropical island, in the middle of nowhere searching for a school and town that may or may not be there. Well, we walked up the hill and immediately got tired when we saw how far down in the valley the town was, it was two or three miles by road. There wasn’t anything, no cars, no people, just an old house. Luckily, someone just happened to come by as we were hemming and hawing. He knew a short cut down to the town. It was a nice walk; it was off the road, on a trail. I felt a little like a missionary trying to reach some remote village in the amazon, not knowing if I will have a friendly welcome, or be eaten by the villagers (ok, so it wasn’t that bad). Actually our guide was very nice, and picked us some plums; which we enjoyed for lunch. We eventually made it to the village of Simon, and the school there. We had to wait thirty minutes or so. During this time we enjoyed relaxing, but were also fretting the long walk back up out of the valley. We looked for cars passing by, but only saw one going the wrong way. Indeed after we got the school signed up, and got more plums from the principal, we had to walk back up the valley. We saw a couple more cars going the wrong way. Finally, when we got near the top a car came by and gave us a lift the rest of the way to the top of the hill. It was only a short ride, but they were our heroes that day.

            We had to walk along the main road on the ridge for a while before we got a ride. It wasn’t a bad walk though because it was flat and we looked down into a valley that was very lush and beautiful. This is the area of the island they call Mesopotamia because it is so fertile. We were also more relaxed because we only had one school left on our list for the week, and we knew where it was. One of the hardest parts of our project was finding the schools when we only know the name of the school, not the town it is in.

            After signing up the final school we went back to Georgetown and met up with the rest of our team. We spent the afternoon at Esther’s house. She has a very nice home. Like most homes here it is smaller than most homes in the U.S., but it was plenty big enough to live in. She also a great garden; her whole yard was planted. She claimed that she didn’t know much about gardening when she was at Richmond Vale, but she obviously knew some. The garden was very healthy. And she had many fruits and vegetables growing in an area that probably wasn’t even 100 ft2.

            Since all of the teams had finished signing up the schools we decided to go to the Falls of Baleine on Thursday. The falls are located at the north end of the island, and the easiest way to get there is by boat. We got rides up to Owia, and took a boat from there. The falls were beautiful; they fall about 60 ft. We were able to swim in the pool under the falls where we got great views of the water coming over the edge. This is probably the best waterfall on the island, and well worth the trip to get there.

            When we got back to Owia we took a van all the way to the southern end of the island to Villa. There we camped in the garden of friends of the school, Empress and Yakob. They had the garden going very well, although much of it was still being set up. They are part of the local Rastafarian movement, and they want to use the garden as a teaching tool. Their plan is to create a well maintained garden and farm, and to have a building where they can teach the community about environmental issues. Villa is one of the two tourist areas on the island. It is crowded and very busy. The garden is very near the tourist area. I think it will be good for the community to have somewhere to learn about environmental issues, and to show the tourists that Vincentians are also thinking about these issues.

            Our trip was long and tiring, but it was also very worthwhile. Along with getting the schools signed up for tree-planting, we were able to really explore many parts of the island. We also met many people and got a better understanding of how they live. Everyone we met was very friendly and many went out of their way to help us. (Except for the person in the truck who yelled, “Take a bus!” to us when we were trying to hitchhike).






Bushwhacking through the jungle.


On the way to the Falls of Baleine.


Our friend Esther in her garden.

Tired. Waiting for a bus


We actually got a comfortable ride.


Camping in Villa


  • Recycling is Good for the Environment The U.S It takes less energy to create new items from recycled materials than it does to create new products from raw materials. Mining minerals and milling trees into lumber requires vast amounts of energy. Recycling allows us to reuse materials many times to conserve natural resources while creating the products we use in our everyday lives. Extracting materials from mines or forests is done far from the place where goods are consumed; however recycling starts in your own home. Gathering recyclables and reprocessing them into feedstock for future products is done locally by people who live, work and spend money in their own communities. Burning garbage or throwing waste into landfills produces byproducts that pollute the environment. Runoff from landfills and metals like mercury find their way into streams, rivers and oceans, fish, and eventually into human beings, harming our health.


    Why should we care about Landfills?The U.S. has 3,091 active landfills and over 10,000 old municipal landfills, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. However, in the "good old days," every town (and many businesses and factories) had its own dump.  There are 39,044 general purpose local governments in the United States - 3,043 county governments and 36,001 sub-county general purpose governments (towns & townships). One suspects that there are many more old and abandoned commercial, private, and municipal dumps than the 10,000 estimated by the EPA.

    All landfills could require remediation, but particularly landfills built in the last 60 years will require thorough clean-up due to the disposal of highly toxic chemicals manufactured and sold since the 1940's.


  • Greening your kitchen

    Kitchens are a major source of harm for the environment. Often times, it is a place where food is wasted, water is used in abundance and energy is used in excess. Thus, when attempting to make changes to go green, it is important to evaluate the practices one is using in his or her kitchen and make applicable changes.


    Eco-friendly cleaning products

    Green cleaning techniques and products avoid the use of chemically reactive and toxic cleaning products which contain various toxic chemicals, some of which emit volatile organic compounds causing respiratory, dermatological and other conditions. Green cleaning can also describe the way residential and industrial cleaning products are manufactured, packaged and distributed. If the manufacturing process is environmentally friendly and the products are biodegradable, then the term "green" or "eco-friendly" may apply.

    Green cleaning is behavioral as well as simply using healthy and environmentally friendly products. Consumers are being made aware of the ways in which green cleaning is most-effectively used. In fact, more emphasis these days is being placed on microfiber technology which eliminates the need for chemical cleaning supplies, or even green cleaners. Just water alone and a quality microfiber cloth can eliminate over 99% of bacteria from hard surfaces. Using very hot water or steam cleaning is also and effective method without chemicals simply by heat-treating the surface.

  • Your carbon footprint Footprints offer clues about where we came from and where we're headed. Their impressions tell us something about the animals that leave them. But while actual footprints offer details on size, weight and speed, carbon footprints measure how much carbon dioxide (CO2) we produce just by going about our daily lives. A drive to work, a flip of a light switch and a flight out of town all rely on the combustion of fossil fuels like oil, coal and gas. When fossil fuels burn, they emit greenhouse gases like CO2 that contribute to global warming. Ninety-eight percent of atmospheric CO2 comes from the combustion of fossil fuels.


    The lungs of Earth

    Tropical rainforests are often called the "lungs of the planet" because they generally draw in carbon dioxide and breathe out oxygen. But the amount of carbon dioxide that rainforests absorb, or produce, varies hugely with year-to-year variations in the climate. Rainforests do play a key role in the global ecosystem. Some experts are now calling them the "air conditioners to the world," because their dark depths absorb heat from the sun. Without the forest cover, these regions would reflect more heat into the atmosphere, warming the rest of the world. Losing the rainforests may also have a profound effect on global wind and rainfall patterns, potentially causing droughts throughout the United States and other areas.

    The act of deforestation itself affects the environment as a whole. Roughly 30 percent of the carbon dioxide released in the air (a leading cause of global warming) comes from burning the rainforests.


Latest News

  • The Environmental Impact of Clothes

    Here is something you can feel good about:

    Every pound of clothes donated saves 8.8 lbs of CO2!

    Help save the Environment

    By donating gently used (or even new) clothes you contribute to the good health of our planet. Production of new cotton as well as other textile fibers puts a strain on the environment: To produce 1 lb. of clothes -that is 1 pair of trousers - requires on average:

     10,000 lb. of water
     0.5 lb. of fertilizers
     0.4 oz. of pesticides

    and results in emissions of:
     6 lb. of greenhouse gases

    Read more ...  
  • Carbon Footprint

    The Gaia Movement USA encourages all people to understand their impact on the environment. Whether you realize it or not, your purchases, bathing habits, food choices, and other decisions all have an effect on the planet. Because of this, Gaia advises citizens to read up on how to reduce their carbon footprint and therefore help to preserve the long-term stability of the environment.

    Read more ...  
  • Green by Gardening

    When it comes to helping the earth, many people feel they are powerless to affect the major factors responsible for environmental degradation. To some degree, this is true, but that does not discount the value in trying to introduce more sustainable practices in one’s life.

    Read more ...  
  • Comprehensive Recycling

    In order to make recycling as successful as possible, you need to take the time to sort recyclables into separate containers. Here’s why. Each type of recyclable material must undergo a different process to prepare it to be used again, so items will need to be sorted at some point. If your recyclables are all mixed up with the garbage, it makes it more difficult for trash companies to sort and it’s likely that many recyclable items will get lost amidst the waste, ending up in the landfill.

    Read more ...

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General Information

 The Gaia Movement USA, is a registered 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization. We started in 1999 in Illinois and we are currently also active in Indiana, Kentucky, and Oregon.
Our mission is to create awareness about the plight of the environment, to educate the public about caring for our planet, humanity and the environment, to run recycling operations and to support environmental projects and programs locally and globally.