The Sierra Club has a lot of great tips for making your holidays a little greener. Here are a few I thought I'd share:
BUY ENERGY-SAVING "LED" HOLIDAY LIGHTS
Now you can decorate your house with LED lights that use 90 percent less energy than conventional holiday lights, and can save your family up to $50 on your energy bills during the holiday season! LED lights are available at many major retailers, including Target, CostCo, and Ace Hardware.
GET A PESTICIDE-FREE TREE
Demand is on the rise for Christmas trees that are not covered in chemicals; some growers use 40 different pesticides, as well as chemical colorants. The good news is that there are now a number of tree-farms that sell pesticide-free trees, so ask your local Christmas tree seller, or search for an organic tree farm near you.
DO A "COOL HOME" TOUR WITH OUR ENERGY-SAVING CHECKLIST
Take a pledge this New Years' to reduce your home energy use by buying energy-efficient light bulbs. Installing only 6 compact fluorescent light bulbs will save the average American family $60 per year. You can also use our handy "Cool Homes" checklist to see what easy things you can do in your home to save energy. If there's a fire in your fireplace this Christmas, turn down that thermostat! Lowering the temperature even five degrees can take 10% off your energy bill.
ADD ORGANIC & LOCAL FOODS TO YOUR HOLIDAY FEAST
Support local family farmers who grow sustainable meat and produce. Not only does it taste better, you'll be doing your part for the planet too. Looking for an organic turkey or ham for Christmas dinner? Find out where to get local green products in your neighborhood.
This website is an online environmental resource for kids to find ideas, information, and inspiration to go green.
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Monday, December 3, 2007
Friday, November 30, 2007
Treehugger has released their 2007 Green Gift Guide. They have a special section for kids with some great items that are both eco-friendly as well as some that help strengthen kid's relationship with nature. They list over 180 gifts categorized in three shades of green.
Friday, November 9, 2007
Did you know that you can sign up for clean Green Energy for your home? Most utility companies offer the choice of green energy at the same or comparable cost as traditional energy from polluting sources like coal–fired plants. We signed up for Green Power through our utility company and had no interruption in our service. As an added bonus, some states do not charge sales tax on the delivery portion of your bill. So you might even save money!
Visit green-e.org to find out what services are available in your area.
I wanted to follow up the last post about toxic chemicals with the startling results of a new study done to test for toxic chemicals in our bodies. The study tested 35 average Americans from seven states. Each participant was tested for contamination by twenty toxic chemicals from three chemical families: phthalates (THA-lates), bisphenol A, and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs). Visit Is It In Us? for more results and information on what you can do.
Here is a NPR interview with Judy Robinson, who works for the Environmental Health Fund, and conducted the study, and Heather Loukmas who was a participant in the study.
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
Everyone hates cleaning…and who can blame us? Not only is it tedious, it is also dangerous for your health and the planet. Most household cleaners are made from petroleum and a variety of toxic chemicals. This may seem like a good excuse for get out of doing your chores, but the toxicity of household cleaning products can irritate your eyes, skin, and lungs and even your central nervous system whether you are the one doing the cleaning or not. And whats more, once these toxins wash down the drain, they contaminate streams and ground water.
Did you know?
–Because of household cleaners and pesticides, the air inside the typical home is 2–5 times—and in extreme cases 100 times—more polluted than the air outside.
–Household chemicals are largely responsible for the more than 7 million accidental poisonings that occur each year, with more than 75% involving children.
-More than 150 chemicals that are found in the home are connected to allergies, birth defects, cancer and psychological disorders.
–If every household replaced one bottle of petroleum–based dishwashing liquid with a vegetable–based product, we would save 82,000 barrels of oil a year–enough to drive a car over 86 million miles!
So here's what you can do:
Concoct your own cleaning products.
You can make your own cleaning products out of a few basic household items. This would make a great gift if you made your own labels with the recipe on the side, especially for Mother’s or Father’s Day.
Step 1: Collect empty spray bottles and glass jars with lids.
Step 2: Get a measuring cup and measuring spoons
Step 3: Follow these easy recipes!
1/4 cup vinegar or 1 Tbsp lemon juice
2+ cups water
Fill a clean spray bottle with water and either white vinegar or lemon juice. After spraying on glass, wipe with a rag or old newspaper.
1/2 cup white vinegar
1 teaspoon olive oil
Mix in a jar and apply with a clean rag to dust and polish. Reduce the olive oil if wood looks too oily.
(You can also swap the vinegar for lemon juice, mixing equal parts lemon juice and olive oil.)
All Purpose Cleaner:
1 cup white vinegar
1 cup water
Mix in a sprayer bottle.
1 part hydrogen peroxide
2 parts water
Mix in a spray bottle. Spray on surface and leave to dry for one hour. Rinse the area off.
On the Spot cleaning formulas:
These recipes for homemade cleaners are best used right away. Some of these fun recipes fizz like science fair volcanoes!
Pour 1/2 cup of baking soda down drain, followed by 1 cup of vinegar. When the fizzing stops pour down a kettleful of boiling water.
1/2 cup of baking soda
a little bit of water and lemon juice
To clean and deodorize, sprinkle toilet bowl with baking soda, add white vinegar and scrub with a toilet brush.
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 gallon warm water
Carpet & Upholstery
Rub a little shaving cream on stains and wipe with sponge
Sunday, November 4, 2007
Step It Up came and went this Saturday. I am so glad that people came out to take part despite the Nor'easter. It was a success and we had a lot of fun. Click here to view other Step it up events. After looking at all the other events around the country, I feel confident that we are on a roll and congress will listen!
Friday, November 2, 2007
Tomorrow, November 3rd is Step It Up Day. I urge everyone to find a Step It Up action in their area and to attend. It is so encouraging to congregate with people who also care about the environment and are determined to do something about it. We are not alone in our struggle! Just look at that map up there...everyone of those dots represents an action that will take place tomorrow. We are turning America green!
Here is a link to a guest article I wrote for the Step It Up Blog, and another article about a group of kids that have started a grassroots organization in New York City called Super Heroes Needed.
Monday, October 22, 2007
I just found this really cool site called EcoKids. It is filled with information about the environment and has a ton of games to play. You can also find out what other kids around the world are doing to help protect the environment. Their stories are very inspirational and might give you some ideas of you own. Check it out!
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
If I were a teacher I would be very excited about this new online green education resource. The George Lucas Educational Foundation recently launched "Go Green Database" on Edutopia.org. The database features Green projects, lesson plans, service-learning opportunities and other resources that can be searched in many ways—by topic, grade level, cost and location. The database also allows users to add, rate and comment on or upload their own resources. Teachers, check it out!
Monday, October 15, 2007
We have 19 days and counting until we Step It Up and demand real leadership on global warming. If you haven't already signed up yet please take a second to visit the website and do so. If you are not sure if you should attend, watch this video trailer of Everything's Cool featuring Step It Up! The actions, the rallies, the signs and the thousands of people who spoke up at the first Step It Up Day in April is really inspiring. Lets make November 3rd even better!
Friday, October 5, 2007
I just learned about a Green invention contest for kids sponsored by the website By Kids for Kids (BKFK) and the Weather Channel. Here's the low down if your are interested:
BKFK Launches the "Going Green Challenge" with $10,000 Grand Prize
America's "Green Teens" Challenged to Create New Eco Products and Services to Save the Environment"
STAMFORD, CT - October 2, 2007 - By Kids for Kids (BKFK) today announced the "Going Green Challenge," designed to stimulate the creation of new products or services that could help the global environmental crisis. With an unprecedented $10,000 grand prize, the "Going Green Challenges" seeks solutions to some of our most pressing environmental issues, including; global warming, drought, famine and flooding. The Going Green Challenge is sponsored by The Weather Channel.
Green Teens already in action proving that young people can make a difference include: Smitha Ramakrishna, 15, was one of ten chosen in the nation for the President's Environmental Youth Award, given by the EPA. She was recognized for a special project that helped deliver clean water to the world. Victor Nashan, 16, of Tanzania, East Africa, raises environmental consciousness through using creative methods like songs, poems, art and games. And Gabriela McCall, 17, initiated a project to raise public awareness about birds and the importance of preserving their habitat in Puerto Rico.
The Going Green Challenge officially runs from October 1 – December 31st. All youth under the age of 19 are eligible to participate. Participants can create and invent new methods to improve air quality, alternative energy, forest reclamation, irrigation, land preservation, recycling systems, water purity and more. All entries must be received via the newly revamped BKFK website, www.bkfk.com.
Sounds pretty cool, let me know if you decide to enter!
Monday, October 1, 2007
That's the question the thousands of people will be asking in cities and towns across the country on November 3rd. Step it Up Day was launched on April 14th as a citizen's movement to fight climate change. In all 50 states, at more than 1400 iconic places across the nation, americans called on their leaders to act immediately to stop global warming by boldly stating: "Step It Up Congress: Cut Carbon 80% by 2050."
On November 3rd the Green Guide for Kids will join with thousands of others across the country in calling on our politicians and candidates to take steps to meet the goal set on April 14th. We will gather at Grand Army Plaza and work together to create a banner that will ask politicians and candidates: Who Is A Leader? A photograph taken of all participants with the banner will be sent to Congress and candidates running for president one year to the date before the federal elections. Local and federal politicians will be invited to this event! I encourage you to invite them too...the more we pressure them, the better the chance that they will show up. So be a pest! To sign up and learn more about Step It Up 2007 click here.
If you do not live in the New York area but want to get involved, visit stepitup.com to find or start and action in your area. This is an important opportunity to tell candidates that the fight against global warming is important to us...especially if you are not old enough to tell them with your vote!
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
I just learned about a great annual event called The International Children's Painting Competition on the Environment. The competition, which has been held since 1991, is organized by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Japan-based Foundation for Global Peace and Environment (FGPE), Bayer and Nikon Corporation. It has had 180,000 entries from children in over 100 countries. This year's theme was Climate Change, and the 1st Prize Global Winner is above.
Click here for more information on how to enter the competition. What a great way to take action and be heard! Also, if you are feeling inspired to create your own art on the environment, you can send it to me and I will display it on this website.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Here's a great idea that I wish I had come up with: raising money for your school or community organization by collecting and recycling electronics. Instead of walking around your block selling magazines and other junk to your neighbors that they don't want (but buy out of guilt), do them a favor and take their junk off their hands. They will be forever greatful.
75% of old electronics sit in closets and basements all over the country because people don't know how to properly dispose of them. Popularly known as e-waste, old cell phones, dvd players, tv's, computers, dvd's, cameras, etc., are dangerous to the environment because they leak hazardous materials such as cadmium, lead, mercury, hexavalent chromium or chromium VI and brominated flame retardants into the ground and air. To make matters worse, electronics are made using valuable resources such as precious metals, engineered plastics, glass, and other materials that require energy to manufacture. When electronics are thrown in a landfill, these precious materials are lost and more energy will be required to produce new products from virgin resources.
EcoPhones is an company that has helped 22,000 schools and organizations raise funds by recycling electronics. They pay up $300 per item! For more information visit their website.
Monday, September 3, 2007
It's that time of year again. The first day of school. If it hasn't happened to you yet, it will soon! Are you a little scared? Or really excited? I used to love the walk to school with my friends the first day back. We would leave really early to leave lots of time to discuss all the critical things: who we hoped was in our class, who we dreaded being in our class, and where exactly we would meet on the playground at recess to update eachother on the these topics. It was our way of easing into the long year ahead of us.
There are about 242,000,000 cars driving around the United States. Cars and trucks run on fossil fuels, which release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. In fact, cars are responsible for 30% of greenhouses gas emissions. Although you may not be old enough to drive, you are old enough to make choices about how you get around. Instead of having mom or dad drive you to school or to practice, walk or ride your bike. Start a club of kids from your neighborhood to walk or bike to school with you. Encourage each other to join in the group everyday. Walking or riding to school is a great chance to hang out with your friends and is much more fun than sitting in a car! So whiz past all the traffic and arrive at school or practice energized and ready to go. For every mile you walk or bike, you will save 1 pound of carbon dioxide from being emitted into the atmosphere.
To help you with this activity:
–Set a goal with your friends for a certain number of days of walking or biking instead of riding in a car. When you reach your goal, celebrate! Have a party or treat yourselves to your favorite treat.
–Turn this into a classroom activity. Have teachers keep track of car–free days, and compete with other classrooms in your school.
–If you live too far from school to walk or ride a bike, ask your parents or bus driver to drop you off a 1/2 mile from school or home and walk the rest of the way.
–Extra Bonus: Walking and bike riding are great for your health and will help you feel great too!
-Click here for safty tips for riding your bike.
-Bicyclists get 2,500 miles per gallon (this takes into consideration the extra kilocalories of food you will eat to give you the energy to pedal that bike.)
-Sidewalks and bike paths require a fraction of land compared to roads.
-According to the Department of Transportation, cars in the US are driven an average of 10,000 miles annually—which means that Americans drive more than a trillion miles every year!
Monday, August 27, 2007
We all want to make the world a better place. But knowing where to begin and how to get involved can be a major road block for many of us. As a kid, getting people to take you seriously can be frustrating. And as a parent or teacher, you may want to be leader for your children in making an impact on the environment but don't know how. Roots & Shoots offers wonderful opportunities to join in and get involved. Roots & Shoots teams make positive change happen for their communities, for animals and for the environment through projects, special events and global campaigns. It is a youth–driven network of 8,000 groups in 100 countries guided by the priciples and vision of Dr. Jane Goodall, renowned primatologist, environmentalist and humanitarian. "Her firm belief that young people, when informed and empowered, when they realize that what they do truly makes a difference, can indeed change the world, is at the very heart of our program."
You can either join a pre-existing group or start your own. If you are an educator, click here for information on how to implement a Roots & Shoots program at your school.
Monday, August 20, 2007
While visiting Acadia National Park on Mt. Desert Island, Maine, I have been enjoying the seemingly endless number of hiking trails on the island. I have gone on 5 hikes in 5 days. (Disclaimer: some were more like picnics in the woods, but others were so long that it all averages out!) I have 2 days left on the island, and I hope to do 2 more hikes. Being a country girl, living in the city, being anywhere near nature is such a thrill for me.
With the summer days winding down and cool fall days just ahead, now is a prime hiking time. Hiking can be as simple as strolling in the woods or as rigorous as scaling a mountain top. All across the country, thousands of beautiful, secluded trails are ready and waiting to be explored. When you step away from the daily sights and sounds of your life and into the woods, the desert, or the field, you will begin to notice the incredible diversity of life we have on our planet. Hiking is a fantastic way to strengthen your relationship with nature, and a rousing reminder of what is at stake if we don't take care of the environment.
For a helpful guide to hiking and information on taking a volunteer hiking vacation visit americanhiking.org. This website also has a great
guide to trails across the U.S.
Visit abc-of-hiking.com for a beginners guide to hiking.
We need the tonic of wildness…We can never have enough of nature…We need to witness our own limits transgressed, and some life pasturing freely where we never wander.
Henry David Thoreau from Walden Pond
Friday, August 17, 2007
Growing a backyard habitat can do many wonderful things for the environment besides halting the use of a polluting lawnmower. You can plant a variety of native trees, bushes and wildflowers that have evolved to live in your area and require virtually no maintenance. Trees grow deep roots that prevent soil from eroding and also conserve water. Your habitat will encourage beautiful birds, butterflies, insects and other wildlife to your yard. Because so many animals are crowded out of their natural habitats by buildings and roads, your backyard will become an important sanctuary for them to thrive in. Wildlife need food, water and shelter to survive. When you plant native trees, bushes and flowers, you have already begun to provide food and shelter.
Here are some more helpful tips to attract creatures to your yard:
–Put out a birdbath. Make sure to change the water in the birdbath every other day so that it doesn’t turn into mosquitoville! Every few days scrub it with a stiff brush or pinecone and rinse it well.
–Choose plants that flower and produce fruit at different times of the year so that creatures will have food to eat year–round.
–Provide shelter by placing logs, brushes and rocks in your habitat.
This is a great opportunity to create a nature journal to record the exciting changes that you will see as your habitat begins to grow and attract creatures!
Activity: The Toad Abode
Get a medium-size clay pot and saucer. Fill the saucer with water and put it on the ground. Close by, put the pot upside-down with one edge propped up with a rock. This will give the toad enough room to fit inside his cozy “abode”. If you can find a broken pot that is missing a chunk then there will be no need to prop it up—all the better!
For more information on backyard habitats, visit the National Wildlife Federation website on gardening for wildlife and click here to watch clips from Animal Planet's show Backyard Habitat.
Sunday, August 12, 2007
Do you find that you are running out of good excuses when your parents ask you to mow the lawn? They will be surprised to hear that using a lawnmower for one hour pollutes the air as much as driving in a car for 350 miles!
Lawns can pollute in other ways, too. A lot of water is used to keep grass green...in fact, almost one-third of all household water use–more than 7 billion gallons per day–goes to watering lawns. And to make matters worse, we in the United States use 580 million gallons of gas for our lawnmowers, spend $5 billion dollars every year on fertilizers made from fossil fuels and use 67 million pounds of synthetic pesticides for our lawns! Convinced? Good, now here's what you can do:
1) Use an electric lawn mower. They produce less than 1% of the smog-contributing carbon monoxide that gas mowers put out and 1/9000th the hydrocarbons. However, they only produce 6 less pounds of carbon dioxide.
2) So, better yet, use a reel push mower like one of these. With no electricity costs, zero on-site emissions and a much smaller price tag they are a great option.
3) Water your lawn only in the morning or the evening. Water evaporates 8 times faster during the heat of the day!
4) Collect water from downspouts to water your lawn.
5) And finally, turning your yard into a backyard habitat is the best way to make your yard really green. But we'll save that for the next post. So check back in to learn more...
Tuesday, August 7, 2007
I've been blog-tagged. I am having playround flashbacks!
The rules are a little different than playground tag. I have to list 8 little known facts about myself and then tag 8 other unsuspecting bloggers.
So here are 8 things you probably don't know about me:
1) I have a new kitten named Fionn (pronounced Finn). He's a riot. He loves kielbasa and chasing his tale in the bathtub.
2) I love peanut butter. I love to eat any food that has peanut butter in it. My all-time favorite food was Ben & Jerry's Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie Dough, which now sadly rests in peace at the B&J's graveyard of flavors.
3) My favorite band is U2. That is a very well known fact actually.
4) I still sleep with a stuffed animal. His name is Opus, he's the penguin from Bloom County. I have had him for 20 years.
5) I have a wonderful family. Two loving parents who have been married for 35 years. A brother and sister-in-law who are now terrific parents to 3 beautiful girls. And I have 2 sisters who inspire me everyday.
6) When I was little I wanted to save all of the endangered species. I still do.
7) I love to ski really fast.
8) I'm an artist.
I have tagged:
Its getting hot in here
Green Girls Global
Rachel Carson 2007
Monday, August 6, 2007
By now you probably have heard phrases like "climate crisis" and "carbon emissions" being used when discussing the environmental crisis. You maybe be wondering "what's so bad about carbon?" In fact, there is nothing wrong with carbon. It is the building block for life. Yet too much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is causing global warming. This inconsistency can be very confusing. National Public Radio's ongoing program Climate Connections helps makes sense of this contradiction in its great series called IT'S ALL ABOUT CARBON. It's a humorous look at the science behind global warming. Watch the five cartoon episodes and you will be saying "ah–ha" instead of "huh?"
Thursday, August 2, 2007
Here's a great idea inspired by Real Simple Magazine's article on turning old frames into refridgerator art. If you have any old frames lying around the house--and you probably do--you can make these little friendly reminders with green thinking messages inside.
Here's what you do:
Step 1: Find old frames that are not too heavy.
Step 2: Decorate the frame however you wish. You could paint it, sand it to make it look antique, glue shells on it or cover it with stickers. Be creative!
Step 3: Design your message to go inside the frame. It can say anything that you think is important to remember, like "Turn off the lights!" or just a little reminder to "think green today". Put your message inside the frame.
Step 4: Once the frame is ready, glue old magnets, or new magnet strips, to the back.
Step 5: Put your new message frame on the fridge or somewhere magnetic and you're done. Good job!
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Planting native trees is a small act that will have a huge impact. Trees absorb carbon dioxide from the air and in turn produce oxygen for us to breath. A tree can absorb and store between 700 and 7,000 pounds of carbon dioxide over its lifetime. When providing shade for a house, a tree can reduce the energy required to run the air conditioner and can save an extra 200 to 2,000 pounds of carbon dioxide over it’s lifetime.
Native trees are a good idea because they are plants that have evolved to live in your area. They require little maintenance and provide homes and food for creatures in their ecosystem.
If you want to learn more about planting trees, the American Forest Organization has a nice guide here. Visit Arborday.org to find out what trees will grow in your area.
Saturday, July 28, 2007
One of the best things you can do for the planet is also one of the simplest. Replacing one traditional incandescent light bulb with a compact fluorescent light bulb (known as a CFL) will stop 100 pounds of carbon emissions from entering the atmosphere. The energy you would save would be equal to the amount used to run a nuclear power plant for one year. Now just imagine if you changed all of the light bulbs in your house!
Friday, July 27, 2007
While visiting the Bronx Zoo yesterday I went to the Congo Gorilla Forest, a great exhibit with more than 20 western lowland gorillas. Outside the exhibit I noticed a recepticle and a sign asking people to recycle their old cell phones. You are probably wondering, what does my cell phone have to do with gorillas? Unfortunately, according to National Geographic News, it has a lot to do with it. Many electronic devices, including ipods, most computers, dvd players and game consoles, contain coltan, a mineral that is extracted from the forests of Congo in central Africa. These forests are the home to the endangered lowland gorillas. In recent years Congo's coltan mining has gotten out of control and has led to a dramatic loss of animal habitat and a 70% population decline of gorillas. More than 10,000 illegal miners have come to dig for coltan in protected parks in cental Africa, killing gorillas and elephants for the bush-meat trade (the hunting of wild animals for food.)
But thanks to Eco-cell, which runs a recycling program at 46 different zoos, we can recycle old cellphones and be a part of the solution. Click here to find where to go in your area to recycle your old cell phones. For more information on the Congo and a list of products that contain coltan, visit The Friends of the Congo website.
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Check out this great website created by our favorite ice cream guys, Ben & Jerry's. Lick Global Warming is a colorful and animated website with an easy to understand guide to the climate crisis, along with an interactive map that explains the effects of global warming on glaciers, oceans, weather patterns, plants and animals, along with other difficult to comprehend topics such as how global warming is impacting people around the world. For a fun way to learn more about what you can do to reduce carbon emissions, play the Lick Global Warming Memory Game. It's almost as fun as eating a whole pint of cookie dough ice cream all by yourself!
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
When I was in 4th grade, my school, and the entire country, celebrated the second ever Earth Day. This was the first time that adults had spoken honestly to me, and probably most of my classmates, about the environment. I learned that day that the well-being of the earth that I lived, breathed and played on was, in a way, sick. I was taught that human beings, by going about their day to day lives, were slowly polluting and destroying the planet. But instead of letting this very distressing news get me down, I got right to work at fixing the problem. I picked up all the litter on the walk on the way home from school. When my friends came over after school we continued cleaning up all the litter on our block and in the woods across the street from my house until dinner time. I was determined that I could make a difference, and I did!
Today, the environmental crisis we face is much more dangerous than we realized 17 years ago. You may think that kids can't really make a difference. You probably feel frustrated with adults, wondering when are they going to do something? Kind of like when your mom or dad are talking with another adult at the store and they won't stop blabbering. You get antsy and just want to go!!! That urge for kids to get up and go is why kids are such a powerful force to change the world. While most adults stand around and talk about doing things, kids do things.
This website is a place for you to get information, share ideas with kids from all over the world and learn about cool activities that will change the planet for the better. So don't be afraid to speak up and share your questions and experiences. Let's get started!
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