This spring Enviro Girl taught a class of 2nd graders about nutrition and one of the activities they did involved reading the labels on various beverage containers: a can of soda, a bottle of sports drink, a juice box, a pint of milk, a pint of chocolate milk, a pint of orange juice. They were collectively astonished at how much sugar was in all of the drinks. Continue reading
It’s that time of year–to celebrate dear ‘ol dad, and it is possible to show him he’s special without adding undue harm to the environment by buying a bunch of stuff. Here’s a list of eco-friendly Fathers Day gift ideas for whatever kind of dad you’re celebrating this June:
* Game tickets–splurge on box seats at a major league stadium or a day at a minor league park. If your dad’s a sports fan, hook him up with a couple of tickets to watch a team event.
* Local brew–whether a wine guy or a beer guy, introduce your father to a bottle or twelve-pack of something made in your region. Reduce his “beer miles” while supporting the local economy. Or try a nonalcoholic local brew by giving Dad fair trade coffee grounds.
* Treat your dad to a round of golf or a game of bowling. Quality time is more precious than a pair of socks or another new tie!
* Of course, if you are going to buy your dad socks, Enviro Girl recommends SmartWool socks for durability, sustainability and quality.
* If your pop’s not savvy to environmental issues, he probably would still enjoy a solar-powered phone charger because lowering electrical bills never goes out of style.
* Is your dad a grill guy? Enviro Girl wholeheartedly recommends a chimney starter for charcoal grillers–he’ll never need lighter fluid again! For advanced grillers, a package of woodchips or some locally produced marinades always impress!
* Music lovers always enjoy concert tickets, another great gift he’ll never need to dust or store.
* Enviro Girl has given her dad a new shrub for his yard. Not sure what a gardening kind of guy needs to add to his landscaping? A gift certificate to a local greenhouse or garden center is a good gift, too!
* Enviro Girl has also given her dad books for Fathers Day. He enjoys biographies best, or anything about business and investing.
Whether spending a LOT (like a day at a major league ballpark) or a little (bottle of local wine), it’s the thought that counts. Write your favorite memories of your father or serenade him with a song when you give him his eco-friendly Fathers Day present, because the sentiment matters most.
She was cleaning out a drawer in her kitchen island the other day. Tossed in with birthday candles and corn holders, she came across several gelato spoons thrown into the mix.
One of the many reasons that Spring is such a great time of the year is that it is asparagus time. Asparagus is one of those vegetables that Recycla only eats in season – a period of time that is far too short in her humble opinion. For the past month, she has been serving her family those distinctive green spears often, much to her husband’s delight and her children’s disgust.
It’s dandelion season in many parts of the U.S. If you don’t have a sea of yellow on your lawn yet, you probably will soon. The temptation is to KILL THEM ALL with POISON POISON HERBICIDE POISON, but Enviro Girl begs you, please reconsider.
That monoculture of a green lawn is very unhealthy for many reasons. Let’s start with bees. The poor bees have been decimated in recent years. One of the reasons is because of chemical poisons people use to kill pests and weeds. Another reason is because bees require a diversified landscape. More plants means more biodiversity which benefits insect populations as well as bird populations. Just as people cannot live well on a diet of only one food, neither can any other creature. Biodiversity in your backyard benefits many creatures and even helps reduce population imbalances.
To get a stronger sense of how a monoculture destroys biodiversity, click on this link: Cornstalks Everywhere But Nothing Else, Not Even A Bee. If you plant only one thing, very few things survive. Consequently, other things thrive without their natural predators to keep populations in check. Enviro Girl’s in-laws live within an Iowa cornfield and she can attest to the devastation of planting nothing but corn firsthand. The mass amounts of black flies and Asian beetles is pretty overwhelming, but with no birds, bats or other insects to eat them, they continue to reproduce unchecked.
Soil and water health also depend upon humans NOT spraying herbicides across their lawns. Dandelion killer also kills the beneficial fungi and organisms in soil that helps other things, like grass and flowers and earthworms, grow. There’s no specifically targeted way to eliminate one plant with a broadfield application without somehow damaging other plant life and soil health. Residual amounts of weedkiller end up washed away into water systems, creating a new set of problems. According to the EPA, of 30 commonly used lawn pesticides, 17 are detected in groundwater, and 23 have the potential to leach.
It stands to reason, then, if weedkiller is bad for the environment, it’s also bad for us people. Again, let’s check out some EPA facts:
*Of 30 commonly used lawn pesticides 19 have studies pointing toward carcinogens, 13 are linked with birth defects, 21 with reproductive effects, 15 with neurotoxicity, 26 with liver or kidney damage, 27 are sensitizers and/or irritants, and 11 have the potential to disrupt the endocrine (hormonal) system.
*Scientific studies find pesticide residues such as the weedkiller 2,4-D and the insecticide carbaryl inside homes, due to drift and track-in, where they contaminate air, dust, surfaces and carpets and expose children at levels ten times higher than preapplication levels. In other words, just because you apply it on the yard and tell kids to stay off your grass, that’s no guarantee you’re keeping children away from the poison.
*This especially gave Enviro Girl pause as she knows of five young people recently diagnosed with leukemia: A study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute finds home and garden pesticide use can increase the risk of childhood leukemia by almost seven times.
*Which doesn’t make this tidbit terribly surprising: The U.S. GAO has told Congress on several occasions that the public is misled on pesticide safety by statements characterizing pesticides as “safe” or “harmless.” EPA states that no pesticide is 100 percent safe.
*And if you’ve ever tried to read the label on a lawn care product, this probably doesn’t surprise you AT ALL: pesticide products are made of an active ingredient and several inert, or other, ingredients. Inert ingredients are neither chemically, biologically nor toxicologically inert. Inerts are not disclosed to the public due to their status as “trade secrets”. Active ingredients usually comprise only 5% of the actual product; the other ingredients make up the majority of a given pesticide product or formulation.
You can read more scary stuff here. Enviro Girl’s pretty freaked out right now, aren’t you?
So what SHOULD you do? Mow the dandelions, endure the two weeks of dandelion season, and do whatever you can to improve your turf (soil health, choice of plants, keep mower blade at least 3 inches off the ground) so other stuff crowds out dandelions trying to take root and thrive. If you’ve got a small lawn and plenty of time, you can fork ‘em out one by one. But please, pretty pretty please with sugar on top, for the sake of your environment and ours, do not assault your dandelions with weedkillers!
Strawberries might just be one of Nature’s most perfect foods. They’re at their best when they are eaten right after they’ve been picked. Strawberries grown in California (or further afield) and then shipped to your grocery store in January just can’t compare.