Archive for February, 2009

Environmental Kid-sites Worthy of a Bookmark

If you are looking for ways to help your children grasp and empathize with the environmental issues of today, there are a variety of websites available.  Below are some of my personal favorites that are worthy of bookmarking: 

 

·          Ollies World Offers cool games, screensavers and recycling information. The 3 big R’s, reduce, reuse and recycle, has an additional “R”—rethink. Ollie asks kids to rethink their actions in the areas of waste, water, energy, air and biodiversity.

 

·         Seussville.com For those toddlers who are already techno-savvy, this site is perfect.  With Dr. Seuss’s whimsical environmental story, The Lorax, kids can try to plant trees.

 

 

·          Recycle zone is a spin-off from Waste Watch . This educational British site is all about the eco-mantra:  reduce, reuse, and recycle.  It’s filled with games (rubbish challenge) and practical activities (make your own paper) that kids can take part in as well as a large section for educators and how they can implement recycling ideas into their school.

 

·         The Greens tag line says it all: “a site for kids about looking after the planet.” This (literally) green family has a funky eco-flair to their Earth friendly lifestyle.  Written from the point of view of a myriad of characters, this upbeat  site offers eco-desktop wallpaper to download;  green tips; a blog and a section of (mini) episodes on various eco-topics such as, Smelly Episode, Conserve Episode, and 7 Big Ideas Episode.

 

 

·          National Geographic Kids  is synonymous with good educational information.  This site has lots to offer the curious eco-kid.  National Geographic presents video clips, games, stories and current events.  With its renowned photography, this site captures the essence of our beautiful Earth in the hopes that our children will only want to preserve it.

 

·         Free Rice is the sister site of Poverty.com. Free Rice’s goal is twofold: Provide education to everyone for free and to help end world hunger by providing rice to hungry people for free.  By choosing your vocabulary level, you can test your lexis ability by answering as many questions as you’d like.  For every correct question, 10 grains of rice will be donated to the United Nations World Food Program.  You can watch your wooden bowl fill as you answer accurately. It’s incredibly easy to get hooked onto this site!

 

 

Of course, have your children go to Earth Promise to help you make lifelong green changes.

 

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Green Guide to Grown-Up Eco-Websites

For the eco-minded grown-ups (not only parents!), there are a slew of sites that tout their “green” agenda.  Here is my personal directory of “green” websites that excel in providing entertaining and enlightening eco-information:  

Sites for Grown-ups and Parents:

Teensygreen  is a well-written site offering information about earth-friendly toys, activities, books, and more for the teensy (aka, kids) population’s care-givers. “With the right information, parents can make better decisions about what kinds of products they bring into their homes for their kids, as well as give to others.”  Not only are the reviews practical, but allow us to get into the competitive writing spirit with fun giveaways.  The rules are always the same and entice the readers to visit the reviewed site asking them to leave a personal comment about the specified product.

5 Minutes for Going Green  is another fun site that offers cool, easy tidbits of information to help make your world just a bit greener.  

Ecobunga  Now who doesn’t like a chance to win a prize….and an eco-friendly one to boot?!!!  Filled with giveaways, coupons and contests, Ecobunga offers ways to “win green” and “save green”.

Green and Clean Mom  is a site that incorporates green tips, reviews of eco-friendly products and current green news.  Written in whimsical prose, Green and Clean Mom fancies eco-mothers “to be the green, sexy and sassy mom”.

I’ve also been partial to Nature Moms Blog . The founder, Tiffany is a true eco-girl at heart.  Her blog touches on some controversial topics.  As Tiffany states in her brief bio, “here you will find random thoughts and experiences of a mom trying to live a more natural family live, for the health and for the planet.”

Sara Snow .  The daughter of Eden Foods, American Soy Products and Blue Horizon Organic Seafood’s co-founder, Sara Snow is not too shabby herself.  She left her career as a television producer and launched her own TV shows on the Discovery Channel: Living Fresh and Get Fresh with Sara Snow. Her philosophy is simple: try to live a simple attainable green lifestyle.  Her personable site offers green advice, healthy recipes, and information about her eco-travels.

 

And of course, don’t forget to visit Earth Promise’s home page to make your personal promises to make your world a little bit greener!
 
 

 

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Green Your Child’s Reading List

Every child deserves to have a good book read to her.  Reading aloud is one of the most important activities you as a parent, grandparent, sibling, or caregiver can do together. No matter what your values are, reading can help communicate via illustrations and stories.  Those “green” parents who want to share their eco-values with their offspring can do so by reading or supplying books about the environment.  Here are some of my favorites:

 

·         The Lorax, by Dr. Seuss is my all-time favorite.  To say the least, he was ahead of his time when it was published in 1971!!  Through his whimsical play on nonsense words, Dr. Seuss educates his readers not to destroy our environment.  In the end, our future is left in the hands of a child. Indeed, this tale is timeless.

·         Planet Earth Gets Well, by Madeline Kaplan. This book introduces its readers to detailed changes you can make to help Earth become healthy.

·         365 Penguins, by  Jean-Luc Fromental. A family unexpectedly receives one penguin each day for one year….thus the title, 365 Penguins.  Not only does this engaging book tie in math, but also ecology and geography.

·         The Down to Earth Guide to Global Warming, by Laurie David and Cambria Gordon. Amusing, educational and empowering; this book provides the readers with the knowledge to inspire and to take action.

·         The Last Polar Bears, by Harry Horse.  A grandfather and his dog engage on an expedition to find a polar bear living in the wild.  Told through various letters written to his grandson at home, Grandfather and his canine pal encounter various humorous obstacles.

·         The Tree , by Dana Lyons and David Lane Danioth.  This splendidly illustrated book (inspired by a song which includes the cd) is about an ancient fir living in the Pacific Rain forest.  The Tree talks of his long life: what he has seen and sheltered over his 800 years.  This is undoubtedly a nature’s treasure.

·         Why Should I?  by Jen Green. This enjoyable easy to read series demonstrates the importance of protecting nature.

 

Come and visit tomorrow for more resources to engage your family in helping the environment.

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Teach Your Children Well

“Mommy, you’re wasting water!” my 5 year old informed me last night.  I honestly was waiting for the water to warm up to wash my face, but since my husband and I have drilled the “no running water” rule in our house, our kids act like the “green” police.  She was right; so off went the water.

As the saying goes: kids learn by action, so be a good role model. It is second nature for our daughters not to let the water run while brushing their teeth; they automatically reuse the backsides of paper; they know to turn their lights and fans off when leaving their rooms and they instinctively recycle.  They were astonished that Mimi and Poppy didn’t begin recycling until just recently.  When asked why, my parents were too embarrassed to let their grandchildren know that it was an inconvenience.  Guilt from the grandchildren works miracles!

It’s never too late to teach children the importance of helping our environment.  There are a myriad of ideas to get from books and websites that can help educate you and your children.  Over the next couple of days I’ll offer some suggestions and resources.

 Promises you can make with your children to jumpstart your green family:

·         Be sure to make the outdoors part of your day.  Have some sort of garden that your children can take part in caring for. If you show enthusiasm and respect for nature, your child will want to do the same

·         Plant a butterfly garden.  This is a great opportunity to go to the library to check out various books about butterflies and learn how they play a critical role in our environment.

·         Recycle.  Have separate bins so that they can help sort.  When we get stumped on a particular item, like styrofoam, we visit, http://earth911.com/ . You can also make it a learning experience and ask your local recycling plant if you can visit.

·         If their school doesn’t already recycle, start small by having the students recycle in the classrooms.  Eventually it can move into the cafeteria.

·         Buy organic foods when possible and explain why.  Foods grown in accordance with the National Organic Standards Act are done so without toxic pesticides, fertilizers, synthetic hormones, sewage sludge, GMO’s or irradiation.  This is not only good for the environment, but for your body.

·         Turn it off or unplug anything that uses electricity: fans, lights, computers, chargers etc.  Have this become a daily ritual.

·         Close the doors.  Kids (and parents, too) are notorious for standing in front of the open refrigerator.   Know what you are getting so that the refrigerator door doesn’t stand ajar too long.  This is the same for the oven as well, as it will use less energy to do its job.

 

 

Be sure to visit Earth Promise’s blog tomorrow for resources to help your family.

 

 

 

 

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Revive the Victory Garden

The other day I was helping my nine year old study for her Social Studies test.  The topic: World War II focusing on food rationing and Victory Gardens.  How appropriate in today’s atmosphere of uncertainty.

Originally, Victory Gardens were vegetable, fruit and herb gardens planted in private residences during World War I and II to primarily ease the demands on the public food supply brought on by the war.  But these gardens were also morale boosters.  What a perfect tradition to revive!  We thirst for some sort of spirit enhancer and Eat the View , a people-powered campaign to start a victory-type garden on the White House premises does just this. The idea behind the White House Victory Garden is to grow organic produce for the White House kitchen as well as for local food pantries.  Some believe this is simply a symbolic move if the Obama’s favorably decide to adopt the Victory Garden concept; but it’s functional, too. “Through the process of growing your own food, you reap the benefits of better health through tastier, more nutrient-packed fruits and vegetables, a more physically fit body, and, quite possibly, improved psychological well-being, something that money can’t buy.  Assuming you don’t live on a toxic waste dump, your food will potentially be safer.  It can be economical.  And, when you grow it yourself, you gain an appreciation for what the true value of food really is.”

So why not undertake “Victory” home garden?  Start small with some herbs.  If you’re more adventurous, find a local spot in your community where everyone can take part. Here are some great tips to keep in mind that will not only save you money, but will allow you to conserve food (by growing your own) and natural resources. You can be part of the solution by keeping America’s food supply safe, healthy, nutritious, and local:

 

·          To create a compost in my backyard.

·          To use drip irrigation or soaker hoses in my garden and/or flower bed instead of regular sprinklers which will use less water.

·          To buy natural pesticides for my garden as opposed to using chemical pesticides.

·         To use mulch in the garden to conserve water.

·         If your green thumb isn’t cooperating, be sure to buy food from a local farmer’s market instead of the supermarket when possible.

 

What a symbolic and real statement President and First Lady Obama can make:  eat locally and healthy. The Victory Garden will address the issues that affect us all from global warming, environmental ruin, and economic crises.

 

To make and keep track of your Earth Promise’s, visit www.earthpromise.com/login.cgi

 

 

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How To Make Your Oscar Party Green

Are you hosting an Oscar party this weekend?  Let’s talk about shopping and how the small changes you make can make a big impact.  Be a motivated green shopper with these easy tips:

·         Be sure to make a list.  This will reduce the number of times you will need to go to the store; less trips means less use of gas (assuming you need a car to shop!)

·         Buy organic and/or local

·         To bring a cloth or canvas bag to the store. I always have a bunch in various sizes in my car and even carry a funky compact reisenthel bag in my purse.  This way, if I do forget to bring a bag, I’ll always have an extra. (If you are one who often forgets to bring your bags, many stores have “remember your bags!”stickers you can place on the inside of your car window.)

·         To decline the offer of a bag from a store if I am buying a small number of items.

·         To request paper bags at checkout instead of plastic if I do not have canvas bags with me.

·         Buy in bulk whether it’s dish detergent or food.  There is less packaging and many times, it is less expensive.

·         Use your everyday dishes and cloth napkins. Try not to use paper products.  If the thought overwhelms you, be sure, then, to purchase eco-friendly ones made from recycled products.

·         Print out Oscar voting ballots using the unused side of paper.

These effortless changes can greenify your Oscar party. 

If you haven’t already, join Earth Promise to make, and keep track of your personal promises

 

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Look Towards the Sun

Solar energy is hot—literally. Today, increasingly more people are becoming fascinated by the savings renewable energy can offer.  And savings is a hopeful word in today’s economic turmoil.  So, what is solar energy exactly? Wikipedia  puts it simply, “Solar Energy is the radiant light and heat from the Sun that has been harnessed by humans since ancient times using a range of ever-evolving technologies. Solar radiation along with secondary solar resources such as wind and wave power, hydroelectricity and biomass account for most of the available renewable energy on Earth. Only a minuscule fraction of the available solar energy is used.” Thanks to President Obama, that small fraction is slowing growing.

Governor Charlie Crist was present yesterday to unveil the installation of Florida Atlantic University’s (FAU) first large-scale solar roof. This will harvest Florida’s sunlight abundance into useful energy. The initial up-front investment was indeed costly, but the monetary benefits combined with the decrease in the usage of our natural resources is immeasurable. There is little or no maintenance with solar panels. “More than 230 solar panels were installed on the roof, producing energy that will help reduce the building’s current demand and prevent greenhouse gas emissions.” To read more about this energy saving investment, visit, The Business Journal

So what kinds of energy conservation and efficiency can you do now on a smaller scale for your home? Here are some suggestions:

 Those interested in purchasing and installing large-scale solar panels or other sun-plugged products, here are some useful sites:

SolarHome.org  offers “great deals on everything from panels and batteries to chargers and lights – all powered by the energy of the sun.”

RealGoods.com not only educates on the benefits of installing solar products, but offers an array of merchandise.

Solar energy may be one of the most important sources of energy we have.  Make a promise to utilize our ever-present renewable resource.

Join Earth Promise to make, and keep track of your personal promises.

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