27 April 2012

Easy Out

If you're a parent, you may have heard about the push to provide children with more outdoor playtime. In short, the argument goes that having opportunities to play outside are an important part of children's health and development.

Still, one of the reasons children are spending less time outdoors is that our society is not exactly focused on what's outside. As a result, figuring out how to give your children good outdoor experiences can be difficult.

TreeHugger recently published some ideas intended to help parents get started introducing their children to nature. I really like the concept of the "hummingbird parent." Also, the suggestion for planting native species connects well with my previous post about Native Plant Appreciation Week, and a recent writing from Go Explore Nature adds more detail to how parents can share the experience of native plants with their children.

For those parents just starting out with outdoor experiences, I think the best thing to keep in mind is the first idea presented by TreeHugger. You don't have to jump right into major nature expeditions. Find something simple instead. This lets you get experience managing an outing, and it also increases the odds that you'll enjoy the time outside. Even "little" experiences with nature can be savored, and if you're not overwhelmed by the situation, you'll probably enjoy it a lot more.

25 April 2012

Washington Natives

April 29-May 5 has been set aside as Native Plant Appreciation Week in Washington state.

This is exciting because it draws attention to and celebrates the great diversity of plants in the state. People throughout Washington can attend events dedicated to native plants and learn about ways they can turn their gardens and landscapes into sanctuaries for these important species, some of which are declining because of habitat loss and other factors.

A major benefit of making native plants the focus of a garden is that they usually require fewer resources. Because they are native to the area, they know how to get by with what the environment provides them.

For more details on Native Plant Appreciation Week, check out the page the Washington Native Plant Society has made for it.

23 April 2012

Green Alert

In recent years, the threats facing frog species have been receiving more and more attention, and people have begun to take action. The action continues this year.

April 28 is the date for Save the Frogs Day 2012, the fourth annual event meant to draw attention and respond to declining frog populations.

For more information about Save the Frogs Day, click here. The National Wildlife Federation provides some additional tips for helping frogs here.

If you can, on Saturday, go out and find some frogs, say hello, and watch and listen to them. It's always a cool experience.

21 April 2012

Earth Day Eve

Tomorrow is Earth Day. I hope you get a chance to celebrate it in some way or the other.

My plan for the day is going to be pretty basic. After a very busy last few months, I want to get out and have a lot of nature time. Also, I have decided to make tomorrow the day I start timing my showers. I don't usually take very long showers, but I've never actually timed them. After I get a baseline, I'll work on cutting down the wasted time.

That sounds like a pretty good Earth Day: some reconnecting with nature and a step toward greater sustainability.

20 April 2012

Take That

I've always had a hard time figuring out why some people spew anti-environmental comments, but this piece of news might just take the cake (birthday cake to be specific).

To summarize the story, for her eighth birthday, a Canadian girl decided that she would ask for donations to an environmental charity instead of presents. In trying to invite friends, she was told by three different parents that the donation idea was stupid.

How corrupt would a person's soul have to be in order for that individual to say such a thing to an eight-year-old?

It turned out that those anti-environmental/consumerism-superfan parents helped ignite an outpouring of donations to the girl's chosen cause, a campaign by Earth Rangers and the Nature Conservancy of Canada to protect pine martens (pictured above). Her goal was $500; she has now raised $2,000.

As one of the donors, I'd just like to say to those naysayer parents, "Stick it in your ear." And to the girl I say, "Hold your head high. You're awesome."

If you'd like to add to the girl's birthday "present," click here.

17 April 2012

Rock Out

With spring starting to take a firm hold, the weather is creating a lot more opportunities for all of us, especially kids, to get out and enjoy nature.

However, parents may be scratching their heads about where to go and what activities to do outside. If you're looking for a nudge in the right direction, check out Nature Rocks. The Web site provides information about nature-related destinations and activities in your area. It even gives suggestions for things your children can do at home. The suggestions are based on information you provide, including place, amount of time for the activity, and the child's age.

Overall, the site is a great resource for getting started experiencing nature this year and beyond. You'll soon be on your way to creating your own outdoor adventures.

10 April 2012

The Skinny on Lunch

For the last three months, I have been making and eating packed lunches without the help of plastic sandwich bags.

In January, I started using reusable sandwich bags from LunchSkins. The bags are made from food-safe fabric that contains no lead or BPA (Bisphenol A). They can be washed in the dishwasher and are good for holding many kinds of food in addition to sandwiches. Also, they are made in the United States.

I really like them, especially when I think about all the plastic I'm not using.

One small issue with the bags is that they do not offer the same kind of airtight seal provided by a plastic bag. As a result, the very top part of the sandwich bread tends to dry out a little after a few hours in the LunchSkin. That's a price I'm willing to pay for chemical-free food and using less plastic.

For more information about LunchSkins, click here.

08 April 2012

Clothes, Women, and Nature

My sister wanted me to say a word about a clothing company that is emphasizing the empowerment of women and the protection of the environment.

kikaPaprika sells women's clothing made from organic cotton and recycled and repurposed materials. Additionally, the clothes are made in the United States, so they didn't have to consume more energy by traveling around the world to get here. kikaPaprika also represents an opportunity for women who want to own a business.

For more information about the clothes or the business opportunity, click here.

05 April 2012

This App's for the Birds

Birders who just can't wait to share their sightings now have a new app that allows them to make reports on the spot.

BirdLog, designed for both iPhone and Android, brings the citizen science of bird-watching into real time, or if your phone is not getting a reception, the app lets you store the information about your avian discoveries until you can send it.

Information sent through BirdLog goes to the Cornell Lab or Ornithology's eBird program. For more information about the app, click here.

04 April 2012

On the Hour in Finland

Last Saturday, Earth Hour was observed around the world, including in Finland. Below is a video of various places in Finland going dark. I really like the shot where the Helsinki Cathedral lights are switched off, leaving the beautiful building in silhouette at twilight.

01 April 2012

So That's What it's Called

I've blogged about reducing waste by considering the packaging and the life of a product a couple of times, including here. It turns out that someone else has given such an approach to shopping a name: precycling.

It would be great if "precycle" became a word we hear even more frequently than recycle. Recycling is a good idea, but not having things to recycle means less energy is used in producing and cleaning up products. For some ideas about how to start precycling, click on this article from Earth911.