We can make a difference!

By Pooja Mishra

Source : eqt.com.au

Source : eqt.com.au

Our environment is constantly changing and we cannot deny the fact that we should be more aware of the problems that surround it. But being aware of the problems is not enough, we should come up with different ways to solve them. Whenever we think and talk about all the environmental problems that we are facing today, we usually refer to pollution, natural disasters, global warming, population, the depletion of natural resources, climate change, deforestation among others.  We tend to overlook all the small problems that we create with our daily habits without even realizing. The way we live our life and do things can also affect the environment. But there is a simple way of avoiding these problems by doing small things and adapting some eco-friendly habits in our day to day life.

I have seen many people while walking on the street, in subway, sitting in a coffee shop, who don’t even care about what is going on around them. But it doesn’t mean that I have not seen people who do care. I decided to talk to them and find out their concern towards the environment. I asked the same question to many people, what was the last eco-friendly choice they have made recently.

Mamta Saxena, mother of a 3-year old says, “My son is very young but I still try to teach him the importance of healthy and clean environment. I always ask him to throw all his garbage in the bin and now he understands that. Even in my community I have seen many people who don’t follow the waste disposal and recycling guideline, so this time in community meeting I raised up the concern that everyone should follow the guideline to keep the surroundings better.”

Zahara Shami said, “Since we are having a rough winter in Toronto, where everything is dull and dry and we hardly see any greenery around us, I decided to get some greenery at home. Recently I brought two plants and planning to get more.”

“I bought an eco-friendly car which is 50 percent gas and 50 percent electric. You can switch the mode according to your preference and requirement. I love my car. It makes less sound, is very comfortable, easy to drive and also saves me some bucks” says Irina with excitement.

Nidhi Desai mentions, “In my work place most of my colleague drink coffee and when their mugs get empty they dump the mug in the bins near to them. They don’t even bother to look for the blue bins around them. When I noticed this I decided to raise the concern and in my next team meeting I asked everyone to place one small blue bin near to them and avoid to mix the trash.”

Rosa Yoon, mother of two kids says, “I always try to avoid using plastic bags for my grocery or for anything. I always carry my grocery bags with me. That way I also set an example for my kids to never use these plastic bags for shopping. Whenever my kids come with me for grocery I ask them to carry bags so next time they remember to do the same. Not only this, I always try to set a good example for them to make right decisions and lead a healthy life.”

 

State of the Paris Climate Agreement

By Hannah Gartner 

Just under one year after the historic Paris Change Agreement was declared, it entered into force. This means that the treaty laid out in the agreement is now binding and that the countries who have both signed and ratified the Agreement can be held accountable. For this to happen 55 countries making up for 55% of global greenhouse gas emissions were required to ratify their signatures. The United States (17.89% of global emissions) and China (20.09%), the world’s two greatest polluters, both ratified the agreement on September, 3rd 2016. However, it was not until October, 5th, when eleven countries making up 6.71% of global emissions ratified, that the agreement became binding.

Paris Agreement Map

All countries that signed the Paris Agreement in 2015 are shown in blue. Source- BBC

The primary goal of the Paris Agreement is to bring global greenhouse gas emissions down to keep global temperatures from rising above 2 degrees Celsius since the pre-industrial era. However, the treaty also outlines the more ambitious goal keeping temperature rise below 1.5 degrees. Accomplishing this objective required all 194 countries that signed the treaty to set their own emission reduction standards depending on the infrastructure already in place and how much they contribute to overall emissions. Once the treaty was ratified these standards became binding, and any county that may want to opt out would have to go through a lengthy process and runs the risk of sanctions from the other members of the treaty.  Actually reaching these goals will be a lengthy, difficult process, something that is accounted for within the treaty. However, this doesn’t mean there is time before action must be taken.

 

Among the 129 countries that have ratified the agreement to date, many know this and have already begun to take clear and serious action towards moving our world towards a carbon neutral future. Over the last three years the level of global yearly emissions has inexplicably plateaued. Moreover, in the US, China, and Europe, there have been across the board reductions in the use of carbon. This is just the beginning of what needs to happen though. For one, reducing carbon is not enough. To get enough of the gas out of the atmosphere to stop catastrophic warming, scientists now warn that we must put increased energy into sequestration. Furthermore, reductions in carbon are just one aspect of the many changes that need to be made for humanity to achieve a heathy planet. One year into the Paris agreement, work has been done, but in many ways what is done just shows how much more there is to do.

Keeping it Green During the Holidays

As we move into the Holiday season it is important to continue thinking about living sustainably. This time of year is typically defined by decadence and consumption. It doesn’t have to be that way though. Here are some helpful tips on how to stay green while getting into the Holiday spirit.

think_outside_the_roll_-_alternative_wrapping_ideas_-_maps

  • Use newspaper, cloth, or old wrapping paper and bags to wrap your gifts. If you must use paper, make sure it is paper that can be recycled. Traditional wrapping papers contain heavy metals, which make them difficult to recycle. Also, be gentle on the paper! If you open with care along the seams it should be able to be used again.
  • Instead of buying holiday cards, make your own! This can be an especially fun thing to do with the kiddos and the possibilities for creativity are endless. To be even greener, send E-cards, which have no carbon footprint at all.
  • Try to stay clear of holiday lights – they are a major energy drain. If you must have them though, make sure they are LEDs. These lights last about 10 times longer than conventional lights and use 80% less electricity. Even better, turn the lights off before bed or put them on a timer so they aren’t running all night when nobody is looking.
  • Buy your gifts locally. This both gives back to the community, and reduces carbon emissions since these products aren’t being shipped all over the world.
  • Buy a real tree. This may seem counterintuitive because plastic trees can be used year after year. Despite being marketed as reusable, most people only use the plastic trees for a few years before the end up in a landfill. Moreover, these “trees” are made of harmful PVC plastics that refuse to break down for over a hundred years. Tree farms tend to be sustainable practices that increase oxygen in the environment and support small farmers. Plus, who doesn’t love the smell of pine in their house!
  • To get the best of both worlds buy a potted tree, which can be used for a few years! Once it gets too big for its pot, either repot it or plant it outside. This adds to the landscape of your yard and offsets the reduction in oxygen caused by cutting trees down.
  • Recycle, reuse, and compost everything you can during the holidays, even if it takes more time and thought. Many cities have sites you can take your tree to be mulched. Make sure to check if yours is one.

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Finally, remember to take time to get outside and enjoy nature. As the temperatures drop, it can be easy to forget all the wonderful outdoor activities the Winter offers. Go sledding in the new fallen snow, or take a nature walk where you make a list of all the birds you see in the bare trees. After spending some time outside you’ll appreciate the warmth of your home that much more. Just don’t forget to layer!

Guide to maintain plants amidst falling temperatures

By Pooja Mishra
428348286cca007567ede4a59f6e268cSource : Pinterest

Fall is here, and it’s beautiful and slightly chilly outside, a reminder that it will be extremely cold soon once winter hits the door. I love winters and keep in touch with nature by going out and enjoying all the winter activities like hiking, skiing, sledding, snowboarding, Ice skating, and even making a snowman.

But this is also a time when we see our plants and trees dry up and wither. It is a repetitive cycle of birth and death, but all the hard work that has been put in growing a beautiful garden around our home quickly gets undone when temperatures start falling. It is easy to maintain the indoor or outdoor plants in summers when the weather is perfect for plants to grow; but, protecting plants in cold weather when you hardly get any sun is a lot more daunting.

So after a lot of thought, experiments, and research here’s a list of some simple and effective ways that can help you to protect your plants in this cold weather:

  1. Bring your potted plants indoors and place them either in the garage or use them as home decor by placing them in your living room. This is an easy first step that one should do. Never place them near a window as cold transfers from the window and damages the plants.
  2. I have seen many people cover their plants with some thick material. It is also a good way to protect your plants. Wrap them with wrapping plastic, blankets or any other thick cloth but never forget to leave it open in the day time when you see little sun or bright light outside and cover them again in the night time.
  3. It is important to water the plants in the cold temperature. Make soil around the plant completely wet. Wet soil gives more heat than dry soil. But don’t over water it.
  4. Applying a layer of mulch on the soil of the plant can protect the roots from becoming damaged. You can use leaves as a mulch, they will maintain the temperature and give heat to the plant.
  5. Put a heat source around your plant. You can even put lights on your plant. It will not only provide heat to the plant, but will also make your room more alive.

 

Learning in the Outdoors

By Hannah Gartner 

Childhood is a defining time in everyone’s life. The experiences had during this time can stay with and effect a person forever. This is especially true when it comes to connecting to the natural world. When I think of my own connection to nature, I see that it is rooted in the memories I have of hiking, sailing, and exploring during Summers in Maine. The younger someone is when they foster this connection, the deeper it is. However, modern children spend the majority of their time in doors. In the U.S., kids in public school have an average of 27 minutes of recess a day. Their time at home is typically spent inside playing video games and watching TV. Children are simply not spending enough time in the outdoors.

watching-tv

Source: Ars Technica 

This lack of outdoor time is especially harmful to the youngest schoolchildren. Research is developing that shows 3-7 year olds need free play, especially in the outdoors, to develop skills like critical thinking, risk management, and grit. The typical kindergarten includes more reading and math time than play time though. Children don’t get the chance to explore the world with their senses in these schools, but are expected to inherently understand how to use their brains and sit still. This is not where their development is at though. An exploration into the senses is necessary to develop critically thought, and the more a child moves and the stronger they are, meaning they can better hold themselves still for long periods of time. Free play, especially in the outdoors, is not just a nice thing for kids to do but a necessity for their healthy development.

In many parts of Europe this is already understood. Forest preschools have become common. The children who attend these schools spend every day, all day, outside, no matter the weather. They may have wooden shelters to hide from the rain and snow, and good clothing to keep them warm. Their playground is the forest around them – they climb the trees, get muddy in the brooks, and learn through interacting with the ecosystem. In the older grades this concentration on outdoor play continues, with many public schools offering recesses of over an hour in playgrounds that incorporate natural features such as trees and logs. Clearly this is a superior model for getting kids close to nature.

forest-school

The Fiddleheads Forest School in Seattle, WA – Source: New York Times 

Some in the U.S. have realized the importance of the outdoors in childhood development. Forest playgrounds have begun to pop up around the country. Other types of alternative learning schools such as Waldorf and Montessori encourage both the free play and outdoor time children so desperately need. However, this type of learning is currently available only to those who can pay for it, and is confined to a few institutions. To truly make a difference this type of learning must be incorporated into the public school system. Our children are missing out on nature, and it is our job to make sure this deficit ends as soon as possible.

The Ways We Connect

By Hannah Gartner

The modern environmental movement is filled with calls to connect with the natural world. Over half of the world’s population now live in cities, and having gown up in a city myself I understand how easy being in the concrete jungle makes it forget that one is part of nature. Danger arises from this because human beings value and take care of what is seen as like them, and without any connection to the natural world there is no motivation to behave more sustainably. The environmentalist are therefore on the right path by encouraging connection with the natural world.

My own connection really began as a child, when I spent my Summers going to Maine and my afternoons walking the woods near my home in Philadelphia. Then, in my early twenties I began hiking, snowboarding, and rock climbing. Throughout all this I also grew an understanding of how the world interacts within me through what I take in and put out. For example, the food I eat and excrete can be turned into compost, which has nutrients that feed the plants who then go on to provide me with oxygen and more food. This rapport, along with many others, is no accident but rather a symbiotic relationship developed over millennia.

I have found no better way to connect with nature then to adventure in it, sometimes in exposing and scary ways. Each of the athletic hobbies that I pursue also connect me differently. Snowboarding is a fast rush, while climbing is slow, calculating, and far more exposing. Hiking does not possess the same thrills, but allows more intimacy with the most peaceful aspects of nature. The connection is further enhanced as I learn more about the native flora in my home.

A few weekends ago I took a three day backpacking trip. Passing into wilderness areas with nothing but my feet to move me and what was on my back to sustain me, I found a nature that is rarely seen. The first night was spent by a mountaintop lake between two high passes. The next day, after getting water from the lake, we continued over one of the passes. It was a beautiful day until an afternoon thunderstorm came and refused to leave. We arrived at the campsite that afternoon sopping wet with the rain still pouring down. The tent was erected as quickly as possible, and the remainder of the evening was spent huddled from the rain under that nylon barrier.

Experiencing the natural world is not always confortable. This lesson is clear in the above story, and is one I learn almost every time I adventure in nature. Another lesson I learn is that it is through vulnerability that a deeper connection is able to arise. To foster these types of experiences in one’s own life therefore spontaneously creates the kind of links to the natural world that our culture so desperately needs. Furthermore, allowing oneself the discomfort of being in the outdoors better prepares them for the uncomfortable task of mitigating climate change. So go out there, get your hands dirty, and get close to nature!

That One Corner!

By Pooja Mishra

 

slr5                                                  Source : gananoque.com

Finally, I got a chance to explore The Thousand Islands this Canada Day. The place is magical and is one of the best spots to appreciate Canada’s natural beauty. The moment you reach there you get the feeling that you are living in one of the most beautiful places in the world. Splendid, exciting, relaxing are some of the words that describe this place.

The moment we reached there, the beauty of the Lawrence River blew me away. The view in front of our cottage was scenic; we got a beautiful view of the river and it was in the heart of The Thousand Islands. Every morning we could see and feel the pleasure of that place. We couldn’t stop ourselves from capturing every detail in our camera and we clicked many pictures.

Thousand Islands is located on the Upper St Lawrence River near Kingston, Ontario and has over 1800 islands. The St. Lawrence River is one of the largest rivers in the world, which links great lakes into the Atlantic Ocean; Great Lakes hold 20% of fresh drinking water. The river holds a unique position as it straddles the border of the US and Canada and provide fresh drinking water to local towns of both the sides. It is a most loved place of nature lovers.

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One evening I was soaking in the beauty of the place. I could see that many ducks were floating around, which made me walk closer to the river. But as soon as I headed towards the water; my eyes got stuck on one corner of the river. The water which had me mesmerized a few minutes back suddenly made me feel gross. One whole corner of the water by a ferry way, was full of waste material which was polluting the water. There were a couple of ducks that were stuck in the waste, trying frantically to get out of the mess.

Where St. Lawrence River is a great source of drinking water, it also faces many other pollution related problems as well, as it is the only way for ships to enter the Great Lakes and these ships brings along many problems. All other countless stress such as development, transport, over harvesting and pollution are also a threat to rivers and lakes.

All our demands for food, goods, material, energy put so much pressure on our planet. We are so busy in fulfilling our own needs and demands that sometime knowingly or may be unknowingly we do things which harm our nature and spoil its beauty and charm. And water is the heart of all these problems. We think its not our responsibility to clean everything; there are appointed officials for those jobs and they are doing their jobs. There are many organizations like Save the River and Water Aid Canada that have been working to save and protect the rivers and lakes. But they aren’t the sole custodians of preserving the nature. If we want our loved ones to have a healthy life, we need to share the responsibilities; we cannot leave everything to others. We need to do whatever we can do to protect and save our home for the future generation.

Everything in my trip was completely amazing. Our cottage, parks, everything was clean and well maintained but that one corner stuck somewhere in my mind. We all love clean and tidy places and keep our home the same way, but sometime we forget about our surroundings, which also need to be clean and pollution free.

There are many small steps that each one of us can take at home and outside and by making them a part of our daily routine we can make our planet a healthy place to live.

  • Always recycle the waste material; never dump wastes into a storm drain. Storm sewers go directly to rivers and lakes
  • Reduce uses of pesticide and fertilizers; If you live near lake or river, plant a buffer strip of plants along the water
  • Maintain the healthy ecosystem by planting in or around your home; make sure when you water your plant the water doesn’t go on the street or sidewalks
  • Don’t pour chemicals down the sink or toilet
  • Reduce air pollution by using less gasoline into the water. So when you buy a boat motor, choose a 4-cycle, rather than 2-cycle, engine. You will cause less pollution
  • In the winter, use less salt on your sidewalks and driveway. Chloride from road salt is building up in lakes and aquifers that receive runoff from highways
  • If you fish, consider putting away your lead sinkers and jigs and switching to non-toxic tackle. Loons, trumpeter swans and some other waterfowl are susceptible to contracting lead poisoning from tackle they pick up off lake bottoms
  • Don’t use the lake as a bathtub. Soaps and shampoos contain nutrients and pollutants that are harmful to the lake and organisms living in it; even when you wash your car park it on the grass instead of on the street or driveway

 

 

 

 

Tracking Your Food

By Hannah Gartner

Being a responsible citizen of this world means understanding where one sits in it. This involves thinking about and understanding the historical, political, socioeconomic, and ecological impact of one’s actions. One great space to begin unpacking this is food, something each of us must interact with every day.

produceSource: Indiana State Department of Health

Most of us are fully aware that the majority of our food travels a very long distance to our plate. Fresh produce has the easiest origins to pinpoint, as the little sticker says what country it comes from. Harder to figure out is where in that country as well as what farm. With this in mind I grab two granny smith apples from my pantry. They are both from the US, and one includes the word “Washington”, making me believe it comes from Washington State. The other has five stars arranged in a circle, which, after a small amount of research, leads me to believe it is from Oklahoma, since the state seal there is a pentagram. I try to find more information by looking through the websites of the grocery stores I bought these apples from (City Market and Safeway), but can’t find these types of details on individual products.

This small experiment only begins to to show how complicated figuring out where our food comes from is. With processed and packaged food the difficulty grows exponentially. One box of macaroni and cheese will contain near twenty ingredients, and although it may say from where it is distributed, each of those ingredients may come from a different place. To pick apart where food comes from is therefore a huge research task.

What one can do though is get to know the global trends. Around the world their are twelve centers of food production located in North America, Central America, South America, the Western edge of the Mediterranean, Ethiopia, the Arabian Peninsula, Siberia, Central Asia, India, Western Asia and Japan, Southeast Asia, and Australia. If something you are eating was not grown or produced locally, most likely it comes from one of these hubs. We can get to know the climate and practices in each of these regions and try to buy in ways that support those that are more sustainable and fruitful.

Seed-Map-Poster_Where-Did-our-Food-Come-FromSource: SeedMapper.org

Quite obviously the easiest way to know where your food comes from is to buy locally, or to even grow your own food. For those of us who live in higher latitudes though this isn’t a year round option, so it is important to learn how to navigate the grocery store. I hope this gets you on the right path, and here are a few more helpful links:

Happy eating!

Sounds Under the Stars featuring Checkmate with Freda Burke and Company

By Hannah Gartner

Please join us at the Hayloft, Gamiing Nature Center’s music and events venue, this Saturday for a performance by Checkmate with Freda Burke and Company. This mix of folk, pop, and classic rock begins at 7:30pm. Tickets are $10.00 at the door and a cash bar is provided.

Hayloft_Heading__ImagesThe Hayloft was transformed from a barn to a venue two years ago. Through August there will be Saturday music events as part of our Sounds Under the Stars series. We are also offering multiple two day workshops on a variety of subjects throughout the Summer. A full list of events can be found here.

The Hayloft is located at the following address:

1884 Pigeon Lake Road
between Lindsay and Bobcaygeon
at Gamiing Nature Centre

We hope to see you there this Saturday evening!

It’s time to change your habit!

 

By Pooja Mishra

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Source : truehuenews.com

Recycling can easily make a big difference in protecting the environment. It helps reduce energy and other useful materials from being wasted. There are a lot of people out there who always keep in mind what things can or can’t be recycled and follow the instructions. But you may be surprised to know the fact that the things you have been throwing away in the blue bins, actually don’t belong there.

The Toronto city launched a campaign earlier this month as a reminder for people on what can and can’t go into recycling bin.  You will be surprised to know that those takeout coffee mugs, which we use on the go and have been throwing away in blue bins, thinking that they are recyclable, actually have to go in trash.

The takeout coffee mugs are coated with plastic and wax so they can’t go in recycle. There black lid also can’t go in blue bins, only non-plastic lids and cardboard cup sleeves can be recycled. According to the city, last year estimated 45,000 tonnes of garbage was mistakenly put into recycling bins.

Here is a small list of those things which we use on a daily basis and which can or can’t be recycled. We can help reduce global environmental damage by keeping this in mind and adding it to our daily routine.

 Can:

  1. Food packaging (Unwaxed only)
  2. Boxboard (Shoes box, gift box, cereal box)
  3. Aluminium foil
  4. All colors glass bottles and jars
  5. All plastics number 1-7
  6. Clean grocery and retail plastic bags
  7. Beer and wine bottles
  8. Kitchen cookware (metal pots, pans, tins, and utensils)
  9. Brown paper bags
  10. Newspapers and magazines

Can’t:

  1. Paper coffee cups
  2. Pizza boxes (with food and wax)
  3. Wet paper
  4. Plastic bottle caps
  5. Plastic Bags
  6. Juice Boxes
  7. Styrofoam
  8. Paper napkins or towel
  9. Heavy died papers
  10. Broken glass