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.”

 

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.

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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.

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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

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

Gardening is a Summer Pass-time That Gives Back

by Hannah Gartner

Summer is fast approaching, which means time spent outside. There are tons of fun things to do in the outdoors, but if you are looking to give back to the Earth while soaking up the sunshine, gardening is the way to go. Additionally, more and more research is finding that gardening is also good for human health in a multitude of ways.

IMG_1926A few of the plants from my own container garden.

Planting a garden improves the look of your yard, increases air quality, and if strategically placed can help alleviate erosion. Gardens can even help increase the energy efficiency of one’s home by providing shade that regulates heat. It is important to note that there are practices that can be decidedly harmful. Try to use products without chemical additives, and pesticides and herbicides only when absolutely necessary. If you do have a problem with pests search for natural, homemade repellents, there are plenty out there! Another way is to look for plants which encourage the bugs that help protect your garden and discourage those that will harm it.

When it comes to human health, gardening has been found to provide many of the things missing from the typical sedentary lifestyle. As a type of moderate-intensity exercise, gardeners tend to have lower BMIs and be in better shape. Being outside everyday also increases one’s vitamin D intake, which can help alleviate autoimmune disorders as well as flus and colds. Research has also found that gardening can reduce depression, improve self esteem, and even lower one’s chances of getting Alzheimer’s disease. Helping plants to flourish is an incredibly satisfying experiences, and it seems science agrees.

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My local community garden at the High Country Conservation Center in Frisco, CO.

These are just a smattering of the incredible benefits and joys that gardening can bring to one’s life. If you are interested, but don’t know where to start look to a local community garden or environmental group. Also, feel free to reach out. As a new gardener myself I understand how overwhelming it can be to get started. One of the most important things I’ve learned though is the experiential nature of this pass-time – to learn it you have to do it. So get out there and have a happy, productive Summer!

Happy Earth Day

By Pooja Mishra

“You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” —Jane Goodall

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Source: www.50img.com

What better day can there be to kick off my April blog post than the Earth Day! A day that people celebrate each year on 22nd April through events, rallies, parades and show their support around the world. For me, Earth day is all about appreciating our nature and all the natural resources we have and also taking a pledge to not waste them by making small changes in my lifestyle. A small effort that I start off from my home.

Earth day was first celebrated on April 22nd 1970, in US. It was started by former US senator Gaylord Nelson after devastating oil spill in Santa Barbara, California in January and February of 1969. It was the largest oil spill in US waters at the time.

All these years we have been using all natural resources at a large scale without thinking of any future impacts. What will happen when we won’t have access to pure water and we have to travel miles and miles to get pure drinking water? And what will happen if we don’t have fresh air to breath, beautiful green trees, and plants? If we don’t start saving all the natural resources today then the day is not very far when our future generation have to struggle to get all these resources.

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Source: blog.savewater.com.au

In fact, these are the problems that we have already been facing for many years in our day to day life. There are so many people who don’t have access to all these natural resources. They have to struggle to get them. An average person generates 4.3 pounds of waste per day and that waste causes pollution, contributes to climate change and wastes natural resources.

Today, we are dependent on so many materialistic things to fulfil our basic needs. We use artificial things to complete our desire of natural resources. We use filter, water purifier to get pure and fresh water, why? Because our taps don’t have fresh water anymore. We don’t get fresh air under the sky. We have polluted it by various actions. We are so busy in making our life better through materialistic things that we always forget to appreciate what we already have. We all have artificial plants and flowers in our home. We have forgotten to grow them in our garden and keep them safe. We use plastics and throw them away to destroy the fertility of soil. It is high time we need to stop being selfish and try to do something for our environment.

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Source: toolboxtalk.weebly.com

Some small efforts can make a big difference to the health of all living things and the planet that we all call home. Little changes in our lifestyle can do wonders. Although, we are making great progress everywhere but there is more each of us can do. So next time when you go to grocery shopping, remember to get reusable bags instead of plastic bags. Avoid buying something that you are not going to use later. Buy things that you can use again or consider donating to someone else rather than throwing them way. Look around in your communities and neighbours to find a garden that can take your food scrapes for compost. Find out the place where you can put them for recycling. Remember to turn off lights all day when sunlight could be used. Keep your computers, printers, and all electronic items off when you are not using them. There are so many such small things that we can avoid in our day to day life.

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Source: earthday.ca

We always get all the things we want to fulfill our needs from the environment but somehow we don’t realize what our planet wants from us? We forget that we have limited resources and if we want to use them we have to save them. So let’s take a pledge today to make small changes in our lifestyle and start to make some difference starting from our homes. Appreciate our environment, love it, feel it and live with it.

 

Make a Pledge for Earth Day

By Hannah Gartner

With Earth Day tomorrow, now is a great time to make a pledge to improve the natural world. Small or large, there are many day to day changes that can be made which help reduce ones carbon footprint and increases the sustainability.

Pale Blue Dot copySource: National Geographic – This photo, titled “The Blue Marble”, was the first photo of Earth taken in its entirety. It was taken in 1972, two years after the first Earth Day.

Here are a few more simple pledges that can be made:

  • Stop eating cattle, pork, and sheep; take it a step further by cutting meat consumption to two or three times a week.
  • Start a compost pile, its easy and doesn’t take up that much space. Directions can be found here.
  • Commit to purging your life of disposable plastic.
  • Instead of buying new clothes go to the thrift shop or exchange clothes with your friends.
  • Volunteer for trash pickups, trail maintenance, or at your local garden.

Earth Day Vollunteers copySource: Politico

The more one gets to know nature the more they care for it, so the most fun pledge one can make is to spend more time exploring and learning about the Earth. Here are some ideas:

  • Go for a hike every month this year.
  • Plan the first annual family camping trip.
  • Go on science walks were you identify and catalogue the flora and fauna.
  • Take a trip to wide open spaces and spend the night identifying the stars.

Understanding is often the first step to change. Anything that fosters connection and caring for the natural world also helps it and can be a pledge.

800px-Crepuscular_rays_in_the_woods_of_Kasterlee,_BelgiumWhile we make these small changes in our lives, it is important to remember that systemic change is also needed. All over the world there are individuals, groups, and organizations working on the creating the changes that solve the large problems. Pay attention and support these activities whenever possible. One example is The Leap Manifesto, written by a wide array of activist groups, which tackles a huge portion of Canada’s environmental and social problems at once. Read it here and join the 39,000 who have signed it.

Gamiing Logo copy

This Saturday, April 23rd, The Gamiing Nature Center will be holding an event where everyone will be making there own pledge. These pledges will all be displayed on the wall as a symbol of our promise to help create a healthier Earth. More information on the event can be found here. Start thinking about your own pledge and we hope to see you on Saturday.

Paris Climate Summit: A platform for a bigger change?

By Pooja Mishra

While leaders of 196 nations were discussing key policies in Paris to save earth from global warming, death toll continued to rise at various places because of natural cataclysm.

Rising temperatures are affecting our life on a daily basis. It affects our food, our surroundings, and all the work we do. Most cities in the world are experiencing a much warmer winter this year. Toronto celebrated the warmest Christmas Eve recorded in the last 175 years. Today climate change is like a ticking time bomb; the greatest threat people all over the world face.

In recognition of the growing problems of climate change, over 40,000 people gathered in Paris from November 30th to December 11th to take some corrective actions. The main objective of this conference was to achieve a binding and universal agreement on climate, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2°C.

After two weeks of negotiations, the Paris climate change agreement was signed. To make this agreement successful all nations volunteered to make cuts in their carbon emission to relatively safe level of 2C degree with an aspiration of 1.5C and also to participate in a program of regular assessment and adjustment every five years starting 2020. Leaders made bold promises to save the earth from climate change.

This was the biggest gathering of world’s leaders, who came together for a single purpose. It was a historic moment for all the countries. Developed nations pledged not only their commitment but promised to provide help to developing and poor nations to cut down their emissions.

We all hope this summit will provide a good platform to come together to make our resources more sustainable. But given the gravity of the situation, it is high time we join in this effort and take a pledge to start bringing changes from our home. Each individual needs to look at their contribution to climate footprint and if needed, modify some of their lifestyle choices. That’s what Paris is all about, changing our lifestyle, before it leads us towards complete disaster. It calls for a an acknowledgement and action at all levels.

Footnote

The key measures in the agreement included:

  • To peak greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible and achieve a balance between sources and sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century
  • To keep global temperature increase “well below” 2C (3.6F) and to pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5C
  • To review progress every five years
  • $100 billion a year in climate finance for developing countries by 2020, with a commitment to further finance in the future.