Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Once a week, I am offering up a tip or action or idea that we can all engage with to work towards living in ways that allow for more health and wellbeing for all aspects of the planet.

This week the green thought is about refrigerators and freezers.

We can all take steps to make our refrigerators and freezers more efficient. Photo: House Integrals

Our refrigerators and freezers are on all the time and they use a lot of energy. In fact, since these appliances are some of the few household items that truly never turn off, they can account for as much as 7% of a households energy bill! And in many cases, these appliances are not running as efficiently as they can. Of course, to produce the energy to keep our foods cold requires the burning of fossil fuels which contributes to climate change.

The solution is to take care of our refrigerators and freezers. Here are a few suggestions. 1) Replacing older appliances with modern, energy-efficient models will quickly pay for themselves with lower energy bills. 2) Keeping about 4 inches between the back of the fridge and the wall means that air can circulate and dissipate the heat these units produce allowing them to run more efficiently. 3) Letting hot food cool down to room temperature before putting it in the refrigerator means that the fridge does not have to use the extra energy to cool warm food. 4) Defrosting freezers once a year will help them run more smoothly and also allow the space inside them to be used to maximum effect. 5) And, of course, keeping the fridge and freezer doors closed keeps the temperature inside cold, again prevents the appliances from using extra energy to re-cool after warm air slip in through open doors.

What do you think of these ideas? Do you have any other solution ideas?

Thank you for visiting my blog! Please check back next week for another Green Thought Thursday!

If you are interested in other ways to connect with me, here are a few options:

Follow this blog!

View and subscribe to my YouTube channel – A Birding Naturalist

Follow me on Instagram – abirdingnaturalist

Once a week, I am offering up a tip or action or idea that we can all engage with to work towards living in ways that allow for more health and wellbeing for all aspects of the planet. Last week we talked about washing with cold water.

This week the green thought is about mylar balloons.

Mylar balloons pose serious threats to wildlife, soils, and oceans of the world. Photo: Washington Post.

Balloons are fun! They symbolize celebration and happiness! But they are not a celebration for the planet. Mylar is plastic. Balloons frequently escape from parties and drift away. Even when they are placed in the trash, they often escape from landfills. These escaped mylar balloons end up in the water and that is where the problems begin. Many marine animals ingest mylar balloons. Some of them eat balloons intentionally such as sea turtles that eat balloons likely mistaking them for jellyfish. Some of them eat balloons accidently such as baleen whales that swallow balloons along with the krill that they capture in the hundred of gallons of seawater that they take in each mouthful. Even if the mylar balloons are not eaten directly, they break down into microplastics that cause a myriad of problems from polluting soil and water to poisoning microbes to getting into the food that humans eat. Definitely not good!

The solution is: don’t buy mylar balloons. If we all stop buying mylar balloons, fewer and fewer will be produced. This is a great example of how we can all use our wallets to influence industries and push towards the world we want.

What do you think of these ideas? Do you have any other solution ideas?

Thank you for visiting my blog! Please check back next week for another Green Thought Thursday!

If you are interested in other ways to connect with me, here are a few options:

Follow this blog!

View and subscribe to my YouTube channel – A Birding Naturalist

Follow me on Instagram – abirdingnaturalist

Once a week, I am offering up a tip or action or idea that we can all engage with to work towards living in ways that allow for more health and wellbeing for all aspects of the planet. Last week we talked about reusable coffee cups.

This week the green thought is about washing with cold water.

Washing dishes with cold water can save a lot of energy. Photo: reviewed.com

We all wash clothes. We all wash dishes. All this washing uses water, soaps, and energy. The energy is used to pump water, to run dish washers and washing machines, and to heat the water. And that last part is where we can all easily do a lot better! About 90% of energy used in washing cloths and dishes is used to heat the water. Just to heat the water! Using energy means burning fossil fuels which releases carbon dioxide which contributes to climate change.

An easy solution is to simply wash with cold water! I will admit that washing dishes by hand with cold water is not as comfortable as with warm water. But washing clothes and dishes with cold water works as well as with hot water. And it saves energy which reduces releases of carbon dioxide which avoids climate change.

What do you think of these ideas? Do you have any other solution ideas?

Thank you for visiting my blog! Please check back next week for another Green Thought Thursday!

If you are interested in other ways to connect with me, here are a few options:

Follow this blog!

View and subscribe to my YouTube channel – A Birding Naturalist

Follow me on Instagram – abirdingnaturalist

Once a week, I am offering up a tip or action or idea that we can all engage with to work towards living in ways that allow for more health and wellbeing for all aspects of the planet. Last week we talked about voting.

This week the green thought is about reusable coffee cups.

This is not news. We, as a society, use a lot of coffee cups. The disposable coffee cups that we all get when we visit a café or coffee shop are a classic one-use-item. We drink our beverage, and then throw away the cup. Maybe we recycle it. Either way, the USA alone uses, and disposes of, about 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups a year! That is about 5,000 cups a minute! And that is just one country! That is a lot of waste!

A variety of reusable coffee cups. Photo: Bon Appetit

One solution, which is is not innovative or revolutionary, is that we can all bring our reusable coffee mugs with us when we are going out for coffee! Reusable coffee cups are pretty! They are easy to use, and easy to clean. And they could greatly reduce the amount of trash we produce. We just need to remember them when we leave the house.

What do you think of these thoughts and the solution? Is this a step you will take? Do you have any other solution ideas?

Thank you for visiting my blog! Please check back next week for another Green Thought Thursday!

If you are interested in other ways to connect with me, here are a few options:

Follow this blog!

View and subscribe to my YouTube channel – A Birding Naturalist

Follow me on Instagram – abirdingnaturalist

This week, I am attending the Localizing California Waters conference that is being held just outside Yosemite National Park and is organized by a group called Watershed Progressive. It is a great event and I have been learning a lot and meeting some really passionate people in the water world of California.

One of the talks I attended was about beavers and their role in ecosystems and habitat restoration (which is huge!). But one part of that talk was a particularly crazy story that I wanted to share. It is about parachuting beavers! And yes, this is a true story!

As humans expanded into new areas in the 1940s they began to run into beaver conflicts. One growing community in Idaho had a problem with a particular community of beavers that were routinely damaging houses and other property. These humans complained about this beaver community, and eventually it came to the attention of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

Beavers are native to the western USA, but they had been largely hunted out during the 1700s and 1800s for their fur. Therefore, there were large areas of the Idaho wilderness that had been beaver habitat, but had no beavers. This gave the Idaho Department of Fish and Game an idea for a solution to the human-beaver conflict. Take the beavers, and move them into some remote wilderness areas. But, this raised a problem: how were they going to get beavers into these remote areas? The answer? Drop them out of planes!

Crates, each containing a single beaver, dropped with parachutes into the Idaho Wilderness. Photo: Boise State Public Radio.

That’s right, in 1948, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game constructed a bunch of specially designed crates that would hold a beaver and protect it as it dropped through the air, and then would break open when they hit the ground. The crates also had parachutes attached to them.

A beaver emerging from its opened crate after a parachute-assisted landing. Photo: KTVB 7.

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game then safely trapped the beavers that were causing problem for those humans. The result was a total of 76 captured beavers. These beavers were loaded into the specially designed crates, the crates were loaded on to planes, the planes were flown out over remote areas of the Idaho wilderness, and then the crates with their beaver passengers were dropped out of the planes and allowed to float down to the ground below! The first beaver to be dropped in such a manner was named Geronimo, and he and the rest of his beaver companions all but one survived their skydiving experience, and, to the best of anyone’s knowledge, went on to live their beaver-y lives.

I found this story to be so hilarious and absurd! Such a huge amount of effort to protect the property of a small group of humans that had moved into an area where the beavers were already living!

I am glad that the Idaho Department of Fish and Game decided to move the beavers instead of kill them, and I will say that the beavers probably ended up in a pretty good place, far from humans and in areas that were likely to make for good beaver homes. Since the beaver had been so decimated by over hunting, these beavers may have helped recolonize some of their former range.

The story gets crazier because in the 1950s, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife decided to emulate Idaho and also air dropped beavers into remote areas of wilderness. In California, the reason for parachuting beavers into the wilderness had nothing to do with beaver-human conflicts, but instead was to help reintroduce beavers to their historic range

So, all in all, a good story. But still a hilarious and absurd one as well.

Thank you for visiting my blog! If you are interested in other ways to connect with me, here are a few options:

Begin following this blog!

View and subscribe to my YouTube channel – A Birding Naturalist

Follow me on Instagram – abirdingnaturalist

Once a week, I am offering up a tip or action or idea that we can all engage with to work towards living in ways that allow for more health and wellbeing for all aspects of the planet. Last week we talked about pumpkins.

This week the green thought is about voting.

So many candidates, measures, propositions, etc. appear on ballots! How do we all decide where to cast our votes? Candidates have a range of opinions when it comes to science and the environment. Measures and propositions also represent a range of impacts in terms of science and the environment. These various individuals and pieces of potential legislation can have huge impacts on our world depending on which are supported and allowed to hold power.

A voting booth in the foreground with more blurred voting booths in the background.
Voting can send a strong message that science and the environment are important issues. Photo: ACLU

So, vote green! We can all make sure that the candidates we vote for have strong science, environmental, ecological, sustainable priorities. This will help to make those priorities realities at all levels of government from city councils to the President of the United States (though that office in not on the ballot this November). We can also make sure that the measures and propositions we vote to support will also support science and the environment. By helping to elect science-minded candidates, and pass science-focused legislation, we can all show that these are important priorities to “we the people” and make the world a more sustainable place for ourselves and future generations.

What do you think of these thoughts and the solution? Is this a step you will take? Do you have any other solution ideas?

Thank you for visiting my blog! Please check back next week for another Green Thought Thursday!

If you are interested in other ways to connect with me, here are a few options:

Follow this blog!

View and subscribe to my YouTube channel – A Birding Naturalist

Follow me on Instagram – abirdingnaturalist

Once a week, I am offering up a tip or action or idea that we can all engage with to work towards living in ways that allow for more health and wellbeing for all aspects of the planet. Last week we talked about house plants.

This week the green thought is about pumpkins (in honor of Halloween!).

A collection of lighted Jack-o-lanterns ready for Halloween. Photo: Merriam-Webster.com

Growing pumpkins is a big deal in the USA. Over a billion pounds of pumpkin is grown each year. A lot of these end up canned as pie filling, and a lot become jack-o-lanterns for Halloween. Growing all these pumpkins has some serious implications on the environment. One is the use of pesticides. Since many insects and fungi like pumpkins, growers use quite a bit of pesticide to prevent infestations. Transporting food is another issue. Moving pumpkins around the world means the burning of quite a bit of fossil fuels. A third issue is the decomposition of jack-o-lanterns once Halloween has passed. The majority of the pumpkins that are carved into jack-o-lanterns end up in landfill after Halloween. As they decompose in landfills, they contribute to the release of methane which is a powerful greenhouse gas. All of these issues raise problems that we should all be aware of when carving pumpkins this Halloween.

Luckily, these problems have solutions! Buy organic pumpkins. Buy pumpkins that were grown close to where you live. Eat the pumpkin flesh and seeds. Compost the pumpkin or simply bury it in the garden. All of these actions reduce the environmental impacts of pumpkins and allow for a greener, healthier Halloween for all of us and the planet as well.

What do you think of these thoughts and the solution? Is this a step you will take? Do you have any other solution ideas?

Thank you for visiting my blog! Please check back next week for another Green Thought Thursday!

If you are interested in other ways to connect with me, here are a few options:

Follow this blog!

View and subscribe to my YouTube channel – A Birding Naturalist

Follow me on Instagram – abirdingnaturalist

Once a week, I am offering up a tip or action or idea that we can all engage with to work towards living in ways that allow for more health and wellbeing for all aspects of the planet. Last week we talked about the 30-wears rule.

This week the green thought is about house plants.

Air pollution is a big problem that impacts the health of just about every living creature on earth, including humans. Car exhaust, as just one example, includes soot, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds (a previous Green Thought Thursday touched on VOCs), and small amounts of heavy metals. These are all unhealthy for most living organisms to absorb. In 2018, the World Health Organization found that nearly 91% of the human population of the world lives in areas where the level of airborne pollutants is above healthy levels (Health Effects Institute 2018).

Indoor plants can be grown at home or in the office such as around these cubicles. Photo Credit: Wiki Nursery Live

One partial solution is to grow house plants. Adding plants to your indoor spaces can have lots of great benefits. Different species of plant can absorb certain pollutants in the air and degrade or modify them to make them less toxic. Two specific examples are palms that filter out acetone, xylene, and toluene; and Philodendrons that remove formaldehyde. Indoor plants can also increase humidity which as health benefits such as reducing dry skin, reducing eye irritation, improving throat and airway health, and many more. There are also mental health benefits to being surrounded by living plants. Research has shown that stress and depression rates are lower among people who work and live with plants in their common spaces than in people with no living organisms in close proximity. Growing indoor plants is awesome!

What do you think of these thoughts and the solution? Is this a step you will take? Do you have any other solution ideas?

Thank you for visiting my blog! Please check back next week for another Green Thought Thursday!

If you are interested in other ways to connect with me, here are a few options:

Follow this blog!

View and subscribe to my YouTube channel – A Birding Naturalist

Follow me on Instagram – abirdingnaturalist

A Douglas’s Squirrel sitting on a branch. Photo: National Park Service

In his “Wilderness Essays,” John Muir said that the Douglas’s Squirrel “…is the most influential of the Sierra animals, quick mountain vigor and valor condensed, purely wild…”

And a couple of weeks ago, while my family and I camped in Kings Canyon National Park, I got to see how some of this influence is wielded.

In the early morning, I spent a bit of time wandering through the forest around the campground. As I was exploring, and watching Mountain Chickadees and Brown Creepers and Williamson’s Sapsuckers and White-headed Woodpeckers, I heard a thud of something hitting the ground close to me. I paused and then heard another thud. I looked up and high above my head I saw a Douglas’s Squirrel (Tamiasciurus douglasii) moving through the branches of a pine tree.

The forests of Kings Canyon National Park are filled with Douglas’s Squirrels! Photo: Aaron N.K. Haiman

The squirrel was moving from branch to branch checking the various cones. It would climb out to the tips of the branches where the cones grow and carefully and quickly assess each cone to come to a decision on whether or not it was ready to be harvested. If it was ripe enough, the squirrel nibbled away any pine needles blocking the base of the cone, and would then chew through the stem of the cone.

Once it had the cone off the branch, the cone would fall from the squirrel’s mouth and plummet to the ground. At first, I thought that the squirrel had accidently dropped the cone. However, after watching this process repeat a couple of times, I realized the squirrel was intentionally dropping the cones, and attentively watching where they fell. After observing the fall of a cone, the squirrel would scamper to the next cone.

I watched this process repeat again and again for over forty-five minutes. The squirrel was very strategic in how it went about its harvest. It was clearly working its way down the tree from highest branch to lowest. It would run out a branch to check the cones on it, harvest the cones that it wanted, then run back towards the trunk. Then it would jump to the next lowest branch and repeat the check-and-harvest process. In this way, it systematically checked every branch on the tree.

In the time I spent watching it, this squirrel must have harvested and dropped at least twenty cones. In that time, it also took a break for a few minutes to stretch out on a branch and rest, it took a few shorter breaks to groom its fur, and it spent a bit of time calling out into the forest. I figured that once the squirrel had enough food down on the ground, it would come down and feast, but it never did. I had to carry on with my day, so I left the Douglas’s Squirrel to it’s.

When I returned home, I read up a bit on this harvesting behavior, and it turns out that my assumption that the squirrel would eat the fallen cones was wrong. Douglas’s Squirrels do harvest large numbers of cones, but they are for winter storage! Once the squirrel I was watching was done harvesting cones, it was probably going to come down to ground level and begin hiding all those cones away in various locations so that the squirrel can come back and dig them out once the snow is covering the ground and other food sources are scare.

Forests filled with, and shaped by, Douglas’s Squirrels. Photo: Aaron N.K. Haiman

And this is where a big chunk of that influence comes in because the squirrels never make it back to eat every cone that they stash. These uneaten cones, and the seeds they contain, are where new trees sprout, so by hiding cones and then leaving them, these squirrels are shaping the forest of the future! That is some serious influence!

Thank you for visiting my blog! If you are interested in other ways to connect with me, here are a few options:

Begin following this blog!

View and subscribe to my YouTube channel – A Birding Naturalist

Follow me on Instagram – abirdingnaturalist

Once a week, I am offering up a tip or action or idea that we can all engage with to work towards living in ways that allow for more health and wellbeing for all aspects of the planet. Last week we talked about Low-VOC Paints.

This week the green thought is about the 30-Wears Rule.

When buying clothing, ask if an will be used 30+ times. Photo: Ecobnb

Clothing uses a lot of resources to make and transport. And that is not where the issues with clothing ends because once purchased, those clothing items are often not used all that much! On average, an article of clothing is worn seven times before being discarded. That results in over 16 million tons of fabric being thrown away around the world every year. That is a huge environmental impact!

One solution is to follow the 30-wear rule. Before purchasing an item of clothing, we can all ask ourselves if we will wear the item 30 times or more. If the answer is 100% yes, that item might be a good buy. But if the answer is anything less than 100% yes, we should all choose to not buy the item. And when we do decide to buy something, we all then have the responsibility to follow through and actually wear the item 30 or more times. This will help reduce waste, and also tend to slow clothing production which both will help the environment.

What do you think of these thoughts and the solution? Is this a step you will take? Do you have any other solution ideas?

Thank you for visiting my blog! Please check back next week for another Green Thought Thursday!

If you are interested in other ways to connect with me, here are a few options:

Follow this blog!

View and subscribe to my YouTube channel – A Birding Naturalist

Follow me on Instagram – abirdingnaturalist