Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Teaching Waste?

While visiting the Easter party at my son's preschool this past spring, I was shocked to learn that his preschool, one of the largest in town, does not participate in any recycling efforts. I was so surprised and disappointed in myself for not having researched this earlier. We moved to town after the school year had begun and we were lucky enough to get him into this school that presented itself as one of the best in every other aspect.

I noticed the assistant teacher going to throw out a plastic cupcake container and that's when I asked her about recycling at the school.

"No, we don't do anything like that here," she responded.

What?!!! "anything like that..." You mean, incorporating the idea of respecting and nurturing our planet into the daily existence of our children's lives? Do you mean, we don't do anything like teach them that throwing away recyclable items such as the plastic container, is being wasteful and LAZY...

Oh. I'm so disappointed to hear this. And I began to question the school's motives. It's so important to teach the kids about their alphabet, about God's love for them (it's a Christian based school) about being kind to one another...but it's not a priority to teach them about being kind to the Earth? Or about reducing the amount of waste we as humans create each and every day? In my opinion, in this day and age, it is simply unacceptable.

My goal is to set up a meeting this summer with the director of the school to see how I can help start some sort of recycling effort in the school. We can start small, and hopefully if other's help and get involved we can grow.

What are your experiences with teaching little one's about recycling? Do you have any suggestions on how I should approach this subject with the director of the school?

Thanks, Kate

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Eco-Friendly Fruit Toys Enhance Imaginitive Play

After adding a play kitchen to my toddler’s growing list of toys, the next step was to begin finding toy accessories and foods with which she could pretend to cook. However, as a “green” parent I knew I wanted to find alternatives to the plastic cupcakes and bowls found on the shelves of many toy stores. The fruit cutting set by ImagiPLAY, is a perfect example of what I was hoping to incorporate into my daughter’s pretend kitchen world.

The 17-piece set comes with a great selection of fruit including, a banana, watermelon slice, kiwi, apple, orange, lemon and grapes. The set also comes with a cutting board and wooden knife, with which children can practice cutting the fruit into pieces. The majority of the fruits are separated into two or three parts for the purpose of cutting (the grapes are the one fruit that stay connected in a bunch). Each section of fruit is held together by hook and loop webbing (similar to Velcro). Children are able to use the wooden knife and “cut” through the webbing, creating a sense of accomplishment in preparing their own pretend foods.

I was pleased to see my two-year-old daughter’s coordination skills improve after just holding and cutting the fruit a handful of times. It’s also been a great pleasure to see her enjoy the incorporation of healthier foods into her imaginative cooking.

The fruits are made from all natural rubberwood, and appear fairly durable to constant use. They’re painted with brightly colored child-safe lacquer and have realistic appearances to them.
The toy’s price tag of $25.99 feels a bit steep; yet, the product’s Earth-friendly components, respectable manufacturing, overall durability, and motor skill development aspect, appear to make it a worthwhile purchase.

For more information on this Earth Friendly toy, visit ImagiPLAY’S website at www.ImagiPLAY.com.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Living Green While on the Road

We're in Columbia, Missouri, that is, visiting with Pete again. We're dealing with normal changes in our daily routine, but we're also facing changes and challenges with our green living lifestyle too.

It's interesting to notice the little things that you need to alter, like having to throw away fruit peels and tea bags rather then putting them in the compost. Or having to tell the housekeeper NOT to run the dishwasher (we're in a kitchenette room) with just the coffee pot and two lunch plates in it. Or the bigger and more obvious challenge of just not having the convenience of a recycling area available. I have been told however, that there are large recycling bins across the road at the Home Depot where I can bring things.

When traveling, it's just easier to cast aside the routine of green living, it's more difficult, requires more research and thoughts and just takes more effort anyway, doesn't it?

But, it's not impossible. Asking around, making it a priority, and yes, putting in the little bit of extra effort, really do help make all the difference.

Next time you're on the road, stop and remember all of the hard work you put into making it a routine at home and make the same effort as you travel.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy Earth Day!

Happy Earth Day everyone! I have been spending some great time outside today exploring in the backyard with the kids and enjoying the beautiful weather. I hope you have also enjoyed the day and had the opportunity to reflect upon what this day and every day should mean for you and your family in regard to living as GREEN as possible!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Family Friendly Eco Events in Columbia, SC

With Earth Day right around the corner, informative events celebrating the importance of preserving our planet’s natural resources are beginning to occur everywhere. Yet, if you’re a parent, you might be looking for specific events geared toward helping to better educate children about the basics of green living and giving back to the community. K.D.’s Treehouse, a children’s specialty boutique carrying eco-friendly and organic products, will host its first annual Earth Day event, A Little Earth Day Party, from 10 am to 3 pm, Saturday, April 18, 2009. The free event will include eco-educational activities and games such as encounters with live animals, interactive science experiments, arts and crafts, story-telling, musical entertainment, prizes, organic pizza and other foods from local entrepreneurs, and plenty more.

The event also focuses on the importance of giving back to the community. K.D.’s Treehouse will be accepting voluntary donations to the Riverbanks Zoo Conservation Fund and collecting food donations for Harvest Hope Food Bank. A food drop-off point and donation boxes will be on-site for collections at the store on the 18th and for the whole month following. For more information about A Little Earth Day Party, contact Kris Burns or Dea Baughman at K.D.’s Treehouse, 803 748 0198. K.D.’s Treehouse is located at 2900-C Devine Street, Columbia, SC.

Also focusing on the significance of educating children about the preservation our planet and those who reside here is the Riverbanks Zoo and Garden. From 10am to 3pm, Saturday, April 25th, zoo visitors have the opportunity to attend the Party for the Planet. Events will focus on educational activities designed to encourage the reduction, reuse and recycling of natural resources. Guests will also learn about other conservation methods and animal enrichment.

The Irmo Chapin Recreation Commission will also celebrate the environmental conservation with Earth Fair, an event planned from 9:30 am to 4 pm, Saturday, May 2nd at Saluda Shoals Park, 5605 Bush River Road, Columbia, SC. Events include eco-friendly educational activities, guided nature tours, live music, an 8K trail run, as well as a 1 mile Fun Run for children. Also unique to the Earth Fair is the Recycled Regatta, an event where regatta teams are challenged to reduce, reuse and recycle items by creating a boat from “trash” and racing it through a 100 yard course. For more information visit the Irmo Chapin Recreation Commission http://www.icrc.net/SaludaShoals/Events.aspx%20%20%20or%20call%20803-772-1228.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Hotel Recycling...Or Better Yet, Lack Thereof

While visiting Pete in Missouri last week we stayed in a great hotel with all kinds of amenities and services and signs all around boasting about their transition toward greener living. Energy efficient light bulbs lit each light, guests are encouraged to reuse towels for more than one day and if you're staying the week, your sheets will only be changed twice, rather than daily to help the hotel reduce water use and energy consumption.

All of this was impressive, yet one major factor was missing... recycling. I can understand that it just may not be all that practical for them to place recycling baskets in each of their hotel suites, but I was more stunned to learn that as a business, especially one of their size, they do not recycle any of the waste they accumulate on a daily basis...I mean, all of those mini shampoo bottles alone!

I decided to broach the subject with the general manager, a really down to earth woman, who told me plain and simple that they just don't have the space outside of the building to accommodate the large bins they would need for recycling. I found this hard to believe however, after taking my kids for a walk around the entire outside of the building one day and saw many, many different places that would accommodate such bins with no problems.
I think when it really comes down to it the reasons for not doing it revolve more around the effort it would take to begin and remain involved with the process. It takes time and knowledge to educate the staff about the procedures and of course the hotel having to budget funds to pay a company to come and haul away the materials. Or maybe they can sell them, therefore increasing their revenue. In this day and age, I just can't even fathom how they couldn't even try.

Have you had the opportunity to stay at any Eco-friendly hotels? If so, was recycling among it's top priorities?

Monday, March 2, 2009

No Dumping, Drains to Streams

My family and I are visiting Columbia Missouri, and I while walking down the city's sidewalk yesterday I couldn't help but see these logos imprinted into the cement where ever there was a water drain in the street.
A few years ago the City of Columbia (MO, that is) Public Water Works and the Missouri River Communities Network decided that it needed to do more to help educate the public about where their waste actually goes. It turns out that a lot of people didn't know that storm water drains near their homes and all around town actually led right into local streams! Now, however, after several educational forums and events and the application of these decals, Columbia residents are taking great care to keep their steams free of waste and other debris.
How does your community stack up? I'd love to hear!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Bike to the Market

Beginning Saturday, February 28, biking to the All Local Farmer's Market is not only a great option, but strongly encouraged as well. In partnership with Palmetto Cycling Coalition and Bike Columbia, the All Local Farmer’s Market has developed Bike to the Market in hopes of encouraging patrons to reduce their automobile use and enjoy some fresh air. The event, which by is promoted specifically every 4th Saturday from February to June at the Rosewood Market, (on the corner of Rosewood Drive and Maple Street) will kick off the celebration by offering visitors the chance to win a free bike basket.

The All-Local Farmer’s Market operates year round, rain or shine, every second Saturday in The Vista at Gervais & Vine and every fourth Saturday at Rosewood Market. For safe and bike-friendly routes to Rosewood Market, visit mapmyride.com. And for more information of Bike to the Market and the All Local Farmer’s Market visit stateplate.org.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Rediscovering Locally Grown Foods

In recent years with the influx of “Big Box” stores, also came the closing of many locally owned and supported retail and grocery stores. Yet, growing concerns of depleting natural resources have spurred a renewed interest in supporting local merchants, farmers included. With much of the country still battling Wintery weather of all sorts, the idea of strolling through an outdoor farmer’s market, sun on your shoulders, the smell of fresh cut flowers in the air, may be a bit difficult to grasp. However, here in South Carolina, many of our farmer’s markets operate all year long, or are preparing to soon begin their seasonal operations.

Columbia, SC, the state’s capitol, is home to a great selection of farmer’s markets, many of which feature all-natural or organic produce, beef, eggs, chicken, lamb, pork, grains, honey, flowers, and milk from South Carolina farmers. Located in the heart of downtown is the All Local Farmer’s Market. All Local is held from 8am-12noon, the 2nd Saturday of every month at Gervais & Vine (620-A Gervais Street), and the 4th Saturday of every month in the parking lot of Rosewood Market (2803 Rosewood Drive). The Columbia State Farmer’s Market at 1001 Bluff Road invites customers in seven days a week all year round, providing patrons the opportunity to buy local any time of the week. Also downtown, yet running on a seasonal schedule, Tuesdays and Saturdays, is the Five Points Farmers Market at MLK Park, 2300 Green Street.

If you’re planning an April getaway to historical Charleston, you’ll be thrilled to know that the Charleston Farmers Market, located in Marion Square, will open April 11, and will operate every Saturday from 8am to 2pm, through Dec. 20, 2009. In addition to the huge variety of local produce, herbs, flowers and plants, this unique and longstanding farmer’s market also offers a brunch menu and live entertainment.

Located at 1354 Rutherford Road in Greenville, parons will find the Greenville State Farmer’s Market, also a year round operating facility, is open from 8am to 6pm, Mondays through Saturdays. In Florence, you’ll find the Pee Dee State Farmer’s Market at 2513 West Lucas Street. In addition to providing locals and visitors with year-round fresh food and other locally made products, the Pee Dee State Framer’s Market is one of only three open-air markets still in operation in South Carolina.

Many of the markets also support programs like WIC and accept senior checks as well. The countless number of farmer’s markets in South Carolina provide an endless supply of resources needed to live a sustainable lifestyle. Their presence in our communities is invaluable. Not only do they afford great food and other products, but they usually offer an opportunity to meet new people, mingle with neighbors, and gain a learning experience like never before. For a complete list of state wide community farmer’s markets, visit the South Carolina Department of Agriculture or Local Harvest for additional listings across the country.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Home Remedies for the Cold

Despite the fact that the Columbia area of South Carolina has been boosting 70+ degree weather for the past week, our family still couldn't avoid catching one of the many different viruses going around this Winter.

So what do we do when a cold hits us and we want to feel better without downing spoonfuls of cold and cough medicine?

Here are some of the basic home remedies that I have researched and been implementing:

-Water and other fluids- these may help to ease any congestion and aid in dehydration.

-Saline nose drops-this is a really tough one for the kiddos, but it really does work wonders!

-Chicken soup- it's not just a myth, I promise! Here is what I have found: "Scientists have put chicken soup to the test, discovering that it does have effects that might help relieve cold and flu symptoms in two ways. First, it acts as an anti-inflammatory by inhibiting the movement of neutrophils — immune system cells that participate in the body's inflammatory response. Second, it temporarily speeds up the movement of mucus through the nose, helping relieve congestion and limiting the amount of time viruses are in contact with the nose lining."
-The Mayo Clinic

-Humidity-I've learned that colds thrive in dry consitions, so I like to use the Vick's Vapor humidifier as it creates a Mentholatum warm mist. It feels great to breath in and relieves that awful stuffy nose and scratchy throat- especially while trying to sleep.

What are some of the home remidies you and your family immplement? I'd love for you to share them!

Hope you're staying healthy!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Creating a Green Hour for the Kids (and you too!)

It seems like since Winter arrived the allocated TV time around here has almost doubled, and every night I feel an immeasurable amount of guilt because of it. Sure I try to have them watch PBS and other educational shows, but there are times when I look over at them while they watch their show, their sweet little faces are just clouded over. I could yell that brownies were coming out of the oven and that they could each have ten and I would hear in response, "just a minute..."

The National Wildlife Federation has created a great and incredibly educational program called Green Hour. Each week their site provides different ideas for a Green Hour involving activities spent outdoors and away from the lure of the TV and boredom. Who can find the largest acorn? What animal does that rock look like? What does the cold weather feel like? Let's talk about it and how and why the seasons change...these are a few of the activities they provide (with much more elaboration of course). The idea is not only to get up and out of the living room, but to encourage curiosity and spend time together doing something different...

Check out their site and I hope you find it to be as motivating and inspiring as I have!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Sustainable Living- Give it a Try!

(Photo from cover of the Green Living Handbook; Saving the Planet...One Household at a Time by David Gershon)(Find more information about David Gershon and his Sustainable Living theories here )

Now that we have settled into our new community near Columbia South Carolina, I am thrilled to be back in the game of writing about my passion for green and sustainable living!

Things here are proving to be much more Eco-friendly than our last place of residence in rural Georgia. We have curb side recycling, stores that encourage customers to bring their own shopping bags, a wide variety of health, gourmet and organic food stores and restaurants, and several widely supported farmers markets. It has been exciting as well as a huge sigh of relief to me to once again be living in a community that recognizes the value of making an effort to conserve and protect the environment.

Lately, I have been gearing my interests in the direction of sustainable living. The basic concept is to reduce ones' use of the Earth's quickly depleting resources. Proponents of this movement strive to nourish their bodies through buying and eating locally grown and harvested foods (so as to reduce the carbon emissions associated with transportation as well as the wasting of gross expenses related to the cost of that transportation, for example); Support and purchase products at the retail shops and services in their own communities; simplify their lives by surrounding themselves solely with the tools and objects necessary for sustaining life, as well as for the pursuit of enjoying that life in a healthy and educational manner.

Although there doesn't appear to be an overwhelming amount of Columbia media or Internet presence regarding green living, I was exceptionally pleased to find this article about a local dairy farm spread across the front page of our newspaper the other day. It talks about one of the area's last remaining dairy farm's ambition to support itself by selling their milk under their own dairy farm name in addition to their selling it to regional and supermarket brands. I was so moved by their aspirations that I vowed to begin a search for stores which carry and sell their milk, and support their efforts through buying their milk.

Take a little time out to discover the vast local retailers, farmers and tradesmen and women in your community. For more information on how you can make some simple changes in your life to begin a more sustainable way of living, visit: