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Nature


What’s the Great Pacific Garbage Patch?

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a growing problem in the northern Pacific Ocean and one that could dramatically alter life on our planet within the next 20 years.

“I remember the first time I felt it; I was paddling out on my surfboard and noticed a mushy, plastic-like substance sliding through my fingers. That’s what started my obsession with the Great Pacific Garbage Patch,” says charity fundraiser and environmentalist Veronica Grey. “The patch is located between Hawaii and California in the northern Pacific Ocean, where millions of small bits of plastic have gathered in a vortex of ocean currents known as a gyre.”

“Fifteen years ago The Patch was the size Texas, but now it’s the size of the continental United States,” says Grey, who used her iPhone to shoot the documentary, which features renowned scientists, journalists and environmentalists.

Grey paired her professional skills with her personal passion for the ocean, creating the award-winning documentary “Aqua Seafoam Shame,” (www.Pacific-TV.com), which spotlights the mess in the ocean that has garnered precious little media attention, she says.

Plastic in the ocean has far-reaching implications that, if not addressed within 20 years, could change life on this planet, she says. To date, 177 species of sea life are known to ingest plastic; other species feed on those creatures, extending the chain of damage.

“People eat the seafood that eats plastic, and the planet gets its rain from the oceans, which are being polluted at an exponential rate,” she says. “We use significantly more of our planet’s surface as a dump than for growing food; this has to change.”

To begin addressing plastics pollution, Grey encourages people to use alternatives:

  • Americans buy 2 million bottles of water every five minutes; ditch disposable plastic bottles and carry reusable, refillable bottles.
  • Carry a cost-effective canvas bag instead getting disposable plastic bags at the grocery store. We waste 10 billion plastic bags every week!
  • Do not line your trash cans with plastic bags. Use paper bags or nothing.
  • Skip the lid on your to-go drinks. The paper cup is normally recyclable but the lid usually isn’t.
  • Remember that each and every time you flush; it all ends up in the ocean. Be mindful of what you toss in your toilet!

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Change Flows!

Did you know that almost every American lives within one mile of a river or stream? Did you know that 40 percent of America’s rivers and streams are too polluted for basic uses such as fishing or swimming?

Today you can help change that by simply choosing a region in American that you think is most in need of a river cleanup via “liking it” on Facebook—the region with the most “Likes” will receive a river cleanup sponsored by Cascadian Farm, in celebration of the company’s dedication to sustainability. It will only take a second so c’mon and “LIKE” some water!

Voting ends April 30, 2011 at 11:59pm. The region with the most votes will be announced on or about May 2, 2011.

Find It Here: Cascadian Farms

This Week’s Giveaway: Win: Peekinz with Pockets

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Win It: The Green Hour

greenhourjpg.pngHappy Earth Day!

What: The Green Hour

Features: Research shows that spending time in nature actually makes kids happier, healthier and even smarter. Todd Christopher, the creator of the GreenHour.org, has filled this book with activities designed to encourage discovery, creative play, and a wonder of nature, as well as practical advice for parents to make getting outdoors easy and worry-free.

Green Factor: The premise behind The Green Hour is to encourage parents to carve one ‘green hour’ in to their kids’ days. This year, celebrate Earth Day every day for an hour (or more!) outdoors.

Bonus: We love that The Green Hour mixes family time with outdoor education. Brilliant! Watch this video trailer to learn more.

Find It Here: Amazon.com

Win It: We’ve partnered with Shambhala Publications to give away TWO copies of The Green Hour to two lucky readers! Click here to fill out our simple entry form. Just enter GH04 as the giveaway name and tell us what federation recommends that parents give their kids one ‘green hour’ a day. Giveaway ends 04/30/10; $18 value. Open to residents worldwide! Official Rules. Giveaway has ended.

On our Blog: Kid’s Health: Pesticides in Food

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Monopoly Shmonopoly

madagascar_detail.jpgThe next time you’re in the market for a board game, check out this environmentally friendly, award-winning board game for kids ages 8 and up—it’s called Xeko Mission: Madagascar, and it’s a great way for children to learn about exotic animals (like fossas, tomato frogs and lemurs), their environment and how to protect them. Kids battle against their friends for eco-points and special powers and the player with the most points wins!

Xeko Mission: Madagascar was made with the earth in mind, literally. It’s chock-full of recycled materials, packaged in recycled stock and game cards are made with recycled materials and are printed with soy-based inks.

2006 was a good year for this game – not only did Creative Child Magazine name it the Top Toy of the Year, the National Parenting Centre gave it their Seal of Approval. Recognition like that, coupled with its eco-friendly spin, makes Xeko Mission: Madagascar a favorite with us. The Starter Set comes with an oversized play mat, 50 cards, two guidebooks and a rulebook. To make the package even sweeter, four per cent of the game’s net sales are donated to Conservation International. This definitely isn’t your mother’s board game!

Find It Here: Green Home Environmental Store

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Food, Inc ~ The Truth About What We Eat

Read it. See it. Change your life and the lives of your loved ones. Make a difference in your health and the health of the planet and our future. We CAN do it and most certainly we must make more informed choices.

Grocery stores are such an illusion. The waste in packaging, transporting products, the ingredients (and the real ingredient behind what is mysteriously listed on the label), shelf space and electricity, dated items going to the garbage (that’s mostly produce since the other stuff has a life span to practically last into our child’s adulthood), how the animals we consume are treated (you are what you eat), hormones shot into our animals and getting into our dairy and meats, genetic modifications to the DNA of the foods, the colors and additives and smells added that now seem normal to us. It’s all a strange place with food-like substances. Read the rest of this entry »

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Sierra Club Trails

sierra.jpgI’m not really an outdoorsy type. I mean, I love being outside, but by that I mean reclining on a chaise lounge under a patch of shade with a sweating Corona and a good book. And maybe a cheeseburger. So yeah, I’m not what you would call an outdoor enthusiast. Even so, I think the concept behind Sierra Club Trails is a very cool one. It’s a unique and interactive site; a wiki that’s not only a catalog of trails, but a source of information for several other activities, as well. Users can create profiles and connect with others, post pictures and chat on forums. And they can update trail posts with the latest happenings – the weather in the area or the trails’ condition, for example. So if I ever went for a hike (hey, it could happen…) on a trail that had been closed, I could go home, log on to Sierra Club Trails and update that trail’s status, for other hikers to see.

You don’t have to be at one with nature to enjoy Sierra Club Trails. The gallery is definitely worth a browse; some stunning photographs have been added already. There are also tips and advice for beginner hikers, and a blog, too. Think of it as social networking for hikers and outdoorsy types!

Find It Here: Sierra Club Trails

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The Smiling Planet

wonderfullworld3popup.jpgWhen I was a teenager, my mother bought a bumper sticker for our car adorned with a cartoon Earth; across from it was the phrase LOVE YOUR MOTHER in big green letters. I loved that sticker – I thought it was such a clever play on words; a neat way to get such an important message across. I haven’t thought about it in years, but I was reminded of it while poring over the Smiling Planet’s web site earlier this week.

The Smiling Planet is a new green company that makes, among other things, the cutest earth-aware plates and placemats for kids I’ve ever seen. Not only are their plates are made from 100% recycled material, they’re completely recyclable, too. They’re toxin-free, dishwasher safe, stackable and scratch-free, and did I mention they’re really cute? Because they totally are. (They’re also priced right, which, as far as I’m concerned, is a real bonus these days.)

It’s not just plates and placemats that are available – the Smiling Planet boasts posters, books, t-shirts and onesies for children that send earth-friendly messages and are printed with water-based inks. All of the Smiling Planet’s merchandise is compliant with the Consumer Product Safety Information Act (CPSIA), and it’s all made in sunny California. The Smiling Planet is dedicated to reducing their carbon footprint while celebrating the world and her diversity, and that certainly shows in their (blissfully licensed character-free) designs.

Find It Here: Smiling Planet

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Imagine Childhood

summerhome.jpgWhen I got an email from the peeps at Imagine Childhood asking that I take a look at their site, I clicked over and instantly fell in love—like “WHERE have you been all my life”? love. Why? Because their site reminds me of my childhood, of being outdoors, of exploring and learning and playing and life’s simpler pleasures. If you haven’t yet heard about nature deficit disorder, you soon will. It’s a hot topic and one that plagues my mind when I think about my own children’s distinct lack of free time spent outdoors (mostly for reasons beyond my control). Imagine Childhood may not be able to fix nature deficit disorder but damn if it isn’t a great place to start trying because they carry so many things that are geared toward free, imaginative, explorational and outdoor play. And the books they carry? Pure awesomeness. I urge anyone with kids to hop over there and take a gander and also note that Imagine Childhood is not just a storefront. It’s also an inspiring blog totally worth bookmarking.

Find It Here: Imagine Childhood

Win It: We’ve partnered with Imagine Childhood to give away a super cool Nature Study Kit and the amazing book I Love Dirt. Click here to fill out our simple entry form. Just enter IC6 as the giveaway name and provide the answer to this question: What are one of the five questions the folks at Imagine Childhood ask themselves when choosing new products? Enter by 6/22/09. $50 value. Open to residents of US. Winner will be notified by email. Contest closed. Congrats to Steven!

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Earth

disney_earth.jpgI let my kids watch TV. I admit it. But I’m also very picky about what I let them watch, opting predominantly for science and nature shows. One series that we’ve enjoyed immensely is Planet Earth on the Discovery Channel. The cinematography is so groundbreaking that we’ve been able to see things we would never ever witness otherwise and so indescribably amazing that it regularly gave me chills. It’s because of our love of nature that I’m especially excited about a movie from Disneynature films called Earth. It tells the story of three animal families and their journeys across the planet over the course of a year. It was directed by Alastair Fothergill and Mark Linfield, the Emmy Award-winning creative team behind the Planet Earth series which pretty much guarantees it will be both epic and visually astounding. What’s really cool is that Disney is going to plant a tree for every person who sees the film during it’s opening week, starting on Earth Day, April 22, 2009. That’s some serious green potential and I’m really excited about it! To help kick off this awesome new film, we’ve teamed up with Disneynature films to give away an Earth reusable grocery bag, a biodegradable tumbler, and a tree seedling so you can plant your own tree! (details below)

Find It Here: Disneynature Films

Win It: We’re giving away an Earth reusable grocery bag, a biodegradable tumbler, and a tree seedling. Click here to fill out our simple entry form. Just enter DE3 as the giveaway name and provide the answer to this question: What, specifically, are the three kinds of animals featured in Earth? Enter by 4/07/09. $60 value. Contest Closed. Congrats  Sherry!

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Nature is for The Birds

birdfeeder.pngBefore I met my husband, I never really thought of bird feeding as a hobby or something I would find enjoyable. Turns out a very basic peanut butter pinecone like the one I made in third grade was a simple way to be part of a popular and relaxing hobby. Of course, my husband prefers the more complex bird feeders that prevent squirrels from stealing the seeds but whether you go basic or become an avid birdwatcher, bird feeding is a great hobby for both kids and adults. My young kids enjoy watching the birds fly around and eat from the little feeder attached to our patio (so do my cats, for that matter) and I often find myself slowing down after a hectic day and watching the show. I know…you’re dying to ask what birdhouse is best for your family or backyard, right? Well, for those of us who lean green, a natural edible bird house is a wonderful eco-friendly alternative from those complicated plastic or metal feeders. I especially like the castle bird feeder made from a sunflower seeds, dried apple and orange slices, corn and other delicious treats—for the birds, of course! By providing a yummy little haven for birds to hang out, you get to enjoy nature and the stress relief that comes with it and who doesn’t need more of that in their lives?


Find It Here:
Zen Garden Bonsai

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The Green Hour

The Green HourHave you heard the news? Americans are suffering from “nature deficit disorder.” Translation: Most of us don’t get outside or do things within nature enough. Now just so you know that I’m not finger-pointing at all you indoorsy types, I will confess that I, myself, am a woman who isn’t fond of going outside from May to October because I detest sweating. But seriously, this nature deficit thing is not good for us and it’s really not good for our kids. According to The Green Hour, there is a growing body of research that indicates that children who spend time outdoors are healthier, overall, than their indoor counterparts and children who regularly spend unstructured time outside:

    • Play more creatively
    • Have lower stress levels
    • Have more active imaginations
    • Become fitter and leaner
    • Develop stronger immune systems
    • Experience fewer symptoms of ADD and ADHD
    • Have greater respect for themselves, for others, and for the environment

Yeah, that list really got my attention, too, and thus, I am making the commitment to get myself and my kids outside for an hour (the green hour!) everyday. Well, maybe a half hour to start (it’s REALLY HOT here) and on the weekends, I’d like to get them into some seriously natural nature, like NOT in my backyard. If you want to do it, too, and need help finding the greatest of the great outdoors in your area, consult The Green Hour’s NatureFind tool. You supply your zip code and it magically produces a tidy list of nature-centric locations with web links, distance from your starting point, and the recreational opportunities available at each location. It’s easy-peasy, lemon squeezy. (And if you know where that phrase comes from, you, like me, have watched entirely too much children’s programming and need to get outside as soon as possible. MUST! DEPROGRAM! BRAIN!)

Find It Here: The Green Hour

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