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More Eco-Themed Halloween Costume Ideas!

We’re about 3 weeks from Halloween, my favorite holiday. If you  are  like me you’ve probably been brainstorming your costume since last November.  Of course, I don’t expect everyone to be as gung-ho about Halloween as me, so I have provided some “Eco-Themed” costume ideas for those less Halloween inclined.

Two years ago I made a similar list for the blog which you can check out HERE.  I’ve decided to update the list with some more relevant ideas

People’s Climate March Marcher

Just because you missed the Climate March last month doesn’t mean it’s too late to get dressed up and show your support. When I was at the march I was amazed by all the amazing artwork and creative costumes, in fact I may have participated by dressing up as Mother Earth and wearing a flower crown with blue lipstick. The key words  here are  “may have”.

Mother Earth

Like Father Time, Mother Earth is a classic Halloween costume. There are so many ways to interpret this concept and many of them include blue face paint and flower crowns. It’s also the perfect costume for a pregnant person who has no issue showing off their belly and painting it.

Honey Bee

Whether you are celebrating NYC’s new Honey Bee Laws or protesting the deaths of millions of honey bees from pesticides, the honey bee is a great costume for any buzzy person.

Krista or Batty From FernGully

When I was little Fern Gully was one of my favorite films. The “protect the rainforest” based plot and awesome music makes it a classic, not to mention the hilarious voice performance by the late and great Robin Williams. Whether you get dressed up as the fairy Krista or the erratic rapping fruit bat, Batty, fun times will be had.

An Alternative Energy Source Like Solar Panels or Windmills

Show off your alternative side by dressing like an alternative energy source. Who doesn’t want to get dressed up all shiny and angular like a solar panel?  Or if you like costumes with moving parts get dressed up like a windmill, but remember to be careful for birds.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

This summer Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was remade into a movie. I did not see the movie because I would like to preserve my childhood memories of the cartoon but I think it was a blockbuster.

White Trash

Cover yourself in white plastic bags and recycled paper. What kind of white trash did you think I was talking about?

 An Extinct Species like The Dodo Bird or The Tasmanian Tiger

Pay homage to human’s dominion over all other animals by portraying one of the animals that lost the good fight.  Or you can stick to the Halloween spirit and dress like a grave.

Enjoy!!

dog honeybee via shutterstock

by Maddie Perlman-Gabel

7
Oct/14
0

EPA’s ENERGY STAR Program Promotes LED Lights

By: ENERGY STAR

What do fortune tellers, couch potatoes, and amateur make-up artists have in common? They’re all hopelessly in the dark about the life-changing benefits of LED bulbs – until they learn to look for the ENERGY STAR.

 

Light bulb image via Shutterstock.

That’s the premise of three quirky, irreverent new spots promoting LED lighting from EPA’s ENERGY STAR program. LEDs are quickly gaining steam as an alternative to incandescent and CFL lighting, but 70% of light sockets in the U.S. still contain inefficient bulbs.

 

EPA wants to change that by positioning LEDs as the bright future of lighting. Some quick facts:

  • Longevity: LEDs are extremely long-lasting. One bulb can last for 20 years with typical use.
  • Savings: LEDs use 70-90% less energy than incandescent bulbs – one bulb can save up to $80 on energy bills over its lifetime
  • Quality: ENERGY STAR certified LEDs provide excellent light distribution and color quality, making them a great option for replacing old incandescent bulbs.

Even with all the new lighting choices, it’s still simple: look for the ENERGY STAR for energy savings. Only bulbs with the ENERGY STAR are independently certified, undergoing extensive testing to assure they perform as promised. This is the main message of EPA’s videos – neglecting to look for the ENERGY STAR can have ugly consequences!

 

The spots can be previewed here: #1: http://ow.ly/BoG04, #2: http://ow.ly/BoG3C, #3: http://ow.ly/BoG7g.

by Editor

Autumn Leaves : Perfect Timing

An Autumn Haiku – Anonymous

Yellow, Orange, Red

Brilliant they turn as they fall

Across my window

Summer is finally over and fall is upon us. One of my favorite activities during the fall is to drive up north to really appreciate the leaves turning.  Yes, the leaves do turn brilliant colors here in New Jersey (see picture) but there is no experience like driving up the Taconic Parkway in New York State on the way to pick apples, and being surrounded by such intense beauty.

Of course the problem with observing such beauty is that you need to catch the sight at the perfect time. Sometimes it seems like one moment the leaves are green at the next they are gone. The trees suddenly become barren and bounty less. Unfortunately I don’t have a friend to call up north to ask if the leaves are ready for me yet, luckily the weather channel has a website tracking leave turnings across the country.

The Weather Channel website provides a map where you can look by region and then specifically by location. The website receives weekly updates on the state of the foliage and then uses color code to classify them as either patch, near peak, peak, or past peak. The website also includes a list of suggested drives in order to get the best view of the leaves in your area.

Generalized Advice On Peak Viewings (or check out this info graphic on Yahoo.com):

-          Maine:  Late September/Early October

-          California/West Coast : Late October/ Early November

-          Aspen, Colorado: Late September

-          The Ozarks (Misourri/ Arkansas) : Late October

-          Vermont: Early October

-          New York City : Late October

-          The Midwest: Mid October

 

Photo Credit: Maddie Perlman-Gabel

by Maddie Perlman-Gabel

The People’s Climate March

Yesterday was the People’s Climate March in NYC and I was lucky enough to be one of the 310,000 plus people who were lucky enough to attend. It was an amazing experience and I got to meet a lot of exciting passionate people who really care about our planet.

I quickly threw together a slideshow of a few of the photos I took while at the parade.

Enjoy!

by Maddie Perlman-Gabel

Little Office of Non-Horrors; or How Office Plants May Improve Worker Productivity

What does your office space look like?  Maybe it looks like mine with a few pictures of family, friends, and some inspiring posters to keep you motivated or make you smile, just enough to keep me relaxed and focused on my work.  Or at least that’s what the points supposed to be. Unfortunately most decorations just end up turning into a distraction.

Interestingly a series of studies are showing that the use of live plants as decorations is beneficial for worker productivity. Since plants have a “reverse” respiratory system to us they have the ability to change our used carbon dioxide back into oxygen. Plants also have the ability to remove toxins from the air like formaldehyde, benzene, and trichloroethylene.

A 2011 study published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology found that sitting in an office space with foliage and flowers improved study participants scores in cognitive reading tests. Other studies have found plants reduce anger, anxiety, and depression in the office space.

Whether it’s the removal of toxins and the addition of oxygen or just the benefit of sitting with something organic that causes a positive response, plants can be a cheap way to increase office productivity. Personally I wouldn’t mind getting some Venus fly traps and drosophyllum as long as it’s name isn’t Audrey.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

<——- Feed Me! (Yes,  another little Shop of Horrors Gag)

 

office plant via shutterstock

carnivorous plants via shutterstock

by Maddie Perlman-Gabel

6 Tips to Make Kids More Nature-Friendly

By: Guest Contributor, Kimberly Grimms

Every person who lives on this planet impacts the environment in some big or small way, no matter how young or old he or she is. This is why it is never too early to teach your children to start being eco-friendly. In a world where young ones live and learn by example, it is important for us adults to be responsible role models who are always ready to guide them in making wise and environmentally sound decisions. After all, their future—more than anything—depends on how well we take care of our environment today.

Raising your child’s awareness on the importance of being eco-friendly can be done through simple day-to-day activities. In this article, we have listed a few things you can do to effectively introduce them to nature, practice green living, and encourage them to be more eco-friendly in all their ways.

 

1.    Experience Mother Nature

Photo courtesy of shin–k via Flickr, Creative Commons

Exposing your kids to the wonders of nature is one of the first things you must do for them while they’re young. According to the National Wildlife Federation, the amount of time kids spend outside today is alarmingly low compared to the long hours spent on television and other gadgets. Letting children see the beauty of our natural resources in parks, wildlife refuges, and other nature spots will open their eyes to the importance of preserving the natural state of the environment, and help them make wise choices when it comes to matters that can potentially impact our ecosystems. You can even build a nature-like playground in your own backyard, so that your kids can engage in nature play during their free time.

 

2.    Start at Home

Photo courtesy of Rasheed Sidiqui via Flickr, Creative Commons

Establishing eco-friendly habits at home is a great foundation for a sustainable lifestyle. The earlier your kids develop these habits, the better. Some basic things you could remind them to do is to turn off the faucet while brushing their teeth, unplugging devices that are not in use, and throwing their trash in the proper places. These little things go a long way in saving our environment.

 

3.    Volunteer with the Whole Family

Photo courtesy of Dipesh Pabari via Flickr, Creative Commons

Bring your kids closer to nature. Encourage your kids to participate in nature-friendly activities that are fun and beneficial to the community. Go to eco-tourism spots and volunteer to help in nature projects such as tree planting and recycling. Being able to actively contribute this way will help your kids be more environmentally conscious in all their future volunteer work.

 

4. Shop Together

Photo courtesy of the U.S. Department of Agriculture via Flickr, Creative Commons

Your commitment to saving the environment is greatly measured by the kind of products you choose to buy. While they’re still young, train your kids to choose organically grown food rather than the processed counterpart. Also, teach them to avoid products that contain harmful and toxic chemicals that may harm the environment. This way, they’ll know which products to buy as soon as they’re old enough to shop by themselves.

 

5.  Have Eco-friendly Art Sessions

Photo courtesy of Ruth Madeleine via Flickr, Creative Commons

 Kids love making things out of scraps of paper and coloring materials. Take this opportunity to teach them how to recycle used objects or turn them into beautiful pieces of art and other useful materials! Have this Do-It-Yourself art session regularly to make your kids more creative when in comes to recycling.

 

6.   Visit Eco-Friendly Websites for Kids

There are a lot of eco-friendly websites today that are especially made for kids. Most of these websites contain fun environmental facts and eco-games that you and your kids can enjoy playing together. Engaging in these kinds of activities will enhance your kids’ knowledge about the environment, as well as how to take care of it.

 

Being eco-friendly is not just something you do from time to time. It is a habit—even a way of life. That being said, it is important to remind your children to make eco-friendly choices in everything that they do—be it at home, in school, or in the playground. They must always make decisions that are grounded on the safety of our environment.
If children are taught about these eco-friendly habits while they’re still young, being environmentally conscious will come naturally to them as they grow into responsible earth-friendly individuals.

 

Kimberly Grimms is a futurist who spends most of her time monitoring social behavior in search for new consumer trends. Connect with her on Twitter @kimberlygrimms

by Editor

Preparing For The People’s Climate March

On September 23, the United Nations is holding a Climate Change Summit to discuss the current climate crisis. Usual United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change events are attended by country delegates and  representatives, but for this meeting the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon is calling for Heads of State to come to the meeting in the hopes  to speed the negotiations process, making climate change a political priority. Climate change affects everyone and everyone should have the right to call political leaders to action. Two days prior to the UN meeting in New York City us everyday activists will get our chance to speak our minds at the People’s Climate March.

Three weeks ago I headed down to Princeton University to attend a training meeting for the march as a suggestion from an amazing neighbor. Prior to getting to the meeting I had little experience with activism outside of my work and experiences in health advocacy, so I was excited to see what the meeting was about.  When I got there I was surprised by the amount and diversity of the people attending the training. Representatives from across the mighty state of New Jersey, including students, concerned  citizens, and local stakeholders huddled in the not so tiny Princeton classroom and enjoyed educational presentations about the organization of the event and creative storytelling. After the basic presentations, we broke down into groups based on interests, such as transportation, creative messaging, and campus recruitment. At the end everyone left excited with a full plate of work to do if they wanted to make The People’s Climate March the largest climate march so far.

When I went to the training session one of the biggest issues discussed was transportation. Bussing will be coming from across the United States and Canada (check the website for public transportation opportunities near you). In New Jersey we have bus and train captains organizing transportation in popular areas. I will be joining a group taking a local train to New York City.

Interested?

It is not too late to join the march. You still have 3 weeks to figure out transportation and prepare for the march. Attending the march is important for anyone looking for a forum to express their views on climate change. I hope to express my concerns on the effects of climate change on infectious diesease and the importance of social responsibility.

I Hope To See You There!!!

 

Basic Information on The People’s Choice March

Date: Sunday, September 21

March Start: 11:30 AM

March Start Location: Columbus Circle, NYC (other locations global as well)

March  End Location: 11th Ave. in the streets between 34th Street and 38th Street

For more information visit: Peoplesclimatemarch.org

Expected Turnout: Between 40,000 and 200,000 people

Photo Credit: Rosemary Dreger Carey

 

by Maddie Perlman-Gabel

College Reduces Deadly Window Strikes While Lowering Electric Costs At Same Time

Earlier this week I was sitting at the computer, minding my own business, when suddenly I heard a loud slapping sound against the window adjacent to me. Instantaneously I looked over to see the imprint and feathers of a panicked bird peeling itself off the window and promptly flying away. Unfortunately, I’ve seen this incident many times before and the crashing birds aren’t always lucky enough to be able to fly away.

According to a recent study reviewing and analyzing past studies on glass./bird fatalities published in The Condor, an ornithological journal, between 365 and 988 million birds are likely killed each year in the United States. This makes bird/window collisions the second largest source of direct human caused fatality, second to feral cats.

The Atlantic Cape Community College, Cape May County campus has come up with a way to reduce these bird accidents while also cutting electricity costs during the summer. By applying a window film, Atlantic Cape used one called CollidEscape, birds would no longer see the reflection of outdoor sky and  trees in the window, thus deterring the crashes. The window film is opaque on the side facing outside but see through on the inside allowing indoor students to still be able to be distracted by nature while in class.

The film also blocks about half of the heat energy from the sun, reducing glare, and suppressing infrared and UV radiation.. This results in energy saving by reducing the need for air conditioning.

Prior to the installation of the window film, Atlantic Cape experienced bird crashes almost daily. Since beginning installation of the window films on 255 windows of one of their newer buildings, bird crashes have ceased. Scientists hope this project will inspire architects and building owners to modify their buildings to be more bird friendly.

bird crash via shutterstock

by Maddie Perlman-Gabel

Art With Purpose: Emily Dickinson Poetry Slam Edition

Summer can be a very inspirational time for creative types. Nature is in full bloom, allowing artists to truly explore the world around them.

One such “artist” was the 19th century American poet Emily Dickinson. Best known for poems like “I’m Nobody! Who are You?” and “Hope Is A Thing With Feathers”, only a few of Dickinson’s poems were published while she was alive even though she was a prolific writer. Many of these poems included imagery found in nature.

Below I have included a few of  such poems by Dickinson. Maybe they’ll inspire you to create some nature inspired art of your own.

 

Who Robbed The Woods

Who robbed the woods,
The trusting woods?
The unsuspecting trees
Brought out their burrs and mosses
His fantasy to please.
He scanned their trinkets, curious,
He grasped, he bore away.
What will the solemn hemlock,
What will the fir-tree say?

 

A Rose

A sepal, petal, and a thorn
Upon a common summer’s morn,
A flash of dew, a bee or two,
A breeze
A caper in the trees, –
And I’m a rose!

 

Cocoon

Drab habitation of whom?
Tabernacle or tomb,
Or dome of worm,
Or porch of gnome,
Or some elf’s catacomb?

 

Sunset

A sloop of amber slips away
Upon an ether sea,
And wrecks in peace a purple tar,
The son of ecstasy.

All poems are under public domain and written by Emily Dickinson

forest via shutterstock

 

by Maddie Perlman-Gabel

28
Jul/14
0

Why Norway is Keen to Collect the Rest of Europe’s Rubbish

By: Guest Contributor, Andrew Johnson

The people of Yorkshire are known to say “where there’s muck there’s brass” and although it probably doesn’t translate directly into Norwegian, they definitely understand the concept.

The phrase was coined to mean that where there are dirty jobs to be done, there is money to be made. Norway is leading the way in Europe by turning other countries’ unwanted waste into energy, so they are successfully turning trash into cash.

Here is a look at how and why the market for importing waste to burn in Norwegian incinerators is growing at such a fast pace and what we can learn from it.

Ironic situation

The first thing to point out is probably how ironic it might be for some people to consider that a country like Norway, which has plentiful oil supplies, is importing such a vast amount of other nations’ rubbish. But in the world of commerce, Europe’s rubbish is fast becoming a sought-after commodity.

Paying to send our waste

Waste is something we should all try to avoid when it comes to energy consumption and when you look at this energy use heatmap for the UK, there are certainly opportunities to improve our own efficiency – and this isn’t just about energy. In 2012, the UK actually paid to send around 45,000 tonnes of household waste collected from Bristol and Leeds to Norway. The Climate and Pollution Agency in Norway are heavily involved in the waste recovery process and they are keen to accept rubbish from other European countries as well, to continue feeding their incinerators.

Commercial enterprise

Other UK towns have expressed an interest in sending their waste over to Norway. The fee paid to receive the waste accounts for about 50% of the income derived by the Climate and Pollution Agency and the other 50% is generated from the sale of energy they create.

Energy companies like npower already use innovative techniques to manage water and waste such as ash from their coal-fired power stations but in general terms of generating energy from household rubbish, it is hard to argue with the notion that Norway currently lead the way in this sphere.

20 million people

That is the current capacity for the 420 different waste incinerator plants dotted around Europe. It is estimated that 20 million people can receive their heat and electricity from facilities that are capable of turning waste into energy.

Germany is actually the largest importer of rubbish in Europe, followed by Sweden, Belgium and the Netherlands, but it is Norway that heads the performance charts when it comes to having the largest share of waste to energy in district heat production.

Moving away from landfills

There is a growing trend in most European countries to move away from using landfill sites and therefore the prospect of turning waste into energy is a very attractive one.

The total figure for Europe is that we dump some 150m tonnes of waste into landfills every year, which confirms the level of potential that exists to turn more of that waste into energy rather than burying it in the ground.

Some UK waste centres actually find it cheaper to pay countries like Norway to take their waste from them rather than pay the landfill fees.

Not all rubbish is the same

The Norwegians are renowned for being meticulous about their waste and every household is asked to sort their rubbish into three categories.

They divide their rubbish into plastic for recycling, food waste (for biogas) anything else that will then be destined for the waste plant. The concern is that whether the rubbish coming from places like the UK has been properly sorted and ready for immediate use.

Concerns about recycling

Environmentalist group Friends of the Earth have concerns that burning our rubbish to generate energy may actually discourage people from recycling.

They estimate that 80% of what ends up in the average waste stream is easy recyclable and if householders think that their rubbish is going to end up in an incinerator they may not be so diligent with their recycling efforts.

Estimates suggest that about 70% of the Norwegian population supports or is comfortable with the idea of burning waste to create fuel.

If you consider it to be a positive that waste can be turned into energy using incinerators then you will understand why their country is so keen to have the rubbish that we don’t want.

Recycling image via Wikimedia.

Andrew Johnson loves his work researching energy concerns and solutions. With an eye on renewable energy and innovative ways to get it, he enjoys blogging about his research and insights into the future of energy in the modern world.


by Editor

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