By: Guest Contributor, Kimberly Grimms
Books are out and vacation is here! With children free from school, you’re probably in the quest for brilliant ideas to turn them busy and productive while at home. Admit it, it’s quite a challenge keeping vigorous kids at bay. But to strike out their idle period does not require you to cash out on expensive, yet fun and worthwhile activities during springtime.
Actually, you might be surprised to find out that springtime activities to enjoy with your family abound with just a little play of creativity and resourcefulness. Below are suggestions on how you may transform an otherwise soon-to-be the same old, boring and wasteful vacation into one filled with relaxing and environment-friendly things to do, sure enough to enrich your young ones during school-break.
1. Heads Up For A Home Make-Over!
Why not engage the family to flex some muscles with redesigning your home or apartment? While a new facelift for the home is a bit of a physical activity, all family members getting involved in the planning, decision-making and movement of things is definite to clear-off everyone’s minds from previous routines at school or work. This could also be most beneficial when welcoming some life changes like shifting to customized double-deck beds instead of the previous king-size as the older kids prepare for college. Or maybe it’s high-time now to replace those cutie teddy bear cabinets with more preppy design furniture as your kids cross-over to teen years. With environmental preservation strongly called for nowadays, you may as well integrate eco-friendly decor ideas when deciding to buy new pieces for the home.
Get more hands from the kids for your home redesign.
Photo courtesy of Michelle Hicks via Pinterest
2. Do-It-Yourself Miniature Garden
A miniature garden in your home is always a relaxing sight to behold. Start by hinting your kids on how to create a fish bowl indoor mini-garden. Other creative ideas by your children may spring from there. You may also want to grow with the kids low-maintenance succulent plants to start them up into the activity. A range of gardening options for your kids will allow them to get a feel of their green thumb, and in the end, to discover themselves more.
Possible gardening at your condo balcony or patio.
Photo courtesy of Camille McKen via Pinterest
3. Kiddie Sales Blitz
You may descend from an entrepreneurial lineage so why not hand this down to the kids? Woman’s Day suggests organizing a garage sale as another fun and eco-friendly activity during vacation. This ultimately de-clutters your home from old belongings to other bric-a-brac. By doing so, you’ve taken the first step already to 3Rs: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. What’s more, kids can maximize their sales blitz with lemonade, pastries or candies booth right at the garage.
You could hold it in the community hall during one weekend and invite friends and neighbors to buy. Motivate your kids to assist in putting up the mini-neighborhood sale by directing the funds earned from their own stuff to create their own savings account. The kids may even find themselves enjoying later as they race up for a bonus award to the best sales achiever.
Teach kids the value of working for their own keep the fun way.
Photo courtesy of Sarah (W.D. Wolf) via Pinterest
4. Popcorn Movie Marathon Challenge
If your family is the movie bunch type, you would all agree easily in setting up a date for a movie marathon challenge and then awarding the winner with the most generous popcorn serving ever! This simple family get-together is a definite formula to unwind as you laugh, cry, sing or scare yourselves through the movie. Moreover, it cleverly saves on electricity as you all huddle up in front of one monitor instead of watching separately from different parts of the home.
Get together for a popcorn movie date night.
Photo courtesy of Randall Wood via Pinterest
5. No-Bake Kitchen Face-Off
One sure and easy way to win kids’ hearts is through sweet goodies. And what could be more fun than having them join you concoct no-bake desserts which beyond doubt they will enjoy eating afterwards. Cooking Light unlids sumptuous recipes for no-bake desserts from mouth-watering tropical sherbet to creamy peanut butter pie, etc. Not only is it easy-to-do, but no-bake cooking can be healthy and power saving, too, as no oven is required.
Cook up your way to kids’ hearts.
Photo courtesy of ADDitude Magazine via Pinterest
6. Art In A Bottle
There are very good reasons why you should keep those jars. On one afternoon session for arts and crafts, let your children think and experiment with what could be made out of old bottles. Start with candle holder, candy jar, potpourri holder, coin bank, pen canister, and so on. You would be surprised later that the list you’ve drawn up with them didn’t turn out short!
Tons of creative ideas on bottle art for kids.
Photo courtesy of Ashley Joye via Pinterest
7. Decoupage With Paper
Decoupage can be a fun and easy craft for your children to learn and do. It involves making tiny paper cut-outs, which can be recycled from back magazine issues, pasting them together to form beautiful pictures, and finishing off with varnish for added appeal and texture. Since it can be applied to anything, decoupage can be a decorating tool which promises limitless possibilities.
Decoupage is a fun and easy craft kids can learn and do.
Photo courtesy of Ellen Cooker via Pinterest
8. BBQ Cook-outs With Al Fresco Dining
Take much stock of the fine weather during school breaks to minimize on power consumption inside the home. Bar-B-Q cook-outs can be an enjoyable way to perk up your mealtime or spring parties at the patio or covered gazebo for a relaxing outdoor ambiance.
Fine weather is much too inviting for family meals outside.
Photo courtesy of Jean Luc Lutringer via Pinterest
9. Poetry Reading At The Park
If the Dead Poets Society held their poem sessions at hidden venues in the movie, dare to do differently! Come out to the open for poetry reading or story telling with the kids at the park. You can’t underestimate the difference made by simply lounging under the trees or sitting at the benches in installing a favorable setting for a poem. Aside from breathing the cool natural air outside, who knows, you may even bring out a writer or actor from your kids someday.
Conducive surroundings at the park creates the perfect setting for a poem.
Photo courtesy of Janet Mills via Pinterest
10. Bike or Hike Your Way To Tour
Have you ever thought of biking your way around in a tour? When a tour itinerary involves closely-woven sites, biking can be an attractive and feasible alternative transport mode. Much more if you have excess energy, you could even opt to go walking in your comfy footwear to visit tourist spots within near range. It’s healthy and what’s best, it’s fuel- and pollution-free.
Bike your way to tour with the family.
Photo courtesy of Cc C via Pinterest
11. Outdoor Sports Hour
If you happen to be a sports buff, you may be keen on allotting a regular time for outdoor sports among you and the kids. There can be several prospects – water fun, board games, team sports, etc. Outdoor sports assist greatly in conserving power and also lends a hand to proper health and value formation. Apartment Therapy lists brilliant ways to enjoy water sports with the kiddie plastic pool.
Outdoor play for kids can be real fun without being expensive.
Photo courtesy of Maghann Bass via Pinterest
12. Fly A Kite
Flying a kite seems to have been buried as an old-fashioned play in face of digital games from modern gadgets. But flying a kite creates a different bonding experience as you and your kids struggle together to keep the kite up in the air. Creating the kite is another thing as it summons a collective creative effort from your family.
Teach and join the kids to fly kite.
Photo courtesy of Veronica Savala via Pinterest
13. Fun Run Together For A Cause
Another way to bond with the family and at the same time contribute to a notable cause is by joining fun runs. These are common, especially during vacation time. Your family will end up not only getting more fit, but also more socially aware of various environmental concerns like river clean-ups, smart use of plastics, tree-planting, and similar advocacies.
Family fun runs can be eco-friendly, too.
Photo courtesy of Maria Barber-Katz via Pinterest
14. Wanted: Tender Loving Care (TLC)
Instead of going to far-off animal-theme parks or zoos, why not try extending more TLC towards the pets if you have at home? If not, try buying for a different experience a new indoor, low maintenance pet like a rabbit, small-breed dog, cat, or bird. Bird chatting or teaching the dog some new tricks together with the kids can turn out to be a hilarious bonding even just outside with natural light and ventilation.
Inspire kids to extend some TLC to pets at home.
Photo courtesy of Otaku via Pinterest
15. Ra,Ra,Ra! Ala Mardi-Gras
Numerous local parades and fairs are put up during school breaks along with the fine weather. Join in the excitement and revelry of local community celebrations like fiestas, trade festivals, and carnival fairs with your kids while you all get to appreciate more local culture and history.
Let kids cheer with the crowd from ladder seats during parades.
Photo courtesy of Gabby B via Pinterest
There may still be lots of activities you could think of for the kids’ school-break. Whatever your options may be, it’s important to keep learning and fun present in any bonding experience. But regardless of place, time, and resources, essential family bonding is achieved when everyone comes to spend time together.
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
Wake Forest University recently launched the Make Every Bite Count campaign that calls on colleges and universities to make a commitment to preserving and celebrating agricultural biodiversity in their own regions.
You can help promote agrobiodiversity, as well as your regional cultural heritage, by choosing to grow, buy, and celebrate indigenous and endangered foods:
- Inquire. Ask regional gardeners and farmers about heirloom plants and heritage animals that may have been grown or raised in the past. Generational growers may also practice saving seeds and could have access to seeds that hold significance as part of the regional cultural heritage.
- Connect. Visit farmers markets, restaurants, botanical gardens, seed banks, universities, or research centers to learn about the range of species that exist. From the ingredients a chef is using, to the rare fruit trees in a greenhouse, you can find out what is already being grown and what has the potential to be produced.
- Celebrate. Take a memory trip with friends or family who have access to cherished recipes that include heirloom varieties and heritage breeds. Prepare and celebrate dishes that stand the test of time.
- Share. Promote heirloom and heritage foods from your area by saving and sharing seeds or providing offspring for sale.
For more information, or to join the Make Every Bite Count campaign, visit sustainability.wfu.edu.
Read more at ENN.com!
Start the conversation – What is your university doing to help promote sustainability and agrobiodiversity?
Need something to do tomorrow in order to celebrate Earth Day? Check out this new documentary titled REVOLUTION which opens worldwide tomorrow!
REVOLUTION takes the fight to save the oceans to the next level and hopes to inspire audiences to help save our oceans and our planet. Filmed over four years in locations spanning 15 countries, from the coral reefs in Papua New Guinea to the rainforests in Madagascar, REVOLUTION is the response to the pleas of leading scientists who insist that by the middle of this century, we could have no fish in the sea, no coral reefs, no rainforests and a planet that can’t sustain many forms of life. Two thirds of the world’s species could be gone by the end of the century if we don’t act now. Directed and produced by Rob Stewart, a leading conservationist and award-winning filmmaker, REVOLUTION is an empowering firsthand look into the most important issues facing us today. The film trailer can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=21hGAKv_0Bs. Read and see more at The Revolution.
REVOLUTION: Facts & Figures
Fact: The last time something of this magnitude happened was the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction which took place 65 million years ago, and it is estimated that 75% of all species vanished.
Jablonski, D (1994). “Extinctions in the fossil record (and discussion)”. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Series B 344: 11–17. doi:10.1098/rstb.1994.0045.
Fact: Most of the “Big Five” mass extinction events can be directly attributable to ocean acidification.
Source: J.E.N. Veron. “Mass extinctions and ocean acidification: biological constraints on geological dilemmas.” Coral Reefs. 2008.
Fact: Properly managed coral reefs can yield an average of 15 tons of fish and other seafood per square kilometer each year.
Cesar, H. 1996. Economic Analysis of Indonesian Coral Reefs. Washington, DC: The World Bank.
Fact: Since the Industrial Revolution we have released approximately 1 quadrillion pounds (1,000,000,000,000,000) of CO2 into the atmosphere.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “NOAA, partners: Earth’s oceans and ecosystems still abosorbing about half the greenhouse gases emitted by people.” Aug. 1, 2012.
Fact: 21% of the air in our atmosphere is oxygen, which animals need to survive. At least half of our oxygen comes from phytoplankton in the oceans, which function as the lungs of the earth. Phytoplankton forms the basis of the ocean’s food chains, supporting everything from whale sharks to humans.
Source: Hellum, “Why Zooplankton are important (marine food webs)” Dec 5 2012
Fact: Studies have found that phytoplankton levels have diminished by up to forty percent over the last fifty years in 8 out of 10 ocean regions. If this depletion of phytoplankton continues it will basically starve the ocean, because phytoplankton is the food source for everything that lives in the ocean.
Marshall, Jessica. Rising Ocean Acidity May Deplete Vital Phytoplankton. 14 January, 2010.
Fact: The Great Barrier Reef has declined in coral cover by 38 percent over the last 25 years. Coral cover in the Caribbean has declined by as much as 90 percent.
Source: J.E.N. Veron. “Mass extinctions and ocean acidification: biological constraints on geological dilemmas.” Coral Reefs. 2008
Fact: It took four million years for corals to rebuild reefs after the last extinction.
Source: Revolution and Global Reef Project. Retrieved from http://www.globalreefproject.com/blog/
Fact: Southeast Asia’s coral reef fisheries alone are estimated to yield US$ 2.4 billion annually.
Source: Multiple reports: http://www.icran.org/peoplereefs-fastfacts.html via:
Burke, L., Selig, E., and Spalding, M. 2002. Reefs at Risk in Southeast Asia, World Resources Institute
Fact: Every year we discard approximately 40 billion pounds of dead fish as by-catch, because it wasn’t the species we were targeting.
Source: FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Department Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Rome. (2012). State of the World’s Fisheries and Aquaculture 2012. Retrieved from www.fao.org
Fact: Deforestation is the second biggest emitter of carbon dioxide, and contributor to ocean acidification.
Sources: Undated: http://whatsyourimpact.org/greenhouse-gases/carbon-dioxide-sources ; Le Quéré, C. et al. (2013). The global carbon budget 1959-2011.
Fact: Tropical forests are home to more than half of the world’s species, and produce a third of our oxygen.
Source: Undated, author not cited http://www.rainforestconcern.org/rainforest_facts/why_are_rainforests_important/
Fact: Madagascar has already lost 90% of its forest.
Source: Undated, World Wildlife Foundation, http://www.wwf.mg/ourwork/cssp/species_report/factsmada/
Fact: 75% of the world’s forests are gone due to deforestation.
Source: Think Global Green, December 2014. Retrieved from http://www.thinkglobalgreen.org/deforestation.html
Fact: Canada hopes to build pipelines to transport the oil out of Alberta, expanding the tar sands 20 times. The latest Tar Sands Keystone pipeline was just vetoed by President Obama.
Source: Gregory Korte, USA Today, February 25, 2015 http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2015/02/24/obama-keystone-veto/23879735/
Fact: The Earth’s population will increase from nearly 7 billion in 2013 to approximately 9 billion by 2050 and we are already exhausting the capacity of the planet to provide for us at our current level of population and consumption.
Sources: UN Press Release: World population projected to reach 9.6 billion by 2050 with most growth in developing regions, especially Africa” (PDF). United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. June 13, 2013. Retrieved March 16, 2015. “UN Press Release: World population projected to reach 9.6 billion by 2050 with most growth in developing regions, especially Africa” (PDF). United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. June 13, 2013. Retrieved March 16, 2015.
Photo credits: © Rob Stewart
Tequila’s soaring popularity is creating agricultural risks that may force its own collapse if current production practices continue.
A bit of background
Tequila has been made from the agave plant in Mexico for hundreds of years. The agave is sometimes called the century plant because of a myth that it blooms once in a century and then dies. Well, there’s some truth to this. It does die after it flowers, but it actually takes roughly 8 to 10 years to mature.
To prevent the agave from flowering, farmers closely monitor their crops and cut off any flower stalks so that the agave will continue to grow. When the agave’s sugar content is high enough for fermentation (at least 24 percent), the plant is harvested. Leaves are cut off and discarded. The heart of the plant, or piña, is then carted off and sold to tequila producers. The piña gets its name from its resemblance to an enormous pineapple, weighing in at roughly 50-100 pounds. The piñas are then roasted, mashed, fermented, strained, distilled, and sometimes aged, to make tequila.
Wait, don’t no flowers mean no seeds?
It might be reasonable to assume that the farmers would allow a selection of plants to flower to produce seeds for the next crop. But in the case of the agave, they don’t have to.
Agave is a succulent, one of those wonderful, strange plants that are so adept at asexual reproduction that, in many species, a single leaf has the potential to sprout roots and grow into a fully functioning adult plant. The agave, for example, sends out shoots, known as pups. Fortunately for farmers, the agave becomes especially eager to create pups when its means of sexual reproduction is disrupted in some way, such as by cutting off its flowering stalk. This is ideal for farmers, who can collect the pups to populate their fields in lieu of seed stock.
Using shoots or pups is cheaper, faster and easier than growing from seed. Unfortunately, the cost of convenience is the absence of genetic diversity of the agave stock. In 2007 it was estimated that that 99 percent of all cultivated agave were the products of pups. In genetic terms, most cultivated agave plants are clones. Without sexual reproduction, there is no genetic exchange between plants. This genetic sameness produces precarious conditions for the health of future crops, as genetic diversity creates obstacles that pests must overcome, thereby slowing their spread and damage.
In the last 30 years, tequila has ballooned in popularity, with producers scrambling to keep up with demand. In less than a decade, the
industry has seen propagation boom from 40,000 acres cultivated with Weber Blue agave to nearly 120,000 acres. This created an overabundance, and thus a flooded market. Prices for agave plummeted from $4 per pound to pennies, highlighting the risks of trying to predict the market when it takes 10 years for a crop to be ready for harvest.
But after planting 120,000 acres with a single strain, of a single crop, of which 99 percent of plants are vegetally propagated genetic clones, the tequila industry now has more to worry about than simply forecasting demand. This kind of agricultural management takes the concept of monoculture to a new level. It practically warrants a new word!
Monoculture makes crops vulnerable, and the predictable consequence is disease. This is why big agribusiness spends so much money on fungicides and pesticides. Just look what monoculture did to the Gros Michel banana. Today, the world consumes Cavendish bananas. But prior to the 1950’s, the Gros Michel, which was said to have been the most flavorful of all banana varieties, would have been in your local grocery store. Then came Panama Disease, caused by a fungus, which tore through the world’s banana plantations and very nearly resulted in the extinction of the Gros Michel.
With monoculture brought to the genetic level, Weber Blue agave today is an easy target for pests, with weevils, nematodes, fungi and bacteria ravaging the fields. Weevils boar into the hard husk, creating access points into the plant for the fungus and bacteria. Once an insect is inside the plant, pesticides are largely ineffective.
The best course of action for producers of Weber Blue agave is to work with seed stock, and intercrop with some of the other 10 heirloom varieties of agave that are viable for making tequila. But government standards prevent this from happening. Only liquor produced within the area surrounding the town of Tequila, and made with Weber Blue agave, may be called tequila. Other varieties can only be called mescal.
To avoid the inevitable consequences of monoculture, the simple and obvious solution would be for the government to modify regulations governing these designations. But the industry is loathe to do so for fear of compromising the integrity of the product and losing its designation as “tequila.”
Just as the Gros Michel banana was considered to be the most delicious of all strains of bananas, so is Weber Blue regarded among agave varieties. But if the Weber Blue agave meets the same fate as the Gros Michel, a great many tequila lovers will have reason to mourn.
# # #
Stewart, A. (2013). The drunken botanist: The plants that create the world’s great drinks. Chapel Hill, N.C.: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill.
by Katharine Galpin
By: Guest Contributor, Boom Rizal
Never before has the label “citizen of the world” been taken this seriously. People feel that travelling is something they deserve; that they owe it to themselves to see the world. For millions of people in the United Kingdom for example, global travel (53%) ranks higher than having a baby (30%) and buying a house (38%) in their bucket list. The dream travel destinations are anywhere from the Great Barrier Reef, Aurora Borealis, African Safari, Pyramids of Egypt, and the Great Wall of China. The desire to be a backpacker, an expert traveler, and a citizen of the world transcends race, religion, and color. Whether for vacation, business, or school, waking up in a different place is something everyone wants to experience.
A report by the United Nations Environment Programme shows that international tourist arrivals have almost quadrupled over the past thirty years and domestic tourism has also never been this vibrant. Jobs for locals and a boost to the economy are some of the positive impacts of a strong tourism industry. However, the risks of environmental degradation also become greater. With more than a billion people traveling each year, how can we see the world without destroying it? The answer is sustainable travel or simply put, traveling responsibly. Here are tips to be a more responsible traveler, and hopefully save the world for future generations.
Care for a little research?
How hard is it to research about a place these days? Learn about mass tourism and the ecosystem. When you are visiting the Taj Mahal in India or the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt, know that pollution and heavy traffic of tourists have taken its toll. Always be considerate.
Look for eco accommodation
When you look for the best accommodation deals especially in worldly famous destinations like Boracay, don’t just look for free wi-fi, book a hotel that recycles, employ locals, use alternative forms of energy, and have good ventilation. By supporting green hotel accommodations, you become an agent of sustainability.
Follow the rules
Everywhere you go, there are going to be rules. These are necessary to preserve the tourist spots and destinations. In Boracay in the Philippines for example, building sand castles and sand sculptures are now prohibited by a local ordinance. This is one way to protect the famous white sands of one of the world’s best beaches.
Buy local, eat local
What is the point of going to Korea without eating Kimchi or Japan without trying sushi? When travelling, skip fast-food favorites like burgers and fries and go for local restaurants and buy local products. Hire local guides, too, if ever you’ll need one. This is one way to help sustain tourism in the countries that you visit.
Ride the bus, walk, or bike
Instead of renting a car to use during the duration of your tour, it is better to take the train or ride the bus and not contribute to traffic and pollution. If the destination is just several kilometers away, try to walk or bike and take that chance to stroll down the city’s history and rich culture.
Carry a reusable water bottle around
Endless walking and sight-seeing will tire you down. You will find yourself buying three or four plastic water bottles each day and doing so contributes to toxic wastes. Bring a reusable water container (hopefully big enough for a liter or two) that you can refill in restaurants or areas where tap water is safe.
This is very basic. Don’t throw food wrappers, plastic bags, water bottles, etc. anywhere (even if the locals do). The trails in the Peruvian Andes and in Nepal have been nicknamed “Coca-Cola trail” and “Toilet paper trail” because of the ton of garbage left behind by trekking tourists. Don’t let this happen to other tourist spots and remember to always dispose off your litter and trash properly.
Are you one of those travelers who do not mind keeping the heater or air-conditioning on even after they leave their hotel because they paid for it? Well, you are not entitled to consume all of the world’s energy. Treat it as you would your own home. Turn the aircon off and plug out all appliances when not in the room.
Skip the tub and take quick showers. The world’s water resources are beginning to get scarce so make the responsible gesture of keeping your water usage to a minimum. You may be on vacation, but you can only take a break from work and not from being a responsible citizen of the world.
Hang towels and skip laundry
Hanging used towels is a universal sign that you want to use them again. Hang them so hotel staff won’t wash them again (and use more water). Also, hotels usually wash guests’ clothes separately so skip the laundry service if you can.
Do not disturb
Putting the “do not disturb” sign on your door helps to cut down on using chemical cleansers, washing of bed linens, electricity for vacuuming, etc. After all, you only use your hotel to have a place to sleep when traveling so it can’t look like a cave in a few hours, right?
Respect the wildlife
Don’t disturb the wildlife and help in preserving it. In the beach, don’t ride a jetski where there are corals or other marine life. In a safari tour, don’t get too close for comfort and keep a safe distance to animals. Don’t pick up or take home natural resources like shells or plants. Avoid using loud and motorized equipment in small communities.
Beware of souvenirs
Ask about a product before purchase. Find out the raw materials used and from where they came from. Some may be illegal to manufacture or transport.
Bring reusable shopping bags
When shopping for souvenirs or getting some produce from the local market, use reusable shopping bags and cut down the harmful use of plastic bags.
Consider off-peak travel
Travelling during the off-season is not only cheaper; it also helps control the crowd. For example, Boracay is beautiful all year round and while summer is beach season, it is impossible for you not to enjoy and appreciate it even before or after summer. Population and crowd control are among the many challenges faced by most tourist destinations and supporting off-season travels is one way to help. As bonus, you get to enjoy the place with a little bit more peace and quiet.
Sustainable travel is about making simple choices. These choices may seem like it won’t make a difference but when done regularly and collectively, it can save the world for the future generations to see and experience. Remember that what you have is a passport to see the world and not a ticket to destroy it.
Boom Rizal is an investor, a researcher and a passionate writer. Get in touch with me and follow me @boomrizal.