Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Recycling Education

Being green comes naturally to bakery owners

Tom and Mariah Roberts run Beach Pea Baking Co. in Kittery, Maine. Tom and Mariah Roberts run Beach Pea Baking Co. in Kittery, Maine. (Essdras M Suarez/Globe Staff)
By Bridget Samburg Globe Correspondent / December 3, 2008

KITTERY, Maine - Mariah and Tom Roberts like to talk trash. All of the customers at Beach Pea Baking Co. are reminded about recycling at the refuse bins, educated about it on the cafe's tables, and told about the bakery's pledge to use only what is necessary. Mariah scours restaurant vendors for environmentally friendly products, such as compostable utensils made from potatoes. Even the butter pats here are wrapped in biodegradable paper, rather than metal-lined packets.

As a result, at Beach Pea, when it's time to dispose of your juice bottle or toss your napkin after nibbling on an oversized chocolate-drizzled croissant or a thick lemon bar, you'll find three clearly labeled bins: recycle, compost, and trash. And the trash receptacle is the least full. On any given day, a mere three bags leaves the shop, even after 300 to 600 customers pass through. Ninety-five percent of the bakery's waste is recycled or composted.

Since owners Mariah and Thomas Roberts opened in 2001, they have been about as green as they can possibly be. In fact, this couple is so passionate about their recycling program and sustainable practices that they nearly forget to talk about the actual sweet offerings. As for the confections, they're made with pure ingredients. "We didn't want to sell anything to anyone that we wouldn't cook in our own house," says Mariah. You won't find corn syrup, white sugar, white paper bags, or bleached napkins here.

The husband and wife team, who are natives of Portsmouth, N.H., had worked in enough restaurants to know that they didn't want to be like everyone else - with tons of trash, energy waste, and unnecessary plastic. So they started out using sustainable practices and took serious measures to tread as lightly as possible with regard to ingredients, electricity, and utensils. They source as much food locally as is possible. Breads are made with unbleached, unbromated, and often organic flour, and berry scones are studded with blueberries and raspberries, locally grown when in season.

At lunch fresh, healthful salads and sandwiches use the bakery's crisp French baguettes and the Robertses see to it that no processed products are brought into the kitchen. The couple make their own spreads and salad dressings and roast their own meats. All the bakery's ingredients come from local distributors.

In 2007 Beach Pea, named for the wild flowers that grow along the water, generated 85,000 pounds of trash, but 90 percent of it was composted. The rest was sent to a processing facility in Biddeford, Maine, where it was burned for electricity. "You have to have dedication as owners to teach people to dispose of trash properly," says Tom. "But I think it's been a useful tool for our community. It's interesting to see people get excited about it." Mariah would like to see other restaurants in the Seacoast area follow their lead. In fact she spends a good chunk of time fielding calls from restaurant owners who are interested in going green.

For them, it all starts in the kitchen with time, patience, and dedication. "Bakeries can be more connected to the community," says Tom. Adds Mariah, "You're creating a sense of place for people rather than just being a servant." When customers leave the shop, compostable brown bag in hand, a tempting little confection tucked inside, they can feel good about eating.

Beach Pea Baking Co., 53 State Road (Route 1), Kittery, Maine, 207-439-3555.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Green Hour

EcoAlert from American P.I.E.
Title: The Green Hour
12 November, 2008

The National Wildlife Federation is prompting people to sign a petition asking the U.S. Surgeon General to endorse a Green Hour for all Americans The Green Hour, a daily hour spent outside in unstructured play and interaction with Nature, promotes a connection to the environment and, in turn, fosters an ethic respecting Mother Earth. Research demonstrates that ecologistic and moralistic attitudes toward the environment correlate strongly with observing Nature on television, talking about the environment, and reading about the environment. These findings come as no surprise at a time when knowledge and experience of the natural world is derived principally from multimedia and the mall.

Watching TV and shopping rank one and two as America's leisure activities of choice. The amount of time that children spend outdoors has declined by 50 percent over the last two decades. Rather than heading out for wild places, even in their own backyards, children experience the wild via television, educational films, mall exhibits and computers. Learning about Nature can be accomplished without ever touching feet on the soil of Earth. The National Wildlife Federation notes that children spend 44.5 hours a week looking at some type of electronic screen. Little wonder that childhood obesity has become an alarming health issue. As America¹s chief health educator, the Surgeon General is in a position to urge action and begin educating people about the health benefits of getting outdoors, if only for the daily Green

Television, specifically, has become our eye into the wonders of Nature. The natural world, however, is often represented as artifice - an advertisement that takes you to Nature either in vocabulary or image - or as Nature apart from the human species - videos that collapse wildlife scenes into unreal portrayals, hardly ever peopled, hardly ever urban, often focusing on remote corners of the globe. What's missed is the fact that people, too, belong to natural, biotic communities. We have an ancient biological heritage; natural and human communities are inextricably bound together and their health, above all, depends upon our recognition of that fact. The Green Hour can serve as a reminder. Sign the National Wildlife Federation petition

As long as Nature remains out there as a vague construct, there can be no fully rooted commitment to preserving it. Instead, we will continue on a path of destruction which relies increasingly on prosthetic devices, products of our biological genius, to keep ourselves and the biosphere alive. We have already severely tested Earth¹s fragility, and now we should step gently into the wild, if only for an hour.

Act today on this EcoAlert, and thank you for your environmental responsibility.

American P.I.E.
Public Information on the Environment, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization
P.O. Box 676
Northfield, MN 55057-0676
Telephone: 1-800-320-APIE(2743); fax 507-645-5724
Please support the work of American P.I.E. Make a donation or become a
member by calling the office at 800-320-APIE(2743). Thank you.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

A Hero Workshop for Camp Counselors

About The Hero Workshop

Welcome to the Hero Workshop where we help kids find the hero inside.

I'm Matt Langdon, creator of the Hero Workshop program. I'm an Australian living in America despite what the picture to the right might suggest. I left Australia to spend a summer in Michigan working at a YMCA camp. That was thirteen years ago.

I started the Hero Workshop in 2006 with the goal of using the skills I'd developed through living the camp life of "learn everything, just in case". At camp I worked with people aged from five to "don't ask" in sometimes wildly different circumstances and environments. They helped me realise what a real hero is.

The aim of the program is to show young people that by doing the little things every day they can become heroes. Far from having to perform miraculous deeds, they are provided with an attainable goal.

I'm proud to be working with Dr. Philip Zimbardo and Zeno Franco on their study of heroism in reference to the psychology world. Zimbardo has recently retired as Professor Emeritus at Stanford University and is keen to spread the word of heroism around the world. You can read a paper I contributed to if you click here for a pdf file.

Please look around the site and feel free to contact me with any questions about the program or comments on heroism.

Learn About The Program

Read the details of the programs offered for grades K-12 and youth groups, including Girl Scouts
Click Here

Summer Camp Programs

"It was amazing to me how The Hero Workshop made me feel like I could start my own journey as someone else's hero, really make a difference in the lives of the children I was working with."
Phillip Bergquist, YMCA Camp Copneconic

"After hearing all the "do"s and "do not"s about camping during staff training, I was feeling quite overwhelmed. Langdon's closing session, The Hero Workshop, really revived my hope for the summer. It gave me some perspective on the experience and gave me motivation to go out into that new world, conquer the obstacles, and return home a changed person, a hero."
Hannah Hudson, YMCA Camp Storer

"The Hero Workshop really put the upcoming summer into perspective for me."
Aaron Romoslawski, YMCA Camp Copneconic

Camp Counselors

Rachel Carson Contest Winners 2008

EPA's Aging Initiative, Generations United, and the Rachel Carson Council, Inc. are pleased to announce the winners of this year's Rachel Carson "A Sense of Wonder" Intergenerational Essay, Photography, and Poetry Contest.

The categories are Photography, Essay, Poetry and Mixed (Photo, Essay and Poetry).

The contest was designed to increase environmental stewardship and public awareness of environmental issues. This year, the theme is commemorating the 100th anniversary of environmentalist Rachel Carson's life. The contest's intergenerational approach reflects Carson's efforts through her writings to have adults share with children a sense of wonder about nature and help them discover its joys. All teams included both a person under age 18 and a person 50 years of age or older.

More than 140 individuals submitted entries to the Rachel Carson contest. Participants came from all over the US and the world and included intergenerational teams of families, neighbors, friends, and senior centers. Finalists in each category were selected by an intergenerational team of judges. Winners were then selected by public voting on the Aging Initiative website. More than 1,500 individuals cast their votes for their favorite entries.

The categories are Photography, Essay, Poetry and Mixed (Photo, Essay and Poetry).

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Sandy Island Mushrooms

In praise of mushrooms

Paul Stamets TED lecture
Paul Stamets believes that mushrooms can save our lives, restore our ecosystems and transform other worlds.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Saturday morning on the lodge porch.

Recycling was popular. But we need more bins.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Blowing your nose

Greenpeace teamed up with Mark Fiore, celebrated political cartoonist to make this animated short featuring Kleer*E who gobbles up forests and spits out boxes of Kleenex!

Sustainibility about balancing our impact and more wisely managing our natural resources. The United Nations describes it as commitment to"the provision of a secure environmental, social, and economic future."
-- quote from Max Gladwell's Ten Ways that Social Media and Sustainability Align.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Golden Chanterelles

Edible Mushrooms
Picked at Sandy Island Week 7, August 2008

have 3 main characteristics:

1. The gills do not meet in a nice single line on the stem, but instead seem to fade out unevenly.

2. Gills are a membrane instead of a thick and separate part of the body. In regular mushrooms if you break the cap you will see that the the flesh of the body is separate from the thick flesh of the gills. In a chantrelle if you break the cap then the gills will separate and look like a thin flap of flesh.
3. They smell of a mixture of apricots and squash.

The Chanterelle Book by Olle Persson. A treasure trove of Chanterelle mushroom historical fact, lovely illustrations, and sumptuous recipes. This book shows how and why the chanterelle has become one of the most sought-after edible mushrooms. Illustrations of the various species of Chanterelles and their habitats. 120 pages, scores of color plates, index. $16.95 + S/H

Saturday, July 26, 2008

A no-lead law for loons

Globe Editorial

A no-lead law for loons

(Derrick Z. Jackson/Globe Staff)
Email|Print|Single Page| Text size + July 26, 2008

THE CALL of the loon was particularly haunting this month against a sad backdrop. Biologists in New Hampshire discovered four loons dead from lead poisoning. The deaths were disturbing for many reasons. One is that the summer is only half over and one more lead-killed loon will exceed the annual average for the state. Another is that the loons came from four different bodies of water - an indication that the lead problem is widespread. Still another was that two loons died from tackle the state banned eight years ago: lead sinkers or jigs one inch or smaller. Worst of all, the other two loons died from lead jigs larger than an inch, jigs exempted from the ban on the premise they were too big for loons to ingest.

It is another call to get the lead out of lakes and streams.

New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, and New York have all banned the sale or use of small lead tackle. Massachusetts currently bans lead on its primary loon nesting waters of the Quabbin and Wachusett reservoirs. This spring, the state Senate passed legislation sponsored by Senator Robert Antonioni of Leominster that would give wildlife officials the power to issue a statewide ban on small lead tackle. The bill awaits action in the House.

Lead restrictions have been met with some resistance from angler industry lobbyists, as the metal remains popular for its cheap cost, density, and malleability. But more and more nontoxic gear is becoming available. In fact, one of the "best-of-show" products at this month's international sports-fishing trade convention in Las Vegas was a stone sinker. That would be perfect for loons - if they have to ingest a lost sinker at all - since a primary way they take in lead sinkers is with the pebbles their beaks scoop up from lake bottoms to help digest fish.

Industry complaints about lead bans have to be weighed against the fact that the call of the loon cannot be taken for granted, with about 4,000 birds in Maine, 528 in New Hampshire, and only a few dozen in Massachusetts. Massachusetts should enact a statewide ban on lead, so the call of the loon is merely beautiful, not haunting.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


File this in the great ideas department:

Flipswap makes it easy for you to get something out of your old cell phone. Choose any of the options below and you'll be doing yourself, and our environment, a favor.

Flipswap is the best way to turn your old cell phone into a new one, get cash, or make a donation to your favorite charity.

With hundreds of thousands of people already using the service we've had a lot of practice to get it right. Below are just a few of the reasons that people love Flipswap.

Flipswap is Free

Whether you're a cell phone retailer with thousands of phones to trade-in or you just have one rattling around your junk drawer that you'd like to get rid of- it's absolutely free.

We don't charge for shipping, handling or any service fees. If you have a cell phone, you can trade it in absolutely free. We're not crazy- we're just really nice.

Flipswap is Fast

You can trade in your phone immediately. In seconds you'll have a list of locations in your area where you can receive instant store credit. Flipswap trained cell phone experts will help you determine the value of your phone and issue your store credit on the spot.

Have your eye on a new phone? Go out and get it today with Flipswap.

Flipswap is Green

Flipswap is concerned about the millions of unused cell phones that end up in our landfills each year. Rest assured that a flispwapped phone won't be thrown out. Every working phone that Flipswap receives will be given a new home. We understand that ‘reuse' is an important part of global sustainability.

We work with the most environmentally conscience ewaste recyclers on earth. If a phone has reached the end of its useful life it will be broken down into component materials and painstakingly recycled using the greenest methods available today.

When you trade-in a phone with Flipswap you don't have to worry where it will end up. We handle it all so you can enjoy everything that is green.

Find Out More

Flipswap is Fair

Our engineers have designed a complicated algorithm that allows us to offer you a real time trade-in value for any phone. Not only is our price guide the best in the business, it's the only one in the business.

We give you what you deserve. The highest trade-in value for your phone and the peace of mind that can only come from working with the best.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Save Energy -- Make Cold Brewed Coffee

Cold-Brewed Coffee Extract
Makes about 1 1/2 quarts

1 pound good quality coffee, ground for drip
2 1/2 quarts cool tap water

In a minimum 3-quart pitcher or jar, combine the coffee and water. Let stand for 12 hours. Strain the coffee through a regular kitchen strainer into a 2-quart jar or pitcher. After the bulk of the coffee Place the strainer over a bowl for a few hours to get every last drop.

I find that tastes vary about the strength of coffee. For instance, a guest the other night who was familiar with coffee extract requested her iced coffee be made with nothing but the extract, ice, milk and sugar. I needed a shot of water in mine. For morning coffee, however, I found that three parts water to one part extract, as the manufacturer of Suzanne’s gadget suggests, was too weak for me. I preferred two parts.

For Iced Coffee
Stir together equal parts of the coffee extract and cold tap water (or bottled water). Pour over ice. Add sugar and milk to taste.

For Hot Coffee
Use one part coffee extract to 2 to 3 parts just-boiled water.

Cold Brewed Coffee Using a French Press


  • French press (my Bodum one holds about 3 cups, I think)
  • 1 cup coffee
  • 2 cups water


  1. Pour the coffee in the press and then add the water. On my unit the water and coffee comes right up to where the plunger would start. Depending on how strong your coffee is you may want a little more or less water.
  2. Stir the coffee with a wooden spoon of chopstick. You want to make sure all of the coffee grounds are wet. Wait, about two minutes and stir again. Some of the grounds should now settle to the bottom instead of all floating at the top.
  3. Wait 12 hours. I have seen other recipes that say it should be good after 4 hours. I have also other recommendations that after 15 hours or so, you start to extract some of the bitter flavors from the coffee. I usually aim for over night.
  4. Press down slowly on the plunger. Pour out the concentrate into an airtight container. You might want to avoid pouring the very last part, it might be a little murky.
  5. To make coffee either add cold water, milk or hot water. The ratio used depends on how strong you want your cup to be. I usually do about 1/4 or 1/6 concentrate and the rest milk. Experiment and see what tastes best.
  6. _________________

New Orleans Cold Drip Coffee
Scaled down from a Blue Bottle Coffee Company recipe, as appeared in the New York Times Magazine

Makes 1 1/2 cups coffee concentrate

1/5 pound dark roast coffee and chicory, medium ground (about 1 cup)
2 cups cold water

1. Put coffee in a nonreactive container, like a stainless-steel bowl. Add 1/4 cup water, stirring gently to wet the grounds, then add remaining water, agitating the grounds as little as possible. Cover and let steep at room temperature for 12 hours.

2. Strain coffee concentrate through a medium sieve, then again through a fine-mesh sieve.

3. To make iced coffee, fill a glass with ice, add ¼ cup coffee concentrate and 3/4 to 1 cup milk, then stir. To make cafĂ© au lait, warm 3/4 to 1 cup milk in a saucepan or microwave, then pour into a mug and add ¼ cup coffee concentrate. (Concentrate will keep in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Would You Pay 1000 Times More For Gasoline If It Came In A Bottle?

Posted: 08 Jul 2008 From: We All Live Downstream, A Blog by John DeCock, President of Clean Water Action

If you’re looking for a place to trim your budget in order to afford gasoline, you might start by cutting out bottled water. In most cases, the water you buy is the same as what comes out of your tap. When it’s bottled, you pay anywhere from 1000 to 10,000 times the price of tap water.

Modern municipal water systems comprise a mind boggling and tremendously successful public works project costing in the trillions and delivering a basic necessity of life for an amount of money so small that most people think of water as being delivered to their home for free. Although we still need to work hard to protect our water sources and ensure that our water infrastructure is in good shape, most American cities have water that is equal to or better than a given bottle.

In June of 2007, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom took forward-thinking action on this issue to reduce waste and cut down greenhouse gas emissions. He also saved the city about $500,000 per year. Mayor Newsom instituted a ban on the purchase of bottled water for use by the city. On June 23rd, the US Conference of Mayors voted to endorse this idea. In a non-binding resolution the mayors agreed to encourage bans similar to the ones in place in San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles and about 60 other cities. Mayor Newsom and 17 other big cities mayors led this effort against opposition from industry groups such as the American Beverage Association.

In commenting on the resolution, Newsom said “Cities are sending the wrong message about the quality of public water when we spend taxpayer dollars on water in disposable containers from a private corporation.”

According to the Pacific Institute, we used 17 million barrels of oil to manufacture bottles for water in 2006. That figure doesn’t come close to representing the full cost in oil. Transportation to point of sale and beyond is not included. The bottling process produced 2.5 million tons of CO2. It takes three liters of water to manufacture a one liter bottle of water. Not to mention the environmental impact of the plastic that is not recycled after all that bottled water is consumed.

And there is a cost to our water resources for all of this bottling. Some major corporations have a big financial interest in exploiting our ecosystems to feed the demand for bottled water that they create.

In Michigan the Nestle Corporation’s water pumping operations triggered an ongoing seven-year-long battle over control of the state’s waters when it started a bottling operation in rural Mecosta County. Local residents took the company to court in 2001. The local court ordered Nestle to stop pumping and diverting waters from Sanctuary Springs, but subsequent legal appeals ended with Nestle being granted permission to withdraw up to 250 gallons per minute despite the fact that pumping was impairing a nearby stream, lake and wetlands. The Michigan Supreme Court majority, in a decision that overturned 30 years of settled law, ruled that federal law superseded the Michigan Environmental Protection Act and greatly reduced the ability of citizens to sue to enforce the state’s environmental laws.

NestlĂ©’s political muscle was further flexed in a deal that exempted most bottled water exports from the proposed Great Lakes Compact agreement which bans water diversions from the Great Lakes, a win reinforced in 2006 when Michigan’s elected officials put the diversion loophole into state law. Clean Water Action helped lead the way in winning new protections against the impacts of bottled water withdrawals in legislation expected to be signed by the Governor this month, but the diversion loophole remains.

Is there ever a circumstance in which bottled water makes sense? Of course there is, but every day routine use in most places do not require that we waste money, generate trash and burn oil to get an overpriced consumer product that is as close as your kitchen sink.

Routinely using bottled water for your drinking water is like buying alkaline batteries to power your refrigerator. It is insanely inefficient. You can take action to change this irrational consumer habit by switching to tap water in safe, refillable bottle. You can also contact your mayor’s office and public utilities commission and tell them you want them to adopt the ban on buying bottled water with taxpayer funds.

So this summer, stay healthy and hydrated, but BYOB to the beach, the gym or in the lunches you pack for day camp. Cut down on waste, damage to watershed, CO2 emissions and save money in the process. Isn’t it great to know you can do so much good for the environment, save money and stay healthy all at the same time? All that, and you don’t need to carry those heavy cases of water around anymore!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008


North American Pollinators Program Campaign (NAPPC) is working to educate the public about pollinators and how we can better protect them. For more information on NAPPC, contact and for schools, contact
Photo taken at Sandy Island, Week 7 2008 on the ball field.

Friday, June 27, 2008

New Shower Curtain Smell is Gross

It may not be news to regular Enviroblog readers, but it's official: new shower curtain smell is caused by toxic chemicals.

A study commissioned by the Center for Health, Environment, and Justice looked at the chemical composition of PVC shower curtains bought at a variety of retailers (from Sears to Bed Bath & Beyond).

They found, unsurprisingly, that shower curtains contain high levels of phthalates. They also found high levels of organotins, and the single shower curtain tested for off-gassing released 108 different volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Click to continue reading.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Child of Wonder

Written by Ginger Carlson, Child of Wonder is a thoughtful and engaging resource for parents and educators seeking to understand creativity and to encourage it in practical ways. With sections on imaginative play, math, movement, music, cooking, science, storytelling, visual arts, questioning, cooperative games, and nature, Child of Wonder provides tools to develop a creatively supported environment in a way that cultivates family participation. Carlson skillfully demonstrates that the things we need to inspire our children are within ourselves and our homes. Her love of wonder is infectious and her prescription for nurturing children is both creative and practical.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Use Plain Soap and Water

Triclosan is no more effective than ordinary soap and water and poses health risks to humans and creates anti-bacterial and antibiotic resistance. The American Medical Association recommends that consumers avoid antibacterial products.

Photo: Sandy Island May 2008

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Needless Waste

EcoAlert from American P.I.E. 5/28/08

untreated materials go directly into nearby ecosystems, harming wildlife, plant life and drinking water."

Household hazardous wastes, while toxic in nature, are not regulated under federal or state laws. In the average home fifteen pounds of toxic waste are generated each year. Included are such items as pesticides, auto batteries, gasoline, kerosene, metal polish with solvent, paint brush cleaners with solvent, solvent-based glue, paint, paint thinner, paint stripper, varnish, turpentine, wood preservative, adhesives, flea powder, rat poison, mothballs, photography chemicals, drain cleaners, floor and furniture polish containing nitrobenzene, pool chemicals, mercury batteries, lighter fluid, fluorescent lamps, and more.

In the outdoor environment, toxic materials can be harmful. When we throw them in the trash, they end up in the public landfill or incinerator. Buried in the landfill, toxic substances pollute the soil and eventually find their way into the water supply. Burned, they immediately pollute the air. When poured down the drain, any residual materials that cannot be broken down by water treatment plants will end up in nearby lakes, streams and rivers.

Homes using septic systems rather than public sewers similarly risk soil and water resources. Storm drains are perhaps the most dangerous dumping site of all; untreated materials go directly into nearby ecosystems, harming wildlife, plant life and drinking water.

When you must buy a hazardous substance for a specific purpose, buy only the amount you need, so that you can use it up. And if you have any left over, dispose of it properly. The most ecological way to approach toxins is to avoid them in the first place. Repeated or excessive contact with toxic household material can lead to lung, brain and nerve damage, and, in some cases, can even prove to be deadly, e.g., methylene chloride, an ingredient found in some aerosols, can cause nerve damage and cancer.

To avoid the dangers of hazardous substances, buy safe, effective alternatives whenever you can. Here are some examples: applications of boric acid can provide substantial control of cockroaches and fleas; vinegar cuts through mildew, stains and wax; baking soda cleans, deodorizes, polishes, removes stains and softens fabrics; borax disinfects, deodorizes, removes stains and softens water. There are also new, as well as time-proven, environmentally sound products on the market.

Procedures for the collection of hazardous wastes vary widely across the country. Some communities have special pick-up days; others have designated areas at recycling centers where wastes must be transported by the homeowner; others, unfortunately, have no systematic procedures. Call your local public works department to determine the operative procedures in your community. Best of all, avoid needless waste.

Act today on this EcoAlert, and thank you for your environmental responsibility.

American P.I.E., Public Information on the Environment, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, P.O. Box 676, Northfield, MN 55057-0676 Telephone: 1-800-320-APIE(2743); fax 507-645-5724

Please support the work of American PIE. Make a donation or become a member at <>. Thank you.

EcoAlert subscribe/unsubscribe at our website: American P.I.E. does not sell, rent or otherwise share addresses of EcoAlert subscribers.

*GoodSearch* for American P.I.E. Support American P.I.E. - Click on the link below, search, and a penny per search will go to American P.I.E.:

Friday, May 23, 2008

Responding to Climate Change

The National Academies of Science have released the 2008 edition of "Understanding and Responding to Climate Change," a free booklet designed to give the public a comprehensive and easy-to-read analysis of findings and recommendations from their reports on climate change.

More, including access to the booklet (which can be downloaded or ordered in hard copy) and to the NAS Climate Change information website at

(Photo:  Sandy Island, May 2008)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Avoiding BPA and Phthalates

Reducing Your Exposure to BPA
Bisphenol A has been used as an ingredient in consumer products for a long time and is difficult to avoid. In some cases, alternatives are available. Consider these tips, especially if you are or may become pregnant or are choosing a product for a child:

Reducing Your Exposure to Phthalates
Products containing phthalates are ubiquitous in our society, but you can reduce your and your family’s exposure to phthalates by avoiding PVC and purchasing products from companies that have eliminated phthalates. When you can choose, try to use metal, glass, ceramic, wooden, or other natural non-PVC products.

Think Before You Pink

Yoplait's fall campaign, Save Lids to Save Lives, continues to urge consumers to buy pink-lidded cups of Yoplait yogurt. For each pink lid mailed back to the company by December 31, Yoplait donates ten cents to Susan G. Komen for the Cure, up to $1.5 million. Sadly, a woman would have to eat three containers of Yoplait every day during the four-month campaign to raise $36 for the cause--and the yogurt is made from cows treated with rBGH (recombinant bovine growth hormone). Recent studies show that rBGH dairy products may be linked with an increased risk of breast, colon, and prostate cancer.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Kids and Nature

Video: Children Practice Real Science  Thousands of students monitor migration patterns of butterflies and other species as part of this online project.  

A Mobile Hands-On Science Program Captivates
An arcane science turns into a traveling circus that's fizzy, frantic, and fun.

Readings, Viewings, and Listenings
Free registration may be required and news-sensitive links may expire over the next week.

Woods Take Place of Test
"They're out here getting readings, looking at plants, animals, leaves -- everything. We've got 120 students out here working hard," said biology teacher Claudia King, who has coordinated this culminating project for seventeen years. -- Olympian (Olympia, Washington)

Related Edutopia article: How to Make Being Outdoors In

Program Involves Kids in Protecting Waterways

Sheri Faust, environmental educator for the St. Clair County Health Department, said that the Adopt-a-Stream program "gets students out doing chemical analysis of the water." -- Times Herald (Port Huron, Michigan)

Related Edutopia article: Children Champion the Environment

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Green Love

Globe in Hand

In the end,
we will conserve only what we love,
we will love only what we understand,
we will understand only what we are taught.

Baba Dioum,
Senegalese Conservationis

2008 Green Cup Challenge

Explore Nature

Nature Explore is a complete program of fun, effective resources to help educators, families, and anyone working to connect young children with nature. Nature Action Collaborative for Children:

Citizen Scientists Monitor Climate Change

AMC Mountain Plant Monitors - New Hampshire
AMC is looking for volunteers to help watch certain plants every year near their facilities in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Over time AMC will determine how plants in the mountains may be responding to trends in average annual air temperature and other weather related variables. Hikers will be able to submit observations and hence take an active role in the collection of scientific data. Observations made by these citizen scientists will create a baseline of information that will help detect and document ecological impacts of a changing climate.

Forest Flower Watch

AMC needs you to help to document forest flowering times across the Northeast this spring and summer and especially during June; which is Flower Watch Month

How to monitor:

  • Obtain the field guide and data sheet by downloading pdf file below, request the materials to be mailed to you (Include "Forest Flowers" as subject line), or obtain a copy at New Hampshire North Country AMC destination.

Forest Flower field guide and 2 data sheets pdf
(6 pages) print double-sided (read this printing hint to keep paper use down)

  • Go to any mountain trail above ~ 1,500 feet
  • Staying on the trail, locate a targeted forest plant (see field guide)
  • Record on data sheet date, detailed location and whether plant is before flowering, flowering, or not flowering
  • Return data sheet to AMC. It's that simple!

If you want to be more involved then sign up for our Mountain Watch Adopt-A-Peak monitoring program. Targeted species for forest monitoring include painted trillium, bunchberry, Canada mayflower, blue-bead lily, wood sorrel, and hobblebush.

Food Scraps Aren't Waste

Recently I read about a school in California that adopted a new zero-waste system to divert as much trash as possible from the local landfill by recycling and composting as much waste from the cafeteria and classrooms as possible. Kids learn that FOOD SCRAPS AREN'T WASTE, THEY'RE REUSABLE ENERGY! They learn to put all food scraps in composting bins and recyclables in other bins.

In this program, the smallest details matter. Milk and juice cartons out of the cafeteria come unglazed for easier composting. Even the cafeteria's plates, bowls and utensils — once a huge part of the school's trash — are put in the composting bin. They're made of corn.

Partnering with waste haulers and commercial compost facilities, the schools teach the basics of waste diversion. Compost is a soil amendment for enriching the fertility of the soil.

In a recent conversation with Rachel Carlson, our Sandy Island Food Service Director, we may have an opportunity to implement a similar program for Sandy Island in the future. Stay tuned.


Resourceful Schools

Don’t Throw Away That Food: Strategies for Record-Setting Waste Reduction, US EPA

Be Smart. Reducing Food Waste. Think a little about waste reduction, it can save a lot.

Kids Zero Waste Poster, New Zealand

Vampires at Sandy Island?

A "phantom load" is any appliance or electronic gizmo that uses energy even when turned off. Some people call them "vampire appliances" or "energy vampires."

Surprise -- most American appliances use electricity even when turned off. because the "off" button doesn't really mean "off." Yes, even chargers for cell phones and MP3 players siphon energy when plugged in - even if they're not charging a thing!Read about phantom load, stand-by power or vampire load

Global Warming in New Hampshire
New Hampshire Carbon Coalition
New Hampshire Citizens for Responsible Energy Policy

New Hampshire is profoundly affected by global warming. Scientists have documented
changes in the local climate and have studied the impacts. More...

At risk:

Smart energy choices and policies not only safeguard the stability of our climate; they provide energy independence, a stronger economy and a better quality of life for our citizens.

The keys:

Unhealthy haze over Northeast's wilderness

By William M. Hill | Boston Globe July 3, 2005

HIKING WITH ME in the Presidential Range of the White Mountains in June, my 9-year-old son took a header on a rocky trail. A well-stocked first aid kit and a fellow hiker who happened to be a physician made blessedly quick work of a head wound that will leave my son with nothing more than a neat scar and a blood-stained baseball cap -- both things he already brags about. There is something more ominous, though, that any parent of children who are hiking or exercising outdoors should be concerned about: unhealthy air.

Many of us look to escape in summer to places like the White Mountains and Acadia National Park, expecting clean air and endless views. The reality on our public lands in New England is often shockingly different. There, high haze levels and diminished views are vivid reminders that we are at a time in our planet's history when there is no promise of finding good, clean ''country air."

Each summer in the Northeastern United States, regional haze, primarily caused by sulfur dioxide emissions from coal-burning power plants in the Midwest, cuts visibility in the most scenic of our national parks and wilderness areas by up to 70 percent. Humid summer conditions in the Northeast cause particulates to expand and exacerbates the pollution-induced haze.

Read more.


William M. Hill is president of the Board of Directors of the Appalachian Mountain Club.

Leave No Trace (LNT)

Leave No Trace is an national and international program designed to assist outdoor enthusiasts with their decisions about how to reduce their impacts when they hike, camp, picnic, snowshoe, run, bike, hunt, paddle, ride horses, fish, ski or climb. The program strives to educate all those who enjoy the outdoors about the nature of their recreational impacts as well as techniques to prevent and minimize such impacts. Leave No Trace is best understood as an educational and ethical program, not as a set of rules and regulations.

Leave No Trace™ (LNT) is a philosophy of backcountry recreation that stresses leaving the wilderness as untouched as possible by your visit. It’s also a program designed to assist outdoor enthusiasts understand and minimize their recreational impacts on the land.

Leave No Trace, Inc.


1. Is committed to the enjoyment, health and protection of recreational resources on natural lands for all people;

2. Believes that education is the best means to protect natural lands from recreational impacts while helping maintain access for recreation and enjoyment;

3. Is founded on outdoor ethics whereby a sense of stewardship is gained through understanding and connecting with the natural world;

4. Believes that practicing the Leave No Trace principles is the most relevant and effective long-term solution to maintaining the beauty, health of, and access to natural lands;

5. Is science-based and builds ethical, pragmatic approaches to resource protection for varying types of outdoor recreation and enjoyment;

6. Strives to build key partnerships that support education programs, training and communities of volunteers, educators, land managers, organizations and corporations committed to teaching and instilling the values of Leave No Trace;

7. Is inclusive, for all people, and focused on all non-motorized recreation activities occurring on natural lands;

8. Is apolitical and dedicated to education;

9. Does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, age, religion, marital status, military status or disability;

10. Remains committed to its mission, core values, projects and programs without deviation.

AMC partners with Leave No Trace, Inc. to promote responsible outdoor recreation. Leave No Trace, Inc. has established the seven Leave No Trace Principles that serve as guidelines for those who enjoy outdoor recreation.

You can learn more about AMC’s committment to LNT on the AMC Leave No Trace web page.

What Does Global Warming Mean for the Northeast?

Photo by Jerry and Marcy MonkmanGlobal warming is a social issue that presents, individually and collectively, grave problems and greater opportunities. It means necessary change: the question becomes, do we ignore or minimize the problems, and watch our landscapes, economies and quality of life alter and erode; or do we make proactive changes in our energy choices and technologies, thereby creating economic opportunity, more sustainable local ecosystems, and a more peaceful, equitable world for our children? Clean Air-Cool Planet is working to help the Northeast lead the way in demonstrating both the need for, and benefits of, global warming solutions.

Saturday, May 3, 2008


Click on title for draft grant application (version April 26, 2008) for the new project:  That's Amore: Caring for Sandy, also known as the SI Sustainability Project.

Please feel free to edit and contribute to the details for goals, activities, timeline, budget, etc. 

Ellie 617 965-9637

Saturday, April 26, 2008


Research by Trish Moody (Week 7), 2007







Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Unplug Your Kids

Happy Earth Day! (April 22nd)

Earthways: Simple Environmental Activities for Young Children (Paperback)
by Carol Petrash (Author), Donald Cook (Illustrator)

Earthwise (Paperback)
by Carol Petrash (Author)

Nature's Art Box: From t-shirts to twig baskets, 65 cool projects for crafty kids to make with natural materials you can find anywhere (Paperback)

Getting Rid of Litter

  • Pick it up
  • Pack it out
  • When you see somebody throw it on the ground, give a shout ...

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Planning for a Greener Sandy Island

Ellie Goldberg Jan 2008
Sandy Island

Many veteran Sandy Island families have fond memories of the deer that used to share the island with us.

Many of us have favorite photos of a deer family or two in a soft shaft of afternoon sunlight taken near the Chapel or Juliet's Point. In my family movies, taken at Sandy twenty years ago, my daughters are hand-feeding Vanilla Wafers to a faun and her mother among the trees behind our cabin.

But the deer were not good for the island. In 1998, students from the University of New Hampshire Department of Natural Resources did an audit of Sandy's Island's natural resources. After evaluating Sandy's forest and wetland management practices and doing an inventory of vegetation, trees and wildlife species, the researchers concluded that the island's 66-acres could not support even a small population of six deer. The deer were eating the understory of bushes and trees.

So the deer had to go.

The report also documented serious erosion and damage in high use areas from vehicle and foot traffic. It recommended a list of changes and improvements to preserve and protect the island, including ways to stabilize the soil by better management of water drainage and soil run-off.

These improvements have been ongoing but are often an invisible and unappreciated part of island operations and management. More visible are the recent infrastructure upgrades and repairs required after the extreme storms that caused major damage in the past few years.

No doubt about it – the climate is changing. The winters in the region are warmer and the duration of ice cover on New Hampshire's lakes has decreased.. On Lake Winnipesaukee, for example, the average ice-out date now occurs eight days earlier than a century ago and the lake ice cover is thinning. This limits the time that trucks and loads of supplies necessary for major repair projects have access to Sandy Island during the winter months.

As you may have read in the past few Grains of Sandy, the Sandy Island Camper Improvement Committee has been discussing our island's ongoing and long term conservation needs – related to people as well as the weather.

We are talking about involving campers and staff in preserving the "nature" of Sandy by reducing our impact on Sandy's fragile ecosystem. According to the 1998 inventory, Sandy was home to twenty species of trees, fourteen shrub species, and a variety of herbacius species such as cinnamon fern, sensitive fern, Canadian dogwood, wood sorrel partridgeberry, sheep laurel, redberry wintergreen, woolgrass, and Virginia Bugleweed. (How many of these are still there? Scavenger hunt, anyone?) To see the amazing list of Sandy Island species look for the UNH report on the shelf in Sandwall Lodge.

We know we can keep costs down by conserving water, electricity and fuel just as many of us doing in our homes and communities. We are also working on quality of life issues. We will be starting a new campaign to promote the "Sandy spirit," the sense of caring and responsibility that we hope will lead to less litter, trash and waste and will better protect the facilities such as the courts and expensive equipment from misuse and damage. Watch for more improvements in our food service, camp store, and many other camp areas and activities.

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Grains of Sandy Newsletter articles 2007

Grains of Sandy Newsletter
Sandy Island

Volume 1, Issue 2  2/2007
“Recycling on Sandy Island. . . A Challenging Possibility” by Ellie Goldberg, Week 7

Most of our home communities save money through municipal programs that divert glass, metal and plastic from the trash. For many of us, the recycling programs have been around for so long that separating recyclables is second nature.

I always wondered why there was no recycling at SI. It seems out of sync with the natural beauty we enjoy and the ecological values I live by at home. So last year I started asking about the possibility of recycling with a few other campers and with new staffer Jim Sullivan who has worked on community recycling projects in his "real life."

In September I proposed that the Sandy Island Camper Committee set up an "environmental issues subcommittee" to conduct an audit of SI's trash system and to survey campers' and staff's attitudes and suggestions about starting to recycle at SI.

Obviously, Sandy Island presents unique challenges to recycling. An audit would ask: how much trash does SI produce? How much does it cost (time and money) to dump it? How much of the trash is recyclable? How much might be saved by re-engineering the waste system at Sandy? Is it possible to reduce waste and trash?

What we know. . . . .Jim Sullivan reported that cardboard is SI's heaviest recyclable material. It is currently burned so it is not part of the trash that is hauled off island. SI's other recyclable materials that now go into the trash include plastics, tin, aluminum and glass -- mostly food containers. SI waste/trash is combined with North Woods and Pleasant Valley's trash and Casella Waste Systems, Inc. hauls it to a Wolfeboro site. They do not provide pickup of any recyclables but it is in their future plans.

There aren't any other companies that offer pickup and hauling of recyclables in that area. There are recycling drop-off centers in Wolfeboro and Meredith, where the city trash drop-off centers are located. However both of these locations would be a 30-minute haul from either North Woods or Harilla.

Stay tuned for additional news when a trash audit and a camper/staff survey are developed. If you have comments or suggestions for the environmental issues committee, please send them to Ellie Goldberg, at

Protecting the Sense of Wonder at Sandy Island
By Ellie Goldberg, Week 7

For many of us, Sandy Island provides a week-long sustained immersion in nature that we don't get anywhere else. Sandy Island has a magical quality that creates deep sensory memories that nourish us and our children all year long.

That "Sandy Sensation" reminds me of what author Rachel Carson wrote about as "a sense of wonder." She wrote, "Not only does nature sustain us physically, it can also engender in us, if we allow it, a... sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life, as an unfailing antidote against .. alienation from the sources of our strength.

Rachel Carson (1907 – 1964) was a scientist and celebrated nature writer. She wrote several books including The Sea Around Us, Under the Sea Wind, and The Edge of the Sea but she is best known for her 1962 book, Silent Spring. It was a call to action that created such a sense of urgency to protect the fragile ecosystem from toxic chemicals that it started the "environmental movement. Carson's life was dedicated to helping people understand the web of life, the intimate connection between health and the quality of the environment.

Now, as I look forward to another summer at Sandy (and with evidence of climate change growing by the day) I am thinking about the fragile ecology of Sandy and the larger environment Sandy is part of. At the last camper committee meeting, Anna Young was talking about the special joy of sharing Sandy Island with parents and children, and mentioned the new book by Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder.

Louv describes how the broken bond between children growing up today and the natural world causes extensive personal and cultural losses. Like Rachel Carson, Louv's believes that "Healing the broken bond between our young and nature is in our self interest…because our mental, physical, and spiritual health depends on it. The health of the Earth is at stake."

Ever since participating in discussions about the overpopulation of deer several years ago, I have been interested in learning more about the ecology of Sandy and wondered how I could help preserve it. Since writing about recycling in the last Grains of Sandy, several people have told me or Jim Sullivan that they also are interested in being on an "environmental issues" committee. Our first task will be to draft a survey to help identify and prioritize issues and educational needs and to develop recommendations to assist the camp administration in targeting efforts.

I invite anyone who has an interest in ecology, recycling, environmental health and safety to contact me. Ellie Goldberg, Week 7, (617) 965-9637,

Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life.” Rachel Carson

Our Beautiful Isle of Sandy: by Ellie Goldberg (Week 7) with thanks to Beth Howell (Week 2) and Jim Sullivan (Staff)

Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long aslife lasts. (Rachel Carson)

Sandy Island is a fragile ecosystem. The Sandy Island Camper Committee has been discussing how we can preserve what we treasure most about Sandy Island. Sandy Island does not consume a lot of material resources compared to most other vacation lands. However, we need to protect water quality and reduce erosion. And we can lower or slow the increasing cost of fuel and improve our "ecological footprint" by planning to conserve electricity and to reduce waste.

An Inspiring Example

Beth Howell (Week 2), describes how a resort on the island of St. Johns in the U.S. Virgin Islands is a superb model -- it promotes guest comfort and protects the island's ecosystem at the same time. Some of the ideas that work on St. Johns might not apply to life on Sandy Island, but perhaps the most impressive thing is that they have looked closely at what they use and what they abuse. For some guests it is enlightenment.

On St. Johns there are elevated boardwalks and walkways to protect the vegetation, to prevent soil erosion and to allow the animals to contiue to live in their natural environment. The tent cottages remind me of Sandy, writes Beth. The building construction techniques minimize the removal of vegetation. The walls and roofs are made of a waterproof recycled tarp-like material.

The rainwater catchments on almost every building supply water to the laundry, housekeeping facilities and the bathhouses. They use aerators on faucets and spring action faucets and showers to save water. They have clean and odor-free waterless urinals. Waste water is pumped intoa large aeration tank where nature's own bacteria go to work. They have organic gardens and orchards.

Because they were generating a lot of glass and there is no recycling, they created a program called "Trash to Treasure." There is a glass blowing studio with equipment and staff training. The glass-art makes a profit! Guests make art paper from the pulp of shredded office paper and other fine arts and craft projects such as ceramic pendants and wind chimes. Departing guests leave usable items for newcomers such as shampoo, suntan lotion, groceries, Kleenex, magazines, and paperbacks books about the island. It creates a feeling of personal connectedness with other like-minded individuals and kindred spirits.

Put Your Thinking Caps On. (Here is a starter list from your SI Camper Committee. Throughout the summer your Camper Committee reps will be asking for your suggestions and feedback.)

• To reduce disposables, use and refill personal travel mugs, ceramic mugs, water bottles and other beverage containers.

• Provide sinks outside the dining hall where campers can wash their hands and also wash refillable travel mugs.

• Purchase biodegradable hot and cold cups.

• Purchase from local food producers.

• For staff and camper health, purchase "green" cleaning products without perfumes and toxic ingredients.

• Unplug cell phone, computer and iPod chargers. (Did you know they still draw energy even when not charging?)

• More bat boxes for mosquito control.

• Report to campers and staff how much water and energy we use.

• More programming for children and families about the ecology of Sandy Island.

• Investigate possibilities for recycling.

Education and Communication

In the last two summers, Jim Sullivan introduced the kids at the Little Red School House to the flora and fauna at Sandy Island. The kids were given a short island tour including some easily identifiable trees and plants, the lagoon, and the water tank. This summer, Jim will be develop similar age-appropriate programs for the CAVE and Junior programs focusing on how the island works – from water and kitchen to plants and paths.

Did You Know?

Did you know that a power line runs to the island from Long Island in a conduit on the bottom of the lake? You can see the conduit at the bottom of the lake if you are swimming by North Dock. Sandy Island is also replacing an old water storage tank where the water is kept once it comes up out of the ground before going to the bathrooms for use. New tanks behind the shop will make our water system more efficient.

Jim suggests developing a comprehensive land-use plan including erosion control, forest management, and protection of native vegetation and wildlife. All of the un-vegetated ground around the center of camp could be planted with vegetation or covered with gravel or mulch to prevent the tons of soil going into the lake each year.

New programming will include island tours early in each week to introduce newcomers to the ecology and history of the island and give "old-timers" a chance to reconnect and share favorite stories and memories. Future plans include creating eco-teams -- groups of campers or families joining one or more staff members for brief or extended time periods to work on eco-projects around the island.

In every out-thrust headland, in every curving beach, in every grain of sand there is a story of the earth. (Rachel Louise Carson)