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

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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