Saturday, December 31, 2011
The City of Wichita Falls Sanitation Department has opened locations at Lucy Park (at the back of the park near the river) and Kiwanis Park (next to the park maintenance building near the entrance to the park) for easy disposal of natural Christmas trees. The free drop-off areas are open twenty-four hours a day.
Only real trees that have been completely stripped of the tree stand, all decorations and lights will be accepted. No artificial trees will be accepted. The trees will be recycled as mulch and used around trees, shrubs and flower beds in each park.
City residents can also use the Landfill or Transfer Station for FREE tree disposal anytime during normal operating hours. Residents are encouraged to take advantage of these disposal methods, as there is no curbside pickup of Christmas trees. Trees left out by the curb will not be picked up by sanitation crews.
If you choose, you may also drop off trees at the Inland Fisheries office at 409 Chester Avenue (off Old Jacksboro Hwy). Those trees are used to improve fish habitat at Lake Arrowhead State Park.
This points out the need to continue to conserve water. Plant drought resistant plants and water only when needed. For more water conservation tips, see the City of Wichita Falls website.
If you would like to learn more about the future climate in our area and the likelihood of continuing drought, make time to attend the League of Women Voters meeting on Wednesday, January 4, at Luby's cafeteria. Bryan Rupp, meteorologist, is the featured speaker, presenting "Future Climate of the Rolling Plains." The meeting begins at noon and is open to the public. Just go through the line for your meal and be seated by the noon start. The meeting ends at 1:00 PM.
Monday, December 26, 2011
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
State parks are in serious financial trouble. There are some in the state who would like nothing better than to sell off parkland to private persons and entities to raise money for state expenditures. Although the parks are public land held in trust for the public, the legislature doesn't consider them a priority. Therefore, private citizens must come to the rescue. Texas Parks and Wildlife has issued a plea to raise $4.6 million through public donations to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation. I made a small donation today.
If you have the resources, please consider a contribution to this foundation or to your local Friends group. Many parks have a 501(c)(3) Friends group to raise money for park improvements and to provide volunteer labor for projects the park doesn't have the manpower to do. Our local Lake Arrowhead State Park started a Friends group this past year. It is too new to be listed on the TPWD site yet, but should be soon as the Memorandum was recently signed. The group meets the first Thursday of each month at 7PM. If you don't have a lot of spare money, consider donating time.
Other ways to help are to visit the park and pay the entry fee ($3 per person at Lake Arrowhead) or purchase an annual park pass for admission to all of the state parks for a year.
Other organizations are getting involved to help increase attendance at the parks. For example, the Texas Ornithological Society is sponsoring a series of bird walks in state parks over the next several months to draw attention to the birdwatching opportunities and to bring in additional visitors. I will be leading monthly bird walks at Lake Arrowhead State Park beginning in March. I'll post reminders in my sister blog, A Charm of Finches.
If we want parks to be here for future generations, we are going to have to make a personal commitment to do what we can to support the parks we have.
Monday, November 21, 2011
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Although few are happy with the state of recycling in Wichita Falls, you can recycle more than you think you can. Anything organic can go into your city composting bin if you don't compost yourself: cardboard, paper, magazines, newspapers, garbage, yard waste, etc. I put out our compost bin almost every week there is a pick up. I put out regular trash perhaps once a month.
Of course, we drop off glass behind United Market Street and take aluminum cans to a recycler for a little extra money.
However, preventing waste to start with is important. I do look for less packaging. I choose glass containers over plastic, since we don't have a good plastics recycling option in our community and plastics contain a lot of crap I just don't want to deal with. Consider cooking more from scratch--you would be amazed how much trash you will cut out and how much less salt, sugar and other chemicals (such as BPA) you'll put into your body. Change your newspaper subscription to the e-edition. No more black fingers, and it saves a few dollars a month too.
You can repurpose your waste by trying to do something else with it before discarding. I am not very crafty this way, but my husband found some free plastic barrels that were someone else's trash and made me some compost bins and a rainwater harvesting system--things we wanted and for a lot less money. He also tears apart old/broken wooden items and creates new things such as planters, etc. from the pieces.
Post good items to Craig's list for giveaway or for a low price. Give things to Goodwill or the Salvation Army if they are in good shape instead of throwing them away. Shop for used items--I buy most of my books used and also pick up some nice clothes and household items from thrift stores and resale shops. Anything we can get one more use out of reduces the amount of things that end up in the landfill.
Take cloth bags to the store instead of having them drop it in a plastic bag. If you have plastic bags, reuse them at least once more. Ban plastic water bottles from your house if there isn't a health reason to avoid your tap or well water (and if you get your water from the City of Wichita Falls, there isn't one.)
Here are some additional resources for you to consider:
Recycling Glass and Paper in Wichita Falls
Saturday, November 12, 2011
So today I put up basil, parsley and kale. I still have one basil plant in a pot in the house, but now I have some in the freezer too.
It feels good to have home grown food in the freezer. I know no one has sprayed anything on it I don't want in my body and since it went from garden to freezer in a matter of minutes, I am sure the plants are full of flavor and vitamins.
There are still a lot of plants out there--we'll see how it goes.
Even if you don't have room for a big garden, consider growing some food in pots, mixed in your flower beds or even on your window sill.
Friday, November 11, 2011
I have to admit, there is much I like about the e-reader, not the least of which is the ability to carry around a lot of books on a little tablet when I travel. Since the books also download to my laptop, I can access them there as well. E-books are not less expensive than books at the store. I thought they would be without the expense of printing and shipping. I can get printed books more cheaply (except for the classics in the Google library and downloads from the local library.)
So my question was: environmentally, which is better? An e-reader or a printed book? Apparently, I am not the only person to wonder. I discovered an article on the Conservation Magazine website that looks at just this issue. Since I have nearly 200 books on my e-reader today, the pendulum has swung to the e-reader side of the environmental balance scale. However, don't look for me to give up my printed books any time soon.
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
I came across this article, "Less Chewing Equals More Eating (And Other Food Industry Secrets)" shared on Facebook today and thought it appropriate to share on this forum.
One more reason to cook from scratch at home (I love to eat out, so it's not as if I am sinless, but I at least eat more sit-down food than fast food.) I especially like the comment in the article that processed food is "adult baby food." I have noticed (once it was pointed out to me in the article) that I do tend to chew less when eating out (especially at fast food places). I have also noticed (all on my own this time) that I tend to eat a lot more when I am eating at a restaurant than I do when I eat at home. My smaller portions at home are more satisfying, and my food goes further.
I will certainly never get to the point that I don't eat out at all (good news for the local restaurant industry), but this does argue again to eat less processed food. If you eat out a nice roast chicken is probably a better option than chicken strips--my taste buds tell me that.
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
My daughter subscribes to Scholastic Parent & Child magazine. In the November 2011 issue, the Hands On column is about Giving Trees. It is a craft project for children to give trees as gifts. I think this is a great idea. Unfortunately, the article is not posted online. However, since it is mostly decorating a container and putting a small tree in it, I am sure people interested in the idea can improvise successfully.
An interesting reference of the column is the meaning of various trees. I don't know how valid this is or where the meanings came from, but I thought I would share. Not all of the plants listed are actually trees, but nothing says we have to be literal.
This could be a low-cost, meaningful gift for the holidays (yes, it's that time already!)
Friday, October 28, 2011
Friday, October 14, 2011
Monday, October 10, 2011
If you weren't at the Living Well With Less Water symposium on October 1, you missed a great learning experience. It was a full day of interesting speakers and vendors. The central theme of the conference was that our local area is becoming hotter and drier. The amount of rainfall has been dropping and the temperature has been climbing for years. Our "normal" annual rainfall, currently at 28 inches will be more in the neighborhood of 22 inches by 2040 and the hot summer of this past year will be the norm. The severe drought we experienced this year is forecast to continue for at least one more year and perhaps longer.
Given that cheery news, it wasn't surprising that the remainder of the day was spent talking about landscaping in a way that will conserve our water resources. If the Master Gardeners host a similar program in the future, plan to attend. It would be tough to top this year's program though.
Smith's Gardentown will be hosting a short workshop on this issue as well on October 22 at 10 AM. You can RSVP here The seminar is free, but Smith's is asking for an RSVP to have adequate materials and seating.
Lake Arrowhead State Park (LASP) has a lot going on. John Ferguson, the "new" park superintendent (he's been there a couple of years now, but that's still relatively new) has been working hard to add programs and amenities to the park to increase visitation. The Friends of Lake Arrowhead was formed in this past year to help the park do things with a more limited state budget. If you want to keep up with the programs at the park, friend the Texas Parks and Wildlife Lake Arrowhead State Park page on Facebook (there is another Lake Arrowhead State Park page as well, but that one isn't current, so be sure to get the correct one.) The Friends of Lake Arrowhead State Park also have a page. Although you don't have to be a member of the Friends group to like the page, it certainly would be nice if you would consider joining.
One of the projects under development is a large butterfly garden. The Rolling Plains Texas Master Naturalist chapter maintains a small butterfly garden near the main gate in addition to the nature trail. The new butterfly garden will be a much larger project and developed over the next couple of years. I imagine both the Master Naturalist chapter and the Friends of Lake Arrowhead will be involved (there is a lot of overlap between the groups.)
A couple of upcoming events at LASP that should be of interest to readers of this blog include:
October 28: Bring the kids out for a Halloween program at the park, beginning at 6:30 PM. Children will be able to color and wear various animal masks and there will be an after dark listening for night sounds activity. The program is free, although attendees will need to pay the park admission (why not make a day of it?)
November 5, 9:00 AM - Noon: Mark Klym, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Wildlife Diversity Program, will conduct a free workshop on wildscaping. If you want the CD with resources, it will be available for purchase for $5. Again, entry to the park is required.
December 12 - 15: LASP will be holding a Waterfowl Hunting Education class and mentored hunt. The 3-hour class will be held on December 12 and 13 at 5 PM and the mentored hunt for Canada geese will be on December 14 and 15. The park will be closed to the general public during the hunt for safety reasons.
There is a Sierra Club meeting Tuesday evening at 7:15, but I still don't know where. As soon as I hear, I will post the meeting here.
Don't forget the EcoFair meeting Thursday, 5:30 PM at River Bend Nature Center. With the change to the Earth Day time frame, there is much to be done in very little time.
Sunday, October 2, 2011
Saturday, October 1, 2011
For those who were intending to go to the EcoFair planning meeting next Friday, the date has been changed. It will now be October 13, 5:30 PM at River Bend Nature Center. If you would like more information, contact River Bend at 940-767-0843.
The Red River Sierra Club will meet Tuesday, October 11 at 7:15 PM. The location hasn't yet been decided--I'll post here when I know where the meeting will be held. It is normally at a restaurant.
Rosecreek Farms in Sunset is holding a Fall Festival beginning at 3 PM on Saturday, October 15. During the festival, they will host a screening of "Fresh." You can find more information at their website. Some local Sierra Club members will probably attend. You can reach the local Sierra Club at email@example.com.
Hope to see some of you today at the water symposium!
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
- They are too disconnected from nature
- They don't understand the rules the environment operates under
I think the first is obvious. We don't see how small we are in the scheme of things because we have managed to create a barrier between ourselves and nature. With so many lights in the cities, you don't see any but the brightest stars. When you get out in the wide open spaces and look up, you can't help but feel smaller--and I think it's a good think for people to feel less omnipotent.
We don't see the miracle that is life because we're disconnected from it. We've shut ourselves away from birth and death. We've lost contact with the interconnectedness of living things because we see ourselves as the only important life form on earth, and don't realize we depend upon the other life forms and chemical cycles to live. Bugs are to be killed; everything we invent is worth having; and "go forth and multiply" is a right of people and their pets--but not weeds or wildlife.
I love Walt Disney movies, but the fact is, these types of shows distort our view of nature. We think nature works like Bambi. Don't even believe it.
As a consequence of the disconnect between ourselves and nature, we have forgotten the rules the environment operates under.
- The Rule of the Commons. What is good for each individually is not necessarily good for the whole. for everyone to prosper, it may be necessary for the individual to submaximize his/her overall good. Garrett Hardin described the Tragedy of the Commons this way: a rational decision by a person that maximizes their short-term good leads to long term consequences disastrous for the person, others and the environment.
- The Rule of Unintended Consequences. We invent things or change things without understanding the consequences. For example, antibiotics are a good thing generally, but a consequence of overuse has been the development of super bugs--resistance to antibiotics of all types. DDT was heralded as a great invention and for the purpose it was invented, it was for a time. However, there were unforeseen consequences that led us to ban the use of this chemical in the US, although it is still used in other countries.
- The Rule of Environmental Economics. There's no such thing as a free lunch. Resources are finite--a choice to use that resource in one way has to be paid for, even if the payment is made later.
- The Rule of Nature. Nature wins. We think we have control over the environment--we don't. If we need a reminder, look at our drought situation, or the major floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, etc., that have been common occurrences in the recent past.
Somehow our disconnectedness with the environment has led us to believe (unconsciously perhaps) that the rules don't apply to us. Unfortunately, it may take some time before the consequences for our actions come due, but come due they will.
Sunday, September 25, 2011
In order to receive the free compost, you have to participate in the city curbside recycling program (a misnomer in some respects, but that is what the city calls it.) Take a copy of your water bill showing the $3 recycling charge. You can receive one pickup load or one 4 x 8 trailer load. You must have a cover for the load.
It's too bad it is the same day as the Water Symposium; a lot of the same people who will be interested picking up compost will be at the Symposium--like me. But for those who can participate, this is a good deal and a suitable reward for participating in the composting program.
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
The Master Naturalists have done an annual cleanup of the lake for several years. MSU provides a canopy, trash bags and hot dogs/drinks. The Master Naturalists provide the labor. We always have small groups of children from local schools help in the project. This year the turn out was overwhelming--200 community volunteers (mostly children and MSU students) turned out to help. This is significantly more than previous years. Lots of people combined with a low lake level due to the drought added up to a record amount of trash being collected. In less than 2 hours, the volunteers bagged 4000 pounds of trash.
Way to go!
The Rolling Plains Texas Master Naturalists also conduct a cleanup of Plum Lake every quarter. The next cleanup will be on September 24, followed by a cleanup at Lake Arrowhead State Park.
The Red River Group of the Sierra Club decided last night to Adopt a Highway through the Texas Department of Transportation.
More group and more individual participation could make our community a nicer place to live. Could you help Keep Wichita Falls Beautiful?
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
As part of the Speakers and Issues series, the museum will host Walt and Isabel Davis, "Exploring the Edges of Texas." There is no additional information on the museums website, but my understanding is the program will discuss details of an archeological site in east Texas, with natural history information. This program is approved for advanced training credit for the Rolling Plains Texas Master Naturalists.
The program is free and open to the public.
Monday, September 5, 2011
Although not in this picture, I did also add some more butterfly and bird friendly plants to the area around my bird bath. It will probably be overplanted next year, but if so, I'll move some things around. I haven't prepared the other beds in the yard yet.
Saturday, August 27, 2011
It seems if we are truly intent on living a more sustainable lifestyle and reducing the negative impact of toxic chemicals in our lives, then having a garden makes sense.
Monday, August 22, 2011
With the horrific drought we are having this year, any information we can get to conserve water in our gardening and landscaping will be worthwhile. There will be 7 hours of information--Master Gardeners can count 5 toward their training requirements; the conference has been approved for 3 hours of advanced training for Master Naturalists.
If you need a conference brochure or to register, you can contact the County extension office or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will be happy to forward the information to you.
The conference is also looking for sponsors. If you are interested in sponsoring, contact Peg Marquardt at email@example.com.
I hope to see all of you at this important event.
Thursday, August 18, 2011
Sunday, August 14, 2011
Laura sculpts metal. She had some art work on display at Earth Day at River Bend and now has several insect pieces at the Kemp. For photos of some of her work, check out a recent Times Record News article.
Laura recycles junk found along the road or given to her by others into artwork. These particular pieces celebrate some of the underappreciated members of the animal kingdom. Check it out--it's close and it's free.
Thursday, August 11, 2011
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
My friend, Paul Dowlearn of Wichita Valley Nursery, gave me a book to read: Edible Wild Plants, by John Kallas, PhD. This is intended to be one of a series of books on edible wild plants. Lots of great pictures. Detailed information on who to recognize, harvest and prepare about a dozen wild plants (this book focused on greens.) Lots of recipes. One I found fascinating was making meringue from mallow seeds or mallowmallows.
Anyway, certainly worth a look. With the price of produce, harvesting free produce could help the wallet and the diet--where known, Dr. Kallas gave nutritional information for these plants. Many kicked (metaphorical) butt over the nutritional powerhouses of spinach and broccoli.
Sunday, August 7, 2011
If you have items to sell (no clothing please), please price them before dropping them off. For information on days/times to drop off donations, call Wild Bird Rescue at 940-691-0828.
The sale will be from 8 AM - 2 PM on the 12th. In addition to the sale, there will be live music and food. Please donate your unwanted items and come out on the 12th to find low cost items you need. Help yourself and Wild Bird Rescue.
If you cannot attend the event, the organization is in need of cash donations to purchase needed food and supplies. You can mail donations to 4611 Lake Shore Dr, Wichita Falls, TX 76310 or donate at the website.
For more information, follow the link above for the Humane Society--the flyer is posted on their home page.
Monday, August 1, 2011
Sunday, July 24, 2011
There is always something to learn about the environment and our place in it.
There was a full house at Laurie Hall's presentation on snakes last evening at Lake Arrowhead State Park (LASP). It was an interesting program with lots of beautiful photos she and some friends have taken of snakes that live in our area. The massasuago rattlesnake (left) was one of the snakes she talked about in her program.
The next program at LASP is on zebra mussels. It is focused on boaters to help stop the spread of the invasive zebra mussel in Texas. If you're a boater or just someone who is interested in learning more, be sure to attend the educational session on August 6, 9:00 AM at LASP Dining Hall.
Zebra mussel photo courtesty of US Geological Survey.
Also, the Rolling Plains Texas Master Naturalists will award 3 hours of advanced training credit for the Water Symposium on October 1. The Master Gardeners will get 5 hours credit.
I haven't heard any thing about adult education programs at River Bend lately--I'll pass on the information as I get it.
Don't forget the opening of A Walk on the Wild Side at the Museum of North Texas History on August 13. In addition to the exhibit there will be a lot of other vendors and displays at the grand opening. The Rolling Plains Texas Master Naturalists will be helping out.
The details on all of these programs are in previous posts.
Friday, July 22, 2011
Texoma Living Well With Less Water 2011
8:00 am - 4:00 pm
Registration $40 by September 1
Registration $55 between September 2 -16
No registration after September 16
Bryan Rupp, meteorologist: Weather Outlook Now and in the Future
Scott Calhoun, author of gardening books, Strategies for Water-saving Gardens
Michael Parkey, landscape architect, Drought Tolerant Native Plants for North Texas
Kevin Gustavson, OCC/WQ, Water Conservation with Xeriscapes and Rain Gardens
Dotty Woodson, Tarrant County Extension Agent, Irrigation Efficiency
I think we all recognize the importance of conserving water in our gardens and landscapes--this should be an interesting workshop.
If you are interested, you can contact the county extension office or a member of the local Texas Master Gardeners for a registration form or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I hope there is a large turnout for this event.
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
If you do lose trees this year, consider replacing with drought resistant varieties this fall.
Monday, July 18, 2011
There was a great write up in the Times Record News on Sunday. If you missed it, here is the link.
Wendi is also a contact for the grass fed beef coop, Holy Cow Beef. You can contact her at email@example.com for information and an order form.
Congratulations to Wendi and her family and best wishes for success in their business.
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
It will feature the wildlife of our area and emphasize how people who have lived here interacted with and depended upon these animals. During the grand opening on the 13th, also present will be people with jobs that focus on the outdoors, a number of special activities for the family, and vendors of food and hunting/fishing equipment.
The museum is open free to the public, although donations are welcomed and encouraged. Come on out!
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Saturday, July 23, 6:00 PM, Education Bldg: local Texas Master Naturalist Laurie Hall will be giving a program on snakes.
Saturday, August 6. 9:00 AM, Education Bldg: Assistant Fisheries Biologist Robert Mauk will be doing a program on the invasive zebra mussel.
The only good thing I read in the article was that Imprelis apparently not sold "down south" because we don't have the right kind of grass. One good thing about enduring this awful heat I suppose.
Monday, July 11, 2011
I came across a website I think will be of interest to readers. Why not talk to your employer, pastor, etc. about making the empty lawns around most public buildings more ecofriendly? After the intial planting, I'm willing to bet that for most organizations, the maintenance costs would be less than the regular mowing, trimming, watering and fertilizing of the typical lawn, and would have the added benefit of attracting wildlife.
Note the 5 pillars:
- Sustainable gardening
- Soil health
- Water conservation
- Remove invasive plants
- Plant native plants
Friday, July 8, 2011
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
However, I was looking for some tahini to make hummus and ended up at the International Market in the little strip mall on Southwest Parkway and Fairway (Caesar's Pizza is probably the best known of the stores there.) I have been meaning to stop in and finally had a reason. I found my tahini, but also found a lot of spices and other items used in Middle Eastern, Indian and Oriental cooking. It isn't a big store, but check it out. The store doesn't open until 11:00 AM, so plan accordingly. A lot of interesting items and some fresh produce--not a lot, but some. First place I have seen mung beans for a long time.
I used to sprout mung beans, although I prefer alfalfa sprouts. There would be something that would be wonderful for Sunshine to carry--alfalfa seeds for sprouting. Have you seen the price of alfalfa sprouts in the store? They are great on sandwiches and salad. Never made your own sprouts? It's easy. I found a good YouTube video that shows the process. Give it a try!
Thursday, June 16, 2011
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
I think most of us who try to do the right thing for our families and our planet realize that in the current marketplace, our green choices can indeed cost us more than the usual products and services and are willing to pay the price.
However, in a couple of cases, the argument may not hold true entirely. For example: yes, if you purchase the cloth bags, you wll indeed pay more than you would using the plastic bags the store would give you for free. I have found that I have received so many cloth bags as freebies at conferences and seminars, I haven't bought bags in a long time and have plenty. Stores should consider charging customers for using their plastic bags to encourage more shoppers to go green.
Paying to have items recycled is also crazy. Currently, city residents who use the organics recycling bins pay $3/month extra for the privilege of the extra pick up. Since you can divert 60% or more of your household waste into the organics recycling, I personally think the city should charge those who do not use the recycling bin extra for putting more waste into the landfill. However, since those who pay the $3 monthly can get three pick up loads of compost a year, then it is very close to a wash. I paid $30 a pickup load of bulk compost last year. I could get $90 of compost because I recycle, greatly reducing the cost of doing the right thing.
Considering cleaning supplies. There is no doubt that purchasing Seventh Generation or Meyer's products is more expensive than the usual cleaning supplies with ammonia and chlorine in them, but truthfully, most of us could clean almost everything fine with vinegar and baking soda.
So I get the point of the article, but sometimes doing the right thing just has to be done. And is some cases we can do the right thing and still save money.
Thursday, June 9, 2011
Each year the National Wildlife Federation sponsors the Great Backyard Campout. For the past three years, the Rolling Plains Chapter of the Texas Master Naturalists has sponsored a Great Backyard Campout event at Lake Arrowhead State Park. They will be doing this again on Friday, June 24 at Lake Arrowhead State Park. The event begins at 7 PM and lasts until 9:30 PM
There will be music at 7 PM provided by Ron Calloway, who is part of the band, Prairie Moon. The music will be followed by a nature scavenger hunt, s'more making and owl calling at dark. Families are welcome to come out for just the special event or to camp overnight. You can reserve your own camping space if you would like to stay.
There is no charge to participate in the Great Backyard Campout, although you will need to pay the admission to the park. Call Lake Arrowhead State Park for more information at (940) 528-2211.
Were all familiar with the phrase Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. The emphasis has been on recycling. Certainly recycling is an important program and all of us should participate to the maximum extent possible. However, we don't put enough emphasis on reducing the waste we generate and reusing products before they are put into the trash.
Jim Miller of the Rolling Plains Journal blog posted a link on Facebook to treehugger.com showing a video of plastics recycling. The video shows why this is an area where we need to improve. Recycling plastic is indeed important, but just look when you're watching the video notice just how much water people and energy goes into recycling those plastic bottles.
I used to take the plastic bottles that I did have and refill them with tap water so I would not have to throw them away. However, I was told that carcinogens leach out of the bottles when they are reused and sure enough that is the case so you can't reuse any plastic containers that were used for food unless they are specifically identified for that purpose.
If that is the case, our best option for eliminating plastics from the landfill is not to recycle plastic but to reduce to the extent possible the amount of plastic that we use. There are many products in the grocery store that used to come in glass containers that are now only available in plastic because of the weight. However, when we have choices, we should try to choose products that use the least amount of plastic possible. Our purchases are very important in determining what products are made available.
So focus on reducing your waste stream and when you can safely do so, reuse items before they are trashed.
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Those interested in helping to plan the 2012 EcoFair should come to Chili's at 7:15 PM on Wednesday, May 25.
If you would like more information or if you would like to be involved, but cannot make this meeting, you can contact River Bend at 940-767-0843 or email Joanna of the Sierra Club at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Buying local produce means your food is fresher and picked at the peak of ripeness. Local produce also travels much less between farm and table, reducing carbon emissions.
I know where I will be heading many mornings after my early morning walk with my friend, Sara! I hope to see many of you there.
Saturday, May 7, 2011
Email email@example.com for more information.
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
At the meeting tonight, we discussed developing a committee with River Bend to include interested people in the community. Look for an announcement about an organizational meeting in May. I'll post here when I am notified.
If you're interested in encouraging such an event in Wichita Falls, I hope you'll volunteer to be part of the planning committee.
Saturday, April 23, 2011
Photo left: Terry McKee, Rolling Plains Texas Master Naturalists president explains how long various types of trash can persist in the environment.
After the Plum Lake cleanup, I headed out to River Bend Nature Center for their Earth Day celebration. There were plenty of children's activities and the $3 entry included entrance into the conservatory and to the trail.
Earth Day participants help Extension Agent Fred Hall mix compost.
Texas Parks and Wildlife Inland Fisheries biologist Mark Howell talks about our local fish with the public.
Left: The Rolling Plains Texas Master Naturalists explained the rainwater harvesting system they installed at River Bend.
Left: Tad Gose, Lake Arrowhead State Park, shows many specimens and helps visitors learn more about the area wildlife.
Left: Rehabilitator Lila Arnold with Wild Bird Rescue shows a small visitor an eastern screech owl.
I had some budding ornithologists walk the trail at River Bend. We had some decent luck, with house sparrow, house finch, cardinal, common grackle, Carolina chickadee, red-bellied woodpecker, great crested flycatcher, tufted titmouse, blue jay and cedar waxwing were seen during our mid afternoon walk. We saw/heard a few other birds but were unable to make a positive ID.
Friday, April 22, 2011
The Earth as seen from Apollo 17. By NASA.
I can remember the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970. There was lots of energy and high hopes. I am not sure Earth Day has lived up to its potential, and it seems to have become another ho-hum recognition day, but at least once a year there is SOME focus on the earth and the environment.
This year Earth Day got lost in the shuffle of Easter as well as the usual life and work. However, there are some events happening--I've posted about them before. I hope you'll get out and enjoy nature (come walk with the Sierra Club, if nothing else) and reflect on how your individual choices impact the earth and rededicate yourself to make a difference.
In the Plan B documentary I posted yesterday, Lester Brown poo-poo'd the idea of individual changes--he said it's too late for that. But small individual changes do make a difference and more importantly, these reflect a will to take on the bigger challenges required to change the future. If I am not willing to use more energy-efficient light bulbs, to drive less or to eat less meat, how likely is it I am going to pressure my elected officials to fund public transportation or to regulate genetically modified foods? None.
Most people are not "born again" with a sudden insight into a new way of life. So we start where we are and move people as they are ready--and hope we can do that quickly enough.
I hope some of you can make the Earth Day celebration at River Bend tomorrow from 12 - 3. I'll be leading bird walks and would love the chance to meet you.
Thursday, April 21, 2011
The walk begins at 6:30 PM. Although not required, the group is asking for an RSVP, just so they know to look for you. You can RSVP to RedRiverSierra@gmail.com.
I read the book by Lester Brown some time back and it is worth a read. This program will be available through April.
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
$3 will get you in to the event, as well as access to the trails and the conservatory. Lots of fun, educational activities. I will be leading bird walks along the trails at the worst possible time of the day for actually seeing birds, but we'll hopefully still see something interesting.
Hope to see you there!
For more information, contact Joanna at RedRiverSierra@gmail.com.
Friday, April 15, 2011
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Monday, April 11, 2011
Friday, April 8, 2011
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Monday, April 4, 2011
Friday, April 1, 2011
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Monday, March 28, 2011
Friday, March 25, 2011
I was at Wichita Valley Nursery yesterday and saw some olla pots with information on using them as drip irrigation. Olla pots are unglazed terra cotta pots that are buried in the garden and filled with water. The water slowly seeps out of the pot into the surrounding soil, keeping it moist near the roots of the plants. We certainly qualify as arid right now. I didn't ask Paul how much he was selling his pots for, but online they are pretty pricey. If anyone has local sources and prices, please post a comment.
If you happen to be artsy/craftsy (I'm definitely not), then I found a video on making your own olla pots on YouTube. Ignore what seems to be narration that you can barely hear at the beginning--it is a radio in the background. The person doesn't talk at all in the video.
Since we will almost certainly be on watering restrictions soon if we don't get some significant rain soon, now is a good time to look at alternatives for low water use in your yard and garden.
Today's post is a guest blog by Krista Petersen. Krista is an aspiring writer and recent graduate from the University of Central Florida. As a Health and Safety Advocate, she shares a strong passion for the wellness of others in her community and for the environment. Krista uses her writings to spread awareness of such issues to help encourage others to live the healthiest and most eco-friendly lifestyle possible.
With an increased movement for sustainability and going green in Wichita Falls, there are always some new ways to go about helping the environment. One way to make some great sustainable steps is to help cut out toxins in the home, by finding suitable alternatives to some products, thus improving indoor air quality. By finding some of these alternatives, we can cut down the risk of health problems like asthma, nausea, mesothelioma, as well as other types of cancer.
Cleaners and pesticides can be major sources of toxins in the home reducing air quality. Pesticides can be used a ton both inside and outside the house, yet they can be pretty dangerous. A couple ways to go about cutting down on toxins from pesticides is to use them only on the outside of the house, along with that plan, you can start removing your shoes before coming in from outside to prevent from tracking more of these chemicals in. Many of today's common house cleaning supplies, from types of window cleaners to different floor solutions can be loaded with toxins like triclosan and formaldehyde. Thankfully, there are a number of organic options in most stores these days, as well as the option to make your own cleaners as well.
Paint is another common product that can often be high in toxins, thus not good for indoor air quality. When using paint for decorating or maybe even with a project around the house, exposure to Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC's) are a possibility. Most paints are very high in VOC's; luckily there are usually great alternatives available. Most popular hardware stores carry low-VOC paints that are safer and will cut down on the risk of asthma and respiratory problems that can be brought on by repeated exposure to VOC's.
Another way to cut down on a risk of toxins is to have older homes checked for asbestos insulation. Asbestos was a commonly used fiber throughout the 1900's in all sorts of buildings and homes. Workers in many factories with asbestos began to develop mesothelioma, as health officials began to take notice. With mesothelioma life expectancy being particularly low, asbestos was soon blacklisted and removed from many structures. Although not used today, the possibility of asbestos in older buildings and houses around Wichita Falls is a possibility. Using some green insulation alternatives such as cotton fiber or foam spray can also be an efficient, cost effective substitution.
As seen, there are some easy steps that can be taken to improve indoor air quality all around Wichita Falls and everywhere else. By taking some of these steps we can not only improve indoor air quality, but also cut down on potential health risks from toxins around the house.