Saturday, January 22, 2011

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Today is the first-ever National Swap Day. Wish I had heard about this earlier; perhaps we could have set up a swap event here is Wichita Falls. Anyway, the intent is to recycle stuff you no longer want by swapping it for something else--the good ol' barter system.

I have lots of stuff I want to get rid of. Most of us do. We can have a garage sale, sell big items in the paper, give the things to charity or throw them away. Or we can trade them. The goal is to keep usable things out of the landfill, reduce the amount of resources we use to make new things, and keep more money in our own pocket. Sounds like a win-win for most except the consumerist economy.

Swapping with our neighbors would be the best alternative, but you can always try So consider reducing your impact on the environment by recycling your unwanted items for things you can use.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Sustainability for Everyone?

I came across an article today that sums up some of the concerns I have been having lately. When we talk sustainability, we're talking about a life style that allows us to live in such a way that we don't "use up" vital resources that others need to live on, now and in the future. But it does seem that many of the sustainable actions that get all the fanfare are high end and create the impression that they are the exclusive recourse of the well-to-do instead of the common person.

For now, organic is more expensive. Many of the devices that save energy, water and money have a high front-end cost. True, many things we can do to have a more sustainable lifestyle are not out of reach to many, but they are not what are in many of the articles about sustainability talk about. So some food for thought today.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Two Great River Bend Programs Saturday

River Bend Nature Center has two great programs coming up on Saturday.

The Science Saturday program continues with a program on freshwater fish. Science Saturday programs are targeted to the 5 - 12 year old age group, although anyone can attend. The program begins at 1:00 PM and ends at 2:00. Admission is $3 per participant--accompanying adults for children under 12 (required) are free. There is an art program following at 2:30 PM for those who are interested.

If you are interested in native plants, Paul Dowlearn of Wichita Valley Nursery will be doing a program, "Native Plants in the Conservatory," from 10 AM - noon. Admission is $3 per person; members and children under 2 are free.

Monday, January 17, 2011


Just like many other living things today, pollinators are having a rough time. However, since we rely on pollinators for our food supply, their struggle should be of special concern. I have a membership in the Xerces Society, which is concerned with the conservation of invertebrates and their habitat. The organization publishes a fascinating little magazine called Wings.

The Xerces Society has been a champion of pollinators for years. They have several publications for sale and for free at their website. Their newest publication, Attracting Native Pollinators, is available for presale now on their website. I bought my copy and can't wait for it to get here.

Whether you purchase the book or not, look over some of the other downloads and fact sheets and consider improving your yard habitat to support these important invertebrates.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Like to Eat/Grow Herbs?

The North Texas Unit of the Herb Society of the US is holding an educational session on February 26. Contact me at if you're interested in going. I am thinking about it.

Living Natural First

I enjoy listening to the Living Natural First radio program and enjoy many of the articles in their free monthly magazine. However, I usually don't listen to the radio program. I just don't get good reception of WBAP at my house. Paul and Nila Dowlearn from Wichita Valley Nursery will be the guests on this Sunday's program.

Today I found out that you can listen to the program on line and if you miss the program, they have the programs archived on the websites. As I write this, I am listening to a program on herbs.

You can also read copies of the magazine there, although I did find many of the links are broken. Hopefully someone will get that fixed.

You do have to sign up as a member of the radio program to access everything, but that is easy.

Check it out.

Interested in Wind Energy for Your Home?

I met an interesting person at my Associated Business Partners meeting on Thursday. Steve Pelsue joined the group while I was out the last few weeks. Steve owns several companies, but the one I want to bring to your attention today is North Texas Wind.

Many people are interested in the possibilities of wind energy for their homes and businesses, but a windmill just isn't feasible in town. I know of a couple of companies locally providing options--this is the newest. Don't forget federal tax incentives are available to help overcome the financial barrier to wind devices and you should be able to earn back your investment in a few years.

If you're evaluating options, give Steve a call a 940-642-5708.

I am glad to see more companies involved in sustainable products and services in our community. Remember, if you learn about any businesses providing similar items, be sure to let me know at

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Rolling Plains Texas Master Naturalists Spring Training Comin Soon!

Like the outdoors? Want to learn more about the plants, animals and ecosystems of our local area? Want to help improve habitat and help others learn more about our natural environment?

The Texas Master Naturalists do all of these things.

The Rolling Plains Texas Master Naturalists will be having their spring training class coming up beginning in late March through early May. Whether you want to become a certified Texas Master Naturalist or just take the class to learn more about the outdoors, consider signing up.

Final plans are being made and more information will be available soon, but plan now to find out more and think about signing up. Mark Howell, with Texas Parks and Wildlife, will be taking applications. Usually the final schedule and applications are available just before the Home and Garden Show at the end of February.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Save the Date: Free-a-Bird Volksmarch and Festival

Wild Bird Rescue will be having a sanctioned volksmarch and festival to raise funds for the organization on March 26, 8:00 AM - 6:00 PM at their location at 4611 Lake Shore Dr, Wichita Falls. For more information, see the Volksmarch registration tab on their website or call 940-691-0828.

This is a great way to get the family outside, get some exercise and to enjoy the nature along the trail through Lake Wichita Park and across the dam to the spillway.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


At the Rolling Plains Texas Master Naturalists meeting tonight, Terry McKee gave a short program on plastics and plastics recycling that was very informative. I am going to share a few of the highlights here--if anyone notices a mistake, please post a correction!

A few of the major points from the talk:
  • Plastics are made from petroleum, natural gas and in some cases, renewable plants.
  • Plastics are highly prone to contamination with their contents, making plastics relatively difficult. Plastics cannot be recycled into the same plastic, but only to a lower grade of products--frequently the plastic lumber. Incineration of plastic releases a variety of toxic gases.
  • The number on the bottom of the plastic container indicates the type of plastic. Some are more easily recycled than others and have different uses and dangers.
  • All plastics have bad chemicals that can leach into food and drink contents, especially if the plastic container is reused or heated. Once you have used the plastic container, dispose of it unless it is designed for reuse.

I really work at using as little plastic as possible, but I do end up with plastic drink bottles that I have reused multiple times because I just hate to throw them away after one use. But Terry lectured me (again) during the talk, so I suppose I am going to have to be more careful in the future.

And remember the post on Green resolutions? Another reason NOT to use styrofoam to go containers is that the chemicals in the plastic is known to leach into food, especially when the food is hot or oily. Remember, To-Go Ware (or similar).

So look for products that use as little plastic packaging as possible. Do not reuse plastic containers if not made to be reused. Do not heat food in plastic or put hot food into plastic containers unless the packaging is specifically designed for that purpose.

Thanks, Terry, for an informative program.

Recycle Your Live Christmas Tree

If you had a live Christmas tree this year, please take it to the Texas Parks and Wildlife (TPWD) Inland Fisheries office by Thursday. Their office is located at 409 Chester Avenue off Jacksboro Hwy. Trees must not be flocked and can have no tinsel. The office doesn't have to be open--you can see where to drop them off in the parking lot.

Inland Fisheries uses these trees to improve fish habitat in local lakes. Trees have been placed in Lake Arrowhead already and TPWD folks and the Rolling Plains Texas Master Naturalists will be placing the remaining trees in Lake Wichita on Friday morning.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Feral Cat Report

I have never been a proponent of allowing cats to roam outside. Just as we keep our dogs either in a fenced yard or on a leash, cats should be protected from injury and disease by their owners. Since it is hard to keep a cat in the yard (although I do know a couple of people who have installed special fencing for this purpose), I keep my cats in the house all the time.

There are a number of feral cat colonies in Wichita Falls and generally the attitude is to leave them be. Recently, the city has moved to licensing feral cat colonies, which involved insuring the cats are captured, spayed/neutered, and given shots. Although this is a humane way to gradually reduce the colony, providing enough cats can be caught and sterilized, there are still a lot of environmental consequences to groups of feral cats, not to mention most of these cats are diseased and don't get enough to eat. For those who feed feral cats, get a pet cat and keep it in instead of encouraging the survival/increase of the feral cat population.

Recently, the University of Nebraska released a report on the impact of feral cats--it's not a pretty picture. Although portions of the report discuss Nebraska laws and regulations, most of the report is applicable to other areas as well. The portion of the report concerning control of feral cats will certainly be disturbing to many of my pet-loving friends, just as euthanasia of unwanted pets is offensive. All I can say is that we need to change the attitude of our society toward pets and animals overall.

I think cats are the perfect pet, but responsible pet ownership is key.