Category Archives: What You Can Do!

Make Every Day Earth Day

Delaware Nature Society will be celebrating Earth Day rain or shine on Saturday, April 20th from 11am – 3pm at the DuPont Environmental Education Center located at the Russell W. Peterson Urban Wildlife Refuge. This year’s festival will be full of fun – canoeing and kayaking trips down the Christina River…

These Earth Day Festival attendees are loving their canoe trip through the marsh at DEEC. Photo by Jill Constantine.

…guided nature walks in the marsh, spotting ospreys on their nesting platform, catching fish and aquatic insects…

Dip netting is a favorite activity for all ages at Earth Day! Photo by Eric Robertson.

…live music, story telling, face painting…

Face painting, another Earth Day Festival tradition. Photo by Ken Francis.

…craft demonstrations, the chance to meet green living exhibitors, and more! Come celebrate with us!

 

So why in the world do we have Earth Day?

Before the Clean Air and Clean Water Act of 1970 and 1972 respectively, pollution in the United States was largely unregulated. After a massive oil spill off the coast of California, Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson  raised awareness of air and water pollution.

Gross!

As a result of Senator Nelson’s work, on April 22, 1970 over 20 million Americans took to the streets to demonstrate their support for a healthy and sustainable environment. This widespread demonstration was the push that the U.S. government needed to take action. It was the first Earth Day!!  This national celebration led to a number of different changes in U.S. legislation. In December 1970, a new governmental agency, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), was formed to tackle national environmental issues. In the following few years, Congress passed the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act (1973), which were all ground-breaking pieces of legislation that remain influential today. Earth Day joined a lot of different people together as one united front pursuing a healthy and sustainable environment, and this is something we still celebrate today!

 

Have you ever walked barefoot on the beach and made footprints in the sand? It’s pretty neat to see that you can leave an impression in the sand even after you’ve walked away. You also leave an impression on the planet called your ecological footprint, which measures the demand you place on the Earth according to your lifestyle. Earth Day brought awareness to us about how the choices we make have an impact on the environment and we want to live in a way that minimizes that impact. Wonder what your ecological footprint is? Google search “ecological footprint calculator” to take a quiz to find out how many planets it takes  to support your current lifestyle.

The Delaware Nature Society seeks to reduce their impact and wants to encourage you to do the same by “Living Green, Being Green, and Saving Green!” Here are a few ways you can reduce your ecological footprint:

– Bring your own reusable bags to the supermarket. You and your family can even create your own bags. You can buy plain canvas bags and some puffy paint and decorate them any way you’d like!

Anna takes her reusable bags with her when she goes food shopping.

– Unplug electrical devices and power strips when not in use.

– Run your dishwasher and clothes washer/dryer only when you have a full load. Full loads use the same amount of hot water and energy and partial loads.  Use cold water when you can.  It takes a lot of energy to heat that stuff up!

I fill my washer up all the way before I run a load!

– If you are going to be gone from a room for more than 5 seconds, turn off the lights when you leave, and you will help save the planet. This one is so simple, but many of us forget to do it!

(Interested in some more eco-friendly tips and tricks? Check out previous blog posts ‘Water’ You Going to Do? from March and Have Yourself an Environmentally Friendly Season! from this past December.)

 

I’m excited to celebrate Earth Day with others who share my passion for taking care of our planet. What would you like to celebrate? What is something you have done to help the Earth? One thing I’ve done is pledge to not drink bottled water; I carry a Nalgene (or two!) with tap water around with me everywhere I go.

I decorate my Nalgenes with a lot of stickers, it makes them much more fun and colorful!

I want to hear your answers to these questions too, comment below to share your response. I hope you see you at our Earth Day festival on Saturday!

For more information about the Delaware Nature Society Earth Day Festival, call (302) 656-1490 or visit www.delawarenaturesociety.org

“Water” You Going to Do?

Hey kids! Where does water come from? If asked, could you explain where the water from your faucet, hose, shower, etc. comes from? Well you are in luck because we are going to share this amazing secret with you!

Let’s start with the water cycle. Water leaves the ocean, streams, rivers, lakes, etc. when the sun warms the surface of the water. The warmth of the sun causes the water to evaporate and become a gas as water vapor. The water vapor then rises into the atmosphere and forms clouds as it cools and condenses. The clouds can only handle so much condensation, so when the clouds become so full of water vapor that they cannot hold any more, they must release all that water. The water falls as liquid or solid precipitation as rain, ice, snow or other forms. The water will then do one of the following things: fall onto or runs into surface water such as rivers, streams, lakes, ponds, or oceans; infiltrate into groundwater; be absorbed by plants; or evaporate. Plants not only absorb water, but they also release water vapor into the atmosphere through transpiration, the process of water vapor evaporating from the leaves.

Have you ever thought about where YOUR drinking water comes from? We often just turn the faucet and don’t even give it a second thought as the water pours out. All living things need freshwater to survive and that is one of our most important non-renewable resources we have here on this planet. Let’s look at all the water we have in our world and see how much freshwater we have to use as drinking water.

......

This 5 gallon bucket I’m holding represents ALL the water we have here on Earth! All that water is pretty heavy…

Now let’s separate the salt water in the oceans from the freshwater on the Earth.

The water in the large bucket represents all the salt water (97.5%) and the water in the smaller container represents all the freshwater (2.5%) on Earth.

Now that we have separated those two, let’s talk about where we have freshwater on this planet. It is found in surface water like ponds, lakes, rivers and streams, as well as in the atmosphere, underground, and in animals and plants. There is also freshwater that is inaccessible to us because it is frozen in glaciers and ice caps.

The container on the left represents the amount of freshwater locked in glaciers and polar ice (1.74%). The container on the right represents the amount of freshwater that is not frozen.

The freshwater represented in the container on the right in the above picture represents our drinking water source. However, not all of that water is available to us for human consumption. If we separate groundwater and atmospheric water (0.76%) from what is the Earth’s surface, we are only left with a teaspoon (0.72%).

That teaspoon is the only fresh surface water we have?

We can tap into some of the water represented in the container on the left for our drinking water such as the fresh groundwater, but the rest of it is inaccessible. The water in the teaspoon represents the available surface water we have at our disposal to use as drinking water.

I’m shaking my head at the crazy difference between the amount of salt water on our planet and the amount of fresh water we have for drinking water.

Even though there may seem to be a lot of water on Earth, only a little of that is freshwater that can be used for drinking water. It’s really important that we take care of that water! But how? Here are a few things YOU can do to help protect this precious resource:

– Take shorter showers. The average shower uses 7 gallons per minute. Have a competition with your family to see who can take the shortest shower. The winner gets to choose dinner one night that week!

– Don’t let the faucet run continuously when you brush your teeth. Only turn it on when needed to get your toothbrush wet before and to rinse if off afterwards. Or, fill up a cup before you brush your teeth and only use that water. Wonder how much water you use when you let the faucet run continuously? Find out in the quiz at the end of this post!

Anna saves water when she is brushing her teeth because she doesn’t let the faucet run!

– Use a reusable water bottle like a stainless steel or a Nalgene instead of drinking bottled water. Tap water composition is more closely regulated by the government than bottled water and it costs less to drink your tap water. Also, the bottles are made from plastic that contain unhealthy chemicals and have been linked to various health problems.

The water bottle says it all, don’t you think?

– Get involved! Volunteering in your community is a great way to give back to the environment. This past weekend at the Red Clay Valley Clean Up, over 700 volunteers (myself included!) dedicated their Saturday morning to picking up trash along approximately 44 miles of roadways and streams in the Red Clay Creek Watershed. Interested in getting involved? The Christina River Watershed Clean Up is coming up on April 6th from 8am-12pm. Delaware Nature Society sites Cooch-Dayett Mill and the Dupont Environmental Education Center are located in close proximity to the Christina River and will be participating in the clean up. If you’d like more information or are interested in volunteering check out this link: http://www.delawareestuary.org/cleanup. Also, the Young Friends of the Brandywine Conservancy will be hosting the Annual Brandywine River Clean Up later this month on April 20th from 9am-1pm. If you’d like more information or are interested in volunteering to clean up the banks of the Brandywine, please contact Kathy Freney Smith at 610-388-8315 or ksmith@brandywine.org.

 

Now I have a challenge for you: find out where your drinking water comes from! Ask your parents and do some investigating to find out where your water comes from.   In Delaware, many public utility or private companies draw their water from groundwater or surface water. Groundwater is extracted from aquifers, areas underground that hold water.  For example, Artesian Water Company provide Delawareans with groundwater as their drinking water supply. Other companies such as United Water draws drinking water for their customers from the White Clay and Red Clay Creeks. These companies treat the water from the time it is extracted from the creeks to the time that it flows out of your faucet, but it’s important that we take care of the streams and minimize water pollution. You may ask “If the companies treat the water, why should I care about keeping it clean?” Even though the water is treated before it comes out of your faucet, the dirtier the water is the harder it is to clean. It is a lot more work and much more expensive to make the water drinkable if the water is polluted.

We can do something now to save and protect our water resources. Share these tips with your family and friends! Together, we can make a big difference by making small changes in our lives. One of my favorite quotes from Dr. Suess’ The Lorax sums it all up quite nicely: “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

 

FUN FACTS: DID YOU KNOW…?

-You will save money drinking your tap water because it only costs $0.0015 per gallon whereas bottled water costs $1.27 per gallon.

– 1.5 million tons of plastic go into manufacturing plastic water bottles.

– Less than 1% of the Earth’s water is potable.

 

See if you can guess some more fun facts about water, take the quiz below!

Your Score:  

Your Ranking:  

Have Yourself An Environmentally Friendly Season!

Hey kids! It’s that time of year where houses are beautifully lit up and presents eagerly wait to be unwrapped! Anna and I have been busy shopping and wrapping presents for our family and friends, and I’m sure you’ve been busy doing the same for your family! In the excitement of the season, Anna and I have not forgotten that this time of year can be a little tough on the environment. We wanted to share some ways you can be conscious of your impact on the environment and reduce your energy and carbon consumption this holiday season!

1. Recycle your wrapping paper or use newspaper instead! A lot of wrapping paper just gets thrown away after presents are unwrapped. If you use wrapping paper, recycle it! Or use newspaper to wrap your presents and recycle that too. The comic’s section is always very colorful!

I used newspaper to wrap a friend’s present! I like that it looks like a collage!

2. If you celebrate Christmas, your used tree can be put in the yard near your bird feeders so that your feathered friends can use it for cover and safety.  A better alternative is to buy a balled and burlapped tree that you bring into your house and decorate, but plant in your yard after the holidays.   If you don’t have a lot of room in your yard, you can donate the tree to a friend or non-profit who will plant it in a permanent home in the ground.

3. Reuse the decorations from your presents!  Grab a plastic container and stash all the bags, bows, ribbons, etc. from your presents. You can save them and use them again next year, or for birthdays!

4. Everyone loves putting up lights outside their house, but these lights use a lot of energy! Put your lights on timers so your lights are on only when it’s dark outside. They don’t need to be on during the day, they don’t look as pretty when it’s light outside! Also, don’t leave your lights on all night, turn them off when you go to sleep. You could also buy LED lights, they use less energy than the incandescent lights.

Anna is all about the LED lights!

5. Shop local! Instead of paying more for the same or similar items, shop at thrift stores and used book stores for gifts! Support local businesses in your town, you can find lots of unique items!

6. Instead of purchasing material gifts, make a donation to a non-profit organization like the Delaware Nature Society! DNS staff member Brenna donates to the National Wildlife Federation and receives a stuffed animal in return! She loves supporting this organization, and has donated every year for the past 3 years!  Gift memberships are always a good idea.

Brenna loves the stuffed animals she receives from the National Wildlife Federation. She keeps them in her office!

7. And our last tip…regift! If your little brother loves a toy you’ve grown out of, give it to him! Or if your friend always compliments a shirt you often wear, give it to her! Giving something meaningful to a sibling or friend will make the gift all the more special!

 

We hope you found these tips helpful and that you will put some of them into action! Anna and I wish you a fun and environmentally friendly holiday season!