An easy task for kids to help with Global Warming

These handy tips are from One Million Women:

https://www.1millionwomen.com.au/

1. Kitchen sponges

When plastic sponges begin to fall apart, little bits of them go down the drain. I use cellulose sponges. When they break down, I compost them.

2. Homemade dishcloths

knit these out of natural fibers a couple of years ago so their vivid colours have faded but they still work well. Of course, you can just buy dishcloths but I do enjoy making stuff. Knit dishcloths make a great project for children or adults learning to knit. The texture of the checkerboard pattern scrubs more effectively than a smooth stockinette pattern. If enough people want the pattern for this, I can write a future post on it.

3. Loofah sponges

My daughter bought one of these a couple of years ago and it worked like magic at scrubbing dishes. I would love to grow my own loofah but I have such a shady yard and loofah requires full sun. Find instructions on growing your own here.

4. Natural bristle brushes

If you have reduced plastic in your kitchen already, then you may have developed a glass jar addiction similar to mine. Because I have no dishwasher, I use natural bristle bottle brushes to clean my bottles and narrow-neck jars.

5. Rags

My mother—who, at 83, grew up without paper towels—wonders how I live without them. Let me preface the following rant with the admission that my research into paper towel manufacture comes from the saw mill and paper mill passages of Richard Scarry’s What Do People Do All Day? However, I think I can safely claim that just some of the steps in the life-cycle of a paper towel include:

  • Chop down trees
  • Transport logs to the saw mill
  • Harvest scrap lumber from logs cut into rough boards
  • Transport scrap lumber to the paper mill
  • Run scrap lumber through the chipper
  • Add a bunch of water and chemicals to the wood chips to make wood pulp
  • Run the pulp across a bunch of screens to form paper towels
  • Bundle the long sheets into rolls of paper towels
  • Shrink wrap the rolls of paper towels in plastic
  • Transport the paper towels to the warehouse
  • Transport the paper towels to the store
  • Drive to the store to buy paper towels
  • Unwrap the plastic and throw it out or into the recycling bin because you’re in denial that that kind of flimsy plastic can actually be recycled
  • Use the paper towel once
  • Toss the soiled paper towel into the garbage
  • Argue with your partner or kids about who should take out the garbage
  • Lug your garbage to the curb because you lost
  • Repeat until the last tree falls

Rather than wipe up messes with paper towels, I use my lifetime supply of cotton rags I cut out of my kids’ old t-shirts. Yes some nasty manufacturing processes went into the production of said t-shirts but I will use these rags for years.

Read more: 12 ways to recycle your t-shirts

6. Dish gloves

I have given up on using dish gloves because I find they always spring leaks too soon. And I’m actually rather proud of my somewhat rough hands—I have worked hard to get them. If you want to protect your hands, we have tried this brand of plastic-free, 100 percent latex gloves lined with cotton.

Opt for more natural cleaners

7. Vinegar or vodka diluted with water

My daughter likes to combine one part vodka to one part water to clean counters, tables and appliances. I also use diluted homemade scrap vinegar to clean. Use a one-to-one ratio for that also, depending on what you need to clean.

8. Baking soda

I use baking soda to wash pots and pans and to scour my sink. It cuts through grease much better than dish soap and rinses off more easily. You can also use it in combination with vinegar to creating an effective paste cleaner.

Read more: How to use bicarb soda for just about anything around the house

9. Homemade dish soap

My kids dislike my homemade dish soap. Accustomed to the super soapy dyed and scented commercial stuff—I didn’t go plastic-free until they were 10 and 16—they claim my homemade stuff doesn’t suds up. As evidence that my homemade soap does indeed create some lather, I submit the photo below. You can find the recipe for homemade dish soap here.

10. Bulk dish soap

Sometimes, however, you must compromise with your loved ones. Yes, when you buy dish soap in bulk, you do contribute to the plastic problem as the giant bulk container you drew your dish soap from will eventually hit landfill. But by buying bulk dish soap rather than all those small plastic bottles of the stuff, you do reduce your plastic footprint greatly.

Read more: Why you should make the switch to castile soap

11. Homemade dishwasher detergent

I don’t have a dishwasher, so I cannot vouch for the efficacy of these recipes but they look good. This one contains controversial boraxThis one does not.

12. Lemon and salt for copper pots

Copper shines beautifully, cooks wonderfully but tarnishes quickly. To clean my copper pot, I sprinkle the outside with salt and then rub it with half a lemon. It removes tarnish almost instantaneously. Rinse the copper very well after cleaning to avoid corrosion.

Look for alternatives before buying consumer products packaged in–or made of—plastic

13. Window cleaner

Use a rag to clean your windows with vinegar and water and dry with crumpled newspaper. Works better than Windex and you won’t inhale nasty chemicals while you clean.

Read more: DIY glass cleaner with natural ingredients

14. Garbage disposal freshener

You can shell out your hard-earned cash for plastic-wrapped garbage disposal cleaning pods filled with God-knows-what or you can simply toss a couple of lemon quarters in the garbage disposal and run it.

Read more: How to make cleaning spray from citrus peels

15. Air freshener

Like many soft plastics, most commercial air fresheners contain phthalates, “hazardous chemicals known to cause hormonal abnormalities, birth defects, and reproductive problems.” The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) found that 86 percent of the common commercial air fresheners it tested contain phthalates. I find that a slow cooker filled with water and a few tablespoons of baking soda works well to freshen the air. A few drops of essential oil in a spray bottle filled with water also does the trick. You can burn incense too. Or open a window…

Read more: How to make natural air freshener

16. Garbage bags

Certain people I live with—and do not wish to mortify—demand a trash can in the bathroom. I can control my teen and adult child only so much (okay, very little), as I mention in the post “7 Tactics to Counter Zero-Waste Sabotage in Your Home.” But rather than lining the bathroom trash can with a plastic bag, I line it with the tissue paper wrapping from our toilet paper rolls. Newspaper also works. If you compost, you can pretty easily keep your kitchen garbage dry and thus eliminate the need for a plastic trash bag.

Read more: Do biodegradable rubbish bags work?

Bonus tip: Don’t be so picky about cleanliness

I’m not advocating for filth here. However, our war on bacteria has contributed to the mass extinction that our gut microbiota now face. “So what?” you may say, “Germs must die.” Well, it turns out that your gut plays a huge roll in your health, your weight, even your mood. You can find out why in The Good Gut(Read my review of the book here.)

Many household cleaners like bleach kill not only bad bacteria but good bacteria as well. As a result, our guts come into contact with fewer good microbes. The authors of The Good Gut, pioneers into research on the microbiome, advise us to clean our homes with less toxic ingredients, such as vinegar, castile soap and lemon juice.

Find out what essentials you need to create a zero-waste shopping kit!

Read this next: How to get rid of mould the natural way

Anne Marie Bonneau writes the blog The Zero-Waste Chef. She runs her kitchen following three simple rules: no packaging; nothing processed; no waste. Anne Marie lives in Northern California, where she teaches fermentation workshops, speaks on zero-waste and plastic-free living and hosts webinars on these topics. You can follow her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at @ZeroWasteChef.

Explaining Global Warming to Little Kids

Here is some basic information that might help when children ask what global warming is and what to do to help.

Weather vs. Climate

Weather includes lots of things that should be familiar – temperature, rain, snow, wind speeds, or wind direction. Climate refers to the average weather conditions in a certain place over many years. For example, the climate in Minnesota is cold and snowy in the winter, and the climate in Hawaii is warm and humid all year long. The climate in one area, like the Midwest or Hawaii, is called a regional climate. The average climate around the world is called global climate.

The Earth is wrapped in a blanket of air called the ‘atmosphere’, which is made up of several layers of gases, such as carbon dioxide. The sun is much hotter than the Earth and it gives off rays of heat (radiation) that travel through the atmosphere and reach the Earth. The rays of the sun warm the Earth, and heat from the Earth then travels back into the atmosphere. The gases in the atmosphere stop some of the heat from escaping into space. These gases are called greenhouse gases and the natural process between the sun, the atmosphere and the Earth is called the ‘Greenhouse Effect’, because it works the same way as a greenhouse. The windows of a greenhouse play the same role as the gases in the atmosphere, keeping some of the heat inside the greenhouse.

The Natural Greenhouse Effect

The atmosphere has a number of gases, often in tiny amounts, which trap the heat given out by the Earth. To make sure that the Earth’s temperature remains constant, the balance of these gases in the atmosphere must not be upset.

The Enhanced Greenhouse Effect

Some of the activities of humans also produce greenhouse gases. These gases keep increasing in the atmosphere. The balance of the greenhouse gases changes and this has effects on the whole of the planet.

Burning fossil fuels – coal, oil and natural gas – releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Cutting down and burning trees also produces a lot of carbon dioxide. Cows flatulence -ask your parent what that means -produce methane which is linked to global warming.

Because there are more and more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, more heat is trapped which makes the Earth warmer. This is known as GLOBAL WARMING.

A lot of scientists agree that humans activities are making the natural greenhouse effect stronger. If we carry on polluting the atmosphere with greenhouse gases, it will have very dangerous effects on the Earth.

The Effects

With more heat trapped on Earth, the planet will become warmer, which means the weather all over Earth will change. For example, summers will get hotter, and winters too. This may seem a good idea, but the conditions we are living in are perfect for life, and a large rise in temperature could be terrible for us and for any other living thing on Earth.

All over the world, these weather changes will affect the kind of crop that can be grown and even the nutrients in that crop. Plants, animals and even people may find it difficult to survive in different conditions.
Sea Levels

Higher temperatures will make the water of the seas and oceans expand. Ice melting in the Antarctic and Greenland will flow into the sea.

Higher sea levels will threaten the low-lying coastal areas of the world, such as the Netherlands and Bangladesh, and closer to home, New York City, Florida and parts of California. Throughout the world, millions of people and areas of land will be at danger from flooding.

Farming

The changes in the weather will affect the types of crops grown in different parts of the world. Some crops, such as wheat and rice grow better in higher temperatures, but other plants, such as corn and sugarcane do not. Changes in the amount of rainfall will also affect how many plants grow.

The effect of a change in the weather on plant growth may lead to some countries not having enough food. Brazil, parts of Africa, Southeast Asia and China will be affected the most and many people could suffer from hunger.

Water

Everywhere in the world, there is a big demand for water and in many regions, such as the Sahara in Africa; there is not enough water for the people. Changes in the weather will bring more rain in some countries, but others will have less rain.

In Danger!

Plants & Animals

It has taken million of years for life to become used to the conditions on Earth. As weather and temperature changes, the homes of plants and animals will be affected all over the world. For example, polar bears and seals will have to find new land for hunting and living, if the ice in the Arctic melts.

What can you do?

Reduce, reuse, recycle, repair: Remember your four R’s!

Reducethe most important. If you don’t buy so much stuff in the first place, then you don’t need to reuse or recycle it.

Reuse whatever you can (like plastic supermarket bags). If you can’t reuse something,

Recycle it! means that something is used again by converting it into something else. Broken class can be made into new glass!

Repair it! Do you know how to sew on a new button?- as just one example.

If you can’t do any of those things, the waste you generate ends up in huge landfills. Much of what you find in these stinking dumps is plastic waste.

Make your own climate… in your home or your room!

Turn off things that use electricity when nobody’s using them

Leaving lights, heating, air conditioning, computers, TVs and other electronics on when you don’t need them wastes a lot of energy.

If it’s warm in one room and cold in another, close the door. The door helps keep heat in.

Leaving things on standby (like TVs, computers and stuff) also uses a surprising amount of energy. Newer models mostly use much less standby power but if you’re away for a few days, it still makes sense to turn stuff off.

Make your own climate… around you!

When it’s hot, dress cool

When it’s cold, dress warm

Every little thing helps! You can make a difference.

Life on a Farm

Life on a Farm is part of DirectionThree: how our Earth’s health affects our health and vice versa.

Kids love this Life on a Farm lesson. If we teach this in the morning, we might make a veggie scramble with farm fresh eggs. If this is part of a farm tour that’s even better; purchase some goods from the farm and have a no recipe- recipe when you return to class.

Life on a Farm: Then and Now

In the 1930’s, a family farm raised several kinds of animals, selling some and butchering a few to feed their family. Other animals were a source of income and food. Cows provided milk and meat, while chickens provided eggs and meat.

Horses and mules were used to plow, plant and harvest the crops. Tractors were beginning to replace horses, but even by 1940 only 23 percent of the nation’s farmers had tractors. As more farmers traded their horses for tractors, they planted their rows of corn and other crops closer together. Instead of rows that were wide enough for a horse to walk through (42 inches), the rows were 30 inches apart. Production increased.

In 1900, almost all farms – 98 percent – had chickens, 82 percent grew corn for grain, 80 percent had at least one milk cow, and pigs. Most of the farms were diversified, growing multiple crops and raising various animals.

By 1992, only 4 percent of farms reported having chickens, 8 percent had milk cows, 10 percent had pigs and only 25 percent were growing corn.

Grasshoppers were picked by hand in the fall. Farmers used manure from farm animals, gypsum, ground animal bones and crop residue to fertilize their fields.

Today, more than 98 percent of the U.S. farmland planted in corn is chemically fertilized.

Pesticide residues from industrial agriculture enter our bodies through food, water, and air, and they raise risks for certain cancers as well as reproductive and endocrine system disorders

1 billion pounds of pesticides are used per year in the U.S.

35 percent of food is contaminated with pesticides

5 billion pounds of pesticides are used per year worldwide

Federal agricultural programs launched during the 1930s changed how and what farmers planted by paying them to plant certain crops or paying them not to produce a crop at all and allow the land to rest or lie fallow. Farmers who signed up for federal programs agreed to limit the number of acres planted with corn and wheat which depleted the soil, and increased the number of acres with legumes and grasses which helped renew the soil.

Farmers began rotating their crops on a regular basis in the 1930s, but the practice lost popularity as farms got larger and specialized equipment became more expensive and needed to be kept in use. Farmers now concentrate on growing just one crop such as corn, soybeans, or wheat.

In the 1940’s, America entered World War II. More and more farm workers left for the cities or serve in the military, and a tractor became the only way to get things done on the farm. The beginning of the war coincided with the end of the 1930s drought, but farmers remembered the dry years and irrigation systems were built.

There was greater demand for farm products; American farmers were feeding the world. The war effort produced new technologies that revolutionized agriculture and effected urban and rural life. New technology created a dramatic increase in productivity as farmers could do much more work in fewer hours.

  • Post-WWII fertilizer production has increased yields, but also nitrogen and phosphorous pollution.
  • High resource use (soil, water, energy, etc.)
  • Environmental consequences and changes include land and water degradation, pollution by fertilizers and pesticides and soil loss.
  • Artificially inexpensive fuel and water
  • Agricultural subsidies (the farm bill)
  • USDA has dueling roles:  To promote U.S. agricultural products and to offer nutrition education.
  • Threatened biodiversity

One of the continuing themes of American agriculture in the 20th century was a decline in the number of farms, farmers and rural residents coupled with an increase in farm size and specialization.

In the 1950’s to the 1970’s the number of farm declined by half before leveling off. More farms were consolidated or sold during this period than in any other period in our history. The number of people on farms dropped from over 20 million in 1950 to less than 10 million in 1970. The average size of farms went from around 205 acres in 1950 to almost 400 acres in 1969.

  • ·      In 1900, 41 percent of workforce employed in agriculture
  • ·      In 1930, 21.5 percent of workforce employed in agriculture;
    Agricultural GDP as a share of total GDP, 7.7 percent
  • ·      In 1945, 16 percent of the total labor force employed in agriculture;
    Agricultural GDP as a share of total GDP, 6.8 percent
  • In 1970, 4 percent of employed labor force worked in agricultureSource: Compiled by Economic Research Service, USDA. Share of workforce employed in agriculture, for 1900-1970, Historical Statistics of the United States; for 2000, calculated using data from Census of Population; agricultural GDP as part of total GDP, calculated using data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Land in farms peaked in 1950 at 1.2 billion acres. Today, land in farms has dropped to around 0.95 billion acres. Most of the lost farmland was converted to suburban and urban sprawl. However, land that is devoted to actually raising crops has remained relatively constant. In other words, as some farmland is taken out of production, farmers convert other land from pasture or lands once considered marginal for crops into cropland by installing irrigation systems, and applying fertilizers and pesticides.