Tag Archives | David Suzuki’s Queen of Green

Earth Day Projects For Schools

Do you have a really cool idea that promotes environmental stewardship within a school but haven’t been able to get approval to implement it? This is usually a good time to pop your head into the principle’s office and ask “what’s happening at our school for Earth Day?” If they look at you momentarily stunned – you are in luck! Your awesome idea stands a good chance at getting passed because school administrators often needs help coming up with Earth Day projects. Here are 3 ideas that can be organized quickly and with little cost.

DIY Bike Racks & Bike Challenge

I will be trying this idea with my own family for Earth Day week. I was hoping to have the school’s support but I might be biking solo with my clan on April 22nd. I can only hope that my children understand the importance of celebrating Earth Day by challenging ourselves to try new things that reduce waste, fuel, or consumerism. Here is where the inspiration for this idea came from – picture credit Punyx Tumblr:

If your school already has bike racks this Earth Day project is already easy. If not, I love the idea of using up-cycled tires to make them and how much easier can it be to build a bike rack? Our school doesn’t have bike racks so I thought this project of building them teaches the importance of up-cycling materials already available. The other half of this project is to post a challenge sheet in each classroom and kids can record the number of miles or Kms that they walk or bike ride to school during Earth week (April 22-26). At the end of the week, classes or Grades can tally their totals for the number of carbon emissions or greenhouse gas emissions saved by the act of walking or biking instead of kids being driven to school. There are conversion calculators on the web that can transcribe these numbers. The school could post the total number and I think kids that don’t normally bike or walk to school would feel very proud!

Neighborhood Beautification

Working with your city’s environmental department is a great way to get ideas for helping the community on Earth Day. Does the school’s neighborhood have any invasive species or plants that kids can help the city identify and control? Is there a section of forest or river/stream close-by that can be swept for litter? And if it’s okay with the city – have kids make seed bombs in school and then throw into an approved area of the woods. David Suzuki’s Queen Of Green has a link on how to make DIY seed bombs. What could be better than unleashing children into nature with something to throw? They would love it!

Another way to beautiful your school’s neighborhood is to mark storm drains with fish decals to show they lead to waterways and should be protected from chemicals, paint, etc. We marked the storm drains along our street a few years ago – it was a great activity that my kids are still proud of! Again – getting the kids outside with an activity seems like a win/win. Many storm drain marking kits come with literature to hand out so they children become the educators with this project.

Earth Day Festival

This last project will take more time and energy to plan – but the results would be awesome. The key to keeping children engaged about learning how to help the environment is to let them speak to the issue. Kids know better than anyone little ways to help the environment. Not just for one day – little things that can be incorporated into our daily routine that just might inspire permanent change in our households.  One station of the Earth Day festival could have kids talking about how to pack a litterless lunch and why that is important. Maybe this idea could catch on and become a routine day of the week where students bring littler-ess lunch every Monday. Another station could be a game with a sorting station. There would be one large bin with 10 items that need to be sorted into compost, recycle or garbage. Fun! Another station could have a planting station where each child plants a seed into an empty egg carton cup or empty paper milk carton they’ve brought from home.  Having the children in charge of stations where learning is ‘hands-on’ has a larger impact than adults simply talking about it.

Good luck and be sure to post your experiences with Earth day projects within your school on our Fan Page – keep the inspiration flowing!

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Pesticide Free Lawn!

It’s been a long time since we’ve run a contest but an opportunity to network with David Suzuki’s, Queen of Green Lindsay Coulter and the Canadian Cancer Society has me waving my hands in the air! Do you garden pesticide-free and are proud of it?  Five contest winners will be mailed a lawn sign. Sounds simple, but the ripple effect of  informing people that your lawn and garden is treated without chemicals is super effective with these signs. And the best part is the artwork makes the connection that pesticides are connected to cancer.  There isn’t a more simple way to educate that pesticides are bad for human health …especially for children and pets.

We’ve learned that anything that makes your life easy with quick convenience is usually not healthy for the environment or human health. The examples are too numerous to mention: self cleaning ovens, air deodorizers, dryer sheets, plastic in the kitchen, non-stick pans, convenience foods, & more!  Fast acting weed killer, chemical bug deterrents, lawn fertilizers are simply a convenient option for lawn & garden care (and are not healthy). As we look towards Spring and lawn care, think of greening the outdoors and show off to your neighbors that you’re taking this step!

There are some great all natural lawn treatment tips listed below. Enter for a chance to win a sign by posting a comment on both (extra entry) Facebook fan pages: Mommy Footprint and Queen Of Green. Lindsay will be mailing out 5 signs to contest winners and the contest is open until February 18th for North American residents. Here’s how they look on my front grass:

Need some scary facts to ditch the pesticides this year?  Here are some information from the article by Cathy Vakil MD from the Suzuki Foundation site and her research with 104 studies looking at a number of different cancers & Pesticides:

~ Most of these found a link between pesticide exposure and cancer.

~ Increases in Non-Hodgkin lymphoma were found in farmers, pesticide production workers and golf course superintendents, and one study in children found elevated rates of the cancer when pesticides were used in the home and when parents had occupational exposure.

~ Other studies showed that exposure to pesticides in early childhood, prenatally and even pre-conception may increase risk of leukemia.

~ All the studies on brain and kidney cancer showed increased risk with pesticide exposure even in the children of exposed workers.

~ All eight papers on prostate cancer showed elevated incidence in workers who were exposed to pesticides, with one showing higher rates in exposed workers with a family history of prostate cancer.

How can you adopt some better strategies for maintaining your grass and garden without chemicals? Best tips include:

~ Bring on the vinegar!  We put white vinegar in a spray bottle and the kids have lots of fun squirting the weeds. Not as effective as chemical weed killer, but safe and fun because the kids can help. We also pull out our weeds manually!  Really helps with stress and I love it when the kids help me and we talk about all the bugs under the weeds we’ve pulled. There are ‘grips’ or ‘arms’ that can also be purchased to assist with pulling out stubborn weeds from lawn or garden.

~ Ladybugs are great for gardens!  You can purchase refrigerated ladybugs from garden stores so they are still. Put them in your kid’s hands and when they warm up, they fly into the garden. A really great activity for Earth Day month or preparing your pesticide free garden!

~ Find a suggested deterrent for the bug or pest assaulting your garden. I personally love slugs, but if they are impacting your garden, leave out 1/2 a citrus fruit.  Check out the Fine Gardening site for a natural deterrent for the bug giving you a hard time. . . . awesome information in this article!! Remember to first research bugs that are actually assisting your garden’s health (lady bugs, spiders, etc.) since you don’t want to get rid of them!

~ Slugs and snails can be deterred by using crushed egg shells or coffee grounds!  Great tip for those of you with overflowing compost buckets or bins. Up-cycle this waste into your garden instead!

~ Mix Dr. Bronners liquid with water and spray on diseased plants.  Another great reason for using Dr. Bronners!!  It’s our only cleaner here and now it can be used outdoors too – so awesome!

~ Do your research if purchasing all natural lawn care treatments advertised as ‘organic’ . There is a ton of ‘greenwashing’ out there on this topic and needs to be researched with a garden expert. Take the time to talk to your local garden shop and treat your lawn safely. Toxic exposure on a lawn or garden effects more than just your family – birds and backyard visitors can be also be harmed so help make your neighborhood a safer place to grow and play!

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Father’s Day Collection of Stories

It’s Father’s Day this weekend and because I’m lucky enough to know some very artistic, resourceful, and Eco minded mamas  – I asked for stories to create a group article. My two top father’s day ideas are at the end of this article but thanks to some great ladies, there’s something for all dad’s listed in this post.  I would like to thank Lindsay, Fiona, Tracy, Annemarie, & Rebecca for being guest contributors for this special article.

First up is Lindsay, David Suzuki’s Queen of Green. She answers your questions about everyday green living with tips and recipes to make your life a little easier on the environment. It’s all about green living made easy. Lindsay has incredible DIY recipes and is an amazing resource.  I love this DIY after shave recipe…just in time for Father’s Day, this Men’s Herbal After Shave only takes 10 minutes to make and it will last about 2 months.

Ingredients:

3/4 cup distilled or sparkling mineral water
1/4 cup witch hazel (make sure it’s pure, without parabens)
2 Tablespoons vegetable glycerin
1 Tablespoon aloe juice or gel

Optional essential oils:

4 drops rosemary
3 drops clove
2 drops bergamot

Add to a bottle and mellow for 2 days. Apply after shaving.

*Note: always try a test patch and omit essential oils if you or someone in your home is sensitive to scents

 

Our next contributor is Fiona, the owner of Pip ‘n’ Milly Creations. She continues to nurture her love of handmade and specializes in creating beautifully practical, one of a kind handbags, incorporating core product values: Handmade. Well-made. Uniquely you.

After Suzanne asked about the best Father’s Day gift I had been a part of, I spent a fair bit of time pondering. I have to admit that my thoughts kept returning to a gift I had made for my father when I was a child, rather than to something amazing I had done with my own children for their dad. Perhaps it is because they have always made gifts at school and preschool that I have not had to think much about it! Whatever the case, the gift which sprang to mind was a simple embroidered felt bookmark I made when I was 7 or 8. Handmade gifts were a part of my Mum’s upbringing, but not Dad’s, so he never had quite the appreciation for handmade that we might have liked. Or so we thought. Sadly, my beloved Dad passed away 5 years ago at the age of 59. When we were able to come to terms with sorting his belongings, Mum found the bookmark in his drawer. I treasure it greatly for the memory it holds and the reminder not to judge a book by its cover.

 

Next up is Tracy, the Ops Manager at Mighty Nest that is a store devoted to helping families find safe, healthy, non-toxic products for their home and family.

Since my daughter is 10 months old this is our first Fathers Day!  We’ll actually be spending the day at airports/on airplanes on our way to vacation with his family so I don’t have any plans but I am working on a special gift – my husband loves reading to our daughter so I’m making a book just for the two of them.  It will contain pictures of them doing various activities together such as eating, sleeping, making funny faces, etc. and each page will have a caption as if it were written by my daughter – I love when my Daddy reads to me.  It makes me laugh when Daddy makes funny faces.  I don’t like green beans, just like my daddy!  Hopefully it’ll be a big hit…and hopefully I’ll finish it in time!

Next is Annemarie – the amazing mama behind yoyomama.ca, an e-newsletter for mums that aims to make their lives less yoyo-like!

I know that all mums secretly (or not so secretly) want to sleep in and have time to themselves on Mother’s Day, which goes against the grain of what the day is meant to be. But I recently read a survey where I found Dad’s also want the same time. The sleeping in I knew, the time alone, not so much! So this Father’s Day I’m going to take the girls out in the morning – if I can pry them away from the idea of making breakfast in bed for their Dad (they’re five and seven so you can imagine what breakfast in bed looks like, though they excel at presentation) – and stay out so he wakes up at home all alone and has some time to luxuriate in silence before we return bearing gifts.

My last guest post is from Rebecca who is just an absolute pleasure to know. Rebecca is the mom of two, a blogger, foodie and social media lover.

Here’s one gift idea that I did the first Father’s Day after my son was born, and again the first after my daughter: For $1.50 at Michael’s I bought an unfinished wooden frame and painted it.  I then took the children’s feet (they were still babies), painted them and stamped them on the frames.  Then I put a picture of the baby inside the frame.  Daddy now has the footprints for each of the kids and a special token from each of his first Father’s Days with them.

And me!  I’ve written about it in the past, so there ideas are not originals, but I love having them in my back pocket for ‘Father Day’ emergency gifts. They are right up most dad’s alley & very affordable!

Pick dad’s favorite sports team and purchase a new T-shirt (preferable with a white background). Have your children put hand or foot prints on the back of the t-shirt with their name and age (with fabric paint). I’ve done this gift for the last two world cup soccer tournaments and it’s been a really cool way to document the growth of my family over a 4 year period and just how much they’ve grown. And – Dad gets a great t-shirt that he’s proud to wear with his team on the front and his even more beloved team on the back.

A favorite gift that both my father-in-law, my dad, and my husband have all loved receiving in the past are Shutterfly photo books. This company has the easiest and most attractive design layouts on the market and you don’t have to be a ‘techie’ to figure it out. You simply select a design background, upload pictures, then give the photos captions that dad will enjoy. You may be thinking its too late to order and receive a photo book by Father’s Day. Well you are correct.  BUT – you can still make the book, order it, and send dad a link to the album where he can view all the wonderful pictures and captions and enjoy online for Sunday. He’ll be so excited to receive the photo book later in the month to enjoy for many years on his coffee table.

Thank you to all the guests that took the time to share their Father’s Day memories, ideas, and even a recipe! I hope you enjoy your Father’s Day this weekend and remember to relax and just enjoy the moments.

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