Archive | February, 2009

Join The Great Backyard Bird Count ~ Eco Fun!

Teachers, parents, here is an awesome eco-activity that is sweeping through North American over 4 days in February (13th-16th) and its called The Great Backyard Bird Count.  If you haven’t tried bird watching or counting the number of same bird species in one spot, you are missing out.  Kids get so excited with this activity ~ it’s like a rock star enters the backyard when you see a group of birds you can name quickly…kids love it!  Anyone can participate during these 4 days because it’s a fun eco activity that involves bird watching, counting, and entering data online ~ perfect for kids (and adults) of all ages.  Why would you participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count 2009?  It’s fun, free, anyone can participate and it teaches your children to help birds. This event is now an annual event and creates a snapshot of which birds are where, across North America.  This count is important and actually helps scientists learn about bird populations, by knowing where the birds are.  For more reasons this count is important, click here.

How can you participate?

During one, two, three or all four days of this event, plan to count birds for a minimum of 15 minutes.  You submit a different checklist (checklist is online) if counting in different areas (backyard, beach, park, etc.) and a different checklist for different days.  You count the greatest number of same species birds that you see together at one time.  Record these numbers on your checklist (helpful to print a hard copy to use before entering the results online), then enter your numbers online via the website, starting on Feb 13th.  It will be active to enter your results until March 1, 2009.

Things you might need?

The best purchase I’ve made lately was visiting my local wildlife bird store and purchasing a book with bird species that populate the area where I live (West Coast).  My kids love looking through it and recording the different species we find then recording their discoveries in a bird journal.  See To Get Parents and Children Outside Enjoying Nature for more information.

Other helpful tools located on the Great Backyard Bird Count site are:

Printable Tally Sheet. Input your postal code and the GBBC site will bring up a list of all the species you might encounter during your bird counting. If you click on the name of the bird, you’ll see a picture of the species and tons of information….an awesome tool!

The entry form.  Best to print this off beforehand, then enter the information online later.

Tips for attracting birds ~ from choosing bird food to selecting a bird feeder.

Top 10 Birds from the 2008 Backyard Bird Count

Games for Kids. My 5 year old completed the bald eagle puzzle and loved it!

Stats for those into statistics. Wouldn’t it be cool to see British Columbia make the top 10 for checklists submitted in North America? Let’s go for it!

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Part II ~ The Disappearing Male Documentary

Part II of my summary on the Canadian documentary The Disappearing Male has been particularly interesting because of the focus on two chemicals that we’ve talked about a lot over the last year at Mommy Footprint, BPA & Phthalates. For those that think BPA is only a concern for people with babies (ie baby bottles) ~ this will help you see this isn’t the case. Also, that the chemical Phthalate is just as scary and needs equal attention that BPA gets from the media with educating parents on hidden toxins. The following is a summary from the documentary The Disappearing Male, click here to view Part 1…I’ve used many quotes from the clip, so the source for this article is from CBC Documentaries. Here we go…it’s a long one, and not meant to freak parents out, but to help us gain understanding that the plastic and disposable world we live in needs to be evaluated by our government and changes needs to come swiftly.

The Disappearing Male: Part II <US readers can click here to access the documentary on YouTube>

Children live in state of constant exposure from being surrounded by more than 1000 synthetic chemicals in your home. Chemicals are found in bedding, clothing, toys, furniture, our air, and water. Pollution has become a background chemistry in our bodies and it’s accumulating quickly. A common class of petrol chemicals is Phthalates and is widely used in everything from soft toys, to IV tubing, to food packaging, to 3/4 of all personal care products. Dr. Swan, who is interviewed and quoted throughout this documentary, first started studying Phthalates when she realized, according to the Center of Disease Control, that almost every person in the US, contains this chemical in their body. Also that the chemical seemed more prevalent in woman of reproductive age, along with new data showing they caused significant differences in male offspring. She refers to term called the ‘Phthalates Syndrome’ and these changes in boy babies include testes not descending properly, smaller genitals, and interruptions in sexual development. Along with the well documented fact that Phthalates leech from soft toys, this chemical is used in almost all traditional cosmetics because they cling to the skin and hold fragrance.

There is one Phthalate in particular that is used in PVC plastic causing extreme alarm because of where it is used and who it is used on. Continue Reading →

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Green Gift Ideas For Under $10 This Valentine’s Day

I thought I’d write something light in between the serious posts about Phthalates and BPA chemicals (I don’t want depressed readers)  <smile>.  What better way than to highlight fun and unique products for gift ideas for the little lovies in your life this Valentines Day.  I’m keeping the suggestions under the $10 range because let’s face it, nobody seems to have excess money in their wallets this year.  With these picks, you don’t have to break the bank and you’ll be giving your children sustainable and special gifts that will last past the first 3 minutes of your child opening it.  Chocolate is a favorite for kids to receive, but I’ve noticed my kids act like wild animals after eating chocolate lately…if I could by-pass three hours of all four running around my house in a frenzy, I will look at other options ~ and I have found them!  Here are my picks for Valentines Day and I’m not the only website talking about them.  

By far the best product for little girls, sourced by Green Planet Parties, is Piggy Paint!  I’ve written about this biodegradable nail polish previously as I love the concept of an all-natural nail polish and nail polish remover.  Green Planet Parties carries the pink polish called ‘forever fancy’ and this would be the ultimate gift for any little girl this Valentines Day. And moms will love the fact it’s a safe alternative to traditional polish that is actually very toxic.  Check out other sites singing the praise for this product!

Girls are so easy to buy for at Valentines ~ love, hugs, smiles, kisses ~ that’s what little girls are made of.  These words and little girls are just a natural fit with the Valentines theme of love.  Incorporate these words into hair accessories and rings.  Want a lovely gift for your special little girl for under $5?  Easy with the incredible pony tail holders, hair bands, and rings brought in especially for Valentines this year at Green Planet Parties.  These fabric covered buttons make the jewelry unique and safe from the lead-related statistics we see regarding the high levels of this compound in girl’s dress-up jewelry.  Check out this picture of a hair band and be inspired:

 

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