great day – Earth Day 2017 !

thegreenrock-ers Amanda Russell and Perla Hernandez thegreenrock.ca's booth on Earth Day

thegreenrock-ers Amanda Russell and Perla Hernandez at the Earth Day Fair

Saturday afternoon rain didn’t stop crowds of boisterous families from making it to the Earth Day Fair at the Suncor Fluvarium on April 22!  Over 250 people attended the event! Just about all of them stopped at thegreenrock.ca’s booth to learn about ways to take action, take care of the planet, and how to live sustainably.

Each year, 1 billion people in more than 195 countries celebrate  Earth Day worldwide. The key purpose is to get people together, to celebrate mother nature, and think about ways in which they can take action.

In line with this message, thegreenrock.ca was very pleased and excited to share our signature projects for this year:

  • #playoutdoors ~ Less screen time and more time outdoors! In collaboration with the Junior Forest Wardens-NL, #playoutdoors raises awareness about nature deficit disorder and challenges families to get outdoors, make new friends and learn new skills.
  • ReGeneration: The Plastic Bag Project (coming up!) ~ An intergenerational awareness and action program that brings seniors and students together to share strengths, and transfer skills toward a common purpose of recycling single-use plastic bags through crafting durable tote bags. This project is supported by The Co-operators IMPACT! Fund 2017.
  • Guide to the Good ~ A social enterprise that makes it easier for people to choose local for their purchasing and lifestyle choices. Local businesses bring economic, ethical and social benefits to our lives and our communities. Guide to the Good is currently being piloted in the Northeast Avalon, but the goal is for there to be a guide to the good in communities everywhere!

Visitors were asked to participate in the “how do you fit in?” campaign and to think about ways in which they can help protect the environment through their daily actions.

At the end of the day we had some local giveaways from businesses featured on the Guide to the Good. The draw was live-streamed via Facebook

Facebook Live of the guide to the good draw

  • Prize #1 Local Basket!
    Jumping Bean‘s low CO2 emission roasting coffee; hypoallergenic, artisan soaps and body products made locally from St. John’s Soap Works; and local hand-knitted hat by Casey’s Crafts.
  • Prize #2 Firewood and Coffee! 
    Bundles of local sustainable and licensed firewood from Firewood Factory; 2 gift-cards from  Jumping Bean .

Two winners were randomly selected out of 104 individual tickets. Congrats Olivia and Joan!

 

 

cropped-thegreenrock-1.pngthegreenrock.ca is a not-for–profit company that informs and inspires people in Newfoundland and Labrador on ways to address the challenges facing our planet, our communities, and our lives.  like us and share!

facebook: Facebook.com/thegreenrockca         twitter: @thegreenrockca

#playoutdoors – less screen time, more outdoor time

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

spending time in nature has positive physical and mental health benefits for both adults and children

in the fall of 2016, thegreenrock.ca in collaboration with the  Junior Forest Wardens NL launched a  #playoutdoors awareness campaign to get people outdoors and start new Junior Forest Warden NL Clubs.  Junior Forest Wardens, a family-based outdoor adventure group, has been active in NL since the 1940s.  numerous families have reaped the benefits of outdoor together time over the years, but numbers have been declining since the 1980s.

nature deficit disorder: kids are spending less time outdoors

kids these days are spending more time on screens than outdoors and that’s causing problems to their health. there’s extensive research about Nature Deficit Disorder. conversely, spending time in nature for adults, and especially for children brings the mental and physical health benefits. children experience positive social, psychological, and spiritual impacts on their personal and cognitive development.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

JFW helps families and friends find time to hang out in the woods

as a side effect of modern, busy and sedentary lifestyles in recent years our exposure to nature has diminished. within a generation, Canada has transitioned from a rural to an urban nation, with 80% of Canadians now living in cities. as a result of this transition, it is estimated that Canadians today spend on average 90% of their time indoors, which has lead to a variety of chronic health issues as a result of sedentary lifestyles

aside from the mental and physical health benefits, getting kids in nature can also have positive impacts on our environment and our communities. a study by the University of British Columbia, suggests that providing positive childhood experiences in nature, can help to develop care and awareness of the environment as adults.

2013-09-28 11.22.43

children who play outside are more likely to protect nature as adults

#playoutdoors campaign

the Junior Forest Wardens NL is dedicated to bringing families with school-aged children together to enjoy and learn about the natural environment. together thegreenrock.ca and JFW launched a successful campaign that delivered 10 community outreach events, reached out to 17 community organizations which engaged over 50 families in the St. John’s metro area and led to the start of two new JFW Clubs:  the Wild Wanderers and the Rollin’ Capelin.

up next
after all the success of the #playoutdoors thegreenrock.ca is working with JFW and other community partners to look into ways to expand the project this year. stay tuned!

update! #playoutdoors won a 2017 Pinnacle Award by the International Association of Business Communicators Newfoundland and Labrador! read all about it here

 

cropped-thegreenrock-1.png

thegreenrock.ca is a not-for–profit company that informs and inspires people in Newfoundland and Labrador on ways to address the challenges facing our planet, our communities, and our lives.  like us and share!

Facebook: Facebook.com/thegreenrockca
twitter: @thegreenrockca

In Other Words – why it is important to plant trees

Basil English,

Basil English, Silviculture supervisor of Newfoundland’s Forestry and Agrifoods Agency

People often say that planting trees is a good deed for the environment, but when you try to add it up, you realize the value of a living tree is incalculable to our planet and the species on it.  So to get to the root of the matter, we interviewed the Tree Guy aka Basil English, Silviculture supervisor of Newfoundland’s Forestry and Agrifoods Agency.

Is planting trees good for the environment?

Yes with out a doubt! 

Does it help address climate change?

So there are a few ways in which planting trees help address climate change: some of the direct-effective benefits of plantings trees are that they absorb carbon and release oxygen.  We breathe what they create.

Trees also help mitigate climate change by keeping urban temperatures cooler areas in the summer by providing shade to buildings and homes during summer. This reduces the need for the use of air conditioners (though not so much here in Newfoundland!). In winter trees block wind and reduce wind speeds keeping houses and buildings warmer, which also helps reduce energy usage

Does planting trees here in Newfoundland make a difference in other parts of the world?

Climate cycles have no borders, but it’s difficult to see direct impacts. BUT any measure taken in any single country will have benefits everywhere. By planting trees, we increase the carbon we sequester and we reduce energy consumption.

Does planting a tree in your own backyard make a difference?

Large-scale tree planting projects have larger impacts on the environment, but individuals planting trees can have a bunch of benefits by helping people act in a way that is very real, physical and connects people with their environment. Too often people feel helpless when it comes to global environmental challenges. This is a way people can look at the tree growing as something tangible. 

In urban settings, trees provide habitat for birds and larger animals, and improve aesthetics (and property values). They also make people feel good – there are many studies showing that people’s mental health can be improved by nature, which helps them feel more content and with a better sense of wellbeing.

Depending on where you live, trees can also help reduce noise pollution from cars, buses, and industry.  

What are some of the environmental benefits of planting trees?

On the larger scale, trees and forests are part of the earth’s ecosystem. Trees help improve water quality by filtering water pollutants. In addition, they slow down the movement of water which reduces the risk of flooding. Trees also can sequester pollutants from the air, water and soil.  

When is the best time to plant trees in Newfoundland and Labrador?

It depends on your ability to take care of the tree. Through our Department’s reforestation program we plant trees on an industrial scale – millions of trees – and those trees are usually on their own so we usually plant from spring through summer so that the trees have time to acclimatize for the winter. It is really about being careful and making sure the roots are handled carefully and the tree is well watered. So if you are planting in your backyard you can probably plant from May (or when it begins to thaw) to September/October. 

So there you have it! Planting trees is a good deed for the environment, and for yourself, and it doesn’t matter if you plant 1, 2, 3 or even 100 trees – it’s all good! So grab a shovel and get your hands dirty!

thegreenrock.ca is proud to partner with Junior Forest Wardens NL for the Annual Tree Sale.   In Other Words is a project of thegreenrock.ca – Guide to the Good. You know when people start talking about the importance of taking care of the environment, and you’re interested, but it’s hard to pay attention when they talk about the microns, the quarks and parts per million? In Other Words makes scientific information understandable and practical.   If you like it, share it!

cropped-thegreenrock-1.pngthegreenrock.ca is a not-for–profit company that informs and inspires people in Newfoundland and Labrador on ways to address the challenges facing our planet, our communities, and our lives.  like and share!

facebook thegreenrock.ca, google+ thegreenrock.ca

 

I spy a dandelion! citizen scientists Plantwatch

waiting to be!The sun was shining there for a while, and the grass is green, mostly, in the greater St. John’s metro area. Can the dandelion be far behind?  Keep an eye out!  Your observations from your favorite field, trail, patch by your workplace or even your own backyard can help track climate change.  Works well for classrooms and groups too.  And it will give you one more good reason to get out.

PlantWatch is part of the national NatureWatch program – a series of volunteer monitoring programs that help identify ecological changes.  Local people, no matter where local is all across Canada, can play.   This is an opportunity to help scientists discover how, and why, our natural environment is changing.  It will bring the lofty and intimidating phrase ‘climate change’ down to the soft patch underneath your feet.  

MUN Botanical Garden is the coordination centre for Plantwatch in Newfoundland and Labrador.  There are 18 excellent, common, maybe-in-your-garden plants in NL’s Plantwatch roster including the brave and sweet dandelion, the stalwart rhododendron, the stately lilac and more!  All you have to do is pick a spot with the right plant, register, watch and record the timing of blooming dates (phenology).

The data collected provincially and nationally can be used as indicators of environmental changes in the areas where the plants are growing.  And just being out there will make you feel happy.

NLEE – getting the kids outside

Newfoundland and Labrador Environmental Educators (NLEE)Common sense tells us that the natural environment is good for kids.  More and more research is showing that kids not being outdoors is bad.

With that in mind, the Newfoundland and Labrador Environmental Educators (NLEE) is striving to help educators (teachers, youth group leaders, parents…) get the kids keyed up on the great outdoors, and all the good things that go with it.

thegreenrock.ca joinedNLEE Conference 2014 - in the field representatives from the Brother Brennan Environmental Centre, Botanical Gardens, Salmonier Nature Park, Food Security Network, Junior Forest Wardens NL, parents and others in Traytown for the Annual Conference in April.  ‘Educational Edibles’ brought together a  diverse group who talked, listened, hiked, set fire to milk cartons, learned much about school and community gardens, practiced making a raised bed garden plot and more, all toward sharing great outdoor activities with educators.

NLEE is responding to a need.  Parents in this province join the discussion about how much screen time is too much, debate and sometimes despair about what kids eat, and share stories about acceptance.  Through the year NLEE holds activities and events that share information and make it easy (or easier) for educators to integrate smart, sound, sustainable practices into our children’s lives.

Lots to talk about.   Lots to do.  Join NLEE and get in on the conversation.

In the meantime, check out these 10 tips to grow outdoor-loving kids..

cropped-thegreenrock-1.pngthegreenrock.ca is a non-profit that informs and inspires people in Newfoundland and Labrador on ways to address the challenges facing our planet, our communities, and our lives.  like and share!

facebook thegreenrock.ca, google+ thegreenrock.ca

 

community threads ~ connections for sustainability

http://spikeworld.co.uk/drawing-with-thread-emil-lukas/#.UzrpIVf8uUk

Threads criss, cross and connect as shown by the work of Emil Lukas. for more of his, http://www.emillukas.com

think planet. live local.

thegreenrock.ca developed the Community Threads project to recognize and highlight community organizations’ efforts that support collaboration, wellness and sustainability.

The project is designed to share the news that smart people and great organizations are working toward sustainable living in this province. There are many!  The Community Sector Council (CSC) is committed to strengthening and promoting the essential role that voluntary and nonprofit, community organizations play in building healthy and prosperous communities.

The CSC site reports  “there more than 5,000 nonprofit, community groups in Newfoundland and Labrador. Around 2,400 are formally registered nonprofits and about 1,100 are registered charities. Some are informal groups. The Avalon Peninsula is home to about 40% of the community groups while the remaining 60% are located in other areas the province.” 

Support from the Wellness Coalition Avalon East kickstarted Community Threads.  The data gathering begins with a questionnaire for community groups .  Groups with a focus on sustainability are invited to complete the form below and be included in the Community Threads project, and counted among the many who are working to make a difference! With permission from the respondent, responses will be published on thegreenrock.ca under Projects.  The project was launched the Suncor Fluvarium’s Earth Day Fair on April 13.

Wellness logo-2 inch_300 ppi#E8FA

 

 

 

 

the Nourish film: Cameron Diaz, Jamie Oliver, Michael Pollan, us & food

Nourish

Nourish

Newfoundland is an island in the North Atlantic at the 47th parallel.  Since glaciers scraped much of the island’s fertile soil off onto the Grand Banks a long time ago, the growing was never that easy, but we managed.

These days most of what we eat is not from here.   Why is that?  And how do the pretty pinky-orange pears and other foods come to be here?

Nourish is a conversation about food and sustainability.  The Nourish film looks at our relationship to food, and how it connects to biodiversity, climate change, public health, and social justice.  It won lots of awards at film festivals.

Cameron Diaz, Jamie Oliver, Michael Pollan and many others whose knowledge is great but celebrity is more limited are featured.  Come see it!

Tuesday March 18, 2014,  7 – 9 pm (doors open 6:40)
District School, Strawberry Marsh Road, St. John’s (across from Arts and Culture Centre). Suggested minimum donation: $5

Brought to us by Newfoundland and Labrador Environmental Educators NLEE

47thparalleThe green line shows the island of Newfoundland lining up at the 47th parallel.

clean. not toxic.

 

lemons - good for more than lemonade

lemons – good for more than lemonade

What’s in your cleaning cupboard?  If products you use carry a warning label it’s for a good reason:  it’s harmful.   

It really is scary how we accept using harmful chemicals on every surface and for every purpose.   True story:  I refused to let my kids help with the cleaning because I didn’t want them near the cleaners.

That got me thinking, and I found lots of information about cleaning products, health, and the planet at Women’s Voices for the Earth and The David Suzuki Foundation.   

Also found lots of recipes, and learned that with a few ingredients, a Jones Soda bottle and a (well-rinsed) sprayer, the kids can clean all they like.  

Many cleaning staples are available at supermarkets.  Other basics, and eco-friendly product lines like Nellie’s All Natural, are available on the ground in St. John’s at The Natural Health Shop on Stavanger Drive.   

Cleaning Basics – 

Baking soda: Just plain sodium bicarbonate, it works wonders for scrubbing and deodorizing!

Vinegar: Plain white vinegar. A natural disinfectant. It’s cheap and you can buy it in large quantities.

Washing soda: Sodium carbonate, a.k.a baking soda’s cousin. Often used as a water softener for laundering or a stain remover.

Borax: Sodium borate. Good for laundering and cleaning.

Castile soap: Soap made from olive oil and sodium hydroxide.

Lemon peel:  Juice the lemon for wicked lemonade.

All Purpose Cleaner:  Lemon peels + vinegar + time.   Cover lemon peels with vinegar and let stay for at least two weeks.  Stir every now and then.  The longer you leave it the stronger the formula will be. Once ready, strain and decant. A few drops of essential oils cut the vinegar scent (e.g. peppermint oil, lemongrass oil). Typical sprayers fit on Jones Soda bottles.

Eartheasy.com carries a very comprehensive list recipes for just about every cleaning situation – and a list of ‘over the counter’ products.

~

if you like this, please like and share – it’s encouraging!

thegreenrock.ca ~ think planet.  live local.  is a registered non-profit that provides information and inspiration to answer challenges facing our planet, our communities, and our lives.  like thegreenrock.ca on facebook!

Warm Up the Winter – heat sustainably!

Cold winter weather leads to the familiar home heating dilemma of how to keep the house cozy in freezing temperatures – and how to do it in a way that won’t break the bank, the planet, or in a way that won’t keep you shivering the night away either!  Here are a few tips and ideas for alternative sources of heat and ways to reduce the environmental footprint of the heating system you have.

Tim Murphy and a Masonry Heater, photo courtesy of Home & Cabin magazine

Tim Murphy and a Masonry Heater, courtesy of Home & Cabin magazine

If you’re in the market for a new way to heat your home, this one with light your fire:  Masonry Heater: Masonry Heaters are similar to wood stoves in that heat is generated by burning wood. A masonry heater can provide even heat all day from just a single fire. Masonry materials take a while to heat up, but once they are warm, they will radiate heat for much longer than a metal stove.   It consists of a small firebox surrounded by a masonry mass made from some type of masonry (brick, tile, stone, stucco etc.). The channels of masonry absorb the heat and radiate it out. The fire burns hotly and quickly, which reduces unburned emissions. Masonry heaters are a sustainable choice for the home, as they use wood, a renewable resource, and they burn it efficiently. As an added bonus, you can incorporate a pizza or bread oven into your masonry heater and enjoy some wood-fired foods!   Stone Masonry and Heater Builders is a local enterprise specialzing in same.  They are the ones who built the system at the Bonavista Social Club in Upper Amherst Cove.  Mason Tim Murphy has one in his home and his family was warm and cozy through #NLDark!

Space Heaters: If you have a central home heating system that is not adjustable from room to room, a couple of space heaters may be a good investment. This way you can simply heat one room at a time, instead of the whole house.

DIY Space Heater: Well, say you don’t want to invest in a space heater, or in a power outage… Here is a very alternative and economical solution. Instead, (if you don’t have these three items already) invest in tea lights, a couple of ceramic flowerpots and a loaf pan, and try this DIY Space Heater!

Insulation: If your home isn’t well insulated, it certainly won’t be too warm. Adding insulation and other energy-saving efforts might be a worthy investment!  Check out NL Power

Seal up the drafts: “Find the draft” is a fun game that can be played using a candle or a stick of incense, and following where the flame flickers or smoke drifts to on a blustery day. Check all the windows, doors and any other place a draft might be messing with your warmth. Once found, seal up your drafts with caulking, foam sealant or weather stripping. You can also insulate your windows with plastic, using a handy dandy window insulator kit which can be purchased at your local hardware store (e.g. Canadian Tire).

Home Heating System Maintenance: Home heating systems need to be cleaned out and maintained (usually on a yearly basis). It’s a good idea to have your system looked into to make sure there aren’t any kinks messing with its efficiency.

Blankets: If you’re trying to stay warm on the cheap, try hanging some heavy blankets in doorways and over windows, this will help keep the heat in. This is especially good for the kitchen to trap the heat from the oven.

Rugs: Putting down a few rugs on those cold winter floors can help to insulate and keep your feet nice and cozy!

Check out Take Charge NL a Newfoundland Power program designed to help save energy – and money!.

And lastly, try wearing more sweaters! Sweaters are both warm and fashionable, and you can wrap yourself in a blanket for good measure. Sometimes it’s nice to try this “old-fashioned” method, it’s certainly sustainable, and National Sweater Day is coming up February 6!

Green Resolutions

It’s the new year, a time to contemplate life and make some resolutions for the months ahead. This year, why not make a change that will have a positive effect on the environment as well? There are many many possibilities for green resolutions, big and small, any new sustainable habit is a step on a path towards leading a more sustainable lifestyle. Even if you’re already doing lots, there’s likely still room for another green resolution.

Here are some ideas:

Keep grocery bags in the car, pocket or purse

20140109_113632

Turn off electronics – and give yourself time to switch off too.

2014-01-09 11.30.12

Eat more local/wild meats/sustainable seafood

Start sprouting

Buy local when you can!

Use a big mason jar, or a reusable water bottle

2014-01-09 11.33.49

Use your own re-usable coffee mug

20140109_113456

Put on a sweater (turn the heat down a degree or two)

Buy recycled toilet paper

Grow veggies/herbs 

IMG_1858

Avoid pesticide use in garden/lawnAvoid HHW use/properly dispose of HHW
Drive less, walk/bike more

IMG_0419

Buy more organic

Use eco-cleaning products

Start/join a bulk buying club

Be mindful of packaging when making purchases

Start recycling/recycle more

Conserve water

Turn off the lights when you leave a room

20140109_113108

Unplug appliances

Donate items to charity (divert from the landfill)

Buy used clothing

Plant a tree

There are so many options for a green resolution this New Year. You can choose one, or many, something big or small. Taking it one step at a time can help to build towards a goal of a more sustainable lifestyle.