Thursday, January 30, 2014

Health Fair at the Mariner Mall this Saturday - Feb 1

Come to the 

Health & Wellness Fair 

at the Mariner Mall 

on Saturday, Feb 1.  

Environmental Services will have a booth on Greener Cleaning on ways you can clean your home in a way more safe for you, your family and the environment.  The fair will include numerous booths on assessing your health and keeping healthy.  We know there is a link between health of the environment and health of people and our pets.   Feel free to ask us questions at our booth to learn more about how to keep the environment cleaner by properly disposing of household hazardous waste, keeping storm drains clear, and not flushing extra things or even old medicine down the toilet or into a drain.

How healthy is your home?

How healthy is your yard?

How healthy is our community?

Choosing products that are more environmentally-friendly will help with your health, your yard's health, and the health of our community.

We will have some complimentary items - spray bottle with a recipe to make your own non-toxic cleaner and a few other items.

Monday, January 27, 2014

A blog about a bog

Have you ever heard of a bog on a roof? There is one at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. Artist Christine Baeumler wanted to showcase the bog ecosystem in her project "Reconstructing the Landscape: A Tamarack Rooftop Restoration." In addition to tamarack trees, there are 30+ native bog species and a pool of open water . . . on top of a roof!

Check it out one of these days. 
Read about the project here and here.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Local science - be a judge for youth science fair

We love to encourage learning more about our local environment, the processes of nature, and to participate in science. Youth participating in the process of science is fantastic!
There is a need for local community members to be a judge at the upcoming regional science fair at UMD.  Here is the information.

To judge...

Register to judge at the fair at:
Place UMD, Feb 8th, Saturday
Judges Register between 8 and 8:15AM at Griggs Center
Judging takes place Kirby Ballroom 9:00AM to 12:30PM (breakfast and lunch is served)
Awards at 2PM-

Monday, January 20, 2014

Plants for Indoor Air Quality!

We spend 90% of our time indoors. According to the EPA, indoor pollutants may be 2 to 5 times higher than outdoor levels. Many traditional cleaning products, paints, building materials, and office equipment such as printers and markers emit fumes that may have adverse health effects. We previously blogged about "freeing" your home of harmful toxins. Another great way to reduce toxins is by adding plants into your home.

In the late 1980s, NASA conducted a study of how houseplants could improve indoor air quality. Many newer homes are designed for energy efficiency, thus are often tightly sealed. This reduces energy loss, but also traps toxic chemicals in the air. Here is how houseplants can come to the rescue. Many houseplants come from tropical environments with thick canopies and limited light levels. Thus these plants evolved to become very efficient at capturing light and processing gases.

Here are some varieties that are best at filtering:
English ivy
Spider plant
Peace lily
Snake plant (Mother-in-law tongue)

These plants not only produce oxygen and water vapor, but they absorb carbon dioxide, benzene, formaldehyde, and/or trichloroethylene (chemicals commonly found in building materials and cleaning supplies).

On a side note . . . has your home ever been tested for radon? Radon is an odorles, tastelss, invisible gas produced by the decay of naturally occurring uranium in the soil and water. Radon moves from the ground into homes where it is then trapped.  It is the second leading cause of lung caner and the EPA recommend that all homes be tested (radon disclosure required for MN home sellers). Test kits can be found at hardware stores.

Friday, January 17, 2014

In the Community and Keeping in Touch



and this blog are some of the ways we would love to stay in touch with you.

  Also, we have education outreach displays and tables out in the community.  One is at the Mariner Mall, on the side hall toward the daycare area.  Another display is at the Blaine Center, next Jimmy Johns.  We also regularly have an educational table at the Government Center which has an environmental message and often some of our free giveaways.
We also are available to come to a local group or event to give a presentation or set up a learning table display.   We hope you will attend our community events which will be announced through the media.   We are developing puppet shows to go out to local schools and youth groups.  We also have a water wheel which works well at a fair to let kids spin the wheel and then answer a question. 
Rex also makes appearances at events.  You can also give us a call 715-394-0392 to talk more about our programs. 

Monday, January 13, 2014

Road salt contaminating our waters

There was a recent article discussing the long-lasting effect of road salt on our water bodies ("Rivers in wintry cities remain salty year-round"). A University of Minnesota study indicates that some lakes can double in salinity in 50 years! Yikes!

Reminder tips on ways to reduce salt and still maintain safe pavements:
1) Clear the area of as much snow and ice as possible. Clearing snow is best done right after snowfall as compacted from walking/driving is very difficult to remove.
2) Pay attention to the products you are using. There are a variety of salts other than sodium chloride (NaCl) such as magnesium chloride (MgCl2). MgCl2 also has the added bonus of not being palatable to deer. There are many other deicing options (cheese brine, anyone?).
3) Pre-wetting salt can immediately begin to lower the melting point of water. Applying liquid salt can also reduce the amount of salt that bounces off and scatters away.
4) Sodium Chloride is not effective at temperatures below 15 degrees F. There wouldn't really be any benefit to salting at extremely low temperatures.
5) Never use more than 4 lbs/1000 square ft
6) Sweep up any excess salt for reuse
7) Do not apply salt with sand. Sand should be used for traction at lower temperatures when salt won't deice.
8) More good info from the MN Pollution Control Agency: here

It only takes 1 teaspoon to pollute 5 gallons of water!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Puppet Show Makes News

The puppet show and activities at the Superior Public Library on Dec 27 made the news.

Photo by Superior Telegram

And WDIO station also came out.

We have a couple new puppets ready to head to Day Cares and Schools and other locations.

Thanks to those who attended the program.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Learn about water from New York projects

EPA's Healthy Watersheds Program Promotes Planning for Green Infrastructure at the Landscape Scale - A Case Study of New York
There will be a webinar on Tuesday, January 14 from noon to 2 p.m.  Listen from your computer.

I'd also like to share this link below that I came across when looking up the benefits of trees for reducing stormwater runoff and helping clean water.   Trees also have air quality benefits and energy-savings benefits.  According to the assessment of the value of trees in New York City the total of $122 million was given as the value