Thursday, December 30, 2010

Let's recycle some bottles... and plant some plants!!

      I am a graduate student and being a student I can attest to the fact that money is hard to come by. So, I have learned to try and reuse when I can and recycle objects, such as soda bottles, into useful stuff. It is amazing how economical reusing materials can be!
      Today I am going to focus on one project of mine which started with a powerade bottle. I had taken a plant cutting and it was finally ready to plant. At this point, I could have ran out to the store and bought a pot OR I could use some ingenuity to make my own. I really wanted to add some pizazz to the graduate office so, not only did I want to make a planter, but I wanted a hanging planter. Here is what I did:

1) Find yourself a large powerade bottle or something similar. Obviously, this all depends on how large you want it. I bet that a 2 liter soda bottle would make an awesome large hanging planter!!

2) Cut off the top portion of the bottle to the height that you want. You could cut from the bottom, but I like the look of the cap being the bottom of the pot.

3) Cut holes into 3 spots along the edge of the bottle (see arrows above). These will be to put string through for hanging. If you have a good pair of hole punchers, you may be able to use those.

4) Find some string or yarn you have laying around the house and tie these around the holes you made. I used some leftover yarn I had from past knitting projects.

5) Tie all the string together at the top and there you have it! Your very own hanging plant pot. Now jump up and down, plant a plant in it, and hang it off a hook! :)

The finished product!

Other ideas:

1) Why not decorate the bottle?
2) You could use a larger bottle to plant a larger plant.
3) Use all different colors of string for a crazy look!
4) Glue recycled magazine clippings to the outside to decorate.
5) Just have fun and use your imagination!! :)

I hope that you have fun with this project. It is super simple but affective!! Stay tuned for more green whispers.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Sickness :(

Hi everyone! I have not disappeared... just been sick! I am going to rest and come back into writing on this (and everything else I do) after this weekend. I am going to have an exciting adventure on Monday completing a Christmas Bird Count (CBC) so will try and share this experience with you! I hope everyone has a great holiday!

This is what I felt like yesterday!! Yuck!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Recycled Newspaper Bow!!

Hi everyone! I do not have time to post today but I just saw a super cool link on the team upcyclers forum for a recycled newspaper bow. Now, I know it is almost Christmas, but why not give it a try? I might just have to!! :)

The finished bow on her website! So cool! :)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

       So today I just want to take a moment and have you turn your eyes to the right side of your screen. If you look on the top there is a box asking for you to vote for helping Red-cockaded woodpeckers in Arkansas. I just want to take a few minutes and urge you to do this.

      For those of you who do not know, red-cockaded woodpeckers (RCWs) are endangered, critically so. Their range has declined largely due to a loss of habitat, as they rely on mature pine trees for nesting.
The current range of the RCW is indicated by the red dots and the blue delineates their historic range. Quite a difference!!

On the Pepsi website they are trying to get money for making tree-peepers and providing funding for researchers. This project could lead to a longer-term study on this rare bird which may have implications for their conservation.You can check out the Pepsi website to read more about this bird and the project that they propose.
A picture of a tree-top peeper. They are going to make a cheaper, more cost-effective version.

    A picture of an RCW.

        As we all know, preserving wildlife species is so important, particularly when we are the cause of their decline. I know that it seems like your vote would not matter, but you can vote every day up until December 31st and it is so easy to log in and do if you have a facebook account! So, if you get a chance go check it out and maybe look around at other green projects. Next week I'll talk about green projects with plastic soda bottles and start up 'Woodcock' Wednesdays. The most exciting part of the week! Thanks for checking that out and tune in later for some green whispers!

Isn't he (or she) adorable!?!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A world without recycling....

     For those of you that do not know, I am from Maine. I grew up recycling everything that we could. 'Dump' runs were my favorite because I got to run around throwing stuff into their respective bins and then my Dad and I would go look in what I called "The Barn". Real creative right? This barn was full of junk. Luckily, I was a kid who LOVED junk (thanks to my Dad) so I tended to pick up books, bikes, and who knows what else and run home with it.

      I feel like the town I grew up in, for a small town in Maine (pop. ~ 6,000), was pretty progressive when it came to recycling. They even charged people 2.00 a trash bag, which caused people to be less likely to throw away what could be recycled. For my undergraduate college years, I stayed in the New England/ Canada area and always experience people and towns who embraced recycling. Then, I move to Arkansas, where I am completing my graduate studies, and was opened up to a whole new world... one without recycling.

      When I arrived in Arkansas, one of the first questions I asked my landlord was where the recycling center was. She did not even laugh, just stared at me blankly. So, I explained further what I was talking about. Then she did laugh!! Luckily though, she was able to tell me of the place in town that would recycle cardboard and bottles. This was better than nothing.

      My next step was to ask where recycling was on campus. I had never been to a campus without recycling!! This was definitely my first. After trying to get people to start up recycling, I became known as the recycling Nazi to the other graduate students. The first day I met one of the graduate students, who happens to know be one of my closest friends, she went to throw some paper in the trash and I was appalled. If you can picture that slow motion cartoon where someone jumps across the room to stop something yelling "NOOOOOOO!" then you can picture what she was seeing. She has made fun of me ever since this episode, but she does recycle!

 Not too pretty, but this is the set-up I have. I take the recyclables away about once every two weeks!

Just a close up of my message to people..... pleading with them to recycle!

      I have not been able to do much to 'fix' the situation yet when it comes to recycling, but what I have done is set up recycling centers in the 2 graduate offices on campus. You can see a picture of this above. I know this does not sound like much at all, but I would say my message here is that every little bit counts and do not be afraid to indicate to someone that they should recycle! I think if more people spoke up about recycling, then more people would partake. Many times, such as with the situation I am in, people just do not know what recycling is. Meaning, they know the term but they have never truly been taught how easy it is to do it. So, sometimes it just takes that little push and you would be amazed how many people are willing to learn.

         If you get a chance, go check out VerdantViolet's blog because I noticed that she had a guest blogger write a really cool blog about recycling. She found herself in a similar situation as mine and decided to reduce her recycling. You can check that out by following this link:

        I invite you to leave comments and would love to hear your experiences with recycling! More green whispers soon to come! :)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Is faster growth worth the risk?: GM foods and the potential side effects

       I was a vegetarian for 9 years. When people ask me why, I mostly have to say what my 14 year old mind was thinking. A good summation would be "I love animals so why would I want to eat them". Of course, as I grew older there was more to it than that. I began to understand what went into mass-producing of meats, and I'm not just talking about harsh conditions. I'm talking about pumping my foods full of hormones and who knows what else.

I think this is probably what my 14 year old mind was picturing....

     Approximately 2 years ago I was faced with a decision, either have no energy to do the activities I love or to start consuming meat. I decided at that point to start consuming fish and game meat, so I started researching. What I found is that in order for me to stay 'green' there would be a lot to my choice, particularly in regards to eating fish. It seemed to me as I walked through the stores I saw the term "farm raised" (which is not always a bad thing) every where and all of the fish seemed to be ones on my not sustainable list.

     Anyways, I started thinking about all of this today when I was checking out The National Geographics Green Guide Blog and read the following post: .

It is all about genetically modified (GM) fish and the FDA approving the consumption of a new, manufactured GM salmon. What are the arguments for us 'growing' them you might ask? Well, they grow faster and eat half as much. Do we actually know how eating them might affect us? Yes and no. Based on the blog post, most studies have had limited sample size and were preformed by people who would be directly affected monetarily if the FDA did not approve the use of the fish. Thus, these studies have all shown the fish to be safe for consumption. Also, studies completed by others have indicated that GM fish have an increased tolerance to toxins. As we know from past trials (e.g. cow hormones and mercury in fish), toxins or overabundant hormones in our food are bad for us. But, the fact of the matter is, without conclusive evidence the FDA should not be approving such a fish. Even more frightening, the fact that there are no rules in place for the people engineering these fish to label them as GM fish if they enter the market. So, at the very least, the products should be labeled.

The image that many critics have associated with the GM salmon. (I'm not going quite this far!)

      That is all I have time for today but I invite you to go and read that blog post. They delve deeper into some information on other options that are more sustainable, and the fact that wild-caught Alaskan Salmon populations appear to be managed quite well. I felt it was a good read, and worth it for anyone pondering the idea of GM food or just in the future, for someone who needs to make the choice when they are sitting in the grocery store trying to choose between wild caught salmon or some crazy GM salmon. Below I have included some information from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood watch program and invite you to check out their website so you can eat eco-friendly, sustainable fish! :)

Saturday, December 11, 2010


       I thought today that I would share two pictures of the COOLEST bird ever. This has been the object of my scientific pursuits for the past year now and will continue to be so for the next year. I do not think you can get much cuter or odder.... Their ears are between their eyes, their brain is inverted, and they have 360 degree vision! Add to that their huge eyes, long bill, and stout body and you have what I would call a biological mess up.
      This is the American woodcock and if all of you have not seen one, I invite you to go out in the spring (if you are in the eastern half of the United States) and try and capture the males completing their aerial courtship. For now I am going to stop at that, but I'll try to share more information about them with you all each week. I'm headed off to run in the woods! :)

Any votes on woodcock chicks being the cutest?

Friday, December 10, 2010

I'd like to start out my blog with the following quote because I feel that it, and the woman who spoke it, are what have inspired me to be who I am today.

"Only if we understand can we care. Only if we care will we help. Only if we help shall they be saved."

- Jane Goodall

I must admit, this is one of the few quotes that I have memorized, and I have since I was a young child. Jane Goodall was talking about chimpanzees in particular, but it can be applied to every organism; plants, bacteria, and animals alike. When I was younger I loved Jane Goodall and her message. I feel that the above quote is a great summation of what she stood for. Thus, I have decided to live a green life and complete research just like her (although not on chimpanzees, I let that dream go a couple of years back).

I'd invite anyone who reads this to just think about that quote and then step outside and look around. Even if you are in a big city, there are organisms all around you and they are being affected by what you do, by what I do, and by what your neighbor does. Now, I am not a 'crazy' green person trying to make you feel bad but I am just asking you to think about this. Just for one moment.

With that request I will leave you for the day. Thanks for 'listening' to my whispers, and stay tuned for more! :)

Jane Goodall's Iconic Picture Touching a Baby Chimpanzee's Hand