Monday, August 30, 2010

Fighting Obesity: The Power Starts One Lunchbox at a Time

The Green Team Gazette often talks about about the many ways one person can make an impact.  Each one person, doing one thing, multiplied out through the 6.78 billion people in the world, can amount to a grand difference.

Once again...the power for change starts with one.

This time, the message is from Jamie Oliver (from last year's ABC TV show "Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution."  The reason for his message above is his acceptance of the 2010 TED Prize in April of this year.  His "One Wish to Change the World:"

“I wish for your help to create a strong, sustainable movement to educate every child about food, inspire families to cook again and empower people everywhere to fight obesity.” ~ Jamie Oliver
TED, which stands for "Technology, Entertainment, & Design" is an organization dedicated to sharing worthy ideas on all 3 of those factors. If you haven't experienced some of the greatest minds out there, sharing their exceptional "more than two cents" wisdom through TED Talks, you need to head over to to check some out.

Also, just in time for back to school and the business of making lunches, Jamie Oliver has also released a toolkit with 5 downloadable posters on the following topics at

1.  I want to cook but don't know how to start. 
2.  I want to cook with my kids.
3.  Hard facts about flavoured milk.
4.  I want to change school food.
5.  Hard facts on sugar in drinks.

To learn more about Jamie Oliver's mission & the 2010 TED Prize, go to  If you can't access the video above, click the title or go to

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Go With the Wind---Energy-wise, That Is!

"We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.” ~ Chief Seattle
Choose your own energy. Lower carbon emissions.
Save Money. Support Eagle Cove School.
In 2006, energy de-regulation happened. Since then only 6% of Maryland residents have chosen to take advantage of it.

If you could choose a green energy provider, and easily lower your power bill while helping to "green the grid," wouldn't you make that choice? What if that choice also helped to support Eagle Cove School?

Choose Viridian Energy as your provider. It's safe, simple, and takes no more than five minutes over the phone or online. You'll still get one bill, and if you don't like the change, you can switch back any time. There are no set up, enrollment, or cancellation fees--no risk at all to you.

WHEN YOU DO, be sure to access Viridian through our specialized website to credit Eagle Cove School--Viridian will donate a portion of the proceeds.

Go green today, and support ECS!
These are the words on our new link (, which also links with a new fundraising venture we are beginning this year with Viridian Energy.

Being a company that wants to "green the power grid," Viridian is helping to educate energy consumers that they do have both an economic and an affordable, environmental choice when it comes to their electric bill.  Additionally, they help non-profits organizations raise funds for their needs.  With a sustainability goal to reach 7 continents in 7 years, Viridian is working hard to spread the vision of environmentalism planet-wide.  

Of course, with our green mission at Eagle Cove School (, Viridian's mission is perfectly aligned with our school, both ecologically and educationally!  Plus, with everyone who signs up through our personalized Viridian site, our school will earn $2 per month that the individual is with Viridian. That also stretches with other non-profit referrals. This residual fundraising program becomes the gift that keeps giving.

Whether with BGE or Pepco here in Maryland, the power lines stay the same, the billing stays the same, and the phone number of who you call when you have an outage stays the same.  The only thing that differs is the amount of money per kwH you pay.  When looking at my bill last month, I would have saved $36 if I would have been with Viridian.  Another member of our school community would have saved $50.  That kind of math adds up significantly over time.  

Viridian has two products they offer:  their Everyday Green (which is their 20% renewable energy "product") and their Pure Green (which is their 100% renerable energy plan).  Either way, both are significantly more green than Maryland's 5.5% green energy that is tied in with either BGE or Pepco.  (The Viridian markets extend beyond Maryland to Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and New Jersey....New York and Illinois are being brought on later this year!)  

To find out more about rates, go to

So Marylanders, Pennsylvanians, New Jerseyans & Connecticuteers...grab your BGE or Pepco bill. Then click the title above or go to, then click the "Become a Customer!" in the upper right hand of the page to sign on as customers. 

If you are a non-profit that is interested in following in Eagle Cove's fundraising footprints, also go to, then click on the "Referral Program".

Monday, August 23, 2010

Food For Thought: Lunch-Packing Season

Back to School = Back to packing lunches!

With 2 kids & myself, that's a lot of lunchbox creativity that's necessary. 

I landed on several great finds this week...hop over to the Green Team Gazette FB page to see if you can find some healthy inspiration in the many links I posted!!/pages/Green-Team-Gazette/106416856056829?ref=ts

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Good Morning America Meets The Great Pacific Garbage Patch

With all this plastic talk the last few days here at the Green Team Gazette, here's a video clip from Good Morning America detailing & defining what exactly the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is.  

Video from or

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Road-Side Plastic & Ponderings

Last night I decided to up the numbers on my pedometer and walk home from my son's soccer practice while the kids drove home with their daddio.  Trekking through the woods at the corner of the park and along the streets'-edge to get from Point A to Point B, it was approx 5,000 pedometer steps--roughly 2.5 miles.  A nice hike.

I didn't make it out of the park and most certainly not through the woods before I was returned to the "plastic on my brain" phenomenon of the week.  I was wishing for one of those "clever and illustrious creatures" from "The Majestic Plastic Bag: A Mockumentary."  A plastic bag would have been good for picking up roadside trash.  However, I wouldn't have made it far before filling the bag.  Plastic lids, Gatorade bottles, Styrofoam cups, juice boxes, aluminum cans, glass bottles, crushed crud, and more.  One bag wouldn't have cut it...I'd have needed 8, 10...perhaps even a dozen wouldn't have been enough.

I found myself thinking of the book I'm currently reading:  Thomas M. Kostigen's  "You Are Here:  Exposing the Vital Link Between What We Do & What That Does To Our Planet."   It especially got me thinking about Chapter 8: "Where The Currents Take Our Trash:  The Eastern Garbage Patch, Pacific Ocean."  There's more to the problem than just the pollution and the harm to wildlife.  In reading this chapter, I discovered a more insidious problem to the Oceanic Garbage Patches. Two in fact. 

Given there's 6 times plastic in the ocean than zooplankton, the zooplankton (who will eat anything they can ingest) are eating the tiny beads of degraded plastic called nurdles (which never fully go away or disappear).  The example in the book is that the Blue Whale, who eats 4,000--16,000 pounds of zooplankton per day, will undoubtedly be consuming one heck of a lot of plastic.  This will hold true anywhere on the food chain.  And ultimately it finds itself on our dinner plates in the fish that we eat.  Our pollution is harming our own endocrine, nervous, immune, & digestive systems.  

But wait!  There's more than the ill-effects to our health, marine wildlife, and pollution!  The plastic debris is not merely on the surface, but also lower, which then blocks sunlight to lower levels.  Not good for the phytoplankton and plants at the bottom of the ocean.  With that blockage, the oceanic plant life can't do the important job of photosynthesis (when green plants/algae take in carbon dioxide & release it as oxygen--which we & other mammals breathe in).  Therefore this too causes an increase in the amount of carbon dioxide on the planet.  This, in turn, perpetuates the vicious cycle of adding to the already-too-much greenhouse gases that are out there.  Secondarily, the plastic (estimated between 200,000 -- 2,000,000 pieces per square mile, according to Kostigen's "You Are Here,"), settles to the bottom creating a plastic coating layer on the ocean floor, which further locks the nutrients we need for a healthy planet.
To quote Kostigen (page 154 from "You Are Here"):
"So in effect, the extend of plastic's damage on the marine ecosystem could be far graver than merely pollution itself; it may upset Earth's natural balance and disrupt the huge role of the oceans in regulating the global carbon cycle.  Plastic could, very simply, be preventing the oceans from hiding vast amounts of carbon, making the Earth heat more rapidly than it naturally would."
That's some pretty heavy & burdensome thought on a 2-mile trek home from soccer.  Especially when I know that trash that gets blown into the water has an approximate 4-5 year journey to get to one of the Garbage Patches that's out there, swirling in each of our oceans.  If the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is this big now, what will it be like 4-5 years down the road?!

It's a daunting thought--all that trash out there in the world. A swift wind could pick any of it up and deposit it into a waterway leading to the ocean.  It's a massive and mind-boggling job: the thought of even attempting to pick it all up now.  It totally emphasizes the need for each and every one of us to pick up anything we can, whenever we can, to get things off the ground.

But, as overwhelming as it all is, it emphasizes the fact that although one person can't do it all, 6.78 billion people, all doing little somethings, amounts to a great big "lot of somethings."  So maybe we all should adopt the philosophy of "leave a place better than you found it," and we might just inch our way to cleaning up the joint, little by little.
To learn more about Thomas M. Kostigen & his book "You Are Here," you can go to or click the title above.

Top picture from
Latter 2 pictures from 

Friday, August 20, 2010

Bag It!

Okay, I'll admit it...I've got plastic on the brain.  

A lot of it is coming from sites I follow that are talking about the month-end California senate vote.  They'll be voting on a bill that hopefully will pass--a bill that will ban single-use plastic from all drug, grocery, and convenience stores in California.  In doing so, that will ultimately start closing the door on the 19,000,000 (that's million, people!) plastic bags consumers use in California  PER YEAR!

It brings to mind "catch and release" fishing, which is unfortunately what often happens with these bags...they have a short visit with you and are then released--sometimes to a messy storage "clutter cabinet," more often to load up the landfill, and sadly: often to the wind.  Once wind-bound, they ultimately find their way to our waterways & the digestive system of marine wildlife.

According to the Plastic Pollution Coalition website, this weekend (Sunday, August 22nd to be exact), there's a film fest in Los Angeles at the UCLA James Bridges Theater.  Here, many short films will be  on Sunday 22nd August from 4--7 pm.   Among the selection of short films, Susan Berazza's "Bag It!" (the clip from above) will be featured.  In just the three minute snippit clip (which, incidentally, completely drew in my 4-yr. old son who was sitting nearby) it's got me wanting to see more.  To bad UCLA is a bit of a ways from me...I'll have to wait until it reaches Netflix or a local showing.
To learn more, go to  Or, to learn more about "Bag It!"  go to  Hopefully it helps you to bag the bags!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Plastic, Petrochemical Wasteland

Video from

Plastic Ziplocs & baggies
Plastic wrap
Plastic water bottles
Plastic soda bottles
Plastic bags from Target,
                               more, store, more
Plastic forks
Plastic knifes
Plastic spoons
Plastic sporks
Plastic straws
Plastic baby bottles
Plastic Happy meal toys
Plastic wrappers that Happy Meal toys come in
Plastic goodie bags
Plastic goodie bag toys
Plastic straws
Plastic lids
Plastic containers
Plastic packaging
Plastic carry-out containers
Plastic cups
Plastic plates
Plastic razors
Plastic Toothbrushes
Plastic Pollution = Oil =
     = Waste = BP = Gulf of Mexico =
             = 5 oceanic Garbage Patches  =
                       = Disposable mentality = 
                                = Lack of Sustainability =
                                        = A Plethora of Planetary Problems

All inspired by Plastic Pollution Coalition's website (  My favorite line from their website (which kind of shakes up the notion of "I recycle, therefore I rock!"):
Recycling is not a sustainable solution...Unlike glass and metal, recycling plastic is costly and does not stem the production of virgin plastic product. Most of our plastic waste is land-filled, down-cycled or exported to other countries.
The Question: What are you going to do about it?

Take the Plastic Pollution Coalition Pledge:

The Answer: That's up to you!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Magestic Plastic Bag--A Mockumentary

"The open plains of the Asphalt Jungle. Home to many creatures, great and small...and the popping ground for one of the most clever and illustrious creatures--the plastic bag..."

So starts "The Magestic Plastic Bag--A Mockumentary." Taking the journey from wayward waste to the watery plastic homeland of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the creators of this video have found a powerful way to bring awareness. Created in California as a way urge people to write their senator to support California's AB 1998 "Bag Bill" through, this video definitely does just that! Even on the youngest level, kids (and adults!) will be able to watch this and see that a casual disregard of a bag is by no means a casual thing. Must-see TV for the classroom!

Video from or click the title above to take you there.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Geocaching for the Classroom

'Tis the season to get back geared up for school!  

For those of you interested in thinking outside the box, and more importantly, outside of the classroom, here is a great resource for some in-class geocaching ideas & resources for the classroom.

Be sure to check out the blog at, and click "education" on the tag cloud.  You'll be sure to find some inspiration to your regular classroom!  Click the title above, or go to

Picture a la my camera on a MD Park Quest Adventure.

Let the Outdoor Adventures Continue

--Waterfall climbing
--Hiking--Burma and Plank Bridges
--Park Quest

--No child left indoors!!

How do you follow up all of this during an outdoor adventure weekend?
Rock wall climbing!  Yes, it was a good day to climb a 25 foot (or so) rock wall.  Feeling very "I am woman, hear me roar!"    It was also neat seeing the kids, their determination, and how they were pushing themselves past their comfort levels too in order to achieve succes!!  Loved all the personal challenges elements of our weekend in Western Maryland.

Pictures courtesy my camera!!  Great weekend!!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Park Quest #12 & #13 AND Tyrolean Traversing!

"Tyrolean Traversing" = synonymous for zip-lining, the "flying fox," an aerial runway, the "flying squirrel," and the "death slide."  Is that a 9 a.m wake up call, or what?!?  A tad perkier than your first cup of coffee or my first Diet Coke for waking you up in the morning!!

Nothing is more calm nor more pristine than the near-deserted, outdoor adventure portion of the Wisp Resort in Western Maryland at around 8:30 a.m.  However, there's an energy about it as you know that it's only a bit o'time before "suiting up" in harnesses, helmets, gloves, and gear.  Of course it begged the question:  "Does this harness make my butt look big?  In the deserted-ness of the morning, my girlfriend and I hoped we'd be the only two for our 9  a.m. reservation on "Flying Squirrel Canopy Tour" zip-lines, but a brotherly foursome of rather outdoorsy-looking guys arrived to celebrate a milestone bday for one of them. Being that this was our first major adventure doing anything so daring, we commented that it would clearly come with witnesses!  "  But oh well...that didn't deter us.  "Flying Squirrel..." here we come...flying squirrels we shall become!
Thus began the trek!  After harnessing and helmet-ing up, we started our magic "Bear Claw Conveyor Carpet Ride" that took us up to the area on the mountain where we climbed the cargo net, the 3 point-V-Burma Bridge, the "Walk the Plank" Indiana Jones-esque type of bridge (complete with planks missing), the 5 zip-lines totaling around 1200 feet of line, and "the leap of faith" (a 30 foot drop to the bottom of the last tower).  There's nothing like the feeling of zooming through the air.  Remarkable!  An amazing adventure that gives such a feeling of freedom and victory!  

One of my mantras is "Take yourself to you own edge" (Dewitt Jones).  Yes, at the top of a 50 foot tower, belayed in, you're at your own edge!  It was nice having several opportunities to zip, also, because it gives you the opportunity to figure out how to do it and what to expect on the first one, and the opportunity to take in the vistas on some of the later zips.  And in a mountainside community--what a vista indeed!!

From there, our day continued the Outdoor Adventure theme.  At the end of the day, our list of accomplishments looked like this:
  • 5 zip-lines
  • Burma Bridge
  • Cargo Net Climb
  • Walk the Plank
  • "Leap of Faith"
  • Mountain Roller Coaster
  • Hiking in the woods in two Maryland State Parks:  Deep Creek Lake & Swallow Falls 
  • 2 Park Quests 
  • Orienteering with a GPS
  • Swimming and sliding in Swallow Falls
  • 15, 467 steps on the pedometer
  • 10+ hours outside on a glorious mid-70 degree day!
There clearly were no children (big or little) left inside on this day!!  Just as nature intended!

Photos a la me!

To learn more about WISP's "Flying Squirrel Canopy Tour" (including seeing a video of the zips), click the title above or go to

Friday, August 13, 2010

Park Quest #11 ~ New Germany State Park

A long weekend escape in Western Maryland...ahhh!  

Especially when you add in a mighty surprising 67 degree temperature reading in Deep Creek, Maryland, with the clouds coming down on the mountain. Even more so when we've been used to 95+ degree weather for weeks! You couldn't even see the mountain tops due to the low, wispy, fogged clouds today!  Great day for a quest at the quaint, Maryland New Germany State Park.  Future plans are in the works for an autumnal weekend away for foliage viewing...especially given New Germany's cozy cabins (complete with kitchens and with indoor plumbing)!

With any luck, more local Park Quests are in the works this weekend, and the piece de la resistance is a trek to the Wisp Resort for the "Flying Squirrel Canopy Tour"...a multi-zip line challenge course with high ropes, net climbing, and the "leap of faith."  Plus, they have a mountain cool is that!!!  Yes, a great weekend outdoors.

As a wise (and lost) woman once told me:
"All roads lead somewhere."
Yes, it's true!  All roads lead somewhere...and may this one lead a bit closer to adventure, and even a bit o'bravery!  And...most importantly....may the harnesses hold true and secure!!

Picture from

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Techie Outdoorsman

About 2 weeks ago I upgraded my Palm Centro Phone for a Droid.  Did I mention I'm in love??? 

Now that I have about 200 x more ....okay, more "everything",,,, than I had with my Palm (and I was a major fan of the Palm operating system).  Yes, I'm in love, I'm starting to see the joy of "apps."  Much like the visions of sugar plums I see dancing over head, I see some great classroom uses this fall with my Droid and my classroom document camera.  But even before that, I see some great outdoor adventures.  Here are some goodies I've already found in these few weeks:

Cool App #1.  Now that I'm all newly keen on geocaching, there are several geocaching apps available for all the major smart phones.  Through research, two popular ones are "Geobeagle" and "Groundspeak." I went with the free "c:geo" and am pretty excited about.  It's affiliated with the site....pretty much your "big daddy" of geocaching.  Can't wait to try it out.  Of course, it's web-based, which is part of what I love about the Droid, but which also can be a mega-bummer if your are trying to catch a signal out in the middle of the boon-docks!

Cool App #2.   Even before my geocaching app, I came upon one of the many compass apps.  There are a ton of free ones out there, so you just need to find the one that suits your needs, wants, desires.  Not only will you always know which way is north, but you'll also be able to make your own orienteering adventure with your own youngsters.

Cool App #3.  Let's imagine you are out in the great wild woods, hiking about.  Odds are you'll find some animal tracks.  If only you knew what they were!  Well, worry no more. is a great place to go to download My Nature Animal Tracks app just for that.  For a minimal fee for both iPhone or android, an animal tracking app is yours..  Next time you're out in the woods and you encounter some tracks, you'll definitely know what you've got in front of you!

Cool App #4.  Another cool find from for iPhone users is a My Nature Tree Guide app.  (No android app for this yet, darn and drat!)   By answering some questions about bark, leaves, location and more, photos and info are pulled up from the database.  Sounds pretty cool, at a very slight price.

Cool App #5.  If night time is more your thing, then you probably are a bit of a stargazer.  Sounds like you need a star map app! It's pretty darn cool--hold it up to the sky and it will help you locate all of your constellations, planets, and more.  Among others that are out there, it would seem that these are the two biggies:  Google Sky Map for the Droid ( and then there's Starmap for iPhone and the iPod Touch (  Where was this when I took Astronomy in college??

For even more cool apps....why reinvent the wheel over here at the Green Team Gazette?  For iPhone owners out there, here's a slew of goodies.  Check out:  Then load up your phone and head outside!

Photos from:  intro:
1. Geocaching:
2. Compass:
3.  My Nature Animal Tracks:
4. My Nature Tree Guide:
5. Google Sky Map:

Monday, August 9, 2010

Adventures in Geocaching ~ Pint-Sized Power

Since I have geocaching on the brain, I couldn't help but share this find.

Affiliated with, Geomate, Jr. is the pre-programmed, pint-sized version of a GPS reciever made specifically for geocaching. Programmed with 250,000 pre-loaded geocaches, it's ready to rock and roll when you are.  According to the website, at 250,000 geocaches, you could do one a day for 164 years!

Also, they're pretty easy to come by at Target,, Rei, and more.  For a mere $70, they're decently affordable on one level, but definitely a high-tech price tag for the 4-10 year old set.  Given that,it might be the kind of thing where your youngster saves up for awhile in his/her piggy bank, or it becomes a special bday/holiday gift.  But, then again, it could be way cheaper than a reservation at next summer's summer camp.

For more info on Geomate, Jr, including some more informative videos, click the title above or go to

Picture from

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Adventures in Geocaching

After yesterday's MD Park Quest adventures in geocaching, it got me hankering to do some more investigation.  Fittingly, is the place to go.  Here's a little 411, acrostic style, on what geocaching is all about.

GPS devices and coordinates will get you where you want to go.

Excellent way to get outside, get moving, and check out the great outdoors.
Online coordinates, free (or premium paid) memberships, & follow up opportunities are found at .
Containers are hidden with log books and special finds--you get to be the detective!
Anyone, any age can do it!

Compass in hand, clean the woods & world as you go:  "Cache In Trash Out!" .
High tech treasure sure to take a treasure or two to exchange!
Enter your zip code to find place nearby to start your Geocache adventures!

So, whether you're looking for a family outing or a outdoor field trip adventure in compass skills and orienteering, geocaching is a good way to build critical thinking skills while getting yourself outside!

Picture from our geocaching Park Quest at Maryland's Seneca Creek State Park on August 6, 2010

Friday, August 6, 2010

Park Quest #10 ~ Seneca Creek

It's not often that a wrong turn elicits a deer sighting...and one at a 10-yard-distance, at that.  And clearly it was an urban deer, very accustomed to onlookers, in that it barely flinched as 4 people went traipsing by.  

So started our tenth Park Quest at Montgomery County, Maryland's Seneca Creek Park Quest.  I was particularly excited by the GPS/caching aspect of this Park Quest, but a low battery and a booklet of information showed us that we didn't really need the GPS (tho it would have been cool in the novelty of it all).  In total, it was a good investigation of invasive plants, not to mention a decent hike, which lead us to each of the caches, the 20-food Seneca Creek invader, and the ultimate keys to the kingdom. 
Another good day outdoors...low humidity making it even better...Maryland Park Quest--kudos!

To learn more, go to or click the title above.

Pictures from my camera this 6th day o'August.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Pursuit of the Great Outdoors, Part 3 ~ Green Reads for Educators

Nothing on your bed stand for night-time reading when you're dying to learn more about "Nature Deficit Disorder??"  Here's a place you simply have to go to find out what you should be reading next.  Some of the titles and synopses you'll find here (from the link, or clicking the title above):
 Beyond_EcophobiaBeyond Ecophobia: Reclaiming the Heart in Nature Education
David Sobel 

 Discovering_Naturalist_IntelligenceDiscovering the Naturalist Intelligence: Science in the Schoolyard
Jenna Glock, Susan Wertz, and Maggie Meyer
 enrichingEnriching the Young Naturalist: The Nature of a Science Classroom
Jeff Danielian

 Get_OutGet Out! 150 Easy Ways for Kids & Grown-Ups to Get into Nature and Build a Greener Future
Judy Molland

Go_Green Go Green @ School: 20 Great Ways Students and Teachers Can Help Save the Planet
Kathleen McConnell & Gail R. Ryser

 Greening_School_GroundsGreening School Grounds 
Tim Grant and Gail Littlejohn

I_Love_DirtI Love Dirt!: 52 Activities to Help You & Your Kids Discover the Wonders of Nature
Jennifer Ward


 Last_Child_in_the_WoodsLast Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder 
Richard Louv

 Learning_GardenThe Learning Garden: Ecology, Teaching, and Transformation
Veronica Gaylie

 River_Run_SilverLet the River Run Silver Again! 
Sandy Burk 

 Lets_Go_OutsideLet's Go Outside! Outdoor Activities and Projects to Get You and Your Kids Closer to Nature
Jennifer Ward

Math_in_the_Garden Math in the Garden: Hands-On Activities That Bring Math to Life
Jennifer White
 More_Teaching_to_Love_EarthMore Teaching Kids to Love the Earth 
James Kasperson and Marina Lachecki

 Power_of_PlayThe Power of Play: Learning What Comes Naturally 
David Elkind

Ten-Minute_Field_Trips Ten-Minute Field Trips: Using the School Grounds for Environmental Studie; A Teacher's Guide 
H. R. Russell

 Teaching_Kids_To_Love_EarthTeaching Kids to Love the Earth
Marina Lachecki 

For more green goodies, go to:

Initial "Green Book" picture from
All other book photos from