Sunday, October 31, 2010

This Halloween: 1). Watch Out For Witches' Drawers, and 2). Don't Get Buried

Depending on the context, that can be a big or small number:

--600 piece of candy in your Halloween trick-or-treat cache--major score! 

--$600 extra in your bank account--not too shabby. 

--Infestation of 600 spooky spiders in your bed at the same time--another story entirely! 

How does that number feel when you look at this statistic:  600 is the average number of plastic bags a person uses in the year.  Given a plastic bag's life span is approximately 20 minutes (from store to your door), that's a lot of needless waste.  It's something that most certainly could bury you!! 

The picture above is a near-classic Halloween scene.  No it's not a T.P.'d tree, but rather a tree that's gnarled branches have reached out to grab wayward plastic bags, floating in the wind.  It reminds me of an essay in Recycle This Book: 100 Top Children's Book Authors Tell You How to Go Green, edited by Dan Gutman. Jon Scieszka, of the Time Warp Trio book series and The Stinky Cheese Man fame, wrote an essay all about these wayward bags called "Stamp Out Witches Drawers."  After reading it and seeing the video below (that will show you what it's like to be buried in plastic), you'll come to hate plastic bags as much as Jon Scieszka and I do.  Click the title above, or go to to learn more.

To read  Jon Sciezka's "Stamp Out Witches' Drawers" from Dan Gutman's book Recycle this Book click here (see page 150):

PS...Only 6 days until the November 6  TEDx Great Pacific Garbage Patch live-stream event.  For more details, go to 

Picture from

Saturday, October 30, 2010


T-Minus 1 week until the November 6  TEDxGreatPacificGarbagePatch live-stream event.  Click here to watch this video to get an idea of the importance of this event (or go to

To sign the Plastic Pollution Coalition's Pledge, click here and take an active step at irradicating excess plastic waste in your own world:

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Planning our TEDx Great Pacific Garbage Patch Live Webstreaming for November 6th

Having diligently followed the creation then 5 month voyage of "The Plastiki" this past summer, I can't get enough info about the horrors called "The Great Pacific Garbage Patch."  (For anyone needing back-story, check in on the following GTG articles:

Approximately 10 days from now, on November 6th, I'll be pairing with my school, Eagle Cove School, to host a Livestream Watch Party of the TEDx Great Pacific Garbage Patch event with our school community.  We'll be taking advantage of technology and the gathering of great minds to highlight the environmental impacts of plastic pollution and the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The TEDx Great Pacific Garbage Patch Webcast Event is sponsored by: 
--TEDx : An Independent off-shoot of the TED Talks which unite leaders from "Technology, Entertainment, & Design;"

--Plastic Pollution Coalition: An organization dedicated to increasing awareness of the toxic effects of plastic pollution;

--Mission Blue:  A global partnership focused on restoring oceanic health for marine wildlife & protected areas.

Featured TEDx Great Garbage Patch Speakers

Sylvia Earle ~ American oceanographer. Former chief scientist for the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration from 1990-1992. Current Explorer in Residence at the National Geographic Society. 

Ed Begley, Jr. ~ actor, environmentalist/activist. Author of "Living Like Ed: A Guide to the Eco-Friendly Life," published in 2008 and star of Planet Green TV's show (of same name) on green living. 

David de Rothschild ~ British adventurer/ environmentalist, head of "Adventure Ecology," (a climate change expedition group). In March of 2010 he trekked across the Pacific Ocean from Los Angeles, CA to Sydney, Australia on the Plastiki, a boat he had made of 12,500 plastic water bottles. He did this to bring awareness to the Oceanic Garbage Patch.

John Dramani Mahama
~ vice president of the Republic of Ghana.

Captain Charles Moore ~ founder of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation. He has sampled more than 40,000 miles of water/plastic of the North Pacific Ocean.

Chris Malloy ~ surfer and visionary. He has surfed every continent and has found plastic in the most remote of places.

And many, many more!! For the complete listing, go to

Here is the Nov. 6th Agenda as listed from TEDx Agenda  
(all times have been modified from the Pacific time zone to our time zone:) 

11:30 am EST    (8:30 am PST)
Welcome from Plastic Pollution Coalition and Mission Blue

12:00 pm EST   (9:00 am PST)
Morning Session: Reporting The Problem
      * Topic 1: Plastic Pollution and Ocean Health
      * Topic 2: Plastic Pollution and Terrestrial Animals
      * Topic 3: Plastic Pollution and Public Health   
      * Topic 4: Growing Economic Costs of Plastic Pollution  
      * Topic 5: Exponential Growth of Consumption

5:00 pm EST   (2:00 pm PST)
Afternoon Session: Exploring The Solutions
     * Topic 1: Building Awareness and Outreach; Leading by example
     * Topic 2: Businesses Altering Their Practices
     * Topic 3: Investing In the Future: Science, Research and Technology
     * Topic 4: Plastic Alternatives
     * Topic 5: Global Policy Initiatives

6:30 pm EST   (3:30 pm PST)
Call to Action and Global Challenges

7:00 pm EST    (4:00 pm PST)
Closing Remarks

Where is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch?

Use this Info Graphic to see where the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is located. Then imagine that black spot to be millions, billions of pieces of plastic trash in various sizes. Some are bite-sized bits called "nurdles" that outnumber plankton 6 to 1. These nurdles seem like the perfect snack for marine animals, which ultimately harms marine wildlife as well as putting plastic into our food chain.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Day-Tripping at the Landfill

Here are some of the pics from both our trip to the landfill last week, and our previous trip on May 14th, 2009.  If you haven't seen the landfill, this is a quick way to take a peek.  You definitely get an eye-full!

To view, click the presentation or title above, or go to

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Field-Trippin' to the Landfill

Okay, it's probably true, I'm guessing I'm a cheap date.  Asking my husband would verify the fact, but it could very well be true. 

Give me a field trip to the Millerville, MD Landfill & Resource Recovery Facility in Anne Arundel County and I"m one happy camper.  I can't wait to get there!!! (Yes, call me weird.)  We did just that--we went to the landfill with my 3rd graders this past Thursday. I must say, it was eye-opening, esp since we were there 1.5 yrs ago and it was REMARKABLE how filled the landfill was compared to where we were 1.5 yrs ago!  With mucho stuff filling that fill that could be recycled!!  So here we are, 1.5 yrs. later...and it's scary, how much higher it is! 

As of where we are now, we've got 3 yrs until this cell (Cell 8 of 9) is filled. Cell 9 is destined to be filled in 2030.  Yes, that's 20 years--maybe slightly more if recycling rates increase.  We're at one cell left, which they are starting to clear land for now.  Trees are going down and turning into mulch (as we speak), and will be awaiting commercial trash here in Cell 9 in 2013.  Yet, it should be and will ultimately be filled, taller than the tallest spot in Anne Arundel County...especially since we are already there, here, now; Thursday we were standing atop the highest spot in AA County (with the tower at BWI airport being the only other height rival). 

Bottom line...Everyone should go to the the top, to the bottom, to the worst part, to the best part, to see the deoderizers,to see where the leachate goes, to see how vast it is.  To see how much "stuff" is in there that shouldn't be there...the number of recycled items we saw sitting there, in the 'fill, that could have been/should have been recycled was monumental.  It's an eye-opener on mucho fronts. If you haven't been there, go.  Check it out.  Take it in.  Be there, be in the moment, and truly see! 

Then, come home and, in the words of Anne Arundel's Waste Management's motto, "recycle more often."

To learn more go to or

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Great GREEN Pumpkin Patch

Arthur, Illinois is known for it's Amish communities, it's quaint small town center, the horse and buggies that frequent the streets next to the cars, but that's not all. A trip home to central Illinois in October isn't complete without a trip to Arthur and to The Great Pumpkin Patch.

Open to the general public from September 15th through October 31st, this family farm that raises over 300 varieties of pumpkins, squash, and gourds is a sight to behold! This year marks its 22nd season, and it's a great way to connect with the harvest of the season--especially if you're graced with the amazing weather we had when we went this weekend!

But, just as it's not "your regular ole Pumpkin Patch," it's also an educational experience galore! Not only can you learn the A to Z's of squashes and see some of the country flags in "The League of Cucurbit Nations," but you can also learn a bit throughout about "going green" on informational signs located around the farm.  Be sure to check out this presentation I created to highlight their efforts to spread environmentalism by clicking the slideshow above, or go to

To learn more about Arthur's Great Pumpkin Patch, go to .

Pictures from my camera!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

E-Waste Revisited

E-waste, as mentioned in our GTG October 15 "E-Waste Solutions," is the rubbish remnants that result from planned obsolescence of electronics as we come up with the newer, greater, electronic gizmo...whether that be phones, computers, movie players, or more.

In our idea that "it's got to go somewhere," we as Americans have become "NIMBY's."  What's a NIMBY, you ask?  It's someone who believes it is fine long as it is Not In My Back Yard. So, who's back yard does it happen....check out the map:

For an eye-opening video about E-Waste dumping in other countries, and how we're really doing a number on our planet, check out this video snippet from CBS's "60 Minutes" episode "The Wasteland" on August 27, 2009 (from To see the entire 12 minute video, go to or

Note to self... 
1).  Recycle your E-Waste.
2).  Double check that your recycler is recycling it responsibly!

Picture from

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

E-Waste Solutions

As recycling expands, so do environmental waste streams.  And hopefully, "awareness" also expands.  This video from eCollective/ECS Refining, a new E-Waste recycling company in California is very helpful in this department.  

E-Waste...for those not "in the know" that "e" stands for "electronics."  In this age where the newest gizmo on the market makes us want to trash our older, now "not so cool" cell phone, computer, iPod, DS, PS3-2-or-1, DVD player, video player, TRS-80, whatever....we need to know what we need to do with this waste.  The trash can & landfill aren't the best options.  Especially when you consider the wasted resources that get thrown away (then need to be re-mined), and the landfill gets bigger, taller, more toxic. Or worse yet, the rubbish gets shipped to an undeveloped country where they can serve as OUR landfill. 

eCollective in California has a system in place that could work as a model for other areas to pattern from!  They provide an online database of places to drop off your e-waste.  Their ultimate plan--have an easy drop off within 10 miles of wherever you live! If they make it easy for you, how can you not take advantage of it?!  Move from 14% eWaste recycling closer to 100%.  Makes sense--good sense!

A quick Internet trip to the eCollective site will give you a list of the gadgets and gizmos they will accept for recycling. It will also give you these details:
"It is estimated that the world generates over 40 million tons of e-waste every year. That’s almost 12 pounds for every man, woman and child on the planet, every year!
Our need for the newest, coolest electronics has left a wake of waste, the fastest growing category of solid waste in the world. Most of our unwanted and obsolete electronics get stockpiled in our homes, offices, garages. What’s worse is that 80% of what isn’t in storage is getting shipped to developing nations and only the small portion of what is left over is getting recycled properly.  That’s why ECS Refining created ecollective, an organization of convenient drop-off locations for consumers and small businesses to recycle their unwanted and obsolete electronics."                               ~ Quoted from

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Now it's POURING Eco E-Resources

First it rained yesterday with Best Colleges Online's 50 it's pouring with Masters In Education's 100 "Great Green Lesson Plans for the Classroom.  Teachers & Environmental Educators will find a wealth and a half of Eco-Finds at  It's broken down into easy-to-navigate categories:
  • Great Green Reads for Kids
  • Great, Green Lesson Plans for the Preschool Classroom
  • Great, Green Lesson Plans for the Kindergarten Classroom
  • Great, Green Lesson Plans for the Grade School Classroom
  • Great, Green Lesson Plans for the Middle School Classroom
  • Great, Green Lesson Plans for the High School Classroom
  • Great, Green PDF Lesson Plans for the Classroom
  • Great, Green Climate Change Lesson Plans for the Classroom
  • Great, Green Lesson Plans for the Classroom to Reduce Impact
  • Great, Green Online Lesson Plans for the Classroom
  • Great, Green Lesson Plans for the Teacher
(As an aside, teachers of all specialties might want to really investigate their blog--talk about a wealth and a half!!)

Bottom line, if you're looking to "green your classroom routine," 150 new eco-sites in a 24 hour time period is not too shabby!  We're your one-stop-eco-curriculum-shopping-spot!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

It's Raining Eco E-Resources!

I'm sure this happens to you (it happens to me all the time).... It's a Wednesday night and all of a sudden you are hankering for a great "green" resource...whether it's to satisfy your the eco-"news-junkie" in you, to answer a burning recycling question, or to dig up a great find to share in school tomorrow (as a student or a teacher).  Well, look no further.... has just released their "50 Online Resources for Eco- Friendly Schools" at  
Here you will find their favorites:  their top-10 sites for "Environmental News", their top-10 for "Green
College Initiatives," their top-15 for "Green K-12 School Initiatives," their top-8 for "Recycling at School," and their top-7 sites for "Environmental Clubs." All of these resources are excellent finds for all!!  Don't let a day go by without checking them out!  Click the title at the top or land on the link above.

(Of course, we here at Green Team Gazette are firm believers that we should have been resource #51!!)

Thanks to Tim H. for sharing this great resource! 

Monday, October 4, 2010

Teach A Kid To Fish And He/She Will Have A Passion For A Lifetime

After torrential downpours fell upon Maryland skies late last week, the glorious sun on Saturday was a gem of a day!  It was a great day too for a youth fishing derby. The Bill Burton Youth Fishing Derby (sponsored by Maryland's Department of Natural Resources, the Maryland Saltwater Sportfishing Association, & the Coastal Conservation Association).  My kids, their dad, & their grandpa grabbed their fishing rods and headed down to Cambridge, Maryland with some buddies (a couple of which share the family lineage of the derby's namesake).  A super day of Chesapeake Bay fishing was had by all! 

Candus Thomson of the Baltimore Sun, did a far better write-up than I ever could...check it out:  You can see her photos of the day at the Baltimore Sun's photo gallery at,0,7713852.photogallery.

For more GREAT pictures of the day & another excellent write up, go to

And as the grand finale, here's a must-see youtube video.   To learn a little bit about the legend and namesake behind the Bill Burton Choptank Fishing Pier State Park, click on the video below, or go to  Every time I watch this, I appreciate the wisdom not only of Bill Burton, but of our elders who have experienced the Great Depression and WWII.   I appreciate how important it is to embrace life and to go where your heart is.  I believe Bill Burton sure did.  And I have a sneaking suspicion that anglers galore will continue to do that on the Bill Burton Choptank Fishing Pier State Park!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Trying to Reason With Hurricane Season

Ah...the lyrics and tune from Jimmy Buffett's "Trying To Reason With Hurricane Seasonhave come to mind more than once these last few days.  Multiple times while the remnants of Tropical Storm Nicole battered Baltimore & the east coast on Thursday...sending me home, soaked to the bone, from a day at jury duty...and sending the kids at my school to tornado shelters for 40 minutes or so as satellite-instructed tornado warnings swirled in the direct vicinity of school.  (Verification of tornado touchdown & sad evidence of the 4 snapped trees a mere mile and a half from my school along my driving route are here:

Yes, in some ways, Jimmy Buffett's tune is background music for my life.  Hurricane Floyd in 1999 rerouted our entire wedding just 24 hours before due to power outages of our wedding/reception site.  It also brings to mind my 5-6 years of living in/around Tampa, Florida, especially during the wicked hurricane season of 2004 when Hurricanes Charley, Ivan, Frances, and Jeanne caused us to batten down the hatches, be glued to the spaghetti-map projections of "the cone of uncertainty," put out our sandbags, flee at times to the other side of the state (and once even to Illinois, fearing "3rd time's the charm!"), and even board our house one time.  (Which, by the way, is painful to watch those 4 inch nails go through boards into your new, stuccoed, Florida-concrete-block house!).  Then there's 2005's Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans (not that I was there, but I do believe that its impact was felt nationally wherever you lived in) ...

Yes, it's difficult to reason, try as we might, with hurricane season.

But, NPR has tried!  And succeeded with their "How Much Do Hurricanes Weigh" 3-minute video!  At the very least, they've succeeded in creating an informative & kid-friendly visual that puts some real-world meaning in the the weight and force of a hurricane in terms that kids can understand.  Add in that I am teaching "place value" right now in math, I'm giddy with the super teaching connection this video makes to math!

To see the video go to it'll help you with your Jimmy Buffett quest for hurricane meaning, sense, and reason!

Pictures are pictures from my life during the 2004 Florida Hurricane season.