Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Follow The Frog

Rainforest Alliance draws you in with a tree frog (who doesn't love a tree frog), takes you down the road of paradoxical urban environmentalist, and brings you back again with the idea that you can do a lot without going to extremes.

This one is an oldie (back from 2012) but a goodie.  Go forth and follow the frog!!

Video from

Sunday, August 17, 2014

How My Sandy-Bottomed Pool Led Me to the Ocean

Today, in that "last weekend before school starts" sort of way, I spent a large chunk of the day in my backyard pool.

(Disclaimer:  Yes, I know there are environmentalists out there who would crank up the noise on the amount of water that is used in an above-ground, backyard pool.  That water would be seen as "wasted."   However, for me, the pool is my beacon of balance in the summer.  It's where I go to relax, rejuvenate, re-energize and exercise, and hang out with my peeps.  It's my way of restoring my year's worth of workaholic-ness.  But I digress.) 

Some of my pool time was me as a "party of one," and some of that was hanging with my son.  But most of it was hanging with my dog.  He's a Portuguese Water Dog just over a year old, with far too much energy.  The pool satisfies his need for water, and my need to get him to wear himself out!  Two great tastes that taste great together!!!

However, the problem comes when a very wet dog runs like mad in a yard that has just removed a shed. In its place now stands the 8 foot by 8 foot square foundation of dirt where the shed once was.  A dog does what a dog does, and voila!  Sandy dog meets water wonderland. And vice versa and back again. The dog doesn't care that a week ago I spent time and a half vacuuming to de-dirt the pool.  Likewise, he's perfectly fine to swim in it when it's atrociously dirty.  Which it now is.

So, I was in the pool, looking around and growling. I began stirring up the bottom dirt with my foot, feeling the sandy earth on the pool bottom, and it got me thinking. Dirt and water make mud.  Yet my pool is not muddy nor is it murky.  Why isn't it?  Why does the dirt settle to the bottom, more like sediment and less like mud?  Being a swimming scientist, I stirred the bottom grit around, only to watch it all settle again, sediment again.

It got me thinking--this is much like what happens in the ocean with marine debris:  aka, plastic (or sometimes it is called microplastic).  In my pool, fallen leaves (much like big plastic-landing oceanic items) break down, but never disappear.  The grit stays until I stir it up, then it swirls in the water, then settles down again.  It never fully combines.  Never the 'twain shall they meet.  In the ocean, the marine debris photodegrades (or gets broken down by the sun), yet it leaves behind nurdles--these plastic pellets--that never fully break apart.  They are left as floaters in the ocean, mistaken as plankton and sometimes eaten, and they never fully dissipate and disappear.

So now I look at my dirty pool a tad differently than I did a day ago.  I no longer look at it just "in desperate need of a cleaning" and how we need a gate to keep the dog out.  It now connects something as simple (and literal) as the "dirt under our feet" to a bigger, broader, more global issue.  Environmental issues that so many don't see--or choose not to look at.  People have tried for years to shout it from roof tops, and many still are missing the message.  Maybe the view from the pool might make a difference in making the message heard.

Images:  The 4 pool pics are my from my backyard pool, text enhanced with the Skitch app..  Microplastic pic from

Saturday, August 16, 2014

I'll Have Some Ice With That: #IceBucketChallenge

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Unless you have been living under a rock, you have probably heard about the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.  Videos are careening all over Facebook, Instagram, and more, challenging one person then the next to drench themself with ice-infused water.  Oprah's done it.  Jimmy Fallon's done it.  Kerry Washington has done it.  Entire sports teams have done it.  It's the gift that keeps giving.

ALS, otherwise known as Lou Gehrig's disease, is a degenerative disease which attacks the brain's nerve cells and the spine.  Eventually, the weakening of muscle cells (& the brain's control over it) leads to paralysis and then ultimately death.

Some people compare the challenge to a chain letter, but the results are paying off.  In a comparable time period from this year to last, ALS donations and donors have exponentially surpassed what they were last year.  There's a big difference from $5.5+ million to $32,000 last year.

So the videos and challenges continue on.

When I did mine, I challenged anyone who watched to take part.  Go forth, be brave, battle the goosebumps, and donate anyway. I'd love to hear about it here. To donate to the ALS Foundation, go to

As with most things, it goes to show the difference that one person can make, when multiplied out by thousands.

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge -- August 2014 from Vicki Dabrowka on Vimeo.

Pic from my camera, as is the movie.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

What'cha Gonna Do With that Plastic Bottle?

A little ingenuity goes a long way.  Take a soda bottle, for instance.  You buy it, you drink it, you're done with it in 20 minutes or so (given the size).  You've got 2 choices.  Trash it or recycle it.  Hopefully by now, we all know the latter one is the better option!!

But wait!  Do you only have 2 choices?  Last time I checked, there were 3 R's. Reduce, reuse, and recycle.  Now if you're like me, you're not going to be able to go very long reducing the caffeine intake.  I need me my Diet Coke, I'm tellin' ya!

(By the way, sideline commentary:  an aluminum can can be back on the shelf in six weeks, making it a better recyclable option than plastic.  But I digress!!)

So "reducing" might not be your "R" of choice--especially in this case.  We've already talked about "recycling."  So what does that leave?  "Reusing."

Now, you could head over to Pinterest and go nuts on the DIY sites, or one link could get you to a plethora of plastic plans from decorative, to functional, to just plain cool.  MetaPicture posted this article August 4th:  "Some People Just Throw Plastic Bottles Away, Others Make This..."

Here's just a sampling of the cool things on the MetaPicture site.  Definitely take time to check out more!! The napkin rings, lake boat, and spoon lamp were also pretty darn nifty!





And my favorite:  Rocket Blaster!

Diet Coke image from; All other Images from 

Special thanks to my West Coast Partner-In-Green for sending this my way!!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Marveling at Mount Trashmore: Part 2

Because a picture or two didn't seem to do it justice, here's a little movie trailer tribute to Virginia Beach's Mount Trashmore.  To read all about it, check out "Marveling at Mount Trashmore:  Part 1."

Video from and created with my pictures from camera & a little help from iMovie trailers!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Marveling at Mount Trashmore: Part 1

Ahhh....We've been knee-deep in a beach vacation down in Virginia Beach. A hotel with a great indoor pool, plus an outdoor pool (with water slide), gorgeous garden & lake views, and even a hot tub. We didn't even take the opportunity to take advantage of the resident day spa. Between trips to the actual beach (spending the day wave jumping) and nearby Busch Gardens Williamsburg, there was no time.

But there was one particular highlight for this eco-blogging girl. Much like Dan Gutman's Coke and Pepsi from his "Genius Files" series, my family (just like Gutman's McDonald's family) got dragged around to see the sights of Mom's weird-but-true landmark whims. The Yoyo Museum? Nope. The National Mustard Museum? Nah... We went to Mount Trashmore. Yep, you heard right--just like it sounds! Apparently one of the most visited parks in the area and the state (with over a million visitors per year).

Built in 1974, Mount Trashmore is a public park site built on an abandoned landfill that was properly covered and sealed. The park consists of two mountains, a lake, miles of hiking/biking trails, a fairly snazzy skate park, and two playgrounds. The night we got there, a group of street musicians were playing their rhythmic sounds, and a jazz concert was scheduled shortly before dusk. Kites were flying, both playgrounds were filled, and there were dog walkers, laughing picnickers, swing pushers, jogging climbers, and mountain roller-downers (including my kids). There might even have been some fisherfolk, hanging out by the lake. According to our GPS when we arrived at the park, we were near sea level (elevation-ly speaking) the 73-step climb felt impressive, with its mountaintop view (though I'd be more apt to say "hilltop" view) of the buildings of downtown Virginia Beach to one side, and Lake Trashmore on the other.

According to the wonderful world of Wikipedia (and we all know how sketchily reliable that can be), there are two other Mount Trashmores out there.  One of which is currently used landfill in Florida, but the other is a similar park site built on a post-existing landfill. It is located in Evanston, Illinois.  It brings to mind those 3 R’s (which I always debate there are more than a mere 3). "Reuse" would sum up what you'd call it, but I like to think of it as "reclaim." They reclaimed the land and made it something new and useful, that positively promotes nature and the outdoors.  The very heart of turning lemons into lemonade!

Post Script:  I got a little creative with my visit to Mount Trashmore.  Click here to see "Marveling at Mount Trashmore:  Part 2" & my video trailer tribute!

Dan Gutman Genius Files pic from;  all other pics from my camera.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Blast From the Past: Back To School Green Team Gazette Newsletters

'Tis the season...things (including nerves & lesson planning) are gearing up, getting ready for that whole "back to school business!"  Here are some good ole days from the Green Team Gazette Print era: