Saturday, March 31, 2018

There's a New Shopping Mall in Town... Well, Sweden

I remember in high school, hanging out at the mall was a Saturday night social event.

While I'm not a big shopper nor mall-goer now, here's something I'd love to see more of. A Recycle Mall! It's kind of the perfect pairing between the traditional-style mall and a donation center. Check out the video to see Sweden's innovation in action: the World's First Recycle Mall.

The governing rules: Repair. Reuse. Refurbish. Recycle.

The store: ReTuna Ã…terbruksgalleria,

My thoughts: What a great way to responsibly manage waste!

Their website:  (Of course, reading Swedish will help!  But, here's their English Translated page.)

Video from, logo from

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

The Smartstrand Carpet Challenge

Recently my family decided after 10 years in our house, it was time to get new carpet. Our demands (with kids and dogs) were simple: dirt-colored. We'd had enough of the light beige that too easily showed the wear and tear of family life (and which was probably put in right before we bought our house to make it look all shiny and new. Light colored carpet never looks like that!)

As we were looking at samples, and deciding on a dirt-colored gray for our living room and a dirt-colored brown for the 3 upstairs bedrooms, hallway, and two stairwells, we landed on two we liked. As we were talking to the fellow who was in our home showing us the carpet samples, my li'l #eco brain started getting excited. The two carpets we landed on had a hefty eco-history built in. Our gray living room choice is made out of 100% plastic bottles. This makes for a nice companion to our bamboo-flooring TV room! (It's the little things in life that excite us).

The tan-neutral that we chose for the bigger collection of rooms and stairs also had a nice eco-element: it too is composed of renewable resources. Another big win for this girl! We were told it was 50% corn sugar and 50% plastic bottles. Apparently, after some research, maybe not so much, but close. This girl is still excited by the Triexta PPT/Sorona/SmartStrand carpet fiber: up to 37% corn sugar (also called 'corn glucose') and recycled materials. Additionally, with it being less chemical-based in creation, there is significantly less off-gassing of VOC's (or 'volatile organic compounds') than regular carpets. Add in it's "hydrophobic" and does not absorb easily. Another win for TeamGTG!

But possibly the most interesting "curb appeal" of SmartStrand carpet is in the video below--which takes place at a zoo! Watch the video here (or here below) to see the SmartStrand Carpet Challenge in action with rhinos, elephants, and camels. There may be hope for our house yet! ;-)

Video from, images from my house

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Tonight's The Night! Earth Hour 2018: #Connect2Earth

Tonight's the night ~ Earth Hour 2018! 
Lights out from 8:30--9:30 pm in your time zone.
Take a stance and make a stand for our Earth, our environment! 
Be a part of the millions of people, businesses, & landmarks
 to shine a light by going dark!

Check out my previous post for specifics on Earth Hour. (and some ideas for how to spend your hour switched off and unplugged). Additionally, watch this video to #Connect2Earth and keep the conversation going after your dark part of Earth Hour!

Logo from Video from

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Earth Hour 2018

Mark your calendar for Earth Hour 2018

This Saturday, March 24th 8:30--9:30 pm

Turn off your lights in your time zone to be a part of the global movement for sustainability.

Earth Hour is one of my annual favorite eco-holidays. I've been participating and writing about Earth Hour since 2009...which would make this our 10th year (out of World Wildlife Fund's 12 years of Earth Hour). I like that it's a way of purposeful taking part in something bigger than ourselves--uniting people to emphasize the importance of protecting the planet. Additionally, it's a way of purposefully unplugging for an hour. Yes, we can do it--and if you look at everyone making small steps simultaneously, then you start to see the depth of that impact in a big way.

This video gives an insight as to what Earth Hour is all about and why you want to participate by turning off your lights.

Go to Earth Hour's website to learn more, get their marketing logos & banners, check out their blog, and download their toolkits for communities/organizations, schools, scouts, individuals, corporations, and hotels.

What are you going to do for Earth Hour?

If you're not sure, try out one of these ideas:
  • Send the video and web site around to your family & friends and pass the word to #Connect2Earth!
  • Stock up on candles and light them up as you knock out all your other lights at 8:30 pm.
  • Unplug and have some good ole fashioned non-tech time.
  • Play a game of night time Hide & Seek.
  • Have a candlelight dinner... perhaps al fresco.
  • Roast some marshmallows over a bonfire with good friends.
  • Take a moonlit stroll.
  • Spend some time in reflection and meditation.
  • Play board games with your family by flashlight.
  • Go stargazing.
  • Take a night hike.
  • Tell ghost stories.
  • Take time having great conversations and quality time with someone you love.
  • ...the sky is the limit! Create your own fun! Let me know what you are planning to do!
  • Earth Hour 2017 Statistics

Earth Hour Logo and images from

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Grand Adventures with Green Screen

I've written about a lot of #green here at Green Team Gazette--green, from the #eco standpoint. This time, green takes a bit of a different driection. More of a "tech-ified" direction, going with my other love: #EdTech! Plus, the perfect color for St. Patty's Day today!

My role as a Lower School Technology teacher has me all over my school, bulking up on my steps on my Fitbit while working with students and brainstorming with teachers. I love that I get to dabble here, there, and everywhere, "talk tech" with all--something I love to do. Sometimes brilliance happens in these casual "what if" or "what can we do" conversations... then takes on a life of its own.

That's kind of the way it's been happening in the planning stages of some activities over the last year and a half when it comes to green screening.

For those of you who don't know what a green screen is, think about the weather portion on the nightly news. Back in the day, those weather maps were largely done via green screen technology, and the meteorologist needed to make sure not to wear that color or else Dubuque, Iowa and it's storm front might swish across his or her outfit rather than behind his/her back. These days, smart screens and computers might be more what is making the weather map show up.

Green screen technology has a lot of draw in the classroom: student engagement, motivation, collaboration, creativity, and the design process of the maker movement. Not to mention it is fun, and brings writing, information, presentations, and skits to life in an entirely new way.  In the past, we've created environmental travel infomercials with 4th and 5th graders, United States regions reports with 3rd graders, and a historic trip on the "Road to the US Revolution" with our 4th graders.

Our latest adventure in green screening was with 2nd grade. We recently finished a unit with Second Graders on the innovation and impact of 8 game-changing inventions over time. Our school news writer beautifully wrote about it here! Plus, at that link, you can see our movie debut and final project (created with the DoInk, PicCollage, and iMovie apps).

If you are ready to dive into the wonderful world of green to up your student engagement, here are some great links & resources to check out:

Now, all you need to do is load up your camera, hang a green screen (I got mine relatively inexpensively on Dollar Store or fabric store is another great place to shop), and start filming!

Weather map image from, my green screen office (and red arms) from Title header created in

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

World Water Day 2018: March 22nd

We are in the season of environmental days:
  • International Day of Forests, Next Wednesday:
    • Created by the United Nations General Assembly
    • Annually March 21st since 2012
  • Earth Hour is coming up: 
    • Annually the 4th Saturday of March since 2007
    • This year, March 24th--stay tuned for up-coming posts!
  • Earth Day is a month away:
    • Annually April 22nd since 1970
    • Definitely, more to follow!

And then there's World Water Day, which is next Thursday: March 22nd. Celebrated annually since1993, World Water Day is an international observance to bring about active awareness and consciousness about how vital water is to each of us on this planet. Unfortunately, clean, safe drinking water is a commodity which not everyone can access.

The theme this year is "Nature for Water." The focus is on how to use nature to best support our current day environmental concerns for water. Their fact sheet is chock-full of both statistics (like in the video below) as well as some ways nature-based solutions to guide our management of this precious resource.

Here's a video I created using Adobe Spark with images provided on World Water Day's Resource page. May it inspire you in multiple ways to think twice before that long shower or that running faucet while you brush your teeth.

For more environmental days to mark your calendar, check out these 3 sites:

Calendar clip art from; logo from, video created on Adobe Sparks with images from World Water Day's Resource Page:

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

A Year of Green Tea

Milestones always mean a lot to us. We celebrate anniversaries & birthdays, We mark those occasions on the calendar. We raise a glass to celebrate. These tend to be the landmarks of our lives that we hang our hats on, as they become important parts of who we are.

This week marks a year for me of replacing my Diet Coke habit (some might call addiction) with green tea.

I've detailed my year-long journey here:
Green Your Routine... With Green Tea
Diet Coke Days Be Gone
The Bad, Worse, & Ugly of Aspertame 

I've come to find the warmth of the tea a trigger to a momentary happy place and literal sip of calm. (Striking for a girl who never fancied warm beverages.)  My favorite way to drink it: my insulated white Corkcicle through my stainless steel straw, steaming though not scalding.  The toasty warmth lasts for hours!

I've also found I've not once missed or longed for a sip of my previously-satisfying Diet Coke soda.  Add in some health benefits and it makes a girl feel good. I'm proud of my year, and not looking back!

Images from, "Honoring Our Milestones" & "Sipping My Green Tea" banners created at, Corkcicle pic from my kitchen, with my favorite green tea!

Saturday, March 10, 2018

How South Can You Go? Antarctica!

I've said it time and time again: I love my job. I get to work with all at my school, from Kindergarten to 5th grade, and sometimes even Preschool and Pre-K too. Because of that, I know the wealth of topics they cover, and I have light-bulb moments when I see that I can connect these classes to each other and to brilliance.

This all happened last week!

With the help of social media, I saw that our former school's Communications Director just returned from a 2-week adventure in Antarctica. During her trip in January, Antarctica's summer, temperature highs are at 35 degrees. What do you know: some of our first graders just completed a reading group unit where they researched penguins... and our 5th graders currently were knee-deep in an Antarctica study based around Sir Ernest Shackleton's expedition.

Two great tastes that taste great together!!

So we brought in our local hero and Antarctic explorer, Kristyn Kuhn. She had spent 2 weeks on the National Geographics-sponsored trip to Antarctica. Her main desire: to see the continent while it is still there. We, as 1st and 5th graders, got to take advantage of her experience.

Kristyn visually revealed penguin insight & information to the 1st graders. Later she shared overall Antarctica geography & exploration to the 5th graders. (Kristyn's pictures were amazing--she should be a National Geographic photographer herself!) She also shared that each night of her trip, the NatGeo leaders had talks on different science-based subjects. Not until the last evening did the words "climate change" actually come out. Those words purposely are only shared late in the trip--otherwise they are an apparent deal-breaker amongst the closed-minded in the group.

First Grade Penguin Wall o'Fame
The 1st Graders were in awe of the penguin photos and facts. Given the research from one small reading group of 6 year olds, the students had a lot of expertise from and other resources. They knew details on Fairy Penguins, Rockhoppers, Emperors, Macaronis, and more. Kristyn was blown away with their knowledge. A major favorite of the day was when Kristyn led them to scurry in as huddled penguins in search of warmth. We all got to feel like one in the masses, like in the photo below.

From there we shifted to the older set: 5th graders, at the opposite end of the elementary spectrum. Kristyn had photos that basically took us back to the 1940s and the abandoned expedition sites... literally frozen in time--canned butter and all. We all were faced with the question: "To zoom back to Ernest Shackleton's time over a hundred years ago, 30 years prior to these pics...what must it have been like, at the bottom of our planet, way back then?" Her photos and Antarctic experience helped vividly paint that mental picture.

With both grade levels, Kristyn shared that her ship on this trip had traveled further south than ever before. Why? Because climate change had paved the way, melted the ice, and made it happen.  A southern passageway the planet hadn't ever seen before.

This is not a good thing.

After hearing both sessions and all of Kristyn's experiences, this Green Team Girl was itching to head way down south to see the pearl blue ice of Antarctica. If you want to research more about what this trip looked like (and/or to book it yourself), you need to head to National Geographic. It sounds memorable... and it totally makes me want to go!

It reminds me too: we all need to travel, experience the world, embrace the science, and learn as we go!

Photos by me of the photos Kristyn she shared of her Antarctic photos and adventures!

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Un-Plugging...With Mother Nature's Help!

Going old school with pen & paper! That's what happens when you get an unexpected 3-day weekend due to a "wind day" off school from the great nor'easter that blew this way. 

It's especially what happens when it knocks out your power around 10:30 am on a Friday (day off) morning. Based on the whipping winds, it's no major surprise as it was only a matter of time until we lost it.  But a power outage definitely reminds you of what you take for granted.

My kids, in particular, felt the tech-blast.. loud, strong, hard--and greater than the gusty wind. Watching the slow death of device batteries (along with no wifi aside from 4G phones), it was like awaiting pending doom.

The power-outage-induced-unplugging led me to finish a good old fashioned paperback novel. A novel idea, indeed. Add in, I tackled a few dump piles of purging and sorting that had previously been falling to the bottom of every list. I will admit, that tackle did feel good! My son got caught up on sleep, taking a mega-afternoon nap that I probably haven't seen him embrace for 7 or so years. My daughter went through her culinary options: Popcorn? No microwave. Pasta? No stove. After battling the quandaries, she down-graded to land on a sandwich and chips & dip.

Both kids learned this very important lesson: there's nothing you can do to speed an outage up and turn the power back on. The "powers that be" have all the power indeed, and probably won't get to it until the wicked winds stop blowing! Waiting it out is all you can really do at that point!

Luckily we had family 10 minutes away and could spend our Friday evening with them (and their electricity)... and their TV... and heated food! Packing up to head over there must have been like the modern-day-equivalent to preparing for the Zombie Apocolypes: grab the phones, the iPads, theDS gaming system, the charging station, the USB cords and the plugs! That was the first bag packed so that we could load up our device batteries straight from our relatives' outlets! All so we could power up and ration our devices for another day.

I think the forced tech-free zone of a unplugged day did us all some good... and probably brought a bit of an awareness as to exactly how connected to our devices we all really are. There certainly was a simplicity in this bonus day off--you can't do laundry with no power! Given that, might as well embrace the gift of the day! I also found it humorous how much I defaulted to trying to flip the light switch on! I mean, I knew I had no tech, but I tried to hit that bathroom or kitchen light switch more time than I could count!

 I will say the part I hated most of all was hearing the grinding generator of a nearby store center, overly-loud, inside our home--although it really was around the corner and across a few backyards!

We ended up without power for only 24 hours (almost right on the nose). Not terrible, especially when you consider what it could have been after seeing all the trees down. (Or when you consider that we knew some folks who were out of power for up to 5 day due to this storm! Not to mention how long the folks in Puerto Rico were without power after Hurricane Maria!)

In the end, I think it did us all some good, and we certainly lived to tell the tale... kids included!

Notebook pic from my camera, School Closed pic created by me over at; Someecard from; no electricity pic from

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Following Up On "Day Zero"

Water, water, water makes the world go round.

My life is sponsored by water these days, between reading Jeff Goodell's "The Water Will Come" and previous writing about Charity:Water and the water situation in Cape Town, South Africa.

Since my original post, luckily, "Day Zero" (aka: the day the water shuts off in Cape Town) has shifted a few months. Instead of the originally-projected date of May 11th, 2018, it has now shifted forward to September 7th, 2018. This shift is based on the area's local conservation efforts, which of course is certainly a positive thing. In some aspects, a 4-month shift is phenomenal. Take having babies, for instance. That 4 extra months would be significant. While still positive, in a global timeline scheme, 4 months is still saddening. We're talking about fresh water here, so we essentially are talking about life. But at least it is shifting the right direction!

To see a live-time website of the water levels for CapeTownians, check this out. Sadly, you can watch daily as the numbers diminish.

As an extra eye-full, this 4 minute video is striking.  Derek Van Dam, CNN Meteorologist, and his wife (and infant) do a 24 hour water simulation, attempting to use the required amount of Cape Town Water to see where they get. Having once lived in Cape Town, this challenge is personal to Derek Van Dam and his wife.  Could you do it? For me, I found it to be an eye-opener. This Green Team Girl questions her family o'4 and the ability to pull it off to this degree!!

It certainly made me reconsider little things like tooth-brushing and bath-taking!

As you watch Derek and his wife in action on this challenge, I challenge you.  What can you do to live more sustainably? If Cape Town is enduring this now, it's only a matter of time before more communities will be enduring it as well. Climate change is not debatable. Science is science. Drought conditions will lead to more water availability issues. What are you going to do to help... before it's a matter of being too late in your area?

Images from: and post and video from