What’s in Our Water? Breaking Down Marine Pollution

What's in Our Water? | Eco-Mothering.com

This Save The Bay graphic for the International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) shows a breakdown of trash pieces found along Rhode Island beaches and coastlines last year. It amounts to nearly ten tons of trash—and that’s just in the smallest U.S. state. According to the Ocean Conservancy, more than 18 million pounds of trash was collected by ICC volunteers in 2015. That’s equal to the weight of 437 whale sharks!   While cigarette butts are the biggest offender, the remainder consists of food and drink packaging: glass, metal and the dreaded plastic. Plastic pollution clogs coastlines, harms marine creatures and leaches toxins into our waters. It is believed that there are 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic debris in the ocean, some floating and some in the deep sea. How Does the Trash Get in our Water? The bulk of it flows downstream, meaning it comes from land-based sources (litter, overflowing trash cans, … Continue reading

What Are Wetlands? (And Why We Should Value Them)

What Are Wetlands? (And Why We Should Value Them) | Eco-Mothering.com

Wetlands are areas where water mixes with or saturates the land at least part of the year. Areas like bogs, swamps, vernal pools and salt mashes are considered wetlands. While they may not be as scenic as other landscapes, wetlands are vital ecosystems that provide habitat for a variety of plants and wildlife. Below, you’ll learn why we should value wetlands, plus fun ways families (or classes) can learn more. What Do Wetlands Do? They filter pollutants from the water, trapping heavy metals, phosphorous and other toxins in their sediment. They act as a frontline storm defense against strong winds and tidal waves, reducing a storm’s impact and preventing erosion. They collect and store flood water. Acting as sponges, wetland vegetation absorbs heavy rain and snow melt to keep rivers at normal levels and prevent flash flooding. On the other end, wetlands can also recharge groundwater supplies and control flow … Continue reading

Why Trees Are Awesome (and Why You Should Plant One)

Benefits of Trees | Eco-Mothering.com

Most everyone is familiar with Joyce Kilmer’s poetic line: “I think that I shall never see A poem lovely as a tree.” What makes trees so lovely? They tower over our landscape with their leafy, needled and willowy beauty; mark the cycle of the seasons from stark nakedness to riotous colors; and serve as symbols of strength and flexibility. We know trees are good for the earth, but do we really know why? Here are some reasons behind the awesomeness of trees. Let me know if this doesn’t make you want to hug one or plant one — which you can do at the end of this post! Trees Conserve Energy and Water. Placed strategically, trees provide shade to homes and office buildings, either reducing the need for air conditioners or cutting AC costs by 15-35%. Trees planted in cities help combat the “heat islands” of unending asphalt and concrete. … Continue reading

Nature Photos from my Alaskan Adventure

Mendenhall Glacier, Alaska | Eco-Mothering.com

My family just returned from an Alaskan cruise, and I wanted to post some of the beautiful nature and wildlife photos we took while there. Although a cruise is certainly not an eco-friendly travel option, the trip was wonderful, made even more so by the friends we vacationed with. One of our favorite excursions was whale watching, where we saw about eight humpback whales in Auke Bay, Juneau. We were close enough to hear them breathing. I managed to capture several of their tail fins after diving under as well as a calf who showed more of himself while playing with a sea lion.             We had anticipated seeing lots of glacial action, however, due to a medical crisis with one of the ship’s guests, the Tracy Arm Fjord part of our trip was cancelled. Still, we managed to see Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau. Did you know … Continue reading

Family Nature Getaway in #PerfectVT

#PerfectVT | Eco-Mothering

Last month, a friend and I headed up to Vermont for a blogger retreat (a.k.a. weekend getaway). Like all moms, I’d been feeling the need for some time away, ideally spent soaking in nature or indulging in awesome food and spa-like activities. And, except for the spa bit, I found it all in the tiny town of Pittsfield, just north of Killington, Vermont. I discovered the area through my hosts, Tom and Erlin, the founders of Perfect Vermont Retreats. The young couple organizes fitness and nature retreats (for corporations, groups of friends, wedding parties and families) where they  “challenge guests to get outdoors, live consciously and experience life simplified.” Such a retreat might involve yoga classes, guided biking tours, hikes on 30 miles of mountain trails or “re-wilding” instruction from an expert on foraging and wilderness survival. Pretty cool, huh? I love that Tom and Erlin’s business is run as an ongoing … Continue reading

Top 5 Creative Uses for Snow

Creative Uses for Snow | Eco-Mothering.com

Snow. We get enough of it here in New England, which got me to thinking… there must be something more we can do with snow than simply shovel it. So here are five fun and sustainable ideas for winter’s white gift. Make Ice Cream Of course! Sofie and I will have to try this recipe from Sharon Glasgow during our next snowfall.  Water Your Plants Why waste water from the faucet when you get it for free right outside your door? Collect clean snow in buckets, allow it to melt (by placing it near a radiator or sunny window), and use it to water your houseplants or clean the house. If you boil the snow after its melted, you could even use it for cooking. Store Extra Food If you’re hosting a party and run out of room in the fridge, you can place the food inside coolers and bury them in … Continue reading

Top 5 Tips for Nurturing Wildlife in Winter

Nurturing Wildlife in Winter | Eco-Mothering.com

We may stay nice and cozy in our heated houses stocked with store-bought food, but our furry friends have a harder time finding food and shelter in winter. Here are a few simple things you can do to help them out. Provide Food Plant native trees and bushes in your yard that offer their own fruits (berries, seeds, acorns). Leave your Jack-o-Lantern out after Halloween, as we do, and watch squirrels dig into it. Offer feed such as black-oil sunflower seed, cardinal mixes or peanuts that appeals to a wide variety of winter birds. Stop the Yard Work Don’t trim your dead plants and flowers until spring because many animals use the branches, twigs and seedheads for food or protection in winter. Leave flowerpots turned upside down to provide a safe spot for toads and newts. Some plants that wildlife are particularly fond of include: sedums, black-eyed Susans, sunflowers, zinnias, … Continue reading

Top 5 Health Benefits of Sunshine

Heath Benefits of Sunshine | Eco-Mothering.com

I just LOVE the smell of clothes that have been drying in the sun: fresh, outdoorsy and warm to the skin. Lately, I’ve taken to hanging my bath towel outside every day, and that dank odor it often acquires has completely disappeared! Why? Because the sun’s rays kill off the bacteria that contribute to mildew smells. This exciting discovery caused me to look into other amazing powers of sunshine. It helps our body make Vitamin D. This vitamin is essential for strengthening bones and teeth, supporting the immune system, losing excess fat, protecting the brain against dementia and decreasing asthma symptoms. In recent years (perhaps due to excessive sunscreen usage and increased indoor activities), there is concern among healthcare professionals about a vitamin D deficiency in children. And a 2007 study showed that not getting enough sunlight (vitamin D) actually increases our risk of cancer by 70%! It’s a natural … Continue reading