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Welcome! Our blog focuses on environmental conservation, education, green living & wildlife rescue! We have put together links to resources, books and information to help you and your children learn more about these topics. Please feel free to comment on any items posted. Rate or review us on NetworkedBlogs (Facebook app) & Blogged. Tell your friends about us. Follow us on Twitter and other sites listed on this page. There's a banner & widget if you would like to include us on your webpage. All we ask is that you please keep any comments here G-rated for the kids!

NOTE: The birds & squirrel pictured at the top of this page and in the slideshow below are just a few that I have helped rehabilitate.
WARNING: Please do not touch a wild animal, especially the young ones. If you remove a baby from it's home, sometimes the mother is just off getting it's baby food and will be back.

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Monday, August 31, 2009

A second compost bin - don't wait for Christmas, honey

I'm a garden geek. My son calls me a green freak. My daughter? You'll see.

My husband, while he doesn't actively seek out green behaviors, supports my green proclivities. In fact, he brought home my first composter and later bought me a small city-girl sized pitchfork to go with it. Lately I've been hinting that I need a second compost bin. "What's wrong with this one?" he asked. I answered him, "Nothing's wrong with it; it's full."

That was in May. Luckily, compost shrinks (compacts) as it decomposes, making room for more. Now it's August, and the bin is filled to the brim with organic matter. It needs stirring, and then I'd really like to leave it alone for a full year - a full twelve months or more. That means next spring I would not empty the bin and till it into the garden soil; I'd let nature take its course until spring 2011 instead, giving everything a better chance to decompose completely. But meanwhile, where would my kitchen scraps and yard waste go? Enter the new composter.

My new composter is smaller and cuter than my big beautiful bin. It has some nice features, too. This composter has a base and an insert to keep the solids off the bottom and let the liquids, the "compost tea," drain off, and a spigot in front for collection. Compost tea makes a great fertilizer, I've been told.

When I want to empty the compost, I simply open the back. It stays open nicely, which will make it simple to shovel the rich soil enhancer into my wheelbarrow.

The holes in the sides have purpose: they allow air to circulate and speed up the process, and the holes are big enough that I can poke a broom handle or stick inside to aerate the compost itself. And last, I mentioned it's somewhat smaller than my old one. It's still a hefty size - big enough to fit a college senior inside. Yes, that's La Petite, modeling the new composter for all of my lovely readers.

This great new composter is from Algreen Products. It's available at As soon as I decide where to place it, I'll post more pictures! Then I'll fill it with kitchen scraps and weeds and other organic goodies, and let the compost happen - naturally.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Right Way to Rescue

Make sure if you ever help take in an orphan animal that you understand what you are doing and if you don't, inquire and find someone that can help you!

This weekend was "squirrel rescue weekend," and I can't emphasize it enough: Make sure that you keep the animal warm and hydrated! 1st of course is getting the animal warm, then hydrating. Another issue is what you feed that animal that you take in.

The squirrels that I got today and last night had been fed kitten replacer milk, while puppy milk (Esbilac) is actually the closest thing to a squirrels milk. So if you, or someone you know takes in a squirrel (or other animal), please get it to an appropriately licensed rehabber who knows how to properly care for them right away. Often what happens, is a person will take in one of these orphaned animals with good intentions and plans to raise them on their own. Then a few days or maybe a week later we will get a call stating that they found a squirrel and that they have had it for a given number of days, and the squirrel seems ill. By the time they they actually seek help for it, it can often be too late!

So, please let anyone that you may know that takes in an animal to properly research and inquire on the care of the animal. In these times we are blessed with the availability of technology and being able to pretty much google any topic that we want to learn about. Here is one link that may help if someone ever gets into this situation: - Has information for the care of orphaned squirrels and supplies (if needed)


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Recycling For One

If you thought cooking for one was difficult, just imagine how hard it can be recycling for one person! Yes, you're thinking: What?! There's so much less waste to account for! Sorting it and rinsing it would take so much less time!

You're right about those few things, but there are also several other elements to consider when living alone while trying to maintain a green initiative. I know it’s tough to look in the mirror and think that you, just one individual on a planet of billions, can do much that makes a difference. So I’ve been pondering what the value is — or is not — to my vigilance in recycling. Can I make a difference? Is my effort worth anything to the planet, especially in the face of so many non-believers who assume apathy to be the only medicine?

The first issue to consider is whether or not your apartment building or complex actually allows and participates in a recycling program. In single family homes, no more than 70 percent have access to curbside recycling. You may be passionate about separating your recyclables, but that doesn’t guarantee that your apartment manager feels the same way. Where I live, it seems that not many of my neighbors recycle, but starting the process in my townhouse was very doable.

Most cities offer various resources to help apartment complexes start recycling, and so did Bowling Green. All I had to do was take a quick trip to City Hall and request a recycling bin (which I didn't necessarily have to do, but I wanted it so that my neighbors could also visibly see that it was an option instead of using the dumpster.) Because I live alone, I am able to conveniently sort the contents of the bin when I arrive at the Recycling Center (which is paid for by the city and only about a mile from where I live.) The only unfortunate aspect about it's location is that it might be difficult for individuals to access if they do not drive (it's on the outskirts of town.)

What are some of the hurdles you must overcome so that you are able to recycle?

Does anyone find it as difficult as I do to commit to recycling when living alone?

To allow myself the peace of mind about cutting down on waste, I always try to consider that every last item that we don't throw away can be considered one small step towards a greener planet:

And remember, without you, it's all just trash!

Until next Wednesday! Cheers! -BA

Monday, August 24, 2009

Ten Places to Hide Zucchini

Two years ago I posted Ten Ways to Leave your Zucchini.
Last year the garden hardly produced any zucchini at all.
This year, we again have a bumper crop. Since you can simply click to find 10 Ways to Leave (and you don't have to slip out the back, Jack), I'll take another angle this time.

Beyond the Muffins: Ten Places to Hide Zucchini
1. Spaghetti sauce; the chunkier the better

2. Soup

3. Salads

4. Meatballs or Meatloaf

5. Lasagna

6. Scrambled eggs or omelets

7. Noodles/ Rice/ Orzo

8. Tacos, burritos, or quesadillas

9. Fruit cobbler or crisp

I have five, count 'em, FIVE (5!) large zucchini squash in the kitchen right now. I've already frozen quite a bit; these must be cooked or baked soon. Would you believe, I just baked chocolate zucchini bread muffins, too?

Friday, August 21, 2009

Grand Rapids, MI - Response to "The Answer is Blowing on the Wind"

This is a response to my fellow author BA’s post “The Answer is Blowing in the Wind” issued on August, 19, 2009. I could not put this in the comment section with her as there was too much to talk about when it comes to Grand Rapids, Michigan! Please see the links listed for more information.

An initiative by the City of Grand Rapids has been in place since 2005. Since than many things have occurred!

The newly renovated Grand Rapids Public School buildings or newly built schools have went greener (Some getting LEED certification)- Click HERE for more info. Businesses have been doing the same.
We have the nations first LEED Certified:
YMCA - Link
Art Museum - Link
Multi-modal transit center - The Rapid Link
Other Firsts - Click Here
We also has more LEED-certified buildings per capita than any other city in the U.S. and we are third overall. Grand Rapids currently has 1 Platinum, 8 Gold, 11 Silver LEED Certified buildings (49 total) and with a total Registered Project list of 101 Buildings/projects. LEED Certified Projects (Type in Grand Rapids, Michigan)

Grand Rapids ranked 20th on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) list of cities with the most ENERGY STAR qualified buildings in 2008. At last count had 42 ENERGY STAR qualified buildings within it's greater metropolitan area. More Info

Our public transit has also went green with hybrid-electric buses. HERE you can read about the Green Grand Rapids initiative.

The City of Grand Rapids, MI has also reached its goal of having a 20 percent renewable energy supply - Read More

The City of Grand Rapids is among the first municipalities in the United States to begin using a new trash can liner made with 70 percent post-consumer recycled (PCR) material. The PCR content in the Greencore Can Liners™ far exceeds plastics industry goals, reducing the carbon footprint by as much as 40 percent. Link to story

Grand Rapids, MI Renewable Energy - More Info

The City of Grand Rapids Waste Water Treatment Plant (GRWWTP) is one of only 15 platinum level members nationwide of the National Biosolids Partnership in Environmental Management Systems and is currently finalizing the new dewatering system for biosolids. More

Grand Rapids is a Member EPA's Green Power Partnership The Top Rankings-Local Government

There is a lot more to Grand Rapids’ commitment to the environment, but it is time to let others shine as well! They deserve kudos for the work they have done and plan on doing!

As a side note here is a link to a Popular Science article on the 50 greenest cities in the United States. Unfortunately, Grand Rapids did not make this list.

I am proud of this city and I hope more cities will follow suit or at least set a good example for others! Again, I ask our dear readers the question that BA asked: To what extent is your own state addressing alternative energy sources such as wind energy?

Websites where this information was located:
City of Grand Rapids
Sustainable GR
Grand Rapids Public Schools
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
State of Michigan
Integrated Architecture
U.S. Green Building Council – West Michigan Chapter
My Midwest Magazine (Article was written in January of 2008)
U.S. Green Building Council – Build Green Schools
Popular Science

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Answer is Blowing in the Wind

I happen to live in an area that has a good amount of "green living" potential. Bowling Green has made a financial commitment to reducing its impact on global climate change and is home to Ohio’s first utility-sized wind farm. There are four turbines that are 391 feet tall, which can generate up to 7.2 megawatts of power (enough to supply electricity for some 3,000 residents.) Located about six miles from the city, the turbines can be seen for miles and have become somewhat of a local attraction... I've visited the area and couldn't believe how surreal they seemed. They were very futuristic, without any noise, and with a very slow-moving rotation. Way cool.

At the site, a solar-powered kiosk provides information for visitors including current information on wind speeds and the amount of energy being produced by the turbines... and get this: through the city of Bowling Green Municipal Utilities, residents can request that their power come from green energy! I'm going to have to look into this! The current "power cost adjustment" is $.009 per KWH.

Over the past 15 years, Bowling Green, has gone somewhat greener, installing solar panels on schools, building the wind farm, investing in hydroelectric projects and even generating power off landfill gases.Today, the city of 29,000 residents gets somewhere between 16 percent and 20 percent of its electricity from renewable resources (which could be augmented even further.) Yet, I find it interesting that it does not necessarily stack up to the intiatives of other MidWestern states, nor does it compare to other regions within the US. Take a look at a graph that displays the varying degrees of current installed wind power facilities across the country here.

To what extent is your own state addressing alternative energy sources such as wind energy?

Until next Wednesday! -BA

Monday, August 17, 2009

Mistakes, again. Can I fix this one?

My goal this year: rather than increase the size of my garden , I planned to do more with the existing space. Most of the plants did well -- the tomatoes didn't.
Last year the tomatoes grew much larger than their cages, breaking on the wire and flopping on the ground, where tomatoes (still growing!) would begin to rot. The poor pepper plants behind them were struggling to get any sunshine at all.
This year I moved the peppers in front of the tomatoes and planted the tomatoes around a taller coated trellis so I could tie them up with cloth as needed. Unfortunately, I planted too many and put them too close together. They're fighting for water and nutrition out of a relatively small piece of soil. Even the drainage and the extra calcium I provided (shredded paper and eggshells) couldn't make up for the crowding.
I pulled out three plants that were really struggling and transplanted them into a large planter near my deck. They get more sun here, and despite the limited space, they're doing much, much better now that they don't have to fight the other taller and larger plants. Will they flower and produce tomatoes? I don't know. If I'd left these in the back with the others, they were dying. They would not have survived to make fruit.
Next year we have plans for a smaller separate plot -- just for tomatoes. We'll see what happens then! But for now, I'll wait and see what kind of tomatoes I can enjoy on my BLTs in a few weeks - or hopefully, sooner.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

"Dirt Is Alive and It Eats Poop"

This is probably one of the first funny environmental idioms that I can remember my Dad saying. When my sisters and I would help him in the family garden as kids, he would always interject some type of long-standing knowledge concerning the task at hand. Picking rocks and weeding were never that fulfilling for us, but at least Dad was funny.

Thinking back to his phrase, I realize there was a lot to learn from that. Without the microorganisms in the dirt, things would not decompose, which would mean other things would not grow, which, consequently, means none of us would be living. Dirt, soil, and sand are pretty amazing in that they can be molded into the shapes we or nature desires; and there is nothing like sinking your hands into rich, loose soil, and feeling it slip between your fingers. I have always enjoyed walking around barefoot for this specific reason. I like to feel the ground under my feet and in between my toes.

There are a lot of health benefits and psychological advantages to being more engaged with the earth as well. Scientists are finding that playing in the dirt, with it’s friendly bacteria, can boost the immune system as well as help to increase the brain’s “happiness” chemical, serotonin. The results so far suggest that simply inhaling these bacteria could help elicit a positive state of mind. One is able to get a dose of feeling good just by taking a walk on the beach or by rooting around in a flower pot.

Anyway, it seems almost sad that we might need a book to give us ideas on how to engage kids with nature and the environment, but we welcome I Love Dirt nonetheless. It can be purchased here.

"To forget how to dig the earth and to tend the soil is to forget ourselves." -Mohandas Gandhi

Until next Wednesday, Cheers! -BA

Monday, August 10, 2009

Vegetarian Diet

Summer time is the best for those who are vegetarians - more fresh food for us to eat. For me, I am actually what you would call a Octo-Lacto Vegetarian because I still eat eggs and cheese (although I do not like milk.) I have a garden that consists of many plants, but due to my neighbors tree it has not been getting as much sun as I would have hoped. Therefore, my lettuce and my tomatoes are striving, but the rest are not. Luckily for me though I have my mom and her boyfriends garden that I can raid! Today, I was able to get an abundance of yellow and green beans. Most of which have been blanched and put in the freezer for storage. I love harvesting the veggies and being able to store them. That way I know I will be able to eat some cheaper - organic food during the winter months.

My favorite to store I would have to say is probably zucchini, because I love to make bread and other dishes with them ;) I thought that I would share one of my favorite recipes that I like to make that I experimented with until I got the exact flavor consistency that I love (It's quick and easy) :

2 small zucchini's - diced
2 medium sized tomatoes - diced
1 yellow pepper - diced
1 red pepper - diced
1 green pepper - diced
1/2 red onion - diced
3 sweet basil leaves - finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic - minced
1/2 cup of lite Italian dressing
1/4 cup Feta cheese

1st I just cut all the veggies and throw them in a bowl, then the garlic and Basil. I add mix in the dressing, then throw it in the fridge for an hour, then add the Feta. Then you have a quick and easy dish on the side or for me a meal!!!

I have many salads that I make up in the summer, but this one is my fav! ENJOY!!!

'Tis the season for Zucchini!!

They start looking like this.
Then they get a little bigger, like this.

And finally, they look like this!

Mmm, zucchini.
The first two ended up sliced thin and sauted. Next? Maybe a zucchini bread or cake.
After that? Time to look for a few creative recipes and start filling the freezer!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

GreenSpot-On Wildlife Q & A #6

Welcome to the Sixth Issue of the GreenSpot-On Wildlife Q & A! Here are questions I received from a students from the University of Oregon, C.A. Frost Environmental Science Academy in Grand Rapids, MI and others along with my answers! Please keep the questions coming as I am running out!

Question: Can you come to my school and show us some animals?
Name: Iain Age: 6
Grade: 1 School: C.A. Frost Environmental Science Academy, Grand Rapids, MI

Answer: I would love to, unfortunately, in order for me to be able to come to your school I would have to have an educational permit that would allow me to do that. At this time, I do not hold that type of permit. But, when I do, I would love to come and show your school some animals!!!


Question: Could you explain what a person should do if they find a baby animal with no mother or father around?
Name: Chi Age: 32
Location: Grand Rapids, MI

Answer: It depends really on the situation. If the animal is injured then you would want to contact a rehabber or the local DNR. In the case of an uninjured animal that is not an orphan, you would want to leave it so that it's mommy and daddy can continue to care for it. Often with fawn's (as well as other baby animals) people think that they have been abandoned by their parents, when actually the mom and dad are just off getting food.


Question: If i can post a question, what is the most exotic animal you've ever taken care of?
Name: Sam Age: 20
Grade: College School: University of Oregon State

Answer: Being in Michigan, there aren't many animals that are considered to be "exotic" here in the wild. We have taken in foxes and bobcats before. Bobcats are actually more rare for us to see that the foxes.


Most of these animals are pictured in the slideshow on the main page.

If you have children, are a student/adult or wildlife lover and you would like to ask a question about any of these animals, please send an e-mail to JRouse. Include the following information in your e-mail:

Question: (Question for JRouse)
Name: (First Name) Age: (Age)
Grade: (Grade Level of Student) School-City/State: (School Name - Location: City/State)

Up to 3 questions will be answered during each issue of the GreenSpot-On Wildlife Q & A, so it may take time for your question to be answered. Subscribe to GreenSpot-On's feed by Email to get the Issues & other posts straight to your inbox!New to GreenSpot-On: Videos! You can get to them by scrolling down on our main page and click on the videos or you can go to the following page to see our videos: Click here

JRouse @ GreenSpot-On
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Friday, August 7, 2009

Children & Nature

I thought it might be neat to give a child's perspective. I decided to interview my oldest son who has been exposed to the outdoors and nature since he was a baby for this post.

~~~begin interview~~~

How old are you?

What are your favorite things to do in the summer?
Swimming, fishing, seeing baby turkeys, camping, helping my aunt feed animals.

When you go for walks in the woods, what did you see?
Deer, baby turkeys with their mommy's, butterflies, toads, dragonflies, white moths, deer tracks and poop on the deer trails, trees.

What did you learn?
There are little streams in the woods. There was lots of mud that the deer made tracks in. We found one deer antler that came off a deer that shed it's antlers. We didn't find the other one.

What should a kid do if they find a baby bird that is out of it's nest?
You should leave it where it is, because it's mommy and daddy might be out getting it food.

What will happen if a person touches a baby bird they found?
It could die, because it's mommy and daddy will not come back if the baby bird smells like people.

What should people do if they have trash and they aren't near a trash can?
Go find one or put it in your pocket till you can get to one. Ask mommy or daddy if you can recycle it.

Why do we want to keep our trash off the ground?
It's not good for the ground or animals.

Thank you for letting me interview you.
Thank you for interviewing me.

Would you like to say anything else to our readers?
Look at the videos and pictures that my mommy, my aunt and I took. They are cool!

~~~end of interview~~~

I would like to thank you readers for continuing to support GreenSpot-On by subscribing to our feed by email and other mediums, rating and reviewing us on Blogged and Networked Blogs (Facebook) and following us! We hope you enjoy our posts and continue to read them. Leave a comment, we look forward to hearing from you!

Khrys @ GreenSpot-On

New to GreenSpot-On: Videos! You can get to them by scrolling down on our main page and click on the videos or you can go to the following page to see our videos: Click here
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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

What does "green" mean anyway?

Good morning readers! My name is Jenny (aka "BA") and I will be contributing to GreenSpot-On on Wednesdays. I have been interested in nature writing, ecocritcism, and various other environmental issues for some time now. I live in Bowling Green, OH (I KNOW! Very appropriate/ironic location considering the blog's main topics right!?) and I'm studying for my PhD in Communication Studies... and even though I've lived here over a year now, I still consider my heart to be in Michigan. That's where I grew up and spent so much time outdoors. I hope to relocate there after I've finished my dissertation. Other introductory information that you might like to learn about me can be gathered at my personal blog:

or my professional website:

But enough about me... on to the elusive meaning of "green." I'm quite sure this notion has been considered by various other bloggers, environmentalists, etc., yet I'd also like to address it here. What does it mean to you? Are there varying levels of "green" living and/or "green" products? Is this just a lifestyle choice or a unobtainable goal?

These questions occupy my thoughts every time I throw something in the recycling bin outside my door. Different federal institutions as well as various corporations intend to impress us with the meanings and underlying reasons why we should go green or greener, but I'm always curious as to what/why green is framed in a certain way. Here are a few prominent links that attempt to impress upon the masses what "green" means:

Out of these sites, which are legitimate, long-standing, and credible? Do they all stand to benefit or profit in some way? These are the types of questions that we should be asking and hopefully encourage our children to ask. I'd love to see how kids would respond! Here is a video of how adults (who, consequently, are also preaching about their sustainable products) conceive of the word "green":

What does green mean to you?

What does green mean to you? from Babe Elliott Baker on Vimeo.

Warren Wilson College Mountain Green 2009 Sustainability Conference

Anyway, these are just a few random thoughts. To me, the idea of going "green" is a means for us all to strive for. Even the most ridiculous stuff I throw away is seriously pored over, because I never know where the waste I create is going. Understandably "green" is a mindset that I believe can be adopted, yet should be thoroughly pondered. In my lifetime I've witnessed many ecological decisions rendered in terms of the "green" moralistic platform, but they are sometimes weaker than what were intended.

For next week's blog, I'd like to foreshadow with a quote from my dad: "Dirt is alive and it eats poop."

Cheers- BA

Monday, August 3, 2009

Give Peas a Chance!

Last year my pea plants looked like this. I made the mistake of planting them behind the beans. The beans hogged all, and I mean all, the sun.

This year I made several changes to the layout of my garden with the sun in mind. The main change moved tomatoes to the back with peppers in front of them and beans to the back with peas immediately in front of the bean trellis.
With those simple changes, the results have been great! It's the first year I've successfully grown peas. In the past, a tall tomato cage has been enough support. This year they've far overgrown the wire cages, leaving me wishing I'd set up a second trellis. Oh, well, next year. But the best part of successful pea plants is, of course, the peas.

Peas and their pods; I can't wait to cook supper!