International Polar Bear Day This Weekend

February 26th, 2011

Did you know that a polar bear’s hair is actually transparent? It looks white because it’s reflecting light. Older polar bears might appear yellow.

But transparent, white or yellow, you can celebrate these amazing bears this weekend.

International Polar Bear Day is this Sunday, February 27, and Polar Bears International gives you some ideas for how to help these beautiful, threatened creatures.

Don’t forget to tweet about International Polar Bear Day with the hashtag #pbday.

Are polar bears really in trouble?

Yes. Sadly, only about 25,000 polar bears remain in the wild. The population of polar bears is declining due to poaching and pollution. And, of course, the biggest long-term threat to the bears is global warming, which is destroying the sea ice that polar bears depend on for hunting food. (Source: NWF)

Lower Your Carbon Footprint for Polar Bears in Three Steps

  1. Carpool or bike whenever possible.
  2. Turn down the thermostat.
  3. Buy local. Fall in love with your farmer’s market. Demand that your grocer carry local produce too.

(Image: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

Recycled Birdhouse for an Eco-friendly Spring

February 24th, 2011

I finally hung the birdhouse I received as a Christmas gift. It was made from reclaimed materials by a vendor at a local farmer’s market. It’s my spring gift to the birds!

If you’re looking for a new birdhouse, then please spend some time hunting down a recycled or reclaimed birdie dwelling.

You’re likely to have luck at Etsy. Just do a search for “recycled birdhouses,” and you’ll see lots of options, including houses made of pine needles and license plates. Also, don’t forget trying to go local by checking out craft fairs and farmer’s markets.

For more inspiration, you really must check out the awesome Top 10 Recycled Birdhouses post over at greenopolis! One of the houses even uses an old shoe.

Time Out for Working Dogs

February 21st, 2011

If you’re looking for something fun and informative to watch tonight (especially if you’re a dog lover), then check out Nat Geo WILD for “Blue-Collar Dogs.”

The show follows the canine specialists as they work hard in fields like medicine, policing and border patrol.

El Paso, TX: Elite BORSTAR canine team prepares to demonstrate a fast rope training exercise. (Photo credit:  © Tristan Walker)

Details: “Blue-Collar Dogs” premieres Monday, February 21 at 8PM ET/PT on Nat Geo WILD. If you tune in, please come back to share your thoughts on these hard-working dogs. Continue reading »

Frank and Corn Crown via 1965

February 12th, 2011

CNN dared me to do this.

But seriously I love reading cooking suggestions from ads in magazines from the 30s through the 60s. I’ve always been tempted to try a recipe, but am usually too grossed out.

Tonight, I suppose going out to buy cream-style corn and frankfurters was entertaining. I can’t remember the last time I bought either, but I’m positive I’ve never bought them both at the same time, especially on a Friday night.

Why do this on a green blog? Perhaps to celebrate how Better Homes and Gardens no longer publishes a “meat cook book,” where the Frank and Corn Crown made its debut. At least I hope they don’t!

For the full recipe and the vintage Frank and Corn Crown photo (to compare with my lovely creation), visit CNN: Vintage Cookbook Vault: Franks a lot!
Continue reading »

Understanding Geothermal

February 2nd, 2011

Geothermal. It’s a pretty-sounding word, but lots of us don’t know what it means. GeothermalGenuis.org is available to help you better understand this innovative and efficient system of air conditioning.

In very basic terms, geothermal heating and cooling takes advantage of the temperature under the surface of the ground to heat or cool your home using less energy. Even if you’re not ready to upgrade now, it never hurts to explore other options so you know what you want when you need it. I hate making decisions under pressure, like when you’re freezing or burning up inside your home. Eek. Continue reading »

Celebrating Wool Dryer Balls

February 1st, 2011

I’m happy to say that the wool dryer balls from Rockin’ Green do actually rock! After the disintegrating Nellie’s dryer ball experience, I’m relieved. I also gave Rockin’ Green’s detergent a whirl, so look for that review coming up soon. (Disclosure: I received free detergent samples and a couple of dryer balls from Rockin’ Green.)

What I love about the wool dryer balls available from Rockin’ Green:

  • Produce minimal noise. The softness of these balls makes the low noise level possible. I found Nellie’s balls to be super loud compared to these.
  • Soften fabric. You can skip fabric softener and still end up with soft clothes. That saves you money and helps prevent waste. Since using liquid fabric softeners may interfere with the absorbency of cloth diapers, these dryer balls are extra handy for mothers.
  • Handmade in USA with 100 percent wool. Plain and simple! 
  • Wool stays off clothes. For the most part, the wool is staying on the ball, not clothes, though I’ve found a rare strand of wool on a towel.
  • May be OK for allergies. I’m not a doctor, so I can’t guarantee these won’t bother you. Wool typically makes me itch and sneeze, but these balls haven’t bugged me.

Some things to consider when trying out these dryer balls:

  • Some static remains. The wool dryer balls will help reduce static, but you’ll still experience static on some clothes.
  • They go exploring. You might have to hunt down a ball or two when emptying the dryer. Often, they’re just hanging out in easy sight, but I sometimes find a shy ball inside a sleeve.
  • They’ll pick up lint (pictured ). Not that it’s a problem, but when you dry a new fabric, you’ll find some lint from said fabric stuck on the dryer ball. However, you don’t have to pick it off. It falls off itself later on and makes its way into the lint trap.
  • Pilling occurs. This is natural, but some materials like Velcro may cause worse pilling.

But do they reduce drying time? Word around the Internet is that the more dryer balls you use, the lower your drying time. I used just two balls. I’ve noticed a small decrease in drying time, but nothing super dramatic.

Cat lovers will note how my kitty Oscar (above) wants to use these balls for playing. Just be careful kitties don’t follow them into the dryer.

Finally, what about scent? These balls come unscented, but it’s possible to scent your own dryer balls.

How many wool dryer balls do you use?

This Spring, Try on a Natural Rug

February 1st, 2011

Does your spring cleaning involve getting new eco-friendly rugs? Replacing a worn rug with a natural fiber rug can be a good green choice.

And you can enter to win a 4×6 Elements Driftwood sisal area rug from Merida, makers of area rugs via natural, sustainable fibers for more than 30 years.

For your chance to win, you must enter before March 14, 2011.

Please note: Commenting on this post doesn’t enter you to win. You must visit the Merida website to enter.

Disclosure: Posting about this contest means I also have a chance to win one of these natural fiber rugs.

Did you know? Light Green Stairs is on Facebook!