By on June 26th, 2008

What better way to celebrate Earth Hour with your kids than with a little Dr. Seuss? Including an earth friendly bedtime story in your monthly earth hour ritual is a great way to get kids on the green page. And no, I’m not talking about serving green eggs and ham for a bedtime snack. This Saturday, my family will be delving into The Lorax, a seventies classic which was once denounced by the American logging industry. This colourful story, is a great way to introduce children to the dangers associated with consumption.

In this story a young boy learns about a fluffy tree called the Truffula that once grew wild in a forest and provided a home for numerous Suessy creatures. A man named the “Once-ler” explains to the child how he discovered that the fluffy Truffula tree could be used for knitting “Thneeds” (objects that all people need). Despite protests from “the Lorax” the Once-ler watches his business grow and grow until the sky turns grey and there is only one seed left.

As with all Seuss books, The Lorax can be enjoyed at different levels by children and adults of all ages. This book may be the key to convincing your children (or spouse) that they don’t thneed anything new to play with this summer. Maybe they will be inspired to help you plants some seeds beneath the blue sky instead of going shopping.

Other Recommended Reading for Kids

Here are a few other kids’ stories that deal with ecological concerns. Look for these in your local libary or bookstore, and make sure to have one on hand at the end of each month for Earth Hour.

Recycle Every Day By Nancy Elizabeth Wallace
A bunny named Minna has a school assignment to make a poster about recycling.

The Great Trash Bash By Loreen Leedy.
Mayor Hippo and his animal citizens investigate the trash problems in Beaston.

The Tower to the Sun By Colin Thompson
A rich grandfather decides to build a tower so that his grandson can see how the sun once looked before air pollution took over the world.

Uno’s Garden By Graeme Base
Adorable creatures, including lumpybums and frinklepods welcome Uno into their garden. Life is beautiful until the tourists settle in and take over. What becomes of the Snortlepig?

Make Current

By on June 15th, 2008

Ever thought about traveling to the olive groves of Marrakech? How does a boutique hotel called Peacock Pavilions sound? Designed by an American couple who dreamed of opening a guesthouse far far away, the opening of Peacock Pavilions this coming November is a fairytale come true. Thousands of readers already know more than they could ever ask about these fantasy suites, via the award winning blog, My Marrakesh which has been documenting the family’s journey since 2006. For those who haven’t been there to see the story unfolding, you’ll be happy to learn that Peacock Pavilions is an eco-friendly building.

Though it can boast of 300 days or more of sunshine each year, Marrakech only receives 4 inches of annual rainwater. As the family describes in their website, this should be a major cause of concern for olive growers. However, most native farmers take part in a wasteful practice of flooding their land. While Maryam and her husband Chris adore Marrakech and its culture, they were not comfortable with this practice: “Soon after buying our olive grove, we installed a drip system to irrigate our trees and plants. With this technique each dripper puts out about 1 gallon of water on the ground per hour. The water slowly seeps in the ground with almost no evaporation. We also use grey water for irrigation.”

Maryam admits that it is next to impossible to go fully “green” in Marrakech. She cautions guests that there won’t be environmentally friendly linens to sleep in or hybrid cars to rent. You may not even be able to recycle your cans or bottles there. However, this family is doing its best to incorporate green initiatives, and we can only hope that their local neighbors and international guests will notice their efforts and be inspired to take their own step in the green direction.

Not only does Peacock Pavilions give everyone permission to chase big dreams, this family serves as a good reminder that it aint easy being green. Yet, if we all do our part, (including our youngest tadpoles) we’ll have a cleaner pond to swim in.

Peacock Pavilions opens in November 2008 and is currently taking reservations. Why not go and hug an olive tree?

List of Green Initiatives (www.peacockpavilons.com):
To reduce electric energy consumption and carbon output, Peacock Pavilions also incorporates the following elements:

  • Insulation in the walls and on the roofs more vulnerable to heat gain or loss. This step is almost always skipped in Marrakech, because of the extra costs entailed.
  • Aluminum windows with air tight seals.
  • Rumsford fireplaces which radiate more heat into a room and less up the chimney. We may just be the only people in Marrakech with these.
  • Radiant floor heating. Hot air passes through pipes buried in the concrete floor slabs. The heat is then radiated into the room over a period of hours. This is more efficient than heating air, and nicer for the feet, too. So rare is radiant heating in Marrakech that people have been trooping though Peacock Pavilions to ask Architect Chris how to install it.
  • Air conditioning through evaporative cooling. This system draws 70% less energy than conventional air conditioners and is well adapted for arid climate. Used frequently in the southwest of the US, evaporative coolers blow a mist of water over a filter and then air is passed through the filter. Air temperature can be reduced as much as 30 degrees F.
  • Solar water heater panels. Hot water for our own house and our 3 bedroom Pavilion is provided by the Moroccan sun, with back-up provide by instant gas heaters (no need to keep kettle warm when no one is drinking).
  • Primarily fluorescent lights. Why use 75 watts when 20 watts will do the same job? (California plans to ban sale of incandescent light bulbs by 2012. What a concept…!)

Make Current

By on June 12th, 2008

As the environment continues to show its wear and tear, “eco-community” will likely become a household name. Yesterday CNN featured a sneak peak at some of the up and coming regions racing to become the world’s first zero emissions zone. At the front of the race is Dockside Green in Canada’s own Victoria, BC, which has already opened its first phase of residential suites. A quick look at the plans and one will see that the builders of Dockside Green are going much further than energy efficient light bulbs and energy saver washers. They also guarantee residents 100% fresh air inside the buildings and are committed to reusing at least 90% of their construction waste. Go Victoria!

Make Current

By on June 3rd, 2008

A high school teacher I know showed “The Story of Stuff” to a group of students the other day. It’s nothing they probably didn’t already know (except maybe some scary statistics that are worse than most people realize), but the way it is presented really makes you want to stop shopping for anything that is not a necessity. My favorite part was about how women were once valued for how thrifty they were…

www.storyofstuff.com

Make Current

By on May 31st, 2008

We just returned from a trip to Ontario, where I”m proud to report that recycling is in much fuller swing than it is here in the Okanagan. With a house full of B.C. guests, my father was constantly pointing to various containers for this and that type of garbage. One for paper products, one for food waste, one for plastics and one for

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regular garbage. I was impressed how little “garbage” there actually was (and also that it only gets picked up every other week). One of the main items that filled up the actual garbage container (especially while we were there with small kids) was packaging from foods.

I”m not sure about other families, but in our household, breakfast is the main event. We go through a lot of cereal, and while the cardboard boxes are recyclable, the inner best casino bonuses bags generally end up in the trash. To get around this problem I have stopped buying freezer bags and started reusing the bags that hold our kids” favourite cereals. These inner bags are sturdy and large and work well for holding baking and other portioned food for the freezer. And, even though the cardboard is recyclable, I”m trying to teach my kids that it is a good idea to reuse before we recycle. After all, the recycling process from start to finish still requires some major energy sucking. My four year old loves to cut things out, so instead of always buying plastic or stuffed toys of her favourite characters or animals (speaking of excess packaging) we draw the latest Backyardigan or My Little Pony and she colours it, cuts it out, and adds it to her cardboard collection. While this may sound too good to be true, she often takes these lovable friends to Show and Tell with her.

Tomorrow is the last Saturday of the month, and my family will be observing Earth Hour again. In case you”re new to Talk Green, please take a moment to read our monthly plan. We”d love if you would join us in encouraging kids to care for the earth by designating a no power hour in your household at the end of each month. If you”re planning on having an Earth Hour with your kids, ask them to go on a tour of the house with you while you unplug all of the power suckers for the night before putting them to bed.

Next month we will be suggesting some Earth Friendly storybooks for kids.

Make Current

By on May 2nd, 2008

At 8pm on March 29th 2008, people around the world showed the earth a little love. Initiated by Sydney’s effort in 2007, Earth Hour became a global movement this year, with millions turning off their electricity and appliances to take a stand against human-induced climate change. While the media hype was focused on the darkened city skylines and landmarks, little mention was made of the young children who forfeited their night lights and lullabies in the bedtime hour.

An article in the Sydney Herald today reported that two thirds of women took part in Earth Hour, while men (especially older, single men) showed much less interest. The report also suggested that the majority of Australian households with children took part while those without kids were less likely. If you are a parent like me, and you took the time to participate in Earth Hour with your family, I have to assume you got more back than you sacrificed. Not only was Earth Hour a great excuse to teach our children earth-friendly practices, it was also an opportunity to bond and make life-lasting memories. Whether you played a board game by candle light, watched the sunset from a window, or read a bedtime story on the front porch, chances are you remember that evening better than the one before.

Most mothers I know became more environmentally alert after having children. The reason young families were quick to participate in Earth Hour is obvious. We want our children and their children to inherit the Earth we know and love. Instead of accusing elders or singles for not caring enough, why not take a stand to show that we parents care more?

If you’re a parent who is serious about raising earth friendly kids, consider celebrating Earth Hour once a month instead of once a year. Does the last Saturday of the month work for you? If not, pick a different day. Hand your child a green marker and ask him or her to mark your calendar! Talk Green.ca will issue a monthly Earth Hour reminder in the last week of each month. Visit regularly for tips and suggestions on how to help your children maintain tiny carbon footprints as they grow.

Please take a moment to comment if you plan to participate. Thank you!

Make Current