Posts Tagged: earth day

Take a Superhero Walk!

By Aryn Henning Nichols

Originally published in the Spring 2018 Inspire(d)

I don’t know about your neighborhood, but in ours, it always seems like there’s a bit more grime and litter in the spring. It’s surely caused by wind blowing bits of trash out of cans all winter long, then burying them in snow for us to uncover come spring. Luckily, spring is the perfect time to get out of the house. The sun shines, the days are a little bit longer, and that first 60-degree day feels like it’s a mid-summer 80. We like to head out for walks, but not just any walks: Superhero Walks!

What’s a superhero walk, you ask? We’ll, let me tell you. One spring day, Roxie, Benji, and I went out for one of those springtime walks. It was beautiful! But then, up ahead, we spotted some trash. “Shoot,” I said. “I wish we had brought a bag!” Then, like magic, a bag blew across the street. Since it was a little chilly still, we had on gloves (hooray, it was more sanitary!), so we picked up the bag, put the trash in it, and commenced our walk.

In a few short blocks, that bag was full.

A funny thing happened – it made the walk even more fun, like a trash scavenger hunt. We plopped the bag full of trash into our can, and looked around with pride. Then I looked at Roxie. “You know, we were kind of like superheroes just then,” I said. She smiled a huge smile, “Yeah, totally!” And thus Superhero Walks became a thing for our family.

These days, we try to be a little more prepared so we can put on our “capes” whenever needed. Turn the page for some tips on being a Superhero Clean-up Crew in your own neighborhood.

Take a Superhero Walk

Head out into your neighborhood and pick up litter – like an earth-loving superhero!

Materials:

  1. Trash bags (plastic grocery sacks seem to work well for walks – two can be nice: One for trash, one for recycling). Tip: Always store a sack in your jacket pocket so any walk can be a Superhero Walk.
  2. Gloves – disposable plastic ones are probably a good idea, but at least little knit ones so you’re not handling germy trash with your bare hands.
  3. Eagle eyes for spotting wayward litter.
  4. A sense of adventure!

How-to:

  1. Simply walk along, watching for trash! Make sure to wear your gloves when you pick it up and put it in the appropriate bag. You can even make it a game, and the person who picks up the most trash gets a prize! Cupcakes? Brownies? A hug?
  2. Throw the trash away and put the recycling in appropriate bins, and look around at your cleaner neighborhood. Good job, superhero!

Easy! Make sure to wave hi to neighbors!

If you have kids, ask some questions while you’re walking or when you get home. Here are some ideas:

What kind of trash did you see most often? What could be done to help with that problem?

Why is it important to pick up litter?

What would our neighborhood look like if everyone littered? How would that feel?

What other ways can we take care of our neighborhoods, homes, or other spaces where we live?

Tip: Supervise kids closely – be careful on riverbanks or near roads. Have grown-ups handle dangerous items – like broken glass – or if the litter is too gross, don’t mess with it. Make sure kids know to ask grown-ups for advice on making this call.

Want to take it a step further?

Adopt a Highway
State Departments of Transportation (DOT) have ongoing partnerships with citizens to help maintain the appearance of state roadsides by making sections of roadsides available for adoption. The program also helps increase public awareness of environmental needs along highways. See your state’s DOT website for more information.

Get Social #litterati

www.litterati.org – Through this movement, more than a million pieces of trash have been Instagrammed, and then disposed of properly.

It’s pretty simple:

  1. Find a piece of litter
  2. Photograph it with Instagram
  3. Add the hashtag “#litterati”
  4. Throw away or recycle the litter

Photos of trash on the Great Wall of China inspired the design of a global map that uses GPS to display where litter hashtagged with #litterati is being collected.

“Geotags provide insight into problem areas, while keywords identify the most commonly found brands and products. This data will be used to work with companies and organizations to find more sustainable solutions,” it says on litterati.org.

Download the Litterati app to join in on the information-collecting geotagging part. (Rochester, Minnesota, is already online, but other Driftless areas may need to be added.)

According to the data collected, as of printing:
544,178 people in the US had tagged and disposed of or recycled a piece of trash.

Most commonly tagged items:
273,030 Plastic
96,990 Cigarettes

#take3forthesea
www.take3.org

This movement encourages you to simply “Take 3” pieces of trash with you when you leave the beach, waterway or…anywhere. Snap a photo and hashtag #take3forthesea to encourage others to do the same. The non-profit Take3fortheSea was established in 2009 based in Sydney, Australia. They offer educational programs to inspire the global community to help create a cleaner planet for wildlife and future generations.

Planet Vision
www.facebook.com/PlanetVisionSolutions/

On of our favorite places ever, the California Academy of Sciences, has mapped out “A Plan for the Future We Want.” They’ve offered up some solutions and ideas, zeroing-in on the main causes of our environmental challenges: food, water, energy, us.

Read Inspire(d) Spring 2019 Online!

The Spring 2019 Inspire(d) is all about planting the seeds of hope for the future!
Here’s what you’ll find:

Puentes/Bridges • La Crosse Promise • Folk Schools in the Driftless • Sum of Your Biz: Night Dive Swim • Q&A with Mollie B. • How to Make Friends as an Adult • Week of the Young Child • & More!

A note from Aryn:

I don’t know about you, but around this time of year (when I’m making the Spring Inspire(d), I suppose), I find myself thinking, “Thank freakin’ goodness; we’ve made it!” Spring!

Of course, there’s currently a blizzard outside. And there could be false spring or third winter or whatever we got last April (let’s hope not)! But I’ve got my fingers crossed for some spring-like weather, crocuses and daffodils, and open windows soon!

In the meantime, enjoy these pages of fun, positivity, and springtime vibes! We’re all about planting seeds of change with this Inspire(d). We hope to teach our kids empathy, kindness, and compassion, for starters, so that they can create a better future for themselves. This is one of the motivators behind Week of the Young Child, a national movement dedicated to spotlighting our youngest learners – learn more about local efforts in Sara Friedl-Putnam’s story on page 54.

In Maggie Sonnek’s piece about Puentes / Bridges, a Wisconsin non-profit that works to bridge the cultural gap between area farmers and their employees from Mexico, compassion and empathy are big components (pg. 34). It’s such a cool program!

Speaking of cool programs, you should definitely check out Sara Walters’ story on La Crosse Promise (pg. 58) – they offer a scholarship – up to $50,000 – to homeowners/buyers who are willing to invest in two challenged neighborhoods in La Crosse. It’s truly an innovative approach to neighborhood revitalization.

And we love the self-love that Heather Caye Brown promotes through her swimwear company, Night Dive Swim, and in this Spring’s Sum of Your Business. What better message to share with our kids than to Love Your Self?!

As for the literal seeds on the cover: You can use those for the Paper Earth Hearts Roxie and I made for this issue’s paper project (pg. 33)! We put them together on one of the many January snow days, and are thinking they’ll make great Earth Day presents for friends and neighbors this April.

Make sure not to miss Benji’s fun Q&A with polka music star Mollie B., my infographic, “How to Make Friends as an Adult” (it’s not as tricky as you think!), and a great line-up of fun events to cure your Spring Fever this year!

Thinking you need something a little more in-depth to get you out of the house? Consider signing up for a class at one of the great Folk Schools in the Driftless! Learn about offerings from Driftless Folk School, Eagle Bluff Skills School, and Vesterheim Folk Art School in Kristine Jepsen’s story on page 19.

We’ve got plenty more, too, to help keep you entertained until the snow melts and the seeds start sprouting!

Happy Spring, friends!

Looking forward,

Aryn Henning Nichols

Click here to read the Spring 2019 Inspire(d) online!

Earth Paper Seed Hearts

Looking for a fun way to celebrate Earth Day (April 22) and look forward to spring? Make these adorable earth paper seed hearts!

Supplies:

Silicone heart mold – you can also make round earths that you shape by hand if you don’t have a heart mold
Seeds – we used some I saved from last fall – mostly marigolds
Construction paper – we went with blue and green to look like earths, but you could use any colors you want
Bowls (as many as you have colors)
Sieve
Food Processor (a blender would probably work too)

First, rip the paper into bits. We used about 16 pieces of paper total (a few more blue than green since we have more water than land on earth) for the 24 earth hearts. Keep the colors in separate bowls to keep the colors separate when they go into the molds. Do a few extra pieces if you want to make some round earths too!

Fill the bowls with water to cover the paper – mush them a bit to get the paper bits separated.

Let soak for at least two hours – overnight works too!

Time for the food processor!

We found that less is better with this (I’d put a few less pieces of paper in the processor than the photo shows), and make sure to have about an inch of water at the bottom. If the processor is not happy, take some paper out and add a little more water!

It will look like this.

And then like this.

Then move the paper clumps to the sieve. Squeeze out as much water as you can!

Repeat with all your colors!

We found it got a little messy, but hopefully our mistakes can be your gains!

Once you’ve processed your paper and squished the water out, it’s time to put them in the molds! You can piece bits in to look like little earths like we did. Fill the mold to about half, and push in the center to make a little divot for the seeds. Put a few seeds in the divot. Try to keep the seeds away from the edges.

Next push paper bits on top of the seeds, paying attention to connect the edges to the bottom section especially.

Once you’ve covered all the seeds, press down on each heart with a paper towel to squeeze out even more water.

We dried these over a heat vent – they took a couple of days to be completely dry. Once they are dry, carefully pop them out of the molds. I had a couple fall apart, but most were good.

Gift them to friends on Earth Day or anyway to plant this spring!

P.S. Roxie also made a round earth with this project, putting seeds in the center the same way! See below for inspiration! Enjoy!