Archive for the 'Green Tips' Category



A Blue View: Bayscaping!

A Blue View is a weekly perspective on the life aquatic, hosted by National Aquarium CEO John Racanelli.

From the smallest plants and animals invisible to the human eye to entire ecosystems, every living thing depends on and is intricately linked by water.

Tune in to 88.1 WYPR every Tuesday at 5:45 pm as John brings to the surface important issues and fascinating discoveries making waves in the world today.

April 3, 2013: Bayscaping

A Blue View podcast

Click here to listen to John discuss the importance
of conservation-minded landscaping!

For many of us, spring means we can get our hands dirty. We bring out the mowers and the yard tools, head to the nurseries to buy seeds or plants for the garden, and enjoy spending our weekends outdoors working in the yard.

Increasingly in our region, a conservation-minded landscaping trend is taking hold. Sometimes called “bayscaping” here in the Mid-Atlantic, conservation landscaping incorporates sustainable strategies. The goal is to create an outdoor environment that reduces pollution and helps combat the contaminants that run into the Chesapeake Bay every day.

According to Blue Water Baltimore, Americans use 5 million tons of fertilizer and more than 70 million pounds of pesticides every year. Many times, these treatments are over-applied or applied at the wrong time, and they run off into our waterways.

To minimize the use of these types of garden treatments, one of the first things you can do is eliminate invasive plant species and instead incorporate native plants into your yard. Native plants are those that are naturally present in your region, while non-native species have been brought to the region at some point in history. Because native plants are uniquely adapted to a particular region, they don’t require as much water, fertilizer, or pesticides to be healthy. If you do find it necessary to use pesticides in your yard, first try alternatives, such as horticultural soaps. Pesticides not only kill the pests, but they harm other inhabitants of your yard as well.

Another key goal of bayscaping is the establishment of your green space as a dynamic wildlife habitat. According to the Chesapeake Conservation Landscaping Council, minimizing the amount of lawn and replacing it with layers of plants—including trees, shrubs, and perennials—make yards wildlife friendly by providing a variety of shelter. Less lawn also means less mowing, which is another environmental plus. It’s also important to provide year-round water and food sources for your yard inhabitants.

Incorporating bayscaping strategies may mean that your yard doesn’t look like your neighbor’s, but that’s not a bad thing. Take the opportunity to educate them about sustainable landscaping practices. You may start a neighborhood trend that the Chesapeake Bay will thank you for!

Once your yard is bayscaped, there are several certification programs that will validate your conservation efforts. To achieve Bay-Wise certification, a Master Gardener will assess your property and give your yard a score. You can also create a National Wildlife Federation Certified Wildlife Habitat by providing appropriate shelter, food, and water for the animals in your yard!

DIY Craft: Make a Kite out of Recycled Materials!

The Blossom Kite Festival is an annual event that takes place during the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C., where kite fliers can show off their skills and compete for awards, while spectators get to watch the beautiful kites fill the air. This year’s Blossom Kite Festival will be held on March 30th and National Aquarium, Washington, DC have a booth on the National Mall where visitors can make their own aquatic-themed windsocks out of recycled materials!

If you can’t join the festivities in D.C., you can still participate with this kid-friendly craft! Here’s how you can make your very own “green” kite, using recycled and household materials:

Materials:

  • Plastic grocery bag
  • String
  • Any thin sticks
  • Tape
  • Scissors
  • Marker
  • Popsicle stick
  • Ruler or other straight edge

Instructions:

  1. Make the frame of your recycled kite by laying the sticks on top of each other to form a cross, then securing them by winding some string around the intersection of the sticks. Make sure the string is wrapped in a criss-cross diagonal pattern so the sticks remain in place.
  2. Next, cut the grocery bag on one side and across the bottom, and lay it out flat. Place the sticks on the grocery bag. Using your marker and straight edge, draw lines on the grocery bag connecting the corners of the sticks to make a template for your kite. When you are finished with this step you should have drawn a full square on the grocery bag.
    diy kite
  3. Take your scissors and cut along the guidelines you just drew. Then, tape the grocery bag to the sticks at each corner. If your square is big enough, you can fold the corners slightly over the sticks and tape it that way for extra strength.
  4. If you have any scraps from your grocery bag, cut them into streamers of various lengths, and attach them to the tail of your kite with tape.
    DSC_0832
  5. Finally, tie the string around the intersecting sticks and make several secure knots. Unspool several feet of string, then tie the other end of the string to the middle of the popsicle stick to create the line for the kite.

Don’t forget to join us out on the National Mall this weekend for the Blossom Kite Festival! 

Thoughtful Thursdays: Earth Hour

national aquarium earth hour

On Saturday March 23, 2013, the National Aquarium will once again be participating in Earth Hour. Sponsored by World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Earth Hour asks individuals, businesses, government leaders and others to turn out all non-essential lighting for one hour as a movement to demand action on climate change. We will stand in the dark alongside hundreds of international cities and iconic landmarks ranging from the Las Vegas strip to St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City to the Great Pyramids of Giza. Since 2007 when 2.2 million people took part in the first Earth Hour in Sydney, Australia, Earth Hour has massively expanded to over 7,000 cities and towns in 152 countries and territories with hundreds of millions of participants across seven continents.

We depend on our planet for so much – food, fuel, fresh air and water- and our actions play a key role in on our effects on the world. Earth Hour is an opportunity to show our commitment to help protect our resources and our planet. In 2013, Earth Hour is not merely an annual event, but is a continuous movement driving real actions to change the world we live in.

On Saturday, March 23, between 8:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. (local time) Earth Hour will once again cascade across the globe. The National Aquarium (at both venues) will be turning off all unnecessary lighting and other electronic devices during that time.

Join us as we cast a vote for the environment!
1. Join the movement.
• Pledge to switch off your lights at home and show your support by registering your commitment.
• Encourage friends and family to get involved!
• Plan an Earth Hour party at home! Block parties, candlelight vigils and candlelight dinners are just a few things you can do to celebrate as a community.

2. Go Beyond the Hour.
• Extend your actions beyond an hour! This weekend, pledge to spend at least one whole day with a minimal impact on the environment. Unplug at home any non-essential appliances before leaving in the morning, and lower the thermostat for time you’re not in the house. Take public transit, or carpool with coworkers for a day. Pack a lunch in reusable dishware. Aim to use only reusable, recyclable or compostable materials throughout the day. Cook a dinner using only local and organic food (or don’t cook at all, eat foods that don’t have to be heated). Unplug with your family at night by playing a board game or relaxing with a book.
• Tell us what you did to make a difference. Share your efforts with us in the comments section!

This one hour of darkness may result in a small reduction of energy consumption, but more importantly paints a powerful picture of behavioral change needed to combat climate change. Join us as we stand among hundreds of millions of people to call for action on climate change!

Thoughtful Thursdays: Why (and Where) We Compost

Last month, National Aquarium staff visited the Chesapeake Compost Works (CCW) facility located right here in Baltimore. The trip had two main objectives: to learn how composting plants work and to get a better sense of where we were sending tons (yes, TONS) of organic waste from our Baltimore venue every week.

The compost piles at the CCW

The compost piles at the CCW. The steam seen here is heat being released from the bacterial”breakdown” of the organic waste.

As a conservation organization, we’re always looking for ways to minimize the amount of waste we’re putting into the environment.

Three years ago, the Aquarium implemented a composting program in the Harbor Market Kitchen area. The program was later expanded to include visitor areas, waste from the rain forest exhibit and all staff and administrative office areas!

There are labeled compost bins (like this one in our harbor market kitchen) throughout the Aquarium's offices!

There are labeled compost bins (like this one in our harbor market kitchen) throughout the Aquarium!

We’ve been working with the CCW facility for just a few months (they opened in November). Located in Curtis Bay, CCW has 55,000 square feet of space to process local waste. They are currently accepting 60-80 tons of waste a week and converting it all into nutrient-rich soil for local farmers and the community!

In the short time we’ve been composting, the Aquarium has saved close to 40 tons of organic waste from landfills!

Interested in composting your waste? Here’s how to do it!

 

  1. Learn what kind or organic waste CAN be composted! A full list is available here
  2. Start collecting waste materials!
  3. Work with a local organization, like CCW, to have your waste collected. Baltimore and Washington, DC (and most developed areas) have “compost cabs” that will even come to you for collection!
  4. Visit a local compost facility! Not only will you learn more about the process, but you can also purchase nutrient-rich soil for gardening or urban farming projects!

 

A Blue View: Sea Turtle Conservation Series

A Blue View is a weekly perspective on the life aquatic, hosted by National Aquarium CEO John Racanelli.

From the smallest plants and animals invisible to the human eye to entire ecosystems, every living thing depends on and is intricately linked by water.

Tune in to 88.1 WYPR every Tuesday at 5:45 p.m. as John brings to the surface important issues and fascinating discoveries making waves in the world today.

In a two-part interview series with Dr. Kat Hadfield, Associate Veterinarian at National Aquarium, CEO John Racanelli discusses the endangered status of the world’s seven species of sea turtle and how organizations like the Aquarium and working to save them.

February 5, 2013: Sea Turtles and the Challenges They Face

A Blue View podcast

Click here to listen to John and Dr. Hadfield discuss
the challenges facing sea turtle populations worldwide. 

The 33rd Annual International Symposium on Sea Turtle Biology and Conservation is happening in Baltimore, Maryland, this week. More than 1,000 scientists from 75 different countries are gathering to discuss sea turtle biology, research and conservation, collaborative projects and community-based conservation efforts.

All sea turtles occurring in U.S. waters are listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and are under the joint jurisdiction of NOAA Fisheries and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Major threats to sea turtles in the U.S. include, but are not limited to: cold-stunning; destruction and alteration of nesting and foraging habitats; incidental capture in commercial and recreational fisheries; entanglement in marine debris; and vessel strikes.

January 31, 2013: A Busy Year for Sea Turtle Rescues

A Blue View podcast

Click here to listen to John and Dr. Hadfield discuss
this extraordinarily busy season of turtle rescues!

In a normal year, the New England Aquarium takes in between 25 and 60 sea turtles. In 2012, that number was more than 200, with an extraordinarily high number of loggerheads (10 times the usual number seen in a year).

Such an influx of rescues caused significant strain on staff and resources, which lead New England Aquarium to reach out for help from other stranding partners. Dr. Kat Hadfield, associate veterinarian at the National Aquarium, was among those who headed to Quincy, Massachusetts, to help. The Aquarium’s Marine Animal Rescue Program tended to multiple patients from New England until they were ready for release!


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