Archive for the 'Green Tips' Category



A Blue View: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch

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.

January 1, 2013: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Listen to John discuss the serious impact the GPGP is having on our marine ecosystems.

Have you ever noticed a piece of trash or a plastic bottle carelessly discarded in the gutter? Someone may come along and pick it up. OR  perhaps it will make its way through the sewer into our streams and waterways, eventually ending up in our ocean.

Once there, it will follow the prevailing currents and either wash up on a beach or end up in one of the gyres that exist in each of our oceans. Gyres are large areas of calm water that are encircled by ocean currents formed by the earth’s wind patterns and rotation of the planet. Debris that drifts into these gyres stays there for years—pushed gently in a slow, spiral toward the center.

5 gyres

Approximately twice the size of Texas, the North Pacific Gyre, one of the more infamous, is commonly referred to as the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch”. This gyre is estimated to cover anywhere from 270,000 to 5,800,000 square miles of ocean.

Last year, we were happy to host our friends from 5 gyres during their “Last Straw Plastic Pollution” bike tour. They shared stories from their tour along the east coast to raise awareness about the GPGP and how we can lead plastic-free lives! 

Kick-start 2013 by reducing your plastic consumption: 

  • Forego the straw and the lid on your drink.
  • Bring your own reusable mug when you stop for coffee.
  • Stuff a trash bag in your pocket when you go for a walk and pick up the pieces of trash you see on the sidewalk, along the trail, or on the beach.
  • Choose products that come with less packaging.
  • Bring your reusable bags to all of the places you shop.

These are just a few easy tips. What other ways do you reduce your use of plastic at home? 

We’re Starting the New Year Off Right! Our Resolutions for 2013

Happy 2013! Are you making resolutions this year? We want to help!

The following is a list of the 10 most common New Year’s resolutions. We’ve taken these goals and added tips so they not only benefit you, but the world we live in, too!

  • Eat Healthier
    Eat food that has been certified organic, or better yet, grow your own! Many of the foods in the grocery store have been over-processed or treated with chemicals. To make sure you (and our planet) remain healthy, choose foods that are simple. Rule of thumb: The best foods have only one ingredient!
  • Lose Weight (as in Waste, Not Waist)
    How many pounds of garbage do you send to the landfill each week? Could you cut that in half by the end of the year? Simple steps to meet this goal include: recycling (check out earth911.com for tips on recycling almost anything); composting; buying less stuff; and purchasing items with minimal packaging.
  • Quit Smoking (Drive Less)
    According to the EPA, the exhaust from an average passenger car adds up to 10,000 pounds of chemicals each year to our atmosphere! Start with a pledge to go car-less once a week. Use public transportation, ride your bike, carpool, or telecommute. If you need to use a car, purchase one with high fuel efficiency, make sure it is well-maintained, and properly inflate your tires.
  • Learn Something New
    Did you know that an octopus has three hearts? Or that the fur of a sloth grows in the opposite direction than most mammals? Every time you visit National Aquarium or even pay a virtual visit to aqua.org, you will see and learn so many new things!

    giant pacific octopus

    My heart(s) beat for you!

  • Get Out of Debt (Save Money)
    Many of the steps you take to help the environment can also save you money! One big step toward this goal is to stop purchasing disposable items. In the end, a one-time purchase of a reusable option will save you some cash!
  • Spend More Time with Friends and Family
    Did you know National Aquarium offers not only a family membership, but also a couple and grandparent membership? Plus, you can add on a guest option to any of these membership packages for just $50. You can bring a different friend every time you visit!
  • Enjoy Life More (Stress Less)
    Sometimes we worry so much about saving the aquatic world that we forget to enjoy it. Take time this year to reconnect with nature, and take advantage of the beauty and bounty your nearby national park or wildlife refuge has to offer. Walk by the water, listen to the birds sing, savor some locally caught sustainable seafood, and remember why we work to preserve these natural treasures for future generations.
  • Volunteer
    You always feel better about yourself when you are helping others! Pledge to volunteer at least four times this year and really make a difference. National Aquarium offers plenty of volunteer opportunities, both at the Aquarium and at conservation events throughout the year!
dolphin count

We need volunteers at all types of events – even standing on the beach for our annual Dolphin Count! (You can do that, right?)

  • Quit Drinking
    Bottled water, that is! This one is a no-brainer. Bottled water is a waste of your money and our earth’s resources. Reusable water bottles can be purchased just about anywhere – even at our store! Join us as a volunteer and we may even give you one at our conservation events!
  • Get Organized
    Organize your own neighborhood trash cleanup, storm drain stenciling event, or community garden! These events not only help build a strong community, they also help build a stronger planet. If you want to start small, simply support your local watershed organization in its efforts to create cleaner and healthier communities.

By adopting just ONE of these resolutions (but feel free to adopt them all!), you’ll be kick-starting an amazing 2013!

What other goals and resolutions have you set for yourself? 

Thoughtful Thursdays: DIY Green Holiday Decorations

From the mesmerizing experience of watching “Polar Express” in 4D to staff celebrations and special holiday enrichment activities for the animals, the holiday season is always an exciting time for us at National Aquarium.

Part of that excitement includes decorating! As part of our conservation mission, we are always on the look out for ways to use recycled and eco-friendly materials to create one-of-a-kind holiday decorations!

We’ve included the steps for some of our DIY favorites below:

Recycled Magazine Holiday Tree 

Materials: 

Old magazines
Glue (optional)
Glitter (optional)

Directions: 

  1. Fold the page of the magazine down to create a triangular crease

  2. Fold the triangle down again and then fold the tip of that page up so that it’s even with the bottom of the magazine
  3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 until every page of the magazine is folded in
  4. If desired, use glue and glitter to decorate your magazine trees!

Paper Bows

Materials: 

Recycled paper (printer paper and old magazine/newspaper works best)
Double-sided tape
Stapler

Directions: 

  1. Cut your paper into eight approximately one-inch wide strips (leaving one to the side)
  2. Loop the top half of the strip and secure to the middle of the strip with tape, loop the bottom half of the strip so to complete the “figure eight” shape
  3. Repeat step two for the remainder your strips
  4. Arrange the “figure eights” into a bow shape and secure together with a stapler.
  5. Loop the final strip (set aside earlier) and tape it in the center of the bow to cover the staple

3D Paper Snowflake 

Materials: 

Recycled paper cut into six squares (again printer paper and old magazine/newspaper work best)
Scissors
Tape
Stapler
Old ribbon or string (optional, for hanging)

Directions: 

  1. Gather your six square sheets of paper and fold each diagonally into a triangle
  2. Cut three lines in the triangle by positioning the scissors along the bottom fold, these cuts should be parallel to the top edges of the triangle and should leave some distance in the middle of the triangle (do not cut the paper all the way through)
  3. Once you’ve cut lines into each piece of paper, unfold them so that one of the points of the square faces you
  4. Roll the first two innermost paper lines together to form a tube. Place these two pieces together. You should see triangle shapes on either side of the role
  5. Turn the diamond over, take the next two paper lines and pull them together on the opposite side of the tube and tape together as before. This will be a more rounded shape than the first tube.
  6. Completing that pattern, join all the paper lines together on alternating sides until every “arm” of the snowflake has been completed
  7. Staple together the tops of three of the completed snowflake “arms”
  8. Staple the other three tops together
  9. Join the two halves of the snowflake by stapling together the tops of the snowflake
  10. Staple together where the “arms” of the snowflake meet each other, ensuring that the snowflake shape will stay in place
  11. If desired, loop a piece of ribbon or string through one of the snowflake “arms” and hang your snowflakes on doors, banners or windows!

Want to learn some other exciting eco-friendly holiday crafts? Join us for our holiday events, including our World Holiday Traditions celebration next Friday, December 7. We’ll be using recycled holiday cards to make notes to send to service members! 

Do you have a favorite eco-friendly holiday craft or decoration? Share them with us in the comments! 

A Blue View – Man, Eating Shark

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.

November 28: Man, Eating Shark

Listen to John discuss the importance of protecting shark populations around the world from overfishing. 

Can you guess what the following things have in common? Lightning; driving to the beach; dogs; falling coconuts…

Give up?

Each one is more likely to kill you than a shark.

And yet, shark populations in all of our oceans are in danger of collapse, mainly due to overfishing. Commercial and recreational fishing kills up to 73 million sharks every year—including tens of millions solely for their fins. That’s roughly 200,000 sharks every day!

Here’s what you can do to help save sharks: 

  • Just say no to shark fin soup! Don’t patronize restaurants or stores that serve or sell shark products. The Animal Welfare Institute has compiled a database of restaurants that have shark fin soup on the menu. You can also take the Shark Savers pledge to say you’re FINished with fins.
  • Write a letter to your representatives, or sign a petition like this one from our partners at Oceana, asking those with the power to change and enact laws to do so.
  • If you’re a Maryland resident, support the bill that will be introduced in Maryland’s next legislative session that would ban the possession or distribution of shark fins in the state. This legislation will ensure that Maryland is not contributing to the supply and demand of shark fins.
  • Avoid eating seafood that is caught in a way that brings in sharks as bycatch. Download Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch card for a list of ocean-friendly seafood and what to avoid.
  • Spread the word. Share this information with your social networks by clicking on the icons at the top of this page. The more awareness we can generate about this issue, the better.

Stay tuned next week for our next A Blue View series! 

An Easy DIY Thanksgiving Craft for the Kids (or the Birds)!

We like to theme our animal enrichments around the holidays A LOT. Not only is it a fun side project for our staff, but also gives us the opportunity to re-purpose and recycle materials that otherwise would have been discarded.

Sugar showing off her cardboard turkey!

One of our favorite materials to use for these enrichment items is cardboard! This year, we decided to make some special cardboard turkeys for our birds to play with. If not being used by birds to sharpen their beaks, these turkeys also make for some festive decorations!

Margaret went right into destruction mode. She can’t resist chomping on those wooden beads!

But these playful turkeys aren’t just for our birds – they are an easy do-it-yourself project for anyone looking for some Thanksgiving craft fun! Follow the instructions below to make your own!

Cardboard Turkey

Materials:

  • Cardboard cut into wedges, we used two per turkey
  • Popsicle sticks, if you are purchasing these we suggest going for the colored variety
  • Wooden beads
  • Scissors
  • Zip ties
  • Permanent marker

Directions:

  1. Cut the corners of your cardboard into wedge pieces, varying in size (we kept ours between 3 and 6 inches wide)
  2. Using your scissors, carefully poke a small hold in the center of each wedge
  3. Stick your popsicle sticks in the slits of the cardboard, leaving little space in between each stick
  4. Once your wedges have their “feathers”, use the zip tie to connect the beads and wedges to make the shape of a turkey
  5. Use your permanent marker to draw eyes on your turkey!

We hope everyone has a safe and happy Thanksgiving! Have a favorite Thanksgiving-themed craft? Tell us in the comments!


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