Posts Tagged 'green tips'

Celebrate Earth Day with a DIY Mosaic Earth!

Join us on April 19-20 for our weekend-long Earth Day celebration

Experts will teach guests how to celebrate Earth Day every day by bringing green practices into their daily lives, and will demonstrate how human action can positively or negatively impact the environment and animals like those in the care of the National Aquarium. In addition to fun interactive activities and educational workshops taking place throughout the Aquarium, our celebration will also include some eco-friendly DIY crafts!

Can’t wait until this weekend to make some fun crafts? Try creating this mosaic earth decoration:

What you will need:

  • Recycled CD
  • Piece of yarn (for hanging your creation)
  • Scissors
  • Glue Stick
  • Tape
  • Blue, green, white and brown paper – use cut-outs from recycled magazines, tissue paper or construction paper

Instructions:

  1.  Begin with the blue (for the ocean) – use the glue stick to make sections of the CD sticky where you want the “ocean”, then place the blue paper onto the glue.  Overlap the edges.  When the ocean is completed, repeat these steps with the green and brown for the “land”.  Lastly, add a few of the white paper to represent clouds.
  2. Flip the completed earth over and trim the excess paper from around the edges.
  3. Fold the yarn into a loop and tape it to the back of your Earth for hanging.
  4. Hang it and enjoy!

Earth Day Mosaic

Do you have a favorite DIY craft? Share it with us in the comments section!

A Fun, Green Way to Embrace the Holiday Season!

Blog-Header-FamiliesExpertU

Are your friends and family taking part in the holiday spirit by doing random acts of kindness this time of year? I’ve seen loads of wonderful, heart-warming ideas floating around online that encourage us to do something nice for someone without expecting anything in return.

I wonder if we might take a slightly different take on this great trend. Random acts of “green-ness” help not only our neighbors, but also the oceans and the planet.

Here are a few ideas that will hopefully inspire your family to get in on this giving time of year:

  • Carry two bags along on your next walk outside. Picking up recyclable items and litter on the sidewalk or in the park is one way to ensure that those items don’t end up in our storm drains and later in the ocean.
  • Give neighbors, mail carriers, hairdressers a reusable water bottle (or coffee mug) as a thank you for all they do.
  • Surprise fellow shoppers by buying a couple extra re-usable bags and offering them to people in line at the cash register.
  • !rite a thank you letter (with kiddo art!) to a local environmental group or advocate who is working hard to help oceans and the world’s aquatic treasures.
  • Thank a stranger in the grocery store for bringing their re-usable bag in instead of using the plastic one.

If you witness an act of green-ness or have ideas that you’d like to share, share them in the comments section! We’d love to hear from you!

Blog-Header-HeatherDoggett

Come in First With These Last-Minute Halloween Tips!

national aquarium family expert update

It’s just days before one of my all-time favorite holidays, Halloween!

Still not sure what your costume is, how to decorate your place or how you’re going to drag home all that candy? Not to worry. Before you hit the big Halloween stores (and crowds), you may want to consider some of these less expensive, eco-friendly options:

  • Thrift Store Treasures - Avoid the plastics, vinyl (PVC) and even lead that can be found in store-bought Halloween costumes by searching the racks of your nearby thrift store or closet. When I asked my 4-year-old what he liked about making his own costume he replied, “Because if I had a store costume, it would be just regular. If I made my own, it would be crazy and silly!” Hard to argue with that!
  • Re-Use and Re-Imagine - Scouring through your recycling bin may lead to some truly creative costume ideas. Re-used cardboard boxes could become a fire truck or train (held up by suspenders),  a robot, popcorn box, or hot air balloon basket. Plastic milk jugs might be transformed into fairy wings, a princess tiara, turtle shell or even a Frankenstein forehead!

    DIY mantis shrimp costume

    For those of you who like a challenge, check out this peacock mantis shrimp costume one of our educators made from recycled & thrifty materials!

  • Ditch the Disposables - Hosting a spooktacular Halloween party? Deck out your house in these fun and easy DIY decorations! When it comes time for trick-or-treating, forgo purchasing those plastic pumpkins and carry your candy in a pillowcase/reusable grocery bag!
  • Don’t Fill the Landfill - When all the parties have passed and your belly is full of candy, hold on to that costume and don’t toss it out with the trash. Next year, you could be the hero of your neighborhood by hosting a “costume swap” where everyone brings their old costumes and trades for a new one.

Hope everyone has a safe, planet-friendly (and most importantly FUN!) Halloween! 

Blog-Header-HeatherDoggett

Thoughtful Thursdays: Chesapeake Bay Lined Seahorses

Many people don’t realize that there is a species of seahorse that calls the Chesapeake Bay its home.  The lined seahorse, hippocampus erectus, lives in shallow eel grass beds during the summer and moves to deeper submerged aquatic vegetation during the winter.  It can typically be found in the lower to middle Chesapeake Bay and, in particularly dry years when the water is saltier, as far north as Kent Island and the Bay Bridge.

Lined Seahorse

Lined Seahorse at National Aquarium, Baltimore
Photo courtesy of Michael Bentley

The lined seahorse varies drastically in both coloration and ornamentation.  Individuals can range from a yellowish color all the way down the spectrum to a nearly black color.  Some may have intricate ornamentation on their backs and their heads.  Additionally, they can change color slightly to match their surroundings.  As with all seahorses, males carry a pouch which they use to hold their young after breeding.  Breeding itself is complicated, it includes a drawn-out ritual of dancing and clicking between the male and female.  At the end of the courtship, females deposit their eggs into the male’s pouch where they are fertilized and held until ready to be released (about 2 weeks).

Lined Seahorse

Lined seahorses vary in color, pattern and ornamentation

Seahorses as a whole are ineffective swimmers.  They only use three of their fins (two pectoral fins and one dorsal fin) to swim.  They beat these fins rapidly to provide propulsion, but it is not enough to keep them stationary in even the most gentle of currents.  It is because of this that they require something to hold on to.  For our local lined seahorses in the Chesapeake, that something is often eel grass, as well as other submerged aquatic vegetation.  These grasses are vital to the seahorses’ ability to hunt, breed and just plain survive.  Seahorses are ambush predators and so they need something to anchor themselves to while hunting.  As they hide, prehensile tails attached to the eel grass, they wait for prey to float by their snouts.

lined seahorse

Lined seahorses have very small fins, making it hard for them to swim.

Unfortunately, eel grass is in trouble in the Chesapeake Bay.  Nutrient pollution from farms, sewage and other human activities often leads to large algal blooms, which grow near the surface of the water and block light that the grasses need to grow. Additionally, destructive fishing techniques like bottom trawling can rip up huge swaths of submerged aquatic vegetation, causing wide-spread loss of habitat.  Because they are so specialized in their habitat needs, lined seahorses have little hope of successfully hunting and breeding without the grasses.  These pressures are threatening seahorses worldwide. As a result of these and other conservation pressures, it is estimated that the world’s lined seahorse population has declined by at least 30 percent in the past 10 years. We must begin to take steps to preserve the local habitat, or we risk losing this very interesting and important Chesapeake Bay species.

What you can do to help:  Reduce waste runoff, which pollutes waters like the Chesapeake Bay.  

  • Control insects using natural controls instead of pesticides. Americans directly apply 70 million pounds of pesticides to home lawns and gardens each year and, in so doing, kill birds and other wildlife and pollute our precious water resources.
  • Dispose of motor oil and anti-freeze through a local service station or recycling center. A one-quart container of oil disposed of at the local landfill can contaminate up to 2 million gallons of drinking water and the water home of our seahorse friends.
  • Don’t pour anything down storm drains because they lead to the bay, which connects to the ocean. Most sewer systems and wastewater treatment plants do not remove poisonous cleaners, and yard and car-wash chemicals make their way into local waterways, and, eventually, into our ocean, harming animals along the way. You wouldn’t want to swim in those chemicals, and neither do animals!
  • Learn more!
    To find out more about the lined seahorse and the troubles threatening them in our area, listen to this special seahorse edition of WYPR’s Environment in Focus with Tom Pelton

Thoughtful Thursdays: A Greener Cleaner

During the last few months, the National Aquarium’s Fishes department has been transitioning all of its cleaning products to eco-friendly options.

Aquarist Beth Schneble said, “As a conservation organization, we feel strongly about the Aquarium’s mission to inspire conservation of the world’s aquatic treasures, and decided to do our part by not polluting the Chesapeake Bay watershed with chemicals. Because we want to promote the use of these products, we are sharing our choices with volunteers, tour groups, interns, and other staff members who might be considering changes for the sake of the environment. The green products are just as effective as the old ones, and they are helping to minimize the amount of chemicals rinsed down the drains daily.”

For general cleaning, they use white vinegar and microfiber cloths. Here’s a quick before-and-after snapshot of the other changes they made:

Before After
Blue Dawn dish detergent Green Works dish detergent; 97% natural, many ingredients derived from plants
Standard synthetic sponges Scotch Brite Greener Clean scrubs; 50% of the
scrubbing fibers are made from agave plants;
sponges are 100% plant-based fiber and 23%
recycled material
Ajax and Tide floor
cleaners
Damp mop; biodegradable and phosphate-free
floor cleaner
Windex Brillianize Plastic Cleaner (used for exhibit windows); alcohol free, ammonia free and contains no sodium
sulfate or ethylene glycol
Plastic spray bottles Recycled spray bottles made from plastic jugs. Staff
add a diluted mixture of detergent and water to
decrease the amount of soap needed to clean dishes.
The containers are reusable, and supplies last longer.

And if you’re interested in making a change at home, here’s a super-easy recipe for a DIY all-purpose cleaner, which is easier on both the environment AND your budget:

Mix 1/2 cup white vinegar and 1/4 cup baking soda (or 2 teaspoons borax) into 1/2 gallon (2 liters) water. Pour into a spray bottle and store.


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