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Thursday, October 17, 2013

Let’s all go #green

Disclaimer: The scrolling Amazon widget below contains interesting books about going green. I am an Amazon Associate and any purchase results in a bit of compensation for me. More information is available in my disclosure policy.

There is a lot to learn about green schools and going green in general. On Tuesday I shared about the Green School in Bali, Indonesia, that earned the honor of being voted the “2012 Greenest School on Earth” by the U.S. Green Building Council Center for Green Schools. (That post is Green schools: How do they do it?.)

Yesterday I wrote about the website GreenSchools that provides a plethora of information for schools to assist them in their process of officially being a green school. The efforts that are made to reduce their carbon footprints do a lot more in the long run.

It will teach a generation of children and the surrounding communities the importance of caring for our environment, being ecologically responsible and what steps to take to accomplishment what can seem like an insurmountable task. (See my How schools can go green post.) In addition to the information provided by Green Schools, and sites like it, there are books that go into detailed information. (Or you can do a Google search, of course.)

One book I found would be helpful in developing an action plan: “Going to Green: A Standards-based Environmental Education Curriculum for Schools, Colleges and Communities” by Harry Wiland and Dale Bell.

About the book according to Amazon.com:

Based on the PBS Series Edens Lost & Found, this unique learning resource combines an integrated, detailed academic curriculum with service-based learning activities to educate, inspire, and empower citizen learners to build greener and healthier communities.

Tested in high schools, university extension classes, community colleges, and community organizations, this teacher-friendly curriculum is rated highly as a successful program for knowledge acquisition across disciplines. It meets NSTA and NCSS national standards for grades 9-12, and includes a wide variety of cross-curricular activities with focus on literature, math, and art.

This is ideal information to use by educational institutions, but will only help if the lessons are put into play. There’s also a student workbook, “Going Green by Harry Wiland,” which accompanies the book.

With children actively learning about being green excitement will ensue and they’ll bring information home to share. As parents, we can get on the green bandwagon and do our part. If you’re interested in teaching your children about the subject there is more than enough information available. The following books stood out to me:

  • The Eco-Student's Guide to Being Green at School (Point It Out! Tips for Green Living) by J. Angelique Johnson and illustrated by Kyle Leter Poling.
  • Teens Go Green!: Tips, Techniques, Tools, and Themes for YA Programming (Libraries Unlimited Professional Guides for Young Adult Librarians Series) by Valerie Colston

The following is more information about “Teens Go Green” taken directly from the back cover.

back-cover-teen-green_thumb9_thumb

Have you taught your children about being environmentally responsible? Since we’ve been living in a smaller place I now only recycle magazines and reuse copy paper, boxes, cardboard, etc. In the past, we’ve recycled bottles, jars and cans. I also reuse or up cycle whatever I can.

What about the school your children attend? Do you think the administration will be interested in appointing a green committee? Let me know in the comments if your school has already implemented one or if you’d be interested in approaching the school to help implement that change.

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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

How schools can go #green

I’ve gotten a bit of a late start today in posting, but I wanted to get back to the green school “conversation” I started yesterday. I suppose you can say this is part two. The inspiration for these posts began when I – again – started complaining about the waste that comes home from the children’s schools on a regular basis.

watering can 2Instead of just complaining this year I decided to look into what other schools have accomplished and possibly help someone in implementing change in their local school or even in their home. I’m going to forward links to both of my children’s principal’s as well as the school board or other contact who seems fitting.

dilmah teaDid you get a chance to visit the site of Green School in Bali, Indonesia? They were voted "2012 Greenest School on Earth" by the U.S. Green Building Council Center for Green Schools. One of my favorite readers and bloggers, Ann I Am, mentioned in the last post’s comments (Green schools: How do they do it?) that her children’s school does a pretty good job of being green. They are conscientious about the amount of copy paper they use and keep lights off when a room is not in use.

Let’s explore the information provided on GreenSchools.net. Here’s the overview they provide:

The goals of a green school are to measure and reduce its ecological footprint while making the school environment healthier for students and staff as well as getting the community to consider solutions to environmental problems.

greenhouseThe Green Schools Initiative provides the necessary information to assist schools in doing just that. They use a “Four Pillars” framework, which integrates the three components mentioned in the overview: reducing schools’ ecological footprints, making healthier school environments and providing access to knowledge for communities so they will think of solutions to the ecological problems.

These four pillars begin the plans to becoming a green school, which – if I understand correctly – start with the Precautionary Principle of “Better Safe than Sorry.” They have the tools to assist: sample vision statement, information on forming a Green Committee and a Report Card Quiz that’s used to measure the greenness of the school. From there they’ll lead the school in each step to achieving their green goals. Things that are covered include everything from new construction, maintenance and food service to gardens, office supplies and classroom curricula.

That’s just the beginning. Schools’ administrators and their green committees should explore the site and use the resources available to becoming a green school if they do not pass the Report Card Quiz.

Examples of green schools can be found on the site under Green School Profiles. If, once the school takes the quiz, they achieve a score of 31 or more their profiles can also be listed.

Tomorrow will should be my last post on the subject. I’ll share a few other resources on the subject.

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Before you go, please answer these questions in the comment section: Do you think most schools have what it takes to reduce their carbon footprint? What do you think they should do first?

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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

#Health update: reprieve over, marrow extraction imminent

Petula’s Health & Weight Loss Journal

It’s only been a couple of days since I posted my most recent Health & Weight Loss Journal with you. Although I don’t usually post two updates so close together I thought I’d give you a head’s up… 1) So I don’t forget to tell you and 2) so you can send good thoughts my way.

My wonderful physician’s assistant in hematology called to let me know the doc decided to go ahead with the bone marrow extraction. I didn’t ask why because I’m not too surprised and it’s always better safe than sorry. However, the last time (the third time) it was so intensely painful that I almost slapped the doctor doing it. I don’t think he was proficient at the procedure. He didn’t get the needle in quite right and kept pressing and moving it around trying to place it correctly.

Now pressing on the bone and joint of a person who has chronic pain is horrible thing. I had bruises as large as baseballs at the site of the injections. This time around I’m going to insist that person does NOT touch me and insist on stronger pain meds.

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#Green schools: How do they do it?

Every school year I bi… uh, bellyache and moan about the amount of paperwork my children bring home. This year I thought I’d look around to see what other schools are doing to teach and act on environmental responsibility.

At the beginning of every school year I fill out forms in triplicate. In addition, each child brings home the same school handbook, planner and letters. My youngest daughter, who’s in the first grade, doesn’t use the planner yet. In fact, the planners often aren’t used until second grade and, depending on the teacher, it may be even later.

Despite any recycling I may do, I’ve discarded two handbooks (the third will be trashed near year’s end) and one planner. Over the past four years, I’ve discarded approximately 10 planners and handbooks. Without knowing the dynamics of every family, one can only assume how much waste that is per school year.

That’s just one category – it doesn’t include other papers and materials sent home about dancing, programs, afterschool activities, PTA meetings and conference (in my home that’s times two, sometimes times three).

At the time I started writing this, the school year had only been underway about a month. Two of my children had already brought home fundraiser packets, each Included a letter from their principal. Here’s an excerpt:

We get a very small amount per child… less than $20 per child. That comes to around $12,000 per year. Below is what we spend in a typical year:

    • $7,500 – copier & toner
    • $5,600 – paper
    • $1,500 – laminating supplies
    • $5,000 – general supplies (chart paper, dry erase markers, sentence strips, pens, pencils, clips)
    • $5,000 – Accelerated Reader Software and License
    • $6,500 – Study Island Software and License
    • $26,000 – total

As you can see, we need to make up a lot of the funding locally to continue current services…

To see that $5,600 is for paper and $5,000 is for general supplies, which teachers also request from their students, is a little … uh … annoying – disconcerting – puzzling... pick a word. One would think a recycling program and an investment into computer-based forms or, at the very least, developing a solution to decrease the amount of waste would be one of the first things to consider instead of raising more money to waste more resources.

In order to reduce waste there are, of course, recycling programs and ways schools can up-cycle. Being green can also involve a school-maintained garden where produce is utilized for school meals. There are several other things administrators can consider to reduce waste and their impact on the environment.

green-school-bali-logoThe ideal example is Green School in Bali, Indonesia.They were voted "2012 Greenest School on Earth," by the U.S. Green Building Council Center for Green Schools. The photos of the school and its grounds are beautiful. You explore that on their site GreenSchool.org.

For schools to even get close to that kind of commitment there is help at GreenSchools.net.

Come back tomorrow I’ll share more with you on the subject of green schools. Maybe we can learn more, work together and make a difference.

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Sunday, October 13, 2013

Surprised by the #RealCheese in Annie’s mac & cheese

Disclaimer: I received the product described below for free from Influenster. However, free or not, my opinions are – and will always be – my own. Here’s a link to my complete disclosure policy.

There is one thing I don’t do and that’s eat macaroni and cheese out of box or in a microwave thingy… or anything like that. You can blame that on Patti LaBelle. You see, she has a couple of recipe books and one of them has a recipe for the best macaroni cheese on earth.

No, I’m not exaggerating. Since the first time I made it my daughter, now 22, makes it at least twice per year.  Each time it gets better and better – if that’s possible.

Annie's cheeseSo I was not optimistic about tasting the sample of Annie’s Homegrown Macaroni & Cheese Microwavable Cup that Influenster so kindly sent me. I nuked it (really easy-to-follow directions) one afternoon for a late lunch. I had planned on taking a picture of me tasting it, but after one bite I discovered how extremely yummy it is. I ate it so fast that I didn’t know it was gone ‘til I looked down into the cup. Imagine my disappointment. (You’re not laughing at me, are you?)

Well, you may laugh at the infographic included here. Take a gander and tell me in the comments section “What does your real cheese say about you?”

Check out Annie’s Homegrown on Facebook and, seriously, go right away and get some for yourself.

got it from influenster

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A quick #health update

Petula’s Health & Weight Loss Journal

A lot of you already know I spent a good portion of September way under the weather. I believe it started off as a fibromyalgia attack with some help from a flare of Sjogren’s Syndrome symptoms – my body had just had too much running and ripping and needed to rest. In fact, it just crashed on me.

2013-04-05 18.04.26After about a week I started to feel worse. When I finally called the nurse at the Veteran’s Hospital (at the urging of my BFF) she directed me to my closest emergency room because the VA hospital was on diversion. After being seen I was told I had bronchitis and a UTI. The later was a shock since I had no symptoms at all. Honestly, I’d never had bronchitis that was a bit surprising as well. It took a bit over a week for me to start feeling better and once I did my “regular” pains and discomforts seemed minimal given the extreme pain and symptoms I had been in for weeks.

I was feeling so horribly that my middle daughter (shown posing here) chipped in and cooked a couple of meals. She’s only 8, but she’s very responsible & mature.

Finally recovered and feeling relatively normal I had an hematology appointment to get the results of some blood work. If you’re unfamiliar with my health journey take a moment to review some of my previous health and weight loss journals. That’s a link to the most recent one.

Today’s news is not as good as my last report. My blood levels are steadily creeping up and so far we don’t know if that means the Multiple Myeloma is active or if something else is going on. My PA thought that I would be getting a bone marrow extraction sooner than later, but the doc said to give it another three months since I’d been sick.

Scored a reprieve! Nice… because getting bone marrow taken is not the most pleasant thing in the world. The bone survey I had may reveal myeloma activity, not to mention the increase in protein in my urine.

There ya have it: I’m at a weird feeling better place with a chance something is happening under the service that may need attention.

Nothing on the weight front right now. Tell me in the comments section how you’ve been feeling or how you’re managing with maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

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