Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Earth Day celebrates its 44th anniversary on April 22nd!

Mainstream America probably viewed the very first Earth Day in 1970 as a hippie event that would only appeal to tree-hugger types living in geodesic domes. It’s hard to believe, but just forty years ago in the United States, our natural resources were being polluted and discarded like there was no tomorrow. Much of our wilderness was vanishing and wildlife was becoming endangered or lost forever.

In the 1970’s, the initial surge of environmental awareness was generated by public “teach-ins” that educated citizens about the looming crisis of environmental problems. Over a relatively short period of time the environmental movement gained momentum as citizens across the United States began demanding change from industry and the government. By April 22, 1990, Earth Day achieved a major milestone by becoming a global event that mobilized over 200 million people in 141 countries. The message being sent to world leaders was that immediate action must be taken on global warming and clean energy. Environmental concerns had clearly moved to the center stage of world awareness.

Take Action on Earth Day

The history of Earth Day speaks volumes about how much the world has actually changed for the better – at least in the area of environmental awareness! Remember the “teach-ins?” Earth Day is a great opportunity for families to educate their children about respect and responsibility for the planet. Remember that millions of small efforts from around the world add up to a major contribution.

On Earth Day 2014, make a contribution to our planet with one of the following suggestions:

Plant a Tree
Help Green World Campaign to restore indigenous ecologies and lessen the climate crisis in by planting trees. To learn how you can help Green World carry out its mission, click here.  In addition to planting a tree in your neighborhood, you could donate to The Canopy Project, a worldwide campaign to plant trees that will provide food, energy and income to communities in need of achieving economic and environmental sustainability. To make a commitment to the Canopy Project, click here.

Pledge an Act of Green
The Earth Day Network is encouraging its supporters to pledge 1 billion acts of green. Whether your plan is to plant a tree, clean up a park or commit to another noble green act, let the world know! To add your green act to the count or to find an Earth Day Network event in which to participate, click here.

Plan an Earth Day Dinner
Every holiday has its own special menu, so for Earth Day make sure the food is local, seasonal and organic. Especially if you have been working outdoors on a volunteer project, wrap up Earth Day with a group dinner. For some menu suggestions, a preparation list and more, click here.

Roll up your sleeves and join fellow Earth Day enthusiasts who are determined to save the planet. Get involved by volunteering your skills and energy to an environmental nonprofit organization in your area. Find an event that allows you to give back to the planet through VolunteerMatch. 

NASA wants you to participate with a fun social media project. Take a “selfie” and let us know where on Earth are you right now! You can use Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Click here to download NASA’s “selfie” sign for the photograph. 


Friday, April 4, 2014

The Perfect Storm: Polar Vortex Meets Spring Allergy Season!

This past winter’s Polar Vortex storms produced some bone chilling temperatures and record-breaking snowfalls that could translate into a late flowering for trees. If temperatures warm quickly, this means that all of those pollinating trees will be working overtime to catch up and blossom. This might create a colorful and beautiful landscape, but have your allergy medication on hand!

Pollen and mold are the sources of allergy problems for many people. Trees, grasses and weeds all produce pollen, a fine powdery substance that is dispersed by wind, insects and even animals. In some areas, pollen is so thick that it covers cars like a velveteen blanket. Mold is the other half of the two-headed allergy monster and is actually more of a widespread problem than pollen. In addition to allergic reactions, exposure to mold can lead to asthma and other serious respiratory problems. Children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of mold. Be prepared for an overload of pollen especially if you live in one of the nation’s “allergy capitals.” This year’s allergy honors go to the following ten cities: Louisville, KY; Memphis, TN: Baton Rouge, LA; Oklahoma City, OK; Jackson, MS; Chattanooga, TN; Dallas, TX; Richmond, VA; Birmingham, AL; and McAllen, TX

Tips for Keeping Your Family Healthy During Allergy Season

If you aren’t a resident of one of the “allergy capitals,” don’t think that you will be spared from a runny nose and watery eyes during the spring allergy season. In addition to the pollen problem, melting snow and spring rains create damp conditions that can lead to mold both outdoors and inside your home.

Here are some tips on how to prepare for the two-fisted punch of pollen and mold:
  • Keep your windows closed to reduce the amount of pollen that enters your home. Tree and grass pollens are the main culprits when it comes to spring allergies. Tree pollen counts are typically highest in the early morning hours. If you or someone in your family particularly affected by pollen, minimize the amount of time spent outdoors.
  • Your home might become stuffy with the windows tightly closed, so consider using your air conditioner. Change the air conditioner’s filter before running to eliminate last year’s residue of pollen, dust and mold. 
  • Take your shoes off and leave them at the front door to prevent pollen from being tracked all over your home. If you have been exercising or working out in the yard, considering taking a shower and washing your clothes to stop the spread of pollen throughout your home.
  • When working outdoors wear a face mask to cut down on the amount of pollen you inhale. Also, wear sunglasses on windy days to keep irritants out of your eyes.
  • Fight mold by reducing the moisture in your home. Run the exhaust fan in the kitchen and bathroom to keep humidity levels down. Keep your bathroom clean before mold can take hold. Be sure that your dryer is properly vented to the outdoors. Look for leaks and seepage in your basement and check your attic for water damage from clogged gutters. 
Indoor Air Quality and Your Family’s Health

The tips that we are sharing can make a difference in your home, but small efforts might not be enough to help someone suffering from allergic reactions. This is especially true for children due to their developing immune and respiratory systems. Children are especially susceptible to the health effects of poor indoor air quality that can result in asthma and other chronic health issues. Don’t gamble with the health of your family. Learn how to get your home’s indoor air quality tested.