Viridorari is an environmentally focused blog. The mission of Viridorari is to help you incorporate healthier, "greener" habits into your life, to benefit you, the people around you, and the environment.

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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Ecofriendly Economics & Harsh Facts: Deforestation

Snow Leopards

Today is the last day of April, and unfortunately, the last day that these beautiful mountain cats will be featured on Viridorari. Next Monday I will announce the new Animal of the Month for May. I hope you learned a lot about snow leopards from Viridorari posts, and that you have been inspired to take action for endangered animals. Biodiversity is important to all ecosystems, and when animals in those ecosystems go extinct it can cause major ramifications for species that outlive them. 

Throughout the month, Viridorari discussed three organizations that support snow leopard conservation, and there are many more besides those three. They are the Snow Leopard Conservancy, Panthera, and the Snow Leopard Trust. I urge you to consider these three organizations and choose one that you would be willing to donate too. All three have many different ways that you can donate. 

Snow Leopard Conservancy: click here for the Viridorari post, click here for their website
Panthera: click here for the Viridorari post, click here for their website
Snow Leopard Trust: click here for the Viridorari post, click here for their website

Final snow leopard fact: Like human fingerprints and tiger stripes, each snow leopard has a unique rosette pattern that sets them apart. When using camera traps, organizations like SLC, Panthera, and SLT use the unique pelt designs to identify each leopard that is photographed. In this way, scientists can develop an accurate count of how many cats are living in the area.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Weekly Green Challenge: Get Vocal

I can’t stress enough how important being vocal about the environment is. The big dogs in the capitol are making bills that deal with the environment. Big corporations are going to keep doing what they’re doing if they think everything is running smoothly. Legislators and business owners won’t know what you want unless you tell them, and if they don’t know something is wrong, nothing will change.

This week, I want you to practice being vocal. It’s really easy, and if you’re shy, that’s okay too. Contacting people doesn’t actually require a lot of speaking- it’s mostly writing. In a lot of cases, it’s just signing something. Organizations like WWF,, and the League of Women voters often provide pre-written letters. All you have to do is sign them and alter them, if you so choose. Then hit a “send” button.
It seems like I’ve been giving a lot of challenges that aren’t that hard… maybe I’m being too soft on you guys!

Anyways, on each post day this week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday) I want you to either send a letter, an email, or make a phone call for an environmental cause that you care about. I’ll provide something that you can do each day, but please, feel free to do your own.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Activism Spotlight & Suggested Reading: KXL Pipeline

Happy Arbor Day!
Each year, the United States celebrates Arbor Day on the last Friday in April. It is a holiday that encourages people to plant and care for trees, and it originated in Nebraska City, Nebraska. The first Arbor day was held on April 10th, 1872, and it was estimated that 1,000,000 trees were planted that day. By the 1920's, each state in the United States had passed a law that designated a day for Arbor Day. Since then, many more countries have started to recognize a similar holiday.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Recycling Projects: Plastic Jug Scoop

Plastic Jug Scoop

This project is fairly quick and simple, as I’m a little short on time today. Fortunately, the end result has many potential uses!

Supplies Needed:
•    Scissors/ Knife
•    Plastic jug with handle (i.e.: gallon milk jug).
•    Acrylic paint (optional)

This will involve some simple cutting. Please supervise your children during this process.


1. Cut out the shape of a scoop from the side of a jug, using the handle of the jug as the handle of the new scoop. It’s a little hard to describe, so here is a simple picture that you can follow:

Monday, April 22, 2013

Ecofriendly Economics & Harsh Facts: Plastic Bottles

Happy Earth Day!

  I'm going to purchase myself a stainless steel bottle, and cut plastic bottles out of my life for good!
What's your commitment to the Earth today? Leave a comment below!

To go along with my plastic bottle boycott, I'll make today's "Harsh Facts" centered around plastic bottles.

Also, keep reading to find out 17 ways you can make your car more fuel efficient! 
Harsh Facts of the Week

 In 1976 Americans drank, on average, 1.6 gallons of bottled water each year. Thirty years later, the average consumption had increased to thirty gallons per person. This is despite the fact that bottled water can be anywhere between 240 to 10,000 times more expensive than tap water.

Americans drink more bottled water than any other nation in the world: 29 billion bottles every year. To make the plastic for those bottles, 17 million barrels of crude oil must be used. That is equal to the fuel needed for 1 million vehicles to be on the road for a year.

The recycling rate for those 29 billion bottles is low. About 13% go into the recycling process. In 2005, approximately 2 million tons of water bottles entered U.S. landfills.

In 2006, Fiji shipped 18 million gallons of bottled water to California, releasing about 2,500 tons of pollution in order to transport them. That same year, Western Europe's shipment of bottled water to New York City released 3,800 tons of pollution.

The best part? Contrary to popular belief, water from bottles is not always cleaner or safer than water from the tap.

To solidify the information you just learned, watch this awesome video on! The video is fun and easy to understand, and it explains how, for years, corporations have been tricking us into thinking bottled water is better. It's only eight minutes long, and I promise it will be worth your time.

So, now that you've read the Harsh Facts and watched a cool video, what do you think? Is it starting to sound like a smart idea to ditch the water bottle for good?

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Weekly Green Challenge: Eating with a Conscience

As I’ve mentioned before on Viridorari, I am a humaneitarian (not the same thing as a humanitarian). What exactly does that mean?

For me, it means that I understand the horrible truths about the farming industry, and I’m refusing to support it. I watched a gut-wrenching video about how animals are treated from birth until death in industrial farms, with actual footage from actual farms, and I saw images that I’ll never be able to forget. After my gruesome enlightenment, I committed myself to using my consumer power to support farms that raise animals the right way, and I became a humaneitarian.

I only eat meat products that are organic, Certified Humane, or both, because I can trust that these products came from farms where animals are free-range and cage-free, fed a proper diet,  not injected with hormones (which are unhealthy for both the animals and us), and cared for properly. I also eat meat that has been hunted, like venison, because that animal was never influenced by humans until the day it was killed by a hunter. When these products are unavailable, which is often, I simply don’t eat meat. So, for a large percentage of my time, I’m a vegetarian, and I often describe myself as such to make the explanation simpler. Fortunately, organic and Certified Humane products are becoming more readily available all the time as consumer demand increases and the public becomes more conscientious about where their food comes from. Consumer power is a real force, and it’s working right now.

I know how annoying “militant” vegetarians can be (trust me, I’ve had run-ins with a few). I am not a militant vegetarian, nor am I asking you to become a vegetarian for this week’s Green Challenge. Vegetarianism is very much a lifestyle, and it’s a choice you have to make for yourself, not one that someone else can make for you. 

For this week’s “Green Challenge”, I want to introduce you to two concepts: buying local and “Meatless Mondays.”

Friday, April 19, 2013

Suggested Reading & Activism Spotlight:

Suggested Reading

In the near future, I will be discussing on Viridorari how the average citizen with a passion for the environment can make their voice heard in the government. As many of you know, I recently went to a program in Albany called Students Inside Albany, where I learned about lobbying and how to do it, along with how New York State politics work. I was fortunate enough to get a view of what really goes on inside the capitol.

The organization that sent me on this trip, the League of Women Voters, has a fantastic slogan: "Democracy is not a spectator sport." Too often, we mumble and groan about the issues in our country, but how many of us actually do something about it? Our first amendment right entails us to the freedom of speech, and you can use that right to make yourself heard in the government. Do you have an opinion on fracking? Pollution? The Keystone XL Pipeline? The availability of renewable energy? Okay, but does your area representative know what your opinions on those subjects are? If you haven't told him or her your ideas, chances are your representative is not psychic and does not know what you think. 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Guest Writer: Owning a Toyota Prius

This week, I am honored to invite my grandmother, Betty Green, onto Viridorari to talk about owning a hybrid vehicle. Grandma decided, after many years of having discussions about her car with other people, that there are several misconceptions about hybrid vehicles. She wanted the opportunity to clear those up, and advocate the use of vehicles like her Toyota Prius.

Grandma (Betty Green) worked for over twenty years as a quality manager at an international company located in Fairport, NY before retiring in 2012.  She lives with her husband, Ron, in Geneva, NY. She is the owner of B’s Garden Treasures, her pressed flower art business. She also serves as the Public Relations Director for the Worldwide Pressed Flower Guild, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting public education to unite pressed flower artists from around the world.  You can see her art at and You can contact Betty at with questions and comments about her article and with inquiries about purchasing her artwork.
I strongly encourage you to take the time to look at some of Grandma's artwork. Only in recent years has she developed a passion for pressed flower art, and even in that short time she has become so talented. Every time I visit her and see her new pieces, it seems that she has only improved. For those of you who love the beautiful scenery of nature, I know you will love her art. 
Without further ado, please enjoy Betty's article about owning a hybrid vehicle!

Recycling Projects: Plastic Bottle Piggy Bank

Plastic Bottle Piggy Bank

Here’s a tip from a senior in high school who is planning on attending a $55,000/year college: it’s never too early to start saving for your higher education! So today, I’m going to show all the lovely people on Viridorari, especially the youth, how to make a piggy bank out of a plastic bottle. 
    This project involves minimal amounts of cutting. Please supervise your children during these steps.

•    Plastic bottle, 2 liter bottle (the bigger the better!)
•    Pink felt or construction paper
•    Four extra bottle caps
•    Pink and black acrylic paint
•    Pink pipe cleaner
•    Googly eyes (optional)
•    Glue/tape
•    Scissors/knife

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Harsh Facts & Ecofriendly Economics: Unplug Your Electronics

Harsh Facts of the Week
Almost 90% of all floating materials in the ocean are plastic. Plastic is an extremely harmful pollutant because it does not readily break down in environments. 

Marine debris, most notably plastic, kills more than one million seabirds and 100,000 mammals and sea turtles every year. 

Studies done in the North Sea revealed that a type of seagull called fulmars averaged thirty pieces of plastic in their stomachs. 

300,000 dolphins, whales and porpoises die each year after becoming entangled in fishing nets. 

Between fifty and sixty million tons of untreated municipal waste is disposed from China's coastal cities every day. 

Oil is deteriorating the quality of the ocean but only 12% of it comes from oil spills. The rest enters the oceans through runoff and drains.

Do you live in a coastal area? How much waste build up do you notice along your coast and in the water? What contributes to that? I encourage you to find out how and why your local waters are being polluted, and then to do something about it. I'm currently at a political program in my state's capital, Albany, and I've been learning a lot about lobbying and how to do it. I hope to write about lobbying or introduce a Guest Writer who is a lobbyist so that ordinary, environmentally concerned viewers, like you can learn how to make your voice heard in the government.
A dump in Alaska

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Freewrite: Through the Train Window

Today, I’m traveling to the capitol of my state, Albany, by train. For all the long hours I’ve been on the train, the view out the window is rarely anything but dismal. It seems that the tracks typically run behind or in between industrial parks. The tracks weave their way from city to city: Buffalo, Rochester, Utica, Syracuse…
    All I see are the ugly decaying backs of abandoned factories, junkyards of cement hills and rusty construction vehicles, wires and caution tape, dead swamps with bare, twisted trees, muddy plains riddled with tire tracks, and the backyards of run-down houses full of discarded junk.
    When we go through the cities, the roads and bridges we pass by, under, and over are littered with trash. Carried by the wind, it seeps in to the surrounding stretches of sickly forests. The rivers and streams are a cruddy brown. We travel beneath massive highway bridges with legs large enough to be the trunks of redwood trees.
    I could go on, but everything else I have to describe is the same: dead, grey, brown, and depressing. I find myself wanting to stay on the train rather than step out into the repulsive world I see beyond my window. It seems as if I were to inhale a single breath of the air out there, I would die from the toxicity. 
    We did this. We cluttered our habitat with buildings and cars, many of which we abandoned in the slums and neglected outskirts of our cities where we thought no one would see them. But I see them now as my train weaves through the industrial parks and concrete jungles. I see a continuum of deserted items. All these inventions, once used and cherished, are now forsaken, like the plastic bags and napkins gathering at the edges of the forests like an invading army.
    As I see all of this, one word keeps persisting in my mind, over and over.
Thank you for reading my first freewrite post on Viridorari.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Weekly Green Challenge: Boycott Wasteful Products

Before I reveal Viridorari’s fifth challenge, I’d like to share the results of my driving log from last week's challenge. I’m not particularly proud of how my driving went this week. There were several wasteful trips and I think it will be interesting to see how much gas and money I would have saved had the week gone better. In total, I drove 149.80 miles, used 6.27 gallons of gas, and spent $23.96.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Suggested Reading, Activism Spotlight: Living on $14,000/year

Suggested Reading
This week’s “Suggested Reading” will be a two-page article in the Rolling Stone by Bill McKibben, called “The Fossil Fuel Resistance.” You can find the article here.

Bill McKibben is an environmentalist, journalist, and author who has and continues to write extensively about global warming. He leads, an international environmental organization that raises awareness about global climate change, confronts global warming denial, and works to reduce the emission of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere., since 2011, has been leading a major protest against the prospect of creating the Keystone XL Pipeline. If built, this pipeline would run from Canada to Texas for the purpose of transporting petroleum products, and if any spills were to occur, it has the potential to wreak monumental damage on its surrounding environments. Protests against the pipeline have already found success in delaying its approval. With hard work and perseverance, the pipeline project could be stopped completely.

 McKibben’s article, “The Fossil Fuel Resistance,” highlights the growing numbers and success of the environmental movement, or as he calls it, the Resistance (against fuel companies and the control they exert over governments). McKibben says now that 80% of Arctic sea ice has disappeared, people are finally recognizing the importance of preserving the global environment and are taking action.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Recycling Projects: Featuring Ellen Lennon!

A Viridorari viewer and close friend of mine, Bruno, decided to try out last week's project (making apples out of plastic water bottles) and sent in pictures of his finished product! His apple became a gift for his favorite teacher.

Pictures courtesy of: Bruno

This week's Guest Writer, Ellen Lennon, will be providing Viridorari with a fun project that takes an old hoodie and turns it into a new backpack! This project will require a lot of adult help, as it involves sewing. However, the kids can have a fun time decorating the end result with fabric markers and puffy paint. 

Monday, April 8, 2013

Harsh Facts & Ecofriendly Economics: Tube-Free Toilet Paper

Harsh Facts of the Week

The average American office worker uses 500 disposable cups annually. 

Every year, Americans throw away enough paper and plastic cups, forks, and spoons to circle the equator 300 times. 

During the International Coastal Cleanup of 2009, the Ocean Conservancy found that plastic bags were the 2nd most common item found, or one out of every ten items picked up. 

Each year, California spends about 25 million dollars sending plastic bags to landfills, and another 8.5 million dollars to remove littered bags from streets. 

In comparison, recycling one ton of plastic bags costs $4,000, and the recycled product can be sold for $32, yet less than one percent of plastic bags are recycled each year.

No matter where you live, you can make simple changes in your life to reduce your waste output. You can exclude disposable dining ware, plastic bags, paper bags, disposable lighters, razors, and many other wasteful products without creating a noticeable difference or discomfort in your day to day life. It’s so easy, and often cheaper, so really, what’s holding you back? 

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Weekly Green Challenge: Driving Habit Awareness

This week’s “Green Challenge” is actually pretty simple, in my opinion. Starting tomorrow, on Sunday, I’m going to ask that you keep a driving log until next Saturday, when the new “Green Challenge” is released. I’m going to keep a driving log too, and I’ll post it along with my reflections with next Saturday’s challenge.
    This challenge, although it’s not asking you to change any habits, will be difficult in that you’ll have to pay attention to your daily trips and remember to write them down. I designed this challenge so that you can become more aware of how much gas you’re using and how much you’re spending on gas.
Here is a model log that you can use:           

Start Place
End Place
Miles Between
Gallons Used
Cost of gas/gallon
Money spent

Friday, April 5, 2013

Activism Spotlight: Ben & Jerry's

Note: I will be skipping out on Suggested Reading today. I'm a little overwhelmed at the moment. I'm sorry for any inconvenience. If you haven't read Suggested Reading #1 or #2, be sure to check those out. I do suggest that you read this week's guest writing about solar energy, which was posted yesterday as a separate entity from Viridorari's scheduled posts. Thanks again, Chris, for your amazing article

Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream

If you are like how I was about a year ago, you probably love Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, but have little knowledge about the company itself. I was pretty clueless before I went on a tour of the Ben & Jerry’s factory in Vermont as a side stop on a college visit. My mom and I are big fans, so we thought it would be fun to check out together. It turns out, Ben & Jerry’s is much more than an ice cream company. It’s also a company devoted to community service, activism, and ethical responsibility, which is why I am shining the activism spotlight on Ben & Jerry’s today. I’d like to share with you the amazing story of Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, and chances are, next time you buy a carton of their ice cream, you’ll feel good about it. Also, Free Cone Day is on April 9th! Get out to a Ben & Jerry's scoop shop for a FREE ice cream cone! This is something the company has been doing since 1979 when Ben and Jerry wanted to celebrate their first year of business together.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Guest Writer: The Future of Solar Energy

Please welcome this week's Guest Writer, Chris, who will be sharing his knowledge about photovoltaic cells, or as they're commonly known as, solar panels. Chris is a close friend of mine and he was excited to have an opportunity to write on this subject. The result was an intriguing article about solar energy that I can hardly wait to share!

Chris is a student from Penfield, New York. He is actively engaged in music, and was accepted to the All-Eastern Honors choir. He is an accomplished swimmer, as a sectional champion and second place state finalist. In addition, he has been actively involved in many medical interniships at the University of Rochester, as he intends to pursue a career in medical research. Though his career interest is in medicine, he has been interested in green technology and alternative energy since a young age. In 5th grade, he created a hydrogen fuel cell dispaly, with a hydrogen fuel cell he constructed himself. He has done amateur experimentation in fuel cell technology, as well as with photovoltaic cells and carbon zinc batteries. He is a strong advocate for alternative energy, and believes the future of global energy will come from human ingenuity.

Without further ado, I give you Chris's article, "The Future of Solar Energy."

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Recycling Projects: Apple Gift Boxes

Plastic Bottle Apple Gift Boxes

  • Two plastic bottles of the same size
  • Scissors
  • Green, yellow, or red acrylic paint and paintbrush
  • Brown pipe cleaners
  • Green tissue paper or paper rope
  • Ribbon (optional)
  • Glue (to apply ribbon, optional)
    This simple, adorable little project was borrowed from and the end result can become a gift, a house decoration, or a usable container. All of the pictures in this post came from the link above.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Harsh Facts, Ecofriendly Economics & April's Animal

Harsh Facts of the Week
Percentage of world total CO2 Emissions in 2003:
USA: 22.27%; China: 17.34%; EU: 15.43%; Russia: 6.1%; Japan: 4.8%; India: 4.4%; Australia: 1.3%
Approximately 27,000 species disappear each year. We lose 40 million acres of our forest through logging and land clearing annually. 70% of once forested tracts of the Amazon are now used as pasture. Only 12% of the planet’s forests are still in their natural state.
The Styrofoam cups used every year could circle the planet at least five times; they are not biodegradable and are rarely recycled. Recycling an aluminum can uses only 5% of the energy required to make a new one. Recycling glass uses 26% of the energy.

Do these Harsh Facts seem out of your control? How can one person possibly make a dent in the environmental catastrophe?
They’re not out of your control, and you can make a dent. Take Tristram Stuart, for example. He’s one man, and not only did he investigate the food waste scandal practically all on his own, but he sounded the alarm, and people all across the world have heard him. He began Feeding the 5000, an event that feeds 5000 people with food that would have otherwise been wasted. Learn more about Stuart in last week’s “Suggested Reading” section.
You don’t have to start a major event or organization to make a difference. Start recycling at your home. Reject Styrofoam cups and other plastic and paper ware and use your good China. Encourage your friends and family to do the same. Drive less: carpool, ride your bike, plan ahead and combine your errands, use more public transportation. Join protests against cutting down forests, sign online petitions, and donate the money that you would have spent on Oreos, nail polish, and squeeze cheese to an organization that preserves nature. Oh, yeah, and you can use the tips I provide in Ecofriendly Economics! If you’re feeling especially motivated, take a crack at Viridorari’s Green Challenges, which come out every Saturday.