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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Friday, May 31, 2013

Suggested Reading & Activism Spotlight: Featuring Stephanie Khoury

Activism Spotlight Featuring Guest Writer

Today, I am honored to have an Ithaca College student as this week’s Guest Writer on Viridorari! Stephanie Khoury is a junior Documentary Studies and Production Major at Ithaca College. If found her through an awesome environmental edition of Ithaca’s student publication, Buzzsaw, in which she wrote an article. Today she is featuring DivestIC for today’s “Activism Spotlight.”

Divestment is an ongoing environmental movement in the United States toted by Bill McKibben and that encourages cities, states, business, and (mainly) colleges and universities to withdraw their investments from fossil fuel companies that are damaging the environment. Although withdrawing these investments won’t necessarily make a big dent in this multi-billion dollar industry, the goal is to show big businesses and governments that we are determined to start focusing on a future that relies more heavily on renewable energy and that wreaking havoc on the environment to make profit is no longer acceptable, socially, politically, or economically.

    I asked Stephanie to provide some information about herself, and this was her response:

    A lover of all things related to ducks, marshmallows and polka-dots, my name is Stephanie Khoury and I hate grammar and bottled water. One of my favorite places is Ithaca College. As a junior I am kinda getting the whole college thing by making some room for friends and family, but sometimes I breathe, so that’s good. In between editing and interning for the All-American High School Film Festival, by Andrew Jenks (MTV's World of Jenks) I love making documentaries. If you’re an avid Googler, check out some of my docs, including "Expressions of Hope", which recently won the Loreen Arbus Focus on Disability Award at College Television Awards!

    Stephanie also included some cool videos in her writing for you to watch. I encourage you to view them to enhance your knowledge on this topic! Congratulations to all of the people around the country who have successfully obtained or are currently rallying for divestment. Keep fighting the good fight for our tomorrow!

    So, without further ado, I give you Stephanie and her DivestIC spotlight.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Recycling Project: Plastic Bottle Watering Can

It is springtime, and I’ve been discussing various things you can do in relation to gardening on Viridorari. So, for this week’s recycling project, I’m going to show you how to make a watering can for your garden out of recycled bottles (a pretty easy, self-explanatory project) that your kids will enjoy using to help you out in the garden. At the same time, as they use a recycled tool, they will be learning the importance and simplicity of incorporating greener habits into their lives.

    This project requires you to puncture holes into a container. Please supervise your children closely during this step or complete it yourself. The kids will most likely enjoy this project more when it is being used in the garden, rather than actually making it.

Supplies needed:

  • Bottle: laundry detergent bottle, juice container, milk jug, etc.
  • Awl or nail and hammer

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Ecofriendly Economics & Harsh Facts: Extinction

Harsh Facts of the Week

At present rates of extinction, as much as 20% of the world's 7-15 million species could be gone within the next thirty years. This incredible rate of extinction has been unprecedented since the disappearance of dinosaurs 65 million years ago.

Of the dozens of species of rhino that once lived, only five remain.

80% of the decline in biological diversity is caused by habitat destruction. It is identified as the main threat to 85% of all species included in the IUCN's Red List (species officially classified as Threatened or Endangered).

10,000-15,000 free-roaming African lions remain, down 50,000 from only a decade ago.

One in three amphibians (32%) and almost half (42%) of turtles and tortoises are now known to be threatened with extinction, along with one in eight birds (12%) and one in four mammals (23%).

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Weekly Green Challenge: Plant a Tree

I can’t believe I’m on Viridorari’s tenth week of posting. I can’t describe how happy it makes me to write this blog. In my introductory post on Viridorari, I mentioned how I’d been doing some self reflection, and decided that I wanted to become more involved. Viridorari has helped me and, hopefully, some of its viewers do just that. Not only is my blog raising awareness for the environment, but in the process of researching for new content for my posts, I’ve learned more about the environment and the world of activism in the past ten weeks than I would have in two years. Now that my tests are over and high school is winding down, Viridorari gives me something to occupy my idle time with. Coming up with new ideas for content is a challenge that I enjoy.

Speaking of challenges, this week’s Green Challenge came from a Viridorari viewer. It’s a simple, but important action, and can be especially fun to do with your kids or younger siblings. Spring has sprung, and it’s one of the best times of the year to plant a tree. So, this week, I want you to plant at least one tree.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Suggested Reading & Activism Spotlight: Save The Golden Lion Tamarin

Activism Spotlight

Picture courtesy of:

In honor of this month’s featured animal, the Golden Lion Tamarin, I’d like to shine to spotlight on an organization called Save the Golden Lion Tamarin (SGLT). Based out of the Washington D.C. area, SGLT was created in 2005 by a small group of conservation professionals dedicated to protecting the golden lion tamarin. SGLT provides technical and financial support to their sister organization, the Associação Mico-Leão Dourado (Golden Lion Tamarin Association, AMLD), based in Rio de Janeiro.
SGLT’s mission is as follows:

1. To protect the Golden Lion Tamarin, a tiny endangered primate, and to protect and restore the globally outstanding biodiversity of its natural habitat, the Brazilian Atlantic Coastal Rainforest.

2. To cooperate with other organizations with similar purposes.

3. To enlighten and educate society about preservation of the environment, especially the Atlantic Rainforest and the Golden Lion Tamarin.

4. To support and promote the efforts of AMLD, a Brazilian non-profit registered under the laws of the city and State of Rio de Janeiro, whose mission is the conservation of the biodiversity of the Brazilian Atlantic Coastal Rainforest focusing on the long-term protection of the golden lion tamarin in its natural habitat.

Freewrite: Animals in our Lives

This freewrite is a continuation of the topic I broached on in Monday's post: animal homelessness and cruelty, in honor of my rescue dog, Buddy, who passed away on May 20th.

My first dog was a black Labrador retriever named Sheba. I was a year old when we adopted her. To this day, it’s safe to say that Sheba taught me more and had a greater influence on my life than most humans. I have yet to meet a dog, or a person, with her level of patience, wisdom, and inner peace. Sheba was so happy to be alive and to be part of our family, and her paw prints are still in mine and my parents’ hearts today. I’ll never forget her and her endless devotion and unconditional love.

    Dogs are incredible creatures, and every day, they earn their title as man’s best friend. They give us a love, a trust, and a loyalty that is impossible to find in a human companion. That’s why Monday’s “Harsh Facts” break my heart. Dogs, cats, and other pets have so much to give to us, and too often we neglect them and give them nothing back. We abuse them, we abandon them, we over breed them, and due to the high volume of homeless animals in the United States and around the world, we euthanize them because our shelters are too full.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Recycling Projects: Easter Egg Fireflies

My family never got into decorating real eggs for Easter. It takes time, and I was usually bored after the second one. We didn’t hide those eggs, we just decorated the kitchen table with them for a little bit and then ate them. I was all about the hunts. I love Easter egg hunts. I still love them, even though I’m eighteen years old.

Plastic Easter eggs are awesome, because you don’t have to spend all that time painting them, and unlike hard boiled eggs, you can stuff them with goodies. Pocket change, candy, hints for a scavenger hunt, and if you’re lucky, maybe a five or ten dollar bill.

But of course… plastic is not biodegradable and not good at all for the environment. I couldn’t find any specific numbers online, but I think it’s safe to say that we go through a LOT of plastic Easter eggs each spring. And, like most “disposable” items, I’m sure more people throw out their plastic eggs than not.

So, what can you do with all of those eggs you now have laying around? Inevitably, some of them broke. You could recycle the busted ones and save the rest for next year (hopefully you’ll remember you have them before you go out and buy more), you could take them to a thrift shop, you could donate them…

Or, you could repurpose them into something new and fun. I found this project and thought it would be perfect for the month after April. I hope I caught you before you threw them out.

 Easter Egg Firefly Toys/Flashlight

Supplies Needed:

Plastic Easter eggs
Flameless LED tealights (3 pack for a dollar at Dollar Tree)
Pipe cleaners
Duct tape
Nail and hammer (can be substituted with glue)
Paint and paint brush/ permanent markers

Monday, May 20, 2013

Harsh Facts, Ecofriendly Economics: Go Green in the Garden

Harsh Facts of the Week

Currently, no government institution or animal organization has the legal responsibility to tabulate national statistics in regards to shelter animals. While many shelters understand the value of keeping statistics, no national reporting structure exists to make compiling national statistics on these figures easy or even completely possible. These statistics are estimates made from the data available.

$2 billion of taxpayer money is used to capture, house, and kill homeless animals annually.

About five to seven million companion animals are admitted into shelters across the nation each year, and three to four million of them are euthanized (60% of dogs and 70% of cats). In 2008, approximately 3.7 million animals were euthanized in the nation’s shelters.

After being lost, less than 2% of cats and about 15 to 20% of dogs are reunited with their owners.

While virtually impossible to determine exactly how many stray animals live in the United States, estimates for stray cats alone range up to 70 million. 

The average number of litters a fertile cat can produce is one to two a year, with four to six kittens in a litter. For dogs, one litter a year is healthy, with about four to six puppies in a litter. In puppy mills, females are typically bred twice a year, and at this rate they burn out by age five and are put to death shortly after.

99% of puppies sold in pet stores come from puppy mills. 500,000 puppies are born in mills and sold in pet stores every year. 

Most dogs that are used to produce puppies in mills live their entire lives in cages.

Today, we put our dog, Buddy, to sleep. He was old and in poor health. But he was in worse health when we adopted him from a local shelter, and because of us, he lived a longer, happier life than he would have. Today, he passed away with contentment and was surrounded by a loving family.

I am a strong advocate of adopting dogs from shelters over purchasing puppies from pet stores. Rescuing dogs is endlessly rewarding because in most cases you're giving them a second chance at life. Our other rescue dog, Rosie, is now a certified therapy dog due to my mom's love, patience, and hard work. When you purchase your four-legged friend from a pet shop, you are most likely using your consumer power to inadvertently support puppy mills and the atrocious business they conduct.

When it comes time for you to acquire a new companion, thoroughly consider where you're buying your new friend from, and spend your money wisely. In honor of Buddy, I will write on this topic more thoroughly later this week.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Suggested Reading: Fossil Fuel Divestment

Fossil Fuel Divestment 

I asked you to get vocal about the environment in Green Challenge #7. What exactly is going on right now in the world of environmental activism? I’ve already discussed Keystone XL and fracking on Viridorari, but there’s another big movement happening right now, and it’s gaining steam.

Fossil fuel divestment.

Divestment is the opposite of investment- it’s withdrawing current investments or avoiding investing in particular companies. Divestment was popular in the 1980’s to end apartheid in South Africa by withdrawing investments from companies that profited from South Africa. Although the actual economic impact of the South African divestment was minimal, it made a big statement to representatives and legislatures and paved the way for policy change.

And policy change is exactly what Bill McKibben and, the instigators of this movement, want. McKibben has recently been encouraging colleges and universities around the United States to divest their stocks in fossil fuel companies, in particular, the 200 companies on’s list. Even if the economic impact isn’t big, the social and moral statement will be. Many colleges boast their environmental friendliness on campus, but then don’t put their money where their mouths are when it comes to investments. (Visit's website here.)

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Guest Writer: Sustainable Living and Business

Today I'd like to welcome a wonderful and caring person onto my blog; Beth Aust. Beth and my grandmother are both small business owners, and when they met each other at an event, my grandmother told her about Viridorari and she was immediately interested in becoming a Guest Writer. (To read grandma's post about owning a Hybrid Prius, go here.)

After working in the nursing field for twenty years, Beth Aust RN was divinely guided to follow a more holistic path. She studied nutrition through the Institute of Integrative Nutrition and became a Holistic Health Coach. Drawing on her nursing background and nutrition knowledge, Beth provides one on one programs, group programs, workshops and cooking demonstrations to show others how to cook healthy, shop savvy and live freely through a creative approach. In an effort to provide the community healthier options, she also is opening a natural foods shop in Oneida, NY June of 2013. The shop will focus on non-GMO and organic products as well as providing gluten free, vegan, RAW, and nut-free foods. A member of the National Association of Professional Woman, Board certified by the American Association of Drugless Practitioner’s, supporter of the NOFA (Northeast Organic Farming Association), Young Living essential oil distributor, and board member of the Madison County Habitat for Humanity, she is passionate about health, wellness and community.

Beth strives to combine her desire to help people lead healthier lives with sustainability. With greenhouse gas levels rising in our atmosphere all the time and the constant loss of natural areas around the globe, environmentally-conscious business owners who see beyond their wallet, like Beth, are needed more and more. 

In her guest writing piece, Beth will discuss what she does to be sustainable, keeping the future in mind. Business owners and average Joes alike: I hope you are all inspired by her determination and mindfulness. In order to secure a better future for this planet, we must take action now.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Recycling Projects: Carton Wallets

Carton Wallets

This is a cute and fun project for kids that could make a great father’s day present! It takes about an hour and some patience, but will hopefully keep them occupied. There is cutting with this project, so please supervise or help them.

Supplies Needed:

Half gallon milk or juice carton with cap
Paper towels or kitchen rag (rags are less wasteful!!!)
Wallet template (see picture below)
Ballpoint pen
Butter knife

Ecofriendly Economics, Harsh Facts & May's Animal

Harsh Facts of the Week

The average American uses about the equivalent of one Douglas fir tree 100 feet tall in paper and wood products each year.

More than 2 billion books, 350 million magazines, and 24 billion newspapers are published annually.

A typical United States office worker uses 10,000 sheets of paper each year, which equates to four million tons of paper used annually.

Approximately 2.6 billion holiday cards are sold yearly in America. Collectively, they could fill a football field ten stories high.

In 2008, paper and paperboard made up 31% of municipal waste, compared to 12% for plastics.

How much paper do you use? Would you consider yourself wasteful?
Most importantly: how can you reduce your paper usage? Read today’s Ecofriendly Economics to get some tips.


Saturday, May 11, 2013

Green Challenge: Go on Vacation! (Amazing pictures)

Thank your for being understanding about my absence last week. Finals are important.

For this Green Challenge, I’m going to ask you to go on vacation.

That’s right, a vacation!

I’m not asking you to spend a fortune on it either- there’s no plane ride involved, unless you want to go all out. Actually, for this vacation, you could be there and back in a day.

The weather is becoming more and more gorgeous. I think it’s about time that people started to leave their houses after being cooped up all winter, go outside, and enjoy nature’s beauty and bounty. So, sometime this week, take a day off from work, let your kids skip school (unless you want to wait until next weekend), and for one day, go enjoy a national or state park. There are currently 6,624 state parks and 59 national parks across the United States, so chances are, there’s one not too far from you.

Too busy this week? That’s fine. Sit down with your family, choose a park together, talk about what you want to do at the park, and make plans for another week. Natural preserves offer numerous activities for your family, such as fishing, hiking, swimming, sports, horseback riding, animal watching, photography opportunities, and much more. Some of my favorite times with my mother have been when we were hiking together at a park. It could be a perfect opportunity for you to talk with your family about the importance of preserving and enjoying nature.

(International viewers, hang in there, I’m going to include some global natural attractions after I’m done writing about U.S. state and national parks!)

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Guest Writer: Tell a Story...

Unfortunately, I was unable to find a Guest Writer for last week, and I thought I wasn't going to have one this week either. Just a couple of days ago, one my school's Spanish teachers, Diane Genovese, agreed to be this week's Guest Writer, churning out an awesome piece about her students the very same night I asked her and saving the day. I want to give Mrs. Genovese a special thanks for working with such a last minute deadline while maintaining her infamous enthusiasm.

I take French, so I've never had Mrs. Genovese as a teacher. However, I did meet her at an open house with my younger step sister, who has her for Spanish, and when I'm in the language hallway I often hear her singing Spanish songs with her students. I know that she is one of those people who loves what she does, and her students can only benefit from her wholehearted approach to teaching.

I asked Mrs. Genovese about guest writing after I saw a bunch of Spanish posters pop up around the school on Earth Day. Her students' posters included environmental terms in Spanish and colorful, splendid artwork of plants and animals. When I saw all of the creative, bright posters in the halls, I knew that she was behind them. To read Viridorari's Earth Day post, go here.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Recycling Projects: Water Bottle Sprinkler

I hope you’re all outside and enjoying the weather. I’m writing this post from a blanket on my front lawn. My dogs are relaxing in the grass and soaking up some sun. The neighbor kids are jumping ramps in our circle with their scooters, and some other kids are out in their bathing suits playing with the hose in their front yard. It is just a gorgeous day; the kind of day that makes you happy to be alive.

    I’m sitting maybe five feet away from my plastic bottle bird feeder and there’s a bird eating from it! HAPPINESS! He’s adorable.
    Speaking of playing in the water, I have the perfect recycling project for a day like this. Today, I’m going to show you how to make a sprinkler from a water bottle and used ballpoint pens so that you can have tons of watery fun and keep cool this summer.

  • 20 oz plastic bottle with cap
  • At least 15 used ballpoint pens
  • Universal male hose attachment (about $1.25 at hardware store)
  • Plumbing adhesive and sealant (like Amazing Goop)
  • Electric drill
  • 3/8” drill bit
  • 5/8” spade drill bit
  • Measuring tape
  • Knife
This project requires drilling and cutting, so please assist and supervise your children.