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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Saturday, June 29, 2013

Weekly Green Challenge: Ride Your Bike

For Green Challenge #10, I asked viewers to plant a tree, whether they went out and bought one or transplanted a sapling to a more hospitable area (i.e., from a garden to the edge of a forest). Well, Viridorari viewer Bruno sent in a picture of the tree he and his family planted! Together, they went out and selected a Colorado spruce to commemorate his graduation from high school, and now the tree has a permanent home in their front yard.
Picture courtesy of Bruno

If you have planted a tree recently, email me a photo of your tree at and I will feature it on the next Green Challenge!

In last week’s Harsh Facts about car dependence, one of the facts was:

Americans now use motor vehicles for more than ninety percent of their daily trips. Keep in mind that a quarter of all car journeys are less than two miles.

This week, I want you to change that. Think of all the places you drive to that are two miles away or less. For me, that would be the gas station down the road from my house. We visit there frequently for things like toilet paper and dog food and soda when we’re not ready to go for a full grocery shopping trip.

So, throughout this week, instead of driving to these nearby locations (two miles away or less), ride your bike. If you really want to challenge yourself, increase the distance to four or five miles. Not only will riding your bike instead of driving your car be gentler on the environment; it’s healthier for you too. If you’re falling behind on your exercise, incorporating some bike rides into your schedule is an easy and fun way to make up for it. Hopefully at the conclusion of this week you’ll decide to continue replacing your car with your bike for short distance trips.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Activism Spotlight & Suggested Reading: Obama's Climate Address

Suggested Reading

This week’s suggested reading is actually a suggested watching. If you haven’t already, I want you to watch President Barack Obama’s speech on climate change, in which he explains his plan for reducing carbon pollution and increasing renewable energy in the United States.

Whenever the President gives a speech or an address, I feel it is important for American citizens to watch and listen. However, this speech in particular is a historical one. Never before has a President delved into such a forward looking and comprehensive plan for the environment. If you truly care about the environmental cause and working for change, it is essential to understand the viewpoint of the government on the matter and the actions that are currently being taken. If there aren’t enough initiatives being carried out, we need to voice our opinions and fight for them, and if actions are being taken, we need to show our support.

If you want to know the opinion of our nation’s leader on climate change, and the actions he is taking to reduce America’s carbon footprint, then you need to watch his climate change address, given at Georgetown University on June 25th.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Recycling Projects: Box Cities

Box Cities

In this project, with some unwanted boxes, old newspapers, items from the junk drawer, and a little creativity, your child can construct entire cities and stay occupied for hours, maybe even days!

    What I like about this project is that it gives the kids (and young-spirited adults) a lot of room for creativity. No one’s box buildings and cities will turn out exactly the same!

Supplies needed:

-Small cardboard boxes (cereal, oatmeal, pasta, granola bar, ice cream carton, etc.)


-Masking tape

-Decoupage (You can make your own by mixing equal parts of white glue and water)

-Tempera or acrylic paints


-Toothpicks, popsicle sticks, cotton balls, dowels, film canisters, bottle caps, drawer knobs, buttons, scrap fabric, small stones, old game pieces, and other miscellaneous “junk” items. (Look around your house and yard for items that would add an interesting touch to your buildings).

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Harsh Facts & Ecofriendly Economics: Save Vanishing Species

Harsh Facts of the Week

Motor vehicles are responsible for about one third of the world’s oil use. However, they account for almost two thirds of America’s oil use.

In the United States, 10,000 gallons of gasoline are burned in a single second.
In the state of California alone, the amount of gasoline vapors wafting out of gas station pumps totals 15,811 gallons a day. 

On average, 1,143 gallons of gasoline are used per household per year. (If the vapors lost from Californian gas stations could somehow be saved, they could fulfill this annual usage for about fourteen households). 

Americans now use motor vehicles for more than ninety percent of their daily trips. Keep in mind that a quarter of all car journeys are less than two miles.

An average person travels more than 9,000 miles a year by car, compared with less than 4,000 miles from four decades ago.

Children who live near streets used by more than 20,000 cars a day were six times more likely to develop cancer than those who lived in neighborhoods where traffic was less than 500 vehicles each day.

We live in a fast paced world, and for most of us, using a car is inevitable. However, we have also become so accustomed to this fast method of transportation that for many of us, walking or biking to a destination that is only a mile or two away seems like quite a lengthy and strenuous trip.

I will be going to college in a very bike-friendly city. I plan on bringing my car with me to college, but I have vowed to myself that I will only drive it when it’s absolutely necessary. For the rest of the time, I will be joining the hordes of walkers and bike riders in order to transport myself around campus, the city, and local attractions, such as the lake.

Where can you substitute a walk or a bike ride in your daily schedule? Have you been lacking in exercise lately? This could be the perfect opportunity for you to work off some fat, enjoy the outdoors, reduce your carbon emissions, and generally feel good about yourself. 

To learn seventeen ways to make your car more fuel efficient, check out this past edition of “EcofriendlyEconomics.”

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Recycling Projects: T-Shirt Bracelets

Recycled T-Shirt Bracelets

    This is a simple and crafty project I discovered from a tweet by (@Earth911). The original project is featured on Camilla Fabbri’s blog.

Supplies needed:

-Old, unwanted T-shirts (colorful and patterned t-shirts tend to look the best)
-Bangles (try to use ones you already have, or find them at thrift stores)
-Glue gun and glue (optional)
-Extraneous decorative items, such as stickers, fabric markers, or glitter glue (optional)

Monday, June 17, 2013

Crossroads Rally in Albany (June 17th)

This was the promotion sign for the rally, dubbed New York Crossroads, that I attended in Albany today, right on the lawn and stairs of the capitol building.  To me, the message of the sign is simple. We have a choice in front of us to make, and it needs to be made now. We have reached the fork in the road. Do we pick dirty energy, fossil fuels, and environmental destruction (which in turn destroys us), or do we choose clean, green energy that will sustain us and our planet for an indefinite amount of time? To me, the choice seems obvious. But if it's as obvious as I think it is, I guess I wouldn't have been rallying in Albany earlier today.

Albany's Capitol Building

Ecofriendly Economics & Harsh Facts: Drilling

Harsh Facts of the Week

American offshore oil drilling extracts about 1.5 million barrels a day. In comparison, the current daily oil consumption of the United States is 21 million barrels.

Drilling technologies have improved, leading to less spill occurrences. However, at current extraction rates, predictions indicate that in the Gulf of Mexico over the next forty years, there will be one oil spill per year of at least 1,000 barrels.

An average hydraulic fracturing (fracking) well requires three to eight million gallons of water over its lifetime.

In 2011, France became the first nation to ban hydraulic fracturing. 

Natural gas extracted by fracking may have a significant environmental advantage over coal mining; when burned, shale (natural) gas emits half the carbon dioxide per unit of energy as coal. Regardless, fracking adds greenhouse gases to the atmosphere through extraction leakage and emissions from burning natural gas. Methane, a greenhouse gas about twenty times more effective at trapping heat than carbon dioxide, can leak during hydraulic fracturing. So, it is unclear which is potentially “healthier” for the environment.

Fracking for natural gas provides major economic advantages and allows access to stores of fuel that otherwise would have remained untouched. If you read up on the topic, you’ll find that hydraulic fracturing has disadvantages and advantages, both of which can be heavily and extensively argued. While fracking supporters provide some solid defenses, I still find myself opposed to fracking for one major, overlaying reason.
Our Earth’s fuel resources are limited. Finding new places and ways to obtain it is helpful in the short run. However, in the long run, we’ll eventually be left high and dry, or we’ll suffocate on our own fumes, whichever comes first. Every time the sun shines, a wind blows, and a river flows, there’s raw energy that can be tapped into, perhaps indefinitely so. I want my country, and at the very least, New York State, to realize the superior long term benefits of focusing on renewable energy, rather than temporary solutions to the energy crisis. Instead of pouring oceans of money into lobbying, promoting, developing, and executing fracking, I want the efforts to be shifted to renewable. Developing renewable energy can provide just as many jobs and will be more economical and ethical to carry out than harvesting fossil fuels.
Most importantly, renewable sources are the only reliable way to provide energy to the masses without further damaging the environment. It’s such a simple, healthy concept. So why is a big chunk of society and business fighting back against its evolution? 
We have an addiction to fuel, all of us, myself included.  I’m ready to beat my addiction. That’s why I traveled to Albany today and rallied in the capitol against fracking for over three hours. The details of my experience will be described in a separate post.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Harsh Facts, Ecofriendly Economics & June's Animal

Harsh Facts

70% of the Earth is covered in water. Only 3% of all that water is freshwater. Unfortunately, much of the waste produced each year around the globe is disposed of in these water bodies.

According to the data compiled by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, approximately 1.4 billion pounds of trash are dumped into the oceans each year.

Asian rivers are the most polluted in the world. These rivers contain twenty times as much lead found in the water of industrialized nations on other continents. The bacteria (from human waste) found in Asian rivers are three times greater than the global average.

Approximately 85% of the total area of Bangladesh has contaminated groundwater. That means over 1.2 million citizens are exposed to the dangerous effects of arsenic-contaminated water.

About 40% of the rivers in the United States are polluted. One cannot use water from these rivers for drinking, swimming, or any such activity. These rivers are incapable of sustaining aquatic life. Additionally, 46% of lakes in United States are unfit for supporting aquatic life.

Water pollution is a major problem for humans and animals alike. Worldwide, many unfortunate people are without clean water, and marine species are constantly threatened by pollution of their environment, as you’ll see with June’s Animal of the Month. Always be conscious of your waste disposal habits, and encourage your legislators and representatives to work for better waste disposal standards.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Green Challenge: Repurpose Your Plastic

20-25% of landfill weight is from plastics. An average plastic container takes about 500 years just to begin the decomposition process. The timing varies depending on environmental conditions and the chemical makeup of the plastic.

I wanted to come up with a way to make people understand how many plastic products we go through. I don’t think we always realize it, myself included, because we view plastic bottles and containers and the like as disposable. They hold no true value to us.

So, this week, as an eye opener, you’re not allowed to throw out (even into the recycling bin) plastic products. With every plastic product you use, you must either reuse it or repurpose it throughout this week. This will probably be a little cumbersome and obnoxious, but hopefully, that will help you understand how much you really go through and motivate you to avoid or reduce plastic use in the future.