Love Water Not Oil Riders Make a Stop on Campus

On Friday, August 3rd, the Honor the Earth Riders made a stop on their journey west to east, trailing where a proposed oil pipeline is scheduled to be laid. With much delicious food and lots of uproarious music, the group made their stop on campus for their third straight year. You can find out more on their site, http://www.honorearth.org.

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Honor the Earth is a group that brings awareness to the way water is used. They are currently dedicated to stopping any oil line going through their lands.

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Kerri, from the Celtic duo Sister Tree, takes a moment to tune her fiddle before playing.

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2018 T-Shirt Design Contest

During the summer, Happy Dancing Turtle offers four weeks of Eco Camp, week-long environmental day camps, for Pre-K through 6th grade students. The theme of Eco Camp changes each year, which offers continued excitement and learning to our long-returning campers. For the past few years, it has become a tradition that we spend part of the first day tie-dying our camp t-shirts, which depict the current year’s theme. A few years ago, we thought, “Hey, why not have the kids draw the t-shirts?!”

 

 

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This year marked the third annual Eco Camp T-shirt Design Contest.  We ask students from across the state in grades K-12 to participate by submitting a black and white design that fits the upcoming theme. The 2018 Eco Camp theme is Birds of a Feather. Each age group in this summer’s camps will be represented by an environmentally-focused bird: Recycling Robins (Pre-K & K), Nature Nuthatches (Grades 1 & 2), Sustainable Sparrows (Grades 3 & 4), and Conserving Chickadees (Grades 5 & 6).

 

Happy Dancing Turtle would like to give a huge shout out to everyone who submitted a design! We received 412 total designs, all from our K-5 students! We reformatted our age brackets to fit our contestants, enabling us to still give out all three prize packages. The new brackets were Grades K&1, Grades 2&3, and Grades 4&5. We were absolutely blown away by the artwork submitted by these students! It was insanely difficult to pick just three from each age bracket to go on to the finals, but after long deliberation, we selected the designs in the slideshow below to go on to be judged by Audubon Minnesota.

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2018 T-shirt Contest Results – Guest Judges from Audubon Minnesota

A huge thank you to our guest judges from the Audubon Minnesota – Katie, Kristin, & Ashley! They relayed how difficult it was to choose between these wonderful designs!

Winning Design of the K-1 Grade Bracket:

Addie K Madison
Addie – Kindergarten – Winona

Winning Design of the 2-3 Grade Bracket:

Marina 3 Madison
Marina – 3rd Grade – Winona

Winning Design of the 4-5 Grade Bracket:

Nina 4 Madison

Nina – 4th Grade – Winona

Each of these winners will receive an HDT prize item, a $20 Gift Certificate to a local movie theater, and a $20 Gift Certificate to the Minnesota State Parks.

Overall Grand Prize Winner:

Marina 3 Madison

Marina – 3rd Grade – Winona

In addition, this winner will receive an honorary Eco Camp T-shirt with their design printed on it!

Again, thank you to everyone who participated! 

Eco Camp Registration Open

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WHAT WILL MY CHILD DO AT ECO CAMP?

Eco camp is a week-long day camp for children ages PreK-6th grade. We believe a passion for stewardship begins with cultivating a love of nature and being outdoors. We’ll discuss plants, animals, renewable energy, gardening, composting, recycling, and how to be a responsible caretaker of our planet. Children will be engaged in environmental education through a variety of lessons, activities, games, stories, crafts, garden experiences, outdoor play, healthy snacks, field trips, and more!

WHEN IS ECO CAMP & HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?

  1. 1st & 2nd Grade – Nature Nuthatches – June 18th – 22nd
  2. 3rd & 4th Grade – Sustainable Sparrows – July 9th – 13th
  3. 5th & 6th Grade – Conserving Chickadees – July 23rd – 27th
  4. PreK & Kindergarten – Recycling Robins – August 6th – 10th

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Less Plastic

With Earth Day right around the corner, it’s a time when many pay extra attention to the Earth. It’s an opportunity to take a look at habits in your life that are supporting and even promoting plastic use. Yes, it might be time to consider your plastic consumption a little closer. We have a duty as global citizens and consumers to be making wise choices for the sustainability of the planet. Just as you “vote with your fork” when it comes to food (farming practices, ingredients, food miles, etc) and you “vote with your dollar” when it comes to products, clothing, and supporting organizations and initiatives. Our choices are often equivalent to a “vote for the environment or against it”. So why focus on plastic? In short “If nothing changes, by 2050 there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish (by weight).” 1 Perhaps you’ve heard there is an island of plastic trash that is floating in the ocean. “It’s a dubious honor, but humanity has managed to amass a giant trash mass about twice the size of Texas, or three times the size of France, or about 1,600 miles.” 2 This isn’t a benign issue; aquatic animals are consuming this plastic and a growing number are dying because of this. Beyond that, if you eat fish – you too might be eating small bits of plastic.

There are simple and often repeated suggestions like declining the plastic bags at the store. *Did you know that many stores have bag recycling somewhere on their premises? But far before we get to the end of a purchase and bag selection, we make choices that support a clean planet in the future.

Some New and Some Tried & True Suggestions –

Think twice about buying pre-bagged {manufacturer-bagged} vegetables or those that are wrapped in cling/saran/plastic wrap on a styrofoam tray. Additionally, instead of pulling down and using a new plastic bag for your produce – consider reusing the ones from your last trip. *Keep reusable produce bags (plastic or cloth) in your reusable shopping bags then they’re ready for the next trip to the store. Also, when buying just one (or two) of something – skip the bag.

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Back to Basics 2018 – A Primer

**Registration for the 12th annual sustainable living event, Back to Basics: Navigating Changing Currents, is open! With 45 workshops to choose from, almost 50 vendors to shop at, informative and entertaining keynote speakers, door prizes, a delicious lunch, and school aged (K-4) children’s programming available, there’s fun for the whole family! Workshops ARE FILLING UP! So, don’t miss out.**

Every winter in Northern Minnesota brings with it four things.

  1. Bitter cold
  2. Time to perfect your hot tottie recipe.
  3. A reinvigorated perspective on what is more uncomfortable: being “too hot” or “too cold”*
  4. Something wonderful.

For the last 12 years, that wonderful something has been the annual sustainable living event, Back to Basics! It’s here. It’s finally here!

We wanted to focus on the importance of water, so we made this year’s theme: Navigating Changing Currents. We wanted to make more aware the troubling times in our nation, politically anyways, so we brought in two amazing keynote speakers who are well-versed in the the importance of recognizing climate change, the worldwide ecosystem, and our place within it.

“We’ll share ‘Why we need to be concerned and what you can do about it’” stated Phil

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Mike Duvall and Phil Hunsicker will keynote the event with “slides and songs.”

Hunsicker when commenting on the keynote he and friend, Mike Duval will deliver on environmental challenges facing Minnesotans. The duo will educate and entertain with a mix of slides and songs on topics like climate change and aquatic invasive species (AIS). Both Phil and Mike work for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources where Phil is an AIS Prevention Planner in the Division of Ecological and Water Resources and Mike is a District Manager of the Division of the Ecological and Water Resources.

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Back to Basics 2018 Presenter Focus: Zachary Paige to Talk on the Industrial Hemp Revolution

***If you haven’t had a chance to check out the presenters at this years Back to Basics (the 12th annual sustainability event), I highly recommend you hurry.***

We try to get a wide variety of workshop presenters. We stick with ones that have year after year sold out (I’m looking at you, Abbie!) We also like to make sure that new topics are introduced to bring a fresh feel to the event.

One presenter is looking to start a revolution.

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Zachary Paige is looking to start an industrial (hemp) revolution.

Zachary Paige, a first time presenter at this years’ Back to Basics, has a passion for spreading the word of industrial hemp.

Paige insists, “Products such as plastic, high protein food products, building materials – rope, hempcrete, fiberboard, as well as textiles can be made at an affordable price right here in America from a crop that yields well in organic systems.”

Hemp and marijuana are related, but are different strains of the same plant species. Paige explains on the White Earth Natural Resource Department website,

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Sustainably Back to School – College Edition

While the heat of summer wanes, for many, the thought of school just around the corner hammers our nerves and sense of freedom even more. So, why not make the most of it? Look forward to that new year of classes. Now add to that a hint of green thinking, and it might just be the best school year ever!

Let’s focus our sustainable minds on the products college students need. To make sure life in the dorms is as comfortable and efficient as possible, there are a few key areas to address: technology, clothing and school supplies.

Technology

Unlike the school days on campus that your parents reminiscent over (perhaps way too frequently for your taste), today’s supplies include some high-tech gear. While laptop computers, cell phones and tablets are energy sinks, they do offer some sustainable benefits. Most notably, these products are eco-friendly in that their existence makes other products unnecessary.

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Working at a desktop can be less expensive. You definitely lose the mobility, though.

One can take an endless amount of notes in class, thus limiting the necessity for notebooks. The fewer notebooks used, the fewer trees cut down. And, if you want to take it one step further, read how to find the most energy-efficient laptops.

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3R’s for Sustainable Clothes Shopping

With the start of school comes (another unsuccessful) football season, new (successful) teachers and a(n overwhelmingly long) back-to-school shopping list. Before darting out to the store to pick up new clothing and supplies, take a moment to revisit the 3Rs – reduce, reuse, recycle.

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Just like you do with your garbage, you can utilize the 3 R’s for your school clothing.

Because you’ve taken to heart the rules of our 3R’s video, you already use the 3Rs on a daily basis. Decisions about back-to-school clothing provide the perfect opportunity to put the 3Rs to work and step up the sustainability in your household!

• Reduce – Rummage through your kids’ closets and see what you have on hand. The greenest back-to-school clothes are the ones you already have! Make a list of items you already own and only purchase what’s needed.

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Back to School Shopping: Big vs. Small

I don’t know if you readers know this, but I have six kids, aged 19 years all the way down to 6 years. Five of them are going to be in school this year. Along with the transition from summer to school bedtimes, my wife and I are trying to find creative ways to get our (younger) children ready for school. We even thought of back to school essays, (What I’m looking forward to most this upcoming school year), but we think there may be a small riot.

We are lucky, however, that every grade sends each student’s family a handy-dandy supply list. One thing that stood out was the need for not only single subject notebooks, but also composition notebooks and loose leaf paper. I thought we were going to a paperless society. (Not soon enough, it would seem!)

 

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You’ll probably find exactly what you need in the big box stores, but do you REALLY need it?

Looking at these lists, they don’t say to go directly to Target/Walmart/BigBoxStore. No, they leave where you get these supplies up to you and you have to make decisions based on what your goals are. Do you want to get your list checked off as inexpensively as possible, or do you shop with sustainability in mind?

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Sustainable School Lunches

With six kids, I understand that it is infinitely easier to let your child eat a hot lunch prepared by the hard-working cafeteria folk. For the most part, the lunch that your school district offers is tasty, well-balanced, and cost-effective. However, if you want to and have the time to make your child their very own lunch, why not make it the sustainable way?

We’ve put together a quick list of how you can make your child’s lunch both delicious AND better for the environment.

Reach for reusable sandwich bags and containers

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On a related note, there’s no need for single-use plastic sandwich bags. Instead, consider a waxed fabric sandwich bag, or one of the many reusable lunch containers on the market. From bento boxes to tiffins, there are loads of choices, although glass jars may be a bit too breakable for some kids. Here’s a collection of some plastic-free lunch containers (from Treehugger).

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