12/3/16

How To Get Safer And Cleaner Drinking Water For Your Home

Are you concerned about the safety of your drinking water? The Flint water crisis has brought issues of drinking water quality into sharp focus. We all need water to live – so how can you make sure the water you drink is safe and healthy for your body and the environment?

Earth’s Most Precious Resource

Water is the most precious resource on earth. Around 70% of the earth’s surface is covered in water – that’s the same as the amount of water in our bodies. Without water, there would be no life. From growing crops to drinking to bathing, water is an integral part of our lives.

That’s why threats to water are so serious. Contamination of water supplies can damage human health, and have a negative impact on the earth’s creatures, especially amphibians, such as frogs and toads, and fish, for whom water is a key part of their habitat.

water tap

Water Is Good For You

For the human body, water is a fantastic healer. As experienced water engineer James Boyce of Home Water Filter Guide points out, water isn’t just about quenching your thirst. Water can also:

  • Increase energy levels
  • Improve the condition of skin and hair
  • Help stabilize weight
  • Provide a mood boost
  • Relive fatigue
  • Promote fresh breath
  • Flush out toxins

Experts recommend drinking eight glasses of water a day to stay hydrated and healthy. But what if you’re concerned with the quality of your water?

What’s In Your Water?

Since 1974, the Safe Drinking Water Act has stipulated that all water for public consumption in the USA must be safe to drink. However, even safe water can still contain some pretty nasty things:

  • Heavy metals such as lead
  • Volatile organic compounds such as pesticides
  • Endocrine disrupting chemicals

There are literally hundreds of chemicals that could be in your tap water right now. Although there are regulations as to the quantities that are allowed in tap water, that’s still a lot of chemicals going into your body. Exposure to contaminants in water can lead to a range of health problems from sickness and fatigue to cancer.

Making Water Safe Again

Purer water with less chemicals is a healthy choice for your body. Many people turn to bottled water, but this isn’t really the best option. As well as costing you hundreds of dollars a year, bottled water can be contaminated by compounds from the bottles themselves. Not to mention the environmental impact of throwing away all those plastic bottles afterwards.

If you want to drink safe, it’s best to filter your water. Which method is best? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of some of the most popular methods.

Carbon Filters

Carbon filters are a popular water filter choice. Water passes through activated carbon which acts to filer out all kinds of unwanted compounds. They cost around $40 up front, but work out to be a cost effective option in the long run.

Pros: Removes all kinds of chemicals, heavy metals, fluoride and pesticides. In fact a carbon filter can make most water into safe drinking water including water from ponds, rain or even the sea, so it can certainly make your tap water safe to drink.

Cons: Not as effective against bacteria as other filters. They’re also quite bulky, but if you have plenty of counter space, they are a good option.

Reverse Osmosis

Reverse osmosis filters use a membrane that filters out compounds as water passes through it. Reverse osmosis was originally designed to transform saltwater into freshwater, and is very effective at filtering out chemicals and other things.

Pros: Highly effective at filtering. a good reverse osmosis filter can filter out up to 98% of bacteria, chemicals, and heavy metals, and will also remove fluoride.

Cons: Wastes a lot of water, as for every usable gallon produced, three or more gallons are washed down the drain. It also removes minerals from the water.

Distillation

Distillation makes use of heat to purify water. The water is heated until it becomes team, then cooled until it reverts to a liquid state, minus many contaminants.

Pros: Distillation removes many contaminants, including heavy metals, arsenic and fluoride, resulting in very pure water.

Cons: Doesn’t reduce many chemicals. Home distillation filters are expensive (around $100 for a small one) and can be large and bulky. Like reverse osmosis, it removes minerals.

Under Sink Filters

Under sink filters put water through a multi-stage filtering process which removes many chemicals and contaminants.

Pros: Filters out a wide range of contaminants. Once it’s installed it’s very easy to use with no need to refill or wait for the water to be filtered.

Cons: You may need to hire a plumber to install it under the sink, and you do need the under sink space for the unit as it can’t go anywhere else.

As you can see, there are several options for making your water cleaner and safer to drink. Each has its pros and cons, and each will be more suited to some households than others. Depending on your budget and your needs, you should be able to find the right solution for you so you and your family can enjoy healthier, cleaner water.

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(Guest Blogger): My name is Toni Stan and I am a blogger and the owner of www.homewaterfilter.guide. I have a passion in all things related to water conservation and I spend most of my time educating people on how to make water clean and safe for consumption.

10/22/16

Gianni rescues a gray tree frog (Hyla versicolor)

In the winter, I found a gray tree frog hopping around our gym here in Maryland. I guess he was drawn inside by the heat? Well I took him home and had him in a fish tank with water, crickets and artificial leaves for shelter. I got a heating pad that was stuck to the back of the tank. I was wondering how cold I could keep my home and have the frog still be ok?

Wikipedia says: “The gray tree frog is capable of surviving freezing of their internal body fluids to temperatures as low as -8 °C.”

So, if the frog is indoors and there’s a heating pad on the tank, he should be all right.

Gianni finds a gray tree frog and brings him inside for the Winter.

Gianni finds a gray tree frog and brings him inside for the Winter.

In the spring it was warming up so it seemed like the frog was getting more active. He had no idea they could climb smooth glass.


Gianni writes in to ask when is the right time and how far away from where he found the frog should he release it?

Should I release him where I found him? I found him about 10 miles from home.
At what point is it safe to release him? I am in northern Maryland.

Frogs Are Green advises: So long as it’s not too cold at night, it should be fine. He waited till Saturday and released the frog on “Save the Frogs Day!”

Gianni added some foliage (shade) for the grey tree frog until he decides what to do. The grass pictured behind the tree had some standing water as well.

Gianni added some foliage (shade) for the gray tree frog until he decides what to do. The grass pictured behind the tree had some standing water as well.

He also put some crickets near him to give him a boost!

UPDATE!

Gianni went back to the spot where he released the gray tree frog and saw dozens of tiny frogs hopping all over the grass! They were small enough to sit on an eraser head comfortably!

About the *Gray Tree Frog:
The gray tree frog is a small arboreal frog native to much of the USA and southeastern Canada. They are variable in color due to the ability to camouflage themselves, from gray to green. The female does not call and has white in the throat area; the male calls and throat color changes (black/gray/brown) during the breeding season. The female is usually larger than the male.

Gray tree frogs are typically no larger than 1.5 to 2 inches. They have a lumpy texture to their skin and almost indistinguishable from the Cope’s gray tree frog.

These frogs hardly descend from tree branches except during breeding season, so it’s unusual for Gianni to have found this one in a gymnasium!

*Information source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gray_tree_frog

Gray tree frog by Robert A. Coggeshall Kiowa. Wikipedia.

Gray tree frog by Robert A. Coggeshall Kiowa. Wikipedia.

10/10/16

Peaceful Frogs Podcast: Yoga, Art and Nature Classes for Kids

Jamie Wilson-Murray, creator of Mindful Play Yoga, a Jersey City Heights business, and Susan Newman, founder of Frogs Are Green, a New Jersey nonprofit environmental organization, have teamed up to provide children ages 3-6 and 4-12 with Peaceful Frogs classes that include yoga, environmental study, and art education in Hudson County.

Peaceful Frogs (yoga) at Little Bee Learning Studio in Hoboken, NJ.

Peaceful Frogs (yoga) at Little Bee Learning Studio in Hoboken, NJ.

Artistic activity and physical exercise create healthy lifelong learners. Studies show how children benefit from creative activity and movement on a regular basis. Benefits from taking a Peaceful Frogs class include:

  • Body awareness and focus
  • Awareness of breath
  • Increased strength and flexibility
  • Increased creative expression
  • Connection to the environment
  • Confidence and self-esteem
  • Flow, connection and integration
  • Tuning in to oneself, not to an electronic device
  • Deep relaxation
  • Playful learning

 

Learn more about our series by listening to our 30 minute podcast:

>> Peaceful Frogs Podcast <<

Peaceful Frogs (art) at Little Bee Learning Studio in Hoboken with children ages 3-6.

Peaceful Frogs (art) at Little Bee Learning Studio in Hoboken with children ages 3-6.

 

08/24/16

Frog Facts Everyone Should Know

There is one fact that must be featured first:

One third of all amphibians are threatened with extinction.

(It is because of this fact that we will continue to reach people through education and engagement every day. Be kind and share with others.)

 

(Rheobatrachus silus). Photo by: unknown author. Wikipedia.

Southern Gastric-brooding Frog (Rheobatrachus silus). Photo by: unknown author. Wikipedia.

Frogs have been on the Earth for over 200 million years, at least as long as the dinosaurs.

Toads are frogs, but frogs are not toads. Frogs live near ponds, swamps and marshes. Frogs can live on the ground or in trees, but toads live only on the ground. Some frogs live in deserts and only come to the surface during the rainy season and breed in shallow vernal pools and puddles that dry quickly.

Frogs usually have webbed hind feet, and some have webbed front feet. Some frogs, such as tree frogs, have pads on their toes that help frogs climb trees, or even stick to a glass window.

The largest frog is the African Goliath Frog. One of the smallest is smaller than a dime, the Paedophryne amauensis, which was recently discovered on the island of Papua New Guinea.

There are over 6,000 species of frogs worldwide. They exist on all continents except Antarctica.

Some frogs are poisonous and one drop from this type (such as a Dart frog) could kill a human. You’ll notice these frogs by their bright colors.

Frogs have big, bulging eyes, excellent night vision and can see almost 360 degrees around. They do not have the ability to turn their heads. They also use their eyes to help them swallow food by pushing their eyes down.

Frogs are cold-blooded, meaning their body temperatures change with the temperature of their surroundings. When it gets cold, some frogs dig burrows underground or in the mud at the bottom of ponds and hibernate until spring. Hibernation has a summer equivalent called “aestivation.”

Many frogs have incredible camouflage techniques: muddy brown in color or spotty bumpy skin to make them look like moss, leaves, and even trees.

Male frogs call to attract the females. Some frogs have vocal sacs, some do not—pouches of skin that fill with air like balloons. The balloon acts as an amplifier and some frog sounds can be heard from a mile away.

During mating season, the male frogs in a group will croak quite loudly to attract females. When a female finds a male croak she likes, the male will grab her and she will release eggs for him to fertilize.

Frogs will eat any living thing that will fit in its mouth. This includes bugs, spiders, worms, slugs, larvae and even small fish.

To catch prey, the frog’s sticky tongue darts out and pulls the prey into its mouth. A frog’s tongue can snap back into its mouth within 15/100ths of a second.

Some species of tadpoles will swim together in schools like fish for protection from predators and for heat regulation during cold late winter and spring weather.

Frogs can hear both in the air and below water. Instead of the external ear like we have, their external ear is called the “tympanum.” The eardrums are covered by a layer of skin and are the circular area just behind the eyes.

The bromeliad tree frog (Bromeliohyla bromeliacia) is found in Belize, Guatemala, Honduras and southern Mexico. These frogs lay their eggs inside bromeliads or other water-filled spaces in the canopy of trees so the tadpoles can develop. They live their lives in the canopy.

There are approximately 300 species of frogs in Madagascar. There are no toads, salamanders or newts.

The flying frog has brilliant colors, long limbs and its fingers and toes are webbed, giving it the ability to glide or parachute to the forest floor from high in the trees (like flying!)

Frogs have eyes with an upper and lower lid and a membrane which provides extra protection while swimming. Depending on the frog, their irises can range in color and the pupils from horizontal or vertical to triangular and circular.

Some frogs that live in colder regions can survive being frozen. Their essential organs are protected by a high concentration of glucose. Once spring arrives and the temperature warms, the frog’s heart starts beating, and the frog thaws out and hops off.

Male frogs call for females and there are certain types of female frogs that reply. Each frog species has a different sound, some high and some low. Frogs also have different calls for an unreceptive female, an approaching rain storm, or in the case of danger.

One third to possibly one half of all amphibians are threatened with extinction. In response, the global conservation community has formulated the “Amphibian Conservation Action Plan.” Select species that would otherwise go extinct will be maintained in captivity until such time as they can be released back in the wild.

Frogs have weak teeth so they do not chew their food. Instead they are used to hold the food before it is swallowed. They catch flies or other moving prey by extending their coiled tongue. Some frogs do not have a tongue, and just stuff food in their mouths with their hands.

Most frogs start out as eggs and soon emerge as tadpoles. At the end of the tadpole stage, the frog undergoes an amazing metamorphosis. The frog develops lungs and their gills disappear. Their legs begin to grow as the tail recedes. The nervous system adapts for hearing and stereoscopic vision. It’s during this transformation that frogs are most vulnerable because of their lack of motion. ** However, some frogs skip the tadpole stage! Eleutherodactylis planistris, the greenhouse frog, for example, lay their eggs on land, the eggs then hatch out fully developed young frogs.

The gastric-brooding frogs, or platypus frogs (now extinct in the wild), were native to Queensland in eastern Australia. These frogs were unique because they were one of two known species that incubated the prejuvenile stages of their offspring in the stomach of the mother.

Animals that eat frogs include snakes, lizards, birds, shrews, raccoons, foxes, otters, weasels and larger frogs. Underwater frogs must watch out for fish, turtles and water birds. In addition, in many places around the world, there are humans who eat frogs.

Some species of frogs are capable of changing their skin color as their environment changes. Frogs have a huge range of skin colors and patterns, which indeed help protect them from their natural predators. Colors can also aid as a warning to predators that the frog may be toxic.

The glass frog’s general background coloration is primarily lime green but the abdominal skin of some is translucent so we can see the heart, liver and gastrointestinal tract through the skin.

Some tadpoles are herbivorous, feeding on algae and plants, some are omnivorous and some are even cannibals. Adult frogs eat their fair share of mosquitos, which keeps them away from us and our overall environment healthier.

Frogs have graced the pages of literature in such works as, Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel and as “Mr. Toad” in The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Graham. There’s also the most famous frog from TV, Kermit the Frog from Sesame Street and The Muppet Show.

 

07/17/16

City of Water Day in Hoboken

Yesterday was the City of Water Day all around New York and Hoboken, New Jersey. Frogs Are Green was invited to participate so we could share our educational materials and inspire children to draw frogs. (Frogs love water, you know.)

As you can see from this little gallery, we had children visit our tent all day and we watched people go out in kayaks, enjoying the water on such a hot day.

Across from us in the other tents, we saw face-painting and other creative activities for kids One was the Celebrate Life Studio who also encouraged children and adults to dance. Next to us the Hudson County Improvement Authority gave away coloring books along with crayons made from soybeans and other recycled items, such as reusable bags.

We want to thank the Waterfront Alliance for a well-organized event full of bonuses, like giving us free lunch, plenty of water and thanks, Ben & Jerry’s, for the free ice cream too!

Child drawing frogs under the Frogs Are Green tent at The City of Water event in Hoboken.

Child drawing frogs under the Frogs Are Green tent at The City of Water event in Hoboken.

City of Water event draws parents and children and Frogs Are Green inspires drawing.

The City of Water event in Hoboken draws parents and children and Frogs Are Green inspires drawing.

Kayaks out in Hoboken, NJ all day long!

Kayaks out in Hoboken, NJ all day long!

Kids love to draw and we encourage them to care about frogs too!
Children busy drawing with crayons, colored pencils and markers.

Children busy drawing with crayons, colored pencils and markers.

Celebrate Life Studio had children's activities including dance!

Celebrate Life Studio had children's activities including dance!

Frogs Are Green loves it when children are into drawing frogs!

Frogs Are Green loves it when children are into drawing frogs!

Frogs, Trees and scenic drawings at the City of Water event in Hoboken, NJ.

Frogs, Trees and scenic drawings at the City of Water event in Hoboken, NJ.

Frogs Are Green's table with books, Tshirts, promotional materials and space for children to draw.

Frogs Are Green's table with books, Tshirts, promotional materials and space for children to draw. (Thanks, Mark for your support!)

Frogs Are Green Tshirts and promotional materials for our forthcoming poetry book and coloring books.

Frogs Are Green Tshirts and promotional materials for our forthcoming poetry book and coloring books.

Hoboken's Maxwell Pier for The City of Water event hosted by the Waterfront Alliance.

Hoboken's Maxwell Pier for The City of Water event hosted by the Waterfront Alliance. (Thank you!)

New York Times article about The City of Water event and Frogs Are Green is mentioned!

New York Times article about The City of Water event and Frogs Are Green is mentioned! Woot!

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06/29/16

Junior Herpetologist of the Year Sarah Brabec

Frogs Are Green is proud to repost this wonderful article sent to us by Lisa and Sarah Brabec. We couldn’t agree more and look forward to hearing from Sarah when she’s closer to us on the East coast!

By Anna Spoerre
Journal Star reporter

BRIMFIELD — To Sarah Brabec, herpetology is more than just the study of reptiles and amphibians, it’s a lifestyle.

On a recent day, the 90-degree weather didn’t seem to bother Brabec, 14, as she waded barefoot through a creek at Jubilee College State Park, a small green net in hand. Two large tadpoles resurfaced with the mesh — an exciting catch for the Junior Herpetologist of the Year at the 2016 International Herpetological Symposium.

“(Herpetology) is more than just a hobby,” Brabec said. “It’s a passion … something I want to spend my life doing.”

Brabec is presenting at the 39th annual International Herpetological Symposium that began Wednesday and runs through Saturday in St. Louis. There, she joins experts in discussions and programs about the scaly, cold-blooded creatures.

Sarah Brebac

“It’s just amazing how much she’s been able to accomplish in such a short amount of time,” said Jill Wallace, an environmental educator at Sugar Grove Nature Center in McLean, where Brabec likes to visit with her family.

When she was 6, Brabec joined the Central Illinois Herpetological Society. During her time there she’s presented in front of hundreds of people and helped to start a junior program within the society, said Doug Holmes, president of the society.

She said last year’s international conference in Austin, Texas — which she participated in as a runner-up — taught her that herpetology is about more than saving frogs. It’s about helping to promote public interest, she said, which falls in line with increasingly popular education-based global sustainability practices.

“The key need in conservation success is education of younger kids,” Brabec said.

Sarah Brebac examines amphibian

She began teaching children to conserve and save animals in Peoria, going into classrooms and talking to grade-schoolers about reptiles. Sometimes she brings her favorite creatures along to engage the students.

“You can hold frogs in your hands,” Brabec said. “Kids can really connect to that.”

She would know. Brabec’s mother, Lisa Brabec, said she started chasing reptiles when she was 4, always returning home with a new animal hidden behind her back.

“When they find their passion, feed it,” said Lisa Brabec, who often takes her daughter exploring at nearby creeks and ponds.

When asked about some of the more interesting moments that come with having a house full of reptiles and amphibians, she said with a chuckle, “my Mother’s Day gift went missing one year.”

Sixth months later they found the runaway snake hiding between their kitchen cabinets. Despite this, Lisa Brabec said she’s grown fonder of all slimy, slithery creatures her daughter introduces to the family.

“My parents are troopers,” the younger Brabec said with a smile.

Last year, Sarah Brabec even began writing a children’s book with a local herpetologist. But, the project has been put on hold.

“I learned that all it takes for kids is adults who think they’re capable,” Lisa Brabec said.

Though Sarah Brabec said she doesn’t know exactly what she wants to do in the future, she said saving wildlife is crucial, and she wants to continue playing a role in that endeavor.

In the meantime, she and her family are preparing to move to Atlanta later this summer, where Sarah Brabec said she’s excited to find eastern narrow mouth toads.

“You can just tell some kids are really hooked,” Holmes said. “I think eventually she’ll make a career out of it.”

Anna Spoerre can be reached at 686-3296 and aspoerre@pjstar.com. Follow her on Twitter.com/annaspoerre.