11/19/17

Colorful Catch Basins around Jersey City Star a Red-eyed Tree Frog

Jersey City, have you seen all the colorful images painted on catch basins all around town?

Our city wants residents and business owners to “adopt a catch basin.” When Frogs Are Green heard about this program, in which artists decorate these basins with whatever images you suggest, we claimed a drain, and now the corner of Central Avenue and Bleecker Street boasts a gorgeous, colorful red-eyed tree frog. We also just claimed the opposite corner which we call Biodiversity Matters. Environmental themes make the most sense.

Red-eyed Tree Frog artwork for catch basin in Jersey City Heights.

Red-eyed tree frog artwork for catch basin in Jersey City Heights.

As you walk around Jersey City, you’ll see a lighthouse, fish, turtles, sea turtles, an octopus, and many other original artworks by different artists. When you join the program and adopt a drain, you get to name it and request a certain image.

This is a great way to give artists work, clean up the streets, and show citizens where rain water goes. Once you claim a drain, you become responsible for keeping it clear from trash and, in the colder months, ice and snow. It’s a useful reminder not to throw garbage down there. Year after year I’ve walked around my neighborhood and seen trash and leaves piling up at these catch basins and trees, like a new sign post for trash. Since the city has a limited amount of street cleaners–actual people who only work main streets and only certain days– getting the public involved will help.

 

About the “Adopt a Catch Basin” program from the Jersey City Office of Innovation’s website:

“Catch basins or sewer drains collect storm and rain water from streets and sidewalks, which then travels into the sewer system. Any debris in the street and on the sidewalk can clog and block a catch basin, causing local flooding and potentially polluting our waterways. Our ‘Adopt a Catch Basin’ program empowers local residents and other volunteers to help keep catch basins clean and expand awareness of our sewer system.”

 

Once I made this commitment, I started researching what does go down the drain besides rain water and have discovered some unbelievable facts.

NJ’s sewage systems are old and in serious need of repair. Just read this article about what happened to the Middlesex County Utilities Authority in New Jersey. They were just starting to repair the main pump when Hurricane Sandy hit.

 
…Hurricane Sandy triggered flooding that knocked out the Passaic Valley Utility Authority in Newark—the fifth-largest wastewater treatment facility in the country—for weeks, sending some 840 million gallons of untreated sewage into Newark Bay, according to a 2013 report by the independent research organization Climate Central.

The federal EPA in 2008 estimated the cost of upgrading New Jersey’s CSOs statewide at $9.3 billion.

…Environmentalists warn that the high cost of fixing New Jersey’s ailing sewer systems pales beside the cost of doing nothing. While our ocean waters were deemed swimmable in a July 2013 DEP assessment, 73 percent of the state’s non-ocean waters tested failed due to bacteria indicating the presence of fecal matter. And only 3 percent of 952 watersheds were judged safe to eat, with 38 percent containing dangerous levels of mercury or toxic PCBs…

Please read the entire article here:
https://njmonthly.com/articles/jersey-living/down-the-drain-njs-sewage-system/
 

Just imagine what this means to wildlife. Let’s all do our part in helping the environment be safe for all.

 

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.

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.

05/18/16

City of Trees: Shop Window Painting on Central Avenue

The Jersey City Parks Coalition, Frogs Are Green, Jersey City Board of Education and the Central Avenue Special Improvement District invite you to take a stroll down Central Avenue on May 26th, 2016 as 110 Jersey City students paint their vision of “City of Trees” on storefront windows. Each student will have a designated boxed space on a shop window in which to replicate their sketch. The artwork should remain up for a few weeks, so all can see and be inspired to learn more.

A few weeks ago Jersey City students answered the call to participate in the “City of Trees” initiative and over 110 students from 10 different schools submitted their artworks which are currently in an online gallery. Now we’re taking those visions to the Jersey City Heights community.

https://www.flickr.com/groups/2947219@N22/

We wish to thank Ann Marley, District Supervisor, Art Programs, Jersey City and the Jersey City Board of Education’s students for participating.

https://www.facebook.com/events/467752383415317/ 

Martina Gebrail of PS 23, Jersey City

City of Trees artwork by Martina Gebrail of PS 23, 8th Grade, Jersey City

After the success of last Fall’s Halloween window painting event by the CASID, which brought out over 100 students and Central Avenue businesses embraced, we’re bringing this outdoor window painting back for an important environmental cause.

******

A bit of history that inspired this project:

Did you know that the Jersey City tree canopy is at severely low levels?

The City of Trees initiative is our response to the tree canopy study conducted by the Jersey City Environmental Commission, which found that the JC tree canopy is currently at 17%. (The national average is 40% for a mid-sized city.)

City of Trees - logo design by Susan Newman for Jersey City Parks Coalition

City of Trees – logo design by Susan Newman for Jersey City Parks Coalition

The City of Trees initiative promotes healthy trees by educating residents and increasing their role in the care of the City’s trees. Through training workshops, volunteers can become part of our citywide “Tree Lovers Crew” (TLC) and share the responsibility to plant and care for trees in their neighborhoods. Since 2005, the Parks Coalition has empowered residents and volunteers to get involved in greening projects, resulting in healthier and more sustainable communities throughout the City. Beginning with three member parks, the Jersey City Parks Coalition has grown to more than 20 community and parks groups that maintain, beautify and organize programs and activities for their parks and surrounding neighborhoods. The coalition believes in protecting and increasing the care for our precious open spaces. “There is no better tool to bring about change in your neighborhoods than through parks and green initiatives. We’ve learned this over and over again. Our parks are at the center of change.” says Mory Thomas, Vice President of the JCPC.

05/5/16

7 Garden Maintenance Tips in Autumn

watering garden

As Autumn approaches in Melbourne, many householders are starting to prepare their gardens for the colder months and taking care of the little jobs that may have passed them by. The season plays an important role in how well your plants, trees and foliage will do during the winter time, so with 7 simple preparation tips, you can have a clean, lush and bumper garden before the cold weather kicks in.

1. Have a good clear out of your garden

racking leaves in garden

One of the best ways to prepare your garden for Autumn is to clean your garden of any leaves or tree branches that may have built up over the last few months. Autumn is a great time to start to clear out the main base of your garden, allowing you to see and tend to flowers of shrubs in the winter. If you have lots of items to remove, why not start your garden waste removal with the help of a skip bin hire company to handle the majority of the heavy lifting.

2. Maintain your lawn
mowing the lawn

Lawn and garden maintenance doesn’t have to be difficult, as with the right tools and the right approach you can enjoy a lush and green garden all year round. Instead of waiting until the grass is a little too long, why not get the mower out and keep it at the height you best prefer. That way the grass will be at full health and you will minimise the risk of seeing bald patches as the old grass is left covering the newer turf.

3. Clean up your borders

trimming hedges and bushes

Tidying up your borders is a great way to have your garden looking fresh and in top shape. Clear out any foliage that shouldn’t be there and inspect the soil accordingly. If you have any plants that you feel are poorly placed, autumn is the perfect time to get in there and replant them. If any perennials have faded slightly, cut them back to around 5cm to provide them the best health over the coming months.

4. Start your compost harvest

composting

If you have any deciduous trees that are in or overhang your garden, don’t worry about all of the leaves that have fallen and start a leaf mould to add to your compost. The leaves make amazing quality compost in a year or two, so store away all you can and you will have your very own compost to recycle in your garden.

5. The best time to plant evergreen

planting evergreen

Autumn is the best time to plant evergreen varieties due to the soil being still warm and with ever so slightly cooler weather. This greenery makes up the backbone of any quality garden, providing the green backdrop that many gardeners aim for. Plant your evergreen varieties in a way that brings bulk to your shrub borders and adds colour and depth to your main focal point plants.

6. Lift out timid species before the frost
lift out fragile plants in autumn

Autumn is the time when you will need to lift out your most fragile plants such as Dahlias or Begonias and place them into storage in a cool and dry place. Use sand or compost to keep them healthy and ensure that you replant them when spring arrives the coming year. Ensure they are fully covered with just the crowns visible to keep them healthy and happy.

7. Take care of your gardening tools

take care of gardening tools

Autumn is a great time of the year to ensure your gardening equipment is well maintained and in good working order. If you need to purchase replacement tools, check out your local garden hardware store to see if they have anything new and exciting in stock. Oil and clean any motorised equipment you might have, and get yourself ready for the busier months to come!

If you feel that gardening in Autumn is a little too much to handle all by yourself, why not hire a garden waste removal company that allows you to clear out your garden of foliage, branches, cut grass and soil and create for yourself a fresh and bright new garden. Simply have the skip bin delivered at a time of your choosing, fill it up and call for removal for a weekends work, your garden can get a full makeover.

 

04/27/16

The Bully of All Toads

Currently in Madagascar there is a bully. But, this is not your typical bully. This bully is the Asian toad, also known as Duttaphrynus melanostictus. The toads are threatening rare wildlife and frightening locals.

Madagascar provides a niche-like haven for these primarily lowland dwelling toads. Photo © Arthur Chapman Courtesy of Amphibians.org - Amphibian Survival Alliance.

Madagascar provides a niche-like haven for these primarily lowland dwelling toads. Photo © Arthur Chapman Courtesy of Amphibians.org – Amphibian Survival Alliance.

The theory on how they got to Madagascar is that they hitched a ride in some shipping containers from Asia between 2007 -2010. While Madagascar doesn’t have native toads, people who saw these bullies roaming knew something was wrong. And still no one knows why they have decided to make Madagascar their new home.

These toads are endangering locals, harming snakes, lemurs and exotic animals that are unique to the island. If they feed off these toads they will be poisoned, since these toads are known to be very poisonous. Smaller animals can shrink in size and as species, become extinct.

Asian Toad (Duttaphrynus melanostictus) in Madagascar by Franco Andreone.

Asian Toad (Duttaphrynus melanostictus) in Madagascar by Franco Andreone.

Scientists are still trying to come up with ideas on how to get rid of these toads and such measures wouldn’t be horribly expensive. It would cost about $2 million to $10 million (the effort would need only a wealthy backer from the West) — but that’s really just a guess. No one knows exactly where the toads are or precisely how many are in Madagascar. There’s no easy way to find them, and there’s no quick method of dispatching them, at least not in the numbers necessary for eradication.

And then there’s the fact that no one has tried to remove invasive toads on such a scale before. There have been three successful removal projects, but they were all in much smaller areas.

Asian Toad (Duttaphrynus melanostictus) in Madagascar by Franco Andreone, close up

Asian Toad (Duttaphrynus melanostictus) in Madagascar by Franco Andreone, close up.

So it looks like eradication won’t be possible, the scientists conclude, at least without a lot more research that would let managers and the government overcome many hurdles. And by that time, the toads will probably have become so numerous that, like in Australia, any such efforts would be impossible.

 
Leight-Ann BradyGuest post by Leigh-Ann Brady, who resides in NJ with her 8 year son. She is an artist and writer who is also concerned about the environment.