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Ocean Pollution

Our daily activities have been polluting the ocean for centuries, this problem was magnified after World War II. Industries started manufacturing and synthesizing materials that were very harmful to the environment such as plastic products and inorganic pesticides. Oceans are mainly affected when humans are irresponsibly spreading harmful toxic substances such as oil, plastic, industrial and agricultural waste as well as chemical particles into the ocean. Another human action that is harming the marine life is mining for materials such as copper and gold. This causes water contamination and affects the life cycles of numerous marine organisms.

Pollution has so many effects on the ocean starting from a decreasing in biodiversity to behavioral changes, as well as increasing rates of cancer in animals as well as in humans. For example, oil spills could get on the gills and feathers of marine animals and make it hard for the animals to move or fly. Long term exposure can damage the animal’s eyes, lungs, skin and eventually lead to death. Another problem with oil spills is that oil has a lower density than the water thus it floats on the surface of water preventing the sunlight from reaching all the way to the marine plants. Therefore these plants cannot perform photosynthesis leading to lower oxygen levels in the ocean as well as the death of these plants since they cannot make their food anymore.

The main pollution problem in our ocean is plastic…. It’s is everywhere! The minimum time required for the plastic to degrade is 450 years which makes it stay in oceans for a very long time.  Thousands of animals end up mistaking plastic for food or the animals get tangled in it for rest of their life. When animals mistake the plastic for food and consume it, it leads to slow death caused either by the instant damage to their guts or the long term damage by taking up the volume of their stomach leading to the starvation of the animal. About 60% of the seabirds have eaten plastic particles, about 12,000 to 24,000 tons of plastic is ingested by the North Pacific fish, and 52% of sea turtles worldwide have eaten plastic.

These numbers are estimated to increase if humans continue with the same harmful habits.

Ways to decrease plastic ocean pollution numbers can start from your home:

  • Refusing to use single-use plastic bags, instead use biodegradable shopping bags.
  • Using reusable bottles for any beverages instead of using single-use plastic bottles.
  • Avoid excessive packaging products and bring your own reusable containers/bags when shopping.
  • When purchasing or finding a six-pack holder make sure to cut each one and properly dispose of it. These six-pack rings end up in the ocean choking wildlife animals like sea turtles.
  • Make sure all plastic products are properly recycled.
  • Talk and advise your family and friends about the importance of these steps to protect our ocean’s wildlife.

Other ways to protect our oceans is by getting out there and volunteering with local and international environmental organizations to go and clean up the oceans and beaches.

by Ifrodet Giorgees

Why We Need to Plant Native Species

Thinking about planting in your garden? Why not consider planting some of Ontario’s native plants. Here are the types of plants you can grow, the benefits of planting native, and how you can help create an environment that provides food and shelter for native animals and insects.

Plants that thrive naturally in an area are called native or indigenous species. Native species are great to plant because they are used to local soil and weather conditions, which means they survive longer while being low maintenance. Native plants are found to be much healthier and disease resistant which can help restore native biodiversity in the areas we live in.

Coneflower, EcoHouse, 2015

The Plants you can Grow and their Benefits

A good choice of groundcovers are Wild Geranium and Canada Anemone. Ecologists have found that these plants are easy to maintain and provide a solid source of food for hummingbirds, bees and butterflies.

Milkweed, Wild Strawberry, Big Bluestem, Bearberry and Mayapple are only a few of the wide variety of native plants you can choose to put in your gardens. The plants listed above are great if you are thinking about growing a pollinator friendly garden.

Milkweed, EcoHouse, 2017

Oak trees are a large source of food and shelter to many different species, and they help sustain biodiversity. They provide leafy food for moths, caterpillars and butterflies and they also provide large nesting areas for woodpeckers. Furthermore they provide living spaces for owls and bats. For those looking for more information about native species, invasive species and general knowledge about garden management tips, “Grow Me Instead” is an easy to follow guide that can help you with your inquiries.  (http://www.ontarioinvasiveplants.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/GMI-Booklet_FINAL-FOR-WEB_May132016.pdf).

Planting native trees, shrubs, grasses and flowers of any type has numerous benefits:

  • can reconnect fragmented natural areas
  • restores a vital link in the water cycle
  • reduces wind and water erosion
  • improves air quality
  • rebuilds soils
  • reduces temperature extremes
  • creates refuges for wildlife and urbanized humans

https://www.ontarionature.org/discover/resources/PDFs/misc/habitat_creation.pdf

If you are thinking about starting a garden or adding to your landscape, keep in mind the large benefits planting native can provide for the environment.

by: Aaliyah Atcha

How to Make Classrooms/Schools Greener

It’s a new school year… and here are some great ways to make your classroom greener. Teachers: Here are a few ways you and your class can become environmental leaders at your school.

The article is called “How to Bring Green into the Classroom” (https://www.treehugger.com/htgg/how-to-go-green-school-teachers.html) and offers a variety of ways you can incorporate eco-friendly practices in the classroom. Alongside the article I also have a few ideas that you might consider for your classroom.

Calculating your carbon footprint

There are many different carbon footprint calculators online (here is one for reference: https://www.treesforlife.org.au/kids-carbon-calculator) that your class can use to see how much of a footprint they have. This is a good way to start a lesson about living more sustainably. It connects students to the environment and the impact that their actions have on it.

Conducting a small scale energy audit in the classroom

This would include having your class observe the different ways they use energy in the class. For example plugged in electronics, the use of lights, and the use of A/C or a heater. After their observations, students can come up with ideas about how to cut back on their use of energy. For example the article outlines turning the lights off before recess, and creating a checklist that students can monitor daily/weekly.

Walk or bike to school

Walking or biking to school can help reduce the amount of carbon emissions being released into the air. Discuss the different benefits of getting to school more “greenly” can have on their health as well as the environment. Perhaps having a walk or bike to school day each week for starters.

Bring plants indoors

Having a section of your classroom where students can take responsibility of caring for plants/growing food can help them connect with the environment and understand how things grow. It can also improve air quality in the classroom.

Litterless lunches

Challenge students to use reusable bottles, containers rather than putting things into the trash. Turn it into a schoolwide initiative where classrooms can compete to see who produces the least amount of waste.

Composting

Consider getting a green bin for your classroom to reduce the amount of food waste going into the trash. Have students take on the responsibility of taking out the green bin so it doesn’t give off a bad stench in the classroom. Also you might want to consider getting a vermicomposter for your classroom. A vermicomposter is the product of the composting process using various species of worms, usually red wigglers to create a heterogeneous mixture of decomposing vegetable or food waste, bedding materials, and vermicast. You can feed the worm’s shredded paper, most vegetable and other food waste while producing healthy rich compost that can be used for planting. Feed your worms a diverse diet and always feed in moderation. If you have left over food that you don’t want to waste; chop it up and put it in a Ziploc bag in your freezer for later.

To learn more about Classroom Greening come for a tour of Green Venture’s Eco House. For more information contact education@greenventure.ca or 905 540 8787 x154 or visit our website at www.greenventure.ca

Aaliyah Atcha

 

Heritage window air testing results

The results of the Mohawk College study into heritage window testing that Green Venture participated in earlier this summer are now available as a download: Window Air Infiltration Research Project

An article about the project also appeared at https://www.treehugger.com/green-architecture/new-study-shows-restored-200-year-old-windows-are-effective-brand-new-replacements.html

Eco-Stars campers in action

We would like to congratulate our Week 2 and Week 3 Eco-star campers! They were filled with energy and curiosity every morning to learn new things about the environment and learn how to make this world greener. We started the week by introducing the campers to our EcoHouse with a tour around the property and inside of the house. We played fun games like predator and prey, water preserving challenge, where the campers got to know each other and make new friends.

Our Eco-stars were visited by the Environment Hamilton, where the campers learned all about different ways to keep our air clean and ways to reduce pollution. They also got to learn and get their hands moving with some tools they used to measure the air quality at different places on the property and correlate and explain the results they received. They did not just use technology to measure air quality but they also got to learn how to use the biological factors to predict the quality of the air. For example they learned about the lichen and how it correlates to the good air quality.

Our campers also had an opportunity to visit Victory Gardens and learn how to harvest different type of crops. Our adventurous campers also had an amazing time on their trip to the Royal Botanical Gardens where they had a chance to go into the forest and feed different types of animals. They also played a fun game where they learned how certain animals collect their food for the winter and the strategies that they use to hide their food in safe places. They were also amused by the Lego statues and the beautiful flowers that were throughout the property.

Craft time was very interesting and fun with our Eco-star campers. They learned about the importance of taking care of our environment and reusing and recycling is one of the main ways to accomplish that. Our campers learned how to make birdfeeders from old water bottles and desk organizers from recycled containers. Stencil making was completed on recycled materials and we made paper from recycled paper. We also used natural material to make fun wood crafts from old tree branches.

 

Smoothie bike was one of our best educational and bonding time. Throughout the week we were able to make some fun recipes as a healthy snack replacement. We learned how to make hummus, orange and lemon popsicles, strawberry jam, and delicious mixed berry smoothies.

Our Eco-star graduates who have been hiking, swimming, learning new things and visiting new places, had to say goodbye to us as the camp weeks came to an end. We have made sure that our little eco-stars graduates for this year that will take pride and care of our planet!

Our newest class of EcoStars just graduated!

Our first week of EcoStars Summer Camp was a success! We had a group of amazing campers who were eager to learn all about the EcoHouse, the environment, and the steps we can take to keep our planet green.

Our week started off with introductions where the camp counsellors and the campers got to know each other a bit better. We played games outside that taught the campers about bee pollination and animal habitats, we visited the bee hotel and became crocodiles for our crocodile race!

Campers got to make their own popsicles using our smoothie bike, we blended watermelon, banana and kiwi and filled up our popsicle molds which we were able to enjoy later on in the week! The EcoStars also made their own salsa where they cut up and blended their own ingredients with the smoothie bike. When the salsa was ready we had a taste test between store bought salsa and the homemade salsa to see which one we liked best. We all agreed the fresh homemade salsa was the winner.

During the week our EcoStars camp was visited by special guests, Environment Hamilton, who taught us all about lichen, air quality and Ontario’s native species. These hands on activities included campers measuring trees with special measuring tape and an iPad app, using air quality machines to measure the quality of air around the Green Venture property, and using hand lens’s to take a closer look at lichen on tree bark.

We took a trip to Mountsberg Consernation Area where campers learned all about energy conservation. We played a clothes line relay race and after lunch campers got to explore the petting zoo, the play area barn and visit some really cool birds including a Turkey Vulture, Bald Eagle and a Snowy Owl.

 

Our week was jam packed with fun, we went swimming at the Wilfred Laurier Recreation Centre, painted and planted in clay pots, made seed balls and did a clean water challenge where teams created water filters to see who’s would filter a mixture of dirt and water the best.

Our week came to an end and we were sad to see our friends go, but before they left all campers graduated from the EcoStars Camp with certificates and took a pledge to keeping our environment healthy. We are looking forward to meeting our next group of campers and can’t wait to have another fun week!

 

 

Summer (not winter) is Coming

It’s almost time for summer camp!
Well it’s that time of year when we pack up all our school tour stuff and get ready for camp!! We have lots of fun trips and activities planned for this year! We are also bringing back the reptile visitors!!! To help me this year with camp I’m excited to introduce you too our  three eager camp counselors: Maple, Tarzan and Smiley.  See you all at camp,

Snow

 

Maple

Hometown: Mississauga, Ontario

Maple, named after her favourite tree, proves true to her name. She is sweet, sappy and goes well with pancakes. She loves long walks on the beach, puppies, and her favourite colour is green.

 When Maple isn’t outside playing in the sun with her friends, you can find her practicing yoga outside in the shade. Ask Maple to show you her favourite moves this summer! She is super excited to be an EcoStars camp leader and can’t wait to meet the campers!

Maple

Maple

 

Smiley

Hometown: Hamilton, Ontario

Smiley loves riding her white bike everywhere. And we mean EVERYWHERE. As far as we can tell, she enjoys watching her friends get tired by taking them on long beautiful hikes in Hamilton. Fun Fact: Since, she’s always discovering waterfalls, her goal this summer is to visit every single one in Hamilton. There’s more than 100 in the area, so let’s see if she can make it!

Smiley takes pride in saving the environment and wants to make sure everyone can enjoy the beautiful scenery in Hamilton. Come join her this summer to learn how to create a sustainable environment while also having fun every step of the way!

 

Tarzan

Hometown: Ancaster, Ontario

While not actually born in Italy, Tarzan takes deep pride in his family’s Italian heritage. He frequently claims his Nonna makes the best pasta in the world and even pronounces the word ‘pasta’ with a fake Italian accent. Despite this, we still love him.

When Tarzan isn’t swinging through the jungle, he can be found at his home in Ancaster trying new smoothie recipes. In fact, it is believed he has created the perfect smoothie formula which he keeps locked away in a vault. We’re pretty sure he just added an extra scoop of ice cream to a strawberry smoothie, but we’ll pretend we don’t know.

Tarzan, Snow and Maple are excited for camp! Have you signed up yet? Click here for more information on how to register: http://greenventure.ca/community/camps/

We have a winner….8 of them!

The Green Venture EcoStar Challenge has come to an end. We were so excited to have 1326 students from 79 different classes participate! After entering all the 111 challenges complete by these students, we drew for our Grand Prize Winners. A big congratulations to:

  • Hillcrest
  • Parkdale
  • St. Patrick
  • St. Brigid
  • Dr. Davey
  • Dundana
  • R.A. Riddell
  • St. Marguerite d’Youville

The winning schools have the choice of three Grand Prizes: a school tour of EcoHouse, our smoothie bike for a week, or a vermicomposting bin for their classroom. During the challenge we were able to see that many actions, small and large, are happening at schools around Hamilton. All the completed challenges have been entered on the Hamilton Climate Change Map, so you can see what students are working on in your part of Hamilton.

We hope that all the students who participated in our EcoStar Challenge will continue to learn about the environment and take actions to protect it.

Heritage window testing project

Can a restored heritage window work as well as a new vinyl one? GV is contributing to a fascinating project with Mohawk College: air testing a restored heritage window:

This is a research project by Shannon Kyles for Mohawk College Applied Research

The research project initialized by Shannon Kyles is aimed at determining the thermal efficiency and air infiltration of restored 19th century windows compared to new 21st century windows. The research will address this question: Is it true that restored wooden windows are less energy efficient than new ones?

In order to provide the most energy efficient building possible, John Deelstra, Mark Lucking and Brad MacDonald of Mohawk’s Building Reno department have worked with Shannon Kyles to construct a test building. Industry partners Roxul and Turkstra Lumber have helped to provide quality products. Green Venture will be providing the Blower Door Test.

For more information about the project, email shannon.kyles@mohawkcollege.ca

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Countdown is on: last month of EcoStars Challenge!

This is the final month of the Green Venture EcoStars Challenge! To celebrate the diversity of activities happening in classes and schools around the city, we are going to take a look at what is happening at Parkdale Elementary School. They have taken on projects both large and small:

  • GOOS paper (good on one side): keep extra paper to use as scrap
  • Hydration Station: just got a water station that allows students to refill water bottles
  • Reusable Water Bottles with School Logo: selling Parkdale water bottles to encourage
  • use of hydration station
  • The Lorax: grade 2’s are studying the Dr.Seuss book
  • Bank of Computers: reduce paper use by completing written tasks on Google Drive
  • Save Lunchable Covers: collect and return covers to the company, who then donates school supplies and recycles/reuses the sleeves
  • Reusable Snack Bins: Tupperware used in daily snack program to avoid waste
  • Recycle: all paper and plastic is recycle in every class

Good job Parkdale staff and students!