Recycling: Decoded

Have you ever wanted to recycle but were confused as to what the real benefits, if any, were? Well have no fear! Today, we are going to break down the complexities of recycling into an easy to understand format to solve all your qualms. 

The United States Environmental Protection Agency states that recycling reduces the amount of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere that contribute to global climate change, saves energy and helps sustain the environment for future generations. 

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Basically, recycling is taking something you’ve used and turning it into something new. This can mean turning an old plant container into a place to store change, or simply turning in used paper cups to be recycled into a different paper product. The planet will thank you no matter how you recycle.

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So let’s get down to business. What can be recycled? The basics:

  • Paper
  • Plastics
  • Metals
  • Batteries
  • Glass
  • Used oil

Now that you know what the general materials are, there is still some sleuthing needed to be done. Plastics are a tricky section due to the vast array of different types. These different varieties are labeled numbers 1-7 because they are recycled in different ways. 

The bad guy you need to stay away from is number 7. This kind of plastic is called polystyrene and is hardly ever recycled. This includes styrofoam, CD cases and disposable razors. No wonder it is on the environmentalist hit list! 

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Now, we need to discuss how you can get involved. Don’t worry, it’s easy!

Simply search online for recycling opportunities in your community or call your waste service provider to see if they have any recycling options that you can participate in. Even if you aren’t able to have a recycling bin outside of your door, making a trip to the local recycling plant once a month will do wonders for the environment around you.

Obviously, recycling can get more in-depth than this, so we encourage you to do a bit of snooping around to learn more about how you can aid in saving the ecosystem!

Animal of the Month– The Red-cockaded Woodpecker

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Hey there, folks! This week The Tree Doctors would like to show you which animals we’re helping to save in the longleaf pine forests near you! One of the more interesting creatures is the red-cockaded woodpecker, who’s native to the southeastern United States found along the coastal regions between Texas and Virginia.

The reason we find this bird so interesting resides within its rarity. Amid several other animals, this species of woodpecker is indigenous to only certain areas of Louisiana. Our trends of eco-friendly decisions with regard to preserving local ecosystems make us proud to say we’re saving such a cute little creature!

According to ecological research, it feeds primarily on ants, beetles, cockroaches, caterpillars, wood-boring insects, and spiders, and occasionally fruit and berries. All of its prey and food can be attributed to the longleaf pine ecosystem. It’s a nonmigratory bird with a semi-permanent mate (between five to seven years), thus ecological preservation is detrimental. It just doesn’t have another home to go to!

Overall, there have been focused efforts for this woodpecker since the Endangered Species act in 1970. Its nesting habitate is highly important to its reproduction, so much management has be dedicated to creating more ideal nesting sites. These nesting clusters have been spared from forestry activity, such as gathering trees for papermaking, to preserve their growth. The use of controlled burning has been used to reduce the deciduous growth around nesting colonies, too, so that the animals can have their ideal, adequate homes!

Earth Day: What It Is & Why You Should Care

La. Earth Day

Louisiana Earth Day is officially one month away! We’re getting really excited for the big event and want to spread that on to you! But it can be hard to look forward to something when you’re not entirely certain what it is. This post is going to be all about Earth Day, both the Baton Rouge event and the international holiday.

Prior to the ’70s, people did not have much concern for protecting the earth. Instances like this clip from Mad Men were not uncommon. But it wasn’t just small disregard; there were also huge catastrophes. After the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, Ca., Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, knew the time for intervention had come. He accumulated many supporters and founded Earth Day on April 22,1970, and it has been celebrated on this day every year since.

This worldwide holiday serves as a reminder and renewal of humanity’s responsibilities to protect the world we live in. Earth Day celebrates all aspects of environmental protection from clean air, to endangered species, to community ecosystems.

The Baton Rouge Louisiana Earth Day event will be celebrated April 21, a Sunday, to allow families to enjoy the event on a weekend. It will be held downtown and begin at noon and conclude at 8:30 p.m. There will be food, music and educational opportunities supported by more than 400 volunteers.

So why is this so important to us? Louisiana has a diverse and rich natural environment. It is home to countless species of animals and vegetation, coastal land, forests, rivers, lakes and much more. Every aspect of Louisiana life is dependent on these environmental factors. They support leisurely activities like hunting or fishing, and more importantly support the livelihood of many Louisianians like farmers or costal researchers.

If all of those reasons didn’t convince you to come out and support Louisiana Earth Day (especially the Tree Doctors!), then check out these links. It’s important to the earth, to Louisiana and especially to you and your family!

Earth Day

http://www.earthday.org/earth-day-history-movement

BR Event

http://www.laearthday.org/

-Lindsey Tassin

Remember When…

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Remember when you woke up on summer days, ate your breakfast and couldn’t wait to run outside to play with your friends? I do.  Many children these days won’t have memories like that because they spend most of their free time inside the house playing video games or watching TV.  We need to get kids playing outdoors again and spending more time exploring nature instead of digital worlds.  Several studies have shown that unstructured playtime in nature makes kids happier, more self-disciplined, physically healthier and smarter.  If these new generations of children don’t experience the importance of nature, it will only affect them negatively in the future.

In a published study by the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, researchers found that in the nearly 9,000 preschool-aged children they surveyed, only half of them spent time playing outside every day.  According to this study, “outside play” may become a thing of the past for children.  This is something that parents need to make an effort to change.  The nature that surrounds us is basically unlimited and should be taken advantage of.

Media has had a large effect on children’s playtime as well.  Parents are more hesitant and restrictive about their children playing outdoors because of abductions and pedophiles.  But there are solutions to these fears.  Parents can establish ground rules with their children that will make them safer and make parents feel better about their kids being outside. Parents can also take their children to reserved nature camps such as Camp Whispering Pines. These reserved nature camps are safe and a great way for children to soak up some Vitamin D and explore the world around them.  Children can also develop a personal connection to nature by attending summer camps at these nature reserves and parents will feel better about sending their kids to secure camps.  Unfortunately we can’t predict what will come from these next generations, but I for one am hoping for some nature lovers.

Baton Rouge Green Fixes up the City!

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Baton Rouge Green is a local non-profit organization dedicated to sprucing up urban areas and encouraging citizens to plant and conserve the community’s trees. I got the opportunity to volunteer with this wonderful society a few weeks ago to plant trees in the Greater Baton Rouge area at the Burden Center for their Arbor Day event.

 

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Even though the weather was cold and wet, there was no stopping the handful of volunteers dedicated to planting trees in this devastated forest area. Oak trees, cypress trees and magnolia trees were in our hands, and soon in the ground.

 

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BR Green is similar to the efforts of the environmental conservation lab class simply because, whether it is by planting trees or getting rid of excess foliage on the forest floor, they are both looking to conserve and take care of our environment. This area of the research center was devastated by Hurricane Gustav, and BR Green wanted to help reforest the area for future generations. 

 

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BR Green managed to write down the coordinates for each tree planted so that volunteers and families could watch the tree grow via an online GPS tracking website. Isn’t that awesome?

 

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This goes to show that no matter where you live or what you do, there is always an opportunity to help your local ecosystem – it can be as simple as planting a native tree at a local park.

So how about it? Grab a shovel, plant a tree and watch your hard work grow tall and strong. There is no doubt that you will feel pride watching it grow.

 

– Jesse Tate

A Sapling from the Ashes

A Sapling from the Ashes

The sun gives life to everything on Earth, even though fire is often associated with death. But is death always the means to an end?  Consider an example from Greek mythology. A phoenix is cyclically reborn from the ashes of its predecessors.  It is only through the ashes that life can arise, according to the legend .

The same holds true for our environmental efforts. Prescribed burning is a controlled method of isolating a specific area of the forest and burning away the dead vegetation. The growth of longleaf pines is stimulated through the use of fire. With its aid, we’re able to remove the stifling hardwood from the forest floor that suffocates its undergrowth. This encourages new trees to receive the necessary oxygen and sunlight needed to grow .

Research shows that many have  skepticism concerning this method, and describe it as hazardous without a thorough understanding. We would like to convey the safety measures and extreme precautions assigned to each area. The last thing ecological advocates want to do is cause harm to the land they’re dedicated to protecting!

Our hope is to demonstrate suitable forest management  and eliminate the negative connotation that looms over prescribed burning methods. Just as the Greeks did, we believe that with death comes even more new life. We can’t provide a habitat for the phoenix, but we can relish in our efforts to provide a home for the nature and wildlife here today .

Who are the “Tree Doctors?”

Well, they’re a biology group at LSU, who are dedicated to conserving the Long Leaf Pine Trees at Camp Whispering Pines. They understand the importance of preserving and controlling the ecosystems that are so important to the Louisiana landscape and want you to understand too!

Some grow-up Long Leaf Pines

Some grow-up Long Leaf Pines

These nature doctors visit the forest site and take measurements of baby Long Leaf Pines. The measurements are then used in research to keep track of growth and other statistics that aid in the conservation plans. But what do these conservation plans entail? Simple answer: Fire.

Okay, okay, hold on- let me explain. Parts of the forest undergo prescribed burning after much consideration and testing. These prescribed burns are actually an effective and safe way to help clear the forest of invasive species. Even more interesting – the fire actually stimulates the Long Leaf’s growth because they’re baby, green centers are resistant to it.

I’m sure you’re still a little skeptical. Who wouldn’t be after seeing the destruction of the wildfires in California this summer on the news? But prescribed burnings are not (let me repeat, are NOT) anything like wild fires. They are completely controlled and done in a purposeful manner. In fact, the prescribed burning eliminates old or dry vegetation, which could actually cause a wildfire if left untreated. Talk about fighting fire with fire, huh?

The doctors give the trees their dose of fiery medicine every so often and end up saving the entire ecosystem. The trees are able to grow in a good environment, which produce homes for critters and other vegetation. It makes the areas much more balanced and lively. You can always go see for yourself at Camp Whispering Pines.

We hope you enjoyed an introduction into the intriguing process of the Tree Doctors and keep checking back for much more information. I’ll even give you a teaser: “Phoenix from the Flame,” and “Animal of the Week.”

 

-Lindsey Tassin