Three New Books on the Environment

Enjoy browsing these beautifully illustrated titles in the series Orca Footprints:

Brilliant: Shining a Light on Sustainable Energy by Michelle Mulder

Down to Earth
Down to Earth: How Kids Help Feed the World by Nikki Tate

Pedal it
Pedal It!  How Bicycles are Changing the World by Michelle Mulder


Ceiling Fans

Picture of one of the ceiling fans in my colle...

Has it been a while since you’ve used your ceiling fan?  Once I learned that ceiling fans can help move warm air as well as cool you off, I started using mine year-round.  On cold days, you want the fan blades to move clockwise so that the heated air is spread around the room.  In the hot summer, set the fan blades to turn counterclockwise to keep you cool.

Once you have watched which way the fan blades are turning, turn the fan off and wait for it to stop moving.  Look on the side of the fan for a switch.  If you need to change from clockwise to counterclockwise, just flip the switch.

Using the fan may let you set the thermostat to a cooler temperature in the winter and a warmer temperature in the summer so you save energy.

I found these tips in Dare to Repair: A Do-It-Herself Guide to Fixing (almost) Anything in the Home by Julie Sussman and Stephanie Glakas-Tenet.

For a collection of even more ideas for keeping cool, check out 5 Old-School Ways to Stay Cool this Summer from the website for Organic Gardening Magazine.

Biking in Bolingbrook


Bicycle (Photo credit: paulhami)

Michael Young (from the nonprofit West Town Bikes) wants to help you have fun riding your bicycle!  Come hear him from 10:00-noon on Saturday, June 22.  He will cover safety topics like making sure your bicycle and helmet fit well, preventing flats, and checking your bike to make sure it is safe to ride.

While you’re in Meeting Room A, pick up local bike trail maps, bicycle safety information, and giveaways.  You can also enter a drawing for a chance to win a gift certificate to a local bike shop!


Community Gardening in Bolingbrook

community garden, Colorado becominggreenblog.c...

community garden, Colorado… (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do you wish you could plant a garden, but you don’t have the space?  The Bolingbrook Park District is offering spaces in its community garden.  10 foot by 10 foot garden plots are $20 for the growing season, and water is provided.   Call (630) 739-2600 for more information.

Volunteers wanted for annual DuPage River cleanup

DuPage River Greenway Flooded

DuPage River Greenway Flooded (Photo credit: Chad Horwedel)

Are you ready for some spring cleaning– outdoors?  The Conservation Foundation is looking for volunteers for the morning of Saturday, May 18, for the annual DuPage River cleanup.  To participate in Bolingbrook at Hidden Lakes Historic Trout Farm, contact Kate Dorick at

The sweep has removed items as large as a vending machine from the river in the past.  Who knows what volunteers might find this year?

National Drug Take Back Initiative – Bugle Newspapers: Bolingbrook

The Bolingbrook Police Department will once again participate in the DEA National Prescription Drug Take Back Initiative.

via National Drug Take Back Initiative – Bugle Newspapers: Bolingbrook.

Celebrating 175 Years of John Muir


As a parent and educator, I cringe when I hear these words come out of the mouths of children, and it happens far too often. A new book by Barb Rosenstock may help me change some of that.

The Camping Trip that Changed America
The Camping Trip that Changed America: Theodore Roosevelt, John Muir, and our National Parks by Barb Rosenstock

“The Camping Trip that Changed America” is a book about a time when the Yosemite Valley was a vast wilderness. John Muir feared that progress and greed might jeopardize all that, so he began a campaign to educate our government, in an effort to protect certain lands for public pleasure. This book describes a real time in history when John Muir and President Theodore Roosevelt spent time together, which became the foundation of our country’s amazing National Park System.


As a big fan of our National Park Service, I urge everyone to take advantage of land that has already been designated “Yours.” Wilderness and wildlife, protected so that each new generation see the land as it was, unpolluted and magnificent. -Kathy B.

Safe and Sustainable Fish

This time of year, when many Christians are observing Lent, you see lots of fish on sale at the supermarket and lots of seafood specials at restaurants.  There are two environmental questions that may come to mind if you are considering a meal of fish.  One is how the fish will affect you– does it come from an environment contaminated by mercury or anything else that is harmful?  The other is whether the fish has been caught in a way that is sustainable (doesn’t harm the fish species by overfishing, and doesn’t cause other harm to the environment).
A pamphlet I received from the American Heart Association had some advice about kinds of fish to eat and to avoid.  Families that include young children or women who are pregnant or breastfeeding will want to avoid fish that are high in mercury, such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish.  Since albacore (or “white”) tuna contains more mercury than “light” tuna, it is best to limit it to once a week if it could affect a developing child.  Teenagers and adults are not as vulnerable to mercury.  If you catch and eat your own fish you can check local Fish Advisory information (available where you buy your fishing license, and on an information page from the Department of Public Health).

Sustainability is a trickier topic.  I grew up in the suburbs of Detroit, Michigan, and we sometimes watched news broadcasts from Canada that came over the river.  I didn’t understand a lot of it at the time, but there was a major crisis going on in the Canadian fishing industry.  The populations of some fish had shrunk so much that people worried there were not enough adult fish left to keep those species going.  Fishermen were worried about their way of life, and whether government limits on their fishing would prevent a future with no fish to catch.  My family enjoys folk music, and we had discovered some favorite Canadian musicians by the time I was in high school.  I remember titles like “No Herring Left in the Bay,” the lyric “it’s good that the smelt has no lovelier name,” and descriptions of young people leaving fishing towns to find work.

Some of that came back to me when I read World Without Fish by Mark Kurlansky.  The author (and sometimes his cartoon alter ego, Kram) explains the intertwining problems that might lead to a future without fish.  These include pollution and global warming as well as overfishing.  He uses fishing for cod in Canada’s Grand Banks as an example of how a community and an economy can be devastated by overfishing, and how even a years-long fishing ban can’t always bring back a population of fish.  He also makes an example of Orange Roughy, a fish I ate regularly and grudgingly during Lent, until it was suddenly no longer available.  The book does not characterize the situation as hopeless.  The author sees sustainable fishing as the best way forward, and gives readers a set of tools for choosing fish wisely: where and how a fish is caught is important!

One tool he discusses in the book is the list of Seafood Recommendations from the Monterey Bay Aquarium.  It is now available as an app as well as a printable pocket guide.  You can find plenty of information about what makes a good choice of seafood and why.  Details like whether the fish are farmed or wild caught matter– but the sustainable option can vary by the species.  There are also labels for certified sustainable seafood.  However, there are concerns about whether all the seafood with these labels is really sustainable.  More businesses want to sell only sustainable seafood, which is a commendable desire, but there may not be enough sustainably fished seafood to meet the demand for it.  Kurlansky concludes his book with guidelines for fish eaters: “Beware of fish that is very inexpensive,” for example, and “Beware of new types of fish that are suddenly being seen everywhere.”  He also emphasizes that “We need more information and we should demand it.”

Shedding more light on CFL, LED bulbs

New Year for Trees

Did you know there’s a holiday all about trees?  It’s a Jewish holiday, and if you write down the Hebrew name of it in the English alphabet you might get Tu B’Shevat, Tu Bishvat, or Tu B’Shvat.  In Israel and some other places where the climate is suitable that time of year, people observe the holiday by planting trees.  People will also often celebrate the holiday by enjoying fruits and nuts that grow on trees.  You might have come across an example of this in the Chicago Tribune’s Holiday Cookie Contest this year, which honored a recipe for Middle East Fruit Bars that Catherine Hall created for the holiday.  Here are a few new items in the library collection about Tu B’Shvat:

Happy Birthday Tree
Happy Birthday, Tree!  A Tu B’Shevat Story by Madelyn Rosenberg

Joni and Nate figure out how to celebrate a tree’s birthday for Tu B’Shevat.

Recipe and Craft Guide to Israel
Recipe and Craft Guide to Israel by Laya Saul

Learn about the “Birthday of the Trees,” make a salad with dried and fresh fruits, and craft a flowering tree with tissue paper.

Shalom Sesame: Grover Plants a Tree
Grover Plants a Tree

Grover, Brosh, and Avigail get back to nature as they learn how to plant trees and make the world a better place.

« Older entries

%d bloggers like this: