Since its creation in 1994, the Aldo Leopold Nature Center (ALNC) has helped connect many people, young and old, to nature in south-central Wisconsin. The center continues to successfully foster the development of a deeper understanding of the land for citizens of Madison and the surrounding areas in the way that naturalist, Aldo Leopold, did decades ago. Through programming including pre-school, summer camps, after school programs, public programs, special events, and more, ALNC has also fostered “admiration and respect for nature, and encourages sustainability and stewardship of the land”.
The ALNC has two facilities that they maintain year-round for environmental education opportunities. According to the ALNC website the Monona Campus provides interpretive trails spanning 94 acres that lead visitors through a wide variety of ecosystems and habitats. The Black Earth Campus provides 38 acres of “rugged, unglaciated terrain” for hiking. Additionally, on both of these campuses, there are many buildings for programming and special events that visitors can take full advantage of.
So this summer when you or your family is looking for an outdoor adventure to be able to enjoy Wisconsin’s environment sun up to sun down, look no further than the Aldo Leopold Nature Center. With your participation and with so much to offer on both campuses, ALNC is clearly leading the way to engage, educate and empower the next generation of stewards of the land for a healthy, happy and sustainable future.
image credit: http://aldoleopoldnaturecenter.org/
Not sure what to do with your old electronics and batteries? Are you uncertain of where to dispose of unused pesticides and poisons? Well, look no further! Dane County Clean Sweep is here to help. For a nominal fee, residents of Dane County have the opportunity to safely dispose of unwanted chemicals, paint, and other hazardous materials and eliminate the environmental risks that are associated with their improper disposal.
Located at 7102 US Hwy 12/18 across from the Yahara Hills Golf Course, residents and businesses alike can bring a wide range of materials to the facility to be properly disposed of. For a full list of accepted items, visit www.danecountycleansweep.com.
To prepare for your visit, waste materials should be packaged in boxes or rigid totes to keep products upright and prevent spillage during transportation to the facility. Make sure to keep all materials in their original packaging and do not co-mingle products together in plastic bags.
While the program does accept items from both residents and businesses, the associated fees vary. Dane County households and farms will be charged $10.00 per trip for hazardous wastes and electronics (The first CRT TV or CRT computer monitor is free with paid trip fee!) For businesses, fees are based on weight and the type of waste being disposed of. Electronics are not accepted from businesses. Businesses must also qualify as Very Small Quantity Generators (VSQG’s) as well as schedule an appointment prior to bringing wastes to the collection facility. Out-of-county businesses are welcome. Out-of-county households and farms will be charged $75.00 per trip and are unable to bring latex paints and electronics.
The facility also offers a product exchange program which features a large area devoted to product reuse. If items are received in good condition, they are stocked on the shelves of the product exchange room for redistribution to the public. The program is free and Dane County residents are allowed a single entry to the room per week. For more details on the product exchange program, visit danecountycleansweep.com.
Once you arrive at the Clean Sweep facility, you will have to provide proof of residency and pay accordingly in the form of cash or credit card (MasterCard or Visa only).
If you didn’t have a chance to finish up your spring cleaning, now is the time to round up all of those last lingering items and dispose of them in an environmentally friendly way!
image credit: http://www.danecountycleansweep.com/
Collectively, Americans spend about $40 billion annually on lawn care including grass seed, sod, and synthetic chemicals. Much of the money we spend on our lawn cares goes towards products that “help” grass only in the most superficial ways and that actually degrade the soil underneath, pollute our drinking water and lakes through contaminated runoff, and can pose serious health threats to pets and wildlife in the area, including birds.*
However, maintaining a pristine lawn doesn’t have to be harsh on our wallets or on the environment. There are other options for caring for our yards that can be more cost-effective and help our communities avoid many of the negative environmental impacts of overspreading synthetic chemicals, for example.
Chemical fertilizers typically contain high levels of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and other elements that can help grow strong grass and grass roots, but too much of a good thing can be bad. In fact, when we overspread fertilizer on our yards, 40-60% of this fertilizer can ultimately leach away and pollute our ground water and have the potential to eventually reach and pollute our precious lakes. This spring, consider spreading less fertilizer than in previous years and less than might be recommended by the lawn care product company. If necessary, add water-insoluble organic fertilizers and do not fertilize your lawn when there is heavy rain in the forecast, in order to prevent extra runoff.
Additionally, leaving grass clippings on your lawn after mowing can add nitrogen back into the ground through the natural breaking-down of the clippings. Similarly, allowing plants like clover to grow in your yard in addition to grass can help prevent erosion, smother weeds, and clover also naturally fixes nitrogen in the soil, reducing the need for fertilizer application.#
When shopping for household needs, food, clothing, etc. consider buying from a local, Wisconsin, Dane County, or City of Madison vendor, first.
Primarily, buying local keeps more of your money in the community. When you buy something from a local store or artisan, they are then more likely to reinvest their money in the community which can lead to further growth of other local business. This can eventually, hopefully, perpetuate the cycle of primarily buying and selling locally within your community.
Furthermore, buying local can reduce the environmental impact of your purchases as far as transportation and manufacturing costs. There is arguably a slightly higher chance that the goods you purchase locally were made or constructed with local, unique materials. Thus, local goods travel less miles than goods purchased online from out-of-state or overseas.
Lastly, by making the choice to keep your hard-earned money within the community, you encourage others to do the same. Lead by example and spread the word about all of the awesome local vendors you’ve heard of or had experience with.
Watch this video by Dane Buy Local for an illustration of how buying local can keep our community vital, and next time you go shopping, think local first.
image credit: http://pureella.com/green-spring-cleaning-tips/
It’s that time of year again; time to get started on your annual spring cleaning. No matter what your spring cleaning project may be, here are some tips to get you started on not simply spring cleaning, but green, spring cleaning that is good for you, your home, and the planet.
Most importantly, when cleaning-up or cleaning-out, we should keep in mind the after effects of our actions. For example, scrubbing the counters with harsh chemicals and massive amounts of paper towels will leave our kitchen full of toxic chemical fumes and a ton of waste. Instead consider wiping down the counters with a mixture of vinegar and baking soda using a reusable cloth. Similarly, if cleaning-out and getting rid of things is your priority this spring, don’t just throw items in the trash. Instead consider making something out of that “junk” or putting those old clothes and toys together as a donation to your local Resale Shop or host a garage sale to find your used items a new home. One person’s trash can be another person’s treasure.
Ultimately, neither spring cleaning-out nor spring cleaning-up need adversely affect the environment or your family by adding waste to landfills or toxins to the air. Instead, consider how the spring cleaning choices you make in your own home actually have the potential to be Earth-friendly.
Check out these sites for more information: http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/wellness_articles.asp?id=1073
According to the national ASPCA, approximately 5 million to 7 million companion animals enter animal shelters nationwide every year. This number doesn’t even include the wildlife that shelters like the Dane County Humane Society take in each year. All of these animals require a lot of TLC (tender loving care) to get healthy enough to hopefully get adopted or released back into the wild. In addition to a substantial need for people to adopt animals or donate funds, Dane County Humane Society also needs many supplies in order to provide the best care possible to the animals that come through their facilities. This is where you come in.
The Dane County Humane Society has a regularly updated wishlist of items available on their website: https://www.giveshelter.org/wish-list.html. Consider organizing a shelter supply drive at your local community center, school, office, etc. or perhaps next time you are at the grocery store or pet store, consider picking up some ‘Doggies Delights’, ‘Feline Fancies’, or ‘Wildlife Wants’ as included in the list. Through your donation, you will be supporting the Dane County Humane Society in making big changes in the lives of the animals they care for. For more information about the Dane County Humane Society, visit their website: https://www.giveshelter.org/.