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How to reduce your formaldehyde exposure

Queen of Green | April 18, 2014 | 139 comments
Photo: How to reduce your formaldehyde exposure

The Queen of Green was featured on Dr.Oz, Friday April 18, 2014!

What's colourless, preserves frogs, coats pillow cases and impregnates 'no-iron' shirts?

Answer: formaldehyde.

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Four reasons why Vaisakhi is awesome

Photo: Four reasons why Vaisakhi is awesome

The David Suzuki Foundation at the Annual Vaisakhi Parade in Vancouver. Photos by Adam Bhinder from Vivid Dreams Vancouver

By Harpreet Johal, Public Engagement Specialist

On Saturday, April 12, the David Suzuki Foundation took part in Vancouver's annual Vaisakhi, the annual harvest and New Year's festival that also commemorates the establishment of the Khalsa—the global collective of devout Sikhs. If you've never attended, we encourage you to experience it at least once in your local area! Here are a few reasons why:

1. Sense of community Our digital world provides instant information and global connection. Yet studies show people feel increasingly isolated. Vaisakhi parades illustrate how communities can work together, including hundreds of local families preparing and serving free food for a day of celebration—a great lesson on how we can come together and give back without sitting in front of a computer.

2. Yummy food Vaisakhi parade food is amazing—mostly home-cooked, vegetarian and free. There are also local efforts to encourage recycling and use of biodegradable utensils.

3. Music and dance For the parade, the David Suzuki Foundation partnered with RJ1200 and South Asian Arts. The result: we got to march with the city's best dhol players and 50 Chinese bhangra dancers from Simon Fraser University. How is that for cross-cultural celebration?

4. Connecting with nature The average Canadian spends more than 90 per cent of his or her time indoors and more than six hours in front of a screen (i.e. computer, TV). The Vaisakhi parade provides an opportunity to get outside, spend time with family and friends, and get immersed in Sikh culture. To learn more about the benefits of nature, please check out our Punjabi by Nature Challenge.

Enjoy candid shots from Vaisakhi 2014 by Adam Bhinder from Vivid Dreams Vancouver

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Is it time for a real war on cars?

Science Matters | April 17, 2014 | 1 comment
Photo: Is it time for a real war on cars?

There is no war on cars — but there should be. (Credit: poeloq)

By David Suzuki with contributions from Ian Hanington, Senior Editor

In railing against everything from bike lanes to transit spending, pundits and politicians often raise the spectre of a "war on cars." Of course, there is no war on cars — but there should be.

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Nature meets art in Vancouver's urban green spaces

Photo: Nature meets art in Vancouver's urban green spaces

By: Theresa Beer, Communications Specialist

The fast pace of city life creates a sense of unease for many urbanites, including stressed-out students. So what happens if you turn urban natural spaces into university classrooms? Emily Carr University of Art + Design students who joined the Rewilding Vancouver Community Projects course found out first-hand. Equipped with insights on rewilding from guest curator and author J.B. MacKinnon and a natural capital perspective from us, they were asked to produce videos about the transformative impact of time spent in nature.

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The ABC's of planet saving

Queen of Green | April 16, 2014 | Leave a comment
Photo: The ABC's of planet saving

Being outside reduces stress, anger and depression, and increases creativity, curiosity and problem-solving ability. (Credit: Brendon Purdy Photography)

Happy Earth Month from my family to yours:

A is for animal sign. Look for claw marks on trees or scat (poop). Moose scat looks like chocolate almonds, elk scat resembles chocolate kisses and deer scat looks like chocolate-covered raisins!

B is for batteries. Children play longer with no-battery toys than ones that do everything for them. Wooden blocks and puzzles boost critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

C is for coyote. Urban coyotes can become more aggressive as they get more comfortable around people, so haze coyotes you encounter: stand tall, wave your arms and yell!

D is for diapers. "Elimination communication" toilet trains using a combination of signals, timing and body language. Fewer diapers saves money and stops landfill clogging.

E is for essential oils. Instead of DEET — a suspected neurotoxin and respiratory toxin — -battle skeeters with herbal repellents containing citronella, eucalyptus or peppermint essential oils.

F is for fundraising. Turn stuff into cash for your kid's hockey team or school! Recycle e-waste and keep old and obsolete electronics out of landfills by sending them to ThinkRecycle.

G is for garden. Raised garden beds provide good drainage and act as slug barriers. Construct them on top of lawns with rot- and insect-resistant natural cedar.

H is for honey. Choose organic honey from hives that don't use non-organic honey, sugar or antibiotics. Look for the EcoCert, USDA organic, or Certified Organic Association of B.C. logos.

I is for injured wildlife. Never capture a sick or injured wild animal. Call a wildlife rehabilitation facility so staff can provide humane care.

J is for jojoba oil. Make baby massage oil. Add one tablespoon each of jojoba, sweet almond and olive oils to a bottle and shake to blend. Apply with warm hands.

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Will we ever learn to celebrate Earth Month?

Science Matters | April 10, 2014 | 4 comments
Photo: Will we ever learn to celebrate Earth Month?

There's no excuse to keep on destroying our home. If we are to observe Earth Day and Earth Month, let's make it a time to celebrate, not to despair.

By David Suzuki with contributions from Ian Hanington, Senior Editor

April is Earth Month, and April 22 Earth Day. We should really celebrate our small blue planet and all it provides every day, but recent events give us particular cause to reflect on our home and how we're treating it.

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How to create a butterfly garden

Queen of Green | April 8, 2014 | Leave a comment
Photo: How to create a butterfly garden

Did you know butterflies are active from about 10 AM to 3 PM? (Credit: Lindsay Coulter)

All gardens are not created equal. Just ask any butterfly.

Creation and restoration of butterfly habitat offsets those destroyed by development, roadside mowing or wetland drainage. (Gardening pesticide-free helps, too.)

Whether you have a small plot in the big city or a few acres, transform your yard into a butterfly garden!

What you'll need to attract butterflies

Choose native flowers and shrubs. Butterflies need nectar plants for food and host plants to lay their eggs. Check out this index of larval food plants (listed alphabetically)!

  • Tiger swallowtails choose nectar plants like lilacs or bee balm; nearby willow, alder, or apple trees can host larva
  • Painted ladies choose nectar plants like aster, cosmos or zinnia; host plants include thistle, mallow or hollyhock
  • Monarchs choose nectar plants like, black-eyed Susan, Canada goldenrod, wild bergamot and common yarrow; host plants include the milkweed family. (There are four most common species of milkweed in Canada — swamp (aka rose) , poke, butterfly (aka orange), showy and common. Choose the species that is native to your area.)
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