It may still be winter outside, but it’s not too early to start planning a native plant garden at this free, workshop designed for new homeowners, beginning gardeners and those curious about native plants.
Learn about favorite native species, how and where to plant natives and simple garden templates to try in your garden at Introduction to Native Landscaping: Native Plants for Novices from 6 – 8 p.m. on Tuesday, February 20 at Anita B. Gorman Discovery Center, 4750 Troost Ave., Kansas City, MO.
Stephen Van Rhein, Missouri Department of Conservation
William Roth Gibson, Green Thumb Gardens and Down To Earth Services
Courtney Masterson, University of Kansas and Native Lands, LLC
This year, treat your loved one to an eco-friendly Valentine’s Day that focuses on togetherness, instead of lots of stuff. There’s even an idea for those who are not celebrating the day. Either way, you’ll support local farmers, restaurants, gardens, parks, orchestras, the zoo and even Goodwill.
1. Kiss & Tail at the K.C. Zoo
The Kansas City Zoo is turning up the heat with its Valentine’s Kiss and Tail night on Saturday, February 10. How do animals attract a mate and what happens when it’s time to get romantic? See their courtship rituals played out through a new show by The Living Room Theatre. Organizers say it’s guaranteed to make you laugh, and probably blush. This adults-only event begins at 6:30 p.m. with hors d’oeuvres and live music by Calvin Arsenia. Tickets are $40 each for Friends of the Zoo and $50 each for the public. The zoo is located at 6800 Zoo Drive, Kansas City, MO. Purchase advance tickets at the Kansas City Zoo.
Or share the love by adopting a zoo animal. To purchase a Valentine Adoption Package, visit the K.C. Zoo to see the package options. Orders must to be placed by Thursday, February 8 to receive a certificate by Valentine’s Day.
2. Treat your date to a day of orchids at Powell Gardens
Celebrate a love for plants with this special orchid greenhouse workshop at Powell Gardens. In this three-hour We Love Orchids session, participants will learn about basic orchid care, several easy orchids to grow, orchid fertilizing, and how and why to repot orchids.
The workshop is from 9 a.m. – Noon on Thursday, February 15. Participants will be repotting orchids from Powell Gardens’ collections to gain professional-level expertise. Everyone will receive a small orchid start to take home.
The class fee is $35. To register, go to Powell Gardens. The garden is located at 1609 N.W. U.S. Highway 50, Kingsville, MO.
3. Lock your love on Old Red Bridge
Give your honey a personalized padlock to proclaim your unbreakable and everlasting love. Yes, it’s a “thing,” but it supports a Kansas City Parks and Recreation Department effort.
The parks department is encouraging couples to “lock your love” by placing padlocks on the historic Old Red Bridge in Minor Park. The old bridge is adjacent to the new bridge located on Red Bridge Road between Holmes and Blue River roads in south Kansas City.
K.C. Parks receives a portion of the proceeds for each personalized lock purchased at Lock-Itz. Include “I LOVE KC Parks!” in the notes section when you order. Locks from Lovelocks can be purchased at the Minor Park Golf Course Pro Shop, 11215 Holmes Road, Kansas City, MO.
The original Old Red Bridge was built in 1859 and was painted red, hence the origin of “Red Bridge.” It was dismantled in 1892, and the wood was recycled into barns by local farmers. A steel bridge, called a “tin” bridge, also painted red, replaced it. A third bridge was built in 1932 during the depression.
In 2013, the parks department repurposed the Old Red Bridge as the Love Locks Bridge. More than 3,500 locks have been placed on the bridge since opening in February of 2013. A parks department representative said the bridge can easily handle the weight of the locks and the promotion helps keep lovebirds from tossing their locks into the water below. The bridge is also a popular wedding location.
4. Eat, drink and enjoy Valentine Serenades
Join fellow music lovers for the Valentine Serenades to celebrate Valentine’s Day and Mardi Gras with the Kansas City Chamber Orchestra strings.
The evening will feature J.S. Bach’s Coffee Cantata performed by soloists Suzanne Anderson, Joshua Lawlor and Frank Fleschner. The event includes appetizers, cocktails and three-course dinner beginning at 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, February 13 at Californos event space., 4124 Pennsylvania Ave., Kansas City, MO.
5. Enjoy togetherness at a local winery or organic restaurant
Kansas City has a great selection of wonderful wineries, breweries and restaurants that feature local and organic food and beverages. Here’s a list of local wineries and breweries that Greenability compiled for New Year’s Eve celebrations. For restaurants that feature locally grown, organic and free-range menu options, check out the list compiled by the Kansas City Food Circle.
6. Dump (recycle) your ex’s stuff
Here’s the eco-friendly event for those who don’t want to celebrate the day of love. Join the folks at Goodwill who are encouraging you to “Dump your ex’s stuff.” The Goodwill campaign will accept donated items that remind their former owners of failed romances. It was started in 2017, and appears to now be an annual clothing and goods drive to help provide for families in need in the Kansas City area.
Find a donation location at Goodwill, and recycle and repurpose on Valentine’s Day.
Joe Lamp’l, creator and host of PBS’s Growing a Greener World, tops a list of experts at a two-day Gardeners Connect Symposium this weekend in Kansas City.
Lamp’l will speak on Greening Your Garden While Protecting the Planet at 9:45 a.m. on Saturday, February 10 a Rockhurst University, Arrupe Hall, 54th and Troost Ave., Kansas City, MO. He is also the founder and “Joe” behind joegardener.com, a new gardening-intensive website of how-to videos, podcasts and blog posts launched in 2017. Lamp’l has written numerous books and has a nationally syndicated newspaper column on gardening.
The symposium begins on Friday, February 9 with a workshop on How to Use Herbs for a Healthy Lifestyle with Tammi Hartung at 10 a.m. at Loose Park Garden Center, 5200 Pennsylvania, Kansas City, MO.
Additional presentations from 8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Saturday include:
Kelly Norris: Planting for the Future
Tammi Hartung: Wildlife Friendly Gardening
Carol Davit: Prairies, Pollinators and the World You Keep
Kelly Norris: Plants with Style
The Kansas City Garden Symposium is a fundraiser for Gardeners Connect, a non-profit organization that educates the community on gardening. For more information and symposium registration, go to Gardeners Connect Symposium.
Meet local, urban farmers at Cultivate Kansas City’s Farmers & Friends Meeting and help envision a healthy food system for the community.
The annual event brings together local farmers and foodies to provide information, start conversations and invite participants to dream about what a healthy food system looks like for Kansas City.
The event features:
Workshops led by local experts
Opportunities to connect with the local growing community
Dreamers & Doers session and activity
Two potlucks meals including homemade pie for breakfast and a hearty lunch
It will be held 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. on Saturday, February 3 at Second Presbyterian, 318 E. 55th St., Kansas City, MO. Doors open at 8 a.m.; check-in begins at 8:30 a.m. There is a $5 fee. Past events have had more than 250 participants. To register, visit Cultivate KC.
A new, national survey shows that despite increasing political and social divisions, Americans find common ground on environmental issues.
The Eco Pulse survey found a majority of Americans believe we deserve a clean planet, climate change is occurring, and everyone has a responsibility to take concrete steps to reduce their environmental impact.
“Despite all of the fighting, anger and frustration in the United States today, Americans can find common ground when it comes to the environment,” said Suzanne Shelton, president and CEO of Shelton Group, the marketing agency that conducted the survey. “We all want the same thing — a cleaner planet – and we agree that we must do our part to make that happen.”
The national survey, which polled 2,000 Americans in September and October, found:
88 percent agreed the average person should be taking concrete steps to reduce his or her environmental impact.
78 percent said they feel at least moderately responsible to change daily purchase habits and practices to positively impact the environment.
76 percent of Americans agreed: “People have a right to clean air and water.”
70 percent agreed: “We have a moral duty to leave the earth in as good or better shape than we found it.”
65 percent agreed that climate change is occurring, and it is primarily caused by human activity.
“Sustainability is becoming a much stronger part of how Americans identify themselves. It’s clear that consumers want to be on the right side of this issue – and they expect the companies they buy from to be as well,” Shelton said. “This presents significant opportunities for companies doing things the right way – and a threat to those that aren’t.”
The Shelton Group conducted the survey to assist clients in communicating their corporate environmental efforts. The agency focuses on energy and the environment. A copy of the report can be downloaded at Eco Pulse.
Schools can help combat litter in Missouri with the annual No MOre Trash! Contest that encourages students to decorate a trash can that inspires others to re-think litter and trash.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average American generates about four pounds of trash each day. Some of that trash will end up on streets, roadsides, natural areas and waterways and harms fish, water quality and wildlife.
The contest is sponsored by the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) and the Missouri Department of Transportation. Schools may submit one entry in each competition category: K-2, 3-5 and 6-8. Entries are judged based on creativity, adherence to contest rules and effective use of theme and logo.
First-place winners from each competition category receive $200 awarded to the sponsoring schools and are then eligible for a grand prize of a trophy and $600. There is no entry fee. Applications and photos of decorated trash cans need to be submitted by Friday, March 16 to No More Trash.
“Missouri’s six million residents produce nearly 26 million pounds of garbage in one day. That’s more than nine billion pounds of trash per year,” said Joe Jerek, the No More Trash coordinator for the Missouri Department of Conservation.
Last year, PK-1 students at Cowgill Elementary School in Cowgill, MO won the grand prize for their contest entry: “Oscar will be your fan, if you keep it in the can!”
When winter’s bitter chill forces us indoors more than usual, the risk of exposure to air pollutants can be significantly higher than when we are outside.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that 72 percent of chemical exposures in the average individual comes from inside the home. So, when you are spending more time indoors, it is especially important to know about potential risks and how to improve your home’s indoor air quality.
Pollutants from cleaning products, smoke, pet dander, mold and radon are just some of the causes of poor indoor air quality. Here are six ways to improve your home’s air quality that are recommended by Mid-America Regional Council and Kansas State University.
Test for radon in your home. Radon is a radioactive gas that is linked to causing lung cancer. It is unnoticeable in homes because you cannot see, taste or smell it. According to the EPA, radon is the number one cause of lung cancer among non-smokers and is responsible for about 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year. “About 40 percent of the homes in Johnson County have elevated levels of radon,” said Mike Boothe, environmental compliance manager for Johnson County Department of Health and Environment. “One of the best things someone can do if they are building a new home is to install Radon-Resistant Construction as the house is being built. The current cost for a system installed in an existing house is around $700-$900, but it depends on a lot of factors.” For Kansas homeowners, Kansas State University’s Kansas Radon Program (KRP) offers inexpensive radon testing kits at several county extension offices. Kits range from $6-$8. Missouri residents can order a free radon testing kit from the Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services. Kits can also be purchased at area hardware stores. If your test shows levels higher than 4 pCi/L, it is recommended that a mitigation system be installed at a cost that can range from $700 – $1,200.
Check out humidity levels. Make sure that humidity in your home is kept at an acceptable level. When humidity levels are too high, homes are more susceptible to mold and mildew, and family members may be more susceptible to respiratory problems. Not enough house humidity can lead to scratchy throats, skin irritation and static electricity. Homes must have an adequate amount of ventilation, focusing on areas that tend to have more moisture build up. Overall, though, humidity levels should be less than 50 percent. To test humidity levels, hardware stores sell hygrometers between $11 and $40. Some temperature gages and humidifiers also measure humidity levels.
Be on the lookout for mold. Any area where there is standing water, water stains or damp surfaces can be a host for mold growth. Bathrooms and basements are unusually susceptible because of the potential for moisture. Watch for signs of mold growth. At times there will be a smell and it can be visible to the eye. Household plants are good for filtering out carbon dioxide and common volatile organic compounds in homes, but can also be a host for mold if overwatered. Make sure you are taking care of any indoor plants properly. If furnishing or carpets get wet, take steps to dry them as quickly as possible so mold does not form.
Reconsider flooring options. Carpets make it easier for dust mites to collect, affecting those with allergies and mite sensitivity. Replacing carpets with harder surfaces like wood or tile can be a better option. If you have rugs, clean them with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter vacuum, which filters out 99.7 percent of small particles.
Regularly clean A/C condensing units, humidifiers and dehumidifiers. Germs and mold spores can be found on heating, cooling and humidifying equipment. Even dead mold spores can cause allergy symptoms. To clean and disinfect equipment, use chlorine bleach or more eco-friendly mixtures of white vinegar and water, tea tree oil and water, or hydrogen peroxide.
Make smart furniture and building supply choices. Certain types of plywood and particleboard off-gas fair amounts of formaldehyde and other pollutants. When selecting furniture or building materials, look for products that are formaldehyde-free. If unavoidable, ask manufacturers to air out new furniture or carpets prior to delivery.
Do you have an unused bicycle taking up space in the garage? Consider donating it to the BikeWalkKC Earn-A-Bike program, and help a student receive a free bike and basic bicycle skills.
BikeWalkKC has given out more than 300 bikes since the program began in 2012. The program teaches 4th – 6th grade students about basic bike maintenance techniques and bike handling skills over a six-to-eight-week period.
During a recent, week-long Family Earn-A-Bike program at Emerson Elementary School in Kansas City, KS, the school invited parents to join their children in the program. Using a condensed format that was easier for parents to participate in, the program helped 16 students and 14 parents earn bikes, and Kansas City, KS gained 30 new cyclists.
Bikes can be donated at the BikeWalkKC office, 3269 Gillham Road, Suite C, Kansas City, MO from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., Monday – Friday or by appointment. For more information, Maggie Priesmeyer, education programs manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 816-205-7056, Ext. 7.
Kick your New Year’s resolutions up a notch by adding a green twist to eating healthier, losing weight, saving money and creating a healthy home.
For many, the same resolutions appear on lists each January. In 2018, there are many more options to make resolutions good for us and for Mother Earth. Here are 10 ideas to get you started.
Eat healthier foods that are local and organic. If eating healthier or losing weight is one of your New Year’s resolutions, make it even healthier with organic fruits and vegetables from local farmers. Not only are you supporting local businesses, but you can shed extra pounds as you choose meals that start with fresh food. Find a list of local farmers markets by city at the U.S. Department of Agriculture Local Food Directory. In Kansas City, check the Kansas City Food Circle.
Eat less meat. Choosing “meatless Mondays” or going vegetarian a weekend or more can reduce one’s carbon footprint and fossil fuel dependence. According to Mother Nature Network, going meatless for the weekend can “decrease your carbon footprint by about one-third of a ton.” When choosing to eat meat, select local, grass fed options for a healthier choice for you and the planet. Local meat providers can be found at Kansas City Food Circle.
Choose the outdoors as your gym. Getting a gym membership is easy, but choosing to walk, run or bike outdoors is even easier – and it is free. There are hundreds of state parks, forests, natural area, national parks, national grasslands, trails, wildlife areas and even metro parks near you on America’s State Parks Directory. Check here to discover a new park in Kansas and Missouri. The Kansas City Parks and Recreation Department also offers an affordable all-access pass to its community centers.
Cut fossil fuels out of your investments. The start of a new year is a perfect time to review investment and savings strategies. With more scientific facts pointing to the environmental damage of fossil fuels, it’s time to make sure your investments reflect your values. Check with your investment advisor, or seek an advisor that specializes in socially and environmentally responsible funds. For more information, contact Jim Horlacher at First Affirmative Financial Network, LLC.
Save money with a home-energy audit. Saving money is always on the to-do list. Getting a home energy audit will show you where your house is leaking energy and provide recommendations for the improvements with the biggest paybacks. Check Metropolitan Energy Center for a list of certified auditors and contractors.
Avoid “fast fashion.” Shopping for new clothes just seems to come naturally for some, especially when chain stores constantly offer inexpensive clothes, aka: fast fashion. The process of making these clothes can be harmful to the environment. According to Small Footprint Family: “Cheap fashion also supports the petroleum-based, highly toxic synthetic fabric and dye industry, and uses tons of fossil fuels during farming, manufacturing and shipping.” If you want to update your wardrobe, purchase items that you will not throw out in a few months that are higher in quality and domestically made. Choosing to swap clothes with friends and family or buying items at thrift stores are also great ways to recycle clothes.
Use a reusable beverage container. Choosing a reusable beverage container is one of the easiest ways to reduce waste. Some coffee shops, like Starbucks, will offer discounts to those who bring in their own coffee mug.
Reduce water usage. Save money on your water bill and help conserve water by reducing water usage. Turn off faucets while brushing your teeth, take shorter showers or wash fruits and veggies in a bowl instead of running it under the tap. If you have plants, use that water from the washed foods to water your plants. This spring, install a rain barrel or plant a rain garden to collect water for your landscape.
Get rid of phantom energy. If there are items around the house that do not need to be plugged into an electrical outlet 24/7, pull the plug. Even when electronic items are turned off, devices still use electricity when they are plugged in. So, if you don’t need it, remember to unplug.
In unusual sightings, snowy owls are being spotted throughout the Midwest as food shortages in their natural Arctic habitat push them further south.
“This is an irruption likely tied to a drop in the lemming population in the Arctic this summer and fall,” said Mark Robbins, an ornithologist at the University of Kansas who also works with Audubon Christmas Bird Counts in Missouri.
The maps on eBird, a cooperative online effort by birders and researchers to track sightings for all species, shows several snowy owls have been seen across north Missouri and a few in central and southern Missouri. Snowy owls are among the largest owls and named for their white coloration. Adult males are mostly white. Females and younger owls can have black barring as well as white. Snowy owls can have wingspans topping four feet. Harry Potter’s owl was a snowy owl.
There have been several sightings in Missouri, including a male snowy owl at the Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary near the Mississippi River north of St. Louis in November, said Ken Buchholz, director for the Audubon Center at Riverlands. A female appeared during the Thanksgiving holiday week. A snowy owl was spotted at Loess Bluffs National Wildlife Refuge on the western side of the state in recent weeks.
Snowy owls last appeared in Missouri and Kansas in noticeable numbers during the winter of 2011-2012. The majority of those where age could be determined were young birds, according to a scientific paper on the irruption that Robbins helped compile. In the 2011-2012 irruption, experts found and examined some owls that died. Most owls examined were emaciated, suggesting they were having difficulty finding prey for food in unfamiliar habitat.
People are urged to minimize disturbance of the snowy owls, as they are already stressed due to food shortage in their normal winter habitat.
These tundra dwellers normally feed on lemmings, ptarmingan and waterfowl. They especially rely on lemmings. When lemming populations are high, snowy owl populations rise. The owls move south when lemming populations crash. In Missouri, they prefer grasslands as habitat and may eat rodents, rabbits, squirrels, waterfowl, and other birds.
For information about owl sightings and birding, visit eBird.