Tag Archives: environmentalism

Go Home Green!

Make your home Earth friendly every day.  Whether you are thinking of building, remodeling an existing home, or just need to clean up the one you have, the Library has resources that can help you green your home environment.

Build Green and Save Book CoverBuild Green and Save: Protecting the Earth and Your Bottom Line by Matt Belcher
Let this book show you how to select green building materials, make sure your construction activities are green, and explain the benefits of green building practices.

Big Green Book of Recycled Crafts book coverThe Big Green Book of Recycled Crafts: Over 100 Earth-Friendly Projects
Did you know you can fuse together plastic shopping bags and make your own reusable tote? Or that old blue jeans can be turned into at least 5 different crafts? These and other fun and easy projects are explained in this book, along with lots of pictures to guide you.

Home Enlightenment Made Easy: with Annie B. Bond
Watch easy to follow instructions on this DVD for making your own nontoxic formulas to clean your home, fabrics, and even your face!

Green This book coverGreen This!: Volume One, Greening Your Cleaning by Deirdre Imus
Room by room, this book deals with the dangers of commonly used household cleaning products and then gives greener, homemade cleaners as substitute options.

Practical Green Remodeling book coverPractical Green Remodeling: Down-to-Earth Solutions for Everyday Homes by Barry Katz
With useful information such as a simple explanation (and diagrams!) of how geothermal systems work and 10 ways to reduce your water usage, this book goes beyond the typical green building materials recommendations. But it has those too!

Easy Green Living book coverEasy Green Living: The Ultimate Guide to Simple, Eco-Friendly Choices for You and Your Home by Renée Loux
Every room in your house can get clean the green way. Even the laundry gets a makeover. The author includes advice on shopping green, light bulbs, and better choices for personal hygiene that will protect you and the environment.

Big Green Purse: Using Your Spending Power to Create a Cleaner, Greener World by Diane MacEachern
Change the way you spend money and change the world! You’ll get background information about how certain products negatively impact the environment and people, along with alternative options you can purchase to combat these effects.  You have the power!

Green Living by Design book coverGreen Living by Design: The Practical Guide for Eco-Friendly Remodeling and Decorating by Jean Nayar
Organized by area of the house and materials utilized, this book guides you through making informed decisions about remodeling and furnishing your home in an earth-friendly way.

Real Simple book coverReal Simple: 869 New Uses for Old Things
Not sure what to do with those leftover name tags? Use them to label your casserole dish so it comes back home after the potluck. This encyclopedia lists most common household items and ways they can be re-purposed.  You won’t ever need to throw anything away again!

Simple Steps to a Greener Home DVD coverSimple Steps to a Greener Home: With Lifestyle Expert Danny Seo
This DVD gives many “smart and stylish” suggestions for remodeling in an eco-friendly way.  

Your family, your home, and your Earth will thank you.

-Melissa M.

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ISO: 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom home

Preferably with large windows, hardwood floors and enough room in the kitchen for two cooks.  I don’t think that’s too much to ask, is it? 

It’s not as if I’m looking for a cantilevered house built over a waterfall, or an 8,000-acre estate in the mountains of North Carolina with grounds designed by Frederick Law Olmstead.  I don’t need a house with a séance room and a host of secret passageways; in fact, the fewer secret passageways, the better.  And who wants to clean 61 bathrooms?  Not me.  Nor do I do windows.

And while I can appreciate historic homes of all sorts, no one famous needs to have lived in or visited my [as-yet-undetected] house before, whether a founding father or a king.  I certainly wouldn’t complain about an apartment in a building inspired by marine life and bones by one of my favorite architects, but truly my sights are set in a more practical, and local, realm.

Lastly, I may be a bit of an environmentalist, but I’m realistic enough to know that my chances of finding an earth housestraw bale construction, or a home made entirely of scrap and salvaged materials to rent within the City of Pittsburgh and closely-neighboring boroughs are pretty darn slim.  Nor am I ready to go off the grid at the moment, not too likely anywhere I’m looking.  I’ll just keep exploring the latest options here at the library until life takes me somewhere I would never expect.



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bird’s eye view

feeding time at the Harrisburg nest

feeding time at the Harrisburg nest, 5/7/9

Last week, I met my new favorite Pittsburghers, who live on the 40th floor of the Cathedral of Learning.  They are Dorothy, E2, and a brood of newly-hatched peregrine falcon chicks.  A video feed that the National Aviary in Pittsburgh installed in 2007 updates every few seconds, so anyone can witness the birds’ daily activity live.

That we are able to observe such wild animals with such intimacy is impressive, but the fact that the peregrines are there at all is a tremendous feat in itself.  Peregrine falcons (whose name means “wandering,” in reference to their migration habits) used to be among the most widespread birds in the world.  They live on every continent except Antarctica and adapt to nearly every climate.  Use of the pesticide DDT in the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s, however, caused peregrine eggshells to thin and break easily, killing the incubating chicks.  In the US, their population reduced by an estimated 12%.  Peregrines were among the first species listed as endangered in 1974, and although they were removed from the federal list in 1999, they remain on some states’, such as Pennsylvania’s.

feeding time at the Cathedral of Learning nest

feeding time at the Cathedral of Learning nest, 5/7/9

But the peregrines are coming back, thanks to a professor at the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, the Peregrine Fund at the World Center for Birds of Prey, goverment agencies, and passionate people dedicated to saving the falcons.  These organizations raise injured or vulnerable birds in captivity and release them, band and track birds, and place special nests in sites where wild birds show interest.

Peregrines are fascinating animals.  Among the fastest creatures on Earth, they can dive up to 200 mph to snatch prey from the air, mid-flight.  The chicks begin cheeping through their shells before they even hatch.  According to the animal totem book Animal Speak, falcons represent mental agility and “teach us to know when to act” and “to fully commit to our actions for the greatest success.”

Watching the tender moments when the parent birds quietly guard or nestle with the brood or tear up prey and carefully feed each hungry beak reveals a tender, patient side to these creatures renowned for their skilled hunting abilities.  Right now, the nestlings mostly huddle in a white fluffy pile, but I am so excited to witness them become fledgelings over the next few weeks and then move on to seek their own partners and nesting sites. 

Peregrine adults and chicks in the Harrisburg nest, 5/7/9 ~7:00 pm

Peregrine adults and chicks in the Harrisburg nest, 5/7/9

The falcons nesting at the Cathedral of Learning are among many other peregrines who live in cities.  Their closest neighbors reside on the 37th floor of the Gulf Tower downtown.  Another pair uses the 15th floor of the Rachel Carson State Office Building in Harrisburg–monitored by a real-time, streaming video feed (with sound!).  Still others live all over the world, partnering with wild falcons or others raised in captivity or the human-created nests.

For more about the Pittsburgh peregrines and other wildlife, be sure to check out the empassioned, funny, and extremely informative blog Outside My Window, maintained by Kate St. John, a WQED employee and the enthusiastic authority on our feathered yinzers.

If these falcons inspire you to celebrate some of the other wild birds in your habitat, refer to Eleventh Stacker Julie’s post from about a year ago for some suggestions on guides and an account of her own up-close raptor encounter.


sleepy time at the Harrisburg nest, 5/7/9 ~7:00 pm

sleepy time at the Harrisburg nest, 5/7/9




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