How to turn a boring old book into a stash box

Read the full post on Grist.

Instead of buying cheap, mass-produced gewgaws to give out this season, show your loved ones you care with a little DIY. During Grist’s 12 days of DIY gifts, we’ll share some crafty projects, with instructions that even we can follow. There’s sure to be a whatsit or wowsit for everyone.

Everyone has secrets. Some of us keep them in boring old shoeboxes. And some of us — the best of us, really — make old books into the hidden compartments a Victorian spy would be proud of. Just do us a favor and pick a really boring book — no one will ever open it!


October is Rise Above Plastics Month

Rise Above Plastics Month is a month-long initiative encouraging the public to reduce their plastic footprint and raise awareness about the harmful effects caused by single-use plastics in our marine and coastal environments, including the Great Lakes region. RAP logo

Throughout October, the Surfrider Foundation will ‘Rise Above Plastics’ by providing tips on how you can reduce your plastic footprint and simple ways to implement change in your daily routine. Take the Rise Above Plastics pledge to commit to using less plastics every day.

You can also join your local Surfrider Chapter’s annual plastic trash cleanup and enter Surfrider’s Plastic Art Contest. Show your creativity and help to raise awareness of the effects of plastic pollution. Enter to have a chance to win an epic prize pack including a Firewire Tibertek surfboard or Bureo skateboard, Spy + Surfrider Helm Sunglasses, ChicoBag and Surfrider gear.

The Rise Above Plastics program (RAP) is the Surfrider Foundation’s response to the problem of plastic litter in our ocean and marine environments. The goal of the program is to educate the public on the impacts single-use plastics have on marine environments, and how individuals can make changes in their daily lives and within their communities that will stem the flow of plastics into the environment. RAP also calls upon people to reduce their plastic footprint by reducing or eliminating the use of products such as single-use plastic water bottles and plastic bags.

Some facts about plastics compiled by RAP include:

  • The amount of plastic produced from 2000 – 2010 exceeds the amount produced during the entire last century.[1]
  • Plastic is the most common type of marine litter worldwide.[2]
  • An estimated 100,000 marine mammals and up to 1 million sea birds die every year after ingesting or being tangled in plastic marine litter.[3]
  • Up to 80% of the plastic in our oceans comes from land-based sources.[4]
  • Plastics comprise up to 90% of floating marine debris.[5]
  • In 2009 about 3.8 million tons of waste plastic “bags, sacks and wraps” were generated in the United States, but only 9.4% of this total was recycled.[6]
  • Plastics do not biodegrade, but instead break down into small particles that persist in the ocean, absorb toxins, and enter our food chain through fish, sea birds and other marine life.[7]
  • Plastic bags are problematic in the litter stream because they float easily in the air and water, traveling long distances and never fully breaking down in water.
  • Cleanup of plastic bags is costly. California spends $25 million annually to landfill discarded plastic bags, and public agencies spend more than $300 million annually in litter cleanup.[8]
  • It is estimated that Americans go through about 100 billion plastic bags a year, or 360 bags per year for every man, woman and child in the country.[9]

Learn More

Plastics Pollution in the Great Lakes and the Marine Debris Problem
State University of New York researchers collaborated with the Los Angeles-based 5 Gyres Institute to study plastic pollutants in the Great Lakes Region. Read about their project and learn more about the problem of plastics pollution in the world’s water bodies. Newly updated to include recent research and news about microplastics pollution in the Great Lakes.

NEEFA Algal Bloom Photo Contest

Algal blooms like this one can occur in water bodies as small as a neighborhood pond and as big as the Gulf of Mexico. When algae grow out of control in our waters, the result can be unappealing, harmful to our health and harmful to the environment.

The National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the North American Lake Management Society (NALMS) want YOU to help spot and document algal blooms in our waters. Submit your photos of algal blooms where you live, vacation and recreate for a chance to win great prizes. Your submissions will help build a photo library that can be used to educate more people about algal blooms and illustrate the prevalence and impacts of algal blooms around the country.



  • First Place: Nikon D5300 SLR Camera and winning algal bloom photo featured on the NALMS Lakeline Magazine Cover
  • Second Place: Nikon Coolpix AW120 Camera
  • Third Place: $100 REI Gift Card

Visit the contest web site for more information and to enter. The deadline is September 30, 2014.


State of the Environmental Art

Read the full post from the National Park Service’s Commercial Services blog.

While the natural world has always served as inspiration for art, there is now a growing movement of artists using nature not only as inspiration, but as the materials for the art itself. Ecological or environmental art uses branches, stones, and other materials local to the area to create sculptures that aim to improve the viewer’s understanding of the natural world. Not only are these pieces interesting to look at, but an important aspect of many ecological art installations is that they actually help restore their natural surroundings.

Public art, environment, history, and the locals all collide in the Anacostia River

Read the full post at Grist.

The Anacostia neighborhood of Washington, D.C., reacted less than embracingly last month to the idea of an artist submerging a “mock gas station” into its eponymous river as an artistic statement about climate change.

Mia Feuer’s “Antediluvian” proposal was supposed to clue drivers traveling the bridge over the Anacostia River that the gas in their tanks was abetting climate destabilization. The D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities ordained Feuer’s concept as a crown feature of its upcoming 5×5 Festival.

But the mostly African-American, working-class Anacostia community, which has been fighting for the government’s attention to clean the river for decades, felt that the project sent the wrong message. The project was ultimately nixed when the D.C. Department of the Environment said that it would interfere with efforts underway to mitigate river pollution. Rejecting the site was appropriate — as Feuer has accepted herself — given that D.C. has been less than embracing of Anacostia for basically all of its history.

As disappointing as this decision is for those who donated thousands of dollars to see this climate change critical Elenchus happen, Feuer, an accomplished artist well before this, may pull “Antediluvian” off at another time in another city.

Still, the controversy that arose from the project’s mere announcement illustrates what happens when the various activist tributaries of climate change, public art, environmentalism, and environmental justice converge. Each feeder carries its own baggage and that means it’s fated to get messy at the confluence — that is unless social equity is considered up front.

Let’s unpack some of this baggage, as it helps explain the Anacostia River art fiasco and why it played out the way it did.

Broken Pots Turned Into Brilliant DIY Fairy Gardens

Read the full post and view the images at Bored Panda.

A new trend in gardening has gardeners creating all sorts of creative garden arrangements and fairy gardens out of broken pots, proving that even a broken pot can be useful and beautiful.