Thursday, 14 January 2021

Reduce, Repair, Reuse, Recycle: Tips for Decluttering Your Home and the Planet

Here are a few tips to help you reduce, repair, reuse, and recycle in Saskatchewan. 

1. Pause before you buy to avoid purchases you’ll later regret. 
2. Get the most out of what you buy by checking for reliability and repairability. 
3. Buy in bulk or buy products with less packaging
4. Take advantage of or initiate a library of things that loans infrequently used objects at little or no charge (e.g. Library of Things YXE). 
5. Take advantage of Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore (Regina, Saskatoon) to purchase used home furnishings and construction materials. 
6. Obtain garden seeds from a seed library (Prince Albert, Saskatoon), at a Seedy Saturday event, or a garden exchange. 

1. Write a letter to a manufacturer expressing your concern about the overpackaging of their products
2. Let your local member of parliament know that you believe manufacturers should be held physically and financially responsible for collecting, processing, and repurposing their materials after they’ve been used by consumers (additional information). 

1. Take advantage of local repair cafés when they are open (Moose Jaw, Prince Albert, Swift Current). The Saskatchewan Waste Reduction Council has been offering virtual repair cafés during the Covid-19 pandemic. 
2. iFixit provides step-by-step guides for fixing just about anything. 

1. Push for right-to-repair legislation in Canada so that consumers can fix and modify their gadgets, appliances, and vehicles. 

1. Pass along your old stuff (e.g. phone, tablet). It might be out-of-date for you but perfectly fine for someone else. 
2. Food banks and thrift stores will often accept used clothing, kitchenware, and household furnishings. 
3. Hold a yard sale. 
4. Take advantage of a Little Free Library near you.
4. Upcycle fabric and art supplies (e.g. Regina's Art Supply Exchange, Yorkton's Art and Craft Supplies Exchange, Saskatoon's Nefilibata Arts and Crafts). 

1. The Saskatchewan Waste Reduction Council maintains a database listing what can be recycled and where for communities in Saskatchewan. 
2. Loraas provides a list of what can be recycled in Saskatoon. Here is what can be recycled in Lloydminster, Regina, and Swift Current
3. London Drugs accepts items (e.g. batteries, light bulbs, ink cartridges) that have been purchased at their stores. 
4. Staples accepts items such as ink and toner cartridges, rechargeable batteries, and electronics. 
5. SARCAN operates recycling depots in a number of Saskatchewan communities and accepts beverage containers, electronics, household paint, and batteries. 
6. BN Steel & Metals, Saskatoon, and TruGreen Metal Recycling, Regina, are two of the SK businesses recycling scrap metal. 

Warning: Recycling information changes frequently. Check with local businesses for the most up-to-date information

1. Encourage your municipality to start or expand an organics recycling program. 

Additional Resources 
Waste Not yxe on Facebook 
Waste Not yqr on Facebook
Green Living (SWRC blog) 

January 14, 2021

You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or by email (top right corner)

A full list of upcoming events (both online and in person) can be found on the EcoFriendly Sask Calendar

Graphics: iStock (000013321780, 000015889240)

Tuesday, 12 January 2021

EcoSask News, January 12, 2021

Bohemian waxwing

Upcoming Events 
Film-Making Workshop, Jan. 14 (online) 
Let’s Talk About Water, Global Institute for Water Security, is offering a free film-making workshop for youth at 10 am, Jan. 14 

Lessons from the Arctic, Jan. 14 (online) 
There will be an online talk on what the Arctic can teach us as we face global challenges of sustainability at 5 pm, Jan. 14. 

SaskOutdoors Member Mingling, Jan. 15 (online) 
SaskOutdoors members are invited to mingle virtually from 7-7:45 pm, Jan. 15. 

Learn to Camp, Jan. 18 (online)
Saskatoon Public Library is offering a series of workshops with basic camping skills and activities7-8 pm, Jan. 18 – Winter Readiness
WUQWATR Programs, Jan. 18 (online) 
There will be a presentation on WUQWATR programs at the 7 pm, Jan. 18, online meeting of Nature Regina

The Land Feeds Us, Jan. 20 (online)
Join Wild About Saskatoon for an online discussion around Indigenous food sovereignty and urban biodiversity at 7 pm, Jan. 20.

Regina EnviroCollective, Jan. 21 (online) 
Regina’s EnviroCollective will be meeting online from 7-10 pm, Jan. 21. 

Friends of Wascana Marsh AGM, Jan. 21 (online) 
Friends of Wascana Marsh will be holding a virtual annual general meeting at 7 pm, Jan. 21. Send them an email to receive the link. 

Rethinking Methane, Jan. 21 (online) 
Frank Mitloehner will discuss rethinking methane to show how animal agriculture is on the path to climate neutrality at the 7:30 pm, Jan. 21, virtual meeting of the Saskatoon Nature Society. Join the SNS to participate

Addressing Social Isolation in Winter, Jan. 21 (online) 
Join 8 80 Cities for an online discussion from 11:30 am-1:30 pm (CST), Jan. 21, as 3 Winter Cities share their experiences in engaging communities in creating more inclusive winter-friendly public spaces that support social connection and reduce social isolation. 

Project Wet, Jan. 21 & 28 (online) 
SaskOutdoors is offering an online workshop to equip educators with activities and resources for teaching about water from 7-9 pm, Jan. 21 & 28.
Bohemian waxwings

Looking Ahead 
Repair Café, Jan. 30 (online) 
The Saskatchewan Waste Reduction Council is hosting a virtual repair café 11 am-2 pm, Jan. 30. 

Early Childhood Outdoor Education, Feb. 2, 9, 23 (online) 
SaskOutdoors is offering a 3-part online series to help bring early childhood education outdoors from 7-9 pm, Feb. 2, 9, and 23. 

Orienteering for Educators, Feb. 8 (online) 
SaskOutdoors is offering a webinar on orienteering for educators (formal and informal) from 7-8 pm, Feb. 8. 

A full list of upcoming events (online and in person) can be found on the EcoFriendly Sask Calendar 

Local News 
Starting a native plant garden has never been easier - just order online from Blazing Star Wildflower Seed Company. 

They’ve protected endangered black-footed ferrets against Covid-19 in Colorado 

From Information to Action 
Small modular nuclear reactors – Are they needed? Who will benefit? What are the risks? 

We won’t be able to stem the tide of plastic waste until manufacturers are held accountable for their products. 

2021 is shaping up to be the year in which battery storage takes a big step toward being an essential part of the clean energy grid. 

Law and culture are helping us reclaim our deep relationship with nature

"Climate despair does not square with current scientific understandings. We are in trouble, not screwed." 

EcoSask News is a weekly round-up of local news and events. Email us if you have items you would like us to include. 

You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or by email (top right corner). 

Check out EcoFriendly Sask’s Nature Companion, a free nature app for Canada’s four western provinces

Thursday, 7 January 2021

The Bird Way: A New Look at How Birds Talk, Work, Play, Parent, and Think


The Bird Way by Jennifer Ackerman disrupts many of our traditional beliefs about birds – their intelligence, how they communicate, and how they interact. 

Their brains may be tiny, but that doesn’t prevent birds from being smart. They just pack more brain cells into a smaller space. A team of research scientists counted the number of neurons in the brains of 28 different bird species of all shapes and sizes. “They found that birds have higher neuron counts in their small brains than do mammals or even primates of similar brain size. . . . This tight arrangement of neurons makes for efficient high-speed sensory and nervous systems. In other words . . . bird brains have the potential to provide much higher cognitive clout per pound than do mammalian brains.” 

Much of the early bird research focused on migratory songbirds in the northern hemisphere, leading us to believe that only male birds sing, primarily to attract a mate. That has proven to be a very incomplete view of avian communication. Approximately 16% of birds, primarily in the tropics, perform male-female duets. What at first take appears to be the song of an individual bird turns out to be a rapid-fire call and response from a male and a female bird: “So impeccable is their timing that canebrake [wrens] answer their mates within sixty milliseconds, around a quarter of the time it takes for a human to chat back.” 

In an Australian park, a tiny spotted pardolate warns his neighbours – both avian and mammal – of danger. The calls often change to indicate different kinds of danger. There are mobbing calls inviting other birds to help chase away a predator and alarm calls urging birds to flee and avoid a threat. The calls can convey detailed information: Is danger from above or below? Is it moving fast or slow? “The chickadee-dee-dee mobbing alarms calls of the black-capped chickadees contain messages – coded in the number of dees at the end of the call – about the size of the predator, and hence, the degree of threat it represents. A great horned owl, too big and clumsy to pose much of a risk to the tiny chickadee, elicits only a few dees, while a small, agile bird of prey such as a merlin or a northern pygmy owl may draw a long string of up to twelve dees.”
Bali myna

Gifted Liars 
Piping plovers will pretend to have a broken wing to draw predators away from their nest, while quails will pretend to be dead. Scrub jays will move – or pretend to move – their food stashes if they know they’re being watched. 

Birds are also amazing mimics. Lyrebirds can sound like dogs barking, the blows of an axe, the hooves of a trotting horse, as well as the calls of other birds. And they switch between sounds quickly: “Two seconds of eastern whipbird, then two seconds of crimson rosella, followed by three seconds of grey shrike thrush.” 

It isn’t easy to imitate a song. You must listen closely, memorize, recall, and practice, adapting your vocal muscles to replicate the song of a different species. So why go to all that effort? It may be to impress a potential mate, but it may also be to deceive and manipulate. There are reports of blue jays mimicking red-tailed hawks and other raptors to startle other birds into dropping their food and providing the jay with a free lunch. Burrowing owls imitate a rattlesnake to stop ground squirrels and other competitors from stealing their burrows. 

A Different Way of Knowing 
The wedge-tailed eagle can see 3 or 4 times further than a human with extra magnification in the centre of its field of view to focus on its prey. Birds also experience an extra dimension of colour as they are able to detect ultraviolet wavelengths. The dense foliage of the rainforest is uniform and flat to human eyes. Not so for birds. “UV light amplifies the contrast between the tops of leaf surfaces and their undersides, so the three-dimensional structure – the position and orientation – of the leaves pop out. This makes it easier for birds to navigate through complex leafy environments and to find food there.” 

Similarly, to humans the ocean appears vast and undifferentiated. But not to seabirds for whom it’s “an elaborate landscape of eddying odor plumes that reflect the oceanographic features and physical processes where phytoplankton predictably amass.” 

Let’s Play! 
Birds love to play. Warblers and pelicans throw pebbles, while green herons toss sticks, leaves, and fish into the air. Rainbow lorikeets swing from tree limbs, while Arabian babblers wrestle and play tug of war and king of the hill. Birds that engage in social play where they interact with each other have a complex social system. Ravens are particularly prone to playing and it starts when they are still in the nest. Play may be preparation for later life. Investigating different objects helps young ravens distinguish what is safe from what is dangerous, while manipulating objects may help them develop their caching skills. Playing together may also promote social bonds, teaching animals how to interact and establishing a hierarchy.
Java sparrow

Good Parent, Bad Parent 
There is no one way to be an avian parent. The brush turkey male works very hard maintaining a huge pile of garden debris, checking the temperature of the fermenting vegetation on a daily basis to make sure it’s at just the right temperature to incubate the eggs buried inside the pile. He also pays attention to the weather, piling the mound up high to help rain to run off and opening the pile up to dry out once the rain stops. 

Leaving your eggs in another bird’s nest may look like the lazy bird approach to parenting, but that’s not necessarily true. Female brood parasites are very picky when choosing nest sites. They want experienced parents with a proven track record and solid nests. Egg laying must coincide with when the host bird is laying her eggs, and eggs must be laid very, very quickly. Each egg is laid in a separate nest so she has to memorize where the nests are located and which ones she’s already used. 

Seers and Omens 
Jennifer Ackerman concludes The Bird Way by a reminder that in ancient Rome “bird-seers were priests, or augurs, who founded their divinations on the flight patterns of birds.” She goes on to suggest that we “would do well to watch birds more, tune in to their usual and unusual behaviors, learn while we can from their marvelous – and still often mysterious – ways of being.” 

You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or by email (top right corner). 

Check out EcoFriendly Sask’s Nature Companion, a free nature app for Canada’s four western provinces

See Also 

Tuesday, 5 January 2021

EcoSask News, January 5, 2020


Upcoming Events 
Decentralized Energy in SK, Jan. 6 (online) 
Join the Energy Management Task Force of Saskatchewan for an online discussion of decentralized energy in Saskatchewan at 7:30 am, Jan. 6. 

Caribou & Wolf Monitoring, Jan. 8 (online) 
Ryan Brook will discuss minimally invasive caribou and wolf monitoring along Hudson Bay at 3:30 pm, Jan. 8, as part of the Wild Ecol Seminar Series. 

Songs 4 Nature, Jan. 8 (online) 
Songs 4 Nature, a Royal Saskatchewan Museum program helping musicians to connect with nature and hone their songwriting skills, will be accepting registrations from SK residents for its virtual winter camp starting Jan. 8. Registration will open to everyone on Jan. 12. 

Get Outside Nature Hike, Jan. 9 (Regina) 
Nature Regina is offering guided nature hikes at A E Wilson Park at 10, 10:30, and 11 am, Jan. 9. Register online

Farmland Drainage & the Environment, Jan. 11-15 (online) 
Don’t miss the second half of the online webinar series on farmland drainage and the environment. The first series of webinars are now available on YouTube

Get Your Kids Outside, Jan. 12 (online) 
Regina library card holders are invited to join a Zoom session on help and inspiration for parents who want to get their kids outdoors at 7 pm, Jan. 12. Spaces are limited; register online

Get Outside! Kids’ Club, Jan. 13/20 (Regina) 
Children ages 6-12 are invited to register for the Get Outside! Kids’ Club from 10 am-3 pm, Jan. 13 or 20

Prussian Carp, Jan. 14 (online) 
There will be a webinar on prussian carp at noon, Jan. 14, as part of the Native Prairie Speaker Series. 

Women & Water, Jan-Apr (online) 
Global Water Futures is offering an online lecture series on women and water: 
12:30 pm, Jan. 14Water Policy

Projet Wet, Jan. 14 (online) 
There will be an online workshop in French on Project Wet from 4-6 pm, Jan. 14. 

Going Outside, Jan. 14 (online, repeat) 
SaskOutdoors is repeating their 30-minute webinar with tips and tricks for teachers who want to move learning outdoors at 8 pm, Jan. 14. 

Saskatoon Nature Society Field Trips 
Saskatoon Young Naturalists 
Jan. 16 – Pike Lake Nature Walk 
Feb. 6 – Chickadee Pishing 

Other Saskatoon Nature Society Field Trips 
Jan. 16, 10-11:30 am – Chorney Acreage Bird Feeders 
Jan. 23, 9 am-3 pm – Snowy Owl Excursion 
Field trips are currently for members only, so sign up now. Advance registration is required. 

 A full list of upcoming events (online and in person) can be found on the EcoFriendly Sask Calendar

Local News 
A new battery recycling program will make it easier for people in various parts of Saskatchewan to dispose of household batteries responsibly. 

800 acres of mainly native prairie grassland near Weyburn have been donated to the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation’s Habitat Trust Fund.

An Alberta farmer is restoring wetlands, practising agroforestry, and planting cover crops for improved pollination.

Borealis, a new documentary about Canada’s boreal forest, reveals how much trouble it’s in. 

From Information to Action 
“If we bring down CO2 to net zero, the warming will level off. The climate will stabilize within a decade or two. There will be very little to no additional warming.” 

“The only thing a consumer can do to improve their laptop's ecological and economic sustainability is to use it for as long as possible.” 

Even after replacing gasoline vehicles with electric ones, particulate matter resulting from tire, brake, clutch, and road wear remains a significant source of hazardous pollution. 

That’s Amazing! 
Dung beetles navigate by the sun, the moon, and the stars

From monkey-faced spiders to oil spill beetles and a candy corn leafhopper – the beauty and science of our planet's micro creatures.

EcoSask News is a weekly round-up of local news and events. Email us if you have items you would like us to include. 

You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or by email (top right corner). 

Did you know? Pronghorn are the second-fastest animal in the world with amazing endurance thanks to long legs and a large heart and lungs. They can sprint up to 70 mph.