Be smart when burning this fall!

The recent windy, cool weather has caused quite a few people to get outside to burn unwanted leaves, brush, and wood. While we are all aware of the danger of burning in dry or windy weather, the Environmental Protection Agency has a few less-known tips so you can stay safe, be efficient, and earth-friendly!

First, burn only dry, seasoned wood. Properly seasoned wood burns hotter, producing more heat and less pollution. Seasoned wood is darker, has cracks in the end grain, and sounds hollow when struck against another piece of wood.

Use a moisture meter. Wood burns best when the moisture content is 20%. If you are a regular to the wood-burning scene, you can purchase a wood moisture meter for less than $20 to test the moisture content of the wood before you burn it.

Burn hot fires. Once you’ve enjoyed the warmth, many people think they should let a fire smolder overnight, but reducing the air supply does little for heating and increases air pollution. A smoldering fire isn’t efficient.

Start fires with newspaper or dry kindling. This increases burning efficiency.

Regularly remove ashes from your wood-burning appliances to maintain proper airflow. For safety, put ashes in a metal container with a cover and store outdoors.

Never burn painted or treated wood, moldy or wet wood, household garbage, cardboard, or driftwood. They can release toxic chemicals into the air – and your home. During the holidays, remember not to burn Christmas trees or wrapping paper!

You can learn more on the EPA’s Burn Wise website:


Posted under going green, health, pollution, safety, science, wildfires

This post was written by qni_it on October 22, 2012

Recycling Flashmob!

Awesome video! -ES




Posted under going green, pollution, science, statistics

This post was written by qni_it on August 14, 2012

Rotten Tomatoes!

Dom Castaldo sent me this picture of tomatoes he grew that rotted right on the vine. I’m no gardener but I immediately thought the tomatoes were watered too much. However, he writes “The fluctuation in water [due to drought] interferes with calcium metabolism which causes the end of the tomato to degrade.”

A Cornell University article mirrors what Dom said. It says “the disease is especially prevalent when rapidly growing, succulent plants are exposed suddenly to a period of drought. When the roots fail to obtain sufficient water and calcium to be transported up to the rapidly developing fruits, the latter become rotted on their basal ends.” This not only can happen to tomato plants during drought, but also in tomatoes planted in cold, heavy soils.

The article (and Dom) suggest using fertilizers low in nitrogen and spraying the plants with calcium chloride to combat that terrible Tomato Blossom Rot this season!

Do you have a drought-related story to share? We’d like to hear from you! Send us an e-mail at and tell us what you’re seeing. -ES


Posted under drought, going green, news, photos, science

This post was written by qni_it on July 16, 2012

How to water your lawn effectively

To be honest, I don’t usually have to give watering advice in May (and this probably doesn’t bode well for Summer). However, we’ve only seen about a half inch of rain in Rockford since the beginning of the month!

Before you set the sprinkler out, consider some tips. In most circumstances, your grass will be much greener and healthier if you just pay attention to a few things.

When you set your sprinkler out for the first time, put a bowl of water within the range of the sprinkler. You should water about an inch at a time which means when an inch of water has accumulated in the bowl, you’re probably good to go. Make sure you pay attention to how much time it takes your sprinkler to fill that bowl to an inch. This is how long you should set your egg timer every time.

Only water your lawn in the morning. Watering in the afternoon means that most of the water is evaporated due to the strong sun (and stronger wind during the day). It’s best to water right around sunrise because the water is able to soak into the roots and your grass actually does its growing in the morning.

Water about an inch a week. Using the bowl trick, this means you’ll only need to water once a week…unless we get really, super dry. And be sure to give a good soaking less frequently. Sprinkling a little bit, more often won’t do your lawn much work.

Another tip is to raise your mower’s blade just a bit. Keeping your grass a little longer will allow it to remain healthier under stressful conditions.

Finally, don’t water your rain when we have rain in the forecast! You will be wasting water and your wallet will be a little thicker when the city water bill arrives. -ES


Posted under drought, going green, news, rain, science, sunlight, weather geek

This post was written by qni_it on May 23, 2012

Step on the Grass and $ave!!!

Peak water use season describes the time of year when communities experience their highest spike in water use—and their biggest water supply challenges. The average home uses 260 gallons of water per day, but that can rise to 1,000 gallons per day during peak watering season, and some homes can use as much as 3,000 gallons on a peak day!

Viewer Tip: To make sure you’re watering only when your lawn needs it, step on your grass. If it springs back, then it doesn’t need water. If it does need water, sprinkle in the early morning or late evening, when it’s a bit cooler, so the water doesn’t evaporate.

This information is provided by U.S. EPA’s WaterSense Program. Learn more at

This information was provided to us via EarthGauge.





Posted under going green

This post was written by qni_it on August 15, 2011

Kishwaukee River Forecast

This weekend is a popular weekend for people to take to the “Mighty Kish” on tubes, kayaks, and canoes. If you’re going, please remember a few things: sunscreen, put all trash and recyclables in bags, don’t bring glass bottles, and make sure younger floaters have life jackets! And please act with common sense. Use appropriate floatation devices. With the river being a little slow, plan for a trip from Baumann to Atwood Park to last about 5-6 hours.

The weather will be just perfect with highs in the lower 90s by 5:00pm. There is a very slight chance of a shower or storm but it should be pretty isolated. Remember, if you hear thunder get off the water immediately!


Posted under going green, safety, sunlight

This post was written by qni_it on July 1, 2011

Earth Hour 2011

Tonight from 8:30 to 9:30 pm turn off your lights and be apart of the Earth Hour 2011!  It’s to make a statement against climate change and global warming.  Earth Hour has already started in Japan and throughout Europe.  Many big cities are going black and it can look creepy if you have no idea what is going on.  Landmarks from around the world are dark for one hour to show support.  From Sydney’s Opera House to the Eiffel Tower, more than 134 countries are to take part in this hour of darkness.  Take a look at this video of Japan going black! Earth Hour Japan


Posted under going green

This post was written by qni_it on March 26, 2011

Happy Earth day!!

earth_day_graphics_08In celebration of Earth Day, here are some easy, everyday tips on how you can make your life greener.
Tips of Saving Energy: Buy energy efficient light bulbs; turn off lights and electronics when you leave the room. Unplugging your cell phone charger from the wall when not using it can save you money on your electric bill. Try car-pooling with co-workers, use public transportation, or ride your bike.

Tips on being water efficient: Do full loads of laundry and set the cycle to “cold.” This will safe you money and less water waste on doing small loads. Turn off the faucet when you are washing your face or brushing your teeth. Take 10-15 min showers, instead of a 30 min shower.

Reduce, Reuse and Recycle: Start a compost pile in your backyard.  Compost Tips

Reuse your water bottle or try avoiding buying bottled water all together. Try reusing everything plastic at least once or buy a reusable/eco-friendly water bottle. If you use plastic grocery bags, recycle them for dog poo bags or for small trashcan liners. Try bringing your own bags to the grocery store and ask for paper bags if you have the option. Go paperless. Consider reading your newspaper or magazines online. Switch to electronic banking and on-line credit card statements, too.


Posted under going green

This post was written by qni_it on April 22, 2010

A new kind of Christmas light

On Monday I decided to put up the old Christmas tree in the living room. Unfortunately, half of my pre-lit tree lit up. Needless to say, I became increasingly grumpy. After throwing in the towel I went down to Old Time Pottery (and was suprised to see the ‘going out of business sign’). Anyway, I was lucky enough to get a really good deal on a new pre-lit Christmas tree. The only problem with my purchase? I didn’t realize that it was covered with incandescent bulbs!

Did you know that the amount of electricity used by just one little incandescent Christmas bulb is about the same as one hundred and forty LED bulbs (that’s two 24-foot strings of LED lights)? If only Clark W. Griswold knew about that.

Note to self: next time look for the Energy Star lights. Maybe I’ll get those for the outside of the house. Hmmm….


Posted under going green

This post was written by qni_it on December 2, 2009

Great Lakes clean-up lagging badly

greatlakesBy JOHN FLESHER

AP Environmental Writer

(AP) A federal report says the government is moving so slowly to clean up the most polluted sites in the Great Lakes that it will take 77 more years to finish the job at the current pace. The inspector general’s office with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released the report this week.

It deals with 31 so-called “areas of concern,” which are river bottoms, harbors and other spots where sediments are heavily contaminated with toxic chemicals. The report estimates it will cost more than $2 billion to finish the cleanup.

It calls on EPA to establish a plan with clear lines of authority and accountability for each site.

The report says the agency has agreed to develop a limited management plan but hasn’t gone far enough.


Posted under going green

This post was written by qni_it on September 15, 2009