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Living the Green Life

Be a Friend of the Environment: June 2021

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As seasons change, so do environmental concerns. That's why we are here with monthly updates to help you Live the Green Life and be a friend of the environment. Follow us on social media (the links are in the footer of this page) and share your pictures and ideas with us by using #LiveGreenNY in your social media posts--we'd love to hear from you!

Summer begins this month and it's time to start planning those getaways. Whatever type of trip you want to take -- look no further than right here in New York. With beautiful waterways and scenic trails -- there is a lot to see and do. There are the great green forests and high peaks of the Adirondacks -- not to forget the fire towers and great heights of the Catskills. Wherever your destination takes you and whatever you want to do, make sure to travel in a green way.

Green packing

Hiking essentials including boots, a compass, headlamp, backpack, and hat..
Hiking this summer? Pack smart and for safety.

Keep these tips in mind when packing your suitcase or backpack:

  • do-it-yourself (DIY) travel-size toiletries. Save small containers, rinse them out, and fill with shampoo, conditioner, and other products needed for your trip. Reuse for your future packing needs.
  • pack a cooler. Bring beverages and snacks from home -- this can reduce waste since many convenience items are packaged.
    • Pro-tip: save cans and bottles so you can get your 5-cent deposit back.
  • use solar power. Small solar power banks are available for travel to charge phones and other electronics.
  • bring your own reusables -- silverware, water bottles, and straws. Keep them handy so you can say "no thank you" to plastic disposables.
    • Camping? Don't forget a biodegradable dish soap/sponge, a basin for dishes, and a reusable drying towel.
  • bring two bags for disposables -- one for trash and the other for recyclables. This will help you ensure items are disposed of properly. Check local recycling guidelines for municipalities throughout New York State by visiting the Recycle Right NY website (leaves DEC's website).
  • use non-toxic insect spray and sun protection. Look for safe ingredients that won't hurt water, plants, and wildlife. DIY natural insect repellant:
    • 2 oz. of witch hazel
    • 2 oz of distilled water (make sure to leave a little bit of room at the top)
    • 20-25 drops for children age 3+ or 40-50 drops for adults and children age 10+ of essential oil. Common choices for repellents are: citronella, lemongrass, rosemary, geranium, spearmint, thyme, and clove.
  • include the 10 essentials -- if hiking. Also, let someone know where you are going and when you plan on returning.
  • re-pack any leftovers -- in reusable containers and into a cooler. Be sure to use a bear-resistant canister to safeguard your food if camping. Read more environmentally friendly camping tips.

Did you know that...

  • The Empire State Trail is over 700 miles long (leaves DEC's website) and is open for you to walk or bike. No matter if you're looking for something nearby or to explore further away, find a trail and get outdoors.
  • DECinfo Locator can help you find your next adventure. This interactive map is full of hiking trails, parking areas, campsites, lean-tos, conservation easements, and other information to help plan a hike on state-managed lands.
  • the 2021 "I Bird NY" challenges have been announced. Whether you are a beginner or advanced bird watcher, plan some time to enjoy nature's feather-friends this summer. Don't forget your binoculars!

Keep the environment in mind as you enjoy New York this summer. DEC provides additional information about how to Love Our NY Lands.

Be a friend of the environment -- June 2021 Tips

a bee pollinating a yellow flower on a sunny day
There are simple steps you can take to help protect pollinators.

Pollinator Protection -- Pollinators include bees, butterflies, and birds. They help our environment and our food supply. While pollinators help us, they need our help in return. Join us in celebrating National Pollinator Week -- which runs June 21st to 27th -- and do something to protect these amazing creatures. Some ideas are:

  • Provide habitat by letting some areas around your home fill in with native plants (PDF)
  • Start an herbal container garden (when they flower, can attract pollinators): mint, thyme, oregano
  • Try to use more organic gardening methods and support organic farmers
  • Support local beekeepers by buying locally sourced honey

Find out more about DEC's pollinator protection programs.

Outdoors Day -- Join DEC in June for this annual day of outdoor activities. This open-house style event is held in conjunction with National Get Outdoors Day. You can introduce your family and friends to hiking, archery, paddling, and fishing. Add Outdoors Day to your list of summertime green events.

Thirst quenching beverages -- Hot days often call for a cold beverage. Whether you select water or soda -- be sure to save containers with a deposit and take them to your local beverage redemption center to get your deposit back. If you are making your own beverages, such as lemonade or iced tea, only put the empty cartons or containers into your recycling bin if your local recycling program accepts them.

Have s'more fun -- S'mores are a favorite campfire snack for many. Whether you make a variation or prefer the classic chocolate bar, marshmallow, graham cracker combination -- remember those wrappers and packaging do not go into the campfire. Put items in the trash or appropriate recycling container. Enjoy your sweet treat and protect our environment.

Fun and games -- No need to go out and buy more lawn games when you can easily make your own. Try:

a handmade tic tac toe game on green grass includes ribbon and bean bags
Go for the win -- reuse items to make fun lawn games.
  • Bowling -- reuse 10 empty 16 ounce or 2-liter plastic bottles. Just supply a ball and get ready for strikes and spares.
  • Ring toss -- use plastic bottles and make rings from sturdy rope. You can also make rings from a discarded hose or similar items. Cut into pieces and bend to form rings and then use a sturdy tape -- such as duct tape -- to close the rings together. Test your aim with this fun game.
  • Tic-tac-toe -- make "bean bags" by filling mismatched socks, gloves -- or even sewing scrap fabric pouches together -- then fill with unpopped popcorn, dry beans, rice, or other items. Once your bean bags are complete -- make a grid on the ground using ribbon, rope, string, fallen branches, and try for three in a row.
  • Can toss -- with your DIY bean bags, recreate an old carnival classic. Save six empty metal or plastic coffee cans, making sure there are no sharp edges. Stack in the form of a triangle and your target is ready. Knock them down to win.

Get creative -- decorate your DIY games and have some green fun with family and friends this summer. Show us your green games using #LiveGreenNY.

Summer is in the air. So, let's work together to keep our air clean. Visit this page next month as we present ways to protect and preserve our state's air quality. Remember to share your green traveling ideas with us using #LiveGreenNY.

You asked, We answered!

Q: How can we clean up the Hudson River?
Pollution problems facing the Hudson River and its tributaries today are quite different from those of the past. Discharges from industry and waste water treatment facilities have been reduced, but non-point source pollution, such as stormwater runoff, remains a concern.

Contaminated runoff from individual homes, farms, and communities has put pressure on aquatic habitats, protected species, and overall water quality of the Hudson estuary and local streams. Learn more about a number of ways you can make a difference.

Q: What can residents of Putnam county do to help conserve and preserve water?
No matter where you live, you can take action and create habits that will help to save water:

  • Cut down on your shower time.
  • Only wash full load of laundry and dishes.
  • Collect rain water (try installing a rain barrel) and use it to water your indoor and outdoor plants.
    • Do you water your lawn and outdoor plants? Use a rain gauge so that you don't overwater.

Find out about more actions you can take to conserve and preserve water.

Q: Is there any way to clean phosphorus and nitrogen from rivers that are damaging Lake Ontario?
NYS is working on a number of actions that reduce phosphorus and nitrogen loading into Lake Ontario:

  • Reducing non-point sources of nutrient loading (i.e. manure discharge from farms, septic discharges from private properties, and fertilizer runoff from lawns) can help to reduce nutrient loading to Lake Ontario.
  • Planting native trees and shrubs on private lands and installing green infrastructure (ex. rain gardens and porous pavement) in urban areas to absorb nutrients and prevent excessive nutrients from entering waterways.

More information on how DEC addresses nutrient loading issues throughout New York State is available on our website.

Q: What career can I get into to protect our waters?
A: The DEC employs a variety of titles such as engineers, environmental program specialists, and research scientists. Watch a special On the Front Lines (leaves DEC's website) about one aspect of DEC's work to protect NY's waters.
You can also stay informed about job opportunities with DEC by signing up for our newsletters.