Archive for August, 2010

Let your senses become your nature guide

Many people enjoy being outdoors and experiencing nature. But to be honest, we are doing lots of other things when outdoors than just experiencing nature. For example, spending time with friends and family, talking on mobile phones, listening to music, exercizing, solving troubling work or private issues, trying to remember species’ names or identifying birds. Nature then becomes just background that we pay very little attention to.

Next time you are out there, let your senses guide you to new nature experiences. Give one sense at a time attention:

  • What sounds do you register close and far away, are they soft or sharp, frequent or rare?
  • How does nature feel, what about that tree trunk near by? How does the ground feel under your feet?
  • How does your nose experience nature? This time of year the shifts in temperature and the decomposition of leaves and grasses create palettes of scents.
  • The eyes are our most used sense and also the easiest to explore. One way to challenge your eyesight is to look for details, for example shades of green in a single tree.
  • There are plenty of edible berries, plants and mushrooms to be enjoyed, or why not focus truly on the taste of your picnic food during the break of your nature explorations.

This sensually-guided nature experience was inspired by Hans Landeström in his work on nature-guided therapy.

Enjoy the beauty, taste and smell of Pine needles. image courtesy Sara Borgström

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Everyday choices in times of election

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010 | Environment Update | No Comments

Currently there is no room for other issues than those brought up by the politicians struggling for votes in the up-coming Swedish election. The signs along the roads, the commercials, the press-conferences are all about us making a very important choice. At least that is what they want us to believe.

However, everyday you and I make millions of choices that are as important as our political standpoints. We vote by our actions. We decide how to get to work: whether by foot, bike, bus, train or car. We decide what to buy: meat, fish or just vegetables, locally produced or not, free from pesticides or not, the cheapest or the more expensive. All of these minor choices are acts of economic, social and environmental importance at local, regional and global levels. To help us in our decision-making there is a flora of labels, in Sweden KRAV, EU-ecolabel, Fairtrade, Svanen, Bra miljöval, FSC for forest products and MSC for sea products.

On September 19th the Swedes decide on the politics for the next 4 years. Right now we make decisions that have an impact far beyond our national borders and for a long time to come. Start with your next activity and make it a bit more environmentally friendly.

Some Swedish guidance:
Fish for dinner, WWFs guide (in Swedish only)
KRAV – organic food production
Bra miljöval eco-label ” Good environmental choice”
Svanen, eco-label

…and international:
MSC, Marine Stewardship Council (Sustainable seafood)
FSC, Forest Stewardship Council (Sustainable forestry)
Global ecolabelling network, GEN
EU Ecolabel (Former EU flower)
Fairtrade (tackling poverty and empowering producers by trade)

How large is your ecological footprint? image courtesy Sara Borgström

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Mushroom day – September 5th

Monday, August 30th, 2010 | Environment Update, Explore Everyday Nature | No Comments

The first Sunday in September, Sweden, Norway and Denmark have devoted to celebrating mushrooms. If you want to know more about these strange creatures that are neither animals nor plants, this is the time of the year to start. There are plenty of seminars and exhibitions to visit in order to learn more about mushrooms, mostly about those that are visible to us. A central activity is of course to share knowledge about how to find and prepare edible mushrooms. Some are delicious, while others are deadly poisonous – no wonder they are surrounded by mysticism, witchcraft and folklore.

Did you know that:

  • Mold and yeast are fungi.
  • The root system of fungi are essential to many plants’ ability to absorb water and nutrients, therefore you’ll often find certain mushrooms near certain tree species.
  • It is nearly impossible to clean air from fungal spores.
  • The majority of mushrooms are found below ground and their extensive root systems can become more than 100 years old.
  • Lichen are a symbiosis of fungi and algae.
  • There are more than 1.5 million species of fungi in the world.
  • The study of fungi is called mycology.

More about mushroom day in Sweden!

Not to eat, but a joy for the eye. image courtesy Sara Borgström

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