Earth’s Cleanser: Turkey Vulture

Have you ever bought a new car, and then everyone on the road suddenly had it too? The Turkey Vulture is my new car, so to speak.

After an enlightening visit to the Woodland Park Zoo’s raptor program a couple months ago, my husband and I realized that not every large, dark-colored bird of prey circling above us was a  “hawk” or “eagle”, general terms we’d throw out there because we had nothing else to go on. With our identification skills for raptors lacking and our binoculars far from “good”, it never occurred to us that the alien-looking Turkey Vulture we vaguely knew from childhood books and Westerns would be so prolific in the Pacific Northwest. After our revelation, we noticed those naked red heads and wobbly, V-shaped flight patterns everywhere, even more than hawks and eagles. We’ve become deeply interested in this bizarre creature; its presence is a favorite companion to our car trips and walkabouts now that we know what to look for, and suddenly I find them quite beautiful.

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5 Easy Plants to Liven Up Your Apartment

Why Plants?

If you’re like most people I know, you’re an apartment dweller. While apartment living can be a fun and convenient way to live in or near a city, it isn’t ideal for easy access to trees and fresh air. Don’t get me wrong–there’s no greater pleasure in life than spending days in my bath robe watching Lord of the Rings and baking cookies–but allowing enough time outside is vital for a healthy mind and soul. Nature is nourishing. According to the EPA, Americans spend an average of 90% of their time indoors. Even more shocking, air pollutants are 2 to 5 times higher indoors than out. (1)

One of the quickest and most satisfying ways to liven up an apartment (literally) is to add plants to your decor. Not only do plants bring beauty and the feeling of nature to your home, they also provide cleaner air by filtering out toxins.

NASA has lead the way in research on air filtering plants in order to create more habitable living quarters on space stations. Luckily for us, this information applies to our own habitats on Earth. All plants have some purification properties, however some plants are particularly superb at removing the most common household toxins: benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene.

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