“I’m For the Birds” Challenge Activities Checklist

Do your part to ensure that future generations of wildlife have a chance!  Commit to earning ten points from the extensive list below by 5/1/2016. We ask that you count only new behaviors and improvements. If you need help implementing any of the changes, look for extensive information on the resources page.

Items in green cost you nothing and save you money!

 

Helping Birds and Other Wildlife to Survive Climate Change: 

  • Pull invasive plants (ivy, Scotch broom, butterfly bush, Dalmatian toadflax, giant hogweed, Himalayan blackberry, Japanese knotweed, etc.) which spread and choke out native plants:
    • Clear 100 sq. feet., maintain that area free from invasives for 12 months for 3 points
  • Plant native trees:
    • One tree= 3 points
  • Plant native shrubs:
    • Three shrubs= 3 points
  • Plant small native plants:
    • 10 plants= 3 points
  • Plant red, tubular plants, such as columbine, jewelweed and bee balm, which provide nectar for hummingbirds:
    • 3 plants= 3 points
  • Plant a variety of different types of plants to provide food at different times of the year:
    • All seasons covered by at least one source of food=1 point
  • Provide at least three different types of food for birds:
    • Seeds, berries, nectar, foliage, nuts, fruits, sap, pollen, suet. 3 types of food provided all year= 3 points
  • Collect and distribute leaf litter in your yard; it provides food, shelter, and nesting sites.
    • Cover 100 sq. feet with leaf litter= 3 points
  • Add a water source to your yard (e.g. by placing a boulder with a concavity in your yard to collect rain water.):
    • one birdbath, pond, etc.= 3 points
  • Provide some open-limbed bushes for birds to use as shelter.
    • 2 new bushes= 2 points
  • Provide usable, not merely decorative, bird houses.
    • 1 new high quality birdhouse= 2 points
  • Provide nest platforms. (House finches, song sparrows, robins and other small birds will use them.)
    • 1 new, high quality, nesting platform= 2 points
  • Retain snags.
    • 1 new snag=3 points
  • Keep a brush pile somewhere in your yard. 
    • Add 1 new brush pile, at least 20 cubic feet = 3 points
  • Eliminate all use of highly toxic pesticides or herbicides: go organic or eliminate altogether.
    • No toxic pesticide or herbicide use for full year=3 points
  • Avoid broad spectrum pesticides and herbicides: target your specific problem.
    • No broad spectrum pesticides or herbicides used for full year= 3 points
  • Plant vegetation that discourages insect pests (e.g. foxglove, lemon balm).
    • Plant at least 2 different insect-discouraging plants, 3 each= 2 points
  • Leave grass clippings on lawn to help with natural fertilization and reduce organic waste.
    • Commit to doing so = 3 points
  • Use rechargeable batteries to reduce toxins in landfills.
    • Replace 100% of batteries with rechargeables over the year= 3  points
  • Plan to properly dispose of all batteries and other toxic waste.
    • Store all toxic waste (paint cans, batteries, electronic devices, etc.) and make periodic trips during the year to the County Waste Disposal site. = 2 points
  • Plastic bags can’t be recycled curbside.  Take them to the Thurston County Waste Disposal Site.
    • Store plastic bags and periodically take them for recycling to the Thurston County Waste Disposal Site= 2 points
  • Keep interior blinds tilted half open to keep in light but make windows visible to birds.
    • Do it consistently for 1 point.
  • Install reflective window film (lets you see out, makes windows more visible to birds).
    • 4 windows = 1 point
  • Turn off your outdoor lights at night especially during migration season: lights attract birds.
    • Do it consistently for 1 point.
  • Keep your cat indoors.  Utilize one or more of the following:
    1. If you have a kitten, don’t let it get used to being an outdoor pet=3 points
    2.  Add a small area for the pet outdoors with a “cat fence” or screen in your porch=3 points
    3. Train your cat to use a cat leash= 3 points
    4. Install an indoor perch near a sunny window= 2 points
  • Plant thorny bushes near your feeders or bird baths to keep predators from hiding.
    • Sufficient planting to make them safe= 3 points
  • Keep nesting boxes and birdhouses at least 8 feet from the ground; cats can jump.
    • Raise them if need be= 1 point
  • Swap your wooden bird feeder posts for metal ones, preferably ½ inches diameter or less; metal is harder for cats to climb.
    • 1 pole = 1 point, up to 3
  • Put out only as much seed out as can be eaten in one day: uneaten seed attracts predators.
    • Consistently monitor seed use and adjust so that there is none left in evening= 1 point
  • Bring bird feeders into the garage in the evening so raccoons can’t get to them.
    • Consistently do so for 1 point.

 

 

Reduce Water Usage and help a Precious Resource Endangered by Climate Change

  • Reseed or overseed your lawn with a water-resistant grass species.
    • Reseed one 500 sq. foot section of lawn for 1 point.
  • Replace grass in lawn with clover or groundcover or shrubs with low water needs: grass is very thirsty.
    • Replacement of a 100 square foot area = 1 point
  • Choose ornamentals with low water needs.
    • Replace 10 ornamental plants or plant 10 new plants with low water needs = 2 points.
  • Plant a tree to shade your lawn.
    • One tree= 3 points.
  • Use an organic mulch in flower beds to help preserve moisture and prevent water run-off.
    • Mulch 100 sq feet of flower beds = 3 points.
  • Put in a rain barrel to naturally collect water.
    • Addition of at least one rain barrel in yard = 3 points.
  • Use porous materials to build a walkway or your driveway so that rainwater soaks into your yard.
    • Replacement of walkway or driveway with porous material = 10 points.
  • Aerate your lawn and remove thatch so that more water seeps into the ground rather than runs off.
    • Annual aeration and dethatching of lawn = 3 points.
  • Add organic matter to your soil to increase water retention.
    • Annual addition of organic fertilizer to soil in your garden = 2 points.
  • Invest in a drip irrigation system, which uses water more efficiently than conventional spray head sprinklers.
    • Installation of drip irrigation system =  6 points.
  • Water only those plants that need it, not your entire yard.
    • Adoption of conservation-friendly plan for watering your yard and plants = 3 points.
  • Hydrozone. (Group plants with similar water needs.)
    • Move 6 small plants or 1 larger shrub, or new plantings of 6 small plants and 2 shrubs that bundles together plants with similar watering needs for 3 points.
  • Don’t water the sidewalk or the street.
    • Professional adjustment of irrigation system so that water wastage is minimized = 3 points.
  • Water in the mornings or evenings to minimize evaporation.
    • Adoption of watering schedule that occurs within two hours of dawn or dusk = 3 points.
  • Sweep your walkway when it needs it; don’t hose it off.
    • Change practice of hosing walkways and driveway to sweeping = 1 point.
  • Create a rain garden to filter and collect water.
    • Creation of rain garden = 6 points.
  • Leave your grass tall, rather than mowing it very short. (Saves water and electricity or gas.)
    • Change of mower height to one of highest settings = 1 point
  • Install low-flow shower heads and faucets in your home: they save water and money.
    • Installation of one low-flow shower head or one low-flow faucet = 4 points.
  • Install low-flow toilets in your home to save water and money.
    • Installation of one low-flow toilet = 6 points.
  • Put some bricks in your old-fashioned toilet water tanks to save water and money.
    • Bricks in all normal-flow toilets = 3 points.
  • Insulate your water pipes to cut down on how long it takes to get hot water flowing from the tap.
    • Insulation of all hot water pipes in home = 3 points.
  • Take showers instead of baths and keep them short.
    • Reduction of number of weekly baths by half, replaced by showers = 3 points.
  • Time showers to decrease time.
    • Time all showers and restrict to 4-5 minutes = 3 points.
  • Catch and use water flow while waiting for water to heat up.
    • Daily recovery of water into half-gallon bucket while water is heating up and use for watering plants or cleaning = 3 points.
  • Put a bucket in the shower to catch water and use on plants.
    • Do this whenever showering = 3 points.
  • When washing hands or brushing teeth shut the water when it’s not needed.
    • Utilize this whenever washing hands or brushing teeth = 2 points
  • Repair leaky faucets (140 gallons saved per year, each).
    • Repair a leaky faucets, outside or inside = 3 points.
  • Run the dishwasher only when full.
    • Reduce dishwasher use by 1-2 cycles per week = 3 points.
  • Run a full dishwasher rather than washing dishes by hand. (This saves water.)
    • Reduce hand washing by 5-10 minutes per day = 2 points.
  • Go vegetarian one (or one extra) day/week.  (Growing a cow requires an enormous amount of water.)
    • Add one vegetarian day per week = 3 points.

 

Keep our water supply clean

 

  • Avoid using toxic home cleaning products; use only those labelled “biodegradable” or make your own.
    • Switch at least 2 products over = 3 points.
  • Don’t wash your car on your driveway, even with biodegradable soap (runoff picks up toxins from the driveway itself and goes right into the Sound).
    • Only wash your cars at green carwashes = 3 points.
  • Dispose of toxic waste and e-waste safely so that they don’t contaminate ground water: Thurston County residents can use HazoHouse in Lacy for free!
    • Gather up your old chemicals/cleaners/paints/etc. and dispose of them properly = 3 points.

Help prevent climate change: Reduce your carbon footprint

  • Plant trees to shade your home; east and west plantings best.  Plant at least one tree in a strategic location to shade your home = 3 points.
  • To save electricity, always set your dishwasher on “air dry”.  Do not use other drying options for 12 months = 2 points.
  • Religiously unplug appliances when they are not in use.  Take 5 minutes per day to look around the house and unplug unused appliances = 2 points.
  • Wash your clothes in cold, not warm, water.  Commit for the coming year = 3 points.
  • If you need a computer, buy a laptop: they use 80% less energy than a desk top.  Replace your desktop computer with a laptop= 3 points.
  • Install solar panels. 10 points
  • Install ceiling fans rather than use an air conditioner. Install one and use it to reduce air conditioning usage= 3 points.
  • Microwave more, use your oven less. Don’t use the oven at all 2 days/week = 3 points.
  • Line dry your clothes in nice weather; 2% of our nation’s energy use goes to drying clothes. Adjust washing schedule as much as possible to take advantage of sunny days for air drying. Commit to line drying in the late spring, summer, and early fall = 3 points.
  • Switch to low-energy fluorescent or LED bulbs. Switch 100% of your bulbs over the course of the year = 3 points.
  • Get a free energy audit from PUD. 3 points.
  • Turn down your water heater thermostat. (Each 10 degree reduction results in savings of between 440-600 pounds of CO2 per year.)  Lower thermostat by 10 degrees = 3 points
  • Ask your cable provider to replace your current cable box with one that meets the latest version of ENERGY STAR (version 4.1)—some cable boxes use a significant amount of energy even when the customer thinks they are turned off. Replace your cable box = 3 points
  • Replace an aging major appliance (stove, refrigerator, etc.) with a new energy-efficient model. One major appliance upgraded = 4 points
  • Wrap your water heater in an insulating jacket: this costs very little and can achieve real electrical savings. Insulate your water heater = 3 points
  • Weatherize your home using caulk and weather stripping as needed. Insulate your doors and windows = 3 points
  • Set computers to sleep when not in active use. Reduce unnecessary power usage for computers in your house by at least 30 minutes per day = 3 points
  • Lower your thermostat setting during the winter and raise it during the summer months by 2 degrees. Change settings for the coming 12 months = 3 points
  • Set your refrigerator to 38-42 degrees and your freezer to 0-5 degrees. Change for coming 12 months = 1 point.
  • Use natural lighting whenever possible. Open window shades during the day so that you use less artificial lighting = 1 point
  • Turn off lights when you leave a room, religiously. (If you already do this, good for you!) 3 points
  • Enable the automatic brightness control on your TV set. Dimmer screens mean less electrical waste! 1 point
  • In cold weather, open your curtains during the day and close them at night. It really makes a difference in your heating bill, if they are heavy. 3 points
  • Check gaskets around the refrigerator to be sure they are clean and tight, and be sure the door closes securely. 1 point
  • Walk, take mass transit, or use a bicycle instead of driving when you can.
    • Find one trip per week that can be substituted for other means besides personal vehicle = 3 points
  • Carpool to work.
    • 6 points
  • Drive during off-peak times to avoid standing in traffic and save gas.
    • Find one trip per week that can be changed to off-peak hours = 2 points
  • Switch to a fuel efficient or hybrid car.
    • 10 points
  • Buy locally grown foods when you can.
    • Commit to replacing 10% of your food with a locally sourced item = 3 points.
  • Keep your tires properly inflated to get maximal gas mileage.
    • Check your tires once/month to be sure they are properly inflated = 2 points
  • Don’t be a lead foot: accelerate and break slowly to save gasoline. Commit to changing driving habits. 
    • Get a friend or family member to give you feedback on your acceleration and braking practices (and then do so for them, too!) = 3 points
  • Drive the speed limit—each 5 mph you drive over 50 mph is the equivalent of spending 20c more per gallon in gas.
    • Commit to not exceeding the legal limit during the coming year = 3 points
  • Remove unnecessary items from your car to reduce weight.
    • Keep your trunk as and back seat as empty as possible = 3 points
  • Cut down on wasted food! Buy what you need, and use oldest items first. Cut down on food spoilage by 10% per week by utilizing some of the following:
    1. Place fresh produce in water and sealed containers to extend their usable life. 1 point
    2. Place an “eat this first” sticker on leftovers in the fridge, or have a special spot in your fridge for older foods. 1 point
    3. Reduce the amount of food you throw out by 10%. 3 points
  • Compost your food scraps.
    • 3 points
  • Read your newspaper online; save some trees.
    • Cancel your print subscription and replace it with an on-line subscription = 3 points

 

Save on Packaging and Conserve Resources

  • Commit to buying minimally packaged goods, choosing reusable over disposable items when possible.
    • Replace 10% of your heavily packaged or one-use items = 3 points
  • Get and use a refillable water bottle rather than buy bottled water to really save on plastic!
    • Commit to not using store bought water bottles for the coming year = 3 points