Lina Younes

Harbinger of Spring

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By Lina Younes

Spring is the season associated with the awakening of nature and rebirth.  You see it in the trees and bushes that begin to sprout new shoots and buds. You see it in the leaves of the bulbs that are starting to push up through the ground. You see it the increasing activity of wildlife. And you hear it in the sounds of nature that rise from their wintry slumber.

The other day as I returned home from work, I noticed a loud chirping.  I looked around and found one robin redbreast perched at the very top of a tree. There were no other birds in sight.  In my mind, it seemed like he was calling “look at me” and proclaiming “spring is right around the corner.”

This time I was equipped with my camera in my handbag and was able to capture the scene.  Since that evening, I’ve seen plenty of robins actively hoping around my back yard. Now I’m looking forward to seeing other colorful birds visiting the area.

During springtime, it’s a great time to consider greenscaping techniques to have a greener and healthier yard to protect the environment and save money. By creating a healthier garden, you’ll be able to enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells of nature while creating a happier setting for your family, pets, wildlife and the environment as a whole.

Have you seen any early signs of spring in your neighborhood? As always, we love to hear from you.

About the author: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and currently serves the Multilingual Outreach and Communications Liaison for EPA. She manages EPA’s social media efforts in Spanish. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Remember to E-Cycle!

By Lina Younes

Electronic items are popular gifts for dads and recent grads. Items such as computers, widescreen TVs, game stations, camcorders, eReaders and mobile phones quickly come to mind as ideal gifts for that special person. Personally, I like looking at the ads for electronic items in the Sunday paper to see the latest gadgets available in the market. To me it’s fascinating to see the latest technological developments in electronics. It’s hard not to resist buying the latest computer that is much faster, much lighter, and has a longer-lasting battery.

However, if you decide to buy the latest game system, computer, or cellphone, what are you planning to do with the old one? Have you heard of eCycling? You can donate computers, TVs, cellphones to non-profit organizations to extend the life-cycle of those items. I’m sure they may still have more years of good use. However, there is another option that is even better for the environment. How about recycling your used and unwanted electronic items? That’s known as eCycling!

The process of eCycling allows many of the valuable metals and components in those electronics to be reused in other useful products. Did you know that most electronic products contain valuable resources such as precious metals and engineered plastics which require considerable energy to manufacture? By recycling, these valuable materials are recovered for future reuse. During this process, virgin resources are conserved and there is a lower environmental impact overall. To put these numbers in context, did you know that in the United States by recycling approximately 414,000 tons of electronics in 2007, the release of greenhouse gases prevented was the equivalent of the annual emissions of more than 178,000 cars?

So, whether you’re recycling a computer or a cellphone or a TV, check with the store where you’re buying the new electronics. They will likely have an eCycling program available so you can safely retire your used electronic products. Furthermore, states, municipalities and schools have computer collection programs for their residents from time to time to help protect the environment.

Just some ideas on how to go green with your electronics. Any suggestions? We will love to hear from you.

About the author: Lina Younes is the Multilingual Outreach and Communications Liaison for EPA. Among her duties, she’s responsible for outreach to Hispanic organizations and media. She spearheaded the team that recently launched EPA’s new Spanish website, www.epa.gov/espanol . She manages EPA’s social media efforts in Spanish. She’s currently the editor of EPA’s new Spanish blog, Conversando acerca de nuestro medio ambiente. Prior to joining the agency, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and an international radio broadcaster. She has held other positions in and out of the Federal Government.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Don’t Let Your Child’s Summer Go To Waste

By Lina Younes

Summer is nearly here. Children are getting out of school. They are very happy to get away from tests, papers, and other school related tasks. However, we often see that over the summer months many students, especially in the lower grades, lose many of their academic skills during the extended time that they are away from school. So as parents, what are we to do?

Increasingly, there are many programs to encourage children to keep reading during the summer and camps to teach children special skills. Online you can also find a wealth of information, educational websites and games. However, there is another educational activity that might not readily come to mind, but is equally beneficial to a child’s well-being and learning experience. How about getting active and exploring the great outdoors? As children start exploring nature and outdoors activities, they awaken their innate curiosity and develop an interest in their surroundings and even in science. Those lessons stay with them throughout their life and may even lead to an interest in protecting the environment and pursing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) careers.

Just recently, as we were developing a Spanish webpage to highlight the contributions of Hispanic women scientists at EPA during Women in Science and Technology Month now in June, there was one thing that immediately stood out. Regardless of their background, these remarkable women all shared a love for the outdoors. They all described how as children they would explore nature and how they loved playing outside with their friends.

So, this summer, why don’t we take advantage of the opportunity now that we have more free time with our children to address the so called “nature deficit disorder” and pursue outdoor activities? I know we might hear some initial grumblings from our kids who may protest getting disconnected from all their electronic gadgets, but you’ll soon see how they embrace playing outside. Of course, we don’t all have a beautiful national park in our backyard, but I’m sure that there may be some hidden treasures in your local neighborhood that you can explore with your kids.

Any big plans for this summer? As always, we will love to hear from you.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.