Alright, I’ve been wanting to write this post for awhile now, so I’m excited to get to it. It’s nothing fancy, it’s really just a few ideas for how each of us can lessen our environmental impact.

After all the nasty icy weather we’ve had in Oregon this winter, I’m back outside hiking and exploring with my kids frequently. Thank goodness! It feels great.

When I was a kid, I used to find frogs all the time in my yard. I lived out in the country and had a big yard to explore with my brother. I remember how excited I would get to find a frog. They’re so cute and they jump and they’re slimy. I just loved them.

In talking with my kids, I realized they have never had the experience of finding a frog in their yard or anywhere we’ve explored. I’m determined to give them this experience.

My son and I set out yesterday to search for frogs and newts (we do get newts in our yard and see them hiking as you can see in my  post Protecting our Natural World).

We walked around our yard and peeked over our ravine. I was commenting that the leaves provide great cover for wildlife. I looked away, then looked back and all of a sudden spotted this guy.

We were pretty excited to spot this garter snake. I also used to find these snakes in my yard as a kid. I think they’re cool. We watched it for a few minutes before my 2  year old was on to the next thing.

I’m worried about why we haven’t seen any frogs in the area when we live near a creek and hike along the river and other bodies of water. I have read that frogs are some of the first animals to show negative effects of pollution. Here are some links with information:

Frogs: The Thin Green Line; Agriculture’s Effects on Frogs (Oregon Public Broadcasting)  ** Of note, I don’t like the scientist’s use of “he/she, she/he”.

Understanding the impact of chemicals on amphibians: a meta-analytic review

This article says amphibians aren’t the canary in the coal mine per se, but are more like the miners in the coal mine, in that they are susceptible to pollution but if there is a thriving amphibian population, it doesn’t mean there isn’t a problem making an impact: Amphibians rarely give earliest warning of pollution.

My city has made public that there is a problem with pesticides in our water ways specifically high concentrations of bifenthrin (ant killer) and fipronil (insect killer), and they are working toward reducing the levels. One way our city suggested to reduce the pesticide levels is to use natural methods of yard care and pest control. Since we moved into this house, we’ve had little black ants periodically that we needed to keep under control, so we had hired a quarterly service to spray around our house to keep the ants at bay. Since hearing about our city’s pesticide problem, we decided to cancel that service and use more natural methods. We haven’t used any pesticides or fertilizers in our yard care and do not intend to. It has simply never been needed. Weed pulling and planting native plants when possible has worked well in our yard. I intend for our fruit and vegetable garden to be organic as well.

Those little black ants are no joke, they invade from time to time, and we can’t have them getting into our food. I found websites with suggestions for natural pest control. We’ll have to give these ideas a try.

National Resource Defense Council: Control Household Pests Without Scary Poisons

Huffington Post: 8 Homemade Pest Control Remedies That Really Work

I’ve used the apple cider vinegar fruit fly trap and it works like a charm. The other one I’ve heard that I don’t see on these sites is sprinkling cinnamon near where you think ants are coming in. I’ve also seen a warning to keep your pets away from the cinnamon (not sure why) so please keep in mind that those these are more natural solutions, your children and pets may still need to be kept away.

One more important reason to reduce pesticides that I want to mention before moving on is the threat to honey bees and bumble bees that pesticides pose. I have been heartbroken to see bees dead on the ground in our area and have wondered if it was due to pesticides. Obviously bugs die for many reasons, but this is a real and harmful trend that will harm our food supply and environment if we don’t protect pollinators. Read more here:

Report: More Pollinator Species In Jeopardy, Threatening World Food Supply

A short excerpt from the above article states, “A U.N.-sponsored report drawing on about 3,000 scientific papers concludes that about 40 percent of invertebrate pollinator species (such as bees and butterflies) are facing extinction.”

‘The decline of wild butterflies, bees and other pollinators “is primarily due to changes in land use, intensive agricultural practices and pesticide use, alien invasion species, diseases and pest, and climate change,” says IPBES Vice Chair Robert Watson.’

Reducing pollinators’ pesticide exposure is one of the ways people can reduce the risk to pollinators according to the NPR article.

See also: Bees Added to U.S. Endangered Species List for 1st Time.


Instagram gave me my second idea for how to reduce my family’s environmental impact. I started following “zero waste” Instagram accounts which have shown me many ways people reduce their waste output. Do I think I’m going to reduce my waste to zero? Unlikely. Do I think implementing one or a few ideas at a time will make an impact? Absolutely.

I saw multiple posts about reusable produce bags for grocery shopping (or even better, farmer’s market trips). We already use reusable grocery bags, so using reusable produce bags is a logical next step. Gone are the days of those thin plastic produce bags we used week after week just to throw away by the dozen.

My new reusable produce bags pictured with my well loved Powell’s reusable grocery bag.
I used these at my last grocery trip and they were easy and convenient as well as easily washable. Just google reusable produce bags and you’ll have many to choose from including some inexpensive options. I’m sure you can find them in stores and people even make their own.

Thanks for reading about our search for frogs and ideas to reduce our environmental impact. I’ll write an update when we find our first frog out in our yard or hiking. I’ll also update about natural pest control options we try and whether they work.

What have you done to lessen your environmental impact? Please share your ideas!