Eco Minute

Producer and Host
Dr. Enid Sisskin received her PhD from Columbia University in Pathobiology. She has worked as an environmental activist for more than 20 years. She is currently on the faculty of the School of Allied Health and Life Sciences at the University of West Florida. She is the creator of the Eco Minute and has produced & hosted the series since 2005. Her interests include continuing to garden despite yearly failures and she continues to work for environmental protection with her husband and children.

Click on the dates below to listen to each Eco Minute.

Green your Halloween this year.  According to and, about 25 million children celebrate Halloween and most of them get a new store bought costume every year.  Rather than buy yet another costume for your kids or yourself, consider either making one from things you have around the house or organize a neighborhood or school costume swap.  These swapped costumes will be new to your children, you’ll save money and you could reduce landfill waste by tons.  Some other sources of gently used costumes are thrift stores and consignment shops – many of which benefit local

It’s time to start thinking about getting your home prepared for cooler temperatures.  Inspect the exterior of your home to check for cracks or open areas around pipes and seal them. Check your doors and windows to see how well they fit.  Use weather-stripping around doors to prevent cold air from entering the home and caulk windows.  Replace any cracked window panes.  In your home check where pipes, vents or conduits run through the walls or ceilings and fill any spaces with foam sealant.  Install any storm windows, and store your summer screens.

Have you considered how eco-friendly your child’s lunch is?  This is Carrie Stevenson with the EcoMinute.  When I host school field trips, I always cringe at the juice pouches, plastic sandwich bags, and water bottles tossed in the garbage after lunch.  Most kids are off to a good start by taking a reusable lunch bag or box to school, but reusable water bottles and sandwich containers will reduce waste and save money throughout the year on plastic baggies and juice pouches.  Another good tip is to buy snacks (like crackers, yogurt, and trail mix) in bulk and send them in a reusable contain

Getting ready to spruce up your home? Check your windows.  Installing high-performance windows will improve your home's energy efficiency. While it may take many years for new windows to pay off in energy savings, the benefits of added comfort and improved anesthetics and functionality may make the investment worth it to you and there might also be tax incentives.

October is a great time to start thinking about preparing your home for the cooler weather to come.  If you have a furnace, have it inspected by a professional before you need to use it.  Stock up on filters and be sure to change them monthly.  If you don’t have a programmable thermostat, consider buying one – they’re not very expensive and they will save you money.   If you have a fireplace, and it hasn’t been cleaned in a while, have it checked and get any build up or soot and creosote removed and be sure the cap is intact.  Inspect the damper to be sure it opens and closes properly.  Al

When I lived up north, knowing that the tulip and daffodil bulbs I planted in the fall would be blooming in the spring helped to get through the long, cold winter.  This is the EM and I’m ES.  In NW Florida, we don’t have the long cold winters and tulips don’t do well here, but you can still plant bulbs now that will welcome the warm spring weather.   According to the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences or IFAS, Florida's climate lets growers raise a variety of tropical and subtropical bulbs in their gar

If you’re a gardener, the website is a great source of information.  This time of year you can use to check for the average date of the first frost, check out the USDA hardiness zones to decide what to plant this fall, or check the distribution of Florida native plants  - among other available maps.  What I found when I looked at the site, was that in NorthWest Florida, our average first frost is between December 1 and December 10, plenty of time to ge

Although vegetable gardens are associated with summer, not all vegetables grow well in the Florida heat.  In Northwest Florida we can get in a crop of fall and winter vegetables.

Get creative with your outdoor Halloween and other decorations and keep the three R’s in mind.  Reduce the amount or money you spend on decorations by looking for reusable items and make sure that if you are using one-time use decorations be sure to use only recyclable or compostable material.   Autumn decorating practically screams for the use of natural objects as outdoor decorations.  You can be stylishly savvy with cornstalks, branches, colorful leaves, and of course the traditional Halloween pumpkin — all of which can be composted when you’re taking down your Halloween scene.  And las

Yard and landscape maintenance don’t have to be a lot of work.  This is Carrie Stevenson.  The University of Florida’s Florida-friendly landscaping program is based on common sense principles.  The first is right plant, right place; which means making sure the soil and light conditions match your plant’s needs.  Next is water efficiently.  Proper irrigation can make or break a new plant, especially a tree.  The third is fertilizing appropriately.  Many native species don’t require much fertilizer at all, but if your vegetables, turf, or flowers do need extra nutrients, make sure you use th