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.

Although transportation, power generation, and industry are the largest contributors to air pollution, they’re not the only ones.  Other activities, such as mowing your lawn with a gasoline powered mower also contribute.  In fact, on an hour-for-hour basis, a gasoline-powered lawn mower produces as much pollution as 40 cars.  On bad air quality days, put off lawn care for a day or two until the air is cleaner - then get a good workout by pushing that trusty, old hand mower!  Additionally, especially on bad air quality days don't use other gasoline-powered equipment like leaf blowers and ch

The EPA estimates that indoor air can be more polluted than outside air.  Some of the indoor pollutants of concern are asbestos, carbon monoxide, radon, volatile organic compounds, formaldehyde and pressed wood products, cleaning supplies, pesticides, lead, and second hand smoke.  Apply paint with rollers and brushes instead of sprays; it cuts down on fumes. Oil-based paints and varnishes contain a high percentage of VOCs, so use water-based paints and solvents and store them in an air tight container.

Asthma is the leading serious chronic illness of children.   Asthma is also the third leading cause of hospitalization among children and one of the most common causes of school absenteeism.  Episodes of asthma are often triggered by infection, exercise and irritants.  Air pollution can worsen existing asthma.  Common symptoms include coughing, audible wheezing, rapid breathing, coughing after running or crying, chest tightness and shortness of breath.  Frequent respiratory infections may indicate asthma.  Recurrent night cough is common, as asthma is often worse at night.  Even though ast

Air pollution is a threat to your health, the environment and the economy.  According to the EPA, each day, pollution causes thousands of illnesses leading to lost days at work and school.  Toxic air pollutants and the chemicals that form ground-level ozone and acid rain can damage trees, crops, wildlife, and water bodies.  It reduces agricultural crop and commercial forest yields by billions of dollars each year.   Two of the biggest contributors to air pollution are vehicles and electric utilities.  By decreasing the amount of driving you do and your electricity use, you can make a diffe

It’s getting warmer now and that means more time outdoors in the heat.  It’s also time to be aware of air quality levels.  While exposure to ozone air pollution causes adverse health effects in most people, children are especially susceptible. Children spend more time outdoors, especially in the summer when ozone levels are the highest.   And, they engage in vigorous activities resulting in more air and pollution taken deep into their lungs.

Spray products can be a major source of air pollution.  In the San Francisco Bay Area, 50 tons per day of pollution come from spray products. That's more Volatile Organic Compound emissions than from all the Bay Area oil refineries! These aerosol products include hairspray, furniture polish, cooking sprays, bathroom cleaners, air fresheners, antiperspirants, insecticides, and hobby craft sprays.




Drive the speed limit - you get better fuel efficiency.  This is the EcoMinute and I’m ES. Traveling at 55 mph will give you up to 21% better mileage than when you drive 65 mph or 70 mph. 

For every 5 mph you drive over 60, it’s like paying an additional  24 cents a gallon.  Also, drive steadily.  Slowing down or speeding up wastes fuel. Think ahead when approaching hills. If you accelerate, do it before you reach the hill, not while you're on it.  Avoid tailgating - the driver in front of you is unpredictable.

Addicted to Pinterest? Itching to start a new repurpose project?  Hi this is EcoMinute and I’m Connie Bryars with Pensacola Habitat for Humanity...If you’re the crafty type, then we’d like to invite you to host a Reuse and Repurpose class at the store. 

Ditch the bottled water. Plastic is made from petroleum, so we are depleting our non-renewable resources for a bottle that will be used just once. In a peer-reviewed journal article, The Pacific Institute calculated that the process of making the plastic bottles consumed in the U.S. uses approximately 17 million barrels of oil per year and with all costs considered required the equivalent of between 32 and 54 million barrels of oil—roughly one-third of a percent of total U.S. primary energy consumption. 

When you do your shopping bring along your own cloth or other type of reusable bag.  The average American family uses 900 plastic shopping bags a year.  That adds up to 100 billion bags consumed in the United States annually.  It takes 504 million gallons of oil to make all of these bags.  They end up being a waste of our nonrenewable oil resources, a source of litter, costing cities millions to clean up, and a hazard to wildlife and marine creatures that confuse them for food.  In addition, 99% of the bags are not recycled and will take as much as 1000 years to break down.  Of the EPA’s l

What do you carry with you?  Here are some suggestions.  It’s easy to cut down on disposables if you plan ahead.  In your car you should keep reusable bags so you don’t have to take plastic bags when you shop. 

After you unload them, hang them on the front door to remind you to bring them back to the car.  Also carry a traveling cup for coffee or a drink when you’re on the road and a stainless steel bottle for water – it’s better for you and the planet to avoid plastic bottles. 

To GreenScape your landscape, you need to practice natural lawn care.  Mow frequently when grass is actively growing so that you are only cutting no more than one-third of the height of the grass.

 "Grasscycling," or leaving the clippings on the lawn, doesn't cause thatch build up—and it does make lawns healthier. Soil organisms recycle the clippings into free fertilizer, and you save all the work of bagging.  If you need additional fertilizer, use organic.  Shrink your lawn and use native plants instead. 

To GreenScape your landscape, you need to practice holistic pest management.  Only about 5-15 percent of the bugs in your yard are pests. "Good bugs," like the ground beetle and the green lacewing, help control pests. 

On-going pest problems are a sign that your lawn or garden is not getting what it needs to stay healthy, so correct the underlying problem to reduce the chances of the pests reappearing.  Maintain healthy soil.  Select pest-resistant plants and put them in the sun/shade and soil conditions they like.

To GreenScape your landscape, you need to practice smart watering.

Watering too much or too little can cause plant problems.  Water deeply and infrequently.  Most plants do best if the soil is allowed to partially dry out between waterings.  Vegetables and annuals need water at the first sign of wilting, but perennials need water only if they stay droopy after it cools off in the evening.  Trees and shrubs usually don’t need watering once their roots are fully established, in 2 to 5 years, except in very dry years. 


To GreenScape your landscape, you need to plant right for your site.  You need to know your yard and select plants which will grow well in our area, and fit the amount of sun, type of soil, and water available in your yard.  Think about how big a tree or shrub will be when mature, especially when planting near your house, driveway, or power lines.