Friday, October 25, 2013

What's The Deal With Trees?

Trees provide a variety of benefits to people, animals and the environment including beauty, food, shade, and oxygen. 

Benefits of Trees
  • Trees provide oxygen
  • Trees combat the greenhouse effect by absorbing greenhouse gases
  • Trees clean the air
  • Trees conserve energy
  • Trees save water by returning water vapor to the atmosphere.
  • Trees prevent soil erosion
  • Trees provide habitat for wildlife
  • Trees prevent water pollution
  • Trees shield children from ultra-violet rays, reducing exposure by 50%
  • Trees cool the streets and the city by providing shade and combatting the Urban Heat Island Effect 
  • Trees provide food in the form of fruits and nuts, but they also provide food to birds and wildlife.
  • Trees provide economic opportunities from fruit harvesting, lanscaping, agriculture
  • Trees block unsightly buildings and construction
  • Trees provide wood for fuel and craft
  • Trees heal, teach and are good companions after all, they are good for your soul
  • Trees mark the seasons
  • Trees add unity to a community
  • Trees increase property value
  • Trees increase business traffic
"I've often said that the most sophisticated "green" technology on the planet is the humble tree. Trees sequester carbon, fix nitrogen into the soil, create organic compost, prevent erosion and encourage rain, while providing sustainable crops, shape, lumber and even fuel. The single most important activity on the planet (I believe) is planting trees, a fact backed up by the latest McKinsey study on abating the effects of global warming." - Pieter Hoff

Okay, we've clarified the importance of a tree, so what?

Rate of Destruction
UN specialists estimate 60 acres of tropical forests are felled every minute, up from 50 only 1 generation ago. "Deforestation continues at an alarming rate of about 13 million hectares (32 million acres) a year," the U.N. body said in its latest State of the World's Forests report.

Forests still cover about 30 percent of the world’s land area, but swaths the size of Panama are lost each and every year. Seventy percent of Earth’s land animals and plants live in forests, and many cannot survive the deforestation that destroys their homes.

Impact to the Environment and the Future of Humanity
"If we lose forests, we lose the fight against climate change," as deforestation drives climate change. Soil is moist, but without shade from the trees they quickly dry out.

Removing trees deprives the forest of portions of its canopy, which blocks the sun’s rays during the day and holds in heat at night. This disruption leads to more extreme temperatures swings that can be harmful to plants and animals.

Get Involved
Most of the major deforestation is happening in Asia, Africa and South America where there are major rainforests and economic incentives for people to cut them down to feed themselves and their families among other things. 

It is also in our own backyard. The California Floristic Province is one of the Top 10 Most Endangered Forests. As one of only five areas with a Mediterranean-type climate in the world — all of which are on the hotspot list — the California Floristic Province is characterized by hot, dry summers and cool, wet winters. The region contains a wide variety of ecosystems.

Planting trees properly is very important. You must think about the right tree, the right place and the right way to plant the tree. For a tutorial visit:

Additional tree planting tips:

Ways to find volunteer opportunities is easy. Each city has organizations that organize and teach volunteers to plant trees properly. A simple Google search will put you in touch with organizations in your area.

Planting trees is a great way to get involved in your community, meet new people, and teach your family good life lessons. A little fresh air and manual labor are good for the soul too!

Hope everyone gets out there and plants some trees!

Have a good weekend!

-the Little Critterz team 


Thursday, October 24, 2013

Guide to Green Vehicles

The damage from cars and trucks to the environment and our health, including air pollution, oil spills and fouling water supply, damaged habitats and global climate change, is often concealed. Emissions from these vehicles can be more harmful to our health than many other toxins released from power plants, as cars and trucks are right where we live, work and play.

Before I begin discussing the basics, terminology, models and what to look for green cars, I want to first clarify that cars are not the only mode of transportation. In fact, walking and bike riding are the greenest forms of transportation. It is alarming that 40% of car rides are under 2 miles - which takes about 20 minutes to walk. Before you hop in your car to go to the store, gym, school or grocery, consider making the journey into an outdoor excursion, enjoying the scenery and walk or bike those short distances.

Now that that's covered, let's dive into the basics of energy efficient vehicles.

Gas-electric hybrids are the most popular form of green cars as you can charge the car as well as fill up at the pump, which extends your range of long distance travel. They are the greenest option of cars still relying on an internal combustion power. They have better fuel economy, and energy saving features such as regenerative breaking (converting the normally wasted energy of the wheels to turn the motor), electric motor assist when accelerating or climbing hills, and automatic engine start/shut off when car stops and goes.

Electric cars do not rely on internal combustion and they are the greenest option. They are plugged in over night and ready to be used each morning. Consider waking up every morning with a full tank of gas! It does take about 8 hours to fully charge an electric car, hence distance-anxiety when debating on the purchase of an electric car. Models like Model S from Tesla takes 3.5 hours to charge. Recent announcement of Tesla battery swap takes a mere 90 seconds to charge!

Electric cars are generally more expensive than their gas counterparts, but they cost less to run. However models such as the SmartForTwo Electric Drive, Chevrolet Spark EV, Nissan Leaf, and Mitsubishi i are all under $30,000.

Gas stations, oil changes, spark plus, smog checks, fuel filters, etc. are obsolete with electric cars.

Real Electric vs Compliance Cars
California has the toughest standards of emissions for car makers, and a dozen other states have adopted these standards. Late last year, California required automakers of a certain size be required a portion of their sales be from zero-emissions vehicles.

A "real" electric car is one that is sold outright to the consumer (not leased), will sell 5,000 in the US a year (or 20,000 global), and it is offered in states other than 'California emission' states now or in the next 18 months. Any car that doesn't meet those tests isn't a serious volume car and was created to meet the zero-emissions vehicle requirements.

Biofuel comes in several forms, diesel, ethanol and algae.

Diesel cars still run on gasoline as an internal combustion engine, but the new generation of clean diesel offers lower emissions, high efficiency and high performance. Diesel fuel is more dense than regular gasoline, packing more energy in the same amount of fuel.

Ethanol is made from corn and sugar cane. Most ethanol models use a combination of ethanol and gas. And there are debates about how green ethanol is as it takes a substantial amount of energy to produce the ethanol.

The technology to use algae derived biofuel is still being made.

Tax Incentives
There is a $7,500 tax credit provided for most electric and hybrid cars. Ford C-Max Energi and Fusion Energi, Honda Accord Plug-In Hybrid, and Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid have tax incentives ranging from $2,500 to $4,000.

**Keep in mind that the emissions from a car are emitted throughout the lifespan of the car, and factors such as maintenance and driving habits also effect emissions.

I hope that helps answer some basic questions and to give you a bit of background on the types of green cars. If you are in the market for a new vehicle, I urge you to consider going green.

-the Little Critterz team


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

New Little Critterz for Fall!

We add new Little Critterz to our collection this fall! We are constantly inspired by the environment, changes, and settings of our world as well as by our customer's likes and interests. For the fall we're introducing two new lines of Little Critterz, plus several animals to existing lines!

Serendipity Critterz
We've recently partnered with award winning children's author Stephen Cosgrove to create a collection based on his Serendipity book, the Serendipity Critterz. They include Leo the Lop, Sniffles, Creole and more! Read more about the new line, and Stephen Cosgrove here.

Glow in the Dark Critterz
This is such a fun line that glows in the dark! Perfect as night lights to help the kids get over their fear of the dark. Keep them in the sun all day and they'll shine all night! The line includes dragons, fairies, mermaids, and more!

New Animals
Leopard is such a cool fall trend - faux of course! The mixes of browns and blacks creates a neutral backdrop allowing for coordinating colors to pop. Plus it's fierce and fun!

We've created a leopard Little Critterz to jazz up your space! Plus, an adorable chinchilla, lobster, antelope, and much more!

Check them out on our website to get your new miniature porcelain figurine!

-the Little Critterz team

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

11 Tips for a Green Halloween

Living green is something we should all incorporate into our lifestyle. We only have one world and we must take care of it for the sake of the future for humans and animals alike.

That being said, here are some tips to help you have a green Halloween!

  1. Make your costumes from things you have around the house. Think old sheets, pipe cleaners, old toys, etc.
  2. Shop at Goodwill or a thrift store to create a recycled costume.
  3. Decorate your house with gourds, pumpkins, pine cones and other items found in nature to reduce plastic.
  4. Make spider webs from string instead of buying them in a bag.
  5. Buy faire trade chocolate.
  6. Trick-or-treat with a canvas, reusable bag.
  7. Give preference given to locally grown or made goods. For reasons why visit this post
  8. Buy non-food items are made from Earth friendly materials such as sustainably harvested wood or recycled plastic
  9. Buy items contains as little packaging as possible, less plastic, etc.
  10. Buy what's in season, it reduces the length and energy the food travels.
  11. Most importantly, if you can go without – do! Nothing could be greener than focusing on people rather than things.


Friday, October 18, 2013

Who We Support // Orangutan Outreach

More and more rainforests are disappearing due to deforestation and the expansion of palm oil plantations into their rainforest home. As a result, more orangutans are being captured, being smuggled out of Indonesia, or have become pets for plantation workers although it is illegal. They are also starving as a result of deforestation, or dying as a captured prisoner.

They are on the brink of extinction. It is critical that the rescued orangutans are rehabilitated and reintroduced into the wild with the skills needed to survive.

Baby orangutans normally live with their mother for the first six to seven years of their life– until they are strong enough to cope on their own. It takes years to teach the little ones the skills they will need to become independent, wild orangutans.

This is Gunung, a baby Orangutan we adopted this year.

Borneo Orangutan Survival (BOS) and International Animal Rescue are in favor of relocating wild orangutans to safer forest areas whenever possible. The BOS rescue center in Nyaru Menteng is the largest rehabilitation program for wild orangutans in the world. Once they arrive, they immediately go through health checks as they are malnourished and have contracted diseases because of contact with humans. After the orangutans have been examined and are deemed healthy they are placed in one of two groups depending on their age and skills. Either they will go to the nursery or to the socialization home.

Nursery School
At the nursery school, they learn to climb. In the wild the babies would be with their mother until they are about 7 years old. They are never alone, like humans they need constant care in first years.  At the nursery they are monitored 24 hours a day. 

The larger orangutans are carefully evaluated before deciding where to place them. As a general rule they will be place in so called “socialization” cages where they live together with 10-15 other orangutans and will learn how to live in a group.  Most of the confiscated orangutans have been brought up chained to something in order to restrict their movements and keep them tethered to the ground– lest they mange to escape, which they would naturally do. They have also been living with humans as their only companions. It is therefore imperative for them to get to know other orangutans and create their own social network before being released into the wild. When the orangutans have shown that they can handled themselves in the socialization cages without any problems it is time for the next move.

Halfway House
Once the orangutans can successfully fend for themselves it is time for them to move to a so-called “halfway house”– located a little more than half a mile from the center. Human contacted is purposefully limited. Once the orangutans have learned to build solid nests, find forest food and are choosing to stay in the forest instead of returning to ground homes, it is time for the next stage in the rehabilitation process: the Islands.

Orangutan Island
Close to the rehabilitation center, there are several uninhabited islands in the middle of the river. They are specially protected and still monitored by staff. It is here that Animal Planet’s series Orangutan Island takes place.

The Wild
After a long period of supervision the orangutans are ready to be released into carefully chosen areas in the wild. The release sites must meet a number of criteria including free from human beings and diversity of fruits and plants that can feed the orangutans. The site also has to be in the area of Borneo that the orangutans originate from in order to avoid genetic mix up with other wild populations. 

They are checked up on occasionally by scientific professionals to take blood samples to test for diet and disease. As you can see this is a very long, complex process that requires a lot of time, effort and resources. 

Please visit our support page to see more about what you can do to help save the orangutans.

Orangutan Outreach is a NY based non-profit founded by Richard Zimmerman whose mission is to save the critically endangered orangutans and protect their rainforest home. You can visit their website at

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A Wild Halloween for the Kids to Remember

Dress up and take the kiddies to explore your zoo in the wildest way possible - Halloween style! Zoos put on a variety of ghoulish actives your family will be talking about for months!

Los Angeles, California
Boo is Back for two weekends. Enjoy costumes, trick-or-treating, pumpkin carving, arts and crafts, pumpkin patch, Campfire Cathy's interacting show of spooky tales, and more! October 19-20 & 26-27 from 10am-4pm.

Sacramento, California
Two nights only October 30 & 31, Sacramento Zoo is hosting Halloween! Trick-or-treat around the lake at over 25 stations, enjoy a magic show, costume dance party and ghoulish games8 Ride the Spooky Train or Creepy Carousel!

Denver, Colorado
The 29th annual Boo At The Zoo and Boo After Dark offers more than 25 trick-or-treat stations, creepy crawly animal demonstrations and exciting family-friendly entertainment under the canopy of the beautiful fall foliage of Denver Zoo. Boo After Dark is October 25, and Boo at the Zoo October 26 & 27.

Melbourne, Florida
Weekends until Oct 27 enjoy Halloween, Brevard Zoo style with mystical performances, costume contests, Mystical Mansion Ball, Boo Choo Train and more! Friday through Sunday evening October 18-20 & October 25-27.

Boise, Idaho
Join Zoo Boise Saturday October 26 for characters, costume contests, trick-or-treating, pumpkin patch, face painting, and more!

Fort Wayne, Indiana
Enjoy “merry-not-scary” fun at the Wild Zoo Halloween!  See zoo animals while you explore Treat Trails, navigate the Mystery Corn Maze, meet Broomhilda the Witch, dance the Monster Mash, and much more! October 18-20, 24-27 & 31 from 1-6pm.

Manhattan, Kansas
Dress up and wander 5 trails of trick-or-treating! Enjoy the Pumpkin PlayZone inside the Nature Exploration Center featuring a straw bale maze, pumpkin games & more!

Topeka, Kansas
The last two weekends in October, dress up in your favorite costume and visit over 20 treat stations!

Louisville, Kentucky
Magical Halloween fun happening in Louisville! Meet your favorite storybook characters, princesses, pirates, superheros and more! Visit Mumpkin the Giant Talking Pumpkin and wander through Pumpkinville, USA with its hay maze and hundreds of glowing pumpkins. Trick or treat, take pictures with T-Rex and stroll through Sleepy Hallow every weekend in October!

New Orleans, Louisiana
Two weekends of Halloween filled fun including trick-or-treat houses, ghost train, scary and non-scary haunted house, and more! Friday and Saturday nights at 5pm on October 18-19 & 25-26.

Battle Creek, Michigan
ZooBoo is the Binder Park Zoo's largest annual fundraiser and allows the park to feed and care for the animals throughout the winter. Trick-or-treat and enjoy the Haunted Africa Safari. October 11-27.

Jackson, Mississippi 
Join Jackson Zoo for carnival rides, costumes and trick-or-treating for Boo at the Zoo October 25-26 and Harvest Festival October 27.

Kansas City, Missouri
Spooky not scary decorations up for Halloween activities including pedal tractor rides, trick-or-treating, monster mural, boneyard graveyard, and the Monster Bash Mash! October 19-20 9:30am-5pm.

New York City, New York
October weekends at the Bronx Zoo feature hay mazes, costume parades, musical theater, magic shows, and Dinosaur Safari! Weekends through November 3.

Cincinnati, Ohio
HallZOOween's happening at the Cincinnati Zoo weekends in October (though the 27th). Enjoy trick -or-treat stations, animal encounters, theater of illusion, Hogwarts Express Train Ride, and a Scare-ousel.

Portland, Oregon
Howloween's happening! Bring your kiddies to partake in a scavenger hunt and trick-or-treating through the zoo Saturday and Sunday October 26 & 27. Saturday night, explore the park by dark with the Halloween Safari, carmel apple making, games, costume parade and stories!

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Two spooky weekends of October 19-20, and 26-27 features a not-so-scary Extinction Graveyard, Scarecrow Scavenger Hunt, costume parade and more!

Providence, Rhode Island
Join the Rogers William Park Zoo every night through November 3 for a breathtaking display of over 5,000 jack-o-lanters! The Spooky Zoo is October 26 & 27 and features trick-or-treating, magic, music, games, creepy crawly animal encounters and pumpkin treats for the animals! Kids in costume get half off admission!

Knoxville, Tennessee
Boo at the Zoo is a 12 night not-so-scary Halloween family fun event featuring devilishly good music and games at the Monster Mash tent in The Clayton Family Kids Cove, your favorite costumed characters throughout the zoo, and the only "haunted" carousel in East Tennessee, the Scary-Go-Round.
There is also a Spirit of the Night 21+ person event Tuesday, October 29.

Chattanooga, Tennessee
Join the cast of Wizard of Oz for two weekends of ghoulish fun of games, face painting, costume contests Friday and Saturday Nights Oct 18-19 and 25-26 from 5:30-8:30pm.

Seattle, Washington
One child in costume free per adult! Pumpkins for the animals, trick-or-treating and more! October 26 & 27 from 9:30am-2:30pm.

Be Green and bring your own reusable bags for trick or treating!

If your city isn't listed here, comment below and we'll add it!

Hope everyone has a safe and happy Halloween!!!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Win a Little Critter From Our Newest Line!

Stephen Cosgrove has been writing value-based children's stories since the mid 1970s. Now, with over 70 tales written containing mythical creatures and morals, the Serendipity Book collection will delight, entertain, and teach children. 

Mr. Cosgrove wanted to create books that were teaching tools and affordable for every family. They were born out of an effort to share stories with his then three year old daughter, without avail. So he got to work. He was influences as a child by the writings of Aesop and Charles Dickens, and it was that the backdrop that his first story and all the books that followed reflected plots driven by the moral failings of the central character.

Little Critterz has partnered with Mr. Stephen Cosgrove to create the Serendipity Collection!

Want to win a Serendipity Critter before they've launched? 

How to enter: 'Like' Little Critterz on Facebook and write a status telling us why you love these books, which one your favorite is, or a cute story involving this series! Get creative! Tag us in your status with @LittleCritterz to be entered! (If you don't tag us, we won't know you've done it!)

Good luck!

Enter by Thursday October 17th. Winner will be notified by Friday, October 18. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

National Farm Animal Day

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way in which its animals are treated.” - Mohandas Gandhi

October 2nd invites you to learn about the treatment of animals on farms, how they are raised and treated, and where you can buy food from ethical farms.

Founded in 1983, World Day for Farmed Animals is dedicated to exposing needless suffering of farm animals. Each year 65 billion farm animals are killed for food. We're not arguing for vegetarianism for all, that's a very personal choice, what we would like to bring up is the treatment of these animals. Most of these animals raised to produce meat, eggs, and dairy are raised on factory farms, where they are confined, mutilated, and raised to grow so large, so quickly, that many of them literally suffer to death.

Why October 2nd? WDFA takes place on or around October 2nd to honor the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, an outspoken advocate of non-violence towards animals.

How You Can Help

  • Look for "Free Range", "Organic", or "Humane" farms when buying meat, dairy and eggs.
  • Follow the Eco-Friendly Diet
  • Write a letter to your Congressman and request that he/she take steps to implement USDA animal treatment standards. 
Little Critterz loves cows, pigs, chickens, and turkeys. Each animal is a unique, loving, intelligent, social, and curious beings. They deserve respect and ethical treatment. When farm animals are raised right, they have great lives.

If you love farm animals as much as we do, you can purchase these miniature porcelain figurines here:
rooster, large calf, calf, horse, pink pig head down, tan pig, pink pig, black pig, owl on branch, donkey, lamb,