October 2010 Archives

Wearing green

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     "Optimism can take you anywhere."

                                                                                       -- Life is Good --

 

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With the cold weather heading our way, here is some warm Florida sunshine. Photo taken by me, in Orlando, April 2010

     As I am sitting here searching for inspiration for this week's entry, I soon realize that inspiration is not that far away. I am wearing it, literally. I am wearing a Good Karma by Life is Good organic hoodie. This week I will tell you about how even the clothes you wear can have a positive impact on the environment.

     Life is Good is just one brand of clothing that offers eco-friendly options. It is a personal favorite of mine, as their slogan is "optimistic clothing and accessories for truly inspired people." Good Karma is their organic cotton line of clothing, featuring men's and women's apparel "for the Earth-conscious optimist." I can say from experience that this line of clothing is extremely comfortable and well-made and the best part is that it is all organic.  

 

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The Life is Good logo, picture from Google images

 

     Another company, Element EcoWear, offers eco-friendly, fair-trade clothing for both men and women. Their goal is to provide products that are not only good for the customers but good for the planet. They use products such as hemp, soy, organic cotton and bamboo to make their clothes and they say that their clothing has significant environmental benefits over other clothing sold today made from conventionally grown cotton. Not only do they strive to sell eco-friendly, fair-trade clothing, Element EcoWear donates 1 percent of all profits to charities.

     According to their website, Simple is "the nice little shoe company getting in touch with it's inner hippie." I like them already. This eco-friendly shoe company is dedicated to making their products 100 percent sustainable. Simple uses many recycled and sustainable products to make their shoes. These include:

  • bamboo
  • silk
  • plastics
  • hemp
  • recycled carpet padding
  • organic cotton
  • car tires
  • recycled paper
  • cork
  • recycled inner tubes
  • wool
  • coconut

Simple offers men's, women's and kids shoes as well as a line of eco-friendly bags.

     I am a huge fan of all of these brands and what they are striving for. All of these companies offer cute, affordable clothing, shoes and accessories that are better for the planet than most clothing sold in chains today.

     What do you think? Would you consider buying from these companies?

Mindless ways to be good to the planet

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Climb the mountains and get their good tidings.  Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees.  The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves. 

                                           -- John Muir --

 

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          Photo of tree bark taken by me, in Miami, July 2010.

 

     My goal this week is to share some mindless, straight forward advice on how to be eco-friendly. The tips I am going to share are easy and require no real change in lifestyle.

  • Turn off the lights
    • When you are late for class and running out the door, it is common to just leave the lights on all day. Next time, take one second to turn those lights off. You will be conserving energy and not only doing the planet good, but you will also save money on your electric bill.
  • Wash laundry in cold water
    • Choosing cold on the washing machine is another great energy saving tip. 90 percent of the energy used by washing machines goes into heating, according to thedailygreen.com.  
  • Print double-sided
    • The next time you print a paper, notes or article, do it double-sided. The less paper you use, the better.
  • Take notes on your computer 
    • For those of you with a laptop, start taking it to class instead of your notebook. For professors who allow it, take notes electronically instead of on paper. Again, the less paper you use, the better.
  • Do not litter
    • One of my biggest pet peeves is littering. Being eco-friendly doesn't get easier than this. Wait for a garbage can, don't throw garbage on the ground. This includes cigarette butts. Instead of flicking them on the ground, find a proper receptacle to dispose of it.             

     I hope that you found my advice simple and do-able. I encourage everyone to try these mindless tips and see how easy being green can be. I would also like to hear from you. Share with me some of the ways you are good to the planet. What are some of your mindless eco-friendly tips?

Meatless Mondays

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"The first rule of sustainability is to align with natural forces, or at least not try to defy them."

                                                   --Paul Hawken--

 

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Photo taken by me, in Disney's Animal Kingdom, April 2010

 

 I recently read a news article about a college promoting something called Meatless Mondays. Although I do not remember which college it was, the article said that it was being promoted in the student cafeteria to encourage a healthier lifestyle. The article definitely caught my eye, so I decided to do some research about it.
     I found that Meatless Mondays is not just an idea at this college that I read about, but a non-profit initiative associated with the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. Their goal, according to their website, is to reduce meat consumption by 15 percent in order to improve personal health and the health of our planet.
     Most people probably already know that eating meat can have negative effects on personal health and many people stop eating meat for that reason. But many people probably don't realize that choosing not to eat meat is also environmentally friendly.
     For example, I have taken some classes that have talked about the increasing dangers of factory farming and its negative effects on the environment and what I learned definitely influenced my meat eating habits. Factory farming is an increasing problem in this country because of the high demand for meat. Meat producers are thinking of ways to produce more meat, faster and cheaper. Factory farming is the result and it is having a horrible impact on animals, the environment and our natural resources. I still have a lot to learn but here are some facts that are given on Meatless Mondays website, as well as from farmsanctuary.org.
 

  • The United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization estimates the meat industry generates nearly one-fifth of the man-made greenhouse gas emissions that are accelerating climate change worldwide , far more than transportation. As annual worldwide demand for meat continues to grow, reining in meat consumption once a week can help slow this trend.
  • The water needs of livestock are tremendous, far above those of vegetables or grains. An estimated 1,800 to 2,500 gallons of water go into a single pound of beef.

  • The quantity of waste produced by farm animals in the United States is more than 130 times greater than that produced by humans. Agricultural runoff has killed millions of fish and is the main reason why 60 percent of America's streams are "impaired."
     Meatless Mondays is an initiative that I completely support and would love to see here. Not eating meat, even just for one day a week, has environmental benefits as well as personal health benefits. Most of the meat that we eat comes from a factory farm, and the less demand we give for meat, the faster this problem can be reversed.
     For those of you that love your meat, just try one day a week and see how delicious a meatless diet can be. There are many recipes on Meatless Monday's website. If you can't completely give meat up, try to buy it locally. Many towns and cities have local meat shops. In Indiana, try Cunningham's. Buying locally usually ensures that the meat was humanely raised and not raised in an environmentally dangerous factory farm.

For more information on Meatless Mondays
     www.meatlessmondays.com
For more information on factory farming
     www.farmsanctuary.org
     www.sustainabletable.org/issues/factoryfarming
Click here to watch a video on the environmental dangers of factory farming. 

Take time to enjoy the environment

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Photos taken by me, in June, 2010, on the Hoodlebug trail.

Hello everyone! We have had some rainy, gray weather in Indiana this week. Today, however, was sunny and beautiful which inspires my blog entry today. Instead of telling you what you can do for the environment, I am going to tell you what the environment can do for you.

After a long day of classes and work, there is nothing I like better than to take a long walk. Walking around campus is great, but I do that all day anyway. Lucky for us in Indiana, there are many parks and trails around the area to enjoy. Located within walking distance from campus, the Hoodlebug trail is my favorite. The 10 mile long trail is a picturesque gem, lined with trees and streams. If you are looking for a great escape from the crazy life on campus, hop onto this trail for a relaxing walk, run or bike ride. hoodlebug2.jpgThe trail holds some rich Indiana history as well. The Indiana branch of the Pennsylvania Railroad system was built in the 1850's and the trail follows that now abandoned railway. According to the Indiana Parks and Trails website, Hoodlebug was the local nickname for the passenger coach that ran along the railway until 1940. The name carried through to the trail.

          From campus, you can walk to the trail by following the walking path to Robertshaw. From there, you have to cross Rose Street and enter the trail right by Hoss's.

          There are several picnic tables and pavilions along the trail, so on nice days it is great to grab some friends and walk to one for a picnic. There are also benches along the way in case you need to stop for a water break.

          The Hoodlebug trail is mainly flat, with only small hills and bumps along the way. The views along the trail are gorgeous, especially around sunset. Autumn is a great time to take advantage of the trail because of all the yellow, red and orange foliage.

          There are other parks and trails to use in Indiana as well. Blue Spruce Park offers hiking trails, a volleyball court and picnic pavilions and is an approximate 15 minute drive from campus. The Ghost Town Trail, another great place to run, walk or bike, is an approximate 35 minute drive from campus.

          So, the next time you are looking to do something good for you, take a trip over to the Hoodlebug trail. If you want to enjoy nature on a nice day, let out some stress or just escape from college for a bit, the Hoodlebug is the place to go.

         

    

 

 

 

Small changes, big impact

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     "The smallest deed is better than the greatest intention."

                                                         -- John Burroughs --

 

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This photo was taken by me in Nags Head, North Carolina. July, 2010.

 

     A lot of people look at being eco-friendly as an overwhelming task, as something that they cannot personally make a difference with. But in reality, every small change you make does make a difference. If after reading this blog, you throw your plastic water bottle into a recycling bin instead of a garbage can, you made a difference. Keeping the environment clean and healthy is such a large problem that every little step counts and chips away at the bigger problem at hand. This week I would like to share with you one small change that you can implement in your life that will make a difference.

     Let's talk more about that water bottle. Or soda bottle. Or Gatorade bottle. Or whatever type of bottle you use. Most people don't think twice about throwing those bottles away, but throwing them into a trash can is doing a lot of damage. The facts vary, but some sites say that it can take up to 450 years for one plastic bottle to decompose.

     The ideal change to make is to invest in a reusable bottle that you can fill and reuse instead of buying a new plastic bottle everyday. On Wal-Mart's website, there are 121 results when you type water bottle, ranging in price from $5 to $38, with many different styles and colors from which to choose. Buying one of these reusable bottles is a good investment for you and for the environment. They are easy to refill and easy to take anywhere. As for the environmental impact, for a person that drinks 2 bottles of water a day, that would be 2 less plastic bottles used and thrown away per day, or 730 per year. Just think: 730 less plastic bottles that will be sitting in a landfill just from one person who drinks 2 bottles of water a day. That is a big impact.

     Of course, in reality, we all need to buy bottles sometimes. When you find yourself in that situation, make sure you recycle the bottle instead of throwing it into a trash can.

 

Breathe In, Breathe Out

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     While browsing YouTube videos for my next eco-friendly tip of the week, I came across a video that I would like to share with you all. I have to say that this may be one of my favorite videos I have ever discovered on YouTube. Watch the video by clicking here.
     The video is simple, yet conveys a strong message to me. As college students, we all live hectic lives. We have class, homework, work, meetings and try to fit a social life in there somewhere. It is important to take time to ourselves and like the video says, just breathe. Even if it is only 90 seconds a day.
     On nice days, go outside and take your 90 seconds to breathe beautiful fresh air. One of my favorite things to do after a long day is go to the Oak Grove, where it is very peaceful in the evening and take time to just breathe and enjoy the air there.
     The video was created and posted by Greenpeace, an organization that according to their website is "the leading independent campaigning organization that uses peaceful protest and creative communication to expose global environmental problems and to promote solutions that are essential to a green and peaceful future."

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