By Karina | March 12, 2012
Hi there friends!
It’s been a couple-a-three weeks since any new content has come up here at TinyChoices.com. I’m sorry about that! I had a busy couple of weeks and have been a touch ill as well. When I tell you that the last six days straight have involved me stumbling upstairs and climbing into bed by 9PM I am not exaggerating.
But! I want to write more about Tiny Choices, and I want to hang out with this neat community a little more frequently.
Now, a LONG time ago we had a regular (irregular?) Q&A feature on the site. People would post questions and Jenn and I would do our very best to answer them. I’d love to do that again!
so let’s try this again: leave a question about anything – really! but especially environmentally related or with respect to tiny choosing – and we will do our best to answer them for you!
now my job is to go back and double check the original questions post for any that haven’t been answered yet… whoo hoo!
By Karina | February 13, 2012
I’ve written before about my love of solid shampoos – since writing that post, I’ve started to use JR Liggett’s shampoo bars almost exclusively for about three and a half years! (For the record, this product review was not sponsored in any way and the products I am discussing were purchased by myself for my own personal use.)
I used to see JR Liggett’s in the awesome Pittsburgh Food Co-op and marveled at the old fashioned packaging – but I didn’t start using it then, for whatever reason. I think because I was still hung up on using baking soda and vinegar, and also because it was perhaps not fancy enough for me. I hate to say it, but it’s hard to believe that something so “traditional” could honestly be made of such simple ingredients. I spent some time reading about the Appalachian Trail in 2008, though, and it turns out that several journals (that I wish I could find now to link to!) wrote about how JR Liggett’s is the secret workhorse of the trail – because it’s biodegradable and doesn’t have any of the nastys that more conventiaonl soaps and detergents do. It also doesn’t have any SLS and comes in a plain paper wrapper (recyclable!).
All that is great, though, but how does it work?
I have pretty resilient hair type. It’s wavy-straight, fairly thick, and has lots and lots of it, so I don’t have to worry about it flattening out. The JR Liggett’s bars keep my hair clean and I don’t have to worry about using it every day (I’m on an every two or three day wash schedule for shampooing). I follow up sometimes with a mild conditioner and sometimes without.
My partner, on the other hand, has a thinner and more curly hair type and when I asked him what he would describe his hair as he said “oh, you know, high maintenance and greasy.” When pressed he said that was using traditional shampoos, and with the Liggett’s bars, it’s much less so – his hair is much more controllable and it doesn’t feel as dirty as quickly after shampooing as it does with traditional shampoos. He doesn’t use conditioner at all, and he doesn’t have any problems with his hair drying out or being tangled.
The Liggett’s shampoo bars are also long-lasting – we bought four bars of shampoo in August, and have used them exclusively since then (between two people – we tell the boys to wash their hair with them but they are only with us for showers every other week [it's just the way their schedule works out] and I’m pretty sure they dodge the scary shampoo bars). We just ran out of shampoo this week. That’s not a bad track record! Certainly long lasting, even with my partners predilection for making lots of soap foam when he bathes.
You can also use it as a body soap in a pinch, and boy is it nice body soap.
The convenience is really important to us too. We try to travel light, and my partner in particular has had long stints of one-carry-on-bag plane travel and loved having a slice of the Liggett’s bar with him (without worry of violating TSA requirements). I like that it’s biodegradable, because there’s nothing I like better than taking a nice outdoor shower at the beach and using soap without worrying that I’m impacting downstream waterways.
The one big problem is that I can’t get JR Liggett’s locally, so every few months I make a big on-line purchase. It is pretty easy to come by coupons at their blog, but it’s kind of a hassle when you run out of something and have to buy it quick and hope it arrives before that big dinner party! (*cough* not speaking from experience or anything…)
Any other JR Liggett Lovers out there? Do you have a personal favorite shampoo bar?
By tinychoices | February 11, 2012
Valentines Day is, arguably, a holiday designed by greeting card manufacturers to make some extra bucks in card sales. However, what’s to hate about a day to remind those around you that you love them and value their presence? This year skip the high-cost and high-energy gifts, and take some time this weekend to make a few things.
- Valentines Day Cards are easy to craft and can be quite fancy with multi-material collages using scraps from around the house.
- Chocolate truffles or homemade cookies are always an easy and thoughtful way to say “Sweets to the Sweet!”
- If you want to go the extra mile, make up some gift certificates or coupons for things your sweetheart could always use – backrubs, free pass on bathroom cleaning responsibilities, or a nice homemade dinner.
It’s easy to get in the habit of feeling like we have to spend money to prove we care. This year, though, create a new paradigm. Make something special and assure your loved one that you thought of them through the entire process.
If you can, share your V-Day plans!
[[Photo from flickr user meeni2010 via creative commons license.]]
Topics: Easy Peasy Tips | Comments Off
By Karina | February 6, 2012
I flew out to San Diego last week for a conference on Sustainable Remediation. It was great! I love this group of experts who are so committed and engaged in implementing sustainable protocols and methodologies into remediation projects. I had a few observations while I was traveling and thought I would share them with you all!
- Firstly, San Diego is beautiful. It was in the 70s during the day and in the 40s and 50s at night. Sunny every single day! It’s hard to believe that EVERYONE doesn’t live there. I guess it’s good that they don’t, though, because it is a desert ecology and it couldn’t support people with local food.
- There were a few motorcyclists and bicyclists, but not as many of either group as I expected. With amazing temperatures and fair weather I thought everyone would be out of cars and onto two wheels, but I guess that’s not the case. Lane splitting is legal in California, and I think the major reason people ride motorcycles out there isn’t the efficiency, but the ability to get through highway traffic quickly.
- There WERE lots of runners and surfers out there. I would like to think that I would be super fit if I lived out there as well! There’s really no weather-related excuses for not getting out and being active.
- I normally just bring my travel mug with me on trips and avoid having to carry both a mug and a water bottle, but I brought the water bottle this time and was happy I did. The 5-6 hour flights were really dehydrating and it was lovely to be able to drink water whenever I wanted to (and to not worry about a plastic cup).
- I also brought some food with me for the plane ride. Partly it’s because I’m trying to eat a little better, and I didn’t think I’d be able to get a good-for-me snack on the airplane. Partly it’s because I’m incredibly stubborn and I just can’t believe that they will lock us into a flying box for five or six hours and not feed us as part of the ticket price. I refuse to buy food on the airplane if I have a reasonable way to avoid it. On the way out I packed up some leftover indian food into a small profile container and was enjoying it with my handy spork and a guy leaned across the aisle and said: “oh, you brought your own food? that is really smart.” This post and this post gave me the courage to do so, though. On the way back I used that same container to pack up leftover beans and rice from a dinner out and I had that for breakfast once I landed at JFK.
- How strange is it that I can watch the sun set in San Diego, hop on a plane, and arrive at JFK before the sun does?
- I need to figure out compostable containers. The University of California -San Diego, where the conference was hosted, uses compostable stuff – but there’s no separate collection bins, so does it just get landfilled? That’s not cool. I was not sure what to do with my foodstuffs. Happily I could stick to the reusables I brought with me.
- Pro-tip at conferences: if you bring your coffee mug, you may not be able to refill it from the large containers of coffee because of limited clearance under the spigot unless you do this: Slide the container to the edge of the container. Make jokes with your fellow conference goers about busting the place up (make some friends). Fill your mug. Slide the container back just to be friendly. Enjoy your coffee.
Do you have any tips or insights from a recent trip?
By Karina | January 30, 2012
We’ve been meaning to do this for AGES. We were heating our house with fuel oil, which was expensive and dirty, plus, it’s super smelly and actually exactly the same thing as diesel fuel, really. Every year the furnace would need service because of sludge clogging the lines (algae grows in the fuel oil because of the low sulfur formulation – which is good for emissions! but was a real hassle every year when we had to replace the filter). The furnace was old, too – I live in the 845 area code, and the “call for service” number on the side of the furnace was a 914 area code – which changed about 12 years ago to 845. We estimate the furnace was about 20 years old. And old means, in general, inefficient – especially when it comes to heating equipment that runs on fossil fuels. We also had a hot water heater that was over 10 years old (and those tank heaters are known to kind of randomly explode into a mess of hot water at any time over 10 years) that ran on propane, and was also wildly inefficient. It was time to replace both of them.
So, once we had enough money saved up, we found someone to come out and put in a new furnace and hot water heater! It was a multi-step process.
We decided to go with natural gas because it met several of our criteria: it was available, it was possible for us to install with a minimum of expensive infrastructure upgrades, we had the money on-hand, and as a bonus, there were several rebates we were eligible for. By going to natural gas, we can get rid of the fuel oil AND the propane tanks and rely on only one formulation of fossil fuels to heat our house and our hot water, cook our food, and dry our clothes.
First, however, we had to have a gas line installed to our house. This was pretty expensive, because we had to pay $40 a foot over the first 100 feet. It added up to just over $1,700. It looked kind of like this — we absolutely got our moneys worth, by the way. The gas company usually is able to use a horizontal boring machine to drill sideways under the homeowners lawn, and install the gas line without disruption and fairly quickly. We live on top of a granite outcropping, however, so they had to go the old fashioned way with bulldozers and diggers. I’m glad they had to do that work, and not me.
Then we waited a few months and saved more money.
Next we found a local contractor. The fellow we did find was pretty wonderful – he gave us lots of options that included ways to make our entire home more efficient, including rerouting the ducting downstairs and creating a dual zone system so we could have different heats set for both the downstairs and the upstairs, insulating all the ducting, and changing the locations of some of the heat registers for more effectiveness. We also wanted to install a tankless hot water heater, which would heat up the water right when we need it instead of keeping a bunch of water hot all day long when we are not even home. Unfortunately, we found ourselves with restricted funds so we told this nice fellow that we would have to wait on the extra efficiencies and we went ahead with the efficient furnace and a standard natural gas water heater — but we look forward to working with him in the future when we’re able to afford fixing up the forced hot air system and putting in a tankless hot water heater system.
And from the realm of incredible, the night before the furnace installation we ran out of fuel oil! It “clunked” off at about 11 at night and we put an extra blanket on the bed. What stupendous timing!
We now have a new furnace that is 95% efficient. I can’t even hazard a guess as to how efficient our old fuel oil furnace is, but according to the energy.gov page all about heating systems, we probably had a furnace that was between 70% and 80% efficient. The new furnace and a new hot water heater (also a natural gas version, though not the super efficient one we wanted – we didn’t save that much money!) was $6,400.
The new furnace runs on natural gas and is still a forced hot-air model like we had before. The major differences, though, besides the fuel source, are the electric ignition, the variable speed blower motor (which starts up slowly while the air is heating and ramps down as the furnace shuts off, so there’s less time where the furnace is burning and no air is moving).
Of course we still have lots to do. The next thing (which we can do ourselves) is to insulate the ducts in the basement. Middle-long-term is to get a new direct-contact/tankless hot water heater. And the long term plan is still to put some solar panels on the roof and further evaluate a geothermal system.
But for now, I’m so happy that we don’t have to buy any more fuel oil. We haven’t gotten the prices in on running the natural gas yet, but we are hopeful that it will be cheaper for us to run. We’re not keeping the house any warmer than we did before, but it *seems* warmer because we know we have a new furnace. Plus we were able to give away the two above ground oil tanks in the basement to people who really needed them, which is pretty great as well!
Clearly, upgrading our old farmhouse without going into debt is a long process. It was last year that we put in new insulation in the attic. We still have a long list of things to do, including finding a way to reinsulate all the house walls (either with or without taking off the siding) – their thermal value, is, well, suspect. There are a few cosmetic things (and functional things) too – like finishing the attic so we can use it as a family room, and redoing our incredibly ugly bathroom. And painting! so much painting to do. It’s nice, though, to do this as we’re able to, and to know that we’re tackling some big ticket items that are making a real difference both to the environment, and to our pocketbooks!
And as soon as we can calculate our payback you can bet I’ll be telling you all about it!
By tinychoices | January 27, 2012
We love JARS. glass jars! they’re hefty and heavy, sure, but they are super durable and you can be positive that the jar itself (though perhaps not the cap) is chemical-free. How can we keep showing jars the love after we’ve exhausted their original contents? Here are some neat ideas from the internet!
- Over here at Team Tiny Choices, we’ve used them to pack waste-free lunches and to fill with delicious beverages (cold OR hot, thanks to a tiny jar cozy!).
- If you are interested in the craft of glass etching (note: chemicals involved) check out these neat etched spice jars!
- With some simple glass cutting and polishing wine bottles become wind chimes!
- This mason jar storage technique is gorgeous and practical. You could use this in any room of the house!
- Use for outdoor lighting, or even a chandelier!
- What what! make a glass jar into a reusable pumpkin! you could do any number of different motifs for every holiday you love to decorate for.
- Use as flower vases! You can even tint the glass using glass paint.
[[Photo from flickr user Chiot's Run via creative commons license.]]
By Karina | January 23, 2012
It’s no secret that for several years I have struggled with unsightly shower curtains. In my last apartment the curtain was in tatters by the time I moved away but I didn’t want to buy a new one! The house I live in now requires two shower curtains – one to protect the unfinished window sills in the tub, and one to protect the rest of the bathroom from the shower splatter – and they were also both held together with duct tape and getting incredibly disgusting with mold and soap scum. The last time we washed the curtains they started to split, so they were also held together with duct tape.
Now for nearly four years I’ve been publicly announcing my intentions to sew my own curtains. The way I see it: cloth curtains could be washed without concern of shattering or shredding. Plus by sewing curtains I would be avoiding the purchase of new shower curtains that would be either PVC or another plastic, heavily treated cotton, or incredibly expensive.
So this weekend when I had a free hour I sat down and made two shower curtains.
I know! So exciting, right? The first photo is the curtain that protects the window – my partner already had this fabric in his stash. I had to hem the top and the bottom to make a neat seam.
The second is from an old sheet we had stashed in the fabric closet. It was just about the right width, and all we had to do was cut it shorter on the bottom (so it doesn’t soak up all the water from the bottom of the tub. That was just one hem.
And then I put in grommets – which is not the best or most fun thing to do. I have a grommet tool already and we just had to buy some extra grommets to complete the job.
and Hey Presto! Finally we have new and beautiful shower curtains. I am so thrilled about this! And further, it’s really improved the quality of shower I can take. The water is so quiet when it hits the cloth that there is no comparison to the old plastic curtains we’d used for so long.
And I especially like that we had the majority of the materials ready at home to make the curtains!
What kind of shower curtain are you using in your home?
By tinychoices | January 21, 2012
Sometimes by changing something small, we can get a second life out of things we already own:
- Love the pendant but hate the necklace? Buy new cord and restring it…
- Love the yarn but hate the sweater? Unravel it, find a pattern you love, and knit up something new…
- Perfectly good greens and beans but unimpressive soup? Cook it down, spice it up, add some tofu and make a new dish…
- Don’t need the backyard doghouse any longer? Take it apart and use the wood to build a compost bin…
- Love the fabric but hate the bedspread/blanket/shirt? Make pillows…
Have you remade anything lately?
By Karina | January 20, 2012
I love wooden pallets. It turns out they’re good for all kinds of things:
- Hang them vertically for shallow shelving [here and here]
- Stack them for wide and deep shelving – perfect for papers or small stacks of things!
- Make a shed! or a tiny house!
- So clever: chaise lounges for your yard, rolling tables, benches and desks
- An entire wall covered in pallets. It looks amazing!
Have you used wooden pallets for anything around your house? What are your favorite examples of pallet repurpose?
[[Photo from flickr user Eclipse Awards via creative commons license.]]
By Karina | January 14, 2012
These days it can be really hard to collaborate with other people. We all live far away we have busy lives, and lordy, what a lot of gas to drive between places. So if you have to go to a meeting, try collaborating with a teleconference! If you ‘ve got a good group of people, it can be a wonderful experience. It’s easy to set up with free tools like wiggio for conference calls, or skype or google hangouts for video. Not only will you be saving on time and fossil fuels, but you can also have your slippers on, enjoy a cup of hot tea, and even slurp down some dinner while you’re meeting.
Just be warned – the cat WILL jump right in front of the table, the kids WILL scream even more before bed, and you will probably feel shortly after starting the call that maybe you should have taken off your funny hat and puffy vest to be a little more professional. And use the restroom before you start!
Photo from Karina’s recent google+ hangout to discuss exciting Cooper Union things!
Have you used online collaboration tools? Do you have any favorites? What about hilarious goofy stories during the collaboration?
By tinychoices | January 13, 2012
- Glowing Artichoke Lamps, Made From Recycled Book Pages
- Can We All Join Grandmother Heidemarie Schwermer in Living Without Money?
- Recipe: Kale chips
- Thrifting 101: How to find great furniture
- Thrifting 101: How to find the best clothes
- Built on Stilts: Tom Kundig’s Sol Duc Cabin
- Semi-Veganism is Nonsense (But It’s Still a Good Idea)
- Weekday Vegetarian: Baked Polenta
- Industrial Piping, Recycled Into One of a Kind Shelving
- Tiny, Electricity-Free Home Nurtures Inner Peace
- Howard Stern goes pescetarian
Topics: Happy Eco-News | Comments Off
By Karina | January 9, 2012
We’ve been enjoying the unseasonably warm weather with some nice weekend hikes lately – we’ve been finding spots of nature and taking advantage of it wherever we can!. This weekend, we went for a ramble through the Palisades Park – and stumbled upon some ruins called “Millionaires Row” which really piqued our interest. One of the Ringling Brothers used to have a summer home! Giant hotel resorts! There were bunches of big mansions all along the cliffs – until they made the park and knocked them all down.
What’s really interesting is the history of the Palisades Park – after large quarries were found destroying the cliffs of the Palisades citizens and regulators banded together to stop them – lead by women’s clubs.
To respond to this threat, the Palisades Interstate Park Commission (PIPC) was formed in 1900 by the New York and New Jersey state legislatures “to provide for the selection, location, appropriation and management of the certain lands along the Palisades of the Hudson River for an interstate park”. The park stretched along the cliffs for 14 miles between Fort Lee, New Jersey and Piermont, New York. The first step in this preservation effort was the acquisition of the Carpenter Brothers trap rock quarry in Fort Lee, New Jersey for $132,500, most of which was donated by J.P. Morgan.
The Palisades were cobbled together through a bunch of (generally rich) conservationists who bought up land and donated it to the Commission:
The unwavering backing of benefactors has been critical in almost every major Park undertaking since then: the first 10,000 acres of today’s Harriman State Park were donated (along with $1 million) by Mary Harriman in 1910; the Palisades Interstate Parkway became possible when the Rockefeller family, in the 1930s, donated key parcels for the project; dozens of citizens’ groups raised the funds necessary to purchase High Tor in 1943; Archer Huntington donated land adjacent to Little Tor the same year; in 1998, the lands that form Sterling Forest State Park were purchased, in part, with funds from private land trusts such as Scenic Hudson and the Open Space Institute; the visitor center at Sterling Forest was completed in 2003 thanks to a generous gift from U.S. Senator Frank R. Lautenberg of New Jersey.
Of course, the Palisades Park was also created, in part, because of the Palisades Interstate Parkway. This highway was designed and built by Robert Moses – who was kind of the highway constructor of rich guys who wanted to get their way by knocking down everything in their path. So as much as the Palisades Interstate Parkway was created with a seed grant of land from John D. Rockefeller (700 acres over a 13 mile stretch of land along the tops of the cliffs) – that was probably acquired through generally acceptable land sales (like this one) — much of the parkway was “paved,” so to speak, with condemnation of properties that people actually didn’t want to turn over. (Like this compelling story of the Elephant house – and this kind of less compelling story of the Riviera. And the families who lived at Cape Fly-Away.)
The Palisades Park is an interesting look into US History – a time when a group of people had kind of the right idea, but then, it was kind of steamrolled through by the “right people,” and if you weren’t with them, you were kicked out. But now we all have access to a beautiful park that celebrates a section of the Hudson River that really shouldn’t be blocked off for the use of those with special access. These days, when issues of eminent domain has been bolstered to support the rights of corporations over the individuals – these questions are still present. So not to be a downer, but how do we watch for this kind of thing? How do we make sure that all of the stakeholders are properly represented, and somehow build consensus to protect land and open access to all?
I got no ideas, but I would love to hear some! Do you have any examples of this in your own area?
[[Photo from flickr user ladymay79 via creative commons license.]]
By Karina | January 7, 2012
During the long cold days of winter, there’s nothing better than a bowl of soup. And soup is one of the most perfect foods – better than pickles or cabbage, even! Because it is not only warm and filling, but it can be super affordable to make, and also can use up lots of leftovers and odds and ends from your pantry and leave you with lots of leftovers to put up.
What’s probably best about soup is that you can make a big pot, it will make your kitchen smell delicious, and you can invite people over for a wonderful party. Have someone else bring some bread and another person the salad or dessert, and you’ve got an instant dinner party with friends without making too much mess, fuss, or trouble for any one person. Take it from Jenn – it’s perfect! And if you’re not sure where to start, Karina highly recommends this delicious and easy curried lentil soup.
Do you have a favorite soup recipe to share? Leave it in the comments!
[[Photo from flickr user slowping via creative commons license.]]
By tinychoices | January 6, 2012
- Mike Tyson inspires Alan Cumming to go vegan
- 14 Best DIY Gadget Projects of 2011
- This weekend, NYC celebrates the magic of mulching
- Why you should run outdoors this winter – and how to enjoy it
- Bike Share Bikes Around the World
- Real Life Flintstones House Lures Tourists in Portugal
- DIY Solar Powered Cockroach Toy Is A Perfect Kids’ Project
- Travel Charger Shuts Off Power When Your Battery Is Full
- Living with Less: 229 square foot lofts have everything you need to live
- Should Billboards Be Banned? A Look at São Paulo
Topics: Happy Eco-News | Comments Off
By Jenn (TinyChoices.com) | January 4, 2012
It’s been awhile since we’ve had a water bottle post here at Tiny Choices, but some of you may remember that we used to write them fairly often– trying to avoid disposable plastic water bottles meant there was some thought going in to which option worked best for our lifestyles.
Well, I was recently told about a type of water bottle I’d never heard about before– and, talk about being green! Turns out that the traditional way of carrying water in Mexico is in a “Mexican Water Bottle Gourd” (Lagenaria siceraria)!
It’s impossible to get more eco-friendly than these: it’s a gourd. With a corn-cob stopper. And if you want to get fancy, a piece of rope tied onto it as a handle.
So while we debate the merits of stainless steel vs. aluminum vs. glass, and worry over the type of paint used in the pretty design, and whether the bottles are made in the US or China… we could all instead be carrying around these awesome gourd water bottles and call it a day.
If you want to DIY one yourself, you can buy a Mexican water bottle gourd online for about $5 and make your own canteen… and whittle yourself a corncob stopper after a nice homecooked dinner.
[Image by Mixtec.org]
By Karina | January 2, 2012
I drove to Ohio and back again this weekend with my partner and the little dudes to ring in the New Year at Aunt Kate with my partner’s aunts and uncles – and on the way, cruising on Rt 80, there were a few tractor trailers with lots of modifications. I’ve seen many of them before – the gap closures and the trailer skirts – but for the first time we saw a trailer with an added back that narrowed down – to smooth the air as it goes around the trailer and to reduce drag.
All of this got me interested in how, exactly, people were improving the efficiency of these tractor trailers.
Apparently, there are four major places where air drag can slow down these vehicles and waste fuel:
So it makes sense to evaluate some simple fixes to improve the drag. And apparently it’s also a USEPA initiative called SmartWay, which is a program to implement, measure, and track the effectiveness of these options, offer grants, and help to sift through the techologies available.
- Trailer Gap Reducer (should be used with side skirts) – estimated fuel savings 1 percent or greater;
- Trailer Boat Tails (this or the gap reducer should be used with side skirts) — estimated fuel savings 1 percent or greater;
- Trailer Side Skirts (should be used with gap reducer or boat tail) — estimated fuel savings 4 percent or greater;
- Advanced Trailer End Fairing (this can be used with or without other fairings) — estimated fuel savings : 5 percent; and
- Advanced Trailer Skirt (this can be used with or without other fairings) — estimated fuel savings 5 percent.
Some of these fuel efficiencies don’t look like much, but when you consider that over the course of the year, you can save thousands of dollars on fuel costs using these retrofits, it looks a lot better. For the owner-operator of a truck, that might represent profit or needed repair funds where there was little before as they tried to keep up with escalating gas prices. For the fleet owner, that might make the difference between expansion or contraction of their fleet. One manufacturer estimates that the advanced trailer end faring would be paid back in fuel savings in six to twenty-four months.
And you know, even if the environment isn’t the first thing on the minds of the long haul trucker (or fleet owner), moving goods is a necessary in this culture we’ve got, and I’m so excited that these retrofits are available to make this kind of transportation a little greener.
What kind of crazy aerodynamic mods have you seen out there on the road?
By tinychoices | December 31, 2011
This week, take a look around your community and Find your Nature – no, we’re not getting personal here! not YOUR nature. But the nature spot that you have closest to your house. Is there a park you can walk or bicycle to? Is there a small community garden nearby? Do you have a surprise hidden state park that you can go to and hike away the afternoon?
One way to do this easily is to zoom in with Google Maps and use both the map and the aerial photograph to find interesting looking places to investigate.
It’s important to know what kind of great natural resources you have near by because it’s much harder, when you’ve got a hankering for a park, to find something right then and there and head out. If you’ve already got an inventory of awesome spots to go to, it’s a lot easier to get yourself moving to visit and utilize them! Also once you know about them, you’ll be able to volunteer and help out. In the spring there will probably be park clean-up days that you can pitch in at. You’ll get to know your community better, in number of ways.
Do you have natural spaces nearby? Do you get creative in any way?
By Jenn (TinyChoices.com) | December 28, 2011
Something strange has happened in the past few weeks, and it’s so odd that it’s made me take notice. While dining in restaurants (which, as you know, I do an awful lot) and asking for water to drink, I’m brought a bottle of water instead of a glass of tap water. Which is very troubling.
For the past few years it seemed like many restaurants were more amenable to serving customers tap water, even though they make a huge markup on selling bottled water. With all of the environmental pressure against the bottled stuff, I’d noticed that there was less of a hassle getting a plain ol’ glass of water, which I really appreciated.
But now it seems like things may be shifting back to bottled, and I’m wondering why. My first thought is that since more businesses are struggling to stay afloat in this economy, eateries are trying to make extra dollars any way they can– and refusing to serve tap water and only providing bottled water is one sure-fire way to do just that.
And they’re sneaky about it, too! Perhaps knowing that some patrons are anti-bottled, the waiter will bring the bottle to the table and crack it open as they approach, leaving me no time to cry, “No! No bottled water!” And of course there are times I’m incredibly thirsty and need that water, so it’s either bottled or nothing. If I can hold out until after dinner I do, but given my history of dehydration sometimes it’s a little difficult to do.
Of course, when this situation has happened recently I’ve talked to the restaurant managers, telling them the reasons people prefer tap water and the arguments against bottled water. They listen politely and I can only hope I’ve helped them to think about this issue in a way that goes beyond the few extra dollars in their pockets. And it goes without saying that I won’t patronize those restaurants again, and I’ll let the owners know the reason why.
Have you had to make an unexpected eco-decision lately? How’d it go?
[Image by Dottie Mae via Creative Commons]
By tinychoices | December 23, 2011
- The world’s first solar menorah
- Grand Canyon Reconsidering Plastic Water Bottle Ban, Could Be Implemented By Springtime
- Rare Footage of Wildlife in Thailand’s Forests Shows That Anti-Poaching Efforts Work (Video)
- This amazing off-grid hobbit house cost less than $5,000 to build
- Flat-Pack Christmas Tree Made of Corrugated Cardboard is a Keeper
- The Big Apple takes a bite out of childhood obesity
- 10 Fascinating New Species Discovered in 2011
- Building a 3,000 Mile Bike Trail From Maine to Florida
- Google Ends 2011 With a $94 Million Investment in Solar Power
Topics: Happy Eco-News | Comments Off
By Jenn (TinyChoices.com) | December 21, 2011
I’m the luckiest duck around– surf trip for the holidays!
But when it comes to being green, outdoor sports can be a tricky thing. While riding your bike through the woods or hiking along a treeline ridge are close to no-impact activities, all of the bits around the sport itself can sometimes be incredibly impactful.
First, there’s the gear: bikes made in foreign lands, the metal mined to make them, and the shipping involved in getting them to us (not to mention the paints, waxes and plastic bits); clothing made out of “performance fabrics” are mostly made from petroleum, and it turns out, shed microscopic plastic fibers every time you wash them, which end up in the ocean and on beaches (which is one reason Team Tiny Choices advocates wool clothing). And surfing? Petroleum-based sticky wax goes right from my board and into the mouths of fishies.
Then, there’s the arriving: for those lucky enough to live close to their activity of choice their transportation footprint is small, but many of us need to drive (or, worse, fly) to get to the mountain or crag or surf break. So while enjoying the great outdoors is most certainly a green activity itself, as usual, we humans can make it more impactful than it needs to be.
So, how did I make this trip as green as possible?
- Instead of renting a car and driving, I took public transportation to get here. That entailed an overnight bus ride, and then a local city bus to get to my hotel. And since I didn’t have to fly, I managed to avoid the single most polluting part of many vacations.
- I’m hooking up with a group each day, and we all pile in to a large van to drive to the break together. This means fewer cars on the road and less wear and tear on those small winding roads themselves.
- I’m renting a surfboard for the week, instead of buying my own. Since I only generally surf for a total of a few weeks per year, this makes more sense financially and resourcefully. And trying to travel with a longboard would mean large rental cars instead of buses and taxis, so avoiding this is a fairly significant choice.
- I chose a hotel within walking distance of the nearby town, so no taxis needed to get around.
- I am drinking local beer! That counts, right?
Have you taken or planned a trip lately? What considerations did you take to green it up?
« Previous Entries