Earth Day: Go Celebrate!

19 Apr

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Since Earth Day falls on a Tuesday this year, lots of events are happening this weekend.  Tonight I’ll be rocking the part of the Lorax for Yosemite’s Earth Day Family Night. If Yosemite’s Earth Day Events are too long of a commute for you, April made a list of ways to celebrate last year. I’m sure a google search for “Earth Day events” with your location will turn up more opportunities.  Go do something awesome  and be on the lookout for greenwashing.

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~Robin

Earth Day: Foraged Food

18 Apr

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I’m going to start this post with the disclaimer that I approach wild edibles with a very healthy dose of caution. There are a number of plants that look like edibles that are, in fact, highly toxic. For example, in the Marin Headlands fennel grows like a weed. It has a lovely scent and a licorice like flavor, but it looks remarkably similar to hemlock that also grows everywhere and has the slightly problematic property of being used to kill uppity Greek philosophers. Know what you are doing, use a guide that teaches you how to recognize a poisonous look alike, and do not go all Into the Wild on me.

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With that out of the way, foraging for food among the weeds growing around your house is a fun, if slightly challenging way, to go green. Eating hyper-local reduces your carbon footprint by cutting the miles and packaging between farm and plate, and it’s a fun way to get outside and become familiar with your natural surroundings.

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I’m fortunate to have a patch of miner’s lettuce growing only a few feet from my front door. Miner’s lettuce is remarkably similar to spinach in both texture and flavor. Around here the miner’s lettuce grows a little on the small side. I’ve seen it grow three times larger in the Sierra Foothills. Even with my patch’s lilliputian size it took me only a few minutes to harvest enough for a salad, and there was still tons left in the ground. I load my salads with toppings so I tossed on some sliced tomato, sunflower seeds, crumbled goat cheese, olives, and a splash of balsamic vinegar.

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Miner’s lettuce supposedly got it’s name during the California gold rush, when miner’s would eat it for it’s high vitamin C content. The added bonus of eating this foraged food? I am so not gonna get scurvy.

~Robin

Earth Day: Go Camp

18 Apr

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Yesterday Robin called asking me to put up a post since she was heading into the wilderness. I quickly agreed to switch days since I’m heading out to camp today.  Of course I proceeded to immediately forget our pact as I gathered up my camp gear and then sat on the couch and watched a movie instead.

Our camping plans did remind me that this weekend is the start of National Parks Week. And on April 19 & 20 you’ll get free entry into the parks.

Join Robin and I in celebrating National Parks Week, getting outdoors and shirking obligations. You won’t regret it.

~April

Earth Day: UGH!

16 Apr

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From the department of “You’re Totally Missing the Point” comes this gem:

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Cinemark, a fine paragon of film, but not so much of environmentalism, delivered this to me as my weekly coupon today. Putting aside the fact that $2 off a bottle of water when there are water fountains in the lobby is considered a deal, offering a discount on bottled water for Earth Day is equivalent to free bacon on Passover.  Lots of stores will be running Earth Day promotions this year, but it’s important to judge whether or not they’re really earth friendly.  Is owning another reusable bag all that green when you already have 42 languishing in your back seat?  Probably not.  It’s fine to take advantage of deals that you’re going to use, but before you jump on an Earth Day deal, think about it for a second. That will certainly be longer than Cinemark considered this partnership.

~April

P.S. This coupon is only good once so if you try and use it and it doesn’t work we’ll all know someone else missed the point.

Earth Day: Buying in Bulk

15 Apr

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I have a confession to make: It took me a long time to understand the appeal of buying in bulk. Buying in bulk conjured up memories of shopping with my family at whole sale stores as a child, where the food was highly processed, poor in quality, and didn’t necessarily scale down the packaging. Plus, I usually got sick of eating the food long before we made a dent in our supply of it. Even when I saw more appealing food being sold in bulk I still didn’t get it. If I was still pouring my bulk items into a bag to take home, I wasn’t reducing the amount of plastic packaging in the world, so why bother?

I’m too embarrassed to reveal exactly how long it was before I had this simple revelation that changed my whole outlook. What I finally realized was this: You can bring your own container to the store to buy bulk products. It’s glaringly obvious, but I admit that I felt a bit like Archimedes springing from the bathtub shouting “Eureka!” when I finally got it.

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Now I buy a lot of stuff in bulk. I show up at the store armed with a variety of bags and reusable containers. The only hassle of buying in bulk is that you have to go to the register first to have them tare your containers. They weigh the containers, and when you pay they subtract that weight so you only pay for the actual weight of what you are buying.

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I’m lucky to have a fantastic store near me that carries a lot of bulk items including soap, shampoos, and conditioners. You can also find a number of bulk items at Whole Foods. A simple google search for “bulk grocery” and your location will likely turn up a few options. And of course there’s an app for that.

I like buying in bulk simply because it reduces the amount of plastic packaging floating around in the world, but it can sometimes (not always) be a money saver as well.

Happy shopping!

~Robin

Earth Day: Every Last Drop

14 Apr

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Arthur C Clarke said that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.  While this usually conjures up images of Google Glass, sophisticated AIs and (in my dreams) teleportation, sometimes I see an amazingly-designed website and think the same thing.  That’s the case for Every Last Drop, a UK website aimed at bringing awareness to water usage.  Not only is it informative, it’s also beautiful, and that makes it effective.  I’m not a coder by any means and so it’s probably not surprising I think this level of computer skill is magical.  I challenge anyone not to be a little impressed at the whimsy this site offers though.

Make sure you check out the website for the full effect, but for a little more info and some simple Earth Day water-saving tips, enjoy their video as well.

Every Last Drop – How to Save Water Film from Nice and Serious on Vimeo.

~April

Earth Day: Weekend Images

13 Apr

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If April can post pictures on the weekends then so can I!

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Especially because this is what the Merced River Canyon looks like right now. I love you all but I have better things to be doing than sitting inside chained to my computer on a day like this. The orange glow that looks (as my roommate Kelsey so eloquently put it) like Cheeto dust, are poppies in bloom!

~Robin

Earth Day: Weekend Images

12 Apr

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Caterpillar (I think it might be a Garden Tiger Moth?) at Irvine Regional Park

~April

Earth Day: T-Shirt Bag

11 Apr

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Several years ago I decided that I wanted to start using reusable grocery bags and bought a bunch of crappy plastic reusable bags at the grocery store. Sadly, it wasn’t until these poorly made bags started falling apart that I realized they were unrecyclable and another piece of plastic that would eventually end up in a landfill. It was then that started understanding the value of cloth grocery bags.

Much later I was given an enormous box of t-shirts and asked to do something useful and creative with them. After a few minutes of puzzling over them I had a flash of genius.

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I sewed the shirt together at it’s bottom hem, cut off the collar and sleeves and within a few minutes I had a reusable cloth grocery bag.

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I was pretty proud of myself until I showed it to a crafty friend who looked only marginally impressed and said “Oh cool. A t-shirt bag.” Sure enough I googled it and found about a billion tutorials.

So I just wanted y’all to know that me and a bunch of people on the internet are all creative geniuses. If you have any unwearable t-shirts floating around this is a quick and easy way to reuse them.

~Robin

Earth Day: AmazonSmile

10 Apr

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If you’ve logged into Amazon lately, you may have seen a little pop up that allows you to link your account to a charity. The program is called AmazonSmile and you can choose from millions of charities to support, everything from the super local to global giants. After you choose a charity, Amazon will donate .5% (I know, a bundle) of your eligible purchases to your charity of choice. You just have to remember to go to smile.amazon.com instead of the regular Amazon start page. Then, you’ll see a note near the price telling you whether an item is eligible or not.  You can change your charity whenever you choose.

To put things in perspective, at .5% you’d have to spend $20,000 to donate $100 to your charity. Even with my thousands of dollars of work purchases every year, I still can’t hit that benchmark. Still, even a little bit can help. It’s probably more impactful to choose a larger charity that a lot of other people will donate to than to give a few bucks to a local charity. You’re better off just donating the money outright.  It’s better to donate something than nothing at all though and if enough people take advantage of the opportunity, a lot of charities will benefit.

In honor of Earth Day, consider a charity that protects our natural resources. Some great ones are NatureBridge, The National Park Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, The Appalachian Trail Conservancy or The Sierra Club. Thousands of other environmental charities are available, so pick your cause and use your Amazon addiction for good.

~ April

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