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Earth Day: 2014 Earth Day Index

30 Apr

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For being reluctant to commit to another 30 Days of Earth Day, I think this year’s series has been very successful.  At the end of last year’s festivities I published the Earth Day Index which includes all the links we shared during Earth Month.  I really didn’t expect to add much research this year since our whole theme was Keep It Simple, but it turns out that we added a bunch of new resources and I think it’s time to update the index.  Below are all the links from last year’s index with new links from this year added.

If you’re reading this on the day it’s published, I’m on a plane right now to Ohio to spend time with friends and family.  I’m so excited and it feels completely appropriate to be finishing this series as I focus on working on another big project.  The other thing about our month of Earth Day series is that I’m excited about blogging again.  I’m going on some great trips this year and have lots of projects going so I hope to share those with you in between my blocks of traveling.

I hope you enjoyed our 2nd Annual 30 Days of Earth Day.  You can see all our Earth Day posts here.  Stick around Without a Map for great content all year and looks like we’ll probably do this again in 2015.

~ April

The Earth Day Index (updated for 2014)

Ways to Go Green
Some pieces of gym equipment are more eco-friendly than others (2014)
Good for your buns, good for the environment (2014)
Green gyms focus on high-power workouts, low-power usage (2014)
Click Clean (2014)
How to Save Energy by Eliminating Phantom Loads
How Smart Power Strips Work
10 Ways to Go Green and Save Green
Saving Money by Going Green
Xeriscape
Earth Friendly Tips for a Lush Lawn
19 Easy Home Winterization Projects
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2 Household Appliances You Should Unplug to Save You Money
How to Turn Down Your Hot Water Heater
10 Tips for the Thermostat
Pledge an Act of Green
Audit Your Home’s Energy Usage

Going Green in the Kitchen
How to Go Green: In the Kitchen
8 Ways to Go ‘Green’ in Your Kitchen
Go Green in the Kitchen
5 Simple Kitchen Composting Tips
Refrigerators: Cooling Down Your Electric Bill

Going Green in the Laundry Room
A Clothesline will Save Big Money, Energy and Carbon Emissions
8 Trips for a Green Laundry
Washing Machine Water Usage
Chronic Over-Washer?
Go Green in the Laundry Room
Green Laundry Tips
How to Go Green: Laundry

Going Green in the Bathroom
Navy Showers
The Great Unwashed
How to Convert Any Toilet to a Low Flush Toilet
If It’s Yellow, Let It Mellow
Replace Your Kitchen and Bathroom Faucets
10 Ways to Green Your Bathroom
How to Go Green: In the Bathroom

Going Green on the Go
Take a hike: the benefits of outdoor activity (2014)
The great outdoors: how a green exercise environment can benefit all (2014)
How to Ditch Your Car and Bike Everywhere
How to Start a Carpool
Save Gas, Money, and the Environment with Properly Inflated Tires
Public Transportation Benefits
Environmental Benefits of Bicycling

Water
Every Last Drop (2014)
Drip Irrigation vs. a Soaker Hose (2014)
How to fix a leaky outdoor faucet (2014)
National Geographic Water Footprint Calculator
Grace Water Footprint Calculator
Kemira Water Footprint Calculator
Of Farms, Folks, and Fish
California’s Water-Energy Relationship
Water-related Energy Use in California
A New Plan to Fix California Water System
Greywater
How to Check for Water Leaks
Fixing Leaks Around the Home
Earth-Friendly Water Saving Tips

Reduce, Recycle, Reuse
Cheat Neutral (2014)
How Recycling Bias Affects What You Toss Where (2014)
Terracycle
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Revisited
Online Catalogs
Paper Karma (app)
How to Dispose of CFLs
How to Make a Party Box
Paper, Plastic, or Something Better?
1-800-Recycling
Council for Textile Recycling

The Planet, Nature, And Us
The Cosmos TV Series (2014)
Environmental Health (2014)
The Economic Impact of Climate Change
The Environmental Justice Movement
Almost Everything You Need to Know About Environmental Justice
Race and Poverty Matter, Even on Earth Day
Environmental Justice Organizations
Greenbelt Movement
Give Us National Parks, But Please, Not Its Regulations
Diversity in the Outdoors
We’re Rich! (In Nature)
National Wildlife Federation
Outside Mom
National Get Outdoors Day
National Park Foundation
Trust for Public Land
Nature Deficit Disorder
National Park Service Volunteer Page
Plant a Tree
Benefits of Parks
Health Benefits of the Natural World

Food
On Miner’s Lettuce: America’s Gift to Salad (2014)
Starter Vegetable Gardens (2014)
Environmental Benefits of Organic and Local Food
Local Harvest CSA Locator
5 Reasons Not to Drink Bottled Water
Cannery Launches a CSA for Seafood
Community Supported Agriculture for Meat and Eggs
Smoky Tomato and Lentil Soup
Seafood Watch Ocean Issues
Unhappy Meals – Michael Pollan
Organic vs. Pesticides
The Carbon Footprint of Food

Interactive Education
Without a Map’s Earth Day YouTube Playlist
OpenYale Courses
Harvard Open Courses
webcast.Berkeley
MIT Open Courseware
Udacity
Edx
Open Education Database
Intro to Environmental Science
iTunes U
Coursera
TED Talks: Environment
Good Dirt (podcast)
Living on Earth (podcast)
NPR Environment Podcast
NPR: Climate Connections Podcast
Monster Talk (podcast)
Slate’s Table to Farm (podcast)
Radiolab (podcast)

DIY
Clever reuse ideas for plastic bread tags (2014)
Bread Clip Monster Garland (2014)
Upcycled Bread Clip Picture Frame (our most popular Earth Day 2014 post)
T-Shirt Bag (2014)
Bottle Cap Magnets (2014)
Big Box Detox
How To Make Plarn
T-Shirt Surgery
Upcycling on Craftster
Upcycling on Pinterest
Rolled Kitchen Towels Tutorial
Green Crafting Round-up
20+ Unique Bird Feeders
How to Make Hypoallergenic Laundry Detergent
Tipnut

Buying Green
AmazonSmile (2014)
What’s the Scoop on Bulk Foods? (2014)
Zero Waste Home (2014)
Upcycling Becomes a Treasure Trove for Green Business Ideas
Good Guide
Save the Environment with Thrift Shopping
Alternative Reuseable Menstrual Products
Online Shopping: Better for the Environment?
Better World Shopper
How to Shop Green

Green Products & Companies We Mentioned
High Country Health Foods (2014)
Eel River Brewing (2014)
Pizza Port (2014)
Bear Republic (2014)
Great Lakes Brewing Company (2014)
Stone Brewing (2014)
Alchemy Goods
Klean Kanteen
Platypus Bottle
Bobble Bottles
Silpat
Energy STAR Qualified Products
Go Glass
Contigo Autoseal Mugs
Ecologix Daily Planner
Glad Rags
Diva Cup
Energy STAR Light Bulbs 
Soap Nuts
Folding Laundry Rack

And Some Other Fun Stuff…
Cloud Computing’s Hidden Green Benefits (2014)
Energy Efficiency Potential of Cloud-Based Software (2014)
Searching the Planet to Find Power for the Cloud (2014)
Eco-Chick
Geocaching
If Your Kids Are Awake, They’re Probably Online
Earth Day Events
I=PAT
Captain Planet
Where Does a Mother’s Time Go?
The Future of Leisure that Never Arrived
5 Marketing Lessons from the Bottled Water Industry

Earth Day: More Reasons to Drink Craft Beer

28 Apr

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I’ve already extolled the virtues (both green and tasty) of craft beer, but now that you’ve been trying a variety of eco-friendly brews you may have built up a collection of bottle caps. Even if you don’t drink beer at all, you can always find cool root beer or pop bottle tops instead. I had been hoarding collecting bottle caps for year before I finally decided to do something with them.

At craft stores you can usually find small circular magnets. You want to try to find the thickest ones. The edges of the bottle cap will probably be deeper than the width of the magnet anyway. When attaching them to your bottle caps you have at least two options. You can pound out the cap a little so the edges are flatter and your magnet pokes out beyond their depth.

I chose the other option which involves a two-step gluing process. We cut small discs out of a dowel rod that were smaller in diameter than the bottle cap. First, you glue the wooden disc to the back of the bottle cap and then glue the magnet to the disc.

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Here I should put a note on glue. I used an e6000 glue for all my gluing, but there’s probably a better option. It’s been months since this product and about 70% of my magnets are in working order. A stronger glue or gluing system probably would have helped. Next time I’ll visit this site for other options.

Here’s the finished collection! This is a great simple project to reuse a material you’d otherwise throw away and to show off the cool artwork that many of these bottle caps boast. Now I just need to figure out what to do with all the bottles…

~April

Earth Day: Weekend Images

26 Apr

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Chipmunk in Bristlecone Pines

~April

Earth Day: Please Drink Responsibly

24 Apr

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You know how some people get all snobby about wine?  I’m not one of those people.  I know I like dark, dry reds, but whether it’s from Sonoma County or Trader Joe’s, I don’t really care.  When you start talking about beer, it’s a different matter.  I’m pretty sure I have a certain expression reserved solely for when I see someone drinking Coors Light.  And a different one for Budweiser.  I have been known to snub a restaurant simply because it doesn’t meet my beverage requirements.   I can give you an informed opinion on no less than four IPAs brewed with habañeros.  I’m a beer snob.

People who shop, and drink, locally tend to be environmentally minded so it’s no surprise that craft brewers are committed to sustainability.  Balancing the focus on green beers versus good beers can be tricky.  I’ve had my share of beers that I chose because of their environmentally focused label only to be disappointed by the taste, but there definitely doesn’t have to be a conflict.  Many eco-friendly beers don’t put that front and center on their label.   Here are a few of my favorites.

Stone Brewing: Stone is one of the most recognizable names in craft beer.  Before I knew what craft beer was, I knew about their famous Arrogant Bastard Ale.  If you’ve visited Stone’s brewery, you know it not only has amazing beer, it’s also a fantastic place to enjoy an afternoon.  Their sprawling gardens are undoubtably beautiful, but it turns out they’re also sustainable.  With the use of native plants, salvaged materials and onsite food production, they’re able to green their brewery while still creating a peaceful retreat.
Beer of Choice: Enjoy By

Great Lakes Brewing: If you live in Ohio, you know that come December everyone becomes a craft beer aficionado with the release of their Christmas Ale.  You probably also know about the Burning River Fest, an event using the famous Cuyahoga River fire to raise awareness for water quality today.  Great Lakes Brewing supports the event by releasing some of that delicious Christmas Ale from their stores.  Outside of major shindigs, the food for their brewpub is grown at a local organic farm.  They’re also committed to recycling everything from the usual suspects to brewery grain and unsellable beer.
Beer of Choice: Christmas Ale (sorry to be so typical…)

Bear Republic: Whenever I want a good, standard IPA that I know is pretty easy to find, I’ll turn to Bear Republic’s Racer 5 (or Racer X or Racer 15, etc.).  I was happy to discover that one of my favorite beers is doing its part for the environment.  Earlier this year, the brewery installed a system that reuses waste water for power and water needs.  Breweries can use up to 10 times the amount of water for beer produced, so this system will help reduce its impact on an already drought-stricken area.  They are also helping to fund wells for their county.
Beer of Choice: Racer 5

Pizza Port: When I think of pizza these days, I want nothing more than to finish an entire medium by myself from Pizza Port.  Not only are both their in-house and guest beers to die for, their pizza is nectar of the gods.  I cannot wait until they finally decide to build one closer than a half hour away.  Okay, I’m done drooling on my keyboard.  Some of their facilities are powered at least partially by solar panels.  They even have programs to teach their community about the benefits of solar energy.
Beer of Choice: Doctor Brew (if only for the name and TARDIS next to it)

earththirst

Eel River: Right after I told Robin I wanted to d a post on green beers, I went to Total Wine and found a beer called Earth Thirst.  I took it as a sign from the gods that I should drink it.  While it falls under the eco-label category, it is also a pretty good double IPA.  Their brewery was the first certified organic brewery in the US and they follow environmentally friendly practices like reusing spent grain and pre-treating their waste water.  They also source 95% of their hops from within a few hundred miles.
Beer of Choice: Earth Thirst is the only one I’ve tried, but it’s recommended

These are only a few of the hundreds of eco-minded breweries out there.  Take a look at your favorite brew and you’ll probably be surprised at their practices.

~ April

Earth Day: In the Cloud

22 Apr

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Yesterday I heard a story on NPR about cloud computing.  I’m a big fan of keeping documents on the cloud.  I use a lot of different computers and I like to be able to access my data from any of them.  I use Evernote, Google Drive, Box, Dropbox, Flickr and iCloud and that’s not including things like email, social media, and, yes, WordPress.  I knew about the security concerns of these services, but the NPR story was the first time that I heard anything about the environmental impact of cloud computing.

Searching the Planet to Find Power for the Cloud

If you don’t have time to listen to the four-minute story, the gist is that powering one cloud storage facility uses enough energy to power 57,000 homes.  They use millions of computer servers that all need to be constantly cooled by air conditioning.  Facebook actually has a data center near the Arctic Circle so that they can naturally cool their servers.  Apple, Box and Google run their clouds on renewable energies.

Greenpeace is one of the environmental organizations with initiatives to green the cloud.  Their Clean Our Cloud program spotlights companies using green technologies and lobbies for changes in those that don’t (they’re looking at you Microsoft,  Amazon, and, sadly, Pinterest).

After hearing the story, cloud computing seems pretty wasteful, but compared to the alternative it actually cuts energy consumption by up to 87%.  This makes sense when you take into consideration that, like buying in bulk, it’s often easier to streamline energy savings in a fewer large-scale operation rather than in numerous inefficient personal setups.

Many of the studies I found were commissioned by providers of cloud services, so they can only be trusted so far.  They’re trying to acquire cloud customers so these studies intend to negate the impact of data center energy consumption.  I wouldn’t put my money on the exact percentages they report, but the general principles are sound.  I think as wasteful as cloud services seem now, they will become more efficient and greener fairly quickly.  With just financial incentives, companies will be motivated to make more efficient data centers as time passes.  Even if environmental improvements are just a side effect of their cost-saving measures, the benefit still stands.  An article in Forbes also points out the impact that e-commerce in general has had on the environment, citing the rise of telecommuting, online purchasing and the decrease in brick and mortar stores and paper use as benefits of the move to the online economy.

I think that the move toward cloud-based services is a positive direction, but the implications of that still need to be studied and improved.  As  individuals, there isn’t much we can do to improve the efficiency of data centers.  I would suggest using companies that take advantage of renewable resources and demonstrate responsible environmental practices.  You can see a list of the good and bad companies as well as guides for calling them out on social media at Greenpeace’s Click Clean website.

~April

Earth Day: Weekend Images

20 Apr

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Itsy Bitsy Spider
Spider at the Austin Botanical Garden

Happy Easter Everyone!

~April

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:

dasani
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: 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

12 Apr

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

~April

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