Earth Day: Weekend Images

13 Apr

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


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!


Earth Day: Weekend Images

12 Apr

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


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.


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.


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.


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 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

Earth Day: Upcycled Bread Clip Picture Frame

9 Apr

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When we our Earth Day celebration last year I was determined to start doing more upcylcled crafts. I laid out the challenge of the Destash Bash with that in mind, but I kinda slacked on that part. Actually I’ve been slacking in the crafting department for awhile now. Once again, Earth Day gave me the inspiration to give it another go.

I started by asking my friends to collect these things for me.


Some call them bread tags, others call them bread clips, I call them the bane of my existence. I hate these things. They drive me crazy because I find them on trails in Yosemite all the time. They’re plastic so they aren’t going to decompose during this century, and I have yet to find a place that recycles them. What’s more they seem so stupidly unnecessary. I would prefer to see bread sealed for shipping with a paper based tape. I think we’re all smart enough to figure out how to close our bread bags without a one-time use piece of plastic.

I have come across a few clever ways to reuse them on the internet. Lindsay at Diary of Crafty Lady turned them into a totally adorable Monster Garland. There are a few more ideas here.

I decided to use them to brighten up one of these picture frames I scored off a dumpster.


A portion of my bread clip collection was found on the ground so I swished the whole jar in soapy water to clean them off. To dry them I spread them out on a towel in the sun.


I used my dullest pair of craft scissors to cut them into strips and shapes.


I glued the pieces on mosaic style with School Glue. At first I was a bit worried that the glue wouldn’t hold the plastic, but as long as the pieces were flat they seem to stick to the frame pretty well. I also don’t expect a picture frame to experience a lot of rough handling so I’m not too worried about wear and tear.


I gave it a few extra coats with Mod Podge just to be sure and added a picture of Grace and I rocking the camouflage at Spring Valley. All in all I only used a small handful from the jar of clips. It may not make much of a dent in the truckloads of these things in our landfills but at least it’s something. I was able to complete the project without having to buy new materials. Score!



Earth Day: Exercise and the Environment

8 Apr

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Since I started blogging again, I’ve really wanted to talk about exercise.  In July last year I had reached my highest weight, went up a size in pants and was just feeling all around blah.  Something inside me woke up and I managed to stop eating bags of chips for dinner and replacing that with whole foods as often as possible.  After I dropped a few pounds, my friends joined a gym and I reluctantly agreed.  I’d never done any sort of exercise program before.  The last physical activity I did regularly was marching band.  When we ran the mile in high school I think I topped 20 minutes.  And I can walk a mile in 20 minutes.  I was intimidated and suspicious, but peer pressure is a great motivator so I went.  When I didn’t throw up or pass out my first visit, I started to think I might be able to do this and here I am a few months later (and 20 pounds lighter), with a regular gym and running routine that isn’t motivated by peer pressure at all.

When our Earth Day month started, I thought that there has to be some way I can connect the environment and living healthfully.  Aside from diet, which is intimately connected to the earth and our food system, I think certain kinds of exercise can inspire and support a love of the earth as well.  Not long after I started strength training, I went for a hike.  I was amazed that unlike previous expeditions, I was able to keep a steady pace without getting too out of breath.  That’s when I first realized that the work I was doing indoors was going to improve my enjoyment outdoors.  Bonus number one!

While I do a lot of my strength training indoors, studies show that working out en plein air is a double dose of endorphins.  Not only do you get the benefits of being active, you also get a little cure for your nature deficit disorder.  I’ve been running outdoors twice a week lately (I’ve come to be a treadmill hater) and there is nothing that can pull me out of a morning funk more than turning a corner and seeing the ocean.    According to the same study listed above, working out outdoors also boosts performance and makes the exercise seem easier.  It doesn’t take a lot either.  Even five minutes of working out in a natural environment has an impact on mood, self-esteem and creativity.

Sure there are tons of personal benefits to getting outdoors and being active, but what about benefits for Mother Earth?  Here are some ways that getting in shape can help the planet.

  • Walking, biking or running to work or to run errands instead of driving saves gas.
  • Running outdoors as opposed to on a treadmill saves two pounds of CO2 per 30 minute workout. (source)
  • A growing number of “green gyms” promote environmental responsibility by generating energy and using refurbished equipment.  My favorite quote from this article is, “If we’re enabling people to be good stewards of their own bodies, it seems like the natural progression of that is to also be good stewards of the environment.”
  • If you do work out indoors, choose the elliptical or stationary bike (or better yet, weights) over the treadmill.  They consume far less energy.  (source)
  • If you’re concerned about your health, you should be concerned about the environment.  Many environmental factors affect our bodies.  By being more environmentally responsible, you’ll be improving your health and the health of those around you.


Earth Day: Recycling Bias

7 Apr

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This Earth Day nugget came from our favorite commenter, Mara.

National Public Radio: How Recycling Bias Affects What You Toss Where

The short version is that Boston University Marketing Professor Remi Trudel found that volunteers were more likely to toss paper into the trash can if it was torn or crumpled up. They also found that cans were more likely to wind up in the garbage if they were dented. He credits the perceived usefulness of the recyclable item as a bias factor when we sort our recycling. Once we become aware of the bias, it takes less than a few seconds to correct the error.

Happy sorting!


Earth Day: Weekend Images

6 Apr

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To keep life simple, every weekend day that I have a post, I’m just going to share a picture that reminds me why our planet is so darn cool.

The Devil’s Backbone on Mount Baldy.


Earth Day: Cheat Neutral

5 Apr

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This brilliant video from Cheat Neutral is a clever criticism of carbon offsetting. When I first saw it a few years ago it made me totally rethink the entire concept. Fair Warning: At the very end there is a tiny bit of language that may make this not safe for work (or kids.) April, cover your ears.

Have you ever bought carbon offsets? Did this make you change your mind? What do you think?


Earth Day: @ Your Library

4 Apr

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Since I suggested a television show last time, I want to round that off by directing you toward some literature.  There’s nothing greener, when it comes to reading, than using your library.  Sharing resources is key to the “Reduce” part of the equation and the whole point of libraries is to facilitate that.  If you love print books you probably already use your public library for that, but I’m a convert (well, 90% of one anyway) to ebooks.  Last year, I shared some services you may not know your library has, but I’m going to repeat one of them here.

If you’re looking for a way to quickly amp up your knowledge on the environment, I’d give your local library a try.  While every library will offer different books, here are a couple the Los Angeles Public Library has that I’m considering looking into this month.  You can get some of these books as audio versions, which is how I’ll be getting my green reading.  Print is being saved for Game of Thrones this month.

Invisible Nature by Kenneth Worthy – This book takes into consideration that most people do want to protect the environment, but also want all the conveniences of modern life.  Worthy puts the lifecycle of products into perspective by showing how our choices affect the environment.

The Last Great Sea by Terry GlavinThe North Pacific Ocean is the largest fishery in the world and integral to the survival of many species, including our own.  Covering science, anthropology and history, Glavin delves into the reasons this portion of the world is so fascinating.

The Nature Principle by Terry Louv – By now I hope you’ve read Louv’s Last Child in the Woods which introduced “nature deficit disorder”.  The Nature Principle details ways our society can continue to live more closely with nature.

Travels in Alaska by John Muir - Since I’ll be traveling to Alaska for the first time this year, I’m trying to find something as amazing as Sarah Vowell’s Unfamiliar Fishes, which I read when I went to Hawaii.  I didn’t know John Muir had a lot to do with Alaska and considering he’s such a superstar, I can’t wait to hear his reflections.

The Elegant Universe by Brian Greene – String theory, The Big Bang, black holes… yeah, I totally understand that stuff.  According to the reviews, this book might at least get me started.  And if I love it there’s his books on parallel universes (The Hidden Reality) and the one on the nature of time and reality (The Fabric of the Cosmos).  That should keep me busy.

Search your library’s catalog for words like “environment”, “nature”, or “climate change”.  You can also try browsing the menu under nonfiction and looking at science, nature or sociology.




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