Sierra EcoSummit

23 Jun

Over the weekend I headed to Groveland for the Sierra EcoSummit in Groveland. It was lovely. It was held at the Mountain Sage, which is a delightfully eclectic mix of coffee shop, nursery, concert venue, art gallery, and market. The summit hosted a number of workshops, and while I wasn’t able to attend all of them, the ones that I went to were fantastic and inspiring. This genius cob sculpture by Misha Rauchwerger also serves as a rain barrel. I had a ton of fun playing in the mud at his cob workshop.

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Most of my drive to Groveland, took me through areas burned during the Rim Fire last August. The Rim Fire was mostly on the edge of my little world in Yosemite. While I’ve definitely felt a few impacts from it, going through a big chunk of the burned area, and then talking to people from a community that was deeply impacted by it, has widened my perspective substantially. I’ve spent a lot of the past few days thinking about forest fires and learning about them, and I’m planning to write more about them in the near future.

Until then enjoy this blurry picture of a llama. At a sound check.

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~Robin

P.S. The sound check was for The Little Fuller Band, and The Good Luck Thrift Store Outfit.

25 lbs.

14 Jun

Jackie: When you go to the grocery store can you get some carrots for juicing?

Me: Sure. How much should I get?

Jackie: Get the giant bag.

Me: The giant bag?

Jackie: yeah.

Me: The really big one? The one that’s like….I don’t know, fifteen pounds?

Jackie: Yeah, that one.

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So apparently, I suck at estimating the weight of giant bags of carrots, Jackie grossly underestimated the quantity of carrots available at our grocery store, and we both need to work on our communication skills.

~Robin

Photo Adventure: Winter Backpacking (In May)

6 Jun

I should have known better.

We were getting ready for a backpacking trip, the weather was beautiful as we packed our gear; not too hot, not a cloud in the sky. And then I said the stupidest thing possible.

“It’s May. How bad could the weather possibly be?”

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Three days of every form of precipitation and chilling dampness you can imagine. It snowed on us. It hailed on us. It rained on us. There was lightning. We even got fogged in.

And yet, through all of the heinous weather, I had a great time. The company was first rate. There were ZERO complaints, and they didn’t rise up as one and hang me by my ankles from a tree for tempting fate.

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It even cleared up for us just the tiniest bit. (As we were hiking out.)

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Two days later I was sweating in 93 degree heat.

~Robin

Not What I Was Expecting Purse

3 Jun

Sometimes things just don’t go the way you planned.

Yesterday I pulled out my sewing machine out with a project in mind. Years ago my mom made a purse out of an old pair of pants. I wanted to make my own version and create a tutorial based off of April’s round bottom bag tutorial. I had an old ripped pair of black work pants set aside for the project and some cute fabric scraps tucked away for an appliqued planet earth embellishment.

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This is how the finished purse turned out. Aside from still being a purse made from pants it looks absolutely nothing like what I envisioned, but I freaking love it.

Sometimes things just don’t go the way you planned and turn out FANTASTIC!

~Robin

P.S. Sorry, I didn’t make a tutorial either.

Photo Adventure: Yay! Mountains!

26 May

I’m not even going to attempt to string all of these photos together in a logical way. Sometimes life is just crazy, chaotic, and awesome, especially when it is full of mountains.

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Eastern Sierra near Mammoth Hotsprings

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White Mountains over Hot Creek

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Mystery flower. My best guess is Dessert Peach

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Dike and Cathedral

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Glacial Erratic and Cathedral

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Western White Pine or Foxtail Pine. I can’t decide which.

I’m 0 for 2 on this plant ID thing.

~Robin

Photo Adventure: Ribbon Falls

17 May

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I will never get tired of this spot.

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Paint Brush

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From the Ampitheater

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Love this

~Robin

Earth Day: 2014 Earth Day Index

30 Apr

Earth Day Banner

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: The Carbon Diaries

30 Apr

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I started reading The Carbon Diaries 2015 by Saci Lloyd as part of a work project but I was totally fascinated by the concept. The story is set in London in 2015 where, following a catastrophic hurricane, the government has started carbon rationing. In her diary sixteen-year-old Laura Brown writes about how her family and friends cope with this new way of life, against a back drop of climate related natural catastrophes and social upheaval.

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The thing that really hooked me in this book was seeing how the reduction in carbon emissions impacted Laura and her family’s day to day lives. I started to wonder what it would look like if I had to cut my carbon emissions down to 40% of the national average. How dramatically would my life change?

To help me answer this question I turned to a few carbon footprint calculators:

Carbon Footprint Calculator

Cool Climate Calculator

EPA Household Carbon Footprint Calculator

Nature Conservancy Carbon Footprint Calculator

As I learned last year when I looked at water footprint calculators, none of these calculators are perfect. They all use slightly different methods and questions to assess and calculate carbon emissions, and some may work better for your situation than others. I try to compensate for this by averaging my results from several different calculators. I also found that the carbon footprint calculators were a little bit more data heavy than the water footprint calculators. I had some difficulty using them because I didn’t have information about my utilities, and milage for every car in my household handy. And none of the calculators I looked at could really account for the fact that I carpool pretty regularly, or that my house has solar panels and solar heating.

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Even though my carbon emissions are already lower than average, a 60% cut would still have a pretty big impact on me. It would mean that trips to visit my family in Ohio would be a thing of the past. I would need to rely on public transportation more often than driving or carpooling to work. I even wonder if this blog would continue to exist in this world. Thinking about it this way puts into perspective how truly tough it is for the characters in the book, and why they act so put-upon by the whole rationing system.

Although a sudden 60% cut in carbon emissions doesn’t seem very likely, there are parts of this book that feel eerily realistic. Tradable Energy Quotas, Cap and Trade, and Carbon Taxes are all real world specimens similar to the book’s carbon ration system. It’s not hard to imagine the protests and riots that erupt in Laura’s world, or the droughts, snowstorms, and Katrina scale floods. And while I wasn’t captivated by Laura’s love life, there was something very real about the way she carries on obsessing over the boy next door as the world is falling apart around her.

I’m still plotting to get my hands on a copy of The Carbon Diaries 2017. In the meantime I’m wondering: What do you think your life would be like with carbon rations?

~Robin

Earth Day: More Reasons to Drink Craft Beer

28 Apr

Earth Day Banner

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: Literary Irrigation

27 Apr

Earth Day Banner

I started to write a long winded step by step explanation of the irrigation system I rigged in my garden to save water during this years drought, but the draft was long, dense, and unforgivably boring. Then I remembered Greg Johnson’s clever treatment of the IPCC assessment report that I posted earlier this month. I like this version better.

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could a veggie patch
planted in a drought be green?
neighbors said “DO IT!”

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“sprinklers waste water
but behold the wonder of…..
drip irrigation.”

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into the unknown
some method, mostly madness,
learn from my mistakes.

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a leaky faucet
nearly killed the project dead,
YouTube saved the day.

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a tough decision,
to buy soaker hose or drip?
ease trumps efficient.

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garden hose costly
numerous short lengths needed
new fave: hose couplings.

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take beat up old hose,
cut out crappy part with knife,
screw on new fitting.

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a highway of hose
takes water to the soakers
nestled in their beds

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stop leaks at the joints
gaskets are your new best friends
also, rubber bands.

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water earlier
to slow evaporation
early mornings best….

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Not. Gonna. Happen.
I’m not a morning person.
I bought a timer.

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mulch over soakers
traps in water and cools soil,
reuse paper bags!

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one last mulch layer
looks good, keeps paper in place
but cheap mulch stains hands

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sit down in the shade
survey your accomplishment
sip refreshing drink

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In conclusion, this project was challenging for me. I had to learn a lot of new skills, and use quite a bit of trial and error, to make the whole thing come together. Even though I had to buy new soaker hoses I’m proud that I still found ways to repair, repurpose, and reuse other stuff. I was particularly pleased when I successfully MacGyvered a rubber band into a gasket to fix a broken soaker hose coupling. No wonder that dude had so much swagger.

~Robin

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