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!

~Robin

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.

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The Devil’s Backbone on Mount Baldy.

~April

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?

~Robin

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.

~April

 

Earth Day: Climate Change Art

3 Apr

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I don’t know about you, but Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Assessment Reports do not sound like my idea of an easy read. Fortunately, Greg Johnson, a scientist involved in compiling the Fifth Assessment Report took the 2,000 page document and interpreted it with watercolor and haiku. The 19 picture series contains a powerful message about the realities of a warming climate.

You can find more information about it here.

~Robin

Earth Day: The Big Picture

2 Apr

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In honor of keeping Earth Day/Month/Extravaganza simple, I wanted to start out with a topic that takes as little effort as humanly possible.  I’m going to suggest that you take on the momentous task of watching a television show.

I’m sure you’ve heard of Cosmos.  It’s the reboot of a series that originally aired in 1980 with Carl Sagan.  This time around it’s hosted by science superstar Neil Degrasse Tyson.  Four of the episodes have already aired, but there are still 9 to go… more than enough to get you through April.  If you haven’t watched it yet, you can see past episodes on their website.  I haven’t seen the original series, so I’m just going to comment on the new one.

The series is written for a broad audience, so you could probably show it to a twelve-year-old and they’d have no problem following it.  In fact, Neil Degrasse Tyson kind of reminds me of an interplanetary Miss Frizzle with his soothing voice and “Ship of the Imagination.”  If you’re out of grade school though, Cosmos still has something to offer.  One of my favorite features are the animated stories of Important People of Science.  The show takes on the greats, like Isaac Newton, but you’ll also learn about the ones you didn’t study in school.  The animation is distinct and realistic, making it feel like you’re watching a graphic novel.

To tie this in a little better with the Earth Day theme, I think a grand overview like this is important.  Some people come to appreciate the importance of our planet through the little things it offers, like flowers and sunsets, while for others seeing the earth as a unique (as far as we can tell now) piece of an unbelievable vast universe helps them see it a kind of underdog or rare jewel to be protected.  Last year I watched the Discover Channel’s North America series and I loved it so very much.  I am enthralled with images of baby birds awkwardly flying for the first time or trees that have witnessed ice ages.  I am equally captivated by Cosmos and its story of a tiny planet and the people that live on it that are trying to figure out how it, and the universe around it, works.  I think both of these views give us a complete picture and better appreciation of the planet we call home.

~April

Earth Day: Keeping it Simple

1 Apr

April and I were both really excited about our month long celebration of Earth Day last year. I spent half of March planning and researching. A few days before the madness began I was talking to April about my grand plans when she said, “Dude, you are going to burn yourself out before the month is up. Just keep it simple.”

Sure enough, halfway through the month I was spending my few days off spending hours chained to my computer writing blog entries. (I may even be guilty of uttering the phrase “%*#@ this! I hate the earth!” a few times.)

The past few months have been pretty crazy for both of us, and as the month loomed nearer we considered ditching Earth Day entirely. But we still love it, and we are both still committed to doing something positive for the planet. So this year we are, for the sake of our own sanity, keeping it simple. Check in this month as we share thirty bite-sized Earth Day celebrations!

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We’re excited!

~Robin

MTV 2.0

11 Mar

I’m not a music video person.  Even as a teenager the only music video I remember watching was Iris by the Goo Goo Dolls and whatever was on CMT.  Unless of course you count old episodes of The Monkees.  I was not very cool.  Since MTV and VH1 stopped showing music videos, the scene has changed a lot.  Most people watch their music videos online and because of this I’ve been introduced to a few more.

I still don’t watch very many of them, but I think I’m pretty picky, although my criteria is pretty predictable.  I want them to add to my musical experience even when I’m just listening to the song.  There have been a few that have ruined a song for me (I’m looking at you Avicii), but a select few have captivated me and I think those are worth sharing.


This was the video that made me reassess music videos. Once the electric guitar hits, everything gets trippy.


Already a super creepy song, the video sends further chills up your spine. I bet you could Jungian analyze the shit out of this thing.


Are you noticing a theme? I love me some animation. The song alone will break your heart and the video tells a fairly literal interpretation of the song using puppets.


More stop animation! And creepy magicians!


I don’t know what it is about these videos and people going down throats, but I must like it.


Here’s one that Robin turned me onto. And it’s not even *technically* animation.

~ April

Ash Wednesday and Angry Birds

5 Mar

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Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent.  If you or any of your friends are Catholic, you’ll most likely see a few Facebooks go dark for 40 days or hear people groan mournfully when there’s cake in the lunchroom.  Now, I’m not the best Catholic, but I do participate in Lent.  In the past I’ve made major changes that have stuck around for the better.  One of my favorites was a few years ago when I vowed to buy nothing new.  The experiment really helped me evaluate my purchases and curbed my consumerism.  Now, I try to make that a part of my Lenten experience every year.

This year I’ve decided to give up playing mobile games.  Last night I deleted all of my games, cringing as I erased all the data.  I woke up a little shaky at the prospect of not matching three colored gems together for hours on end, but I’m confident I can make it through this.  Although studies claim that playing Bejeweled may make you smarter (said studies were of course commissioned by Popcap, the maker of Bejeweled), Americans spent an inordinate amount of time using mobile apps.  The most recent statistics from April 2013 say that we spend an average of 2 hours and 38 minutes on apps a day.  I would guess most days I double that.  I usually play games in between tasks at work, before bed, or while eating lunch, waiting for an appointment or watching tv.  About a year ago I found that one of my apps logged your play time.  After seeing the numbers I deleted the game immediately… only to replace it with another not long after.

So what do I hope to gain from giving up gaming apps for 40 days?  More time, for one.  I’m hoping to use the time I would have spent playing games to do more crafts while watching tv, being more productive at work (and therefore more fulfilled), being more present in other aspects and maybe reading a little more.  After Lent I hope I can go back to playing social games, but I’m going to try to stay away from the pure time wasters.

Well, already I’ve written a blog post instead of connecting colored lines together so I guess I’m off to a good start.

~ April

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