30 June 2012

Online Garden Party

Spending time in the garden is much different and vastly preferable to being online. However, online resources can make for a better gardening experience.

Online communities have formed around the subject of gardening, and TreeHugger shares some of them here. These communities offer information and connections that help gardeners do what they love.

28 June 2012

App Reporting

One of the most disheartening experiences I have when I'm out in nature is finding a place where people have dumped their trash.

The dump sites ruin the land, break my connection with nature, and leave me feeling powerless. After all, the offenders get away, and the number of dump sites is increasing.

However, technology might be providing a way to fight back. As TreeHugger reports, a new smart phone app allows people to report illegal dump sites. If tools like this are used successfully, I think they could help cut down on dumping by providing information to law enforcement and letting dumpers know they are being watched.

I also think the app can be a tool that empowers us to "build our environment," which is an idea I blogged about last week. For those of us who enjoy the outdoors, the environment is our community, and it would be great to take it back from those who are ruining it with their trash.

25 June 2012

Before, During, and After the Sunrise or Sunset

Today's entry is just to share some tips about how to take photographs of sunrises and sunsets. The tips come from the National Wildlife Federation and can be viewed by clicking here.

One of the key ideas I took from the tips was about having the patience to watch the sunrise or sunset develop. Sunrise or sunset is more than just a single moment. At any time before, during, or afterward, the changing light might reveal a unique image for the photographer to capture.

23 June 2012

Building Our Environment

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about what it takes to have a healthy environment and strong communities.

I have realized that both require vision and focused efforts to see that vision come to life. Once the desired goal has been expressed, we must take ownership of its building and maintenance. In other words, if we want something to happen, we must make it happen.

This story from BirdNote provides a great example of what I mean. (When you check it out, you can also take a look around BirdNote's new Web site, which is fantastic.)

Of course, improving our environment and our communities means hard work, but if we really want to transform our relationships to each other and to nature, the work will be worth it.

For more ideas about communities and the environment, check out this blog from the Natural Resources Defense Council's Kaid Benfield.

21 June 2012

Etsy Bitsy

Online stores like Amazon.com have made buying mass-produced items from all over easy. However, an online market also exists for handmade, local products.

Etsy is one resource for local, handmade items. I first learned about it in a TreeHugger article on buying green products. Then, my sister shared with me some information about artwork she had purchased on Etsy. The art "upcycles" (adding value to by reusing in another way) dictionary pages by putting printed images over the top of them.

Last month, I used the site to buy a handmade, drainable soap dish that was made about an hour away from me.

It's good to see local people and small-scale production benefitting from the Internet.

14 June 2012

Storming Oil

Oil companies receive as much as $1 trillion per year in subsidies from countries around the world.

This is interesting for two reasons. First, oil companies have been making record profits. Second, it's pretty hard to end dependence on something while giving incentives for selling it.

However, on June 18, organizations like 350.org, Greenpeace, and the Natural Resources Defense Council will be leading a "Twitter storm" to call on countries to end fossil fuel subsidies. The storm will involve people around the world sending tweets against the subsidies. If you don't use Twitter or if you'd like to do something in addition to sending a tweet on June 18, you can sign 350.org's petition against fossil fuel subsidies.

For more information on the Twitter storm, click here.

10 June 2012

In for Repairs

One way to minimize the number of things you have to buy is to get the most out of what you already own, and one way to ensure your things get high mileage is to pick up the tricks for repairing them.

The Natural Resources Defense Council's journal, This Green Life, just released a helpful guide to becoming a repairperson for your own things. Included in the guide are shopping tips for finding durable goods, information on making repairs to a variety of products, and advice for how to decide whether to repair or replace. iFixit is one of the resources the journal article shares. It provides free manuals for repairing many different things.

I get excited about ideas like this because they focus on sustainability, help make the old new, and empower people. Empowerment against consumerism is a difficult thing to achieve, but this is a good start.

In the near future, I will begin a project to rejuvenate my computer.  I bought it as a refurbished model, and it is now more than four years old. Rather than get a new computer, I'd like to see how far I can go with this one, so I will be replacing the hard drive and updating the operating system. Hopefully, that will keep it kicking for a few more years. I'll have more about the project later as an example of getting the most out of products.

09 June 2012

Without a Trace

I've been blogging a lot about ideas for getting outside. In fact, as the National Wildlife Federation reports, today is National Get Outside Day, and this month is Great Outdoors Month.

Hopefully, you'll have an opportunity to celebrate with some outside time. If you do, please keep in mind one of the most important parts of being outdoors: minimizing your impact on nature.

The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics provides seven principles to help guide you to a fulfilling and environmentally friendly outdoor experience.

08 June 2012

Kids Camp

As the summer weather starts to arrive, more opportunities for camping become available. The National Wildlife Federation will be celebrating these chances for experiencing the outdoors with the Great American Backyard Campout on June 23.

The campout is about getting kids outside, and it embraces the idea that camping can happen almost anywhere, including the backyard. NWF has provided tips for how to get ready for a camping adventure. These suggestions include packing, safety, assembly, recipes, and activities.

For more resources about camping with children, visit Go Explore Nature, which recently reviewed a helpful book about camping and shared information about what it called "glamping," an easier form of camping.

05 June 2012

Beating the Heat

With summer coming, temperatures are on the rise, and that means paying more to stay cool.

However, we can do things that both keep us cooler and limit our energy costs over the hot summer. For some ideas, check out these suggestions from the Department of Energy's blog.