30 November 2012

Discover the Holidays

Experience gifts are best when nature is the experience.

When it comes to having a green holidays, I've already talked about finding gifts that connect children with nature and cutting back on consumption. The children's gifts include experience gifts, and you can give gifts that let adults experience nature too.

In Washington state, you can buy Discover Passes from the Department of Natural Resources. These passes give people vehicle access to state-managed recreation lands. In addition, the $35 for each pass help support the DNR's management of lands at a time when the state budget is stretched thin.

It's a win-win-win situation. People get to experience the beauties of Washington's nature, resources are conserved, and the DNR is supported. Those sound like great reasons for a happy holiday season.

For information about how to purchase a Discover Pass, click here.

27 November 2012

Wrapped up in a Coat

My Christmas wish list is usually more like a general need list.

Actually, this is kind of a family trait. We usually put on out lists things that we would ordinarily buy for ourselves but just happen to need around the holidays. Sometimes, if no pressing need arises, we will just ask for money.

That's why I liked this article from TreeHugger about Patagonia. Patagonia is a company that specializes in making outdoor clothing, and it does so while placing an emphasis on protecting the environment. It's an extraordinary company, and through its Common Threads Initiative, it is challenging people to buy only what they need and to try to repair what they have before replacing it.

As it turns out, what I need this year is a new coat. My last one finally gave out after nearly twelve years of constant wear (it even made two trips to Europe with me). When the need came up, I was glad to be already aware of Patagonia. I knew I wanted my next coat to be from an environmentally conscientious company, and I also knew it would be my Christmas present this year.

For more information about Patagonia, visit its Web site. Be sure to read about its environmental practices.

25 November 2012

Winter Garden

As part of Thanksgiving dinner, we had homegrown tomatoes. My mom had picked green tomatoes earlier in the fall and brought them inside to ripen.

Everyone was glad to have homegrown rather than store-bought tomatoes. However, at some point, the harvest, including cucumbers and potatoes, will run out and the store will become the sole source of vegetables.

Usually, during winter, we resign ourselves to the fact that the nearest produce is at the store. However, the Natural Resources Defense Council is providing tips to keep your vegetable production going during the colder months.

As part of its Smarter Living program, the NRDC gives these recommendations for growing vegetables inside. The tips include what to grow and where and how to grow it.

This is a great idea that helps keep fresh produce around throughout the year and gives us a little more power over where we get our food.

21 November 2012

A Wild Recreation Vehicle

Anyone who helps connect children to nature makes immeasurable contributions to both the environment and our youth, and a new partnership between the National Wildlife Federation and the National Recreation and Park Association is helping clear the way for such connections.

The NWF and the NRPA are using the partnership to counter the trend of children not getting outside. They have set a goal of getting 10 million kids outside in the next three years and are challenging parks and recreation professionals and organizations that serve children to assist in the effort.

If you are in a position to help and would like to participate in the program, click here.

16 November 2012

Giving Nature

When I think of holiday gifts, I think of presents under the tree and people gathering inside to unwrap them. However, even though they are given deep in the winter months, holiday presents can connect us to the outdoors.

Within the last week, two sites have shared suggestions for gift ideas that can get children outside and experiencing nature.

Go Explore Nature provides these ideas for nature experiences in the backyard. As a bird-watcher, the binoculars and the field guides stand out for me. In fact, I remember how much I used to love using binoculars.

Also, as part of its Be Out There campaign, the National Wildlife Federation makes these recommendations for gifts. Topping my list from these options would the be the "owl puke" and the outdoor adventure. I used to love seeing owl pellets taken apart. The contents always fascinated me.

12 November 2012

What a Waste

Electronic waste (e-waste) is a growing global problem because of the increasing prevalence of electronic devices and the speed at which new electronics are produced and consumed.

However, we tend not to see the effects of e-waste because, like much of our trash, it is shipped away from us. Terra Blight, a new documentary hopes to shed light on the human and environmental impacts of electronics. Check out the trailer below:

This makes me very happy I decided to improve my computer rather than get a new one. It also makes me thankful for Web sites that help people fix their devices.

You can watch Terra Blight on YouTube or iTunes.

10 November 2012

Getting to the Line First

The United States just completed its latest election cycle, and the country has some excitement over the progress that might be made in the coming years. However, four years ago, we had even more excitement, and environmentally, it got us very little.

During the last four years, few elected officials have prioritized environment issues, and President Barack Obama has declined to throw the weight of the White House behind issues like carbon emissions, often maintaining a silence about global warming.

After seeing this unfold since 2008, I did not share in the excitement from four days ago. However, I like what the group 350.org is planning to do.

The group has decided to bring its protest of the Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline back to Washington, DC, on November 18. (I wrote about last year's protests here and here.) The 2011 protests were effective in delaying the pipeline, but the president will have to make a final decision soon. Rather than waiting to see if Obama will take a strong stand on the issue when his second term begins, 350.org is getting out in front and making sure the environment becomes a priority.

Go to the 350.org Web site by clicking here. To sign up to be part of the protest, click here.

07 November 2012

Raising the Bar

The trouble with bottled soap is that it comes in bottles, many of which have pumps that can't be recycled.

I can't remember when bottled soap took over my life, but within the last year, I have started making the move back to bar soap. Most of the plastic bottles can be recycled, but making and recycling them still requires resources and energy. Then, there are those pumps and bottle caps that can't be recycled. For these reasons, I began looking for ways to keep bottled soaps out of my life.

To work on eliminating the bottles, I turned to the W.S. Badger Company. I have been using Badger sunscreen and lip balm for two years, and I really like them, so when the company reintroduced its line of soaps, I thought about buying some. However, I waited until my hand soap bottle neared its end and then asked Badger if its body soaps could be used as hand soaps. The representative said the soap made a good hand soap as long as it was placed on a dish that drained (when the soap sits in water it loses its firmness).

I bought the unscented Badger soap and began using it two months ago. It cleans hands well and is gentler on them than the bottled soap I had been using. Also, although it is officially unscented, it does have a bit of that bar soap smell. When I caught a little of that scent, it reminded me how much I liked the smell of bar soap, and by doing so, it brought back some memories.

So far, the experiment with bar soap has been a success. In the future, I may choose to replace my body wash with Badger soap as well.

You can check out the Badger Web site by clicking here. Many of the company's products are certified organic, and Badger does not test its products on animals.

02 November 2012

Wild at Heart

I grew up in one of the coolest regions of the world, right on the doorstep of the Olympic Mountains in Washington state. As a result, I am more accustomed to seeing wild lands around me than buildings.

I'm pretty sure that most of the people who know me would say the natural setting fits me perfectly. The combination of freedom and nature resonates with me and shows the value in protecting the quality of life in the area.

For the last few years, the Wild Olympics Campaign has sought to further protections for the Olympic National Park. Additionally, the campaign has been building a community of people who want to share the experience the park has to offer. This week, Wild Olympics released a video about its work. Check it out below:

Wild Olympics for Our Future from Wild Olympics on Vimeo.

The Wild Olympics Campaign is a great effort to connect people with each other and the environment. At its heart is the idea of maintaining the wild spirit that defines the Pacific Northwest and the inhabitants of the region. For more information on the campaign, click here.