The first week in August is Simplify Your Life Week. And although many may think simplifying means items of convenience, such as pre-packaged foods and disposable items, including paper plates, diapers and plastic utensils, there are some wonderful ways to simplify your life without hurting the planet.
Eat more natural, locally created foods. Studies show our average meal has traveled several thousand miles to arrive on your plate. Not only is this at a massive cost to the environment, but your food will probably have lost a lot of its nutrients in transit for up to several weeks before you eat it. A good way to start doing this is by grocery shopping just the perimeter of the store where the fresh food is, while looking for locally-sourced items. In addition, you’ll be eating healthier, and supporting local farmers.
Understand you don’t need everything. Clutter fills more than our shelves and closets – it permeates our lives. We work hard to be able to afford things, many of which require care, cleaning, storing, insuring, protecting….and the media and the merchants are constantly offering us the next “must have.” The cost of consumer goods goes beyond the price tag. Environmental costs come from resource extraction, manufacturing, shipping and waste management.
Choose online shopping (even for groceries). Buying goods online can be an environmentally friendly and time-saving way to shop. Think about it: a delivery truck is making multiple stops on a route. That reduces the carbon footprint.
Consider outsourcing. As the world becomes smaller, and technology improves, hiring others who may live on the other side of the world is increasingly going to be the norm AND it can actually save us a lot of time and money. From an environmental point of view – outsourcing and remote working reduces the carbon footprint of commuting, and additional office space. From a personal standpoint – it saves you money, and hassle.
Some things that are supposed to make our lives simpler may actually just make it more complicated and intricate. Take a look at how you can make a difference to the environment while adding more simplicity to your life.
If you have been keeping up with Northern California’s weather, you know we’ve been in a heatwave lately, and it is expected to last for several more days. This heat is cause for concern, not only from an environmental perspective, but also from a food security and health perspective.
The massive winter storms which coated towering peaks of the Sierra Nevada mountain range after years of drought is now melting too fast. That means waterways could flood and damage the vital crops in the Central Valley. Find out more about this through our project, Maven’s Notebook.
The heat can be dangerous in other ways too. Young children, elderly people, pregnant women, people with disabilities and animals are especially vulnerable to the heat.
Here are some tips to beat the heat:
Get wet. Hang a wet sheet over a window, which is what the rangers do at Death Valley National Park. Incoming breezes are cooled by the evaporating water.
Block sun. Closing curtains and blinds (ideally with sun-deflecting white on the window side) can reduce the amount of heat that passes into your home by as much as 45 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
Eat cold. Although barbecue is ubiquitous with warmer temperatures, it works against you on hotter days. When it’s too hot to cook, consider cold soups or rely on electrical appliances instead of those cooking methods that generate more heat.
Swig it. Staying hydrated is important. You can think beyond water to other foods that will keep you in the cool, including watermelon, peaches, celery, and cucumbers.
Over the course of more than 150 years, a once-radical idea has evolved into a cohesive United States national parks system, with a sometimes conflicting two part-mission: to make the parks accessible to all and to preserve them for future generations.
North and south, east and west, they stretch from the edges of our maps to the hearts of our cities, covering nearly one-third of the country. This June, celebrate the natural wonder and outdoor spirit of America by getting outside during Great Outdoors Month.
June is a special time to celebrate America’s great outdoors and all the benefits it brings, including annual economic impact of $650 billion nationwide. That’s why June has been named Great Outdoors Month.
Whether camping, fishing, rock climbing, or playing in a neighborhood park, nature offers each of us the opportunity to get active, explore, and strengthen our bonds with family and friends. It’s also a time great to uphold our nation’s legacy of conserving our lands for future generations.
So as you enjoy the great outdoors, think also about how you can better support it.
The Queen song aside, now is a great time to start riding your bike to work or school, especially since this week is Bike to Work Week.
Biking to work is an efficient and fun way to get the exercise you need, without having to find extra time to work out. And this year, with gasoline prices as high as they are, biking to work makes more sense than ever.
Then there is the issue of the carbon footprint. The Institute for Transportation and Development Policy concluded bicycling could help cut carbon emissions from urban transportation 11 percent.
That’s where our project Menlo Spark comes in. They have been working with the community in Menlo Park to develop a special bike path for commuters. Check out what else they are doing at http://menlospark.org/
Like our own kidneys that help purify our blood, wetlands are the ‘kidneys’ of our landscape. They remove excess nutrients, toxic substances and sediment from water that flows through them, helping to improve downstream water quality and the overall health of the waters throughout the world. They also protect against flooding, provide recreational opportunities and serve as important habitat for many wildlife species.
During American Wetlands Month, we wanted to see how well you know this vital environmental resource. Take our quiz to find out.
April 26th is the anniversary of the birth of John James Audubon (1785), an American ornithologist (one that studies birds), naturalist, and painter. He conducted his first scientific studies from his father’s Pennsylvania estate. After trying and failing in several different types of business ventures, he concentrated on drawing and studying birds, and began traveling around the country to pursue this work.
His major work, a color-plate book entitled The Birds of America (1827–1839), is considered one of the finest ornithological works ever completed.
He is remembered as one of the most important naturalists of his era, and his respect and concern for the natural world clearly marks him as one of the forefathers of the modern conservationism and environmentalism movements. In 1886, the first bird-preservation society, the National Audubon Society, was named in his honor. Countless wildlife sanctuaries, parks, streets and towns also bear his name and honor his legacy.
And here at T4CI, we think this quote from Audubon has the deepest meaning:
This week is National Environmental Education Week. Held each spring around the time of Earth Day, National Environmental Education Week (EE Week) promotes the understanding and protection of the natural world by actively engaging K-12 students and educators, and people of all ages in an inspired week of environmental learning and service.
At T4CI, our projects take education very seriously as part of their mission. Here’s a sample of what some have been up to:
Building Codes Assistance Project: We are educating/inspiring architects and engineers in 22 cities on how to incorporate solar photovoltaics into their building plan projects, to increase use of solar energy and reduce demand for fossil fuels.
Sane Energy Project: One of our campaigns is WinWindNY. We have secured a commitment from our Governor to purchase offshore wind off the coast of NYC. Our work right now is to let the public know offshore wind is going to happen and how they can participate in the process in its development.
SOUL:We’re hosting a 10-hour educational series about the urban forest and its potential to mitigate decrease flooding, subsidence, air, water and soil pollution, the urban heat island effect, and improve community health.
Would you like to help our projects education the world? Please consider a donation to one of our projects at: http://t4ci.org/sponsored/
At T4CI, we celebrate Earth Day everyday, and we hope you do too. Often, however, the question arises, “How do we teach our children about how to take care of the earth? After all, it is their responsibility too.”
We put together a few tips to help. Check ’em out. (And remember to share, too!)