13 fun and sustainable activities to enjoy before summer ends

August 16, 2019 by  
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The dog days of summer linger from early morning until late into the evening, providing plenty of opportunities to play, travel and work in the yard. If you’re focused on making sure those summer activities are earth-friendly, we’ve brainstormed some ideas to get you into the great outdoors without leaving a heavy footprint in your wake. Hiking Getting into nature is easy with nothing more than your refillable water bottle and a good pair of shoes. Depending on where you live, you can head straight out your front door, bike to a nearby trail, jump on city transport or take the hybrid car to a trailhead. Hiking doesn’t have to be done on trails, but why not take advantage of the forest canopy, rippling water and scenery that nature provides while getting in your steps. Touring city parks Nearly every city has parks, and often you’re not even aware of them all. Especially if you have kids, vowing to track down each park in your city is a fun way to immerse yourself in your community without leaving a trace. Enjoy the trails, playground equipment and informational kiosks in your area one city park at a time with a goal of seeing them all before summer ends. Swimming Water activities are popular during warm weather for more than a few reasons, and swimming is a great activity for your body and the planet. If you choose a river or lake, make sure you understand the dangers of currents and always have a life jacket. The community pool is a great way to get in your laps while enjoying the cooling effects of the water in a maintained facility. Cycling Jump on your bike next time you’re scouring the Saturday market or heading to the store for small items. Use it as your mode of transport when you go to a friend’s or to the pool. If you want to make an adventure out of it, look up nearby mountain biking trails or road biking routes that fit into your schedule and physical abilities. Enjoy the exercise without polluting the environment. Camping/backpacking Getting into nature is a valid goal for any season, but summer offers opportunities for fair-weather camping and backpacking that the other seasons don’t. To keep it sustainable, watch the packaging on the items you buy, skip the plastic water bottles and use refillable propane tanks instead of disposable ones. Remember to pack out all garbage, including toilet paper. Bury human waste 6 to 8 inches underground and always do your business at least 200 steps from any water source. Related: Get ready for an adventure with this ultimate checklist of backpacking essentials Kayaking/rafting/river floating River activities are the highlight of summer in many places. There are several ways to enjoy these activities without damaging the environment, especially when you avoid polluting the water with gasoline engines. Instead, rely on your arm strength and the current to kayak, float or white water raft. Scuba diving and surfing If you’re near the ocean or hope to head in that direction for vacation, hit the surf with a board for a good workout and adrenaline rush all in one. Take in the diversity of the marine wildlife you aim to protect through your sustainable lifestyle by grabbing a tank and heading below the surface. Check certification requirements and diving regulations in your area for the safety of yourself and the ecosystem. Be sure to use reef-safe sunscreen while in the water. Visiting national parks There are 61 national parks in the United States alone, plus other protected areas around the world. Wherever you are, take in these natural wonders via bike, hike, boat, air or water. Unless you attend during one of the free national park day events, expect to pay an admission fee, which helps fund the maintenance and care these parks require. Remember to keep your wasteful packing to a minimum, pick up garbage when you see it and use the waste receptacles or haul your trash home. Related: How national parks benefit the environment Barbecuing The very essence of summer is defined by the concept of grilling with friends. Fresh fruit, grilled meat and veggies and frozen ice cones make for a memorable afternoon. Make sure your event is earth-friendly with reusable plates, cups and utensils. Recycle items whenever possible, watch for plastic packaging, skip the single-use straws and make ice ahead of time instead of buying it at the store in plastic bags. Going on a road trip Road trips are a great family bonding experience and an opportunity to really see the land you live in. Throw in the camping gear or plan your lodgings ahead of time. Hit up those national parks or head to the beach. Make your trek as environmentally friendly as possible by bringing snacks packed at home, refillable beverage containers and washable plates and utensils. Toss in some biodegradable soap for washing yourself and those dishes. Playing lawn games Whether you’re at home, the beach or the campground, lawn games are a fabulous activity. Entertaining and memorable, dragging out the cornhole or horseshoes is an earth-conscious choice, too. Watch for games made with plastic ; instead invest in quality metal or wood parts instead. Then, get out there and start the bocce ball, croquet or golf short-chip challenge. Participating in sports There is no end to the number of sports you can play, and almost all of them are low-impact from an environmental stance. Shoot hoops, head to the park for disc golf, put together a neighborhood baseball game or take up wake surfing. Going to museums Although summer is a very outdoorsy time of year, some days are just too hot, cold or wet. When the weather isn’t cooperating, head indoors and learn something new at a museum . Find something related to your interests or those of your kids and focus on art, history, native culture, ships, planes, technology, architecture or toys. Images via Jan Walter Luigi , Dan Fador , Leon He , Pixabay , Jacqueline Macou , RawPixel , Christoph Lindner and Just Pics

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13 fun and sustainable activities to enjoy before summer ends

Climate change intensifies seaweed infestation in Caribbean Sea

July 2, 2019 by  
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Many consecutive years of sargassum — large brown seaweed — infestations have driven countries around the Caribbean Sea to consider declaring national emergencies. The smelly seaweed blankets beaches, turns the water brown and smothers coral reefs and marine life. Its rotten stench and unsightly appearance is causing many tourism-dependent communities and nations to lose revenue, and it is even causing a public health concern. “It produces an acid gas with a rotten egg smell [when it decomposes] that can be harmful to human health,” read a letter from the local government of Quitana Roo in Mexico, where a public emergency was declared. Mexico already spent $17 million USD trying to clear away the seaweed from popular beaches along the Riviera Maya, which contributes about 50 percent of the country’s tourism dollars. The government cleared more than 500,000 tons of the brown seaweed, with some hotels lamenting that they often have to have their staff clear the beach two or three times every day. Related: Woman arrested in Florida for stomping on sea turtle nest For nearly a decade, scientists have been concluding that the influx of seaweed is likely from fertilizers and raw sewage entering the Caribbean Sea via drains and watersheds. New research indicates that climate change is also playing a role. “Because of global climate change, we may have increased upwelling, increased air deposition or increased nutrient source from rivers, so all three may have increased the recent large amounts of sargassum,” said Chuanmin Hu, an oceanography professor at South Florida University. While small amounts of sargassum are natural and normal on beaches — and even provide habitat for crustaceans and other marine life — it is detrimental to nearshore ecosystems. Hatchling sea turtles , for example, cannot swim out to sea through the heavy seaweed, and many simply get stuck and die. Some agricultural communities are turning the seaweed into compost for crops; however, none are able to keep up with processing and clearing the massive quantities that periodically plague coastal areas. Via The Independent Image via Tam Warner Minton

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Climate change intensifies seaweed infestation in Caribbean Sea

Palm Beach, Florida bans single-use plastic bags and polystyrene containers

July 1, 2019 by  
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Palm Beach, Florida has become the first town in Palm Beach County to officially ban single-use plastic bags and polystyrene containers (also known as Styrofoam containers). The ban on these items will go into effect on December 12, 2019 in order to allow businesses and vendors to use up their current inventory and start switching to more sustainable options. The town council voted to pass the ban in June and will enforce the regulations in restaurants, gas stations, drug stores and grocery stores. Private events and caterers will also have to abide by the restrictions. Town manager Kirk Blouin told the local paper, “The research has shown us these items are bad for the environment, particularly marine life , and it just makes sense to regulate it.” Related: Pacific Island Vanuatu is the first to ban disposable diapers Blouin also noted that although people are very dependent on these convenient plastic items, it is just out of habit and not necessity — and habits can change. “We are all creatures of habit,” he said. “Once we get used to a good habit, it becomes second nature to us.” Many local businesses were already on board with the measure and had ceased offering customers single-use bags as well as other items such as plastic straws and stirrers. Especially for a coastal town, these plastic items do not biodegrade and often end up on beaches and in the ocean, where they break down into microplastic particles. Microplastics are known to cause problems for marine life, and debris is unsightly on beaches. According to the Friends of Palm Beach, a clean-up group in the area, they have already cleared away 120,000 pounds of trash in their clean-ups since 2013. Over 75 percent of all trash collected from the beaches has been plastic waste that ends up in landfills or washes out to sea. Via The Hill and Palm Beach Post Image via Shutterstock

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Palm Beach, Florida bans single-use plastic bags and polystyrene containers

Beach Reads to Finish Before the Ocean Rises: Intro to Cli-Fi

June 26, 2019 by  
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They say the popularity of zombie movies is linked to … The post Beach Reads to Finish Before the Ocean Rises: Intro to Cli-Fi appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Beach Reads to Finish Before the Ocean Rises: Intro to Cli-Fi

Surfing trip leads to 4Ocean cleaning coastlines around the world

June 20, 2019 by  
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This is the story of how plastic , local fishermen, a bracelet and two surfers have created a recipe to clean up the massive plastic debris in oceans and along coastlines around the world. Alex Schulze and Andrew Cooper took a surfing trip to Bali that would change their lives and the future of the planet. The post-college trip opened their eyes to the growing problem of ocean plastic. While attempting to enjoy the beach and waves, Alex and Andrew found themselves literally wading through plastic. A local lifeguard told them that the plastic washes ashore each and every day. Related: Ocean explorer finds plastic waste during world’s deepest dive The lightbulb went off when the duo saw some local fisherman dragging their boats through mounds of plastic as they headed out to work. With capable boat captains and deckhands already heading into the water each day, Alex and Andrew decided to find a way to give them a new job to do. So, they began paying the crews to retrieve plastic instead of fish. As before, the boats went out each morning, but when they returned, the nets had hauled in a different load— plastic. As the movement continued to grow, more locals joined the crews and 4Ocean was officially born. This business plan is not only effective in cleaning up the beaches and ocean , but is also providing sustainable jobs for the local community. What began as a focus on Bali has now evolved with the company’s direct involvement in cleaning up the coastlines of 27 countries so far. With boats and payroll expenses growing around the globe, the founders needed a way to fund the business and they found it in the creation of the 4Ocean bracelet, made from recycled waste materials pulled directly from the ocean. The bracelets are hand assembled on the island of Bali, providing additional work in the community. Recycled plastic is sourced to make the beads on each bracelet. The attached charm is made from recycled stainless steel. They are unisex, adjustable and 100 percent waterproof to appeal to just about anyone. The cord is made from recycled water bottles and although the blue cord is the original, they feature a different color monthly— each representing an endangered sea animal . For example, June is the leatherback sea turtle. Each featured bracelet provides information that aims to raise awareness about these threatened animals and the harm from ocean pollution . Bracelets are priced at $20 and are packaged in eco-friendly materials. The purchase of each bracelet funds the removal of one pound of plastic from the ocean. “Buy a bracelet, pull a pound.” + 4Ocean Images via 4Ocean

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Surfing trip leads to 4Ocean cleaning coastlines around the world

Floridians break world record for largest underwater cleanup

June 18, 2019 by  
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The coastal city of Deerfield, Florida made headlines this weekend for hosting the world’s largest underwater cleanup. This year, for the city’s 15th annual cleanup event, 633 divers gathered on the beach to scuba dive and collect more than 1,500 pounds of debris. By the number of divers participating, this cleanup is officially the largest in the world. Divers traveled internationally and from all over the country to participate in the event, and a Guinness Book of World Records officiant was on-site to confirm that the event indeed broke the previous record held by divers in the Red Sea. Led by an Egyptian diver, the Red Sea event in 2015 included 614 divers from around the world. Related: Baby turtles officially return to the beaches of Mumbai after largest beach cleanup in history The Florida cleanup event was hosted by Dixie Divers and the Deerfield Beach Women’s Club. According to one of the event planners, Tyler Bourgoine, “It was a great time … Everyone was working together and cleaning up one part of the reef or pier.” The group launched the event from a fishing pier on Deerfield Beach. Much of the debris collected was related to the fishing activities off the pier and in the area. Throughout the world, abandoned fishing gear remains an enormous percentage of marine litter. In the Great Pacific Garbage Patch — thought to be the largest collection of trash in all of the oceans at 79,000 metric tons — the majority of the debris is abandoned fishing gear. The cleanup is a small but important step to reducing over 8 million metric tons of trash that is estimated to enter the ocean every year and cause obscene damage to marine mammals, birds and other wildlife . Via EcoWatch Image via Shutterstock

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Floridians break world record for largest underwater cleanup

5 Must-Haves for an Eco-Friendly Beach Trip

June 17, 2019 by  
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It just isn’t summer without a trip to the beach. … The post 5 Must-Haves for an Eco-Friendly Beach Trip appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Canada to ban single-use plastics by 2021

June 11, 2019 by  
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Canada is the latest country to follow the European Union’s ambitious ban of single-use plastics, which will go into effect by 2021. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the upcoming ban, which still has details to iron out, in an attempt to address the marine litter crisis. The announcement also comes months before the election this fall, during which political experts expect climate change to take center stage. Less than 10 percent of all plastics in Canada are recycled, with 300 million tons thrown out every year. This recycling rate is similar in the United States, the largest plastic consumer in the world, where about 9 percent of plastics are recycled. In every corner of the globe, plastic waste is reaching the ocean and wreaking havoc on marine species from sea turtles to fish and whales. Related: Have your plastic and eat it too – average American ingests 50,000 microplastic particles a year To put it into perspective for citizens, Prime Minister Trudeau explained, “As parents, we’re at a point when we take our kids to the beach and we have to search out a patch of sand that isn’t littered with straws, Styrofoam or bottles. That’s a problem, one that we have to do something about.” Legislators have yet to announce exactly which single-use plastics will be banned, but the list could include cutlery, straws, plates, stir sticks and bags. Throughout the European Union, plastic bags, cutlery, cotton balls, stir sticks and balloon sticks will be outlawed in 2021, with a reduction in plastic cups and other food-related plastics also going into effect. The ban legislation is also expected to detail regulations for companies that produce significant plastic waste . The policy will hold companies accountable and mandate they develop targets and responsible waste management plans. Prime Minister Trudeau’s environmental policy may help his chances for re-election this fall, as voters are increasingly concerned about the environment and climate change . Via The BBC Image via Fotoblend

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Canada to ban single-use plastics by 2021

New York Botanical Garden’s new artist residencies connect people with plants

May 10, 2019 by  
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Despite its irrefutable success — founded in 1891 and now receiving one million visitors a year — the New York Botanical Garden’s staff tirelessly finds innovative ways to stimulate visitors’ connection to nature. This year, it launched a new artist residency program, inviting internationally acclaimed visual artist Michele Oka Doner and sought-after composer Angélica Negrón to be the first participants. “People come to nature in different ways,” Barbara Corcoran, NYBG’s vice president for continuing and public education, told Inhabitat. “Some people come to the garden and they’re very observant, they really see the plants, they read the labels, and they have quite a good knowledge. They’re gardeners themselves or they’re naturalists.” Others might need extra help connecting. “ Music and art are two ways to do that,” she said. Carrie Rebora Barratt, who became CEO and president of the garden in 2018, came up with the residency idea. Her training as an art historian and museum administrator and her previous position at the Metropolitan Museum of Art had shown her the value of artist residencies. Michele Oka Doner Love of nature fuels Michele Oka Doner’s five decades of artwork. This is apparent as soon as you walk into her SoHo studio. “It’s like a treasure trove of nature,” Corcoran said. “She’s a collector of natural objects and archaeological finds like fossils and little bird skulls, like dozens of them, and old stone tools and shells and nature books. So this is like a laboratory. When you go there, you really get to see what she’s all about.” Doner’s past works include “A Walk on the Beach,” composed of 9,000 bronze starfish, sand dollars, coral and other sea-inspired sculptures embedded in the concourse at Miami International Airport. Her installation at the Nymphenburg Porcelain Manufactory in Munich includes 400 shamanistic sculptures . She’s still developing her ideas for the site-specific work she’ll create at the New York Botanical Garden . Related: Second Nature transforms abandoned fishing nets into 3D-printed seashells and bowls On June 12, Doner will give a free talk at the garden called “Ecstatic Nutrition: The Trees of My Life” about three trees that greatly influenced her. “It kicks off our Wellness Wednesdays, which we have through the summer,” Corcoran said.  “Michele is a close observer of nature and a fine storyteller. She has this kind of enchantment with the natural world and its sacredness, and it really comes across. I think it will be very inspiring to hear her talk.” Angélica Negrón Composer and multi-instrumentalist Angélica Negrón is a classically trained violinist who is well-known for her electronic music. Much of her work includes nontraditional instruments, such as toys, music boxes and electrodes hooked up to vegetables. A YouTube video shows Negrón in a market, lining up vegetables on a shelf to gauge their aesthetic as well as musical potential.  “I try to find vegetables or fruits that match the textures of the songs. I do love cauliflower, Romanesco broccoli, vegetables that have kind of design element. I call it a vegetable synth,” she said in the video. “I try to coordinate it so it all looks like part of the same instrument.” Corcoran said that both artists are interested in science and technology. Negrón has met with a New York Botanical Garden scientist and horticulturalist to learn more about tree communication. “ Trees communicate largely through their roots,” Corcoran said. “That’s all very fascinating to her.” Negrón has already performed twice at the garden, delighting the public with her vegetable synth. “She assigns each vegetable with a different note,” Corcoran explained. “And then when she touches them, the water in those fruits and plants and vegetables conduct the electricity that creates the notes. By tapping different vegetables, she creates a musical piece.” She also adds in acoustic and electronic instruments and found sounds for a result Corcoran describes as “soothing and mesmerizing.” Negrón’s residency will culminate in November with a world-premiere performance in the Thain Family Forest. “We’ll have several choruses here,” Corcoran said. “So it’s a mix of live choral music with sounds that are coming from the trees. I think that’s going to be a real artistic happening that you wouldn’t want to miss if you’re in New York in the fall. Plus, it’s in the old growth forest at a beautiful time of year.” Visiting the garden The New York Botanical Garden is open Tuesday through Sunday year-round, plus occasional holiday Mondays. In addition to leisurely strolling and soaking up the beauty, there’s always something going on. Activities range from the extremely practical — learning to repot orchids — to something as celebratory as the Brazil-themed World Pride Night in June. The botanical garden is a vital center for plant research. Its herbarium contains 7.8 million specimens, and it employs about 200 PhD-level scientists and support staff who travel the world to collect plants and bring them back for study. But most of all, it’s a place where busy urbanites can spend time in nature . “It’s a real oasis for people,” Corcoran said. “And I think now more than ever, people need that.” + New York Botanical Garden Images via NYBG and Ben Hider / NYBG

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New York Botanical Garden’s new artist residencies connect people with plants

Minimalist home in northern Spain uses geothermal energy to reduce energy consumption

May 10, 2019 by  
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There are few things we love more than a gorgeous minimalist design that boasts energy-efficiency features, and Barcelona-based firm, Pepe Gascón Arquitectura,  has managed to combine the two beautifully. Located just east of Barcelona, the Elvira&Marcos House is a minimalist, all-white rectangular volume with slender windows, surrounded by a natural landscape of overgrown grass and wildflowers. The home’s minimalist design conceals an extremely tight insulative shell and geothermal energy system to reduce the home’s energy consumption. The 2,475 square foot home was built on a lot that was slated for development years ago, before Spain’s economy was hit by the economic crisis. Today, the Elvira & Marcos home is the only residence in the area, adding a touch of mysterious solitude to the gorgeous home design. Related: Geothermal-powered Forest House showcases sustainable features in Maryland The all-white, rectangular-shaped home is surrounded by a plot made up of overgrown greenery that partially hides the home from view. According to the architects, leaving the landscape in its wild state was a strategic move to create “a house with a clear geometry but without resorting to unnecessary gestures, offering a forceful interpretation with a certain neutrality in the midst of the surrounding heterogeneity.” The exterior of the home is made out of flexible stucco finish that comes with an integral Exterior Thermal Insulation System (SATE), creating a tight insulative shell for the structure. In addition to the exterior insulation, the SATE system was also used in the roof to avoid energy-wasting thermal bridges. The end result is an extremely tight envelope, that, together with a geothermal energy system installed, drastically reduces the home’s energy consumption. The interior of the three-story home is connected by an large interior steel staircase that holds court in the middle of the kitchen. The home’s minimalist aesthetic continues throughout the home’s open layout with all-white walls and a continuous concrete floor. Natural light shines into the living area from the slender slat windows— which is made even more open and airy thanks to its double height ceilings. + Pepe Gascón Arquitectura Via Design Milk Photography by Aitor Estévez via Pepe Gascón Arquitectura  

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Minimalist home in northern Spain uses geothermal energy to reduce energy consumption

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