Ecosystem Services: Nature’s Gifts That Help Us Thrive

August 6, 2020 by  
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Ecosystem Services: Nature’s Gifts That Help Us Thrive

12 sustainable gifts to give Dad for Father’s Day

June 15, 2020 by  
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Father’s Day is just around the corner, so as you celebrate graduations, June birthdays and virtual weddings, keep an eye out for the perfect gift for Dad. While his favorite treat is always welcome, finding something more personal can be a challenge. We’ve come up with some ideas that not only express your love and gratitude for your father, but for the planet, too. Tools If your dad spends his spare time woodworking or tinkering on cars, there are many new gadgets on the market he would like to experiment with. He might also want to upgrade older tools. While shopping, avoid tools made with plastic and look for high-quality wood or stainless steel options that will last a lifetime. Many brands even include a lifetime warranty with your purchase. This will keep low-quality tools out of the landfill and keep Dad from having to shop for wrenches or hammers ever again.  Related: 15 essential woodworking tools Travel mugs and bottles Whether your dad must have his morning cup of Joe or always carries a water bottle with him, provide him with a long-lasting stainless steel option that will keep him from needing single-serve water bottles or to-go coffee cups. Watches Watches are a timeless gift. But, when choosing a design, seek out an eco-friendly model. Many watch manufacturers are now offering sustainable wood designs, like WeWOOD . Also check out the Veldt LUXTURE AARDE watch with a built-in Climate Action Reminder. Wallet By the time a good wallet gets broken in, it starts to break down and needs replaced, so Dad might appreciate something a little different. This year, go for a vegan leather wallet. Some unique options include these apple waste and wood leather wallets , or these wallets made from recycled banana trees . Plants Whether dad is the clear winner in the green thumb category or simply could use some bamboo luck in his office, both indoor and outdoor plants are great options this Father’s Day. Perhaps select a succulent or cactus, or if Dad is into novel gifts, pick up a Venus flytrap, tropical pitcher plants or sundews. Beer-making kit If your father enjoys a good brew at the end of the day, he may also enjoy making his own beer . Complete kits run around $200 and include all of the tools he’ll need, from a glass carboy to the instruction book. He can then add hops and yeast to perfect a recipe of his choice. Hobby class What does your dad love to do in his spare time? Has he shown an interest in gardening, pottery, knife-making, welding, golf, photography, playing guitar or learning another language? Whatever the hobby, get him a certificate for a local or online class to boost his learning on the topic. You could even take the class with him for a special, shared experience. Time outdoors Sometimes all Dad wants is to spend time with you, so set a date for some outdoor fun. Hike somewhere he’s never been, plan a camping trip or go fishing. Meet up for a road or mountain bike ride. Go for a round of golf or introduce him to disc golf at a nearby park. Whatever activity you choose, make sure to get a picture to memorialize the event. Backyard games If your father is the perpetual entertainer with the grill always ready for action, add some backyard games to the mix. Find or make a solid wood cornhole game for hours of family fun that won’t damage the planet. Horseshoes is another classic that requires little more than two metal poles and four metal horseshoes. Gardening supplies Whether he’s just recently shown an interest or taught you all you know about gardening while growing up, your dad might appreciate some new gardening supplies to add to his tool shed. If space is tight, get him one of the many new indoor gardening systems where he can grow veggies in the kitchen. For the outdoor gardener, invest in quality and sustainable gloves, organic skin protection and seeds. For yard decor, get solar path lights, a bird bath, bird feeder, bat house, butterfly house, bird house or beehive .  Park pass For the dad who enjoys spending time in nature, make sure he has the access he needs with a park pass. Most passes expire annually, so it could even be a tradition in the making to buy Dad an access pass. For the road-tripper, a national park pass will provide access to parks and monuments across the country.  Check out pass options here . Solar products The sun is a powerful tool for providing energy. Mount a solar panel to the RV or van for continual power on the road. On a smaller scale, get Dad a solar-powered lantern for nights under the stars. For cooking, invest in a solar oven and leave the propane and charcoal at home. Images via Aleksandra , Deborah Breen Whiting , Nicolas J. Leclercq , Gyae Min and Akiragiulia

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12 sustainable gifts to give Dad for Father’s Day

Last-Minute Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

May 5, 2020 by  
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Last-Minute Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

We Earthlings: Earth Day Gifts

March 31, 2020 by  
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Plants to give your loved one this Valentine’s Day

February 7, 2020 by  
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Valentine’s Day is a time to shower your loved ones with thoughtful gifts to let them know how much they mean to you. While jewelry, chocolate and roses have traditionally been associated with the holiday, that special person will surely appreciate a gift that lasts longer — a houseplant. There are so many options of colorful plants that give the gift of fresh air and reminders of your love for years to come. Plus, houseplants are a sustainable, zero-waste option the planet will appreciate, too. Here are some ideas that could make this Valentine’s Day romantic and also thoughtful for both your partner and the planet. Heartleaf Philodendron When you decide to give a living plant for Valentine’s Day, it makes sense to choose one with heart-shaped leaves. There are around 200 varieties of philodendron, so look for one labeled ‘Heartleaf’ or ‘Sweetheart’. Not only does it fit the theme of the holiday, but it’s very easy to care for and keep happy. The heartleaf philodendron requires low to medium light and is forgiving if you forget to water it occasionally. Related: How to make an enchanting terrarium necklace to keep or give as a gift Cyclamen While the heartleaf philodendron does not produce a bloom, the cyclamen produces an attractive display of papery flowers with a heart-like shape. Standard colors are pink, red, burgundy or white, but there are many hybrids available. The flowering cyclamen blooms in the winter, which is perfect for Valentine’s Day, and it will re-bloom year after year with proper care. It is a bit of a fussy plant, preferring controlled temperatures and precise watering. Hoya Kerrii This ‘sweetheart’ plant is the perfect gift with distinctively heart-shaped leaves. Although the Hoya kerrii is often sold as a single-potted leaf, you can obtain this as a plant, too. Like most succulents , it has low-maintenance requirements in low light and moderate temperatures. Green Nephthytis Another evergreen, heart-leaved option is the Green Nephthytis. Fortunately for your recipient, it is easy to care for, and this vine works well in a pot on a bookcase or in a hanging basket. Anthurium In addition to heart-shaped leaves, the ‘flowers’ are also heart-shaped, so this plant offers double the love. Plus, it’s a striking plant known for its almost fake-looking waxy leaves and vibrant blooms. Provide anthurium with a bright space outside of direct sunlight in a humid environment, and you’ll get a cycle of blooms each year. Related: Valentine’s Day flower deliveries come at a huge cost to the environment Phalaenopsis This type of orchid brings a “wow” factor to your gift, with unique, long-lasting blooms that are available in a variety of colors. Because they typically bloom from late winter well into spring , Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to get a phalaenopsis settled into place. They prefer filtered light and consistent water. Golden Pothos Another “hearty” (or hardy) plant to grow, the Golden Pothos is likely to be around for decades. As a trailing vine, it will thrive on the top of a cabinet or in a hanging basket. Although it prefers bright, indirect light, it will likely adapt in a darker environment or accept fluorescent lighting as its light source. The golden pothos is also forgiving if the watering schedule isn’t quite followed. Succulents Succulents make a great gift, especially on Valentine’s Day. They have the ability to provide tropical appeal without asking for much in the way of care, and they bring a feeling of zen to any space. Succulents make a statement, so giving one as a gift offers an experience for your sweetheart that will last long after the rosebuds would have faded. Seeds or Bulbs If you require a smaller gift, your love interest is in the middle of a move or you’re shipping something across the country, why not consider seeds or bulbs? Especially for those who enjoy gardening, seeds or bulbs will likely deepen a connection between your sweetheart and you based on your thoughtfulness. You can also plant the seeds or bulbs and allow your gift to grow with the seasons. For example, tulips likely won’t be above the soil level for several more weeks, but your loved one will think of you when those plants finally bloom. Daffodils and crocus are two options that might be blooming as the holiday arrives, depending on where you live. As you shop for plants this Valentine’s Day, check with your local nurseries for advice about what plants to purchase and how to care for them. One benefit of shopping locally is that many selections will already be potted, eliminating the plastic packaging and pots. Of course, there are many online merchants who ship plants and aim to minimize waste, so do your research and email companies if you have any questions. Images via Shutterstock

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Plants to give your loved one this Valentine’s Day

Eco-Friendly Gifts for Women

December 11, 2019 by  
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Gifts for Dogs: Guide to Safe and Sustainable Pet Products

December 4, 2019 by  
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An eco-friendly gift guide for Fathers Day

June 12, 2019 by  
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This Father’s Day, give your dad a gift he will not only love, but one that also won’t hurt the planet nor gather dust on his shelf: quality time together! Here are a few ideas of ways to get outside and celebrate with the father figure in your life as well as some eco-friendly gadgets he will enjoy when you aren’t together. Visit a national park together June is one of the best times to visit one of the country’s national parks . Whether your dad is a serious hiker or more of a couch potato, he will love getting some fresh air and seeing a beautiful new landscape together. Most parks have options for easy day trips, walking tours and more intense hikes. Some have visitors centers, museums and cafes, and many have short paved trails that are accessible for a wider variety of ability levels . Related: How National Parks benefit the environment Here are a few popular parks for Father’s Day: Acadia National Park, Maine This park has miles of rugged coastline that can be too cold for most people during the rest of the year but are beautiful during the summer. Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming Located near Yellowstone National Park, this park has gorgeous mountain vistas and overlook sites. It is popular in the summertime for mountaineering, climbing, hiking and walking. Shenandoah National Park, Virginia Only a few hours from Washington D.C., this park is gorgeous even from a car. There are a number of hikes and waterfall spots for different ability levels, plus you and your dad can brag about hiking part of the Appalachian Trail together. For more ideas, check out the National Parks Service’s Father’s Day Guide . Pick your own strawberries June is peak strawberry season in much of the U.S., and it’s a fun group activity with sweet treats along the way. Bring the loot home and make fresh strawberry shortcake for a Father’s Day dessert! Here is a guide to where you can go strawberry picking in different states. Make sure to call ahead to confirm that the farm is open, has strawberries left and is still offering a pick-your-own program this year. Give the gift of knowledge This year, take your father to a movie about the environment or nature, like The Biggest Little Farm . Not only will it allow you to spend quality time together, but you will learn something new about our planet. If your dad is interested, check out local events or talks about climate change and participate in local activism together! Sign up for a road race If you and your dad have a goal to be more active, exercise is a great way to spend quality time together while staying healthy . Research races in your area and pick one that works with your schedule and abilities. The entrance fee typically goes to help charities or medical research. Stick with a 5K or less if you’re a beginner — that is about 3.2 miles. If you’re more advanced, you can look for a 10K or higher. Related: 8 tips to make your exercise routine more eco-friendly Buy a bike tune-up Does your dad like to bike? Maybe he bikes to work, just on the weekends or very little at all, but we’ll bet his bike could use a tune-up to make sure it’s in the best and safest shape possible. Rent canoes or kayaks Now that the weather is nice, spend some time together as a family and rent canoes, kayaks or paddle boats. Many lakes and rivers have rental companies where you can pay by the hour or by the day. If you’re feeling even more adventurous, you could look at places where you can fish, too. Snag tickets to a sports game or concert Spend your money on an experience instead of an item. Do some research to find out if your dad’s favorite sports team or band is in town, and buy tickets to go with him. Plan a customized rainwater harvesting system If your dad loves to garden, get him a customized rainwater harvesting system. Many companies will take the time to learn about your dad’s space and needs and send an easy, customized kit to set it up. You can also try the DIY route . Get environmental gadgets for Dad Before buying more stuff for your dad, ask him what he wants. A good way to cut down on waste is by buying only something that he would really use. Otherwise, here are some good ideas: App-controlled light bulbs Does anyone else have a dad who is constantly reminding you to turn off the lights when you leave a room? Get your tech-savvy dad this app-controlled light bulb that lasts up to 27 years and uses just 10 percent of the energy needed for a conventional bulb. He can set timers for his schedule and say goodbye to the days of following the kids around and turning off lights after them. Swim shorts that save the sea These swimming shorts are made from 100 percent recycled plastic and are SPF 45+. Each design tells a story about ocean pollution , and they are available in matching Father + Son sizes. Grill tools made from recycled hockey sticks Is your dad a grill master and a sports fan? This California-based company recycles used hockey sticks to make unique grill utensils. According to the website: “We all know somebody (perhaps ourself) whose burgers always come off the grill looking like hockey pucks. They just don’t have the right tools.” Stainless steel coffee mug If your dad is like mine, he drinks a lot of coffee . Get him a sophisticated stainless steel coffee mug that he can take with him on the go or bring to coffee shops. Most shops offer a small discount for bringing your own mug, and some cities like Berkeley, California are piloting a program to start charging customers for using disposable coffee cups, just like plastic bags. Related: The problem with coffee pods and the eco-friendly alternatives to use instead Sustainable socks Put a twist on the typical gift for dad and buy him something from a sustainable brand. Check out the sock choices at Organic Basics . Organic wine Research the vineyards near you or your dad and find out which ones use organic, sustainable or biodynamic methods on their vineyard. After confirming its environmental impact, gift Dad with an eco-friendly bottle of wine. Via Earth 911 Images via Shutterstock

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An eco-friendly gift guide for Fathers Day

Mysterious Black Villa is to be tucked in the lush forests just outside of Moscow

June 12, 2019 by  
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There are few things we love more than dark cabins embedded into lush evergreen forests, and this tiny structure is no exception. The Black Villa in the Forest, designed by Russian architectural firm Archslon, has a certain air of mystery to it that is enhanced by its off-grid location just outside of bustling Moscow. The tiny cabin is a low-lying rectangular volume comprised of two blocks with an inner courtyard separating the two spaces. The entrance is through a small open area, which runs from the front of the house to the back. Related: Black charred-timber home embraces forest views in Zürich The front of the cabin is an elongated, open-air deck, or what the architects call a “bypass gallery,” that runs the length of one of the main blocks. The space is lined with a series of thin columns, giving a touch of modernity to the structure. The compact square footage and height was a strategic decision made to conserve as many existing trees as possible during construction. Clad in jet-black timber, the home was also designed to blend into its natural surroundings. The main living area is illumined by natural light thanks to a full wall of floor-to-ceiling windows. Along with providing panoramic views of the picturesque scenery, the glazed wall creates a strong, continual connection to the home’s forestscape surroundings. The two blocks separate the home into two living spaces: public and private. On one side of the cabin is the living room and open kitchen. On the other end is the master bedroom that is connected with another small room that can be used as a small office or library. Like the living space, the master bedroom has fully glazed walls, further integrating the surrounding nature into the cabin’s interior. + Archslon Via Archdaily Images via Archslon

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Mysterious Black Villa is to be tucked in the lush forests just outside of Moscow

9 ways to have an eco-friendly Valentine’s Day

February 8, 2019 by  
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While there is no truth to the rumor that Hallmark invented Valentine’s Day, there is no denying that many people think of it as a manufactured holiday designed to sell cards, flowers and chocolate. Every February 14th, millions of people buy cards and roses, and drop a ton of cash on diamonds, gold and silver. In 2019, Americans are expected to spend almost 20 billion dollars for the romantic holiday, and that breaks down to nearly $150 a person. All of that consumer spending leads to a lot of waste . A holiday dedicated to love shouldn’t be about how much money you spend. You can still do a lot of romantic things that don’t destroy your budget and the environment. Rethink your chocolate choices Instead of picking up a last minute box of chocolates from the nearest convenience store, plan in advance to buy organic or local chocolate. Then, opt for minimal packaging instead of heart-shaped boxes or plastic molds. Go green with your Valentine’s cards Even though everything seems to be digital these days, more than 180 million paper cards are still exchanged on Valentine’s Day. Paper mills use huge amounts of water and emit loads of chemicals, not to mention, the trees that have to die to make these cards. Even recycled cards will emit methane when they decompose in a landfill. This year, skip the traditional paper card and make one yourself out of old magazines or give a card made from plantable seed paper. You can also send a custom E-Card or chalk a sidewalk where you know your significant other will see it. Related: 6 ways to reuse your Valentine’s Day roses Pick organic bouquets The flower industry is surprisingly destructive when it comes to the environment because of the heavy pesticide use. So, minimize your impact this Valentine’s Day by giving your loved one an organic bouquet or pick some flowers out of your own garden or visit the local farmer’s market. If you do visit your local farmer’s market, that is also a great place to find local, seasonal treats instead of buying something that’s been shipped from thousands of miles away. Stick to vintage jewelry There are numerous environmental and human rights problems that come from mining gold and diamonds. So, instead of buying brand new jewelry, opt for a vintage piece that makes a statement. Or, consider something that has been made from recycled metal, paper or other repurposed materials. Skip the restaurant Many of us look at Valentine’s Day as an excuse to dine out at a fabulous restaurant and drop a little extra cash. However, there is nothing more romantic than making a meal together at home in your own kitchen. Not only is cooking a meal at home better for your wallet, but it is also better for the environment because it will mean less food waste and no to-go boxes. Donate to a cause Instead of exchanging gifts or indulging with an expensive night out, you can go eco-friendly this Valentine’s Day by making a donation to an environmental cause or animal shelter in your loved one’s name. Or, you can go further than a donation and save an animal from a shelter by giving a shelter dog or cat as a gift. Just make sure that your significant other actually wants a pet. Related: Green Valentine gifts for Earth-loving sweethearts Make your own bath products A hot bubble bath with your Valentine is a great way to spend the evening, but there is no need to buy bath and body products from chain stores or big box stores. Instead, make your own bath salts, bath bombs, sugar scrubs or bath oils. There are plenty of recipes on the internet and most of them use natural ingredients. Plant a tree Skip the cut flowers this Valentine’s Day and instead plant a tree together as an ongoing reminder of your love and your relationship. If you aren’t ready for a tree, you can opt for a plant. And, if you still want to see beautiful flowers on the holiday, visit a botanical garden or nature reserve and take a romantic stroll. Use eco-friendly protection and undies Go green in the bedroom this Valentine’s Day with vegan condoms from companies like Sustain Natural, Glyde, L. or Lovability. Traditional condom companies aren’t very forthcoming with their ingredients, so we don’t know how long it takes for them to biodegrade. So, to stay eco-friendly this Valentine’s Day, go vegan — at least in the bedroom. Via Sierra Club Images via Sharon McCutcheon , Shutterstock

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