Take a trip to explore natural beauty on the San Juan Islands

September 24, 2021 by  
Filed under Eco, Green, Recycle

As I pick my way between the crazily-shaped logs, to the water of South Beach on San Juan Island, it’s a driftwood lover’s dream come true. Some pieces are propped up to make primitive shelters. I’m here to run a half marathon and see some fellow runners huddled inside these shelters, appreciating the windbreak as we watch gentle gray waves and await our start time. Only an hour off the Washington coast by ferry , the crowds and tall buildings of Seattle seem very far away. Related: Green-roofed vacation home embraces old-growth trees in the San Juan Islands The San Juan Islands include 172 named islands and reefs. But only a handful are well known, even in Washington, and only a few are served by ferry. I recently spent a September weekend exploring San Juan Island on the hunt for nature experiences and a look at island culture. Outdoor adventures My friend and I drove up from Portland and took the ferry from Anacortes to San Juan Island on a Friday morning. Since the road around the island is only 41 miles, we figured we’d have plenty of time to see everything. However, once we started dilly-dallying on island time, the hours evaporated. We started by driving up to Roche Harbor at the north end of the island, where we visited the San Juan Island Sculpture Park . The park covers 20 acres and displays more than 150 works of art , many made from recycled materials like sheep crafted out of old fishing nets. The garden area around the entrance is more manicured, with sculptures surrounded by plantings. But our favorite part was the Whimsey Woods, a forested trail full of art surprises like garlands of old LPs strung between trees, or a strange little outdoor living room with colorful, broken-bottomed chairs arranged around a creepy monkey jack-in-the-box. The park displays an ever-changing collection of work. If you’re an artist, you can find out about submissions here . Visiting a mausoleum is not everybody’s idea of a good time, but Afterglow Vista draws an impressive number of tourists. This mausoleum is the final resting place of John S. McMillin and his family , who monopolized the limestone trade on the west coast in the late 20th century. The huge round structure features seven columns (one broken, to represent life cut short) with a limestone table surrounded by six stone and concrete chairs. The ashes of the family are in the base of those chairs. McMillin was a Mason and the huge structure reflects Masonic symbolism as well as that of various spiritual and architectural traditions. While we didn’t manage to work whale watching into our trip, it’s one of the reasons I most want to return to the San Juan Islands. The Southern Resident Killer Whales who frequent the waters of the islands include three pods: J, K and L. They follow salmon and are most often seen in the summer months. The best ways to view them are from land, on a whale watching cruise or in a kayak. Or you can do like we did and visit the excellent Whale Museum on a rainy afternoon. If you do venture out by boat or kayak, follow these Whale Wise guidelines so you don’t harm or disturb the orcas and other local whales. Lime Kiln Point State Park on the west end of San Juan Island is considered one of the world’s best whale watching spots. Biking , hiking and running are other good ways to get outside and see the island. San Juan Island has both forested and beachy trails. Biking is very popular. Some people bring bikes on the ferry and get around on two wheels. But watch for cars—the roads are narrow and some have little in the way of shoulders. I participated in Orca Running’s annual San Juan Island Half Marathon, which is a fun way to check out the scenery with running support like periodic electrolytes, gels and portable toilets. Visit the lavender farm If you like the smell of lavender , stop at Pelindaba Lavender Farm. When we visited in September, the flowers in the organically certified fields had turned an inky purplish charcoal, rather than the typical purple. Turns out, that’s the time to harvest lavender for its oil. Culinary harvesting happens earlier. We got a lavender education and saw the distilling process in action.  The grounds are open for picnicking and wandering. Pelindaba’s website lists an impressive number of ways the public are invited to use the space free of charge, no reservation necessary: book club meetings, vow renewals, elopements, photo shoots and yoga in the fields. But I found it impossible to leave without a sack full of lavender souvenirs—salve, lip balm, essential oil, dark chocolate lavender sauce, to name a few—as well as, consuming a cup of lavender/lemon sorbet on the premises. Dining out Mike’s Café & Wine Bar is a phenomenal restaurant with a sleek, modern look and an all- plant-based menu. It’s a happening place on a weekend night and draws way more than just the vegan crowd. Locals stop in for Northwest beer and wine. Visitors like me are thrilled to see a big menu of tacos, interesting salads, sandwiches, bowls and fancy hors d’oeuvres. Since the islands are known for seafood, I was drawn to the crabby tacos made with vegan crabby cakes. We also got an appetizer of heirloom tomatoes with plant-based mozzarella and some delicious shishito peppers. The Cask & Schooner Public House also has several clearly marked vegan items, including an eggplant and red pepper spread sandwich, and a chickpea and leek saute. For coffee, we got hooked on the Salty Fox, which is in a big white Victorian house. Not only was the coffee good, but it’s perfectly situated on the harbor to watch the ferries and other boats come and go. Getting around We took our car on the ferry and then drove around the island, as many visitors do. But there are much more eco-conscious ways to go. You can leave a car in Anacortes and walk onto the ferry. Or take Amtrak to Mount Vernon, Washington, then get to Anacortes by Uber or public bus . Once you arrive on San Juan Island, you can get around by shuttle bus, or rent a bike, e-bike, scooter or electric car. Be sure to reserve your ferry passage ahead of time, especially if you’re bringing a car during the high season of June through September. Amy Nesler, stewardship and communications manager for the San Juan Islands Visitor Bureau , would like to see more visitors arrive car-free. Her ideal visitor “patronizes local shops, restaurants and tour operators, while being patient, kind and appreciative of service workers. They respect traffic etiquette, stay on marked trails, leave campsites/picnic areas better than they found them and maintain a respectful distance from wildlife , whether on land or sea.”  Where to stay Islanders are conscious of their island ecosystem, so many hotels have green initiatives. One of the best is the Island Inn at 123 West in Friday Harbor, the main town on San Juan Island.  Once the site of a fuel and storage facility for the local fishing fleet, cannery and ferry, the hotel is now Silver LEED certified. They reuse rainwater, supply extremely lightweight towels and sheets to save on laundry energy and stock refillable bath amenity dispensers to cut down on waste. Plus, they feature a custom blend by San Juan Coffee Roasting Company packed in recyclable materials. If you venture over to Orcas Island, the Pebble Cove Inn & Animal Sanctuary will serve you vegan food and prepare your room using cruelty free, natural cleaning products. You can meet adorable rescue animals like Dolly the mini horse and the Dread Captain Redbeard, a turkey who escaped the brutal American Thanksgiving tradition. Doe Bay Resort & Retreat , also on Orcas Island, offers yoga, massage and outdoor hot tubs. Doe Bay has a long history of being an alternative to the mainstream, from the time a mixed-race couple raised their family on 175 acres in the 1870s to hippie types discovering it in the 1960s and beyond. Photography by Teresa Bergen / Inhabitat

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Take a trip to explore natural beauty on the San Juan Islands

Episode 286: Climate Week revelations and reflections

September 24, 2021 by  
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Plus, TerraCycle’s Loop service will soon offer refillable containers in Walgreens, Krogers stores.

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Episode 286: Climate Week revelations and reflections

The maddening lack of corporate climate advocacy

September 24, 2021 by  
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Businesses that care about climate should spend as much time pushing for policy action as promoting their own commitments.

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The maddening lack of corporate climate advocacy

Which ‘new mobilities’ are good for your community?

September 24, 2021 by  
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New transportation technologies and services can have many different effects on users and communities.

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Which ‘new mobilities’ are good for your community?

6 questions on the future of indoor agriculture

September 24, 2021 by  
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Q & A with Plenty’s co-founder and chief science officer Nate Storey about the companies take on indoor ag profitability, industry collaboration and promising markets in Asia

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6 questions on the future of indoor agriculture

How Maine and Oregon seek to make manufacturers pay for packaging waste

September 24, 2021 by  
Filed under Business, Green, Recycle

Less than half of consumer packaging ultimately gets recycled.

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How Maine and Oregon seek to make manufacturers pay for packaging waste

Morgenfarm proposes vertical farms to replace Berlins Autobahn

September 23, 2021 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Costing 200,000 euros per meter to construct, the 3.2-kilometer (1.9-mile) extension of Berlin’s motorway ring road was always controversial. If completed, it would bring 130,000 cars per day to south and east Berlin by 2022. As the political will to act on the climate crisis builds, the extension is starting to look like an expensive and ugly mistake. Morgenfarm offers a utopian vision for  Berlin’s infrastructure where toxic fumes are replaced by green space and healthy vegetables. Berlin’s A100 motorway partially circles the inner city. It was constructed as part of a campaign in the 1960s to make Germany’s capital a ‘car friendly city.’ The southeastern extension from Sonnenallee and Treptower Park has been the target of several protests. Now, a new concept would turn the excavated path of the motorway into a vertical farm. The proposal hopes to inspire city dwellers with a vision of what’s possible when urban planners stop prioritizing cars. Related: Construction of Europe’s largest vertical farm is underway Campaign leader Perttu Ratilainen is convinced that the ‘ Autobahn ’ belongs to a bygone era. “It feels like we are stuck in the 60s when you hear about new motorways being built, surely we have progressed since then?” Developed by non-profit ‘Think and Do Tank’ Paper Planes e.V., this farm would save water and energy plus reduce the need for long haul transportation involved in conventional agriculture . Major investments are being made in the emerging market of sustainable urban farming, particularly in Asia and the United States. Europe’s largest vertical farm, Nordic Harvest vertical farm in Denmark , was completed in 2021 with 14 stories of stacked edibles. It acts as a living feasibility study for vertical agriculture. Vertical farms  are buffered from external influences (sun, rain, heat or cold extremes), which means they can produce food all year round. Current vertical farms produce fruit, vegetables, edible mushrooms, algae and insects. These farms make more efficient use of resources than conventional industrial agriculture and do not require any pesticides. They provide a reliable supply of fresh and vitamin-rich food for the local city population, even in times of crisis such as the drought conditions Germany has experienced in recent years.  Another crisis this project could address is the housing shortage in Berlin. With the Autobahn repurposed as vertical farming space, the areas next to the road could be used to construct housing. With the upcoming German election, there has again been debate about building housing on Berlin’s most popular park, the repurposed airport Tempelhofer Feld, so freeing up land that roads make unusable could be a big plus for the capital city. Fridays for Future  has announced a strike in Germany on the Friday before the election. Thousands are expected on Sept. 24 for a massive demo in Berlin, calling on politicians to rethink the system we live in and move faster on “Energiewende” and “Mobilitätswende,” the move away from fossil fuels and motor vehicles to better public transport , cycle infrastructure and renewable energy. Rather than a concrete proposal, the Morgenfarm project encourages the space needed to rethink the urban environment. If the Berlin city administration really wants to deal with  climate change , then projects like this should be discussed. What do you think about turning over roads to grow food? Would this approach allow more space for rewilding projects on the edge of the city? Do you have a vision about how Berlin should reconfigure this road-building project? + Morgenfarm Berlin Images via Paper Planes eV

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Morgenfarm proposes vertical farms to replace Berlins Autobahn

ESG is under attack, and that’s a good thing

September 23, 2021 by  
Filed under Business, Green

GreenBiz Default Summary

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ESG is under attack, and that’s a good thing

How employee health and well-being fit into the ESG wheelhouse

September 23, 2021 by  
Filed under Business, Green

The workforce of the future has identified a culture of health as a key factor in career decisions, and investors are increasingly aware that good health is smart business.

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How employee health and well-being fit into the ESG wheelhouse

Overcoming the cold chain isn’t small potatoes

September 23, 2021 by  
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Father Farms is removing reliance on the freezers and fridges for one of America’s favorite snacks.

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Overcoming the cold chain isn’t small potatoes

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