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26 posts from May 2012

May 31, 2012

Exercise Outdoors: Run the Trails

Sierra Trail Running TipsNow that summer is on its way, it's time to take your indoor fitness routines outdoors. We'll show you how.

Tip #3: Skip the treadmill and head for the hills (or a park).

Running indoors helps us feel more in control of our pace and surroundings, but besides the joy of being outside, trail running actually burns more calories and keeps you more agile due to surprising outdoor elements, like unpredictable terrain, rocks, and roots.

Of course, both novice and seasoned road and indoor runners will want to prepare for the transition to the outdoors, so here are five helpful tips:

 

Continue reading "Exercise Outdoors: Run the Trails" »

May 30, 2012

Q & A with Garbology Author Ed Humes

GarbologySierra magazine recently sat down with Pulitzer Prize-winning author Edward Humes to talk about his new book, Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair with Trash (Avery, 2012).

SIERRA: Is there a way that we can change today's convenience mindset of disposable everything and come back to a society with less waste?

Edward Humes: J. Gordon Lippencott, the father of corporate branding, gave us the philosophical statement of what the economy would look like after WWII. It was based on getting people to violate their most basic instinct of survival — to be thrifty — and [embrace the idea] that it was a good thing to get rid of perfectly good usable products and replace them with something new. That was the core of this new economy of abundance. It’s an illusion that things will never run out. We are an experiment on waste as the driver of prosperity. 

Well, we do all seem to want to have the most up-to-date technologies. How can we change that?

With the up-to-date technology of days gone by, you could go to the store and buy a television set and bring it home and you could be assured that if something in it failed or some component was developed that was superior, it could be upgraded. There was a built-in longevity to a lot of our products that has gone away. We’ve accepted this idea that durable goods are no longer durable.

What is the most shocking thing that you discovered?

The whole idea that waste has become such a big part of our economy — that it is our top export. Scrap paper and scrap metal are our highest volume exports. We send more of that to China than anything else. They make stuff out of it and sell it back to us. That casts us in the role of China’s trash compacter.

Continue reading "Q & A with Garbology Author Ed Humes" »

Exercise Outdoors: Open-Water Swimming

Open water swimming tipNow that summer is on its way, it's time to take your indoor fitness routines outdoors. We'll show you how.

Tip #2: Overcome your fear of sharks and anacondas, and take a dip in the sea or a lake.

For those of us lucky enough to live near warmer bodies of water — or for those who don't mind donning a wetsuit — open-water swimming can invigorate your workouts or, at the very least, provide some exercise between bouts of sunbathing.  

It can be daunting if you've never done it before, but there's no need to have triathlon goals to enjoy swimming laps outside. Here are five tips to calm your nerves and push off shore:

Continue reading "Exercise Outdoors: Open-Water Swimming" »

May 29, 2012

Exercise Outdoors: Yoga in the Sun

Outdoor YogaNow that summer is on its way, it's time to take your indoor fitness routines outdoors. We'll show you how.

Tip #1:  Grab your mat and get thee to the beach, a park, or a local rooftop.

Few things are more demoralizing than doing sun salutations indoors when the sun is actually out, or spending two hours of your precious summer days within the confines of a studio. Outdoor yoga is already popular in beach towns and tropical destinations, especially at retreats that combine yoga with other outdoor activities, such as surfing, hiking, and kayaking. A quick Google search can help travelers locate appropriate retreats.

For urbanites, many large yoga outfitters and studios now sponsor public outdoor (and free!) classes, and some major cities, like New York City, are getting in on the action. There are also an increasing number of local studios that offer rooftop classes in places void of green space. If you don't have access to any of these options, you can always grab your mat and take it to your deck or a quiet, flat section of your lawn.

Here are five tips to make your outdoor yoga experience more fun and effective:

Continue reading "Exercise Outdoors: Yoga in the Sun" »

May 24, 2012

Ask Mr. Green: Coal on the Dole

Bob Schildgen is Mr Green

Hey Mr. Green,

Is there a resource that compiles all coal related subsidies, including transportation, property, and other tax and direct subsidies, that can be quantified to a per-megawatt-hour cost?

—James, Richmond, Virginia

As I noted two years ago, puzzling out the subsidies to coal is as about as dicey as navigating through a dark mine tunnel swarming with Velcro-winged bats. The situation hasn’t changed greatly since. Because there is no single resource that totals up all the subsidies, it’s impossible to arrive at a per-megawatt-hour cost. The most clearly stated total is a federal subsidy of $1.358 billion in 2010 to coal, by the U.S. Energy Information Agency (EIA). However, this number is deceptive because it grossly understates the total subsidies, which is why it has been sharply criticized by the Union of Concerned Scientists, among others

The problem with that EIA calculation is that it looks at only five coal-subsidy sources — direct payments, tax advantages, R&D funding, loan guarantees, and federal electric programs — while conveniently ignoring numerous other forms, including low-cost mine leases, tax-free revenue bonds to support construction of coal-fired power plants, subsidies to coal-burning electric power plants, subsidized transportation of coal on federal waterways, and expenditures to police coal pollution and clean up the mess created by coal in the first place. Perhaps more fudgingly, the EIA doesn’t even count tax breaks for coal (or any other energy source) if those same tax benefits are also bestowed on other industries. Nor does it account for state subsidies to coal, such as Kentucky’s $115 million per year. The EIA also makes no attempt to calculate the hidden subsidies in the form of the costs incurred from damage to public health and the environment, which may run to the tens of billions of dollars each year. This damage includes mercury poisoning, lungs damaged by power plant emissions, and lives and landscapes destroyed by everything from mining itself to pollution from shipping.

Even the EIA’s latest lowball estimates admit that the federal government pays a direct subsidy of $4.18 billion for all fossil fuels, and $6.64 for biofuels, mostly ethanol, which itself requires a huge amount of fossil fuel to produce. But if you think that total of $10.82 billion a year is a steep price to pay to suffocate in global warming gases and pollution, consider that worldwide subsidies for all fossil fuels exceed $500 billion, according the International Energy Agency.

Got a question? Ask Mr. Green!

 

--photo by Lori Eanes

Memorial Day Feast: Peanut Butter Cookies

Peanut butter cookie recipeThis week, we asked the editors at EcoSalon to recommend their favorite recipes for a Memorial Day feast. Celebrate a long, warm-weather weekend with four green dishes that are easy to pack up for a picnic or bring to a barbecue.

Recipe #4: Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Cookies

Short on time and ingredients? These gluten-free cookies are as easy as a jar of peanut butter sitting in your pantry and an egg in the refrigerator. They can also be made quick enough that you can have them finished before your morning coffee break (no really, we tried it), and the end result is a perfect combination of sweet and salty.

Ingredients:

1 cup crunchy, salted peanut butter
1/3 cup organic turbinado sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup chocolate chips

Directions:

In a bowl, combine egg, sugar, and vanilla extract. Add in peanut butter and chocolate chips and stir together.

Scoop out about a tablespoon of dough and roll into a ball. Place on greased baking sheet and flatten carefully with a fork.

Bake at 350F for 12 to 16 minutes.

Let sit for a couple of minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack.

--Anna Brones / Image courtesy of Anna Brones

This recipe originally appeared as part of EcoSalon's Sunday recipe series.

May 23, 2012

Memorial Day Feast: Superfood Salad

Beets for a superfood saladThis week, we asked the editors at EcoSalon to recommend their favorite recipes for a Memorial Day feast. Celebrate a long, warm-weather weekend with four green dishes that are easy to pack up for a picnic or bring to a barbecue.  

Recipe #3: Beet, Orange, and Spinach Superfood Salad

Here’s a gorgeous and tasty salad that’s packed with "superfoods" to keep your immune system in top form. Enjoy it for a light lunch or dinner or serve it to guests. It’s sure to inspire your palate.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

4 small-medium red beets, scrubbed, trimmed, and drizzled with a little olive oil
4 small handfuls of baby spinach
2 juicy navel or blood oranges
2 tablespoons juice from the oranges
2 tablespoons white wine or champagne vinegar
7 tablespoons mild vegetable oil
Salt & pepper to taste
Toasted walnuts for garnish
Avocado slices for garnish

Note: use organic, local ingredients when possible.

Directions:

 

Continue reading "Memorial Day Feast: Superfood Salad " »

May 22, 2012

Memorial Day Feast: Sweet Potato Chips

Sweet potato chipsThis week, we asked the editors at EcoSalon to recommend their favorite recipes for a Memorial Day feast. Celebrate a long, warm-weather weekend with four green dishes that are easy to pack up for a picnic or bring to a barbecue.  

Recipe #2: Sweet Potato Chips

Oh, the deliciously clever ways we have found to sneak in our veggies! Chips made from vegetables are for sure a healthier alternative to the processed, fried and sodium-packed versions commonly found corrupting grocery store aisles near and far. Luckily, our options have expanded in recent years, with the market now offering a variety of baked and low-sodium chips to choose from, including the highly popular Terra Chips that, albeit fried, are made of a mixture of taro, sweet potato, yuca, batata, parsnip, and ruby taro.

However, when I want a more rustic version of vegetable chips that allow me to get the best of both worlds — baked and vegetable-based (as opposed to corn-based) — I like to make them myself using whatever vegetables I have on hand. It’s the perfect way to finish off any leftover vegetables from the week that are rounding their last leg. Root vegetables work best, because they hold their shape — using the same instructions below, experiment with beets, carrot, zucchini, and even kale.

Continue reading "Memorial Day Feast: Sweet Potato Chips" »

May 21, 2012

Cyclists Draw Animal Shapes Over Tokyo

 

A group of cycling cartographers in Tokyo are creating a zoo of bike routes. Using a Sony GPS device Elephant outline called a nav-u, they ride around the city in paths shaped like the outlines of animals seen from above. A whale and a sea lion are the most recent additions to the 15-strong menagerie of rides. Can someone get this going stateside?

HS_JakeAbrahamson (4)--Jake Abrahamson is the editorial assistant at Sierra

Video and image courtesy of Tokyo Zoo Project

Memorial Day Feast: Marinated Cilantro Cucumbers

Marinated cilantro cucumbersThis week, we asked the editors at EcoSalon to recommend their favorite recipes for a Memorial Day feast. Celebrate a long, warm-weather weekend with four green dishes that are easy to pack up for a picnic or bring to a barbecue.  

Recipe #1: Marinated Cilantro Cucumbers

Pickling is in, but quite frankly, who has the time?

I grew up on a steady Swedish summer diet of marinated cucumbers, always kept on hand by my grandmother. They remind me of her kitchen, and unlike pickles, only have to sit for an hour for the flavor to absorb. The classic version uses dill, but for a slightly different taste that’s perfect for warm weather, cilantro hits the spot.

Light and refreshing, you’ll find that this recipe will soon be a staple.

Slice the cucumbersIngredients

  • 1 English cucumber
  • 2 tablespoons organic cane sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 cup water
  • pinch of ground pepper
  • 2 pinches salt

Directions

Remove the ends of the cucumber, and thinly slice.

In a bowl combine vinegar and water and stir in sugar until dissolved. Add in pepper, salt and cilantro.

Place in sliced cucumber and let chill in refrigerator for one hour before eating.

Store in the refrigerator.

--Anna Brones / images courtesy of EcoSalon

This recipe originally appeared as part of EcoSalon's Sunday recipe series. Check out the full series here


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