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32 posts from June 2012

June 22, 2012

Q&A: Iso Rabins, Gourmet Hunter-Gatherer

Forget DIY, we're talking FIY- Forage It YourselfIso Rabins, founder of ForageSF, started a foraging group in the Bay Area because he enjoys the sport of getting food in true foodie fashion: straight from the source, not from a factory. Just because it's eco-friendly, doesn't mean it can't be gourmet. In fact, the local community eats it up, literally.

Rabin's Wild Food Walks, where he teaches people urban foraging, are sold out until the end of July. Underground Market, which he started for beginning food entrepreneurs (foragers and otherwise), attracts more than 300 vendors and 50,000 attendees. At Wild Kitchen, a weekly three-course supper club he hosts in a different location each time, 60 participants gather to devour eight courses of artisanal fare.

There are many barriers that beginners in the food business face, but Rabins wants to help enable artisans and the community to connect through food. His latest project? Forage Kitchen, a co-working space for artisanal food entrepreneurs. Sierra caught up with Rabins to find out about his foraging passion and his many undertakings.

Sierra: How did you start foraging for food?

Iso Rabins: Four years ago, I met some mushroom foragers in Northern California near my dad's house in Eureka, and it kinda started from there.

What's your favorite thing to forage?

Wild boar. And abalone. I've really gotten into free diving to catch them.

Continue reading "Q&A: Iso Rabins, Gourmet Hunter-Gatherer" »

June 21, 2012

Q&A: Kenneth Brower Remembers His Father

David Brower

Kenneth Brower's father, David Brower, is widely regarded as one of the greatest environmental activists of his time. The elder Brower became the first executive director of the Sierra Club in 1952 and he spearheaded many of the Club's famous wilderness campaigns. He also founded several environmental organizations, including Friends of the Earth, the League of Conservation Voters, and Earth Island Institute.

To mark the 100th anniversary of the legendary activist's birth, Kenneth Brower put together The Wildness Within: Remembering David Brower (Heyday, 2012), a collection of interviews with some of the people whose lives and careers were changed by his father.

Sierra: What was the impetus behind writing The Wildness Within?

Kenneth Brower: I had a couple. One was the idea that this would be a piece of our centennial celebration; it triggered the whole centennial. I also owed Sierra Club a biography of my father. They've been very generous; I’m 8 years too late. The whole biography’s been intimidating, and I haven’t been able to get to it. I thought that this would start the process. I’m hoping to get some raw material together to get the biography going.

This is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of who could tell this kind of story. I could do sequels one, two, three, and four on the people who did cross paths with my father. These just happened to be the ones who came up first. And the challenge was how to limit this, because I really could have gone on for a long time. I didn’t find them repetitious. I found that everyone had their own angle on my father; each person had such a different personality, and had different ways my father started them off with his mentorship.

What is your earliest memory of your father?  


Continue reading "Q&A: Kenneth Brower Remembers His Father" »

Recipe: Summer Carrot and Date Quinoa Salad

Summer Carrot and Date Quinoa Salad with Basil and Mustard Citrus VinaigretteLooking for a fresh take on mixed greens? Our friends at EcoSalon shared this recipe for a healthy summer salad.

The arrival of summer means the arrival of bags of mixed salad greens at the farmers' market, or of course, your own from your garden. Instead of basing salad recipes off of them though, I like to throw them in as an extra addition to whatever I am making, a complement to the rest of the dish. That’s exactly what they are in this quinoa salad recipe.

Using both red and white quinoa you get a colorful salad that is full of omega 3s and hearty enough that you can eat it as the main dish. The dates and currants give it a sweeter flavor, which is perfect for warmer weather and a meal outside.

Summer Carrot and Date Quinoa Salad with Basil and Mustard Citrus Vinaigrette


Continue reading "Recipe: Summer Carrot and Date Quinoa Salad" »

Green Surfing: Carbon Offsets

Sierra Green Surfer Carbon FootprintIn celebration of June 20th's International Surfing Day, we'll show you how to feel less guilty about hitting the waves (even if you're skipping class or work to do so).

Tip #4: De-carbonate your surfing.

While all this week's tips hopefully lead to this purpose, there's now a single resource for surfers to really study and reduce their impacts.

UK company Decarbonated Sports's mission is to reduce the carbon footprints of our favorite outdoor sports. Its website is full of informative tips on how to reduce, reuse, and recycle within those sports, with a particular emphasis on investing in eco-friendly gear.

Co-founders Rick and Matt are surfers with degrees in surf science and environmental management, respectively, and both are members of the UK's Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment, giving them street cred when helping businesses go carbon neutral and hopefully having other surfers and shapers follow suit.

Find out how to offset carbon at your office on the Green Life!

--Image from iStock / Hayden Wood

June 20, 2012

Green Surfing: Go Clean Up

Sierra Green Beach Clean UpIn celebration of June 20th's International Surfing Day, we'll show you how to feel less guilty about hitting the waves (even if you're skipping class or work to do so).

Tip #3: Join a local beach clean-up crew.

Buying an eco-friendly board is a great first step, but to help keep even more plastic out of the ocean, join your local Sierra Club or Surfrider chapter on one of their regularly scheduled beach clean-up trips. (Also check out the Surfrider website for a slew of celebratory, environmentally friendly events for the June 20th holiday!) 

Or, on flat days, organize your own clean-up crew with your friends or put together your own Meet-Up group.

Find out other ways to green your beach experience on Green Life!

--Image from iStock / Pakkawit Anantaya

Don't Forget These Beach Day Essentials!

Beach day essentialsAre you heading to the coast to celebrate International Surfing Day? Here are six things to bring in your reusable beach bag to keep up your eco-friendly lifestyle at the beach. 

1.) Keep plenty of local, organic fruit and veggies on hand for snacking. Pack sandwiches in a reusable sack, like lunchskins or reusies. Not only do they eliminate the need for plastic bags, but they also come in lots of different designs for your aesthetic pleasure. Much cuter than Ziploc! 

2.) Bring drinks in a reusable water bottle, like KleenKanteen Insulated, which will keep your drink cold while you're lounging in the sun. If you're craving something sweet, make your own eco iced tea or try one of these eco-friendly beverages

3.) Instead of bringing plastic beach toys for the kids, opt for some eco-friendly toys like Zoe B Organic's biodegradable beach toys. All of these sandcastle-building materials are made from corn in Iowa and are perfect for a guilt-free day on the shore.

Continue reading "Don't Forget These Beach Day Essentials!" »

June 19, 2012

Green Surfing: Carpool or Bike to the Beach

Sierra Green Surf RacksIn celebration of June 20th's International Surfing Day, we'll show you how to feel less guilty about hitting the waves (even if you're skipping class or work to do so).

Tip #2: Join a local rideshare or invest in a bike rack.

Not all of us are lucky or rich enough to live within walking distance of the best breaks, so but instead of starting your engines (we're looking at you, Mr. Jeep Wrangler-stuffed-with-more-boards-than-you-need), start or join a local Meet-Up or post an ad on Craigslist to get in on some rideshare action.

Or, provided it's safe for you, buy a sturdy rack or trailer for your bike, and use the ride as your warm-up. Newer models will set you back around $100 but can fit two to three surfboards at a time.  

Just don't drop in on any of the local surf shop owners, and they might let you lock up your extra boards inside.

Check out Green Life's guide to other paddling passions.

--Image from iStock/Mark Pinkerton

June 18, 2012

Ditch Plastic Bags in Style

Reusable bags add earth-friendly flair.San Francisco is ditching plastic bags. Or at least making it inconvenient to use them. The city and county's Checkout Bag Ordinance mandates that stores will not give customers plastic bags, starting October 1. Stores that continue to give customers plastic bags will have to charge at least 10 cents for them.

To prepare city dwellers for the ban, San Francisco's Department of the Environment will host five reusable bag vendor fairs in the next few weeks.

Many cities such as Los Angeles, Toronto, Portland have already parted ways with plastic bags, which may take hundreds years to biodegrade -- they're made from polyethylene, a man-made petroleum derivative that organisms don't recognize as food. It's not a sacrifice to give up the plastic bag either. Despite the perceived convenience, single-use bags are no longer in style.

On the other hand, reusable bags have become a bit of an accessory, a practical piece of art. Do a quick search on Amazon or Overstock and you'll find grocery bags that you definitely want to keep around. But if you're feeling artsy or don't want to spend a dollar, you can always DIY. 

The easy tutorial below shows you how to upcycle a T-shirt into a grocery bag in minutes. Essentially, cut out the sleeves and deepen the neck as if to make a tank top and then sew the bottom shut. Experiment with different tees gathering dust in the bottom drawer. If green fashion is your thing, match your bag with some of our favorite eco-pieces.

Continue reading "Ditch Plastic Bags in Style" »

Pure Refreshment: The Eco-Friendliest Convenience Drinks

You've been told a thousand times not to buy bottled water. But you're on the road and parched, your Hydro Flask is empty, and the gas station's drinking fountain looks like a urinal. On top of that, you want something tasty. Good news: You can douse your thirst — and your guilt — with these eco-suggestions from our panel of beverage experts. 

Vita CocoJULIE SMOLYANSKY is the CEO of Lifeway Foods, the Illinois-based kefir-drink company that her Russian-immigrant father founded in 1986. She's developed soy and organic versions of kefir for her brand, which buys renewable-energy credits to offset 100% of the electricity it uses.

"When I'm on the go and in need of hydration, I look for VITA COCO's Coconut Water. It reminds me of sitting on a beach and enjoying a fresh coconut with the sound of the ocean crashing. Its eco-friendly, BPA-free Tetra Pak keeps the taste fresh, and it's low in sugar and calories but dense in nutrients, including potassium. As a distance runner, I'm always trying to replace electrolytes." About $3 for 17 ounces

EMILY HO is a food writer and educator at Sustainable Foodworks in Los Angeles. Her recipes have been published in the Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Sun, and Hartford Courant. She also teaches people how to make their own beverages. Naked Juice

"I like fresh fruit juices from NAKED JUICE, a brand that partners with the Rainforest Alliance, operates a LEED-certified bottling plant, and uses 100 percent recycled-plastic bottles. Its Pomegranate Blueberry is especially refreshing, with just the right balance of tart and sweet. For an even more ecofriendly and economical thirst quencher, fill a reusable bottle with filtered water, a handful of frozen berries, a slice of lemon, and a sprig of mint." About $3.75 for 15.2 ounces

RAY LACORTE is the head of operations at Choice Organic Teas, the first U.S. tea company to produce fair-trade-certified teas, as well as to earn non-GMO verification. Guayaki Yerba Mate

"When I need a cool, refreshing drink to give me a boost, the Pure Empower Mint flavor from GUAYAKÍ YERBA MATE is easily my first choice. It offers up a smooth, thirst-quenching blend of yerba mate and fresh mint while providing a balanced caffeine fix. Guayakí has received awards for its sustainability practices, and this flavor is certified organic and fair-trade." $1.50 to $3.25 for 16 ounces

LARA BANDLER has helped launch brands such as Vitaminwater, Smartwater, and Zico coconut water. She sits on the marketing panel of BevNet's yearly beverage school, which teaches drink makers how to improve their craft. Gt's Kombucha

"It's not easy to find organic, healthy, grab-and-go beverages that are available nationally, but my favorite of the moment is GT's KOMBUCHA. It's certified organic and sustainably packaged in glass bottles. They also purchase all of their ingredients here in the U.S. I love the complex Raspberry Chia flavor. Its unsweetened juice and purees give it a natural, tart taste that combines well with the earthy flavor and texture of the raw chia seeds." $3.50 to $5 for 16 ounces

DAVID DAFOE's abilities as a "supertaster" have landed him gigs concocting cocktails for Jack Daniel's and Southern Comfort. He founded Flavorman, a beverage-development and ingredient-supply company that helps brands create new products. Ocean Spray drink mix

"To get great flavor and convenience while staying green, I love the White Cran-Peach drink mix from OCEAN SPRAY. I just pop a packet into some tap water and I am in heaven. I can get 10 drinks from a single 1.1-ounce box, which saves significantly on packaging and transportation. They're super to take on vacation and to have at work for a quick drink." About $4 for 1.1 ounces

--reported by Avital Andrews / photos by Lori Eanes

Green Surfing: Eco-friendly Surfboards

Sierra Green SurfboardIn celebration of June 20th's International Surfing Day, we'll show you how to feel less guilty about hitting the waves (even if you're skipping class or work to do so).

Tip #1: Get a new eco-friendly board (or just buy used).

Surfboards are probably the least eco-friendly part of the sport, considering that their polyurethane foam cores, fiberglass wrapping and polyester or epoxy coatings are toxic and petroleum-based, and manufacturing new boards is generally energy-intensive.

But there's a new wave of shapers making durable, high-performance boards that are also greener.

Continue reading "Green Surfing: Eco-friendly Surfboards" »

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