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20 posts from May 2013

May 15, 2013

6 Must-Have Resources for Cyclists

Bike commuter tipsTo continue our celebration of Bike to Work Week, we've collected a slew of info-packed articles to help you hit the road.

1.) How to Pick the Perfect Bike: We'll share six things you should know before buying a commuter bike.

2.) How to Deal with Bad Weather: If you're committed to year-round bike commuting, check out our tips for dealing with rain, snow, or cold weather.

3.) Tips for Female Cyclists: In the U.S., female cyclists are the minority on the road. Here's how we can change that.

4.) How to Become a Bike Commuter: Are you new to two-wheeled transport? Follow these seven steps to stay safe and comfortable on the road.

5.) How to Be More Productive: Research suggests that biking to work improves memory and the ability to multitask. Find out how much physical activity it takes to make an impact.

6.) Tips for Trail Biking: If you're not satisfied with weekday cycling, check out our advice for making the most of designated mountain trails.

--Image by istockphoto/olaser

May 14, 2013

Charge Your Phone While Cycling

The AtomThere are many reasons why biking to work rules. You save money, eliminate the stress of parking, get in a quick workout, and now, thanks to Aaron Latzke and David Delcourt, you can even charge your cell phone using kinetic energy generated from your ride! Yeah, we know, pretty awesome.

The Kickstarter campaign for the Siva Cycle Atom was launched a few weeks ago, and with only a few days left to pre-order, the project has already seen more than $110,000 pledged by 1,200 backers. Needless to say people are pretty excited. The Atom, which reportedly weighs about as much as a banana, is a small device that can be attached to the back wheel of your bicycle. While you pedal, the Siva Cycle Atom converts the kinetic energy into electronic energy that charges up the Atom. You can choose whether to charge your gadget (phone, ipod, etc.) directly while riding or store the energy generated in the battery pack to charge your electronics when you finish your ride. So as long as you have your bike, you can rest assured that you won't be caught without a battery charge.

For more information about the Siva Cycle Atom, check out the video below by the creators or head over to official Kickstarter project site. 

Continue reading "Charge Your Phone While Cycling " »

May 13, 2013

Discounted Bikes for Sierra Club Members

Sierra Club bikeIt's time to kick off Bike to Work Week, and this year we've got the perfect ride. That's right, we're talking about our very own limited-edition, not-available-forever Sierra Club bicycle.

Made by PUBLIC bikes, the leader in European-style rides, our custom bicycle is avaliable in two styles to fit the needs of every rider. The first option is PUBLIC's C7 model, which offers a step-thru "Dutch style" frame, ideal for riders wearing skirts or dresses. The PUBLIC V7 model, our second option, boasts a sloped diamond frame design. Both models come in bright grass-green and feature the Sierra Club's logo on the rear fender and head tube, as well as our slogan on either side of the down tube. Click here for more information on this nice ride and to get your own today.

Continue reading "Discounted Bikes for Sierra Club Members" »

May 09, 2013

How Rachel Carson Are You?

Rachel CarsonRachel Carson grew up near a glue factory, was a bestselling author before her seminal Silent Spring, and is often called the "mother of the environmental movement."

Curious, empathetic, courageous, Carson pursued her dreams and her gut, ultimately shepherding hard truths into the national consciousness.

It's a lot of live up to, but check off the following simple facts to see how much you share with a person integral to our modern pursuit of a green life. (And if you haven't already, check out our John Muir quiz.)

The Rachel Carson Checklist

You ...

  1. ... have a late May birthday.
  2. ... hail from Pennsylvania.
  3. ... got your love of nature from your mom.
  4. ... grew up near a coal-fired power plant.
  5. ... feel called to be a writer.
  6. ... have been known as a bit of loner.
  7. ... have studied English and biology.
  8. ... have a degree in zoology.
  9. ... have a deep affinity for the sea.
  10. ... have had an article published in a newspaper or magazine.
  11. ... have financially supported your parents and siblings.
  12. ... work to encourage natural wonder in children.
  13. ... have worked as an editor.
  14. ... have worked as a marine biologist.
  15. ... have worked for the federal government.
  16. ... have testified before Congress.
  17. ... avoid pesticides.
  18. ... have been affected by breast cancer.
  19. ... believe people are part of the natural world, not masters of it.
  20. ... have read Silent Spring.
  21. ... want to change the world.

Bonus point: Your middle name is Louise.

See how you scored:

Continue reading "How Rachel Carson Are You?" »

May 08, 2013

6 Great Gifts for Moms

Happy Mother's Day! I love you! Love is unlimited, but money and time aren't always as abundant. With Mother's Day fast approaching, many of us are scrambling to find a gift that shows our love, but not our lack of resources. Whether you're restricted by a tight budget or you're just low on spare time, we've got a few gift ideas that will make your mom smile.

Gifts on the Go If you're flush with cash but don't have a second to spare, a few clicks will put one of these products en route to your mother.

  • Spread the love around by giving one of these upcycled gifts: Purchase a recycled candle holder that helps homeless mothers in Chicago or a recycled necklace that helps support impoverished Ugandan women.

Gifts on a Budget If your pockets are empty but you're full of creativity, go the DIY route this year.

Continue reading "6 Great Gifts for Moms" »

May 03, 2013

Dialed In

Smartphones have become our mailboxes, maps, cameras, clocks, calendars, books, and music players. In that spirit of multipurpose minimalism, we went on the hunt for some eco-friendly cell accessories. 

House of MarleyWhether you're pumping reggae or Rachmaninoff, the durable Zion In-Ear Headphones from HOUSE OF MARLEY keep the bass deep and the beats clean. If a call interrupts your groove, answer via a center button and mic embedded onto the Rasta-threaded cord.These earbuds are made from sustainable wood and recyclable aluminum  and come packaged in recycled paper and plastic. The audio-goods company, created in partnership with Bob Marley’s family, donates 5% of its profits to 1Love, a nonprofit that funds green initiatives. $100 Biolite

Finally, a way to charge up while backcountry camping: With the CampStove from BIOLITE, you can warm your hands on the same fire that charges your phone. The 33-ounce thermoelectric gadget needs no gas. Just stuff in some twigs, set 'em on fire, and plug in. $130

T-ReignA splash of water can make a smartphone dumb. Keep yours high and dry by strapping it into the nylon ProCase by 
T-REIGNThe rugged cocoon is made via a zero-waste manufacturing process by a company that recently switched its packaging to be more minimal. $35
Goal Zero

The Guide 10 Plus Adventure Kit from GOAL ZERO, a company that claims to be the world's largest manufacturer of portable solar products, charges your phone (or tablet) anytime the sun shines. After dark, juice up with the kit's four rechargeable batteries — they come in a pack that doubles as an LED flashlight. $120

InnovezA phone case may seem like just another unnecessary thing to buy. But when you consider that a naked cell is much more likely to break than a protected one (remember, its outsides are made of glass), a cover starts to look like an ecological investment. The slim, stylish, and biodegradable Interchangeable iPhone 5 Case from INNOVEZ sports bright-colored style and two layers of buffering to prevent an early death knell for your cell. If you haven’t upgraded to the 5 yet, don’t worry: Innovez makes degradable cases for all versions of the iPhone. $25

--Avital Andrews

May 02, 2013

Schmear Campaign: The Best Eco-Spreads

Spreads have come a long way from the days of instant-soup packets mixed with sour cream. Animate your Ak-Mak with these eco-friendly slathers. 

Black Bean Hummus

The Sweet and Spicy Black Bean Hummus from EAT WELL ENJOY LIFE is a low-fat pate made with corn, pineapple, red peppers, pecans, chipotle chilies, and a medley of spices, all without GMOs. Michelle Dudash, a Cordon Bleu-certified chef and registered dietician who wrote Clean Eating for Busy Families, loves this particular flavor and admires the brand for its unique taste combinations and eco-values: The PET plastic packaging is easily recyclable, and the paperless company recycles all of its waste. About $5 for 10 ounces

Justin's Nut ButterJUSTIN'S Honey Almond Butter, creamy and sweet, goes perfectly on everything from rice cakes to bananas, says Amie Valpone, a Manhattan nutritionist who runs the Healthy Apple blog. To give the butter texture, she sometimes sprinkles it with ground flaxseed. The spread is high in protein, comes in a recycled-plastic, BPA-free jar, and doesn't have genetically modified anything — the only ingredients are California-grown almonds, sugar, honey, sea salt, and palm oil, which the company sources from a sustainable farm. Justin's uses mostly organic ingredients. About $9 for 16 ounces
Organic Sesame Butter

The Premium Organic Sesame Butter from GOLDEN MILLSTONE is made from just a single rare ingredient: sesame seeds harvested by small organic farms in Ethiopia, slow-roasted at temperatures low enough to qualify them as a raw food, then ground on a 90-year-old millstone. The nutty, nutritious spread is packed with those fatty acids that are hard for vegetarians to get, plus protein and antioxidants. Use the sesame butter right out of the glass jar as you would peanut butter, or mix it into dips, smoothies, or salad dressings. $8 for 14 ounces 

Continue reading "Schmear Campaign: The Best Eco-Spreads" »

Cat + Owl = BFFs?

Talk about an odd couple. Two years after we first shared a video of Fum the cat frolicking with Gebra the barn owl, the celebrity critters remain BFFs, with a shared website, YouTube channel, and Facebook page to prove it. 

What could explain the Spanish duo's unlikely affection? Some believe it's because they've been buddies almost since birth. They also share an instinct to prey on rodents.

Good luck trying not to "awww" over this adorable footage of Fum leaping and pawing at Gebra, who responds with a few pecks when playtime gets too rough.


Read More:

Continue reading "Cat + Owl = BFFs?" »

May 01, 2013

Ask Mr. Green: Paper Towels or Hand Dryers?

Ask Mr. GreenHey Mr. Green,

Public restrooms often offer two choices: paper towels or blow-drying machines. Which is better for the environment? 

—Brenda in Washington, D.C.

With so many kinds of dryers on the market — RestroomDirect purveys 80-plus models from nine manufacturers — it’s even more complicated than the old paper-or-plastic query (answer: neither, but reusable plastic if you must).

MIT’s recent cradle-to-grave comparison of drying methods gives paper towels a slightly better grade than dryers, except for the super-­efficient Xlerator and Dyson Airblade, which have the lowest impact of all methods by far. (You put your hands in the Dyson, while the Xlerator blasts air out of a nozzle.)

Paper towels are less harmful than electric dryers overall, especially in terms of preventing CO2 emissions. Paper also uses less water than dryers, because so much H2O is needed to generate electricity for their heating elements.

Recycled paper beats virgin paper, of course — but another option, the old-fashioned cloth roll, handily beats most paper and dryers.

But it may be best to simply wash your hands of the whole matter — many people wipe their paws on pants and skirts after getting impatient with dryers anyhow. And here's an idea: Why not carry your own little towel in your pocket or purse instead of firing up dryers or yanking out paper?

And while every bit helps, do keep the debate in perspective: Drive your 25-mile-per-­gallon car to and from a restaurant just a mile away, and you’ll burn through at least 100 times more energy than you will in one session with a dryer or a paper towel in its john. —Bob Schildgen

Got an eco-question? Ask Mr. Green!

Are Grocery Delivery Services Green?

Grocery delivery green drivingIt isn’t easy being green. Sometimes, adopting eco-friendly habits — whether avoiding plastic bags or researching sustainable food options — only seems to add more stress to our already hectic lives.

But one green habit might be as easy as skipping next Sunday’s grocery trip. A study published in the Journal of the Transportation Research Forum reveals that grocery delivery is easier not only on you, but on the planet, too. Using Seattle as a model, engineers at the University of Washington found that delivery service trucks generated 20 to 75 percent less carbon dioxide than personal vehicles driven to and from the grocery store. 

While zero emissions are ideal, grocery delivery offers a conveniently green option for those who don't live walking or biking distance from a store.

It turns out that delivery services also help grocery companies green their wallets. Goodchild and study lead author Ericka Wygonik, a Ph.D. candidate in civil and environmental engineering at the University of Washington, observed that delivery service providers produced up to 90 percent less carbon dioxide if they used routes that delivered to groups of residences, rather than individual households at separate delivery times. 

Continue reading "Are Grocery Delivery Services Green?" »

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