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19 posts from March 2013

March 29, 2013

Essay Contest: What Does Wilderness Mean to You?

Wilderness essay contestAre you a young writer who with a passion for the outdoors? Enter our essay contest for a chance to be featured in Sierra magazine!

The Sierra Club's National Wilderness Essay Contest

It has been nearly 25 years since Bill McKibben declared “the end of nature.” What he really meant was the end of wilderness — the idea of wilderness. In the era of climate change, he claimed, we can no longer conceive of a natural world that is free of human influence — a pristine wilderness where our spirits can awaken to authentic nature.

Generations Y, Z and beyond will never know that pristine wilderness; they will know only what humans have created. And the outlook has only gotten worse: in 2005, Richard Louv warned us that “nature deficit disorder” was on the rise. Today’s children, he worried, spend far more time in front of screens than they spend in the woods, and end up radically disconnected from the natural world. They may care about biodiversity, sustainability, and environmental justice—but do they care about wilderness?

So we pose the question: What does wilderness mean to the millennial generation? Does the idea of wilderness have any relevance for twenty-first century environmentalists? Is there still a case to be made for wilderness? If so, how can we make that case?

We invite essays on the idea of wilderness from writers under 30 years old. Visit the contest website to find more instructions and the entry form.

March 26, 2013

4 Ways to Green Your Closet This Spring

Picture 14Spring is here! And many of us may be tempted to head out to our favorite stores to stock up on those lightweight, brightly colored, open-toed, and overpriced "essentials." But before you empty your wallet on spring shopping, take a look at these tips to minimize cost and maximize green.

1. DIY: Braided Scarves

Many of us have tons of old T-shirts in our closets. Whether they are from college sports teams or some retreat you went to 10 years ago, they can still be of use. Make these shirts into awesome braided scarves for those cool spring days. All you need are some old T-shirts, a ruler, scissors, and iron-on adhesive (which can be found at your local convenience store for about $3). Check out the tutorial below by YouTube Guru AnneorShine. And for those of you who can't wait until summer to whip out the shorts, check out our DIY: 10 Summer Shorts You Can Make at Home.

Continue reading "4 Ways to Green Your Closet This Spring " »

March 22, 2013

Green Careers: Environmental Law

Environmental lawDo you have brilliant writing and public speaking skills? A sharp, analytical mind? You might find success as an environmental lawyer. Today, find out what practicing environmental law entails and tips for getting your career started. If you're still not sure which green profession to pursue, make sure to take our quiz

Green Careers: Environmental Law

Environmental lawyers focus on litigation dealing with a wide range of concerns, from air and water quality to wildlife protection. They develop policies and engage in lawsuits to prevent environmental damage, compel waste cleanup, tighten regulations, or compensate individuals for harm due to environmental contamination. They're crucial advocates, preventing the government and corporations from engaging in practices that could hurt the environment and local residents. But an environmental attorney might also represent government agencies and businesses by working on environmental impact planning and sustainable growth and development. Cases could involve a builder’s use of toxic paint; a company’s contamination of groundwater used for drinking; or an irrigation system’s harmful impacts on endangered fish species.

Continue reading "Green Careers: Environmental Law" »

Green Careers: Sustainability Consulting

Sustainability consultingDid you take our green career quiz on Monday? If so, did you score mostly d's? You'll probably excel as a sustainable planning consultant. Read below to learn how to launch a career helping companies both succeed and practice environmental responsibility.

Green Careers: Sustainability Consulting

You don’t need to dirty your hands reporting on an oil spill, tilling an urban vegetable garden, or monitoring Sumatran tiger populations to protect the planet. As a sustainable planning consultant, you can minimize harm to the environment from a corporate conference room. 

Sustainable planning consultants research and implement cost-saving strategies to reduce a company’s environmental impact. They help evaluate sustainable development requirements and create and implement strategies to help companies go green. To do this, a sustainable planning consultant might help a company choose an alternate form of energy, like solar panels, or start an initiative to reduce the company's carbon footprint by 25 percent in five years.

Continue reading "Green Careers: Sustainability Consulting" »

March 21, 2013

Green Careers: Wildlife Biology

SparrowPassionate about protecting animals and their habitats? Curious about different animal species and the complex relationships that make up an ecosystem? You might find your calling as a wildlife biologist. Stay tuned this week for more green career profiles. If you haven’t already, take our quiz to discover which eco-profession could offer the best fit for you.

Green Careers: Wildlife Biology

Wildlife biologists research the characteristics and habitats of animals. Some do primarily office work, but if you’d rather work outdoors, check out field biologist or research biologist positions, which involve studying species’ feeding, mating, and/or social habits in their natural habitats. Fieldwork could also include collecting specimens, which the researcher will take back to a lab. There, he or she might dissect dead animals to understand their anatomy or how parasite might be affecting a wildlife population.  Lab work could also entail data analysis using computer software.

Continue reading "Green Careers: Wildlife Biology" »

March 20, 2013

Green Careers: Urban Farming

CarrotFor Green Lifers seeking to align their career compass, we've dedicated this week to profiling different eco-professions. Yesterday we learned about environmental journalism. If you took our quiz on Monday and scored mostly b's, then read below to learn more about urban farming, your green career fit.

Green Careers: Urban Farming

Urban farmers grow, process, and distribute food in or around a city, allowing its residents easy access to fresh, seasonal produce. Some farmers raise animals, such as chickens or fish. Often found on rooftops, patios, formerly vacant lots, and even indoors, urban farms can play a crucial role in improving food access and food security in underserved neighborhoods with few grocery stores. Farms also add greenery to stark cityscapes; reduce harmful runoff; and help counteract "urban heat islands" —  metropolitan areas that, due to human activity, are significantly warmer than nearby rural communities. Community farms can provide income and build job skills for disadvantaged, at-risk youth.

An urban farmer’s day usually begins early in the morning and could include feeding animals, delivering food to restaurants and caterers, selling food at farmers’ markets, bookkeeping, marketing to potential clients — and of course, watering seedlings, fertilizing, weeding, planting, and harvesting. Some urban farmers are involved in local food justice advocacy and policy, which might involve planning and participating in meetings.

Continue reading "Green Careers: Urban Farming" »

March 19, 2013

Green Careers: Environmental Journalism

Environmental journalistStumped on a career path? Itching to explore new job opportunities? Yesterday we posted a quiz to help you get started. Today we launch our series of green career profiles with a glimpse into environmental journalism.

Green Careers: Environmental Journalism

Environmental journalists inform and engage the public about important environmental issues. Whether it’s climate change, dirty coal plants, or genetically modified crops, the public wants to stay abreast of possible threats to their environment and their implications for human and ecological health. Reporters should be able to explain developments related to these issues clearly, fairly, objectively, and engagingly, without relying on sensationalism or jargon. Their stories should serve to improve the dialogue among journalists, scientists, policymakers, and the public.

Continue reading "Green Careers: Environmental Journalism" »

Riding on Air: The Best Wind-Borne Gear

The wind that rushes over our play spaces—rivers, deserts, mountains, seas—is a free and inexhaustible source of fun. These tools will help you tap into nature's tempestuous power supply. 

Parrot AR Drone

Coolest wind toy ever. The Parrot AR Drone 2.0 is a quadricopter with two cameras: a high-def one that points forward and another with a wide-angle lens that points down—all controlled by your smartphone or tablet. No, it's not perfect, and yes, you will crash it and subsequently need spare parts. But it's your own personal drone. With live streaming video. That you can fly from your phone. $300

Slam Force 2 Jacket

Stay warm and dry, even if the weather doesn't cooperate, with SLAM's Force 2 Jacket. It has seams that are reinforced with thermal tape (to keep moisture out) and is made from laminated two-layer nylon that's waterproof but breathable. Added refinements include a high collar with a roll-away hood, fleece-lined pockets, and a whistle affixed in a pocket. $195

Aquaglide Multisport

AQUAGLIDE's Multisport 270 is a versatile, inflatable watercraft that's great for mastering the basics of sailing. When deflated, it's so compact that you can check it as standard luggage. It quickly converts from sailboat to windsurfer to (with an $80 add-on kit) kayak, and it comfortably holds two adults and one child. $800

HQ Hydra Trainer Kite

It's best to learn the principles of harnessing wind power—which apply equally to kiteboarding, snowkiting, and landkiting—with a power-kite trainer. Power kites are much larger than conventional kites, and trainers are even bigger, effectively serving as training wheels. HQ's Hydra Trainer 350 is the only training foil designed for use on land and water. A third middle line adds stability and makes for easy relaunching, even if you dunk it into the drink. $340

Continue reading "Riding on Air: The Best Wind-Borne Gear" »

March 18, 2013

Quiz: Which Green Career is Right for You?

Green career

It's never too early or too late to launch a new career. Whether you’re a student stumped about your post-grad future or a professional stuck in a mid-career rut, our green career series will help you find your path. This week, we’ll outline job requirements and highlight training programs and internships that can help you build the skills and network you need to jump-start your career.

Still not sure which professional path to pursue? Take our short quiz to learn which eco-friendly gig might be the best fit for your personality.

Quiz: Which Green Career is Right for You?

  1. Close your eyes. Imagine your ideal work environment. What are you doing and how are you dressed?
      a. Backpacking through southern California’s San Jacinto mountains, in full hiking gear, chronicling your trek through a video and blog post.
      b. On a rooftop garden or greenhouse, wearing your trusty jeans, t-shirt, tennis shoes, gardening gloves, and sun hat.
      c. Bobbing on a boat out at sea in a t-shirt, shorts, and sandals, studying orca social structure.
      d. In a corporate office advising business executives, wearing a button-down shirt, skirt/slacks, and dress shoes.
      e. In your office, dressed in a smart suit as you write a legal brief for your latest case, this time involving a group of families with asthma caused by a local coal plant.

  2. Quick! Classes are filling up, and you can only squeeze one elective into your schedule next term.  What do you sign up for?
      a. Journalism/communications
      b. Agriculture/botany
      c. Biology/ecology
      d. Business/marketing
      e. Law

Continue reading "Quiz: Which Green Career is Right for You?" »

Let it Blow: How to Harness the Wind at Home

You can't see or hold it—but you can still use wind's power to entertain and edify on a blustery day.

kite toy

Flying a kite is one of life's uplifting pleasures. This MINI POWER KITE from Uncommon Goods comes in recycled packaging that encases not only the petite soarer but also string, a handle, and a drawstring pouch. UncommonGoods is a Certified B corporation, which means it operates environmentally and ethically. $15

The New World Champion Paper Airplane, Ten Speed Press

What to do with those pieces of printed paper you set aside to reuse? Send 'em aloft! There's no one better to teach you how than John M. Collins, author of THE NEW WORLD CHAMPION PAPER AIRPLANE BOOKThe book comes with tear-out model planes, plus 20 designs to let you transform any sheet of paper into a soaring origami glider. $17

wind power toy

Move over, Lego. This WIND POWER KIT from Marbles comes with an array of pieces that you can assemble in various ways to learn about aerodynamics, kinetic energy, and wind-power mechanics. The resulting mini-turbines from all that tinkering generate enough energy to illuminate an LED or charge a battery. $50

wind whistles

In art school, Colorado wood carver Tom Larkin overheard two students talking about how to make a log whistle in the wind. Fascinated, he has tinkered with wood and breezes ever since. The result is this WIND WHISTLE (sold on Etsy), which he handcrafts from mahogany or cedar. Mount a few of these sturdy pieces around the yard, and they'll spin and produce rich musical tones. $15

weather vane

Display old-fashioned country goodness (and never again wonder which way the wind blows) with Bonafide's ROOSTER WEATHERVANE, which is handcrafted in the United States from recycled aluminum. $37

--Avital Andrews

photos by Lori Eanes (4); kite photo courtesy UncommonGoods

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