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13 posts from November 2013

November 27, 2013

5 Outdoor Activities to Beat Holiday Stress

Family on bikes in forestThe holidays often bring families together, which can be both a wonderful and an extremely stressful thing. If you're anticipating a full house of stir-crazy relatives this Thanksgiving, plan a moment to give everyone some much-needed breathing room and get outdoors. Younger family members can run off some energy and adults can work up an appetite with these outdoor activities perfect for your holiday celebration. However you celebrate, take a minute to step outside this Thanksgiving (if only to avoid your grandmother asking for the fifth time why you aren't married yet). 

"Turkey Trot": Many cities host annual Thanksgiving walks or runs to benefit charity. These events are a perfect opportunity to get outdoors and give to others. Most have kids' races as well, so the whole family is welcome. 

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November 26, 2013

4 Awesome Ways to Prepare Squash

Don't underestimate squashMost people make the mistake of only using squash for decoration. But squash, which come in loads of unique varieties, are a lot more versatile than you think. With the holidays right around the corner and loads of different kind of squash in season, it is definitely the right time to learn some new ways to prepare these crazy veggies.

These simple squash creations should have you appreciating gourds a lot more, and they might even help you spice up your traditional holiday feasts with some new food classics.

As always, if you know any other awesome, crazy, or unique ways to prepare squash, make sure to let us know in the comments.

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3 Easy Vegan Pies for the Holidays

Cran-Cherry Impossible PieWith multiple vegan dessert books under her belt, including Easy as Vegan Pie: One-of-a-Kind Sweet and Savory Slices (Skyhorse, 2013), which includes over 100 recipes, it is pretty safe to say that Hannah Kaminsky knows a thing or two about pies. So with the holiday season on our heels, we asked Kaminsky to share some of her favorite recipes for vegan pie creations. She even threw in a simple crust recipe, which we put at the bottom of this post. Pretty sweet...

Cran-Cherry Impossible Pie

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November 22, 2013

These Eco-Videos Make Us Laugh, Then Cry

Laugh... Or Don'tSometimes all of our environmental problems make it feel like the world is the star of an eco-horror film.

People at 350.org must think so too, because they made two short but awesome videos dramatizing environmental issues like the Keystone XL pipeline and climate change disasters.

Both should be shared with wild abandon.

The first, Keystone Horror, really goes all-out eco-horror, complete with a creepy kid. It even features appearances from actors Ed Begley Jr., Amy Smart, Justin Chatwin, and Wendie Malick. Watch it below:

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Q&A: Clothiers' Kickstarter for 3D Printer

Grace Gouin and Mariano DeGuzmanSustainability is an inherent practice in the clothing business — at least for co-founders of Appalatch Outdoor Apparel Co. Grace Gouin and Mariano deGuzman. In an effort to revolutionize the clothing industry, reduce textile waste, and promote a unique for-profit business model with non-profit ideals, Grace and Mariano recently launched a Kickstarter campaign for a knitting machine that works as a 3D printer and creates precise patterns and dimensions of a sweater without wasting a single iota of thread. We talked to the two clothiers about their Kickstarter campaign (they've currently received from donors about 60 percent of their goal of $50,000), cutting down on textile waste, a sheep-shearing Quaker named John, and creating long-enduring clothing for the "modern-day Indiana Jones."

So, can you talk a little about this futuristic 3D-sweater-making-machine?

GRACE: We're moving towards something called a Stoll knitting machine. In a way it's a 3D printer for sweaters, but it's not the traditional 3D printer that prints out the plastic kind of stuff. You can design any kind of sweater you want with this computer program and then the Stoll takes your yarn and knits it in the exact dimensions of what it is you're trying to make.  

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November 21, 2013

5 Tips for a Low-Carbon Thanksgiving

Plate of Thanksgiving foodsMost of us are aware of that Thanksgiving can take a toll. Between the hours spent cooking and decorating, then arguing with your crazy uncle about politics, and pretending to like your little sister's new boyfriend, it can be an exhausting holiday. For many, the meal makes it worth the stress. But don't take too much comfort in your holiday feast. A University of Manchester study has shown that the dinner itself has a significant impact on the environment. The report finds that a turkey-n-trimmings feast for eight produces approximately 44 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions, 60% from the life cycle of the turkey alone. Here are a few tips for reducing the carbon footprint of your favorite dishes, and keeping your Thanksgiving meal green: 

1. Shop Local: Thanksgiving is a seasonal meal, which means you should find all of the fruits and veggies you need at your local farmer's market. The farm-fresh goods should be pretty guilt-free purchases, as they've traveled little and bypassed refrigeration and storage. The trip may mean planning slightly further ahead than is convenient, but it'll be worth the fresh flavor added to the meal. 

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November 18, 2013

Big Ideas: Building a Food Desert Oasis

WE Over ME Farm at Paul Quinn CollegeFor millions of Americans who find themselves in food deserts, getting their daily apple is tougher than usual. The USDA defines a food desert as an impoverished region of the country where thousands of people can't regularly access healthy, affordable, and organic foods due to lack of grocery stores, farmers' markets, and personal transportation. And the constant availability of fast food restaurants in these food deserts certainly doesn't help America's rampant obesity epidemic.

U.S. cities lacking in fresh fruits and veggies aren't limited to the big city expanses of Los Angeles, Oakland, Detroit, or Chicago; in fact many small towns in the heart of the nation suffer just as much from lack of fresh greens.

Here are some big ideas for providing resources to help food desert dwellers around the nation enjoy the taste and benefits of farm-fresh produce. 

100 Yards of Harvest After having to sack its football program due to low enrollment, Paul Quinn College, a small liberal arts college near Dallas, Texas, transformed their vestigial football field into a huge farm. Today, staff and students (and in collaboration with PepsiCo Inc.) at Paul Quinn cultivate the WE Over ME Farm, growing collard greens, heirloom tomatoes, swiss chard, mustard greens, and more. The cornucopia of food harvested from the farm is then distributed to local charities, grocery stores, community markets in surrounding Dallas, and the college students, who get to enjoy the fruits of their hard work.  

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November 14, 2013

Mr. Green's 10 Commandments for Eco-Evangelists

Mr. Green is Bob SchildgenHey Mr. Green,

How do I encourage people to live more eco-friendly (e.g. drive less, avoid disposable products, raise awareness of the hazards of industrialized farming) without offending them?

Patty, in Carbondale, Illinois

After being Mr. Green for nine years, I’ve enjoyed a bit of success in fostering eco-friendliness, though I can’t claim to have mended relationships and saved marriages like those famous Anns and Abbies. Nor do I take credit for last year’s 3.8 percent decrease in carbon emissions. (In any case, that dip was probably more the result of good weather and bad economy, because it’s already climbed back up 2.6 percent this year.)

So, in light of this considerable experience in eco-friending, here are my 10 Commandments for Environmental Evangelists:

1. Walk the talk: If you actually take green actions yourself, it’s a lot easier to get others to listen up. Being Mr. Green, I gotta be tuned in to this. Example: One day I’m in the back yard, hanging out the laundry. So strange has this custom become, that my neighbor asks me what I’m doing. “Well, now, if I don’t make a convincing display of solar drying, somebody could bust me and tell the world I’m a closet energy-waster. And anyhow,” I add, “with all the fuss about vitamin D deficiency these days, a few minutes outside hanging up the clothes might be healthy."

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November 13, 2013

Photography Tips for the Outdoorsperson

Man taking photograph of natureFor some of us, part of the excitement of trekking out into open meadows and forest wilderness is the attempt to capture the rich colors and immaculate scenery to share with friends and family.

But let's face it, it's impossible to replicate the grandeur of being present.

We do, however, have a few tips to help your photos do nature justice while making you an up-and-coming Ansel Adams among your friends.

1. Always check your light source. There are two things to be wary of: intensity and direction. Try to avoid the harsh light of the high noon sun. When trying to capture landscapes, the best light is found at dawn or dusk. When photographing friends or a subject, position the light so that it hits the subject from the front, not from behind. As a side note, overcast days are often great for outdoor photography, the clouds diffuse the light and your photos will come out rich without being over-exposed.

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November 12, 2013

3 Robots Built to Save the Planet

Robots built with the planet in mindIn most sci-fi movies, robots aren't out there saving the planet. But Hollywood doesn't always tell the whole story — robots can help people harness clean energy, plant forests, and clean up the environment.

Three of our favorite new technological innovations feature unique green applications and forward-thinking designs. Welcome to the future.

Inspired by the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Protei is intended to be an efficient, oil-absorbing, ocean-cleaning robot. Funded by Kickstarter in 2011, Protei is an unmanned sailboat-like drone (the good kind) that can sail upwind across the trail of an oil spill via its innovative serpentine design. Powered by the wind, Protei drags a tail-like net through an oil spill, absorbing the contaminants with the precision only a robot could have, without subjecting humans to the dangers of the oil in the water. Most recently, the minds behind Protei sailed around the world for four months and expanded their dreams for Protei to include ridding the ocean of plastics, collecting oceanic samples for scientists, and monitoring radioactivity in the wake of Fukushima.

Continue reading "3 Robots Built to Save the Planet" »

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