11 June 2008

off to commune with nature

Air travel is probably my biggest eco-vice. But I can't help it. I love to travel to far-off places. Last year it was Italy (for vacation), South Africa (tagging along with my boyfriend on a work trip), and LA (another work trip). This year it's Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks. How can one resist the natural splendor of our last great wilderness? And as I've mentioned before, I'm a sucker for animals -- I can't wait to have an encounter with some wild creatures, from a distance at least (a bit scared about the grizzlies and wildcats!)

We also needed to rent a car on this trip, to get us through the parks and go from one to the next. When I did my search for rental cars, I imagined we'd get some economical compact sedan, like a Ford Focus or something. I even had high hopes for a hybrid. None of these notions manifested in real life. Instead it was either a $3,500 pick-your-car rental, or a $1,400 SUV. And not just any SUV, a big-ass Chevy Suburban. Could it get any worse? I think I'll start crying in the rental agency when they hand over the keys. And I'll cry on the inside through the whole trip. How contradictory the whole debacle is, to enjoy the preservation of natural places while simultaneously mucking them up.

So what does one do to lessen their impact on a trip such as this? Of course there's carbon offsetting for the flight and SUV. And there are other no-brainers:

  • Bringing out what we bring in, not leaving a string of Clif bar wrappers on the trail
  • Sticking to the paths, not traipsing all over some endangered wildflowers or a marmot hole
And maybe the not-so-obvious things:
  • When nature calls, we'll do our business at least 200 feet from a waterway, bury the unmentionables, and use natural TP (watch out for the poison oak!) (It's also recommended to carry out TP in a resealable plastic bag)
  • We won't be camping or bathing outdoors, but if that were the case we'd use biodegradable soap like Campsuds 200 feet from a water source (or you can take the stance of this person who uses no products at all while camping)
Find out more about low-impact camping/hiking:
So as you might have guessed, I won't be posting anything while on this trip. The point is to get away from technology. There'll be a little hiatus, and I hope to be up and running again on Tuesday, June 24th. (And of course there will be pictures when I return!)

living off the health of the land

I'm a fan of Mark Bittman, the NY Times columnist, foodie, and minimalist chef. I'm even more enamored now that he's written about some practical advice about eating less meat. Without getting all political or ideological, he offers some easy tips on incorporating more healthy veggies and alternatives to meat in your meals. Here it is in today's Dining and Wine section of the Times.

Also in the Times, an answer to those who eschew organic because of the price: plant your own! That is if you've got the land, of course. Most of us city dwellers don't have the luxury of a patch of earth to dig into. But there are community gardens, if you're feeling so ambitious. If you do decide to start your own victory garden, you'll have to do some research. Here are some sources for organic vegetable gardening:

survive the summer swelter: part 2

Part 2 in a two-part series on how to handle the heat of summer. Catch part 1 here.

keep your cool

eat (and drink) wellfight off the bugs

And you can carry all your summer essentials in this cute Organic Cotton Tote
Happy and Healthy Summer!