Travel & Nature

By on November 15th, 2008

Hitchsters is an easy-to-use website that conveniently connects travelers going to and from airports so that they can share a ride (and thus split the fare). The Hitchsters.com matching system makes riding in a car to the airport more affordable, more convenient, safer, and more environmentally-friendly.

This idea is especially great because of the fact that traveling by airplane is nothing close to eco-friendly. Hitchsters.com launched this week in the San Francisco Bay Area and they plan to expand to other cities in the near future.

Hitchsters.com helps match people looking to ride-share on the way to or from the airport (SFO, OAK & SJC) and hooks them up with a high-quality, yet inexpensive car service. By doing so a person saves on average $21/ride and reduces their carbon footprint by 30 lbs compared to taking a cab alone.

Hitchsters.com are trying to get the word out to help people save some money and save the environment a bit too. They’ve already launched in NYC and were honored last year by Time Magazine when they were named one of the “50 Best Websites of 2007”.

How it works (form Hitchsters.com website):

How it works

Log in to your MyHitchsters account, enter your trip itinerary, and select your saved location. (Not there? Add a new one to your MyHitchsters profile).

When matched, you will be notified with a text message and e-mail containing the first name and cell phone of your co-rider (nothing else is shared). As an additional safety feature, we preserve the phone numbers of all of the successful matches.

A partnering car service calls each party to arrange the ride.

If you are sharing a ride to the airport, then you will only be matched with someone else who is leaving from your area to go to the same airport. If you are sharing a ride from the airport, you will only be matched with someone who is on the same flight (no worries about late flights) and going to the same area you are.

After your trip, you will have an opportunity to evaluate your co-rider, and the limo company, with a “thumbs-up” or “thumbs-down” rating.

Make Current

By on August 9th, 2008

If you’re like me and love camping, you probably know that you do not leave your trash on site. Too bad some people forget about this.

I went camping this week with my friend and we decided to head out with the canoe on lake “trente-et-un miles” in the Province of Quebec. We found this great place on the side of the lake with a nice flat spot for the tent and a ready made fire pit. I was quite upset when I saw a bunch of trash all over the place. I mean, it’s so easy to bring a garbage bag and bring all your waste back home.

To avoid any problem with garbage you should always bring your food in reusable containers.

If you have any tips to green your camping trips please leave us a comment.

Make Current

By on July 9th, 2008

After Hurricane Isabel in 2003 and before Katrina in 2005, Annapolis made state-of-the-art plans to rebuild its city dock, raising it 10 feet higher, adding in rubber retaining walls to protect the city against flooding putting this small, historic, seaside town on the cutting edge

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of climate change and hurricane preparedness.

Make Current

By on July 3rd, 2008

Many Canadians likely caught the news story a few days ago about the truck that flipped over on a New Brunswick highway with 12 million honey bees on board. The concern for those who are allergic to bee stings got plenty of media attention, however, I was surprised how little was said about the poor endangered honey bees. After reading the recent CNN article about Colony Collapse Disorder, I was certain the truck accident would be a good excuse to educate the Canadian public about the plight of our precious pollinators. Visions of Bee Movie 2 filled my head after learning that the mysterious disappearance of honey bees has devastated North American beekeepers for the second year in a row. I was shocked to learn that 25% of the western honey bee population has disappeared due to CCD, a phenomenon that is blamed at least partially on various man made interferences such as pesticide use, loss of nutrition, global warming, and commercial migration (a.k.a transporting bees in trucks on highways).

Here are some other stinging statistics:

  • Approximately 1/3 of the food we eat relies on bees for pollination
  • Some researchers believe that without research and protection honey bees could go extinct within ten years
  • Many North American beekeepers are reporting a loss of up to 70% of their bee populations in the last two years
  • According to the World Bank, food prices have risen over 80% in the last three years. Some farmers say that if beekeepers go out of business the cost of nuts, fruit, and vegetables could increase tenfold.

Here are some things you can do with your kids to promote awareness about the honey bee crisis:

  • Rent Bee Movie and talk with your kids about the role the bees play as pollinators.
  • Buy Hagaan Dazs Ice cream –a portion of bee dependent flavours goes to honeybee research.
  • Buy honey products (to support local beekeepers)
  • Visit educational websites for free lessons on honey bees
  • Plant a bee friendly garden with flowers like sunflowers, lilacs, and cosmos
  • Donate money to honey bee research

Einstein has been falsely quoted as saying that humans would begin disappearing four years after the honey bee. Even if it wasn’t Einstein who made this prediction more than fifty years ago, it is obvious that a disappearance of these pollinators would have a major impact on the world’s food supply. How many years would you give us?

Make Current

By on June 26th, 2008

What better way to celebrate Earth Hour with your kids than with a little Dr. Seuss? Including an earth friendly bedtime story in your monthly earth hour ritual is a great way to get kids on the green page. And no, I’m not talking about serving green eggs and ham for a bedtime snack. This Saturday, my family will be delving into The Lorax, a seventies classic which was once denounced by the American logging industry. This colourful story, is a great way to introduce children to the dangers associated with consumption.

In this story a young boy learns about a fluffy tree called the Truffula that once grew wild in a forest and provided a home for numerous Suessy creatures. A man named the “Once-ler” explains to the child how he discovered that the fluffy Truffula tree could be used for knitting “Thneeds” (objects that all people need). Despite protests from “the Lorax” the Once-ler watches his business grow and grow until the sky turns grey and there is only one seed left.

As with all Seuss books, The Lorax can be enjoyed at different levels by children and adults of all ages. This book may be the key to convincing your children (or spouse) that they don’t thneed anything new to play with this summer. Maybe they will be inspired to help you plants some seeds beneath the blue sky instead of going shopping.

Other Recommended Reading for Kids

Here are a few other kids’ stories that deal with ecological concerns. Look for these in your local libary or bookstore, and make sure to have one on hand at the end of each month for Earth Hour.

Recycle Every Day By Nancy Elizabeth Wallace
A bunny named Minna has a school assignment to make a poster about recycling.

The Great Trash Bash By Loreen Leedy.
Mayor Hippo and his animal citizens investigate the trash problems in Beaston.

The Tower to the Sun By Colin Thompson
A rich grandfather decides to build a tower so that his grandson can see how the sun once looked before air pollution took over the world.

Uno’s Garden By Graeme Base
Adorable creatures, including lumpybums and frinklepods welcome Uno into their garden. Life is beautiful until the tourists settle in and take over. What becomes of the Snortlepig?

Make Current

By on June 26th, 2008

What better way to celebrate Earth Hour with your kids than with a little Dr. Seuss? Including an earth friendly bedtime story in your monthly earth hour ritual is a great way to get kids on the green page. And no, I’m not talking about serving green eggs and ham for a bedtime snack. This Saturday, my family will be delving into The Lorax, a seventies classic which was once denounced by the American logging industry. This colourful story, is a great way to introduce children to the dangers associated with consumption.

In this story a young boy learns about a fluffy tree called the Truffula that once grew wild in a forest and provided a home for numerous Suessy creatures. A man named the “Once-ler” explains to the child how he discovered that the fluffy Truffula tree could be used for knitting “Thneeds” (objects that all people need). Despite protests from “the Lorax” the Once-ler watches his business grow and grow until the sky turns grey and there is only one seed left.

As with all Seuss books, The Lorax can be enjoyed at different levels by children and adults of all ages. This book may be the key to convincing your children (or spouse) that they don’t thneed anything new to play with this summer. Maybe they will be inspired to help you plants some seeds beneath the blue sky instead of going shopping.

Other Recommended Reading for Kids

Here are a few other kids’ stories that deal with ecological concerns. Look for these in your local libary or bookstore, and make sure to have one on hand at the end of each month for Earth Hour.

Recycle Every Day By Nancy Elizabeth Wallace
A bunny named Minna has a school assignment to make a poster about recycling.

The Great Trash Bash By Loreen Leedy.
Mayor Hippo and his animal citizens investigate the trash problems in Beaston.

The Tower to the Sun By Colin Thompson
A rich grandfather decides to build a tower so that his grandson can see how the sun once looked before air pollution took over the world.

Uno’s Garden By Graeme Base
Adorable creatures, including lumpybums and frinklepods welcome Uno into their garden. Life is beautiful until the tourists settle in and take over. What becomes of the Snortlepig?

Make Current

By on June 15th, 2008

Ever thought about traveling to the olive groves of Marrakech? How does a boutique hotel called Peacock Pavilions sound? Designed by an American couple who dreamed of opening a guesthouse far far away, the opening of Peacock Pavilions this coming November is a fairytale come true. Thousands of readers already know more than they could ever ask about these fantasy suites, via the award winning blog, My Marrakesh which has been documenting the family’s journey since 2006. For those who haven’t been there to see the story

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unfolding, you’ll be happy to learn that Peacock Pavilions is an eco-friendly building.

Though it can boast of 300 days or more of sunshine each year, Marrakech only receives 4 inches of annual rainwater. As the family describes in their website, this should be a major cause of concern for olive growers. However, most native farmers take part in a wasteful practice of flooding their land. While Maryam and her husband Chris adore Marrakech and its culture, they were not comfortable with this practice: “Soon after buying our olive grove, we installed a drip system to irrigate our trees and plants. With this technique each dripper puts out about 1 gallon of water on the ground per hour. The water slowly seeps in the ground with almost no evaporation. We also use grey water for irrigation.”

Maryam admits that it is next to impossible to go fully “green” in Marrakech. She cautions guests that there won’t be environmentally friendly linens to sleep in or hybrid cars to rent. You may not even be able to recycle your cans or bottles there. However, this family is doing its best to incorporate green initiatives, and we can only hope that their local neighbors and international guests will notice their efforts and be inspired to take their own step in the green direction.

Not only does Peacock Pavilions give everyone permission to chase big dreams, this family serves as a good reminder that it aint easy being green. Yet, if we all do our part, (including our youngest tadpoles) we’ll have a cleaner pond to swim in.

Peacock Pavilions opens in November 2008 and is currently taking reservations. Why not go and hug an olive tree?

List of Green Initiatives (www.peacockpavilons.com):
To reduce electric energy consumption and carbon output, Peacock Pavilions also incorporates the following elements:

  • Insulation in the walls and on the roofs more vulnerable to heat gain or loss. This step is almost always skipped in Marrakech, because of the extra costs entailed.
  • Aluminum windows with air tight seals.
  • Rumsford fireplaces which radiate more heat into a room and less up the chimney. We may just be the only people in Marrakech with these.
  • Radiant floor heating. Hot air passes through pipes buried in the concrete floor slabs. The heat is then radiated into the room over a period of hours. This is more efficient than heating air, and nicer for the feet, too. So rare is radiant heating in Marrakech that people have been trooping though Peacock Pavilions to ask Architect Chris how to install it.
  • Air conditioning through evaporative cooling. This system draws 70% less energy than conventional air conditioners and is well adapted for arid climate. Used frequently in the southwest of the US, evaporative coolers blow a mist of water over a filter and then air is passed through the filter. Air temperature can be reduced as much as 30 degrees F.
  • Solar water heater panels. Hot water for our own house and our 3 bedroom Pavilion is provided by the Moroccan sun, with back-up provide by instant gas heaters (no need to keep kettle warm when no one is drinking).
  • Primarily fluorescent lights. Why use 75 watts when 20 watts will do the same job? (California plans to ban sale of incandescent light bulbs by 2012. What a concept…!)

Make Current

By on May 17th, 2008

(The Canadian Press) WASHINGTON — The U.S. government is listing polar bears as a threatened species but won’t address the thorny issue of global warming that’s causing the decline of their Arctic habitats.

No protection for the climate
The new designation obliges the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to devise a protection plan for the bears, but limits on greenhouse gas emissions or constraints on oil and gas projects won’t be part of it. Global warming is the major factor threatening polar bears, said Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne, but the Endangered Species Act is an “inappropriate” tool for setting U.S. climate policy.

“This listing will not stop global climate change or prevent sea ice from melting,” he told a news conference. “It’s not something that one continent can do by itself. We need to have the major economies of the world have these discussions.”

Kempthorne acknowledged the decision won’t be popular among environmentalists but said he can’t make a direct link between the species and carbon dioxide emissions.

Continue reading…

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