Do Your Part!

When you live in a small, confined area (such as an island), you take short cuts in life to make things easier. Roads get congested with cars because there aren’t many cross island routes and everyone is going the same way as a rule, clogging the lanes. Then there is the matter of parking in the various confined neighborhoods. I am going to extol the virtues of riding a bicycle instead. You can park it most anywhere, but be sure to use a lock. You don’t want to come back from shopping to find your precious bike missing. Cycling makes perfect sense.

For the kiddies, you can stow them behind you in a bike trailer. If you don’t have one, hint around for a gift. Or do your research and find a quality product. To maintain the sanity of the people on the island, i.e., make life more pleasant, let me set an example. Get out your bike and find a good bike trailer from On Road and Mountain at http://www.onroadandmountain.com/best-bike-trailer-buyers-guide/ or convert a towable trailer to a stroller in seconds. Then you can go anywhere you want and use your ingenuity. Most people on the island already have bikes so it is a matter of making it a more practical ride. You want to be able to tote what you need from the grocery store or whatever errands you are running. You save valuable time, especially if you can accommodate the kids. They walk too slowly to use that method of transportation. Plus, they live the bike trailers with their snappy wheels and well-conceived appearance.

What you want is a twenty-inch pneumatic tire with molded rims. You thus get performance and style. That will make the kids want to jump in at any time. The aluminum frame is lightweight and durable so you know everything is secure. Then there are the parking brakes that ensure extra safety when the trailer is in stroller mode. Someone created an ingenious design that also applies to the folding frame with quick release wheels for compact storage. I appreciate when something is well made and suitable for everyday use. There is a nice two in one canopy with a bug screen and what is known as a weather shield. This is a nice feature. Then there is a versatile bicycle coupler that attaches to most any bike. But be sure you check it out before making your purchase. Then scrutinize the safety harness and shoulder pads that provide special security and comfort. That’s about it for a bike trailer.

Teach your kids how to get in and out without falling. They will enjoy using the trailer if they feel secure. Not that children are cowards, mind you. It’s just that after one fall, they are no longer game for another ride. They also want to be able to see what’s going on in the street so adjust the convenient screen. The whole idea of the bike trailer is kind of an advanced baby buggy for toddlers. Get one today!

One More Way to do my Part

I am all about an eco-lifestyle, which means no waste or toxic dumping. It means trying to recycle as much as we can. It is up to each and every one of us to do our part to save the environment. Without communal effort, we will not succeed. I happen to live in a very beautiful place just off the coast of Seattle so I grew up with the instinct for conservation and sustainability. While we can’t live a perfect green life, we can achieve a great deal by paying attention to things like an unnecessary gut of watch batteries. I see in my mind’s eye a pile of these little monsters populating a landfill and being perpetuated forever. They are metal so they will maybe corrode, but never die. So, what do I do about this problem: I buy an automatic watch that needs no batteries. When buying a new watch, if you stand with me about ecology, you will look for the words “mechanical automatic.” This means that the watch has a movement that is wound by means of a built-in rotor that swings around its axis as the wearer creates motion. It can be wound manually as well if the watch has been sitting for a while.

I love the transparent watches that reveal the mechanism to the naked eye by means of an innovative see-through dial. It makes for a very distinctive timepiece. It is fun to wear and you are being eco-friendly while you are at it. Bravo! There are vast numbers of automatic watches on the market so you can go for casual and trendy or classic and elegant. It depends whether you want the watch for sport, work, or dress. Now that I have established one simple way you can save the environment by eliminating batteries, I will go on to encourage compliance. I wish I could reward each person who buys an automatic watch. Maybe we should all have a community drive to gather old battery watches. We could get a local jewelry store involved who will donate either free, used, or discount new automatic watches for those who give up their old model. It might be successful and let the townspeople know how important this issue is.

I will start off by rallying my area to the cause and I hope all of you will see fit to do the same. It only takes a few people to muster the crowd and create action. You could do the same for old appliances so you can recycle various metals and parts. There is nothing much that can’t be repurposed. Old lumber can make fine tables and chairs. Anything can be repainted, restained, and refashioned into something new and useful. Then I suggest that you keep your car one or two years longer to curb the obsessive consumer consumption. I am sure you have plenty of suggestions, too.

Soaking up the Sun

Who doesn’t feel good when soaking up the sun during the summer on a beautiful intense day. That’s why people flock to beaches and islands for vacation for months. People who live in cold climates can hardly wait for spring so that they are beginning to anticipate what is to come. Snowbirds live in snow country and go in droves to Arizona or California in the winter to get some much-needed sun. The rest of us wait till summer if we live in a normal climate. We try to do a lot of outdoor activities even if it consists of just bike rides or hikes. Sure you can do anything in winter in most places, but there is something really special about June through August. You feel it in your bones. They crave a change of scene. If you can’t travel to a sunny faraway destination, perhaps you can install an above ground pool. They come in all sizes to fit your available space and are much less expensive than the in ground variety. The cost is prohibitive. An above ground pool does the job very nicely. There is room for several people to swim laps or just relax and enjoy each other’s company on a lovely day. There isn’t a person alive who doesn’t appreciate a respite from work or chores. If you are a social type, a pool is the best place to congregate in the summer rather than in a dark rec room in the basement of a house.

I like warm water as most of my friends do. After a bit of complaining, I decided to get a solar cover for the above ground pool to heat it up economically. Even on a warm day in the summer, people appreciate not having to cope with a freezing cold pool. They enjoy the milk water temperature. Thanks to the solar panels that are always soaking up the sun. I don’t know many people who use pool covers like this. Mostly they are for off season storage to keep the pool clean during the winter when no one dares set a foot in cold water. In actuality, with solar, you can heat the water year round. Since there is no huge impact on your electrical bill, you don’t mind doing it. People who swim in the winter, do it for toning up and keeping fit. It is a nice alternative to visiting the gym. You can vary your workout regime in an enjoyable manner. My friends have started coming over during months when in the past they would never show their faces. So if you want heated water and balk at the expense, get a solar pool cover. They pay for themselves in just a few years. I can attest to that fact. I will show you my utility bills if you don’t believe me and are hesitant to lay out the funds for this practical heating solution.

Secondhand Gem

You might say that I am a frugal sort. Let’s not waste time, money, or resources. I adopt an attitude of recycle when you can and make good use of everything. I seldom throw things away if there is any life left in them. If I can’t use something, I will donate it or give it to a friend. There is so much waste in the world: witness the loaded landfills. Then there is the simple matter of controlling your budget. If you are careful with your purchases, you can stretch a dollar. All in all, it has to do with being green and environmentally friendly by using things to the max. Hence I don’t balk at thrift stores, not even for a hot tub. Recently I found a secondhand gem there that has lots of life left in it. Considering the costs of new hot tubs, this definitely was the way to go. I saved hundreds. I beat all the discount prices out there on line. Plus, I feel good about recycling. In keeping with my ecological orientation, I also found some biodegradable non-toxic chemicals to maintain the tub. I feel pretty happy about the whole enterprise. I have a great “cheap” unit and I have no complaints. It works fine. We tested the heating unit in the store. There were no holes or places where you could see leaks. The surface of the hot tub was in pristine condition with no dents or gashes. I think this was a very good buy.

Using a cheap hot tub has no effect on the water experience. You are just as content as if you were in a large expensive model. As long as the temperature is right and the spray jets work, you are satisfied. You can sit and relax and applaud yourself endlessly for your wisdom in going to the secondhand store. The money I saved I will use for a vacation, although frankly who needs one when you can spend your evenings and weekends in a hot tub. Given my fanaticism about recycling, I will spend some of my savings on buying some large sorting trash cans. They will be suitably labeled for the trash truck during pick up.

My hot tub is getting a lot of use and the biodegradable chemicals are just fine. The water is clean and pure and I don’t have to expose myself to harsh elements to ward off bacteria. These special chemicals work so well that I don’t have to empty the tub often and refill it with water. Once again a nod to being green and wise. My neighbor has spied my enjoyment through the fence and asked where I got my tub. Unfortunately, there was only one secondhand one at that same place. He is going to have to do his own scouting, but how many of these used tubs are really around. People keep them or loan them to friends. He may have to fork over some serious money to get a tub of his choice.

By Land and Sea

Where I live you go from land to water in a matter of minutes. They are literally side by side. It is part of the charm of my lifestyle. It is never one-dimensional I love the transition afforded island living. I also love above all having access to the beach. It is all about being adaptable to a different kind of ecological system and climate. It is all about walking everywhere and knowing each person who passes by. It is all about seclusion, privacy, and ease. As for me you can kiss the big city goodbye. There is no comparison. Any city, even a scenic one like Seattle has its hustle and bustle and neighborhoods that lack charm. There is traffic, congestion, and pollution. Its downtown is like any other but if you can live on or near the water, you are in luck. I had a houseboat once that was the envy of my friends. It was one big open room with solid walls of glass to enjoy the view. You slept right there in the open. I had a little shed in the back for guests. There is nothing like this lifestyle. Now this part of Seattle suited me. I hated to say goodbye. I had to move to the island and now I navigate by land and by sea. What an about face life can bring you.

I love the quiet that island life affords. It has a small stable population. You see the denizens glide by on their bicycles or are talking long leisurely walks. If you live in a high-rise in the city, I feel for you and what you are missing. As for me, I relax and head for the coast in a good pair of beach shoes. That’s the kind of life style I like. Casual is my middle name. I love the comfort and don’t miss leather lace ups. My shoes are canvas and can take any dip in the sea. They are meant for rugged outings and jogs along the sand. You can wear beach shoes in town and look perfectly at home. They are the only thing to wear with shorts and tees.

There is a great little shop on the island that sells beach shoes so you have a wide selection. If you want waterproof jellies, leather thongs, or the canvas style with rope soles that I like, it is all there for the asking. It is a tourist shop but locals love it. Each summer they treat themselves to a new pair. The beach requires a special kind of attire. Shoes are the most important item to consider. You will ruin your street shoes for sure if you try to utilize them going from land to sea. Okay, when I go to the city I change my look, but it is just for the day or evening. You can look a little out of place sometimes in beach shoes in the wrong environment.

Ode to a Bicycle

Living on an island, my bicycle is my chief mode of transportation. I rely on it daily. It can get you around in minutes to most desired destinations in my realm. No worries about parking, and no stress about traffic. Thus, for all its usage, it gets some wear and tear pretty fast. I might need, but don’t want a new one as I believe in recycling. This time it is in a most literal fashion. I will continue to pedal my way on a refurbished bike of my own making.

Buying new equipment feeds the economy, but it also means chucking an old bike that could land inappropriately in a land fill. I could donate it, of course, but I wouldn’t know how and where it would end up. Maybe scrap for parts. Concerned about the environment, I want to make things last and I go the extra mile, in metaphorical fashion, to make sure that I follow through.

A bike is your daily transportation and gets you to where you want to go fast. But you can also enjoy the beauty of your environs as I do. An island has glorious vistas, scenic coastal views, and vast grassy plains dotted with trees of an indigenous kind. You can enjoy a visit to the countryside any day you like because it is always there in your midst.

To keep my bike pristine and nice-looking, I recently painted it with a paint sprayer designed for car paint that a friend had. I had to mask off certain areas that I didn’t want hit by the flow of the paint, but that was easy. Using several colors, I made a most appealing design. This kind of paint applicator gives you very professional results. There was no way this bike would be mistaken for anyone else’s when I was finished. No one would want to steal something so unique. You would be caught before you could pedal five minutes. Island living means everyone knows everyone, and that includes identifying their bikes. When parked, mine is an eye catcher to be sure.

You can paint all kinds of objects, utilitarian and otherwise, with such a sprayer so it pays to invest and have one on hand. They need to be cleaned and stored properly, but it is worth the effort. It will function fully the next time you need a bit of surface improvement or decoration. Kids love them for a favorite pastime. For me, painting the bike was the epitome of my personal mark on a possession. I love it as mentioned and expect it to love me back with years of impending usage.

This blog is an ode to my bicycle as silly as that might seem. It is a tribute to a basic mode of transportation that will never become outmoded or surpassed. Sure, you can drive faster to your destination and enjoy the fine leather seats, but a bike is pure, unadulterated exercise in the outdoors that will do you more good than ensconced inside a bit of metal.

Something is Better Than Nothing For Environmentalism

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Far too many people have an all or nothing approach to environmentalism, which is why more people don’t take up the cause. I tell someone to bike to work if they can, and they assume that I mean that they should do it in all kinds of weather and regardless of the clothing that they need to wear for work. I suggest that people use less water, and they assume that I mean that they can’t shower now and that they should only be drinking rainwater from now on. I don’t know if they’re assuming that I really am that petty of a person, which I hope not, or if they are just trying to rationalize away doing anything for the cause.

People use a lot of water each and every day, and that water usage is going to add up a lot over the course of any person’s lifetime. Using one less gallon per day can add up really fast too. Turning off the faucet slightly quicker is often all the effort that it takes in order to save a gallon of water every day, since people will use a lot of water just when it comes to their sinks. No one is saying that you should never wash your hands, which wouldn’t ultimately be good for the environment anyway, since it would cause problems with diseases that society at large would have to fix in a resource-intensive manner. Making little changes to your lifestyle can have huge impacts.

The people who can make huge changes to their lives obviously should. However, lots of people are wasting water and energy for reasons that don’t actually make their lives any better. They’re using old-fashioned and inefficient light bulbs instead of LED bulbs just because those older light bulbs are the ones that they are familiar with, which is never a good reason to do anything. They’re driving to the gym to use a treadmill instead of taking a walk outside and getting an even better workout. They’re leaving the lights on at the other end of the house, and no one is even around to appreciate all of the energy that is being consumed at that moment.

Your Bike Can Free You From Your Car

Your Bike Can Free You From Your Car

Lots of people own bikes, and they’ll pull them out of the closet a few times a year in order to ride them in the summer. Bikes aren’t just toys. They can be solid vehicles in their own right. They also have the benefit of being operated by muscle power only, which is automatically going to make them more energy-efficient than almost any other vehicle that you are ever going to ride in your life. You can burn calories and save energy with the same ride, which makes it a really sweet deal. It’s a sweet deal that more people need to try for themselves.

I know that not everyone can ride a bike to complete errands or commute to work. Some people have mobility problems and other disabilities that would stop that from happening. Other people just don’t live in areas that have accessible or safe sidewalks, so they’re not going to have any good place to ride their bikes. The fear of your bike getting stolen is a very real one, since stealing and selling a bike is going to be easier and is going to carry less risk than stealing and selling a car.

However, the people who can ride a bike to work or to complete other chores are really strongly advised to do so as often as they possible can. They really will be able to save a lot of money on gasoline in the process. I couldn’t believe how much money I saved on gasoline in only a month by commuting to work on a bicycle.

You might think that it’s going to take forever to get to work if you go in that direction. However, you really don’t realize just how much time you’re wasting by sitting in traffic when you’re driving to work at rush hour. On a bicycle, you can take your own route to work. The proverbial bike lane is free, and you will find yourself riding right past the drivers who are stuck in traffic. It is true that you might need to give yourself some extra time in order to get there, but riding to work by bicycle is faster than a lot of people think.

The fitness benefits of riding a bike need no introduction. Estimates vary, but some experts say that bike riders can burn hundreds of calories in an hour of bike riding. People will barely burn off any energy at all when they’re just driving into work, since walking into your car is the only exercise that you’re getting then. You can save on your gym membership when you bike to your place of work every day. You don’t need one any more, since you’re probably getting an even better workout by just riding your bike to work.

Naturally, you don’t just have to ride to work to get these benefits. If you ride to the bank, you’ll be saving on gasoline as well. Even making a habit of riding your bike when you can is going to manage to make a huge difference when it comes to your lifelong carbon footprint.

The Case for Hydroponics and Aquaponics

It’s frustrating that in all of the discussions of sustainable agriculture; hydroponics, aquaponics, and aeroponics will rarely come up even among the most technologically progressive commentators. People are still not really appreciating some of the biggest problems facing modern agriculture today. The biggest limiting factor with all agriculture is not the amount of energy that you have.

There are plenty of different sources of energy for us to use today. We don’t have to rely on fossil fuels. Even water, as important as it is, is not the most important factor when you are evaluating the sustainability of agriculture. With enough green energy, we can still use desalination in order to artificially boost the amount of water that we have in the world today. Water shortages are important problems, and they are already happening all around the world. However, the most important factor when it comes to agriculture is the soil.

Humanity has turned landscapes that used to be beautiful and verdant into veritable deserts as a result of unsustainable agricultural practices. Agricultural techniques have improved since the old days of slash and burn agriculture, but in many parts of the world, they still haven’t. The rain forests are still being cleared away all the time, and they’re never coming back. Humanity is quickly clearing away all of the arable land in our world in the exact same way.

Fortunately, we have actually learned how to do farming without any soil. With hydroponics and aeroponics, exposing the roots of the plants to a nutrient solution is more than enough to get the job done. People can raise fantastic plants without the need for soil, and without the need to slowly but surely wear out the soil.

There are individuals who will object to the idea that aeroponics and similar techniques can be practiced on a large scale, but they will typically not go into detail as to why. It just seems to be a conviction that a lot of people have. Maybe they think that people would have done so years ago if it was such a good idea. However, it should be noted that in the United States, agricultural subsidies are a force to be reckoned with, which is more than enough of a reason to keep the agricultural industry and the nature of agricultural production highly stagnant in the United States.

Aeroponics is being practiced on a large scale, particularly in East Asia. Many futurists also believe that it will be possible to bring aeroponics into the cities in order to make cities genuinely self-sufficient. The fact that cities are completely dependent upon the rural areas for food has always put them in something of a vulnerable position. The fact that it takes so much energy to move food from the country to the city has always represented a huge inefficiency in the system. Today, food is moved from one country to another in many cases, which is one of the reasons why we are able to get certain types of food all year long when it used to be seasonal.

There is no reason to have to sacrifice our berries in January. We don’t have to give up our colorful diets full of fruits and vegetables. We also don’t have to use so much fuel just to transport our food, to say nothing of the amount of fuel that we use to produce it in the first place. Aeroponics and similar techniques will use a fraction of the water and the fuel that conventional agriculture uses. People will save on fuel and water at all points in the commodity chain through the use of aeroponics.

I’m imagining a future where we have huge skyscrapers full of indoor aeroponics farms. People will purchase their produce at a farmer’s market downstairs. These markets will be located on the bus line. Cities will be able to sustain themselves without the country.

Urban areas are already more environmentally friendly than rural areas in many ways, contrary to popular belief. The fact that many cities are polluted is in no way inherent to the concept of a city in the first place, and has everything to do with the nature of the fuel that we use and our inefficient transportation. In cities, people have only a small space to call their own. In the country, people will have acres of their own. You have lots of people living together in cities, where everything is located within only a few miles of everything else. We need to really exploit the full potential of our cities, and aeroponics can help us do that. There is no reason to have dirty cities.

Advice for Whale Watchers

Whale watching is fun for the whole family, even if you have a family of one. Whales are some of the most extraordinary creatures in nature, and the opportunity to see one of them at comparatively close range is incredible. If you’re a parent and you are trying to get your kids interested in nature and environmentalism, taking the family whale watching can really help. You’ll get them to appreciate nature right off the bat. Whales are close to being sapient, which makes it that much more important to protect them. They’re incredible creatures as well as important creatures.

Lots of people on whale watching boats will think that there are good places to watch for the whales and bad places to watch for them. They might try to figure out what the best places are. You’ll be spending the whole trip thinking that, since there is no ‘right’ place. The whales could appear at any side of the boat at any time. They’re unpredictable. After all, they don’t know that people are paying to see them.

One of the biggest things that you have to keep in mind while whale watching is that you shouldn’t underestimate the feeling of sea sickness. Don’t try to be a hero. Lots of people insist that it isn’t going to happen to them, and then they start feeling queasy right on cue. It’s better to prepare for that possibility than insist that you’re immune and that you’re a born sailor, even if you’ve almost never been on a boat in your life.

If you go on the lower deck of the ship, if applicable, your sea sickness or motion sickness should start to get better. You’ll be closer to the water that way, so you’ll feel more like you’re moving with it rather than against it. Bringing some anti-nausea remedies with you might be able to help you in advance as well. I’ve often found that focusing on the sea and something else that’s very far away has a tendency to make the experience better.

Naturally, the whale watching tips that people care about the most are the tips that are going to make it more likely for them to see whales, and these tips just don’t exist. Really. If these tips existed, certainly vacation services would be able to out-compete all of their competitors automatically because of that awesome trick of the trade.

Naturally, some waters have more whales than others, and going whale watching in a place with a high whale population is a prerequisite. However, places without a reasonably high whale population in the first place don’t bother to offer whale watching, and the differences between the whale population in one of these places over the other places is going to be negligible. All you can do is keep your eyes open, be patient, and wait for the whales to appear when you go on one of these expeditions.

Is Organic Really Better?

Environmentalists will argue until we are blue in the mouth about whether organic food is better than local food, and then we’ll keep on going. There is a lot of controversy about this. From an environmental standpoint, anything that takes more energy to get to a particularly location will typically be worse for the environment, because the ravages of fuel use are typically so severe.

It should also be noted that organic food can have chemicals. They just have to be chemicals that weren’t produced in a laboratory. Arsenic is all-natural, and it is just as bad for you as arsenic that was synthesized in a laboratory. Organic food isn’t grown in soil on another planet, either: it’s grown in the same toxic world as everything else. There is no way to make your food immune from toxins.

Local food often is organic. You’re going to be buying your local food from a nearby farmer, who probably doesn’t have the methods of an industrial farmer in any way, shape, or form. You’re also going to be using less fuel to do so from a commodity-chain perspective, since your food was grown a few miles from you.

Aeroponics farming is going to be the future of farming, and people won’t have to use pesticides in order to do it. However, until it becomes standard and mainstream, going local is better than going organic.