Father’s Day is this Sunday, June 17th, so now’s the time to start thinking about ways to celebrate with dad. Fortunately, there are numerous gift ideas that won’t compromise your ambitions to go green!
SEND AN E-CARD
Thanks to the Internet, these days you no longer have to use paper to send your dad a card and let him know how much he means to you. Go paperless, save a tree, and send him an e-card he’ll get in his email box on June 17th. Some are even free! I enjoy using www.egreetings.com or www.hallmark.com, but there are tons of other great options as well.
MAKE YOUR OWN PRESENT
A great way to go green is to get creative, using what you already have around the house (a.k.a. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) instead of running out and buying something new. Dust off your sewing machine and make a “Greatest Griller” apron out of scrap fabric, or make a photo collage of you and your dad that he can display at home or in his office. Not only will it be a truly one-of-a-kind gift, but Dad will love that it came from you.
Go retro (and sustainable) by visiting your local thrift store or yard sale for some great vintage finds. Reusing what’s already here means conserving energy that would’ve been used to produce a brand new product, not to mention cutting down on the waste of packaging. With a little searching, you can usually find great gifts such as old records, barely worn ties, or maybe some antique collectables your dad would really love.
SPEND TIME OUTDOORS WITH DAD
Rekindling an appreciation for nature serves as a critical reminder of why being green is so important in the first place. Whether your dad enjoys gardening, hiking, playing catch or fishing, get outside with him and enjoy the day! Depending on where you live, he might even receive discounted rates at outdoor attractions such as zoos, parks or horse ranches. Regardless of how you spend your time outside, he’ll enjoy spending that special time with you.
GET A GREEN GADGET
If your Dad is more tech-savvy, there are plenty of eco-friendly gadgets on the market. Minimize harm to the environment by looking for gadgets that last, are biodegradable, and/or can be recycled. Consider products that use alternative power sources, such as a laptop case with a built-in solar panel, or a green surge protector that detects when electronics aren’t in use and cuts off the power (saving dad money on his energy bills!). Even electric razors can be considered green compared to disposable ones, because they last longer and in the long run generate less waste. –Sarah Vied
Whether you call it ecotourism, green travel, responsible travel, nature travel or ethical travel, the ethos of traveling more sustainably is becoming an increasingly hot topic in the tourism industry. But if people seem to have a difficult time figuring out which name to call the “take only pictures, leave only footprints” approach, they seem to have an even harder time figuring out practical ways to do it.
The truth is, you don’t need to spend a lot of money to become a more eco-friendly traveler. In fact, becoming more conscious about HOW you travel can actually save you money. Better still, when responsibly applied, the principle ideals of ecotourism can stimulate financial growth in developing nations, strengthening the global economy.
Individually, one person taking these baby steps to going green might not seem to make much of an impact. But if we all take simple strides towards being more conscious of our impact in the planet, collectively we can make a world of difference. Here are 10 easy ecotourism tips so you can travel more responsibly and sustainably, not just for Earth Day but for every day!
1. PACK LIGHT- Lightening up your load saves money on baggage fees and increases plane fuel-efficiency. Pack items that can be washed in the sink and are quick drying so they can be worn multiple times during your trip. We recommend (but do not receive compensation from) the ExOfficio brand, and wear it everywhere we travel.
2. SAVE WATER- Take shorter showers, turn off the faucet while shaving and brushing your teeth, and re-use towels for multiple days. And NEVER use the hotel laundry, as they typically wash each guest’s clothes separately, even if there are only a few items.
3. SAVE ENERGY- When you leave your hotel room, turn off the lights, heat/AC and TV. Consider leaving the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door so that the housekeeping staff won’t clean your room every day, which will save on harsh chemical cleaning supplies and the electricity of vacuuming and washing bed linens.
4. REDUCE/REUSE/RECYCLE- Take a BPA-free water bottle you can refill, use just one bar of soap for both sink and shower, return brochures and maps once you’re finished using them, and hold on to your trash until you find a place to recycle it.
5. BUY LOCAL- Seek out indigenous artisans and learn about their craft. When we were in the Riviera Maya near Coba, we saw tons of assembly line art, but wound up buying from a man who taught local children and tourists the ancient craft of Mayan pottery and distributed profits equally among families in his village.
6. LEAVE ONLY FOOTPRINTS- Stick to marked trails to avoid harming native flora, and consider taking a bag to pick up trash along your journey. Not only is it a great way to help keep the outdoors beautiful, but it also protects wildlife that might eat or get tangled in the garbage.
7. BE A TRAVELER, NOT A TOURIST- Take time to immerse yourself in the local music, art and cuisine. Embrace the cultural differences that make it unique. Get to know the locals and how they view life. You might be surprised at the things you learn when you open your mind to new ideas!
8. HONOR LOCAL TRADITIONS- Some cultures have very different traditions from yours. Women are forbidden to show skin in some Muslim countries. For some, being photographed in like having your soul stolen. Understand and respect these traditions, or risk offending the people whose culture you’re there to experience.
9. GIVE BACK- Developing nations are badly in need of basic necessities most people take for granted. Traveling gives you a unique experience that stays with you for the rest of your life. In return, consider giving something back, such as bringing school supplies on tours in which you know you’ll interact with locals.
10. SHOP SMARTER- Read labels, and ask questions like “What is this item made from?” All over the planet people sell items made from non-sustainable hardwoods, endangered species, and ancient artifacts. It may be alright in their country to sell them, but you can still vote with your wallet by refusing to buy them. –Bret Love
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Now that you’ve prepared your spring beds there are some easy, economical ways to attract birds to your garden. Food, water and shelter is all you’ll need to provide to make our fine feathered friends feel welcome and safe so they’ll keep coming back. In addition to seed-filled feeders, you can also provide fresh, environmentally-friendly meals by recycling kitchen scraps into tasty treats. Here are some of our favorite avian snacks and ways to prepare them:
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As the weather continues to warm and days grow longer, there’s no better time to get outside and create your most eco friendly garden ever. Growing your own vegetables and herbs can be fun, healthy and economical, and planting ornamentals is a great way to attract wildlife and add aesthetic value to any yard or deck. When preparing and maintaining your plants, keep these green gardening tips in mind for a garden that stays healthy and beautiful all summer long.
• As you prep your garden for the hot months to come, consider choosing native plants and those that attract wildlife. Not only are native plants low-maintenance, hardy and naturally grow well in your environment, but they are also well-suited for local wildlife.
• Choose brightly-colored flowers such as red or purple petunias to attract birds and wildlife, as those attracted early in the season are likely to stick around all summer. Plant a row of mauve or yellow flowers to attract butterflies and simultaneously provide them with a wind barrier and safe place to perch.
• Flowers such as sunflower, blazing star, coneflower and zinnia make great sources of bird seed. Sunflower and zinnia are also great for attracting honeybees. Don’t forget to provide wildlife with a clean source of drinking water.
• Recycled containers such as yogurt cups and egg cartons are great for starting seeds. Use a nail to poke drainage holes in the bottom, and ensure the containers are thoroughly cleaned before planting.
• Prepare raised beds early in the season, as they warm up faster than the surrounding soil. Vegetables and leafy greens are best for raised beds, while herbs grow well in containers. Add compost early, as it’s much easier when plants are only inches tall.
• If you are using new nursery plants in your garden, make sure to harden them off before moving outside as they often need time to adjust to your climate.
• Maximize space by companion planting. Corn, beans and squash work well together, as corn grows tall and provides a structure for the beans to grow up, while squash shades the roots. Using these easy tips, you can be sure your green garden will grow to be the envy of the neighborhood! –Holly Young
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With an overwhelming variety of health and beauty products to choose from, it’s not always easy to tell which are the best for you and the environment. As good as they may seem, many terms such as “natural” and “hypoallergenic” aren’t subject to substantiation by the Food and Drug Administration. With no set standards, companies may define and use them freely. Deceptive marketing intended to make a product seem more environmentally friendly is known as greenwashing, which can make shopping both difficult and confusing. Here’s how FDA labeling defines some common terms:
Natural or Naturally Derived- There is no definition to use for “natural” and other similar terms. Both naturally occurring and synthetically derived chemicals can be harmful, so labeling as such says nothing of a product’s safeness to humans or the environment.
Hypoallergenic- There are no standards or requirements for a product to be labeled “hypoallergenic.” Free to define the term as they wish, companies may (and do) use the label even if the product contains known allergens.
Organic- The FDA has no legal definition of the term and does not enforce its use. However, any cosmetic or body care product that contains agricultural ingredients must be certified by the National Organic Program to use the term. Products that do not contain agricultural ingredients may use the term without regulation, though they may be certified under private standards.
Earth-Friendly or Eco-Safe- These terms are unregulated by the FDA and USDA, and have no legal basis. Beware of products making these claims without certification under known standards.
Fair Trade- Products that have been certified by Fair Trade USA ensure the producer has been compensated fairly, allowing them to invest in more sustainable practices or purchase higher quality inputs.
So, what should you look for on body product labels? Be wary of goods that make unsubstantiated claims. In fact, many with private certifications meet higher standards than those without. Cosmetics are also commonly tested on animals, so look for labels that state the product was not tested under such conditions, and, in general, avoid ingredients you can’t pronounce. Oil-based soaps are often gentler than those with glycerin, but beware of preservatives in both cases. Parabens, in particular, have been known to be carcinogenic. –Holly Young