The Carbon-Friendly Commute: Bicycling

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Bicycling to work 

Biking to work may not be the most practical option for all of us - especially those of us who wear skirts on occasion, or need to drop the kids off at daycare - but it remains an option. If you're one of the brave few who strap on a helmet daily, we've provided a reminder round-up of safety tips to keep in mind. 

And for those of you who have never even considered biking to work, give it a second thought. With gas prices skyrocketing, it's a sure way to save some cash and get a good workout in at the same time! 

1. Be bike safe (and smart)
Just like you would tune-up your car before a trip, take stock of your bicycle and take time for proper maintenance.  For more tips, visit the League of American Bicyclists.

  • Wear a helmet
  • Check the air pressure in both tires; know what pressure is best for your tires and your terrain
  • Pack a portable pump and extra inner tubes or a patch kit so you are ready to fix a flat
  • Know the bicycle safety and traffic laws for your area 

2. Turn your bicycle into the ultimate commuter
Forgo the racks or panniers and opt for a lightweight trailer like this one from BOB.

  • Easily attaches to your bicycle’s back wheel
  • Has a low center of gravity to keep weight off of your bicycle frame, which means better bike handling
  • Tracks with your back wheel, which means it’s easy to navigate your commuter route
  • Provides plenty of storage capacity for all of your gear, plus anything you need to pick up along the way

3. Dress for commuter success
When commuting by bicycle, be prepared by anticipating changes in weather and wearing comfortable clothing. These factors can make or break an enjoyable commute. 

  • Dress in layers made of breathable fabrics.  It may start out cooler at the beginning of your morning ride, but you’ll warm up quickly and may want to shed layers
  • If your ride is longer, consider wearing bicycling shorts
  • Don’t forget to tie down your right pant leg – your drive train can easily chew up loose fabric
  • Shoes should be sturdy with rubber soles to provide traction on pedals

4. Map your ride
Find the best bike route and get mentally prepared using Google's Bicycling Directions. Even take a virtual ride before you go.

5. Pack up essentials
Take a few minutes and consider what you’ll need to make it easy, convenient and fun:

  • A change of clothes or shoes
  • A travel set of toiletries such as deodorant, hair brush and cleansing body-freshening wipes to transition from the bike lane to the office setting
  • Pack your lunch and snacks to maintain energy throughout the day

For more earth-friendly transportation ideas, visit our Road & Travel Magazine partner, Planet Driven.

(Source: BOB Gear)


Ten Tips for Taking a Volunteer Vacation

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Volunteer Vacation

These days, many travelers are forgoing traditional vacations in order to take part in a volunteer vacation. Volunteer vacations gives average travelers the chance to volunteer abroad by taking part in a worthwhile project such as helping to preserve endangered wild animals or ecosystems through wildlife conservation programs, often in remote parts of the world, and much more. Dr. Matthias Hammer, Executive Director of non-profit wildlife conservation volunteer organization Biosphere Expeditions, offers his top ten tips on how to choose the right volunteer vacation for you:

1. Make sure it is a well-established organization with a proven track record of making a real difference in the projects it has become involved with – has it won any awards for its work?

2. If, for example, the project is about wildlife conservation, make sure that the program is run on verifiable scientific grounds. While you give your time as an interested traveler who wants to make a difference, you need to have peace of mind that the project you are helping with is being run by a qualified scientist.

3. Ask where your money goes. To truly make a difference, it is best if as much money and resources as possible go to help the local environment in the country the project is in. Reputable organizations will always publish information about how funds are distributed to the public.

4. Make sure that the organization keeps you up to date on how your volunteer project is progressing. Even though you may have only been there for one or two weeks, many volunteer programs run for many years. Make sure that you will be sent regular reports to see what is happening with the program.

5. Many volunteer vacations will take place in remote parts of the world where you may have close encounters with potentially dangerous wild animals. Make sure the organization that you are volunteering with has an excellent safety record and takes the whole issue seriously.

6. Do some background research on your expedition leader and make sure that they are qualified. To some extent you may be putting your life in their hands, so you need to be sure they have all the necessary qualifications.

7. Determine what new skills you will learn on your volunteer vacation and how you will be taught these skills. One of the biggest bonuses of a volunteer program may be learning something new in an exciting environment and you want to make sure that the people who are teaching you are well qualified.

8. Make sure that you have clear goals about what you hope to accomplish out of the whole experience and don’t be afraid to ask questions or seek the views of travelers who have gone before you. Reputable organizations will always offer to put you in touch with previous travellers – if they don’t, beware.

9. Find out who you will be traveling with. As you may be virtually living “next door” to each other for some time, you need to be comfortable with the type of people you are likely to be with. The organization should be able to tell you about the kind of people who typically attends their projects. Facebook, blog pages, and social media outlets can be invaluable information gathering tools for volunteer vacations.

10. Most importantly, determine if it will be fun. Although most volunteer vacations have a serious purpose, you should have fun considering that you are spending your valuable vacation time “giving back”.

For more tips, advice, and information about volunteer vacations and volunteer wildlife conservation programs visit Biosphere Expeditions.


The Cleanest Cities in the U.S.

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Clean cities More than half of all Americans live in cities with unhealthy levels of air pollution, most commonly masking itself as smog or soot, according to the American Lung Association (ALA). What's worse is that breathing in partical pollution can increase your risk of early death, heart attack, stroke or serious illness if you already suffer from asthma, cardiovascular disease or diabetes. 

When its inhaled, ozone irritates your lungs, causing a reaction similar to a bad sunburn inside your body.  And shocking as it is, despite the Clean Air Act and our nation's attempts to cut back on emission levels, air pollution has actually become worse in some parts of our country over the past year.

Two cities, however—Honolulu, HI and Santa Fe, NM—ranked among the cleanest in the U.S. in the new 2011 State of the Air report by the ALA. They're not alone. The following areas were ranked as the Top 10 Cleanest U.S. Cities for Year-Round Partical Pollution:

#1: Cheyenne, WY
#2: Santa Fe-Espanola, NM
#3: Tucson, AZ
#4: Honolulu, HI
#4: Great Falls, MT
#6: Anchorage, AK
#7: Amarillo, TX
#7: Albuquerque, NM
#9: Redding, CA
#10: Salinas, CA

Are you lucky enough to live in one of these clean, green cities? To see your state's air pollution grade, visit the State of the Air website

For more earth-friendly tips, visit RTM's Earth Tones. 



Caribbean Cool Destinations for the Eco Chic

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Galley Bay 2 (1) Luxe-loving travelers need not sacrifice the finer things when going green. Instead, they can hit up one of these eco-friendly destinations, tucked in the Caribbean sands, for a bit of R&R—and a whole lot of mindfulness. 

Galley Bay Resort, Antigua (pictured left)
An exotic, all-inclusive hideaway that’s known for its state-of-the-art reverse osmosis water plant, this resort recycles salt water from the sea, purifying it for fresh water uses. Future plans will allow the hotel to bottle the fresh water into reusable glass containers. How cool is that? 

The Ritz-Carlton Golf & Spa Resort, Rose Hall, Jamaica
Green-Globe certified for its sustainable operations and conservation efforts, the Ritz is one resort that does more than just talk about greening up. From reusing linens to providing environmental education for its guests and community, the leader in luxury is committed to protecting Jamaica’s natural resources.

Barcelo Punta Cana, Punta Cana
With energy-saving upgrades to guest room air-conditioning units, as well as the installation of an ultraviolet purifier in its water treatment plant, this beachy resort is taking the necessary steps to green up. The company's corporate social responsibility program also launched, assisting schools and students.

For more earth-friendly travel tips, visit Earth Tones.

(You can see more Green Globe certified properties here, or book vacations at any of the above resorts via Cheap Caribbean.) 


Back Issues Available of EWP & RTM

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Did you know that our partner Road & Travel Magazine has been publishing since 1989? Among the hundreds of issues and thousands of articles published many have been dedicated strictly to environmental topics. There, in RTM's back issue section, articles have been archived back as far as 2001. Please feel free to search our back issue archives to find additional resources and articles on earth-friendly topics.

Did you know that Road & Travel Magazine was the first publication to give an award for the most environmental friendly car of the year? In 1997, RTM produced and hosted an auto awards show in Detroit which honored the GM - EV1 as the vehicle that was 'Most Likely to Change the World.'

The Earth-Friendly Award continued for several years but sadly there were so few competitors back then that we discontinued the award until more automakers joined the party. By 2009, most car companies had introduced various forms of eco-friendly vehicles from hybrid to diesel to now electric. As a result of their progress, we launched the Earth, Wind & Power Awards, which are dedicated to clean car technology. Stay tuned as we continue to expand the EWP Awards down the road.

Also visit the RTM Blog!

Please feel free to share EWP and RTM content with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. We welcome and appreciate your support.


Earth Tones - A Guide to Green Travel

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As many of you know, we are partnered with Road & Travel Magazine, a website dedicated to all things automotive, travel and personal safety on the road. What you may not know is that of all 18 categories in RTM's Travel Channel there is one that ventured out into the world of green long before it became a mainstream event, and that is Earth Tones. We encourage you to visit RTM and its earth-friendly section, where you'll find additional articles and resources for your ever changing environmental lifestyle. Please share RTM and Earth Tones with your friends on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Thank you. We appreciate your support.


Human Suffering In Japan Beyond Imagination

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How much worse can it get for one nation and its people? First, a 9.0 earthquake, the largest in Japan's history, 4th highest in human recorded history. Next, a devastating tsunami that wipes out entire towns killing more than 7000 people, SO FAR. Thousands more missing and presumed dead. Then, a nuclear power plant meltdown followed by a snow blizzard? Is it not enough that all these things have devastated the people of Japan, their lives and livlihoods stripped away in an instant? Now, without shelter they freeze, without water and food, they starve. Imagine if you will, when you lay in your warm bed tonight with a full stomach from a nice dinner, what these people are enduring without food, water and shelter, not even blankets to fend from the cold. Ask yourself, what can I do to help? Read about this on CNN - Shelter in a Box: . Ask what you can do, how you can help, how can you give of yourself in any way humanly possible to support our friends of Japan.


Gas Saving Tips for Eco-Friendly Vacation

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Couple hiking Gas prices have risen more than 35 percent in recent years. According to early estimates from the Travel Industry Association of America, 26 percent of people claim that soaring gas prices are stalling their travel plans.

Before you let the ExxonMobils of the world keep you from hitting the road, has a few gas-saving alternatives for you to consider … a way to make your summer greener...

[Read on]


Enjoy a Fuel Free Getaway

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Home-ranch Want a truly eco-friendly vacation? Or are you just looking for the experience of a lifetime? Well leave the car keys at home and reduce your carbon footprint by riding to work on a horse at the Lazy E-L Ranch.

  • The Lazy E-L Ranch, 70 miles southwest of Billings, Montana, is a cattle ranch.
  • This is a working vacation that may reorganize your priorities: your to-do list includes riding the fences, doctoring calves, and herding cattle.
  • The ranch disputes the notion that ranchers and conservationists can't get along goats are used instead of pesticide to eliminate weeds.
  • There are rooms in the lodge, but for the truly pre-industrial experience, ask for the riverfront cabin. There's no electricity or running water, only an outhouse, some cooking supplies, and a wood-burning stove to keep you company.

Visit Earth Tones for more on sustainable travel.


Top Ten Best Walking Cities

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Best-Walking-Cities Walking is one of the nation's favorite ways to exercise. A study conducted by the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) shows now more than ever, people living in cities are stepping up their walking regimes. That's good news! On average, every minute of walking can extend your life by about two minutes and the more people walk instead of taking automotive transportation they are reducing emissions.

Here are the top ten Best Walking Cities:

1. Arlington, VA: On the cusp of the nation's capital, it may come as no surprise that 23 percent of the city's workers use public transportation to get around. Keeping on their feet may be a way of life, since 35 percent of Arlingtonians walk for exercise.

2. San Francisco, CA: Getting to work by foot is not uncommon for this city by the bay, with nine percent of residents walking and two percent biking. This walking-conducive city touts that 32 percent of its residents walk for exercise and 35 percent buy athletic shoes.

3. Seattle, WA: It's not too far-fetched to expect a healthy lifestyle from residents living in Seattle. A whopping 35 percent walk for exercise and 36 percent buy some type of athletic shoes.

4. Portland, OR: Residents of this Northwestern city spend a good deal of time on their feet walking their dogs. Close to 22 percent are dog owners.

Click here to view the rest of the top walking cities.