If We Want To

Most importantly, we learn about the problem of land and wildlife management – a problem that is vital for us to solve if we want to leave a proper legacy for our children.” –Reel Life with Jane

It’s that time of year when annual lists are published. Best movies, books, music, people, and events. I think most of the “best” I’ve experienced is ordinary becoming extraordinary.

Today I watched Unbranded. It’s a vivid and beautifully portrayed documentary about four Aggies (Whoop!) who post graduation want to make an epic 3,000 mile trip on horseback from Mexico to Canada. But not just with any horses, they want to do it with mustangs – wild horses – to continue conversation about this species and the various sides of argument associated with protecting wild horses, protecting the land, and unfortunate pitting of ranching versus preservation somewhere in between.

Powerful camera angles sketch their adventure across the West, visiting places surely ridden by Gus McCrae and Teddy Roosevelt alike. Their horses balk on steep slopes and cholla cactus filled desert-scape, the riders lose favorite steeds to illness and even one to death, they rodeo in the heart of the West on July 4th, they bicker, they laugh, they ponder. Many great musings come from these four men and those who help them on their journey.A trusty donkey named “Donquita” follows the drive and impresses at times with graceful leaps across obstacles and hind leg kicks at sheep in the wrong place at the wrong time. It is calming to hear their words echo much of my own sentiment about what it means to figure out living your life and doing it with a purpose about things important to you.

I highly recommend the movie. It was funded through a Kickstarter project, which also pleases me about the power of crowdfunding for a cause. And it’s on Netflix, so now (most of) you really don’t have an excuse. Then, you can purchase your own copy in a wide variety of hard copy or digital download versions from their website, because you’ll be sure to want to add this to your Best Of collection.

 

Cover photo credit: Unbranded Blog by Ben Masters here

Geology Wednesday

I love it when a plan comes together!

This summer on Nautilus my expedition legs were called “California Borderlands” and my three and half weeks of sailing were right off the coast of San Diego, Long Beach, Palos Verdes, Catalina Island, and Monterey Bay. During our dives off the coast of Catalina, our Chief Scientist, Chris German, was leading our ROV exploration in collaboration with geologists from Wyoming and California. Research has shown that Catalina Island is submerging at a fraction of a millimeter per year, and tilting ever so slightly toward the mainland of California. Big picture: the submerging and tilting could cause underwater landslides which in turn can fuel a tsunami.

A fancy vocabulary word for you: tsunamigenic – the potential for a tsnuami to be generated or caused by major subductive plate boundary activity

In the tsunami’s pathway – mainland California, a mere 26 miles across San Pedro Channel. And Hercules, the ROV for Nautilus, was part of that research this summer. AND, I was just on Catalina Island to talk with CIMI Instructors at Toyon Bay about this geologic discovery.

The research was just highlighted at the Catalina Island Conservancy Symposium in Long Beach last month and written about in this article. More details and a shoutout to the Nautilus Expedition here!

 

ROV drawing of Hercules by the talented Karen Romano Young

APPLY FOR ADVENTURE!

Less than a month to go for submitting 2016 applications to join the Corps of Exploration and sail the Pacific Ocean with E/V Nautilus.

Find out more and apply HERE!

There are opportunities for undergraduate/graduate internships, informal/formal Educator fellowships and the high school Honors Program for rising Seniors! There is even an artist patch-design contest for ages 6-14.

Please contact me directly if you would like more information or if I can help you or someone you know with your application.

 

Holidays for Earth Part II

I hope you enjoyed Part I of this series a few days ago.

My next tips are ones you can practice this season and maybe they will become habits you can take advantage of year-round!

1.) Carry a reusable water bottle! You gotta stay hydrated while pounding the pavement looking for gifts or enjoying family outings. Water fountains are abundant at shopping malls, and many fast-found restaurants will gladly fill your bottle when you go inside. *Insider’s Tip: it violates safe food handling requirements for many establishments, so if you opt for drive-thru, a business can’t take your bottle from you to refill it (by window). Plus, when ordering coffee, it’s a little awkward for you to order, pull around, give money AND give your cup for a drink to be made. Slows down the whole drive-thru point of their business.

I’ve never had a food or drink establishment reject filling my water bottle inside their business however, and in many coffee chains, you get a discount for using your own mug!

2.) Plan reusable for your holiday parties, or use a sustainably-made backup if you absolutely must use disposable products.

I’ve heard people talk about using paper plates as being more sustainable than “running all that water” to clean real dishes by hand. This is simply not true. With the average home kitchen sink and dishwasher, and using it responsibly (fill a sink with soapy water, run the rinse water on low, use the efficiency setting on your dishwasher, and even better, don’t use the heated dry option) – there is no way a single-use disposable resource stacks up to real dish use when serving your average home holiday party group number.

When planning holiday parties or attending them, ask your guests or host to bring a favorite holiday mug for beverages, or make this a party gift, then everyone has a cup for the occasion and to take home. Asking guests to bring their own “take-out” container is also a great move – you’ll use less plastic wrap, baggies and foil wrapping up leftover goodies.

If numbers or time constraints dictate you CAN’T live without single-use dishes, cups or silverware, do your best to find 100% recycled or compost-friendly wares. But buyer beware! There are many options of recycled/compostable/biodegradable products out there and depending on where you live, this will dictate how to responsibly get rid of it. Some items still need to be sorted into recycling after use, but others may “look” recyclable but are actually meant to be trashed and go to landfill. It’s a lot of work to find the details, which brings me back to my original point – just use the dishes and silverware and cups you already have! Plus, your wonderful guests will probably offer to help wash up. And if they don’t, you need to invite better people to your party next time:)

Any other ideas out there about “greening” your holiday season? These are simple changes, folks. Whether you try one of them or all of them, I truly believe in the difference small actions like these will make on the future of our environment and resources and I hope you’ll join me.

Cover photo credit: City of Garden Grove, CA

Holidays for Earth

BREAKING NEWS (Coldspring, TX): Holiday Earth Friendly Reminders Part 1.

Today, two simple, important reminders here for you, Santa, the elves, holiday-gift givers and anyone else who will be acquiring and presenting gifts to loved ones this season. Let’s talk about shopping bags and wrapping paper!

1.) BRING YOUR OWN BAG! to the stores for holiday shopping. Not just for groceries (but that is an awesome start!) but for gift-buying too.

It is seriously the #1 way you can alter your everyday or every week actions to deliberately help the environment. And there are so many options now – you can pay a bit more (usually $1-$10) and get a nice plain or decorated tote from your favorite store to carry your gift home. A gift for them, a gift for you.And – that reusable bag is most likely 100% non-see through for the gift-peekers in your life.

My favorite type of bag to use is a Chico Bag, it stuffs into itself, fitting easily in my purse for every time I need it. I take out my purchases at the car or else bring along several if I am making stops at several stores.  Here’s 4 for $20 at Amazon with free shipping!

2.) Wrapping paper 101: Simply put, don’t use it – there are better and more reusable ways! Brown paper bags (from those times you forgot your reusable grocery bags and couldn’t stand the thought of coming home with a wad of plastic ones), newspapers (I collect a thin stack from my travels and save them for wrapping gifts throughout the year), old maps (thank you Philmont map piles!). You can seek old paper products at thrift shops. If you MUST have that beautiful, shiny, rolled paper product, do your part and find some made of recyclable material and sourced from sustainable forest initiative company members. I have also encouraged my family to invest in reusable ribbon or gift boxes that can double as memento storage after the holidays.

Some food for thought on this as you go about the rest of your day – this excerpt is from 1st-ecofriendlyplanet.com

Fact : Wrapping paper and shopping bags account for about 4 million tons of trash each year in the U.S. It is estimated that if every American family wrapped just three presents in reused materials, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields and if they reused just two feet of holiday ribbon, the 38,000 miles of ribbon saved could tie a bow around the entire planet. Due to the materials( dyed, coated, laminated, plasticetc ) wrapping paper and ribbon are typically difficult to be recycled.”

Anybody else have some great ideas for what to use as wrapping paper? Please share in the comments below!

More holiday Earth-friendly reminders coming at ya soon! Stay tuned right here.

Cover photo credit: ewyork.cbslocal.com

#GivingTuesday is #TransformationTuesday

There are several important things about today: it’s the first day of the last month of 2015! It’s Giving Tuesday! It’s World AIDS Day! It’s a NEW day!

Giving Tuesday has gained some popularity in the last several years – for many it’s a reminder of fast approaching holiday gift-buying, and for some, the continuation of what Black Friday, Cyber Monday, etc. have provided already. It is also for those organizations who will advertise the hashtag and benefit from $5 here or $20 there to a particular non-profit or volunteer group. Giving Tuesday is a great time to evaluate which topics in your wheelhouse could benefit from a donation of time, money or support.

With a daily barrage of unpleasant and upsetting news topics about greed, intolerance and coldness to fellow human beings, #GivingTuesday is a nice reprieve. One can seek out a group within your own community to help, look up a non-profit who dedicates their organization to causing change for the better. One of my favorite kinds of support, mostly to strangers, comes through crowd-funding sites which allow people to raise personal funds, funds for creative projects and pledging sites which have a minimum amount of support required for projects to be endorsed. I have seen amazing and creative projects through these platforms and a $10 donation can go a long way once thousands of people are doing it.

World AIDS Day is dedicated to spreading awareness about HIV (human immunodeficiency virus), the infection which causes AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome), and mourning those who have lost their lives to the disease. Every year sine 1988, December 1st has marked this remembrance and awareness-building day. Find out more here. I am not sure how purposeful those who first trended #GivingTuesday meant for it to align with a worldwide issue which needs everyone to be more giving of education, awareness and understanding, but I think it is very fitting.

I encourage you today to extend yourself to a friend, a stranger, a group, a cause, a topic – anything that can benefit from your help.

#GivingTuesday should humble us all to think about something bigger than ourselves. Make it a great one.