Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Yesterday alone, we lost 70,000 jobs in the US. These are dark times. One of the lessons for me is to give up loving stuff and doing more loving of stuff that loves me back.

Love your iPod? Would you love a new Prius?

How about loving something that loves you back? Stuff doesn't do that.

How about doing something other than be entertained and amused?
85% of North American households didn't buy a nonfiction book in 2007--and 90 percent of those who did didn't read it. But our TVs run an average of six hours a day.

"I've never met one massively high achiever who has time to sit infront of the plug-in drug," writes James Ray, author of Harmonic Wealth, The Secret of Attracting the Life You Want.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Green Travel Resolutions

Ecocondundrums have prolonged my deliberations about my 2009 travel resolutions. For example, when I consider the report from Mother Jones on where carbon comes from and how to cut it, I concluded that after switching to solar and sharing a car--not many other efforts have an impact (less than 1 percent). Most carbon comes from coal burned for electric power and cars. If I've cut back my use of both, it seems the best I can do is help others do the same.

Or does it? Reexamining my travel resolutions for 2008 gave me some ideas for research and experimenting in 2009.

No More Offsets? I used to encourage guests to offset their flights to Sedona or Florida for their vacations. And in 2008, I resolved to buy offsets for all my flights (the only carbon left in my footprint). But this year, I've come to see offsets as a surcharge that is not my responsibility. Why should the consumer offset companies' garbage and let them cash in our conscience?

Christopher Elliot explained it this way in Newsweek, "Think about it: Would you be willing to voluntarily pay an extra $30 to your pharmaceutical company to clean up one of its toxic dumps? If anything, you would think twice before buying another one of that company's products. Which is exactly what travelers ought to do when faced with an offset option: run to the competition."

In a post-carbon world, we'll have to figure out new ways to get around on our travels. Instead of spending on offsets, this year I'm going to spend on efforts to reinvent transportation. I'll keep you "posted" on how my thinking evolves as I try it out.

Terrepass sees carbon offsetting as a path to the solutions, but I'm not yet convinced. Click here to read more about their position.

No More Luxury. I used to write about eco and luxury in the same sentence because consumers associated eco-friendly with backpacks and roughing it. But since then, green has gone mainstream and hippie is hip. People realize they can be green without comprimising their lifestyle. Being responsible is expected, not an extra.

With the word "luxury" becoming synonymous with the word "greed," I want to be clear my homes do not reflect excess or a lavish lifestyle. They're about comfort. And who'd be comfortable breathing VOCs and wasting electricity?

No More Recycling. Its a design problem, not a recycling problem. Recycling is too expensive. We need to use products that don't need recycling. Instead of promoting recycling programs, we're providing bags and bottles so guests can experiment with giving up plastic bags and water bottles altogether.

Focus on the Process Not the Product. Yes, essential oils are labeled "natural." But how is the aromatherapy made? Most essential oils are extracted using a chemical, the residue can trigger allergies and asthma. When I travel, I'm going to pay more attention to how people do business and less attention to the "labels." I'll look for More Wise, Enlightened Deals, avoiding the big, super, and mega. and rewarding the small, the slow, the local, the personal. As Kalle Lasn, Editor-in-Chief of Adbusters puts it, "Drive the evolution of capitalism, transforming it into a healthier, more just, more grassroots affair."

This blog is for bottom-up dispensers of cool who enjoy eco-travel deals and healthy living. We feel that "the small, the slow, the local, and the personal" will build the new economy. Your comments will help enrich this information for all of us.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Make Money - Save Money, Rent Local & Peer2Peer

In the spirit of less-is-more, let's keep renting! Peer-to-peer renting is big news in 2009, one of the many changes to come in the new economy. To make money, bottom-up, people rent their backyard as a campground, camera equipment for a photo shoot, power tools, strollers, designer purses, you name it, it's for rent on Zilok.
This blog is for bottom-up dispensers of cool who enjoy eco-travel deals and healthy living. We feel that "the small, the slow, the local, and the personal" will build the new economy. Your comments will help enrich this information for all of us.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Green Gifts for Valentine's Day

Green America Green Gift Guide

This Valentine's Day, we're making green gift giving easier—and helping you save money too. Our Green Gift Guide features special offers from businesses listed in the National Green Pages™. So this year, show you care by giving gifts from businesses that support people and the planet. And spread the love by forwarding this email to a friend.

Autonomie Project
Fair Trade Eco Friendly sneakers, tees, and accesories

Brilliant Earth
10% off Silver Pendandts with promotion code CABNXG exp 2- 28-09

Divine Chocolate
Fair Trade Divine makes Valentines sweet for you and cocoa farmers,

Endangered Species Chocolate
Recycled Valentine cards and natural chocolate treats – 15% off with code coop 15

Equal Exchange
10% off Equal Exchange Chocolate. Use code vday09 at checkout

Gift Green this Valentine’s Day! Free Shipping on purchases $35 or more with code VALEN.

Global Exchange Fair Trade Online Store
Fair Trade Eco-friendly gifts Take $10 Off $50+ orders with coupon code coopvalentine09

Grandpa Po's Originals
The crunchy organic popcorn snack with soubeans. "Snack of the Day" on Racheal Ray

Green America
Gift Memberships to Green America--One Year for $15 Dollars or less

Kates Caring Gifts
20% Discount - Earth Friendly Gifts for All, Treats for you.

Make Piece-Peace, Inc.
Nonprofit MakePiece teaches jewelrymaking entrepreneurship, helping low-income women earn living wages using their new skills.

Nubius Organics
Gift Sustainably! Save 15% on Eco-Conscious gifts for everyone on your list. Coupon Code ECO15

Organic Bouquet
Send your loved ones the finest eco-friendly roses and Organic Bouquet will add a FREE vase plus donate 10% of your purchase to Co-op America

Peaceful Company
Fashioning Peace One Person at a time. Enjoy this coupon code "peace2all" for a 10% Discount

Shaman Chocolates
Enjoy The Food of the Goods. All Profits Help Support Huichol Indians. Organic. Fair Trade.Gourmet

Sustainable Harvest
FREE CHOCOLATE SAUCE with donation to help Central American families plant cacao

The One Eyed Turtle
20% off all products including sale items, Use Code COPA208

Wedge Worldwide
Show your sweetie your Fair Trade side. From the Wedge Co-op in Minneapolis.

Zheny's Gypsy Tea
Drink Pink for berry good health! Introducing new SUPERBERRY TEA for Women

Green Fixes for the Economy

Bold solutions from the green economy are the antidote to the broken economy—and can repair the damage and create a world that works for all.

Everyone now understands that the economy is broken. What our members and readers have known for years— that the economy is not working for people and the planet—is now playing out on Wall Street and Main Street every day.
While many name the mortgage and credit-default-swap crises as culprits, they are only the most recent results of an economy with fatal design flaws. These design defects range from a dependence on growth, consumerism, and the structure of money to the short-term focus of today’s markets, and policy goals that are focused on growing Gross National Product. Yet, when GNP growth includes a whole set of “bads”—from sweatshop labor to manufacturing toxic chemicals—every dollar of GNP growth actually reduces wellbeing for people and the planet.
Taken together, these fatal flaws systematically create economic injustice, poverty, and environmental crises.

It doesn’t have to be that way. The green economy offers solutions that are the antidote to the current breakdown. Click here to read more on the Green America blog.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

I'm a Scuppie, You're a Scuppie, He's a Scuppie Too

Have you heard of Scuppies? If not, than you may not have heard of a financial planner named Chuck Failla. Failla came up with the term Scuppie (Socially Conscious Upwardly-mobile Person) to describe mainstream eco-friendly and environmentally conscious people.

Failla describes a Scuppie as a sort of anti-yuppie. Essentially, they are in the same life-space, but the Scuppie is more responsible and compassionate. Failla already has a book planned, a website designed, and master plans to adjust the nation’s vernacular.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Kayaking in Florida

Are you a baby boomer who wants to connect with nature? Nothing beats a glide down the crystal clear waters of the Ichetucknee River located in north-central Florida. Click here to read more.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

More Reasons to Shine in 2009

Along with the Inauguration of a man of many races and many people, who was elected by the only country in the world likely to do so, important anniversaries rank among the many reasons to celebrate 2009:


·         1609 Galileo peaked through a telescope.

·         1809 Darwin was born

·         1909 Founding of the NAACP and Japanese gift of 2,000 cherry trees planted in Washington, DC



More Green In Your Pocket

What you can do to go green and save money, click here to read the article.

Quick Tips for Finding a Vacation Rental or Self-Catering Holiday Home

This blog is for bottom-up dispensers of cool who enjoy eco-travel deals and healthy living. We feel that "the small, the slow, the local, and the personal" will build the new economy. Your comments will help enrich this information for all of us.

Whadya Want? Great views? Smoke-free? Gourmet kitchen? Barbeque grill? Write it all down so you quickly sort through your choices. Be prepared to choose between your needs versus your wants.

Look, Look, Look. Play the numbers, look at lots of properties to get a good idea of what your money will buy. You'll learn the meaningless, overused, buzz words used to describe features you want to avoid--along with the current market prices for the features that mean something to you and your traveling companions. Try at least ten Internet searches for what you want, be creative. That super sweet Sedona vacation rental you're looking for may not turn up on VRBO because it's likely that owners who've rented their quality property for several years have plenty of repeat guests, they don't need to pay for listings. Turning up their website may take a search using a unique term or clicking through to page four or five.

Google smoke free or comfortable, affordable vacation rental and you turn up homes with character, not just the timeshare vacancies. World-class amenities also make good search terms--try infinity pool or vacation rental, new furniture. If you're vacationing outside the U.S., learn what terms have meaning in your country of interest. Europeans take "holidays" not "vacations." Try self-catering or guest home instead of vacation rental.

Make a Good First Impression. Let owners know that you'll be a responsible guest by sharing your strengths or experience. Stayed in vacation homes before? Mention it. Owners will like that you know the ropes. Don't smoke or bring your pets? Include that in your introduction. Have pets? Mention that too, cat lovers connect! Find the best digs for Fido. Don't just fill out the inquiry form with your dates of travel and email address, put a face on your message and you'll be much more likely to get the owners' attention when you ask for a deal or peak season dates.

One Man's Floor is Another's Ceiling. Even if you can't tour the property in person, don't just settle for a quick glance at the photographs. Check out the closet space, ask about water pressure, nearby noise disturbances, whatever is important to you. Don't ask yes or no questions like, "Is it a quiet location?" Ask, "What noise disturbances are nearby?" Then you can decide for yourself.

Close the Deal. Understand what you're agreeing to do. Pay mandatory fees at checkout for keys, cleaning, tips? Is key pick up only during specific hours? Will you have more paperwork? Can you get a discount for paying cash? Referring a friend?

Friday, January 9, 2009

Grand Canyon Visitor Center Goes Solar

A system including 84 solar panels was donated to the Park Service to provide education and power. Another interesting thing to do on your Sedona vacation. Read more here

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Dancing With Sandhill Cranes

Photos and commentary by Guest Blogger, Fran Palmeri. Contact at fran palmeri at comcast dot net.

Everyday it’s a different show at the Celerty fields in Sarasota, Florida. The Sarasota Audubon Society is often out in force with spotting scopes and binoculars in hand they spread out across Fields to look for the more rare and elusive species than the dozens of ibis clamoring for attention.

It’s a place of contradictions--on the surface, wild and unspoiled but upon close examination, a disturbed landscape, the soil depleted by more than 100 years of human exploitation. In the 19th century, it was part of Mrs. Potter Palmer’s vast vegetable garden, spreading out over Sarasota and Manatee Counties in southwest Florida. In the 1940s engineers created a farm for the intensive cultivation of celery. In the mid-90s, engineers planned yet another role for this area—storm water management-- and for years, dredged out canals, culverts and retention ponds to create a flood mitigation area.

A surreal Dali-esque landscape of canals filled with Indonesian parrot grass, an invasive that arrived here via the drainage system. Cell towers loom like Martian invaders. Lions roar in the background against the omnipresent whine of traffic--a wildly improbable presence from the nearby Big Cat Sanctuary.

Over 188 different species have been recorded in the Fields to date. Historically, these wetlands are used by migrating flocks of waterfowl. Perhaps it is imprinted into their collective memories as four-star accommodation for migrants.
Twice this week I dropped in for the “early show” which is always a bit of a cliffhanger. Bird watchers perched on the gazebo and photographers along the banks, checking their watches. Will the Sandhills show or won’t they?

As the sun nears the horizon, the first pair of cranes arrive, landing gear down. Wave after wave of these beautiful birds follow--dancing, preening, grooming, jockeying for their favorite spots. About sixty birds arrive over the space of an hour. Then, all is still. No encores or reprises. The birds are all asleep.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Can We Strain Carbon Dioxide Out of the Air?

While worries about the stock market, the auto industry, and just about everything to do with the economy are making the front pages of every daily newspaper, worries about global warming have never left the front of our minds. According to most scientists, the Earth is getting warmer, and the environment is already suffering for it. And those same scientists mostly agree that the problem has been created by the amount of carbon dioxide in the air.

While reducing carbon emissions and conserving energy are considered by most to be hugely important steps in reducing or reversing global warming, scientists and researchers have also been considering other ideas. And one new idea that you may not have heard of is CO2 capture plants.

Carbon Capture and Storage
This new idea, called Carbon Capture and Storage (or CCS for short) is a new project that has been widely supported by Britain's Gordon Brown. Europe's plan? To build ten or so carbon capture plants around the European Union by 2015. These plants will be built next to energy production plants (such as coal burning power stations) and will capture and store CO2 as it's created by the burning of coal.

These specialized power stations will cost anywhere from two to three times as much as traditional coal-burning plants. Funding the project will cost the European Union a fortune, requiring subsidies of up to ten billion euros. And most are in agreement that the extra cost is well worth it.

What CSS Does
Like any new technology, there are positives and negatives to Carbon Capture and Storage. While using these plants alongside traditional coal power plants may hugely reduce European carbon emissions, some environmentalists worry about storage issues with CCS. The general plan of the EU is to capture carbon emissions, compacting the carbon dioxide, and permanently storing it in unused sites-- almost like another kind of waste (like landfills).

While the idea of permanently storing CO2 may seem to be less progressive than simply reducing carbon emissions, CCS technology may be an approachable, practical solution for a world which is not yet ready to give up on fossil fuels. Though different parts of the world use different fuels to create most of their power, the EU will be getting about 60% of their power from coal burning by 2030, and this energy source is widely used throughout Asia and in much of the Americas, as well. With coal use spreading, the installation of Carbon Capture and Storage plants will help to hugely reduce the amount of damage these power stations can do to the environment.

According to researchers, the ten to twelve plants being planned in the European Union alone may reduce carbon emissions by 400 million tons per year by the year 2030. This reduction in CO2 makes up about a fifth of the entire CO2 reduction planned in the EU during the next couple of decades. Making CCS technology a large step towards a very important goal.

For now, funding is under discussion, and not all European leaders are in agreement about how to implement CCS. But while the fate of Carbon Capture and Storage in the European Union is still undecided, the fact that this technology is being implemented is like a ray of hope to Europe and the rest of the world. This sort of practical solution may be just what the world needs during the transition to a greener lifestyle. Hopefully, we will eventually be able to meet our energy needs without polluting our atmosphere at all. In the meantime, Carbon Capture and Storage isn't a bad start.
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Sunday, January 4, 2009

The "Ick Factor"

One of the hottest amenities in travel is hypoallergenic rooms. We've been offering them for years to guests with sensitivities, but also to people who don't want to be exposed to whatever bacteria and bugs came with the guy who slept there the night before.
In addition to being super-clean and free of dirt-holding carpeting and upholstered furniture, our self-catering holiday homes and vacation rentals are purified by steam-cleaning the floors and tile at 120 degrees, changing the anti-microbial HEPA air filters, no use of aerosol spray cleaners or fresheners, disinfecting with hydrogen peroxide, sun light and fresh air, and fragrance free cleaning. Mattresses and pillows have dust-mite covers and no VOC paints and finishes keep toxins out of the air. These methods also cut down on dust, pollen and other irritants.
As Practical Traveler, Michelle Higgens wrote in the NY Times, "This much cleanliness is a bit neurotic. But its not enough for hotels seeking health-conscious consumers to just offer organic food..." She also notes that most hotels offering these amenities charge a 5 to 10 percent premium.
Resources for pure vacationing:
Special Offers at Smoke Free Hotels

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Vacation Rental Travel Deals ~ Free Stuff, Super Bowl and More

2009 Red Hot Rate Specials for FREE stuff. Going toxin-free, plastic-free, oil-free, and smoke-free can get you rent free, jeep rides, workshops along with good health in 2009 when you enter our health promotions. Subscribe to this blog by email or RSS feed so you don't miss the offers like the ones below for smokers, women and Super Bowl fans.
Give Yourself the Gift of Health and be our guest. Win a 3-Day Weekend Sedona, Arizona or St. Augustine, Florida. If you quit smoking for New Years or plan to quit in 2009, you could stay for free in one of our healthy vacation homes. We're running promotions this year to encourage people to get healthier, starting with a promotion to support those kicking cigs or whatever you smoke.
Don't smoke? Forward this to a friend who does and get them to take you on the vacation when they quit.

To enter, just write to Dana and tell us two things, 1. What you plan to do to replace the cigarettes (chew gum, call your coach, take a walk) and 2. Why you want quit. If you make it smoke-free for 90 days, you can stay for free at the waterfront treehouse or Red Rocks Retreat in Sedona. Taxes and cleaning not included, based on availability. Entries will be posted on the blog, so let us know if you want your name included or not.

    When you quit smoking:
  • In 20 minutes your blood pressure will improve.

  • In 8 hours the toxic gasses drop by half and oxygen levels return to normal.

  • In 48 hours your risk of heart attack drops, nicotine will have left your body and your sense of taste and smell returns.

  • In 72 hours your broncial tubes relax and your energy will increase.

  • In three to nine months you can win a vacation and your coughing and wheezing problems will go away.

The Gift of Shift, FREE for two women. Two scholarships available to the Sedona Women in Transition Retreat, Jan 31-Feb 1. Scholarship not based on need but on willingness to "pay it forward." $899 fee paid by sponsor. Email Dana for details. $25 registration fee required.

Super Bowl Savings! St. Pete, FL vacation home rental, $333 a night. Smoke free, pet free cottage sleeps four. Email dedeskye at msn.com for details. Minimum stay required.