Best Gifts for (Green) Travelers

6 12 2010

It’s that time of year again, and since I’ve developed a reputation as being sort of an expert in the realm of gift guides (yes, apparently that is a realm), I’ve applied my expertise yet again to a few guides. First up: The Soup to Nuts Eco-Getaway a la offManhattan.com. Check out everything your favorite traveler needs to make his or her trip a little greener (and more fun/fashionable/delicious). I’m personally loving the Ahava gift set, mostly for the cute retro bag.





Not Another Place – Another Reason for Visiting Liverpool

21 10 2009
Courtesy of Go Penguins

Courtesy of Go Penguins

Antony Gormley and his Crosby Beach statues continue to fascinate me. And now I have another reason to love them (and Liverpool): they’ve inspired another installation linked to environmental protection. Not Another Place, installed Monday, October 19 on New Brighton Beach is the avian version of Gormley’s Another Place, the eerie, ethereal and amazing installation after which Not Another Place was inspired.

But Not Another Place has
another message altogether: they are part of Liverpool’s Year of the Environment, a movement focused on helping residents of and visitors to Liverpool to be more conscious of environmental hazards, with the hope, of course, that these newly more conscious will use that consciousness toward the greater good.

The penguins on the beach are meant to inspire, kicking off new piece of the project, in which the Environment Agency partners with Go Penguins, a project in conjunction with Wild in Art that will see this holiday season in Liverpool adorned by a “Winter’s Trail” of penguins throughout the town. The penguins will be designed by artists, both professional and amateur, and there is currently a call for penguin designs, open to the public. So many levels of inspiration. See more photos here.





More on Maine: the “Eco-est” of Eco Inns

8 10 2009

inn by the sea

I’ve neglected my new obsession with Maine, partly due to a hectic schedule and partly just due to the fact that if I think about Maine I want to go back—at least while the weather is still not freezing. Anyhow, I think it’s high time to re-visit (at least in words) one of the aspects that made Maine so amazing. I had the pleasure of spending my last evening in Maine at the gorgeous Inn by the Sea, an amazing property on the coast of the sleepy town of Cape Elizabeth, just 20 minutes from Portland.

What makes Inn by the Sea amazing is not only its charming New England design and its proximity to, well, the sea, but the fact that it’s a friend to the environment in just about every aspect possible. A few years ago, the inn was taken down to the studs and experienced a multi-million dollar remodel, not to make it more luxurious (which it is) but to make it completely green from its re-purposed flooring to its
solar-paneled roof.

On top of that, guests can participate in a whole array of fun yet educational events, like classes on planting native gardens or beach cleaning festivities, all that end with guests receiving milkweed seeds, to help expand the areas in which endangered Monarch butterflies lay their eggs. And all this is just the beginning. Read more about my trip here.





California Academy of Sciences – Finally!

1 08 2009

Last weekend while at home I finally made it to the California Academy of Sciences. I’ve been wanting to visit since it reopened last year, after nearly 10 years and $500 million of renovations.

It was worth the wait. The new building is pretty spectacular, complete with a living roof that not only collects rainwater to prevent polluting runoff, but reduces energy needs, provides a habitat for local flora and fauna and is pretty darn lovely to behold on top of it all.

We visited Madagascar, Borneo and Costa Rica in four stories, compliments of the museum’s tropical rain forest, which is teeming with vibrant butterflies, but, lucky for me, the birds tend to remain well hidden. The penguins never fail to please (don’t believe me? watch them), and the planetarium was pretty fantastic, though I think the highlight may well have been the albino alligator that graces the swamp part of the aquarium.

I visited this place as a child, but I have to say the awe I feel as an adult far exceeds any I could have felt then. As an adult, I fully appreciate the scope of the place, and all the effort that went into making it what it is today. It’s been a key feature of Golden Gate Park, and now its sustainable design ensures that it will continue to be so for a very long time. And that makes this girl very, very happy.





Go Philanthropic: Travel With a Purpose

25 06 2009

I love it when travel isn’t just about ticking a list of sights off one’s list. Even better when it leaves a place a little better than one found it. GoPhilanthropic is a tour company that combines travel philanthropy, sustainable travel and luxury vacations, allowing those who want to travel the luxu ry route to feel good about their choices. It’s a way of leaving a footprint without leaving a carbon one. Travelers stay in luxury eco-conscious resorts and hotels and participate in meaningful exchanges with local communities. All itineraries are customized for individual interests and GoPhilanthropic provides carbon offsets for all trips. Now that’s a good trip.





Mother Earth Love

20 04 2009

Cool article shout out. Yesterday in the Daily News was this cool article about eco-friendly travel. It’s got some great tips, such as free lodging in Ithaca for hybrid drivers, plus other deals throughout the Northeast and the rest of the country. Looks like I’m not the only one with Earth Day fever.





Green Grows Up, Over and All Around

19 04 2009

Spring has definitely sprung in New York. Everywhere I go my eyes and nose (and allergies) take in the beautiful buds of trees and flowers that have lain dormant all winter through.  That has me thinking about urban greenery. It’s still somewhat surprising to me how much of it I get to see here in the concrete jungle that is New York. In addition to the myriad parks in the city, most streets are lined with trees, and this is to say nothing of the rooftop gardens that are visible for those who choose to look up at them. The general idea seems to be that just because you live/work in a high rise, you don’t need to be deprived of greens.

Today this concept is becoming even more prevalent, as architects and artists everywhere seek to add green elements to buildings.  This makes not only for sustainable structures but atheistically interesting as well. To this end, Exit Art has a new exhibit up right now, in conjunction with  SEA (Social Environmental Aesthetics). Vertical Gardens presents audiences with architectural models, renderings and more, all imagining green urban spaces in various forms.

These visions, both imaginary and real, look to the future of green architecture, from green roofs to vertical gardens and from Florida’s Jacksonville Library to the Musée du Quai Branly in Paris. And then there are those visions that take greening even further: indoor gardens that not only green buildings but give a whole new meaning to the term locavore, full walls of garden that are not only pretty but harness solar power which can then be used as other forms of power and even vintage articles that demonstrate that such things are not an entirely new concept. New or not, though, they are certain to amaze.

Exit Art
475 Tenth Avenue at 36th Street
Hours: 10am -6pm (Tues – Thurs), 10am-8pm (Fri), noon-8pm (Sat). Closed Sunday and Monday.
Cost: $5 suggested donation





And Then Again…

17 04 2009

I’m still thinking on this eco-tourism dilemma. Antarctica, yes, it’s a different story, and I agree that regulations should be put in place to protect it. Regulations should be put in place for any area that might be endangered by excessive tourism, for that matter.

On the other hand, such activities as listed by the Berkeley study (hiking, etc.), while they may endanger the areas visited, they also serve to promote awareness. What is nature, that is, if not to be enjoyed. And the more we enjoy it, the more we want to save it, right? So in this way, it seems to me, eco-tourism can actually be a good thing.

The Nature Conservancy, a conservation organization that works to protect ecologically important lands and waters worldwide, seems to believe that we should enjoy the nature we help to save. To that end, the Conservancy has a a feature on its website, Visit a Preserve, an interactive map of the preserves the conservancy helps to protect, which means wherever you are you can visit a preserve. Perhaps said visits will inspire folks to do even more to help. And so, eco-tourism is in fact a good thing, in moderation. (At least that’s my thought for the day.)





I’m Obesessed With: The Daily Green

16 04 2009

Since April is Earth Month, it’s only fitting that I’m feeling more focused than ever on eco-everything. With that in mind, I’ve been spending a lot of time on The Daily Green lately. Not only do the color scheme (a soft blue and green “globe” palette) and design have a relaxing “Zen-ish” quality, but the site is packed with easy tips and great newsy items that are not only easy to read but to put into action. A few of my recent favorites:

  • Obama’s High Speed Light Rail Plan: Just when you think the man couldn’t get any better, he comes up with this energy-efficient (and all-around efficient) way to boost the economy, save fuel, and travel. It’s about time we caught up with Eurail.
  • Earth Month Diet Tips: Easy tips to greenify your diet (and life).
  • Spring Recipes: Easy, healthy, and tasty recipes that make use of spring produce.

I could go on all day. It’s one of those sites that you get sucked into, and then suddenly realize you’ve spent far longer there than was your original intent. For that reason, perhaps, I should hate it. But I simply can’t.





Can We Love Nature Too Much?

16 04 2009

A couple days ago the New York Times ran this article about a recent conference in Washington focused on protecting the fragile Arctic and Antarctic regions. In her keynote address, secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton expressed U.S. concern over tourism to Antarctica, both for the safety of the region and of the tourists themselves. Tourism to the region has become rather popular over the course of the past decade or so, and the effect on the area has been somewhat questionable. The article cites concerns over fuel spills and over the tourism industry in general being responsible for “about 5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.”

The article questions tourism’s effect on nature closer to home than the poles as well, discussing a recent study at the University of California, Berkeley, which went so far as to surmise that “even ‘quiet, non-consumptive recreation’ — defined as things like hiking, biking and horseback riding…still led to a steep decline in the density of native carnivores.”

The irony, it seems, is that as the world gets more eco-minded, travelers are more likely to choose “nature-based tourism, and yet it seems that this increase in demand (which, it should be noted, seems to signify an increase in awareness) is also putting some of these ecosystems at further risk. The question, then, is where to draw the line. Is eco-tourism, while excellent in concept, in fact part of the problem? I’ve got no answer, but I’m hoping people will weigh in…