Title: You Know It; Now Do It!

Keeping the world a beautiful and enjoyable place is important to me. I have begun to change my lifestyle in small ways that will hopefully help all living beings have the same chance for positive life experiences. With that in mind, I offer some of the top five everyday choices you can make to help promote sustainability at a time when it is crucial.

1)      Bring your own bottle/cup. We’ve all seen the floating sea of plastic water bottles and bags in the oceans around the world. Gross! And think how many ecosystems that really affects.  A reusable cup or bottle is not that hard to keep up with and almost all restaurants and coffee shops will oblige you. You will likely even get a “thank you” now and again for being so eco-friendly.

2)      Pick up trash and don’t litter. You’d think this would be pretty much eradicated by now but everywhere we go, there it is all along the roads, paths, rivers, etc. It’s not that hard to find a trash can, pack it out, etc..  If you see something on the sidewalk on your way to class, pick it up and throw it away (or recycle it!).  Don’t be too scared of germs to make a difference -that’s what soap is for.  Setting the example can really have an effect on others. I know I have started doing this more as a result of seeing it happen.

3)      Kick it to the Curb – Recycle! Especially here in Athens, recycling has gotten so easy it’s practically no effort at all. ACC now utilizes single-stream recycling, which means that all acceptable recyclable materials (check website for complete list) can be put into the same containers and will be sorted out later by a fancy-schmancy machine. You (or your landlord) is paying for it as a part of trash collection anyways so just do it! Bonus: The new yellow and green roll carts are pretty cool looking and have nice handles/wheels for easy transport to the curb.

4)      Veg Out.  Eat a meatless meal once or twice a week.  Meat production is one of the least sustainable systems in place on the planet today. Veggie eating is not as hard as you think and you may not even miss meat as much as you suspect. Imagine a giant, yummy salad with lots of toppings, veggie lasagna (DePalmas has an excellent one), or veggie fajitas sizzling right out of the kitchen. There are lots of choices in Athens for vegetarian eats and a good many for vegans as well. Don’t be afraid to ask for a meatless recommendation either – restaurant staffs have normally tried everything on the menu.

5)      Think Compassionately. It probably seems like thinking isn’t a sustainable choice but it is. Think about the effect that your actions and choices have on other people, animals, ecosystems, habitats, environments, and everything around you. Taking the time to slow down and examine what actually happens when you eat this food, use that body product, or clean with those detergents, can help you think more big-picture about small decisions. Think globally, act compassionately. Everyone and everything deserves the chance to live a healthy and happy life on this planet.

-Rose Tahash is an Academic  Advisor in the Landscape Architecture program at the University of Georgia

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A Walk in the Park

The most unbelievable, beautiful, diverse and captivating park in the entire world is Yosemite National Park; I may be a bit biased though. I have been blessed to visit the park twice so far in my life and hopefully more times to come in the future. For those of you who have never been to the first national park, let me describe the most amazing teasers Yosemite offers. Hundred feet water falls that sparkle in the sunlight, the Merced River with beautiful white rapids to ride, and Half-Moon Peek to climb and feel on the top of the world, are simply tastes of the entire 1,189 sq. miles of park.

Everyone who loves to hike and appreciate nature should aspire to travel there one day. Until then, take advantage of the great parks and nature trails that your town offers! Athens houses the fantastic State Botanical Gardens or North Oconee River Park. Taking a walk through the gardens or a jog along the river are great ways to connect with nature. Just remember that nature is just as valuable here in Athens as it is in Yosemite and other national parks. The important thing to remember is that we all, just like John Muir did for Yosemite, must protect and preserve what we have. So, run, bike, walk and enjoy what beautiful nature there is, whether in Athens or the great Yosemite, and remember that we have to power to protect and makes the parks even better!

- Elizabeth Stowell is a public relations major at the University of Georgia

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Why I love the outdoors.

I practically grew up outside. I grew up on an island with lots of property around and not very many neighbors. As a kid, I shunned TV and gaming consoles for reading books outside and playing with my older siblings. We built forts and explored the property around my house. Nothing feeds the imagination of a kid like acres of property and an ocean.  I grew very accustomed to the sun on my skin and running around barefooted. There were some other kids in the neighborhood that we would occasionally take sailing. I have a deep respect of the ocean and feel like I can safely call her home. We’d leave early in the morning and spend all day out on the water and come home in time for supper.

When I got old enough, I joined the Boy Scouts of America. This was a great way for me to go on trips and experience more than just the outdoors in a coastal region. I learned to love the mountains and value the streams that run through them. I’m comfortable outdoors, I feel quite in my element. I got my Eagle when I was 15 and decided to move on from the Boy Scouts. My brothers, dad and I canoed the Suwanee river in Florida, the following year, some friends and I did part of the Appalachian Trail.

It was in my first two years of college I discovered my passion for rock climbing. Rock climbing puts you on the edge, literally. It’s a great form of exercise, puts me out in the mountains and allows me to challenge myself. This pursuit of rock climbing, combined with the enjoyment I had received from helping my friends discover their love for the outdoors led me to work a boys summer adventure camp in North Carolina. I taught sailing and rock climbing and led camping trips. It was also in the mountains of North Carolina that I learned how to mountain bike.

When I returned from that summer, I got rid of my hybrid bicycle and got a road bike. There’s something about feeling the wind pour past your ears that I never quite get tired of.  It’s quite different from a mountain bike experience, but its more practical for my purposes. However, I jump at every opportunity to mountain bike.

The outdoors will always be there- in every season, there’s a reason to go outside and get to know what’s around you. It’s a great thing to share with a loved one. Cold nights and hot chocolate, adventures out on open water. Hiking through trails, camping, even just taking a walk and breathing fresh air for a little while.

The outdoors represent freedom to me- there’s nothing quite like knowing that you and your group are miles away from anything remotely civilized. Being away from a schedule and connection to the world is sublime. There’s always something to learn outdoors. Thinking you know something completely is a sure way to leave blood on the trail. I’ve had my fair share of close calls, bloody knees, cold nights and hunger pangs, but the beauty of the outdoors is in its design. That’s probably the biggest reason I love the outdoors- because I know I’m designed for it.

-Couper

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WildernessU-Georgia:

Plant a garden this spring!
Post re-blogged from Austin-based ‘the doodle house’

Originally posted on the doodle house:

Blast those nincompoops who told us, as children, that gardening is as simple as dropping a seed in a hole and splashing it with water. Maybe that’s the case in the Northwest, but here in Texas it’s just not that simple…especially when you’re talking about seed starting.

Heath’s been itching to start gardening from seeds (rather than transplanting) for quite some time now. For one, it’s a pretty stellar way to feel somewhat God-like. Taking a tiny pebble-like object and transforming it into leafy, nutrient providing green. It does wonders for the ego.

Secondly, if the seeds grow to maturity, it’s a much, much, much more economical way to garden. Think about it: a single 3-inch tall tomato plant usually costs around $3.50 and will probably yield around 15 pounds of fruit in a good (“good” being the operative word) season. Not too bad considering what you pay in a…

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Why I care about the environment

I have a reputation among my friends – It is a reputation of passion and love for the environment.

I didn’t always feel so strongly about environmental sustainability and conservation, but I vividly remember when I realized that these issues were something I felt strongly about and that they would shape my path in the future. In my senior year of high school I took environmental science and was fascinated by the subject. While my classmates were sleeping, I was absorbing all of this information and learning more outside of class. As my knowledge about these issues expanded, I saw that they affected every aspect of my life – now and especially in the future. At first this made me angry. How could so many people not care about things that would affect their social, political, and economic realities? Do the generations before me feel no guilt for leaving me to inherit this Earth facing so many environmental dangers? But this anger quickly melted away as I realized that although these problems are enormous and will need global cooperation to solve, the challenge wasn’t impossible, just difficult, and that I have the power to make a difference. This is when I decided that I wanted to get involved in policy making so that I would have the chance to form the laws surrounding energy use and the environment. This goal isn’t for me. It’s for my friends, it’s for my family, it’s for the billions of people on earth that I won’t ever meet, and it’s for the billions that will come after me. The young people of my generation have this ripe opportunity to get involved and demand changes. We’ve already started revolutions armed with our convictions and the power of social media; so it’s time to start a new one – A green revolution.

- Leila Choucair

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Why I love the Outdoors

I grew up outside. I went to school, did my homework, but I awaited the moment when my mom and teacher were satisfied with the day’s work. At that moment, I flung open the door and ran for the sunshine. Before a neighborhood arose from the woods behind my house, I explored through the tall Georgia pines and oak trees until I ended up on the banks of a small creek that I was forbidden to play in. After taking off my shoes, I splashed around and tried to find my favorite white rocks among the mud and simple brown pebbles. I always got in trouble for being in the creek, but it never mattered. In the summer, we went to the pool and all sorts of camps. Even Music Camp played in the sun in between group rehearsals and solo practice. I played sports and went to stay-away camp in the North Georgia Mountains at Camp Glisson. I longed to be outside and embark on adventures on my bike or a stick that I imagined was a horse. Middle school was the worst because we were inside from 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM.

In college, I truly realized my passion for the outdoors. I worked at Camp Glisson for three summers. We spent all but two of the waking hours outside climbing the Alpine Tower or the water tower or zipping over Lake Neil on the zip-line. No central air system matches the cool and refreshing flow of Cane Creek over your feet.

It saddens me to think that more and more of those fantastic creeks and mysterious trees dry up and fall down with urban growth. My corner of Cobb County used to be quiet and blank. It took 20 minutes to get to Wal-Mart or McDonalds but while anticipating the clearing in the trees where the sun’s golden yellow beams danced every morning, the drive felt like an adventure instead of a hassle. I still love to see the deer gathered in the fields near my house or watch the majestic hawks that perch on what trees still exist in Kennesaw, Ga.

Why do I love the outdoors? It gave me imagination and hours of excitement without paying a single dime. No light on earth compares to the sun, and no chill feels better than the moment you jump into a lake.

-Rachel McDaniel

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Last Minute Valentine Ideas

Depending on where you are today, it might me a soggy Valentines Day outside.  But this doesn’t  mean that you can’t still enjoy the day. Give your sweetie some organic or fair trade chocolate and flowers.

However, If you’re lucky enough to enjoy a beautiful day outside today, here are some fun Valentine’s Day date ideas.
  • Take a stroll around a local park and have a picnic.
  • Volunteer to spend time together at a nearby organic garden or farm.
  • Go for a bike ride or take a hike.
  • Check out Snow Mountain at Stone Mountain
  • Go ice skating at Piedmont Park in Park Tavern
  • Visit the annual float hunt on Jekyll Island and search for treasure
  • Stargaze at the Rollins Planetarium
  • Visit the Atlanta Botanical Gardens for special Valentines Day events and meals.
  • Visit balloonsovergeorgia.com to schedule a hot air balloon ride over Atlanta.
  • Many Georgia State Parks and Lodges have special Valentines Day events, activities, and rates. Check out the one nearest to you.

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