Saturday, November 30, 2019

Olympic Sustainability

As the temperatures start dropping, the thought of Summer Olympics sounds like a long time from now.  July 24--August 9, 2020 the pomp and circumstances of Summer Olympics 2020 will be here. Well, not "here," but in Tokyo.

When the Olympics and Paralympics games come, along with it will come a major statement of sustainability. The medals for 2020 will be made 100% recyclable material. More than 90% of Japan's local authorities have been involved in collecting recycled and discarded devices. The numbers are staggering what they collected:
  • 78,985 tons of recycled devices were collected.
    • Roughly 6.21 million mobile phones 
    • Additional devices include: digital cameras, laptops, and handheld games
  • During their 2-year collection, they reached their final goals by March 2019 close:
    • 32 kg of gold
    • 3,500 kg of silver
    • 2,200 kg of bronze
  • About 5,000 medals are expected to be distributed between the Olympics and Paralympics games.
In the past, the Rio 2016 Olympic games had about 30% of the silver/bronze medals came from recycled materials. But clearly a goal of 100% just a mere 4 years later is a greater goal in a lot of ways. Additionally this push and collection drive strengthens the theme of sustainability, resourcefulness, and innovation of the 2020 games.

Project organizers hope the nationwide electronics drive will help establish a theme of resourcefulness for the Tokyo games.

It's upcycling at its finest!

There are lots of places to learn more:

Image from; video from

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Happy Thanksgiving

God love the advent of YouTube--it's a way have your own personal "Back to the Future" experience!

One of my personal Thanksgiving season traditions requires a visit to YouTube. It's clearly a common Google search as it pops right up even before you finish typing "WKRP Thanksgiving Turkey Drop."

Disclaimer: It's not an environmentally-friendly clip as it has a bit of the dark and macabre humor to it, but it's a classic throwback to 1978 and my childhood, and makes me laugh like crazy every time, every year.

Additionally, it takes me back to simpler times. Not just because it was before I was an adult (and everything seemed simpler when you were a kid), but also because it WAS back before the time of YouTube, cell phones, social media, hashtags, Pinterest-perfect photo ops, iPads, 24-7 news cycles, and constant connection.

It reminds me of this article I recently read on Grown & Flown's website: "Seven Reasons Why Thanksgiving Was Just Better in the ’80s" It takes me back to a time where I was at the kids' table at one or the other of my grandparents' houses (or even at my own house on holidays). There, seated 'round the table, were loved ones--many of whom have since-passed. It was a family-focused day where the TV was off and community was key.

Do I want to go back to those days? Only sort of, as I do miss those who are no longer here and the simplicity of those days, but there is certainly a richness in having a family of my own. It all makes you realize that conceptually we need to go back to those days prior to devices and unplug while you can, taking advantage of the gifts and gratitude that's in front of you.

Have a wonderful, heart-filled and blessed Thanksgiving this year.

video from and image from

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Tempestry Revisited

Tempestry's Color Palette
The Tempestry Project is not a new concept to me. I wrote about it a little over a year ago and that post gives a great overview of what it is.

For those of you who are curious, here's the short story:
A tempestry is a temperature tapestry that is either knitted or crocheted, using a very specific color palette tied to temperature data from NOAA (National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration). Each line of the tapestry details either the day in one year or the average yearly temperature in a block of years. The standardization of the colors makes it possible to globally compare the climate data via this visual display.
One of my most meaningful birthday gifts a few weeks ago was from an eco-minded friend of mine who is skilled in the fiber arts. Opening the box delivered in the mail revealed my very own Tempestry!

I still look at it a bit stunned and blown away by all of it--the meaningfulness of the gift, the time it took her to make it (knowing my li'l eco-self would love it), and the data that it reveals. Additionally, as news just came out this week, 2019 is on track to be the Earth's 2nd or 3rd hottest year on record. (According to NOAA's records, 2015 gets the "honor" of being #1.) As I texted my dear friend and Tempestry creator, looks like we'd be adding another row of Garnet...making this gift more timely than ever.

My Tempestry is similar to Ed Hawkins' "Warming Stripes" image below. Both show the Annual Global Temperatures from 1880--2018. In mine above, an up-close look shows the decade tabbed by the side and all 138 years of recorded data. Not only is this Tempestry visually striking, it's eye-opening as it clearly shows the warming of our planet.

Interestingly, the Tempestry Project was born in 2016--the same year that Ed Hawkins created the "Warming Stripes" visualization of Annual Global Temperatures. The Warming Stripes page from Ed Hawkin's Climate Lab Book website has several Warming Stripes pictures. It is fascinating to compare other visual data from a variety of locations.

I will say, I like my fiber arts version of warming stripes the best of all. ๐Ÿ˜‰ For those of you who want to do a deep dive in the numbers of the average temperature, the climate data/color chart for my tempestry is available on The Tempestry Project's website❤️๐Ÿงก๐Ÿ’›๐Ÿ’™

Images from: and the collage I made from my own Tempestry gift.  "Warming Strips" image from

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Climatarian Diet

I always love a good infographic. This fun one entitled "The Climatarian Diet" was created by Emiliy Ehlers (also known as "Eco With Em"). You can find her on Instagram (where she has 33K followers and it is her most active platform) as well as Facebook and Twitter . Her Instagram account is chock-filled with more like this!

You can also catch a listen of her on episode 19 of the podcast "Simply Complicated with Katie Dean."

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Wands for Wildlife

One of the best ways to keep trash out of the landfill is to reuse. Often times, that's where people hit the wall given some items just don't seem to have a natural way to reuse them.

Take plastic mascara applicator wands, for instance. However, Appalachian Wildlife Refuge in North Carolina has come up with a great reuse for these with their Wands for Wildlife program.

Twice a year, in October and February, Appalachian Wildlife Refuge accepts mailed-in collections of old mascara wands. The little bristles on the wand are perfect for removing fly eggs and larva from the fur or feathers of orphaned animals or birds that need rehabilitation. All they ask you to do is soak them in soapy water and dry to get off the mascara residue. They had to move it to only a twice-a-year acceptance policy due to their initial flood of donations. That's definitely a good problem to have!

To learn more about how to join the "Wandraiser," check out their website.

Video from, image from

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Plastic Is Not Fantastic--Emily De Sousa's TEDxTalk

"9.1 billion tons of plastic created to date." How heavy is one plastic bag? Hardly anything! Emily De Sousa details what that weight means in visual terms in her TEDxKanata talk from last year.

Other statistical figures she presents:

♳  Half of the 8 million tons of that winds up in our oceans and waterways. 

♳  As for straws... she mentioned that 57,000,000 straws are used daily in Canada. 

♳  She also mentions major numbers regarding how much oceanic plastic we eat annually through seafood.

Emily, as the founder and owner of the sustainable travel blog "Airplanes and Avocados." In addition to sustainable travel, marine conservation issues is one of her topics of choice and she is an avid SCUBA diver. She promotes activism through digital storytelling and education in order to reach many via the masses through social media. She's certainly a #BlueMind advocate...without ever mentioning those words!

Through her TEDx Talk, she voices her love of our planet, lots of those statistics mentioned above (and many more), and the fact that we all need to be doing something for sustainability. There are so many simple things we can all do.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Winding Your Way Up Above The Trees

Trees have been a frequent theme this fall here at GTG. Along with images of Richard Powers' book The Overstory continuing to filter through my head, I've been:
Given all that, it's not a surprise that Denmark's Camp Adventure Forest Tower struck a chord with me.

Nestled about an hour's drive from Copenhagen, Camp Adventure boasts Northern Europe's longest zipline (at over 1,500 feet) as well as 10 ropes courses and an indoor climbing wall. While many of the ziplines careen through the trees, the Forest Tower takes you above them. The innovative structure created by EFFEKT Architects was purposefully created to provide an opportunity to soak in the surrounding nature while maintaining respect for the surrounding trees. The combination of corton steel hidden beneath oak beams provides strength and yet aesthetically coexists with natural beauty. The 650 meter ramp (= 2,100+ feet) takes you up 12 spirals to the top, putting you 45 meters (= 147 feet) above the ground. The views, no doubt, are phenomenal!

Camp Adventure was listed as one of the 100 places worth visiting in Time Magazine's World's 100 Greatest Places of 2019 issue.  Additionally, the Forest Tower received the First Place ICONIC Award 2017 for Visionary Architecture. Definitely makes you want to go!

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Saturday, November 2, 2019

The Rising Water

I've been thinking a lot about climate change lately. It started recently when I ran across the Grist article by Miyo McGinn "When Teaching Kids About Climate Change, Don’t be a Downer." I've seen that in my own home through the years as my kids have lived with their eco-loving mama. My son has asked pretty hard questions that are fraught with concern. I watch what I say because doom & gloom gets you nowhere.

But concern heightened awareness does set in at times. The weekend of October 11-14th my husband and I were in Oxford, Md celebrating our anniversary at the very quaint, historic water-side inn (the Robert Morris Inn) for our anniversary this wkend. It was wonderful with it's small-town charm, and we loved being there and bopping over to St. Michaels by way of the oldest ferry, which was just a walk from the inn. I'd highly recommend it to anyone!

 But, between the waterside placard (see below) for an art installation just across from our inn... and the water flooding the streets (due in part, we’ve been told, to the trifecta of a full moon, high tide, waters rising from Tropical Storm Melissa on its way), my mind has been heavily pondering the rising water. I had walked the ferry dock the night before, and the next day they were submerged by 4-5 inches as in the picture below. (Granted, even the night before, the water was perilously close to coming up between the boards by only an inches or so.) Parking lots were pools, and some streets were completely undrivable.

Facebook revealed that Annapolis too was mired in flooding streets--which used to be seen as a "100 year event" that has been happening every year or so. Ironic that the streets were flooding in Annapolis during a boat show weekend.

Sunday was way better than this
Saturday picture!
The next day, the flood waters in Oxford were down--and even more so the day after. We biked around and saw we were able to travel streets we couldn't the day before, but a restaurant we were planning to visit was still closed due to water in the kitchen. I was somewhat comforted when a shop owner said that this is not a typical high tide experience, but they did have a previous problem in September during the last big storm event. Luckily, the flood waters hadn't been this high since Hurricane Isabel in September of 2003, with a close second with Hurricane Sandy in October of 2012.

The news of Oxford's flooding events being storm-related helped comfort me. But it led to a lot of contemplation about how the rising water of climate change is going to affect a lot of people worldwide--both local to my coastal Maryland and on a bigger global scale.  It didn't help that an article in the Baltimore Sun that same weekend referencing the rising sea levels could force the Naval Academy to relocate. It took me back to Jeff Goodell's book "The Water Will Come." It felt like the foreshadowing of things to come--like the trailer to a movie I don't want to see.

This is the point where I hope a lot of our leaders get their head out of the sand--especially when the sand is getting buried!

Pictures from my camera or screenshot from Google Maps. Collage created using Pic Edu.