Posts Tagged ‘green’

Wilderness Ethics: 9 Easy Steps to Keeping the Wilderness Wild

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

As we all gear up for National Trails Day next weekend, it’s always a good idea to pause and consider the ways we leave trails of our own while out hiking. Trail deterioration is one of the many issues for which National Trails Day is intended to raise awareness. Wilderness Press author and Yosemite National Park expert Jeffrey Schaffer provides some easy steps for having a highly enjoyable but still low-impact adventure into the wild:


Muir-Mist Connector Trail, Yosemite National Park


  • STAY ON THE TRAIL: Seems simple, but deviation from established trails is not only commonplace, but mighty tempting for the adventurous type.
  • STAY QUIET: Avoid traveling in large groups, and avoid making excessive noise.
  • WATCH FOR HORSES: Yield the right-of-way to equestrians: step off the trail, downhill.
  • SMART CAMP: Set up camp a minimum of 100 ft. from any water source, and on exposed dirt or rock surfaces (never on vegetation).
  • BURN. DON’T CUT: Use only downed wood for fires, and use only existing fire rings. And, of course, always fully extinguish a fire before leaving it.
  • BURY MINDFULLY: Bury waste 6 in. deep, and at least 100 ft. from a trail and 500 ft. from water sources.
  • PACK OUT TOILET PAPER: or burn it in areas where fires are permissible.
  • SMART COOK: Cook only enough food for single meal, to avoid disposing of leftovers.
  • SMART WASH: Wash and rinse dishes, clothing, and yourself at least 100 ft. from water source; never wash in lakes or streams.


Be sure to check out the vast selection of hiking/camping guides from Wilderness Press & Menasha Ridge Press before embarking on your next wild adventure!

How to Grow a Sustainable Garden w/ Native Plant-life

Thursday, May 9th, 2013

We live in an age when the cultivation of plant-life is at an all-time high. Farming, ranching, and recent trends in urban development are just 3 ways in which humanity has taken charge of how and where plant-life can grow. There are a number of positive consequences to the gardening technologies we’ve developed: more efficient food production, increased green spaces in cities, among others.

By contrast, though, there are just as many drawbacks. One of these is a decrease in the success of native plant life to flourish. Native plant life — as compared to plant life introduced to a region strictly for agricultural or horticultural purposes — takes far fewer resources (like artificial light, water, and fertilizer) to maintain. In fact, once established in the soil, a species that’s native to its environment can almost always survive on the natural elements alone because they are already adapted to those environmental conditions.

Here are just a few steps (provided by the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at UT Austin) you can take to encourage natural plant life to grow in your backyard:

Assess the Land You’re Working

 Take note of sun exposure/shade, plants cropping up that you didn’t plant (probably weeds, but could also tip you off to a native species), soil types, and water supply (where water drains, where it pools).


Prepare the Soil

Start by eradicating weed populations. Solarization is a preferred method, which involves watering the weedy soil and then covering it with clear plastic (opaque plastic will not work). This produces a high temperature under the plastic, high enough to eradicate the invasive plants and, more importantly, their seeds. The drawback of solarization: it needs a few months to ensure effectiveness. If you have chosen truly native species to plant, no further soil preparation should be required.


What plants are native to your area (LBJWC has a helpful database)? Check your local nurseries for either plants or seeds. The more you request native plant species at your local nursery, the sooner they will catch on and begin carrying more of a native variety. Be sure to investigate what species grow cooperatively, in which are competitive for soil and nutrients. When planting, consider a natural landscape layout (as opposed to rows of plants) to help promote the concept of “natural gardening.” KEEP IN MIND: Even though you’re using native species, it can still take a few years for the garden to establish itself, maintenance free. Keep weeding and watering in order to foster successful growth in your garden. Eventually, the plants will flourish and take care of themselves!

Remember, you don’t need to look far to find gorgeous plant-life. The more we encourage plants native to our neighborhoods, the sooner we will find ourselves surrounding by a natural landscape that is sustainable as well as beautiful.


For more on wildflowers, check out these helpful resources from Menasha Ridge Press!

3 C’s To Being Car-Free

Thursday, April 18th, 2013

Especially now that most places around the country are beginning to warm up, now’s as good a time as any to recharge whatever motivations we might have for keeping the car keys in our purses and pockets, and finding another means of transportation.

Now, if you’re experience is like mine, you’ll agree that one of the most surprising things about living car-free (I’m at about 4 months NO CAR at the end of April), is having to explain to people why I won’t just use a car. Driving is just so much easier! skeptics will say. Your commute is so much longer than it would be with a car…

I’m usually at a loss (at least at first) when I’m asked this question because, to me, it’s so obvious how the benefits of living car-free outweigh the costs. And then I struggle to explain this without sounding preachy or militant about it.

Wilderness Press author Nathan Landau (Car-Free Los Angeles & So. California, Wilderness Press 2011) breaks the reasoning down into three simple words, the 3 C’s of Being Car-Free:


Car-Free is Cheaper

This one might seem like a no-brainer, but for many it is easy to miss all the ways driving drains your wallet and eats your time. Let’s look at the simple example of taking a small vacation. Either you’ve already purchased, are still making payments on, or have rented a car. There’s also parking to consider (it’s almost never free, whether around the neighborhood or at your hotel). Don’t forget about the insurance law requires of every driver. And all of this before you even fill up your tank! In a city like Los Angeles, Nathan estimates that the cost of driving/parking is 12X that of purchasing Metro passes for the same period of time.

 Car-Free is Calmer

If you ever struggle with “road rage” — be it a mild or severe case — you’ll understand this one. Imagine someone else doing the driving for you! If you live in a busy, metropolitan area, you might also know how often bicycle (and sometimes even pedestrian) traffic moves faster than cars on the street. Whether your sitting on the bus, riding your bike, or simply taking a stroll, it will always be easier for you to breathe deeply and soak in your surroundings than it would be if you were driving.

Car-Free is Cleaner

There is no longer a debate over whether driving an auto emits greenhouse gases and other pollutants. But the percentage of mass transit systems that still burn fuel (more and more are already switching to full-on electric power sources) are running on compressed natural gas instead of oil. Aside from emissions, individual automobiles create loads of debris on the sides and shoulders of America’s roadways, and more and more automobiles are abandoned/scrapped each year.


So next time you find yourself having to defend your decision to live car-free, just remember the 3 C’s.

Source: Car-Free Los Angeles & So. California by Nathan Landau, Wilderness Press 2011.

Greenpeace for a cleaner Earth

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

Greenpeace International is a great non-profit, direct-action, environmental organization that you should really know about. I wanted to share a video they created for Earth Day because it is beautiful, surreal, and captures just what Earth Day is all about and how we can help. You can view other videos from Greenpeace International on their YouTube channel (they have some very cool videos).

Click image to view video on YouTube

Don’t forget, you have through this Friday, April 27 at 3:00pm EST to enter our Green Gear Giveaway! For details on how to enter, please visit Hot On The Trail… may the odds be ever in your favor!

Serenbe, a sustainable community

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

If you’re not obsessed with HGTV like I am, well, let me give you a chance to reconsider. Aside from their fantastic programming on TV, they hold some pretty stellar giveaways such as the Dream Home Giveaway and the Green Home Giveaway, which is going on now through June 1, 2012 (you can enter twice daily).

This year, the green home is really above and beyond. Located less than 30 miles outside of Atlanta, Georgia, HGTV’s 2012 Green Home is located within Serenbe, a hamlet of sorts that sits on 1,000 acres of land. On that land is everything you need in a community from organic farms to a blacksmith to a school and retirement center. And the whole community has been structured upon green and sustainable living practices. HOW COOL IS THAT? I urge you to at least read more about Serenbe. Maybe even enter to win, because you never know what might happen.

Green is the New Red for Valentine’s Day

Friday, February 3rd, 2012

That fluffy holiday is just over a week away–the one we all make such a big deal out of whether we’re in or out of love–President’s Day!  No no, I kid, it’s Valentine’s Day.  February 14 still strikes fear in my soul as it has every year, due mostly to the fact that my high romantic expectations have yet to be satisfied.

With more than 180 million greeting cards exchanged on this day of Love, it makes me tingle to think of how many people will not recycle their cards after they are done displaying them like trophies in their cubicles.  Yes, red and pink are the traditional colors of Love and the team colors for Valentine’s Day, but this year I am suggesting we all go GREEN.  The Sierra Club has put together a wonderful list of ways to be green with your lover this Valentine’s Day–including everything from eco-friendly undies to giving experiences in place of things to condoms that help sustain the Earth’s forests.

Let the Sierra Club help you make this Valentine’s Day fun, sexy, and totally green!

Car-Free in Los Angeles

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

The peril of global climate change dominates the headlines.  In California, almost 40% of greenhouse gases come from transportation.  More and more people—especially young people—are realizing the current approach to mobility is not sustainable.

Luckily we have organizations like CicLAvia to help bring awareness to the issues at hand.  October 9, 2011, CicLAvia will hold their third event–shutting down seven and a half miles of streets in downtown Los Angeles.  If you’ve ever been to Los Angeles, you know how huge of a deal this is for this extremely car-dependent city.  CicLAvia makes the streets  safe for people to walk, skate, play and ride bikes.  They will have activities along the route and are encouraging shop owners and restaurants to open their doors to people along the CicLAvia.

CicLAvia’s mission is to temporarily connect communities and give people a break from the stress of car traffic while bringing awareness to alternative transportation.

The timing of this event and the release of a new book are perfect–Wilderness Press presents Car-Free Los Angeles and Southern California by Nathan Landau (available for 25% off on  This book is designed as a complete guide to a car-free vacation or car-free living in Southern California.

Nathan Landau has been a transit planner for AC Transit for 9 years and a city planner in California for 26 years.  He has a Master’s degree in City Planning from University of California, Berkeley.  He is the principal author of AC Transit’s widely used planning manual: “Designing With Transit: Making Transit Integral to East Bay Communities.”

A Brief Look at Green Travel Destinations in Northern California

Friday, March 18th, 2011

I’m so glad that I’m able to live in today’s world and am young enough to see the even more amazing things that will happen during my lifetime.  More specifically, I’m excited about all the green initiatives and advancements our world has achieved so far, and can’t imagine what the future has in store.  If you had told me 20 years ago that one day cars would run on electricity or solar power, I would have written you off for a basketcase.  Now entire buildings and houses are run completely off of solar power and cars are making the move to electric (although slowly).  Think about where we’ll be in 2030.

Now in this green day and age of environmental consciousness, as travelers, we often consider the impact of our vacation upon the earth.  What will my carbon footprint be if I fly in an airplane across the country and then rent a car to drive around town?  The new and improved way of travel is eco-vacations to green destinations as well as ‘staycations.’

Mendocino Coast, photo by Tom Courtney

I wanted to highlight some eco-vacations in Northern California (the area whose residents are lucky enough to live in one of the most beautiful parts of the country) to start.  The new book Walkabout Northern California: Hiking Inn to Inn, by Tom Courtney,  highlights 12 treks, or walkabouts, along the coasts of Northern California, ranging from an easy 2-day, 14-mile stroll to a more difficult 42-mile hike that can last you the whole week.  The treks are romantic, interesting, beautiful, and have dining and lodging destinations listed within.
Not only are you leaving your car at home and using the most Earth-friendly form of transportation (your feet), but about half of the inns and hotels listed within the book are Green Business Certified, freeing you from worrying about that carbon footprint you’d be leaving behind.

I really can’t stress just how beautiful all of these walkabouts are.  Check them out for yourself!  You can join in the community at or you can purchase the book Walkabout Northern California at

Savor the journey and the destination.
Leave the car behind…

Everyday is Earth Day

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011
Friday, April 22, 2011 – this is what we have designated as Earth Day this year.  BUT, we should all try and live greener every single day of the year!  Change out your light bulbs for energy efficient ones, walk or bike instead of driving, shop local, eat less meat… these are just a few simple ways to start.

To participate in an Earth Day event this year, please visit Billion Acts of Green, a part of the Earth Day Network.

And remember, it doesn’t have to be Earth Day for you to help save our planet!
Spread the word, tell your friends.  You are the answer.

The snow may hinder your car-driving capabilities, but hear ye! There are other ways to get around!

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

With a majority (60%) of the United States still peeking out from beneath some form of winter coating, be it ice in the South and Midwest or enough snow to bury a vertically upright child in Chicago/St. Louis, winter is most definitely still here and in full effect.  There is, however, a light at the end of the tunnel, according to Punxsutawney Phil who cast no shadow yesterday morning upon emerging from his den of hibernation (via the Huffington Post).

While winter is still upon us, do not fret, you can still navigate the wintry tundra.  If not by car, and here at Keen is Green we encourage alternative transportation, then by bicycle!  I uncovered a great “How-to” article on, with 9 tips to riding in the snow and bitter cold.  Also, TreeHugger just today published an article with several links to help you ride in the winter.  It can be done, I promise you!  The Man here at my office rides his bike roughly 5-6 miles from his home almost everyday, and especially when there’s snow on the ground.

Craziness, I say.  I’m thankful that I can walk from my house to my office.  Especially thankful on those quiet, snowy mornings.