A Disappearing Venice

Venice-ItalyThe Venice, Italy that is known internationally is full of historically intricate buildings, gondola rides, and a maze of narrow canals stretching across the city. Meandering around the small streets and over the hundreds of pedestrian bridges exemplifies the charm of the Italian area. What people know of the Venice captured in photos and seen in movies and television can be considered as one of the most unique and stunning cities in the world. But what locals understand all too well is that their beloved city is disappearing before their eyes. 

Global warming is one of the most spoken about topics related to the environmental field. Temperatures around the world have been rising, including in the atmosphere and in the ocean. Global warming is on the rise because of harmful human actions causing the increase in temperature. Global warming has led to a number of problems, including heightened sea levels. Residents of Venice know all too well how detrimental rising waters can be to their daily lives. 

Situated on top of water, the rise and fall of the canals have been part of Venetian history. Centuries of Venetians have had to live through the “acqua alta”, Italian for high water. For over 1,500 years, people have had to protect their homes, stores, restaurants, and themselves, from the unfortunate instances when their city becomes flooded. Over time and with experience, Venetians have raised their buildings higher to avoid the flooding water levels, and people have learned how to better protect their businesses. Although this phenomenon has been going on for generations, the floods have become more frequent and more severe over the past 60 years. Venice’s most well know square, Piazza San Marco, has not been spared from the reoccurring rising floods, and neither has most spots in Venice. A combination of Venice’s natural location surrounded by water and the powerful effects of global warming has led to a city partially submerged at times. The disappearing Venice can be seen on water lines that trace across the antiquated buildings, a subtle reminder of how easily the Italian destination can succumb to Mother Nature’s force. 

A disappearing Venice can also be seen in the faces of the Venetian residents. That is, those who are left. Locals in the area have been moving out of their cherished city because of the overpowering amounts of tourists traveling into town. The beauty and distinctiveness of Venice draws in millions of visitors a year. Their tourism footprint often damages the natural charm of the city.

Regarded as a magnificent art city, tourists from all over the world come to Venice to experience the rich history seen throughout the town. Venice relies heavily on the tourism industry. Over 100,000 people visit Venice each day during the peak season of summer. A majority of the businesses and restaurants, specifically in the center of the city, cater to the needs of international tourists. Although there are a large amount of hotels to choose from, many visitors don’t always stay the night. Taking tour buses from neighboring areas, visitors have the option of seeing Venice for the day and leaving. Because so many locals depend on the tourism business to generate income, it becomes a problem when tourists come but don’t always spend money in hotels. The heavy amount of people in and out of the city has taken a toll on the area, because with crowds comes an increase in littering and pollution.  The quaint streets of Venice have become overcrowded and unfortunately, historical monuments have been damaged.

The Venice known by locals is quickly slipping away underneath the water and through the hands of the tourism industry. Many who stay work in the business, but it is not the type of work for everyone. Approximately 1,500 local Venetians end up leaving Venice a year, significantly decreasing the population. What gives a city its character and personality is the flavor of the residents. Without the authentic lifestyle of Venetians, Venice is quickly becoming a town run by tourists, as opposed to lived in by its residents. A combination of global warming and an overbearing impact of the tourism industry has shaped the Venice of today.

Photo credit: cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/photo_gallery/it/images/IT_025.jpg

Surfing Sustainable Waves

SurfingSurfing is an energetic, full body sport that is a favorite pastime for many who live near coastlines around the world. With a surfing culture that is present in a numerous amount of countries, surfers are continuously spending time in the ocean, taking part in a sport that depends on the environment. Any ongoing aquatic activities tend to put strain on the ocean, but surfers across the globe have a strong understanding of the importance of maintaining its natural qualities. Recycled surfboards bring a green aspect to the sport, made specifically with the environment in mind. Popular companies have opted to use materials that are sustainable, constantly giving back to the planet.

In an ironic twist, although surfers worldwide enjoy being outdoors and becoming part of mother nature as they ride waves, the traditional boards they ride them on are dangerous towards the environment. Made from toxic chemicals, the surfboards are harmful towards the ecosystems that live in the water. It is not rare for surfboards to break in half while riding powerful waves, which leaves broken bits of these toxic surfboards floating out into the ocean. With increasing knowledge of the harms these surfboards can cause, the surfing industry has begun to redesign the way in which surfers ride waves. One such company is Green Foam Blanks. Created by Steve Cox and Joey Stanley, Green Foam Blanks takes recycled materials and turns them into eco friendly surfboards. 60-65% of each of their new surfboards are made from recycled materials, which comes from parts of other surfboards. This drastically reduces the amount of toxic chemicals put into each surfboard. 

In the state where the surfing culture was born, Hawaii is now transforming the way surfboards impact the environment. Country Feeling Surfboards is a famous local company in Hawaii that shapes boards using progressive materials such as sugar and soy based foams. Resins are also made from plant based materials. Bamboo, hemp, and silk cloth are also used to produce this new generation of surfboards. Country Feeling Surfboards are created by professional board shapers Kyle Bernhardt and Jeff Bushman. They are transforming the way surfers ride waves, making Country Feeling Surfboards as one of the most well liked eco friendly companies among the surfing population in Hawaii. Along with surfboards, the people at Country Feeling aim to redesign the surfing culture as a whole. Other products such as stand up board paddles will be made using sustainable materials like bamboo, and surfboard wax will be made available as an organic product. Country Feeling encourages all surfers and non surfers alike to take ongoing measures to infuse a healthy, green lifestyle into their daily mindset. 

Imagine Eco Surfboards is another company that has taken productive measures to create cutting edge, sustainable surfboards. These boards are made from recyclable B-XP3 extruded polystyrene foam. Instead of using fiberglass to laminate these surfboards, the manufacturers use bamboo fabric. Using bamboo instead of traditional fiberglass eliminates much more toxic chemicals normally used. Bamboo is one of the most environmentally friendly materials available, and when used for making surfboards, it makes the product very strong and good for the planet. 

ReSurf Recycling takes a somewhat different approach to utilizing recycled surfboards. Instead of using sustainable materials to make new surfboards, the people behind ReSurf are taking broken boards and using those parts to make asphalt filler. These unused parts of broken boards are able to also make filler for concrete. Many surfing communities have designated drop off locations where surfers can donate their unused and broken boards to ReSurf, continuing the process of recycling. The efforts done by ReSurf takes all the boards that would normally end up in landfills across the country, and turns them into much more productive, and necessary components needed to make roads.

The feel good, relaxed atmosphere of the surfing culture is an attractive one for people around the world. With the help of international companies, green surfboards are more easily accessible. The importance of protecting the environment is a widespread movement, and surfers are now more than ever taking positive measures to assure their natural playground isn’t destroyed. 

Photo credit: www.epa.gov/flowoftheriver/images/flanniganfullsize_2.jpg

Eco Friendly Weekend: New York City

New York CityNew York City is well known for soaring sky scrappers, congested streets, and a fast paced lifestyle. Often regarded as an international capital city, the experiences present in New York City are endless and the people are strong and driven. With a population of eight million within the five boroughs, and 18 million in the metropolitan area, there is never a slow moment in the area. Over 48 million tourists visited New York City in 2010, many of them in search of the on going excitement and high energy daily life. One thing the city is not usually known for is its abundance of green activities and options. Visitors coming from all ends of the globe can come to the Big Apple and truly enjoy a sense of eco friendliness through the city’s array of natural parks, public spaces, and green events. Spending a green weekend in the city never sleeps paves the road towards sustainable eco tourism, and shows the world that New Yorkers know how to relax from time to time. 

What better way to relax than by checking in to an environmentally friendly hotel. Tucked away in the heart of Times Square is The Muse New York, a contemporary boutique hotel that takes pride in creating a sustainable hotel for visitors. Eco friendly amenities and services are found throughout the hotel and in each luxurious room. Recycling is a large part of the hotel’s standard for maintaing a green environment, and encourage visitors to utilize designated recycle trash cans in each room. Everything from the organic mini bar to the eco friendly materials used in the reusable ceramic mugs have been thought of. Cleaning products on the premise are eco-certified, and guests go through paperless check in and check out. 

Hopping on the subway is experiencing New York City in true fashion. There are over 20 subway lines that easily take visitors to their destination with low impact on the environment. Mass transit is a large part of the daily life of New Yorkers, reducing the amount of cars on the road each day. Heading over to Manhattan’s biggest playground, Central Park, allows visitors and residents alike to bask in a part of nature, right in the middle of an expansive city. Green alternatives reign high in Central Park, which boasts 843 acres of grass, trails, and lakes. The park is also host to the Central Park Zoo, the Central Park Conservatory Garden, and two ice skating rinks in the winter. Summer ushers in Summerstage, a popular concert series in the park. Anyone visiting New York City should not miss the natural beauty of Central Park, New York City’s treasure of green fun.

Aside from using the subway, New York City’s other form of mass transit is walking. New Yorkers walk everywhere, and visitors can expect to do the same. A good pair of walking shoes comes in handy when strolling the busy epicenter of Times Square, watching the oversized billboards and Broadway marquees. Exploring the quaint neighborhood of the West Village gives visitors the chance to glimpse into old world brownstones, walking down quiet, history filled streets. The shopping districts of 5th Avenue in Midtown allow any traveler to buy high end, designer products, or find some bargains in Chinatown. Any neighborhood a tourist explores, it is a sure fired guarantee that walking will be involved. Walking is one of the best, and most green way, to truly experience New York City.

Considered to be the crossroads of the world, New York City is home to people from all around the world. Diverse customs, traditions, religions, and culture mix and mingle in the city, creating one of the most distinct combination of culinary options in the world. Within a few blocks distance, tourists can sample anything from Indian food to Korean cuisine, Mexican food to Malaysian delicacies. There is no shortage of organic restaurants and markets either, which is why New York City is a great place to dive right into mouthwatering, sustainable food. Chelsea Market is now host to organic establishments. Located in a refurbished complex which was once home to the National Biscuit Company, Chelsea Market is a perfect place to try out a place like One Lucky Duck. Everything at this dining option is organic and raw, served in its freshest form. Salads and juices are available on a quick and easy take out basis, which is perfect for bringing to nearby High Line Park. Converted from an old railway system, High Line Park is a progressively designed area that takes an unused space and recreates it into a contemporary park. 

GustOrganics Restaurant & Bar is another environmentally friendly restaurant located on the Avenue of Americas and 14th street. Certified by the Green Restaurant Association, GustOrganics delivers appetite filling meals without doing much harm to the environment. The restaurant uses energy saving appliances in the kitchen, recycles constantly, and uses solar energy for lighting sources. Their menu is an impressive one, catering to the needs of nearly everyone. All meals of the day are available, including breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner, as well as baby food options and an organic fruit selection. A quirky highlight of the restaurant is that it boasts the first organic bar to be certified by the USDA. The reasonably priced menu and wide variety of appetite pleasing options makes GustOrganics Restaurant & Bar a great place to eat sustainable food in New York City. 

New York City is an international merging point for people from all walks of life. For those who firmly believe in eco tourism, the city has green activities, hotels, and restaurants covered for any environmentalist’s trip. Spending a green weekend in the Big Apple allows visitors to see the city in a new and fresh perspective.

Photo credit: health.utah.gov/enviroepi/activities/EPHTP/TrackingStates/new_york_city.jpg

Sustaining the Environment at the High Sierra Music Festival

Music-FestivalQuincy, California will host the upcoming High Sierra Music Festival, a four day celebration of music and positive community approach to keeping the world clean. The High Sierra Music Festival will take place on June 30, 2011, and run until July 3, 2011. Music lovers from all parts of California and the country will gather in Quincy to take in melodic tunes from some favorite bands and experience the energy of the outdoor festivity. 

This year marks the 20th anniversary since the start of the Sierra Music Festival. Originally started with one main stage and just 20 bands jamming out, the festival has grown to accommodate over 10,000 spectators. With an outstanding lineup of 50 musicians ready to perform, the outdoor concert is a perfect summer opportunity for people to get out and enjoy some quality music. Bands and musicians performing include My Morning Jacket, ALO, Gillian Welch, Warren Haynes Band, and Maceo Parker. With the responsibility of providing a safe environment for all who attend, the people behind the festival make sure that the environment they use remains safe as well.

The High Sierra Music Festival has partnered up with Clean Vibes, an organization that directly works to sustainably clean outdoor festivals. Not only does Clean Vibes create eco friendly ways to deal with the large amount of garbage and waste at these festivals, it also promotes their ideas to concert goers. Education comes into play as a key component in the mission of Clean Vibes, believing that one of the best ways to motivate others is to show them first hand how simple it can be to clean the environment. Clean Vibes takes measures to make sure waste can be recycled or reused in creative ways. This decreases the amount of garbage sent to landfills, creating a more positive, purer atmosphere. 

Anybody who attends the festival is encouraged to volunteer with Clean Vibes. The organization is continuously promoting their overall mission and hoping to find energetic individuals who will help keep the festival clean. Volunteers will spend time both during and after the festival to ensure the grounds are kept litter free. During the concert, volunteers will be involved in the recycling process and keeping the area clean. After the concert series if over, volunteers will stay an extra one or two days to continue the clean up process and make sure the grounds are in healthy condition.

A large appeal of the High Sierra Music Festival is the fun opportunity for attendees to camp directly at the site. Thousands of people will be attending and pitching their own tents right in front of the musical stages, with on going access to the festivities and atmosphere of the concert. The High Sierra Music Festival strongly believes that campers should take positive initiatives to make sure the campgrounds remain unharmed during the four day event. The festival’s “Leave No Trace” competition brings a green campaign to the forefront of camping and encourages people to create the ultimate green campsite. 

The promotion of “Leave No Trace” ushers in ideas of how to make a campsite eco friendly. Ideas range from biking to the festival, disposing of trash in the correct fashion, and making sure natural vegetation are not damaged by camping gear. The more creative the campsite the better, as the competition requires people to take a photo of their original green campsite. The finalists will be selected and awarded a variety of High Sierra Music Festival gear, a membership to “Leave No Trace”, and late night tickets for the concert. The grand prize winner of the green competition will win useful camping gear from Coleman, which includes tents and sleeping bags.

Recycling is a huge component of sustainability at outdoor festivals. The High Sierra Music Festival takes recycling very seriously. Working alongside of Clean Vibes, concert goers will be urged to recycle throughout the duration of the festival. Clean Vibes will be handing out bags designated for recyclable products, making it easy for anyone to recycle. With the combination efforts of Clean Vibes and individuals at the festival, it is projected that thousands of pounds of garbage will avoid ending up in landfills and instead be recycled. The effects of this single measure towards productive cleaning will significantly help make the area a much cleaner place. 

The High Sierra Music Festival also encourages people to use sustainable means of transportation to get to the concert. The festival supports a ride share program, where participants can find local carpools or share rides with others traveling to the site. This reduces the amount of cars on the road and the declines the pollution in the air. Other means of transportation, including riding bicycles, are widely used and well liked. While eating and staying at the concert, it is suggested that people use reusable plates, cups, and utensils. Eating locally sourced food from farmer’s markets are a great way to eat fresh food during the musical performances. Giving back to the community is high priority at the High Sierra Music Festival, and there is no such thing as too small of an effort. Most importantly, being kind to the community, to neighbors, and to the environment is something the music festival takes pride in. Because without the beautiful outdoor space to enjoy, the High Sierra Music Festival just wouldn’t be the same.

Photo credit: news.ncdcr.gov/news/wp-content/uploads/nc-museum-of-art-amphitheatre-raleigh.jpg

Eco Friendly Weekend: San Francisco

San FranciscoTraveling to the Bay Area may conjure up mental pictures of an urban landscape full of steep hills, cable car rides, and the Golden Gate Bridge. Seeing all the sights in San Francisco, a Northern California treasure, is high priority on many travelers’ list. Now more than ever, there are sustainable approaches to taking in all the Bay Area has to offer, without putting an excess amount of harm on the environment. Only have one weekend to do so? With unique neighborhoods, trendy restaurants and shopping, San Francisco proves itself to be a city lover’s environmental playground. 

The Orchard Hotel, a sustainable boutique hotel, is located in the heart of San Francisco. Surrounded by the shopping district of Union Square, visitors staying at the Orchard Hotel are never far from retail stores and sales. The prime location of the hotel is just one of its attractive features, while other positives include being LEED certified. The Orchard Hotel has this prestigious certification because of its continuous work to provide a healthy and sustainable environment for guests to stay. It is the second hotel in California to be presented with this specific distinction. Everything from the materials of the building and interior decor to the maintenance of the establishment is done with green products and solutions. The low impact of the hotel on the environment assures visitors that their stay in San Francisco is doing minimal harm to the city. Tourists staying at the Orchard Hotel can sleep well at night knowing that not only are they being taken care of, but San Francisco is as well. 

San Francisco’s most iconic monument is easily the Golden Gate Bridge. For those who are adventurous and not afraid of heights, a walk across the 1.7 mile bridge will bring panoramic views of the Bay Area. Great photo opportunities are present throughout the walk, and the activity continues to remain a green solution to traveling across the bridge. 

To experience its beauty to the full extent, any visitor can spend some a leisurely part of the day at the Golden Gate Park. With an expansive 1,017 acres of green grass and scenic overlooks, the park is a great public space that anyone can go enjoy. Located in the western portion of San Francisco, it occupies three miles along the waterfront. Over 13 million people visit the Golden Gate Park each year, which makes it one of the city’s most popular destinations. The park hosts an array of cultural and horticultural experiences for both children and adults. Visitors are able to immerse themselves in eco friendly walks and tours of that explains the nature and history of the park. The Golden Gate Park is also the sight of the San Francisco Botanical Garden and Japanese Tea Garden. Both beautiful areas with nature all around, visitors can truly experience a part of the environment while still in the midst of a fast paced city.

Anyone with an organic appetite can appreciate the Upper Haight Farmer’s Market. Visitors who happen to be in the Golden Gate Park on Wednesdays can enjoy the seasonal foods of the farmer’s market. Operating in the afternoons from 4-8 PM, the Upper Haight Farmer’s Market brings locally sourced organic food to consumers right in the middle of San Francisco’s popular park. Munching on some snacks or creating a picnic in the park is one of the most eco friendly options, right under the Golden Gate Bridge. 

San Francisco is a nature lover’s optimal destination for eating with an eco friendly mindset. Bar Jules is a great option for anyone who wants to maintain a green diet while visiting the Bay Area. The dining establishment serves lunch, dinner, and brunch on the weekends. The chefs at the restaurant believe in providing customers with only the freshest, organic foods. The ingredients are bought from local farmer’s markets, which is good for the local economy and gives back to the community. Meat and fish used in the dishes are all sustainable items. 

Another dining option is conveniently located back at the Orchard Hotel. The hotel’s own restaurant, Daffodil, maintains an environmentally conscious style of cooking while set within the green hotel. Chefs at the restaurant strictly use seasonal ingredients from local markets, which adheres to the restaurant’s theme of sustainable food. Daffodil restaurant strives to bring affordable, green plates to its diners. 

For those who want to see a host of farmer’s markets all in one area, the Ferry Building Marketplace is a spot not to miss. 80 farmers from local areas bring their produce to sell at the large market place. Foodies and anyone who simply has an appetite for fresh eats can wander through the expansive Ferry Building, snacking on all sorts of organic goodies. The Ferry Building Marketplace is a favorite destination for visitors and locals alike.

Any tourist will know that exploring an area by foot is one of the best ways to truly experience the natural pulse of the city. For anyone with the willpower to take on San Francisco’s infamous hills, walking around the unique neighborhoods on the city can highlight the way daily residents live. Walking up and down the often times steep inclinations of San Francisco streets is just part of the travel experience. Visiting Lombard Street, the famous crooked street in the city, shows just how distinct the city’s geography is. Walking through the neighborhoods on San Francisco can be good exercise for anyone, which allows visitors to take full advantage of the cable car when they become tired. The cable car system has become a National Historic Landmark, with over 7 million people riding them each year. Cable car rides are available throughout the city, and are easily accessible. No matter how long or short a trip to San Francisco is, the urban area provides visitors diverse environmentally friendly ways to experience all the city has to offer in true green style.

Photo credit: nps.gov/nero/nhlphoto/1stPlaceSanFranciscoCableCars.jpg

A Green Lifestyle in Portland

Portland-OregonThe city of Portland, Oregon is often considered to be one of the most eco friendly places to live in the United States. A pioneer of a healthy, green lifestyle, many residents of Portland take advantage of year round environmentally conscious living options, and implement them into their daily lives. Nearly two million people call Portland home, and are often exposed to a mindset of enjoying and preserving the environment. With younger generations quickly infusing the mindset environmental awareness into their daily lives, Portland continues to be a truly green city.

The citizens of Portland are continuously in the process of creating progressive green programs to make their city cleaner, fresher, and more sustainable. Through the help of Portland State University, college students use education and innovative ideas to positively influence green programs in the area. In a time where locally sourced organic food reigns high in the culinary world, students at the university have proposed ways to garden and grow organic food on their own campus. This sustainable practice highlights the eco friendly mentality of the younger generation of Portlanders.

Green transportation in Portland is key to maintaing an eco friendly urban region. With sustainable innovations and often times simple solutions, Portland has become one of the most bicycle friendly spots in the country. While much of the population of the United States depends on cars as their primary means of transportation, Portlanders tend to use alternative methods. About 5,000 people use bicycles to commute to work on a daily basis, which significantly reduces the amount of cars on the road. There are hundreds of miles of designated bike paths around the city of Portland, which encourages people to use bicycles as much as possible. 

Aside from being a bicycle friendly city, Portland has other transportation options that makes traveling around the city easy and good for the environment. Local government has implemented The Light Rail, a public transportation system that connects Portland to outlying suburbs and the Portland International Airport. The Portland Streetcar runs specifically around the city. Both the Light Rail and Streetcar system are free anywhere in downtown Portland. The combination of trains and bicycles clears up traffic on the streets and pollution in the air. For those who drive, Portland happens to be the original city with the car-sharing program. Flexcar is a system where designated cars are stationed around the city. Members are able to access these cars for a certain amount of time. Each Flexcar takes off six other cars on the road. 

Portland ranks in the top ten walkable cities in the country. Popular walkable neighborhoods in Portland are Old Town-Chinatown, the Pearl District, and Downtown. Any visitor or resident can easily maneuver around the distinct neighborhoods of the city. Walkscore.com, a website that analyzes the walkability of cities and neighborhoods, gives highly positive scores to areas within Portland. With a highest possible walk score of 100, seven Portland neighborhoods received walk scores between 90 and 100. This large amount of walkable areas positively impacts how Portland maintains a green lifestyle. 

Portland has several city parks, totaling 37,000 acres of green space. There are 288 parks around the city. One famous park which brings nature straight to an urban environment is Forest Park. It is 5,156 acres of wilderness, which gives Portlanders and tourists an easy way to enjoy the green environment without leaving the city. In parks throughout the city, there are 166 miles of trails for walkers and hikers to explore. Aside from large parks and wide spaces of wilderness, Portland also has Mill Ends Park, the world’s smallest park measuring only 24” across. Portland has had extensive environmental development and planning which has created parks for anyone to enjoy. 

Unspoiled components of the environment of the Pacific Northwest has given Portland direct contact to nature. For hiking enthusiasts, nearby Mount Hood is a perfect spot to take in the mountainous scenery and trek through the wooded landscape. It is located about 60 miles east of downtown Portland, which gives residents an easily accessible destination for a day trip to the mountains. Mount Hood is currently considered to be an active volcano, although it last erupted more than 15,000 years ago. Mount Hood is well liked by many Portlanders who savor outdoor experiences.

A combination of progressive ideas and nature at their fingertips, Portlanders have come to appreciate their environment while respecting it as much as possible. Portland continues to maintain its positive reputation as a green city, and its residents are considered to be some of the most eco friendly individuals in the country. For locals and visitors alike, experiencing Portland’s charming attractions and neighboring natural beauty highlights how the green lifestyle can become a positive city wide craze.

Photo credit: mypage.iu.edu/~rmarriv/portland-oregon-skyline1.jpg

Endangered Monkeys Fight for Survival

MonkeyAnimals that appear on the endangered list are highly threatened to disappear from surviving in the world. Unfortunate human activities have posed as first hand problems, including continuous deforestation and hunting. Like many other animals, monkeys located around the world have been directly affected by ongoing shifts in their natural environment. Exotic species found across Africa, Asia, and South America have been under constant strain for survival. Unfortunately some populations are declining rapidly towards extinction.

There are over 200 different species of monkeys in the wild. Monkeys can be found in all areas of the world. The Tana River Red Colobus is among one of the most endangered species. It can only be found in Kenya, along the Tana River banks. The natural habitat of the Tana River Red Colobus monkey has been greatly impacted by humans who have farmed and used the land for themselves. The 60 kilometer stretch for the monkeys’ habitat has significantly changed. The result of human progress has left only less than 1,000 of these monkeys in the wild.

Indonesia is a country that hosts a variety of exotic animals, including the pig-tailed Langur. These monkeys can only be found on a small group of islands located near Sumatra. Spending most of their time high in the trees, the pig-tailed Langur are losing their homes due to human actions. Trees have been cut down and families have moved into the areas where these monkeys called home. Humans have pushed the pig-tailed Langur close to extinction.

Not far from Indonesia, in neighboring Vietnam, another species of monkey has fallen victim to becoming endangered. The Tonkin snub-nosed monkey has less than 150 left in the wild population. They have been seen in four areas across Vietnam. These monkeys, along with the previous monkeys in Kenya and Indonesia have lost their homes because of deforestation. The Tonkin snub-nosed monkeys have also been extensively hunted, decreasing their overall population. Also in Vietnam, the Golden-headed Langur was a popular monkey on Cat Ba Island. They have been hunted for medicinal purposes, significantly reducing the size of their population. The Golden-headed Langur has had very hard times maintaing a steady population because there are much less males than females. This results in only a few babies being born every year.

The brown-headed spider monkey is an endangered species that lives mainly in Ecuador and Colombia. They can only be seen in two areas in Ecuador. Like many other monkeys around the world, the brown-headed spider monkey has become near extinction because of deforestation and hunting. The monkeys don’t have their natural treetops to live in, and have suffered the consequences of human actions.

Although many species are under threat of becoming extinct, there have been cases of monkeys who have survived. The Andean titi monkey was once low in numbers but has increased in population due to conservation efforts. A protected 23.5 hectare area of the San Martin region of Peru has given these monkeys enough space to create homes without being subjected to human activities. The restoration of the area has helped the monkeys stay away from becoming extinct.

The grey-shanked duoc monkey has also been able to survive in the jungles of Vietnam. They were once considered to be one of the most endangered monkeys with only less than 1,000 left. Scientists were able to find a colony of 100 more of these monkeys in the wild, increasing their total population. Illegal hunting and deforestation cause the grey-shanked monkey to land on the endangered list, but new hope has emerged for their survival after this discovery.

Monkeys and other endangered animals may be losing their habitats, but organizations around the world continue to try to protect them as much as possible. The World Wildlife Fund has been a leader in nature and animal protection for over 45 years. Working in over 100 countries, it is supported by over 5 million people internationally. Anyone can volunteer their time or donate money to the World Wildlife Fund. All proceeds and efforts go towards preserving nature and wildlife. Scientists and researchers continue to get a deeper knowledge of endangered species, and how to help them survive.

Photo credit: 2.bp.blogspot.com/-z_nj_g0kHZo/TdRT5LUDwCI/AAAAAAAAANI/HCZX4cQvreg/s1600/large-douc-monkey-photo2.jpg

Eco Tourism on the Hawaiian Islands

Hawaii-TravelTravelers now more than ever before visit new places with a much more environmentally conscious outlook. With the international progress of individuals decreasing their carbon footprints, world explorers have a large amount of exciting, green activities at their fingertips. The islands of Hawaii, situated along some of the most famous beaches and tropical wildlife in the world, can be any traveler’s dream paradise destination. Over seven million people visit Hawaii annually, which is why eco friendly tourism is imperative to ensure the islands remain an exotic paradise. 

The island of Oahu is the most famous of the group of Hawaiian islands. It also receives the highest amount of tourists, at over four million people a year. Travelers visit popular destinations, including Waikiki Beach, the North Shore, and Diamond Head. The summit of Diamond Head reveals an extraordinary view of the island of Oahu. The Oahu Nature Tour provides a 1.4 mile guided tour of the famous Diamond Head Crater. Staying consciously aware of the green lifestyle, the tour reveals the natural beauty of the crater without leaving a significant carbon footprint on the earth. The tour is in an intimate small group setting that begins early in the morning, just in time for visitors to experience the sunrise over Waikiki Beach. It is a 760 foot hike up to the summit, and the tour provides all the necessary hiking gear. Along the way to the top, visitors can learn about the flowers and plants seen, as well as the natural geology of Diamond Head Crater. A unique view of the Pacific Ocean and area beaches await hikers at the top, which can be considered as one of the most pristine views in the world. The tour takes about two and a half hours and remains eco friendly throughout its duration. 

Oahu is famous for its beaches and waterfalls. Hiking the Manoa waterfall is an experience any adventurer could enjoy while still being kind to the environment. The Manoa waterfall is easily accessible to visitors, and is the tallest waterfall that allows people to get a first hand experience. Travelers are able to walk through island vegetation and areas where bamboo grows. It is only twenty minutes away from Honolulu, which gives tourists a chance to leave the city for a more tranquil part of Oahu. Also through Oahu Nature Tours, the hike is two miles and takes about two hours. It is a great chance to glimpse into the beauty of the tropical island, without doing major harm to the world. 

The second most visited island is Maui, which receives over two million visitors a year. Eco friendly excursions are available in all parts of the island. Often voted as Hawaii’s favorite island, Maui has breathtaking beaches for everyone to enjoy. Kaanapali Beach is a three mile stretch of some of the finest shorelines, giving visitors an opportunity to spend the day swimming in the ocean and relaxing on the soft sand. Kaanapali Beach is one of Maui’s most famous beaches. The Maui Downhill Bicycle Safari Tours is a green option for anyone who wants to see experience the majestic Haleakala, Maui’s signature volcano. Haleakala means the “house of the sun”, which is why it is such a popular destination for people who want to see the sunrise at the summit of the volcano. There are tour options where visitors can head up to the summit before dawn, witness one of the most spectacular sunrise spots in the world, and then ride a bicycle all the way back down from the peak. Keeping up with the eco friendly tour, the bicycling portion reduces everyone’s carbon footprint while exploring the island of Maui outside of a car. 

Known for it’s tropical fruits and fresh produce, Hawaii is a foodie’s paradise for Polynesian and Asian inspired cuisine. The Big Island of Hawaii is also famous for its coffee. Kona coffee is one of the most well liked brews internationally. A visit to the Kona Le’a Plantation shows visitors how the coffee is grown and harvested. The organic farm strives to make sure the trees and earth are well taken care of during the coffee producing process. People are encouraged to visit the farm in Holualoa for free tours of the plantation and free samples of the famous Kona coffee. It is a unique experience for any coffee lover. No matter what island tourists travel to, the islands of Hawaii offer an array of eco friendly activities. There is no shortage of scenic views and enjoyable moments while still maintaining a green lifestyle on the islands of Aloha. 

Photo credit: vacationstohawaii.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/1301614235-87.jpg

Everlasting Music with Sustainable Instruments

Guitar-MusicMusic is a universal element that is present across all cultures. It is one of the oldest forms of creative expression and is often a large part of customs and traditions. For centuries, people have been singing and using a variety of instruments, including anything from the piano, violin, flute, to guitar. These instruments are often hand crafted and made from materials that are easily accessible. In the recent years, instruments like the guitar, have not lost any of their popularity. Instead, they have gained a new, eco friendly way of production.

The guitar has been part of musical history throughout the world. There are two types of guitars, acoustic and electric. The acoustic guitar is made out of wood, and descends from the Roman ear. Many similar variations of the modern day guitar have been present in areas of Europe, India, and Central Asia. The guitar is one of the most well known instruments and has transpired over time and location. 

The acoustic guitar is made from wood and has either nylon or steel strings. The body of an acoustic guitar can typically be made out of a variety of different woods. One such material is the basswood which has a soft wood texture. This type of wood makes for a light weight guitar and great acoustics. Other woods that are used to create acoustic guitars are walnut, koa, and Alder wood. Each wood gives the guitar its own distinct sound. Although all these options have been popular in the production of guitars, environmentally conscious people have turned their focus on making guitars that are sustainable and good for the planet. 

Bamboo is often synonymous with being an eco friendly material. Bamboo has been used as an alternative to flooring and household building materials. Bamboo has now jumped into the music industry by being made into green acoustic guitars. Bamboo guitars are a reliable instrument because of its resilience. It is an inexpensive material to work with, and produces its own unique acoustics. Yamaha has jumped on the green bandwagon by producing a line of bamboo acoustic guitars. Bamboo has become a green option for making guitars because of its high rate of growth. It can grow extremely quick at about 100 feet tall in just 60 days. There are also over 1200 species of bamboo available, which makes it a greener alternative to other exotic woods.

Flaxwood is another material being used to create guitars. Flaxwood, which is also the name of the company, blends wood grains with polymer into molds to shape guitars. Flaxwood has come up with its Hybrid series of guitars that use their famous Flaxwood neck in combination with the European Alder body. This creates a sustainable product to play and enjoy music on.

Recycled products, which can be anything from coffee cups, CDs, pipes, and plastic bottles, have been used as part of Simon Lee’s Cyclotron guitars. These guitars are made from 100% recycled items and become part of musical creativity. The physical look of these recycled guitars are one of a kind because of the random colors used in the recycled materials. 

The music industry has shown its dedication to promoting a green lifestyle through the manufacturing of guitars. Big named brands in the guitar world, including Yamaha, Gibson, and Fender, have taken positive strides in protecting the current deforestation problem. Exotic woods are often highly searched and become expensive products, but the industry wants to make the change towards using only woods that have been designated safe by the Forestry Stewardship Council. Created to protect the environment, the music industry’s continued collaboration with FSC will help ensure the protection of trees while still producing guitars. With these new advances, environmentalists and musicians can live together in harmony.

Photo credit: mblguitars.com/images/Acoustic_Guitar6.jpg

A Green Park Reaches New Heights

Parks-Trees-New York CityNew York City may be known to be a concrete jungle, but new environmental designs give New Yorkers a chance to enjoy the beauty of the outdoors. High Line Park takes the conventional idea of a park and transforms an unconventional outdoor space into one of the most popular summer public areas in the city. With the help of progressive and creative ideas, High Line Park raises a park to new heights.

Located in the Chelsea neighborhood, High Line Park is known for its innovative way of taking unused space and changing it into a public park. The High Line was originally created in the 1930s as an elevated railway system. Trains have not run on the High Line tracks since the 1980s. The area was threatened to be destroyed, but with the collaboration of the City of New York and an organization called Friends of the High Line, the historical structure was saved. Not only was it spared from demolition, the area turned into New York City’s famous elevated park.

Ideas for High Line Park took off beginning in 2001. By 2003, the “Designing the High Line” competition was created to generate ideas from around the world. Teams from 36 countries entered for a chance to have their plans put into the park. It wasn’t until 2006 when construction began. The first section of the park, stretching from Gansevoort street to West 20th street, opened in June of 2009. Just recently in June of 2011, the second section of the park opened, now extending upwards from West 20th street to West 30th street. 

The literal steel to nature transformation shows how creative visionaries can create an environmentally friendly space where one previously didn’t exist. The park has had extensive designs in terms of plants, which have been selected based on sustainability and inspired by the landscape that had sprouted over the years when the railway had not been used. Just in the first section of the park, visitors can find over 200 types of grasses, shrubs, and flowers. Developers were able to keep history alive by leaving the old railroad tracks in place, while plating around them. For night time visits, LED lights are placed around the park for energy efficient ways of enjoying the space when the sun goes down. 

The unique structure of the elevated park has drawn large amounts of visitors since its opening, and continues to grow with its recent expansion. The High Line hosts an array of events where people can enjoy the outdoors in the middle of the thriving city. Saturdays at the High Line bring tours of the park, including a walking guide that points out historical and horticultural highlights. Tuesday evenings after the sky has turned dark, visitors can take part in star gazing with high tech telescopes. The park, in collaboration with the Amateur Astronomers Associated of New York, brings the sometimes rare sight of stars to New Yorkers’ eyes. An upcoming June walking tour around the park with gardeners will showcase how the gardens of the park are taken care of. Live entertainment and musical performances are also a popular option for anyone visiting the park.

Aside from all the programs happening at the High Line Park in upcoming months, many visitors simply enjoy spending leisure time at a new and unique park. With views of the Hudson River, the innovative park brings a new perspective on green spaces. In a city where every square inch of space is highly valued, designers have been able to successfully create a large, environmentally conscious park above the busy streets. The first design of its kind has become a hit for New Yorkers who want to escape the hectic city life to be part of nature at new heights.

Photo credit: provisionslibrary.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/the-high-line-park6.jpg