Monday, November 29, 2010

EcoMonday: A Vacation Alternative

It's not only EcoMonday this Monday, but also Cyber Monday: deals on the Internet abound today, and that goes for travel, too.
If you're looking to book a vacation for the chilly winter months or the soggy spring, we've got an option for you. Consider voluntourism. What's that awkward mashup? It's not awkward at all, actually: It's a wonderful blend of rejuvenation and soul-filling glory.
More traditional volunteer vacations, like the Sierra Club's outings, offer you one or two free days of exploring while giving back to the National Park system. All levels of skill and strength can be accomodated, and you'll probably pick up new skills while learning to build trails, paint fences, dig postholes...the list is endless. While you're at it, you'll know that you're helping to maintain some of our most stunning natural features.
On the other end of the spectrum is a group like All Hands Disaster Relief, where you can stay as long as you like, and help with as much as humanly possible. You pay for your flight to one of Hands' existing sites, and you spend all day, every day, rebuilding communities that have been affected by disaster. (Full disclosure: Hands worked with us via ShelterBox, and we think they are the absolute bomb when it comes to disaster-relief work.) You can be on a rubble team, a children team, a hospital runner team, a shelter team...the possibilities are endless.

Somewhere in the middle is a group like Road Monkey. Founded by former New York Times reporter Paul von Zielbauer and profiled recently in no less than O magazine, Road Monkey pairs a week of adventure travel with a week of good work. A recent trip had Road Monkeys bicycling through Vietnam and then working to build a playground with the not-for-profit Catalyst Foundation, which deals with anti-trafficking and educational initiatives for children.

So go on, make this CyberMonday really count.

Friday, November 19, 2010

EcoMonday: Happy Thanksgiving!

Really? On the holiday that's all about consuming, we want you to think about being eco-friendly? Guess what? Planning a greener Thanksgiving event is easier than you think. Try these tips:

Invite more people over. You almost always have leftovers, don't you? And some of those get tossed in the rubbish bin pretty quickly. So try and plan for more people, so that you get fewer leftovers. Fewer leftovers means less waste. That's pretty green.

Try to buy locally. There are few things more pleasurable than finding out about a great apple orchard nearby, taking a stroll there, and picking your own apples. Take the idea and expand it to all your food: Wouldn't it be nice to know where your pumpkins, yams, collard greens, and turkey came from? Buying local means you have less travel for the food, and that means fewer carbon emissions. This year, we'll get our coffee from La Colombe and our wine from the Brandywine territories.

We like to show off our local treasures, like Brandywine Valley wines. Thanksgiving is the right time to do it.

Go for a walk. A nice stroll with friends and family means one more half-hour that the TV is off, and it's fabulous for your digestion, too. Hey, we love the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving too, but we think we might forego it just once this year for some good brisk air and some stellar conversation.
Go on, go for a walk. Charlie Brown won't mind.

Shop Black Friday sparingly. A good deal is hard to turn down, but while you're riding the glow of all that family and friendship, really think about what you're buying for people you care about. Choose things you think they'll really use, and we think you'll end up with a sparser shopping list, less time spent in lines, and more time to gorge yourself on the leftovers we know you'll inevitably end up with, anyway. Who wants some turkey sandwiches?

Happy Thanksgiving!