Friday 27 January 2012

a green american fling : part 4 : SoCal

The end of our American Extravaganza took us to Southern California, where this beach-loving greenie felt immediately at home - here are some of the eco-highlights:

I'd been in the state an hour and I found green dry cleaners
(in case you don't know, many chemicals used in dry
cleaning are hazardous to your health).
I was so happy to see the BigBetty solar compactor in person!
Heinz getting on board with plant-based ketchup bottles.
As Inhabitat says - not a perfect solution, but a step in
the right direction.
After spending the afternoon at LA's Getty Museum I wasn't too surprised
to find this amazing space was LEED certified - the US equivalent of my
workplace's rating tool, the Green Building Council of Australia's Green Star.
Friendly reminder in Laguna to keep the ocean's beautiful.
Using pedal power to sight-see along LA's beaches
(not like there's any other way to get around Venice Beach!)

I bought an amazing pair of earrings from Beatrice Holiday, they are similar
style to this gorgeous cuff, made of a used bike tube - beautiful reuse celebrating
bike culture. (Sadly I lost one earring on their first outing . . .)
We discovered this amazing hand-ground chocolate in Venice by ChocoVivo.
100% natural, 100% delicious!

We found Ecotopiia in Encinitas on our way to San Diego.
These toys are made from recycled plastic and are recyclable!  Just some of
the great green finds inside Ecotopiia.  We bought Bambu Spoontulas for the
kitchen, made of certified organic bamboo, and the hubby got a Hippy Tree hat.
 Compared to the smog and traffic of LA, San Diego's clear skies and train
network were a happy sight for the two of us public transport lovers.

La Jolla's Ecological Reserve includes a 6,000 acre protected underwater park,
sure explains the variety of wildlife!

We stayed across from the ocean in La Jolla, and while the hubby was tackling
the waves I was able to get up close and personal with some of the locals.

Delicious local wine over candlelight at WhisknLadle.
I was thrilled to find this beautiful restaurant that served local, organic
produce and a sustainability policy - and it was delicious!
We'll certainly return.
Beautiful sunset from Torrey Pines National Park

And on that beautiful scene I'll wrap up my green american fling.

Or will I?

Okay, time to 'fess up - our SoCal sojourn was made with the intention to scope out the joint. 

After nearly 8 years living in beautiful Sydney we're feeling the 12,000 kilometers of distance between us and our loved ones in the US.  So, after much deliberation, a few tears, and a wonderful visit, the hubby and I will be flinging ourselves back to the States later this year (for awhile anyway - we have too many loved ones here in Australia, not to mention my love affair with the landscape of this beautiful country, to say goodbye forever).

Between Sydney and San Diego we'll embark on a farewell tour of Australia followed by travel and volunteering around the globe before landing SD (where no doubt we'll visit WhisknLadle and Ritual Tavern for organic eats and drinks to help us properly settle into our new home).

I'll be blogging along the way - bringing you the latest green flings from around the world and San Diego once I arrive.  I'm looking forward to meeting more greenies in my new home and keeping you all informed of the latest and greatest in green-living.  I'd love any suggestions you have for green flings in San Diego to help me find my feet once I arrive! 

Thank you Australia for inspiring me to be my most sustainable self to protect this beautiful world we inhabit. Now onto the next adventure!

Thursday 19 January 2012

a green yoga fling

If you don't already know this about me, I LOVE yoga.  It's my special time to completely let go of the outside world and tune in with my mind and body.  I was first introduced to yoga in high school, but it's been over the past six years that I've developed a regular yoga practice and it's really become part of who I am.  Elixr has been my studio since I've lived in Sydney, and right now my favourite yogi is Stella; she provides me with an amazing flowing practice and the perfect balance of exercise, spiritualism and positivity - check her out online at Shiny Yoga, you may become as besotted with her as I am!

On the surface yoga is already a greenie (ok, hippy) activity, wrapped up in the world of so-called "alternative lifestyles".  But even if you don't buy into all of that, you can still feel good knowing that yoga is a green activity. No machinery is involved. No fancy shoes or heart rate monitoring equipment. Just yourself, some comfy clothes and your breath on a yoga mat. It's a very low-carbon, low-materials activity, and I feel it goes hand-in-hand with my environmental lifestyle.

I've endeavoured to make my yoga practice even greener by:

  • Buying an eco-friendly yoga mat from Jade.
    The mat is made of 100% natural rubber (they also have a recycled rubber option), and for every mat purchased Jade plants a tree. They've also started a yoga mat reuse program, diverting used mats from the landfill and providing them to those who can't afford a new mat.  After chatting with Stella about what brands of yoga mat she recommended, and hearing her recommend Jade based on quality, I ordered a purple travel mat, extra length, and couldn't be happier - my practice has been transformed AND it was a green option.
  • Wearing natural and organic fibres as much as possible.
    I'm a huge fan of natural cotton shirts for yoga, and I've also been in love with my lululemon organic cotton leggings for over a year now, and they are still holding strong; I'm so happy to have a pair of organic yoga pants that look as great as I feel about wearing eco-pants (plus lululemon has an amazing corporate social responsibility program, and I love to support companies that support the greater good).

    Sadly lululemon no longer makes organic cotton pants. I asked their corporate headquarters why not, and they said, "We design our athletic wear with the intention of lasting 5 years of athletic wear. We just weren't finding the organic cotton was standing up to that level of use..."  Which raises a really important environmental question - do you always buy the eco-product even if it won't last as long?  Some LCA (life cycle analysis) will definitely be required before I make another yoga pant purchase.
  • Enjoying yoga in the great outdoors
    This requires no electricity whatsoever and definitely helps me connect with nature on a more spiritual level. I've done yoga on the beach and on balconies a number of times, and last night I attended a free lululemon yoga class at Manly beach, hosted by the lovely yogis at the Warringah Mall store.  I wish I had a photo to share, but I only brought myself, my keys and my yoga mat, so I've included a picture of Manly without yogis. 
    It was so wonderful to have a class looking out at the ocean, hearing the crashing waves and being a yoga community with a new group of people . . . they will be there every Wednesday night this summer, and I know I'll be back!


    Thursday 5 January 2012

    a green american fling : part 3 : new york

    From Mexico I winged my way over to New York for a few days to celebrate my Mom's 60th birthday in style.

    I already knew that New Yorkers have a smaller footprint than most Americans thanks to reliance on public transport and small living spaces (the apartment I rented in SoHo was the perfect example of small living), but I planned on keeping my peepers peeled to see if 'green living' was making its way into the zeitgeist of this thriving metropolis.

    My brother met me at Newark Airport where we easily caught the train into the city for the bargain price of $15 per person, and within an hour of clearing customs I was lugging my bag up four flights of stairs to our adorable apartment.

    I needed food immediately - the five-hour flight from Puerta Vallarta did not include any meals - but at 10pm on a Sunday my options were slightly limited, even in New York.  Luckily there was a Whole Foods around the corner from my place!  If I had been alone I'd have happily wandered the aisles for hours, examining all the natural food and grocery items the locals may not realise are so hard to come by in other parts of the world . . . instead I quickly bought an organic salad and my brother picked out a local, organic beer and we headed back to the apartment for a long-overdue catch up.

    The next day was filled with sightseeing. . .

    Central Park was in particularly fine form on the unseasonably warm autumn day

    There's no better way to get yourself around New York than the subway
    Locals enjoying the weather at outdoor seating at South Street Seaport

    The city is still filled with the rampant consumerism I've observed (and participated in!) on previous visits, but popping up throughout the city were a number of eco-goodies, too:
    • Organic Modernism - a beautiful furniture store we stumbled into that uses FSC-certified timber
    • GreenDepot - environmental living and building supplies, it's like the Home Depot or Bunnings of green building, with a few more beautiful objects for your space thrown in - like these woolly pocket planters and gorgeous beeswax candles

    • Freemans - a rustic American restaurant tucked into the alley right next to our apartment, featuring wild game, sustainable seafood and produce from local New York farms; I couldn't have planned a better place for a beautiful meal out if I tried!

    • Occupy Wall Street - okay, techically not 'green' but we're on the same wavelength. I visited the original camp at Zuccotti Park the day before protestors were evicted under the cover of darkness on Tuesday 15 November.  I am so grateful I was able to be a witness to this historic movement in its original location at Liberty Square, and continue to send my support to those on the ground fighting for income and wealth equality for us all.

    • Bread - not technically a green cafe, but they are embracing the art of reuse with these beautiful mugs used for tea (organic and fair trade, too) - and they make a great brekky!

    Lest you think I only enjoyed green things . . .
      Enjoying the 'local' cuisine

    I only had a few days in NYC, and did no research in the lead up to my visit on the must-see eco-sites, but I was happy with how easily I stumbled upon sustainable offerings in the big city.

    I'd love to hear of any others you have come across in your travels! I'm sure I'll be back, and next time I'll be better prepared with my greenie list - though I suspect there will still be a slice of pizza or two on a  non-recyclable wax-coated paper plate.