Eco

Top 3 Eco-Friendly Vacation Spots in Florida 🏝

Like salt in the sea, there are some experiences we encounter that are forever engraved into who we are. When it comes to the ocean, you never forget the sound waves make as they crash against the shore, the smell of salty brine lingering in the air, or the blissful way a cool breeze engulfs you on a hot summers day. The ocean is something we all have in common and in recent studies around the globe, it’s now become alarmingly evident that our oceans have seen better days. Fortunately for us, a few pioneers have been revolutionizing the way cities handle conservation and education for responsible tourism. With plenty of caring citizens wanting to do their part, eco-tourism, sustainability-focused, and thriving wildlife destinations have become front and center on trending travel reports.

Here in the United States, the Florida Keys has been leading the charge on responsible tourism offering everything from sustainable eco-tours to government supported nature centers that emphasize the education on local wildlife. If you’re looking to do your part this summer, we recommend planning a trip to the Florida Keys, diving down to the world’s third largest barrier reef and preparing for a vacation where you can give back to the planet and leave knowing you left a destination better than you found it.

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Key Largo

The first stop of any Florida Keys road trip is none other than Key Largo. The Keys consist of a 125-mile-long stretch of islands that mirrors an equally as impressive coastline with the world’s third largest barrier reef. As you can imagine, the reef plays a vital role in attracting visitors near and far. Therefore, businesses and locals alike are doing their part to invest in the upkeep and well being of their oceanic ecosystem.

The Baker’s Cay Resort, for example, is a former pineapple plantation which has been reimagined into a 13-acre resort that not only features beautiful rooms, quality service, delicious restaurants, and stunning nature trails complete with hidden beaches, but also does its part by providing guests with environmentally friendly options liked boxed water, biodegradable straws, and an eco-conscious boutique that offers up everything from sustainable fashion to reef safe sunscreen.

In Monroe County, reef safe sunscreen is strongly encouraged, as the county is currently working their way towards making reef harmful sunscreens illegal by law. Sunscreens that contain harmful chemicals like oxybenzone, octinoxate, and avobenzone are proven to be lethal to coral, which since the 1970s has diminished by 97 percent. As the United State’s only barrier reef, coral is one the Keys most valuable players in this $2.7 billion dollar tourism industry. In the words of Roxane Boonstra, the recreational dive and volunteer coordinator from the Coral Restoration Foundation in Key Largo, you have to start with coral. They’ll be no marine life without it. Guests can visit the Coral Restoration Foundation to learn more about the future of coral reefs as well as volunteer to snorkel or scuba dive the man-made coral farms. Divers will even get the opportunity to do their part by helping replant native corals back onto the reef.

Of course, if you’d rather be landlocked, you can wind down and visit The Florida Keys Wild Bird Sanctuary, a nonprofit conservation organization dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation, and release of native wild birds that have been harmed or displaced. You can visit the resident birds who are no longer eligible to be released due to long-standing medical conditions and learn the importance of coexistence as well as the importance of environmental preservation for some of Florida’s oldest residents.

Marathon

After you’ve finished exploring the Upper Keys, take a day tip to Marathon, where visitors can tour one of the world’s first turtle hospitals, opened in 1986, designated to the health and well being of sea turtles. At the Turtle Hospital, educational tours are held daily to introduce visitors to the resident sea turtles, the facilities that help them, and to the local stressors that affect marine life as well as how we can do our part to prevent them. Guests even have the opportunity to get up close and personal in the process by assisting in the release of a turtle, back into the ocean, after they’ve been rehabilitated, which is regularly announced on the hospital’s website. Bette Zirkelbach, the manager of the turtle hospital, excitedly exclaims that, “6/10 of our calls [for sick sea turtles] are from people who have been to the hospital before,” making this once in a lifetime experience one not to be missed!

After you’ve worked up an appetite from saving turtles all day, head over to Castaway Waterfront Restaurant & Sushi Bar to order up the local catch of the day, Lionfish. Owner and Chef John Mirabell was one of the world’s first chefs to serve up lionfish after a venomous sting left him “inspired” to make lionfish sushi. Lionfish are an invasive species in the Atlantic Ocean causing a real problem for Florida’s local ecosystem as they compete with native fish for food, habitat and dominate in populations due to a lack of natural predators. As a conservationist, Mirabell is lending his hand in helping diminish the invasive population by doing what humans do best, putting lionfish on the menu. On Castaway’s extensive menu, you can find this fish served up several different ways alongside plenty of other locally caught fish and delicious dishes. Local favorites include the fresh ceviche, stuffed avocados, and lionfish sushi humorously referred to as the king of the jungle roll.

Key West

After crossing the infamous seven-mile bridge, you’ll eventually find yourself at the final destination of your road trip, Key West. Naturally, you can’t mention the Floridas Keys without mentioning Florida’s biggest wildlife player, dolphins. Key West is home to a resident pod of about 300 Atlantic bottlenose dolphins, which live in smaller pods that can range anywhere from 6 to 20 dolphins seasonally. Watching them in their natural habitat with Honest Eco Sustainable Nature Tours is an experience favored by visitors and locals alike. The SQUID, Key West’s first solar-powered boat, uses a lithium battery-powered electric motor that reduces fuel consumption making it a perfect environmentally friendly option for day tours. The solar powered battery reduces the engine’s noise pollution making it ideal for dolphin watching as well as snorkeling in secluded areas amongst the iconic turquoise blue waters that are synonymous with the Keys.

If you prefer to stay dry on your excursion, Key West Eco Tours provides kayaks or stand up paddle boards through “backcountry” waters where wild mangroves provide a lush habitat for young sea life and colorful gardens. Led by local nature guides, this hands-on experience invites guests on a treasure hunt as they search the seabed to identify, classify, and learn about the extensive ecosystem that flourishes within these clear shallow waters.

In addition to the abundance of eco-friendly tours, Key West is also home to a budding sustainably sourced culinary scene. Locals can be found on any given night dining at The Stoned Crab. At this restaurant, private fishing boats deliver sustainably caught Florida stone crab, lobster, Key West Shrimp and a variety of local fish that are every bit as delicious as they are fresh. From dinner, stroll on over to the infamous sunset celebration at Mallory Square where around 7 pm the streets turn into a carnival affair as Floridians and eager guests overlook the harbor while street performers, musician, and food carts celebrate another day in paradise. From there, you can head to Duval Street’s only eco-bar, The Green Room, where this local hub serves up unique frozen cocktails, live music, and a picturesque rooftop deck overlooking the downtown area. The Green Room’s commitment to being eco friendly echoes throughout the space with upcycled decor, an extensive recycling system behind the scenes, a curbside cigarette container that makes recycling those butts anything but boring and a for sale merchandise display that donates a margin of their proceeds to helping environmental causes, such as the Turtle Hospital. After a long night celebrating on Duval St, you can rest easy at the Parrot Key Hotel & Villas who’s newly refurbished waterfront villas are a blissful escape with top of the line amenities and friendly staff that will make your stay feel like paradise.

As far as vacations go, getting in touch with one of America’s most eco-conscious destinations is more than just a once in a lifetime experience, it’s a bright light to the future of sustainable tourism. This chain of island’s commitment to reducing plastic use, enforcing non-toxic sunscreen, and commitment to sustainably caught seafood is the lifeline needed to aid a seemingly sinking ship. As the world works towards educating future generations on sustainable practices, the Florida Keys is no doubt a pioneer in leading the way in which sustainability can work hand in hand to educate locals and visitors alike on the importance of preserving our planet making this destination an absolute must for your next vacation

What’s On Tap? 5 Sustainability Trends For 2019

In 2019, global sustainability trends are taking shape in a meaningful way. Some you may not notice right away, but others will be impossible to miss since they will not only be emphasized in the media, but also in our everyday lives.

Here are 5 sustainable trends to keep an eye on in 2019.

1. Sustainable Vehicle Automation

As climate concerns continue to grow, so does the attention being paid globally to carbon emissions. Because cars and trucks are large contributors to these emissions, a great deal of progress continues to be made regarding the restructuring of the vehicle industry. Low to zero-emission vehicles, self-driving cars, and fully electric options are gaining in popularity – a trend that will only gain strength in the coming year.

According to GreenBiz several countries are working to actively ban fossil fuel cars within the next 25 years and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has projected that self-driving vehicles could remove up to 90% of vehicles on the streets of urban cities.

2. Consumers and technology will make headway in reducing plastic pollution

Addressing our plastic problem is something that many organizations, corporations, activists, environmentalists, governments and individuals have been doing for years – so what is going to be the new trend in the 2019 plastic battle? The answer lies with the informed consumer and changes in plastic technology.

Because plastic is an affordable material with an extensively wide range of uses, it isn’t likely that plastic waste will become a thing of the past by December 31, 2019. What is likely to happen is a change in the way consumers use plastic and the pressure they will continue to exert on their elected officials to make single-use plastics less accessible overall. 

3. Sustainable Farming 

If there is one area in 2019 that sustainable efforts can have a huge impact, it’s agriculture. The past few years have shown increased attention to the way we produce food, and efforts have been growing to ensure that the process of growing is as beneficial for the earth as it is for our tables.


According to James Goodman, director of futures and projects at Forum for the Future, “The internet of things, remote sensing, artificial intelligence and a revolution in robotics are coming together to make low-input, data-driven automated agriculture at scale a real possibility.” This is good news for more efficient use of water, decreased waste overall, and better crop production in the coming years.

4. Increase in sustainable building materials

The years 2016 – 2018 showed us that if it can be made in an eco-friendly way there is likely someone out there who will make it so – 2019 will be no different. While packaging and everyday materials have been making responsible shifts to biodegradable, compostable, and fully recyclable options in recent years, there is one industry that will continue to strive for new sustainable heights in 2019. That is the construction industry.

According to Marc Spiegel, Construction and Demolition Sector Lead and Co-Founder of Rubicon Global, “When looking at the construction and demolition industry, it will be critical to leverage technology to deal with the massive challenge of cleaning up, waste and recycling.  Today there are better ways to deal with construction clean up, other than doing what we did 50 years ago and calling the garbage company. Educating the public and private sectors on modern possibilities is vital to change old habits.

In addition, the lack of dedicated construction and demolition material recycling facilities means that each commodity being recycled must have its own container to prevent cross contamination. This scenario makes coordination and logistics more important for users and vendors, which is why embracing technology could be a catalyst for change in 2019 and beyond.”

5. Increased social action and education around sustainability

With so much at stake globally, 2019 could be the year when the effects of our increasingly ultra-connected behavior as a society rises to a new level and leads to meaningful positive change. Change can be hard but we are proving more and more that it doesn’t have to be a four-letter word. In the past, we have achieved great things as a society when we have worked together and in 2019 we expect to see big changes.

For example, we expect to see a growing number of organizations doing the hard work needed to gain B Corporation status, an increase in green building LEED Certifications, more cities instituting single-use plastic bans, and global policy changes intended to make polluting nearly impossible. 

We also expect to see sustainability commitments increase for small business and individuals through more responsible recycling practices, efforts toward becoming more energy efficient, and efforts to become more educated about sustainable initiatives in local communities.

7 reasons why plants are valuable and important 🌱#HumanSpaces

Everyday, we encounter plants whether it is in parks, the wild outbacks of nature, or in the simple pleasure of plantscaping the inside and outside of our homes. But do we truly understand the vital role plants have in this world? The very thought should cause us to pay more attention to the beautiful botany that surrounds us.

Here are 7 reasons why plants are valuable and important:

FOOD 

The sun is provider of all energy. We eat plants to gather the energy stored in their cells. And we are here because our ancestors foraged plants for food. They learned the ways of agriculture to make it easier and grew plants that produced products such as wheat and corn to eat. Approximately 7,000 different plant species have been cultivated and used as food for people. Though humans can live on the consumption of animal products, it is just a step away from plants since cows, pigs, sheep, chickens, rabbits and other animals eat plants to live.

AIR  

The air we breath mainly consists of 78% nitrogen and 21% oxygen. But it is oxygen that is vital for our cells to produce energy, energy that originated with the sun. When the sun shines down, plants absorb the sunlight to produce energy and end up releasing oxygen into the air as a by-product of their metabolism.  We in turn inhale the oxygen for our survival and exhale the carbon dioxides plants require. Breath deeply and drink in the oxygen-laden air and realize it’s because of plants we are alive.

WATER 

Where there is water, there is life. Plants regulate the water cycle by distributing and purifying the planet’s water supply. Through the act of transpiration, plants move the water from the soil up their roots and out into the atmosphere. Moisture accumulates into clouds and eventually the water droplets are returned back down as rain to revitalize life on earth.

MEDICINE 

Many of prescription medicines come from plant extracts or synthesized plant compounds. Aspirin comes from the bark of the willow. Mint leaves have mentha that is used in throat lozenges, muscle creams and nasal medicine. The malaria drug ingredient quinine is from
the bark of the Cinchona tree. About 65% – 80% of the world’s population use holistic plant-based medicine as their primary form of healthcare according to the World Health Organization.

PHOTO: COURTESY OF THE SILL.

PHOTO: COURTESY OF THE SILL.

WELLNESS 

The implementation of LEED and WELL Building Standard shows that society is learning the value of incorporating nature or biophilia into man-made environments, both inside and outside for psychological and physical health. Plants advance health, happiness, mindfulness and productivity when weaved inside buildings and throughout the communities. Including living plants inside a home or business revitalizes the air, humidity and lowers stress levels for better wellness.

HABITAT and CLOTHING 

Plants make up the backbone of earth’s diverse landscape that provide hundreds of unique habitats necessary for life. Flowers dance in the fields while grasses on a hill sway in the wind. Trees strut tall in their habitat and act as the earth’s dynamic lungs, powering life everywhere. Birds pick up straw, leaves, bark, along with feathers, hairs and other items to make a comfy nest in a tree, bush or even tall grasses. Our ancestors used thatched roofs made of grasses or palm fronds, and wood to secure their homes. Industrial hemp was one of the first plants to be spun into usable fiber 10,000 years ago. Plants in all their diversity keep the cycle of life moving.

CLIMATE

Excessive carbon released into the environment has been blamed for the current climate change we are experiencing. But rarely is it explained that plants store carbon by pulling it from the air. Plants help keep much of the carbon dioxide produced from our burning of fossils fuels out of the atmosphere. We owe our temperate climate to the perpetual landscape of green that blankets our world.

The Problem With Plastic ♻️ #Glocal

Plastic isn’t just a problem when it enters the environment as waste. Rather, plastic pollutes at every step of its life.

Extraction

Plastic is made from fossil fuels like oil, natural gas, and even coal. As demand for fossil fuels as an energy source declines relative to production, plastic production represents a lifeline for the fossil fuel industry. All of the problems of fossil fuel extraction and transportation – from oil spills to groundwater pollution – come along for the ride.

Production

Converting fossil fuels into plastic feedstocks requires large chemical processing plants which emit a variety of pollutants into the air. These plants tend to be situated in low-income communities, which lack the resources or political capital to fight back. These communities face higher rates of disease as a result of their exposure to pollutants from nearby plants.

Consumption

Many plastics contain chemical additives which can leach back out of the material, getting into our food, our water, and ultimately our bodies. For example, BPA, an endocrine disruptor that can cause big problem particularly for young people, is found in many types of plastic commonly used for food storage.

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Disposal

Plastic stays around for hundreds of years or more. Unfortunately, only 9% of the plastic every produced gets recycled; the majority ends up in landfills or in the environment. In fact, 8 million tons of plastic enter our waterways each year. All that plastic is starting to show up in unexpected (and unwelcome) places, from our tap water to our food. The “smog” of microplastics in our ocean is smothering the small organisms that make up the base of the food chain, and could have serious implications for our food systems.

In addition to this wholistic view of plastic’s impact on people and the planet, our campaigns and communications are founded on four key understandings:

There is too much plastic in the system. Half of all plastic ever produced was made in the last 13 years. Plastic production globally continues to increase, with the plastic industry projecting 75% growth in the production of polyethylene (one of the most common types of plastic) in the US by 2022. Much of that growth is in single-use plastic with no recycled content. At this rate, there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050. To reduce the consequences of plastic production and disposal, we must reduce the amount of plastic being produced.

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Not all plastic is created equal. Some plastic is used to create long-lasting, durable goods. Some plastics have a high recycling value, making them far more likely to be recycled again and again. But much of the plastic in our economy has low or no value, meaning that it can’t be economically recycled and is therefore far more likely to end up in landfills or the environment.

Producers are bear ultimate responsibility for plastic pollution. We have been led to think that plastic pollutions is the product of careless litterbugs. While that may be true in certain countries with developed waste and recycling infrastructure, the majority of plastic waste entering the environment comes from developing nations in the global South. Despite the lack of established systems to manage plastic waste, multinational corporations like Nestlé, Unilever, Proctor & Gamble, and Johnson & Johnson continue to dump huge volumes of low-value plastic into this region despite knowing full well where that plastic will end up. While they pocket the profits, we are all left to deal with the waste.

Solutions exist, and groups around the world are fighting for and implementing them. Although there is no singular magic bullet or one-size-fits-all solution, a growing movement of change-makers from around the world are building and scaling strategic, culturally-responsive solutions to the plastic problem. From local bans on no-value plastic like plastic bags and styrofoam take-out containers, to brand audits that identify problematic products for redesign, a rich tapestry of solutions hold the promise of a future free from plastic pollution.

10 Exceptional Earth Photos 🌎 #EarthDay

Celebrate Earth Day With The Greatest Images Of Our Planet.

The Earth remains humanity's only home in all the Universe, and the only planet that we know of capable of supporting human beings. Today, Earth Day, it's more important than ever to appreciate it. Below are some of the most impressive images of our home planet ever captured with a camera.

Northern Outburst by   Oystein Lunde Ingvaldsen

Northern Outburst by Oystein Lunde Ingvaldsen

The Great Blue Hole – Belize

The Great Blue Hole – Belize

Terraced Rice Field, China by   Thierry Bornier

Terraced Rice Field, China by Thierry Bornier

Eyjafjallajökull Volcano, Iceland by   Sigurdur Hrafn Stefnisson

Eyjafjallajökull Volcano, Iceland by Sigurdur Hrafn Stefnisson

Cave of Crystals, Mexico by   Carsten Peter, Speleoresearch & Films

Cave of Crystals, Mexico by Carsten Peter, Speleoresearch & Films

Camel, Socotra Island by   Sergei Reoutov

Camel, Socotra Island by Sergei Reoutov

Yellowstone Park by   Tom Clark

Yellowstone Park by Tom Clark

All This Blue Ice

All This Blue Ice

Serengeti, Tanzania by   Amnon Eichelberg

Serengeti, Tanzania by Amnon Eichelberg

Arizona Butte by   Rex Naden

Arizona Butte by Rex Naden