It’s officially mid winter break! I don’t about you guys, but I’m really looking forward to relaxing and (hopefully) spending lots of time outside if the weather is nice. Because I feel like I have cabin fever from spending so much time inside this winter, and for those of you who are having a staycation this break, I decided to make a list of closeby outdoor activities to do over break.
Chances are, living in Issaquah you have done a lot of hiking. Although popular trail heads such as Poo Poo Point and Rattlesnake are great places to hike, Issaquah and the surrounding areas offer many other beautiful and scenic trails. Squak Mountain, Cougar Mountain, and Tiger Mountain all offer great trails for hikers, runners, and mountain bikers. However, my advice is to take advantage of our days off and go hiking on a weekday instead of the weekend because it will be way less crowded.
One of the best parts about mid winter break is having the opportunity to go skiing or snowboarding when it is less hectic than the popular holiday season. Luckily for us, Issaquah is very close to Snoqualmie Summit, Alpental, and Crystal Lake which are all great places for a variety of snow sports. My personal favorite place to ski is Alpental because they offer night passes which allows you to ski or snowboard in the dark.
Those are all of my outdoor recommendations for mid winter break! Hopefully you all have fun spending some time appreciating and enjoying nature!
Given that we live in the Pacific Northwest, I thought it would be interesting to explore the impacts of salmon farming and production on the environment. Even though though the PNW is full of wild salmon, there are still many fish farms throughout Washington.
Salmon farming is arguably one the most harmful aquaculture systems in the world. Most salmon farms use open net-cages that are placed directly in the ocean. Because of this, farm waste, chemicals, diseases, and parasites are released directly into the surrounding waters and harm other marine life. The vast majority of salmon farming operations depend on the use of vaccines, antibiotics, and pesticides to control disease and parasites that are common amongst the fish which not only contaminate the water, but also harm those who eat the fish.Thousands of natural predators such as sea lions and seals who are attracted to the pens of fish are also killed by the farmers themselves or the chemicals and waste in the water.
Raising carnivorous fish like salmon that rely on other types of wild fish for food also has a significant and harmful impact on the environment. More kilograms of wild fish are used to raise salmon than the the amount of salmon that farms produce, therefore depleting wild fish stocks rather than supplementing them. This fish depletion causes farmers to raise more and more salmon causing a never ending cycle of depletion.
Because we live an area abundant with wild salmon as well as other types of fish, we have no excuse to not be buying wild caught salmon. Although it may cost slightly more money, the price is worth keeping the environment and wildlife safe.
It’s officially second semester! I don’t know about you, but I’m very glad finals are over and am excited for a fresh start. At the start of every new semester, I always like to clean out and re-organize my binder. When I was doing this last weekend, I was shocked to see how much paper I had used (and wasted) in all of my classes. Even though many teachers are mindful of their paper usage, I still think it’s wasteful to use so many papers when there are plenty other alternatives.
After looking into just how much paper schools and their students waste each year, I was shocked. According to data collected by Conservatree, a U.S. recycling company, Americans now use about 31.5 million tons of printing and writing paper each year. This equates to roughly 660 pounds of paper per person, which also requires 535 million trees and 12 billion gallons of oil to produce. So if there is roughly 3,000 students and teachers at Issaquah High School, that means we throw out about 1,980,000 pounds of paper each year. Crazy, right?
So how can you cut back on your paper consumption? Although a lot of times it is necessary to use printed copies of worksheets in classes, but you can also use online versions. It’s also a good idea to repurpose old pieces of paper and write down notes on the back side or wherever there is room. Another tip is to write on both sides of the paper. This might sound obvious, but I know so many people who refuse to write on the back of papers (it drives me crazy).
Hopefully you can use some of these tips to cut back on your paper consumption this semester!
Recently, I was talking to my friend SpiceGirl about her favorite healthy snacks. Although it is always good to eat healthy, it is also important to keep in mind what kind of environmental impacts your food has on the environment. When SpiceGirl mentioned that one of her favorite granola bars contains quinoa (pronounced keen-wa), a grain that has become increasingly popular over the past few years, I decided to look further into how it is grown and produced.
Although quinoa boasts many health benefits and is a great source of protein, iron, lysine, and other nutrients, its healthy profile comes at a hefty price. In recent years, as quinoa has become more and more popular, Bolivian and Peruvian farmers who grow the grain have experienced major losses. Because of the high demand for the grain and its complicated growing, farmers are struggling to produce enough grain to feed the quinoa-craze. To grow more quinoa, farmers have forced out other indigenous crops and cut down forest areas for more room.
Not only does quinoa require lots of land to grow, it also relies on the natural manure produced by llamas in the region. As farmers have expanded on more land, they have displaced llamas who traditionally provided natural fertilizer and prevented erosion, which has caused farmers to replace the manure with synthetic fertilizers. The absence of llamas depletes the soil and leads to erosion, and the synthetic fertilizers damage insect populations (such as bees) and leads to further species loss.
Overall, I’m not saying that you should never eat quinoa again. In fact, a lot of grains and other crops have a harsh impact on our environment. I just think it is important to be an informed consumer and know how the food on your plate gets there.
As you may have heard, last week Santa Barbara, California was devastated by a enormous mudslide that killed 20 people and destroyed hundreds of houses. Having been born in Santa Barbara, it was especially hard to see a place so special to me become destroyed. Luckily, my family that still lives there is safe and did not those their homes or become injured from the slide. However, the damage that has been caused has impacted everyone and likely changed the city’s ecology forever.
Given that this area was previously threatened by the Thomas Fire only a few weeks ago, the dry soil and burnt vegetation provided no structure or stability to the Montecito Mountains. When California finally experienced rain after the fire, everyone was relieved to see the extremely dry and fire hazardous brush get some water. However, many did not realize the danger that was now in their backyard. Because the loose, ashy soil left by the fire is easily swept away, at 2:30am a Montecito neighborhood was demolished by debris and mud that had been swept from the mountain. The reason why mudslides are so devastating is because of the quickness in which they occur and the giant rocks and boulders they carry with them. More than 5 inches of mud spread throughout Santa Barbara and destroyed virtually every structure in its path. Many major freeways still remain closed due to the debris and difficult clean up of the area.
Despite the tragedies the Santa Barbara has faced in the past few weeks, thanks to the brave first responders and caring community, I am positive the city will be able to overcome this.
Flooded Santa Barbara neighborhood
I don’t know about you, but I always dread January and February because of the icy cold weather and the fact that it gets dark around 4pm. Coming from southern California, I’m used to a “winter” consisting of days in the low 60’s so Washington’s brisk 30 degree weather is rough. Although I definitely could complain about the cold weather we experience here for an entire blog, I think we should instead talk about the recent winter storm, the “Bomb Cyclone,” that hit the East Coast. Although many climate change deniers claim that this storm “disproves global warming” this is far from the truth.
The Bomb Cyclone gets its name from a weather phenomenon called “explosive cyclogenesis” that is used to describe a “rapidly deepening extratropical cyclonic low-pressure area,” or in other words, a large storm with extremely low temperatures. Because many people view climate change as increasingly warm temperatures, there has been tons of controversy over whether the Bomb Cyclone is a result from climate change. But really, people are just confused over what climate change actually is. Many see climate change and global warming as the same thing when it isn’t (global warming is actually a RESULT of climate change). In fact, climate change is really just a broad term for the changing of our climate, whether that be an increase or decrease in our earth’s temperature.
The reason why this is so concerning is because the earth is home to a plethora of delicate resources that can be destroyed by just a slight change in temperature. If we don’t pay more attention and care to this now, the Bomb Cyclone’s frigid weather could eventually become our daily reality.
Happy New Year! So far, 2018 has been off to a great start. Because this time of the year is when many of us choose to make some New Year’s Resolutions, I thought I would be a great idea to share some simple eco-friendly resolutions that could not only help our environment, but your own health!
Use Reusable Shopping Bags
In the past few years, many grocery stores have eliminated the use of plastic bags because of their harsh impact on the environment. Now, in many stores plastic bags have been replaced with paper. Although paper doesn’t clog up landfills like plastic does, it still requires a lot of resources to be produced. Instead, it is always better to use reusable bags because they can be used many times before needing to be thrown away. These bags only cost a couple dollars and prevent you from being charged every time you buy a bag from the grocery store.
Eat More Plant-Based Meals
Cutting down on your meat consumption is one of the best things you can do for the environment. The production of livestock for food uses tons of resources and has a harsh impact on our environment. In fact, conventional methods of raising cows for food emit more carbon emissions than cars. Because of this, implementing more vegetarian meals in your diet can cut back on this emissions and be beneficial towards both the environment and your health.
Stop Using Plastic Water Bottles
As I mentioned earlier, plastic has a devastating impact on our environment. The production of plastic water bottles uses tons of oil and chemicals that are harmful to both the environment and your health. Instead, investing in reusable a water bottle is far less wasteful.
Winter break is finally here! Because I’m running out of time to buy my family and friends their holiday gifts, I thought it would be a good idea to share some DIY and last minute gift eco-friendly gifts! Most of the ideas I have listed below were found on Pintrest so you should definitely check out some more gift ideas on their site!
Homemade Bath Bombs
Making your own homemade bath bombs might seem difficult, but it is surprisingly simple. With just a few ingredients such as baking soda and essential oil, these bath bombs are all natural and eco-friendly because they do not contain any synthetic chemicals or dyes.
DIY Phone Case
Homemade phone cases are unique and customizable gift options. With just leftover fabric and a sewing kit, you can make an array of different phone cases. Instead of using conventional plastic cases, homemade cases can be made out of old leather jackets or other recycled materials keeping tons of plastic out of our landfills.
Easy Snow Globes
Snow globes are a festive decoration that people of all ages enjoy. By making your own out of recycled jars, water, glitter, and old holiday decorations, you easily can make your own snow globes. Unlike their store-bought counterparts, these snow globes are made out of recycled materials instead of the usual plastic or glass that clogs up our landfills.
Those are all of my DIY eco-friendly gift tips for now! I hope you all enjoy your winter break!
The Holiday season is here! Because this time of the year is full of gifts and presents, I thought it would be a good idea to share some companies that offer eco-friendly gift options. Keep in mind, we generate an additional 7 million pounds of waste during the holidays so be conscience of what you are throwing away!
Patagonia is an recreational and outerwear company committed to sustainable practices. The company really works hard to do whatever they can to minimize the environmental impact of the manufacturing of their clothing. A great product offered by Patagonia is their ‘Better Sweater’ which is made out of 100% polyester fleece and is dyed with a low-impact process that significantly reduces the use of such as energy and water during production.
Looking for a new phone case? Pela Case, a company with a mission to end the usage of plastic phone cases, offers biodegradable phone cases made with 100% natural products. These cases are slightly more expensive than their plastic counterparts, but their sleek design and durability make them a great gift this holiday season.
A slightly new company, this California startup makes backpacks and totes out of old billboards. Sounds strange? The LA-based company has collected billboard waste from all over the country, and receives more than 20,000 pounds of it every month. Given that each billboard is different, their products are also one-of-a-kind as well. Waterproof, recycled, and durable, Rareform’s bags keep massive amounts of waste out of landfills and are a unique gift.
Patagonia’s better sweater material is soft and comfortable, making it a perfect eco-friendly gift
If you haven’t heard, this past week has been rough in Southern California. On Monday night, a massive wildfire broke out in my hometown of Ventura, California. In just a matter of hours, the fire engulfed thousands of acres and burned hundreds of homes as well as several businesses and schools. As I write this blog, I know of at least 6 friends and family members that have lost their homes as a result of the fire and many more structures are expected to burn as the fire progresses.
Although the threat of wildfires is usually highest in the late summer and early fall, the lack of rain and Santa Ana Winds (strong and extremely dry down-slope winds) have caused the fire to spread rapidly. Dry brush and plants, a result from Southern California’s drought, likely rubbed together from the extreme winds and ignited the fire. This fire is also particularly difficult to put out because the strong winds and heavy smoke have prevented helicopters from being able to fly above the flames and drop water. According to Ventura County Fire Chief Mark Lorenzen, “Really, Mother Nature’s going to decide when we have the ability to put the fire out.”
Not only has the fire damaged hundreds of structures, it has also contaminated the water and caused major power outages in the area. The Casitas Municipal Water District urged residents in Ventura County to boil their water before drinking and cooking due to possible contamination from the loss of pressure as a result of fire-related power outages.
Currently, the harsh conditions has kept the fire at 0% containment causing it to continue to spread. This fire is truly an example of human’s helplessness against nature and serves as a warning for worse to come.
A picture of the fire taken from my Uncle’s backyard
Tulips are a great eco-friendly gardening choice because they require little watering.
As most people know, having a garden can have either a positive or negative impact on the environment. Dependent upon what plants you grow, the type of soil used, how much water you use, and if you use any synthetic fertilizers or chemicals, your garden could actually be hurting the earth. So, in order to keep your garden eco-friendly, I have put together a few green gardening tips.
Ditch Commercial Fertilizers
Many fertilizers advertized to gardeners have harmful chemicals that are absorbed into the soil. Despite making your plants healthy, these chemicals harm surrounding eco-systems and can make animals and insects sick. Instead, rely on using natural fertilizers such as coffee grounds, eggshells, and vinegar. Using bird feeders and planting sweet-smelling flowers attracts birds and helpful insects that can help manage aphid and other pest infestations.
Limit Water Consumption
Growing plants that require lots of water can cause hundreds of gallons of water to be wasted. Instead, grow plants that require minimal watering such as cacti, succulents, verbena, and agave. Not only do these plants require minimal amounts of water, they also do well in most climates and go without water for long periods of time.
Use Organic Soil
Organic soil is usually made up of composted fruits and vegetables and does not contain any chemical fertilizers. Because of this, plants grown in organic soil are safer for human, animal, and insect consumption.
Those are all of the eco-friendly gardening tips I have for you guys! Hopefully with these small tips and tricks you are able to grow a happy and healthy garden!
Given that we are about to get into the full swing of the holiday season, I thought it would be an appropriate time to go over some environmentally friendly gift ideas! Often, things such as wrapping paper and plastic end up in landfills and create excess waste. Instead of piling up lots of junk this gift-giving season, use these two helpful tips below to have an eco-friendly holiday!
Reusable Gift Wrap
In the U.S. alone, we create 4 million pounds of gift wrap waste each year. Because of this, there is over a 25% increase in landfill waste between Thanksgiving and New Years. Instead of contributing to this waste, reusing items such as newspaper, fabric, shopping bags, blankets, or recycled wrapping paper keep our landfills cleaner. In fact, there are many brands of reusable wrapping paper ranging from cloth sacks to custom sewn encasings. Companies such as Lilywrap, a business dedicated to environmentally friendly wrapping, have plenty of festive options for the holidays.
Reduce The Amount Gifts
To avoid the amount of waste created, focus on high quality gifts rather than many gifts for each person. Giving a loved one a larger gift instead of several smaller ones is often more memorable and enjoyable for both you and the recipient. Not to mention this method can reduce wrapping waste by more than 50%!
Use leftover newspaper as a fun and unique gift wrap
Those are all the tips I have for now! I hope that you all try to implement eco-friendly ideas into your holiday season, our planet will thank you for it!
Thanksgiving is right around the corner! Although Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, it also comes along with a lot of waste. Because of this, I’ve put together a list of helpful tips to ensure your Thanksgiving is more eco-friendly.
Cut Down On Travel
We all know transportation has a massive effect on our environment. The day before and the Sunday after Thanksgiving are two of the busiest travel days during the year. So, if you’re traveling this Thanksgiving, look into carpooling with other guests or taking the train (the greenest form of transportation) to cut down on travel emissions.
Use Less Plastic
When buying ingredients for your feast, buy items from the bulk section of your store to cut down on packaging waste. Buying fresh fruits and vegetables from farmers markets also cuts down on packaging and supports local farmers. Also, always remember to bring reusable grocery bags when shopping, it saves the environment and keeps you from paying extra for paper bags!
Don’t Waste Food
While planning out your Thanksgiving meal, make sure you are not making too much. The USDA estimates that over 30% of groceries in the US are thrown away, meaning billions of dollars are wasted each year. Instead, focus on making an appropriate amount of food and find recipes for Thanksgiving leftovers.
Those are all the types I have for you! Hopefully you are able to have a more eco-friendly Thanksgiving celebration by following these simple and easy guidelines. The earth will thank you for it!
Try this environmentally friendly decorating idea by displaying seasonal items such as gourd and squash
We’ve gotten the first snow of the season! Considering last winter, this year’s snowfall is relatively early. So, why is this? Does it have anything to do with our impact on the environment?
When most people think of global warming, they picture higher temperatures melting the icebergs in Antarctica. However, this is definitely not always the case. Global warming, also known as climate change, simply explains a “change in global or regional climate patterns.” With both the unusually high temperatures of this past summer and the early snowfall this winter, the effects of climate change are exactly what we are experiencing here in Issaquah.
The determining factor in how our seasons play out is the tilted axis of the Earth as it revolves around the sun. While climate change does not affect Earth’s tilt, it does have potential implications for many of the other factors that influence winter weather in North America. Issues such as Arctic sea ice, the polar jet stream, polar vortex, El Niño, and many more natural weather phenomenons are all directly caused by climate change. Specifically, The polar vortex, a “stratospheric jet stream,” is a large area of low pressure/cold air along the both the North and South Pole. The vortex can expand or shift, like during the extremely cold North American winters of 2013-2014 and 2014-2015. During these winters, the vortex sent freezing, Arctic air down into the central and eastern U.S., as well as into Texas, Mississippi, and Alabama. The expansion and shifting of the polar vortex to various degrees is regular occurrence during the winter, however the extremes we have experienced these past few years are directly caused by global warming.