Sustainable Camping or Glamping?

Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 3.22.31 PM
Sustainable Camping or Glamping? (Week #29)

The WHAT and WHY:

Late July and August is a great time to get in that last week or weekend to take the family camping in the wilderness before the school year begins. An avid camper can carefully purchase zero-impact gear, camp locally or regionally and leave the electronic gadgets at home to reduce his or her footprint.

The term “glamping“, is defined as luxury camping by urbanites who cannot give up their tech or toys while trying to be “in nature”. To me, that defeats the purpose. You can be comfortable, clean, eat well and and be healthy with a tiny footprint.

Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 3.33.55 PMWhere I grew up, we spent lots of time in the BWCA, where the rule was, “whatever goes in, you bring out”. I was an environmental advocate as soon as I learned how to crawl out of the tent. Girl Scouts helped too.

It was only when I became an adult that I realized how the rest of American campers “enjoyed” nature. I have news for you, packing the car with tons of gear, food, hi-tech toys and amenities was what campers did decades ago. It’s so yesterday, so not good for us, or other living things.

Getting away from all the amenities of the modern world and reconnecting with nature is really the objective. If bicycling to your destination is not your thing; or it is not possible, perhaps you can carpool with friends or neighbors.

Let’s honor Mother Nature and the environment, its creatures, flora and fauna; try solar water bags (for your evening shower) and solar powered or hand cranked gear is a solution for minimal environmental impact. My Goal Zero Yeti 400 powers whatever my camping group needs, emergency phones and solar lights. I use my Biolite Campstove Bundle to cook while it powers up my phone. And I take a couple of Solar Luci lights, just for fun!

Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 3.37.26 PM

Remember your sunscreen and consider using one of the eight natural mosquito repellents.

This week’s practice is to plan and enjoy a sustainable camping experience.

The HOW:

We suggest you adopt the “Leave No Trace” Seven Principles *, (click on Seven Principles to learn more):

1. Plan Ahead and Prepare

2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces

3. Dispose of Waste Properly

4. Leave What You Find

5. Minimize Campfire Impacts

6. Respect Wildlife

7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors

The Deep Dive:

Orange solar tent as pictured above

Hand crank coffee grinder

Hand Crank SteriPen water purifier, one liter in 90 seconds

Leave No Trace, Center for Outdoor Ethics website

Sustainable camping in Sardinia, (one of the Founder’s favorites)

Inspired Cool Glamping and Camping Gear

Up Shit Creek,  a collection of Horrifying Wilderness Toilet Misadventures

*The member-driven Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics teaches people how to enjoy the outdoors responsibly. This copyrighted information has been reprinted with permission from the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics:

Sustainably Cool

Sustainably Cool (Week #28)

The WHAT and WHY:

Last week we gave tips and tricks for staying sustainably cool. This week we promised to define the other “sustainably cool”. Will the graphic above from Wikipedia soon include a blue section of innovative sustainability “cool cats”?

The origins of the “state of being cool”, as defined by Wikipedia sources, were amongst slaves, rebels, prisoners and dissidents that manifested a cool, detached reaction to authority. I prefer the aesthetic definition of social control, transcendental balance, well being, and a state of harmony.

After all, isn’t that what real sustainability “cool” is all about? A state of harmony ecologically, socially, culturally, economically and ethically?

So this week’s practice is to help us create the “Top Ten Sustainably Cool People” list and send the list to (Put TOP TEN in subject area). Please include your contact info so we may credit your choices, thanks. We will post it in the blog and sustainability article soon. For inspiration check out

The HOW:

Start locally. List your community’s “sustainable cool” folks with links to their stories. Branch out your search to include sustainable friend’s, your business or community leader’s, alumni, and digital buddies. Let’s learn about those sustainable innovators, thinkers and practitioners you have engaged on your sustainable journey.

Here’s my TOP TEN List of Sustainability Luminaries: 

Al Gore

Bill McKibben

Rachel Carson

Robert Redford

Annie Leonard

Elon Musk

Robert Redford

Paul Newman

Christina Figueros

Wangari Maathai

The Deep Dive:

The humorous way to make a Top Ten list

TED talk about engagement (20 minutes) from Presidio alum, Simran Sethi

Playing it Cool

Playing it Cool (Week #27)

The WHAT and WHY:

Did you know that 69,000 daily heat records have been broken around the country so far this year, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Compare that with last year —the hottest year on record — when only 57,000 daily records had been set by this date.  To some, global warming is considered a hoax, I suggest they read Bill McKibben’s article in the Daily Beast.

A Boston colleague complained they beat the 2014 record for “hottest day of the year”. He hates air-conditioning and has inspired us to address the definition of “sustainably cool”.

One could define that two ways; however, today, we’ll deal with the what/why and how to keep yourself and your home at a desirable temperature. Next week, we’ll attempt to define the other.

Today, we’ll deal with how to keep yourself and your home at a desirable temperature.

This week’s practice is to try several new sustainable measures in each area; let us know how they work for you.

The HOW for a cooler home without AC:

1. Close your blinds and curtains throughout the hottest part of the day.

2. Open windows at night. Open selected windows allowing cool air in.

3. Cool down the house with fans. Ceiling fans and attic fans can be positioned to draw off heat in upper rooms.

4. Make a DIY air conditioner. Put ice into a metal bowl and position a portable fan so that it is blowing over the ice. Or freeze 2 one-gallon jugs of water, place in pan to collect drips, then place in front of fan. Bottles can be refrozen and used repeatedly. See DIY “AC” in a cooler under Deep Dive.

Screen Shot 2015-07-08 at 10.59.08 AM

5. Turn off all heat sources and avoid heat generating activities. Try not to use stove, oven or LED’s. If you must, do so during off-peak and cooler hours. Turn off lamps, computers, TV’s when not in use. (See energy vampire post.)

6. Avoid steam. Take hot showers, do laundry or dishes early or after dark.

7. Use light colored roofing. It reflects heat.

8. Use light colored fabrics inside your home.

9. Insulate your home. It keeps heat in during the winter AND out during the summer.

10. Consider renewable energy for your home and workplace in the near future. If you haven’t gone solar or wind, invest in a green architect to modify your home. Depending on where you live and your energy needs, many government grants, utility and regionable rebates are available.

The HOW for a cooler body:

1. Try citrus fruits. Our grandma’s organic fresh squeezed lemonade worked for a reason. (Did you know drinking lemonade also repels mosquitoes?)

2. Avoid chilled and sugary liquids (they actually make you hotter). Stay hydrated.

3. Take a cool bath or cold shower.

4. Damp, cool cloth around your neck. This works well when doing garden or yard work. There are commercial packs available that you refreeze; with covers.

5. Peppermint oil. Put 2 drops in a cool bath or a few drops into a carrier oil (almond) and rub over your body (avoid face).

6. Eating smaller meals more often produces less body heat.

7. Go swimming, tubing, rafting, visit waterparks, go skating or turn on the sprinkler in the back yard for the kids.

8. Install a DIY Misting Kit for the porch. When I lived in Arizona, almost all the outside restaurants and bars have misting systems. The air is cooled as the water evaporates.

Screen Shot 2015-07-08 at 2.13.10 PM

9. Allow yourself to sweat, wear airy, looser clothing; avoid socks and hats.

10. Updated, modified “Egyptian Method” of sleep (without AC). Sleep in a hammock with a “blue ice” cube inside a towel under your neck; place wrung out wet towel over trunk. This way air has access to your entire body while major heat and pulse areas benefit from water evaporation.

The HOW for a keeping your pets cooler:

1. Leave enough food and cool water for your pets. Leave ice cubes in the water until you get back home.

2. Do not leave pets in the car. Car temperatures can reach critical temperatures within minutes.

3. Plan for a “what if” scenario if your power goes out or an emergency happens while you are away during the day. Leave keys with a friend or neighbor.

4. Provide plenty of shade for your pet indoors and outdoors.

5. Cool them down with wet towels when they show signs of dehydration or heatstroke.

The Deep Dive:

NASA, NOAA Find 2014 Warmest Year in Modern Record

DIY Off-Grid solar AC for less than $25!

Cool compress masks for all parts of the body here.

The Humane Society’s tips for keeping pets cool.

Ten great tips on how to keep your cat cool!

Swamp Cooler Vest for Canines here.

NOAA Temperature Records Summary (Updated daily, for this blog, numbers were taken as of 7/8/2015)