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[1THING] Blog: Archive for May, 2015

[ Nevada’s Dry Lake sets good model for solar energy on public lands ]

The Department of Interior (DOI) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) set a precedent for smart solar energy in a recent decision to approve three large-scale solar projects in the Dry Lake Solar Energy Zone of southern Nevada.



[ Costa Rica: A Model for Sustainability ]

Costa Rica: A Model for Sustainability


By Erica Flock

The mountains north of Costa Rica’s capital city San Jose are covered in small coffee farms. To the untrained eye, they’re quite picturesque but Michelle Deugd of the Rainforest Alliance urges the group I’m touring with to look closer. These farms are missing an important, sustainable feature: trees.

Not only does coffee grow best under shade trees, this simple practice helps preserve biodiversity. The Rainforest Alliance works in Costa Rica and many other countries to help farmers adopt green practices like this and today we’re visiting one such farm: Doka Estate Coffee.

Unlike most of the farms around it, Doka is preserving its trees, phasing out the use of most pesticides, and incorporating many other sustainable practices. Quality coffee like this earns a better price in the market, and workers are spared the damaging health effects of pesticides. During the tour where we learn about the sorting and drying of coffee beans, we hear a variety of birds calling from nearby trees. Managed right, a coffee farm makes great habitat for wildlife.

Like many tropical countries, Costa Rica lost a significant portion of its forests to agriculture in the 20th century. The US was responsible for most of this damage: they provided massive “aid” loans to cattle farmers in Costa Rica starting in the 1960s in order to feed Americans’ growing appetite for meat.

It’s not easy to come back from losing 80 percent of your forests, but Costa Rica is making a valiant effort through its payment for ecosystem services (PES) program. Using revenue from a gas tax, the government is paying small landowners to help reforest the country, with special attention to water resources and areas of high poverty. Their goal is to have 60 percent of the country covered in forests, a significant feat for any country.



Coffee beans drying in the sun at Doka Estate


This ambition is paying off for Costa Rica’s tourism sector: it now surpasses agriculture as the country’s biggest industry. People all over the world are drawn to Costa Rica’s renowned national parks and plentiful ecolodges.

In the midst of this tourism boom, the Rainforest Alliance is giving hotels and lodges the tools they need to run sustainably too. They train hotel employees and tour operators, provide marketing support to certified businesses, and strengthen international ecotourism standards. Their work complements the policies the Costa Rican government has passed to ensure that large and small businesses alike respect the country’s people and environment.

Nestled inside a cloud forest is an ecolodge that’s earned the country’s top green ranking: Villa Blanca. The lodge employs on-site composting and gray water treatment. Neighboring farms provide food for the dining hall and employees volunteer in the community. Visitors to the lodge not only soak up the transcendent beauty of the cloud forest, but also learn about green practices they could adopt when they go home.

Not all hotels in Costa Rica are doing it right. Some major hotel chains that offer all-inclusive coastal vacations don’t require visitors to engage with or give back to the communities they’re among. It’s a troubling, unchecked trajectory according to the documentary film The Goose With the Golden Eggs.

But with the help of groups like the Rainforest Alliance, that could change. “If there’s a country that can pull off [sustainability], it’s Costa Rica,” says Sergio Musmanni, ‎Senior Advisor of the Low Carbon Development Program at German Development Cooperation Agency in Costa Rica. Already, Costa Rica gets most of its energy from renewable sources and has banned hunting and mining. As the world moves toward a cleaner future, we would do well to look here for sustainable inspiration. 


Learn more:

Our work in Sustainable Tourism, Rainforest Alliance

Our work in Sustainable Agriculture, Rainforest Alliance

Happy 25th Birthday to Earth University, Earth University


[ Interior’s plans for imperiled Greater Sage-Grouse complement state and county efforts to balance development and conservation in Idaho ]

Michael Reinemer

More than 50 million acres of Bureau of Land Management Land could include more conservation measures to help sage-grouse, based on plans announced by Interior Secretary Sally Jewell today in Cheyenne, Wyoming.  The plan released for Idaho is meant to pair the protection of sage-grouse habi



[ Sounds Yummy (GREEN) Good … ]

Ben & Jerry’s fighting ‘Global Warming’ one pint at a time w/ Tesla and their new flavor ‘Save Our Swirled (SOS)’! Look for it in stores! Yummy (GREEN) Goodness! Click here!


[ Interior unveils plans that could help protect imperiled sage-grouse bird ]

A new multi-state plan for the greater sage-grouse could include conservation measures to protect more than 50 million acres of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land that provides critical habitat for the species. Secretary Sally Jewell announced the plan on May 28 in Cheyenne, Wyoming.



[ Interior’s plans for imperiled Greater Sage-Grouse complement state and county efforts to balance development and conservation across the West ]

Anastasia Greene

The future of more than 50 million acres of Bureau of Land Management Land could include more conservation measures based on plans announced by Interior Secretary Sally Jewell today.  When adopted and implemented, the federal plans for managing the conservation of Greater Sage-Grouse could


[ Gear up for National Trails Day 2015 on June 6 ]

The nation’s largest celebration of trails is on Saturday June 6. National Trails Day is a chance to celebrate trails by hiking, biking, running or riding on a trail near you.



[ Check out What’s Green in ATX … ]

cool house logoTour some of ATX’s coolest homes that are all ATX Energy Green Building rated and feature energy-efficient and environmentally friendly design, construction and landscaping.  Each location you can meet the home ownere, architect, builder, contractors or Green Building staff members that can answer questions you may have.

19th Annual Cool house Tour is co-produced by the Texas Solar Energy Society and Austin Energy Green Building. www.txses.org Guidebooks are on sale online at $20. Tickets are sold at Treehouse & Zinger Hardware. All proceeds benefit TXSES.

Check out the homes and where they are through this link!  http://www.coolhousetour.com/index/



[ Happy National Don’t Fry Day! (everyday) ]


The ATX Memorial Day Weekend may be more cloudy & wet, than sunny, but this preparing for the summertime is always good to do. In fact everyday should be  ‘HAPPY DON’T FRY DAY!’ Unfortunately my favorite way to relax in the summertime.. catching some rays at the pool/lake/beach is bad for me.  Using protection on the skin is the best thing to do.  Here is some 411 to think about..


Don’t Fry Day

CaptureDon’t Fry Day (DFD) is an annual event observed on the Friday before Memorial Day. Sponsored by theNational Council on Skin Cancer Prevention (NCSCP) along with other organizations, DFD is dedicated to protection and prevention. Don’t Fry Day shines the spotlight on the harmful effects of the sun while raising awareness about the importance of protecting your skin.

As the unofficial beginning of summer kicks off this weekend, people will be spending more and more time in the great outdoors. Now is the time to put that protection plan in place.

The Harmful Effects of the Sun

Ultraviolet rays are the primary cause of skin cancer which is now the most common type of cancer in the United States. According to the American Cancer Society, more than 76,000 new cases of malignant melanoma will be diagnosed in the United States this year. Sadly, one American dies nearly every hour of melanoma. And too much exposure can also lead to premature wrinkles and eye damage too.

How to Protect Yourself

  • Wear protection! Make sure to generously apply sunscreen and reapply after swimming, sweating and about every two hours.
  • Confused about what type of sunscreen to use? Check out these helpful guidelines.
  • The bottom line on Buying Sunscreen from Consumer Reports.
  • Stay in the shade if at all possible, especially between 10:00 A.M. and 4:00 P.M. when the sun’s UV rays are the strongest.
  • You can burn even on a cloudy day. In fact, some of the worst sunburns occur on a hazy or cloudy day.
  • Cover up – wear sun-protective clothing including a hat and sunglasses.
  • Don’t burn!
  • Before you head outside, check the UV Index in your neck of the woods!
  • The Common Signs of Skin Cancer – Be SunAware and learn the signs.

Celebrate Don’t Fry Day

Shannon sent me the heads up to share w/ you on the ‘Worsties’ and ‘Besties’ sunscreen protections for your skin.


[ California oil spill response is ominous for Arctic Ocean ]

Three days after a pipeline spilled 105,000 gallons of crude oil in balmy Southern California, the Associated Press reported that “bad” weather was slowing cleanup effo