“There is nothing in the world more beautiful than the forest clothed to its very hollows in snow. It is the still ecstasy of nature, wherein every spray, every glade of grass, every spire of reed, every intricacy of twig, is clad with radiance.”
– William Sharp
Despite the beauty of nature this time of year, many of us yearn for warmth, and of course with the New Year, come plans to get out and savor life with summer travel and adventure for 2016. If you’ve been following along with our blog, you may have seen our recent blog posts on taking baby steps toward sustainability. With that in mind, while we’re planning our travel to explore our beautiful world in 2016, let’s all get inspired to savor life with sustainable travel and ecotourism.
Sustainable travel and Eco-tourism are thrown around a lot lately, but I wonder how many people really understand the true meaning of eco-tourism. According to TIES (The International Ecotourism Society) Ecotourism is “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and involves interpretation and education.”1 That’s a pretty big responsibility, but we can all take baby steps toward ecotourism and really make a difference in the communities we visit with these inspiring green tours.
There are two really great companies dedicated to green travel, sustainable travel and ecotourism that I recent encountered. They offer fantastic opportunities to explore nature, support local residents, and travel with environmental responsibility in mind, while minimizing environmental impact and making a difference in the local community at the same time. Here are just a few of their offerings to explore our beautiful world with responsibility in mind.
Machu Picchu Trek with CrookedTrails.org– A bucket list trip for many, Machu Picchu has been exploited by large tour operators. This trip is different, as it utilizes local community members for housing and tour guides. On this trip, you will enjoy breathtaking vistas as you hike the Choquequirau Trail to Machu Picchu with local guides, support the local community in Cachora, and explore the rarely seen Inca ruins. Additionally, this tour operator offers Everest Base Camp Treks in Nepal, and outreach programs to help local communities rebuild after the Nepal earthquake of 2015, both of which are tax deductible trips.
Galapagos Bike Tour or Adventure Tour with www.galawiki.com– Another bucket list trip for many is exploring the Galapagos. Unfortunately, tourism has taken its toll on this beautiful area and its natural habitat as well. Luckily, Galawiki.com is striving to provide responsible travel experiences for those wishing to enjoy the natural beauty of the Galapagos with sustainability in mind. Their Galapagos tours employ local community members as proud tour guides and include accommodations that are family owned and operated. Additional destinations include New Zealand, providing an extraordinary bucket list opportunity to explore the rainforests, trek a glacier, bike the Te Araroa Track, hike the Kepler Track and kayak and snorkel in various natural habitats. Their tours are foot powered whenever possible, and most exploration is done by biking, hiking or kayaking.
So, as you can see, you can travel with responsibility in mind while savoring life and exploring the world! It takes a little research but the results will be astounding! Follow along on our social media channels for more links to sustainable travel an ecotourism in the next few weeks, as we encourage you to get out there and savor life responsibly!
I’m talking about resolving to reuse and recycle more in this brand new year, to take responsibility for our own impact on our earth and create brand new habits that will help preserve our fragile earth. It’s up to us…it’s our responsibility, and if we aren’t evolving and creating new, innovative ideas to protect and preserve our earth, no one will. It’s got to start with us…and it begins with the baby steps of reusing and recycling more for the good of our planet.
Clearly, we live in a disposable society today. Our cultural norms are simply not sustainable. We have become creatures of convenience and we are way too dependent disposable items today. Think about all of the plastics and disposable items you utilize every day. Disposable razors, plastic baggies, grocery bags, and water bottles are just a few of the items you can easily replace in your life. Here are some startling facts about disposable plastics:
If you think about it, it’s not that difficult to reduce or even eliminate your use of these items. If we all just resolve to recycle more and reduce our dependence on these disposable items, we can really make a difference for our earth. Let’s just start with these baby steps:
I’ll say it again…it’s a new year, and you have a brand new opportunity to take responsibility for your impact on our fragile earth by evolving your thoughts and habits. You can make a difference for our beautiful planet…it starts with baby steps and before you know it, you will become an agent for change as you inspire others with your efforts to preserve our planet for future generations.
At NewTree, we passionate about protecting and preserving our beautiful, fragile earth. We hope you will follow along as we continue to talk about environmental issues, our earth and its awe-inspiring beauty, and the many inspirational efforts to save her. We are proud of our own environmental initiatives and hope you will visit our website to learn more about our sustainability efforts to help protect and preserve our beautiful earth.
In an ideal world, we would all live sustainably, so we would replace the natural resources we consumed on a daily basis. Obviously, in our current society, this is not happening, but we can all take steps in the right direction to help our beautiful earth. It’s really not that difficult…we can all make efforts to reduce our carbon footprint and live more sustainably:
· We can carpool to work, take public transport, ride a bike whenever possible, or choose a hybrid vehicle.
· Recycling is so important, and if we can reduce our use of plastic, reuse containers, and recycle more we’ll be moving in the right direction.
· For our earth and ourselves, we should use natural cleaners in our homes rather than chemicals.
· We can get outdoors and grow a garden, participate in a farm-share or community garden.
· Turn off those lights and use energy efficient bulbs in your home. To encourage your kids, you can even make a game of it – see below!
If you’ve been following along with our blog, you may have come across our recent blog post “Promoting Environmental Awareness and Sustainability Through Eco-Gamification.” If you did, you saw how businesses are reducing energy consumption and promoting recycling efforts within their work environments through eco-gamification. Eco-Gamification is bringing a little friendly competition to environmentally sustainable practices.
With all of the Star Wars movie hype going on today, now is the perfect time to launch you own “Floor Wars” or “Room Wars” campaign within your home or business! Which floor of your business can reduce energy consumption and recycle the most? This could also translate to your home…give each child a recycling bin and see who has the most recyclables at the end of the week.
Buy From Businesses That Are Environmentally Responsible
Speaking from the heart, here at NewTree, we truly cherish our fragile earth and strive for environmental sustainability in all of our practices. Going back to 2007, all of our offices are carbon neutral. All of our company cars are hybrid. A lot of our staff prefer to ride their bikes everywhere! Our delicious organic products are fair trade certified by (FLO) Fairtrade International, an organization working to improve opportunities our small-scale farmers. We use vegetable-based, eco-friendly ink on our product packaging, which is a much more earth-friendly product than petroleum-based inks typically used. Our paper packaging is also Forest Stewardship Council certified, so you know that our papers are harvested from properly managed forests. Lastly, a portion of each sale goes to protect the rainforests of the Amazon.
At NewTree, we savor life daily and are passionate about our beautiful, fragile earth, We hope you will follow along as we continue to talk about our beautiful earth, its awe-inspiring beauty, and the many inspiring efforts to save her. We are proud of our own environmental initiatives and hope you will visit our website to learn more about our sustainability efforts to help protect and preserve our beautiful earth.]]>
With last month’s United Nations Climate Change Conference, climate change and our impact on the earth is on the minds of many. Everyone knows it’s time for us to take responsibility and create change to make a difference for our beautiful earth. It is our job as stewards of our earth to protect it and all of its beautiful, fragile ecosystems. If you’ve been following along with ourblog, hopefully you’ve read about a beautiful ecosystem that is at risk, the coastal dune lakes of Northwest Florida. These rare “Jewels of Florida’s Emerald Coast” are unique bodies of water nestled among the dunes near the coast, along a 26-mile stretch of Northwest Florida.
These unique ecosystems exist in very few places in the world, including Australia, New Zealand, Madagascar, and here in the United States, in Oregon, South Carolina, and Northwest Florida. The coastal dune lakes located in Northwest Florida are truly places of peace and natural beauty and are unique in the way they open up to the gulf. When heavy rain falls, the lakes burst through the sand dunes and exchange water with the gulf, creating a brackish environment. With varying salinity, the lakes can support both freshwater and saltwater marine life, creating a truly unique ecosystem.
When it comes to reveling in nature’s beauty and miraculous diversity, there is really no better place to do it than in this unique area. Walton County is the 6th most biodiverse spot in the U.S. due to in part to the existence of these rare coastal dune lakes and the unique ecosystem they foster.1 Flora and fauna unique to the area abound, providing endless opportunities to gaze upon nature’s beauty and participate in fun and restorative outdoor activities like bird watching, kayaking, hiking or just simply soaking up the awe-inspiring environment that surrounds you.
Of course with this abundance of natural beauty, comes development and tourism, which we all know can have a negative impact on fragile ecosystems. These rare, natural wonders are now in jeopardy due to booming construction and infrastructure changes. For example, one lake’s natural outfall was blocked due to improper bridge construction. When the waters of the lake were blocked from flowing out in their natural fashion, the lake became flooded and the impacts were significant: natural grasses died off, tree frogs lost their habitat, and the birds that nest in these grasses, lost their nests and offspring. Locals reported seeing the birds diving into the flooded grasses in a futile attempt to rescue their offspring.
In an effort to prevent this scenario from happening again and to protect the fragile and beautiful flora and fauna of the coastal dune lakes, residents who wanted to really make a difference began to organize. These passionate volunteers have made it it their responsibility to protect these lakes from further damage and educate the public about these true natural wonders of the earth.
With the help of the county and these residents, the Coastal Dune Lakes Advisory Board was formed wIth goals of protecting the environment and fragile ecosystem of the coastal dune lakes and preserving their natural beauty for future generations. The volunteer board members not only advocate for and advise the county on the protection of coastal dune lakes, but also conduct community outreach and education for both tourists and locals. This “citizen army” has helped the county focus on eco-tourism rather than allowing development to run rampant over nature as it has in surrounding areas, where once natural and beautiful coastal dune lakes have been converted into artificially colored, dammed up drainage ponds for development runoff.
We should all be appreciative for passionate groups like this taking responsibility for and protecting our fragile earth and the natural beauty it offers. Thankfully, with the help of this group that has chosen to make a difference for our earth, we are all able to reconnect with nature here, and restore and rejuvenate ourselves by exploring these natural wonders. Hopefully, with their continued passion and efforts, future generations will be able to do the same. Their efforts have recently been recognized in an award-winning eco-documentary, and they have put together a series of short videos highlighting the beauty of the area. These videos are not only informative, but they also beautifully capture the awe-inspiring nature of the area.
At NewTree, we are passionate about sustainability, conservation and preservation of our earth’s natural resources. For more information on the rare coastal dune lakes of Northwest Florida and the local environmental preservation efforts visit: http://www.coastaldunelakes.org/home.html
Image: The beautiful, natural outfall of Oyster Lake prior to bridge construction, which blocked the water’s natural flow.]]>
Eighty acres of city parkland is my backyard playground. My dogs remind me every day how important it is to take time out and enjoy all the newness that the day has to offer. The forest that surrounds me is loaded with Oak, Maple, Birch, Cedar, and Pine to name a few. I have my favorite trees that I visit or that tell a story. The 100 foot Cedar that stood strong for 150 years before a great strike of lightning took ¾ of the tree down. She refused to give in and stood for another 5 years with just her lower branches reaching out for sunlight. The locals cut up what fell and we placed them in a circle for a quiet sitting area. This last year she finally decided enough and her branches are now brown. I have special grove of Cedar trees that I fondly call “the three sisters”, and I cannot walk by without grabbing a branch and squeezing the needles and inhaling the sweetness.
I have walked these woods and travelled the same paths for 30 years. I remember climbing the dunes on the crisp winter day awaiting the birth of my son some 25 years ago. There are some that may think this would be boring and repetitive but a day does not go by that I don’t see something new. A buck with a full rack of horns staring back at me in the fall, and his offspring in the spring with freshly painted dots of newness. I have watched eagles and hawks take flight and walked with my eyes on the sky searching for the owl that just called out.
I can climb up to a spot that looks over the woods and on to the big lake. The carpet of the woods before the lake is in every season breathtaking. The bright, neon greens and grays in the spring, rusts, orange, red and gray in the fall. And now as winter is trying to take its grasp the trees wait to be adorned with the great white blanket that will cover them until spring.
There are times in the winter when the beauty is so breathtaking that is seems as if it is all a dream. Branches each adorned with snow and the sky so blue, the snowflakes become iridescent and reflect all the colors of the rainbow.
These woods have become my church, my respite and a place where I can become just another part of the landscape as the seasons change. I am renewed, calmed, and welcomed each day that I set foot on her carpet. I am privileged I am sure and grateful for every moment and the many gifts and lessons she has shared with me. A great spiritual teacher Ram Das has quoted the following and to me is particularly special in times like these.
“When you go out into the woods and you look at trees, you see all these different trees. And some of them are bent, and some of them are straight, and some of them are evergreens, and some of them are whatever. And you look at the tree and you allow it. You appreciate it. You see why it is the way it is. You sort of understand that it didn’t get enough light, and so it turned that way. And you don’t get all emotional about it. You just allow it. You appreciate the tree. The minute you get near humans, you lose all that. And you are constantly saying ‘You’re too this, or I’m too this.’ That judging mind comes in. And so I practice turning people into trees. Which means appreciating them just the way they are.”
Ram Dass (via aurelle)
– Written by Heather Knight NEWTREE]]>
There is a unique group of locals living along the small coastal communities in South Walton County, that have been so inspired by their surroundings that they have created a volunteer organization to help preserve and protect an endangered species whose habitat and nesting grounds are the beautiful waters and beaches that surround them. These people are passionate about helping locals and visitors alike live in harmony with the wildlife that abounds in this beautiful environment. In fact, they are so passionate, these volunteers work tirelessly through all hours of the day and night to make a difference with their efforts to protect and preserve endangered sea turtles.
According to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, “All sea turtles found in U.S. waters are listed under the Endangered Species Act.”1 Since sea turtles are protected under this Act, these local volunteers must undergo several hours of training and become permitted to handle and help protect these beautiful creatures. These volunteers spend countless hours tirelessly combing the beaches, staking out and protecting nesting sites, saving injured turtles or disturbed nests and helping hatchlings make their journey to the ocean as safely as possible. The name of the group is SWTW, or South Walton Turtle Watch, a volunteer organization that patrols the beaches of Northwest Florida helping to locate and protect endangered sea turtle nests during the nesting season.
There are lots of things out there fighting against the endangered sea turtles and these volunteers’ efforts to save them: human and animal interference, pollution, tar and oil spills, artificial lighting and seawalls, and impact from uninformed tourists such as beach furniture, holes and sand castles. A recent example of how we humans can negatively impact these beautiful creatures was recently a featured story on the southwaltonturtlewatch.org site. A SWTW volunteer found a nesting loggerhead trapped in a huge hole left in the sand by a beachgoer. Had it not been for the patrolling efforts of one of the SWTW volunteers this mother would have surely died, as she appeared to be lifeless upon initial approach. With the help of a team of volunteers, the loggerhead was released from the hole, revived and helped to return to the ocean, bringing cheers and celebration to the bystanders gathered to witness these volunteers make a difference. The simple message from the SWTW: Awareness…please take everything you brought to the beach back with you, fill holes, and flatten sand structures upon your departure from the beach. Even visitors can make a difference!2
At Newtree, we are passionate about our earth and all of nature’s beautiful creatures. For more information on the great volunteer efforts of SWTW in Northwest Florida, I urge you to follow their Facebook page, or donate online to help them continue their efforts to make a difference for these fantastic creatures.
“For most of the wild things on Earth, the future must depend upon the conscience of mankind.”
– Dr. Archie Carr, father of modern marine turtle biology and conservation
Let’s face it…eco, green and sustainability are the new earth-friendly buzzwords du jour. Citizens and corporations alike are clamoring to promote themselves as friends of the earth and environment more than ever before. It makes sense that the practice of Greenwashing would have been around for as long as green has been popular. So what is greenwashing anyway? According to Dictionary.com greenwashing is “a superficial or insincere display of concern for the environment that is shown by an organization.” Clearly, there have been cases of corporations, jumping on the environmentally-friendly bandwagon that have mislead the public…putting forth a corporate image of environmentally-friendly sustainable practices when it was really just a marketing ploy, or cover for environmentally irresponsible practices.
Let’s step back though, and take a fresh perspective on greenwashing and how it might actually be good for our earth.
Today, responsible corporations must promote sustainability, protect and preserve the environment by reducing carbon footprint and environmental impact, further recycling efforts, and let’s not forget…turn a profit. As corporations struggle to fit into this new role of environmental responsibility, I guess you could say, although mistakes have been, at least they are taking baby steps toward a better future for our earth. For example:
The Coca Cola Company, which has been accused of greenwashing in the past, formed a unique partnership back in 2007 with non-profit World Wildlife Fund. According to The Washington Post this partnership has raised $66 million for freshwater initiatives.1 Additionally, The Arctic Home campaign launched by the same partnership helped raise awareness for global warming and species preservation, and raised over $3 million in donations in its first two years for WWF’s work on this initiative.2 So, in the end…Coca Cola uses this partnership to increase sales, massive numbers of consumers are made more aware of the effects of global warming, and millions of dollars are given by a corporation to fund wildlife and water conservation efforts. Sounds like a pretty good partnership for conservation efforts and consumer awareness.
Today, there are watchdog groups, reporters, and environmental groups everywhere that are on the lookout for greenwashing. Also, at this age of totally transparent digital world, every single consumers becomes an alert observer and can obtain the green truth in few seconds. So, someone’s watching you…and watching you well. You’d have to be an evil genius today to get away with greenwashing and not be called out. The more that corporations are called out for “less than green” initiatives, the more genuine efforts they’ll have to take to become friendlier toward our earth, nature and the environment, which is good for all of us.
I know that some may disagree with any defending of corporations these days, but the more sustainability, green-initiatives, and eco-friendly practices are put into place at corporations and in front of their consumers, the more awareness and benefits we bring to our fragile earth.
And keep in mind, is 100% green even achievable or can it exist? Recently, I went to a Sustainable Planet Event where they were advertising an iconic electric car. This was great, truly engaged people and it seems to improve our human carbon footprint. The attendees were stunned but I honestly struggled: was I the only guy in the room who truly walked his talk, arriving by bike, not even owning a personal car? Probably so. But as far as I’m concerned, if we’re making progress for our beautiful planet, we’re on the right track and tomorrow we’ll work on inspiring people to take their bike everywhere.
For more information on WWF, or if you’re interested in adopting a species for your classroom or family, check out the WWF.org wildlife adoptions page! At Newtree, we are passionate about Nature and Sustainability, and hope you will follow along, and like our Facebook page, as we discuss our fragile earth and try to raise awareness. We are proud of our own environmental initiatives and hope you will visit our website to learn more about our sustainability efforts to help preserve, protect and preserve our beautiful earth.
—- Benoît de Bruyn, CEO
Slow down and Unplug
Multi tasking is a necessity, but it should stop when the meal is served. Whenever possible, mealtime should be spent at the table, together, reflecting on the bounty of nature in front of you and how it will provide your body everything it needs to efficiently complete its multitude of tasks.
Turn off your TV, and silence those smartphones during mealtime. Mindful eating should be done in silent reflection when possible, but let’s face it, that will rarely happen in a busy family household. Instead of requesting silence for the entire meal, how about a few moments of silent reflection, followed up with a discussion surrounding the source of and the bounty of your meal. Where did the ingredients come from and how will they nourish your body?
Encourage your family to savor each bite with each and every sense. As you chew your food slowly and mindfully, discuss what flavors, smells and textures you are experiencing and which ones you enjoy the most? These are all great concepts to discuss with your family to help them savor the experience and appreciate the bounty of nature.
Take time to appreciate the source
Try to buy local produce whenever possible. Consider heading out to the local farmer’s market with your kids next weekend. Discuss eco-friendly growing methods like vertical farming, and the work that goes into the crops prior to and after harvest. If you have the space, consider a small garden. There is nothing more rewarding for kids than to plant, grow and eat their own vegetables…what an great way to inspire awe of nature in your kids.
If you can’t grow it yourself, look for alternatives like Community Sustained Agriculture (CSA) your area. CSAs are basically farmers offering a portion of their crops to the local population. When you “buy in” you will get a box of seasonal produce each week. CSA farmers often open their farms to the families they serve, which is a great way to let your kids touch, taste and smell farm fresh produce and show them all the effort that goes into the foods they are eating on a weekly basis.
Make it yourself if possible
While preparing every meal from scratch may seem an unattainable goal for some, preparing your food gives you much more control over what is going into your body and can give you the chance to discuss healthy choices with your family. Your meals don’t have to be complicated…for some healthy, easy ideas, check Pinterest or recipe sites for inspiration. Have your family join you in the kitchen for meal prep so they have a greater appreciation of the love and energy that go into every bite they take.
Savor the flavors
We cannot resolve to become mindful eaters overnight, but as we approach the holiday season, we can certainly take baby steps along the way to become more mindful eaters. Savor your favorite treat like our Newtree dark chocolate bar in a more mindful way, and really dive in wholeheartedly to savor the full experience.
If you encourage your family to eat more mindfully, you will all reap the rewards of this fresh perspective with a renewed enjoyment of food, and refreshing ability to savor more. In the end, you’ll all develop healthy habits and gain a greater appreciation of nature and its bounty. Let’s give it a try…who’s with me?]]>
AMP Capital is an investment house with a head office located in Sydney, Australia. As a part of their ongoing “Green Tomorrow” initiative to raise environmental awareness throughout the company, the company launched the “Floor Wars” campaign as an inter-office competition to reduce energy consumption and improve waste recycling.
The Game: Over a four month period, the company awarded points for the floor with the highest reduction in energy consumption each month, and similarly, for the floor with the highest amount of recycling each month.
The Goals: The goals of the competition were to encourage broad-based behavior change among employees, to promote sustainability by reducing energy consumption and to increase recycling efforts among employees.
The Result: Over the length of the four-month competition, energy use was reduced by 15 percent, recycling rates increase by almost 70 percent and, diversion from landfill and paper use was reduced by 20%
According to AMP Capital, these results were mostly maintained after the end of the campaign, proving that eco-gamification is not only a fun, eco-friendly competition for employees, but additionally, it is a vehicle for bringing real, lasting behavior change to promote sustainability and positively impact the environment. As employee awareness increased, passion was ignited and further sustainability efforts emerged, including:
Back in the states, Google is jumping aboard the eco-gamification bandwagon with an internal competition entitled “Sustainable Pursuit.” This program also awards points to teams in different locations around the world based on their office’s green performance. Google uses their own apps to track performance based on different green initiatives including green cleaning, water efficiency and innovative waste management strategies.
By engaging employees with eco-gamification, corporations are not only improving sustainability by cutting costs and reducing environmental impact, but also raising awareness and instilling passion in their employees to promote positive environmental change that is good for our earth.
At NewTree, we are passionate about our beautiful earth, and hope you will follow along as we continue to raise awareness of environmentally impactful initiatives like these. We are proud of our own environmental initiatives and hope you will visit our website to learn more about our sustainability efforts to help preserve, protect and preserve our beautiful earth.
It breathes clean air, provides itself with its own antibacterial protection and replaces itself without replanting. Bamboo is actually a grass and grows on every continent except Antarctica. It is stronger than steel and can grow up to 12 inches a day.
This beautiful plant provides an incredible balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. Because it grows so fast and provides a crucial balance of clean air to our environment, it is the perfect sustainable alternative to the traditional forest harvesting.
I wanted to learn more so I looked into other green ideas of how bamboo is used and was fascinated to learn about the Green School in Bali. The Green School is doing their part to change the world by offering an education to children that teaches a natural and holistic curriculum to encourage them to fight for our future on this planet. Everything at this school has been built from bamboo, even the desks and chairs. They have fantastic “outside the box” ideas such as classrooms without walls. The most exciting thing about The Green School is that they want the model to be duplicated. This is the kind of thinking that will change our world and inspire new ideas; all they ask is that we let our environment inform our decisions and remember that our grandchildren will be influenced by our actions. Pioneering new methods and partnering together to change how we do things is what inspires all of us at Newtree.
Virtually anything can be made with bamboo: homes, clothing and even food. At our cafés in San Francisco we have created our own urban oasis showcasing bamboo (pictured is a bamboo canopy at one of our cafés). It creates an atmosphere of natural beauty and showcases our partnership with Mother Nature.
The answers are all around us – we just have to look past what we are all so used to doing. Just like anything the more it gets used the more people will understand the benefits. I am a gardener and I have the perfect spot to plant a variety of Bamboo next spring.
We invite you to plant bamboo, purchase bamboo clothing and textiles and even create something beautiful using this amazing plant. If any of our followers out there are educators, please look into the Green School – how inspiring it would be if we could have more of these options for our young people.
Under our canopy you’ll discover shared values of social responsibility, environmental sustainability, and community development. It’s part of our mission to Savor Life each day, and give back to the world we treasure.
– Written by Heather Knight (Newtree Michigan Warehouse Manager)]]>