Sustainability is about ecology, economy and equity.- Ralph Bicknese

Getting Closer to Nature with Union Bay Watch

putLarry Hubbell’s blog Union Bay Watch might be enough to make anyone feel like an avid bird watcher, even from the seat of their computer chair. A quick scroll through his photography seems to be the virtual equivalent of an in-depth birding trip. The dedication Hubbell shows to chronicling the stories of local wildlife is quite astounding, tracking different birds in the union bay area as they go through the different stages of their life, recognizing them by name as he takes his photos. Continue reading


The Walk Bike Ride Challenge

bikesThis cool thing is going on in Seattle through September 9th called the Walk Bike Ride Challenge. It’s a program organized by the City’s Department of Transportation that encourages people to seek alternative methods to getting where they need to be; basically, anything that isn’t driving somewhere by yourself. If you go from one place to another in a different way, you can sign up here, then start logging your trips and win one of the following prizes: Continue reading


The Secret Behind the ‘Stache: Lyft and Seattle Ride-Sharing

lyftSo recently I’ve been seeing cars around Seattle with pink mustaches on their grills, as I’m sure most Seattleites have. At first my spottings of the pink ‘stache were few and far between, and I thought I was just seeing the same car, haunting me with its distinctive facial hair. And then I saw this and realized that I had no need to worry about being stalked by someone with a hairy taste in automotive décor. The pink mustache isn’t limited to one vehicle, but is actually being placed on every car whose owner has been hired to be a driver for Lyft, a Seattle-based ride-share service that offers a unique and convenient experience to those in need of transpo. Continue reading

Sustainability & Film: Wendy and Lucy

wendyKelly Reichardt’s Wendy and Lucy focuses on a homeless woman (Wendy) and her dog (Lucy) as they get stuck in a struggling Oregon town on their way to Alaska. The film is truly a work of minimalism, featuring long sequences of nothing much happening as we follow Wendy (played with quiet power by Michelle Williams) around, and as someone with a tendency to space out, I’ll admit that the movie may demand a little extra effort from the viewer in terms of staying mentally “locked in” at all times. However, the effect of film’s minimalism is a strong one, creating a thick atmosphere of loneliness and emptiness that reflects what Wendy is feeling and seems true to what the homeless experience must be like. Continue reading

Strawberry Mood Boost

Hands Holding a Seedling and SoilImagine opening your medicine cabinet and finding a pile of dirt sitting peacefully next to your advil, hair gel, shaving cream, what have you. Now imagine that you find this to be completely normal, and you even take a pinch of it in your fingers and rub it on your arm at the start of every day. It seems doubtful that this will become a regular routine across the globe, but did you know that soil has a neuro-chemical effect on the brain similar to Prozac? I certainly didn’t. Apparently, soil contains a bacteria that activates brain cells into producing the brain chemical serotonin, a mood booster also stimulated by antidepressants. If you were thinking about breaking into gardening and/or food growing this summer, consider this some extra motivation. And if I might focus in on one delicious option, let’s talk strawberries. Continue reading

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Little Libraries and Communal Sustainability

librariesI was recently walking through Queen Anne when I spotted something rather extraordinary in the front lawn of the house to my left. Standing atop a wooden post was a white box with a clear door that opened to a small selection of books, nestled tightly inside, waiting for the right person to come along and choose them. The writing on the box made it clear that an honest person could do just that, so long as they had another book on them that they were willing to part with. The exterior of the book-house read:

Little Free Library

Take a book, leave a book Continue reading

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How Salmon Created Seattle


Good news everyone: it’s almost salmon season! And, even better, this summer a huge wave of  pink, or humpback, salmon is coming through the Puget Sound. This upcoming event got me thinking about salmon’s presence in our culture. Though this distinctive fish is nearing dangerously low levels today, it still continues to play an important role — one that it has kept for many, many years.

Salmon have played an important part in Seattle’s history since before recorded history. Fossil evidence shows that salmon have populated the waters of Washington State for over a million years. And, remarkably, they seem to have traveled in similar migration patterns to their contemporary descendants.

Salmon play significant roles in ancient mythologies from all around the world. Irish folklore tells of a Salmon of Wisdom who grants knowledge to those who eat him. Welsh mythology calls salmon the oldest and wisest animal in Britain; one carries two of King Arthur’s knights to rescue a child-prisoner. And Norse mythology tells of Loki transforming himself into a salmon to escape the other gods, until Thor catches him by the tail. Continue reading

Easy Summer Projects

2622523It’s become the big thing on sites like Pinterest to make bun holders out of socks and glitter lamps out of glowsticks. We thought we would take this up a notch and find some creative ways to reuse common trash items. You don’t even need a trip to the craft store!

  • Start seeds inside of a hollowed-out grapefruit half, or in eggshells for smaller seeds. The containers give the seedlings nutrients, and can be planted directly in the earth when the sprouts are strong enough.
  • Turn old magazines into envelopes. All it takes are your old issues, a pair of scissors, and some tape.
  • Punch patterned holes in old (and clean!) tin cans, tie strings at the top, and place candles inside for your own lantern.
  • Turn old shirts into scarves, headbands, pet beds, oven mitts — the list goes on and on.
  • Use old baking soda and vinegar to clean the house instead of chemical products keep socks with their mates.
  • Use bread tags to separate electronic cords, label keys, and tag stemmed glasses.

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Orca Whales

seattleOrcas_ON06_1.ashx_They are a distinctive animal, unlike any other form of marine mammal. In the past few decades, Orcas have become cultural icons for Seattle. We even named our bus passes and an entire island after them. Our identification with these whales likely stems from  how fascinating these creatures are, and how lucky our city is to see them regularly.

Seattle actually has two nearby Orca populations: a transient group that migrates between California and Alaska, and a resident population that remains year-round. The Southern Resident Community, the whales we see most often in the Puget Sound,  is made up of three pods: J, K, and L. And although marine biologists worry about their future survival, it’s no secret that Seattle is rightfully proud of our local pods’ beauty and power. Continue reading