Eco CornerBy Jake Reiner
Choices for Sustainable Lifestyles
Snow season is here. On the slopes, out in nature, fresh air and sunshine – it must be eco. But ski areas are actually not very green. Huge amounts of energy are required to run those lifts and heat the lodges. Chemicals used in snowmaking and run-off from parking lots poison local rivers, but sustainable options are available and starting to spread.
Aspen Resorts in Colorado is now purchasing 100 percent of its energy from wind farms. Their buildings are extra efficient, and they use biodiesel in all their snowcats. They also support environmental groups and are ISO 14001 Certified, a standard for companies to help organizations from negatively affecting the environment.
Falls Creek resort down in Australia is also powering its lifts with renewable energy. They established a plastic bag-free zone to reduce waste and also replant native vegetation on the mountain to offset global warming. Let’s hope the Japanese resorts take some lessons from these guys.
Conflict Free Stones
Bright shiny things sometimes have a dark and dirty story behind them. Too many of the diamonds circulating the world today are “blood diamonds,” also known as conflict diamonds. These stones come from environmentally destructive African mines, often worked by slaves and children.
Every time you buy one of these diamonds, you send money to fund dictators and warlords’ brutal campaigns in violence-stricken countries such as the Congo and Sierra Leone. But because of eco consumers such as you demanding an alternative, many companies are now offering “conflict free diamonds.”
These range from recycled stones from family heirlooms to community-based projects in Africa to sustainable mines in Canada and South America. So if you are getting ready to go down on one knee, or thinking about an early birthday present for yourself, be sure to tell the salesperson you’ll only buy certified “conflict-free” diamonds.
Hope she says, “Yes!”
Battery Free Lights
Bicycles are a great eco way to travel. Of course, you need a light if you ride at night, but a good eco-warrior eschews batteries, as they are full of toxic chemicals and difficult to recycle.
Luckily there are lights that generate their own power from the simple motion of your bike. The Reelight uses efficient LED lights. Magnets are attached to your spokes generating a friction-free charge as the wheel spins. And the latest innovation from Taiwan is a small wind generator that attaches to your handlebars.
Another shameless plug for my friends at Treehugger.com. This great Website bringing you everything “green” now has an online TV station, “dedicated to everything that has a modern aesthetic, yet is environmentally responsible.” So whether you are an expat missing the Discovery Channel or Japanese and wondering what goes on in the rest of the eco world, check it out.