Fair Trade – Is it Greener?

OK, let’s talk about Fair Trade products. If you’re unfamiliar with the term Fair Trade, it is a label given to products that are responsibly produced. Typically these products are produced outside the United States, and have to comply with specific labor and environmental regulations in order to qualify.

For the majority of people, purchasing fair trade products is a matter of social justice. When purchasing, you can be certain that the product was produced by workers earning a fair wage, in a favorable working environment. This means that whatever you buy was NOT produced in a Malaysian sweatshop, or assembled by young children earning $1 a day, or any of the other abysmal conditions facing so many foreign workers.

So obviously, purchasing certified Fair Trade products is good for the world. However, just because something is Fair Trade does not mean that it is necessarily greener.

Yes, products do have to pass environmental regulations set by the Fairtrade Labeling Organizations International, but those regulations can be vague. Often times, the production of fair trade products is greener than the production of other products (thanks to the regulations). But because Fair Trade products by nature are imported, there is often a hefty environmental cost associated with the transportation of those goods.

So while, yes, your Fair Trade Colombian coffee is great for the workers who picked and roasted the coffee beans, it’s not necessarily a boost for the environment.

Does that mean that you shouldn’t buy them? Of course not. It’s important to support human labor rights but buying fair trade goods. But when you do, keep in mind that the work of saving the planet is still left to do.

For example, all of the things that have to be shipped great distance anyway (like coffee, chocolate, etc.) should be bought under the Fair Trade Label – that way you aren’t adding any environmental impact, but still get the benefits. For all other goods (like produce, meats, and cheeses) you should buy organic and local. The odds are that your smaller, local vendor has pretty good labor standards, and reduces environmental impact by reducing the amount of transportation needed. In case you need a reminder on why to buy local, check out our previous post.


5 Eco-Friendly Holi-dates

Now that the semester is winding down, you’ve finally got some time to ask out that classmate that you’ve been eyeballing over the past three months. I know, I know, you’ve got a crippling fear of rejection and/or you’re worried that he/she won’t like you. So instead of asking your crush out, you’ve put it off, and put it off by telling yourself that you’re too busy, or that you really need to focus on school right now.

But guess what? The time is now. And once you’ve gotten the courage to ask this person out, you don’t want to botch the whole thing by planning a terrible date. We don’t want that either.

And now, thanks to your favorite earth-friendly blog, it doesn’t have to happen. Why? Because we’ve put together 5 awesome date ideas that you (our favorite eco-warrior) and your date are sure to enjoy. Regardless of whether he/she is into saving the planet too.

1. Take a trip to the Atlanta Botanical Gardens

If walking around at night through some of the most beautiful gardens in Georgia, in awe if thousands of brilliantly shining LEDs, doesn’t spell romance, then what does? It’s packed with those air-purifying trees, of course, AND it’s MARTA-accessible, which makes for a great air-friendly trek to romance. Not to mention it will probably be a bit cold, giving you a convenient excuse to snuggle up against your date. Tickets range from $17-20, so it’s not super cheap, but definitely worth the cash.

2. Ice skating in Centennial Olympic Park

There aren’t a whole lot of dates more fun (or potentially humiliating) than going ice skating. For the low price of $10 each, you can get an hour and a half of rink time and skate rental. Remember to dress warm and be prepared to fall. Added bonus: if you go at night, you can take in the Christmas lights around Centennial Olympic Park. Keep in mind that it’s an outdoor rink, so the ice doesn’t get zambonied every couple of hours (read: it can get rough).

3. Stone 
Mountain Park

There is a ton of stuff to do at Stone Mountain Park. You and your date can hike the mountain, visit Snow Mountain, walk the trails, or experience any number of the other attractions. We suggest a romantic mountain-top picnic sometime near sunset. You’ll just have to bust it down the mountain before dark.

4. Bike to your favorite park.

Bring your date to your favorite park. Fill up a backpack or two with a nice picnic, hop on your bikes, and go on a nice bike ride. (We don’t have to remind you why biking is eco-friendly, do we?) It’s a great way to get some exercise and experience nature together. If you both don’t have a bike, you could always walk. That’s a great opportunity to get to know each other even better. Once you get to the park, scope out a good picnic spot and have a nice meal together. Your date wants to know what you’re interested in, so why not bring them to one of your favorite places?

5. Take a trip to your local farmer’s market.

The Farmer’s Market is an incredibly cool place. They’ve got all kinds of locally grown produce, and a huge variety of responsibly produced goods. And remember: locally grown food is good for the air–because it doesn’t have to burn a bunch of gas traveling in from the farm. Take a trip (clean commuting, of course) to your local farmer’s market with your date, and bring back some supplies to make a delicious, home cooked meal. This is a great way to work together to create something that you both will enjoy and be proud of creating. Not to mention it’s a great chance to impress your date with your killer cooking (or recipe following) skills. I highly suggest the Dekalb Farmer’s Market because it’s MARTA accessible. But I hear great things about the Buford Highway Market, and there are tons of smaller, local markets to be found with a quick Google search.

So there you have it: 5 ways to totally impress that guy/girl that you’ve been daydreaming about all semester long. Now all you’ve got to do is go and ask them out!


Battling the Cold on Your Bike

Winter is coming. Your clean commute is looking more and more menacing. Soon you will face a tough decision: to push on with your clean commute, suffering through the cold in the name of walking, cycling, or jogging – OR – to give up. To let the elements win, and abandon your environmental quest to keep our air clean, just for the sake of warmth and ease. Winter is coming, and you have a decision to make.

I know, you are a resilient group of tree-huggers who would never give up your hard-won (and air-friendly) clean commutes. However, in case surrendering to the elements has crossed your mind, we’ve packed some reinforcements.

It’s not that serious.

All drama aside, biking in winter is hard. As a matter of fact, doing pretty much anything outdoors in winter is hard. But pedaling uphill, into the wind on a particularly brisk day can be enough to make even the toughest clean commuter call it quits. So we at OnAir have put together a few tips to keep your body warm and your commitment strong enough to last through the winter.

First off, you need a good, warm wind-stopping jacket. Personally, I recommend the Mountain Hardwear Alchemy Jacket. This thing is the bomb. It’s light-weight, super warm, and most importantly it pushes away wind harder than the prom queen rejects the captain of the chess club. It’s a bit pricey, though, so check out some of the other Mountain Hardwear coats with the same basic functions.

All that toasty warmth won’t mean squat, though, if you can’t feel your fingers after 5 minutes. That’s why you need gloves. No, not “tough-guy biker” gloves, but some biking gloves that are actually useful (and fashionable). For that, I suggest these awesome Novara Stratos bike gloves. They not only will help you train your Star Trek “live long and prosper” sign, but they’ll keep your hands pretty toasty. They’ve got a padded palm for grip and cushioning against those pesky Atlanta potholes, and even have fleece thumb pads for wiping of sweat (or more likely snot…gross.)

Wearing your best short-shorts in the middle of January is probably your best bet to get pneumonia. So while you may want to show off those dynamite legs you’ve developed from biking everywhere, it’s probably best to keep them covered when it’s cold. Some simple running tights will do the trick. But if your legs are easily chilly, or you’ve got some extra cash, I highly recommend the Columbia Midweight Tights with Omniheat. They are lightweight and super warm, not to mention contour tightly to your legs so you can still show off your killer muscles.

If pants aren’t your thing, and you really need to show some skin, you could always give DZ Nuts leg cream a try. It keeps your legs warm for hours, and keeps you lookin’ good too.

Keeping your face warm is important too. For this, facial hair is awesome. Now I know how hard you worked to grow it out for Movember, but sometimes that’s just not enough. So if you can’t grow a beard for any reason (ladies?), you can still have something cool to keep your face warm. The Beard Cap – it keeps your head and your face warm at the same time. It’s probably the only beard that you can put on and off whenever you want.

But let’s be real, folks. We live in Georgia where the weather never really gets that cold. So you really don’t need all of this fancy stuff. Yes, it keeps you super toasty, and looking good, but the same outcome can be achieved without making big purchases. Just make sure to dress appropriately and in layers when it gets really cold. You can always add your own flair to your riding outfit. Just find something that reflects your style and keeps you warm simultaneously.

6 Insanely Awesome Bikes

Clean commuting. It’s the cat’s pajamas.

We know you’ve all been hustling to run errands, filling your cars to max seating capacity, and pedaling your hearts out all for the sake of clean air. We appreciate that, we really do (and so do your lungs).

As a thank you to you pedal-pushers and other clean commuters, we’ve put together a list of dreamy bikes that we know you’d love to get your hands on. Some of them are just concepts, but others are fully functional. You could even buy one…if you had Bruce Wayne’s credit card.

Speaking of Bruce Wayne, he – er… Batman – would probably love this ride: The Stealth Bomber. This electric bike would look great speeding down the streets ofGotham after the Joker. But in all seriousness, this bike is more than a fictitious prop. The electric cycle tops out at 50mph off of the battery, and can go even faster when you start pedaling.

You’re drooling. Stop it. We know the bike is beautiful, but it’s not polite to stare. The Aston Martin One-77 (why yes, they do make luxury sports cars) is a bicycle fit for James Bond. It’s considered one of the most high-tech bikes on the market featuring a high-tech computer system, complex array of sensors, and a carbon fiber frame to keep the weight down. So start saving—just $39,000 and it’s yours. (You’d better get an excellent U-lock.)

No chain? No problem. The CERV (continually ergonomic race vehicle) concept bike has no chain, and changes shape as you ride for the most aerodynamic position. Not to mention, it doesn’t have a front fork. Look out the CERV at the Tour de France in the next few years.

The Fliz Bike is hardly a bike at all. It’s more like something out of the Flintstones (in terms of foot-power, not rudimentary design.) The only components that this baby has in common with your everyday bike are wheels and handlebars. No chain, no seat, no pedals. Just get a running start and glide your way to wherever you’re headed. Good luck getting uphill, though.

The Audi Wörthersee e-bike is another sleek and stylish electric bike. Looks pretty sweet, but where do you sit?

The sleek, artistically crafted Axalko wooden bicycle is carved from Spanish ash wood. It’s light weight, super speedy, and looks great too. Just don’t go riding through any fires.

Let’s just get one thing straight. Biking is cool. It doesn’t matter if your cruising in a tricked-out, swagtastic, speed machine, or if you’ve dusted off your dad’s old 10-speed from the 80’s. Either way, you’re keeping our air clean, and lookin’ great doing it.

Runnin’, Runnin’ and Runnin’, Runnin’

Over the past few months we’ve been doing our best to spread the clean air message. For all of you who have ditched your gas-guzzling cars for a chance to ride your bike, walk, skate, or carpool – we applaud you.

But we want to take things way back, to a time before the wheel. Before Fred Flinstone’s eco-friendly bedrock cruiser. What’s the healthiest, most eco-friendly way to get around? Foot power. We humans have been running for thousands of years.

Check out some of our favorite bi-pedal movie scenes.

Run, Forrest, Run – The iconic phrase that haunts all middle school track athletes. In this classic, Forrest Gump runs back and forth across the country in 3 years.

Rocky – He’s got the eye of the tiger, and he’s training hard for his big fight. In this scene, Rocky isn’t just running to get from Point A to Point B. He’s running to get to victory.

Chariots of Fire – These boys are going for a good old fashioned beach run in the opening credits of this movie. Nothing like a workout in slow motion.

Casino Royale –James Bond chases down a bomb-maker, parkour style, through a village in Madagascar. Epic

Indiana Jones – Sometimes we have to clean-commute ourselves right out of the path of those gargantuan boulders.

The Matrix – Trinity makes leaps and bounds, over buildings and through windows, in her escape from the evil agents.

Men in Black – NYPD all-star (played by Will Smith) chases down a super-speedy alien criminal.

Run Lola Run – It’s pretty much a whole movie about running…

Terminator 2 – Why are the bad guys always so fast? And persistent!

The Bourne Supremacy – Jason Bourne hits the beach for a morning workout, meanwhile his girlfriend finds out his secrets:

What are your favorites? Share them in the comments (and earn aircreds).

Saving the Planet: One Tasty Bite at a Time.

Thanksgiving is coming up, and you know what that means: the season of face-stuffing is about to begin. Between Thanksgiving, various holiday parties, and New Year’s celebrations, the American social scene centers around one thing: food.

Yeah I know, the holidays are supposed to be about family and fellowship. We all say that, but I know it’s really about the tasty, tasty treats that you only get to eat this time of year.

Now as you can imagine all those trips to and from the store aren’t great for our air or the environment. Think about all the exhaust fumes that your car pumps into the air each time you go to and from the store. Just remember that every mile is about 1 pound of air pollution. So what can green choices can we make to help?

Green: Bike or walk to the store.

Riding your bike is a great way to cut the everyday air pollution that comes from short trips. It’s definitely a great way to start solving the problem. Not to mention you can exercise while running errands. What a time saver!

Greener: Buy local.

Buying foods from the supermarket is super-convenient, but it can be bad news for the earth. Just think about all the energy (and air pollution) it takes to ship the things you buy to the supermarket. Say you live here in Georgia and buy avocados from California. That’s 2,456 miles away. And when you consider that every mile driven puts one pound of pollution into the air, we’re talking about almost 2.5 tons of air pollution for one avocado truck. Seriously?

So how can you enjoy your tasty holiday foods (and everyday foods), and still cut air pollution at the same time? Well, it’s really pretty simple – the idea is to buy local.

You can cut out the thousands of miles, and tons of air pollution by making a trip to your local farmer’s market. They bring in local, organic foods that are way fresher (didn’t spend a week on a truck), taste even better, and are from local businesses near you. Check out the Dekalb County Farmer’s Market, that place is incredible.

Greenest: Grow your own.

Ready to really go the extra mile? Let’s talk about having a garden at home. Check out our Pinterest board for ideas.

Believe it or not, growing your own veggies is easier than you think. Just imagine walking into the back yard to grab dinner. You’ve not only cut out nearly all environmental costs, but you’re probably saving lots of money—while eating better quality food.

Super-Ridiculously Green: Go vegetarian.

This one might not be so popular. But hear us out.

Environmentalists have started spreading the word that going vegetarian or vegan packs an even bigger punch in the fight for clean air. When you don’t have to transport thousands of livestock for food, you cut out a good chunk of transportation-related pollution. Also, let’s face it—that all-bacon diet is probably not the healthiest decision you’ve ever made.

And think about this: we’re not talking all-or-nothing here. A lot can be changed just by becoming a sometimes vegetarian. Some research shows that cutting out meat even one day a week can make some pretty dramatic changes to air pollution AND health.

If you’re worried about missing out on all the tasty holiday foods, here’s a solution for that problem.

Even if you always buy local, or grow your own produce, there are still some things you have to get from the store. That’s ok—sometimes you just have to get what you need. Just remember the more local products you buy, the better off our air is!

For a full breakdown of the benefits and costs of buying local or international foods, check out this infographic.

Flashmob Instant Crosswalk

We all know how bad Atlanta traffic is, but the truth is that it’s even worse in Europe. Traffic is so bad, and gas is so expensive, that most Europeans rely on an awesome subway system or their bicycles to get around.

In the ATL, our subway system is less than stellar, and we don’t have many bike lanes, so clean commuting can be a challenge. It only gets harder if you live in the suburbs – with a lack of sidewalks and crosswalks, pedestrians have a tough go of it most of the time.

Getting across the street is no easy feat – it seems more like a real-life version of Frogger on super-hard mode.

In most of the world’s big cities, pedestrians are supposed to have the right-of way—but sometimes it just doesn’t work out that way. Especially in Paris. So this French theatre action group, XTNT, decided to take a stand (or a walk) for their pedestrian rights.

The stunt baffled motorists unaccustomed to stopping for pedestrians, and led tons of foot-traffic to cross one of Paris’ busiest intersections without harm.

5 Freaky Facts About the Environment

In the spirit of Halloween, I’ve dug up some spooky natural phenomena for you to consider while you rot you teeth out with hard-earned candy. Maybe “spooky” isn’t the best word, but these are still pretty fascinating–and aren’t likely to keep you up at night.

1. Froggy Fossils

There are over 90 cases of amphibians being found alive, yet totally encased in coal or stone geodes. These rocks are thousands of years old–are the frogs also that old? Typically, an extremely pale frog is found in a pool of mucous within the rock. When the rock is opened, and oxygen gets in, the toads come to life! In most cases it only survives for 24-72 hours before it dies. In some cases, if it gets to a pond immediately it can survive. I don’t know about you, but thousand-year-old frogs and toads are pretty freaky.

2. The Everlasting Storm

Off the coast of Venezuela, there is a lightning storm that never ends. Well…not never, exactly, but the phenomenon is a cloud-to-cloud lightning that forms a voltage arc more than five kilometers high during 140 to 160 nights a year, 10 hours a night, and as many as 280 times an hour. That’s a lot of lightning. The storm is also known as the Maracaibo Beacon, because sailors have used its light to navigate for ages.

3. The Amazonian Wave

Twice a year, the Atlantic Ocean rolls into the mouth of the Amazon river in Brazil, creating the longest wave in the world. The phenomenon is known as Pororoca, and generates waves as tall as 12 feet that can last for a half hour. The wave is so loud that it can be heard up to 30 minutes away, and it destroys nearly everything in its path – trees, buildings, animals and the like. Despite the risk, adventure surfers flock to the Amazon to surf the wave. The record time spent on the wave is 37 minutes, for a total of 12.5 miles.

4. The Rain of Fish

Yes. This really happens. Every year in Honduras, between May and July, there is a massive storm that leaves the streets riddled with fish. The people of Honduras actually consider this a miracle, and scoop up the fish to cook and eat. Scientists have hypothesized that whirlwinds are responsible, in that they swirl up water and everything in it, carrying it over land and leaving a street full of scaled, floppy, tasty creatures. Legend has it that this has been happening for over a century, ever since a Catholic priest (Jose Manuel Subirana) asked for a miracle to solve the nation’s poverty.

5. The Bloop

It’s the world’s loudest sound recorded underwater–and no one knows where it came from. This sound was first recorded in 1997, 1500 miles off the coast of Chile, and could be heard from over 3,000 miles away.The sound lasted for just over a minute and has not been detected since. It should be pointed out now that the NOAA has checked with the Navy and other groups to rule out human-made sources in this and the rest of these cases. What could it have been? Aliens? Foreign military demonstration? Freakishly huge animal? No one knows.



Eco-Friendly Halloween Costume Ideas

Halloween is coming up, and if you haven’t started thinking about your costume, you probably should. Dressing up for Halloween is an age-old tradition that will be a part of your life for many years (as it should be).

What’s that? You don’t enjoy dressing up? Halloween costumes are too expensive, you say? Nonsense.

Yes, we agree that purchasing pre-fab Halloween costumes is lame. It’s over-priced and extremely wasteful. But what if instead you used your creativity to create a costume by upcycling household items and old clothes?

Now all that it takes is an idea, and a little bit of planning, and you can come up with an awesome costume for $10-$20, no problem.

Need some inspiration? Don’t worry, we’ve rounded up a few awesome homemade Halloween costumes from around the internet (via The Daily Green and Ecouterre).

The Cardboard Crocodile

MATERIALS:  cardboard, tape, and butcher paper

Sweet Treats

MATERIALS: recycled tights, leggings, laundry basket, bits of fabric.

The Recycled Samurai

MATERIALS: Rubbermaid 32-gallon garbage cans, rubber stoppers.

The Bat

MATERIALS: umbrella, hooded zippered sweatshirt, needle and thread, pins, pliers, scissors, bolt cutters or tin snips.

Lego Man

MATERIALS: Styrofoam, paint, cardboard.

Etch-A-Sketch – Here is a creative, functional, yet complicated costume idea!

MATERIALS: Plywood, metal rods, pulleys, cloth, cable wire, hot glue, plexiglass, nuts, bolts, small wheels.

Plastic Armor Suit

MATERIALS: every empty plastic container you can find.

What cool, eco-friendly Halloween costume will you create? Share your costume ideas with us in the comments!

Movie Scenes – Bicycle Edition

Here at On Air, we love a good movie almost as much as we love clean air and clean commuting. And we thought it was only right to follow up our last post about public transit in the movies with a list of our favorite bicycle movie scenes.

So, there are a lot of bike movies that are way before your time (before my time, even). But that doesn’t mean they’re not worth a watch. We’ve come up with a list of scenes from movies that you will actually recognize—but first, the classics:

#1: Better Off Dead (1985) – in this scene, a determined paper boy rides down John Cusack, in pursuit of his rightfully earned $2. (Hey, that was kind of a lot of money in 1985.) (Also, don’t try this stuff at home.)

#2 The Great Muppet Caper (1981) – Who doesn’t love the Muppets? We’ve got to give clean air props to Kermit and Piggy, who ride their bikes through the park in this classic scene:

#3 E. T. the Extra Terrestrial (1982) – Even if it’s over than 10 years older than you are, you have to have seen E.T. This classic film has one of the most iconic bike scenes of all time!

#4 Napoleon Dynamite (2004) – Gosh! We sure do love Napoleon, especially when he takes Pedro’s bike for a spin. Lucky!

#5 127 Hours (2010) – This movie has a killer mountain biking scene. Unfortunately, it’s not on Youtube, but we thought it deserved a mention anyway. Here’s a taste from the trailer.

#6 Premium Rush (2012) – This is an entire movie about biking! Again, YouTube hasn’t  got a hold of specific scenes yet, but the trailer you will show you just how much action-cycling there really is.

#7 Transporter 3 (2008) – This is probably my favorite scene of the bunch. Action star Jason Statham chases down his stolen car from a bicycle, and puts a bike-fu hurt on the bad guy.

So there you have it, a few of our favorite biking scenes from the big screen. Who did we miss? What is your favorite bicycling scene?

All rights too these film clips belong to their respective studios.