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.

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!

City Cycling 101

In light of our Bike to School challenge, we want to offer up a few tips (courtesy of Intown Bicycles) to help make your clean commute easy, less stressful, and most importantly safe.

Now we know that it can be scary riding on roads alongside speeding cars, but if you use your head, stay focused, and be smart, you can avoid nearly all major issues.

Tip #1: Be Visible. Now this may seem like an obvious one, but you may be surprised at how many cyclists and pedestrians don’t follow this advice. Make sure that you are wearing bright colors, and that your bike has an appropriate number of lights and reflectors. When you’re on your bike, you want car drivers to notice you from as far away as possible, so that they can plan to safely pass you. This is especially important at night. Wear yellow, it is the most eye catching. Do not wear grey, it’s the color of the road.

Tip #2: Be Predictable. It’s important to be as predictable as possible so that other drivers can know what to do. Follow the rules of the road. Stop at all red lights and stop signs; signal when turning; yield to oncoming traffic; ride on the right-hand side of the road, and turn left from the left lane. Essentially, ride your bike as if you’re driving a car.

Tip #3: Beware of Hazards. A lot of things that are bad for cars (pot holes, road plates, construction zones) are bad for bicycles, but there are additional things to watch out for when biking in the city. Watch for cars making left turns in front of you, and look for cars pulling out from side streets and driveways.Watch for cars that pass you and then make a right turn in front of you.

Also watch for sewer grates, railroad tracks, and gravel or other road debris. These items can cause you to lose traction and fall, particularly if you hit them at high speeds or going around turns.

Be aware that drivers cannot see the holes, debris, and other hazards that you have to negotiate. Signal drivers, if possible, before making any unexpected moves to avoid hazards.

Tip #4: Plan Your Routes Ahead of Time. Putting a bit of time in to plan your route can pay off big time. Not only can you avoid the busiest roads, but you can find out which roads have bike paths, which traffic signals don’t recognize cyclists, etc. Make sure to utilize bike paths as much as possible. It is technically illegal to ride on the sidewalk (unless you’re under 13), however there are some situations where it is way safer – so use your best judgement.

Tip #5: Be Prepared. First off, you should always have the proper safety equipment. Always wear your helmet (even for short trips), and wear reflective or bright clothing, as we mentioned earlier. It’s also important to carry some tools and supplies in the event of a problem. We recommend a spare tube for your tires, a patch kit, and a multi-tool, to help fix general mechanical issues.

Tip #6: Pay Attention. This is another no-brainer. Make sure that you are constantly aware of your surroundings. Unfortunately this means no listening to music. It’s important to use all of your senses to be aware. Don’t even think about trying to text while riding your bike. Not only are your eyes not on the road, but your hands aren’t on the handlebars, and you have no way to avoid a problem. It’s not worth the injury or the broken phone.

For a full guide to bycicling in Georgia, see the DOT’s Georgia Bike Sense. The Atlanta Bicycle Coalition also offers courses on city cycling, and bike maintenance.

Have a Green Prom

Prom often turns out to be a magical night of celebration, dancing and looking your best! But, believe it or not, prom night can be quite harmful to the environment. Just think of all the expensive dresses and tuxedos made out of synthetic fibers. Not to mention the amount of hairspray clouding the air.

Here are some ways to make your prom truly memorable – by feeling good about your impact on the environment throughout the entire night!

Dress for Eco-Success

The average prom dress is made with synthetic fibers that use horribly toxic dyes and processing. Consider ordering your dress from a store like Edressme, which specializes in selling dresses made from biodegradable material. Or, save the planet and some money by buying from a consignment shop.  These shops provide the ultimate form of recycling. And purchasing a gently, pre-worn gown helps cut down on the amount of pollution created to make new dress! So, once you wear your prom dress, keeps the cycle going by selling or donating it.

Guys, you’re lucky because tuxedo/suit renting is quite common and also extremely sustainable. But if you’re looking to buy, check out Rawganique, a site that ships 100% organic hemp suits that look like any other suit you could get, but are much more eco-friendly!

Ladies: Go Green with Hair & Makeup

Most makeup, shampoos, and conditioners contain harsh sulfates and alcohol, which are not only damaging to the environment, but also to your hair and skin. If you’re getting your hair done, try to find a salon that uses organic professional products like John Masters Organics or Intelligent Nutrients. Consider a style that could allow you to air dry your hair rather than blow-drying it, and try to use organic styling gels, rather than harmful hairsprays.

And if you really want to take an earth-friendly leap, consider doing your own hair and makeup! EccoBella, SaffronRouge, and Aubrey Organics are all great lines that offer organic hair care and beauty products.

Travel Green

The tradition of riding to prom in a limo is—surprise!—the greenest way to travel to prom! By riding together, you’ll decrease the amount of cars on the road, thus decreasing the amount of emissions in the air! You’ll also save on gas, chauffeur tips, and the rental by having everyone split the cost. Make sure to fill every seat in the limo and try to avoid that gas-guzzling Hummer limo!

Guys, if you’re determined to drive your date solo, consider doing what the eco-chic stars do and drive your date in a hybrid or electric car. Most car rental and chauffeur services offer several different hybrid options.

Throw a Green Prom

On the prom committee? Here’s how to make sure every guest enjoys a more sustainable, earth-friendly prom:

  • Use potted plants as table center pieces that guests can take home. Make sure to use fiber pots for the plants because those are waste-free.
  • For party favors, try ordering from an eco-friendly place like Green Party Goods. They offer biodegradable party hats, balloons, crepe paper, etc!
  • For any non-biodegradable stuff you need at the prom, remember to recycle accordingly! Try to provide plenty of recycle baskets with signs that remind your guests to separate their plastic, paper and aluminum.

Just trying a few of these options from any category will help make a positive air quality and environmental impact on your prom night! Got other ideas? Leave them in the comments!

And don’t forget to log your clean prom activity on AirCreds for points and prizes!

Spotlight on an Eco-Friendly Company: Alternative Apparel

In our last post, we listed eco-fashion as one way to make 2012 your greenest year yet. One fashion company we love that is really making a positive impact is Alternative Apparel.

Based here in Atlanta, Alternative Apparel has locations across the U.S. and is known for comfortable, versatile and vintage-style pieces. In addition to comfort, they value inspiring wearers and supporters to make a positive difference with how we live and what we wear.

I first heard about Alternative Apparel through celebrity fashion blogs and fell in love with their look and mission. You can see which celebrities support Alternative Apparel here, and even shop the same items they’re wearing.

Some of their classic items include soft tees, tanks and hoodies in understated colors. The look is simple, clean and totally classic.

To get more familiar with their style and values, check out their website and blog, which explores a range of do-good topics, including sustainability. They even highlight other companies committed to the environment, giving us more resources to choose eco-friendly clothing options as consumers.

If you dig their mission and need some basics for your wardrobe, I encourage you to shop their Alternative Earth line. These pieces are the most eco-friendly because they’re made with organic cotton, recycled polyester and other fibers from sustainable raw materials. In addition to material, they are colored using non-toxic dyes, biodegradable fabric softeners and natural enzymes–making them both super soft and low-impact on the environment.

Comfy, stylish, and making a difference? Yeah, we can get behind that.

Which eco-fashion brands do you support?