Reduce, Reuse, Refashion

The start of summer is always exciting until you feel like you have nothing to do. Several summers ago, to stop my complaints of boredom, my mom encouraged me to learn how to sew and turn my outgrown jeans into a purse. I took on the challenge and made something that more closely resembled a sack, but a seed was planted and a hobby created. I spent the rest of the summer watching YouTube videos on how to cut up old shirts into necklaces and leaving a trail of fabric.

The emergence of an eco-friendly fashion industry that uses organic or recycled materials and doesn’t involve harmful chemicals is great and definitely something to cheer about. But for those who can’t afford to buy the occasionally overpriced products of that market or don’t want to, Do It Yourself fashion is the way to go. I realized only later on what a great thing “refashioning” was for the environment, but when you think about it, it makes so much sense. You’re keeping old clothes out of landfills while saving energy that could be used to make new ones.

Rather than heading to the mall for your next fashion find, repurpose rarely-worn clothes from your closet and turn it into something stylish you can be proud to wear. With a DIY spirit, not only can you find uses for otherwise untouched possessions, you can also join the battle against wasteful and materialistic behavior.

Websites like PS–I Made This, the YouTube channel ThreadBanger, and the book Generation T: 108 Ways to Transform a T-shirt are a great place to start. They offer many remarkable ways to bring out your crafty side even if you don’t sew or know where to begin. Next time you see something eye-catching way out of your price range, you might even be inspired to make it yourself.

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!

6 Environmentally Friendly Celebs

Here are six of our favorite actors, musicians, and heartthrobs who are doing their part to keep the world a beautiful place:

1. Drake:

Drizzy has been making moves – in his eco-friendly tour bus!

When traveling between cities to each and every sold-out show, Drake is riding in style in his biodiesel-fueled tour bus. He also makes a special effort to stop at recycling and compost stations along the way. Even on a small scale, Drake is ensuring to use only biodegradable cleaning supplies, and merchandise made with sustainable materials.

2. Emma Watson

Emma shows off her first earth friendly clothing line “People Tree”

Now that this superstar is finished constantly bailing Harry and Ron out of trouble, this British actress is going to continue doing things to save the world (even without magic). Post-Potter, Emma has become a fashion icon for young adult women all over the world. Her biggest cause is organic and fair trade fabrics used in the fashion industry. Emma just launched her new line of organic clothing, Pure Threads, in collaboration with Italian designer Alberta Ferretti.

3. Justin Bieber

Its no wonder teenage girls swoon for him, especially with that sweet electric car of his!

 We all have a little bit of “Bieber fever,” but this teen heartthrob is doing more than just making teenage girls across the country melt. For his 18th birthday, the Biebster got a Fisker Karma, an electric and solar-powered sports car. While we may not love his recent paint job, we think that’s pretty crush-worthy.

4. Leonardo DiCaprio

Leo is one of our most earth concious celebrities.

Leo has made quite a transition since he hit it big as the hopeless romantic in Titanic (1997). He has played nearly everything under the sun in his career on the big screen, but what a lot of people don’t know is how he spends his time away from the camera. He not only drives a hybrid, uses solar panels, and flies commercial, but take just one look at the superstar’s Facebook Page, and you’ll see all of the great environmental causes he is involved in! He supports everything from marine life preservation, to climate change awareness, to fighting world poverty.

5. Natalie Portman

Long time vegetarian Natalie Portman is an avid animal rights activist.

In the past few years we have seen many sides of Ms. Portman. Between her award-winning role in Black Swan (2010) and a more fun side in Your Highness (2011), Natalie has been all over the big screen lately. However, did you know that in 2007, Natalie trekked to Rwanda with zoologist Jack Hanna to film a documentary about endangered gorillas? Portman is also a long-time vegetarian and animal rights activist.

6. Brad Pitt

Brad is just one half of America’s favorite power couple (who happen to be very eco-friendly), “Brangelina.”

We all know about Brangelina’s preference to adopt refugee children, but this half of America’s favorite power-couple is involved in some other very cool initiatives! For example: Brad’s Make It Right Foundation is helping to rebuild New Orleans’ 9th Ward with 150 eco-friendly houses using green technology.

Well, there’s our list of eco-friendly celebrities. Did we miss anyone? What is your favorite celebrity doing to go green?

What’s On Your Bus Playlist? Here’s Ours!

We all know that riding the bus is one of the best ways to combat air pollution. One full bus can take as many as 35 cars off the road, which cuts down on the amount of harmful emissions in the air.

So, get excited about your bus ride by spending a little quality time with your MP3 player. Of course, everyone has a different opinion on how to make the perfect mix. But, here are some things to think about:

Consider the Mood. What’s the tone you’re trying to set for your day?

Challenge Yourself. Mix it up—try different combinations to avoid getting bored.

Be Flexible. Don’t worry about sticking to a certain genre or theme.

I posed a Facebook question about how to make the perfect mix, and here are some tips I got:

  • Don’t limit yourself to one mix. Create several playlists to anticipate your different moods. For instance, when I’m frustrated, I have an angry metal playlist prepared. I’ve also got a soothing, indie heavy mix ready to calm me down. (-Alyson)
  • I like stability in my playlist and usually stick to classical music because it allows me to do other things like read and play games. (-Erin)

And we asked around the Clean Air Campaign office for some favorite tunes:

  • “Moves Like Jagger” by Maroon 5 because “it wakes me up and gets me moving.”
  • “Rolling in the Deep” by Adele because “the beat is invigorating.”
  • “Lose Yourself” by Eminem because “it gives me street cred.”

Other listening options

Music playing services.  If you keep your music on your phone or use a 3G capable MP3 player, you can also access a music service like Pandora Radio. Pandora automatically recommends and plays music based on your song suggestions. And if you’re a Facebook user, check out Spotify, another music service that also allows you to share songs and playlists with your friends.

Podcasts  Not that into music? Try flipping to a podcast instead.

iTunes has hundreds of free podcasts to browse through —but that’s not your only option. If you’re not an Apple user try www.podcasts.com or www.podcastalley.com to download casts to the media player of your choice, or even directly onto your MP3 player or smartphone. Funny, serious, educational, political—pick a topic, and there’s likely a podcast out there covering it. And most are totally free!

I’m personally a fan of following podcasts that talk about my favorite TV shows like (geek alert!) Doctor Who, How I Met Your Mother, and The Walking Dead.

Videos.  How else does taking the bus win over driving? Video. When you don’t have to keep those eyes on the road, you can glue them to something way more entertaining. So if your MP3 player has video capabilities, try a video podcast. And don’t forget about music videos—get on YouTube or Vevo for a huge backlog of music videos and even suggested playlists based on the artists and songs you search.

What do you like to listen to on the bus? Leave us an answer in the comments! And don’t forget to log your bus riding time on the AirCreds tool 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?

Resolutions to Make our World a Better Place in 2012

There are tons of resolutions out there with tips about self-improvement. But what about resolutions to improve our community? We hope this list helps you make 2012 your most environmentally-friendly year yet!

Go outside.

This one seems simple, but it’s an important first step in achieving your environmental goals. The more often people experience the beauty of nature, the more they want to protect it. Visit a farm, join a community garden, walk around your neighborhood, play a field sport, or watch a theater production on an outside stage.

Learn the other R’s.

You know them: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. In our efforts to recycle, we often forget to think about the other two. To reduce, think about cleaning out what you don’t need and donating extra items to a local charity. For reuse, try a DIY project with materials you have on hand for a birthday gift rather than buying a new present.

Make mindful transportation choices.

We’ve talked about how walking and biking help save our air, but how do we really commit to making meaningful change in a lifestyle choice as big as transportation? Take note of where you travel, how often you go and how you usually get there. Then think about alternatives. The more aware we are of our habits, the more power we have to change them.

Support Eco-fashion

More and more companies are beginning to consider how their production of clothing effects the environment. Dying for a new pair of jeans? Consider investing a pair that uses less water to make, such as Levi’s Water<Lessjeans. For sportswear, think about shopping at Patagonia’s reuse store on ebay, the Common Threads Initiative. Read clothing tags and online product descriptions to see if the materials used are organic. Ecouterre offers a list of eco-fashion predictions for 2012, along with some links to organizations already making a difference.

Join a green organization at your school.

Many high schools have clubs committed to saving the environment. If there isn’t a group you’re interested in, consider starting one. Organize a group to pick up litter, write letters to political leaders about the environmental topic you care about most, or start a carpool chain.

Help your parents make green choices at home.

Does your family compost? Shop local and organic? Eat vegetarian? Find a recipe that uses local ingredients and cook a “green” meal for your family. You can also attach a list of the recyclables your neighborhood collects on the fridge, or offer to take your bike somewhere rather than asking for a ride.

Keep educating yourself.

If you’re on this blog, you’ve already started learning about how young people can make a positive impact on the environment. The more you know about environmental issues, the more power you have to create change. Learn as much as you can through online research, reading books, watching documentaries, and talking to environmental sustainability professionals.

Share your green knowledge.

As you learn more about eco-friendly choices you can make, tell your friends!

Make a list of your own green resolutions.

Once you discover the topics you care most about, make a list of concrete goals that you can accomplish. (Example: I will ride my bike to school at least once a week.) This time next year, review your original list and see how far you’ve come. You may be surprised!

What “green” goals do you want to achieve in 2012?

Resolutions to Make our World a Better Place in 2012

 

There are tons of resolutions out there with tips about self-improvement. But what about resolutions to improve our community? We hope this list helps you make 2012 your most environmentally-friendly year yet!

Go outside.

This one seems simple, but it’s an important first step in achieving your environmental goals. The more often people experience the beauty of nature, the more they want to protect it. Visit a farm, join a community garden, walk around your neighborhood, play a field sport, or watch a theater production on an outside stage.

Learn the other R’s.

You know them: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. In our efforts to recycle, we often forget to think about the other two. To reduce, think about cleaning out what you don’t need and donating extra items to a local charity. For reuse, try a DIY project with materials you have on hand for a birthday gift rather than buying a new present.

Make mindful transportation choices.

We’ve talked about how walking and biking help save our air, but how do we really commit to making meaningful change in a lifestyle choice as big as transportation? Take note of where you travel, how often you go and how you usually get there. Then think about alternatives. The more aware we are of our habits, the more power we have to change them.

Support Eco-fashion

More and more companies are beginning to consider how their production of clothing effects the environment. Dying for a new pair of jeans? Consider investing a pair that uses less water to make, such as Levi’s Water<Lessjeans. For sportswear, think about shopping at Patagonia’s reuse store on ebay, the Common Threads Initiative. Read clothing tags and online product descriptions to see if the materials used are organic. Ecouterre offers a list of eco-fashion predictions for 2012, along with some links to organizations already making a difference.

Join a green organization at your school.

Many high schools have clubs committed to saving the environment. If there isn’t a group you’re interested in, consider starting one. Organize a group to pick up litter, write letters to political leaders about the environmental topic you care about most, or start a carpool chain.

Help your parents make green choices at home.

Does your family compost? Shop local and organic? Eat vegetarian? Find a recipe that uses local ingredients and cook a “green” meal for your family. You can also attach a list of the recyclables your neighborhood collects on the fridge, or offer to take your bike somewhere rather than asking for a ride.

Keep educating yourself.

If you’re on this blog, you’ve already started learning about how young people can make a positive impact on the environment. The more you know about environmental issues, the more power you have to create change. Learn as much as you can through online research, reading books, watching documentaries, and talking to environmental sustainability professionals.

Share your green knowledge.

As you learn more about eco-friendly choices you can make, tell your friends!

Make a list of your own green resolutions.

Once you discover the topics you care most about, make a list of concrete goals that you can accomplish. (Example: I will ride my bike to school at least once a week.) This time next year, review your original list and see how far you’ve come. You may be surprised!

What “green” goals do you want to achieve in 2012?