What’s the deal with pollen?

Photo credit: http://bit.ly/KuA6J5

Hi OnAir Community!

It’s that time of year again… yep, it’s pollen season. Now, I know that this might not be what many of you would consider worthy of a post where we usually discuss often life threatening environmental issues, but as a girl who has awful allergies, I’m here to tell you that pollen is no joke.

Assuming most of you live in Georgia like I do, you too are experiencing the joy that is the yearly “pollen dump.” Yes, every year I, along with thousands of other Atlanta natives, dread the spring dump of yellow-y dust which then proceeds to cover everything that will stand still long enough. You can see the clouds of pollen floating like smoke or like Egyptian sand storms through the air. Sure it’s annoying, and sure it makes lots of people sneeze, but what is its deal?

Scientists account for numerous variables when it comes to measuring the levels of pollution in cities throughout the world. However, it is understandably difficult for them to identify which minute particles are which while they are all suspended in the atmosphere. According to Scientific American, the most recorded types of these particles are soot, ash, and other man-made pollutants. However, they have now started identifying plant and animal particles such as pollen, bacteria, and skin cells that make up almost a quarter of the world’s atmospheric aerosols. German scientists collected data from cities around the world and, of course, pollen levels spiked in the spring and skin cells in the winter.

What does this mean for us when pollen season rears its ugly yellow head? Well, nothing per se, but it is interesting to know! However, I do have a few tips for those of you with allergies as bad as mine:

1.) Remember you are not alone; over 35 million other Americans are downright miserable during the spring and early summer months.

2.) Stay aware of the pollen counts. You can usually find the daily count on your local weather site and even download pollen count apps to your phone!

3.) Do your best to avoid long stints outside, especially on high pollen days. Yes, the weather is gorgeous, but if your allergies are bad enough, you may have to enjoy the sun rays while wearing a face mask.

4.) Know which parts of the day are highest for pollen. Usually the time between 5 and 9 AM is when pollination occurs, so try to eliminate outside activities during this time.

5.) Avoid bringing pollen indoors by heading straight up to the shower and changing your clothes after being outside for a while.

If you’d like to read more about the study done on air particulates, Scientific American has some cool data. Breathe easy!

Listen up, Atlantans: Earth Day Cleanup on April 23!

Who’s got big plans for Earth Day? Looking for something green to do? Look no further. Join the 2nd Annual Earth Day Cleanup Challenge!

On April 23, you can join a bunch of other eco-warriors in helping to make Atlanta beautiful. Join with your class, your club, or even on your own to pitch in and work some enviro magic!

Want details? Of course you do. Click here and join in:

Mark Your Calendars for the Second Annual Earth Day Cleanup Challenge 

 

And guess what else?  Volunteering is a great way to earn AirCreds! Click through to learn more!

Good, Green, Music

Have any of you guys wondered about the stance your favorite bands and artists are taking on the environment? Do your favorite rock bands do more than just write lyrics about trees and the evils of pollution? Does your favorite singer travel exclusively in biofuel tour buses, and release her albums in biodegradable materials only?

Well just in case you’ve been wondering, the music industry has been increasing its efforts to be more environmentally friendly, an example being Warner Music Group. One of the “Big Four” of record companies, Warner Music Group has been releasing its work with DVD liner notes made of 30% recycled paper that was taken from carefully selected wood chosen by the Forest Stewardship Council. It also runs a nationwide recycling program that has found success in decreasing waste, with a total of almost 4,000,000 pounds of waste removed.

In addition to the record companies themselves going green, the artists themselves have also been increasing efforts. Reverb, a non-profit, environmentally focused Portland, Maine organization has played a huge part in this. Reverb focuses on partnering with artists and fans to make concerts and tours more eco-friendly, and to inspire people to become more invested in the environment.

Green Music Group, a project of Reverb, is made up of some very high-profile artists from The Roots to Willie Nelson that, according to their website, are aiming towards:

1. Creating an engaging online community of musicians, music industry leaders, and music fans all committed to addressing our greatest environmental concerns.
2. Facilitating large-scale greening of the music community through touring, venue, and label standards, resource development, green grants mentoring, and viral video and public service campaigns.
3. Providing environmental nonprofits with a megaphone for their cause, allowing them to expand their reach and support base.
4. Creating a sustainable green music guild to support and inform the efforts of the music community and position leaders in the music industry as voices for change, working to shine a light on the most pressing environmental issues of our time.”

From human pedal-powered concerts (!) to musicians bringing representatives from environmental organizations to their concerts to educate fans, environmental awareness is very present in the music world. Here’s a Rolling Stone article on some of the most eco-friendly bands and artists; you may be surprised by a few of them.
http://www.rollingstone.com/music/pictures/the-15-most-eco-friendly-rockers-20101216

http://blog.wegowise.com/blog2/bid/122506/Greening-the-Music-Industry-Eco-friendly-bands
http://greenmusicgroup.org/who-is-gmg/all_members/

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.


Running to Brook Run

What do dogs and skateboards have in common? I’ll give you a hint. It’s not the latest viral Youtube video. Still haven’t got it? It’s Brook Run Park! Brook Run Park in Dunwoody, GA is actually two separate parks. The first is a 4-acre dog park. The second is really cool skate park.

The Dog park is completely free. You can bring your buddy, and meet other loving pet owners such as yourself. There are trails and benches and you can bring toys. It is a great way to spend a Saturday and your furry friend will be forever grateful.

The skatepark is also a great way to spend time, and meet lots of cool people. It accommodates not only for skateboards, but also BMX bikers, and in-line skaters. It costs $3 for minors, and $4 if you are over 18. The crowd In the park is mostly teenagers, and everyone is very friendly.

I highly recommend visiting both websites to read all of the fun things the parks offers, as well as get your release forms for the skate park and read the reasonable regulations. Especially now that the weather is getting cooler, I’m sure you want to be inside with the heater cranked up but remember that you can stay warm, stay fit, and help keep our world cleaner if you get outside and get active!

A Park Themed Vacation

Photo credit: National Geographic

The first half of summer is already over for most people, and the camps and time spent at the pool are starting to become mundane. Now it is about time to take the great family vacation, which can be the best or the worst part of the entire break.

On one hand, you may get to go somewhere new or cool, but on the other hand, you will have to share a room with your whole family for possibly a number of weeks, and you might not really enjoy the activities that your parents pick.

A good idea is to give a little friendly input about the trip. I’m not saying you will get to pick the location, but I bet your parents want you to have a good time on the trip, too. If they didn’t, then they wouldn’t pay the money to bring you along.

Probably one of the best suggestions you can make would be to spend part of your time outdoors. You won’t get cramped into small spaces with your baby brother, and you can pick from thousands of things to do. Each state has its own, very unique features, activities and scenery, but most importantly each state has its own national parks!

National parks are some of this country’s most underestimated sources of not just fun, but of beauty and wonder. The western national parks and forests in the United States will literally take your breath away. Pictures can’t even depict the magnificence of the natural world. Water is so blue it looks unreal. Trees are bigger than thirty houses, and pebbles shine like millions of diamonds.

No matter what state you are in, and no matter where you are in that state, a national park is never more than a car ride away, and is always more fun than anything your parents will think of. This summer, think whitewater kayaking in a river, not White Water rides.

This summer, think park themed, and not theme parks.

OnAir says: Wanna visit a national park, but not sure which one’s closest? Check out the National Park Service’s Find a Park page. Enter your location or just click on the map to find the park closest to you. Now go outside!

Atlanta Parks

What if I told you there was a free, environmentally friendly way to have fun, at places that are probably walking or biking distance from where you are right now? That would sound crazy, right? Except it’s true. The Atlanta area is absolutely full of parks. You’ve probably seen quite a few but never really thought much about them.

When you hang out with friends, you drive to their houses and then maybe go to the movies, or just hang out. That’s just how you do things. Well, going to the movies costs money, and driving places takes lots of time and pollutes the environment, plus you don’t get any exercise just hanging around. Whereas biking, walking, running or skateboarding to your local parks helps you get outside, stay fit, and have fun without having to pay or pollute the air.

All around you there are well-maintained public areas designed for your enjoyment. If you skate, there are loads of places for you to go and meet people who enjoy the same thing. The same goes for biking, hiking, and yes, don’t be ashamed, playing on playgrounds. There are basketball and tennis courts, soccer and baseball fields, lakes to kayak or fish in, and much more.

If you don’t consider yourself outdoorsy, don’t worry. It’s never too late to try something new. Learning a new skill opens up all kinds of doors and opportunities. You may be surprised how much you enjoy doing these activities once you start, and you may find you’ve a hidden talent.

So next time you and your friends want to meet up at a fast-food restaurant, consider a picnic in the park; next time you want to go to the movies, throw out the idea of skating.

Get out. Get active. Try something new.