February in Wisconsin brings more cold weather, inches of snow, and brisk winds. Instead of letting this cold weather keep you and your family inside, let’s remember all of the outdoor winter activities that Madison has to offer! Before you get too stir crazy stuck in your home, try a new fun activity such as cross-country skiing, ice skating, hiking, or ice fishing!
Madison parks have a lot to offer for you and your family! Cross-country skiing is a great activity to stay warm while in the cold outdoors. Six parks in Madison provide a combined 32 kilometers of clear, groomed trails. Twelve more parks are open for outdoor ice skating too! Whether you’re a novice beginner or a seasoned expert, these activities are sure to brighten your mood during the grey winter months. Be sure to check out the City of Madison website to choose your venue and for helpful information about park conditions, fees, and more winter park activities! (http://www.cityofmadison.com/parks/seasonal/winter/).
If outdoor sports aren’t really your thing, why not plan a hike in this beautiful winter wonderland! Challenge yourself with the adventurous Ice Age Trail, one of the 11 National Scenic trails that run through Dane County and a perfect activity to increase your heart rate during these frozen months in Wisconsin. Otherwise, you could take a casual walk through the UW Arboretum and enjoy the natural landscapes of Madison. At the arboretum there are also opportunities to volunteer, participate in classes, take a private guided tour, or explore on your own!
No Wisconsin winter activity guide would be complete without ice fishing! Here in Madison, we have plenty of frozen but fish-filled lakes just waiting for you to set up your fishing lines. There is nothing like cooking up some fresh fish that you proudly caught earlier in the day. So grab your warm boots and fishing bait and head to the lakes!
Don’t let the cold keep you inside all winter! Pick a new activity for you and your family to try this weekend!
Who says that biking is just a summer hobby? Here in Madison every season is biking season! There’s no better way to stay warm outside than to get on your bike and enjoy a bike ride to work during Madison Bike Winter Week. Don’t let the low temperatures and piles of snow discourage you, join the community of bikers for a special Winter Bike Week!
If you are wondering why you should grab your bike instead of heading to the bus or your car, here are some benefits of biking to work:
Save Some Money. According to the BikeToWork.com the yearly cost of owning and operating a vehicle can be more than $9,000 which is 18% of the average household’s income. Owning and maintaining a bicycle can cost as little as $120 per year.
Lose Some Pounds. When you get home from a long day of work, going to the gym may not be your top priority or desire. Biking to work is a great cardio exercise that will keep you slim and trim all year round.
Say Goodbye to Traffic Jams. Business Insider says that Americans can spend more than 25 minutes in traffic while driving to work every day. Riding a bike can shorten that time and get you to work without the frustration of stand-still traffic.
No More Parking Hassles. If you have tried to park your car in downtown Madison, you have experienced the 15 minute struggle to find a spot. When parking garages fill up and the streets are parked in, you could instead ride your bike directly to your destination location.
Help the Environment. Riding a bike to work contributes greatly to a cleaner environment. Bicycles use no fuel and take less energy to make than cars. You can play a role in reducing transportation emissions and make an impact too!
Sunday, February 8th through Saturday, February 14th will be a full week of winter biking activities for Madison Bike Winter Week! Join Madison bike commuters in celebrating winter biking with a winter bike ride at Barriques, free breakfast at Whole Foods, and much, much more! Check out their Facebook event for a full list of daily activities (https://www.facebook.com/events/1391453804491958/).
Invite your friends outside of Madison to join in the winter bike craze too! Friday, February 13th is International Winter Bike To Work Day. Commit to biking to work online and see where hundreds of others have committed around the world on an interactive map. Check out more details: http://winterbiketoworkday.org/
It’s that time of year again. Holiday season is upon us! But while you’re looking for the perfect gift for your loved ones, are you considering where your money is going?
According to UC-San Diego, buying from locally owned stores not only reduces carbon emissions but can benefit the local economy as well. When you spend $100 at a chain store, only $43 goes back into the local community. However, if you spend the same amount at a local store, $68 stays in the community. This means more money is going to people in your neighborhood rather than chains across the country. Other studies have shown that the money spent at local stores is more likely to be spent at other local businesses, which helps to strengthen the economic base of the community. Local businesses are also more likely to hire local residents and support other local businesses as well.
Buying local is also more sustainable and can lower your carbon footprint. Many local stores have products that were made or grown locally, meaning that less fuel was used to bring that product to the store. Many chain stores ship their inventory from large warehouses across the country, which can use large amounts of fuel and release many harmful emissions. Products found in chain stores are typically made in bulk and the creation process can produce a lot of excess material and waste. In addition, typically local stores are more centrally located in a community than chain stores since they usually require less space. This makes it easier to walk or ride your bike to the store, further cutting down your carbon footprint.
Supporting local businesses also keeps the community unique. Where we shop, eat, and spend our free time helps to make our community our home. Frequenting a local business allows you to meet and establish a relationship with the owner and employees. This can lead to better service and assurance of quality products since we are more likely to help those we have relationships with. Local businesses also help create a distinct character in the community and can attract tourists that will help strengthen the local economy as well.
Local businesses are important for keeping our community unique and economically strong. Support your community this holiday season by buying local. Instead of participating in Black Friday shopping this year, participate in Small Business Saturday! For a list of local Madison businesses, go here.
Fall is a great time to get outside and enjoy the colors and beauty of Wisconsin. Before those cold winter months arrive, check out these fall activities with your family and friends!
- Go to an apple orchard. Fall is the best time to head over to an orchard for some fresh fruit! Apple picking is a fun activity for the whole family and supports local farms and orchards. Plus, you can take home baskets full of fresh, healthy fruit! The Cooking Mom has some great apple recipes to make the most out of your haul.
- Go on a hike. Wisconsin has over 2,500 miles of beautiful trails to explore! Travel Wisconsin has a great list of trails all over the state, from lake shores and forests to prairies. Looking to stay local? Head over to the Lakeshore Nature Preserve near UW-Madison for a great view of Lake Mendota. The UW-Madison Arboretum is also full of gorgeous colors during the fall and has numerous trails for your family to explore.
- Make some fall crafts. Stock up on fall leaves, acorns, and other trinkets while you’re on a hike so you can spend those colder fall days indoors making fun crafts with your kids. Check out our Pinterest page for some ideas!
- Go on a bike ride. The League of American Bicyclists has repeatedly ranked Wisconsin as one of the top bicycling destinations in the nation. Its numerous bike trails are perfect for a sunny fall afternoon with some family or friends. Get outside and enjoy the beauty of Wisconsin while getting exercise as well!
- Visit your local zoo. Fall is a great time to take one last visit to your local zoo before the cold weather settles in. The cooler fall temperatures are perfect for most animals to be outside and easily viewable for visitors, and the fall leaves will add a little more color to your trip.
- Visit a farmer’s market. Support local farmers by purchasing locally grown fruits, vegetables, baked goods, and other products at a farmer’s market. The Dane County Farmer’s Market occurs every Saturday morning from 6:00 am until 2:00 pm around The Wisconsin State Capitol Square. After November 8th, the market will move indoors to Monona Terrace.
- Play football. We’re in the heart of football season! Grab your family and friends and head outside for a friendly game of football. It’s a great way to get exercise, enjoy the outdoors, and spend time with those you love.
- Go horseback riding. Fall is the perfect time for horseback riding because the trails are full of color and the temperature is perfect for wearing pants and boots. Many farms and ranches have kid-friendly options and will teach you everything you need to know for a great experience. Check out Travel Wisconsin for a list of horseback riding locations.
- Take some friends and family on a hayride. Madison Parks offers special event hayrides in November for $2 a person. The hay wagon will take you on a scenic tour of one of Madison’s parks and will even include a view of the holiday lights in November. For more information, head over to the Madison Parks website.
- Spend a night under the stars. Grab some friends, a blanket, some pillows, and snacks and find an open spot in your backyard for some stargazing. It’s a great way to spend quality time with your friends while viewing constellations that are only viewable in the fall.
What other fun activities do you like to do in the fall? Leave a comment below!
image credit: mywisconsin.blogspot.com
We’re in the middle of football season, and with that comes football parties! While you’re enjoying the big game, are you considering your environmental footprint? Here are some tips for how to have a great party while still being environmentally friendly.
The number one way to reduce environmental impact begins at the store. When stocking up for that party or tailgate, try to reduce waste by purchasing drinks and snacks in bulk without excess packaging. Make sure that most or all of the packaging material can be recycled, like the cardboard casing and plastic film on soda containers. Items bought in bulk are often cheaper than smaller packages, meaning you’re helping your wallet as well.
It wouldn’t be a party without a cookout! However, grills often emit air pollutants that can be harmful to the environment. To cut back on these emissions, use a chimney starter and lump coal, all-natural briquettes, or an electric grill. Make sure you are disposing of these materials in the right location after using them so that nearby ecosystems are not affected. Many stadiums have bins to place hot coals to prevent fires and contamination of the environment.
Food is one of the best parts of a football party, but what are you serving the food on? Instead of using paper or Styrofoam plates, try using dishware that can be washed after the party is over. Many thrift stores sell plastic or ceramic dishware for under $0.75 a piece so it won’t be a problem if they get broken at the tailgate or during an exciting play. Also, try to avoid plastic silverware if possible. When you’re at the thrift store picking out your plates, check if they have any silverware as well. Using cloth napkins instead of paper napkins is also a great idea to reduce waste and save money.
You can also promote recycling at your tailgate or party by having separate bags for recyclables and trash. While many stadiums have trash bins nearby, having your own bags makes it easier for your group to put items in the right place. You could even make this into a competition by having friends and other fans vote for their favorite team by tossing recyclables in labeled bags. See which team fans think will win!
Tailgaters can further reduce their carbon footprint by carpooling to a game. Not only does this reduce your emissions, but it is often easier to find places to park and keep your group together when you have fewer cars. Having friends over to your place for the game? Ask them if they would be willing to carpool, walk, or bike there. You could even provide guests with an incentive for “green” transportation, such as free entry into a raffle or a free drink.
No matter what colors you root for, we can all make sure football celebrations are green!
image credit: www.eteamz.com
Keeping Electronics Out of Landfills
In our modern society, we are surrounded by technology. When things break, our first thought is to throw them out. However, all of these electronics fill up our landfills and can be harmful to both humans and the environment through run-off. According to the StEP (Solving the E-waste Problem) Initiative, 48.9 million tons of gadgets and electronics were thrown out worldwide in 2012. Most of these electronics could have been repurposed or harvested for parts, which reduces our resource consumption and keeps electronics out of landfills. Many electronics stores are now offering recycling programs where you can bring in your old TV’s, computers, and other electronics for repurposing. Some places even offer store rewards for bringing in materials, such as gift cards or discounts. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has a great list of places that accept mobile devices, TV’s, and computers.
Other stores and organizations will accept unwanted parts such as ink cartridges, digital cameras, and MP3 players. Headphones can often be hard to find places to recycle them, but ThinkSound provides discounts on new purchases for every pair of headphones turned in. Office Max also offers rewards for turning in old ink cartridges. A quick search on the internet for the item you are looking to recycle will bring up plenty of options other than simply throwing it away. E-cycling Central also has a great list of companies and organizations by state that recycle a variety of electronic devices and materials.
Before You Buy That New Smartphone…
We are always being bombarded with the latest version or new model of cell phone and many times millions of people are running to their phone carrier to get what ever that might be. But what happens to all of those “outdated” models? Instead of throwing your phone in the trash, consider donating it to a charity that will repurpose them for those in need. There are many local and national organizations that will take donations, such as Cell Phones For Soldiers. This non-profit takes old cell phones, refurbishes them, and sends them to troops overseas so they can call home. Other organizations include National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Hyla. Some of these organizations will even buy your old phone from you.
Many wireless providers also have trade-in plans where you can turn in your old phone and receive a discount or money towards your new phone. This includes AT&T, Verizon, U.S. Cellular, and other major providers. Check your provider’s website or ask an employee what your options are before you buy something new.
Reducing our electronic and online footprint is easier than you think. By reducing the amount of time you spend online and recycling any old, unwanted, and broken technology, you can lower your carbon footprint, be more engaged in your life, and even help those in need. While we can’t solve climate change in one day, every little actions makes a big impact. So unplug those devices, turn in those old electronics, and help make a difference!
image credit: www.torontosun.com
While the internet has been praised for helping reduce carbon emissions worldwide, it still has some drawbacks. Here are some tips (courtesy of singlehop.com and MEG) for helping to reduce both your electronic and online carbon footprint.
Think Before You Send!
Did you know that sending one email uses 4 grams of carbon? While this may not seem like much, a year’s worth of emails uses almost 300 pounds of carbon, the equivalent of driving a car 200 miles! Emails that contain large amounts of text, many recipients, or large attachments use even more carbon.
So before you send that email, think about if it’s really necessary. Could you talk to the recipient in person? Visiting someone in their part of the office not only reduces your carbon emissions, but gives you exercise as well. Before you hit “reply all” on that email, think about whether or not every person on the list needs to receive your reply. This will save carbon while keeping your coworkers’ inboxes less cluttered. Furthermore, take some time to unsubscribe from newsletters and websites that you no longer read or visit anymore. Not only will this reduce the amount of emails you receive, but your online carbon footprint will decrease as well.
To Tweet, Or Not To Tweet?
Most of us also use social media for our businesses and personal lives. However, these sites can have just as much of an impact on our carbon footprint. On average, 500 million tweets are sent daily worldwide. This produces 10 metric tons of CO2 a day, the same as the emissions from driving a car 24,000 miles!
Browsing your Facebook page, Instagram, and Twitter feeds can all produce CO2, so the longer you’re on the site, the larger your footprint. Instead of looking at your phone when you’re out with friends or family, live in the moment. Its okay to miss something every once in a while. Many people have a “fear of missing out,” which has been strongly influenced by social media. Connecting with those you haven’t seen in a while is a great benefit of social media, but if you’re constantly checking for your friends’ updates and pictures, you may be missing out on things happening in your own life. Put down your phone or computer and interact with those you’re with instead of your Facebook friends or Twitter followers. This can help reduce the amount of time you spend online, which lowers your carbon footprint and makes you more present in your relationships and your own life.