Natural soaps and other beauty products can be portable and convenient. Look for solid lotions, soaps with lids, and other solutions for your travels. Needing soap in a rest-stop bathroom or lotion in your car does not have to mean using products laden with alcohol.
“Summer Picnic” fine art print by Photo Atelier.
It never fails – as soon as we hit the open highway, I’m hungry. It could have something (or everything) to do with the countless convenience stores, drive-ins, and diners at every exit; not to mention the billboards that line the roadside, enticing people to take the next exit for a meal or a quick snack. These little fast-food diversions don’t come without a cost, however. They are both expensive AND usually rather environmentally un-friendly. A little pre-planning is all that it takes to stay green and healthy away from home.
Bulk up! – stop at your favourite bulk foods store for dried fruits, nuts, and organic snacks, and then repackage them at home in reusable containers and bags, like the lined ones pictured above, by Bells and Unicorns. (Tip: set out several bowls of nuts, seeds, dried fruits, candy and pretzels and let everyone create their own trail mix. Colour-code or label bags for easy identification on the road.)
It’s a wrap! – we are all sandwich artists at heart. Wraps, sandwiches, and subs can be made at home for a fraction of what you’ll pay on the road. Get creative with fillings and condiments, and be sure to pack high-moisture ingredients (like cucumbers, tomatoes and lettuce) in separate containers to keep them from sogging up your bread. When choosing reusable sandwich bags, be sure to pick ones that are generously sized, like these (above) by http://www.etsy.com/shop/bellsandunicorns, to allow for healthy, hearty breads and fillings.
Keep your cool! – perishables, drinks, and fruit can be kept fresh in a cooler even on the hottest of days. Make your own ice packs by freezing recyclable tetra-packs of juice or by filling zipper-bags with crushed ice, which you can refill with fresh ice at stops along the way. And don’t let me catch you buying bottled water! Steel bottles, like the ones above by Pretty n Preppy, can be refilled over and over and keep your water fresh and cool. Eco-savvy coffee drinkers never leave home without their trusty travel mugs. Not only do they cut down on litter, they’ll usually save you a few cents per refill, too. Caffeine-heads and fabric-holics alike will love these colourful travel mugs (above), also by Pretty n Preppy.
…and if you do have to stop for snacks, instead of loading up on sketchy pre-wrapped sandwiches, chips and candy at the gas station, seek out roadside fruit/vegetable stands, local grocery stores, bakeries, and farmer’s markets (if you are lucky to be traveling on market days). Some of the best meals I have had on the road have consisted of fresh-off-the-vine fruit, local artisan cheeses, and freshly baked breads purchased right from the people who picked/made them. Be prepared by making sure you have cutlery included with your picnic essentials*. The handy Urban Picnic Roll-up, pictured above, by Nstar Studio includes two three-piece utensil sets & two napkins. The utensils are made from durable, sustainable bamboo and can be simply hand washed and air dried after use.
Lastly, take the time to stop and enjoy your meals and snacks. Pre-plan your stops or keep an eye out for picnic spots and parks along the way. Not only is it a chance to stretch your legs and let the kids run off some energy, it’s often the little stops along the way that make for the best memories. Pack an oversized vintage quilt for the whole family, or give everyone their own place to cop a squat. These organic travel blankets by Crzy Bag Lady can function as mini-picnic pads, change mats, stroller blankets and sleep-mats. Compact in size, but super-comfy, they’re ideal travel companions for the green family-on-the-go.
*Packable picnic essentials: blanket and/or tablecloth, reusable plates/bowls/cups, reusable cutlery, salt & pepper, bottle opener, can opener, cloth napkins, sharp knife, cutting board, bags for collecting garbage/recyclables (when containers are not available on-site), small container of dish-soap for clean-ups.
I would love to hear about your summer road trip adventures. Comment below and share your stories and advice!
“Long Road Trip” print by Donna McKenzie
By the time you read this, I’ll be back from my annual mini-vacation to rural Saskatchewan; back to the world of traffic and computers; back to waking to an alarm-clock instead of the call and answer of the owls. I don’t know how long I’ll stick around, though; I spend most summers gripped by wanderlust and have already started planning our next adventure. For the next three weeks my articles will all be road-trip related and full of tips to keep your travels economical and eco-friendly. So, buckle your seatbelts and get ready to hit the (green) highway!
Before you set off, take the time to get your vehicle in good shape. Not only will you have a safer journey, you’ll save gas AND money! Ensure your engine is properly tuned and maintained, check your oil, spark plugs, oxygen sensors, air filters, hoses and belts, and make any necessary repairs and adjustments before embarking on your adventure. Be sure, as well, to have your wheels aligned and keep your tires properly inflated; low tire pressure is not only a safety hazard, it wastes gasoline. Fact: you can actually increase your car’s gas mileage by over 3% just by properly inflating the tires! (See your owner’s manual for your vehicle’s recommended tire-inflation.) Upcycled Volvo spark plug keychain, pictured above, by Brown Dog Welding.
Setting off into unknown territory can turn any journey into an adventure. Getting lost, however, can take the fun out of the trip as soon as you realize that you are going many, many kilometres out of your way. A satellite navigation system is a great way to stay on-course, but I have heard many stories of GPS units directing drivers into cornfields and up long-abandoned roads, so pack “old fashioned” maps just in case. The wood and upcycled map bangle bracelets, pictured above, were made by San Francisco’s Squishy Sushi.
In order to avoid wasting precious gas and time, try to plan your route well in advance. There are a number of web-based trip planners that you can use to make the most of your journey. I like http://www.freetrip.com/ and good ol’ Google Maps. Or, if you are a member of an auto club, you can let them do your planning for you! AAA and CAA also provide their members with free maps and travel guides. Are we there yet? Repurposed plastic and map luggage tags, pictured above, by Marmalime.
In addition to planning your routes, pre-planning your stops can help keep everyone in the car happy-go-lucky, too. Being spontaneous is fun, yes, but have you ever driven an extra-hour for an impromptu treat and arrived only to find that a much-hyped ice-cream shop is inexplicably closed? Trust me; it’s an instant joy-kill. It’s also a good idea to call ahead to your destinations to check operating hours, etc. Check out the fun and guaranteed melt-free, upcycled wood neopolitan “ice cream treats” by Rekindled Cottage, pictured above.
Next week: we head out on the highway!
The cold winter months can drag on when you’re stuck inside all day, but sometimes the best thing to do is get out and embrace the chilly weather. The ice rink in downtown Chicago has some of the best views of the city and I would try to go at least once a year to take it all in. It was always crowded and I was always wobbly, but, if nothing else, I would have a good laugh at myself and enjoyed some hot chocolate at the end of it all.
If you’re ever looking for an excuse to put on a twirly dress, ice skating is it. This knit dress by Jessica Rose Design features a full skirt that’s perfect for 360 spins or just trying to stay on your feet. The classic design, v-neck and full skirt are figure flattering for women of all shapes. And, since it’s cold outside, the knit fabric is perfect for layering with sweaters and scarves.
These amazing screen-printed leggings by Pretty Penny Designs are truly going to set you apart on the ice. Made of a cotton Lycra blend, you’ll be able to move around the ice with ease and stay warm as well. The blue and white fireworks pattern is a surprising accessory to your classic blue dress.
Of course, your legs are going to need a bit more warmth if you’re going to be out on the ice all day. These speckled blue leg warmers by Uniquely Chic for You are a great accessory, both on the ice and off. Made of wool and viscose yarn, these are sure to keep your legs warm and the relaxed fit ensure that they will fit right over your ice skates.
The cute and eco-friendly ice skates featured at the top of this post were created by Recycled Parts.
A couple of weeks ago I planted a bed of peas. It was pushing the season, to say the least, but I did it anyway. And less than 48 hours later I awoke to a house without power and a yard and garden covered in no less than two inches of slush and snow and ice. Mostly ice. It’s a good thing peas don’t mind a freeze or ten.
Mother Nature is a finicky lass and though April first seems to be the unofficial start to spring in this part of the world there’s no guarantee she won’t pummel us again.
Yet, I remain optimistic. The sun is shining more days than not and the earliest spring plants have been seen shooting up from the cold, brown ground. The grass is beginning to green and I know sooner or later the growing season simply has to make an appearance again.
In the meantime we continue to dine on whatever is left of what we put by last season, taking careful stock of what exactly is left with every new jar we open. There’s not much. And we dream, of fresh picked, newly harvested. Of another season of preserving because it’s those last jars that truly get us by when fresh, local food is so close to being available we can taste it.
And while we’re dreaming and waiting we are a bit envious. Okay, more than a bit envious, because in other parts of the world — parts not even very far from our own little corner — there is fresh food in abundance already. If you’re in one of those parts here’s what you should be looking for at the market:
- Greens — Spinach and lettuce and kale and chard galore!
- Radishes — Spice things up by looking for colors other than the traditional reds and pinks. Chinese Green Luobo, for instance, are a bright green variety.
- Brassicas — Broccoli, Cabbages and Cauliflowers make great side dishes and also lend themselves well to center stage, making a hearty late spring meal when roasted or sauteed in a little oil and garlic.
- Asparagus — Look for thin, tender shoots.
- Rhubarb — Great raw, cooked, in pies and even makes a lovely jam.
- Herbs — Chives are some of the first herbs to pop up in spring gardens. Look for Parsley, Chervil and even Sage and Thyme to follow shortly thereafter.
- Peas — Both pod and sugar-snap are hardy and among the first producers of the season.
- Onions — Especially green, but also be on the lookout for bunching and short day varieties in the south.
Of course, there are always preserves and storable produce — apples, potatoes, winter squashes and the like — to lend flavor and variety to the menu. And those items that are ‘on the hoof’ — meats and dairy products — never go out of season. Pair some with a side or two of the above in-season veggies and a baguette from your local baker and you’ll have a meal worth sitting down and thoroughly enjoying!
Until next month, Happy Shopping!