For the Greater Goods

A lifestyle blog for the conscious consumer


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Ireland Goes Green

You may have noticed I was completely MIA for the first week or so in July (and if you didn’t notice maybe you should pay a wee bit more attention to my blog *wink wink*). Well, guess what? I was in Ireland (and subsequently  recovering from jet lag)! My friend and I drove around Ireland for a week and stopped at Dublin, Galway and Cork. We saw gorgeous green landscapes, explored castles, and ate one too many potatoes.

50 shades of green

50 shades of green

Green as far as the eye can see...

Green as far as the eye can see

Last year when I went to Iceland, I wrote a post about Icelanders’ socially conscious efforts. When I went to Ireland I was equally inspired by their environmental effort. Here are some of Ireland’s green initiative:

Biking

Public bike rentals were introduced to Dublin in 2009 and since there has been a big push to encourage riding bikes. Last year there was a 14% jump in the number of cyclist in Dublin. In the coming years Dublin hopes to continue to increase bikes use and further reduce their carbon footprint. And while Dublin is no Amsterdam or Copenhagen, one day it could be.

Now to a U.S citizen, bikers in Ireland seem nuts. These bikers are literally risking their lives for the environment. With the combination of narrow roads and fast drivers, willingly biking on the street seemed downright crazy to a foreign tourist. In the US people slow down and go around bikers. Even if they’re riding on the shoulder, we normally make an effort to avoid them. Not the case is Ireland! Bikers are given about 3 inches of space and no courtesy slow down. I can imagine that almost getting hit is just a regular old day over there. In the name of the environment I guess?

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This road shouldn’t be able to fit two cars and a biker, yet somehow it does.

ATMs

One of the more surprising Irish eco-friendly initiative were the ATMs. After you take out money the ATM makes you think long and hard about whether or not you really need a receipt. Apparently receipt litter became a big enough problem that in 2007 a protocol was developed to reduce the amount of ATM receipts that ended up on streets and sidewalks. The protocol includes:

  • receipts are only available when customers request one
  • an on screen message helps create awareness of receipts’ environmental impact
  • under each ATM there is a trashcan to throw unwanted receipts in

It may seem like a small step, but I’ll admit I didn’t see any receipts on the street. _MG_1857

Wind Turbines

It is Ireland’s goal to generate 40% of its electricity from renewable resources by 2020. In 2013 47% of Ireland’s renewable energy came from wind. The biggest issue that surrounds wind turbines is the impact they have on the visual landscape and consequently tourism. Although I thought it was cool to see the turbines, I can understand the concern.While it may not be feasible to power the entire island with wind, it’s a step in the right direction. So whether or not more wind turbines pop up, Ireland is committed to decreasing their carbon footprint.

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Monday Motivation

Because Mondays are hard and sometimes we need a little inspiration…

Adventure

I heard this quote a few weeks ago while I was on a bus to Boston. The documentary 180˚ South was playing and I was quickly enthralled in the story. A lot of things resonated when I heard this quote.  All too often when something goes wrong we see it as an annoying setback instead of a chance to grow and explore. So next time you find yourself adrift think of it as an exciting chance to discover something new about yourself and/or the world.

(180˚ South is available on Netflix if you are interested in watching it. I definitely recommend it.)


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Friday Finds

Check out what I’ve been checkin’ out…

Friday Finds 4.17.15

1. Incredibly inspiring and brilliantly beautiful paintings done by an unlikely artist. 

2. I may be a little bias on this one because I had so much fun on my trip to Iceland, but I found this article incredibly inspiring. The writer really enunciates the therapeutic element that comes from traveling.

3. Nike nails it with their “Better for it” campaign. We’ve all had these thoughts. Some days a workout feels so good and others its just blah. But either way, getting out and doing something is a great accomplishment. Be proud of yourself.

4. Would you post a bathing suit pic online? I know most women would pass… And many would consider posting one brave, but not this woman. She helps remind us what bravery really is.


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I Come From The Land of the Ice and Snow…

I went to Iceland! Did ya miss me? I sure missed blogging. While I was away I thought of so many ideas for future posts and I can’t wait to get started. But first I would like to share a little about my trip and see how many times I can write the word “Iceland” without annoying everyone.

Right now you might be thinking, “Annie, what does Iceland have to do with your blog?”. I promise it relates. Icelanders are very conscious, environmental, and sustainable folk. You have to be when you live in such an isolated place where it can snow for 75% of the year.

First, I would just like to say that my trip to Iceland was an extremely fun and beautiful and inspiring experience. I highly recommend going on an adventure in Iceland if you get the chance. There are so many things to do and beautiful things to see and fascinating places to explore. I got to walk on a glacier, snorkel between tectonic plates (yes, the water was absurdly cold), hike in gorgeous national parks, trek through an ice cave, relax at a geothermal spa, ride a zodiac through a iceberg ridden lagoon, eat delicious local food, explore cities, and see more sheep, waterfalls, and rainbows than I have in my entire life.

I traveled around Iceland on the Ring Road, which follows the perimeter of the island.  It is about 1,332 kilometers (828 miles) and we did it in 9 days. Some days we drove three hours and others we only drove one. The driving wasn’t even bad because: a) there isn’t any traffic and often times you go miles without even seeing another car and b) the sights are incredible. It was cool to see how the geography changed from region to region. I really feel like I was able to get a good feel for the entire country.

Here are a couple pictures I took that’ll show you just how pretty this country is. It was so impossibly hard to narrow the pictures down to just a few from the 300 that I took…

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Kirkjufell and Kirkjufellsfoss. Foss means waterfall in Icelandic. So many fosses in Iceland!

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That white part on the mountain is a glacier. It is a part of the biggest glacier in Iceland, Vatnajokull. Jokull means glacier in Icelandic.

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They gave us axes to use during the glacier walk. We were suppose to use them for support if we needed them, but I think they were mostly just for show. Naturally I had to test mine out. It worked. Oh and the black/gray stuff on the ice is ash from past volcano eruptions.

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Iceberg dead ahead! The ice is a pretty blue because when the ice breaks off of the glacier it is super compact and all of the air is super compressed. So when light enters the ice all but the blue light waves are dissipated. Science. It works like the blue in the sky.

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And the pictures don’t even do the landscape any justice! You really have to see in person to experience the actual beauty.

All the people we met had a distinct respect and appreciation for nature and the beauty of their environment. Most of our local guides were excited about the volcanoes erupting, which is the exact opposite reaction I was expecting. Before I left when I told people I was going to Iceland they all asked if I was worried about the volcanoes. So I assumed Icelanders would also be freaking out about an eruption. And in some ways they were, but it was excitement freaking out and not worried freaking out. They talked about watching the eruption streaming live online and how areas around the volcano have to be blocked off during the eruptions because people will literally walk miles and miles (or kilometers and kilometers) to catch a glimpse of the volcano and sometimes they get a little too close. They have such a passion for the land and its geology and preserving the environment around them. It’s admirable.

On top of that, nearly 100% of Iceland is powered by renewable energy. Hydro and geothermal energy are responsible for powering almost the entire island. I got the see the largest geothermal energy plant and man did it smell! The stink is from the hydrogen sulfide in the steam collected from the geothermal reservoir.

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Imagine the stench of 100 rotten eggs. Now multiply that by the area of this plant. That’s how bad it smelled.

Although Iceland might seem like the environmental dreams, it is also suffering from the effects of global warming. When I did a glacier walk, I learned that the glaciers are melting faster than ever before. It is natural for glacier to through cycles of growing and shrinking, but the rate at which the glaciers are currently melting is unnatural. And what would this world be without giant chunks of ice in Iceland?

Icelanders are also very conscious when it comes to food. I went to Iceland expecting to have some to have some interesting meals. I’m a fairly picky eater and had read a few articles about strange and gross Icelandic food (sheep head, no thanks!), which worried me. Would I be able to eat? Huge concern. But I’m hear to tell you not to believe any of that hoop-blah! Sure they eat fermented sharks and eggs, but I don’t think those foods really represent Iceland. I literally didn’t have a bad meal while I was there. Everything was incredibly fresh and delicious. I had some of the best seafood of my life and I live in Maine!

Because of Iceland’s small populations, high environmental consciousness, strict government regulations, and geographic isolation, the meat and seafood are some of the healthiest and purest in the world. Om nom nom!

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LIttle sheep butts covered all the hills, valleys, and fields.

Another cool thing: in the summer they all let the animals roam free. We saw mostly sheep and horses wandering around. The animals are kept in a certain area by natural barriers such as rivers and mountains. Then at the end of the summer all the farmers from each town get together and heard all the sheep together then sort out whose is whose. Total teamwork.

So have I convinced you to go to Iceland yet? Maybe? Well if you’re on the fence, just check out this song. You are guaranteed to hear it 100 times while you’re there. I have no idea what the words mean, I just hope it’s nothing bad. Can’t you just picture yourself driving through the country with that infectious beat? I promise you won’t get sick of it at all….. ok maybe a little.

And if you have any questions, I would be more than happy to help!

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