Well, it looks like the Sierra Club is starting to get a bit more social media-savvy. The group recently created this subway-style map of the U.S. National Parks for its Facebook page. It’s not to scale, nor is there an actual mass transit system connecting all these parks (though wouldn’t that be nice?), but it is fun. I’m embarrassed to admit I’ve only been to five of these.
BRITTANY SHOOT, GOOD Writer
Plastic water bottles are an easy target for environmentalist ire, and for good reason. The marketing and selling of bottled water has been one of the most successful commercial campaigns of the past several decades—and it’s helped add billions of tons of waste to ocean trash vortexes like the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Meanwhile, the availability of free and clean water in public spaces is drying up, as drinking fountains are slowly and quietly phased out of urban plans. Even tree-huggers who do carry canteens can find it tricky to locate working public hydration stations to refill bottles brought from home.
When Los Angeles environmental activist Evelyn Wendel first learned about the ocean’s floating landfills several years ago, she started spreading the word like a reluctant physician in a hospital waiting room. “I tell people about the garbage patch,” Wendel says. “But I apologize when I do. I say, ‘I’m sorry to have to give you the bad news.’”
Here’s the good news: Wendel is building a path toward reversing our reliance on pre-packaged water. For years, the eco-minded Hollywood production and marketing veteran was fixated on finding new sources of clean drinking water. Eventually, she honed in on an obvious solution: Use GPS data to map this vital public resource. In 2008, she launched the nonprofit WeTap to help thirsty people find and keep tabs on drinking fountains.
When Brooklyn-based collage artist Mac Premo was preparing to move from his longtime studio to a much smaller one, he knew he had to get rid of hundreds of items from his past. But instead of simply tossing everything in the trash, he decided to catalog each item and the memories associated with them.
The result was The Dumpster Project, a public art installation inside a 30-foot-long dumpster. He took each discarded item, photographed it, then placed it inside of the dumpster to create a giant collage filled with remnants of his life. The objects often tell a story of a specific place and time, with an emphasis on the friends and family that made the memory important. About 500 of the objects will be recorded along with a description on the project’s blog, highlighting items from moments that may have seemed insignificant at the time, but collectively make up an entire existence.
“I think that we define ourselves through the things that we collect and the things that we keep,” Premo says in a video about the project. “I think we imbue meaning into objects and I think subsequently those objects become a record of who you are.”
by TIM FERNHOLZ, GOOD Business editor
Science has verified something that may appear obvious at first glance: The direct connection between the presence of bike lanes and the number of bike commuters. The more infrastructure exists to encourage biking, the more people bike—and the more society reaps the public health, energy, and lifestyle benefits that come with an increasing share of people-powered transportation.
Beyond the availability of bike friendly-infrastructure, other hypotheses explain why people bike more or less—whether a city is wet or dry, hot or cold, has high gas prices, is densely constructed or sprawling, is populated with young or old people. All of these variables play some role in motivating people to get on two wheels, but until now, we didn’t have a good sense of which was the most important.
A new study [PDF] of 90 of the 100 largest cities in the U.S. helps answer the question of what makes a city bicycle-friendly—and it turns out that the most important factor affecting the number of cyclists is the prevalence of bike paths.
That makes sense to me: When I lived in Washington, D.C. last year, I rode my bike to work and nearly everywhere else, despite the city’s crushing summer humidity and chilly winters. Now that I’ve moved to Los Angeles, which boasts temperate weather basically every day, I barely ride at all—the absence of road shoulders, much less real cycle paths, makes bike commuting here a rather dicey prospect.
by JILLIAN ANTHONY, GOOD Writer
Today, New York’s Hudson River is the 33rd most-polluted river in the U.S., but once upon a time, it was as pristine as the Adirondack Mountains, where the river begins.
In an effort to remind New Yorkers of their river’s roots—and the importance of keeping it clean—a pair of filmmakers are building a boat out of waste, rowing from the river’s mountainous source to its terminus in New York Harbor, and making a documentary about the journey.
The Hudson River Project, a collaboration between co-directors James Bowthorpe and Antony Crook, is aiming to raise $100,000 onKickstarter in a little more than a month. The team has impressive credentials when it comes to unusual journeys. In 2009, Bowthorpe broke the world’s record for circumnavigating the globe on his bike. Their last collaboration featured the Thames in Bowthorpe’s hometown of London.
"Every time I cross the Thames by foot or bike I always wonder where it came from," Bowthorpe says. "And there’s these millions of people who walk past it every day and take it for granted. I wanted to do a project that reflected that."