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Van Life: The Ups and Downs

A lot of niche lifestyles became mainstream in the strange year of 2020. It seemed everyone was becoming a banana bread baker, an avid cyclist, or a plant parent.

Some people took it to the next level and changed their entire way of life by packing up and living on the road. Living in a van was once something you rarely heard of, but 2020 changed a lot for us. Suddenly, a nomadic lifestyle appealed to more people than ever before.

“Van life” videos were becoming some of the most watched content on social media for so many different reasons. Getting to see the process of stripping an old school bus or Volkswagen van and converting it into a tiny home was like HGTV taken to new heights.

The Ups

A huge trend within van-lifers is the joy of being able to telework from wherever you choose to go in your home on wheels. It’s as easy as parking in a McDonald’s parking lot for the day to get your work done with their free Wi-Fi.

Many content creators living the van life focus on the glamorous parts like parking by the beach at sunset, hiking with your dog in a different state every day, and not being tied down by rent or mortgage. However, a lot of van-lifers are transparent about the harsh realities of life on the road.

The Downs

Gas prices have spiked this summer, as we are all very aware of, making fueling a van a heavy expense. Dealing with repairs and vehicle maintenance can also make a home on wheels extremely inconvenient. Imagine having to drop your house off at the shop for a couple days!

Is it Sustainable?

While the lifestyle isn’t without its carbon footprint, the majority of people living in vehicles utilize solar energy, produce less waste, and become conscious consumers with their limited space.

One solo van-lifer, Cori Geiger, works fully remotely for a marketing organization. She installed solar panels on the roof of her van with the knowledge she acquired from YouTube.

All in all, van-lifers chose a nonconventional and exciting way to live. So, what do you say; are you ready to pack up and hit the road?

by Isabelle Brown  | 


Bikeshares: Revolutionizing Micromobility

Bikesharing saw a big reduction in usage when COVID-19 began in March 2020, with many systems suspending operations, and some companies even closing permanently. While things were not looking up for bikeshare ridership, suddenly the tides began to change.

Members of the American workforce who relied on buses, trains, subway, carpooling, and vanpooling were left in a difficult spot—How do I get to work as safely as possible? People were beginning to turn away from public transit in fear of spreading germs, and companies halted their rideshare systems to keep their staff healthy and safe.

Public Transit Ridership Losses Source: APTA Ridership Trends Dashboard powered by Transit, January 2021, https://transitapp.com/APTA.

Public Transit Ridership Losses

Source: APTA Ridership Trends Dashboard powered by Transit, January 2021, https://transitapp.com/APTA.

 

Not every business was able to go fully remote. So, city-dwelling essential workers looked to bikesharing to replace their commute modes.

Using bikeshare systems enabled people to get where they needed to go while exposing them to as few people as possible. This form of micromobility became an essential transportation service when there was a serious gap in transit that needed to be filled.

Now, with bikeshare systems electrifying their business models by adding e-bikes to their fleets, people in cities around the country like New York City, Chicago, Miami, Portland, Metro DC, and San Francisco can go further and get there faster.

Companies like Lyft with bikeshares in these major cities began adding e-bikes by the thousands and are seeing the results in their increasing ridership numbers. Where it stands now, there’s no denying it: Bikeshares are only going up from here with e-bikes making their mark!

by Isabelle Brown  | 


5 Ways to Enjoy an Eco-Friendly Summer

Making small efforts to lead an eco-friendly lifestyle can actually save you money this summer, and inspire positive change in different areas of your daily life. Here are 5 ways to have some great, green summer fun!

Shop Local: Farmers Markets

Going to a farmers market isn’t only a fun summer activity. There are more to these markets than meets the eye. Produce at farmers markets are typically sold at lower prices than a supermarket, and three out of every four farmers say they use practices consistent with organic standards. By shopping at local farmers markets, you can be spending less to receive sustainably grown produce all while stimulating local economies and preserving America’s farmlands.

Beat the Heat: Close your Shades

You’d be surprised how much heat can come in through your windows. A good way to prevent running the air conditioning all day long is to close your shades on hot summer days. This is a natural way to provide shade to your home and save money on energy costs.

Two Words: Bike More!

One of the worst parts of summer is opening your car door to the intense wave of heat that has been trapped inside. Then, you slide onto your seat that can reach temperatures upwards of 180-200 degrees F, and nearly burn yourself on the metal seatbelt. How can we avoid this? Bike there! For trips within a few miles, biking there is a great way to leave the car at home altogether and save money on gas!

Use Reef Friendly Sunscreen

Believe it or not, island nations and states are beginning to ban beachgoers from wearing harmful sunscreens in the waters. When it comes to purchasing reef friendly sunscreen, checking the active ingredients is key. The big substances to look for are Oxybenzone, Octinoxate, parabens, and microplastics. If any of these are listed, put it back on the shelf. Here is an in-depth article from the Save the Reef charity project to learn more.

Doing your Part: Picking up Litter

A good motto to bring to your eco-friendly summer is to leave every space better than you found it. Something simple to include in your beach or hiking routine is bringing a trash bag and gloves with you. As you clean up after yourself, picking up litter even on a small scale makes a difference. Joining community beach clean-ups is also a weekend activity that can be fun and very rewarding!

Be safe in the heat this summer, and don’t forget that even small efforts to living a more eco-friendly lifestyle are worth it!

by Isabelle Brown  | 


Lessons to Learn from the Bike Boom of 1971

The Bike Boom of 2020 is still moving along in full force well into the summer of 2021. It made us wonder: When was the last time bicycling was this big in the US?

As a matter of fact, bikes haven’t been this popular since the early 1970s. To quote TIME Magazine from June 1971 (exactly 50 years ago), “Environmentalists are turning to the bike as a pollution solution; physical-fitness fans like the bike as a heart preserver. Groups of workers in some traffic-choked cities have been staging rush-hour races among car, bus, and bicycle, with the bike usually triumphant.”

It seems historically, people have always liked bikes for the same reasons. While our society may have changed, the trouble of the daily commute is one thing we are all too familiar with. However, even though America went bike-crazy all those years ago, the boom only went on for a few short years.

So, what happened to the bike boom of the 70s? By the time there were serious plans of bikeways and infrastructure being built throughout the country, it was all but too late. The Oil Crisis of ’73 had hit the economy hard, leaving bike sales cut in half. In turn, bikes were tucked away in garages, and plans for bikeways were abandoned. The four-year long boom ended in a bust.

There are tons of informative articles out there that go into detail about the Bike Boom of the ‘70s on sites like The Guardian, Forbes, and Curbed that are all well worth the read.

The main takeaway in our perspective is that the fate of the 2020 Bike Boom is in the hands of the transportation sector and urban planning departments all over the US. We have the tools, knowledge, and resources to watch this spike in bikes become more than a boom, but a way of life.

by Isabelle Brown  | 


Shedding Light on Office Plants

As we transition back to the office from remote work settings, brightening up your space with indoor plants can reduce stress, improve productivity, and boost creativity.

When choosing to decorate your office with indoor plants it’s all about the windows you’re working with. They really have the last word on which plants will thrive in your office, as they play a major role in the light and temperature of your space.

In A Nutshell

East-Facing Windows

These windows produce the brightest sunlight in the morning when the sun’s rays are not super strong. Windows facing the east are good for plants that require moderate sunlight or only a few hours of light a day.

  • Ideal plants: Monstera Deliciosa, Prayer plant, Parlor Palm
West-Facing Windows

Windows facing the west get the full sun of the afternoon and evening. In spring and summer, this light can be quite intense, making this directional window great for sun-loving indoor plants.

  • Ideal plants: Jade plant, English Ivy, Aloe Vera
South-Facing Windows

These will provide the brightest sunlight from morning to sundown. If your office has south-facing windows, be prepared to close your shades on especially hot summer days. Some plants that require direct sun may begin to get scorched in the heat, signaled by yellowing leaves, or burnt spots.

  • Ideal plants: String of Pearls, fresh herbs like parsley, rosemary, or mint
North-Facing Windows or No Windows at all

There are many houseplants that thrive in little or indirect light. These will be your best friend in an office with north-facing windows, windows that are in the shade, or a space with no windows at all. Shade-loving plants will show you if they need a bit more sun through signals like leggy growth or leaning toward the closest source of light.

  • Ideal plants: Snake plant, Peace Lily, Pothos

Let an indoor plant purify the air in your office space as your transition from working from home. Watch as your coworkers marvel at the natural beauty on your desk!

by Isabelle Brown  |