Thursday, March 19, 2009

Where in the World is Terra? -- Traveling for her book, Travelogue 1

While traveling around the country on behalf of my new book The Mom's Guide to Growing Your Family Green: Saving The Earth Begins At Home, I've thought I would chronicle what I see -- mostly environmentally speaking.

Here's the first in a series of blog entries about my travels ...

I first went to Phoenix on March 17 -- the day my book went on sale. I loved how the Phoenix airport was recycling paper, plastic, and newspapers. Excellent.

A couple of days later I was in Tampa, Florida. I stayed at the Hyatt Regency. For a big hotel chain, I was pleasantly surprised about some things and disappointed about others. The restaurant downstairs, Avanzare, had lovely sky windows that during the daytime to offer beautiful, free light. But their menu left something to be desired. I expected a lot of seafood offerings, considering I was along the coast, but nothing struck me as sustainable. I whipped out my Seafood Watch card and realized I only had the West Coast version, but still it helped me to review the menu and make a choice. Salmon and shrimp were offered -- but nothing stated where it came from. I could have asked but instead looked on. Grouper and Yellowtail Tuna were also listed -- but I didn't have Grouper on my West Coast Seafood Watch card so I wasn't sure about it. (Later, online, I found out that Grouper is a fish to avoid and limit consumption on due to mercury and contaminant concerns.) Yellowfin caught longline was to avoid and Yellowfin caught via troll/pole was a good alternative -- but I didn't see Yellowtail on my card. In the end, I went with cheese ravioli and a house salad -- both delicious, no guilt, no questions.

Later, I found out that I could have used my BlackBerry and gone to to access the mobile versions of all Seafood Watch cards. I also found out that Yellowfin and Yellowtail are two different types of tuna, both were in the avoid and good alternative categories -- none were in the best choices.

Back to my room, I noticed that every light bulb was energy efficient -- the desk light had an auto off, which bugged me. It kept turning off and wouldn't turn back on properly. They don't wash the linens during your stay unless you ask -- smart. A climate control, newer thermostat was in the bedroom -- which worked great and could be adjusted by me. But no recycling bins in the bedrooms -- I know it would have been cutting edge to see them there, but what a wasted opportunity. I had to hand carry some of my recycled waste downstairs with all my luggage and ask for it to be put in a receptacle.

In the Tampa airport, I needed to grab lunch before heading down to Miami, so I headed to Chili's. Upon first glance, I saw that everyone had a straw. So when the server asked what I wanted to drink, I said "Lemonade, no straw." Easy enough. The menu was burger haven. I don't mind a burger every once and a while. But today that wasn't want I wanted. Maybe when I head to St. Louis next week -- I wonder if they have great burgers there? I will probably want some beef then. But for now I chose a Guiltless Black Bean Burger -- basically a meatless burger with either veggies or fries on the side. Eating less beef is something I talk about in my new book. Eating a diet richer in plants than in meat not only benefits your health but also the planet. And livestock produce about 1/5th of the world's greenhouse gases -- so cutting down on meat, especially beef, is the right choice. Anyway, the bean burger was overgrilled, but otherwise it was tasty.

Before I left Tampa, I wanted to check out what were their local environmental news stories. Of interest, the drought since 2006 has them searching for clean drinking water. They've been using a desalination plant to extract water from the ocean, but that plant has been on overload. There are many areas in the U.S. that have experienced either too much or too little water in the past four years. All scientific evidence points toward major fluctuations in weather patterns to be the norm in the future and causing these wet and dry problems if we do not drastically alter greenhouse gas emissions.

Additionally news was about a school that is offering more vegetarian options -- again, getting away from so much meat at school. More schools and students outside of this school in the surrounding area were quoted as wishing their school did this too.

Finally, there was a story about the state of Florida rescuing a baby manatee from a canal whose mother was no where to be found. It's always great to read about people who care for wildlife.

Onto Miami ...

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Terra, thanks for using the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch recommendations to find ocean-friendly choices! You can access all of our regional pocket guides from mobile devices at - this will take you to a mobile friendly version. For iPhone and iPod touch, you can visit the App store to download our free Seafood Guide.
Alison Barratt - Monterey Bay Aquarium