Sunset Magazine’s ‘Westphoria’ Blog Celebrates The Weirdness Of The Western States

chickenIt’s no secret that the 13 states comprising the Western U.S. are a bit unusual. Enter Westphoria, Sunset magazine’s 4-month-old blog dedicated to celebrating all that’s quirky, kick-ass, and distinct about the Left Coast, Southwest and Rocky Mountain regions. Think retrofitted teardrop campers, chicken “sitters,” bike-powered farmers market smoothies, and, uh, hotel rooms designed to resemble giant bird nests.

For those of you living on the other side of the Continental Divide, Sunset is the nation’s top Western lifestyle magazine, focused on travel, gardening, design, green living, food and the outdoors. Understandably, we’re big fans here at Gadling.

Westphoria is sort of like Sunset’s black sheep little sibling: edgy, on-trend, a smarty-pants with a sweet soul. Categories include themes like “House Crush,” “Made in the West,” “Dream Life,” “Food” and “Wanderlust.” I’m hooked.

[Photo credit: Flickr user Green Garden Girl]

Five Things You Can Do On Earth Day To Save Natural Resources

earthEarth Day is upon us, and even if you’re not planning to celebrate our planet’s making it through another year (what global warming?), there are still some simple measures you can take to show your gratitude. Love your Mother, you know?

Whether you’re on the road or at home, the following are smart rules to implement every day of the year:

  • Do laundry at night, after peak electricity usage hours and only wash full loads.
  • Use a travel mug when you purchase your morning coffee and carry a reusble water bottle.
  • Stash reusable shopping bags in your car, purse or backpack and desk.
  • Turn the tap off while brushing your teeth, washing your face, doing dishes or shaving.
  • Switch to e-tickets, e-pay, and other paperless forms of commerce; add your name to no junk mail and catalog lists.

[Photo credit: Flickr user kevin dooley]

How to Save Water and Save Money

Fairmont asks for a dollar, offers the ocean

Next month, look for something new coming from kitchens across the Fairmont chain. Chefs at these upscale properties will be showing off their skills not only with seafood but the sustainable variety. So, when you cut into your fish of choice, you’ll be experiencing both culinary and environmental bliss. Throughout April, Fairmont will be inviting guests in its dining rooms do donate merely $1 to the National Geographic Society to support ocean conservation and other sea wildlife initiatives.

Seriously, only $1. Is that too much to ask?

I’ve been a big fan of Fairmont’s corporate social responsibility initiatives for a while, and since I enjoy seafood, I’m particularly fond of this latest measure. The move will help to preserve aquatic habitats without detracting from your dining experience – something we used to call a “win-win” back in my consulting days]. If you aren’t staying at a Fairmont, find one near your home and dash off for a great meal.

And please kick in the extra buck.

Berlin brothel to bikers: ride up and save!

The travel and hospitality industry has tried so many ways to go green – from trying to wash fewer sheets and towels to using organic products in spas – that you might start to wonder if it’s running out of options. Well, if that is a concern, it’s probably time to look to the world’s oldest profession for some new ideas.

In Berlin, a brothel is ready to make you feel good for doing good. Clients of Maison d’Envie will receive discounts if the roll up to the front door via bike instead of car. There isn’t much parking in the neighborhood, laments Thomas Goetz, the bordello’s owner. So, he can free up some spaces for other businesses in this corner of what was once East Berlin, do his part to reduce carbon emissions and hopefully keep customers coming in the door despite the financial crisis.

Ride a bike instead of driving a car, and you get €5 (around $7.50) off the service you’re looking for. Currently, 45 minutes in a room (not necessarily for conversation, since prostitution is legal in Berlin) €70, but cyclists will see that fall to €65.

Walking, unfortunately, won’t get you the same perk. Goetz explains that he doesn’t have a way for customers to prove they didn’t drive and park nearby.

Can you think of a better way to save the planet?

Galley Gossip: Attention All Nippon Airway passengers, please empty your bladders now!

Ya know, I’ve seen a lot of strange things working as a flight attendant in the last fourteen years, I really have, and just when I think I’ve seen it all a passenger will surprise me. Recently an elderly woman asked if I’d be willing to help her get her bra back on right after she yelled at me for talking too much in the aisle. And then there was the time I sat down on my jumpseat in the back of the airplane and another passenger cracked the lavatory door open and asked if I had a magazine she – not he could borrow. I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried.

Most of the time it’s a passenger making a strange request, but this time it’s an airline and that airline is implementing one wacky new policy. It wants you to pee before you fly. As of October 1, 2009, All Nippon Airways (ANA), a Japanese Airline, is asking its passengers to empty their bladders before boarding a flight, and they’re doing so in the guise of going green. Now I’m all for being green, I even carry my own eco friendly refillable water bottle along with me on trips, but setting up signs at the airport and hiring “loo-attendants” to remind people to use the bathroom is kind of crazy, don’t ya think? ANA believes a lighter aircraft will result in lower fuel use which in return will create a reduction in carbon emissions.

Perhaps All Nippon is on to something. It’s been rumored that American Airlines saved $40,000 in 1987 when they removed one olive – ONE OLIVE! – from each salad in first class. Can you imagine how much money will be saved if every single passenger on board a full flight uses the loo before take-off? According to the Dailymail.co.uk, the average human bladder capacity is 15oz, which means if 150 passengers relieved themselves that would total to 63.7kg of waste. That’s 140 pounds, people! That doesn’t even count the amount of money the airline stands to save on toilet paper. Now does anyone know how much an olive weighs?

Of course it’s the All Nippon staff who is in charge of asking passengers to use the restroom one last time before they board. How embarrassing is that going to be – for everyone involved! I can’t help but wonder who, exactly, is going to do this, and how, exactly, this will be done, and what, exactly, is going to be said. I’m dying to know. Will frequent fliers receive special treatment by being allowed to go first? Will flight attendants be able to flash their badge and cut the line like we do at security? Will the airline take a delay for passengers who have difficulty going on cue. Next thing you know ANA will start limiting the amount of beverages allowed to be consumed on board after take-off! And here I thought charging for checked bags was bad!

While the airline is only in an experimental phase with it’s carbon emission reduction plan which will take place over one month and forty two flights, it may actually extend the program if it is well received by passengers and gets positive results.

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Photo courtesy of Tango-Sierra