Book Review: Blue Mind

I love water. It turns out, that tons of other people love water, too! In fact, the calming effects of water are so prevalent that someone decided to write a book about the psychology of humans’ love of water. Blue Mind, characterized as “the surprising science that shows how being near, in, on, or under water can make you happier, healthier, more connected, and better at what you do”. Written by Wallace J. Nichols, the book delves deep into the human brain and looks at the pathways that enforce our attraction to the water.

The book compares tons of studies, all of which are incredibly interesting and informational. However, all 278 pages prove the same point: humans love water, there’s tons of science to back it up, and water seems to have a positive effect on the brain. Although this is part of why the book was written, to compile all of the research done on the human brain and water, it is a bit repetitive. It is not easy to simply recall one of the many studies done, especially when explaining to friends what you are reading, and the general gist of the book.

The book is fascinating. The science is fascinating. But it is a very long read. As a science major, I knew some of the basis for the studies, and techniques used, and it definitely helped me understand and interpret some of the information.  If you are looking for a highly scientific review on the brain and water, this is the book for you! Otherwise, just know that your love for water is  biological!

Fish Hotels

In efforts to revitalize the Chicago River and attract fish that were once abundant in the area, “Fish Hotels” have been installed along the River Walk . An organization called Friends of the Chicago River came up with the idea as an aquatic life restoration project. The first fish hotel was installed in 2005, with additional locations installed in 2012. Appearing as floating gardens in the river, the islands add greenery to the concrete jungle of the city. In addition to increasing the fish population of the river, which in turn can be an indicator of the health of the waterway, the fish hotels are meant to pique interest of others and raise awareness for river conservation.

Over a century ago, during the reversal of the river in efforts to reduce pollution of Lake Michigan, the Chicago River was dug deeper to better accommodate shipping and transportation. This cleared out many of the preexisting fish habitats, which in turn diminished the amount of fish in the river. The goal of these “hotels” is to attract and sustain fish to increase aquatic diversity in the river. Next time you’re along the river (which by the way, the river walk is beautiful and has awesome restaurants!), look out for these fish hotels!

PS – Follow me on Instagram! @connectingcoasts

Coastal Connection

On our lake coast, on the North Shore of Chicago, connections are being made between a local shop in our beach town and local organizations for the greater good of our water. 600NS is a new clothing line (hats, bags, shirts + stickers!) and is tribute to our Third Coast. For every purchase, $1 is donated to Surfrider Foundation, a national group with a local Chicago chapter, dedicated to protecting beaches and coasts across the country. The t-shirts are soft, the stickers are cool, and the beaches benefit, what’s not to love?!

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Share Wilmette – 600NS

Surfrider Foundation

Seattle: Straw Free City

Have you ever been to Seattle? What comes to mind when you think of Seattle, WA? Surrounded by the ocean and forests, Seattle is a beautiful, outdoorsy city. Seattle also just became the first major city in the US to ban plastic straws. The ban extends over the use of plasticware in restaurants, which are no longer allowed to use or distribute plastic straws or utensils. Straws are one of the most commonly found pollutants in the sea and on beaches, and are very harmful to marine life. By banning plastic straws within the city, awareness of plastic use increases, as does discussion on topics surrounding straws and single-use plastics.

In addition, Lettuce Entertain You, a major restaurant group in Chicago, also banned straws from 120 of their locations across the city. Chicago is known for being relatively clean and green, and this is another great step in the direction towards a sustainable city.

Plastic Free July

It’s my favorite month of the year! Summer, 4th of July, my birthday, warm water for swimming, July has it all. I recently learned about a campaign called Plastic Free July, which encourages people to “choose to refuse” single-use plastic. Started several years ago in Australia, Plastic Free July promotes awareness of how much plastic we use as individuals, and how that plastic accumulates and finds its way into our waterways. In a perfect world, we would avoid single-use plastics altogether. Even if you cannot cut out plastic completely (it is hard to do!) be aware of your plastic consumption this month, so that the small changes become habits. Reduce the amount of plastic you use day-to-day, and if everyone tries a little bit, it adds up to make a great difference. So kick off this July with alternatives to plastic in mind!

4 Ways to Avoid Plastic:

  1. Bring reusable shopping bags to the store
  2. Take a reusable water bottle with you everywhere
  3. Buy plastic or glass containers to store leftover food, or to pack a snack, rather than plastic baggies
  4. Consider purchasing durable plastic or stainless steel straw

Parley- Run for the Oceans

Sort of ironic, running for the oceans, when we do just about everything except actually run when we’re in the oceans. What an amazing cause, though, and a brilliant way to raise money to protect what we love, by participating in a sport *some of us* love. Until July 8th, every mile you log with Runtastic (an app that helps track where you run), a dollar is donated by Adidas to Parley to promote education on ocean conservation. It’s a win-win situation, you get some exercise and the oceans get some funding! So get out there and run!

Sign up to Run for the Oceans

PS- here are a few of my favorite running songs:

  1. Hymn for the Weekend – Coldplay
  2. Run – Coin
  3. Turn – The Wombats
  4. Carry Me – Joywave
  5. Homemade Dynamite – Lorde
  6. Move Your Body – Sia
  7. Meteorite – Years & Years
  8. Nothing Left – Kygo
  9. For Elise – Saint Motel
  10. I’m Born to Run – American Authors

Sun-days

As the weather heats up and the sun starts to come out, the need for sunscreen becomes apparent to protect our sensitive winter skin. Most of us grab whatever sunscreen is available from the dwindling supplies of last summer, or buy whatever is featured and on sale at Target. Some might be surprised to learn that sunscreen, while great of UV protection, is terrible for the environment, especially our waterways. Sunscreen pollution adds to the degradation of coral reefs, and increases levels of chemicals in lakes and oceans. If you must use sunscreen, try to find one that is eco-friendly, and has fewer harmful chemicals (which is also better for your skin!). However, whenever possible, try to use alternative techniques to protect yourself from the sun. Here is a list of ways to avoid sunscreen, and still combat the sun’s rays, as sourced from the Environmental Working Group, an organization that  works to encourage a healthy environment and a healthy population….

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Copyright © Environmental Working Group, www.ewg.org. Reproduced with permission.

 

Knot, Knot, Not and Naut

Knot– Rope patterns that sailors use to tie up their boat (and other things!). There are many forms of knots, including (but not limited to) bowline, figure eight, half hitch, clove hitch, square knot….

Knot– Used as a measure of windspeed out on the open water, traveling at one Knot is equal to one nautical mile per hour

Not– knots use nautical miles and are not the same as miles on land (also not the same as kilometers).

One nautical mile= 1.85 kilometers = 1.15 miles

Nautical mile– based on the circumference of the earth, based on the perfectly circular nature of the earth at the equator. It is defined as “one minute of latitude” if one were to cut the earth at the equator and divide it up based on degrees and minutes. Nautical miles are used on land and over sea, and used especially when sailing.

Happy World Oceans Day

Happy June 8th! World Oceans Day was started to honor and raise awareness of the oceans, and our dependency on the health of the oceans. The oceans help to generate the oxygen we breathe, they feed us, regulate the climate, and offer us much more. The oceans need protection, and World Oceans Day is a great step towards conservation. To quote Arthur Clarke, “How inappropriate to call this planet Earth when it is quite clearly Ocean”. The ocean makes up the majority of our planet, and it is just as important as it is deep and immense.

To celebrate the day, I saw the film Blue last night, as part of the March for the Oceans event series. It was a powerful film, documenting the harmful effects of overfishing, plastic pollution, coral bleaching, and discarded fishing nets. Through imagery, the film shows the issues about which everyone is talking, making a visual connection to what we’ve heard. It is heartbreaking to see how sea animals are affected by human actions, and this film displays firsthand the underwater damage that is a result of what we do on land. With stories from several experienced water-goers, Blue is enthralling and attention grabbing, and over before you know it. When you have a spare 76 minutes, I highly recommend taking a look!

Link to Information about Blue