Innovative Ways to Make Your Home More Sustainable

At this year’s Solar Decathlon, 11 teams of students from the United States and Europe competed to build the most efficient and best-designed solar-powered homes. They built their homes in their own communities, then took them apart, shipped them to Denver, and reassembled them on the site of the competition, run by the Department of Energy. Here are just a few of the innovative touches that make these homes unique. Pictured here is the University of Maryland's reACT home, which took second place in this year's competition.

Read the full story at DIY Network.

How to Eat at Trader Joe's for $50 a Week (Or Less)

For someone like me who often lets speed get in the way of planning, easy food options eat up my budget, fast. Sometimes, I end up spending $40 or more on lunch and snacks in a single week. I always feel guilty for it.

So when my editor here at Earnest challenged me to eat for a whole week at Trader Joe’s with $50, I was up for it. It seemed like a good way to keep from spending too much money, and a good way to force me to plan ahead a little better and eat much healthier.

Read more at the Earnest Blog.

First Timer's Guide: Taos, New Mexico

Taos, New Mexico, is a vibrant community about an hour and a half from Santa Fe. At the heart of the town, you’ll find more art galleries and chile dishes than you’d think possible for a population of just over 5,700. And beyond the city limits, you’ll be thrilled to find ample opportunities for adventure.

Pursuing My Journalism Career While Paying Off My Student Loans

Less than a year out of college, making barely enough to cover my student loans and no-frills living expenses, I only wore shirts that covered my elbows.

I desperately wanted to put money aside to travel internationally, move for a better job, and get ahead. So twice a week, I drove to a clinic at the edge of town, rolled up my sleeve, turned my head and squeezed my eyes shut as a technician stuck a needle in the crook of my arm and siphoned my plasma. I was not proud of this. It felt shady. It probablywas shady.

This was the price I paid to pursue a writing career in journalism.

Summiting Old Rag Made Me Fall in Love with Solo Adventures

At the end of the ninth switchback of Old Rag, I sat on a rock to drink in the view as I nibbled on fruit leather. I talked for a little while with a woman who seemed to be about my age. I don’t remember anything that we said, but I remember being fulfilled by it. We would never see each other again, but the kind pleasantries we exchanged mid-gruel were enough.

We each, on our own, were enough.

Read the rest of my story at Hiking Project.

Where to Watch the Total Solar Eclipse in August

For the first time since 1918, the path of totality for the upcoming solar eclipse will sweep from sea to shining sea. People in a narrow path from Oregon to South Carolina will see stars in the middle of the day as the entire sun is blocked by the moon for up to 2 minutes and 40 seconds. Grab a pair of eclipse glasses and head to one of these areas on August 21 if you haven’t yet made plans.

Read the rest of my story at

The Little Sleeping Bag Brand That Could: How Big Agnes Toppled the Giants

Outside the outdoor industry, in cities where people wear dress shoes to work and their blazers are blazers, not technical jackets in disguise, “dirtbag” is a dirty word. It’s an insult not taken kindly.

But here, in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, it’s a badge of honor and authenticity. It’s a word you might use to describe the roots of Big Agnes, which has expanded so quickly since its founding in 2001 that it has outgrown building after building, creating a sprawling campus, of sorts, of commercial spaces and houses converted into shops and offices. Late last year, the brand moved to consolidate into a building that will accommodate the majority of its staff members. People who had typically communicated via phone and email, even though they were working just a few minutes away in the same small town, are now mostly all in the same location, which will increase the efficiency of an already well-run machine.

Read the rest of my profile on Big Agnes at SNEWS.