Monday, June 30, 2008

A Visit to WEAVE on the Thai-Burma border

I posted last week about To-Go Ware, sustainable bamboo utensils that you can take-with to avoid disposable plastic cutlery. The utensils come in convenient carry packs, made either from recycled plastic bags by the Conserve nonprofit in Delhi, which I featured in the post; or in pretty cloth wraps made by WEAVE, a group working with Burmese women in refugee camps on the Thai-Burmese border. To-Go Ware founder Stephanie Bernstein visited WEAVE last year, in a video I really like. For your viewing pleasure (11 min.):

You can learn more about WEAVE here. To-Go Ware in WEAVE carriers is available at many Whole Foods or online at To-Go

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Sunday, June 29, 2008

Easy! Save Someone Having Heart Attack. Katie Couric Demonstrates Defibrillator.

You may have seen these Automated External Defibrillators hanging on the wall in airports, businesses, and other public places. It turns out they are SUPER easy to use: push a button and an audio voice walks you through the whole process (pictures too). It could not be simpler — I was impressed. When someone collapses with a heart attack, the first few minutes are so so critical. (It’s pretty clear that Tim Russert’s death prompted Couric’s desire to educate the public on this.) Check out the video our below — be patient with the ad that runs first — and you will be prepared to save the day should you encounter this emergency:

Today’s mitzvah: Consider forwarding this around. You never know when you might need it. Here’s a direct link to the video.

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Saturday, June 28, 2008

Summer Weekend Round-Up

Bits and and pieces for a summer weekend before I head off to the farmers market.

There’s still time to join EnviroMom’s “One Can A Month Challenge” for July, which includes a cool blog banner that you’ll have to click here to see!

Wondering how to dispose of compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs) safely? Budget Ecoist has a tip about Home Depot’s new CFL recycling program.

EnviroHumanImpact turned me on to CNET’s Green Tech Blog, which the green geek in me is thoroughly enjoying as a happy new news source.

Speaking of cool sites: Hop to It (née Be A Good Human) discovered the very cool Just Cause, an all-around good news site about people making a positive impact in the world. Beyond just presenting the news, the site also helps readers link up with various causes and “share creative solutions.” I like this one.

Last but not least: a reminder that through June you can help the Breast Cancer Site reach its goal for a $10,000 challenge grant. To help provide free mammograms to women without health insurance — at no cost to you — just click here.

I am off to the farmers market. Have a great weekend!

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Update: Cooling Off Summer Energy Use

As I noted a couple weeks ago, my goal for the summer is to cut our electric usage by 10%. We recently received our mid-June electric bill, with a happy surprise: we used only 179 kWh. This certainly compares favorably with last year’s mid-June reading of 276 kWh, as well as our 2007 average of 240 kWh/month. Being away for a week helped, as did the relatively cool nighttime temps, since I was able to avoid running the AC overnight until just a few days ago. So we’re ahead of the game, but not slacking off!

Here’s where we are. Meter readings and dates (better month bolded):
  • June 2008: 179 kWh / June 2007: 276 kWh
  • July 2007: 236 kWh
  • August 2007: 476 kWh
  • September 2007: 232 kWh
  • TOTALS: Summer 2008: ???? / Summer 2007: 1220 kWh
So far we’re ahead of last year by 64.8%. If this keeps up, I’ll increase our savings goal, but for now I’m focusing in ensuring the next month’s bill is also at least 10% lower than last year. If anyone has tips, send ’em on over!

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Weather Prep #2: Wind-Up Flashights, Radios

Power outages tend to drag on, which can be a drain on battery supplies. Here are some wind-up items I keep handy — they do double duty as environmentally friendly options and as good fallbacks in case one doesn’t have (or would prefer not to use) batteries. The Dynamo Illuminator small LED flashlight (right) has the easiest and sturdiest crank of the wind-up gadgets I’ve tried. It offers two brightness settings (one bulb or three bulbs) and holds a decent charge when not in use. I got mine at Walgreens for less than $10; affordable models are also available at Amazon by searching “wind-up flashlight” (consider using the Nonprofit Shopping Mall link, which also generates a free-to-you contribution to your favorite charity).

I’m a big fan of Éton/Grundig wind-up radios. The basic model (FR-200) has AM, FM, and shortwave bands; operates for almost an hour on less than a minute of cranking; and holds a charge for long periods of inactivity. Other models offer weather bands and TV audio instead of shortwave; some also include a cell phone charger port. (For cell phone charging also see my previous weather post.) You can find a nice selection at Amazon (which happily is accessible via Nonprofit Shopping Mall); or at the online NPR Shop, which benefits public radio. If you live in the UK: our friends at Ethical Superstore also sell most items on this page.

We have several little battery lanterns at home, but Freeplay’s pricier option gives long-lasting light completely by crank-power. I found this lantern’s crank mechanism the least user-friendly of the three, but if you live in an area vulnerable to severe weather and protracted power outages, it might be a wise choice. I got ours at REI (which also offers an annual rebate if one joins their co-op). Just generally, camping stores offer a variety of power-outage friendly goods.

Today’s mitzvah: Consider doing a supply audit to make sure your family is prepared for a weather emergency or protracted power outage.

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Weather Prep: Charge Your Cell Phone with AA Batteries

This isn’t a natural fit with the blog theme — other than my love of gadgets — but I’m stretching the mitzvah theme today to include storm and emergency preparedness. When I moved to a tornado prone area I was worried about how to keep my cell phone charged during a power outage. A car charger works for most people, but not having a car that was out for me. I’ve been pleased to see several companies selling inexpensive chargers that work with regular AA batteries. They’re available via many gadget and computer catalogs, at airport computer and Palm stores — and the Energizer version (below) is also easily picked up for about $20 at most chain drugstores, and at big box and office supply stores. All the versions I’ve tested work off a single charging unit with multiple tip options for different phones and PDAs.

I have a couple different brands of these in different bags for the times when my cell phone dies when I’m out and about, but mostly as back-up for weather emergencies. The chargers using a single battery are smaller and tend to be sold separately from the tips (a nice option if you want to charge multiple devices), but I don’t find I get a full charge from just one battery: about a 40% charge on a small LG flip phone and only abut a 20% charge on a Palm Treo. The two-battery versions offer about twice the charge before draining the batteries.

Stay tuned tomorrow for a quick rundown of environmentally friendly wind-up gadgets that are useful for storm prep as well.

Today’s mitzvah: It’s tornado, hurricane, and flood season in the U.S. — and as I learned from our favorite reader in the Philippines, also typhoon season in some parts of the world. This makes it a good time to check your stock of water, batteries, and flashlights — as well as considering a weather radio if you don’t already have one.

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Monday, June 23, 2008

Help The Breast Cancer Site Earn a $10K Matching Grant

The Breast Cancer Site
The Breast Cancer Site is trying to reach 8 million clicks for June. If they reach this goal, one of their sponsors will donate an extra $10,000 for the site’s efforts to provide fee and low-cost mammograms to women without health insurance.

There is no cost to you: simply visit the site and click on the pink box. Advertisers make a small donation for each click — and this month your clicks do double duty by helping the site reach the additional $10,000 matching goal.

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Sunday, June 22, 2008

Sustainable "To-Go Ware" Instead of Plastic

A month ago I might have thought this was nutty. But after a week-long event where 2,000+ of us were fed three meals a day with disposable plastic plates and cutlery — and where I was wiping off my plastic fork and spoon and carrying them around in my bag all week because all the trash was really getting to me — heck, I carry a water bottle and I use a travel coffee mug, so “travel cutlery“ seems like the natural next step. If I end up spending a week grading AP exams at this event again next year, I’m putting this cool To-Go Ware CONSERVE Utensil Set in my survival kit.

Three things I especially like: The utensils are made of bamboo, which is a nice sustainable resource. The To-Go Ware company was founded by a then-college student who was alarmed by the growing disposable take-out culture around her and decided to do something about it — which BTW reminded me of last month’s post about the Eco-Clamshell, also the brainchild of a young female college student. And the little carrying bag is made by CONSERVE, an NGO in Delhi that employs otherwise unemployed women to collect discarded plastic bags and recycle them into into these utensil carriers. Neat idea, neat company, neat product.

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Photo © 2008 To-Go Ware®.

Friday, June 20, 2008

TerraCycle Happily Sells "Trash"

Here’s a reason to go to the mall today. On the always informative Budget Ecoist I read about a cool company called TerraCycle whose raison d’être is to produce eco-products that are made of trash and packaged in trash. They go out of their way to collect items that aren’t typically recycled, and then “upcycle” them into useful products: pencil cases and little totes made from used juice packs; a Plastic Bag Bag (made from plastic grocery bags); trashcans made of crushed, discarded computers and fax machines; and a line of plant food (their original product) and natural cleaning products packaged in upcycled one-liter soda bottles.

TerraCycle gets most of their material from elementary school drives (and pays the school per item). The spray tops are leftovers from other businesses; even their shipping boxes are misprints from other companies. They sell their goods in chain and “big box” stores where, realistically, most of America shops. While I have a one-woman Wal-Mart boycott that no amount of ecologically friendly products can change, I was pleased to see that TerraCycle is also in places like Home Depot, Office Max, and Target where I do sometimes shop.

Here’s a peppy little video highlighting their work.

To find out where to donate your wine corks, juice packs, and Nabisco cookie package wrappers; to start your own drive which will also earn some money for your school or charity; or to check out TerraCycle’s products, click here.

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Product image © 2008 Terracycle, Inc.

Thursday, June 19, 2008 Launches 350 Campaign

What’s 350? Dr. James Hansen, a NASA scientist, has calculated we need to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere to no more than 350 parts per million, if we want to to avoid catastrophic and irreparable harm to the planet. The good news: there’s still time. Just like high cholesterol or high blood pressure, a red flag number doesn’t mean the situation is hopeless but instead means it’s time to make changes. The 350 Campaign (which launched this week in eight languages) believes the first start is to get the number fixed in people’s heads (especially politicians’ heads), as a goal toward which to work — and at the same time working internationally to reduce dependence on coal and oil. (BTW, a reminder that today is Dump the Pump” Day.)

Here’s a video from the 350 Campaign, intentionally using pictures and music instead of words, in order to be accessible transnationally:

Today’s mitzvah: What can you do this week, this month, this year to reduce coal and oil use? This doesn’t require going off the grid; small actions matter too. Daily Mitzvah will post periodic “350 Thursday” ideas: I’d love to hear yours!

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Thursday, June 19: "Dump the Pump"

his month’s MPowering Madison newsletter reminded readers that Thursday is the third annual “Dump the Pump” Day in the United States, to help raise awareness about public transportation options. It’s especially timely this year, with gas prices soaring. But in any year it’s a handy reminder to try to take public transportation when possible. I know this is easier in some locations than others. (I’m totally spoiled by our public transit system. Why people drive in our city during rush hour is beyond me.) I wonder if a massive no-driving day would help with gas prices as well? It would certainly give the atmosphere a breather.

Today’s mtzvah: Can you dump the pump on Thursday? Some cities are even offering free rides on public transit. Here’s an iSearch list to get you started.

Update 12:00 pm: The
Money and Values blog took the time to compile a list of about 20 cities that are offering free rides on Thursday. Check it out, you might get lucky.

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A Wind-Up Remote (and Other Stuff I Want)

I found a cool store, which sadly for me is based in the UK not here. Ethical Superstore has a bazillion things I want. At the top of the list: a “wind-up” universal remote control. No more batteries, just turn the crank and this powers itself. (I am mad for all things wind-up: so far I have a wind-up radio, wind-up flashlight, and wind-up camping lamp.) This really intriguing store also has solar chargers for almost everything. And something called EcoBalls (below), which one can allegedly throw in the laundry instead of laundry soap.

I am off to see if I can locate any of this stuff from a U.S. vendor — with an envious nod to our UK readers! If I could find a way to ditch the remote batteries, charge my laptop and cell phone with solar, and do laundry without laundry detergent — not bad for a Tuesday! I’ll post back later in the week if I have success.

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Sunday, June 15, 2008

Cooling Down Summer Energy Use

My goal for the summer: I want to cut our electric usage by 10%. I switched us to “Green Power” a few months ago. But I know the air conditioner is my weakness. I hate being hot, and since I’m an apartment dweller I can’t replace the inefficient wall unit (like the ones in hotels) with a proper EnergyStar air conditioner. The power company reads our meter mid-month; last year’s mid-June reading was 276 kWh. That’s actually not too far above our 2007 average of 240 kWh/month. But I’d still like to get the amount for the summer bills lowered by 10%. (I chose a modest reduction since we traveled a lot last summer, which made our energy use lower than normal.)

Here’s where we’re starting. Meter reading dates:
  • June 2007: 276 kWh
  • July 2007: 236 kWh
  • August 2007: 476 kWh
  • September 2007: 232 kWh
Summer 2007 TOTAL: 1220 kWh. So we’ll be trying to reduce our bill by 122 kW over the course of the summer months. For now, it’s cool enough to turn off the A/C at night. But that will end soon — if anyone has tips (other than just being hot!), send ’em on over!

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Friday, June 13, 2008

How Green Were My Travels?

It's good to be home, even arriving back to tornado warnings, torrential downpours, and much of my state under water. After an extreme winter and now an extreme spring, it's hard not to assume this is a result of climate change.

If the weather didn't turn me greener, the past week at a surprisingly environmentally unfriendly event would have radicalized me by itself. I consider myself “light green” at best at home. But I was saddened to be in a group of 2500 people who were fed three meals and two snacks each day for a week, all with plastic plates, plastic cups, and plastic cutlery. Our teachers’ group really earned an F on environmental awareness. Here’s the bad, the ugly, and some rays of hope in the good.

The bad and ugly: about 7500 thick black plastic plates thrown away each day, or more than 52,000 plates for the week, just for the meals. Add to that the smaller plastic plates and bowls at meals and snacks, the plastic cups at each meal and snack, and the plastic utensils — I think we were over 100,000 for plastic dishes and utensils, and roughly 25,000 for plastic drinks cups and bottles of water. It’s beyond depressing. I hate committees but I’m going to have to volunteer for one to ensure this doesn't happen next year.

Any bright spots? I brought my empty water bottle through security and used it all week, and also brought a Baggu for my local shopping (thanks, EnviroMom for both tips!). I also remembered to throw a travel coffee mug in my bag at the last minute and I saw a lot of others who also brought their own mugs. Some people also brought their own plastic containers to make their meals to-go — which made me realize I could have brought camping stuff (or just my own reusable containers) to reduce my personal plastic consumption. I don’t think this would fly at a fancy conference but we were a bunch of teachers in shorts, t-shirts, and baseball caps scoring exams in a giant hall; eccentricity wasn’t really a problem. My own small solution was to re-use my fork, knife, and spoon all week. I just wiped them off and put them in a bag pocket and then washed them at the end of the day at the hotel. Weird, I know, but at least it kept 6o pieces of plastic cutlery out of the trash.

A few areas reminded me more of home. The convention center where we worked and ate had recycling bins for cans and plastic bottles. I stayed at a Hyatt that has instituted its own green plan, which was a relief. All the light fixtures in the room and even the bathroom had CFLs. They also place a card in the room noting that bed linens and towels will be changed “as needed” but not every day unless requested. It looked like my sheets were changed once during the week (which was just right); the used towels were changed a couple times. And I curbed my enthusiasm for all things tiny and didn’t use or purloin the little shampoo and lotion bottles (I just brought my own from home in small reusable travel containers).

Overall the week was a rough awakening. I get spoiled in my community where green thinking and actions are easy and abundant. I also realized the importance of stepping up. All week at our event people were aghast at how much plastic we were throwing out, and talked about it a lot, but no one was really proposing any solutions.

Today’s mitzvah: Do you keep noticing a bunch o’waste somewhere in your daily world? Consider making a suggestion for change — you’ll get lots of moral support here!

Bus photo courtesy of the Oxford & Chiltern Bus Page.

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Bed Nets for World Malaria Day (Vacation Rewind)

This is from my other blog, but it’s such a good cause I wanted to pop it in as a vacation rewind (original post: April 25, 2008).

Got 5 bucks? That’s all it takes to contribute a malaria-fighting bed net for a person in a vulnerable country. April 25 is World Malaria Day — a perfect day to head over to, give $5, and add oneself to their Honor Roll. Check it out!

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

FEED 100 Bags = 100 School Lunches in Rwanda (Vacation Rewind)

Soaring fuel and grain prices have meant cuts in UN World Food Programme activities, so I wanted to include these neat bags as a vacation rewind. Original post: May 12, 2008.

OK, I have to say it: I love this bag, and the idea behind it. A sustainable burlap pouch unzips to reveal a very soft white organic cotton tote (nice fabric), with some silk screened lettering that suggests CARE package labeling. But it’s also more than a tote: each purchase funds 100 lunches in the UN World Food Programme’s school lunch program in Rwanda.

The bags aren’t super cheap, and this is a Whole Foods-exclusive product (I try not to promote specific companies or stores on the blog, but sometimes the product makes me break my own rules). The cool thing, though: Whole Foods’ goal is to fund the UNWFP’s entire school lunch program in Rwanda for 2008, primarily through the sale of these bags. You can learn more about the program and see bag photos here. The bags are a bit pricey: $29.95 at my local store. But I thougt it was worth it to buy lunch for 100 kids. I’m also considering these as gifts for some upcoming birthdays: a nice combo of a cool tote bag and being able to tell the recipient they just bought lunch for 100 very sweet children. (Of course, I just blew the surprise for friends and family who have summer birthdays!)

Today’s mitzvah: Check out the cool bags. You can also always help the UN World Food Programme at no cost by playing our favorite vocabulary game over at Free Rice.

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Monkeys! (Vacation Rewind)

Why? How could you not love that face! Vacation rewind from January 28, 2008.

OK, technically that should be “primates” or chimpanzees. But it was just too much fun typing Monkeys!

As part of the ongoing Animal Week here on the blog, today I want to give a shout out to the Jane Goodall Institute, which since 1977 has focused on education, conservation and development, and wildlife research, as well as its best-known projects, the Chimpanzee Sanctuaries in various parts of Africa. As our friends at Care2 note, “from fostering micro-businesses in Tanzania to educating young people about conservation, the Institute’s programs make the world a better place for people, animals, and the environment.” Even in the midst of a manic Monday (I know, I’m having one, too), you can support the Goodall Institute with a free click on Care2’s Race to Save the Primates. Free to you, the site sponsors make a donation for the Goodall Institute’s chimp protection programs for each click.

Today’s mitzvah:
Try a free click to aid in primate protection — and get a pick-me-up with some very cute chimp photos!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Animal Week (Vacation Rewind)

This was the first blog post after I enabled comments — plus I love any excuse to show the popular Miss Jazzy! Vacation rewind from January 29, 2008.

As promised, heeeeere’s Jazzy!
This adorable young lady, who inspired Daily Mitzvah’s Animal Week, lives with two of my favorite family members. But Jazzy was not always so happy. As one of her humans told me, shelter workers
found Jazzy and her brother hiding under a bush one winter day. When we brought her home, she had a severe case of worms, and Parvo, and had to be quarantined until she got better.” While Jazzy is happy and healthy now, she still has to follow a special diet.

It’s easy to help people who help animals like Jazzy, even in the midst of our very busy lives. Shopping online this week? By using a portal like Nonprofit Shopping Mall to visit favorite stores (Amazon, Target, Macy's, Office Depot, and many more), a portion of your purchase is donated to a nonprofit you designate, with choices including the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and the Humane Society of the United States. Or try the shops that link through iGive, which allows you to keep track of donations and even provides receipts for taxes. Pressed for time (or cash)? For every click on the Animal Rescue Site, sponsors will make a small donation to Cleveland Amory’s Fund for Animals, (a group that works with pets during natural disasters), and the North Shore Animal League.

Today’s mitzvah: Wave hi to Jazzy, and pop over to the Animal Rescue Site for a free click-to-give.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Save Darfur (Vacation Rewind)

This post was overshadowed by the earthquake emergency in China, so I thought this was a good choice for a “vacation rewind.” Original posting date: 5/15/2008.

oday is Blog Catalog’s “Bloggers Unite for Human Rights” day, which is certainly timely. After weighing several different topic ideas, I’m going to use my post to urge the United Nations to take action in Darfur. From Human Rights Watch:

“The conflict in Darfur is in its fifth year. Sudanese soldiers and government-backed militias have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur by waging a campaign of “ethnic cleansing” and forced displacement by bombing and burning villages, killing civilians, and raping women. An estimated 2.5 million people have been forced from their homes and at least 200,000 are dead as a result of the violence. These attacks continue to take place today.

“A hybrid United Nations/African Union Peacekeeping force for Darfur was authorized in July 2007. However, because of obstruction by the Sudanese government, barely one-third of the force has been deployed . . . Sudan has repeatedly stated its refusal to cooperate with the Court or hand over the suspects. No senior government official has been made subject to targeted UN sanctions in relation to the events in Darfur.”
The situation in Darfur can often feel overwhelming. Yet anyone can join in pressuring the United Nations to take specific action to deploy the remaining 2/3 of the authorized peacekeeping force.
  • Human Rights Watch has an editable message, for sending via email or printing in letter form, as well as auto-links to the ambassadors of all Security Council members.

  • Not a letter writer? Save Darfur offers information on divesting from mutual funds that own stock in companies that help fund genocide in Darfur. (First Lady-hopeful Cindy McCain just divested $2 million of her own holdings in mutual funds with ties to Sudan.)

Today’s mitzvah:
Take action for Darfur.

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Saturday, June 7, 2008

Bag the Plastic Bags (Vacation Rewind)

When I drive (car sharing), I actually use cool flat-bottom bags from our local employee-owned grocery. But for 90% of my shopping trips I’m on the bus or on foot, and never without my Baggus! Vacation rewind from February 21, 2008.

The Third Thursday in Lent

“Snub plastic bags. Get into the habit of taking your rucksack to the supermarket or go retro with a trolley. Ask your supermarket to remove unnecessary packaging.”

Of course, I’m using the British version of the Carbon Fast for Lent just so I can type words like rucksack and trolley . . .

When I learned the local Whole Foods will no longer provide bags when one buys groceries, I had mixed feelings. I actually do re-use all our grocery bags: plastic bags as our trashcan liners, and paper bags for the recycling. But I’m warming to the no-plastic bag concept from an environmental perspective. No idea what I’ll do for free trashbags, but I’m on the lookout for cool reusable bags that will fold down very small so I can keep ’em with me (like the Baggu bags pictured here, which fold up into their own neat little pouch. They’re also available on Amazon — if you buy them through Amazon’s link on Nonprofit Shopping Mall, your favorite charity will get a little rebate to boot, in a happy double mitzvah). Any ideas for cool reusable bags? Drop me a line or a link!

Today’s mitzvah: All things in moderation. Swap out one or two plastic bags with something reusable (or even better, reusable and recycled) at the next grocery trip.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Even More Dance Party Friday

I can’t get enough of these. You know the drill. If it’s a slow day on the 5:30 a.m. Traffic Report, Cincinnati will dance. In this installment, even vacation can’t keep Dancin’ Bob away from Channel 12’s . . . Dance Party Friday!

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Thursday, June 5, 2008

Green Your Electric Bill (Vacation Rewind)

More and more utilities are offering “green power” options for a fee (ours adds only 2% to the bill each month). Here’s a vacation rewind. Original posting date 2/19/2008.

The Second Tuesday in Lent

“Put the heat on your electricity or gas suppliers and ask them if they have a green plan. Make the switch and feel cosy.” —The Carbon Fast for Lent

Our local power company does indeed offer a “green plan,” which I blogged about last month. It’s a complicated scheme: one pays extra each month basically to help underwrite the utility’s acquisition of energy produced on several regional wind farms, as well as a smaller amount of solar. Energy from renewable resources like these is more expensive than fossil-fuel based power, hence the surcharge. MG&E promotes the surcharge as a way for consumers to offset 100% of the carbon produced by their own household power use.

I wish it was possible simply to switch the apartment over to solar or wind power, instead of using this circuitous offset route which, no doubt, provides financial benefits for the utility. But the cost is only $6 for an average household using 600 kWh/month — I just looked at a recent bill and we use substantially less than this — and these contributions supposedly help increase the percentage of renewable energy in the utility’s energy mix. So I am almost convinced and will check this out again. Watch this space for updates.

Today’s mitzvah:
Does your utility offer a "green plan"? Check out their web site — and let me know what you decide!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Welcome to Daily Mitzvah! (Vacation Rewind)

When I started this blog I had no idea I would meet so many people and get to connect with so many wonderful readers. Vacation rewind to the very first Daily Mitzvah post, November 17, 2007.

Hello and welcome to my first Daily Mitzvah blog post! My goal is to post a mitzvah (good deed) each day for one year. Why? So often we want to say thank you, or want to give back, or are just bored and need something quick, easy, and inspiring to transform our day. But not sure what to do, the impulse passes, and we’re back to the daily grind.

Daily Mitzvah will feature things you can do, today, to make a small difference in a big world. The blog will feature free or low-cost ideas -- it's not about spending money. I hope you'll visit Daily Mitzvah whenever you need a lift!

Today I am all about Kiva, the terrific organization that allows individuals to help fund microloans to low-income entrepreneurs around the world. You'll see a changing photo of a Kiva entrepreneur on the right side of the blog each day. For as little as US $25, anyone can help fund a Kiva microloan. I am currently participating in microloans to two terrific female entrepreneurs: Mabel in Benin City, Nigeria, who sells soft drinks and pepper soup to neighbors and travelers; and Eang in rural Cambodia (above), who runs a small outdoor grocery in front of her home.

I first became interested in microcredit when Muhammad Yunus and the Grameen Bank won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006. And now thanks to Kiva, anyone can get involved as a mirocredit lender.

Today's mitzvah: check out Kiva

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