A simple step you can take — Join Freecycle

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About ‘freecycling’ and The Freecycle Network

Freeycling is a worldwide grassroots movement of people banding together to recycle items by giving them away for free.

While there are a number of different freecycling groups around the world, the largest and oldest is The Freecycle Network, sometimes called TFN. TFN has groups all across America and around the world, including active groups in France, Australia and Canada.

The idea is simple. If you have something you want to get rid of, it’s better to give it to someone else that it is to dump it in a landfill. And if you need to buy something, freecycling gives you an opportunity to get it for free — which not only saves you money, it reduces your environmental impact since you consume less.

How to Join In

Joining freecycle is easy and will save you money. Here’s how:

1. First, go to freecycle.org and enter the local area where you live.

2. You’ll be presented with a list of towns near you that have Freecycle groups. If you don’t see one close, you can create one yourself.

You should check out a few different groups — the one closest to you may have only a few members while one a bit further away may be much busier. For example, one near me had only 5 recent offers while another had over 100. I joined both.

The Freecycle Network runs on Yahoo Groups currently, so you’ll need a Yahoo id to join.

3. You should review each group’s page and read the rules for that group, then join.

After you select a group to view, you’ll be presented with the Yahoo page for that group. The page will tell you how many members the group has as well as how many new posts there have been in the last 7 days. Here’s an example:

One of the other things on this page you should read are the rules for the group. The Freecycle Network group has a US-based headquarters group that establishes a set of rules each group must follow — or risk losing being kicked out of The Freecycle Network. These rules are generally common sense anyway and, in most cases, can be modified by local groups to fit what the local members want.

For example, in the group we picked above, here are the rules (taken from the page shown above):

Join the Freecycle(TM) movement! The Lawrence Freecycle Network www.lifeinlawrence.com is a group of Larryville residents who want to “recycle” that special something rather than throw it away. Use this email list to post a message about usable items that you’d like to give away. Everything posted must be FREE and legal. No politics, religion, advertising or spam. No trading or bartering. No pets.

Lawrence Freecycle serves the Lawrence, Kansas area and people living in neighboring towns who are willing to travel to pick up items.

This group is part of The Freecycle Network, a nonprofit organization and a movement of people interested in keeping good stuff out of landfills. Check out freecycle.org for other cities and info on the movement.

As you can see, the rules aren’t onerous and there are good reasons for them. They’re basically meant to keep out people trying to sell items or who want to send spam to the group’s members.

Some local groups allow pets to be offered to the group, and some don’t. (I saw one group with a post offering a full-blooded Golden Retriever because its owners both had jobs and couldn’t take care of it.) Other groups don’t allow pets due to concerns that people may take the pets and sell them for medical research, use them for gaming/fighting, or abuse them in other ways.

To join, you simply click on the ‘Join this Group’ button on the page. This will send your request to the moderators of the local group who will then respond and approve your request. In my case, I joined 2 groups — the first responded in about 10 minutes and the second took about an hour.

Once you’ve joined the group it’s like interacting with any other Yahoo group. You will receive e-mails (either individual e-mails or a once a day summary) whenever one of the group members posts an item and you can go to the group’s page and review old items posted.

So that’s it! You’re now a member of a fast-growing, world wide recycling movement! Great work!

Other Options

In addition to The Freecycle Network, there are other similar groups. Among them are FreeSharing.org, Sharing is Giving, and FreeCycleAmerica.

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A Simple Step You Can Take: Install a Low Flow Shower Head

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If you’re like most Americans, you probably take a shower every day.

Unless you’re already using a low-flow shower head, you have an opportunity to save some money in addition to cutting back on your family’s environmental impact.

Low Flow Shower Heads are designed to restrict water flow while providing a good shower. We found one at the Real Goods store for $12.00 that they claim will save you 50-70% of your water usage (which for a family of 4 could be up to $25/year in savings).

In terms of Carbon savings, according to this analysis by Environmental Defense, a single low-flow shower head could save over 350 pounds of carbon from entering the atmosphere.

I installed one of these recently and it took only about 5 minutes. I purchased the shower head and some “plumber’s tape” for under $10 at Walmart, and I used only a pair of pliers to do the installation.

The water pressure is only a little less that my old shower head and it works fine. After using it a few times now, I don’t even notice a difference.

Overall, it was an easy project with a nice payback — and an easy way to cut down the energy my family uses.

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Black is the New Green: 10 Energy Saving Search Sites

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Black is the New Green.

At least, that’s the message of a movement sometimes referred to as Black Google.

The idea first appeared in a January 20th blog post by Mark Ontkush, where he examines how much energy could potentially be saved if Google’s background was black instead of white.

His findings? If Google, and only Google, were to change their background color to black, the world could save somewhere around 3,000 Megawatt-hours per year!

The post eventually rose to the top of Digg, and was followed up with another, and more complete, article that explains the science and the numbers behind the
idea.

How Does It Work?

Basically, computer monitors, especially the big clunky CRT monitors that take up most of your desk, consume more energy when the screen is white than when the screen is black. This has been shown to be true of CRT’s, LCD’s, and plasma displays, although the different technologies vary in power consumption.

As Ontkush points out, the savings is “a goodly amount of energy and dollars for changing a few color codes.”

So Why Aren’t All Websites Black?

So why don’t web designers just do it and save us all that energy and money? It’s been shown that people will spend more time at a site done up in warm and welcoming colors than they will one that is primarily dark. What it comes down to is changing peoples’ expectations about how their screen should look.

Adjusting peoples’ expectations is always a difficult thing, but what if we began in the office instead of on he web? In the world of corporate and government organizations, where most of us sit at least 40 hours a week, we use the computer on ‘their’ terms. What would happen if these organizations simply started defaulting the screen to black instead of white?

What You Can Do NOW.

So what do we do while we’re waiting for the corporate IT guru’s to make our screens more environmentally friendly? We can begin changing our own expectations. As with anything habit forming, we’re best off starting small. Several alternative Google search pages use Google’s search technology on a dark screen. Personalized search site, Blacklys.com, even offers a Firefox search add-on.

Social Networking sites now offer the ability change your preferences; why not change your color scheme? Sites like Twitter and MySpace, and Facebook actually encourage customization.

These are little things when we compare our impact to that of Google, but little things add up. The only way to save the energy, the money, and the environmental impact, is if we each make the choice.

Alternative Google search sites:

[via ecoIron blog]

  1. Darkoogle, uses a black background with green text.
  2. Earthle
  3. GreenerGle
  4. Greygle, uses a grey background.
  5. Google Black, is a website hosted by the Google-owned blogspot, however the search results are not in black.
  6. Jabago, uses a black background and allows for searching in many languages.
  7. Ninja
  8. Power Google
  9. Searchincolor.com, an older site that supports Google colored searches since its onset. The default color is black.
  10. Trek Black

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How Peanut Butter helps the planet

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One of the daily decisions we all face is what to eat. How do we eat well and in a way that’s good for the environment — and at the same time have meals that are easy to fix and taste good?

One food that fits all this is the simple Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich. According to the PB&J Campaign website:

  • Eating a Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich instead of a grilled cheese or chicken sandwich saves 2.5 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions. That’s almost half of what you’d save if you switched to a Hybrid car.
  • The same sandwich will save 280 gallons of water since growing peanuts takes less water than livestock.
  • Growing peanuts also takes less land than animals — so your sandwich could help preserve 12-50 square feet of land from being used for cultivation.

I bet you didn’t realize that eating three Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches could have the same environmental impact as switching your showers to a low-flow shower head.

This is the type of information we want to share. How can we change our daily habits to have less environmental impact in ways that fit our busy lives? This one is simple. Eat more peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Plus, they taste good and cost less.

In addition to being better for the environment, they’re also very healthy as long as you don’t eat too much. According to WebMD, peanut butter is high in fat, but those fats are relatively healthy ones. Everyone needs some fat in their diets — just not too much — and over 80% of the fats in peanut butter are the healthy kind.

According to the WebMD article, “It is hard to believe that something so wonderful could also be good for you.” Peanut butter “is chock full of good nutrition without those unhealthy trans fatty acids. The only limitation to enjoying peanut butter is the two-tablespoon portion size”

But what about all the fat and the less-healthy oils that sometimes get processed into commercial peanut butter? Does that make it bad? According to Leslie Bonci, director of sports nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, that isn’t always the case. “Fresh ground is not necessarily better,” Bonci says. “The fat and calorie content are pretty much the same whether you grind your own or buy commercial peanut butter.”

Again, according to Bonci, the serving size is 2 tablespoons.

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Make It Real

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We can all envision the world as a better place. Each of us can imagine a better life — better government, better living habits, better environment. We can all imagine these — but can we make them real?

“When you do nothing, you feel overwhelmed and powerless. But when you get involved, you feel the sense of hope and accomplishment that comes from knowing you are working to make things better.”

–Pauline R. Kezer

Many of the challenges of the 21st Century will be big. Issues like Global Climate Change can seem so overwhelming. They can make you feel powerless. But there is still always hope.

“It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.”

– Sir Edmund Hillary (New Zealand-born mountain climber and Antarctic Explorer. Famous for being first to successfully climb Mount Everest)

So take the better world of your imagination, and take a step today toward that place. Take some sort of action. Talk to someone, change a personal habit, write a letter. Do something.

Or better yet, join with a group of others who are like-minded. Commenting on this blog or others like it is a good way to start — its connects you with other people who, like you, have this better world in mind.

Remember, you as an individual can change the world — there are examples of the power of individuals everywhere. But banding together with others who are like-minded can magnify your impact.

So take a step today — a small step or a large step — but take some step. Take a step toward making the better world of your imagination real.

“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.”

– Lao Tzu (Chinese taoist Philosopher, founder of Taoism)

The 21st Century is here. The world is in our hands — and we are up to the challenges we face, I know it.

But to get to the better world of our imagination, we need to begin. We need to begin to make it real.

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A Simple Step You Can Take: View a Comparison between LED Lights and CFL Lights

Here’s a great youtube video that shows a comparison between regular light bulbs, Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL) bulbs and newer, super efficient LED light bulbs. Based on comments left on the site, I know that our readers are interested in learning more on LED Light bulbs.

This video provides a very simple comparison that’s easy to understand. What you’ll see is how dramatic the differences in energy uses are. You’ll also see a bit about the differences in types of light they give off.



A simple step you can take: Love Each Other!

Love XOXO, originally uploaded by Pink Sherbet Photography.

A lot of the time blogging (and reading) about environmental issues and global climate change can be depressing. So let’s lighten up today and talk about love.

In the end, it’s love for each other — and those close to us — that will motivate us to make the changes we need to make. It’s love that helps us put the good of others before our own wants and desires. It’s love for future generations (our grandchildren included!) that drives us to leave the world in good shape for them.

So today, focus on love. Focus on being loving and remembering those who love you.

Because when you love other people, you don’t mind so much making changes in your own life to make their lives better.

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