Jan 24th – Call your energy company and request an efficiency evaluation for your home.

Our provider is So Cal Edison, who has a fantastic program.  In Los Angeles, LADWP does it as well, and did an evaluation of our last home.  At no cost, they will come to your house and assess the energy efficiency in your home including  appliances such as your AC, heater, refrigerator, dishwasher, etc. and recommend energy saving ideas for you.  In some cases (though not all) you may even qualify for new appliances or other complimentary products such as energy efficient light bulbs or shower heads/faucet aerators.

Jan 23nd – Donate $5 to education today.

If you do not have $5, consider $1, if you have more, consider more.  Whether you have kids or not, someday, the same children who are receiving their education now, will be running the country for us while we are growing our grey hairs.  They are our future and while grooming the next generation takes much more than $5, if everyone gave an extra five dollars, what a difference it could make.

If you have your own special place to give your $5, great!  There are tons of great causes, including your own child’s classroom, if you prefer.  If you do not have a set place, there is DonorsChoose.org, which is a cool website where teachers put out a need and you, as a donor, can read the various projects/needs and choose where you would like to help.  The first time I looked at this website and I was amazed at two things… 1) Some really great projects that were going on and 2) How some schools clearly lack necessary funding given the very basic items that were being requested.  I have another personal favorite, School on Wheels, an organization that provides tutoring for homeless children, but choose what’s right for you.

Support our kids and let them know we value them.

Jan 22nd – Wash your dishes with an eco-friendly detergent.

I just discovered Planet Ultra Dishwashing Liquid, and Seventh Generation Automatic Dishwasher Powder, Free and Clear for the dishwasher, but there are a number of good ones on the market.  Also consider using 1/2 the amount you typically use, or dilute the solution to lessen amounts going in our water system.

There is a great resource from the EPA called Design for the Environment where you can check out products that perform well, are cost-effective and safer for the environment.  Go to:  http://www.epa.gov/dfe/

I also mentioned previously that you can check ewg.org, here is their list of the best ones:  http://www.ewg.org/guides/categories/5-Dishwashing?grade=a

You can purchase the above items at Soap.com and/or you can get most things at Whole Foods.

On a separate note, I apologize for any confusion on yesterday’s ‘change’ and my misspelling… hopefully you all meditated and didn’t get into any crazy mediating… we’ll save that for another day ;).

Jan 21st – Meditate for at least 20 minutes.

I simply need to do this more.  Meditating is an incredible tool that is often forgotten and put last on a list of things to do as you get caught up in a day, yet it is has amazing benefits and results that if we all did it, I have no doubt, would better humankind as a whole.  It is often the means to the clarity and the answers you need – even the answers you do not realize you need to find.  The Mayo Clinic outlines some of the emotional benefits of meditation to include:

  • Gaining a new perspective on stressful situations
  • Building skills to manage your stress
  • Increasing self-awareness
  • Focusing on the present
  • Reducing negative emotions

They also outline some ways you can practice meditation on your own (be sure to be in a quiet setting, a comfortable position, relax your breathing and focus your attention):

    • Breathe deeply. This technique is good for beginners because breathing is a natural function. Focus all attention on your breathing. Concentrate on feeling and listening as you inhale and exhale through your nostrils. Breathe deeply and slowly. When your attention wanders, gently return your focus to your breathing.
    • Scan your body. When using this technique, focus attention on different parts of your body. Become aware of your body’s various sensations, whether that’s pain, tension, warmth or relaxation. Combine body scanning with breathing exercises and imagine breathing heat or relaxation into and out of different parts of your body.
    • Repeat a mantra. You can create your own mantra, whether it’s religious or secular. Examples of religious mantras include the Jesus Prayer in the Christian tradition, the holy name of God in Judaism, or the om mantra of Hinduism, Buddhism and other Eastern religions.
    • Walk and meditate. Combining a walk with meditation is an efficient and healthy way to relax. You can use this technique anywhere you’re walking — in a tranquil forest, on a city sidewalk or at the mall. When you use this method, slow down the pace of walking so that you can focus on each movement of your legs or feet. Don’t focus on a particular destination. Concentrate on your legs and feet, repeating action words in your mind such as lifting, moving and placing as you lift each foot, move your leg forward and place your foot on the ground.
    • Engage in prayer. Prayer is the best known and most widely practiced example of meditation. Spoken and written prayers are found in most faith traditions. You can pray using your own words or read prayers written by others. Check the self-help or 12-step-recovery section of your local bookstore for examples. Talk with your rabbi, priest, pastor or other spiritual leader about resources.
    • Read and reflect. Many people report that they benefit from reading poems or sacred texts, and taking a few moments to quietly reflect on their meaning. You also can listen to sacred music, spoken words or any music you find relaxing or inspiring. You may want to write your reflections in a journal or discuss them with a friend or spiritual leader.
    • Focus your love and gratitude. In this type of meditation, you focus your attention on a sacred object or being, weaving feelings of love and gratitude into your thoughts. You can also close your eyes and use your imagination or gaze at representations of the object.

Jan 20th – Unplug all electrical devices and appliances while not in use, and cut down on vampire energy.

Phantom loads, vampire energy, standby power, whatever you want to call it, the result is wasted, leaking energy that is being used while your electronics are off and go into a ‘standby’ mode if they are not completely unplugged; items such as your TV, IT equipment, microwave, chargers, coffee maker and clock radio to name a few of the villains.  Your television may actually be consuming more electricity during the hours is it not in use than in the time you spend watching it.

Just how much is leaking?  I have read varying numbers including an average of $200/yr added to your annual energy bill (Cornell University) to a total cost for consumers of more than $3 billion a year in the US (Energy Information Administration).

The easiest solution is using a Smart Strip power strip, which automatically turns off electricity to all the thing you don’t need.  Or even using a power strip rather than unplugging every last electrical device in your home.  As well, putting your computer on Sleep mode saves energy, and qualified ENERGY STAR products use less energy in standby mode.

Quick video for a brief explanation:  http://electronics.howstuffworks.com/everyday-tech/vampire-power.htm

If you happen to have a Kill-A-Watt, check it out and see how much energy you can save!

Jan 19th – Get educated and calculate your eco footprint at www.ecofoot.org or www.myfootprint.org.

Knowledge is power… and this can be a wake-up call, depending on your footprint results.  While this may not be a ‘change’, I think it is helpful to understand why living more sustainably is important.

Make it a goal to go down by an ‘earth’ or two, or three, or more!

Jan 18th – Support a small business merchant today.

Consider getting your coffee at a local coffee shop, pick-up a goodie at a neighborhood bakery or cupcake shop, treat yourself to a cute new shirt at a local boutique, maybe find a fun activity or class that you have wanted to take in your community.

There is something good about strengthening the community around you, and supporting them.  I am a firm believer that in our democratic society, our dollars spent are our greatest vote, so go out and vote for a business you appreciate and want to stay in the neighborhood.