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.

Jan 17th – Investigate how to obtain, or go buy, a compost today… or get a “green bin” through your city.

This has been on my list for a long time.  With Spring/summer on their way, I am going to get my compost now, so that hopefully I will have some great soil to use for planting when it starts to warm up.

There are amazing options to compost, even “odorless” ones for condo’s and apartments.  Many towns/cities offer free composting classes and the ability to buy composts at a discount, so it’s worth looking into if you are up for this ‘change’ today.  If you google ‘composting’ and where you live you should be able to find some information.  If you live in LA, here’s the info… http://san.lacity.org/solid_resources/recycling/composting/

If you are not up for the task of having your own compost, foods such as fruits, veggies, coffee grounds and grains (no animal based foods) can go in your green bin (where you put your grass clippings/leaves, etc.).

According to a report on CBS Sunday Morning, it is estimated that up to 40% of food produced in the US goes right to the trash, and according to the EPA, yard trimmings and food residuals together constitute 23% of US municipal solid waste stream.  What a difference in our landfills if we composted instead.

Helpful website on composting info… http://www.composting101.com

Jan 16th – Let 3 people go in front of you today and pay it forward.

Open the door for someone, let them pass in front of you in the car lane, hold the door open at the elevator.  Simple things to be more kind is good for all of humankind… and I believe in karma.

And if someone seems rushed and unappreciative, remember, we have no idea what is going on at that moment in their day… just be thankful that you have the time, self-worth, and physical, mental and emotional ability to do something good such as this.

Jan 15th – Create a zero-waste lunch today.

What is a zero-waste lunch? Just as it implies, nothing is wasted and thrown in the trash – all items are either eaten, composted, reused or as a last resort, recycled.

If you want to spend the cash for a sit-down lunch (with no throw away packaging), no problem, but that can get expensive and time-consuming especially if you are pressed for a quick lunch.  Packing lunch for the day can be your healthiest and most cost effective option.  Start with a reusable bag or box in which to pack it; utensils that can preferably be washed and used again (vs. recycling plastic forks and spooks), a reusable water bottle and containers to hold your food (Bento boxes and things like LaptopLunches are fun, but any reusable containers will do), a cloth napkin, and just the right amount of yummy food and drink to fill it up.

According to Nubius Organics, over 50% of items thrown away each day come from food waste and food packaging.  Your zero-waste lunch makes a difference.

Find more GREAT information on waste reduction at: http://www.calrecycle.ca.gov/ReduceWaste/

Jan 14th – Turn off any lights that are not absolutely necessary. Have a romantic dinner by candlelight?

Easy to do, easy to forget. Needless to say, it saves energy.

The amount of energy and money saved differs depending on what types of bulbs are being used (Incandescent (no!), Halogen, CFL, LED).  Ironically, CFL (compact fluorescent light) lighting is beneficial to be left on if it is going to be fewer that 15 minutes, but that affects the longevity of the bulb, though it still saves energy simply being off.  So it seems the best solution to avoid having to think about this would be to just keep all of them off as much and as long as possible.

We might go really crazy and try to keep all lights off today!

If you want to get an exact calculation of the cost/dollar amount you can save, there is a fun calculator at:   http://www.csgnetwork.com/elecenergycalcs.html

Also, you can read more about turning lights off at:  http://energy.gov/energysaver/articles/when-turn-your-lights

Jan 13th – Refrain from using any paper towels today.

This is startling, but 51,000 trees are cut down EVERY DAY to make paper towels. 13 BILLION pounds of paper towels are used in the U.S. every year.  If every American used just one less paper towel a day, we would save 571,230,000 pounds of paper in one year.  These numbers are astonishing and this is an easy “change” to do.  Some ideas to share:

  • Wipe your hands on your pants to dry (best solution esp. when you are out!)
  • Use rags at home instead of paper towels to clean hands and messes
  • Check out these two videos on ideas of how to better our habit…

-Cool idea called Jimmy Towel just got funded through KickStarter.com (a new product they are going to produce in the U.S., yay!) great video:  http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/166525302/jimmy-pocket-towel-saves-trees-and-reduces-waste

– Joe Smith, Lawyer, active figure in the Oregon community, and advocate of proper use of paper towels, shared some of the above listed statistics in his TEDxConcordiaUPortland speech in March of 2012 http://www.ted.com/talks/joe_smith_how_to_use_a_paper_towel.html

Jan 12th – Do an activity out in nature.

Hopefully the weather agrees with our ‘change’ today!  Enjoy a moment outside and following yesterday’s One Change Daily of remembering how lucky we are to be human, remind yourself today how lucky we are to have nature and the gifts of a blue sky, green grass, and fresh air to breath.  Doing the activity you choose should require you to take a few extra deep breaths, taking in additional oxygen, making you more alert as you admire your surroundings… it can be rejuvenating.