Mar 8th – Eat at a local independently owned restaurant today.

Doing so is a plus in a number of ways…

  • You are supporting your local community, neighbors, and your local economy.
  • Independent restaurants are more likely to make food from scratch.
  • You can most likely talk to the owners if you would like to find out more about the food you are eating (where it came from, if it is organic or locally grown, etc) and if you would like to make special requests such as having organic and sustainable food options on their menu.

Bon appetit!

Mar 7th – Consider putting some of your dollars to Microfinance to help in alleviating poverty.

This is rather new to me, but a really neat idea.  Microfinance is generally understood as a a means to help offer poor or low-income clients all over the world sustainable financial services.  Some organizations allow you to lend as little as $20 or $25.  There are a few organizations that you may like to check out that I learned about from Sustainable Works, and organization based in Santa Monica, CA who promote environmental education and action:

Note:  the explanation of each organization in quotes below came from the individual websites.

Microplace – http://www.microplace.com – “MicroPlace is a brokerage platform where you can invest in companies that are creating a positive social impact in the U.S. and abroad and that offer a financial return to you.  We connect you with organizations called issuers who offer short-term notes that you can purchase. Issuers use the proceeds to help develop communities, support women, promote fair trade, provide affordable housing, conserve land and water, promote health, support green causes, and more.  MicroPlace is a brokerage platform where you can invest in companies that are creating a positive social impact in the U.S. and abroad and that offer a financial return to you.  You can earn a 0.5 to 4.5% return on your investments, which mature in 3 months to 5 years. Interest will be paid quarterly or as otherwise noted and the principal is repaid at maturity. The minimum you can invest is $20.00.”

FINCA – http://www.villagebanking.org – “FINCA’s mission is to provide financial services to the world’s lowest-income entrepreneurs so they can create jobs, build assets and improve their standard of living.  FINCA operates in 21 countries on 5 continents, serving nearly one million clients.”

GlobalGiving – http://www.globalgiving.com – “GlobalGiving is a charity fundraising web site that gives social entrepreneurs and non-profits from anywhere in the world a chance to raise the money that they need to improve their communities. Since 2002, GlobalGiving has raised $79,709,444 from 311,153 donors who have supported 7,360 projects.”

Grameen Foundation – http://www.grameenfoundation.org – “Grameen Foundation helps the world’s poorest, especially women, improve their lives and escape poverty by helping to provide access to appropriate financial services (such as small loans and savings accounts), new ways to generate income, and important information about their health, crops and finances.”

Kiva – http://www.kiva.org – “We are a non-profit organization with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty. Leveraging the internet and a worldwide network of microfinance institutions, Kiva lets individuals lend as little as $25 to help create opportunity around the world.”

Mar 6th – If you need to stock up on printer or sketch paper, buy recycled.

I need a new sketchpad, and what better excuse to use my consumer dollars than on closing the sustainability loop by buying recycled paper.  It’s great to recycle, but we also need to participate in the other end of recycling… buying the recycled goods.  At times the recycled items may be a few dollars more, in this case with my sketchpad, it is actually LESS expensive.  And while the quality is marginally different for this particular pad, it will not affect me in any significant way.  In the case of recycled print paper, the difference in quality from non recycled is insignificant and unnoticeable.  So get the good stuff, and by that I mean, the trash turned new :).

Mar 5th – Take a 3 minute shower.

Go military style today and take a 3 minute shower to conserve water.  Current standard shower heads use 2.5 gallons of water per minute.  If you have a water efficient shower head, the amount will obviously be lower, possibly 2 gallons per minutes.  With a standard shower head, taking a ten minute shower uses 25 gallons of water as opposed to 7.5 gallons for a 3 minute shower… or even a 5 minute shower that is 12.5 gallons.

The difference is an even greater difference if there are several of you under one roof.  For a family of four, if each person took a 10 minute shower, it adds up to 100 gallons of water to bath 4 bodies, as opposed to 30 gallons.  Imagine if a family did that for a full year?  Four people at 10 minute showers adds up to 36,500 gal per yr.  If those same four people took a 3 minute shower, it would only be 10,950 gallons…  saving 25,000 gallons per yr. (to give you an idea, that is  5,000 more gallons than the amount of water than fits into a 30′ Round pool at 44″ water height).

Coming soon… take a cold shower to conserve energy… haha ;).

Mar 3rd – Do what you know is the right thing to do… in all that you do today.

Today’s change is inspired by a recent story I heard from CNN of Billy Ray Harris, a homeless man who returned a woman’s diamond engagement ring, that she had accidentally dropped it in his donation cup.  The article talked of karma because money is being raised for his good deed, which will be given to him (currently over $173,000).  At the heart of this story, two people were simply doing everyday gestures that in their heart and mind were the right thing to do – she gave money to someone who needs the help, and he returned something to it’s rightful owner.

I love hearing stories of generosity, people giving without effort or acknowledgement to those who need it, and the fundraising is certainly a wonderful sentiment.  What struck me though, is what Mr. Harris had to say when asked about getting so much attention and the reward for his deed…

…”I like it, but I don’t think I deserve it,” he said.

“What I actually feel like is, ‘what has the world come to when a person who returns something that doesn’t belong to him and all this happens?'” Harris said.

Mr. Harris has a valid point.  Imagine if everyone did the right thing, just because it is the right thing to do?  It really would be mind-blowing.

Mar 2nd – When eating take-out, take the extra time to clean your packaging and put it into recycling rather than in the trash.

It is so much easier to opt for the trash with your plate, scraps and the packaging in which the food came, but leaving it to end up in a trash dump will last indefinitely longer than taking the few extra minutes to wash it off and put it in recycling.

While taking a sustainability class, I learned that when in doubt if an item should be placed into recycling or not, put it in the recycling bin.  Let the recycling plant make the decision on whether it qualifies or not.

Mar 1st – Watch the documentary “Bully” by Lee Hirsch TODAY, and tell 5 more people to watch it and have them tell 5 more, and on, and on…

Bullying needs to stop.

It takes one person at a time to be a friend to someone else regardless of age, shape, size, color or other, and to simply be kind, not cruel.  Make each person feel like somebody.  You cannot stop a problem without awareness.  This documentary helps to bring awareness to bullying being a reality.  Share this story with as many people as you know.

Bully can be found online in iTunes, and hard copy in Netflix.  It is a valuable 93 minutes.