Change to One Change Daily…

Thanks to anyone and everyone who has taken a moment to read the One Change Daily ideas.  I am sticking with my commitment to make 365 changes and still plan to put a change out each day possible, but will be shortening the explanations of the daily change to simply one sentence (unless absolutely necessary) with no explanation.

Of course each change that is put out there deserves explanation, but due to limited hours in my day, there are some “bigger” changes I would like to focus my time and effort, still geared to the same goal as One Change Daily… more to come on that one!

Thanks to each one of you that makes any change at all for the better!

May 12th – Give a mom some love today.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you wonderful moms out there!

This one needs little explanation, so it’s up to you to decide how to show appreciation for a mom you may know today… whether it may be your own mom, the mom to your children, a special mom you know who is doing a great job, or a mom that is no longer with us, but deserves a moment of your honor.

For me personally, I have grown to realize that my mom deserves A LOT of appreciation for what I now realize is an incredible amount of thankless work and love (with no pay, I might add!), I don’t know where I would be without her.

Take this one day out of the year to give a special mom some gratitude for being who she is.

May 10th – Celebrate a be-lated Arbor Day and plant a tree today. You can help save on fossil fuels, decrease asthma sufferers, and lower crime.

I missed Arbor Day, oh my!  But do not let my oversight skip a wonderful event of taking a moment to plant a tree.  Typically, National Arbor Day is the last Friday in April, though many states observe if on different dates according to their best tree-planting times (I am really late for California, which was March 7-14, oops).

If you do not have a place to plant a tree, do not fret, there are organizations that will do it for you if you would like to make a donation.  In Los Angeles, MillionTreesLA.org is a great way to get involved and contribute.

Below is a list from MillionTreesLA highlighting the benefits trees provide, some of these are REALLY interesting, particularly the social impact (who knew?!):

  • Trees reduce the greenhouse effect by shading our homes and office buildings. This reduces air conditioning needs up to 30%, thereby reducing the amount of fossil fuels burned to produce electricity. This combination of CO2 removal from the atmosphere, carbon storage in one tree that shades your home in the city will also save fossil fuel, cutting CO2 buildup as much as 15 forest trees. – (Note, one urban tree does the environmental work of 15 forest trees).
  • A single mature tree can absorb carbon dioxide at a rate of 48 lbs./year and release enough oxygen back into the atmosphere to support 2 human beings.
  • Planting trees remains one of the cheapest, most effective means of drawing excess CO2 from the atmosphere.
  • An acre of trees absorbs enough CO2 over one year to equal the amount produced by driving a car 26,000 miles.
  • Planting trees and expanding parklands improves the air quality of Los Angeles County. A total of 300 trees can counter balance the amount of pollution one person produces in a lifetime.
  • Homeowners that properly place trees in their landscape can realize savings up to 58% on daytime air conditioning and as high as 65% for mobile homes. If applied nationwide to buildings not now benefiting from trees, the shade could reduce our nation’s consumption of oil by 500,000 barrels of oil/day.
  • Trees have great benefits, such as raising the ground water tables in LA, and are useful helping to capture, filter, and restore rainwater to the groundwater table.
  • A tree reduce topsoil erosion, prevent harmful land pollutants contained in the soil from getting into our waterways, slows down water runoff, and ensures that our ground water supplies are continually being replenished. For every 5% of tree cover added to a community, storm water runoff is reduced by approximately 2%.
  • Research by the USFS shows that in a 1 inch rainstorm over 12 hours, the interception of rain by the canopy of the urban forest in Salt Lake City reduces surface runoff by about 11.3 million gallons or 17%. These values would increase as the canopy increases as well.
  • Along with breaking the fall of rainwater, tree roots remove nutrients harmful to water ecology and quality.
  • Trees act as natural pollution filters. Their canopies, trunks, roots, and associated soil and other natural elements of the landscape filter polluted particulate matter out of the flow toward the storm sewers. Reducing the flow of storm water reduces the amount of pollution that is washed into a drainage area. Trees use nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium- byproducts of urban living-which can pollute streams.
  • More than 8% of children in Los Angeles – 217,000 – suffer from asthma. Studies have shown that an increase in tree-lined streets could lower that number by almost 25%.
  • Research presented at the American Association for the Advancement of Science conference (AAAS) in Chicago showed that the presence of trees could cut crime by as much as 7%
  • Two University of Illinois researchers (Kuo and Sullivan) studied how well residents of the Chicago Robert Taylor Housing Project (the largest public housing development in the world) were doing in their daily lives based upon the amount of contact they had with trees, and came to some the following conclusions:
  •            -Trees have the potential to reduce social service budgets, decrease police calls for domestic violence, strengthen urban communities, and decrease the incidence of child abuse according to the study. Chicago officials heard that message last year. The city government spent $10 million to plant 20,000 trees, a decision influenced by Kuo’s and Sullivan’s research, according to the Chicago Tribune.
  •           – Researchers found fewer reports of physical violence in homes that had trees outside the buildings. Of the residents interviewed, 14% of residents living in barren conditions have threatened to use a knife or gun against their children versus 3% for the residents living in green conditions.
  • A U.S. Department of Energy study reports that trees reduce noise pollution by acting as a buffer and absorbing 50% of urban noise.
  • Approximately 2,882,784 vehicle trips are taken on L.A.’s 650 miles of freeways each weekday. Studies show drivers exposed to roadside nature scenes had a greater ability to cope with driving stresses.

May 9th – Appreciate a teacher, today.

It happens to be teach appreciation week (National Teacher Appreciation day was actually Tuesday, but we can still do it today!), so consider giving yours, your child’s, or any teacher you know a little extra love this week.  Teachers are special people who probably give much more than they receive back… mentally, physically and emotionally… not to mention, they are helping to build our future.  Teachers can change our lives.  I imagine we can all recall at least one that helped to shape your own life.

The National Education Association lists a few great suggestions on how to spread some appreciation…

  • Update your Facebook status to thank a teacher who made a difference in your life. You can use “Happy Teacher Appreciation day!” with a personal message for the teacher in your life.
  • Sign the NEA “Thank an Educator” pledge at http://www.nea.org/grants/55369.htm to show your support and appreciation.
  • Share the NEA teacher appreciation videos with your favorite educator to say “Thanks” and post them to your social networks to encourage others to Thank a Teacher.  http://www.nea.org/grants/55429.htm
  • Check out http://pinterest.com/neatoday/share our pins and repins.
  • Show what great teaching looks like by uploading your photos of inspiring  teaching at https://greatteaching.carnegie.org.
  • Support your teaches politically for what you believe.
  • Nominate an amazing teacher for People Magazine’s 2013 Teacher of the Year Award
  • Visit your local school to find out what you can do to show your appreciation.

May 7th – Listen to your body today, and eat properly.

The quality of the food you eat is of the upmost importance, but eating the proper amount with healthy eating patterns should receive equal attention.  As mentioned previously in this blog regarding sleep, your body knows how much it needs and will tell you.

US News outlined 5 tips on how to migrate toward normal eating patterns (article by Rebecca Scrtichfield, July 9, 2012):

1. Eat within two hours of waking up, even if you don’t feel hungry in the morning. Eating breakfast gives you energy, helps you focus on the day’s tasks, and can set you up for healthy eating the rest of the day.

2. Wait until you feel hungry to eat. If you don’t get hungry at least three times a day, you may need to eat every three to four hours in order to find your hunger cycle. Instead of resisting hunger, welcome it with open arms.

3. Practice eating slowly and without distractions. Most people can finish a meal in five minutes. You need to slow down so you can feel the hunger go away and a comfortable, full feeling set in.

4. Put together a balanced plate of nutritious food. Half of your plate should consist of vegetables and fruit, with one quarter devoted to whole grain or complex carbohydrates like sweet potato or brown rice. Lean protein should make up the remaining quarter of your plate. Make sure you are eating food that you like and tastes good.

5. Put together an unbalanced plate. I’m serious. Anything you like. Just make sure you are hungry and repeat tip No. 3 above. Enjoy each bite. Notice how great it feels to eat normally again.

May 6th – Use a broom today rather than an indoor electric sweeper, outdoor lawn blower, or hose/water to clean.

Seems like a novel idea… using a broom!  The suggestion almost sounds antiquated, but brooms do, in fact, still exists (haha).  Quite frankly, my broom still works better in the kitchen than my fancy vacuum/dust buster, as well as using it on our patio… even more notably, it saves electricity, gas and water.

While it may not be the biggest impact of change, every bit counts, and just imagine if every household made this change. 🙂

May 5th – Plant a native plant today.

Todays change come from a good friend who practices lots of great green ideas… this is a good one to share…

Native plants are of great benefit in helping to preserve wildlife habitats, provide seeds, nuts and fruits for squirrels, birds, insects and other mammals, as well as nectar for hummingbirds and butterflies.  They generally grow well and require little care under the right environmental conditions.  Other benefits include saving water as many native plants need minimal irrigations beyond normal rainfall and because they develop their own defenses against many pest and disease, you will not need to use pesticides.

Going ‘native’ contributes to saving our heritage for future generations.

You may want to Google native plants to your region or go to a local specialized nursery who can help you.

If you live near the South Bay in Los Angeles, Manhattan Beach Botanical Garden has a fantastic list of CA Native Plants and places you can purchase them in the LA area.  See attached links:

Click to access MBBGWHERETOPURCHASECAfriendlyplants.pdf

Click to access MBBGPlantListSept2010.pdf

May 4th – Check to see how safe your sunscreen rates, and if necessary, replace it with one that rates as a low hazard to your health.

Summer is around the corner and with the nice weather coming, it means one thing… sunscreen season.  As with so many other skin care products, it is deceiving to know which ones are safe and which ones are considered hazardous to our health.  I remember being shocked when I first checked my suncreen out for it’s hazard level to find how poorly it rated as some companies/brands have a perceived trusted name… on the other hand, I was possibly even more shocked to find some of the ones that actually rated quite well.

Environmental Working Group puts out an annual Sunscreen Guide.  In 2012 they rated 1,813 sunscreens, so hopefully you can find yours.  The 2013 Sunscreen Guide should be out later this spring if you want to keep posted and get the very latest.  In the meantime, you can check it out at:

http://www.ewg.org/2012sunscreen/all-sunscreens/

While not the very lowest score, but still low (rated a “2” by EWG), we often use Coppertone Water Babies Pure & Simple Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 50, largely because you can find it in nearly any drug store if you are in a pinch to grab sunscreen (and thankfully it does not interfere with my daughter’s coconut and fragrance allergies), as well, it will not break the bank (you may find some of the best sunscreens are quite pricey).  There are a lot of great options on the market now, especially as more organic and all natural products have become available.

Have a great day in the sun!

May 3rd – Have a verbal (or signed) conversation with a young person, today.

I will let you define “young”, but most likely someone under the age of about 20.

There seems to be a theme about my week, where I have had several discussions about technology and some of it’s affects on the younger generation.  More importantly, how technology is affecting crucial social skills including the art of conversation, eye contact, attention span, phone skills and physical awareness  (as you are absorbed into your electronics instead of being aware of what is going on around you).

So for today, take a few minutes to engage in a conversation with someone of a younger generation to simply talk back and forth about something of interest.  You can have it in person or on the phone, but texting and email do not count on this one… use your verbal skills (or signing skills)  and remember what it was like before we had a screen to hide behind.

May 2nd – Choose the best water filtration system for you.

There is no single best water filtration system for everyone.  Environmental Working Group supplies an annual Water Filtration Buying Guide that gives excellent options that can best fit your needs.

Several factors contribute to the conclusion of which one is best for you, including the contaminants that you may want to filter (based on your local water quality report), your budget/costs, and maintenance preferences.  EWG sums up some of the major differences…

Q: What’s the best water filter?

Answer: There isn’t any single best answer to this question. Carbon filters remove fewer contaminants than reverse osmosis filters, but are cheaper and use less energy and water. Reverse osmosis filters are more effective at removing many kinds of contaminants, but are more expensive, require more maintenance, and require much more energy and water to function. Water softeners are great for dealing with hard water problems, but won’t remove most contaminants. It’s really a personal decision as to what water filter is best for you and your family.

Below is the link which can help you easily decide which filter is the best for you, as well as link you to Amazon.com to purchase your choice, should you like to buy:

http://www.ewg.org/report/ewgs-water-filter-buying-guide

If you would like to see the consumer opinion comparison about water filtration systems, you can reference Consumer Reports 2013 Best Water Filters Report (Consumer Reports Kitchen Planning & Buying Guide Special Issue, July 2013).  There is interesting commentary you can also find at The Water Filter Lady’s Blog discussing this report:  http://thewaterfilterladysblog.com/2013/04/23/consumer-reports-best-water-filters-2013/