Notes I wish I had the balls to leave:
Dear Inconsiderate, Selfish Bitch;
Just a note to let you know that you have once again parked your minivan in the handicap parking space at preschool. That's right - HANDICAP - as in physically disabled or impaired.
Despite what you might think, that little logo on the blue background is not a depiction of you and your round, lazy ass. Nor is it a crude representation of you sitting on a throne with the world revolving around you.
I notice that you have parked your vehicle practically sideways (I'm assuming this is to indicate to the rest of us that you are in a great rush). However, taking up TWO handicap spaces at one time gives the appearance that you either you are a double-giant asshole or are drunk.
I get it. You're busy. Guess what? So are the rest of us. We're moms. We're ALL busy. We ALL have errands to run, laundry to wash, and houses to clean. You're not quite as special as you might think.
Also, I can't help but notice your lovely designer track suit, expensive sneakers and bouncy ponytail ensemble. I'm guessing you're hurrying off to an important meeting at your fancy gym. Which makes your parking choice seem not only thoughtless, but also a tad ironic.
In the future, please refrain from parking your smug ass in spaces legally allocated for the physically disadvantaged. After all, I'd hate for some angry eco-dork to park behind you and accidentally block you in.
Not that I would do that.
I hope you fall off your treadmill and have to wear an ankle-to-crotch leg cast. At least then you'd be able to park here legally.
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Notes I wish I had the balls to leave:
Pfixing the Pfaucet
Last Tuesday I talked about checking for leaks in all of our faucets and toilets. And this past weekend I tackled one of the offending springs: hubby's sink in the upstairs bath. Here's how it went down. Or, rather, how I went down. Under the sink, that is. Get your mind out of the gutter already, this is a family blog. (Actually it's not. If you're under the age of 13, please stop reading now. I tend to use foul language and inappropriate innuendo - and I wouldn't want to be teaching you things that you should rightfully be learning on the school bus.)
Anywhich, back to the sink. I did some research online and found that the most common reason for a leaky faucet is a bad washer inside the faucet - which can easily be replaced for just about the price of a cup of coffee. So I started ripping the sucker apart. I took off the bottom part where the water comes out. Nope, just an aerator there. I took off the stylish 80's knobby part that looks like a plastic star. Nothing there but a dead end. Finally, I tried the last remaining joint - the part where the handle meets the base. No go. I even had hubby give it a try. I swear that connection must have been welded shut. So that meant to fix the leak I'd have to replace the whole damn faucet.
I head down to the 'Depot and pick out another Pflashdance-Pflashback, star-shaped Pfaucet (hey, it may be butt-ugly, but at least it matches the other butt-ugly Pfixtures in the house). Apparently they either produced way to many of these or there's a bigger demand for Pfabulous Pfugly Pfixtures than I thought. It was also quite a bit more expensive than just a washer. It set me back $61. That's a lotta coffee beans, my friends.
I head on home, pull my pants down below the crack of my ass, and immediately start dismantling the old faucet. Demo is definitely my strong suit. I had that sucker outta there in under 10 minutes. Putting the new one in? Well, it probably would have been easier if I'd read the directions, but I stumbled through it and was done and cleaned up in under 90 minutes, start to finish. And that's with the help of my two special apprentices dropping pipe wrenches on my feet every two minutes and trying to crawl into the very small vanity with me while saying "Mommy, I helpa you?"
Long story longer, I was hoping to just replace a washer, but had to replace the entire faucet instead. :-( But, it's done and now it won't be a wasteful drip anymore. :-) I don't want to donate the old faucet to the Habitat ReStore though because it's a leaker. :-( But I will take it down to a local recycler so he can pull off the copper piping and other salvageable metals. :-)
It's just been a roller coaster of emotion as you can tell. Hopefully fixing the crapper won't be so Pfrustrating.
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Yeah. So. Whatever...
I guess it's not as gross as I had originally thought. But I'm still not putting any of it on my tomatoes.
As if you all haven't heard enough gory details about my period and my birth control, I'll recap my monthly schedule. Because I use Mirena, I really don't have a monthly period. Just a couple days of spotting each month, barely enough to justify the disposable pantyliners I've been using. So the savings are small, but still, it's a savings. I'd say, oh, five pantyliners per month.
Because my 'flo is so light, I don't have to worry about pre-rinsing the pantyliners, they just get tossed in the laundry with everything else. For those of you who have a heavier flo, you might want to consider the Diva Cup or The Keeper, as they both seem to have many, many satisfied customers! In fact, Crunchy is having another Diva Cup Challenge in May!
Monday, April 28, 2008
It's been almost a month now of giving and I just wanted to say thank you to all who participated in the first Burbanmom Challenge. Together, twenty-five of us donated over $1469.00, 49 bags and 32 hours. And I know that much more was donated than was tallied (ie: Crunchy's Goods4Girls work and her Head Shavin' Shenanigans). I know that I still have about 20 bags of cast offs from following Chile's Cut the Crap Challenge that still need to be taken to Goodwill.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Have You Any.... Soap?
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Checking for Leaks
Buying Local Eggs
The 17th Street Farmer's Market finally opened last week and I got to head down and see what local, organic foods were to be had this early in the season. Short answer? Not much. It's early yet, and aside from various herbs, flowers, mustard greens and leeks, there wasn't much local produce (where the hell is the asparagus? Isn't that what is usually grown this time of year?). But there was one local farmer that had a few frozen pork products and fresh-laid eggs!
Goodbye organic eggs shipped to me in a refrigerated truck from a distribution warehouse in Ohio. Hello fresh-out-of-the-chute local eggs from free-range chickens in Keysville, VA, shipped to me in a Coleman cooler in the back of Mr. Farmer's truck. And in under 50 miles from my home (as the crow flies). So just like that I've shaved 430 food miles off my egg-salad sandwich. TADA!
As an added bonus, the farmer was happy to use the egg carton I brought from home and, in fact, told me to bring any other egg cartons I had laying around (I actually have five egg cartons that I'll be taking to him for reuse - don't ask).
So far I've only used these eggs in pancakes and friendship bread, but I'll be chefing up omelets this weekend. I can't tell you how excited I am to finally be pecking away at my food miles! Hopefully, as the season rolls on, I'll be able to get that most difficult of Riot Food Categories (food) down to where it should be!
Savings:Our family goes through a carton of eggs every 2-3 weeks. So, in the matter of a year, I'll be saving myself 20 egg cartons, plus (and more importantly) the 430 food miles for each carton. Nothing to bawk at!
Despite all my big talk about nutting up, I never actually made it to the Farmers Market last year. I'm glad I went last week, rather than chickening out again. Turns out the Farmers Market is in a very safe, yup-scale part of downtown. Who knew?
So at long last, we have solved the riddle: The chicken came first and then bought her eggs.
Monday, April 21, 2008
Here's the flyer I did for the kids' preschool. It's double-sided with info for parents on one side and kid-friendly project ideas on the other. If any of you are so inclined to "put yourself out there", feel free to use it however you can! If you want a copy in Word, just email me at emcoe AT verizon DOT net and I'll send you out one that you can edit.
or maybe this:
And, of course, the concept that let me finish this post in under 30 minutes:
So have a good Monday, folks. And if any of you have any exciting plans for tomorrow (Earth Day!) I'd love to hear them! I'm celebrating by passing out my flyer at the kids' preschool and meeting with a landscape designer to get some advice on planting drought-resistant native species in our yards. Later in the week I'll be touring our local recycling facility! Sadly, I am very excited about this!! :-)
Friday, April 18, 2008
Turning Off the Furnace and the A/C... Again
Well it's that time of year again. The days are getting warmer, the nights are still a little chilly. It's in-between weather that fluctuates between hot and cold, shorts and long johns, or, in the case of my kids "naked" or "wrapped up".
In the past, I'm ashamed to admit, I would have spent my time at the thermostat switching from heat to cool to heat again in order to maintain a relatively constant temperature. But not EcoDorkess. Last fall I learned to live without my furnace and a/c by piling on or taking off clothes. This spring, I'm going to be tuning in to the weather a little more closely to see if I can't find a way to regulate the temps inside.
Previously oblivious to forecasts, I now keep a close eye on the weather. Because knowing whether it's going to hit 60 or 80 means the difference between airing out the house or sweating my ass off at night. It also means the difference between letting the sun shine in or keeping it blocked as much as possible. It helps me decide whether to run the dishwasher in the morning to take advantage of the heat, or wait until dark of night when it won't add to an already too warm house. Should I plan on grilling outside that day or cooking inside? Do I open the windows in the morning to let some cool air in or keep them closed tight until the sun warms us up a bit in the afternoon?
The only investment required here was an outside thermometer and a bit of my time and attention. You see, it's a lot easier to just set the thermostat to 70 and let the furnace and a/c do the work. But if I just slow down. If I just pay closer attention. If I just learn to live a little more deliberately. I can maintain a relatively comfortable, if not constant, temperature in my home. A little more work for me, a little less stress on the environment. Isn't that what living lightly is all about?And so now I work a little more with the less-polluting resources like curtains, windows and fans; I plan a little of my day around the weather and, as a result, I'm able to rely a little less on the furnace and a/c - the two biggest energy hogs in our home.
And it makes a difference. I know because I see it in my energy bills. Which reminds me... I think I need to update my riot numbers. But not today. It's late, I'm tired and the house is the perfect temperature for sleeping. Good night.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Get off your butt and do something today
Or better yet, sit right there and do something today. If you're bored, and obviously you are, because you're sitting here reading this, then I've got a couple of projects for you. I promise they won't take long and they're all for very good causes!
Take Back The Filter Campaign
You all know Beth at Fake Plastic Fish is one of my favorite bloggers. She kicks plasstic and I wish I had half the energy, focus and dedication she has when it comes to following up gripes about corporate apathy with bonafide action.
Anyhow, Beth has started a grassroots campaign urge Clorox to take responsibility for the millions of plastic Brita water filter cartridges that are disposed of each year.
The original Brita company in Germany has had a program to collect and recycle used filter cartridges ever since 1992. They process them in their own facility, separating the materials and recycling or reusing them. The North American branch of the company was sold to Clorox in 2000. Clorox has not provided any way to recycle these used cartridges.
Clorox and Nalgene have teamed up with the FilterForGood campaign to encourage people to give up bottled water and opt instead for the combo of reusable bottle and Brita filter, to cut down the amount of plastic bottle waste. This is a great effort. But Clorox has not addressed the plastic waste from the water filters themselves, as the Brita company has done in Europe.
Beth is trying to convince Clorox to follow the principal of Extended Producer Responsibility and provide a way for its filter cartridges to either be refilled or returned and recycled.
So here's how you can help. Please go to http://www.takebackthefilter.org/ now (yes, "now", what the f? You're just sitting there... click on the freakin' link already. But then come back when you're done, because I've got more homework for you.) and sign the petition. Then, start sending your used Brita cartridges to Beth so she can deliver them en masse to Clorox.
The Gap Between Reality and Fantasy
This issue started last week when Orgie posted about the unsolicited plastic bag Old Navy sent her. Around the same time, my sister told me about how Old Navy doesn't reuse or recycle their plastic hangers -- they just toss them in the dumpster. Well, I told Orgie about this and she jumped on it like a drunken quarterback on the prom queen.
Long story short: Orgie is urging everyone to call The Gap (parent company of Old Navy and Banana Republic) and ask them what, exactly, is their policy on hangers. So far, Orgie, Arduous and I have all called and we've gotten three different answers. So just for fun, give them a call at 1-800-GAP-STYLE, option 4, option 4, and then option 2. Let's see if we can't get them to institute a company-wide policy on hanger reuse or, at the very least, a policy on giving a consistent answer to annoying eco-dork inquiries.
More Like a Don't
The Crunchtastic One has decided to bare it all for charity. No, she's not stripping down to let us see if she truly is green all over. She has challenged her blog readers to help her raise money for the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation. If she can raise $10,000 by May 10th, she'll shave her head.
As of this writing, she's just shy of the $2,000 mark. So, if you haven't already contributed (oh hell, even if you have) please just drop a couple bucks in the plate. I'm telling you, every little bit does make a difference. Even if you just skip the morning latte today and donate the $3.00 you save, that would be AWESOME! Thanks!
OK, I've mentioned this new charity before, but wanted to let you know that they're starting to make the presses. After hearing about 350.org in my Riot for Austerity Group, I checked it out. It is a brand new organization that is trying to raise awareness of the general public about global warming. (350.org is from the same people who brought Step It Up to worldwide attention last year.) It has the backing of Bill McKibben, a long time environmentalist and author of several great books including The End of Nature and Deep Economy. (I just finished Deep Economy and I HIGHLY recommend it).
Anyhow, 350.org is just trying to get their name out there right now and I'm trying to help. Here's some info from their website:
350 is the red line for human beings, the most important number on the planet. The most recent science tells us that unless we can reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to 350 parts per million, we will cause huge and irreversible damage to the earth.
We’re planning an international campaign to unite the world around the number 350, and we need your help. We need to make sure that the solutions the world proposes to climate change are to scale with the level of crisis that this number represents. Everyone on earth, from the smallest village to the cushiest corner office, needs to know what 350 means. The movement to spread that number needs to be beautiful, creative, and unstoppable.
What we need most right now are on-the-ground examples for how to take the number 350 and drive it home: in art, in music, in political demonstrations, in any other way you can imagine. We hope this project will grow tremendously in the months to come, and it helps all the more if people can see the great things others are doing already. We will connect actions all around the world and make them add up to more than the sum of their parts-but we don’t have all the ideas and all the inspiration. We need you to act on yours.
So if you've got any ideas to help these folks get the word out, by all means, stop by their website and lend them a hand!
Well, I guess that's enough homework for one night. But, if I catch you loitering around here again, you can bet your bippy I'll find you something else to do. Hoodlum.
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Switching from liquid dishwashing detergent to a powder
Yes, we're talking about my dishwasher. Again. Seems I just can't stop messing with that nightly routine. It irks me that I don't have the mental will to skip the pre-rinse and so I am trying to compensate by over analyzing all the other aspects involved in making my Corelleware shine.
You may recall that way back in November, I gave up my Cascade in favor of a gentler liquid detergent - Seventh Generation. Great product. Worked like a freakin' charm and without all the phosphates and fragrances. So why change again then?
Well the Liquid 7G comes in a plastic bottle, whereas the Powder 7G comes in a cardboard box. We all know that plastic is a petroleum-based product made from a non-renewable resource and that it cannot be recycled, rather, it can only be down-cycled into fleece, park benches, sleeping bags and whatnot. Cardboard, on the other hand, comes from a renewable resource and, in fact, this particular box is made from recycled fibers. Cardboard can also be recycled many times before the fibers break down too much to be useful.
So really, it's all about the packaging. Not the product.
But as long as we're on the subject of dishwashers, I thought you might like to know that I've worked very hard to minimize the amount of water I use when pre-rinsing. I've got it down to a trickle that I shut on and off while rinsing and I keep the plug in the drain so that I can just swish the silverware around at the end. Anyhow, all this obsessing has dropped my pre-rinse water usage down to a paltry 2 gallons per night. Armed with these reduced numbers, I have since developed a little formula here that proves that, for me at least, pre-rinsing my dishes actually saves energy. I know. I know. I need to let this go, but I CAN'T! Anyhow, here goes:
Pre-rinsing my dishes utilizes two gallons of cold water (I don't use the hot water for pre-rinsing) This allows me to use the short cycle on my dishwasher, which gives me a total of:
- 2 gallons cold water
- 6.1 gallons hot water
- 36 minutes of electricity
This means I've used 8.1 total gallons of water. And at 440 BTU's to heat one gallon of water, we've used 2,684 BTU's of energy (.786 kWh). I've also used .84 kWh for the motor. That totals 1.626 kWh.
If I don't pre-rinse, I skip the 2 gallons of cold rinsing water, however, I'm now forced to use the Heavy Wash setting on the dishwasher to get all the crud off the dishes. This means I'll be using:
- 0 gallons of cold water
- 8.5 gallons of hot water
- 89 minutes of electricity
Broken down, this equates to 8.5 gallons of water, 3740 BTU's (1.095 kWh) and 2.08 kWh for the motor, for a total of 3.175kWh.
So, here's the comparison:
PRE-RINSE: 8.1 gallons and 1.626 kWh vs. HEAVY CYCLE: 8.5 gallons and 3.175 kWh
Hands down winner is the pre-rinsing, saving me over 146 gallons of water and 565 kWh per year! Whew! Now FINALLY I can rinse in peace!
Sharing What I've Learned With Others
Those of you who read my blog know that I'm pretty much a closet-greenie. I make these changes here, in the safety of my own home, without discussing them with the outside world. Why? I dunno. Fear of looking like a tree-hugging hippie? Fear of looking like a freaked-out peak-oil doomsayer? Fear of sounding like an annoying missionary from the Church of Climate Change?
Doubt it. Most likely it's just that same old fear I've had since I was six. Fear of Being Different. Because for whatever reason, I'm one of those fucked up individuals who wants nothing more than to fit in with everyone else. Strange. Double-strange, actually, since I'm also the biggest, loudest attention-seeking ham you'll ever meet.
Well, for a couple weeks now I've been thinking how great it would be if the kids' preschool would do something -- anything -- to celebrate the upcoming Earth Day on April 22nd. And today... guess what I did? Mmmmmhmm. I marched my fat ass down to the preschool office, declared myself EcoDorkess, Lord of the Green Tips, and offered to create an educational flyer to stuff in every kids' cubby.
I held my breath and prepared for the worst. But you know what? It never came. They did not laugh. They did not point. They did not throw rotten tomatoes at me. They didn't even stifle giggles while humming circus music.
In fact, they thought it was a great idea and asked if there were any other eco-activities I'd like to coordinate. Shuh. Yeeaaahhhh!
So this post is gonna have to be short and to the point so I can get to work on the flyer. Did I make a point yet? Oh, guess not. Well my point is: I have amassed a certain amount of eco-knowledge over the past year in my quest to be more green and it's time I shared some of that information with others. Because by sharing our ideas with others, we inspire. And when we inspire, we encourage others to take action. And action, my friends, is what will make the difference in our planet.
So go spread the word, folks. With the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker. Or better yet, with a school near you!
Monday, April 14, 2008
Or Just Till It Starts to Go Numb?
So, you've researched your charity and have picked a winner. Now you're ready to donate your hard earned cash or even harder-to-come-by time. How much do you give? Well there is a very simple answer to this question:
It depends on what you can afford. It depends on how strongly you believe in the cause. It might even depend on your religious views. It all just depends on so many factors that I can't give you a dollar amount or percentage. But I can tell you what others give.
What The Joneses Give
The average American gives 3.1% of their pre-tax income to charity. So let's say you make $100,000. Presumably, if you're average, you're donating $3,100 per year to charity. But remember, these are averages, greatly skewed by the likes of Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. Right?
Well, kind of. But here's an interesting fact: The individuals who, as a whole, donate the largest percentage of their income? Know who they are? Those who make less than $10,000 per year. Those folks donate about 5.2% of their income. Feeling guilty yet? No?
Well let's bring religion into it then. After all, that always helped increase the guilt factor for my Catholic grandmother. Most churches believe you should give 10% of your money to charity. Of course, they have a vested interest in telling you that, but I leave that topic to someone else (yeah, even Burbanmom has some areas where she doesn't tread!). So if we're still talking an annual income of $100,000, that would be $10,000 of philanthropy.
So, after hearing those numbers... how are you feeling about yourself and your giving? Good? Below average? Right on target? Or still clueless?
So, let's say you want to raise the bar above the 3.1% average and "Go for Five" - a 5% annual contribution. But, your spouse is gonna freak out when you ask if it's ok to fork over five grand to save the polar bears. How can you accomplish your giving goal of 5%?
Simple. Do a combination of dollars, donated items and volunteer time to get there. Again, for ease of calculations, let's say your family makes $100,000 per year. There are a number of ways you can get to the $5,000 mark without hurting too much.
Declutter and Give Your Stuff to Charity - $1,000
You'd be surprised how quickly your junk adds up. Imagine if you took all your unwanted stuff and had a garage sale. Except, instead of haggling on pricing and not selling half your crap, you actually sold it all for top dollar. That's basically how donating works. They take almost all of it at Goodwill and if you diligently record all the items you donate, you'll see just how quickly those unwanted items add up!Donate Your Time - $2,000
According to Independent Sector, the estimated dollar value of your volunteer time is roughly $19.51 per hour. Not bad. Hell of a lot more than I make in my thankless job as stay-at-home-and-clean-up-puke-mom. Oh, sorry... rough week here. But imagine if you just gave two hours per week to your favorite charity. At the hourly rate of $19.51, you'd be donating the equivalent of $2,029.04 in a year.Cold Hard Cash - $2,000
That's $166 per month. Which might sound a bit scary if you're not used to giving. But try this instead: Donate $25 per week to your favorite charity. This can easily be accomplished through setting up a recurring transaction in your online banking account. Or you might even ask your employer if a payroll deduction could be made. Once you've got your auto-giving set up, you'll be kicking in $1,300 per year with really no effort.
Then, to supplement your weekly donations, change the way you gift-give to adults. Anytime you have a gifting occasion (wedding; baby shower; birthday; anniversary; Christmas; Mother's Day; Father's Day; etc.) instead of giving a "thing", make a $50 donation in the recipient's name to their favorite charity. Assuming you have 16 adult gift-giving occasions per year, you're all set. Bonus? No wrapping required.
Another Heading... Because I Seem To Be Doing That TodaySo as you can see, determining how much to give can be as tricky as figuring out where to donate. But with most things in life, you do the best you can. Right now, just try to give more in 2008 than you did in 2007. Maybe you could donate an extra $100 this year. Or take those old toys to the children's hospital, even though it's a little out of your way. Or perhaps this will be the year you finally try your hand at volunteering.
So try to be a giver this year and help a worthy cause. I promise it won't take up all your time or money. And what you get in return is absolutely priceless.
This post is another one in my series on giving. If you haven't yet signed up for The Giving Challenge, it's not too late! The Challenge will be going on for the whole month.
Friday, April 11, 2008
Be on the lookout as you're cleaning out the toychest today. Yet another batch of Chinese produced toys are covered with lead paint. The offending toys were sold at Dollar Stores between October 2007 and December 2007. They look like this:
If you find one of these toys, please take it back to the store for a refund or call the manufacturer at 877-OKK TOYS.
Thursday, April 10, 2008
Learning More About Environmental Issues Through Other Media
Where the Smart Money Goes When It Comes To Giving
Here is the second tip in a series of installments related to The Giving Challenge that's happening here at the House of Green. It's not too late to sign up, just leave a comment with your name and site if you want to join!
Want to give a little green for good? That's fan-doodley-tastic! But before you whip out that checkbook and start writing down numbers, do a little number reading. Make sure that charity you're about to bestow your gift upon is really worthy of your funds.
Well that sounds harsh, doesn't it? Giving is supposed to be about community, sharing, warm fuzzies and all that mushy stuff. It's something we do because, in our heart, we know it is right. We like the feeling we get when we give to a worthy cause. Sometimes a vivid description of starving children is told... sometimes a picture of a dying bird caught in an oil slick. How can you not just fork your wallet over to the all those nice people who are trying to fight the injustices of the world?
Let's start with:
1. Just because they're nice doesn't mean they're smart.
2. And it also doesn't mean they're entirely altruistic.
The directors of the organization may be so messed up that they blew all their donations on legal fees and new computers when it should have been spent on food for the starving kids. Or maybe they spent most of the donations on their own inflated, executive-style salaries and then used the ten dollars leftover to buy a bottle of Palmolive. The bottom line is, if you want to get the most bang for your buck out of your charitable donations, you need to do a little homework.
You might want to make your first stop on this fact-checking tour be the Network for Good website. It is a wealth of information regarding thousands upon thousands of charities. It is very, very user-friendly. You can find a charity simply by typing in a couple of keywords and selecting whether you want to donate or volunteer (or both). If you want, you can even narrow your search by city and state.
For instance, I typed in "Environment", selected both 'donate' and 'volunteer', then narrowed my search to Virginia. I was offered 984 possibilities for donations and 56 opportunities for volunteering. WOW! But it gets even better. If I click on any of these charities, I'm taken to a page where I can either make a donation or learn more about the charity in question. By clicking on the View Full Report, I'm able to learn a great deal about the organization.
Once I open the report, I am able to see their Missions, Programs, Government Codes, Goals and Results, as well as their most recent published financial data. Now, you can learn a lot about their ideals and such in the former areas, but the latter part? Them thar numbers? Well, they just don't lie. You can see exactly how much money they bring in and how it is spent. You want to see expenses that show a higher proportion of Program Services to Administration and Other. In fact, to be considered a successful charity, the ratio should be at least 4:1. The only time this should be lower is during the first few years of startup, which is when most funds are spent on building the infrastructure of the organization.
If you want to dig even deeper into a particular charity's finances, you can also check out their IRS form 990, filed annually by all registered US charities and available online at Guidestar.org. For you fellow Mathletes and Tax Nerds, this is where you'll find the really juicy stuff, like the salaries of the highest paid employees and the independent contractors they hire for professional services. Good stuff.
So I guess what I'm saying is that finding a good charity is like finding a good husband. Sure, you may first be attracted by a big sob story or just a general feeling of pity. But before you take that stroll down the aisle, a smart woman will run a credit check on him to make sure he knows his debits and credits from his franks and beans.
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
Donating Books to a Library
This is the first in an installment of tips to help you "Be A Giver". If you haven't signed up for the challenge yet, it's not too late. In fact, we're open 24-7 here at Going Green so it's never too late (Although we do shut down the back dining area between 2am - 3am each night to clean the tables and refill the salt shakers).
Anyhow, I know the most convenient thing to do when making donations is to pack all your crap up and drop it all at one place like Goodwill or Salvation Army. And that's good, but you can do better. After all, that book will be purchased by one individual and will most likely go live on their bookshelf for several years. And really, what good is that? You've decluttered your home by recluttering someone else's.
Try to assess your items to determine where they will get the most use. The obvious choice, for books at least, is the library. If you choose to donate to a public library, it may put on the shelves to be loaned out to many others, or (more likely) it will be sold at one of their fundraisers. But at least there's a chance it will be put into circulation. Ask your librarian to be sure.
But don't think of your public library as your only choice. Many smaller (ie: desperate) libraries will be happy to take your donations and put them in the stacks. Great options here are college and university libraries; high school, middle school and elementary school libraries; preschool libraries; private libraries at nursing homes and retirement community centers; hospital libraries; prison libraries; military base libraries; the list goes on. Basically, anywhere there is higher learning or bored masses, you'll likely find a library.
I know, I know you're thinking "Dude, I'm just trying to donate some freakin' books to a charity. Don't make this harder than it needs to be". Well I'm not. And let's drop the attitude, shall we?
The bottom line is, you're trying to do something good. But why not go the extra step and make sure you're doing the most good you can with your donation. Because you know what? It's still WAY EASIER than hosting a garage sale!
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
Daphne was out of commission most of last week with the lovely rotovirus. Yeah. Lots of fun. Well guess who's got it now? That's right, yours truly. This video pretty much sums up how I'm feeling today.
So if I'm a little slow to update tallies, participants and recipients, forgive me! :-)
Adding Enviro Post Scripts to My Emails
Monday, April 7, 2008
Have you noticed there are some seriously challenging challenges happening this month? I'm talking about hard-core, anti-shopping, clean-the-crap-out kind of stuff? I'm refering, of course, to Crunchy's Buy Nothing Challenge and Chile's Cut the Crap (De-Clutter) Challenge. Between these two of them, I feel like our home is fasting for 30 days while getting weekly enemas. If this doesn't clean us out, I don't know what will.
I tried to put in the source for the lame-doo dad, but being rather "challenged" myself, gave up after half an hour of unsuccessful attempts. You can just save the jpg to your site or just link the old fashioned way... with words :-)
Friday, April 4, 2008
Joining Chile's "Cut The Crap" Challenge
Chile is at it again! She has created a new De-cluttering Challenge to go hand-in-hand with Crunchy Chicken's Buy Nothing Challenge. Chile challenges us to not only buy nothing new this month, but to rid ourselves of all the useless crap we've accumulated through the years.
Even if you've never read Affluenza, you know that most of us Americans are Kings and Queens of Consumption. We buy things we don't need, just because they're pretty, or shiny, or -- the big killer -- ON SALE. Now this wouldn't be too awful these purchases were consumables like local food and CSA subscriptions or if they were true daily use items like toaster ovens and drying racks. But they're not.
Testament to this fact is that most of us have closets or maybe even rooms bursting with pure, unadulterated crap. Shit we bought at the dollar store... Toys our kids got as presents that they don't play with and never did... Decorations that match neither our decor nor our taste... books that we've read once but won't read again... clothes that our fat asses will never squeeze into without removing body organs... need I continue?
No, I needn't. And you know why? Because one of those statements hit true with you. And if not, I'm sure you could think up your own statement to match your Personal Crap Collection.
Well Chile says "Enough! Hoe it Out! Pare it Down!" And I tend to agree. And so I will be Hoeing Down (or Paring Out, not sure yet) this month in an effort to de-clutter my home and my life. Keep a close eye on Chile's site as she is chock full of helpful information to get you started!
And stay tuned to Burbanmom as well. I've come up with my own little challenge to go hand-in-hand.... ummm....-in-hand with Crunchy's and Chile's Challenges. But don't worry... you know how lazy I am. Mine will be pretty easy. A challenge for the challengely-challenged, if you will. Watch for it on Monday* when I return!
*Big thanks to Melinda at Elements in Time who introduced me to her Technology-Free Challenge. I learned that the world does not dissolve if I'm not online (it only melts a little)**. As such, I am going Techno-Free on weekends and will no longer be posting on Saturdays in Sundays. This will give me lots of time to work on my garden! :-)
**That's a global warming joke. Get it?***
***I really like these asterisk-style footnotes today.
Thursday, April 3, 2008
Giving Up My Fabric Softener Entirely
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
So thanks to Crunchy Chicken's Buy Nothing Challenge, I'm back on the bandwagon. For a full month. In April. When the tax refund will come in. What the hell am I thinking?
For those of you who aren't familiar with the concept of Compacting, here's the lowdown:
It started in San Fransisco when a small group of friends made an informal vow not to buy anything new in 2006, as a way to break from the consumerism of America. Since that time, The Compact has grown dramatically and includes "Compacters" from all over the US, Canada, Mexico, Europe and even as far as Australia and Hong Kong.
The credo of The Compact is based on the Mayflower Compact and is as follows:
1) to go beyond recycling in trying to counteract the negative global environmental and socioeconomic impacts of U.S. consumer culture, to resist global corporatism, and to support local businesses, farms, etc. -- a step, we hope, inherits the revolutionary impulse of the Mayflower Compact;
2) to reduce clutter and waste in our homes (as in trash Compact-er);
3) to simplify our lives (as in Calm-pact).
The rules for compacting are pretty simple:
#1 - No purchases of brand new stuff - save food, toiletries, medicines, underwear and work-required items
#2 - No, you can't cheat, See Rule #1
It's pretty simple. Don't buy shit. If you do need to buy something you have oodles of alternatives... you can hit the thrift store, check out craigslist, post on freecycle, cruise the garage sales, borrow from your neighbor, or, God forbid, dig through your own crap to see if you can cobble up something that will meet your needs. If all else fails, I do allow myself to purchase locally-produced, hand-crafted items, but that's probably cheating.
It's difficult to calculate the savings on this, since it's hard to guesstimate what I might have spent. However, if I take the past 12 months' average consumer goods spending (which includes Christmas spending and several significant home improvement projects like replacing our leaking hot water tank), I can estimate it would be somewhere in the $975 range. Yikes. According to a Professor at Syracuse University, every consumer dollar we spend puts .5 lbs of carbon into the atmosphere. So my month of compacting will, theoretically, reduce my family's carbon footprint by nearly 500 pounds.
Difficulty Level: 4 out of 5
Ooooohhhh, it's so hard to get that refund in the mail and NOT go on a "buying green products spending spree"! But this is actually great timing for me. I have definitely drifted away from Compacting over the last couple months and have gone overboard on the buying. And now is a good a time as any to draw in the reins a bit.
I Compacted for a month before (July 2007) and I know that shopping, for me at least, is a simple addiction. One that is easily broken by staying out of the stores - both in person and online. Instead, I'll be heading to the library more often and getting my "fix" at garage sales and - in just two short weeks -- the farmer's market!