Thursday, December 28, 2006

Donate milk.

I've learned a lot about breastfeeding in the last few months. I know how good it is for my baby, so I was pleased to see that there are milk banks that provide milk for babies who cannot tolerate formula and whose moms cannot provide breast milk.

There are several milk banks in the US which will collect milk from donors across the country and ship it to recipients who need it. They are regulated by Human Milk Bank Association of North America. So if you have or can generate excess milk, consider donating it to improve the health or save the life of a baby.

Just this Christmas, my mother told me about how my great-aunt was a wet nurse for her niece. Since wet nurses aren't so readily available these days, consider donating milk to improve or save the life of a baby. Even if you don't have milk to give, you can still donate life.

"Resistance is the secret of joy." Alice Walker in Possessing the Secret of Joy

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Change a light, change the world.

I've written before about EnergyStar products, but that post focused on appliances and larger purchases. But did you know that you can make a big reduction in energy usage (and your energy bill!) just by changing your lightbulbs?

EnergyStar's lightbulb campaign is rightfully called "Change a light, change the world." According to EnergyStar:
The energy used in the average home can be responsible for more than twice the greenhouse gas emissions of the average car. When you use less energy at home, you reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and help protect our environment from the risks of global climate change. If every American home changed out just five high-use light fixtures or the bulbs in them with ones that have earned the ENERGY STAR, each family would save about $60 every year in energy costs, and together we'd save about $6.5 billion each year in energy costs and prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions from more than 8 million cars.
They even have a store locator to help you these energy efficient lightbulbs. These bulbs produce "bright, warm light but uses at least 2/3 less energy than standard lighting, generates 70 percent less heat, and lasts up to 10 times longer." How's that for efficient use of time and energy? If that sounds good to you, then stop by a home products store, so you can change your lights and change the world.

"The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter - ’tis the difference between the lightning-bug and the lightning." - Mark Twain

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


For most of us, today's answer to "So what can I do" is simple: Go to the polls and VOTE. Think what a difference it would make if all those who are eligible were registered and voted. Here's your chance to contribute to positive change. Don't miss out.

"Nothing is worse than active ignorance." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Friday, October 06, 2006

Follow through. (Blog Anniversary!)

During the week of October 6-12, "So what can I do" celebrates two years online! It's our blog anniversary! This blog is such a joy to write because the research and writing process is so uplifting. There are so many people who are consciously altering their behavior to make the world a better place! I like to think that this blog contributes to those efforts. In today's post, I ask you to tell me about how you've followed through on the suggestions presented here.

* Have you started donating blood?
* Do you now click everyday to make free donations?
* Have you written a letter for change?
* How was your socially-responsible wedding or celebration?
* Have you been recycling batteries or other items?
* Are you now using cloth napkins or cloth diapers?

Let us know what you are doing to make a difference. Leave a suggestion for the next year of this blog. Identify your favorite post and share it with a friend. Leave an update on how you've followed through on the ideas presented here.

So, at least for this post, instead of asking "So what can I do" ask yourself "So what have I done?" And leave a comment with your answer. Thanks for reading and leaving comments, and for the contributions you are making to make life better for all of us. And please spread the word. On to year three!

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous. Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn't serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others." - Maryanne Williamson, as quoted by Nelson Mandela in his 1994 inaugural address.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Get a free car seat inspection.

Just this weekend, my mother saw a woman riding with two children under the age of two who were not buckled in their child safety seats. She tried to talk to the woman about ways to ensure her children's safety, but unfortunately, the woman seemed unreceptive. She should have listened: car crashes are the number one killer of children and 80% of car seats are installed incorrectly.

Child safety seats save lives, but they must be correctly installed. Thankfully, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, National Transportation Safety Board, and the National Safety Council have joined with others to form They'll help you make sure your car seat is installed correctly. Here's how you can use this wonderful resource:

* Call 1-866-SEAT CHECK (1-866-732-8243) to get information on free child safety seat inspections. Information is available in Spanish and English.

* Visit to find a free child safety seat inspection site near you. The site is also available in Spanish.

Remember, this is important not only for parents of infants and small children, but also for anyone who transports a child in a motor vehicle. (Good call, Dawn!) Also, if the cost of a car seat is prohibitive, call your local department of motor vehicles. Your state may have a program that provides free or reduced price car seats to those who qualify.

So do something good for your child or the child you carry in your car. Get your child safety seat inspected, and keep children safe. Call or visit today!

"History teaches that grave threats to liberty often come in times of urgency, when constitutional rights seem too extravagant to endure." -Thurgood Marshall, US Supreme Court Justice (1908-1993)

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Trick or treat for good.

It's hard to believe that it's almost Halloween. If you are preparing to trick-or-treat or to receive trick-or-treaters, consider these ways to trick-or-treat for good:

* Trick-or-treat for Sight Night and collect used glasses that will be recycled "for our international missions to developing countries" The Lions Club and Luxottica Retail, which sponsor the event, "will travel on 12 international missions, where they will work with Lions clubs to hand-deliver free eye exams and used glasses to more than 200,000 people in developing countries."
--> Call SightNight toll-free at 1-877-605-4242 for more information or to order your free collection kit.
--> Download collection materials here
--> Order your free collection kit here.

* Collect canned goods - Your child's organization can initiate a drive to trick-or-treat for nonperishable foods. Food can then be donated to a local food bank. Or collect clothes or coats for a local shelter. This is a great way to have a direct benefit on your or a neighboring community.

* Trick-or-treat for UNICEF and be a part of a 56-year tradition of helping children worldwide. Collect monetary donations that will save and improve lives. For example, "30¢ provides lifesaving antibiotics for a child suffering from pneumonia. $1 immunizes a child against the deadly disease measles. $10 provides enough high-protein biscuits to feed three hungry children for one month." Kits are available in the US, Mexico, Hong Kong, and Canada. Call UNICEF toll-free at 1.800.4UNICEF for more information or to order your free collection kit.

* Give fair trade chocolates to the trick-or-treater at your door. That way your gift will help cocoa farmers earn a living. Or scrap the candy all-together in favor or non-food items. Kids with diabetes and some other conditions will thank you.

These are just a few of the ways you and your child can make a difference this Halloween. And that's what every day and holiday should be about.

"An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind." ~ Mohandas Gandhi

Friday, September 29, 2006


It's quite a feat when a proper noun becomes a verb. Google is using some of its might and money for good, and you can get involved. Consider these opportunities:

* Google Grants "is a unique in-kind advertising program. It harnesses the power of our flagship advertising product, Google AdWords, to non-profits seeking to inform and engage their constituents online. Google Grants has awarded AdWords advertising to hundreds of non-profit groups whose missions range from animal welfare to literacy, from supporting homeless children to promoting HIV education."

* Google Scholarships are available for students in the US, Europe and Australia. Specific funds target women, black and Hispanic students, and students outside the US who are studying computer science and other science, technology and engineering disciplines.

* "Acumen Fund: a non-profit venture fund that invests in market-based solutions to global poverty. The Fund supports entrepreneurial approaches to developing affordable goods and services for the 4 billion people in the world who live on less than $4 a day."

* "TechnoServe helps budding entrepreneurs turn good business ideas into thriving enterprises. With funding from the Google Foundation, they are launching a Business Plan Competition and an Entrepreneurship Development Program in Ghana."

Check out the websites and consider the ways you can act:

--> tell others who may be interested
--> donate time or money
--> apply for a scholarship, funding or service

Google is definitely more than a search engine, and you may be able to help them in their mission for good.

"A googol is precisely as far from infinity as is the number one." - Carl Sagan

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Be a Hometown Helper.

Nonprofit organizations do such good work, but they often operate on a shoestring budget. Here's an opportunity to help out your favorite local non-profit group. I recently received the following email:
The folks over at Hamburger Helper are conducting a grant contest for local non-profit groups raising funds to positively impact their community in some way. I thought that, as a blog that deals with social change, you or someone that you know could benefit from the grant opportunity.  

Here’s how it works: Every month through May 2007, Hamburger Helper will donate up to $15,000 to eligible 501(c)(4) "hometown" organizations.  All a group has to do to win is to register online with and complete an essay of two hundred and fifty words or less describing how they the need help.

All of the application information can be found at
This is an excellent opportunity for local nonprofits to get some of the financial help they may really need. If you are affiliated with such an organization apply today. If you know of an organization that could use some 'hometown help', forward this post to them. (Just click the white envelope below.) Thanks Melanie!

"Always do right -- this will gratify some and astonish the rest." -- Mark Twain (1835 - 1910)

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Make yourself useful.

Some of my favorite ways to give have nothing to do with how much money one has, little to do with how much time one can spare, aren't related to how much education one has. We all have a body and can use it to be of service, perhaps in ways we haven't considered. In addition to volunteering your time, contributing financially, and donating resources, consider these seven ways to make yourself useful:

* Donate blood. - Every two seconds someone needs blood. Donation of one pint takes about one hour, and 60% of people can donate every 56 days. Consider making regular blood donation a way of life.

* Donate platelets. - Platelets are required for blood clotting and are used in surgeries, transplants, and during cancer therapy. Donation takes about 2.5 hours and require an appointment. Most folks can donate every three days.

* Donate organs. - Every day, 16 people die while waiting for an organ transplant. Consider donating your organs after your death, and be sure to share your decision with your family members.

* Donate umbilical cord blood. - Pregnant women and their partners may want to donate their child's umbilical cord blood. It can be used in biomedical research or to cure sickle cell anemia, lymphoma, leukemia, and some other blood diseases.

* Donate marrow. - Bone marrow can be used in biomedical research or to cure sickle cell anemia, lymphoma, leukemia, and some other blood diseases. Consider joining the marrow registry. You'll only be called if someone in need matches your marrow. And you can always say no.

* Donate milk. Your excess breast milk can improve the health or save the life of a baby. Not all babies can thrive off formula, and not all mothers can provide the breast milk their baby needs. Your milk can help.

* Donate your body. -Donating your body to science is a great way to support medical and forensic training and research and make a truly lasting contribution. Make sure to share your wishes with your family.

* Donate hair. - Your long hair can be used to make hairpieces for financially disadvantaged children who have long-term hair loss for medical reasons. Go get the scissors. It's just hair; it'll grow back.

Click the links to get information on how to make these donations. These are some great ways to share your body with others, and save or improve a life while you're at it! And remember, if you are unable to donate in these ways, you can always donate money, time, or other resources, and spread the word to others who may want to help.

"Aim above morality. Be not simply good, be good for something." -- Henry David Thoreau (1817 - 1862)

Monday, September 11, 2006

Choose recycled products.

I've written a lot about the merits of recycling. But what happens to all those goods you've been so dutifully recycling? There are numerous companies that offer useful and creative products made from recycled goods. Here are some ideas and resources you may want to explore:

* Paper - Recycled paper products are widely available, not only for offices but also for invitations, stationary, and more. Remember to choose products with the highest percentage of post-consumer waste.

* Biodiesel - What a great way to reuse grease! Emory University will soon use biodiesel to fuel most of its shuttle fleet.

* Jewelry - Gold, jewels and other metals are turned into beautiful, wearable art by companies like greenKarat.

* Compost - Turn your kitchen waste into a rich source of nutrients for your garden, yard, and other plants.

* Trees - Let no fallen tree go to waste. CitiLogs to the rescue!

* Clothes - Shop at resale and consignment shops. Host a clothes swap. Visit garage sales. You'll be amazed at the high quality items you'll find, and the bargain prices you'll pay. Do it because you want to, even if you don't have to.

* Printer cartridges - When you recycle printer cartridges, they are bought by companies who refill them with ink and sell them for less than brand-new cartridges. What a way to save money and reduce waste!

Remember, reduce, reuse, recycle, restore, in that order. And choose the products that make recycling work.

"Action indeed is the sole medium of expression for ethics." -- Jane Addams (1860 - 1935)

Friday, September 08, 2006

Lead with experience.

Recently the first five winners of The Purpose Prize were announced. This award provides "$100,000 each to people over 60 who are taking on society’s biggest challenges. It’s for those with the passion and experience to discover new opportunities, create new programs, and make lasting change." Ten more people won $10,000 prizes, and 55 others were named Purpose Prize Fellows. Importantly, this is not a 'lifetime achievement' award, but is intended to fund the excellent work these folks will do next. Here's how you can get involved:

* Spread the word about the Prize. Materials and support are available to organizations and people who want to help publicize this award.

* Nominate someone whose work you believe is worthy of the Purpose Prize. Nominations for the 2007 Prize will be accepted starting October 15, 2006.

* Be inspired by the work of the Purpose Prize Fellows. They are making a positive difference in our world and so can you. Start small, because every little bit helps. Need some ideas? Peruse the archives of So what can I do.

As the Purpose Prize Fellows show us, it's never to early to consider and live your purpose. And it's never too late to make a difference.

"To believe in something, and not to live it, is dishonest." -Mohandas K. Gandhi (1869-1948)

Friday, September 01, 2006

Get more ideas.

They say there's nothing new under the sun. And, as you might expect, there are lots of other blogs out there with a mission similar to So what can I do. Perhaps you'd like to check some of them out for more ideas on how you can make a positive difference in our world. Here are a few I know about. If you know of others, send them along and I'll add them to the list.

* Have Fun • Do Good - "A blog for people who want to make the world a better place AND have fun!"

* Over alle kleine beetjes die helpen - "The title "About all small things that make a difference" is based on the Dutch saying "All small things (little bits) contribute". Though I write in dutch mainly the topics are very similar: tips (or inspiration) on doing those things in your own life that make the world a better place, bit by bit." (primarily in Dutch)

* But what can I do? - "We all know that this world needs some serious improvement, but it all seems so overwhelming at times. This site will give you some simple, practical steps that you can take to help right the wrongs."

* Seth's Postcards for Good - "These are the postcards I write to promote the environment, social justice, democracy, health, education and freedom. Start a postcard or open letter blog for yourself and comment to let me know. We'll link our blogs and make a network for change. See the instructions at right for more information. Thanks for looking... but it's not enough to just look— act!"

* Open Letters for Change - "Open Letters For Change is a collection of letters of concern to elected officials, to the media, thought leaders, or to others in positions of power. The comment following each letter lists the information sources and other details which you can use to compose your own letter for change. Together we can make a meaningful and positive difference in our world."

* So what can I do - "A public service weblog promoting ethics in action"

* Social Change Sites "Sites that change the world. Social Change Sites is a directory of nonprofit, grassroots, and advocacy campaign web sites."

And if you prefer your media off-line, check out these books:

* 365 Ways to Change the World: How to make a difference... one day at a time

* The Revolution: A Field Manual for Changing Your World

If you know of blogs, books or other media that should be included here, send your suggestions to or write a comment. Thanks! Now let's get started!

"Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined." - Henry David Thoreau

Monday, August 21, 2006

Furnish from the heart.

We've been doing a lot of cleaning up and discarding lately, and in the process have found numerous items that can be donated for reuse or recycled. We knew what to to with the old rechargable batteries, the clothes we no longer wear, the old cell phones, excess school supplies and some other stuff. But what about the furniture we no longer needed? It can be hard to find an agency that will accept and use good quality, used furniture. That's where NFBA comes in.

The National Furniture Bank Association "is a non-profit association representing almost 70 furniture banks across America. The mission of the NFBA is simple - increase the capacity of existing furniture banks, and open new ones." They list several reasons to donate furniture:
* It's a very worthy cause. We all want to ensure that no child in America has to sleep on the floor.

* Furniture banks make it easy for people to dispose of furniture they're planning to replace. It will go directly to a family in need of essential home furnishings.

* Lastly, it's good, green thinking. Furniture banks keep thousands of tons of items from going into incinerators or landfills every year.

And they make it easy. Just click to find the furniture bank nearest you. We used the Furniture Bank of Metro Atlanta. They picked up our items and the donation is tax-deductible! You can't beat it.

So next time you need to dispose of furniture you're planning to replace, consider donating it to the furniture bank nearest you. You'll love providing "Furnishings from the Heart." (Thanks, Kwadjo!)

"The penalty good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men." - Plato

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Re-envision your 'trash.'

They say one person's trash is another person's treasure, and when you consider what you put into the trash, you'll find that's the truth. We throw away so much that can be reused, refashioned, and recycled; it's a shame to waste so much when there are other alternatives. Here are some ways you can re-envision your 'trash' and reduce your waste:

* Don't waste your newborn's umbilical cord blood. Donate it for use in biomedical research or life-saving medical treatment.

* Don't waste napkins or diapers. Use cloth ones that can be washed an reused over and over again.

* Don't waste your body or organs after death. Donate them for medical treatment or for medical or forensic training.

* Don't waste your hair. When you cut it, donate it it to Locks of Love.

* Don't waste fruit and vegetable peelings and other plant matter. Compost it instead.

* Don't waste the bounty from your garden. Donate it to a local food bank or food rescue organization.

* Don't waste things that can be recycled. They still have life left.

* Don't waste gas. Drive gently.

* Don't waste time. If you ever begin to think you're bored, check out So what can I do for some productive and meaningful ways to spend your time.

"Waste not, want not;" that's how the old saying goes. Words to live by!

"There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered." - Nelson Mandela

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Don't forget.

Sometimes we have the best intentions, but with our busy lives it can be easy to forget to do the things we want to do to make the world a better place. Well, forget tying a string around your finger, or putting a wastepaperbasket in the middle of the floor, reminding has moved into the 21st century! Here are several free email reminder services (here, here, here, and here) that you can use to help you remember to do the things you want (and need) to do. For example,

* Remember to give blood every 56 days to save three people's lives.
* Remember to change your car oil, recycle the waste oil, and replace with synthetic oil.
* Remember to cut your hair and donate it it to Locks of Love.
* Remember to click everyday to make free donations to worthwhile charities.
* Remember to visit your weekly or monthly local farmer's market to stock up on locally-grown fresh foods.
* Remember to read So what can I do for the latest ways to make a difference.

Soon these activities will become a habit, like brushing your teeth, buying gas for your car, or purchasing your monthly transit pass, and you won't need a reminder. But until that happens, use one of the free reminder services to make sure you are doing all you can to improve yourself and improve our world.

"Ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have." -James Baldwin, writer (1924-1987)

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Be an Energy Star.

In these days of high fuel costs, energy-related pollution, and development of 'alternative' energy sources, it can be confusing for the cost and environmentally minded consumer to make wise appliance, construction and home-improvement choices. That's where Energy Star comes in. is "a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy helping us all save money and protect the environment through energy efficient products and practices. Americans, with the help of ENERGY STAR, saved enough energy in 2005 alone to avoid greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those from 23 million cars — all while saving $12 billion on their utility bills."

Check out these ways to save money, while reducing harm to the environment, in your home and business:

* "Products in more than 40 categories are eligible for the ENERGY STAR. They use less energy, save money, and help protect the environment."

* Remodeling suggestions will help you "reduce energy costs will make your home more comfortable and help protect the environment."

* Your new home can be Energy Star Qualified, making your home more comfortable, and helping to protect the environment.

* Business improvement strategies may help you lower costs and distinguish your organization. also has educational information, advice on the use of tax credits, lists of and tips for selecting service providers, and much more. It makes it that much easier to be an Energy Star.

Sometimes I think I'm runnin' out of energy
Seems like we use an awful lot for
Heatin' and lightin' and drivin'
Readin' and writin' and jivin'
Energy ... You'd think we'd be savin' it up."
- George R. Newall (Schoolhouse Rock)

Monday, July 31, 2006

Donate your body to science.

I've written a lot about the numerous ways to donate life. But if those don't appeal to you (or even if they do) perhaps you'll consider donating your body to science. Interested? Here are two of your options:

* Most medical schools will consider body donations as they are used to teach medical students, practice surgery, do research and more. Contact a medical school near you to get more information. Click for a list of the 125 accredited medical schools in the US, the 17 schools in Canada, and body donation resources in the UK. For an example of the information you'll find, check out the information site for UAMS.
Note that you will not be able to donate your organs if you donate your body to a medical school.

* The Anthropological Research Facility at the University of Tennessee accepts donated bodies to "scientifically document postmortem change." This is important "for providing education and training in forensic anthropology and skeletal biology for students and law enforcement agencies." This so-called "Body Farm" is the only facility of its kind in the world. Donation is free if you are within 200 miles of the University, otherwise there will be transportation costs.
Note that donation to the Body Farm does not prevent donation of other organs or tissues.

Remember, US law prohibits medical schools or state anatomical boards in the United States from purchasing bodies from families or estates. Also, all bodies may not be acceptable so you may need to consider an alternative plan. Include your wishes in your will, and make sure to share your desires with your family.

Donating your body to science is a great way to support medical and forensic training and research and make a truly lasting contribution!

"People living deeply have no fear of death." - Anais Nin

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Spend a year in service.

I've written before about opportunities to spend two years in service. Now, here's a wonderful opportunity for young people to spend one year in service.
City Year seeks to demonstrate, improve and promote the concept of national service as a means for building a stronger democracy. An action tank is both a program and a think tank - constantly combining theory and practice to advance new policy ideas, make programmatic breakthroughs, and bring about major changes in society.
There are three major program areas:

* Full-time youth service corps - "City Year’s signature program, the City Year youth service corps, unites more than 1,000 young adults, ages 17-24, from diverse backgrounds for a demanding year of full-time community service, leadership development, and civic engagement."

* Large-scale, high-impact community events - "City Year unites thousands of people each year in completing critical service projects to revitalize their communities, fostering a spirit of civic engagement and bringing together community members from all walks of life."

* National service policies and initiatives - "By generating new, innovative policy ideas and leading discussion around these ideas, City Year seeks to build awareness and support for citizen service among leaders and key stakeholders across the country and the world."

Sound like something you or someone you know would be interested in? Then get involved! Check out the City Year sites (the newest one is in Little Rock!) and apply online. If City Year hasn't yet come to your town, start a new site. What a great way to make your city a better place to live.

"Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are." -Benjamin Franklin, statesman, author, and inventor (1706-1790) [But are any of us really unaffected?]

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Use cloth napkins.

Several years ago, when I was in college, some friends and I drove from Swarthmore to Little Rock to spend spring break in the South. We had a great time, and my mom enjoyed getting to know my friends better. One of them was an environmentalist; he recycled, was a vegetarian, chose reusable mugs over paper or styrofoam, used handkerchiefs, you get the idea. After we used paper napkins for a few meals, he asked my mother if she had ever considered using cloth napkins instead of paper ones. Well, my mother's frugal person and a seamstress, and she always has extra fabric around the house, so we had cloth napkins by the end of the week!

Here are some reasons you may want to use cloth napkins too:

* Cloth napkins are less expensive, even with washing. Just throw them in with your regular load. That's what we do.

* Cloth napkins are easy to make. You can use almost any spare or scrap fabric, reducing the cost even further. Here are some other directions, if you prefer.

* Cloth napkins last forever or pretty close to it. This dramatically cuts down paper waste.

Some folks think cloth napkins are a little too fancy for everyday use. But remember, you can make them out of anything (prints, colors, cottons, not just white or black linen), and once you use your cloth napkins with some buffalo fish or some barbecue, you'll forget you ever thought they were 'too fancy.' They can be keepsakes too! My mother made the napkins for our wedding, and after laundering them, gave sets to family members (including us) to mark the occasion. We love using our wedding napkins for everyday meals, as it reminds us of our wonderful day.

My mother still uses cloth napkins exclusively, and she gave me my first batch just after I got my first apartment. So give cloth napkins a try. You may never go back to paper. (Thanks Aaron! Thanks Mommy!)

“Paper napkins never return from a laundry - nor love from a trip to the law courts.” - John Barrymore, American stage and film Actor. 1882-1942

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Use cloth diapers.

During the first few years of life, most babies go through 6000-7000 diaper changes. That's a lot a diapers, particularly when they're going into landfills. Thankfully there's a better option: cloth diapers. Here are just a few reasons why:

* Cloth diapers are less expensive than disposables when you wash them yourself. And the laundry burden isn't that great: just two extra loads a week. Remember, if you have more than one child, your cost per change is even less since you can reuse the diapers.

* Cloth diapers make potty training easier since they don't mask the feel of wetness like disposables. Some studies show cloth diapered children potty train 6 months earlier than those wearing disposables.

* Cloth diapers are more 'breathable'. This may help prevent diaper rash, and the diapers keep your baby cooler in hot weather.

"But aren't cloth diapers too much trouble?"

Not anymore. Today's cloth diapers are MUCH BETTER than they used to be! They come in various styles, many of which are as easy to use as disposables. They're already folded, require no dunking in the toilet, or boiling; and forget about pins. Today's diapers have Velcro or multiple snaps enabling you to continue to use the diapers as your baby grows. If you hated those plastic pants from before, try today's diaper covers and all-in-one diapers. And the absorbent liners make cloth diapers perfect for nighttime.

So before you nix the idea of cloth diapers, do a little research and consider cloth diapers. They may well be the very best option for your baby, your wallet, and our earth.

"Man is born a predestined idealist, for he is born to act. To act is to affirm the worth of an end, and to persist in affirming the worth of an end is to make an ideal." - Oliver Wendell Holmes

Monday, June 26, 2006

Get smart about antibiotics.

Anyone who's worked with bacteria in the lab knows that antibiotic resistance occurs regularly. In the lab, this can be a good thing, depending on your experiment, but in public health and medicine, it is a very big problem:
Over the last decade, almost every type of bacteria has become stronger and less responsive to antibiotic treatment when it is really needed. These antibiotic-resistant bacteria can quickly spread to family members, schoolmates, and co-workers - threatening the community with a new strain of infectious disease that is more difficult to cure and more expensive to treat.

Perhaps you can see why antibiotic resistance has been called one of the world's major public health concerns. For that reason, in 1995, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) started a National Campaign for Appropriate Antibiotic Use in the Community that "promotes four strategies that clinicians can use to prevent antimicrobial resistance among different groups of patients.

1. Prevent infection.
2. Diagnose and treat infection effectively.
3. Use antimicrobials wisely.
4. Prevent transmission.

This post focuses on responsible public use of antibiotics. Here are five things you can do to reduce the growth and spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria (microbes):

--> Do not take an antibiotic for a viral infection like a cold or the flu. Antibiotics kill bacteria, not viruses.

--> Do not save some of your antibiotic for the next time you get sick. Discard any leftover medication once you have completed your prescribed course of treatment. Don't share your antibiotic with others.

--> Take an antibiotic exactly as the healthcare provider tells you. Do not skip doses. Complete the prescribed course of treatment even if you are feeling better. If treatment stops too soon, some bacteria may survive and re-infect you or another.

--> Do not take antibiotics prescribed for someone else. The antibiotic may not be appropriate for your illness. Taking the wrong medicine may delay correct treatment, increase resistance, and allow bacteria to multiply.

--> Do not pressure your healthcare provider to prescribe an antibiotic. If your provider determines that you do not have a bacterial infection, ask about ways to help relieve your symptoms.

So if you are going to take antibiotics, take them as directed. Get smart. Take antibiotics responsibly, not only for for your own health, but for that of those in your family and community.

"The misuse of penicillin could be the propagation of mutant forms of bacteria that would resist the new miracle drug." - Alexander Fleming, discoverer of penicillin, as quoted in a 1945 New York Times interview

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Practice random acts of kindness.

I love random acts of kindness. They are such a simple way to brighten someone's day. And I smile along the way two. Hopefully, you don't have too much trouble thinking of and acting on ways to be kind, but just in case, here are two sites devoted to spreading random acts of kindness:

* Random Acts of Kindness Foundation "inspires people to practice kindness and to “pass it on” to others. We provide free educational and community ideas, guidance, and other resources to kindness participants through our website at

* works to "encourage 'small acts with great love'" because "kindness is contagious."

Visit these sites and find:

--> Ideas for kind acts.
--> E-cards and smile cards to spread kindness.
--> Newsletters, inspirational stories, quotes and much more.

Inspired? Motivated to act? Let us know about your random act of kindness (given or received). And remember to spread the love.

"No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted." - Aesop

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Read. SWCID reviews "The Revolution: A Field Manual for Changing Your World."

Readers of So what can I do know that this site is committed to helping each of us do all we can to make a positive difference in our world. That focus comes, in part, from my Christian faith. So it is fitting that I was asked to review The Revolution: A Field Manual for Changing Your World.

The Revolution" consists of twelve chapters, each written by a different Christian author on a different social justice issue. Topics include hunger, torture, gang violence, and human trafficking, among others. Contributers come from a variety of Christian traditions and work in the areas they write about. The essays are not only meant to inform, but also to motivate, and they do just that. The writers offer personal experiences, physical and spiritual, that help clarify the reasons for and value of their work. These essays, along with the accompanying motivational quotes and scriptural references provide a valuable resource for those who are thinking and praying about how best to do the work we are put here to do.

Since the book is aimed at Christians who are interested in living the commandment to 'love thy neighbor', the writers aren't out to convert anyone. That may make reading and using it possible for those who are committed to social change and are not Christian. I appreciate that since we're all God's children.

Each chapter has sidebars entitled Donate, Educate, Activate and Pray, which give short practical steps to alleviating the social problem discussed in the chapter. Three appendices list additional ways to act, scriptural references, and organizational resources. These are great but more information should be provided. For example, the appendix listing "More ways to take action" is a list of simple imperative sentences with no other details. The "Scriptures on Justice and Mercy" list only the chapter and verse, but don't quote the Biblical text. That said, one could argue that that encourages the reader to pick up the Bible and read the translation of her choice.

While I generally enjoyed The Revolution and will refer to it for new resources to profile in So what can I do, I do have one major concern. Each chapter opens with a colonial-era map of a country or region that is referenced in the text. I find it difficult to understand why out-of-date political maps were used, particularly since they allude to horrific activities that occurred world wide, often in the name of Christ. Many countries are identified by colonial names (for example, "Rhodesia" instead of Zimbabwe) and a Eurocentric perspective is strongly implied. This is unfortunate, since growing numbers of the world's Christians are not European or of European descent. Given the unjust and decidedly un-Christian roles of many Christians and Christian missionaries in imperialism and colonialism, the use of maps that reference these acts is troubling.

Whether or not you are motivated by faith, The Revolution is a valuable resource, especially for those who know that there is more we all can do to improve our world and are ready to get started in that work.

Heather Zydek's The Revolution: A Field Manual for Changing Your World is published by Relevant Books and is available for $8.99. (Thanks Susan!)

"When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace." -Jimi Hendrix, musician, singer, and songwriter (1942-1970)

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Join Rock Corps.

Rock Corps works around a simple concept, "You've got to give to get." In this case, Give four hours of volunteer work, and get a ticket to a concert. There are some great bands on tour this summer and tickets can be hard to get and expensive. Why not join Rock Corps and do some good for your community and for your self? Visit to learn more, find your volunteer opportunity, and get your concert ticket.

Rock Corps hasn't spread all over the US yet, so contact Rock Corps at or 1 (888) ROCK - 889 to get it started in your area. Rock on! (Thanks Kwadjo!)

"Exuse me while I kiss the sky." - Jimi Hendrix

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Consider synthetic oil.

I've written before about biodiesel, hybrid cars, and other ways your fuel and car choice can affect the environment, national economy and more. But what if it's not time for a new car? Even if you are not ready for a new alternative fuel vehicle, you can make a positive contribution to our world by choosing synthetic oil over petroleum-based oils. Here's what you need to know:

When one considers manufacturing and engine use, synthetic oils produce just as much pollution as petroleum-based oils. BUT, since synthetics last three or more times longer than petroleum-based oils, they don't have to be changed as often. That means less total oil is used. That's important since 40% of used oil is dumped on the ground or down the sewer, polluting the environment. Plus, it's more convenient!

Want to know more?

* Learn about used oil pollution. For example, "it is estimated at present that over 240 million gallons of oil are improperly discarded annually. Dumping 240 million gallons of oil is nearly the same as two Exxon Valdez spills each month. How dangerous is used oil? Just one quart can produce a two-acre oil slick. One gallon of oil can make one million gallons of water too foul to drink and 35 ppm of oil will kill fish. Improperly disposed used oil is dangerous."

* Consider this FAQ from Quaker State. It will address many of your questions about use of synthetics, switching to synthetics, etc.

* Read your car owner's manual to see if your car can use synthetic oil. For example, Mazda engines cannot.

* Recycle used oil it when you remove it, regardless of which type you use. "Just one gallon of used oil can contaminate 1 million gallons of water. Recycling your used motor oil keeps it out of our rivers, lakes, streams and even the ground water. In many cases, that means keeping it out of our drinking water, off our beaches, and away from wildlife." There are sites all over that will accept used motor oil for recycling. Consider these in the UK, and the US. In the US, you can call 1-800-CLEANUP (1-800-253-2687) to find a collection center near you. Some oil change companies, like Jiffy Lube, will accept used motor oil for recycling. Never dump oil down a storm drain.

So next time your car is due for an oil change, recycle the used oil and consider replacing it with a synthetic oil. It's better for the environment and easier on you.

"Remember not only to say the right thing in the right place, but far more difficult still, to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment." - Benjamin Franklin

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Get into the game.

I missed Blogging Against Disablism Day two weeks ago, but here's my entry anyway. Better late than never, right?

I've written before about how to use entertainment media as opportunities to learn. Here's another way you can do that.

Get into the Game is a social action campaign that uses the hit documentary Murderball to increase public awareness about people with disabilities and to raise funds for the U.S. Paralympics. Haven't seen it?
Murderball is a film about tough, highly competitive rugby players. Quadriplegic rugby players. Whether by car wreck, fist fight, gun shot, or rogue bacteria, these men were forced to live life sitting down. In their own version of the full-contact sport, they smash the hell out of each other in custom-made gladiator-like wheelchairs. And no, they don't wear helmets.

From the gyms of middle America to the Olympic arena in Athens, Greece, MURDERBALL tells the story of a group of world-class athletes unlike any ever shown on screen. In addition to smashing chairs, it will smash every stereotype you ever had about the disabled. It is a film about family, revenge, honor, sex (yes, they can) and the triumph of love over loss. But most of all, it is a film about standing up, even after your spirit - and your spine - has been crushed.

So how can you get into the game?

* Host a screening of Murderball. They'll send a free DVD, tips for a successful screening, flyers, and more.

* Donate to the Paralympics Just $215 will provide a wheelchair to a deserving athlete. Pass the plate and enter your group donation online or send checks made out to the US Olympic Committee to:

Murderball Donations
PO Box 16699
Beverly Hills, CA 90209-2699

* Spread the word to others who may want to donate, participate or host a screening.

* Check yourself and make sure your language and actions don't promote the stereotypes or discrimination of disablism.

And if you want to host a double feature, check out Emmanuel's Gift, also available on DVD. Thanks for the tip, Nick! Now let's get into the game!

"Someday, I may get evidence that changes my beliefs about equality in parenting, about the commitments we should make to children, about the worthwhileness of life with disability . . . Perhaps someday I will change my beliefs. Perhaps I will change either my evaluation of existing evidence, my understanding of new evidence, or the values I bring to the debate. That is what life is about. Meanwhile, I must keep paying attention and keep speaking out.” - Adrienne Asch, 2001

Friday, May 12, 2006

Take care of yourself: MIND, body and soul.

May is National Mental Health Awareness Month. The Sisters of the Yam (best bookclub ever!) is commemorating the occasion by reading and discussing Bebe Moore Campbell's book 72 Hour Hold in which a major character has bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness). Here are some ways you may want to take note of National Mental Health Awareness Month and mind your health:

--> If you or someone you know is contemplating or attempting suicide, please call one of these national hotlines: 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433), 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) or for TTY, 1-800-799-4TTY (1-800-799-4889).

* Visit the National Mental Health Information Center to find mental health services in your area, look up mental health terms, consult the list of toll-free national hotlines and more. Resources are also available in Spanish.

* If you are suffering from addiction, perhaps in a conscious or subconscious effort to self-treat your own mental illness, GET HELP.

* If someone you love is suffering from addiction, perhaps in a conscious or subconscious effort to self-treat her or his own mental illness, GET HELP.

* If your emotional or mental state doesn't allow you to treat those you love in a way that honors them, GET HELP to stop the abuse.

* Consult this state-by-state list of mental health hotlines for more local resources.

* Peruse the online resources available from the National Mental Health Association. Many of them are available in English and Spanish.

Every month is a good month to MIND your health!

"One thing at a time, all things in succession. That which grows slowly endures." - J.G. Hubbard

Monday, May 01, 2006

Visit Thistle Farms.

Thistle Farms is "the cottage business of Magdalene, a two-year residential community for women with a criminal history of addiction and prostitution. Magdalene was created to provide a sanctuary in Nashville for women in need of a safe, disciplined and compassionate community." You can support the women of Magdalene by supporting Thistle Farms. Here's how:

--> Purchase Thistle Farms "balms, candles, sachets, eye pillows, bath salts and body scrub, which are made with the purest ingredients including cotton wicks, soybean based ecowax, sea salt and virgin olive oil and then placed in recyclable containers." You can bay a lip-balm for as little at $3 and know that the proceeds are going to a good cause.

--> Host a Thistle Farms Party. "Having a Thistle Farms party means giving and receiving three ways. We give you a hostess gift as thanks, you'll receive the gift of knowing you've helped make Thistle Farms and the women of Magdalene stronger, and you'll experience the power of the women's stories and the joy of having shared it with your friends. Magdalene women are available to speak in person at parties in the Nashville area, and satellite parties can be arranged for hosts outside of Nashville.

--> Volunteer at Thistle Farms or Magdalene. "Volunteering at Magdalene provides the opportunity to work with a great team and have a lot of fun while providing a valuable contribution of your skills and time."

--> Donate financially to Magdalene. Your contribution will help "provide sanctuary and work to women who are taking the hard steps towards breaking the cycle of prostitution and addiction. Your support covers the cost of the food, supplies, utilities, maintenance, medical care, clothing, educational expenses and salaries that make Magdalene work."

Learn more about Magdalene, and you too will want to support their work.

"Love is the ability and willingness to allow those that you care for to be what they choose for themselves without any insistence that they satisfy you." - Wayne Dyer

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Go WWOOFing.

Amazingly enough, this has nothing to do with barking dogs, or stereo equipment. The International WWOOF Association is an organizes "world-wide opportunities on organic farms." In exchange for volunteer work on a farm, WWOOFers get free room and board, training on organic farming, and an experience they'll never forget. Interested?

* There are a wide variety of farms. "WWOOF hosts are mainly pursuing a simple, sustainable, lifestyle. Many are practising Permaculture or Bio-dynamic growing methods. Some farms are commercial producers, whether full or part time; others are alternative co-operatives or communities."

* There are numerous locations all over the world. You can visit and volunteer in countries like China, Ghana, Mexico Turkey, and many others. And there are farms all over the US and the EU.

* There are opportunities for WWOOF hosts. If you run an organic farm, consider hosting WWOOFers. You meet interesting people and get some extra hands to help with labor.

The WWOOF website has much more information including an FAQ, a WWOOF history, and everything else you need to plan your trip. It's a great way to be of service, see someplace new, and learn an awful lot. Have fun farming!

"What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal." - Albert Pike

Monday, April 17, 2006

Be an activist.

As I wrote that title, I realized that you probably already are an activist. I mean, you're reading So what can I do so you're clearly on the lookout for ways to make our world a better place. Maybe you recycle. Perhaps you donate life. Or ride transit. Or click every day. See, you are already an activist!

Here are resources you can use to broaden the things you do that will make our lives better:

* Alice Dreger's Top Ten Tips for Doing Activism in Academia. This is a wonderful resource for folks in academe. You may also want to check out her recent post on The Bioethics Forum.

* Elizabeth May's How to be an activist. She works for the Sierra Club so she writes with an eye to environmental issues. But her advice can be more broadly applied.

* The Activist's Handbook from is "a pretty good practical introduction to being politically active."

* The United Methodist Church provides these tips on How to be an Activist taken from

So what can I do is filled with other resources you can use to make a positive difference in your world. Remember you don't have to do all of the things on this list. Start with one or two, the ones you feel most comfortable with. Then move on from there. 'Activism' is not a bad word. Neither is 'protest'. Some may want to march on Washington. Others may want to write a letter to their newspaper or senator. Still others may want to volunteer in their community. Many will do all three and then some. Those of us who understand that we have the power to change our world must figure how to make those words and actions relevant in our own lives. It's part of being the best person one can be.

"Be the change you want to see in the world." - Mahatma Ghandi

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Walk the World.

In just 53 days, people in over 50 countries will walk to fight hunger. The UN World Food Program is organizing the Walk The World event for May 21, 2006 in order to "raise the funds and awareness we need to end child hunger". Here's how you can get involved:

* Walk in your area to raise money and awareness. If there's no organized walk in your town, plan one!

* Donate to the World Food Programme and feed a child. Donations in Canada, US, and Japan are tax deductible.

* Click the bright orange button and trigger a donation (free to you) that will provide a child a free school lunch. I click everyday.

So Walk the World. It's another great way to walk with a purpose.

"Love is the ability and willingness to allow those that you care for to be what they choose for themselves without any insistence that they satisfy you." - Wayne Dyer

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Nurse America to health.

Nurses for America has joined with AmeriCorps to "make a difference in the health of Americans across the country". Their mission:
"to increase access to nursing care for underserved, vulnerable populations and improve the quality of health care services delivered by community health centers and state and local public health agencies. Nurses for America will enhance the knowledge and skills of nurses to provide care in these settings and for these populations, while promoting service and civic engagement."

What a wonderful way to serve! Registered nurses can sign up for a two-year salaried position at a community health center, faith-based neighborhood clinic or public health department. In addition to an education award and student loan deferment, participants receive a 2-week intensive training, mentorship, and continuing education. For more information, visit or contact Nurses for America at (202) 687-4772 or

This is one of many ways to spend two years in service or prepare for a Masters in Public Service from the Clinton School of Public Service.

"Happiness is something that comes into our lives through doors we don't even remember leaving open." - Rose Wilder Lane

Friday, March 03, 2006

Design a better world.

Ever thought about how to design earthquake resistant schools? What about tsunami resistant homes? Inexpensive, but functional refugee housing? These and other design and architecture challenges are being met everyday by the folks at Architecture for Humanity. If you are an architecture or design student or professional, or if you just like good design, take note:
Architecture for Humanity is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization founded in 1999 to promote architectural and design solutions to global, social and humanitarian crises. Through competitions, workshops, educational forums, partnerships with aid organizations and other activities, Architecture for Humanity creates opportunities for architects and designers from around the world to help communities in need. We believe that where resources and expertise are scarce, innovative, sustainable and collaborative design can make a difference.
If this sounds like the kind of work you like to support, check out these ways to get involved:

* Volunteer with AFH by spreading the word, fundraising, advocating and more.

* Donate either financially or in kind to support the work of AFH. They're non-profit so your gift will be tax-deductible.

* Learn more about humanitarian design and architecture. They even list socially responsible design education programs around the country.

* Buy cool stuff, and support AFH in the process.

Architecture for Humanity promotes "architectural responses to humanitarian crises". Their motto is "Design Like You Give a Damn". Sounds good to me!

"The best politics is right action." -Mohandas K. Gandhi (1869-1948)

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Donate your baby's cord blood.

Are you pregnant? Is someone you love? If so, then check this out: Your baby may be able to save someone's life just by being born. When you give birth, you have three options for what to do with the placenta and umbilical cord blood:

* Trash it. This is what usually happens. What a waste.
* Store it for possible use by you, your child or a member of your family.
* Donate it for public storage so that it can be used for research or to treat or save the life of an unrelated person.

Cord blood contains hematopoietic (blood-forming) cells. According to the National Marrow Donor Program, "Each year thousands of patients are diagnosed with life-threatening diseases that can be treated by rebuilding the patient's hematopoietic (blood cell producing) system with blood-forming cells. Umbilical cord blood is being studied as one of the sources of blood cells." So why throw cord blood away when it can be put to good use treating life-threating disease? Consider,
• Donating cord blood is medically safe. The cord blood is collected from the umbilical cord after your baby is born.
• Donation does not change the birth process.
• Donating cord blood is free to you and completely confidential.
Here's how to get started:

--> Learn more about cord blood donation. The NMDP has tons of information including an FAQ, eligibility guidelines, participating cord blood banks and hospitals and more.

--> Register to donate between your 28th and 35th week of pregnancy.

--> Contact Cryobanks International if there is no hospital in your area. Donations to Cryobanks are accepted from anywhere in the Continental United States. They'll come and pick it up, and remember donating is free. Cryobanks can be reached at or 1-800-869-8608.

Some expectant families may be considering storage for private use. Cryobanks has a quiz that can help you make the choice between private storage and public storage (donation).

Think about it. Talk about it with your partner. Pray about it. And consider what a blessing your child's birth can be to some other mother's child. Regardless of your decision, remember that there are many ways you can donate life.

"The future is already here. It's just not evenly distributed yet." - William Gibson (1999)

Friday, February 17, 2006

Dream locally.

Want to make a difference in your community? Short on cash to do so? Then this may be just the opportunity for you. New American Dream is offering five $1000 mini-grants to promote the Buying Wisely Locally Project.
Buying wisely (which sometimes means not buying) particularly calls for a local fingerprint, so we decided to start there. In the coming year, our team of organizers will personalize the tools from New Dream’s Buy Wisely and Conscious Consumer websites to develop a pocket guide to help members of their communities:
Buy Less – remembering that the most economical and earth-friendly purchase is often the one never made;
Buy Local – choosing products and businesses that support your neighbors, your downtown, and all the best parts of your community;
Buy in Line (with your values) – choosing products that are good for people, the planet, and everything you hold dear.
There are two ways to participate:

--> If you have a great idea, and have at least two to five hours a week to make it reality, apply for a mini-grant.

--> If you don't have at least two to five hours a week to spare, but still want to participate, apply to become a local advisor.

Visit New American Dream to complete either application. Hurry, the deadline for submission is March 20th. If you have questions, write New American Dream at . If you like, leave us a comment about your great idea. Maybe it will catch on! Even if you don't get a grant, you can still buy wisely locally, and encourage others to do the same.

"All that you touch you change. All the you change changes you." Octavia Butler, Parable of the Talents (1998)

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Do right by those you love.

Love does it's best. But sometimes it can be hard to do better or do your best even though we know we should, or know we can. When you get stuck in a place that is less than your best, and you know you need to do better but you can't, won't, don't know how, or are afraid to make a change, GET HELP. Click the links below to find the resources to improve your life.

--> If you are hurting or neglecting someone you love, your spouse, your partner, your child, your parent, your friend, yourself, or someone else, physically or emotionally, GET HELP. If you are being hurt, abused, or neglected by someone you love GET HELP.

--> If your emotional state or mental illness (depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, etc.) is causing you to hurt or neglect someone you love, your friend, your child, your partner, your parent, your spouse, yourself or someone else, physically or emotionally, GET HELP. If you are being hurt, abused, or neglected by someone you love, GET HELP.

--> If your addiction(s) is causing you to hurt or neglect someone you love, your partner, your friend, your child, your parent, your spouse, yourself or someone else, physically or emotionally, GET HELP. If you are being hurt, abused, or neglected by someone you love, GET HELP.

Sometimes we need help to do our best. And since those you love deserve your best, do all you can to improve yourself and your relationships. If you need a little help to do so, ask for it. There's no shame in getting help to be your best. It's what love demands. Honor those you love, including yourself, by being the best person you can be.

"Love feels no burden, regards not labors, strives toward more than it attains, argues not of impossibility, since it believes that it may and can do all things." - Thomas à Kempis (1380–1471), German monk

Monday, February 13, 2006

Click to donate.

If you click the icons at the bottom of the sideview, you will find lots of usage statistics about So what can I do. For example, earlier today, someone found So what can I do while google searching the phrase "how can i help the poor as a christian while i have so little resources?". Regular readers know that this blog is full of answers to that question. Here's just one:

Click to donate sites may constitute the fastest, easiest, most inexpensive, way ever to make a charitable contribution. Here's how they work: Advertisers on the sites make a charitable donation based on the number of clicks, which represent people who've seen their ads. More people clicking, means more viewers, means more money to support your favorite causes. To have the greatest impact, you should click every day. I do, as soon as I turn on my computer. It's a habit now.

Here are some click to donate sites you may want to patronize:

* Donation Junction has links to over 40 click to donate sites supporting a wide range of charitable organizations and good causes, from hunger to HIV. It's one stop clicking! You can visit their site in Italiano, Svenska, Suomi, Russkiy, Français , or English. Thanks for the tip, Red Elephant!

* Clicks on trigger contributions to support eight different causes from AIDS to the arts, education to the environment. Read more here.

* Visit and click to make a 25 cent donation towards a microloan. It may not sound like much but it adds up quickly when you click everyday. Learn more here.

* Click the button on to feed a child one school lunch. Imagine, a child will eat (and learn!) because of your efforts. This site is sponsored by OxFam. Read more here. Thanks for the tip, Meg!

* Gear that Gives hosts six different click to donate sites, including ones on literacy, breast cancer, hunger and rainforest preservation. Learn more here.

Choose your favorites, then click now, click daily and spread the word. Use the white envelope below to send this post to a friend. even offers free daily reminders to click. Clicking every day won't solve all our problems, but it will help. Remember, you can give more than just money. Give regularly of your time, talents, and resources. We can all contribute, and the different ways we give will help get the job done.

"The smallest light in the darkest conditions can give you all you need to get where you are going." - Juan Lane

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Be a fair trade valentine.

Valentine's Day is almost upon us. This year, why not treat yourself or your sweetie with some fair trade goodies? Fair trade (not free trade) ensures that the people who grow, manufacture and produce goods are paid and treated fairly. Fair trade allows workers, farmers, craftspeople and others to earn a living wage, support themselves and their families. Sometimes fair trade products may cost a little more, but remember there's often a high cost of low price.

Thankfully, lots of fair trade vendors are making it easy for you, just in time for Valentine's Day. These are just a few of your options:

* Ten Thousand Villages markets cards, candles, jewelry and more.

* No Sweat sells chocolate hearts and other products for your sweet.

* Global Exchange offers a Fair Trade Valentine's Day Action Kit with chocolates, cards, and more.

* Organic Consumers Association has a Valentine's Day buying guide and free Valentine's PDFs you can print out for cards.

So show your love for yourself, your honey, and your fellow human beings by purchasing fair trade products. Make global interdependence work for everyone. Enjoy!

"Before you've finished your breakfast this morning, you'll have relied on half the world." - Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Win $2000.

Time again for a trip to the mailbag. Natasha called my attention to a contest being sponsored by Citizens for Global Solutions, a non-profit organization working to build "a future in which nations work together to abolish war, protect our rights and freedoms, and solve the problems facing humanity that no nation can solve alone."
Citizens for Global Solutions is holding a contest for students, budding artists, multi-media designers, and activists who are interested in making some cool flash videos.  The top contenders will be published on our website for voting and the winners will get cash! We're looking for short flash movies that can inspire, amuse and activate people out there who believe a better world is possible.

Answer this question: Why do global problems matter to Americans and what do you think America should do about them?

Americans get mostly bad news every day about the rest of the world, given the media’s heavy emphasis on wars, conflicts, and humanitarian and natural disasters and the lack of emphasis on solutions. It can seem that global problems are too scary, too big and too numerous to handle. Well, there’s plenty of blame being thrown around for what isn’t working, but no one seems to have a positive vision of what can be done. You have a chance to inspire listeners with your vision of how America can work with other countries to make the world safer and better!
Registration and entry are free, and the top prize is $2000! So get your creative juices flowing and start making your flash movie. The deadline for submission is April 1, 2006. By inspiring others to make the world a better place, you'll become part of the solution.

"Lying is done with words and also with silence." -Adrienne Rich, writer and teacher (1929- )

Monday, February 06, 2006

Do good every day.

My friend Dawn alerted me to a book that should sit quite well with readers of So what can I do. 365 Ways to Change the World is subtitled "How to make a difference... one day at a time" Well, that's something I can get on board with!

Author Michael Norton suggests 365 ways you can make our world a better place. There's one for each day of the year. If you need extra ideas for leap day, just visit So what can I do! You can check it out from the library, order it online, or find it at your local or locally-owned bookstore. If you can't find it, just visit the website ( for more information and sample suggestions.

Between Norton's book and this blog, there's no excuse for not making a difference every day. Thanks for the tip, Dawn!

"None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free." - Johann Wolfgang van Goethe

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Share a ride.

Alexis sent a great tip today about
We are a rideshare matching service that is free and works anywhere in the US. Once you save your trip in the "My Trips" section, you can search our map - based interface to find other users making similar trips. You can message other users through the site, and give them a rating after you have completed a rideshare with them. Personal information and exact travel addresses are never disclosed. We also have a list of safety tips. Ride sharing is such a win - win situation. It saves gas and money and reduces pollution and traffic.
Sounds great! Here's how to get started sharing rides:

* Post your trips so fellow hitchhikers can find your trip. (They will not see your exact travel addresses.)

* Search to find rides in your area.

* Contact your ride sharing matches without revealing your personal information.

As the site says, "Ride sharing is the best way to save gas and reduce traffic and pollution. Unlike the rigid schedules of public transportation, ride sharing is a flexible way to travel to the store or across the country." Remember, you may also be able to share rides with people you already know. Try a carpool or vanpool. Or consider transit, biking or walking. Thanks for the tip, Alexis!

"Caminante, no hay camino, se hace camino al andar." (There is no path. The path is made by walking.) - Antonio Machado

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Recycle rechargeable batteries.

A few months ago, I got rid of a old laptop that is now woefully out-of-date. Knowing how important it is to recycle rechargeable batteries, I remembered a post I'd done on Call 2 Recycle, a corporation that recycles cell phones and rechargeable batteries "to benefit the environment and charitable organizations". I need an easy and responsible way to get rid of the battery that's been in my back seat since last year, and Call 2 Recycle has it!

Here's how you can participate:

* Click to find a drop-off site near you.

* Call the consumer helpline, 1-800-8-BATTERY or 1-877-2-RECYCLE, to find the retail collection site nearest you.

* Visit a retail collection site. This is new since my last post.
In the US: Alltel, Batteries Plus, Black & Decker, Cingular Wireless, The Home Depot, Lowe's, Milwaukee Electrical Tool, Office Depot, Orchard Supply, Porter Cable Service Centers, RadioShack, Remington Product Company, Sears, Target, US Cellular, and Verizon Wireless.
In Canada: Battery Experts, Battery Plus, Bell World, FIDO, Future Shop, The Home Depot, Home Hardware, London Drugs, Makita Factory Service Centers, Personal Edge/ Centre du Rasoir, Revy, Sears, The Sony Store, The Source by Circuit City, Telus Mobility and Zellers.

* Teach students, yourself and others about the benefits of recycling rechargeable batteries. This is new too! "The lesson plan uses batteries as the basis for developing student's math, science and history skills. By offering a series of interactive experiments and thought-provoking exercises, the program teaches students' about the merits of battery power, safety tips, and how to properly recycle batteries to keep our environment clean and livable." And it's free!

The website is available in Français , Español , Chinese, and English. So round up all your unused rechargeable batteries that may no-longer hold a charge and drop them off at a recycling site near you. It couldn't be easier!

"Truth is not only violated by falsehood; it may be equally outraged by silence." -Henri Frederic Amiel philosopher and writer (1821-1881)