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