Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Do Something.

Writing So What Can I Do for three years has reinforced my knowledge that we all can do something to improve our world, everyone, no exceptions. is a place for young people are are excited about making our world a better place for all of us. They provide "a place to connect, a place to be inspired, be supported, be celebrated." Here are just a few of the things you can do:

* Search their site for teen volunteer opportunities in your area. They even have listings for virtual volunteers.

* Apply for grants to get your service project off the ground or take it to the next level. Hurry! The next set of applications for the Del Monte Do Something Good For You! Grant are due November 9th.

* Nominate someone who makes a difference for a BR!CK Award.

* Exchange ideas about service on the topical message boards.

There's even a page for "old people" who want to support young folks in their efforts. Remember, no one can do everything, but we all can do something, and probably more than we think. Now let's get busy!

"I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot." —Jack London

Friday, October 12, 2007

Check out the new blog.

It's our birthday! So What Can I Do was launched three years ago today and to celebrate I'm starting a new blog: So What Can I Do News and Press Center. The News and Press Center collects press releases and news stories related to the mission of So what can I do: ethics in action promoting positive social change.

Please send your press releases that publicize opportunities for each of us to make a difference in our world. I'll post them at the News and Press Center and some of them will be discussed atSo what can I do. And visit the So What Can I Do News and Press Center regularly to identify opportunities to serve and contribute.

Thanks for three great years! Keep reading, keep contributing, keep acting!

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

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Stop buying, stop drinking bottled water.

There is a growing movement against bottled water. All kinds of folks from newspaper columnists to religious groups to city governments are eschewing bottled water.

Here's why:
* 86% of plastic water bottles used in the United States become garbage or litter. That means less than 15% are recycled.
* Transporting heavy bottled water uses lots of oil for shipping. More oil is used to make the plastic for the bottles. That means more air and water pollution, and increased dependence on petroleum products.
* 40% of the bottled water is just over priced, high-falutin tap water. Read the label.

What a waste of money and resources! Not to mention the increased pollution. "So what can I do?"

* Stop using bottled water. Pick up a glass and turn on the tap. Ahh! Good water!
* Order "still water from the tap" at restaurants. Environmental stewardship is nothing to be ashamed of.
* Provide cold quenching tap water at your parties, events and home.
* Promote the passage of a bottle bill in your community. These provide an incentive to recycle and increase recycling rates.

Okay, okay. I know bottled water is convenient. So if you must carry around the plastic, do the following:

* Purchase a heavy duty plastic bottle that will last for years.
* Refill it so you can use it multiple times.
* Recycle it so someone else can use it multiple times.

We need not succumb to the advertising and marketing that would have us believe that there is no good alternative to bottled water. We know that tap water is the better choice for us and in the environment in which we live.

"The night whose sable breast relieves the stark,
White stars, is no less lovely being dark."
— Countee Cullen (1903–1946)

Monday, October 08, 2007

Donate your jewelry.

I am prone to clutter. [ Admitting it is the first step in recovery. :) ] It can be so hard for me to part with many of the items I have but being able to recycle them certainly make me feel a lot better about getting rid of them. I've written about purchasing environmentally responsible jewelry, but it wasn't until a conversation with Nicole Lorimer that it occurred to me that I could donate jewelry too! Thanks Nicole! Check out to donate the jewelry you no longer wear.

Remember these steps to reduce the clutter in your home and the waste in our world:

* Reduce - Do you really need it?
* Reuse - Can you use it again before getting rid of it?
* Recycle - How can this be used differently or reprocessed for use again?
* Restore - How can I replace the resource I consumed?

The order matters. Have fun decluttering!

"Pick battles big enough to matter, small enough to win." — Jonathan Kozol

Friday, October 05, 2007

Collect and use grey water.

Georgia is in the midst of an historic drought and almost all outdoor water use has been banned. Given these restrictions, there is new interest in the collection and use of grey water. Grey (or gray) water is the wastewater resulting from washing dishes, doing laundry, bathing, and the like. Grey water comprises 50-80% of residential wastewater. So why let all that water go to waste? Here are a few ways to collect grey water:

* Shower with a bucket to collect grey water.
* Save the water used to boil vegetables, pasta, eggs and the like.
* Keep buckets in the kitchen and bathroom to collect water before it goes down the sink drain.
* Collect the dripping water from your air conditioning unit.
* Install collection equipment to harvest the water.

Clearly grey water is not for drinking (except for potlikker), but there many other great ways to use grey water:

* Water your grass and landscaping.
* Flush your toilet - you certainly don't need potable water for that!
* Hydrate your compost pile.
* Water your house plants.
* Treat your greywater and use it to nourish your garden

Clean potable water is a valuable resource. Use it wisely, whether or not there's a drought.

"The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed." - Steve Bantu Biko

Monday, October 01, 2007

Give a laptop, get a laptop: One Laptop per Child.

This just in from Neha Yellurkar:

Hey Karama,

I'm an avid reader of So What Can I Do? I know you are always looking for ways to enact social change so I think you and your readers will be as excited about this as I was. OLPC, One Laptop Per Child, a non profit organization based in Cambridge, MA, set out a few years ago to design and build affordable and easy to use computers for children all over the world. So today they are announcing that between Nov. 12 and Nov. 26, consumers can participate in the Give 1, Get 1 program. Every time anyone from the USA or Canada orders an OLPC xo laptop during this two-week period, another laptop will be donated to a child in a developing country. The total cost for both computers is $400, a cost that allows a person here to have a hand in providing a valuable resource and a very fun educational tool for a deserving child. Added bonus: Any order placed during this period is assured to reach by Christmas so the laptops you get and give will be great gifts!

The Give 1, Get 1 program was announced this morning on Good Morning America so for more information you can check out the ABC News!

For more details you can take a peek at the official release on BusinessWire or the XO giving site at:

Thanks Neha! I had heard about One Laptop Per Child on 60 Minutes but didn't know about the Give 1, Get 1 program. What a neat idea! If you agree:

* Visit
* Order your computer between November 12 and November 26, 2007. UPDATE: Extended to December 31, 2007. Order now!
* Get your snazzy new laptop computer.
* Give a child a computer and access to the information and opportunities on the internet.
* Consider donating your computer to a children's school or educational nonprofit or service agency in your community.

What a way to help close the digital divide, in the US and around the world!

“Computing is not about computers any more. It is about living.” - Nicholas Negroponte