Friday, August 29, 2008

Moving? Consider donating some of your items

Monday marks September 1st, the start of many people's leases on their apartments. This weekend there is going to be ginormous amounts of people moving their stuff from one apartment to the next.

For those that don't have to move, it makes trying to drive around Boston difficult especially because those coming into Boston for the first time aren't familiar with the crazy road system here. The City of Boston is trying to help by increasing the amount of parking-enforcement officers and tow-trucks in areas which have a high-turnover in hopes to decrease the amount of problems throughout the city.

Moving day also means the city is going to be littered with garbage. Many people choose to leave anything they do not wish to move to their new place on the side of the street for the garbage people to pick up on trash day.

Yes, it sometimes is a great way to find end tables, in fact I have gotten two of my end tables from someone else's trash! However, most of people's unwanted furniture, toys, clothes and misc. items goes to our overcrowded landfills.

This is why I would like to remind people that you can take the extra time and donate many of the items you were going to leave on the side of the road. Some places even do curbside pick ups so you don't have to even leave your house. To find out what donatable items you have or what's available in your neighborhood go to It's my favorite site to find out where to either recycle or donate anything I no longer wish to keep.

My favorite place to donate is to Goodwill, in Davis Square. It's close by and is tax deductible. Here is a list of items they accept for donation:
  • Antiques, collectibles
  • Appliances (small)
  • Artwork
  • Bedspreads, blankets, curtains, tablecloths, decorative pillows
  • Bicycles
  • Books, records, tapes, CDs, DVDs
  • Clothing, belts, scarves, ties, pocketbooks
  • Cookware, dishes, pots and pans
  • Games and toys
  • House wares and decorative items
  • Jewelry
  • Sporting goods

I recently moved and I took TWO Full car loads over there of stuff to donate. It made my move easier and it felt great knowing that someone else will find use of the items I no longer wish to have/ fit into my new space. So I ask make three piles when moving, donatable, trash and moving and take the time to drop off any item that is donatable.

Related Stories: Don't Throw Out Your Old TV; Green Tips for the New Year Spring Cleaning, part deux

Photo courtesy of:

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Patio Gardens & City Growing

If we all grew just a few pots of veggies, herbs, or fruits like the folks above, we could make a big difference in the heat of the earth (because there would be soil instead of pavement) and in the amount of produce we have to buy from huge farms or from overseas.

During WWII, 40% of vegetables consumed in the US were produced in victory gardens. Imagine if that were true nowadays... of course here in the Northeast we have a little thing called "seasons," but even herbs can be grown on a sunny indoor windowsill in wintertime.

I know what I'll be doing this holiday weekend - planting a windowsill victory herb garden!

Related Posts: Finding Local Food Locally; CSAs Rock; Harvest Calendar for MA; Staycation in Boston; Fruit in the City; Jamming the Local Way

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

OYFP Turns 3, Globe Celebrates

OYFP celebrated its 3rd birthday at Globe Bar and Café on Thursday, August 21. Check out the Flickr account for pictures - you may be featured with a carrot stick in your mouth like Liz below.

The event, Local Action, Global Impact: OYFP Boston's 3rd Anniversary Party!, was a celebration of OYFP’s accomplishments over the past year.

Globe was a great place for this type of event. The manager of Globe, Julie Weeden, hooked us up! They provided us a private, balcony style, space that overlooked the bar area – free of charge! There was more than enough food for our guests and the friendly staff kept everyone happy.

When I reflect on OYFP’s accomplishments over the past few years I become increasing excited for the future. We're almost up in the big leagues and there ain't nothing wrong with that. We’re really starting to operate like a little organization. Tasks are becoming increasing delegated. We’ve had an intern. We’re in the process of applying for a large grant. We’re successfully planning, managing and executing multiple events in the same month. It’s an exciting time.

If you’re looking to get involved consider attending an upcoming event or shooting one of us an email.

On behalf of all the men, women, and children served by OYFP please accept our sincere thanks. We truly appreciate your partnership and generous support.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Find local food locally

Maybe you're a huge fan of locally produced food, or are traveling and want to eat locally at your destination, or heard the piece on NPR this morning about Walmart getting in on the local food scene, or on the other end of the spectrum, maybe you've never really tried committing yourself to local food and want to give it a go but aren't in the Boston area so don't find the links I've posted about local food useful. Phew, that was a run-on sentence if I ever wrote one.

Anyway. Never fear, the Eat Well Guide is here! The website makes it wicked easy for you to search for locally produced food. Simply put in a food type or zip code or city/state with the miles you're willing to travel, and wallah, local food options come up.

I had the best luck by using my zip code. Options including farmers markets, CSAs, stores, caterers, restaurants!, organizations, educational centers, and more came up. My favorite was the restaurants option for sure.

I love patronizing restaurants that are willing to take the extra time and risk to source their food locally. It typically tastes better, and I can feel better about the fossil fuels used to create my meal. I actually recently read an article in Edible Boston about the chefs at Craigie Street Bistro that discussed some of the issues with using locally produced food, mainly that you're much more at the mercy of Mother Nature.

If there are violent rains, the blueberries you were planning on using for dessert may not be available, so you have to get some early apples to make pie instead. If you order food from a normal distributor, if the blueberries in Maine that they were planning on using aren't available, they'll simply get some from New Jersey for you.

The simplicity of sourcing food nationally (and internationally!) is appealing for many (or rather, most) chefs, and right now, a must for some of the lower cost restaurants. However, even large low-cost chains like Walmart are seeing the wisdom of sourcing food locally due to the high cost of gas. However, Walmart considers any food produced in the same state it is sold as local... which may be true in places like Massachusetts or Delaware, but it certainly doesn't seem as though fruits grown in Southern California are "local" to San Francisco...

Semantics aside, the local food movement is growing (pun intended), and I for one am reveling in it. Of course, it's easy to love local food in New England when it's the summertime... when winter rolls around and my only local produce options are the peach preserves I made, the blueberries I froze, or potatoes, turnips, parsnips, and onions left over from the summer... I'll probably be singing a different tune.

Until then, I'm going to enjoy my fresh corn, tomatoes, peaches, blueberries, kale, purple leafy vegetable that I don't know the name of, cucumbers, squash, basil, raspberries, green beans, peppers, onions, and eggplant, and I hope you'll go out of your way to enjoy local produce too.

The fruits of my labor - local peaches from Doe Orchards that I made into preserves!

Related Posts: CSAs Rock; Harvest Calendar for MA; Staycation in Boston; Fruit in the City; Jamming the Local Way
Related Events: Apples & Wine Sept 6

Fish out of water - My experience in Nicaragua

While cleaning out my computer's hard drive the other day, I came across this essay I wrote about my experience volunteering in Nicaragua with the Foundation for Sustainable Development. Unlike most "volunteer" programs, you are actually expected to do work, and since I had a bachelor's degree in psychology, I was a psychologist!

More difficult than the work, however, was fitting in. This essay discusses how I finally managed to do that.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

I am 5’9”, blond, and have blue eyes. I could not look more different than Nicaraguans. The average Nicaraguan woman is 5’2”, brunette, and somewhat rotund from the deep-fried foods that are consumed with abandon. The average Nicaraguan man can’t be taller than 5’5”!

During my four month stay in Nicaragua, I could not have become more painfully aware of these simple physical differences. However, I found that the barrier to “fitting in” wasn’t the presence of the physical differences, it was my attitude towards them. I had to accept that I was different and acknowledge that I would never be able to camouflage myself. Only then was I able to feel and act like I really belonged.

The first few days in Nicaragua were the hardest. I was literally a fish out of water, tossed into a hot, dry, and worn-out land when I was used to a cool, placid, and plentiful ocean. Every molecule in my body screamed to be back where I could breathe! My previous world, the one where all of my friends and family still lived, seemed incredibly and unbearably far away.

After my vision cleared and I learned how to breathe, it became evident exactly how different I appeared. The people of Nicaragua (men especially) did their part to remind me as well. “Hey muñeca.. chela… ¿que pasa?” [Trans.: Hey doll.. whitey.. what’s up?]

Everywhere I went, people pointed and commented. More than once, children poked or slapped any part of my body that they could reach, to see if the “doll” was real. With all of these constant reminders, how could I help but concentrate on how different I was than “those people”?

Spending time with Aimee, a tall, blond Peace Corps volunteer who had been living in Nicaragua for over a year, helped me both acknowledge and accept my physical differences. She had learned to laugh, saying “When the two of us living, breathing muñecas walk down the street together, they just don’t know what to make of it! We’re unbelievable!” At that point, I spoke Spanish like a native Nicaraguan. I was so brown I looked like a sorority girl who had fallen asleep on her tanning bed. But I was never going to look like I belonged.

Looking back on my trip, I realize that this was the turning point. After I accepted my physical differences, I made a few Nicaraguan friends. More than one told me, “You’re different than the other gringos. You speak, you listen, and you understand.” We talked about music, parents, favorite foods, best friends, and what exactly the mayor was thinking when he proposed dumping the city’s trash in the nearby volcanic crater.

I will never take for granted how much easier life is when you physically fit in. I will never forget that in order become part of a culture different than your own, you must acknowledge that you are a fish and everyone else a mammal.

This is not exclusionary, pessimistic, or close-minded.

Robert Reich, who at 4’9” is one of the shortest politicians out there, starts every speech with a joke about his height. By acknowledging his physical difference, he makes it possible for everyone to stop concentrating on his stature and start concentrating on what he has to say.

Once you get the elephant in the room out of the way, it is possible to start forging friendships, really learning what it’s like to live within the new culture, and creating an experience that you will never forget.

Nora, Aimee (the Peace Corps volunteer) and two of her friends at a park in Granada. The photo is a scanned in negative because back in 2003 I didn't have a digital camera.

Related Posts: International volunteering for teens; Food prices are rising; Chinese Earthquake - How to help; Global volunteering; Gap Year

Photos courtesy of Casey.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Recycling while Traveling

I try to be as green as possible but I have come to realize it is very difficult when you are traveling. For example, you can not bring a reusable water bottle when boarding a flight due to security enforcing the 3 oz liquid rule. I understand the reason for this, so I am fine with not bringing any big water bottles on board.

I however, like to stay hydrated, so like many people do, I buy a bottle of water after I have gone through security. Recently I was at Logan airport and I did not see any place to discard my recyclable bottle of water once it was finished. I was faced with a choice of bringing it on the plane and adding it to my cramped leg room and wait until I find a recyclable container, or throw it in the dreaded garbage. I chose to throw it away faced with the uncertainty of when I would be able to find a recyclable container.

Little did I know that other airports supports being green and have recycle containers next to all garbage bins. For example, Chicago's O'Hare airport has the container to the right next to EACH garbage can.

Seeing this little bin made me wonder why Mayor Menino, who continues to push Boston to become more green, doesn't push for Logan airport to become more green. This is an especially needed component, considering Logan airport is one of the 20 busiest airports in the U.S., with over 27 million passengers a year!

Also while traveling I noticed there were no recycle containers in the hotel suite I was in. Again there was no other alternative for me being in semi unfamiliar territory to know where I could recycle the paper & plastic containers I have accumulated while staying at the hotel.

This is unfortunate because I believe if there were more recycle receptacles in hotels and airports, this would reduce the amount of garbage going to landfills in the USA quite considerably.

This is my experience with traveling but I would love to hear other stories, especially those companies that have done more to become more green. Maybe I flew out of the one airport that doesn't (yet) have a program and perhaps stayed at the one hotel that doesn't particpate (yet).

Photo courtesy of: Moi

Related Posts: Green Tips for the New Year, Getting away from it all, "Staycation" in Boston

Thursday, August 21, 2008

What OYFP has meant to me

This three year anniversary mark for On Your Feet Project in Boston has made me wax nostalgic for a moment or three. Rarely do I stop during my often hectic days to reflect on why exactly I've volunteered with OYFP since its inception in Boston. I recall sitting in my apartment in Somerville with my roommates, bemoaning the fact that it was hard to find a place to volunteer that would reply to my inquiries, never mind one that would allow me to donate time at night or on weekends.

And that's when I came across OYFP's post on "Sure," I thought. "I can head up PR, marketing, the website, and graphic design for a non-profit that's completely volunteer-run and just getting started in Boston."

I really didn't know what I was getting myself into.

Three years later, I've moved on from marketing, etc to the illustrious position of Co-Director. We've held over 30 events, ten of them in 2008 alone (and it's only August!). We've had two interns, three partners, and countless executive board members... but more importantly, we've made a difference.

Sometimes I catch myself wondering if what we're doing is actually impacting others. We don't have a department of people dedicated to quantifying our actions, measuring our success, or writing executive reports. Heck, we don't even have an office.

But I know we have made a difference, when I talk to our contacts at our partner organizations, when I meet families who have stayed with Christopher's Haven, when I volunteer to make crafts at the Italian Home with the kids, or when I simply reply to an email inquiry stating, "I'd like to volunteer." After all, our goal is to encourage a sense of volunteerism in our community, and everything from simple emails, talking to colleagues and strangers about OYFP, and even this blog, are helping to do that.

We want people to think about volunteering, and then act on it.

So. Show your support of OYFP, of volunteerism, of trying to make a difference, by coming to our anniversary party tonight. We're going to be celebrating our accomplishment, and hope you will be too.

--Event Details--

Myself, Dan (founder of Christopher's Haven), and Krystle, my Co-Dictator, I mean, Director

Related Posts: OYFP turns Three, Let's Party!; OYFP joins the 21st Century; Our intern at OYFP Boston

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Volunteering: What to ask before you commit

Maybe you're interested in volunteering, and have even chosen a few organizations you would like to contact, but aren't sure exactly what to say to them. Here's a helpful guide of questions to ask when you contact the group:
  1. What do volunteers do with your non-profit?
  2. How many hours a week do typical volunteers give to the group? Is this an ongoing opportunity?
  3. What is the age range of other volunteers or employees, and recipients of the aid?
  4. Are you a 501c3 certified non-profit?
  5. Will I be expected to solicit donations?
  6. Is there a training session I should attend or reading material I should review?
  7. Do I need any special equipment or skills? Do I need to wear any special clothing?
  8. How can I get there? Is there parking?
  9. Should I arrive early my first time?
  10. Do I need lunch or a meal?
Remember, employees of non-profits are almost always doing 10,000 things at once, and/or may be volunteers themselves, so be persistent. If you email and don't hear anything, call and leave a message. Always make sure to follow-up, even if you don't think it will be a good fit for you.

These questions (and the answers you receive) should give you a good gauge as to whether the non-profit is a good fit for you. So - armed with these tips, you should be good to go! I'll see you out there...

A family staying with Christopher's Haven

Related Posts: International volunteering for teens; What makes you want to volunteer?; Sock monkeys for charity; How to be happier; Who is happier?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

OYFP Turns 3, Let's Party!!!

Local Action, Global Impact: OYFP Boston's 3rd Anniversary Party!

Join us this Thursday night, Aug. 21st, at Globe on Boylston Street to celebrate OYFP's 3rd birthday. No more mushy-carrot baby food, we're growing up. Year three means more events, more members, more fundraising, and more of you coming out to have fun and remember the stuff that really matters: VOLUNTEERING!

Come eat, drink, be merry and learn about where we've been and where we're going.

Date: Thursday, August 21
Time: 8pm-10pm
Location: The Globe Bar & Cafe
565 Boylston St (Back Bay) btwn Clarendon St & Dartmouth St
Boston. MA 02116
Cost: FREE ($5 requested donation)
What: Cash Bar, Free Food, Silent Auction, Raffle
More Info: Anniversary event page

See you there!

Monday, August 18, 2008

International volunteering for teens

It all started in 5th grade with my project on Japan. Each of us chose a different country, and we had to make little paper dolls dressed in that country's "traditional" clothing. I was obsessed with Japan - perhaps it was because it seemed so different than my own family and town, which was mostly blond and brunettes, all living in a suburban Boston wonderland.

That obesssion let me to call the number broadcase on Kiss 108: "Do you want to host a Japanese exchange student?"

Why yes, yes I did! No matter I was only in 5th grade.

I think my mom figured "what's one more kid when I already have four?" and a few months later, we welcomed Tomoko into our lives for a month. A year later, we used my dad's frequent flier miles and at 14 years old, I traveled over to Japan alone to visit Tomo and her family.

Since then, some of the highlights of my travels have included a college semester in Spain, being a psychologist in Nicaragua, and traveling around southern India. Apparently, however, kids are not only traveling around the world and doing it at a younger age than ever, they are starting humanitarian volunteering trips before they've even gone to their Junior year high school prom.

Apparently the increase in high school humanitarian trips is not entirely due to an outpouring of good feelings. Parents are encouraging their kids to go on these trips so they have material for a good college essay. Hopefully their essays end up coming from genuine emotion because then we have a win-win situation: the kid learns something that can't be taught in the classroom, and gets into a good school.

However, in yet another example of the increasing class divide, middle and lower class families may not be able to give these kinds of trips to their kids. Hopefully they'll be able to find fodder for their college essays closer to home - after all, volunteer opportunities for persistent and non-commitment-phobe teens are abound.

If you're interested in getting your teen volunteering, send them to the following websites to investigate:
Keep in mind that the organization is more likely to take your requests for information seriously if the teen calls or emails him or herself. S/he will probably feel more invested in it as well. With a little effort, you (or the teen you know) can have a great volunteer experience and some valuable fodder for that college application essay.

Me, at age 14 in Japan. The yukata was actually crossed incorrectly in the front in the way it is done for someone who has died. Tomoko's friend's mother took me into a phone booth and re-wrapped it for me because I was not, in fact, dead. Letters to my mother about the experience included, "it's hard to walk in those things," "I'm taller than everyone," and "they LOVE firecrackers and sparklers here."
Photos courtesy of Casey.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Non-Profit Networking Night a Success!

Thanks to all of you who attended last night's non-profit networking night at Kennedy's Midtown. Hopefully you all learned the power of personal branding - just remember, everywhere you go, and to everyone you meet, you are representing your non-profit.

I will be working with Dan to post a list of online resources in the next day or two, and don't forget to look for his book next year! Though he's in the midst of final edits, he kindly took time out of his busy schedule to share his personal branding knowledge with us, so thanks, Dan!

We will also have photos and a video of the event posted shortly. I don't think they will do our jury-rigged presentation set-up justice, though. A hearty thanks goes out to Greg J, who tried to help us figure out the TV at Kennedy's... a helpful hint to anyone planning an event there - bring your own projector and tape a tablecloth to the wall. It will work far better than anything involving their TV.

And finally, now that Dan has shown you the value of social media for branding, connect with OYFP across all of our social media efforts!
Until our next event (Aug 21 at Globe), we'll see you out there in the wild blue yonder of the interweb.

Related Posts: Non-Profit Networking night; Boston Non-profit Networking and Blogging; Good2Gether; Creating your own online community; Social Networking: Is it here to stay?; Get Konnected
Photos courtesy of Ligaya on Yelp.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Drinking Beer, Doing Good

Did Restaurant Week sneak up on you and you're without reservations for this Thursday? Or perhaps your budget doesn't allow for $30 + booze for a night out. Or even better, you want to do something good for the world.

Word on the street (according to our friend Bostonist) is that the Cambridge Brewing Company is holding a feel-good beer lovin' event on Thursday, August 14 at Flat Top Johnny's, which is next door.

Why is it feel-good? Well, 'cause there's beer. That makes a lot of people feel good.

In addition, however, proceeds from the night are going to benefit the first head brewer at CBC, Darryl Gross, who was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease two years ago. The entire suggested $15 donation will go to pay for medical expenses not covered by insurance.

During the evening, your donation allows you to listen to the live acts The Men, Autumn Circle, and Bunzey Park, there will be a live auction, and a 9 ball tournament. Don't forget to partake in beer and tasty foodstuffs!

Just show up with your $15 and a few friends, and you've got a great Thursday night ahead of you! It's time to Raise a Glass to Darryl Goss in Kendall Square.

Related Posts: Networking Night Aug 13; Wine in Boston: It's all about the sports; The Bruins - Responsible corporate citizens; Feed Your Sweet Tooth - Greyston Bakery; Rock Band Charity Night

Photos courtesy of Flat Top Johnny's.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Networking Night on Aug 13

It's time for the "n" word - Networking! You know it's good for you (just like flossing), but this time it will be both interesting and pleasant - we promise.

The On Your Feet Project Non-Profit Networking night is going down Wednesday, August 12 at Kennedy's Midtown at 6 PM. Dan Schawbel, personal branding consultant and social media savant, will be joining us to share his advice on marketing, blogging, and other social media topics and how they can be used for personal branding.

Not to mention, you'll have the chance to mix and mingle with other non-profiteers, volunteers, and people interested in the non-profit world. The $3 donation is optional, but always appreciated.

Event information is here:, and you can always email with questions, or call us at 339-224-0696.

Look, Ma! We're in the Metro!

Related Posts: Boston Non-profit Networking and Blogging; Good2Gether; Creating your own online community; Social Networking: Is it here to stay?; Get Konnected

Photos courtesy of the Boston Metro.

Friday, August 8, 2008

What makes you want to Volunteer?

Are you the kind of person that likes to get involved because you volunteered with your family growing up? Are you socially active because it's a great way to get to know your community? Have you been helped out by an organization when times were a little tough and now want to give back to that organization?

If you are a volunteer or have volunteered in the past I give you a round of applause and a mighty shout, WHOO HOO!

Now for those who are not volunteering yet, what makes you want to get involved with an organization? Is it in your face shock tactics, like a recent PETA ad who compares the unfortunate incident of a beheading of a human on a bus to the unfortunate incidents of animal torture? PETA hopes that this ad will motivate people by the horrific imagery in order to stop animal abuse.

Perhaps you are more like one artist's perspective who prefers what (s)he calls the "Gentle Revolution", as seen at OYFP's recent Wine Tasting Event. It's the Gandhi version to recruit people to volunteer.

So which method are you more likely to respond too?

When I first read about the PETA ad I thought it was very distasteful and was very shocked by it. I really love animals, but this ad makes me think less of PETA, so in my opinion it missed its goal on recruiting more people to stop any kind of abuse on animals. But perhaps it's because I am a fan of the "Gentle Revolution" and prefer a less in your face way of recruiting people to volunteer.

So you know now what motivates me, but what about you?

Picture courtesy of OYFP & Casey

Thursday, August 7, 2008

MEFA: Down and out

A few months ago, we wrote about how MEFA (the non-profit Massachusetts Education Financing Authority) could not find any financing to provide low interest college loans to Mass state residents. Their goal for the year was to raise $600 million from private financing, which they would then lend out to college students.

Well, things didn't improve, as you might have guessed. MEFA raised no money, and has no low interest loans to offer. Governor Patrick is trying to raise funds for the organization by getting the Massachusetts state pension fund to buy $50 million in MEFA bonds. The effort, though noble, will not come close to the $600 million they were shooting for, even if the bonds are purchased by the state.

What does this mean? Fewer kids may be able to afford college, or if they do go, will come out with much larger debt loads. They'll enter the work force (if they can find a job) and be working their butts off just so they can make their loan payments.

"Wait," you say, "I already am doing that."

Sure you are... but it's going to be worse for those coming after us. My siblings and I chose to go to state schools, and had very little debt due to our parents' diligent saving and our hard work over summers and during the school year. However, the price of state schools is increasing, and the number of students who want to attend the more affordable University of Massachusetts is skyrocketing. The more kids that want to attend, the more competitive admittance is. That leaves students who may not have had the best grades in high school (but who have plenty of potential) with fewer options.

So where does that leave us? State schools are more expensive, less well funded (which may impact the quality of the education), and more competitive. Students can't get affordable loans.

Geez. I've pretty much talked myself into a corner. I guess I should start saving for my theoretical kids' theoretical college educations... unless you have an alternative solution...?

My sister Kristen (on the left) learns how to be an artist at UMass Dartmouth

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Autism around the world

The other day I got a call from a woman at the Global Autism Project. We briefly discussed a potential partnership between OYFP and the Global Autism Project, and I was captivated by the group's mission: To alleviate the autism of children in developing countries.
What a noble cause!

I feel as though autism is a condition that is underserved by NGOs in developing countries. Kids with autism need more attention and treatment options in the USA, where we have good medical care, nevermind in countries that struggle to provide basic medical treatment to its patients.

The Global Autism Project is currently just working in Ghana, but aims to expand its services across other countries. If you would like to support the project, consider kayaking in San Diego on August 15, or volunteering for Global Autism Project in NYC. Or, learn about autism yourself so you can help educate others - check out the Global Autism Project's trip blog!

Related Posts: World Autism Day; Heart to Heart
Photo courtesy of Global Autism Project.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Composting in the City

Trash is definitely not a sexy subject, but it's one I keep coming back to.

I can't figure out for the life of me where my trash goes when it's taken away, but chances are it ends up in a landfill, on a barge, burned, or in the ocean. And that's a major improvement from some of the third world countries I've been to where the trash ends up in streets or ditches.

Trash that ends up in a landfill - even trash considered biodegradable - probably won't actually biodegrade for thousands of years, since it is covered with pile upon pile of trash, and/or dirt, preventing the microbes from getting the sun and air they need to break down the trash.

So. How can I reduce my trash? Yes, I have the reusable bags, try to avoid packaging, and recycle, but my trash can still ends up full. Composting would be ideal.. .but I live in an apartment, for goodness sake. I don't want rotting veggies and fruit flies next to my wine glasses and sock monkeys.

The solution: this nifty indoor composter. Yes, another gadget... but I can't see my condo association approving an outdoor compost bin like the one we had when I was a kid. (Not to mention the fact that my dad used to hide behind it and scare the bejeezus out of us kids - that's one part of childhood I don't want to relive... ok, actually it was pretty fun.)

This way the only trash I'll be throwing out is bits of plastic, meats and fishes (Mr Goldfish has to get flushed), and pits (like avocado, peach, nectarine, apricot, plum, and peach pits), since you can put all vegetable and fruit matter in the bins, not to mention my daily coffee grinds, egg shells, and tea bags.

Yep. This indoor composter is going on my "wish list." Maybe I can put all those $0.05 credits I get for bringing my own bags into my piggy bank and eventually get the $300 necessary for the indoor composting magic.. until then my trash will continue to pile up.

I'll save my green in order to be more green in this little piggy

Related Posts: Make Love, Not Grass; CSAs Rock; Was it Green?; Recycling Dog
Photo of composting magnet courtesy of dkhlucy, and the little piggy is courtesy of Yon Pal.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Make Love, Not Grass

I'd heard of the anti-lawn movement in vague terms before but a recent article in the New Yorker by does a good historical summary of the rise of lawnism and subsequent response of anti-lawnism. Among the main anti-lawn arguments: "toxicity, habitat destruction, resource depletion, enforced conformity" via homeowner laws.

A brief search to see if there was some way of supporting lawn alternative movements, aside from currently living without a lawn, yielded a garden variety of results (bad pun intended). People have found all kinds of lawn alternatives that are more economical, sustainable, and beautiful. However, I was surprised to see that there isn't any national association that exists to help these differing approaches work together.

An umbrella organization, or some sort of collaboration between all the lawn alternative movements and even related ideas like the development of sustainable golf courses, could prove useful in elevating the profile of these issues and pushing the antilawn agenda at a national level.

If someone out there feels so inclined, or knows of such a group, give me a shout out in the comments.

One urban dweller's alternative lawn solution - looks lovely to us!

Related Posts: Bike Sharing; Water, Water Everywhere, Not a drop to drink; A Creeping Problem; One little drip
Photo courtesy of Urban Eden.