Friday, October 18, 2013

Use Fewer Paper Towels

I attended the TedX Buffalo conference earlier this week. While I was blown away by some of the brilliant local speakers, I also really enjoyed some of the Ted talk videos that we were shown. This one stuck with me as something really worth sharing. It's short and sweet, but it features a really simple change we can all make in our every day lives to make a remarkable impact. All you need to do is reduce the amount of paper towels you use to dry your hands. Here's how:


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Best in Crowdfunding: October 2013

The True Cost

The major issue that I've come to care the most about over the past year is the fast fashion industry. I'd already started seeking out more eco-friendly apparel, when the Rana Plaza collapse happened in Bangladesh, killing over 1,100 garment factory workers. It was then that I realized that there was something even more important that the eco-friendliness of my clothes: their human-friendliness. Since then, I've completely changed the way I shop for clothing. I talk about fast fashion to anyone who will listen, and am constantly encouraging my friends and family to make better shopping choices. It's so important to educate people about the fast fashion industry, and its affect not only on the treatment of factory workers, but on the environment as well. This filmmaker is working to do just that. I hope you'll watch the trailer, below, and support this project.
Campaign Goal: $75,000
Deadline: November 11
Platform: Kickstarter






You and Who makes the "Goodest T-Shirt Ever!"

I can barely contain my excitement about this campaign! You and Who, a Buffalo-based t-shirt company has been around for a few years now. Their shirts are designed by some really talented artists from all over the country. For every shirt they sell, they donate another one to an organization in the artist's city. Until now, their shirts have been manufactured overseas. Founder Dan Gigante was really affected, much like I was, by the tragic garment factory collapse that occurred in Bangladesh earlier this year. He decided to make a major change and to start working with domestic manufacturers. This campaign will help him make that happen. It's no secret that I'm skeptical of the Buy-One-Give-One business model, but You and Who is definitely an exception! They are a great company doing wonderful things, and I'm proud to say that I know Dan personally. I'm thrilled about this project, because it's educating people about garment factory working conditions, and because it's coming from a Buffalo company! Contribute now to help prevent more garment factory tragedies, and get some really awesome t-shirts in the process
Campaign Goal: $25,000
Deadline: November 11
Platform: IndieGoGo






Conscious Step: Socks That Solve Social Problems

Here's another fashion-related project that is pretty great. The creators behind this one just want you to buy some socks. When you do, the proceeds will go to the cause associated with the sock design you choose. Causes include providing clean water to school children in Nepal, and planting trees in Ghana. The sock designs are all really fun, and of course I absolutely love the fact that they're manufactured in fair trade conditions. They're going to make some really unique gifts for the wonderful men in my life this holiday season!
Campaign Goal: $20,000
Deadline: November 7
Platform: IndieGoGo

Proceeds from Conscious Steps socks will benefit a variety of causes.


Give to Kenya's Wildlife Foundation

This project addresses a very complex situation arising in and around Nairobi, Kenya. It is a rapidly developing city, surrounded by poor farming families. Land development is forcing wildlife to share space with livestock farmers. The farmers, who depend on their livestock to feed their families, kill predators like lions and leopards. Meanwhile, they're selling portions of their land to developers, usually to pay tuition costs for their children. So the land for the wildlife is getting smaller and smaller, and poor families are still struggling to both feed and educate their children. The Wildlife Foundation has come up with a great solution through the Conservation Lease Program. They ask farmers and landowners not to sell their land to developers, or to kill predators like big cats. In exchange, the farmers receive a stipend that they may spend as they choose. Most often, the money is spent on education. It's a win-win-win. Farmers get to keep their land, wildlife is safe, and children receive an education.
Campaign Goal: $50,000
Deadline: November 13
Platform: IndieGoGo

The conservation lease program protects wildlife like lions.



Monday, October 7, 2013

Get a Free Education Online

I've said before and I'll say again that I believe the most important element in making the world better is education. A more educated global population can work together to develop solutions to the world's major problems. I also think that an educated person is more understanding, accepting, and compassionate towards others. It's wonderful that we live in a time when information is so accessible. There a lot of wonderful sites popping up around the internet that offer access to education courses. I encourage you to take a class. Learn something that will help make the world better, like how to knit a hat for someone in a homeless shelter, how to help slow climate change, how to write a grant for your favorite non-profit, or how to change the world.

Academic Earth
This site has a wide range of university-level courses including business, literature, mathematics, and more. I like that all of the video lectures are available immediately, so you don't have to wait for a class to be live and they don't disappear when a course is over. Some users might miss the interaction that you get with participating along with other students while a course is happening. My favorite parts of this site are the curated playlists featuring video lectures mix-and-matched from multiple courses, and the "video electives" featuring some really interesting topics.

The Amazings
Learning from our elders is the concept behind the Amazings. The site offers classes on craft techniques such as felting, knitting, and hair styling, all presented by teachers with "years of experience." The classes are not free, but are pretty affordable, and your first class is half off.

Canvas Network
Canvas has a lot of really great course offerings from schools around the country. Offerings include courses on business, writing, social media, education, and more.

Course Buffet
This site is great because it pulls courses in from a variety of sites, and categorizes them into subject groups similar to the way courses are organized by major universities. So if you want to focus on world history, there is a list of suggested courses from around the internet there waiting for you. A lot like a course catalog.

Coursera
Coursera is my favorite of all the education sites, possibly because it was the first one I ever used. My experiences with it are what prompted me to seek out similar sites and ultimately to develop this list. Students are encouraged to participate in class forums while they experience lecture videos and course work. Content stops being available after the course ends. I'm especially looking forward to an upcoming course on the music of the Beatles!



CraftArtEdu
If you're interested in learning some fine arts techniques such as water colors or drawing, you can check out CraftArtEdu. They also have some crafting classes like jewelry making, polymer clay, etc. Not all of their classes are free, but some are

Craftsy
This site offers a variety of classes on crafts such as jewelry-making, fine arts, cooking, and more. The classes vary in both time commitment and cost, but they do offer some free mini-courses.

DoItYourself
This is a great resource for homeowners or handymen/women who want to learn how to do certain home-improvement projects. There are also some great tutorials on gardening, automotive, crafts, and green living.

edX
edX was created by Harvard and MIT. A lot of the courses on the site are offered through the founding schools and their colleagues. They offer a really great selection of higher education courses. Students are give the option to either audit the class, or to actually try for a certificate of completion.

GCF LearnFree
The Goodwill Community Foundation created this wonderful resource for the under-served community. It's perfect for anyone who wants to learn basic computer and internet skills, improve their English, or write a resume.

Khan Academy
The Khan Academy is a registered not-for-profit organization with a mission of helping people learn. Specifically, most of the video tutorials are to help people learn pre-university level math. The founder, Salman Khan, did a Ted Talk about how he got started. To say I struggled in math would be a massive understatement. I really wish that this had been around when I was in high school. Here the video:





Learn That
Learn that offers video tutorials on a lot of business and technology topics.

Lynda.com
Lynda is actually not a free site, but they do offer a free 10-day trial. The courses available on the site are mostly design, development, and other tech-related fields.

Mind Picnic
This site isn't as well organized as some of the others, and the source of some of the course content is a little ambiguous, but it does seem to have some interesting lessons, including a lot of language courses (Italian, German, Russian, French, etc.) which, I've noticed, aren't available on a lot of the other sites. They don't seem to be complete courses, but are broken down into more manageable lessons.

Open2Study
This is an Australian-based site that offers a variety of university-level courses.

Novo
Novo features a lot of free courses, most of which seem to be in the fields of business and finance. They have a special course track for entrepreneurs.

Saylor.org
Saylor is a great site if you want access to courses in the basics, like English composition, or calculus. They have a lot of courses for university level, as well as K-12 and professional development courses.

Skillshare
This is a robust site that features video tutorials and classes, mostly about design. Topics include advertising, music, publishing, film, food, and much much more.

Udacity
Most of the courses available on Udacity are for web developers and the tech sector.

Help Others Get Access to Education

Even more important than these wonderful free course offerings is actually being able to access them. I hope you'll support these efforts towards global education, and seek out other ways to give education access to those who don't have it.

A Human Right
Today, the internet plays a huge role not just in the global education system, but almost every aspect of modern life. Communities without internet access are at a huge disadvantage. A Human Right is a non-profit organization working to bring access to those without, all around the world. Here's a quick video by founder Kosta Grammatis about why it is so important to get internet access to anyone without. Click here to donate to A Human Right.




Kiva
This is a really great site that connects those in need with potential lenders. You can browse through borrowers to find individuals who need assistance paying for their education. Most of the loans are small, and they ask lenders to pay only in $25 increments.

Library for All
Library for all started as a Kickstarter campaign with a goal of building digital library of ebooks and other learning materials, and providing access via low-cost ereaders to communities in need around the world. Thankfully, the campaign was successful and the organization is on its way to fulfilling that mission. You can help by clicking here.


Friday, October 4, 2013

Celebrate Socktober by Giving Back!

You probably know who Kid President is. His videos encourage viewers to "be awesome" by being good to others. Many of them have gone viral, and been viewed by millions of people. This month, he's asking everyone to participate in "Socktober" by gathering socks and other items for our local homeless shelters. I'll let him tell you more:




You can learn more about Socktober by clicking here, and you can click here to watch more Kid President videos! I seriously love this kid.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Get the Fluoride Out!

Up until recently, I fully believed in the benefits of fluoride and the fluoridation of tap water. Having had issues with cavities throughout my life, I thought I needed to get a lot of it. I made sure the water filters I used did not get the fluoride out, because I really believed that I needed it. So I was pretty surprised when I came across a blog post about the danger fluoride. I was skeptical, and assumed that the controversial post was written to attract readership. A quick online search proved me wrong.

It turns out that fluoride is NOT all it's cracked up to be. Not only is it NOT beneficial, but some studies show that it may cause serious health issues including arthritis, thyroid dysfunction, bone cancer, poor brain development in children, and more!

In order for fluoride to have any positive effect on our teeth, it would have to come in direct contact with teeth rather than be ingested. So the fluoridation of tap water is pretty useless. But even dental fluoride treatments are harmful! Even though it isn't swallowed, the body can absorb the fluoride through the mouth and gums, and it can do damage to the body, and even the teeth. I actually suffer from dental fluorosis. I have little white spots on my front teeth that, though most people probably don't even notice them, I have been self-conscious about for my whole life. To learn that these were caused by harmful and unnecessary fluoride treatments and possibly exacerbated by water fluoridation is pretty enraging!

Image courtesy of fluoridealert.org

If you have a little bit of time and want to learn more about how the fluoridation of water became a regular practice, and why it's harmful, this video is really informative and eye opening. I highly recommend taking the time to watch it.





One person in Buffalo has taken it upon himself to put an end to the fluoridation of Buffalo's water. He's created an online petition that you can sign, urging lawmakers to get their harmful fluoride out of our drinking water! I encourage everyone to sign the petition, and more importantly, to educate yourself about how fluoride can effect your health.

If you're not from Buffalo, you can click here find out if the tap water in your region is fluoridated. You can also sign this petition, urging congress to end water fluoridation in America.

There are steps you can take to lessen your intake of fluoride. Avoid certain foods and beverages, and shop for organic produce. Fluoride is commonly used in pesticides on commercially grown fruits and vegetables. Stop buying dental care products with fluoride. Toms of Maine offers a number of fluoride-free toothpastes, as do a number of other natural brands. You can even make your own toothpaste! There are even steps you can take to detoxify fluoride from your body using certain dietary supplements. Check out the recommended reading, below, for details. Unfortunately, most water filters (like Pur and Brita) do not get the fluoride out of tap water. But there are filters available that do!

Further Reading

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Happy World Gratitude Day!

Today is world gratitude day. What a great excuse to take a moment to recognize how wonderful life is! I try to remind myself how lucky I am every single day. I have a job that I enjoy, a roof over my head in the best city in the world, and most importantly, the love and support of friends and family who are without a doubt some of the most amazing people on this planet. That's why I think it is so important to always be looking for ways to help others as often as I can. I hope to some day feel like I've given back enough that I come close to deserving all that I have been given in this life.

So today I encourage readers to take a moment to show gratitude to someone or something in your life that you are grateful for. And maybe to try to think of a way to have that kind of positive effect on the life of someone else.

Here's a little bonus for you. Showing gratitude to someone else will also make YOU happier in the process. Take a look at this touching video to see how.



Want to give back but don't know where to start? Take a look at this FREE course on How to Change the World. It's offered through Wesleyan University online via Coursera.org.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Best in Crowdfunding: August 2013 - Part 2

I've come across some really awesome projects and campaigns since my last crowdfunding post, and I thought these were worth sharing. These are all really incredible and I've had to find some wiggle room in this month's budget because I think each of them is absolutely worthy of my hard-earned funds!


CityHeart
This Buffalo-centric art project will be something really special once it's built. The heart-shaped piece will be constructed from bicycle wheels, complete with interconnected gears and chains. Viewers will be able to sit on either side of the sculpture and actually pedal it together. I love the concept of interactive art, and I especially love that this will be located in front of Buffalo's grain elevators. What a view! This is a really fun project and just another example of what makes Buffalo so great. I can't wait to see it all come together!
Campaign Goal: $5,000
Deadline: September 2
Platform: IndieGoGo

CO2ube
How this device doesn't already exist is a mystery to me. It seems so obvious. The CO2ube is a little filter that fits onto any car's exhaust pipe and filters out the carbon dioxide. Seriously, how is this not already a thing? 
Campaign Goal: $18,000
Deadline: August 21
Platform: Kickstarter

The CO2ube can be installed on most automobiles.
Kite Patch
This is a patch that prevents insect bites for 48 hours. The technology in the patch actually blocks a mosquito's ability to detect carbon dioxide emitted by humans. It will be especially helpful in parts of the world where mosquitoes carry the deadly malaria disease. The funds raised will be used to test the patch by distributing them to malaria-affected regions of Uganda. Creators of the Kite Patch plan to eventually develop a global distribution program.
Campaign Goal: $75,000
Deadline: August 29
Platform: IndieGoGo


The Kite Patch will stop mosquitoes from spreading malaria.

Send a Child to School in Jamaica
One thing I noticed on a recent trip to Jamaica was the number of young children walking the beach, asking tourists to buy trinkets from them. I wondered why they weren't in school. Turns out they were trying to raise money to pay tuition fees. Apparently there is no public school system in Jamaica; Education is not free. Students must pay to attend school. I believe that education is the key to bettering a country, and even the world. This campaign is intended to raise money for the Caribbean Education Foundation, a certified not-for-profit organization based in Boston that funds education for students in Jamaica.
Campaign Goal: $20,000
Deadline: September 16
Platform: IndieGoGo

Monday, July 29, 2013

Educate Yourself About Palm Oil

Face Palm to Palm Oil


Palm oil is pretty nasty stuff. It doesn't offer much nutritional value, but is commonly used in over 50% of manufactured food products as well as health and beauty products. The problem with the stuff is how it's harvested. In order to harvest palm oil, referred to as "liquid ivory," you have to cut down a palm tree. In order to manufacture enough palm oil to meet the current global demand for it, you have to annihilate an entire rainforest. And that is exactly what palm oil manufacturers are doing. The affects on the rainforests of Indonesia have been absolutely catastrophic.

The deforestation has affected not only the animal and plant populations of the region, but also the native peoples who live in and depend on the rainforest for their way of life. The population most devastated by the palm oil industry though, has been the orangutans. In just the past 20 years, over 90% of the orangutans' natural habitat has been destroyed.

The palm oil industry may lead to the extinction of orangutans in the wild.
Image courtesy of saynotopalmoil.com.

Small Things We Can Do

There are lot of things we can all do to help the effort to stop deforestation by the palm oil industry. You can sign petitions, contact manufacturers, donate, or adopt an orangutan. The easiest thing to do is stop buying products with palm oil in them.

I see palm oil showing up in the ingredient lists of even some of my favorite organic and eco-friendly (even "cruelty-free") beauty, health, and food products. The stuff is everywhere and tricky to avoid. Here are a few lists that I'm using to help me eliminate palm oil from my home.

There are also a lot of online petitions that you can sign; urging retailers, manufacturers, and politicians to stop using, selling, or harvesting palm oil. Here are just a few of them.



If you're interested in learning more about palm oil harvesting, or you want to get more involved, I urge you to visit the Say No To Palm Oil website. You can also check out the recommended reading, below.

Here's a video of a piece that was actually featured on NBC Nightly News all about how the palm oil industry is destroying the natural habitat of orangutans, and what we can do to help.



Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


Further Reading

Update 7/30/2013
The Rainforest Action Network (RAN) has a great Problem with Palm Oil Fact Sheet.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Best in Crowdfunding: July and August 2013

Here are some of my favorite crowdfunding campaigns that are online this summer.

De-corporatizing Food. Creating an Urban Organic Super-Farm
This is a great project happening right here in Buffalo. East Buffalo Organics is converting an old warehouse on the city's east side into a facility for growing microgreens. This campaign is intended to fund the purchase of the equipment needed to grow and maintain healthy microgreens, which will then be distributed and sold locally. These guys have done their research and clearly know what they're doing. The project will be something great not just for Buffalo, but for the entire food industry.
Campaign Goal: $9811
Deadline: August 11
Platform: Kickstarter

Nicora Johns Shoes
Right now, only 1% of shoes are manufactured in the U.S. That means a lot of factory labor is going into your shoes. (Yes, even your precious TOMS.) Nicora Johns is hoping to change that, and she wants to start with her new line of vegan, sustainable shoes. The styles are adorable and versatile, and you get to pick out your own colors and materials! You'll definitely want to check them out!
Campaign Goal: $72,900
Deadline: August 18
Platform: Kickstarter

Nicora Johns Shoes

The Plastic Bank
This campaign is intended to fund the programming and development of a business venture that is essentially a plastic recycling facility launching a pilot in Lima, Peru. The facility will encourage the impoverished locals of that region to "harvest" waste plastic from the environment, and bring it to the facility to be processed. Individuals who participate by harvesting the plastic will earn credits to be used for education, micro loans, and more.
Campaign Goal: $100,000
Deadline: August 26
Platform: IndieGoGo

PROFAMIL - Using Innovation to Save Women's Lives in Haiti
Catapult is a crowdfunding platform that focuses specifically on gender equality in developing countries. All of the campaigns on Catapult benefit women in some way. This campaign will benefit an organization called PROFAMIL (International Planned Parenthood Federation) which is working to screen impoverished women in Haiti for cervical cancer using an innovative, low-tech screening method.
Campaign Goal: $50,000
Deadline: August 31
Platform: Catapult

Reward the Heroes Scholarship Fund
If you haven't heard of Temar Boggs, you aren't alone. In the wake of the Trayvon Martin case, his story went widely unnoticed. The 15-year-old from Lancaster, PA rescued a five-year-old girl from her kidnapper and is being lauded as a hero by those who bother to notice. This campaign is intended to raise a scholarship fund for Temar Boggs and his friend. This article confirms that the campaign is legitimate, but also provides information about how you can contribute to the boys' college fund directly.
Campaign Goal: $10,000
Deadline: September 10
Platform: IndieGoGo

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Magazines Worth Subscribing To

I don't like most popular print magazines. They promote a culture of celebrity gossip, fast fashion, and fad diets. Not to mention they are a waste of paper, and produce tons of garbage every year. I usually try to prevent printed items from arriving in my mailbox. There are, however, a few exceptions. I have found some really well written, beautifully photographed publications that are fun to receive in the mail, and really enjoyable to read. Most of them are produced responsibly and are void of advertisements. If you want to eliminate the junky content of mainstream fashion, celebrity, and lifestyle magazines from your home, but you still look forward to getting something in your mailbox, here are a few publications you may want to consider subscribing to.

Blindfold Magazine
Blindfold is a quarterly lifestyle magazine focusing on social causes. It is a photojournalism publication, so the photography is very well done. The focus of most of the content is an admirable one: making the world better. A one-year subscription is $33.80 and a single issue goes for $11.99.



Chick Pea 
I was lucky enough to meet the makers of Chick Pea Magazine at the Buffalo Small Press Book Fair this spring. I was able to look through a few issues of their publication and it is absolutely beautiful. Chick Pea is a quarterly magazine that features vegan lifestyle content from around the web. The photography is wonderful and the design and layout are crisp and clean and gorgeous. You'll want to keep these issues on your bookshelves or coffee table so you can look at them again and again. A full year subscription is $70, or you can order a single issue for $19.

Good Magazine 
Good Magazine is the print version of one my favorite websites, good.is. The online version is a constant source of inspiration for me, helping me find small ways to make changes and help others every day. I'm confident that the content of the print version will be similarly wonderful. An annual subscription is only $25, and includes a complimentary membership to the GOOD society.

Laika Magazine 
Laika is a new quarterly vegan lifestyle magazine. They're only now on their second issue. I haven't had a chance to look at a copy, but I have read some glowing reviews of the publication. It reads more like a popular lifestyle magazine than a hippy-dippy vegan mag, but with better content and a better purpose. An annual subscription to the print version is only $36. You can order single issues for $11 each.

Pure Green Magazine

Pure Green Magazine 
This is a quarterly publication about sustainable living. The photography is gorgeous and they seem to have some really great content. The magazine itself is printed on 100% post-consumer recycled paper with vegetable based inks in Canada. A subscription costs $82 for U.S. residents or $72 for Canadian residents. If you just want to check out one issue, you can do that for only $18. If you want to explore some of their content before you order, you can check out the Pure Green Mag Blog.

Don't throw your old issues away!

Most of these publications are really quite lovely, so it's unlikely that you'll want to get rid of them any time soon. But when you are ready to get rid of these, or any other unwanted magazines, you should not toss them in the garbage, or even your recycling bin! Most local libraries will accept unwanted magazines. Just be sure to call ahead and make sure your library will accept them before you drop them off. You can also donate the issues to nursing and retirement homes, women shelters, or even hospital waiting rooms. Schools or daycare centers may even be able to use them for crafts.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

You Can Recycle That: Flip Flops

For years and years, I wore flip flops from the first snow melt to the first snow fall of the year. I mean I lived in the things! Thanks to places like Old Navy, I could get a pair of rubber flip flops for $2, and stockpile them, with a pair in every color imaginable. Now, my problem feet require something a bit more supportive, and I'm more conscious about where my footwear is coming from. So my flip flop collection is sitting idle, taking up valuable space in my closet. I can't bring myself to toss them, because I know they're going to end up in a landfill somewhere. Luckily, I've come across another handy recycling service that will solve this dilemma!

The Flip Flop Brigade!!!


TerraCycle has teamed up with Old Navy to create this awesome service. Gather up about 10 (or more) pairs of unwanted flip flops, download a FREE shipping label, and drop your package off at UPS. Done! Your flip flops are on their way to becoming something brand new and awesome! As a bonus, Old Navy will send you a coupon for a free pair of flip-flops, and other discounts. (I'll be donating my coupons to the local women's shelter, as I prefer not to shop at Old Navy, or other "fast fashion" retailers.) Remember, you can send in any brand of rubber flip flops; not just Old Navy!



If you're in Buffalo, and want to add your flip flops to my shipment, let me know! I'm also accepting reusable shopping bags, worn or orphaned socks, and just about anything else I've written a "You Can Recycle That" post about. If you're nearby, I'll even pick it up! Send me a Tweet, or email me at smallonessurroundus@gmail.com to let me know.

For more information about the Flip Flip Brigade, check out their FAQ page.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

You Can Recycle That: Reusable Shopping Bags

It seems a little weird - why would you need to recycle a reusable shopping bag? Their whole purpose is to eliminate waste. But a lot of us have a surplus of reusable shopping bags that we just don't use. It seems that every business is distributing the bags as promotional items to market themselves. They've become so popular that just about every store is giving them away, and a lot of us end up with so many that we can't use all of them. Personally, I have at least 15-20 of the bags, but only about 4 or 5 that I actually use

Luckily, there's the ChicoBag Repurposing Program


Package up all of your unwanted reusable shopping bags and ship them to ChicoBag. The bags will be distributed to low-income families, encouraging them to "start a reusable bag habit." Any bags that are determined to be unusable will be disassembled and woven into new products suchs as aprons or rugs by The Grateful Thread, providing job training opportunities for victims of domestic violence.

Not only will you be ridding your home of clutter and keeping your reusable bags out of landfills, you'll also be encouraging others to reduce their plastic bag consumption, and providing employment opportunities to those in need. It's a win-win-win-win!

Send your unwanted reusable shopping bags to:

ChicoBag Company
C/O Zero Waste Program
13434 Browns Valley Drive
Chico, CA 95973

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

You Can Recycle That: Erotic Toys

I'll admit to being a little shocked myself when I came across this service. Adult toys and novelties are one of those topics that you only discuss with your closest friends, right? So let's just skip all the taboos and get to the point. If you have old toys that you don't use or want anymore, you probably want to get rid of them quickly and discreetly. Luckily, they don't have to wind up in a landfill.

While it may seem like a total joke, there is actually a real company that offers sex toy recycling services. Scarlet Girl is an online erotic toy store based in Oregon. When you send in your old sex toy for recycling, they give you $10 credit towards a new one! All you have to do is clean it, package it up, and ship it to them! Check out the details on their sex toy recycling page.

Scarlet Girl Recycles


Before you start shopping for some new toys to replace the ones you recycled, remember there are green options available! Check these out.

Leaf by Swan - This is a totally "green" line of adult toys. They're even endorsed by eco-celebrity, Alicia Silverstone!

Good Clean Love - An eco-friendly personal lubricant brand. All of their products are free of parabens, glycerin, silicon, and petrochemicals. They're 100% organic and cruelty-free, and because they're vegan, they're also edible!

Glyde - Certified ethical, vegan, and fair trade condoms.

Earth Erotics - Your one-stop-shop for earth-friendly erotic supplies.

And I'll be keeping my eyes out for G”íSM, the eco-friendly vibe that started out as an April Fools joke from Swedish sex toy brand, Lelo. The joke was so popular that the toy-makers are supposedly planning to come out with the real thing!


Further Reading

http://www.ecohearth.com/eco-blogs/clean-and-green-everyday/1376-safe-sex-not-if-your-sex-toys-arent-green-.html


This post was shared on Thank Your Body Thursday.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Best In Crowdfunding: June 2013

I've scoured the internet's top crowdfunding sites, trying to find projects I think are most deserving of my contribution. It proved to be a much harder task than I had anticipated! While there are plethora of great ideas, I found that most of them aren't intended to improve the lives of others, which is really what I was looking for. After hours of browsing, I've found some really wonderful projects. Here are my 5 favorites this month. Take a look and see if you want to contribute to any of them. You might even nab a little something for yourself!


Ecorithmic
Sometimes, the things that technology is capable of accomplishing absolutely blow my mind. Learning about this mobile app is one of those times! The Ecorithmic app will help users to be more fuel-efficient drivers. It will record regular driving routes, taking into account elevation, traffic signals, speed limit changes, and more, and then instruct the driver how to shift gears or ease off the gas at certain points during the route to use less fuel. Mind. Blown.
Campaign Goal: £140,000
Deadline: July 9
Platform: Kickstarter


Just Food
This brand was developed by a woman whose young son suffers from a medical condition that requires him to be tube-fed. She developed a line of additive-free, shelf-stable tube meals because all that had been available was manufactured processed food product. Her son's health increased when she started blending the meals for him, and a business idea was born. If, like me, you are lucky enough to NOT have someone in your life who requires tube feeding, your purchased meals will be donated to a child who needs them. If I ever have a child or loved one who has to be tube fed, I'll be so glad to know that this company is out there!
Campaign Goal: $10,000
Deadline: July 15
Platform: IndieGoGo

Library for All
I'm impressed by the lofty objectives of this campaign. The idea is simple: to give school children in developing countries access to an expansive digital library. I can only imagine how difficult it would be, logistically, to coordinate such an effort. Seems like the major elements would be getting the cooperation of major publishers, and also giving developing communities access via affordable reading devices. The creators behind this campaign seem to have a handle on both. I really believe that education is the key to bettering our world, and this would be a giant step.
Campaign Goal: $100,000
Deadline: July 13
Platform: Kickstarter

Real Value
They had me at "what's the real cost of cheap?" The core message of this documentary is that it really is so very important to be AWARE of where the things we buy and eat are coming from, and what the affects of our purchasing decisions really are. I absolutely can not wait to watch this movie. More importantly, I can not WAIT to make my friends and family watch it. Check out the trailer, below.
Campaign Goal: $10,000
Deadline: July 4
Platform: Kickstarter




Sole Power
This is another impressive example of what technology can do. These shoe insoles capture the kinetic energy of foot steps and store it in a battery pack that can be used to charge mobile or electronic devices. Genius. Not only will it save power, but it can also enable individuals in developing countries to have access to electronic devices. The creators ultimately want to use a "buy one, give one" buying platform to distribute the insoles to those places.
Campaign Goal: $50,000
Deadline: July 18
Platform: Kickstarter



If you love the idea of funding these and other deserving projects or individuals, be sure to check out these sites too:

  • Kiva - Connects lenders to borrowers around the world, helping to fund small businesses in developing countries, education, and more.
  • Sprigster - The "Boost a Hero" project is a crowdfunding platform for military veterans.
  • Unglue.it - Contribute money to the copyright holder of your favorite book to have a free, licensed electronic edition made available to everyone!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Recipe: Vegan Quinoa Sushi Salad

Like all of the best ones, this recipe came about completely by accident. It has since become one of my go-to recipes for weekday lunches. It's chock-full of protein, omega fats, and vitamin B12 - all that good stuff that vegans love!

Over the summer, I made these vegan sushi rolls for a friend's birthday picnic. It took a few practice rolls to get the process right. I tossed those practice rolls into a container and later had it as a snack. Turned out those sloppy, falling-apart rolls became an awesome salad. I decided to play around with the ingredients a little and came up with this recipe.

For my salad, I used a Florida avocado instead of the more common California avocado. Florida avocados are bigger and are sometimes labeled as "Lite" avocados or "Slimcados." They have fewer calories and fat per ounce than a California or Hass avocado. They're not as creamy, but the flavor of the Florida avocado is perfect and delicious in this salad.

There are a variety of packaged seaweed products available, but I found that the sushi-style nori sheets tasted best for this recipe. It really made the salad taste more like sushi. Seaweed is one of the few vegetarian sources of vitamin B12, which is often lacking in vegan and vegetarian diets.

The ingredient that really put this recipe over the top was the vegan "caviar." I'd been wanting to try it for a while so when I saw the Carviart on sale on Vegan Cuts, I was all over it! I had tried making my own vegan caviar or "roe" in the past using amaranth seed and beet juice (recipe here.) It lacked the salty flavor of the real thing. The Caviart comes a lot closer to the real deal.

You can sign up for a Vegan Cuts account if you want to try some for yourself. For more information about Caviart, check out this page.

Vegan Quinoa Sushi Salad

Quinoa Sushi Salad

Dressing:

  • 4 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp low sodium soy sauce

- Combine ingredients at set aside.

Salad:

  • 1 cup of quinoa - rinsed well
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 Florida avocado, sliced
  • 1 cucumber, sliced
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 2 sheets of nori sushi, broken/chopped into 1" pieces
  • vegan caviar


  1. Cook the quinoa by combining it with the water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until quinoa is translucent. About 15 minutes. Allow to cool.
  2. Add dressing to quinoa along with seaweed, and sesame seeds. Toss to combine.
  3. Top with avocado, cucumber, and caviar.

Further reading
http://nutritiondiva.quickanddirtytips.com/difference-between-california-and-florida-avocados.aspx
http://www.livestrong.com/article/18578-health-benefits-eating-seaweed/
http://www.veganhealth.org/b12/plant#seaweeds
http://thebroccolihut.com/florida-vs-california-battle-of-the-avocado/

Friday, January 4, 2013

You Can Recycle That: Strings of Holiday Lights

As you're taking down the tree and holiday decorations during your annual bout of S.A.D., don't be so quick to throw out all of the faulty strings of Christmas lights! Believe it or not, those lights can be recycled.

Not only will you feel good about keeping your lights out of a landfill, but you'll receive a coupon for 25% off a purchase of (eco-friendlier) LED Christmas lights. It's a great deal for you and the environment!

Check out HolidayLEDs.com for shipping information and details about how to get your coupon.