"If there’s a world here in a hundred years, it’s going to be saved by tens of millions of little things. The powers-that-be can break up any big thing they want. They can corrupt it or co-opt it from the inside, or they can attack it from the outside. But what are they going to do about 10 million little things? They break up two of them, and three more like them spring up!"
- Pete Seeger, in YES! Magazine

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Beach Trash - 18 pounds

Today we took a family hike along the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes Complex. We followed the beach 2.6 miles south to a huge sand dune, climbed the dune, explored, and enjoyed a wonderful picnic lunch before heading back. Though today's trek wasn't about deed doing, I figured it'd be easy enough to do this one.

WOW...I sure did "misunderestimate" this one!

The project:
Pick up trash during a family hike.

2 hours (We only picked up on the return trip of this out-and-back route. The entire trek took us 6 hours.)

Why bother?
Whenever we visit any beach (or public open space or park of any description, really) we find trash, and usually plenty of it. I'm sure most of it simply blew away from picnickers and hikers, day campers and fisherfolk. Other folks are just plain rude and leave it behind. I figured it wouldn't be a big deal to bring a garbage bag with us and pick up trash on our way back to the car. Good thing I brought a 16-gallon bag!

Worth it?Well, I'm glad we picked up the trash. Someone needed to do it. Most of it was plastic and will never decompose (or at least not soon enough).

Did you know there's a gigantic garbage drift in the ocean swirling, swirling, full of plastic that just won't go away? It's called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and it measures hundreds of miles across. While our cotton and wood rot and our metal eventually rusts, plastic goes on indefinitely.

In the end, we filled a 16-gallon kitchen trash bag with 13 pounds of trash, and also removed 5 pounds of scrap wood (plywood and nailed wood - we quickly decided to limit our effort to items generally along our path, and to leave most of the wood to nature). Most of the garbage we collected is actually recyclable, so once we arrived home, I spent a few minutes sorting into appropriate bins for delivery with our own recyclables. Our collection included:
- 3 shovel handles
- 4 broken toy shovels
- multiple plastic grocery bags
- 1 Mylar balloon featuring faded Disney princesses
- 1 boot
- 1 clog
- 2 flip flops, but not a matched pair
- 2 bleach bottles, one with bleach still inside
- countless beverage bottles, most plastic, but a few glass
- 1 pair of mittens
- 2 more mismatched mittens
- fishing paraphernalia
- gift ribbons and bows
- food wrappers
- 3 beer cans (2 Coors, one Bud) that dated back to pull-tab days

Friday, February 20, 2009

Donating Children's Books to the Library

Last month, it was magazines. This year, our library benefits from our bookshelf sorting project.

The project:
Donate children's books our kids have outgrown.

45 minutes to go through bookshelf, minutes to drop at library.

Why bother?
Some people say books should never leave your home. While there are some to which we've grown very attached, the girls are outgrowing their board books and some of the early readers they've read 'til they're memorized. The girls helped me sort out their overstuffed bookshelf to pass some on to our local library, which may either put them into circulation or sell them at one of their regular Friends of the Library book sales, the proceeds from which fund library acquisitions.

Worth it?
Absolutely! The library benefits from our well-tended books. We have room to put the remainder of the books away properly.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Recycling grocery bags

Today we were headed to the grocery store, so we dropped off our recycling.

The project:
Recycle plastic bags - somehow these add up quickly even though we usually take our own bags to the store. We also turn in the recyclable bags in which our newspapers are delivered every morning and some other recyclable bags.


Why bother?
This is something we do regularly. For complete details, see this link.

Worth it?
Better than throwing them in the landfill. And while I can control my grocery bag usage, there are other recyclable bags that find their way to our house.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Homeowners Association Secretary Duties

First of all, I've been on this board for three years now. I'd like to be off, but of the more than 100 property owners represented by the association, only three of us have been willing to serve these past few years. It's a sign of the times, I suppose, but disappointing nonetheless. Currently I serve as secretary.

The project:
Mock up, print out and post fliers calling for new board members as the annual election approaches.

45 minutes

Why bother?
First, it's my duty as the secretary of the board. Second, our president is moving to Hawaii, and the other two of us would really like to focus our efforts elsewhere. We've given back to our neighborhood. Now it's someone else's turn. (Not sounding very charitable, am I? But seriously, it's someone else's turn.)

Worth it?
Not what I wanted to be doing today, but it had to be done. I hope it pans out.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Project Linus #5 - First Pair Completed

The project: Complete the quilt I designed for Project Linus.

90 minutes

Why bother?
Click here.

Worth it?
This project took several hours to design and build, plus there was the unexpected cost related with batting. (OOOPS!) Still, it was fun, and E particularly enjoyed making hers (and the idea of giving it to someone who she believes will love it). I hope the keepers of these quilts will enjoy them to the fullest.

We'll let you know how they're received by the local project rep.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Keeping Grandma Company

So, I discussed whether or not this counted as a "charitable deed" for the sake of the project. Why is it debatable? It's a good deed, right. But the problem with this project is most of these acts are things we should do anyway, on a regular basis, without expecting credit or reward (though a simple "thanks" is always nice). My adviser and I decided it counts. Plus, if it reminds others to take care of family, fantastic!

The project:
Lunch with Great-Grandma

90 minutes, excluding the 50-minute drive time to her place.

Why bother?
The girls' great-grandma lives in a assisted living situation now. She can get around, has her own apartment in the facility, but has her meals with most of the other residents in the conveniently located group dining room. While Grandma's memory is certainly fading, she knows us when we come and she has great stories to share; she just forgets that she's only just finished telling us the same story. With patience, it's a great visit. And it gives her something to do besides stare out the window, read, or watch TV. (I've never seen her TV on there. I don't know if it even works.)

Worth it?
Absolutely. I always learn something new when I visit Grandma, and she's quick with a laugh and a smile. The girls enjoy her company, and I think it's really important for children to see that (the vast majority of) elderly folks aren't scary curmudgeons, but important members of our society.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Pajama Party Anyone?

We've almost wrapped up our work on our initial quilt run for Project Linus. We'll see how the project coordinator for our area receives them before we make any more.

Meanwhile, I was recently made aware of this project which we've taken on for March.

The project:
Gather new pajamas and bedtime stories for children in our own community.

20 minutes - research, early organization and putting out the call

Why bother?
Seems like a worthy project. We have lots of kids in our area in shelters or foster situations. Cuddling up with comfy PJs and a good book at bedtime are among life's simple pleasures.

Worth it?
We'll see how it pans out. I like the idea of this drive. Let's see what we can bring together! :)