Why I Moved to a Green Hosting Service

Disclaimer: My research was comprehensive but not unlimited. Other “green” hosting options are surely available. I only considered U.S. companies. Also, there are affiliate links for AISO.net in this article.

GreenServerRoomA few months ago, my contract for hosting The Mindful Consumer and my other blog, The Geo Factor, came up for renewal. Because I had done some research around green data centers for my professional work, I knew that data centers have options for their energy sources. So I began to investigate the Web site and blog hosting companies that independent businesses and bloggers use, which all of course use their own data centers or outsource to others.

Paying attention to the sustainability practices of the technologies used to convey my messages seems apropos. I figured that others touting environmentalism and sustainable living would share my attitude, so my first inclination was to find green hosting service companies by looking at which hosting companies the other green bloggers use.

logo_epagppartnerUnfortunately, my run through that sustainable living neighborhood yielded few who were using hosting companies generally considered green. Most sites say nothing about their sustainability practices or energy usage policies. So I used WhoIsHostingThis to check several of the big environmental organizations and green bloggers. Some use Amazon Web services, which uses some renewable sources. Several sites appear to use Rackspace Hosting, which doesn’t mention sustainable practices on its Web site, but I dug around to find that its parent Rackspace claims to use 35% renewables.

Such lack of attention amongst the environmental community to its hosting choices is troubling. These organizations and their members are doing important work to improve sustainability and help the earth. So why not pay attention to who is hosting their Web sites? By some estimates cloud computing alone is consuming 1-2 percent of the world’s electricity resources. Others estimate that information technology-related emissions are approximately 2 percent of global emissions, equal to emissions from the global aviation sector. Perhaps the smaller “green” hosting companies can’t support the larger sites. Maybe the organizations did think through the decision, but aren’t communicating their reasons publically. There ought to be clear statements from green bloggers and environmental organizations about their hosting providers, not buried on an obscure CSR page.

PIA03149To end my own hypocrisy, I decided to switch to a hosting provider that like me considers sustainability important. First, I looked into my hosting company at the time, Westhost. I had used Westhost for years, and its services were adequate for my needs. However, there’s no commitment to sustainability through any statement of policy or use of renewable energy. When I asked its support group, they pointed me to its server company, which didn’t mention sustainability. It was time to investigate alternatives.

I found 10 hosting companies that touted their sustainable practices with options oriented to a low-volume user like me. But not all are created equal. Sustainable hosting comes in multiple levels in which the hosting company:

  1. Claims sustainable practices such as recycling and encouraging employee telecommuting. One provider touts that it plants trees.
  2. Claims to purchase and use servers with the best-available energy efficiencies.
  3. Purchases renewable energy credits to offset use of standard energy sources.
  4. Uses renewable energy.

Screenshot 2015-01-22 17.38.56

Only one amongst those I found, AISO.net, actually uses renewable energy. While the renewable energy credits are better than nothing, I decided to support direct use of renewable energy. AISO.net stands distinct from the other providers I found. Its on-site solar panels in Menifee, California power the data center and office. Backup generators use the cleaner propane fuel instead of diesel. AISO.net also uses windows and solar tubes for natural lighting. To maintain temperature, its building is painted white and its cooling system uses latent cooling rather than traditional refrigeration. Another difference is its use of wireless Internet backbones rather than cables, eliminating the digging necessary to add more feeds or bandwidth. Inside, AISO.net uses a mini wind turbine in its ducting to charge batteries. Lastly, the company building has a green roof and rainwater collection system.

There are other factors to consider in selecting a hosting plan, including bandwidth and disk space limits, number of domains and databases allowed, and price. The importance of those variables differs based on your site.

Frankly, no other hosting provider seems to approach the sustainable practices of AISO.net. I worried about support from what looks like a relatively small company. Surely, I thought, I would run into support challenges during the transition but decided they were worth the risk.

So I selected my hosting plan and started the transition from Westhost. There were issues moving my two blogs off Westhost and onto AISO.net. Those issues were the result of me not completely understanding the process and doing some things out of order. AISO.net support people helped me navigate through all of the issues and were very patient with my limited technical knowledge. My timing of transition was around the holidays, yet the support people were always responsive; I heard back usually within hours.

For its part, the Westhost people were also supportive, but its documentation about leaving its service and moving the data elsewhere was non-existent. Of course I can’t yet report on AISO.net’s reliability and ongoing service but based on my installation experiences, expect good things.

AISO-green-data-center1-300x224Finding a “green” hosting service was surprisingly difficult. This a time when climate change is in the news daily, and environmental groups and bloggers are being heard more than ever. Sadly, the community seems behind in its hosting selections. Fortunately, I was able to move my two blogs easily to a hosting provider that aligns with our mindful consumption practices – AISO.net.

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5 Reasons to Attend Green Festival

Green Fest Banner NYCWhen we think of festivals, we oftentimes think of a community celebration – typically centered on music, food, or art. So it’s apropos that the “largest and longest-running sustainability and green living event” in America is the Green Festival®. Attendees enjoy music, food, and art as well as education and “green” products/services. Over the past 13 years it’s grown into more than a festival – it’s Festival Plus.

Green Festival visits five U.S. cities each year: New York City, Washington D.C., Los Angeles, Chicago, and San Francisco. Chicago’s Navy Per is the next stop, with more than 250 businesses showing their wares over three days. We’ve attended several times in Washington.

Here are the five reasons it’s worth going.

 1. Green Festival Exhibit Floor DCSustainable Stuff. I’m always amazed at the range of exhibitors and presentations as well as the quality of the food and products in the marketplace. On the exhibit floor, there’s everything from Ford showing its latest electric and hybrid cars to a small natural soap maker called The Fanciful Fox. You’ll see brands you know, such as Clif Bar, and many you don’t. We talked with some of the vendors who were still operating out of their homes. And there are many free samples!

2. Ideas. The event is also a great chance to learn new things about living sustainably. The upcoming Chicago event, for example, has almost 50 speakers – including authors, filmmakers, politicians, musicians, and scientists. Ralph Nader spoke at the Washington event. There were 83 speakers at the recent Los Angeles festival. Topics range from gardening to yoga to solar power.

GFCommunityAward3. Awards. Green Festival offers a Community Award at each location – a $5,000 grant awarded to a deserving local non-profit, chosen by the public on-site at the festival and online. Selected at the Washington D.C. event was The Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food and Agriculture, which is dedicated to creating a more equitable and sustainable local food system in the Washington, DC area.

4. Low Cost. Admission is reasonable and family friendly at only ten bucks per person (16 and under free, discounts to seniors and students). Volunteers enjoy free admission.

Kids Activities NYC5. Children and Adult Friendly. There’s a play area, puppet shows, dancing, plus plenty of products geared to children. And with kids (and adults like me) it’s always great to have a ready source of inexpensive and tasty food (some spicy!) nearby. Plus fashion shows, musical performances, and more for the grownups.

Green Festival is a fun way to learn more about sustainable living, through food, music, art, shopping, and discussions.

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My Colonoscopy was Not a Pain in the Ass

Today I had my first colonoscopy.

While I was unable to live tweet about it, like Michael Dubin, the Chairman and CEO of Dollar Shave Club just did (#DSColon), here’s my experience.

But Why?

While I had no symptoms of problems “down there”, after listening to many doctors recommendations and reading, and because of my age, and because Katie Couric is my favorite TV news person, I decided to get it done. Yet like many, I had hesitated for several years to have the test. I eat a vegetarian diet and have for 37 years. There’s no family history and I take pretty good care of myself.

colon diagram

However, I also didn’t want to have something bad show up later that could have been found in this test. Plus – it’s National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month here in the U.S.!

So I evaluated the evidence, alternatives, and risks. The U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) recently issued a report noting that comparative effectiveness data have shown at-home stool tests to be equivalent to colonoscopies at catching cancer early in patients who don’t have additional risk factors. Another option is the Flexible Sigmoidoscopy to check the lower 1/3 of the colon. However, the colonoscopy allows direct viewing and medical analysis of the entire colon with the option to remove polyps or cancers; plus it’s a common, well-practiced procedure. I decided that the discomfort was a small price to pay for either potential outcome. More about the discomfort later.

Colon cancer is currently the third leading cause of death for both men and women in the U.S. The test is credited with helping significantly lower rates of colorectal cancer deaths. Overall, incidence rates decreased by approximately 3% per year during the past decade (2001–2010). Notably, the largest drops occurred in adults aged 65 and older. For instance, rates for tumors located in the distal colon decreased by more than 5% per year. In contrast, rates increased during this time period among adults younger than 50 years. Colorectal cancer death rates declined by approximately 2% per year during the 1990s and by approximately 3% per year during the past decade. Progress in reducing colorectal cancer death rates can be accelerated by improving access to and use of screening and standard treatment in all populations.

Source: CA Cancer J Clin 2014;64:104–117. © 2014 American Cancer Society.

Unfortunately, screening rates remain low for people poor and uninsured. Yet according to the CDC, “Where feasible, the 25 states and 4 tribes in CDC’s Colorectal Cancer Control Program provide colorectal cancer screening and follow-up care to low-income men and women aged 50–64 years who are underinsured or uninsured for screening, when resources are available and there is no other payment option. Colorectal cancer screening tests may be covered by your health insurance policy without a deductible or co-pay.”

Only Try This at Home

My prep was simple. I stopped eating raw fruit, raw veggies, corn, nuts, and bran 5 days prior to the procedure. The day before the procedure I drank only clear liquids – no milk or pulp juices allowed. I was able to enjoy my morning coffee! And later I had vegetable broth for lunch adding water an clear juices the rest of the day.

photo 2
Bisacodyl, USP 5 mg

At 4pm the real fun started. My doctor’s regimen included:

  1. Taking four Bisacodyl, USP 5 mg tablets (brand name Ducolax®; I used the less expensive but identical generic TopCare® brand).
  2. An 8.3 ounce bottle of Polyethylene Glycol 3350 Powder (brand name Miralax®; I used the TopCare® brand) dissolved in 64 ounces of clear liquid. Drank in 8-ounce portions every 15-30 minutes.
  3. And the final course of this fancy dinner was four more Bisacodyl, USP 5 mg tablets.
Polyethylene Glycol 3350 Powder
Polyethylene Glycol 3350 Powder

For me, the end time of this laxative overdose was around 7:30pm. I was expecting some “action” more quickly than it happened; it wasn’t until after 8:30pm that I became a Jack-in-the-Box, jumping up from watching TV to rush to the bathroom. It was not painful – I had some gas and boating but no pain from the “Spring cleaning” that continued through the night until about 5am. I didn’t get much sleep, and when I did snooze, I dreamt about being in a place with no working toilets.

By Now I’m More than Ready

My wife and I hit the road at 7am for the 7:30am scheduled arrival across town. Inside the gastrointestinal endoscopy facility they verified my identity and insurance. (Not sure why anyone would commit fraud to get a colonoscopy.) At 7:45am they called me back to a prep area with sliding curtains and a hospital bed.

I undressed, put on the blue gown, put my clothes in a bag, and lied down. Soon a nurse arrived to ask me my weight, age, medicines, when I last ate & drank, etc. Took my heart rate and blood pressure. “Are you nervous?” she asked, “Your blood pressure is a little high.” I answered, “yes” and thought who isn’t nervous doing this the first time? She then inserted the anesthesia catheter, while another nurse attached two sticky wired pads on my left side to monitor my heart.

I then waited 30 minutes or so while the doctor finished the previous procedure that took longer than expected. The anesthesiologist arrived and asked if I was allergic to any meds and explained that he would give me Propofol, after which I would get the procedure and then wake up without feeling the procedure or remembering anything. (There are other sedation alternatives that don’t put you completely “under”, so that is something to discuss with your doctor.) He wheeled me into another room. Seconds later I saw the doctor.

The anesthesiologist told me the Propofol would sting going in, but it didn’t. Then the procedure was performed; reportedly – for some strange reason the doctor started at the end …

You’re Not in Kansas Anymore

I had a colonoscopy and all I got was these lousy photos

The next thing I knew, I opened my eyes to see my beautiful wife standing next to me.  I barely recall that she asked me what I wanted to eat and I quickly answered, “the buffet at the casino.”

The doctor came by in a few minutes to walk me through the results, with photos, which indicated nothing bad. He said return in 7 years for another looksie. When I told him about my vegetarian diet, the doctor winced and said, “well you’re doing better than me on THAT.” Soon I was dressed and outa there.

The doctors said I could eat anything afterwards, but didn’t have time for the casino. So we went to iHop and ate breakfast; iHop never tasted so good. Now I’m home. Nothing hurts except my throat, apparently because of oxygen used during the procedure. This is common.

I Reduced My Risk by Getting Screened

I feel good about my decision to be screened. Yes, some of it was unpleasant and scary but that’s all temporary.  Consider getting screened – it could save your life. Get more information at StopColonCancerNow.com and see some of the research discussed at the Cancer Prevention & Treatment Fund.

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Is it Time to Stop Asking Whether Climate Change is Real?

Two hundred and fifty years from now, this is how the Earth could appear. (FOX Cosmos Web Site)
Two hundred and fifty years from now, this is how the Earth could appear. (FOX Cosmos Web Site)

Last night U.S. Senators talked “all night” about climate change. Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid started the discussion at about 6 p.m. EDT yesterday, with the final address by Sen. Bill Nelson ending about 15 hours later, right before 9 a.m. EDT today. The White House posted live tweets during the overnight session under the hashtag #up4climate.

HT_cspan_mar_140310_16x9_608“We have a simple message for all Americans: We’re not going to rest until Congress acts on the most pressing issue of our time,” said Sen. Brian Schatz, a freshman Democrat from Hawaii, who organized the all-nighter on the Senate floor.

Kate Sheppard live blogged the event; you can read the details of the speeches on Huffington Post.  

Many climate change activists are unhappy with the lack of progress on climate change by the Obama administration despite promises during the elections. Climate change deniers point to inadequate/conflicting evidence, uncertainty in the science because scientists are liberals, assertion that the effects are acceptable, and even that it’s a hoax.

Many Republicans see the issue as anti-business, so oppose efforts for the legislators to address climate change. 55% of Republicans in the House of Representatives and 65% of those in the Senate reject the science behind climate change or oppose action on climate change, according to an analysis by the Center for American Progress.

How could something like climate change elicit so much partisan politics in the U.S.? Younger people here apparently see things differently – a bipartisan poll conducted for the League of Conservation Voters shows 80% support for Barack Obama’s climate change plan among voters under 35 years of age.

Perhaps this battle here in the U.S. is another between the religious right and the … well … almost everyone else. Why can’t religion and science just get along?

aa bruno1In the premiere episode of the program Cosmos on Sunday night, there was a segment about how the Italian philosopher Giordano Bruno in the late 1500s expressed cosmological theories of an infinite universe. He was tried, convicted, and burned at the stake for heresy by the Roman Inquisition which was a method used by the Roman Catholic Church to stifle any alternative thinking. (Copernicus and Galileo were among its victims.)

According to a report yesterday in ClimateProgress, Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist and host of National Geographic and Fox’s new show Cosmos, said Sunday that he thinks the media needs to stop providing false balance in stories on scientific subjects like climate change.

“… science is not there for you to cherry pick…You can decide whether or not to believe in it but that doesn’t change the reality of an emergent scientific truth.”

These conflicts boil down to a anthrocentric view of the world versus an isotropic Universe view. Are humans on Earth the center of the Universe and all that matters to God? Are humans supposed to use the Earth and its resources without thought for the future? We will soon look back on the climate change debate the same way we now look back on the idea of the Earth as the center of the universe.

However, while disagreement on the Earth’s position in the cosmos had significant implications for the power of the religious institutions of the time, acting as if climate change is real hurts whom, exactly? Even some of the world’s largest energy companies acknowledge climate change.

It’s time we stop arguing about it and take what actions are needed to preserve life on Earth. Because even if the consensus of scientists is wrong, taking care of the Earth not only makes sense, it is our moral obligation.

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4 Easy Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

There are several easy, but not obvious, ways people can reduce their carbon footprint.

carbon footprintEating locally grown food is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint. Buying local not only reduces the use of fossil fuels, it also helps the local economy and is typically healthier than eating food from distant lands. Local food is typically fresher, tastier, and uses fewer or no chemicals.

Unplugging electronics when not in use reduces the use of electricity in the home and workplace. Even when not in use, electronics that are plugged in use a small trickle of electricity, commonly called phantom load and standby power. Have you ever noticed those little green or red lights, or the always-on clock display? Over time, this waste adds up. Lawrence Berkeley National Labs estimates that as much as 10% of residential electricity use is from standby power, which is responsible for about 1% of global CO2 emissions.  One way to make the turn-offs easier is to use power strips and end the phantom use with one switch for multiple appliances or electronics.

A third way to reduce one’s carbon footprint is to reduce or avoid printing at the office and at home. Printing uses electricity as well as chemicals and paper. Much of the electricity used by printers, especially laser printers, is from standby mode. Instead of printing so much, review drafts on the computer screen and share documents online using a cloud-based service such as Google Drive, DropBox, or SharePoint. Also, Energy Star printers have lower standby electricity use.

Lastly, you can simply buy less stuff. Buying less by purchasing only what you need means you are simply not participating in the culture of overconsumption common is many western societies and directly linked to our individual carbon footprint.

Using these few easy steps, you can make meaningful progress toward reducing your carbon footprint.

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Driving Us Crazy!

As I was driving to work today, despite using Waze, I ran into an unexpected lane closure that backed up traffic on an artery road. There was gridlock, and cars were getting through a traffic light one or two at a time. People couldn’t turn left across the line of cars with drivers impatient to move forward, thereby blocking the intersection.

It was frustrating at first, being stuck there with no way out except to wait. The worst part, though, was watching other people. Not waiting their turn. Throwing up their arms in frustration. Yelling out their windows. And I thought – why the emotions?

Late to the office? People understand traffic.

Late to a doctor’s appointment? So what – they always make you wait anyway.

Late to have breakfast with someone? They also understand traffic.

Late to take your child to school? Your kid is thankful for the delay.

Late to go home? Your family rather have you a bit later and relaxed.

Late to testify in front on Congress? Uh, well, ….

There’s not much we are going towards that’s so important that we seeth in anger when delayed. In it’s most extreme form, we call it “road rage” and people get hurt or even killed.

So why do we get so mad? We hate sitting in traffic. And its costs are huge in terms of our time and gas; almost 2 billion gallons of fuel are lost each year from traffic congestion. Yet we apparently hate sharing rides or taking public transit even more. We’ve set ourselves up for this – uncontrolled growth in areas without an adequate transportation infrastructure.

But maybe there’s more to why we hate driving.

We are out of touch.

Maybe we’re not yet evolved to the motorized vehicle. It’s only been common for the last two generations. Perhaps we simply aren’t wired to be in a tonnage of metal and plastic with more power than a hundred horses. Not to mention the noxious fumes we breathe while in vehicles. Removed from nature, from our surroundings. How can the human mind process the world whizzing by at 60 mph, or at any speed within our rolling cocoons?

Next time you are in a traffic jam, or another driver cuts you off, please remember that it’s not worth the anger. Unless your delay is endangering someone else’s life, it’s not that important.

Slow down. You’ll get there.

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Green Festival DC – Sustainability Show Off

Washington, D.C. 2013 Event Guide
See sustainability in action at the Green Festival DC.

We’re excited to be attending the upcoming Green Festival DC, at the DC Convention Center this coming weekend. It’s the ninth iteration of the festival which we’ve attended the last few years. What is the Green Festival? It’s a place to see and learn about sustainability from economic, cultural, and environmental perspectives. Like we often say here, there are many aspects to living with a sustainability mindset rather than one of blind consumption.

There’s yummy organic food and interesting speakers including iconic Ralph Nader. And a Green Kids Zone as well as an eco-fashion show. So the festival has something for almost everyone, with a focus on sustainability. There’s also lots of food samples, free Ford electric-car rides, and hundreds of vendors. We know from experience that the festival is fun and informative!

This year, there is an expanded emphasis on food, and who doesn’t like food? Food highlights include:

  • Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food and Water Watch and author of the best-selling book Foodopoly, who will speak about food policy
  • DC-based FRESHFARM Markets (FRESHFARM Markets FoodPrints Program) who will present special sessions on “Eating Healthy On A Budget”
  • An Organic Food Court and a Sustainable Beer & Wine Garden
  • Workshops on raising backyard chickens, composting, growing herbs and other sustainability topics.

According to its organizers, Green America and Global Exchange, tickets are $10 for a one day pass and $20 for a full weekend pass when purchased online at www.greenfestivals.org, or $15 and $25 at the door. (All tickets provide access to exhibit floor, all workshops/yoga classes, speakers and films.) And there is FREE admission for anyone who rides a bike to the event and parks with the Clif Bar bike valet, youth under eighteen, union members, volunteers and Green America and Global Exchange members.

Location: Walter E. Washington Convention Center, 801 Mount Vernon Place N.W. Hall A, in Washington, DC. Hour are Saturday, September 21st 10am – 6pm and Sunday, September 22nd 11am – 5pm.

The Mindful Consumer will be there, tweeting from @mindfulconsumer. Let us know if you’re going and we’ll try to meet you. Of course watch Twitter and this blog for our perspectives and announcements from the festival.

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Green Living is for EVERY Body

I’ve been a vegetarian for 12 years. I recycle, garden, worked at a farm, and am an advocate for greener living; I’m also fat. There is a perception that the ecofriendly community looks a certain way, lives a certain life, votes a certain way, and fits into a neat category of people… except they don’t. Ecofriendly people are old and young, democrat or republican, all races, all socioeconomic levels, and all sizes. Some people are surprised when they meet me that I’d rather chomp on turnip than cheese hamburger, or that I am a strong worker who can be in the farm dirt all day long. I am an advocate for Health at Every Size (HAES) which supports actions to make bodies healthier rather than just focus on weight loss. Here’s a link for more information http://www.haescommunity.org/

 

We cannot judge how people live, or what choices they make just by looking at them, or assuming that if they fall into one category, they are automatically excluded from another. Oftentimes my body makes me an outsider to many traditionally ecofriendly avenues. When we go to Greenfest (or other conscious style shopping places) I know that there will probably be no clothing that fits me. Oftentimes various organizations that promote vegetarianism or veganism use weight as a way to persuade people into a vegetarian lifestyle; in fact many times a fat body is shamed to promote vegetarianism including this advertisement by PCRS which uses both sexism, ageism and body shaming to promote veganism: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIzngoAUoNM&list=PL-s1fMMoG8xVt7vMKGzskiAiRBtQ-GSqp&index=1 In order for a greener movement to be possible, we cannot continue to exclude people based on things like looks. ALL people matter and ALL actions are important.

The truth is that any step a person makes, whether a person does meatless Mondays occasionally, uses reusable bags at the grocery store, carpools, recycles, buys used, or ANY activity to make less footprint is imperative to creating a sustainable community: we are all neighbors on Earth. There is no way to know a person’s choices just by looking at them. Instead of assuming a person lives a certain way based on how they look, or who they vote for, understand that people who make earth friendly choices may not just be your hippie aunt with dreadlocks drinking kombucha but maybe your republican boss, the bodybuilder at your gym, your shy neighbor, or your heavy writer at TheMindfulConsumer.com.

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Labor Day 2013, Americans are Working Everywhere

Labor Day 2013President Obama is adamantly clear that Labor Day is important to “the working men and women of America”, and that he wants more for the middle class, countering “the forces that conspire against working Americans”. Yet what I see is a country in which Labor Day is all about the “end of Summer” and making money … which means many Americans are working today. The Labor Day sales of retailers ensure that many “working Americans” are at work today. For others, the once-clear boundaries of the office are gone with the advent of mobile technologies, the Internet, and the expectation that one can work anywhere, any time. The U.S. Department of Labor tells us that Labor Day is “a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.” By 1894, Labor Day was a national holiday, to be marked with parades and speeches celebrating the workforce that made this country great. Today, the fast-food workers reported to work as usual. The retail store workers also reported as usual. Construction workers were on sites building. Yes, the Federal Government and many businesses are closed. Yet many of the bottom-of-the-rung workers are working, because they can’t afford to take the day off without pay. Or because they simply don’t even realize what Labor Day is supposed to mean. The very people for which this day is supposed to honor are being treated as if it’s just another day. And these same people have lost their Thanksgivings, Christmases, and New Year Days as everything must remain open every day now. While there is much not to like about the unions responsible for Labor Day, they did once improve the position of this core of America – the worker – and they deserve some thanks. will work for foodIn 2013 workers are the center of some huge arguments in America. From a faltering economy to a pending healthcare plan to immigration debates, the lower and middle class workers are not only the focus of discussion, they are key to the success of this country. People with hopes and dreams are working to survive, and many expect to make their lives better. Yet we can’t even take one day off from the massive mindless consumerism that defines our culture. So as some of us bask in the sun waterside of those soon-to-be-closed swimming facilities and beaches, let us at least stop a moment and thank our workers, all of them working today, from the janitors to the farm workers, from the bus drivers to the nurses, from the teachers to the information-age workers. Tell them today, Labor Day 2013, or tomorrow or any day that they are appreciated. If you own a business or have influence in one, show the employees some respect.

If any man tells you he loves America, yet hates labor, he is a liar. If any man tells you he trusts America, yet fears labor, he is a fool. Abraham Lincoln

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Drying Clothes on a Clothesline

 

Hanging Clothes on the Line

My towels hanging on the line
My towels hanging on the line

About two months ago I decided to spring for a clothesline.I wondered why we continued to use the old dryer in our rental when it has been so hot in the summer heat outside it felt like stepping into a dryer. Surprisingly, at one of those big home improvement stores I was able to find an inexpensive umbrella-style clothesline that was easy to install along with extra clothes pins. My mother used to hang clothes out on the line when I was growing up, so a few tips somehow stayed with me all these years. I will share with you a few reasons why you should try it, and a few tips on successful line drying.

Why Hang Clothes on the Line?

1. Energy savings. The sun is free and the dryer is a hog. I’ve found that in the 1 ½- 2 hours it took our dryer to dry a big load of towels, a warm sunny day dried them in the same amount of time.

2. Easy. Is it really easy to hang things on the line? It is. Truly. I find it relaxing and it only takes a few minutes to hang an entire load. A few free minutes of outdoor time can be relaxing. The way they look as they blow on the line is beautiful. I like to sneak between the damp clothes for a moment and pretend I am in a fort where no energy bill can get me.

3. Revolutionary. Instead of buying the newest, energy star product (hey, I love energy star appliances) this technique is ancient, free, and makes a statement that you don’t need to rely on energy to do everything.

4. Smell. Clothes on the line smell amazing. The way they look as they blow in the wind, and the fresh, clean, beautiful feeling is unmatchable. I dried my bed sheets and quilt on the line today and can’t wait to get in to my fresh, nice bed.

 

Tips on Line Hanging Success

1. Pin the clothes, towels, etc. with a tiny about of overhang on the line so you don’t get clothespins marks.

2. Most items of clothing hang better “upside down”, like pants, (hang them by the ankles instead of the waistband) or shirts (so you don’t get weird little marks on your shoulders from where the clothespins were). If you decide to hang your undergarments on the line, you can hang them on the inside so the neighbors don’t see.

3. Check the weather forecast. Enough said.

4. Hang things with space between them for air, and hang all things without an overlap so they dry faster.

5.Some things get kinda “crunchy” on the line, like towels. I feel like they give me extra exfoliation after my shower, and are super absorbent. If you don’t want the extra texture, some vinegar in the rise cycle is said to help alleviate the crunch and won’t smell after the clothes are dry. I have found that if you watch them, and take them down as soon as they dry, the likelihood of crunch is lower. Also, on a breezy day there is less likely to be roughness.

6. Some of the best and easiest things to hang on the line are towels and sheets. Even reducing a few loads of laundry a month is still so significant.

7. Check your homeowner’s association about whether or not they allow clotheslines. Ours (I kid you not) allow us to hang on a clothesline every day but Sunday (no, this isn’t the town from Footloose or a strange Puritan recreation village; that’s just what it says.) If you don’t have a yard, there are lots of indoor ways to hang clothes, too. From indoor clotheslines to foldaway racks. The benefit of hanging clothes indoors in the winter is that is also boosts the humidity in the house when it can get so dry.

 

I have really enjoyed the Zen-like activity of hanging clothes on the line. I also enjoy finding an activity that can cut down on utility costs, connect me to the past, and also become a statement of how I choose to use my energy. Instead of shoveling my wash into the dryer, I spend a few minutes outside, more observant of my surroundings. It forces me to pay attention to the wind, the air, the weather, and it rewards me with fresh smelling laundry that was dried for free.

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practical earth-friendly living