October 29, 2009

Baby Steps

Seventh Generation is sponsoring a Million Baby Crawl (not to be confused with the Children’s Stroller Brigade) to Washington, D.C. to demand toxic chemical policy reform from our government. Well, they can’t actually “demand” anything, they’re BABIES! But boy can they crawl (they have videos on the site to prove it!).

Click here to create your very own “crawler” complete with his or her own name, skin color and choice of outfit, and set him or her on his or her merry way to our nation's capital.

Crawl baby crawl.

October 28, 2009

Book in a Box

Don’t be alarmed this month if you open up your Honey Nut Cheerios and find a book inside. I mean, it’ll be alarming because it’s just too random, but don’t say you weren’t warned. Cheerios is marking its 8th year of promoting children’s literacy by inserting 6 million children’s books inside its cereal boxes.

Titles to read sleepy eyed, and spill strong black coffee over at the breakfast table – sorry, that your kids can read sleepy eyed, and spill strong black coffee over at the breakfast table – include “Ballyhoo Bay,” “Tea for Ruby,” “What's Under the Bed?” “Sleepyhead” and “Junkyard Fort” (all courtesy of Simon & Shuster Children’s Publishing.) There are five to collect, and after that I’d suggest “The Dubliners.”

Take that, Cracker Jack! And kudos, Cheerios, for throwing your honey and your nuts behind such an essential – and MDG-approved – cause.

October 27, 2009

Green Apples

Some free and easy tips on greener living for you. Yeah, I know, there’s an app for that. Here are a few of my favorites.

1. GenGreenTips
Get a fresh, green tip each and every day.

2. The Green Book Lite
A free preview of "The Green Book: The Everyday Guide to Saving the Planet One Simple Step at a Time." Pretty self-explanatory.

3. Huffington Post Green
Get your politics fix and green news all in one convenient app.

4. Recycler
Navigate the sometimes confusing and scary recycling stream (e.g. Can I recycle that "gently"used tissue?)

5. EarthTOIDZ Lite
You’ll be the smartest kid (geek) on the block with these fun Earth facts. You could also go and buy Bill Bryson's "A Short History of Nearly Everything." Everyone should have a copy.

October 26, 2009

Spread the Hopenhagen

Flex your muscle (or index finger) and click here to help turn Copenhagen into “Hopenhagen."

October 23, 2009

A Landmark Contest

TripAdvisor and UNESCO's World Heritage Centre are working together to protect the world's greatest landmarks (there are a whopping 890 World Heritage Sites worldwide.)

To celebrate their new partnership, TripAdvisor is giving away a trip for two to Paris. Can you guess which famous landmark is located there? (hint... it's in the picture to the right.) Go here to find the answer and to enter the contest.

October 22, 2009

Making the List

If you’re a fan of lists (and who isn’t?), you’re gonna love the new GOOD 100. Put together by the editors of GOOD magazine, it’s a compilation of the most important people, ideas and projects that are changing our planet for the better. Some you may know, others you’ll be meeting for the very first time.

A few of their picks - in no particular order - include an initiative to increase teachers’ salaries, Cowpooling (I'm not making this up), NPR’s “Planet Money,” I Heart PV, and a refugee rights’ organization called Asylum Access.

There are 95 more waiting for you
here. Who knows, maybe you're one of them.

October 20, 2009

An Oldie But a Goodie

I’m not a card carrying member just yet, but it won’t be too long before I become one (since when is “retired person” defined as 50-plus?!). Anyway, the “people with the power to make it better” (you at the back, keep up, I’m talking about AARP) just joined forces with the Entertainment Industry Foundation and iParticipate to encourage Americans to volunteer.

AARP’s “Create the Good” - where good people get connected to opportunities to create good – has a whole slew of activities planned for this week (October 19-25) to help promote volunteerism. Country crooner/superwoman Faith Hill encourages Americans to volunteer their time to make America a better place in a new PSA airing on You Tube and ESPN sportscaster Jorge Ramos has a special message on Univision, Telemundo and V-Me that urges Hispanics to volunteer.

You can also tune in to one of the more than 90 programs on ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and cable networks that will spotlight the idea of giving back. NBC's "30 Rock" kooky page Kenneth Parcell tries to adopt all the dogs at an animal shelter, the hunky docs on ABC's "Private Practice" give homeless teenagers free checkups, and two characters (not sure if they’re the brains or the brawn) on CBS' "Numb3rs" talk about joining Big Brothers Big Sisters.

You can’t escape it, so you might as well enjoy it while you can.

October 19, 2009

Bear With Me

I always like a bit of good news in my inbox, especially on a rainy, October Monday (rain on a Monday; how is that fair?) And even more so when the good news involves helping, protecting, or saving animals. P.S. I also love the cute animal videos so please keep 'em coming!

So I was thrilled when I saw an email from the NRDC announcing that the Obama administration has agreed to support an upgrade in international protection for polar bears. Hurray to all the conservationists, NRDC members and online activists who signed the petition (over 50,000 of you.) This is another important step in helping to end trophy hunting and to stop the global trade in polar bear body parts.

Let’s hear it for the bears.

October 15, 2009

Change Agent

David Bowie wrote about it. So did Sheryl Crow and Blind Melon. It’s the only constant. The more things do it, the more they stay the same.

Oh, Change. Some of us love you. Some of us, well, you scare the crap out of us. But we do know a majority of voters Believe in You.

Do we live in a time of transformative change? We have that new fellow in the White House, of course. Our political system is finally free from the gravitational pull of money, self-interest, greed and ego, and our elected representatives are at last acting in the public interest so that we can all have great healthcare, financial security, a job …

What? Oh, right. Anyway, there has to be some change going on out there that we’re happy about. And if you happen to find some, here’s your chance to shout about it from the Internet’s rooftops.

Change.org, the online hub for social change, wants you to pick your favorite “Changemaker” (you can actually pick up to 10). They’ve got dozens to choose from including activists, scientists, bloggers, big thinkers, elected officials, even a few actors and filmmakers. And there’s a wide variety of causes to choose from including animal rights, human rights, gay rights, poverty, war and peace, the environment and sustainable food to name a few.

Can’t find your favorite Changemaker on the list? Go ahead and nominate your own. Heck, you can even nominate yourself. But only once!

October 14, 2009

Trash Talk

A programming note for my beloved, stinky, pinko-commie-liberal San Francisco neighbors:

The other night I was hanging out with a friend, slurping cheap wine, and by the end of the third glass I'd pretty much learned everything I ever wanted to know about San Francisco’s new mandatory compost law (it was that kind of a night). I won't burden (I mean, "enlighten," of course!) you with all of the nitty gritty details, but here are a few highlights I think you should know.

First, it goes into effect one week from today (October 21). That's basically, like, tomorrow. Second, it's aimed at both businesses and residents. No exceptions. So unless you want to throw away (geddit?) your -- or your landlord's -- hard-earned money on a hefty fine, you’re going to have to order your very own green bin before then. Don’t panic; it’s super easy and it won’t cost you a dime.

Just call Golden Gate Disposal (415-626-4000) or Sunset Scavenger (415-330-1300) and they’ll drop off a compost bin with your next scheduled trash pickup. For free. Not a homeowner yet? Simply call your landlord and politely ask them to get you one unless they want to have the green garbage gang emptying their wallets.

Prefer something a bit more stylish for your compostables? Check out Williams-Sonoma’s Ceramic Compost Pail ($32). It’s stink-proof (the lid has a carbon filter) and holds up to a gallon of all your compostable bits and pieces.

Go to SFRecycling.com to find a list of exactly what you can compost (basically anything that used to be alive) and what you can’t (you can keep the pooper scoopings to yourself, thank you). And that goes double for your dirty diapers. Definitely NOT compostable.

Once you get the swing of it, I bet you’ll be one happy composter.

October 13, 2009

Bug-ly Betty

SPOILER ALERT for all you “Ugly Betty” fans. As you probably know, the show returns this Friday (October 16) with a special 2-hour season premiere. What you might not know (and hence, the spoiler alert) is that it will feature a storyline revolving around malaria.

To kick off the new season, the cast teamed up with the United Nations to help promote their “Nothing but Nets” initiative. The episode will reveal the role mosquito nets play in preventing the disease – a major killer of children in Africa.

That’s all ABC is revealing for now; you’ll just have to tune in to get the full scoop. Friday, October 16, 8/7c.

October 9, 2009

Gimme Shelter

One of the best decisions I ever made was to adopt our adorable Spaniel mutt Mini from Los Angeles’ South Central shelter eight years ago. That’s why I was so thrilled to hear about a new campaign called The Shelter Pet Project, a joint venture between the Ad Council, the Humane Society of the United States and Maddie’s fund which promotes the adoption of shelter pets.

What makes this campaign so different, you might ask? In a word, humor. These clever folks realized that the public is more moved by laughter than tears so they’ve come up with some very funny ads to make their point. My two favorites are “White Collar,” which features a dog whose owner is dragged off to prison for insider trading (doesn’t sound very funny, I know – you have to watch it) and “Ditched,” featuring Scout, a scruffy dog who, yep, you guessed it, gets ditched by his jerky owner (oh, just have a look and you’ll get it).

Not a big TV person? Rest assured. They’ve got some hilarious radio spots which are a take off of the old “Lassie” series. They’ve also got you covered with billboards, bus stop posters, print ads, and of course, the Internet. Just go to http://www.theshelterpetproject.org/ and laugh your ass off. And for all of you advanced social media aficionados, you can also show your support on Facebook, MySpace and Twitter.

October 8, 2009

Cleanliness is Next to Goodliness

Over the years, Dove has done a heck of a lot to promote self-esteem among women. It all began with their “Campaign for Real Beauty” back in 2004. I’m sure you remember the ads, the ones featuring beautiful, REAL women (with actual curves and even a few wrinkles) clad in nothing but their skivvies. It was positively (pun intended) revolutionary.

This fall, Dove is teaming up with Girls Inc. to help promote self-esteem among girls. They’re calling it their “Thank You” campaign. Here’s how it works: through December, purchase a product from Dove, go to their website, enter the UPC (product) code and choose to donate one dollar to Girls Inc.

Your dollar will help support Girls Inc. Mind + Body, a new initiative which gives girls the knowledge, skills, and attitude it takes to form and maintain a healthy and positive sense of self. So lather up, moisturize, click and repeat! With Dove products of course.

October 6, 2009

An Electric Memoir

I'm always on the lookout for a good page-turner. Fiction/non-fiction, classic/not-so-classic (oh, Patricia Cornwell, my guilty pleasure), mystery/romance, biography/non-biography, even a bit of self-help on occasion. I like them all.

Over the years, I've also read some pretty terrific memoirs: “The Glass Castle” and “Angela’s Ashes" are two of my all-time favorites. I’m hoping a new book called “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind” will soon join them on the list.

The book tells the modern-day story of William Kamkwamba, a 14-year old Malawian boy who despite incredible odds - surviving the worst famine his country had seen in 50 years and being forced to drop out of school because his family couldn’t afford the $80 yearly tuition - went on to build a makeshift windmill that brought electricity (and eventually water) to his poverty-stricken village. (A windmill! I can barely make coffee.)

Electricity allowed the villagers to read at night after work. And water allowed them to grow two crops a year rather than one, without spending two hours a day hauling it. The windmill was truly life-changing for everyone involved.

“The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind” is a tale of hope, determination and good old-fashioned perseverance. And, above all, it demonstrates that one individual really can make a difference. Good for you, William K.

October 5, 2009

Good Kitty

The folks over at Purina – specifically the Yesterday’s News people, makers of the environmentally friendly cat litter – want to hear your favorite ideas for making the world a little bit greener.

You’ve got three categories to choose from: doing eco-good for your cat, for your home, or for the environment. And 300 words to do it in. (Eco-good for your cat? If it was easy everyone would enter.)

If they pick your story, $15,000 will be awarded to a local “do-gooder” organization of your choice. You’ll also get $5,000 in cash and a year’s supply of kitty litter. Not to mention the local celebrity that comes with having 52 weeks’ worth of cat litter sitting on your doorstep.

And, for every qualifying entry they receive by October 23rd, Yesterday’s News will donate $1 to the Arbor Day Foundation, which will plant a tree on your behalf.

So, as they put it on their website, it pays to be a do-gooder. Like I couldn’t have told you that.

October 2, 2009

Today is Lance's Day

Lance Armstrong has had a lot of things to celebrate over the years. Seven Tour de France wins, beating cancer and, of course, his hugely successful LIVESTRONG Foundation - the brilliant force behind those bright yellow wristbands that raised gazillions of dollars for cancer research.

Now he has yet another reason to celebrate: his very own day! Today, MDG is happily marking LIVESTRONG Day, which has been established to celebrate cancer survivorship and spread awareness of the fight against the disease around the globe.

And perhaps coolest of all you can go to http://www.livestrongaction.org/ and sign a petition which urges Congress to pass life-saving health insurance reforms to help protect cancer survivors. A great cause, a great new day for the calendar, and an important opportunity to get those laggards on The Hill to get their butts into gear and pass some meaningful health legislation.

October 1, 2009

Disaster Relief

Mother Nature unleashed her fury on Southeast Asia this week with four major disasters. First came Typhoon Ketsana, which displaced more than half a million people in the Philippines, Cambodia and Vietnam.

Then on Tuesday a huge tsunami struck the Samoan Islands, killing more than 150 people and destroying entire villages. Over the past two days two separate earthquakes have hit Indonesia, killing over 1,000 people and leaving thousands trapped under rubble. And now a second typhoon - a so-called super-typhoon named Parma - is set to hit the northern Philippines on Saturday. There seems to be no relief in sight.

Hopefully, you've still got some of that September paycheck leftover, because there are many, many organizations that could use your help; even just $10 or $15 makes a huge difference. In fact, several organizations will even match your donation. So pledge to kick that latte and muffin habit next week and give the money to someone who really needs it. Here are a few organizations that are making an immediate difference on the ground: