How to volunteer during COVID-19

April 14, 2020 by  
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In times of crisis, many people feel the desire to help their communities. But the current stay-at-home orders prevent taking action. Right now, unless you are an essential worker, the most helpful thing to do is stand down. Still, everyday heroes are finding social distancing-approved ways to be of service to their communities . If you are inspired to help, here are some safe ways to volunteer your time and skills to those in need during COVID-19. Deliver groceries Everybody needs food , but a trip to a grocery store has suddenly become dangerous, especially for older folks or those with underlying health conditions. In Portland, Oregon, Meals on Wheels closed its dining centers last month, increasing the need for drivers to deliver meals to seniors. In CEO Ellie Hollander’s April 9 newsletter, she reported the local Meals on Wheels branch was serving 1,396 more people than it had the month before. But because more than 1,800 new volunteers answered the pandemic-related call, the meals will go on. Many cities might not be so fortunate, so check with your local branch to see if you’re able to donate time or money. In Washington, Kirkland Nourishing Network (KNN) has been providing food boxes to families in need for 7 years. This month, it expanded to provide gift cards. “We’ve solicited donations and then purchased and handed out 500-plus Safeway gift cards to families with school kids,” said Lynette Erickson Apley, KNN’s north site manager. “We’ve done two rounds and are slated for a third round in a few weeks.” More informal grocery services are also popping up. In my own neighborhood, I’ve seen flyers tacked up to telephone poles recruiting volunteers to go shop for groceries and deliver them to people in the area. This is happening around the country. Of course, if you know neighbors who are older, have illnesses or have weakened immune systems, you could offer to pick up a few items when you brave the trip to the store and leave some groceries on their porches. Make masks for essential workers Crafters have already been busy sewing masks for essential workers since March. But because the CDC issued new guidelines recommending everyone to wear a mask when venturing out in public, home seamstresses have upped their efforts to protect their communities. Related: How to make your own face masks “I got involved with Mask Match after my classmate heard about it on a podcast,” said Briana Corkill, a medical student in Phoenix. Mask Match solicits donations of filtration, surgical and homemade masks for healthcare workers. “It seemed like a great way to be helpful from home. For me, volunteering comes with the territory of learning to be a doctor, but it’s especially important now, while humans figure out how to support each other through this pandemic.” Corkill found the process easy and fast. “Zero skill was needed, they teach you how to do everything and it’s super straightforward and easy! The time from my friend telling me about it to me actually matching healthcare providers with equipment was less than a day.” Provide mental health support Those with proper training can offer mental health support over the phone. Erica Aten, an Oregon-based licensed clinical psychologist, is volunteering her services with the national group Reloveution as part of its pandemic response. “This volunteer program matches mental health providers with emergency personnel, first responders and health professionals nationwide,” she said. “The purpose of this program is to support professionals dealing with stress associated with COVID-19.” Volunteers can give what they are able to, whether that’s a single support session or multiple sessions per week. “Mental health providers are in a unique situation given we are holding others’ anxiety, crises and pain while also experiencing similar emotions and circumstances ourselves,” Aten said. “When it comes to volunteering during a time of crisis, I think people should be mindful of their own mental health and well-being before over-extending themselves to help others.” If you don’t have the training to volunteer with mental health support services, you can still provide wellness checks for friends, family and neighbors just by calling and checking on them. Miscellaneous volunteer efforts People are finding creative ways to help others during the pandemic. In Seattle, Megan Delany’s rugby team is using the time off from their sport to help stuff care bags for Lifelong , which supports people who have HIV. In Kirkland, chef Dave Holthus and his wife, Laura, started a Lunch to the Rescue campaign on GoFundMe. The idea is to deliver delicious, chef-made lunches for employees at Evergreen Hospital. They have far exceeded their fundraising goal. “They are not part of a larger organization,” said Virginia Andreotti, a family friend. “[They are] just a couple good people who wanted to do a nice thing.” Several skills can be of help right now. If you have experience writing grants, many organizations could use your assistance to stay afloat. Love animals? I met one man who walks his neighbor’s dog three times a week while the neighbor works overtime at a hospital. Additional opportunities include donating blood; donating time, money or food to food banks; and creating hygiene kits for people experiencing homelessness in your community. Volunteering is good for morale and helps people feel more connected and optimistic. “Basically tons of people need help with tons of things right now,” Corkill said. “So if you can think of a way to get involved, you should do it.” Images via Pixabay and Adobe Stock

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How to volunteer during COVID-19

Survey Results: Have You Helped a Neighbor Recycle Better?

October 24, 2018 by  
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Thanks to those of you who responded to last week’s … The post Survey Results: Have You Helped a Neighbor Recycle Better? appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Survey Results: Have You Helped a Neighbor Recycle Better?

Earthling Survey: Have You Helped a Neighbor Recycle Better?

October 17, 2018 by  
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Express your opinion and help drive environmental change. Every week, … The post Earthling Survey: Have You Helped a Neighbor Recycle Better? appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Earthling Survey: Have You Helped a Neighbor Recycle Better?

Survey Results: Your Single-Use Plastic Water Bottle Purchases

October 17, 2018 by  
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Thanks to those of you who responded to last week’s … The post Survey Results: Your Single-Use Plastic Water Bottle Purchases appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Survey Results: Your Single-Use Plastic Water Bottle Purchases

20% of US population produces 46% of food-based emissions

March 22, 2018 by  
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A monumental new study demonstrates that one-fifth of the American population is responsible for nearly half of all food-based emissions. Popsci reports that people who eat a lot of animal protein, especially beef, account for a larger share of greenhouse gas emissions — although, author Sara Chodosh also illustrates the extreme complexity behind the study’s potentially groundbreaking conclusions. Read on for a closer look. Published in Environmental Research Letters specifically sought to understand how diet and associated emissions varies among the American population. Martin Heller, an engineer at the University of Michigan’s Center for Sustainable Systems and study contributor, told Popsci it was surprising to realize just how varied they are. “I don’t think any of us really had a strong sense of how distributed the greenhouse gas emissions would be,” he says. “That was perhaps the most striking result.” Getting to the meat of the matter (sorry, I couldn’t resist) involved consulting several different databases and picking apart the life-cycle analysis of every morsel. Chodosh writes : “The NHANES survey results can tell you what a broad spectrum of American plates look like on any given day, but tells you nothing about the environmental impact of those foods. To do that, you have to go to the Food Commodities Intake Database, run by the EPA, and figure out how much meat might be in that meat lasagna, or how many tomatoes are in a generic salad. From there, you have to link the quantities of each type of food to the emissions associated with producing it.” Related: Garlic may be the key to slashing methane emissions from cows When evaluating the emissions of a single tomato, it was necessary to know how much fertilizer was used in its production, and then how much fuel was used to transport that tomato. With poultry, the researchers had to also consider feed production, and when analyzing the greenhouse gas emissions associated with eating beef, they had to calculate the amount of methane released by cow burps. I urge you to head over to Popsci to read the full details , because this short synthesis doesn’t do their reporting justice, but here’s the bottom line that we found so interesting: What next? Now that we know one-fifth of the American population is producing nearly half of food-based emissions — which in their turn are helping to melt glaciers and unleash devastating wildfires, not to mention the numerous adverse health hazards attributed to climate change — what do we do with that information? Heller tells Popsci, “Clearly we’ve not been very good at encouraging people to shift their diets for their own health. Relative to what our recommended healthy diet is, Americans do pretty poorly,” he says, “But I’ve started to try to think about it as the secondhand smoke of diet choice.” Fascinating. If you understood that your dietary choices directly hurt your neighbor, would you make a switch? + Environmental Research Letters Via Popsci Images via DepositPhotos 1 , 2

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20% of US population produces 46% of food-based emissions

‘World’s smallest computer’ could be manufactured for under 10 cents

March 22, 2018 by  
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Need a computer that’s smaller than a single grain of salt ? IBM has got you covered. Mashable reported the company unveiled what they’re calling the world’s smallest computer, that, according to IBM , “packs several hundred thousand transistors into a footprint barely visible to the human eye.” The world’s smallest computer is one-by-one millimeter in size, according to The Verge . IBM says it can have as many as one million transistors and will cost under 10 cents to create. Features include an LED communications unit and photo-detector, static random-access memory (SRAM), and an integrated photovoltaic cell. The photo above is actually a set of 64 motherboards, according to The Verge, each of which contain two of the world’s smallest computers. Below is a solo computer on salt to give you an idea of its small size: Related: IBM creates first-ever artificial neurons that behave like the real thing The miniscule computer is among the IBM Research team’s 5 in 5 technology predictions, which they “believe will fundamentally reshape business and society in the next five years,” according to a blog post from IBM Research head Arvind Krishna. Krishna called the computer a cryptographic anchor, or crypto-anchor — defined in an IBM video as “tamper-proof digital-fingerprints” to be embedded into products to ensure authenticity and detect counterfeit items. The company is showing off their 5 in 5 at the IBM Think 2018 conference. Mashable said testing of the first prototype is still underway, so there’s no word yet on when exactly the world’s smallest computer will be available, although Krishna said cryptographic anchors “will be embedded in everyday objects and devices” in around five years. + Changing the Way the World Works: IBM Research’s “5 in 5” + IBM 5 in 5: Crypto-anchors and blockchain Via Mashable and The Verge Images via IBM and IBM

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‘World’s smallest computer’ could be manufactured for under 10 cents

Ai Weiwei to build 100 fences in NYC to shed light on immigration issues

March 28, 2017 by  
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As debates over immigration policy and the refugee crisis continue to rage across the United States, Ai Weiwei , the Beijing-born provocateur, has revealed his plans to raise more than 100 wire security fences across New York City. On view from October 12 through February 11, “Good Fences Make Good Neighbors”  will be a commentary on the barriers, both psychic and physical, that divide us as a people. The multi-site installation, which is expected to span locations in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens, will be one of Ai’s largest public art projects to date. Indeed it’s the most ambitious to be commissioned by the Public Art Fund , which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. “Ai Weiwei transforms an ordinary architectural element into a series of striking installations,” said Nicholas Baume, director and chief curator of the Public Art Fund. “’Good Fences Make Good Neighbors’ invites us to consider the role of the fence in a modern society as well as our own relationship to the object in question: Does this fence serve a purpose? Does it feel imposed or like it belongs? What does it separate me from? What side of the fence am I on? Does it protect me, or do I feel constrained?” Ai’s exhibition takes its name from “Mending Wall,” a poem by Robert Frost about a stone wall that separates the narrator’s property from his neighbor’s. The pieces will appear to grow out of the urban landscape in unexpected contexts, Baume said, including on rooftops, the spaces between buildings, and on bus shelters. Related: Wool art installation repurposed into blankets for Syrian refugees For Ai, who lived in New York for a time, the political is personal. “I was an immigrant in New York in the 1980s for 10 years and the issue with the migration crisis has been a longtime focus of my practice,” Ai said. “The fence has always been a tool in the vocabulary of political landscaping and evokes associations with words like ‘border,’ ‘security,’ and ‘neighbor,’ which are connected to the current global political environment. But what’s important to remember is that while barriers have been used to divide us, as humans we are all the same. Some are more privileged than others, but with that privilege comes a responsibility to do more.” + Ai Weiwei + Public Art Fund Via the New York Times

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Ai Weiwei to build 100 fences in NYC to shed light on immigration issues

Tesla to start taking solar roof orders in April

March 28, 2017 by  
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Tesla CEO Elon Musk is continuing in his quest to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy by announcing via Twitter on Friday that the electric carmaker and clean energy storage company will start taking orders for its solar roof shingles in April. The solar roof shingle product will be offered by Tesla’s SolarCity division. Tesla aquired the solar panel maker last November. Musk’s vision of a Tesla-powered home includes the solar roof turning sunlight into renewable electricity used for immediate use or storage in a Powerwall battery used to charge a Tesla electric vehicle in the garage and provide residential power when the sun sets. The solar tiles integrated into the roof include three layers — the color louver film in the middle that makes the solar tiles invisible from the street level but fully able to take advantage of the sun from above; the tempered glass on top that is durable and impact resistant; and of course on the bottom layer the high efficiency solar cell . The glass comes in four tile styles — tuscan glass, slate glass, textured glass and smooth glass. Related: Elon Musk says Tesla’s solar roof will be cheaper than ordinary roofs “The base of the proposition would be, would you like a roof that looks better than the normal roof, lasts twice as long, costs less, and by the way, generates electricity?” Musk told investors in November. “It’s like why would you get anything else? Maybe there’s a reason. I’m not sure why.” According to an estimate in Consumer Reports , an installed textured glass tile solar roof should cost around $73,500. However, Consumer Reports added $2,000 a year to the value of the roof from the free electricity generated with solar. Over the 30-year solar roof lifespan, that is a $60,000 value, significantly offsetting the upfront costs. + Tesla Solar Via Greentech Media Images via Tesla

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Tesla to start taking solar roof orders in April

How Americans Are Embracing the Power of Their Homes

February 28, 2017 by  
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Just a few years ago, living off the grid conjured up images of tiny cabins in the middle of nowhere. Today, the dream of average American homeowners powering their homes with alternative energies is coming true. Solar panels on your neighbor’s…

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How Americans Are Embracing the Power of Their Homes

Deconstructing Construction Waste

August 22, 2016 by  
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When I approached my neighbor’s construction site, Edward Small of Sheridan Brick & Stone Work was chiseling off construction waste — mortar from old bricks to be exact. He suspects they were salvaged from a nearby Maine paper mill, and…

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