Thursday, August 31, 2006

A refined sense of irony?

A few weeks ago, I called on my governor to endorse Junk Mail Awareness Week, a campaign by the Center for a New American Dream. She did it, for which I am proud and grateful. However, the way in which she decided to inform me boggles my mind: she sent me junk mail.

Today I received a 8 1/2" x 14" manila envelope with two pieces of cardboard set inside. Between the cardboard was a piece of paper with the official seal proclaiming Junk Mail Awareness Week. It even gives reasons on it as to why junk mail is bad for the environment.

One piece of paper, surrounded by three pieces of paper. Does that not give off the whiff of junk mail to you?

I'm impressed that the campaign worked and that my governor has signed on. However, I'm not impressed by her actions. I've searched her website to find any information that she has posted about this endorsement. There is none (perhaps someone more resourceful can find some). This shows me that she does not take this seriously and signed off on it without much thought.

My faith in government today? Well, you can guess.

An Alternative Form of Currency

Here's an old-but-new concept: instead of exchanging money for goods and services, how about exchanging hours of your time?

In Ithaca and many other parts of the country, this "new" form of currency is emerging as a unique way of keeping a community together. By using Ithaca Hours, you show that you support your local community, and that people's skills and services are as important to you as the money might be.

Ithaca is proving that alternative economies like this do work! For more information, check out their website or the Wikipedia article.

(thanks, BP.)

Monday, August 21, 2006

The wedding blues

Now that the summer is nearly over, I feel that I can safely bring to light my gripe about time-, money-, and "stuff"-consuming weddings.

Being in my mid-20's means that the streak of friends getting married is just starting. Don't get me wrong, I love the idea of weddings: friends and family getting together to witness and celebrate the love of two people. But the weight that the average wedding carries with it -- through engagement parties, wedding showers, bachelorette parties, rehearsal dinners, receptions and even post-wedding get-togethers -- is more than I can bear.

The wedding industry is a multi-billion dollar business, with magazines, stores, websites, and consultants dedicated to the special day.

This recent New York Times article
sums it up, with an astonishing figure: "A survey this year found that the average wedding costs $27,852, compared with $15,208 in 1990." I know many families and couples who have taken out loans, made payment plans for wedding dresses, and scraped by in their normal lives to throw an incredibly lavish party. It all adds up -- from the rental hall to the specially-dyed bridesmaid shoes to those candy-covered almonds that everyone leaves behind.

Not wanting to end the summer on such a sour note, there are plenty of ways to celebrate your love while saving money, being creative, and making your ceremony memorable for all! You can find these tips on the same websites that advertise destination weddings to Hawaii or Europe. Here's a great article in the most recent newsletter of the Center for a New American Dream.

Or, as another guest said to me at the last wedding I attended: "Eloping is very underrated!"

Friday, August 11, 2006

On Vacation... for real!

This New York Times article really brings home that Americans really aren't taking vacations anymore. More and more people are worried that if they do take their allotted vacation time, they are risking the security of their jobs. Those who do go on vacation aren't really out of the office -- they're hooked up by their cellphones, laptops, and Blackberrys... even at the beach!

I was very fortunate at my last job to have a boss who understood the importance of time off for his staff. (I'm now going back to school, which is another discussion altogether: how can I take time for myself without feeling guilty about not studying?) When I went on vacation, I was on vacation: I would turn off the computer and phone, and even sometimes would turn around the clocks where I was, so I wasn't constantly being dictated by time to tell me when I should eat or go to sleep!

I'm curious to hear what other people do to really be on vacation. Give us your ideas in the comments section!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Going Green - Washington Post Articles

The Sunday Source section of this week's Washington Post (8/6/06) is all about being green. It includes the following articles on making the world greener:

- Going, Going, Green: including a sustainable dance club with organic beer, rainwater collection for toilets, and powered by dancing!

- 5 Things to Do with this Newspaper: including fixing a flat bike tire (Of course they don't mention the option of reading the paper online instead of buying it in the first place, but I guess it's a start).

- The Look: Environmentally Friendly Clothing - bamboo shirts, anyone?

- Green Buildings

- Increasing Gas Mileage: article focuses on hybrids, but also includes "hypermilling" techniques that can be used for both hybrids and regular cars