Thursday, November 13, 2008

Happy Birthday

Tis the season for colds, and the germs that cause them.

Did you know that half of us don't wash our hands enough throughout the day (and after using the restroom - yuck!)? And and that two-thirds of the half of us that do wash our hands, don't wash them long enough to make a difference? Makes you not want to shake hands or touch doorknobs!!

Washing our hands is something we all seem to take for granted. But proper, effective hand washing takes only 30 seconds and it is the single best way to prevent the spread of the flu and the common cold. You will not only prevent the spread of your germs to other people, but prevent yourself from catching germs as well.

A way of measuring "how long is long enough" when washing your hands, is singing Happy Birthday. No, not out loud... keep those vocals to yourself. If you wash your hands long enough to sing happy birthday, than you are washing your hands long enough to properly kill all those nasty cold causing germs (assuming you are using soap and warm water...)!

So next time you are at the sink, think Happy Birthday!

New Study Shows California's Air Pollution Kills More People Than Auto Accidents

A new study from California State University-Fullerton dug into the potential dollar and health benefits from reducing California's air pollution levels to meet federal air quality standards. The results were, well, breathtaking.

A report from the Associated Press today indicated that the study found that the California Highway Patrol recorded 2,521 vehicular deaths in the San Joaquin Valley and South Coast Air Basin in 2006, compared to 3,812 deaths attributed to respiratory illness caused by particulate pollution. The study linked ozone and particulates to both respiratory ailments and heart disease, and identified health costs and productivity costs.

In short, while expensive and difficult to achieve, the goal of cleaning up California's air would pay big dividends in quality of life and dollars. This kind of analysis and dialogue is exactly what we need to begin looking at the true costs - and benefits - of actions which clean our environment. These investments have big, important payoffs that help the economy as well as other important quality of life indicators. For more on this story, go to the msnbc website at,

The Gift of Giving

With the holidays just around the corner, it is the perfect time to start thinking about how to be the most thoughtful without being the most wasteful. There is a plethora of ways - from small to big.

When you’re wrapping those pretty little presents, think about using your shredded paper as stuffing rather than new tissue paper. Not only will you save money, but you will be giving those gifts better protection and won’t be creating anymore waste - it was already going in the trash.. Choose wrapping paper that can be recycled instead of all those foils and tin lined papers. Yes, they are pretty, but they aren’t good for us and they cost an arm and a leg to begin with! Think about reusing ribbons and bows from previous years instead of always buying new present toppers and finishers. All those bows go to waste each year when they can be saved.

When it comes to the gift itself. Try finding new, used/recycled/repurposed gifts. I don’t mean looking in your closet for some junky item you got last year, or re-gifting the fruitcake your aunt gave you... For example: for the wine connoisseur, think about getting them a set of recycled windshield wine glasses, handmade from car windshields. They are great conversation pieces and it is a new use for something once discarded ( for other recycled wine glasses, check out For the the person who loves unique jewelry, think about giving them vintage “dead stock” jewelry (so they’ve never been worn). This will give them a unique style without adding to the waste of mass produced, cheaply made jewelry of today. For the loved one that needs a vacation (that you certainly can’t pay for), give them a day at a spa, or a massage instead of any of those do-it-yourself relaxation tools. You will keep someone employed and your gift can’t be thrown into a landfill.

You can find unique gift ideas at places like,,, and many more.

Being creative with your gift giving lends itself to being more thoughtful and less wasteful - it’s a win win!