August 3rd marked the one year anniversary of The Thoughtful Consumer blog. Thank you so much, readers, for supporting my efforts to help us all become more aware of our buying habits and their significant effects on our personal lives and our besieged planet.
If you scroll down the home page of my blog, in the column on the right side you'll find links to several blogs and websites that I think are helpful to consult when you're dealing with problems of clutter and disorganization. You'll also find a list of some worthy charitable organizations which I suggest may be better places to spend your money rather than buying more stuff that you don't need. But, over the years, I've also had the opportunity to discover many other interesting, insightful blogs and websites. To celebrate this one year anniversary, I'd like to share just a few of them with you.
You won't find information about getting rid of clutter and getting organized on these blogs and sites; instead they are sources of inspiration and awareness about everything from living "green" to the much larger issue of realizing the interconnectedness of all existence. Let's start simply with a blog that offers suggestions we can apply to our daily lives.
The appropriately entitled Simply Green is a blog written by author and "environmental lifestyle expert" Danny Seo. Even if we're cutting back our consumption of goods, there are many things that we still need to purchase regularly or occasionally, from food to cleaning supplies to furnishings. Danny's blog offers green alternatives and suggestions for re-using items we already own. He also has a wonderful sense of style. You may have seen Danny on his many television appearances or read his numerous magazine articles and columns. Danny's thirty years old (born on Earth Day, according to his bio) and I think of him as the child prodigy of the green living movement. I remember seeing him interviewed when he was only twelve, the year he founded Earth 2000, a grassroots charity organization for young environmental activists. Six years later, the group was involved in worldwide efforts to promote environmental awareness. If you search for him by name on Google, you'll find a wealth of information and interviews.
No Impact Man is author Colin Beavan's blog about his adventures as a "guilty liberal who finally snaps" and attempts to reduce to zero the net environmental impact he and his family have on the planet. It's a gradually unfolding, year-long experiment that would be a challenge for anyone, but Beavan, wife, child and dog live in an apartment in the heart of New York City. Suddenly, relying on locally-grown food takes on new meaning. Giving up air conditioning, using a bicycle for transportation, and swearing off plastic are just a sample of the issues they confront. The project began in February of this year, so they're well into it. Reading the comments on the various posts is often as entertaining and informative as the posts themselves.
Donating to a charity is a rewarding way to part with our unnecessary possessions or some extra cash, but which charity to choose may be a concern. Charity Navigator can help. Here's a description of their services: "Founded in 2001, Charity Navigator has become the nation's largest and most-utilized evaluator of charities. In our quest to help donors, our team of professional analysts has examined tens of thousands of non-profit financial documents. As a result, we know as much about the true fiscal operations of charities as anyone. We've used this knowledge to develop an unbiased, objective, numbers-based rating system to assess the financial health of over 5,000 of America's best-known charities." They are a non-profit organization and don't charge for their data. You can investigate a charity you already know and discover new charities if you search their database by category, such as education, the environment, or the arts.
WiserEarth describes itself as "a community-editable international directory and networking forum that maps, links and empowers the largest movement in the world – the hundreds of thousands of organizations within civil society that address social justice, poverty, and the environment. . . .WiserEarth provides the tools and a platform for non-profit organizations, funders, social entrepreneurs, students, organizers, academics, activists, scientists, and citizens to connect, collaborate, share resources and build alliances." This wiki for the socially conscious helps organizations and individuals work together and avoid duplication of efforts. It's an ambitious project and, if it becomes well-established, could be a formidable base for organizing a diverse collective of activists.
One of the best ways to learn what others really think of you is to find out what they have to say when you're not around. That's a bit tricky for individuals to do, but it's easy for countries: simply read the newspapers from other countries to get their perspective on who you are and what you represent. Americans, on the whole, have been regrettably uninformed about our place in the global community, but the internet offers us a great opportunity to read the news and opinions from other parts of the world. Watching America provides translations of thousands of articles from hundreds of foreign newspapers. The group has no political agenda and the articles focus exclusively on news and opinion concerning the U.S. NewsTran offers automatic translations of entire newspapers and magazines. It's a bit ponderous and far from flawless in its translations, but it is fascinating.
Finally, to get a powerful dose of perspective, check out the Hubble Heritage Project where you'll find the most stunningly beautiful photographs imaginable of outer space. If the majesty and grandeur of the universe doesn't simply take your breath away, surely it will make you pause for a moment to reflect on what is truly important in life. Trust me. It isn't "stuff."
(c) 2007 Cynthia Friedlob