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Soliciting donations of retired cell phones for charities is a fund-raising technique that’s been around as long as, well, cell phones. But did you know your old cell phone can be a lifeline for someone in Haiti? Donate your old phone through the Red Cross via their web site phonesforhaiti.com.

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Yes! “Reduce, reuse, recycle,” the mantra of the environmental movement, applies to our behavior toward companion animals as well.
Reduce: Spay or neuter your pet. Resist the urge to become a “backyard breeder,” even if your pet is a pure-bred dog. Millions (literally!) of healthy, adoptable animals are euthanized every year simply because homes cannot be found for them. If you don’t spay or neuter, you are contributing to the problem. Low-cost spay and neuter clinics are offered in most communities. In the High Desert, the Bend Spay & Neuter Project offers low-cost procedures for dogs and cats, including stray cats.
Reuse: Consider adopting a shelter animal or pet whose owner is selling or surrendering him. In this era of foreclosures, many families are desperate to find homes for pets they can no longer keep. In the High Desert, adoptable animals are offered by Bend Spay & Neuter Project, Humane Society of Central Oregon, Humane Society of Redmond, Humane Society of the Ochocos, Blissful Acres Rescue Reserve, and Equine Outreach, among others. If you have your heart set on a pure-bred, search the sites above, go to petfinder.com and specify the breed and your location, or contact the nearest rescue group for that breed (Google breed name rescue and your state). If, like me, you’re a golden retriever fancier, that would be Golden Bond Rescue of Oregon.
Recycle: Animals as well as things can be adapted to a new use. If you’re willing to invest some effort at socialization and training, feral animals can become good pets. (My adorable Lace was a feral cat we found in our pasture 18 months ago who now is healthy and glossy and living happily in a household with two dogs.) Wild horses culled from remote areas in the West are adoptable through the Bureau of Land Management. They can make fantastic mounts, but gentling a 1,000-pound wild animal is not for amateurs. If you aren’t an experienced trainer, contact a trainer who specializes in mustangs. In the High Desert region, I can recommend Kitty and Rick Lauman.

Ever since reading novelist Barbara Kingsolver’s “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle,” an account of her family’s effort to eat only what is produced in their county for an entire year, I have been thinking about whether I could become a localvore. Could I live without orange juice and grapefruits? Easily! I hate citrus. Give up bananas? Not so easy. Give up coffee? Definitely not.
But I know that I CAN make a little more effort to buy food produced locally whenever I can. I live in a rural area, so it’s easier for me than for many people. I have a great vegetable garden in the summer. If I had a greenhouse, I could have lettuce and other cool-season crops year round and probably even tomatoes for five months. There is a producer of hothouse tomatoes about 20 minutes up the highway. There are a few producers of all-natural beef and pork near me. One is only two miles away. I’m already buying my organic, free-range eggs from a woman nearby. There’s a dairy in my town. A winery less than 5 miles from my house.
It’s not as convenient as stopping at the supermarket on the way home, and I might drive a little more, but I would be supporting local growers. I’m starting to build my map, to see what I can source nearby.
Check it out. Make your own!

Interested in living sustainably? How you feed your family is an important part of it. Tonight the High Desert chapter of Slow Food is hosting a free screening of the film about the local food movement in the Northwest, “Ingredients.” View the trailer. Be there!

Living ‘green’ may be newly mainstream, but it is certainly not new. In fact, it’s ancient.
In the pre-industrial world, everyone lived green – because they had to.
Today green is a lifestyle choice – and a buzzword marketers are rushing to exploit, trying to cloak their products in a mantle of green that often is just window-dressing. Making truly green choices as consumers that are not only good for our families, but good for our descendants and the planet they will inhabit, is what this blog is about.

1)    Plant a deciduous tree to shade your house.
A tree planted on the west side of your house, to shield it from the intense sun of summer afternoons, will keep your house cooler and reduce air-conditioning costs. To further improve cooling, plant trees and shrubs that will shade air conditioners and asphalt driveways. Get a helpful primer.

2)    Keep two cloth reusable bags in each of your cars.
The fewer plastic or paper bags you use at the grocery store, the less energy will have to be spent recycling them. If you don’t have reusable bags on hand, most supermarkets sell them for about a dollar. Keep two in your car so you’ll always have them handy for shopping.

3)    Reduce waste.
Almost all municipalities or trash pickup services offer smaller containers – at lower monthly rates. The more you reduce your garbage, the more trash you are keeping out of landfills, and the more dollars you are keeping in your pocket when you switch to a smaller size container. Make sure you are recycling everything you can. Choose products with minimal packaging.

4)    Start composting.
By composting you not only reduce food scraps going into your garbage, you reduce the need for fertilizer in your garden or landscape by improving the soil. Dumping scraps into your compost bin is no more work than taking out the garbage, and you’ll be part of the solution rather than part of the problem. Remember: no meat, dairy or bones.

5)    Replace burned-out bulbs with LED and CFL lighting.
Although the bulbs are more expensive to buy, they last so much longer that in the long term you’ll save money as well as energy (right now you might find outdoor LED holiday lights on clearance, too). However, fluorescent bulbs contain mercury and can’t go in the trash. Take them to your local Home Depot, which will recycle them free.

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