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Category: Living Green

Ways to Go Green in Your Bedroom

Ways to Go Green in Your BedroomAs we continue our expedition to “going green” in our houses this year, today’s journey takes us into a room that you typically spend between 6 and 8 hours a day in, although you’re generally not awake for most of it. But fear not, you can even go green while you’re counting sheep.

In fact, getting a good night’s sleep is one way you can get more refreshed, energized and healthier, so maybe it’s best we spend a little more time… in your bedroom.

Don’t Sleep On It!

Speaking of getting a good night’s sleep, one great move to more green in your bedroom is to start with that bed you’re sleeping on. Mattresses typically last between 5 and 7 years, so chances are you’re due for a new one anyways, so why not invest in something that’s both more sustainable and comfortable?

Look for mattresses that are environmentally friendly and made with natural latex, bamboo and organic cotton without some of the harsher flame-retardant chemicals. If they’re made in America, that’s even better, because the carbon footprint is reduced by not having to incur long distance transport emissions.

And don’t forget to recycle your old mattress. As long as it’s in good condition and doesn’t have any tears, holes, structural damage or stains, there are several non-profits, like the Salvation Army that will sanitize or completely recondition an old mattress for resale. Otherwise, they’ll end up taking up a huge amount of space in a landfill, waiting decades to fully decompose.

If you want to go all the way and replace your whole bed, look for wooden frames certified to come from sustainably managed forests. Plain wood or a non-toxic varnish is all you need. Just avoid paints and polishes that release chemicals into the atmosphere. Another fun alternative is to look for stylish secondhand furniture. The right piece can make you feel like your sleeping in a mansion without the cost or the further damage to the environment.

On top of the bed, grab an eco-friendly memory foam mattress topper, or boxsprings topped with natural wool. The wool wicks away moisture from the bed and air, giving you a better, deeper night of sleep and can sustain a lot longer.

Invest in organic cotton sheets and pillows. They are often even softer than the synthetic blends and less likely to melt if a fire happens. If your budget is a little tight, start with transitional cotton that hasn’t yet been fully organically certified, but still adheres to the organic growing practices.

And as we’ve suggested before, consider investing in a buckwheat pillow. Not only does the pillow not collapse under the weight of your head and neck, helping promote a more comfortable sleep, the buckwheat hulls also don’t hold onto heat – so both sides are the cool side!

Time to Come Out of the Closet!

Did you know that almost 40,000 gallons of water are spent each year just to replenish the clothing supply for one family in the United States? Yet how many of the items in our closets sit there for weeks, months, years, even decades without being worn. A lot of us hold onto things, just in case they come back into fashion.

Here’s the secret… It only comes back into fashion after you’ve finally given it away! So why not speed up the process, help a non-profit provide jobs and resources to people who are less fortunate and get a little more breathing room in that closet.

Pick out the several key items that are your typical go-to’s, along with a few specialty outfits. Let’s face it, you’re never going to wear that 90’s vintage bridesmaid dress you hated to wear in the first place. However, your Christmas party cocktail dress, or a classic tux – with or without top hat and tails – is something that you’ll likely use year after year, or at least every other.

Anything that isn’t key, start clearing out and donating. Keep enough that you don’t need to buy a bunch more to replace it. Of course, there are a few items you’ll always be buying new pairs of – like underwear and jeans that are not meant to last forever. But that blouse that is slightly different from the one you loved 2 years ago you never got around to wearing? You don’t need to buy it.

And hey, if bell bottoms do come back, you can always head down to the Goodwill and buy them back, for a fraction of the cost.

Catch Your Breath!

Instead of running the air conditioner all year long, consider opening the windows on cooler nights (yes, we have some in Florida!). Let the system rest and it will thank you by performing efficiently for longer.

Invest in an air purifier. You might have noticed, even with the AC on all the time, we accumulate a LOT of dust in our homes. Give your allergies some relief and clear the air of any toxic fumes that might have drifted in when the kids left the door hanging open.

Most of us here on the Gulf coast have plenty of humidity in the air, but if you find yourself having trouble breathing late at night, you might want to pick up a bedroom humidifier to moisten the air you sleep in.

Clean Up Your Act!

Whether you prefer wood floors or deep shag carpeting, there are safer, all-natural polishes and shampoos that will keep the floors looking bright and new without bringing more harmful toxins into your home.

If you get your clothes dry-cleaned, look for establishments that subscribe to all natural and/or organic dry cleaning practices. Save and return the hangers, or offer to provide your own, if they’ll let you. Instead of going through several of the single use plastic bags, invest in a reusable dry cleaning bag. A really nice one will work as a hamper for dirty clothes, make carrying and drop off at the cleaners easier, and of course, nicely carries the freshly pressed clothes home.

Like in the bathroom and the kitchen, there are plenty of organic, all-natural cleaning options for the bedroom that can do the job. Often the organic products smell, look and work better than their more traditional counterparts.

That’s something we’ve proved at Good News Pest Solutions for decades, with our 100% all-natural approach to insect and other pest control. And we’ve got customers all up and down the Gulf coast of Florida, from Bradenton to Port Charlotte that will attest to it. if you’re looking to keep your pest control as green as the rest of your house, give us a call!

The Ultimate Spring Cleaning Checklist

The Ultimate Spring Cleaning ChecklistMany of us can probably recall that around this time of year, our parents would organize a whole day of “Spring Cleaning,” often culminating in a garage sale the following weekend. Sometimes, you’d even see several families on the same street or block, timing their cleaning and garage sales to take advantage of the momentum.

But for us, it seems like every year our lives get busier and it’s harder and harder to find time to take care of the little things. Of course, that often leads to a lot of things building up. And if you didn’t have time to take care of the small things before, where are you going to find the time to take care of the bulked up To-Do List, never mind Spring Cleaning?!

Good news! We have a solution for you.

A detailed plan that will get your home deep cleaned and ready for the rest of the year – in just EIGHT HOURS! And it works if you’re doing it solo or have everyone in the family help out!

Are you ready? Grab some all-purpose, paint-safe cleaner, some microfiber cloths (save the rags for the garage) and the vacuum cleaner. We’re starting in…

The Bathroom! 9-10am

  • Hook the brush attachment to the vacuum cleaner and run it all over the walls. Then wipe them down with the all-purpose cleaner. Now grab any throw rugs and the floor mat, and toss them in the washing machine.
  • Wash down the inside of the windows and all the mirrors.
  • Spray and Soak – you can use the all-purpose cleaner for this if you’re in a bind, but if you can get a good strong spray-on cleaning agent, preferably with some bleach, spray down the shower, the sink and the toilet. Let everything sit for 15-20 minutes while you grab some coffee and get the rugs, etc., into the dryer or hung out.
  • Now rinse everything from the top down. Start with the showerhead and do the whole shower and tub. Then wipe down the toilet, again, top to bottom – tank, rim, bowl & base. Set those cloths aside – you won’t be using them again until you’ve thoroughly laundered them in hot water and bleach. Spray some cleaner on the floor. Let it soak, then mop it up on your way out.

Of course, if you have multiple bathrooms, just have your spouse and kids do the other ones – and double check their work before you move on to…

The Bedrooms! 10am-12:30pm

  • We’re going to need the vacuum with the brush attachment again. Vacuum and wipe down all the walls, like you did in the bedroom (stagger the start of each bedroom by about 5 minutes, depending on their size). Take special care to clean switch plates, the outside edges of doors, and any type of edging or crown molding that holds onto dust.
  • Open all the windows (unless it’s raining), open the curtains wide, and pull the linens off the bed – sheets, pillowcases, quilts, duvet covers, mattress pads, dust ruffles, shams – the whole kit and caboodle.
  • Let the room breathe for 30-45 minutes while you take the linens to the washing machine. If you need to, wait for the linens from all the rooms, because you’ll want to wash everything in the order it goes back on the bed. It’s okay if it takes a few loads. And, of course, if you like to go old school and hang stuff out instead of running it in the dryer, you’ll shift the time accordingly so you’re making the beds after the living room and before the take-out or delivery arrives.
  • Window treatments can be vacuumed (upholstery attachment), dry-cleaned or given a quick fluff in the dryer. No need to wash everything, but you’ll want to clear off any accumulated dust.
  • Wash any mirrors and the inside of the windows.
  • Finally, shampoo – or better steam – clean the carpets and large area rugs. If you have the space and extra funds, invest in a prosumer steam cleaner, or just rent one from Publix or WalMart.

And now it’s time to head to…

The Kitchen! 12:30-2pm

  • First things first. Grab your cooler and empty out everything from the refrigerator and freezer. Unplug it and let everything warm up to room temperature – you don’t want to put hot washcloths on a cold glass shelf and have it crack or shatter. Move on to the stove and you’ll come back to the fridge.
  • Remove all stove grates and trays – anything that’s removable. Scrub them clean with soapy steel wool pads – you can add some ammonium to get the really stuck on stuff off.
  • Spray down the stovetop and let it soak while you get down and inside the oven, wiping down all of the excess food crumbs and blackened bits. Grab a microwave safe bowl and put in a couple cups of water and some lemon juice and run it for 2-½ or 3 minutes. Wipe down the stove top, making sure you get in the cracks. Then run a clean cloth in the inside of the microwave. The steamy lemon water should have softened up anything stuck on. Avoid using more traditional cleaners in the microwave, as they can damage the radiation protection.
  • Now back to the fridge – mix 2 tablespoons of baking soda in a quart of hot water and use it to wipe everything down. Rinse with clean water and dry. Use a little dish soap and water to wipe the door seals making sure to clear the cracks of any debris. Don’t forget to wipe down the doors and sides too. And don’t dump that out quite yet! Let the seals thoroughly dry so they adhere. Plug the fridge back in and remember to put the food back in after you finish the living rooms.
  • Clean window treatments and wash the insides of windows.
  • The water and dish liquid from the fridge will work great on the surface and tops of counters, cabinets and any other surface that may have captured some stray grease or grime. Wipe out shelves and drawers – especially the utensil drawers. Spray some anti-bacterial cleaner inside the under-sink cabinets, especially if you use one of them for the trash can.
  • Sweep, vacuum and mop floors.

And finally,

The Family Room/Rec Room/Great Room 2-5pm

  • Shut off your ceiling fans and dust them. Please. So much dust accumulates that we never see up there. If you haven’t already, switch the fans from circulating the air up to blowing cool air down (usually switching from up to down on the side) to save money on your AC bill. You can also coordinate the switch with the beginning and end of Daylight Savings Time.
  • Vacuum and wipe the walls and ceilings.
  • Rent an upholstery cleaning machine from your local hardware store and deep clean the couch and chairs – at the very least use the vacuum attachment to suck them clean. If you have leather furniture, vacuum out the crumbs and inside liner, then wipe down with the furniture store’s recommended leather cleaner (they either gave you samples or a sheet with the details).
  • Wipe your lightbulbs – dust accumulates everywhere in Florida and dirty bulbs gives less light. Also consider replacing your bulbs with longer lasting LED bulbs.
  • Clean window treatments and wash the insides of windows.
  • Use compressed air to spray out all the crevices and cracks where dust and hair settle on your electronics. Then wipe them top to bottom with microfiber cloths. Don’t forget to wipe underneath the TV, speakers, sound system, DVD/DVR/Streaming boxes, and in between stereo components, if you’re old school. Be sure to wipe from back towards you so the dirt and dust come out.
  • If you have a fireplace – yes, some of us do in Florida – sweep it out and stow unused logs and kindling.
  • Vacuum and/or steam clean the carpets.
  • Now, either order pizza for dinner or send your spouse to grab takeout. Put the food back in the fridge, double checking use by dates, then relax on the clean couch and catch up on your favorite Netflix show. You’ve earned it! Whew! 😌

If you’d like a handy printable checklist to go through, you can download one from Oprah here!

And One More Thing…

Now that you’ve gotten everything clean, spring is a great time to start our exclusive Go Green Plus 3 system that keeps your whole house free of pesky insects and is safe for the whole family. If you’d like your home to feel as fresh and critter free as our clients in Lakewood Ranch and North Port, just give us a call!

Ways to Go Green in Your Bathroom

Ways to Go Green in Your bathroomThe next stop on our eco-friendly tour of the house may seem surprising! However, as a whole, the average family spends somewhere between  a third and half of their time at home in this particular living space.

So we thought it would be a really good idea to look at where you can go green… In the Bathroom!

Drop by Drop…

Studies show that if every American used one gallon of water less per day, we would save more than 100 billion gallons per year. That’s more water than most third world countries use in FIVE years.

We know leaky faucets can drive up the water bill, not to mention the incessant drip, drip, drip. But it may surprise you to know that 17 GALLONS of water are wasted every day in the United States due to improper fixtures, old plumbing, and loose toilets. Double check all of the connections, washers, etc. on your sinks, and you’ll be saving the planet and a few dollars.

As of 1995, all toilets sold in the US must use 1.6 gallons of water or less per flush. If your home and bathroom are older than that, consider upgrading on your own dime. It will reduce a ton of water waste (older toilets use between 4 and 6 gallons per flush), and isn’t that expensive, plus it will reduce your water bill.  Or spring for a little higher priced toilet with a dual flush mechanism, which uses less water for liquid waste deposits.

A low-flow showerhead is a great investment as well. According to the EPA, a properly installed low-flow showerhead can reduce water use by 20-30% without sacrificing the water pressure. Of course, you can also take shorter showers. And if you are willing to spend a little more to keep the planet clean, you can have a grey-water-diverter installed. It takes the used water from your bathtub or shower drain and saves it for gardening and lawn use.

And while we in Florida don’t generally lack for heated water, making sure your water heater thermostat is set to 120 degrees and is properly insulated will cut down some of your energy use for your morning shower.

How About an Extreme Makeover?

If you really want to go all out, or you’d been planning to remodel your bathroom anyways, take it to the next level. Definitely invest in the water saving gadgets we mentioned earlier, but don’t stop there. Look for flooring, countertops, even porcelain made from recycled materials. There are plenty of options these days. There’s no reason you have to sacrifice beauty to make a little planet-saving effort in your bathroom decor.

How Exhaust-ed is your Fan? Another pricey-er upgrade to consider is replacing the old exhaust fan in your bathroom. They’re there to help reduce moisture and humidity in the bathroom, especially after a hot shower, but we all know they don’t always work as we’d like, especially in Florida. There have been a lot of upgrades recently to the technology and if you can invest in a fan that really does the job, you’ll reduce the chance of mold and mildew, while making your air conditioning work less, saving energy and money.

Go Au Natural

Just like in the kitchen, there are plenty of cleaning chemicals in and around your bathroom that can be potentially dangerous. You don’t have to discard them right away, but slowly phase them out and replace them with all natural, organic substitutions. People tend to think these alternative cleaners are more expensive, but that’s not always the case. For example, the next time you have a clogged drain, instead of spending $7-10 on the industrial strength drain cleaner, just grab a box of baking soda, 3 cups of boiling water and a cup of vinegar. Your pipes will be flowing freely in no time.

Consider swapping out your linens with organic cotton. Organic cotton towels are just as soft and they require less energy and pesticides to produce than standard cotton. You can reduce the PVC in your home also by replacing your vinyl shower curtain with a heavy cotton duck curtain.

Going the all-natural route also works for your skin care regimen. Look for facial washes, hydrating creams and makeup that are 100% natural and organic. There are plenty of options out there, including vegan approaches. If you really want to go all-in, you can even buy candles, soaps, shampoos, deodorant and toothpaste that are more natural and safer for the planet too. You get peace of mind, and you may find they’re even more effective than the alternatives you were used to.

We discovered the same thing about pest control. For nearly 30 years, your neighbors from Bradenton to Punta Gorda have witnessed the high quality and effectiveness of our 100% organic, all-natural pest solutions. And like so many of the other tips, we’ve shared, they also save you money in the long run. Just give us a call to find out for yourself!

Click here for more tips on Going Green around your home!

Ways to Go Green In Your Kitchen

Ways to Go Green in Your KitchenMost of us agree that keeping our planet and ourselves healthy should be a priority. However, we know that to get started “Going Green” takes some dedication and a bit of an upfront investment. But it’s well worth it! And you don’t have to start all at once…

Our goal is to see as many people as possible taking the steps to make 2018 their greenest year yet. God gave us stewardship of this planet and we take that very seriously. So we’ve committed to help – for the next year, we’re going to sprinkle in a few tips every month to help you gradually transform your home (and your life!) into an energy efficient, eco-friendly castle.

And we’re starting… In the Kitchen.

The Refrigerator

The only appliance that works harder in Florida than your AC Unit is your refrigerator. Despite the origins of the name – RE-Fridge-rator, it’s meant to keep food cool pretty much all the time. Anything you can do to help it, is going to save energy use and your electric bill. So:

  • Keep it full – a fuller fridge means less air to continuously keep cool. And less of that air escapes when you open the door. Which reminds us…
  • Know what you want before you open the door. It’s not just your teenagers that stand there staring into the void. And that frigid gaze is costing you $30-75 per year.
  • Use the recommended factory settings, or slightly below. The companies do a lot of testing to determine energy efficiency. But there’s always a little wiggle room, and the lower the setting, the less the compressor will run, especially if you’re keeping it well-stocked.
  • Defrost food inside. This is actually healthier and safer than leaving it in the sink or on the counter, and it transfers the energy loss (cold to warm) and the moisture to the refrigerator, meaning it works a little bit less.
  • Make sure the seals work – loose seals can cost you countless dollars in higher power bills as the cool air seeps out. To test your seals, close the door on a dollar bill. If you can pull it out easily, or if it just slides out on its own, you’ve got a problem.
  • Give it room to breathe. Leaving space between the wall and the coils on the back means they generate less heat and can expend it easier, reducing your energy costs, and the increased airflow lets them operate easier.
  • As an added bonus, consider unplugging the automatic ice maker, water dispenser and cool electronic gadgets on the front. While these are all intended to reduce energy use and add convenience, they also add heat to the system that the fridge must compensate for. But we understand if you don’t want to go that far.

Shopping Green

Getting back to keeping that fridge full. A lot of us have already invested in washable, reusable bags to take grocery shopping. When we remember them, that is. But that’s just the beginning. Here are a few other shopping tips to help maximize the sustainability of your kitchen.

  • Plan ahead. Keeping your kitchen well-stocked means less trips to the grocery store, and less gas & time wasted. Do menus for each week so you know what you’ll need to buy and how much, so you only head to the store once, and keep that fridge full. And if you do come up short on an item, consider if it’s really needed, and if a substitution can be made from what you have on hand.
  • Buy products with less packaging – less packaging means less trash. Not only can you save trips out to the cans outside, you’ll be reducing the build-up in landfills. Experts say we generate about 4.6 pounds of trash per person each day, amounting to 230-Million TONS of trash each year, just in the United States. And only 25-30% of that is recycled.
  • Recycle everything you can. First, know what’s recyclable. Then know where you can take it. Most counties and communities on the Gulf Coast of Florida issue each household a recycling bin. Some are already transitioning to the large garbage can sized ones they use in other states. Use them, and fill them with paper, plastic, aluminum, glass, cardboard & milk jugs. Even soiled items. The more we recycle, the better it is for all of us.
  • Eat less red meat, less often. Yeah, this isn’t our favorite either, and trust us, we aren’t trying to convince you to go vegan. But consider this – cattle take up a lot of space, then generate both methane and nitrous oxide, contributing 18% of our greenhouse emissions – more than car exhaust. So maybe just cut back a little.

More Quick Tips

Dishwasher vs Dish Washers – running the electric dishwasher uses 37% less water than hand washing. But only if the dishwasher is full. If you only use a few dishes per day, fill up one sink with soapy water, one with clear, turn the faucet off and save the electricity. This also works great to help train your kids to be more responsible. If you don’t mind a few water spots, you can also turn off the heat dry option, or just wipe the dishes dry yourself as soon as the cycle finishes.

Which Oven When – if you’re a small family, or only preparing a small meal, instead of kicking on the big, heat-generating oven, you can use a toaster oven, slow cooker, convection oven, or, yes, the microwave. When you’re cooking on the stovetop, use the smallest size pan you can – and put it on the smallest burner it fits. Also, when baking, you really don’t need to preheat anymore. Just turn the oven on when you’re ready to start – it’ll add maybe 3-5 minutes to the baking time, but save hundreds in electric, gas and AC bills.

Put a Lid on it! Cooking without lids can use up to three times as much energy as covering the pan. If you find yourself short on lids, look for one-size fits all options that are ribbed to fit various sized pots and pans.

Go Chemical Free – you don’t have to throw everything away at once and start over, but as you run out of cleaning products, replace them with organic, natural alternatives for harsh chemicals. You’ll feel better and will often find they’re more effective than what you’re used to. It’s the same for pest control. We’ve shown your neighbors from Lakewood Ranch to North Port that 100% organic, all-natural pest solutions are more effective and more affordable in the long run. If you’d like to find out for yourselves, give us a call!

So it’s really not that difficult to go green, if you take it one step at a time. Next up in our series – Going Green in the Bathroom comes in a couple of weeks!

Random Acts of Kindness Day-Part 2!

February 17th-Random Acts of Kindness DayLast week, we started this post with the many ways you can make a difference in this world. Now here’s the rest…

Do Your Part to Save the Planet

  • Buy and bring reusable shopping bags when shopping. They can hold more, last longer and don’t add to our landfills.
  • Bottle your own water – stop buying a new case from the store every couple weeks, and invest in a BPA-free reusable bottle. If you really need filtration, get a charcoal filter Brita pitcher and keep it full in the fridge.
  • Turn off the light when you leave the room. It’ll save the planet and your electric bill.
  • Walk or ride your bike if you can. Short trips can be good exercise, you get to see more of the world around you, and you’ll feel better physically and spiritually.

Donate Money – It Doesn’t Even Have to Come out of Your Pocket

  • Donate a small sum of money to a charity you love. Size doesn’t matter – every penny counts for most charities, especially at other times of the year than December when most people give.
  • Give a foster child a memory. Often Foster Parents are overextended just to give lost kids a safe home. One Simple Wish has an online directory of requests that case workers submit for their foster youth – money to go to prom, take dance lessons, cheerleading or sports uniforms, or books for higher education classes.
  • Kiva lets you loan money to third world entrepreneurs. The micro-loans may seem small to you, but they make a huge difference for those family businesses and 99% of the loans are paid back.
  • DonorsChoose.org let’s you support schools and teachers in your community so students can get the tools, supplies and experiences they need for a great education. You can designate the benefits for a school district in general, or for a specific school, all across the country.
  • Box Tops for Education gives money to schools who collect the little tabs on certain grocery items.
  • Save your soda can tabs for The Ronald McDonald House  who gets money from the aluminum companies.

Donate While You Shop

  • Many grocery stores and Target offer their customers the chance to give back by designating that a non-profit receives a small percentage of the customers purchase price. It doesn’t even come out of your pocket, but can make a huge difference.
  • Amazon Smile is a similar program through Amazon.com.
  • Other online retailers like Best Buy, Expedia and more offer giving options through iGive. Again, none of this comes out of your own pocket.
  • Consider using Goodsearch instead of Google or Bing. A portion of the advertising revenues it gets are funneled into designated charities.

Pay it Forward – Or Behind!

  • The next time you’re in the drive-thru line at Starbucks or Burger King, pay for the next person’s meal or beverage. You can do it in store too, but sometimes there’s an added feeling of excitement knowing that the person will be surprised.
  • Invite someone to dinner – especially at the holidays when it is difficult for some people to be alone.

Donate Your Things

  • Instead of holding on to a lot of extra stuff in case you need it for a rainy day, or in case it comes back into style, why not hand me down your still useable things to the Salvation Army, Goodwill or Kiwanis. Someone who really needs it can use your stuff, you get a tax deduction and the charity continues to fund their other work.
  • Give Back Box will send you prepaid shipping labels so you can donate clothes, household items, games and electronics, and they ship the items to Goodwill at no charge.
  • Gently used medical goods are needed too. For eyeglasses, look up your local Lion’s Club, and for orthopedics, check out the Elks.
  • If you’re home during the day, pop out and offer your mail carrier and garbage men a Gatorade or bottled water. This also a nice gesture for crossing guards, school bus drivers, and security guards if you live near a school.
  • Even today, we’re not on the computer all day. Sign up with BOINC, a revolutionary project from the University of California & the National Science Foundation. You can share your computer’s processing power when you’re not using it to work on complex equations that are calculating study results for research on various diseases and other high-level research projects.
  • If you have odd jobs around the house, you can post them on Hire Patriots and give some much needed extra income to Vets in your area who are struggling to make ends meet.

Donate Yourself

Your most valuable asset is your time – and oftentimes, a small portion of it offered to others makes a huge impact.

  • Have a neighbor with a new family member, or caring for a sick relative? Offer to pick up a few things for them the next time you’re heading to the store anyways. If they offer to pay, fine. If not, it’s one more thing to help them out.
  • Sign up with Be The Match to be a part of the bone marrow registry. It only takes a mailed in cheek swab to connect, and you could be saving a life.
  • Don’t forget the troops’ families – too often the people left behind when a soldier is deployed feel isolated and desperate. And many times they’re single parenting while their loved one is defending our freedom. Thanking them is a start, but you can also offer to babysit, help out around the house, even give them a ride to the store, or to drop off and pick up a vehicle when it needs repairs.
  • You can do the same for the men and women whose service is ended. Many veterans don’t have transportation to and from their medical appointments at VA Hospitals. You can volunteer as a van driver for Disabled American Veterans.
  • When a friend’s family member dies, create a one of a kind memory book. Get friends and family members to provide stories, anecdotes and photos of the deceased. You don’t even have to be Creative Memories certified – just put everything in one bound volume your friend can cherish forever.
  • If you can’t make an entire book, even just sharing your fond memories is appreciated. Take a moment to celebrate their life and the difference they made.
  • Instead of throwing out the flowers after a wedding, consider donating them to a nursing home or hospice care. But don’t just drop them off, personally bring a flower or two to each resident. Sit with them, hear their stories. You’ll probably get more out of it than the joy you bring them.

Be a Listening Ear

  • If we know someone is going through a divorce, death or sickness, sometimes we opt to give them space. Occasionally, that’s what they need. More often, though, your attempt to be sensitive leaves them feeling even more isolated and alone. No one will get upset at you for asking if they want to talk, and if that is what they want, they’ll be relieved to be able to share their pain.
  • Don’t interrupt and don’t offer solutions. This is something men especially struggle with. More often than not, the person just wants to either vent or talk out the situation to figure it out in their own minds. Don’t fix it for them. We underestimate how important and comforting it is to be listened to.
  • Give someone the benefit of the doubt.
  • Check in with someone. Especially older extended family or friends. While they don’t want to be seen as invalids, they almost always welcome company and are happy to sit and catch up.

Instead of Criticism, Give Praise

  • We hear NO far more often than we hear YES. Even from well-meaning folks trying to protect us.
  • Make the decision to encourage people to follow their passions and dreams and to fulfil their goals. Even if we think they’re unrealistic.
  • By the way, it’s okay to say yes to yourself too. Don’t be afraid to fail. You’ll be surprised at what you can accomplish and inspire others to try! When was the last time you saw a movie about someone who took NO for an answer?
  • By the same token, instead of always being critical of people, look for opportunities to be positive, praise and encourage them.
  • Especially your kids. Instead of always pointing out what they get wrong or when they misbehave, strive to recognize them for success and for acting appropriately. You’ll be impressed by the difference it makes.
  • A lot of radio stations and morning news programs welcome people calling in to share good news that happened to them the past week. Call in and share your good news – someone probably needs to hear it.

When You See Something, Say Something

  • When you see something good, share it.
  • Post on Facebook and Twitter. Take social media away from the arguers and angry trolls and fill it with the positive stories about the world you see. Thank people publicly, share someone else’s good news, make positive comments on their posts.
  • Don’t limit it to social media – leave positive post-it notes for friends, family and coworkers when you catch them doing something good.
  • If you get great service at a restaurant, thank the server, tell the manager, and be sure to post a positive review. The same goes for retail stores and calling centers. You really want to make an impression? Ask for the corporate address and write a letter to the company, praising the person by name for delivering excellence.
  • Don’t forget to do the same at your own workplace. If there’s an employee of the month award, try to find someone to nominate each month for it.

Now It’s Your Turn

It’s time to get out there and be the change you want to see in the world – one act at a time you can be the light that brightens another person’s gloom.

We don’t think one day is enough. But just like each of us doing one thing – it’s a start. And a start is all we need. It’s time to bring hope back into the world. What will you do today to make a difference in someone else’s life?

Leave a comment below about something you did, or share your creative ideas for doing one little thing to help another person.

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