Friday, February 25, 2011

We Are All Cheeseheads Now!

Ronald Reagan calls union membership "a basic right" ... so who are we to say public workers can't unionize?

AND The union that started the unravelling of the Soviet Empire supports Wisconsin public service workers in this letter:

"To Public Service Workers in the State of Wisconsin

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

On behalf of the 700,000 members of the Polish Trade Union NSZZ

“Solidarnosc” (Solidarity) I wish to express our solidarity and support for your

struggle against the recent assault on trade unions and trade union rights

unleashed by Governor Scott Walker.

We are witnessing yet another attempt of transferring the costs of the economic

crisis and of the failed financial policies to working people and their families. As

much as some adjustments are necessary, we can not and must not agree that the

austerity measures are synonymous with union-busting practices, the elimination

of bargaining rights and the reduction of social benefits and wages.

Dear friends, please rest assured that our thoughts are with you during your

protest, as we truly do hope that your just fight for decent working and living

conditions, for the workers’ rights will be successful.

Your victory is our victory as well.

In Solidarity,

Piotr Duda



Primer: Wisconsin Union Solidarity Resources & Information

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Kiva Investment Paying Off Already!

This is the small business that
I'm lending money to as part of a
group of 23 people, through
A while back, my friend Al suggested I try This is a way to lend money, as part of a group of investors, to a very small business that has a plan to repay it but cannot get ordinary credit. It's a practical way to do a little charity in an easy way but with the ability to monitor progress, which I like - throwing money into a pot and forgetting about it seems foolish and also somehow disconnected, less human.

So I put $25 into the pot for a small business run by a guy in Sierra Leone, and then, to be honest, forgot about it.

I just now got a message indicating that my investment has made a difference, and is on track to being repaid (meaning I'll be able to do it again soon). It read:
We'd like to give you a repayment update on the loans you've made through Kiva.

A total of $5.00 has been repaid today! As of February 22, 2011, you now have $5.00 in Kiva Credit in your account. You can re-lend, withdraw or donate these funds! (The minimum lending amount is $25, but you can easily add new funds to existing Kiva Credit to complete a loan purchase.)
Below is the repayment update on your Kiva Portfolio
Minkailu Kamara in Sierra Leone
(Activity: Cosmetics Sales)
You Loaned: $25.00
Newly Repaid: $5.00
Total Repaid So Far: $5.00 (20.00% of your loan)
Repayment Status: Paying back on time
I am very pleased. This is not a huge thing, but it is very satisfying that my small effort is making a difference, however small. And I cannot complain at how easy it has been.
I urge you to consider trying this sort of thing yourself. You can be a microinvestor and make a difference!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Clothes Cycling

Clothing made from sheets and
slippers made from sweaters
are comfy and responsible!
Recently, at Goods for the Planet we met a lady who makes dresses and slippers from cloth items such as sheets that had been discarded for having torn edges (fitted corners wear out first!) and sweaters that had holes in them.  Here's a picture of some of the great items she's made. Although the primary consideration with clothing has to be comfort, fit and looks, it's wonderful to realize that the material came from something that was otherwise headed into the waste stream. Isn't it great to be responsible without having to sacrifice comfort!

I was reminded of this when I read this week's Change the World Wednesday Challenge
"This week, take a look at all the disposable items you use and find Eco-friendly alternatives."
The problem, for me, with this challenge is that I don't have a lot of disposable items. I can get my razors to go for at least two weeks, and I don't use paper towels  - cotton rags are better for every cleaning purpose!

But there is one item that I dispose of regularly: clothes. They simply wear out. Pants get holes in knees, socks get holes in toe and heels, and even shirts eventually get thin enough that their SPF is about 2 or maybe less. Some sources estimate that, were it not for re-use/recycle programs, textile waste could make up four percent of America's garbage!

Most of my gear is cotton that, when it becomes too raggy to wear, can become cleaning rags. When cleaning rags become too raggy for cleaning, they can be composte, as long as they haven't been used on toxics. The rags I use on my car tend to get polluted with petroleum gunk, so they go into the trash; I can't think of any better way to deal with them.

Unfortunately, jeans and sweaters don't make good rags. I'm not sure why that is; there's something about cotton denim and wool/acrylic sweater blends that don't make good scrubbing rags. I'm sure someone who's a pro at this could explain why.

Now the Goods for the Planet lady gives me another option. When a sweater or pair of jeans reaches the end of its utility cycle, I'll toss it into the "sewing scraps" box for delivery next time I stop by their store ( sense making an extra trip.) It's a small thing, perhaps, but wasn't the Great Wall made of millions of bricks?