Finding Time by Cooper Hill
Finding Joy

I Fell Down Blog Post


I fell down a hole this week, and climbing out didn’t get me anywhere, so I researched. The ‘hole’ was finding a fresh +92 entries on Facebook, which led to Google-ing some information which led to signing some petitions on animal cruelty, which led to some unique personal ways to help the planet (more on that below), which led to a half-dozen website/articles that were super-interesting:

Pondering the job market for a multi-talented friend seeking work, led to online-learning and teaching venues, (one of my favorite places to learn ‘how to’ do something new) and, which led to sending out emails to those I thought would be interested in another five subjects, which led to not getting much actual writing done on my nearly completed post-apocalyptic, Stones of Fire, book 3.

But it did give me the mental break of ‘following interesting threads’, of learning all sorts of interesting things I didn’t know, and it generated an entirely different ending for book 3, with an added bonus of solving a propulsion problem for a space opera book, Chasing Nyrlkas, also a book 3…so there! free-time-not-wasted.

With world knowledge doubling every 12-24 hours, it is impossible to keep up with all of the wonder-filled things and even the good-for-nothing things that are popping up into our human consciousness every second of the day. But I am still so grateful that at a flick of the fingers, multiple someones on the world-wide-web can answer almost every question I have or introduce me to ten others, and within minutes.

Which leads me to another conundrum, where do I go with this ‘blog’? How do I narrow my focus to write about one thing when I am interested in everything. The answer? At least for now, I will be posting some of these threads I follow-find-and-read, with their links (for any who are also interested) and how cool they are in supporting creative writing–of tickling the brain and generating ideas tangential to invention and the writing process–plus it fulfills my thirst for learning at least 5 new things every day about life on this watery blue planet.

So now, back to the beginning–some unique personal ways to help the planet.

  • The dog and I frequently walk in a local park where the local disc-golf club makes a valiant effort to keep it clean. But almost every day there is someone visiting who can’t be bothered to walk the 10 feet to a readily available trash can and throw away their plastic bottles, lids, cans, fast-food wrappers, cigarette butts or other detritus. So, in addition to a doggy-poo bag, I now carry a small sack to collect and dump that detritus in the many available trash cans in the park. The trash sack is often reusable, and I get extra exercise bending and stretching.

Thanks for reading, and I hope some of the following suggestions from are helpful in your everyday life.  Thanks to them for the following additional suggestions:  (notes in blue are Cooper’s)

Cooper Hill

 Fifty Ways to Help the Planet

Plant a notion
“Going green” doesn’t have to be a daunting task that means sweeping life changes. Simple things can make a difference.

  • The contents of this list might not be new, but they bear repeating. Sometimes it takes a few reminders for things to take root.
  • Change your light
    If every household in the United State replaced one regular lightbulb with one of those new compact fluorescent bulbs, the pollution reduction would be equivalent to removing one million cars from the road.
  • Don’t like the color of light? Use these bulbs for closets, laundry rooms and other places where it won’t irk you as much.
    • We switched from incandescent to fluorescent, but discovered they didn’t give either enough–or the right kind of light. We are now slowly replacing fluorescent with LED’s (more expensive initially, but better light, cheaper to run and longer lasting). Here is a comparison chart of LED’s vs. Incandescent CFL’s, that shows the savings, longevity and cost per year:
  • Turn off computers at night
    By turning off your computer instead of leaving it in sleep mode, you can save 40 watt-hours per day. That adds up to 4 cents a day, or $14 per year. If you don’t want to wait for your computer to start up, set it to turn on automatically a few minutes before you get to work, or boot up while you’re pouring your morning cup ‘o joe.
  • Don’t rinse
    Skip rinsing dishes before using your dishwasher and save up to 20 gallons of water each load. Plus, you’re saving time and the energy used to heat the additional water.

    • We still rinse to get things clean–pre-wash–but we use contained water in the sink, not running water, so it’s only a loss of 1-2 gallons, plus we are on septic, so all our waste water goes to lateral lines that feed the trees and soil.
  • Do not pre-heat the oven
    Unless you are making bread or pastries of some sort, don’t pre-heat the oven. Just turn it on when you put the dish in. Also, when checking on your food, look through the oven window instead of opening the door.
  • Recycle Glass
    Recycled glass reduces related air pollution by 20 percent and related water pollution by 50 percent. If it isn’t recycled it can take a million years to decompose.
  • Diaper with a conscience
    By the time a child is toilet trained, a parent will change between 5,000 and 8,000 diapers, adding up to approximately 3.5 million tons of waste in U.S. landfills each year. Whether you choose cloth or a more environmentally-friendly disposable, you’re making a choice that has a much gentler impact on our planet.
  • Hang dry
    Get a clothesline or rack to dry your clothes by the air. Your wardrobe will maintain color and fit, and you’ll save money.

    • Your favorite t-shirt will last longer too.
  • Go vegetarian once a week
    One less meat-based meal a week helps the planet and your diet. For example: It requires 2,500 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef. You will also save some trees. For each hamburger that originated from animals raised on rainforest land, approximately 55 square feet of forest have been destroyed.
  • Wash in cold or warm
    If all the households in the U.S. switched from hot-hot cycle to warm-cold, we could save the energy comparable to 100,000 barrels of oil a day.
  • Only launder when you have a full load.
  • Use one less paper napkin
    During an average year, an American uses approximately 2,200 napkins—around six each day. If everyone in the U.S. used one less napkin a day, more than a billion pounds of napkins could be saved from landfills each year.

    • We switched back to cotton cloth napkins years ago (except for pizza and tomato-sauce foods that stain ).
  • Use both sides of paper
    American businesses throw away 21 million tons of paper every year, equal to 175 pounds per office worker. For a quick and easy way to halve this, set your printer’s default option to print double-sided (duplex printing). And when you’re finished with your documents, don’t forget to take them to the recycling bin.
  • Recycle newspaper
    There are 63 million newspapers printed each day in the U.S. Of these, 44 million, or about 69%, of them will be thrown away. Recycling just the Sunday papers would save more than half a million trees every week.
  • Wrap creatively
    You can reuse gift bags, bows and event paper, but you can also make something unique by using old maps, cloth or even newspaper. Flip a paper grocery bag inside out and give your child stamps or markers to create their own wrapping paper that’s environmentally friendly and extra special for the recipient.
  • More ideas: HGTV, Martha, DIY Network
  • Rethink bottled water
    Nearly 90% of plastic water bottles are not recycled, instead taking thousands of years to decompose. Buy a reusable container and fill it with tap water, a great choice for the environment, your wallet, and possibly your health. The EPA’s standards for tap water are more stringent than the FDA’s standards for bottled water.

    • I grew up on good well water, and have lived most places where it has been accessible, so fluorinated/chlorinated ‘city water’ doesn’t ‘taste’ good. From bottled water, we’ve mostly switched to a reusable sports bottle to either carry our own well-water with us, or to filter the chlorine and other additives out of city/tap water. While it’s still made of plastic, it’s reusable for years and is a step in the right direction.
  • Ban bathe time
    Have a no-bath week, and take showers instead. Baths require almost twice as much water. Not only will you reduce water consumption, but the energy costs associated with heating the water.
  • Brush without running
    You’ve heard this one before, but maybe you still do it. You’ll conserve up to five gallons per day if you stop. Daily savings in the U.S. alone could add up to 1.5 billion gallons–more water than folks use in the Big Apple.
  • Shower with your partner
    Sneak in a shower with your loved one to start the day with some zest that doesn’t come in a bar. Not only have you made a wise choice for the environment, but you may notice some other added…um…benefits.
    Every two minutes you save on your shower can conserve more than ten gallons of water. If everyone in the country saved just one gallon from their daily shower, over the course of the year it would equal twice the amount of freshwater withdrawn from the Great Lakes every day.

    • We lived in Africa for 2 years where running water was not available most of the time. It made us aware of the preciousness of fresh water and we conserve all we can here at home. I am grateful every morning to have a clean, hot running-water shower and don’t abuse the privilege–max–3 minutes of pure joy.
    It’s good for the air, the land, can shade your house and save on cooling (plant on the west side of your home), and they can also improve the value of your property.

    • Make it meaningful for the whole family and plant a tree every year for each member.
    • The 50+ trees we’ve planted over the years also shade the yard, which cools the soil, grass and plants, which conserves water.
    You paid for those extra buttons in your car, so put them to work! When using cruise control your vehicle could get up to 15% better mileage. Considering today’s gasoline prices, this is a boon not only for the environment but your budget as well.
    Consider buying items from a second-hand store. Toys, bicycles, roller blades, and other age and size-specific items are quickly outgrown. Second hand stores often sell these items in excellent condition since they are used for such a short period of time, and will generally buy them back when you no longer need them.
    Consider the amount of pollution created to get your food from the farm to your table. Whenever possible, buy from local farmers or farmers’ markets, supporting your local economy and reducing the amount of greenhouse gas created when products are flown or trucked in.
    Adjust your thermostat one degree higher in the summer and one degree cooler in the winter. Each degree celsius less will save about 10% on your energy use! In addition, invest in a programmable thermostat which allows you to regulate temperature based on the times you are at home or away.
    If you start every morning with a steamy cup, a quick tabulation can show you that the waste is piling up. Invest in a reusable cup, which not only cuts down on waste, but keeps your beverage hot for a much longer time. Most coffee shops will happily fill your own cup, and many even offer you a discount in exchange!
    Feel like you spend your whole week trying to catch up with the errands? Take a few moments once a week to make a list of all the errands that need to get done, and see if you can batch them into one trip. Not only will you be saving gasoline, but you might find yourself with much better time-management skills.
    Always turn off incandescent bulbs when you leave a room. Fluorescent bulbs are more affected by the number of times it is switched on and off, so turn them off when you leave a room for 15 minutes or more. You’ll save energy on the bulb itself, but also on cooling costs, as lights contribute heat to a room.

    If you must water your lawn, do it early in the morning before any moisture is lost to evaporation. Have a few weeds? Spot treat them with vinegar. Not sure if you should rake? Normal clippings act as a natural fertilizer, let them be. If you’ve waited too long, rake by hand — it’s excellent exercise.

    • We switched to a mulching lawnmower and organic fertilizer 8 years ago (corn gluten followed by dried molasses 2X per year) and can’t believe the difference. Clippings provide 50% of the lawn’s annual nitrogen needs, and builds up soil on our rocky ground. Our grass, trees and shrubs are greener, the grass is twice as thick, weeds are almost non-existent, and water requirements are down by half.
    Some time in between the artichoke dip and the coleslaw, you lost track of your cup, and now there are a sea of matching cups on the table, one of which might be yours. The next time you picnic, set out permanent marker next to disposable dinnerware so guests can mark their cup and everyone will only use one.
    The average cell phone lasts around 18 months, which means 130 million phones will be retired each year. If they go into landfills, the phones and their batteries introduce toxic substances into our environment. There are plenty of reputable programs where you can recycle your phone, many which benefit noble causes.
    Not only are you extending the life of your vehicle, but you are creating less pollution and saving gas. A properly maintained vehicle, clean air filters, and inflated tires can greatly improve your vehicle’s performance. And it might not hurt to clean out the trunk—all that extra weight could be costing you at the pump.
    Wire hangers are generally made of steel, which is often not accepted by some recycling programs. So what do you do with them? Most dry cleaners will accept them back to reuse or recycle. (Cue Joan Crawford.)
    Twenty recycled aluminium cans can be made with the energy it takes to manufacture one brand new one.
  • Every ton of glass recycled saves the equivalent of nine gallons of fuel oil needed to make glass from virgin materials.
    See if you can work out an arrangement with your employer that you work from home for some portion of the week. Not only will you save money and gasoline, you get to work in your pajamas!
    Keeping the damper open (when you’re not using your fireplace) is like keeping a 48-inch window wide open during the winter; it allows warm air to go right up the chimney. This can add up to hundreds of dollars each winter in energy loss.
    Feel like you need to lose a few pounds? It might be your junk mail that’s weighing you down. The average American receives 40 pounds of junk mail each year, destroying 100 million trees. There are many services that can help reduce the clutter in your mailbox, saving trees and the precious space on your countertops.
    Most lighters are made out of plastic and filled with butane fuel, both petroleum products. Since most lighters are considered “disposable,” over 1.5 billion end up in landfills each year. When choosing matches, pick cardboard over wood. Wood matches come from trees, whereas most cardboard matches are made from recycled paper.
    Consider if you really need a paper phone book. If not, call to stop phone book delivery and use an online directory instead. Some estimate that telephone books make up almost ten percent of waste at dump sites. And if you still receive the book, don’t forget to recycle your old volumes.
    Before you throw something away, think about if someone else might need it. Either donate to a charitable organization or post it on a web site designed to connect people and things, such as
    Professional car washes are often more efficient with water consumption. If everyone in the U.S. who washes their car themselves took just one visit to the car wash we could save nearly 8.7 billion gallons of water.
    Each year the U.S. uses 84 billion plastic bags, a significant portion of the 500 billion used worldwide. They are not biodegradable, and are making their way into our oceans, and subsequently, the food chain. Stronger, reusable bags are an inexpensive and readily available option.
    The cost of processing a paper ticket is approximately $10, while processing an e-ticket costs only $1. In the near future, e-tickets will be the only option, saving the airline industry $3 billion a year. In addition to financial savings, the sheer amount of paper eliminated by this process is commendable.
    Most software comes on a compact disc, and more than thirty billion compact discs of all types are sold annually. That’s a huge amount of waste, not to mention the associated packaging. Another bonus to downloading your software is that it’s often available for download at a later date when you upgrade to a new computer or are attempting to recover from a crash.
    Answering machines use energy 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And when they break, they’re just one more thing that goes into the landfill. If all answering machines in U.S. homes were eventually replaced by voice mail services, the annual energy savings would total nearly two billion kilowatt-hours.
    Each year, Americans throw away 138 billion straws and stirrers. But skipping the stirrer doesn’t mean drinking your coffee black. Simply put your sugar and cream in first, and then pour in the coffee, and it should be well mixed.
  • Determined to stir? Break off a piece of pasta from the cupboard. You can nibble after using it, compost, or throw away with less guilt.
    When a big winter storm heads our way, most of us use some sort of ice melter to treat steps and sidewalks. While this makes the sidewalks safer for people, it may pose a hazard for pets who might ingest these products. Rock salt and salt-based ice-melting products can cause health problems as well as contaminate wells and drinking water. Look for a pet-safe deicer, readily available in many stores.
    Some brands of cotton swabs have a paperboard spindle while others are made of plastic. If 10% of U.S. households switched to a paperboard spindle, the petroleum energy saved per year would be equivalent to over 150,000 gallons of gasoline.
    By some estimates, if all households in the U.S. paid their bills online and received electronic statements instead of paper, we’d save 18.5 million trees every year, 2.2 billion tons of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, and 1.7 billion pounds of solid waste.
    Some banks will pay you a dollar or donate money on your behalf when you cancel the monthly paper statements you get in the mail. If every household took advantage of online bank statements, the money saved could send more than seventeen thousand recent high school graduates to a public university for a year.
    Each year 15 billion batteries are produced and sold and most of them are disposable alkaline batteries. Only a fraction of those are recycled. Buy a charger and a few sets of rechargeable batteries. Although it requires an upfront investment, it is one that should pay off in no time. And on Christmas morning when all the stores are closed? You’ll be fully stocked.
  • SHARE!
    Take what you’ve learned, and pass the knowledge on to others. If every person you know could take one small step toward being greener, the collective effort could be phenomenal.


Finding Time by Cooper Hill
Finding Joy