Category Archives: Earth News

Amazing Discovery!

This is amazing. When we first started homeschooling, we were very lucky to see the traveling exhibit at the local LDS church.

 

HEBREW UNIVERSITY ARCHAEOLOGISTS FIND 12TH DEAD SEA SCROLLS CAVE
HEBREW UNIVERSITY ARCHAEOLOGISTS FIND 12TH DEAD SEA SCROLLS CAVE

Along with a traveling (read durable) replica of the scrolls and there were various artifacts from that period along with a diorama of the compound in which it had been found. That reminded me of the movie about the siege of Masada. I still have the book around here somewhere.

The exhibit was so breathtaking to see something up close that had been used by people two thousand years ago!

http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Hebrew-University-archaeologists-find-12th-Dead-Sea-Scrolls-cave-480966

 

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The Time Is Now

If you don’t see or think that there have been drastic changes in our seasons and weather patterns then you are **CHOOSING** to be ignorant. There were only scant yearly differences prior to the industrial revolution and it keeps changing as we go along.

Unbelievable.
Unbelievable.

For the over 35 crowd, do you remember when we had snow in December, no damned ice storms, hurricanes like Andrew, Hugo, Katrina, Ike, Sandy… What’s next??

It is time for all of us to stand up and take the responsibility and ownership for maintaining this planet.  It’s the only one we have.

I wish you peace and prosperity, 

Maggie ॐ

Net Neutrality – Explained!

I’ve always taken issue with the fact that neighborhood by neighborhood you only have access to one cable provider.

Dish and DirecTV gave a little competition, but when it comes to apartment living you still have to ask for permission and the cable company may still have the lock on your area. When this happens you have absolutely no bargaining power as a consumer to negotiate prices nor will companies compete for your business. Either you pay for it or you go without.

Recently the subject of net neutrality has come into play with a lot of people scratching their heads and saying “huh?” It’s very boring and hard to understand and the media covers it but doesn’t explain what it is.

I just found this video and want to share. It is hysterically funny and most importantly, he explains what it is and why we need to work against this – for our own best interest as consumers.

As most of you know, I live in a rural area so I have access to one cable provider or satellite as well.  And that one cable company is a small company not a huge conglomerate like Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, etc.  They struggle to compete with the bigger companies but do not have the bargaining power that someone like Comcast does.  Who goes without?  The customers.

If you’re one of the folks that hate how Wal-Mart has settled into areas and choked out small businesses, please take note, this is the same business practice.   As you recently saw in the news Comcast purchased Time Warner and as explained in the video, they both were in very different areas of the country.  So by purchasing Time Warner, Comcast effectively took over new areas as a sole provider without ever having to compete for business.  The areas that were of no interest to them, they sold off to other smaller providers…. providers who still won’t be able to provide the same level of service if these proposed practices are allowed to take place.

You will have to move to urban areas to get better service from Netflix.. not because of anything that Netflix is doing, but because of the internet speed preferences allowed by internet providers and if a larger company is providing a smaller company’s service (the smaller company is just reselling – not unlike local utility companies), you’re going to see prices shoot upward and nothing you can do about it.

For the many frugalites who have opted to discontinue cable in favor of Netflix, Hulu, Crackle, Project Free TV, etc, this directly impacts you.  Afterall, we’ve even had the option of putting an antenna on top of our TV taken away from us now that everything is digital.

I urge you to enjoy the video then please click HERE and tell them what you think!

The FCC is taking comments on its proposal at OpenInternet@FCC.gov. The initial deadline for comments is July 15 and the deadline for reply comments is September 15, but the agency is expected to keep the inbox open until it votes to finalize the proposal.

{{{hugs}}}

Maggie


 

Cable companies have monopolies on service, neighborhood by neighborhood giving consumers little or no choice.  This is not what should be happening in a competitive free market.  Now you want to have companies like Netflix pay for speed of service, thereby choking out smaller companies or ad only companies such as Crackle and Project Free TV.  This needs to be stopped.  Consumers already pay for broadband speed, subjecting online providers to pay for upload speeds as well has cable companies making money from both ends of the transaction while the consumers lose.

~ This is my submission to the FCC

Update – John Oliver’s show (the video above) created a wave of over 45,000! responses to the FCC website!  Keep it going!

 

10 Common Sense Tips To Save Energy (and $$)

For me, I’m one of those people who if I think about why it makes sense to do something, then I’ll do it because it makes sense.  If you just tell me to do something but don’t tell me why, it really goes in one ear and out the other.

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1)  Turn your water heater down  

If your hot water is too hot to use straight when washing dishes or showering, turn it down to where it’s comfortable.  It’s a waste of energy to maintain water at a temperature that’s too hot, just have to cool down anyway.  Your water heater, on average, equates to a quarter of your electric bill or more.  Even turning it down 10° can save energy and money on your bill.  If you’re worried about being hot enough to kill germs in an automatic dishwasher, don’t.  They actually heat the water themselves, they just use less energy to heat if they have access to hot water.

2) Insulate your windows

Most of us will cover drafts in the winter.  We’ll put plastic over windows, cover drafty spots at the bottoms of doors with draft blockers, etc only to get to that blessed warm spring air when we throw open every door and window in the house and air everything out.  If it still gets chilly at night, no biggie, we’re willing to throw on a sweater.  What about when we turn on the air conditioner? We’re using the same energy to cool the house as we did to heat it in the winter but we don’t use the same logic to use it efficiently.

I found some great cheap curtains (only $5 each!) at a thrift store (and they were new).  They were classed as “nursery” curtains. Unlined, light blocking but not black out curtains.  My bedroom gets sun all day long and it’s a huge difference in temperature depending on whether or not I have my curtains open or closed.  The air conditioning doesn’t have to work nearly as hard if you’re not adding the heat of the sun directly into the room.

energy-saving lightbulbs

3) Change your light bulbs, then shut them off

In 2007, President Bush signed the Energy Independence and Security Act.  One of the things in that act is the transition from traditional light bulbs to energy-efficient (a.k.a fluorescent) bulbs.  In other words, what you see on the shelves is all there is folks, they are not making “regular” light bulbs anymore.  In the interim, the industry has now come out with LED bulbs that are even more cost efficient and safer for the environment.  LED‘s are brighter and use less energy than both traditional and fluorescent bulbs.  Also LED‘s are safer for you and the environment than fluorescent since they don’t contain mercury inside; important to know if you have kids, pets or breathing issues.

After that, shut them off!  It’s estimated that if every home would watch TV for 1 hour a week in the dark (like a movie theater), the world would save enough coal to fill the Empire State Building.   That’s pretty significant.   Earth Hour is a program started in 2007 to spread awareness and make a global effort to reduce energy consumption and global warming.  Now imagine what it can do for  your electric bill if you do this once a week.

4) “Vampire” Electronics

In this age of technology, we tend to want things immediately.  As such, most people are not satisfied waiting for things to “warm up” or boot up and even get impatient waiting for a microwave to beep.  In comes “standby mode”.  Most modern electronics don’t actually shut off, but rather go into a standby mode, waiting for the next time you use them.

You shut off the tv but the little red light in the corner stays on, the cable box and DVD players still display the time or have little lights on.  They’re all pulling energy and truly the only way to shut them off is to pull the plug which for most of us pretty difficult. We all have that bird’s nest of cords hiding in a mass behind all the electronics because we don’t like looking at them, right?  So put them on a timer.  If you work days, the kids are gone, etc put them on a timer just like you would do for lamps when you’re out-of-town.

If you put your electronics on a timer Monday through Friday from 9-3 while everyone is out of the house, do you realize you’ll save 1,560 HOURS of electricity use?  Imagine what that would do for your electric bill!  Oh and don’t forget to remove burnt out light bulbs.  An empty socket draws no energy, but one with a light bulb does… even if that light bulb doesn’t work.

5) Running toilet?  Catch it!

Water usage is expensive.  If you pay a water bill, you know exactly how expensive.  More and more apartments are charging tenants for water just because usage can become so staggering.  Dripping faucets, running toilets, leaky garden hoses, they all add up.   Think you’re okay because you’ve got well water?  Not really, that pump is always running and you’re spending more in electricity and putting more wear and tear on the pump.

When I was running a chain of small retail shops, the meter reader had come around to do the monthly reading and swiftly came in and shut off our water for excessive, unusual consumption.  As it turned out, the toilet was running.  The employees couldn’t hear it over the radio they kept playing and the normal customer noises.  In one month’s time our normally $115-$125 water bill jumped to over $5000!  Granted commercial rates are different but you see what a difference it can make.

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6) Put a lid on it

Steam is heat and in summertime there’s nothing worse that doing things like boiling pasta and heating the kitchen up.  So cover it up.  Food cooks faster, water boils faster and you use less energy when leave the lid on.  Afterall, that’s how a pressure cooker is able to do its magic.  On that same note, leave the lid alone when using your crock pot.  Every time you lift the lid you add about 20 minutes to your cooking time.

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7) Circulation counts

As we all know ceiling fans are amazing in winter to bring the heat that rises down and mix it with the cooler air.  What if you don’t have a ceiling fan?  Use one or two smaller fans – point them towards the ceiling in winter and along the floor in summer to get that cool air to rise up.

8) Fill that freezer

Ideally you want to stock up on food, but until you do stuff it with bags of ice or even crumpled newspaper.  It will keep your freezer from working as hard.  Remember that it’s the exposure to air that causes freezer burn (still date and rotate food), so less air circulation means less freezer burn as well.

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9) Get your laundry clean

This is a pet peeve of mine, I’ll be honest.  My sister has the best smelling laundry of anyone I know.  Truly it’s amazing.  That being said, she can only use certain brands because it causes irritation for her and her husband.

Question…if your laundry smells like the detergent, is it really clean?  Think about it.  We wash, then drain, then rinse, then spin, then rinse, then spin again.  If you washed your dishes, rinsed them twice and there was still dish soap making your dishes smell like mountain rain, would you still eat on them?

So here’s a suggestion, cut back on the detergent a little at a time until you can’t smell the detergent.  Of course you still want to make sure that your clothes are clean from dirt, but you’ll know that the rest of the detergent is washed out.  Companies want you to use their product as fast as possible so you’ll buy more.  It’s what keeps them in business.  Generally you can use 1/3 to 1/2 of the recommended amount and still have your clothes clean.  If you want that lovely lavender scent, put a few drops of lavender oil on a washcloth in with the last 15 minutes of drying.

Of course air drying when you can is always an energy saver.  Also, unless you’re bleaching a load of linens, wash in cold water. You’ll get your clothes just as clean and save on heating the water.

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10) Cooking Ahead

As most of you know, my love is in the kitchen.  Having worked in restaurants I like having things prepped and ready.  Cooking ahead allows you to do that. When you’re cooking a chicken, cook two.  Or throw in a beef or pork roast, this way you can heat and eat later. Cooking a pot of mashed potatoes?  Make twice as much and freeze half (before you put the milk & butter in).  Why buy canned soup when you can make a big pot of homemade soup and freeze it in individual or meal portions.  Things like this not only save cooking energy, but they save your energy as well.  Why get one of those sodium and preservative laden overpriced heat & eat meals when you can have your own favorites at your fingertips?  Check out Work Smart, Save Money, Eat Great! for more prepping and storing ideas as well.

I’d love to hear your energy & saving tips, so please share!

{{{hugs}}}
Maggie

20 things you didn’t know you could recycle

From sandwich bags and bras to Crocs and crayons, there’s a whole lot more than bottles and cans that can be recycled.

By Melissa Breyer
recycling

Photo: _LeS_/Shutterstock

In 2010, Americans generated nearly 250 million tons of trash. At first glance that may not seem like such a terrifying figure, but look at it this way: That’s 500,000,000,000 pounds of solid waste. Remarkably, 34 percent of that is composted or recycled. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, for each of the 4.43 pounds of trash that each American creates every day, 1.51 pounds of that, on average, is composted or recycled.
Which is a start, but landfills fill up, and there are only so many parks we can build over massive parcels of buried garbage. The good news is that reducing our personal garbage loads is becoming increasingly easy as more programs are being created to help us. With that in mind, the following 20 household items may seem destined for the dump but they can actually be recycled — and easily.
1. Athletic shoes
Tired, broken-down, “fragrant” running shoes are most generally directed to the trash, but given our penchant for kicks, that’s a lot of sneakers stinking up the landfill. A better future for your athletic shoes is to introduce them to one of Nike’s Reuse-A-Shoe recycling bins. Nike in turn will incorporate them into the raw material called Nike Grind, which is used in everything from running tracks to shoe soles to zippers.
2. Bicycles
Americans send more than 15 million bicycles out to pasture every year. But rather than throwing them in the dump, you can give your old two-wheelers a second life by donating them to Bikes of the World, which collects, refurbishes and donates bikes to lower-income people and select institutions in developing countries.
3. Bike tools and gear
With a similar mission to Bikes of the World, Bikes Not Bombs takes bicycle bits, pieces, and gear in addition to the bikes themselves. They accept parts, tools, broken components such as cracked frames, worn tires, tubes with holes, helmets, bags, lights, pumps, locks, cycle clothing, etc. They restore bikes and gear, and deliver them overseas to economic development projects in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. Bikes that don’t get shipped often land in the group’s youth programs where teens learn bicycle safety and mechanic skills while earning bikes to keep for themselves.
4. Bras
There comes a time in every bra’s life when it just has to move on, and bras aren’t generally the kind of clothing we women toss in the “to donate” pile. But the Bosom Buddy Program, started by a textile recycling company in Arizona, wants your weary bras. After sprucing them up, they donate the revamped brassieres to women’s shelters or other programs that help women gain self-sufficiency.
5. Brita water filters
Ditching plastic water bottles for filtered water is a resourceful move, even if you are left with spent water filters. But if you use Brita products, you’re in luck. They have teamed up with the company Preserve, and between the two, they are recycling Brita plastic pitcher filter casings into Preserve’s eco-friendly, 100-percent recycled products such as toothbrushes, cups and cutting boards. Also cool: the activated carbon within the filters is regenerated for alternative use or converted into energy.
6. Carpeting
When it comes time to reveal the lovely hardwood floor buried underneath that mod shag carpeting, find a carpet-reclamation facility to take it for recycling. You can also check with individual carpet makers, many of which have recycling programs.
7. Compact fluorescent light bulbs
The mercury content makes CFLs a trickier disposal problem than basic bulbs, leaving many people confused about what to do with them once the light has been extinguished. But now both Ikea and Home Depot provide CFL recycling programs, and other lighting stores are also beginning to accept these bulbs as well. If neither of these chain stores are nearby, see 5 ways to dispose of old CFLs for other ideas.
8. Cosmetics
Cosmetic packaging probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when considering recycling, but compacts, tubs, tubes, and other containers can be easily recycled. Various companies have their own programs, including: M·A·C CosmeticsOrigins andAveda, to name a few. (You can also avoid packaging altogether by making your own.)
9. Crayons
This may sound crazy — clearly crayons aren’t public enemy number one – but with 120,000 pounds of crayons produced each day in this country, the landfills could become surprisingly colorful. Fear not, the National Crayon Recycle Program will recycle your rejected crayons and turn them into new ones. So far, the program has diverted more than 88,000 pounds of crayons from landfills.
10. Crocs
Love them or hate them, the molded petroleum-based foam shoes that seem best suited for emceeing a circus are here to stay; if not in fashion, at least in the environment, given the enduring material from which they are made. But the company that everyone loves to hate has done something good with the formation of Crocs Cares, which recycles used Crocs into new shoes and donates them to underprivileged families.
11. Eyeglasses
There is something profoundly counter intuitive about throwing out old eyeglasses, it just doesn’t feel right; but how in the world can we recycle old glasses?  It’s actually quite simple, and better yet, they can be reused by people in need. The Lions Recycle for Sight program collects used eyeglasses and cleans them before sorting by prescription strength and distributing them to people in developing countries. They accept prescription and reading glasses, sunglasses and plastic and metal frames. Children’s glasses are especially needed. Drop them in a Lions Club dropbox or send them by mail, here’s how.
12. Hair dryers
Hair dryers usually have a decent lifespan, but once they need replacing, what to do with the old clunky beast? Folica.com is one option for recycling; the company accepts mail-back dryers and will issue a $40 credit towards the purchase of a new one.
13. iPods
If you bring your old iPod to an Apple Retail Store, they will take it off your hands and also give you a 10 percent discount on the purchase of a new one.
14. Mobile phones
Currently, only about 10 percent of cellphones in the U.S. are recycled; and while some components require proper hazardous waste disposal, other parts are highly recyclable. There are many charities that accept old phones for recycling. See a list of mail-back programs at earth911. And if you have an iPhone, you can return it to Apple for recycling; if the device is eligible for re-use, Apple will give you a gift card for the value.
15. Packing peanuts
Polystyrene packing peanuts, oh how they perplex! The masters of static cling areparticularly problematic because they take up a lot of room, waste-wise, and they fail to biodegrade. Fortunately, they don’t lose their packing prowess upon being reused, so many shipping companies will take them back. Try Mailboxes, Etc and UPS, you can also find other drop-off locations at loosefillpackaging.com.
16. Pantyhose
The global hosiery market is expected to reach $20.3 billion by 2015, and given pantyhose’s propensity to so easily render itself unwearable courtesy of snags and runs, there is a seemingly endless stream of pantyhose finding their way to the trash can. Fortunately, there are many ways you can reuse retired pantyhose, and when all else fails, you can recycle them. No Nonsense legwear company accepts all brands of nylons, knee-highs and tights and recycles the material to be used in carpet, anchor rope and park benches. Get a mailing label here.
17. Plastic dry-cleaning bags, bread bags, produce bags, etc
Some municipalities have fantastic curbside recycling options for plastic, but others don’t. If you live in the latter, there’s a secret that too few people know about. Nearly any plastic bag or plastic wrap can be deposited in the grocery bag recycling bin at many supermarkets. For more details, see Recycle sandwich bags, dry-cleaning bags and more.
18. Prosthetic limbs
Prosthetic pieces aren’t generally reused in the U.S. due to legal considerations, but don’t let those fake limbs go to waste! Some organizations arrange for prosthetic components to be disassembled and shipped to Third World countries and to be used for landmine victims and others. Check these organizations, each of which can accept donations depending on their current needs.
19. Resealable sandwich bags
Few items create more inner turmoil for eco-moms than zipper-style sandwich and freezer bags; for many they embody the sinful duality of being both wonderfully indispensable yet easily disposable. For those who can’t give up their resealable bags, you can now recycle them at any of more than 18,000 in-store recycling centers. And you can even earn reward points for doing so. For details, see Ziploc launches new recycling program.
20. Wine corks
Yes, cork is biodegradable and in the big picture, bitty little wine corks are perhaps not the most vexing of items to warrant recycling. But if you consider that in the U.S. alone we consume more than 850 million gallons of wine, you realize that the corks can really start to add up — and there are only so many DIY coasters and homemade memo boards one house can handle. Fortunately you can send your corks to places like Yemm & Hart or recork.org, who will kindly take them off your hands to create new products.
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Companion Planting Over Pesticides

Companion Planting

 

 

I remember being first introduced to the term “companion planting” in the 1970’s.  By planting things in a certain order, plants serve not only as organic pesticides but also put out nutrients that are beneficial for the neighboring plants.

Now is the time to put these books on your fall/winter reading list so you can plan your garden for spring.

carrots love tomatoes
This classic has now taught generations of gardeners how to use the natural benefits of plants to protect and support each other. Here is a reader’s complete reference to which plants nourish the soil, which keep away bugs and pests, and which plants just don’t get along. Here is a complete guide to using companion planting to grow a better garden. 555,000 copies in print.

 

 

 

Rodale-natural-pest-and-disease-control
With growing consumer awareness about the dangers of garden chemicals, turn to The Organic Gardener’s Handbook of Natural Pest and Disease Control as the most reliable and comprehensive guide on the garden shelf. Rodale has been the category leader in organic methods for decades, and this thoroughly updated edition features the latest science-based recommendations for battling garden problems. With all-new photos of common and recently introduced pests and plant diseases, you can quickly identify whether you’ve discovered garden friend or foe and what action, if any, you should take.
No other reference includes a wider range of methods for growing and maintaining an organic garden. The plant-by-plant guide features symptoms and solutions for 200 popular plants, including flowers, vegetables, trees, shrubs, and fruits. The insect-and-disease encyclopedia includes a photo identification guide and detailed descriptions of damage readers may see. The extensive coverage of the most up-to-date organic control techniques and products, presented in order of lowest impact to most intensive intervention, makes it easy to choose the best control.

 

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle… What about Repair?

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.  It’s a great mantra.  We keep hearing this, but some days it seems like an uphill battle doesn’t it?  

I must say, I’m a visual person and for that reason I absolutely love Pinterest.  I love the ideas.  I find myself saying “Why didn’t I think of that?” a lot as I scroll through pictures.  It really does help to get the creative juices flowing.  I don’t always see the second purpose until I have a need and see where I could use something “else” that would work.

 Tools

Then there’s the missing “R”, which is “Repair”. 

Why isn’t repair in the mantra?  I suppose it could be included under the header of reuse, but to me reuse implies use something more than once.

Most products aren’t designed by manufacturers to be repaired.  If it can be repaired then you have to find parts which can be located in the same aisle with the Holy Grail, the no-calorie ice cream and the self cleaning children.  It seems like the only way to find parts is if you have another matching item that you can pull parts off of.  How many people have a pair of items and when one breaks you hold on to the other one “just in case”.  Yep, that’s the beginning of a hording episode and yes I’ve been there.  I was raised by a licensed packrat.

Then in comes the nagging question of how to repair it.  I know I’m not the only one either.  Back in the day we had repair shops on every corner… for TV’s, sewing machines, appliances, shoes, upholstery… you name it.  You didn’t need to know how to repair it because of the shop on the corner.  Now you’re lucky to find a computer repair shop that will actually fix a pc instead of just reformatting the hard drive and starting over (because they don’t know how to fix it and neither do you).  So you’re left at their mercy if you don’t want to just buy a new computer unless you’re lucky enough to have that one friend that’s good with computers…(or cars, don’t get me started on that one).

I just read a great story about a couple who started a repair shop in their own neighborhood to deal with this very issue.  I think it’s amazing.  Check out the story – http://www.onearth.org/articles/2013/09/why-do-we-throw-our-stuff-away-instead-of-fixing-it.  I would love to see a repair shop like this in most urban areas.  Get a couple of handy people together, a few tools and a store front and you’re good to go!

However, until that happens, if you’re a marginally handy person like me you need a bit of help.

…but I don’t know how to fix it.

As my homeschooling mentor told me, you don’t have to know all the answers, you just have to know how to look them up.  So here are a few things to get you started.

First, there’s Google.  Who doesn’t love Google?  Type in a model number, a product or even a question and it will have answers for you.  Now, it may not have the answers you’re looking for, so be prepared to search a few different ways.  Just by changing a word or two you can greatly change the outcome of your search.  Most manufacturers are online now, allowing you to find product manuals, parts, places to buy parts or even message boards of people having the same problem you are who reached out for help from other people.  Even consider starting your search with phrases like “what’s wrong with my” or “how do I fix a” to get you going in the right direction.

Second, there’s YouTube.com.  YouTube is more than just music and funny videos of cats.  Use the same search phrases and you’ll be amazed on what you’ll find.  There are people on there that are dying to show you the skills and information they have.  Thanks to YouTube I was able to learn how to do a factory reset on my husband’s smart phone which saved us $400 on a new phone.

Another resource is eBay.  Believe it or not, there are a lot of people who sell broken stuff on eBay.  Sounds crazy maybe, but if you need parts for something you have, it’s a great resource.  Just typing in the words “for parts only” into the search area will net you just under 25,000 results.  Now imagine getting specific!

One of my favorites is Freecycle.org.  I’ve been a fan of Freecycle for many years.  I’ve gotten and given a lot of stuff through there.  I’ve gotten everything from Lego blocks to cell phones to furniture and have given away things I didn’t need any more… everything from fish tanks, to a stove and a couple of cars.  The free-to-join group of members are people who would rather give things away to people who can use them rather than putting them in landfills or scrap yards.  If you’re a people watcher by nature, you may enjoy just watching the lists of things offered and asked for.

AppliancePartsPros.com, Inc.
Appliance Parts Pros are a great company for finding appliance parts online at a great price, they’ll even walk you through repairs. They’re your pro to go!

The better you get at repairs, the more options that are available to you like DIY projects, thrift store and garage sale buys… not to mention frugal bonuses like decorating and home improvements!