Tag Archives: water

Water, Water Everywhere and Not A Drop to Drink

“It’s easier to get free wi-fi than it is to get free water and people act like there’s nothing wrong with the world”. – Fidel Littlelight
Homeless - bottle of wather
Rick Wood gives food and water to a homeless man near his tent under an overpass near downtown Birmingham, Saturday, March 29, 2014. (abc3340.com)

Water has turned into a huge commodity. As a former retailer I can tell you that water is one of the most profit bearing items in a store.  I used to be able to get cases of water for less than $2 each (making the cost of each bottle roughly 9¢ a piece) and the suggested retail price was 99¢.  That’s a heck of a margin huh?  

In fact, have you seen a water fountain recently? Probably not.  Usually only in schools and hospitals anymore, with an occasional sighting at an office building (leftovers from days gone by).  They’re getting harder to find, aren’t they? Now imagine you’re homeless.  Where do you get a drink of water?

I understand that even if it’s within your means, many people are not comfortable handing cash to the person with the sign at the intersection and I don’t disagree.  Sadly there are scammers out there and there is no way to determine who is legit and who just figure it’s a great way to make a buck.

Shortly after I stopped living in a shelter I was back living with my parents.  My mom needed to go for a therapy appointment due to an injury, so I dropped her off and used her truck to go grocery shopping.  When I got back, there was a man in the parking lot begging for money from everyone he could find talking about how he, his wife and child were now living on the streets and hungry.  When he approached me, I let him know that I had no money but that I had just gotten done grocery shopping and walked him to the back of the truck asking if he had the means to cook and started pulling out groceries for him.  He thanked me and turned down my offering of food, then proceeded to go skittering off to the fast food drive thru next door to return to his quest for cash.

Please do not take what I’ve said as a reason to never help someone with a sign.  There are many, many needy people who need our help and cities and municipalities are really aiming to put the homeless population out of sight and out of mind.  If you haven’t had the opportunity to read my piece on the homelessness – Insights into the Dark  – I would ask you to check it out when you have a chance.

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I’d like to take this opportunity to challenge everyone who reads this to buy a case of bottled water. It doesn’t have to be expensive, just whatever you can find at the best price, and keep it in a cooler with a little ice. As you’re driving around town doing errands and you see someone with a sign, sleeping on a piece of cardboard or a park bench or under an overpass – offer them a bottle of water.  It’s a small kindness that goes an incredibly long way.

I think a case of water at Wal-Mart is around $3.50 and at CVS you can catch it on sale for $2.  While you may not be willing to hand someone cash, offering them a bottle of water that cost you 9¢-15¢, that would cost them a dollar or more at the nearest shop is a huge help.  Can you think of any other way to help that many people for under four dollars? 

It’s a frugal way to help and it’s a great way to help your fellow-man.  Thanks for listening.  

{{{hugs}}}

Maggie

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Water, Water Everywhere and Not A Drop to Drink

“It’s easier to get free wi-fi than it is to get free water and people act like there’s nothing wrong with the world”. – Fidel Littlelight
Homeless - bottle of wather
Rick Wood gives food and water to a homeless man near his tent under an overpass near downtown Birmingham, Saturday, March 29, 2014. (abc3340.com)

Water has turned into a huge commodity. As a former retailer I can tell you that water is one of the most profit bearing items in a store.  I used to be able to get cases of water for less than $2 each (making the cost of each bottle roughly 9¢ a piece) and the suggested retail price was 99¢.  That’s a heck of a margin huh?  

In fact, have you seen a water fountain recently? Probably not.  Usually only in schools and hospitals anymore, with an occasional sighting at an office building (leftovers from days gone by).  They’re getting harder to find, aren’t they? Now imagine you’re homeless.  Where do you get a drink of water?

I understand that even if it’s within your means, many people are not comfortable handing cash to the person with the sign at the intersection and I don’t disagree.  Sadly there are scammers out there and there is no way to determine who is legit and who just figure it’s a great way to make a buck.

Shortly after I stopped living in a shelter I was back living with my parents.  My mom needed to go for a therapy appointment due to an injury, so I dropped her off and used her truck to go grocery shopping.  When I got back, there was a man in the parking lot begging for money from everyone he could find talking about how he, his wife and child were now living on the streets and hungry.  When he approached me, I let him know that I had no money but that I had just gotten done grocery shopping and walked him to the back of the truck asking if he had the means to cook and started pulling out groceries for him.  He thanked me and turned down my offering of food, then proceeded to go skittering off to the fast food drive thru next door to return to his quest for cash.

Please do not take what I’ve said as a reason to never help someone with a sign.  There are many, many needy people who need our help and cities and municipalities are really aiming to put the homeless population out of sight and out of mind.  If you haven’t had the opportunity to read my piece on the homelessness – Insights into the Dark  – I would ask you to check it out when you have a chance.

16-oz-water

 

I’d like to take this opportunity to challenge everyone who reads this to buy a case of bottled water. It doesn’t have to be expensive, just whatever you can find at the best price, and keep it in a cooler with a little ice. As you’re driving around town doing errands and you see someone with a sign, sleeping on a piece of cardboard or a park bench or under an overpass – offer them a bottle of water.  It’s a small kindness that goes an incredibly long way.

I think a case of water at Wal-Mart is around $3.50 and at CVS you can catch it on sale for $2.  While you may not be willing to hand someone cash, offering them a bottle of water that cost you 9¢-15¢, that would cost them a dollar or more at the nearest shop is a huge help.  Can you think of any other way to help that many people for under four dollars? 

It’s a frugal way to help and it’s a great way to help your fellow-man.  Thanks for listening.  

{{{hugs}}}

Maggie

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

Fracking: A 21st Century Gold Rush

Water

Water.  There’s not a day that goes by where you don’t use it.  Not just for drinking but brushing  your teeth, bathing, flushing the toilet, food prep…  Anyone who has ever gone camping or had their water shut off for even a day knows just how much we depend on it and take it for granted.

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is the process of extracting natural gas from shale rock layers deep within the earth. Fracking makes it possible to produce natural gas extraction in shale plays that were once unreachable with conventional technologies. Recent advancements in drilling technology have led to new man-made hydraulic fractures in shale plays that were once not available for exploration. In fact, three dimensional imaging helps scientists determine the precise locations for drilling.

Horizontal drilling (along with traditional vertical drilling) allows for the injection of highly pressurized fracking fluids into the shale area. This creates new channels within the rock from which natural gas is extracted at higher than traditional rates. This drilling process can take up to a month, while the drilling teams delve more than a mile into the Earth’s surface. After which, the well is cased with cement to ensure groundwater protection, and the shale is hydraulically fractured with water and other fracking fluids.

Imagine living in a town with no water.  This isn’t science fiction, this is news.  Fracking has left this town dry.  Worse yet, this is a farming town.  Without water, farms go away.  They can’t pick up and move down the road.  We all learned the stories of Gold Rush in the 1800’s, how the discovery of gold built towns and epicenters of prosperity and how when the gold ran out, laid those same towns to ruin and abandonment.

The question then becomes when do we speak out?  When do we say “enough”.  Do we wait until it is threatening our neighborhoods or do we regard all US citizens as our neighbors?  Ask yourself, what you would do without clean water, or any water for that matter.  As you think about it, widen the circle to your neighbors and then your town.  It becomes pretty frightening.

It’s easier to prevent fracking from coming into your community than it is to fight them when they get there.  Being informed is the best weapon as well as the best motivator.   I encourage you to learn what you can do to keep your family safe and preserve our resources.

Maggie

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