Author: OneWorld

Dryer Balls – save money & reduce chemical exposure

Dryer Balls – save money & reduce chemical exposure

Replacing dryer sheets with 1 – 3 dryer balls leads to several benefits. Dryer balls can be made from plastic or wool. Another option is to make your own aluminum foil balls – simply made by crumpling foil. Toss them in with wet laundry instead of costly, chemical-laden, single-use dryer sheets.

They save money in two ways. First, single-use unlike dryer sheets, dryer balls are reusable for many, many loads. Using the same wool dryer balls for over 1000 loads is not uncommon. Plastic ones don’t last quite as long but they are inexpensive and a great option for people with a wool allergy. Wool dryer balls can even be refreshed and rehydrated simply by tossing them in the wash with other laundry.

Dryer balls have also been shown to significantly reduce drying time by up to 25% or more. That adds up to a lot of energy savings over a year. Maybe more important is the time they save by shortening the time needed to dry your clothes. The balls bounce around creating air pockets and separating layers of cloth to increase airflow.

The bouncing action of the balls reduces static and wrinkles by preventing wet laundry from clumping. Increase the wrinkle-prevention by dampening your dryer balls to create a steam effect. This hypoallergenic method eliminates the chemicals and artificial scents used in dryer sheets.

Think the chemicals in dryer sheets don’t affect your skin? Most dryer sheets contain harmful chemicals. Scientific American identified some of the most harmful ones:

  • benzyl acetate – linked to pancreatic cancer
  • benzyl alcohol – an upper respiratory tract irritant
  • ethanol – linked to central nervous system disorders
  • limonene – a known carcinogen
  • chloroform – a known neurotoxin and carcinogen

There are versions of dryer sheets with fewer harsh chemicals and fragrances, but replacing them with dryer balls eliminates all of them from your clothes, while saving time and money.

Urgent Steps Needed to Save Birds Now

Urgent Steps Needed to Save Birds Now

Many birds are experiencing major population declines and need our help more than ever. According to American Bird Conservancy, almost 3 billion – yes billion – adult breeding birds have been lost to the US and Canada. We’ve lost more than 1/4th of our birdlife just since 1970! 90% came from just 12 bird families, including sparrows, warblers, finches, and swallows. Why is this important? Bird declines are indicative of a broader crisis in the natural world including losses of insects, amphibians, and wildlife.

Habitat loss is the main cause of bird declines. Habitat degradation through fragmentation, invasive plants, or poor water quality is another major cause of losses. In this case, habitat doesn’t disappear outright but becomes less able to support birds, such as when habitat is fragmented, altered by invasive plants, or when water quality is compromised. Other significant threats to birds come from cats and other invasive species and exposure to pesticides and other toxins.

Many birds are killed through collisions with glass, industrial communications towers, and wind turbines. Steady burning lights on communication towers attract, confuse, and disorient birds at night and cause nearly 7 million bird collisions annually. A simple solution to reduce bird fatalities is by switching to flashing lights.

But what can you do as an individual to make a difference near term? Plenty! Take Action to Help Bring Birds Back.

Learn more about each of the actions below at American Bird Conservancy American Bird Conservancy has been a 4-star rated charity by Charity Navigator for 10 yrs

Sea Bins – Another tool for cleaning trash from our lakes and oceans

Sea Bins – Another tool for cleaning trash from our lakes and oceans

People have designed several ingenious ways to capture trash that is in our waterways. Of course, preventing it from getting there in the first place would be the best option but failing that, we need effective ways to remove it. A post from the World Economic Forum highlights Sea Bins. Each bin can capture 90,000 plastic bags a year.

That is a lot of plastic out of our waterways but it still is only a dent in the approximately 8 million tons of plastic that ends up in the ocean yearly. The Seabin Project, maker of the Sea Bins, is a cleantech startup trying to help solve the global problem of ocean plastic pollution. Their Sea Bins act like floating trash cans, collecting garbage, oil, fuel, and detergents. The idea is to skim floating debris from harbours before it enters the ocean.

Learn more:

Simple Ideas – Big Results

Simple Ideas – Big Results

Nets over drainage outlets in Australia prevent plastic waste from entering bodies of water. Although the mesh holes are too large to capture microplastics which are becoming a major problem, the nets capture all types of debris that would otherwise be difficult to clean up once loose in a body of water. It also captures both floating trash and items that would sink.

Other countries have used many other simple techniques to capture and remove trash including floating barriers and autonomous drones that scoop up debris into a large sack.

While none of these ideas remove 100% of debris, they each make a significant dent in keeping our waterways clean.

Nets over drainage outlets in Australia prevent plastic waste from entering bodies of water.
Trees are the lungs of the Earth

Trees are the lungs of the Earth

Trees are versatile and provide many essential benefits for life on Earth – including creating oxygen, providing shade, wind breaks, preventing soil erosion, and filter water through their root system and more. Trees are a renewable energy source and source or raw material for building, furniture, paper and more. Trees feed us with their fruit and provide sap for making syrup. They also provide shelter for birds and animals. In fact, approximately 80% of animal, plant, and insect species live in forests.

In addition to the food grown on trees, hundreds of millions of humans rely on forests for basic survival for firewood and shelter materials. Trees also provide employment. Over 80 million people work in jobs that are related to trees and tree products.

Still an estimated 18 million acres of trees are destroyed annually. This puts many species at risk of extinction as their habitat is lost. It also impacts the atmosphere as those trees no longer provide oxygen generation, no longer keep areas cool from their shade, no longer block soil erosion from wind and water. There are many different reasons for deforestation and they vary from place to place. For example, many areas of rain forest have been cut down to make way for palm oil and soy plantations. In America, many woodlands are raised and replaced with new housing neighborhoods. Globally, 40% of all timber is used to make paper products.

So what can you do to help? Plant a tree is a great way to start. Other small and easy steps include:

  • reducing your paper use – for example don’t print unneeded emails or excess pages, use scrap paper for lists, notes, etc.
  • increase recycling of paper and cardboard
  • buy products made from recycled content. Many great products are made from recycled content – check labels to find them
  • avoid products made with palm oil. A majority of palm oil production is done on land where forests – especially rainforests – have been cleared. Palm oil is an ingredient in many food products so check labels and consider alternative products. Some palm oil is sustainably produced and products that carry a sustainable palm oil certificate such as the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).
  • consider buying existing furniture, rather than new. Older furniture is often inexpensive and better made than inexpensive new versions. Wood furniture can be refurbished / refinished for a new look.
  • get educated and spread the word – if we all do a little it will add up to big changes.

You can also support organizations that fight deforestation. Visit their websites to learn more, make donations, or volunteer. Organizations that focus on sustainability and preventing deforestation include:

Remember, not all logging is harmful. . Sustainable forest management doesn’t mean never cutting trees down. Fires are actually necessary for certain trees to produce seedlings. When you know a little more about the , it becomes easier to understand what you read or hear about our natural world and our relationship with them. There is wonderful information on all of the organizations’ websites listed above.

Finally, get out an enjoy nature. Don’t wait for Earth Day. Every day can be Earth day. Studies show being in nature provides health benefits including stress reduction, improving mood, lowers blood pressure, and provides fun and enjoyment.

Want To Help People in Ukraine? Donate Extra Diabetes Supplies

Want To Help People in Ukraine? Donate Extra Diabetes Supplies

People living with diabetes face unique challenges during times of crisis. Diabetics need their medicine and supplies every day. Its not an option. But you can’t hop down to the pharmacy in a war zone or if you are fleeing to safety with only what you can carry.

The American Diabetes Association is a founding member of the Diabetes Disaster Response Coalition (DDRC). With help from our partners, they’ve developed processes and tools for crisis response. DDRC is now leveraging these resources to support our international colleagues.

You Can Help with Supplies or Funds

If you have unexpired and unopened diabetes supplies including in-date and unneeded insulin, test strips, meters, and other diabetes supplies, you can donate to Insulin For Life USA and these life-saving supplies will be distributed, free of charge, to international organizations serving Ukraine and surrounding countries. For details on donation items that can be donated, please view resources below: 

Insulin For Life USA IFL USA is fully licensed by the State of Florida to both receive and distribute medications for this purpose. All donations to the organization are tax-deductible in accordance with regulations.

Learn almost anything for free and keep your brain healthy

Learn almost anything for free and keep your brain healthy

Numerous studies show that learning new things at any age helps keep the brain active and building new pathways in a process called brain plasticity. As a child we are constantly learning but once we finish school, opportunities for learning must be sought out. Studies also show that learning something you are interested in provides better results than forcing yourself to learn a new skill for the sake of it.

So where can adults find top-flight classes on a variety of topics and for free? Check out Class Central is a search engine and review site for over 50,000 top quality free online courses. The courses are from nearly 1000 top universities including MIT, Duke, Harvard. Over 50 providers such as Coursera, LinkedIn, edX, Udemy, and Skillshare, and more and 600 institutions including Google, Amazon, Smithsonian, IBM, United Nations, British council, Microsoft, and many more also offer courses.

These online courses are known as MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses). They cover almost every imaginable subject from art, food, culture, nature, learning skills, medicine, science, technology, investing, and too many more topics to mention. Many courses also offer certificates or badges to boost your resume. The Rankings section provides lists of the best of the best courses.

10 fire safety tips to help keep you and your kids alive and safe

10 fire safety tips to help keep you and your kids alive and safe

Mark R Lambert, West Virginia University

Too many people are losing their lives in fires.

Although the number of people killed in fires in the United States has been going down since the 1980s, the number is still high. In the year 2020, for example, 3,500 people were killed in fires in the U.S. The vast majority of those deaths – 2,580, to be exact, or about three out of every four – took place at home. Another 11,500 people suffered fire-related injuries at home.

I know all of this too well. Before I became director of the West Virginia University Fire Service Extension, I spent 23 years as a fire and explosion investigator for the West Virginia State Fire Marshal’s Office. In that position, I investigated approximately 1,000 cases in which people were killed or injured in home fires. As any fire investigator will tell you, I know that a lot of fire deaths and injuries can be avoided by following a few simple steps.

1. Get some smoke detectors

Smoke detectors reduce your chances of dying in a fire by 50%.

They can be purchased at department stores, hardware stores or online for as little as US$10. The more expensive models, which may cost closer to $100, have extra features, such as flashing lights or audio files where a parent can add a voice message telling their child to “Wake up, the fire alarm is going off!” Some can also detect carbon monoxide.

If you or your family cannot afford a smoke detector, you might be able to get one from your local fire department or your local American Red Cross for free. Most departments will also teach you how to install one.

2. Put a smoke detector on every level of your home

You should have at least one smoke detector on every level of your home. Ideally, there should be one in every bedroom, another one just outside of every bedroom, one in the laundry and furnace area and one in the attic.

Change the batteries twice a year. Do this even if you don’t hear the detector “chirp” to let you know the batteries are low. Replace the smoke detectors every 10 years.

Firefighters have been stressing the importance of smoke detectors since 1973. Even so, 41% of all U.S. home fire deaths took place on properties where there was no smoke detector, and 16% took place on properties where the smoke detector didn’t work.

In several cases, I have investigated fatal fires only to find the detector on the kitchen counter with no batteries in it.

3. Close bedroom doors

Research indicates that you are more likely to survive a fire if your bedroom door is closed.

That’s the reason why firefighters say you should install a detector outside of every bedroom, not just inside. If a fire breaks out outside your bedroom, you want to be awakened by a smoke detector, not actual smoke. Keeping your door closed gives you extra time in a smoke-free environment to escape a house fire.

4. Set up an exit plan

All members of the house should decide on an exit plan for each of their bedrooms. If you can get up and get out the normal way, through a front or back door, then take that route. Remember: If the door handle is hot, do not open the door. If flames or smoke block your path, you need to exit through your window.

Escape plans help children understand how to get out of their house in case of an emergency. Photo by LOGAN WEAVER on Unsplash

Everyone should practice the plan and be familiar with it. Write the plan down and practice it when you change smoke detector batteries.

Your family should have a meeting spot outside – such as across the street, a tree or mailbox – where everyone should go once they escape.

5. Purchase a fire ladder

If you live on the second floor of a building or higher, you may need to purchase a fire ladder to safely escape through your window. These ladders can be rope or chain ladders with steps made of plastic or metal. You can purchase these at most home repair stores and online. They are already put together and ready to use.

Look for an Underwriters Laboratories (which is a global safety certification company) listed brand to purchase. Read the instructions that come with the ladder and be familiar with how to use it.

6. Exit first, then call 911

The time to call 911 is after you have exited your house. Once you are out of your house, you call tell the 911 dispatcher the exact location and any other information they may ask you for. The dispatcher may also want you to stay on the line until the fire department arrives – something you can’t do if you’re in a burning home.

7. Never re-enter a burning home

If your house is on fire, never reenter it for any reason until the firefighters say it is safe to do so.

I once investigated a case where a mother went back into the burning house to find her other children, and her toddler followed her. While the mom made it back out, the toddler did not. Your life is important. Let the firefighters handle the rescues.

8. Never leave a burning candle in a room by itself

If you light a candle and forget about it, it may cause a fire. This happens more often than most realize. In 2018, there were 7,500 candle fires in the U.S. In 16% of the candle fires, the candles were unattended or abandoned.

Be especially careful with candles during the holidays, which are the peak time for candle fires. This is because candles are often too close to holiday decorations, which can easily catch fire.

9. Don’t sleep with space heaters

One of the leading causes of fire death is home heating. “A vast majority of home heating fire deaths (81%) involved stationary or portable space heaters,” a 2021 home heating fire report states. “Over half (54%) of the home heating fire deaths were caused by having heating equipment too close to things that can burn, such as upholstered furniture, clothing, mattress, or bedding.”

While technology in space heaters has improved over the past 20 years, never leave a radiant space heater unattended and never fall asleep with one on. I once had to tell a 9-year-old boy, two days after Christmas, that he lost his mother, father and sister in a fire that started because of a radiant space heater. One of the children’s blankets came in contact with the heater and started the fire. When possible, you should rely on the normal heating system for the home. Use space heaters with caution.

10. Get a fire extinguisher

The ideal extinguisher for the home is the multipurpose type that can put out fires of all different types, like electrical and liquid. These extinguishers are small enough that they can be easily handled and can extinguish or stall the fire until firefighters arrive. Familiarize yourself with how it operates prior to needing it for an emergency.

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Experts disagree on whether young children should be trained on how to operate a fire extinguisher. The National Fire Protection Association, for example, says children should just focus on getting out of the home because they may not be able to handle a fire extinguisher or know how to react if the fire still spreads. A Detroit power company, however, says children from age 6 to 13 can be trained to operate a fire extinguisher as long as they can lift it and hold it.

Just like smoke detectors, you also should check your fire extinguishers twice a year to see that they are pressurized and functional.

If practiced as a family, following these simple steps could make the difference between whether you escape a house fire or become the next statistic.

Mark R Lambert, Asst. Clinical Professor/Director West Virginia University-Fire Service Extension, West Virginia University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Putting Millions of Books in Kids Hands

Putting Millions of Books in Kids Hands

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library provides free books to children from birth to age five to inspire a love of reading. It is funded by Dolly Parton and local community partners in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and Republic of Ireland. Dolly was inspired by her father’s inability to read. Dolly started her Imagination Library in 1995 for the children within her home county. Today, her Imagination Library is in five countries and mails free, high-quality books to children from birth to age five, no matter their family’s income. Over 1 million books are gifted each month to children around the world.

Photo by Ismail Salad Osman Hajji dirir on Unsplash
Add more voices to Speech Recognition

Add more voices to Speech Recognition

As one whose voice is frequently not understood by speech recognition technology, I applaud the Mozilla Common Voice project which aims to add more voices, more languages, and more pronunciations from around the globe. Its goal is to teach computers how real people speak.

Mozilla Common Voice

An article in PC Magazine quotes says Mark Surman, Executive Director at Mozilla, “Mozilla Common Voice is an ambitious, open-source initiative aimed at democratizing and diversifying voice technology. Common Voice enables people to donate their voices to a free and publicly available database that startups, researchers, and developers can then use to train voice-enabled apps, products, and services.” 

You can help by clicking here and adding your voice by reading preset sentences to increase the database of different voices.

Don’t want to speak? You can also help by validating the voice clips others have recorded.