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Less is More

June 28, 2010

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There’s a lot to be said about the simplicity movement that’s recently been entering blog discussions, but today’s post is all about a campaign that started a few days ago–one that really challenges our definition of who we are, what we use, and the issue we can have with “stuff.”

Think about your closet.  Is it pretty full?  Are there items that just sit there waiting to be worn again but probably won’t pass the 12 month test? Now think about the idea of going for a month wearing no more than six items.  Six Items or Less is a global experiment examining the power of what we don’t wear. The campaign is based on going for 30 days with only six items of clothing.  People are blogging about it and following the movement on twitter.  I ran across this story in GOOD magazine, a challenging, motivating, and intelligent look at what people are doing collectively to make a positive difference for our environment.  The story caught my eye because there is so much validity to the challenge..and because I’m not sure I could do it.  How’s that for admitting my big ol’ bite of humble pie?

Here are some of the bennies:

  • Simplifies the day–less hassle. I mean really, it’s liberating to think about not thinking about what to wear.
  • Challenges us to appreciate what we have as well as what others don’t.
  • Is a bit “in your face” to the fashion industry.  Can’t we define ourselves by who we are?
  • Gives us an opportunity to evaluate our “stuff” and give away what we don’t really use.

At edot, we’re big supporters of giving back and donating.  Since I’ve admitted that I’m not sure I can do it..I’m going to give it a try.  We love this concept because Six Items or Less challenges you to think beyond what we currently consider important to what really is important.  Even if you didn’t sign up in time to join this round, you can still try the idea and blog about it.  You could even encourage a group of friends to give it a try and donate clothes that you don’t really need to a local shelter or Goodwill. And during the process you will be earning more dots for your edot account by donating items, so there’s even more of a reason to go for it!

What’s (your thing) not to wear?

Just Read It!

June 23, 2010

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Like many of our edotters, I love to read.  Fiction, nonfiction, blogs, magazines…you name it, I’ll read it.  A few weeks ago, when we were updating our categories on the edot site, we received a suggestion that we award “dots” for downloading an ebook.

I have to admit, I struggled with the request.  Not because I don’t like downloading books–a quick look at my Amazon account will show otherwise.  I read on my phone, my Kindle, my computer..pretty much anywhere I can.  But I also love the feeling of pages in my hands and the tangible goodness of a solid cover.  I dog-ear my pages, write in the margins, and pretty much attach myself to a book.

Then the angel on my other shoulder joined the conversation.  “Trees.”  “Oil.”  “Transportation costs.” I realized the irony of the moment when I found myself reading a section (in a paperback) about the transportation of food in Peter Singer’s The Ethics of What We Eat. Books are food for the mind.  No doubt.  So shouldn’t we consider the same costs to the environment?

Our objective at edot is not to become extremists but to encourage and help motivate each other to make small changes that collectively make a difference.  This doesn’t mean that every day should be a “meatless day” but that a decision to have a “Meatless Monday” does make an positive impact on the environment and global warming.  We don’t think hard copies of books are obsolete, but we do want to encourage people to consider a variety of alternative ways to help the environment.

Inspiring updates from Vittana!

June 10, 2010

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Early this morning I received a really exciting email from Vittana, which is one of the three micro-enterprise organizations edot will donate to when our edotters reach 500 dots.

Vittana partners with local microfinance organizations around the world to build student loan programs from the ground up, often providing the first and only access to college loans in the countries where we work.  That’s exciting!

Here are a few of the updates in the email from their CEO and Co-Founder, Kushal Chakrabarti.

“Several weeks ago, Vittana announced they’d just funded over $100,000 to students. Today, they announced that Vittana lenders had given over $200,000 in loans to hundreds of young people who want to become engineers, policemen, biologists and much more.”

Okay.  That got my attention, which is hard to do before the first cup of coffee has gone down the hatch.  I read more of the email and was really impressed with what followed.

“Just last week, the Clinton Global Initiative recognized Vittana for its work in bringing higher education loans to developing countries for the first time. Some of this is still under wraps, but I wanted to give you a preview of what’s to come — you’ll be seeing some very cool things come out of this partnership soon. In the meantime, we’ve also been getting some wonderful other press:

The punchline is that this amazing organization just celebrated its one year anniversary.  They have gone from dream to reality for so many college students in developing nations.

Vittana, thank you for the amazing work you are doing!

Welcome to Wiki Week!

June 7, 2010

It’s June, and we’re getting ready for some exciting updates to the site.  Jesse, our super human Ruby on Rails expert, will be working on site changes based on the feedback we’ve gotten from you.  A few to look forward to are:

  • The ability to comment after people post.  Sometimes people so such cool edot things and it would be great to be able to post a comment.
  • A ranking competition based on dots per category.  Who’s going to hold the title of “socially coolest” for a week?
  • Inviting friends within the site.  We’re not ready to do massive imports yet, but we’re working on ways to build friend communities on your edot page.
  • Autofill for things you do every day, like commuting, water bottles, etc.  You’ll still get to comment, but you won’t have to scroll the whole list.

Here’s where we’d love your thoughts. Since Jesse will be working behind the scenes, I’m going to work on categories.  What do you like so far?  Any ideas you haven’t seen yet? Post feedback here–we’re ready for it!

And thank you for the awesome edotting you’ve done so far.  It’s so inspiring to read what folk are up to!  For a quick look, click here!

No use crying over spilled oil?

May 28, 2010

Just doesn’t sound right, does it? At edot, we’re all about the little things…that’s the foundation of why we exist.  When I looked at the newspaper headlines this morning and saw another story on the oil spill, I have to admit that it really got to me.  Think about it.  You’re at home, you bump the table, and a glass of milk falls over.  You’ve “spilled” a glass of milk, and the implication is that it’s not a huge deal.  You’ll clean it up and move on.  But consider a truck that’s transporting milk. The truck springs a leak and we’ve dumped milk all over the place.

Why soften the oil mess by calling it a spill?  That’s such a nice, small, compact word, but the problem is, it’s not.  We can’t just clean the oil up, and the ramifications continue for years.

Our edotters have inspired this post, actually.  One of our active cycle commuters, @fbaum, posted this on the edot site and Twitter a few weeks ago: “If we all edot, our oil problems will be history.”  His point being that if we keep up the little things, we can make a difference.  Some new edotters from the World Vision Micro FB Fan page wrote about how often they are carpooling, and it was great to see their enthusiasm.  There’s a reason our commuting category is the one with the most dots–we know it makes a difference.

People say that you should vote with your dollars, but at edot, we say  vote with your actions and your voices.  The little things add up, and the more we post about it, the more we will motivate ourselves and others.

Not an edotter yet?  Click here to join the movement!

Do you walk to school or carry your lunch?

May 24, 2010

Pictured here: Hummus and red/orange peppers, veggie sandwich on artisan bread, organic pear, and water.

Work, lunch, work. Repeat x 5.  Now try this: Work, lunch work.  Repeat times $10.  $50 a week x 4 weeks?  What can you do with $200?

One of our edot options under “eco-reuse” is using a lunch container that can be, well, re-used. The implication is that you’re going to make a lunch to take to work, so let’s talk about that.  Here’s a few reasons why people don’t:

1.  It takes too much time and planning.  Biggest myth ever. The reality is that lunch can be a simple or complex as you want it to be.  Think about the time it takes to go somewhere for lunch.  Making lunch at home is a matter of grabbing leftovers or making a sandwich.

2. I don’t have a fridge/microwave at work.  Pack simply.  In theory, lunch is somewhere between 4-6 hours after you leave the house, right?  Get an insultated lunch box/bag or thermos.  You’re good.

3. Booooring! Not so much.  By using a fraction of the money you would spending by fast/prepared food, you can buy some really nice additions to your lunch.  Fresh bread, your favorite organic produce, a dessert…hmmm.

4. I don’t want to use plastic/paper bags.  There are so many options out there now.  It’s actually socially cool to have a retro lunchbox.  The sandwich wrapper pictured above doubles as a placemat and washes in a snap.

5.  I don’t want to eat at my desk. Then don’t! Go to a park, a friend’s desk, etc.  Enjoy your break…and if you don’t have time for a break, at least you know you’ve got awesome food to get you through the day.

This is one of the easiest lifestyle changes to make. You can earn dots on the edot site, help the environment and your wallet at the same time.  What’s not to love?  Feel free to add your personal tips in the comment area below!

From Cycling to ReCycling

May 21, 2010

Here at edot, we LOVE May.  Why?  it’s Bike to Work month (or if you speak Twitter it’s #biketowork or #beatthebus) This morning, Seattle kicked off the official “Bike to Work” day and there were cyclists everywhere–it was an awesome thing to see and do!

One thing that we really appreciate at edot is companies who take ownership for initiatives like this, such as F5 Networks, an impressive tech company in Seattle that promotes this idea from the inside.  They deserve a shout-out and recognition from all of us who give a tweet about the environment and healthy lifestyles.

Click the image for the F5 Networks "Bike to Work" story.

Another shout-out today goes to the amazing folks at Bikehugger.  Yesterday they put on an IgNite-style segment at the Webvisions conference in Portland called The (un)wired Future of Bikes.  We presented edot to the community there from the perspective of a cyclist and received an awesome response.

The edot lifestyle is growing because of people like F5 Networks and Bikehugger, and all of you who care about what you do and want to see how we can make a difference locally and globally.

May you always have a tailwind!