Monday, March 30, 2009

Return to Sender

One of the best inventions ever, they're made to make life easier - write your (short) note and put it where you need it. If you go digital, though, where you need it isn't always on your computer. For example, what good is my grocery list on my virtual desktop?

That's where the Notes area on my phone comes in - totally indispensable, since it automatically comes with me everywhere. Even better if you can check email on your phone - just type up a list and send it to yourself (or even take a digital photo of, say, a wine bottle you want to match up).

Works for work too - emailing a reminder to yourself (in the sub line) puts it back into your attention queue automatically, and when you're done, I have to say that deleting it is just as satisfying as crossing a chore off your list with a pen. There's also the magical whiteboard

Daily Tip found on

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Internet Article-Based Ads Grab More Clicks

According to a new national study by Opinion Research Corporation, sponsored by Adfusion, American consumers say articles that include brand information is the type of online advertising they're most likely to read and act upon, compared to banner ads, pop-up ads, email offers or sponsored links, according to a new survey.

Favorable Response to Advertising

Type of Advertisement

% Saying Very or Somewhat Likely to Respond

Articles that include brand information


Email offers


Sponsored search engine links


Banner ads


Pop-up ads


Source: Adfusion, March 2009

According to the survey, 67% of people between the ages of 18 and 24, and 56% of those making at least $75,000 per year say they are "very likely" or "somewhat likely" to read and act upon article-based advertising. Pop-up ads were least likely to be read or acted upon.

When asked how frequently they conduct Internet searches for products or services they read about in online articles, half the respondents said "very frequently" or "somewhat frequently." 69% of 18-to-24-year-olds said they were likely to conduct a search for products or services based on an article, and 57% of those making more than $75,000 per year expressed their likelihood to perform a search, says the report.

Additional data included in the survey:

  • 87% of survey respondents said they were not very likely or not at all likely to read and act upon pop-up ads
  • 56% of households containing three or more people said they are very likely or somewhat likely to read and act upon articles that include brand information.
  • 62% of households with 13 to 17 year-old children said they are very likely or somewhat likely to read and act upon articles that include brand information
  • 52% of college graduates said they conduct Internet searches for products or services they read about in online articles either very frequently or somewhat frequently

Scott Severson, ARAnet president, concludes that. "A key finding for marketers is that... more than two-thirds of the respondents between 18 and 34 said they conduct Internet searches for products or services they read about in online articles... compared to banner ads or other options, people respond better when they can read an article, evaluate it, and then decide to click through... "

(The survey presents the findings of a sample of 1,074 adults comprising 520 men and 554 women 18 years of age and older, completed on March 9-10, 2009)

For more information, and to access the PDF file from ARAnet, please visit here.

Article found on

Friday, March 20, 2009

7 Ways to Get Rid of Unwanted DVDs

Get something thing back when you get rid of something you didn't even want.

How many of us woke up this Christmas to find our stockings needlessly stuffed with horrible DVDs such as Ghost Dad, Gone Fishing, The Happening, Weekend at Bernie's or, the infamous "worst movie ever" Ballistic: Ecks Vs. Sever? These movies were probably purchased out of a pharmacy dump bin for $2.99-$4.99 and cleverly placed into your stocking as some sort of filler.

Of course, not all movies are as bad as those listed above. If you're fussy like me, you may not like or want most of the movies you receive. And some movies may be positively embarrassing to place in your collection. "How can you consider yourself a Kubrick fan if you own a copy of Dunston Checks In?" your friends will inevitably ask. And you will sigh, posture slumping and say, "My mom bought it for me because I liked monkeys as a kid."

Unwanted DVDs and the Environment

Putting something back in circulation is better than hoarding it or tossing it into a hole somewhere. When someone buys a used copy, it cuts down on the new copies that need to be made by one. When 1,000 people do it, it cuts down on the new copies by 1,000. In order for people to buy used, someone has to sell used. Get it?

There are several ways to get rid of those DVDs in a way that profits you to some extent. (I can't promise that anyone will take Ballistic: Ecks Vs. Sever off your hands. You may have to re-gift that at your own risk. ) If you're looking to become some sort of used DVD millionaire, you are looking in the wrong place. But if you're looking for store credit, cash or tax breaks, you've come to the right place.

  1. Online Buy Back
    Bre Software has an online buy back system. They offer a whopping 12 cents for Ballistic: Ecks Vs. Sever.

    BuyBack Madness is another online DVD buyback site. They won't take Ballistic: Ecks Vs. Sever, but they do pay a bit more for good movies than Bre.

  2. Sell your DVDs yourself
    You can list them on Ebay or sell them on Craigslist for whatever you think you can get for them.

  3. Trade at Brick and Mortar Stores
    I used to trade my DVDs for store credit at Babbages at the mall. There was this one time, however, where I brought in my stack of unwanted Christmas DVDs, all of them still wrapped in the cellophane. The clerk wouldn't take my DVDs. He wasn't allowed to take DVDs still wrapped in cellophane, cause I might have stolen them from Suncoast Video.

    "So what's stopping me from stealing some DVDs from Suncoast and taking off the cellophane before I bring them here next time?" I asked the clerk.

    "I don't know." he said.

    And that was that.

    The Lesson: Call ahead and ask if you have to remove the cellophane before you try and trade in your DVDs for store credit.

  4. Donate Your DVDs to Libraries
    You can donate your DVDs to libraries and get a tax credit.

  5. Donate to Videos for Voices
    Donate your unwanted to DVDs to Videos for Voices. This organization helps children with apraxia, a motor-planning speech disorder. You can get a little tax credit for your good deed.

  6. DVDs for Soldiers
    Donate your old DVDs to veterans. Or you can donate to Operation Showtime and support the troops still in the service. The choice is yours. Please be kind to the troops and send them watchable movies.

  7. Goodwill
    You can donate DVDs to your local Goodwill and rake in the tax cred.
By Josh Peterson
Los Angeles, CA, USA found on

Monday, March 16, 2009

7 Greenest Spring Break Trips

by Blythe Copeland, Great Neck, New York on 03.11.09Photo via joiseyshowaa @ flickr

For most people, spring break conjures up memories (or expectations) of beaches, beer, and--if MTV is your source--lots of bikinis. And while there’s nothing wrong with collecting your best friends and heading out for a week of partying, greener alternatives abound. No matter what kind of break you had in mind (A beach-side bacchanalia? A week of sunning yourself on the sand?), or where your academic interests lie (Love science? Can’t get enough nature?), or what you like to do in your spare time (Cook? Hike?), we’ve found the perfect eco-friendly trip. Read on for everything from hotels with minimal carbon footprints to volunteer organizations that let you make a hands-on environmental impact--and don't worry: We included some bikini-friendly locations, too.

1. For the Study-Abroad Student: Ard Nahoo Eco Cabins, Dromahair, Ireland

Photo via catsper @ flickr

If you’ve already made your way across the pond for a semester in London, Rome, Paris, or Madrid, gather some friends and celebrate your spring break at the Ard Nahoo Eco Cabins in Dromahair, Ireland. Each sustainable-ceder cabin sleeps four to seven people in a space kept warm with hemp insulation and pellet stoves, where the electricity comes from wind power and even the paint is natural. Keep yourself occupied with massages and yoga classes, or sign up for one of the multi-day ecological, detox, or yoga retreats. (Via National Geographic)

2. For the Outdoorsy Type: EcoCamp in Patagonia, Chile

eco camp chile spring break photo

Photo via EcoCamp

Maybe you’re the kind who just doesn’t think it’s a vacation unless you have plenty of time to get in touch with nature--and if that’s the case, then book a stay at EcoCamp in Patagonia, Chile. You’ll stay in domes inspired by the nomadic Kawesqar people; the accommodations are big on gorgeous views of the surroundings and the starry skies, but not so into modern amenities (think running water, but no television). From there, you’ll spend your days hiking, horseback riding, kayaking, or just strolling through the Torres del Paine national park’s glaciers, lakes, and mountains. (Via Forbes Traveler)

3. For the Beach Bum: Guludo Beach Resort, Mozambique

guludo beach resort eco travel photo

Photo via Guludo Beach Resort

Skip the generic oceanfront condo in Cabo and instead spend your days off on the pristine beaches of Mozambique at the Guludo Beach Lodge. The eco-friendly beachfront accommodations--known as bandas--were built by locals as part of the Lodge’s effort to bring the surrounding community out of poverty; of course, when you’re watching the sunrise from the comfort of your king-sized bed, you may not be thinking about them that carefully. Elsewhere on the property, take advantage of scuba diving spots, get your PADI Dive certification, enjoy a sunset sail, or go whale watching.

4. For the Party Kid: Miami, Florida

miami spring break photo

Photo via joiseyshowaa @ flickr

No city says party like Miami, Florida, so if all you want from your spring break is cocktails, warm weather, and skimpy bathing suits, it’s the perfect destination. Of course, you can still travel green while you’re there: Take advantage of the city’s public transportation instead of shelling out for taxis; stay at an eco-friendly hotel--like Comfort Suites Miami--that minimizes water use with low-flow showerheads; and fuel up for nights on the town with local, organic food from neighborhood restaurants like Michael’s Genuine Food and Drink or Gourmet Carrot.

5. For the Science Junkie: The Earthwatch Expedition, Canada

earthwatch trip artic photo
Photo via Earthwatch

Get out of the lab for the week without giving up your passion for science with an Earthwatch expedition that lets you study climate change in the Arctic’s tundra and forests. At the Churchill Northern Studies Center in the Hudson Bay Lowlands in Canada, guests study growth rings in trees, permafrost, ice crystals, and snowpack thickness--and while you’ll sleep in dorm-style rooms at the Center, you’ll also learn how to build an igloo that stays warm at temps as low as -40 Celsius.

6. For the Foodie: Organic Farming Through World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms

organic farming volunteer photo
Photo via Ron1478 @ flickr

Get in touch with the land--and your food--by volunteering through World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF), which pairs aspiring foodies or farmers with organic growers all over the world; think Belize, Canada, France, Germany, Brazil, Turkey, Sierra Leone, Nepal, Australia, and many others. In most cases you’ll live with the family that runs the farm, trading long days and hard work for an intimate look at the culture and organic food processes of the country you’re visiting.

7. For the Volunteer:

colorado trail photo
Photo via indigoprime @ flickr

Spending your spring break giving back to your community (or to a larger organization) may not be as relaxing as swimming and sunning yourself in Miami, but it looks better on a resume. Love animals? Work with Biosphere Expeditions to protect snow leopards in Asia. Are you an experienced scuba diver? Help Coral Cay Conservation track the effect of global warming on Caribbean reefs. Love nature? Sign up for a Colorado Trail Volunteer Crew, where you’ll help keep the 500-mile-long path in pristine condition. All of these organizations--and many others found at you leave the environment better than you found it, which trumps even the biggest spring break party.

More Green Travel Ideas
Eco-Friendly Travel
Green City Guides
Happy Trails: Green Travel Blogs Pick Their Top Eco Destinations
How to Go Green: Skiing and Snowboarding
The Top 7 Greenest Ski Destinations in the U.S.
How to Go Green: Spring Break

Found on

Friday, March 13, 2009

Did you leave us with the short straw?

The Bite:
Fine by us, as long as it's reusable. Glass and stainless steel drinking straws add garbage-free class to your glass, even if you get stuck sucking down a cuppa SunnyD.
The Benefits:
  • Fewer fistfuls of trash. Most disposable straws are made from polypropylene (so you can recycle them), but remember: plastic never fully biodegrades, so generally just try to avoid it.
  • Shorter bills; not-so-short lifetimes. At about $5 per box of 50, straws aren't superexpensive, but reusable options will pretty much last forever.
Personally Speaking:
Jen (co-founder and a bit of a klutz) uses stainless steel 'cuz she's afraid she'll break the glass ones. But Jenifer (editorial director and amateur ballerina) prefers the "see-through-ness" of glass, and after three months, hasn’t broken one yet.
Wanna Try:

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

What's the honest-to-goodness best way to wash your produce?

The Bite:
Use water and white vinegar - no lie. A few squirts on your fruits and veggies gets rid of the nasty stuff (like pesticide residue) that you don't want - no store-bought washes necessary. Sincerely yours, Ideal Bite.
The Benefits:
  • Brushing bugs under the rug. A diluted vinegar rinse kills 98% of bacteria on produce - researchers found it works even better than a scrub brush.
  • Cash savings you can believe in. Water and vinegar rinses cost just pennies; the premade washes we found cost $4 and up.
  • It's a simple truth: Buying plastic bottles of produce wash means having to recycle them too (not to mention the energy and materials needed to make and ship them in the first place) - you'll still need to buy bottles of vinegar, but you'll buy fewer of them.
Personally Speaking:
Some of us who happen to have white vinegar in our pantries actually have no idea how it got there. Now we've got a use for it…
Wanna Try:
  • Mix water to white vinegar 3:1 in a spray bottle (if you've already got a bottle of the premade stuff, use it up and reuse the sprayer). Rinse with water after you spray. Yes, it's that easy.
Tip found on

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Are you gunning for the forest every time you use an ATM?

The Bite:
Maybe, since the number of trees that go to making receipts is just plain criminal. Hold up on requesting a receipt at the ATM, gas pump, checkout stand, and anywhere else where you have the choice, ski mask or not.
The Benefits:
  • Less eco-thievery. Receipts from the 8 billion U.S. ATM transactions each year create a lotta waste - and most end up in the trash.
  • Not robbing yourself of time. You can view all your transactions on your bank's website, and some stores, such as Apple, will send an e-receipt to your email - ├╝berconvenient.
  • Peace of mind. Misplaced receipts can help thieves steal your identity.
Personally Speaking:
Wallets stuffed with receipts give the illusion of more cash, and personally, we can't afford to be any more deluded about our spending reserves than we already are.
Wanna Try:
  • Just say (or press) no.