Tom’s of Maine Giving Back: 50 States for Good

Join Tom’s of Maine in supporting nonprofit organizations.

Celebrating grassroots goodness efforts nationwide is the ongoing mission of the Tom’s of Maine annual “50 States for Good” program. 50 States for Good is a national initiative to support the goodness behind grassroots community projects. Six organizations will share in a $150,000 sponsorship fund, including one organization that will be given $50,000!

The six winners will be determined by a public online vote starting in early August 2011. The organization with the most votes will receive $50,000 in sponsorship funding; five additional organizations will each receive $20,000. Each finalist, along with its project, will be showcased at the Tom’s of Maine Web site during the voting phase. Projects must be completed within six months of receiving funding.

The panel of judges will select 20 organizations doing great things in their communities to be voted on by you. In the meantime, here’s what you can do:

USA Today: Kindness, Charity, Philanthropy and Social Responsiblity

Did you know that USATODAY.com has a feature dedicated to giving back? How great right?  Check it out here Kindness: New ways we give and volunteer.
As the website says,
Kindness is your daily source of inspiration and guide to making a difference in fresh and exciting ways, no matter where you are. Each day, this site will unearth unique stories of giving with exclusive interviews, fresh takes on news stories, plenty of tips, and links to interesting resources.”

Reporter Christie Garton reports on philanthropic happenings around the world – from heroes helping victims of the Gulf Coast Oil Spill to cross country bike tours for charity. Get a daily dose of goodness at USAToday.com!

10 Everyday Ways to Protect the Planet.

In honor of Blog Action Day 2009 I wanted to offer some everyday actions any philanthropist can take to protect our planet!

There was a time when long-haired, peace-loving hippies were the only people that cared about the environment. Now, the issues surrounding global warming and climate change are on the minds of almost every person. The situation seems challenging, to say the least, and it is easy to get discouraged by the mountain of ways we seem to be harming our planet. But, take heart! Change is possible!

Little by little, things like reusing rainwater, recycling everything (and by everything , I mean every thing, not just cans and bottles) and teaching your kids to love the outdoors are all ways you can do your part. So, put on your priorities in place, grab some friends and get out there. Your planet needs you!

1) Plant a Tree. This is one of the oldest environmental tricks in the book but still one of the most effective. Trees absorb carbon dioxide for years to come, provide habitat for birds and small animals and encourage plant growth around it. Choosing a tree species that is native to your area is even better because they are more likely to thrive. For more information check out plantnative.org or wildflower.utexas.edu/plants/.

2) Nurture Nature. It’s never too early to teach your kids to love and respect the outdoors. Fond childhood memories of time spent camping, hiking, fishing, or really participating in any outdoor activity, are an excellent foundation upon which to build an eco-friendly life as an adult. Not only is outdoor activity good for your kids, it’s good for you. How much more fun is to hike in a real forest, with real hills rather than simulating them on a treadmill? It’s true, there tends not to be so many blackflies and mosquitoes in the gym but a few bites are but a small inconvenience compared to the fun you’ll have. Ecokids.ca and audubonintl.org/projects/kids/ are good places to go for more information on activities you can do with your kids.

3) Harvest Rainwater. Considering how often we get something for nothing, it’s a wonder that more people don’t take advantage of rainwater. All you need to do is set up a rain barrel or a simple gravity system that drains all the water from your eaves straight to the garden. Barrels are available inexpensively from many city councils as well as garden centers. Why not join the online rainwater harvest community at harvesth2o.com and see how others are getting involved.

4) Carpool. Millions of people drive over a hundred miles a day to work, alone in their car. What if everyone shared their car with at least one other person? Emissions would instantly be halved and the number of people picking their noses or starring in Pop Idol: Camry Edition show would be greatly reduced. When you look at it this way, carpooling is a public service in more than one way. To find a carpool location near you, see Erideshare.com and carpool.com (Canada) to get on board! You never know, Ray could end up being the only other person you’ve met who can sing all the songs from Labyrinth from memory.

5) Make a Compost Pile. It’s so easy it’s almost silly to explain it. All you need to do is take your compost and make a pile outside. After you’ve done that, composting is a one step process…you just add more compost. Done. For the uninitiated, compost is any organic waste and including vegetable matter, eggshells, tea dregs, fruit peels and paper towels. Meat is not recommended because it attracts rats and other pests. There are plenty of fancy compost boxes on the market, but all you really need is a sturdy bucket with a lid. An old garbage can will do the trick. Giving it a stir with a pitch fork every once in a while is helpful and if you’re really feeling gung-ho, you can add vermis worms to accelerate the decomposition. For more information, go on over recyclenow.org/r_composting_tips.html.

6) Proper battery Disposal. Long after your batteries have died, they go on to live another day in the landfill site, releasing harmful chemicals like mercury into the soil when they breakdown. Once this seepage builds up, it can contaminate the ground water. It’s not just your regular double As that are the problem. Cell phone batteries and those used in cordless power tools are all culprits. Recycling programs are available where batteries can be disposed of safely. The Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation at rbrc.org/call2recycle has information about recycling depots in your area. Don’t forget to take the bunny with you when you go. We’re all tired of him.

7) Telecommute. Imagine not having to rush out the door only to sit in traffic for an hour, fifty weeks a year for forty years only to do the same thing in reverse 8 hours later. That’s 20,000 hours of your life spent listening to inane morning radio shows and inhaling exhaust. With instant messaging, cheap long distance, do-it-yourself conference calls and that business stalwart email, with a little planning, it is entirely feasible for much of your work to be done from home. There are currently over 30 million Americans working from their homes at least one day a week and it is expected that this number will continue to rise. Need some help convincing your boss that telecommuting is the best thing since sliced bread? The Telework Coalition at telcoa.org has stats and benefit lists galore. Imagine….working in your favorite sweats. Now that’s living.

8) All Things Can Be Recycled….even motor oil! Research done by the American Petroleum Institute (recycleoil.org) indicates that just two gallons of recycled motor oil can generate enough electricity to run the average household for almost 24 hours. Imagine how low your energy bill would be if everyone recycled their oil? This is an idea that is really catching on and to date, there are more that 12,000 community-based oil-recycling programs across the country. Check with your local garage or auto parts store to see if they participate or visit earth911.org for more information.

Earth911 also has information about recycling hazardous household chemicals. Things like antifreeze, automotive batteries and fluids, fertilizers; ant, rodent and weed killers as well as household cleaning products all require specialized disposal to prevent them from leeching into the water table at the landfill. Many cities have annual household chemical clean-up days and specific drop-off points in city landfills.

9) Perform A Paper Audit. Choose a typical day and write down every bit of paper you use. You’ll be amazed at how much is wasted everyday. It’s true, paper can be recycled but the most efficient way to keep the Earth forested is to reduce the amount of paper you use altogether. Challenge your work mates to do an audit and then see if they can change their habits over the next month. Other suggestions include use a reusable bag to pack your lunch; opt for online billing; use cloth napkins; switch to thinner paper and, of course, recycle, recycle, recycle. For more ideas, check out the Cutting Paper website at eetd.lbl.gov/Paper/.

10) Don’t Be A Big Foot. Take the Ecological Footprint Quiz to discover the amount of ecologically productive land and water area it would take to sustain your current activities. Factors such as your use of energy, food provenance, number of car and plane trips and recycling practices are all taken into account. To find out how your current lifestyle choices are impacting the plane, go on over to earthday.net/footprint.