Forgot about Drug Take Back Day? Don’t panic

Photo by Julie Viken on

Ok, so you forgot about Drug Take Back Day last month. Now you’re staring at a bunch of pills, thinking you’re going to have to store these until the next drop off day in October? As the title says, Don’t Panic? There’s more options now than there used to be.

The official Drug Take Back Day usually is held in April and October. For a long time, that really was your only chance to safely dispose of expired, excess prescription medication for free. However, that changed because of an unfortunate perfect storm, comprised of accidental consumption of pills by kids, the opioid epidemic, and a growing concern over groundwater contamination. Now there’s more than one convenient way to get this job taken care of. Whichever of the options below you choose, just remember to either remove your personal info from the bottle, or use a sharpie to cover it up, before you drop it off!

  1. Pharmacies: Many local pharmacies now have dropped off containers for prescription drugs that are no longer needed. They generally look a little like a postal mailbox, but instead of being blue they’re silver.
  2. Mail option: if your pharmacy doesn’t have the silver container, then ask them if they have the free mail-in pouches. Now, be careful, because sometimes they’ll direct you to a shelf were there’s a mail-in pouch that you’ll have to pay for. Don’t settle for that, ask again for the free one. They’re usually set out by the pharmacy counter for people to grasp, or you might have to ask for one from behind the counter.
  3. Doctor’s office: This one is more of a long shot, but sometimes they might have it, so ask just in case.
  4. Police stations: Many police stations now have the silver drop off bins to. You didn’t even have to talk to anyone about it, you just go in, and drop you bag in the slot, and go.
  5. Community events: Sometimes, you can find drug awareness events going on in your community, There will usually be a drop off location set up at the heart of the event, which will be surrounded by activities and info booths. These are usually held in school parking lots, or local parks. Just keep an eye out for signs posted around town.

Happy Earth Day 2023

Photo by Cup of Couple on

It’s back again. Earth Day is this weekend, and yet you wouldn’t know it from the lack of hype revolving around this super important day. After the last couple of years, it seems that in many places, Earth Day has been pushed even further out of mind than ever before. Sure, the corporations and retailers of the world are taking advantage of the opportunity to talk about how green they are. However, there seems to be precious few community events at all. If you are determined, as I am, to not let that stop you from celebrating this day anyway, here are a few ways that might be available for you to get your green on.

  1. Check in with your local garden center. Earth Day weekend is often utilized as a great time to encourage people to start their gardens. Many garden centers will be offering free gardening classes, as well as sales to help get you started. If you’re new to the garden thing, may I suggest starting small (perhaps with containers), and pick heathy looking plants (and leave the seed option till you’ve developed your green thumb a bit). If you happen to live near an Armstrong Garden Center, then you’re in luck, as in addition to the gardening class on offer this weekend, they’re also giving away free lady bugs with any purchase.
  2. If you’ve read my column before, then you know I love a good library. Many local branches will earn that praise this coming week, as they are usually the best option for finding free Earth Day activities. What’s on tap this week will usually include such fan favorites as Eco friendly kids activities, Earth Day themed movie showings, and some will even be sponsoring Earth Day faires. Check in with your librarian to see what they have planned.
  3. Several cities will be sponsoring neighborhood eco-waste events this weekend too. Most of these are free, but double check if the signs don’t explicitly state that! Take the opportunity to correctly dispose of unwanted electronics. You’ll reduce your clutter, while making sure nothing bad comes from anything you’re ready to get rid of. Many component get properly recycled, repurposed, and/,or reused this way.
  4. Finally, if you can’t find anything of interest around where you live, you can always organize something yourself. One app that can help you with putting together a neighborhood clean-up is Clean Swell. If you’ve ever done a beach clean-up then you might have already heard of this, as many organizers have started using it to record their participants’ progress. However, you can use it as a private individual too, and it’s free. I couldn’t get to any of the larger group clean-ups in the Fall, so I used Clean Swell for the first time to put together a small group closer to home. It was easy, and didn’t take long at all to set up. You can even do a local clean up for just you and your kids if you want. Just type in where you’re doing it, and then choose if you want to record as you go, or do what I did, and record it all at once at the end. The app keeps track of it either way, and you get to see your progress increase the more you participate.
  5. Whatever you choose, just make sure to have fun, and of course, remember why it’s called Earth Day in the first place. Happy Earth Day Everyone!

Is anyone listening to the UN’s latest warning?

Photo by Markus Spiske on

If you’ve been paying attention, then you might have heard that the U.N. has once again issued a warning about the climate crisis.

With so many of these announcements going out, and relatively little being done in response, one can’t help but wonder if anyone is even listening anymore.

The sad reality is that precious few are. Sure, we all hear it being said, but are we actually listening? There’s just so much noise right now to distract us. In the last couple of weeks alone there have been a couple of mass shootings, Russian troops are uping the fight in Ukraine, two banks had to be seized by the government, and the world is once again staring down the barrel of a looming recession.

Needless to say, most people are distracted right now. However, that doesn’t mean the climate issue can wait.

The only way to get the focus back, is to first refocus yourself. Make it a priority in your own life, and then make decisions with that in mind. This includes purchase choices, voting decisions, planning trips with an eco-friendly eye, and several others ways that might fit in your life. The change has to start and grow from you first though. I know that right now this won’t always be easy, but all you can do is hold true to your values, and then move forward from there.

Happy Spring Everyone.

How green is your favorite brand?

Barclays Asset & Sales Finance by Logomachy is licensed under CC-BY-SA 2.0

Everyone has a favorite brand. Be it a tennis shoe, makeup, or coffee brand, it doesn’t matter; life without it just wouldn’t be the same. So, what do you do when you’re not sure about just how green that company actually is? If you’re one of the growing number of people for whom this matters, then you need to do some research.

Yes, you can always Google it, sure. However, unless that company has had some major disaster, the results can be kinda murky.

One place to start is the company website. See what they’re claiming “officially” to be their green policy. Many corporate websites proudly put this info on display. Then you can compare this to the Google search results to see what overlaps.

Another reason a company might publicly proclaim what their eco status truly is, would be due to them having to tell their shareholders. If you specifically search for corporate finance info, that might give you a different perspective. For example, if you were looking into a mining company, their website might say they comply with all federal regulations; but their financial announcements to shareholders might talk about how the cost of that compliance, during a cleanup, was affecting their bottom line. Now you know there was an incident.

There are also watchdog groups out there that keep naughty-and-nice lists regarding corporate behavior. If you’re not sure how to go about doing these various types of searches, just check your local library. The librarians there have access to subscription databases, government documents, corporate histories, and can even help with choosing the right search terms. Sometimes it’s just a matter of know how to look that matters more than anything else.

As the saying goes, “seek and ye shall find.”

Three important reasons you shouldn’t get chickens right now.

Anyone who’s gone to the store lately knows that egg prices have gone through the roof. Now, we’ve all heard the reasons why (bird flu, price of feed has gone up, transport cost, etc.). However, this has led to yet another call for people to start getting chickens as a way to combat the price increase. For some, this might work. However, for the majority of people, it will definitely “NOT!”

Please don’t get me wrong, owning chickens can be a very rewarding experience, once again, for some. Having once owned chickens for several years, I can honestly say that I don’t regret the experience. It came with a big learning curve though, one that most people won’t be willing to experience. So, with that in mind, here are 3 reasons why this most likely won’t end well for anyone considering getting a household flock.

  1. It’s a nationwide shortage for a reason: Bird flu is thought to have impacted commercial flocks as wild bird populations migrated. So, once as they flew south, and then again as they made their way back up north. If the professional bird keepers couldn’t keep it out, what’s the likelihood that you can? Backyard flocks can, and do, get culled due to infection. (If you don’t know what culled is, google it, and then don’t get chickens)
  2. It’s not going to work the way you think it will: People often think that owning chickens will result in a ton of eggs overnight. News alert….it doesn’t! Depending on the breed you get, and their age. they may not produce for several months. Adding to that timeframe is the season. Especially in colder climates, the shorter days will cause lower, if not a completely stopped, egg production output. You might wind up spending more on feed and upkeep than you would have on store bought eggs.
  3. It’s not going to be as easy as you think either: If you’re envisioning a backyard inhabited by your low/no maintenance chickens, well get over it 😂. If you’re chickens are to thrive they’ll need 1) A safe, clean, and warm place to sleep (which you’ll have to build or buy). 2) They’ll need good feed (yes, they’ll eat bugs, and even some kitchen scraps, but you’re still going to have to feed them chicken feed Every Day!) 3) They’ll also need health care. Although chickens are pretty sturdy creatures, they do get injured and sick. You’re gonna have to cover the cost if things go wrong. All this can make homegrown eggs mighty expensive. Failure to dona good job with this care routine will mean your chickens will suffer, and that’s not fair to them.
  4. Bonus: Your yard will suddenly become a predator magnet. Coyotes, birds of prey, and even insects are all going to be interested in eating your birds. As their keeper, it’s up to you to make sure they don’t get a chance to succeed. This often proves to be very problematic, and sadly heartbreaking when it doesn’t work, especially if you have children.

Please consider thoroughly before bringing chickens, or any animal, into your life. The time and expenses shouldn’t be trivialized.

New year calls for new thinking

With each new year there’s always the hope that with the changing of the calendar, better things will be ahead. Then twelve months later we look back and lament over the fact nothing really changed. This year, perhaps a new way of thinking is in order.

Instead of thinking about how “everything” must change, perhaps reflect first on what you want to stay exactly the same. For example, are you happy with your current car? Then why constantly wish you had a new one? Unless you win one, wouldn’t getting a new car probably also mean getting a new loan to go with it? As accessories go, that is one of the more unpleasant ones.

Once you’re aware of all the nice things in your life that are worth keeping, then you can be better able to identify the things that truly do need to change. With so many indicators that the economy might be rough this year, maybe do a money self-check, and determine how to streamline your expenses? How many of those streaming services do you really use on a regular basis? Can any of them now be purchased as part of a bundle, or gotten free as a credit card or phone perk?

Baby steps may not seem like much at first, but collectively they can move you along to the change you want/need without causing the chaos that more radical steps can bring. Don’t get me wrong sometimes dramatic change is necessary, such as leaving an abusive relationship, or stopping drinking. However, not everything needs to be such as huge leap.

Also, those baby steps are often easier to keep up with, so the changes can become permanent. Take for example the needed to live a greener life. Starting down this path by changing everything you eat to new (and therefore unfamiliar) brands most likely won’t end well. You’ll get sick of the expense, miss your old favorite brands, and soon find yourself dropping the whole experiment. However, if you baby step your way into it, the changes can work. Start with swapping out regular for organic produce as sales pop up. Try one new brand of organic soup, and see if you like it. If you don’t, oh well it was only one thing, and next week you can try another. Doing this can actually result in more changes by years end than you might imagine, all without driving you crazy in the meantime.

Ultimately the important thing is that you keep trying, and don’t forget to celebrate your wins when they happen. Whatever changes you hope to make, remember you still have to be happy with you.

Happy New Year Everyone 🎉

Don’t forget to sign up at the library

Even little kids can join in on the fun. Photo by Salena Wakim

September is the designated National Library Card Sign Up month, and although the month is almost over, there’s still time to join.

Libraries take sign ups all year round of course, but it’s still a nice time to either get a new card, or reactivate your old one (yes, even your card has to periodically be renewed 😉).

What’s so special about now? Well, if you get everything set up now, then you’ll be all ready to participate in all the upcoming Holiday activities your local library has planned.

If you haven’t checked it out in awhile, then you may have been missing out, not only on all those new releases, but also on free cooking classes, contests, giveaways, and free seeds for your garden too.

Today’s libraries truly are community centers, with plenty to offer all ages. All you need to join in on it all, is that free library card, which the whole family can qualify for. So, check it out, and start enjoying all those additional perks!

Green Living Challenge

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

As we wrap up this heat-soaked July, and enter into a possibly even hotter August, a challenge is being issued to all of you who are taking refuge from these high temps.  Take a moment to re-evaluate what you’re doing to be green. Can you improve on anything, maybe add a little something to your repertoire?  Perhaps start by checking on what all you believe is recyclable.  Double check with your local trash company, you might just be surprised at what you find.  So many things  that people assume are recyclable, actually get rejected by the local waste management company.  Make sure that your efforts are going to be fruitful by updating your green living knowledge.  Challenge set, now go.

Esri is back in town!

Photo by cottonbro on

For a couple of years now, all conferences, and conventions, have either been canceled or moved online.  The consequence of this is similar to what we’ve experienced in other parts of our lives, it’s isolating.  When this happens with conferences though, that can mean a decline in idea sharing, and cooperative actions.  However, 2022 has seen a return to face-to-face gatherings for many of these organizations.  This is a bit of a double edge sword of course, as not everyone can safely return to such huge gatherings.  Luckily, not all organizers are oblivious to this fact, and some have made sure to continue to offer the virtual option for those of us who, for various reasons, can’t attend in person.  A great example of a blended event is actually currently underway in San Diego, the Esri User Conference.

This will be the first time that Esri has met in person in three years, a fact that Esri president Jack Dangermond mentioned in his plenary speech on Monday.  The overview that he gave during that speech was inspiring, showing the best of what can happen when we work together, and just what assistance that GIS can lend. 

If you thought that maps were only useful for getting around an unfamiliar city, think again.  The Esri UC allows a showcase for the true scope for the modern use of maps, and data analysis.  From conservation, to finding landmines in Ukraine, this technology is helping to address some of the world’s most urgent needs. Plus, by bringing all those who are working on these problems into the same space, Esri is also helping to facilitate future collaborations, and even more solutions to be worked out.

As the week progresses, and the various sessions play out, I’ll try to share some of that information with you’re here.  See you soon. 

Time to plan for the future you want see.

Photo by Belle Co on

The events of the past several months have been demoralizing at best. How to best move forward is now the question on everyone’s mind. The only advice that I can offer right now is to look to your own future first.

Why you ask? Well, if you don’t have a clear idea of what you want your future to look like, then how will you know what to fight for?

Make your plan, find others who share that dream, and then try to make those plans a reality.

Good luck to us all.