Friday, November 7, 2014

The Importance and Value of Trees

Since the beginning, trees have furnished us with two of life's essentials, food and oxygen. As we evolved, they provided additional necessities such as shelter, medicine, and tools. Today, their value continues to increase and more benefits of trees are being discovered as their role expands to satisfy the needs created by our modern lifestyles.

This article comes from:

Community and Social Value

Trees are an important part of every community. Our streets, parks, playgrounds and backyards are lined with trees that create a peaceful, aesthetically pleasing environment. Trees increase our quality of life by bringing natural elements and wildlife habitats into urban settings. We gather under the cool shade they provide during outdoor activities with family and friends. Many neighborhoods are also the home of very old trees that serve as historic landmarks and a great source of town pride.
In addition, architectural and engineering functions are served by your community's trees. They frame landscapes, create beautiful backgrounds and enhance building designs. Trees can provide privacy, emphasize beautiful views, and screen unsightly areas. Noise from roadways and other urban activities is muffled by well-placed trees that serve as sound barriers. As a matter of fact, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency states that trees can reduce bothersome noise by up to 50% and mask unwanted noises with pleasant, natural sounds. Using trees in cities to deflect the sunlight reduces the heat island effect caused by pavement and commercial buildings.

Ecological and Environmental Value

Trees contribute to their environment by providing oxygen, improving air quality, climate amelioration, conserving water, preserving soil, and supporting wildlife. During the process of photosynthesis, trees take in carbon dioxide and produce the oxygen we breathe. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, "One acre of forest absorbs six tons of carbon dioxide and puts out four tons of oxygen. This is enough to meet the annual needs of 18 people." Trees, shrubs and turf also filter air by removing dust and absorbing other pollutants like carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide. After trees intercept unhealthy particles, rain washes them to the ground.
Why Trees Are Important
Trees control climate by moderating the effects of the sun, rain and wind. Leaves absorb and filter the sun's radiant energy, keeping things cool in summer. Trees also preserve warmth by providing a screen from harsh wind. In addition to influencing wind speed and direction, they shield us from the downfall of rain, sleet and hail. Trees also lower the air temperature and reduce the heat intensity of the greenhouse effect by maintaining low levels of carbon dioxide.
Both above and below ground, trees are essential to the eco-systems in which they reside. Far reaching roots hold soil in place and fight erosion. Trees absorb and store rainwater which reduce runoff and sediment deposit after storms. This helps the ground water supply recharge, prevents the transport of chemicals into streams and prevents flooding. Fallen leaves make excellent compost that enriches soil.
Many animals, including elephants, koalas and giraffes eat leaves for nourishment. Flowers are eaten by monkeys, and nectar is a favorite of birds, bats and many insects. Animals also eat much of the same fruit that we enjoy This process helps disperse seeds over great distances. Of course, hundreds of living creatures call trees their home. Leaf-covered branches keep many animals, such as birds and squirrels, out of the reach of predators.

Personal and Spiritual Value

The main reason we like trees is because they are both beautiful and majestic. No two are alike. Different species display a seemingly endless variety of shapes, forms, textures and vibrant colors. Even individual trees vary their appearance throughout the course of the year as the seasons change. The strength, long lifespan and regal stature of trees give them a monument-like quality. Most of us react to the presence of trees with a pleasant, relaxed, comfortable feeling. In fact, many people plant trees as living memorials of life-changing events.
Trees help record the history of your family as they grow and develop alongside you and your kids. We often make an emotional connection with trees we plant or become personally attached to the ones that we see every day. These strong bonds are evidenced by the hundreds of groups and organizations across the country that go to great lengths to protect and save particularly large or historic trees from the dangers of modern development. How many of your childhood memories include the trees in your backyard or old neighborhood? The sentimental value of a special tree is simply immeasurable.

Practical and Commercial Value

Trees have supported and sustained life throughout our existence. They have a wide variety of practical and commercial uses. Wood was the very first fuel, and is still used for cooking and heating by about half of the world's population. Trees provide timber for building construction, furniture manufacture, tools, sporting equipment, and thousands of household items. Wood pulp is used to make paper.
We are all aware of apples, oranges and the countless other fruits and nuts provided by trees, as well as the tasty syrup of North American sugar maples. But did you know the bark of some trees can be made into cork and is a source of chemicals and medicines? Quinine and aspirin are both made from bark extracts. The inner bark of some trees contains latex, the main ingredient of rubber. How many more uses can you name?

Property Value and Economic Value

Why Trees Are Important
Individual trees and shrubs have value and contribute to savings, but it is the collective influence of a well-maintained landscape that makes a real economic impact and has the greatest effect on property value. Direct economic benefits come from a savings in energy costs. Cooling costs are reduced in a tree-shaded home, and heating costs lowered when a tree serves as a windbreak. According to the USDA Forest Service, "Trees properly placed around buildings can reduce air conditioning needs by 30% and save 20-50 percent in energy used for heating."
Property values of homes with well-maintained landscapes are up to 20% higher than others. Here are some eye-opening facts and statistics regarding the effect of healthy trees and shrubs:
  • Homes with "excellent" landscaping can expect a sale price 6-7% higher than equivalent houses with "good" landscaping. Improving "average" to "good" landscaping can result in a 4-5% increase.
    - Clemson University
  • Landscaping can bring a recovery value of 100-200% at selling time. (Kitchen remodeling brings 75-125%, bathroom remodeling 20-120%)
    - Money Magazine
  • A mature tree can have an appraised value between $1000 and $10,000.
    - Council of Tree and Landscape Appraisers
  • 99% of real estate appraisers concurred that landscaping enhances the sales appeal of real estate. 
    - Trendnomics, National Gardening Association
  • 98% of realtors believe that mature trees have a "strong or moderate impact" on the salability of homes listed for over $250,000 (83% believe the same for homes listed under $150,000).
    - American Forests, Arbor National Mortgage


No More Hunger Anywhere

I am repeating this blog post about hunger that I wrote awhile ago because this issue is so important to me. 

Please help feed the hungry in your community or around the world!

No More Hunger Anywhere.

Hunger is still the number one killer in our world today.

1/3 of the worlds hungry people live in India, and 5 Indians die every minute from hunger.

1.02 billion people around the globe do not have enough to eat.

Each and every year 15 million children die of hunger, over 16,000 children die every single day from hunger related causes.

More than 60% of the chronically hungry people on the planet are women.

This is simply unacceptable to me, and to most people on the planet I would imagine.

I have never been seriously hungry because, even during my times of greatest financial hardship, I had places and people to turn to for help.

However the majority of hungry people on earth today have nowhere to turn to, and no one to help them unless we do. You and I. Feeding hungry people, wherever and whenever we can. And without sermons or judgements. Just food to feed their hunger.

Can one person make a difference? Certainly to the people you bring food to, you may be the reason they did not go to sleep tonight crying from hunger. And that to me, is huge.

If you do nothing else, please donate a box or bag of food to your local food bank. There are hungry people, hungry children, in your city who are going to sleep with an empty belly unless someone like you helps them. Today.

Or you can click on the hunger sites.
You've got a computer and Internet connection, now use them for good and click everyday. One click brings food to hungry people around the world.

If you want to do even more, sponsor a starving child through one of the various programs that are helping around the world. I can recommend Food For The Poor, One Spirit, and The Box Project, just to name a few worthy organizations helping the needy.

Your efforts at eradicating hunger around the world, together with my efforts, and those of many more people around the world, can mean many hundreds of children and families will not suffer through another hungry and desperate year.

Food For The Poor | Helping the Poor, Charitable Giving, International Relief | Serving the Poorest of the Poor

Click to Give @ The Hunger Site

WFP | United Nations World Food Programme - Fighting Hunger Worldwide

One Spirit

Feeding America: Hunger-Relief Charity |

Welcome to LeSEA GLobal Feed The Hungry

The Box Project - Create a better tomorrow, make a difference today


17 Ways to Save Money on Groceries

I love to cook and I enjoy being frugal and I've learned through the years that you don't have to spend a lot to make delicious meals.

How to Save Money on Groceries 17 Ways

Food is one of the few things in a family budget that a person can control. It's not a fixed expense like rent or car payments. Instead you determine how much you spend on food and how that grocery money is spent. There are ways you can learn to spend less on food each month.

1. Set up a food budget and determine to stick to it, no matter what. A good suggestion is to start by spending 20% less than you currently do on food.

2. Make a detailed grocery list of all you need to buy before you ever leave the house. Include all the items you normally buy, all the items you've run out of, and any items that you know you'll be needing soon.
3. Eat something before you go shopping. Studies have shown that grocery shoppers average between 10% to 25% more money spent on groceries when they shop hungry.

4. Make arrangements to leave the kids at home. Again studies show you'll spend more when you bring the kids with you to the supermarket

5. Clip coupons only for items you normally buy.

6. Join a food co-op with your friends, family, neighbors, or co-workers, and purchase some of your food that way. You can save a lot by buying in bulk, and with a food co-op the expense is shared.

7. Pick a quiet, less-busy, time of the week to do your grocery shopping. You'll be less stressed and have more time to search out bargains and compare prices.

8. Grow a garden. Use what you grow. Eat what you can freshly picked, and then can, dehydrate, or freeze the rest.

9. Shop less. This is an old trick but it's a very effective one. You aren't spending money if you aren't in the grocery store. Shop twice a month, or once a week, or even once a month if you can manage that.

10. Bring only the exact amount of cash with you that you plan to spend on groceries this week. Leave your checkbook, credit cards, and debit cards at home. Again, this is effective because you can't spend money you haven't brought with you.

11. Determine to buy most, or all, of your personal items at the dollar store rather than the supermarkets. It's much cheaper. Or, make your own. This applies to household cleaners too, either make your own natural cleaners, or buy them cheaply at the dollar store.

12. Buy bread at a bakery thrift store, and shop at a salvage grocery store for real bargains on food. Also check out ethnic grocery stores for bargains on produce and spices, as well as other foods. You can even check out the food at the dollar store, or places like Walgreen for bargains.

13. Cut down on or eliminate paper products, soda, and empty calorie foods, (especially chemically-laden and sugary breakfast cereals for children), as well as all prepared foods. Buy real food, and make your own meals. By the same token, cut down on meat, dairy, and milk. We eat more of these products than is healthy as a rule anyway.

14. Buy the generic, or house brand, whenever you can. You'll save a lot with this tip alone.

15. Buy bulk foods and stock up, so you'll always have plenty of good, wholesome food in your house. Eat more beans and legumes, as well as fresh fruits and vegetables. Eat ethnic more often, these dishes are often inexpensive, healthier for you, and delicious.

16, Use the smaller size grocery cart whenever you can. The temptation to add items to the bigger carts can be huge. Grocery stores know this and are making their carts bigger all the time, just to trick you into buying more every shopping trip. Keep your eyes firmly pointed away from the "impulse items" located near the checkouts. And watch the register when your groceries are being checked out for errors. Sale items especially are often rung up incorrectly. Produce is too, as the codes for each kind are different and clerks make mistakes every day.

17. Don't waste or throw away any of the foods you buy. Try to avoid running out of items between shopping trips, but if you do, learn to substitute for whatever you're out of instead of making an unplanned trip to the store where, chances are, you'll buy more than just the item you ran out of. By careful planning and substitution you can avoid blowing your food budget this way.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Save Money in Unusual Ways

Save Money in Unusual Ways

Most of us know the common ways to save money by now but if you want to take things even further in your money saving program this article has some uncommon and unusual ways you could be saving money.

Take a buy nothing day or week once in awhile. This means for the entire time of the buy nothing break, you aren't allowed to buy anything new, or to go shopping.

Exceptions to the buy nothing time, besides your rent, utilities and other bills that must be paid each month,  might include paying for medicines, car repairs or other spending emergencies that might come up. 

You might also need to buy food if you run out of necessities; but don't buy food just because you're bored with what you have either. That too is unnecessary spending. Save the money you estimate you would have spent had you not been doing the buy nothing exercise.

A further refinement of the buy nothing idea is to select a time period where you don't buy anymore food, just eating out of your cupboards, and refrigerator stores. 
This has the further advantage of allowing you to know what you really prefer, and and what you may be buying too much of or wasting. 
Two weeks not buying any new food is a reasonable time, allowing you to save money by not going to the grocery store every few days. 

Of course you'll want to save, not spend,  the money you would have normally spent on groceries during the day or week you are on the "no buy" break. 

Go "shopping" in your own cupboards instead of buying more food 

Learn how to barter and how to glean. Barter involves trading something you own, or a service you do, for some service or goods that someone else has. 
Both people must be agreeable to whatever is being traded. There are barter sections on craigslist, and local barter groups in nearly every city. Contact them concerning the rules for bartering through them. 

If you prefer to go it alone, just offer to trade something to someone who has something you want. It won't always work out, but it will often enough that there will be a significant savings. Keep records for tax purposes of all your barter deals. 

barter for your needs

Gleaning means going to local farming fields and asking if you can glean, or pick, the food that is left in the fields or on the trees after the pickers have been through the fields. Many farmers would be more than happy to let you do this. Ask though, never pick anything without permission. 

Gleaning can also mean picking fruit or nuts from a neighbors tree or vegetables from their garden., if they don't want the produce. Ask around because often gardens are so prolific that your friends may be glad to give the food to you, rather than have it go to waste. 

gleaning garden produce

Freegans, or dumpster divers, find usable food that grocery stores have thrown out out in their dumpsters. Use common sense and never take anything like meat, but vegetables and fruits can be washed, and anything in cans should be safe enough.

Dumpsters, especially apartment dumpsters, often contain furniture, household items, perfectly good clothing and other items you can use or sell, or use to barter for what you need. 

Dumpster diving has the advantage of keeping waste from the landfills. A huge problem in every country, and totally unnecessary too. Check out Urban Dumpster Diver's Blog  and Secret Freegan to see how they helps many with their food rescue and dumpster diving skills.

food that Secret Freegan rescued & distributed to the needy

Cut one junk food from your diet per month. Junk food is expensive and eliminating it can save a chunk of change. Start with things like potato chips, soda pop, or sugary cereals. None of these things are very healthy for you and you'll be saving money each month. Don't substitute an equally costly junk food for the one you eliminated. Switch to water or fresh fruits as a snack for example.

Get furniture and other household goods for free through freecycle, or through the craigslists free section. You won't get your choice of styles or brands true, but you can't beat the price. You can also buy goods, at greatly reduced prices, through state auctions, federal auctions, and pawn shops.

Raise chickens for your egg needs if you have the room, and it isn't banned in your neighborhood. 
Chickens aren't noisy if you don't have a rooster, and you don't need one for eggs.

You can also raise vegetables on your balcony if you're a city dweller. You can get a lot of vegetables from a few carefully planned pots and containers. read gardening books from the library if you don't know anything about gardening.

Money & egg images are from Freefoto

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Donate School Supplies For Needy Kids

Some great tips for donating school supplies to needy kids from the Baptist On Mission Website:

The National Retail Federation 2010 found that the average American family spends more than $600 on back to school supplies, with about $100 spent on school supplies. For many families however, the beginning of a new school year is a financial burden on homeless and destitute children. You can help a child in need by collecting and delivering school supplies.


Decide which school or schoolchildren will receive the supplies. Consider sending the supplies overseas or needy schools in urban areas. Some church members or their families may be stationed in a war-torn country. Ask if the local schools there need supplies.
  • Contact the local school principal to find out what items are needed and how they should be assembled (in sets of in bulk).
  • Set a time, date and place to assemble the supplies. Try using a large hall in your church. Designate a drop-off location for the supplies.
  • Get the word out to recruit volunteers and get school supplies.
  • Collect school supplies. As parents shop for school supplies (in the beginning of the school year or during tax-free weekend), encourage each of them to shop for a couple additional children. Ask local businesses for donations, or if you could place donation boxes at their establishments. Here are some ideas:
    • Pens
    • No. 2 pencils and sharpeners
    • Erasers
    • Crayons
    • Water-based markers
    • Dull-tip scissors
    • Rulers
    • Index cards
    • Three-ring binders
    • Pocket folders
    • Notebooks
    • Calculators
    • Glue sticks
    • Pencil cases
    • paper towels
    • hand sanitizer
    • backpacks
    • Stapler
  • If collecting supplies to send overseas, here are some other ideas:
    • English alphabet flash cards
    • Number flash cards
    • Math problem flash cards
    • Small chalk boards and chalk
    • Pencils and sharpeners
    • Spiral bound notebooks
    • Maps of the world
    • Sticky putty to secure pictures on the wall
  • As donations come in, have volunteers to sort through the items.
  • On the day of the event, set up refreshments for volunteers. Because this event generally takes four to five hours, consider playing music in the background.
  • Organize an assembly line to help you pack efficiently. If requested/preferred, Pack supplies into the backpacks. 
  • Deliver and distribute the school supplies.

Here are a few places to donate school supplies:

Donate school supplies to Lakota Sioux at St. Joseph's Indian School

Donate School Supplies to Staten Islanders in Need

Kids In Need Foundation

School Supplies for Needy Children

Donate shoes and school supplies to Knoxville area students in need

Donate books to libraries in desperate need of books for their students. Consider, especially. a donation to a Native American reservation or school library as they are often seriously underfunded.


Free Stuff For Your Birthday

What's better than low-cost? How about no cost! Here's how to score the most phenomenal freebies at grocery stores, the movies, restaurants and more.

Here's a few examples of what you might get for free on your birthday. This list comes from the website:

Dairy Queen: Join their fan club and receive a free Blizzard on your birthday.
Del Taco: Join their Raving Fan eClub and receive a free premium shake on your birthday, plus two free Grilled Chicken Tacos just for signing up.
Denny's: Join their rewards club to receive a free Grand Slam on your birthday (includes two eggs, two slices of bacon, two sausage links and two pancakes).

Find more free stuff for your birthday by clicking the links below.