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Lessons From a Low-Impact Week

David Sirota, Truthdig
“Will you join me in lowering our impact?”

That was the subject line on a recent e-mail I sent out to family, friends, column readers and radio listeners asking them to join me for a week in trying to reduce our individual environmental footprint. Inspired by Colin Beaven’s prophetic book “No Impact Man,” I proposed four pollution- and waste-reducing steps many people could try for a few days: Stop consuming meat, devote one meal a day to eating only locally grown products, avoid producing non-recyclable garbage and refrain from riding in a fossil-fuel burning vehicle with fewer than three people.

Having now completed this Low-Impact Week, I can report that it was not easy and that I did not achieve perfection—not even close. However, I can also say I learned a few things beyond how to manage bicycle-seat discomfort.

For one, I discovered that you can find affordable food that isn’t flown in at great energy expense—but it takes initiative. You have to check food labels at the grocery or hunt down a farmers market.

I was also reminded that we waste an obscene amount of paper and plastic. Coffee cups, disposable utensils, food wrappers—this offal is everywhere and most of it is used for less than 15 minutes and then discarded. Avoiding this trash for a week makes you think about the monstrous amount of energy used in producing, distributing and tossing it.

When it came to transportation, I discovered that the inconvenience of eco-friendly choices can come with unforeseen benefits.

David Sirota is the author of the best-selling books “Hostile Takeover” and “The Uprising.” He hosts the morning show on AM760 in Colorado and blogs at
(27 August 2010)

Free Geek – Computers for the Community

Janaia Donaldson, Peak Moment blog

100818_freegeek_300.jpgWednesday, August 18, 2010. When Daniel Lerch said we just had to get a tour of Free Geek, I wasn’t sure this was Peak Moment show material. After the tour, I was sure. A few days later, Reuse Program Coordinator Alison Briggs gave us a tour of the huge busy facility.

Free Geek is a non-profit organization that accepts donations of used electrical equipment, mainly computers. An army of volunteers tests, refurbishes, reuses and recycles the parts.

In their Adoption program, 24 hours of volunteering enables the volunteer to receive a free computer running open source software (free to the public), 3 hours of training, and a year of free tech support.

In their Build program, volunteers learn how to build a computer. After building five computers for Free Geek, the sixth belongs to the volunteer. Finished computers are sold in the thrift shop, given to volunteers, and provided to other non-profits.

The place just bustled with activity! A huge warehouse full of lots of people getting the job done — sorting, testing, identifying reusable components, pulling apart recyclable materials, building computers, checking software.


I love it that people who might not otherwise be able to afford a computer have a way to get one. They’re empowered to learn for themselves rather than depending on specialists. A lot of waste is recycled responsibly and kept out of the landfills. The non-profit is self-sustaining. It’s run democratically (by committee; there is no Executive Director). What a great organizational model for environmental responsibility and social equity! (

(18 Aug 2010)