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Welcome to the Sonoma County Gazette ARCHIVE of PAST EDITIONS. Our NEW WEBSITE is up and running, so GazExtra is serving as your path to archived articles. Thanks for being part of our Sonoma County community...stay in touch...e-mail me - VESTA

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

MITZVAH MOMENTS - Easy New Year Resolutions

Have trouble keeping New Year’s Resolutions?
Here are some easy ones with great rewards.

• Click daily at and access five other charities. When joined with other people clicking daily, you can make a real difference in less than a minute. Last year clicking––and shopping––provided 72 million cups of food for the hungry, nearly 7600 mammograms for needy women, health care for nearly 1,000,000 children worldwide, over 500,000 books for underprivileged children, nearly 78 million bowls of food for needy animals, and preserved nearly 15,000 acres of land.

• Donate blood regularly. Every three seconds, someone needs blood. Although 5 million Americans need blood annually, less than 10% of those eligible donate. Now while helping save a life, you can improve your own health. A recent long-term study of more than 1,0000,0000 Scandinavian blood donors showed a possible link between donation and a lower risk of certain cancers (liver, lung, stomach, and throat) and a possible reduction in heart disease in men. While there aren’t yet results for women, donating can’t hurt their health––you get a mini-checkup including a blood pressure test each time you donate. Now you can schedule a donation online at either the blood bank or at a mobile blood drive; go to or call 707-545-1222.

• When you’re grocery shopping, buy something extra for the Redwood Empire Food Bank’s Winter Food Drive. With the economy in serious trouble, and unemployment rising, more people need the Food Bank’s help. REFB serves 60,000 people monthly, including 22,000 children and 9,000 seniors. Of the 18,8000 households they serve, 7,300 are working families. Drop foods in barrels at G&G Supermarkets, Longs, Lucky, Safeway, and Whole Foods or call 707-523-7900 for other locations.

You can’t separate one from the other. Global warming, water, fuel use, and electricity are all interwoven.

• Save water. We are now into our third drought year. Last spring was the driest in recorded history. From July 1st to January 1st, Sonoma County rainfall was only about 50% of normal. We appear to be in a “la Niña” weather pattern, with another dry spring on the way. Measurements of the water content in the Sierra snow pack are 83% of normal; unseasonably warm weather, an affect of global warming, could evaporate much of that. Drought isn’t the only factor affecting our water supplies. A growing population––partly from people moving here, but mostly from people born here who choose to stay here, new and expanding industries and agriculture, and protecting the salmon and steelhead runs, all mean we’ll need to conserve more water, all year around. With so little rain this winter, gardens still needs watering. Save water when you turn on the hot water tap in the shower or kitchen sink by capturing the cold water and using it to water plants. Start planning ahead for a dry summer––go to to view the Sonoma County Water Agency’s water saving CD.

• Save gas. The less gas we use, the less global warming, which also means we’ll have more water. Last year gas prices soared to nearly $5/gallon, and Americans responded by driving 100 billion less miles; gas consumption was down 3.2% in 2008. Prices dropped dramatically during the fall, but now they’ve bottomed out. The situation in the Middle East, OPEC reducing its output, a dispute between Russia and the Ukraine, and reduced refinery capacity all contributed to gas prices rising steadily since December. Also, Congress may increase the gasoline tax by 10 cents/gallon to offset the loss of funds for roads. So all the things we learned when gas prices were soaring still apply. And while we’re saving money and fossil fuels, we’re helping to reduce global warming. One idea––take public transit once a week. (See Patricia Dines’ column Ask EcoGirl on public transit experiences in this issue.)

• Save electricity. PGE has to purchase power from non-renewable sources in dry winters and when water supplies are low, because there’s not enough water for hydroelectric generation, so saving electricity means less fossil fuel will have to be burned. Unplug electronics and battery chargers when they’re not in use. If all Californians did this, it would be like taking 120,000 cars off the road. For other energy saving ideas go to