Earth Day Edition!

Happy Earth Day!

Yeah, I know it was yesterday, but better late than never, and it’s never a bad time to hug a tree.

So, what’s so grand about Earth Day? It seems everyone is trying to make this year’s Earth Day something bigger than a Tier Three Holidays has a right to be.

Tier Three Holidays? Let me explain.

Tier One Holidays are those that most folks in the U.S. take off on. These include the usual suspects, New Years, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and so on. Only federal workers and bankers take off on Tier Two Holidays, the rest of us toil away and gripe about not taking that job at the Post Office. The Feds get to take off on Veteran’s Day, President’s Day, Columbus Day, and a few others. (Your tax dollars at work.)

Then, we have the Tier Three Holidays. These are the ones that people celebrate, but don’t get any work time off to do so. Halloween is likely the most popular in this group, which also includes other well known observances like Arbor Day, April Fool’s Day, Mother’s Day, and St. Patrick’s Day, as well as lesser known, but somewhat popular holidays like Secretary’s Day (or is that Administrative Assistant’s Day?).

Finally, we have the Tier Four Holidays. These are the ones that few people know about, but are generally recognized as being holidays. These might include Susan B. Anthony Day, Sadie Hawkins Day, Stepfamily Day, and Patriot Day. There are others, I’m sure, but I’m one of those folks who don’t know about them.

I suppose there’s a Tier Five list as well that might include Beer Day, Organ Donor Day, Heimlich Maneuver Day, and Take Your Dog To Work Day. (I guess any cause can have a day.)

Anyway, Earth Day is a good one to celebrate because it focuses on matters that concern our little blue planet and how we have affected it and can affect it in the future. You don’t have to hug trees or believe in global warming to find cause to observe Earth Day; you just have to be concerned enough about your environment to want to affect it positively. For instance, recycling is generally considered to be a good thing to do, and I’m sure you fill your recycle bin diligently and put it out for collection when it’s due. You can use Earth Day as a reminder to check for any new recycling rules and options in your community. News rules often expand existing recycling programs and makes them more efficient, and efficiency saves money, time, and resources.

Earth Day is also a good day to remind yourself to make an effort to pay closer attention to the natural goodness around you. For instance, I was up very early this morning ( I tend to sleep about 4 to 6 hours a night) and I stepped outside while sipping my first cup of java. It was very peaceful, a cool, damp breeze made the oaks softly sigh, but no other sound could be heard. I was thinking that it couldn’t get much better than that moment when I glimpsed the trail of a falling star. Spielberg couldn’t have directed a better scene. I was outside for only a few minutes, but I came back in smiling and it made my day.

Of course, there are other ways to celebrate Earth Day and if you need a few suggestions you need look no further, I’ve got some freebies that are bound to help you go green.

Note: Normally I take some time to look through the apps I present on Free on iTunes, but due to other pressures and priorities I’ve only given these apps a very brief look. Please keep that in mind when considering them.

Earlier I mentioned recycling as a widely recognized green activity. Communities all over the country have recycling programs that do at least an OK job of prepping our recyclables. But, what if you need information about how to safely recycle florescent tubes or old CRTs? Local governments can sometimes make it hard to find out the data you need, and if it’s too hard to do the right thing, then people will do the wrong thing. That’s how we get old paint and other household chemicals dumped down sewers and landfills full of old batteries instead of being properly disposed of. Luckily there’s an iPhone app that may help alleviate the problem.

iRecycle can show you all of the recycling locations in your area and tell you the types of materials they handle. Just enter the item you want to dispose of and your location and iRecycle will give you a dandy list of sites including info on what other materials the sites handles, restrictions involved, and contact info. That’s pretty cool.

But wait, there’s more…

If you need to know where collective tree hugging is happening in your area, or if you know of a tree hugging event you can use iRecycle to get and post that info. Unfortunately there didn’t seem to be a lot of that action here in Orlando that was posted on iRecycle, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t any. iRecycle is a fairly new app after all.

There’s still more!

iRecycle has a nice article section too, all aimed at environmental and sustainable living issues. It looks like a good app to help you be more environmentally friendly. Check out iRecycle.

Speaking of hugging trees, if you really want to stay in tune with all things environmental then your next stop should be TreeHugger, a free iPhone app that provides direct access to the articles and commentaries on the TreeHugger Web site.

As you may have surmised, is a news site that focuses on environmental issues, kind of like The Mac Observer, but they report on all things Green while we (TMO), umm, don’t.

The TreeHugger app is like many other news apps, you have a main page that lists recent articles and touch-spots at the bottom of the screen that order the articles in different ways (categories, popular, so on). You can also access TreeHugger podcast.

I like the way the articles look, they come complete with photos, movies, and links to other articles and websites. You can email, Tweet, or share article you like through Facebook.

There’s are only 2 things with the TreeHugger app that I’m not a fan of; it’s ad supported and it won’t switch to landscape mode. Still, it’s a nice app so go grab it.

And speaking of grabbing, the next time you are out shopping and you grab some hair mousse that the maker claims to be environmentally friendly don’t their word for it. Find out how that company stands green-wise with GoodGuide, a free app that lets you scan produces to see how environmental, social, and health conscious the products company behind them are.

There are more than 50,000 entries in GoodGuide’s database and you can search through it to find facts about the products you use.

GoodGuide also has a barcode scanner and when you scan an item it will tell you who makes it and show the company’s GoodGuide rating. I’d rather have it tell me facts about the product when I scan it, but it doesn’t, so the scanner is of little use.

Still, the database doesn’t require Internet access so looking up info can be a good thing. Take a look at GoodGuide, you might find it useful.

That’s a wrap for this week. Stop back next week for more freebies. In the meantime take a look at the free stuff below from the iTunes Store (with direct links).