12 Tips to Reduce Waste at the Holidays

Gift wrapping items: wrapping paper, gift bags, boxes, and bow

Americans produce a staggering amount of waste. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, in 2013, we collectively produced 254 million tons of trash, an average of about 4.4 pounds per person per day.  (That’s much higher than the global average, though other wealthy, developed countries aren’t far behind.) The upside is that we recycled and composted about 34% of that waste, but that still left a lot of trash headed to landfills or scattered as litter. There are about 2,000 active landfills in the US, and simple math leads to the conclusion that we will at some point run out of space for all of our trash. In addition, properly managing municipal waste is expensive, and both landfills and incineration can pose serious environmental and health concerns. Moreover, think about all the resources we are wasting by throwing so many things away rather than using them to their fullest potential.

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7 Things I Learned from My First 7 Jobs

Still life painting with vases, flowers, and table card holder
Table No. 4, 2016. Oil on canvas, 16” x 20”, framed. Available for purchase.

About a year and a half ago, the hashtag #1st7jobs (or #firstsevenjobs) began making its way around Twitter as celebrities and others shared lists of their early work experiences.  The idea, I think, was to show that where you begin does not dictate where you end up, and it takes hard work and trial and error to build the career and life you want.  While there are certainly critics of that narrative, I found the hashtag to be an interesting exercise, and one worthy of further exploration than Twitter’s character limit would allow.

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Quote of the Week

“One of the advantages of being born in an affluent society is that if one has any intelligence at all, one will realize that having more and more won’t solve the problem, and happiness does not lie in possessions, or even relationships: The answer lies within ourselves. If we can’t find peace and happiness there, it’s not going to come from the outside.”

Tenzin Palmo

Charcoal drawing of a woman’s head with eyes closed

Loss, Love, and Community at the Holidays

Abstract painting loosely resembling a fall landscape
Peace, 2014. Private Collection; prints available.

With the holiday season well underway, I’ve been thinking a lot about family and community.  I had the pleasure of spending Thanksgiving with family, as I’ve always been lucky enough to do.  While I was so grateful to be surrounded by my mom, aunt, cousins, and husband, the absence of my father and uncle were palpable — it was our first Thanksgiving without them.  Spending these last few days at my parents’ house, it seems as though everywhere I look, I’m reminded of my dad.  It’s as if I can still see him sitting in his favorite chair and hear exactly what he would say in response to just about every situation.

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Quote of the Week

“You need to learn how to select your thoughts just the same way you select your clothes every day. This is a power you can cultivate.”

—Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

Nocturne painting of a tree and lighted windows

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Fostering Gratitude at Thanksgiving and Year-Round

Black and white painting of dishes and fruit on a table

Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays.  Its historical origins aside, for me, it’s a day spent with family, some of whom I don’t see as often as I’d like.  When I was a kid, the hosting duties rotated among my mom and her four siblings, and a crowd of 20-30 of my aunts, uncles, and cousins gathered together for a delicious potluck-style meal, followed by hours of card games, laughter, and enjoying each others’ company.  The gatherings have become smaller over the years and the format has changed a bit, but I still look forward to this holiday more than any other.

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Favorite Legal Podcasts for Non-Lawyers and Lawyers

A pair of wireless headphones for podcast listening

The U.S. legal system is complicated.  Even if you were born and raised in the United States, you likely didn’t get a thorough overview of our legal principles in your schooling unless you went to law school.  With legal topics frequently in the news, you may be left wondering about aspects of American law.  Why do courts decide cases the way they do?  Why don’t legal rulings always comport with what seems like common sense?

As long-time readers know, I like to listen to podcasts, particularly educational ones.  In this post, I thought I’d round up some of my favorite law-related podcasts that can help you gain a better understanding of the legal concepts that shape current events and daily life in the United States.  Readers, what are your favorite legal podcasts?  Please tell us in the comments.

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