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Yellow Soap

Q: What do forests, water, wildlife, and agriculture have in common?

A: They’re all being reshaped, redistributed, and otherwise readjusted by climate change. Now, in real time.

That's the conclusion of the U.S. Climate Change Science Program, which just released a long-delayed government-commissioned report on how climate change is affecting the American landscape.

This is so much on my mind that I've been looking for every way to do something about it I can find.

I just moved out of the house I shared with my ex and, as I left just about everything behind, I had to refurnish my life. I embraced the reduce-reuse-recycle ethos in no small part because it's cheaper (and thousands of dollars STILL flew out the door), but also because it didn't add to my carbon footprint.

Through Berkeley Freecycle, I got a ton of perfectly good stuff for no money at all. Don't know about Freecycle? Check out to find a local network near you. There are more than 4,000 Freecycle groups throughout the world. Not only in 50 states and U.S. territories (Guam has one, but not Puerto Rico), but also in such far-flung locales as Andorra, Botswana, Iran, Oman, Lithuania, Qatar, and Sri Lanka. Boznia and Herzogovina. Trinidad and Tobago. Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

Cuba doesn't have one, but probably that's because Cuba has been freecycling since the start of the embargo; a Freecycle group there would just be redundant. They take re-use to extremes: I remember the Cuban who patched a hole in the gas tank of my rented Russian-model car with a piece of yellow soap. "Jabón amarillo, jabón amarillo," he kept saying when we were looking for something to use as a plug after we hit a boulder in the road outside Havana. For some reason, yellow was important to him.

Craigslist was another great source of free and used furniture and housewares. So was eBay. And the great unforeseen perk is that every piece comes with a story. I'll tell you some in my next post.