Tag Archives: green

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Make It Burn – Firestarters

What can you do with empty toilet paper rolls and a whole lot of dryer lint?  Make these awesome firestarters.  I hate when you are trying to light a fire on a quiet dark night and you are trying to enjoy some nature, but you can never get the fire going.  So you pull out the lighter fluid only for the fire to blaze for a few minutes.  That stuff is crap.  It is totally unneeded now that you have these FREE firestarters!

Directions:

1.  Do a few loads of laundry.  This is something you are bound to do anyways, unless your parents still wash your clothes.  If they do, you have awesome parents.  But see if they can part with their dryer lint.

2.  Collect lint from the dryer.  We typically only dry our clothes inside when there is still snow on the ground so the time for us to prepare these are only through the winter season.  *Sadly our winter is from October through April.  So, had I started these earlier, I would have had a butt load!

3.  Collect toilet paper rolls.  Generally my husband and I are too lazy to throw these away, so they end up collecting on the back of the toilet.  Surprisingly I must have been on top of my game this week at cleaning because I only found one.  *You can use paper towel rolls as well.  (Do you see a face in the pile of lint in the below image?  I see Yoda smirking at me).  {I didn’t know the name Yoda so I had to ask my husband who the gremlin looking feller was in Star Wars}.

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4.  Stuff the lint into the roll.  Voila!

I think this blog can go under being thrifty as well.  You can save money, reduce waste and live green – all at the same time!

Spring Ahead

Spring is not only known for spring cleaning, but also for getting ready for gardening, flip flops and long weekends.   Maybe a few extra beers in there too.  In any case, I look forward to gardening, the scents that come with spring and fresh produce the most.  Also, the disappearing act of snow.  Unfortunately, we do not have a lot of room, actually, no room to plant a garden.  But we hated the idea of paying the ever increasing costs of produce at the grocery store, and it’s not even organic.  AND it’s shipped from all over the country and some from Latin America.

There is a solution!  Subscribe to a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture).  In essence, you pay an upfront “subscription” fee, then for months June through October you get a box of veggies (or two boxes depending upon the size of share you opt for).  My husband and I did the CSA thing the last 2 years.  We picked up our box once a week from a designated pickup site and the produce (organic – our CSA was anyways) vary from week to week, based on the season.  Initially we received a lot of lettuces, herbs, radishes and potatoes.  Then,  tomatoes, raspberries, beets and cucumbers towards the middle of the season.  Then for fall, squash, pumpkins, garlic and anything left over was in our share.  2 years ago our CSA actually allowed all those interested to come down to the farm and pick as many tomatoes as we could fill in 4 HUGE pails.  We managed to can enough to take us through 2 winters.

The benefits to CSA are numerous.

  1. You have the ability to try new veggies.  I found that I REALLY love kohlrabi and I have never tried one before we signed up for a CSA.
  2. You are more apt to “eat your vegetables.”   Every meal we had featured vegetables of some sort.
  3. You support the local economy. The farms that provide CSA’s need subscribers like you to continue to operate, in some cases.  CSA’s may be their only means of income.
  4. It’s a less carbon footprint.  Our veggies only traveled 45 miles to get to us.   As opposed to coming from California, Mexico or Florida to Fargo ND.
  5. It’s fun!  You never know what you are going to get.  It’s like opening a present.
  6. It saves you a trip to the grocery store.   Some CSA’s actually deliver to your work place (if there’s enough interest).
  7. Many CSA’s are organic, so you are not getting veggies covered in synthetic fertilizers.

With all of those benefits, why not?  Especially if you do not have the ability to garden yourself.  As you are taking out the flip flops and the lawn furniture, why don’t you consider signing up for a CSA!  It is worth it in so many ways!

Frugality: You can save money being green!

I like saving money, especially if I can also be green at the same time.  Being frugal is what I like to call it.  I like saving a little here and there, try not to be wasteful and not spending on things that are not really needed.  I am not saying buying some name brand clothes is off limits, but buy clothes that is good quality and will last.  Being frugal is different than being cheap…a point my husband makes very clear to me at times.  Sometimes I have been known to be cheap.  For example, I will never buy a can opener at Walmart ever again just because it’s cheaper.  It is cheaper for a reason.  For certain hard working kitchen objects, it is essential to buy good quality so you do not have to replace it every year.

I wanted to give some examples of being frugal (saving money) and being green (helping the environment).  It is nice to multitask.

1.  Buy rechargeable batteries.  You will have to buy a battery recharger, but in the long run, you will save money and lots of batteries will NOT be sent to the garbage.  If you do have batteries that are used up, you can bring them into stores that will dispose of them responsibly.

2.  Hang dry your clothes when you can.  It lengthens the life on the clothes considerably because they are not tossed around in the dryer.  Also, you save lots of money and electricity by using the dryer.  I personally think that the clothes smell better when they are on the line.  The clothes dryer is one of the highest energy hogs in the home.

3.  Use ceiling fans. It is cheaper than running your air conditioning and it uses less energy – thus saving you money.

4.  If you can, purchase re purposed ink cartridges.  You know the ones that you send in that are empty.  They can refill them and resell them.  This completes the recycling cycle.

5.  Reduce your gas consumption in 2 ways.  First, bike when you can.  Last year I biked to work and back.  I was able to postpone filling my gas tank for over 2 months.  This is over $100 savings on just gas for that.  Gas is becoming obscenely expensive so it will just be easier to spend more and more money on gas.  Second, buy a push mower.  One of those old fashion kind.  Mowers can release lots of fumes in to the air.  Or you can dig up all of your grass and plant a flower bed or vegetable garden.

Those are just a couple of ideas that come to my mind now.  I plan to add more as I go because I want you to save money, and be green as well!  Cheers!

Weekly Going Green Tips: Stop the Junk Mail!

Per Earth911.com, “each year 19 billion catalogs are mailed to American consumers.”  For these 19 billion catalogs, 53 million trees are cut down.  Also, “most catalog companies don’t use recycled paper.”  A high percentage of this mail is considered junk and is tossed out immediately.

Instead of just bringing in your mail, throwing it or letting it pile up on the table creating clutter, why not take care of it right away?  Your table will stay clean and you will produce less waste.  What I mean, let’s remove our names from unwanted mailing lists!  It will save us time and frustration down the line.

Going forward, for all of the catalogs that I get that are unwanted, I am going to take action to remove my name from mailing lists.  I used to work in a call center for a catalog company. The way it works, is catalog companies can sell your name to other catalog companies.  The pile of unwanted catalogs can add up if you don’t take care if it right away.  Just think of the 53 billing trees that are being cut down for junk mail.

Besides just calling the contact number on the catalog there are other methods of removing your name from all mailing lists.

1.  www.catalogchoice.org – you create an account, then log in when you have a catalog you wish to be removed from.  Search by catalog name then it will pull up a summary of what the catalog is.  You can use multiple names (can include all family members names) and addresses (which you update from your profile.)  One thing I like about this site is you can opt to receive an email from the publisher once they acknowledge your request.  The site seems very user friendly.  However, I am not sure if the publishers are required to remove your name, or how they get your request OR how long it will take.  A lot of unanswered questions here.

2.  dmachoice.org – you log in, click on the hyperlink of the catalog that you want to remove your name from.  You then are given the contact email or phone number.  Maybe I assumed they would do the dirty work for you, but it seems like just as much work to locate the number on the catalog and call without logging in.

If you removed your name from all of the mailing lists you do not want, just think of all of the time savings you would have?  No more sorting through all the junk you receive, but you will only get mail that you want/need.  So far, catalogchoice seems to be my favorite for now.  I urge you to take 5 minutes to sign up and save a few trees!

Is Packaging Free Products In Our Future?

I hope so!  And the sooner the better!  I came across an article today about a designer named Aaron Mickelson.   He is attempting to solve the overproduction of waste created from packaging.  Just think of all of the “single-serving” products you use every day.  My coffee creamer and stevia packets are all single serving.  I go through one or two every day.  We have become so accustomed to these items that it would be hard to live without.  

Anyways, just a visual image: “Every year, Americans generate a lot of solid waste. In 2010, 250 million tons, according to the EPA. A full 30 percent of that (about 76 million tons) comes from packaging — it’s the biggest culprit.”

Mickelson intends to rid of packaging all together.  His thesis project called, The Disappearing Package, was created to improve the functionality of packaging.  By picking products that consumers purchase regularly, like Tide, Twinings and Nivea, for example, will give consumers the chance to see these products in a different way.

He researched materials and processes that would be non toxic, create the least amount of waste possible, and packaging that is safe.  Packaging does serve a purpose of getting products safely from production to homes, but mostly is “over-engineered.”

I think this article shows futuristic thinking and hopefully will become something that is readily available.  Kudos to Mr. Mickelson!

 

Blog Spotlight: Guy Goes Green

If you want to learn a little something about being green, I suggest checking out the blog Guy Goes Green.   My husband started this blog to make me happy, sort of.  The intention was to go a year, each week there would be one green task for him to take on.   We attempted to pull him away from plastic bags, reduce water usage and to stop junk mail.  The blog is full of educational articles and ways to reduce our dependency on energy and waste.

If you are looking to have a greener Christmas, you should read these articles:

1.  Overconsumption

2.  Green Shopping Websites

3.  Pictures of our Recycling Christmas

4.  Real or fake Christmas tree – Which is greener?

5.  What are some ways to cut back on electricity costs

Those are our best blog posts that will help you save this holiday season!  Enjoy!

Modern Conveniences

Sometimes spending the extra bit of money on something due to added convenience is worth it.  This really goes against my ideals of being a more green person.  Lots of convenience items are very non-green.  Like bottled water, automobiles and dryers.  Yet, we can’t see ourselves removing these conveniences from our lives.

Yesterday I spent 30 minutes considering a purchase of 2 items.  A purchase-ready 11 x 17 picture frame or the individual pieces that I would have to assemble myself but for cheaper.  The price difference between the two options were maybe 2 bucks, but the time involved thinking about the savings and the time that would have been spent finding all of the pieces and assembling was worth 5 bucks easy.  I persuaded myself to purchased the convenience-purchase ready frame.

Other instances that can be used as an example are home improvement projects.  Sometimes these projects should be left for the pros.  I decided to save myself about $500 by installing my own tile floor.  This sucked, simply.  It was a learning experience, example…I learned as I went.  Ripping out the carpet was the easy part.   I spent every weekend cutting concrete board, renting equipment that I didn’t have, and lying one tile at a time.  Don’t get me wrong, it turned out marvelously, but I could have spent my weekends doing much cooler things.  If anything would have gone wrong with my install, it could have been very wasteful throwing materials away.

The moral of the story is: sometimes it’s okay to spend a bit more.   Somethings to think about are the cost difference for sure, but also the amount of waste produced by each option, the amount of time consumed (in terms of labor) and the affect on the environment, of course.

It’s Not Easy Being Green

When it is 90 degrees or above almost every day, one is almost excited for winter to come.  I hate having the air conditioner running constantly, having to turn on the sprinkler on so the grass doesn’t die and just being miserable standing outside.  It really makes me wonder if this is a symptom of global warming.

I continue to do my part living a greener life.  I just filled my car up with gas Saturday for this first time in 2 months and 1 week.  That is the longest time I have ever went without filling up.  I have been biking almost everywhere I need to go to save on gas and to cut back my carbon footprint.  I haven’t use my clothes dryer all summer, even though my husband hates how they feel stiff.  I don’t notice though.

I wasn’t too shocked when I heard about Greenland’s ice melt.  Sometimes knowing this stuff freaks me out.  Wondering what else will happen next?  Do I even want to know?  Is what I am doing to help the environment even helping?  We need a lot more environmentalists or “green” people than we currently have.

This blog is more than making stuff, it’s also about educating about environmental news, and simple life changes for living a greener life.

Back to Greenland.  Apparently the ice melt happened in a span of 4 days and affected 97 per cent of Greenland’s land mass.  This melting did increase the sea level but only by 3 millimeters.  Scientists say that if the entire ice sheet in Greenland melted it would have a devastating effect.  However they don’t see that happening right now.  But now is the time to make changes.  We need to help spread the word on living more simply and green.  And hopefully with enough persuasion more people will make some sacrifices.  Let me know if there is anything you have to add.  I would love to hear from you!

DIY Household Cleaners

I went to the library Saturday to a presentation on green cleaning.  The gal presenting said she is a professional cleaner for homes and offices.  I was interested in hearing about the brands she uses for cleaning.  For the most part she buys brands like 7th Generation and Citra-Solv.  I will be trying out some of these brands next time I am due for new cleaners, but I was more interested in the homemade recipes she handed out at the end.  I will be buying some spray bottles and making these next time I go to Walmart.

All Purpose Cleaner

1 quart warm water

1 tsp liquid soap (like Dr. Bonner’s Castile Soap)

1 tsp borax

1/4 cup distilled white vinegar

Glass Cleaner

1 Tbsp lemon juice

1 quart water

Stainless Steel Polish

Pour about 1/2 to 1 tsp olive oil (any grade) on a microfiber cloth and rub over stainless steel appliances, garbage cans, sinks, etc.  Unbelievable shine!  Even causes rust spots to seemingly disappear!

Scouring Powder

3 parts baking soda

1 part borax

Use as you would any scouring powder, being sure to rinse thoroughly.  For lighter jobs use baking soda alone.  Note that baking soda is an alkaline substance that can damage vulnerable surfaces if not rinsed.

Oven Cleaner

1 quart warm water

2 tsp borax

2 Tbsp liquid soap

Mix ingredients.  Spray on, wait 20 minutes, then clean.

Toilet Bowl Cleaner

1/4 to 1/2 cup borax

Pour into toilet bowl and let sit for half an hour to overnight.  Then scrub with toilet brush.  *source information.

Baby or All-Purpose Wipes

1 roll of heavy duty paper towels or cloth so they are reusable

1 container with lid. (Old wipes container, ice cream pail or old plastic coffee container)

1 3/4 cups boiled water (or distilled) cooled but still warm

1 Tbsp of pure aloe vera – check the ingredients

1 Tbsp of pure Witch Hazel Extract

2 Tbsp of liquid Castille Soup (Dr. Bonner’s)

10 drops Grapefruit Seed Extract or 2 capsules of Vitamin E

2 Tbsp of Olive or Almond Oil

Essentials Oils of choice (optional – 6 drops each of orange and lavender)

*source information

Weekly Going Green Tips

I had an idea while gardening this weekend.  I observed many little ways I was being green without even thinking about it and I want to share it.  I want to give you a couple of ways to be green a week and tell you why it’s a greener alternative.  This will be more than tips other websites give you.  I want to go a little further and find some research to support my ideals.  My first post like this will revolve around gardening.

  • I hate chemicals.  I equally hate dandelions, but I will never combine the two.  I decided to de-dandelion my yard without the use of chemical weed killers.  I just took my little gardening hand shovel and dug under the weed and pulled it up.   Environmental Health News states, “Roundup’s inert ingredients amplified the toxic effect on human cells…particularly embryonic, placental and umbilical cord cells.”  This is easy to believe with the maker of Roundup being Monsanto, one of the largest producers of genetically modified seeds.
  • Mow efficiently.  I come from parents (my dad) who likes to make his lawn      look perfect.  He likes to mow zig-zag like.  I think he does this to one-up the neighbors who have an equally perfect lawn.  When I am out there mowing, I want to get it done quickly.  Also, mow when it’s morning or dusk.  During cooler parts of the day less gas fumes will burn off, ie more efficient.
  • Or you could change to an electric or human powered machine.  The Daily Green states, “a typical gas mower can be up to 30-times more polluting than an automobile.”
  • Lose the yard.  I wouldn’t suggest this if you use your yard lots for activities.  If you have a yard that is thin and doesn’t get enough sun, try using ground cover instead.  This stuff doesn’t need to get mowed.  I actually intend on digging up the east side of our house that is narrow and planting a flower garden and a path with ground cover.  I don’t like mowing back here anyways since it is so narrow.

That was just a few tips on going green in your garden.  Simple things you all can do.  I have been looking out for a human powered mower at our local thrift store.  My parents picked one up there that was almost brand new.  You never know what you will find at a thrift store.

Happy Earth Day

In celebrating one of my favorite days of the year, I intend on being the ultimate green person.  I feel like I celebrate Earth Day every day, but today I will take it to the max.  This is how I intend on celebrating:

  1. Not taking a shower – I have no where to go and no one to impress.  Taking a shower uses a lot of water, electricity to heat the water and down the line energy to clean to water for reuse.  Not to mention the shampoo and soap you will be using that need energy to make.  I do use BWC (Beauty Without Cruelty) shampoo and Grandpa’s soaps which are healthier and better for the environment so I do feel a bit better about that.  I hate pouring scented chemical laden products on my body so it can absorb and cause damage. – No thank you!
  2. Not driving anywhere – I will walk over to visit my folks since they are in walking distance.  Like I said above, I really don’t have anywhere else to go so driving somewhere, like the mall, just to kill time is un-needed today.
  3. Conserving electricity – I do this every day as it is.  I even do it for my husband (by turning off the lights after him).  Today I will unplug electronics not in use, not turn on the TV just to entertain myself and be efficient when I am using electricity.
  4. Prepare a donation to the local thrift store – This may not be the most green thing, but by donating stuff to the thrift store that is still good quality will prevent garbage.  In completing the cycle, I also shop at the thrift store.  I rarely buy books brand new, nor furniture.  I love going to thrift stores or even antique stores in order to find what I need.

So what do I intend on doing today?  I have a few things on my agenda:

  1. Knit – Last night I went to a knitting party and got reintroduced to knitting.  I gave up when 2 of my scarves turned out like crap.
  2. Read – I have a great book I am reading that I can get some good quality time catching up.
  3. Organize/prepare donation – I want to de-clutter, get rid of stuff that I don’t need that is causing me stress and give it away.
  4. Go for a walk – Enjoy the fresh air and a bit of exercise with my husband and our dog.
  5. Visit with the folks – Doesn’t require any electricity.

I have my day busy with green things to do.  It is almost impossible to completely live without electricity but I will try my best to conserve and be creative with how I use my time.  Please share how you are celebrating Earth Day today!

 

Anti-consumerism and Freeganism

I hate clutter and I hate waste.  These two little things can be removed from my life.  It would require a huge life change.  I am no expert on the topics of anti-consumerism and freeganism but I want to use this blog to educate myself more and my audience on how we can contribute to reducing non-necessary buying and reducing waste.

When I decided to start a blog, I wanted it more than a blog to post craft projects.  I wanted to post challenges to myself and you to help live a greener life.   I want to educate myself on how to live more green and inspire you to also.  Today’s blog I hope to do just that.

I should briefly describe these two topics.  Anti-consumerism is summarized by cutting our self off of material possessions, ie all of our wants.  Freeganism, a more extreme movement, is defined as using alternative living strategies that followers remove themselves from society completely.  Freegans use the ideal of foraging and squatting (living in abandoned or unused buildings).  Freegans take what people don’t want (trash) and use these goods to survive.

I am not on the path to ever become a full blown freegan but I understand their ideals.  The idea of using other peoples trash makes me want to plan my meals so all of our food gets used.  Or instead of buying a new shirt going to the thrift store.   I may never dumpster dive, but I may go boulevard shopping during spring cleaning.  I have found useful home things, like a desk chair and laundry basket that are good quality.

Anyways, I am more in line with anti-consumerism.  I would like to give you two resources that have made me want to change my life in this regard.  Please spend some time checking this out.  It is well worth your time.

  1. The Story of Stuff video.  Click the link to watch a 20 minute video that is actually quite entertaining and educational.  Annie Leonard narrates the video describing the product life cycle and how companies create products that are designed for the trash.  They are purchased only to be replaced quickly.
  2. A book that I read called, “Not Buying It” by Judith Levine gave me in site what living without wants for a year would be like.  The idea of not buying things just for status or convenience may seem difficult, but can save you lots of money and save us lots of time to get in tune with your family.

I fully support the idea of freeganism.  If there are people out there who will use other people’s garbage, I say “go for it!  Why not?”  I will continue my quest to reduce my desire to purchase things that I want.  It is very easy for me to keep products that still have use or value.  This is no big deal.  Of course, the feeling of buying a new shirt or shoes always feels good.  But, I do like the idea of saving money.

I have a new challenge for myself.  I am going to use the rest of April to not purchase wants.  This may be difficult since it is planting season, BUT I am going to give it my all.  I will control my urge to spend on things that I think are needs when they are actually wants.  Will you be willing to take a simple challenge?  For 2 weeks, cut back on unnecessary spending?  Not purchase things that are just to be replaced quickly?   Let me know how you will challenge yourself.  I would love to hear about it.

 

Earth Day 2012

Earth Day is coming up on April 22nd and it is always one of my favorite days out of the year.  I hear about companies making a switch to operating in a more green fashion and it gives me hope that some day we will change our behavior as a nation.

I have been green since I was a kiddo.  I used to help my dad crush cans, and my parents always separated recycling.  My dad would compost grass clippings and we would always have fresh veggies from our own garden.  And my mom has also passed on her canning knowledge to me.  I have only expanded my desires to seek a more green life.

Somethings that I do to reduce my impact (and now seem unnoticeable):

1.  Bike to work once in a while (when it isn’t cold, raining, snowing or windy).

2.  Hang my clothes on the line to dry.

3.  Drive more efficiently (keep the car empty, I don’t gun it on a green light and I break efficiently).  See this post from an article I posted on driving more efficiently.

4.  I eat garden fruits and veggies.  We subscribe to a CSA for organic veggies and can what we can to save our extra share for the winter months.  It helps support the local economy and we are also eating organic.

5.  Turn off the lights.  I usually end up turning off the lights for my husband too.

6.  I use organic products.  I do not slather on lotions or hair sprays.  I find them un-useful anyways and very un-green.

7.  I keep things as long as they are still useful.  I keep my cellphones until they either don’t carry a charge longer than an hour, or don’t turn on any more.  My car is 12 years old and I don’t intend on upgrading.  I barely drive it anyways.  If things still have use, why throw it away?

8.  I recycle EVERYTHING.  More than just plastic, metal and glass.  I recycle all cardboard, magazines, phone books, clothes (donate to a thrift store), paper, junk mail,  batteries, light bulbs and electronic equipment.

9.  I survive on less.  I don’t like clutter and if I think I want to buy something, I put it back and think about it over night.  Usually I forget all about it, which means I didn’t really need it.

10.  Instead of using garage bags we use our pet food bags when they are empty.  They have a lining that is water proof and instead of throwing them away without using them we repurpose them into garbage bags.  I even ask my parents to save their pet food bags for us.

11.  I spread the word.  I like to get other people to understand the importance of recycling and living a simpler life.   I was told about “The Story of Stuff Project” from a friend at my Toastmaster club.  It gives a visual story of the life cycle of products and shows how wasteful we as humans are.

12.  I bring my own bags to grocery stores.  Or else if I can just carry it out I will just ask for no bag.  I also use a reusable lunch box and plastic food storage.

13.  I make my own laundry detergent.  We use green cleaners when we can.

14.  We buy in bulk whenever it is possible.

15.  I lean to purchasing green products and products that uses less packaging.  I love shopping at thrift stores because it is re-purposing goods that would otherwise be discarded.  I also bring in my unused retail hangers and shopping bags because they can use them.

I want to keep expanding on this list because there are so many ways that I live green in my daily life that I don’t even notice any more.  These things have become such a habit for me that is just routine.  My husband needs reminding on what can be recycled and such but he supports me in my desire to live a green life.

 

cleaner

DIY Homemade Cleaners

I went shopping this weekend for some toilet bowl cleaner.  I wanted to find it in bulk so I didn’t have to repurchase the small cleaner with the curved neck.  I figured if I could buy it in bulk I could reduce what is thrown away.  Well, it wasn’t an option so I didn’t buy anything.  I decided that I would research homemade cleaners.  I already make my own laundry soap, why not make the rest of my cleaners.

The basic ingredients that we all probably have in our cupboards that can make a number of different cleaners are: Baking Soda, Vinegar, Lemon Juice, Borax and Rubbing Alcohol.

Soap Scum/Stove Top:  I am going to use: Baking Soda, a wet sponge and water to rinse.

Window Cleaner: Mix 2 teaspoons of white vinegar with 1 quart warm water.  Use crumpled newspaper to clean.  Mix accurately because too much vinegar can etch the glass.

Toilet Bowl Cleaner:  Mix 1/4 cup of baking soda and 1 cup vinegar, pour into basin and let it sit for a few minutes.  Scrub with brush and rinse.  A mixture of borax (2 parts) and lemon juice (one part) will also work.

I found these recipes on http://eartheasy.com/live_nontoxic_solutions.htm.  There are a list of other good recipes; check out that website.  Not only are these recipes green, but they will also save you lots of money.