GREEN TIP: Earth Day, April 22nd, is only a week away! This year find new ways to celebrate Earth Day and include your new green habits all year long.

We are all responsible for our planet and we should strive to leave it better than we found it. This is Walt Kelly’s Pogo Possum cartoon that was used on a poster for the first Earth Day in 1970:

Source: Walt Kelly/Pogo/Public Domain

Source: Walt Kelly/Pogo/Public Domain

Here are some more ways you could celebrate Earth Day this year:

  • Get a bike. I’m not suggesting you get rid of your car, but use a bike or walk whenever possible. It a healthyBaby Greek Goddess on her bike habit for you and good for the environment.
  • Turn off lights and electronics when you leave the room. Unplug your cell phone charger from the wall when not using it. Turn off energy strips and surge protectors when not in use (especially overnight). Also use natural lighting whenever possible; don’t turn on lights at all for as long as you can—open your curtains and enjoy natural light.
  • Sit down with the family and set specific goals to recycle and save energy. It’s often as easy as changing your light bulbs, adjusting the setting on your fridge, or making a routine trip to a nearby recycling bin. Here’s an excellent article about recycling and how to get started: Project Recycling by Amanda Peterson. To quote Amanda, “It’s all about being aware of what you consume and finding ways to minimize the waste left behind”.
  • Go to your local library instead of buying new books.
  • Plant flowers at a local non-profit organization, school or church, remember to contact the organization before you start planting. And, even better, make sure the landscaping is done with native plants. Most are thrilled when someone offers to beautify their grounds. 
  • Bring your own bags to the grocery store. Given a choice between plastic and paper, opt for paper.
  • Go on a nature hike. Nature hikes are a great way to appreciate the details of our beautiful earth. Pick a park or nearby trail or visit a new place every year on Earth Day.
  • Clean up litter around your neighborhood, at a local park or school. Litter detracts from the beauty of nature and can be dangerous to people and animals.
  • Support your local economy. Shop local and join your local food co-op. For more information on the Prairie Roots Food Co-op, if you’re in the Fargo Moorhead area, visit http://prairie-roots.coop/.
  • Cook a special Earth Day meal using whole, organic and non-processed foods. Invite friends and family over to share a healthy, home-cooked meal.
  • Attend an Earth Day event. Earth Day events are held across the nation, and are full of fun activities for both you and the kids.

Local events in the Fargo Moorhead area:

10th Annual HERO (Healthcare Equipment Recycling Organization) Bash on April 24th, 2014

  • Event is from 6pm to 930pm
  • At the Ramada Plaza and Suites in Fargo
  • Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door

For more information, visit http://herofargo.org/events/bash/.

Gardens Alive Challenge – runs through the last harvest in October

  • The goal is to grow one million square feet of gardens and fruit trees in the Fargo Moorhead area.
  • To participate all you have to do is plant your crops and log your garden’s status online.
  • The challenge is being put on by the Dakota Medical Foundation and promotes staying active and living a healthy lifestyle.

For more information and to register your garden, visit http://www.fmgardensalive.org/.

Take a #GlobalSelfie for NASA on Earth Day, April 22nd, 2014

  • Get outside and take a picture of yourself wherever you are on earth. Tell them where you are in a sign, words written in the sand, spelled out with rocks — or by using the printable signs they’ve created that is available at http://www.nasa.gov/content/goddard/globalselfie/.
  • Then post your photo to social media using the hashtag #GlobalSelfie.
  • They’ll be monitoring photos posted to five social media sites: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Google+ and Flickr.

For more information, visit http://www.nasa.gov/content/goddard/globalselfie/.

My Green Side’s web pick of the week:

The Art of Simple Living

Since early 2008, The Art of Simple Living (formerly Simple Mom) has published stories and practical tips dedicated to Simple Living. The site contains tons of useful tips and inspirational stories to help you stay motivated to find what Simple Living means to you.

Quote from 19th century architect William Morris: “Have nothing in your homes that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”

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Eco Chic Boutique opened in June of 2010 as a home for eco-friendly products for baby, mom and home. It has Eco Chicbecome the go-to place for repurposed furniture, Chalk Paint® decorative paint by Annie Sloan, locally made gifts, home decor, vintage decor and a place to go for DIY inspiration. Just walking in the door makes you want to redecorate, repurpose and paint things.

They also brought the Junk Market, the first ever “junkers” event of it’s kind, to Fargo.

The Junk Market is an event hosted by Eco Chic Boutique and it has grown so much that this May’s event will be located at the River River Valley Fairgrounds. It has multiple vendors all under one roof from around the area and its filled with reclaimed vintage furniture, home décor and JUNK!

Here are the details:Eco Chic Junk Market

Event Date:

Saturday, May 10th, 2014
8am to 10am  Early Bird Admission
10am to 5pm  General Admission
(Rain or Shine, it’ll be awesome!)
  

Admission:

Eco Chic Junk Market early bird sold outEARLY BIRD ADMISSION: $20 SOLD OUT
Get the first shot at all the cool stuff!  You’ll get two hours of shopping (8am – 10am) before the doors open for regular admission. There will also be coffee and donuts.
 
Regular admission is $5.  Cash or check only please.
(Children 12 and under are free).
 
Sorry, no pets inside the event area. (Service animals only)
 

Location:

Red River Valley Fairgrounds
Hartl Ag Building
1805 West Main Avenue
West Fargo, ND 58078
 

The Early Bird Admission tickets are SOLD OUT but Eco Chic has generously given My Green Side a pair of tickets to give away! The tickets will be given away during the Simple Tips for Green Living radio segment on The Christopher Gabriel Program during the Earth Day (April 22nd, 2014) broadcast! THANK YOU!

You can stream the Simple Tips for Green Living segment at approximately 1220pm (CT) every Tuesday at http://www.wday.com/pages/AM970Radio, get the WDAY app on your iPhone or Droid or, if you’re in North Dakota or Western Minnesota, listen on your radio at AM970 WDAY.

You can also try to win a pair of ticket over at The White House Boutique. Visit the lovely http://thewhitehouseboutique.com/ to find out more!

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EDITOR’S NOTE: EACH WEDNESDAY MY GREEN SIDE BRINGS SIMPLE TIPS FOR GREEN LIVING TO THE CHRISTOPHER GABRIEL PROGRAM. WE ALSO HIGHLIGHT A FAVORITE GREEN SITE EACH WEEK. YOU CAN STREAM THE SEGMENT AT APPROXIMATELY 1220PM (CENTRAL) EVERY TUESDAY AT WDAY.COM OR, IF YOU’RE IN NORTH DAKOTA OR WESTERN MINNESOTA, LISTEN ON YOUR RADIO AT AM970 WDAY.

GREEN TIP: Earth Day, April 22nd, is fast approaching. This year find new ways to celebrate Earth Day and include your new green habits all year long.

The first Earth Day, on April 22, 1970, brought together millions of people from all walks of life who were concerned about the environment and they wanted our government to pay attention. The idea was the inspiration of Senator Gaylord Nelson from Wisconsin.

“Our goal is not just an environment of clean air and water and scenic beauty. The objective is an environment of decency, quality and mutual respect for all other human beings and all other living creatures.”  ~Gaylord Nelson

For more on the origins of Earth Day, read “Earth Day: How It All Began.”

Some ways you could celebrate Earth Day this year:

  • Plant a tree in your yard. Make it a fun family activity for Earth Day. Not only will it look beautiful in your yard but planting trees help to lower greenhouse gas emissions and they provide a habitat for a variety of other plants Reflectionand animals. Or plant two trees… National Arbor Day is April 27th.
  • Sit down with the family and set specific goals to recycle and save energy. It’s often as easy as changing your light bulbs, adjusting the setting on your fridge, or making a routine trip to a nearby recycling bin. Here’s an excellent article about recycling and how to get started: Project Recycling by Amanda Peterson. To quote Amanda, “It’s all about being aware of what you consume and finding ways to minimize the waste left behind”.
  • Start composting. For more information, read Green Tip – Composting 101. Locally, the City of Fargo has a wonderful compost bin you can purchase at a reasonable cost. For more information call 701-241-1449.
  • Plan a vegetable garden. April is the perfect time to plan your garden. Put pencil to paper and decide what you’d like to grow. Get the whole family involved.
  • Plant flowers at a local non-profit organization, school or church, remember to contact the organization before you start planting. Most are thrilled when someone offers to beautify their grounds.
  • Go on a nature hike. Nature hikes are a great way to appreciate the details of our beautiful earth. Pick a park or nearby trail or visit a new place every year on Earth Day.
  • Clean up litter around your neighborhood, at a local park or school. Litter detracts from the beauty of nature and can be dangerous to people and animals.
  • Cook a special Earth Day meal using whole, organic and non-processed foods. Invite friends and family over to share a healthy, home-cooked meal.
  • Attend an Earth Day event. Earth Day events are held across the nation, and are full of fun activities for both you and the kids.

Local event in the Fargo Moorhead area:

Red River Zoo’s Party for the Planet on Saturday, April 26th.

  • Zoo is open from 10am to 5pm, Party for the Planet activities will run from 11am to 4pm.
  • Tickets available at the door
  • Get FREE Party for the Planet children’s tickets at any F-M Gate City Bank
  • Fun activities and crafts

For more information, visit http://www.redriverzoo.org/.

MATBUS – “Get Your Can on the Bus” from April 21st through April 26th

  • Bring an aluminum can and ride free
  • Drawings for t-shirts will be held at the end of the week

For more information, bus routes and schedules, visit http://www.matbus.com/.

River Keepers – Make Your Own Rain Barrel Workshop on Monday, April 28th

  • Workshop is from 6pm to 8pm
  • The $84.00 fee includes supplies
  • Workshop sponsored and taught by Cass Soil Conservation District and River Keepers
  • Cass County residents may be eligible for partial reimbursement of tuition. 

Register at Moorhead Community Education: https://communityed.moorhead.k12.mn.us/ or by calling (218) 284-3400. For more information, visit River Keepers Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/RiverKeepersFM.

Next week I’ll fill you in on other Earth Day and Earth Week events in our area.

My Green Side’s web pick of the week:

Earth Day Network

Growing out of the first Earth Day in 1970, Earth Day Network (EDN) works with over 22,000 partners in 192 countries to broaden, diversify and mobilize the environmental movement. More than 1 billion people now participate in Earth Day activities each year, making it the largest civic observance in the world.

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As part of my partnership with Ecocentric Mom, I receive one of their bimonthly subscription boxes for review. Ecocentric Mom boxEvery other month when I get my box, I feel extremely grateful that I get to review some awesome products and tell you about them!

This is how it works: Ecocentric Mom is a natural/green health/home/beauty product discovery subscription service that gives you three different box options: Mom-to-be, Baby Box, or Mom Box. Boxes ship every-other-month (6 times per year). An every-other-month model makes boxes more affordable for all moms. Ecocentric Mom works hard to pack the very best of the best in each and every box… and they deliver (pun intended)!

I just received the March Mom Discovery Box and it was, again, full of products I would never have discovered on my own. It’s a great service to learn about healthier products that can reduce the amount of toxins in your household.

Here’s a look at the goodies I received this month:Organic Brew Leaf Tea

Bach Original Flower Remedies (Elm, full sized, $19.98) This is a doctor developed system of 38 plant and flower based essences to help manage the emotional demands of everyday life. I received ELM which is supposed to help for feelings of being overwhelmed with life and responsibilities. I’m not really feeling overwhelmed by life at the moment, but when I am, it’s nice to know I have a natural remedy.

Organic Acai Seed Bead Hair Barrette from Terri Jeans Adornments (size small, $5) This is a very pretty barrette and my daughters have each worn it and think it’s wonderful. I love that all of their products are eco-friendly and animal/vegan-friendly.

2 Degrees Food Bar ($1.99 per bar) YUM! This bar is delicious and it’s gluten free, vegan, all natural, GMO free and Kosher. And, if that’s not enough to make you run out and buy a few, for every bar you buy, the company will donate a meal to a hungry child. Suffice it to say, I think this company is AWESOME! Visit their website at http://twodegreesfood.com/ to find out more.

Treefort Naturals Comfrey Salve ($8 per 2 oz. tin) This was the first product I tried, it called to me… it’s sweet Ecocentric Mom Boxlittle tin, it’s amazing smell, it’s adorable name… Treefort Naturals Comfrey Salve is handmade with natural and organic ingredients. And you can use this all purpose salve anywhere and for everything. I’m a fan!

Organic Caffeine Free Roman Provence Roobios Tea ($6.99 – $8.99 2 oz. bag, brews 20 – 25 cups) High vitamin tea with fruity ripe berries. Their mission is to provide the best products and service to their customers. Organic teas are exceptionally rare, produced in small quantities and hard to come by so their collect of tea is very impressive and delicious.

Powernap 2-CD Set ($9.99 per CD) Oh to have time for a nap! This CD set is great. Disc 1 has five different nap music and each ends with chimes and a gentle voice to awaken you. Disc 2 is filled with delicate guitar and piano melodies. Very relaxing!

Homespun Northwest Oatmeal Grapefruit Face Wash Powder ($3.50 per 2 oz. travel size) Homespun Northwest handcrafts the highest quality vegan products from natural, organic, sustainable and repurposed items found near Portland, Oregon. Their handmade creations are fashioned in small batches and focus on simplicity, sustainability and eco-consciousness. I can’t wait to try this product!

BluappleBluapple in a Tin ($9.99 per 2-pack) Produce naturally emits ethylene gas which hastens fruit to ripen. Patented Bluapple absorbs these gases, allowing produce to last up to three times longer. Their website also has some wonderful tips on how to store produce. To see their tips, visit http://thebluapple.com/storage-tips.

House Blend Organics Coconut Body Wash ($14.95 8 oz. body wash) They only use 100% natural ingredients to make their certified organic products. Their Coconut Wash gives a hyper hydrating lather that has helped sooth mild to severe dry skin; even eczema.

MarieNatie All-Natural Lip Gloss ($18.00 full size) This company was born to bring products that are natural and free of harsh chemicals to women. The natural oils in their lip gloss helps to moisturize and provides lasting hydration for your lips. It’s also a product I feel good about letting my girls try. And, as an added bonus, it smells amazing!

Sports Suds Laundry Detergent ($20.95 jar/34+ loads) Sport Suds Laundry Detergent is specially formulated to dislodge odor-causing bacteria, oils and dirt from fabrics and wash them away completely. They also use ingredients that are sustainably sourced, biodegradable and non-toxic… and it works!

Ecocentric MomDisclosure: I am a part of the Ecocentric Mom Blogger Team and receive bimonthly subscription boxes for review. All the opinions expressed are completely my own. Affiliate links appear in this post.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: EACH TUESDAY MY GREEN SIDE BRINGS SIMPLE TIPS FOR GREEN LIVING TO THE CHRISTOPHER GABRIEL PROGRAM. WE ALSO HIGHLIGHT A FAVORITE GREEN SITE EACH WEEK. YOU CAN STREAM THE SEGMENT AT APPROXIMATELY 1220PM (CENTRAL) EVERY TUESDAY AT WDAY.COM OR, IF YOU’RE IN NORTH DAKOTA OR WESTERN MINNESOTA, LISTEN ON YOUR RADIO AT AM970 WDAY.

GREEN TIP: Become familar with your local recycling policies and prepare your recycling accordingly.MInnKota Recycling

When I was a recent transplant to the Fargo Moorhead area, I was surprised to discovered that nobody in our area recycled paperboard/boxboard (cereal boxes). Thankfully, that has changed and now we’re able to recycle paperboard in our curbside recycling. I think it’s important to always stay on top of what can and can’t be recycled through your area’s recycling programs.

City of Fargo offers free curbside recycling for residents along with 27 drop-off locations throughout Fargo for the collection of recyclables. Twelve of the sites have containers for all recyclables, including yard waste. accept aluminum cans and tin/metal cans. They cannot accept scrap metal, nails, tin foil, aerosol cans (if empty, throw out) or paint cans.

Here’s a look at what is allowable in the City of Fargo’s curbside recycling program:MInnKota Recycling

Cardboard: Corrugated cardboard boxes, brown kraft bags, beverage containers, shoe boxes, cereal and food boxes, chipboard and paperboard.

Plastics: #1-7 Clean plastic container such as soda bottles, milk containers, detergent and shampoo bottles, yogurt & cottage cheese containers, ice cream pails, margarine tubs and vegetable containers. All containers with a recycling symbol of 1-7. REMOVE THE PLASTIC LIDS BEFORE PLACING YOUR BOTTLES IN THE RECYCLING BIN.

The City of Fargo will not accept these plastics:

Styrofoam, beverage cups, trays or fast food containers. Motor oil or antifreeze bottles, plastic bags, shrink wrap, film, toys. These items are not accepted even if they contain a recycling symbol on them.

Newspapers and Magazines: Newspaper, shoppers and anything that is delivered in the newspaper, including glossy inserts. Magazines, small catalogs and similar printed material with glossy pages.

Aluminum and Tin Cans: Aluminum, steel and tin cans.

Glass: Clear, brown and green glass bottles and jars.

For more information about the City of Fargo’s recycling programs, visit http://www.cityoffargo.com/CityInfo/Departments/SolidWaste/Recycling/, for the City of West Fargo, visit http://www.westfargond.gov/ and for the City of Moorhead, visit http://www.ci.moorhead.mn.us/city_services/outside_garbage.asp.

RECYCLING FACTS from the National Resources Defense Council:

  • The U.S. currently recycles 32.5 percent of its waste, compared with about five percent in 1970.
  • According to the EPA, recycling cuts global warming pollution by the equivalent of removing 39.6 million passenger cars from the road.
  • Before 1973, no curbside recycling programs existed in the United States. By 2006, about 8,660 curbside programs had sprouted up across the nation.
  • Less than half of all post-consumer paper discarded in the United States is recovered for recycling.
  • Only 13 percent of water bottles are recycled. In 2005, Americans purchased 30 billion water bottles, and 26 billion of them wound up in landfills.
  • Airports and airlines recycle less than 20 percent of the 425,000 tons of passenger-related waste they produce each year.

Reducing our waste before it becomes recycling or goes to a landfill, is a goal we can all work towards. 

Here are a few tips:

  • Buy products in bulk and bring your own reusable containers to store them in. This eliminates food waste by helping ensure you buy only what you need. This will become even more of an option in our area once the Prairie Roots Food Co-op has a physical store. If you’re not yet a member, visit http://prairie-roots.coop/ and join today!
  • Share or swap items with friends, family and neighbors to avoid unnecessary purchases.
  • Choose products and companies that support sustainability.
  • Focusing on quality over quantity.
  • Have items repaired instead of throwing them away.
  • Set aside unwanted, still-good items for schools, shelters and other organizations that will accept them.
  • Cook from scratch rather than buy packaged foods.
  • Reduce multiple trips to the store by stocking up on essential items, which will save gas and reduce pollution.
  • Avoid disposable items and instead use durable goods such as thermal cups, permanent plates and utensils.
  • Avoid taking freebies that you aren’t going to use.
  • Buy from thrift stores.
  • Before you purchase an item, consider what you’ll do with it’s no longer useful.

My Green Side’s web pick of the week:

MinnKota Recycling

MinnKota Recycling is a local company that specializes in multiple material recycling and brokerage services. Their business covers most of North Dakota and Minnesota. While operating five recycling facilities and over 600 commercial accounts in this region, MinnKota has been recognized as the “Best in North Dakota” by the State Department of Health. Major production mills have also recognized MinnKota across the U.S. for their quality materials.

MinnKota Recycling keeps all the materials they collect in the U.S., they don’t ship it out to other countries. For example, their #2 plastics go to Bedford Recycled Plastic Technology, a company in Worthington, MN that manufactures FiberForce Plastic Lumber out of it. Glass goes to Glass Advantage in West Fargo and they tumble it into landscaping rock and other products.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: EACH TUESDAY MY GREEN SIDE BRINGS SIMPLE TIPS FOR GREEN LIVING TO THE CHRISTOPHER GABRIEL PROGRAM. WE ALSO HIGHLIGHT A FAVORITE GREEN SITE EACH WEEK. YOU CAN STREAM THE SEGMENT AT APPROXIMATELY 1220PM (CENTRAL) EVERY TUESDAY AT WDAY.COM OR, IF YOU’RE IN NORTH DAKOTA OR WESTERN MINNESOTA, LISTEN ON YOUR RADIO AT AM970 WDAY.

GREEN TIP: Buy eco-friendly laundry products, conserve energy and be good to your clothes. You will keep yourDuckie Robe  family healthy and looking great, save money and help the environment.

One of the main problems with laundry detergents, fabric softeners, and stain removers is that they contain petroleum, phosphates and synthetic chemicals that leave residue on the clothes. These ingredients cause allergies, irritate the skin and eyes and carry other severe health risks.

They also get washed down our drains and into our waterways which pollutes our rivers, lakes and coastal areas and are toxic to fish and wildlife.

Look for Eco-Friendly Laundry Products

Consider using eco-friendly laundry products. Always read labels and pay attention to what you’re buying, just because a product claims to be “natural” doesn’t mean it’s non-toxic.

Look for labels that indicate that the product is readily biodegradable, made with plant- and vegetable-based ingredients (instead of petroleum-based), contain no phosphates, and no allergy-inducing scents.

Ingredients you should avoid are butyl cellosolve (dangerous toxic chemical), petroleum, triclosan and phosphates. Also try to avoid chemicals known as phthalates that are used in detergents with fragrances, they have been linked to cancer.

If you must use bleach, try a non-chlorine product, use an oxygen-based cleaner instead, it is better for the environment and for your health.

Better brands to look for:

  • Seventh Generation – Seventh Generation tries to make their product as non-toxic as possible while still providing the results we are looking for in a cleaning product. They are also very transparent about the ingredients they put into their products. You can find them in the aisles almost anywhere you purchase your cleaning products.
  • Earth Friendly Products – Earth Friendly Products was founded in 1967 by a chemist dedicated to providing superiorEcos laundry detergent  cleaning results using only natural, non-toxic ingredients. For more information about Earth Friendly Products, you can read my review at http://mygreenside.org/?p=5841.
  • Shaklee – Locally you can find Shaklee products (or have them ordered for you) at Eco Chic Boutique in Fargo.

Conserve Energy

About 90% of the energy used for washing clothes in a conventional top-load washer is for heating the water. There are two ways to reduce the amount of energy used for washing clothes—use less water and use cooler water.

Unless you’re dealing with oily stains, the warm or cold water setting on your machine will generally do a good job of cleaning your clothes. Switching your temperature setting from hot to warm can cut a load’s energy use in half.

More tips on how to conserve energy:

  • Wash your clothes in cold water using cold-water detergents whenever possible.
  • Wash and dry full loads. If you are washing a small load, use the appropriate water-level setting.
  • Dry towels and heavier cottons in a separate load from lighter-weight clothes.
  • Don’t over-dry your clothes. If your machine has a moisture sensor, use it.
  • Clean the lint filter in the dryer after every load to improve air circulation.
  • Use the cool-down cycle to allow the clothes to finish drying with the residual heat in the dryer.
  • Periodically inspect your dryer vent to ensure it is not blocked. This will save energy and may prevent a fire. Manufacturers recommend using rigid venting material, not plastic vents that may collapse and cause blockages.
  • Consider air-drying clothes on clothes lines or drying racks. Air-drying is recommended by clothing manufacturers for some fabrics

Source: U.S. Department of Energy

Be Good to Your Clothes

Tips for extending the life of your clothes:

  • Limit dryer use to save energy, money, and threads. Your dryer can wreak havoc on clothes by fading the colors and affecting the quality of the fabric.
  • Add a couple of teaspoons of table salt in with your detergent to make your clothes brighter and prevent colors from running.

For more tips about using salt in the wash, check out HowStuffWorks: Uses for Salt: Doing the Laundry at http://tlc.howstuffworks.com/home/uses-for-salt-doing-the-laundry-ga.htm.

Tips for Fresher Laundry:

  • Add baking soda or distilled white vinegar to detergent to clean, deodorize, and brighten clothes.
  • Turn your clothing inside out in the washer and dryer. This prevents the outside from getting worn out.
  • Switch to cold water wash—doing so not only saves energy but also prevents colors from bleeding or fading, which tends to happen with hot or warm water.
  • Make sure to button and zipper up your clothes. This prevents snags that could ruin your clothes after several washes.
  • Keep lights, darks, and delicate clothing separate to keep colors bright and clothing in good shape.

Source: Green Living Ideas

My Green Side’s web pick of the week:

Real Simple

We’ve all seen their magazine but have you visited RealSimple.com? It’s an awesome site full of great tips on things like New Uses for Old Things. Learn how to repurpose hundreds of everyday items—from accordion files to zippered plastic bags—in surprising ways that can save you time, money and help the environment.

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I was beyond thrilled to be asked to write another guest post for Dr. Greene’s amazing website, DrGreene.com. I’m aDrGreene.com huge fan of Dr. Greene and all the work he’s done for children and for families.

Dr. Alan Greene is a Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at Stanford University School of Medicine, an Attending Pediatrician at Packard Children’s Hospital, and a Senior Fellow at the University California San Francisco Center for the Health Professions. He’s also the father of four children so he’s well equipped to give real life answers to real life concerns that all parents deal with at home.

Dr. Greene has been featured in the New York Times, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal as well as every major parenting publication. He has appeared on CNN, The Today Show, Good Morning America – Health, The Dr. Oz Show, and NBC, CBS, and ABC Evening News.

To read my post, Getting Out in Nature, visit http://www.drgreene.com/perspectives/getting-out-in-nature/.

Getting Out in Nature

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EDITOR’S NOTE: EACH TUESDAY MY GREEN SIDE BRINGS SIMPLE TIPS FOR GREEN LIVING TO THE CHRISTOPHER GABRIEL PROGRAMWE ALSO HIGHLIGHT A FAVORITE GREEN SITE EACH WEEK. YOU CAN STREAM THE SEGMENT AT APPROXIMATELY 1220PM (CENTRAL) EVERY TUESDAY AT WDAY.COM OR, IF YOU’RE IN NORTH DAKOTA OR WESTERN MINNESOTA, LISTEN ON YOUR RADIO AT AM970 WDAY.

GREEN TIP: When you’re organizing your spring cleaning keep in mind that switching to green cleaning products will improve your health, lessen adverse environmental impacts and save money.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), of the 2,863 most commonly used chemicals only 7% have complete toxicity data and 43% have NO toxicity information available.

The EPA also ranks indoor air pollution among the top environmental dangers, and much of this pollution comes from common cleaning products. Immediate effects of exposure to indoor pollutants can include headaches, dizziness, fatigue, and irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, as well as intensified symptoms of asthma and other respiratory illnesses. Long-term effects (following long or repeated exposure to indoor pollutants) include respiratory diseases, heart disease, and even cancer.

“With spring upon us, it’s that time when millions of Americans are prepping for a major home cleaning,” according to EWG’s Director of Research, Renée Sharp. “But lurking in many available and widely used cleaning products are highly toxic chemicals associated with a number of serious health problems. The good news is there are plenty of products that will get the job done without exposing you and your family to these hazardous substances.”

Despite the potentially serious consequences of exposure to indoor air pollutants, the government doesn’t regulate or assess the safety (or even labeling) of the vast majority of cleaning products on the market. The EPA, meanwhile, only regulates cleaners that contain registered pesticides. This means that consumers are basically on their own when it comes to choosing safe cleaning products — a task that’s way easier said than done.

Source: Greatist.com and Environmental Working Group.

For reviews of the toxicity of hundreds of household cleaners, check out the Environmental Working Group’s guide at http://www.ewg.org/guides/cleaners.

Some of my favorite green cleaning recipes/tips:

OVENS:

  • Sprinkle baking soda ¼ inch deep over the bottom of your oven. Spray with water until thoroughly damp, but not flooded. Let sit overnight, add water as necessary to maintain dampness. In the morning, the white baking soda residue left behind is easily wiped off, unlike commercial oven cleaner residue that is intensified the next time you use your oven.

GLASS CLEANER:

  • Mix warm water with either white vinegar or lemon juice in a spray bottle. Reduce waste by using a soft cloth or newspaper instead of paper towels (and they leave a better finish).

FABRIC RINSE/SOFTENER:

  • Add ¼ cup of white vinegar to the washing machine’s rinse cycle to remove detergent completely from clothes, eliminating that scratchy feel. This will not leave your clothes smelling like vinegar!

DETERGENT BOOSTER:

  • To reduce the amount of laundry detergent you need to use, add baking soda or washing soda, which softens the water and increases the detergent’s power.

FURNITURE:

  • Combine 2 teaspoons olive oil, 20 drops of pure essential lemon oil and ¼ cup white vinegar in a spray bottle. Mix well and apply using a soft cloth.

WOOD FLOORS:

  • Apply a thin coat of equal parts oil and white vinegar and rub in well, or;
  • Combine 1/8 cup liquid soap, ½ cup white vinegar or lemon juice, ½ cup fragrant herbal tea and 2 gallons warm water in a large bucket. Mop as usual.

AIR FRESHENERS:

  • Set out cedar blocks, an open box of baking soda or sachets of dried flowers and herbs.
  • Simmer whole spices like cinnamon sticks, cloves or allspice in water on the stove top.
  • Diffuse essential plant oils like lemon verbena and lavender.

ALL-PURPOSE CLEANER:

  • Dissolve 4 tablespoons of baking soda in 1 quart of warm water, or;
  • Mix 1 part white vinegar to 3 parts water.

ALL-PURPOSE DISINFECTANT:

  • Mix 2 teaspoons borax, 4 tablespoons white vinegar, ¼ teaspoons liquid castile soap (like Dr. Bronner’s) and 3 cups hot water.

TUB AND TILE:

  • Mix 1 & 2/3 cups baking soda, ½ cup liquid castile soap and ½ cup water. Add 2 tablespoons white vinegar, or;
  • Use half a lemon with a sprinkle of baking soda on it.

Here are three favorites from Jennifer Taggart, The Smart Mama:

  • To clean your garbage disposal (or snow cone machine), make vinegar ice cubes. Just put 1 cup distilled white vinegar in an ice cube tray, fill the balance with water, and freeze. Once frozen, drop a couple down the disposal (or put in the snow cone machine) and run it. The vinegar helps disinfect and the ice helps remove any food stuck on the blades.
  • To clean your microwave, just use lemon slices. Place some in a microwave safe cup or bowl with 6 ounces or so of water. Heat on high for 3 minutes, let sit for 3 minutes (without opening the door), and then open and wipe clean. Crusted food should lift easily and your microwave will smell lemon fresh without hormone disrupting phthalates.
  • Dr. Bronner’s rose liquid castile soap and baking soda. I use this combination as a soft scrub for sinks and counter tops, and also to clean my toilet. Just mix them until you get a consistency you like. I prefer to place them in a old squeeze bottle and stir with a chop stick. If you are cleaning your toilet, just squirt under the rim and let sit. After 5 minutes or so, follow up with some vinegar and let foam. Then flush.

Some great shopping tips:

Look for products with the Green Seal. Green Seal, Inc. is the only organization that comprehensively evaluates non-toxic products. READ LABELS. Companies are not required by law to list all product ingredients so only purchase brands that advertise full ingredient disclosure so you know what you’re bringing into your home.

My Green Side’s web pick of the week:

Enviroblog

The Environmental Working Group’s blog. Smart discussion of the latest science and news on toxins in your food, water, and air, and what government agencies should be doing to protect public health. Written by EWG staff.

For more spring cleaning tips and the top cleaners to use and to avoid, visit http://www.ewg.org/release/spring-cleaning-ewg-s-tips-what-use-and-what-avoid.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: EACH TUESDAY MY GREEN SIDE BRINGS SIMPLE TIPS FOR GREEN LIVING TO THE CHRISTOPHER GABRIEL PROGRAMWE ALSO HIGHLIGHT A FAVORITE GREEN SITE EACH WEEK. YOU CAN STREAM THE SEGMENT AT APPROXIMATELY 1220PM (CENTRAL) EVERY TUESDAY AT WDAY.COM OR, IF YOU’RE IN NORTH DAKOTA OR WESTERN MINNESOTA, LISTEN ON YOUR RADIO AT AM970 WDAY.

GREEN TIP: Eat a variety of foods to make sure you are getting the fullest range of nutrients in your diet. A great Eating the rainbowway to do this is by avoiding processed foods and by Eating a Rainbow – choose fresh fruits and vegetables from each color of a rainbow.

To read more about Eating a Rainbow, visit Fruit & Veggies More Matters.

Eating healthy is important for everyone but it’s especially critical for children. Pound for pound, children eat and drink more than adults so healthy eating is essential in order to safely nourish their growing bodies.

Here are some healthy eating tips from our friends at Healthy Child, Healthy World:

  • Choose to eat and prepare organic, whole foods rather than packaged foods whenever possible. The easiest way to eat healthier is to start making your food instead of buying prepared food and warming it.
  • Buy organic varieties of these 10 fruits and vegetables: peaches, apples, nectarines, strawberries, pears, sweet bell peppers, celery, imported grapes, spinach and potatoes. For more information, visit http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/.
  • Avoid genetically modified organisms (aka GMOs or genetically engineered foods). For more information on GMOs visit www.responsibletechnology.org.
  • Avoid meat and dairy products with added hormones and antibiotics. The best way to ensure your meat is free of drugs, hormones and antibiotic-resistant bacteria is to buy organic meat varieties, which by law cannot come from treated animals. Local farms with pastured animals may also be a safer meat source. Talk to your nearby producers to find out what treatments they administer or feed to animals farmed for meat. Farms that don’t use any tend to be well worth whatever premium they may charge for their products.
  • Choose safer seafood. Visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch website to learn more and print a pocket guide. For more information, visit http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/cr/seafoodwatch.aspx.
  • Read labels. Look for foods with few and identifiable ingredients. Avoid the top five risky additives: Artificial Colors (anything that begins with FD&C ), Chemical Preservatives (Butylated Hydroxyanisole [BHA], Sodium Nitrate, Sodium Benzoate), Artificial Sweeteners (Aspartame, Acesulfame-K, Saccharin), Added Sugar (High Fructose Corn Syrup [HFCS], Corn Syrup, Dextrose, etc), Added Salt (Look at the sodium content and choose foods with the lowest amounts.)

My Green Side’s web pick of the week:

Live Love Fruit

Live Love Fruit was founded by Carly Fraser as a way to help spread the word about the benefits of fruit and vegetables and to promote a high raw, plant-based lifestyle. Using accumulated knowledge over her 10 year journey, and own personal experience, Carly has inspired and motivated thousands of individuals to critically think about what they put in their bodies and to move towards a mind-set that helps them increase their consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables.

Live Love Fruit

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EDITOR’S NOTE: EACH TUESDAY MY GREEN SIDE BRINGS SIMPLE TIPS FOR GREEN LIVING TO THE CHRISTOPHER GABRIEL PROGRAMWE ALSO HIGHLIGHT A FAVORITE GREEN SITE EACH WEEK. YOU CAN STREAM THE SEGMENT AT APPROXIMATELY 1220PM (CENTRAL) EVERY TUESDAY AT WDAY.COM OR, IF YOU’RE IN NORTH DAKOTA OR WESTERN MINNESOTA, LISTEN ON YOUR RADIO AT AM970 WDAY.

GREEN TIP: Surprise your Valentine with an experience, handmade gift or card, fair trade chocolate, PVC-Crayon Heartsfree gift certificate or organic flowers this Valentine’s Day. Show your love (or like) this year with a gift that says you care about the long-term impact of your actions.

Too often we buy things just to buy things on “holidays” like Valentine’s Day. If you feel like giving your sweetie something meaningful this year, I have some suggestions:

EXPERIENCES

  • Any busy person would appreciate a handmade certificate for a homemade dinner, doing laundry for a week (hint, hint) or any other task you know would be a delight to have done by someone else.
  • Dinner and a movie. Either take your sweetie out or have a theme dinner and a movie at home. Dinner at Mezzaluna in Fargo would be an excellent local selection. For more information and menu offerings, visit http://dinemezzaluna.com/.
  • Plan a trip to an art gallery or museum. Some local options: Plains Art Museum in Fargo, for more information visit http://plainsart.org/ and the Rourke Art Museum in Moorhead, for more information visit http://www.therourke.org/.
  • Get creative. You know your loved one better than anyone so really make the day special.

Some local experiences to consider:

The Fourth Annual Unglued Craft Fest is coming up on February 21st and 22nd, 2014. Getting tickets for Friday’s Unglued Craft FestGala event would be a wonderful gift for your crafty, artistic Valentine (hint, hint). For more information, visit http://www.ungluedmarket.com/.

A membership to the Prairie Roots Food Cooperative is a gift that lasts a lifetime. With very affordable membership options, this would be a perfect gift for your sustainable Valentine. For more information, visit http://prairie-roots.coop/.

The Fargo Film Festival is coming up on March 4th through 8th, 2014. Great gift idea for your Valentine. For more information, visit http://www.fargofilmfestival.org/.

GIFT CERTIFICATES

  • A gift certificate for an experience like a trip to a local spa or restaurant. Most local (non-chain) stores and restaurant still use paper gift certificates instead of plastic cards made from PVC.

The folks at GiftZip.com have a wonderful tip. The next time you’re purchasing a gift card go for the electronic (and paperless) option, an eGift card. Each year, 75 million pounds of PVC is dumped into landfills from plastic gift card waste (Plenty Magazine). That’s an astronomical amount of waste for something that can easily and conveniently be sent virtually. We’ve talked about PVC before. PVC is notoriously difficult to recycle and cannot be tossed into the recycling bin along side your other household items. You must send those pesky plastic cards to a PVC recycling plant, the only one I know of is EarthWorks. For a directory of retailers that offer an eGift card, go to GiftZip.com.

CHOCOLATE

If you’re buying your Valentine some chocolates, make sure they are fairly traded and organic. This way you can be certain you are supporting sustainable agriculture and worker health and rights and, at the same time, giving your Valentine a eco-sweet treat.

ORGANIC FLOWERS

Organic flowers, organic chocolate and even organic baked goods. Thanks to my friend Melissa Hincha-Ownby, I discovered OrganicBouquet.com.

Organic Bouquet offers sustainably grown flowers fresh from their partner farms. They promote and live up to the highest social and environmental standards—developing the most eco-friendly floral packaging, initiating the industry’s first carbon offset program, and growing their flowers in a way that is gentle on the earth and that safeguards the ecology and the well-being of wildlife and farm workers.

Do you have any other ideas for greening someone’s Valentine’s Day?

My Green Side’s weekly web pick:

The Daily Green

TheDailyGreen.com is a consumer’s guide to green living. The site is packed with daily news, tips, recipes, features and more. In 2011, TheDailyGreen.com joined forces with Good Housekeeping.

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