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GREEN TIP: There are things you can do RIGHT NOW to begin living more sustainably. Today we’ll take a look in the kitchen.

As we go through our daily routines there are simple things we can do to reduce our impact on the planet. Here’s a look at some of the things you can do today in your kitchen to start living more sustainably:

  • Clean off the top of your refrigerator. Storing things on top of your refrigerator actually makes it work harder – interfering with its operation and using more energy.
  • Keep local and organic foods in your fridge. Plan to grow your own food this year, support local farmers and shop at natural food stores (like Sydney’s Health Market in our area).
  • If you’re using is correctly, a dishwasher actually uses less energy than washing by hand with hot water.
  • Don’t rinse your dishes before placing them in the dishwasher. This save the planet 6,500 gallons of water per year and you at least $30 per year. Scrape your food scraps into a compost bin.
  • Speaking of compost bins… if you haven’t already, start composting. Instead of throwing your compostable waste into a landfill, throw them in your compost bin
  • Run your dishwasher on the economy cycle or prop the dishwasher door open to air-dry, rather than using the heater dry function.
  • Only run your dishwasher when it’s completely full.
  • Save energy and time when boiling water by placing a lid on the pot.
  • A few minutes before you’re finished cooking, turn the burners off completely. The residual heat will finish the job.
  • A heated oven loses 20% of its heat every time it’s opened. Use the light to check on your food.
  • Avoid excessively packaged foods. Buy bulk foods or products packaged in recyclable materials or reusable containers.

Source: Do It Green! Magazine, published by The Twin Cities Green Guide www.doitgreen.org and GreenAmerica.org.

My Green Side’s web pick of the week:

The Center for Ecoliteracy

The Center for Ecoliteracy supports and advances education for sustainable living. They are best known for their work in school food reform and integrating sustainability into K–12 curricula, they have engaged with educators from across the United States and six continents.

They offer books, educational materials, film guides, and studies. They conduct seminars, offer presentations at conferences and other events, and provide strategic consulting services to schools and districts.

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by Wendy Gabriel

GREEN TIP: When you use water wisely you help the environment, save energy and save money.

We all know that water is essential to life on earth. We need water for a variety of everyday needs from growing food, providing power to drinking.

We are using up our planet’s fresh water faster than it can naturally be replenished so we all need to use our water wisely.

To provide enough clean fresh water for people, water is cleaned at drinking water treatment plants before it is used. And after water is used, it is cleaned again at wastewater treatment plants or by a septic system before being put back into the environment.

Saving water is good for the earth, your family, and your community.

  • When you use water wisely, you help the environment. You save water for fish and animals. You help preserve drinking water supplies. And you ease the burden on wastewater treatment plants—the less water you send down the drain, the less work these plants have to do to make water clean again.
  • When you use water wisely, you save energy. You save the energy that your water supplier uses to treat and move water to you, and the energy your family uses to heat your water.
  • When you use water wisely, you save money. Your family pays for the water you use. If you use less water, you’ll have more money left to spend on other things.

Source: JEA.com

Here are some Simple Tips for conserving water:

  • Turn off the tap when you are brushing your teeth.
  • Adjust sprinklers so only your lawn is watered and not the house, sidewalk, or street. And water your lawn and garden in the morning or evening when temperatures are cooler to minimize evaporation.
  • Don’t water your lawn on windy days when most of the water blows away or evaporates.
  • Run your clothes washer and dishwasher only when they are full. You can save up to 1,000 gallons a month.
  • Spreading a layer of organic mulch around plants retains moisture and saves water, time and money.
  • Adjust your lawn mower to a higher setting. A taller lawn shades roots and holds soil moisture better than if it is closely clipped.
  • Choose shrubs and groundcovers instead of turf for hard-to-water areas such as steep slopes and isolated strips.
  • Use a water-efficient showerhead. They’re inexpensive, easy to install, and can save you up to 750 gallons a month.
  • When you give your pet fresh water, don’t throw the old water down the drain. Use it to water your plants, trees or shrubs.
  • When you have ice left in your cup from a take-out restaurant, don’t throw it in the trash, dump it on a plant.

Source: Water Use It Wisely

More interesting information about water: Three Myths about Water

My Green Side’s web pick of the week:

National Wildlife Federation
The National Wildlife Federation (NWF) works to inspire Americans to protect wildlife for our children’s future. As the nation’s largest conservation organization, NWF and its 4 million supporters are committed to sustaining the nature of America for the benefit of people and wildlife.

Find out How You Can Help Wildlife Impacted by the BP Oil Spill.

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 1020am (CDT) every Wednesday at WDAY.com.

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by Wendy Gabriel

One of my number one concerns in my everyday life is the health of my family. I believe that healthy eating is oneEating at the MN State Fair of the best preventive steps we can take to ensure our bodies remain illness free. But how can I pack a healthy meal and send it off filled with disposable paper and plastic wrappings? This scenario isn’t good for my family or the environment. When I’m packing a healthy meal to go, I want the containers to be as good for the health of my family and the environment as possible. And, as I mentioned in a previous Green Tip, we strive to buy reusable products instead of purchasing disposable products that contribute to our waste stream.

Enter Litter Free Lunch.

Litter Free LunchI haven’t done a lot of reviews at My Green Side but when Felice Farran, co-owner of Litter Free Lunch, contacted me I was more than happy to try their products. Primarily because the Litter Free Lunch mission is to provide creative, fun products that help reduce daily waste. Fantastic! 

They kindly sent me a set of their cotton lunch box napkins and a matching reusable sandwich bag. My husband, Christopher, was the guinea pig… and I was more than a little curious to get his reaction. He’s not a huge fan of change and he’s very picky about his food and the presentation of his food. I figured if he liked the Litter Free Lunch products, chances are they’re awesome. The reusable sandwich bag is big and expandable, large enough for a man-sized sandwich but able to accommodate a normal one as well. The cotton napkins are the perfect lunch size and have a tag on them with a spot specifically for writing a child’s name. Well, it was unanimous. I loved them for the ease of use and their eco-friendliness and Christopher loved them because he was getting a lunch every day. He thought they kept his sandwich fresh and enjoyed actually having a napkin while feeling his lunch was not adversely impacting the environment (or our budget). Now when our oldest starts bringing a lunch next fall, I already know where I’m getting her containers, napkins and reusable sandwich bags. Thank you Litter Free Lunch!

Little Free Lunch NapkinsDid you know: A household of four that replaces paper napkins with reusable cloth ones could save $70 per year or more on napkin costs while reducing their waste by up to 40 pounds per year. If every household made this shift, we could prevent 1.5 million tons of paper napkin waste from entering the landfill each year.

Source: ShiftYourHabit.com

Litter Free Lunch will be having a Earth Day promotion starting in April — 15% off code will be EARTH40. It will run April 1 – April 30th, 2010.

Litter Free Lunch also has some great Litter Free Lunch tips for us:

  • Replace brown paper bags with a reusable lunch box or bag.
  • Swear off plastic bags and use stainless steel food containers.
  • Switch from disposable paper napkins to reusable cloth napkins.
  • Give up the habit of disposable water bottles and replace it with a reusable stainless steel water bottle.
  • Skip disposable plastic cutlery and pack a reusable spoons or forks.
  • Save money by avoiding individually wrapped or packaged items like yogurt, cheese, cookies or crackers. Buy larger sizes and pack portions in reusable containers. It’s green and saves green!

Check out Litter Free Lunch online at litterfreelunch.com. You can also follow them on Twitter.

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human activity

Guest Article by Adam Shake

My brother once said, “If our family had a family crest, it would be a skinny guy standing on a soapbox, fist in the air and yelling into a bullhorn.” Yup, that’s the Shake Men. Ready to mix it up at the slightest provocation of a dissenting opinion. Ready to espouse upon an idea and even more than ready to defend an argument. The problem is, the Shake Men don’t see eye to eye on all subjects, which makes for some VERY interesting family get-togethers!

This being said, I’m a little flummoxed at my current state of nervousness, given the opportunity to Guest Post for Wendy.  You see, my bio says things like writer, activist, environmental advocate, member of professional business sustainability panels and Co-Founder of an online media company with seven environmental websites and some of the worlds best writers. It’s full of accolades and highfalutin verbiage that really serve no other purpose but convince people that I might, kinda, know what I’m talking about. To me though, it speaks of my passion.

So why am I nervous? Because to me, Wendy, and her zeal to make a difference for her girls, her family and herself, are what inspire me. It’s Wendy (and people like her) who keep me going, keep me passionate and make we want to make the world a better place. Because that’s what environmentalism is really all about, isn’t it? Making the world a better place for our children and theirs? So if I write an article for Wendy, it’s a little different than writing an article for some big, huge website with millions of readers. It’s different than being interviewed on the radio. It’s different than speaking at a conference. Wendy is a friend, and this, is personal.

But I digress. What I really want to talk about is community and what draws us together, and how our environment is a catalyst for what I’m finding to be, a warm, vibrant and caring group of people.

Just a few years ago, we were called hippies. But now we’re wearing suites and ties to work while taking the Metro train to our jobs on Pennsylvania Avenue. A few years ago, we were called TreeHuggers, and now we are proud to wear that label. A few years ago, we were protecting spotted owls and the loggers were mad. Now we are protecting whole swaths of forest so that they can act as carbon sinks to absorb excess Co2 and lessen the impact of Global Warming. Yes, a few years ago, we were sitting in trees to keep the trees from being cut down. Now we’re sitting in trees to keep mountain tops from being blow off to extract the coal in what is one of the most devastating acts to our environmental and human health. Yes, we’ve gone mainstream, and in doing so, we’ve made connections and communities with people who care about everything from corals dying from ocean acidification to children dying desertification.

You are part of this community. You may have a cause, an ideal, an area of land, an ethos, even an animal that you think is worth fighting for. But whether you care about Acid rain, Bio-fuel or Coal, Diesel Hybrids, Energy or High Fructose Corn Syrup, we are a family. A family who cares. A family united in one single cause, creating a better world for our children and theirs.

My message to you is this. When people start to care as much about others as they care about themselves, they will start to care about the environment. Because the environment is what care for us all.

We must move forward. Our community must demand that the health of our planet be placed above the profits of Corporations. Only then, will we gain the one fundamental freedom of which we are all entitled to by virtue of birth – the freedom to live. To Breath. To Drink. To Eat. Without fear of sickness or death.

Keep up the good fight and Alter the Eco!

Thank you Wendy, for allowing me the honor of adding to your wonderful site. Thank you also for being a friend to our lovely planet, your great community and to myself.

Editor’s Note: I am elated to have Adam Shake, the Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Simple Earth Media and founder of Twilight Earth and EcoTech Daily, bring his point of view to My Green Side. Not only is Adam a noted environmental writer, advocate, entrepreneur, speaker and Washington DC-based activist; he is my friend.

Cartoon courtesy of  Seppo.net


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by Wendy Gabriel

GREEN TIP: Join the Cool Foods Campaign and take a bite out of global Little Greek goddesswarming. An added benefit… you’ll be healthier.

The way we eat has a direct impact not only on our health but also on the health of our planet. You are what you eat. And what you eat can either be a natural part of the circle of life or have a negative impact on our planet.

The Cool Foods Campaign – a project of the Center for Food Safety and the CornerStone Campaign – makes the connections between the foods we eat and their contribution to global warming. The Campaign aims to educate the public about the impact of their food choices across the entire food system and empower them with the resources to reduce this impact.

An easy way to tell if your food is “Cool,” or if it has excessively contributed to global warming, is to ask yourself these 5 simple questions before you buy.

(1) Is this food organic?

Organic foods are produced without the use of energy-intensive and synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, growth hormones, antibiotics, and they are not genetically engineered or irradiated.

In addition to the emissions from fertilizer production, nitrous oxide, a very potent greenhouse gas, is emitted when these chemicals are applied to farmland. Conventional fertilizers also pollute water sources, which kills fish and plants and emits methane, also a very potent greenhouse gas.

Unlike organic farming, conventional agriculture contributes to erosion by overusing synthetic pesticides. Not only does erosion emit carbon dioxide, but it transports agricultural chemicals to water sources.

To Be Cooler

Buy organic and look for the USDA organic label to ensure that the food you eat is “certified organic.”

(2) Is this product made from a factory farm animal?

Conventional factory farmed meat – eg. beef, poultry, pork, dairy, and farmed seafood – is the #1 cause of global warming in our food system. A recent study from Carnegie Mellon University indicates that almost 60% of greenhouse gas emissions from food are from animal products. Animals in industrial systems are fed foods they cannot biologically process. They are confined to unhealthy and overcrowded cages – conditions that contribute to malnutrition and disease. In an attempt to keep animals healthy they are sprayed with over 2 million pounds of insecticides and their cages are sprayed with over 360,000 pounds of insecticides every year. They also ingest an astounding 84% of all the antimicrobials, including antibiotics, used annually in the United States.

Every year, livestock consume about half of all of the grains and oilseeds that are grown in the U.S., thereby consuming over 14 billion pounds of fertilizers and over 174 million pounds of pesticides. Producing all of these chemicals requires huge amounts of energy and is a major cause of global warming.

To Be Cooler

Limit your consumption of conventional meat, dairy, and farmed seafood. Buy organic, local or grass-fed meat and dairy whenever possible, since these foods are produced without energy-intensive synthetic pesticides and herbicides and may use fewer fossil fuels, and look for wild (not farmed), local seafood.

Another Cool Idea

Join the Meatless Monday movement. Reduce your impact on climate change by going vegetarian once a week. It’s easy!

(3) Has this food been processed?

Compared to whole foods such as fruits and vegetables, processed foods require the use of energy-intensive processes such as freezing, canning, drying, and packaging. Processed foods are usually sold in packages that contain a label listing the ingredients and are located in the center aisles of most grocery stores.

To Be Cooler

Do your best to avoid processed foods all together, but “certified organic” processed foods are a good alternative.

(4) How far did this food travel to reach my plate?

Transporting food throughout the world emits 30,800 tons of greenhouse gas every year. The average conventional food product travels about 1,500 miles to get to your grocery store.

To Be Cooler

Choose locally produced foods or foods grown as close to your home as possible. Look for country-of-origin labels on whole foods and avoid products from far away.

(5) Is this food excessively packaged?

Packaging materials, like many plastics, are oil-based materials that require energy to be created and are responsible for emitting 24,200 tons of greenhouse gas every year.

To Be Cooler

Buy whole foods. Purchase loose fruits and vegetables (rather than bagged or shrink-wrapped), buy bulk beans, pasta, cereals, seeds, nuts, and grains, and carry your own reusable grocery bags.

Food Choice and Beyond

You can reduce your FoodPrint by making conscious food choices that contribute to the reduction in global warming. Talk with your local store managers and encourage them to stock local and organic foods. (Source: Cool Foods Campaign)

My Green Side’s weekly web pick:

Meatless Monday
The Meatless Monday website gives additional reasons to avoid factory farm meat and their goal is help reduce meat consumption by 15% in order to improve personal health and the health of our planet. They are a non-profit initiative, in association with Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health.

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 1020am (CDT) every Wednesday at WDAY.com.


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by Wendy Gabriel

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Twilight Earth and I was recently honored to become one of their contributing writers. Twilight Earth is dedicated to saving the Environment through shared News, Discussion, Advocacy and Activism and is all about clean Air, Water and Soil, three basic human rights that are essential to our survival.

So here’s the big news of the day courtesy of Simple Earth Media:

Sean Daily, CEO of Green Living Ideas, Inc. and Adam Shake, founder of Twilight Earth, have teamed up to create online environmental media company Simple Earth Media.

A group of the Web’s leading environmental blogs, podcasts, and social media outposts Simple Earth Mediatoday announced that they have combined to form a single environmental publishing and social media powerhouse. The resulting new entity, named Simple Earth Media, includes top environmental media and publishing entities such as Green Living Ideas, Blue Living Ideas, Twilight Earth, GreenTalk Radio, EcoTech Daily, and Natural Papa.

Simple Earth Media’s brand mission is to create a compelling, organic, educational network of environmental online venues that engage an ever-growing audience concerned with sustainable lifestyle habits and business practices.

“Bringing the Green Living Ideas and Twilight Earth site networks together was a natural fit all around,” said Sean Daily, Simple Earth Media’s CEO and President. Daily continued, “Adam and I share a very similar outlook and perspective, not only on the type of editorial content that is necessary and relevant for the future of humanity and the planet, but also in regards to the types of companies we want to work with as sponsors and advertisers supporting our network. We are also really fortunate to have a combined staff of the best writers in the business.”

In addition to the sizeable daily web traffic and newsletter subscribers of the constituent sites, the combined social media audience and following of the Simple Earth Media network is unprecedented, totaling over 50,000 Twitter followers in addition to tens of thousands more friends and subscribers on FaceBook, LinkedIn and other social media platforms — making it one of the largest online environmental social media communities in the world.

The Simple Earth Media family of websites and audio/video podcasts, cover the topics that conscious consumers are most concerned with, including sustainable living tips and ideas, alternative energy and alternative fuel vehicles, water, ocean, and marine life conservation, clean tech, environmental news, and natural health and parenting topics.

Our success is measured on the change that we make in helping to protect and nurture our environment, our families and our health,” says Adam Shake, founder of Twilight Earth. “It’s not about saving the environment, it’s about saving ourselves. Clean air, water and soil are basic human rights. We’ve got to continue to fight for those rights.”

Simple Earth Media employs some of the Web’s best-known and most highly-regarded environmental writers, including Derek Markham, Jennifer Lance, Ariel Schwartz, Susan Kraemer, Scott James, Wendy Gabriel and numerous others. The company’s tagline is “New Media Making a Difference.”

As a family of environmental websites, Simple Earth Media can better assist you in finding the information you’re looking for, to help educate you on the changing world you live in. As always, we continue to offer our support to you, our readers, as we continue to grow.

Here’s to working together in a much bigger way, and to making positive change to our planet and its inhabitants!

Go to Simple Earth Media to find out more about this exciting new powerhouse.


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by Wendy Gabriel

Editor’s Note: Each Wednesday My Green Side brings Simple Tips for GreenIdeal Bite Living to The Christopher Gabriel Program. We also highlight a different favorite green site each week. You can stream the segment at approximately 1020am (CDT) every Wednesday at WDAY.com.

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

According to Rebecca at Kids-Going-Green.com, the main problem 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 get washed down our drains and into our waterways polluting 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.

Source: Kids-Going-Green.com

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.

o  Wash your clothes in cold water using cold-water detergents whenever possible.
o  Wash and dry full loads. If you are washing a small load, use the appropriate water-level setting.
o  Dry towels and heavier cottons in a separate load from lighter-weight clothes.
o  Don’t over-dry your clothes. If your machine has a moisture sensor, use it.
o  Clean the lint filter in the dryer after every load to improve air circulation.
o  Use the cool-down cycle to allow the clothes to finish drying with the residual heat in the dryer.
o  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.
o  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

The folks at Green Living Ideas have some great tips for extending the life of your clothes:

o  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.
o  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.

Also visit 5 Tips for Fresher Laundry.

o  Add baking soda or distilled white vinegar to detergent to clean, deodorize, and brighten clothes.
o  Turn your clothing inside out in the washer and dryer. This prevents the outside from getting worn out.
o  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.
o  Make sure to button and zipper up your clothes. This prevents snags that could ruin your clothes after several washes.
o  Keep lights, darks, and delicate clothing separate to keep colors bright and clothing in good shape.

Source: Green Living Ideas

My Green Side’s weekly website pick:

Ideal Bite
Bite-size ideas for healthy, light green living.

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by Wendy Gabriel

GREEN TIP: Avoid buying school supplies that are made from WDAY Green Tipspolyvinyl chloride (PVC or vinyl). The health risks of PVC are prevalent throughout the life span of this unnecessary toxic plastic. From the manufacturing process, the use and the disposal, PVC causes health risks for the communities near the chemical plants, our children and our environment.

According to the Center for Health, Environment & Justice (CHEJ), PVC plastic is one of the most hazardous consumer products ever created. PVC is dangerous to human health and the environment throughout its entire life cycle, at the factory, in our homes, and in the trash. Our bodies are contaminated with poisonous chemicals released during the PVC lifecycle, such as mercury, dioxins, and phthalates, which may pose irreversible life-long health threats. When produced or burned, PVC plastic releases dioxins, a group of the most potent synthetic chemicals ever tested, which can cause cancer and harm the immune and reproductive systems.

CHEJ has created a Back-to-School Guide to PVC-Free School Supplies to empower all of us to make smarter, healthier shopping choices for a toxic-free future. The guide lists the most common back-to-school supplies made out of PVC plastic and suggests safer PVC-free alternatives.


• Products that are labeled with the words “vinyl” on the packaging.
• The number “3” inside the universal recycling symbol.
• The letters “V” or “PVC” underneath the universal recycling symbol.
• Other toxic plastics to avoid: polycarbonate (PC), polystyrene (PS) and acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) plastics.

For additional information:
CHEJ’s report, PVC: The Poison Plastic.
Beth Terry’s informative summary on the evils of PVC, New Guide to PVC-Free School Supplies.


Rather than recycling or tossing PVC items, like old vinyl curtains and floor tiles, in the trash, Mike Schade, CHEJ’s PVC campaign coordinator, recommends disposing of them in hazardous waste landfill sites. Call your sanitation department or state environmental agency to see where you might dispose of hazardous material.

CHEJ also suggests returning PVC products and packaging to retailers and manufacturers. “We recommend consumers contact manufacturers and let them know that PVC is an unacceptably toxic material and that it should not be used in production,” says Anne Rabe with CHEJ. “As consumers, they can also send that message by not purchasing products packaged or made from PVC.” Look for the number 3 in the recycling symbol or the letter “V.”

This is becoming an easier task already. Rabe points out that there are a number of PVC alternatives already on the market. For example, Ikea now sells non-PVC shower curtains exclusively.

Some manufacturers have already heard the calls for a halt to PVC use in production. CHEJ has successfully worked with Victoria’s Secret and Microsoft to eliminate PVC from their packaging and is currently in talks with Target, Sears and Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart has already committed to eliminating PVC in its private-label-product packaging in two years.

Source: CHEJ’s report, PVC: The Poison Plastic

My Green Side’s weekly web pick:

The Center for Health, Environment & Justice (CHEJ)
CHEJ’s overarching goal has consistently been to prevent harm—particularly among vulnerable populations such as children. If a safer process, material or product exists it should be used. They believe that everyone, regardless of income, race, religion, or occupation, has a right to live, work, learn, play and pray in a healthy community.

Editor’s Note: Each Wednesday My Green Side brings Simple Tips for Green Living to The Christopher Gabriel Program. We also highlight a different favorite green site each week. You can stream the segment at approximately 1020am (CDT) every Wednesday at WDAY.com.

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 By Wendy Gabriel

GREEN TIP:  Use 1/4 to 1 cup of white vinegar to soften your clothes instead of commercial fabric softener.

It is unbelievable the chemicals contained in the products we are supposed to know and trust.  The cuddly, fabric softeners and dryer sheets you use to make your family’s clothes smell nice and feel soft are full of chemicals that could make everyone in your home very sick. 

When I was pregnant with our first baby, I began to use a non-toxic, bio-degradable laundry detergent.  And when she was born, I never used dryer sheets on her clothes.  I thought I was being good to her skin and to the environment. 

But by using dryer sheets with all the other laundry, I might as well have made a blanket of them and wrapped her in it because they have a chemical that makes them spew their “fresh” scent over and over again! 

According to the Allergy and Environmental Health Association (AEHA), the “product is designed to impregnate fibres and slowly re-release for an extended period of time.  That re-releasing affects the health not only of users, but those around them.”  Wonderful.  And apparently the fabric softener/dryer sheet-makers took a page out of the cigarette makers’ playbook and made sure to add “neurostimulant/irritants and central nervous system toxins”; they are added to produce “an addictive-type response that may cause the user to experience a feeling of pleasure when the product is directly inhaled.” 

The nicotine of the laundry industry. 

This wouldn’t be so terrible if the potential health effects of the chemicals used to make these products weren’t unbelievably awful.  I will list just a few:  Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), Alzheimer’s, Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), Dementia, Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis.  And, incredibly, there are even more. 

Health Recipes.com warns that “most of the dangerous chemicals in fabric softeners are most dangerous when inhaled.”  Does anyone test these products before they are beautifully packaged and mercilessly marketed?  I did find a test performed by Anderson JH Anderson Laboratories, Inc.  Their findings conclude that “the results provide a toxicological basis to explain some of the human complaints of adverse reactions to fabric softener emissions.”  Apparently not enough of a deterrent to the companies selling these delightful products!

Be good, beware and shop smart.

For additional safe alternatives to common household products, the AEHA’s website has a great list for you to check out.

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