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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 approximately1220pm (central) every Wednesday at WDAY.com or, if you’re in North Dakota or western Minnesota, listen on your radio at AM970 WDAY.

GREEN TIP: A properly maintained vehicle will last longer, pollute less and save fuel.

There are many reasons to practice good vehicle maintenance and to take steps to reduce your vehicle’s impact on the environment and public health. A properly maintained vehicle will last longer, pollute less and save fuel.

Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Avoid excessive idling. Excessive idling wastes fuel and can actually reduce the life of your vehicle. Newer vehicles are designed to warm up in 30 seconds or less, even in cold weather. Turn your engine off if you’re waiting for an extended period of time. Contrary to popular myth you typically don’t use more fuel restarting your vehicle. If you wait over 10 seconds to restart your vehicle, you are saving fuel.
  • Don’t top off your tank. Fuel spilled when your tank is over-filled usually evaporates and pollutes the air. Topping off also produces excessive gasoline vapors that contribute to bad ozone days and are a source of toxic air pollutants such as benzene. Remember you pay for the gas that evaporates or is spilled on the ground.
  • Care for your tires. Keep your wheels aligned and your tires properly inflated to increase fuel efficiency and make them last longer. Studies show that a 7 psi under-inflation can result in 10% increase in rolling resistance. Under inflated tires can lower gas mileage up to 1 mile per gallon. Check the tire pressure once a month.
  • Combine errands to make fewer trips. Your vehicle burns more gas and pollutes more in the first few minutes after a cold start then when warmed up and operated for longer periods. Combine trips or seek alternative modes of transportation like walking, biking or public transit.
  • Watch your speed. The average vehicle loses nearly two percent in gas mileage for every mile per hour over 55. Driving at high speeds also causes tires to wear out sooner because rubber breaks down faster at higher temperatures.
  • Drive smoothly. Over-accelerating and braking quickly are hard on your vehicle. If you can drive smoothly, you’ll save up to two miles per gallon. Fast starts use up to 50 percent more gas than slower starts.
  • Travel light. Clear out the trunk. For every 50 pounds of stuff you’re carrying around, you lose 1/4 miles per gallon.
  • Don’t ignore the light. In newer vehicles, the check engine light on your dashboard will turn on if the on-board computer on tour vehicle senses something is awry with your emission control equipment. Visit your mechanic and have your vehicle checked. If you don’t have a check engine light but your card sounds different, is running rough or emitting smoke visit your mechanic sooner rather than later. Small inexpensive repairs can turn into large expensive problems if left unchecked.
  • Recycle your used car products. Most fluids from your car are toxic and must be handled carefully. You can dispose of many used and unwanted car products properly at a household hazardous waste facility. They’ll recycle them or dispose of them safely. Batteries, tires, antifreeze, gasoline, motor oil and oil filters, diesel fuel, brake fluid and automatic transmission fluid can be recycled.
    • Antifreeze is toxic to pets and harmful to humans. Don’t pour it down the drain. Store used antifreeze in its original container.
    • Batteries contain lead and acid that can be recycled. These materials can contaminate ground water if not disposed of properly.
    • Used motor oil can be recycled at the curb in the Portland area. Pour the oil into an unbreakable, see-through container with a screw-on lid like a milk jug. Never pour oil down a household or storm drain where it can travel directly into streams and underground water sources or disrupt waste-treatment facilities.
    • Tires can be recycled but services vary across the state. Never burn tires. Tires emit highly toxic and noxious smoke when burned.

Source: State of Oregon Department of Environmental Control, Fact Sheet, Save Money and Clear the Air

My Green Side’s web pick of the week:

The Green Samaritan

The mission of The Green Samaritan is two-fold. First, to gather information so you don’t have to, and then pull out and share the best advice, resources and tips. To get you started they have a Quick Start Reference Guide.

Being kind to your environment through refined, renewed and resourceful living.

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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 Wednesday at WDAY.com or, if you’re in North Dakota or western Minnesota, listen on your radio at AM970 WDAY.

GREEN TIP: Plastic is generally toxic to produce, toxic to use, and toxic to dispose of. Learn how you can make safer choices.

Plastic products are everywhere. More and more we are discovering there are health risks that make these convenient products not so desirable. Plastics are releasing harmful chemicals into our air, foods, and drinks.

While studies are showing the health risks of plastics, they are also overtaking our landfills.

Every bit of plastic that has ever been created still exists (except for the little bit that has been incinerated, which releases toxic chemicals). In the ocean, plastic waste is accumulating in giant gyres of debris where, among other thing, fish are ingesting toxic plastic bits at a rate which will soon make them unsafe to eat. Source: Healthy Child Healthy World

According to Healthy Child Healthy World, the best thing to do is to reduce your use of plastic. Look for natural alternatives like textiles, solid wood, bamboo, glass, stainless steel, etc. Also, look for items with less (or no) plastic packaging. If you do buy plastic, opt for products you can recycle or re-purpose (e.g. a yogurt tub can be re-used to store crayons). And, get to know your plastics – starting with this guide:

The most common plastics have a resin code in a chasing arrow symbol (often found on the bottom of the product).

PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate): AVOID
Common Uses: Soda Bottles, Water Bottles, Cooking Oil Bottles
Concerns: Can leach antimony and phthalates.

HDPE (High Density Polyethylene): SAFER
Common Uses: Milk Jugs, Plastic Bags, Yogurt Cups

PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride, aka Vinyl): AVOID
Common Uses: Condiment Bottles, Cling Wrap, Teething Rings, Toys, Shower Curtains
Concerns: Can leach lead and phthalates among other things. Can also off-gas toxic chemicals.

LDPE (Low Density Polyethylene): SAFER
Common Uses: Produce Bags, Food Storage Containers

PP (Polypropylene): SAFER
Common Uses: Bottle Caps, Storage Containers, Dishware, Yogurt Containers

(TIP: You can recycle some of your #5 plastics including your used Brita pitcher filters through Preserve’s Gimme 5 recycling program.) 

PS (Polystyrene, aka Styrofoam): AVOID
Common Uses: Meat Trays, Foam Food Containers & Cups
Concerns: Can leach carcinogenic styrene and estrogenic alkylphenols

Other this is a catch-all category which includes:
PC (Polycarbonate): AVOID– can leach Bisphenol-A (BPA). It also includes ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene), SAN (Styrene Acrylonitrile), Acrylic, and Polyamide. These plastics can be a safer option because they are typically very durable and resistant to high heat resulting in less leaching. Their drawbacks are that they are not typically recyclable and some need additional safety research. New plant-based, biodegradable plastics like PLA (Polylactic Acid) also fall into the #7 category.

Source: Healthy Child Healthy World

My Green Side’s web pick of the week:

My Plastic Free Life
Beth Terry is the founder of My Plastic Free Life and, upon learning how plastics were adversely impacting wildlife, she decided to try to completely reduce the amount of new plastic that came into her home. This site has tips on how to reduce plastic consumption. Her Top 2 Ways to Reduce Plastic Waste: Bring your own shopping bag and give up bottled water.

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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 Wednesday at WDAY.com or, if you’re in North Dakota or western Minnesota, listen on your radio at AM970 WDAY.

GREEN TIP: Finding ways to sustainably improve the quality of your indoor air will minimize your health risks. 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the American Lung Association, the World Health Organization and other public health and environmental organizations view indoor air pollution as one of the greatest risks to human health.

People can experience health effects from indoor air pollutants soon after exposure or years later. Immediate effects include irritation of the eyes, nose and throat, headaches, dizziness and fatigue. Such immediate effects are usually short term and treatable. Indoor air pollution may also trigger symptoms of some diseases, including asthma, dermatitis, allergic rhinitis and hypersensitivity pneumonitis soon after exposure. More serious health effects may show up either years after exposure or only after long or repeated periods of exposure. These effects include some respiratory diseases, heart disease, cancer, reproductive and developmental problems, and they can be severely debilitating or fatal.

Indoor air is typically 2 to 5 times more polluted than outdoor air

Most of our exposure to environmental pollutants occurs by breathing the air indoors. These pollutants come from activities, products and materials we use every day. The air in our homes, schools and offices can be 2 to 5 times more polluted, and in some cases 100 times more polluted, than outdoor air.

People Spend 90 Percent of Their Time Indoors

Indoor air quality is a significant concern, because when the hours spent sleeping, working in offices or at school are added up, people on average spend the vast majority of their time indoors where they are repeatedly exposed to indoor air pollutants. In fact, the EPA estimates that the average person receives 72 percent of their chemical exposure at home, which means the very places most people consider safest paradoxically exposes them to the greatest amounts of potentially hazardous pollutants.

Source: Greenguard Environmental Institute

Some ways to improve indoor air quality:

1.  Houseplants are some of the most effective air cleaners.

  • Aloe Vera soothes burns and removes formaldehyde from the air.
  • Corn plants remove benzene and cigarette smoke from the air.
  • Spider plants absorb carbon monoxide.
  • Peace lilies remove acetone, trichloroethylene, benzene and formaldehyde.
  • Dwarf date palms negate harmful effects from xylene (found in paints).

Source: Natural Health Magazine, July/August 2010

2.  Minimize chemical pollutants.

  • Avoid smoking indoors. Tobacco smoke contains thousands of indoor pollutants at high concentrations.
  • Minimize the use of harsh cleaners or cleaners with strong fragrances. Anything that is artificially scented pollutes your environment. The word “fragrance” on a label can mask up to 100 different chemicals, and synthetic scents have been found to trigger migraine headaches and asthma attacks.
  • Don’t idle cars, lawnmowers and so on in the garage (especially attached garages).

For more tips on improving indoor air, visit Greenguard Environmental Institute.

Check out this really amazing air purifier – the ANDREA air filter. ANDREA employs both active plant filtration, along with water and soil to provide a multistage system that cleanses air from harmful toxins that can irritate and be harmful to your lungs. It naturally purifies air by drawing it with a whisper-quiet fan to propel it through the leaves and root system of a plant, then out through water and soil filtration and back into the room environment.

My Green Side’s web pick of the week:

Greenguard Environmental Institute
The GREENGUARD Environmental Institute (GEI) was founded in 2001 with the mission of improving human health and quality of life by enhancing indoor air quality and reducing people’s exposure to chemicals and other pollutants. In keeping with that mission, GEI certifies products and materials for low chemical emissions and provides a free resource for choosing healthier products and materials for indoor environments.

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by Wendy Gabriel

GREEN TIP: Reuse and recycle unwanted CDs and DVDs.

Every day, we use a multitude of different products: alarm clocks, clothes, backpacks, shoes, books, CD/DVD players, cell phones and the list goes on. Looking at a product’s life cycle helps us understand the connections between our purchases and the impact they make on our environment.

The life cycle of a CD or a DVD

Raw Materials:

CDs and DVDs are made from many different materials, each of which has its own separate life cycle involving energy use and waste. They include:

  • Aluminum—the most abundant metal element in the Earth’s crust. Bauxite ore is the main source of aluminum and is extracted from the Earth.
  • Polycarbonate—a type of plastic, which is made from crude oil and natural gas extracted from the Earth.
  • Lacquer—made of acrylic, another type of plastic.
  • Gold—a metal that is mined from the Earth.
  • Dyes—chemicals made in a laboratory, partially from petroleum products that come from the Earth.
  • Other materials such as water, glass, silver, and nickel.

Materials Processing:

Most mined materials must be processed before manufacturers can use them to make CDs or DVDs. For example, to make plastics, crude oil from the ground is combined with natural gas and chemicals in a manufacturing or processing plant.

Manufacturing:

The manufacturing process described is similar for both CDs and DVDs.

  • An injection molding machine creates the core of the disc—a 1-millimeter thick piece of polycarbonate (plastic). Polycarbonate is melted and put in a mold. With several tons of pressure, a stamper embeds tiny indentations, or pits, with digital information into the plastic mold. A CD-player’s laser reads these pits when playing a CD.
  • The plastic molds then go through the “metallizer” machine, which coats the CDs with a thin metal reflective layer (usually aluminum) through a process called “sputtering.” The playback laser reads the information off of the reflective aluminum surface.
  • The CD then receives a layer of lacquer as a protective coating against scratching and corrosion.
  • Most CDs are screen printed with one to five different colors for a decorative label. Screen printing involves the use of many materials, including stencils, squeegees,and inks.

Packaging:

CDs and DVDs are packaged in clear or colored plastic cases (jewel cases) or cardboard boxes—that are then covered with plastic shrink wrap. This packaging can be made from recycled or raw materials.

Source: CDRecyclingCenter.org

Here are some tips for Reducing, Reusing and Recycling

Reduce:

Instead of purchasing a new CD or DVD consider:

  • Borrowing it from a friend or the library.
  • Renting it from a local shop or a service like Netflix.
  • If you’re buying it for data storage, use an external hard drive or a service that keeps your files updated.
  • Buy used CDs/DVDs.

Reuse:

A great way to keep CDs/DVDs out of the landfills is to reuse them.

  • Minor scratches can be repaired by rubbing a mild abrasive (such as toothpaste) on the non- label side of a disc in a circular motion from the center out. Also, some commercial refinishers can inexpensively repair your CDs.
  • Donate unwanted CDs or DVDs to your local resale shop, schools or libraries.
  • Swap unwanted discs at Freecycle.org.

Recycle:

CDs/DVDs can be recycled for use in new products. Specialized electronic recycling companies clean, grind, blend and compound the discs into a high-quality plastic for a variety of uses.

Check out CDRecyclingCenter.org for information on how to send your CDs/DVDs for recycling.

My Green Side’s web pick of the week:

1800Recycling.com
1800Recycling.com is an awesome recycling and green living-focused website that makes recycling, conserving, reusing and living wisely easy.

The site features a recycling location database that gives the user the ability to easily assemble a recycling to-do list. The database is location based, and aims to make your recycling needs as easy as possible, whether you’re clearing out the house during spring cleaning or simply looking to recycle a few shopping bags.

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 Wednesday at WDAY.com.

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by Wendy Gabriel

GREEN TIP: Instead of purchasing disposable products that contribute to our cloth instead of paperwaste stream, buy reusable products.

This green tip may require an initial purchase of some quality items but in the end you’ll save money and the planet.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Cloth napkins instead of paper napkins: You probably already own some and only use them on special occasions. Or, if you don’t, visit your local thrift shop or retail store and stock up on things like cloth napkins.

Some local thrift shops:

ARC
255 University Drive, North Fargo 701-232-6641
3201 43rd Street, South Fargo 701-364-9762

Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch Thrift Stores
More information: www.dakotaboysandgirlsranch.org.

Heirlooms
Hospice of Red River Valley
1617 32nd Avenue South, Fargo 701-356-2670
More information: www.hrrv.org/heirlooms.
They specify they have crystal, china dinnerware and table linens at their store

  • Use cloth or recycled paper towels instead of chlorine-bleached paper towels:

You can find cloth towels at your local thrift store or retail store. Recycled paper products can be found locally at Tochi Products and Specialty Foods, Hornbacher’s, Cash Wise and SunMart.

  • Use a permanent coffee filter instead of buying paper filters: Some coffee makers come with a permanent filter but you can also purchase them separately.
  • Use glass or stainless steel straws instead of plastic straws: This will ensure GlassDharmayou’re not drinking plastic toxins with your lemonade and reduces the amount of plastic sitting in our landfills.

GlassDharma – The original glass straw. Handmade in the USA.

RSVP Endurance Stainless Steel Drink Straws at ChefTools.com.

  • Use an old school razor instead of a disposable: Or if you’re nervous about replacing your own razor blade use a Preserve razors.

Preserve Products are made from 100% recycled plastics and 100% post-consumer paper. By using recycled materials, they save energy, preserve natural resources and create an incentive for communities to recycle.

All of their plastic products are recyclable, either through our postage-paid labels and mailers (toothbrushes and razor handles) or at the curb in communities that recycle #5 plastic.

They make their products in the USA, so they can ship them shorter distances, using less fuel and limiting their environmental footprint.

  • Use a recycled toothbrush (Preserve) instead of a disposable toothbrush: Preserve toothbrushPreserve has a wonderful toothbrush subscription program. They will send you a new (recycled) toothbrush every three months. For more information visit: www.preserveproducts.com.
  • Use rechargeable batteries (and recharge them) instead of disposable batteries: And when disposing of the rechargeable batteries that just aren’t rejuicing like they used to remember to safely dispose of them. Consult Earth911.com for drop off locations.

Locally batteries can be dropped off at:

City of Fargo Household Hazardous Waste
Services are restricted to residents of Fargo only.
This site is open from April to October on Mondays 9am to 5pm, Wednesdays 9am to 6pm, and Fridays 9am to 5pm and is open on the second Saturday of each month 8am to noon.
606 43 1/2 Street North, Fargo
More information: www.cityoffargo.com/solidwaste/.

RadioShack
They will recycle: NiCad Batteries and Rechargeable Batteries

Batteries Plus
They will recycle: Car Batteries, NiCad Batteries and Rechargeable Batteries

Interstate All Battery Center
They will recycle: Car Batteries, NiCad Batteries, Rechargeable Batteries and Single-use Batteries

  • Use reusable sandwich wraps instead of plastic sandwich bags: A good one to try is Wrap-N-Mat, a reusable sandwich wrap and placemat in one. This is an earth friendly alternative to plastic bags. Perfect for sandwiches, cookies or any other snacks. The prints are made of a cotton/polyester blend and the lining is made with PEVA, an alternative to PVC.
    More information: HealthyKitchenware.com.

Do you have any other reusable instead of disposable tips?

My Green Side’s weekly web pick:

Earth911.com
Earth911.com is your one-stop shop for all you need to know about reducing your impact, reusing what you’ve got and recycling your trash. Get involved in our world by checking in for daily news, reading weekly feature stories, surfing product channels and opting into our weekly emails.

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

GREEN TIP: Instead of buying stuff (remember last week’s Green caleigh-snowmanTip) invest in experience consumption.

What is experience consumption? It’s spending time, and perhaps some money, on experiences instead of material possessions.
Source: Robin Shreeves

I just read an awesome article at Mother Nature Network from my friend Robin Shreeves entitled Why I’m optimistic about 2010: Experience consumption. Robin explains how the recession has helped us remember our lives are not about the stuff we buy, they are about our family, friends and experiences. Does this sound familiar? Have I not been saying this forever?

Green Living is about living simply, sustainably and thoughtfully.

In her article Robin references a New York Times article that says a recent New York Times/CBS News poll has found, nearly half of Americans said they were spending less time buying nonessentials, and more than half are spending less money in stores and online.

I don’t need validation from the New York Times or ½ of America… but it sure is nice for a change.

According to the Times’ article, The Department of Labor’s time-use surveys show a similar trend: compared with 2005, Americans spent less time in 2008 buying goods and services and more time cooking or taking part in “organizational, civic and religious activities.”

In a subsequent article, January’s ‘experience consumption’ ideas, Robin gives us some wonderful ideas to help us amass experiences and not stuff in 2010. Here are a few:

Volunteer at a food pantry or soup kitchen. After the holidays, many food pantries probably need a bit of cleaning out and organizing. Soup kitchens still need people to help serve. Volunteer by yourself or as a family for an experience that you won’t forget.

Make a big pot of soup from scratch. Try to use up as many ingredients that you already have in your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer before you shop for new ingredients. Allrecipes.com has a great search feature that allows you to search by ingredients you have on hand. Type in the ingredients you have and put “soup” for a keyword and see what you come up with. When you’re done making your soup, share it with a neighbor or someone else you think may enjoy it.

Borrow some great food-themed movies from the library.Invite friends to bring a snack to share for a movie night in. Chocolat, Diner, Mystic Pizza, Who is Killing the Great Chef’s of Europe, Ratatouille, Babette’s Feast, Bottle Shock, Fried Green Tomatoes, and Scotland, PA are just a few titles to look for. I’m sure you can think of dozens more.

Some local ideas for January 2010:

Institute a family game night.

Take advantage of the season. Get outdoors. Go for a walk, go sledding, make a snowman or snow angel.

Pizza Pop Family Concert: “Children’s Stories Set to Music” from the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony. This delightful program is 7pm on Friday, January 22nd at the NDSU Festival Concert Hall. Bernard Rubenstein is conducting. For more information contact go to fmsymphony.org

If you have any experience consumption ideas for us, please leave them in the comment section!

My Green Side’s weekly web pick:

GreenHour.org
Giving our kids (even big kids) unstructured outdoor play time makes them happier, healthier… even smarter. Learn more About Green Hour.

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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