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by Wendy Gabriel

Editor’s Note: Each Wednesday My Green Side brings Simple Tips for Green Ideal_Bite-YOU-Wine-300X250Living 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

GREEN TIP: With winter fast approaching, take time to ensure that your indoor air is healthy.

Everything that’s in our home makes up our indoor air quality. The materials we’ve used to build our house, the paint on our walls, our furniture; all the pieces that make our house a home can potentially be harmful to our health.

Pollution from power plants, cars, and other transportation is a well-known contributor to outdoor air pollution, but our indoor air quality is often worse; it can be up to 10 times worse for you than the air outside. Microbial pollutants like mold, pet dander and plant pollen can combine with chemicals like radon and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) to create a pretty toxic environment in your home; since we spend an average of 90% of our time indoors and 65% of our time inside our homes, according to the National Safety Council, that can add up to allergies, asthma and worse.


Some ways to keep your indoor air healthy:

  • Maintain proper ventilation.
  • Keep known pollutants out of your home. Make sure the products you are buying do not contain contaminants.
  • Clean your home with green cleaning products.
  • Garden and take care of your lawn without using pesticides or synthetic fertilizers. These toxic chemicals can be tracked into your home on shoes, clothes or paws.
  • Use common houseplants, such as bamboo palms and spider plants, to improve your indoor air quality.

My Green Side’s weekly website pick:

The Grass Stain Guru
The founder of The Grass Stain Guru, Bethe Almeras, believes that nature is the best therapist and teacher any of us will ever have, and that the magic of childhood should be rooted there, and the peace of adulthood is waiting there. It’s not only in nature, but the connections we make with ourselves, and each other, when we slow down long enough to notice the beauty around us and simply play.

The Grass Stain Guru is a blog about restoring childhood, and saving ourselves in the process.

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by Wendy Gabriel

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

GREEN TIP: Have a fun, safe, healthy and green Halloween.

I don’t need to tell anyone how unhealthy and expensive Halloween can be. Let’s endevour to make it fun, safe, HEALTHY (or, at least, healthier) and GREEN this year.

The Costumes:

Don’t spend money on poorly made plastic, unnatural fiber costumes that are thrown away before the last candy corn is devoured. Instead create your own with items you already own. Or, take a trip to your local resale shop and let your imagination run wild. Once Upon A Child, for example, has gently-used costumes for sale.

More resources:
Last Halloween I blogged about making your own costumes, Make Your Halloween Green.
Jenn Savedge with Mother Nature Network has some great ideas for easy eco-costumes, Green Halloween costumes.
Greenfeet has some great ideas for a Green Halloween including some great homemade costume ideas.

The Treats:

Instead of unhealthy candy treats, hand out organic candies, pencils, stickers, crayons, fake tatoos or small toys.

More resources:
Beth Swanson at Kiwi Magazine unmasks The Scary Side of Halloween.
Halloween’s Hidden Impacts by Julie Starkel, MS, MBA, RD

The Trick or Treating Bags:

Your Trick or Treat bag could be anything. Use your imagination. You could use a bucket, purse, basket or cloth bag that you decorate to enhance your costume. For example, this year my littlest is going to be an adorable piggy (note: costume was a gift from Grandma for our oldest daughter many years ago). The treat “bag” she’ll be using is a little decorative silver bucket that we use for storage, it looks like a farmer’s feed bucket. Perfect.

The Decorations:

Use natural decorations like pumpkins, squash, gourds and hay bales. And when, for example, your pumpkin has done it’s duty as a jack-o-lantern, toss it in the compost bin. Or buy decorations that can be used year after year. You’ll save money and the environment.

My Green Side’s weekly website pick:

Green Halloween
Green Halloween is a program of Treeswing, a Seattle non-profit working to reverse the trend of childhood obesity. Through innovative programs and partnerships, Treeswing improves the health of children and is working toward building generations of healthy, active communities. Learn more at

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

GREEN TIP: Avoid genetically engineer food.

A genetically modified organism (GMO) is the result of a laboratory process of taking genes from one species and inserting them into another in an attempt to obtain a desired trait or characteristic and they are also known as transgenic organisms. This process may be called either Genetic Engineering (GE) or Genetic Modification (GM), it’s all the same thing. 

Source: Institute for Responsible Technology

The buildup surrounding GM agriculture was that these new crops would be of increased nutritional value and would increase productivity. They would be able to grow in the desert and feed the worlds hungry. This, however, is not the reality. The only advantage goes to the companies selling the seeds.

According to the Institute of Responsible Technology, “the two main traits that have been added to date are herbicide tolerance and the ability of the plant to produce its own pesticide. These results have no health benefit, only economic benefit.”

Jeffrey M. Smith, author of Seeds of Deception and Genetic Roulette: The Documented Health Risks of Genetically Engineered Foods and blogger at Huffington Post, writes “Unless we want to wait until more studies are done, risking allergies and immune dysfunction, infertility, infant mortality, or poorer health inherited by the next generation, we will have to opt out of the GM food experiment. Without required labels, it isn’t simple.” And currently the US doesn’t require GM foods to have labeling describing them as being genetically modified.

Children are especially susceptible to the effects of GM foods.

Top Ten Genetically Engineered Food Crops from Healthy Child Healthy World

• Corn: Our number-one agricultural commodity. In 2000, 79.5 million acres of harvested cropland in the U.S. were corn, 25% of which was genetically engineered. This includes Bt and Roundup Ready corn varieties.

• Soy: The number-two U.S. agricultural commodity. Sixty percent of processed foods contain soy ingredients, and 82% of edible fats and oils consumed in the U.S. are soy-based. In 2000, 54% of the 74.5 million acres of soybeans grown in the U.S. was Roundup Ready soy.

• Potato: Currently, the only GE potato is a Burbank Russet variety, marketed under the name NewLeaf. This Bt-producing plant is lethal to the Colorado potato beetle – and possibly to beneficial insects.

• Tomato: The first GE tomato, the Flavr Savr, was introduced commercially in 1994, but flopped because it proved tasteless. Since then, other varieties, including a cherry tomato, have been genetically engineered to delay ripening and extend shelf life.

• Canola: Of the 15 million acres of canola grown in the U.S. and Canada annually, 35% is GE, mostly for herbicide-resistance.

• Cottonseed Oil: In 2000, 61% of the 15.5 million acres of cotton grown in the U.S. was genetically engineered. Every year, half a million tons of cottonseed oil makes its way into salad dressings, baked goods and snack foods. About 1.4 million tons of cottonseed meal is fed to livestock annually.

• Papaya: More than one third of Hawaiian papayas have been genetically engineered to withstand the papaya ringspot virus. Organic papaya growers in Hawaii worry that the pollen from GE papaya trees will contaminate their crops.

• Radicchio: Currently one variety of radicchio, called Seed Link, has been genetically engineered to be resistant to the herbicide glufosinate.

• Squash: Several varieties of summer squash have been genetically engineered to resist mosaic viruses. Some scientists are concerned that resistance to the virus may spread to weedy relatives, such as gourds, found in the U.S., creating invasive superweeds.

• Salmon: A company called Aqua Bounty has engineered a salmon with genes from two different fish species so that it grows much more quickly than non-GE salmon. The company now seeks FDA approval to market this fish for human consumption. Escaped into the environment, (which is inevitable on fish farms), the GE fish may be larger and more aggressive, eat more food, and mate more often, though their offspring are less fit to survive in the wild, raising the possibility of wild species extinction. Human health effects are also relatively unknown. Currently, research on transgenic strains of 35 fish species world-wide is underway.

Source: Healthy Child Healthy World

Download the Institute for Responsible Technology’s Non-GMO Shopping Guide to make sure you avoid foods made with genetically modified organisms.

My Green Side’s web pick of the week:

Healthy Child Healthy World
Their mission is to ignite a movement that inspires parents to protect young children from harmful chemicals. This site is full of information and inspiration for keeping your family and our planet healther.

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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

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, 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.


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

Editor’s Note: Each Wednesday My Green Side brings Simple Tips for GreenWDAY Green Tips 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

GREEN TIP: Drink tap water. This simple tip will conserve resources, help the environment and save you money.

As stated at The Good Human website, it is a common misconception for many people that bottled water is safer than tap, plastic bottles get recycled, and no harm is being done to the environment in the bottling process.

The Good Human has put together a list of 12 Reasons to Stop Drinking Bottled Water:

  • American tap water is among the safest in the world.
  • As much as 40% of the bottled water sold in the U.S. is just filtered tap water anyway. Be sure to check the label and look for “from a municipal source” or “community water system”, which just means it is tap water.
  • By drinking tap water, you can avoid the fertilizer, pharmaceuticals, disinfectants, and other chemicals that studies have found in bottled water.
  • Tap water costs about $0.002 per gallon compared to the $0.89 to $8.26 per gallon charge for bottled water. If the water we use at home cost what even cheap bottled water costs, our monthly water bills would run $9,000.
  • 88% of empty plastic water bottles in the United States are not recycled. The Container Recycling Institute says that plastic water bottles are disposed of (not recycled) at the rate of 30 million a day.
  • Plastic bottles can leach chemicals into the water if left in the sun, heated up, or reused several times.
  • Production of the plastic (PET or polyethylene) bottles to meet our demand for bottled water takes the equivalent of about 17.6 million barrels of oil (not including transportation costs). That equals the amount of oil required to fuel more than one million vehicles in the U.S. each year. Around the world, bottling water uses about 2.7 million tons of plastic…each year.
  • Bottled water companies mislead communities into giving away their public water in exchange for dangerous jobs.
  • It can take nearly 7 times the amount of water in the bottle to actually make the bottle itself.
  • On a weekly basis, 37,800 18-wheelers are driving around the country delivering water.
  • The EPA sets much more stringent quality standards for tap water than the FDA does for the bottled stuff.
  • One out of 6 people in the world does not have safe drinking water, and about 3,000 children a day die from diseases caught from bad water…that we know of. This while Americans spend about $16 billion a year on bottled water.

Source: The Good Human

My Green Side’s weekly website pick:

Simple. Organized. Life.
Simplifing your life, one step at a time.

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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

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