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GREEN TIP: Your daily workout is another area that you can make more eco-friendly by hiking and biking outdoors or encouraging your local gym to make greener choices.

There are numerous ways to green your daily dose of physical fitness. Here are some tips for energizing your exercise with a green boost courtesy of

  • Take it outside whenever you can. Instead of increasing your energy consumption via home and gym exercise machines, take advantage of hiking and biking trails in your area. One big advantage to the great outdoors – it’s free and always interesting.
  • Recycle your cross-trainers. After putting in all of that extra mileage, your new shoes are bound to lose their bounce. Instead of tossing them, give your shoes new life with Nike’s Reuse-A-Shoe program. Worn out shoes are used to build new tracks, basketball and tennis courts. Nike has collected over 25 million shoes since 1990.
  • Buy used workout DVDs. It’s a great way to recycle and save money.
  • Use refillable water bottles and avoid using one-time use plastic water bottles. It’s time to commit to using refillable water bottles for workouts and everyday hydration. Using a refillable bottle means less waste in landfills and more money in your wallet. According to the Container Recycling Institute, only 23% of plastic bottles are recycled in the U.S. which means 38 billion plastic bottles go into landfills each year.
  • Inspire a green makeover at your health club or gym. If the great outdoors just aren’t for you, consider encouraging your gym to make some eco-friendly upgrades.
    • Recycling bins and energy efficient machines.
    • Signage asking patrons to limit their towel usage.
    • A few large televisions generally run less electricity than individual TVs on every machine. A sign on the screen reminding users to turn it off after use could save a kilowatt-hour per unit, per day.
    • Turn the thermostat up a little in the summer, and down a little in the winter. Climate control accounts for far more energy than all the treadmills combined.
    • If you’re looking for a new gym, ask what they’re doing for the environment.
  • Join a neighborhood gym that’s within walking distance to where you work and/or live. Support your local economy and save gas at the same time.
  • Looking for some new workout clothing or gear? Organic cotton and bamboo threads are a great place to start for sweat-friendly green fabrics. For eco-conscious equipment choices, check the web or a local sporting goods shop for great deals on secondhand bikes and weights. For new clothing or gear, be sure to check out Gaiam and Natural Fitness Inc. Both companies are practicing some pretty innovative manufacturing techniques and are utilizing recycled rubber and materials to produce their workout goods.
  • Get creative with your workout routine. It’s not always easy to find time to head to the gym or commit to an after-work jogging schedule. Try to throw in an extra walk or bike ride during your lunch break for a calorie-burning boost. Another great way to supplement your gym routine: Try knocking out some house or yard work by attacking the job with gusto! Shoveling snow, raking leaves, vacuuming and dusting can be great activities for burning off a greasy business lunch or the sins of the holiday season.


My Green Side’s web pick of the week:

Gaiam’s site focuses on personal development, health & wellness and global consciousness. It’s full of inspirational media and solutions for healthy living, environmental wellness and renewal of spirit. Their blog has great articles and tips on everything from 5 Ways to Save Money on Organic Foods to Quick and Easy Arm Workouts.

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GREEN TIP: Avoid toxic flame retardants whenever possible. Choose products made from less flammable natural materials or made by manufacturers who use safer alternatives.

Chemical flame retardants have become very common in consumer products. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), some of the most toxic are brominated fire retardants (BFRs), which include chemicals known as polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs).

Our nation’s chemical laws don’t adequately protect us from the harmful effects of flame retardants and these chemicals are commonly found in our homes and offices.

Scientists have found that exposure to even small amounts of toxic fire retardants such as PBDEs at critical points in development can damage reproductive systems and cause deficits in motor skills, learning, memory and hearing, as well as changes in behavior. And, according to Rodale News, research on PBDEs suggest the chemicals interfere with thyroid hormones and they can affect neurological development.

Read EWG’s report on PBDEs in mothers and their toddlers to learn more about children’s exposures.

Until all PBDEs are banned from consumer products (including imports) and fire safety regulations are revised to promote safer solutions, American families – especially our children – will continue to be needlessly exposed to harmful chemicals.

PBDEs are most commonly found in polyurethane foam products (like couches and upholstered chairs, mattresses and pads, futons, pillows, children’s car seats and carpet padding, among many others), but are also in hundreds of other everyday products, including electronics equipment (like TVs, remotes, and cell phones), lighting, wiring, building materials, textiles, furniture and industrial paints.

One way you can reduce you family’s exposure  is to avoid toxic flame retardants whenever possible. Choose products made from materials that are naturally fire resistant or made by manufacturers who use safer alternatives. Click here to download the EWG’s PDF guide to PBDEs.

Some parents are concerned that their children will be exposed to chemicals while wearing fire-retardant pajamas. Pajamas are not treated with PBDEs, though synthetic fabrics are often made with a chemical additive to make them fire resistant. Chemicals used in sleepwear labeled “fire resistant” will remain in the fabric for at least 50 washes. To avoid any chemicals in sleepwear and reduce the risk of igniting sleepwear, EWG suggests you choose natural fibers that are inherently fire resistant and snug-fitting. And, of course, keep kids away from matches, candles and cigarettes. Source: Environmental Working Group

 Benefits of Wool:

  • Wool is a breathable natural material.
  • Wool can be produced sustainably.
  • Wool is hypoallergenic.
  • Wool will not harbor dust mites. Dust mites don’t like wool!
  • Wool resists bacteria.
  • Wool is fire resistant.
  • Wool is cool in the summer yet warm in the winter.
  • Unlike down bedding which uses plucked down feathers, a sheep grows a coat of wool annually and is not harmed during the shearing process. More information about down bedding production.
  • Wool surpasses synthetic fill in terms of quality, durability, breathability, sustainability, and the embodied energy and chemicals needed to produce synthetic fill.
  • Unlike down bedding which shifts over time (ie. bare spots in a comforter), wool stays in place.
  • With proper care your woolen bedding can last for decades.
  • Wool can be composted and recycled at the end of it’s lifecycle.


This week instead of giving you a web pick of the week, My Green Side will be giving one lucky listener an awesome wool pillow from Holy Lamb Organics. See the details at Holy Lamb Organics Giveaway.

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I have fallen in love with a company. This goes beyond a fleeting crush. I’m impressed with everything they do, everything they sell and the thoughtful way they approach reducing their waste… which, by the way, they’ve reduced their waste to nothing. Zero Waste. I even love their name, Holy Lamb Organics. It’s congers up the image of springtime and baby lambs.

I wrote about them at and the owner of the company, Willow Whitton, took the time to write a comment which, of course, made my day.

Let me count the ways:

  • Holy Lamb Organics only uses only organic cotton fabrics and Premium Eco-Wool from local sources. Conventionally grown cotton is dosed with pesticides and probably started as a genetically modified seed.
  • As I mentioned, they are a zero waste company and either reuse or recycle all of their production by-products. Check out their ReKindle Program,

Holy Lamb Organics has donated a wool pillow to a one lucky listener to my segment on The Christopher Gabriel Program.

They hand make these wool pillows using their Premium Eco-Wool batting and cover it with organic cotton Sateen fabric. Pillows made with wool batting are smooth, soft and are available in 3 different thicknesses to suite your comfort: Light Fill, Regular Fill & Extra Thick. These varying thicknesses come in standard size only. They also make a queen or king size pillow in Regular Fill. Please know that your wool pillow will be very fluffy upon arrival, but will settle over time with the weight and heat of your head. This will not change the support and comfort this pillow provides. Expect about 30% compression. For children, they recommend the Light Fill. The regular fill is their most popular thickness.

  • Premium Eco-Wool batting
  • Organic cotton fabric cover
  • Machine washable gentle with special instructions
  • Hand made in Oakville, WA by Holy Lamb Organics

Here’s how one lucky listener will become the owner of an incredible Holy Lamb Organics wool pillow:

  • Listen to Simple Tips for Green Living on The Christopher Gabriel ProgramTuesday, May 15th 2012 at around 1220pm (central). Listen live in North Dakota and western Minnesota on AM 970 WDAY. OR stream the program on your computer anywhere in the world at
  • Call the studio line at 701-293-9000 or 1-888-970-WDAY (9329) when a caller number is announced.

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By Wendy Gabriel

GREEN TIP:  Bring Your Own Bag! 

Most anywhere you shop, stores are selling canvas bags designed to hold your groceries.  My husband brought home a couple from Byerly’s the other day (I was momentarily speechless!).  They’re great.  They fold into little flat squares so you can keep them under your car seat or other handy spots.  My Mom also found some for sale at Kowalski’s Market.  Kowalski’s also offers a nickel-per-bag refund if you reuse your paper or plastic shopping bags.  Lakewinds Natural Food Co-op has a similar incentive.   

Obviously, bringing your own bags is ideal but if you don’t, requesting a plastic bag results in less waste than paper bags.  This is basically because it takes less energy to produce and ship plastic bags.  According to the Institute of Lifecycle Environmental Assessment (ILEA), which is an environmental advocacy organization headquartered in Seattle, “two plastic bags use 13% less total energy to make than one paper bag.”  And “since plastic bags are normally much thinner and lighter than comparable paper bags, it would take at least seven 45-foot trucks of paper bags to deliver the quantity of bags contained in one 45-foot truckload of plastic bags.  Consequently, the use of plastic bags reduces road traffic, the resulting air pollution, and truck fuel consumption.” 

If you’re reusing plastic bags (good for you!) and wear and tear has rendered them ineffective, recycle them.  Plastic bags can’t be recycled through most cities’ recycling programs but if you’re in Minnesota, Twin Cities-based “It’s in the Bag” plastic bag recycling program has plenty of convenient drop sitesPlastic bags collected by “It’s in the Bag” are sorted by adults with developmental disabilities at Merrick Inc., a non-profit organization and then sent to Trex Company, a  Winchester, VA-based manufacturer.  Trex processes the bags to create construction materials used in decks and backyard patios.   According to The Trex Company, each Trex decking board (16-feet long, 2 x 6 inches) uses approximately 2,250 plastic bags. If you happen to be living outside of Minnesota . . .  

California, for example, requires all grocery stores to take back and recycle plastic grocery bags

In Wisconsin, at least in St. Croix County, Wal-Mart stores generally accept plastic bags for recycling.

In a perfect world we would all have a stash of hemp or organic cotton bags and we would bring them every time we went to the grocery store.

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