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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: Reduce the amount of clutter in your home by reducing your paper waste as much as possible. Saving your sanity, and the environment, one tree at a time.

A good way to start reducing clutter in your home is by stopping junk mail and unwanted catalogues. There are companies like 41pounds.org that can do that for you or you can call the contact number directly on the mail or magazines and ask them to remove you from their lists. 

When you stop junk mail you also:

Keep trees in the forest. More than 100 million trees are destroyed each year to produce junk mail. 42% of timber harvested nationwide becomes pulpwood for paper.

Reduce global warming. The world’s temperate forests absorb 2 billion tons of carbon annually. Creating and shipping junk mail produces more greenhouse gas emissions than 9 million cars.

Save water. About 28 billion gallons of water are wasted to produce and recycle junk mail each year.

Save time. You waste about 70 hours a year dealing with junk mail.

Source: 41pounds.org

Here are some more decluttering tips from Big Green Purse:

  • Pay bills and bank online. Many banks now actually charge their customers a monthly fee to send them a paper statement. So, not only does online banking reduce the clutter in your house, it can save you money too. You’re also saving money on postage – not a lot in a month, but dollars that will add up over time.
  • Read newspapers and magazines electronically. Why? To avoid all the ads. The news part of the paper is actually rather thin; the advertising supplements are huge. When you want to know what a store has on sale, check out their website before you go shopping, or pick up their sales paper when you enter the store. You can usually find coupons online too and there are all kinds of mobile phone coupon apps so you can skip the print-out completely.
  • Share or go to the library. Sharing works especially well for for magazines. Share magazines with your friends and drop in to your local library for others.
  • Carry reusable bags. In addition to grocery bags, you can use small mesh bags for produce or grains you buy in bulk. Bring them along when you’re clothes shopping, too.

For more great tips, visit BigGreenPurse.com.

Another great way to reduce clutter and help the planet is to stop getting the “yellow pages.”

It takes 19 million trees, 1.6 billion pounds of paper, 3.2 billion kilowatt hours of electricity, and 7.2 million barrels of oil to produce the 500 million directories that are delivered across the nation each year. (Source: YellowPagesGoesGreen.org, an organization working to stop the delivery of unwanted Yellow and White Pages Books.)

Use online resources instead like switchboard.com or yellowpages.com. These sites provide all of the address and phone number information that we used to gather by flipping through the yellow pages, plus they can provide maps, directions and more.

If you are using one of these (or similar) online directories and no longer wish to receive yellow pages, contact the company that publishes your yellow pages and ask them to stop delivery to your household and/or business.

  • Verizon (Superpages/Idearc): 800.888.8448
  • Dex (Yellow Pages): 877.243.8339 
  • Yellow Book: 800.373.3280 
  • AT&T/YellowPages (formerly SBC/Bell South): 800.792.2665 for AR, KS, OK, MO and TX only/All other states call 800.848.8000 

Or, you can sign up with YellowPagesGoesGreen.org and they will contact your local phone company for you. Their service is free.

My Green Side’s web pick of the week:

Big Green Purse
Big Green Purse is packed with great green living tips, green how-to guides and a wonderful blog. They believe the fastest, easiest, most direct route to a clean and healthy environment is to shift our spending to environmentally-safe, socially responsible products and services.

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by Wendy Gabriel

GREEN TIP: If you’re new to green living, there are a few simple tips you can incorporate right away to begin living sustainably.

10 Simple Tips for Green Living

1.  Reduce, reduce, reduce. Here are a few simple ways to reduce your impact and conserve our resources:

  • Turn off the tap water when brushing your teeth.
  • Take shorter showers.
  • Use cold water to wash clothes whenever possible.
  • Run your clothes washer and dishwasher only when they are full.
  • Drink filtered tap water instead of bottled water.
  • Regularly replace the filter on your Heating, Ventilating and Air-Conditioning (HVAC) system. Check furnace or heat pump filters once a month for blockages and replace them regularly. A dirty air filter can increase your energy costs and lead to early equipment failure.
  • Install a programmable thermostat in your home (and then actually program it).
  • Walk or bike instead of driving.
  • Turn off the lights when leaving a room.
  • Reuse envelopes and backsides of paper, print double-sided and purchase high recycled content paper.

2.  Buy local, organic produce. Food travels an average of 1,200 miles before it reaches your plate, so buy locally produced items to save energy and prevent emissions from going into the air.

3.  Recycle. By recycling materials such as aluminum cans, newspapers, and glass jars, you can save energy and landfill space, conserve natural resources, and also prevent pollution. Earth911.com is a wonderful resource for learning about recycling.

4.  Unplug electronics when they’re not in use. Many appliances continue to draw electricity when they’re turned off, releasing unnecessary pollutants into the air, and costing you unnecessary dollars.

5.  Use non-toxic laundry detergents to avoid harmful exposure to chemical detergents and water pollution.

6.  Properly dispose of hazardous waste. Electronics, compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs), certain batteries and other household hazardous wastes contain toxic materials so they should not be sent to landfills where they can pollute the surrounding land and water. A single computer monitor may contain 4 pounds of lead as well as other toxic heavy metals. For the City of Fargo, check out their site for information regarding hazardous waste.

7.  Buy recycled. Look for the words “post consumer” or “recycled” when shopping. There are over 4,500 recycled-content products available including paper towels, printer paper, note pads, packing boxes, sleeping bags, laundry detergent bottles, glass containers, nails, carpeting, trash cans, and trash bags. The amount of post consumer content can vary from a small percentage to 100 percent, so look for labels that indicate the highest percentage. (Source: US EPA)

8.  Compost. Compost your food scraps and yard clippings. This will keep them out of the landfill and provide you with mulch, soil amendment and potting soil.

9.  Buy reusable products. For example, washable utensils, tableware, cloth napkins, and dishcloths can be used many times.

10. Buy used products. Check out your local resale or consignment shops. Locally check out the Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch Thrift Store, Once Upon A Child and so on.

My Green Side’s web pick of the week:

 Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)
The NRDC’s mission is to safeguard the Earth: its people, its plants and animals and the natural systems on which all life depends.

For more tips on how to reduce energy consumption visit NRDC.org.

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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GREEN TIP: There are things you can do RIGHT NOW to begin to live sustainably. For example, when you’re brushing your teeth today, turn off the tap.

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 to start living more sustainably:

In your kitchen:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

In your bathroom:

  • Save water by turning off the tap while you brush your teeth.
  • Keep your shower time to five minutes or less.
  • Repair leaky faucets or toilets. A single dripping hot water faucet can waste up to 200 gallons of water a month.

In your home office:

  • Turn off your computer and printer when you’re not using them, or you can use the power or energy save option.
  • Unplug chargers for cell phones and other rechargeable devices when not in use; they still use energy when they’re plugged in.
  • Reuse envelopes and backsides of paper, print double-sided and purchase high recycled content paper.

In your laundry room:

  • Wash only full loads of laundry.
  • Front loading washing machines can save as much as 40 cents per load.
  • Use cold or warm setting for your washer, not hot. This can save 10 to 20 cents per load.
  • Use non-toxic laundry detergents to avoid harmful exposure to chemical detergents and water pollution.
  • Dry clothes the natural way whenever possible. Hang clothes outside on warm days and hang up lines inside for the winter.
  • Irons use as much energy as ten 100-watt light bulbs.
  • Clean out your lint filter every time you use your dryer so it doesn’t have to work as hard.

Around your home:

  • Recycle.
  • Pick up litter around your home and neighborhood. Whenever you see it… pick it up!
  • Check furnace or heat pump filters once a month for blockages and replace them regularly. A dirty air filter can increase your energy costs and lead to early equipment failure.
  • A programmable thermostat can save you $100 a year when programmed and used properly.
  • You can save 3% per day on your heating bill for every one degree that you lower your thermostat setting. For example, if you normally keep your thermostat at 75 degrees and you lower it to 72 degrees, you can save 9%.
  • If you leave a room, turn off the lights.

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

My Green Side’s weekly web pick:

No Impact Project
The No Impact Project is an international, environmental, nonprofit project, founded in the spring of 2009. It was inspired by the No Impact Man book, film, and blog.

Mission
To empower citizens to make choices which better their lives and lower their environmental impact through lifestyle change, community action, and participation in environmental politics.

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:  Let’s embrace a new holiday tradition.  Reduce your consumption.  Reuse ribbons and wrappings and bows.  Recycle anything you can.
 
Whether you celebrate the birth of Christ, commemorate the rededication of the Temple, light a kinara to honor African heritage or none of the above, this is a wonderous time of year.  There is nothing quite like the magic of the first snowfall, the glitter of the decorations, the family gatherings and the unique traditions of the season.
 
In our home we celebrate Christmas and sometimes it’s easy to forget, perhaps more in this season than any other, the importance of reducing consumption.
 
According to Bob Lilienfeld with The Use Less Stuff Report, Americans generate an average of 25 percent more waste in the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s than at any other time of year.  And the 2.65 billion Christmas cards sold each year in the U.S. could fill a football field 10 stories high.  If we each sent one card less, we’d save 50,000 cubic yards of paper.  And if every family reused just two feet of holiday ribbon,
the 38,000 miles of ribbon saved could tie a bow around the entire planet.

This year, create a new holiday tradition by resolving to reduce, reuse and recycle.

 

Here are some tips I hope will help:

Reduce your energy consumption by replacing your incandescent Christmas light strings with LED (light emitting diodes) light strings.  According to the
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) LEDs are exceptionally energy efficient when producing individual colors, many using up to 90% less energy than an incandescent bulb to produce the same amount of light.  For example, the amount of electricity consumed by just one 7-watt incandescent bulb could power 140 LEDs — enough to light two 24-foot (7.3-meter) strings.

Reduce the paper and plastic bags used during this time of year by bringing your own bags as you shop for gifts or groceries.

Reuse your wrapping paper.  The Games & Toys editor at eHow.com has some wonderful ideas for reusing your wrapping paper:

  1. Use small scraps of wrapping paper to line greeting card envelopes. Simply trace the outside flap shape onto the wrapping paper and cut out, leaving the wrapping paper lining just short enough to clear the glue seal on the envelope flap.
  2. Use large pieces of wrapping paper to cover a shoe box and create a storage container.
  3. Use in paper mache projects.
  4. Cover small gift boxes and place a little note inside to make someone’s day.
  5. Shred leftover wrapping paper for package filler for another gift.
  6. Create book covers.
  7. Press used wrapping paper flat with an iron on low heat and use for background on scrap booking pages.
  8. Use as a mat for framed objects.
  9. Cut paper doll clothes from wrapping paper scraps.

Another way to reduce your wrapping paper waste is to make cloth gift bags and reuse them each year instead of buying paper wrapping.  My Nana started doing this when I was a child, sending all of our gifts in gift bags.  We saved them each year and then used them for gifts the following Christmas.  She also wrapped all of the gifts she gave us for our baby showers in cotton baby blankets.  It was a beautiful way to wrap as well as doubling the gift.

Recycle everything you couldn’t reduce and can’t reuse.  According to DoSomething.org, about 80% of what Americans throw away is recyclable yet our recycling rate is only 28%. 

Time-honored family traditions and a little slice of green living really can walk hand-in-hand during the holidays!

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By Wendy Gabriel

GREEN TIP:  Reduce, reuse and recycle!

Obviously, all of the R’s are very important but at the end of the day probably the most important of the three is Reduce.  If we Reduce our consumption to begin with, there won’t be the need to Reuse or Recycle the silly things we’re persuaded to purchase.  If we think about each and every purchase in the context of its life cycle maybe we’ll be smarter consumers.  And if we are smarter consumers who demand minimal packaging, earth-friendly products and no harmful chemical, maybe the producers of these products will get the hint and stop producing the silly products in the first place.

I am forever irritated by companies who sell the most unhealthy drinks, food or cleaning products and then tout how environmentally-conscious they are.  Case in point, Coca-Cola. 

According to Coke’s website, a group of student filmmakers produced a documentary that profiled the “environmental achievements of seven torchbearers selected by Coca-Cola.”  The film premiered August 13.  “The worldwide presentation by Coca-Cola of this year’s record-breaking Beijing 2008 Olympic Torch Relay focused primarily on environmental sustainability and the roles people can play in improving the quality of life in their communities. To help underscore the message of environmental stewardship – and recognize those who are dedicated to pursuing positive change – Coca-Cola selected local environmental champions to join the ranks of all the torchbearers the Company chose around the world to carry the Olympic Flame.” 

Well, clap-clap for Coke.  Does anyone else think this is a little like paving over a rainforest and then donating money to help the prairie dogs? 

But Coke was just getting started. 

“Other environmental initiatives by Coca-Cola for the Olympic Games include the presentation to all 2008 Olympians of exclusive Coca-Cola T-shirts made from a blend of cotton and recycled PET plastic bottles, to demonstrate the high value of PET bottles and how they can be turned into desirable products. (All 2008 Paralympians are being provided unique Coca-Cola visors also produced using recycled PET.) In addition, all PET bottles collected from the Olympic venues will be recycled.”

Well, maybe that sounds like good initiatives.  Or does it? 

Mike Adams wrote an incredible article entitled The health effects of drinking soda – quotes from the expertsIt quotes Samuel S. Epstein, M.D. from his book The Safe Shopper’s Bible : A Consumer’s Guide to Nontoxic Household Products.  “PET bottling and packaging: Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) is used extensively in soft drink containers. PET bottles can release small amounts of dimethyl terephthalate into foods and beverages. Although the National Cancer Institute claims that dimethyl terephthalate is non-carcinogenic, these results have been questioned. Some experts believe this compound to be carcinogenic.”

So, apparently Coke is selling unhealthy drinks in unhealthy bottles.  Then they make a presentation about environmental sustainability, improving the quality of life for people in their communities and giving away t-shirts and visors made from bottles whose materials may contain possible carcinogens.  In my mind, that doesn’t make sense.

It all begs the question: Do you really need to purchase that soft drink or could you fill up your own Corn Based Biodegradable Bottle with Carbon Filter with tap water and save money, your health and our planet?  And reduce.

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By Wendy Gabriel

Good-bye 2007, you’ve been a great year.  A new baby made her on-time arrival at Gabriel Manor, another had a tail wind and came a bit early for my sister, we’ve all had life teach us new lessons and more than anything, we’ve had enough joy and laughter to fill up several years.

We’ve also had some low-lights . . . but that’s a blog for another time. 

Hello, 2008.  This year promises to be amazing, one that will be full of firsts.  Baby Greek Goddess’s first birthday.  Little Greek Goddess’s first skating lessons followed in short order by her first hockey class (she’s already tackled her first ballet and soccer classes).  My oldest niece will be the first of our 10 nieces and nephews to graduate high school.  Oh how time flies: I blinked and she went from wearing diapers to wearing Prada.

And so with the clock ticking down to 2008, it’s time for The Big Finish.  The grand finale to My Green Side, 2007.  For quite some time, I’ve been looking for a jumping-off point to leap into the new year; a light to follow, if you will, that will be something of a guidepost for the year to come.  As if on cue, I stumbled across a quote by Mother Teresa which really struck a cord . . . call it the sign in the road I was seeking:

“People are often unreasonable and self-centered.  Forgive them anyway.  If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives.  Be kind anyway.  If you are honest, people may cheat you.  Be honest anyway.  If you find happiness, people may be jealous.  Be happy anyway.  The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow.  Do good anyway.  Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough.  Give your best anyway.  For you see, in the end, it is between you and God.  It never was between you and them anyway.”

You might be wondering what the previous paragraph has to do with living green.  To me, living green is more than just Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.  It’s about living life in a way that benefits not only yourself and your family, but those around you.  It is about seeing the world, living in the world and improving the world in ways that leave a healthier blueprint for our children to follow, both physically and emotionally. 

Happy New Year!

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