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GREEN TIP: After being cooped up in your house all winter long, it’s (finally) time to fling open the windows, The Clothesline by Caleighshoo away the cobwebs and tackle your annual spring cleaning. When you’re organizing your spring cleaning keep in mind that switching to green cleaning products will improve your health, lessen adverse environmental impacts and save money.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), of the 2,863 most commonly used chemicals only 7% have complete toxicity data and 43% have NO toxicity information available.

A few of my favorite green cleaning recipes/tips:


  • Mix white vinegar and filtered water in a spray bottle. Reduce waste by using a soft cloth or newspaper instead of paper towels (and they leave a better finish).


  • Dissolve 4 tablespoons of baking soda in 1 quart of warm water, or;
  • Mix 1 part white vinegar to 3 parts water.


  • Mix 1 & 2/3 cups baking soda, ½ cup liquid castile soap and ½ cup water. Add 2 tablespoons white vinegar, or;
  • Use half a lemon with a sprinkle of baking soda on it. Rinse with water or white vinegar.

For more green spring cleaning recipes, visit Green Tip – Spring Cleaning.

LOCALLY:Cleanup Week



  • Electronics such as televisions and computers should not be set out for pickup. Instead, please recycle them during our Electronics Recycling Event on Saturday, May 3 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Fargo Solid Waste, 2301 8th Ave. N. For more information, call 701-241-1449.

Clay County:

  • Clay County will be hosting a special collection for residential TVs, computer monitors, and computers on Saturday, May 3, 2014 from 8 a.m. – noon The collection will be held at the Household Hazardous Waste Facility site at 2729 HWY 10 East, Moorhead. This collection is for residential e-waste only.

CLEANUP WEEK – May 5th to 9th

This time of year means Cleanup Week for the Fargo Moorhead area. This year Clean Up Week is May 5th through 9th, 2014. This annual event cleans up our cities by giving residents an opportunity to dispose of tires, appliances and other large items at no charge on their garbage collection day.

If you have items that can be reused, consider donating them to a local charity. Many will come to your house and pick up your items.

If you have reusable items such as appliances, furniture or building materials that you would like to recycle, visit the ReStore Web site at

My Green Side’s web pick of the week:

This site lists all the rules for Cleanup Week. For example, here are the Cleanup Week rules for all cities:

  • Separate items of the same type into distinct piles (tires, appliances, furniture, brush, household garbage, etc.). Separate trucks collect the items.
  • Place garbage in disposable containers, except for oversized items.
  • Items will be collected on your normal garbage pickup day. Do not set items out more than one day early.
  • Crews will not return to pick up garbage set out too late.
  • Remove refrigerator and freezer doors. Do not place food or any other waste inside appliances.
  • Items must be from residences; no commercial waste will be accepted. Keep household garbage at least four feet away from other Cleanup Week items.

There are also separate links for additional cleanup rules for Fargo, Moorhead, Dilworth, West Fargo and Clay County.

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Eco Chic Boutique opened in June of 2010 as a home for eco-friendly products for baby, mom and home. It has Eco Chicbecome the go-to place for repurposed furniture, Chalk Paint® decorative paint by Annie Sloan, locally made gifts, home decor, vintage decor and a place to go for DIY inspiration. Just walking in the door makes you want to redecorate, repurpose and paint things.

They also brought the Junk Market, the first ever “junkers” event of it’s kind, to Fargo.

The Junk Market is an event hosted by Eco Chic Boutique and it has grown so much that this May’s event will be located at the River River Valley Fairgrounds. It has multiple vendors all under one roof from around the area and its filled with reclaimed vintage furniture, home décor and JUNK!

Here are the details:Eco Chic Junk Market

Event Date:

Saturday, May 10th, 2014
8am to 10am  Early Bird Admission
10am to 5pm  General Admission
(Rain or Shine, it’ll be awesome!)


Eco Chic Junk Market early bird sold outEARLY BIRD ADMISSION: $20 SOLD OUT
Get the first shot at all the cool stuff!  You’ll get two hours of shopping (8am – 10am) before the doors open for regular admission. There will also be coffee and donuts.
Regular admission is $5.  Cash or check only please.
(Children 12 and under are free).
Sorry, no pets inside the event area. (Service animals only)


Red River Valley Fairgrounds
Hartl Ag Building
1805 West Main Avenue
West Fargo, ND 58078

The Early Bird Admission tickets are SOLD OUT but Eco Chic has generously given My Green Side a pair of tickets to give away! The tickets will be given away during the Simple Tips for Green Living radio segment on The Christopher Gabriel Program during the Earth Day (April 22nd, 2014) broadcast! THANK YOU!

You can stream the Simple Tips for Green Living segment at approximately 1220pm (CT) every Tuesday at, get the WDAY app on your iPhone or Droid or, if you’re in North Dakota or Western Minnesota, listen on your radio at AM970 WDAY.

You can also try to win a pair of ticket over at The White House Boutique. Visit the lovely to find out more!

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GREEN TIP: Green this year’s back-to-school shopping by reusing last year’s supplies, buying items that contain recycled materials and packing a waste-free lunch.

According to National Retail Federation’s (NRF) 2012 Back-to-School spending survey conducted by BIGinsight, the families with children in grades K-12 will spend an average of $688.62 for school supplies. College students and their families will spend an average of $907.22 on everything from dorm furniture and collegiate gear to school supplies and personal care items. Total combined K-12 and college spending is expected to reach around $84 billion this year.

Here are some ways to make your back-to-school shopping a little greener while helping you to be below average when it comes to your spending this year:

  • Reuse last year’s supplies. Go through the school supplies you already have at home before you hit the stores. Chances are, there are items that you can reuse. Backpacks, lunch boxes, magnets, locks and so on.
  • And while you’re going through your home stash of supplies, don’t throw away unwanted items, gather up extra pens, pencils, rubber bands, paper clips and the like for donation to a local elementary school or to nonprofit organizations that accept school supplies.
  • If there are supplies you have to buy new, make sure the items is made with recycled materials, including paper, backpacks and pencils, etc. Look for pens and pencils made with sustainably harvested wood or recycled content.
  • Avoid polyvinyl chloride (PVC or vinyl) plastic school supplies. PVC is unique among plastics because it contains dangerous chemical additives. These harmful chemicals include phthalates, lead, cadmium, and/or organotins, which can be toxic to your child’s health. Look for PVC-free lunch boxes, binders, backpacks and other school supplies. Download the Center for Health, Environment & Justice’s (CHEJ) Back-to-School Guide to PVC-free School Supplies.
  • Pack a waste-free lunch. Here are some tips from our friends at Litter Free Lunch:
    • Replace brown paper bags with a reusable lunch box or bag (remember to avoid PVC lunch boxes).
    • 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. If you buy a plastic reusable bottle, make sure it’s BPA-free. Bisphenol A (BPA) is a hormone-disrupting chemical that can impact health at even very low exposures.
    • 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.
  • Organic apples, oranges, bananas and other fruits are healthy additions to any lunch and they come in their own compostable wrapping.
  • Create a weekly meal plan in advance so you can get everything you need in one trip, this will save time, gas money and reduce your carbon footprint. Also, keep a running list of needed items on the fridge, which will help you stay organized to avoid multiple, last-minute car trips.
  • Explore options to safely bike and walk to school or find a classmate willing to carpool.
  • Check thrift stores for reusable school supplies like binders and backpack and back-to-school clothes, giving good-quality, one-of-a-kind fashions a second life.
My Green Side’s web pick of the week:
The Center for Health, Environment & Justice is an organization that provides assistance to grassroots community groups in the environmental health and justice movement. The Center was founded in 1981 by Lois Gibbs, who helped win the relocation of over 900 families from their neighborhood which was contaminated by chemicals leaking from the Love Canal landfill in Niagara Falls, NY. Through this effort, people began to recognize the link between people’s exposures to dangerous chemicals in their community and serious public health impacts.

Visit their blog for insightful conversations about environmental health and justice at and make sure to download the Center’s Back-to-School Guide to PVC-free School Supplies.

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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: Pack a zero waste lunch. You’ll save money and help the 

environment. The best way to reduce garbage is not to create it in the first place.

We’ve talked before about using reusable products, Green Tip – Think Reusable NOT Disposable, let’s take it a step further and make our packed lunches both nutritious and environmentally friendly.

A zero waste lunch means that you have no packaging to throw away when you’re done – nothing other than apple cores, banana and orange peels, peach or cherry pits. The best way to reduce garbage is to not create it.

Source: Environmental Forum of Marin

Tips for a zero waste lunch:

  • Use a REUSABLE carrier (cloth bag, lunchbox). DON’T use  throw-away bags.
  • Use REUSABLE containers (preferably ceramic or glass). DON’T use plastic wrap, foil or styrofoam.
  • Use a stainless steel bottle for drinks. DON’T use single-use cartons or cans.
  • Use a CLOTH NAPKIN to wash and re-use. DON’T use paper napkins.
  • Use SILVERWARE to wash and re-use. DON’T use plastic forks and spoons.
  • Only pack the amount of food you’ll eat.

Source: Global Stewards

Lunch Waste Facts

  • FOOD WASTE: A 2004 University of Arizona study reported that Americans throw away almost 50 percent of all the food we produce for domestic sale and consumption. In round numbers that’s $43 billion annually on wasted food.
  • FOOD WASTE: Researchers at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) concluded in a 2009 study that each year a quarter of U.S. water consumption and over 300 million barrels of oil (four percent of U.S. oil consumption) go into producing and distributing food that ultimately ends up in landfills.
  • ALUMINUM FOIL: More than 20 million Hershey’s kisses are wrapped with 133 square miles of foil every day.
  • ALUMINUM AND TIN CANS: In the time it takes you to read this sentence, more than 50,000 12-oz. aluminum cans were made.
  • FOOD WASTE: Food debris in a landfill decomposes only 25% in the first 15 years (try composting!).
  • JUICE BOXES: Most inorganic trash retains its weight, volume, and form for at least four decades.
  • PAPER BAGS AND NAPKINS: It is estimated that 17 trees are cut down for every ton of non-recycled paper.
  • PLASTIC BOTTLES, FORKS, WRAP: U.S. citizens discard 2-1/2 million plastic bottles EVERY HOUR.
  • STYROFOAM: U.S. citizens throw away 25 billion styrofoam cups EVERY YEAR.

Source: Scientific America and Global Stewards

We must shift our way of thinking, from what is the most “convenient” way to do something to how can we do something more sustainably. If we don’t, we are leaving a mess for our children and their children to clean up. Let’s leave our world better than we found it!

My Green Side’s web pick of the week:

My Zero Waste
My Zero Waste is dedicated to making the world a cleaner place. The overall purpose of the site is to help households reduce the amount of rubbish sent to the landfill. We show on a daily basis HOW we are reducing our own landfill waste by highlighting the pitfalls and sharing their mistakes and successes.

Read wonderful articles like How To Reduce Food Waste and find out about the third annual National Zero Waste Week, September 6th – 12th 2010.

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

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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. 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

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

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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:

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:

Hospice of Red River Valley
1617 32nd Avenue South, Fargo 701-356-2670
More information:
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

  • 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:
  • 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 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:

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:

Do you have any other reusable instead of disposable tips?

My Green Side’s weekly web pick: 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


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GREEN TIP: Baby Greek goddess and trikeFind alternate uses for everyday products and you will save money and the environment at the same time.

Here are some tips you can use today:

1. Line a Vegetable Drawer

Keep vegetables fresh by lining refrigerator drawer.

Use the newspaper to line vegetable drawers in your refrigerator. The newspapers will absorb moisture and reduce smells.

2. Ease Snoring

Ease snoring with a little olive oil before bed.

A little olive oil before bed will moisturize and lubricate your throat muscles and help eliminate snoring. Sip olive oil before bed.

3. Bicycle Chain Lubricant

Lubricate your bike chain with olive oil.

4. Fertilizer

Use coffee grounds to fertilize plants.

To fertilize plants, especially carrots and radishes. Before you plant, mix your carrot and radish seeds with used coffee grounds. You’ll increase your carrot and radish size and amount, and the grounds will also ward away any underground pests attracted to your veggies.

5. Acne or Aging Skin

Give yourself an aspirin facial to eliminate acne.

The salicylic acid in aspirin makes for a great facial for acne or aging skin. Crush 5-10 non-coated aspirin tablets; add small dab of water and plain yogurt and spread on your face avoiding the eye area.

6. Breath Freshener

Use lemon wedges to eliminate bad breath.

Take a lemon wedge and rub over teeth and tongue to get rid of bad breath.

7. Stain Remover

Remove stubborn stains from carpet and fabrics with hydrogen peroxide.

Hydrogen peroxide will remove stains from fruit juice, coffee, wine and even blood from fabrics and carpet. It is recommended, as with all cleaning solutions, to test it on a small area first.

8. Remove Excess Salt from Soups

Use apples or potatoes to remove the salt content from soups.

Accidentally get a little heavy handed with the salt shaker? Simply drop a few apple (or potato) wedges in your pot. After cooking for another 10 minutes or so, remove the wedges and out comes the excess salt.

9. Rust Remover

Use Coca Cola to remove rust.

Coca Cola and a mildly abrasive cloth will remove most rust stains. Use Coca Cola and a little elbow grease to clean up a rusty bumper.

10. Clean Eye Glasses

Clean eye glasses with vodka or rubbing alcohol and a cloth.

Wipe the lenses with a soft, clean cloth dampened with vodka or rubbing alcohol. The alcohol cleans the glass and kills germs.


My Green Side’s web pick of the week:

Glue and Glitter

Glue and Glitter contains great tips, green crafts and amazing recipes. It is full of ways to repurpose everyday items that would end up in a landfill into something wonderful.

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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 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, 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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