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Old 04-12-2010, 03:12 PM
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Default Earth Day 2010

Earth Day 2010 is on April 22nd. . .here are some thoughts from Simple Green that you might consider doing to "celebrate"

After 40 Years, Earth Day Matters More than Ever!

Earth Day matters because it has to matter. Our planet plays a role in each and every one of our lives, so it should matter to all of us. We should all be doing something to make a difference.

But not everyone is in a position to sell their car and start walking to work. The key is to make the changes that you can make. Maybe you’re fortunate enough that you can walk to work, or more likely, maybe changing light bulbs and conserving electricity is the way to go for you. Whatever works for you, make those changes today. Maybe next year you can do even more. And if we all took those little steps now, just image the changes we could make for our future!

So, go on and celebrate 40 years of Earth Day! But instead of cake, candles and a wish, make one small change in your home or your lifestyle. Here are some really easy, really great ideas:


  • Plant an herb garden. It’s good to have a reminder around of where our food originates.
  • Switch all your light bulbs to CFLs (or at least switch a few).
  • Switch one appliance to an energy efficient model (look for the “energy star” label).
  • Stop using disposable bags — get reusable bags, available now at most retailers.
  • Buy a reusable water bottle, and stop buying plastic disposable bottles.
  • Wash laundry in cold water instead of hot.
  • Turn off lights when you leave the room.
  • Don’t turn on lights at all for as long as you can — open your curtains and enjoy natural light.
  • Drive the speed limit, and combine all your errands for the week in one trip.
  • Better yet, walk or ride a bike to your errands that are two miles or closer.
  • Support your local economy and shop at your farmer’s market.
  • Turn off your computer completely at night.
  • Research whether you can sign up for green power from your utility company.
  • Pay as many bills as possible online (I pay almost everything EXCEPT the (#$&# phone bill online. I HATE AT&T's web site and customer service - both anything except customer friendly - both need separate contacts to question or pay for cellular, land line, internet & Uverse. . .how NON customer friendly is that?!).
  • Put a stop to unsolicited mail — sign up to opt out of pre-screened credit card offers.
  • Reuse scrap paper. Print on two sides, or let your kids color on the back side of used paper.
  • Conduct a quick energy audit of your home.
  • Fix leaky faucets.
  • Lower the temperature on your hot water heater.
  • Unplug unused chargers and appliances.
  • Repurpose something — save egg cartons for paint wells, seed starters, treasure boxes, or a myriad of other crafts.
  • Collect rainwater, and use it to water your houseplants and garden.
  • Make rags out of old towels and t-shirts, and forego buying paper towels.
  • Use cloth napkins daily instead of paper.
  • Repurpose glass jars as leftover containers and bulk storage.
  • Five-minute showers — make it a goal for yourself.
  • Switch to natural household cleaning products.

Our work has a project to help the neighborhood in which we are located. We've got a team picking up trash and one that is digging up the median to be able to do some planting there.
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Last edited by MagiePerdu : 04-12-2010 at 03:22 PM.
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Old 04-13-2010, 05:42 AM
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Default 7 Ways to "Save the Planet" from Taste For Life

Droughts are happening more and more frequently. In fact, there’s a 50-50 chance that Lake Mead (heard of Hoover Dam??), a source of water for more than 22 million residents of the Southwest, will be dry by 2021. Already the Colorado River system is at half capacity, following eight dry years. Water shortages and forest fires are just two of the consequences.

If carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions continue at even moderate rates, the planet will warm another four to seven degrees, flooding low-lying areas and potentially entire nations. Carbon emissions are also “acidifying” the oceans. “There’s a whole category of organisms [from coral to plankton] that has been around for hundreds of millions of years” at risk of extinction, warns Ken Caldeira at Stanford University’s Carnegie Institute.

Tropical insects have begun moving into temperate zones, partly due to changing El Nino weather patterns. Bacteria are popping up where they were never found before. “We are crowding wildlife into ever-smaller areas, and the human population is increasing,” reports Marc Levy at Columbia University’s Center for International Earth Science Information Network. “That’s a recipe for something [like bird flu and SARS] crossing over” to humans. The emergence of new diseases has quadrupled in the past 50 years, thanks at least in part to widespread destruction of natural wildlife habitats.

Important Questions

While these headlines convey only some of the ominous signs of global warming, the choices that green consumers face aren’t always clear-cut. For example, aren't those new energy-saving light bulbs a source of mercury? Compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) do contain, on average, about four milligrams of mercury, a heavy metal responsible for incalculable human suffering. But using a CFL in place of an incandescent bulb for six hours a day saves 126 kilowatt-hours of electricity annually. That translates into 170 pounds of CO2 emissions. In fact, CFLs actually reduce mercury emissions over the long run, since coal burning currently supplies half the electricity to American homes. In one year, an incandescent bulb emits three times the mercury as a compact fluorescent bulb. Multiply that by the number of lights in your home, and CFLs can make a real difference.

Have you heard that ethanol actually increases greenhouse gas emissions? This past February, benefit analyses for corn-based ethanol were called “one-sided” by Princeton researchers because the studies neglected to consider the carbon costs of diverting farmland from existing uses. According to these new figures, ethanol from corn will increase greenhouse gases by 93 percent over a 30-year period. Should you forgo biofuel? Not at all: Using garbage to produce these fuels would keep farmland producing food, as does algae (newly surfacing as an alternative biofuel).

Then there’s the question that regularly confronts you at the checkout counter––paper or plastic? You may already know the answer: Bring your own reusable bags. Both other options carry environmental costs. Every year, the United States uses 100 billion plastic bags—the fossil fuel equivalent of 12 million barrels of oil. Less than one percent of these bags are recycled, so plastic remains in the environment permanently, leaching into soil and groundwater while harming birds and other creatures. Yet the production of paper bags produces even more waste, along with air and water pollution. Plus, deforestation only worsens the effects of dramatic weather.

What You Can Do


1. Recycle and reuse. Recycling paper uses 70 percent less energy and 55 percent less water than creating new paper. Recycled paper may include virgin scraps and fibers left over from manufacturing (saving on transportation costs), while 100 percent postconsumer waste comes only from paper that’s been recovered from the solid waste stream. Mixed paper is usually sent overseas (often to China that uses coal-fired plants in recycling) and shipped back to this country, increasing carbon costs.

Whenever possible, use washable cups, napkins, plates, and towels instead of paper ones. Reduce the amount of paper in circulation by paying bills and reading the news online; save needed information to your desktop rather than printing it out. Recycle aluminum, cardboard, glass, paper, plastic, and tin cans every week; some retailers will recycle batteries, motor oil, and paint for their customers. To save dollars and reduce environmental impact, buy from thrift shops and second-hand stores.

Leave grass clippings on your lawn instead of bagging them. Cut grass decomposes naturally, adding organic matter to the soil. The ultimate form of recycling? Compost your fruit and vegetable peelings, egg shells, and leaves.

2. Eliminate unnecessary packaging. Natural products stores have bulk-buying sections where you can purchase as much as your family can use or store—without bringing home a lot of cardboard or plastic. Carry reusable shopping bags wherever you go.

Instead of buying bottled water, drink straight from the tap, using a filter if you’re concerned about quality. Invest in aluminum containers for water or coffee and tea. Avoiding plastic containers can save 1.5 million barrels of petroleum each year.

3. Reduce your home’s carbon footprint. Replace incandescent bulbs with CFLs, and turn off lights when you leave a room. Unplug CD players, phone chargers, and video games when you’re not using them. Set your hot water heater no higher than 120 degrees, check your insulation, vacuum refrigerator coils, and keep your freezer full to save energy. Buy only energy-efficient appliances, and look for take-back options when shopping for electronics. Consider solar-powered attic fans, water heaters, outdoor and pool lights, flashlights, and radios. Contact your power company to see if you can buy "green power" (or go to www.zoomer.sierraclub.org and click on Efficiency/Renewables).

Clean with chlorine-free, natural cleaning supplies. Wash clothes in cold water and dry them outdoors. Limit showers to five minutes, install aerating showerheads, and fix leaky faucets.

4. Travel green. Improving gas mileage by as little as three miles per gallon can reduce carbon emissions by 3,000 pounds a year. Check your tires often and get regular tune-ups to boost efficiency. Remove your roof rack when you’re not using it. Don’t drive aggressively; slow, steady acceleration can also save fuel. If you need a new car, shop for a hybrid or a vehicle with a flexible fuel tank that will allow you to use renewable fuels. Ride a bike or scooter.

If possible, live near where you work or at least carpool. Take public transportation if available. Combine errands each time you start the ignition, and don't let your car idle. Walk every chance you get to improve both your health and the planet’s. If feasible, take the train rather than flying. And consider carbon offsets to help reduce carbon dioxide emissions (visit www.terrapass.com); you can help balance your environmental impact for under $10.

5. Buy organic. While carbon offsets are promising, it’s even more important to help eliminate harmful chemicals in the environment. Organic certification forbids the use of persistent, toxic herbicides and pesticides, antibiotics (their overuse has contributed to drug-resistant bacteria), synthetic hormones (linked by some experts to weight gain and other health problems), sewage sludge (a source of heavy metals and other unwanted toxins), and genetically modified organisms (their environment impact remains unknown) in production and processing of these goods. When you choose organic baby products, beverages, chocolate, fabrics, essential oils, foods, herbs and spices, personal care products, pet foods, or supplements, you know they have been produced sustainably, using less energy and less water, protecting soil and water supplies, and promoting animal and plant diversity.

6. Get outdoors and garden. Plant trees and shrubs to help shade your home in hot weather. Select organic and heirloom seeds for your garden. Mulch with used newspaper, paper bags, grass clippings, and leaves to cut down on watering. When you do, water deeply early or late in the day. Avoid chemical fertilizers or pesticides and the lawn services that use them. Rake leaves by hand and use a reel or push mower––gas-powered equipment adds to air pollution. Keep mower blades sharp, and mow grass high to make your lawn denser and to encourage greater root growth.

Enjoy local bird sanctuaries, botanical gardens, parks, preserves, and wildlife areas. Eco-friendly backpacking, camping, canoeing, and hiking encourage appreciation of nature's numerous gifts. Support local and national preservation groups to help ensure the continuation of these gifts.

7. Take action politically. Ask your mayor to sign the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement and to prepare a "Cool Cities" action plan for cleaner city vehicles, energy efficiency, and renewable energy (go to www.sierraclub.org/coolcities). Contact state and national representatives and urge them to promote cleaner cars, green energy, and tax incentives for alternative sources. Talk to school officials about serving organic foods in the cafeteria and saving energy. Join local, regional, and national organizations that help protect the environment. In this election year, carefully study candidates’ energy and environmental platforms and voting records.

By putting into practice just a few these planet-saving initiatives, we can make a world of difference.
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Old 04-13-2010, 05:54 AM
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Default Tips for Gardening Naturally (more from Taste for Life)

Many of us are looking forward to spending time in the garden during the coming months. Whether you’re growing vegetables, fruits, or flowers, the last thing you want to do is use pesticides that can harm you, your children, your pets, and the environment. North Americans use approximately 136 million pounds of pesticides on lawns and gardens and in their homes each year—that’s three times the amount farmers use.

Consider safe, natural controls for garden pests instead.

Put Nature to Work

If pesky invaders show up to dine on your prize plants, enlist the aid of natural predators. Beneficial insects such as ground beetles, ladybugs, fireflies, green lacewings, praying mantis, spiders, and wasps will keep hungry insects from devouring your plants. Attract insect friends in the following ways:

Surround yourself with flowers. Flowering plants, especially those with small flowers rich in nectar, attract beneficial flies, wasps, and other insects to your garden (see “Flower Power” below).

Plant herbs. Herbs interplanted with vegetables help attract pests’ natural enemies. Let some of the herbs go to flower since it’s the blooms that do the attracting. (<---THIS is MY ploy, besides, I love using my own herbs and they SMELL great in my little kitchen garden!)

Encourage birds to visit to help control garden pests. Welcome them with trees, berry-bearing shrubs, birdhouses, and water features. (<---I use this one too!)

Spray Safely
If munching garden pests damage your plants, control them with some simple homemade recipes. Bad bugs won’t know what hit them.

For aphids, mealy bugs, mites, and other soft-bodied insects: Mix 1 tablespoon of canola oil and a few drops of liquid soap into a quart of water. Shake well and pour into a spray bottle. Spray plant from the top down and from the bottom up to get the underside of the leaves. The oil smothers the insects.

Another choice for mites and other insects: Mix 2 tablespoons of hot pepper sauce or cayenne pepper with a few drops of liquid soap into a quart of water. Let stand overnight, stir, pour into a spray bottle, and apply as above. Shake container frequently during application.

For insects and fungal diseases: Combine 1 table-spoon of cooking oil, 2 tablespoons of baking soda, and a few drops of liquid soap into a quart of water. Pour into a spray container and apply as above.

For weeds: Spot spray with common, full-strength household vinegar on a sunny day.

When Not To Spray

To avoid burning plants, don’t spray if the temperature is above 80 degrees. Also make sure that temperature plus humidity don’t exceed 140. For example, a temperature of 79 degrees plus humidity of 67 percent equals 146, so don’t spray then.

Flower Power

Beautify your yard and control harmful insects at the same time by planting flowers, herbs, and vegetables that attract helpful insects. Members of the mint family (lemon balm, pennyroyal, thyme), carrot family (dill, parsley), and cabbage family (radishes, mustard, broccoli) draw beneficial insects. (I plant every kind of mint I can get my hands on. . .of course, it spreads like a weed, so be sure to put it in containers [even tho it will still escape!])

Other plants to consider? Angelica, aster, bee balm, black-eyed Susan, calendula, candytuft, cilantro, clover, daisy, dill, evening primrose, fennel, goldenrod, parsley, sunflower, sweet alyssum, valerian, and yarrow.
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Old 04-13-2010, 06:32 AM
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Lots of great info Magie! Save the Earth and our money!
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