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Practical Eco-Tips

Wendy Oldenbrook
1. Bring a Dish to Pass.

Have a potluck get-together with your neighbors. Developing a sense of community can lead to many other eco-friendly activities such as carpooling, low-impact entertaining, and resource sharing (such as borrowing a leafblower instead of buying a new one.)

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2. Pack the Bags.

Keep a bag full of reusable bags in the car for planned and unplanned trips to the store.

3. Join a Farm.

Community-sponsored agriculture (CSA) is a wonderful solution to the problem of corporate mega-farming. Although each farm is slightly different, the main concept is that you buy a "share" in the farm and then you receive a 'share' of the harvest throughout the growing season. Most of these small farms are organic, and some of them offer other products such as eggs or organic meat. CSAs are a great way to support sustainable agriculture and get local, chemical-free produce. Click Here for more information and to find CSA farms in your area.

4. Make Friends with a Thrift Shop.

Many of us already donate our excess "stuff" to charity-run secondhand shops. Now, find one and familiarize yourself with what they have. We love our local Goodwill store - it has great children's books and work jeans. Keep a list of things you need that can be easily found at a thrift shop, for example a pair of metal tongs or Tupperware. Then make periodic trips with your list. Not only will you save money, but you will help reduce our overall consumption. After all, is it really necessary to have new metal tongs to pick up hot vegetables?

5. Switch to Cloth Napkins.

Start with a few nights a week at first, saving the paper napkins for the really messy meals. It will become second nature in no time! Cloth napkins are widely available, and are easy to make if you are so inclined - perhaps you can even find some at a secondhand store!

6. Give Organic.

Since you are going to buy a certain number of gift items every year, why not divert some of that money to companies that are environmentally and socially responsible? You could try organic, fair-trade coffee, handmade soap, or even a solar battery charge. Co-op America's Green Pages (http://www.greenpages.org) web site is an excellent source for environmentally-friendly gifts.

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7. Recycle Your Newspapers.

Recycling is an easy habit to develop and many trash companies now offer curbside recycling. An estimated 500,000 trees are wasted each week because Sunday papers are not being recycled. You may also want to consider switching your subscription to one day a week. Try it for a month and see if you feel any less informed.

8. Avoid Using Bleach.

Yes, bleach is toxic to the environment. Before using it, ask yourself if you really need it, and then see if you can substitute a more safe alternative product.

9. Test for a Leaking Toilet.

Add a few drops of food coloring to your toilet water tank. After 30 minutes, if the color has reached your toilet bowl - you have a leak. A leaky toilet can waste up to 20,000 gallons of water a year - enough to fill a swimming pool!

10. Lighten the Load.

Remove unnecessary articles from your car. The less your car weighs, the less gas it consumes. Each additional 100 pounds reduces the fuel economy by 1 %. This includes the dark sludgy ice blocks that cling to the wheel wells in the winter.

11. Share Your Coffee Grounds.

Instead of tossing your coffee grounds in the trash, march them outside and spread them around your flowers and bushes. They make an excellent slow-release fertilizer.

12.Proper Inflation.

Maximize tire life by maintaining proper tire pressure. According to the book, Chose to Reuse, by Nikki and David Goldbeck, this can almost double a tire's life span. Also, underinflated tires increase a car's rolling resistance which decreases its gas mileage by up to 5%!

About The Author: Wendy Oldenbrook is the publisher of Positive Impact, a free seasonal newsletter. Please visit Positive Impact to read the current issue and sign-up to receive up-coming newsletters.

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April 22, 2005
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