ReUseIt Network (RIN)

Archives - Green Tips

Green Tips are a weekly offering of websites focusing on specific environmental issues compiled by Robin. They may be copied and forwarded in their entirety.

Join the discussion on Green Tips and other issues at the ReUseIt Cafe.

For any other questions, contact the Webmaster.






Click on a date to access a Weekly Green Tip [2008]:


17 Mar 08 | 09 Mar 08 | 17 Feb 08 | 10 Feb 08 | 03 Feb 08 | 27 Jan 08 | 20 Jan 08
13 Jan 08
| 06 Jan 08

Click on a date to access a Weekly Green Tip [2007]:


30 Dec 07 | 23 Dec 07 | 16 Dec 07 | 2 Dec 07 | 25 Nov 07 | 18 Nov 07 | 11 Nov 07
04 Nov 07
| 28 Oct 07 | 21 Oct 07 | 14 Oct 07 | 07 Oct 07 | 30 Sept 07 | 23 Sept 07
16 Sept 07
| 09 Sept 07 | 02 Sept 07 | 26 Aug 07 | 19 Aug 07 | 12 Aug 07 | 05 Aug 07



Green Tip: Spring Celebrations

03.17.08 On For those of us who live in the northern hemisphere, it's Spring! Today I'm stretching the "green" part to encourage learning about how various cultures, ancient and modern, celebrate the coming of Spring. Here in the USA, Spring means opening the windows of the home, cleaning out, planting a garden, and spending more time outside (and away from the computer). Think green, and celebrate Spring!

Learn About Spring Celebrations

There are two days each year when the daytime and nighttime hours are approximately equal -- each being 12 hours long. One occurs between March 19 and 21 and is called the Spring or Vernal Equinox. The other happens in September. These dates have strong ties to religious celebrations, both ancient and modern.

http://www.religioustolerance.org/spring_equinox.htm

Many, perhaps most, Pagan religions in the ancient Mediterranean region had a major seasonal day of religious celebration at, or following, the spring equinox.

http://www.religioustolerance.org/spequi2.htm

Eggs, like rabbits and hares, are fertility symbols of extreme antiquity. Since birds lay eggs and rabbits and hares give birth to large litters in the early spring, these became symbols of the rising fertility of the earth at the Vernal Equinox.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Easter_Bunny

Pickled eggs???

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pickled_egg

Many years ago I was introduced to Purple Eggs when I married into a family from Pennsylvania. The secret is letting the peeled hard boiled eggs soak in a brine along with cooked beets for several days. The "white" turns a lovely purple or deep pink. Here's a recipe. I love pickled beets so I think I would double the beets, onions, and seasonings and stick with the same number of eggs. Note: these will keep in your refrigerator for several weeks, but the longer the eggs are in the brine the more "rubbery" the white will become.

INGREDIENTS

 * 1 (15 ounce) can beets
 * 1 onion, thinly sliced
 * 12 hard cooked eggs, shelled and left whole
 * 1/4 cup white sugar
 * 1/2 cup vinegar

1. Drain liquid from the beets into saucepan. Place beets, onions, and eggs into a large bowl or pitcher.
2. Pour sugar and vinegar into the saucepan with the beet liquid and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, and let the mixture simmer 15 minutes.
3. Pour the beet juice mixture over the beets, eggs, and onions. Seal the bowl or pitcher and refrigerate. Refrigerate for at least one to 3 days; the longer they are allowed to sit the better they will taste.

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Green Tip: Baking soda for cleaning and more

03.09.08 On Making your own cleaning solutions is a growing trend. One handy ingredient is baking soda. Often used with vinegar, but with many uses on its own, it is a versatile addition to your cleaning supplies. Something I learned reading the internet -- mix baking soda and powdered sugar 50/50 and place in areas that roaches hang out (but out of reach of children and pets) and the combo will kill the pests. Resourceful & Ingenious Uses of Baking Soda book that includes tips and ideas for using baking soda in your daily cleaning household tasks.

http://www.bakingsodabook.co.uk/index.shtml

There are many non-poisonous products that can be used for basic household cleaning. Next to vinegar, the most useful of these is baking soda.

http://www.thenewhomemaker.com/bakingsoda

Baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, is a another great natural cleaning agent. It has great qualities as a scouring powder and is particularly good for deodorising sinks and garments. so why not try baking soda for cleaning around your home?

http://www.greenfootsteps.com/baking-soda-for-cleaning.html

Sodium bicarbonate is the chemical compound with the formula NaHCO3. Since it has long been known and is widely used, the salt has many other names including sodium hydrogencarbonate, sodium bicarb, baking soda, bread soda, cooking soda, bicarb soda or bicarbonate of soda.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bakingsoda

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Green Tip: Flip the switch on 29 March

02.17.08 On the 29th of March people from around the world will join together to make a statement about energy consumption. Please join them. Turn off your lights at 8 pm for just one hour. You can do this as an individual or you can organize broader participation in your community. (Hint - serve a candle-light dinner at 8 pm and spend an hour talking to your friends or family.) Here's where to find complete information, downloads, and to sign up:

http://www.earthhour.org/

Background:
"It started with a question: How can we inspire people to take action on climate change?

The answer: Ask the people of Sydney to turn off their lights for one hour.

On 31 March 2007, 2.2 million people and 2100 Sydney businesses turned off their lights for one hour - Earth Hour. This massive collective effort reduced Sydney's energy consumption by 10.2% for one hour, which is the equivalent effect of taking 48,000 cars off the road for one hour.

With Sydney icons like the Harbour Bridge and Opera House turning their lights off, and unique events such as weddings by candlelight, the world took notice. Inspired by the collective effort of millions of Sydneysiders, many major global cities are joining Earth Hour in 2008, turning a symbolic event into a global movement."

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Green Tip Revisited: Neat things to give all year round

02.10.08 Uh oh ... Valentine's Day is this week. Here's a Valentine for you and some tips on green gifts, recycled from the December 2, 2007 holiday season.

http://www.jacquielawson.com/viewcard.asp?code=1431295142330&source=jl999

Tip: If you're stumped for gift ideas for family or friends, think green. Here are ideas that aren't gifts of tangible items (you know--- more "stuff") and links to sites with more ideas to get you started.

PS: You may wish to keep this list for other times of the year.

Make a donation in their name
Check out organizations like Amnesty International, The Audubon Society, Heifer.org, Oxfam, Habitat for Humanity, Sierra Club, Doctors Without Borders, or your local library, museum, or symphony.

A night out
Give tickets to movies, concerts, sports events. Throw in your babysitting for the evening. For homebodies, how about certificates for online movies or dvd/video rentals?

Special interest?
Give an online subscription to sites such as Ancestry.com or Cooks Illustrated.

The gift of learning
Pay for a class to learn a new hobby such as pottery, photography, calligraphy, or a special-focus cooking class.

Gift certificates for:
- family portraits
- dinner out (check out restaurant.com for discount gift cards)
- massages, pedicures, manicures, haircuts etc
- house cleaning
- car care -- tune-up, oil change, tire rotation, car wash
- lawn and garden -- trees, bushes, flowers that can be planted outside
when weather permits. Seeds for a spring garden with a "coupon" offering to help prepare the beds and plant. Make "gift coupons" for mowing, leaf raking, gutter cleaning.

Need more ideas? Follow these links:

Sierra Club
http://www.sierraclub.org/e-files/gift_ideas.asp

National Resources Defense Council
http://www.nrdc.org/cities/living/ggift.asp

TreeHugger's 2007 Gift Guide
http://www.treehugger.com/files/2007/11/treehuggers_200_1.php

Grist: Environmental News and Commentary
http://www.grist.org/feature/2007/11/20/stuff-free/

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Green Tip Revisited: Compost instead of using the disposal

02.03.08 I'm moving to a new place and will be offering up some of the past editions of Green Tips for a few weeks until I get settled in. Spring is just around the corner, and maybe you've been spending evenings going through seed catalogs or visiting websites about gardening. Here's the post on composting from October 14, 2007. If you have the space and ability to create a compost bin for your garden, now might be a good time to start planning it. My new place is a townhouse with a few flower beds outside. No place to compost, I'm afraid. But I will try to coax a tomato or two and some peppers to grow outside my kitchen this first year.

Green Tip: Many people use the fall and winter to plan gardens for the coming spring. This year, consider incorporating composting into your planning. Talk to your neighbors about a community compost project.

"Composting is easy and cheap, you can cut down your garbage by hundreds of pounds each year, and create a mixture that can be used to improve the soil."
http://156.98.19.245/compost/

"Good composting isn't only about building a good bin and correctly mixing the compost. It's also about what you add to the compost. This article will provide a simple outline of what you can and can't compost."
http://www.wikihow.com/Compost-Successfully-&-Safely

"Across the planet earth an amazing process is continuously taking place. .... The result is a marvelous, rich, and crumbly layer of organic matter we call compost, which is nature's gift to the gardener."
http://www.gardenguides.com/how-to/tipstechniques/planning/compost.asp

"Compost is one of nature's best mulches and soil amendments, and you can use it instead of commercial fertilizers."
http://www.compostguide.com/

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Green Tip: Just go do it yourself!

01.27.08 Do-It-Yourself (DIY) is another way to expand the greening up of your lifestyle. Think you can't do it? Think again. Head for the internet and find step-by-step instructions, many with pictures or videos. Try to reuse materials you may already have or buy recycled or second-hand stuff (think Habitat for Humanity Stores). Or place a "wanted" message on your free-recycling board. Here are some links to get you started on planning those Spring projects.

World Environmental Organization Database
Reuse - Find ways to give new life to things that might otherwise end up in the trash. Use the database to learn how to reuse common household items.
http://www.world.org/weo/recycle

DoItYourself.com
DoItYourself.com is Going Green with how-to articles for readers looking to make 'green' changes in their life. The topics are broad, ranging from eco-friendly autos to 'green' gift-giving: These articles feature energy saving tips about existing appliances and home systems, explanatory information about Energy Star ratings and unique approaches to gardening and landscaping.
http://www.doityourself.com/scat/going-green

WikiHow
wikiHow is a collaborative writing project to build the world's largest, highest quality how-to manual. With your edits, we can create a free resource that helps millions of people by offering solutions to the problems of everyday life. wikiHow currently contains 29,744 articles — written, edited, and maintained primarily by volunteers.
http://www.wikihow.com/Main-Page

So you've just received a nice laptop, but you can't afford 40 bucks for a carry case? Or your current laptop bag has shredded, gotten coffee spilled on it, or doesn't fit your new laptop? You can make an inexpensive temporary replacement from nothing more than a box and some packing tape! Here's how:
http://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Laptop-Bag-from-Cardboard

"Crazy quilting" is when folks put oddly shaped and colored pieces of cloth together and stitch fancy, crazy and interesting patterns over it. If you have plenty of spare fabric pieces, you can make a pillow in this style. They are quite easy to make because there is no wrong way to put the fabric together!
http://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Crazy-Quilt-Pillow

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Green Tip: Greenmail for your inbox

01.20.08 I confess. I'm an email junkie. Sometimes I run across websites that offer free email newsletters and if the site is well-written, has good graphics, and doesn't exactly scream out "click on the ads", I subscribe.

I also use some of their ideas and links to articles from time to time for my own Green Tips. Yes, some of them have links to new products, but they gotta pay the bills. So ... take a look and learn more about what's happening out there. Oh, and I'm not getting any spam in the mailbox I use to subscribe, so they look pretty safe. I don't like spam!

The Daily Green
"the consumers guide to the green revolution" The Daily Green.com is published by the Digital Media unit of Hearst Magazines.
http://www.thedailygreen.com/

Ideal Bite
Ideal Bite offers bite-sized ideas for light green living – ideas for real people who lead busy lives and want to make small changes that add up to big results. Our Daily Tips cover everything from biodynamic wine to eco-pet products to organic cosmetics. The secret sauce? A spoonful of "incremental environmentalism" combined with a keeping-it-real attitude.
http://www.idealbite.com/

Green Guide to Go
The Green Guide to Go is a weekly e- bulletin to inform you of what's new at National Geographic's thegreenguide.com. Just click and go to read not-to-be-missed green living tips, product reviews and shopping advice, plus recipes, quizzes, and more.
http://www.thegreenguide.com/

Green Tips from UCS
The Union of Concerned Scientists is the leading science-based nonprofit working for a healthy environment and a safer world. UCS combines independent scientific research and citizen action to develop innovative, practical solutions and to secure responsible changes in government policy, corporate practices, and consumer choices.
http://www.ucsusa.org/publications/greentips/

Green Living Tips
Earth friendly advice for a greener planet. Reducing costs, consumption & impact on the environment! Australia based.
http://www.greenlivingtips.com/

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Green Tip: Reduce your wet footprint

01.13.08 There is nothing new about drought. What has changed is the realization that as population density increases and more land that was once dedicated to farming or woodland has been "developed" into office parks, residential enclaves, and shopping malls, less water is being returned to the underground water table. What has also changed is the use of technology to trace the effects of drought and the ability of municipalities to act sooner to conserve the remaining water.

I live just north of Orlando Florida, USA. Home to world-renowned theme parks and more golf courses than you can shake a stick at. Orange County (Orlando) and all Florida counties located to the south, down to the Florida Keys, have been placed on outdoor water use restrictions due to drought conditions beginning this week. The mayor of Raleigh, North Carolina, USA, has proposed an indoor limit of 25 gallons of water per person per day due to the city's critical situation. This isn't just a US problem. Drought affects millions of people all around the world. Don't wait for the mayor to issue a proclamation in your town. Check your water habit now.

Tip: Start at home. Here's a website where you can do a room by room home tour to see suggestions on reducing water usage.
http://www.h2ouse.org/

Learn more about drought and water issues.

Twelve years ago...

"Humans are using a surprisingly large - and growing - proportion of Earth's renewable water supply, according to a study reported in the Feb. 9 1996 issue of the journal Science. The trend could lead to constraints on food production and already is placing stress on aquatic ecosystems that could decimate fish populations."
http://news-service.stanford.edu/pr/96/960209waterlimit.html

"The National Drought Mitigation Center helps people and institutions develop and implement measures to reduce societal vulnerability to drought." This is an extensive site that includes a section for teaching kids about drought and numerous links for exploring the issue thoroughly. Check out the drought photos.
http://www.drought.unl.edu/index.htm

Here's a chart to help you calculate how much water your household uses a month. If you have water-saving appliances or toilets, your use may be somewhat less than the amount you have calculated on the chart. Print it out and get your calculator. Ask your family to help figure out the numbers.
http://www.wcud.org/water_usage.htm.

Watercrunch blog

Information on water issues in the Southeastern United States and beyond. Nicely done blog, easy to read, insightful entries.
http://watercrunch.blogspot.com/

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Green Tip:
Who is going to clean up the middle of the ocean?

01.06.08 A friend recently brought something to my attention that I had heard about but never read up on. It affects marine life and birds, as well as human beings. A large "sea" of trash lies in the Pacific Ocean betweeen Hawaii and California. There are other vortexes like this in other of the world's oceans, but this one seems to be getting the most notice. I urge you to take the time to read these articles. Dispose of plastic items responsibly. For instance, cut those 6-pack holders apart! Let's work together to keep as much trash out of our waterways as possible.

LEARN MORE -- READ THE ARTICLES

Continents of garbage in the oceans are killing marine life and releasing poisons that enter the human food chain, Amanda Woods reports in The Sydney Morning Herald.
http://tiny.cc/evLmR

A vast swath of the Pacific, twice the size of Texas, is full of a plastic stew that is entering the food chain. Scientists say these toxins are causing obesity, infertility...and worse.
http://tiny.cc/1DVPg

Remember the 1967 film "The Graduate"? In it, Mr. Robinson offered only one word of advice to Dustin Hoffman: "Plastics." Then came throwaway TV dinner trays, plastic pop bottles, shrink-wrapped packaging. These days, the world annually produces 250 billion pounds of plastic pellets to be made into cars, computers, medical equipment, gallon jugs for milk.
http://tiny.cc/n4dXC

A cluster of plastic garbage has formed in the middle of the Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and Los Angeles. Capt. Charles Moore, founder of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation, talks with Andrea Seabrook about his recent trip through the "garbage patch." All Things Considered, October 28, 2007.
http://tiny.cc/qlWP0

The centre of the North Pacific Gyre is relatively stationary region of the Pacific Ocean (the area it occupies is often referred to as the horse latitudes) and the circular rotation around it draws waste material in. This has led to the accumulation of flotsam and other debris in huge floating 'clouds' of waste which have taken on informal names, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the Eastern Garbage Patch or the Pacific Trash Vortex. While historically this debris has biodegraded, the gyre is now accumulating vast quantities of plastic and marine debris.
http://tiny.cc/FBT08

The Algalita Marine Research Foundation is dedicated to the protection of the marine environment and its watersheds through research, education, and restoration. Click on "Education" for "Plastics in the Environment" Algalita has created easy to use downloadable handouts to print out for the classroom to teach students of all ages about the affects of plastics in our environment.
http://www.algalita.org/index.html

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Green Tip: New Year's Greetings and Resolutions

12.30.07 Happy New Year!!! Did you know that celebrating the New Year can be traced back at least as far as Babylonia 4000 years ago? In the years around 2000 BC, the Babylonian New Year began with the first New Moon (actually the first visible cresent) after the Vernal Equinox (first day of spring). A popular resolution was to return borrowed farm equipment.

However you celebrate the ringing in of the New Year... with champagne at a party with friends, with fireworks, a picnic, eating black-eyed peas, or with a family tradition (do you have an urge to return things you borrowed?)... I wish you a peaceful and happy New Year. See you next year!

This website has a fascinating list of how New Year is celebrated around the world.
http://www.fathertimes.net/traditions.htm

Last week I invited readers to send in their own "green" resolutions for the coming year and here they are:

Lil_Angel_Eyes115 -- I will continue to recycle weekly, I will reuse my plastic bags (they make great diaper disposal bags while you're out and to keep the smell out at home), I will potty train my daughter so there are less diapers to dispose of, I will find more ways to reuse more items. I already am green in so many ways that I never knew I was doing it. I take old papers, or misprints, and cut them into four, using the blank back as note paper. I refill my ink cartridges. I walk as often as I can, for health, but is good for the environment. I will use more recycled products and use cloth with Ribbons for wrapping paper next year.

Scotty -- Mine would have to do with finishing replacing my light bulbs with the energy saving ones, and to get some of those kitchen appliances replaced with more energy efficient ones. I will turn off computer and stereo, etc, from the master switch instead of just individually. I know all those little red or green lights in the night are using something.

Karen -- I will create useable gift bags made from fabric to use in place of wrapping paper to help keep excess trash out of the landfills during the holiday season.

Beth -- I will buy reusable fabric "green bags" from Publix ($1.49 each), that I will normally keep in my car, for everyday purchases of groceries and everything else. This way I will never have those terrible plastic and paper bags in the first place, and I won't have to remember to return them for recycling!

Dianna -- My resolutions include the fact that we will be moving soon to Tucson:
I resolve to learn more about xeric landscaping and to find more and better ways to conserve water.
I have been collecting reusable polyprophene bags to take to the commisary and other stores and my resolution is to remember to actually take them into the store - ALL the time.

On that note: if you can crochet (I don't think I can to save my life!) Here is a neat site on reusable bags: http://www.marloscrochetcorner.com/Plastic%20Bag%20tote.html

If the military base allows us to use them, I resolve to change the bulbs to the lower energy CF bulbs and use smart power strips when I can. (For the TV, computers, etc.)
I resolve to switch, whenever possible, to cleaning products which don't add to the problem.

Suzy -- I am going to work on remembering to turn off my computer and printers every night. I am going to start taking my plastic grocery bags to the place where I volunteer. They re-use the bags to put groceries in that go to the needy. I am going to continue saving gas by consolidating trips in the car.

Teresa -- buy things with less packaging, make it at home without buying it, or go without if I really do not need it.

Sheri -- I have bought several canvas type bags. My goal is to get into the habit of using these more so less plastic bags come in my home. (Just recycled a HUGE target bag stuffed with plastic bags. Then my 2nd goal.. make my own canvas type bags (but that will be later in the year).

Cheryl -- I resolve to use all the cloth bags I've bought this year more often, and maybe gift some to friends/neighbours, as well as do up a couple crocheted and/or knitted bags as giftbags for presents.

Laura -- I will change out the rest of my light bulbs, use all energy-saving lights, keep heat down and air conditioning up

Shira -- I will take better care of my tomato plants than I did last year. I will start a kitchen garden. I will continue putting papers into the recycling bin.

J C -- I will check tire inflation twice a month. I will keep a canvas tote for shopping in the car ready to go.

Janet -- 1)   I resolve to get all possible lightbulbs in my house changed over to the new compact flourescents that save so much energy.
2)   I resolve to use my canvas shopping bags as much as possible when shopping.
3)   I resolve to use fewer lights in my classroom - I will ask the custodian to remove one bulb from each set of three.
4)   I resolve to recycle more paper in my classroom rather than throwing it away.
5)   I resolve to educate my students about the importance of recycling/conservation and will do so by discussing at least one green tip with each of my classes at least once a week
6)   I resolve to turn the water off when I brush my teeth.
7)   I resolve to put on a sweater before turning up the heat.
8)   I resolve to turn off and/or unplug appliances when they are not in use.
9)   I resolve to recycle whatever items are recyclable in my community.
10)   I resolve to be a better earth steward by keeping up to date on new green developments and informing my students, my children, and my friends in hopes that they will choose to adopt earth-friendly options.

Robin -- I will cook at home more and find sources for locally-grown produce. I will eat more fruits and vegetables. I will invite my neighbors to join the ReUseIt group for our community.

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Inspire someone -- share a resolution

12.23.07 This week there isn't a link to some other website. Instead, I'm offering a challenge to you. Decide on a "green" New Year's resolution and share it with the other readers of these Sunday Green Tips for next week's post. Send your resolution to Robin. I will post all in this format:

First name or internet "handle" -- resolution.

Some ideas --
I will keep my car's tires inflated appropriately to help increase mileage
I will purchase items grown in my area whenever possible
I will read labels and try to purchase items made from recycled materials
I will set up a compost pile/bin
I will set my thermostat several degrees higher in the summer and several degrees cooler in the winter
I will remember to take my reuseable bags to the store and reduce the number of plastic and paper bags I carry out

OK, you get the picture. It all starts with you!

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Green Tip: Navigating the learning curve

12.16.07 The media has been full of news from Bali this week, where representatives of nations from around the world wrangled over "creating a road map" for dealing with global warming and finally reached a last-minute agreement yesterday.

A whole internet "cottage industry" of bloggers denying that global warming even exists has sprung up in the past months, joining pundits and skeptics who point to prior climate changes in the earth's history.

It's enough to make my head spin. So I try to keep focused on what I know to be true: developed countries use more non-renewable energy, toss more items into the trash and landfills without recycling them, and are finally becoming concerned about the consequences. I see that the point isn't only about global warming. It's about pollution, landfills, consumption of diminishing natural resources, and what steps, as individuals, we can take to hand the planet over to our children and grandchildren in as good shape as we can.

Tip: Don't believe everything you hear in the news or read on the internet. Check it out. Compare sources. Look at who is doing the talking and where their funding comes from.

Two very different, but very informative links this week. Hope you think about what you find there.

"The Story of Stuff"
A 20-minute, fast-paced, fact-filled look at the underside of our production and consumption patterns, "The Story of Stuff" exposes the connections between a huge number of environmental and social issues, and calls us together to create a more sustainable and just world. It'll teach you something, it'll make you laugh, and it just may change the way you look at all the stuff in your life forever.
http://www.storyofstuff.com

The Truth About Recycling from The Economist print edition Jun 7th 2007.
As the importance of recycling becomes more apparent, questions about it linger. Is it worth the effort? How does it work? Is recycling waste just going into a landfill in China? Here are some answers.
http://economist.com/search/displaystory.cfm?story_id=9249262

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Green Tip: Neat things to give all year round

12.02.07 Tip: If you're stumped for gift ideas for family or friends, think green. Here are ideas that aren't gifts of tangible items (you know--- more "stuff") and links to sites with more ideas to get you started.

PS: You may wish to keep this list for other times of the year.

Make a donation in their name
Check out organizations like Amnesty International, The Audubon Society, Heifer.org, Oxfam, Habitat for Humanity, Sierra Club, Doctors Without Borders, or your local library, museum, or symphony.

A night out
Give tickets to movies, concerts, sports events. Throw in your babysitting for the evening. For homebodies, how about certificates for online movies or dvd/video rentals?

Special interest?
Give an online subscription to sites such as Ancestry.com or Cooks Illustrated.

The gift of learning
Pay for a class to learn a new hobby such as pottery, photography, calligraphy, or a special-focus cooking class.

Gift certificates for:
- family portraits
- dinner out (check out restaurant.com for discount gift cards)
- massages, pedicures, manicures, haircuts etc
- house cleaning
- car care -- tune-up, oil change, tire rotation, car wash
- lawn and garden -- trees, bushes, flowers that can be planted outside
- when weather permits. Seeds for a spring garden with a "coupon" offering to help prepare the beds and plant. Make "gift coupons" for mowing, leaf raking, gutter cleaning.

Need more ideas? Follow these links:

Sierra Club
http://www.sierraclub.org/e-files/gift_ideas.asp

National Resources Defense Council
http://www.nrdc.org/cities/living/ggift.asp

TreeHugger's 2007 Gift Guide
http://www.treehugger.com/files/2007/11/treehuggers_200_1.php

Grist: Environmental News and Commentary
http://www.grist.org/feature/2007/11/20/stuff-free/

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Green Tip: Rain, rain ... save some for a drier day

11.25.07 Thoughts: When I was a child in the 1950's my grandparents had a rain barrel sitting beside the back steps of their home. My grandmother used the water for her houseplants and whenever I was staying with them and washed my hair, I would dip out rain water, add a little cider vinegar, and use it as a final rinse. A friend who lives in Israel is renovating her home and the workmen recently discovered a cistern under her floor. It is full of water that is probably 200 years old. The thinking is that it is rain water that was collected from the roof.

With severe droughts on several continents more and more people are installing rain water collection systems. Today's Green Tip links explain more about this movement. Read about it and learn why rain water collection is illegal in one US state.

OVERVIEW
A rainwater tank (also known as a rain barrel in the US or a water butt in the UK) is a water tank which is used to collect and store rain water runoff, typically from rooftops via rain gutters. Rainwater tanks are installed to make use of soft rain water for home use, reduce mains water use, and aid self-sufficiency. In arid climates, rain barrels are often used to store water during the rainy season for use during dryer periods.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rainwater_tank

HOW TO GET STARTED
If you're a Northwest gardener and are looking for ways to save on your water bills and ensure that your plants don't suffer in the next drought, consider an old-fashioned technology: rainwater harvesting with rain barrels.
http://dnr.metrokc.gov/wlr/PI/rainbarrels.htm

Lawn and garden watering make up nearly 40% of total household water use during the summer.
http://www.dnr.state.md.us/ed/rainbarrel.html

Historical records show that rainwater was collected in simple clay containers as far back as 2,000 years ago in Thailand, and throughout other areas of the world after that.
http://www.rainbarrelguide.com/

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Green Tip: 'Tis the season to Think Green

11.18.07 Tip: Take time to plan ahead. Make a list before you go shopping and take it with you to avoid more trips to pick up forgotten items. If entertaining, or attending holiday gatherings, try to encourage ride-sharing among the guests. Make gifts to give. Use creative recycled packaging and wrapping. Most of all, have fun!!

KWANZAA
Kwanzaa is a celebration of family, community, and culture. It is celebrated 26 December - 1 January. The Seven Symbols of Kwanzaa Made Eco-friendly!
http://www.care2.com/greenliving/eco-friendly-kwanzaa.html

Kid-friendly activities for Kwanzaa --
http://holidays.kaboose.com/kwanzaa/index.html

HANUKKAH
Hanukkah is one of the most widely celebrated Jewish holidays. "While you celebrate the miracle of tiny bit of oil lasting a long time, consider ways that we can make our energy sources last for a long time."
http://www.coejl.org/Hanukkah/everyone/index.php

Kid-friendly activities for Hanukkah --
http://holidays.kaboose.com/chanukah/index.html

CHRISTMAS
"Help trim the trash while trimming the tree, Here is a challenging checklist of simple things you can do to reduce waste while you eat, drink, and make merry this holiday season."
http://www.use-less-stuff.com/ULSDAY/42ways.html

Kid-friendly activities for Christmas --
http://holidays.kaboose.com/christmas/index.html

MAKE ORNAMENTS AND GIFTS AT HOME
These two techniques for making holiday ornaments are fun for kids and will keep so that they can be reused year after year.
http://www.care2.com/greenliving/homemade-holiday-ornaments.html
http://www.simplymoms.com/art/playdoh.html

Gifts in a Jar -- Ideas for making your own gifts for the holidays
Almost every jar recipe here has free printable jar labels to help decorate your gifts in a jar - use the labels or create your own, then add fabric toppers or other embellishments to make the jar just as much a treasured homemade gift as the contents inside!
http://www.allfreecrafts.com/giftinajar/index.shtml

Recipe suggestion for a gift in a jar:

Paula Deen's House Seasoning

Use this just like salt. Package in an airtight jar. If making a batch for a number of gifts, just increase the amounts proportionately. (You may want to purchase larger sizes of the ingredients than usual.)

1 cup salt (can use kosher salt)
1/4 c. garlic powder
1/4 c. ground black pepper (if you have a spice grinder use whole peppercorns and grind)
1/4 c. dried parsley (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a bowl, and put in jars or airtight plastic containers.

This can be used to season many dishes (except desserts).

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Green Tip: Looking at the big picture

11.11.07 Tip: Read the article. Next, look at Chris Jordan's photographs. Then ask yourself: "What more can I do?"

THE ARTICLE
"Every thirty seconds in the U.S., 106,000 aluminum soda cans are tossed out. That's more soft drink than we can imagine, much less swallow, and yet, every time we drink a Coke we add one more can to that number. For the photographer Chris Jordan, making these numbers tangible has become an artistic challenge, even an obsession. 'I'm trying to get at the scale of our consumer society,' Jordan says."
http://www.thegreenguide.com/doc/122/jordan

THE PHOTOGRAPHS
"As an American consumer myself, I am in no position to finger wag; but I do know that when we reflect on a difficult question in the absence of an answer, our attention can turn inward, and in that space may exist the possibility of some evolution of thought or action. So my hope is that these photographs can serve as portals to a kind of cultural self-inquiry. It may not be the most comfortable terrain, but I have heard it said that in risking self-awareness, at least we know that we are awake. " from Chris Jordan statement.
http://www.chrisjordan.com/

This week marks Recycles Day in the US (Nov. 15) and Recycles Week in Australia.

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Green Tip: Food, Diet, and the Environment

11.04.07 Tip: Changing the impact humans have on the environment means starting at home, and this week's Green Tip focuses on the food we eat. If you've been considering adopting new eating patterns, try introducing small changes gradually.

Here are articles that explain the impact of a meat-based diet on health and the environment and an easy meatless recipe to try.

"Meatless Monday is a health campaign to help prevent heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer ...."
http://www.meatlessmonday.com/site/PageServer?pagename=a_index

"Being a flexitarian means eating 80 percent of your daily calories from fruit, vegetables, whole grains and beans and 20 percent from lean meat, fish and poultry."
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/02/27/AR2006022701026.html

"A fair amount of environmental destruction can be linked to the way we pattern our lives. ... there are ways of living which place more or less of a burden on this poor old planet of ours."
http://www.fortunecity.com/greenfield/shell/5/enviro.htm

"Environmental vegetarianism is the practice of vegetarianism based on the belief that the production of meat by intensive agriculture is environmentally unsustainable. "
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_vegetarianism

"According to the 390 page 2006 United Nations report "Livestock's Long Shadow", the livestock sector (primarily cows, chickens, and pigs) emerges as one of the top two or three most significant contributors to our most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global. "
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Livestock#Environmental_impact

Can You Eat Meat and Still Be an Environmentalist?
http://www.therenewableplanet.com/blogs/the_daily_green/archive/2007/04/22/Can-You-Eat-Meat-and-Still-Be-an-Environmentalist.aspx

RECIPE

Bean Pot Medley (Slow Cooker)
Source: justbeanrecipes
http://www.justbeanrecipes.com/index.html


1 can (15 1/2 ounces)black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (15 1/2 ounces)red beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (15 1/2 ounces)Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (15 1/2 ounces)black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
1 can (8 1/2 ounces)baby lima beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cups ketchup
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon dry mustard
2 bay leaves
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Combine all ingredients in slow cooker; stir. Cover and cook on LOW 6 to 7 hours or until onion and peppers are tender. Remove and discard bay leaves.

Makes 8 servings.

Note: No slow cooker? Combine ingredients in an oven-proof casserole dish, cover with a lid or aluminum foil, and bake in a "slow" oven (325 degrees F) for an hour or more until onion and peppers are tender.

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Green Tip: Solving the Pumpkin Problem

10.28.07 Did you know that 10% of residential waste (by weight) in the week after Halloween is composed of discarded jack-o-lanterns? Green Tips is dedicated to all the leftover pumpkins from Halloween this week. From the number of websites with information on this subject, it is of concern in many communities.

You have the power to help change that. Here are some ideas to get you started.

COMPOSTING
You can cut your pumpkin up into cubes and put it in the compost bin. If you don't have a compost bin, maybe you know someone who does. Offer your pumpkin leftovers to them. Check with your town's recycling office or whichever one picks up your leaves in the fall or locate a community garden group.

UK
99% of pumpkins sold in the UK will be used for carving lanterns, hundreds of thousands of these will just be put in the bin afterwards and will end up in landfill sites. RecycleNow is sponsoring a nationwide campaign to keep pumpkins out of UK landfills.
http://www.recyclenow.com/news/seasonal_news/the_autumn.html

USA

Broomfield:
http://www.ci.broomfield.co.us/environment/Recycling_Page.shtml

Denver:
http://www.denvergov.org//recapp/DenverRecyclesHome/tabid/425351/Default.aspx

Boulder County:
http://recycling.colorado.edu/get_involved/recycling_bulletin/11.html

Loveland:
http://www.ci.loveland.co.us/NEWS/pumpkins.htm

Seattle: Pumpkins and other autumn fruits and vegetables can be placed in Seattle's yard and food waste cart.
http://www.seattle.gov/util/About_SPU/News/News_Releases/SPU01_003009.asp
West Saint Paul MN will recycle pumpkins
http://www.ci.west-saint-paul.mn.us/index.asp?Type=B_LIST&SEC=%7BC688DD67-52AE-41A8-A005-1C606DF9F019%7D

Canada
Free Residential Pumpkin Composting in Chilliwack BC and Calgary Alberta
http://www.chilliwack.com/main/page.cfm?id=726
http://www.calgary.ca/portal/server.pt/gateway/PTARGS_0_2_424493_0_0_18/Leaf+and+Pumpkin+Drop+Off+Program.htm

FEED THE ELEPHANTS
Call your city or regional zoo and ask if they will take donations of pumpkins.

Along with the elephants, many other animals at The Toledo Zoo are given pumpkins for enrichment, food or both. For example, the gorillas, chimpanzees and orangutans will receive carved pumpkins stuffed with food items so they can open up the gourds to reveal treats. The rhinos, hippos, otters, polar bears, giraffe, monkeys, lions, tigers, sloth bears, gray wolves, hornbills, vultures, pacu (a type of fish) and several other animals also partake of the Halloween bounty

Seattle WA
Woodland Park Zoo Pumpkin Bash, Oct. 29, 30; watch zoo animals including hippos, bears, elephants, monkeys and gorillas smash, stomp and eat pumpkins, Seattle. 206-684-4800.

FEED YOUR FAMILY

Halloween may be over, but don't throw away those Jack-O-Lanterns just yet! Mommysavers.com has come up with some great ideas to make use of every last bit of your pumpkins.
http://www.mommysavers.com/Articles/recycle_pumpkins.htm

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Green Tip: Make it a Green Halloween

10.21.07 Tip: plan trick-or-treat outings in a walking circuit of your neighborhood and leave the car at home! Use rechargeable batteries in flashlights.

Check out these websites for more suggestions:

Consumers are expected to spend $3.12 billion on candy, costumes and other Halloween goodies this year. That's a big pile of candy corn. It's also a lot of crumpled candy wrappers, paper party props and plastic political masks in the trash the very next day.
http://www.stopglobalwarming.org/sgw_read.asp?id=1141369282006

Sure, witches, ghosts, and ghouls are scary, but so is the amount of pollution and waste created during popular holidays like Halloween.
http://www.audubon.org/Hween06/Green.html?gclid=CMez_N2RmY8CFQRuZQodyGNafg

Halloween is spooky by nature, but it doesn't have to be a scary time for the environment. You can have a jack-o-lantern full of Halloween fun while helping to protect and preserve the environment.
http://environment.about.com/od/greenhalloween/ss/green_halloween.htm

Looking for a way to spread the message of environmentalism with a sense of humor? Why not consider a green-themed Halloween costume for this year's round of parties and trick-or-treating?
http://greenliving.suite101.com/article.cfm/green_costume_ideas_for_halloween

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Green Tip: Compost instead of using the disposal

10.14.07 Tip: Many people use the fall and winter to plan gardens for the coming spring. This year, consider incorporating composting into your planning. Talk to your neighbors about a community compost project.

"Composting is easy and cheap, you can cut down your garbage by hundreds of pounds each year, and create a mixture that can be used to improve the soil."
http://156.98.19.245/compost/

"Good composting isn't only about building a good bin and correctly mixing the compost. It's also about what you add to the compost. This article will provide a simple outline of what you can and can't compost."
http://www.wikihow.com/Compost-Successfully-&-Safely

"Across the planet earth an amazing process is continuously taking place. .... The result is a marvelous, rich, and crumbly layer of organic matter we call compost, which is nature's gift to the gardener."
http://www.gardenguides.com/how-to/tipstechniques/planning/compost.asp

"Compost is one of nature's best mulches and soil amendments, and you can use it instead of commercial fertilizers."
http://www.compostguide.com/

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Green Tip: Conserve energy, save money, stay warm

10.07.07 Tip: If your head is warm and your feet are warm, your whole body feels warmer. If the thermostat has been turned down in your house and you feel cold, put on a sweater, some wool socks and a stocking cap. Dress in layers and if you've got a sunny window, sit near it and let the sunshine warm you.

Here are websites with tips on staying warm, saving energy, and cutting heating costs this winter:

"So maybe you're a poor college student, or your parents are cheap. Maybe your landlord didn't fix the furnace yet. Maybe you live in an old drafty house. Perhaps you want to curb CO2 emissions. For some reason it's cold and you need new ways of keeping warm. Here are some of those tricks!"
http://www.wikihow.com/Stay-Warm-at-Home-Without-a-Heater

"In winter, keeping the heat set a few degrees lower can save quite a bit of energy."
http://www.grinningplanet.com/2004/02-19/energy-efficiency-saves-money-eco.htm

"Top 7 No-Cost Tips for Saving You Money This Winter"
http://www.koat.com/houseandhome/5439981/detail.html

"Many of our homeowners ask, "What can I do to reduce my heating bill?" Others have called us in the middle of winter complaining, "My house is drafty and cold--I just can't get it warm enough." Learn how to improve the warmth of your home and cut energy costs at the same time!"

http://www.ehow.com/how_2007287_home-heating-bill-this-winter.html

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Green Tip: Water: a vital resource, not guaranteed

09.30.07 Tip: Use a pitcher or other container to "catch" the cold water going down the drain in the kitchen and bathroom before the hot water is available. Just need several cups of hot water? Measure it into a microwave-safe container and heat the water there. Doesn't take long and uses little energy.

With increasing problems of water supply in many parts of the world, thrifty use of water has become an essential trait for all of us. Even if you think water is gushing out in your part of the world, it may not always stay that way.
http://www.wikihow.com/Bathe-When-Water-Is-Scarce

Commercial car washes require an average of about 45 gallons of water per car, whereas home washers typically use between 80 and 140 gallons, according to the trade group International Carwash Association.
http://www.thedailygreen.com/2007/08/27/get-a-cleaner-car-wash/5924/

Water is a precious resource in our environment. Growing populations and ongoing droughts are squeezing our water resources dry, causing natural habitat degradation and impacting our everyday use of water.
http://earth911.org/water/water-conservation/

When reliable rainfall disappears from a region for years or even decades, the impacts on plants, animals, and people can be profound. Learn more about drought and resultant wildland fires here:
http://www.ncar.ucar.edu/research/climate/drought.php

Finally, visit the US National Drought Monitor site for a current status report on drought in the United States.
http://www.drought.unl.edu/dm/monitor.html

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Green Tip: Reduce the Carbon Paw Prints

09.23.07 Tip: Cat owners should avoid clumping clay litter at all costs. Not only is clay strip-mined (bad for the planet), but the clay sediment is also permeated with carcinogenic silica dust that can coat little kitty lungs (bad for the cat). Plus, the sodium bentonite that acts as the clumping agent can poison a cat through chronic ingestion through their fastidious need to groom.

According to the United States Humane Society, 73 million dogs and 90 million cats currently inhabit U.S. homes, meaning household pets are an important consumer of valuable resources in many families. Here are eight tips on making your pet owning experience a "green" one.
http://earth911.org/blog/2007/07/05/green-your-pet/

More good tips on how to reduce your pets' carbon paw prints�without making your wallet roll over and play dead.
http://www.treehugger.com/files/2007/03/how-to-green-your-pet.php

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Green Tip: Play the Consumer Consequences Game

09.16.07 Tip: Go Green: Buy foods in larger sizes and repackage in reusable containers to cut down on the amount of packaging going in your trash.

"Consumer Consequences" is an interactive game designed to illustrate the impact of our lifestyles on the Earth. It's part of American Public Media's™ special series, "Consumed," which explores whether the modern American lifestyle is sustainable in the long run. (Stay tuned to the site for more "Consumed" content).
http://sustainability.publicradio.org/consumerconsequences/

Public Radio's "Marketplace" Tess Vigeland takes a measure of how much garbage she sends to the landfill. Can she reduce her trash to zero after two weeks? And what about you? Are you up to the challenge?
http://marketplace.publicradio.org/display/web/2007/09/14/tess_trash_challenge/

Read Tess' blog about her efforts to reduce the amount of trash she generates over the next two weeks. Sign up to join her Trash Challenge.
http://www.publicradio.org/columns/marketplace/trash/

For thought: Do you know where the landfill that receives your trash is?  Do you know how much longer it can accept more trash from your community? Find out!

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Green Tip: Lemons aren't just for lemonade

09.09.07 Tip: An equal amount of lemon juice and water added to an atomizer will create a wonderful synthetic chemical-free green air freshener for your home.

Lemons - a fruit with a wonderful fragrance, great in food and beverages, but also very handy for multiple purposes around the home!

Lemons have been cultivated by humans for over a thousand years. The fruit in mentioned in tenth century Arabic literature, but was probably first grown in Assam, India.

Lemons are high in vitamin C, have an anti-bacterial effect and are thought to posess antioxidant and anti-carcinogenic properties. The juice consists of about 5% acid, which  also makes them useful for a variety of household purposes. Find tips for using lemons in surprising ways here:
http://www.greenlivingtips.com/articles/136/1/24-handy-lemon-tips.html

Lean more about lemons:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lemon
http://www.cuisinenet.com/glossary/lemon1.html

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Green Tip: Water: not an unlimited resource

09.02.07 Tip: When you have ice left in your cup from a take-out restaurant, don't throw it in the trash, dump it on a plant.

Water is essential for life and plays a vital role in the proper functioning of the Earth's ecosystems. The pollution of water has a serious impact on all living creatures, and can negatively affect the use of water for drinking, household needs, recreation, fishing, transportation and commerce.
http://earth911.org/water/

Pick a region of the United States for corresponding water-saving tips
http://www.wateruseitwisely.com/100ways/index.shtml

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Green Tip: Rethink Bottled Water

08.26.07 Tip: Putting a water filter in your home is less expensive and far less environmentally damaging than bottled water.

You may think that one water filter is as good as another, but think again. The filter you buy on impulse may not be keeping your family safe.
http://www.coopamerica.org/pubs/realmoney/articles/waterfilters.cfm

Last year Americans spent nearly $11 billion on over 8 billion gallons of bottled water, and then tossed over 22 billion empty plastic bottles in the trash. In bottle production alone, the more than 70 million bottles of water consumed each day in the U.S. drain 1.5 million barrels of oil over the course of one year.
http://www.thegreenguide.com/doc/121/bottle

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Green Tip: Leave it cleaner than you found it

08.19.07 Tip: *Pick it up*. If you walk or exercise outdoors and/or at the beach, bring a trash bag with you and pick up litter along the way. Streets and storm drains empty into rivers and streams that lead to our coasts, so every piece of litter counts.

Each year an estimated 14 billion pounds of trash are dumped into the world's oceans. Plastics now make up 90 percent of all floating marine debris, and most of it originates from land. If you live near a US coast, check out the link for Coastal Cleanup Day, September 15.
http://www.thegreenguide.com/blog/tow/837

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Go Green: Rethink Your "Spare Change"

08.12.07 Tip: When paying for a purchase, try to give "exact change" to keep coins in circulation.

"A few bucks worth of loose change here and a few bucks there couldn't really add up to all that much could it?"

http://www.greenlivingtips.com/articles/134/1/Coin-hoarding-and-the-environment.html

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Go Green: Getting Kids Involved

08.05.07 Tip: Choose products made of recycled material when doing back-to-school shopping.

Find earth-friendly activities and information for kids on the internet:
http://earth911.org/just-for-kids/

Let "Handy" help you learn how to protect the planet. You'll find information, fun games and activities, great environmental links, and more. Together, we can all lend a hand to Make Every Day Earth Day!

Learning about the environment is easy! Just pick your grade level from the buttons, and you'll be taken to a section made just for you. There you'll find information, fun games and activities, great environmental links, and more. Of course, everyone can join in on The Pledge. Don't forget to check out our links! They lead off to other pages where you can learn and do even more. Have fun!

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