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Go Green!

A few changes in how we think about the environment can have tremendous impact. As stewards for the earth we recognize that resources are precious and the contributions of humanity toward a healthy earth are key.

To support that dialog we’ve included a few easy-to-implement actions. Some of them are very simple, such as recycling, and some very creative, such as reusing.

No matter where you are on the spectrum of green awareness and conservation, this much is true: One person can make a difference.  We at Vanati invite you to join us in holding a vision for world leaders, businesses and all global citizens to recognize the impact of our actions and to embrace stewardship and care-taking of the earth. Together we can all make a greater difference.

1.  Recycle

Most communities offer some form of recycling for glass, plastic and even paper. Some is curbside; others require a trip to a local center.

Already recycle? Great!

Here are some ideas to enhance what you already do:

For instance, if you recycle at home, can you also encourage your place of business, your child’s daycare, your church etc to recycle if they don’t already? Sometimes it takes the energy of one well-meaning individual to start a wave of movement that is far reaching.


According to www.stopglobalwarming.org the paper industry is the third largest contributor to global warming. They estimate that if every household in the US replaced one toilet paper roll with a roll of recycled paper, 424,000 trees would be saved. If every household in the US used recycled napkins instead of virgin-fiber napkins, there would be 1 million more trees on the earth!

Don’t like recycled paper? Plant a tree. The National Arbor Day Foundation says the net cooling effect of one tree is equivalent to 10 room-sized air conditioners running for 20 hours a day. That’s a lot of cool air! Visit www.arborday.org and locate trees that are best for your zip code and planting needs.

Don’t have space to plant a tree? They also have links to organizations that will plant them for you, just make a donation.

How else can we keep paper from landfills?

Paperretriever.com offers recycling of paper products in conveniently located bins throughout  communities. Proceeds benefit nonprofits! Can it get any better than this? Avoid paper going to landfills and generate money (from trash, no less) for a service organization! Double your impact and pick organizations that also support the environment when donating your paper and junk mail!

Visit www.paperretriever.com and enter your zip code to locate donation sites in your area.

Junk Mail

How about avoiding all the unwanted paper even coming to your home or business? Get rid of junk mail. You can contact companies directly and request to be taken off their mailing lists. Just be sure to ask to also be removed from the lists they sell, share or rent as well.

You can also use a subscription service (or give it as a gift to a busy friend or family member) and they will contact direct mail companies and clearinghouses on your behalf. Some even plant trees with a portion of their fees. The sites www.Greendimes.com and www.41pounds.org can help you here.

For more info, also check out www.thegreenguide.com.

Recycle electronics

Consider donating your old PC or MAC. The National Cristina Foundation (cristina.org) will connect you to a nonprofit organization that can benefit from your old computer.

Cell phones

Drop them off at Staples to support recycling efforts of the Sierra Club (www.collectivegood.com/donate_phone_Staples.asp )

For drop centers of rechargeable batteries and cell phones take advantage of the non- profit www.Call2recycle at rbrc.org.

Local municipalities also offer recycling days for old tires, hazardous waste etc.

Google search for recycling options in your area or use www.earth911.org for friendly recycling tips as well as where to recycle items in your zip code.

Ikea recycles batteries as well as the compact fluorescent light bulbs, which contain mercury and must be disposed of properly: www.ikea.com

Ink cartridges:
PetSmart will donate the proceeds to the Humane Society, they even provide a postage paid mailer to make it easy. Keep a supply by your desk.

Giant Eagle grocery stores in the western PA area recycle plastic bags. Not just the ones you get when shopping (if you haven’t already switched to cloth) but also produce bags, and other soft plastic bags. Just start a simple system like a large bag on a hook and fill it up. Keep it by the car and make it even easier to take it with you on your next trip out. Other grocers offer similar programs as well.


2.  Reuse

Reuse is different from recycling. When a material is recycled, it is processed and remanufactured, requiring additional resources and energy to produce a new product. Reuse is defined as the use of a material after its originally intended purpose, without breaking it down into its raw components.

Certainly passing along items to good will, shelters, churches etc is a great start.

But what about stuff they can’t take?

Paint, windows, wood, cement, drywall, old fixtures, bicycles…oh my!

Construction-related waste accounts for about one-fourth of total landfill waste in the U.S., according to the Pollution Prevention Resource Exchange, a national network of regional pollution prevention information providers. Many natural resources used in building materials are becoming scarce. Practicing reuse and recycling can strengthen our natural resources.

Here’s a unique company that helps that problem, Construction Junction: www.Constructionjunction.org.

Talk about making a difference! Through their services 50 tons of building material are diverted from landfill every MONTH.

Their retail store is a spacious and fun place to shop; with over 30,000 square feet of kitchen cabinets, doors, bathroom fixtures, lumber, windows, hardware and more. The cost of new building materials can add up to big money quickly. Shopping here saves money and avoids perfectly useable goods from ending up at the dump and in landfills, just because no one knew who to give it to.

And, their experienced, fully-insured staff will come to your job site and remove items that they sell at their retail store in Point Breeze including cabinets, doors with jambs, windows, trim and casement work, and hardwood flooring.

They help with demolition??? Talk about a creative solution to a growing problem.

3.  Respect the Earth and her inhabitants

Plant trees, plants and shrubs that are native to your area.

These are plants that have evolved over thousands of years in a particular geographic location and are suited to the environment, wind, sun rain etc for that area. They require less care, use less water; decrease the needs for pesticides and support birds and other wildlife in your area: www.epa.gov/greenacres/nativeplants/factsht.html.

The mission of the National Wildlife Federation is to inspire Americans to protect wildlife for our children's future. Click here to learn about easy ways to transform your yard and garden practices to support wildlife, no matter where you live! www.nwf.org/gardenforwildlife

Plant a butterfly or pollinator garden for the bees. Pick plants that are red, fuscia and orange for the hummingbirds, yellow, blue and purple for the bees and butterflies, and sit back and enjoy. Have a small area in your yard, like a hill that is hard to mow? Consider planting native wildflowers and avoid the emissions of mowing while providing habitat for our winged friends

Use green products to clean

Avoid adding the harmful chemicals into your home as well as the byproducts when they are manufactured. Several companies offer earth and people/pet friendly alternatives. You can make your own by using vinegar, baking soda and lemon juice.

Conserve water

  • Bottled water- this is a big one. You want great healthy water quality and also want to be a good earth steward. Here are some facts to help you choose how to handle this one.
  • One out of six people in the world has no dependable, safe drinking water.
  • The number of people in the world with no reliable source of drinking water is 1 billion.
  • Last year Americans spent--$15 billion on bottled water. It will be $16 billion this year.
  • The environmental impact of producing bottled water is huge. Much of it is transported at great length, some as far away as Fiji.
  • Scientists estimate that one plastic bottle takes between 500 and ONE THOUSAND years to break down. That’s quite a legacy to leave to our great- great- great- great- great grandchildren’s grandchildren……
  • Americans went through about 50 billion plastic water bottles last year, 167 for each person.
  • Our recycling rate for these bottles is only 23%, which means we pitch into landfills 38 billion water bottles a year--more than $1 billion dollars of plastic.

We tend to drink bottled water because we believe it is safer.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulates bottled water because it's considered a food, but tap water is regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Both types of water are subject to testing for contaminates.

  • However, when bottled water is packaged and sold within the same state, it is not subject to FDA regulation--and some 60 percent to 70 percent of all bottled water falls into this category.
  • Reuters reports that tests of 1,000 bottles of water representing 103 different brands found man-made chemicals, bacteria and arsenic in 22 percent.
  • Pepsi-Cola’s Aquafina and Coca-Cola’s Dasani, the nation's biggest selling bottled water brands, are actually ordinary tap water that's been ultra-purified.

Some experts suggest having the water in your home tested and then purchasing a good water filter. For water filter comparisons, check here www.waterfiltercomparisons.net

Decrease the amount of heat and electricity used

Install blinds to block the sun during the heat of the day, or consider the new solar reflective film that you put on the window yourself. It helps maintain heat in the winter and blocks the heat in the summer.

Change your light bulbs to the CFL (compact fluorescent light bulbs). They use 70% less electricity and are available in many sizes. For help in getting the right bulb for your needs (some become hot when in use) go to www.energystar.gov.

Add all the electronics that get charged, into a power strip. It’s been reported that even after the cell phone etc is disconnected that the electric cord still pulls up to 40% of the electricity. Just flip the switch when you go.

Although perhaps we can’t all go solar or implement wind technology, we can choose where we purchase our electricity.
For more info on companies offering green power in your area check out www.eere.energy.gov/greenpower.

Buy responsibly

Make consumer choices to support ecologically friendly companies, add extra points to those that support social consciousness as well. For instance the Body Shop supports indigenous people, doesn’t test their products on animals, harvests ecologically, recycles bottles and supports programs like domestic violence! www.bodyshop.com

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