“Paper Or Plastic?”

Terry Brennan Do It Green! Magazine The question “Paper or plastic?” has become a routine part of our grocery shopping experience. Maybe you answer that question automatically, without even thinking. Or maybe you pause, wondering, “Which is better for the environment?” The answer is: neither paper nor plastic is the …

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A Balancing Act

Dianna Kennedy Eureka! Recycling We’ve all seen the lists of things we can do to reduce waste at home – bring a reusable bag to the store, recycle, buy in bulk, compost food scraps, buy less stuff – and the list goes on. Many of us have taken some of …

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A Sampling of Minnesota’s Sustainable Building History

The Weidt Group on behalf of the USGBC-Mississippi Headwaters Chapter 1945 Andersen introduced the Pressure Seal double hung window, which uses a removable sash and pressure-seal weather-stripping to keep out wind and precipitation. 1966 The Perm-Shield System, by Andersen, made its debut. The patented, tough vinyl exterior for wood windows …

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Best Thrift Store Buys

Eva Lewandowski If you’ve watched a local television station in the past week or so, you’ve probably seen the commercials for “Goodwill Halloween”, or more specifically for the costumes and decorations that you can find at your local Goodwill Industries retail thrift store. Reuse is a key component of a …

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Carpet and Carpet Pad Recycling

NAHB Research Center Annual carpet production for the U.S. market equals 1.5 billion square yards (approximately 485 square miles or enough to cover almost 90% of Houston, Texas, with carpet). Carpet typically lasts from 7 to 10 years (residential) or 5 to 8 years (commercial). Recarpeting accounts for 55% of …

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Cloth Diapering

Gabrielle Hagelstrom Think Cloth Company As a mother, I am often questioned about the choices I make in raising my children. Every time I leave the house with my 5 month old I am bombarded with unsolicited advice about all aspects of his well-being ranging from his attire to his …

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Clothing Swaps

Eva Lewandowski I attended my first clothing swap about four years ago, and I’ve helped coordinate Do It Green! Minnesota’s last three annual clothing swaps.  They’ve become one of my favorite green activities; they are fun, they emphasize the importance of item reuse, and they create a wonderful sense of …

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Co-Housing

Eric Hart Would you like to get to know your neighbors? Share tools, stories and memories? Create community? Co-housing makes these desires a part of your daily life, even with the busy lifestyles of today. Over the past decade, a growing number of people have discovered co-housing as a way …

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Co-operative Housing

Do It Green! Minnesota From www.co-ophousingcoalition.org From the outside, a housing co-op looks like any other townhouse development or apartment building. But, a housing co-op is different – here’s how: Owned by Members The residents of a housing co-op are members of the co-op corporation which owns the whole property. …

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Dealing With Asbestos

Sara Grochowski Do It Green! Minnesota Asbestos is the name for a group of minerals that occur naturally in the ground. Asbestos fibers have special characteristics. Heat or chemicals do not affect them, and they do not conduct electricity. Asbestos is also very strong. Pound for pound, asbestos is stronger …

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Eco Roofing Options

Wayne Gjerde Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Replacing your home’s roof can be expensive and, given the importance of a roof to your home’s health, it is important to review all the options available. If chosen wisely, the material used to roof your home can directly impact your energy savings and …

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Eco-Villages and Intentional Communities

Laurie Voeltz Intern at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage I have this dream of living some kind of “happily-ever-after.” A dream where I’m surrounded by friends, and we eat together, laugh together, create together, work together and work out our problems together outside the constraints of modern society as we know it. …

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Energy Saving Appliances

The Greater Los Angeles www.aceee.org Reprinted from The Greater Los Angeles and www.aceee.org Energy runs appliances. Saving energy helps the environment by reducing carbon dioxide emissions given off by energy plants. One kilowatt hour of electricity generates two pounds of CO2, our biggest global warming gas. Refrigerators alone consume 7% …

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Features of a Net Zero Eco House

Pam McCurdy Minnesota Pollution Control Agency A 2,200-square-foot, net-zero home that generates as much energy as it consumes in a year was featured at the Eco Experience at the 2009 Minnesota State Fair. Created by SALA Architects, the 2009 Eco House was a modern-design home with four bedrooms and two …

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From “Brown” to “Green”

Erin Barnes-Driscoll Green Building Specialist, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Most homeowners typically face an array of choices involved in designing, building, outfitting, upgrading, expanding, tweaking, and/or overhauling the sanctuaries in which they reside. For many, it provides an important opportunity to express their personal values in the choices made, be …

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Funding Assistance for Green Building Projects

Do It Green! Minnesota Established in 1995, the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE) is an ongoing project funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE). Here are some examples of financing programs, tax incentives, loan programs and rebates: Financing …

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Furniture Re-upholstery vs. Replacement

Al Grahn Grahn’s Upholstery According to earth911.org, it is estimated that by 2015, people in the U.S. will spend $121.7 billion to re-furbish our homes with new furniture pieces. When we buy new furniture, our old furniture often ends up in the garbage. The U.S. EPA reported that furniture accounted …

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Getting Started with Green Building and Remodeling

Michael Anschel Otogawa-Anschel Design + Build The key to successful green building lies in two things: planning and communication. One of the big challenges in green construction and design is sorting through the vast ocean of information including all of the facts, fictions, and applications. Location, climate and building type …

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Go Green in Your Aparement

Chad Skally & Amy Pickett Skally Management Anyone can go green, no matter what type of home they live in, including an apartment. Many ways of living green are now seen as routine, such as: recycling, using compact fluorescent light bulbs, limiting air conditioning use and turning off appliances when …

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Green Laundry Tips

Britt Carlson Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Use cold water to wash. 90 percent of the energy used by a washer is for heating water. Wash only when dirty. Most pants and some shirts can be worn two to three times before washing. Line dry clothes year round. A large drying …

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Green Facades

Corrie Zoll & Chris Wegscheid Minnesota Green Roofs Council Green walls use living plant material on walls to beautify buildings, improve air quality and reduce energy costs. Ivy covering a building blocks direct summer sunlight, but admits winter sunlight after the leaves have fallen. Modern green walls can provide the …

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Green Rooftops

Corrie Zoll Minnesota Green Roofs Council A green rooftop is a rooftop that incorporates plants as part of a building’s roofing system. Properly designed, green roofs are stable, living ecosystems that replicate many of the processes found in nature. Green rooftops can provide multiple ecological benefits including stormwater management, water …

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Green Your Holiday Tree

Karen O’Connor Mother Earth Gardens Buying a fresh-cut holiday tree that is grown sustainably continues to be a better choice than a buying a plastic one, but have you considered a living tree? The display of a living holiday tree means making the most of the season, because the tree …

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Greener Cleaning

Reprinted from www.coopamerica.org Feel like you’re killing yourself trying to keep your house clean? You may laugh, but you’re closer to the truth than you think if you’re using expensive commercial cleaners, says Karen Logan, environmentalist and author of Clean House, Clean Planet: Clean Your House for Pennies a Day …

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Greener Design and Remodeling

Michael Anschel Otogawa-Anschel Design + Build If you are reading this article, you may already know the importance of considering our planet’s resources when designing our homes. Determining the most sustainable solutions is a real challenge. Should you invest in solar panels? Should you buy the carpet with the Green …

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Healthy Home, Healthy Bodies, Healthy Planet

Patricia Cumbie The Mix Co-op Newsletter Many of us are aware of the devastation of rainforests, the effect of pesticides on ground-water and soil or toxic emissions from manufacturing plants. So maybe we eat lower on the food chain, buy organic food at the co-op and sign petitions to stop …

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Heating and Cooling Buyer’s Guide

Mark Snyder Do It Green! Minnesota Whether you are burning natural gas to run a furnace or boiler or using electricity from coal-fired electric utilities to run your air conditioner, for many homeowners, heating and cooling our homes is our single largest contribution to global warming, making up about 30% …

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Making My Backpack

Eva Lewandowski Last year I decided that I needed to replace my backpack.  Since I have made quite a few bags over the years, I decided to take on the project of making my own backpack, and I wanted to do it entirely from reclaimed or reused materials. When I …

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Minnesota GreenStar to Take Center Stage

Michael Anschel & Corey Brinkema Green Remodeling Group & Green Institute This has been a great year of progress in Minnesota’s efforts to become a national leader in preserving and restoring our environment. From the landmark legislation in addressing climate change and developing sustainable energy resources to the growth of …

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My Experience Building a Computer

Nate Dobbins Do-It-Yourself projects – whether they be repairs, improvements, or brand new creations – are often highly regarded among sustainably-minded people, and for good reason: getting into the habit of ‘doing-it-yourself’ will lengthen the life of your possessions, thus reducing the amount of ‘stuff’ you consume. It also affords …

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Native Plantings: A Beautiful Solution for Minnesota Shorelines

Angie Hong East Metro Water Resource Education Program Here in Minnesota, shoreline living is not limited to the rich and famous. According to the MN DNR, Minnesota has 11,842 lakes and 69,200 miles of natural rivers and streams. We have over 13 million acres of lakes, streams, and wetlands, which …

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Natural Lawn and Garden Care

Ami Voeltz The Twin Cities Green Guide Most of us enjoy and appreciate a nice-looking yard, but lawns do more than just look good. They absorb and hold water, helping to reduce storm runoff and protecting water quality. Lawn care, however, can create environmental problems. One of the biggest problems …

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Non-Toxic Cleaning Recipes

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency DO Read and follow all label directions on all products you purchase. Label all containers with ingredients, intended use, and date made. Keep all containers out of children’s reach. Keep all containers closed when not in use. Use only non-chlorine bleach if you feel you …

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Pack and Eat a No Waste Lunch

Compiled from REDUCE.ORG and DOITGREEN.ORG. Pack a No Waste Lunch A ‘no-waste lunch’ is a meal that does not end up in the trash. You can buy food items in bulk, then put them in reusable containers to carry to school or work. Packing your food in reusables is typically …

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Pest Control, the Old Fashioned Way

Julia Earl Preventing Harm Minnesota Pests seek three basic things—the same things we humans do: shelter, food and water. If you deprive them of those things, they won’t take up residence in your residence! Before the advent of toxic aerosol sprays and poisons post World War II, many people used …

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Practicing the Three Rs

Colleen Hetzel Do It Green! Magazine Most of us have heard of at least one of the three environmental R’s – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. Minnesota has one of the highest recycling rates in the United States. The recycling rate was over 47% in 1999. However, reducing and reusing waste …

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Recycling: The Nuts and Bolts

Mark Snyder Do It Green! Magazine Includes Listing of Recycling Drop-Off Centers Judging by collection rates, Minnesotans love to recycle. Nearly 50% of the garbage we generate is recycled, which places us among the leaders nationally. However, not many of us know much about what happens to all that stuff …

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Reducing Carbon Dioxide with Appliances

Terry Webster Office of Energy Security, Minnesota Department of Commerce The typical Minnesota household uses about 10,700 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity every year to run appliances, electronics, and lighting. Given the mix of fuels used to generate electricity, this usage equates to an average of over 19,000 lbs. of …

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Shades of Green: Healthy Basement Renovations

Erin Barnes-Driscoll Green Buildings Team—Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Basements are notorious for being damp, dark, inhospitable places—the antithesis of what we like to associate with green and healthy living. As a rule, the basements in older homes were not designed to be functional living spaces. Yet for many of us, …

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Small Is the New Big

John Dwyer AIA, Founding Partner, Shelter Architecture and Interior Design Historically, home values in the U.S. have been based heavily on size. As homes have increased in size over the last decade, so has our consumption of goods, services and energy. Today, if everyone on earth lived like we do, …

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Supersizing Our Homes and Lives

Sara Grochowski Do It Green! Minnesota While the size of the average family continues to shrink, home sizes have grown substantially. According to the National Association of Home Builders, the profile of a typical home in 1900 was estimated at the following: 700 to 1,200 square feet, two or three …

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Sustainable Lumber and Wood Products

Tamara Downs Schwei Dovetail Partners, Inc. Minnesota’s forests are vital to the state economy and environment. The Minnesota wood products industry provides employment to rural communities and serves markets throughout the world. As global trade in forest products grows, forest certification has emerged as a mechanism for consumers to identify …

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Sustainably Yours: Live Green Live Smart

Elizabeth Mische Live Green, Live Smart Sustainability begins at home, where our environmental footprint is heavy. More than 30% of our carbon emissions are produced by our shelters. Live Green, Live Smart™ was founded to help ordinary people find ways to make practical changes in their daily behavior and in …

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Take a Solar Tour!

Take a Twin Cities or Duluth area solar tour! These tours are sponsored by the Minnesota Renewable Energy Society and Minnesota Power. They have inspired many building and home owners to adopt the renewable energy habit. The tour features exemplary homes, businesses, and institutions that have incorporated renewable energy into …

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Take the Minnesota Energy Challenge!

Neely Crane-Smith Center for Energy and Environment We’ve all heard the recent talk about global warming and wondered what we can do as individuals to make a difference. The answer is easy: take simple steps to reduce your energy use and Minnesota’s carbon dioxide emissions. Not sure where to start? …

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Taste the Rainbow

After harvesting veggies from our gardening earlier this week, I peeked in my bag and thought, wow, it’s like a picture perfect rainbow – bet it tastes just as good. This thought then led me to think, it’s like you can ”Taste the rainbow”… mmmm. Sure, maybe I borrowed the …

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The Environmental Benefits of Making Dirt, Not Waste

Eureka Recycling The energy saving benefits of recycling have been touted for years, but calculations about the environmental benefits of composting are just surfacing. Recent studies confirm that composting is an effective and accessible way to reduce greenhouse gases. Our household waste is a significant contributor to global warming, and …

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The First Straw Bale Building

Ramy Selim, Owner Sunny Day Earth Solutions Sunny Day Earth Solutions to Build the First Straw Bale Building in Twin Cities Since 1998 Sunny Day Earth Solutions, a local eco-business based out of the Como neighborhood in Minneapolis has recently been approved by the city to begin construction on a …

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The Myth of the Homeless Person

Joshua Lang St. Stevens Homeless Shelter The image that most people identify with a homeless person is the panhandler on Nicollet Mall, the vodka-guzzling man on the bus, or the mentally ill person hearing voices on the corner. These stereotypes are the visibly homeless. In reality, they are the exception …

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The Understanding of Your Housing Rights

Elizabeth A. Emerson VISTA Tenant Advocate It goes without saying that a housing problem exists in the Twin Cites. Private landlords and tenants alike find it increasingly difficult to maintain their housing and tenants, and the housing market shows no signs of relieving either group. Sustainable housing is an important …

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The World as Home

Eleise Jones Ruminator Review A home is made up of many things: foundation, structure, function, and of greatest importance, the people within its walls. A healthy home is a beautiful thing, for it implies a clean, life-supporting environment. Your home may include a whole household, or your dwelling may be …

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Tips for a Non-Toxic Home

Angie Timmons Hennepin County Environmental Services From the water we drink, to the foods we eat, to how we maintain our yards and clean our homes, we can be exposed to chemicals in many ways. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, only a small frac­tion of the more than …

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Tips on Working with Your Landlord to Green Your Apartment

Amy Pickett and Chad Skally Skally Management Too often when we talk about living green, we focus on homeowners rather than renters. At Skally Management, a family-owned and -operated real estate management company in St. Paul, we’re changing that concept by finding innovative ways to practice Eco-Management: sustainable, responsible real …

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Toilets for You and the Environment

Jen Ortendahl Do It Green! Minnesota So, you bought a compost bin, you use fluorescent lights, and you bring your own canvas bag to the grocery store. Now you can add saving water and money to your list of conservation efforts by using a more efficient toilet. According to the …

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Washing Clothes the Old Fashioned Way

Julia Earl Preventing Harm Minnesota Many readers may be familiar with cleaning their home with homemade non-toxic cleaners. Have you thought about washing your laundry the same way? It’s a great way to save money, reduce the amount of pollution entering our water, improve human health downstream from us and… …

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What Is Your Ecological Footprint?

Jessica Houlihan Do It Green! Magazine Every person, through basic life decisions, has the ability to affect their surroundings. One’s attitude can rub off on others, one’s choices can inspire people around them and one’s daily decisions affect the environment. According to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, “just as owning …

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Where Does Our Garbage Go?

Colleen Schoenecker Do It Green! Magazine What is solid waste? “Solid waste” is defined as garbage, refuse and/or other discarded materials resulting from human activities. The average Minnesotan generates 6 lbs. of solid waste per day, or over 2,000 lbs. annually. Most of us don’t realize that we have a …

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Why Choose Green Building?

Sarah Nettleton Sarah Nettleton Architects Ltd The building industry consumes significant amounts of energy, water, and natural resources, and billions of tons of raw materials annually, choosing to build “green” homes can help reduce this burden on our environment. Since our “home” extends beyond the walls of our houses, we …

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Wildfire: How to Keep Your Home and Family Safe

Lindsay Brice Do It Green! Magazine According to the pamphlet “Wildfire: Are You and Your Home Prepared?” three quarters of wildfires are caused by the careless actions of people. These fires are preventable. “In the Great Lakes Region, more than one-quarter, or 1500 fires annually, are caused by careless burning …

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