Blog Posts by Diane MacEachern

  • Eco-Friendly Tips Will Reduce Your Car’s Environmental Impact

    fuel-efficiency, save gasfuel-efficiency, save gas High-tech electric and hybrid vehicles are all the rage right now. But you don't need to shell out big bucks for a new "eco" car if you give your own driving habits an environmental tune-up:

    Learn how to drive as efficiently as possible. Take note of these gas-saving tips and driving techniques and you'll visit the pump less often. Plus, you'll save $20-$50 a month on gasoline (photo credit).

    • Carpool and use mass transit as much as possible. When you share the ride, you reduce your costs - and your impact on the air your breathe and the water you drink.
    • Walk, bicycle. Well, these are more "non" driving tips, aren't they? But they do help you guzzle less gas; and manufacturing a bike or a pair of walking
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  • What Does "Natural" Mean?

    CarrotsDictionary.com defines natural as "not artificial" or "having undergone little or no processing and containing no chemical additives." When I think of "natural" I think of things "as Nature made them" - a tree, a flower, an apple, a bunch of carrots. I can recognize natural products in more or less their original form and can usually figure out whether they're good for me or instead pose some kind of threat (think "natural" poison ivy).

    Cheese puffs Businesses have long appreciated how much they have to gain by marketing their goods as "natural." It's why they've plastered the word all over products that, ironically, couldn't be farther from their natural state...like "natural" cheese puffs, crayola-colored gummy worms, ice cream that contains partially hydrogenated soybean oil and cocoa processed with alkali, and cleansers, soaps, toothpaste, and make-up that contain lye or lead.

    Gummy worms Products like these slide by as "natural" because no law prevents any manufacturer or retailer from claiming

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  • Join a CSA for Delicious Organic, Locally Grown Food

    1266950783_b95e04abcb If you're looking for delicious natural, organic food, consider signing up for a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. CSAs are a great way to enjoy fresh, seasonal produce all summer long while supporting your local farmers. If you're interested, the time to sign up is now.

    Here's how CSAs work: A farmer sells a certain number of "shares" in winter and early spring, before the growing season really kicks in. Customers pay for their share upfront, then receive a box of seasonal produce each week for the duration of the season. CSAs typically include vegetables, but may also include fruit, flowers, eggs, or dairy products.

    Why participate in a CSA?

    • Eating food grown close to home is one of the best ways to shrink your environmental footprint. Rather than being flown across the country (or even the world), your CSA produce may have been grown mere miles away from your door, thus saving a tremendous amount of transportation energy.
    • Local, seasonal produce is more
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  • We Don't Wait for Our Child to Get Hit By a Car Before We Tell Her to Look Both Ways

    "Look both ways before you cross the street." That's the Precautionary Principle in a nutshell.

    Child crossing street The Precautionary Principle was hammered out at the historic Wisconsin Wingspread conference in 1998 by scientists, researchers, and citizens. The principle is grounded in the simple belief that we should not wait to protect ourselves or the environment until we have absolute proof that certain products or activities can cause us harm.

    To the contrary, the principle declares: "When an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken, even if some cause-and-effect relationships are not fully established scientifically."

    Industries use scientific uncertainty as a way to avoid cleaning up their act. Companies often magnify the importance of uncertainty to persuade citizens, legislators, and regulators that they, too, should delay action. Think how much farther along we'd be at solving the climate change crisis if the

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  • Tax Credits Can Help You Save Money and Shift Green

    energy efficiency tax creditsenergy efficiency tax credits Buying energy-efficient home energy systems, appliances, and cars can save you loads of money by reducing your energy consumption. But the upfront cost of investing in efficient technologies can make ditching your old energy guzzlers for new energy sippers seem prohibitive. Federal and state tax credits help defray your purchase costs (image source). Here's how:


    Federal Energy Efficiency Tax Credits

    Home Renovations: You can earn up to 30% in federal tax credits on the first $1,500 you spend on improving the energy efficiency of your home. These credits apply only to existing home renovations and not to new construction. Remember: a tax credit is better than a deduction because it actually reduces the amount of money you pay tax on at the end of the year.

    Qualifying products include energy-efficient:

    • windows and doors
    • insulation
    • roofs
    • central air conditioners, furnaces, and boilers
    • water heaters
    • biomass stoves (like those that burn wood,
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  • 10 Ways to Control Catalog Clutter

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    During the post-holiday season, retail catalogs begin swamping mailboxes as the stores where you shopped add your address to their mailing lists. The huge amount of paper and ink used to produce catalogs is an environmental no-no. Producing all these catalogs is a big waste of energy and resources, especially because most of the products and information can be found on the retailers' websites.

    Put a stop to the catalog deluge before it begins by refusing to provide your address or phone number when you shop. If you place your order by phone, tell the operator to keep your name off the company's mailed catalog lists. (image source)

    If catalogs are still piling up at your house, here's how you can stem the paper tide:

    1) Call the 1-800 number provided in the catalog and ask the operator to remove your name from the company's lists.

    2) Sign up for free with Catalogchoice.org and cancel catalogs you no longer wish to receive.

    3) Pay $19.95 and

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  • Paint Your Home "Green" to Stay Healthy and Protect the Environment

    SW-grassbrush Whether you're redecorating your living room, covering up the screaming Pepto pink you once painted the bedroom, or just doing a little touch-up, there's more at stake when you repaint your home than color, What you choose affects your health and the environment, too. Here's how:

    Conventional paint contains toxic chemicals called volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, that go airborne as soon as you open the can and start rolling the walls. VOCs contribute to smog when they hit the outside air. Indoors, VOCs in conventional paint have been linked to respiratory and nervous-system disorders, and contribute to the fact that indoor air can be ten times more polluted than it is outside. You know that headachey, cranky feeling you get when a room is being painted? It's usually due to the VOCs.

    Fortunately, virtually every paint company in business has now developed a no-VOC, environmentally friendly paint. Most of these work like a charm. They roll on smoothly without polluting

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