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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Do Your Part: Is your appetite ready for change?

I have to say, it was a delightful dinner. A close friend of mine and I recently went to a true farm-to-fork restaurant in Uptown Charlotte, N.C. We enjoyed the mouth watering, locally grown and locally raised foods. From a seasonal salad to the sweet potato burger I’ve been raving about ever since – the selection and the tastes were truly divine. There I was at the Harvest Moon Grille enjoying the good food and good conversation and also feeling good about supporting a local business and the local movement.

Do Your Part: Pick alternatives to chemicals

Children are particularly susceptible to dangerous chemicals because of their lower body weight. It takes a much smaller amount to harm their developing bodies. Create a healthier home and a healthier child by reducing your family’s exposure to questionable chemicals. Here are five alternatives to the dangerous chemicals your child probably comes into contact with every day. Triclosan: It’s found in many antibacterial hand soaps, gels, and body washes. Triclosan is believed to interfere with thyroid function. It also has been linked to the creation of “superbugs,” which are resistant to antibiotics.

Ignore the myths; focus on making best green choices

Forget “Ghostbusters.” Today, I’m fighting popular green myths to help you get started on going green. With all the misinformation out there, it’s important to zero in on effective ways to save money, save resources and live healthier. • Myth: Organic is the only way to go: False! Organic is one good option when food shopping because it means the food or produce was not created or grown with synthetic chemical pesticides or insecticides. However, locally grown foods are another important way to be eco-friendly. Those foods are from farms within a few hundred miles, not shipped from across the world to get to your table.

Do Your Part: Best birthday wish? A green celebration

When you plan your child’s next birthday party, give the planet a gift at the same time. Here are my ways to throw a greener birthday bash. • Paperless invitations: You can customize the emailed invitations with photos and custom wording. It is cheaper and faster than printing or writing out invitations and makes it easy for parents to RSVP.

Do Your Part: This summer, grill healthier meats, seafood

Summer is in full swing. School is winding down, and the barbecue grills are firing up. Before you put that burger, chicken, or seafood over the flame, ask yourself what you really know about what you’re grilling. To find out how the beef or chicken you’re getting was raised and fed, talk to your butcher or check the label before buying. If you’re looking for organic meats, seek out the USDA Organic label. This label verifies that the cattle were given only organic feed and were not injected with growth hormones or antibiotics.

Do Your Part: Be a green beach bum this summer

Are you one of millions who will enjoy some of the summer sun at the beach? Did you know that some of the choices we make at home and while on vacation can actually contaminate the very same waters we can’t wait to get in? It starts at home

Do Your Part: Take steps to make every day an Earth Day

We always hear a lot about Earth Day approaching, but what about now that it’s past? Did you commit to any new ways to lower your impact on the planet? While taking a day or even a month to celebrate our planet is a noble cause, it’s something we really should be doing every day of the year. Taking a few green steps doesn’t have to be difficult or costly. In fact, you may find that you’re lowering the pressure on your pocketbook. Here are my top ways to make every day Earth Day.

Do Your Part: Enjoy taste of homegrown foods

Want to join the grow-your-own food movement but just don’t know where to start? Don’t fear. Spring is here and it’s the perfect time to start growing delicious foods right where you live. Why not begin with foods that are nearly fail-proof? Here are my top five foods to grow at home whether you have a lot of space or just a sunny window. A spot with six hours or more of sunlight is all you need. Tomatoes: Did you know that tomatoes are the most popular piece of produce to grow at home? Besides being delicious, tomatoes are fairly simple to grow. There are thousands of varieties to choose from. You can grow tomatoes in containers, raised garden beds, upside down or in a traditional garden.

Do Your Part: Eco-friendly methods to fight fleas

It’s tough to watch our dog or cat doing battle with fleas. With temperatures rising, flea season is here. The last thing you want to do is to put a toxic flea collar or topical treatment on them. They usually contain pesticides that can rub off on your pet as well as the people taking care of them. Prevention is always the best place to begin. Washing your pet’s bedding in hot, soapy water regularly will help prevent fleas. Regular cleaning with a vacuum is important too. One way to see if your flea prevention techniques are working is to use a flea comb. Not only can you drown the fleas you find in hot, soapy water, you will see how bad your pet’s flea problem really is.

Do Your Part: Try green for spring clean

Spring is here and that means it’s time for a good spring-cleaning. Instead of bringing in chemical cleaners to do the dirty work, opt for a deep, green clean. Using safer cleaning products helps create a healthier home and a healthier family. • White vinegar is a natural disinfectant that works just about everywhere. Mix a 50/50 solution of vinegar and water for a germ-busting disinfectant to clean kitchen counters, bathrooms, and most floors. You can bring this mixture to a boil in the microwave to loosen stuck-on food and grease. And 1 cup of vinegar in a dishwasher will clean its inner workings. One warning: don’t use vinegar on marble or other porous surfaces.

Do Your Part: Save money; try two wheels

Do you wince when you fill up your gas tank? Don’t expect the pain at the pump to end anytime soon. That makes it the right time to grab your bike and use it to get to work and run errands. You’ll save money and help the planet at the same time. To make sure you have everything you need to get started, I’m collaborating with Ellen Stoune, former president of the Rock Hill Bicycle Club in South Carolina, to share tips for commuting by bike.

Do Your Part: Avoid chemicals when cleaning house

When it comes to cleaning our homes, most of us want to make sure of one thing: That we are doing a deep clean and actually disinfecting the rooms and surfaces in our house. Here’s the thing: You don’t need chemical-based cleaners to kill germs. Vinegar is my favorite all natural disinfectant. Put equal parts vinegar and hot water in a spray bottle and get to work. This acidic solution eats away at most germs on everything from counter tops to toilet bowls. The exception is marble and other porous surfaces.

Do Your Part: Call it Swap Shop 2.0

There’s a fascinating new movement afoot – one that could ultimately create a wholesale change in how we, as consumers, get what we want. It’s a business model being called “collaborative consumption” by the academics studying its every move, and it’s also being heralded as a champion of the green movement. Here’s what it the idea boils down to: creating online frameworks that allow people to share, rent and swap what they already own directly with other consumers.

Do Your Part: High-tech solutions can ease green transition

We’ve all heard the excuses about going green — it’s too time consuming, too expensive, and just too difficult. Now, some high-tech tools are making it downright easy to be energy-efficient and save money. Do your part to find out which ones you can incorporate into your family’s life to make a powerful impact. Knowledge is power

Composting takes work but can offer great results

I consider myself a pretty good gardener, a common sense “greenie,” and a person who does her best to reduce, reuse and recycle. But, there’s something I must admit. For years now, I’ve resisted composting. It just seemed a bit too difficult and bit too time-consuming. That’s all changed. And, if I can make it work, you can too. Let me help you Do Your Part to keep food scraps out of the garbage and turn them into something quite valuable. Sitting on my kitchen counter right now is a cute, white composting pail I received from a good friend for Christmas. It has become one of my all-time favorite presents although the thoughtful gift giver doesn’t believe me. Anyway, having this pail right near the kitchen sink makes it downright difficult for me to “justify” scraping plates off in the trash or into the disposal.

Bulk of what we throw away can be recycled or reused

Who really wants to contribute to our growing landfills? There are things we toss away everyday that make up the bulk of our trash and they don’t even belong in our garbage bins. Here are my Top 7 ways to be less trashy so you can get started today. • Recycle that paperboard: Paperboard is the thin cardboard packaging that holds so many of the items we buy – think cereal boxes, packaging for toys, and even tissue boxes. In the city of Spokane, you must pay for a separate mixed paper bin to recycle paperboard at the curb.

A few inexpensive upgrades can help with utility bills

Do you cringe when your utility bills arrive during these cold winter months? You can Do Your Part to save a lot of money when you make a few energy efficient upgrades. Don’t worry; you won’t have to shell out a lot of money to make a big difference. Here are my top seven upgrades for less than $50. DIY door sweep: A door sweep is something that attaches to the bottom of your door to keep the cold air out. For a couple bucks, you can attach a thin piece of rubber to the door base to do the trick. .

Develop a plan to become a more seasoned recycler

Do you ever feel guilty when you put something in the trash because you don’t feel like walking to the recycling bin? Do you toss food scraps in with the other garbage? If you said yes, you’re not alone. Only a third of the trash that could be recycled or composted actually is. No wonder the average household trashcan is always overflowing! That means we can all do a bit better. I want to share some simple techniques to Do Your Part and put your recycling routine on steroids.

Do Your Part: Support local spirits this season

The holiday season means celebrating with family, friends, co-workers, and more. If you’re deciding what adult beverages to serve at the next gathering – say, for your Super Bowl party – or just looking to treat yourself, Do Your Part by seeking out some local varieties of beers and wines. It’s an easy way to support your local economy; it’s a wonderful gift to the planet and it’s now easier than ever to find one. There are more than 500 microbreweries in the U.S. and wine is produced in each one of the 50 states.

Do Your Part: Get crafty with materials headed toward trash

Let me just put one thing out there – I don’t consider myself “crafty.” I am not the person who can take a dresser from the dump and turn it into a shabby chic work of art or take scraps of wood and create a fabulous new picture frame. But this year has been a bit different. I’ve been inspired by smaller projects that I can actually do, and I’ve found it’s a way to Do Your Part to get more use out of things destined for the trash can. We all know that kids delight in the holidays. A friend of mine and her young daughter tackled a project they found online. They collected unwanted ornaments of different shapes and colors and hot glued them to a circle-shaped piece of foam. Attach a ribbon to the top, and in a few hours they had a keepsake wreath with ornaments that were no longer being used.