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February 20, 2009

Last week I attended a sustainability symposium focused on furthering the dialog about living "green." It's a ubiquitous term these days that has become as much a marketing tool as an honest-to-goodness way of being, and many people are disillusioned, distrustful of the label being slapped on just about anything, or intimidated into inaction by the sheer enormity of the global imperative to change our often wasteful ways.

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Moderator (and Ace's "Helpful Hardware Man") Lou Manfredini spoke with panel members Eric Corey Freed, principal of organicARCHITECT, Matt Golden, co-founder and president of Sustainable Spaces, Zem Joaquin, CEO of ecofabulous.com, and Sophie Uliano, author of Gorgeously Green, about the best ways to approach going green.

Here are some tips from the pros that you can do right now, today, to get yourself started. When they talked about these I was struck by how simple they were, and also surprised (and a little embarrassed) at the fact that to spite how basic they are, I have done few of them in my own apartment. If knowledge is power, than acting on that knowledge is, well, super-power. Take this info and harness your power.

For the home:

-Rather than feel overwhelmed by the need to adopt all of the latest green technology to trick out your space into a zero-impact zone, look into an assessment of its current state and potential for retrofitting that will maximize what you’re already working with.

-Fill an empty two-liter soda bottle and stick it in your toilet tank to save a half gallon of water per flush.

-Install an ultra low-flow showerhead, and limit your time getting clean to 5 minutes or less.

-Did you know that in an average home, 40% of all electricity is used to power appliances that are actually turned off? Pull the plug when you’re not using your gadgets and save a bundle.

For your own health:

-Statistics like “60% of what we put on our skin is absorbed into our bloodstream” scare the bejeezus out of me, quite frankly (and make contact with the BART seats on my morning commute a bit cringeworthy...). In lieu of retreating into some sort of hyper-hygienic bubble, however, it’s well worth becoming informed about the products you choose to put on your body. Opt for paraben/pthalate /fragrance-free lotions and creams.

-Carry a reusable water bottle without Bisphenol A. It will save you money, and save a few of the 60 million plastic water bottles sent daily to the landfill.

There are a million more ways to go green on a small and large scale, and as such it’s a great idea to sit down and take a look at the choices you’re making, and ways to work within your means. In the frequently grey area of green living, education, conversation, and conscious choices are key.


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