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ASK ECOGIRL'S PRINT COLUMNS: In Chronological order

Welcome to my Chronological Columns page. I hope that you enjoy reading my writing, and that it inspires and empowers your constructive action for the earth.

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ASK ECOGIRL'S PRINT COLUMNS: CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER
Note: The Ask EcoGirl column has gone on hiatus, as she works on other projects. You can explore her past columns here. Also, all this content is available for reprint. Just email for more information.
 
Water, Water, Everywhere! (March 2014)
One of the unexpected positive aspects of our current drought for me has been seeing so many people invite and welcome the rain. I love watching us remember how essential water is, which we can easily forget in times of plenty. I hope that in this moment we'll expand ourselves to habitually cherish this vital element of our existence. To help you do that, this month's column offers six big picture ways that each of us can joyfully align our lives more with water's ways -- and, through that, protect it for ourselves, our ecosystems, and generations to come.
 
Keeping Your Clothes Out of the Trash (January 2014)
A reader asks what he can do with his unwanted clothes, to keep them out of the landfill. That's important because Americans today throw out 85% of our clothes and textiles, trashing 13 million tons a year. Plus, the production of our clothes causes harm to both our health and environment in many ways. So it's vital that we make full use of each item. In this column, I share my system for doing this by establishing easy everyday habits. Plus I offer key resources and ideas to guide and inspire your actions on this path.
 
Savoring the Gift of Local Organic (November 2013)
As the winter holidays come around again, I encourage you to include the bountiful and nourishing Mother Earth in your seasonal embrace. Among the items on my eco-gratitude list are the gift of local organic foods. I love how they fill my body with health and aliveness! Plus I'm thrilled to support local eco-farmers and ecosystems. Even better, I'm grateful that this simple (and delicious!) act helps us address the serious problems in our current food system that are harming our health, communities, and planet. Learn more about this easy way you can be part of the solution, why it matters so much -- and why it's vital to buy both local and organic!
 
Building Effective Community Teams (October 2013)
Community groups are an essential tool in our work of reclaiming our health, communities, and planet. That's because they help us gather together the "people power" that's needed for bigger changes. And I'm grateful for folks who participate in them. However, they often can have negative dynamics that discourage participation and harm results. Unfortunately, it only takes one person playing by abusive covert Machiavellian rules to spoil the whole project. We can create healthier dynamics, but only if everyone pitches in. I've experienced a wide range of groups, including some amazing teams, and ones that could've been great. From these and other experiences, I've developed what I think are key tips for creating happy interactions, efficient productivity, and meaningful results.
 
The Art of the Yard Sale (August 2013)
If you were thinking about hosting a yard sale this year -- there's still time! Yard sales are a great way to lighten your load, make a little cash, connect with neighbors, and make full use of your discards -- even those items that thrift stores won't take. So how can you hold a successful event? Here are some of the key techniques that I've developed over the years, which can help you save time, attract more visitors, pass along more goodies, earn more money -- and have more fun!
 
The Rebel & The Status Quo (June 2013)
Often people see themselves as primarily either a traditional rule-follower or a rebel change-agent. Then they can harshly judge other people who they see as being in the other camp. How much time have we spent fighting in this dynamic? However, EcoGirl feels that both these urges are within all of us, that both these roles can bring positive contributions -- and that both can be expressed in negative ways too! By stepping back and getting a better understanding of each of these roles -- and how they can give their gifts more constructively -- we can break free of the harmful part of this pattern and greatly improve the level of our outcomes, both personally and collectively. That's because this understanding can help us be more empathetic of others, bridge viewpoints, combine the value of change and tradition, reduce unnecessary conflicts, and create smarter integrated solutions for our future. Read this piece to explore these ideas further!
 
Action Groups: The First Meeting (May 2013)
Protecting our individual well-being must include acting at the community level, because sometimes that's the best, or even only path, to solution. And community action groups can help us amplify our power there. However, people often start action groups without realizing that they require specific skills. Even folks experienced in other aspects of community work can make basic avoidable errors that harm their cause and rebuff interested people. To help community groups get started on a good foundation, EcoGirl offers her list of six key first meeting errors, and their remedies. May they help improve our overall results!
 
Standing Up to Stop Fluoridation (April 2013)
Unfortunately, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors recently took another step towards fluoridating our precious local water supply, even after many community members waited hours on a workday to speak against it. Certainly, the proponent claims for community water fluoridation (CWF) seem appealing, and I think many folks wish that it actually were an easy remedy for community dental health. However, that's not what the science shows, and it's vital that we be willing to look beneath the PR claims. And if we want CWF stopped, we're going to need to build a much larger public outcry against it, and within the next few months. Otherwise, we'll be the ones paying the price -- in our health, environment, and pocketbooks. Learn more of the key facts, with citations, in this column.
 
Skillful Aim For Your Eco-Message (March 2013)
Eco-writing doesn't have to be depressing. In fact, it's more effective when it's not! In this column, EcoGirl lists what she sees as the top harmful eco-communication approaches -- and the key principles we can use instead to encourage cheerful, constructive, and effective eco-action.
 
Should We Fluoridate Our Water? (February 2013)
Over the past few years, a controversy has been brewing in Sonoma County over the proposed addition of fluoride to the water supply for most of our homes, schools, businesses, and restaurants. This issue is coming before the Board of Supervisors again in the next month or two. But isn't fluoride a good thing? The well-meaning proponents do make appealing claims of public dental health benefits, especially for lower-income people. Unfortunately, though, these claims don't match the facts. This isn't the quick fix some want it to be! In this article, EcoGirl outlines what she sees as the core problems with fluoridation, and hopes that this helps Sonoma County reject it and pursue more sensible solutions. (This online version also includes additional supporting data and source links.)
 
Supporting Effective Eco-Action (January 2013)
To protect ourselves and our families, it's vital that we integrate smart eco-behaviors into our everyday lives. However, not every problem can be addressed at an individual level. Thus we also need to regularly support community-level actions. In this column, EcoGirl talks about how we can easily fit that into our busy lives -- and help produce tangible and meaningful results that benefit everyone -- and our shared future. By joining our efforts together, we amplify our power to create a better world!
 
What Do We Do Now About GMOs? (December 2012)
Unfortunately, California Proposition 37 (GMO labeling) didn't win this election -- largely because of well-funded opposition ads full of GMO manufacturer lies. However, Prop. 37 did succeed in getting over six million votes and alerted many more people to the experimental and hazardous GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) that are increasingly being put into our mainstream food supply. It's exciting to see how many people want to keep taking action against these largely-untested "novel" materials that are putting at risk our food, health, farms, communities, and environment. In this key column, EcoGirl suggests the key priority actions we can take to stand up for our well-being -- plus a few suggested actions that she advises we skip. Please share this with your friends and allies!
 
Everyday Green: A Pop Quiz (November 2012)
This month, EcoGirl flips the format and asks her readers the eco-questions. Yup, it's time for a Pop Quiz! Here's your chance to see the bigger picture of how you're doing in some key green arenas -- and maybe identify some upgrade opportunties. You can also compare your scores with your family and friends, for a little competitive fun!
 
Vote Yes on Prop. 37 for Labeling of GMO Foods (October 2012)
As expected, the GMO manufacturers have been spending millions of advertising dollars to try to talk voters out of our right to know if GMOs are in our foods. Don't be distracted by their deceptions! The truth is that California Proposition 37 is not complicated or expensive. It will just offer consumers the same right to choose that's enjoyed by people in nearly 50 countries around the world -- 40% of the world's population. People have worked for years to finally give us this opportunity in the U.S. Let's make sure it succeeds. Read this column for the key information to know -- and share it with your friends!
 
Stand Up for GMO Labeling (September 2012)
Coming soon, Californians will have a unique and precious opportunity to stand up for our right to know when our foods contain experimental and hazardous GMOs (aka Genetically Modified Organisms). These hidden materials are shown to harm our health, environment, farms, and communities. Over 40 other countries have GMO labeling. So why don't we? Plus labeling in California will likely open the door to better protections across the U.S. But standing in the way of labeling is expected to be a serious GMO manufacturer propaganda onslaught. To keep this from working, we all need to educate/innoculate ourselves and others on this essential topic! To learn what you can do, read this handy summary and share it with others -- especially in California. This is a key moment on a vital issue!
 
Eco-Organizing Your Stuff (August 2012)
One of my life's personal pleasures and challenges has been that I tend to collect a variety of cool things. It's not that I bring so many items home (well, except paper information), but that I tend to keep them longer to get full use out of them. It's been helpful for me to understand that this keeper side of me comes from some beautiful qualities in me, including curiosity, passion, caring, respect, remembering -- and my eco-values! And I notice that other eco-allies are often savers too. But how can we manage these valued treasures skillfully so that we're not mistaken for hoarders? Eek! I offer here the key tips I've developed for myself over the years, presented in an empowering and compassionate eco-perspective. (The website has more tips and resources beyond the print column.)
 
Building the Electric Highway (July 2012)
As we consider how to better align our activities with the planet's ways and our true shared best interests, a vital but challenging question is how to avoid the harm caused by our petroleum-powered vehicles. One key solution is electric vehicles (EVs), including plug-in hybrids, which can avoid emissions and access eco-friendly energy as it's increasingly put into the electric grid. EVs are finally becoming more available. Learn more about how Sonoma County and California folks are supporting this vision by investing in public charging stations, and thus helping build our electric highway! (Plus EcoGirl is celebrating her 5th anniversary. Woo hoo!)
 
Greening Your Summer Vacation (June 2012)
Summer's here! And with that comes the delight of summer vacations. So how can you honor the earth during your travels? EcoGirl maps it out for you! In this column, she outlines the key principles to keep in mind overall, then identifies specific tangible ways that you can joyfully implement them in your destination choice, lodging, transportation, and activities. Included are a variety of specific options in Sonoma County and the San Francisco North Bay, as well as general resources such as eco-car rental links.
 
Reclaiming Our Shared Power (April 2012)
We all certainly at times can feel hopeless about all the horrible things happening in the world, and wonder if we really can do anything to make a difference. But EcoGirl believes that we have much more power to impact our world and our future than we realize -- as consumers, workers, citizens, and community members. In this column, she gives four key steps for reclaiming that power, in joyful and constructive ways. How exhilarating!
 
Eco-Persuasion (March 2012)
It's a question surely faced by anyone who cares for the earth: how do we persuade other people to take action on eco-issues without making ourselves crazy? In this column, EcoGirl describes a tool she's adopted from the marketing domain to help tailor her message for her audience. When we can empathetically meet people where they are, we'll more likely be able to engage with them both respectfully and effectively.
 
Let's Play The Reuse Game! (February 2012)
In this column, EcoGirl introduces you to her fun new activity, which she calls "The Reuse Game." You might already know that reuse is a key component of reducing our impact on the earth and steering ourselves away from eco-collapse. But we can also have fun doing it! This article has lots of ideas and tips for being creative with your reuse. You can even turn it into a social activity! The web page also has lots more added ideas and resources. How lovely for all of us to get rewarded for treating the earth's gifts with respect!
 
Standing Up for the EPA (January 2012)
Some presidential candidates have said that they'd abolish the EPA, citing supposed benefits to voters. EcoGirl looks deeper and confirms that the facts just don't support these arguments, making this proposal indeed harmful to our health and shared well-being. This article can help you know the facts for yourself and to inform others, so that we can together stand up for the value of an even stronger EPA.
 
From Gratitude to Action (December 2011)
Too often, children can devour their Christmas gifts so quickly that they don't really experience or appreciate each one, let alone the person who gave it. In much the same way, our culture is voraciously turning the earth's amazing ecosystems into momentary objects that we barely notice and quickly become part of our overwhelming piles of waste. To help remedy this, EcoGirl offers some easy ways that we can redirect our actions towards sanity, and through this more fully enjoy the objects and experiences we have, reduce our harm to the precious earth, and help ensure that there will be happy times tomorrow!
 
Honoring Change and Tradition (November 2011)
Like many folks, EcoGirl has been fascinated and thrilled to see people come out onto the streets to call for major changes in our system's structures. These movements offer us a chance for the scale of change that we need to steer ourselves away from so many crises, including eco-collapse. EcoGirl offers her thoughts about how we all can respond constructively to the opportunity of this powerful moment, wherever we are; what she feels is vital for the movement's success; and how the earth's ways can (and must) be included in the new solutions. She also honors the tradition of our winter celebrations by offering organized and helpful lists full of ways that you can honor the earth in all your holiday activities.
 
Creating Sane Group Dynamics (October 2011)
A key way that we can work on eco-issues is through community groups, which allow us to join together in creating a better world. However, these groups are often so fraught with unproductive conflict and covertly harmful personal dynamics that people can shy away from them. Does it have to be that way? Or can we create productive and enjoyable experiences? In this piece, EcoGirl shares her thoughts about how we can constructively take on these groups' inherent challenges in order to build effective teams, move community issues forward, and support our own personal growth!
 
Speaking Effectively for the Earth (September 2011)
A reader asks how she can talk to her uncle, who's opposed to President Obama's recent increase in car mileage standards, because he thinks they're only harmful and that global warming isn't real. EcoGirl offers her two quick links to email him that address his key points, and offers her general suggestions for being persuasive in talking with people about eco-issues.
 
Reclaiming the Sun as Our Aly (August 2011)
As climate disruption increasingly impacts our everyday lives, and nuclear energy has demonstrated that its risks far outweigh any potential benefits, the question becomes once again: How can we meet our energy needs in eco-friendly ways? A key solution, says EcoGirl, is for us to reclaim the sun as an elemental ally in our quest. Then she offers us a variety of specific creative ways that we can each do just that. After all, the earth receives 20,000 times the energy we use each year, giving us more than enough for our needs. All it takes is for us to put it to use!
 
Is There Hope For The Planet? (July 2011)
It's easy to feel disheartened seeing all the eco-crises in the world. Is there really hope, or is an early death for the earth just inevitable? EcoGirl answers that there is hope -- to the extent that we take positive actions. That's because the future scenarios aren't black-and-white but a range of outcomes that will unfold in better or worse ways depending on the choices that we make. What's even more exciting though is that we also benefit personally by taking constructive action for the earth and proactively embracing the upcoming changes, because it reduces our pain while creating more fun, aliveness, empowerment, and business opportunity. Why would we choose anything else?
 
Love Your Local Activist/Change Agent (May 2011)
No matter how bad you think the world is now, imagine how much worse it would be without the change agents (by whatever label or title) who stepped back from their individual lives to imagine and create something better for their communities and our shared future. And yet those of us working for a better world today can often be considered odd ducks in this culture that's so often focused on immediate personal rewards. In this column, EcoGirl speaks up for her team of innovating pioneers, and suggests that a smart culture welcomes and nurtures its change agents, valuing their essential role in steering wisely and avoiding collective disaster. She hopes that you'll be empowered by this perspective -- and share it with others!
 
Detoxing Our Products & Our World (April 2011)
How can we truly protect ourselves from the multiple toxics permeating our products, bodies, and world, given the overwhelming evidence that they're threatening both our health and the planet? This column describes some key resources to avoid toxics in our personal lives, as well as two approaches being taken to stop toxics at their source, Green Chemistry and California's Green Chemistry Initiative.
 
Detoxing Cookware (March 2011)
A reader asks how to avoid the toxic PFCs used to make nonstick pans and other consumer products. "What are our options?", she wonders. "Those nonstick pans are so useful!" This month's column describes the issues with PFCs, what products they're in, and how to help reduce our exposure by buying healthier cookware and more.
 
Are Smart Phones Green? (February 2011)
Smart phones, MP3 players, and other mobile devices are sprouting up all over the place. But are they good or bad for the earth? To help answer that question, EcoGirl walks through her assessment process for her latest purchase, the iPod Touch. The web version of this article also has additional information, resources, and app recommendations!
 
Connecting With Your Eco-Passion (January 2011)
Most of us love the earth, but amidst life's busyness, how do we make sure we follow through with our good intentions to take care of her this year? EcoGirl offers constructive tips for eco-motivating yourself in ways that bypass "should" and shame, and instead are fun, inspirational, and aligned with your other goals in life. Nurturing the earth can be a fun way to nurture YOU!
 
Nurturing Authentic Holiday Green (December 2010)
With so many companies claiming to be green, how do we choose products that are truly better for the earth? EcoGirl can help! Read her column this month for quick and easy tips for buying and being authentically green, this holiday season and all year 'round.
 
Sipping Earth-Friendly Holiday Cheer (November 2010)
Does it really make a difference if we serve and bring eco-wines to our holiday events? Yes! Here are the reasons they're indeed better for both your health and the planet. And they're tasty too! EcoGirl also gives you tips for sorting through the eco-labels to find ones you like -- and even lets you in on her local favorites!
 
Voting Green (October 2010)
A reader wonders if it's worth the effort to vote, and if EcoGirl has any voting recommendations for the coming election. EcoGirl says that she understands why some people are skeptical about "the system", but that the best remedy isn't to toss away our hard-earned vote (and hand over our power to those who do show up), but to use it instead to help improve the governmental systems that so deeply impacts everyone's lives. After giving her responses to the top four anti-voting arguments, EcoGirl gives links to some groups to ally with in making real change and some eco-voting advice for the upcoming Nov. 2 election.
 
Pet Care Without Toxics (September 2010)
Very often folks will grab mainstream pet care products without realizing that these can contain neurotoxic pesticides that can harm both their pets and their families. How do you avoid the products that are the most toxic and swap to less-toxic approaches instead? This column shows you how!
 
Reaping the Rewards of the Bulk Bin (August 2010)
Hiding in plain sight, the bulk bin aisles at the grocery store offer many benefits to both us and the planet. This includes saving us money, offering us freshness and variety, and greatly reducing the packaging waste that fills our trash cans, landfills, and waterways. EcoGirl offers tips for making it fun and easy to forage in the bulk bins! (Note: The website version of this article offers lots of additional tips and information.)
 
Preventing Future Oil Disasters (The Gulf, part 2 of 2) (July 2010)
EcoGirl describes how we can channel our anger and frustration about the Gulf's devastation into constructive action that creates a better future. She describes ways that we can reduce our individual petroleum use, join with others to encourage wiser governmental policies, and encourage the recognition of the vital truth that our health and financial well-being depends on a healthy earth. (Note: The website version of this article includes lots of great links for more information and action.)
 
Reducing Your Transportation Footprint (The Gulf, part 1 of 2) (June 2010)
A reader is heart-broken watching the Gulf oil gusher's slow-motion destruction of ecosystems, livelihoods, and communities. So she asks how we can help reduce the country's need to drill in such ecologically-sensitive areas. EcoGirl responds with tangible ways that we can all help avoid such disasters in the future by reducing our oil use for transportation. (EcoGirl will also be offering other action ideas in her July column.)
 
Organizing for Eco-Success (May 2010)
A reader wants to know how she can get better at actually following through on her intentions to be more green. EcoGirl empathetically offers three easy steps for turning her eco-ideas into actions and everyday habits. She illustrates with two easy examples: setting up your home recycling setup and fully using your printer paper.
 
Greening Medicine (April 2010)
With illness and health care costs weighing on us all, EcoGirl offers additional specific ways that we can use environmental knowledge to help heal both people and the planet, as both patients and health care providers.
 
Eco-Remedies for Our Health Care Crisis (March 2010)
The health care crisis is such a timely topic right now. Yet, amidst all the passionate debates, the environmental dimension is still largely being ignored, even with the clear evidence linking our high illness rates and exposure to environmental pollutants and everyday toxics. However, by turning and seeing how our actions in the world are harming our own health, we can find true solutions that significantly reduce both illness and costs, lightening the load on us all.
 
Sharing Your Eco-Love (February 2010)
This Valentine's Day, you can express your love for both your sweetie and the planet. Here are some easy ways to eco-upgrade your amorous expressions, thus embodying your values while revealing that oh-so-attractive eco-awareness that so many beloveds admire. This column includes specific tips about buying chocolates, roses, and more, including some lovely local options!
 
Greening Your New Year's Resolutions (January 2010)
The new year offers us a handy time to identify the changes we want to make in our lives. And it's smart to include caring for the earth among our intentions, because the planet's well-being is key to our survival, and because aligning with the earth can help us achieve our personal goals. Here some example ways that you can eco-charge your New Year's resolutions to be healthier, save money, connect with others, and have more fun!
 
Trimming Your Holiday Waste (December 2009)
A reader wonders how their family can reduce the increased trash they generate during the holidays. Yes, given how much our waste increases this time of year, this is a vital and fruitful time for us all to cut back. Luckily, as usual, EcoGirl comes to the rescue with an organized list of tangible ways that you can trim your trash, this holiday season and beyond, thus reducing your eco-impacts, your garbage costs, and even often having more fun! Topics you'll find covered in this column include: entertaining, food, greeting cards, gift wrapping, gift giving, disposal after the festivities, and resources.
 
Detoxing Your Holidays (November 2009)
Unfortunately, our need to protect health and planet from hidden toxics doesn't stop during the holidays. This column offers specific tips for recognizing common seasonal threats and choosing less-toxic options, including when buying toy gifts. Plus there's information about how you can support current much-needed proposals to strengthen toxic regulations, thus better protecting ourselves for many holidays to come.
 
Constructively Channeling Your Inner Eco-Rebel (October 2009)
Are you feeling guilty for not doing more for the earth? EcoGirl makes it easy for you to convert guilt into personal passion with her handy checklist for understanding what's holding you back. As you then use her simple steps for resolving these, in ways that fit with your life and style, you'll find that indeed acting for the earth can be fun and empowering. Really!
 
What Does Green Mean? (September 2009)
With so many companies claiming to be green nowadays, a reader asks, how do I know which actions really make a difference for the planet? EcoGirl comes to the rescue with key tips for looking beneath green claims to recognize the more committed and effective approaches.
 
Being a Smart Organic Consumer (August 2009)
Despite areas of controversy, organics are still a convenient way for consumers to choose food and agriculture that's healthier for themselves, their families, and the planet. But how do you know if something is really organic? And how do you sort out the organic issues and labels? Find out more in this column!
 
Greening Our Techno-Tools (July 2009)
Our daily lives can be enhanced in many ways by today's technological devices, including computers, cell phones, cameras, TVs, stereos, game players, and more. However, it's vital for us to be smart about our use of these techno-toys, because they do have eco-impacts throughout their lifecycles. Here are specific ways that you can buy, enjoy, and discard these products while minimizing their harm -- and even saving money as well!
 
Eco-Lighting for a Brighter Future (June 2009)
What's the story with these curly-cue "eco" lightbulbs? Yes, they lower energy use, helping save money and the planet. But they also contain mercury and can't go in the trash. Are we just trading one eco-problem for another? EcoGirl tackles one of the practical questions of eco-implementation with her usual combination of information and inspiration! (Hint: The answer is that, on balance, these CFL bulbs offer significant value for reducing energy use and thus climate disruption, but need to be handled with care. And there are emerging options to support. Read the article to find out more!)
 
Remaking the EPA (May 2009)
For many years, it has seemed that the EPA has put corporate interests over its mission to protect the environment. Will President Obama's EPA really be any better?, asks a skeptical reader. EcoGirl says that real improvement is possible, if we help. And this is a key action for us to take. Because, by encouraging current efforts to restore the EPA's vital functions, we'll help improve our prospects on a wide variety of environmental and health issues.
 
Pursuing Your Green Job Dreams (February 2009)
Green jobs are increasingly being discussed in books, magazines, even President Obama's economic stimulus plan. And, yes, by bringing together economic, ecological, and employment objectives, we can address multiple problems at once -- if we pay attention to the details. So, how can a job-seeker skillfully align with these trends, while avoiding the pitfalls?
 
Happy Traveling on Public Transit (January 2009)
We've heard that using public transit can be great for both the planet's well-being and our convenience. But how do we get started? This column makes it easy, offering both resources and encouraging stories. By including public transit among our transportation modes, we can reduce our car pollution's contribution to climate change, reduce our shared wealth transfer to oil-rich nations, turn stressful travel time into useful time, and connect more with our community.
 
Taming Our Tiny Ant Friends (December 2008)
Ant invasions can tempt one to use poisons. But studies show that toxics are no more effective than household cleansers! Instead of putting your family at risk, follow this three-tiered approach for addressing your visiting ant armies.
 
"Dear Patricia -- I just read your article, "Taming Our Tiny Ant Friends." I think it's just great that you write these articles, and always with such conscious respect for the earth, and in this case, all those amazing little ants."
Patrice Ryan
 
Greening Your Holidays, On a Budget (November 2008)
Yes, you can create greener winter holidays while treading lightly on both the earth and your budget. In fact, one of the silver linings of this economic downturn is that it can help us reduce the consumerism rates that are more than the planet can bear. Here's some ideas for how to do that while still having loving fun with friends and family!
 
Preventing Plastic's Pollution (October 2008)
Plastic offers us durability, but makes long-lasting trash, both in our landfills and ecosystems. Even remote spots are becoming cluttered with this debris, creating for instance the "plastic island" in the northern Pacific. Scientists estimate that each year at least a million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals and sea turtles die from eating or getting entangled in plastic. Here's how to help protect the planet by reducing, reusing, and recycling your plastic.
 
Great Sources for Environmental Info (September 2008)
Our information sources can either lead us wisely or astray. Too often mainstream coverage of environmental issues focuses more on celebrities, drama, and consumerism than on the real information we need to understand and support truly effective solutions for the planet. In this column, Ask EcoGirl highlights her favorite sources for keeping informed and taking wise action.
 
Discarding Your Stuff - Ecologically (August 2008)
Do you have items that you want to discard -- without adding to our overstuffed landfills? There are many ways to do this -- plus make a little money and delight in contributing to others! In this article, EcoGirl walks you through the key ways you can sell and donate your goods, summarizing the benefits and drawbacks of each, highlighting creative options, and providing handy information about websites, local outlets, and more!
 
Greening Our Money (July 2008)
Our current economic woes make it increasingly urgent that we shift to more earth-honoring ways, because our economy depends on functioning ecosystems. But how can we take care of the earth when everyone's budgets are so challenged? EcoGirl explores tangible ways that we all can nurture our economy's transition to wiser ways.
 
Can We Afford to Care About the Environment? (June 2008)
I'm anxious about the economy, writes a reader, with rising gas and food prices, medical costs, even food riots. How can we worry about the environment when real survival issues are at stake? EcoGirl responds by describing how our survival depends first on the earth, both physically and economically. Therefore, our current economic disruptions actually offer us an opportunity to redesign our economic systems to better align with nature and thus better ensure the survival of us all!
 
Affording Organic (May 2008)
With today's economic uncertainties, a reader wonders, how can I still include organic in my budget? EcoGirl offers tips for saving money, and a reminder that our true survival depends on our health and the well-being of the earth.
 
Creating Your Personal Earth Action Plan (April 2008)
The current blossoming of green stories and claims in mainstream media can be both encouraging and overwhelming. Where on earth should we start in taking action? EcoGirl hears that a lot. So, instead of just giving you another list of tips to add to your already-stuffed do-list, this column maps out four simple steps for you to follow to uncover your personal approach to this topic. This Plan will help you both prioritize and feel excited about the impact you can have!
 
Creating a Healthy Garden from the Start (March 2008)
Here in one place are the easy steps to creating a good foundation for your garden so that toxic pesticides and fertilizers just aren't necessary. Your harvest will be healthier food and flowers, a nurturing place to hang out, and a healthier world for all.
  
Can I Afford to Go Solar? (January 2008)
Most people think solar is just for those with up-front capital. But what if you could take out a loan with payments equal to your current utility bill? Then you'd be converting an expense into an investment! (We love to do that!) And reduce your vulnerability to energy price increases. Oh, and help the planet by supporting our transition to earth-friendly energy sources. Here are the key notions to consider, and the steps and resources for you to determine if this approach is right for your situation.
 
"Solar financing is a complex topic and you nailed it."
Chris Cone, Writer, Coordinator Green Energy Loan Program
 
Holiday Donations: Your Magic Wand for Planetary Change! (December 2007)
You can empower change in the world through your holiday donations (and perhaps even get a tax deduction!). Here are inspiring ideas for finding your own passionate issues, and suggestions for wonderful local groups you can support.
 
Greening Your Gifting (November 2007)
Want to truly green your gifting? Here in one place are key principles for thinking green to include Mother Earth in your holiday giving. Includes specific ideas you won't find other places -- plus great local resources!
 
Seeing Through Green Eyes: Remodeling Green on the Cheap (October 2007)
Yes, being cheap can be good for the planet -- when you see through green eyes! Here are great ways to remodel green and save money, including local resources that most folks don't even know about!
 
Keeping It Clean: Less-Toxic Cleansers for a Healthier Home (September 2007)
Cleaning green doesn't have to be more expensive. In fact, you can clean your house less-toxically -- and save money too! Did you know that you can do most of your cleaning with four common and inexpensive ingredients? This also makes space in your supply cabinet, reduces packaging waste, and keeps your home a truly healthy clean smell.
 
Batteries Need Recycling Too (July 2007)
No, household batteries don't belong in the trash! Here's the straight scoop on where to properly dispose of your spent batteries in Sonoma County and beyond.


MY ASK ECOGIRL BOOKLETS

I'm delighted to offer you my Ask EcoGirl booklets, "Healthier Housecleaning" and "Detoxing Your Life." These unique, handy, and cheerful resources bring together key information you need to create a healthier home for your family and the planet. They make a great gift, and quantity discounts and wholesale prices are available. Plus all sales support my eco-healing community work. Tell a friend! Find out more at www.askecogirl.info/booklets.html.


FOR MORE OF MY PRINT ARTICLES

* My Next STEP newsletter, which has lots of information on toxics and alternatives, plus government and community-level actions. "It's your handy guide to less-toxic living." Look up topics of interest in the The Next STEP index of articles.
 
* North Bay Bohemian. I also wrote several articles on these topics for the Bohemian's Green Zone column. 

* I also cover these topics on my Facebook page and blog.


STAYING CONNECTED

 
Ask EcoGirl is written by Patricia Dines, Author of The Organic Guides, and Editor and Lead Writer for The Next STEP newsletter, which gently educates readers about toxics and alternatives. For more information about my work for the planet, see www.patriciadines.info
 

Sign up for my low-volume writing announcement list (1-3 emails a month), to get emails when my new print articles are published, at www.patriciadines.info/EList.

 
Connect via Facebook, to show your support for my work, and get inspiring and useful eco-info in your Newsfeed www.facebook.com/AskEcoGirl.

Explore and sign up for my blog at www.patriciadines.info/LTEblog.

 
I hope that you find this information useful. I welcome your throughts and feedback! (You can email me at info [at] askecogirl.info.)
 
Editors: Please contact me if you'd like to publish any of these articles in your periodical, or discuss an article that I might write for you.

This entire website is (c) Patricia Dines, 1998-2016. All rights reserved.
Page last updated 4/29/2016
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