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Green Living News
November 2009
In This Issue
Go Green...$ave Green
Myth Busters
Green Country, EUROPE
Duty Calls!
Take Action!
Support TeachingGreen
Join Our Mailing List!
Quick Links

Welcome to the November 2009 edition of TeachingGreen's Green Living News, a monthly newsletter for folks interested in creating a more sustainable society through individual actions and beyond.

Inside this issue of Green Living News:
  • Myth Busters: Should you let your car idle to warm it up on a cold day?
...and more!

Go_Green_Save_GreenGo Green...$ave Green

Celebrate an Earth-Friendly Holiday

Halloween has come and gone, and we all know what that means: the holiday season is now upon us! Unfortunately, in our modern society, the myriad delights of the season - good times spent with friends and family, Christmas carols, delicious treats, and so on - come with a price.

Wouldn't this time of year be so much more enjoyable without the stress and hassle, not to mention the time and money spent on well-intentioned, yet often unwanted or unneeded gifts? According to the National Retail Federation, nearly of annual retail sales occur during the holiday season. That's a lot of hard-earned cash, loads of unwanted sweaters, and of course, a whole heap of packaging and wrapping paper. Christmas cookiesAccording to the Union of Concerned Scientists, Americans generate 25% more trash between Thanksgiving and New Year's than during the entire rest of the year.

If you're tired of the holiday rat-race, talk to your family and friends about celebrating an Earth-Friendly Holiday. Everyone involved will save money and time, avoid the throngs of holiday shoppers, and still experience the true spirit of season - one of giving and receiving, but in a much more relaxed and thoughtful manner.

Ideas for an Earth-Friendly Holiday include:
  • Instead of exchanging gifts with everyone in the family, adopt a new tradition such as picking Secret Santas or enjoying a white-elephant gift exchange
  • Give waste-free gifts that are sure to please, such as...
    • Cooking classes
    • A massage
    • A visit from a housecleaning service
    • A home-cooked meal
    • Movie, concert, theater or sporting event tickets
Give it a spin, and see what everyone thinks. Chances are, any reservations will be put to rest when those credit card statements begin arriving in the New Year!

Myth_bustersMyth Busters

To Warm-Up or Not to Warm-Up?

Around this time of year, especially if you live in a cold climate, you might be inclined to let your car idle for a while before driving it on a cold day.

As it turns out, extended warm-ups do more harm than good: not only is fuel burned less efficiently, but idling at low temperatures is actually hard on engine components. It's better to drive easy and watch your acceleration Idling caruntil your engine warms up.

Thoughts on the topic from Click and Clack of NPR's Car Talk:

"Unless it's below freezing, cars don't need to be warmed up at all. Driving them gently is the best warm up there is. If it's 25 degrees out, you might want to let it warm up for 30 seconds. If it's 10 degrees out, warm it up for a minute. If it's -10 degrees out, move somewhere warmer!"

Remember, fuel economy while idling is 0 mpg. The fuel you burn takes you nowhere. So save fuel, money and time, reduce emissions and protect your engine by avoiding all unnecessary idling, including the daily warm-up.

Green_country_EUGreen Country, EUROPE
Swedes Put Carbon Label on Food to Combat Climate Change

In order to inform the public of the carbon dioxide emissions associated with the production of various foods, grocery stores and restaurants across Sweden recently began using new dietary guidelines that give as much weight to climate as they do health.  Hamburger

The new carbon labeling program is the result of a 2005 study by Sweden's national environmental agency that found that 25 percent of national per capita greenhouse gas emissions is attributable to food.

To arrive at values for these carbon labels, scientists analyze the carbon emissions over the entire life cycle of the product. This is no easy task, as such an analysis must take into account all aspects of food production, including the type of soil used to grow the food, emissions generated by fertilizer, fuel used for harvesting and transport, and packaging.

Following these new guidelines, which include limiting red meat consumption, may not always be easy. However, concerned consumers should be encouraged by the prediction that Sweden could cut its food production-related emissions by an estimated 20 to 50 percent if the guidelines are taken seriously by Swedish shoppers.

For the full story, read the recent article in the New York Times.

Duty_callsDuty Calls!

Community Fruit Harvest

Do you have one or more fruit trees on your property that produces more fruit than you could ever possibly eat or give away to friends and neighbors? Instead of letting it go to waste, why not harvest it and donate it to a local food pantry?

Because food production takes a significant toll on the environment, such an act of kindness not only helps to feed the hungry, it benefits the environment as well. According to the Union of Concerned Citizens, as a percentage of total consumer impact, food production is responsible for roughly:
  •  73% of water use
  •  45% of land use
  •  38% of common water pollution
  •  22% of toxic water pollution
  •  17% common air pollution
  •  12% of greenhouse gas emissions
In other words, wasted Food Forward fruit harvestfood equals wasted and unnecessarily polluted natural resources.

If donating the harvest from your fruit tree(s) sounds like a good idea, but you don't have the time, energy or bucket capacity required to do it yourself, there just might be a group in your area that will pick and transport your fruit for you. In Los Angeles, for example, there is a wonderful all-volunteer grassroots group called Food Forward that, when invited, organizes volunteers to pick excess fruit and then donate it all to local food pantries. You provide the tree(s); they do everything else.

To find groups like Food Forward in your area, contact some local food banks and ask if they receive food donations from such a group. Feeding America features a handy Food Bank Locator tool at www.feedingamerica.org.

For more information about Food Forward, visit www.foodforward.org.

Take_actionTake Action!

TckTckTck...Sign on to Support a Climate Deal Today!

In less than one month's time, on December 7, 2009, global leaders will meet in Copenhagen to forge a global climate deal. Tell these leaders that you want a climate deal that is ambitious, fair and binding.

Add your name to the list ofNorth pole was here nearly 3 million Global Citizens for Climate Action who have already signed on at www.tcktcktck.org. Join them in sending a message to world leaders that we are ready for serious action on climate change!

The clock is ticking! Join the movement, and invite your friends and family to do the same at www.tcktcktck.org.

Support_TGSupport TeachingGreen

Three ways you can help:

1. Bring us your people

Actually, we'll come to you.Compact Fluorescent bulb

In addition to public workshops, we also give presentations for groups, schools, and businesses. Are you a member of a community group, alumni group, Mom's group, church group, or any other kind of group? Have a business you're trying to green and want to get your employees on board?

If so, we would love to come and give a presentation or two for your group! We give presentations on specific issues, such as transportation, food and household toxics, and we also offer a general overview of sustainable living.

Visit www.teachinggreen.org to learn more and to request a presentation.

2. Volunteer or intern with TeachingGreen

We are seeking interns and volunteers to help further our mission of helping people reduce the environmental impact of their personal and professional lives. We need help with curriculum development, fund raising and outreach. Your involvement will help us to grow the organization so that we can reach more people with the message of sustainability.

For more information, contact Kathleen Jacecko at 310-372-7484 or kjacecko@teachinggreen.org.

3. Donate and become a member of TeachingGreen

We are a 501(c)3 organization, so all donations are fully tax-deductible. Your support helps us spread the message of sustainability via workshops, presentations, our wesite and this newsletter. We currently operate only in Los Angeles, but even if you don't live here, remember that when we act locally, we help the global environment as well as the local environment.

To make a tax-deductible donation to TeachingGreen, click here.

We hope you find this newsletter helpful and informative, and should you have any suggestions, questions or general comments, we'd love to hear from you.

Kathleen Jacecko


Kathleen Jacecko