Go Green at Work

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These are just a few things you can do at work that add up and make a difference:

  • Do you really need to print that document? If so print double-sided when possible
  • Use natural light when available – window shades up, lights off
  • Abandon elevators – burn calories not energy by taking the stairs instead
  • No more disposables – bring your own water bottle, plates, cups, and silverware for your meals
  • Practice using less paper towels and napkins
  • Power down your computer before leaving for the day
  • Know where your recycling options are
    –  paper
    –  plastic
    –  cans
    –  glass
    –  batteries
  • Join a carpool

Learn about more ways to “go green” at work→ gundersenenvision.org.

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8 ways to clean greener

Looking for ways to “go green”? If you haven’t already, consider switching to cleaning products that are safe alternatives and not harmful to the environment. Listed below are “Do it yourself”(DIY)mixtures you can make with products you probably have on hand.

  1. Cleaning counter tops: Cut a lemon in half, dip in baking soda and use on counter top. Wipe with a wet sponge. Do not use on stainless steel or marble surfaces.
  2. Dirt or rust stains: Combine salt and lemon juice together. Apply to area.
  3. Clogs: Pour ½ cup of baking soda down clogged drain followed by ½ cup white vinegar. After about 15 minutes, flush with four cups of boiling water. For plastic pipes, use hot tap water.
  4. Windows or glass surfaces: Combine ¼ cup white vinegar, 1 tablespoon cornstarch, and 2 cups of warm water in a spray bottle. Shake well before use.
  5. Water stains: Combine baking soda and water to make a paste. Use a toothbrush to scrub the paste into the water stain. For tough stains, pour vinegar on stained area and then continue scrubbing.
  6. Freshening garbage disposals: Cut a lemon into slices and run through the disposal.
  7. Soap scum: Heat one cup of white vinegar in a microwave and combine in a spray bottle with one cup of dish detergent. Spray on soap scum and wait a minute before wiping off.
  8. Grease stains: Sprinkle cornstarch on problem spots. Let stand 20-30 minutes before vacuuming.

These are only a few easy-to-create and safe-to-use mixtures. Click here to learn more about the different type of mixtures.

Happy cleaning!

http://www.gundersenenvision.org/

Try these eco-friendly holiday celebration tips

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“Go green” this holiday season and have fun doing it. Here are some tips to help you be environmentally friendly during the holidays.

  • Reduce your carbon footprint by celebrating at home instead of using fuel to travel. If you have to travel, consider driving instead of flying, carpooling with other family members, and using the most fuel-efficient vehicle.
  • Plan ahead by picking out local or organic fruits and vegetables and freezing or canning them for use at your holiday meal. Buy your meat or dairy products locally if possible. This not only supports  local business, but decreases your carbon footprint because your food is not being transported from a distant location. So next time you drive by a local butcher shop, take a look inside!
  • At the dinner table, avoid serving with disposable items like Styrofoam or paper. When it comes to napkins, use cloth. Not only will it look nicer, it will decrease what you put in the landfill.
  • Make your own decorations from materials around the house. Not only will this save you money but the decorations will be unique and more meaningful.
  • Think before you throw away containers or packaging that your holiday items came in. Look for ways to reuse them or at minimum, recycle them.
  • Invite neighbors or friends over for the holidays. Not only would this reduce carbon footprints but it will bring you closer to those you care about.

Consider these ideas for other celebrations too. Next time you start planning for a celebration or event, think green.

Learn more at www.gundersenenvision.org.

Eco-friendly holiday celebrations

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Planning for the holidays doesn’t have to be stressful. You can “go green” and have fun doing it! Here are some tips to help you be environmentally friendly during the holidays.

  • Celebrate at home instead of traveling. This will reduce your carbon footprint. If you have to travel, consider driving instead of flying, carpooling with other family members, and using the most fuel-efficient vehicle.
  • If your holidays are during the winter months, plan ahead by picking out local or organic fruits and vegetables and freezing or canning them for use at your holiday meal. Buy your meat or dairy products locally if possible. This not only supports local business, but it also decreases your carbon footprint because your food is not being transported from a distant location. So next time you drive by a local butcher shop, take a look inside!
  • At the dinner table, avoid serving with disposable serving items like Styrofoam or paper. When it comes to napkins, use cloth. Not only will it look nicer, it will decrease what you put in the landfill.
  • Make your own decorations from materials around the house. Not only will this save you money but the decorations will be unique and more meaningful.
  • Think before you throw away containers or packaging that your holiday items came in. Can you reuse them for something or possibly even recycle them? This also helps decrease what you send to the landfill.
  • Invite neighbors or friends over for the holidays. Not only would this reduce carbon footprints but it will bring you closer to those you care about.

Consider these ideas for other celebrations too. Next time you start planning for a celebration or event, think green.

Learn more at www.gundersenenvision.org.

Tips for living green everyday

  1. Put a stop to unsolicited mail. Sign up to opt out of pre-screened credit card offers. While you’re at it, go ahead and make sure you’re on the “do not call” list, just to make your life more peaceful.
  2. Reuse scrap paper. Print on two sides, or let your kids color on the back side of used paper.
  3. Conduct a quick energy audit of your home.
  4. Subscribe to good eco-friendly blogs (examples: Keeper of the Home, Kitchen Stewardship, Live Renewed, Simple Homemade).
  5. Before buying anything new, first check your local Craigslist or Freecycle.
  6. Support local restaurants that use food from less than 100 miles away and learn more about the benefits of eating locally.
  7. Fix leaky faucets.
  8. Make your own household cleaners.
  9. Line dry your laundry.
  10. Watch The Story of Stuff with your kids and talk about the impact your household trash has on our landfills.
  11. Learn with your kids about another country or culture, expanding your knowledge to other sides of the world.
  12. Lower the temperature on your hot water heater.
  13. Unplug unused chargers and appliances.
  14. Repurpose something. It’s fun.
  15. Collect rainwater to water your houseplants and garden.

Calculate your carbon footprint

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Carbon emissions calculators can help you discover your family’s carbon footprint and opportunities to reduce it and save money.  The first step in any energy management program or journey is to understand where you are starting from so you can see where your opportunities for improvement are.

Here are two carbon/greenhouse gas emissions calculators to help you get started.

http://www.nature.org/greenliving/carboncalculator/index.htm

http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/ghgemissions/ind-calculator.html

The federal government’s Energy Star program is a great tool for improving your energy efficiency and saving money at home.  This website can be very helpful with tips and resources to assist you. http://www.energystar.gov/

For other helpful resources on environmental stewardship visit Gundersen Envision’s website.

Tips on Food Waste Reduction

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Food is the number 1 material sent to the landfill. Because of this, education on food waste reduction is essential. What can you as an individual do in order to reduce food? Here are some tips on food waste reduction:

  • Learn to properly cut fruits and vegetables to reduce scrap waste.
  • Plan meals for the week and write a grocery list of things you will need (this will help to avoid buying food on impulse).
  • Check expiration dates and use food before it expires.
  • Check your fridge temperature to ensure your food will stay fresh. The preferred temperature is between 35 and 38 degrees F (1.7 to 3.3 degrees C).
  • Clean your fridge regularly.
  • Use fruits that are going soft by making them into smoothies or pies, likewise with vegetables (make soup).
  • Use leftovers for a different meal the next day—don’t throw them away.
  • Rotate food in your cupboard (new to the back and old to the front) to properly ensure that everything is used in a timely manner.
  • Buy individual/loose fruits and vegetables instead of packaged to ensure that you are not buying more than you will eat.
  • Properly freeze food like bread to use it at a later date.
  • Start a compost pile in your backyard made up of food scraps, or try starting a neighborhood composting pile that is accessible to everyone.
  • Set goals for yourself and your family/friends—challenge yourself to reduce food waste.
  • Donate food that is still good but you know you will not use.

Not only can individuals make a difference, large organizations like hospitals can also reduce food waste. This could include conducting a food waste audit or finding the most cost efficient route for transporting and collecting food.

According to the EPA, 13% of greenhouse gases in the US are associated with growing, manufacturing, and transporting food. Even fat, oil, and grease can be turned into raw material such as soap and bio diesel. Make the landfill a last resort as pictured in the diagram above.

At Gundersen Health System, we aimed to reduce the amount of food sent in the waste stream in 2010. By measuring the amount of leftover food, we decreased food waste by 550 pounds in 7 weeks, which averaged about a 50% improvement! We also donate leftover food to the Salvation Army.

If you would like to reduce food waste, follow these tips and check out our video on properly trimming fruits and vegetables featuring Gundersen Health System Chef, Thomas Sacksteder, Certified Executive Chef (C.E.C), to learn how!