Love jam? Make it at home!

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Do you purchase jam from the store? If you do, perhaps it’s time to consider making your own. Many people avoid making homemade jam because it is time consuming and sometimes expensive. But there are many benefits to making homemade jam and there are ways to save money while doing it.

When you make homemade jam, you are in control of what goes into it. For example, you can add as much or as little sugar as you want. You also know where the fruit came from and you are avoiding the unnecessary additives that are in many store bought jams. It is a great way to use up fruits from your own backyard if you grow your own fruit trees.

Making jam at home usually provides you with a large amount of leftover jam that can be stored. How could you save money? Jars are expensive, so instead of purchasing them brand new, borrow them from friends or family, or buy them used. It also helps if you are making jam from fruit that you grow or fruit that you received for free. It also better to make jam in the summer when most fruits are in season because they are cheaper fresh!

Are there any other benefits to making jam? Yes, and it involves the environment. Reusing jars will not only save money, but it will also help the environment because jars require essential resources to be created, and it takes energy and fuel in order to transport jars a far distance. If you use local food you are also saving on energy and fossil fuels because local fruits do not need to be transported as far. So if you haven’t considered making your own jam, try it! It’s time consuming, but if you work with your friends and family it could become a new hobby. You will also help the environment. If you are interested in learning basic tips on how to make jam, check out this link: http://www.foodsafety.wisc.edu/assets/preservation/B2909_Jams_2008.pdf

Learn  more about sustainable practices at http://www.gundersenenvision.org/waste-management/sustainable-foods.

 

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Is it time to clean off your book shelves?

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Do you have books sitting around your house that you will never use again? Instead of throwing them away, donate them! Why? By donating books you are eliminating waste that could end up in the landfill. Someone else out there could also benefit from the books you own. So where can you donate books? One place you can donate books is the public library, however they prefer not to take text books, readers digest condensed books, and National Geographic magazines because there is not a high demand for them. If the library doesn’t need your books, they give them to groups that sell books for donations. So either way your book donation will go to a good cause.

The Goodwill and the Salvation Army accept book donations. You can also donate books to soldiers. Find out how through an online search.

There are many different ways to donate books. So do your research and find a cause you care about and donate your books. Not only will you benefit someone else, but you will also be benefiting the environment.

Stop by your local thrift shop today!

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Have you ever shopped at a thrift shop? If you haven’t, or if it has been awhile, give it a try—you might be surprised at what you find. Shopping at a thrift shop is like shopping at a garage sale. You can find all different types of items for a cheap price. Thrift shops or second-hand stores also make an effort to sell only lightly handled/lightly used items that will still last a long time. Thrift shops sell items ranging from clothes, to cookware, to furniture.

So why should you go out of your way to shop at a thrift shop? First, you can save money. Most thrift shops also support the local community—places like Goodwill and Salvation Army not only sell used items but they also support citizens who are in need of assistance. Shopping at thrift shops helps support the local community. Lastly, shopping at thrift shops supports the idea of “buying local.” Most items found in malls or large department stores were shipped from a far distance, which requires vast amounts of fossil fuels and energy. If more people shop at thrift shops, large companies may get the message that people care about the environment and they want to support the local community.

At Gundersen Health System we believe that purchasing local is very important, along with reusing/recycling items. For example, we reuse blue wrap from the OR that is used to wrap surgical instruments. Instead of throwing it away, we partnered with the Coulee Region RSVP (retired senior volunteer program) whose volunteers sew the blue wrap into items such as aprons and bags that are handed out to patients and visitors. By reusing blue wrap, we save money by avoiding purchasing items such as tote bags for our patients. The most significant savings have taken place in the Breast Center where we have saved approximately $4,000/year. We also purchase local foods for our cafeteria such as dairy products and meat. Any individual can make a positive impact, no matter how small. So when the time comes to buy furniture or cooking supplies for your college student, save some money while supporting the local community by going to your local thrift shop!

Why are honeybees important?

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Did you know that honeybees pollinate over 90 different crops or one third of all crops in the United States? They are essential to today’s agriculture business and without them it would suffer greatly. Unfortunately, the honeybee population has decreased significantly. By 2007, there was an estimated loss of 2.7 million bee colonies in the United States, which was projected to have an $8 billion to $12 billion effect on the agriculture business.  The severity of this loss can be compared to the number of bees that pollinate almond trees. It takes around 1.5 million bee colonies to pollinate 750,000 acres of almond trees, which in turn produce around 2 billion pounds of almonds. So what is causing this loss?

There are many different theories including sickness among bees, or the fact that they are being overworked. However when bee colonies are infected by a common disease, the loss is only around 15%, which is significantly lower than what is being witnessed today. Now bee colonies are disappearing by 30% to 90%. Another theory known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) occurs when bees disappear by the masses (thousands) with no rhyme or reason as to how they disappeared. Scientists believe this mysterious disappearance could be caused by the insecticides and pesticides used on cropland.

So what is being done to prevent this? In March 2013, European countries passed a European Commission Proposal to ban pesticides that could be harmful to bees. The United States has not passed any proposals yet to ban harmful pesticides. So what can you do as an individual? You can grow a garden that is honeybee friendly (filled with flowers and not treated with chemicals). If you know someone who owns honeybees you can inform them of the issue and ask that they not treat their crops with chemicals. You could also purchase sustainably produced food that is not treated with chemicals. Any individual can make a difference no matter how small!

Learn more about sustainability at gundersenenvision.org.

 

Consider a green daycation

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Planning a family vacation for next summer, or maybe just a weekend getaway for you? If you are, keep in mind it doesn’t have to be overseas or out of state. It could be a vacation in the state you live in, or even in the nearby towns. It doesn’t need to be long either. The term “daycation” is becoming more popular. It’s when you take a vacation for a whole day, like to a state park or a nearby destination and return that same evening. Vacationing nearby not only saves you money, but it could be healthy for you as well. How? Consider planning a vacation where you and your family bike to nearby towns for a few days. Biking to your destination would not only benefit you physically, but it would also decrease your carbon footprint. This could also give you a good chance to bond with your family, or simply enjoy the outdoors.

In La Crosse, we have the River State Trail. It is a path that gives bikers access to nearby communitites and beautiful trails along the Mississippi River. Many families can utilize this trail to travel to different cities for the weekend that are close by. Biking isn’t the only “environmentall safe” way to travel. You could also take a canoe trip, take the train or even go on a hiking trip and hike from city to city. The possibilities are endless, so take a chance and decrease your carbon footprint by exploring a new alternative way to travel.

Learn more about reducing your carbon footprint. Visit www.gundersenenvision.org.

 

Proper medication disposal

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What do you do with unused, expired, or leftover medications? Do you throw them in the trash or flush them down the drain? If you do either of those two things, you should stop because medications can be harmful to the environment. If you throw medications in the trash they can end up in the landfill and if you flush medications down the drain they can end up in a water treatment plant or go straight to the nearby water system (river). If medications end up in the river they can lead to surface water contamination and toxicity to fish and other wildlife. In Wisconsin, it is estimated that around 120 million pounds of pharmaceuticals are sold each year, and about one third go unused. This leads to an accumulation of drugs in the household which not only poses a risk for the environment, but also poses a risk for humans. This includes ingestion, overdose and drug abuse. What can you do to prevent this?  

At Gundersen Health System we help to inform the community of when and where medication drop offs are taking place. A medication drop off is a place where people can bring their expired, unused or leftover prescription drugs, and they will be properly disposed of. Medication drop offs are one of the best ways for people to properly dispose of drugs in their household. Medication drop offs can take place at pharmacies, local sponsoring businesses, hospitals, or hazardous waste sites. Other ways to reduce pharmaceutical waste include asking your doctor to only give you as much medication as you will need to avoid leftovers, and using medications before they expire. 

Before throwing your unused medication away, think about the environment and the people close to you and remember that the smartest choice is to take the medication to a location where it will be properly disposed of.