Being earth-friendly is easier than you think (and it doesn’t have to mean living in a yurt wearing Birkenstocks). For Ami Voeltz, it’s about making simple changes—and taking advantage of local resources. As the founder of Do It Green! Minnesota, a comprehensive guide and website (www.doitgreen.org) focused on living sustainably, Voeltz is a local eco-expert. Here, her tips for going green.
1. Concentrate on making long-term habit changes, and focus on one eco-friendly thing at a time.
2. While you are spring cleaning, don’t throw away reusable goods. Have a rummage sale, or list items at www.twincitiesfreemarket.org for other residents who may want them.
3. Visit www.greenguardian.com to find a household hazardous-waste drop-off nearest you. Safely rid your home of toxic materials—any product labeled Caution, Warning, Danger or Poison—by taking them to one of these facilities.
4. Support locally owned, independent businesses and farms to keep more money in our community. When you spend $1 at a local store, an average of 68 cents is re-circulated into the local economy. In contrast, when you spend $1 at a national chain store, only about 43 cents stays at home.
5. Shop natural food co-op stores or other places that offer organic products and partner with local growers and suppliers. There are more than 40 co-ops throughout Minnesota—check out www.coopdirectory.org.
6. When entertaining, go low-waste. Use real dishware and napkins instead of disposable paper plates or plastic cups. It makes it fancier, too!
7. Produce in the United States travels, on average, 1,300 to 2,000 miles from farm to consumer. Locally grown produce is fresher, and with less distance from farm to plate there are fewer carbon emissions associated with delivery. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs are one way to connect to Minnesota’s food supply. Visit www.landstewardshipproject.org for a CSA directory.
8. Seed-saving is the greenest way to garden. Collect seeds from this year’s vegetables and flowers to plant in next year’s garden. An easy alternative is to purchase organic seeds or plants from a local grower. Find a directory of Minnesota farms and markets at www.minnesotagrown.com.
9. The average American household produces 11.7 tons of CO2 each year from driving cars. Instead of using transportation that requires a motor, take the bus, bike, or walk. I use the Twin Cities Bike Map (www.littletransport.com) to help me plan my routes.