Your family and the environment

Three Key Principles For Effective Eco-Action

1) Our actions do make a difference in how the future world will be. Whatever we do does matter.

2) Start where you are. Assess your status in each of the areas of your life, what you're doing well and would like to do better, then move yourself progressively in a green direction. You don't have to do it all at once; just keep moving in a positive direction. (The areas I've defined: Home, transportation, food, shopping, work/school, community.)

3) Do what's inspiring, fun, and easy for you. Eco-actions don't have to be difficult. They can actually be a chance for you to express your unique style and gifts, be healthier, and enhance your life. It feels good to be part of the solution.

As starting steps to get more environmental, Patricia would suggest:

(1) (HOME) Choose Less-Toxic Cleansers. They're better for your family's health, and the planet - and often save money. Many mainstream cleansers are toxic, and there are lots of great effective options. Look at the natural food store. NEXT STEP: Or make your own. You can clean almost everything in your house with very simple formulas made from just 3 ingredients - vinegar, baking soda, and liquid soap.

(2) (FOOD & BEVERAGES) Buy organic and local food & beverages as much as possible. People in the field can debate the specifics, but the overview message is still true - organic reduces toxics in our world, food, and bodies - and studies have shown that it's in general more nutritious. And local reduces the energy it takes to bring food to you, while ensuring that we keep our endangered local farmers. NEXT STEP: To kick it up a notch - have fun and show kids where their food comes from by going to your local farmers' market or even farms.

(3) (TRANSPORTATION) Add Some Public Transit To Your Daily Schedule. You don't have to switch over everything. Just try one thing, say a fun trip to the coast. Learn what your local options are, for instance for getting to work and getting your kids to school, so you can use them when you need to. NEXT LEVEL: One day a week, ride your bike to work or to drop the kids off at school. It'll save you a trip to the gym and make it fun.

(4) (SHOPPING) Bring A Cloth Bag To Every Store. Not just the grocery store. It's easy and saves all the resources wasted in making one-time use bags. To remember to take it with you, hang it on your inside front door handle. Or have more than one! BONUS: It's even better if the bag is from organic cotton or recycled plastic.

(5) (COMMUNITY-LEVEL) Support Community Groups On Issues You Care About. Offer them money, time, etc. Some eco-issues need to be addressed at the community level. We're not alone in caring for the earth. Joining together increases our power and effectiveness. It feels good to make a difference.

Patricia has some additional tips on how to "green" your life as well:

- (Shopping) BUY BULK, NOT SINGLE-SERVING. Especially re: bottled water, and all foods. Notably reduces your packaging eco-costs and waste.

- (HOME) GET A PROGRAMMABLE THERMOSTAT. Then set it to automatically lower the heat when you're at work or at night, cutting back your energy costs.

- (HOME) GET ECO-BULBS. Those curley-cue bulbs (called CFLs) can significantly lower your energy usage. Start by putting them in your high-use lamps. Just be aware that they have mercury inside and need special disposal.

- (HOME) LABEL YOUR RECYCLING CONTAINERS WITH WHAT'S ALLOWED. Label your containers "recycling" and "landfill" and note what can go in the recycling. You get this information from your garbage company. Perhaps add a third container for toxics, such as batteries, that take special handling. Then kids, husbands, and guests will more easily put the right thing in the right place.

- (HOME) GET A HOME ENERGY AUDIT. This will show you where your house is leaking energy, and the best places to invest your money to lower your energy bill and reduce our impact on the planet. Because our houses use a lot of energy, they're a great place for us to trim back. Then after you've increased your home efficiency, consider adding solar panels or solar water.

- (WORK) CONSIDER HOW YOU CAN GREEN YOUR WORKPLACE. Do they recycle? Use organic food? Contribute to community groups?

The Napa Fresh Aire Festival
Patricia will be participating in The Napa Fresh Aire Festival on August 28-30 (to be held throughout the town of Napa) is a new kind of festival-offering an inspiring weekend of engaging programs and outdoor activities focused on personal well-being and eco-conscious living. Attendees will receive fresh perspectives, invigorating experiences, and timely and valuable information. Napa Fresh Aire Festival:, or call 888.285.5893

Patricia's talks at the Festival are each really a mini-workshop - connecting to where people are at in their greening journey, hearing their goals, then providing inspiring and useful information, and answering specific questions.

· Friday, Aug. 28: "Greening Our Everyday Lives"

· Saturday, Aug. 29: "Taking Effective Action for the Earth"

· Sunday, Aug. 30: "Joyfully Returning Home to the Earth"

Most of us want to align our daily lives more with the earth's wise ways, to nurture our individual, as well as our shared, health and well-being. But where do we start? What makes the most difference? How can we work both at the individual and the community levels?

She'll provide tools and support people in greening the arenas of their lives - food and wine, home and garden, shopping and transportation - and in connecting with others and community groups. There are many great resources and allies out there!


· Three-Day Fresh Aire Pass: $110 - includes all programs, Friday showing of FRESH the movie-in association with the Napa Valley Film Society and sponsored by Whole Foods, Saturday Juber concert and Sunday keynote Dan Buettner

· Friday-Only Pass: $99 - includes the Friday program with FRESH the movie

· Saturday-Only Pass: $99 - includes the Saturday program with Juber concert

· Saturday Evening Laurence Juber In Concert: $30 (included in Three-Day or Saturday-Only Passes)

· Special activity tickets also are available for special lunches, wine panel discussion and tasting, hike and bike excursions, kayaking and more. For information: .

· Also, visit festival partners Pharmaca® and Whole Foods to learn about special rates on festival passes!

About Patricia Dines, Writer and Public Speaker, "Ask EcoGirl"
Brief Bio: Patricia has been a writer and public speaker for 25 years - specializing in the environment for 15 years. She currently writes the syndicated "Ask EcoGirl" column, along with articles for various magazines and newspapers, which are also available through

· She is also the author of The Organic Guides (innovative regional guidebooks) and The Next STEP newsletter (which gently educates people about toxics and alternatives).

· She has spoken at events attended by many thousands of people, serving a wide variety of audiences, including the Harmony Festival, North Bay EcoFest, the Cancer Resource Center, and the Peace & Justice Center.

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