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Publix GreenWise Magazine
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Publix GreenWise Market Magazine - August 2008

What on Earth?
Load your shopping cart with all sorts of planet-friendly products that go beyond organic foods.

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Living Green

What’s that snuggled up next to the all natural chicken and the organic carrots in your grocery cart? Cleaning aids, paper products, lightbulbs?

“Going green goes way beyond your food choices,” says Trish Riley, author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Green Living (Alpha Books, 2007). “You can save energy, reduce your exposure to synthetic chemicals, and prevent contamination of our air, water and soil by choosing smart products for your home in addition to the organic foods you purchase.”

Make your nonfood selections as earth-friendly as your food choices with this guide to products that put less strain on the environment.

Clean it up
You don’t have to sacrifice a sparkling shower or streak-free windows to avoid the chemicals often found in conventional cleaning products. Eco-friendly cleaning products can help keep your home both clean and green with their nontoxic, biodegradable ingredients. Such products don’t pose problems for septic or gray-water reuse systems. What’s more, they don’t contain ingredients that produce harmful fumes or residues, such as synthetic petrochemicals, chlorine bleach, ammonia or phosphates, which can pollute the environment through wastewater.

Jason Marshall, lab director at the Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI) at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, tests green cleaning products for safety and effectiveness, and safety ratings can be found at cleanersolutions.org. Marshall notes that some products are more effective than others. “We’ve tested many products here in our lab. If it doesn’t work, people aren’t going to use it just because it’s green,” Marshall points out realistically. “We’ve shown that these products can work as well as or better than products currently out there. Even if it takes a minute or two longer to work, if it’s going to be a lot better for our health and safety, isn’t that worth the switch?”

TURI also offers a 10-point checklist for selecting green cleaning products (search for “10 tips” at turi.org). One suggestion is to look for products that list all the ingredients on the label and make sure you’re familiar with each. Ingredients that come from plants are more likely—but not guaranteed—to be safe and nontoxic.

And if you need one more reason to love green cleaning aids, consider this: Many advertise that they’re never tested on animals.

Soak it up 
Choosing recycled paper products over traditional paper napkins, paper towels, bath or facial tissue may seem like an easy decision, but there is one catch: Some recycled products may not be quite as thick or soft as the conventional kind and may not come in the colorful patterns you’re accustomed to. Publix GreenWise Market recycled paper products, on the other hand, were recently tested and found to be as soft as conventional paper products and softer than many national brands of recycled products.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), every ton of paper that’s recycled saves 17 mature trees, 7,000 gallons of water, 3 cubic yards of landfill space, two barrels of oil and 4,100 kilowatt-hours of electricity. You might even save money, since recycled paper products are often competitively priced.

Publix GreenWise Market recycled paper products, made from 100-percent-recycled materials, have no added inks, dyes or fragrances. Plus, they’re created without chlorine bleaching, which makes them better for both your skin and the waterways that often end up contaminated with dioxin from the runoff of industrial bleaching processes.

Light it up
Switching from incandescent lightbulbs to compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs) is another bright idea. CFLs with the Energy Star emblem on the package meet energy efficiency guidelines set by the EPA and Department of Energy. Although Energy Star-qualified CFLs may cost a bit more to purchase, you’ll save $30 or more in electricity costs over each bulb’s lifetime. These CFLs use about 75 percent less electricity than traditional incandescent bulbs and last up to 10 times longer.

Eventually you might want to change all or most of your lights to CFLs. But for starters they provide the most savings in fixtures that are used at least 15 minutes at a time or several hours per day. To choose a CFL that will put out the right amount of light, pick one that’s labeled as equivalent to the incandescent bulb you’re replacing.

Since CFLs contain a tiny amount of mercury, ideally they should be recycled. If your state allows putting a used CFL in the trash, seal it first in two plastic bags. For more details see epa.gov/bulbrecycling.

Pack it up
One final way to help the environment while grocery shopping at your neighborhood Publix is by carrying your purchases home in reusable polypropylene bags. These sturdy bags are made from nontoxic, partly recycled materials. They’re water repellent, machine washable and constructed to be used over and over, replacing countless paper or plastic bags.

Like charity, environmental sensitivity begins at home. Small, everyday purchasing decisions can have a big impact over time. Some decisions reduce energy consumption; others help keep the environment clean. “It might be virtually impossible to eliminate all things in your life that are environmental hazards,” says Trish Riley. “But by reducing our exposure to at least some of the synthetic chemicals in our lives, we’re reducing the chance that they can hurt us and our environment. The power to save the planet is truly in our hands.” And in our shopping carts.

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