Living Green 365

Living Green 365: Ideas for living greener every day

Living Green 365 is a free monthly e-newsletter for Minnesota residents who are committed to making choices and taking action to lead healthier and more sustainable lives, 365 days a year.

Catch up on what you've missed

We're excited to share our new format. Beginning with this edition, the Living Green 365 newsletter's featured story will live on MPCA's Living Green webpages. The e-mailed version will still include timely content and community links.

Published: October 30, 2017

What do you hope the water is like in 2025? Minnesotans can share their ideas that would spur collaboration and action to improve Minnesota’s water quality 25 percent by 2025.

Published: July 26, 2017

As many of you embark on long-awaited summer vacations, remember to do so sustainably. Travel can have a huge carbon cost — one yearly vacation can cancel out a year’s worth of sustainable lifestyle choices. A recent survey showed that 67% of Americans think eco-friendly travel is important. Take your vacation without the guilt with these tips for greening your summer adventures!

Published: June 28, 2017

Summer is an ideal time to work on home improvements that will help your home last longer, keep you healthy, and increase energy efficiency. Take a walk around your home and assess what needs doing!

Published: May 24, 2017

"Soft water" has some notable benefits, and can extend the life and improve the efficiency of water heaters, dishwashers, and other appliances. If you own a water softener or are thinking of getting one, read on for some strategies that can help lessen their environmental impacts.

Published: April 27, 2017

Like any myth, the green variety may sprout from kernels of truth, but they are often based on false or outdated information. Let's set the record straight.

Published: March 02, 2017

Do your hopes for 2017 include keeping our air and water clean, and not using up finite natural resources? Those are big goals. Evidence shows that breaking them down into manageable steps that you can tackle throughout the year increases the chances of taking action and making real change. "Reusing a bit more" is a place to start.

Published: January 30, 2017

The presents have been opened and the festivities are over. What’s to be done with all the stuff and waste that’s left? Are there eco-friendly ways to keep it out of the trash? You bet! Even if your holidays weren't the "greenest" on the block, there's still time afterwards to engage the 5 R’s: reduce, reuse, re-purpose, recycle, and rethink.

Published: December 21, 2016

Say you’ve invested in a new, greener car—an electric, a hybrid, or a particularly fuel-efficient version. Are there eco-friendly considerations if that car is in a fender bender? Here are some environmental tips for what to look for in an auto body shop if your car needs repairs.

Published: October 31, 2016

Chemicals in our personal products can be unhealthy not only for us but for wildlife and aquatic environments, too. Here are some general guidelines to help you choose and use products.

Published: September 29, 2016

Whether it's moving to college, an apartment, a house or a condo, most of us change our place of residence at least a handful of times during our lives. Moving can be exciting, stressful, fun, challenging, and rewarding. It can also be expensive and time-consuming and can generate waste, pollution and greenhouse gases. Here are some ideas to help make your next move eco-friendly.

Published: August 16, 2016

Summer is the prime time to sit back, relax, and rekindle that relationship with the neighbors. It’s the season of parties and barbecues. No matter what kind of get-together you’re planning, there are a few simple ways to make it more sustainable! From composting to mosquito control, hosting a sustainable event can actually be cheaper and easier than the wasteful alternative.

Published: June 17, 2016

Turf grass lawns require lots of maintenance—watering, the burning of fossil fuels for mowing and other upkeep, pesticides, and fertilizers—which impact water quality and can contribute to climate change. Preserve species and biodiversity in your own yard by landscaping and gardening with native plants.

Published: May 26, 2016

We are all responsible for protecting Minnesota’s land, water, and air. In celebration of Earth Day (April 22) and Gov. Dayton's Water Action Week (April 18-22), we invite you to find a way to give to your community through volunteerism and service. Pick a DIY project, one-time event, or a supported program that creates community among volunteers. Start small and add effort where you find reward and joy. (Bonus: Volunteering is linked to happiness, health, and career benefits!)

Published: April 18, 2016

What inspires teens to think and act green? The teen years are about developing a separate and unique identity from parents. How can you connect with teenagers in ways that recognize their need for autonomy while guiding them towards becoming environmentally responsible and mindful adults.

Published: April 06, 2016

Tinkering. Being handy. Repair manuals. The town repairman. Valuing well-made belongings. These classic values and skills suffered in rise of the “cheap and disposable” culture. People forgot how to tinker, and even lost the urge to fix. But it’s making a big comeback! Read on to find out the joys and importance of fixing things.

Published: February 24, 2016

Some of the most effective green strategies are also the most commonsense and least expensive ones to implement. Here's a top-five list of actions you can take this year, chosen because of their practicality and proven benefits.

Published: January 28, 2016

Frigid temperatures, icy roads, and blowing snow can be hard on drivers’ nerves—and their vehicles—in the winter. When the mercury plunges, fuel efficiency can fall 20% or more and air pollution can increase. Follow these tips to increase your car’s wintertime fuel economy and reduce polluting emissions.

Published: December 22, 2015

Of all the stuff we throw away in Minnesota almost 18 percent is food. For a family of four, that waste can be measured to the tune of $30 each week, and that's pretty serious green. Make changes in how you shop, prepare, and store food. The holidays are a great time to start.

Published: November 24, 2015

Happy Halloween! It's the season for poking fun at the dark side of life. But death and burial are serious subjects, so we're talking about them from an environmental perspective, with some thoughts on funerals, burials, cremation, and some green alternatives.

Published: October 29, 2015

Your sink or toilet is connected to a wastewater treatment plant or underground septic system optimized to handle human waste. But they have much harder time removing some "conveniences of modern life" that don't go away just because they're flushed.

Published: September 29, 2015

Citizen science is public involvement in inquiry and discovery of new scientific knowledge, typically in data collection, analysis, or reporting. People of all ages can give some time and receive the benefits of taking care of the Earth and gaining an appreciation of the world around. Did you know that people who volunteer are generally happier and healthier, too?

Published: August 05, 2015

Basements are often tapped as unused livable space. But they're often unhealthy spaces where moisture and contaminants collect and mold thrives. Going in with a plan— and with your eyes wide open—will increase your chances of a successful project.

Published: June 23, 2015

Living green isn’t always easy and living green with a growing family can be even more of a challenge. Hearing about other parents’ experiences can offer great insight on how to be a green parent in the modern world.

Published: April 29, 2015

More intense and frequent storms, extreme heat and humidity, flooding, changes in rainfall patterns, more power outages—these trends are consistent with what we can expect with climate change and are already happening in Minnesota. They have a big impact on our communities, neighborhoods, families, and homes. What can you do to prepare your home for these changes?

Published: March 04, 2015

A community solar garden is a centrally located solar system that provides power to participating subscribers. Participants can buy as little as 200 watts or up to 120% of their annual electricity usage. Subscribers get credited on their electricity bill for the electricity created by their share.

Published: January 20, 2015

Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, added food waste, shopping bags, packaging, wrapping paper, bows and ribbons add up to an additional 1 million tons a week to the nation's garbage piles. What can you do this holiday season to create memories, less stress, and less waste?

Published: December 17, 2014

Deer hunting season (firearms) launches the second weekend of November in Minnesota — practically a holiday for many residents! As hunters stock up for the season, it's a chance to give lead-free ammunition a try and minimize risks to people and wildlife.

Published: November 03, 2014

Biking is a wonderful addition to any day, bringing health and well-being to every rider. Here are four stories of Minnesotans who "live life on a bike" that will inspire you and give you new ideas for making a bike a bigger part of your life.

Published: September 25, 2014

Being outdoors is great for kids. Research shows kids who spend regular time playing outdoors are more likely to be great students and learners, able to get along well with others, creative and curious, and generally healthier and happier. And it's relaxing and fun. Here are the basics, as well as some great resources to get you started.

Published: August 12, 2014

"Collaborative consumption" (the "sharing economy") refers to an economic model based on people and companies sharing, trading, reusing, and renting goods and services, rather than owning something outright. Learn how it's reinventing not just what we consume but how we consume.

Published: July 15, 2014

It looks like summer is finally here. It’s time to enjoy the beautiful weather, spruce up the garden, eat delicious fruits and vegetables, and… get that compost pile started! Reduce what you throw away as "waste" and reclaim organics as "resources."

Published: June 25, 2014

About one-third of our food supply relies on pollination by honey bees, native bees, butterflies, beetles, and flies. Protecting pollinators helps ensure that we'll have foods we love to grow—and eat! Start with habitat, and learn how even a few square feet of native flowering plants in a yard, park, roadside ditch, or condo balcony can make a difference. So let’s get planting!

Published: May 09, 2014

Emerald ash borer is a small, iridescent green beetle that is a serious threat to Minnesota’s estimated 900 million ash trees. Learn how to spot the problem, treat it and prevent its spread in Minnesota.

Published: April 14, 2014

Clean and safe drinking water is an important part of a healthy environment and protecting public health. Minnesotans enjoy some of the best drinking water in the country, and it's important to protect and conserve it. Safe drinking water is no accident.

Published: March 19, 2014

The vehicle you drive and how you use it may have a greater effect on the environment than any other choice you make as a consumer. While cars and trucks are much cleaner than they were in the past, they still are one of the biggest contributors to urban air pollution.

Published: February 13, 2014

Access to clean, healthy air is something all Minnesotans deserve, and we rank pretty high compared to other states. Learn about what you can do to keep that quality high, as well as actions to take on those days when it's not so great. Your behaviors affect everyone.

Published: January 09, 2014

Peak fall color has passed for most of the state and leaves are slowly falling. Wherever they fall, they decompose and restock the soil with nutrients and organic matter. Don't "leaf" it up to someone else to solve this problem! Here's what to do with your autumn leaves so that they nourish the soil and not unwanted algae.

Published: November 01, 2013

Though we don't all go back to school in the fall, we can all use the changing seasons to inspire positive change in our daily routine. In this 'back to school issue,' I've included links to our resources on no-waste lunches and school recycling programs—but both are applicable to an office setting too. Try something new and enjoy the fall!

Published: October 07, 2013

You know the three Rs: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. But how often do you really think about that middle word, “reuse”? Reuse is a simple concept that can add up to a BIG impact on the economy and the environment.

Published: August 15, 2013

Household electricity use—and cost—can peak on hot summer days. Efficient choices for cooling your house can save a lot of money, while minimizing air pollution, mercury emissions, and greenhouse gas emissions. A win-win for you and the environment! Try out these no-cost summer tips for saving energy.

Published: July 11, 2013

Household water use swells in the summer due to irrigation of lawns and gardens, but as much as 50% of the water we use outdoors is wasted due to inefficient watering. Quell the swell! Tips to conserve Minnesota's limited freshwater resources by using efficient watering methods this summer.

Published: May 30, 2013

In Minnesota, trees cover a quarter of the land in our cities and towns. However, that percentage is declining due to stress from tree pests (such as emerald ash borer), drought, heat, and storms. Plant a tree this spring and care for trees around you. Contribute to the health of the "community forest" and bring beauty to your yard.

Published: April 17, 2013

A different kind of March madness - a toilet that runs, or the drip-drip-drip of a household faucet. National Fix a Leak Week is a great time to take a stand against water waste: Start by checking your home for leaks, then follow some simple instructions to fix them. You can trim your water consumption and your water bill by over 10 percent.

Published: March 18, 2013

Dogs and cats need special care to protect their health and the environment. Your furry family members can participate in Living Green 365, too, if you follow these tips.

Published: February 20, 2013

Owners of property along a shoreline have a unique opportunity to protect and improve the quality of Minnesota’s lakes and rivers. Tips for doing two important things in 2013: Check your septic system and create a natural shoreline.

Published: January 17, 2013

You probably look in your refrigerator many times each day, but do you ever look at your refrigerator? Appliances account for about 15% of your household's energy costs, with refrigeration near the top of the list. Keep your food cool without busting your energy budget.

Published: December 20, 2012

Having a hard time thinking of low-waste, sustainable gifts for everyone on your list? Draw inspiration from our informal survey of "green gifters."

Published: November 19, 2012

1.5 billion beverage bottles are purchased each year in Minnesota. 15,000 will be purchased during the 5 minutes it takes to read this newsletter! With these kinds of numbers, you can understand why our everyday choices about beverage bottles add up. Learn what you can do to eliminate plastic bottles from Minnesota trash.

Published: October 16, 2012

Minnesotans burn wood at home for heating, cooking, and recreation. Even though wood is "natural," wood smoke contains an abundance of chemicals and is unhealthy, even at low levels. Protect everyone's health by following these recommendations for clean and efficient wood burning.

Published: September 20, 2012

Weddings are a beautiful tradition. They also have a huge impact on your wallet and the environment. Why not consider a more eco-friendly event, one that basks in sustainability with a touch of elegance? Whether you are planning a wedding for yourself or consulting as a friend or family member, celebrate with these simple tips.

Published: August 16, 2012

Do you find yourself carrying cans and bottles home to recycle them? Perhaps you think to yourself, “Can you believe they don’t have recycling here?!” With a little creativity and effort, we all can play a role in increasing recycling away from home.

Published: July 24, 2012

Minnesotans have many options for moving around, here and now. By driving alone less often, we reduce the number of vehicles on the road and save money. It also improves our social life and the quality of the air we breathe. If you are an impatient commuter ready to get out of the car, here are some ideas to really mobilize around.

Published: June 19, 2012

Cars and trucks are responsible for about half the air pollution in Minnesota. Decisions we all make, including what to drive and how often to drive, are important parts of reducing air pollution from vehicles: Learn what you can do!

Published: April 20, 2012

Here are fun, easy ways to reduce the amount of new clothing you buy, without compromising fashion or the need to refresh your wardrobe once in a while. Be creative with your clothing.

Published: March 27, 2012
These days there are so many light bulb choices that it can be confusing to choose the best bulb for your fixture. Here's a bit of information about bulb choices, plus some great resources to help you navigate this rapidly evolving aisle of the hardware store!
Published: February 15, 2012

Nature is fuel for the soul. Resolve to get outside more—it's one resolution that doesn't have to cost a penny and has countless benefits for you and your kids.

Published: January 18, 2012

Plastic accounts for about 12% of the trash that Americans throw away each year, and plastic recycling rates are far below rates for paper, glass, and aluminum. New opportunities to recycle plastic are coming, as well as these ideas for reducing and reusing.

Published: November 15, 2011

Reuse is for everyone! Smart, savvy shoppers find they can often find what they want and need second hand, and be thrifty and green at the same time.

Published: October 20, 2011

A no waste lunch is simply a lunch that produces no trash, using reusable containers in place of disposable packaging. Research shows that you'll generally save money and benefit from controlling your portion size.

Published: September 22, 2011

Mercury is a poisonous metal, and exposure to higher doses of mercury can harm your health. The best way to protect you and your family from mercury exposure is to remove mercury-containing products and devices from your home.

Published: August 25, 2011

During the summer, I spend more time looking at the exterior of my home. This month, I saw a loose shingle, some bubbling paint, and unwanted plants along my foundation. Which of these should I care about? Which should be my priority? Read on for tips on how to keep your home's exterior in good condition.

Published: June 20, 2011

The leaves are emerging and grass is green. Lawn and garden care is now at the top of everyone's to-do list. How can we take care of them in ways that protect and enhance the health of our water and air? Here are simple things you can do that make a difference.

Published: May 26, 2011

1.5 million Minnesotans volunteer and donate 171.1 million volunteer hours annually. Volunteerism can range from a few hours planting trees for your community, to a leadership role in creating neighborhood green space. Consider green volunteering opportunities as you dole out your time!

Published: April 15, 2011