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Originally published Thursday, October 13, 2011 at 7:14 PM

Changing the green conversation

Forget guilt, let's find environmental solutions.

McClatchy Newspapers

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Who wants to be lectured about the environment or made to feel guilty about the damage we do to it every day? Instead, what we want is to feel empowered, but the problems can be so overwhelming that we just don't know where to start or whether we can make a difference.

My mission with Do Your Part is to remove those roadblocks and clear the way to a more sustainable way of living. That means doing away with the political fighting and the guilt associated with 'going green' and coming up with practical solutions to our planet's problems.

The green movement shouldn't be only about greenhouse gases or rising sea levels, and it's also not a political statement. Even though we're talking about a global problem, never doubt that the impact filters right down to your hometown, your neighborhood, all the way inside the walls of our homes. What it comes down to is making smarter choices with decisions we all make each and every day. I'm not going to tell anyone to run out and buy a new hybrid or to install a rooftop full of solar panels tomorrow, although they are both green solutions. Instead, there are hundreds of other practical ways to efficiently run your house and conserve resources. There are also cost-effective ways to Do Your Part and keep potentially dangerous chemicals out of your home, your food, and the products you use.

My best piece of advice is to start small and then move on to bigger projects. It could be increasing the amount you recycle at home each week, bringing reusable bags to stores, giving up the bottled water habit, or switching to effective plant-based cleaners. Then, start making other healthy choices. Those could be opting for organic foods, switching to electric or hand-powered lawn tools, or finding safer personal care products. And then there are the choices that will take a little more time and commitment. Ones such as composting or changing the way you commute to work. No one can do every green thing but when you Do Your Part small step by small step, it begins to really add up.

Think about it. You begin to take steps in the right direction, others follow suit, and little by little the impact on the environment can be quite tremendous. No one can change the world all by themselves. What we can change is our small piece of it. If you're struggling to get started, the checklist from my book "Do Your Part: A practical guide to everyday green living" can help. We've made it easy to go through your home and identify places room-by-room where you can make an instant impact. You can learn more at DoYourPart.com/Columns. You will also find other helpful resources to help you jump-start your green routine.

Cleaning up our own environment will lead us to a cleaner world. We can't be sidetracked by politics of the moment or focusing on things that are truly out of our control.

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TerriBennettisaveteranTVmeteorologist,author,andfounderofDoYourPart,everydaygreenlivingideasthatarebetterforyouandtheplanet.

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