Introduction for "Do Your Part: A practical guide to everyday green living"

A New Shade of Green

My fascination with our planet began when I was eight years old. It started the summer my family moved to rural Brandenburg, Kentucky, outside of Louisville. My father was in the military so I’d already lived in four different states, mostly on army bases. Brandenburg was different from anything I’d ever known.

Our white farmhouse included an expansive front porch with a wooden swing, where I was quickly swept up in the awe of late afternoon thunderstorms. My days were consumed with exploring the surrounding farmland and tending to our large garden, the pigs, rabbits, and horses. Then there were the dozens of pet cats and our trusted guard dog Leo. I even kept a wild catfish alive for years in a trough beside the barn.

It was in Brandenburg that I was introduced to the raw power of nature. As we unpacked the boxes in our new home, people in the town were still piecing their homes back together. Three months earlier, Brandenburg was nearly wiped out by an F5 tornado, one of 148 tornadoes that ravaged 13 states and killed hundreds during the “Super Outbreak” that began on April 3, 1974. Nearly every home or business in Brandenburg was damaged or destroyed and 31 citizens lost their lives.

I have many memories of waiting out tornado warnings with my family in the dark root cellar where the potatoes dug from our garden were stored. I also vividly remember the afternoon that lightning struck the metal fence in our yard. I was holding onto it while yelling for my father to come in from an approaching storm. I wasn’t hurt, but the jolt is one that I’ll never forget. Even our house was at the mercy of these electrical storms. An electrical outlet on the outside wall of the farmhouse was never grounded properly and would become charged for hours following a direct hit. I still laugh thinking about the stick we kept near the back door so we could open the metal screen door without getting shocked.

My time in Brandenburg would teach me how dependent we are upon nature. In the next phase of my life I would complete the circle and learn how nature is also dependent upon us.

Relevant science

I took my passion to Metropolitan State College of Denver, in Colorado, where I earned a Bachelor of Science in Meteorology. I intended to spend my career researching the inner workings of thunderstorms, until an internship in the weather office at KUSA-TV led to a seventeen-year career in front of the camera.

Ultimately, I became Chief Meteorologist for a station in Charlotte, NC. In addition to providing nightly weather forecasts, I created opportunities to educate my viewers about natural gardening techniques and the importance of protecting our fresh water supply. However, I was frustrated that there wasn’t a natural platform as a television meteorologist to talk about the damage that we were doing to the planet and the many things we could do to lessen our impact. So when the opportunity presented itself, I decided to do something about it.

Changing the conversation

Today my mission is focused on one thing: redefining the green movement in this country.

Going green is not just about greenhouse gases or rising sea levels. It’s not a political movement or a political statement. Going green is about making smarter choices with decisions you make everyday that will create a lifestyle that the planet can actually support. One that’s better for the planet and better for you! My passion, as a scientist and a mom, is to change the current conversation taking place about “going green” so we can remove the roadblocks to creating a healthier lifestyle and ultimately a healthier planet.

Living green is not about doing just one green thing. Living green is about exploring the hundreds of ways we can create a sustainable way of living. I want to empower you with all the tools you need to go green because it’s simply the right thing to do.

Takeaways for your family

In the chapters that follow, you’ll be given enough information to decide for yourself what’s most important for your family and your lifestyle. You’ll be able to decide where to spend your eco-friendly dollars and where you can save by going green. You’ll learn how making smarter choices will save resources while saving you money.
In the Appendix, you’ll find a round-up of resources including my Top 5 Lists, green-cleaning recipes, a room by room checklist to help you get started and solutions for healthier or cost-effective alternatives to things we do every day. You will also find many more resources at, like how-to videos and the latest news and information that will help you Do Your Part every day.

My goal with this book is to empower you with the knowledge to make smarter choices for you and your family — choices that can be convenient and cost- effective. We’ll begin by taking a cold, hard look at the facts so we can get guilt and politics off the table. Then we’ll look at the simple changes you can make to Do Your Part to create healthier children, healthier homes, and a healthier planet.

Click here to purchase the book.

Book Resource Links by Page Number

Links by Page Number

Page 33 – Battle Bugs Without Toxic Pesticides

Page 34 – Green Cleaning Recipes

Page 54 – Local Green Guide (Recycling)

Page 57 – Aveda’s Recycling Programs

Page 63 – Stumped For A Recycling Solution?

Page 67 – Terri’s Top 5 Misleading Labels

Page 73 – National Parks

Page 80 – How To Buy Organic Foods On A Budget

Page 102 – Room-by-Room Checklist

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Room-by-room Checklist

Click here to download an interactive .PDF version of our room-by-room checklist




Convert to green cleaners
Limit foods packaged in metal cans
Migrate to efficient lighting
Reduce junk mail
Add a recycling bin
Go meatless at least one night a week
Choose pesticide-free produce
Choose non-toxic household bug killers
Compost food scraps
Preserve in-season produce
Never pour grease down the drain
Ban bottled water from your home
Pack waste-free lunches for school or work
Avoid using plastic containers in microwave
Make a good milk choice

Living Room

Convert to green cleaners
Kill phantom power by using a power strip with on/off button
Migrate to efficient light bulbs
Check fireplace flue for air leaks
Use ceiling fan to reduce heating/cooling costs
Choose low VOC paints when painting
Choose formaldehyde-free furniture and flooring
Choose natural air fresheners
Avoid upholstery and fabrics treated with synthetic chemicals
Seal up leaky windows
Choose green carpet cleaners
Donate or responsibly recycle unwanted electronics


Kill phantom power by using a power strip with on/off button
Migrate to efficient light bulbs
Choose a perc-free dry cleaner
A reusable garment bag reduces need for plastic dry cleaning bags
Use a fan to reduce heating and cooling costs
Use non-toxic solutions for bedbugs or other indoor pests
Donate clothing and cloths you no longer want
Select natural fabrics for bedding
Choose natural air fresheners


Choose plastics free of PVC and BPA
Dust regularly
Make your own organic baby food
Avoid bedding coated with chemicals
Use flame retardant clothing sparingly
Make an educated diaper decision
Choose safe lotions, powders, shampoos
Donate outgrown clothes, toys, bikes
Choose eco-friendly toys


Convert to green cleaners
Add a small recycling bin
Choose safer personal care products
Choose PVC-free vinyl products
Install low flow aerator on faucet
Install low flow shower head
Consider upgrading to low flow toilet
Choose recycled paper products
Choose natural air fresheners
Use all natural borax on mold and mildew

Laundry Room

Choose phosphate-free soaps
Choose plant-based detergents
Clean your dryer vent all the way to the exterior
Use vinegar to soften fabrics naturally
Line dry clothes when possible


Add a recycling bin
Kill phantom power by using a power strip with on/off button
Consider carpooling
Refill or recycle ink cartridges
Donate or responsibly recycle unwanted electronics
Send mail and packages in recyclable packaging


Clean up pet waste and dispose of it properly
Battle fleas without exposing your family to dangerous chemicals
Fight odors with eco-friendly deodorizers
Choose pet shampoos that are naturally derived


Convert to green cleaners for the car
Take a pass on synthetic scents for the car
Dispose of hazardous household waste properly
Choose tools powered by hand, electricity, or rechargeable battery


Irrigate wisely
Test your soil so you know if you need supplements
Apply yard products only where needed, sweep from sidewalks, streets, etc.
Choose natural pesticides to battle pests
Use native plants to reduce watering needs
Install a rain barrel to conserve water
Replace broken equipment with electric or hand-powered tools
Grow your own food
Plant a tree to reduce cooling costs

While Shopping

Buy local and in-season foods and products
Buy products with minimal or recyclable packaging
Buy products made with recycled content when possible
BYOB -Bring your reusable bags everywhere
Careful of ‘greenwashing’, look for reputable labels
Make sustainable seafood choices
Handle receipts carefully, some contain BPA
Seek out organic cotton clothing
Choose concentrated juices to save money and packaging
Shop for safer personal care products
Choose rechargeable batteries
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