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THE WAY YOU SHOP
CAN HELP THE EARTH

Perhaps you may remember Kermit the Frog singing, "It isn't easy being green". With all due respect to Kermit, we beg to differ. And if you need motivation to start incorporating environmental awareness into your lifestyle, consider this: There is a widening hole in the ozone layer over the Antarctic - the size of the United States. The size of the United States. Scientists have recently discovered more gaps in the ozone layer over the northern hemisphere and the Arctic. Now let's put this in all perspective. Ozone at ground level is toxic to humans. Ozone also protects us from the sun's ultraviolet rays that lead to skin cancer. The rate of skin cancer and other types of cancer is going up alarmingly. In addition, ozone depletion threatens plant and marine life which supplies the majority of the world's oxygen - which we need to breathe! We need oxygen to stay alive.

And there's more. Air pollution alone is so bad that in many places people are frequently warned not to go outdoors on particularly bad days. Lung damage from ozone-polluted air is a risk faced by roughly 3 out of 5 Americans. And our drinking water is becoming so polluted by gasoline, pesticides, chemicals and toxic waste that our nation's drinking water in many parts of this country is routinely deemed undrinkable and literally has caused deaths. In 1993, over 100 people died in Milwaukee from drinking contaminated water and scientists estimate nearly 100 million people per year become ill and tens of thousands develop cancer from contaminated drinking water. These are innocents victims of a polluted environment.

It is up to each one of us to take individual responsibility for our own habits and our own individual impact on the environment. There are lots of easy ways to begin to make green changes in your attitude and your lifestyle. The following tips not only can save you time and money, but are an important first step towards helping save the planet for ourselves and for future generations.

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Written by Marianne Schnall. Marianne Schnall is a co-founder of the EcoMall, a free-lance writer and founder of the women's site Feminist.com.

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