It's Good to Be Green

Tuesday, 28 April 2009 20:09 Written by  Priya A. Shah

Once upon a green time, stay-at-home mother of three, Terri Lawlor Kolodziej and her youngest daughter, Karli, sat down to watch the Discovery Channel. It was a show about global warming, and over the sad demise of these cute, adorable polar bears, Karli begin to cry her eyes out.

 Kolodziej, 46, of Dumont, New Jersey, had only been recycling paper, glass and plastic, but after seeing how the global warming program affected her daughter, she was determined to turn her home into an eco-friendly environment for the sake of her family and children.

“My goal as a parent is to keep them healthy and happy. In order for this to be done, I have to keep as much of the toxins away from them as possible,” says Kolodziej.

Kolodziej recently became an independent broker (, which gives her the opportunity to sell the products she believes in. She and her family turned their home green by using non-toxic and natural products. She did little things like changing the light bulbs, buying more organic foods, switching her cleaning products to non-toxic products and even changing the paper towels and toilet paper in the house.

“I was a little nervous about the toilet paper—thinking it would be like using sandpaper, but I was pleasantly surprised. And in a house with three daughters, toilet paper is important! Next we’re going to try out shampoos and different soaps,” says Kolodziej.  


Recycling, it seems, is the first step to going green.

“There is no reason not to recycle. It’s easy to do and most towns come and pick it up from you on certain days of the month,” says Kolodziej.

But if it’s so easy, then why isn’t everyone doing it? Are people just too lazy to separate paper, plastic and glass?  Or is there another problem that we’re all unaware of?

“With trash, it’s just one bin, and you can throw anything in it and know it will be taken care of.  With recycling, there are multiple bins and the rules about what you can throw in each bin change depending on where you live,” says Georgia Malki, the president of Seven-Star, green experts to the event industry in Florida. “This confusion over the years has muddied the waters enough to deter some people from recycling. That’s why education is so important. Municipalities need to create clear, easy-to-understand methods for recycling.”

Malki has been in the event planning and marketing business for over 20 years and is committed to bringing her industry to the next level.

Want simple ways to go green around your home? Malki says…

  • Compose and recycle – Do this for all materials your city recycles and start composting at home.
  • Donation and reuse – From Goodwill to friends, this is the best recycling possible.
  • Eliminate disposables – Paper towels, disposable food ware (plates, utensils, cups).

Make a lifestyle change (Unplug it! Wash, wet and water!)

You can start by unplugging unused items around your house, such as your phone charger. By turning things off and unplugging devices when not in use, you’re saving energy and money!

“Imagine a meter calculating dollars spent for everything that is plugged into an outlet or takes energy to operate,” says Malki.

Conserving water is also important.  Christopher Bruce Slack, who is very green-involved and is promoting green energy through a music festival, says he reuses bottles and towels around his home and unplugs cords from wall sockets when they are not in use.

“A lot of the problem with Green energy technology as of right now is its expensive and takes up a lot of space as far as like running a house on hydrogen to power everything,” says Slack. But nowadays, there are so many other things that you can do.

Kolodziej says her husband installed a water filter system that is connected to the refrigerator. This helps their family use less water bottles and the system also makes ice cubes. (Ok, seriously, who doesn’t love ice cubes?)

“By changing the light bulbs and adding in the water filter system, we have been saving money each and every month,” says Kolodziej. “I definitely saved on the doctor bills this past year and I credit that to healthier eating and fewer toxins in my home.”

Here are nine tips on making things like your refrigerator and dishwasher become green! Malki says…

1.    When cleaning these appliances, use only green eco-safe cleansers.
2.    Fill your refrigerator with “real” foods, local, organic and non-processed.
3.    Reduce your refrigerator setting to low (just at milk storage temp).
4.    Keep your freezer full – reduces energy to keep temp control.
5.    Close doors immediately – avoid the open door linger to look inside.
6.    Load your dishwasher fully and use standard setting for dish cleaning.
7.    Use green eco-safe dishwashing detergent.
8.    When the time comes to replace an appliance, buy energy star products.
9.    Smaller is better; it forces one to buy what you need and will use.

Green secrets from Malki. Did you know that…?

Red meat: Unless it is local, grass fed, and has no hormone or biotics and is organic…the realities of the meat industry are quite unappetizing.  Here are some statistics:

  • One 12 oz steak provides 940 calories of energy in a meal but requires 32,900 calories of fossil energy to create (
  • Livestock accounts for 18 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions, an amount higher than that of motorized transportation (2006 United Nations Report).

Fish: Seafood is wildlife. With 4,000,000 fishing vessels today, the ocean’s wildlife is in peril of being depleted in the next 30 years if we do not change our food habits (11CT).

Diapers: They do not degrade and remain little piles of contained poop in landfill. Buy biodegradable compostable diapers if washing non-disposables are just too gross.

Shampoos and conditioners: If the words are hard to pronounce, then it’s probably harsh on your body and harsher on the environment.

Junk mail:
Stop this madness as the impact on resources is staggering. An average family junk mail represents 600 lbs of paper.

Use this formula—if you wouldn’t let a child use it, then lose it!

Get Green Now!

Although Kermit the Frog said, “It’s not easy being green,” it’s also not impossible. According to Malki, you can re-energize your home by painting your walls with no VOC and replace carpeting with earth-friendly materials because your home can be one of the most toxic environments. So help yourself and the world by using these tips around your home.

For more information, go to


Photography by Billy Montgomery.

Priya A. Shah

Priya A. Shah

Priya A. Shah lives in Chicago. She graduated from Columbia College Chicago in 2010, where she studied magazine journalism and fiction writing. She has been a staff writer for GMO since 2007. She’s written and interned for various media outlets such as India Tribune, Today's Chicago Woman, Tribune Media Services, GlossMagazineOnline and Echo (the student produced magazine for Columbia College Chicago). She’s contributed to A Fresh Squeeze (, an online publication for green living in Chicago, and her school newspaper, The Columbia Chronicle.

Priya can be reached at or