How can we reduce heavy water use in our bathrooms?


Dear EarthTalk: Is it true that the bathroom is where over half of our household water usage takes place? What are some ways to take a bite out of that?

Shelby McIntyre

Chico, Calif.

Yes indeed, some 60 percent of our household indoor water usage happens in the bathroom. As such, updating old leaky fixtures and changing a few basic habits could go a long way to not only saving fresh water, an increasingly precious resource, but also money.

Do some mouthwashes contain formaldehyde?


Dear EarthTalk: Are there healthy, green-friendly mouthwashes? I’ve heard that some contain formaldehyde and other nasty substances.

Marina Sandberg

Albany, N.Y.

Should consumers still be concerned about food dyes?


Dear EarthTalk: Ever since the red dye No. 2 scare in the 1970s I’ve been wary of using food colorings or buying food that appears to contain them. Are there natural and healthy food colorings?

Nancy McFarlane

Methuen, Mass.

New-generation hair-care products are less harsh


Dear EarthTalk: I always hear about hair products and sprays that claim to be natural and organic based. What are some hair products that can be purchased that are legit and cause no harm to the environment?

Penny Siegel

Milwaukee, Wis.

Why, exactly, should we take time to sort our trash?


Dear EarthTalk: Recycling can be a somewhat time-consuming task; so can you please provide some benefits of taking the time to separate my trash? Joseph Jiminez

Houston, Texas

Recycling, which turns materials that would otherwise be incinerated or become landfill-clogging waste into valuable resources, has become second nature for many Americans. As many as four out of five U.S. households already take the time to separate recyclables from trash. Those holdouts not yet willing to bother should consider the benefits to their household and society at large.

How does going meatless help our environment?


Dear EarthTalk: I heard that the less meat one eats, the better it is for the environment. How so?

Jason K.

Sarasota, Fla.

Ideas needed for environmentally sensitive gifts


Dear EarthTalk: I would like to make my holiday gifts matter this year. Where can I find ideas for green gifts?

Mary Baumgartner

via email

What are the most efficient light bulbs for us to use?

Earth Talk

Dear EarthTalk: What are the greenest light bulbs to use? I hear there has been a lot of backlash against compact fluorescents because they contain mercury.

— Peter Roscoe, Hershey, Pa.

Do social networkers use up resources?


Dear EarthTalk: What is the environmental impact of so many people now using sites like Facebook and spending so much time online?

Bob Yearling

Paris, Texas

Is bioengineering leading to ‘genetic pollution?’


Dear EarthTalk: What is “genetic pollution” as it pertains to the bioengineering of animals, fish and plants, and what happens if they cross breed with their wild cousins?

R. Ahearn

Rome, N.Y.

Genetically modified organisms are those that have been altered by scientists to include genes from other organisms (known as transgenes) that may impart specific benefits.