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Green to the Extreme

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Cheryl Eaton Cheryl Eaton

Burlington, Vermont - June 3, 2009

From her office window, Cheryl Eaton sees the world in a new way and has a new look. She chuckles, "I miss my spiky hair!"

She's given up styling gel, and is wearing a hat instead, as part of a goal to go a whole week without products that require packaging. She doesn't want to produce any garbage, and just recycling isn't enough because that burns fossil fuels.

Eaton explains, "I'm trying to push the limits to make it interesting. For example, sometime this week I'm going to get take-out. I'm going to try to figure out how to get take-out without using take-out containers."

She figures she'll just bring her own bowls from home. She brought home fresh bread from the bakery this week wrapped in a cloth napkin instead of a bag. "I have to be really thoughtful about the food I'm eating," Eaton says. "I have to buy everything in bulk with reusable containers."

The marketing executive got this idea when she realized how full her trash barrels were getting, with stuff she didn't think she needed to use at all, like paper towels. She now brings a reusable alternative to dry her hands: a bandana.

"I think it's definitely an inspiration to all of us," says Eaton's colleague Brianna Graves.

The challenge has rubbed off on Eaton's co-workers at Kelliher Samets Volk. The firm already encourages computer use at meetings instead of printing paper hand-outs, but Graves agrees she can do more with little impact on her life.

Walking into her office, Graves says, "As you can see, I have two huge windows which give me plenty of natural light. That means I don't have to use the fluorescent lights which bothered me anyway."

Graves won't go as far as her colleague, who even ditched shampoo and is just using a bar of natural soap instead. But Eaton points out, "I am brushing my teeth. There are things I'm not giving up. Some of my hardcore friends say there are alternatives to toothpaste. You can use baking soda. But baking soda comes in a box."

After her week-long test, Cheryl Eaton hopes she won't just slip back into her old habits, instead, develop new, lasting ways to reduce waste.

Cheryl Eaton smiles, saying, "If everyone changes their behavior just a little bit, we'd all be better off."

A goal from one woman going green to the extreme. To read her blog about her waste-free experience, click here.

Jack Thurston - WCAX News

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