Everyday ways to green up your life.

Eating off the Farm

The Plate and Pitchfork eating-on-the-farm series is long sold out, but diners interested in eating close to the land can still check out Salute!, a dinner series held at Fratelli (1230 N.W. Hoyt St., 503-241-8800). The Wednesday-night gatherings (July 12, 19, 26) bring in area farmers as special guests to discuss their work, as well as offering specially created dishes that utilize the farmers' bounty. For those who think summer dining begins and ends on the vine, take note: This week's stars are George Weppler and Steven Posavatz of Weppler Farms. Last year they delivered 14 types of heirloom tomatoes.

Back to the bars

When was the last time you used a bar of soap in the shower? Nowadays it's all gel, all the time. It might seem old-school, but bars have much going for them. They don't need preservatives (no liquids to get funky), they don't need plastic containers (which more often than not get pitched) and they last much longer (and are thus more economical) than a comparable gel.

If you can get into the bar scene, try a shampoo bar from Lush - 803 N.W. 23rd Ave., 503-228-5874, You rub it in your hands like soap until you've got a fistful of lather, or just run it over your head and get a mini-head massage too. At $7.65 to $8.95, it's a sustainably priced product, too - especially if you choose one with conditioner included. One more bonus: The hockey-puck size makes for easy transport.

Save money, earn prizes

Admit it: You're as motivated by saving money as by saving the earth. And with gas prices what they are, there's been no better time to evaluate how much you really need to drive. Metro's Drive Less/Save More campaign,, along with the Westside Transportation Alliance, offers added incentives this month through the Carefree Commuter Challenge.

All you have to do is substitute solo driving with carpooling, public transit, walking, biking or even simply doing your business at home, at least six times during the month of July. Then between July 31 and Aug. 4, go to to record your good deeds and you'll be eligible for more than $12,000 in prizes including cash, a bicycle and loads of gift certificates. There's an essay contest, too.

Even if you don't win a prize you'll get something back: According to the campaign, the average area household spends $5.32 a day in gas.

Mo' better cool

Is your house too hot to handle? Worried a fan won't work and air conditioning is terrible for the environment - and your electric bill?

Portland General Electric offers $200 rebates to customers who install energy-efficient heat pumps that help keep houses either warm or cool. In addition to the PGE rebate, customers can save up to $1,130 more through incentives from Energy Trust of Oregon and state and federal tax credits.

For details, go to or call 503-612-3500 or 1-800-722-9287.

- Audrey Van Buskirk

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