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Apr 22, 2011 8:54 AM

Earth Day in Tucson

TUCSON - Today is the 41'st annual Earth Day, a day to celebrate the world we live in and give back. Tucson is a town with quite the "green" reputation but there is still work to be done.

"We are definitely walking the walk more around here," Gina Murphy-Darling said.

A little stroll around Gina Murphy-Darling's home proves she means green.

"Everything flushes with one flush and you are using one third of the water," Murphy-Darling said, showing off her eco-friendly toilet.

At Murphy-Darling's house, you won't find a plastic bag of any kind. Murphy-Darling, who also goes by Mrs. Green, drives a hybrid car and her fridge is full of earth-friendly foods.

"We buy a lot of things fresh, and here's organic milk and half and half, thank god," Murphy-Darling said.

Murphy-Darling has taken her passion to the Internet and she is now a social media environmentalist. She started a website called mrsgreensworld.com, which has become a national hub for fellow green fanatics.

"There's New York, Virginia Beach," Murphy-Darling said, reading some of the hometowns of her digital followers.

Murphy-Darling also has a following in Tucson, a town that has earned a good green name for itself. Tucson was chosen as a launch city for both the Nissan LEAF and the Electric Ford Focus. The Toyota Plug-In Prius is also coming to Arizona; interested drivers can now start registering for the car.

In Tucson, there is enough solar energy to power almost 3,500 homes and there are nearly 500 miles of bike lanes.

A number of Tucson businesses are also dedicated to becoming eco-friendly. Tucson has a "green" plumber, dry cleaner and three businesses with enough solar panels to generate 100 percent of the energy they need to function.

"Our community really is very energy minded and very environmentally minded," said Colleen Crowninshield, Energy Programs Manager for the Pima Association of Governments.

From abandoning plastic water bottles to unplugging appliances when they are not in use, Murphy-Darling says each person can still do more.

"Drive the speed limit, take things out of your car, get regular oil changes," Murphy-Darling said.

Earth Day events around Tucson:

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday at the University of Arizona campus mall, Students for Sustainability will host "Earth Day 2011: Be the Solution," an event aimed at "bridging the expertise of the community and the unbridled enthusiasm and energy of young professionals in pursuit of innovative solutions." Click here for more information. Also at the time the University will receive its first electric vehicle, the Nissan LEAF, adding the car to its fleet of vehicles for use by staff and students enrolled in a car-sharing program.

From 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, El Rio neighborhood residents and the Tucson community are invited to a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Grand Opening of the L & K Gin Family Gardens, located at 1401 N. Riverview Blvd.

At 8 p.m. on Friday, The Tucson Museum of Art will celebrate world culture with Art After Dark. The event is free for museum members at $10 for non-members. Click here for more information.

Until closing on Friday, all Buffalo Exchange locations will be collecting fur apparel for the Coats for Cubs organization. Click here for locations and hours.

Starting Friday, residents of Arizona can register online for the Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid. Click here to register.

From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, The University of Arizona Biosphere 2 will partner with The University of Arizona School of Music to celebrate Earth Day 2011. There will be live music, science and art activities, tours and more. Click here for more information.

Earth Day Green Tips:

Audit your recycling program. Make sure recycling containers are convenient and easy-to use. Recycle old batteries, cell phones, electronics and ink-jet cartridges.

Use eco-friendly cleaners like baking soda and vinegar.

Stay away from plastic bags and water bottles. Stick with reusable grocery bags and bottles instead.

As the summer heats up, get your air conditioning unit checked. Maintenance can preserve energy.

Enjoy household plants, they can clear toxins from the air.

Drive smart. Driving the speed limit, taking unnecessary items out of your car, and performing routine maintenance can decrease gas usage.

Go to www.mrsgreensworld.com/green-living/ for more ways to "go green."

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