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Park Rapids couple practices green living

Florence and Carter Hedeen do plenty of little things to be friendly to the environment, like hang their clothes in the backyard to dry. (Anna Erickson / Enterprise)

Carter and Florence Hedeen practice living green every day.

The Park Rapids couple has the philosophy that people need to appreciate what they have and take care of the environment.

"We don't appreciate what we have often enough," Florence said. "We have clean air, fresh water, and we need to preserve that."

They go by the mantra "reduce, reuse, recycle," but emphasize reduce and reuse most of all. Those come before recycling, they say.

Rather than buying individually packaged food items, the Hedeens purchase food in larger quantities.

"We try to avoid ridiculous packaging and buy something that we can put into our own smaller, reusable containers," Florence said.

It takes more planning to buy in bulk and plan meals over a week. It takes a change of attitude away from convenience, Florence said.

The couple also tries to reuse whenever possible.

For example, they check out second hand stores first to see if a used item will work instead of buying new. Carter will also try to have something repaired or fixed, if possible, before giving up and buying new.

"Before buying something, consider where things came from and where it will go when you're done with it," Florence said. "Nothing disappears."

Also, they try to buy locally first before buying something that's from out of town.

The Hedeens ride bicycles or walk to most places in town when the weather allows and also drive a Toyota Prius, which gets better gas mileage.

When driving, they typically go about five miles per hour slower than the speed limit. For example, they go 55 miles per hour instead of 60, Carter said.

Florence always remembers something her parents said.

"Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without," she said.

Over the years, the Hedeens have replaced some of their appliances to be more energy efficient. They have a natural gas furnace instead of oil and replaced an electric dryer with a gas dryer.

"Natural gas is much more efficient," Florence said. "The idea is to use less."

They also wash their clothes in cold water, hang their clothes outside to dry when possible and use their dryer sparingly.

In their yard, Carter has planted many trees. He describes himself as a "tree person."

"We also let the grass grow longer and don't cut it as short," he said.

They mow less because a regular lawn mower is terrible for the environment, Florence said.

Also in the yard, they have a small compost area where they put any "green" garbage.

Reduction is also a big part of their vocabulary.

"We eat what we need to maintain good health and don't waste food," Florence said.

The Hedeens also have a programmable thermostat so they use less energy to heat their home.

Florence makes her own cleaning products from baking soda, vinegar, dish soap and water. She refuses to buy toxic cleaning supplies.

They use less water by having a low flow shower head and taking short showers.

They have installed compact fluorescent light bulbs throughout the house.

All it takes is a different way of thinking."It's just the little things that add up," Florence said.