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Posted January 9, 2009 | Copyright © The Northern Virginia Daily
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Winchester offering environmental workshops for residents

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By Stacey Keenan -- Daily Correspondent

WINCHESTER -- Ready to make a change and go green, but don't really know where to start? Now there's a simple way to learn the basics of transforming a home into an environmentally friendly residence -- and it's free.

Winchester is offering Green 101 workshops in January and February to help residents learn how to be eco-friendly. The workshops, presented by Michael Neese, the city's recycling coordinator, will offer a wide array of information on everything from composting to energy efficiency.

The workshops, which have been offered since October, are open to anyone in the Northern Shenandoah Valley and take place in the War Memorial Building in Jim Barnett Park. Sessions in January take place every Thursday night. The same sessions will be offered in February, but will take place every Tuesday. Residents can sign up to attend only one or two of the workshops, but Neese recommends attending all four to receive the most benefit.

"[The workshops offer] practical information that [residents] will be able to apply in their lives, from any of the topics we cover," he says.

Each workshop covers a different set of topics.

The first workshop, Green 101-1, which was held on Jan. 8, offered a general overview of solid waste, energy waste and efficiency, as well as water and soil waste and efficiency. If residents missed the workshop this month, there's no need to fret, says Neese. The workshop will be offered again in February.

The second workshop, Green 101-2, will focus on the theme of solid waste and will offer discussions about food and gardening, buying local, grasscycling, composting, as well as reducing, reusing and recycling of paper, containers, lawn waste, clothing, appliances and construction and demolition debris. Green 101-3, the third workshop, features the topic energy waste and efficiency, and discussions will focus on the basics of efficiency, Energy Star versus energy inefficient appliances, fuel economy, and solar and wind energy.

In the last workshop, Green 101-4, participants will learn about issues surrounding soil and water waste and efficiency, including chemical-free gardening, composting, rain barrels, rain gardens, home water usage and leaks, water conservation, water reuse, gray water recycling, household hazard waste conservation, vermiposting and homemade, environmentally safe cleaning supplies.

While the central theme will be the same each time a workshop is offered, Neese doesn't plan to always talk about the same thing twice.

"Each workshop is modified to fulfill the interests of those attending," he says. And, he encourages participants to actively engage in the workshops. "Open discussion between those attending is encouraged."

The workshops take place from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. For more information or to register for the Green 101 workshops, call Amy Simmons, marketing coordinator for Winchester, at 533-0603 or e-mail asimmons@ci.winchester.va.us.

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