Archive for ‘Green Living’

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

bagnanimous

dress a

Target is doing their bitSo is Ikea.  Now the Public Works Department for the County of Los Angeles has stepped up to the plate.  Or in the lingo of spokesman Luke Walton, they’re taking it strong to the hoop.

Public Works will conduct its first countywide “Brag About Your Bag®” reusable bag campaign beginning on “America Recycles Day”, November 15 and runs through “A Day without A Bag”, December 17, 2009. We will team up with Albertsons, HOWS, Ralphs, Top Valu, and Valu Plus supermarkets to host countywide reusable bag giveaway events and distribute over 50,000 reusable bags.

The “Brag About Your Bag®” campaign goal is to unify the County of Los Angeles, the 88 cities, non-profits, and other entities to help educate by:

* increasing public awareness of the litter impact on the environment;
* promote the use of reusable bag;
* increase at-store recycling of plastic bags; and
* reduce plastic carryout usage

Plastic bags certainly have a lot of uses once they make it home.  But if you don’t have a dog and aren’t considering making that lovely 1950’s era knit dress maybe this will be the tip-off for change.

image via Craftzine

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

the fixer

I was so encouraged by the spirit of this post about reusable bags, in part because it touched on my love of all things inherited.  Lucky for me, Tara[ “tar” (the road stuff) – “uh”], aka The Organic Sister, is way cool and allowed me to share her words with you.  Check out her story, I’m incredibly envious of her family’s up and coming adventure.

. . .

These canvas shopping bags are about 20 years old. They belonged to my mom; proof we’ve been living green before I even knew what it meant.

The average reusable bag has the lifespan of over seven hundred disposable plastic bags.

I love the fact they have lasted so long! Canvas shopping bags are the best; their durability is obvious. I’ve seen some reusable bags that were poorly made and had holes or broken handles within a year.

Repairing Vintage Grocery BagsThe red is even still bright!

Using canvas bags can save an average of 425 plastic bags per person, annually!

Our “vintage” bags (as the store clerk calls them) only recently broke a couple straps. We load them up pretty heavily and the stress started to show in two of the 8 bags’ handles.

Their canvas material makes them easy to repair: I just overlapped the two halfs of the broken handle by a few inches, and machine-sewed vertically and horizontally until it felt good and secure. Nothing fancy and it shortened the handles a bit but it extended their use at least another decade!

An estimated one million birds and 100,000 turtles and other sea animals die of starvation each year after ingesting discarded plastic bags which block their digestive tracks.

Other than some day owning family heirloom bags, want some more interesting reasons to switch to reusable bags? Click here:

Go Reusable Bags!

. . .

Yeah, hey, hey
When somethings dark, let me shed a little light on it
When somethings cold, let me put a little fire on it
If somethings old, I wanna put a bit of shine on it
When somethings gone, I wanna fight to get it back again

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, fight to get it back again
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

When somethings broke, I wanna put a bit of fixin on it
When somethings bored, I wanna put a little exciting on it
If somethings low, I wanna put a little high on it
When somethings lost, I wanna fight to get it back again

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, fight to get it back again
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

When signals cross, I wanna put a little straight on it
If there’s no love, I wanna try to love again

I’ll say your prayers, I’ll take your side
I’ll find us a way to make light
I’ll dig your grave, we’ll dance and sing
What’s saved could be one last lifetime

Hey, hey, hey
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, fight to get it back again
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Fight to get it back again, yeah, yeah, yeah
Fight to get it back again, yeah, yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

A new favorite song of mine, fitting no?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

it’s in the bag

target tree

If you’re not already saving money at Target plan to start soon.  Along with smaller stores such as Whole Foods and Sprouts Farmer’s Market, Target will be giving a 5¢ credit for each reusable bag shoppers bring with them.

USAToday had the full story

The Target program, which will roll out on Nov. 1 at all 1,700 Target stores nationwide, could save billions of plastic bags. The chain posts upwards of 1.5 billion transactions annually — most ending up in more than one bag.

A pilot test in 100 Target stores earlier this year resulted in a hefty 58% reduction in plastic bags used, says Shawn Gensch, vice president of marketing. “The best-case scenario is that we’ll have 100% success and every consumer will use a reusable bag.”

I’ve been using my own bags at Target for a while, now I just get paid for doing it.  What’s not to like.

 

Monday, September 28, 2009

another look at recycling

We’ve been having an amazing time on our West coast road trip.  Even Toddler L and Baby S have been enjoying themselves.  At least that’s what I’m telling myself.  I’ve also been enjoying the time away from the computer.  A week without internet has been great for the whole family.  But I miss all of you.

Just so you don’t miss me too much here’s a re-post from January.  A little look into my life.  I hope you enjoy, I’ll be back soon.

recycling

Recycling should be second nature by now.  Unfortunately not every city, town or landlord agrees with that yet.  We are lucky enough to have a nice big trash bin right down stairs for all of our refuse.  I even went so far as to ask about recycling before we signed the lease.  “Don’t worry, they separate it” I was told.  Perhaps it was my desire to get settled, move forward, make a decision, whatever, but I bought that line.  It wasn’t until after we had moved in that it started to niggle at me as slightly unbelievable.  But being the trusting soul I am I kept playing along.  I was even so nice as to separate out the recycling items from our regular trash so those hardworking garbage plant workers wouldn’t have to open the bags and dig through our dirty tissues and food scraps for the empty cans.  After my year of trying to be good about reusable bags I decided enough’s enough.  I wasn’t buying the line anymore and something had to be done.  I was ready to do more and it started at home.  Unfortunately, the other tenants in my building aren’t so environmentally guilt-ridden as I so a mass protest to the management was out.  That left me to figure out my own solution.

A quick internet search and I was able to find my local recycling collection center.  Walser’s to the rescue.  I wasn’t looking for my 5 cents per bottle, I just wanted to know my stuff was actually getting recycled.

off to recycle my waste

off to recycle my waste

So I loaded up the car.  This was actually two weeks worth as I didn’t make it over last week.

bye bye recyclables
bye bye recyclables

All I had to do was unload my bags and I was on my way.  Except I waited to see the staff check to make sure I had properly sorted my items.  And I got a tour!  I was so excited to be dropping off my recycling and here I was going to get an inside look into where it all goes?  Hot diggity.  I wanted in!

mixed paper
mixed paper

I wanted to see where all my paper cereal boxes and tissue cartons were going to go.

plastics
plastics

And how about piling all my plastic bottles and containers into this big puppy.

e-waste
e-waste

Take a look at all the computers they had stacked up ready to ship out.  They go through tons of these.  Literally.  In fact, just last week, in one day they got 44 televisions.  And they’re considered a small operation!  I’m just glad they’re big enough to take my junk.  All gone.  Gone to become someone else’s headache.

metals (yep that's a full refrigerator getting the proper heave-ho)
metals/appliances (yep that’s a full refrigerator getting the proper heave-ho)

Did you know that so much of what we recycle here in the U.S. actually gets shipped to CHINA for recycling.  That’s right.  They put it in big containers and ship it to factories in China to do whatever it is recycling plants do.  But the factories in China don’t have the same labour laws, works standards or emissions controls that we do.  So in the end, how much is it costing the environment for us to recycle?  But not Walser’s!  They make sure all of their e-waste, metal, paper and plastic is all regurgitated right here at home.  Well someone else’s home.  I just got it out of my home.  But you know what I mean.

I’ll see you next week Walser’s!

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

eco-me cleans up

Premix-Line-up_large

Eco-me has created some really great packaging for all natural household cleaners.  So all natural in fact you already have them in your house.  And some of you are probably already using them to clean with.  (Oil, vinegar, water and baking soda.)  There’s even a DIY kit so they sell you the great packaging and you provide your own ingredients.  Minus the secret mix of essential oils.  I’m just not sure a mix of tea tree, lavender, lemongrass and rosemary are worth the cost of packaging and shipping the packaging.

If these products help some people kick the toxic habit then I’m all for it.  (Apparently they work really well, but you probably knew that.)  I just hope I can have a brainstorm idea to make money selling people what they already own.

Do you use essential oils in your cleaning?  (I’m collecting recipes so I don’t have to buy the packaging.)

via Design Mom

Monday, September 14, 2009

no impact, man

no impact man

I missed the L.A. screening by a mere two inches.  Has anyone seen this yet?  I’m hoping to get to a showing in Pasadena when it opens on the 18th.  Anyone planning to go?

Although I don’t think Colin would approve of the distance I’m driving or the movie-going itself just to see his story.  Irony.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

the green party

invite

I can’t believe it’s true.  Toddler L turned two yesterday.  And with kids’ birthdays comes birthday parties.  Luckily for me Toddler L doesn’t have a favorite cartoon character or TV show (he says TV when we turn on the radio, no TV may just warp his mind).  He doesn’t have a favorite book and he hasn’t requested his room be covered in dinosaurs or cars.  So for this year at least I got to choose what his birthday party would look like.  What was the inspiration?

Beans.  Yup, Heinz beans.

Not just any beans though, the baked beans in tomato sauce that are imported from England.  (Yes, a U.S. company makes a product only available in another country that is then brought here and sold as an import.)  When we found a big tin of them I thought they would be good for the party.  Then I looked at the tin and found inspiration in the colors.

We used Pingg for the invitations.  As much as I would have loved to send out handmade paper invites to all the kids we did the responsible thing and used their parents e-mail instead.

IMG_7181

We were at a fabulous wilderness park with some less than fabulous metal picnic tables.  Decision 1 – cloth or plastic?  I heavily considered renting tablecloths but couldn’t justify the expense for a 2 hour party.  So we went with plastic that could at least be recycled after.  (I’m kicking myself for not bringing them home and using them for kids’ craft days.  I blame lack of sleep for that faux pa.)

Table decorations were kept pretty simple.  Beans tins (lots of beans were consumed in the making of this party) with flowers – some real, mostly paper – and a picture of Toddler L that I printed at home and attached to skewers.  The pictures are already being recycled into another project.  I also put out some rice filled bean bags I had made using the circles on a pillow case found at the thrift store.  The colors matched the tins perfectly.  The bean bags were later used for games.

IMG_7183

We borrowed two canopies and put up some paper poms.  They were pretty easy but very time consuming.  The banner was printed at home and I strung the pieces on ribbon.  It now hangs in Toddler L’s room.

IMG_7182-2

The food was kept simple.  We served pretzel Goldfish (Toddler L’s favorite food), pb & j sandwich cutouts, fruit, oatmeal chocolate chip cookies (lovingly made by the husband), mini burgers made with organic beef (not pictured as they were cooking) and, of course, beans.

All of the serving dishes were from our kitchen.  We used compostable plates, cups and cutlery.  And thanks to some friends they actually got composted.  Along with the pillow case I found a sheet that matched the teal color.  I cut it up to make napkins which have since been added to our home collection.  There can never be enough napkins with kids around.

IMG_7192

These are the burgers.  Aren’t they cute?  I think they were a big hit with kids and adults.

IMG_7196

We did have bottled water as it’s a must for these hot summer days.  We had some large bottles for the adults and these smaller bottles for the kids.  I’m not a fan of plastic water bottles anyway but half full ones left lying around really get my goat.  We also had Sprecher root beer.  It’s the best root beer I’ve tasted, it’s from the husband’s hometown and it comes in glass bottles.  As a final option we made an apple, peach lemonade.  (It was delicious.  And it made me break the Compact.  I just didn’t have a pitcher big enough.  So I bought a beautiful glass dispenser with a tap.  I’ve never seen one in a thrift store, I’ve wanted one for years and I know I will use it forever, so I don’t feel too bad about the purchase.)

IMG_7176-2

I don’t know many toddlers that need to be hyped up on sugar, they really have enough energy already.  (At least the one that lives with me does.)  So I thought mini cupcakes would be perfect.  For the kids at least, the adults got regular size indulgences – I need a full chocolate fix.  They came from BabyCakes Baking Company and were amazing.  I rented the cake stand from the shop so no added waste from making or buying one, and it was way cute.  The cupcake toppers were printed at home and will be recycled into whatever projects I can come up with.

IMG_7186

The true highlight of the party though was the pond.  We bought a bulk supply of ranger approved food and handed it out to the kids to feed the ducks, fish and turtles.  It was better than any games or activities we could have brought with us.  It might have been better than the cupcakes.

All in all I’m pretty happy with how green the “teal” party was.  I don’t know that we had any trash as everything was either brought home for another use, recycled or composted.

Could we have made less of an impact and stayed true to the Compact?

Yes.

Would it have been as fabulous and beautiful?

Nope.

So in this give-and-take life I’m pretty happy with what I did to get what I got.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

tin can alley

A soup can is good for so many things.

lsd

A necklace.

telephone-game_300

A telephone.

can soap

A soap dispenser?

Artist Jack Bresnahan created these useful lids for the everyday soup can.  Granted a can can (I love that dance) be a flower vase or a toothbrush holder without any help but sometimes a little design creativity makes it just that much more appealing.  And a little less Compact.  But at least they’re green.  Bresnahan designed his toppers out of biodegradeable plastic, giving the recycled tin can yet another life.  Or nine lives – as a vase, a soap dispenser, a sugar pourer, a toothbrush holder, a bank, a desk caddy or tea and coffee canisters.

The designer was quoted as saying ‘anything that ends up in landfill is simply poor design’.  I couldn’t agree more.

What else can a can do?  How about two cans?  (sorry, couldn’t resist)

can tea

can flower

can money

can pens

can sugar

can toothpaste

can plain

via Dezeen

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

green box delivered

I’ve written before about my favorite green box.  Well, now there’s a new boy on the shelf.

greenbox

I can’t remember the last time I had pizza from a box.  But if I did, I would want it to be one of these boxes.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

palm sheath plates

bamboo-plates

I want these plates.  I have been gathering all my ideas and goodies for Toddler L’s upcoming birthday party.  And now, I want these plates.

I know the most Compact choice would be to borrow plates from several friends, but as we are at a wilderness park with small children I am afraid I might not be returning as many plates as I borrowed.  So that idea’s out.  The next most Compact idea would probably be to get all the plates I need from Goodwill.  I could either keep the plates or send them back to Goodwill after the party, but I don’t want or need that many mismatched plates and I’m trying to keep costs down so buying and re-donating plates doesn’t really seem to make sense either.  As I’m being as eco-friendly as I can about this whole shindig the next option I see is to buy environmentally friendly disposable plates.

I saw these palm sheath plates on a party planning site and immediately felt pangs of desire.  They’re perfect.  They’re called bioplates.  They’re made from naturally fallen palm sheaths and can be used multiple times.

They’re also only sold by this company in Australia.  Not exactly environmentally friendly to have my plates shipped from Australia (or economical, or realistic, or going to happen).

I’m working really hard to find another equally fabulous option.  Sometimes being a designer, and wanted just the right look is a real pain in the butt.