Archive for ‘Recycling’

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?

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 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.


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


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

helpful tip #4


Who knew a banana was good for more than just eating?  Of course the peel is good for the compost bin but check out all the other uses for this often tossed food container.

1. Help Your Garden Grow: Bananas are naturally high in potassium and encourages plant growth. Use banana peel or puree entire banana and bury with soil.

2. Shoe Polish: Use the peel to make your kicks nice and shiny.

3. Stop the Itch: Rub the inside of a banana peel on a bug bite helps itch relief.

4. Pain Reliever: The oil in a banana peel will help relieve the pain from burns and scratches.

5. Wart Removal: Tape a piece of banana peel on a wart, continue until it’s gone.

6. Make Houseplants Gleam: Just like peels can shine shoes, they can also be used to make the leaves of plants shine.

7. Removing Splinters: Similar to wart removal, tape a piece of the peel over the splinter. The enzymes will help dislodge the splinter and heal the wound.

Apparently there is a use that involves chemistry and smoking but I’m not going to promote that craziness.  You’re on your own if that’s your thing.

via re-nest

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

the wheels are spinning

I just read this article and it made my day better.  Not in a personal way, in a “good things are happening” kind of way.


Magnum D’Or Resources Inc. just bought this whole waste tire dump site in Hudson, Colorado.  They now own one-third of all waste tires in the U.S. and possibly the largest dump site in the world.  The great news is that:

Magnum uses a proprietary “GREEN’ technology that “provides a unique solution to all of the challenges in the disposal of stockpiles of scrap tires and rubber scrap,” company officials say.


All of these tires are going to find a better home.  What a great way to start the day.

via Twilight Earth

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

tin can alley

A soup can is good for so many things.


A necklace.


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

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

how was your day?


Sometimes things just work out.  I wasn’t expecting it but today was one of those days.  Okay, Toddler L has a fever.  That wasn’t expected or hoped for.  But other things were better.

If you’ve been here before you probably know I am an AB5MD convert.  (That’s Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day for those of you who aren’t so hip to be squared.)  Although I love having the bread machine and make all the bread we eat (okay, maybe not ALL, I can’t be responsible for the husband’s addiction to Thomas English Muffins), I have truly fallen for the ease with which one can have divine, crusty, almost-quasi-nearly-Old World French loaves on the table with dinner.  And such a cute little loaf for when it’s just the two of you.  (Okay, it’s never just the two of us anymore, but the other mouths don’t eat dinner with us so I’m discounting them for the sake of this discussion.)

All digressions aside, I have been doing a regular and somewhat extensive search for a used copy of the AB5MD book in the thrift stores and online.  No luck.  Apparently I am not the only one.  I am currently 573 of 623 on the wait list at Paperback Swap.  Some time ago (think months) I put a request in at the library.  Finally, it’s waiting to be picked up.

But that’s not the best part.  I haven’t made it to the library yet and now I don’t have to.  A package arrived today.  As we have a new baby that’s not completely unexpected.  But that this package contained adult books was.  No, not those kind of adult books.  What do you take me for?  One book doesn’t have any pictures or nursery rhymes and the other one has recipes that don’t include home-made play dough or bubbles.  My in-laws gifted us a copy of the first Artisan Bread book.  How cool is that?  They know all about the Compact and my newest obsession and I guess they took pity on me.  Whatever the reason, I couldn’t be happier.  I feel like a 16 year old boy who just got handed the keys to the car.  I can’t wait to dive in and see what it can do.  And I hope that’s the only time I ever feel like a 16 year old boy.  That’s kinda weird.

I think everyone should be part of the Compact.  It makes getting gifts even better.

. . .

I did have another Compact revelation this week.  I have mentioned before about my frustrations with Freecycle.  I know it is a staple of the true Compact lifestyle.  The concept of getting used items from others when they are done with them and putting your own items into circulation is what keeps the Compact a viable entity.  I wanted to be part of the circle.  I had even collected a bag of miscellaneous items to post on the local site.  Unfortunately I never prioritized to get the posts actually written.  (I know, they only need to be one sentence each.)  After Baby S arrived I really needed to make some space in our room so the bag ended up going to Goodwill.  Still the used goods bandwagon so not a terrible loss but I wouldn’t be getting my “shop now” card from Freecycle.

When our air mattress developed yet another slow leak I refused to take it out of the living room until I had posted it on Freecycle.  I didn’t think I’d actually get any takers for an air mattress that had 3 patches and needed yet another but I hated the idea of sending all that vinyl to the landfill.

I spent over two hours corresponding with 7 or 8 interested parties and coordinating pick-up with the lucky taker.  If I had actually posted all the items I had previously collected I couldn’t have possibly handled the response time based on what I got for an air mattress that leaves you on the hard floor by morning.  I’m not cut out for Freecycle.  I accept it.

Before I get comments about how the system works let me say again, I’m okay not being a Freecycler.  Really.  I am much happier about the 2 hours I spent making my own envelopes out of pages from old magazines.  And then printing the prettiest little address labels for them.  I even made my own stickers to seal them up with.  (I’m not bragging, really, just remembering fondly.)  That’s time well spent to me.  And it’s all part of the Compact.   Take what works and build a life to be enjoyed.  That’s what I say.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

refuse re-use

A little must share.  Okay, not so little but a definite must share.  ReadyMade Magazine (a great mag and site for all you DIYers) has a a great article about how to beat the summer heat.

dumpster pool

Pool Party!

If you have access to an industrial dumpster (or 3) and a really big trash bag this could be a fun weekend project.  Personally, I have nowhere to keep my dumpster so I’m keeping my eyes out for any installations by Macro-Sea that pop up in my neighborhood.  If you’re in Brooklyn be sure to check out the test site and grab your towel.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

how green are you willing to go?

Gabrielle, over at Design Mom, took the plunge and went green.

And it’s gorgeous.


An old family piano that was in need of expensive restoration or replacement, both of which were out of the family’s budget, became a signature piece with just a little time and paint.

Unless your piece is a valuable antique don’t be afraid to get creative.  For the cost of a quart of paint (or less if you go Compact in how you acquire paint), you can be green, blue or cherry red.  Why replace, when you can re-do?

What can you add a little color too?

*I recommend low VOC paint for your projects.  Even if you’re not going green you can still be environmental about it.

Friday, May 22, 2009

friday forum

Another week with nothing to throw away.  I have to admit, I feel like I’m doing something wrong.  I mean really, if Kristen at The Frugal Girl (she’s the reason I tell you this each week) has waste how can I not?

I must not be cooking properly.  Or it’s because I don’t use fresh herbs.  They intimidate me.

I have a 2″ square of tofu that will be up next week if I don’t think of something to do with it fast.  Maybe an egg and tofu scramble this weekend could save me on that one.

I was also saved of some previously claimed waste.  That’s right, I’m reclaiming my waste.


ignore the moldy bread, it's the freezer burned chicken in the bag

The chicken in this photo is no longer waste.  Thanks to the great recommendations by Jonathan Bloom’s readers over at Wasted Food I will be using it for some soup in the near future.  Check out his post about my near wasted food and you will see what else I won’t be throwing away.  If you have something in the fridge or cupboard that you just don’t know what to do with, tell Jonathan.  He’s sharing our sad stories on his blog to help end the wasted food franchise.

Maybe between Jonathan and Kristen we will have to find something else to talk about on Fridays.


Oh wait, I have something else to talk about.


I was recently directed to check out Zero Waste Alliance.  Their thinking behind waste may be considered inovative by some, nothing new by others, and quite genius by me.

Waste is a resource in disguise.  It represents a failure of our processes and products and a loss of money.  We recommend that the entire concept of waste should be eliminated from our thinking and the word resource be substituted.

If only we could teach everyone to think of the object they hold in their hand when they think they are done with a product as a resource ready to be turned into something else instead of something to be gotten rid of by the quickest means possible.  (I know some of you already think this way [okay maybe not the run-on sentence part, or the parenthesis inside parenthesis part], this is directed at the people who will probably never read this blog unless they come across it while doing a search on Eddie Vedder and Twitter.  Hey, it happens.)

Zero Waste Alliance is doing just that.  In fact,

  • Interface, Inc. in Atlanta, Georgia has eliminated over $165M in waste.
  • Xerox Corp., Rochester, New York has had a Waste-Free Factory environmental performance goal since the early 1990’s. The criteria include reductions in solid and hazardous waste, emissions, energy consumption and increase recycling. This program resulted in a savings of $45M in 1998.
  • Hewlett Packard in Roseville, California reduced its waste by 95% and saved $870,564 in 1998.
  • Epson in Portland, Oregon has reduced its waste to zero and has saved $300,000.

How cool is that?


Another cool thing that’s really taking off.  Have you noticed all the press The Story of Stuff has been getting recently?  Not only did The Huffington Post and NPR each do pieces this month but it made the front page of the New York Times.  (Actually, the HP and NPR pieces followed the release of the NYT story, but press is press right?)  If you’re not one of the 6 million that have seen this 20 minute look at all the stuff in our lives, you really must check it out.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

freecycle is a time killer


I have posted about Freecycle in the past.  In theory, it is a truly wonderful idea/organization/site/tool.  But it isn’t always friendly to the newbie.

I’m a newbie.

Or a voyeur.  Or a lurker.

Okay, those sound bad.  Let’s just say I’ve been reading the posts but haven’t ventured into the free water yet.  I always read what’s wanted in case I have it to give.  Never have.  I responded to a couple of items that were offered, but didn’t get them. Then I tried to do a wanted post, that didn’t go so well either.  Apparently my local Freecycle groups have rules that you must offer something before you can ask for something.

Who made these rules?

I guess I can agree with them in theory but it’s really put a damper on my free-swapping.  When I first started the Compact I was fine with the idea of getting things in a more nontraditional manner.  But when I have to “sell” something before I can “buy” something I have issues.

I don’t have a lot of stuff to get rid of.  Yes, that’s a boast.  Many Compactors have taken their pledge as an opportunity to clear clutter.  Good for them.  I hate clutter.  I cleared most of my clutter years ago.  I’ve spent the last 4 years clearing my husband’s clutter.  Clutter gives me hives.

I know your thinking I must have stuff to get rid of if I have also spent the last several years buying things.  And you’re right.  But until this year I was the thrift store’s best friend.  At least twice  a year I would drop off whatever I had collected that just wasn’t needed anymore.  Clothes, shoes, bags, books, whatever.

Now I’m hip to the Free world.  When we cleaned the closets last month and had more clothes than some large families we donated them to the local mission.  But as it was the closets there wasn’t a lot there besides clothes.  Clothes closets.  Get it?  But I do have a small bag of things that didn’t end up at the mission ready to be set free.  (Tired of the corny yet?)  I just haven’t had taken the time to write up numerous posts for random shit stuff on the off chance other people may want it.

And I have needs.  In true Compact fashion I got the parts to fix a clock we already owned.  Okay, it wasn’t entirely Compact as I bought the parts.  But since they were pretty specific parts I didn’t have much faith I would find them on Freecycle.  Plus, pay attention, I can’t ask until I give.  I’m behind on the giving, so I gave to Michael’s art store instead.  Let’s not lose focus, the point here is I was fixing something instead of replacing it.  (Helpful tip: don’t change the time on a clock by forcing the hands around the face.  Or don’t let someone not familiar with that tip near said clocks at Daylight Savings Time.)

Where is this all going, you ask?  Can I get to a point?  Any point?  Soon?

Okay, okay.  The point is, my newly acquired clock parts require painting.  With spray paint.  I don’t have any spray paint.  I asked a group of friends if they had any spray paint.  Not a one did.  Who knew black spray paint was so hard to come by.  And here’s the kicker, I need about 3 spurts of it.  Less than it would take to paint a 3 inch square.

So now I have time on my hands.  I want my clock back but I’m not willing to buy paint.  And I could probably find some on Freecycle but I’m not allowed to ask.

What’s an even bigger waste of time?  The fact that I could have written all the posts I needed to get rid of my stuff in the amount of time I have spent typing this.  But then what would you read?  And sometimes complaining is good for the soul.  Okay, not really.  But that’s what I tell myself because sometimes I feel the need to complain.

If you feel the need to complain go ahead.  About Freecycle.  About me.  About whatever.  Feel free.

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