Posts tagged ‘recycle’

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

tossed and found

Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.

That’s a pretty good adage when it comes to making the most of our possessions.  But what about the re-make aspect?  To me, that’s where the real fun lies.  I think the Wary Meyers agree.

They found not only the use-ability but also the humor in their used up stuff.  Their new book, Wary Meyers’ Tossed and Found Book is definitely on my Wish List.  I especially love the how-to sketches and behind-the-scenes planning pages.

By scrounging through flea markets and trash bins the Meyers have found items that lived a great life and given them a whole new existence.  Basketball hoop turned side table anyone?  From garden to dining table – ceiling?

If you’re inspired, check out a great article about John and Linda Meyers on Design*Sponge.

via Make

Monday, October 26, 2009

hang in there

I know I went AWOL.  This past week has shown me the true challenges of having small children.  It’s them or this.  I’m sorry, I chose them.  I don’t get on the computer when Toddler L is at home unless he’s sleeping.  When he sleeps I need Baby S to be cooperative and either sleep or sit comfortably so I can work.  That didn’t happen this week. 

Someday I’ll figure out how to work in my sleep.

On a completely unrelated note, check out this idea…


I have always really liked the look of an eclectic grouping of pictures.  Now that grouping can be useful as well as beautiful.

Grab some thrift-store frames, fiberboard and lovely paper.

Cabinet knobs and pushpins hold necklaces and bracelets. Earrings dangle from lengths of ribbon hung horizontally across a frame.  Brooches and pins slide easily into a corkboard backed frame.

I’m thinking yes. 

Now if only I could get my hands on that gorgeous bag too.

via DIYIdeas

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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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.

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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Friday, April 10, 2009

green traveler seeking blue bin

Vacation.  It should be a time of relaxation right?  Then why am I more stressed about this coming trip than any I have ever taken?  And I’m not talking about what to wear or what we’ll do.  I’m thinking more about what we need to pack.  On the way home.

I have become more aware of my impact on the planet and how to reduce it.  This is a good thing.  And in my nice, tidy little world I have quite a bit of control over it.  All my control is gone when I travel.  Okay, not all.  But enough that it makes me anxious.  I feel like I need to pack an extra large suitcase so I can bring back all of our cans, bottles and papers that won’t get recycled depending on where we are.  Crazy, I know.  But once I buy something I feel like I’m responsible for it, including it’s proper disposal.

This weekend we are headed to Portland.  It’s one of the most environmentally aware cities in the country.  I have high hopes that we won’t see as much plastic and waste.  But I’m also realistic.

So, do I take that extra suitcase or just live with the guilt that I can’t be responsible for everything everywhere?

Here are some tips I found.  They don’t answer my questions but they are good to keep in mind.

  • Along with your cutest sundress, flip-flops and biodegradable sunscreen (it’s Portland, we won’t need any of these things – unfortunately), remember to include a reusable water bottle, a to-go mug for your morning coffee and a reusable shopping bag.  I already carry my own water bottle, but I like the idea of my coffee mug too.
  • You may be able to find recycling at rest areas so bring along extra bags to sort these in the car.  This doesn’t really apply to an air travel trip, but will still be on the look-out for blue bins wherever we are.
  • If you get to the beach and you find that you’ve forgotten to bring along a volleyball, look for a store that specializes in used equipment. With any luck you can sell it right back to them at the end of your stay.  I think this is an untapped business idea.  I can just see equipment stands every half mile down the beach like the lifeguard stations.
  • Ask ahead before booking at a campground or hotel about their recycling capabilities.  I didn’t do it ahead of time but I will definitely be asking when we check into our hotel.
  • Bring your own toiletries in reusable containers rather than using then tossing the mini shampoos that hotels provide.  This one gets mixed reviews.  It’s a good idea, but those hotel containers also become the travel toiletries for all the husband’s business travel. So bringing them home is almost like recycling.

There you have it.  I’ll be precycling what I can, checking out the local thrift stores as part of our entertainment and maybe even get in a Zip Car ride while there.

I guess I should just relax and enjoy the ride.

♦ ♦ ♦

On a completely different green note, I’ll leave you with this.  It has nothing to do with travel, I just thought it was a great idea.


low-maintenance idea for adding a touch of green: succulents in cordial glasses

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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

creative license with the compact

Talking about how Compact my life is can be…well, compact.  Sometimes there’s just not much there.  Because of my husband’s and my decision to have another child instead of sending me back to work (thank you husband!), we are also living a more cost conscious life.  Call it frugal if you must.  I call it…our life.

So this blog has become something of a morphosis project for me.  It is a platform for me to talk about what’s on my mind.  Whatever that is.  Like, how can we get back to Laura Ingalls as a role model for our little girls instead of Britney Spears.  No, that wasn’t really on my mind.  But now it is.  Glad I have boys.

All digressions aside, I just don’t have anything to say about how living a Compact life has affected me today.  Instead, I”ll tell you how it’s going to affect me in the future.  Here are six projects I’d like to try.  Why are they Compact?  Because they all involve using recycled materials.  And isn’t that the basis of how to live a Compact life?  That was rhetorical, I just want to see how many times I can say Compact in one post.


You still there??

Thought I’d lost you.  Back to the projects…


I am a sucker for a monogram.  I might be working on this one tomorrow. Round up scraps of pretty patterned paper and a few frames. Cut a piece of patterned paper to fit the frame opening. Die-cut or hand-cut an oversize monogram and, if desired, a mat. Mount the initial to the patterned-paper background with adhesive foam, add the mat, if using, and slide the assembly into the frame.


I have a mission.  Collect as many frame pendants and frame pendant wanna-be’s that the thrift stores have to offer.  This may take a while, but I think this project might be worth it.  Love the charm of it.  (sorry couldn’t resist.) Use up even the tiniest pieces of leftover or favorite fabrics with these wineglass charms. Cut small squares of selected areas of the fabric and insert each into a frame pendant. Earring-hoop wire threaded through the pendant loop makes it easy to attach the charm to a wineglass stem.


I love decorative balls.  All the different kinds Crate and Barrel, Anthroplogie, Z Gallerie and every other corner design store have been pushing as must haves for the well photographed home.  Now who’s got the last laugh?  And the last dollar saved? An easy craft to make, these fabric-wrapped balls use up scraps from your stash and can be displayed in a pretty bowl. Cut strips from coordinating fabrics and use glue to adhere them to foam balls. Select a variety of fabric patterns and use both small and large balls for extra interest.


This is a definite favorite!  I always said I can’t draw without a ruler.  Now they have an even better use in my studio. Use a miter box to cut old yardsticks to length, creating colorful and graphic photo mats that turn basic frames into works of art.


Next time I see a Hannah Montana suitcase at the thrift store I’m grabbing it.  I always worried about the girls that just had to have such things.  Guess they have a higher purpose after all. A small suitcase from a secondhand store becomes a graphic and colorful storage unit when prettied up with paper and paint. Remove and paint the hardware. Decoupage the case with scrapbook paper. Replace the hardware, securing it with metal glue and decorative brads painted the same color.


I’m more of a favorite old mug kinda gal, but any excuse to have a wood plane sitting on my desk has my attention. Turn an old wood plane into an all-in-one desk set simply by drilling a few holes. Look for inexpensive or damaged planes at flea markets, garage sales, and auctions.

All images and ideas borrowed directly from the Better Homes and Gardens website.

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