Earn a “green” star for back to school!

Am I obsessed and saddened that the summer is ending?  Yes, (obviously) because I am mentioning it constantly.  Is the end of summer inevitable?schoolbus Well, yes it is!

So, as we prepare for sending our children back to school it’s easy to become a little “spend happy” since every corner we turn seems to remind us to buy, buy, BUY!  Don’t fall victim to feeling like you have to go overboard.

This year, when we received our daughter’s supply list, the first thing I did was check what we already had.  I was surprised to find that we already had over half of the list… notebooks, pencils, glue, scissors, erasers, ruler, CHECK!  I actually kept a box of what was left over from last year, and I assure you, that bottle of Elmer’s glue that was still 2/3 full is perfect to get her started.  If you do need to buy, buy recycled:  pencils, paper, and even backpacks of recycled materials exist if you just look.

I’m happy to say that we also have a green lunchtime covered.  By using her waste-free lunch kit, I can rest easy that our daughter creates almost zero trash. Lunchboxes and reusable containers are both earth-friendly and economical because all of the single-serving foods are expensive in comparison.  (Still looking for a waste-free lunch kit?  There are still a few days to win one in my giveaway!)

The hardest part of preparing for school is outfitting your kids with a new wardrobe.  Little ones grow so quickly, but the older they get the slower star-greenthey grow.  Before you charge out to charge a new wardrobe, find out what still fits.  Don’t replace clothing before it’s been outgrown.  If it has, you can still be green by putting “reuse” into action.  Gather up the unneeded clothes, shoes, jackets and coats and donate them to an organization so those less fortunate have the opportunity to use them.  Even consignment shops or swaps with friends are an option and simply give more life to items that haven’t worn out their usefulness.

Whether you get teary-eyed at the idea of sending your kids back to school, or the first day couldn’t come soon enough (I will be a teary-eyed one!) be sure to earn a green star for your efforts before they go!

Vacation, nature, and a bit of irony…

Yes, summer is dwindling… and as I spend small portions of days preparing to send our kids back to school I keep running across reminders of the vacation that was nodunes-kidst so long ago, but seems so long ago.

The drive took us through breathtaking views of West Virginia mountains where we were awed by trees as far as the eye could see.  It was amazing to see so many undisturbed miles without areas cleared away for development.  My views on chopping down trees are no mystery.   Can you just imagine how invigorating the air in the middle of those mountains must be?

I think about our kids running wild over the Jockey’s Ridge sand dunes, the largest active dune system in the Eastern US.  What a difference to those treed mountains… conditions on the dunes are so harsh, vegetation can only grow on the outskirts.  But the sunset… ah, the sunset.   The silhouettes in this photo are actually our precious kids, standing where the top of the dunes (that are believed to have been formed millions of years ago) seem to meet the sky.

And what beach vacation doesn’t include lots of ocean time.  Just the sound relaxes me.  I could watch the waves for hours on end and I get seaglasswrapped up in how vast and amazing the ocean is.  The irony is that one of our favorite adventures was trying to find sea glass washed up on the shore.  This sea glass is actually glass that has found its way into the ocean and gets tumbled and smoothed by the water, sand and salt.  Every time we found one it was like finding a real gem and then I start to wonder what it came from, where it originated, who touched it before us and even how it wound up in the ocean.  Yes, ironic that Mom Goes Green and family found treasures in something that started as ocean litter!

The point of all of this is simply that experiencing the mountains, the sprawling dunes and the incredible ocean reminds me of another quote by Divamish Indian Chief Seattle:

“Take only memories, leave nothing but footprints.”

… tread lightly in our daily lives, because this planet is truly amazing!

A GIVEAWAY for Waste-Free, Guilt-Free Lunches!

(This giveaway is now closed for entries.  See “comments” for winner…)

As summer seems to be dwindling away, it’s time to put vacations and free time into the memory books.  Sad as it may be, it’s time to get back to business and and start thinking schooltime for the kids.  (Boo, hiss… this means Mom Goes Green will need to get back to plenty of “homework assistance” too!)

kids-konserve-22

One thing I don’t need to brush-up on, however, is how to send our daughter to school and keep her as waste-free as possible.  I’ve talked about all the best ways to keep 67 pounds of trash out of landfills when I send her off with lunch… ideas like a lunchbox, reusable bottles, thermoses and silverware, cloth napkins and plenty of reusable containers.

She is already equipped and ready to go with her “Waste-Free Lunch Kit” from Kids Konserve.  It includes a recycled cotton lunch bag, a stainless steel bottle, two stainless steel food containers, a food cozy (for wrapping foods) and a cloth napkin!

… and it just so happens, I have one to share! Are you interested?  To enter this contest, just leave a comment and tell me who you’d love to win this kit for… (maybe even yourself)! You can also send a Twitter message that includes a reply to @momgoesgreen and a link to this blog or write about this giveaway and link back.

A random winner will be selected one week from today’s post (US residents only, please… sorry!… and as a side note, the kit is exactly like the one pictured in the photo, so it does include lots of pink butterflies!).

So don’t sweat the “litter” stuff, just enter to win! Good luck!

Mom Goes Green takes a bite out of the Big (Green?) Apple!

I just returned from some grown-up fun in NYC… the Big Apple!  This time it was me and my husband only!  Amazing how simple life can be without kids in tow.nycity While neither of us like to leave our kids behind, it’s great to reconnect with your beloved!

We had a fantastic time and were conscious to keep the towels hung in the hotel (so they didn’t get a daily laundering), turn off lights and all that other good stuff, but it’s hard to feel like trekking around the city isn’t making a huge environmental impact.

We walked A LOT but I’m sure we took far too many cabs because (despite our many, many trips) we have never mastered their subway system.  So this led me to wonder, just how green in NYC?

I was surprised to learn that some recent research actually lists the Big Apple as #2 for the least wasteful cities in the US.  Problem is, this nyc-recyclesresearch was based on residents which total about 8.5 million.  But how many tourists visit the city each year?… 47 million.  Mind boggling!  That’s a lot of extra people creating trash.

While I did see some recycling receptacles around the city (one for cans & bottles and one for newspapers & magazines), they were still somewhat few and far between.  Even staying at the Hilton in Midtown didn’t provide much help (but I give them credit for all the CFLs!).  This time I didn’t cart a million things home because we ate in restaurants and didn’t make our own food, nor did we buy from street vendors and have a lot of disposable items, so aside from our addiction to cabs, we kept it fairly green.

Where did the othei-luv-nyr big cities rank?  As usual San Francisco stands proudly at #1.  But I still feel like most tourist cities aren’t doing all they can to see that their visitors have the proper resources to continue their green ways while contributing to local economies.

Aside from using public transportation or walking, keeping it green in your hotel room, and foregoing lots of disposables, what’s a traveler to do? Don’t get me wrong… I (still) love NY, but unless I get elected Mayor in each of these cities, I have absolutely no idea!

Prep your home for “away” before vacation “play”!

lampSometimes it’s easy to get so consumed with planning and preparing for a vacation that we forget about the home we’re leaving behind.

Before you leave, your house needs some special attention so it doesn’t continue to over-consume in your absence.  When you think about everything that’s drawing energy on a daily basis (and the things that an empty house doesn’t need), it’s time for a checklist.

Here are a few simple (and possibly overlooked) ideas to keep your home green while you vacation:

  • Turn off your air conditioning or, in the winter months, turn the heat to 55 degrees.
  • Make sure ceiling fans are turned off.fridge
  • Unplug nearly everything… computers, TVs, appliances, microwaves, lamps, coffee makers, all of it!  Look at every outlet in your house and most things can be unplugged in your absence.
  • Install timers on a few lights so your home still appears lived-in but they won’t glow 24 hours a day.
  • Dial down the temperature or switch off the breaker on your water heater.
  • Clear out as much food as possible in your refrigerator and freezer.  Less content means less to cool.

That’s all it takes.  A checklist and a little extra time and you can keep it green while you play away!