Simple green tip: Ditch your disposable pen habit!

Fpen grnACT: Each year, in the United States alone, we discard and send 1.6 BILLION plastic disposable pens to landfills.  Take a look at what that number actually looks like:  1,600,000,000

Mind-boggling, isn’t it?  And it is believed that most components of those pens will never biodegrade either… (and the image just got uglier, didn’t it?)

The better solution?  Invest in a refillable pen. The refills are no more expensive than disposable pens and the waste they produce is substantially less.

The pen may be “mightier than the sword,” but the refillable pen is “mighty green”.

Chemicals in deodorants are really the “pits!”

Most of us never give much thought to the deodorant we apply daily… after all, don’t all moms naturally smell like roses?… yea, I know, not always but dare to dream!

toms deod lineThere is a problem though… common commercial deodorants contain all sorts of frightening chemicals, including Aluminum Chlorohydrate (linked to brain disorders), Parabens (linked to breast cancer), Propylene Glycol (commonly used in manufacturing antifreeze!), Triclosan (linked to the development of antibiotic resistance) and Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (a known carcinogen!).  Who wouldn’t want to avoid these chemicals?!?

Lately, I’ve been using Tom’s of Maine.  Those of us entrenched in the “green world” have probably heard of their products since they are easily found in major retailers, but it wasn’t as easy when I realized that it was probably time for our 8-year old daughter to consider some deodorant of her own.jv Nat deodor

Luckily I finally discovered Junior Varsity Naturals and honestly, I never imagined it would be so easy to convince my little lady to take-on this armpit task each day!  Their products are made of only safe, chemical-free botanicals, so I don’t have to worry about her putting toxic ingredients on her body just for the sake of hygiene.  And she looooves the smell… they have a Cherry Blast for girls and Citrus Sport for boys (all natural scents), so as soon as my little athlete is ready for some pit-assistance, I know he’s covered too.

If I can convince you of nothing else, please just avoid anti-perspirants. These are the products that contain dangerous Aluminum Chorohydrate to seal our pores and prevent sweat, but it’s being absorbed into our bodies every day!

There is nothing glamorous in the discussion of underarms, but even less attractive is the reality of the dangerous chemicals that enter our body as a result of wanting to smell more pleasant… now that’s really, REALLY the pits!

Simple reuse tip: don’t cry over broken crayons…

cray brknWeekend fun for my family included a trip to the fabulous Cleveland Museum of Natural History.  A visit in their Discovery Center had me tucked next to my daughter (at an all-too-small-table for an adult, mind you!) making leaf rubbings to decorate their tree mural (as every Ohioan is desperately awaiting the arrival of spring and the first sign of leaves!)

Immediately I was drawn to the crayons they had on the table.  They weren’t your run of the mill Crayolas, mind you… they had pizzazz!  My daughter loved them too and handed me a card with a simple “here you go, Mom…”.  Low and behold a recycled crayon recipe! (She knows me too well!)

My first thought was, “well… of course!  Why wouldn’t I recycle crayons?”  My second thought was, “I need to share this…” so (in case I’m not the ONLY mom who has never done this!) here’s the recipe:

  • Remove the paper from broken crayonscray rcycled
  • Place foil baking cups and their paper separators in the wells of a muffin pan
  • Fill cups ½ full with crayons (you can choose the same color family or multiple colors)
  • Put the pan in a 225 degree oven for about 15 minutes
  • Remove them from the oven and, if you’ve used multiple colors, give them a quick swirl with a toothpick
  • Cool to room temperature, remove from cups, break in half or quarters, and get ready to CREATE!

You can use these at home, give them as party favors or gifts, or even donate them to a school or art class.  If you’re wondering about the real value of recycling crayons consider this… statistics say that 90% of crayons get discarded once they get broken or the tips wear away, so yes… this is a worthy project.

And considering there are literally BILLIONS and BILLIONS of crayons sold and distributed each year (think how many you’ve left on restaurant tables!) and I must have at least a million broken crayons littering my house, I’ll never cry over an unloved, broken crayon again… I’ll just recycle ‘em!

Waste: when “carry-out” food gets “carried away”!

condi pktAhh… Fridays.  The infamous Friday night “Carry-Out Food and Movie Nite” in the Mom Goes Green household.  The night when I don’t have to think about “what’s for dinner” and instead can rely on the simple question of where to get the food.

While this has become a tradition for us, it also brings the concern of all the waste that can be created when I don’t do the cookin’!  Who hasn’t experienced this with their order?: large, rustling bag; unneeded plastic utensils; mountains of paper napkins; a sea of condiment packets; towers of containers; single-use cups… the list could go on and on (and that list has a harsh consequence for landfill waste).

So, consider this when placing your next order:

  • Coffee – Americans use approximately 15 BILLION paper coffee cups per year.  If your order includes coffee, bring your own cup… they’ll fill it for you.
  • Condiments – really, if you’re taking it home, you probably have the same condiments waiting for you in your refrigerator.  Instead of thinking “Well, I PAID for them”, think “No thanks.  I have them already” and they aren’t in a dozen tiny packets, cups and containers.
  • Napkins – skip ‘em.  Tell them you don’t need any since you probably already use cloth napkins at home…. righplst frkst? 🙂 Right.
  • Utensils – goes without saying… we all DEFINITELY have those at home, so tell them you don’t need them either.
  • Containers – many restaurants provide you with some decent containers but, while it’s nearly impossible to refuse them, you can reuse them.  Clean them, reuse them and consider them the next time you reach for a Ziploc or other disposable storage container.
  • Cups – I certainly voiced my dislike of all the kids disposable cups during a dine-in meal, but many of those are also reusable, for beverages, storing craft supplies and lots of other projects.
  • Bags – walk in with your own.  Tell them you don’t need their oversized plastic version… after all, you ALWAYS keep your reusable bags in your car…. riiiight?  🙂

If you follow all of these suggestions, imagine this… you would have zero-waste…. AND you would have a nice relaxing evening, with a clear conscience and absolutely zero cooking too!

“Superbugs”, antibiotics and drugs… oh my!

sup bug virMy recent post about avoiding antibacterial products actually got me thinking more about the issues of antibiotics, medications and even “superbugs”, as well as the proper disposal of unused medications. While we certainly want to avoid the products containing Triclosan (that can accumulate in our bodies and decrease the effectiveness of antibiotics), there are other important points about using antibiotics and medications that I want to be sure to share, so here goes…

When antibiotics ARE needed, it is very important to complete the dosage prescribed by your physician because failing to do so can also help create “superbugs”.  New term to you?  Well, by stopping antibiotic use BEFORE you have completed the full course means that the “stronger” of the bacteria can remain present in your body and they have the potential to rapidly multiply and cause you the same symptoms again.  This “survival” means they are more likely to become resistant to the drug and these “superbugs” are created.  (Kinda gives you the chills, huh?… me too!)

Along with this discussion it seems logical for us to remember about the proper disposal of unused drugs and medications.  In a post quite some time ago I talked about all the dangers of the common “flush factor”… those of us who flush medications down the toilet.  Baaaad practice!  This means they end up in our water sources since most water treatment facilities don’t have the ability to remove them.

That original post offered suggestions including contacting your local pharmacy to see if they have a program to properly dispose of medications or checking Earth911 to locate a drop-off in your community.

But, if you MUST dispose of them yourself, consider the greener, safer way to do it… to keep drugs out of our water sources and prevent soil contamination from landfills too:druggz

  • Keep them in the original container so they can be identified if they are found (but remove your personal information and identification).
  • Add water to pills to start dissolving them.
  • Add coffee grounds, sand or kitty litter to liquids to help absorb them.
  • Put the original container in a secondary container and securely tape the lid closed.
  • Put them deep in your trash.

The absolute best option is to find a safe disposal option, and as much as I dislike the idea of adding this trash to a landfill, it is certainly the option safer than adding them to the drinking water of you, me and… our kids!