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”.

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!

Upcycle with TerraCycle… joining the “Brigades”!

Mom Goes Green is now also “Upcycle Mom” to 400 kids… the kids at our daughter’s elementary school, that is!

We’ve finally joined TerraCycle in their “Drink Pouch Brigade”.  If you know TerraCycle you probably know all about their products, but if you don’t know about their brigades, let me give you the rundown…

terracy prodsFirst of all, keep in mind that each year literally BILLIONS of non-recyclable drink pouches get tossed in the trash and wind up in landfills… fortunately, along came TerraCycle.  They upcycle this otherwise worthless trash and convert the used drink pouches into fashion bags, tote bags, pencil cases, and a whole slew of other items for kids and adults.  All you have to do is save the drink pouches, send them to TerraCycle and earn a little cash for your school, organization or charity of your choice.

Sure the financial part is a little incentive, but more than that (to me!) is the idea of all the trash that is being salvaged, upcycled and put to use.  Anytime something DOESN’T go in the trash can (thus the landfill), I’m one happy green momma!

These programs are perfect for schools, community groups, Boy Scout or Girl Scout troops, youth groups, churches… you name it… any group can do it and make quite a contribution to the planet.  terracy logo

And it’s not just drink pouches… they also collect yogurt cups, candy and cookie wrappers, chip bags, glue sticks and glue bottles… there is a list of 25 brigades, so something is sure to fit.

I’m ready to go and lead my little troops in the Drink Pouch Brigade.   Now, if I suddenly stop blogging, could someone please come over and rescue me from under the mountain of drink pouches where I’m likely to be buried?!?

Leafware Giveaway: Win tableware from Mother Nature!

(This post is now closed for entries.  See “Comments” for the winner.)

Usually the mere mention of “fallen leaves” makes me groan and roll my eyes, because it means I’ll have a rake in my hands for hours on end cleaning up my yard.  This time I was grinning from ear to ear, because the leaves arrived neatly packaged in a box… and there was absolutely no raking involved!

leafwareEnter: Leafware! The coolest use (ever!) for fallen leaves… think plates and bowls, all courtesy of Mother Nature.  They have created this fabulous line of tableware that is made entirely of naturally shed leaves.  They are collected, pressure-washed, scrubbed, sun dried, compressed and then sterilized to create this unique, eco-friendly and 100% biodegradable and compostable dinnerware.

Imagine being able to actually use disposable tableware without guilt!  Use them for hot or cold foods, in the microwave, the oven, the refrigerator, the freezer (or take them on a picnic!)… and when you’re finished, they degrade in 60 days in the composter.  The bigger bonus is that they are really beautiful so they can be used for any event, from casual to even your fancy-schmanciest occasion! They are that fantastic!

The fine folks at Leafware want to give a Mom Goes Green reader the chance to give them a try.  They are offering:leafwr squar

  • (12) 9″ Square Plates
  • (12) 8.6″ Round Plates
  • (12) 7″ Hexagon Snack Plates and
  • (12) 7″ Bowls

I know you want them(!) so leave a comment saying you’d like to win and tell me how you’d like to use them, or send a Twitter message that includes a reply to @momgoesgreen and a link to this blog. This giveaway has an approximate $50 value(!) and the winner will be selected one week from today’s post. (US entries only… sorry!)

Leafware is definitely doing something great here… now if I could just convince them to make a “pick-up” of all of my backyard leaves next Fall, I would be beaming! 🙂

Black, orange and GREEN your Halloween!

green pumpkinThis post is long overdue since the ghosts and goblins of Halloween are beginning to gather for a spook-tacular night!  This is often a season where we can simultaneously go fabulously green AND bust the radar on breaking the rules!

If you still have plans in the works here are a few things to remember when you want to lean toward the greener end of the dial!

  • Decorations – nature provides the greatest resources!  Pumpkins, gourds, cornstalks, leaves, Indian corn… all gifts of nature can be used for fabulous decorations and composted afterward.  Because we have a ravine behind our house, all of them go down the hill to be recycled by Mother Nature (and devoured by the animals that haven’t already abused them for a special “treat”!)
  • Costumes – your own closets and drawers can be an amazing costume store.  Get creative and go to town!  Consignment stores and thrift shops are also great resources and a far better choice over purchasing new.  And reconsider face paint unless it’s homemade and non-toxic – the FDA does not regulate them, so you or your children could face some nasty chemical exposure and a reaction that’s even worse!jack-o-lantern
  • Treats & candy – buy organic candy or simply be aware of those that are over-packaged to avoid a lot of excess trash.  Or forgo the candy all together and instead give pencils made of recycled materials, paper pads or stickers.  All are better than coated papers that wrap tons of candies.  And avoid a bunch of plastic trinkets that will eventually meet the trash.
  • Treat bags & “loot collectors”! – instead of buying cellophane bags, buy themed or Halloween-colored paper bags.  Instead of buying a big plastic pumpkin for trick-or-treating, buy a reusable bag.  You can find them anywhere and everywhere!
  • Parties – there are lots of ways to be greener but start by using fabric table cloths instead of disposable plastic.  Reusable dinnerware is best, or even uncoated plates and cups that could be composted… but at the very least, avoid a bunch of disposable plastic.
  • Crafts & games – try making crafts using recycled materials.  Cans and jars can be turned into great Halloween candy holders!  And try a game of “Rotten Pumpkin” (instead of “Hot Potato”) with a small pumpkin or “Pin the Nose on the Jack-o-Lantern” (use a homemade paper jack-o-lantern and paper noses – all materials can be recycled afterward!)
  • Make good use of the excess – if your children collect an overabundance of candy (that you don’t want them to have), consider taking it to a homeless shelter instead of throwing the majority of it away.

This list is frightfully late but there is always time to keep it “EEK-O”-friendly! (Okay, I can be “boo’ed”   for that one!  Wait… I just did it again, didn’t I?… never mind… just keep it green for Halloween, and ENJOY!)