Reuse, recycle or…. just GIVE IT BACK!

hangrzHow often are you given something you want to give back or never even asked for? (Well, I can think of about a dozen things when I think back to my wedding gifts.  Of course, my thoughts then were something like “my god, WHAT were they thinking!” ) But now I’m thinking more about the things that come our way from purchases or services.

Think about wire hangers from the dry cleaner, packing peanuts from shipments we receive, plastic bags that always seem to slip by us when we aren’t paying attention and burned out CFLs.

Well, they don’t need to become needless trash. Consider this the next time one of these things slip your way:

  • Wire hangers – (hopefully you’re using an eco-friendly dry cleaner!… but) take them BACK to your dry cleaner the next time you make a drop-off.  Most will accept them and reuse them.
  • Packing peanuts – even if they didn’t come from a UPS shipment, they will accept them with a smile and reuse them too.  Check here to find a location.packn peanutz
  • Plastic bags – if I’m not vigilant and paying attention, a cashier always seems to manage to slip one in on me.  Save them at home and many stores have collection bins at their entrance if your curbside recycling does not accept them.  And don’t forget about all of those “other bags” too (like bread bags, plastic wrappers, etc.)
  • CFLs – so many people get hung up on the mercury content in CFLs, but keep in mind that most still contain only enough mercury to fit on the head of a pin and each new generation of CFLs has even less.  However, when they finally do burn out, remember to dispose of them properly at your local Home Depot through their CFL Recycling Program.  They’ll take them off your hands for proper disposal, free of charge.

Now, as for those hideous items I received for wedding gifts, well those were “given” too… in the way of donation. They do say “one (wo)man’s trash is another (wo)man’s treasure!”

Simple tip: You don’t need an electric iron… ever.

wtr spray bttlSome people find comfort in ironing… I happen not to be one of those people. But who hasn’t pulled something out of a closet or drawer and thought “okay, if I wear this ‘as is’, someone will think I slept in it!”

Well, electric irons happen to use an extraordinary amount of energy to power, but I have a simple way to never plug-in an electric iron again… all you need is a simple sprayer bottle filled with water.

Depending on the garment or item all you need to do is the following:

  • Place the item on top of a flat surface, mist each side with water, smooth with your hands and give it about 15 minutes to dry. You can also hang the item and do the exact same.  On the fly, I’ve actually done this while WEARING the item!
  • For really stubborn wrinkles, saturate the area with water a bit more than a simple mist, smooth with your hands and give a bit more time to dry… and voila, goodbye wrinkles!
  • (For items that must be dry cleaned, remember these tips, but this will safely work even for dry cleaned items that get some wrinkles!)

Sure, it won’t save the planet, but truly, give it a try… it WILL save energy and you, too, may never plug-in another electric iron again!

Simple reuse/recycle tip: You CAN give back what you get…

hangrzHow often are you given something you want to give back or never even asked for? (Well, I can think of about a dozen things when I think back to my wedding gifts.  Of course, my thoughts then were something like “my god, WHAT were they thinking!” 🙂 ) But now I’m thinking more about the things that come our way from purchases or services.

Think about wire hangers from the dry cleaner, packing peanuts from shipments we receive, plastic bags that always seem to slip by us when we aren’t paying attention and burned out CFLs.

Well, they don’t need to become needless trash. Consider this the next time one of these things slip your way:

  • Wire hangers – (hopefully you’re using an eco-friendly dry cleaner!… but) take them BACK to your dry cleaner the next time you make a drop-off.  Most will accept them and reuse them.
  • Packing peanuts – even if they didn’t come from a UPS shipment, they will accept them with a smile and reuse them too.  Check here to find a location.packn peanutz
  • Plastic bags – if I’m not vigilant and paying attention, a cashier always seems to manage to slip one in on me.  Save them at home and many stores have collection bins at their entrance if your curbside recycling does not accept them.
  • CFLs – so many people get hung up on the mercury content in CFLs, but keep in mind that most still contain only enough mercury to fit on the head of a pin and each new generation of CFLs has even less.  However, when they finally do burn out, remember to dispose of them properly at your local Home Depot through their CFL Recycling Program.  They’ll take them off your hands for proper disposal, free of charge.

Now, as for those hideous items I received for wedding gifts, well those were “given” too… in the way of donation. They do say “one (wo)man’s trash is another (wo)man’s treasure!”

“Green” dry cleaning that won’t leave your head spinning.

I used to have a dry cleaning bill the size of Mount Everest.  Fortunately, with my departure from a professional job (although I am now a “professional mom” and should earn about $132K a year, but a paycheck never arrives!) the dry cdry-cleaningleaning bill is much, much smaller.

I never gave much thought to the chemicals and solvents used in dry cleaning –  namely Tetrachloroethylene, also known as Perchloroethylene or “Perc”.  It’s considered a carcinogen and is a danger for the workers cleaning the clothes and for us, once we bring our clothes home and they “off-gas.”  Just like that ‘new car smell’, you know the smell of dry cleaned clothes, right?  Well, it’s perc and known side effects include confusion, dizziness, fatigue, headaches, nausea and difficulty speaking and walking.  Well, all that for crisp, clean(?) clothes… I don’t think so!

Since my husband still has some occasional dry cleaning, it’s time to look for a green dry cleaner!  Start with Green Earth to help you locate one in your area.  They skip the harsh chemicals and use an environmentally safe process that replaces petroleum-based (harmful) solvents with liquid silicone.  Another process that is catching on is carbon dioxide cleaning.  When put under high pressure, it can carry biodegradable soap, just like water in our washing machine, and then is reused without harmful effects.  Just make sure your dry cleaner is actually using one of these processes.  There are plenty of “green impostors” out there!green_earth_logo

And if you do dry clean, here are a few more tips:

  1. Don’t throw the hangers away.  Remove the paper and recycle it, and whether they are plastic or metal, return them to the dry cleaner (since 85% of them wind up in landfills!).  You can also ask your cleaner about using paper hangers or EcoHangers too.
  2. Not all “dry clean only” garments truly require dry cleaning… it’s just a way for clothing manufacturers to protect themselves in case you do a shoddy wash job!  Give it some thought before you send it off for dry cleaning.
  3. Go less frequently – wait until you have a bunch of clothes to clean.  This will save some of those horrible plastic bags they place over our garments, because whether you have one item or six, they all get hung together with one bag.

Just remember, you CAN have crispy, clean, fashionable clothes without walking into walls and slurring your words, and worrying about what was left in the wake.