Eco-unfriendly Styrofoam coolers give me the “chills!”

Summer is in full swing and sadly, to me, it feels like it’s half over.  I always consider summer a brief 10 week experience (now that we have kids in school), but that’s my own issue.

cooler-foamAnyhow, while I’ve been out and about with my family enjoying the “first half”, one thing keeps catching my eye… Styrofoam coolers.  I almost can’t believe that these things still exist.  I understand that they are a matter of convenience, but with some forethought, it’s easy to be prepared and no one should ever need a ‘single use’ cooler. It pains me to see them sitting next to garbage cans and knowing that they’ve become trash.  And I imagine that after purchasing a few Styrofoam versions, you could probably own a decent cooler of your very own.

My mom actually taught me the amazing insulating ability of newspaper.  Layers of newspaper, wrapped around whatever you need to keep cold in transit, does an incredible job of holding the cold.  This newstrick even works to keep items hot.  I used newspaper to keep our kids’ baby food warm when we went out to dinner, so they could have their food right along with us.  And the best part is that afterward, it can be recycled instead of thrown in the trash.

I just really want Styrofoam coolers to disappear! The problem is this… even if they disappear from store shelves, they still won’t disappear – they’ll live on in a landfill for about 500 years!

A better way to recycle boxes?

It seems like we are constantly winding up with boxes in our household.  Something gets purchased and shipped, and voila… another box that has me feeling guilty.  (I won’t even begin to discuss the guilt of those boxes that arrive packed full of shipping peanuts and bubble wrap or are obnoxiously overpackaged.)

box-cycleOne of my best friends, Kev, recently moved from the west coast, and he and his partner, Will, spent a small fortune buying moving boxes, then labored over what to do with them afterward.  Another friend’s husband nearly loses sleep over all of the boxes at his work that wind up in the trash on a daily basis.

But what if there is a better way?  Well, there is.  A relatively new site Boxcycle.com is working hard to help us find boxes we need and sell those we don’t.  You can search for boxes in your area or list boxes that you are willing to part with, before they have to hit the recycle bin.  And isn’t it the most environmental choice to reuse rather than recycle?cardboard-boxes2

I absolutely love this idea.  It’s the exact reason eBay, Craig’s List and Freecycle are so successful, but with a very environmental, targeted offering.  You can actually buy and sell boxes, so yes, there is a cost involved, but isn’t that a win-win situation? You can buy them for much less than brand new, and you can sell them and earn a little money if you have some to get rid of.  And the environmental impact?… well, it keeps them out of landfills and in that beloved “reuse” category.

It would be great if business owners and employees would get in on this action. Imagine NOT driving past a dozen dumpsters a day and seeing them overloaded with cardboard boxes!  And if you’re moving and need boxes, do a search.  If you just need boxes, do a search!  If you have a bunch to sell, get them listed!

So send your unneeded boxes on an adventure.  In the words of Dr. Seuss, “Oh, the places you’ll go!”

Number 5 plastic is not so “trashy” afterall!

Yes… Number 5 plastic. She has a reputation, and it’s not good!

(Why am I calling Number 5 a “she” anyhow?  For all the problems she causes, maybe we should officially make Number 5 a “he”… sorry gents!)

But we all know Number 5.  These shiny plastic containers always seems to find their way into our homes, but many curbside recycling programs don’t accept them, and they leave us feeling guilty after we enjoy our yogurt and other “5” products.  Unfortunately, I’ve also learned that often times, even if they are accepted, they aren’t truly ‘recycled’ because they get sent to Asia to be burned for energy.  Not exactly an environmental outcome.

So let me help you with that guilt… with thanks to Preserve.  There are two ways to recycle these plastics and prevent them from hitting the landfill:  drop off your Number 5s at a Whole Foods Market or mail them directly to Preserve.  They’ll turn them into toothbrushes, razors, tableware, kitchenware and a bunch of household items, all manufactured here in the USA!

The cycle can even continue if you send your Preserve toothbrushes and razors BACK to Preserve and they’ll be re-recycled into plastic lumber for park benches, decking, etc.  If you can find the time to collect them, drop them off or mail them in, these plastics will get the recycling they deserve.  And this is truly the epitome of “reuse”!

Finally, a solution for the “Number 5 guilt” and a way to change that “trashy” reputation!

Mom Goes Green’s 100th post… a holiday review!

Wow.  How does one even return after a big holiday?  (And wow!  My 100th post… how did I get here?!?)

It was undoubtedly amazing to see the wonder of Christmas morning through the eyes of our kids as they marveled at all of the goodies that Santa had packed and delivered in his sleigh… but likely quite annoying to them when I insisted that, before playtime began, they needed to collect the wrapping paper for recycling (despite my urging for alternative wrapping, it’s hard to convince a 3- and 6-year old that Santa decided to “go green” and was wrapping presents in newspaper this year!).

Maybe I should talk about how, during all of our Christmas gatherings, I tried to convince our party-goers that “real” plates and cloth napkins were “okay with me” because they don’t create excess waste, and running the dishwasher and a load of laundry was better than the alternative.  Or how, when visiting other’s homes, I tried to use real glasses and plates instead of their throw-aways!

Or maybe I should talk about how kid’s toys are so overpackaged that I am cringing at the fact that, for the first time in a long time, my garbage can is overflowing and I’m cursing all of the manufacturers for their over-abundance of unrecyclable materials… (does one PixOs package really need 17 different plastic bags?!?!).

Or perhaps I should tell you about how Mother Nature gifted us with an extraordinary day of 67 degree weather in Ohio, but I was also grumbling at her(!) because the day was spent outdoors cleaning up all of the leaves that were tucked in every corner of our yard (since an “early winter” prevented us from completing clean-up when the leaves were dry… and clean-up would have been SO much easier!)  She wrapped up the evening with such fierce winds that it bent the support pole of one of our outdoor decorative trees in HALF… could have done without THAT one, lady!

I should thank our families for recognizing that we have so much already that a ton of gifts were NOT needed… and they recognized that money is still an incredible gift when it is given with a “well, we just really wanted you to use this for something you needed, or wanted, instead of buying something you didn’t”… yes, moola is still a good gift!  And yes, an unused gift IS waste.

But I know I need to mention our most thoughtful gift… from our beloved friends, Jenn & Paul, who gifted us with a certificate from Kiva.org.  This certificate allowed us to donate our gifted money to a “working poor” recipient of our choosing.  We selected a man in Tajikistan who desperately needed money to buy seeds for farming and help support his family.  Over the holiday $1.3 million dollars were given and EVERY recipient was granted their full loan!  Once they are able to repay the loan, we are given back our donated money to grant to another needy recipient… and this wonderful cycle starts all over again!  Amazing, what a difference was made around the globe by so many people who thought far beyond traditional gift giving and decided, instead, to help those who really need it!  Thanks, Jenn & Paul!  We LOVED the gift that we were able to “re-gift”!!!

In conclusion, I guess I should just say that it was a wonderful Christmas… because it was, and we are blessed.  We have each other and that’s all that really matters.

I truly hope your holiday was one to remember… and full of cheer, love and the real spirit of Christmas!

Six ounces of book in a two foot box.

Christmas is just about here!  The house is decorated, the tree is trimmed, the stockings are hung, and the presents are purchased… and then the final gift arrived via UPS.  Yippee!

Sounds like I should be relieved, so why am I sitting here in awe, slowly shaking my head and muttering “Where, oh where, has the common sense gone?”  I think it’s because, instead of me being the one who has gone mad, someone in the shipping department at Amazon has lost their marbles.

I was waiting on a little “Tinkerbell” paperback book for our daughter (a book that, mind you, had her burst into tears when we visited her school Book Fair {it was the only book she really wanted} and we discovered it was sold out!)  So, yes, the book was incredibly important but I was sickened with how it arrived.

This little book, costing all of $3.99, arrived in a box (including a bunch of air pillows!) that was so large it could have safely shipped at least 75 of them.  Overpackaging at its excessive worst!  WHAT was someone thinking?  I guess they weren’t… or they got confused… or they ran out of boxes and this was the only one left… (a size that could have fit a MacBook and packing materials, for pete’s sake!).

All this after our son’s book arrived the day before, BENT IN HALF, smashed next to a “Wall-e” DVD, in a box that barely FIT the DVD itself!  This does NOT make Mom Goes Green happy!  But how do we know this will happen and how do we stop it?  And how do we not feel guilty when a simple purchase breaks the fundamentals of our own “green rules”?

I don’t have a single answer for this.  It’s not easy complaining to Amazon… they make it really simple for them not to address your issues, beyond customer service.  If you know of a way to let them know, let ME know!  I just can’t imagine what guidelines they are following, but I personally think they stink… a big, fat, non-green stink!

… and I actually gave them kudos for their “Frustration Free Packaging”! Wake up, Amazon.  There is a LOT of work left to do!