So… what happens to your “other” plastic bags?

If you’re like me, you never shop without first being armed with your own reusable bags I never take plastic bags… yes, I mean never… well, almost never!

There abrd bg plasticre times when we’re forced to take plastic bags… not the kind that hold our purchases, but the kind that hold the food and products we buy.  I’m talking about bread bags, the plastic wrappers on our toilet paper and paper towels, the bags holding packaged produce, and even the plastic bags around the newspaper on our doorstep (I wish our newspaper-guy would stop doing that on sunny days!).

So, what do YOU do with those bags? While most curbside recycling doesn’t take them (ours doesn’t either), they ARE recyclable… and you don’t need curbside recycling to make it happen.

Now here’s the answer… you may have found yourself ignoring the plastic bag collection containers in your local grocery store or major retailers.  You might also assume that they’re only for the bags that come from the store… well, surprise!  THAT is the answer!plst bg bin

You can actually collect all of these extra bags and wraps at home and deposit them in this receptacle.  Most are made of the same materials as the grocery or retail bags – either high-density polyethylene (HDPE) or low-density polyethylene (LDPE) – so they can easily be added to this batch of recycle-bound bags!

The next time you have one of these bags or wrappers destine for the trash can, turn it into your collection bag…  stuff all the others inside and take them on a little trip to one of these bag bins.  You’ll be amazed at how quickly they accumulate and you’ll feel much better when they DON’T go into the trash!

My obsession with the “Magic Eraser”…

I am always, always an advocate of choosing the greenest way to clean our homes.  Sure it takes some getting used to, but really… do I want spray, pour and mist chemicals around my house?  Yea, not so much.

mag erasI buy some green cleaners and make some of my own, but I have a confession… I’m addicted to the Magic Eraser!

That would seem fairly harmless (being the only choice out of the “green realm”) but I can’t seem to find any credible information about this amazing little cleaning sponge.

I’ve seen “supposed” information that they’re made of formaldehyde (augh!) but I’ve also seen it debunked even more.  I read that it is made of melamine (the same stuff kids’ plates and cups are often made of, so essentially plastic) but while it disintegrates as it’s used, I wonder what this really “means”.  Does using green cleaners, kinda, I don’t know… cancel it out? Hmm?

I have also heard that the most active and prevalent ingredient is salt…supposedly that’s the magic abrasive that gives it its cleaning power … problem is, there is nothing on the package that tells you a THING about what it’s made of.

Honestly, I’m addicted… arm me with some green cleaners and a Magic Eraser and I will have anything spic and span in no time.  It can magically erase any stain, gmag eras 2rim and dirt, but I also want to get to the bottom of it.

Do you know? Have you heard anything?  Any resources for CREDIBLE information?  If YOU know, I’d love to know…

Please, please just don’t tell me I need to break my addiction…

Celebrate “America Recycles Day”!

America Recycles DayNovember 15 is “America Recycles Day”… a day that “encourages more people to join the movement toward creating a better natural environment by recycling and buying recycled products” and “promotes the social, environmental and economic benefits of recycling.”

Are you planning to celebrate?!?!

Once again this year, as the Recycling/Environmental Programs Chair at our children’s school, I’m promoting this great day by encouraging the kids to submit their best recycling tips and the favorite ways their families recycle. I’ll compile all of their great ideas and turn them into a recycling newsletter that will be sent home to each family.  Some will even win cool prizes, like recycled drink pouch pencil bags and recycled newspaper pencils from Terracycle, reusable (yet recyclable!) BPA-free water bottles and 100% recycled content “green” notebooks!  I don’t doubt that the response will be amazing… kids always have the best ideas!recycl items

So, as we celebrate the day, let’s remember WHY we recycle:
•    to reduce pollution
•    to save energy
•    to help the environment
•    to save natural resources
•    to keep trash out of landfills

And here are some things to think about …

  1. PLASTIC– it can take 20 years for a plastic bag to biodegrade and 250 years for a plastic cup!  Americans use 2,500,000 plastic bottles every hour(!) but if every household recycled just one of every 10 plastic bottles, it would keep 200 million pounds of plastic out of landfills each year!
  2. PAPER – it accounts for nearly HALF of what is sent to landfills and approximately 1 billion trees worth of paper are thrown away every year in the U.S.!  Plus, recycling one ton of paper would save enough energy to power an average American home for five months!
  3. ALUMINUM – an aluminum can is recycled and back on a store shelf in approximately 60 days, and just one recycled aluminum can saves enough energy to run a computer for 3 hours.  Last year cans that were NOT recycled and went to landfills were valued at $600 million!
  4. GLASS – a bottle in a landfill would take more than 4000 years to decompose, but glass never “wears out” and can be recycled forever! The energy saved from recycling one glass bottle can power a compact fluorescent bulb (CFL) for 20 hours.

ARC 2010Now is the time… TODAY is the day… let’s get to recycling!  As you can see, it makes a world of difference!

The 411 on recycling bottle caps…

beach trshDid you know that bottle caps are the second most littered items behind cigarette butts?  Did you also know that bottle caps are one of the top ten most common items found littered on beaches? Sad, isn’t it?

Most people might not give much thought to these little caps but they are becoming a big problem.  Overall, ALL types of caps are creating a problem because most of us don’t know whether or not they are recyclable.  Even if you’re like me and don’t buy bottled water or beverages in plastic bottles we all have mountains of caps that pass though our hands every day… everything from shampoo bottles to food product lids to soap and detergent containers.

So what do you do? Well, there are a few choices, so give these some thought:

  • Recycle with Aveda – these salons and stores will accept a variety of caps for recycling, including #5 twist caps, flips caps, jar lids and detergent lids and turn them into new lids for their products.  Find a location near you!
  • Recycle with Preserve – they also accept any #5 plastics (including yogurt containers) via mail or at any Whole Foods location and turn them into new Preserve products like toothbrush and razor handles, tableware and kitchenware.PVC cap
  • Give your local recycling a try – it’s sometimes difficult to figure out if your curbside recycling can actually recycle these caps but, if nothing else, include them in your recycling.  They cannot be processed with a batch of #1 and #2 commonly recycled plastics because there is a 100 degree difference in their melting points.  But if they can’t recycle them, they will be removed and at least properly disposed of, which is certainly better than letting them become litter!  Just make sure you detached the lids and caps from the container so they can be easily sorted out at the recycling facility.

So, what can’t be accepted? Well, that would be medication bottle caps, metals lids, pumps and sprayers.  These are unfortunately destined for the garbage can so, whenever possible, make wise choices when you make purchases.  Remember that buying larger containers means fewer lids too!

That’s it… the real deal on caps and lids.  Let’s just do our part to make sure we help remove them from any “most littered lists!”

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch: words from its “founder”…

Through all 292 posts from Mom Goes Green my most popular post (by far!) discussed the Great Pacific Garbage Patch… the sickening, swirling area of approximately seven million tons of plastic debris and waste floating in the Pacific Ocean that is roughly twice the size of Texas (and some say, twice the size of the entire U.S.).  Some even believe it is worse than we originally expected.

It troubles me to no end.  Recently Charles Moore, the unfortunate “founder” of this garbage patch, was a guest on David Letterman.  While this isn’t the most scientific forum I can think of, if it gets the message out to millions of viewers, well, that works for me!  Take a look at the interview, including Part II.

He also shares some of his heartbreaking discoveries in this presentationhow can we turn a blind eye to this undeniable destruction?

So what do we do about all of this? We need, I repeat, NEED to decrease our dependence on plastics. While we can’t un-do the damage that has been done, we can help slow the ongoing contribution of this disgusting, harmful garbage that is polluting our oceans, waterways, wildlife, fish and, ultimately… US!

Recently our family also visited a beach on Lake Erie.  While the kids were playing on the beach and I looked for sea glass (okay… in this case, LAKE glass) I was also heartbroken to find more plastics than anything else washed ashore.  Sadly, what I encountered was bottles, bottle caps, lighters, pens, tampon applicators, plastic bags, combs, brushes, and plastic toys… this isn’t a narrative on Cleveland, this is an example of human neglect for our planet… everyday, everywhere.

Please, think about what you are buying. Think about where it goes when it is discarded.  Think about the irreversible damage that is created.  We can do better… a lot better.