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!”

How to clean laundry without detergent (yes, it’s possible!)

SmrtKlean Laund BallSounds crazy, I know… but I’m not kidding.  You can actually skip the detergent in every load of laundry and STILL get your laundry clean.  Imagine what that means… okay, it means a whole bunch of things, but I’ll get to the point…

I’ve been using the SmartKlean Laundry Ball and it’s really amazing! The ball is made of recyclable thermoplastic and filled with little ceramic beads, each comprising a combination of earth minerals.  When they come in contact with water, they form oxygenated water that goes to work cleaning and deodorizing your laundry! I’m literally amazed at how well it works…

Imagine… NO detergent! So, there is (1) NO environmental impact, (2) NO potential health impact or skin sensitivity, (3) NO soaps or chemicals to shorten the life of your clothing & laundry, (4) NO need for a rinse cycle (water & energy savings!), (5) NO need for hot or even warm water (choose cold!), (6) NO extra packaging & bottles to recycle or (gasp!) throw away… impressive list of qualities, right?

I was really skeptical, but it’s really worked for me.  Sure, some of the tougher stains still require a little extra attention but that goes without saying, no matter what method of laundry cleaning you choose.  It still has plenty of use left in it tSmrtKlean logooo… in fact, one SmartKlean Laundry Ball = 365 loads of laundry! I think I might need to get a second one though… it works best on medium-sized loads (limited to about 18 lbs.) and I am notorious for overloading the washer!

I just think it’s an impressive product that literally eliminates some of the chemical and environmental concerns we have about the massive amounts of laundry we do every year. (If I could only teach the SmartKlean Laundry Ball to also dry, fold and hang my laundry, I’d probably buy seven of them!)

Check them out… maybe you’ll be willing to ditch your detergent too!

“Reusable” isn’t JUST for shopping bags anymore…

innob 2My kids are in the midst of their Spring Break and every “break” requires some PLENTY OF fun too, my friends.  We’re off to a little spring vacation and plan to drive just a few hours away and spend a couple days visiting the Columbus Zoo and COSI science center.

While packing for my kids means clothes, socks, undies, shoes, jammies, toiletries, stuffed “buddies”, favorite pillows (yes, that whole huge list) it also means thinking ahead to snack and beverage time.  These “bring alongs” also need some foresight if we don’t want to create a bunch of trash along the way too!

For us… single serving? Never! I have a bunch of reusable containers and water bottles that will accompany us every step of the way.  They’ll be filled, washed and refilled every single day. We won’t need to overspend or throw away a thing. (See that red Sigg over there?  Yep, that’s mine!) sigg bottles

Maybe this seems like a no-brainer, but I can’t begin to tell you the number of times I’ve had another mom notice our snacks and drinks on an excursion and proclaim “What a good idea! Why didn’t I think of that!” (while she simultaneously doles out a fortune for her kids snack time and then throws away the trash).

Make it a habit for every time you’re away from home. And it’s not just for when you plan a trip or special outing either… even school lunches need the same close attention to reduce our waste.  Over the course of the school year, just one child can produce 67 pounds of trash from lunches alone!

innob 1And don’t forget about baby either. (I no longer have one of “those”, but) I just also discovered Innobaby.  They have a great line of on-the-go storage containers, and all are made from the highest quality food grade materials, are BPA-free, and contain no phthalates, PVC or latex… a perfect, and safe, choice.

Every time you’re away from home, think ahead to the needs of the whole family. Fill your drink bottles, pack-up your reusable containers with snacks and munchies and, by using your reusables, you’ll be waste-free and guilt-free too.

A green birthday party favor that leaves the plastic behind!

DSC01077Both of my kids just celebrated another birthday and we’re on the cusp of yet another big birthday party.

Along with the pressure of creating the greatest birthday celebration (EVER!) comes the pressure of letting your little party-goers walking away with a little something special of their own.

Now I (truly) don’t intent to guilt anyone if they’ve ever fallen into the trap of the treat bag tradition (because I HAVE!), but all too often the treat bags we create include what I deem “trinkets ‘n trash”…  a loot bag filled with candy and plastic “stuff” that’s eventually destine for a landfill (and to live on, endlessly!).

In years past I have given the kids canvas tote bags and nylon sport bags so they can be used again and again.  This year I figured I’d better switch it up, if I don’t want to hear “ANOTHER bag?!?” from our guests.

This year I found these fantastic stainless steel water bottles.  They’re BPA Free and (would you believe) made in the USA! Cost each: $3! All it took was a trip to a local discount store and there they were!  I’ve easily spent $3 on those other treat bags, filling them with plastic toys, so the cost didn’t sway me.

My kids love them and can’t wait to give one to each of their friends. Their friends also seem excited to get a party favor that is a “big” gift too!

Whether it’s a tote, a sport bag or a water bottle, shop around and you’ll likely find a party favor that the kids and parents will appreciate, and the environment will thank you too!

‘Tis the season to remember your reusables!

no plastic bagsAs I’ve spent the last week doing some major shopping for the holidays, I’ve armed myself with my own reusable bags at every stop and in every store.

But one thing has certainly gotten my attention… where are all of my “reusable bag comrades”?!?! I’m shocked that I sometimes look around and can’t find a single other soul toting their totes, yet I DO see a sea of plastic! It’s so disheartening. It’s no wonder statistics place the worldwide usage of plastic bags somewhere around one TRILLION annually!

Please, please… if you haven’t already done it, make a small investment in reusable bags and make them a part of every shopping trip you make, no matter how big or small.  I could go on and on about the disastrous effects of plastic bags, including the heartbreak of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, but I think we all “know”… they’re simply bad news. And once you have them, REMEMBER THEM! That is the other half of the equation.  Buying them is not enough. They need to be USED! Come’on… you can do it!

Plastic bags are a serious topic, but sometimes serious topics also deserve a little levity too… are YOU stuck in a “Plastic State of Mind”???

It’s time to change the habit! Ban single-use bags made of plastic!