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!”

… and the flip-flops lived on…

flp flpsI’m a “flip-flop girl”… I LOOOOVE my flip-flops! And most of my friends know about my obsession too.  If it’s above 50 degrees… FLIP-FLOP TIME!!!

It’s needless to say, however, that the lifespan of a flip-flop can be somewhat limited.  They wear out, they break and, well, sometimes they just start looking pathetic.

Want to help those tired, poor flip-flops live on? (Clearly, I also enjoy “saying” flip-flop!…) but sincerely… there is a fabulous use for them after they outlive their original purpose.

From now until May 21, Terracycle has teamed up with Old Navy stores to collect those flip-flops.  Deposit them in the collection bins at any Old Navy location in the U.S. and Terracycle will be turning them into playground materials.

The playgrounds will be given to a few schools and organizations that participate in the Terracycle Brigades too.  My children’s school participates in the Drink Pouch Brigade so hey, who knows… my old flip-flops may just end up being a part of my kids’ playground!ONTC flip

We’re all preparing for summer (anxiously!) and pulling out everything that has been put away for far too long. If your seasonal wardrobe includes some flip-flops that have seen better days, make your way to an Old Navy store before they make their way to the trash…

… beloved flip-flops can live on!

The Post-Holiday Green Guide…

christmas storageNow that we’ve stopping scurrying around in preparation for the holidays, we’re all liking looking around and seeing plenty yet to be done in the wake of a hectic season.

The tree, the lights, the presents, the boxes, the bags and bows, the piles of Christmas cards!… WHAT to do now? Well, let me help…

Here is a very simple list of things you can do to curb the waste, make the most of the season and keep it green!:

  • The Christmas tree – if you had a live-cut Christmas tree, check out Earth911 to find a drop-off so it can be turned into mulch or composted (if your community doesn’t offer the service).  If you have a wooded area near your house, give it back to nature for a wonderful winter habitat for animals.  If your tree is artificial and you’ve considered a replacement, donate your old tree.  Many organizations and needy families would love them for next year.christmas tree artificial 3
  • Packaging and boxes – everything from gift packaging to the shipping boxes the gifts arrived in… either recycle them (if they aren’t usable again) or save them (along with the reusable packing materials) for when you need to ship something.  If you have more than you can handle, list and sell them through Box Cycle.
  • Gift bags, ribbons, bows and tissue – simply fold, flatten and/or store.  They can all likely be used again (and again!).
  • Lights – if you have strands that have permanently gone out, take advantage of clearance sales and stock up on new LEDs for next year’s energy-efficient decorating.  You can also check out HolidayLEDs.com… they’ll accept old incandescents and give you a 25% discount on a new LED purchase.
  • Clear it out! – make way for new gifts by cleaning out what is no longer needed and donate them to charity.  Clothes, toys, books, household items… everything is useful for someone, or an entire family, in need!
  • Christmas cards – ever heard of St. Jude’s Ranch for Children?  Well, they’d love to receive your Christmas cards!  This non-profit organization cares for abused, abandoned and/or neglected children.  They accept used greeting cards (including Christmas, birthday and even “Thank You” cards), the children remove the fronts and attacchristmas cardsh them to a recycled paper backing.  They turn them into new greeting cards… and then sell them!  Bundle them up and mail them to:

St. Jude’s Ranch for Children
Card Recycling Program
100 St. Jude’s Street
Boulder City, NV 89005

As you get your post-holiday life back in order there is some work to be done but, rest assured, there are plenty of wise, green choices that can be made as we bid the year farewell…

(Tree photo: Christmas Lights Etc.)

Post #381… a 2010 Holiday Review!

christmas partyAnother Christmas come and gone in a whirlwind here at the Mom Goes Green household! I hope your holiday was wonderful and filled with every blessing imaginable!  (Now I’m getting back into the groove with post #381 and gearing up for the New Year!)

As always, we had amazing and magical fun!  Santa delivered exactly what was requested so the kids are thrilled (and nothing will be sitting, unwanted, under the tree!).

As every box and package was UNpacked, they were broken down and flattened and made their way into the recycling can… even the wrapping paper.  The recycling can is FULL… and the garbage can?… hardly a thing added!xmas wrp pile

Tissue and bows were set aside and have made their way into storage for reuse next year too!  All other family gifts were also given in bags recycled from last year so I didn’t need to purchase a single supply!  Some family members even gave back the gift bags with a smile and a “Here… for next year!”  Ahh, they know me well!xmas gft bg

I’m also happy to report that at every gathering, our families used the REAL silverware, plates, bowls, glasses, cups and serveware… not a disposable in sight! Bravo, family… and thank you!

We’ll soon be weeding out old (but usable) clothing, toys, books and other household items to donate to charities that serve the less fortunate.  I know we all tend to give before the holidays but xmas place setremember, the need exists 365 days a year so it’s never too late, or too soon!  Let the giving continue!

In the coming days I’ll give you more tips and tricks to wrap up the holidays and get you sent off into the New Year…

… But for now, I simply wish to say I hope your Christmas or holiday was as wonderful and magical as ours!

Five tips to “go green” for “back to school”!

The sumback 2 schoolmer is dwindling… it’s the countdown to the “end”… sounds dramatic, doesn’t it?  But this is truly my least favorite time of year.  Sure the weather is wonderful and there is so much fun to be had, but I get this feeling in the pit of my stomach when I have to send my kids back to school.  I actually happen to be a mom who loooves to have my kids at home!

But school time is looming and it’s time to prepare. So, while you’re prepping your list (the long list!) of everything they need, keep these tidbits in mind to help keep it on the green side:

  • Check your “stock” – you may already have supplies at home; some may even be leftover from last year, so check carefully before you buy.
  • Look for recycled content – notebooks, pens, pencils, folders, binders and even backpacks… there are lots of options out there made from recycled content, so be wise when you choose. Also, choose paper, paperboard or canvas over plastics.citiznpp kit
  • Waste-free lunches – plan to pack your kids’ lunches with reusable lunch kits like those from Kids Konserve or Citizen Pip.  Also, opt for reusable containers, bottles, real silverware and cloth napkins over anything single-use or disposable, and make sure everything is BPA-free.
  • Backpacks and totes – as exciting as it seems to purchase new every year, convince your kids that if it’s still functional, it’s still usable.  If you can, also steer them away from something “character” based, so when they outgrow the character you don’t feel forced into a replacement. And when you do need to replace one, consider donating the outgrown version and make sure the new one is PVC-free.
  • Clothes – we all know how quickly kids grow, but the bigger they get the slower they grow.  Take a little time for a “try-on” session.  If it’s not outgrown, no need to replace it just yet.  When it no longer fits, be sure to donate everything to organizations that provide clothing to those in need.  Even consignment shops and sales or swaps are great resources for giving or getting items that still have usefulness.

Whether yoschoolbusu get teary-eyed at the idea of sending your kids back to school, or the first day couldn’t come soon enough (I will be a teary-eyed one!) be sure to earn a “green star” for your efforts before they go!