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!

It’s time to mail more Christmas cards… for recycling!

The twelve days of Christmas are over.  I am slowly (and oh, I do mean slowly!) making sense of all the remnants of the holidays and starting to put everything away.

So, the gift bags are folded and flattened.  The trees are coming down.  The stockings are being “un-hung”. The wreaths and candles are being packed away.  And a big stack of cards is mocking me… again.

I’ve never been good at getting rid of the cards.  It seems so cold to toss out the “wishes” others send to us, so I’ve stockpiled quite a mass of them from years (and years) gone by.  I’ve used them by cutting out bits and pieces of the art and turning them into gift tags but, seriously, I will never give enough gifts to use them all!  I’ve even thought about using the fronts as postcards (maybe a good idea for a ‘thank you’ postcard) or turning a strip from the front into bookmarks for next year’s gifts.

And although most cards are recyclable, I’ve discovered a great way to recycle Christmas cards that doesn’t include dumping them in a recycling can… St. Jude’s Ranch for Children.  SJRC is a non-profit organization that cares for abused, abandoned and/or neglected children.  They accept used greeting cards and the children remove the fronts, attach them to a recycled paper back, and turn them into new greeting cards… and then sell them!

I think this is an amazing option to traditional paper recycling and a great cause to support.  Your cards will be accepted until February 28, 2009.  Just bundle them up and mail them off to:

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

Learn more about the program, and even how you can buy the “new” recycled cards!

Now, if I could just find a place to mail my entire HOUSE for a thorough, post-holiday overhaul, I would be one happy mama!

2009!… and 10 simple ways to go green!

HaPPy NeW YeaR!!! A new year has arrived and I hope your celebration was great, green and safe!

So, if you’re visiting Mom Goes Green, you probably try to live green, you’re looking for new ways to go green or maybe you just don’t know where to start.  Well, with the beginning of a new year, maybe it’s appropriate to start a new beginning of green living and think about the fundamentals.

Maybe there are things we’re forgetting, things we haven’t put into action or simple things that we’ve fallen off the wagon with.  So, let’s get started…

Use this as a checklist of things to think about and work into our daily lives. Drum roll please!!!…            (in no specific order… 10 simple ways to go green: )

  1. Recycle anything and everything.  There’s no reason not to.  Cans, bottles, newspapers, plastics, paper, cardboard, catalogs, junk mail… ALL recyclable, so don’t let them add to landfills.  Don’t forget about electronics, ink cartridges, cell phones… recyclable!  Check earth911.org to find out where.
  2. Reduce your water consumption.  Turn off that faucet, buy water- (and energy-) efficient appliances, run only full loads of dishes or laundry, check for leaks, buy a low flow shower heads, reduce your shower time… it all adds up to a great big difference.
  3. Unplug, unplug, unplug… and turn it off.  Anything that’s plugged in still uses electricity – your cell phone charger, computers, appliances – so unplug them or use a power strip.  Turn off lights when you leave a room.  Don’t let your home be an energy hog.
  4. Switch your light bulbs to CFLs.  They save money and use less energy.  Just remember to properly recycle them.
  5. Buy locally grown produce.  Not only does it support local farming, it also creates a much smaller carbon footprint and your organics will likely be cheaper too.  Maybe even consider a CSA.
  6. Buy less or NO commercial cleaners.  Vinegar and baking soda do wonders for so, so many things.  They’re less toxic, don’t pollute water sources and they’re a whole lot cheaper too.
  7. Buy reusable shopping bags. Use them! Never, ever accept another plastic bag.  It’s that simple… ’nuff said!
  8. Stop buying bottled water.  Sure, the bottles are recyclable, but think about the energy and resources needed to manufacture them and the footprint to get them to the grocery store shelves.  Plus, BPA is frightening.  Buy reusable aluminum or stainless steel bottles… your conscious will be clear.
  9. Stop throwing away the things you don’t need anymore… donate them instead.  Clothes, furniture, appliances, toys, books… someone wants them, needs them and will appreciate them.  They don’t need to be trash.
  10. Buy recycled products, products in recyclable containers and reusable items.  If they aren’t recyclable, find ways to reuse them. Be aware of over packaged products too. Simply, make wise choices.

Wow… that was fast.  I think I could have easily made that a “50 ways” list, but I don’t want to overwhelm you… or me!  There are so many other things I could have added, like turning down your thermostat, reducing your driving, planting a tree… but for now, we’ll stick with the fundamentals list!

I just did the checklist myself and I need to smack my own hand.  With a few of them I’m not doing so well, so I need to make them a part of my own New Year’s Resolutions!

How did you do?

The coolest gift on the planet… FOR the planet!

I’ve never been shy about telling you when I love (or despise) something and I recently learned about one of the coolest things on the planet… and considering the season of giving, I absolutely have to share this one and give it some MomGoesGreen love!

It’s called the “Starter Kit for Change” and it contains some of the most thoughtful, eco-friendly items to get anyone and everyone started on the road to “green thinking”.

Two moms/musicians/friends/eco-girls developed a company called rocklovepeace and put together an amazing kit that contains:

  • a reusable tote bag (“reuse”)
  • an arbor day tree seedling (“plant”)
  • fair trade hot chocolate (“be fair”)
  • a treeless journal (“write”)
  • a Sudoku booklet with a recycled pencil (“think”)
  • a compact fluorescent light bulb (“switch”)
  • gratitude cards (“be grateful”)
  • an envelope to help end hunger (“give”)

They thought of everything and I’m not exaggerating when I say that.  The gift box and paper they come in are recycled, the ribbon and bag are biodegradable, the tags are embedded with flower seeds (they  can actually be planted!) and an enclosed booklet explains the importance and impact of every element included.

The reusable bags are even made from fabric remnants and no two are alike (and they’re SO much more stylish than the cheap-o bags!).  Plus, every bag is inscribed with Mahatma Gandhi’s inspirational quote:  “We must be the change we wish to see in the world.” Doesn’t that describe the mission we all wish to accomplish?  Del and Melanie are on this mission too… to educate, motivate and activate CHANGE!  Plus they are donating a portion of the proceeds to Action Against Hunger.

This is truly the coolest thing I have yet to see…The “Starter Kit for Change” is the gift of going green!  And if I got this from someone, I would be thrilled… actually, I got this gift for myself and now I think I’m one pretty cool gift-giver too!

Take this trash and ship it

Given the word association test, “green” no longer prompts a response of, say… “orange”.  It’s more likely to prompt words like “recycling”.

I’d say it’s a great sign of our current environmental awareness, but what aggravates me is that more and more naysayers want you to say that the “green movement” and recycling is simply a waste of time.

For me, that’s unthinkable and I could never subscribe to this small-minded belief.  I have a hard time understanding how there can be a negative side to reusing, reducing and recycling.  Is it selfishness?  Is it laziness?  Is it the unwillingness to take any responsibility?  (The guy at Blockbuster once tried to convince me that the importance and value of recycling is actually “made up!”  Don’t ask me how this conversation got started, but I nearly passed out… “made up?… really?)

But recycling is being challenged and those naysayers want you to believe that it’s all a selfish act of capitalism. Some even suggest burning is a better option. (oh yea.  Burning.  THAT’S going to help.)

Well, I’m a naysayer of the naysayers.  Here are a few facts to keep out of your recycling bin.

Fact: Our “trash”, including scrap paper, metal and plastics, is one of the US’s largest current exports to China.  They purchase our recyclable trash because they don’t have enough raw materials to meet their demand.  In 2002, the US exported $1.2 billion worth of recyclables.  In 2006, the export grew to $6.1 billion. (Excellent!)

Fact: Recycling requires 90% less energy than making aluminum cans from ore or plastics from oil, plus it creates less waste and pollution.  (Argue with THAT Blockbuster guy!)

So who is capitalizing on this system?  I’d say we are.  I’d say our environment is capitalizing.  I’d say our long-term existence is depending on it.  Do you agree?

If we keep pumping our earth and environment with toxic trash, harmful gasses and chemical pollutants, without regard to future generations, how do we expect that there WON’T be negative effects.  I have kids and I refuse to let them bear the burden of my selfishness and laziness.  Sorry if that upsets anyone, but for most of us, recycling is very doable.

Being green is not an issue of “Saving the Earth”.  No matter what kind of havoc we thrust upon our environment, the earth WILL survive, but will we?  We’re moving toward kicking ourselves out of the only home we have and I’m not about to sit around, irresponsibly, and debate that answer to that question.

“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.”   — Native American Proverb

(An edited version of this post was published on BlogHer)