Simple choice: disposable or reusable?

solo br cupsOkay my friends… it’s as simple as this.  We had a choice.

Many people were going to visit our house.  The keg was calling out for a party.  Do you buy disposable cups or reusables? Quick! Make your choice.

It sounds crazy, I know, but I found myself facing this ridiculous question.  What… do… you … do?

I went to the dollar store. I bought cups. I bought reusable cups. I walked away from the disposables… and guess what?  We were just fine.  Everyone followed the rules.  They used the cups. They deposited them back into the kitchen.  They found their way into a (full) dishwasher. They were washed. They were stored for the next gathering. We threw NOTHING away. We won’t need to spend more money next time either. The next time, “we already have cups”.

Success. Yes. No trash. That’s all you need to do.  Wise choices, my friends.  Wise choices.

It takes only one stop to (r)e-cycle your e-waste!

ecycleWhile I’m on the topic of electronics, I must mention my trip to Best Buy this weekend and a fantastic service that I discovered.

I need to preface this with pointing out that electronics, unfortunately, create an amazing amount of e-waste when they have run their course of usefulness or get replaced.  Our TV has seen better days, and that was the reason for the trip.  Our “outgoing” TV is 17 years old and has reached the point where words on the TV were difficult to read and scrolling type is nearly impossible.

That TV will still be donated to a local charity that assists recovering addicts in setting up a home and, although it’s feasible for us tBB ecycleo replace it, I know someone in need of assistance will appreciate our donation when they have “nothing”.  On top of that, our donation keeps it from needlessly being tossed away… it DOES work, afterall.

Okay, back to my original story… Best BuyMy discovery? They have these new FANTASTIC kiosks just inside the entry to their stores that allow us to drop-off all of our e-waste for recycling, repair or repurposing.  I’m talking everything… cellphones & chargers, CDs & DVDs, game controllers and components, remotes, printer cartridges, power cords, and even ‘empty’ gift cards!  I… LOVE… IT!!!

These kiosks are available in EVERY store around the country, and there happen to be about 1100 of them!  Find your store here.

BB kiosk 2While I believe that an electronic or ‘gadget’ still in working condition should be donated, this is the best source I’ve seen so far for a central drop-off location when they’ve run their course.  Check out their site for more details and to learn about their program for the “big” electronics too.

In the meanwhile, sort through your house, fill a box of e-waste and know that you’ve FINALLY found a place for them!

Could your toilet be wasting 500 GALLONS of water a day?

toil $Sound crazy? It sure does, but did you know that one in five toilets actually has an extremely wasteful leak?  And these leaks can waste anywhere from 30 to (yes!) 500 GALLONS of water per day!

You may presume that you would hear the water or see the leak, but this isn’t the case.  It often goes undetected. It can also increase during nighttime hours when less water is being used and the pressure increases.  So while you sleep, your water bill could be drastically rising and you could be wasting crucially important water.

There is a very simple way to know for sure:

  • Just put a few drops of food coloring in the tank.  Wait about 15 to 20 minutes and if color shows up in the bowl, you have a leak, my friend.

I recommend doing this for all toilets in your home as late in the evening as possible.  The problem is often a poorly fitting flapper valve and the solution is simple… just replace it!

I’m still combating my suddenly excessive water bills that started a year ago, but we’ve checked for toilet leaks and they’re not the problem… (back to the battle with the water department!).

While the task doesn’t sound very glamorous, it’s certainly worth testing just to be sure!  That “one in five” may be in your very own home!

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.

Waste: when “carry-out” food gets “carried away”!

condi pktAhh… Fridays.  The infamous Friday night “Carry-Out Food and Movie Nite” in the Mom Goes Green household.  The night when I don’t have to think about “what’s for dinner” and instead can rely on the simple question of where to get the food.

While this has become a tradition for us, it also brings the concern of all the waste that can be created when I don’t do the cookin’!  Who hasn’t experienced this with their order?: large, rustling bag; unneeded plastic utensils; mountains of paper napkins; a sea of condiment packets; towers of containers; single-use cups… the list could go on and on (and that list has a harsh consequence for landfill waste).

So, consider this when placing your next order:

  • Coffee – Americans use approximately 15 BILLION paper coffee cups per year.  If your order includes coffee, bring your own cup… they’ll fill it for you.
  • Condiments – really, if you’re taking it home, you probably have the same condiments waiting for you in your refrigerator.  Instead of thinking “Well, I PAID for them”, think “No thanks.  I have them already” and they aren’t in a dozen tiny packets, cups and containers.
  • Napkins – skip ‘em.  Tell them you don’t need any since you probably already use cloth napkins at home…. righplst frkst? 🙂 Right.
  • Utensils – goes without saying… we all DEFINITELY have those at home, so tell them you don’t need them either.
  • Containers – many restaurants provide you with some decent containers but, while it’s nearly impossible to refuse them, you can reuse them.  Clean them, reuse them and consider them the next time you reach for a Ziploc or other disposable storage container.
  • Cups – I certainly voiced my dislike of all the kids disposable cups during a dine-in meal, but many of those are also reusable, for beverages, storing craft supplies and lots of other projects.
  • Bags – walk in with your own.  Tell them you don’t need their oversized plastic version… after all, you ALWAYS keep your reusable bags in your car…. riiiight?  🙂

If you follow all of these suggestions, imagine this… you would have zero-waste…. AND you would have a nice relaxing evening, with a clear conscience and absolutely zero cooking too!