Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Magic Wands and the Wonder of the Recycling Bin

The other day my son needed a magic wand.  He chose a long stick. Um...dangerous when a two year old waves it around!  You do remember the saying that it's all fun and games until someone loses an eye?  That's what was running through my head when I saw it!  

The solution - run to the recycling bin (faster than pulling out our 'maker' box) and see what in there could work to make a wand.  We settled on a cheerios box, cut up into two big stars and then we stapled them together over the top of a wooden spoon.  Instant magic wand!  And days later it's still working - albiet with a little added tape to hold it together.

This got me to thinking about what ends up in that bin. I've been trying to think of how I could reuse some of the stuff in there before it heads to the recycling depot.   So far I've kept baby food jars so I can make baby meals in them and freeze them. These are great as you can reuse over and over and still recycle them.  I'm also saving stuff like paper towel rolls, cardboard, little containers and so one for our 'maker' box (see my toddler blog for more info on this idea)  And I do save my baby formula containers (not recyclable), lids and scoops for my Mom to take their local kindergarten class to use in crafts.  I think I might start saving smartie boxes and little ones like that for her, too, as the kids use them to make stuff.

Can you think of anything in your recycling box that could have another life?

(ps.  Kiva has a ton of loans open at the moment and it looks like lots of them will not be funded before they expire - if you wish to loan as little as $25, check it out using the link to the left of this  post. We've funded lots of loans and so far our intitial $100 investment has been fully repaid over and over by everyone we've given too.  It's a great feeling to look and see we've helped 9 people so far, and we can just keep giving the same money to help another as it gets repaid.  While they cannot guarantee repayment, we've noticed that these entreprenuers work hard to pay back their loans and you will likely see it all come back to you to regift or use for something else as you wish.)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Pack it In! Reusable lunch boxes are cool!

I've noticed that there are lots of lunch boxes out there now. Metal ones (cool, like we had as kids!), insulated bags, cloth bags, bento box style - you can find just about anything.

Litterless lunches are in.  And this is a great thing. Not only is it environmentally friendly, it's also cheaper to eat this way.  Hmmm.. I think I'm beginning to see a trend - green often equals money savings.  But I digress.  Here's what you need for a litterless lunch

  • A container - a large rubbermaid, insulated bag, metal lunch box, cloth drawstring bag - you choose  your container.
  • cloth napkin (buy them or make your own as they are simple to sew up)
  • set of utensils - I like to have a set of metal ones, but you can buy bamboo or just keep re-using your plastic ones that you'd bought to throw away.
  • smaller containers - these are for snacks, sandwiches, salads, etc. 
  • baggies - I love the baggies I mentioned in an earlier post - they are re-usable and my little guy loves his crackers in them.   I do still use some ziplocs, but these are brought home to be re-used.
  • re-usable juice/water bottle
  • re-usable coffee/hot drink mug
When you shop, don't buy the individual size items.  Instead, buy a larger container and split it up into your little containers.  I have a big bucket that is filled with snacks.  There are mini rice cakes, crackers and so on, all repackaged into smaller containers. You can also your own  puddings/jello into small tupperware containers.  I do use ziploc baggies, but I reuse them until they fall apart.  This makes it easy to grab and go.  I also keep  large tupperware containers of things like goldfish crackers and just scoop those into a re-usable container when I'm packing lunches.

You can go bento box style, where all your little boxes fit tightly into a bigger one - or you can toss them all in a bag, it's up to you.  When you have a reusable lunch box and containers, you don't have garbage to throw away.  Bring home your egg shells and scraps for the compost. If you do put in a soda or a juice container, then bring it home to recycle.

It's easy to go green with your lunch - so pack both school and work lunches like this and tally up your savings while you're at it!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Hang 10! or a whole load...

Of laundry that is! 

Today's tip is to hang your laundry.  If you have room, put up a clothesline.  There are so many out there to choose from - umbrella style, some that hang off the wall, free-standing and more.   They also come in many sizes and price ranges so you can fit any budget and any space.  I use an umbrella style one that is out in the lawn, as well as a small free-standing rack.  In my laundry room I have a rod that I hang things from, too. 

This simple thing can save a lot of energy and money, as dryers are one of the big energy hogs in your home.  If you are a laundramat user, think of all the rolls of quarters you can bank!

If you are intrigued by the idea of using a clothesline - check out Sundog clotheslines. This is a local company that specializes in them and their catalogue is awesome!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Who turned out the lights?

Turn off the lights? 'How obvious', you say!  Yet, the reality is that while we know this is the easiest thing to do, many of us still just can't get into the habit.

Make this a game.  While you are learning to turn off the lights when you leave the room, begin a game that has you run about the house, every hour on the hour, turning off the ones you missed.  I'll bet you'll be surprised at how many you've left on. After a few days of this, I can pretty much guarantee that you will have made turning off the lights a bit of a habit.  Teaching kids to turn them off each hour can be fun - it's a race to see who can finish their area of the house first!  If they are wiley - they'll figure out they can win by remembering to turn them all off in the first place.

Turning off the lights can make a noticeable difference in your hydro bill - so this is not only an energy saver - it's a guaranteed money saver, too!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Put A Little Green In Your Home

It's simple - buy a plant.  Plants in your home help to give you clean air, naturally.  Not only that, but caring for a plant can help to make you feel better.  The act of caring for something is good for your mental health and for your physical health. Puttering around with it can help you relax.  While a plant can't play with you like a pet can, it does need you to keep it healthy, and being needed is a good thing!

Now, I definately do not have an indoor plant green thumb, but there are a few plants out there that people like me can succeed with.  Ivy type plants are usually easy - I love one called Pothos - I've had many in my life and they've lived long and well.  I still have some of them.  My sister, who frequently forgets to water the ones on top of her cupboards, still has the same ones, too.  Once she tried to kill mine when I moved away (OK, not on purpose, but still) and I managed to save it from near death.  You can take cuttings and put them in water to root and them plant them, thus expanding your collection at no cost.  This particular plant is amazing as lives just about anywhere and comes in pretty varieties, too.The website below shows the varieties.

You can pot your chosen plant in organic soil, feed it regulary with organic fertilizer and you'll have a healthy green addition to your home, that gives you the benefit of clean air at the same time.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Green tip of the day! Salt stain remover

I've decided to try and add some quick tips when I have time - a tip of the day kinda idea.

A long time ago, I tipped over a glass of red wine on my friend's grandmother's white rug. Yes, red wine on a white rug - the kiss of death. However, she just jumped up, grabbed a box of salt and poured it on. Immediately you could see the wine seeping into the salt. She swept up a little, poured on more and left it to dry.

Amazingly the next day, when dry, it all just vacuumed out. The salt was red, the rug was white.

So if you spill something like that - try it. It's much better for the rug, the environment and for your health to try it before you grab the chemical cleaners.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

PC Product Review

I wanted to pop in and say that I've had a chance to try out the Presidents Choice 'green' options. I have used their phosphate free cold water laundry detergent (liquid) and I'm quite happy with it. It's gotten my towels and sheets clean and doesn't make me itchy when I've used it on our clothes (a biggie, since some detergents really bother me)

I've also been using their automatic dishwasher tablets and I'm happy to report that they are working well, also! These are the Green 4 in 1 phosphate free tablets. Along with my new dishwasher that features a no heat dry option, I am finding they work great. I wash the dishes, open the door when it's done and everything is clean and it dries fast if you get the door open just after the cycle is done, before the steam settles and turns into water on it all. (that's the key, I think - use the heat inside there to help dry it off as the steam vents out when you open the door)

The dishwasher is a Maytag quiet series 300 in case you are interested. I'm very happy with it so far. Beats the pants of the Danby junky one we had in here when we bought the house. It's also much larger inside - which means I use it less often. Another big green plus!

OH.. and I recieved a big box of Presidents Choice baking soda. I used it the other day to help scrub out a pot that I'd burned rice in. (yes, you can ruin it by boiling it dry and then it blackens the bottom of the pan) No amount of scrubbing was getting it off, then I remembered the baking soda. By Golly, if it didn't just take it all of first try! Since I had so much on the cloth and in the pan, I turned to my sink and tried it there. Yep, got it nice and silver! Seriously - it did what the bleach did when I cleaned it out a few weeks back. I don't use bleach very often, but needed to remove the brown stains and nothing worked. Now I know to just use baking soda. My first experience with it (yes, I knew about it, I just never had a box around since I don't bake)

I would say I'd buy these products again - so if you want to try them out yourself, I give them a thumbs up.