Monday, February 28, 2011

Composting-Spreading the responsibility

In one of my previous posts, I said that you can't always make people do the right thing. Heated deliberations, forcing values upon others, and even guilt trips rarely change bad habits.

So if you can't beat them, make it easy and/or cheap for them to do the right thing. I tried to talk my dad into getting one of those compost bins but he wasn't interested and he didn't want an unsightly pile in his small yard.

With this in mind, I bought my dad a compost pail for Father's Day. He's always cooking and throws away tons of compost. When I make my weekly visits with my kids, I just bring him a clean, empty one and take the full one home. He gave me a smile understanding my ulterior motives but conceeded. Now I get a very full, heavy pail of compost for my pile which is good for me too. Basically, I've created a symbiotic relationship with composting with my family and it's become an ingrained habit that we've managed to keep up with.

P.S. The composting pail I use is one from Gardener's Supply Catalog. It's stainless steel and it really does a nice job keeping my kitchen from being stinky. I put it in the dishwasher to sanitize it and it's been holding up well for two years.

If you are in the market for a great pail, go to and look for the Brushed Stainless Steel Compost Pail - Item #38-560 $19.95. There are liners you can buy, but I've been using it without them and the interior gets some staining.

Storing Used Bags for Repurposing

Plastic bags and packages I want to reuse have a way of cluttering a space. I have found some useful storage containers that can be hidden away and keep the clutter to a minimum.

This is a photo of the one I use. It's under my kitchen sink, attached to the inside of the cabinet door. I bought one for my parents from Bed, Bath, and Beyond to hang on their garage wall. I noticed the pile that was cluttering the doorway which is why I chose that one for them. I gave it to them for Christmas.

You might be thinking, why I haven't been able to convert them into using cloth bags like me. All I can say is that I have learned that you can't force people to do the right thing. I have taken the great Mahatma Ghandi's words to heart, "be the change you want to see in the world." I can only lead by example and step in to make a difference even if it's a small one when I can.

So when I visit once a week, I collect the plastic bags and put them in with my cloth ones. So the next time I go grocery shopping, I put them in the plastic bag recycling bin. Weis/Kings and Giant have these receptacles for plastic bags. Do you know of any other stores in your area that have a similar program? Feel free to post a comment if you want to add to this list.

New Uses for Used Bags

Although I try my best to be mindful of the packaging of most of the foods I buy, there are some staples I need that come in plastic bags. If you can't recycle it, repurposing is the next best thing.

As a mom, I used the Diaper Champ and reused grocery plastic bags to line the interior instead of buying a box of plastic bags for the pail. I dreaded changing the bag and sanitizing it in between changes became a huge chore. With my second child, I didn't even use it. And by that time, I began to use cloth bags for my groceries so I collected very few plastic bags anyway.

I threw the pee filled diapers directly in our garbage. But I used bread bags and veggie bags for the poo poo diapers. They were easy to tie off on the end and I threw it in the garbage outside to avoid a stinky diaper pail.

Other bags I found useful were Thomas' English Muffins, cereal bags, and even the plastic bags that held diapers. I just rolled them up in a tight ball or reused a twistie tie close it.

Are there ways you reuse packaging that isn't environmentally friendly? How do you store it? Feel free to add to this post.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Recycling Sneakers?

Spring is in the air and it won't be long until you will be cleaning out your closets. What to do with all of the old, yucky sneakers no one is wearing anymore. You don't have to throw them out in the garbade because Nike has a recycling sneaker program and the best part is that they will recycle any brand of sneaker. to find a drop off location. If you don't have one close enough, don't worry, I didn't have a drop off location near me either.

You can mail the sneaker (s) to

Nike Grind Processing

8400 Winchester Rd

Memphis, TN 38125

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Earring Push Pin

What to do with unpaired stud earrings?

Until mainstream fashion embraces people wearing one earring again like they did in the eighties, here's another more practical idea.

Ditch the post and use the earring as a push pin. You can trim the post back by using wire cutters. It's not as strong as a push pin but works to hold one sheet of paper.

It also can be prettier than the plastic push pins and you now have an excuse to hang onto them for sentimental reasons.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Green Sweepstakes

Who's Your Hero?

Marcal Small Steps paper products is celebrating environmental heroes.

How it works:
  • Write and submit an essay (250 words or less) telling Marcal Small Steps how your nominee takes small steps for environmental change. Nominations will be accepted January 1, 2011 through February 25, 2011.
  • Your nominees will be voted on by a panel of Marcal Small Steps judges to win one of five awards. Voting takes place from March 1 - 31, 2011.
  • Our winning heroes will be announced on or about April 4, 2011 for Earth Month. The grand prize winner will choose an environmental charity which will receive $5,000 in their name.
Go to

Monday, February 7, 2011


A word about Freecycle...awesome!!! I've been a member for a couple of years now. Freecycle is a non-profit organization that allows members to post things they are giving away for free. It's set up like a Yahoo Group and the beauty of it is that you can be a member to the county you live in. You'll be posting and getting posts of items available for free right in your own back yard.

Membership is free too and you only get emails when someone posts an item.

Go to to join one in your neighborhood.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Tip for Recycling Clothing

Got an extra hamper lying around not collecting anything. To make clothing donations super easy and contain the clutter...consider keeping a large hamper in each closet to collect clothes that don't fit anymore. If space is limited, consider keeping a hamper in one central utility closet or room.

Here's a great tip for people who are often on the road. If you have the room in the trunk of your car, you can also keep a bag, box, or small hamper in the trunk to house items you would like to donate to charity. Whenever you find something you don't need anymore, throw it in the trunk. That way you make it easy to just drop it off at Goodwill if you happen to be driving through the area. This is one way to save on gas by combining your errands.

Recycling Books

If the book is pretty beaten up, paperbacks can be included in paper recycling.

If you have a hardcover that has seen better days, recycling centers recommend that you tear off the hardcover portion and toss it in the garbage. The inside can be easily recycled.

How to Recycle Books

Spring cleaning is just around the corner. And what to do with all of the books that are lying around cluttering the place. With the exception of some really good books that I want to save to read again or let family borrow it, I have come across several unique options to recycling books.


  • Local libraries may be open to taking donations especially if it's a new book on the bestseller's list. Check with your local libraries for upcoming books sales. Avid readers can take advantage of getting a lot of books for $1-$3 each, including hardcovers.
  • Look in your phone book for used book stores. We have a few locally that give you credit towards purchasing book for each book you donate.
  • Check with the pediatric offices or hospitals in your area to see if they would like donated childrens books.
  • Begin a book exchange with family and friends.
  • Create a drop off site at work for people to take a book and leave a book. Make sure you have a sign at the drop off site and that it's okay with your boss. I have also seen this at a daycare site for parents to take and leave books for other people to read.
  • Donate to Goodwill or Salvation Army
  • Books for Africa accepts picture books to encyclopedias to help fill libraries and classrooms with the exception of dictionaries, reference books that are 10 years older. Go to for more information
  • accepts gently used books to donate to other countries. Download and print a label. The organization will send you a $1 tax credit for every pound of books donate.

Tell us how you recycle your books?

Clever Ways to plant seeds

It's time for planting seeds. I found some clever ways to plant seeds using things you might already have at home. I read this in an article on Birds & Blooms.

  • Use a ski pole to form holes for your spring seeds.
  • Drag a chopstick through soil to create a trench for planting seeds.
  • Use a flower sifter to gently cover newly planted seeds with soil.
  • Old plastic film canisters are good for storing dried flower seeds.
  • Use old butter knives for working around those stubborn weeds.
  • Use tree purnings as stakes for new seedlings.

A seed exchange is a great excuse to get your friends together for an afternoon. You can make it really fun and challenge each other to bring in the most unique planter. If a planter is too big to bring along, you can bring a photo of it.

Happy planting!!!