I need a magic pill… bottle [day 25 & 26]

pill-bottle-reuse-recycleI decided to bring my son’s pill bottle back to the pharmacy for a refill.  I had the new prescription, but I certainly didn’t need a new container.  I wasn’t sure what to expect.

When I arrived, I stood in line, not only with the empty pill bottle, but also the little paper bag they put it in.  That’s biodegradable, so I didn’t have to do that.  When I got to the counter, I briefly explained what I was doing and awaited a reply.  The lady working the counter wasn’t sure.  She turned and asked the pharmacist.  He said, “Sure.  We can take the label off and refill it.”  Yes, success!!!  Continue reading

Observations of a mad woman [day 9]

Observations of a mad woman trying to be environmentally responsible:

I’m mad.  Crazy mad and mad that simple alternatives are not even on the radar.

Almond milk is good, but I’ll likely go back to my regular skim milk.  I will make this on occasion though.  Plastic milk containers can be recycled, wax-coated cartons cannot.

It’s not easy to be a container label-reader.  Unless you have memorized the cryptic plastic symbols or the company has chosen to be helpful, telling you if the packaging is recyclable, forget it.  Most of the time I’m guessing.

Here’s how the system works. If the packaging can be reused or recycled, or is made from recycled products, it will be listed as such.  If not, it won’t say anything.  Promote the good, ignore the bad.  If nothing else comes out of this, I should use my design skills and simplify the recycling types labels and present my simple system to the EPA.  Even is I was trying to shop for recyclable containers, many would be difficult to identify.  Next time you shop, try reading the labels.  What did you find?

gab-the-box-terracycle

I found this label intriguing.  Terracycle?  Never heard of it.  Bag the Box?  That makes sense, but I need more info.  Continue reading

earth day [day 331]

Yesterday was Earth Day.  I didn’t do anything different, as I try to be good to the earth everyday.  Earth Day (back then, a week) was a product of the late 60’s, born in 1970, as a political movement to create awareness for environmental issues.  In the 90’s, it heavily promoted recycling and responsible corporate strategies.  Environmentally friendly businesses were supported as hazardous businesses were exposed.  In 2000, Earth Day utilized it’s international infrastructure and the internet to form demonstrations from activists all over the world.  What is Earth Day today?  Continue reading

used or reused? [day 301]

I decided to check out a little boutique in downtown Frisco.  Yes, I said boutique.  I heard a story about some recycled jeans they are selling and decided to check it out.  The Blue Door Boutique, a cute little shop with a lot of style, carries a lot of interesting clothing and home decor items.  Unfortunately for me, none of it is used.  They did have the jeans I went in to see.  I had heard about these jeans from one of my writer friends.  The jeans, made from recycled textiles, were prominently displayed on a table.

At first, I thought REUSE jeans were jeans that were made from old jeans; in the way of taking old jeans and embellishing them or modifying them by merging pieces from several pairs of old, worn out jeans.  When I first saw them, I knew the story had to be different from what I had in my head.  All of the jeans looked the same in style and in color.  They also had a price tag of $85!

Now, in the world of new jeans, this is an acceptable price.  For me, this is crazy expensive, as I could go to the thrift store and get a pair of USED jeans for $3-$6.  I looked up REUSE to see what they’re all about.  I needed to know the story behind this nice looking, yet expensive, clothing line.

REUSE jeans are made from 80% recycled textiles.  Here’s a blurb from their site about why they recycle.

“In our world of overflowing landfills and global warming, recycling is more relevant than ever. Recycled jeans help counteract the human effect of the disposable fashion industry, while contributing to a cleaner, more sustainable earth.”

I like that they’re utilizing old clothing to make new clothing, but the price point is bothering me.  Here’s some info about that from their site.  Continue reading

heaven has a 30-day return policy [day 268]

What!??!?!  I can’t hear you, the angels are singing to loudly.  The Habitat for Humanity ReStore is heaven on earth… it’s a giant hardware building supply store, but all used stuff.  I found some of the home repair stuff I’ve been needing… okay, and one want thing.

Doorknobs. I found a few used brushed nickel doorknobs in the sea of brass knobs, and installed them on the most used doors last night.  A little goof-off and they look brand new.  I guess all the knobs won’t match, but that’s okay.  I’ll place matching ones where you can see other doors.  It’s all good.

Light fixtures. I found a replacement fixture for the laundry room light, basically to replace the one that shoots sparks when you try to replace the bulb.  Definitely a need.  I also found an outside light fixture to replace the weathered, broken one by my front door.  It still works, but it looks terrible.  As a matter of fact, terrible might be an understatement.

A new (used) door. I’ve needed a new backdoor since I moved in the house.  Either the people that lived here before me had some extreme tempers or the evil spirits were trying to exit the house, as the bottom of the door is bent outward.  The three layers of weatherstripping doesn’t even fill the gap.  And who invented the little criss cross crap on these doors?  It’s hard to paint and impossible to clean.  I will not miss this door.  I will donate it in case someone needs the glass or the criss cross plastic piece that I detest.

The Habitat ReStore had a lot of great doors.  And being the fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants person, I had no measurements for any of my doors that need replacing.  As I flipped through the rows of doors, I saw many I liked, but none that I thought would fit.  Then at the end of the aisle, I heard the angels getting a little bit louder.  There it was.  My new back door.  It looked to be the perfect size, as I visualized myself walking through it.  No criss cross crap, a few blemishes which meant a good price, clearly used and perfect.  But what if I’m wrong about the size?  No problem, as there’s a 30 day return policy.

My door is not installed yet, as it will need new hinges, but I already sanded it, my painter repaired it and painted it, so it’s ready for its new, loving home.  It will still have the ugly brass hardware, but at some point heaven will have brushed nickel.

Okay, so maybe the heaven references are a bit much, but it’s great to know that this stuff isn’t in a landfill and it’s all going to be used.  This new backdoor is not what would be considered perfect condition, but it’s 1000 times better than the one I had.  If you replace something in your house, and the old items still have some life left in them, please consider donating the items to the Habitat for Humanity ReStore.  They’re doing many great things.  :)

recycle your electronics for good [day 238]

I saw this recycling box at the local camera shop.  No, I wasn’t shopping, I had to go there for work.  I was surprised to see the red dot that says, “10% of proceeds will go to charity”.  10%?  There are a lot of collection boxes where all of the proceeds go to charity.  I know there’s some cost involved with the recycling or repurposing of electronics, but this is clearly a retail profit center.  I’m not against retailers making money, but if you have a choice of 10% or 100% of proceeds going to help people, wouldn’t you rather choose 100%?

The really important thing here is that these electronics don’t end up in a landfill.  Most of them contain toxic materials that pollute our drinking water and our environment.  As long as the dumb phones, VCR’s, camcorders, old cameras and old computers stay out of the trash, I can live with a little bit of retailer pocket padding.  If you have a choice of 10% or 100% though, go for the 100%.

free polypropylene [day 229]

Instead of buying ziplock plastic baggies and other plastic containers, I like to reuse containers I already have.  Instead of placing my plastic sour cream containers, margarine containers or other food containers directly into the recycling bin, I wash them and use them for other things.

  • Leftovers. These are great for leftovers.  If you want to send something home with a friend, you don’t have to worry about getting your container back.  Great for work too, if you’re like me and forget to bring the containers home.
  • Paint. Great for small amounts of touch up paints.
  • Freezer containers. Make extra food and freeze it for lunches or quick microwave meals.  (never reheat in the plastic containers)
  • Recycle containers. Use a small container to keep small lids for recycling.  Aveda will recycle all of these for you.
  • Hardware. These are great for storing nails, screws, washers and other hardware items.
  • Art supplies. These can be used for storing art supplies or used as water containers for paint brushes.
  • Toys. These are great for storing kids toys that have small parts.  They’re easy to open and close, also making them great for the car.  Less toys under the seats.
  • Pantry storage. Use these containers to store food that comes in unsealable plastic bags.  I buy rice in the large bulk bag and store it in an old pretzel container.
  • Other uses. I’m sure there are many more uses for these.  Just think what might be a good second or third use of something before recycling it.

Let me address the question you’re all waiting to add to the comments section.  “Aren’t plastic containers bad for your health?”  Yes, some of them are.  I looked up these types of containers, as pictured above, and they are made of polypropylene.  Without getting too technical, the symbol on these containers is the one pictured on the left, and there’s no proven health risks on this type.  The containers say “dishwasher safe” on the bottom.  They are doing some studies based on a 2008 study saying some of the plastic will get into your food, but nothing has been proven to this point.  This type of plastic is considered a ‘safer’ type.

There are many types of plastics out there, and here I’m only speaking of PP (polypropylene) plastic.  I usually use these containers 3 or 4 times, hand-washing them or placing them in the dishwasher with a no-heat-dry setting.  Never cook food in any type of plastic, as that does melt and can leach chemicals into your food.

I’m no plastics expert, but it’s good to do a little research on any containers you do plan to reuse.  All plastics have the symbols like the one above, making it easy to research.  Yes, it’s a pain to have to know all this stuff, but it’s the world we live in.  It’s better to educate yourself and not have to worry.  I like free storage containers, and I could eat my weight in sour cream, so I usually have a lot of them.  All of them go to good uses.  What do you use food containers for?

global-give-green, an exercise in repurposed art [day 139]

These small pieces of art are made on painted MDF panels that were about to be thrown in the trash.  The words are cut out of magazines, the leftover magazine skeletons went to the recycling bin.  Most of the paint is leftovers from other art projects.  Most of the painting embellishments and lines were painted with pizza boxes leftover from lunch.  The photos are just snapshots, I need to take some good photos of them.  😉

Continue reading

crazy idea or inexpensive and fun? [day 136]

Back on day 103, my friend across the street called asking for some ideas about painting her kids bathroom.  I’m sure Diane is thinking… *note to self*, don’t ask Jody a decorating question unless you want to remodel your entire house.

The bathroom turned out great! Here’s the story… in photos.  :)

Idea. “Light bulb” as Gru would say in Despicable Me.  Of course you can paint your bathroom, and here’s 50 other ideas you can do in there.  Kids bathroom, shared by a sister and brother, needs to be good for both, not girly and not manly.

Color. Color pallet?  One wants black and white, the other wants red and gray.  No problem!

Work. Dave is one of those get-it-done-now people.  He got started right away.  This idea started with texturing and painting the walls and turned into an entire remodel of the room.  Demolition Dave has it under control.  he had the whole room torn out in less than an hour.   Continue reading

back to school [day 58]

Houston, we have a prob… challenge.  It’s time to buy school supplies.  The boys dad is buying their new shoes, which is good, because I have had a difficult time finding used ones for them.  I suppose it would be helpful if I knew what size they wore!  I realized I did not have that info when asked what size bowling shoes they needed last week.

Here’s the school supply list for Frisco ISD, 4th grade:

  • 1 Crayola Crayons, 24 count
  • 1 Crayola Washable Markers, Classic Thick
  • 1 Crayola Map Colors (colored pencils)
  • 12 #2 Pencils
  • 1 Pink Pearl Eraser
  • 2 Ballpoint Pen, red
  • 1 Highlighter, yellow
  • 1 Wooden Ruler, 12 inch with 1/8, 1⁄4, and 1⁄2 inch markings
  • 1 Fiskars for Kids Scissors, sharp tip, 5‐to‐8 inches
  • 2 Large Elmer’s Glue Sticks
  • 1 Spacemaker 8 X 5 School Box
  • 1 Assorted Construction Paper, 12 X 18
  • 2 Wide Ruled Spiral Notebooks, 70 Notebooks
  • 4 Composition Notebooks
  • 2 Packages of Wide Ruled Notebook Paper, 200 Sheets
  • 6 Folders with brads/pockets‐blue, purple, yellow, green, orange, and red
  • 1 Large Box of Kleenex Tissues

Notes Specific for Fourth Grade: Student planners will be provided by the school. Students will be using dictionaries and thesauruses in their work; if you do not have these items at home, you may consider purchasing them.

Issues

  1. Since this is a standard list, sometimes the teachers don’t need or want this stuff.  Some of it is used, some of the stuff came back home at the end of the school year.
  2. Name brands.  Really?  Is the school getting a kick-back from Crayola, Fiskars or Elmer’s?  I agree that sometimes these companies do make better products, but most times you pay a premium.
  3. My kids are going to be embarrassed by me bringing in a bunch of used or incorrect supplies.  Maybe I SHOULD join the PTA.  Can you imagine???  LOL

Challenges

  1. Finding some of these supplies used, such as colored paper and spiral notebooks, is going to be difficult.
  2. Finding all this stuff for free or in thrift stores is going to be difficult, and most likely, very time consuming.
  3. Brainstorming a way to change the system for the better, getting the needed supplies to the school, but also having a system for the extras.  (teachers, help me out here)

Solutions

I don’t have many answers yet, as I haven’t really started the search.  I am starting today and will keep you posted.  Here’s a few things I do have:

  1. We are reusing lunch boxes and backpacks.  If they want new (used) ones, they’ll have to go shop for them in thrift stores.
  2. We are using a lot of supplies leftover from last year, such as scissors, paper, rulers, etc…
  3. Share multi packs of supplies with neighbors.  If you buy in bulk, you can save money.  This is a greener way to shop too, as the bulk stuff usually has less packaging.
  4. If possible, talk to the teachers to see what they need.  This usually is not an option before school starts, but once school is in progress, you might have some supplies laying around the house that they could use for projects.
  5. Old folders can get a facelift with a little artwork and duct tape.

Off to thrift for school supplies.  :)