This blog chronicles my life as I try to balance healthy lifestyle habits with my husband's penchant for pizza rolls and my daughter's desire to watch iCarly 8 hours a day. It contains a mostly humorous, kind, and somewhat spiritual look at everyday life and the people who live it.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Green Tip Tuesday: Surprising Areas of Waste & How to Be Greener

Being smug is fun, isn't it?  I'll admit it: as I walk around my house on freshly washed-with-vinegar floors wearing organic cotton socks that will later be washed with Earth-friendly detergent sometimes I just can't help but let that smug little smirk creep onto my face.  Oh yeah, I'm sooo much better than all those Mop-N-Glo-using-synthetic-sock-wearing-folks!  Right?  So my smug-little-self decides to take out the trash (of course a very small bag since environmental smugness and recycling go hand-in-hand) and would you looky here...Plastic baggies with zipper top, batteries, single use Keurig cups, banana peels, a peach pit, and a styrofoam meat tray all getting ready to go to the landfill.  And all completely unnecessary waste.  Perhaps I'm just a mere mortal after all...

So what are the options?  Well, what about trying this:

Most plastic bags can be recycled but they may have to go to a "special" recycling center which can be a pain to find.  I found out that the same recycling bin at my grocery store that will take the plastic grocery bags will also take sandwich style bags as long as the zipper is cut off.  I also know that some people wash and reuse their baggies.  I am  not a huge fan of this option because these bags were not made to be washed and reused.  Aside from the potential for harmful bacterial growth is the fact that the bags are breaking down with use leaching their petrochemicals into whatever you have in the bag.  The best option is to forego the bag completely and find a reusable container that will fit your needs.  This can be super challenging because who is going to pack a glass bowl in their child's lunch, right?  I have found that the reusable bags from snacktaxi ( are a good option, as well as using recyclable plastic containers for dry goods (get a thermos if you're packing anything hot,like soup).

I keep meaning to make the investment in rechargeable batteries.  The problem is that when I remember I need batteries for something tends to be at the checkout when that conveniently placed little package of Duracells jogs my memory.   Despite all my good intentions those old batteries end up in the trash where they get to leach some good ol' heavy metals like mercury and nickel cadmium into the soil.   So if, like me, that rechargeable battery purchase hasn't materialized, be assured that it's actually getting easier to recycle batteries.  A lot of office supply stores are creating drop boxes for battery recycling, as well as bigger chain stores like WalMart.  The best information on how to recycle the battery may come from the packaging itself which frequently gives a website to go to for information.  My plan: hang a bag under the sink, label it 'Batteries', throw all the batteries in there instead of in the trash.  When the bag is full (which will take some time in most households) find a recycling center and take it there.  (Yes that solution did combine two of my favorite things: procrastinating and recycling!)

I'm guilty, guilty, guilty.  We even have the reusable Keurig insert that enables us to put coffee, tea, whatever, into the machine without using the single-use cup.  I don't believe we've ever used it.  Those little cups are so cute, convenient, have great flavors, I can't find my green chai tea in bulk, I've got dozens of reasons why I don't use the reusable cup.  None of them are Green.  The only option is for me to change my wicked ways and use the reusable filter giving the K-cup manufacturers time to develop recylable packaging.  In order to get the green chai tea I love I'm going to have to make it myself.  Here is the recipe:

1/3 c loose green tea
1 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. cloves
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. cardamom

Mix the ingredients together.  If using K-cup reusable filter, put 1 TBSP into the filter, store the remainder in an airtight (glass!) container.  I like to add rice or soy milk to my brewed cup, but that's just me.  Enjoy!

Banana peels and peach pits.  If I had a compost pile these would be excellent candidates to go on that pile.  In the past I haven't felt too bad about throwing away things that will naturally break down because, well, they naturally break down.  They don't clog up landfills for years and years, they self-compost.  Unfortunately this thinking is pretty flawed.  First of all they do clog up landfills because it's not like they break down instantly, it takes time.  Secondly that plastic bag they are stored in isn't exactly breaking down quickly (if at all) either so what good does it do to have some quality compost trapped in plastic for the next millenium?  My quick fix has been to throw a lot of my peels and pits over my deck and into the woods behind my house.  (Note, I own the part I'm using as a personal landfill so no neighbors' rights are being infringed upon).  However creating a heap of rotting food in my backyard isn't exactly composting, so again, not ideal.  I looked it up and composting is actually easy!  Here's what to do:

Choose a shady spot.  Put down your green compost (coffee grounds, fruit and veggie waste,  grass clippings).  Now add your browns (twigs, branches, etc.).  Now add a little water to moisten.  Keep doing this.  Keep a shovel or pitchfork nearby to mix things up every once in a while and make sure to keep it moist.  Your compost will be ready in a few months.  Note: don't let your pile get too large or get too much sun.

Now this is rudimentary composting, at best, but it will work (according to the EPA website) and so I'm going to give it a shot.

Finally the styrofoam meat tray.  The solution to this one is easy: get your meat from the meat counter instead of what's already been packaged and put on the shelf.  You'll get exactly the amount you want, the cut you want, it's fresher, and it will be wrapped in recyclable paper, not stored in styrofoam.

See how easy it is to be Green?  (And think how unbearably smug I can be once I have accomplished all this Greenness!)


Sarcastic Bastard said...

I'm sorry but I don't care one iota about being green. I don't have time to be green. I have a full-time job, a boyfriend, a house to take care of, seven cats, and a dog. I can't be bothered.

I'm okay with being selfish. Actually, more than okay with it.

I'm not green. I'm black. As in death.

And yes, I am grumpy this morning. Go figure.

Beth said...

You know, SB, compost turns a nice dark black color when it's ready to be used...and seeing how you like black and all...

I still love you no matter what color you are!

Sarcastic Bastard said...

And I love you.

Deb said...

What color is smug? Is it green? It's a good thing you're so green, hopefully you'll balance out those of us who think about being green- but just can't seem to make it happen. I'm not black...but I'm not green either, maybe a nice shade of turquoise? Love ya!