Friday, March 28, 2008
A few friends and I had a swap party a few weeks ago (in honor of purge month) where we all brought some of our cast-offs and fought each other for them. I came away with a few gems: a chess board, a mobile making kit, and this mug. I had been coveting one of these fancy traveling mugs for quite some time (to carry my oh-so-grown-up hot cocoa) and lo and behold, there was one in the swap pile. At first I was thinking I could cover up the Kohl's logo on the side, but then I realized, well, what's wrong with expecting great things? So I have now embraced it as my motto as well.
In that vein I headed to my local coffee shop, That Great Coffee Place in Hartland to test the waters to see if by using my super hip new-to-me coffee mug I'd get a discount on a beverage. I didn't seem to get a discount but a) I didn't ask as I felt totally out of place in a coffee shop surrounded by people way hipper and cuter than me and b) they seem to have a discount program for reusable mugs but only if you use a house mug (which my clearly labeled mug is not). The beverage, a cafe mocha, was delicious. While there I inquired about getting their used coffee grounds (like Starbucks' program) for my garden and was told I should follow up with the manager during the week, which I will do and report back to you. It would be quite exciting to bike over to TGCP during the summer and come back with used coffee grounds for my garden. It would add yet another level to my plans for my best garden ever.
Friday, March 21, 2008
One place to find these was given to me by a commenter (they also sell SIGG bottles). It is called Greenraising http://www.greenraising.com and is a fundraising organization you can set up for your school, church or other non-profit organization that sells all sorts of environmentally friendly products. They have lots of other fun bags too, including ones made from juice boxes. Time to contact the PTO!
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Monday, March 17, 2008
A few posts back I promised I would have a talk with the main trash producers in our house (the boys, pictured above) in order to come up with a plan to curb much of our garbage export and in turn stop the need for most of the plastic bags in our house. I imagined a day when taking out the trash would become a chore I never had to do. The boys didn't have much input on the subject, in fact, they kept trying to move the conversation towards discussing the diet they've been put on (our black cat recently weighed in at 22 pounds... this is mortifying as a cat owner). But then... Kris to the rescue!! She sent me this link which posed the question "Can you compost cat poop?" which led to this link about how to do it which then led to this link with all sorts of resources on what type of litter to use. So, I have had composting on the brain lately and think I might just take the plunge. I feel safe doing this as my cats are 100% indoor cats and therefore are very unlikely to carry toxoplasmosis. Even if I don't end up going the composting route, I will for sure be switching to a different type of litter as the evils of clay-based litter are now too obvious to continue to ignore. Based on the kitty litter resource link above I will be attempting to get Swheat Scoop or Feline Pine from Petco in Delafield or Cat's Pride, Feline Pine or Litter Mate from Pet Supplies Plus in Brookfield (their websites say they carry these brands, but I won't know for sure until I check it out in person).
I realize this is a VERY roundabout way of addressing the plastic bag issue, but it ties in somehow. Maybe one of these months we will do a pet care challenge and then I can report back on how my kitty litter composting is coming along. I'm sure you all will eagerly await that post.
Sunday, March 16, 2008
Friday, March 14, 2008
We all know that buying bottled water is bad. And most of us have also learned the scary side of some reusable plastic water bottles, such as Nalgene or other hard plastic bottles. So what to do? You get the world's coolest water bottle, Sigg. They seem too perfect to be true. 0% leaching into the beverages they contain. Recyclable at the end of their life. And they come in really fun designs and colors. I can't seem to find anything wrong with them. Does anyone know something I'm missing?
I know of two local sources that sell Sigg water bottles. REI in Brookfield, where we got our grown-up bottles and the unbearably cute kid sippy cups above. Kris also saw them at Good Harvest Market in Waukesha. Does anyone else know where to find these bottles locally?
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Back in the day (and by that I mean, like, a year ago) I used a ratty, old, plastic ice cream bucket to put my kitchen compost scraps in before hauling them out to my backyard compost bin. Then, one day, brilliance struck. I was unpacking my groceries and silently cursing the fact that once again my bottles of wine had been put in little paper bags inside my cloth bag (I can't really blame the bag packers, as I'm sure they are sternly instructed to do this), when I looked at my ratty-ice-cream-bucket-turned-compost-carrier and then back at the little paper bag and thought, this is it, this is the solution to top all kitchen solutions. Instead of using the ratty ice cream bucket, which would get moldy and disgusting and I'd always end up tossing it after a few weeks instead of bringing myself to wash it, I could instead use these little paper bags to put my kitchen scraps in and then I could bring the whole bag out to the compost bin when needed (in my case, about once a week) and toss the whole thing in, scraps, bag, and all. I just keep a paper bag next to the sink and toss in kitchen scraps when I'm cooking. This has revolutionized my life. Or at least my kitchen life. Because those little paper bags that aren't good for much do accumulate. Like bags from the apple orchard or bags for wine or an odd lunch bag here or there or (as in the photo above) little bags from stores that aren't quite big enough to house my paper recycling. I feel this idea is brilliant. The slightly pathetic visual aid above, not so much.
Kris claims this idea wouldn't work in a house that has more than two people or where people eat more then 1 serving of fruit a week. She may have a point. My composting has been revolutionized, but my intake of fruits and vegetables needs serious improvement.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
We use the plastic grocery bags that we get at the store to line our wastebaskets at home. We don't accumulate that many as we typically use our cloth bags at the store, but the ones that we do get can clutter up a space fairly quickly. To keep them in order I made a plastic bag dispenser from a Dioramarama tutorial I originally found on the Sew, Mama, Sew blog. This is a quick and fun project that will revolutionize your closet or kitchen space. Who knew a plastic bag dispenser could be so cute and so handy?
On this note, I'm with Kris on the thought that by using these plastic bags as wastebasket liners, I'm just justifying the existence of plastic bags. But if I didn't have these 'free' bags from the store, would I buy plastic bags for my trash? I can't see putting my trash in the garbage can without a bag, because then I have visions of all my trash, loose, spewing from the back of the garbage truck. I think the only answer to this is to stop producing ANY trash. I will talk to my two cats (who happen to be the major culprits behind the export of trash from our house) about this issue and get back to you on it.
Friday, March 7, 2008
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
Need a resuable bag? Check out these hip bags made from recycled sails, seatbelts and bike inner tubes! They are locally made in Lake Country and come in many sizes that could be used for a purse, sports, diaper bag, or shopping. Like Courtney said, no one looks good carrying a plastic grocery bag!
Monday, March 3, 2008
February we purged, this month we take steps to make sure our houses don't once again become overrun with stuff. Enter the Reusable Container Challenge. This challenge asks us to take a look at the way we shop, the way we dine, and the way we tote the stuff of our everyday lives from here to there. The American way has led us down a path where we find ourselves carrying our purchases around in plastic bags and carrying our leftover dinners out in Styrofoam boxes. This is, aside from being totally uncool (no one looks hip carrying around a plastic bag, no one), a miserable way to treat our planet. What are plastic bags made from? Oil! Which, last time I checked, is sort of a big deal, the whole oil issue. Consider for a moment a few facts from the reusablebags.com website:
- According to The Wall Street Journal, the U.S. goes through 100 billion plastic shopping bags annually. An estimated 12 million barrels of oil is required to make that many plastic bags.
- Hundreds of thousands of sea turtles, whales and other marine mammals die every year from eating discarded plastic bags mistaken for food.
- Each high quality reusable bag you use has the potential to eliminate an average of 1,000 plastic bags over its lifetime. The bag will pay for itself if your grocery store offers a $.05 or $.10 credit per bag for bringing your own bags.
Over the course of the month we will share local resources to help with the challenge (as well as tips that are universal). But we also want to hear from you fellow Lake Country residents!! In order to encourage participation on our little green blog we are doing our very first contest. So exciting! One lucky Lake Country commenter will win the two reusable bags in the photo above, just by leaving a tip or a question or a comment in our comment section anytime this month. While we love to receive comments from anyone, in order to be eligible to win you must live in Waukesha County, Wisconsin. The winner will be drawn from all the eligible commenters at the end of the month.
A bit more info on the bags: they are made from old curtains, upholstery and clothing scraps and were sewn in a solar-powered studio right here in Hartland, WI. So, not only will they help you live a more eco-friendly life, they were also made with the earth in mind.