Posted by: Nim | February 11, 2010

Plastics and eco-friendliness

via Plastics are so darn eco-friendly : Blisstree – Family, Health, Home and Lifestyles.

Yet more reasons to ditch plastics this year.  A rebuttal to the Plastic Council’s “Plastic is eco-friendly” campaign, for your reading pleasure, via Blisstree.

February update: I went to the store this morning and of course was in a hurry so left my bag in the car.  I stacked my groceries and walked them to the car in my arms.  I must’ve looked crazy, but I’m sticking to my guns on the no-bags thing.

I haven’t packed up any foods in the last week, so there hasn’t been any “what do I do about this food storage plastic” angst yet.  I did return all the Gladware I had in my house, though.  Friends were happy to have the containers back.

via Plastics and eco-friendliness.

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Posted by: Nim | February 8, 2010

Are you clearcutting Rocky Mountain National Park?

According to this article Junk Mail Madness – How to Make it Stop! | Care2 Healthy & Green Living,  800 pieces of junk mail are delivered to each household in America each year.  It goes on to say that comes to 100 million trees each year, just in junk mail. That’s “equivalent to clear cutting all of Rocky Mountain National Park, every four months.”

I’m trying to do the math, because that is a crazy lot of trees.

According to an estimate given at Wiki Answers, there were 113,567,967 American households in 2009.  Care2’s article says 800 pieces of mail are delivered annually to each household.  Using very very broad math to keep things simple, let’s say there are only 100 million US households receiving the junk mail that equals 100 million trees.  So every household gets 1 tree’s worth of junk mail, according to those figures.  And therefore, 1 tree yields 800 pieces of junk mail.

That seems like precious few sheets of paper per tree.

After tracking down a few links to Conservatree, it looks like the best estimate is that one ream of copier paper (500 sheets) uses 6% of a tree. But junk mail comes in all sorts of papers.

Ok, so how many pages of each does an “average” household get?  Based wholly on my own junk mail, in a typical month I’ll get 2-3 magazines or catalogs I didn’t want, 4 newspaper-type fliers, and roughly 20 envelopes full of 4-5 pages of basically copier paper. I check my post office box once a month, and that’s typically what pours out.  Randomly through the year I’ll also get some 401k voter proxies that are about a hundred pages of a cross between newspaper and copier paper.If the magazines and catalogs  are about 80 pages each

So for me, one household, that’s:

24-36 magazines annually x 80 pages = 1920 to 2880 magazine pages.
Let’s call it 2400 since that’s midway and I know some of my junk envelopes have glossy pages in them, too.

48 newspapers x about 8 pages each = 384 newspaper pages.

240 envelopes filled with
960-1200 copier pages.  Taking the average, that’s 1080 pages and 240 envelopes, a total of 1320 copier sheets.

2400 glossy sheets
384 news sheets
1320 copier sheets

I know from other equations on Conservatree’s site that 1320 copier pages = about .16 trees.  Just for me. Just for my copier paper junk mail.

Here’s where I get fuzzy and have to guess.  I don’t know how much magazine or newspaper sheets weigh.  I know how many tons of each use so many trees, but I’m certain that each sheet does not weigh the same as copier paper sheets.  Let’s basically throw out figuring out how many sheets of each type of paper I get and just say they’re all copier paper, which is by far the most trees-per-ton usage.  So this will be a high ballpark estimate.

2400 magazine sheets calculated like copier paper uses .28 trees.  384 newspaper pages mathed like copier pages is .046 trees.  My tree total at the high end is now .48, almost half a tree annually.

If I were to assume instead that it was all low-end magazine paper, which uses 8 trees per ton rather than 24 trees per ton for copy paper, then does my tree usage go down by one-third?  That’s assuming that you get the same number of sheets per ton, which I know can’t be right.  I’ll have to stick to the high numbers.

Ok, at the end of all of that, I have half a tree every year, just in junk mail (if it was all copy paper).  My personal estimate may be off, as I’ve tried to spurn junk mail through the years, and I’m a very small (smaller than average) household.  I can also easily imagine that I’ve skewed my junk mail down by half, especially given that during the holidays I’m sure I got way more junk catalogs and year-end offers for credit cards.

So yeah, I can see that an average household could get enough junk mail to destroy one tree each year, for a total of 100 million trees.

I’m going back to the Care2 article now, and seeing what I can do to reduce the junk mail I get.  Also, the next time I change my address, I’m not forwarding my mail.  I’m going to contact my mailers directly and change my address with them.

Posted by: Nim | February 5, 2010

Valentine’s Day Worthy Reusable Bags

From: Valentine’s Day Worthy Reusable Bags : Blisstree – Family, Health, Home and Lifestyles.

If you’re still getting on board with my January plastic-reduction goal, here are some cute bags gathered by Blisstree’s Jennifer Chait.  I’ve reblogged, starred, and shared tons of her entries in the course of this Earthdaily blog!

Enjoy.

I’m still bagless even though the Walgreens guy looked at me kind of weirdly as I balanced all my goods on top of my Kleenex box. Once at the car, I got my purchases into my backpack with no problem, though, and so I remain steadfast on the no-bags rule.

via Valentine’s Day Worthy Reusable Bags.

Posted by: Nim | February 1, 2010

February: reduce food storage plastic

So far, January’s goal of reducing and ultimately removing the plastic bags one gets from stores from my life worked pretty well.  I have 2 canvas bags sitting in my car last night, ready for tonight’s shopping; they served well for last night’s shopping and I think I’m well into remembering to return them to the car once the groceries are put away (or the next morning, as the case usually is).

Bye bye!

Now for February, I think I’ll move to the next part in the chain and stop using plastic to store my foods once they’re prepared.  Of course, I can recycle the plastics I already do have, but it’s always better to reuse, even before recycling.  To that end, I’m going to use up some ingredients in my house (dietary change is coming anyway) and maybe make some delicious things for my friends and family, and use the containers to give the food in.

Here are some ideas I have for reducing the plastic from getting into my life:

  • Stop using “reusable” and “disposable” plastic storage containers.  Remember how these were marketed when they first came out?  It was like Tupperware (which no one wanted to lose) but way more cheaply made and short-lived, so you wouldn’t mind “sharing” them with your friends and family (and thus lose them).  Instead, I’ll use jars and pyrex dishes.
  • Stop using plastic storage containers as from restaurants.  Two ideas here:  1) order smaller portions that I don’t need to take home, or share more entrees.   This’ll help the ol’ waist line, too.  2) Bring my own container for take-aways.  That’s right, I’ll be looked at strangely, but who cares?  This is something I’m doing for my own health and that of the planet, ultimately.  Who cares if I get a few stares?
Posted by: Nim | January 29, 2010

A better way to give

Today I read this story: Switchboard, from NRDC :: Kaid Benfield’s Blog :: Downsizing for charity: how less became more for one family.  This family downsized and gave half the proceeds to charity.  It came to about $800k, so it’s by far not your typical American family to begin with, but still, it got me thinking about an idea I had a while back.

What if we all truly tithed?  I don’t mean tossing a 20 into the collection plate at a church.  I don’t even mean tithing just money, necessarily.  What if, as a society, we valued giving and volunteering and being helpful so much that it was no problem to give 10% of our money or our coffee or our lunch or our energy to someone else?

Or—if we were in the tax bracket that truly cannot afford even one dollar less of our own money to go to something other than our insurance, food, or some other actual need—what if our employers were not just fine about giving time off for volunteer works, they encouraged it?  Maybe having employees who gave their time consistently could even be an enviable metric for successful companies.

What if every 1 day out of 10, I was encouraged to go work a paid work-day for Habitat? Or if my employer was more flexible, what if 1 month of 10 I could get time off to go build a home for someone?  Or even, what if 1 year of every 10, I dedicated myself to a charity, like City Year?

Wouldn’t that look good on a company’s metrics?  X number of hours dedicated to charity by their employees?  X percentage of man-hours given back to the world?  Of course, a company could write off all those hours as charity they themselves had given.  After all, if they pay me for a day that I work for a charity, that’s the company money going right to charity, right?  I’d like to think that the bottom line could stop being the bottom line.  I’d like to imagine that folks are past the idea of paying the cheapest price possible for an item, regardless of the human cost.

I’d like to imagine the folks running companies, especially the ones running mine, would see the merit of human compassion and the holistic view of the world and their company as a healthy part of it.

Posted by: Nim | January 26, 2010

More ideas for recycled bags

via Eco Etsy Street Team Blog.

Wow, many of these bags identified by Etsy (link above) are really amazing!  I especially like the T-shirt “ransom note” styled bag shown here.  Cause I gots me some shirts!

As for my own plight to use no shopping plastic bags, I failed when I got takeout food.  I totally forgot they would bag up my order and voila!  There’s a plastic bag right there.  It would have been very easy if I’d just get into the habit of stashing a bag in my jacket pocket or even carrying one inside ANY store I go to.

Like most frugal or green ideas, it’s more about being mindful and planning ahead slightly than any real effort or deprivation.

Posted by: Nim | January 22, 2010

Clogged drains: More vinegar and baking soda love

Oh, how I love vinegar and baking soda even more each day!  Check out this excerpt from the article linked below, and enjoy free-flowing drains!

“Here’s the magic recipe for clear drains: boiling water, baking soda, and white vinegar.

Seriously, these pantry finds do the trick. Make it a habit to pour boiling water down your drains every week or so; it helps melt the grease. I simply do this with the leftover hot water from my kettle when I make tea. And periodically (say, every month), disinfect your drains with this little homemade recipe:

1. Pour a cup of baking soda down the drain followed by a cup of white vinegar (pour the vinegar down slowly as it will start to fizz up.)

2. Cover the drain and let it sit for a few minutes.

3. Then pour about a gallon of boiling water down the drain.”

via Clogged drains: More vinegar and baking soda love.

Posted by: Nim | January 20, 2010

Living without Plastic (from care2.com)

Living without Plastic – and Teaching Others How to Do It.

Warming: pretty grisly image of an albatross carcass on the first page of this article.  It is, however, very indicative of another big problem with plastics: how they pollute our world and become “food” for animals, ultimately killing them.

The article is a plea to stop using plastics and a proposal for one woman to live without plastics in her life and write about the experience.  Of course since I’ve made that resolution myself, I thought I’d share!

You can vote for Beth and her project at deserveschanges.com, linked at the bottom of her article.

via Living without Plastic (from care2.com).

Posted by: Nim | January 19, 2010

Crafting with throw-aways

via Great Green Goods – Shopping the Eco-friendly Way! – Shopping Blog – All made from recycled materials » Blog Archive » Crafting with Recycled Materials.

Ah, nothing says green crafting like using your trash as craft materials.  Yep, that’s recycling at its basic form: re-use!

Read this article (linked above) from Great Green Goods.  Then do yourself a favor and go join your local library and request the books if they’re not on the shelves already.  Most of the time, your library will get the books via interlibrary loan.  Make friends with the librarian and I bet he or she will share your desire for these books; and they’ll be helpful for other patrons as well!

That’s one less book you have to shelve, dust, pack (if you move a lot, like I tend to), and generally keep up with.  That’s also a cost savings for not buying (and shipping, or gas for picking it up at a bookstore PLUS gas and shipping they spent getting the book there to begin with), AND it’s a resource savings for you and everyone else who can use the book from your library.  Sucks a little for the authors, but as eco-friendly types, I bet they’ll understand!

Posted by: Nim | January 13, 2010

January plastic goal: No more plastic bags at stores

This one’s easy enough.  I’ve stashed a few (of my millions of) canvas bags in my car and refused plastic bags when I’ve forgotten my bags in the car.

Today I used one of these bags to carry my lunch in, which further gets the canvas into my consciousness and keeps me remembering it.  🙂 Last night I bought yarn and accepted no plastic bag for it, then stowed my purchase in the bag I knew was (finally) in my car.  When I stopped at the grocery store a few minutes later, I took the bag inside with me and used it as a shopping basket as I browsed around.  So far, so good!

You can make your own cloth bag easily enough:
…from a T-shirt.
…from plastic bags.
…from a birdseed (or other feed/rice) bag.
…from pillow cases.

And that’s just a single search of Instructables.com!

You can purchase a bag of course, but be aware that this will include packaging and implied waste/costs.  If at all possible, avoid buying new things to be “green”.  You definitely have your own resources at hand!

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