A More Sustainable Lunches Continues… the HORROR of ziplock bagsOct. 15th

ziplocksI have a confession to make: I use ziplock bags, a lot of them. Before my son started kindergarten, it would take at least 6 months to go through the box of ziplock bags, but suddenly, with packing school lunches for a picky eater, I have been going through 1 box every month. I hate to think that I’m contributing to the giant trash gyre of the pacific, or to my family’s exposure to endocrine disruptors released by plastics. Plastic, a ubiquitous part of modern life, is very hard to eliminate from the household. I remember one playdate I went to where the house was pretty much plastic free. I was so envious of the amount of jars and pretty ceramic containers that they had. So, I’ve tried to start, with one container at a time, one less processed food at a time. After all, my cupboard used to be full of Teflon non-stick pans  and one by one I replaced them with safer (and more expensive) options. One step at a time, I CAN do this!! I’m not much of a seamstress, so luckily there’s Etsy with lots of options for hand-made reusable bags.handmade bags When choosing fabrics, you want to look for BPA and phthalate free material as the liner, as some are made with cheaper PVC plastic that is not safe for packaging food. When I googled “do it yourself sandwich bags”, the first link was to a better homes and garden article which says to use the PVC fabric because it is easier to sew than ripstop nylon. If you are handier at sewing than I am, you can look at do it yourself materials on the internet like this. Your kids will enjoy picking their own fabrics and you can teach them how to sew with this really easy first project. You can even sell them for your PTA fundraiser instead of candy or other junk food popularly used as fundraiser fare. So, who’s with me in dumping plastic ziplock bags?

Guest Blogger: Rebecca Wolthers, parent educator and aspiring green mom

A More Sustainable Lunch Continues….Oct. 8th

Today’s entry focuses on how to reduce waste and packaging when it comes to the lunchbox. In our featured video, Lily shows us not only what the contents of her lunch look like but how it is packed.

  • reduce, reuse, recycle may be words that seem over played but they really cut to the basics and are in the right order of operations. If you are striving for a more whole foods diet for health reasons for example, you will have the bonus of reducing plastic and cardboard packaging that are ubiquitous in the processed food aisles of the grocery store. You may also be using more bulk foods, which will prompt you to have glass or tin containers to hold your bulk foods, and nearly completely eliminate plastic containers and throw away boxes. Instead of grabbing a box of “insert comfort food here” you may learn how to make more things from scratch, one recipe at a time replacing such things as granola bars and cookies and turning them into secret power foods with nut butters and coconut sugars instead of processed sugars and empty calories.
    • DO THIS MORE: Bulk foods are now widely available

bulkaisle

 

AND LESS OF THIS: health food stores have attractive and tempting packaging!

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Sometimes it is easier to get kids on board than to “sustain” sustainability, so we want to hear about your “reduce” and “reuse” hacks, including containers, bento boxes, lunch bags, etc… especially home made and low cost options. Here’s a great read on high quality sustainable and safe lunch boxes, Here’s some wild ideas from a sustainable restaurateur to cut your food waste, including how to tell if your eggs have gone bad, and some pretty wild ideas on how to eliminate packaging in your kitchen or pantry.

Coming soon, a guest blog on healthy lunch ideas, organic and humane products, local and home grown produce, and recipes galore!!

Reduce, Reuse, RecycleAug. 1st

Weekly Health & Green Tips

Each week, a new letter of the alphabet is introduced that represents a simple idea – a reminder of the small things we can do to make a big difference in the health of our families and the well-being of our planet.

R= Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle

 

The “reduce, reuse, recycle” slogan has been taught to school kids since the first Earth Day in 1970. Unfortunately, the United States Environmental Protection Agency reports that the amount of waste generated in the United States has continued to increase over the last four decades. Despite the popularity of recycling programs and “go green” marketing campaigns, we still need to work hard to cut down on what we send to the landfill every week.

The average American creates over 4 pounds of waste every day. Easy Ways To Reduce Your Family’s Landfill Impact/

  • Buy in bulk. One large container typically uses less packaging materials than several small, individually packaged items.
  • Reuse lunch containers. Replace plastic baggies with reusable containers and pack everyone’s lunches into lunch boxes instead of paper or plastic bags.
  • Bring your own coffee mug. Many stores will offer a discount for refills if you bring your own travel mug for coffee or soda drinks instead of using disposable cups.
  • Reduce your junk mail. Ask to be removed from mailing lists to cut down on the piles of unwanted paper that end ob in your mailbox.

Although the mantra has been repeated for decades, reducing, reusing and recycling are still the three most powerful ways to cut down on the amount of waste you send to the landfill.

 

Learn More Get even more ideas for reducing the amount of trash you create. The EPA provides more information about the benefits of reducing waste. KidsBeGreen.org can help you teach kids the benefits of reducing, reusing and recycling.

Let’s un-plastic!Jul. 1st

The latest installment of Simple as ABC had me thinking! I really do need to get rid of plastic! But as I look in my kitchen cabinets, it seems that is all I have. But my story with plastic goes further back….My mom was a Tupperware manager. Yes…she was awesome at her job of selling Tupperware…so much so that it got us to Disneyworld, a new station wagon and one of those huge stereos with an 8-Track player in it! OK, so I’m dating my self, but I grew up on loving this stuff! And I still do! So when I first heard the title, ZAP Plastic Crap…I was like…no way..not mine. BUt as I read more, I understood what the article was really try to say….not to waste plastic (by throwing it away), but instead buying and using wisely. So banish the plastic bags and use containers that are safe for food. I have plenty of that!

It was hard at first, to be using containers for the girls snacks and lunches, especially since plastic bags are so convenient. But after a few days, it became easier.

And it simply made more sense! And really I had just a few more dishes to do, but nothing that the girls can’t rinse out themselves. Little changes really do make all the big difference. It’s not as hard as I thought it would be…and I’m passing on a great lesson to my girls too! How are you doing with zapping the plastic???

Holiday ReduxMar. 23rd

< Back

H = Holiday Redux

Starting new traditions centered around giving is a great way to teach kids the real meaning of the holidays.

Image from shopgirlmaria.blogspot.com

Even if you keep your consumerism in check most of the time, it can be easy to lose sight of responsible spending and sensible consumption when the holidays roll around. It seems like we’ve been conditioned to celebrate birthdays and other special occasions by buying new things for each other, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Starting new traditions centered around giving of yourself and helping others is a great way to teach kids the real meaning of holidays and to reinforce the values of conservation and resourcefulness all year round.

It’s estimated that Americans throw away 25% more garbage during holidays than other times of year.

Simple Steps

  • Give the gift of service and time. Instead of buying new gadgets for your family and friends, set aside time to do something special for the people you care about. Whether it’s a lunch date with your parents or a day of doing chores for your kids, you’ll set an example that time is more important than stuff.
  • Make donations that count. Celebrate your friends’ birthdays by making a donation in their name to their favorite charity or a local organization with whom they volunteer. This is a great way to show that you care about the causes that are important to them.
  • Ask for donations from party guests. Instead of having friends bring new toys to your child’s birthday party, ask for donations to be made to a charity of your child’s choosing. This is a great opportunity to talk to your children about helping other kids who are living with less.
  • Have a handmade holiday. There’s no limit to the gifts you can make using your own talents. Bake cookies, frame a photograph you took, or paint a picture. Encourage your kids to get involved in making gifts for family members, including you and their siblings.

Learn More

Image from craftsy.com

The Environmental Protection Agency offers several tips for reducing waste during the holidays. Walletpop also has ideas for being more environmentally friendly during the holidays.

‘Tis the Season to Do Good!Nov. 1st

I am a firm believer that our actions are always painting a picture of who we are, what we believe in and what is important to us. Especially where it comes to how we spend our hard-earned, fiercely sought-after, making the world go round money.

I love it when I find an organization that hits on all levels. Great product. Conscious citizen of the planet. Gives back. Excellent customer service. It almost sounds too good to be true, but I swear its out there.

I was very fortunate a couple of weeks ago to attend an event (Creative Alliance 10) that had a couple of exemplary sponsors, and for now I want to focus on Paper Culture.

For the earth conscious crowd, Paper Culture uses 100% post consumer content recycled paper on high-quality 130lb stock (which is very substantial and durable) and plants a tree in a US National Forest with EVERY order!hlannan_ho_h_joy_f_green_548B_2

For the hip-designer crowd, Paper Culture features really great looking, modern designs AND gives you access to a professional designer AT NO EXTRA CHARGE!

For the very busy, Paper Culture had an amazingly fast turnaround time (which I cannot personally guarantee as the holiday approaches, but in my experience I had cards in my hand in 3 business days,) AND offers a FREE mailing option. They will address and add a personalized message to every card for only the cost of the stamp. Really.

And for the skeptical, Paper Culture offers a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee.

Enough, enough already! you say. Well, I wish I could appease you, but there is another amazing thing about Paper Culture. They like to give back. A lot.

Paper has a policy of donating a portion of every sale in support of sustainability, family and education. One of their pet projects is Somaly Mam, an incredible organization named after an even more incredible woman who broke free of the sex-slave trade and has gone on to help thousands of other women do the same.

They have offered a code for all the women who attended Creative Alliance 10 to offer all the people they reach. Use this code: CA10 at checkout to know that 20% of your purchase will go to support Somaly Mam.paper_culture_lily

Disclosure: I did receive a $50 gift certificate from Paper Culture, but it was not in exchange for this or any other review. Once I knew of them, I would have shouted this out regardless.

Come On and Compost!Jun. 10th

Composting is one of the ways that we get to practice the Reduce and ReUse elements of Reduce, ReUse, Recycle. By starting a composting practice you are reducing the amount of waste that makes its way to our landfills and you are creating a wonderful organic mixture to help your garden grow!compost_bucket

I have been interested in starting a compost pile ever since I saw my friends beautiful backyard filled with flowers and herbs and vegetables, etc. She walked around and pointed out several lovely plants telling me they were volunteers. In response to my puzzled look, she went on to explain that when you compost, seeds that dont decompose completely can actually grow a new plant, hence her lovely watermelon plant.

Click here for some good general information (and inspiration) to start your own compost pile.

So Ive started my compost at long last. I havent gotten through to the part where I get to put the humus in the ground, but it feels good every time I add to the bin instead of adding to the trash. I have notice at least a bag less of full_bintrash each weekfirst_offering_bin Reduce & Re-Use” in action!lily_bin