Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A spot for thoughts...

And links.

Today, while walking in the sunshine I had a though (which, can be very dangerous!); why not make a blog of all my 'environmentally friendly' thoughts, info and links? A place to keep all my 'green stuff' I find together, and maybe even help out my fellow 'average Joe' who's thinking of making small, or even large changes in their lives. we go! I'm so excited!

Let's start simple. I'm going to start from the beginning: REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE.

Everyone knows about recycling, but what I would like to stress is the other 2 "R"'s which don't get the recognition they should.
I just found this website, and it's EXACTLY what I was thinking! How handy is that?!?

First: Reduce

The critical first step of waste prevention has been overshadowed by a focus on recycling. Please help to promote a greater awareness of the importance of the "Reduce" part of the Reduce-Reuse-Recycle mantra. For a great overview of how raw materials and products move around the world, see the video The Story of Stuff.

  • Simplify: Simplify your life as much as possible. Only keep belongings that you use/enjoy on a regular basis. By making the effort to reduce what you own, you will naturally purchase less/create less waste in the future. For information on voluntary simplicity, check out Voluntary Simplicity Websites. Learn more through books on voluntary simplicity.
  • Reduce Purchases: In general, think before you buy any product - do you really need it? How did the production of this product impact the environment and what further impacts will there be with the disposal of the product (and associated packaging materials)? When you are thinking about buying something, try the 30-Day Rule -- wait 30 days after the first time you decide you want a product to really make your decision. This will eliminate impulse buying.
  • The Compact: Join or form a Compact in your area - groups all across the globe committing for 12 months to not buy any new products (see lower right sidebar for groups).
  • Replace Disposables: Wherever possible, replace disposable products with reusable ones (i.e., razor, food storage, batteries, ink cartridges (buy refill ink), coffee filters, furnace or air conditioner filters, etc.).
  • Buy Used: Buy used products whenever possible. Some sources:
  • Borrow From Friends: If you only need something temporily, ask if a friend or neighbor would loan it to you.
  • Share With Friends: Share things like books, magazines, movies, games, and newspapers between friends and neighbors.
  • Tree-Free Home: As much as possible, create a tree-free home:
    • replace paper napkins with cloth napkins
    • replace paper towels with a special set of cloth towels/napkins (or cut up old t-shirts for great towels) - store the used ones in a small container in your kitchen and just wash and reuse
    • purchase bleach-free, toilet paper that is made from the highest post-consumer waste content you can find (80% minimum)
    • if you print documents, print on once-used paper and/or bleach-free, recycled paper with the highest post-consumer waste content available (or hemp/alternative-source paper, if you can afford it)
    • reuse envelopes, wrapping paper, the front of gift cards (as postcards) and other paper materials you receive wherever possible
    • read books, magazines, and newspapers from your local library
    • create and use note pads from once-used paper
    • leave messages for family members/roommates on a reusable message board
    • make your own cards/letters from once-used products or handmade paper
    • if you will be doing construction on your house, search out alternatives to using newly cut wood (no endorsement of any company intended):
  • Bulk Purchases: Avoid products that are packaged for single use (i.e., drinks, school lunches, candy, cat and dog food, salad mixings, etc.). Instead, buy in bulk and transfer the products to your own reusable containers. Many health food stores have bulk bins where they sell everything from grains to cereal to cleaning products. For additional ideas, read the Precycling information page.
  • Buy Only What You Need: Buy only as much as you know you'll use for items such as food, cleaning supplies, and paint.
  • Avoid Creating Trash: Avoid creating trash wherever possible: when ordering food, avoid receiving any unnecessary plastic utensils, straws, etc. (ask in advance), buy ice cream in a cone instead of a cup, don't accept "free" promotional products, buy products with the least amount of packaging, etc. Every little bit of trash avoided does make a difference!
  • Shopping Bags: While shopping, if you only buy a few products skip the shopping bag. For larger purchases, bring your own. Learn about the dangers of plastic bags and what countries around world are doing about it ("The Dangers of Plastic Bags" slide show from Teacher Vishal Mody).
  • Junk Mail: For ideas on how to reduce junk mail, check out:
  • Waste-Free Lunches: Pack a Waste-Free Lunch whenever possible.
  • Mug-to-Go: Carry a mug with you wherever you go for take out beverages.
  • Address Early Consumption Habits: New American Dream offers tips for protecting your children from intrusive and harmful advertising that promotes mindless consumption.
  • Encourage Hotels to Reduce Waste: When staying at a hotel, motel, or bed and breakfast let the management know that you like to support businesses that adopt environmentally responsible practices (including reducing waste). Print out and drop off the Sustainable Solutions for Green Hotels environmental tips list. To locate environmentally friendly hotels, search on the Internet under "ecotourism" and/or visit Green Hotels Association.

Second: Reuse

The media has done a wonderful job of selling us on the attractiveness and benefits of buying "new", "improved", "special", etc. products. However, we already collectively own so much that we could all survive for quite a while on the existing products - if we just reused them a few times!

  • Garage Sales: Shop at and hold garage sales - this is a great way to reuse products.
  • Reusables: Switch from disposable to reusable products: food and beverage containers, cups, plates, writing pens, razors, diapers, towels, shopping bags, etc.
  • Donations: Donate your old:
    • household items - clothes, furniture, dishes, books, sports equipment, magazines, appliances, electronics, business attire, wedding attire, etc. (to charity)
    • computer equipment
    • building material (to companies who specialize in selling used material)
    • cell phones and ink cartridges (to Cure Recycling - profits from reuse of items support the CURE Childhood Cancer organization. Free postage. Another place to donate cell phones is Collective Good). If you would like to start your own recycling program, check out Wireless Recycling. Learn how to erase cell phone data with this free data eraser.
    • eyeglasses (to Lions Club, For-Eyes, Pearle, or Lenscrafters)
    • extra hangers (to your local dry cleaners)
    • art materials (to a school or cultural organization)
    • unwanted boxed/bagged/canned food (to homeless shelters, food banks, or soup kitchens)
    • etc.
  • Buy/Sell Used Items: Buy and sell your items on sites such as:
  • Freecycle: The Freecycle Network provides an online community tool for giving and receiving free stuff.
  • Share: thingloop facilitates sharing our belongings with each other.
  • Throwplace: lets you list items online that you would like to give to nonprofit organizations, businesses, or individuals.
  • Community Swap: Organize a community swap program (i.e., designate a place where people can leave unwanted items for others to use).
  • Packing Peanuts: Drop off at a local packing, shipping or moving store.
  • Wash and Reuse Plastic Bags: With either a wooden bag dryer or in the washing machine.
  • Buy Durables: Buy products that will last and take care of them.
  • Teach Thrift: Teach your children the value of being thrifty (the wise economy in the management of money and other resources; frugality).
  • Frugal Printing: Use both sides of each piece of paper -- for note taking or printing documents from your computer (at home or work). Create note pads by stapling together once-used paper.
  • Kitchen Reuseables: Instead of buying these items new, save and reuse all: paper bags, rubber bands, twisties, boxes, and packaging material. Reuse your plastic bags with a handy bag dryer.
  • Library: Pick up books from your local library or used book store. The library is also many times a great place for finding magazines, CDs, books-on-tape, and videos.
  • Share with Neighbors: Join in with neighbors to purchase infrequently used products such as lawn mowers, ladders, etc.
  • Refurbished Computers: Buy refurbished computers for less
  • Rechargeable Batteries: Purchase rechargeable batteries and a battery recharger (some battery rechargers will also recharge regular alkaline batteries). Solar powered battery rechargers are available online.
  • College Reuse: Dump and Run is a nonprofit organization that organizes the collection of college students' castoff items in the spring, so they can be sold to incoming students in the fall. The proceeds are then donated to nonprofits.

Third: Recycle

We all know (and do - I hope!) how to recycle. This should be the LAST of the 3 "R"'s to happen. We really need to start focusing on the first 2.

There is a TONNE more information on the site, and if you've made it this far - BRAVO! ;)
(I'll try to make my other posts a bit simpler!)