Category: green

a case for recycling

May 10th, 2011 — 9:11pm

Field trip to the landfill

Honor had a field trip on Monday to our county landfill. I volunteered to go, not imagining that it would be any fun, but it was actually pretty fascinating. Our county’s landfill is housed on 1500 acres of land, but the planned “footprint” for the actual landfill is 127 acres. It’s currently at 60 acres and they plan to have it full by 2030. According to the landfill’s website, they take in 9lbs of trash per person per day!

It was interesting how the landfill works. They pack trash into sections (I think she said 30’x30′ sections) separated by layers of dirt. After they have reached the top of the section it’s covered over with dirt. Once the landfill is complete, the land can be used for other purposes, even parks.

We learned about how things breakdown in a landfill. Because of the way it is basically packed underground without much air or moisture and especially because we live in such a dry climate, things take FOREVAH to break down. Here’s the list she told the kids about:

Banana peels – 6mo-1year
Hot dog – 10 years
paper – 40 years
soup can – 80 years
diaper – 100 years
soda can or plastic water bottle – 500 years
styrofoam and plastic grocery bags – probably never

I’m a pretty avid recycler, but this these reminders really renewed my passion for recycling. I couldn’t believe that PAPER would take so long to break down in a landfill. It breaks down so quickly in my compost pile! I just don’t see any reason to waste resources and leave trash behind longer than we will be on earth! Especially when recycling is so easy – it just requires a bit of organization and then it takes no more work than throwing things away.

I’ve heard so many arguments against recycling… Sure the recycling system isn’t perfect, especially here. And yes it does cost a little more (for me it’s $2.50 a month) but things that are good for us tend to cost a little more.

I’m going to be thinking about this and writing about this more later but here are my initial thoughts:

•no more ziplocs for lunches – most everything can go in a reusable container or packed in unbleached waxed paper bags that I get at Vitamin Cottage. Bonus points if the kids bring them back home from school and they can go in the compost.

•throw things like popsicle sticks directly into the outdoor fireplace for starting fires. bonus points for making popsicles in reusable containers.

•Find out if I can recycle bread bags with grocery bags. What about the bags that come in cereal boxes?

•Try really hard to only buy products that come in containers that can either be reused or recycled.

More to come.

How does your family recycle? Do you have any ideas for me? And I encourage you, dear reader, to recycle if you don’t.

Comments Off | green


May 16th, 2010 — 8:40pm

Last night we watched Food Inc. I knew as soon as we started to watch it that I would need to make some changes. I think that so much of it resonated with me because it was pointing a direction I was already headed. Also, I just feel that the way we live our lives isn’t the way we’re supposed to live. Things should be simpler but also a little harder. Were such a fast food culture that we take easy in favor of good for us. Maybe taking a step back to the days of preserving and gardening and buying our meat from the local butcher who bought the meat from the local farmer is better. Sometimes, usually, things that are better cost more and take more time.

So here’s what I’m thinking about:
first only buy grass fed beef that hasn’t been given any steroids or antibiotics. The easiest way I can see to do this is to buy a half or quarter of a cow from a local farmer and get it processed and store it in the freezer. Or Jim could go elk hunting which would mean he would have to be lucky enough to draw a tag and lucky enough to actually get an elk. We need to look into it but i foresee hunting to be more risky and expensive than just buying a cow.

Second, find farm raised chicken and eggs. We’re talking real farms where chickens are treated like chickens. There are a few local meat companies where I can check this out. My aunt has been giving me eggs from her chickens. I’m sure I could find more local eggs too.

Third, eat less meat. Jim isn’t going to like this. Eat more fish too. Fish that isn’t dyed pink.

Fourth, preserve as much local food as i can. This means freezing green beans, corn, broccoli (if I can find it) and peas. Canning tomatoes, salsa, spaghetti sauce, peaches, pears, pickles, jam and apple sauce. Some of this will come from our garden, some from local farmers.

Fifth, what I can’t find local, find organic. I always buy organic apples, lettuce, carrots, and bananas anyway. Bell peppers are hard to find organic in the winter especially.

Sixth, look into a small green house for growing organic lettuce and tomatoes, maybe peppers. It grosses me out that tomatoes in the store are picked green and then ripened with gas. No wonder they are tasteless.

Seventh, find local milk. Make my own yogurt. Did you know that commercial yogurt is cultured in the cup? This means that it sits in a plastic cup for at least 5 hours at over 100 degrees. Yuck. Maybe make my own butter if it’s not too hard/time consuming.

Eighth, eat more whole foods. This will be hardest for Jim. We already eat ww bread, but he wont like ww pasta and tortillas. He doesn’t like most beans and grains. All of which I love. This is going to be inconvenient, I know it.

Ninth, this is the part that will be a lot harder for me. Prepare healthy lunches for everyone. When I’m not home, Jim usually runs to the store and grabs a frozen something for lunch. Or he will take the kids to fast food. I have a hard time with ideas for lunches. They need to basically be ready to just heat up. This will be hardest for me because it will require a lot of organization and forethought. All year the kids have had school lunch. They aren’t very healthy at all. Watching the food revolution has increased my guilt about this. Need to not be lazy when it comes to packing lunches.

Tenth, remember that as hard as we will try, it’s ok if someone feeds my kids a happy meal or if we screw up or break down and get taco bell for dinner. It’s not about making a religion out of eating well but about doing the best we can.

I want acknowledge that we’re lucky that I only work part time. None of this would be possible if I worked full time. Also I realize that this is a tall list to complete. I don’t expect to get it all down right away. I expect that somethings will have to be tweaked as we start working on them. But I feel excited about taking charge of what we’re eating. I feel excited about voting with our dollars and saying that we’re not ok with the way things are and that we expect change.

2 comments » | green

eye makeup remover

January 12th, 2009 — 2:09pm

I’ve been trying to do a better job of washing my face every night. (Flossing my teeth too!) But my problem always is that I can’t get my eye makeup off. See? It takes a lot of mascara to get those babies looking even this long.


I used to use a makeup remover made by Beauti Control, but I never wanted to track down a rep to reorder it. I’ve saved my bottle from the last time I had ordered, so I decided to utilize that great container and make my own. I can’t for the life of me find where I got this recipe, but it’s wonderful! I’ve customized it to my preference for baby shampoo and oil:

2 Tbs Burts Bees Baby Wash
1/4tsp sweet almond oil
1 cup distilled water

Mix together and store in an airtight container. Saturate a cotton pad, let rest on your eye for a few seconds and the makeup swishes right off.

Environmentally friendly and cheap too!

3 comments » | crafting, green, projects

diy daily shower spray cleaner

January 5th, 2009 — 11:17pm

I’m a big fan of method cleaning products so I recently bought some of the daily shower spray. The smell, however, smells sort of like feminine hygiene products… not something I’d love my bathroom to smell like. So I emptied the contents of the spray bottle into a jar to be foisted off onto some unsuspecting friend and whipped up my own batch using peppermint scented Dr. Bronners. The smell is MUCH better, we’ll see how well it cleans!

::Recipe:: ::Dr. Bronners::

2 comments » | green


May 8th, 2008 — 5:03pm

I’ve been thinking lately about the packaging that we use. Something like 25% of all garbage is made from packaging. I was eating organic Barbaras cereal today and wondered why they need to package a plastic bag full of cereal inside a paperboard box (paperboard that our late-blooming town won’t recycle). Why not sell cereal in just a plastic bag? Taking that line of reasoning further, maybe I should just start making my own cereal again. I can buy everything in bulk and use these reusable bags to bring it all home.

I’m wanting to cut out my ziploc use too. I’m thinking of ways, and suggestions to eliminate this plastic consumption. What’s your favorite reusable container? I’m also thinking I need to get my hands on some oil cloth so I can make these for sandwiches. Surely my meager sewing skills can handle this. (Don’t you think that Amy Butler fabric on the outside would be so cute?!) And I spent the last of my google money (thank you dear readers for clicking my ads!!!) on this lunch container.

There is just so much to think about! But I’m going to keep taking small steps, think of ways to save money and make a smaller footprint and realize that not everything has to be instant, super convenient and easy. Sometimes it’s the harder things that are more worthwhile. I still can’t help but get a little happy with I dump my laundry soap into the wash and think that I made it all myself!

Edit: Here are some great stainless steel containers too!

4 comments » | green

the point of life

May 2nd, 2008 — 5:41pm

how can I recycle this? – a great blog with tons of ideas for recycling those less-than-usual items.

Also, recycled fencing bags – LOVE them!

And I think I want to start using shampoo bar soap rather than chemicals out of a bottle. Something like this, extra points if I figure out how to make it. (Oh, and I’m going to try.)

But on a more serious note about environmentalism and sustainability, I think I’ve stumbled into something that is just on the verge of giving me an ah-ha! moment. Something that speaks to all parts of who I am and something that is written by someone who, although not a believer, acts and thinks like the Christ that so many of us claim to follow. There are so many parts of what Colin Beavan writes that stuck out to me, but this paragraph says so much:

The point of asking such questions on a personal level–or I should say one of the points–is not to come up with an answer so much as to shake my confidence in the false answers–like that my life is for getting more. Maybe since, as they say, you can’t take it with you, my life is about giving more–which naturally leads to a sustainable lifestyle.

Rather than butcher his words, I will let you read them yourself.

I’m just thinking about how much of my life is inwardly focused, how much of my energy is put into wanting something more, rather than being content with what I have, and how much of our culture is geared to having bigger and better and more and more. Can that really be the point of life? I don’t believe that it is, but are my actions following my beliefs? Dear reader, are your actions following your beliefs?

I have much to think about.

3 comments » | green


March 30th, 2008 — 9:33pm

I wanted to give an update on my homemade detergents now that I’ve had some time to use them.

The laundry detergent is perfect. The smell is fantastic and the clothes come out smelling clean, not heavily perfumed. (Can you tell when people use Tide? I always can.) My skin hasn’t had any problems at all, neither has Honor’s. And the clothes come perfectly clean too.

The dish detergent, however, is still not perfect. The first few loads of dishes came clean, but now the glasses are cloudy and any remaining speck of food left on the dishes prior to loading remains there. So I tried adding a little vinegar to the rinse cycle. (Who wants to babysit their washer tho? It takes an hour for my dishes to get to the rinse cycle.) It helped, but it wasn’t enough. I started thinking about what makes the laundry detergent work and not the dish detergent: the lack of actual soap. So I’ve been squirting a little bit of regular dish soap (Method brand pink grapefruit, of course) into the soap cup. It seems to be working, but still needs further testing.

I’m also going to try corn starch. I read that it makes your glasses sparkly clean. Plus I’m hoping it will help with the major caking issue of the detergent. (Which is not so with the laundry soap.) I also might try Zote bar soap grated up in with the dish detergent as I heard that it is food safe, but this needs further research.

Anyway, I’ll get it figured out… I’m determined now! And just as soon as I do, I’ll post results.

2 comments » | green

the christian way

March 25th, 2008 — 4:36pm

“How we treat the creation reveals how we feel about the creator.” – Rob Bell

I have not yet had the time to research it in the Bible specifically, but I personally believe that it is a Christian principle to take care of the planet that we live on. I am happy to see that my beliefs are being echoed amongst many mainstream Christian leaders.

(Please note: I do not necessarily agree with all statements made in the above link. But I do feel that it is a large step in the right direction and worthy of commendation.)

4 comments » | church/spiritual beliefs, green

homemade detergents

March 4th, 2008 — 8:00am

Since I began my quest to make our house more enviro friendly, I’ve changed out a lot of my cleaning supplies. I now use baking soda and vinegar for the majority of my cleaning (who knew that old newspapers and vinegar water were the very best window cleaner?). I switched from Cascade to 7th generation for my dishwasher detergent and I’ve also been using Method dish soap, hand soap and spray cleaners for several years. The one thing I never switched out was our laundry detergent.

Not only is the eco friendly very expensive, but I think I was most worried that it would have bad effects on mine and Honor’s skin. We are both SO sensitive, the only thing that I’ve found to work and have used for years is Target’s brand of baby detergent. (Even the name brand bothered me a bit!)

So when I ran across this recipe for homemade laundry detergent, I got all excited. Could I possibly make eco friendly detergent that would be tres cheap? Well, I did. And it works!

I’ve yet to wear the clothes to see how the effect my skin, but I can tell you that they came out of the machine perfectly clean. Here’s the recipe I used:

1 bar Fels naptha soap, grated in the small side of a box grater (be patient, watch your knuckles!)
1 cup Arm and Hammer washing soda (sodium carbonate as opposed to Baking soda – sodium bicarbonate)
1 cup Borax
10-15 drops grapefruit essential oil
Mix together well. (I used my hands to help break up the curls of grated soap.) Store in airtight container.

For “fabric softener”
2 cups white vinegar
10 drops grapefruit essential oil

Dump 2 Tbs. soap mixture in your washer. Turn water on on the hot setting. Fill with enough hot water to dissolve soap. Turn water to cold. Add 1/4 cup of vinegar to fabric softener cup of washer. Run your cold cycle as usual. Wonderful!!

homemade dish and laundry detergents

Making my own laundry soap also got me thinking that I could make my own dish detergent and save a bundle (I’m currently paying about $5 every two weeks for 7th generation detergent! ouch!). I think I’m even more excited about the dish detergent than I am the laundry.

1/4 cup citric acid (I bought this at our local brew shop. It’s about $3 for a pound.)
1 cup washing soda
1 cup borax
1/4 cup salt
a few drops grapefruit essential oil (can you tell I like grapefruit?)

I disbursed 2 Tbs between the pre-wash and wash cups. The dishes came out way better than they do with 7th generation. My rinse cup is still full of Jet Dry and when that runs out, I’ll keep it filled with vinegar to keep the water spots down.

EDIT: After much testing, I’ve determined that the homemade dish detergent just doesn’t clean good enough. I am now mixing it half and half with 7th Generation detergent with awesome results. I feel like it’s a good money saving/green compromise.

Where to find borax, washing soda, fels naptha:
I found all of this at my local Kroger grocery store. The borax and washing soda were both next to each other in the laundry aisle. Washing soda was under $2 and the borax was $3.50. Fels naptha was on the same aisle but way at the other end. It’s just a bar of soap made for pre treating laundry (I will use this when my can of spray and wash runs out.) It was just over $1.

11 comments » | green

green bathrooms

January 2nd, 2008 — 2:24pm

10 ways to green up your bathroom from Tiny Choices.

I need to work harder on almost all of these! What I wish is that recycled TP was cheaper!

4 comments » | green

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