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February 24th, 2014

6 Surprising Things You Can Recycle

Groovy Green Livin Recycle

Do you recycle?

Recycling allows us to reuse materials, which in turn conserves natural resources. It also saves water and energy, improves air and water quality, lowers pollution and greenhouse gas emissions and preserves landfill space. The national recycling rate has increased every year for the past 30 years. The current recycling rate is about 34.7%. We can certainly do better!

There are many creative ways to improve our recycling statistics. Here are a few surprising things that we can all try to recycle.

Running Shoes

Nike’s Reuse-A-Shoe Program

Nike’s Reuse-A-Shoe program takes old running shoes that would otherwise end up in a landfill and grinds them down to create a new material called Nike Grind, which is used to make high-quality sports surfaces including courts, turf fields, tracks and more. Since 1990, they’ve transformed 28 million pairs of shoes and 36,000 tons of scrap material into Nike Grind for use in more than 450,000 locations around the world. You can drop off athletic shoes of any brand for recycling at a Nike or Converse retail store (call before coming) or mail them directly to the recycling center.

One World Running

One World Running is an international program promoting an awareness of health, fitness and nutrition by providing running shoes to those in need in the United States and around the world. These are the shoes that aren’t quite ready for the landfill. Check HERE to find a drop-off location near you.

Wine Corks

If you drink a lot of wine start saving those wine corks. Recork wants your old corks to recycle. Recork is North America’s largest cork recycling initiative. They take our corks and turn them into footwear or other upcycled products while also planting new cork trees. I just typed in my zip code and found a local drop off location.

Batteries

What should I do with old batteries? I’m asked this question constantly. My response: don’t throw them in the trash. Single-use batteries contain materials that are both recyclable and considered hazardous. You can drop them off at a household hazardous waste (HHW) facility in your area or participate in the many mail-in or take-back programs that are available.

Bras

OK. Time to dig through those drawers and recycle your old bras. The Bra Recyclers, an organization based in Arizona, finds your gently-used bras a second home overseas. You can drop off or mail in your gently used bras and prevent them from ending up in a landfill.

Jeans

Blue Jeans Go Green is a denim recycling program that converts collected denim into housing insulation for communities in need. Blue Jeans Go Green™ has diverted more than 600 tons of waste out of landfills and generated approximately 2 million square feet of UltraTouch™ Denim Insulation to assist with building efforts in communities in need. You can contribute your old jeans by mail or at participating retailers.

Crayons

Stuffed into almost ever drawer in our house are a few crayons. We also have a big bin of crayons tucked into our art supplies. There are times when I’m tempted to dump a few crayons into the trash, but there’s good news- National Crayon Recycle Program operated by Crazy Crayons, LLC. The recycling program has diverted more than 47,000 pounds of crayons from landfills by taking old crayons and turning them into new crayons. Ship your unwanted crayons directly to Crazy Crayons or find a drop-off location in your area!

What strange or surprising things have you recycled? Share your tips!

photo credit: Rafa from Brazil via photopin cc

 

March 26th, 2013

March Madness Dinner Party with One Bag of Trash

Groovy Green Livin March Madness

Paying attention during March Madness is not high on my priority list, but if Wisconsin is playing and there’s a way to combine the games with good food and good friends I’m in. The Badgers didn’t last long this year, losing in the second round of March Madness to the Ole Miss Rebels. That didn’t stop us from having a dinner with friends and their families.

Our dinner was fantastic.

Groovy Green Livin March Madness

Everyone brought something to share.

Groovy Green Livin March Madness

Aren’t these basketball cupcakes da bomb?

Groovy Green Livin March Madness

We were given a challenge-to host a March Madness party with only one bag of trash at the end of the night.

That might sound easy on a regular day, but when you have 8 adults and 8 children eating together it becomes a challenge to stick to  greener habits. Many times when entertaining takes place eco-friendly habits fall by the wayside. According to the Clean Air Council, 43,000 tons of food are thrown out every day in the United States, and each year Americans toss out enough paper and plastic cups, forks, and spoons to circle the equator 300 times. Those are some scary statistics.

Considering composting and recycling before throwing something in a trash bag makes it easy to reduce overall waste.  During our party our guests were instructed to place all of the food scraps into this Simplehuman Compost Pail. We also had recycle bins available. Making small eco-friendly tweaks to your party planning can ultimately have a big impact on the environment.

Groovy Green Livin March Madness

Here are a few tips for keeping it green when entertaining. 

  • Email your invites. I actually didn’t use formal invitations for this party. We just kept an online dialogue going about timing and menu.
  • Buy what you can in bulk. Buying from the bulk bins at the grocery store can be a great way to save money on your grocery bill, but that’s not the only reason to shop the bulk bins. I like the ability to buy only what you need and decreasing the chance of creating excess waste.
  • Use reusable napkins. We have 5 people in our family-if we eat just one meal a day at home using paper/disposable napkins we are using 1,825 paper napkins per year. That statistic was enough to make me switch to reusable napkins. Making the switch is a simple way to help the environment and save yourself a few pennies in the long run.
  • Go for real dishes, reusable water bottles or cups and flatware. Not only do they look nicer, but you’ll be doing the earth a favor. Using reusable dishes, cups, water bottles and utensils prevents disposable paper or plastic from unnecessarily entering a landfill. If you don’t have enough dishes for the party consider borrowing from a friend. 
  • Donate leftover food. This never seems to be an issue for us. We have a family of healthy eaters! If you have leftovers check with your local food pantry for donation options.
  • Have recycle containers and a compost bucket ready for action. Show your guests where to place their refuse. Every city and town has their own recycle system in place, so follow along with their guidelines. We are novice composters over here, but we have a compost bucket that can handle any food scraps.
  • Use a compostable garbage bag to collect your one bag of trash. As most of you who follow this blog know I’m on a mission to reduce the amount of plastic in my life. With 5 people and a dog our garbage bags can get pretty messy and runs the risk of leaking. The best alternative I’ve found is a compostable garbage bag by Glad which is made with a vegetable-based material that’s 100% biodegradable and compostable. If a plastic bag is needed for garbage, they’re a much better option than true plastic bags.

Here’s what we were left with after everything was recycled and/or composted. Not bad for 16 people!

Groovy Green Livin March Madness

Do you think you could have a One Bag party and throw away only one bag of trash?

Stay tuned….I’ll be posting a giveaway in the next few days for a One Bag party kit so you can give it a try. You can also enter for a chance to win $10,000 toward your own personal One Bag party through March 31, 2013 HERE.

photo credit: iandavidmuir via photopin cc photo credit: thecocoacakery via photopin cc

Disclosure: I did receive compensation in exchange for having a one bag party and sharing my experience. The content and opinions are 100% my own and always will be. Promise.

September 19th, 2012

Go Green Get Fit Challenge the Final Chapter: Triathlon

Groovy Green Livin Triathlon running

Wordless Wednesday is meant to be a simple post which features a photo to convey a message that speaks for itself without using words; well not a lot of words!

This past weekend I competed in my 4th triathlon. As I said on my Facebook wall “I didn’t drown and I didn’t come in last”. Success! This was the final chapter in my Go Green Get Fit Challenge which launched back in June. I worked on eating well all summer and worked hard at keeping up with my fitness routine. It wasn’t always easy, but overall I feel great.

I do this tri every year with my husband. We are in different waves -the men and women start at different times. We woke up at 5:00 am, which is unheard of in this house. Our kids had slept at a friends house so we just had to rally ourselves that morning. It was 50 degrees and I could see my breath. I tried not to think about it since I knew the first leg of the race was the swim.

I needed coffee and I don’t drink coffee.

Groovy Green Livin ready for triathlon

This was the lake right before we got in.

Groovy Green Livin triathlon lake

I was shivering even in a wet suit. Don’t we look pretty in swim caps and goggles?

Groovy Green Livin swim triathlon

Ready, set, go. Can you find me? I can’t.

Groovy Green Livin triathlon swimmers

My husband’s wave finishes before mine, but he always jumps back into the race to finish that last lap with me.

At the end of the race plastic water bottles are handed out to everyone. Recycling bins were nowhere to be found. Maybe I missed them? I’ll have to give them the benefit of the doubt.

Groovy Green Livin recycling

Overall is was an amazing experience. My husband rocked it and our friend was a top finisher. We call him superman because he is.

Groovy Green Livin all three triathletes

Now it’s time to start training all over again for next year!

Have you ever competed in a race? Any races in your future?

Big thank you to Suzanne for documenting the day and being our one woman cheerleading squad. Thoughts go out to our friend BC who missed the race. You were missed and we are thinking of you.

Linked up with Better in Bulk, I Thought I Knew MamaDagmar’s MomsenseThe Progressive Parent, Live and Love Out Loud.

August 30th, 2012

Five Tips to Green Your Barbeque

 Groovy Green Livin Organic Vegetables on the grill

Labor Day weekend marks the unofficial end of summer and this year it’s bittersweet. Over the past few weeks our summer groove has finally fallen into place and I’m not ready to let it go. I admit there’s a slight craving for a routine-normal bedtimes, some sort of schedule and consistency. But I’m still not ready. Thankfully we have a few days and a few BBQ’s planned before school kicks in. If you’re planning to head to or host a barbeque this Labor Day (or any other day) there are a few simple ways to make it eco-friendly.

1. Green your grilling

As delicious as grilling is, research has shown that cancer-causing compounds are formed when meat, poultry or fish are cooked at high heat. Try cooking your food at low temperatures, flip it frequently and don’t leave it on the grill longer than necessary. While grilling your food make sure to use green accessories to help you create a delicious and safe meal.

2. Reusables instead of disposables

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average American produces about 4.4 pounds (2 kg) of garbage a day, or a total of 29 pounds (13 kg) per week and 1,600 pounds (726 kg) a year. That’s a lot of trash. BBQ’s are know for their abundance of paper products and plastic utensils. How about mixing it up a bit this year and adding in a few reusable products in place of those single-use plastic and paper products? Using reusable cloth napkins, stainless steel flatware, reusable plates or even stainless steel straws would be a simple way to make a big impact.

3. Non-toxic bug repellent

The bugs can be fierce this time of year. DEET bug repellents can be toxic if we apply too much and leave it on our skin too long. Thankfully there are a quite a few bug repellents out there that are DEET-free. There are even plants that can be strategically placed around your yard that act as natural bug repellents. Our DEET-free bug repellent of choice this summer is Buzzaway.

4. Recycle bottles and cans

I cringe at the number of bottles and cans tossed into the trash at a barbeque. If you are hosting the party take the time to set up a extra bin or two for recyclables.  If you’re headed to a BBQ and there’s no recycle container you might just have to carry it home.

5. Use fresh, seasonal and local food

  • Safe for you-Grill and prepare organic and hormone-free meat, poultry and wild fish whenever possible.
  • Safe for the planet-Buy local food whenever possible. When the food is locally grown or produced it doesn’t need to travel far to reach you-which means less fuel is needed to transport.

Looking for something delicious to  bring to your barbeque this year?

My friend Amie over at The Healthy Apple has a spectacular recipe for your Labor Day BBQ. It’s a gluten-free twist on a traditional pasta salad and one that you won’t want to miss: sweet orange n’ grape pasta salad. This lovely recipe has no added sugar, no processed dressings and takes about 20 minutes to whip up. Hope on over to The Healthy Apple to check it out and while you’re there make sure to spend some time reading about Amie’s awesome approach to clean eating.

How are you spending Labor Day weekend? Any BBQ’s in your future?

Vegetable kebab. | Stock Photo © jura13 #2494373

Linked up with Seasonal Celebration.

 

July 18th, 2012

Recycled Robots and Vacation

 

Groovy Green Livin Vacation Green Road Sign

It’s Wednesday and all over the internet you will find photos with no words of explanation. Why? Because pictures say a thousand words and today is Wordless Wednesday.

This coming week I am going to be cutting back on my writing and focusing on some fun with my family. My oldest son is (finally!) home from 4 weeks at sleepaway camp. I can’t stop staring at him and looking for ways that he’s changed.  Of course I’ve been pummeling him with non-stop questions about every detail. I’m getting as much info as expected out of an 11 year old boy. He had a fantabulous time!

Before I sign off for a few days I wanted to share with you what my other two boys were working on while their older brother was at camp.

Recycled Robots

Thank you to the great people of the Flatbread Company for making interesting pizza boxes which are perfect for robot making.

Groovy Green Livin recycled robot

Here’s a closeup of the robots head. Yes, those are broken pencil lips. And it’s a bit hard to see, but he’s wearing an itty bitty hat.

Groovy Green Livin recycled robot head

Have a wonderful few days and I’ll see you back here soon!

Linked up with Crazy About My Baybah, I Thought I Knew MamaDagmar’s MomsenseMy Organized Chaos, Farmer’s Daughter, The Progressive Parent.

Vacation Green Road Sign | Stock Photo © Feverpitch #2329580

June 11th, 2012

{Giveaway} Leave No Trash Behind with VZWraps Reusable Gift Bags

Groovy Green Livin Set reusable gift bags

Every time I’m at a birthday party I can’t help but notice the mounds of discarded wrapping paper littering the ground after the presents have been opened. It takes me a while to wrap a present as I’m not very good at it, but I’m always amazed at how quickly that paper is ripped off and tossed to the side. What a waste.

The problem with wrapping paper

“Wrapping paper and shopping bags alone account for about 4 million tons of trash annually in the U.S,” according to Earth911.com.  Seeing it as a simple way to make a big impact, I’ve recently started to move away from traditional wrapping paper and now focus on using eco-friendly wrapping paper alternatives.

When I was contacted by VZWraps, the makers of fabric gift bags, to review some of their reusable gift bags I was very excited. They generously sent me a pack of 4 gift bags (pictured above).

Groovy Green Livin VZWrap logoAbout VZWraps

VZWraps fabric gift bags are an eco-friendly alternative to traditional wrapping paper, paper that often can’t be recycled because it is dyed or laminated, contains non-paper additives, or is too thin to have good-quality fibers. According to the Clean Air Council, an additional 5 million tons of waste is generated in the U.S. during the Christmas holiday season.

VZWraps was founded by Isabelle Vesey, a stay-at-home-mom from Haverford, PA. Isabelle always enjoyed wrapping presents, using beautiful papers and embellishments. However, as her environmental awareness grew, she made some changes, switching to recycled paper and reducing her use of plastic bows. But a big change happened a few Christmases ago, when she went into her basement to gather her wrapping supplies, and just couldn’t do it. She just could not bring herself to wrap her family’s presents in paper that was just going to get thrown away, even if it was made from recycled materials. So after a trip to the fabric store, she got out the sewing machine, and stitched up some gift bags. Not only did they look great under the tree, there was no bag full of trash after all the presents were opened.

Groovy Green Livin cupcake reusable bagWhat I love about VZWraps

VZWraps has not only created a product that’s eco-friendly, all of their business practices are accomplished with the environment in mind. The bag sizes are based on no-waste cutting, so that all the fabric is used leaving no scraps behind. The bags are made from 100% cotton with some GOTS-certified organic cotton bags available. Most of the ribbons are made in the USA, primarily from recycled materials. The eco-grosgrain ribbon is made from 100% recycled plastic bottles, and the eco-satin is made from 100% post-consumer recycled polyester. The tissue paper the bags are wrapped in before shipping is made from recycled paper, and the envelope that my bags arrived in is compostable and made in the USA. They even use paper-clips to secure the ribbons on the smaller bags in hopes that they’ll be reused and not discarded.

Other comments

The gift bags are great for any and all presents, but I’m having a difficult time parting with them. I think I need to change my perspective and view giving a gift wrapped in a VZWrap bag as paying it forward. I’m just not sure I can say goodbye to my gorgeous bags and I know I can’t ask for them back!

GIVEAWAY

VZWraps has graciously offered to giveaway a $30 VZWraps gift certificate plus free shipping to one lucky Groovy Green Livin reader. By entering your name and other information you acknowledge that you have read and are agreeing to our Official Rules.

In addition to offering a $30 gift certificate for the giveaway, VZWraps has generously offered to give Groovy Green Livin readers 10% off their order by using DISCOUNT CODE:  GROOVY10 through August 31, 2012.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Disclosure: Thank you to VZWraps for a complimentary set of 4 reusable gift bags. The opinions expressed in this post are my own.

May 3rd, 2012

Green Questions Groovy Answers-How to Recycle Teflon

Groovy Green Livin Recycle Teflon pans

Welcome to week two of Green Questions, Groovy Answers. A big thank you to everyone who submitted their excellent name suggestions for this new weekly column. Rebecca from Natural Mothers Network came up with the winner: Green Questions Groovy Answers. Thank you Rebecca! If you have a question you would like answered please submit it through the comment section, Facebook, Twitter or shoot me an email.

This weeks question came from @twituva on Twitter.

What should I do with my old Teflon non-stick pans? Is there a preferable way to recycle/discard them?

Despite the ease and con­ve­nience of non-stick pots and pans such as Teflon, many health conscious people are tossing their non-stick and replacing them with healthier options.

What’s wrong with Teflon?

Non-stick pots and pans are metal pans (such as aluminum pans) coated with a synthetic polymer called polytetrafluoroetheylene (PTFE), also known as Teflon. Teflon is toxic. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), toxic fumes from the Teflon chemical released from pots and pans at high temperatures have lead to many pet bird deaths and an unknown number of human illnesses each year.

Thankfully, there are many green and non-toxic alternatives on the market.

Now the 20 million dollar question: What do we do with all of our old Teflon and non-stick pans?

This is a challenging question. Do we really want to donate something that could potentially harm someone else?  If we throw them in the trash they’ll end up lying around in an overflowing landfill, leaching toxins into the soil. So what’s the answer?

I decided to turn this tough question over to some of my favorite green gurus in the blogosphere to see what they had to say.

Nancy from Surviving and Thriving on Pennies says ” I donated mine to Goodwill a few years back. What I think is bad might be a perfectly good pan to others. In a way helping others get stuff for cheaper. Still bothers me though.”

Suzanne from Mommy Footprint has a fantastic suggestion and Karen from EcoKaren agrees : “tough one…many play-based preschools have sand boxes with pretend kitchens. This is the perfect spot for discarded Teflon…it won’t be heated back up!”

Deanna Duke from Crunchy Chicken suggested “As much as I hate passing the toxic buck to someone else, giving it to Goodwill is a decent option. If someone else buys it, then that’s one less new pan being purchased and, in the end, produced.” Stephanie from Good Girl Gone Green agrees that donating the pans is a good option.

Anna from Green Talk came up with a few creative uses for those non-stick pans: “I wonder if you could put a picture in the middle of the pan and create kitchen art. Lots of people have those hanging pot racks. Or maybe you could take the handle off and use the pot for plant drainage.”

Diane from Big Green Purse came up with an interesting thought “Why not send them back to the manufacturer?”

Beth from My Plastic Free Life agreed with Diane “I love Diane’s idea of sending them back to the manufacturer with a letter explaining why. I donated mine to Goodwill. I don’t like ‘passing the buck’ either, but I figure if someone wants Teflon pans, better they use my old ones than buy new ones and encourage the market for Teflon.”

What do you do with your old Teflon pans?

[Photo used under creative commons from Jerry Pank/Flickr]

Linked up to Natural Mothers Network

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About Lori

I’m Lori Popkewitz Alper, a recovering attorney and the Founder of Groovy Green Livin. I like to make noise and stir the pot especially when an issue hits home and effects the health of our families. Join me as I make some noise and share along the way tips for living a green and healthy life. Read more.

Click HERE to contact Lori

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