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July 9th, 2014

Giving Empty Yogurt Containers a New Use

Groovy Green Livin Yogurt Containers

Empty Stonyfield yogurt containers usually end up in the recycle bin over here. And there are plenty of them!

Many of you know that I’ve been working closely with Stonyfield as a Stonyfield Yo-Getter and have had the privilege of trying out Stonyfield products and reporting back to you. Thus, there are empty yogurt containers everywhere.

We’re pretty diligent about recycling and after much trial and error we have a good recycling system in place.

Have you heard of the three R’s? Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. I’ve been giving a lot of thought lately to recycling and reusing. Before I throw things in the recycle bins in my garage and before I chuck something in the garbage I’m trying really hard to pause and consider whether it has life left in it.

Quite simply, reusing an item lengthens its life span. What if before those empty yogurt containers landed in the recycle bin we gave them one more job?

While all three of my kids are at sleepaway camp our house is going through a major overhaul. We are purging. Sounds like fun, doesn’t it?!

New Uses for Yogurt Containers

Over the years we’ve accumulated a lot of art supplies. The latest art projects over here have everything to do with gimp or lanyard. We’ve made key chains, necklaces and more. There are spools and strings of  lanyard everywhere.

Thanks to an empty Stonyfield yogurt container the strings of  lanyard now have a new home. The spools didn’t quite fit.

Groovy Green Livin Yogurt Containers

All the magic markers that have filled drawers and floors also have a new home.

And the sidewalk chalk fit perfectly.

Groovy Green Livin Yogurt Container

There are so many more uses for these containers.

Next up…..we’re taking them to the beach for sand castles!

Can you think of any other great uses for yogurt containers?

This post was created in partnership with Stonyfield. All opinions are my own.

May 7th, 2014

New Use for Old Shoes: How to Make a Shoe Planter

Groovy Green Livin Shoes

Shoes are made for more than just walking.

This photo was taken on our way to a Red Sox game in Boston. I’m always amazed to see what people can do with their small patch of green space in the city. Some of the gardens are breathtaking. I once spotted a bed frame converted into a flower bed. Not my taste, but very clever!

Shoe containers embrace the true meaning of reusing.

The saying goes: “One person’s trash may be another person’s treasure.”  We live in a use-and-toss society where most of the time we don’t give a second thought to using an item once and then tossing it. If we stopped before tossing we might realize that some of those items that seem ripe for the trash  can be repurposed into something completely different for our own use.

That trash could become our own treasure.

Reusing something is different than recycling. Recycling is the process  by which old goods are re-manufactured, allowing them to be turned into new products. Reusing or repurposing is taking a product that’s already in existence and lengthening its life by using it for something new.

The flower containers we spotted are a perfect example of creative reusing. I love how the shoes filled with flowers add a pop of color to otherwise drab steps.

We certainly have plenty of old shoes.

Groovy Green Livin Shoes

If you’re interested in using your old shoes to brighten up a walkway or stairs, here are instructions for making your own unique shoe containers.

  • Get your kids involved!
  • Take a look at the space where the shoes will be placed to determine the amount of sunlight. Base your plant selection on this.
  • Find small plants that don’t need a deep space to root.
  • Pick colorful plants that complement each other. You might want to mix up the plant colors, plant height and the shoe colors to make the design more whimsical.
  • Make several holes in the soles of the shoe so the water can drain.
  • Fill your shoes with potting mix and plant.
  • Decorate the exterior of the shoe if you’re feeling artsy. Use a mixture of glue and paint and add in a few sparkles. My only concern is the decorations could wash off when it rains. 
  • Arrange the shoes!

 While I love the concept of shoe containers, I’m not so sure I would put them on my front steps. Would you?

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

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

April 10th, 2012

Kid-Friendly Crafts with Recycled Materials

 

recycled art

Kids never cease to amaze me. Not just my own, all kids. They are so innovative and creative. When my three boys turn their creativity on there’s no stopping them. They cruise around the house searching for odds and ends for their masterpieces. They come to me with strange requests: “mom, do we have any fishing line?”, “I’m looking for goggles, preferably blue”, “Do we have any diapers?”.  Once they have secured the items needed one never quite knows what these simple, repurposed and recycled items will become.

Why recycled?

We live in a use-and-toss society where most of the time we don’t give a second thought to using an item once and then tossing it. If we stopped before tossing we might realize that some of those items that seem ripe for the trash could be used by our children and turned into something completely spectacular.  Recycling materials that we already have will also save us a few pennies and prevent more ‘stuff’ from entering our overflowing landfills.

Be green. Create recycled masterpieces

Most of us have access to yarn, fabric, glue, crayons and paper. You don’t need much more to create a recycled work of art.

Here are a few great recycled craft ideas for reusing things commonly found in your home.

Star Wars Star Fighter aka Rocket Ship

recycled rocket ship

  • 4 Popsicle sticks
  • Masking tape
  • Old pen covers
  • 2 Binder clips
  • Paint
  • Extra sticks
  • Something creative for the motor

Finger knitting

recycled yarn for finger knittingYep. My boys love finger knitting. We have an assortment of yarn lying around our house from various projects. Finger knitting has become a big hit and a great way to use up the scraps of yarn. Wondering how to finger knit? It’s very simple. Here are DIRECTIONS.

Recycled car/robot thingy

I’m not really sure what to call this creation, but I love it.

recycled project

  • 6 Jar lids
  • 2 Straws
  • A lot of masking tape
  • Paint

If you are in the market for Safer, Greener Art Supplies and Activities take a peek HERE for some inspiration.

Do you have a favorite art project that uses recycled materials?

March 22nd, 2012

Patagonia Shoe Giveaway for Men and Women!

Patagonia green grass and mountain

 

I adore the Patagonia brand.  The company is about as groovy green as they come. Patagonia has in place a program called Common Threads where they take back old outdoor garments for recycling into new fibers. They have partnered with eBay, the world biggest online second-hand marketplace, to encourage their customers to “reduce, reuse and recycle” by buying their gear second-hand rather than new.

patagonia logoLet me add some perspective to this ingenious, eco-friendly initiative: Patagonia is encouraging their customers to buy consumer goods second hand instead of turning to their store for a new product. Really? Really! Their strategy is simple: teach people to fix things that are fixable and reuse what you can. Once all of those options have been exhausted you can think about buying new. How brilliant and green.

Planet shoes logoWhen PlanetShoes.com asked if I’d like to review a pair of Patagonia shoes I jumped.  A few months back I reviewed a pair of Jambu™ vegan boots from PlanetShoes.com. Being the kind and considerate wife that I am, I decided to share the review love with my husband and give him the opportunity to check out one of my favorite brands.

He went with the Patagonia Cragmaster. According to my hubby the shoes are super comfy. I personally love the red!

Patagonia eco-friendly shoes

He’s been wearing them a lot. I noticed that they are going to be traveling with us very soon.

 

Patagonia Red shoes

They even look great in a pigeon toed stance.

The Cragmaster is available for men and women. Technically, we could have matching shoes. The women’s shoe comes in a lovely Cardemom or Olive/Endive color.

But wait-there’s more…..Patagonia will be donating $10 for every pair of Patagonia shoes sold on PlanetShoes.com to The Appalachian Mountain Club (shoes must be purchased from March 19, 2012 -April 2, 2012 from PlanetShoes.com). The Appalachian Mountain Club promotes the protection, enjoyment, and understanding of the mountains, forests, waters, and trails of the Appalachian region.

GIVEAWAY

PlanetShoes.com has graciously offered to give one Groovy Green Livin reader a pair of Patagonia Cragmaster shoes (value $155.00!). They are available for either men or women.

The giveaway is now over and the winner, Kirsten K., has been notified. Thanks to all who entered.

 


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I was sent a pair of men’s Patagonia Cragmaster shoes for review. The opinions expressed in this review are my very own.

[Photo used under Creative Commons from Davidlohr Bueso/Flickr]

February 28th, 2012

Lessons from The Lorax: 3 Ways Your Family Can Protect the Earth

The Lorax

“UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not. “DR. SEUSS’ THE LORAX

When my oldest son (who’s now 11) was born my mother-in-law generously gave us a stack of children’s books she had been saving from when my husband was a child. The books were in immaculate condition and included classic titles that I had also treasured during my own childhood. The Lorax was one of the books passed on to us, ready for sharing with our own children.  And that it was-over and over again.  I was determined to keep on reading it to them, with the hope that someday they would understand the important (and somewhat complex) messages in the book.

When my kids got wind that The Lorax was going to be released as a movie on March 2 (Dr. Seuss’ birthday) they were beyond excited. We wondered and discussed how Hollywood would spin an animated version of our beloved book. I was thrilled when I was contacted by Universal Studios and asked to participate in a Blog Tour (see below for the full blog tour schedule) in support of Universal Pictures ‘Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax’.

Most of us are familiar with the general story-line of The Lorax. If you need a refresher, Beth from My Plastic-Free Life shared a great summary as part of this blog tour.

With the release of The Lorax there’s no better time to talk with children about one of the many messages of The Lorax: Ways our families can help protect the earth. The good news is there are so many options for change and each will have a big environmental impact on our precious planet.  As a family I’ve found it’s important to create routine and habit around these simple changes so they become second nature.

Here are a few ideas to get your family started protecting the earth:

1.   Turn your lunch box into a waste-free zone

Did you know that Children’s lunches create more than 3.5 billion pounds of garbage each year, which amounts to a crazy 18,760 pounds of trash annually from an average sized elementary school?  We have worked hard over the years to make our children’s lunch boxes as waste-free as possible.  Instead of using single-use items in their lunch boxes try using reusables: a reusable water bottle, a reusable napkin and reusable bags for snacks instead of single serving snack bags.

2.   Celebrate Meatless Monday (or meatless any day)

Meatless Monday is a movement encouraging people to improve their health and improve the health of the planet by lowering their meat consumption. Each year the average American eats 200 pounds of meat. There are a lot of health reasons to not eat as much meat, but there are also quite a few environmental reasons to cut back on meat eating. The UN estimates the meat industry generates nearly one-fifth of the man-made greenhouse gas emissions that accelerate climate change. An estimated 1,800 to 2,500 gallons of water go into a single pound of beef. There are many ways to green your Meatless Monday (or any day of the week) and all will have a positive environmental impact on the earth.

3.   Reduce, reuse and recycle

The 3 R’s still rule when it comes to protecting the earth.  Reduce by trying to use fewer resources. This is a tough one-it requires letting go of some very American concepts: the more we have or the bigger it is, the better off we are.

Reusing can go well beyond the items in your lunch box. The saying goes: “One person’s trash may be another person’s treasure.”  Encourage your children to give trash a second chance by reusing some of the garbage to make crafts out of recyclables. We live in a use-and-toss society where most of the time we don’t give a second thought to using an item once and then tossing it. If we changed that mentality and considered whether or not a product could be reused before recycling we would keep new resources from being needed and old resources from entering our overflowing landfills.

As The Lorax says:“UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not. “

Don’t forget to visit  Mindful Momma on February 29 for the next post in our LESSONS FROM THE LORAX Blog Tour!

Are you planning to see The Lorax? Do you have any hopes for the film?

Follow the Lessons from The Lorax Blog Tour:

2/20 New Green Mama

2/21 The Green Parent

2/22 Eco Child’s Play

2/23 The Smart Mama

2/24 My Plastic Free Life

2/27Retro Housewife Goes Green

2/28 Groovy Green Livin

2/29 Mindful Momma

3/1 Green and Clean Mom

2/2 Moms Going Green Blog

2/3   Kitchen Stewardship

2/4 Nature Moms

*Disclosure: I received compensation for being part of this blog tour. The opinions expressed in this post are my very own.

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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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