Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Scooters, styrofoam and no-waste lunches...oh, my!

My post yesterday, Bags, farmers and worms, oh, my!, touched on reusable bags, farmer's markets and composting. I was so, so, so excited at the comments I got. (Heck, Girl Child's second comment brought tears to my eyes!)

So, today I'm continuing on with the more...difficult?, unusual?...things my family does to help our planet. Though they really aren't that difficult. And hopefully, in the near future they won't be considered unusual, but mainstream.

Scott rides a scooter to and from work everyday. Not only is it good for the planet but it's good for the wallet. (He gets over 65 miles per gallon!)

If I could figure out a way to safely strap my kids and me together (maybe Logan on my chest and Jack on my back), I could get a scooter too! (Wait, where would I keep the sippy cups...and snacks...and change of clothes...and toys?) Oh, well! If/when Honda makes a hybrid minivan, I'll be all over it!

Frequently, we ride the bus. We actually started because we have two young boys interested with any and every thing with wheels. We have buses that go down our street and as babies the big colorful city buses always peaked their interest. Even after a year of bus rides they still get excited when we tell them we taking one that day. It's good for the planet and saves us money on the exorbitant parking fees in our city.

This topic could have almost made my my list of "no brainers." Luckily recycling is becoming commonplace and it seems like everyone has the basics down...soda cans, newspapers, glass and plastic bottles.

But what about other things...yogurt containers, jars, cans from canned food, egg cartons, empty paper towel rolls, wrapping paper, pasta boxes, plastic bags. Even the bag our baby carrots came in is recyclable. And in the city I live in, styrofoam is recyclable.

In the past, when I was done with something and wanting to throw it away, it went in the trashcan automatically. Now, when I have "trash" I turn to the trashcan as my last choice. I'm always hoping it can be composted or recycled. It takes me no more than 15 seconds to rinse out a dirty container before tossing it in the blue bin.

Here a couple of things from my recycling bin (and boy, did Jack give me some odd looks as I pulled stuff out and set it up on the counter!):
Of course, the kitchen isn't the only place where recyclables can me found. I'm slowly getting better about recycling stuff that would normally end up in my bathroom's trashcan:
In my dream house, I'd have space built into each bathroom for a container for recyclables.

No-waste lunches and snacks
With two kids, I make more than 400 school lunches a year. What if for every one of those lunches there was a juice box, a plastic fork, a ziplock bag and a yogurt container or chip bag.

Then my family alone would be putting 400 juice boxes, 400 plastic utensils, 400 ziplock bags and 400 pieces of trash from a pre-packaged food into a landfill in one year. One two-kid family in one year = 16,000 pieces of trash just from school lunches! This doesn't even take into account when Scott or I would make lunches.

So instead, we have "no-waste" lunches. I have a collection of reusable lunch containers, utensils and sandwich wraps. We use them every weekday and pretty frequently on the weekends...we picnic a lot. Additionally, I have reusable snack bags that get used everyday. Here is my collection:
The cute little bags (actually two little and one bigger) in the back are from snackTAXI. They can be used for sandwiches or snacks and wipe clean easily (or can go in the dishwasher or laundry machine).

The red gingham things are wrap your sandwiches in them and they double as a placemat. Scott and I primarily use these.

The utensils are from the dollar bin at Target. (Where else, of course?)

The plastic boxes are like bento boxes with removable compartments. You can see them in action in this post. I love that you can rearrange the compartments to fit your needs. These are what the boys use daily. They are from a company called Lock & Lock.

And the teeny tiny containers are from a local Japanese market. We use them for dipping sauces or raisins or sunflower seeds for the boys to sprinkle on their salads.

Now I will say that it cost a bit of money to get this collection. But in the long run it pays for itself. I use these things every day. That means that I'm not paying for tons of baggies and utensils. Additionally, I save money by buying a big bag of pretzels and putting some in the snack bags instead of paying a premium for little individual disposable bags of pretzels. Save the planet.

No-waste drinks
Ummm...I think my family might have a drinking problem. Or maybe I just have a bottle collecting problem. One is Scott's, two are mine and the rest...well, the rest belong to two thirsty little boys.
All of these bottles are aluminum and reusable, of course. They are used for water and occasionally juice. That means no plastic disposable water bottles and no juice boxes. Woohoo!

And again, they pay for themselves. Instead of paying for bottled water, I get mine for free out of the tap. (Don't like the taste? We had a Britta pitcher and now we have a Pur filter on the tap. Both taste great.) As for juice, I buy a big bottle and am able to water it down (for health and economic reasons) when I fill up the boy's little bottles. Way cheaper than juice boxes...and way better for the environment. (Did you know juice boxes are usually not recyable because they are coated with a plastic that can't be seperated from the paper?)

Well, that's all I've got.

Actually, that's not quite right. I've got one more thing.

I put together a 'get green starter kit' that I'm giving away.


  1. Carey..your passion and knowledge about this is so encouraging!!!!!!!! I'm going to think twice before throwing things away!

  2. I'm signing back up for recycling today!

  3. amazing...I never thought to recycle the toilet paper rolls? I totally will from now on.
    Wish my hubby could ride a scooter to work too, but I am thinking a 65 minute commute would not be too fun on one of those. LOL

  4. A couple of days ago I used my last plastic snack size bag and I thought to myself "I really need to get some reusable ones. I bet Carey knows where to get them." And you do! I knew you wouldn't let me down. I pack lunches for 3 kids, 4 next year. We go through the sandwich and snack bags. But you'll be proud of me for this one: We bought the mini bottles of Propel for the girls lunches because they fit in their lunch boxes. We saved most of the bottles and when they were gone, we reused them and fill them up with ice water (still cold at lunch), juice or lemonade.

  5. I make my OWN snack bags! I saw the snackTaxi bags in a magazine and loved them, but I thought they were WAY too expensive. So, I bought a sewing maching, taught MYSELF to sew and made my own!!!

  6. LOVE LOVE LOVE it! I'm just going to put a link up on my page and say this is what I was going to write but it was already done BEAUTIFULLY over here!!

    The only question I have is where did you get the sandwich wrappy things? I put the kids sandwichs in reuseable plastic containers but when I make them wraps, I always wrap them in wax paper.


  7. This is AMAZING. And when you started breaking down the numbers...woah. It made me realize how much more I could be doing.

    BTW, I LOVE lock and locks!

  8. I read an article in Mother Earth News and then ran out and bought her book yesterday.. her name is Jenna Woginrich and she is a 26 yo who is trying to live a self-sustained life.. I was up all night thinking about how much I spend on ridiculous items that not only cost me a fortune BUT get tossed into the garbage day after day: paper towels, sippies, plastic ware, water bottles.. I'm on a mission girlfriend! ;)

  9. So, as much as I'd love to get a scooter, the hubs doesn't trust my skills. Okay, so I'm a little klutzy... maybe a scooter isn't for me.

    Things that I've not been recycling, but will now: toilet paper & paper towel rolls and egg cartons. Thanks for the heads up!

  10. Recycling? What's that? J/k... I admire your enthusiasm! (I hope I spelled that right). You make me what to be a better, greener, person.


  11. Way to go green! BTW: Congratualtions! You've won a 1 year membership to A Flash in the Pan. They will contact you.

  12. The bathroom - that's where I need to be more diligent!! I forget to recycle my paper and plastic product in there. Great post!

  13. Carey, Good for you! You are doing great. I need to be a better recycler! I was watching a thing this morning on the Today Show, They said the lids to shampoo bottles weren't always recyclable... It can be very confusing.

    Anyway, have a great night!!

  14. I am loving the SnackTaxi. Those are so cute. (Also love Herbal Essence Color Me Happy). ;)

  15. Just got my first Kleen Kanteen in the mail this week. PINK! I've been using other plastic reusable containers, but love the stainless steel. They are expensive, but eventually I hope to have a collection like you!

  16. How cool is that that you won on SITS!! Congratulations!!!

  17. Great stuff and I love your collection of h20 bottles.

  18. We are really lucky that we have an amazing recycling program in our city. We have had it for a very long time, I remember recycling when I was in school. I've always been passionate about the environment. I was actually the opposite of you though, when I had kids I got a bit lazier about it all. About 5 years ago, I got back on track. I'm so glad that it has become such a hot issue, makes it easier to do things for the environemtn!


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