Month: March 2016

Bye Bye Bye: Donation Pick Up Day

Today, our donations are being picked up by Amvets (see earlier post for where everything else is going). So I got to spend most of yesterday afternoon hauling bags up from the basement. The majority of this stuff had already been piled to be donated, or had yet to come from my closet. Right now I have the basement divided up into numerous piles:

  1. To be moved with me
  2. To be donated to Amvets
  3. To be donated to Neat Repeats
  4. To be recycled

Luckily (sarcasm) we have a room in the basement that has essentially become our holding area of stuff. We just call it “The Room” and usually if anything is in there, it is meant to be donated, stored for the time being, or we just are not sure what to do with it.

donate pile

Here are some things you can see in the above picture that are heading out the door to someone else who may need/want it:

  • Alarm clock/ipod player from college that woke me up for the past 7 years
  • Some pots and pans that I am not even sure where they came from
  • 2 yellow Target pillows from college
  • Denim loveseat cover
  • My brother’s old bed spread
  • Old Christmas decorations that have to be 20+ years old
  • Lap desk that I did lots of homework on and occasionally use as a meal tray
  • Lamp base I bought at a garage sale in IN

We do not use this stuff sitting in “The Room” and I am sure someone else could. So I am glad my pillows will get to spruce up someone’s home instead of sit in my basement.

 

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Where Is My Stuff Going? Donation and Recycling Centers

My move is coming up in just a few short days and I am starting to get a bit overwhelmed with what is coming with me and where other things are going to new homes.

I had to make a list of where everything was going just to keep track!

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  • Small Appliances– Amvets and Neat Repeats

I am in the Chicagoland area, so my list is based off of what is available in my area.

Do you have a list or know of a list of recycling and donation centers you have used in your city?

Buzzfeed: 10 Ways to Reduce Your Waste

Do you love Buzzfeed? I do! Then check out this post by Shauna over at Zero Waste Teacher about the zero-waste lifestyle in Buzzfeed Community!

If we generate enough buzz about this post by sharing and liking it, Buzzfeed Community may make it a regular topic and help us reach a whole new audience!

Check it out: http://www.buzzfeed.com/ZWshauna/10-ways-to-reduce-your-waste-25dei

Just Say No…To the Free Goodies at the Dentist

I went to the dentist yesterday and as I was making my way there, I kept thinking about the plastic bag of “goodies” they give out to all their patients. Usually this involves a toothbrush, floss, toothpaste, and special floss for those with permanent retainers, all in a nice plastic bag. There may even be some coupons in there.

toothbrush

So after my cleaning, the dental hygienist started to pack up my “goodie bag,” and I quickly stopped her with some combination of the following arguments:

  • No, I do not need another toothbrush. We have approximately 5,000 in our bathroom cabinet from you guys already. Also my mom shops at Costco, and I am going to invest in a bamboo toothbrush anyway.
  • Toothbrushes are extremely difficult to recycle. Every single toothbrush I have ever used is sitting in a landfill! If I replaced my toothbrush every 3 months like the dentist recommends, that means I would have tossed 104 toothbrushes into the trash in my lifetime.
  • No, I don’t want tiny toothpaste. As with the toothbrushes, we have approximately 5,000 of them already.
  • I only want the floss if it is the good kind. If it is not, put it back in the drawer.
  • I also do not need your dentist-themed plastic bag, I will just toss my floss in my purse and I am good to go.

To accumulate less stuff, we have to learn the art of refusal and saying no to things we do not want pretty much anywhere we go.

***Cover photo credit: Greenpeace

To The Person Who Tossed Their Trash Out The Car Window

Dear person driving the green sedan in front of me on the highway,

Tonight I was on my way to a sustainability event sponsored by the environmental non-profit associate board I serve on. I was driving along, listening to the radio, and minding my own business.

We were driving in the middle lane of the highway when your next action really stuck with me. You didn’t brake suddenly, or swerve into another lane endangering other drivers.

Instead, you rolled down your window and tossed some wrappers out onto the road, as if it were your own personal trash can. My jaw legitimately dropped and hung open for a good five minutes as a million questions ran through my mind.

How could you do that?

Why couldn’t you have just waited to where you were going to throw out those wrappers?

Who taught you that it was okay to litter?

What gives you the right to treat the Earth like that?

By the time all this had processed, I was fuming and glaring at your car. My initial reaction was to honk aggressively at you, but I knew that would not get my point across. I considered copying down your license plate and reporting you to the police for littering.

I am not naive to the fact that there is pretty much always trash along streets and highways. It is just not that often I see the littering actually happen right in front of me. It makes a difference.

Overall, I am disappointed you made such the decision to use our home as your waste basket (not that the highway is my home, but I hope you understand what I am getting at here).

Sincerely,
Marguerite

 

**Photo credit to http://www.hhsmedia.com/3298/feature/hhs-students-work-as-environmentalists/

Treehugger: 7 Tips for Green Spring Cleaning

Spring is finally here! And if you haven’t started purging half your belongings like me, you can still do your spring cleaning responsibly. I will be using these methods to clean my new apartment when I move in next week. Ah! So soon!

http://www.treehugger.com/cleaning-organizing/7-tips-green-spring-cleaning-without-toxic-chemicals.html

My Favorites: LL Bean Canvas Tote

When I lived in DC, I did not have a car. Anywhere I went was on foot, bicycle, Metro, or

BE16

Rolling Around DC on Capital Bike Share

bus. Since I knew I was going to be walking a couple blocks to the grocery store every week, I needed a good sturdy bag to haul my goodies home.

This is where my LL Bean tote comes in. It’s seriously the best bag ever and I love it more than any human being should love a bag used for groceries. It always fit everything!

My tote was so sturdy, I never worried about the bag ripping and the zippered top was helpful on windy days when receipts could go flying across the street. I will definitely have that bag for the rest of my life!

I took it with me on weekly trips to Safeway and monthly trips across the District via bus to Trader Joe’s. I needed this bag not only because I walked/bused, but because DC had banned plastic bags!

My tote helped me limit my purchasing because I knew it had to fit in that bag in order for me to get it home. Most of the time I could fit an entire weeks worth in it, except for the time I thought it was a good idea to buy a large pumpkin for Halloween. Seeing me struggle down the street with my bag of groceries, a gallon of milk, and a big ol’ pumpkin, what a sight!

(Side note: due to lack of car, I have carried a number of odd items down the street and on the metro. That includes an IKEA Lack coffee table, end table, and a chair. I am strangely proud of this.)

Anyway, if you are in the market for a durable bag for your groceries, I highly suggest a canvas tote from LL Bean. It is guaranteed to last.

Besides LL Bean, what is the best way to carry your groceries around town when using alternative forms of transportation?

Oddisay: The Eco-Friendly Etsy

Over the summer I had the opportunity to work with a start up called Oddisay as an expert sustainability consultant. Oddisay just officially launched as a sustainable goods marketplace. It is like Etsy, but with an eco-friendly  focus.

For instance, when you open a shop on Etsy (which I have done before), there is no vetting on the materials your product is made of. You could say it is made of local, organic, biodegradable hemp all you want, but you never have to actually prove anything.

On Oddisay, every product that is posted gets evaluated by 3 key qualities:

  1. What it is made of
  2. How it is designed
  3. How it is disposed

What It Is Made Of

Products on Oddisay must be made of sustainable materials that can be recycled, reused or reclaimed. Additionally, Oddisay strives to make sure that products are fairly sourced. It was described to my colleagues and I that everything in the product must be useful.

How It Is Designed

The design of products is especially important. Each product sold on Oddisay is designed to be easily recycled, reused, or reclaimed keeping in touch with the cradle to cradle mentality.

How It Is Disposed

No part of a product should end up in a landfill, therefore Oddisay products eliminate or minimize landfill waste through recycling, reuse, and responsible environmental design. There are even sellers that have a merchant buy back program!

Rating System

Additionally, products are evaluated against a rating system, earning either a standard, silver, or gold rating in the following categories:

  • Gentle Impact
  • Fair Trade
  • Efficient
  • Merchant Buy Back Program
  • Multi-Use
  • Modular
  • Recyclable
  • Sustainably Made
  • Compostable
  • Biodegradable
  • Smart Packaging
  • Renewable

Trusted Certifications

It doesn’t end with the rating system. Oddisay uses a large amount of trusted certifications when assessing its products. USDA Organic, FSC Certification, B Corp Certification, and Energy Star are just some examples you may be familiar with.

During my time with Oddisay, I did extensive research on biodegradable adhesives, inks, and dyes. Beforehand, I knew synthetic glue was not necessarily good, but I had no idea how much petroleum went into every synthetic adhesive. I learned more a bout glue than I ever thought I would need to know!

Overall, Oddisay is a pretty cool marketplace developed by people all around the world who care about what goes into the products we buy. So if you want to make a difference, you should check it out!

 

6 Years and 8 Apartments Worth of Stuff

I have acquired many things over the years. I have also lived in a number of situations throughout school, grad school, and post-grad school. I have lived alone, with 4 roommates, with 2 roommates, and with 2 separate Craigslist roommates (that did not go so well either time).

Since graduating from high school, I have lived at 8 different addresses between 2 states (although District of Columbia is technically not a state, yeah yeah yeah).

Each housing situation is different. Not just because I was in a different apartment or house, but because depending on how many roommates you are living with, what you need varies. Additionally, each apartment I have lived in has been unique. So that step stool I needed to reach above the kitchen cabinets in one apartment, was not necessary for another.

What you need for living alone varies wildly from what you need to have when you are living with 4 other people.

Not only do I have my own stuff I purchased for these living situations (either new or from Craigslist or garage sales), but I also have some of my older brother’s college stuff, and my cousin’s.

Each time I moved back home for the summer, my school stuff would get piled in the attic or the basement, ready for me to add more to it the next school year and also leave some behind. Before I knew it, 6 years passed from when I first left for college. So that is 6 years and 8 apartments worth of things.

Now that I am moving into my 9th apartment, it is time to go through the 8 other apartment’s stuff, which I started doing this weekend.

garage stuff

For the most part, this is stuff from my last 2-3 apartments that has been in the attic. 

I got my boyfriend to come over and help me go through the attic and the basement. After all, he will be my new roommate, so if we want to keep something, he should be there to speak up. We went through a lot of things, as you will see in the pictures below.

stuff

School stuff that was in the basement (ex: super old printer)

I do have a question for you readers, how many of you use koozies to keep your drinks cold? I do not think I have ever in my life reached for a koozie, yet I have many of them. They are now a popular thing to give as favors at weddings, graduation parties, etc. Thanks, but no thanks. No more koozies for me.

koozies

Koozie-Palooza!

Speaking of drinks. I have plenty of plastic cups from college. What you see in the picture below is probably 1/8 of what I used to have. The super freshman reason I had so many was because my roommate and I tried to build a pyramid of cups in our dorm window. You know, to be cool. Ha!

pizza x cups

A VERY pared down collection of cups from college

I will keep going this week and next and will eventually post where I will be donating and recycling my items. Look out for that!