|Speaking with Kindergartners|
|Speaking with the Recycling Leaders|
|Speaking with Kindergartners|
|Speaking with the Recycling Leaders|
This random thought came to my head the other day – how is my life different from other friends that aren’t as green? How many things do I do in a day to help the Earth? I started to think of all the seemingly little things I have adopted over the years and there were quite a few. Obviously, I don’t do ALL of these things in ONE SINGLE day, but you get the idea.
I wake at 6am and jump in the shower. If it’s Monday, Wednesday or Friday I wash my hair with an environmentally safe shampoo that I checked out using the Environmental Working Guide’s Safe Cosmetics database. On the other days I just rinse it with water. Really no need to wash your hair EVERY day and use more products with toxins. I tried the no-poo method and it just wasn’t for me. I grab this awesome scrubbie thing that holds a bar of soap in it instead of using bath gel -less packaging and I’m not paying for the water in the gel.
Despite being on the, shall we say natural side of things, I do wear some makeup. Most of my makeup and my facial cleansers, moisturizers, etc come from the Whole Body spa, because I know the owner well and she only creates or sells items that are safe. I also use some whipped coconut oil on my legs as moisturizer and eye makeup remover at night.
As I head downstairs, I throw in a load of laundry, on cold.
I start to make breakfast for my children. On Tuesdays we have pancakes – made from scratch with half whole wheat flour, coconut oil and some flax seed meal on a cast iron griddle, served with real maple syrup.
Next I pack lunches and snacks in reusable lunch bags, snack bags, containers and water bottles creating waste-free lunches. The kids fill their own snacks and usually complain that “There isn’t anything good!” Sorry, no chips or candy for snack. Other moms who torture their children this way, please contact me! I need to find a “support group” for my deprived children. 😉 Can you hear the sarcasm??
We walk to the bus stop on most days. If it’s too cold, we drive, but I shut off the car – no idling. We live less than 2 miles from the school so I have to pay for the bus. Honestly, I do this because it’s easier for me to get them to the bus stop than all the way to school. Plus the bus goes right by our street regardless of whether they get on or not so this saves me gas.
Before we head out the door, the kids’ are responsible for taking the recycling to the garage. Our recycling bin fills in a day!
We are running low on lotion and lip balm, so I get all the ingredients out. While I’m at it, I mix up some more of my cleaners and check to see how the citrus infused vinegar under the kitchen sink is coming along.
I run all of my errands on one day to reduce my miles. I am dying for a coffee. So I stop at Dunkin’ Donuts, no reusable mug in sight, but I get the coffee in Styrofoam anyway – can’t do it all! I hit the library to pick up a new book or return others. Pick up the Upcycle It! items, then head to the grocery store, park the car and grab my reusable shopping and produce bags – they are always in the center console next to my seat. While I’m in the produce aisle, I try to buy as many of the Clean 15 as I can, where I can’t I opt for organic. The organic strawberries are so pricey and don’t look great today, conventional it is.
Lunch time. It’s cold and I really want some soup. Grabbed a mason jar from the freezer filled with homemade pea soup. It took 30 minutes to defrost and re-heat. Much more time than a can of soup, but hands down this soup was way better than any can! And no BPA.
I read some online environmental articles and freak out about yet another thing that causes some sort of disease or defect. I get upset that companies are allowed to put out products like cleaning supplies and personal care products (shampoo, soap, etc) without any safety testing! Then I calm down and just try to do my best.
Time for the kids to come home. My son loves getting the mail on his way in from school. Not too much since most of our bills come electronically and I get very little junk mail.
My girls and I head to the mall for a little shopping. I smile as they run to grab their reusable shopping bags without me even saying a word.
We have leftovers at least one night a week to reduce food waste. And homemade pizza always includes some sort of leftover to make an interesting topping. Lots of our food is stored in various glass jars/containers. While making dinner, most of the scraps either go to the compost or in the freezer to make stock with at a later time.
At times it does seem overwhelming. More so when I am at someone else’s home for an extended period of time and not in my own surroundings with all of my “gear”. Over Christmas, there were 12 family members in one house for 4 days. We used paper plates on occasion. My Mom does not have many glass containers, so I had to use plastic wrap to cover leftovers. I could still recycle, but others didn’t and I was too tired to pick through the trash – although I did once.
We can’t do it all, but I feel good about what I am able to do. I also hope that since my children are growing up this way, it will just be second nature for them to compost and recycle and they won’t have to remember to bring their reusable bags. It will just be how it’s done.
A Greene Westford column re-posted.
Fresh local vegetables, herbs and learning opportunities right down the road
Today marks 2 years since the Upcycle It! program started in Westford. It has been quite a success!
As of today, the totals are:
8. You can learn a lot by going through someone’s trash.
|Anastasia and Ashley (WA Environmental Club Students) after sorting Upcycle It!|
I have been getting TONS of email lately from TerraCycle. All good! I wanted to share the success with all of you.
About 2 weeks ago, I started getting emails with the title:
|Photo credit Gavin Stewart/Flickr|
If we want to save this planet, kids are the way to go! Over the past few years I have spoken to many children in their classrooms, girl scout and cub scout meetings, and after school clubs. They understand Reduce, Reuse, Recycle! They teach their parents and grandparents to shut off lights and put the banana peel in the compost. Now, 3rd graders at Abbot Elementary are teaching their fellow classmates and teachers how to upcycle.
Through a grant funded by Sustainable Westford’s Upcycle It! program, Jamie Kelly and Lisa Sanderson are teaching the 3rd graders a valuable lesson. The students have become “treasure hunters” armed with iPod Touches. They began the year taking pictures of trash barrel contents all over the school. They collected and analyzed the type of trash being thrown out. From there students created a slideshow presentation of their findings to the entire school. They then sent out a survey to all students and staff to see what they knew and didn’t know about recycling and upcycling. This data helped them focus on what education the school needed. They then wrote, starred in and directed public service announcement video. Take a look at the videos and survey results on the Abbot Treasure Hunters blog.
Fantastic job! Can’t wait to see what comes next.
This week create a recycle bin for all the non-curbside recyclables – batteries, CFL bulbs, misc. plastics, etc. – and then find out where to recycle them.
I already have a spot in my closet for “clothing to donate” and another spot for “plastic grocery-type bag recycling”.
There is a great blog that I have been reading lately called Reduce Footprints. Each week, there is a new challenge. This week’s challenge is to share your recycling knowledge and/or tips. In response to that challenge, here goes…..
Once you have this information, take time to read and understand what can and can’t be recycled. Keep this handy. You will refer to it often. Take a look at Westford Recycling Dos and Don’ts and Common Misconceptions about Westford Recycling. Each give some basics about curbside recycling in Westford MA. They will alert you to things to look for in your recycling program. Do you need to sort? Can you recycle a pizza box?
reposted from my ‘Greene Westford’ column
In only one year, $2314.38 has been raised and over 100,000 pieces of trash totaling almost 1300 lbs have been saved from the waste stream. This money is being donated to the Westford Public Schools via a grant program.
Did you know that the Selectmen recently adopted a “Carry In/Carry Out” policy? This means that any group using certain town land is responsible for removing trash and recyclables generated by their event. Who owns which pieces of land in town is a little confusing, so this only applies to those areas which are governed by the Board of Selectmen. Keep an eye out. Other areas may follow suit.
Sustainable Westford’s Upcycle It! program is taking trash to new heights and Westford schools are cashing in.
Upcycle It! collects non-recyclables such as chip bags, granola bar wrappers, cookie wrappers and more to keep them out of the waste stream. These items are sent to a company called TerraCycle. These items are then upcycled into new products.
TerraCycle collects 36 different ‘brigade’ items (types of waste) including chip bags, energy bar wrappers, candy wrappers, coffee bags, dried out pens and yogurt containers and upcycles them into eco-friendly products. The awesome thing is that all of the items are non-recyclable or hard to recycle. Now you are thinking, “Wow, that’s cool. But how do they get this stuff. Are they going through landfills?” Lucky for them, no. Any group or individual can sign up to collect and send items to TerraCycle. The shipping is free and 2 cents per item is donated to the school or charity of your choice. TerraCycle then takes the trash and makes backpacks, tote bags, and flower pots just to name a few of their 243 products. Sustainable Westford donates this money back to the Westford Public Schools.
I had wanted to start a TerraCycle program for a few years. Finally last winter, I signed up, joined a few brigades and started asking friends and others in town to collect these items with me. In April, I approached Gloria Gilbert, Westford Farmers Market founder, with the idea of putting a collection bucket at the market to make it more convenient. Little did I know, the group had recently expanded their mission to bring more “green” programs to the community, calling themselves Sustainable Westford. That conversation was the beginning of Upcycle It! Through the spring and summer, Upcycle It! spread through the town. Each week at the Farmers Market the Upcycle It! tent collected bags and bags of items. This past fall, collections began at most of the Westford schools – the 60+ buckets decorated by Westford Farmers Market volunteers are shown above. Students save items in the cafeterias and classrooms, and many others drop off items at the library, Roudenbush and Starbucks.
Since the program began in May, $1010.42 has been raised, over 50,000 pieces of trash totalling almost 590 lbs have been saved from the waste stream.
What to Collect
To participate, you simply need to save the items we collect and drop them off at one of the many convenient locations throughout Westford. Although TerraCycle collects 36 items, Upcycle It! only accepts the following:
We can only accept wrappers and packaging that once held one of these items. So it matters more what was in the bag or wrapper than the type of material it is made out of. Think this way – if you can buy it in the “Chip” aisle of the grocery store, it’s considered a chip bag. So popcorn, pretzels, tortilla chips, etc… are all chips. Same logic can be applied to Candy, Cookies, and Energy Bars. The other brigades are little more self explanatory.
Quiz for you: Using the information above, would a ramen noodle package or a package that contained croutons be accepted?
Answer – No. Neither of these items are considered a chip, candy, cookie, or any of the brigade categories. Other common misconceptions are Crystal Light packages, frozen food bags and nuts. TerraCycle has corporate sponsors who pay 2 cents per item and for shipping. So, for example, Mars sponsors the Candy Wrappers. Mars is willing to pay for ANY brand of candy wrapper since that is their industry, but they won’t pay for a frozen food bag or cheese wrapper.
We appreciate your support in making this program so strong. Our volunteers must sort through all of the items by hand separating them into the categories we collect. Familiarizing yourself with the do’s and don’t really helps. And yes, that’s me in the picture sorting in my garage!
Drop Off Locations
Sustainable Westford has drop off locations at the following:
Westford Farmers Market
J.V. Fletcher Library
Roudenbush Community Center – Main St.
Nabnasset, Abbot, and Miller Elementary – for parents only
If you are participating in Upcycle It! currently, THANK YOU! It is so satifying seeing something so near to my heart succeed. The overwhelming support from Westford residents, students, parents, Girl Scout troops, teachers, and businesses has been amazing. Let’s keep it going!
A million dollars can go a long way in cash-strapped schools and nonprofits. And, when all that’s required is to save items from landfills, it almost sounds too good to be true. True it is. Schools and nonprofits across the country have now earned $1 million through the TerraCycle Drink Pouch Brigade™ program.
At 2 cents a piece that equates to 50 million drink pouches collected over the past 2years. Enough waste to cover the Grand Canyon 9 times. Enough waste to cover 2,000 football fields. Enough waste to weigh as much as 20 full school buses! That’s a lot of juice!
The Capri Sun beverage brand was one of the earliest supporters of TerraCycle, a company that collects would-be trash and turns it into useful items. In participating groups, each used drink pouch collected and sent to TerraCycle earns two cents.
Westford has fully embraced Sustainable Westford’s TerraCycle program – Upcycle It! . Many parents, students and teachers see this as a great way to teach the importance of taking care of our environment while raising money for schools and charities. What kid doens’t like collecting things and seeing how big the nubmers can get. Along the way, they adopt recycling and eco-friendly ideas. It just becomes a part of how they live – not an extra effort. To date, Upcycle It! has contributed 2,325 drink pouches, with another box waiting to be counted. That may not seem like a lot, but consider that Upcycle It! started just this past May.
TerraCycle “upcycles” collected drink pouches into affordable, eco-friendly products, ranging from backpacks to building materials.
“Our goal is for people to look at waste in a whole new way, and through its sponsorship of the Pouch Brigade program, Capri Sun has helped us to expand the numbers of those who are doing so,” said Tom Szaky, CEO of TerraCycle. “The $1 million that Capri Sun has helped us give out is a powerful sign of the enthusiasm that communities across the country have for the goals of this program.”
Aveeno is on a mission to promote healthy habits with its Road to Healthy Skin tour. The tour will be in different cities throughout July, August and September to educate the public about the dangers of sun exposure and promote the use of sun protection. The Tour bus (a 38-foot RV with two exam rooms) will provide free, full-body skin exams by local dermatologists, free sunscreen samples, and you can drop off your empty AVEENO lotion tubes to be sent to TerraCycle! $0.02 for each tube collected on the tour will be donated to the Skin Cancer Foundation.
Unfortunately, I didn’t find out about this until the tour passed Boston and Cambridge. But as a melanoma survivor, I still wanted to post this.
One day I noticed a mole on my inner ankle. Never remember seeing it before. I ignored it for a while. I’m a mom, who has time to call a doctor for yourself, plus I didn’t have a current dermatologist. You know. All the lame excuses we moms use. A while passes and I finally found a dermatologist and figured I should get it checked just in case. When I called in April 2007, the next available appointment was in August. As the receptionist checked other locations and for cancellations I debated “Should I tell her that this is an emergency? No, it’s probably nothing. I’ll wait.” Luckily, there just happened to be a cancellation for that Friday so I took the appointment.
At the doctor’s office, I told him that I noticed this mole a while ago and honestly had no idea if I had one there previously. Either way, it definitely was not this big. I would have known about it. So he took a biopsy. After about 2 weeks I hadn’t heard anything and was about to call. Meanwhile, still thinking “If I haven’t heard that probably means it’s nothing.” It was a Friday afternoon, right before Mother’s Day and the Dermatologist called. It was melanoma. The reason it took so long to get back to me – they sent the sample for a second opinion to an expert in Boston.
Lucky for me, we caught it early. However, I didn’t know that right away. For a month I lived with the fact that it might have spread to my lymph nodes. Melanoma runs the gamut in severity – it can be “nothing” all the way to , “let’s just make you comfortable” I did have surgery on my ankle to remove a large part of tissue in that area. I was on crutches for 6 weeks during the summer, with a 5yo and twin 3 yo!
I never thought this was a possibility for me. I am Armenian so my skin is not super pale. I have always tanned. Yes I did burn a few times as a kid. I guess that was enough for me. Now I wear sunscreen ALL the time, along with hats and clothing to cover more of my skin. And I avoid the sun completely when I can. So do my children.
The Environmental Working Group has a study on the safest sunscreens. To see the results, click here. This is a tricky one for me. I feel like in this case, my and my children’s risk of developing melanoma is greater than what might be caused by a risky toxin in sunscreen. I feel like my best defense is to avoid the sun and use clothing, umbrellas, and hats as protection instead of relying solely on any sunscreen. The sunscreen I do use is what several dermatologists have told me to use. I am hoping that I am not exposing myself and my family to something else. But you make decisions and trade offs all the time on what is best for you.
But back to Aveeno! I think what they are doing is fantastic. I love that they have teamed up with TerraCycle to upcycle their product tubes. They will also accept any brand of cosmetic or beauty tube. Should Upcycle It! add this brigade?
Looking for fun craft with do with the kids…. Look no further! You are already saving toothpaste tubes for the Upcycle It! program, well here is a cute project to make with them. Do your own Upcycling! These could hold pencils, markers, toothbrushes, you name it….. and I’m sure your kids will come up with even more ideas.
5 empty toothpaste tubes
ribbon or plastic lanyard
1. Collect five Colgate® toothpaste tubes. Clean them by cutting off the bottom and slipping your scissors into the side seam. Flatten them out and clean with soap and water.
2. Cut four tubes to 3 ½” x 4 ½” and one tube into a 3 ½” x 3 ½” square. Fold down the top ½” of the four rectangular tubes and tape.
3. Take one of the four rectangles and punch holes every ½” along the two tall sides and along the short bottom side that is not folded. Use this punched piece as a template and punch holes in the exact same spots on the other three rectangular pieces.
4. To punch the small square piece, line up the short punched side of the rectangle piece with any side of the short piece. Repeat punching holes for the other three sides of the square using the short side of the rectangular piece as a template.
5. Then punch two holes near the center of the square. This will be the bottom of the container and the holes will be for drainage.
6. Match up two large pieces and lace up one side tying it off at the top and bottom. Open it up. On one of the non-laced ends, attach to the next rectangular piece in the same way with the printed sides facing out. Repeat for each additional rectangular piece. When you’ve laced all four pieces, connect the two end pieces together and lace creating a cube with your pieces.
7. Match up the square piece with the bottom of the container. Use binder clips to hold it in place. Lace around the bottom of the container and tie it off. You’re ready to put your upcycled toothbrush holder into action.
If you still have more toothpaste tubes, drop them off at your nearest Upcycle It! location.
1) The AVEENO Beauty Brigade – ANY brand and ANY type of personal care beauty tubes. Examples include lotion, sun tan lotion, face wash tubes, body wash tubes. A tube is a container that is crimped at one end and has an opening at the other.
2) The SCOTT Brigade – the outer plastic from ANY brand of paper towel, napkin, toilet paper or similar paper products – no paper wrappings
3) The HUGGIES Brigade – the outer plastic on ANY brand of diaper/personal product packaging; excluding boxes and bins (from baby wipes). Examples would be the overall outer plastic package wrapping on diapers, depends, pull ups, pads, etc. Does not include the clear plastic wrapping inside a box of diapers.
4) The Home Storage Brigade – This brigade includes ANY size storage bags (freezer, storage, regular, sandwich) and containers. We would need to remove any crumbs and pieces of food, but stuck on ingredients (i.e. peanut butter) are acceptable.
5) The Neosporin Tube Brigade – Any size Neosporin brand antibiotic and ointment tubes
6) The Sprout Brigade – Sprout baby food pouches; excluding glass baby jars.
As you know, through these brigades we are raising 2 cents for each item for the Westford Public Schools. As of today, we have raised $188.50, all in 3 months! And we are not alone. To date, over 1.8 million units of waste have been diverted from the waste stream. Plus Terracycle and it’s sponsors paid over $800,000 to over 50,000 schools or non-profits. If you want to see what else Terracycle collects click here.
To get you started, here are links to coupons for some of these new brigades:
Huggies Little Swimmers:
Scott Paper Towels
Aveeno Baby Products
Which ones should we add? Leave a comment with your vote!
I am an Electrical Engineer school and work-wise and Mom of three. For 12 years, I worked as a software engineer in the defense industry. After deciding to stay home full time with my children, I found my passion for green living. I truly want to make the world a better place for them. I started going green at home after a very inspiring Oprah Earth Day show in 2006 and haven’t looked back.