Sunday, June 30, 2013

Roll out the Lanterns


Project: Polka Dot Paper Lanterns

Here is a fun way to add a festive garland to a party that also adds some cool lighting when the sun goes down, Polka Dot Paper Lanterns.
Polka Dot Paper Lanterns
Even better, these will cost almost nothing to make because you use empty toilet paper rolls! I painted the rolls white and then lined them with some tissue paper I had saved with my wrapping papers. The colors of the tissue paper really pop against the white.
Polka Dot Paper Lanterns
When they are lit up dots of colored light shine through the tissue. I have to say, it made me a little giddy the first time I plugged these in a dark room.
Polka Dot Paper Lanterns
  • empty toilet paper rolls
  • acrylic or spray paint (optional)
  • glue, school or tacky glue
  • tissue paper
  • floral wire
  • christmas lights*
  • exacto knife
  • hole punch
  • paintbrush (optional)
1. Using the exacto knife, cut the toilet paper tubes in half, to make approximately 2″ tubes.
2. If you are going to paint your tubes, do it now. Let dry.
Polka Dot Paper Lanterns
3. Punch holes all over the tube.
Polka Dot Paper Lanterns
For fun I used two different size hole punches.
4. Cut a piece of tissue paper the height of the tube, approx 2″ and long enough to go around the inside of the tube.
Paper Fairy Light Lanterns
5. Put glue on the inside of the tube, making sure to especially get the top and bottom. Glue the tissue paper inside the tube with the color facing out through the holes. Let dry. Trim if needed.
Paper Fairy Light Lanterns Polka Dot Paper Lanterns
Do them all in one color or mix it up like I did.
6. Put a small hole in on either side of the tube about 1/8″ – 1/4″ from the top of the tube. A straight pin does this easily.
Polka Dot Paper Lanterns
7. Cut a length of floral wire about 5″. Wrap it around the bottom of a bulb on your Christmas lights. Put the ends through the holes you created in step 6 from the inside out.
Polka Dot Paper Lanterns Polka Dot Paper Lanterns
Center the bulb inside the lantern and bend the ends of the wire in to secure it.
Polka Dot Paper Lanterns Polka Dot Paper Lanterns
Hang and create a fairy land.
*A note about the lights I used. I experimented with some different Christmas lights for these. At first I used the newer led lights which have a small bulb. The bulb is so small on those it doesn’t light up the whole lantern as well as I would have liked. I switch to the more traditional lights with the longer bulb and you can see how nicely it lights the whole thing. Just make sure you are using modern lights that don’t heat up

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Dunkin' Donuts Goes Green

paper cup, expanded polystyrene
Photo: Flickr/stevegarfield
Written by Melissa Hincha-Ownby, Mother Nature Network
Over the course of the next few years, fans of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee won’t have to feel guilty about having their morning cup of Joe in an environmentally damaging foam cup. In its annual corporate social responsibility report, Dunkin’ Donuts announced that it plans to move to recyclable paper cups within the next few years.

In his executive statement, Dunkin’ Donuts CEO Nigel Travis said, “We continue to search for a long-term alternative to our Dunkin’ Donuts foam cup and hope to roll out a cup that meets our cost, performance and environmental criteria within two to three years. In the interim, we launched an in-store foam cup recycling pilot in our company-operated stores and will work with our franchisees to expand that program into as many stores as possible. We also plan to introduce an improved reusable cup program in the next six to 12 months.”
While this isn’t a solid timeline, environmental advocates consider this as a step in the right direction. As You Sow, an organization that promotes environmental and social responsibility, has been focused on pushing Dunkin’ Donuts to change its foam packaging for the last year.
“We are pleased that Dunkin’ Donuts is beginning to take responsibility for reducing the health and environmental impacts of its foam cups,” said Conrad MacKerron, senior vice president at As You Sow. “Promoting on-site recycling and improved recyclability are steps in the right direction.”
In addition to making the move to recyclable paper cups, Dunkin’ Donuts is also going to bring a gluten-free donut and a gluten-free muffin to market by the end of 2013.
Other highlights from the Dunkin’ Donuts’ 2012 CSR report include:
  • The company will be switching to a recyclable pink spoon to its Baskin-Robbins’ brand in 2014; the pink spoon is an iconic representation of the decades-old ice cream brand.
  • Franchise owners now have access to a Power Down, Profit Up toolkit, which includes low and no-cost ideas that help franchisees save water and energy.
  • The company also announced its continued to commitment to develop a plan to source 100 percent sustainable palm oil by 2020.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Holiday Schedule

The administrative offices of the Coastal Environmental Partnership will be closed on Thursday, July 4th..

The Tuscarora Landfill, Grantsboro Transfer Station and Newport Transfer Station will follow their regular schedules.

Have a safe and happy Holiday!  

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Historic Energy Renewal House

This 100-year-old home in the Netherlands is registered as an historic Dutch monument and boasts intricate original brickwork and other design elements that are traditionally embraced throughout the surrounding countryside.

Oh, and did we mention that it's now completely energy neutral?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

For Restaurants, Composting Is a Welcome but Complex Task

For Restaurants, Composting Is a Welcome but Complex Task
Chang W. Lee/The New York Times
The chef Jason Debriere separating scraps for composting in the kitchen at the restaurant Peels.
When Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s administration revealed this week that he was rolling out a plan to make New York City residents separate their food scraps for composting, chefs and restaurateurs with an interest in sustainability welcomed the news. Composting can help the city manage its huge trash output, and a growing number of restaurants already separate their scraps for organic-waste pickup.
But many others, even some who are committed to recycling, say that finding ways to fit more bins, more staff time and more expense into their daily routines will be a struggle.
While the mayor’s initiative will apply to residences and schools, and will be voluntary, at least at first, the administration says restaurants and other food businesses will also be required to compost eventually. Food waste makes up more than 30 percent of the city’s daily trash, according to the mayor’s office, and restaurants account for 70 percent of that produced by businesses. Some chefs will be well prepared for the change: in April, the mayor announced that 100 restaurants, including Chipotle and Momofuku, had signed up for a pilot composting program.
Other cities, including San Francisco and Seattle, already require that restaurants compost their wastes. San Francisco passed its composting ordinance in 2009, and the chef Danny Bowien recalls the green bins dedicated to organic waste popping up everywhere, from fine-dining kitchens to tiny taquerias. “After a while it just becomes second nature,” said Mr. Bowien, who made composting part of the kitchen’s routine as soon as he opened Mission Chinese Food on the Lower East Side last year.
There is no time frame for making composting mandatory in New York City restaurants. “For now we’re just focused on the pilot program, so we don’t have a date for that,” said a representative for the mayor’s office. But some restaurants have been composting for several years.
In 2007, Michael Anthony changed the carting contracts at Gramercy Tavern to work with a waste-management company with dedicated compost trucks. For years, the restaurant has filled a bin each day with about 30 pounds of vegetable and meat scraps. Mr. Anthony also has the luxury of tucking the stuff out of the way before service begins, in the restaurant’s own garbage room, a space that makes composting on a larger scale viable. He calls having such a space “a dream.”
The team at Le Bernardin has been separating food scraps from other garbage since last summer, filling up about five of their nine plastic bins each day with fish bones, vegetable peels and any food that can’t be saved to cook the staff’s meal or wrapped up for City Harvest. These biodegradable bags are put away after prep, before service, and picked up daily around 2 a.m. The chef and co-owner, Eric Ripert, said that it took some time to train his team to separate scraps, but that the young cooks are already “so sensitive to sustainability,” and so disciplined, that the sorting quickly became a part of their process. Because pickups are frequent and the food waste is so fresh, Mr. Ripert says, “there’s absolutely no smell at all.”
Other professional kitchens have tried composting and have run into setbacks. Blue Hill at Stone Barns, in Pocantico Hills, N.Y., has a robust food-recycling system (some goes to the farm’s compost bed, while some is set aside to feed the pigs and chickens). But Dan Barber, the executive chef, said Blue Hill’s sister restaurant in Manhattan hasn’t been able to find a satisfying, lasting solution. In the past, a company has picked up bags of scraps, or the waste has been driven directly to the well-kept compost beds at Stone Barns. But with construction under way in the city restaurant’s basement, the scraps are being tossed out with the regular garbage at the moment, because there’s nowhere to put them.
Kelly Geary, who runs a meal-delivery service called Sweet Deliverance from Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, was so committed to composting that she made a habit of shuttling food waste herself from her workplace to the trio of 30-gallon bins in her own backyard, at least until her small business could afford a pickup service. When work slowed down, Ms. Geary cut back on the extra expense of the pickup service, and the chef is now reluctantly throwing away more than 50 gallons of organic waste each week.
In New York kitchens, space may be the biggest challenge to composting. The trimmings at the vegetarian restaurant Dirt Candy would be ideal for recycling, but the chef, Amanda Cohen, says her minuscule East Village kitchen is too tiny for a bin.
Storage isn’t the only concern among chefs; Sara Jenkins, the chef and owner of Porchetta and Porsena, also in the East Village, says she cares about reducing waste on a larger scale, but her fear (shared by many New Yorkers, if social media are any indication) is that the decomposing food will attract rats. Others who compost say that has not been a problem.
Chefs with composting programs say that frequent pickups from a reliable carting company make recycling far less messy than it sounds, and that proper containers with tightly fitted plastic lids contain smells and protect the waste from pests better than plastic bags. The chef Ginger Pierce and her husband and co-chef, Preston Madson, have a 60-gallon compost bin in each of their three kitchens — at Isa, Freemans and Peels — and fill the bins with scraps one to three times a day. “If you’re going to shop at the market, and you’re supporting farmers, composting seems like an obvious next step,” Ms. Pierce said, “and it just becomes part of your routine.”
Jean Adamson of Vinegar Hill House in Dumbo, Brooklyn, says composting is not just about being eco-friendly — she’s still looking for a good method — but it also has the potential to be cost-effective. (Most restaurants pay waste management companies by the pound for what goes into landfills anyway.)
But Joe Burke, director of sales at Action Environmental Services, a waste management company, said it costs more to pick up organic waste because the process, from pickup to dump, is much slower.
He said the idea that composting will save a restaurant money is something of a myth. “We offer the service because our customers are dedicated and they demand it,” he said. Action has 300 restaurant clients signed up to recycle organics, along with Citi Field and Yankee Stadium.
Not all restaurants in New York have the space for bins, let alone separate rooms to store their scraps.
“Garbage is one of the biggest challenges that we have in the restaurant business,” said Alex Raij, chef and owner of the Spanish restaurants La Vara, El Quinto Pino and Txikito, where she has the trash carted away seven days a week. Ms. Raij, like many chefs trying to figure out how to recycle organics, said she would welcome the challenge if the city’s new push for composting extends to restaurants. Finding a way might be complicated, she said, but maybe it’s time for kitchens that take the farm-to-table maxim seriously to extend it to their garbage bags, too. “The way we buy and cook food is so responsible,” she said. “But the way we discard food? It’s not.”

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Using an old office microwave

You will never, ever guess what engineers at The University of Utah made using an old office microwave:

Monday, June 24, 2013

Green Picnics

Tips to Make Your Next Your Next Picnic More Eco-Friendly

A wasteful picnic turned into an eye-opening lesson on how to green this summer pastime.
I recently went on a picnic at the beautiful Laurelhurst Park in southeast Portland with a friend. It was in the middle of the week, and I admit I did not prepare very well. I stopped by my local grocery store after I finished with work to grab some things for the picnic that evening. Because I was in a rush, I did not make the most eco-friendly choices and opted for convenience instead. Here are the lessons I learned from some of the eco-mistakes that I made on this picnic.
Laurelhurst picnic 1024x1024 Tips to Make Your Next Your Next Picnic More Eco Friendly
A snapshot of the author’s wasteful picnic. The next picnic will be a lot greener!
Eco-mistake: I didn’t cook. Because I did not plan ahead, I did not have time to cook any food for the picnic. Instead, I ended up getting prepared food from the deli counter at my local grocery store, New Seasons. Luckily, New Seasons uses a lot of organic, eco-friendly and local ingredients in its prepared food. But even so, there was a lot of packaging used that eventually ended up in the garbage. I got three items — risotto asparagus cakes, kale salad and olives – and each came in its own little container. The kale salad container was recyclable, but the other containers, which were made of cardboard but were soiled by the time we were done with them, were not recyclable.
Lesson learned: Next time I go on a picnic, I will cook instead of buying prepared food. This will afford me the opportunity to eliminate the wasted packaging involved in buying prepared food. I can transport the food I cook to the picnic in reusable containers. Moreover, cooking at home has a smaller carbon footprint than buying prepared food. This is because of the processing, packaging and transporting that goes into preparing food for sale.
Eco-mistake: We used disposable cups, plates and forks. While I was at the grocery store, I picked up some disposable cups, plates and forks for the picnic, because I thought it would be easier to deal with, instead of transporting dirty dishes back home. It is true that the paper goods and forks I got were relatively eco-friendly because they were compostable. However, it will take a very long time for those items to biodegrade into useful material again, and it would be better to eliminate them from the waste stream by not using them in the first place.
Lesson learned: I will take nondisposable cups, plates and forks to the picnic next time, eliminating these items from the waste stream. Glass plates and cups are not ideal to transport to a picnic, so I recommend investing in some plates and cups that are not breakable, but are reusable. If you take a separate bag with you, you can stick your dirty plates and cups and utensils in there without making your other picnic materials dirty. This separate bag can also be used to carry recyclable waste back to your recycling bin at home if the location where you are picnicking does not have a recycling bin.
Even though we generated unnecessary waste with our picnic, my friend and I did do something right: We left our picnic area just as we found it. We made sure to pick up after ourselves so as not to disturb the natural setting with our leftovers. A lot of people think that human food is OK for animals to eat, so they leave some leftovers behind for animals to pick on. But, most human food is not fit for animal consumption, so it is important to pick up after yourself.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Reuse Silica Gel Packets

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Big Sweep 2013

Don't forget to pre-register for Canoes for a Cause! Go to and scroll down to Save These Dates for a quick link to online registration. Or call (919) 269-9380. Thanks! Look forward to seeing you!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Jeans, Jeans..You're Old and Revived

Think your clothes are too worn or damaged to donate?

Think again:

Photo: Think your clothes are too worn or damaged to donate? 

Think again:

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Fenced In

Recycled glass bottle fence...yes, please!

Learn the answers to the most asked questions about glass bottle recycling:

{Image source:}

Recycled glass bottle fence...yes, please! 

Learn the answers to the most asked questions about glass bottle recycling:

{Image source:}

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Arizona Town’s Textile Recycling Takes to the Curb

Arizona Town’s Textile Recycling Takes to the Curb

How did a small town become a leader in textile recycling? It gambled on an innovative curbside recycling program.
Queen Creek happens to be one of the best kept secrets in Arizona. With just 26,000 residents, this small, rural town — a growing Phoenix exurb — is a family place that enjoys exceptional sunshine more than 300 days a year. Leading the way toward a sustainable future, Queen Creek is taking initiative as part of United Fibers’ textile recycling program.
In August 2012, almost 7,000 residents participated in a cutting-edge pilot program in which they were asked to recycle materials such as towels, sheets, blankets, apparel, shoes and other textiles right at the curb with their everyday recyclables. The success of this program allowed Queen Creek residents to recycle their worn-out textiles while reducing the volume of waste piling into nearby landfills.
According to Queen Creek’s website, “Approximately 12 million tons of textile waste is generated each year in North America.” The accumulation of this waste calculates to approximately 68 pounds per household. Now, Queen Creek residents do not dispose of their textiles in landfills, instead recycling them into postconsumer insulation.
recycled clothing Arizona Towns Textile Recycling Takes to the Curb
Queen Creek, AZ, residents recycle their clothing into insulation to be used in homes and automobiles.
The process starts with United Fibers, the recycler that has partnered with the Town of Queen Creek, which issues a special textile recycling bag with a sheet of instructions to all households. The textile bag is to be placed alongside the regular curbside recycling bins on collection day.
The recyclables are picked up and brought to United Fibers to be sorted and then transfer to Phoenix Fibers, an affiliate of United Fibers, to be broken down. Then, Bonded Logic uses the fibers to create insolation called Ultra Touch, which is currently used in cars and homes. This product is also sold at stores like Lowe’s and The Home Depot.
Ramona Simpson, Environmental Program Supervisor for Queen Creek, describes the recycling process like this: “Imagine a pair jeans, and then after [the recyclers are] done with it, it turns into raw cotton with a tint of blue. It’s really amazing what they do.”
While its assistance in the community of Queen Creek is relatively new, United Fibers has been a leading recycler for more than 30 years. Because of this program’s great success, Queen Creek has collected more than 27,000 pounds of material that otherwise would have been landfilled.
Textile waste takes up approximately 5% of all landfill space. Although this percentage may sound small, United Fibers is offering the first of what will likely be many textile recycling programs. Textile recycling is virtually unheard of at the curb, but this particular success story introduces a new and exciting way for other communities to change their recycling habits.
Simpson remarks, “Queen Creek encourages and successfully diverts textiles from the landfills. We’re giving people more options of what to do with their worn-out textiles.”
Queen Creek did, however, encounter a few hiccups during its four-month trial period. United Fibers went back to the drawing board, creating sturdier recycling bags and better outreach to participants. Simpson expects to begin another trial program utilizing these improvements within the next 30 days.
“This trial program really taught us something, and now we know how to improve,” Simpson explains. “We hold great hope for the future of this program, eventually expanding to the entire community and even the region. We really learned a lot from this trial and we are doing our part to contribute to the circle of recycling.”

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Can you visualize 7 billion people?

There are 7 billion of us on the planet. What does that really look like?
It can be hard to get your mind wrapped around large numbers like the 7 billion humans living on Earth. 7BillionWorld helps you visualize that number.
There are around 7 billion people on the planet right now. This fascinating graphic shows the world's relative population density.
population of people on Earth
To get an idea of the scope of what 7 billion people really means, take a minute and click over to 7BillionWorld (first this page, then this page to put it all into perspective).
With birth rates falling all over the world, the population is expected to plateau sometime in the next 50 years or so at around 10 billion people. That's a big, but manageable number. If we transition to a truly sustainable civilization, we can feed, clothe and house that many people.
But in the meantime, you can spend your time contemplating 7 billion people.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Put Another Log on the Fire

Tis the season for outdoor BBQs!

You are going to want to see these recycled must-haves for your backyard:

[Image via Instructables:]

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Happy Fathers Day

Green Fathers Day Gifts

Pinned Image
Craft an Apron for Dad   I love you to pieces.  Father's Day Trophy craft for kids!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

North Carolina State Parks Named as National Gold Medal Award Finalist

North Carolina State Parks Named as National Gold Medal Award Finalist

RALEIGH –The North Carolina state parks system has been named one of four finalists for the 2013 National Gold Medal Award for Excellence in Parks and Recreation Management, the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation announced June 6.

As a finalist, North Carolina advances to the next round of consideration along with state parks systems in Florida, Missouri and Virginia. A winner will be announced in October.
The National Gold Medal Award, which is administered by the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration in partnership with the National Recreation and Parks Association, is the most prestigious award a park and recreation agency can receive and recognizes service excellence.
The Gold Medal Award honors communities and states throughout the United States that demonstrate excellence in long-range planning, resource management and agency recognition. Each agency is judged on its ability to address the needs of those it serves through the collective energies of citizens, staff and elected officials.
Judges for the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration considered criteria including the quality of long-range planning, the response to population and economic trends, the extent of public support, the quality of natural resource protection and the types of services to special population groups.
“To be a finalist for the Gold Medal Award is a testament to our mission of stewardship and the dedication of our employees, and it’s a tribute to all of those who support the efforts of the state parks system,” said Lewis Ledford, state parks director. “It’s also a compliment to our 14 million visitors each year who have been a part of the state parks system’s significant growth and contribution to local economies. That support from the public and their elected and appointed leaders in North Carolina has been vital.”
NRPA is an organization dedicated to educating professionals and the public on the essential nature of parks and recreation. Through learning opportunities, research, and communications initiatives, the NRPA strives to generate public support to advance the development of best practices and resources that help make parks and recreation indispensable elements of American communities.
The North Carolina state parks system, which attracts more than 14 million visitors each year, exists for the enjoyment, education, health and inspiration of everyone.A recent economic study by North Carolina State University’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management estimated the state parks system’s total annual economic impact at $419 million. The state parks system manages more than 218,000 acres, including 41 state parks and state recreation areas and a system of state natural areas dedicated to conservation of rare resources.

Friday, June 14, 2013

You're wearing what!?

Bet you can't guess what recycled material went into making these articles of clothing from Kenai Sports.

Guess in the comments, then check your answer:

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Another use for wine corks

Great Idea: Upcycle your wine corks to make miniature homes for baby succulents.

More ideas for DIY planters:


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Round and Round It goes

Here's how to reuse a rather strange item: Turn an old hamster wheel into a living wreath!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Red and Yellow and Pink and Green....

These colorful fortune cookies are handcrafted with upcycled crayons by Merrill from IvyLaneDesigns on Etsy.

Did you know there is a National Crayon Recycling Program?

[Image Source:]

Monday, June 10, 2013

Read 'em and Keep 'em

Would you turn an old book into a clutch?

Check out 11 more DIY ideas: [This one on Slide 2!]

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Just a spoon full of....

Loving these upcycled fish chimes!

It is heating up outside...learn how you can green your pool with one of these chlorine alternatives:

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Revive Your Markers

It turns out dead markers still have plenty of ink in them.

Follow these tricks from Julie Finn of Crafting a Green World to upcycle them into watercolors:

Friday, June 7, 2013

Compost Potential

Fact: 34% of our waste stream could be composted.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Have a ball!

If these upcycled beach ball lights have you daydreaming about the coast, we have 8 great tips to green your trip to the beach:

[via TOBYhouse:]
Photo: If these upcycled beach ball lights have you daydreaming about the coast, we have 8 great tips to green your trip to the beach:

[via TOBYhouse:]

The Glass Beach

The List An Outdoor // Outposts Blog

See this iconic glass beach before it’s too late

Thanks to people who ignore the rules, Mendocino County's Glass Beach is rapidly fading.

Glass Beach is best viewed at low tide, and it is pocketed with tide pools where sea anemones rest among motley-colored pebbles. Photo by Travis Burke
There is a beach in Fort Bragg, California, that’s famous for the iridescent sea glass that shimmers on its shores. A dump until the 1960s, Glass Beach underwent massive cleanup projects in the late 1990s and early 2000s, but the glass from bottles and other items remained, worn smooth over time as it tumbled through the ocean.
Glass Beach is one of Mendocino County’s most popular tourist spots, as it’s one of the most abundant sources of sea glass in the world. But if you want to see this California treasure, go now, because it will likely be gone before we know it.
“Everybody is taking the glass and collecting it, so there’s not as much as there used to be,” said a clerk at Fort Bragg’s tourist information office.
In fact, even though removing sea glass from the beach is prohibited, rangers from California State Parks, which owns the beach, see people taking the smooth, pebble-like glass pieces home in Ziploc bags and buckets all the time. They try to stop people who fill up canisters as large as trashcans with sea glass, but there’s only so much they can prevent, they say.
The locals will tell you that the beach used to be covered in a foot of sea glass so smooth you could walk on it with bare feet, but these days there are sections of the 38-acre beach where glass is difficult to come by. Many say their only hope is to spread the word about the beach and what’s threatening it, crossing their fingers that people will begin minding the signs that say “glass collecting prohibited.”
For many, the destruction of Glass Beach is ironic, as it was the human penchant for destruction that created the beach in the first place. Without human waste, the beach would never have existed.
For now, Glass Beach remains—and here’s to hoping we humans can keep it that way.
Glass Beach from above; photo by Travis Burke
Many of the most colorful and beautiful pieces of glass have been stolen from the beach. Photo by Travis Burke
People tend to ignore the signs that say glass collecting is prohibited. Photo by Travis Burke
Stop by the beach any day and you will see people placing glass in plastic bags and canisters. This woman inspects a glass piece for her collection. Photo by Travis Burke
Three people look for sea glass; photo by Travis Burke
While Glass Beach is the most popular spot for sea glass in Mendocino County, the area is actually home to two other sea glass beaches. They are both difficult to access, and one of them is surrounded by private land, which is why they are rarely visited. Photo by Travis Burke
The beach—and Mendocino County—is also a nice place to visit for its natural beauty. Photo by Travis Burke

A younger piece of sea glass that hasn’t yet been smoothed out by water and time. Photo by Travis Burke
Glass Beach from above and below; photo by Travis Burke

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

How to Pack a Zero-Waste Lunch

How to Pack a Zero-Waste Lunch

By:  Alexandra  Zissu  Author & Speaker  April 25th, 2013
Packing lunch for your child is one way to ensure she’s getting mom-approved [ed note: or dad-approved!] fuel for school, but the waste generated from home-supplied lunches can add up to 18,760 pounds per elementary school! Not so cool. The answer? Zero-waste lunch to the rescue!
For inspiration and help, we turned to our friends, the mother-daughter green team Lynn Colwell and Corey Colwell-Lipson, authors of the book Celebrate Green! Creating Eco-Savvy Holidays, Celebrations and Traditions for the Whole Family. Below are their thoughts on how to pack a waste-free lunch. For more, check out their great website,
Zero-Waste 101
A zero-waste lunch means everything in the (reusable) lunch-box (or bag) is eaten, reused or recycled. Out with paper sacks and plastic zippy-bags; in with containers that click and clean. It’s easy and — dare we say it? — fun to put together a zero-waste lunch. (Getting your child involved in the process makes it a valuable eco-lesson, too.)
Green Their Lunchbox
Start by selecting a lunchbox or bag that’s sturdy, washable and free of toxins like heavy metals, PVC, phthalates and BPA. Choose a style and size that suits your child’s age. Or recycle a box or bag that’s already in use by your family: baskets, reusable shopping bags and mini-coolers are ideal.
Compile a set of durable, washable and reusable containers for the variety of healthy foods you’ll be sending to school with your child. Look for containers in different shapes and sizes made of BPA-free plastic, stainless steel, glass or fabric (earn extra credit for hemp or organic cotton). Pouches and bags for fruit and veggies slices, wraps for sandwiches, tins for cheese cubes, yogurt and dips and spill-proof thermoses for the hot (or cold) stuff.
Ditch drink boxes and plastic bottles (even those that are recyclable) and save money by refilling. Juice, milk and water will keep clean and cool in no-fuss stainless steel.
Zero-waste doesn’t have to cost a dime. Save small jars, tins and other containers that come with food you purchase at the store. Invite your kids to be on the lookout for perfect sized containers that could be used in their lunches. If you’re a DIY maven, you can make your own cloth sacks and pouches.

“A” for accoutrements
Don’t forget the napkins and utensils! To wipe messy faces and hands, opt for washable, reusable cloth napkins or make your own with some old fabric cut in squares with pinking shears (fast and no-sew!). Make a stack and use them at home, too.
Fast-growing bamboo makes the perfect zero-waste utensils. Little hands will love light-weight plastic options, which are made from potato or corn. And stainless-steel straws are a fun, and reusable, addition as well.
A few additional tips

  • Include your child in making healthy lunch choices.
  • Pack only what your child will eat and encourage your child to bring home the rest to eat later or compost.
  • Make kids responsible for rinsing out containers, putting napkins in the wash and re-provisioning their kits.
  • Include notes (on recycled paper of course) praising your kids for helping the planet.
  • Encourage your children’s school to go zero-waste on their lunch programs, too.
  • If it can’t be consumed or reused, recycle it! If it can’t be any of these, still encourage your child to bring the wrapping home; make art from it.

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