Monday, August 31, 2009
Each week I plan to present you with a new craft that we have completed in our household by reusing items that might have otherwise ended up in a landfill. My daughter loves to do crafts and overtime the amount of supplies I may have to purchase could really add up, also the amount of packaging that these supplies came in would add up. We will still need to purchase some supplies, but we will present you with some recycled crafts that reuses items or repurposes items we already own.
I hope your will continue to periodically check in to this blog to see what we have been up to and give you some ideas. Some crafts may be targeted to kids, while others may be crafts that take adult skills. I will continue to post on both Twitter & Facebook when I have made new updates to this blog. I may throw in a few other tips here or there besides my recycled crafts ideas.
In the meantime, I will be working on adding labels to all the posts I have already made so that you can click on a label and find all releated posts. And if you are new to this blog, please go back to June 2009 and start reading my tips for how you can save money while being mindful or saving the environment.
Save Green Being Green!
As I went through my morning I started thinking about how planning ahead can save you money and also save you from comsuming additional resources. I started out by filling up my stainless steel water bottle with water from my tap and then adding some ice cubes and realized that if I didn't fill my ice cube tray frequently I might not have the ice I enjoy. And with a little bit of planning you can make sure you have a whole bunch of ice made up before a party or ona day you plan to make some frozen cocktails at home, otherwise you may feel compelled to run out & buy a bag of ice which causes you to spend money, use your car & gas, and create another plastic bag to be created & transported.
Then I spied the individual reuseable containers I had in the fridge with snacks & leftovers for my daughter. And it made me think about how much money & resources I save by using reusable containers and making snack size containers for her from larger containers of items rather than buying individually packaged snack items. And by having a few items ready to go, I can grab in a hurry and take along and be prepared for the call from the backseat saying "I'm hungry. Got anything to eat?" And then I don't feel compelled to buy anything from our destination or run through a drive-thru.
By planning ahead, you can try to incorporate several stops into one trip, thereby reducing how many individual car trips you need to make. If I am going to the gym in the nearby town, I try to make sure I plan playdates with friends there for right after the gym or we go to the library or run any errands while I am there so that I am not wasting my time, money for gas, or increasing my carbon footprint by taking multiple trips to the same town in one day. I know that is sometimes easier said than done and it is much easier to do with a preschooler than with a toddler or infant, or (probably) with more than one kid (I am soon to find this out). And if something comes up that I need to go to that town, I try to think about if it can wait a day or two until I am going there for something else.
I also need to do a little planning ahead when it comes to laundry if I want to hang clothes outside. When you consider I save about 50 cents per hour/load by line drying as opposed using dryer, those savings can really add up if if you are washing 7-10 loads a week. But I need to pay attention to the weather forecast and wash clothes on a day that it is not raining (or rain isn't in the forecast) and one where I will have the time to hang the clothes & take them off the line. I know sometimes you need to have something washed and it doesn't matter if you can hang it outside or not and you will have to dry.
Think about what conveniences you utlilize because you negelected to plan ahead. You might find out that with a little organization you can help save yourself some money and save the environment.
Sunday, August 30, 2009
The average toilet will use 3-6 gallons of water per flush. It really all depends upon how much water fills in your tank. If space in your tank is filled with something else (like a brick) that won't flush, then less water is used. It is estimated that 30% of a household's water usage comes from flushing. So, it would reason a good way to reduce your water usage would be to cut back on how much is used with flushing. You really only need half as much water to flush efficiently.
I found this list that is pretty comprehensive of a TON of crafts you can make. I recycled mine from when my daughter ate pureed food, so I don't have any laying around, but with baby boy due in 2 months they will soon be come in the house. I know I said I was going to make my own this time, but probably not everytime. Sometimes it is nice to have a jar or 2 on hand or in the diaper bag since if they are kept sealed you can have them around and not worry about refrigeration.
And you can also use them to put some of your homemade baby food into.
Now, by buying baby food you are causing the necessary creation and distribution of the packaging materials (plastic, glass, paper or carboard on the outside of the container PLUS the boxes that each grouping of baby food containers are packaged in). And not to mention that you need drive some place to buy the food and the transportation related expenses and environmental impacts that are involved in getting it to the store.
I know you are probably wondering just how much money you will save and I found this handy comparison chart that tells you. Granted, I must comment that prices have risen on the cost of food, but it has risen across the board for both the frozen/fresh food you will buy & pureed and the jarred baby food. So, even if the cost per ounce is more, it will be more on all of them and the ratio of cost per ounce between them will still be about the same. The average on the chart is 3 CENTS an ounce if you make your own (prices look to be non-organic food) whereas buying jarred food will be 17-23 CENTS an ounce.
Every baby eats solids at a different rate, but if you take an average of 4-8 T of fruit and 4-8 of vegetables a day and use the savings of 20 cents per ounce (there is .5 fluid ounces in a tablespoon), then you will be saving 80 cents up to $1.60 on average a day. And even if you saved $1/ day off your food bill, that's $30/month and during the 6 months you would feed pureed baby food you would save $180. That really adds up. And if you kid eats more, you really start to see even more savings. You could save even more if you factor in making your own cereal, although I plan to buy iron-fortified cereal since I plan to breastfeed as long as possible again. I like to buy the Earth's Best Brand. My daughter loved it.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Only 4 more posts until I have my 101 items, but do not fret, I plan to keep this blog going. Just not on the daily basis I have been doing now. So, stay tuned.
We just made this as a craft project entry for our county fair for my daughter. She actually did most of the work. We started out using an empty chip canister, some used tissue paper that came wrapped around something, some chopsticks that came with our chinese food, some ribbon we bought at a thrift store, a little glue, & a couple of marshmallows. She mixed up a mixture of water & glue to use as a decoupage, then applied a layer to the outside of the canister and started applying layers of ripped tissue paper and water/glue mixture. She also applied a couple pictures of the fair mascot which we had printed out. Then we set that aside to dry. Next was making the drumsticks, which we could simply just used chopsticks, but she thought they needed a large head on the end and came up with the idea to stick marshmallows at the end (of course we had to get a couple out for her to eat as well and she really wanted to eat the ones she put on). She was very proud of herself for coming up with that idea.
After it was dry, I made holes in the side to stick in the ribbon and helped he push through the ribbon. Then I tied knots on the ends on the inside and she replaced the cover and was ready to go. It will take a couple days for the marshmallows to harden, but then they will solidify on the chopsticks. Have fun!
Sunday, August 23, 2009
So, let's talk about some ways that you can green up your camping, while saving your some money. If you are really concerned about having to drive somewhere, then pitch that tent in your backyard or go somewhere within biking distance. We have done a lot of daytime backyard camping this year and my daughter loves it.
The issue about needing a lot of supplies is that if you plan to camp with regular frequency, you can get a lot of use out of the items you buy (tent, sleeping bags, grilling items, flashlights, coolers, chairs, etc.) Like I said, we've been using our tent & sleeping bags all summer, and the other items are all things we use while we are at home or go to concerts in the park; they aren't just reserved for camping.
Here are some ways to green up your camping:
* Put rechargeable batteries in your flashlights.
* Buy food in bulk & separate at home into resuable containers and pack those.
* Share camping supplies with a friend or buy them used, thus creating less packaging waste on new purchases.
* Look for recycling receptacles at your campground, or bring your recycables home with you.
* Bring along unbreakable dishes that you will wash there, avoid disposable dishes.
* Follow the rules of the park & campground, they are there to make sure everyone can have an enjoyable time and that the park/campground are around for years to come.
* Use dish soap that is non-toxic, biodegradable, phosphate-free
* Use electrical items that are powered by crank, shake or solar power,if possible.
* Don't burn chemically treated wood, plastic or metal in your fires.
* Use an LED flashlight.
* Stay on the trails providing so your don't disturb or crush vegetation.
For a green camping craft, you can try making this camping lantern at home before you go.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Thursday, August 20, 2009
I like to make ornaments every year. We make a few new ones every year; it's kind of our tradition. Sometimes some get broken or damaged as they are stored and moved around, but it's nice to see all our homemade items on the tree.
I thought these turned out pretty and you would be proud to have them on your tree or to give away.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
She will tell us "We have to take care of the Earth!" "We have to pick up the trash!" "We have to recycle!" Such a good little Earth-Crusader. I think all the books we read about recycling really help and it seems like every show on PBS has some episode about taking care of the earth.
Anyways, this weekend we went to go check out a new park they are slowly creating in a neighboring town. Right now it is just a small lake for catch & release fishing (which they stocked) with some trash barrells (2 of several happen to be right in the parking lot - THROW YOUR STUFF OUT AS YOU LEAVE PEOPLE!) and some picnic tables. There was so much trash around the place on Sunday that it was just digusting. Trash all over the parking area, trash in the lake & trash in the grassland. She really wanted to stay & pick it up, but we weren't dressed for the park since we had just come from church. So, we promised to come back later to go fishing & pick up trash.
On Monday, she & daddy made the trash pick-up sticks (which are necessary when trying to pick up things out of the lake or if you are pregnant and find it hard to bend over much anymore). It was daddy's idea and he used leftover items from other projects (wood, nails & paint) to make them with her. I guess I am not the only creative one in the family.
It's a simple idea. He just hammered a nail part way in the end of some scrap wood (made one adult size & one kid size) and then sawed off the head so that it had a pointy end. They then used leftover paint to make them look spiffy (plus as they are hanging in the garage we know what they are and don't mistake them for scrap wood).
She thought it was pretty fun to go back to the park and use her new trash stick to clean up the earth. I thought it was pretty neat that I could pick up plastic bags & stab cans in the lake and not have to touch them (or bend over!)
And you know what - it doesn't cost us a thing to pick up litter (or to throw away you trash in the first place), just a few moments of time. You could even make a game out of it and have your kids race to see who can get the most trash in their bags. Although, I draw the line at cigarette butts; I won't let her touch them. I wish people with that filthy habit could throw them away if they are going to do that (& why are you smoking in a public park?)
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
If you go to the farmer's market to buy something you didn't grow this year, think about saving the seeds from that produce so that you can plant it next year. Not only will you get to eat the produce, but you can keep the seeds and save money and not have to buy those seeds next year.
Also, consider talking with fellow gardeners about swapping seeds. They you can really get a variety and save yourself money on seeds next spring. Some items you might like may be difficult to harvest seeds from, so you still might have to buy those seeds.
Monday, August 17, 2009
The best way to have a healthy lawn is to let it grow a little. Set your lawn mower height to 2.5-3.I believe our is set at 2.5 all year long. Check out this article about mowing height & frequency.
And contrary to what you may think, you actually end up mowing the lawn less. By letting the grass grow, you are allowing it to establish a stronger root system and you will consequently have less weeds. Also, given normal rainfall, you will have to water less with longer grass because longer grass has longer roots and can go deeper into the ground to find water whereas short grass with short roots will dry out more quickly and tend to brown more quickly.
The other thing you should do is periodically mow right onto the lawn and NOT bag it. The grass clippings will mulch back into your lawn providing free & natural fertilizer for you lawn. We do bag it a few times, especially the last mowing with all the leaves on the ground as well so that w don't create to much thatch on the lawn, but the grass & leaves we bag get emptied right onto the garden to mulch there and help fertilize that.
And the best thing you can do for your lawn is Let Go of the Idea of a “Perfect” Lawn. Stop competing with your neighbor about who has a greener lawn or has it freshly cut more often. This competition only leads to making unhealthy decisions for you lawn and then you enter a cycle of more & more unhealthy decisions.
Don't be afraid of what you might think are “weeds” in your lawn. Some of them are not and are needed to help your lawn naturally keep a good balance. Consider white clover in your lawn it grows low, needs little if any maintenance and is soft on your feet like grass. You will need a combination of clover & grass for it to grow healthy. And if you salt or plow your driveway (or have salted areas from where the city plow truck came by), clover will take to those areas when grass has a hard time establishing.
That “perfect” lawn people think they need to strive for costs a lot of money to maintain and uses lots of chemicals that pollute our earth and also takes a considerable amount of time. I don't know about you, but I would rather play on my lawn with my daughter than spending time maintaining it to “perfection” and avoiding it because of the chemicals put on it.
And if you stick with your choice to maintain a healthy organic lawn, it might just catch on with your neighbors. They might be relieved to not have to compete and may even join in your organic lawn efforts.
Sunday, August 16, 2009
We do this with cards as well. Usually for cards, we specifically plan an art project that will involve us making card(s). Not only does my child get to be creative and have fun, but she works on creating something for someone special and I get to save money on buying a card. We all know that cards can be just a formality, especially when it is just something they read quickly once and then they get recycled. People seem to be more appreciative of the homemade card and have a tendency to hang on to them or display them rather than recycle them.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Now, what to do with those grounds. Here are a few suggestions:
* Sprinkle the cooled grounds right on to the ground of outdoor & indoor plants. The grounds will give a slow-release of nitrogen that will help fertilize your plants. Plus it will help keep slugs away.
* Sprinkle on your lawn to help fertilize the lawn naturally.
* Compost the grounds right along with the filter.
* Let them dry out & put in a bowl to use as a deodorizer in your fridge/freezer
* Re-steep them and use to make a dye, great for eggs or crafts projects.
* Use as a body scrubs for arms & legs while in the shower.
* Rub them on your hands & rinse to remove garlic, onion or other smells.
* Put around plants that you don't wants cats near. Cats don't like the smell and it will deter them.
* Sprinkler whereever you have ants, inside or outside. It will naturally repel the ants.
* Make Coffee ground play-doh (I have not tried this yet)
* Make coffee ground fossils
* Make Dinosaur Digging Rocks/Eggs. This looks like a fun thing to do and you could use other small trinkets inside if your kids aren't into dinosaurs.
* Make homemade “sand”
Ok, so now you have use the filter & the grounds, what about the coffee. That list is almost endless.
* Reserve the liquid to use in most any muffin, bread, brownie or chocolate cake.
* Use to marinate meats, make a gravy or in stew.
* Use in making a BBQ sauce.
* Use to make a frosting.
* Make coffee ice cubes & serve iced coffees later. The coffee ice cubes will prevent it from getting watered down the way it would with regular ice cubes.
* Add to chili.
* Water your houseplants with it.
What do you do with your leftover coffee & grounds?
Friday, August 14, 2009
Click here to get your free subscription. In case you are wondering, it is a parenting magazine focused on being natural & organic living.
After it’s use as a baby food or spaghetti sauce container, what can you do with a glass jar? Here, four great ideas:
* Use the jars to grow your own sprouts at home
* Store items like oats or dried beans that are purchased from your market’s bulk section
* Make homemade salad dressing by shaking it up in the jars and storing them for later use
* Kids can cover jars in papier-mâché, then paint them to create an original container for pencils, markers, or crayons.
Between car washes, pools, air conditioners, and fans, it can be hard to conserve water and energy during the summer. These tips will help you make the most of these precious resources:
* Run the dishwasher and washing machine in the morning or evening, so your air-conditioner won’t have to work extra hard to compensate for the heat of these appliances.
* When washing your car or letting your kids play in the sprinkler, do it in a place where the lawn needs watering anyway, rather than on the driveway or sidewalk.
* Ceiling fans are a great way to cool down, but remember that fans cool you, not the room, so turn them off every time you leave. (Click here for more tips on staying cool while going green.)
* Cover your pool when you’re not using it so the water won’t evaporate as quickly. Also, turn the heater off or down to prevent rapid evaporation (the warmer the water is, the quicker it will evaporate).
These are great to have on hand to use when you go places that might not have these complimentary toiletry items, like camping. Or save them and put them out for your guests when they stay at your place. They may just feel like they are at a vacation destination when you include little things like that.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
But while I was at the gym the other day I was reading an article on re-purposing household items in the August 2009 issue of Woman's Day and they described making a marshmallow stick out of a wire coat hanger, but you can also find directions here.
The only difference was that the WD article had one additional tip and that was to use a discarded wine cork on the end to provide you protection from the heat.
I was thinking of making a couple of these to go along with the firestarters I made. Maybe even throw in a bag of marshmallows. It could be a whole themed gift package. :)
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Monday, August 10, 2009
My daughter & I just made these. We re-used 4 straws from a restaurant we went to and some paper ads cut from a magazine. The other supplies you need is some glue, some kind of string, and a pair of scissors and you are ready to make homemade beads. 4 straws was enough to make a necklace and bracelet for a preschooler.
It's actually a pretty simple craft. I cut the paper from magazine ads before I assembled our supplies, and I cut the “beads”, but everything else was hers to do. She could have probably cut the beads with a little help.
* Assemble supplies (paper strips cut to size, straws, glue, scissors, plastic needle & string)
* Apply glue over the entire backside of the paper
* Roll straw over paper from one end to the other, covering the entire straw
* Allow to dry
* Cut into desired sized beads
* Cut desired length of string to make bracelet/necklace/etc.
* String beads using plastic needle (I used yarn, so it worked best with the needle) and string
* Tie ends together.
Sunday, August 9, 2009
Save Green & Be Green in MN!
Let's just think of the waste involved with buying a few snack items:
*Banana – a sticker on the bunch and that's it, unless you put it in a bag, which I never do and at about 50 cents a pound. The peel you will just compost.
*A box of cookies – are usually in a plastic container wrapped in plastic and sometimes even have a box around that and at $2-$3+ a pound.
Which sounds like the cheaper option and also has less waste? That's easy – the bananas.
*Carrots - in a plastic bag or just a tie if you buy with stems on and at $1 a pound if you buy baby carrots, cheaper still if you buy whole carrots & peel yourself.
*Goldfish Crackers – in a multi-layered paper bag which is about 8 ounces for $1.50, which is $3/ pound.
I think you get the idea.....it's the carrots that are cheaper and have less waste.
Now let's try something similar, like oatmeal.
*A canister of oatmeal for about $2 for a couple pounds and were you have a lid & cardboard container to reuse (oatmeal containers have many creative uses for kids crafts.)
*Bulk Oatmeal can be bought using a bag & tie (or bring your own container & right on weight if store allow this) for 60-99 cents a pound depending upon if you buy organic or not.
*Instant Single Serve Packets come in a box of less than a pound for $2-3 and then you have each single serve waxed paper wrapper and a box.
With oatmeal you can have several different options on how to save money and save on waste.
The other thing is that processed food tends to have more sugar, salt & fat in it that whole foods, which tend to have more fiber and are lower in calories. So, if you tend to eat more processed food and less whole foods, you could have health issues that will cost you more money in the long run.
That's not to say we don't have processed food in our house, but I do try to make sure I have plenty of whole foods available and make sure I allow extra time to cook/prepare that might be needed instead of using processed convenience foods.
Saturday, August 8, 2009
My daughter added some glitter to her clay to make it more fun to play with. "Sparkles are fun!" as she would say.
Anyways, if you store it in an airtight container you should be able to reuse it and reuse it. But we leftout her cutouts she did to dry so that we can paint them and add a magnet to the back and make some magnets.
We're in the process of making art projects for fair coming up, so she may enter these.
Friday, August 7, 2009
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Also, check with your local utility company. Some offer a rebate incentive to cover a portion of the cost of your thermostat. Our electric company will give us a rebate of up to $20 and I have seem them offer this rebate the last 3 years, including this year.
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
If you really want to read it cover to cover & not pay for it or cause more paper to be used, then go to the library. Libraries tend to have many magazines that you can check out and also get the daily paper. Or try a local coffee shop, as someone usually leaves the paper they bought sitting there for others to read after they have left and some coffee shops have a collection of magazine that people have bought & left there and other customers get the benefit of reading them.
Also, remember you can probably sit down and read a newspaper or magazine when you are at various medical or dental appointments or at the gym. The gym usually has a pretty large selection of magazines that they subscribe to for their patrons.