This week is all about how to reduce the amount of garbage for which we are each responsible. Twelve points are needed to earn a certificate for this unit.
No Garbage Lunches
How are individually wrapped "lunch box" chips, cookies and crackers hard on the environment? What solutions can you come up with to reduce that impact?
Look around your house and find things that you can use when making lunch in order to pack a "zero waste" or "no garbage" lunch. Remember, your goal is to pack a lunch so you will have nothing to throw away (or recycle) when you are finished.
What are some of the ways plastic bags are hard on the environment? What solutions are there? Look around your house and find other options to replace plastic bags.
San Francisco Bans Traditional Plastic Bags
Whole Foods Discontinuing the Use of Plastic Bags in all Stores
Develop a system to using reusable bags. Develop a habit of putting bags back in the car after things are taken out of them. You can't use the bag if you don't have it with you.
Practice saying "We don't need a bag; we've brought our own!". Help the cashier by holding the bags open for him or her. This makes their job a little easier. Be sure to thank the cashier if they are nice or enthusiastic about your reusable bags. Let them know you appreciate their understanding. Consider finding the store manager and let them know how nice it was to have a cashier with a good attitude toward reusable bags.
Remember that not every purchase needs a bag. If you are buying one or two things they can be carried out of the store without a bag!
Wipe Swipe and Gesundheit
The secret to using cloth napkins is having enough on hand. You will never be able to develop a workable system if you don't have enough to work with. This is one of those situations where QUANTITY is better than quality. It is good to have one nice set of cloth napkins for when company is over but for everyday use think "cheap" and "absorbent". Check clearance racks (especially after holidays) for cheap bar towels, dish towels, washcloths and napkins. Simple napkins can be sewn using any absorbent fabric. (This is a great way to learn how to sew. It is nothing but straight lines and if they aren't perfect it doesn't matter.) Flannel also makes great napkins. If you cut it with pinking shears it will not ravel (I do have an occasional thread every 4 or 5 washes.) so there isn't even sewing involved. (Flannel will need to be washed a few times before it is really absorbent.)
Paper towels are equally as easy to part with. An ample supply of washcloths or bar towels (which can often be found on clearance after holidays) will serve nearly every paper towel purpose. "Ample" is the key word here. In our home we have a "clean hand" towel. This towel's only purpose is to dry clean hands. It does not wipe off counters. It does not dry dishes. It ONLY dries hands. This answers those "germy" concerns of paper towel supporters!
One question that is common... "Doesn't all that extra cloth increase the amount of water and energy used? Doesn't it defeat the purpose?" My answer is NO. We use no paper napkins, no paper towels, no disposable cleaning clothes and approximately 1/4 of the toilet paper we previously used. Our laundry has increased by 1/2 a load. All those napkins, towels and rags are very small. Most of the time they are disbursed throughout our regular load of towels. There is a bit more folding involved but since they are very little it is a great way to get little hands (the kids!!!) folding laundry.
Let It Rot
The average family throws away 1.28 pounds of food waste each day. That adds up to 470 pounds per year.
The average American family throws away 14% of all food that comes into the home. Most waste is in the form of produce and is a direct result of poor planning.
When planning your meals for the week try to plan the meals that use fresh produce for the first few days after you go grocery shopping.
Look into composting the rest of your food waste.
This is not for Florida but it has some good basic information.
How to Compost
Another site with basic information for backyard composting.
Our Vital Earth
The worm farm in Sorrento that sells the Can-O-Worms. This is a commercial site but still has some great info about worms and worm composting.
Great info on setting up a worm bin.
Back By Popular Demand
The new year has brought new recycling guidelines for many counties. Here is a list of things that can be recycled by county. Volusia County residents are now able to recycle MUCH more than last year. Orange County was surprisingly limited on the things that could be recycled. Seminole County has restrictions on the types of plastic containers. (They have a great Kids page on their website!) So read up on what can and can't be recycle in your community.
Recycled Art Show
This is an extra activity that is worth 3 points. We will be participating in the Youth Celebration of the Arts on March 8, 2008 at Gemini Springs in Debary. Our theme is Found and Recycled Art. All entries should be made out of all recycled or found objects. With the exception of glue, none of the items used in your project can be purchased. Check with family and friends to find things you might need and get creative. Your project can be anything; a sculpture, a picture, something useful, something to wear...anything you can think of and create with found and recycled objects. One last consideration! I need to be able to move these projects so they must be of a reasonable weight and size and be sure things are attached well!! All entries need to be to me no later than February 28th! (You can bring them to co-op that day if you wish.)