Category Archives: sustainability

Plastic Junk around us

Water Water Everywhere, and Plastic Crap Too

We are at the beach for a weekend get-away. This morning I got up with the kids and hit the beach before the sun got too bright. Even early, the beach was crowded with dads pulling carts and buggies full of colorful plastic junk. They discussed the various advantages of the wheels on their sand conveyance contraptions as they erected tents, laid down blankets, set up chairs, and emptied huge bags of toys.

I felt momentarily inadequate. We dig with our hands, sit in the sand, and dry off in the sun. Like the readers of this blog (at least the real readers and not my poor friends and family who feel obligated to read it), we are conservationists, which means in many ways we are minimalists. Very few would disagree with the argument that an abundance of unrecycled plastic crap is bad for the environment. Consider the resources to make and transport junk that never biodegrades and gets into our ecological system.

I beleive there is a a human cost too. As human beings we evolved close to the earth, and it’s only relatively recently that corporations have encouranged us to remove ourselves from nature. We are still part of the earth. Our brains are wired to take in all the sensations around us. We are meant to see it, smell it, and touch it. The beach is a great place to exercise our senses. You can feel the sand, taste the salt, listen to the waves, watch the sunset into the ocean. Some scientists believe we draw electons from the earth when we walk barefoot. Google “earthing.”

The problem I see it that all this plastic junk is getting in the way of really experiencing the beach. It’s insulating our senses. Plus, it ends up littering the beach or in a landfill for eternity.

Despite the lack of plastic junk (we did have one pail and shovel, but the shovel broke) we had a great morning at the beach.

A plastic free beach experience

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Recycling Can Advent Calendar

This year I wanted to do an Advent calendar with the kids, but December 1st came today and I still hadn’t bought one. I could have run out to the store and picked one up, but I decided to make my own  instead from items laying around the house. I love how these came out because I am re-using items in a season where there is much waste, I was able to combine the Christmas Story of Jesus Christ, Messages of goodwill and treats.

After looking around I collected paper rolls, a box lid, some tissue paper, ans some scrap fabric (ribbon, elastic, or tape would have worked fine too.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI cut the rolls down to size and hot glued 24 of them into the box lid.

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Now it is time for the goodies. I added enough candies for each family member of age to eat candy.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANext I printed the story of Jesus from a children’s bible and cut it into 24 pieces. Those went into each package too.

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I then cut up 24 scraps of paper and wrote down various acts of goodwill. I included a mix of things to do for family, friends, neighbors, and strangers.

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When all 24 were stuffed I covered them with tissue paper (that came from inside my new boots) and wrapped them shut with scraps of fabric left over from yesterday’s craft.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe placed in on the kitchen counter and will open one each night. When we get to December 25th we can either save it for next year, toss it in the recycling can, or put it in the compost!

I am a coffee person. My kids know not to task me with anything too difficult until I’ve had the chance to at least sip my coffee. Usually one cup, maybe two, is enough for the day though so last year I put the new-must-have coffee device on my Christmas wish list. My husband bought me the Keurig coffee maker, as well an assortment of K cups. He even remembered to get the Fair Trade Certified brands.

Oh my Keurig

Oh my Keurig

Once the thing was set up and I brewed my first cup, I took the used K cup to the refuse bins. Recycle or Garbage- which one? I hated to do it, but this thing was plastic, foil, and food waste. It went in the garbage but over the next few days it began to pile up. So I did some experimenting. Despite what Keurig’s website says…you CAN recycle these cups.

Question
Are K-Cup® packs Recyclable?
Answer
The challenge of protecting the freshness of roasted coffee while using environmentally friendly packaging is one that both Keurig and the coffee industry are committed to overcoming. We are very sensitive about the waste created by the K-Cup® packs and are investigating alternative materials. Finding a solution for this is a priority for us, and one we hope to have before long

The process works best if you wait until you have 10-15 cups ready to toss. We put the used ones in a bowl next to the Keurig. When it is full we prepare the empties for recycling. Here are the steps:

Step 1- Peal the foil off

Peal the foil off

Peal the foil off

Step 2- Shake out the grounds. We like to shake them into house plants. Coffee grinds make great compost matter. Hypothetically if you had enough it would be worth the trip to the outdoor compost bin. Coffee grounds are also bug repellents so that is another reason to put them in the house plants.

Shake out grounds

Shake out grounds

Step 3- Rip out the paper liner. Not all K cups have this. Some have a plastic disk at the bottom which you can pop out with your finger nail. It depends on the brand but I haven’t come across any filter methods I couldn’t remove.

Peel out the filter

Peel out the filter

Step 4- Recycle or Re-purpose. In my county we have a great recycling program. I have noticed that other counties don’t though. If you can’t recycle here are some ideas for re-purposing K cups.

Ready for the recycling can

Ready for the recycling can

Platter or dish holders. They are sturdy and can handle heat.

Holding up a plate or dish. They can handle heat and are very sturdy.

Holding up a plate or dish. They can handle heat and are very sturdy.

Sorting cups for small items like pills, beads, change, etc.

Sorting cups for pills, change, jewelry, beads, toys.

Sorting cups for pills, change, jewelry, beads, toys.

And my favorite idea by far…
Seed starters. They are the perfect size and already have a drainage hole. Line them up in a tray, fill them with 3-4 tablespoons of dirt, and put a seed in each cup. You can label the seed right on the cup. Give them water and sun and yout garden is on it’s way.

Seed starters

Seed starters