Reusable Produce Grocery Bags

by Danielle on July 26, 2010

reusable produce bagsWhen it comes to going reusable, there aren’t just reusable grocery bags anymore. Nope, now you can also eliminate plastic waste in the grocery store by bringing your own reusable produce bags.  It’s important to note some of the advantages of using reusable produce grocery bags, and what’s in it for the environment.

First of all, for you, there actually are a few small benefits. By going reusable, you’ll be able to store your vegetables inside the bags for a couple of days (longer periods of times aren’t recommended since all fruits and veggies release gases that start to decompose the fruit/vegetable in a matter of days). A fabric bag will let the produce breathe, instead of keeping the produce confined in a chemically created plastic material. These can be easily stored in your purse or inside one of your reusable bags.

Where the true benefits kick in are with the environment. The cons of using plastic bags have been blogged, chronicled, and have even been on your local news station. In case you missed those points, in a nutshell, it’s that:

  • Plastic bags kill animals. They suffocate by swallowing the bags (they cannot pass the bags from their system), or birds become entrapped within bags.
  • Plastic uses petroleum, a limited resource. Every time a plastic bag is created, oil needs to be refined and created first.
  • They keep us dependent on foreign oil.
  • Plastic bags use energy in the production process to create them. That’s more energy, oil, water, and transportation energy.
  • Plastic bags release harmful contaminants and pollutants into the air every time they are created, increasing greenhouse gases and contributing to climate change
  • Plastics have been ending up in our oceans, lakes, streams, rivers, and water supplies. They never truly break down, and will be with us forever. Plastic bags have already taken a huge toll on ocean wildlife in an offshore man made trash island called the Pacific Garbage Patch.

If you’re ready to take the jump to reusable produce bags, then visit TheGreenerEarth.com today to pick up a bundle of them for you (and maybe one for someone else in your family). One more thing: these bags don’t add any weight to the scale.

If you’re looking for other ways to reduce your dependence on plastic bags, be sure to read this page on an alternative to plastic trash bags and this post on how to reuse things.

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A World Without Recycling

by Danielle on July 23, 2010

When we recycle, we often think about the good things that we are doing, but what if we never did them at all? If the world cared nothing about recycling and the environment, we’d be in a much worse position now, and a far worse position in the future. Would mankind be surrounded by junk, rotting food, toxic substances, old soda cans, and piles of vintage Apple IIe computers?

A world without recycling is a scary idea, if you really think about it. As the population rate increases at a rate of about 1.17%, we cannot sustain the amount of people brought into the world based on the amount of resources that the planet has. Think of it like interest on a savings account. The initial amount isn’t very much, but once it gets rolling and interest starts compunding, things really start to grow. The same can be said for population. As we grow and the growth rate remains the same, the actual number of people on the planet is going to compund tremendously in the coming years. Now, where are all of these people going to live? Well, they can’t live in that trash pile over there… or that landfill over there… or that pile of vintage Apple IIe’s over there.

What if We Didn’t Recycle?

If we didn’t recycle at all, and we stopped recycling today, the future is going to be a messy, horrible place to live. The population of the planet is beyond its peak right now, and as we continue to exceed that number, resources are going to also continue to be depleted at a negative compound rate.

Let’s just imagine the scenario:

It’s the year 2080. Once mankind gave up on recycling, it was a much more convenient way of living. That only lasted for about three years, and that’s when the new landfills had to be created to deal with the new waste. Landfills were bulldozed from forests and fields, taking up living space and wildlife habitat. As more wildlife lost its habitat, the their numbers decreased. At first, only some species were affected, but the missing piece of the food chain puzzle caused a ripple effect. Soon, population numbers of hawks, squirrels, songbirds, moose, and turtles were in decline.

The Pacific Garbage Patch

The ocean wildlife were soon affected by the increase in trash as well. When recycling stopped, it was almost a checkered racing flag for polluters to dump trash into the ocean. The Pacific Garbage Patch, which was before twice the size of the state of Texas, grew to the size of China, then to the size of the Russia. It was literally a large floating trash island that was gaining mass and depth. There was practically a trash land bridge between Asia and North America. After sitting in the water for so long, the chemicals from the plastics were leeching into the ocean.

Besides the death caused at the hands of the garbage patch, it was now affecting the wildlife in new ways – by poisoning them. Chemicals like phtalates, BPA, and tiny bits of digestable plastic made the entire ocean a thick, sludgy soup, not just the Pacific. You couldn’t swim at beaches, and fishing had long since become a part of the diet of man. With the fishing industry gone, a large segment of the world population was without food. People started dying at a faster rate than before, and the population growth rate finally slowed, and reversed.

And that’s when mankind hit rock bottom. There were no places left to fish, no beaches to swim at, and no places left to build new homes (and that’s not even including the consequences of global warming). Was it too late to undo the harm that was already done? Yes. But the good news is that mankind figured out they could stop the problem from getting any worse, just by recycling what they use, or better yet, reusing it.

Is it Too Late to Change?

There’s no fairy tale ending here, just a good lesson learned. Is it too late for us to learn this lesson today? If you read back through the hypothetical story, you’ll notice that it’s much like the conditions of today. We’re at rock bottom right now. We already have a great patch of toxic, degrading plastic junk that’s killing ocean life, we are already running out of room for homes, and the food chain has already been affected by our own trash.  The scariest thing of all is that these are just a few of the consequences of not recycling.

Hearing about all of these potential and current consequences probably makes you want to change something in your life.  What are you going to do change the way you live? Will you start recycling more, reusing, or buying less? Maybe you could tell someone that you know just by sharing a link. The only thing better than one person making a change is two, or five, or a dozen people instigating change. You can start by emailing this post to a friend.

Intro photo of of North Pacific Gyre Garbage (photographer unknown).

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Proper Paint Waste Disposal

by Danielle on July 22, 2010

paint disposalPaint has come a long way since the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s, when lead paint was a common occurrence in apartments and homes across America. Today, paint is much less toxic, but still needs to be disposed of properly to avoid any adverse affects on the wildlife and environment. This page will summarize proper paint waste disposal, and give instructions on what to do to with your old paint.

The first thing you need to do before disposing of paint is to identify what kind of paint you own. If the paint you have is acrylic based paint, that means it is safe to dispose of without having to use any hardeners or bring to a recycling station. To dispose of acrylic paint, use up all of the paint within the can contents. When it’s used up, allow the paint to fully dry. Once the paint has dried, the can is now ready to be disposed of. The can cannot be recycled because of the dried paint, though you can ask your local recycling station if they will take the can for scrap metal.

For oil based paint, you will need to take greater care in disposal. The oil based paint must be used up entirely (which makes it imperative to buy just the right amount of paint, see guidelines using the interior paint calculator here). If you cannot use the paint up, you can sometimes bring the paint back to the place you purchased it so they can properly dispose of the paint or even recycle it. The side of the can or the company website may have more information on what to do with leftover paint.

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reuseOver a year ago, I created a page featuring 50 things you can reuse. I’m excited to say that this lens was featured on CollegeFashion.net!  The page gives 50 examples of things you can start using again and again instead of throwing them away or even recycling them. In case there’s some confusion, reusing is better than recycling. In most instances, it takes a great deal of energy to recycle something.

When you recycle an item, you are usually repurposing it into something else by melting down the materials or reworking the materials in some way. When you reuse something, you’re taking that raw item and using little energy to reuse it. For example, if you have twist ties and bags that you get with your bread, instead of trying to recycle it or throw it away, see if you can use it again a few times to store more of your own bread. If you have coffee grinds in your coffee maker, then dump them into your garden and create a rich, acidic fertilizer.

To make it 55 things you can reuse, here are a few additions to this list that you might find useful:

51. Reuse your old calendars. It sounds ridiculous, but at the point you’ll be ready to reuse it, it just might be vintage! This website will tell you when your calendar will be good for your to use.

52. Reuse your old magazines and books and give them to local nursing homes or senior centers. They could always use new reading material!

53. Take your old band t-shirts that are a little worn and cut out the middle piece with the logo/design. Patch them all together and you have one unique concert/band poster to hang in your room!

54. Reuse your old beer bottles and learn how to brew your own beer at home! This is a lot of fun, and it tastes pretty good.

55. Reuse your old cooking oil for bird suet.

For more ideas on how to reuse things, visit the 50 things you can reuse lens and see if you can take away a few ideas on things to improve in your life.  You’ll at least find a couple.

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An Alternative to Plastic Trash Bags

by Danielle on July 21, 2010

biodegradable trash bagsA thousand years from now, the plastic trash bags we use today will still be in existence. Even if we stop using plastic bags today, the earth is going to have a lot of old plastic to handle.  It’s up to us to stop using plastic and realize the consequences of our own actions. Luckily, an alternative to plastic trash bags exists in the form of biodegradable trash bags.

If you use biodegradable trash bags, you’ll be helping out the environment in a number of ways.

  • First, you’ll be preventing the production of plastic bags in the first place. Many biodegradable bags use less energy to produce.
  • Second, the materials used in biodegradable trash bags are compostable. That means they’ll break down into the environment without a trace left behind (and no toxic chemicals left behind either).
  • Our water supply will be protected. Plastic degrades into the water supply, and into our oceans lakes, rivers, and streams.
  • The wildlife will benefit from the use of these bags vs. plastic. Since they won’t be in existence as long, that means there’s less opportunity for turtles, birds, and scavengers to be suffocated by plastic.

You can learn more about the benefits of biodegradable trash bags on this post.

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What Caused Global Warming?

by Danielle on July 20, 2010

global warmingWe’ve known about global warming’s existence since the 1980’s, yet to this day, controversy over whether global warming is real or not is among the hottest of debates. The debate has perhaps given global warming more of a chance to be a top concern because of the controversy, putting terms like “climate change” and “carbon footprint” into the public consciousness.

Global warming has been caused over the centuries by man’s interference with nature, and the development of ozone depleting chemicals and processes. Some of the top offenders are petroleum, automobiles, and the use of coal as energy, but there are also other causes of global warming to consider. Natural events, plastics, and even recycling have contributed in some small way to the release of greenhouse gases and an increase in energy use.

What’s your take on global warming? Visit the previous link and weigh in with what you think.

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How to Find the Best Green Charities

by Danielle on July 16, 2010

green charityIf you’re into helping out the environment in a big way, then you might be rallying for one of the causes out there that can really bolster a community of people to take action. Those causes always need funding to continue operating, to make changes, and to meet their goals. So the question is, if you’re going to be plunking your hard earned money down to one of these green charities, which ones are the best to support?

These charities are dedicated to helping the environment, and have a good track record for allocating the funds towards what they are supposed to — helping the environment.

You can read about the list of green charities that I chose to feature on this page:

Ten Green Charity Organizations

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Natural Insect Repellent (DEET Free, Too)

by Danielle on July 15, 2010

deet free bug sprayThere are thousands of insect repellents on the market today, many of which contain the hazardous chemical DEET. This chemical has been limited in use in Canada. Studies have shown that chickens and other animals subjected to DEET testing experienced symptoms reminiscent of Persian Gulf War syndrome. The specific effects of DEET can be an inhibition of cognitive abilities, fatigue, and memory impairment. Though DEET remains an effect repellent against mosquitoes, the side effects are worth noting and well worth avoiding. You’ll also want to avoid citronella products that don’t work on bugs, as well as any gimmicky new product claiming to be able to repel bugs away. One proven natural ingredient that does repel mosquitoes is eucalyptus. Many natural insect repellents contain this ingredient in essential oil form, and it is quite effective. You can find the DEET free insect repellent here.

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How to Fight Climate Change

by Danielle on July 15, 2010

climate changeClimate change is serious business. The ozone layer has been in a state of depletion for decades from man’s use of fossil fuels and need for energy. Since the advent of electricity and into the Industrial Revolution, the climate has become progressively warmer as more emissions have been released into the air. This isn’t speculation or theory, this is fact. Doubters may point out various decades of a decreased temperature, but on the average, things have been on a steady climb. If you’re concerned about climate change, there is a way to fight it, or at least slow it down.

To reverse climate change right now might be impossible. Instead, what we can try to do is to slow the changes that are already in progress. There are 50 ways to fight climate change on this page, which range from eating less meat to using paperless billing. There’s no one quick fix to help this problem, it’s a different way of thinking (and that’s why there are 50 reasons, not just 5 or 10).

Visit the link and see if you knock a few of the things off the list, and then give yourself a pat on the back! Then, work on the rest of the list one at a time. If you have any suggestions of your own, feel free to leave them in the guestbook.

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Welcome to A Million Ways to Go Green!

by Danielle on July 14, 2010

A Million Ways to Go Green

The original logo for the A Million Ways to Go Green group.

This site has been an idea bubble for about two years, but has finally come to see the light of day today. What this website will be is a green tips resource, bringing you the latest green news, truly green products, and fun things that fit into a greener lifestyle.

A Million Ways to Go Green was first a group of people on Squidoo.com. You can see the original group page here.  As you can see, that page quickly outgrew the group page. A Million Ways to Go Green is building off the idea that the original group page was:

The Place to Learn About the Environment – From Recycling to Reusing, Current Green Living Topics, Ideas for Sustainability and Conservation

The same ideas apply to this website. It will be a place to learn about the environment, and hopefully turn into a resource everyone can use on their paths to a greener lifestyle. Look for updates to this website coming soon, including the Green Tip of the Day!

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