Tuesday, December 11, 2012

3 Tips To Reduce, Reuse, Recycle This Holiday Season

by Mistie Dawn

The holiday season is in full swing! And here comes the holiday packages filled with goodies from friends and family. Did you know that Americans generate 25% more waste (that's 6 million tons, up 20% since 1995) between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day? Here are a few suggestions on ways to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle this holiday season.

1. Styrofoam peanuts.  They're every where this time of year and even if you don't use them someone you know does. I have always tried to reuse the Styrofoam peanuts that I receive in shipments but they seem to multiple by the hundreds and I would NEVER dream of throwing them away (Styrofoam is not biodegradable and will sit in landfills for centuries). Try as hard as I could but I could keep up. Next thing I knew I had compiled two giant garbage bags full of these things. I decided to visit my neighborhood Mom & Pop shipping store to see if they would be interested in taking them. "Of course!", was their response. Phew! After the holidays I suggest you bag up all the peanuts you've collected and take them to your neighborhood shipping company. They always need more. Though I would prefer for people to stop using Styrofoam altogether I would much rather we reuse what is already in circulation than add them to the landfill.

Learn more about Styrofoam's Environmental Impact

2. Wrapping Paper/ Gift Bags. Another holiday favorite that piles up at Christmas time, wrapping paper and gift bags. I for one always save every gift bag that I receive and I have a special storage area where I fold them up and save them. What do I save them for? Well for the next gift giving occasion. Have you seen how much gift bags cost these days! It is especially perfect for when you have that last minute gift giving occasion. I just pick something out of my nifty stash and I'm good to go. The bonus is that my bags usually already have matching tissue paper!

Check out Kenneth Brown Design's website for more ideas on how to reuse wrapping paper

As for wrapping paper, I am a big fan of decoupaging. I know a lot of people who spend a great deal of money at the local craft store buying specialty decorative papers. Why not reuse wrapping paper for your next project?

3. Holiday Cards. This is a trick I learned from my grandmother. She never threw away holiday cards. She would collect them after the holidays and cut out the beautiful pictures and messages. Then she would remake them into new cards for the next round of holidays by pasting the pictures/ messages onto card sized card stock paper. She would mix and match pictures and be really creative with it.

Check out Chica & Jo's website for more ideas on how to recycle cards

Holiday Day Cards Upcycled as Gift Tags

I also think holiday cards are another great resource for decoupage projects. Here are a few decoupage projects ideas from Martha herself.

Bonus tip!:  

Biodegradable Dinnerware. As we mentioned in one of our previous blog discussions,
some of the biggest waste generated during the holidays is from disposable dinnerware. Much of it made from plastic, Styrofoam, or chemically treated paper products which are not biodegradable. Make sure you are looking for and buying biodegradable products. There is a lot to choose from these days. From plates made from fallen palm leaves, to corn starch "plastics", recycled paper products, and bamboo.

Let's get that holiday waste number to come down not up! Save money and have fun while doing it.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Can I read your palm leaf?

by Katy Green

Palm Leaf Bowl

Palm leaf bowls and plates are a divine invention...no more paper plates (check out Shoptobegreen No More Paper Cup Campaign) and their existence is to help stop carbon waste and landfills.

Shoptobegreen ...stop the paper waste fact: According to TIME magazine, "Americans trash an estimated trillion disposable plates and utensils every year." This fact has driven new, eco-friendlier options into the marketplace.

The palm leaf bowls that Shoptobegreen carries are made only of fallen palm leaves, steam, heat and pressure is the pure, all-natural choice for party-ready dinnerware. Palm leaf bowls naturally biodegrades in fewer than 2 months after disposal (that is fast compared to the  5 - 20 years for paper to recycle depending on climate - moist is better than dry for paper cups to biodegrade).

The palm leaf plates are BPI-certified 100% compostable and of fallen leaves an agricultural waste product most often burned. No heat transference and maintains shape when in contact with hot substances.
You can microwave the palm leaf bowls and palm leaf  up to 2 minutes on high and oven safe for up to 45 minutes at 350 degrees.

Disposable Plates
Palm Leaf History
Palm leaflets are one of the oldest and cheapest materials used for writing. Palm leaf manuscripts have been a popular written media for over a thousand years in Southeast Asia.  Palm leaves were used for recording the history, knowledge and local wisdoms such as medical treatments, Buddhist doctrine, astrology and the story of dynasties.
Source: Palm Leaf Manuscript

Monday, December 3, 2012

Corktopia...cork is more than a wine stopper!

by Katy Green

Did you know that cork oak is a naturally waterproof, washable, hypoallergenic, scratch and stain resistant. Well gosh green it's true.

I am going to get nerdy for a moment and share that cork production is most popular in Portugal..say that twice. According to the University of Wisconsin...(for more Cork history, click here)
The cork oak (Quercus suber L.) finds its most suitable habitat in the western MediterraneanThe Portugal climate offers ideal conditions for the economic cultivation of the species. Such conditions are in fact found only in the Mediterranean zone, and, more particularly along the Atlantic shore. In addition, Portugal is a major cork-grower; in fact, nearly one-third of the total cork oak area, estimated at 2,150,000 hectares (5.3 million acres) is in Portugal, which produces approximately half the cork harvested annually in the world (about 310,000 tons).  
Can you imagine Cork Fashion Week...well it's real, Cork Fashion Week is held in the UK in September and tons of designers showcase their creations of cork inspiration.

I am sure you are wondering, why does Shoptobegreen carry cork bags and accessories? Is cork a green item? If it's made in Portugal is it a fair trade practice? 

Yes, three times.

Let's educate shall we...cork is the outer bark of a tree, Quercus suber aka cork tree as (noted above). 

  • Cork bark is usually harvested every nine or ten years. After the slabs of cork bark are harvested they are cleaned, boiled and stripped of the rough outer surface. For example, bottle stopper "corks" are then punched from the best material in the slabs. 
  • The remaining scraps are then ground into small granules, mixed with a binder, molded into large blocks and baked in specialized ovens - making use of every scrap of cork bark.
  • Cork oak is also grown in Algeria, France, Italy, Morocco,Spain and Tunisia.
  • Shoptobegreen offers cork bags and white oak cork board, cork oak roll strap handbag, cork oak coin holder, cork shoulder strap bag and much more.
  • Shoptobegreen deals only with fair trade vendors.