Saturday, December 26, 2009

Movie Time

Christmas Eve, we took the kids out to dinner and to see Alvin & the Chipmunks. Going to the movies with kids is always an experience and is still just as fun as when I would go before we had kids. Over the summer, we would see one movie a week because our local movie theater had FREE summer movies. It was those weekly movie trips (and the overflowing trash cans) that made me start looking at my movie theater habits.

First and foremost, I'm a sucker for the movie experience including concessions. I buy the overpriced soda, small but pricey candy and the occasional popcorn. While I completely kind of understand the money making aspect of the price gauging... I can't understand the waste associated with the teeny tiny bag of (pick your favorite candy) packaged in a box that's 3 times the size it needs to be.

Secondly, I would always leave my trash for the theater workers to clean up. I figured that's what they're paid for, right? Hmmm...

Over the summer, I started packing my own snacks and drinks. Now, I don't carry a diaper bag into the theater... I just carry my messenger purse that I purchased while in Australia (11 years later-- I still LOVE it)... I happily refer to it as "My Movie Purse." Oh, I hope I don't get in trouble for this ;) You see... I don't do it to be cheap... The packing of drinks came from me not wanting to drink sodas and my commitment to not buying bottled water. Packing one reusable bottle of water is enough for my three kids and me. When it comes to movie snacking, I often buy in bulk and take a couple of little snack bowls for my kids. Years ago, I used to buy the little individual applesauces, peaches, etc. and not being able to recycle them at the time... I saved them. I split up the snacks between my kiddos and refill when necessary. No little plastic bags, no boxes, no lids, no straws... no trash.

Now I still sometimes do buy sodas, and popcorn-- like I said, I'm a sucker for the movie "experience". So in those times when I do produce trash at the movie theater, I don't leave it on the floor or in the cup holder. Here's why: If I leave my trash for someone else to clean up... then I'm teaching my kids that it's OK to throw trash on the ground because someone will be there to clean it up. I feel as a parent it's my responsibility to teach my children that the only person that should be picking up after them is themselves. Whether or not someone is paid or has a job to clean up after me... by leaving my trash... I'm littering. I am not a litterbug.

Litterbug: One who litters a public area.

SO... next time you head to the movies.... plan ahead... pick one waste that you can reduce. It could be as simple as buying one large soda instead of 3 small ones. AND, of course, pick-up after yourself... it's just the right thing to do :)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Made with LOVE

Christmas gift giving hasn't always been my strong suit. Not because I don't love giving people gifts, but simply because I don't like giving people "things". I like to gift with meaning... not just because I'm told that this is the time of year that I'm supposed to buy someone a gift-- this includes all holidays. I used to scour stores looking for that perfect gift... something special that my recipient would adore and know for a fact that it came from me. After having kids, searching the stores became a near impossibility... and I reverted to gift cards. While quite practical and convenient... they always missed the mark for me as something "special" and "memorable".

I needed to do something different... to fulfill my gift giving desires. Christmas 2005, I decided that I was going to make my gifts. I'm not crafty at all. But one thing I can do is cook. So that year, I baked tirelessly in the kitchen crafting brownies, marshmallows, truffles, elephant ears, cookies, spiced nuts, peanut brittle, breads... etc etc etc. For me, it was exactly what I needed to give. Of course, I took in to account what I knew our recipients liked... and I put a whole lot of LOVE into everything I made. I decorated box, grabbed an old cookie tin or glass jar and filled them with my specialties...

This year, I thought about not baking anything... then Claire's dance teacher said, "I can't wait for your box. Mmmm... raspberry truffles." I smiled and listened as she told everyone around her how she savored every bite of her Christmas present and has been looking forward to this Christmas since the last. At that moment, I realized that my gifts have become a sort of Christmas tradition.

What I've learned? Gifts don't have to be extravagant or cost much to mean a lot. Quite simply...they just need to be filled with LOVE.

Check out this repurposed Peanut Butter Jar. A gift in waiting. Oh yeah... those are Rocky Road Crunch Bars :) Giving from the heart has never felt tasted SO good.

This holiday....make something for someone.

"It came without ribbons! It came without tags! It came without packages, boxes, or bags!"... "Maybe Christmas doesn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas... perhaps... means a little bit more."

Friday, December 11, 2009

(Re)Fill 'Er Up

I was just reading an amazing blog that my friend Jennifer had shared with me over the summer.  The blog is mostly about the Pacific Garbage Patch-- it's a big HUGE topic... if you don't know much about it... you should.  But what I saw today, was something so simple and completely fits with starting somewhere small and making a big impact.  Needless to say, I just had to share:

'“Carbon footprint” has been in the dictionary for ten years. But what about other footprints? How many rolls of toilet paper do we use a year? How many jars of mayonnaise? How many light bulbs?  What are these footprints? Recently I came across a really interesting online calculator that figures out how many paper cups you use if you go out for coffee. Click on the photo to try it out.'

In case you're wondering... I'm not a coffee drinker.  My husband is.  Our kids and I prefer hot chocolate or tea ;).  So whenever we're going somewhere where coffee (and hot chocolate or tea) are in our futures, we grab our reusable coffee thermoses (mugs work, too).  When we order we hand them our cups and forgo the paper (or styrofoam).  If you don't have a reusable cup with you.... decide to stay and enjoy your caffeine of choice and ask for your drink in a mug.

No styrofoam, no paper for your coffee, tea or hot chocolate = less waste (and that's a good thing)  :)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Not Just for "Baking"

Last week, I was on the phone with my sister-in-law talking about all sorts of stuff and I decided that I should share a little of what we talked about. :)

We were just about to get off the phone, when she asked me a quick question.  A couple of nights before our conversation, she had steamed some corn and before she knew what was happening all of the water had evaporated and the sugars from the corn (that were left behind from the water) had scorched on her stainless steel pot.  For the past couple of days she had soaked the pot, scrubbed, soaked, scrubbed... and no change.  Before she was even finished telling me her story... I knew how to fix the seemingly unfixable.

The fix:  Baking soda.  Add enough water to make a paste and scrub.

Here's one of my skillets before, during and after using baking soda to scrub it :)

 It goes without saying that a fancy stainless steel scrub product isn't needed... a simple (cheap & environmentally friendly) box of baking soda has SO many uses... next time you're at the store (or baking) look at the back of the box and see what product you can replace with baking soda.

By the way, my sister-in-law's pan is good as new!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Think Outside the Bottle

Remember back in the day when buying bottled water was the "it" thing to do? I used to be a soda junky (Mr. Pibb was my weakness). When bottled water came out... I happily started buying it. Of course, the lover of all things French that I am... I was an Evian drinker. I was completely convinced that water packaged fresh from the French Alps just tasted better. Besides, carrying a bottle of Evian just made me feel healthy and sophisticated... well as sophisticated as a high schooler could possibly feel ;)

Sit tight... I have a feeling I could get long winded ;)

I bought bottled water well into my twenties. In fact, I only made the decision a little over 2 years ago to stop buying it completely. The reasons why I decided to stop buying bottled water came from various places. The first thought I had about it all came from my loathing of Kimberly-Clark. I got an email from GreenPeace that urged me to vote for Kimberly-Clark in Corporate Accountability International's Hall of Shame to cast light on their corporate abuse. I did. It was there that I noticed their campaign "Think Outside the Bottle". I was immediately curious and started reading.

I took the pledge to "Think Outside the Bottle" and stop buying bottled water.  Because:

  • Water is a human right and not a commodity to be bought and sold for profit;
  • Bottled water corporations are changing the way people think about water and undermining people's confidence in public water systems;
  • Up to 40% of bottled water in the US and Canada is sourced from public tap water;
  • Some bottlers have run over communities' concerns and the environment when they extract water and build bottling plants to get local spring and ground water;
  • Bottled water travels many miles from the source, results in the burning of massive amounts of fossil fuels, and contributes to the billions of plastic bottles ending up in landfills;
  • Worldwide there is a need for investments in public water systems to ensure EQUAL access to water-- a key ingredient for prosperity and health for ALL people, and
  • Solutions to ensuring water as a fundamental human right require people acting together and standing up for public water systems.

Another reason that I choose reusable water bottles:

Caps/lids and plastic beverage bottles are numbers 4 and 5 of the most commonly found marine debris items in the Ocean Conservancy's International Coastal Clean-up.

Deciding to make a commitment to something is easy... standing strong with a commitment takes time, perseverance, and belief that it CAN be done. I believe in not buying bottled water. When we go on road trips I fill up nearly every water bottle we own (depending, of course, how long the trip is). If... by chance... our bottles run dry... it's easy (and free) to fill up at a water fountain or press the water tab on a soda fountain machine.

I contribute zero.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Story of Stuff

About a year ago, I watched this video. It did something for me... just as watching "An Inconvenient Truth" did.. it opened my eyes to something bigger. It all makes sense...

Want to know more? Visit

Bag It

Yesterday--with my 3 year old in tow--I braved the mall.  Knowing I had lots to get... I, of course, took one of my Envirosax bags in with me.  They're super convenient (roll up into a little ball) and are also very stylish:)  From GapKids to Victoria's Secret, every sales associate happily put my purchases in my reusable bag.  We had such a good time and everyone at the mall was in a great mood-- friendly, helpful, considerate and above all accommodating.

Then we went to Dillard's to get my husband some new undershirts (I've been happily referring to them as 'tall boys').  As the sales associate checked me out, I let her know that I didn't need a bag because I had my own.  And what she said didn't surprise me... I had been prepared for it ever since it happened to my Mom over a month ago... she said, "Oh, it's required that I put your purchase in one of our bags.  Security.  That way you don't get stopped."  I politely said, "I'm sorry... I don't take bags.  It's OK, if I get stopped... not a big deal.  Thank you, though." With that, she put my purchase in my bag and I never got stopped by security.

Moral of the story: I could have easily taken a bag, but I chose  choose not to.  My choices influence supply and demand.  Yesterday, I chose not to take six bags.

What would I have done if  I didn't have a reusable bag with me? (Highly unlikely) But back in the day when I was a constant reusable bag forgetter, I would have either carried my purchases in my arms or taken one bag and put all of my purchases in it instead of six individual store bags.

I live by the motto: If I take a bag, they make a bag.