Tag Archives: recycled

A Move Made Green

We have moved, yet again. This time (luckily) we only moved across town, instead of across the country. While I have no tips for moving across country except to not ship anything breakable, ever, I do have some easy ways to stay green if you’re moving somewhere close by.

First, you do not need bubble wrap, newspaper, or any packaging materials that will just end up in the trash. Use your clothes instead! I wrapped every glass, dish, picture frame, and even Nana’s china platters in clothes, towels, and sheets that were already coming along. It saves you a ton of excess material waste and cost, is easier, and as long as you are not shipping the boxes (nothing survives shipping no matter how you wrap it), it stays safe. 100% of the items we moved across town wrapped in clothes made it perfectly intact. To wrap a glass, I like to use a T-shirt. I stick one sleeve inside the glass, then roll the it up. I put jeans or pants in the bottom and top of the box with layers of these T-shirted dishes inside.






We also buy bankers boxes that can be reused over and over again instead of shipping boxes. While the previous bankers boxes didn’t make it across country (you can’t ship them because of the handles/top), we used our last ones for 3 moves and storage and know we’ll get a lot of use out of these new ones too. They are 65% post-consumer recycled (the good kind remember!) at Staples. We also labeled them generically as ‘bathroom, bedroom, living room, storage, or kitchen’ as there is almost no chance next time you move you’ll put the same exact things in each box, but you can easily put items from the same room in each box. If you’re moving across town or driving to another state you don’t really need to know what exactly is in each box, only where you should put it. The bankers boxes also fold and unfold for easy storage. We also used reusable bags, boxes, and suitcases that we had around the house and are proud to say we only used 1 garbage bag (I’ve seen some people move with ALL garbage bags) that we then promptly put into our garbage bin to reuse!

Moving is also a perfect time for purging and donating what you don’t need to your local reuse center – in our case GoodWill. Those pants you’re saving to wear for that one special occasion that hasn’t happened in 3 years, the shoes that don’t go with anything, and even that frying pan that you bought at Target for $10 but don’t use because you were given really nice pans as a gift – they all will be put to great use by others!

Finally day-of details. Instead of borrowing friends cars and moving things piecemeal, we rented a UHaul for $20 and moved everything in one shot (less gas = less pollution = less GHGs). We also hired day laborers from SF Day Labor, a worker-led nonprofit that allows those with barriers to employment (language, education, prior life choices, etc) a place to come together and organize. The nonprofit pays the workers 100% of the dollars we gave them (they keep themselves afloat through grants and private funding), and the workers were fantastic (and cheap!). Two movers for 3 hours each was only $100 total and it felt great to be able to employ a fellow San Franciscan who really wanted to work. Check into these type of organizations (another larger one in SF is Delancy Street which employees only ex-convicts), as you get really reliable people trying to turn their lives around. What better way to support the sustainability of your city or town?

Paper Products Revolution

The magic of Sundays; a cup of homeheated chai and almond milk, a wide open blue sky, sun blasting through our windows, and our upstairs neighbor serenading me with ‘We are Young’. An inspiring morning indeed.

On to personal paper products (PPPs include tissues, TP, napkins & paper towels)! Paper products are pretty serious bad news for our forests and environment. Numbers: Each American uses 50 pounds of PPPs each year, and 1 tree produces 100 pounds of paper (EPA). So we’re each using ½ a tree/year (x 312 million = 156 million trees in the US alone!) Globally we use 270,000 trees a DAY to flush, blow, or wipe up, wasting water, reducing animal habitat, emitting CO2, and of course using bleaching chemicals (WWF). The majority of big labels use virgin pulp, but there are two simple things YOU can do.

1- Switch to 100% recycled and high post-consumer recycled brands. Post-consumer is important because this paper was once an office report, newspaper, or magazine and while it’spassed it’s ability to be turned back into that, it can find new life as your tissue! There is no reason to not use recycled – it’s just as comfortable and absorbent (we use 365, Seventh Gen, & Green Forest and I love them all) and it really helps: a ton of paper made from recycled fibers instead of virgin fibers conserves 7,000 gallons of water, 17-31 trees, 4,000 kWh of electricity, and 60 pounds of air pollutants (US DOE). What’s that, you want white toilet paper? Weird because have you seen a white tree (ok white birch maybe, but they don’t make tp!). Well hopefully this will help: You are rubbing your private areas with bleach. Gross.

Choose brown over white!

Good* Tissues: (*Good = 100% recycled + 80% or above post-consumer): 365 Whole Foods, Green Forest, Natural Value, Seventh Generation, and Marcal has a new line. AVOID: Kleenex & Puffs.

Good TP: 365, CVS Earth Essentials, Fiesta, Green Forest, Natural Value, Seventh Gen, Trader Joe’s, Earth Friendly and April Soft. Avoid Charmin, Cottonelle, Angel Soft, Quilted Northern, Target Brand!

Good Napkins/PTs: 365, CVS Earth, Earth Friendly, Fiesta, Green Forest, Natural Value, 7th Gen, Small Steps, and TJ’s. Avoid Bounty, Scott, Target and Viva. Read the label! Carefully! You are looking for recycled fiber content and post-consumer levels.

My favorite People Towel

2- Try Resuable Options. I don’t think I’ll ever really do any sort of reusable tp, and handkerchiefs kind of gross me out on the tissue side (but I promise to try!), BUT the easiest switch has been in napkins/paper towels. So far I’ve checked out People Towels as a reusable paper towel/napkin option for personal use. They are designed to bring with you to dry your hands after going to the bathroom (mainly in a public place/work), but I also use them after washing dishes. They are SUPER absorbent and soft (it’s a cross between a washcloth and a sports towel) and I stashed a few around the house/at work. They are also adorable so that’s a bonus. They are machine washable and because they’re made from organic cotton and soy-based ink they are biodegradable at the end of the lifecycle- yes!

I also tried UnPaper Towels which are billed more for use as a napkin or to replace pts in cleaning. I definitely use the most paper towels when cleaning. The good news- they are awesome as a napkin. They are strong but still soft (it feels different from almost every time of towel I can think of! Thin, cross stitched). They also get better as you wet them. In a water spill test they first moved the water around and picked up maybe 30% of it. Bummer. However, once it was wet it really kept sucking the water in. I used it to wipe up the rest of the water and some tea and it got it all! I then used it to wipe the counter with a cleaning spray and that also worked great. I rinsed it out and then tackled the bathroom and again it performed really well. The only thing I will say is that in our uberwhite bathroom, I need all of the hair/dust to vanish and it’s hard to make that happen with these. They clean and remove about 90% of grossness but I still had to use 1 paper towel to finish things off. This is definitely MUCH better than the entire garbage pail I am used to. When they are soiled just throw them in the laundry.

Medium results on the initial water test, definitely captures and holds A LOT of dirt, also surprisingly useful as bike grease cleaner, keep a stack in the place where your paper towel rack used to be!

Hopefully these two easy steps will help you reduce your impact and go green!

Update- Thanks Em for the great text, here’s where to buy these if you don’t live near a Whole Foods, Trader Joes, or SF hippie store: Wal-Mart now sells Seventh Generation (my personal favorite re: comfort), CVS and Walgreens both sell one version of recycled paper towels and toilet paper (not tissues yet), and if you have a computer you can find them at Amazon 🙂

Side note, what haters will say about the need to switch to recycled or reusable PPPs: They’re compostable. Yep, if you’re lucky enough to live in San Francisco, you have municipal composting and paper towels/tissues/TP can be composted. While this helps reduce the impact, a biodegradable reusable option cuts down on deforestation, water use, packaging, transport, and the energy costs of municipal composting. And we discussed recycled benefits above. It’s renewable. Yep, wood is a renewable resource, however we are cutting down acres at alarming rates and new trees can’t grow back fast enough. If you look at the southern US, longleaf pine forest covered 60-90 million acres just 100 years ago and now only 5% of that remains (EPA). Canada is also suffering as 500,000 acres of boreal forest are lost each year!

This V-Day go Green not red.

Thanks Bret for the idea for this post!

Oh Valentine’s Day. That Hallmark holiday intellectuals love to despise, environmentalists love to boycott, the non-attached dismiss as stupid, boyfriends fear due to chocolate selection stress, and the day some of us take to show our loved ones a little extra care. In our apartment,we usually do a small thing on the 14th, either breakfast in bed, indian dinner for two, but steer away from excessive consumerism. Last year US consumers spent $15.7 billion on V-day (National Retail Federation #), and again for perspective: providing modern family planning methods to each person on the globe with currently unmet need would cost $6.7 billion (Joel Cohen, Columbia). So that’s the part of V-day that I don’t like to get wrapped up in. However it’s easy to do something special for your sweetie that’s green, not red.

Cards. 1 billion cards are sent each year on V-day (Greeting Card Association) and end up in landfills or are recycled using loads of energy. You all know about fun e-cards (paperless post has the best!) and how sustainable they are, but if you’re craving something physical, pick up a card that’s made of recycled materials.

  • Papyrus has a bunch and even stores like CVS/Duane Reade – just read the back and look for ‘100% recycled’.
  • I also LOVE the Grow-A-Note plantable cards. They are made with recycled paper and flower seeds and the card can be planted and will turn into flowers one day!

Chocolate. I’ve watched The Dark Side of Chocolate one too many times to buy anything that isn’t fairly traded and sustainable. That link will give you the free 30 minute documentary (it’s incredible!) and show you the child slave labor, kidnappings, and environmental destruction that goes to produce our favorite sweets. This V-day opt for:

  • Fair Trade & Organic- Equal Exchange Bars. They definitely carry them at Whole Foods and other healthy food stores.
  • Dagoba – same places to buy, focuses on Full Circle Sustainability- Quality, Ecology, Equity, & Community.
  • Green & Blacks is a good fair trade one that even regular grocery stores are starting to carry
  • There are tons of local brands too just make sure you’re buying FAIR TRADE & read the label to see if they talk about environmental commitments.
Flowers. The roses you see at Stop N Shop or the flower shop are usually treated with heavy chemicals/pesticides. The flower industry is also notorious for poor working conditions (like most agro industries these days) and I’m not into beautiful flowers if I know another person worked 18 hours 7 days a week picking them. Instead perhaps:
  •  My bf shares my eco love and often takes pictures of beautiful flowers and then texts them to me – a modern Bring Your Friend to the Flower.. It honestly makes me light up each time.
  • Instead of flowers buy a plant (from somewhere that sells organic)! Plants are great for apartment aura anyways and this will be more fun then 3-day flowers that cost you $20 and then die.
  • Shop around. Ask your florist if their plants/flowers are ethically traded and what their position is on pesticides. Take the time and do your research!

Instead of a Present. Get creative, that’s what we’re really after.

  • When was the last time you watched the sunset? Take your partner, a blanket, and a bottle of wine and just be with each other. The sun’s natural beauty is better than any sparkly thing I’ve seen.
  • Cook dinner for your partner and make a romantic playlist. Often just feeling special is what we girls want on V-day and the thought of getting to relax and enjoy a partner-cooked meal with specially selected songs would definitely make me swoon.
  • How about a bottle of eco-friendly/organic massage oil or lotion (Whole Foods, CVS is starting to carry Burts Bees products). Read the label to make sure it’s paraben-free, DEA-free and vegan and then rub away your partner’s stress.
  • If you live anywhere warm, what about planning a romantic bike ride for 2? You know those endorphins get all excited with exercise!
  • If you’re looking for something a little spicier this year, check out Earth Erotics selection (who’s slogan, Doing It Green is awesome). They choose silicone based toys instead of the generic ones that usually contain high levels of phthalates (a controversial PVC softener that has been linked to cancers).
  • Make something! What do you have lying around the house? Can you turn it into a picture frame, a card, a present?
  • Donate to your partner’s favorite charity? Nothing says love like supporting their passions!

And if you MUST buy something:

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