Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Adding up the toothpicks...and other ways to save the environment

Lucas' pre-k class is studying "ecology and the environment". We are supposed to use only reusable items to pack their lunches. I like that his school is introducing good environmental practices at an early age.

Last week I was chastised by Lucas for putting a toothpick in his lunch box for him to eat the cut-up melon. "Mommy, toothpicks are not reusable so I brought it home for you." (Just what I need, a gnawed on wooden toothpick).

I know that wooden toothpicks are not reusable, but I guess I didn't think about it and I should. It's the little things that count and all those toothpicks add up. I tried to find something online about how many toothpicks equal a tree, but I couldn't find any info on that.

I did see that China plans to impose a 5% tax on disposable wooden chopsticks. And South Korean companies (go Korea!) have invented an edible toothpick made from sweet potatoes. And I also found a billion and one craft ideas using toothpicks.

I also searched Sur La Table and found some fun reusable picks. I think I'll pick up these today, I think Lucas will like them.I was appalled to learn from a friend in Orange County that her city doesn't pick up recycling, so she doesn't recycle. I guess we're lucky in the Bay Area that the city picks up recycling and that I can put my food compost into my green waste.

I also read on the Rookie Moms blog, thirteen tips to be greener. Aside from the upcoming addition of my reusable picks, here are my own 13 things I do to lessen my impact on the environment:

1) Use recycled scrap paper instead of printing something out - We haven't had a printer at home for years. If we map quest directions, I write the directions out on the back of a used envelope or some other piece of paper in the recycling. Printers are superbad for your home environment too.

2) Don't buy a lot of stuff - Don't get sucked into the marketing for the latest gizmo that has XX times more memory than your current gizmo, which already has more memory than you'll need.

3) Don't use plastic bags for your produce if you can help it - Just have those apples rolling around loose in your reusable shopping bag. They're bound to get out anyway.

4) Host a bookswap - I'm going to host one later this month and I'll invite all 3 of you!

5) Use recyclable containers for bulk food items - I admit, I've only done this a couple of times. But it's a great idea. Instead of using plastic bags all the time when purchasing from the dry bulk items (raisins, rice, nuts), bring one of your containers from home and use that. They're easier to store stuff in your cupboard than a bunch of plastic bags.

6) Walk, bike, run, skip - It's better for the environment and better for you.

7) Use resuable utensils - Your office probably has reusable utensils for you to eat your lunch. And if they don't, buy some or bring them from home. They probably don't have reusable toothpicks, so improvise and use a fork!

8) Minimize your incoming catalogs. Call the 800 number on the catalog and take yourself off the lists. Shop online instead!

9) Shop with your own bag - When you shop for clothes, bring a cute tote bag along. Just like grocery shopping, you can put it in your own bag instead.

10) Unplug - That Cuisinart on your counter that you use once a year, unplug it when you're not using it. I read somewhere that having a computer plugged in overnight sucks up more energy than all the other things in your house combined.

11) Reusable water bottles - Bring your own reusable water bottle to work. Have a smaller one for your purse that you can use when you're out and about.

12) Grow your own food and share - My friend lives in a rental, but has planted a ton of food in her own little yard - lettuces, herbs and an apple tree. She comes to our house and picks as many lemons as she wants and brings over her apples for us. We had zucchinis and strawberries. We always have lemons, basil and rosemary.

13) Bundle up - It's getting cold but don't crank the heat. Bundle up with layers. We keep our heat in the low 60s.

That's it for now. Save a toothpick, save the world!


RookieMom Whitney said...

I just cannot sacrifice the heat with my kids, but I think the toothpick idea is a great one. We use some every night and only reuse about half the time.

When you invite me to a book swap, can you enable donation/recycling of books so that we don't have to take undesirable books home? For Example "Building the Information Highway" from 1994.

Heather said...

I'm coming to your book swap and I'm bringing a cute reusable tote. Anyone want to go shopping for reusable totes?