Monday, April 18, 2016

Recycling Stuff To Make New Stuff: Minnesota Companies That Help the Environment

These Minnesota companies make products only from nature:

Sun Leaf Naturals in Waconia:   

Moss Envy in Minneapolis: 

This company makes lawn furniture from recycled milk jugs: By the Yard in Jordan:

Or maybe a chair out of cardboard from furniture?
Or a chair made of a plastic shopping cart??

A Landfill in Cloquet that does more than required to make sure the land is kept pollution-free: 

The University of Minnesota's newest dorm building uses rainwater in its sprinkler system:  

                                         You can have a rain barrel at home, too.

For more about recycling in Minnesota, here's the website of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency:    :

Monday, April 11, 2016

Earth Week 2016: How To Use Less Paper

Because trees are not uniform in size, it makes more sense to think in terms of the amount of wood rather than how many trees to make paper products:
1 roll of paper towels takes 1 cubic foot of wood
1 ton of paper uses 24 trees - a ton is 2000 pounds
1 ton of newsprint paper uses 12 trees
1 ton of magazine paper (coated and glossy) takes 15 trees

What if you recycle?
1 ton of 30% recycled paper saves 7.2 trees
1 ton of 50% recycled paper saves 12 trees
How can I save paper??
Here are some pretty easy solutions:
  • Use every bit of a piece of paper: Back, front, sides, margins.
  • Use mail that comes to you: envelopes, inserts, blank white spaces, for notes. Write a shopping list on the envelope, put coupons inside.
  • Don't pick up 'free' papers such as advertising or newspapers. Look them over and put them back.
  • Use a write on/wipe off board. If your notes are really important, take a picture before you wipe the board clean. 
  • If you get paper copies of bills, but pay them online or on your phone, keep the return envelops and use them. Swipe a black marker over any bar codes if you're going to send something in one of these.
  • Use the back, blank, sides of business letters or any other correspondence for children's drawing paper.
  • Re-use the back of paper to print coupons.
  • Use colorful paper for wrapping gifts. Same with boxes.

  • Use paper from your shredder for...well...shreds, when you give a gift.
  • Use egg cartons for small treasures such as jewelry or hair doodads.
  • Use paper for crafts: Origami, papier mache, collage

Last but not least: You can bring your unwanted books to Half Price Books and get cash!!  Their stores are all over, check them out:

Monday, April 4, 2016

Saving the Environment: But What Can I Do?

Simple ideas using stuff you probably have and/or throw out in your house....

  • Cardboard tubes from paper towels or toilet paper can be used to start seeds. Cut into shorter pieces, add dirt and seeds and add water. Once the ground is warm enough, plant the whole thing in the ground. The cardboard will eventually dissolve.
  • Recycle more: Rinse glass and metal containers well, and put them in the recycling bin instead of throwing them in the garbage.

  • Consider starting a compost pile: any 'food waste' such as peelings from fruits and vegetables, the cores of apples, egg shells, coffee grounds, etc. can be put in a pile or in a container. You can also compost the leaves you rake up in the fall, or dead bits of plants. Keep stirring and keep it moist, and aerated, and eventually it will make a rich 'compost' that works really well for growing new plants. Learn more about composting with a short video here:

  • Re-fill plastic water bottles, if you must buy them. You can wash and reuse them many times before you toss them in the recycling bin.
            Plastic bottle + two wooden spoons for perches = Birdfeeder

  • Use water bottles and coffee mugs that you wash and re-use. And do the math: that $4 cup of coffee you buy three times a week adds up to $624.00 a year!

  • Bring your own bags to bag up groceries. You can get fabric bags or just re-use the paper ones as many times as possible, then put them in the recycling bin.

  • You can wash and re-use plastic sandwich bags, just let them dry overnight. A good alternative is to use paper to wrap them instead: freezer or butcher paper is waxed on one side and works great.

  • Instead of throwing old clothes (or simply clothes you don't like or don't wear) in the garbage, donate them. And shop at stores that sell used clothing. One wash and they're just the same as things in your closet you've worn and washed.

  • Consider getting shoes repaired or zippers replaced rather than throw out the item. You may know someone who can do that for you. Ask around.
  • In the mood to be creative? Try making something using only recycled objects.

  • Use less gas in your car: Take friends along who also need to shop, group your trips so you're not backtracking, stay home sometimes when you don't really need to go anywhere.

*PS-- consider cutting up ragged old clothes into reusable wipes instead of using paper towels. Cut an old T-shirt, for example, into the same size as a paper towel, or half a paper towel. Keep them in a plastic or glass jar, use as needed, wash and then re-use. You'll never run out....or if they get super gross after several uses, then throw them out. You will probably have saved several paper towels in the process.

There are things you can do on a small scale that add up to saving the planet!