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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

No Plastic Shopping Bags?! Holy Knitting Loom, Craft Girl!

Guest Blog post by Claudine Niski -
ReCreate, Education Specialist
Girl Scout Leader, Mother of Triplets, Hobby Hopper, Singer of Silly Songs
a.k.a Sparklina

As a confirmed Hobby Hopper and someone addicted to joining groups, I try to make the most of my limited free time by combining activities.  For example, I have a job in which I get to try new crafts, using only re-use items, and then share them with groups of people.  What does this have to do with the Plastic Shopping Bag ban?  Well, that is a great post-Earth Day blog topic.

So, the Plastic Shopping Bag ban is slowly working its way through the counties of California and I couldn’t be more excited! However, I know that the idea of having to remember to bring your own bags to the store is making a lot of people panic.

Last weekend I had the perfect opportunity to combine my favorite activities. My mothers of multiples club, Parents of Multiples – Sacramento, was hosting our Northern California Association of Mothers of Twins Clubs spring convention. The Theme was “MommyCon: Embracing your Inner Superhero”. The convention committee was looking for interesting workshops to offer for attendees, specifically something crafty.  Being elbow deep in helping to create an eight foot tall dinosaur out of plastic for ReCreate’s Earth Day plastic education booth, one-time use plastic was constantly on my mind. I decided to offer an ‘Environmental Superhero’ workshop to teach ways to use what you already have around your house as replacements for those plastic shopping bags that are going away soon. 

I brought in my sewing machine and provided a knitting loom for each participant.  They brought in an old t-shirt and a handful of plastic shopping bags they had in their pantry. It took about five minutes per shirt to transform them from a t-shirt to a useful, box-bottom, tote bag. We had a really fun hour during which they learned how to make Plarn (plastic yarn) to use on the knitting loom to make a strong reusable plastic bag out of the flimsy one-time use shopping bags. While we crafted, I lead a discussion about tips for making our transition to bringing our own bags to the store easier.
Our Best Tips:
1)      You don’t need to buy all new bags, you probably have a bunch you can gather at your house.  Think of all those totes you’ve collected at fairs, conventions, trade shows, home shows…they don’t have to be fancy or matchy-matchy.
2)      Use one bag to hold all your others, then keep the bag in your car. If you have two cars, keep a bag of bags in each.
3)      Create the habit of packing the bags back in your car as the last thing you do when putting away groceries.
4)      Start creating this habit now, before you need to.
5)      As you are learning this new way of shopping, hold yourself accountable.  If you leave your bags in your car, just load your groceries back in your cart at the check stand and you can put them into your bags when you get to the parking lot (once you do that one or two times, you’ll remember).
6)      Don’t forget the produce bags!  There are a number of companies selling light, mesh bags to replace those produce bags, splurge on some.
7)      Carry a few small nylon bags in your purse or glove box for those trips to the mall or department store.  Reusable bags aren’t just for grocery shopping!

I had 15 participants attend my workshop and I was told it had the highest attendance at convention.  Yea!  Crafters, unite to change the world!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Check out ReCreate

We were honored to be included in this article. 
Eight Inspired Recycling Projects that was on the Rainforest alliance Frog Blog and the Guardian. 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Make Less Trash This School Year

New pens, new pencils, new folders, new backpacks, new clothes... the list goes on and on.  While the beginning of school is a time when people tend to buy a bunch of new things, it is also a great time to outfit your kids and yourself for lunch time.  It makes sense to buy good quality items to use over and over all year.   Items like a good reusable water bottle (instead of a case of water), a thermos, and sturdy food containers (instead of zip-lock bags and individually wrapped food items)  can really make a difference in the amount of trash you make on a day to day basis.

According to the wastefreelunches.org   the average kid produces 67 pounds of waste from their lunch each year.   At a midsized elementary school - that translates to 15-20 tons of garbage each year.  

How to Pack a Zero Waste Lunch
  • Make a sandwich or pack leftovers into a reusable container
  • Send a reusable fork / spoon
  • Include a cloth napkin
  • Pack a reusable water bottle
  • Transport it all in a reusable lunch box
Zero waste lunch practices have saved us money at our house, because instead of individually wrapped snacks or items like "Uncrustables", we pack our meals from bulk purchases.  We recouped the price of our containers after the first few months.   I do make sure everything is labeled in case a container gets left on the playground, and my kids have one set of reusable containers - which really cuts down on them misplacing things.

I hope you take the challenge and strive to pack zero-waste lunches this year!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy Fourth of July

Before you toss those bottle caps....

Credit:  http://midwestern-darling.tumblr.com/image/35541563855

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Baltimores Water Wheel - Cleaning the Waterways

I was inspired to see a story of a waterway becoming cleaner, so I would like to share this story with you.  In Baltimore, there is a Waterfront Partnership Initiative that is tasked with a "cleaner, greener future for our neighborhoods, streams and harbor"  called Healthy Harbor

They have developed a water current and solar powered Water Wheel to clean up their harbor:

Water Wheel

Graphic credit:  Healthy Harbor

Harnessing the power of nature to help keep the Baltimore Harbor clean

The Inner Harbor Water Wheel uses a combination of old and new technology to harness the power of water and sunlight to pick up litter and debris flowing down the Jones Falls River. 
The current of the river provides power to turn the water wheel, which lifts trash and debris from the water and deposits it in a dumpster barge.  A solar panel array provides additional power to keep the machine running even when there is not enough water current.  When the dumpster is full, it is towed away by boat and a new dumpster is put in place.

Where does the trash come from?

Trash comes from people who throw litter on the ground instead of putting it in a trashcan or recycling bin.  When it rains, water carries litter off streets and into storm drains, which flow unfiltered into neighborhood streams.  These streams carry litter into the Baltimore Harbor and the Chesapeake Bay.
The Jones Falls begins as a stream in Baltimore County and is fed by other streams until it becomes a small river in Baltimore City.  Although much of the river is hidden beneath the Jones Falls Expressway, the Jones Falls Watershed is much larger than the river.  A watershed is an area of land that all drains to the same body of water.

They have a lofty goal of wanting to put their Water Wheel out of business - by having people be more responsible about their waste, and to make their waterway fishable and swimmable by  2020.

You can learn more about the water wheel in this NPR report.