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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Healthy snacks that are good for the Earth, too!

I just watched a link featuring "Healthy summer snacks for kids" can view it here:

It reminds me of the irony that I'm faced with so many times when trying to find eco-friendly solutions.  It's so great that they featured and their reusable lunchboxes.  The irony is that the hosts of the show are gushing over the "cute packaging" of the space-age, NASA-designed applesauce pack and ProBug pack which go in the exact opposite direction of what ecolunchboxes is really all about.

I wonder why they didn't mention that you could fill one of the reusable containers with applesauce or yogurt and be just as healthy and also good to the planet.  Or better yet, you could pack an apple with no packaging at all!  I'm a mom of 3 boys with very big appetites.  I completely understand the need for convenience.  I know we need to have quick snacks for our kids that are healthy and nutritious.  But we need to stop buying into all the 'cuteness' and 'convenience' that is being sold and realize that the best snacks we can send our kids are really the simplest ones:  grapes, apples, oranges, bananas, carrots, etc.

I mentioned the words "waste-free lunch" at a recent PTO meeting and was met with gasps and replies that it would never happen at our school.  Why not?  Is it really that hard?  Or have we just been brainwashed to believe it is?

As the TerraCycle coordinator for my school, I see first-hand how much is thrown away each day from the students' lunches.  When I collect juice pouches to be upcycled by TerraCycle, half of them are at least 30% full (and a juice pouch isn't very big to begin with!) and some are completely sealed with the straw still in the wrapper when they are thrown in the TerraCycle bin.  I think not only about how many resources could be saved, but also how much money could be saved by hard-working parents if they would only realize how much better it would be to send a reusable bottle for their child's drink.  Whatever is left can be saved for later or they can adjust the amount they send based on what is being brought home each day.

The same is true for chip bags.  I collect several each week that haven't even been opened and many more that are half full when they are "thrown away".

Is that convenient?  Is the convenience worth the waste that comes with it?

Lugging cases of juice pouches and bottled water home from the big-box store doesn't seem any easier to me than pre-filling a few reusable bottles each week.

What if the school glamourized fruits and vegetables the way they do chips, cookies and ice cream?  What if instead of moldy bananas and half-bruised apples the kids could choose from fresh fruits and veggies?  That's the world I hope for.  Our kids need us to wake up from the marketing blitz and help them make better choices....for their health and the health of the planet!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The North Atlantic Garbage Patch, Among Others

Did you know that there are huge garbage dumps swirling around in our oceans?

I was surprised to learn that there are still lots of people who don't know about this issue when my son was asked to repeat his recycling presentation to classes throughout his school.  Many of the teachers came and were shocked to hear about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and learn about the 5 Gyres and all of the trash, mostly plastic, that's floating around in them.  The really heartening part was that once they did learn about it, everyone asked so many questions and wanted to figure out ways that they could help be a part of the solution.

That's exactly what we need!  Lots of people spreading the word and educating others about these issues that affect us all and then everyone taking the learning to heart and figuring out what we can do to solve the problems.

If you want more information about the Garbage Patches and the Gyres, you can visit .
Their 'What is the Solution' tab has great information for spreading the word and leading by example.

When we took my husband to dinner on Father's Day, it took me an extra minute to grab a little tote bag and 3 reusable containers with lids to bring along with us.  At the restaurant, I heard so many positive comments around me as I loaded our leftovers into my containers from home and packed them into my tote.

People want and need to be inspired.  I'm thankful to all of you who inspire me and lead the way, lighting a path for the rest of us to follow!  Keep up the great work!!! :)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Recycling Really Matters (and Ways to Drink in Public)

My 10 year old son just completed an independent study project on recycling.  As part of his work, he started a website that I wanted to share with you:

He will keep updating it and adding links, so please check back.

Our whole family learned a lot from the information he shared.  One thing that really strikes me is how much better we can do at recycling things that are "closed-loop" like aluminum cans....wouldn't it be great if we recycled them all?!?  And how much paper ends up in our landfills....Much of which we could probably do without or reuse or definitely recycle.  And then there's plastic....The more information I read about plastic, the more convinced I am that we should find better alternatives where we can.  There are so many places we CAN find better alternatives.  Everyone had to bring a snack for their presentations at school.  I sent orange slices (and composted the peels) which were devoured almost instantly.  We didn't really need a drink since the oranges were juicy.  Which leads to my next thought....

For every activity we have at school, there is always a list of things to bring and 'water bottles' is always on the list.  Has anyone found an alternative to this?  I know the BYO bottle solution will have a tough time gaining popularity at our school based on feedback I've gotten from members of our PTO.  What ever happened to water fountains?  We have one but it seems nobody EVER uses it....Have they all become so unpopular because of the press they got about having more germs than a toilet?  I know I avoid them because of having that thought in my head.  But it seems like we need to bring them back!  What other ways can kids share a drink with the class without adding more trash to the environment?  Bring on the ideas!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Celebrate World Environment Day on Saturday, June 5th!

Every June 5th since the year I was born has been World Environment Day.  This is the first year I've ever heard of it, even though it was hosted by the U.S. in 2005, so I thought I'd share with you!  This year it is hosted by Rwanda and they are focusing on biodiversity.  Here's some info. from their booklet:
"Did you know that you are one in a million? Or more precisely,
one of millions on this wondrous planet - anywhere in fact
between an estimated 5 to 100 million species. If you think
about it that means there is a lot we still don’t know about
our planet, or whom we share it with. We do know though
that humans are among only a handful of species whose
populations are growing, while many animals and plants are
becoming rarer and fewer.
A total of 17,291 species are known to be threatened with
extinction, but this is just the tip of the iceberg; many species
disappear before they are even discovered. Human activities
are mostly to blame – what we use, where we live and what
we consume, all have an impact on the Earth’s resources.
As a result, we are risking the loss of the very foundation of
survival. The variety of life – known as ‘biodiversity’ – gives us
our food, clothes, fuel, medicine and much more. When one
species is taken out of the intricate web of life, it can trigger a
domino effect with unforeseen consequences.
At the same time, humans do have the power to stem the
tide of extinction. Through conservation action, we have
brought species back from the brink and restored vital natural
habitats. But, we need to do much more and faster.
The United Nations has declared 2010 the International Year
of Biodiversity to stress the importance of biodiversity for
human well-being and encourage a redoubling of our efforts
to reduce biodiversity loss.
The theme of World Environment Day (WED) 2010, “Many
Species. One Planet. One Future.” echoes this urgent call to
conserve the diversity of life on our planet."

For more information, check out: