Tuesday, May 10, 2011

single-use plastic bag recycling

Ditching single-use plastic bags completely will be a challenge.

(But if you read my last post you may understand more and more why it’s so bothersome. How can I ignore those stats???)  

When nearly everything in a store is sold wrapped in thin-film plastic, it makes avoiding the nasty stuff really difficult. I mean, look at how many plastic bags our household of three accumulated over the last month or so?!?

What’s even more disturbing, however, is that these can’t be recycled (in Ventura at least) through curbside pickup.

EJ Harrison and Gold Coast Recycling used to accept them; but no longer.

So, if you don’t want to toss them in the trash, you must take them yourself to a local grocer; one that offers a plastic bag drop-off service.

What you may not know, and what’s important to note, is that many types of plastic bags can be held on to and recycled in this way; not just the typical plastic bags you carry your goods out in!

Plasticbagrecycling.org has created a nice list of items acceptable for recycling by most grocery stores. They include:

  • Bread bags
  • Cereal box liners
  • Ziploc® Bags
  • Case wrap (snacks, water bottles)
  • Newspaper bags
  • Dry cleaning bags
  • Produce bags
  • Toilet paper, napkin and paper towel wraps
  • Furniture and electronic wrap
  • Plastic retail bags
  • And any clean, dry plastic bags labeled #2 or #4

So, how ‘bout a little sharing time. What’s the afterlife like for plastic bags in your household?

Were you aware they aren’t recycled curbside? Do you save and drop them off at your neighborhood grocery store? Toss them in the garbage? Reuse them as trashcan liners? Avoid them altogether? Never thought about it much before?

Give it a try. Hold on to your plastic bags for a month. The rate at which they accumulate may surprise you!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

refuse to swim in a sea of single-use plastic bags


Creating another sustainable habit!

Reusable bags.

For Trader Joes runs.

For Target runs.

For everything and anything runs.

And here are some compelling reasons why:

The average family accumulates 60 plastic bags in only four trips to the grocery store.

It’s estimated that worldwide plastic bag consumption falls between 500 billion and 1 trillion bags annually.

That breaks down to almost 1 million every minute.


EVERY minute.

Only 0.5% to 3% of all those bags wind up recycled.

A single plastic bag can take up to 1,000 years to degrade and remain toxic even after they break down.

1,000 years!

Not sure about y’all, but I’m just not alright with draping this planet in plastic.


Reduce and eventually eliminate use of single-use plastic bags.

Gone. Goodbye. Out of my life.

There are a gazillion products in the world, however, that come wrapped in plastic bags; more on how I’ve been working to solve that problem by creating another sustainable habit in a future post.

For now, we’re talking those filmy plastic bags typically used for carrying out goods from the store to the car; from the car to the home. 

I have reusable totes that I carry around as often as I can, but it hasn’t yet become a habit to keep them easily accessible, at all times. When I forget them……….. And when feasible, I’ll shove purchases into my oversized purse (after paying of course!) to avoid walking out of an establishment with a paper or plastic bag full of guilt and my tail between my legs. But sometimes huge jugs of rice milk and boxes of Barbara’s (gotta love cereal for dinner) just don’t fit in the hobo-style over the shoulder purse.

But enough is enough. No more half a**ing the reusable bag use. I’ve got to make this a consistent habit.

I’m off to an alright start; I have two sturdy, reusable bags that serve their purpose each time I think far enough ahead to grab them before walking out the door.

Problem is, sometimes I forget them. And they’re a little stiff which makes keeping one in my purse pretty much impossible.

So here’s the action plan:

You see that bag above? The greenish-white one from Traders? The one that costs a whopping $0.99?

I’ve got two of them and they’re both going and staying in the trunk of my car.

Will be purchasing two more this week to add to my stash. Maybe in a different design to mix it up a bit. This will hopefully solve the problem of bringing bags into the house and forgetting to bring them back out which creates the ultimate problem; finding myself on an impulse shopping trip without bags and too much food to fit in my purse.

However. If I find myself without a car, without any of my four bags and in need of a carrying apparatus, I’ll be purchasing at least one of these bad boys:

The reuseit™ Bluesign Workhorse - it folds into its own mini-sack attached inside the bag. Once stuffed into its pouch, it measures only 4" x 3" x 2," easily fitting into the palm of your hand and small enough to stash in a purse or pocket. Weighing in at only 1.5 ounces, these lightweights perform like champs. Each bag opens into a heavy-duty, water- and mildew-resistant 19"x 16" x 6" sack and holds up to 25 lbs. With this Workhorse, you may never have to take a plastic shopping bag again.

That’s right! Never again.

Taking on the challenge with me? Live in the Ventura, California area and want to combine orders? Get a few Workhorses on the same ticket? Message me a.s.a.p.

Not ready for the challenge? Hold on to those plastic bags then.

Yes, all of them. Upcoming post will share some responsible, eco-friendly ways to be rid of them.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

earth day, every day

Photo credit: Ventura's Earth Day Eco Fest

How will you be celebrating Earth Day?!?!?

If you're in or around the Ventura County area, there are plenty of events to check out!

Here are just a few:

Friday, April 15 - Earth Day Resource Expo at Simi Valley Town Center
Saturday, April 16 - Ventura Earth Day Beach Cleanup
Saturday, April 16 - Ventura's Earth Day Eco Fest
Saturday & Sunday, April 16 & 17 - Santa Barbara Earth Day Festival
Sunday, April 17 - Arroyo Verde Park Cleanup
Sunday, April 17 - 2nd Annual Earth Day Event at Camarillo Community Center
Sunday, April 17 - Earth Day Whale Fest at Leo Carrillo State Park
Friday, April 22 - Earth Day Celebration in Malibu
Saturday, April 23 - Ventura's Green Business Expo at the WAV
Saturday, April 23 - Earth Play Ojai
Saturday & Sunday, April 22 & 23 - 12th Annual Topanga Earth Day Celebration
Saturday, April 30 - 14th Annual Arbor/Earth Day Event in Thousand Oaks

Have I missed any of your favorites?

Monday, April 11, 2011

let the composting begin...

Thanks to Master Gardener Lugo for helping me harvest cow poop.

Headed to Arroyo Verde Park over the weekend and hiked up the trails to grab some precious nitrogen rich material. Thankfully the sun had been shining a few days after the rains. A good thing because I was not prepared to handle any sludgy messes. These cow pies were perfectly baked on the outside, fresh on the inside.

Some revealed tiny creatures hidden underneath.

A sure sign of what's to come... Makes my skin crawl.

Ventured off to Lugo's next to tour his beautiful, extensive backyard garden.

Wow. He knows how to grow stuff; and he grows it well.

He was kind enough to share some green thumb secrets along with a massive bag of straw to help aerate my new compost pile.

Then it was off to my own backyard. Time to start filling the compost bin.

Here's what we started with:

Straw from Lugo.

Cow poop from Arroyo.

Shredded paper from Mom's super secret documents.

Grass from CSUCI. Thanks to the guys at Iron Wood Hall who mow campus lawns for offering up a whole bunch of green waste.

Checked on things yesterday and it looks alright.

Collecting food scraps under the kitchen sink to add to the pile in a few days, at which point I'll probably add some additional dry ingredients and give it all a good turn.

Don't think a first batch will be ready in time for tomato planting, but we'll see.

We will see.

New to composting as well? Not sure what to add? Here's another site with a list of ready-to-use carbon and nitrogen rich material. Thanks Franky.

Questions? Have a resource you'd like to share? Leave a comment!

Else I'll send a few potato bugs to find you........

Sunday, April 3, 2011

composting; more an experiment, less a science

Photo Credit: Sharon Smith



Bought a compost bin. Only minor assembly required.

And attended a workshop for a little push / support.

The number ONE thing I learned and wish to share with you if you’re even slightly considering trying to compost:

It’s not a science. It’s an experiment.

Tend to it every day or leave it alone for a six month period and you’ll likely come out with about the same results.


Keeping a compost alive will be far easier with my green thumb than keeping a garden alive. My mom’s the expert at that one. 

So here’s the quick rundown; starter facts I walked away with:

1.     Get (or make) a bin. Purchase one through your city or just search for one online. They’ve got basic containers where you use your human strength to turn the soil with a good ‘ole fashioned pitchfork, drum-like bins that turn with a handle and some that aerate themselves, doing all the work for you.
2.    Set up your bin in a spot with half shade and half sunlight.
3.     Fill it up in layers. One third of the contents should be carbon material (brown leaves or newspaper) and two thirds should be nitrogen-rich (green grass clippings, kitchen scraps, coffee grounds AND filters, manure from non meat-eating animals). There are items you absolutely should NOT put in compost such as human/cat/dog feces, wet grass, meat, fats, bones, fish, dairy, cooking oil, anything with salad dressing…  
4.     Moisture and air are important! Keep your compost moist by watering it one to two times a week (not too much though as over watering kills the compost so you’ll have to start over)  as well as aerated by turning it frequently. Didn’t I tell ya? Not a science…
5.     If it's steaming, it's working! Just a good sign that bacteria and organisms are doing their job and breaking stuff down.
6.     That’s it! Can take as little as two months to see some finished product!
7.     Move your compost bin after each cycle. The bottom is open to the earth, constantly feeding it nutrients. So share the goods with as much of your garden as possible by moving it around.
8.     The part I’m not looking forward to most: bugs. I was assured that they will come. And potentially some other critters. Ants MUST be kept away; too many and you’ve got to throw it out. Worms that wiggle their way in are fine, as are those annoying gnats that are bound to frequent your compost spot. To lesson all these guys’ presence, however, chop up food scraps and cover with compost as opposed to just dropping them in. Then put a lid on it.      

There are millions of sites on the ‘how-to’ of composting but here are two that I like:

Recycle now – Making Compost (I’m sure I’ll be visiting this one frequently)

And there you have it.

Now it’s off to compost. I’ll post progress every now and then, in between highlights of the other sustainable habits we’ve been creating around here. If you already compost or are looking to start, would love to hear about your tips and tricks or progress…

Alright. Time to get dirty.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

composting – on our way to zero waste

Photo Credit: Cleanairgardening


The recycling of organic material (food scraps, leaves, and grass) to be turned into a valuable soil amendment, used to enhance gardens, potted plants, and lawns.

Stats show that around 25% of U.S. municipal solid waste can be composted and used beneficially, rather than rotting in a landfill.

Putting it in perspective:

A typical household throws away an estimated 474 pounds of food waste each year.

That’s about 1.5 pounds per person, per day in the States.

These food scraps could theoretically be piled on a football field more than five miles high.

Five MILES high.

In a household of three women, we generate one 13 gallon bag of trash per week, down from nearly twice, sometimes three times that just a few months ago. I'd guess that about 10 gallons are food scraps.

Zero waste.

That’s the goal.

The next sustainable habit to start come Saturday:


If you’re in the Ventura area and you too want to enter into the complex world of composting or just learn a bit more about it, hit up the

FREE Composting Workshop
Saturday, April 2, 2011
Green Thumb Nursery in Ventura
1899 South Victoria Avenue
From 10 to 11am

Refreshments and prizes will be provided.

But everyone will have an opportunity to leave a winner because Green Thumb will be selling compost bins for over 50 percent off.


And those things full price can cost a pretty penny.

Here’s your coupon. Print it out and bring it in. It's pretty much good for forever.

What a steal.

Hope to see you there.

Monday, March 28, 2011

so right so smart; the power of one and the power of many influencing corporate environmental sustainability

This evening…

I left my comfort zone to attend a monthly meeting of the U.S. Green Building Council’s California Central Coast Chapter

and found myself in a room full of industry experts, some who have been in the business of sustainability since long before I could likely pronounce the word,

unknowing of the rather unique opportunity that awaited me.

An amazing documentary available to few (unfortunately) about Ray Anderson of Interface Inc., a man who transformed his business, his industry, his life to be more sustainable and as a result, more profitable in exponential ways,

enriching, motivating, changing the world around him.

The film is a true testament that the transformative acts of


plus one

plus one

plus one

can literally change the way the world works.

A reminder that corporations have the resources and the capability to lesson our cumulative impact on the environment.

And that, through the power of OUR almighty dollar, through our purchasing decisions, we determine the directions in which big business head:

toward conservation



The message is less, not more.

Demanding responsible products and practices from companies we choose to support.

Raise your brow, raise your voice.

Educate yourself and become more aware.

The waste we produce doesn’t simply disappear. Just because it’s out of sight and out of mind doesn’t mean it’s out of landfills and ground water and oceans and air.

For the future of our planet and our generations, we must be mindful of what lives our products and packaging will have when we’re through with them. If the purchase is necessary but can’t be recycled or reused, get creative by finding another brand or an alternative solution. No alternatives? Take a moment to contact the company CEO, demanding eco-conscious changes. Holler enough and they’ll listen because they need you and your dollars to survive. Ray listened. And took action, recruiting experts in the field and those in his circle of influence to help him create a powerful movement, one that continues to be recognized and emulated by businesses in every industry.   

In the end, we must never forget that this is a shared journey within a shared world that we will one day be leaving to Tomorrow’s Child.