Monday, May 2, 2011

The Three Rs

Friday, April 22, 2011

My first job out of college was tramping around landfills in the state of New Jersey to see if the ground water was contaminated. It was an eye-opening experience, to say the least -- to see not only the mountains and mountains of garbage but also the perfectly good stuff that people threw out, which then became garbage. I think that's when my passion for the environment became a full-fledged commitment. So in keeping with the spirit of Earth Day and the 3Rs of the environment (reduce, reuse, recycle), I'm reusing some pictures in this post.

dress -- Mossimo (Target)
cardigan -- Old Navy 
boots -- Nomad (thrifted) 
necklace -- JCPenney

I first posted these pictures on January 11 of this year. (Click here to see these pictures in their original post. I didn't include this fun snappy narrative along with it, so you're really better off just staying here.)

Back in January, I thought I was being so brave by wearing this outfit to work -- those big honking boots and then the statement necklace were really different from my usual style. What were people going to say? And what were they going to think? (and why do I get so unglued about what people think? does it really matter that much?) Now, my boots and necklace seem kind of mundane, and I don't blink an eye about wearing them.

Reusing pictures wasn't the only way that I celebrated Earth Day though. It was cold, and instead of turning on the heat, I built a fire. I saved oil, and got exercise by feeding that darn fire. It was hungry, and I had to keep getting up for food.

I rode my bike instead of taking a car -- great exercise.

I composted my orange peels instead of throwing them away.

I recycle and reuse as many things as I can. If  I don't know how to reuse something, then I save it and scour the eco blogs to try and find a way to use them. (I'm still trying to find something cool to make from all the bread tabs that I've been saving -- anybody have any ideas?).

Over the years, I've found all sorts of ways to use things that would otherwise have ended up in a landfill. Here's a bag that my mom made from juice packs.

And a pillow that she made out of clothing labels. It's a little bit beat up, but I still love it a lot. My mom saved labels for a long time, and whenever she found one that reflected something that was of interest to me,
it went into my pillow pile. 

Coasters made from record albums, circuit boards, and magazines.

 Frames made from bicycle chains.

Environmentalists often get a bad rap or are ridiculed for some of the things they do (I once stopped eating yogurt because I couldn't figure out what to do with all the containers!) but taking care of the world we live in is something that I believe we should all embrace -- to me, it's no different than taking care of your home or your body.

I know that I can be somewhat obsessive about this issue, but the good thing about the 3Rs is that you don't have to do it all to make a difference. I mean, I read one article that said you could save your nail clippings and use them for a pot scrubber. I decided that that had way too much of an ewwwww factor for me, and mine go in the garbage. Find one thing that you're comfortable with doing and incorporate it into your lifestyle.
  • A 15-year-old tree makes about 700 paper grocery bags. A busy supermarket can use them all in under an hour!
  • Enough wood and paper is thrown away each year to heat 50 million homes for 20 years.
  • Bottled water produces up to 1.5 million tons of plastic waste per year and requires up to 47 million gallons of oil per year to produce. 
  • An estimated 80 million Hershey's kisses are wrapped each day, using enough aluminum foil to cover over 50 acres of space (almost 40 football fields). All that foil is recyclable. 
  • Recycling one aluminum can saves enough energy to run a TV for three hours -- the equivalent of one-half gallon of gasoline.
  • Each person produces, on average, 4.4 pounds of solid waste each day or almost a ton of trash per year.

    What did you do in honor of Earth Day?


    1. I'm scratching my head how I missed this post. I love the pillow made of clothing labels. Recently, I passed up a necklace made from a bicycle chain. We are as green as possible at our house, but I live too far from campus to commute.

    2. Kari, You've entertained me and made me think. O.K. first, I agree that things you first feel awkward in do in time become no big deal. I've had that experience, too. On your recycled items, I love the clothes tag pillow. I've never seen one of those. It reminds me of a skirt I saw made from the ends of bolts of material - you know the ends with writing on them. Inspiring post - it makes me want to do more. I did write about buying used clothing as a means of being green in my little column in the local paper this week.

    3. I love this outfit, btw. I hadn't found your blog at that time, but I think you look gorgeous.

      I didn't do anything special for Earth Day. I always ride my bike to work and am so lucky I live close enough to do so. We always recycle at our house with recycling bins in the kitchen and bathrooms. And I've been trying to buy used clothes as much as possible. In fact, when I covet something, I look for a thrifted version first.

    4. I love the statement necklace, and those are some great recycling ideas.

    5. I recycle our trash, but I must admit that I tend not to think twice about just going out and buying something new. I think I'll start being more mindful thanks to this post.

      And I'm digging those boots, its interesting how blogging makes your really push your limits and then suddently it all just seems second nature.

    6. i have all my toenail clippings saved for you! it will be my mom's day present! :)

      just kiddddddding...


    7. Thanks for this post! My 6 year-old has really been on us to reuse things lately... they're getting them early now at school which I think is a WONDERFUL thing. I absolutely love that pillow made out of clothing tags, what a unique and awesome idea!

    8. I'm spreading a little blog love around today. I was given the Blogger Luxury Award by Joandy of My Style by Joandy and I am now passing the award on to you! I'm not sure where the Luxury Blogger Award originated, but to me living below your means is a luxury because it's nice to have things you love without being stressed over how you're going to pay for them. You can find the rules for passing the award along on my post today, Thanks for writing such an inspiring blog! On another note, I read a comment on another blog which made me wonder, do you have any children graduating this year? I have a daughter graduating high school and two sons, one in college and one in high school.

    9. I shudder to think about the amount of waste that leaves my in-laws house - But since moving in here, I've started saving all our cans and taking them to my mom who recycles them (we don't have a local recycling place in this town!!! Ridiculous!)

      I also started cooking more at home and buying in bulk to reduce package waste. I walk or take the bus when I can. It's only small steps because my in-laws are not the biggest environmentalists.

      I would love to know how those circuit board coasters were made. We have a lot of old electronics in the garage that I've wanted to turn into jewelry.


    Thanks for reading. Honest opinions and constructive criticism are always welcome.

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