Author Archive | Lauren Dartt

7 Things You Didn’t Know You Could Recycle

Recycle-Markers

It’s no secret that our landfills are filling up, and fast. Each person in America generates approximately 4.5 lbs of trash each day—with a population of 317 million people, that’s a LOT of garbage! We all know about the obvious ways to reduce solid waste—donating old clothes, recycling containers, composting, and choosing biodegradable when possible—but it turns out that a lot of other commonly used products can be recycled or reused, too. Here’s a list of 7 you may not have known about.

#1: Markers

Crayola’s ColorCycle initiative takes old Crayola markers and re-uses and recycles the barrels and caps in the production of new markers. As a bonus, Crayola also uses 100% reforested wood to make their colored pencils as well as other eco-friendly practices.

#2: Corks

If you needed an extra reason to buy that bottle of wine, Recork turns used corks into building insulation, shoes, and more. Find out where to recycled your corks.

#3: Pantyhose

No Nonsense, a manufacturer of tights, panty hose, leggings, and socks will take back used pairs pantyhose and tights and make them into things like park benches, running tracks, and playground equipment—how cool is that? Find out how to recycle your used pair on No Nonsense’s Recycling page.

#4: Bras

Bras are a highly sought-after item in shelters and transitional programs. While most women trash their used (or poorly fitted) bras, thinking perhaps that no one would want to purchase a used bra at a second hand store, companies like The Bra Recyclers are more than happy to accept used bras and other textiles. Their mission is to reduce the amount of textiles in landfills by recycling and reusing textiles in an effort to support people and the environment.

#5: Old CD’s

I’ve always wondered why CD’s couldn’t be recycled—turns out they can! The CD Recycling Center of America accepts CD’s and DVD’s and recycles them into plastic for automotive and building materials in an effort to reduce oil consumption (plastic discs are made from oil), eliminate the toxic fumes produced when CD’s are incinerated, and keep CD’s out of landfills.

#6: Crayons

Each year, the National Crayon Recycling Program keeps more than 94,000 lbs of unwanted crayons out of landfills. The program has nation-wide drop off bins that accept used crayons that will be recycled into new ones. They accept all crayons but as a bonus sort and discard crayons manufactured in foreign countries before 1995 that may contain questionable materials.

#7: Apple Products

Apple accepts old iPods, iPhones, computers, and more and recycles or reuses the product or its parts. If your old product qualifies for reuse, Apple will give you a gift card for the monetary value of your old product. If it does not qualify for reuse, Apple will safely recycle your product free of charge.

This list of 7 is just the tip of the iceberg! From batteries to eyeglasses, there are many more household items that can be recycled, and the number of products and materials is growing all the time as more and more companies spring up hoping to reduce consumption and waste.

YOUR TURN: Do you have other inside info on lesser-known recyclable or reusable products or materials?

4 Green Ways to Celebrate the Fourth of July!

4th of July

Happy Independence Day Weekend! The 4th of July is one of my personal favorite holidays, with BBQ’s, family, community, fairs, farmer’s markets, and fireworks to enjoy—not to mention that good old patriotic feeling. There are a lot of great, green ways to celebrate this year, but I’ve chosen four because, well, you know!

  1. Get Outside
    Getting outdoors with the family instead of hanging around inside and running the AC is a great way to start greening your 4th. Since Independence Day is America’s holiday sweetheart, there should be no shortage of activities for you and your family to participate in, from historical tours and live music to farmer’s markets and pick-your-own berry patches. If you live near water or natural open, go for a swim or take a scenic walk or bike ride. Don’t forget to use DEET-free insect repellant! I personally like to use child-safe, non-toxic Bug Bam Mosquito Bands and this DIY mosquito repellant.
  2. Slather on Eco-friendly, Safe Sunscreen
    Hopefully you’ve got plans to hit the beach, the trail, or the farmer’s market this 4th. If you’ll be outside (and especially if you’re taking little ones along), make sure to wear hats and shades and use plenty of sunscreen. The Environmental Working Group’s 2014 Best Sunscreens page lists over 100 safe sunscreens including baby, waterproof, and sport sunscreens. Don’t forget to reapply!
  3. Pack a Zero Waste Picnic
    If you’re setting up camp somewhere to wait for the fireworks show to start, eliminate waste and save some cash by skipping food vendors and disposable eating ware and bringing your own zero waste picnic. You can start by packing locally sourced fruits, veggies, cheeses, and beer or wine (bottles are recycle-able!) and bringing your own water in reusable bottles. Instead of plastic and paper eating ware, pack cloth napkins and compostable plates, silverware, and cups. If you don’t have a long haul or want to go super-green, pack reusable glasses, silverware, and plates.
  4. View Fireworks from a Natural Setting
    The last year I lived in Boulder my husband and I skipped the impressive, grandiose fireworks and sing-a-long event at the University of Colorado’s Folsom Field in favor of a quieter, more intimate viewing experience with friends. We packed some drinks and snacks, hiked up into the foothills, and joined other groups wanting to celebrate from a distance. The evening (and later nighttime, flashlight-lit) hike was magical, allowing us to take in the full beauty of our town and appreciate this lovely country we call home. Since we were far enough away that we couldn’t hear the explosions of the fireworks, our group of friends was able to converse and enjoy each other’s company to the fullest. Even if you don’t have a beautiful natural setting to enjoy the 4th from, you can cut down on waste and pollution by not lighting off street fireworks and enjoying a larger display with a giant group, instead.

Have a safe, green, and happy Independence Day! How are you celebrating?

Ecocentric Mom Box is Perfect for Soon to Be Mom’s Too!

097

My Ecocentric Mom Box showed up right on Christmas Eve, so I felt like I was getting a special early Christmas gift! It was full of eco-friendly goodies and treats I didn’t feel bad about eating. If you’re an expecting mom, a new mom, or long-time mom, there is a box for you!

  1. Lovely Candy Company Caramels (on sale right now!)
    These, plus the next item on the list, were my favorite! Because it’s treat-season I’ve been indulging a little too much in sweets and treats that aren’t exactly guilt-free. Lucky for me, Lovely treats are! They are all natural, soft, chewy caramels made with real butter and sweetened condensed milk. Bonus: they are gluten free, non-GMO, kosher, and you can pick them up at Target!
  1. Organic Flavrz Water Enhancer (get 15% off with code: ecocentric)
    Flavrz bills these as the “world’s best organic alternative to artificially flavored, colored, and sweetened beverages,” and they aren’t lying! These drink mixes are made with organic fruit juice, organic flavorings, and a hint of sweetness. I gulped mine down in seconds flat.
  1. Little Pim CD
    This CD is just too cute. When I opened my box to reveal a CD sleeve featuring an image of a panda bear playing harmonica while two friendly birds rest on his shoulders, my daughter immediately knew it was for her! Little Pim is an award-winning language program designed for children aged 0-6, and its unique Entertainment Immersion Method makes it fun and easy to learn. Our CD, Spanish Bop, features 15 favorite children’s songs in Spanish.
  1. Bum Boosa Bamboo Wipes
    My daughter has always had very sensitive skin, requiring us to buy diapers and wipes with zero added ingredients, like chlorine and synthetic fragrances, so I was delighted to try a new bum-friendly wipe. Bum Boosa replaces synthetic or tree-pulp wet wipes with renewable and sustainable bamboo, and uses ingredients like Calendula, Chamomile, and organic Aloe Vera so that they’re gentle on even the most sensitive bottoms.
  1. Novena Skin Care Sample Pack
    When I was pregnant with my daughter, I got a LOT of samples from my OB office, baby classes, and friends who didn’t use the million samples they got during pregnancy. As nice as it is to have options, most of the products I was given to sample contained ingredients I wouldn’t use when I’m not pregnant—let alone with I am. Novena’s organic pregnancy skin care line is a great choice. My sample pack included fruit facial cleanser, bearberry brightener moisturizing cream, bearberry brightener moisturizing lotion, belly/bum cream, and beautifying breast cream.
  1. Gaia Herbs PlantForce Liquid Iron (25% off with code: Ecocentricmom14)
    Did you know that your blood volume doubles during pregnancy? As a result, many pregnant mamas end up with an iron deficiency. Gaia’s liquid iron supplement replaces lost iron and is tasty, too—just make sure that, as with any supplement during pregnancy—you OK it with your OB first!
  1. eInvite Holiday Cards (20% off with code HOLIDAYCODE20)
    These are too cute and super easy to use. The cards come as pre-printed backgrounds that you can easily stick a cute photo onto and pop into the mail for a unique, sweet greeting. eInvite.com has a wide selection of baby products, too, like shower invitations and birth announcements—and they’re made in the USA.
  1. Urban Oreganics Full Size Makeup Remover (20% off orders over $20 with code: ECOMOM20)
    Urban Oreganics handcrafts the highest quality skin food from natural ingredients. This all-over makeup remover binds to cosmetics and gently lifts them off, and is safe for eyelashes and skin. With ingredients like coconut oil and witch hazel, it’s an eco-friendly no brainer.

4 Easy Ways to Help Kids Go Green by Teaching Community Awareness

Help Kids Go Green by Teaching Community AwarenessFor kids, who may not fully understand what a carbon footprint is or how their green choices today will improve everyone’s quality of life tomorrow, it’s helpful to begin teaching them to be environmentally-friendly by focusing on community awareness. Kids are naturally friendly, curious, social creatures who are constantly studying and interacting with their peers and adults around them. We routinely teach children how their emotions and words affect others, and by keeping the context on community we can easily show them how their environmental decisions affect others. Read on for 4 easy ways for kids to have fun while expanding their community awareness.

#1: Pen Pals
I remember my first pen pal. She was totally different than me! I lived in Colorado and she lived in Virginia, I lived in a suburban house and she lived in a mobile home on a few acres of beautiful, green land. She had siblings and I didn’t. While we could relate on some aspects of being a kid, my seven-year-old mind really hadn’t conceived of the idea that someone could really live in a different state with a different ecosystem and a different type of house and neighborhood than me. Pen pals, even if your child is simply writing to a cousin or grandmother, help kids build an awareness that there is a vast diversity among how people live and will show them we are all human and all connected at the same time. A feeling of ownership for one’s community is at the root of every good-hearted intention to live green.

#2: Clean Up a Park
Kids are usually too busy playing at the park to notice whether there’s litter or whether facilities are clean. By volunteering to clean up trash at a local park, baseball field, or neighborhood you can teach your kids to respect communal spaces and give them the opportunity to see what these spaces look like before and after they’ve been cared for.

#3:  Visit the Local Animal Sanctuary
Animal sanctuary’s often house an animal or two on the endangered species list. Visiting these animals gives parents the opportunity to explain why these animals are endangered and where they used to live. Visiting the animal sanctuary also connects kids with animals and widens their global view by teaching them about the ecosystems where animals once lived.

#4: Visit a National Park
National parks really are America’s treasure! There are so many beautiful national and state parks to visit, and taking a trip to one will allow your family to bond and remember why it’s important to protect natural spaces—especially when kids see how many other families flock to these natural havens to escape and enjoy the wild.

YOUR TURN: What is your favorite way to teach the kiddos about community awareness?

5 Non-Toxic Ingredients for DIY Cleaners and How to Use Them

2014-01-18 01.00.26Many people with pets or kids have noticed that many of the ingredients in commercial cleaning products are not only harmful to people and animals but can be fatal. So, it’s no surprise that people are looking to remove these harsh chemicals from their home and replace them with great, green, healthy alternatives. Fortunately, there are a some great, green, affordable substitutes that can be used pretty much anywhere in your home and that you likely already have sitting in the pantry. Read on for my 5 favorite, non-toxic ingredients for DIY cleaners and how to use them in your home.

1. Vinegar
Vinegar is my all-time favorite non-toxic cleaner. It removes odors, stains, and grease and can effectively prevent mildew and mold when applied regularly to shower walls, sinks, and toilet bowls. Vinegar neutralizes pet odors like cat urine and will help keep colors from bleeding from a new pair of jeans or a red shirt if you soak the clothing item in vinegar for 30 minutes before washing or dump a cup or so into the washer with the detergent. To remove corrosion and chemical buildup from showerheads, soak the showerhead in vinegar overnight. Plain white vinegar should be used but if the smell offends you, you can add 10-15 drops of essential oil to your cleaning mixture. My favorite all-purpose cleaner, for bathroom, kitchen, and glass, is simply 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water mixed in a spray bottle. That’s it!

2. Baking Soda
Baking soda has virus-killing abilities and makes for an effective but gentle scrub for bathtubs, toilets, tile, and porcelain or stainless steel sinks. When I run out of Bon Ami, I pour baking soda in the sink, squeeze in half a lemon or pour in about ¼ cup vinegar, and scrub with a sponge or bristled brush. For a great toilet scrub, pour ½ cup baking soda into the toilet bowl and add 10 drops of tea tree essential oil and ¼ cup vinegar. The mixture will fizz while you scrub and cut through mold and grime while the tea tree oil disinfects. Tea tree oil and thyme oil are both great non-toxic disinfectants to be used in place of bleach. That said, just because they’re non-toxic doesn’t mean that you, your kids, or your pets should consume these products!

3. Castile Soap
Castile soaps are made from 100% plant oils so they’re safe and gentle but effective. While traditionally it’s recommended that wood floors be cleaned with pure water, I’ve added a few drops of peppermint or eucalyptus castile soap to a warm bucket of water and mopped our wood floors with the mixture to clean and freshen up the room. Our floors aren’t wax-treated, so please ask a pro if yours are before using anything but water on your wood floors. Castile soaps are great all-purpose cleaners, too. Simply mix a tablespoon to a ¼ cup with warm water for washing down counters, tile, windows, or a sink full of dishes. The term “all purpose” really applies to castile soap!

4. Lemon
Lemon juice kills mold and mildew, shines harder surfaces, cuts grease, and deodorizes. A cut lemon can be scrubbed over the surface of a cutting board to sanitize it. Simply rub a halved lemon over the surface, let sit for 10 minutes, and rinse. Lemon juice can be added to vinegar cleaning mixtures to add a fresh scent and aid in cutting grease. Lemon juice is a great bleach substitute for washing laundry, too; just add lemon juice to the rinse cycle.

5. Essential Oils
Peppermint, tea tree, and thyme oils are my favorite for use in home cleaning products. Peppermint oil eliminates offensive odors and is a natural pest deterrent. I have successfully used peppermint oil to eliminate mice in one of our sheds by placing cotton balls soaked in peppermint oil around the entrances to the shed and places where the mice frequented. Tea tree oil eliminates mold and mildew; a few drops can simply be mixed with water and sprayed onto shower walls (don’t rinse it off) and left to kill mildew and mold. Thyme oil is a powerful, natural disinfectant that has been said to kill and prevent botulism, e. coli, listeria, and salmonella. Add a few drops to your vinegar all purpose spray or use in the same was as tea tree oil in the formula above.

YOUR TURN: What are your favorite DIY, green home cleaning products?