Wednesday, December 28, 2011

True Green 2.0

I hope that everyone had (or is having) a great Holiday with their family. I promised that I would try to keep giving ingredients to avoid. Below is the next offender. I somehow knew (maybe based on the fact that the "real" natural guys said that their product didn't contain it) that parabens were to be avoided. When my husband asked why I said.. "cause they are bad". I had no clue. Below is an excerpt from an article about toxins in the products we buy everyday.
Parabens (Methyl, Butyl, Ethyl, Propyl): Used as preservatives and aren’t always labeled “parabens.” They’re used in deodorants and antiperspirants and have been found in breast cancer tumors. Parabens, as xenoestrogens (hormone disruptors), may contribute to sterility in male mice and humans. Estrogen-like activity causes hormone imbalance in females and early puberty.
So this is the second.. more to come.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas

.. I was singing (it's ashame you couldn't hear me .. or is it?). Writing a pretty simple post just to wish all of our readers, customers, staff & random people walking down the street a very Merry Christmas & Happiest of Holidays. We are so thankful for our customers & staff. We look forward to a bright New Year and wish you all one as well.

Monday, December 19, 2011

True Green

It's a fad. I mean, it's so very helpful for my job but really green has become a fad. Celebrities are driving Prius's and talking about their carbon footprint. It's a good fad because no one is hurt and only our planet gains.. or not? I've said so many times that education is the first step to getting recycling to catch on and become second nature. Miseducation on the other hand makes us take giant leaps back.

So many companies are cashing in on the eco fad and are green washing us to death. Now it is so much more difficult to determine what's really "green" and what is a company trying to persuade us to buy the same old product wrapped in a green package. It takes a very detail oriented person with extra time to be sure that the product you specifically bought because it was a bit healthier for the planet and your family is in fact just that. Unfortunately for most of us, time is not something we have a lot extra of. 

A friend recently informed me that they were happy to pay a bit more for a handcrafted wooden toy made by a toy company (that touted their eco friendly philosphy & made in the USA standards). They were happy that is until the first label was ripped off to reveal a "Made in China" sticker. Unsure what hurt worse, their pocket for paying more for nothing, their pride because they had just gotten dupped or the planet because surely the eco friendly promises must also be a lie.

So many bath products (specifically for children) claim to be "all natural" but still contain items that you wouldn't dare exposure your children to in their "raw" form. Blended with the other ingredients & marked natural you willingly slather it on them. I've decided that I'm going to try (once a week) to give tips on ingredients to avoid.

This first ingredient to try to avoid is found in a VERY common baby product:
"formaldehyde-releasing preservative quaternium-15, as well as the chemical byproduct 1,4-dioxane. Formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane are known carcinogens. The federal Consumer Product Safety Commission has reported that “the presence of 1,4-dioxane, even as a trace contaminant, is cause for concern,” and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services added formaldehyde to its list of known human carcinogens in June 2011." Forbes GREEN TECH 11/1/2011

Monday, December 12, 2011

And the winner is...

Drum roll please.. can't handle the suspense? Lisa has won the tee shirt (made from Recycled PET)  & drink tumbler. Yay Lisa!! If you are Lisa and posted a comment that you wanted to hear more on educating children about recycling please email me. I need your address to get your prize on it's way. If you aren't Lisa but do have a topic in mind that you'd be interested in discussing, hearing about, or looking at from another point of view please comment & let me know. Thanks much.. have a great week!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Make Recycling Second Nature for our Children

Thanks for the comment Lisa, by request:

I was involved in recycling well before it became the craze. It was second nature in our household and as a child I assumed it was the same everywhere else. I just did it because that's what I knew. The missing link in recycling is education. We've done better recently but what we really need is to instill it at a young age. Many schools are hoping on board but some aren't picking it up quite as quickly as they should. As always, Mom and Dad are the first step and below are a few ways to introduce it in your home.

1. Look at your garbage: It is helpful to "stage" a garbage can filled with recyclables and real garbage (you can control the amount of recyclables versus waste that they'll find). If you compost include those materials too. It is fun and also shows the true impact of pulling items out of the garbage. They will see the amount of landfill bound garbage diminish and the bin empty. I know it'll be a bit messy but it's really worth it and will leave an impact.

2. Sort: In conjunction with #1 make bins to put the recyclables in.  If you are using old containers that need to be painted or labeled, then let them help. For children under the reading age include pictures of the materials that belong in the bin. Continue to use these bins regularly and allow them to feel like they started their very own recycling program in their home recycling center.

3. Provide incentives: I'm always conflicted on this one because we want our children to do the right thing just because it's right. At times it takes motivation to learn what the right thing is. I tell myself that once it has been learned  it'll then just become second nature to them. If you want to go the route of charts and stickers that works (maybe reward for each item placed in a recycling bin or for each bin filled). The other much loved incentive is money. Cash in the aluminum cans and allow the recycling fund to buy something fun; a true reward for their efforts. It's unfortunate that aluminum cans are just about the only in house commodity that you'll receive a monetary value for since so many households have cut out soda but.. that's just how it is. 

4. Check out a landfill: Although they are currently essential for the removal of the "true" waste in our homes; landfills are typically vast, dirty, stinky places. It's no surprise based on the stuff we throw away each day but the actual smells and views of visiting a landfill leaves an impression. It's basically the difference of looking at a picture of a vast mountain or really being on the mountain. It's good for them to see just how much trash is there and how space is limited.

5. Make a recycled product: It's great to know that you're doing the right thing and keeping materials out of a landfill but if your child is anything like mine they want to know how. A little project showing them what the big word "recycling" really means and how simple it is for us to do can do the trick. Making paper is a true life example but there are plenty of other pretty cool things you can make by recycling or upcycling material.

"Upcycling is the process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products of better quality or a higher environmental value." as quoted by Wikipedia
Check out a few cool sites that have really neat upcycling ideas. These are projects that you won't mind seeing around your house.

Instructions on how to make recycled paper:

Sock puppets, dreamcatchers &  crayons made from the broken sad crayons you have laying around:

Bags from grocery bags (Advanced - not young child friendly):

These are just a few there are so many ideas out there and can be found by searching "upcycling projects for children".

Everyone preaches for change and through the education of our children we can watch them make a real difference. By far the greatest impact we can have on our environment is the mindset we instill in of our little ones.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Is this thing on?

I've been so pleased with the number of views we've been getting in the last few days. It was a slow start but things are beginning to really pick up. The problem is, I can hear the crickets churping (that's my way of saying that I haven't received any comments). I would really like to make this an interactive experience and cover topics or answer questions people are really interested in. Please comment, I'd be so happy to hear from you. Let me know how you feel about the post, ideas for future posts, questions, or just let me know that you're here. Hmm.. I will try to make it worth your while.
We will give a CRI tee shirt (Anvil Sustainable - made from recycled PET) and a recyclable drink tumbler. Using a winner will be selected. To be included in the drawing please have your comment in by 12/5. Good Luck, I can't wait to hear from everyone.

One last thing.. please do not forget to include contact information so that I can get in touch with you if you are selected the winner!

Friday, November 25, 2011

"Green" up your Holidays..

So much preparation, food, and fun leads to so much waste. The Holidays are magical. A perfect time to reflect, be thankful for what you have, spend quality time with friends and family. As the family slowly filter out the bags and bags of trash remain. I have a few quick suggestions to help keep your holidays a bit "greener".

1. Recycle. It can be a pain especially with an elder family member who is not quite as familiar with the idea of recycling, You will find that keeping the paper (especially with gift boxes and wrapping paper) will help to significantly cut down on the garbage. The way to make it easiest and receive the most participation is to clearly label the bins. If they don't know where to put things they'll either trash it or the materials will get all mixed up and end up being thrown away later. A few minutes of organization will make a huge difference in its success. On a side note: a few recycling facilities are now able to utilize the #3-7 plastics for alternative fuels and other applications which would allow you to also "recycle" your plastic cups, plates and utensils (if they are completely clean of food particles). You would definitely need to check with your local recycling coordinator or facility so if they cannot accept them that they did not contaminate the other materials.

2. Don't wrap.. I know this idea of this with young children just won't fly. A young child "needs" to open a gift but do the adults? A lot of times gift bags or baskets can be just as festive, adds a bit more to the gift (especially baskets) and can be reused.

3. Sharpie your cups. If you have plastic cups that you are using (glasses can be overwhelming but an even greener step) have your guests label their cup. Add a festive spin and have a "contest" for the artistically gifted and see who creates the best holiday design.

4. Limit your plates & napkins. It may sound cheap but if you opt to have plastic ware still set places at the table or limit the amount of plates that you put out. If the guest has a plate at their seat they will use and typically reuse that same plate if they return for seconds. If there is a huge stock of plates & napkins out on the table it makes it much easier to throw out the old and get a new one. Stash some backups if someone needs another but make them ask.

These are just a few simple tricks but you might be amazed that just little changes can make a huge difference. If you have any other "green" tricks please comment!!

Friday, November 18, 2011

The future of Dual Stream Recycling??

The Cougle family has been involved in recycling since the 1940's. They have a bit of experience under their belt and have perfected the way recyclables are most efficiently processed. Since CRI is a recycling facility with no landfill affiliations the idea of increasing the residual or waste generated from collecting and processing recyclables is a scary proposition. The concept of decreasing the quality of the finished product coming out of the facility, for a company who has built a superior reputation for clean material is also met with disdain.

In a multitude of current news articles local communities and industries are switching to single stream recycling for three main reasons; to make it easier, increase participation, and save money. I’m pretty confident that I can disprove those statements or at least show how silly they are.

Easier: It is significantly easier to throw everything in one bin or heck we could even trash it. We recycle to keep material out of the landfill and to be environmentally responsible. The idea of throwing all recyclables in one bin sounds great unless you want to make a finished product out of one of the commodities in the bin. As the bins are jostled to the curb or during transit a small amount of the glass jars will be broken. Ever watch your recycling be dumped; maybe we could edit that and say a good amount of glass jars and bottles will be broken. Add in to the broken glass, plastic bottles, paper, aluminum & tin cans as well as moisture from the containers being washed out or not completely emptied out and you end up with plastic & cans wallpapered with glass sprinkled paper.

Increase Participation:  The news clips often speak of the increase in recycling rates at the curb but they typically do not further analyze and determine how much material actually ends up being reused or what finds its way to a landfill. Not only does less make it out of the materials recovery facility to be reused but processors have expressed time and time again that single stream material is much more difficult to work with. Users have had to decrease the amount of recycled content they use and increase the virgin feedstock due to the contamination.

Cost: Transportation costs tend to decrease when mixing all materials together but the rebates or value of the materials being mixed greatly declines. Materials that could once be quite valuable when mixed become worth very little or nothing. Prior to deciding if the cost is really cheaper you have to weigh all the possible rebates you could be missing out on if the material was kept clean and separate. If those numbers don’t show that you aren’t saving anything then you have to ask yourself what the value of the planet and your children’s future?

It’s unfortunate that despite logic the growing popularity is demanding single stream be the wave of the future. They had hoped it would pass but it’s hanging on and the popularity is growing. There is a point that you have to jump on the wave or you just get lost floating on your raft of righteousness. The good news is that technology is increasing and single stream sorting and separation systems are helping to create better quality products (still nowhere near what dual stream can do but I mean who’s comparing).  I hope there is a need to process dual stream materials in the future and that people learn just because it’s easier doesn’t mean its right. Well, that’s just my humble opinion please feel free to provide your own.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Ease into things. . .

I have read numerous blogs about numerous causes. Cougle's Recycling management has discussed having a company blog for a long time and I have delayed. I've delayed because I wasn't so sure that I could commit to posting regularly ( I can!) or even worse.. that I could write interesting things that someone would actually want to read (I'll try!). So I'm biting the bullet and we'll see how it goes. I am going to ease into this. If you have any recycling/green topics that you'd like  "explored" please let me know. I'm just desperate for interesting ideas to keep readers coming back. We can do this. That's all for now.. relax, I said I'm easing into things.