Go Green

Post date: Friday, February 15, 2013 - 4:33pm

Recycle Your K-Cups

For Christmas 2011, I was fortunate to receive a Keurig Coffee single cup coffee maker.  This was a dream come true for someone like me who appreciates a fresh cup of coffee.  The downside to owning a Keurig, however, is that the individual coffee packaging (the K-Cup) was not recyclable and I truly felt bad about throwing the used packaging in the trash.    I did invest in a reusable filter assembly that can be easily cleaned and is compatible with my Keurig and was able to cut down on waste that way.

During August 2012, a few members of the Off-The-Grid team went on a field trip to Waste Management’s Edu-cycle Facility in Grayslake.  I had been there several times before and am always pleasantly surprised that I learn something new during each visit.    This time I learned that it is in fact possible to recycle K-Cups.  The presenter told us that recycling decisions are made based upon having a market for the used items and due to their popularity, used K-Cups now had a market.  She suggested cutting off the foil top and filter, then recycling the K-Cups with any other recyclables.  Try it.  It is easy!

Tags: coffee, k-cup, recycle
Post date: Friday, February 15, 2013 - 4:28pm

Need Craft Supplies?

I thought I would write again about more ideas I found on creating crafts from recycled items. Normally craft items from the store or catalog can become quite costly so finding items around the home can be a wise and economical alternative. In the past I have used empty cardboard tape rolls, empty paper towel rolls, and milk and juice bottle tops to create a variety of projects from super hero bracelets to fairy wands to board game pieces. Today I will explore different ways you can use paper bags, paper towel rolls, and old puzzles pieces to make exciting new projects.

Grocery store paper bags can be used to create kites, vests, funny hats, paper play houses, and scrapbooks. Simple supplies like crayons, pasting pieces, strong string, and scissors are needed to transform a simple bag into a new creation. Visit this website for other ideas. www.freekidscrafts.com/recycled_paper_bag_crafts_for_kids-t106.html

Paper towel rolls can be used to make rocket ships, used as painting brushes, bird feeders, cardboard flowers, and swords. Just grab paint, scissors, and small pasting pieces like sequins, pom poms, or glitter and convert your everyday item into a work of art.  Visit this website for other ideas. http://green.yourway.net/recycled-crafts-from-toilet-paper-and-paper-towel-rolls/

After your child has become bored with creating the same puzzle over and over again, you can reuse the puzzle pieces to create a variety of different craft projects. For example, you can paint the puzzle pieces white and glue them together to create a winter snowflake craft. You can take an old nut can or oatmeal container and paste old puzzles pieces around it to create an artistic keepsake container or art supply holder. You can make a picture frame out of craft sticks and glue the puzzle pieces around the craft sticks to brighten up the frame.  Visit this website for other ideas. http://familycrafts.about.com/od/puzzlegamepiececrafts/tp/PuzzlePieceCrafts.htm

The best craft projects are the ones where children are allowed to be creative and use a variety of materials to create a project out of their own imagination. Using recycled materials to create crafts is great and an inexpensive way for children to develop their imagination.

Tags: craft, kids, recycle
Post date: Friday, February 15, 2013 - 4:21pm

Matthews Art Studio has Recycled Tables

Have you ever taken a look at our two long tables in the Mathews Art Studio section of the Early Learning Center (ELC)?  They are made of a remarkable new material called 3Form which is a 100% blend of post-consumer recycled high-density polyethylene (HDPE).  It is primarily made from milk jugs, plastic bags, cereal box liners, yogurt & margarine tubs, water jugs, household cleaner bottles, and plastic soda bottles.  This particular pattern is called Orange Slice and has a Sandstone finish.  Nice huh?

Tags: ELC, gogreen, recycle
Post date: Tuesday, August 21, 2012 - 11:16am

Being Green at the Grocery Store

When we do grocery shopping, about the time we are at the checkout with the clerk asking, “Paper or plastic,” is when I remember the reusable grocery bags we purchased sitting in the trunk.  So how do you remember to take them in and actually use them and stop using bags that require trees being cut down or plastic bags that sit in our landfills for tens of thousands of years?  Every time I do remember them, I feel good about saving the environment plus they are nice, sturdy bags.  Sometimes I tell my wife to go through the line while I run out to the car in the parking lot and get the bags.  I guess it’s just a matter of putting them on the seat next to you when you head to the grocery store or attach your grocery list to them so you have to take them in when you enter the store.  Anybody else have any ideas?

Post date: Friday, June 29, 2012 - 3:14pm

Care for a case of the hives?

More and more people are saying yes! Beekeeping has developed into a popular hobby these days, with hives continuing to pop up in backyards as well as many public spaces. Among the hobby’s biggest backers are many state agriculture departments, advocating the trend as a way to help counteract an alarming decline in the honeybee population. 

The New York Waldorf-Astoria recently joined the ranks of beekeepers, setting up an operation of six hives on its 20th floor rooftop. “Honey’s such a versatile ingredient that we can use it anywhere,” said David Garcelon, the Waldorf’s executive chef. As a potentially bigger bonus, beekeeping operations position a hotel (and other properties) for many green initiatives. 

Maybe it’s time the Waukegan Public Library considers taking up urban beekeeping in its quest to go green? 

Tags: bees, Linda
Post date: Friday, May 11, 2012 - 9:42am

Recycling Pets

When you think about recycling you usually think first about aluminum soda cans, newspapers, glass bottles; that kind of stuff.  But then I got to thinking, hey, maybe this could be extended even farther.  Let me give you an example.  This past winter, we had to put down one of our dogs.  She was around 12 years old, a Rottweiler mix named Molly.  The most gentlest dog you could ever find.  Molly had a mass growing in her stomach and hip dysplasia.   One day she fell and couldn’t get up any more.  Long story short, Molly is no longer with us.  When it came time to think about getting another dog, we did a lot of research and found a breed that we thought would be compatible to our needs and with the dog still part of the family, and then went to a rescue place in Joliet.  We found a great dog that was rescued from a pound in Alabama.  So now Gracie the Australian Cattle Dog (who is somewhere between 2 and 3 years old) is now a new member of our household.  Isn’t that recycling too?   

Post date: Wednesday, May 2, 2012 - 10:05am

Reminding Family to Recycle

My son, who lives in Los Angeles, visited us for Easter.  Now I foolishly assumed that everyone from California was really into recycling and I’m sure many are.  I found myself periodically going into our trash and pulling out the plastic, glass and aluminum bottles he routinely threw into it with nary a thought about recycling.  When we visit him in California, he is pretty good about separating his trash from his recycling but when he travels (which is often) he also apparently goes on a recycle holiday.  I guess it’s time for one of those father son talks, no, not that talk, we had that one many years ago.  This one needs to be about all of us doing our recycle part, every day, seven days a week, wherever we are.  And if he doesn’t get it, he may be 35 years old but he’s not too old to be taken over my knee and spanked!

  

Post date: Wednesday, May 2, 2012 - 9:46am

Finding the Inspiration to Go Green

Often messages about the environment go like this: 1) “Look at this terrible thing that we are doing to the earth!”, 2) “Feel outraged!”, 3) “Do your duty to stop this evil!”  I always have trouble getting from outrage to action.  It’s tough to stay worked up all the time. 

To explain another way of approaching environmentalism, I want to share a few lines from a poem by Wendell Berry, an essayist and farmer who can get feisty at times.  The poem is called “Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front”.  I highly recommend it and all his other work. 

The mood of the poem is easy to identify with for me as a resident of Chicago.  I do get upset and indignant about all of the ready-made products, the parking lots and cars everywhere, the light pollution and the processed food made of who-knows-what from who-knows-where.  We take and take and take and use and use and use. 

Berry is angry and can be too.  But anger eventually fizzles out.  The line I want to share from Berry’s poem comes after his rage has subsided.  Instead of despairing, he does a 180 degree turn and says:

“Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.”

It’s beautiful advice.  What are the facts?  Don’t ignore them.  We are abusing our planet.  Granted.  It’s getting worse.  Okay.  But it’s still beautiful if you take the time to notice.  Really?  Yes.

What most motivates me to change my own “green” habits isn’t any speaker or argument but my love for some of the little green spaces near my home in Chicago: River Park along the North Branch where I once saw a Kingfisher, the enveloping shade trees blanketing Argyle Street, even the little patch of green, Gross Park, where I used to hear the soccer games going on until midnight across the street in the summers.   

Righteous indignation and anger will only get us so far.  That kind of motivation burns too brightly and quickly flames out.  What we need is a generation married to the earth.  Only love can last a lifetime and it will take us many lifetimes to heal our earth.  So, consider all the facts, and do all the right stuff.  Follow all of the “green” tips.  Be responsible. 

BUT don’t forget to walk or bike when travel distances are short not because you’ll save energy, but because you’ll notice your neighborhood.  Take a trip to the wilderness if you can.  Revel in its goodness.  Stroll around your block and get to know your corner of the world better rather than staring at images on a screen.  Get intimate with the earth we share so that we’ll love it enough to do right by it.  Be joyful!  The world is a gift for you.      

Tags: green, Josh
Post date: Wednesday, May 2, 2012 - 9:33am

Solar Panels

Thinking back a few years, at a time I was temporarily residing with my parents in Florida, I remember my father confronting me with a request to clean and maintain the solar panels on the roof of their house. I had definitely heard of solar panels before, as an advantageous effort to conserve energy and increase energy efficiency, but never would have guessed that my parents would be proprietors in owning them. At the time, solar power to me resembled a futuristic endeavor of conserving energy that was still light years away. Nevertheless, there they were; occupying one half of the roof as the primary energy source to heat my parents’ pool. I also soon discovered that, not only were my parents utilizing solar power as a heating source, they had also purchased solar-powered, outdoor lights to illuminate the exterior of their house and the pathway leading up to their front door.

            Now, having moved back to the Midwest, I realize that solar power might not be the most desirable and effective approach to conserving energy here. However, there are many other ways and sources of energy in which we might find to be beneficial – one of them being wind power. Being located in a close proximity to Lake Michigan, isn’t it possible to successfully utilize the lake effect winds as an alternative energy source? Just think of the possibilities!

                                            

                                                   James Norris, Lead Custodian