Wednesday, August 29, 2012

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie

Have you ever read the book  If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff?  It's one of my favorite kid books because I can relate to it so much! Read on to see why...

Following a recent teenage get together at our house, I was putting away some serving trays and bowls in the dining room buffet, but the drawers were cramped.  Soooo, I took the opportunity to clean out the drawer to make things fit neatly; the things that we rarely use, or never use, went into a donation box, which of course is much greener than the dumpster.  I repeated the process for the remainder of the drawers....which meant recycling some mostly spent birthday and scented candles into firestarters.  Which lead me to the laundry room to my lint collection basket, and recycled cardboard egg cartons, which I stopped to fill with the lint and candle pieces.  Wah-la, firestarters!

While I was in the laundry room, I spied a bunch of cook books that I had placed on top of the dryer...I had moved these cookbooks from cabinet above the microwave because there were too many crammed into the hard to reach cabinet.  The kids could never fit the cookbooks back in the cabinet because they can't reach, and because there were too.  Soo, to resolve that problem, I culled through the cookbooks so they'd fit neatly in the cabinet, and added a few to the growing donation pile.  I was wracking my brain to figure out a new location for some of hubby's specialty cookbooks.

As I was trying to figure out a good home for the overflow cookbooks, it dawned on me that there were a few of hubby's cookbooks on another nearby bookshelf.  So, in typical If You Give a Mouse a Cookie fashion, I went to the bookcase to see if the overflow cook books would fit.  Well, you may have guessed that this lead me to sort through the dusty, kid's books that have been taking up space on the bookshelf (my kids have outgrown the books).  Many of the kid books are books I cherish and want to keep for future grandchildren.  So, during the course of the day I went through the books with each of the kids to see if there were any they also considered keepers.  This process resulted in 3 piles of books: books to share with our cousins; the keepers that needed to be moved to a new location; and a pile of books to swap.  If you haven't heard of, you should check it out.  It's a site to swap books, housewares, and much more with others who want to keep things out of the landfill, but receive something useful in return.

So the kids' books were cleared out, and the overflow cookbooks now filled that space...but you guessed it...this little Mouse now had to find a home for the kid's books that we wanted to keep, which lead me upstairs to a bookshelf with a collection of kid books, including the Little House on the Prairie series, a bunch of picture books, and classics.  Sooo, to fit this batch of keepers, I had to delete an equal amount of books that were already shelved there.  Which lead me to add to the 2 remaining piles;  books for cousins, and books. 

Since the downstairs bookshelves were being reorganized, I figured we should continue with the second we cleaned out the collection of movies, deleted some, and vacuumed the shelves.  Some of the movies went to the donate pile, some of the movies went to the pile, and the rest were neatly replaced in the shelves. 

But wait, there’s more!  My Mouse experience wasn't over just yet.  I headed back to the laundry room.  There were still some bowls and things to fit back into the laundry room pantry…which was a mess.  I stood staring at it for a minute, and a light bulb went off that I might be able to consolidate all baking pans, pie plates, cake pans, specialty shape cake pans, etc. under one of the large cabinets in the laundry room.  It took me awhile to figure out what to keep, and how to best organize the odd shaped pans such as bundt pan, snowflake and heart shaped pans, special muffin tins, etc.  As I took items from the pantry, and stacked them neatly in the cabinet, I realized that there was still another weird shaped pan...and then I found another half sheet cake pan.  I culled a bunch of cookie cutters that we no longer use and added them to the pile for our cousins, creating space for the pans.  Removing the baking pans from the pantry created space for the food processor, potato slicer, the Pampered Chef mandolin slicer, crock pot, large bowls, etc all on one shelf in the pantry.  Eventually I turned my attention to the very top shelf of the pantry, and as I reorganized it, I kept thinking that I needed to make things easily accessible because since the top shelf is tough to reach, and I didn't want things falling down on us.  Sooo, I took the opportunity to toss some more things into the donate pile. 

Cleaning out the pantry lead me to my computer to email my Mom with a few questions about a few of the items I was removing from the pantry.  Did she want them?  If not, they could be swap items, or donate items.  The day continued in this fashion, but in the end I felt like I accomplished a lot by decluttering several cabinets and drawers, removing and donating boxes and bags full of items we don't need and/or use while simultaneously keeping all those useful things out of the landfill. 

So in the event that you have one of those clean-out days that doesn't turn out the way you planned, and it evolves into a If You Give a Mouse a Cookie kinda day, do your best to keep it green!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Does anyone remember the funny Staples commercial?  It makes me smirk every time, and now  at Christmas when I hear the original tune, I think of the commercial ;)

Well, the "most wonderful time of year" when the kids head back to school and hit the books, is just a few days away.  So why not send them back with a few eco-friendly school supplies?  One of my favorite green pens is the Pilot Bottle 2 Pen or B2P.  It's the "world's first pen made from recycled bottles", writes nice and smooth, and the kids can brag that they are using a pen made from 89% post-consumer recycled plastic bottles.   

It's hard to believe but my youngest is about to begin his last year of elementary school.  A few things almost all elementary school teachers ask children to bring are crayons, colored pencils, and markers to school.  For years my top pick has been Crayola.  Not only do I like Crayola's products, but I'm thrilled with their green initiatives.  Crayola is committed to using renewable energy, reducing waste, and "helping protect the environment, so children have a cleaner, greener planet".   Crayola's initiative to harness the power of the sun, and build a 30,000 panel solar farm on 20-acres of it's land is impressive.  According to Crayola, the panels produce enough power to make 1 billion Crayola crayons and 500 million markers a year.  Not only are their markers made with solar power, but they are manufactured with re-ground plastic scrap from marker production.  Although the entire marker is not recyclable, the #5 plastic caps can be recycled, and if the tip and reservoir are removed, the marker barrels can also be recycled.  Finally, Crayola's colored pencils are never made from endangered or rainforest wood, but are made from reforested wood; for every tree used, another of the same kind is planted. 

When it comes to paper, there are many eco-friendly options as well.  Staples sells Eco-friendly composition books and wirebound notebooks made with 80% sugarcane waste and printed with "eco-conscious vegetable-and-water based inks."  Other options, available at Target are the trendy and cute Greenroom products made with soy inks and recycled paper; recycled paper notebooks, recycled 3-ring binders, tree-free notebooks made from banana paper, recycled file folders, and recycled journals.

Even pencils, a staple for the school-bound, are now more eco-friendly.  For precision pencils, there are Pentel EnerGize-X Mechanical pencils made of 84% recycled plastic and making them more eco-friendly is the fact that they are refillable.  For traditional pencils think "green"...not only are the Paper Mate Earth Write pencils green on the outside, but they are also green on the inside and made with 100% recycled wood.

So send them back with some guilt free eco-friendly products and as they board the bus and you wave good-bye, go ahead and smirk as "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year" commercial plays in your head.