Sunday, September 29, 2013


The urban dictionary defines a Maxxinista as a person who shops at the discount designer department store TJ Maxx, and one who finds unique and original designer items at discount prices.

Well, I am proud to say I'm a Eco-Maxxinista ;)  Recently I was delighted to find more glassware from the same company that made the recycled pitcher I'd found awhile back  When I spied the familiar packaging and pretty green hued tumblers at my local TJMaxx/Homegoods, my inner Eco-Maxxinista grinned from ear to ear, and I had to buy them.  I'm attempting to claim them as" Mom only" glassware, but unfortunately the family seems to like them as much as I do.  They are a pale green glass, a nice hefty weight, and my favorite part is the imprint, "Authentic 100% Recycled Glass."

The only drawback to being an Eco-Maxxinista is that typically TJMaxx/Homegoods only has 1 or 2 items, and sadly this was the case with these beautiful glasses.  At least the 1 package that I found contains 4 tumblers.  Of course I needed to know more about the company, and searched the internet with the few clues I could find on the plain, minimalist, eco-friendly corrugated cardboard packaging  ("made in Spain", "San Miguel," 2 recycled symbols, and "Authentic 100% Recycled Glass.").   I was able to find The Recycled Glassware Company, and found the tumblers too  But you can't beat the Maxxinista prices, so I'll be sure to peek around in the glassware section next time I'm in need of some eco-retail therapy ;)

Monday, September 23, 2013

Dirt cheap

photo courtesy of
I know, it's been awhile, but did you really think you'd heard the last from me?  Come on, you know I love to dish the dirt!  Here's a riddle for you...

What do eggs shells, coffee grounds, cucumber skins, banana peels, apple cores, nut shells, and grass clippings have in common?

Well they make great organic "green" additions to the compost pile. Greens are rich in nitrogen, and are usually wet or moist.  Eliminating organic items from our trash and landfills, then turning them into "black gold" or gorgeous rich soil is a sustainable, dirt cheap way improve soil quality and feed your plants and/or lawn. 

Besides the free "greens" that often originate from the kitchen or yard clippings, you will need to layer in "browns" or carbon sources that provide energy, prevent compaction, and increase airflow.  Since browns are dryer, they help absorb moisture and decrease odors, which helps eliminate critters from visiting the compost pile.  So where do you get browns?  I'm willing to bet you have lots of "browns" that can also be saved from the trash.   Do you have a paper shredder?  If so, you can add the shredded paper to your compost.  How about newspapers, wood ash from your fire pit, dryer lint, or sawdust?  And everyone has toilet paper tubes or cardboard egg cartons that can be ripped up and added to the compost.  And most notably at this time of year, the beautiful leaves that drift to the ground need to be raked, make a wonderful addition to your compost pile.  It always makes me shake my head when I see black plastic trash bags full of leave out at the curb.  Don't they have any space to compost?  Do they not know how?  Could they take the leaves to their DPW?  The leaves should be decomposing naturally, replenishing the soil somewhere, not taking up space in a landfill encased in plastic bags.  Browns are an important part of the composting process because they slow the composting process and feed good bacteria.

Some people favor compost bins that can be purchased for big bucks, but it's not necessary to buy a
bin.  Growing up, I remember taking the compost out to the very simply constructed "bins" made from galvanized wire fencing that was fashioned into a circle and supported by green fencing posts.  Or how about constructing a "bin" out of found or free materials such as 4-5 pallets.  Simply nail or screw them together creating a square enclosure, with or without a bottom.  There are also plenty of plans on the internet.  Or if you aren't the handy sort, you can compost  "in place" if you desire.  In the past, we've had a section within our garden that was left fallow, and we composted directly in that area.  A side perk of that method was that the following summer we had a cantaloupe plant grow, and we enjoyed the melons late in the summer!    

Although taking the compost out has never been one of the favorite chores in the household, we continue to compost even during the winter months.  Deep within the compost bin, millions of micro-and macro- organisms such as good bacteria and worms are hard at work breaking down the greens and browns.  Along with the greens and browns that you supply, air and moisture are also necessary.  In our yard, the bin stays warm and steam resulting from decomposition can often be seen in the colder months.  Even if we can get the pitchfork into the bin to cover over the latest offerings, we can place shredded paper on top, or allow it to freeze until the weather warms.  The soil that has resulted over the years is wonderful rich, organic soil that we use in our vegetable and flower gardens.  

As the saying goes, you have to eat a peck of dirt before you die, so why not give composting a try?  Eliminate huge amounts of organics and paper products from your trash, enhance your soil quality and enjoy the benefits of free, new soil, and just think's dirt cheap!