Word to Your Mother E

helping family relations since 2008

Upcycling October 16, 2008

Filed under: recycling — Katie @ 8:47 pm
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Click here to take a look at a few possible ways to upgrade your old recyclables.  It’s a fun reminder of the old adage “one woman’s trash is another woman’s treasure,” proving that your own creativity is the only limit to what you can do with your home recyclables. 

The site offers 16 different ways you can take your old clothes, milk bottles and paper towels and turn them into household objects so useful, you’ll wonder how you ever threw them away in the first place. 

One of my personal favorites is the use of hole-y clothes as wrapping paper.  Your favorite t-shirt has way too many memories to just toss .. it’s perfect for wrapping carefully thought-out gifts for only your most favorite people. 

Don’t forget toothbrushes melted slightly into bracelets.. they were all the rage in high school, and just enough time has gone by that it’s not too early to bring them back.  Fo sho.

This site helps to reinforce that your own creativity is the only limit to everything you can do with old recyclables.

This site helps to reinforce that your own creativity is the only limit to everything you can do with old recyclables.


Compost 101 October 1, 2008

Filed under: recycling — Katie @ 11:01 am
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Trash Trivia: in 1979, there were 18,500 landfills in the U.S., just waiting to be filled.  By 1995, it’s estimated that only 3,000 were available.  The average American throws away 4.5 lbs of trash a day. Every year we fill enough garbage trucks to form a line that would stretch from the earth, halfway to the moon!  (according to the Cass County Solid Waste Management District in Indiana)

How can you reduce your landfill impact?  Simple. Compost

Composting involves the process of turning your useless, organic leftovers (shrubbery, leaves, food) into a fertilizing mixture, just ready to improve the quality of your garden.  When plant waste decays, it releases the same chemicals found in fertilizer.. which is what your compost should look like when it’s ready to use.  


Here’s how you do it: 

1. Start keeping a separate bowl in your kitchen for food items you would otherwise throw away (leftovers, banana peels, egg shells, coffee grounds, etc.)  Also start saving dead plant waste from your yard.  

2. Pick out a bin big enough for your compost, and layer these two products in a 2:1 ratio … 2 parts green waste (like food products, green leaves, grass clippings), 3 parts brown waste (dead leaves, sawdust, cardboard, etc.)

3.  Moisture is essential.. put enough water in your bin so that when you pick up a green waste item, you should be able to wring it out like a sponge.  Often, water will make up 40 – 60 % of your bin. (Keep this in mind as you start layering.)  If you feel like you’ve overmoisturized, you can always add more brown waste to balance out the mixture. 

4.  Mix this pile once or twice a week to help aerate it.  This can involve dumping it out and putting the mixture back in or simply stirring it up (which can take a lot of muscle).  The more you turn your  mixture, the less it will smell like decomposing compost. 

5.  When your compost is ready for fertilization, it will literally look just like dirt – you shouldn’t be able to identify the contents of your compost.  Pour over your plants or vegetable gardens, and reap the benefits! 


Composting is a great way to reduce your impact on landfills.

Composting is a great way to reduce your impact on landfills.

Suggestions: Aeration is an important part to the decomposition stage, so leave this bin outside in your backyard where it can get lots of oxygen.  On a similar note, the more surface area that has contact with oxygen, the faster it will decompose, which may impact your storage bin.

There are a few questions you should ask yourself if you are unsure whether to throw something in your compost bin: is it biodegradable?  Did it come from a chemical-free lawn?  Does it have any contaminants, diseases or toxins that could make me sick?  If your answers lead you to think the substance might in any way be harmful, do NOT put it in your compost bin … dispose of it in with your household trash. 

 Some microorganisms can cause your compost to steam in colder temperatures.  Don’t worry about this!  Colder temperatures slow down decomposition, but it still happens. 

Grain-based items, like bread and pasta, and newspapers don’t decompose as quickly as other items, so they get really slimy and may potentially slow down your rate of compost.  Jump on curbside recycling to toss out your newspapers instead. 

Another composting method involves adding worms to your bin (along with slightly different steps) to speed up the process. 


For anyone with rose gardens, break open your used tea bags and sprinkle the grounds around the roots.. trust me, your mother will appreciate the results.  Enjoy!


Streamline recycling September 22, 2008

Filed under: recycling — Katie @ 2:43 am
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Beginning in October, Austin is going to try a new method of recycling.. your small blue recycling bins will be replaced with huge, blue 90-gallon recycling bins!  Residents will be able to throw all their recyclable paper, cardboard, boxboard, cans, plastic (numbers 1-7) and glass in a single container, instead of sorting it into separate bins for your local recycling person. 

Even though people may have tried to recycle them before, this is the first time curbside recycling can accommodate ordinary paper, such as junk mail, and boxboard, such as food container boxes.  When this takes affect, and all 90-gallon recycling bins have been distributed, the city will stop picking up recycling in small blue bins.

On a recycling side note, while water bottles are made from #2 plastic, the caps are made from a different, harder plastic.  At this time, the city doesn’t have the means to reuse these caps, which means they are not recyclable.  Taking off the caps before you recycle your bottles will speed up the process at recycling plants (and it’s a nice thing to do).  Perhaps this is an opportunity to test your creativity as you try to find a use for any extra caps you have floating around?


A bright idea September 13, 2008

Filed under: recycling — Katie @ 2:29 pm
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Energy aficionados have been hailing the creation of the compact fluorescent light bulb as a way to save energy, and money, in your homes.  And they are.  The only trouble is that they work, in part, based on mercury, which can be a major hazard if disposed of improperly.  What’s a homeowner supposed to do?!


Up until recently, it’s been nearly impossible to find recycling centers for these bulbs.  Places like Ikea are sometimes wiling to take on the bulbs, and Wal-Mart occasionally designates a recycle day.  All that changed when at the end of this summer, Home Depot announced that it will take any C.F.L. at all their locations as a free service, and a means of proper disposal.

According to a Home Depot press release, “if every American switched out one incandescent bulb to a CFL, it would prevent more than 600 million in annual energy costs and prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions from 800,000 cars.”


It’s been estimated that there’s a Home Depot within 10 miles of 75% of homes across the U.S., leaving customers with almost no reason not to switch to these energy savers.