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Greening Steps

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I saved the best for last in this series on up, down, and pre-cycling. Have you been grocery shopping lately? Do you pay attention to the packaging that items come in? In the last 20 years, many of the products you find at the grocery store, and elsewhere, have seen a growing amount of packaging added.

 

Why? Who knows for sure but I have a few guesses.

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Last week I was talking about what it means to up-cycle, and this week I wanted to explore down-cycling. As it turns out, I probably should have started with down-cycling because it isn't as cool and glamorous as up-cycling.

 

So, now that we all have discovered the awesome projects and cool things we can do with materials to up-cycle them; let's see what down-cycle means. Many of us have been down-cycling for a while and just didn't know the new-fangled term for it. Down-cycling means to take a product or material and turn it into something of lesser value, and in some cases, compromise the integrity of the material so that it can't be turned back into the original product.

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Up-cycling explained

In my next few entries I will explore these terms we are so often hearing nowadays. First, the newest term I have heard lately is "Up-cycle". I literally had to look up what this means since all of the ideas and pictures I am sent of cool new up-cycle projects seem, to me, like reusing.

 

In short, up-cycling is reusing; just a little more fancy. The true definition from www.planetpals.com is "Up-cycling is the process by which waste materials are used to provide new, high quality products." So I think what has been done here is splitting the idea of reuse into two forms: up-cycle and down-cycle.

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After my first year being a parent I have realized something. It isn't easy being green when it involves children. If you have a child and you have tried to be green in the raising of that child, you know what I mean.

 

When I was pregnant I tried to eat more organic food and to use only organic and natural products. I vowed to only feed my baby organic foods and use natural products for him as well. And I think I haven't done too badly so far. Here is the run-down on the basics for your green baby.

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You may have heard in the news about the latest city to enact a "bag ban". Why and what is the big deal? I must say that before a few months ago, I didn't realize the huge problem that plastic bags cause. We have all seen them caught in trees and fences and blowing across the road to get caught in a farmer's field or flow down a stream. But, did you know that plastic bag litter is the second largest ocean litter material? It is only surpassed by cigarette butts.

 

The problem with these bags stems from their ability to float away in the air and in the water. They don't degrade very quickly at all, taking roughly 450 years in water and 1,000 years on land.

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My husband works for his father at the family business in town. He has always been adamant about shopping at local businesses and supporting the local economy and really pushes that with anyone he comes in contact with. I was not the local shopper type when I met him and found this a little annoying. "Seriously, you're telling me I have to go to 4 different places for my groceries and other things I need?", I would say. His argument is that the lifeline of the community is the local business. Over the years, I have come to love the local businesses and make it a point to shop there, even if it costs more, and even if I have to go to several different places for the things I need.

 

But, why? Why would anyone do this if super center big-box stores have everything you need in one place? Or you could shop online and not have to go anywhere at all. I decided to do a little digging and find out what this local lifeline is and if it really makes a difference.

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As the 4th of July holiday nears and everyone is gearing up for parties and barbeques, I would like to take a minute to reflect on the history of recycling in this country. Recycling isn't a new idea brought on by the "Green Revolution". America was made stronger through re-use and recycling. Don't believe me? Just take a look at wartime efforts.

 

 

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I recently had the pleasure of throwing a party at my home for my son's first birthday. We all know a first birthday party is really for the parents to celebrate keeping their sanity during the first year, but I digress. I have thrown many parties before, so I am a seasoned veteran of most green things you can do for a party. For example: I have washable plastic plates, reusable silverware, re-usable table cloths, recycle bins, drinks that are served in re-usable glasses, and other beverages that come in recyclable containers. Rarely is there much waste at a party at my house.

 

Now, did I mention that this birthday party was HUGE? I have never had 65 people at my house for a party before. Nor did I ever have to figure in the catering fiasco. Does the chicken really have to come in a paper box that I can't recycle due to grease? Why does the shredded beef have to be shrink-wrapped in plastic? And don't forget the "mom factor". This refers not to me but to my mom who can find a way to get involved in anything. She did find some awesome pop-up recycle bins that we were able to use in various places in the yard and garage (and are reusable for future parties I might add). But she also wanted heavy duty paper plates, plastic silverware, and way more paper napkins than I will use in a lifetime.

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These days everyone is trying to get you to implement their "easy steps to success" for multiple things. I am not here to tell you how to be perfect in any way or to tell you that you need x, y, or z to be successful in life or love. My goal is simple. I want to offer a glimpse into the life of a self –proclaimed "greenie" to share stories of the complexities and struggles in my everyday greenish life. I hope that I can share some fun, insight, and ideas that you can take with you and share with others and to share your stories with me. I call this blog Greening Steps because that is what it is. This is a way for us to take steps forward that are more sustainable. Like babies taking their first steps of freedom, we can get up and take small steps toward greening our lives. We may stumble and fall but ultimately, we are going somewhere. Maybe we don't quite know exactly where that is, but we can continue taking baby steps to get us there.

   


Recycling creates 1.1 million U.S. jobs, $236 billion in gross annual sales and $37 billion in annual payrolls.

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