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Archive for the ‘recycling’ tag

June 30th, 2014 at 12:19 pm

Teaching Kids About Recycling


We all think about the future and what will be left for our children or grandchildren to deal with. According to the EPA, Americans produce about 4.3 pounds of waste per person, per day. For a family of four, that is over 6,000 pounds of waste each year! About one third of this can be recycled or composted. Are you throwing paper, glass, plastic and metal into the trash? Think about and teach your kids to recycle these items!

An easy way to teach kids to recycle is to create an area in your home with different colored bins. Place tags or identifying pictures on the containers so your children can recognize them and what materials should go in each one. Encourage them to recycle cans and make a plan for how to use the money you’ll get when turning these items in! Consider creating a recycling savings jar to save up for a special family treat.

Take a field trip to your local recycling center. Show your child how the different materials are collected and recycled. Take about how not recycling items can impact the environment, and what items need to be recycled separately, like computers, batteries, lightbulbs, and old medicines.

The more your children understand about recycling, the more likely they are to make it a habit.  Check out some of the online recycling games below:

Ollie’s World

Meet the Greens

My Garbology


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April 18th, 2012 at 7:12 am

Happy Earth Day!

April 22, 2012 marks the 42 observance of Earth Day, originally founded as a protest movement in 1970 by Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin. 20 million Americans participated in that first Earth Day.

Today, concerns about the environment continue to grow and young mothers are key players in the new Green Economy, interested in sustainability, as well as organic and green products.

As moms we worry about our children’s future and taking care of their home planet. It can be overwhelming trying to raise green families. Luckily, technology is stepping in and maybe this list of green apps will help (it even includes a kids’ app based on the new movie version of The Lorax).

Our biggest responsibility, however, is to teach our kids to become protectors of the Earth. Earth Day is a great place to start, and I always start with books. The watchwords for all budding ecologists are reduce, reuse, and recycle. Here are a couple of my favorite picture books on these Earth-Day friendly topics:

The Smash-Smash Truck by Aidan Potts is all about recycling, and the author has a really fun webpage about it, complete with coloring pages and smashing sound effects.

The Dumpster Diver by Janet S. Wong takes reusing to the extreme, but kids love it and it’s bound to spark a lot of creativity.

And speaking of creative ideas, Earth Day is a great time to start a homemade craft box. Most kids love crafting and there are plenty of materials around the house ready for artful repurposing. Find and decorate a big shoebox (I recommend one for each child). Then go on a family treasure hunt to fill it with crafty items like:

  • broken crayons
  • buttons, zippers, and ribbons from old clothes
  • fabric and paper scraps
  • old greeting cards (lots of great images to cut out and reuse)
  • empty toilet paper rolls
  • lids from bottles and jars
  • stray game pieces
  • paper clips, rubber bands, odd bits of string

There’s no end to the goodies you can find, and this project will keep going and growing long after Earth Day. Then, on the next rainy day, a quick Internet search will lead you to tons of recycled craft project ideas.

Since I’m the resident animal blogger, I can’t resist the opportunity to talk about the world’s foremost recycler: worms. Vermicomposting is a cool way to lower your family’s carbon footprint by composting non-fatty kitchen scraps. You can make or purchase pre-made worm bins (complete with worms); it’s a great family project. If you’re not quite ready to jump into full-fledged vermicomposting, try this simple “worm castle” project to let your kids see how worms do their work.

And for a little background music, listen to Tom Chapin’s “Happy Earth Day” from his This Pretty Planet CD.

Image Credit: Blue Marble, NASA/NOAA/GSFC/Suomi NPP/VIIRS/Norman Kuring

Susan Bearman also writes at Two Kinds of PeopleMike&Ollie: 24-weekers Who Beat the Odds and The Animal Store Blogas well as being a regular contributor to The Chicago Moms and Technorati.

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February 29th, 2012 at 5:00 am

Pet Trends

Like all areas of life, there are trends in the pet industry. Some are worth exploring, while others are just hype, passing fancies, or even dangerous. I asked my resident pet specialist (and husband) about the trends he’s seeing.


Are you surprised by this one? I wasn’t either. But what do these claims mean, exactly? Just because a product claims to be “green”, doesn’t mean it is. Just because it says “natural”, doesn’t mean it’s best for your pet.

You can, however, reduce your pet’s carbon paw print. To make the most of this trend, look for products that will make a real environmental impact, not those looking for eco-friendly spin. Here are a few tips:

  • “Recycled” means at least part of the product is made from recycled materials. Several companies offer pet bedding and litter made of recycled materials.
  • “Recyclable” only means that the container or contents may be recyclable in your community, depending on local guidelines.
  • Look for the USDA Organic Seal on pet-product labels.
  • Buy toys and dishes that are BPA-free.

Animal Enrichment

Obesity is rampant in America, in people and pets. One key for keeping pets healthy is to keep them busy. Well-designed toys that engage your pets and make them work for their treats are hot, hot, hot in the pet industry. There are lots of food-puzzle toys available for most animals that require animals to use their natural instincts and energy to reach the reward inside.

Of course, nothing beats exercise. Play with your pet, provide a variety of toys, and rotate them frequently. Keeping your pet busy will help keep them healthy mentally and physically (with the added bonus that they will be less likely to look for trouble).

Complete Nutrition

There is a lot of talk in the about “raw” food for pets. Simply feeding your pet people food is not the answer. A quality, well-balanced diet is essential, especially to combat obesity. High-end pet-food manufacturers are stepping up to the challenge and creating balanced, pelleted food for animals.

It started in the avian industry, because birds are expert at picking out high-fat, tasty seeds and leaving the healthier foods behind. (Sounds like a few toddlers I know!) So manufacturers started using the meat from the seeds and combining them with other, healthier foods to create a complete, balanced diet. The movement has spread from birds to reptiles to all areas of the pet food industry. Talk to your vet about the best nutrition choice for your pet.

The One Trend to Avoid

Look out for trendy pets. Remember when Paris Hilton carried around her little Chihuahua? Whenever a hot movie comes out featuring some cute critter, unscrupulous breeders try to cash in, and overbreed or inbreed the animals to meet demand. Avoid these trends at all costs. Think about your family needs and talk to your local pet expert to find the animal that will be the best fit.

Related Picture Books

Fancy Nancy and the Posh Puppy by Jane O’Connor
The Lorax by Dr. Suess

photo credit: Fancy Sucre Dog by Hanumann via Creative Commons License.

Susan Bearman also writes at Two Kinds of PeopleMike&Ollie: 24-weekers Who Beat the Odds and The Animal Store Blogas well as being a regular contributor to The Chicago Moms and Technorati.

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January 3rd, 2012 at 5:00 am

In With The New Stuff – What Do We Do With The Old Stuff?

Happy New Year to you my readers. I hope that you had a wonderful holiday season, got everything you wished for, had lots of quality time with family, and are close to getting back to normal, whatever that is.

As we contemplate our resolutions, one of them likely involves cleaning up, getting rid of the clutter and starting out the year with a tidier, more organized home. I know it’s one of mine.

So as you incorporate the new gadgets, tech, and electronics into our households, there’s a good chance you have some old items that need to be repurposed, recycled, or better yet, sold.

Wouldn’t it be nice if someone contacted you and said “Let me take that off your hands, and by the way, here’s some money for it too.” My friends, there is someone who (almost) does just that. is a website that will buy back your good quality, used electronics, computers, gaming consoles, cell phones and the like.

Simply go to their website, browse or search for the make and model of the item you want to get rid of, indicate the condition the device is in and Gazelle will quote you a price. If it’s agreeable, simply ship them the item and the deal is done.

This is a really convenient service, especially for newer and popular items, say an iPad, which can be sold for around half of the original selling price. Older and obsolete technology, like my old iRiver mp3 player unfortunately has no resale value. However, I can ship it to Gazelle and they will recycle it responsibly for me. If you don’t have a local recycling center or a way to safely get rid of items that don’t belong in the landfill, this is a good alternative.

You might get more money selling the items at a tag sale, or on Craigslist or eBay, but each of those options requires much more effort on your part. Gazelle is an easy alternative. And while you may not get a lot for any one item, chances are you can collect a bunch of old devices and make a little money back.

It beats storing them in the basement and getting nothing for them.

And here’s an added plus. Do you have an organization that needs some funding, like you kids’ school? Through their Gazelle for Good program, you can organize a gadget drive through their website where people can donate the proceeds from their old devices to your organization. As an experienced PTO mom who has organized more than my share of fundraising events, this an excellent idea that’s worth trying out.

You can also find Paula on LinkedInFacebook and Twitter @techsmart319. Feel free to reach out if you have questions.

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