Posts tagged ‘shopping’
Before embarking upon their next scholastic adventure, back-to-school shopping has become a rite of passage for many students and parents. Based on the estimate that Americans will spend $68 billion on back-to-school supplies in 2011, it seems this time of year is a favorite of both students and retailers who benefit greatly from the annual tradition.
However, a new school year doesn’t have to mean new everything. While some new purchases are necessary, others might be avoided by simply reusing, repurposing or renovating existing supplies — a little creativity can go a long way. Here are some ideas to save money and minimize our environmental impact.
1. Start with a Plan – Determine ahead of time which items are “want” and which are actually “need.” Many schools distribute supply lists. Consult the list to determine the necessary supplies and check to see if you may still have some from last year. And remember, if an extra item is needed during the school year, the stores will still be there.
2. Search for Green Items – The selection of environmentally-friendly writing instruments has never been greater. Biodegradable pencils and refillable pens are great options for students. Recycled pencils and pens are also relatively easy to find. Encouraging your student to use these types of items can help them begin to think more green themselves. Also, look for notebooks, folders and paper made with recycled content.
3. Get the Green Look – A large portion of money and resources spent on going back to school is dedicated to clothes. Why not take a look at thrift stores for great bargains at discount prices? Also, search for quality items that will last throughout the school year instead of the less expensive versions that you may have to buy again during the year, such as backpacks. Next, consider clothing with organic cotton if it is available. This option has seen explosive growth in the last few years and is easier than ever to find.
4. Eat your Greens – Lunches are a perfect opportunity for everyone to reduce their impact on the planet. Ditch the over-packaged snacks and lunch kits in favor of fresh fruits, veggies and lunches that are brought in reusable containers. Greener lunches are not only better for kids, but also for the environment.
Learn more about easy, green actions that you can practice every day.
Recent studies say the average shopper spends close to an hour and a half when they visit their local mall. While wandering the corridors on the weekend, they may try on a few clothes, wander through isles of books or grab a slice of pizza or cup of coffee at the food court. On March 12, shoppers in Tallahassee can add protecting the planet to their to-do list for their lazy Saturday.
For the second year, the Department of Environmental Protection’s Easy As One team will be on hand outside the Governor’s Square Mall to give shoppers three easy opportunities to do their part to protect the environment. First from 10 a.m. to noon, free paper shredding and recycling will be offered to help citizens properly dispose of documents they may want securely shredded and responsibly recycled. Second, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. the Easy As One team will collect working and nonworking cell phones and chargers for proper recycling, and third, partnering with A Bags Life campaign, they will be collecting all retail plastic bags for recycling.
Even shopaholics who venture outside to the Easy As One collection site can learn just how easy it is for each one of us to make sustainable choices. Those who participate in the cell phone and retail plastic bag recycling will receive a day pass to any Florida State Park or a reusable bag for those days not spent window shopping for new shoes.
Hundreds of years hence, archaeologists will be digging through our middens to find clues about our culture.
Checking out our trashed magazines, they’ll conclude that ours was a culture obsessed with eating and losing weight (eight of the top ten best selling magazines in the US include recipes, dieting tips, or both). Judging by paper wrappings and bags in the landfill, they’ll assume that fast food restaurants were a primary food source that provided an excellent diet full of nutrients and anti-oxidants since images on our magazine covers indicate robust health.
In addition to paper, archaeologists will find food scraps, medications, French Roast coffee grounds, bottles and cans. They’ll find plastic. They’ll wonder why we harvested pet by-product and preserved it for all eternity in a plastic bag.
Excavators will uncover baubles and trinkets, chicken bones and shards of clutter that we bought and then discarded with the change in the fashion season.
Future archaeologists will find metals such as aluminum and steel, and wonder why we buried it again after having gone through all the trouble and cost of mining it in the first place. “What were they thinking?” they’ll ask and feature 20th-Century-born humans on their equivalent of History’s Mysteries.
This shopping season, I intend to reduce the clues I leave in our landfills. I won’t buy clutter or items that go directly into the trash can. Garbage can liners have been crossed off my shopping list. Since I haven’t figured out what to do with chicken bones (can’t compost them, can’t feed them to the dog) I won’t buy chicken bones either. I should probably cross spinach off the list as well, since it only detours to the crisper (where it goes quietly brown) on its way to the trash can. My new year’s resolution: make a list and check it twice before I add an item to my shopping cart.
- Check your buying habits. Pass up the Buy One, Get One sales if you don’t need two. Or, Buy One, Give One to someone else who needs a 100-count bottle of aspirin.
- Check the clutter factor of items before you buy them. Will the item end up in the garage or back of a closet before Spring Cleaning time comes ‘round? Resist the urge to buy another holiday coffee mug set, even if it is marked down 75 percent.
- Check the expiration date. Don’t buy anything you can’t use before it expires.
- Check the label. When practical, buy products made with recycled content. Some companies make common kitchen items such as cutting boards and cooking utensils with bamboo (a renewable resource) or recycled plastic.
- Check the packaging. If a favorite two-ounce jar of hide-the-wrinkles eye cream comes with two pounds of packaging, check to see if the packaging is recyclable.
- Check the pantry and refrigerator before you grocery shop. Maybe you already have cream of mushroom soup that you impulsively added to your cart at the last Buy One, Get One sale back in September.
- Check the Web. Find out where to recycle almost anything (old appliances I’m replacing with energy-efficient models, tech toys I’m upgrading, those skinny jeans I’ll never wiggle into again, that stationary bike that hasn’t moved in two years, holiday coffee mug sets) at Earth 911.
Summer is vacation time. Time to pack up, head out, cook out, sleep in or stay home and lounge about. But mostly, summertime is about staying cool. Fortunately, finding ways to stay cool and still stay green is easy.
Call 511 to avoid traffic jams due to construction or accidents. Idling gets ZERO miles per gallon. For every two minutes a car is idling, it uses about the same amount of fuel, it takes to travel one mile. Besides being annoying, traffic jams potentially increase the number of times you hear, “Are we there yet?”
More than 630 green lodging options, including cabins in several state parks, provide sleep over accommodations throughout Florida. Designated Green Lodging facilities implement sustainable practices in several areas of operations: communication and education about sustainability to their employees and guests, waste reduction, reuse and recycling, water conservation, energy efficiency, indoor air quality and transportation. While you’re there, don’t forget to turn out the lights when you leave your room.
Summertime crops are ripe. Tomatoes, cucumbers, summer squash, corn, butterbeans, peaches, peppers, blackberries or honeydews make tasty additions to any meal. According to the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service, produce travels more than 1,500 miles before it gets to your table. Shop at a nearby farmers market for the best taste of the season and to reduce fuel waste and emissions from long-distance shipping.
While you’re catching summer sales—in the market or in the mall—don’t forget to take reusable bags for your purchases.
Barbecues are another way to keep heat out of the kitchen and your A/C from working overtime. Skewer fresh local veggies to grill along with your favorite meat or seafood for a tasty meal that’s healthy for you and for the environment.
Boating is another cool summer activity. An ocean, a gulf, bays, lakes, rivers and streams provide endless opportunities to catch a breeze. Florida’s one million registered boats provide one million opportunities for boaters to protect water quality and the quality of our aquatic lifestyle, both at the dock and on the water. Bring trash and recyclables back to the dock for proper disposal. Florida’s 222 Clean Marinas, 33 Clean Boatyards and 11 Clean Marine Retailers make it easy. And, please, use pumpouts. Tonight’s seafood platter comes from the waters we sail today.
While you’re casting for the catch of the day, don’t forget to reel in and properly dispose of that tangled mess that started out as fishing line. The fine art of knotting doesn’t belong it the water. Many public fishing spots, the fishing platforms along the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail for example, provide receptacles for monofilament gone awry. If you’re fishing from a boat, bring your tangled webs back to the dock for proper disposal.
Pack a waste-free picnic and head to your favorite swimming hole, shady green space or back yard for some cool-down down time. Pack food in reusable containers. Take along reusable plates, cups, cutlery and cloth napkins.
Save money and reduce waste with a smarter water. Instead of buying bottled or canned beverages, punch up a pitcher of water with berries, mango or watermelon slices for flavor and nutrition.