Spring into Action: Earth Day Activities

Earth Day Activities

There is no shortage of Earth Day Activities to help celebrate and preserve our beautiful Earth, especially with all this beautiful weather we’ve had. In honor of the beautiful weather and Earth Day right around the corner, I’ve compiled a list of Earth Day Activities.

There is no shortage of ways to spring into action. Help celebrate and preserve our beautiful Earth with this list of Earth Day Activities.

  1. Take Alternative Transportation

    As much as I like a quick car ride to work, it often serves as a barrier to me and my environment. There is so much we miss in the car. Taking a walk, riding a bike or even a bus can completely change the point of view. You might find a new restaurant, hang out place, even make new friends when you think outside the car. Plus, one less car on the road has amazing environmental benefits and health benefits.

  2. Have a Buy Nothing Month

    There are so many benefits to having a buy nothing month. From the mining or harvesting of resources, to pollution and working conditions of factories, capitalism is not the best thing for our Earth. An economy based on capitalism does our Earth a huge disservice and wreaks havoc on our pocket book. Being aware of what we buy and why we buy can put us in better position both financially and environmentally.

  3. Plant a Garden

    There are so many environmental and personal benefits to growing your own food. The average piece of produce travels over 3,000 miles to get to your plate. As the produce travels, it loses its nutrients and taste. There is nothing more delicious than a freshly picked peach, picked at just the right time, but there is no way to enjoy those benefits unless you grow your own. Plus, if you grow your own food, you get to control whether pesticides are used.

  4. Use Reusable Shopping Bags

    As Americans, we go through 100 billion plastic shopping bags every year, costing retailers about $4 billion dollars.

    There is a mindset that plastic bags are “free,” but not only do stores hide their cost in higher prices at the register, but also there is a cost for taxpayers of .17 cents per bag in pollution clean-up costs too. In the state of California alone, public agencies spend more than $25 million annually to manage plastic bag pollution.

    It’s easy to forget those reusable bags. I’ve gone to great lengths to make sure I never have an excuse to not use them. I put a set in my car’s truck, but some by the doors, so I can grab them as I leave, if I plan to walk.  Another solution is to get bags that fit easily in your purse, pocket or on your keychain, so I can have them at all times.

    Even without plastic bags, we still bring in tons of plastic items into our homes. To take this step to the next level, you can opt for plastic-shopping. Bring your own produce bags or bulk items sacks.

    There is no shortage of ways to spring into action. Help celebrate and preserve our beautiful Earth with this list of Earth Day Activities.

  5. Pick up Litter

    There is only a few times in life where you can have your cake and eat it too. What better Earth Day activities would there be than to make the Earth a cleaner and better place, while also enjoying the beauty of nature?

  6. Reduce Food Waste

    According to the USDA, Americans throw away 25 percent, 52 billion pounds, of the food they purchase.  During the holidays, it is estimated, we throw away three times during this time as much as we do the rest of the year. This one area you can definitely make a major dent in saving your family money and also helping our Earth.

    Food waste is an epidemic in America and probably in many of the other first world countries throughout the world. There are many reasons for this problem. Food is getting cheaper and cheaper, so now people tend to undervalue these products. Also, people are so far removed from where their food comes from and how much work goes into it that again, people undervalue their food.

     

    Get organized and start meal planning is one of the best ways to reduce food waste. You can also plan to trade leftovers and meals with family and friends, if you’ve bought too much or made too much for your family. Although it should be a last resort, you can also compost raw produce to help cut down on food waste.

  7. Set Goals

    Sit with the family and set specific goals to recycle and save energy- It’s often as easy as changing your light bulbs, adjusting the setting on your fridge, or making a routine trip to a nearby recycling bin.

  8. Switch to Non-Disposables

    Really, using single use products is just silly. I get so tired of seeing my apartment complex’s trash filled with single use plastic items, Styrofoam and paper products.

    I mean come on. Water bottles only contain FOUR cents worth of water and for what? There is more and more information being released that clearly says tap water is no worse than bottled water. Yet, Americans throw away 35 billion plastic bottles every year.  Only 25 percent of that plastic is recycled, but if we recycled the other 75% we could save 1 billion gallons of oil and 44 million cubic yards of landfill space annually. If you just HAVE to have bottled water, opt for gallon jugs or those huge reusable jugs for your bottled water needs.


    Here
    are some other great ways to drastically reduce your use of plastic and why these steps are so important.

    This doesn’t go for just bottled water. This also the case for Styrofoam. Styrofoam has a whole list of chemicals linked to all kinds of health problems that can be leached into your liquid, especially hot liquids like coffee. Plus, Styrofoam is virtually impossible to recycle or reuse.

    This is why a reusable bottle is one of the first changes you can make to help reduce the amount of trash you throw away.

  9. Contact

    And last, but not least, contact corporations, your local representative in congress, anybody who practices unsustainable. Ignore the first paragraph of this post and it has EXCELLENT info about why you should contact your congressperson and how to do it.

    Earth Day reminds us we all share the same planet. Sharing Earth means taking responsibility for what we use and how we use it. It is a day to think of the environmental challenges we face and how to solve them. Protecting Earth is every person’s and every country’s responsibility.

Looking for some other ways to celebrate spring? Check out these other posts!

How the Beauty of Spring Shows the Renewal of the Gospel – The Peculiar Treasure

DIY Spring Flower Pots with Patina Copper – Curbside Overhaul

How to Choose Plant Varieties in the Garden – Little Sprouts Learning Garden

Don’t forget to pin these Earth Day activities for later!

There is no shortage of ways to spring into action. Help celebrate and preserve our beautiful Earth with this list of Earth Day Activities.

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How to Make Plarn

Why Do I Make Plarn?

There are so many reasons, I love to make plarn and it’s one of my favorite upcycling projects.  I have mentioned it quite a few times in various posts, so today I’m actually going to show to make plarn.

Making plarn is one of my favorite upcycling projects. I've mentioned it quite a few times in various posts, so today I'm going to show to make plarn.

Plarn is plastic yarn made from plastic bags. The beauty of this activity is that you can find the medium for these projects literally anywhere.  If you talk to a crocheter, their eyes will light up when you talk about their yarn stash. Crocheting with plastic bags is the same way, but instead of going to the store, you can walk outside and see these little treasures. I can’t tell you how many times, I’ve been having a bad day, took a walk and found a plastic bag just waiting to be turned into a beautiful bag for the homeless. It’s affordable, easy to find resource and it helps both humans and the environment.

We cut up 36 bags, to make 576 yards of plarn to make one bag for someone in need.

I also think crocheting with plarn is important for environmental reasons. Every year, Americans reportedly throw away 100 billion plastic grocery bags.  The average American family takes home almost 1,500 plastic shopping bags a year. These bags are considered the American flag because they are found everywhere, wreaking havoc on plant and animal life. The local landfill pays a hefty fee to keep them cleaned up around the landfill. Of the bags that make it to the recycling programs, only 1 percent are recycled. They often clog the machine because they are so light weight.

Also, we make plarn often as a family activity- our whole family gets together for a ‘plarn making factory’.  Crocheting plarn is a win-win-win. It’s a win for the environment, it’s a win for you because it’s free and it’s a win for who ever you create the project for.

Materials Needed:

Plastic Bags
Scissors

Step 1: Prep

You can find inspiration for this project everywhere. Go on a walk, get your family involved on your treasure hunt. Once you’ve collected a few dozen plastic bags then lay them out flat, fold them in half and cut the seam at the bottom and the handles off the top.

Step 2: Fold

Once you have an open rectangle, you’re going to fold it almost in half, leaving about an inch uncovered at the top. Fold the bottom flap again in half, then once more, still leaving that inch at the top.

Step 2: Fold Once you have an open rectangle, you're going to fold it almost in half, leaving about an inch uncovered at the top. Fold the bottom flap again in half, then once more, still leaving that inch at the top.

Step 3: Cut the Strips

Cut 1 inch strips up to the top of those bottom folds, leaving the 1 inch seam uncut.

Step 4: Cut the Spiral

Unfold the strips and you’ll find what looks like a rib cage with that 1 inch seam unfolding like a spine to hold the ribs together. Put your arm through with that spine going length wise across your arm. Start to cut the space between the first loop and the second loop at an angle, such that you’re cutting from the top edge of the first loop to the top edge of the second loop, as shown in the photo.

Step 4: Cut the Spiral Unfold the strips and you'll find what looks like a rib cage with that 1 inch seam unfolding like a spine to hold the ribs together. Put your arm through with that spine going length wise across your arm. Start to cut the space between the first loop and the second loop at an angle, such that you're cutting from the top edge of the first loop to the top edge of the second loop, as shown in the photo.

Step 4: Cut the Spiral Unfold the strips and you'll find what looks like a rib cage with that 1 inch seam unfolding like a spine to hold the ribs together. Put your arm through with that spine going length wise across your arm. Start to cut the space between the first loop and the second loop at an angle, such that you're cutting from the top edge of the first loop to the top edge of the second loop, as shown in the photo.

Step 5: Crochet and Enjoy!

Hopefully you see how easy it is to make plarn! It’s easy and fun, get your friends involved and share the joy. Here are some other posts where I talk about my love for plarn!

Why I Love to Help Others

How to Find Your Beautiful Treasures

For the Love of Handmade

Don’t forget to pin these instructions for later!

Making plarn is one of my favorite upcycling projects. I've mentioned it quite a few times in various posts, so today I'm going to show to make plarn.

 

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Why I Love Helping Others

What is the Meaning of Life

There is nothing more important in the world than helping others. As humans, we’re always questioning the meaning of life, but taking care of our Earth, animals and our fellow humans is the only purpose that makes any sense. It’s good to enjoy our life with our family and friends, trying to make the most of our short time, but honestly, when our life is over, what is left?

Helping Others is Key

I’m not sure how others justify the pain in their life, but for me the one that makes it bearable is the idea that it might help someone else. There is a saying that when bad things happen, you can either break apart or break open. The first leaves us broken, shattered, and most likely in a place where hurting others is our only form of communication. The latter leaves us stretched – with a greater capacity to hold that which is still yet to come.

Holiday Project

I am fortunate that I came from a family that also encourages a life of helping others. In the times of hardship and trial, the mentality to reach out and help others instead of withdraw is more easily reached.

At our Christmas 2015 get together, our family decided instead of giving gifts, we would have contest to give gifts for the homeless. This contest criteria was based on creativity, portability and usefulness. Our family is gifted with a wide variety of gifts and talents, so I was super excited to see what everyone came up with.

My grandmother came up with a go-bag. She repurposed a leather bag she had and filled it with every kind of tool and kit a homeless person could need.

My mother used her talent of cooking, making 8 bags of food for her homeless contribution. The bags consisted of homemade banana bread and whole wheat bread and homemade peanut butter. The bread was packaged in a handy carrying case.

My aunt used repurposed jeans, shirts and pajamas to make a beautiful handmade quilt. Her entry ended up winning the competition.

I upcycled plastic bags, cutting into plarn. I used to the plarn and thrift store yarn to crochet bags, so the homeless could carry their goods in them. As much as I love to crochet, I’m pretty slow. I would have liked to make a lot more bags, but time just got away from me and I wasn’t able to keep up the pace. Plarn combines my joy for upcycling and crocheting, and this project was extra special because I got to share that joy and help others. It’s easy to find ways to help others without having to spend a lot of money or time.

Can’t get enough love? Check out what these other bloggers have to say about it!

Affordable Valentine Gift Ideas – House of Fauci’s
A Sign of Christ’s Love for Us – Curbside Overhaul

What gives meaning to life? Friends? Family? Money? Accomplishments? For me, it's all about helping others. Check out the article to find out why.

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10 Easy Steps to a Green New Year

How to Have a Green New Year

There are so many resolutions for a green new year.  Some people choose not to mess with resolutions at all because they know how difficult it is to actually follow through. Making a resolution, especially one to be more green, really doesn’t have to be hard. The trick is to narrow down that resolution to a specific goal and make a plan. It’s also not about overwhelming yourself with resolutions, this can also make it difficult to complete the resolution. Hopefully, this post will give you some ideas for baby steps for a green new year and once you conquer those, come back for the tips to step it up!

here are so many options for sustainable resolutions. If it seems a bit overwhelming, start with these 10 Easy Steps to a Green New Year.

1. Reusable shopping bags

As Americans, we go through 100 billion plastic shopping bags every year, costing retailers about $4 billion dollars.

Although people think plastic bags are “free,” not only do stores hide their cost in higher prices at the register, but plastic bags actually cost taxpayers .17 cents per bag in pollution clean-up costs too. In the state of California alone, public agencies spend more than $25 million annually to manage plastic bag pollution.

As far as sustainable efforts go, I’m sure this ranks high on everyone’s list for a green new year, but there is always one small problem. We can’t ever remember to bring them… This used to be a huge problem for me, but then I started shopping at Aldi’s. For those who haven’t experienced this joy, one of the many joys of Aldi’s is they charge extra for shopping bags. Generally, stores have the price of bags built into the cost of its products, but at Aldi’s they encourage you to bring your own bag or they’ll charge you extra to buy theirs. This practice helped me into the habit of bringing my own.

Tips

But for those, who don’t have an Aldi’s to remind them, having a routine that makes it easy to remember your bags is extremely important. I would recommend always having your bags put back in the car. If you have two cars that might end up with you at the store, then stock them both with your own bags. If it’s too much of a struggle to get the bags back to the car, maybe have a spot by the door to store them, so you can grab them as you go out.

Another solution is to get bags that fit easily in your purse, pocket or on your keychain, so you can have them at all times.

Step It UP

Even without plastic bags, we still bring in tons of plastic items into our homes. To take this step to the next level, you can opt for plastic-shopping. Bring your own produce bags or bulk items sacks.

2. Take your own cup

It is estimated that 500 billion disposable cups are discarded to landfill every year. That’s one million cups a minute, every hour of every day of every year. One-hundred forty-six billion of those are dedicated to our morning coffee.

One way we can easily change this is to simply bring your own cup to get your coffee or drink your water.

Although, I’m not a coffee drinker, I’ve been drinking from a water bottle for about a year now and I love it. I’m never thirsty or searching for the nearest water fountain because I always have a water bottle at my side.

Step It UP

Once you’ve started bringing your own cup for a while, it’s time to spread the joy so others can have a green new year. Having a New Year’s party or some other gathering throughout the year? Don’t use single-serve cups. Be an example for your friends and family with reusable cups and glasses. Sure it might require an extra step, but the benefits for our Earth and future are limitless.

3. Eating at the restaurant

Take out is full of single-use items that have no other purpose than to be thrown away. Generally, restaurants buy food in bulk, so while eating out might not be better for your health or pocket book, eating in actual restaurants is better for the Earth when it comes to packaging. You’ll get extra bonus points for eating at restaurants that serve locally-grown produce.

Step It UP

To take this step to the next level for a green new year, cooking at home is much better for your health and pocketbook. It’s tough to go from a lifestyle of eating out all the time to cooking at home, but it definitely gives you more control over where your food comes from, it’s quality, how it’s packaged and so many other factors.

4. Recycle cardboard

Cardboard is probably one of the easiest things there is to recycle, it also is more valuable for recycling companies, however many people still don’t see the value in recycling it. Recycling centers generally don’t take greasy or dirty cardboard, so it takes little effort just to put clean cardboard into the recycling bin rather than the trash.

Step It UP

Other recyclables take a bit more effort to recycle, but in the end are totally worth it. Once you’ve seen how easy it is to recycle cardboard, take a look at your current habits and see what else could easily be recycled. It will depend on your location and the services offered, but it is a great opportunity to help your local recycling company and help the Earth at the same time with minimal effort.

5. Don’t Litter

This one really should be a no-brainer, but there is no end to the amount of damage litter does to our eco-system. There is no reason to litter, just wait until you reach the gas station or your next rest stop before throwing that cup or cigarette out the window.

Step It UP

A lot of the pollutants out there might not be caused by careless folks, but rather trash that got caught in the wind. No matter how it got there, it can wreak havoc on animals and waterways. If you see a piece of trash, pick it up. It might seem small, but those pieces will add up. Your good example might inspire others to do it too.

6. Walk to places close by

Not just a suggestion for a green new year, but walking is good for your health and  cuts down wear and tear on your car. It’s up to you and your schedule, but a good goal would be to walk anywhere that takes 15 minutes or less to get to. If you have multiple stops within close proximity, you can park the car on one side and walk to the farthest location and work back toward your car.

Step It UP

Again, this is kind of up to an individual’s schedule. But try to add some extra steps to your routine and replace driving time. Plan your route to reduce driving or maybe make a commitment to walking any place within a mile.

7. Donate instead of throw away

Christmas just passed and if you’re anything like me, you have to get rid of some stuff to make room. It’s easy to just toss everything, but donating used items can be better for the Earth and your local thrift stores that probably use that money for charities.

Step It UP

This takes a bit more effort, but a minimalist life style can really be of great benefit for your every area of your life. It’s a lot less stress, requires less cleaning and effort in the long run, and is much better for the planet because you’re not buying as many new things.

8. Buy nothing one day a week

There are so many benefits to not buying things. Take one day a week to assess you budget and purchases for the week. Are these things you really need or that you have money for? Yes, there was probably a good sale, but when you stop and think that you could actually save 100 percent by not buying anything at all, it really is a no-brainer.

For me, buying nothing for a day, week or month is also about showing solidarity to the workers who make it. Especially in the electronics department, there is so many human right’s violations that went into making that. I try to live a simple life so that others might simply live. Buying less and letting go of the mentality of keeping up with the Jones’ is so freeing. I can focus on saving up for a house or investing my money, instead of living paycheck to paycheck for things I don’t really want or need.

Step It UP

Expand your buy nothing day to a week or even a month. This challenge really helps get your focus on planning ahead and only buying what you need, instead of whatever catches your attention. If you expand this practice to a greater length of time, maybe think of a buy nothing new year. Instead of getting new products made, you can purchase used products from thrift stores, Craigslist or maybe even check into a Buy Nothing New Facebook group or site. Finding a new sale is always exciting, but so it the liberation of buying things you don’t need. The hunt can go the opposite way. You can hunt at thrift stores or around your local stores and find the cheapest option.

9. Meatless one day a week

The benefits of eating less meatless are endless. A lot more of the planet’s resources are spent on meat as opposed to veggies. Going meatless once a  week is a great start to a more well-rounded diet. As a rule, eating more vegetables is better for your budget, too.

Step It UP

If you decide doing one meatless day a week is doable, try to expand to do more than one day or as many days as you feel comfortable.

10. Water plants with leftover water

This may seem small, but it can make a big difference over time. Cooking water can be used in a variety of ways.

Leftover non-salted water is a great thing to use to water your plants. Let the water cool down before you disperse it on any plants. If you don’t have any plants that need watered, keep the water for making soup.

Salted or Boiling water can be used as a weed killer.

Ice cubes that fall on the ground are great for small house plants.

Step It UP

Install a water collection system. This can be a huge benefit for your water usage. Once the collection system is in place, you can free, non-chlorinated water. There are many uses for this rain water including using it for garden or agriculture, using it in place of water used for washing pets, cars, driveways and side walks, refill your pond or swimming pool, some people even use to wash their clothes and flush. For more information, check out this great link for Rainwater Harvesting 101.

I hope this list inspired you to live a green new year. Leave a comment below on your tips and tricks for a green new year!

Don’t forget to pin these for later!

here are so many options for sustainable resolutions. If it seems a bit overwhelming, start with these 10 Easy Steps to a Green New Year.

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How to Have a Waste-Free Holiday

Waste-Free Tips

Is it possible to have a waste-free holiday? It’s easy to get caught up in the spirit of the holidays and forget to be careful about the things we waste.  Check out these tips to help cut down waste in the areas of packaging, food, gifts and decorations, and start enjoying your waste-free holiday.

Check out these tips to help cut down waste in the areas of packaging, food, gifts and decorations, and start enjoying your waste-free holiday.

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7 Ways to Repurpose Leaves and Celebrate Fall

Fall is the air. As the temperatures cool down, the leaves start turn pretty colors, and people get their rakes out. Raking leaves is necessary because leaves can clog drains, get stuck in the gutters and coat everything. But what happens to those leaves we bag up? Despite the fact that they still have use, most are layered on top of the landfill to buried under layers of more trash. What a waste when there are so many ways to repurpose leaves.

There are so many good uses for the fall leaves. Instead of packing them away in the landfill, we can repurpose leaves and celebrate fall!

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Shedding Light on Upcycling Solutions in Stillwater

Shedding Light on Upcycling Solutions in Stillwater

I have been searching for a upcycler for quite some time. I really wanted to find someone who did more than slap a new coat of paint on something and call it good. Yes, that does serve a need, is super creative, but this purpose I needed someone who really took time to take the unusable or unwanted and make it functional. Someone who not only showed interest in this project, but also followed through with an interview! I mean this guy is pretty much a miracle!

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