Please pass on the plastic

Just another weblog

#44- A Green Halloween September 29, 2008

Filed under: healthy home,no more plastic — michelleodonoghue @ 2:53 am
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Halloween has grown on me now that our kids love it, but I have a really hard time stomaching all the waste….. there’s got to be a better way.

Some of our very basic ideas:

  • share, reuse, homemade costumes–its not our kids first choice as we’ve been receiving costume catalogs since July, but if you can get away with borrowing…. (i know there are at least 700 of us who own the chili pepper costume)
  • no plastic goody bags
  • plastic-free candy–lollipops are kinda low maintenance(except for the cavities!), hershey’s small chocolate bars, hershey kisses, apples,(kinda boring) pencils, 
  • party goods–no plastic or styrofoam!!
  • homemade decorations

The sites below have fantastic ideas (better than mine) for organic candy to give out, organic food, green party ideas and lots of other great advice.

green this halloween— great craft projects!–good adult party ideas (spiked pumpkin punch!)


This is another one of those times, if we all do a little the result is big. Here’s to a green Halloween…..and a couple glasses of spiked pumpkin punch!


#42–Avoiding Produce Bags

Filed under: no more plastic — michelleodonoghue @ 1:49 am
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Ok, so this may seem like something little, that’s been my reason for not writing about this……but I keep coming back to this idea b/c it all adds up. A lot of us have become reeeally good at remembering to bring our cloth shopping bags, why not produce bags? First off, I try to use as few as possible when shopping. Do avocados really need to be bagged? bananas? potatoes? If I do use, i try not to tightly knot, then i can easily untie when I get home and stuff produce bag right back into cloth bag for next time. Obviously there are exceptions (my lettuce bags tend to be one-timers), but its really not too tricky to re-use most of these bags…..

A friend, who so sincerely complimented my non-use and re-use of produce bags, sent me this link….

the peaceful company.

They sell cloth produce bags, although a bit pricey ($16 / 3 bags), really functional and very reusable. The site also has other great recycled, reclaimed gift items, household goods, and cleaning supplies.


#41–Waste-free Lunch Kits September 11, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — michelleodonoghue @ 3:20 am

I’m so wishing I’d written about this before the school year started, but better late than never!

I think these kits are produced by a mom-run company:

Lunch kits that come with small stainless steel containers, a sandwich wrapper, a stainless steel drink bottle, a cloth napkin, and a reusable carrier.

the slogan for the company is “kids are the voice of change….choose to reuse!”

Children’s lunches create 3.5 billion pounds of waste every year. Even if you choose not to buy this kit ($40), everyone can choose to use cloth napkins, use a stainless steel beverage container, and avoid plastic wraps.

Ultimately, these kits will save money. Snacks can be purchased in bulk and divided into small containers, no more crazy expensive juice boxes (which NEVER decompose b/c the cardboard is lined with foil), no more crazy expensive water bottles (which aren’t good for you anyway), and overall much less waste going into landfill.

Did I mention it takes 700 years for a plastic water bottle to break down? (70 million a day into our landfills)


#40– Disappointing News From the Garbage Dump

Filed under: healthy home,no more plastic — michelleodonoghue @ 2:57 am

I called my recycling facility the other day with high hopes. Our garbage men have repeatedly told us that EVERYTHING gets recycled so I don’t have to separate my items–the good people at the dump do that for us. I’ve been tossing every type of plastic into the orange bin, smugly thinking I was saving the world. Is this really possible? I wonder? Trusting my gut instinct led to disappointing news.

The only plastics that our dump recylces are #’s 1 and 2 (see previous post). BUT, if one item contains more than one type of plastic, then the whole item is not recycled. EXAMPLE: if I throw a poland spring water bottle (#1) into the bin, with the cap on (no #) then the entire item is NOT recyclable.

That is really bad news. Almost everyone throws their bottle into the bin with the cap on. What to do?

Every day in our country, Americans consume 70 MILLION bottles of water. (very few of these even make it to recycling) It’s got to stop. Each one of us is in charge of figuring this dilemma out. If you live in nyc (or even if you don’t) join the pledge to take back the tap. It might just save the backs of those good people at the garbage dump.


#38- Back to School Basics-No Bus Idling September 2, 2008

Filed under: healthy home,healthy school — michelleodonoghue @ 11:19 am
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One of the things that first got me started on this idea of chemical – free living was an article I read that discussed the amount of pollutants the average school-age child was subjected to in a day. It was something like 200 chemicals in the day, beginning with the most noxious as they got onto the school bus in the morning. As buses sit and idle at the bus stop, diesel fumes enter through the windows and doors. Diesel fumes are laden with chemicals, some known carcinogens. The first studies on this, performed by Yale scientists who noticed something a little “off” in children as they entered their school day, tested blood levels as children entered school and when they got home. The chemical levels in the children’s blood was sky high at these times of day as they inhaled diesel fumes on the way to and from school. Picture this: school pick up, all buses lined up front to back, engines running (sometimes 30 minutes or more as they wait for the chidren), windows open to keep bus cool, school doors open as people coming in and out, and diesel fumes everywhere—-in buses, in building, in lungs. There is NO safe level of diesel fumes in children’s bloodstreams (or adults).

There is a really easy quick- fix to this (the expensive, messy, not -even -great option is to change out all of the diesel engines to regular gasoline–still lousy for environment– but hopefully we’ll be running on electric or hydrogen soon enough anyway! )If your bus company and school district insists on a no-idling policy, buses must turn off their engines at bus stops and in front of school buildings and at bus stops. Once all children are loaded the engines may be turned back on. Home they go, lungs diesel-free. Small, tasteful signs that say “this is an idle-free zone” are all that is needed on school grounds. Buses keep a small sign velcroed to dashboard that says “we are idle-free”. Just in case bus companies need convincing, in this time of impossibly high gas prices, this saves the bus companies HUGE amounts of money in fuel.

(BTW, in cold weather, the policy allows for 5 minutes at a time of running the bus. Important to make sure school doors and windows are closed, the fumes can get in everywhere.)

We have worked on this policy at our school. As with any change, there are always some logistics involved. We needed to set up a new entry and dismissal policy, so that all buses could line up, children walked to bus “stop” and then all buses turn engines on once children are loaded. Believe it or not, the worst offenders in the no-idling policy are parents. They just “run” into school for 20 minutes while they leave their massive SUV’s hanging out in the parking lot.

For some great material on this and very practical way to deal with your school administration, bus companies, and parents, go to The people running this are experts in implementing green, child-safe change. Their website has lots of info about this topic and so many others and sells a$15 binder that spells out the idling policies and many more healthy changes in a really manageable format.

If your child has asthma, a no-idling policy could dramatically improve his/her day as it removes so many potential triggers into their lungs.


#37–Phalates banned in children’s toys

Filed under: healthy home,no more plastic — michelleodonoghue @ 10:43 am
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Yesterday I received news from a friend that Congress has banned phthalates (chemical in plastic that softens it—-think chew toys for babies ) in children’s toys. (Green Guide).

Wal-Mart and Toys R us will stop carrying any toys made with this hormone-disruptor plastic as of January 1st, 2009. (be careful this holiday season, though, as toys will not yet be removed.) And the even better news is that the ban puts the responsibility on the manufacturer to clean up their act. Toys will need to be tested for lead and phthalates before entering the marketplace. This doesn’t mean we as consumers are off the hook from being vigilant but it is a step in the plastic-free direction.

Take a look at the following: Co-op America’s Green Gift guide for the fall. If you are going to be making purchases for your home or back to school or gifts, there are so many creative, environmentally friendly ways to do it (ex, our new bday gift we give out is an adopt an endangered animal from WWF). From shoes to stainless steel water bottles there are ways to make our purchases responsibly.