Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Go Green for St. Patty's Day

In honor of St. Patrick's Day, I wanted to post about something Green. I thought about posting pics of the Chicago River, but to be honest, the river stays pretty green all year. I thought about taking pics of the kids wearing St. Patty's Day attire...but they don't have any. And finally, I thought about posting some healthy St. Patrick's Day recipes, but there is simply no way to make corn beef healthy. Sorry :-)

So with all of those ideas out the door, I racked my brain for something good to post about. And then it hit me...why don't I post an update about my mission to GO GREEN this year?! Perfect!! I know I have been trying to become a more eco-friendly mom since I started this blog two years ago, but I have really made some progress lately (especially since I went on a little shopping spree at ReusableBags.com in December. And January. And this morning :-) I have no guilt though because all of the items I have purchased from ReusableBags are things I use on a regular basis. Here are some of my favorite items, along with the many uses I have found for them.

When I posted about this basket back in December, many of you commented about how much you liked it. In fact, I even had a few people ask me where I got it but when they saw the price tag ($39.95), they thought it was a bit much to pay for a cute basket. I mean, what can you really do with it? As it turns out...there is a LOT you can do with this basket. Here is how I use mine.

* Whenever I go to someone's house for a dinner party, birthday party, casual get together, etc., I always find myself bringing lots of little things: gifts, containers of cookies or snacks, the sippy cup their child left at my house, the book I promised to loan them, etc. and I usually can't fit all of these things in my purse or diaper bag. Normally, I would just throw all these random items in a grocery bag or old shopping bag. But after seeing my sister-in-law carry all of her stuff to Thanksgiving in her basket, I knew I had to have one. Now I take it with me whenever I go to someone's house and I always find it helpful to carry all those little odds and ends. It also comes in handy when you have friends (Linsey) who send you home with 4 containers of pastry items every time you visit their house because they like to stress bake :-)

* This basket just happens to be the perfect size to fit between two car seats in an SUV. And when you have a toddler that insists on entertainment in the car, it is great to be able to keep their books, small toys, DVDs, etc. in one place, instead of all over the floor of your car. I also found that when you travel to people's houses that don't have any children (or activities for children), you can just pull your basket of toys out of the car and viola...instant entertainment.

* This is going to sound like the most ridiculous use for this basket, but I am going to share it anyway. I don't know if your child is anything like mine, but Addie loves taking toys out of her bedroom and distributing them all over my house during the day. I find puzzle pieces in the bathroom, baby dolls in my bed sheets, alphabet fridge magnets in the dining room, etc. At the end of the day, I like to bring all of these toys back to their original home, but that usually requires about 10 trips. So one night, I just grabbed my basket and went room by room picking up all the random toys. When I was done, I took them to Addie's room and she helped me put them away. This little process literally saved me 45 minutes so it has become one of our new nighttime routines :-)

* And finally, my mom would be so upset if I didn't mention what a FABULOUS knitting basket this is. If you knit, scrapbook, cross-stitch or do other crafts that you like to keep portable so you can...I don't know...meet your girlfriends at Starbucks and work on "projects"...then this is the basket for you!

I know, I know...I have posted about Envirosax a million times. But I can't help it...these things are fabulous!!! Obviously, their main purpose is to eliminate the use of disposable grocery and shopping bags and let me tell you...they do a great job of that. You can fit an entire cart of groceries in just 5 bags. Trust me...I have done it many times. And while I do love my Envirosax for this reason, I have also found several other uses for them over the years.

* Whenever we go swimming or to the beach during the summer, we are always driving home with a garbage bag full of wet swimsuits and towels. That garbage bag gets thrown out of course because it is filled with sand or smells like chlorine, and then the suits and towels go into the washing machine. Well...this summer I realized that Envirosax, because they are made of nylon, are the PERFECT bag to tote home wet suits and towels. And the best part is that you can throw them in the wash with the rest of your stuff!

* Luckily, Eric and I don't frequent the dry cleaners too often any more because neither of us dress up for work. But when I did go to the dry cleaners on a regular basis, I would always take my clothes in an old shopping bag. That shopping bag would then get thrown out at the cleaners and I would use a different one the next time I went. Well this year, I realized that I could use my Envirosax to not only take my clothes to the cleaners, but also divide them by shirts, pants, dresses, etc. in different bags to make the whole drop-off process that much quicker! Wish I would have thought of that sooner :-)

* Lots of people tell me that they own reusable bags, but never seem to have them with them when they need them. My advice is to keep them in different places. Keep one or two in your glove box, one in your purse/diaper bag, one in your desk at work, etc. If they are scattered all over, you are bound to find one when you need it! And considering these babies roll up to be no bigger than the palm of your hand, you should be able to fit them anywhere :-)

I actually just purchased these reusable produce bags after reading all of the great reviews and I am so excited to use them!! I absolutely HATE grocery store produce bags because they always fall apart and get nasty in your fridge. But these handy bags won't do that. And they best part...they can be used for other purposes.

* I can't tell you how many grocery bags I have gone through picking veggies and fruit from our garden. Obviously, the bags get dirty from the produce and then you throw them away. But these bags are much more sturdy and they can be washed so you can use them over and over again! Perfect!

* This next idea is also courtesy of my mama. She saw these bags and immediately thought about knitting (of course) and told me they would make great project bags. My mom usually has several knitting projects going on at one time and she likes to keep them separated in individual bags. She too use to use shopping bags but now she can use these! And the best part, she says, is that you can see through them so you know which project you are grabbing.

I also posted about these great reusable sandwich/snack bags back in December and after four months of using them, I can honestly say I LOVE THEM!!! They are so great for bringing goldfish crackers, pirates booty, and any other little snack you have on the go. Addie loves being able to open and close the Velcro herself (as apposed to wrestling with Ziploc sandwich bags). They wash up like a dream, which is what makes their price tag worth every penny. And like the other items I have posted about, they too can serve other purposes.

* I always carry hand sanitizer, a small hand lotion and chapstick with me where ever I go. But I can't tell you how many times one of those has leaked or gotten on the inside of my purse or diaper/bag. So, I decided to start carrying these items in one of the large sandwich bags because it stays closed and if anything should leak, the bag will keep it from getting all over my purse. And because these are washable, I don't have to worry about it getting ruined.

* The snack size bag is perfect for carrying pens or a handful of crayons. Addie is all about coloring lately and not all restaurants have crayons for kids to use. So, I like to throw a pack of them in the diaper bag so that she has them in an "emergency". And again, because these bags are washable, it doesn't matter if crayon gets all over the inside. Better on the inside of a LunchSkin than the inside of a Kate Spade. Know what I'm sayin?

For starters, these little GoToobs are one of the few BPA free reusable containers you can find in travel size. They don't leak, they are easy to use and refill, AND you never have a problem getting the very last drop of product out of them. How many travel containers have you had to rinse for 20 minutes just to get the last bit of shampoo out of the bottom? I don't travel much, so I actually plan to use my GoToobs for hand sanitizer and lotion. A travel size Purell is about $.99, yet you can buy an economy size bottle of it for around $4. Talk about saving money...and plastic!

* Obviously, the best uses for these containers are with toiletry items like shampoo, body wash, hand soap, hand sanitizer, lotion, etc. BUT...I read a review from a woman that says she uses it for salad dressing in her lunch bag!! How creative is that?

So you see, investing in these items is totally worth it when you think of all the different ways you can use them!!! And if you are looking for some great tips on living a more eco-friendly lifestyle and joining the reusable movement, you can watch some very informative videos (like this one) on the ReusableBags website. Also, be sure to sign up for the ReusableBags.com newsletter. They always have great tips, as well as special offers on new products. And speaking of new products, here are a few things I have on my wishlist...

And the list goes on and on...

Now, before I wrap up this rather lengthy post, I also want to mention something worth thinking about when you go to purchase your reusable items. Remember that the whole purpose of going green is to save our planet and I truly believe you should invest in companies that have that as their #1 priority. ReusableBags.com donates 1% of all their sales to 1% for the Planet. Last year alone, they gave back $100,000 to environmental charities. You could probably find some of these items a dollar or two cheaper on another website, but you are not going to get the added donation or the level of customer service they provide. And take my word for it, their customer service is incredible!!

Now, in order to show my love for this company, I am going to host a tiny little GIVEAWAY!!!! I am going to be giving away one GoToob to a lucky reader. Entering is very simple. All you have to do is visit the ReusableBags.com website and post a comment telling me about a reusable item that you either already own, or wish to purchase and why you love it. See...easy peasy!

* Only one entry per person. All entries must be in by Sunday, March 21st and the winner will be selected and posted on Monday, March 22nd. Good luck and Happy St. Patty's Day!


  1. I want to try the sweet Skoy Paper Towel jobbers! :) I also want to try out one of their dryer balls. I've always wanted to buy those things at the fair! Haha! But really, I use free & clear detergents and no dryer sheets... so, I think the dryer ball thingie would be good. :) yay! Giveaways!

  2. WOW! that's a lot of great ideas!

  3. I would love to try the Skoy Paper Towel Replacement. We go through a lot of paper towels in my apartment, and it gets expensive to replace them all the time! Now, if only I could convince my roommates to quit using paper towels as well :)
    Thanks for all of the great ideas, Jen!

  4. What great ideas! After your glowing recommendation of the market basket, I would love to have one of those of my own!

    I already own and love dryer balls - they work well at reducing static and I love that I'm not adding yucky chemicals to my clothes with dryer sheets. I've also been slowly replacing all of my household cleaners (dishwasher detergent, Dawn, window/glass cleaner, multipurpose spray cleaner, etc) with Seventh Generation products - they work great and they're great for the environment as well!

  5. What a great post! We are trying to go green around here and this was definitely helpful...as was your great advice about schedules! I needed someone to tell me that I just was hoping it wasn't true :)

  6. We use cloth diapers -- and we re-use them every day.

  7. How cool! I own a BUNCH of eco-totes from Reusablebags.com. LOVE it.

  8. I'm loving the lunchskins sandwhich and snack bags! With a 2 year old and 6 year old these would work perfect! On a side note..I've never left a comment before but have been reading your blog for a while and I love it! I always get a laugh and understand with a 2 year old daughter myself!

  9. I love the envirosax. I keep a couple in my purse and a couple in each car. Use them for pretty much everything. I would love to try the market tote and lunchskin sandwich and snack bags. Right now I try to just reuse my ziploc bags. Love when you do posts about being GREEN, helps with new ideas and products.

  10. I have been shopping from Reusable Bags for a few years now and have really made an effort to reduce waste. My new favorite product from them are the People Towels Reusable Hand Towels--I throw one in my purse and use it instead of paper towels or electric air dryers. They dry so fast, you can keep reusing it! My absolute, long time favorite is the Built Lunch Bag. I use it for a million things! It's waterproof AND stretchy, so there aren't many things it can't be used for! I really want to try the GoToobs, but at the moment, I need to reign in my spending :)

  11. HA!! I, too, am a reusablebags.com junkie ;)!! I just used my GoToobs on my recent trip to LA!! They are SO handy!! Have lots of the reusables that you mentioned... BUT have you tried the detergent-free laundry ball?? It's AMAZING!!
    I shared my thoughts about it on my blog about all the little things that I do....( www.itstartswithme-danielle.blogspot.com )

    SO... what would I want to buy from reusablebags.com?? What wouldn't I want to buy?? ;) The Flip and Tumble produce bags have been on my list (they were out of them when I placed my last order ;( )... ooohhh... and now that you've talked SO highly of your Market Basket... my mind is racing with all the ways I could use it!!

  12. I love having out Kleen Canteen steel bottles. Now I don't have to worry about aluminum problems.

    We also have SnackTAXI bags for our sandwiches. These are great for traveling, as we can use them over and over and not have to throw lots of little baggies away.

    The Mu microfiber cleaning cloths are really nice around the house. They do wonders at getting the dust up and are so easy to toss in the wash.

    And finally, the reusable dryer sheets. They aren't that great when it's really cold and dry out, but once the temps got back up into the high 30s, they've been great.

  13. I would purchase the lunchskins bags...since Sean is going to preschool now 2 days a week I am going through snack bags like crazy!!!

  14. I am a Reusablebags nut, too! I have a set of 5 Acme dual-handle cotton totes that I use for everything--groceries, car trips, library books, you name it! And everyone in our family has a Sigg bottle to remind us to drink more water--and use less plastic.
    The two things I would like to try would be produce bags and the Go Toobs. Oh, and I really want one of the Dabbawalla cow lunch bags--they are so cute! I don't think my boys would go for them, but maybe one for myself? :)

  15. (looks like my comment got lost)

    I love my Super Strong Cotton Canvas Messenger Shopping Bag from reusablebags.com. I bought two of them and they're great for grocery shopping. I get comments on them all the time.

    There are so many things I want from the site that I wish they had a wishlist feature so I could save and come back to them when I can afford them.

  16. I love reusable ideas, we've been using reusable bags for long.

  17. I love their own brand of reusable bags, the "Workhorse". It stuffs into its own little attached sack and fits nicely into your purse.

  18. I want to try the dryer balls! I was at bed bath and beyond today and came very close to buying some, I'm not sure what stopped me.

    You have some really great ideas and a great giveaway!


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