Lab mutant released

No, seriously.

A mutant enzyme was accidentally found to consume PET plastic. Sounds like a great potential ocean cleanup device, right? Go ahead and release that mutant thing en masse into our living oceans, RIGHT? Maybe. Who knows. How much worse can it be than PET?

Serious National Geographic Mutant Discovery

I like the idea of X-enzs with different powers. One that gobbles PET and somehow transforms it into like a cancer-killing THC or something. That would be an awesome power. Another could suck up old oil and fart out fuel cells. Or one that gobbles up Roundup and poops pure Nitrogen pellets. I don’t know.  Some kind of unforeseen Captain America race develops that talks to trees and looks down on us from the future (and possible floating mountains) with the disdain we now show the Earth. Maybe future archaeologists will find plastic straws preserved in amber and put them in museums, marveling over what the freaky proto-humans did with them.  Or maybe the enzymes become self-aware and start to consume anything manmade with an unsatiable appetite that leaves all humans running into the forest naked and making up rhymey songs to remember which berries are poisonous. Like the good old days, before we ever needed mutant enzymes to clean up after us.

The plastic problem is so big it is almost out of our hands. We need solutions, hopefully well-researched no matter how serendipitous. But also, hide your Legos in case this thing gets out of our control. And keep on being green.

 

 

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From the sea to me.

Most people think that plastic in the ocean would only reach their food through fish and other seafood. But what about sea salt?

Increasing reports have found microplastics hiding in nearly every salt sample taken. Apparently, most of the plastics are from microfibers and plastic bottles. Just (another)  friendly reminder that the oceans are choking to death on plastic objects we use one time. ONE TIME. It makes me feel like single-use plastic is like an addiction we are struggling to break, and not being able to see or taste the microplastics we consume makes it easy to continue.

Plastic bottles were invented in 1947 and didn’t start becoming ubiquitous until the 1970’s and yet now they are so pervasive that if plastic bottles became self-aware they would take over the world in exactly 3 minutes. Still, we can overcome them. I swear I should start a plastic detox program.

Welcome to Plastic Rehab.

Pick up your stainless steel mug and Patagonia vest at the door and start labeling your bulk containers.

Straws Suck

We went over our garbage allotment this week. Again. Which forced me to actually LOOK at what we are throwing away. Again.

There were a few boxes that could’ve been recycled, sure, and maybe a sauce jar that no one felt like cleaning out. Minor infractions. But then I see them. Small, red, and chewed to fraying on one end.

Straws.

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Before I was a parent I never thought about straws. I remember loving those funky twirly ones that came in an ice cream float or something when I was a kid, but in all of my years of eating meals in cars out of bags, I never once questioned the necessity of keeping my drink spill-free.  My kids, however, will use the things as weapons, nail extensions, dart blowers or anything else not associated with drinking and then reject the straw for drink use because it is bent.

I. Just. Can’t.

I hid the last box of straws I ever bought for them and cringed when they found it, picked it up by the wrong end and dumped it all over the floor.  There was a disturbance in the force like an entire forest had just been leveled.

Then, on a miraculous mojito-filled playdate (in one of those rare occurrences where all the kids were getting along and not especially needy or complainy and the moms sat outside in the sun chatting with drinks in hand – sort of like a mom blue moon) I had a revelation. Steel straws. Sturdy enough for smoothies but with cute-colored silicone tips to please discerning sippy-cup graduates, they were the perfect straws.

I found this fun four pack (plus cleaner) at Target for $9.99 from Kleen Kanteen, which also happens to be a local company. Double win.  Great for margaritas, too. Suck on that!

straws

 

Maya Rudolph Image courtesy Bust magazine

It’s Mighty Easy Being Green

I think maybe I’m lazy. Not in the I-don’t-like-to-work sense. I get up to the sweet sounds of children screaming for breakfast every day just before dawn and proceed to make lunches, wipe noses and fold clothes that will inevitably be pushed into a ball before they’re even worn. I pick up trash, exercise and eat something green as often as I can. But somewhere inside, I know that I could also be content turning the heat up, taking long showers, and staying in bed watching netflix and eating pizza. Or donuts. Or both.

Some months go by that I actually only add to my to-do list and never cross anything off. In those time-spirals filled with homework, taxiing, and endless meal cramming, lazy me is overwhelmed into bad habits. Like, who cares if they leave the water running as long as they’re brushing their teeth, amiright? Who cares that they used and entire roll of paper towels to clean up one glass of spilled water as long as I can keep my eyes closed for thirty seconds?

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Put a bird on it

 

 

 

These are the times that I’m glad I found Mighty Nest. Back when I was specifically searching for silicone muffin cups, I stumbled on the Might Nest site and found that if I tried their monthly service, Mighty Fix, my muffins cups were $5 off and shipped free and they would start sending me one “fix”  every month to help greenify my home by replacing regular household objects with their greeny versions for only $10 per month.

 

 

 

 

Convenience, yes!

Inexpensive, better!

Replacements that are good for the environment and often end up replacing disposable objects that cost more in the long run, GREAT! LAZY ME REJOICES!

Mighty Nest is a sustainable Stitch Fix for your home. My first few fixes were things I wanted anyway like dryer balls and beeswax wrap. It was also easy to suspend during tighter months and includes free shipping and discounts on other store merchandise when it is sent with your Fix shipment. You can even sign up to help your local school with your purchase. BUT…jk, there is no but. It’s like green Christmas every month. So exciting to open an unknown package. Might Fix-mas, unlesss its November, in which case it will now be known as Might Fix-giving.

 

 

Real Mermaids Don’t Need Glitter

Sparkle is in. Who doesn’t like shiny objects? Mermaid sequins are like sparkle crack; you can’t look away, you can’t stop yourself from petting them, and unlike fidget spinners, you are not irritated by their very presence. But real mermaids? They may be beautiful, enticing, and yes, sparkly (as well as murderous) but they definitely don’t do glitter. Why?

Because glitter is gunking up the ocean. I first read this National Geographic article about how the sparkly menace lasts just as long in the sea as it does in your carpet. Falling under the category of microplastics, which includes any plastic measuring less than 5 millimenters, it contains the same chemical-sucking properties as any other microplastic; durable to last a long time, tiny enough to be consumed in fish and biomagnified up the food chain right back to the preschool kids pouring it on that adorable picture of a blue giraffe that you might hang on your wall for a month.

My new year’s resolution was to (gasp) stop using glitter, not because I can imagine a world without sparkle but because I actually love the sparkle of the ocean so much more.  So far, despite a few birthday party craft snafus and a refusal to come to terms with the fact that maybe pipe cleaners fall into the glitter family, it’s been easy. But then, I am not a teacher trying to distract screaming children with shiny objects or a sequined up tween or a Mardis Gras float.

Glitter

  • Single use plastic
  • Magnet for pollutants
  • Too small to be filtered out by water treatment plants
  • Small enough to be consumed up the food chain
  • Does not biodegrade

Glitter alternatives:

  • Eco-Glitter – Glitterevolution  and EcoGlitterFun make biodegradable glitter!
  • Make your own glitter – epsom salt, salt or sugar mixed with food coloring
  • Mariah Carey movie – just…no

 

 

This Mental Floss article has some fun, weird glitter history.

Sustainable We

Family Project 2018: Trash Wars – The Fight to End Single-Use Plastic

Small garbage can.  Doesn’t seem like much of a problem, right? But then the enemies start swarming in from a family of four: plastic straws, bags, spoons, you name it. Used once and tossed in a landfill feeder  that only happens to hold about 2 full kitchen bags

and a few smaller bags for the week.

We could spend more and get a bigger can from the city. OR we could change our habits now and make less grody garbage permanently.  Get in line, troops, your lunch is about to go green.

Battle 1: Lunch

Turns out (new parent spoiler alert):

4 PEOPLE MAKE A TON OF GARBAGE.

Seriously, even the little one. She throws stuff out like a champ.  She uses bandaids for like 15 minutes each.  She breaks stuff just to make the automatic garbage open its jaws on her command. She even purposefully (maybe) refused cloth diapers just to up her landfill game.  I say No Way, Baby.  To be fair, she would be perfectly fine keeping all the garbage actually inside the house and making art with it or something.

So, anyway, project Sustainable We was born. We talked a bunch about garbage and how long it stays around and how trash on the ground can get into the ocean and hurt animals and such.  Kids are on board to save turtles. We are a go.

The first single-use plastic I had to consider was the plastic zip snack/sandwich bag. This actually began organically when big sis went to kinder last year and we needed lunch solutions.  She is a picky eater who would rather not eat than eat something listed in her ever-changing bible of “Gross Stuff Mom Tries to Force-feed Me That Maybe Qualifies As Torture”. I had to try a variety of snack options to get her fueled for the day and some were wet and couldn’t touch others and there were days where I threw away more food than she consumed.

Ultimately, our plastic zippy baggy replacement system included the following:

Lunchbots stainless steel bento box

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Love this little darling.  Fits just enough for my kids and gives the ability for some separation. Dishwasher top rack safe, easy to open and close and stays cool with an ice pack. Plus cute colors = Winning.

The only drawback is that the two sides are not completely airtight from each other, so I still needed a way to house the small veggies that had some moisture like carrots and snap-peas hastily washed in the dark pre-mornings.

Voila! Silicone muffin cups!

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Bonus: Can also be used for playing shell games after lunch.

They fit perfectly in both sides of the bento box, allowing me to recreate the much-desired-but-seldom-purchased crown jewel of single use lunches: the Lunchable.

One for crackers, one for ham or turkey, one for veggies and one for an oreo or two. I can even fit a baby cheese in there, too. Mom for the win.

BUT…

These are the lunch solution and there was still a critical problem: snack time <insert horrified face emoji>

Snack time was the real culprit of snack bags, hence the sneaky snacky cute little plastic half-bags with Elsa and BB-8 on them luring my half-people down the landfill well.  Seriously, the magic seal is like the pied piper of garbage.  Go ahead and use me only once, it sings. I will get crumbs in me and you can’t ever get me dry again even if you dare to wash me out. Tra-la-la.

NO! GO BACK! I say. GO BACK TO YOUR CONVENIENT BOX, YOU LUNCH BALROG!

And then I got these adorabchicobag.jpgle little snack bags:

ChicoBag Snack Time!

Every time time I unfurl their little two-inch of velcro I feel like Captain America. These bags are made of rePETE food-safe material, adjustable to fit a sandwich, adorable to fit your lunch style and pretty easy to wash. I hand wash to avoid velcro sucking the life out of unsorted laundry loads, but I don’t find it a bother. The biggest learning curve was teaching my kids to NOT THROW THEM AWAY! Fortunately they only had to pick through one yucky garbage bag to learn that one.

These bags are the ultimate weapon in the fight against single-plastic snacktime. Arm yourselves.

So the price breakdown:

Bento box $25

Muffin Cups $6.99

Snack Bags $14.99

Sustainable lunch = priceless.

Well, actually the supplies ran about $46.97, but if not using plastic saves even one turtle life than it’s worth every penny.

 

Should I Stay or Should I ERGO?

It’s been one week since I purchased an Ergo baby carrier.  I had fully intended on wearing my baby as much as I could, and I also had fully intended on solely using my Moby for that purpose.  For the first five months, my intentions were golden.  And then Nika hit the 18-pound mark, and things began to change a bit.  I love my Moby wrap, especially for its versatility in positions and affordable price.  That aside, I had to admit when I started spending more time with other mamas…I had Ergo envy.

After about a month of consideration and self-justification, I succumbed.  I finally decided on the Sienna Sunset Organic cotton with Organic cotton teething pads for the straps, which cost me about $160 combined.  The first time I put it on I almost thought something was wrong because I couldn’t feel Nika’s weight.  My aching back sighed with relief.

The next test was whether or not Nika would like it, and I believe she has been in the Ergo for no less than three times per day since we got it.  I call it her ‘apartment’ because it’s her little space to hang out in and she can choose her interaction level by looking around or snuggling under her “roof” hood.  I was even so impressed with myself to figure out that “C” clips that came with her play mat to suspend toys above her could attach to the Ergo straps and hold toys onboard for her, until five minutes later when she figured out how to unhook the clip!  Nevertheless, putting an extra ring and moving the clip near my shoulder seemed to do the trick.  I’m also going to try a pacifier clip to the same effect.

Saturday we strapped her in,  walked to a café (without even a diaper bag!) and stayed for over two hours without complaint from her, and I believe we only took her out once for a short time to stretch her legs.  The next day we looked at houses for five hours and zipped her in and out of the Ergo at each house from her carseat unless she was napping.  I really can’t imagine how much longer it would’ve taken to have to drag out the stroller or adjust the Moby at each stop.  To beat, Monday morning I wasn’t aching a  bit.  I’m so in love…

Pros

  • User-friendly – quick and easy to get on and off by yourself and without having to learn how to wrap or drag trailing material on the floor
  • Baby-friendly – Baby is not pressed against my chest or suspended from crotch and so is close without being cramped
  • Storage pocket for small toy/pacifier/burp cloth
  • Hood for sleeping/rain
  • Cute colors and patterns
  • BACK SUPPORT!!

Cons

  • Expensive
  • For use at four months old without separate insert
  • Can’t face forward

A Note on Selection

The Ergo-nomics made sense to me, and I already can’t imagine life without it.  The Moby worked well for us in the early months and I salute it, especially since I have heard mixed reviews about the infant insert for the Ergo.  Originally I had the Galaxy Gray on my baby shower registry, but when I started noticing the Ergos in person, some of them looked like baby-backpacks to me.  They have new super stylish Petunia Pickle bottom prints but they are pricier.

I liked the organic prints best.  The black was probably my style but I didn’t choose it because it lacked a hood pocket and I was worried it would be too hot.  At first it didn’t seem to matter, but now I realize that I can hook my cell phone clip really easily onto the hood flap when we just go out for a walk in the park or around the block, so I do like the hood pocket.  Also, the Sienna has a really nice embroidery that  just made it fell more accessorized.  Considering I have worn it more than any single article of clothing, I prefer it to have some style, although it’s not neutral enough to match all of my clothes and I’m sure that will be a consideration sometimes.  As far as the teething pads go, I purchased them because Nika is quite the teether and I hoped to limit the washings of the Ergo itself, but I don’t think they are an absolute necessity.  She tends to still like to teeth on the parts of exposed strap she can find, although I noticed she likes to rest her head on the pads.