credit: re-nest

Last week between sessions at a conference I was attending, I found myself at an empanada restaurant with friends, ordering lunch.  Whole wheat and spinach, with beans and rice on the side seemed perfect, but as soon as I received my order the counter person handed us plastic knives, spoons, and forks.

One of the hardest challenges in going no-plastic, it seems to me, is just breaking the regular routine of saying, “that’s okay!  I don’t need a plastic fork.”  It often seems like receiving plastic at a restaurant is entirely out of our own control.  But at this point, stating that I don’t need a plastic bag has become so comfortable.  A few years ago, when I’d offer to carry things home in my own bag, store clerks would respond to me with surprise and confusion –  “Really?  You don’t *want* a bag??”  This absolutely made me feel awkward, at first!  Fortunately, in more recent years I think it has become less surprising for a customer to use their own bag, but I still get that response when I say I don’t need disposable plastic utensils.

So last week, when given those plastic forks at the empanada stand, I stood firm, and smiled, and said as courteously as I could, “it’s okay!  I’ve got my own.”

I regularly carry a To-Go Ware bamboo utensil kit in a recycled plastic case.  But I also have some other options that I occasionally use…

GREEN DEPOT SOLUTIONS

Reusable utensils are something we can use nearly every day – even if it’s only having lunch at the office.  With reusable utensils, one never has to throw away plastic spoons ever again.  They also tend to elicit some good conversation at lunchtime on environmentalism and waste reduction, with plenty of accolades.  Green Depot carries Micro-bites Miniature Utensils, which are convenient enough to be clipped onto a carabeaner.

I’ve done work as a consultant attempting to get employees at company onboard with sustainability initiatives, including the use of reusable utensils.  It can be an uphill battle — folks are reluctant to change habits, and unfortunately disposable utensils are a deeply ingrained habit.  Solution: if the utensils absolutely must be disposable, try using something like World Centric’s cutlery, which are corn-starch based, and completely compostable.

For green building materials, like eco insulation, as well as many other green products for a sustainable lifestyle, visit http://www.greendepot.com.

No-Plastic March: Bags

March 16th, 2011 | Posted by tjones in Green Products | Living Green - (0 Comments)

credit: Re-Nest

Two weeks ago, we wrote about the No New Plastic challenge for the month of march, and as part of that we’re chronicling some of the difficulties that arise in going plastic-free.

To err is human, and to forgive is divine.  I’ve actually had a few setbacks this week for No New Plastic March.  Instead of being a discouragement, though, I’m using these setbacks to bolster my resolve.  Here’s my plastic consumption for the week:

  • Six plastic produce bags
  • One plastic disposable lunch container
  • One trash bag, two recycling bags!
  • A plastic spoon.

Oh, woe is me.  Although I did slip this week, I’ll also attempt to be fair to myself and recognize that none of my “failures” this week were tremendously egregious.  My six plastic produce bags, for example, are compostable bio-bags from my food co-op, and while I usually carry my empty produce bags with me (reuse, reduce!) I slipped up that day.  My lunch container – well, I usually pack lunch, but have been busy with deadlines and slept through my 6:30am alarm.  Trash and recycling bags – what does one do to stop using garbage bags when city sanitation laws require them?  And a plastic spoon – well, perhaps I should have checked on my reusable silverware kit that morning before heading out.

None of these are excuses, though!  Just reasons to recommit and pay closer attention for next week, to try and find some better solutions in a move towards becoming plastic-free in the long-run.

But it does become apparent that one of the biggest uses of plastic in my everyday life is for carrying foodstuffs.  And fortunately (when we’re less forgetful) there are a number of green products that one can take out with them to prevent the consumption of more plastics.

GREEN DEPOT SOLUTIONS

1. Millions of plastic produce bags are consumed and sent to the landfill every year.  A simple solution to this is to find a reusable produce bag, like Credobags Produce Bags.  They are reusable, made from organic cotton mesh, and specifically designed to hold fruits and vegetables.  They come in packs of four and have a drawstring tie.

2. For grocery bags, I have a Baggu brand bag.  It’s the same shape as a standard plastic grocery bag, but is reusable – its lifespan is designed to replace 300 to 700 disposable bags, and fits the contents of two to three of those bags.  They are lightweight, and often come with a zippered container pouch.

For green building materials, like eco insulation, as well as many other green products for a sustainable lifestyle, visit http://www.greendepot.com.

Last week, we wrote about the No New Plastic challenge for the month of march, and as part of that we’re chronicling some of the difficulties that arise in going plastic-free.  My first week of going new-plastic week has been something of a success!  It has been a remarkable experience to even consider some of the basic items in our lives that are constructed from petroleum products — food wrappers, for instance, or plastic forks handed out unthinkingly at restaurants and delis.

A few green products have become absolutely essential over the course of the last week: my reusable plastic lunchbox, my reusable silverware kit, and my reusable shopping and produce bags.

But one of the difficulties I’ve encountered is in cleaning: when I run out of hand soap, or dishwashing detergent, or any other common household cleaner, I’ve really had to stop and consider what I would do to avoid buying a new container of cleaner off-the-shelf.

GREEN DEPOT SOLUTIONS

I was, fortunately, reminded of cleaning supplies refill stations this week when reading Grist.  You can read more about our filling station on the Bowery by clicking here.  Green Depot actually gets a pretty prominent mention on refilling cleaning supplies, instead of buying new ones.  This is a good thing, as many of the plastic bottles we all have under the kitchen or bathroom counter typically go into the landfill, or into recycling at best.

Any green product with the EPA’s Design for the Environment seal is sure to be a sound and safe product, and Green Depot in particular produces an in-house line of DfE-approved cleaners and detergents produced locally in the New York City metropolitan area, and with a refilling station located at our flagship store on the Bowery, along with a full range of other green products and sustainable building materials.

For green building materials, like eco insulation, as well as many othergreen products for a sustainable lifestyle, visit http://www.greendepot.com.

Grow, Grow, Grow

March 3rd, 2011 | Posted by tjones in Gardening | Green Products | Living Green - (0 Comments)

Welcoming growing things into the home is, I think, one of the better ways to express appreciation for the earth and all the beautiful things it offers.  Plants can change the mood of a room, clean the air, and provide a project to watch grow and bear fruit (sometimes, literally!).

Green Depot offers several green products to brings plants into the home for a variety of purposes — some decorative, some for more practical purposes (like producing food).  Here is a quick guide to all of the growing options that Green Depot provides:

GREEN DEPOT SOLUTIONS

1. Easy-to-Grow Mushroom Garden: These growing kits allow you to grow up to two pounds of mushrooms over several weeks.  The mushrooms grow in recycled coffee grounds, which are a safe and healthy medium, and can be stored in a closet or refrigerator for several weeks before activating the mushrooms for growth, simply by placing the kit in an area that is room-temperature, and receives lots of fresh air and indirect sunlight.  The mushroomer then opens a slit in the exposed plastic and mists with water twice a day, yielding a mushroom bounty.

2. Grow Bottles: Grow Bottles from Potting Shed Creations are created from up-cycled (the process of converting a waste product into a new and more useful product) wine bottles, allowing anyone to grow herbs hydroponically indoors.  The growing kit includes organic heirloom herb seeds in several varieties — allowing you to choose between basil, chives, mint, oregano, or parsley — as well as clay growing pebbles, plant nutrients, wool-felt water wick, and a cork coaster to protect the surface the bottles rest on.

3. Rice Hull Garden Pots: Rice Hull Gardens are a complete gardening set for indoors or outdoors.  The pots are made from rice grain husks and organic pigments – they are constructed from highly renewable resources.  The pots last for up to five years and are 100% biodegradable.  They come with many different kinds of herb seeds already contained within – available in lemon basil, lavender, parsley, oregano, garlic chives, heirloom sweet pepper, heirloom mini-tomato, and an organic basil boutique.

4. Seed Bombs: Seed Bombs by Visualingual allow you to “practice random acts of gardening.”  These gumball-sized packet of seeds allow you to toss the bombs anywhere there is dirt and watch things grow.  They are handmade and come in a hand-screenprinted muslim bag, and contain either wildflower seeds, or herb seeds.  Speaking of food, the herb bombs contain basil, dill, cilantro, chives, and parsley.

5. Woolly Pockets: Woolly Pockets planters come in two different styles: Freestanding Islands, and Living Wall Systems.  They are both constructed from thick felt that allows excess moisture to evaporate, and a moisture-barrier reservoir that holds water for plants to draw from.  The wall system is totally modular – allowing stacking to create an entire indoor or outdoor living wall.

For many green products, including green building materials like eco insulation, visit our website: http://www.greendepot.com.

Plastic-free March

March 1st, 2011 | Posted by tjones in Green Products | Living Green - (4 Comments)

courtesy: Re-Nest

It’s a new month!  This is exciting, and not only because it means spring is that much closer, but because March is also the month for the No New Plastic Challenge.

The idea has been proffered by Re-Nest, the green home design blog.  You can read more about it here.  A few of us on the Green Depot team — including myself — are undertaking the challenge, and I’ll be blogging about the challenges and successes of my own effort once a week, throughout the month.

Taking into account the fact that some plastics are medically necessary, Re-Nest has set three basic criteria for achieving a No New Plastic March.  To borrow from their site:

1. Buy No New Plastic. This means that for one month you will avoid buying any product that contains new plastic.

2. Consider The Plastic You Already Live With. Take an inventory of the plastic already in your home and use this to decrease your use patterns.

3. Recycle Any Unused Plastic. If you don’t use it, get rid of it the right way.”

Do you think you’ll undertake the challenge, too?  If so let us know via the comments section below, or over at our Facebook page.  Sharing tips may be one of the most important ways to make the challenge a success!

GREEN DEPOT SOLUTIONS:

One of the first steps towards avoiding all new plastic is to replace disposable water bottles with a green product, like a reusable bottle.  I use a Kleen Kanteen.  They are constructed from recyclable food grade stainless steel, forgoing the need for a BPA plastic liner.  They leach no toxins or plastic flavors into the liquid it holds, and have a very wide mouth which has proven to be a major convenience, time and time again.

For many green products, including new green building materials carried by both Ecohaus and Greendepot, visit our websites: http://www.greendepot.com, and http://www.ecohaus.com.

One of the main concerns folks seem to have about composting in small apartments — especially in urban apartments, where roommates or neighbors can put up opposition to compost — is the smell, and the threat of invading pests.

A properly managed compost bin, one that has a healthy balance of dry organic matter (browns, like newspaper or leafs) with wet organic matter (like vegetable scraps), will never have a bad smell.  Instead, it will have the musty, earthy smell of humus.  Likewise, maintaining a healthy compost bin — with a proper acidity — means pests won’t find the bins all that welcoming.

But it can be difficult to always keep a close tab on a compost bin.  And even then, sometimes roommates can feel uncomfortable having an active compost in the kitchen.  For folks that prefer not to compost indoors, who drop their compost off at a community or city composting program or keep an outdoor bin, storing compost in a bin can be a good solution

GREEN DEPOT SOLUTIONS

One green product that Green Depot is currently featuring is the freezer compost bin from Fuccillo Design, pictured above.  It is a simple solution that resolves concerns over odor and insect invasions.

Constructed from silicone, the bin sits inside of the freezer and keeps the compost from decomposing.  Doing this eliminates odor, and also kills any fruit fly or other insect eggs that might be present in the compost (this is a common problem with composting banana peels, actually).

The bin is 11 inches wide, 6 inches high, and 6 inches deep.

For many green products, including new green building materials carried by both Ecohaus and Greendepot, visit our websites: http://www.greendepot.com, and http://www.ecohaus.com.