Pringles Can Accessories and Bubble-Dye Origami Paper

Hi there folks,

Just wanted to share some videos I made for “eco crafts,” a green DIY fashion, arts, and crafts blog. One video shows how to turn Pringles cans from non-recyclables into recyclables AND cool accessories (hair clips and pins from the aluminum disc at the bottom). The other video explains how to make old printed-on paper into fun, kid-friendly origami paper with food coloring and soap bubbles.

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Living Green: My Sustainable Halloween Costume

 

My Pocahontas Costume

My Pocahontas Costume

This year for Halloween my roommates and I decided to be the eight Disney Princesses. I excitedly volunteered to be Pocahontas, my all time favorite Disney heroine. Immediately I began to think of ways I could craft a costume while being sustainable and saving cash (luckily, the two go hand in hand!). The first thing I did was ask around for costume ideas; my friend’s were a great source of inspiration and many of them had items I could use for my costume. For example, I borrowed my friends turquoise necklace (one of Pocahontas’ key features) and in return I lent my friend a pair of white satin gloves for her Cinderella costume. I am always surprised to see what unique costume elements my friends are hoarding in their closets.

The next place I checked out was the local Salvation Army store, the Mecca of sustainable and affordable costumes. In general, local second hand stores are great places to look for costume basics: shirts, skirts, dresses, coats etc. You just have to get a bit creative with the apparel options. For example, a purple velvet night gown can be turned into a purple magician’s cape, or a pink dress can be turned into a Grecian Goddess’s gown.

At the Salvation Army, I was lucky to find a tan floor length sundress and some curtains that had a great fringe on them that I could use to border the dress (all for under $10). All I needed to do was shorten the dress and add some of the fringe from the curtains and my costume would be complete (not to mention, I would have the bragging rights to say that I made the costume myself).

So don’t be afraid to get creative with your costumes this year. The best place to start is in your closet and your friends’ closets. And remember to check out the local second hand store for some unique costume pieces. With a touch of creativity you can make a lasting impression with your sustainable Halloween costume!

Cut the Waste – No more paper coffee cups!

Coffee-statistics.com tells us that Americans alone consume 400 million cups of coffee per day — that’s 146 billion cups of coffee per year!

What’s really disturbing is that the US Census tells us that the American population as of 2007 is 301,621,157. 400 million cups per day for 300 million people!

Now, just imagine how many of those drinks are poured into single-use disposable coffee cups. According to Starbucks, if 50 customers at each location used reusable mugs, we would save 150,000 cups per day, reducing waste by 1.7 million pounds of paper per year.

Doing your part is easy – just bring a thermos or a mug to the coffee shop with you. Yale STEP has made it even easier with their stylish new STEP Mug, available for only $5. Contact your college’s STEP coordinator for one now!

The New Taboo: Bottled Water

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You may have heard the buzz surrounding the use of bottled water, and it seems like what was once quite an ordinary artifact at most barbecues, conventions, parties, and any other get-togethers (not to mention regular, everyday usage) has become a veritable symbol of wastefulness – and for good reason.

Here are 10 interesting (and somewhat scary) facts about bottled water:

1. “An estimated 25 percent or more of bottled water is really just tap water in a bottle—sometimes further treated, sometimes not treated at all.” – Allaboutwater.org

2. Drinking bottled water is 1000 (one thousand!) times more expensive than drinking tap water.

3. “In an interesting study conducted by Showtime television, the hosts found that 75% of tested New York City residents actually preferred tap water over bottled water in a blind taste test.” – Allaboutwater.org

4. “Bottling and shipping water is the least efficient method of water delivery ever invented. The energy we waste using bottled water would be enough to power 190,000 homes. But refilling your water bottle from the tap requires no expenditure of energy, and zero waste of resources.” – PBS.org

5. “The Earth Policy Institute estimated that to make the plastic for the [water] bottles [consumed annually] burns up something like 1.5 million barrels of oil, enough to power 100,000 cars for a year.” – SeattlePI.com

6. “Nearly 90 percent of [water] bottles are not recycled.” SeattlePI.com

7. “Bottled water is actually much less regulated than tap water. There are a number of studies in which we find arsenic, disinfection byproducts and bacteria in bottled water.” – SeattlePI.com, quoting Gina Solomon

8. 30 million water bottles are thrown away every day, and each one of them takes 1000 years to biodegrade. – emagazine.com.

9. “In one case, bottled water labeled as “Alaska Premium Glacier Drinking Water: Pure Glacier Water from the Last Unpolluted Frontier” was actually drawn from Public Water System #111241 in Juneau.” – emagazine.com.

10. Buying one gallon’s worth of bottled water is three times more expensive than buying one gallon of gasoline. – emagazine.com

If all that wasn’t enough to convince you not to buy bottled water, consider this: “Instead of relying on a mostly preexisting infrastructure of underground pipes and plumbing, delivering bottled water—often from places as far-flung as France, Iceland or Maine—burns fossil fuels and results in the release of thousands of tons of harmful emissions. Since some bottled water is also shipped or stored cold, electricity is expended for refrigeration. Energy is likewise used in bottled water processing. In filtration, an estimated two gallons of water is wasted for every gallon purified.” – emagazine.com

 

Now, here are tips for alternatives to buying bottled water:

 

-Get a filter for your tap (unless your tap water is quite good in the first place). There are many ways to go about doing this, from getting a Brita-filter to go over your faucet spout to installing one right into the sink system.

– Nalgene bottles are great.

-Brita pitchers are also really great for those who can’t get the faucet filters (e.g. college students).

-For barbecues, parties, and other events, use pitchers or water dispensers that you can use over and over again. In conjunction with these, try to also provide reusable cups instead of disposable cups, and if you must use disposables, try to get recyclable disposables.

 

Green Weddings

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Though the majority of you Yale Students won’t need to think about this anytime in the near future, at our last meeting, fellow RA Sara Smiley Smith brought up a really interesting subject: green weddings! There are a lot of ways to green a wedding:

– Use environmentally friendly invitations (and printed things in general)

– Use organic foods/catering, makeup products…

– Where appropriate, use as many recycled and recyclable products as you can (programs, thank-you cards, menus, flatware, etc.)

– Buy eco-friendly wedding rings (from recycled precious metals, etc.)

– Use a hybrid luxury car

– Ask your guests to buy you eco-friendly gifts (energy-star appliances, etc.)

– Get an eco-friendly wedding dress (yes, they exist!)

– …and many more! (See 10 Steps to a Green Wedding: http://sierraclub.typepad.com/greenlife/2007/03/10_steps_to_a_g.html )

Here is a slew of links you might find intriguing:

Green Wedding Services,

http://www.greenweddings.net/greenservices.html

Great Green Weddings,

http://www.greatgreenwedding.com/default.php

Environmental Wedding Favors,

http://www.favorideas.com/wedding-themes/unique-themes/green-or-environmental-wedding-favors/

Nice Day for a Green Wedding,

http://www.grist.org/advice/possessions/2003/05/08/

How Green Was My Wedding,

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/11/fashion/11green.html

Green Elegance Weddings,

http://www.greeneleganceweddings.com/

Global Giving, a resource for charitable and green gift registry,

http://www.globalgiving.com/howitworks.html

Perhaps, even though you yourselves probably won’t need these links anytime soon, you can bring up the idea of a green wedding in casual conversation if you know any couples that are planning to seal the deal…

PS: Don’t forget about a green honeymoon! (Ecotourism?…)

Desk-side Recycling

In efforts to encourage campus recycling and increase actual rates of recycling from 19% to 40%, the University has implemented a desk-side recycling program that puts two special bins at every office desk on campus which are emptied by custodians twice weekly. You may have seen these new trash and recycling bins, but may not know exactly how to use them, or even which one is which. deskside-recycling.jpg

Large Bin:

Mixed Paper

Resist the temptation to put garbage (food wrappers, plastic waste, etc.) in the large bin – after all, in an office, there is bound to be more paper trash than any other kind, so it makes sense that paper should go in the larger bin.

Mixed Paper Includes: Newspaper, white paper, colored paper, glossy paper, magazines, catalogs, envelopes*, manila folders, notecards, books, sticky notes, paperboard (thin cardboard). Envelopes are OK with or without plastic windows. Staples in Mixed Paper are OK.

Mixed Paper does not include: Food service paper, wax paper, paper cups, carbon paper, thermal fax paper, copy paper wrappers, paper clips.

Small bin: Trash

Here’s a list of things NOT to throw away here. Recycle these in the appropriate manner!

Printer Cartridges
Technoscrap (batteries, small electronics, etc)
Cans and Bottles

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Most of all, don’t throw away Mixed Paper! After all, the mixed paper bin is in the exact same place as the trash bin.

Waste Stream analyses suggest that 21% of our “trash” is actually recyclable mixed paper.

In fiscal year 2006, Yale generated 6186 tons of trash. According to CJ May of Yale Recycling, if we had recycled that 21% of mixed paper (equivalent to 1299 tons), we would have doubled our recycling rate from 19% to 38%, nearly reaching our target of 40%. If it is fully taken advantage of, the convenience of desk-side recycling is sure to help Yale’s campus reach the target recycling rate. Happy recycling!