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5 posts from September 2010

September 21, 2010

Clean and Green: tools, tips & tricks for tidying up without selling out

ACM_450_Kitchen Did you know that paper and paperboard products (paper towels, tissues, etc) made up 20.7 % of the municipal waste discarded in 2008--more than any other type of refuse? (6,550,000 tons!)

Think about it, every time you clean your house how many paper towels do you go through? What about sponges, disposable mop heads and dust cloths? What about all those harsh chemicals you spray into the air or toss away on a dirty paper towel?

Common household cleaners (including toilet bowl cleaners, air deodorizers, floor cleaners, window cleaners, and some detergents) often contain very toxic chemicals. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, even when used properly, these toxins make their way into the environment through evaporation of volatile components.

One obvious solution is to switch to reusable cleaning products - items like microfiber cleaning cloths, reusable scrub stones and refillable spray bottles. You could also switch to all-natural cleaning products - but those are often expensive and still come in throw-away containers - so we suggest making your own cleaners at home.

It might take a little getting used to - in fact, our photographer Sarah wrote a post on her journey to a "greener" clean earlier this year. (Check out Sarah's video below.) But once you make the switch, you'll marvel at how much money you save on disposables and how much lighter your cleaning-day trash bags become.

As Sarah mentioned in her post, we offer a few kits to get you started making your own all-natural cleaning products at home. In addition, we have a DIY Household Cleaners article in our DIY section, with links to some basic recipes for homemade cleaners. 

Finally, our brand-new DIY playlist on YouTube features videos handpicked by us, demonstrating how to make your own dish soap, bath tub cleaner and more. 

With just a few basic items, a handful of ingredients and a little elbow grease, you'll have an eco-friendly, sparkling clean home in no time. Check out this video of Sarah making DIY cleaners:

DIY Cleaning Solutions with reuseit™ spray bottles from reuseit.com on Vimeo.

Do you know of a great DIY cleaning recipe we should add to our DIY section? Leave us a comment! 

September 14, 2010

Check out our Vimeo channel + tell us your ideas & win

We're hard at work developing some really cool new videos for our site, and in the meantime we've been posting quick videos on our Facebook page highlighting our favorite new products. Check them out:

We've heard from our Facebook fans how helpful it has been to see new products being used by real, live people and now we want to hear from you.

Which products would you like to see in action in a quick video? Curious how the Soap Nuts work? Questions about refilling our dry erase markers? Tell us what videos you want to see and we'll start making them! In fact, we'll make one this week.

The person whose video we make this week will win a $25 gift certificate to our store. (So be sure to enter you email address!) Leave us your suggestions as comments and we'll pick a winner this week.

September 10, 2010

reuseit.com is a Proud Sponsor of the Wild and Scenic Environmental Film Festival

reuseit.com is a proud sponsor of the Wild & Scenic Environmental Film Festival at Columbia College’s Film Row Cinema on Wednesday, October 6th, 2010 from 5:30 – 9:00pm. (8th Floor, 1104 S. Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL)

Wild & ScenicThe films at this special event will showcase some of the people, places and stories that drive Environmental Law & Policy Center’s work. You can follow our water system from an acre of Iowa corn to the Gulf of Mexico, see how ordinary citizens are standing up against mining practices that destroy their landscape and watch green space spring up in the middle of downtown traffic. ELPC staff will be on hand to answer questions and explain ways we can all take part in efforts to protect our environment.

Refreshments, raffle prizes, entertainment and information make the Wild & Scenic Environmental Film Festival a great way to connect with Chicago’s environmental community.

For more information about the Film Festival and to purchase tickets online, please visit http://elpc.org/wseff.  *Advance ticket purchase recommended*

September 08, 2010

Natalie's Starbucks Survival Kit

20061101_starbucks_900x600 Don't get me wrong, I love the Fair Trade organic coffee we buy in bulk and grind fresh daily in the office kitchen. In fact, I am not ready to start my day at Reuseit without it. But once a week - usually Wednesday or Thursday when I start to run out of steam - I head to Starbucks for a pick-me-up.

Working at Reuseit I've learned a few easy ways to make my weekly treat more environmentally-responsible and today being a chilly morning in Chicago, I thought I'd share them.

First (and most obviously) bring your own mug! I like stainless steel because it keeps my coffee hot, but I see lots of people using the I Am Not A Paper Cup because it looks so much like a Starbucks cup. You can use the same mugs for iced drinks. The barista should knock a few cents off your drink every time you bring a mug, too.

Speaking of iced drinks - I have two tips for you. One: bring your own straw. It might not seem like a big waste when you look at the unassuming little straw in your cup, but if I'm going to Starbucks once a week, every week all year long that's at least 52 plastic straws a year I'm throwing away. (Not to mention all the paper they come wrapped in.) Again, I like stainless steel but glass is a fancy alternative. 

My second piece of advice for cold drinks is: if you have to take a disposable cup, reuse it. Not to drink from again, necessarily, but upcycle those plastic cups into something new. In fact, there is an entire website called Starbucks Garden 100% dedicated to ways you can reuse your coffee cups to grow your own food. 

I love sweets - and there are lots of them in the pastry case at Starbucks. I easily avoid taking a paper bag I don't really need by asking my barista to place my danish in a reusable sandwich bag. They do kind of think you're nuts at first, but it's a good way to get other people in line thinking about whether or not they really need to throw away so many paper bags every week as well. With my reusable napkin (that really doesn't get very dirty so I take it home once a week to wash with my other laundry), my mug, straw and sandwich bag I'm enjoying waste-free visits to Starbucks every week. 

At the cream and sugar counter I opt for sweeteners I can shake out of a larger container as opposed to one that comes in a disposable package, and I walk out full of caffeine and feeling pretty smart.

I'll leave you with a quote from one of my favorite blogs, Green Starbucks:

"'If only 50 customers a day in every store were to use reusable mugs, Starbucks would save 150,000 disposable paper cups daily. This equals 1.7 million pounds of paper, 3.7 million pounds of solid waste, and 150,000 trees a year.' In 2000 when this report was generated there were only 6500 stores worldwide. In 2007 there are 13,168 stores which means over 300,000 trees could be saved from landfills by BRINGING YOUR OWN CUP."

September 02, 2010

Guest blog: What's in Your Hand?

Everyone who shops at reuseit.com knows that plastic bags blow, but have you considered what happens to your facial tissue when you throw it away?  The tissues that fill your pocket or purse are just as unnecessary as the plastic bags that fill your cart because there is a great reusable alternative that is readily available -- The Handkerchief. IMG_4480 

The handkerchief is what people used for hundreds of years before 1930 when we all starting buying the disposable variety en masse.  I never thought of using a handkerchief until I met my husband ten years ago.  He didn’t grow up in the United States and had not been programed that he had to wipe his nose with a paper tissue, so he used a handkerchief.  I will admit, at first I thought his handkerchief use was a little weird, but it grew on me, and a year after meeting him I was a handkerchief convert.  
I prefer handkerchiefs for four reasons.  First, they are way more comfortable to wipe your nose on.  Secondly, they are much better for the environment since you are not throwing anything away and they take up virtually no space in a normal load of laundry. Thirdly, they do a much better job at improvising for other uses; wiping the faces and hands of my children, wrapping things up to store in my purse and cleaning my sunglasses are among a few alternative uses.  And finally, but less practically, they are way more stylish than a plain old white piece of paper to pull out of my purse for any of these uses.
Try it.  The cloth napkins in the store, work great as a handkerchief!  I know you will become a handkerchief convert too!


Julie-MagroJulie Magro blogs at To The Dinner Table, a blog devoted to easy, healthy, whole food, organic cooking for busy families.  Her and her husband, Leonard also help couples who work together with their blog, Boardroom Couple.