Spit That Out!

The Overly Informed Parent's Guide to Raising Children in the Age of Environmental Guilt by Paige Wolf

Blogging about green guilt, eco-anxiety, and finding practical, reasonable ways to keep our families safe and healthy.

Win Big with Philadelphia Recycling Rewards Sweepstakes

April 9, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: philadelphia, recycling 

With Philadelphia Recycling Rewards, you already get rewarded for recycling at home and reducing trash. But now you have a chance to win even bigger rewards:

Enter the Philadelphia Recycling Rewards Sweepstakes for your chance to win huge prizes like a year’s worth of free groceries, free Transpass for a year and $100 gift cards to Target. Just put a Rewards Sticker on your bin to get started!

Mayor Nutter and the City of Philadelphia want you to earn rewards when you recycle right with Philadelphia Recycling Rewards, the city-wide program powered by RecycleBank. All you need to get started is the Philadelphia Recycling Rewards sticker on your recycling container so you can be rewarded for recycling.

Get started now by signing up online.

If you are already participating in the recycling awards program, just continue to set your recycling curbside and log-on to the website to ensure your account is activated.   You can also get additional entries by redeeming your points online, referring friends to sign up, and completing “learn and earn” activities online (which, truth be told, aren’t all sponsored by brands I advocate, but I suppose you have to break a few eggs to make an omelet.)

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Best and Worst Green Apps for Smartphones

March 22, 2012 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: food + water, health, home, how-to, recycling, travel 

apps

Smartphones might not be the most sustainable devises on the planet. But at least they offer dozens of free apps to help you live a greener lifestyle. Here are my personal favorites:

1. Paper Karma: This free app allows you to opt out of catalogs and junkmail just by snapping a picture with your smartphone. I already subscribe to Catalog Choice and all the other “do not mail” services, but I still keep getting pet care catalogs meant for a previous homeowner who apparently ran a dog-washing service called “Le Pooche” out of my basement.

2. Recycle Bank: You know how much I love Recycle Bank. Use this app to track your points and search for rewards on the go.

3. iRecycle by Earth911: Just select the item you want to recycle and this app will tell you your closest location.

4. Dirty Dozen: The must-have produce shopping app from Environmental Working Group

5. Seafood Watch: A similar app for seafood – make the best purchasing and ordering decisions for sustainably caught fish.

6. Locavore: Find local, in season food in your area including nearby farmer’s markets

7. Healthy Child Pocket Guides: This app from Healthy Child Healthy World offers a handy guide to those plastic numbers and other simple how-tos for easier greener living.

8. Label Look-up: So that product has an  “Eco Logo” or “Fragrance Free” label. But what does that really mean, if anything? This app will tell you in a pinch.

 

And now for the worst…

1. Good Guide: It’s a great concept: scan items on the shelf to find their ratings based on healthy, safety, and ethical practices. But I can’t wholeheartedly endorse it because the “scientific” ratings seem too arbitrary. Loreal and Cover Girl cosmetics get the highest score for health with “no ingredients of concern?” Uncle Ben’s rice rates higher than Back to Nature Organic? Annie’s Organic Mac & Cheese ranks low because it doesn’t have a strict child labor policy?

2. Fair Trade Finder: I hate to knock a good try, but this crowd-sourced application for finding nearby fair trade items is pretty much limited to finding a lot of Honest Tea. That said, with more input from users it could become a helpful tool for finding a fair trade cup of coffee on the go.

What are your must-have green living apps? And which have you downloaded that could use an upgrade?

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Be an “Extreme Organic Couponer:” My Action News Segment

October 17, 2011 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: food + water, how-to, press 

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Philadelphia’s Quadrupled Recycling Rate

July 13, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: philadelphia, recycling 

WHYY Newsworks recently reported that Philadelphia has quadrupled its recycling rates in just four years!

The rate increase is owed to several of the city’s programs, including single stream recycling, acceptance of all plastics, law enforcement, and, of course, Recycle Bank. It’s great to see my city on the right track and a leading example of how when you give people education and tools, they – for the most part – want to do the right thing.

I’ve talked before about Philadelphia’s combined “carrot and stick” approach. Despite some pitfalls and complaints, we seem to be moving forward at an exponential rate!

Read more here: http://www.newsworks.org/index.php/health-science-multimedia/item/22858-how-philadelphia-quadrupled-recycling-rates-in-four-years

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Green Deals Resource Update

February 27, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: babies + kids, beauty, charity, fashion, food + water 

That’s the thing about printing nonfiction – information can change when the ink is barely dry. Fortunately, most of the information in my book is evergreen and I’ve used a printing process (along with Kindle) that can be easily updated.

In the meantime, I want to address the untimely demise of a handful of useful Web sites noted in my book.

Sadly, Veggie Trader claims to have “gone on to the great compost pile in the sky.” Its dedicated followers are crushed, and it sounds as if something similar may pop up in the future. But meanwhile, building relationships through Craigslist and Freecycle may be your best bet for veggie exchange. Just remember to be safe – meet any new “online friends” in a public place for any exchange of goods or money. You may also meet likeminded folks at your CSA pick-up or farmer’s market!

Ecobunga has pared down its offerings to a Facebook fan page, but still offers plenty of easily accessible information on green deals and giveaways. But as one browser window closes, another always opens, and OrganicDeals.com covers similar territory and currently updates regularly throughout the day.

The newest crop of savings can be found through the ubiquitous “daily deal” sites like Groupon, Daily Candy Deals, and Zulily. Greenies have their own place to save on sustainable and ethical products with sites like Pure Citizen, Neerg, and GreenDeals.org (Deals from Green America-approved businesses)

I’m not sure how one of my favorite things in the world slipped through the cracks of my book! With RecycleBank.com, you can sign up to get rewarded just for recycling! Just apply the Recycle Bank sticker to your recycling bin and you can begin earning points good for discounts and freebies from brands like Kashi, Happy Baby, Nature Made, Seventh Generation, Clean Well, and dozens of locally owned businesses. I’ve gotten four free magazine subscriptions, loads or coupons, and dozens of free baby products. An average recycler earns between $130 and $200 in reward value each year from home recycling alone.

As new information develops, I will make updates in all book editions. But in the meantime, having this blog is a great way to keep up at the speed of Internet connection! Please let me know if I am missing anything!

UPDATE 4/18/11: GREENBABYBARGAINS.COM is BACK! :)

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By Carrot or By Stick, Philadelphia Needs to Step Up Commercial Recycling Enforcement

September 2, 2010 by · 9 Comments
Filed under: recycling 

If you know me, you know I am a huge fan of Philadelphia.

I’ve seen great steps toward sustainability in the past couple of years, including improved single stream recycling, Big Belly Solar Trash Cans, and Recycle Bank. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have a few bones to pick. Interestingly enough, a few of the biggest bones seem to intersect in a way that begs for resolution.

Philadelphia is notorious for being a city that goes to great lengths to make its residents and businesses pay for the privilege of living here. In fact, it is our Business Privilege Tax – which recently got some national attention for its outrageousness – that has had small business owners like myself paying exorbitant amounts to the city despite paltry profits and minimum use of city resources. And you only need to turn on A&E’s Parking Wars to see that reducing carbon footprints isn’t the only reason to avoid driving around the city.

It’s pretty clear that the city is desperate to make every penny it can. And with taxes that drive away potential businesses, it doesn’t look they are too worried about stepping on any company’s toes. So why aren’t they collecting money from one of the simplest sources of revenue: Fine businesses for not recycling.

They could collect thousands of dollars and make some serious impact on landfill reduction. And collecting fees from businesses should be easier than collecting from residents – you can’t always chase a wayward taxpayer, but L&I can shut down a business faster than you can find a recycling bin.

Now, the city claims that they already do this. In fact, it is technically illegal for commercial buildings to not have paid recycling removal. My last inquiry to the Mayor’s Sustainability Office resulted in this response:

The Streets Department agrees that increased recycling does save the City money. The more we recycle the more we save on costly landfill fees. However, most businesses are privately collected, so the potential savings for increased recycling from businesses is minimal. Our enforcement program has written over 30,000 recycling violations over the last two years and will continue to target businesses and residents that do not recycle. During this time we have seen our recycling tonnages increase by more than 50%.

OK, so 30,000 recycling violations. They could write 30,000 recycling violations in one week. And how many of these were actually businesses? Residents aren’t really the problem anymore. Between free single stream recycling, increased awareness, and actual incentives like Recycle Bank, I rarely pass a house on trash day without a blue bin. That’s not to say that residential recycling shouldn’t be promoted and enforced, but let’s compare one household’s waste production with that of say, a restaurant or bar or office building – it is literally mountains versus molehills.

I was speaking with Vance Lehmkuhl who writes the Earth To Philly column for the Philadelphia Daily News, and he agreed that the city should be penalizing companies who fail to recycle. But on the flipside, it would be nice if they had the incentives that residents do. When I bring this topic up to business owners, they complain that they are forced to pay for their recycling pick up and management and don’t feel like shelling out the money. So maybe the city also needs to do a better job of giving businesses the incentives to recycle, perhaps with a tax break?

I find it hard to believe that these are novel ideas. Someone at the city government level must have considered that whether it’s by use of “the carrot or the stick,” businesses need to be encouraged to recycle.

Whether the city decides to get businesses on board for love of the planet or for their love of fining people, it doesn’t really matter as long as the ends justify the means.

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