Thursday, January 22, 2009

Teaching Green

Workbook pages, dittos, xerox copies...paper, paper, paper!

Anyone who has a child in school knows about the deluge of paper sent home EVERY DAY. Honestly, much of it is needless. I'm not just saying that as the parent recipient of all this stuff, but as a teacher myself.

From the teacher's standpoint, we have all this great information to share. We don't want our students to miss a bit of it! I could honestly make a textbook sized handout of all the good info I find for my students. No one wants to shortchange education for green, so what do we do?

I teach at a high school and I try to reduce all the paper by emailing my students their homework as attachments. They type their answers on the homework and send it back to me- no paper! I also have a website with all the documents they can download and save. Added bonus for the teacher: your bag previously full of papers to grade is remarkably lighter and easier to carry (those of you who teach know about those heavy end-of-quarter bags full of papers!)

I would love it if my son's school would send the PTA letter by email, and post other information on their website. Hopefully, with continued nudging, this will be the case eventually. But in the meantime, we empty our backpacks right over the recycling bin.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Biodegradable trash bags

In the past year, we've really reduced our waste by composting, recycling, and making purchases that don't have excessive or non-recyclable packaging. I'd like to say we were like the writer for BBC News that tried her best not to buy ANYTHING plastic or packaged in plastic for a's much harder to do than you think! But, in reality, we do still have some trash that can't be recycled. We've always used the generic white kitchen trash bags, so I thought I'd look into biodegradable trash bags.

First, I found biobag dog waste bags. They're around $5-6 for a box of 50. Kind of expensive, but I didn't want to put something biodegradable like dog poop in a plastic bag that wouldn't biodegrade. So I lucked out and bought some from when they had a sale. I'm pretty happy with them. I thought about the biobag trash bags, but it seemed pointless when the stuff in the kitchen trash is stuff that won't biodegrade I bagged the idea (ha ha).

And then, when I was cleaning out the litter box (into a white trash bag), it occurred to me that I could use the biobags for this job. We use feline pine litter (love it!) and we have a fair amount of used litter each week, so I bought some kitchen sized biobags for the job. It makes sense since the pine litter will biodegrade. Overall, I am pretty happy with them, with the exception of their expense (again, wait for the sales) and they can puncture more easily than regular bags.

Hopefully these kinds of trash bags will catch on and eventually cost less, but in the meantime we'll continue to use them for our pet clean-ups. Do any of you have tips when it comes to biodegradable bags, or know of any other good brands?