While gathering up promotional items for Half Price Books Earth Day Celebration Goodie Bags (Humble Location), one of the participating business owners described me as “earthy” to one of his associates. I’ve worked for a company I hear people refer to as “hippie” in nature for five years now, but I never thought of myself as being a hippie myself… I always just thought of myself as bookish. But I suppose working with people so dedicated to reusing and recycling, some of it had to sink into my being in an observable way.
Since I’m so “earthy,” I thought I’d share a little bit about what I do as part of my daily routine. I’m not out to save the world, just out to minimize my footprint when its convenient to do so.
1. Recycle cans. Its as easy as dropping your can items into a separate trash container. Sometimes loading them up and dropping them off at a recycling center is a hassle, that’s where nieces and nephews come in handy. Most kids will jump at the chance to earn some spare change (I know I LOVED collecting and selling crushed cans as a kid), so even if you don’t haul them off yourself, its probably pretty easy to find someone willing (and eager) to do it for you.
2. Reusable shopping bags. I don’t have a recycle pick up in my neighborhood. So rather than acquire a mountainous number of plastic bags I am too lazy to deliver to a recycling dispenser, I just use reusable ones instead. It saves me a lot of grief and guilt, and is surprisingly simple once you get in the habit of keeping a stash of them in your car. My favorites are Pat’s Bags at Half Price Books. They are $1.98, made of recycled water bottles, and have cute art designed by one of the store’s founders Pat Anderson.
3. Dump coffee grounds and egg shells in the garden. Instead of dumping my coffee grounds and egg shells in the trash, I make sure to mix it into my garden soil. Coffee grounds help keep nutrients in the soil, fight off diseases your plants can get, and keeps the garden soil looking dark and fresh. More specific information about coffee grounds can be found on this blog: http://groundtoground.org/2011/08/28/coffee-grounds-for-your-garden/. Egg shells are more specifically good for your vegetable garden, so I crush those up and put them with my tomatoes. More specific information on eggs shells in your garden can be found here: http://www.allotments.ie/?p=515.
4. All natural cleaning products. This habit benefits me two fold: I am allergic to everything, and its better for the environment. I am a huge fan of homemade mixes (using baking soda, vinegar, and essential oils), Seventh Generation, and J.R. Watson. As for my personal hygene, I love soap from Connie’s Bath Shack in Old Town Spring – http://conniesbathshack.com/.
5. Reuseable water bottles. I have reuseable water bottles galore from all the Earth Day Celebrations of Half Price Past. I don’t buy plastic water bottles in packs at the store, I diligently refill my Half Price Books bottles. Water bottles are a simple, yet awesome thing of genius, and you can get them anywhere, I think even Starbucks sells them.
As you can see, that’s not a lot, but I think it makes a big difference.
But, this is a book blog, so I’ll get to the bookish parts.
Half Price Books loves to celebrate Earth Day, and in working there for five years, I can proudly say it was my favorite time of the year in the four and half years I worked in the store. The displays are full of my favorite color (green), the nature and gardening sections become a little more prominent, people seem more interested in buying books to read outside under trees in parks… I love that. Smack dab in the middle of Spring, people just seem cheerier in general, and with Mother’s Day around the corner, and lawn projects in the works, I always felt like I had a better chance to help people out. One year, I even got to participate in a tree planting for Trees for Houston. Half Price Books sent a group of volunteers to the planting, as part of my working hours, to plant trees! That was an all out blast.
Visit your local Half Price Books on Earth Day, they just might be doing something cool that day. But even if there’s not too much out of the ordinary happening, its good to get your books reused! One of my favorite HPB purchases is actually featured in that ad to the left, Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods. I wrote a short review for it two years ago, after reading it on Earth Day 2010:
A Walk in the Woods makes me desperately want to go hiking. This was my first Bryson, I find the author surprisingly witty and fun, although perhaps a bit truthfully cruel in the beginning. I have to admit, prior to reading this I knew very little about the Appalachian Trail – it was a trail I had heard of but didn’t really have a clue about its length (Georgia to Maine, 2200 miles), its fame, or its history. This is the perfect blend of traveling memoir and a true survival/ adventure story, and I was completely captured by the weather conditions, the terrain, the fellow hikers, and the long nights in cold shelters. Its definitely an adventure I’d like to take, even if it means I only finish 39% of the trail like Bryson himself.
Another little favorite of mine is Don’t Throw It Out: Recycle, Renew, And Reuse to Make Things Last by Lori Baird and the Editors of Yankee Magazine. I picked this one up at Half Price Books too… yes, I’m a bit of a Half Price nut, I shop other places too, but HPB is my main hang out. Don’t Throw It Out is great because its half useful and half hilarious. There are some really handy tips, and some things I find ridiculous that I would never do. It makes for both an awesome reference book, and a conversation starter for your coffee table. Its got “more than a thousand ways to maximize the value of everything you own – from furniture and fishing reels, to cell phones and ceiling fans, to iPods and earrings.
Also, one of my most recent purchases, is Generation T: 108 Ways to Transform a T-shirt by Megan Nicolay. Its all in the title, take your old t-shirts that you would normally donate to Goodwill in order to go buy new clothes, and make new clothes out of them. Now this, you may not immediately think of as earth friendly, but any time you are reusing something you already have to make it something you’ll use more, you’re being earth friendly. (Its what I was raised to call being a “good steward of your resources.”)
So whether you pop into a used bookstore and pick up some new resources, ride your bicycle that day, take a gander in the public park or local arboretum, or start a new earth friendly habit… be a good steward of your resources and respect your world, take a moment, sniff the roses, and celebrate Earth Day!
*Disclaimer: Although I am currently an extremely part-time, work from home, employee for Half Price Books (about 20-30 hours a month to organize events like booksignings, raffles, and other fun stuff), this blog is purely my own. What I say here is always of my own volition, and is not backed or on behalf of the company. This is my personal blog of all my personal interests. Those personal interests just often include everything HPB as its a huge part of my world.