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I just wanted to emerge through this ridiculous pile of papers that, sadly, is to blame for my continued absence this week.
Happy Friday, all! It’s supposed to be a scorcher in our area this weekend. It’s not even officially summer yet and we’ll have our ACs on high, for sure. Let’s just hope my flammable husband or the equally combustible heatbox baby both stay cool. I hope everyone else stays cool, where ever you may be!

Anyway, it’s been a while since I’ve done a product review, so I thought I’d take the chance to free my mind from my “real” writing and discuss something yummy.
While we were home the other weekend, one of my girlfriends came over to visit with her baby. Jack and Gavin are typically in similar developmental categories. And so, Tanya and I love to share with each other new finds. When Jack wasn’t trying to shake Gavin out of his carrier or pummel him with kissies , he was snatching poor Gav’s snack out of his hand. (Crikey. Sorry, buddy! We’re working on our social skills.)

I noticed the snack was something I’d never really seen before. Its white packaging resembled something I probably would have found at our local Japanese grocery store. It was small, flat and portable, somewhat similar to a shorter version of a fruit roll up package. When Tanya opened the package up for Gavin, it was an interesting snack that looked like a flat, airy half of a Milano Cookie (minus the chocolate) or cracker-like surfboard. “It’s a rice rusk and he loves it.” she told me. She went on to tell me that she found the package at a store we no longer frequent.
damn!

But lo and behold, last weekend, when we went to our neighborhood organic grocery store, I found a green box–vegetable flavor–that looked strikingly similar to Gavin’s snack! sweet!

babymummum

After we picked up diapers, some fruit and cereal, Jack and I started the walk home. Since it was just about time for a mid morning snack, I pulled out the Mum-Mum rice rusks to entertain him for the 20 minute walk. I normally don’t let him eat in his stroller because, well, he likes to make art out of it. But thankfully, it was virtually impossible for him to paint any new masterpieces with his snack because 1) the rick rusk was practically crumb-less and not mushy like other teething biscuits 2) he devoured the rusk in the blink of an eye.

I knew it had to be a good if the snack since it had a mom-friend’s approval. But even better, it has the kids stamp of approval, too!

As I’m trying to foster positive eating habits, in hopes our kid won’t inherit my horrible sweet tooth and snack addiction, I try to stay away from all those big brand, markety snack-pack for babies and kids. {We’ll package this product all pretty and convenient for you and charge double or triple than what you can get on another aisle.} For the most part, I consider it consumer brainwash. I have a hard time paying extra for convenience when in most cases, that convenience is the antithesis of being green. So, I tend to pack a banana (best snack ever since it has it’s OWN natural packaging!) or whatever frozen fruit we have onhand.

Back to the Mum Mum rice rusk. The company originates from Taiwan and has permeated to other asian countries. Their presence in the U.S. and Canada seems fairly new, but I think they’ll do well against the big name baby brands–especially at the inexpensive price tag. A box of Baby Mum-Mum rice rusk runs about $2, and that’s here in northern NJ. Like I mentioned before, we bought ours from our local organic store, but I also saw them at a gourmet grocery store and at Whole Foods for about the same price.

The ingredient list is as follows: Japonica Rice, Sugar, Skim Milk Powder, Salt

the company touts the mum-mums as

  • dissolving easily
  • no artificial colors or vlavors
  • no preservatives
  • wheat, egg and peanut free
  • cholesterol free
  • baked, low in fat & no trans fat
  • no added fats or oils

The downside, to me, is the excess packaging. Two rice rusks are paired and packaged as individual snacks. As convenient as it is, I could do without the individual packaging. Other than that, the mum-mums don’t offer much sustenance. But from experience, I can tell you, they’re great as a time-killing distraction for a bored baby or a great way to keep them occupied until meal time. Considering these are the only snack that Jack can feed himself without destroying his clothes in the process, I consider them a mainstay in our diaper bag.
They also offer Toddler Mum-Mum, SuperSlim Brown Rice Crisps, SuperSlim Rice Crisps and Rice Crisps.

Like I playfully chant to Jack, “yum yum for the bum bum.”

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Today’s one of those two handed umbrella-wielding days. The one handed umbrella grip just isn’t enough to stay upright in this wind and rain! What a contrast from the flip flop-gorgeous weather we this past weekend. The weekend was so lovely, it was one of those weekends that I didn’t want to end.

I'm a flower killerThis weekend was productive and memorable, with many thanks to my thoughtful husband and son. We spent much of Saturday doing the usual errands and chores. While Jack and I were hitting Target and the grocery store, Jeff, apparently, was out doing some shopping of his own. Jeff, like most husbands, is NOT a shopper. It meant the world to me that he was out and about shopping at my expense. Once we reconvened at home, Jeff brought home a nice bouquet of hydrangeas, which, surprise, I killed within the same day. (Don’t ask me how I killed fresh cut flowers, but I did it!)
We went out and picked up Jack’s convertible car seat since he has officially surpassed the weight limit for his infant seat. And since we were out west, we popped in to visit our friends and to do a little “browsing.”

Sunday was fun day for us. While our Sunday wasn’t the same as Sunday Funday that you debaucherous youngsters like to call it these days. Our version of Sunday fun day was so much fun. The day started out with cards and gifts too (thank you to friends and family for thinking of me. Two or three cards are actually missing from this pic! I’ll have to take an updated picture for my own records). Jack, btw, was a fan of the singing card that Jeff got me. He does his little dance where he waves his arms like he’s a bird and grooves his little body while he’s sitting on the floor–the same one he does any time he hears music!

Aside from the cards, Jack (actually Jeff) bought me this really wonderful cubby container from this awesome local vintage/antique store. Not sure if anyone appreciates eclective finds like we do, but this thing is so cool! There’s a story behind it that I’m sure Jeff could tell much more accurately, but basically, it looks like a card catalog drawer, which was actually a drawer from a local electronics(?) company that has since relocated. cards and my giftThe drawers took up an entire wall and contained various bolts and tools and the like. My specific drawer has a pull-looking thing on the front which once indicated the enclosed contents. It’s painted a very 70’s burnt sienna hue, which Jeff says he’d like to sand and repaint, just to be safe. Since it looks like a card catalog, Jeff suggested that I could store Jack’s books and such inside. But quite honestly, Jack has so many books, he needs an entire wall of shelves. So, I think I’ll use my drawer to contain memories, or rather, hard copies of pictures, cards or whatever else that I’d like to scrapbook at a later date. And how cool is it that not only is it a green gift, but it also has its own charm and history that I can take with me. In the future, I can totally see it in my craft room/office. But for now, it’ll look perfect on my shelving area. As someone who has journaled and made scrapbooks before it became a multi-million dollar industry, my little drawer is so ‘me!’ My boys help with the memory-making, but it’s my unspoken role to actually collect and preserve them.
In addition to the cards and vintage gift, Jeff got some wonderful seats to the Mets game for yesterday’s game! What a fun time that was! Separate post and pictures to come 🙂

I hope everyone’s Mother’s day was just as beautiful!

I guess because we’re old(er) and crotchety, or perhaps it’s because we’re too cynical for our own good, but whatever it is, we don’t really partake in the Hallmark holiday. I mean, we’ll probably go out tomorrow night, but trust me, we’re not going OUT-out.

According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), the average consumer plans to spend $122.98 on Valentine’s Day, up from $119.67 in 2007. Total retail spending for the holiday is expected to reach $17.02 billion.

I did a little more digging and found some outdated, but interesting facts on Vday. Regardless of the current validity, people like to spend big on Feb. 14.

Valentine’s Day Average Spending

  • The average male plans to spend $135.67.
  • The average female plans to spend $68.64.
  • Consumers aged 45-54 plan to spend more than any other age group, at $128.78 each, up from $118.11 last year and $88.96 two years ago.
  • Consumers aged 18-24 plan to spend $81.89 this year, a decrease from $83.50 last year and a dramatic drop from $154.65 two years ago.

How Much on Whom This Valentine’s Day

  • Valentine’s Day shoppers plan to spend $64.63 on their significant other or spouse, with consumers aged 25-34 planning to spend more than any other age group.
  • Valentine’s Day shoppers plan to spend $20.74 on other family members beside their spouses.
  • Valentine’s Day shoppers plan to spend $5.06 on friends.
  • Average spending on children’s classmates and teachers is expected to be $3.52.
  • Average spending on co-workers is expected to be $2.56.
  • $4.38 will be spent on other people, such as neighbors and babysitters.

Valentine’s Day Fun Facts

* Consumers purchased an estimated 180 million roses for Valentine’s Day in 2005 with 74 percent of rose purchases for Valentine’s Day being made by men, according to the Society of American Florists.
* Valentine’s Day is the number one floral market holiday, capturing 35 percent of holiday transactions and 34 percent of dollar volume, also according to the Society of American Florists.
* In February 2005, jewelry stores in the United States sold $2.4 billion worth of merchandise, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
* Approximately 180 million cards are exchanged industry-wide (excluding packaged kids’ valentines for classroom exchanges), making Valentine’s Day the second largest holiday for giving greeting cards, according to Hallmark.
* More than 36 million heart-shaped boxes of chocolate are sold for Valentine’s Day, according to the Chocolate Manufacturers Association and National Confectioners Association.
* Valentine’s Day is the fourth biggest holiday of the year for confectionery purchases, after Halloween, Easter and Christmas, according to the National Confectioners Association.

And speaking of cynical, look at this dude. The Hallmark Holiday is so uninteresting to him.

I mean, really mom? Kung Fu Fighting Gorillas?

P.S. Can you imagine the looks I got from the sales associates and early morning shoppers watching me dangle a dancing stuffed toy and my camera phone in my kid’s face?

When I’m not busy perusing the endcaps at Target in search of more stuff that I probably don’t need, I can probably be found wagging my finger at my husband, and now my baby, chanting, “Because of you, I’ll never have nice things.”

Surely, I jest.

It’s not just them. I’m to blame, too!

But really? It’s kinda sorta true. If it’s not barf stains on the floor or baby poop stains on my white sheets, it’s coffee explosions. It’s always going to be something. I’m as clumsy as they get, so let’s face it: the stains are here to stay.

Or are they?
Our cleaning arsenal includes the run of the mill toxic cleaners to the laundry detergent sticks. As we started to Green our home over the years, we added the more eco-friendly alternatives like Method (which is too fragrant for my liking) and the Seventh Generation staples. The greenest alternative to all of the above would be using mundane ingredients already onhand at home such as, baking soda and vinegar, but with many product manufacturers cashing in on the Green market, there are now more alternatives to cleaning supplies for mainstream consumers.

But since the Product Pusher delivered, I thought I’d review a few cleaning goodies that we’ve had a chance to try.

mn_stainremover-copy.jpgWith our big boy eating so much, so often, it’s inevitable: he poops a lot. And when I mean a lot, I mean A LOT. Since I’ve introduced formula into his weekday regimen, you guessed it, “things” changed. Put it this way, I’ve had to throw pajamas away because cleaning the er, uh “disaster” would’ve been a lost cause. Every once in awhile, we’ll be fortunate to have a more containable mess. More recently, Jack had a smaller accident on a pair of jeans and a basic cotton onesie. It was the perfect opportunity to test out this baby stain remover.
We applied the Mother Natural stain remover to the affected areas of the clothes, let it sit and then soaked for a few minutes. Everyone knows that these sort of stains are tough, so naturally, (pun intended) I didn’t think the stain remover would help. When it was time to check on the stained clothes, minutes turned to hours, but to my surprise, the stain remover did a decent job at diminishing the once very yellow stain. I say diminish, because unlike the more stronger heavy duty conventional stain removers, the Mother Natural stain remover did a more gentle job at lifting the stains. The stain was still there, but just barely. And so, once I finally washed those clothes, the stain was almost completely removed. Almost, but not quite!
I was pretty pleased with the Mother Natural stain remover. It did its job and I felt ok knowing that the baby’s clothes weren’t completely doused in bleaches and a host of unpronounceable chemicals that would possibly add to his already itchy belly (thanks to my family’s history of bad skin.)
The manufacturers say the stain remover includes: Plant cleansers derived from natural sources such as coconut and palm, natural salts, natural enzymes, natural moisturizer, distilled water, and plant based essential oils.

While I’m on a (virtual) cleaning foray, I wanted to mention a mainstay in the diaper bag. When Jack was being passed from uncle to auntie and back to mom the other weekend, unexpected spit up was bound to happen. Unfortunately, my brother Jeff was tagged with his nephew’s spiddle. My older brother, unsure how to react, handed me back the babe and motioned for my pant leg.
giovannirecharge.jpgYeah, my pant leg.

I wagged my finger at him, told him to hold on and instinctively grabbed for these wipes. I grabbed the very convenient silver packet, i.e., Uncle Jeff’s savior from the baby mess.
Thanks to the Product Pusher, we carry around these Giovanni Recharge wipes that are the much more sophisticated (check out the dramatics on their site,) eco-friendly big sister to Wet Naps. The Giovanni packets come in a pouch with 20 individually wrapped biodegradable, antibacterial, antiseptic, sanitizing and moisturizing wipes. I did notice that these wipes, like most antiseptic hand cleansers, include Benzalkonium chloride, which is known to be an allergen.

Nevertheless, they are a nice change of pace, in terms of quick refreshers or clean ups. I like the fact that, as their name implies, they are refreshing. They come in four different scents; I personally like the Recharge Peppermint because of the minty scent and subtle tingle.

Not just for baby cleanups, I have several of these lying in the wings of my work bag…because if it’s not the baby, it’s usually me dribbling coffee down my hands and sleeves.

You may or may not know, but I hear angels sing when I see that red bullseye. I heart Target that much.

Bargain hunting and finding cool stuff are synonymous with any trip to Target, but it was my latest find at the Dollar Spot that made me love the big box store even more. The corner of the store that normally sells tchotchkes, crafty items and stocking stuffer-worthy toys, now offers Target reusable bags. As if I needed more reasons to love Tar-jay, their Dollar Spot gives me a reason to wake up even earlier every Saturday morning.

Like most environmentally-conscious stores, Target has pledged to do their part to go green. It’s not that I needed another reusable bag to add to my growing collection, but it was my Dollar Spot find that made me realize that the more conscious the general public gets about the environment, the more mainstream these eco-friendly products become. It’s the sign of the times.
Target reusable bagOk, back to the cool bag. The green find, or rather, the red find, is a reusable bag composed of 100% recyclable polypropylene fabric. The bags are Green Bags and were initially launched in CA as part of a regulatory requirement. The bag is now making its presence in other states.

According to Sustainable is Good, the Target reusable shopping bags feature some original and interesting graphic design. The design on the bag features the Target tree bullseye illustration done by MinTarget reusable bagneapolis-based Wink.

The durable totebags are environmentally-friendly and include handles. My favorite feature? When not in use, the bag can be folded and packed away into the built-in zippered pouch. In case your Target doesn’t carry the bags, you can also find them online.

For $1, you can’t go wrong. Green, cool and compact.

The three of us had a very enjoyable, but productive weekend. As he does every morning, my infant alarm clock went off even before the sun was out. Jack and I got dressed and ventured out for our weekly trip to the best place on earth, Target. Jack and I both drooled as we oggled at all the unnecessary and necessary goodies. By 9:30 a.m. we were done with Target and went home to wake Jeff.
Can you go any faster?
With what seemed like all of northern NJ, we went to the baby store to pick out Jack’s new toy. Jack’s Exersaucer occupied a majority of the weekend. From the assembly, to the corralling of 12 (!) AAA batteries to the wobbly, upright Riverdance, the Exersaucer, so far, has proven to be hours of endless fun.
Aside from the new toy, we were productive by going grocery shopping at my 2nd favorite place on earth, Trader Joe’s. After weexersaucer 008 officially bought more than our refrigerator, freezer and makeshift cupboard could hold collectively, we headed back home. The weather was nice enough to walk around and be outside, so the boys and I walked to a little family festival indoors. He was pretty clueless as to what was going on, considering we plucked him out of his stroller and woke him from his strolling slumber. He was so disinterested at first, he made a point to barf on us both, separately. On the bright side, exersaucer 049Jack got to participate in a baby class while we were there. Even though Jeff asserted that the class was a good example of “herding cats,” Jack seemed to like looking at all the other little faces and hearing his people. He did seem to drool a bit more and also attempted to ‘talk’ with the lady teaching the little class– who Jeff described as “hot mess who sang like a really bad choir lady.”

Afterwards, we walked to Jeff’s favorite restaurant which was across the street. We had a delicious lunch and a few beers before the arctic cold rolled in. Shortly after we paid our bill, the bathe boys at Helmersbe began to expire and rightly so, whined because it was his time to eat. And as soon as we knew it, the weekend was over as soon as it began!

It’s a good weekend if it’s filled with beer, toys, Target and Trader Joe’s. Oh and my boys, too.

I hope you’re wearing your red today.

In case you haven’t heard, today is National Wear Red Day. It’s the day where everyone is encouraged to wear red to raise awareness in heart disease, specifically among women.

I’m sure you know someone who was affected by heart disease in one way or another. My grandma, who was very much my 2nd mom, passed in 2002 after a long battle with various ailments following a severe stroke. While she may not have succumbed to heart disease, after her passing, I made it a personal mission to become more aware about stroke and heart disease. Thus, I became an advocate for the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association.

Did you know heart disease is the number 1 killer of women?

Go RedAs ASA says, the color red and the red dress now stand for the ability all women have to improve their heart health and live stronger, longer lives. In some cases, heart disease can be prevented. Education and awareness go a long way.

Even if you missed the memo about wearing red, find out what you can do to support the cause.

P.S. Macy*s is offering a 15% discount to those that participate in National Wear Red Day.

We have yet another road trip to Va this weekend. And since we’re leaving right after work tomorrow, I’m visualizing what I need to pack for myself…which reminded me of my latest post-partum debacle over the weekend.

I spent almost the entire weekend at the mall. I wasn’t on a boot shopping spree, unfortunately. Instead, this weekend, I had the misfortune of having to go dress shopping– because you know, my closest full of ‘old’ dresses just won’t do.

The baby’s baptism is on Sunday in Va. and of course, I had no problem helping to outfit both boys. The problem, as always, was me.

We went to one of the big outlet malls near us on Saturday and I swear, I must have circled this place 3 times. As I weaved in and out of Marshall’s, Filene’s Basement, Banana Republic and Kenneth Cole outlets, Jeff and the baby were so patient in my fruitless search.

Since I’ve had the baby, we’ve been to several weddings and other events that called for nice dresses. I wore dresses I already owned and showed off my post partum figure unapologetically. I mean, who cares? I just had a baby that was too big to come out on his own.
Yeah, I felt great while I was pregnant. But now that it’s been several months, I feel as though I need to at least look like I made an effort to ‘clean up.’

See, part of the problem I found was that everything I looked at either had a neckline that plunged to your navel and looked all hoochie mama-like or had frumpy silhouettes and floral prints that were ugly enough to make the Golden Girls nauseous.

I’ve lived in jeans and Chucks all day for the past few months, it’s hard to shed the comfort level.  I know I’m not alone in feeling like this, so I did a little search online for some inspiration. Basically, most of the sites suggested the same thing: to embrace motherhood while being yourself, go for solids, avoid being overly trendy and accessorize when you can. Then why is it so difficult to find something that’s more me and not somebody’s grandmother or pre-pubescent hoochie-mama cousin? I’m old(er) now; while some of my friends can get away with shopping in the Jr’s department, I can’t.

Frustrated at my lack of options, I told Jeff that maybe I’d wear a suit next Sunday. Two pieces, tailored, nice, plenty of fabric to cover all the unforgiving areas.

“But don’t you want to look more ‘motherly?'” Jeff asked?

If it were only that easy.

goldengirls.jpg

If motherly means looking like Betty White, then no thanks.
I might as well buy some mom-jeans and be done.

But alas, my search ended at the Gap with a simple A-line and empire jersey dress. The higher waist and jersey material are both forgiving and flattering. Three bonuses– it’s got pockets to hold backup pacis, has nursing accessibility and costs well under $100.

It’s classic, modern and without being TOO motherly.
Thankfully, at least I hope, I won’t be looking like a Golden Girl this weekend.

or should it be linkies?

I’m on deadline this week, so it’s a bit fitting that I’m also delirious. I’m delirious not because of the workload, but because a certain somebody decided that 5:00 am would be a good time to sing and dance. Good God, kid. The birds weren’t even up yet! I suppose, if I had to choose, singing and dancing is better than crying and wailing 😉

Anyway in my quest to expand other horizons, I’m hoping to finally update my blogroll but before I do, I wanted to share some links that I love. Like the packrat I am, I have Post Its full of links crowding my computer screen. Well on my way to having a fluorescent pink and yellow-colored computer screen, it’s a good thing I added the Stumble Upon toolbar to remedy the situation.

As if I needed to reinforce how much time I spend on the internets, I thought I’d share a few of those sites:

I’m a big fan of Green Mom Finds. Products, news, eco-friendly finds, giveaways? It’s like the holy grail of green living.

Teensy Green is another green-influenced site chock-full of great products, baby friendly finds and a fountain of information.

My sewing machine has been collecting dust for the past few months, but with the kid drooling by the buckets, I hope to work on more sewing projects like these. Aptly titled, Happy Things, this site is definitely a inspiration for creativity with a collection of great projects.

Married to a tech nerd geek who, coincidentally,kitchencontrap.jpg works for a big box store, people automatically assume our kitchen is filled with the most beautimus kitchen appliances and gadgets. This is soooo not the case when you can only fit one person in the space at a time. How in God’s name would I be able to fill it with any more gadgets? A girl can still dream via Kitchen Contraptions.

Remember when I was working on the closet-nursery and referencing Apartment Therapy Baby? Well, as the main site grew, so did its design and spinoff sites. ATB is now Ohdeedoh and their Green Living site is Re-nest.

1000places.jpgOh, and because I’m due for a beachy vacation one day soon, The Official Site of 1,000 Places to See Before you Die is a reminder of one of the reasons why I’m ok with leaving the boy every day. Besides helping to take care of our family, working to see the world is a dream that will never die 🙂

I’ve got plenty more where these came from, but back to work I go. Enjoy!

As I promised earlier in the month, it’s my hope that our family will grow greener every day.
In between my normal research, I’ve been perusing websites via Stumble Upon (I highly recommend for reading fanatics and Internets/blog enthusiasts alike) to do my part in going green. In my opinion, part of the importance of going green is knowledge. As with any topic you might care about, the more you know, the more you can implement and hopefully, one day go on to influence others.
I’m over the whole, “I don’t have time for that,” or “I’m too busy to bother” mentality. Yes, we’re all busy carting children, paying bills and commuting to work. But realistically, making small, simple adjustments in your day-to-day routine makes a big green difference. And appropriately enough, the Today Show did a segment on this exact topic this morning.

Did you know that some countries are banning and limiting the usage of plastic bags? Specifically, China has banned plastic bags which goes into effect on June 1, right before the Beijing Summer Olympics. More locally, New York recently approved a bill requiring large stores to provide bins for recycling plastic bags.

Before I gifted myself with a bigger totebag for Christmas, I was lugging my pump, work papers and daily supplies in my ratty old canvas Whole Foods bag. I’ve had this thing for probably 4 years and its functionality alone was worth every penny of its $8 pricetag. By carrying this bag on a regular basis, I probably avoided the unnecessary usage of a few hundred paper or plastic bags from my various shopping trips and on my commute home. In fact, I read just this week that Whole Foods is going to stop offering plastic bags all together. According to the chain, by eliminating their bags, that would mean roughly 100 million plastic bags will be kept out of the environment by the end of 2008. Go Whole Foods! byob_long.jpg

Most recently, over the weekend at a different grocery store, in addition to my canvas bag, I brought along 12 plastic bags from my Christmas shopping adventures to re-use at the grocery store. When the cashier leaned over to grab one of the bright yellow bags to start bagging my groceries, I held up my canvas bag full of used bags to tell her I brought my own. Sure, reusing the bags meant that I had to remember to bring them along, as well as pull them out before all my bread was smushed by the cans, all while I made sure my drooling baby stayed asleep during the whole process. With a few extra minutes of effort, I sacrificed convenience and slightly diminished my carbon footprint for that particular day.

And wouldn’t you know it? My grocery store even “rewards” you with an $.11 refund for each recycled bag. Apparently, many groceries stores are going green, too. It’d behoove you to see if your store does something similar. If not, pull out those old plastic bags you’ve been saving and bring them with you the next time you go grocery shopping.

Last year, when the U.S. IKEA stores started to charge for bags, my immediate reaction was frustration for having to buy a resuable bag to lug our picture frames and shelves to the car. But now, I love my very handy bright blue reusable IKEA tote for carrying detergent to the laundromat and groceries up and down the stairs. It definitely beats having to use those annoying plastic bags that create more harm than convenience.

What it comes down to is this: well over a billion single-use plastic bags are given out for free each day. Those free bags, in turn, add to our landfills take up to 1,000 years to degrade. 1,000 years! When plastic bags breakdown, small plastic particles can pose threats to marine life and contaminate the food web. According to reusablebags.com, a 2001 paper by Japanese researchers reported that plastic debris acts like a sponge for toxic chemicals, soaking up a million fold greater concentration of such deadly compounds as PCBs and DDE (a breakdown product of the notorious insecticide DDT), than the surrounding seawater. These turn into toxic gut bombs for marine animals which frequently mistake these bits for food.

So, the next time you hear paper or plastic, the greenest answer would be neither. Reuse, reuse, reuse.