Saturday, December 26, 2015

Granola-eating Terracycler

A few years ago, I started buying the delicious Bear Naked granola to add to my yogurt. Upon closer inspection of the packaging one morning, I noticed small print encouraging me to "Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose" through the Bear Naked Sustainable Packaging Project. Wait...tasty granola that recycles its packaging?! Dream. come. true. At that point, I became a dedicated consumer of the granola and collector of the granola bags. Eventually had enough to send in, and by paying a small shipping fee, I had earned an Upcycler t-shirt! Being that he wears a t-shirt almost every day of his life, I gifted the shirt to Ryan, who also happens to be the most creative up-cycler I know. From then on, I was hooked. Although I haven't been eating as much granola lately, I've continued to save stockpile Bear Naked packaging in anticipation of earning an even more awesome prize.
So imagine my disappointment when I went on the Bear Naked website and could no longer find information on how to exchange my pile of empty packages for prizes...until I clicked on the somewhat hidden TerraCycle® link under their "Forward Thinking" description.

That is when I hit the jackpot.

Since earning the Upcycler t-shirt (which could have been five years ago for all I know),  the good people at TerraCycle® have expanded their recycling program. They now collect baby food and juice pouches, used Brita® products, empty Colgate® packages, Glad® food storage products, cigarette waste, used shoes, and more! Being that I already HATE throwing these items in the trash and LOVE sending packages in the mail, I cannot come close to describing how excited I am about discovering this program. 

After creating an account, you can choose from various "Brigades" to join. Basically this means selecting the types of products you are going to collect and send in. So far I've been able to join the Bear Naked® and Colgate® Brigades, and am on the waiting list(!) for Glad® and Tom's of Maine®.  By sending in your used products (using their free, pre-paid, printable shipping label!), you can earn points that can be redeemed for charitable gifts, product bundles, and collection materials. Way better - and less wasteful - than a t-shirt in my opinion. 

Suffice it to say that I can hardly wait to mail in my (recycled) envelope of granola packaging and start collecting other materials to TerraCycle® (that word seems like it should also function as a verb, right?).  And my timing couldn't be better, as Bear Naked is one of the featured products offering holiday bonus points on every shipment sent in before the end of December.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


One of the coolest things we've been watching lately is our neighborhood Goldfinches helping themselves to the nesting material that we hung out for them earlier in the spring.  It's basically just a ball of cotton-like material that we purchased at Wild Birds Unlimited on the west side of Madison.  Wanting to provide a well-rounded habitat for our backyard birds, we first thought about throwing our dryer lint out there for the birds to use, but we soon learned that that material is not safe for the birds. The nesting material has been very popular in our yard this year, and the birds are still flocking to it even though it's the middle of summer now.  Surprisingly, we also found a Chickadee nest in one of our birdhouses that was clearly lined with some of our dogs' hair that must have been blowing around the yard after we brushed them one day.  Now that's recycling!

Meet Our Pets...

Conan, Wendy, & Juneau

Hunter & Ryan


Because our pets are very important members of our family, we thought we'd introduce them early on in our blog.  All four of them are "rescues", meaning we didn't purchase them from a breeder, pet shop, etc.  Ryan adopted Hunter and Sugaree (who has since passed away) from the Dane County Humane Society when he was living as a bachelor in a one bedroom apartment.  Piper came along when Hunter decided he wanted to take a "vacation" in the woods on the east side of Madison for about a month.  Some concerned citizens found Piper, mistaken him for Hunter, and contacted Ryan.  Thinking that Hunter was lost forever, Ryan took Piper in and saved him from going to the Humane Society.  Soon after, Hunter returned. Imagine my surprise when I came over to Ryan's apartment for the first time and learned that he was living with three cats!

A while after Sugaree died, I took Ryan to the Humane Society again to show him a cat that I had seen there.  Needless to say, we walked right past the cats and straight towards the dogs, one of which appeared to be a large, whiny puddle of sweetness known then as Sarge.  Because both of us had grown up with black Labs, we couldn't keep our eyes off him, and soon were taking him for a walk behind the building.  He was so gentle...and walked so well on the leash. When Ryan suggested that we foster him, I knew that we'd soon be adding a dog to our furry family.  Conan has gone on some great adventures with us (riding in his own bike trailer, canoeing, camping, etc.) and also volunteers with me as a therapy dog.

Juneau is our most recently adopted fur-child.  We rescued her from an owner who no longer had time or the means to care for her.  We had wanted to give Conan a companion to keep him company during the day, and had met a few other potential pets that just didn't work out. Juneau definitely has more energy than Conan, but she keeps him young and he sets a good behavioral example for her.  We were very careful about introducing the two of them, and now they get along great.  Juneau has made a lot of progress since we adopted her about six months ago, and has gained a significant amount of self-confidence and self-control.    

Saturday, April 28, 2012

In the beginning...

As a couple comprised of a budding biologist/ecologist and public school educator, we always seem to be doing something to help others and our planet. We decided to start this blog as a way to record all of the ways we (and you, too!) can do something For Our Earth.  We want to spread the word about simple, every day things you can do to live a more sustainable lifestyle.  We also hope to document our progress through various (perhaps more time-consuming) projects we've taken on in making our home more environmentally-friendly.  Thank you for joining us on our journey!