Top 10 Eco and Wallet-Friendly School Year Tips

I’ve been working with Recyclebank for the last two months and I wanted to share this exciting eco friendly tip list with you. Recyclebank went through more than 100,000 submissions to date and compiled the best eco- and wallet-friendly advice from members across the country. The most common themes? Get your family involved, and make it fun! Here are some highlights: image

1. Swap it out. Hold a clothing and school gear swap party with other families in the neighborhood. It’s a great way for the kids to get “new” clothes and backpacks without hurting the planet, plus it saves money. Another great tip was to visit trading sites like to swap clothes your kids no longer wear for newer duds.

2. Throw a closet-cleaning party. Clean out closets before going shopping to see what fits, what can be repurposed or what can be donated. Make it a fun activity for the whole family to do together—turn on some music, serve some snacks and have a fashion show!

3. Put a new twist on something old. Pull out your sewing machine, material stockpile and accessories to re-invent hand-me-downs. It’s a fun and creative activity for the family, saves money and encourages the kids to enjoy recycled clothing.

4. Extend the life of your crayons. Take crayons from the previous school year, melt them and pour them into molds to create different shaped crayons. Once cooled, you have cool “new” crayons.

5. Save on textbooks and conserve paper. Buy used text books from students who were previously in your kids’ grades. College students can use textbook renting sites such as, which even plants a tree for each book rented. And if you buy a textbook on, you can sell them back for gift cards to use towards next year’s books!

6. Plan a supply hunt. Organize a pen, pencil and notebook scavenger hunt around the house—you’d be amazed what you can find in drawers and bags. It’s a fun rainy day project for kids, and a great way to reuse the supplies you’ve already bought.

7. Give supplies a facelift. You can add some flair to old school supplies that are still useable. Fill an old binder with un-used pages from cast-off notebooks, recover them with sturdy fabric and then break open the craft drawer and let your kids go wild! Last year’s binder becomes a work of art.

8. Make it a game. Each morning, get out the stopwatch and have everyone race through the house to ensure all lights are off and appliances and electronics are unplugged. This helps save energy, and reduces your electricity bill and burns off excess energy!

9. Paint the classroom green. Encourage your child’s school administrators to have recycle bins in the schoolyard, classroom and hallways so kids develop the habit early. If your school doesn’t have recycling, bring in your own bins and set up a collection schedule with other parents! If your town is a Recyclebank community, families can take turns collecting bins and share the coupons with the classroom. Many towns supply recycling bins to residents, but if yours doesn’t places like Home Depot and Target sell them.

10. Form a club. If you have junior high or high school aged kids, ask your school if you can form a “Green Club.” Members can serve as green ambassadors in their respective classrooms, and help raise awareness and implement school-wide eco-friendly actions.

To learn more easy and inspiring tips for going green this school year from Recyclebank.

To share your tips and get rewarded for the simple things you do to live greener lives, take the Recyclebank Green Your School Year Challenge, a nationwide effort to inspire families to make eco-friendly decisions throughout the school year. The Challenge, which runs until September 30, sets Recyclebank members on an interactive school year journey with opportunities to earn points along the way towards winning over 100 incredible prizes, including a grand prize package designed to green all elements of the school year valued at $7,500.



31 Green and Eco Friendly Tips and Ideas

My friend Summer helped me put together 31 posts about living green and eco friendly tips to live by. Thanks to her help, I’ve compiled a list of 31 Green and Eco Friendly Tips and Ideas to help you turn your life more green. Here are those 31 tips!


image1) Buy Chemical Free Products

2) How to Go Paperless Banking

3) Repurpose Tennis Shoes Through Reuse a Shoe

4) Donate Used Greeting Cards, Christmas Cards, Valentine’s Day Cards, Easter Cards, all occasion cards to St. Jude’s

5) Ways to Reuse Boxes before you recycle them

6) Eat Local, Fresh and Organic

7) How To Get Off Mass Mailing Lists (Go Electronic)

8 ) Use Eco Friendly, Natural, and green cleaning products

9) Give Live Flowers or Herbs instead of cut flowers as gifts

10) Bring Your Own Coffee Mug or Sleeve to the coffee shop

11) Use Green Compostable Utensils and Plates

12) Give digital versions of gifts, music, books, games. These types of gifts are all available digitally.

13) Dispose of Batteries Properly

14) Know Local Places to donate used toys, electronics, and other items. Donate used items to charity.

15) Find places to Sell Used Electronics

16) Ways to dispose of Christmas Lights

17) Adopt and Animal

18) Give the Gift of Experience

19) Find ways to properly dispose of electronics and make some money doing so

20) Use Green Gift Wrap Techniques

21) How to create an Eco Friendly Advent Calendar

22) How to find an Eco Christmas Tree

23) Turn Home Made Crafts into a Charity Project

24) Recycle Cell Phones through Operation Gratitude

25) Turn off Vampire Appliances

26) Lower Your Paper Trail by using electronic invitations and e-greeting cards.

27) Use a water filter instead of buying water bottles

28) Use Plantable Paper, Botanical Paper, and Tissue as gift wrap

29) Make Home Made Items whenever possible

30) Regift items that you do not need or do not want to donate. Do not throw them in the trash!

31) Earth Friendly Plant and tree Disposal

Green Tip: How to Go Paperless, e-Statements, On-line Banking & Mobile Banking

Today’s green tip from Summer:

Start getting e-Statements for all those Christmas bills. Now that the big one has passed, go online before your bills start showing up at your house. Simply go online to your billing company’s site and let them know your desire to start the New Year going green. Check the back of your credit and bank cards for website information. You can also call the credit card company to get your paperless statements showing up.

We are mostly paperless at my house using Bank of America. We do a ton of on-line banking, but we still get a few statements and it’s such a waste because all we have to do is shred them. We hardly ever open up the bank statements. We’ve turned off as many paper bill statements as we can. Bank of America has a tip sheet on how to go banking paperless. You can also watch a video demo of going paperless in the new year.  How to go paperless

Did you know that you can set up everything to be automatically paid through your bank with automatic bill pay?

You can pay virtually anyone on-line through automatic bill pay. We’ve even found that it’s very easy to set up a new merchant if you need to pay someone. You can even set up a one time payment. We recently added our Home Owners Association to the automatic bill pay, because I certainly won’t remember to pay it. My husband is very thorough and makes sure that everything is paid every month.

Did you know that you can deposit your checks by taking a photo of them with your cell phone and using mobile banking? Bank of America Mobile Banking is available on different mobile platforms, including but not limited to iPad and iPhone.

With Mobile Banking from Bank of America, you can easily take your banking with you.* Check your balances, pay bills, transfer money, and locate ATMs and banking centers. Our Mobile Banking app is convenient, fast and free.

— Check account balances
— Pay bills and transfer funds**
— Find ATM and banking center locations using GPS, with no address input required (this is only available through our app, not on our mobile website)***
— Feel secure with our industry-leading mobile security and our Online Banking Security Guarantee

Now I’m sure I could write a five page document fully explaining on-line banking, mobile banking ,and how to go fully paperless next year, but I thought I would just set you up with a few easy steps to start off with! Good Luck going green!



This post was not sponsored, I did work with Bank of America last month, but we’ve used them for 3 years and been very happy with them.

Plantable Paper, Botanical Paper and Tissue Paper, More Green Gift Wrap Ideas

At the beginning of the month Summer and I went over some great Green Gift Wrap Ideas. Now Summer has even more green tips on how to wrap up those gifts for Christmas this year. 

Now that you have the presents you may have bagged them as I’d previously shared, but if you’re choosing not to bag it then you’ll be using or purchasing paper. I’d like to help you get the right kind of paper to still be ecological … you know, just in case you’re not using a reusable method …

1. Pick a paper without foil in it or a foil base. Though foil and paper are both recyclable they won’t process the combination paper. So avoid it!

clip_image0012. If you have the plain, simple, ordinary wrapping paper then (even with the tape attached) it can be recycled.

3. For those of you using bags and tissue paper do note that when the life of tissues paper has ended it can’t be recycled, but it can be composted. Give it a new life in your compose bin, your waste management yard waste bin, or use it as a preventative layer in your spring garden by laying the paper down and placing a top soil over it. You can plant your desired plants though it and the tissue paper will stop the weeds from coming up before it decomposes.

4. But the simplest of all, if you plan to wrap in paper, would be to just buy paper and/or gift tags you and the receiver can REALLY make green out of – paper you can plant. Shop on line at places such as Botanical Paper Works, try your local specialty shop, or ask our usual paper place to start carrying plantable paper.

About Summer:

Summer is the President of our Local MOMS Club chapter, she is the mother of two adorable active boys, and is always thinking of ways to help others. She is a friend, a wife, and always busy as all mommies are. She is very active on Facebook, addicted to Geocaching and very interested in organic and green living.

How Much Are Your Appliances, Computers, Electronics Costing You?

Coming off the almost week of electronic talk, let’s talk about all those plugs. Though it’s not the season in which you’d typically hear about vampires … you’re plugged in electronics are sucking electricity. Conservationists call these devices vampire electronics, and they claim 5% of American’s electric bills. If you have a charger and are done charging don’t just unhook the item, also unplug the cable from Kill A Watt Product Imagethe wall. You can stop vampire electricity by also unplugging countertop electronics such as your mixer, rice cooker, or coffee maker. During the holiday season also remember to unplug those strings of lights. It’ll literally pay you in the end.

Seeing Summer’s tip today makes me think of what my husband has requested for Christmas. My husband wants me to buy him a Kilowatt for Christmas. A Kilowatt is a calculator that you plug into the wall and then plug your appliances into it. Then it measures how much power the appliance uses and how much it costs you on your electricity bill to measure. I have no idea which brand makes a good Kilowatt. Seems like P3 International makes the actual Kill A Watt,  and Black and Decker has their own version. I just have no idea which one to get him.  I’m also very nervous to see how much our computers that run all day every day are costing us on the electricity bill. We run our electronics 24 hours a day how often are you running your appliances? Do you turn everything off and unplug it or are you like my family?

About Summer:

Summer is the President of our Local MOMS Club chapter, she is the mother of two adorable active boys, and is always thinking of ways to help others. She is a friend, a wife, and always busy as all mommies are. She is very active on Facebook, addicted to Geocaching and very interested in organic and green living.

Ways to Properly Dispose of Your Batteries Recharge, Recycle, Reduce!

I know that we have tons of batteries and we’re trying to convert over to all re-chargeable batteries. All of the brands out there now make rechargeable batteries and chargers but it is almost inevitable that you are still going to use some non-rechargeable batteries as well. So, with Christmas coming and all of those extra batteries, what do you do with the old, none-chargeable batteries?

Mom Start’s green guru, Summer has some tips for us when it comes to disposing of those none rechargeable batteries.

Many toy packages have 1 of 2 sets of words: “Batteries Not Included” or “Batteries Included”. Everything seems to run on batteries these days! And that means a lot more trash, especially if you’re sending those batteries to a landfill. Did you know you can recycle those batteries?!? Yeah, recycle! In our area of Seattle many libraries, city halls, community centers, and churches do their part by collecting non-rechargeable. Places like electronic stores and groceries stores will offer bins for disposing of rechargeable batteries. Both types of batteries should not be placed in your trash.

Total Reclaim LogoI just did a search on Google about local places to drop off those batteries. There is a place called Total Reclaim that takes batteries for Alaska, Washington, and Oregon. I also found that If you have less than five pounds of batteries, take them to the nearest Emedia program to recycle batteries as well as cell phones, "electronic media" such as CDs, and inkjet cartridges.

Now Summer has a suggestion on which brand of rechargeable battery we should use.

In my house we personally love (and have been using) eneloop rechargeable batteries by Sanyo. We have purchased ours at Costco but I’m sure many other fine retailers also carry them. They come pre-charged for your convenience. They say they hold their charge longer than their competitor by only diminishing their power by 15% over 1 year as opposed to other batteries diminishing to 0% power over 1 year. Eneloop batteries can be recharged 1000 (so that’s 999 batteries saved). Do your part and buy smart!
If you’re getting rid of batteries but can’t find a recycling facility visit Call2Recycle online or call them at 1-800-822.8837.

We actually use the same brand in our house. I would have to say that having your product at Costco is going to get it in a lot of people’s houses. They last, work great and we keep using them over and over again!

About Summer:

Summer is the President of our Local MOMS Club chapter, she is the mother of two adorable active boys, and is always thinking of ways to help others. She is a friend, a wife, and always busy as all mommies are. She is very active on Facebook, addicted to Geocaching and very interested in organic and green living.

Places to Donate Used Items To

What great tips we’ve had this week from Summer. Let’s run through all the ways to get rid of your electronics:

Places to Sell Your Electronics Yourself

Recycle Cell Phones through Operation Gratitude

Places that Buy Back your Electronics

Ways to Recycle Your Christmas Lights

Today’s Tip is for more than just electronics. You can give away more than you think you can. I know in my case, I’ve found that if you think outside the box, there is a place that will take your used items. And giving them to someone in need is much better than letting imagethem stack up in your house, or ending up in a landfill or dumpster. So, think of places to give to the less fortunate by giving. Here are a few places that Summer came up with, and thanks to her, I’ve been giving to a few of these already!

Reuse it by giving it!

(AND ask for a tax receipt so you can deduct the value on your 2010 taxes.)

– Contact your local food bank about taking your gently used toys for Christmas or even clothing. They may even have a family in need of housing items or other things you’re getting rid of at the end of the year. Check with your food bank before stopping by with your items. If you don’t know where your local food bank is located you can find an incomplete list through Feeding America.

– Give items to a specific charity with a need. For example, take your gently used blankets and give them to Project Linus, or One Warm Coat will take your gentle used coats.

– Donate to the Goodwill or the Salvation Army.

I’ve been donating to a local charity called Pave because they come and pick up the donations right at my doorstep every other month!

About Summer:

Summer is the President of our Local MOMS Club chapter, she is the mother of two adorable active boys, and is always thinking of ways to help others. She is a friend, a wife, and always busy as all mommies are. She is very active on Facebook, addicted to Geocaching and very interested in organic and green living.

Red and Green Tip of the Day Adopt an Animal

Adopting an animal can be very satisfying and although not all of us are cut out for taking them home there are other ways to take care of animal in our world. Check out the tips that Summer has for us today on spreading the love Abbyadopting animals in different ways.

· Zoo – Through most local zoos or aquariums you can adopt an animal that you don’t have to potty train not to pee on your new carpet. By adopting these animals you get to support these local zoo or aquarium establishments. Many are non-profit and rely on grants and patron gifts. Your receiver will typically get a photo of the adopted animal with a bio. This is a fun gift for any animal lover. Here is the link to my local zoo, Woodland Park Zoo, though zoos around the country offer the same programs if you wish to adopt from a zoo more local to you, just Bing “adopt a zoo animal” for better results add the city of your closest zoo.

· Wild – Thanks to WWF (World Wildlife Fund) people can adopt and support animals in the wild. You might not get to see your animals on a regular basis like you could with a zoo or aquarium adoption, but at a minimum you do receive a certificate, info card, and photograph of your animal.

· In Home – Chose from one of two options from Petfinder:
Keep a Pet – Bring home an animal to add to your family. By adopting an animal you’re saving its life from death row, a concrete cell, or from never knowing the love of a real family.
Foster a Pet – Bring home an animal for only the holiday season so that an animal without a home is offered a warm place and good meal for Christmas. Many animals are in need of love; No one wants to be lonely for the holidays, not even an animal. If a permanent home is not currently an option, then take a trial run. This will also offer parents a way to see whether or not your child is responsible enough to care for a pet. Animal Foster places and other animal options can also be found through Petfinder.

We just purchased Abby from a dog breeder, but we have had tons of success in the past with the Humane Society in Bellevue. They have a great facility there and mutts are the sweetest dogs.

About Summer:

Summer is the President of our Local MOMS Club chapter, she is the mother of two adorable active boys, and is always thinking of ways to help others. She is a friend, a wife, and always busy as all mommies are. She is very active on Facebook, addicted to Geocaching and very interested in organic and green living.

Green Gift Wrap Ideas

December 4th means tip number four from Summer’s Red and Green Holiday Season here on Mom Start. Have you ever really thought about all of the trash that Christmas amounts too? Christmas wrapping paper, packages, and more packages. Summer has a few ideas on how to wrap up those gifts and save the environment.

kids pink envirosaxRethink your wrapping! It’s fun and very memorable to wrap a child’s gift and have them rip it open with excitement, but here is my gift wrapping suggestion … BAG IT!

* Using a simple gift giving bag with tissue paper is a great way to reduce waste. Hopefully the recipient will reuse it, as will subsequent receivers, and when the bag and tissue paper become unusable the final recipient can recycle them.

* Buy or make cloth bags. For children, Santa can leave their sack which you can "mail back" or leave in the stocking for Santa’s elves to claim if you wish to continue this green tradition year after year. For adults, bag it with something they can continue to use such as an Envirosax®, ReUsies®, or even a purse or traveling makeup bag.

* Cloth bag patterns can be found for free online if you’re crafty, but if not support local businesses by buying locally produced wares. This makes your purchase even better for the environment by cutting long distance transportation costs such greenhouse gases and emissions.

I love to use the newspaper, or my children’s artwork as gift wrap. I think it’s a great touch for the grandparents and it’s a good way to pass on the art. Just remember to recycle all of the paper you can this year, that’s the first step.

About Summer:

Summer is the President of our Local MOMS Club chapter, she is the mother of two adorable active boys, and is always thinking of ways to help others. She is a friend, a wife, and always busy as all mommies are. She is very active on Facebook, addicted to Geocaching and very interested in organic and green living.

Eco Gift Idea, Give the Gift of Experience

Eco Tip number three from our friend Summer is to find gifts for your friends and family that give them an experience:

GroundSpeak headquarters

Need a green gift that just keeps giving? Try experience gifts! Memberships to the zoo, tickets to the local performing arts theatre, season tickets to your local sports team, or joining a club such as to name a few. These gifts continue for an extended period of time beyond the receiving day. Most don’t require more than an envelope to wrap or you can get a reusable gift card ornament or Santa can slip it into their stocking.

I think this is a great gift idea, it gets people out of the house and active and is quite creative. You can think really far outside the box with this one. The world is at your fingertips.

If you haven’t noticed yet, we’re doing an eco tip every day. One Green tip during the holiday season of red and green for the whole month of December and all of the tips are coming from a friend of mine. Day one was Eco Advent Calendar ideas, and day two was Eco Christmas Tree tips.

About Summer:

Summer is the President of our Local MOMS Club chapter, she is the mother of two adorable active boys, and is always thinking of ways to help others. She is a friend, a wife, and always busy as all mommies are. She is very active on Facebook, addicted to Geocaching and very interested in organic and green living.