Posts Tagged ‘reuse’

Simple Green Ideas

What can kids do on a rainy day? Something that doesn’t involve X-Box or Playstation or TV!

One of the banes of modern shopping is the ubiquitous polystyrene try.

Food comes like this...

Food comes like this…

You get left with this...

You get left with this…

What to do?

I used to wash them and most would finish up in the ‘junk box’ along with all sorts of other knick-knacks.

On a rainy day I’d get out the junk box, sellotape, glue, paints, etc set it on the veranda and tell the kids to get to it and use their imaginations.

They’d come up with all sorts of weird and wonderful things.

Like this…

The result of imagination

The result of imagination

Simple Green Ideas

Yes, Christmas is over for another year.

One thing for sure, you’ll have plenty of this stuff left over from the frenzy of Christmas morning.

wrapping-paperYour Christmas may not have been so green this year, but you can make next year an environmentally friendly Christmas. Save your wrapping paper. It only takes a few minutes to flatten it out and fold it and store it in a box.

Just think, if every family did this, how many trees would have been saved.

Happy New Year!

Simple Green Ideas

The world is full of these…

You have a car, you have these

You have a car, you have these

What can you do with them?

Try this…

A bicycle stand

A bicycle stand

Or this…


Non-slip stairs

Or you could google ‘repurpose tires’ and see the myriad of ideas. Everything from roofing materials, planters, swings, ice-buckets, garden decor… it’s all there.

Change the World Wednesday – 11th Jun

Got coffee, raring to go!

Can’t eat a football – image: BBC News

Tomorrow is the kick off for the FIFA World Cup. Half of Brazil is excited, the other half complaining/protesting about the costs of a one month sports event while social services are left to starve.

Dilma Rousseff was on TV last night with a damage control presidential message.

I love the world cup, but the thing that disappoints me is there is no effort in promoting awareness nor solutions to the world’s chaotic environmental issues when you have the largest TV audience in the world as a captive audience. I consider this to be a major failing of FIFA.

Lots of big fat juicy worms

Lots of big fat juicy worms

As a part of last week’s CTWW, I turned over the compost heap. I didn’t find anything to transplant, but I do have a wonderful crop of worms, big fat juicy ones.

I was happy to see that I have two out of three pretty plants in my yard. My chillies and passionfruit; they do make wonderful displays.

I must take issue with Small on a comment in her ‘Final Thoughts’, “made me wonder, not for the first time, why we (society) choose ornamental plants and trees over varieties which provide food.” I think we have to look beyond pretty/ornamental, and look at what these non-food bearing plants do. While they may sap the ground of nutrients, do they also not provide composting material? Thus, returning to the ground what they have used. Think about all those leaves you rake up every autumn, wonderful for the compost heap; and then you grow veges. Do they not pander to the bees to make honey and feed birds like humming birds? I think that ornamental plants and trees do have their place in the scheme of things, maybe not direct food, but in the long run.

Click the banner for the full post

On with this week’s CTWW.


This week, before placing items in either the recycle or trash bin, see if you can find new uses for them. For example, an empty ketchup bottle could be used to dispense pancake batter onto the griddle. An old cooking pot or tea kettle could become your newest planter. Got some empty medicine bottles? Fill them with coins and keep in your car for toll booths or times when you need a few pennies. The idea, this week, is to find a use for things which might otherwise be thrown away.

I do that, I try to find a use/repurpose for everything. It is the core of my life; and not only at home.

Even as I walk along the streets, I scour for something that I can reuse or repurpose.

Here’s some examples:

Two sewer pipe off cuts found near a construction site

Two sewer pipe off cuts found near a construction site make a bench


What's holding up my tomatoes? An old broom handle

What’s holding up my tomatoes? An old broom handle


My old stove is now my work bench and garden storage

My old stove is now my work bench and garden storage


Repurposed bricks in the kitchen

Repurposed bricks and small jar in the kitchen

So I do, I do it all the time, it’s an addiction, I’m incorrigible.

…maybe I should go to meetings 🙂



Change the World Wednesday – 17th Jul

failed_stampZero waste this week….

So why did I have three bags of rubbish to put out tonight instead of my usual one or sometimes two?

Another of life’s paradoxes.

It was all packaging, so I didn’t actually waste anything. No food went out (I didn’t burn any toast this week), nothing reusable went out.

How many of you would have tossed this orange?

amouldyorangeI made juice from three of them that had snuck up on me in my fruit stand, it was delicious. Just cut the mouldy bits off, perhaps a little more generously because the soft pulp extends further into the fruit than the affected outside signs

So much food is thrown away because of blemishes or a little mould, when they could be used.

fishinglassI didn’t even throw the broken wine glass out, it has been put to the side. I didn’t break it, I discovered that the base was broken in two when I unpacked it. Unfortunately it was past the date when I could have taken it back to the store. So eventually, I will glue the base and use it for…. something; I haven’t decided yet.

It’s too small for a fish bowl. Besides some clown would put wine in it, then I’d have weekly trips to AA with a fish.

Probably end up as a candle holder.

Some rocks, compost and moss, perhaps. A mini terrarium with a fern…


My turning to the new fangled lights is timely. Brazil is banning the sale and manufacture of incandescent light bulbs from next year.

Small suggested, in a comment, that my Bread’n’Butter Pudding sounded great. (Last week)

Mine aren't as burnt... but you get the idea.

Mine aren’t as burnt… but you get the idea.


Old bread crusts or rolls saved in the freezer.

Pyrex dish, butter bread (NO margarine, it’s yucky) and line dish. Throw in some sultanas. Slop on some dollops of any jam (jelly for our US cousins). Make scrambled egg mix with less milk than eggs and with some brown sugar and a dash of vanilla essence, pour over bread until soaked and covered. Sprinkle with some cinnamon or nutmeg. Bake at a low heat until solid. Serve, eat, enjoy. It’s about as simple as a dessert can be. This recipe originated in England during WW II when there was food rationing and nothing, but nothing  could be wasted.

Click on the banner for the full post

Okay, on with this week’s CTWW.

This week review your activities and come up with at least one more way to live green. Similar to our energy challenge, this will be easy for “newbies” who have plenty of options to choose from and tough for seasoned “greenies” who will have to dig deep. Let’s see how green we can be!!

Oh, pooh!

Recycle, upcycle, repurpose… They’re all on the cards around here.

Lixo at lunch

Lixo at lunch

Here’s an example. My cat Lixo (means rubbish in Portuguese) is a green cat.

I love my Lixo, but I don’t pamper him. He’s a cat after all. Here he is at lunch -terrible photo.

You’ll notice that there isn’t a special cat bowl, nothing that has been especially bought  for him.

He’s a happy cat.

Now let’s take a closer look at Kitty Korner.

KittyKorner3Kitty Korner is a cut down milk box carton, lined with two polystyrene slabs cut to fit. His dish is a polystyrene tray, and his milk dish is an old margarine container. Lixo is quite happy with his Kitty Korner and asks for nothing more. He’s only interested in the food.

Now while I try to avoid buying stuff in polystyrene, sometimes it’s unavoidable, because of supermarket or hygiene rules. But when I am lumbered with the stuff, it gets reused, upcycled, repurposed. Oh, and when it gets dirty, I wash it and use it again and again, until it breaks, then it goes out in the trash. For example, that marg container, I have been using for three years, it rotates with a cream cheese container of about the same age.

So, my suggestion for something green and new. Is don’t buy your pets purpose specific things, where possible, reuse, recycle, upcycle or repurpose.

Perhaps with a dog, you may have to use something a tad more sturdy than polystyrene as most dogs would just chew it to pieces all over the backyard. Perhaps an old enamel dish…


How green is your pet?

Change the World Wednesday – Special VI

A treeful of beautiful flowers

Yes, here we are, it’s Wednesday again. For me this week, today is wonderful. I have been to work and finished. My weekend has started, next lesson, Monday.

Also today is great because I saw a new flower; one that I have never seen before.

Walking up the drive to where I work, I spied a splash of colour where I have never seen a splash of colour before. I resolved to investigate.

At coffee break, I explored the phenomenon. My student tagged along.

There by the boundary fence we found them, the lower half of  a 5 metre (15ft) tree covered in these spectacular blooms.

Marcos offered his camera and I snapped a photo. Aren’t they beautiful?

Now comes the tricky bit. Nobody knows what the tree is. I still have some avenues to explore, but if anybody has an idea, please leave a comment. No prizes for the correct answer apart from the satisfaction that you’ve made an old man happy.

On with CTWW Daily…

Small Footprints Lenten Daily CTWW challenges on Reduce Footprints.


CTWW Daily Challenge – 22nd March

World Water Day is observed today. Learn about the global scarcity of safe water and sanitation and the effects of climate change on water at

Farmland in northeast Brazil, where families have to tramp miles just to get a bucket of muddy water from one of the few water traps around. To get water trucked in is just too expensive for some

Water is becoming more and more scarce throughout the world, in parts where it hasn’t been a problem before. For example, parts of England are having drought conditions; England, traditionally known for its wet weather. Now if England can have problems it’s a sure indicator that nowhere is immune. Parts of Brazil are having problems too, but they’ve had problems for years.


Trucked water, too expensive

They can get water trucked in by carros pipa (water tankers), but most families can’t afford R$5 for 18 gallons, not when you are earning below the minimum wage. Some of these families survive on less than R$500 per month (USD300), having been reduced to that by the drought conditions.

We in the west have always taken water for granted, we turn on the tap and water has always been there. We water our gardens, wash our cars, bathe and shower, then there’s the swimming pool. Water has never been a problem.

Can you imagine having dry taps in your house?

Current climate changes are making this a very real possibility for some people who have traditionally always had water.

Photo credit: Royal Horticultural Society, Green Vision Corp

CTWW Daily Challenge – 23rd March

Be conscious about water and energy use when washing dishes. There has been considerable debate on whether washing by hand or powered, automatic dishwasher is more environmentally friendly.

For me there isn’t a choice. Dishes and washing are done by hand. I try to economise, I save my grey-water for the garden and to flush the toilet. My system is nothing elaborate, just a bucket under the sink, but it does the trick.

I have just used the hot water from my boiled potatoes to wash the grease off last night’s plates; that saves washing time and detergent.

CTWW Daily Challenge –  24th March

Take a shower instead of a bath, and try to limit your shower to less than 5 minutes. If you already shower, consider taking ashipboard shower– turn the water on only to rinse.

I reckon I’ve got you all beat on this one. No bath, only three-minute showers. But then, I’ve got no hair to wash either…

CTWW Daily Challenge – 25th March

Save paper today. Don’t print unless you need to and when you do, print double-sided onto recycled paper. Use paper, tissue, toilet paper and wood that is recycled…

No printer, so no paper worries, although I do have a ream of recycled paper on hand for when I do need paper. I have looked into recycled tissue and toilet paper, but in my part of the city, not one of the supermarkets or stores carry any. The nearest place I can get it is in Barra da Tijuca, which is 50kms (30 miles+/-) away and that doubles my transport costs besides taking the best part of a day to get there and back.

I have spoken to the supermarket manager about it, and while he thinks the idea is laudable, he doesn’t think the Brazilians would buy it. So for him it is a waste of shelf space. He is not Brazilian, btw, he’s Portuguese. I have suggested to him that he could use the opportunity to promote specials, etc; which gave him something to think about.

CTWW Daily Challenge – 26th March

This is a hard one: Keep your highway driving speed between 55 and 60 mph today. For most vehicles, 55 mph is the most fuel efficient highway speed and will save you up to 20-30% in fuel costs compared to driving at 75 mph.

My main means of transport is my walkingstick, as green as you can get. But then I have to use a bus to get to work. The highway to work doesn’t allow them to exceed 60km/h (35mph).

CTWW Daily Challenge – 27th March

If you own or work for a company which engages in travel, learn how MasterCard’s program to report on the carbon footprint of your transactions can help your company manage its environmental footprint.

This one had me scratching my head. I work for a French multi-national company (well, I am contracted to teach there) and I am pleased to say that environmental concerns are very much a priority, so I am sure they have this pretty much under control.

They are very strict about the environment and the factory area has trees and green areas all over. They have a special sector that propagates native trees, shrubs and plants for replanting.

Mico leão

They are also very strict about the wildlife that inhabits those areas. We have many species of birds and animals that roam freely around the factory grounds and personal are prohibited from disturbing them. Just today, after seeing my treeful of flowers, we watched a family of six mico-leões racing through the trees near my classroom.

So while I am not aware of the companies travel policies, I am certain that the environmental concerns related would not have been overlooked.

CTWW Daily Challenge – 28th March

Learn about, use or start a local bicycle sharing program as has been done in Tulsa, Miami, Boston, Vancouver and other communities around the world.

Surprise, surprise, Rio de Janeiro does have a programme like this, but more towards the centre of the city and in Copacabana. You can hire bicycles and use them from one station and leave them in another.

Bike Rio Station in Copacabana

Used by tourists and commuters alike. While the programme is not on a grand scale, it runs about 600 bicycles. São Paulo also has a similar programme.

So there are some green things the Brazilians do.

Well, there you have it. My weekly round up. While I am not able to participate in all the challenges, and get a bit of the track with others, it has all been a lot of fun.

Let’s see what the coming week brings us as the final week in this Daily challenge.

I’m also wondering what Small Footprints has in store for us the following week… big mystery…

NEWS FLASH: Mark your calendars for the week of April 9th. Reduce Footprints will be hosting a HUGE week-long event. It’ll be a little different from our “norm” and I think you’re going to like it!! Want a little hint? Okay … How does Born of Blood save the environment? Sounds intriguing, doesn’t it?


I have just watched the clip Born of Blood, WOW! Right up my alley.

Change the World Wednesday – Special V


Another split day…

But they are numbered.

Relaxing with my chimarrão, sipping erva mate.

Erva mate is a sort of herbal tea. You pack the chimarrão, add water let it infuse and sip. You can sweeten it, but I prefer the bitterness of tea. Drinking erva mate is more prevalent in the south of Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina.

Our Lenten CTWWs on Reduce Footprints are drawing nigh. So, what have I been up to this week?




CTWW Daily Challenge –  15th March

A brand new study shows that 4 out of 5 Americans have been affected by weather-related disasters. It’s time for people to learn the new reality that increasingly, weather is related to climate change.

Of this I have no doubt, although my consideration has been more global than just America. I need no convincing.

CTWW Daily Challenge –  16th March

Environmental justice emerged as a concept in the United States in the early 1980s. Read more about it HERE and HERE.

The first link, I guess is the reason for this blog. The second link is somewhat disturbing. Given in this day and age we are still subjected by race and colour. We call ourselves ‘civilised’ but I think we have a long road ahead until that is true.

CTWW Daily Challenge –  17th March

Think about your children, grandchildren or children to be in the context of climate change. Learn more about the effects of climate change on children and what you can do about it.

Indeed a constant worry. Climate change must have an adverse effect on future generations as we subject them to an environment they were not born for; sunburn is now much more prevalent in the hotter summers and respiratory infections in the colder winters. You must also include the problems with food production as weather and geographic changes come into play and ask yourself, “Are we dooming future generations to go hungry?”

CTWW Daily Challenge – 18th March

Climate change causes deserts that take away arable land for agriculture.

This one goes hand in hand with the previous

CTWW Daily Challenge – 19th March

Reuse and recycle waste, and compost food waste to reduce the rubbish destined for landfill sites.

I am pretty much in line with this one and have been for some time. It’s not always possible, but one does the best one can given the circumstances. My biggest enemy, as I suspect most of you too, is plastic wrappings.

CTWW Daily Challenge – 20th March

Reduce water usage in your home by fixing leaky faucets, which can waste up to 50 gallons a day. Turn the tap off and on during shaving, washing hands and brushing teeth.

Pretty much on top of this one too. I also save rainwater and grey water for the garden.

Ellen & Emmylee on the lawn

CTWW Daily Challenge – 21st March

Have a truly “Green” lawn and garden by avoiding use of toxic chemicals. Visit the National Coalition for Pesticide-Free Lawns website for more information.
The last lawn I created and grew was entirely chemical free. I didn’t even buy grass seed which is usually covered in chemicals, instead I collected tufts of wild grass along the road sides and replanted them. They spread into a beautiful lawn for the kids to play on.
The only chemical involved was the sweat from my labours.
There you have it. My round up for the week.
%d bloggers like this: