Flash Friday: No Bags in Bins!


Tuesday night was the monthly Salem Recycles meeting. Part of the meeting involves time to select a message and target a particular recycling issue that we will communicate over and over during the month.  We selected “plastic bags” as an area on which to focus this June.  Plastic bags are part of the the whole problem known as “single use.”

They are ubiquitous, yet transitory.  Plastic bags save us the trouble of remembering cloth or reusable bags, and in general are flimsier and contain only one or two items.

Although I’ve seen plenty of different statistics regarding the length of use, a range of 5-12 minutes of use is cited.  Yet, they can take as long as 500 to 1000 years to disintegrate.  Again, regarding how many people accumulate, numbers can range from the low 100s to 400/ year or more.

Furthermore – plastic bags, at least in Salem, MA. absolutely CAN’T be recycling in your recycling bin at the curbside.  Doing so contaminates the load of recyclables at the Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) It’s the equivalent of making a healthy salad for lunch, and then topping it with blue cheese dressing, cheese, meat, and croutons.

Be smart about plastic bags! #nobagsinbins.

Salem Recycles will have plenty more info this month in their newsletter, on facebook, and on the website.



Flash Friday: Zentangle

Many bloggers do weekly round ups, one word or one picture posts, link-ups and plenty more. I’m considering the idea of a “Flash Friday.”  A snapshot of my life, whether in words or images, that illuminates some of the smaller moments of my life.

So much of my life, volunteering, and hobbies revolves around using the computer or writing words.  I’m highly word oriented, and love using the computer, so I’m not complaining that screens dominate.  But every now and then I remember that I should perform less pixelated activites.

In April I picked up a book called “Zentangle a Day” and I’ve been doodling in spare moments or just to relax. Zentangle involves combining “repetitive patterns of deliberative strokes” into a single image.  All you need is paper and an ink pen, though of course, there are certain recommendations given by the experts.  I’ve had a lot of fun progressing through the book, learning some of the ‘official’ and ‘unofficial‘ Zentangle patterns, which have funky names like “Pepper,” “Verdigogh,” or “Hollibaugh”  and am on “Day 16.”  To me, this art form is the perfect combination of structure and creativity.

You might consider tangling yourself up in this idea too.

Zentangle3  Zentangle2  Zentangle1  Zentangle4

PS. Feel free to check out my lil’ Pinterest board about Zentangle, and explore others designs there too.

Earth Day!

It’s Earth Day!  Research says that making a personal commitment, and then making it visible will help change your behavior.  Consider taking the following measurable and specific challenge for the next year.

I promise to bring 1 (or more) Reusable Bags with me whenever I go shopping.

Tips and Tricks to make your promise Easier. 

(Research also shows that if you want a commitment to stick – it’s not so much about stopping an action, it’s about replacing it with another action.)

  • Keep reusable bags in your car (at all times!)
  • If you live with more than one person – put someone in charge of “reminder” duty. This is a great job for a little one.
  • Buy the type of reusable bag you can add to your key chain, or stuff in your purse/backpack.
  • Add a sign to your dashboard (or back of your front door) that says “Did you remember your reusable bag today?”
  • AddActivist Abby” on facebook.  Information delivered straight to your newsfeed about just how ridiculously bad (and frivolous)plastic bag consumption can be.
  • Don’t approach it as an all-of-nothing task.  If you forget once or twice – just reuse the plastic bags you get.

What else are you doing to celebrate Earth Day?

I’ll celebrating by cleaning up trash at my local park during this week.

You might like these other posts I’ve written about sustainability and green living.

Talking Trash – how we cut our Trash output in half in one year.

Book Review: Serve God, Save the Planet

A quick word on Upcycling

Have you heard about Upcycling?

Upcycling is the process of converting used/old products into something new, and often better than the old.

I have a friend, Jenny,  who made her daughter this fantastic kitchen set (You’ll need to scroll down in the post a big.)  Jenny is super crafty and awesome – please check out her facebook page for her business here.  And in fact – she’s the one who introduced me to the blog “Better After” to start with. I love seeing how crafty people can be – because I definitely don’t have an eye for that.

I tried one (yes, one) upcycling project last year – and it mostly consisted of slapping a coat of paint on a rolling cart I found on the side of the road.  Full disclosure – my husband actually painted it.  I just tried to put a stencil on the top.  (Not my finest moment.)

Upcycled Cart

Purpose of cart - book storage and truck garage.
Purpose of cart – book storage and truck garage.

But, I’m always curating Upcycling projects on Pinterest (you can see them here).   Yet, making collages for my New Year’s Resolution out of recycled paper is about the extent of my upcycling.

If you craft – consider seeing how you can find a way to incorporate used materials in some way in each project.

For a great resource for North Shore crafters  – check out the Extras for Creative Learning in Lynn – and read this blog post from Connect Shore about it.

Thanksgiving Tree

Like many Christian women I enjoy reading Ann Voskamp’s blog, A Holy Experience.  I don’t particularly envision myself becoming a prairie wife or mother of 6, but for her commitment to grace and thanksgiving I find myself coming back over and over.  Her ability to see art in the everyday, and to (as she wrote about in her book) live right where she was placed are inspiring.

When she posted her Thanksgiving Tree project earlier in November, I knew I wanted to do my own version.  Rather than print out the well-chosen verses she provides, my husband and I used scraps of paper left over from other projects in order to detail just a few of the many blessings we’ve been showered with this year alone.  I cut out 18 leaves, but honestly, I could have cut out 4x more and we’d still be filling them out.

Monsters in Salem, Oh My!

As I mentioned on Wednesday, I’ve been overwhelmed with life lately – study, parenting, making time for real life friends – and haven’t had a chance to product much “new” content.  Please enjoy the following pictures of some beautiful – and NOT kitschy – Monsters in Salem.  More of a post on recycled art and such exists here at Connect Shore.

The following is a documentary of Mr. Mackey and some of his reasons for his artwork in Salem, or “therapy” as he calls it.  The movie is produced by Production Blue.

One Man’s Trash

The Family Mission Statement

My management theories professor told us on the first day of class, “Be wary of organizations that call themselves a family.  Organizations are not families. You cannot get fired from a family!

Yet, as we explore organizational theory this semester, there is much crossover in the concepts. There are internal and external environments which impact the type of structure and hierarchy found within a family.  Culture and values are transmitted through myth, legend, and visible signs of mutual participation – like snuggling.

And of course, there is the ever growing popularity of a Family Mission Statement, which is barely only one step removed from a Family Business Strategy – and therefore slightly contradictory to my professor’s statement.  I first heard of this idea and I knew I wanted one with the same intensity that other people want family vacations.  I wanted a touchstone that I could recall when moments got tough, for example, waking up every few hours for the sick baby which happens a lot more than they lead you to believe.

Still – I am aware that the concept of family – of what a family is, should be, and should do – means many things to many people.  And I’m not even talking about gender roles and same-sex marriage here or how to define the members of an economic household for poverty threshold status.  Those are other tricky questions for another day.  I’m thinking more along the lines of questions such as – Do families have products?  Should they?  What are they?  Should they produce things for themselves, or others?

I probably wouldn’t even have thought about these questions if it weren’t for philosopher poet and writer Wendell Berry, who raises the issue in several of his essays compiled in “The Art of the Commonplace.

“A household, according to its nature, will seek to protect and prolong its own life, and since it will readily perceive its inability to survive alone, it will seek to join its life to the life of the community.”

And regarding offspring – “children need to see their parents at work; they need, at first, to play at the work they see their parents doing, and then they need to work with their parents…. it matters a great deal that the work done should have the dignity of economic value.”

Furthermore I am still brought up short by the unpleasant criticism that: “the modern household is the place where the consumptive couple do their consuming.  Nothing productive is done there.  Such work as is done there is at the expense of the resident couple or family and to the profit of suppliers of energy and household technology.  For entertainment, the inmates consume television and purchase other consumable diversion elsewhere.”

So we created a mission statement – which is very broad – more of a jumping off point than anything at all.  Like the beliefs, the trump cards, that I wrote about in this post – this is also a series of beliefs that resonate with us on a spiritual and theoretical level.  They are what we are aiming for, but we have yet to see the entirety of the pathway to take to get there.  I suppose hoping for that type of clarification is yet another reason why I write this blog.