Let Me be Your Zero Hero

When my kids’ were a bit younger, on the 100th day of school, the Zero Hero appeared and celebrated with bags of 100 things; Cheerios, pretzels, goldfish crackers – you get the picture. Today, however is my 100th blog post. I recognize that it’s peanuts compared to some of you uber-productive bloggers who churn out multiple posts per day but given that my goal was 50 – 150 posts per year, I’m on track.

Zero Hero Sneaking a Popsicle

Okay, stage set, now how to celebrate? I googled 100th blog post and quickly learned what a benign concept it’s become. In fact, it’s much more alluring for me to think about being a Zero Hero and in this context, I’m talking about working towards the goal of zero waste. Here are a couple of solutions that we’ve tried to employ in our home:

1. Carry reusable water bottles. This is pet-peeve of mine as daily, I notice the amount of waste created in a corporate environment through the use of plastic water bottles. I keep a reusable bottle in my gym bag, in my office and in the car.

2. Keep a stack of reusable grocery bags in your car so that you are never confronted with the paper vs. plastic dilemma.

3. Check out your local consignment shops. From the purple bow tie that you’ll need on one occasion to the heavy iron patio furniture on my back porch, our family has been delighted with the merchandise that we’re able to get second-hand. It is the best evidence that we have of true recycling. One of our new favorites is local shop called Kitchen Switchin’ where that blender we’ve never used can be taken or where we can pick up the spiralizer that we’ve been coveting. Half the cost and little environmental impact.

4. Join a CSA. Probably no surprise that was coming. Enough said.

These four ideas certainly aren’t earth-saving but they are steps that we can take to move towards generating less waste. As much as I try however, I still find myself confronted with “things” that I’m not necessarily sure what to do with. For example:

Those little plastic squares used to close off a bag

Mini-Altoids Anyone?


Here’s where I need your help, the help of your friends and your families:

Send me your ideas on how to reuse the three items shown above. No cork boards please. It can be function or simply artistic. You can post your idea in the comments section or send an email to agrigirl@rocketmail.com. The winning entry (judged by the creative consultant and environmental enthusiast, Zero Hero) will receive this lovely selection of children’s gardening books that have been “outgrown” in my home but that can be recycled by a new home to encourage budding young agriculturalists. I’m also willing to donate them to the organization of your choice.

I don’t plan on running contests frequently but thought this might be a fun way to generate some creativity and to put an end to these little annoyances that I’m too conservative to toss. Have fun and please pass this along to others. Entries will be accepted up until midnight (US Pacific time) on August 12th and a winner announced the next day. Good luck!

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  1. Sally Mom

     /  July 30, 2011

    Congratulations Tammy! Wonderful Blog and wonderful job!
    I would use the wine corks to build the deck of a raft for my lagoon!
    Altoid boxes are wonderful for protecting small cameras to keep them from being harmed, stolen, and great for air travel.
    The plastic ties are great for tying vines together and even attaching to trellises. Also for securing extra keys with label and using on childrens party cups and the kids can decorate their own with markers.
    Your blog as always, entertaining and good thoughts to ponder! Thanks Tammy!
    Love, Love, Love, the ZERO HERO!

  2. I love that little Zero Hero too! Hmmm. Interesting ideas on the party cup markers or tying vines.

  3. Tammy, good for you by not getting all caught up in the number of posts. I love having a good dose of a good post sporadically.

    I will have to see if my creativity moves towards uses for those items. However, I have another pointer that is apparently encouraging the spread of bugs we don’t want: remember to launder those cloth shopping bags. My grocer continuously reminds all of us that they can be the germi-est little satchels around – especially since more and more of us are bringing some produce to the till without even using thin plastic bags.

    He says, “Think how many different hands and situations have been on or around that produce. Yes, you wash it once you are home, but it’s been in your little cloth shopping bag!”

    • That’s a great tip Amy and I don’t launder them. I am however, working on post on bugs so may include your tip!

  4. Congrats on your 100th post, Tammy, regardless of how that fits into the greater blogosphere! Your posts are always wonderfully informative and full of great ideas – and pics, like your Zero Hero 😀 Although I do recycle quite a lot, I haven’t nearly achieved your attention to detail, so can’t help with suggestions – just to say that you continue to be an inspiration!

    • Well, if you’re able to pass it along, maybe others will have some creative ideas.

  5. Congratulations on the milestone! I certainly agree with working toward a goal of zero waste: I focus on that a lot and for several different reasons.

    • Keep the focus. I’m convinced that there aren’t enough people focused on this but if we can influence some young people, we have a chance!

  6. Congratulation! I love reading your blog, not that you dont know! 🙂

  7. Lisa H

     /  July 31, 2011

    I also carry a reusable bottle, it’s the simplest way to help the environment. It irks me to no end when we attend fairs or sporting events where water bottles are not allowed to be brought into the venue.
    Now, for the fun part…I use old corks for the ends of skewers that I take camping (don’t want them to poke holes into anything) and also for my cutting board that has prongs for holding meat–I just put a cork over the prongs and turn the board upside down to store. The altoid tins can be painted and jewels added to be used as pill boxes or to store earrings (which would be a great craft for my 4-H group–care to donate the tins?). The plastic ties…glue a piece of thick paper on the end and use to label wires where they plug into the wall. You could even color code the wires using different colored paper.

  8. Congratulations on the appearance of the Zero Hero to help you celebrate!

    You might be interested in this post and links:

    It addresses health risks from reusable shopping totes . . . especially those used to transport meat.

    Corks ~ trivets, wall art, and bathtub toys

    • Nancy, great links! I laughed out loud at your shopping bag post because my first thought was, well stop eating meat then. Obviously you went there also. And the cork site is the best one that I’ve seen. Love the place card holders.

    • Lisa H

       /  July 31, 2011

      OK, that is one really cool website for using corks. You have inspired me to create some crafts for my 4-H group using corks. Thanks to you both!

      • There really are some great ideas. I may be able to supply you for that crafting opportunity also.

  9. Great post, Tammy, and congrats! Love Zero hero.

    Now about the whole cloth bag germ thing….this “study” was done by plastic bag manufacturers looking to protect their industry at the expense of our environment. Think about it — how many hands touch produce, etc., on its way to our homes? Wash your veggies, wash your cloth bags, and ALWAYS question the fear-mongering. As the fight to reduce the amount of single-use plastic bags heats up, we’ll be hearing more and more of this kind of thing.

  10. Happy hundredth, Tammy. I’ve found so many pearls of wisdom here since you began. Now I’m off to discuss your mystery objects with the kids 🙂

    • Oh good Kate! I’m hoping for lots of young creativity on the submissions. Pass it on.

  11. Kevin

     /  July 31, 2011

    Congratulations, Tammy. 100 blogs and counting.
    One of my favorites is composting. We reduce an enormous amount of waste from our household by sending our scraps out to the compost bin. Second to that is keeping a small flock of yard chickens. Whatever food scraps we don’t compost go out to the chickens. They eat everything!

  12. At least in Germany there are collecting points for corks to recycle them. (We recycle everything. ;))

    However, I’ll be thinking about something for these items …

    • Collection points for corks? Amazing!

      • Yes, and for batteries as well. My mom collects all corks. (They only take the real corks, the plastic corks go into the regular package waste.)

        • I need to look into battery disposal. I keep the used ones in a jar as I know they shouldn’t just go into the trash but I haven’t looked into what to do with them. Good kid project for me!

  13. Oh, and CONGRATS ON YOUR 100th BLOG POST! 😀 (Imagine a fireworks Smiley here.)

  14. Tammy – Applause, Applause!

    I would use the altiod tins for saving seeds from the plants in the garden. Talk about the ultimate in recycling – always let something go to seed, save the seeds and replant next year!

    corks become cats toys at my house!

    and those plastic clips get reused for other bags I need to close, or on wine glasses. But I really like the trellis idea and will have to try that one!!

    Great post! Doreen

  15. Congrats on your blog milestone, Tammy.
    I think you should use the Altoid tins to ‘wallpaper’ the smallest room in your house 😉

    • Fun idea! We just went to a new restaurant yesterday that wallpapered with cassette tapes. It was marvy!

  16. Make brooches out of the altoids containers and store a single Werther’s Caramel inside for those need-a-pick-me-up moments! 😀

  17. congrats on your 100th blog post! and it is always a great thing to consider what we can do to make our environment better 🙂

  18. Congratulation on the wonderful progress 🙂 And your Zero Hero is absolutely adorable 🙂

  19. Congrats on 100 posts, Tammy!

    As for zero waste – consider composting. Get a crock for your kitchen scraps. (Or simply throw them in a bowl). You can dig a hole and bury strategically in your garden when the crock fills up or start a compost pile for larger volumes of garden mulch several months from now. My outdoor composter is a recycled recyling bin – and was free from the City of Tempe. Phoenix and the other local munis offer similar programs.

    Between the compost and the recycling bin – my trashcan only goes to the curb about every three weeks.

    • And I see that you’ve started a blog! Awesome. I’m excited to learn more about your garden. We compost too but I only wish I could so that my trashcan goes to the curb every 3 weeks.

  20. Zero Hero is so cute! Congrats on the 100th post. I recuperate paper, aluminium, glass, etc…



  21. Congrats on the 100th post, Tammy, and what a great one it is!
    I like how you gave us optional homework 😉
    My idea would be to maybe make some homemade lip balm and store it in the mini Altoids recipients. You can give them as gifts, etc. and they’d look so cute.
    Since I personally love cork boards, I’d probably go with that, but for you, I’m thinking cork stamps for decorating creative projects, or I saw some lovely cork wreaths a while back (and thought “perfect, now if only I had enough corks”) 🙂

  22. Happy 100th post!! here sot many moany more..why not make the cork into thumb tacks and attach cool little pics on the other end!! (a martha idea)

    • hmmm, may take a bit of engineering on my part to figure out how to get a cork into a thumb tack but we’ll give it a shot.

  23. Now, THERE’S a potential blackmail picture!

    Altoids tins are extremely useful. I’ve seen instructions online for using them to make USB chargers, clocks and (I’m not kidding) portable stoves.

    Without any drilling or soldering, they’re great for holding first-aid supplies.

    • okay, I’m off to google it but these are the mini tins so I don’t know what they’d really hold.

  24. Hi Tammy–and a round of applause for your 100th–here’s to 100 more. We all have loved having your unique voice connecting us through the blogosphere.

    re: dr. vino’s site has some fascinating cork uses: like the trivets and Apartment Therapy’s napkin/placecard holders. I’ve also seen them constructed into legs for small side tables.

  25. Congratulations !
    Lovely photo 😉

    I use bread tags instead of my nails when removing stickers, soap scum and stuck on food from dishes and counter tops.

    Label your cords
    http://www.marthastewart.com/269075/cord labels?xsc=eml_org_2011_01_29

    I’ve seen some lovely Altered Altoid tin ideas on the internet and in books.

  26. Many congratulations on your 100th post. For someone like me who is unable to post regularly out of sheer laziness, this appears like a WOW achievement!

    • Thanks Habiba and thanks for your visit. I made a deal with myself that I have to blog at least once a week and so far, it’s working.

  27. I love Pinterest, you can see my boards here:

    Let me know if you would like an invitation.

  28. Paul Reynolds

     /  August 11, 2011

    Hey Tammy : ) I know (hope) you saw PBS special on buying local and organic food. Good knoweldge for your blog. Just dont say anything bad about Monsanto. Hope you are well

    • Shoot. I did not but I will see if I can find a way to access it. Thanks for stopping by.

  29. congrats on #100!
    There is a store in Montpelier, VT that collects things like this and resells them to teachers, crafters, etc. to do creative things with.
    could the corks be used as bobbers for fishing? or would they get waterlogged and sink? or they could be cut in half, glued together and used as a bathmat or non-slip mat in a baby tub (something I need these days!).
    You could save a lot (A LOT) of plastic ties, cut them up into small pieces and use them as packing peanuts. (wow, what a time consuming endeavor!)
    As for the Altoid tins…seed storage containers?

    • Hey-
      good to see you! how does that baby grow? Very creative suggestions and I think you could use some kid’s books at your boat.

  30. Freja is great, and growing long and lean! she is nearly 5 months old and just in love with the world. she’s a lot of fun! and yes, she loves books (although at this point she’s more interested in chewing them than hearing a story!). have you checked out my new blog: babyonaboat.com

    • I had looked 5 months ago but now, it’s really lovely. Freja is gorgeous and I’m so happy for you. The love radiates from your photos.

  31. I realize i’m late here, but I don’t need kids’ gardening books anyway. 🙂 Bread tags make amazing fingernail cleaners. You could use the mini Altoid boxes to organize spices bought in bulk, perhaps, or to keep a couple of medications (ibuprofen, antihistamines) in your purse or for traveling.

  32. Okay, I have to admit that this is really hard for me, and I have no idea what to do with the little plastic squares. But you could use the corks to make a drip mat for a hot pot. And I remember that when I played in the school big band, the persussionist used to collect things like the little things you tear from a tin when you open it, or hub caps, to improve his percussions. Especially with Latin stardards this was great because it created this hand-made steel-drum atmosphere. So he’d have loved the Altoid tins for that. (The guy is a studied jazz percussionist by now.)

  33. I do like the cork trivet from one of the comments–perhaps there is one of those in my future!

  34. What a great post, and I love all the creative solutions. When I did a post on altoids, I was amazed at the amount of dedication and sites that went into details of what they did with those containers, mind you there were not the minis. Here is SF there are boxes to collect your used corks for recycling, and I’ve seen them at various Whole Foods, I am not sure how geographically diverse this effort is.

    • ok, I thought it was only in Europe. I’m going to stop by tomorrow and see if they have anything like that.


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