Sustainable Lunch Packing by Elizabeth Ellman

Packing lunches can be a time-consuming and sometimes stressful task, especially for families with small children. We often trade our eco-conscious principles for convenience and speed. But with a few simple swaps, we could be preventing a lot of waste from ending up in the landfill and teaching our children how to care for themselves and the world around them.

Step 1 (for everyone): Say Goodbye to Waste

Goodbye: zipping snack/sandwich bags

Hello: reusable bags (like these) or beeswax food wraps (like these)

Goodbye: individually bagged/contained snacks

Hello: buying in bulk and filling reusable containers (like these)

Goodbye: juice boxes/pouches

Hello: reusable water bottles

Goodbye: plastic ware

Hello: compostable or traditional utensils

Goodbye: throwing food scraps away at work/school

Hello: bringing it home for your compost bin (don’t have one yet? register here)

Step 2 (for families): Delegate

Children as young as five can begin packing their own lunches, and many of the tasks completed will be building fine motor skills and increasing brain development with cross-body actions, like holding bread still with one hand and spreading peanut butter on it with the other. It saves time only in the short-term for parents to pack their children’s lunches. Putting in an extra ten minutes a day now will save you from ever having to pack another person’s lunch again!

So take the challenge. Teach your child to pack his or her own lunch. Pack yours at the same time and start a conversation about eating healthy and protecting the earth. This could become a beloved part of your bedtime or morning routine.

SWACO Recycling Quiz Fail by Elizabeth Ellman

True Confession of an Environmental Sustainability Advisory Committee member: I failed the SWACO recycling quiz. I knew four answers, out of eight. Thank goodness my tears can’t stain this electronic page.

A few things I learned are below:

  • On average, every resident of Franklin County throws away 4-5 pounds of material each day, which equals over 1,500 pounds a year—for just one person

  • 70% of all material sent to our local landfill could have been composted or recycled

  • Empty aerosol containers of non-hazardous material CAN be recycled

  • Plastic bottle caps must be reattached to plastic bottles before going into the recycling bin, otherwise they’ll end up in the landfill

After my dismal first attempt, I retook the quiz and got 100% of the answers correct! Now it’s time to test your own recycling knowledge and challenge your friends to do the same.


Eliminating Junk Mail by Elizabeth Ellman

Junk mail is more than an annoyance. It is a detriment to our planet due to the resources used to produce it and the amount that ends up, mostly unopened, in our landfills. Fortunately, there are ways to reduce the amount of unsolicited mail delivered to your home.

OptOut Prescreen is a simple way to eliminate unsolicited credit card and insurance offers. You have the choice of opting out for five years (with a simple online form) or opting out forever (by mailing a paper form).

Catalog Choice lets you stop specific catalogs from getting sent to your home.

DMAChoice covers a large variety of junk mail irritations, and it should, seeing that it is run by leaders in the direct marketing community. The site will help eliminate unwanted magazine, catalog, and other consumer offers for ten years. It costs $2.00 to register, but I found it was a small price to pay to declutter my mailbox and help reduce unnecessary waste.

You can also opt-out of receiving both ValPak and RedPlum coupons by completing their online forms, which are easy to use and take just a couple minutes to complete.

With two dollars and about ten minutes, you too can be junk-mail free… or at least junk-mail less. Good luck!


Plastic Bags: Recyclable or Not? by Elizabeth Ellman

If you think plastic bags can be recycled, you are correct! But if you think they can be recycled in your household recycling bin, you are sadly mistaken. Plastic bags—including zipping lunch baggies, thin produce bags, and standard grocery totes—can be dropped at stores in or near Bexley to be recycled. However, any bags placed in your household recycling bin will end up in the landfill. See the list below or take a look at this map to find out where to start recycling your plastic bags.


  1. Kroger at 2000 East Main Street

  2. Swan Cleaners at 2774 East Main Street

  3. Wal-Mart Supercenter at 3657 E Main Street

  4. Lowes at 3616 E Broad Street

  5. Kroger at 3675 East Broad Street

  6. Target at 3955 E Broad Street

  7. Giant Eagle at 2900 Stelzer Road


You can learn more about plastic bag recycling with this Fact Sheet created by SWACO, and you can always upgrade to reusable bags like these.

About Bexley's Zero Waste Plan by City of Bexley

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The City of Bexley Zero Waste Plan was approved in June, 2017. The document states, “Zero Waste is the City’s goal to significantly reduce its contribution to the landfill. This reduction will occur through reuse, recycling, and sustainable environmental initiatives that focus on our residents and business through public engagement, education and infrastructure.” Read Bexley’s Zero Waste Plan here.

What YOU Can Do by City of Bexley

Small changes in one’s routine can greatly reduce overall environmental impact. Start by calculating your carbon footprintYour kids can join in on the fun, too

Then, think about what you can do to reduce your impact. Perhaps you can:

  • Turn off and unplug appliances and electronic equipment when they are not in use; this is easy to do with a power strip. Energy is still used when an electronic is plugged in while off.

  • Utilize LED light bulbs; be sure to turn them off when they are not being used.

  • Don’t let water run; turn it off when brushing your teeth or while shampooing your hair.

  • Use cold water to wash clothes, and line dry items instead of using a dryer.

  • Collect rainwater and reuse it to water plants.

  • Sign up for electronic communications instead of mailers, when possible.

  • Use cloths instead of paper towels. You can even make your own rags from old clothing.

  • Shorten your showers.

  • Find another home for unwanted items- donate or recycle them instead of throwing them out.

  • Utilize rechargeable batteries.

  • Reuse paper items (newspaper, magazines, etc.) to wrap gifts.

  • Give items a new life by purchasing things used instead of new.

  • Buy in bulk to reduce packaging.

  • Print double sided.

  • Carpool when possible.

  • Walk, bike, or use pubic transportation.

  • Bring your own reusable items (mugs to the coffee shop, bags to the grocery store, food storage container to restaurants).

For more information on these topics, please click here.