Save the planet, win a t-shirt

By Mir
August 16, 2007
Category Contests

(I’m feeling so bad about the whole organic milk debacle that I feel the need to redeem myself to y’all. So, here! Free stuff!)

It’s time for another contest!

In promotion of the upcoming Arctic Tale movie — a family film by National Geographic mixing a bit of light-hearted romping into a cautionary tale about global warming — Special Ops Media has sent me some really cute kids’ t-shirts for giveaway. So cute! Just look:

These shirts are 100% organic cotton and feature a drawing of Nanu the polar bear (one of the stars of the movie) with the caption “Save Nanu” above and “Stop Global Warming” below. The left sleeve says “ARCTIC TALE” and has the movie’s URL and some other stuff in little print on it. Nevermind that; it’s an organic t-shirt with a polar bear and a tree-hugging message. (Perfect to go with your overheated organic milk.)

I will give away three (3) of these t-shirts (all are marked size 12, which I’d say is probably more like a size 10; cotton shrinks, you know) to Want Not readers who are concerned about saving the planet. To enter, leave a comment on this post with one of the following:

1) A genuine tip for a small measure of greater eco-responsibility, like bringing your own bags to the supermarket,


2) Something your child did or suggested relative to being green that cracked you up (my son once became very agitated that I would not allow him to place his snotty tissue in the recycling bin).

You may only enter once, and you must do so by 11:59 PM on Friday, August 17th (that’s tomorrow night). I have a very! special! mystery judge in mind to help me select the winners this weekend, and the recipients will be announced on Monday morning.



  1. I tried to explain to my daughter why we shouldn’t leave the faucet running full blast for several minutes at a time when she washes her hands. I told her, “It will waste water.” “How do you waste water?” she asks. I tell her that when water goes down the drain, it goes to a place where it has to be cleaned so that it can be used again. I explain that cleaning water that is not dirty is like washing dishes that are not dirty; it takes time away from something else that you could be doing. I could tell the wasting time and energy part went right over her head when she responded, “Eww, you mean this water is used?”

  2. I’m going to be a big dork and answer both questions, though I know it will count as only one entry.

    My favorite eco-tip (which saves money, too!) is to invest in a folding laundry drying rack. (Mine is the “Frost” from IKEA, costs about $17.) In warm weather, I set the rack up on my porch, but in cold or wet weather I set the rack up indoors near a radiator. I always feel so virtuous as I hang up the wet laundry!

    My son has always shown a great interest in recycling. In fact, when he was 8 months old, he belly-crawled all the way across our porch, up the stairs, up the sloping backyard and into our alley. We found him next to the trash cans… and found that he’d deposited my husband’s keys in the recycling bin. Good try, lad.

  3. My Eco tip would be to educate yourself on what things are really important. Sometimes we think we’re doing something that’s ecofriendly and all that really came out of it was that we got a “warm fuzzy”. A lot of the time it did nothing and sometimes was more harmful to the environment than if we hadn’t tried at all.
    Have you ever noticed the little sticker on the counter at Little Ceaser’s Pizza about saving a tree and not writing a check? Guess what, it takes more electricity and energy to run that debit card and causes more environmental damage than the piece of paper that was made from trees that were specifically grown to make paper.
    Wow. Trees are GOOD right? And paper companies plant trees on purpose? Wow. Think about it. Are we really concerned about the environment or are we just all about getting our jollies thinking we’re being helpful?
    Learning about responisble environmentalism is the BEST thing we can do for the planet!

  4. I find I have turned from a normal Mom to a crazed “turn that light off” woman. I am going room to room turning lights, tvs, radios, etc. off when no one is in the room. My boys still tend to put on tvs in different rooms to watch the same show, but I’m trying.

    At least they know to recycle bottles and cans. Whenever we have a party, we leave a barrel labeled “Cans and Bottles” because it makes us crazy when people throw them away.

    off soapbox now…. But I do also bring canvas tote bags to the supermarket! And lots of cold water laundry. So I’m trying anyway.

  5. My elderly grandmother loves to share her hard candy with my appropriately small trachea’d preschoolers. I don’t want to hurt her feelings, she likes giving them candy but I don’t want them to eat it and possibly choke. So we always thank Great Nana profusely, then go outside and see if we can grow a candy tree (by planting the candy). Unfortunatly now I have to convince them that planting plastic toys will not grow a toy tree, matchbox cars will not grow a matchbox car tree, popsicle sticks, mittens (that one is especially hard to explain since there is a book called the mitten tree), hot dogs, etc. That, of course, would be ridiculous but come autumn, we shall feast on a harvest of candy!!

  6. My favorite tip:

    Use dryer lint as firestarter. We have a fireplace and we use the lint to get the kindling going. It’s highly flammable and we save it through the year to start our fires. Saves us money on firestarters and we see this as recycling stuff that just takes up space in the garbage/dump.

  7. Funny thing, I just posted a recipe for homemade laundry detergent. The things you use come in paper and cardboard (very little packing, for the amount it makes), it’s super easy and CHEAP and of course you recycle containers by using them again, which is the very best form of recycling.

  8. Steep a lemon in hot water for 1 hour and pour into a spray bottle for a natural flea repellent. Citrus doesn’t agree with fleas and your furry friend will have a clean, lemony scent.

  9. my eco-tip would be to get off those plastic disposable water bottles and just buy one reusable plastic water bottles and refill with brita or other filtered water!! Also, re-use plastic grocery bags to line smaller trash cans (like in the bathroom).

  10. Eat less meat. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not a vegetarian, and never could be, but the energy and resources that it takes to produce a pound of meat is so much greater than a pound of… rice or beans or…tomatoes. When you do eat meat try and buy locally. This can be difficult if you’re in the city, but do you know anyone from small town America that could hook you up? You’d be surprised how available it is. And it’s often healthier! There are political, social, and environmental problems that are a product of the meat industry. I’m not trying to demonize the industry, it’s just inherent in the mass production and distribution of meat. I’m not an expert on this stuff or anything, but for example, good forest land is being torn down in Central America to raise cattle. This land is not meant to be graze land and quickly losses its topsoil destroying it.

    There are so many others, but that’s the one that came to mind first. Ok, actually the first thing that popped into my head was putting a brick in your toilet tank, but I thought the meat issue was better. Still, saving water with every flush is important too :).

  11. We absolutely recycle and reuse. (Although I have to remind my 8 year old son that we don’t reuse Kleenex and it doesn’t really cut down on waste when he uses his sleeve instead of a Kleenex , because then I have to wash the shirt on the super-hot-please-God-kill-these-germs cycle.) We are also working on unplugging appliances that aren’t in use.

  12. My eco-friendly advice…

    We drink a lot of bottled water, I know it is bad, but we try to re-use the plastic bottles for many things around the house. We cut off the tops and and take some potting soil and plant newly sprouting seeds. We then tape the tops back on really well so no moisture can escape. After a few days in their own little green houses the seeds start to sprout. We usually label them so we know what type of seeds are growing. Once the plants start to outgrow their little green houses, we take off the tops and let them grow a little more. Once there is no more room to grow, we take out the little plants and plant them in planters, then reuse the plastic bottles over and over.

  13. My kids are too old to fit in the shirts, but thanks for the contest. I’m loving the comments! One of my favorite tips is this one. Saving dryer time: I wash jeans and sweats first, and dry them last. That way, they’re only damp (much less energy to dry), but we still get the softness of machine-dried denim.

  14. My kids love drawing, which is something I try to encourage. I do not, however, love all the paper waste that it involves. My idea is to take a few (depending on the number of children you have) pieces of paper and have them laminated. Use overhead markers to color and then wipe off with water and a cloth-I like using cut up pieces of my husband’s old undershirts.

    Another idea-I use baby wash cloths to clean up my daughter’s and son’s faces and chairs when they are finished eating. Saves tons of napkins/paper towels! They’re small so they don’t take up much laundry space.

  15. My tip is cloth bags! Really I always wanted to use them but I never could remember them when I went shopping.. Plus my bags were always so large I felt stupid carrying around 7 cloth bags. Till I found Chico Bags, really I dont work for them… I can fit 5 of them in my purse (yes I have a mommy purse). And I dont have to think about it. I use them all the time! They are the only cloth bags I have ever actually used. I mean really I use these things when I make the small trip to the hardware store and the large trip to the grocery store. They are awesome. Another little bonus is I no longer need to find a use for those million of plastic bags I used to get. I think the site is

  16. Here’s a hint that many might not even think about – use glow-in-the-dark wall/ceiling stickers as “nightlights” instead of something plugged in. Yeah, they have some that use virtually NO electricity, but hey, instead of virtually, how about NONE at all. Most GITD stuff now lasts most of the night. I know my daughter’s got stars on her lampshade (stickers) that last all night.

    And another one: turn your A/C up higher (we keep ours at 77°) and use your blinds/curtains to cut the sun. Two weeks ago, I realized it was over 80° even though the thermostat was set lower, and the A/C was running almost continuously. So the following day (which was predicted to be hotter than the last), I closed all my blinds in order to cut down on the sun-warming effects of the room. The A/C didn’t work even HALF as hard – didn’t run all day long!

  17. I was eco-friendly way before it was cool — back in the early 80’s, when they didn’t do curb service, I took my papers, aluminum and glass to the local handicapped recycling center. It was so heartwarming to see the grins on the faces of the handicapped guys who earned their monies from the donated recyclable materials. I find it hard to tolerate someone who won’t go to the trouble of separating their waste. I even took the paper from work – way ahead of my time. Where there is a will, there is a way.

  18. I’m not entering the contest, but I wanted to chip in with some notes.

    1) Be careful with the brick in the toilet–it can degrade and cause serious plumbing issues! Either wrap it in plastic or use a bag of water or one of your old water bottles filled with water instead.

    2) An even better alternative to buying your own reusable plastic bottle is buying a non-plastic bottle (such as the kind at

    3) A tip similar to the above is bringing your own travel mug when going to restaurants with self-serve soda machines or to coffee shops. Starbucks even takes $.25 off if you bring your own mug.

    4) If you leave your porch light on all day so that you don’t come home to a dark house after work, consider purchasing an adapter (at Lowe’s, etc) that has a light sensor or timer.

    5) Don’t forget to turn your computer off when it’s not in use–or at the very least turn off the monitor!

  19. I look for ways to cut down on packaging. For instance, I buy quarts of yogurt instead of cups and then dole it out in bowls or pack it in reusable cups with lids. Same with apple sauce, crackers, etc. Not only are you cutting down on the amount of plastic you are consuming, you’re paying less…I know there’s a certain convenience to those single servings, but when I think about the impact that millions of those little cups can have on our planet, I don’t mind taking an extra 30 seconds to make the portions myself.

  20. Everyone remembers to bring bags for their groceries; I try to reuse the smaller bags for produce. I have a pattern for crocheting smaller bags for carrying produce I plan on making as soon as school starts.
    I also live in a large development and we try to carpool to all school activities.

  21. My 3 year old son walks around the house turning off lights to “save the polar bears and penguins” (you know so they won’t drown) Which would be wonderful news if only people were not in the rooms reading when he turns the lights off.

    I wrap baby gifts in receiving blankets, I wrap other gifts in my children’s artwork. Great contest.

  22. Oh, one more thing. Our lawn mower broke so we are getting a push mower. My husband hates the idea, so lawnmowing will now be my job. Have I mentioned that I have never mowed a lawn ever in my life? The things I do for our Earth.

  23. Farmer’s Market, CSA and Eating local! This summer we’ve done almost all of our shopping at the farmer’s market and our CSA. And we’ve stocked up lots of stuff for the winter. Not only does it save tons of oil, but it all tastes so wonderful.

    We actually saw Arctic Tale at the preview last night and our four-year old LOVED it! I liked it better than March of the Penguins. My little guy is passionate about “stopping them from making the earth too warm”

    Thanks for all you do.
    P.S. Tori–I love our rotary push mower. I would never mow with the big, loud, stinky one, but I love mowing with the rotary. And I can always hear what my son is doing and I’m not worried that I might take an arm off. Enjoy!

  24. Well, I do lots of things, but I just started a cake business, but one thing that bothers the ‘crud” out of me is how much “disposable” stuff goes into making cakes for most places – disposable foil, disposable cake plate, disposable box and when making the cakes? They use disposable cups and spoons and bowls to mix the colors and disposable bags for piping the decorations. I won’t even tell you what your home bakers (a LOT of them) are adding to your cakes for flavoring…

    So, I decided I would make and sell cakes the way I feel compfortable doing. I use reusable decoratig bags, I mix with my own bowls and spoons (Yes, I know that it costs to wash too… but I still feel better about it). I cover in foil, but I use cut to size MDF boards which I ask buyers to return and then they will get $5 back. I don’t use boxes unless I HAVE to (and hey, if Ace of Cakes can deliver without boxes, so can I!) Inside my cakes – organic dairy, eggs and homemade organic vanilla with unbleached flours and only butter buttercream (no crisco crud)…

    It’s still junk food, but I feel better about it and even better that I’m not spedning a fortune on things that will get tossed in a minute – like a double whammy for me in “badness”. Not too “funny” but it’s my way of contributing to a better “cake” world! LOL

  25. Well, we recycle our cardboard boxes and glass and paper. I don’t get boxes from Costco when they ask if I want a box. I reuse water bottles (there are usually about 5 of them floating around in the car, and so we just gather them up, rinse them out and then refill them with cold water). I also keep my house pretty dang hot. Right now the upstairs is set at 84, and the downstairs, where we hang out all day, is set at 79.
    And at Christmas time, I wrap presents in fabric bags. They are cute, easy to wrap with, and reusable.

  26. We are very active members of Freecycle is a group is a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (& getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It’s all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills.

    Do you have stuff lying around that is tempting to toss in the trash or worse…clutter your house (1/2 bottle of cat litter, mismatched pillows, outgrown toddler clothes, tv that makes that annoying buzzing sound) ? Post it as an “offer”. That could be another person’s treasure.

    Are you looking for something in particular? (An outside toybox, wine glasses, another copy of that Barney tape that’s seen better days) Then send a “wanted” post.

    This has been a great way for us to find stuff that we need, without buying new. This saves $$ AND all the extra waste packaging that comes with getting new.

    This has also been a great way to offer up stuff that could easily be sent to the landfill. It also makes a good threat to the kids. i.e. ” If you don’t pick up those Barbies, I’m going to Freecycle them to a little girl that WILL take care of them.” The best part is…they know I’m serious. 🙂

  27. My daughter saves tags from her clothes to collect and use as bookmarks. Her reason “to help Mother Earth”! My chuckle, I guess it’s time to buy more clothes when she starts to run out of tags!

  28. I’m referring to the hanging price tags on her clothes…she has a whole stack on her bureau and was asking tonight if she had any more clothes with tags!

  29. I’ll give you a couple of weird things we do.
    1)We don’t just turn lights & such off around the house. We unplug a lot of stuff. For instance we don’t really need the stove clock & microwave clock in the kitchen. One will do. So we unplug the microwave unless we need to use it.

    2)Bio-degradable trash bags!!!! Love them!

  30. Thanks for the great topic. I love to learn new ways to save the earth. One of my favorite things is homemade cloth bags for gifts. One year I bought tons of yards of holiday fabric in January at 75% off, and sewed about 120 bags in all shapes and sizes. I gave about 20 to each family the next Christmas as their gift. It was so cheap and the bags are awsome…I can ‘wrap’ all the gifts for my 5 kids in about 20 minutes flat. Pop item in bag, tie the ribbon, stick on label, done! Then one year I had the brillant idea of making pretty bags out of my sewing leftovers for birthdays. I now use the birthday bags for each birthday. I have to say I feel a bit too righteous on xmas day, when we have very little trash out at the curb, compared to heaping piles from the neighbors.

    Personally, I think using cloth diapers is the best thing for the environment. I know it’s not always the case depending on drought and stuff. BUT, I made my own fitted cloth dipes by buying flannel sheets and towels from a thrift shop and sewing them up. I once made a dozen dipes for 4 bucks. Also can’t stress enough the using of cheap wash cloths for wipes, or make your own out of flannel pieces sewn together. Toss in with the diapers to wash and you’ll never run out. My littlest has been out of diapers for 2 years, but we still have ‘wipes’ around that we use often for cuts and scrapes or traveling.

    Oh, and last thing about the Horizons milk…..(ducking for cover)…you can get a case of 18 boxes of chocolate milk at Sam’s Club for $12.38 or something. If yours doesn’t carry it, you might ask them too, as it must be in the system somewhere. That stuff is nectar from the Gods, I tell you.

  31. well, besides investing in the reusable bags from our grocery store, and stocking up on more for christmas gifts that i’m giving next month! so they can be useful now! i’ve started a neighborhood movement to recycle all the broken!plastic!toys! instead of putting them in the garbage. and the good news is, the recycling center is blocks from my house! i couldn’t be more excited. my step-daughter is now on a mission to convert grocery stores to save the paper they use for reciepts by combining purchases on the reciept to say “10 of____ whatever” instead of all 10 of the same thing being rung up separately and taking up 3 inches of paper. i swear, when i have to buy yogurts and canned cat food for example, the reciept, with all the other stuff, is 2 feet long! ridiculous….

  32. Wow, you people have enlightened stores! The last few times I tried bringing my own cloth bags, they tried to charge me for them!

    My small (and TMI) part for the environment: until recently, I used the O.B. brand tampons, so I wouldn’t be throwing out applicators.

  33. My 11 year-old is killing me. We let him watch Al Gore’s “Inconvenient Truth” movie and since them he refuses to ride in my husband’s SUV (which he needs for work), despite the fact that we have 6 family members, he is in charge of all recycling (okay, I admit that I toss tomato sauce cans in the trash, rather than rinse them out), and he yells at my twins if they use too much toilet paper. Because my twins? They use about a roll every time they poop. We live on an island and have to bring all our stuff to the recycling center, which is kind of ironic in that it takes a lot of gas to get there. Especially in the SUV! My husband has to sneak the recycling into the back of it under the cover of darkness, rather than get a lecture on wasted gas.

  34. I am all about lazy cloth diapering.

    We don’t do it full time, b/c we both work full time and are just not willing to do that much laundry. I’m also not willing to sew my own, but way to go blairzoo for finding a way to do it on the cheap!

    Instead, we do the high end cloth diapers (Fuzzibunz & Happy Heinies, especially) with a combination of hemp/cotton blend & microfiber inserts at night and occasionally more on the weekend. It may only keep 7-10 disposables out of the landfill per week, but it also only adds an extra load of laundry every 4 or 5 days. That it’s easy is what keeps it sustainable for me.

    Those diapers aren’t cheap, but you can almost always find discounts here:, and these have only minor/cosmetic flaws:

  35. We compete with each other as household members to see how long we can go each day with out turning anything on. We pee in the dark, eat as much raw food as possible and read on the porch til the light fades!
    It makes conservation so fun for the kids as well as the adults.

    Great contest. Love the comments.


  36. Best advice: Learn from people who live in a 3rd world country who can’t afford any other lifestyle. Go to an outdoor market instead of buying food in cans and boxes. Use dishes instead of plastic bags. Walk where you need to go. Throw your used toilet paper in a trashcan instead of flushing (yep, you heard me right). I live in Ecuador, and I’m constantly learning ways to do things that are better for the environment and my family and are cheaper too. Convenience is almost worshipped in the US. Living here, my mindset has definitely been challenged.

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