Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Three Peaceful Freebies

Grounds for your Garden
Historically, Starbucks hasn't gotten the best reputation when it comes to the environment. They give out billions of paper cups (2.3 billion on 2006) that cannot be recycled or composted.  The company does have a plan for improvement and is on track to provide recyclable cups as well as recycle bins by 2015.
Starbucks has a great program to help those of us making our own compost who are short on food scraps: "Grounds For Your Garden".  Dan and I haven't tried this yet, but their website claims if you go into a Starbucks you can ask for a 5 pound bag of used coffee grounds and they will happily hand one over.  It seems to me you might have to go into the store one day to ask for the bag and pick it up the next day, but what a great concept! More restaurants should save compostable food scraps for the community.

Rake & Take Program
If you are getting extra coffee grounds from Starbucks, you may need more "brown material" to balance out your compost pile. Brown material is typically yard waste; leaves are a good example.  In Howard County, MD, the Master Gardeners group has a "Rake & Take" program.  Those who have extra yard waste and those who need extra yard waste are put in contact with each other.  The "rakers" put their bagged yard waste at their curb and the "takers" pick it up. I hope other counties and states have implemented similar programs.

Amazon Trade-In
The most selfless of us are perfectly happy to give away all the items that we no longer need.  You can do that in any number of places - Goodwill donations, craigslist, Purple Heart collection, or just leaving something in your front  yard with sign announcing "FREE".  My mom recently gave away a living room chair, mattress, and box spring using the latter method.

While it's great to donate things to a worthy cause and I'm 100% supportive of that, sometimes it's nice to get a little something in return.  I can wholeheartedly recommend the Amazon Trade-In program.  I've used this before to sell back a bunch of college textbooks and a couple of Wii games that would have been thrown away otherwise.  You don't get a ton of money, but something is better than nothing and it all adds up.  All kinds of things can be traded in - electronics, games, books - and the list keeps growing.  You'll need to find a box to use for shipping your items (check around your workplace) but the shipping is free and you get payment as a credit to your Amazon account.

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