Earth Day 2015

In honor of Earth Day 2015, I'm reviving this blog, CAT Productions, which has been dormant for a few years. This blog has traditionally been about various recycling topics.  But, I think it's about much more than that. The CAT is about all manner of eco living, including the old-fashioned concepts of recycling by reusing items that others might just throw away; upcycling used containers and other things into new, more usable items; repairing appliances and tools that society has convinced us are not worth fixing; finding new uses for objects that have seemingly outlived their original usefulness; discovering ways to accomplish a particular task or goal without buying a bunch of extra stuff; and much more.

For this "grand re-opening" blog post, I'm going to focus on a topic that is of interest both here and on my other blog, 365 Letters: Creating your own stationery from stuff you'd ordinarily throw away.

Today, many of the world's citizens have no shortage of paper. We have easy access to notebook paper, printer paper, legal pads, etc., in addition to fancy stationery, notecards, etc. But, what many of us do have a problem with is too much trash and that can lead to problems for our environment. Whether it's dumped, buried or burned, our garbage is a problem. It can leak unhealthy chemicals into the land and water; it can clog up our land and waterways, including the oceans, with trash that hinders the survival of the animals and plants that live there; it can produce gasses that destroy our atmosphere and cause health problems for every living thing on the planet.

According to news reports, today, the mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio, will announce a new plan to reduce the amount of waste the city produces by 90 percent in the next 15 years. I haven't seen the plan, and I have no idea how NYC will reduce their waste by that much, but I have some ideas that individuals all over the world could use to reduce the amount of stuff that they throw away every day.

Back in our grandparents day and earlier, paper wasn't so easy to come by, and people reused every scrap of paper they could find. Old envelopes, paper bags and other forms of paper were reused for grocery lists, notes and letters. This was a practice that was sometimes taken to extremes, such as with "crisscross writing," which involved taking a piece of paper that had already been written on, turning it sideways and writing across the previously written words. Some examples of crisscross writing can be seen online here.

I'm not sure we need to go that far just yet, but we can take a look at things we currently consider trash and figure out how to reuse them. For example, I often write shopping lists on used envelopes or on the unused envelopes that often come with junk mail. The benefit of using envelopes for the lists is that any small items you need, such as coupons, old receipts, notes, money, can be stashed inside the envelope while you shop.

All sorts of packaging, from the paper sacks flour and sugar come in to the cardboard boxes for
cereal, snacks, toothpaste, etc., can be repurposed as stationery. And, this is a process that adapts to your lifestyle, no matter how much time or craftiness you have. If you're not the type of person who wants to spend hours creating mail art, simply save paper, such as flour sacks, junk mail or old office forms with blank backsides, and write your letter on the blank space. Fold the letter and put it in an envelope or tape it shut and put labels and stamps on it, turning it into a self-mailer.

On the other hand, if you'd like to spend more time on the project, cut boxes into rectangles and use them as postcards or notecards. I bought a cool rubber stamp to make the blank side of the cards look like postcards, but it isn't necessary, so long as the post office can determine who to send it to.

So, today, as we celebrate Earth Day, I encourage you to look around and see if there's anything you can reuse, repurpose, upcycle, etc. rather than throwing it away.

Recycling with Mary Janes Farm

The latest issue of MaryJanesFarm magazine (August-September 2011) is labeled the "Nifty thrifty issue," and it has lots of great ideas for recycling and reusing!

One story talks about reusing an old coat to make stuffed bears and bunnies. Another shows how to turn T-shirts into skirts. There are reuse ideas sprinkled throughout the magazine.

Every issue of the magazine ends with a column by "city farmgirl" Rebekah Teal. She writes about learning the art of "reuse" from an older woman she used to visit.

If you've never read MaryJanesFarm magazine, this is the issue to pick up.

Creating eco-friendly mail

Now, you can send an eco-friendly message just by putting a stamp on an envelope. In April, the U.S. Postal Service released the new "Go Green" postage stamps, along with a wide variety of great items to complement the stamps.

There's even a special section of the U.S.P.S. online store dedicated to the "Go Green" line of products.

The stamps are "Forever" stamps, for use on First Class mail. The stamps and philatelic products can be ordered online at

The U.S.P.S. has been environmentally friendly since 1899 when it tested the first electric vehicle in Buffalo, NY. Today, the agency operates more than 44,000 alternative fuel capable mail delivery vehicles across the country, including ethanol, biodiesel, compressed natural gas and electric. Since 2005, USPS has increased its use of alternative fuels 133 percent, and since 2003, has reduced its facility energy use 28 percent. To learn more about USPS sustainability initiatives, visit the USPS green newsroom and

The Postal Service chose the Go Green stamps as this year’s social awareness stamps to help raise awareness about helping the environment.

In addition to offering the stamps and the typical philatelic products (first day covers, digital postmarks, etc.), the Go Green line also includes tote bags, postcards, playing cards and a family activity kit, which includes stamps, a poster, fold-and-mail stationery and access to online games.

(If you read my 365Letters blog, I apologize for the similar posts today, but I thought this topic was worthy of both blogs.)

What are you recycling today?

At our house, we're collecting aluminum cans to sell to the local scrap metal place. My daughter's Girl Scout troop is using the money they earn by selling the cans to help the local animal shelter and Humane Society. It's the troop's Bronze Award project. They combined recycling with helping the animals.

Have you been recycling lately? Leave a comment about how you're recycling.

Recycled Halloween?

I know Halloween is a fun time for kids. They get to dress up in fanciful or frightful costumes and get free candy!

But, it always seems like such a wasteful holiday to me. The stores are full of new costumes that will barely stay in one piece through the end of Oct. 31. Then, they lay in shreds on the closet floor. And, then there are plastic pumpkins, skull-shaped flashlights, glo-sticks and piles and piles of candy wrappers.

Do you have any ideas for making Halloween more eco-friendly? What do you do to reduce Oct. 31 waste? Share your ideas!

I have some stickers (above) in my Etsy shop that are made from handmade paper, created from junk mail and other sorts of paper trash. And my Halloween tags (at left) were made from the leftovers of another project. Do you have any ReduceReuseRecycle Halloween decorating ideas?

Back to school cleaning

Oh, sure, everyone's heard of "spring cleaning," what about back-to-school cleaning?

Wouldn't it be great for the kids to head back to school with everything all neat and orderly at home! If your house is anything like our house is, somewhere in your child's room are piles of pencils, scissors, rulers, etc.

By doing some back-to-school cleaning, you may be able to save a lot of money on school supplies!

However, if your child needs a selection of different items than you have bought in the past, or if you just like to start the new school year with new supplies, you may still want to go shopping. Still, you have that pile of used school supplies that you pulled out from underneath your kid's bed.

What should you do with them? How about donating the gently used school supplies? A local thrift store will be happy to take the items and re-sell or give them to families who are needing less expensive options. The school, too, may be able to find a family who will appreciate your used items. If those options aren't working for you, try a church or day care center for donating those barely used colored pencils, scissors, etc.

It'll lighten your load a bit and help out someone else.


Today is Earth Day! Celebrate! Do something earthly! Do something eco-friendly!

There are many great ideas out there for celebrating Earth Day. The Environmental Kids Club at the EPA's Web site has lots of fun, art projects, etc.

(The Earth Rise photo is courtesy of NASA and features the view of Earth from Apollo 8.)
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...