It seems everywhere I turn there is a new article or TV story about how to "go green" by taking an environmentally friendly approach to many areas of our lives.
It is also encouraging that more corporations are taking a proactive approach to promoting recycling by providing financial incentives to conscientious consumers. Supermarket News reported recently that Wal-Mart is managing a program called "Kids Recycling Challenge," which Wal-Mart reports is the largest plastic bag recycling effort ever undertaken. Not only does it recycle bags, it teaches students the value of recycling and provides financial support to participating schools. From last September through March, elementary school students in Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming were encouraged to bring plastic retail and grocery bags to their schools for recycling. For each 60-gallon collection bag filled with plastic bags and brought to a local Wal-Mart store, the school was awarded $5 from Wal-Mart. The 10 schools in each region that brought in the most collection bags received additional cash grants from Wal-Mart: $3,000 for first place, $2,000 for second place, $1,000 for third place, and $250 each for fourth through 10th places. As an example of one state's results, Wal-Mart officials reported that Wal-Mart awarded $64,290 to 166 Utah schools that participated in the company's Kids Recycling Challenge effort.
On a smaller scale, creative shoppers are putting their needlework skills to good use by crocheting useful items with plastic shopping bags. Mary Ann Schweikert of Pottsville, Pa., wrote to let me know how she uses her plastic bags: "I thought you might be interested in the way I recycle bread bags and the plastic bags from supermarkets, department stores etc. I make tote bags out of them. It takes me about eight hours to crochet each bag. It is a nice pastime. I use the larger ones I make to carry groceries. They are quite strong. It holds a lot of merchandise and the handles don't irritate your hand if you purchase heavy items. I also make throw rugs for my kitchen floor which are comfortable to stand on when I am baking for a long period."
I could tell from the pictures of the tote bags she sent that they are very sturdy and will most likely last a long time. Because she is using them to carry her groceries, she is saving even more bags from cluttering landfills unnecessarily. If you are interested in learning how to make tote bags from your plastic shopping bags, you can find easy instructions on crafting websites. Simply go to a search engine and see what you find by entering the term "crocheted plastic bags." I have also heard of people being able to make hats, small cell phone bags, water bottle holders, doilies and stuffed dolls with plastic bags. If you would like specific instructions shared by Carol Duvall in her HGTV show, you can go to the HGTV Web site to find clear instructions and pictures to get started. Simply click on "crocheted plastic" on this page: http://www.hgtv.com/hgtv/cr_needlework_crochet.
Stephanie Nelson shares her savings tips as a regular contributor on ABC News' "Good Morning America." You can find more of her savings tips in her book "The Greatest Secrets of the Coupon Mom" and on her website at www.couponmom.com. She can be reached at email@example.com.