Category Archives: biodegradable

Everything is Plastic in 2010, Even the Oceans!

The picture here is the North Pacific Gyre. A gyre is explained as any large system of rotating ocean currents, particularly those involved with large wind movements. Everything moves slowly in a gyre because of weather systems that work to reduce ocean circulation. The North Pacific Gyre sprawls across most of the northern Pacific Ocean and is currently spinning clockwise a huge collection, twice the size of Texas, of plastic, glass and other human trash.

Some of this trash, about 80%, floats out to sea from the continents, where many carelessly throw their soda cans and plastic bottles out car windows. About 20% of the debris collects from fishing boats, cruise ships, and other ocean dwellers, whether intentionally dumped or blown off board by wind. Most debris consists of small plastic confetti-like particles suspended at or just below the surface, with larger pieces floating around in the mix as well.

Finally, in April 2008 Richard Sundance Owen, a building contractor and scuba dive instructor, formed the Environmental Cleanup Coalition to address the issue of North Pacific pollution. Not only does the ECC work to remove plastic debris from our oceans, but strives to remove persistent chemicals and other organic pollutants from the water. Some other groups combating this huge garbage patch are the JUNK Raft, Project Kaisei, the SEAPLEX expedition. You go groups!

So, all this talk about plastic debris in the ocean is old news. But listen, this trash effects our lives more than we realize! The small pieces of plastic, (*shutter*) styrofoam, and other non-biodegradeables is the perfect size for marine life consumption. Much of this plastic absorbs toxic chemicals in our polluted oceans that then end up in the bellies of aquatic birds (their chicks), sea turtles, and even jelly fish and smaller fish. This means that not only is our trash, again, harming the world’s wildlife, but the chemical-absorbed trash is being digested by sea food-eating humans.

When we at OMPP heard about this polluted gyre, we felt disheartened and a little hopeless – which just fueled our motivation for better sustainability practices. We hope everyone learns about the effects of pollution in the gyre and around the world; We need to stop trash! Pollution comes full circle: Trash from our hands to the land – the oceans – the wildlife – back to our own digestive systems. Remember this; Some may see recycling and composting as a burden…but what do you think about that toxic, double TX-size pollution circle floating just west of our land mass?

For more information visit: http://bit.ly/25m0Yy and http://bit.ly/kl07w

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Sustaina-Bowl

With the super bowl right around the corner, we’re all going crazy about who the better team will be – saints or colts?! Or we’re just excited for commercials and high calorie snack food. Staying green around this time of the year may be the last thing you want to worry about while planning your party, but its easier than you may think!

First, we have put together a collaboration of some of the best sustainable and local recipes we could find. A great way to be sustainable for your super bowl party is to “think veggies”. Of course we don’t mean you can only eat veggie trays and crackers. The super bowl deserves some heavy, cheesy snacks – Hey it only comes around once a year! Planet Green has some yummy, filling, veggie recipes for this super bowl like, Baked Potato Skins, Mini Calzones, and Upscale Nachos (these are not your average every day nachos!) Check out those recipes here: http://tinyurl.com/yc5z69u Mother Nature Network also has some delicious sustainable recipes including hearty Vegetarian Chili and flavorful Hummus: http://tinyurl.com/ykshg9m If you just can’t have your super bowl party with out the meat, check out this delicious sounding recipe for Chicken Kebabs with a Yogurt Cilantro Sauce: http://tinyurl.com/ybby86b Use all organic chicken for a perfect party meal. Hungry yet?

Also, keep in mind, “local, local, local”! Make sure you know what veggies are in season in your area and try to use those as main ingredients. Some good veggies this season in Texas include, broccoli, greens, mushrooms, and sweet potatoes! Mmm sweet potato fries with ranch dressing dip – perfect for your party! Use our favorite site for finding your state’s in-season vegetables: http://tinyurl.com/ylkagau If you live in Houston, shop for your fresh vegetables at the Highland Village Farmers Market http:/hvfm.com/

Now, what kind of serving dishes are you using? If you answered styrofoam or plastic, get off our page! – Just kidding, but really…don’t use those! Opt for something more sustainable, like biodegradable or paper plates. These can be torn up and thrown right into your compost, if you have one. If you don’t have a compost, paper plates are still better than styrofoam for numerous reasons such as, styrofoam’s hazardous effects on our health and its inability to biodegrade quickly (see our previous post all about this dangerous plastic). At OMPP we use all biodegradable materials – even down to our cups. Check out http://www.greenhome.com/ where you can order large numbers of sustainable party plates and drink ware for some pretty good prices.

Lastly, anytime you’re throwing a party, consider local and/or organic beer and liquor. One of our favorite local Texas beers is Saint Arnold: Learn more about them and their brewery http://www.saintarnold.com/ We found this blog: http://tinyurl.com/8grvj3 with a great guide of a few organic liquors.

As planning any party can be stressful, we hope our tips can help you to plan the perfect super bowl party this year. Your friends will be GREEN with envy (…sorry, had to)! Wishing everyone a happy, healthy, safe, sustaina-bowl 2010!


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OMPP Hosts National Pie Day!

WHO BETTER TO HOST PIE DAY?: This public celebration of pie will be hosted by Oh My! Pocket Pies in coalition with House of Pies, Katz Coffee, Dacapo’s Pastry Café, Gallery M Squared, Little Miss Cupcake, and more.

WHAT IN TARNATION IS IT?: This family-friendly celebration serves to honor the great American pie, and has scheduled entertainment for all ages! A pie and coffee pairing will showcase samples of Katz various coffees and Oh my! Pocket Pies dessert pies; three hungry contestants will compete for prizes in the House of Pies pie eating contest beginning at 1 pm; local vibraphonist, Harry Sheppard, will perform classic pieces on his magical xylophone; kids can compete for prizes in a pie drawing contest (parents, pick up an entry sheet at Gallery M Squared prior to the event or on event day!); Little Miss Cupcake will be on-site offering special pie-flavored cupcakes made just for National Pie Day!

WHEN IT’S GOING DOWN: Saturday, January 23, 2010
12 to 2 p.m.

WHERE’S THE PIE?: 335 West 19th Street, in the Historic Houston Heights shopping district

CONTACT US: For more information, or to get involved in Pie Day, please contact Joanna at info@ohmypocketpies.com or (281) 902-9820.

ALL FOR PIE AND PIE FOR ALL!: Admission for National Pie Day is free and open to all ages. OMPP will be open, serving a full lunch menu during the event. Little Miss Cupcake will also be selling traditional flavored cupcakes to all!

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Compost Shmompost!

We at OMPP believe strongly in saving our planet earth from the massive accumulation of what we all refer to as “trash” in our landfills. This is why we use all biodegradable packaging products for our food. We have “trash bags” on site for compost materials that we bring home to our own composting bin.

Most of the trash that we throw away can actually be recycled back into the earth as bio matter. In fact, about one-third of the space in landfills is taken up with organic waste from our yards and kitchens, just the type of material that can be used in compost. Composting not only saves space in landfills, but can be beneficial in your yard, creating healthier soil, less need for water and fertilizer, and reduced erosion, runoff, and pollution.

If you are not familiar with composting we will start from the beginning. First, what exactly can be composted? The most obvious biodegradable matter is food scraps such as fruit and vegetable peelings, seeds and pits, coffee grounds and tea leaves, eggshells, and pretty much anything that was grown from the earth! This also includes yard trimmings, wood chips, and grass. Composting works best with materials that have different textures and amounts of moisture.

Some materials that seem unexpected but can indeed be composted are:  hair (clean out your brush or electric razor and throw it in the mix), fingernail clippings, paper, cardboard and newspaper (shredded into pieces),dryer lint and dust bunnies, burlap bags, cotton materials, matches, soy milk, and old wine.

What cannot be composted? Some materials that you definitely need to steer clear of when composting include: meats and fish, food with sauces, grease, oils and fat, dairy products, human and animal waste, treated woods, ashes and charcoal, and non organic matter such as plastics, metals and glass.

The basic steps to composting are pretty easy to follow, but starting a new compost can be a little tricky to get the right balance. There are many resources online to help you do this. Your compost can be made in a bin, or simply contained in your backyard as shown here: This Website will give you information on picking your compost location http://tinyurl.com/yfgdxlw Here is a Website with information about the option of composting bins http://tinyurl.com/yzbodvx

Two very important parts of composting, aside from mixing the right materials, are keeping the pile at the right moisture, and giving the pile enough oxygen. You will need to water the pile to keep it about as moist as a wrung out sponge; it should be moist to the touch, but not soggy. I recommend turning or mixing your pile about once a week. It is a good idea to spread around and mix the compost materials every time you add them, but the pile will need a vigorous mix often enough to speed the composting process.

Here are some more good tips for composting: Keep your compost materials in a container (I use a milk carton with the top cut off) and collect them throughout the day, then mix them into the pile at the end of each day. Some materials take longer to break down (you will catch on to these with observation) and will need to be broken into smaller pieces before mixing into the pile. Crush up eggshells as small as you can, and break vegetable scraps into small pieces for best results. You can find more really great composting tips at this Website http://tinyurl.com/yj3kwxn

Remember, after you have made your compost, add your OMPP containers to the mix! You can find more information and resources on composting in Houston here: http://www.houstontx.gov/solidwaste/compost.html

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Hazardous Leftovers?!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! We can all begin to look forward to the next week of turkey sandwiches and other assorted leftovers – which presents the topic for our post, leftovers (and their containers).

We all love breakfast leftovers, be it turkey and cranberry sauce, or last weeks enchiladas. But what we are keeping those leftovers in? – and are those containers hazardous to our health and our environment?

Anytime you go out to eat and box up your leftovers, pay attention to what the containers are made of. Most dining locations are still using to go containers made of polystyrene, better known as styrofoam.

Styrofoam is made of a chemical called Styrene. Styrene is classified as a possible human carcinogen by the EPA and by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. These chemicals have the capability to leak into our food, especially when heated – which can threaten our health, immune systems, and even reproductive systems!

Not only is styrofoam bad for our health, but a study by the EPA in 1986 labeled the production of styrofoam as the 5th largest contributor of hazardous waste. Though the production has undoubtedly slowed since the late 80s, The National Bureau of Standards Center for Fire Research identified 57 chemical byproducts released during the combustion of polystyrene foam. These chemicals are released into the air, so even if we are steering clear of styrofoam products, we are breathing in their pollution every day!

Styrofoam products are made with petroleum, another heavily polluting, non-sustainable substance. Also, the use of hydrocarbons in styrofoam releases them into the air, and when mixed with nitrogen oxide in sunlight produces tropospheric ozone – a serious pollutant at ground level. In fact, the EPA found “In animal studies, long-term exposure to high levels of ozone has produced permanent structural damage to animal lungs while both short and long-term exposure has been found to decrease the animal’s capability to fight infection.” In short, styrofoam’s air pollutants damage our immune system too! Yuck!

Lastly, styrofoam obviously pollutes our planet in the form of litter. All plastics account for 25 to 30% of space in our landfills – because of their extremely slow capability to biodegrade, especially styrofoam. Since this material does not turn into bio matter, it breaks into pieces that spread across our planet, often harming and choking animals causing eventual starvation.

Many cities and countries including Taiwan, Portland, OR, and Orange County, CA, have even outlawed styrofoam. While we wish all of America would follow their lead, until then, people should be educated on the harmful effects of this product. Now that you know some of the facts, do yourself and the world a favor; stop using styrofoam!

At OMPP we use all biodegradable packaging. But we suggest carrying your own containers with you when you go out to eat, incase you need to take home leftovers from a restaurant that does use styrofoam. Get in the habit of keeping a few containers somewhere in your car for anytime you need them. The extra bit of effort is worth it for your health, and the environment.

However, if you happen to acquire some styrofoam, or have any in your house now, it can be recycled per se. It can not be made into any other product, only broken down for packing purposes and other uses. It can be difficult to find a place to recycle your styrofoam, but every pound of polystyrene recycled is a pound of new polystyrene that doesn’t have to be created. Use the search on www.earth911.com Enter polystyrene and your location in the search boxes to find a list of recycling centers and businesses that will accept styrofoam. Note: be sure to enter “polystyrene” rather than “styrofoam”.

What to do with Styrofoam: 1) Break it down and use it for your own packing. 2) Many craft stores have use for styrofoam; try dropping some off at your local store. 3) The Alliance of Foam Packing Recyclers will find a use for your styrofoam when mailed to them. Visit  http://tinyurl.com/yeg8mkb for more information. 4) Also, you may be able to sell a large collection of styrofoam. Visit http://tinyurl.com/ybeussc to search for a list of different polystyrene buyers.

If you are interested in more information on polystyrene please visit: http://tinyurl.com/d4vdsm and http://tinyurl.com/2kllte

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