Starting the Year with a Green Outlook

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         2018 has finally come to an end, and the chance for a clean slate has arrived with 2019. We all now have the opportunity to build new goals, have a fresh outlook on what the New Year may offer us, and make some incredible changes. Our biggest New Year’s Resolution that we want to implement into this year is to help the public become more aware of how they impact the environment, apply this awareness to their daily lives, and have this awareness assist in developing an overall “green” outlook for people everywhere. To get started, here is some great information that will help readers (and society) become more conscious of their actions towards our planet.

Your Carbon Footprint

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To begin, it is essential for everyone to know how much their carbon footprint can impact the environment. A carbon footprint is the total amount of carbon dioxide and other carbon compounds emitted due to the consumption of fossil fuels by humans to fuel their daily life activities. Every person has a carbon footprint, whether it is large or small. You may not think about it, but even the simplest actions that we take to live our lives contribute to our carbon footprint. Heating our homes, buying groceries, driving our cars, and so much more cause quite a bit of fossil fuel emission. Therefore, having an adverse effect on the planet.

In order to begin the process of making our individual carbon footprint smaller, it is necessary to work piece by piece. For starters, let’s tackle buildings. According to the U.S. Green Building Council, buildings consume 70 % of the electricity load in the U.S., and 39% of carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S. These buildings include everything from our homes to grocery stores and everything in between. However, there are some simple solutions to this issue. Using energy-efficient products to assist in heating and cooling buildings can make a dramatic difference in energy use, and cut down on overall CO2 emissions. The product offerings of PFB work to reduce thermal bridging in walls, amongst other factors that cause an excess amount of energy to be used when it can be saved. These products have been tested in both passive and active houses, and have been proven to work profoundly in cutting down energy costs to create green, sustainable buildings. No matter the building or project, PFB has an eco-friendly solution.

The next piece to tackle is definitely transportation. Transportation contributes to 33% of CO2 emissions. While we all love our cars, trucks, and other motor vehicles, reducing or eliminating their use can absolutely lower the amount of CO2 that’s released into the environment, and therefore lower our carbon footprint. First, owning an electric car or a partial zero-emissions vehicle is a great place to start. However, we understand that not everyone has that luxury. A solution to this problem would simply be to use the car that you do own a bit less than usual. Ride your bike to travel to places, carpool to work with your fellow employees, or take public transportation. Taking these simple steps will assist in making your carbon footprint smaller, and making the world a bit greener.

Lastly, it’s important to acknowledge that sustainability is not just for individuals, but companies that manufacture products as well. To date, companies worldwide are working towards the 2030 Agenda. This initiative is a plan of action for people, the planet, and prosperity. It works to protect the planet from damage, use sustainable consumption and production, and taking serious action on climate change. Many manufacturers recognize the environmental impact of production, and many work to achieve and maintain sustainable manufacturing practices. PFB is one such company. To see our Environmental Stewardship and reporting data on sustainable manufacturing, visit: https://www.pfbsustainability.com/envdata.html.

All in all, knowing your carbon footprint and how it affects the environment is the best way to be aware of how you can make the world a greener place. On top of this, staying in the know about green topics will help develop a green outlook for you. Keep yourself informed, and you’ll surely see a difference in how you approach the environment.

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Creating Fun, Eco-Friendly Foam Christmas Decorations

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Have you all been smelling that holiday spirit that has been fragrant in the air? For weeks now, people everywhere have been preparing for the holidays: Hanukkah has been beautifully celebrated, people endured Black Friday to find the best deals on gifts for their friends and family, and Christmas festivities are being planned. Christmas is a gorgeous holiday for many reasons: the concept of giving gifts to the people you love and care for, making time for said people, and the dazzling holiday decorations that puts everyone in a cheerful mood. Without these amazing aspects, Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas!

With this in mind, it’s important to think about the cost of the holiday season. Christmas gifts aren’t cheap, preparing dinners for large groups is costly, and traveling for the holidays costs money as well. So, on top of all other expenses, why should we spend tons of cash on Christmas decorations? In addition, why should we do the environment damage by buying decorations that have packaging that will inevitably end up in landfills? We have a great solution for this: do-it-yourself decorations made out of our foam insulation products! They are safe for kids, easy to cut, and an easy canvas for all of your creative needs. Plus, crafting your own holiday décor is a great activity to do with kids! Here are a few fun Christmas decorations that you can make with foam insulation:

Christmas Trees

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If you’ve recently renovated your home with the Advantage ICF insulation system, and have a few extra ICF blocks lying around, we have a fun and easy DIY Christmas project for you. Making an ICF foam Christmas tree is simple: first, you will need to have five blocks available to create the tree. Treat it like it’s a pyramid, and stack the blocks from longest to shortest (you may need to cut them to shape them accordingly). From there, you can adorn your tree with whatever a typical Christmas tree would have: garland, lights, a star on top, and whatever else you feel like adding! Bonus: unlike a real Christmas tree, you won’t have any loose tree needles on the floor to clean up!

Snowflakes

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Using our Handi-Pac foam insulation, creating fun snowflakes is simple. Just take a piece of the foam, draw the outline and design of the snowflake on there, cut it out, and dress it up however you wish. You can add some paint, glitter, or anything else your heart desires! These little snowflakes are versatile enough to hang anywhere in your home, and can even be used to adorn the previously mentioned foam Christmas tree!

Wreaths

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Want to make some cool foam wreaths to add to your décor? All it takes is some more Handi-Pac insulation. Similarly to the foam snowflakes, you simply just outline the wreath in the foam, cut it out, and make it super festive with paint, glitter, or whatever else you may want to add.

Ornaments

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Creating your own ornaments is an extremely fun activity, but these ornaments often break due to the fragile materials used. To avoid this, try using Handi-Pac foam insulation instead! You can create both ball and shaped ornaments easily with the foam; just outline and cut it however you desire, and add some personality with paint, glitter, sharpies, or whatever else you feel your ornament needs. In the end, you’ll have a fun, stylish ornament that properly reflects your creativity, without breaking once it’s on the tree!

Fireplace

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Is your home without a fireplace and chimney for Santa to deliver presents through on Christmas Eve? No need to worry, because you can make one! While this project requires a bit more work than the previous ones, the result is much more intricate and worthwhile. There are many ways to create this fireplace, but we like this version by The Sorry Girls best. Here’s their tutorial for building a foam faux fireplace!. If you don’t like their version, feel free to Google another way, or find one on Pinterest that works better for you!

How to Be a Green Pet Owner

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Pets have a way of stealing our hearts. With their loyalty, affectionate demeanors, and silly antics, our animal companions easily make themselves a part of the family. When it comes to being a pet owner, we want to do everything that we can to ensure that our pets are living a long, healthy, and happy life.

While owning pets may be full of chaos and expenses that may consume your time, you should not have to eliminate your eco-friendly way of life to focus on your pets. In fact, we know of a few ways to still eliminate the planet’s waste while still giving your pets an amazing life! Here are a few tips to help maintain a green lifestyle for both you and your pets.

Adopt, Don’t Shop

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For those of you who are looking to get a pet in the near future, our biggest recommendation is to adopt a rescue from an animal shelter. There are so many sweet animals in shelters whom need a loving home, and won’t be adopted due to people purchasing puppies and kittens from breeders and puppy mills. This causes a lot of shelters to fill up with strays, which leads to many strays being euthanized. You can feel great about rescuing a sweet animal, spending less on adoption fees than on a puppy or kitten from a breeder or mill, and opening up more space for another rescue in the shelter instead of being euthanized!

Buy in Bulk

Buying bags of pet food is something that is consistently on our to-do lists. Unfortunately, our pets go through those bags of food rather quickly, and the bags are thrown away. This adds to landfills, which is terrible for our planet. Instead of buying a small bag of pet food every two weeks, why not buy a huge bag of food and save yourself some money? It will last longer, eliminates the amount of waste expended, and also gets rid of gas used to run to the pet store when your pet runs out of food. Your wallet and the planet will thank you!

Make Your Own Pet Food and Treats

If you like to cook and make your own recipes at home, you might enjoy preparing your pets meals instead of buying store-bought pet food. This would eliminate waste from pet food packaging, and gas used to run to the pet store. Just be sure to check with your veterinarian to make sure that this is safe for your pet; they may even have some recipes or advice on hand!

Switch Your Insulation 

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Does your home have fiberglass insulation? While any insulation can be dangerous to your pets if ingested, fiberglass can be even more hazardous. The small shards of fiberglass can be dangerous to the touch, and the dust is hazardous if inhaled. Instead, consider switching to a foam insulation that is both eco-friendly and affordable. Our PlastiSpan insulation is a great option, as it is available in various thicknesses and R-values to meet your needs, and can be applied to walls and roofs, and eliminates thermal bridging (which will save you some cash on your energy bills). Your pet will not be harmed by touching it, and your home will be better insulated!

Buy Eco-Friendly Supplies and Toys

Did you know that they make eco-friendly pet supplies? There are pet collars, toys, beds, and leashes that are made from recycled materials, as well as plant-based materials. You can look online for all of these commodities, and have them shipped to your home! This will save you gas, and also reduce the amount of packaging used for these supplies!

Use Biodegradable Bags and Litter

Instead of using plastic bags to pick up your pup’s poop, opt for biodegradable bags. They will offer the same use, but will break down naturally instead of depositing into landfills and oceans. If you own a cat, biodegradable litter is an option, and can even be used for compost! Less plastic used for your pet’s “waste” will make for a happier and cleaner planet!

Having a Green Holiday Season

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Now that the fall season is coming to a close and snow has made its presence very well known, it’s everyone’s favorite time of year: holiday season! Whether you and your family celebrates Christmas, Hanukkah, Thanksgiving, or any other winter holiday, the upcoming festivities bring plenty of joy for everyone. We are granted the opportunity to get together with our loved ones, share amazing home-cooked meals, and be grateful for all of the positive aspects that we have in our lives.

Now, just because we are all busy preparing for the wonderful holiday season doesn’t mean that we should forget about keeping our festivities eco-friendly. In fact, this time of year is the best time to make sustainable living a priority. We can work to eliminate waste, reduce energy used, and do our part to make the world greener while still having a ball with our loved ones with these few, simple tips.

Break Out the Fine China

 Holidays are a perfect time to use the fancy dishes, glasses, cloth napkins, and silverware that you have been saving for special occasions. They bring an air of elegance to the table, add to the festive décor, and lets your guests know that you put your whole heart into the table settings. On top of this, it is actually super eco-friendly to opt for your fine china over disposable dishes and napkins. Disposable plates and paper napkins cannot be recycled once they have food on them, which causes extra waste in landfills. It is easier to save yourself some money and time by just breaking out the fine china for the night.

Make Your Own Decorations

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 Decorations can really help put your guests into the holiday spirit with some festive flair! However, many store-bought decorations are pricey, and are made with materials that aren’t so great for the environment. Why not get crafty and make your own decorations at home? It’s a great way to make your home look festive, save some money, eliminate harmful materials from being used and wasted, and have the family bond over an activity they can do together!

If you want to go for a fun fall vibe, you can take leaves, pinecones, and acorns from outside and use those around the house. You can present them in vases, make art with them, or find some other crafty way to display them.

For both fall and winter decorations, we recommend using our Handi-Pac foam and cutting it into fun shapes! It is easy to cut and mold into whatever you want it to be. From there, you can paint it and add your own personal style, and adorn your house with it! Once you’re done making your decorations, you can save the excess foam for other projects and crafts you may want to work on later.

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If inspiration isn’t striking you, Pinterest is a great route to go. It’s full of great DIY projects that are simple and fun to make, and often have step-by-step directions that can guide you along the way.

Buy Local, Organic Food from Your Community

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 One of the best parts of holiday gatherings are definitely the fantastic feasts that are planned and organized. From the main dishes like turkey and ham, to the delicious sides and delectable desserts, dinner is one aspect of the holidays that should be taken very seriously and properly executed. So, why not help your community out and shop locally for fruits, veggies, and meats for the feast? Not only will the food be much more fresh and tasty than grocery-store bought, but you will assist in preserving farmland, building local jobs, and saving the environment by reducing the amount of fuel emissions expended from shipping in the products. Bonus: going to the farmer’s market with the family is a great way to bond, and to help plan out the holiday dinner together!

Cook Less Food for The Holiday Dinners

 Don’t get us wrong, we love having holiday leftovers to snack on once the holiday is over. However, often times we cook way too much food for our seasonal feasts, and end up throwing away a bunch of it once the night is over. Talk about food waste! Instead, why not cut down on the amount of side dishes available during dinner (or at least the portion sizes), and cook a smaller main course for everyone to share? There will be a lot less food going to waste, less time taken to prepare the food, and less cleanup afterwards for the dinner host!

Carpool to Holiday Dinners

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 Traveling is one aspect of the holidays that we can’t seem to avoid. Sometimes we live a bit of a distance from our loved ones, and have to make a long commute to make it to family get-togethers. While the driving is inevitable, we can still do our part to eliminate the amount of fuel burned into the environment. If you live near other family members who are traveling to the host’s home, why not carpool with them? You’ll have some company to make the commute more fun, and you’ll be doing the environment a favor. Bonus: everybody can split the cost of gas while carpooling, which will save more money than if everyone had driven separately.

Going Green for Halloween

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Halloween is just around the corner, and we know that people everywhere are getting prepped for the spooky holiday. Costumes are pieced together, scary decorations are adorned around the house, and candy bowls are ready for the youngsters to grab on Halloween night. However, if you’re like some of us, you’ve procrastinated on getting the house (and yourself) ready for spooky season, and you want to be as eco-friendly as possible with all aspects of the holiday. Never fear! We have plenty of tips to help you prepare for Halloween, from decorations to costumes and everything in between.

Reuse/ Build Your Own Halloween Costume

 Have you ever noticed how pricey pre-made Halloween costumes can be? Why pay so much money for a costume that you’ll wear once a year, and that comes with tons of packaging that will just add to the planet’s extensive amount of waste? Instead, consider getting creative by browsing through thrift shops to build your own unique costume, or borrowing a used costume from a friend! It’ll help eliminate some excess waste, while also saving you some extra cash. To go even further, you can donate your costume when you’re done with it, or let another friend or family member have it!

Reuse Trick-Or-Treat Bags

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 Trick-Or-Treat bags definitely do not need to be elaborate for your kids as they go strolling for candy. Instead of going out and buying a new one, why not reuse one that you’ve used in previous years? If you or someone you know doesn’t have a candy bucket or bag that you can reuse, think about using a pillow case. It can hold more candy, it’s easy to clean, and can be put right back on your pillow after Halloween! This will keep you from spending unnecessary money, while also reducing the amount of garbage thrown out after Halloween is over.

Buy Locally Grown Pumpkins and Produce

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 Planning on carving pumpkins this year? Maybe buying some apples or apple cider? We recommend buying locally grown pumpkins and apples this season. Consider checking out nearby apple orchards and pick apples yourself! It makes for a fun family outing or date idea, plus you’ll eliminate the amount of packaging that comes from store bought produce. To get the most use out of your pumpkins, you can roast the seeds and use insides to make some baked goods. You’ll be lowering emissions by buying locally grown produce, and still be able to make some tasty treats!

Hand Out Toys and Other Fun Treats Instead of Candy 

Did you know that candy wrappers are not recyclable? This means that, once Halloween is over, there will be an abundance of trash added to our planet’s already heaping pile. To avoid this, why not hand out fun little goodies that aren’t pre-packaged? You can give kids little Halloween toys, jewelry, pencils, stickers, temporary tattoos, and other fun ideas instead of candy. It will reduce the amount of garbage compiled, while still adding to the fun of Halloween. Bonus: it’s a much healthier alternative!

Make Your Own Halloween Decorations

 Lots of people opt to buy fancy Halloween décor to adorn their house with. While it looks great, it can be expensive, and not very eco-friendly due to all of the packaging used and wasted. Instead, why not try to make your own decorations?

One way to make some amazing Halloween decorations is with our PlastiSpan handi-pac insulation. Typically used as a foam, cushion packaging solution, these pieces can be cut and molded to create whatever shapes and designs you want! You can cut them and paint them to look like pumpkins, bats, or whatever other spooky design you please.

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For other DIY decoration ideas, we highly recommend you check out Pinterest. They have thousands of easy, fun ideas that anyone (crafty or not) can make!

Going Green Without Becoming Green: Eco-Friendly Ways to Handle Flu Season

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With autumn in full swing, people everywhere are getting excited about the beautiful weather changes, seasonal foods coming into play, and the spooky festivities that come with Halloween. However, many of us are already experiencing the downfalls of the season change: catching colds, flus, and everything in between. It’s no fun trying to ward off these pesky illnesses, and it’s even worse trying to get over them once we have caught them. To add to it, we have to try to keep the environment in mind and make decisions on how to take care of ourselves without harming the planet. Never fear though, it is easier than you would imagine. Here are a couple of tips to help fight off those yucky fall sicknesses, make the diseases bearable if you’ve already caught them, and to maintain your eco-friendly lifestyle all along the way!

Have a Healthy Diet Full of Organic Foods and Herbs

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Sure, this tip may seem like common sense, but many people overlook how helpful eating lots of fresh organic fruits and vegetables can be for their immune systems. The more nutrients and vitamins that you are taking in, the healthier your body will be and the harder your immune system will fight against unwanted bacteria. If you are already enduring a seasonal illness, adding certain herbs and spices to your diet can relieve your body of some of the symptoms. For example, ginger can alleviate symptoms of upper respiratory infections and bronchitis, and nutmeg can help you fall asleep when your ailments are making it difficult. Not to mention, adding these spices and herbs to your diet before you get sick can help fight off diseases, which your body will definitely thank you for.

Clean Your House Often

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In order to keep yourself from getting sick, you have to work to eliminate the harmful bacteria that could infect you. A lot of this bacteria can come into your household by other people spreading the germs and bringing them inside with them. So, to keep your home as clean as possible from all of these germs, be sure to clean your house regularly with all natural cleaners. Dusting, surface cleaning with hot water and soap, and washing all fabrics regularly will eliminate the amount of bacteria and mold in your home, which will help keep those pesky illnesses at bay!

Keep Your Home Comfortable and Cozy

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With the change of the season, the temperatures are guaranteed to drop and become much chillier. Lots of people struggle with this, as they aren’t completely willing to pay the extra money on their energy bills to turn up the heat in their homes. In turn, they either become sick, or adapt to the cool weather by constantly wearing layers in their home, which can be a tad annoying. Why not kill two birds with one stone and have a warm, comfortable home that won’t make your utility bills spike? The key to this is in your home’s insulation. With a great insulation system in place, your home can maintain thermal resistance and not lose its comfort to thermal bridging.

If your current insulation is not up to par, we recommend our PlastiSpan insulation. It can be applied in the walls and roof of your home, and the high r-value is guaranteed to eliminate thermal bridging, so that you won’t lose any of the heat you’re trying to keep locked inside. You will be spending less on your utility bills, and using less energy to keep your home cozy, which is a win-win for both your wallet and the environment!

Go Traditional: Use Handkerchiefs Instead of Tissues

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 It may seem somewhat outdated, but handkerchiefs may be the best way to keep your nose clean AND eliminate waste. By using a ton of tissues to blow your nose, just to throw them all away, a lot of paper is being wasted. So, why not keep a couple of handkerchiefs instead? It’s convenient, softer on your nose, and saves a few trees. Unsure about how hygienic it is to use a handkerchief? As long as you wash them regularly and don’t reuse the same one over and over, it’s just as sanitary as disposing of tissues.

6 Ways to Stay Sustainable with Food 

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One of the largest, most pressing topics concerning global pollution is the fact that humans have created so much waste and have nowhere to put it. Trash is being drained out into the oceans, people are throwing away items that could easily be recycled, and landfills are piling up everywhere. Because of this large issue, the planet is suffering from some painful consequences.. There has been an abundance of cases of marine life dying or being injured due to trash floating in the water, as well as land animals who are inhaling harmful gases that are emitted into the air due to some types of manufacturing processes. All in all, it’s a dire situation that will take some time to fix.  

 Now, just because it cannot be fixed overnight does not mean that we should not take every step, no matter how small, to minimize the amount of materials that we waste and throw away. One initial step that can be taken includes looking at our daily life routines and analyzing what products we use that are unnecessary, or are not being taken care of properly. The first routine that comes to mind is one of pure necessity: eating. While the most ecofriendly practice for enjoying meals is by cooking and eating at home, we know that many people like to enjoy a night out at a nice restaurant. For those nights, we have a couple of suggestions to help eliminate the amount of waste used, and to make the planet a much healthier place for its inhabitants.  

 Refuse Plastic Straws  

 Many of you may already be aware of this, as Starbucks has recently dedicated their company to removing all plastic straws from their stores by 2020, but using plastic straws is incredibly dangerous to the environment. While these straws should never have made it into the ocean to begin with, we can do our part to make sure that any more chances of this occurring are eliminated. When eating out at a restaurant, you can politely ask your server to not bring a straw with your drink. If you feel that you need a straw to drink out of, or have a disability that requires you to use straws while drinking, there are plenty of reusable straw options online that are made of metal or glass. These are easy to clean, and sometimes even come with a keychain to make carrying it around easier! You can feel good about yourself by not adding to the amount of straws already in the ocean, while still enjoying your drink!  

Bring a Reusable Cup for Drinks 

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 If you are out at a fast food restaurant or diner that offers their beverages in paper or plastic cups, bring your own reusable cup. You will still be charged for the drink, but many establishments do not mind you bringing your own cup instead of theirs. You will be eliminating some excessive waste, while being able to get a drink and even refill it as much as you want!  

 Decline the Receipt 

 We know how convenient it is to have a copy of your receipt, but if we’re being honest with ourselves, we likely will throw it away once we leave the restaurant, and the paper that we asked for will be wasted. Do the planet’s trees a huge favor and opt out of a receipt if possible.  

 Keep the Leftovers 

 Feeling full after a large meal? Don’t let the rest of that food go to waste in a landfill! Ask your server to give you a to-go box, so that you can bring the leftovers home with you. You can save it for lunch the next day, feed it to your pets as a snack, use it for compost, or let another family member have it. (side note – considering we make and market Styrofoam (AKA EPS) we best not say it this way) 

 Take Home the Excess Paper Napkins  

 Ever go through the drive-thru at a fast food place and have a million napkins left over after finishing all of the food? Don’t let those napkins go to waste! Bring them home to use for later, or keep them in your car! We often make messes as we drive and are in need of something quick to clean them up, so why not have a backup of napkins hidden in your center console? You’ll be doing yourself, and the environment, a huge favor.  

 Take a Picnic Instead  

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Want to get a change of scenery for dinner without having to actually spend any money? Why not opt for a picnic instead of spending unnecessary cash at a restaurant? You can enjoy all of your food from home in a new, perhaps even beautiful, location and make an event out of it. Just be sure to bring reusable silverware, cups, and plates to make the experience incredibly ecofriendly.  

 The best way to travel with food would definitely be a cooler. However, you should be careful with which cooler you use. Have you ever experienced the coolers that not only crumble and fall apart but just don’t seem to keep your food cold? Not ours! Made of a molded EPS, they are stronger, sturdier, and thanks to the R-value, are more efficient at keeping your food and drinks the perfect temperature.  Try one of the EPS foam coolers that we produce! They are thick, come in a variety of sizes, and are reusable, so that you can go green while enjoying the great outdoors!

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