Toilet sink

We started using a toilet sink several years ago when our son first started to learn how to wash his own hands.  He loved the fact he could use the toilet and then wash his hands all in the same place.  Now I know what some are thinking…Is that water clean?  Why would anyone use that dirty water?  Well a toilet sink uses the same water that you use in the bathroom sink, kitchen sink or in your shower.  It is clean, pure, drinkable water that instead of going into the toilet tank, first goes into the sink that sits on the back of the toilet which is clean water to wash your hands.  It then drains into the tank and into the bowl which is now gray water instead of having pure clean water in the bowl, you can first wash your hands, brush your teeth and even wash your face.  The sink uses cold water which has been proven to clean and kill germs just as well as with using hot water.  A toilet sink saves hundreds of gallons of water each month on our water bill since we use the toilet, flush, wash hands and never use the real bathroom sink.  It’s actually cleaner then using your bathroom sink because your “dirty” hands only touch the flush lever.

We save between 10-15% on our water bill each billing cycle, help the environment by using less water and teach our kids to have fun washing hands.  A toilet sink is a great conversation piece, installs in minutes on any toilet and yes it very clean.  Google “toilet sink” and try one today.

Toilet Sink by Sean Gettings


Toilet Paper Roll Recycling

Most people I know recycle soda cans, glass, plastic and cardboard but when it come to those toilet paper rolls they just toss them in the trash.  Toilet paper rolls along with paper towels tubes are 100% recyclable and can be placed with other cardboard or paper you recycle.  Even better then recycling them is reusing for crafts, schools or even throwing them into your compost bin.

Some toilet paper companies are now coming up the “tube free” rolls.  It is estimated that over 17 billion toilet paper rolls are thrown away in the United States each year, which produces 160 million pounds of waste not recycled.  What if we all could encourage schools, businesses, hotels, airports and everyone else to stop throwing toilet paper rolls in the trash and instead into paper recycling bins?  We would recycle millions and millions of more cardboard each year, which in turn reduces the amount of trees we need to cut down to produce paper and cardboard.

So tell your friends, share this on your Facebook or Twitter, make a recycling bin in your office bathroom and if your a bit crazy like me pull them out of the trash.  Help me start a toilet paper roll recycling  movement.  Together we can all make a difference.

toliet paper roll by Sean Gettings


Bag Banned in Portland, Oregon.

After years of back and fourth and then back again the City of Portland has voted 5-0 to ban the plastic shopping bag.  The new rules take effect on Oct 15th of this year and prohibits the use of plastic bags at checkout counters in large groceries stores and big box stores.  Many of Portland’s grocery stories have already stopped using plastic bags with Safeway one of the last hold outs.  The bad news is the bill doesn’t go far enough because it allows smaller stores to still use plastic up t0 10,000 square feet.  Hopefully this is just a start of a soon to be state wide ban on the plastic bag.  Several other cities in Oregon including Beaverton and Lake Oswego are likely to follow the lead from Portland and ban the plastic grocery bag.  A big thanks for everyone who worked hard to make this happen in Portland……and now we begin our next project…banning those noisy leaf blowers.

Photo by Sean Gettings     Hopefully less scenes like this under the St. John’s  bridge in Portland, Oregon.

Bring your own bag.

After years of discussion and lobbing by the plastic industry, Portland, Oregon will vote today on banning the plastic shopping bag.  Last year the City Council along with Mayor Sam Adams voted 5-0 to ban those thin, found in rivers and oceans, and rarely recycled, plastic grocery bags.  At the last minute, Oregon State Senator, Mark Hass, encouraged a delay in the vote for the city until the state had a chance to bring a state wide ban.  The state vote failed to even make it to the floor of the House.  So, as promised Mayor Sam Adams will bring the vote back to the city council today, which is expected to pass.

The plastic grocery bag has been an environmental nightmare for decades and these bags can be found littered in cities, rivers, lakes, oceans and forests across the country.  Less then 5% are recycled nationwide and an estimated 12 million barrels of oil are used to produce the over 100 billion plastic bags used each year in the United States.  Banning the plastic bags will save million of dollars in fossil fuels and help reduce the plastic waste found in our oceans.  My household has been bringing our own shopping bags to the grocery store for almost ten years now and I look forward to the day when everyone brings reusable shopping bags with them every time they shop.  (Statistics provided by


Wine Glasses made from Wine Bottles.

Millions and millions of wine bottles are recycled everyday in America but even more end up in landfills.  Estimates show that 25% of empty wine bottles are recycled but 3 out of 4 end up in the trash.  The bottom part of the wine bottle can be turned into a wine glass.  The upper part of the bottle is cut off and is recycled to make new glass bottles.  The lower part, also known as the “punt”, can be sanded and polished to form a smooth rim.  Each wine bottle produces different shapes, colors and style of punt glasses.  These glasses are just one way to recycle and reuse empty wine bottles and make a great conversation piece when used at parties.

Punt glasses from Canoe in Portland, Oregon

Photo by Sean Gettings




What do with those old tennis balls.

People have asked me this week after reading about the tennis ball sleeves how to recycle actual  tennis balls.  What happens to those tennis balls after they lose the great new bounce?  We all love opening a new sleeve of bright yellow or green tennis balls but what do we do with them when they get old and dirty.  Most dogs love a old tennis ball and some people even use them on trailer hitches.  But most just end up in landfills taking thousands of years to break down.  Here is a list of 48 ways to recycle or reuse tennis balls from our friends at Green Eco Services.



48 Ways to Recycle or Reuse Tennis Balls


Tennis court recycling.

As I enjoyed another Saturday evening on the tennis courts at Mt. Hood Community College I got to thinking of a way to help encourage tennis players to recycle those plastic sleeves that hold 3 tennis balls.  Everyone loves to open a new can of tennis balls, the smell of the rubber and the fresh new bounce.  But what happens to all those plastic containers?  Most of them end up in the nearest trash can or left to roll around on the court.  Last night I decided to try to make just a little difference and picked through the trash can located on the 8 courts at Mt. Hood Community College.  What I found was 9 plastic sleeves, several water bottles , ten sports drink bottles, a few beer cans and  two glass bottles.  All of this was heading for a landfill and with a little bit of effort we all can make a difference. So the next time your on the tennis court stop all and take a look in the trash.  Grab your hand sanitizer and pull out those tennis ball sleeves, pick all those sport drink bottles up and anything else that can be easily recycled.  Your effort will make a difference and for those watching you pick through the trash just maybe they will think twice about throwing away all those easy to recycle glass, plastic and aluminum.  Maybe we can start a national movement to recycle tennis ball sleeves. Your thoughts are always welcomed.




Portland, Oregon on verge of banning plastic bags.

Mayor Sam Adams from Portland, Oregon has kept his promise to ban the plastic bag in the City of Portland.  This debate has been my focus for years and to see it come to a positive conclusion makes me proud to live in Portland, Oregon.  Plastic bags are found in rivers, lakes, trees, blowing through parking lots and clogging recycling facilities. Less then 5% are recycled each year, they are made from oil and the time has come for Portland, Oregon to lead by encouraging people to use reusable bags.  This ban will far from be perfect but it’s a great start and I will be celebrating it’s passage into law.

Please click the link below to watch Mayor Sam Adam’s video on the plastic bag.

Mayor Sam Adams

Oregonians use the equivalent of 444 single-use plastic checkout bags each, every year. That’s a bad habit worth kicking.

By Sam Adams

Fri, July 15, 2011 8:44am

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Dear Portlander,

Oregonians use an estimated 1.7 billion single-use plastic checkout bags each year—the equivalent of 444 bags for every man, woman, and child in Oregon, every year. That’s a bad habit worth kicking.

Growing up on the Oregon coast, I saw firsthand the devastating effects that discarded plastic has on our waterways and wildlife. In Portland, and in all of Oregon, single-use plastic checkout bags are an eyesore, getting into our waterways and our storm drains. Plastic bags are a nuisance, jamming up recycling facility machines and costing those facilities tens of thousands of dollars a month in maintenance and labor to fix the mess.

And globally, plastic bags are part of an environmental crisis—from the oil needed to manufacture and transport bags around the planet, to the massive plastic islands of trash destroying our oceans and intoxicating our marine food web.

That’s why I’m introducing an ordinance at City Council on July 21 at 3:45 pm that would prohibit the largest generators of single-use plastic checkout bags—large grocery stores and large retailers that have pharmacies—from distributing these bags to their customers at point of sale. See today’s Oregonian story for more details.

This policy is a pragmatic approach to a real and seemingly insurmountable problem, and was shaped by a coalition of businesses, environmental groups and city staff, and informed by lessons from cities and nations that have already taken action on single-use plastic checkout bags—from San Francisco to China. Portlanders are prepared to lead the way in Oregon.

If approved, the ban would take effect on October 15, 2011. The policy also promotes the use of reusable checkout bags, and provides reusable bags free-of-charge to qualifying low-income residents and seniors. This initiative does not mandate retailers to charge a bag fee, and does not prevent retailers from offering a reusable checkout bag discount. Full details of the proposal, including answers to frequently asked questions and a copy of the ordinance, can be found at

Portland and Oregon have always led the nation on smart environmental policy. Portland’s economic prosperity is being built on our creativity, our innovation, our expertise in sustainability, and our heritage of great manufacturing. By taking action now, we’re continuing our city’s leadership in sustainable urban living and making an investment in our city’s future.


Sam Adams


Western, NY and Southern, Ontario making the grade.

We wind up our east coast trip with a visit to Niagara Falls, NY and Canada followed by a concert in Bidwell Park in Buffalo, NY.  20 Years ago a recycling bin would be hard to find at concerts, parks or at tourist attractions like Niagara Falls.  I was thrilled to see a recycling station at the summer concert series at Bidwell park.  With a large crowd gathered to enjoy the warm summer breezes and smooth sounds of Motown, hundreds of water bottles, soda cans and wine bottles filled the recycling bins.  If we make it easy for people to recycle most will take the extra effort to do so.

The view of the falls was stunning on this summer day as people from all over the world enjoyed both the American and Canadian Falls.  This one of a kind environmental wonder will hopefully be here for hundreds of more years with the help of more and more people doing what they can to recycle.

Recycling Center





Lake Erie Wind Turbines Buffalo,NY

As we continue our trek east we stop in Buffalo, NY for a few days.  I grew up in the Buffalo area but now I only make it back every couple of years.  We spent the day on the water front and besides the recycling bins along Waterfront Park I was thrilled to see 9 wind turbines spinning in the off shore breeze of Lake Erie.  There are plans for 9 more on the same property and hopefully even more along the lake shore.

Photo by Sean Gettings

Buffalo, NY Lake Erie