Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Necessity is the Mother of Invention - and I am the Mother of Stupidity

Let me ask you something....on what setting do you wash your Capri Sun drink pouches? Delicate? Ultra-Handwash? Perhaps a simple rinse and drain will do the trick. I digress....

My son, Deuce, will be confirmed this year in the Catholic church. His catechesis requires several service projects along the way. Last year, ZuZu went through the same thing, and along with several projects done with her various sports team and extra-curricular clubs, she sponsored a "Zumba for Haiti" day and collected over $600 to be sent for relief efforts after last year's devastating earthquake. She was very proud and loved being part of such a great effort. Her project was even mentioned in the local diocesan newsletter. Not to be outdone, it was time for little brother to come up with an impressive project (translation: can mommy outdo her own previous service project?).

As with every other elementary/middle school in America, my children's' school is very environmentally conscious. We have paper and cardboard recycling bins in the parking lot, we have gone to electronic correspondence, and our school cafeteria recycles EVERYTHING - water bottles, milk jugs, even the trays (no longer plastic sent through dishwashers - ours are a recycled material sent back to a recycling plant). I did a little research and thought, "we should start a POUCH BRIGADE!"

TerraCycle is a wonderful company that accepts those colorful little drink pouches (i.e. capri sun, minute maid, etc), gives $.02 per pouch to your charity of choice, and then UPcycles them into cute little products. Here's the lunch box we bought to promote the program.

Cute, right? Anyhooooo....it seems simple enough. We signed up online, named our school as the charity, bought a big tub for cafeteria collection, and every Friday, Deuce drags the big bagful home on the bus.

TerraCycle says no need to wash the pouches, but the pouches must be empty and no straws. Simple enough.

The first couple of weeks of school, we were on it. We'd outfit ourselves with surgical gloves, dive in, and throw out the various granola wrappers, milk boxes and potato chip bags that happened to find their way into our "pouches only" bag. We threw out enough straws to stretch from the Liberty Bell to Key West, Florida. And we were ALMOST at the required 500 pouches necessary to mail in our first shipment (postage printed out online and paid by TerraCycle).

Week three and four and five....things got busy. Bags were thrown in the garage to be dealt with later....

Yesterday was later....

Too late.


Yesterday we found not only random wrappers and milk boxes, but soggy bread and half chewed granola bars.

Deuce: "AWWW, somebody puked on this one!"

Me: "Nope, that's just two week old, soggy granola smears. Rinse it off and throw it in the sun to dry up.

Deuce: "That's disgusting."

Me: "Suck it up. One day it will be puke. Your child's puke. All over you. And the next thing you know, you'll be washing capri sun pouches in your front yard with a garden hose and nose plugs. Now stomp on that bee I just disoriented with the jet stream. Freakin' bees."

So as not to lose sight of WHY we were doing this mother/son bonding project, I forced him to say the "Our Father," ten "Hail Mary's" and a "Glory Be" during the festivities. My meditations were a little less holy.

As the Indian Summer comes to a close, I begin to ponder how we are going to clean those devil pouches through the chillier months. Let's face it, upcycling 500 pouches every three weeks is not going to close the gaping hole in the ozone, now is it? What's a mom to do?

WASHING MACHINE!! I dumped the next bagful of pouches straight into my front-loading washer, threw a little detergent in and pressed "Ultra-Handwash" hoping for the best. Thirteen minutes in, I couldn't wait. "Drain and Spin." Eleven minutes later, I open the door. Still reeks of stale, fake juice. Found a couple of "one of these things is not like the other...one of these things just isn't the same...."


Hand to God, this one was still half-full (note the positivity...me, the perpetual optimist).

It gets worse....I was hoping that a quick dryer cycle on low heat would finish the deed and prepare the pouches for packing. Sweet Mother of Mercy, now my dryer smells of stale, fake juice. There was a hazy, tacky film coating the drum. Clorox wipe, Windex wipe, hot rag wipe......I think the tacky is gone, but the smell remains. Doing my first load of laundry this morning since the debacle. We should be able to access the damage in another 44 minutes.

You may have won the battle, Pouch Brigade, but the war is not yet over. My next plan of attack - the dishwasher! Yes, I realize if those metallic little pouches fall through the racks and rest up against the heating coil, it could spell H-O-U-S-E-F-I-R-E. But I refuse to let these pouches get the best of me! And isn't a small, contained house fire a small price to pay for saving Mother Earth?

He thinks so.