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Score a free reusable lunch tote for the kids

            

Hey parents, here's an offer that will save you money and help teach your kids a lesson in environmental awareness at the same time.

Skip the brown paper bags and the plastic sacks, and send your kids to school with an eco-friendly lunch tote that can be used over and over again. It's free -- courtesy of Annie's Homegrown.

The lunch bag, made of 100 percent recycled cotton, is free with the purchase of two products from Annie's Homegrown, Seventh Generation, Stonyfield or Honest Kids.

Survey: The 'un-green' behavior Americans feel most guilty about

What "un-green" behavior do Americans feel most guilty about? A new national survey discovers wasting food tops the list.

A DIY remake for microwave popcorn

             

After my last DIY frugal remake in the kitchen, reader Ruth Jordan of Cary wrote to suggest I try making my own microwave popcorn.

Heavily packaged, loaded with artificial ingredients and pricey, microwave popcorn definitely fits my criteria for a remake so I thought I would give it a try.

When I put Ruth's recipe to the test, my microwave popped the corn in about four minutes and yielded six cups, a little less than what you get in a microwave bag but still plenty. I was also happy to discover that the paper towel dries completely and can be used again.

It's significantly cheaper, far more eco-friendly and contains only one ingredient -- and it requires no extra effort.

Here's Ruth's recipe:

See what a nickel can buy, and help save the planet, too

                  

Binders for 50 cents. Card stock for a dime. Packages of stickers for a quarter.

The deals are plentiful at the Cary Creative Center, a non-profit organization that aims to reduce the amount of trash headed to the landfill and educate folks to look at trash in a more creative way.

And that's just for starters.

The center, located at 155 Wilkinson Ave. in downtown Cary, has seemingly endless spools of ribbon and boxes of colorful envelopes and notepads. There's yarn and plastic wrap, report covers and poster board, fabric and mailing tubes.

On any given day you never know what you might find, said Betsy Dassau, the volunteer director of Cary Creative Center.

Anyone interested in a giant clam shell measuring 12 inches across?

You're too late for that one but how about a full-size chaise lounge fashioned from construction tubing? "It's so architecturally interesting because the ends of the tubes are open," Dassau said.

Prices at the center start at a nickel. The most expensive item right now is a vintage lamp for $35.

Raleigh ranks 5th in nation for eco-friendly services

A survey of the greenest U.S. cities shows that Raleigh is among the tops in the nation in offering eco-friendly services.

Shredding & e-waste recycling event Saturday in Durham

An e-waste recycling and paper shredding event on Saturday will give Durham residents and businesses the opportunity to shred confidential documents and recycle electronic waste.

Third phase of biweekly recycling transition under way in Raleigh

More than 30,000 households began receiving blue recycling carts on Monday, July 23, as part of Phase Three of the City of Raleigh Solid Waste Service's transition to biweekly recycling. Delivery is scheduled to continue through Aug. 28.

Recycle old school binders for discount at Staples

Staples is offering a back-to-school deal on binders that will save you money and do your small part to help save the planet.

Bring in an old beat-up binder for recycling and get $2 off on any new binder.

Free reusable shopping tote + 15% discount at Staples

                                        

Staples is giving away reusable shopping bags through Wednesday, July 4.

Print a coupon and pick up your bag at the customer service desk. Or be eco-friendly and save a sheet of paper and your ink and show the coupon on your smartphone.

2 beaches in Carolinas make Top 10 in nation's best survey

Professor Stephen P. Leatherman of Florida International University, better known as "Dr. Beach", has released his 2012 survey, and two beaches in the Carolinas  made it into the top 10.