Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. Re-buy.
They are four R’s in Janine Perez’s world of environmental education. She wants her friends and neighbors to memorize the list as they set out to spring clean and stay green.
Two years ago, the Oak Forest resident took the lead on a crusade that has connected her work life with her personal life. Her interest was piqued by ‘O’ — Oprah Winfrey.
“On her show one day, she actually said, ‘It’s really great that everybody is making these changes in their homes and writing me about it. But what are you doing about it?’ ” Perez said.
“After she said that, it still took me about six months to say, ‘OK, I’m going to start a group in my town, noticing that half the people had recycling bins at the curbside.’ I thought we could spread the word and educate people on how important it is to be more eco-friendly.”
Perez blasted an email to moms she knew through her own children and their school activities and asked them to join in her effort to Go Green. Today, she serves as the chairwoman on the Oak Forest Green Steps Commission and works as an independent distributor of Shaklee’s alternative cleaning products line through her stay-at-home business, Naturally Inspired.
And she recites the four R’s.
Reduce: Think less is best here. Purchase fewer items that will end up becoming waste. Get rid of plastic bags. Take a re-useable bag to the grocery store.
Reuse: Hand down clothing items. And find new uses for old containers.
Recycle: Simple Buy items tagged with recyclable numbers. Toss them in the collection bin at the end of the week.
Re-buy: “Instead of going to the furniture store and purchasing a brand new table or furniture set, go on Craig’s List or go to Napervillegaragesales.com, or other places like that where you can re-buy someone else’s things,” Perez said. “They couldn’t use it any more. It’s just as nice, and you’re saving a tree.”
Green Steps: A Link to Klusacek's Past
Fellow Shaklee rep Jodi Klusacek teamed up with Perez almost from the beginning of the Oak Forest Green Steps Commission. Now, Klusacek serves in an unofficial capacity as the commission’s business officer and serves her past, too.
“For me, it started when I was a kid in school,” Klusacek said. “We had ‘Hootie the Hoot Owl’ and, ‘Give a Hoot, Don’t Pollute.’ I just bought into that. I just did. I’m a nature lover, and I love God’s beauty that He created. I always was recycling when I was a kid. One of my best friends—they actually used a lot of cans—and I bought them a can crusher to start recycling. That was in the ’70s.”
The Oak Forest Green Steps Commission meets once a month. Members kick around a number of ideas. Then, they focus on putting the best to work. One example is the Dream Machine Recycle Rally that is under way in Arbor Park School District 145.
Students in the district are collecting plastic bottles and aluminum cans and bringing them to school on a daily basis as part of a nation-wide contest sponsored by Pepsi Co. and Waste Management.
Standings are updated regularly online. As of Monday, Oak Forest ranked 56th out of about 250 teams competing nationwide. The contest runs through April 30.
“On my day to pick up, I’ll go when they’re coming in on the bus. And I pick up from the first- and second-grade school. You’ll have little, short kids about this high,” Perez said holding her palm open at her waist. “And they’re carrying garbage bags full of cans and bottles that are taller than they are. The kids are so excited.”
To help with cleaning projects around the house, Perez and Klusacek recommend Basic H2, an organic super-cleaning concentrate produced by Shaklee. A 16-ounce bottle makes 48 gallons of cleaner. And the cleaner can be used to deal with a number of dirty messes.
For information or to switch to safer cleaning products, check out some of the following:
Janine Perez: 1-708-337-0484; http://naturallyinspired.myshaklee.com/us/en/category.php?main_cat=HomeCare&
Shaklee: www.shaklee.com; 1-800-SHAKLEE.
Recycling resource: Earth911.com