Earth Day Freebies For Reducers and Reusers

Every day may be Earth Day for me, but that doesn't mean I can't stand a little hoopla and celebration for doing the things I do year-round. Bring my own tote bag to the grocery store? Check. Bring my reusable coffee mug instead of one-time use (and non-compostable) paper cups to the coffee bar? Check. Reuse old plastic bags? Check. And doing this will get me all kinds of free bonuses on Friday, April 22. Here are a few:

Free coffee at Starbucks and Peet's.At Starbucks, all you have to do is walk in the store with your own mug for a free cup of brewed coffee or tea, hot or iced. At Peet's, you'll have to buy one of their mugs (travel or ceramic, regular priced only) in order to get a free drink, but it can be any sort of drink, size medium.

Free tree at Lowe's (Saturday, April 23rd). The first 1 million customers who ask will get a free tree at a Lowe's near them. The website doesn't say which sort of trees, although the promotional photo for the giveaway shows a little boy holding a baby fir tree.Free workshops at Home Depot (gardening) and Anthropologie (crafts). Your local Anthropologie store has a schedule of craft workshops this week (the one at my nearest store was Wednesday, so I'm out of luck), and the varieties seem to include "Children's Potting Workshop" and "Crafting With Cork." Want to get started with gardening? Home Depot has workshops for both children and adults on Saturday, April 23 -- and kids get to take home the planter they'll build.

Free skin cleanser refills from Origins (while supplies last). You don't have to be a customer of Origins to take advantage of this offer; you just have to wash your face with something. Bring a container of your current skincare product, empty or not, to any Origins store, and they'll trade it out for a new container of cleanser. You need to first fill out an online form and bring the printout with you.

Free Disney tote bag. Bring in any five plastic shopping bags to recycle, and you'll get a free Disney reusable tote bag in return, one per customer, from your local Disney store. The green Mickey design on the web photo is appealing and sweet.

Free organic milkshake at EVOS. This one is only good in Florida, Georgia and North Carolina, but it seemed too good to skip. The EVOS fast food chain, which uses organic produce and naturally and humanely raised beef, is offering free shakes for Earth Day. I guess I'll just have to make my own.

Suddenly Frugal has a comprehensive list with some more regional and specialty Earth Day freebies; USA Today also has a list, after which Bruce Horovitz quotes marketing professor Daniel Howard as pointing out how ironic Earth Day freebies are: "They're celebrating the Earth and nature by producing goods that require the use of natural resources to make," adding that we illogical Americans will still give the companies warm fuzzies for the association.

I think it's a bit ironic, too, and not just because I know these giveaways are a ploy to get customers in spending money on other things when they'd otherwise be hanging at the Little League ball field, but because most of them are offered at big box and mall-based retail stores to which most consumers would have to drive to visit. Even the carbon-scrubbing chops of two million trees wouldn't save the atmosphere from all the driving it takes to get out and snap up your freebies.

If you can bus or bike to Lowe's for a tree, go for it! I'll be staying home making ice cream for local, organic, homemade milkshakes with my kids -- no packaging required (the milk comes in reusable glass bottles, the maple syrup, too). I'll give freebies to neighbors...while supplies last.
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