I’ve never been a wrapping paper person (WPP). First there’s the trip to the store to purchase paper and tape, then there’s the cost, and finally there’s the impermanence of it all. Wrapping paper is a single-use thing; enjoyed one second and discarded the next. Because of this, I like wrapping paper alternatives.
Here are a few to consider:
- Comics (coffee shops are a great place to find comics)
- Gift bags (I reuse all bags that I come my way)
- Kid’s artwork
- Nothing. Ask someone to close their eyes, hold out their hands, and imagine a beautifully wrapped present with a big bow. Then place the present in their hands and ask them to open their eyes. Ta-da!
- Old calendars
- Paper bags
Be creative and you can save a tree, a small mountain of plastic tape, a trip to the store, and some cold hard cash.
I overheard the following comment in the locker room today:
“I like to shower here because of the unlimited towels.”
Unlimited towels? At the pool there are stacks and stacks of towels, but I never thought of the towels as being unlimited. This comment got me thinking about frugality. For me, frugality is not about clipping coupons or choosing the cheapest option (especially if the cheapest option is not built to last).
For me, frugality is my quest to consume less.
When I see a stack of towels, I take one because that’s all I need. I don’t think towels are unlimited. Instead, I think resources are limited and need to be conserved. I avoid using disposable products like paper cups and plastic bags at the pool, and I don’t take long showers. I’m not perfect, but I try to consume as little as possible.
However, now that I think about it (ah, this is good) the best choice is to bring my own towel to the pool. This way I can use my towel several times before it’s washed.
How about you? Are there places in your life where you can consume less?
The beginning of each season is a good time to simplify your closet. On the first day of fall I found my favorite pair of summer capri pants. While I was delighted to find my pants, I’m sad that they didn’t get worn.
I have too many clothes.
I read about people who have 100 personal items and it sounds appealing to me. They have a few favorites and use something called a washing machine to keep things clean. Sounds simple.
My closet has much more than a few favorites. I have plenty of backups or ‘just in case’ clothes. I wear my favorites and hold on to other clothes for a number of silly reasons.
So I say, wear it or donate it. Why not keep things simple and move things along to people in need?
Not sure what you wear? Try this tip: Put your hangers backwards. When you wear something, switch the hanger around. After a few months, look and see which hangers are still backwards. These hangers are your donate candidates.
Another idea – any time you add one thing to your closet, remove two things.
Do you have too many clothes? How much is too much?
I stumbled upon this list today:
The 10 Cheapest, Healthiest Foods Money Can Buy
… and was happy to see some of my favorites:
- Canned tomatoes
- Frozen spinach
- Peanut butter (peanut butter on apple slices is a favorite of mine)
- Sweet potatoes (I roast these and add them to salads)
What would I add?
- Potatoes (jacket potatoes)
- Onions – I like to roast veggies and use them in omelets
What are your favorite cheap and healthy foods?
(I also like that many of these foods have little or no packaging)
As many of you know, I’m a No Impact Man fangirl. I’ve read Colin Beavan’s book and participated in the No Impact Experiment with my family (miles are smaller by car).
This week I watched No Impact Man on DVD and was struck by this:
Lack of community has a negative effect on our environment.
Or said another way, when we feel disconnected from one another it’s easy to feel that our individual efforts don’t matter. Why limit our use of plastic? Plastic is everywhere. Why compost? Fruit flies are annoying. Disposable coffee cups are the norm, so why use a reusable cup?
Because (I believe) our actions have a ripple effect, affecting others in ways we can’t see.
Today I walked to the store with my daughter and along the way she spoke out against concrete. Yes, concrete. My nine year old, tree-hugging daughter dreams of a car-free world. When I hear her ideas I get excited and I wonder how many people will be affected by her passion for fewer cars.
Our individual efforts matter. Even when we don’t think they do.
What are you passionate about? Who will you inspire today?
This week my family is participating in the Colin Beavan’s No Impact Experiment. Each day we’re focusing on a different aspect of our consumption and today is Trash Day.
Trash Day is an opportunity for us to think about the trash we create and make an effort to reduce our waste. So today I moved our trash can from the kitchen to the garage. Now throwing things away will take extra effort, and with that effort I hope a heightened awareness of what we’re throwing away.
Sound crazy? Maybe, but it’s completely doable. We already compost kitchen scraps; we have a kitchen compost bucket that we dump into our yard waste can (thank you Seattle for making composting easy). So the messy bits don’t go into our trash.
What does go into our trash? I think mostly bits of plastic that can’t be recycled – or bits I don’t think can be recycled. Soon I’ll know exactly what we throw away because in addition to moving the trash can to the garage, I’ll be looking through the trash at week’s end with my kids. I hope to make the experience a fun and interesting family activity (and if not, a funny story for my kids to share).
The goal? By knowing what we throw away, we can make reductions in the amount of trash we create each week.
It’s never too late to be part of the No Impact Experiment. Take a look at the No Impact Experiment how-to manual for ideas on how you can reduce your impact. Any day and every day can be Trash Day.
It’s Food Waste Friday once again. Time to document the food I wasted this week, so that I can work to reduce my food waste.
Why do such a silly thing? Because I like silliness. And because what you focus on improves, and I’m interested in reducing my food waste.
Food wasted this week:
This week I wasted some leftover Indian takeout, some broccoli and some wilted chard. I’m currently trying to perk up some chard using a revival technique I found on Farm Fresh to You.
Submerge the wilted greens in cold water by placing them in a dish, filling it with water, and putting it in the refrigerator overnight. The next day the greens will be revived.
Greens revival? Sounds good to me.
To avoid broccoli waste in the future, I can blanch the broccoli and freeze the results for stir-fries. Blanching is great for vegetables like asparagus, green beans, spinach, cauliflower and broccoli. All too often I forget about using my friend Mr. Freezer when I have too much produce.
What are your strategies for reducing food waste?
I recently read a new book about one woman’s attempt to greenify her life by making one green change every day for a year. (greenify isn’t an official word, but it’s quite fun and I rather enjoy made up words; automagically is a personal fave.)
Vanessa Farquharson made one green change each day and blogged about it on Green as a Thistle. Along the way, she also wrote a narrative about her greenification: Sleeping Naked is Green.
‘Sleeping naked’ is wonderfully entertaining. Vanessa’s writing is laugh-out-loud funny, fun and candid.
At the top of each chapter is a list of Vanessa’s changes for the month. Some of the changes are dramatic like unplugging her fridge and selling her car, while others are rather silly – like using shorthand to reduce paper use, or writing poetry in haiku form to save words.
While reading the book, I noticed the green changes that were both green and frugal. Since this blog is about frugality, I thought I’d list a few:
- No more bottled water
- Forgo electronic gym equipment (and gyms)
- Cancel cable
- Use natural cleaners – baking soda, vinegar, and the like
- Sign up for Freecycle
- Turn down thermostat and don’t use AC
- Use air-dry function on the dishwasher
- Use less water
- Give up chewing gum (I’m not a big fan of this one)
- Shut down computer at end of day
- Air dry your clothes
- No more canned or bottled beverages
- Fix things rather than replace them
- Use cold water for laundry
- Buy things used
- Wear clothes twice before washing
- Borrow and share before buying
- Drive the speed limit with properly inflated tires
- Learn to sew and mend clothes
- Make your own cosmetics and beauty products
All of these changes are green and wonderfully frugal; a perfect duo. Like my friends peanut butter and jelly.
Have you made changes that are green and frugal? Share your wisdom in a comment.
Kristen from The Frugal Girl is back from vacation and Food Waste Friday is back on again. Game on! (Wayne’s World voices) It’s time for me to see what I wasted this week.
I wasted a bounty of broccoli and a red pepper that looks alright, but tasted mold-like (bleech - you know ‘that grossed out feeling, like you have slugs in your mouth’).
Why account for food waste? Americans typically waste 25% to 35% of the food they purchase, and I’m trying to be atypical (I’m a classic middle child). Documenting my weekly food waste, helps with my tendency to overbuy and forget about food at the back of my fridge.
While writing about slimy cucumbers this week I pondered the temperature of my fridge. My fridge was set to 38 degrees, which most web sites say is safe and appropriate. However, most sites suggest you can go as high as 40 or 41.
Setting your refrigerator between 37°F and 40°F will keep your food stored at a safe temperature without wasting energy. The optimal temperature for your freezer is 0-5°F.
So I changed my fridge temperature to 41. My freezer which was set to -4°, is now set to 2°F.
These small changes may not deter food waste, but should have an impact on my energy consumption.
Have a food waste reduction (FWR) tip? Leave your wisdom in a comment.
I’m a huge Colin Beavan fan. I just devoured Colin’s new No Impact Man book, and now I can’t wait to see the documentary about the year Colin and his family lived a non-traditional, green lifestyle in NYC. The movie trailer is fun and the book is thought provoking and inspirational.
Join me and Betsy Talbot from Married With Luggage for an intriguing, entertaining and inspirational evening (yes, I think the movie will be all of these things and more).
- What: No Impact Man
- Date: Friday, September 25
- Time: 7 pm
- Where: Landmark Theatre in Seattle
No Impact Man trailer
Is it possible to have a good life without wasting so much?
I think the answer is definitely YES.