Mar 30 2011

I don’t need no stinkin’ plastic liners [day 307]

I quit using plastic garbage bags, or any type of plastic lining in my trash cans.  Why?  I just don’t see why we need to place trash in plastic bags, taking much longer for it to decompose in a landfill.  I thought back to my kids earlier diaper days and the Diaper Genie.  I had one and used it for about a week, but I never understood why it was a good idea to turn dirty diapers into plastic sausage links.  It made no sense to me whatsoever.

I have, what most people consider, a very small trash can and recycling bin in my house.  They’re so small they fit under the sink cabinet.  They’re both plastic bins, making them easy to wash and they don’t leak.  Also, the small size makes them easy for my kids to empty into the outdoor containers.

I ran out of plastic liners a few months ago.  I decided to try going linerless.  It felt a little weird at first, but soon I started to wonder why I ever used plastic liners in the first place.  They really don’t do anything other than make the trash less biodegradable.  If I have some wet trash, typically food, I can place that in another piece of trash like a plastic wrapper from another piece of food.  This new system has been good.  No issues to report.  Buying things to purposely throw away is making less and less sense to me.

Here’s a few things I’ve learned in this process and a few tips I’ve picked up in researching this topic.

Biodegradable garbage bags. These bags cost a bit more, but if you absolutely need a trash liner, this is a good way to go.

Repurpose shopping bags. Instead of buying bags, reuse the ones you get from shopping.  They’re usually not big, but just consider it a motivation to cut down on the amount of trash you produce.  Use these for the ‘wet trash’ only when needed.

Learn what can and can’t be recycled. You would be surprised at the list of what can and can’t go into the recycling bin.  Pizza boxes?  No, because they have grease on them.  Styrofoam?  Yes, they started recycling this a couple of years ago.  I’ve found that most waste can be recycled.  We fill up our recycle bin way before the trash bin.

Separate your trash into bins. Some people have a compost-type bin for food trash, separate from the regular trash.  I have a separate bin for plastic caps so I can take them to Aveda for recycling.  I don’t do composting yet, but the change in our grocery shopping habits yield way less waste and trash.

Consider composting. I’m still considering it.  :)

Repurpose you trash.  If you need a liner for something, use a bread wrapper or potato chip bag.  You’re not adding anything to the trash and you’re not spending money buying fancy plastic liners to make your trash more attractive for the garbage truck.

Use plastic washable containers. Get rid of the metal trash cans, use small plastic ones, then you won’t need liners.

If you’re not sure about this, try it for a week.  You can always go back to using liners.  If nothing else, you’re saving money on trash.


Mar 25 2011

portfolio [minimalist challenge item #36]

[item] Art portfolio

[purchase info] Purchased new in an art store

[time in my possession] Approximately 13 years

[last used] About 7 years ago

[difficulty level in getting rid of it] Easy

[destination] Freecycle

[info] The world has gone digital and I just don’t show my work that often, at least not out of a suitcase.  😉

Mar 15 2011

creativity on the fly [day 293]

Since I’m planning on rebranding my blog, I decided not to print up business cards for SxSW.  Yesterday there was a drawing for a book from the Go Virtual session and all you had to do was drop in a business card.  I sighed after reading the sign, then put my brain to work.

I have a coffee cup cardboard sleeve I’ve been carrying with me all week.  Yes, I’m using a paper cup, reluctantly, but I thought at least I can reuse the cardboard sleeve.  Light bulb!!  I’ll write my info on the cardboard sleeve.  I make my regular cards out of recycled stuff anyway, so this is not far from what I would have anyway.  I wrote my info, I dropped it in the bag and I listened to a great session.

After the session, they did the drawing for the books.  The girl doing the drawing had no idea that was in there, but as she was choosing a card, she said, “I’m going to grab this one that feels different.”  I won my choice of the two books AND I got my paper sleeve back.  My little Ecogrip has quite a journey going here.  I think I might need to give it an itizen tag.

Sometimes easy solutions can be found for life’s little problems, all it takes is a willingness to do something.  Not bringing cards probably wasn’t my brightest plan, but they have plenty of recycling materials here and I’ve made several cards on the fly.  Less than one minute of thinking about a solution yielded many great things.  I got a new book, people got to see how repurposing works, my cardboard sleeve is getting a long life, less paper was used, something created as disposable has been used over 5 times now and I have a great story.

If you run into a small issue today, throw one minute at creating a simple solution.  :)

Mar 7 2011

like new computer backpack bag [minimalist challenge item #18]

[item] Case Logic backpack 17″ computer bag

[purchase info] Purchased about a year ago for around $35 online

[time in my possession] Approximately a year

[last used] Almost a year ago

[difficulty level in getting rid of it] Medium

[destination] Craigslist (this is still for sale, please comment if interested)

[info] This is like new, it was only used once.  I bought two, one for my computer and one for my kids.  They don’t need one, as I don’t allow them to take the laptop anywhere, it’s set up as a desktop.

Mar 5 2011

the sky is falling [day 283]

Giant, shrink-wrapped books.  They’re everywhere.  I think it rained phonebooks, although I don’t remember seeing that in my weather forecast.  Flint Lockwood must have made another machine, but this one storms phone books.  They’re on top of the mailboxes, on the sidewalks, in the grass, they’re pretty much everywhere.  They’re taking over the neighborhood.

Why do the Yellow Pages still exist?  Simple, because advertisers are still giving them money.  Let’s look at the logic here.  Are these businesses just clutching on to a past dream of advertising success, unwilling to let go?  I walk my street twice a day and nobody is bringing these books in the house.  Now the advertisers are probably paying for internet and print, so as long as they’re getting new customers, they’re probably not concerned with the details, they just want the results.  How many people still use phone books?  I’m sure there’s a small percentage and I’m all for print some for the people that want them.  But why are they mass producing them to throw them in people’s yards when 99% of them will go in the recycling bin, or worse yet, the trash?  I find it funny (the disturbing kind) that they have a dumpster specifically for phone books.   Continue reading

Mar 1 2011

knit purse & hat [minimalist challenge item #12]

[item] Brown knit purse & a pink knit skull cap

[purchase info] Purchased at thrift stores, I paid $3.00 for both

[time in my possession] Approximately 2 years

[last used] Over a year

[difficulty level in getting rid of it] Easy

[destination] Thrift store

[info] I used the brown purse once.  I’m not one of those girls that switches out purses all the time.  I have 2 left now, but I’ve been using the same one for a year and a half now.  The cap I love, but the style of it looks horrible on me.  I wore it once.  Just because you can wear something doesn’t mean you should.


Dec 29 2010

sometimes I want to shop [day 217]

Sometimes I have a desire to shop.  Not because I need anything, but because I just feel like it.  Maybe it’s because I was raised that way or because it’s the cultural norm, or maybe because it’s human nature.  I don’t know exactly.

I still shop on eBay and craigslist, only for used stuff though, as these online sites are inundated with new stuff.   These sites started as a place to sell used things, but retailers quickly caught on to the extra venue to sell things inexpensively, and to a wide audience.  That’s not bad, but it does make shopping for used things a little more challenging.

This desire irritates me.  I don’t like it.  I do, on occasion, give into it.  I go shopping at the thrift store or poke around on craigslist.  I don’t buy much on craigslist, mostly because I don’t need anything.  I do buy things at the thrift store, but even there my shopping habits have changed.  I don’t make impulse buys anymore, I don’t buy stuff just because it’s inexpensive and I don’t buy things unless I have an immediate purpose for it.  My garage is still filled with “things I’m going to alter”, much of it that I’ve had for years.

Maybe if I can figure out this desire to want something new, or something I don’t have, then I can combat it.  I have some ideas…

Dec 2 2010

white elephant gift exchange [trashogram]

White elephant gift exchanges are fun and seem to be a good way to part with some crazy things you own.  Have you ever participated in one of these?  I found this little white elephant couple in the trash.

The good thing about the white elephant gift exchange is that you can bring pretty much anything and you never know what you’ll leave with.  Your trash or weirdness might be someone else’s treasure, or fun thing to bring to the next exchange.

In the trash society world, these are a fun way to get rid of some things you’re been holding on to for too long.  Trade.  I like it.

Oct 17 2010

flying by the seat of our pants [day 143]

I had an interesting conversation with a guy I met recently in our church group.  Curt lived in Hawaii for a long time, after living in Amarillo, Texas.  We were discussing the “green issues”, possibly prompted from my lack of paper plates and plastic utensils while entertaining a large group of people.  He said when living in Amarillo, he didn’t think much about recycling, as it was never a priority since there’s so much room for landfills.  In Hawaii, that’s not the case.  Space is limited and people living there need to generate the smallest amount of trash possible.

As a society, it seems like we fly by the seat of our pants with things like this, then when it becomes a huge problem, only then to we create awareness and try to fix it.  (Halloween costume?  Check.)  Another guy in our group, Marc, was asking how we can be proactive to the problem of homelessness, which was our main reason for meeting.  Keyword: proactive.  What does it look like to be proactive in environmental and humanitarian issues?  If I answered that in one blog post, it would take me all year to write it.  I’ll take a different approach.

Why am I talking about this today?

Lots of reasons.   Continue reading

Sep 7 2010

insomnia. informercials. insanity. [day 104]

Insomnia. I don’t like it, but when I get it, I deal with it.  Sometimes that means watching TV at 2:00 am.  Infomercials. Are you really awake and seeing this or is this some crazy dream?  Maybe I’m still asleep, becasue there’s no way that could exist.  Insanity. The realization that the robotic popcorn hand eating device really does exist and people are actually buying them.

Two specific commercials jumped out at me.  I really have to wonder (a) if people really buy into this stuff and (b) what in the heck they’re thinking if they do.

Space Bags

These aren’t such a bad idea for long term storage of garments, but for everyday use?  So if we tightly shrink wrap all of our stuff, we can make space for more stuff.  So let’s say I want to wear that blue sweater in bag number 9 (because for $19.95, they triple the order of 3 sets if you call right now), that would be a lot of work to decompress the bag, get the sweater out, re compress my other stuff so I can still fit lots more in my closet and then try to make the sweater fluffy again, with no wrinkles.  Seriously?

“And yes!!!  This is a great thing for travel!  Imagine being able to fit all your clothes easily into your suitcase…”  Last time I stayed at a hotel, I’m pretty sure they don’t give you vacuums.  So let’s imagine trying to get it all back in the suitcase without the space bags!  No thanks.  Time to clean out the closet, get rid of what I’m not wearing and stop buying so much.

This is unbelievable.  So unbelievable that I can’t believe that even one person has done this.  Check out the terms of your loan:

The cost of your loan is based on the size of the loan you are approved for. It ranges from $0.90 per day per $100 borrowed (324.1% APR) for small, short-term loans down to $0.28 per day per $100 borrowed (98.7% APR) for larger, longer-term loans for customers with successful payment histories or higher credit scores. While these rates are lower than the rates charged by many other short term lenders, they are higher than some other forms of credit, so we encourage you to pay off your loan as quickly as possible. For a typical transaction, the Annual Percentage Rate (APR) for a loan of $1000.00 is 198.5% with 18 bi-weekly payments of $104.00.

There are no hidden charges or fees – you only pay interest for the time you keep the loan. You can reduce the cost of your loan by paying down or paying off your loan early – there are no prepayment penalties. However, if you make a late payment, skip a payment, or your payment is returned, you may incur additional fees.

Hidden fees?  Clearly they’re not hiding anything, except for the amount if you’re late with your payment.  I can’t even imagine how much that might be.  The funny thing about this is the infomercial.  They suggest reasons why you might need cash from them.  To pay your bills, to get you through to the next paycheck, car payment, food or to just buy things.  I would panhandle before I would pay 324.1% on money for food.  I’m pretty sure I would have to be on my death bed and need that money to save my life before I would borrow it… and even then, I would have to really think about it.

The other funny thing about this is the link on their website about a 12-step get out of debt program.  Not once do they say debt is bad, they just suggest you pay your debt payments on time.  And they send you to the government for assistance instead of telling you you’re an idiot for paying this type of percentage rate to borrow money.  The list is funny if you want to look, click here.

I just hope I can sleep tonight, I should be able to knowing I have plenty of storage space and no debt.