Apr 10 2011

trash or treasure? [day 319]

There’s a lot of stuff that might be considered trash, but before you throw something away, think about the possible uses for it.  These are partially full cleaning supplies and pesticides, well, there’s also a random bottle of unopened champagne too.  Just because it’s half empty (or half full, depending on your perspective) and you don’t want it, dosen’t mean someone else can’t use it.  I list this on freecycle and it was gone in a matter of hours.  Yes, it’s my waste, but it doesn’t need to end up in a landfill or disposal center.

Before you throw things away, here’s some things to think about.

  • Repurpose. Could I repurpose this for something else?
  • Sell. Is this something that I could sell?
  • Give. Is this something I could give away?  Do I know anyone who might use this or need this?  Will a thrift store take it?  Remember, your trash might be some else’s treasure.  Put it on freecycle.  If it doesn’t go on freecycle, it might just be trash.
  • Green. What is the best environmental way to get rid of this item?  Can it be recycled?
  • Good. Is there a way to use this to bless someone else?  Can you give it to a fundraiser or charity?
  • Plan. Why did you buy this in the first place?  Have you made a plan not to buy it, or anything similar again?
  • Repurchase. If you need this item or something similar in the future, is there a smaller size or is it something you can borrow?

Yes, this is a lot to think about each time you plan to get rid of something, but if you start doing this, it will change your habits.  It will be easier to get rid of things because you will have a process and your shopping habits will change, as you will think long-term about something before you buy it.  It’s a win-win.  :)


Apr 8 2011

sharing your stuff [day 317]

I love actsofsharing.com, where you can share all your stuff with your friends.  I’ve been using this quite a bit and I think it’s great for many reasons, one of them being the organization of sharing.  How many times have you gone to lend a book or a movie to a friend, only to realize that you lent it out a while back, but you can’t remember who you lent it to?  I do that all the time.  My neighbor asked for her movie back about a week ago.  I had it, for about a year, and I had no recollection of borrowing it.

I decided if this sharing thing is going to be part of our lives, we need to have an organized system of borrowing and lending.  I decided to set up a bin for all of the small things like books and movies.  This way, I can keep up with the borrowed stuff and I have a place to make a pile of my “stuff to lend”.  This way I won’t lose anything by keeping it all in one place.

We have an Ikea plastic bin in the living room to keep everything in.  So far the system is working well.  More intentional sharing means saving money, owning less stuff and building more community.  Gotta love it.


Apr 6 2011

to buy or not to buy, that is the question [day 314]

I found myself at a thrift store about a week ago, one that I haven’t visited in a long time.  I really didn’t need anything, but since I was on that side of town, I decided to check it out.  In the past, any good must be purchased, but now I apply my new shopping skills before buying anything.  Here’s a little bit of what that looks like.

  • Browse first, pick up later. I shop without picking up anything.  I look for things I like, then once I’m done, I go back and get the things I remember.  If it didn’t stick in my head, it’s not worth buying.
  • Do I need this? This question doesn’t mean I can’t have it if I don’t need it.  What it does mean is looking at the big picture.  Why do I want it?  How long will I use it?  Will I even use it more than once of twice?  What item will I get rid of to get this with my one for one model?
  • Can I repurpose something I have, borrow or trade for this? Basically I’m asking, “Is there a better way?”  Let’s take a tool for example.  Do I have something that will do the same job?  Could I borrow or rent this item?  I look at all other options.

I did something a little different on this shopping trip.  I took photos of everything I would have put in the cart or considered buying right away.  Here’s the photos.

Things I didn’t buy.

This extremely well build patio coffee table would have come home with me.  I don’t need, I would barely have space for it, but it was a screaming deal at $29.99.  I still want it just looking at the photo of it.  I love the modern style, and the way this was built, it could serve as a storm shelter.

Awesome cap, too tight for my head.  Continue reading


Mar 17 2011

transfer of time, from shopping to sharing [day 294]

We’re taught from little on that we should always share.  As we get a little older, we have our own stuff, but we’re still told to share on occasion.  Then we hit our teens.  I don’t think anyone told me I should share anymore at that age.  We start backing off the sharing.  Then as an adult, I guess we’re not really expected to share, although if an opportunity arises, most of the time, we will share.  If we need something, we usually just go out and buy it, resulting in ownership of a lot of stuff.  Stuff that costs money, stuff that uses resources and stuff we simply don’t need.  What if we transferred shopping time into sharing time?  What if we started to share again?

So what is sharing?

share [shair]

— n

1. a part or portion of something owned, allotted to, or contributed by a person or group

— vb  (often foll by out ) (when intr, often foll by  in )

1. to divide or apportion, esp equally

2. to join with another or others in the use of (something): can I share your umbrella?

We all have things sitting around our house that we don’t use regularly.  A few days ago, I used a drill as an example.  Could we lend our drill to a friend?  If you need a hole and you don’t have a drill, could you borrow one?  Let’s do a little exercise.

Think of 3 things you have sitting around your house, not being used or used rarely.

~

Would you be willing to lend these items to someone you know?

If you’re like me, you probably thought of more than 3 items.  What would it look like for you to lend these things out?  With current technology, this is not only possible, it’s easy.  You won’t have to wonder who you lent that book to anymore either.  You can sign up on actsofsharing.com to borrow and lend with only your friends.  Not only will it track your items, but it will also calculate how much you have saved by borrowing, how much you’ve saved your friends by lending them things and tells you how many items in total your friends have listed.  Continue reading


Mar 14 2011

the new sharing economy [day 291]

Do you share your stuff?  If you need a drill, do you go out and buy one or do you try to borrow one?  I mean, you just need a hole, right?  I own a drill.  My dad gave me a new DeWalt drill about 10 years ago, but that one got lost on a mission trip.  I never found it, although another older drill with a chuck key showed up unclaimed.  I took it, so that’s why I have a drill now.  I don’t really need one though.

So why don’t I need one?  Doesn’t everyone have a drill in their garage?  Let’s look at the logic.  I need a few holes, so I use the drill for approximately 4-8 minutes in a years time.  Maybe a little bit more if I have some home projects.  I could borrow one from a friend.  I could rent one when I’m doing projects.  I could share a drill.  Yes, I said share.  I could co-own a drill with some friends or I could use a sharing service.  This is really a great and upward trending process.

First, there’s itizen.com.  You can print QR codes for all of your things in order to tell stories about them, to share them and to track the life of them.  Here’s a blurb from itizen’s site:

Why we do what we do.
We want to celebrate the cool things around us — period. We are inspired by the artists, makers, and retailers who provide us with these wonderful things, and we are fascinated by how storytelling can give these things meaning and purpose. Most important, we are passionate about supporting a culture of giving and sharing that allows others to benefit from these things and share in the joy.

If you don’t have a QR code reader, there’s lots of free apps out there that can be downloaded.  You can scan it and it will bring up the info right away.  The code to the left is a legitimate code for something I’m getting rid of.  Take a look and see if you want the item.  😉

I’m really liking this concept of sharing and swapping.  I’m still researching this whole thing, but I see so many benefits.

Cost savings: Not only does it save you money buying things, but also saves money on the maintenance and storage of these things.

Environmentally friendly: Reducing consumption means less production and fewer resources used.

Manufacturer behavior change: Manufacturers will start to make products based on consumer demand.  If we want to share quality products, but we’re buying less of them, manufacturers will start making more quality items and with the needed features we desire.

Less clutter: Less stuff is less stress and less to clean.  It’s also easier to find the things you do have.

Builds community: Sharing with friends, and even people you don’t know yet if you choose to do that, is a great way to build community, especially among neighbors.  In this day and age, at least where I live, knowing your neighbors is not the norm.  My neighbors let me borrow stuff all the time, and if they need something, they ask.

Helps eliminate poverty: This process can help eliminate poverty by lowering the cost of living.  If I don’t need to buy as much and I can share with others, I can live on less.

Job shifts: Jobs become more service oriented.  This is due to a shift from consuming stuff to being consumers of services.

We are on the front end of a wonderful trend that will change the way the world functions, utilizing technology to change our distribution systems, creating a community of sharing that will better our lives.  I’m still doing a lot of homework on this, but I will be posting more on it soon.  Sharing is an old concept, but it’s finding a new life through social media.

I just bought a used iPad from a friend of mine who’s upgrading.  I’ve decided to share my iPad.  I will be using a service such as snapgoods.com or I might do a co-ownership of it.  If this intrigues you in any way, let me know your thoughts.

Would you share something you paid a lot of money for, but something that sits unused for large periods of time?


Feb 27 2011

give some, get none [day 277]

Yesterday, I spent the early part of the day running errands before work.  Most of them were driving the Infiniti sleigh, full of donations, to all of the required destinations for drop-off.  I started at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore, dropping off my old back door, extra slate tiles and a bag of hardware.  I went inside to look for a new front door.  The style I want, the size and that fact it needs to be used is making it difficult to find one.  Yesterday I found 3, and 2 of which I liked, but I decided not to purchase one.  I don’t need it and I’ve spent a lot of money on my house lately.

Next stop was the purple thrift store in McKinney, benefiting the Samaritan Inn.  I dropped off a few bags of my stuff, a box of stuff from work and two bags from my friends.  Of course I had to go inside, but I did it with my new minimalist trajectory.  Here’s what I didn’t buy.  2 blue ceramic bowls.  I thought about buying them because we don’t use paper plates or plastic utensils, even when entertaining, so I tend to keep more of these in the house.  I have all solid colored mis-matched dishes.  I chose not to buy them, as I really don’t entertain that much and I didn’t need them.  Just saved $2.  The other thing I didn’t buy was a metal orange tray for $3.  My kids like to occasionally use a tray to eat upstairs, which I allow about 2 times a year.  We have a plastic red tray, and I didn’t need the orange tray.  No need for 2 of anything like that.  I probably don’t even need to keep the red tray.  I didn’t need anything in there, so I left without buying anything.  Time for my next stop.

I decided to go to Half Price Books since I had a pile of books I didn’t need.  I’ve sold books to them in the past and I swore I would never do it again.  For the number of books, the value of them as used books and the condition, I always felt financially raped when I left there after selling books.  I thought this time I’ll go in, sell my stuff and be prepared for any amount of money I might get.  I gave them 8 classic novels, 4 current magazines, 1 current novel, 3 cookbooks and other miscellaneous books.  23 pieces in all.

All of these are used, my best estimate is $40.00 out of pocket.  Since it was a weekend, Half Price was busy so I had to wait a little while for them to process my stuff.  That was no problem, as I wanted to look around a little bit.  I was hoping to find some books on hoarding or materialism, but to no avail.  I looked on the ‘housekeeping / organization’ shelf first.  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.

thinkcash.tv

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.


Jun 12 2010

sports, borrowing & recycling [day 15 & 16]

I’m going to play racquetball this morning, and I just realized I’m down to one ball.  Last time I played, the ball split in half.  Now I’m quite sure this is not attributed to my incredible upper body strength, but because I left the ball in the excessive heat inside my car.  These little rubber balls only last a few months at best when you play frequently.  So.  Racquetballs are not groceries, nor are they toiletries.  I can’t buy any, and the chances of finding any at a thrift store is slim to none.  I cannot expect my racquetball partner to buy them just because I won’t.  But I did come up with a solution.  When my last ball ends up dying the same death as the previous one, the rec center lends racquets and balls, so I will use theirs.  The availability of those to be borrowed are included in my monthly gym fees.

Again, not really much else to report on the shopping front.  Right now, I’m not missing it, although at some point I’m sure I will.

Also, a quick update on the recycling program.  [day 14] I have received some emails about that being unethical and it has stirred up some controversy.   I am planning a personal field trip to the Frisco recycling center.  If indeed my plan is not right, I will modify it.  If you have thoughts on any of my ideas, tactics or implemented plans, good or bad, feel free to comment on my blog.  The people that sent the emails have good points and I do take them into consideration.  More later, off to play racquetball.  :)


Jun 5 2010

I rearranged my yard [day 10]

So I finally planted my Asian Jasmine (with my borrowed shovel) that I purchased before the challenge.  I had three empty containers, 2 in my backyard and 1 in the front, but the Asian Jasmine isn’t really made for container gardens.  It’s a ground cover that you can’t kill, because if you could, I would have already done it.  Now I can’t purchase plants, unless they grow food of some sort.  Instead of buying anything, I dug up some random Purple Heart plants and relocated them into the pots.

Now my yard doesn’t look like 1313 Mockingbird Lane anymore.  And, it cost me nothing.  Next year I hope to start a garden, maybe some small container gardens and grow some of my own food.  I now have spices growing in a pot in the backyard, not much, but it’s a start.  If you buy spices at Sprouts, they’re still in the dirt.  Slap it in a pot with more dirt and watch it grow.  I like spending $3.50 on food that keeps producing more food.  :)


Jun 3 2010

the challenge: day 8 [borrowing & community redefined]

I put the “community” plan into action yesterday.  I borrowed a small hand shovel from my neighbor instead of buying one.  Now I can plan my Asian Jasmine (which I bought almost two weeks ago) and clean up my yard.  I do plan to buy a few vegetable plants for some empty containers I have.  I have a small spice garden already, and guess what?  I haven’t killed anything yet!  And it’s not an imaginary garden!

If you would like to see another really awesome story about sharing and building community, read Ann’s comment to my day 3 & day 4 post.  AWESOME!

And Caron, thanks for letting me borrow your shovel.  Promise to have it back in a couple of days.  The nice thing about sharing with your neighbors?  We all know where everyone lives!  😉