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 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 31 2011

cost analysis, kid style [day 309]

My youngest son came home with this a few weeks ago.

I’m not sure why he decided to draw this, but I’m glad he gets it.  Joe likes money and likes to spend money, but he also lives in the real world.  He’s 10 years old and somewhat budgets his money, that is, enough budgeting to get what he wants to buy.  He talks about buying stuff all the time, but he’s selective when it comes to actually making a purchase.

My oldest talked about an idea he had for an environmentally friendly missile.  While we were sitting in our think tank (hot tub), Cole spent almost 15 minutes telling me about his missile design.  It’s a missile that puts out an environmentally friendly gas that temporarily paralyzes people, allowing the police to ‘go in’ and get the bad guys, place them in prisons, and when the gas wears off, nobody is harmed in the process.  Here’s the blueprints.

Here’s the best part.  Yesterday, he did a cost analysis and figured out was his profit margin will be.  ??!!??!  How does he know how to do this?  He’s eleven years old.  I’ve talked about cost analysis stuff, but I’ve never shown him the process on paper.  Take a look.

Not only did he think of the labor costs, but when Joe talked to him about advertising, he adjusted the analysis accordingly.  I’m guessing Joe’s ad plan for him was to advertise during the Super Bowl.  If my two radically different kids partner together in the future, using their gifts to collaborate for good, they’ll do great things.  Yes, I’m the proud parent today.  :)


Mar 28 2011

the affects of effects [day 306]

It starts when we’re born.  Accessories.  “My daddy is the best” and “My mom is better than your mom” on our shirts, iconic pacifiers, hair bows in more styles and colors than Baskin Robbins has flavors, complete ensembles of coordinated clothing, all in large quantities.  When did babies become fashion statements?  Aren’t they cute enough already?  I see a lot of people talking to parents with small babies and hearing more compliments about the clothing than the kid wearing them.

It continues through adolescence, expanding to toys and games.  I have boys (thank you God) that don’t care much about fashion and will probably need future therapy for their lack of stylish clothing options.  They do however have accessories.  They have Nintendo DS’s that have lots of games, a universal charger, a fancy light sabre stylus and headphones, all packed inside a custom case.  Society says, “You need more” and we respond by buying more.

Into adulthood now, and I’m not exempt from this.  I might not have a lot of fancy, trendy clothing but I do have some nice things in my house.  Most from eBay, craigslist and thrift stores, but nevertheless, lots of things.  Accessories.  I have decorative things that serve no purpose other than to sit there and look nice.  Now I’m an artist of sorts, so this is an important topic.  I love to create things, but with a purpose.  Much of my art is chaotic, but has meaning and purpose behind it.  The vase sitting on my shelf, not so much.  I’ve been sucked into the American vortex of more is better.  I created this photograph several years ago.  This has many meaning for many people, but I see it as how we become background fixtures in the sea of stuff we own.

Continue reading


Mar 28 2011

mental gymnastics [day 305]

Buy one, purge one.

I’ve been practicing my “buy one, purge one” philosophy and it’s going well.  I was hoping to photograph all of the items, however that would take a lot of time.  I am doing it though.  I don’t shop near as much as I used to.  Even though I purchased things from a thrift store, it was still buying a lot of junk I didn’t need.  Now I’m much more selective and I buy much less, especially knowing I will have to get rid of something every time I buy something.  It’s a good plan and it’s not been a struggle at all.

I bought 2 pairs of shoes, a pair of jeans and a pair of swim trunks at the thrift store a few weeks ago.  I needed a pair of dress shoes that were comfortable.  I found just the right pair and I bought another pair that were on sale for $2.00.  I came home and got rid of 2 pairs of shoes.  The jeans, girl’s size 16, fit me, but a little snug.  I bought them with the intention of wearing them if I could, but if not, using them to repair some of my other jeans.  The boys needed a pair of swim trunks, as they’ve been fighting over the one pair they have.  I actually got rid of a lot of clothing, not just 2 pieces.  I’ll be blogging that soon.

Just a few days ago, I bought some throw pillows for my patio swing.  I’ve been wanting some because I love the swing this time of year and I like to lay on it and read.  Considering I got the swing for free from a friend and the cushions free from a dumpster, spending a few bucks at a thrift store on pillows seemed okay.  They’re the same fabric as my patio chairs and are from Pottery Barn, so they cost someone a lot of money.  I plan to dye or paint the unbleached cotton cushions.  So what am I getting rid of?  My colorful tile pot (that’s broken), some of my solar lights (a few that don’t work) and the shiny rocks (that are serving no purpose whatsoever).

Buy one, purge one is not difficult.  It’s a good feeling to know I’m not going to be accumulating more stuff when I do shop and it makes me walk away from many things I would have purchased with my old shopping habits.

Snap one, show one.

I started a quirky little habit.  I take photos of the things I considered buying, but chose not to.  I snap a photo and I show it here on my blog.  Here’s a couple of pics.  To the left are 4 square glass tables.  I thought these would be nice for my patio.  Mental gymnastics:

  • What would I get rid of?
  • Do I want to clean these?
  • Will I maintain the plants I want to put on them?
  • Where will I get the plants?  The pots?
  • Are these made for outdoor use?
  • Do I really want to spend $70?

I thought about all of that in less than a minute and easily decided against them.  Next was 2 latte mugs, the polka dot one and the orange rimmed one.  It’s rare to find oversized mugs.  Here we go again.  More mental gymnastics for he sake of consumerism.

  • Do I like these mugs?
  • Do I need these mugs?
  • What will I get rid of?
  • Do I need more dishes to wash?
  • How many cups can I use at one time?
  • How do these fit into my minimalist approach to downsizing?
  • Do they coordinate with my mismatched collection?
  • Do I really want to spend money on these?

Again, in less than a minute, I walked away from these.  I like the new habits.  They aren’t painful at all.  I haven’t quit shopping, but I’m spending my money less frequently and more wisely.  Time to kick it up another notch?  Probably so.


Mar 19 2011

no retail shopping faq’s [day 296]

Since I’m moving toward the end of this challenge, I’ve been hearing a lot of questions.  Time for a quick FAQ’s update.  I’m going to write the answers to some of these questions in tweetable segments.

Wow.  I could never do no retail shopping.  How are you doing it?

NO RETAIL SHOPPING motivation & benefits outweigh discomfort & inconvenience. #ilovetheresults #saved$ #+time #lessstress #trashsociety

Are you going to do a big shopping spree on the day you can shop again?

NO, no shopping spree. http://trashsociety.com NO retail shopping #1year #minimalism #happy #lessstuff

Is there anything you would buy new right now if you could?

a $3 part to fix a light switch. #similarsmallitems #notavailablenew http://trashsociety.com

possibly a pair of TOMS shoes. http://wp.me/p1jNEP-Fx #oneforone #toms #good

Are you going to write a book after you finish this?

Yes. #yes http://trashsociety.com #unlessGodhasabiggerplan #book #ebooks

You’re radical.  Do you really expect others to do this?

not in the radical way as I am. many r participating on smaller levels w/ HUGE RESULTS. http://trashsociety.com #goodintheworld

How does this work with food?  Do you eat used food?

yes, I eat used food. SERIOUSLY? no, I don’t eat used food. #newfood #shopwithbetterchoices #startingagarden

I still don’t get it.

TRY IT on a small scale. #try1tinything #1smallchange #thentalktome http://trashsociety.com

These are some of the most popular questions, and at some point, I should list some of the responses I get.  I’ve had people tell me everything from it takes way too much time to do these things and I don’t care to the economy will collapse if everyone does this and nobody cares.  I don’t think I can single-handedly collapse the economy and if nobody cared I wouldn’t have a huge number of people reading my blog.  Yes, I’m radical, but through my radicalness, I’m trying to make a point that people can do some small things that will benefit them and the rest of the world.  Many thanks to all who read this stuff and make a few small changes along the way.  :)


Mar 17 2011

the one for one model [day 295]

Blake Mycoskie, the founder of TOMS shoes, was a keynote speaker this year at SXSW.  Not only was it incredible to hear his story, but just to hear the magnitude of positive change his company has created in the world.  Here’s the best part.  Blake made this statement at the end of his talk.

“From this day forward, TOMS is no longer a shoe company. It’s a one-for-one company.  Our next step is meeting those needs around the world.”

Yes, TOMS is now a one-for-one company.  In June, they’re launching their next product.  You buy one, somebody in need gets one.  It’s a for profit model, and an extremely successful one.  I have to say here that I would love to go out and buy a pair of TOMS shoes.  With my one year of no retail shopping, unfortunately that’s not an option.  If I buy them used, a person in need will not get a new pair of shoes, however, even in the secondary market, good can still be done.

  • If I get them at a thrift store, that money goes to charity.
  • If I wear them, I’m marketing TOMS and this one-for-one model.
  • If I buy them used, paying less than retail, I’ve saved money that I can donate to one of my favorite charities.

How else can we apply the 1-for-1 model?

I’ve been pondering this question for a few days now.  I don’t know how anyone can hear the TOMS story and not wonder how we can all be a part of it.  TOMS is obviously onto something here.  I have a few ideas of how this could be applied in other ways to benefit TOMorrow.   Continue reading


Mar 14 2011

I didn’t buy it, but I wanted to [day 292]

I met Guy Kawasaki yesterday at a book signing.  Not only is he an extremely talented communicator and writer, he’s just a really nice person.  Just look on Twitter, hashtag #guykawasaki, and you’ll see what I mean.  Now I’ve been thinking, it’s kind of odd to go to a book signing without a book.  Knowing that he would be at SXSW, I decided to go to the used book store to find his new book.  I knew my chances were slim to none on finding his new book Enchantment, but I thought maybe I could find one of his older books.  I’ve been following Guy for a long time on friendfeed and he always has great stuff out there.

I had to go to a few locations before I found one of his books.  I found The Art of the Start. I bought it and I was happy that I would have a book for him to sign, although I wondered what I would say to him as I asked him to sign my not-so-new book with a red half price sticker on the front.

Yesterday, I found myself in a long line of people to have my book signed.  It’s pretty safe to say that I was the only weirdo in line without a fresh-off-the-press copy of Enchantment.  Soon, it was my turn.  I proceeded to the table and quickly explained my story.  “I’m doing a year of no retail shopping, so I can’t buy your new book, even though I really want to.  I bought a used copy of one of your older books, so could you sign this one?”  First, he laughed a bit and said he wouldn’t last a week without shopping.  Then he asked where I got the book.  I told him I bought it at a used book store and showed him the bright red price tag on the front.  He then proceeded to tell me that The Art of the Start never came out in paperback.  Mine is a paperback.  Either it’s a illegitimate copy or an unmarked advanced reading copy, intended for bookstores.  Either way, he said that was the best reason he’s ever heard from anyone as to why they’re not buying his book.

He signed my book and he even allowed me to have a photo taken with him.  I have to say, if there were more people in the world like Guy, the world would be a noticeably better place.  I plan to buy his new book and I found 3 used copies on amazon.com.  If anyone should teach us about enchantment, it should be someone that understands it and lives that way.  Guy seems to get it.

If you’re interested in his new book, here’s the amazon link.  There’s 2 used ones left, the 3rd one is mine, so leave it there.  😉

Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds and Actions

I had the opportunity to just buy a new copy of his book, and I wanted to, but I didn’t.  I might be waiting a little longer to read his amazing book (prejudged from his awesome session at SXSW), but it goes to show that with a little pre-planning, you can have what you want while saving money and being good to the environment.  Thanks Guy!


Mar 8 2011

hoarders on craigslist [day 285]

My friend was garage sale-ing and ran across an estate sale from a hoarder house, listed on craigslist.  I had to work Saturday and Sunday, but decided to check it out after work on Sunday.  Unfortunately they had closed up shop but I snapped a few photos while making a few observations.

As we drove up, the obvious signs were the furniture pieces in the front yard.  The front door area was cluttered, and after several knocking attempts, I decided to peer into the window.  Yes, we were at the right house, as one of the windows was blocked with a large shelving unit and the other window being a small display of a very large mess.  I’m not sure how people walked around in there to shop for treasures, but I guess if you’re determined enough, you’ll find a way.

Thinking maybe they have something going on in the back of the house, we walked around to the alley of this corner lot home.  The house itself, probably circa 1950’s, was large and looked nice, yet unkempt.  As we got to the back, we realized they were probably done with the sale.  The driveway was completely clear of any junk or trash.

Disappointed, as we drove almost 20 miles to see this, I thought about how many people must go through this is there are indeed 3 million hoarders in the United States.  (statistic provided by the TV show Hoarders)  As we were leaving, the mailbox made me laugh.  Yes, I know, I have a weird, off-beat sense of humor.

Border – hoarder.  It rhymes.  I don’t know why that’s funny, but it just is.

I decided to look up the word “hoarder” on craigslist just to see how many different listings I could find.  I did this search in all 50 states from at least one city.  I found some interesting listings and I’ll share a few with you.  I’ve shortened these a bit, but tried to keep in all the good parts.  Some were really long.  I’ve also highlighted a few interesting things.

HOARDER SEEKS SWAP MEET AND THRIFT STORE OWNERS.

Having a garage sale in my backyard, by appointment only. I have a 32 year accumulation of personally handpicked items. The prices to the public are $1.00, $2.00 and $3.00; with other items ranging over $100.00. THERE ARE NO BURIED TREAUSURES HERE! No furniture, no gold or jewelry. The items are mostly “GUY STUFF”. I know the value of these items, same as you. However I am attempting to offer them to you, at a price where you can make a profit and come back as a repeat customer.
I am offering “YOU’S” an opportunity to cherry pick my estimated inventory of 2,000 pieces [which represents about 20% of all the items needed to be eliminated]. If you like something, you offer me a price, based upon what you think you can sell it for. This eliminates the potential of you having to buy any junk mixed in. FYI, there is no junk, just items you can or can not sell to your customers.

THIS IS NOT A FUND RAISER. I just simply do not understand the value in having such a ridiculous accumulation; causing me to store and periodically to reorganize it. Candidly, despite knowing that I have an item, I seldom can ever really find it in a timely manner.

Predictively the average swamp meeter will have no problem scooping up $500.00 worth of merchandise for their inventories.

Confessions of a potential hoarder..Big Back Yard Sale – $1

We have all seen the show, I opened my storage unit the other day and said I won’t go down that road :^)  Continue reading


Feb 28 2011

leave the light on, but also leave the coffee pot [day 278]

My friend Lauren posted this photo on her Facebook page last month.  It’s her dead Mr. Coffee machine.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many comments on a photo before.  This very basic coffee machine lasted 10 years.  Now that’s impressive.  I found the comments interesting, and there’s a lot to learn here.  Here’s most of the comments feed.  No names though, as I must protect the identity of the world’s coffee addicts.  😉

Get a Keurig….you will love it! Fast, easy and very little clean up!!

I’m laughing right now! RIP Mr. Coffee Maker!

Bahl Oh oh oh!! I have a one cup coffe maker (Senso) if you’re interested in it. I don’t use it any more…

So funny – I have a Krups that I know has to be 14 years old and I ask myself everyday how long it will last. It is a 4 cup one and I love it! RIP little coffee maker….

Get yourself a Keurig – We got one for Christmas – love it. Mostly b/c Scott is the coffee drink and I love iced tea (yes, it makes that), cider and hot chocolate. We can make it one right after the other and there’s no aftertaste from the previous drink. Can you tell we love it?!

Aw…

I am so sorry for your loss. Poor guy rest in peace

It is a sad day when the coffee pot goes – we got a new Brew Station, but I kept the old one just in case.

I’m looking at that more closely now…did you steel that from a motel?? rofl

Wow! I think you got your moneys worth out of that one ; ) lol

Cuisinsrt Keurig! It does hot and cold coffee/tea!!! But, be warned… You will drink way more coffee…it’s just that good! (get the Donut House variety pack too!)

That does look like a hotel special

I LOVE my Keurig!!! LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!!!!

Bahl SEE!!!! lmao…

That’s a great life! Get a Pasquini or anything that doesn’t use lots of tiny plastic cups to add to our landfills…

Motel 6 Leave the light on but also leave the cofee pot

Funny how we were all just talking coffee pots at church! I want a Keurig too, but can’t justify it with my handy dandy Cuisinart Grind and Brew.

I would say you got your money’s worth! And I think it is exciting ……there are so many cool coffee makers out there!!

Just got a Kureg (sp?) and I love, love, love it. Never really drank coffee much and now I am an addicted, shaking, nervous wreck, drinker now!!! Hee!

I want a Keurig too but mine is still going strong…..so I wait. Hopefully when mine goes a Keurig will be $20.00! I hope I don’t have to wait 9 years!

I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your old friend! I have a spare Senseo (single cup coffee maker, kinda like Keurig) that you are welcome to. I LOVE love love mine… comes with an eco-friendly reusable pod thingy that you can fill with your favorite coffee – so no buying special things to go in it.

Those are great, I’ve used them before. I got my friend a Keurig machine at the thrift store for $4.99. :)

my spare Senseo came from freecycle, in like-new condition! :)

Awesome!!! I just got a modern lamp on freecycle this morning. If you’re not in a hurry, it’s great. Lauren, just “borrow” another machine from the motel until we can find you an environmentally friendly, free machine. LOL

Can I use this pic on my blog? :)

I am cracking up! Never dreamed this photo would warrant so many comments…ha! It was a faithful appliance… Before I saw all these comments and recommendations I was out last night and got another little 4 cupper…not fancy, but functional…and sad to say–I believe it looks even MORE like it came from a Motel 6 b/c it’s black. :) Will post a pic.

First of all, kudos to Lauren for using this little guy until its death.  She could have easily upgraded since there are many coffee brewers on the market now.  This good guy, Mr. Coffee, is not sleek looking, he doesn’t have any fancy features, he doesn’t accept any plastic pods and he certainly doesn’t look high tech sitting on your kitchen counter.  Mr. Coffee does however brew a good pot of coffee.  He does his job, he does it well, just without all the fancy bells and whistles.  Mr. Coffee is a simple guy, dependable, not complicated like some of his current friends.  Too bad Mr. Coffee is dead because I might date him.

It’s funny how we all responded to this, imposing our favorite coffee maker info and suggestions.  How is Lauren to decide?  It seems like the Keurig has a lot of votes.  If she’s looking for longevity, this is not it.  I’ve never seen one of these that lasted more than a couple of years, and with a price tag of $150, that’s not a good return on investment.  I can honestly say, every one I have ever touched is either dead now or on its way.  And to spare you the soapbox talk, let me just say all those plastic cups are not good for the environment, and probably not our health either.  The Keurig is like a flashy movie star.  They look good on TV, but would you really want to live with them?

The Senseo machine still has the ease of the pods, but not plastic ones, and the machines last a long time.  It looks as though he’ll bend over backwards (or forward) to make you a good cup of coffee.  Less expensive too.  This guy looks good, probably works out regularly and I bet he would go dumpster diving with me.  I can tell he’s into art too.

Krups and Cuisinart were also mentioned, but I don’t know much about those.  I’m the one that made the Pasquini comment.  You can read my cost analysis and purchase info on that, as it was a tough, yet easy decision.

So what did Lauren buy?

Another simple Mr. Coffee.  We can learn a lot from Lauren.  I didn’t get all of the details on how she arrived at this decision, but it’s a good one.  Oh, the paradox of choice.  So much to choose from, yet sometimes the best choice is simplicity.  :)