Apr 7 2011

fast waste [day 315]

I love pretty much any condiment, mustard, ketchup, sour cream, grape jelly, salsa… you name it.  I’ve been referred to as the condiment queen.  This is a problem to me in the world of fast food.  There’s so much plastic and paper waste associated with it.  I looked up condiment packaging and found a few eco-friendly alternatives.  For me, this brings up a bigger question.  The word “ECO” is used a lot these days.  I’m glad people are coming up with eco-friendly options that are much better for the environment, but here’s my question.

Should we just be content with using products that are a little bit better for the environment or should we be trying to scale back our use of disposable products?

I’m trying to do both.  I’m not always successful as you can see in the photo, but those were given with my meal, not upon request, but just assumed I would eat them all.  I’ve cut way back on the fast food consumption over the past year.  Meals are supposed to be a time of fellowship and relaxation.  If my lifestyle needs fast food, I need to make some changes.

My ideas were validated a few days ago by the cost of fast food.  My 2 boys and I went to Sonic.  I’m usually all over the price shopping part of eating, but this day, I decided to let them order whatever they wanted.  They both ordered modestly, as did I.  Almost $18.00 spent and the kids were still hungry.  A few days later, we went to a sit-down restaurant.  This time it was me and the kids, but we brought a friend along as well.  Including ‘good’ food for all of us, one beer and one dessert, the total was around $35, including the tip.  There’s a price for all that packaging, not to mention the nutritional value of fast food.

Also, I’m not sure why, but the magic number of napkins seems to be 6.  Why do I need 6 napkins with a sandwich?  Do I look that messy?  If they give out 5 extra napkins per person, with an average customer count of 450 a day, that’s 2,250 napkins that go in a landfill.  And that’s just napkins.

I’m not saying I will never eat fast food again (although I’m leaning in that direction), but I will be doing it even less now.  I’m not saying you shouldn’t eat fast food either.  We should all be aware of the effects of it though.  There are times where the fast food meal is not a bad idea, but doing it regularly will cost you a lot of money, aid in destroying our earth and eventually will break your heart.


Apr 4 2011

mom!! the ice cream truck!! [day 312]

I have really come to hate the taunting music played from the ice cream truck, getting louder as it gets closer to my house.  As soon as I hear the fain sounds of it, I know what’s next.  Mom!!!!!  The ice cream truck!!!!!!  My kids know I’m not a fan of the van filled with overpriced, well advertised sugar products, stopping to fill the air with carbon monoxide and invading my territory.  While I was away and had a sitter, they went to the truck.  My youngest, knowing I would not be happy about this, decided to make something good out of it.  He decide to get something that was in a container we could reuse, and he also talked all his friends into doing the same.

We use these little containers in our lunch bags.  I did not end here.  The next time the ice cream truck came by, I said, “No.”  After much deliberation, I decided to have some fun with this.  I let him go out and get some ice cream from the truck.  I think I freaked out my neighbors, but here’s what happened…

 

 

I haven’t checked at Kroger yet to see if they carry Popsicle Shots, but I’ll be checking today.  I’m all about people making a living in creative ways, and the ice cream truck driver is a good way to make some money.  It’s like fast food that comes to your house with dessert.  I never buy this for my kids, I make them use their own money.  If they feel good about the purchase, then I’ll go with it.  I don’t always say yes to the ice cream truck, but I don’t always say no.  Balance.  It’s all about balance.

 


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


Jan 2 2011

let's move in together [day 220]

I went to the movies on Christmas day and saw the movie How Do You Know.  I don’t do chick-flicks and the way I ended up at this movie was a text message gone wrong.  It wasn’t horrible, but it’s really just not my type of movie.

While waiting for the movie to start, after the 15 minutes of commercials, there must have been no less than 10 previews for upcoming movies.  I guess they figure if you’re at a chick-flick / relationship type movie, that you want to know all the similar movies coming out soon.  Not so much, but hey, I’m not their target audience.  And that “don’t make your own soundtrack” commercial?  My soundtrack might have been better.

I guess sex sells, as this movie, the previews and even some of the commercials were all about it.  I think the question asked in title of the movie is asking, “how do you know if you’re in love?”  I have no answer for this, and not sure I ever will, but the way they’re showing relationships is not going to answer any such question.  Maybe they were asking something else.

I talk a lot on this blog about the excess in our society, and relationships seem to be no exception.  People are entertained by all kinds of sexual situations.  I was highly disturbed to see in Toy Story 3 that Ken, who just met Barbie 10 minutes earlier, asks her to move into his dreamhouse.  She said, “yes,” after getting the okay from Mrs. Potatohead.  Does anyone else see a problem with this?  This is not what I’m teaching my kids, but it is what they’re learning in our society.   Way to go Pixar. Continue reading


Dec 27 2010

A post Christmas story of be longing [flashback]

This was written 4 days after Christmas last year on my blog iembracechaos.com.

What is out of the ordinary?  Choosing to help others and live differently in a way that changes life as we know it.  My kids really didn’t seem all that bothered by the lack of gifts they got from me.   They still received the mandatory 27+ gifts from my mother, gifts they will never give a second thought to once they are put away.  They were both on board with the plan of donating money to their favorite charities, but I just wasn’t so sure come Christmas, they would still feel that way.  I was pleasantly surprised.  Christmas evening, after the kids came home, we rented a few movies and enjoyed some time together.  After all, I had not seen them for almost a week.

Yesterday we ventured into the stores, only for the purpose of grocery shopping and finding a small rug for my closet floor.  No store was exempt from the typical long return lines and post-holiday sale events.  Seriously, I couldn’t get out of there fast enough.

I decided yesterday to clean out my closet and get rid of the mountain of unused linens.  Why do I feel the need to hang on to stuff that I will never use again?  I made the compulsory closet purge, filled up the Infiniti sleigh and headed for the thrift store.

After unloading our surplus of worldly possessions, we went treasure hunting.  No, not shopping, treasure hunting.  Shopping is buying overpriced new ‘goods’ at large chain stores.  Treasure hunting is finding something special, previously owned by someone else at a price that doesn’t break the bank.  My kids quickly made their way to the toy section, disappointed that it was mostly baby toys.  I headed for the crowded book area, my kids not far behind.

I found a Man Ray photography book for 50 cents, which in the bookstore, was probably closer to $50.  Man Ray is one of my photography inspirations, mostly for photograms.  My photogram ‘Coffee Addict’ is one of my favorites… not that I have coffee issues or anything like that.

Cole found a Star Wars picture book, which he kept directly in front of his face in the entire time we were there, miraculously not walking into anyone or anything.

As we were making our way toward the front of the store, I stopped to see if there were any jeans or sweatshirts for the boys.  I guess everyone has been doing their Christmas purge, as the racks had three times the amount they usually do.  I found this t-shirt that pretty much sums up what society is teaching our kids.  “WARNING: allergic to lame gifts.”  I wanted to buy the shirt just so I could destroy it and take it out of the clothing circulation.  I would have saved the small candy cane skull icon though, as it seems appropriate to use as a symbol of our cultural Christmas consumerism.   Continue reading


Sep 9 2010

flashback [day 106]

Flashback.

As a child I was taught to buy a lot of stuff we didn’t need and saving money was not mentioned at all.  My parents always had new cars, with car payments, and the justification?  Buying a used car was buying someone else’s problems, although I don’t understand why they needed a new one every year, or less.  Christmas was always way overdone, almost all of the gifts were mine, as I was an only child.

As a teenager, we didn’t have a lot of money, however we lived in a tiny house in an affluent area.  I didn’t have the huge wardrobe of name-brand clothing with Izod alligators chomping at Gloria Vanderbilt jeans.  Yeah, I know,  I’m old.  When I turned 18, I got my first credit card from Dillard’s department store.  I’m pretty sure it was less than a month before I had it up to the limit.

As a young adult, I wasted lots of money of stuff I didn’t need.  I was just going along with the rest of society.  Not that I was ever great at maintaining finances or my credit ratings, my ex-husband was a con artist and really messed up my credit.  I think it was then that I learned quickly to live within my means.  Progressively I decided to shop differently and live differently.

Fast forward.

I ended up being a financial analyst for many years, yes, I said financial analyst.  Go ahead, laugh, it is kind of funny.  :)  I guess I have an ambidextrous brain?  If I had debt, I always had a plan to pay it off quickly.  Large purchases were never made without really thinking about them a lot before the actual purchase.  I spend money more like a guy.  I have a huge problem buying a sweater for $32, but it’s no problem to spend $600 on a large plasma television.  I do struggle now with those large purchases, always wondering what better things I could have done with the money.  Again, I progressively started changing from some debt to no debt and from no saving to saving.

Now.

Anyway, this whole thing has been a process of going from spoiled only child to responsible adult, maybe a bit overboard as some think.  I don’t miss shopping much at all.  There are a few times when I want to go buy something, but mostly now it’s things I need.  All in all, I’m glad I’m doing the challenge.  I hope to learn a lot more and come out of this with better ways to live.


Jun 5 2010

the challenge: day 9 [grilling, propane, outdoor movies, teaching man to fish]

I decided to grill out tonight and was wondering if I was going to need a new propane tank. Since that is energy to cook with, and they sell the tank refills at the grocery store, I have decided this will be okay. I did ponder the fact that it’s not a necessity, as I could cook inside. I also thought that cooking outside versus inside saves on utilities since all of the hot cooking would make the air conditioning run more. Anyway, I’m up for your thoughts on this.

We also went to the outdoor movie in downtown Frisco last night and it was some nice family time. They put up the big inflatable screen and hundreds went to watch Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. I kept thinking I need to bring a small version of this to some apartment complexes in Frisco where the kids can’t go downtown, as their parents are working or they don’t have the transportation.

I also want to post my response to a comment left on the future of shopping post. This is from Ozz…

Well lets see….The US is a CONSUMER based economy it is no surprise that companies attempt to make shopping an easier afair. I think it’s kinda cool but I hate dressing rooms. Just think of the jobs from wiring the stores for this, the dock workers taking the shipments of plasma screens, the software support (ok probably really good for India but ya never know)….etc.

Why some of these impoverished people might get a job due to this, then they can buy the clothes. What a concept instead of handing out…train. It is better to show a man how to fish than to just give him fish.

~Ozz~

My response. (Feel free to start a discussion here)

Although I agree with your statement of teaching man how to fish, I don’t feel that this shopping direction is a positive one. This seems to me like another step in making the rich richer and the poor poorer. Our consumer based economy teaches us and our kids that more is better, success is defined by money and happiness will be yours if you buy things that make life easier and more comfortable.

I have become uncomfortable with my comfort. I don’t expect everyone to follow me in that (okay, so I hope some do), but I hope as a society that we can make some positive changes. Like bridging ‘the gap’ between rich people and poor people. ‘Target’ing new ways to build community and thinking outside ourselves, while not building more ‘wal’s to protect ourselves from people we don’t know or understand.

One last thing. There are many types of homelessness and poverty. When I go visit friends (I don’t see these as mission trips anymore), and I see a cute little kid helping me work on painting an apartment so they have a place to meet with others, or maybe a child in Mexico that doesn’t have enough to eat, they just want to feel loved and have their basic needs met. Yes, there are many people who have chosen homelessness as a way of life and I’m sure there are many lazy people our there that don’t want to work and instead ‘work’ the system. But there are many out there that don’t have a choice and they need justice, people who care and are willing to get off their butts and do something about it.

Too lazy to try on clothing or too lazy to work? I’m not the one to judge that, although I have many opinions… (I know, we’re all surprised by that!) My point with this whole shopping thing is that I’m not going to be lazy with this. If it takes a little extra effort to buy necessities that are not excessive, not made in sweatshops and better for the environment, then that’s what I’m going to do. Small change can equal big change.

Ozz, I love a devil’s advocate perspective and you know I greatly appreciate your views! Keep them coming.


Jun 4 2010

the future of shopping… really?

Take a look at this video:  The Future of Shopping.

If this is the future of shopping in America, it’s another ring in the downward spiral of our financial culture and a step toward another depression era.  Thoughts?

If we must do this, and it does look a little bit fun, how about putting some impoverished people on the screens and buy them some clothing?  Oh… the uses I could find for this technology!  The price markup on clothing is so high as it is, imagine what the prices will be when you add in giant plasma screens, super computers with fancy software, video cameras, wireless routers, maintenance fees and electricity?  Because we are too lazy to try on some clothes that we don’t need?

“Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months.” — Oscar Wilde


May 27 2010

the challenge [day 1]

Day one of any long time period challenge is more of a normal time than a reality check of the radical decision you just committed to.  I decided to do this challenge very early in the morning, which is the time my monkeys are the most active.  Yeah, I should probably explain that.  My boyfriend Steve says my thoughts are like a bunch of monkeys next to a banana tree, so we frequently refer to the monkeys in my head.  Monkeys are fun and cute, so we’ll go with it.

So I had breakfast with my kids and decided to tell them the news!  We will not be shopping retail for a year.  No new toys, no new video games, no new clothes.  After the silence, then denial, they reluctantly agreed that it was a good plan, although they thought a year was a bit excessive.  Well, with all the excess in our society, why not add a little more excess?  LOL

The ironic thing here is that I still have to shop sometimes for work, and this being the first day of the challenge, I had to go to Ikea for stage set stuff.  I had an Ikea gift card for $50 in my wallet, just to complicate things.  So off I went to shop, placing the stage items in the cart, along with a few things that I could buy with the gift card.  Well, as we all justify the stuff we absolutely need, my justification here was that I should use up the gift card since it probably will get lost or decrease in value over a year.  As I was about to check out, I put the stuff back.  I don’t NEED it and I’m not even sure I WANT it.  I was there, I had ‘Ikea’ money and everyone needs more stuff, right?  I still have the gift card and plan to give it to someone I know that is getting his first apartment and actually has a few basic needs.

I told a few people about my plans, or my challenge.  A few people thought it was a good idea and were not surprised.  (They obviously know me well and there’s not many things I can do to surprise anyone)  Others said it was cool, but they could never do it.  Let me just say here that I like to shop, but not like most people.  I hate malls and I hate spending money.  I like material things though.  There.  I said it.  I have an internal struggle with wanting simple and less fighting with a desire for more.  I was raised in a very materialistic house.  I have to call it a house, not a home, because a much higher value was placed on the material things in the house, not the people living in it.

I suppose I’m doing this to prove to myself that I don’t need a lot of stuff.  I’m also doing this for my kids to teach them about another world, a crazy different world that exists outside this wealthy, affluent bubble we live in.  A world where poverty and hunger exist because 20% of the world has 80% of the stuff, including food and water.  As Gandhi said, “There’s enough for everyone’s need, but there is not enough for everyone’s greed.”

This challenge is a very small step.  I know I have a long way to go here, but if everyone just made some really small sacrifice, our world would change in a radically wonderful way.  The monkeys are still processing all of this, along with my kids.  Off to day 2…


Jan 10 2010

excessable christmas

Excessable Christmas is a recent self-published book from blogging the 25 days of Christmas on iembracechaos.com.  This book highlights the excess in our society and the Christmas consumerism, with a quirky twist.  You can preview and or purchase this book at Blurb.  All proceeds will go to Casa Hogar Elim orphanage in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico.  I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it!  :)