Jan 26 2011

recycle freecycle [day 246]

Freeycycle is the modern day dumpster diving, without having to touch a dumpster or trash can.  From the freecycle site: It’s a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It’s all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills. Each local group is moderated by local volunteers (them’s good people). Membership is free. To sign up, find your community by entering it into the search box above or by clicking on ‘Browse Groups’ above the search box. Have fun!

I had my first free items from freecycle.org a couple of weeks ago.  Three empty 5-gallon paint buckets from Home Depot.  I really needed just one, but the others will come in handy too, as I need to get rid of most of the paint I’ve been hoarding for years.

A few days ago, I got 3 lamps from freecycle.  One of them being a really cool, ultra-modern lamp, but needing repair to the on/off switch.  I haven’t repaired the lamp yet, but I can use the electrical from one of the other lamps that was missing a shade.  This lamp was not cheap and is probably the nicest lamp I own now.  The other small lamp, also missing a shade, will be my new energy efficient light in the nook on my staircase.  I ran electrical to that a couple of months ago since there was electrical in the closet underneath the stairs.

I’ve also gotten rid of things that I don’t need anymore.  Clutter is not my friend, so this made it easy.  I had some fence boards that I had no place to store.  Someone on freecycle was getting as many fence pieces as possible so he could build a new fence.  Smart dude, as he probably saved $5k and kept a lot of wood out of the landfill.   Continue reading


Jan 16 2011

light bulb! an idea or just simply for light [day 234]

My friend that had the flood finally got to move back into her house yesterday.  As I was helping, I noticed the old bathroom light fixture sitting in the trash, with all of the old light bulbs still in it.  With the challenge, I can’t buy light bulbs, so I gladly unscrewed them all, placed them in an unwanted pink basket and brought them home.  I have 2 lamps that need bulbs.

I want to switch my bulbs over to the compact fluorescent energy saving bulbs, but that requires purchasing them.  It’s great to do this, but throwing away good bulbs seems like a bad idea to me.  I plan to switch them out as they burn out, as they are better for the environment and they use 25% of the energy of standard incandescent bulbs.

I decided to count the number of bulbs and the types that I have in my house.  Here’s the analysis.  (Whatever, it only took 5 minutes)

  • Incandescent – 43
  • Compact Fluorescent – 23
  • LED – 13
  • Halogen – 24
  • Low Watt – 8
  • Fluorescent tubes – 2

Dang!  I have a lot of lights in my house!  Only 41% of my lighting is energy efficient.  Using an energy star calculator, replacing all of the non-energy efficient bulbs in my house would cost just under $500, retail price.  The halogens would pay for themselves in 1 year in energy savings.  The incandescents will pay for themselves in 14 months.  So the big question is, do you replace them right away or do you replace them as they burn out?  Or some people might even be wondering if they should replace them at all?  What are the pros and cons here?  Let’s put these bulbs head to head and see what makes the most sense.

Pros: switching to energy efficient lighting

  • Saves money on your energy consumption. Up to 75% savings on CF’s and 90% on LED’s.
  • Much better for the environment. LED’s have no toxic materials in them and require no special disposal procedures.  CF’s help prevent the greenhouse effect and global warming.
  • Lamp life. LED’s last ten’s of thousands of hours, CF’s last approximately 6,000-15,000 hours, incandescents last approximately 750-1,250 hours, halogens last approximately 2,000 hours.  The life span of energy efficient bulbs are substantially longer than the non-energy efficient bulbs.  This makes the initial higher cost of the bulb a good value.
  • Costs. When factoring the bulb costs and the energy costs together, these save a lot of money in the long run.

Cons: switching to energy efficient lighting

  • The bulbs cost a lot more to purchase. The purchase price is higher, usually 2 to 5 times more.  The upfront cost is more, although the long term savings should be taken into consideration.
  • Lights on. CF’s take time to “warm up” and the light gets to it’s full brightness in about a minute.  For some people this is an issue, but I’ve gotten used to it.  It’s actually nice in the morning when you first wake up not to have bright lights in your face.
  • Lighting ambiance. LED’s light lacks in brightness and because of the light temperature, has a bluish hue to them.  Incandescents have a warm, yellow light.  Incandescents also have directional capabilities that the others don’t have, which is why you see a lot of halogen fixtures in stores and restaurants.  Lots of progress is being made with the energy efficient bulbs in this respect.
  • Disposal. Disposal of CF bulbs is tricky, as they contain a small amount of mercury.

For me, the pros outweigh the cons.  I will continue to replace the bulbs as they burn out with energy efficient bulbs when I can.  When the shopping challenge is over, I’ll consider replacing a portion of these that are in fixtures I use frequently.  Some of the accent lighting fixtures I don’t use often can wait.

Disposal and recycling issues. The recycling and disposal of the CF’s is still not easy.  (Jason, better late than never on this post)  Although there are many recycling programs, there aren’t many drop off places and the city recycling program doesn’t pick these up from your house.  It’s just not easy to dispose of these bulbs right now.  There are, however, two major retailers that participate in the recycling and disposal of these bulbs.  They are The Home Depot and Ikea.  Yes, it’s a little bit of work to save your bulbs and take them to the store, but you can plan it with a needed trip to that store.  Get together with you neighbors and take turns making a “bulb disposal run” each month.   Given the life span of these bulbs, it’s not a huge time sacrifice, and given the size of them, it’s not much of a space sacrifice either.  :)


Nov 24 2010

move it Ralph! this shelf is mine! love, Martha [day 182]

I had to shop yesterday for work, and I know now why I don’t shop.  Getting new stuff can be good, but the shopping process just isn’t fun.  I had to go to Home Depot, which is basically a toy store for me.  If I was shopping, that would be in my top 5.

Finding specific paint colors by numbers is no easy task.  While they were mixing the paint, I was helping my friend Shannon pick out paint colors for her house.  I immediately started looking for the Ralph Lauren paint chips, as I like the color selection and the paint covers well.  I looked around and quickly realized that Ralph has left the building, as Martha Stewart stood over my shoulder with a smug look on her face.  She has shoved Ralph out of the way to make room for her collection of more feminine, more subdued colors.

I asked the guy behind the paint counter about this observation.  He told me that Ralph is gone, replaced by Martha because she’s more popular and has a larger market share.  I didn’t buy RL paint because of the name, I bought it because I liked the color selection and the quality.  Do people choose paint because of a name?  Is there something symbolic about it?  Once it’s on the wall, does anyone care who made it?

What do the cans say?  Besides saying these are all great quality and they cause cancer, but only in California?  Martha’s paint has a ribbon around it with the words “color performance”, although I think the ribbon is a subliminal message that says, “I won.  Ralph is outta here.”  Ralph’s paint is the American icon of paint.  The design says traditional, the color pallet says traditional with good taste.  So I thought I’ll have my own paint line.  Jody’s paint is leftovers from her painting jobs and everyone else’s, excluding beige.  Jody’s paint peacefully sits in your garage, waiting for a touch up or a new painting project, but never trying to pull market share from other paint companies.  Can’t we all just get along?   Continue reading


Aug 6 2010

off to mexico [day 70 & 71]

I’m so looking forward to my mission trip to Mexico in a few days.  I’m going to Casa Hoagr Elim again, and it’s always an amazing experience.  It got me thinking about my no shopping challenge.

When I go shopping in Nuevo Laredo, it’s always for groceries and supplies for CHE.  Although they do have a lot of the major retailers there, we shop at the Soriana.  It’s similar to a Kmart I guess, but the bakery is awesome!  I’ve been to the WalMart and Home Depot down there too, but they’re quite a drive and stuff costs a lot.  The Home Depot does give out free paint brushes when you buy paint and you gotta love that!  All we get here are some free stir sticks.

Retail is very different in Mexico, yet has many similarities.  I thought you might enjoy a photo tour of commerce in Nuevo Laredo.

I didn’t see Mary Kay, but this Avon ad was on the electric meter outside a house.

There’s some interesting products down there that I haven’t seen here.  This is Gorilla Snot hair gel.  Yes, I bought some last year and my kids love it because they can tell other kids they have gorilla snot in their hair.  Holds really well too.  Maybe I’ll use this on my dreads next time.

This is like our 7-11, although my ‘friends’ told me this was the porn place.  Yes, I fell for it momentarily.

This is the side of a store front in the colinas, and area where there’s no electricity or running water.

I haven’t ever stopped here, but I love the roofing material.  Old printed tarps from billboards.  How cool is that?

I love going down to Mexico.  More on this after my trip.  :)