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. 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

possibly a pair of TOMS shoes. #oneforone #toms #good

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

Yes. #yes #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. #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

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

Jul 22 2010

what if nobody bought new stuff? [day 56]

“What if nobody bought new stuff?  What would happen to the economy?”  This was a question asked by Thom yesterday, and I might add, a very good one.

First let me say that I appreciate the people that have enough money and are willing to pay for new items.  Without them, people like me would have no used stuff or second hand stuff to buy.  We would have to resort 100% on dumpster diving?  Not sure what the full impact of that would be for thrifty types, but it would sure change things.

Our economy is built on plastic and filled with air.  When I started on this soapbox yesterday saying that “…it has to collapse someday…”, I was quickly corrected by Jerod that the proper word here is “deflate”.  So, in my opinion, the economy will ‘deflate’ at some point.  We can’t possibly continue like this long term.  I’m not an economist or a fortune teller, and I don’t know how this will happen, but it will.  It makes me want to stuff money in my mattress instead of investing it.  (note to criminals: I have not actually done this so don’t break in and look in my mattress)

Whether the Awful Inevitable Radical Economy Deflation (AIRED) happens fast or slow, and the amount of negative impact it will have could be lessened by everyone just being a little bit intentional about the way we shop.  We have the ability to support good retailers and not support bad ones.  I know all of this sounds radical, and maybe somewhat like a conspiracy theory, but could it happen?  Yes.  If you think something different, please comment with your thoughts.

In the mean time, here’s a few simple things to consider when shopping.  You can help make a difference.

  • Know where you’re buying your stuff. Is this retailer using unfair labor practices or are they paying fair wages?
  • What is a retailer doing to be green and help conserve resources? Green energy, materials and business practices are clearly evident if you do a little research.
  • Do they give back to the community? If so, support them.  No business has to do this but many choose to.
  • Is this something you can buy second hand? You could save money and keep things from going in a landfill.
  • Instead of buying an item, could you borrow it? Sharing things you don’t use frequently will give you less clutter and save you money while building community.

If you can find items that aren’t supported by Ed Hardy, you’ve done well!  LOL, sorry, I couldn’t resist typing that.  😉

Jun 21 2010

the challenge: day 25 [what are you for?]

We decided to take a trip down to Waco and go to Church Under the Bridge.  (  I so wish it was closer… or I was closer.  A two hour drive to church is a long drive, but for this place, well worth it.  I was excited to bring my kids this time.  I have to admit something though.  I bought a t-shirt at CUTB.  Wait, actually I bought two, one for me and one for Steve.  Yes, they’re new shirts, and we don’t need more clothing, but after some careful consideration, I decided to buy them.  Maybe I’m justifying this purchase, but here’s my reasoning:

  • It’s new, but the money is going to the church, who in turn, helps the homeless.
  • It did not come from a major retailer.
  • When we wear them, it’s a conversation starter since it says ‘TROLL’ on the front.  (not that I need a reason to yap about this place, because I’m all about it)
  • T-shirts are the modern day propaganda.  Instead of a t-shirt advertising expensive clothing stores or a cool graphic, how about a t-shirt that has a message communicating what I’m passionate about?

Church Under the Bridge is great and I’m proud to be a troll!  Also, I came home and cleaned out my closet.  I got rid of all my t-shirts that advertise large clothing retailers and  I have a huge bag of clothing to bring to the thrift store.  Did you know that most thrift stores have voucher programs for people in need and some of the donations go right to people that need it?

You can see the rest of my photos from CUTB on

On the way home, there was a place I’ve always wanted to stop.  I’ve passed by it no less than 25 times, and each time they have interesting stuff outside.  We decided to make a quick stop there before lunch.  I’m not sharing the name of the place, you’ll understand why in a moment.

I always carry my camera, especially to a place that has fun stuff.  I snapped a few pics outside, then we went in.  It was a second hand clothing store, specializing in retro clothing.  REAL retro clothing.  I liked a lot of their stuff, but so did they.  A simple pair of pants started at $30.  A t-shirt that you would find at a thrift store for $1 cost $19 at this place.  Now don’t get me wrong, this is clearly a specialty store, and a trendy shopping experience.  I think they might even make some of the clothing there, which I think it’s great to support local mom and pop businesses.  I walked around and snapped a couple more pics.

The man working there was talking to Steve as I was looking around and trying to keep Joe away from stuff.  I saw a painting I liked and snapped a photo.  A lady came out, quite angry, and made it very clear that I was not supposed to take photos.  I respect that and I stopped.  I really liked the painting and asked how much it cost.  Irritated, she replied, “That’s not for sale.  The clothing is for sale, that’s all.  My kid painted that, just look at the clothes.”  Then Cole came in from outside and she yelled at him to go stay with his mother and do not roam around the store.  Yes, it was time to go.

The man followed us out, still talking to Steve, and told me if he had seen my camera, that he would have said something.  He didn’t want any photos, he doesn’t want the place publicized and exploited.  Interesting, as most people call that marketing, and see it as a good thing.  Now you know why I’m not sharing the name.  I respect his wish to remain unexploited and anonymous.  (yes, I took the photo before they told me to quit and I blurred the mannequins face to protect her identity.)  We stood outside and listened to him rant and rave about war, church, the war church up the street, our screwed up society, teen pregnancy in his town being the highest in Texas and SAT scores being the lowest.  As he went on and on, I was wondering if there’s anything this guy likes?  I now know everything he’s against, although I think if we had stayed for another hour, he probably would have lectured us with his seemingly endless oppositions to the world as he sees it.  I made the mistake of telling him we live in Frisco.  He had a field day with that, as all of the non-tax paying rich people live here and we single-handedly started the Tea Party.

This got me thinking.  I tend to rant and rave when I’m passionate about an injustice or something I see as wrong.  I usually don’t take the time to think before I talk, even though I know I should, and usually regret it later.  Not regrets of saying something, but regrets of saying it well.  When people think of me, I wonder if they think of me for what I stand for or what I stand against?  And if I stand for something, am I taking enough action to help the situation, or am I just griping like the guy at the store?  I want to stand for good things and take action to support those things.  What are you for?

Jun 15 2010

[book review] radical by david platt

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Multnomah Books; 1 edition (May 4, 2010)
  • Amazon: Buy the book
  • Kindle version: Get it now
  • ISBN-10: 1601422210 review from June 14, 2010

Although I really like much of the content in this book, and I am glad I read it, I struggled some with the author’s communication style of ‘you need to do everything I’m saying’. He has many great points about taking back your faith from the american dream. I live in a city where the income average is twice that of the national average. I have a 1780 square foot home, which here is considered extremely small, yet I consider it very big. I drive my 14 year old car next to many new and much fancier cars. Over the past couple of years, and a lot lately, I really have to wonder why God has me in a place where people are living the american dream… times 2. I clearly don’t fit in here, or do I?

David gives many opinions, and many of them really good, but I feel like I still don’t know what he’s about. He gave some personal examples, but not enough for me see that he is completely sold out to his opinions and vision. Before this book, I read Shane Claiborne’s book The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical “Irresistible Revolution”, and it was clear by his stories and the way he communicated it, that he is sold out to his vision and beliefs. I do recommend reading this book, but I also recommend that you pray about God’s will for your life within the context of his thoughts.

The premise of the book is that everyone must make disciples everywhere in the world, no exceptions, and doing things locally is not enough. I will challenge this with a little different way of thinking. Yes, it would be great if everyone could go to other countries to help people. AND, he is right that we shouldn’t just send money and feel like we’ve accomplished something. First, I think God has a will for all of us to help, and when we all understand out how he wants us to be His hands and feet in the world, we should not ignore that. I think David is right that we should make sacrifices on some level and make helping the poor a priority, not a passing thing that might happen once a year at Christmas time or when you decided to clean out your closet and give away your discards. On page 130, he says, “What would happen together if we stopped giving our scraps to the poor and started giving surplus?” He is right, we should order our lives in way that allows us to help others. But if I don’t go out of the country, then I am not doing God’s work? I don’t believe that. I’m a single mom with a full time job and limited financial resources. I do go to Mexico on mission trips, although I hate calling them that, as these orphans we visit are family. I would love to go to Africa and many other places, but that’s just not a reality right now. So I can support someone who can go and I can also do many things here to support the impoverished locally. I’m not accepting the implied guilt trip. According to David, I am wrong.

I pray about what missions work I should be doing everyday, and not only that, I’m also teaching my kids to do the same. We might not be in other countries physically, but I’m not ignoring them. I know people are suffering globally and I can partner with people that are making a difference. My heart is with those people as well, and I think that’s what God is calling us to do. We should love everyone, be aware of global needs and not ignore them. These places are far away and they’re not in our day to day lives, and if we don’t look for them, chances are we will not ever see them. We have to be intentional about educating ourselves so we can reach out in the ways God has designed us to do just that.

I know this will end up being the longest book review ever to hit Amazon, so I’ll wrap it up. David’s challenges at the end of the book are this:

Pray for the entire world
Read through the entire Word
Sacrifice your money for a specific purpose
Spend your time in another context
Commit your life to multiplying community

I love these challenges! I read these and have started in a positive direction on all of them, but by praying through them and understanding what God wants from me and within my reality.

I had an idea from reading this, an idea about praying for the world, which I started last night with my kids. I’m doing a year of no retail shopping, which I’m blogging the process on […] (I’m only 19 days into it at the time of this review) Other than groceries and toiletries, I can purchase used stuff only, and only if needed. I went to the used bookstore and bought a world atlas. (used for $10. I would have purchased from Amazon, but I wanted to start my idea immediately) When my kids and I pray every night, we are now also praying for the people in a specific place every night. I realized my geography skills are… well, they suck. I could try to sugar coat that, but there’s no point. With the atlas, we can not only pray for people globally, but we can see where they live, learn more about them and better understand how we can help. I have every hope that we can visit some of these places someday and my kids have that desire too. They want to meet Angelo, our Compassion International sponsored child in Peru. How cool would that be? I have no idea if that could ever happen, but they continue to dream about it and I continue to support them in believing it could happen someday. We also write our name and date we prayed for places in the atlas.

So to sum it up, I recommend reading the book, there’s a lot of really good things to ponder. As a matter of fact, I have highlighted and underlined many things in this book and I will refer back to it. If you have the same struggle I did in relating to the author, read it anyway, consciously eliminating his opinions, but taking seriously his thoughts and ideas. Take his challenges too. The world would be a much better place if we all made some positive changes, even if it’s just a tiny one.

Jun 14 2010

the challenge: day 18 [geography, kids & prayer]

After reading the book Radical (of which I have a love/hate relationship with), I wrote a review for   Although I struggled with the author’s communication style, it is a book worth reading.  I love his ideas and thought processes, but I don’t care for his style of throwing it in your face and trying to inflict a guilt trip if you don’t do what he says.  He backs up much of his book with biblical teachings, and like anyone that reads the Bible or anything else, he has his own interpretations of it.  As soon as it’s approved, I will post the review here on my blog, or you can look on Amazon, if you would like to read it.

His book did give me several good ideas to process and thoughts to ponder.  One of the ideas I had, based on his challenges to the readers at the end of his book, I implemented last night.  The first of his five challenges was to pray for the entire world in a year’s time.  I thought about this and it’s not something I’m doing, although I do pray for impoverished people a lot.  This is such an easy, yet powerful thing to do, I decided right away that I should start this.  I also thought my kids need to be involved in doing it as well.

I thought back to the first time I had ever seen or heard about poor people.  It was back in the early 70’s (yes, I know, I’m dating myself and I’m old) when a commercial came on for helping starving kids, hosted by Sally Struthers, sponsoring African kids through ChildFund international.  My parents never told me about this world where kids don’t have enough to eat, although I did hear a lot about the world where kids that don’t behave go to live at orphanages.  I not only had my basic needs of food and shelter met, but I had everything I wanted.  We weren’t rich, but we were a middle class family that learned to spend every dime that we had for ourselves to make our lives easier, more comfortable and entertaining.  I could not comprehend the world I was seeing on TV, and if we just sent some money every month, we could help eliminate this awfulness.  I honestly can’t remember if I ever asked my parents if we could help, but we never did.  I was one of those kids who challenged everything I heard, not falling into the advertising trap very easily.  Could this be for real or are they just trying to get money by using these horrific images?  I did not know, and being a young kid, I had no money so I didn’t think much about it.  In the back of my mind I figured they must have really been bad to end up in a place like that.  What an incredibly sad childhood memory.

Wow, that was a long rabbit trail!  Back to the idea.  I shopped.  Yes, I went to Half Price books and spent $10 on a used world atlas.  My geography skills, for lack of a better word, suck.  I could sugar coat that, but what would be the point?  I’m visual and for me to see where all of these places are and learn more about them is important so we are able to do God’s work in whatever way he wants us to.  Not only will we be praying for the world, we will know where these places are and understand some of their struggles and needs.

Every night when we choose a place to pray for people in need, we are writing our name and date next to the location in the atlas.  In addition, we are trying to do some research on these places so we know their needs.  Again, the shopping for the atlas was still shopping.  It did fall under my ‘only buy used stuff’ rule and I thought it was for a good cause.  What do you think?