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 10 2011

poverty: the stress of a downward spiral [day 287]

My rent payment is $286.  My utilities are $190 this month.  I don’t own a phone, I don’t have a job and I have a baby to take care of.  My name is Iris Isaacson… but only in this temporary make-believe world.  This world I’m speaking of is a poverty simulation, a game to teach people what it’s like to live in poverty.

I participated in this event last night.  At first, I thought it seemed like a lot of work and I wasn’t sure I wanted to be there.  In the middle of it, I was thinking, “…what a chaotic game…”, but also realizing much of it was like real life.  At the end of it, I was worn out.  I couldn’t pay my bills, the ones I did pay were late, I had to pawn my jewelry, sold my camera, and after all the hardships and paying everything late, I got evicted anyway.  Here’s a description of the simulation.

The Poverty Simulation is a simulation experience developed by the Missouri Association for Community Action. During the simulation, participants pretend to be members of a low-income community attempting to survive four 15-minute weeks of poverty. The simulation relies on role playing techniques and extensive props to help participants understand the day to day challenges faced by families living in poverty.  Continue reading


Feb 26 2011

the minimalist challenge update [day 275]

I have to say, I never thought I would call myself anything related to being a minimalist.  I was raised in a very materialistic home and placed a pretty high value on having stuff.   So what exactly is a minimalist?  Here’s the dictionary definition.

minimalist

[min-uh-muh-list]

–noun
1.  a person who favors a moderate approach to the achievement of a set of goals or who holds minimal expectations for the success of a program.
2.  a practitioner of minimalism in music or art.

–adjective
3.  of, pertaining to, or characteristic of minimalism.
4.  being or offering no more than what is required or essential.

Every day, within my normal routine, I’m finding a lot of material possessions that I just don’t need, want or even use.  I have a basket set up as a staging area to get these things out of my house.  Not a day has gone by, within the last week, that I haven’t placed at least one thing in there.  I open the kitchen drawer and realize I have extra hot pads, I walk by a shelf wondering why I have a cluster of too many vases on it, do I really need that stack of books… you get the picture.  I like this new mentality.  It’s that same one that keeps me from buying impulse items, shopping for no reason and buying things just because it’s a good deal.

I suppose if I look at this, applying the definition, I din’t know how many people would say I’m striving to be a minimalist.  When you look at the part that says “required or essential”, does that mean for us to live or to live in our society?  My minimalism would be considered the latter of the two.  Clearly, I don’t need a car to live, I don’t need that cute art bowl on my table to live, nor do I need the most awesome hot tub in my back yard to live.  Comparing these items to our basic necessities of food, water and moderate shelter, it’s extravagant.  When compared to a middle class family, it’s the norm.

My house is considered small in the higher income, affluent city I live in.  I’ve thought about downsizing.  I even had a nightmare about it last night.  Worse yet, it’s a recurring one.  I bought a new, bigger house about 30 minutes north of where I live.  I got a good deal on it, so I bought it with the intention of selling my current house.  In this dream, I always forget I have the new house until the 1st mortgage payment invoice shows up.  I haven’t sold my house, I’ve lost the key to the new house and I’m not even sure exactly where the new house is.  I usually wake up from this nightmare in a panic, clenching my teeth, stressed out about something that never happened.

As Madonna says, we’re living in a material world, but I don’t want to be a material girl.


Feb 4 2011

my carbon footprint [day 253]

So I still have quite a ways to go to meet the world target, but mine is substantially lower than the national average.  I decided to take this test a few months ago after speaking with the power company.  He was surprised at how low my kilowatt usage was for my size house.  If you would like to do the calculator, here it is… carbonfootprint.com


Dec 4 2010

food glitter [day 191]

I ran out of dishwasher soap a couple of weeks ago and had to wash my dishes by hand.  In the process, I realized that I wash all my dishes before putting them in the dishwasher.  I’m sure this bizarre habit comes from my childhood of eating off gritty dishes from our dishwasher that was overloaded with food covered dishes, loaded with an expectation that the magic food removal fairy would clean them spotlessly.  I’m no rocket scientist, but I’m pretty sure these machines are not designed for such work, as I’ve never seen one that takes in lots of food without them coming out covered in food glitter.  Food glitter is gross.

I decided to wash my dishes by hand, set them in the dishwasher rack to dry, then put them away.  Without running my dishwasher, I’m saving water and electricity.  It was mostly an unnecessary step in the dishwashing process.  This doesn’t mean I won’t do it again, but I don’t need to use the dishwasher so often.  My dishes are just as clean, there’s no difference in time, but I’m being better with my resources.  :)


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

Amazon.com 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.


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…