Monthly Archives: August 2016

Another update on my 2016 sustainable shopping challenge!

Today is officially the last day of August and with that, I have completed TWO thirds of my “12 pieces – 12 months” challenge!

You know, I decided back in January to buy a maximum of one new item for myself per month for the entire year of 2016, in order to reduce my consumption and live more sustainably.

I wrote a similar update post after completing four months on the challenge, and now the time has come to share what I’ve been spending money on during our long, never ending, hotter than the sun, Texas summer.

august

In May, I went on a work trip to New York and found myself downtown browsing away at Century 21. And not only browsing for that matter, I bought a made in Italy sweater from what I assume is a fancy designer, since it cost me $199! I love this sweater even though it wasn’t my best ever eco-purchase. Judging by the price and origin, I do believe it is a sweatshop-free item.

In June, hubby came across a new brand of reusable water bottles while reading a magazine, and we got ourselves a couple of Liberty Bottleworks bottles. They’re made in Washington State from 100% recycled aluminum. One 24 oz bottle was $23.

In July, I decided it was time to gear up for fall with a new pair of Oka-B ballet flats. This time I got myself a black pair with a grey pendant. Made in Georgia, recyclable, zero waste, vegan shoes at their best! And of course, only $45. Woop!

In August, the time had finally come to get myself an adult coloring book. Nerdy or awesome, who cares, it has cats. Lots of cats. I got it at Barnes and Noble for $13.95 and it is printed in Canada. Judging by the time I spent coloring half a page, this book will last for a long time.

I am very happy with all these things!!

As you can see, the challenge is not just about clothes, bags, accessories and shoes, it’s also about other “nice to have” things, like books and bottles.

Four more months to go! Will I succeed? I am planning on it!

How are you challenging your old shopping habits?

Link to the January through April update here.

If you’re gonna put a US flag or state on it, then please, make it here.

Nothing drives a “not made in China shopper” crazier than souvenirs and patriotic merchandise made in China. (That is if the shopper in question is not in China shopping for these things, but in for example Texas.)

At a recent shopping outing at HomeGoods (just browsing!), my friend and I ran into this:

IMG_8649

Texas state pride – made in China.

First let me say this, there are things that people buy that kind of have to be imported, sometimes for very good reasons. One example I can think of right now is bamboo. Bamboo is a sustainably harvested plant, very often grown in China and East Asia. It’s durable in use, considered eco-friendly, but doesn’t grow here.

As for the Texas wall art, there is no excuse. Let’s take a second to note what it is made of, namely, some sort of wood, stain and white paint. Hmm, I’m pretty sure I’ve seen these materials in Texas before!

The sad thing is that some proud Texan will fall in love with this simple painting (not sure what to call it really), take it home, hang it and feel good about it. Probably never reading the tag that says made in China on the back.

So, shoppers, read the tag and refuse local pride made overseas!

And makers, if you’re gonna put a US flag or state on it, then please, make it here.

At the end of the day, this is why we need to stop trade agreements like the TPP, folks! What a waste it is to import items we already have (wood, stain, paint, cardboard) all while outsourcing labor and adding polluting transport to our oceans. It should never make economic sense to do so.

Read my take on the TPP (Transpacific Partnership) here and add your name to the petition to stop it here. Right now it looks like there won’t be a vote on the TPP this year, which is great (!), but we still need to campaign against it.

Five ways to eco-boost your day at the office (every day!)

As the kids are gearing up for school, adults are gearing up for going back to work after our summer vacations. Oh wait, some of us never left. Either way, it’s a great time to kick start some new, sustainable habits along with that new, hopefully better, fall wardrobe you’re about to show off.

Most of us spend just as much time at the office (or other workplace) as we do at home. Therefore, what environmentally friendly choices we make during working hours certainly matters!

Here are five easy ways to eco-boost your day at the office. EVERY day!

1. Ditch the disposables

Using disposable cups for office coffee and water is a nasty habit. There is absolutely no reason to add cups to landfill every day, because you’re too lazy to wash up. If your office has a dishwasher, all the better, if not, there is no shame in taking your cups home now and then to give them a deep clean. If you’re a stir stick fan, use that plastic piece of nonsense multiple times (or how does over 500 years in landfill before it degrades sound?).

Disposable water bottles don’t belong in the office either, since most offices have a water cooler you can use. And if not, ask your employer to invest in one (or maybe water filters for all kitchen faucets).

cup
Scarf + coffee mug = match made in office

2. Be eco-smart about lunch

Lunch is the one meal a day that you get to control 100%. No boyfriend, wife, family or friends cooking for you or suggesting what’s for dinner. Use this opportunity to eat vegan meals, or at least put beef and dairy on the “forever forbidden lunch food” list. Avoid places that use disposable dishes and cups.

Pack your lunch now and then too (in reusable containers) to save the car trip, napkins, unwanted straws, receipts and cash.

3. Trash belongs in the common area (not your office!)

If you have a personal trash can in your office or cubicle, ever notice how the trash bag is changed almost every night? Throw a banana peel in there and I guarantee you the cleaning crew will change the bag. This behavior wastes so much plastic! 100 employees, 220 workdays, that’s 22,000 (half empty) plastic bags going to landfill every year! Take your trash to a common area, like the kitchen. Bonus! You’re less likely to sit on your butt all day.

4. Turn that light off

Just because you aren’t footing the electricity bill doesn’t mean Mother Nature isn’t. Unless you’re working in a building powered 100% by solar panels – a turbine, coal plant or nuclear reactor somewhere is making energy for you. Turn off your office lights, bathroom lights, fans, heaters and electronics when you leave a space. Help your forgetful colleagues by turning off their lights too (hey, only when they’re not there!).

If you have access to the A/C thermostat, great, set it to a comfortable (higher) level to save the building electricity! Plus you and your colleagues don’t have to use personal space heaters (to warm those cold feet). [Reader tip!]

5. Reduce, reuse and recycle

80% of office waste is paper, so being mindful about paper use is key. Only print when you need to, use both sides of the paper and collect all paper for recycling. I bet your office has a secure shredder bin or recycle collection bin, and if not, encourage (hmm, more like demand) that your employer gets one. Help your colleagues remember to recycle by setting up local paper collection trays in your specific work area. If you see a piece of paper in a personal office trash can (see point 3) give the person the evil eye. It’s effective.

recycling tray
Three people at work use my collection bin :)

That’s my list! I do these things every day and I promise it’s so easy! We can all make a difference while we’re on the clock. Quite the win-win.

Do you have more ideas on how to maximize our eco-friendliness at work?! Leave me a comment :)

Mystical cats and mystical printing methods: What I bought this month

I’ve had this nagging feeling lately that I spend way too much time in front of or looking down at a screen. My eyes are tired and honestly, I’m a bit tired of endless updates (and Trump’s ugly mug).

Now, I’m not sure if it’s super nerdy or quite trendy, but I’ve wanted a so called “adult” coloring book ever since they first came out, and now seemed like the perfect time to get one to help me spend more time being creative and less time screen surfing.

“Mystical Cats in Secret Places”. That’s my new coloring book because yes, I love cats. Since I’ve spent many days drawing in the past, I already have lots of colored pencils I can use. (Digging them out at home I was happy to see they are all plastic free, made in Europe and non toxic.)

FullSizeRender

Speaking of books, have you ever flipped a book over at Barnes and Noble to see where it was actually printed?

Funny thing, or sad rather, many of them are made in China. You’ll find that being true for the majority of coloring books as well (kids and adult ones). Yes, we import English books written by American authors from China. It’s a mad world!

When it comes to printing, “made in China” is not only concerning due to the long transport and the outsourcing of jobs, the biggest issue is the environmental impact this business has on local eco systems.

See, it’s actually common for Chinese (and Indian) printers to do all their printing offshore. That means the books are made onboard ships that conveniently release all the excess tint and chemicals straight into the open sea*. It’s a great way for them to escape watchful eyes, avoid regulation and stay super competitive on pricing.  In other words an eco disaster. So take a second and check the origin next time you’re book browsing.

Anyway, less screen time and plenty more mystical cats for me! I’m excited.

As far as the 12 months  – 12 items challenge, this coloring book is my one purchase for August. I spent $13.95 and it is made (onshore) in Canada.

*I first found out about Chinese offshore printing thru _Wastelandrebel_’s instagram account.

 

A four step guide to choosing the eco-friendly fabrics of your life!

My sister suggested a long time ago that I write something about fabrics. She asked: When it comes to shopping planet-friendly, which fabrics should I go for?

Here’s what I’ve come up with, based on internet research, articles I’ve read and some personal eco ideas that make sense to me :)

FullSizeRender

Step 1: Go for natural fibers

Post shared on eco-gites.blogspot.com and skipthebag.blogspot.com/