Monthly Archives: December 2016

Go GREEN in 2017 and save lots of dough (How eco-friendly habits can make a difference in your budget!)

Ever heard someone say “green living is expensive” or “not everyone can afford to be eco-friendly”?

Yeah, me too! But let’s face it – it’s just another excuse.

I can’t think of a better time than now, as Christmas is finally over and many credit cards are exhausted from holiday spending, to talk about all the ways one can actually SAVE money by going green.

First, let me get the expensive, green habits out of the way and out of our minds so we can focus on where we can save. I won’t argue that A. A locally made product costs more than an imported one, B. Organic food cost more than generic food, and C. An electric long-range car costs more to buy than a gasoline driven one*.

Phew, that’s done. Now, let those go and dig into these ten tips for how YOU can save money while doing good for the planet!

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  1. Start a Not Made in China Challenge.

Ask me – I know all about it! Start reading labels, say no to made in China and watch your spending go down. Significantly. No more impulse buying. No more gimmicks. THIS measure alone will save you so much money. Let’s be honest, the reason you have credit card debt is that you buy too much crap. Oops. I meant to write “unnecessary things”.

  1. Buy second hand.

A previously owned item will save you 50% to 80%. Take a baby-onesie from Carters for example; $15 at the store, $2 from the second hand shop. I find that nicely organized consignment stores work best for me, while the thrill of amazing deals at the thrift store excites others. Many of my friends in the eco-community use and swear by online stores like Threadup.com.

  1. Invest in a smart thermostat.

Reducing your electricity use by heating and cooling only when you’re home and it’s needed will save most households $130-$145 per year.

  1. Stop buying bottled water.

This eco-habit does not apply to Flint residents (May 2017 be the year your water crisis is finally solved!) and other communities with questionable water supply, but to the rest of us, with access to fine tap water. Just because you’re going on an outing doesn’t mean you need bottled water either. Just fill up containers you have at home! My husband and I took a nine-day road trip this fall and did not buy a single bottle of water. Bring, refill, reuse. Americans spend 13 billion dollars per year on bottled water.**

  1. Go for salad, not steak.

The filet mignon or bone-in-ribeye will be among the most expensive choices on any menu. At a steakhouse, you might be paying $35 for steak and only $15 for the chicken salad. Depending on your restaurant habits, you can save more or less money per outing by going green.

  1. Buy groceries in bulk, but know when not to.

The larger the packaging, the lower the cost per pound. You know you’ll finish that peanut butter, that mayo and that ketchup anyway, so buy the huge jars. This applies to pretty much all dry goods and body lotion too. Veggies, fruits, baked goods and meats on the other hand (foods that go bad!), should be bought with the utmost of care. You want to limit food waste as much as possible. The Natural Resources Defense Council has reported that Americans discard 40 percent of their purchased food every year, with the average family of four throwing away an equivalent of $2,275 annually. Yikes!

  1. Drive less.

If you happen to live close to a friend or colleague, i.e. if the opportunity is there, ride together! Of course if you live close to your work, and it’s safe to do so, biking would save you lots of money as well. (This one is tricky for me because Houston is dangerous for biking, and public transport is pretty much nonexistent, hence why we got an EV to reduce our impact from driving, but I still want to mention it.)

  1. Become a library member.

Read lots of books for free! It’s a pretty amazing service if you think about it. You can also get in the habit of borrowing books from friends, maybe start a book club where the only membership term is letting each other borrow books.

  1. Invest in a set of cloth towels and linen napkins.

Use every day, wash, repeat. You’ll save on paper towels and these items will add no extra laundry loads at all, just wash them along with the weekly wash. (Guests find linen napkins so festive too! They’re always impressed and the table setting looks much nicer than with paper napkins.) I’ve blogged before about how reusable make-up wipes save you money as well.

  1. Explore local areas.

Instead of hopping on a plane to see another city, stay close to home and explore your own area. Travel does wonders for our souls, I agree, but a three-day-weekend getaway to Hawaii will be more stressful than rewarding. Fly with purpose and explore locally if your weekends are open. Camping will save you money too, versus checking in at a hotel.

That’s my list! How do you save money by being eco-friendly? Or how do you plan to do it in 2017? Let me know!

With that, I want to wish everyone a Happy New Year!

Let’s make it a green one.

* Since the market is still limited, there are way more “cheap” gasoline cars available to buy than electric ones. An EV will however, save you “gas money” over time.

** The average water pitcher filters 240 gallons of water a year for about 19 cents a day. Put in perspective, to get the same amount of water from bottled water would require 1,818 16.9-ounce water bottles a year – at an average cost of a dollar a bottle, that’s $4.98 a day. https://www.banthebottle.net/bottled-water-facts/

EVERYTHING I bought myself in 2016: The list, the goods, the made in USA

In 2016 I decided to take the not made in China challenge one step further by establishing some shopping rules and limiting my shopping. More specifically I wanted to focus my energy and hard-earned cash on eco-friendly, locally made products and limit myself to purchasing a maximum of ONE new item for myself per month.

A year later, and only a few items richer, this challenge has created a lot of awareness and made me realize how content and happy I am treating myself very rarely. Researching and contemplating what to buy ahead of time, instead of falling for impulse purchases, has helped me pick items I will use a lot and not regret later. Limiting my shopping for new things has also helped me be more open to second hand clothing – which was one of my goals for the year as well.

I know what you all want to know; after a whole year, what kind of items did I end up with and how much money did I actually spend?!

It was easy to compile the list! For starters I have been keeping track here on the blog and let’s be honest, there are not very many items to keep track of!

First, the fashion.

The average American buys 68 garments per year and only 2.5% of them are made in USA. Here are mine:

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  1. A made in USA, small business, cotton tote bag ($24) from SeltzerGoods.com.
  2. An Italian designer sweater ($199) that I picked up at Century 21 in New York City.
  3. Another pair of recyclable, vegan, made in Georgia ballet flats ($45) from Oka-b.com.
  4. A super cute made in USA, modal dress (only $22) from Via74.com.
  5. Super comfy made in Los Angeles, modal maternity tights and nursing bra ($60 + $45) from Storq.com.
  6. A perfect, American-made, flannel shirt ($142) from Tradlands.com.
  7. My birthday bonus, a NYC-made, zero waste scarf ($60) from Tabiijust.com.

Total spending: $597.

Second, all the other “fun to have” purchases.

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  1. Reusable, recycled aluminum water bottle, made in Washington state ($23) from LibertyBottleWorks.com. I bought one, and my husband surprised me with one, so I actually have two.
  2. Reusable, organic cotton, made in USA, make-up remover wipes ($12) from Skindeepnaturals.com. Not sure this classifies as a “fun to have” purchase, it’s a trash saver! But it was the only thing I got in February.
  3. Adult coloring book, made in Canada ($14), which I got at Barnes & Noble.

Total spending: $49.

Of course, in addition to the above I’ve bought eco-freindly, American-made body products like shampoo and I got a new pair of compression socks (doctors’s orders!). I also spent $105 on second hand treasures (two blouses, a sweater, a dress and a broche).

That’s it!

I am pretty impressed with my selection and determination this year. Only two imported items (one from Canada so not that far away). Keep in mind I’ve done this challenge despite getting pregnant and a large chunk of my wardrobe miraculously shrinking. Applause please! Thank you!

How did you do? Do you actually know how much money you spent this year on new, “nice to have” items for yourself? If you are unsure, and feel like you went a bit overboard this year, I encourage you to do the 12 months – 12 pieces challenge in 2017!

As for me, I don’t think I need to do the challenge again next year. I’ve gotten used to not shopping and I have a feeling I’ll be pretty busy keeping the baby alive so shopping too much for myself will probably not be an issue ;)

Reducing our consumption is key to living a sustainable life and fighting climate change!

Your guide to excellent, sustainable, made right (here) gifts – from companies against bigotry

Despite all the negativity surrounding us lately, a joyous season is upon us. I don’t know about you, but if we are to fiercely fight for what’s right in the coming four years, I think we need a nice break and to sit back and relax this Christmas, knowing that Obama and Biden are still in office.

Last week I shared an important post about where to donate your dollars this Holiday Season to make an impact and spread some eco-love. This week, I’d like to focus on promoting some ethical, eco-friendly brands, who just like us, openly supported a Hillary Clinton presidency and stand against hate and racism. These brands will help you give excellent, sustainable, made right (here) gifts to yourself or others worthy of a treat.

1. Bead & Reel

Bead & Reel is an ethical online boutique offering eco-friendly, cruelty free (vegan), sweatshop free fashion. Fair trade, organic, recycled material, female run brands – whatever you feel strongly about, they’ve got it. They’re good at listing where everything is made, so you can shop local if you want to too.

2. National Geographic

Can I just give a shout out to National Geographic? With their fantastic (yet frightening) environmental series Years of Living Dangerously and the new Leo movie Before the Flood, they sent a clear message about voting for the climate this election. A magazine subscription might not be the most zero waste gift, but one I’d sure like anyway! (Or go ahead an purchase Years of Living Dangerously on I-tunes!)

3. Rackk and Ruin

Rackk and Ruin is a Berlington, VT (Bernie’s home base) jewelry maker focusing on using natural materials like leather, feathers and metal in her handmade pieces. She’s offering safety pin gold earrings right now as well, so you can show off your anti-Trump feelings.

4. Skin Deep Naturals

You might remember Skin Deep Naturals from when I got my reusable, organic cotton make-up remover rounds earlier this year. However, there’s more to the brand than that. It’s a natural skin care line using safe ingredients straight from nature, without any synthetic ingredients or preservatives. Most ingredients are organic and fair trade certified and all are hate-free.

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My made in USA, cotton tote-bag from Seltzer Goods

5. Seltzer Goods

Seltzer Goods are so much fun! They’re definitely on the “nice to have” scale of things, but one deserves a fun and colorful treat now and then. Tote bags, magnets, pens and more, with most everything being made right here. I bought myself a striped cat tote from them earlier this year, which is made in USA, 100% cotton and so cute.

6. Tabii Just

This zero waste, feminist designer just launched her fall collection, and it’s looking classy. Tabii Just is based and made in New York. I scored a gorgeous scarf made from scrap fabric this fall and I couldn’t be happier with it (maybe it’s the cute ball hem!?)

7. The Little Market

The Little Market is an online shop where customers can purchase handmade, fair trade products made by (female) artisans around the world. Every purchase, whether it be a blanket, accessory, candle, baby beanie or little apron, generates meaningful income for the artisans and their families. Lauren Conrad is one of the founders.

8. Tradlands

I just modeled my new shirt from Tradlands in my last post here on the blog! They’re all about perfectly crafted women’s shirts, keeping it small business and always made in USA with love (not hate). Check out their soft flannels or business button-ups.

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My Made in USA, cotton flannel from Tradlands

Please readers, if you know of any great eco-brands, who openly and proudly voted against hate and bigotry, please share them with me in the comments! I sure can’t keep track of them all by myself ;)

In addition to voting with your dollars and buying what’s right, you should also avoid shopping at places that did support a Trump presidency (it’s a search away). Funny enough, the sustainable community is very unlikely to have done so, whereas, places like Hobby Lobby (Chinese junk store) and Chick-file (mass produced chicken) probably did.

If you’re more into zero waste gifts, check out my other posts on gifting and donating.

My Tradlands flannel shirt: American craftsmanship at its best

I’ve bought something VERY special.

And no, it’s not maternity wear.

I decided early on in my pregnancy to limit buying maternity clothes as much as possible and instead try to master pregnancy style using pretty much only my regular clothes and a few, versatile, basic hand-me-downs (thanks sis!). It’s worked out pretty well so far, and with that, left room in the budget for other clothes.

Christina El Moussa (of HGTV’s Flip or Flop) has been my number one pregnancy style inspiration. While she was pregnant with their second kid last year, she kept rocking outfits that fit her growing belly, showed it off even, but was never centered around it. One of my favorite looks of hers was the open plaid shirt, white top, boots and skinny jeans.

Time has come to introduce my new (lovely) flannel.

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Made in the USA by a small company called Tradlands.

I am not often at a loss for words (blogger!), but when I first tried this shirt on at home (after it came in the mail) all I could say was “wow”. Followed by some more wows. Since I started the challenge almost three years ago, I haven’t encountered any American-made clothes as nice as this. This is the most beautifully crafted garment you can imagine. The flannel is thick and 100% cotton. The seams are flawless and the colors are vibrant and deep.

The shirt fits just like I was hoping it would. Of course I can’t button it over the bump, but I knew that I wouldn’t be able to ;). Going by Tradlands’ online size guide, I’d be an XS which also matches the size of most button-up shirts I have in my closet. And here’s something amazing: my arms are monkey-style and rarely does an XS shirt have sleeves long enough for me, but this one does. Another wow.

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Tradlands offers a wide range of women’s button-up shirts, everything from dress shirts for the office to heavier outdoor flannels like mine. They’ve also got some gorgeous sweaters. Many styles are made from organic cotton!

This amazing shirt sells for $167 online. I had a coupon code and ended up paying only $142 (free shipping and returns!). I almost regret using the coupon now. Had I known the excellence in craftsmanship, I would have been more than willing to pay full price to support the company. That’s what this challenge is all about after all, spending my money where it makes a difference.

This is an investment piece. A garment to keep forever. And the last thing I am buying myself in 2016. Ending on a high note!

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Tradlands’ “Tailgate” Flannel, 100% cotton, Made in USA

In case you were wondering; the boots are old, the top and the skinny jeans are hand-me-downs from my sister. The jeans are actually made in USA too by AG Jeans!

The AMAZING glasses? Yes, they’re made right here and blog post coming soon!

Pics by Miss Shutterluv of course.