Tag Archives: savings

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/

Let’s STOP and be thankful. Not SHOP and be thankful.

The holiday season is upon us. Candlelight, warm cardigans and silent nights are around the corner. But first, time to give thanks.

I am so thankful for everyone who decided to check a tag, made a change, or brought a shopping bag to the store this year. I am thankful for all of you who commented, shared and engaged in conversations about sustainable fashion, shopping local, eating right, being mindful and air pollution.

Honestly, thank you – for you I give thanks.

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Now that we are heading into the WORSE weeks of the year, when it comes to America’s overconsumption and unnecessary spending, I want to remind everyone of some truths about this season starting in two days, on Black Friday.

  1. The shopping frenzy you may be about to participate in, was created by clever advertising professionals and companies with ONE goal: selling you as many things as possible (mostly ones you don’t even need). By doing so, making you believe that material things make you and people you shop for, happy. Are you that gullible?
  2. Every single item that you buy has a story. Materials were grown or made, someone assembled it (at below-minimum wage), dirty energy went into it. Once you are done with it and it ends up in landfill you are causing further pollution of the world.
  3. You are making yourself POORER by buying things you don’t need. Is that what you really want? That sounds stupid.
  4. There are fun and loving ways of sharing holiday spirit without gifts. Spending time together and not at the mall is a good start. Games, conversation, homemade food and drinks may be added as needed.

Still feel the need to spend your hard-earned cash?

Well, there’s a way to do it better! Saturday is Shop Small Saturday, a day to remember your small community shops, farmers’ markets and locally owned businesses. So stay in on Black Friday, enjoy your day with friends, family or Netflix, and go explore on Saturday instead. It will be less stressful, you may find something locally made and meaningful to bring home or end up having interesting conversations with friendly store owners. You definitely won’t find that, elbowing your way to a new flat screen, at Wal-Mart.

Rise above shopping. Happy Thanksgiving!

Back at the Rack for something Splendid

Funny enough, just a few days before I bought these cool pants, my friend had texted me about Splendid. She asked if I knew the brand, and I said no, and she said they may still be making most of their stuff in USA, so I said I would look into it. I added the brand to my imaginary “must-check-out-this-brand-note-book” immediately. Turns out, they are not all made in USA anymore, but do fabricate in Cali still.

You know what happened next; I was at the Rack and found this pair of sweats in my size in the clearance section! MSRP $128, I paid $32: that’s how I like it.

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This was a particularly awesome shopping experience because it was a zero waste purchase! I said no to the bag, and the store offered to email me the receipt meaning no print was needed. Also, I had parked my car where I had an errand close by and ended up walking all the way to the Rack (in 100 degrees) and back: reducing start-stop emissions!

I swear I am not on an endorsement deal from Nordstrom Rack. For real! I just find so many amazing deals there that I keep blogging about them.

Comfy, cool and my favorite color. Win.

Just ’cause it doesn’t cost a lot – doesn’t mean it’s cheap

We live in a world full of opinions. We like, share, re-tweet, comment and favorite things on a daily basis. As I share my posts on social media, I get many lovely comments, likes and great tips for brands I need to check out, which makes me so happy! Thank you friends!

After I shared my post on shopping and new LookBook, there were some comments and questions about M-O-N-E-Y. “People must have a lot of money to be able to do what you do”. I have seen similar questions being asked to other people blogging about their sustainable lifestyle and zero waste. The question always is: Are you rich?

Well, no, but I know that not all people can afford to be on a not made in China challenge, since in many cases imports cost less (dollars), so I am very fortunate in that regard. I totally agree that someone struggling to make ends meet, cannot be expected to also read every single tag, worry about origin, and not shop at Wal-Mart. Changing the world cannot be on their shoulders, neither in the US, nor in other countries.

But, the way I see it, this challenge is more about effort than it can ever be about money. Not so much “Do you have the means to live sustainably and shop local?” but “Do you want to take the time and make an effort to make better choices?” People use money as an excuse to cover for lack of effort. (And on the flip side, some rich people don’t care at all, despite the fact that they can afford to buy everything made right)

Are you hiding behind the
Are you hiding behind the “money excuse”?
  • Everyone can afford to shop less. I know they call it retail therapy for a reason, but come on, it ain’t working for you long term anyway. If you “have to” shop, remember it’s better to buy one imported sweater than four.
  • Everyone can afford to bring their own shopping bags to the grocery store.
  • Everyone can afford to say “No thank you, I don’t need a bag as I have about 20 feet of walking to do until I get to my car”. Guess what – all stores accept that. There will be no embarrassing fight!
  • Everyone can afford to use reusable containers for leftovers, lunches, veggies… instead of using a one time ziplock bag.
  • Everyone can afford to drink filtered water from their fridge, faucet piece or pitcher instead of bottled water from the grocery store and to say “no thank you” to straws and lids.
  • Everyone can afford to shop previously owned instead of new.
  • Everyone can afford to eat less meat.

Now; What does my made in USA clothes really cost? Good question!

I am happy to share, so I listened to a comment and added prices to the LookBook! Just for kicks I decided to calculate how much I have spent on clothes in the last 20 months. This number includes shoes, jewelry, scarves, workout clothes… Pretty much everything except prescription eye-wear. It came out to about 85 dollars per month. Is that a high number? Are the clothes I show in the Look Book expensive? I don’t know what other people spend so I’d love to know! To me, $85 sounds very reasonable. Maybe, behind my back, people are thinking my clothes look old and dated (since most of my wardrobe is 2011-2013), I don’t know, but I don’t feel like I’m that person. I like what I wear and I buy enough new things to feel good :)

I’m on this journey because I believe in it 100% so keep the comments and questions coming! It inspires me to write more great posts (how modest!)!

I will end this post with the wise words of super awesome, inspiring woman Kacey Musgraves. (You can define “cost” and “cheap”, below, however you want.)

“I’m happy with what I’ve got, ‘cause what I’ve got is all I need. Just ‘cause it don’t cost a lot – don’t mean it’s cheap.”

Also see my post from 2014 on this subject: All the Money you’ll be saving…!

EXPRESS yourself & show off your legs (leggings)!

Last week, by chance, I read the tag of my 2009 Opaque Ankle Tights from Express for the first time: Made in USA. I thought; “Really? Cool!” (And notice how I just wrote 2009?! Yes, I’ve had them for a while!)

I decided to look into it some more and pulled out all my tights and stockings, which I always buy at Express, for their great fit, to investigate. The full length body shaping tights are made in USA as well, and the other few styles, all patterned black stockings for festive occasions, are made in Italy. How exciting for a not made in China shopper!

IMG_5307A quick visit to the store (and the online shop); I am happy to say they still offer the American made tights! Hurray. Maybe I should buy another few pairs just in case the ankle ones don’t make it to 7 years… 7 year crisis – isn’t that a thing? Two pairs made right here, obviously excellent quality, for $24 – that’s a pretty good deal.

After further tag surfing in the store, I found the spilt is about 50/50 between made in USA and made in Italy. (Tights and stockings only, socks are China imports.)

Express, you’ve surprised me, and I like it. No reason, what so ever, to go anywhere else! Ever!express

I’m hooked on these utility hooks!

Just in time before the weather turns drop dead hot and all the mosquitos south of Maine come to spend their summer (dining) in Houston, we had a chance to tidy up a bit in the yard. Among other things, we hung our ladder, a bike and a few cords in the shed.

How did we do it? The Elfa system! Mostly made in Europe, this is a great option to the made in China selections at Lowes and Home Depot, which for me is a no-can-do.

You may have already noticed that Elfa has completely taken over the smart storage section of the Container Store. Well, it is actually owned by said American chain since 1999, but headquarters are still in Sweden. I will admit that the Container Store people always attack us when we browse, trying to sell us all the smart and awesome Elfa stuff. It’s so tempting! Good thing is, as long as you don’t need (or fall for) the full walk in closet re-model, it’s just as affordable as the next well-made utility hangers and hooks.

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The hooks we bought ($14.99) are made in Poland and the quality, size and functionality is superb! They were very easy to mount and came with the needed screws. (The ladder is an extension ladder by Verner, made in our backyard, Mexico.)

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I’m super excited about the not made in China tidiness. Not so much about the mosquitos to come.

An affordable belt made in USA? Consider it handled.

Nothing thrills me more than when friends, family and coworkers ask for my opinion. I love when they do, because frankly, I am one opinionated gal. So, when the resident funny guy at work asked me to help him find a well-made, American belt, I jumped on it. Let’s do this!

It was actually not hard at all for an experienced “not made in China shopper” like myself to find him something. First site I liked was Bull Hide Belts dot com. He was looking for a black, simple belt for the office, since his Chinese JoS. A. Bank belt was falling apart after he’d been wearing it less than a year.

Here’s what we like about the Bull Hide Belts:

  • Handcrafted in USA from US leather
  • Customizable (buckles, sizes, stitching)
  • Three year warranty
  • Affordable!

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The made in China belt cost him about 50 dollars, now he ended up spending about 75 for one made right here. Come on, that’s a no brainer! The quality looks solid. It’s a little stiff right now, since it’s only a few months old, but we are sure that wearing it for a long time (which is the plan) will soften it up.

We make a good team. The two of us even won an award for best supplier recently from one of our customers. He knows where we need to go, and I am like the Olivia Pope of this office (no kidding) and apparently of the shopping too. Consider it handled.

 

This weekend’s shopping spree: Action packed and NOTHING made in China.

The mission: Black skinny jeans.

Place: Nearby Mall, Houston.

Time: Saturday morning.

The challenge: Only shop clothes made in USA (or at least not made in China!)

First, I decided to give H&M a chance for a change. I don’t shop there much since I don’t support their Sweat Shop methods and almost everything cute is made in China but I was in the mood to browse. They actually have a new collection now called the “Conscious Collection”, which supposedly does some good for the makers of the garments, aims to be climate friendly, ethical and sustainable. Not enough for it to be labeled Fair-Trade, but I did find a lovely blouse with giraffes. Come on, how could I resist?! Giraffes!! It is made from 65% post-consumer material. Only $18.

Next, I laughed out loud at Marshall’s over this hilarious tag: “Democracy – made in China”. LOL.

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After that (and no purchase), I went to Nordstrom Rack, my new favorite place.

I tried on a very trendy, blue-black mélange LNA sweater ($39) and a Chaser Brand pink tank ($25). Both made in USA (California of course!) and both got to come home with me. Sorry for my lack of selfie finesse.

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Last but NOT least, aka the grand finale, I found Citizen of Humanity black skinnies in my size hanging at the clearance rack. Yes!

I had practically given up at this time, it was almost 2 pm and I must have looked at 20 pairs already. Tag said “Made in USA” so I tried them on – perfection. Only $60! That was it for the day. Stop while I’m ahead.

Not made in China shopping IS possible, folks.

Mission completed.

Cute kids deserve safe, US made toys (yes, they do!)

How annoying is it when people try to force their beliefs on you? Most of the time, it’s very annoying. Hopefully, I am not as annoying. I’m not trying to make you do what you don’t want to do, but I will keep talking about reducing consumption and making better choices. It’s just a reminder, and one you can’t really argue. Of course we should all be more mindful of what we purchase and ultimately, what we throw away.

So, with that said, I am guilty of bombarding my sister’s family with a lot of “good choice” presents and “advice”. She does get the organic pasture raised eggs now (they’re better for you and for the chickens) but I fear that alone won’t keep me from nagging.

Last time we visited, I brought the gift of recycling. To be precise, a recycling truck made from recycled plastic, here in the states, by Green Toys Inc. Score! I was really excited about this gift (naturally) and fortunately my nephew seemed to love it too.

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Green Toys have a bunch of different products and lines. Buckets, water toys, kitchen play sets, cars, airplanes and more. All their toys are non-toxic, safe, BPA-free and made from curbside collected recyclables.

So don’t tell me all kids toys are made in China! Here’s proof that they’re not. And you can afford it. Just buy one Green Toy instead of three random ones at Toys R’ Us. Reduce your consumption and vote with your dollars.

My gorgeous nephew and I will discuss the (depressing) recycling situation in America in more depth when he gets a little older. Maybe when he’s like three. That should be a good time to start.

It’s about time you reduce your (merchandise) calorie intake

As of Sunday January 4th I’ve completed my first year of my “not made in China challenge”. And with that, this one year commitment has officially made me consider this my new lifestyle.

Still, living a not made in China life is like being on a constant diet, you always have to consider your options and read tags. There’s no getting around that.

Let’s say Chinese goods are like carbs… People will tell you; “Not all carbs are bad!” “Carbs won’t hurt you.” They’ll say that they manage to lead a healthy lifestyle while including carbs. Still, cutting out carbs completely, seem to help people get healthier and reduce their overall calorie intake. They may spend more money on healthier choices but their overall grocery bill stays the same, since all sugary, carby things (read cookies, candy, soda, cereal) actually add up quick! We can all live without such foods – so why spend the money?

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Not made in China is a diet that has reduced my overall consumption drastically.

There are many want-to-have-products without a domestic or not made in China alternative. It’s unfortunate, for me, but ultimately that means zero merchandise-calorie intake. Yes, I may spend more on one specific item than what a China-shopper would spend, but add up all my spending and it’s nowhere near what I spent the year before (the challenge).

It’s like I’m buying the fruits and veggies of merchandise, the stuff that’s really nutritious for our country; supporting small businesses, US entrepreneurs and locally made products. And the fact that very often these local products are organic or eco friendly, well that’s just a bonus.

Nothing or no one will convince me to change my view on this!

Enjoy the blog in 2015!! Let’s all shop local and reduce our footprint!

And when it’s hot and ready, then dreidel I shall drink

There’s nothing like enjoying hot spiced wine, with a loved one (or two) on a cold December night. The smell of cinnamon, cardamom and red wine fills the house and creates that Christmas feeling. Add a few ginger snaps, music and a fire place; it’s perfection.

This year I actually got myself a little present (say what!) – 6 oz. tumbler glasses, which we will use only for these cozy winter nights. Made in USA, of course, with tiny blue winter leaves. Or winter leaves is what I thought it was until I read the label… “Dreidel tumbler” it said. Oh, what the heck, I like dreidels!

And I love it when Christmas decorations are in unexpected colors, like blue. Where I bought these cuties? All-time favorite, also known as the land of inspiration (and empty wallets); Crate and Barrel. At only a few dollars each, for once I didn’t break the bank.

Happy Holidays!

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The soft & luxurious tee of your dreams

But it’s not a dream – the Richter Co. based and made in San Antonio, Texas, has made it a reality; the softest tee you will ever own. With their soft textiles and low cut V’s, these craftsmen are bringing local back. And it’s pretty sexy.

Poly-Rayon mix, hand crafted, with a variety of styles like crew necks, pocket tanks and ¾ sleeved tees – made in Texas garments are only a click away. And wow, it’s affordable – less than $20!

The verdict: made right (here) heaven.

And I LOVE the tag.

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Pollution is in your shopping bag too

The World Health Organization (WHO), reports that an estimated 3.7 million people die every year as a result of air pollution exposure, making air pollution the world’s single largest environmental health risk.

On this link to NBC News, there is a video showing air quality in a northeastern town in China, in a heavy industrialized area. The factories and power plants (which mostly burn coal) don’t clean their exhausts at all there, leading to days like this one, when people can’t be outside.

So think about it. Most of what you own is made there. Think about all the decorations, kitchen wear, clothes and shoes you recently picked up because you felt liked it, bored at the mall, whatever, that were probably made in China. The overconsumption of goods in America (and other countries) is polluting the lives of people on the other side of the ocean. Not a big deal that you bought those sneakers? Well, what is needed to run a factory? Energy. Produced in a coal plant. The more manufacturing one does in one place, the higher the energy demand, the higher the pollution.

And then there is that huge ship with all the containers, polluting the world while on its way with brand name sneakers across the pacific.

They more you shop and the more you shop Made in China, the more you personally contribute to the health problems of the people in that video and the overall pollution problem on earth. Think about it.

A Fashionista can’t do this – lucky I’m not one

Almost 6 months into the challenge and it probably goes without saying that I haven’t bought a lot of clothes this year. Yes, stylewise I am at a standstill.

I’ve been looking for cute, ethical garments, but most of the things I liked were off limits. It’s very frustrating to find that the high dollar stores (Anthropology) and the low dollar ones (H&M) all sell clothes from the same places; China, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

More specifically, good looking Made in USA clothes are even harder to find!

Eileen Fisher has a made in USA line, and of course American Apparel is all made in USA, but unfortunately for me, neither brand is really my style. I did discover that you can search on Nordstrom.com after Made in USA and a bunch of things come up. Don’t check out the women’s ballet flats section though – utterly depressing… but lots of lovely dresses and active wear. And as far as I understand, you can return items at a store near you.

As stylish + USA seems somewhat impossible, I surrendered and got some Tory Burch flats and wedges made in Brazil recently. I looked at matching bracelets but they were all made in China. So what happened to all the leftover leather from the Brazilian shoe factory? It wasn’t enough to make bracelets?

I’ll have to accept that I’ll be a bit untrendy summer of 2014 (“that’s so 2013!”). Maybe I’ll get my groove back and find some cute things in the fall. I just need some extra energy, prepare for failure, hope for success, plan to spend a whole weekend shopping and read a gazillion tags…

I can do this!

All the money you will be saving…!

I believe the general perception is that one might need a lot of money to buy “not made in China” items.

It is true that American made products cost more. Cost being defined as “cash out of pocket needed to become the owner of an item”. Not cost for the environment, the world’s resources etc. US products cost more because it costs more to make them (labor, utilities, raw materials, facilities , regulations etc). That makes sense.

However, I like to think about all the money I am actually saving by saying no to Chinese goods. I am sure I am not the only one who sometimes buy things I don’t need.

For example, you know when you stand in line at Starbucks and see a vintage style mug you don’t need but kind of want? Well, you will be saving 10 bucks right there since the label will say made in China.

Maybe you are eyeing another fashionable smartphone case (for your Chinese smartphone). Read the label and it’s a no go! Cute jewelry by the checkout of your favorite store…another fluffy animal for the baby…. You get the picture.

Most likely around 80% of your impulse purchases will stop. Less consumerism, no need for more storage room and more money in your pocket! It’s a win-win! (Your hubby will love the new you! LOL)