Wednesday, April 30, 2008


Notes I wish I had the balls to leave:

Dear Inconsiderate, Selfish Bitch;

Just a note to let you know that you have once again parked your minivan in the handicap parking space at preschool. That's right - HANDICAP - as in physically disabled or impaired.

Despite what you might think, that little logo on the blue background is not a depiction of you and your round, lazy ass. Nor is it a crude representation of you sitting on a throne with the world revolving around you.

I notice that you have parked your vehicle practically sideways (I'm assuming this is to indicate to the rest of us that you are in a great rush). However, taking up TWO handicap spaces at one time gives the appearance that you either you are a double-giant asshole or are drunk.

I get it. You're busy. Guess what? So are the rest of us. We're moms. We're ALL busy. We ALL have errands to run, laundry to wash, and houses to clean. You're not quite as special as you might think.

Also, I can't help but notice your lovely designer track suit, expensive sneakers and bouncy ponytail ensemble. I'm guessing you're hurrying off to an important meeting at your fancy gym. Which makes your parking choice seem not only thoughtless, but also a tad ironic.

In the future, please refrain from parking your smug ass in spaces legally allocated for the physically disadvantaged. After all, I'd hate for some angry eco-dork to park behind you and accidentally block you in.

Not that I would do that.

I hope you fall off your treadmill and have to wear an ankle-to-crotch leg cast. At least then you'd be able to park here legally.



#214 - I Feel Like Hans Brinker - Part Deux

Pfixing the Pfaucet

Last Tuesday I talked about checking for leaks in all of our faucets and toilets. And this past weekend I tackled one of the offending springs: hubby's sink in the upstairs bath. Here's how it went down. Or, rather, how I went down. Under the sink, that is. Get your mind out of the gutter already, this is a family blog. (Actually it's not. If you're under the age of 13, please stop reading now. I tend to use foul language and inappropriate innuendo - and I wouldn't want to be teaching you things that you should rightfully be learning on the school bus.)

Anywhich, back to the sink. I did some research online and found that the most common reason for a leaky faucet is a bad washer inside the faucet - which can easily be replaced for just about the price of a cup of coffee. So I started ripping the sucker apart. I took off the bottom part where the water comes out. Nope, just an aerator there. I took off the stylish 80's knobby part that looks like a plastic star. Nothing there but a dead end. Finally, I tried the last remaining joint - the part where the handle meets the base. No go. I even had hubby give it a try. I swear that connection must have been welded shut. So that meant to fix the leak I'd have to replace the whole damn faucet.

I head down to the 'Depot and pick out another Pflashdance-Pflashback, star-shaped Pfaucet (hey, it may be butt-ugly, but at least it matches the other butt-ugly Pfixtures in the house). Apparently they either produced way to many of these or there's a bigger demand for Pfabulous Pfugly Pfixtures than I thought. It was also quite a bit more expensive than just a washer. It set me back $61. That's a lotta coffee beans, my friends.

I head on home, pull my pants down below the crack of my ass, and immediately start dismantling the old faucet. Demo is definitely my strong suit. I had that sucker outta there in under 10 minutes. Putting the new one in? Well, it probably would have been easier if I'd read the directions, but I stumbled through it and was done and cleaned up in under 90 minutes, start to finish. And that's with the help of my two special apprentices dropping pipe wrenches on my feet every two minutes and trying to crawl into the very small vanity with me while saying "Mommy, I helpa you?"

Long story longer, I was hoping to just replace a washer, but had to replace the entire faucet instead. :-( But, it's done and now it won't be a wasteful drip anymore. :-) I don't want to donate the old faucet to the Habitat ReStore though because it's a leaker. :-( But I will take it down to a local recycler so he can pull off the copper piping and other salvageable metals. :-)

It's just been a roller coaster of emotion as you can tell. Hopefully fixing the crapper won't be so Pfrustrating.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

#213 - End of Discussion: Period.

Yeah. So. Whatever...

I guess it's not as gross as I had originally thought. But I'm still not putting any of it on my tomatoes.


As if you all haven't heard enough gory details about my period and my birth control, I'll recap my monthly schedule. Because I use Mirena, I really don't have a monthly period. Just a couple days of spotting each month, barely enough to justify the disposable pantyliners I've been using. So the savings are small, but still, it's a savings. I'd say, oh, five pantyliners per month.

Difficulty Level:

Because my 'flo is so light, I don't have to worry about pre-rinsing the pantyliners, they just get tossed in the laundry with everything else. For those of you who have a heavier flo, you might want to consider the Diva Cup or The Keeper, as they both seem to have many, many satisfied customers! In fact, Crunchy is having another Diva Cup Challenge in May!

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Giver Wrap Up

It's been almost a month now of giving and I just wanted to say thank you to all who participated in the first Burbanmom Challenge. Together, twenty-five of us donated over $1469.00, 49 bags and 32 hours. And I know that much more was donated than was tallied (ie: Crunchy's Goods4Girls work and her Head Shavin' Shenanigans). I know that I still have about 20 bags of cast offs from following Chile's Cut the Crap Challenge that still need to be taken to Goodwill.

In other news, I will be taking on a couple of new challenges in May, including Crunchy's Extreme Eco Throwdown and Greenbean's Be A Bookworm Challenge. Here's the lowdown on both:

Crunchy has challenged us each to try to do something we otherwise thought would be impossible. We are allowed to choose from seven different challenges: No Plastic, No Paper Products, No Driving, Local Food Only, No Garbage Output, No Excessive Water Usage and No Electricity. We can do a different challenge each week or choose one (or more) to do the entire month. We are allowed one "Day of Rest" per week where we do not have to follow the rules of the challenge. I'm going to do the "No Plastic" challenge for the whole month, just to get a taste of what Beth Terry does every single day. Who knows, maybe I'll find I can go plastic-free too!

GreenBean has put out a challenge that I think will be the easiest one ever. And that's good because I'll need an easy one to balance out The Throwdown. GreenBean is challenging us to read a single, ecologically relevant book in May. Dude, I have FOUR OF THEM on loan from the library sitting on my desk. The real challenge will be picking which one to dig into first. I HIGHLY recommend this challenge to anyone. Whether you're just starting down the eco-path or you've been at so long that you don't remember what Charmin is or where your dryer is located, you'll take away something very valuable from this challenge. So join me, in joining GreenBean on her Be A Bookworm Challenge. I promise it'll be the most pleasant eco-challenge presented this year! (ummm, besides mine, right? ;-)
- Burbanmom

Thursday, April 24, 2008

#212 - Bah, Bah Black Sheep

Have You Any.... Soap?

It was only three months ago that I found Dr. Bronner's Castille Soap and already I'm saying goodbye. It's not that I don't like the product... I do. In fact, I LOVE that soap. It's all natural, organic, and fair trade. It has a great lather and a yummy scent. It's not tested on animals. Hell, it's even got nice packaging. The only, and I mean only downside to that soap is the distance it travels to arrive at my home. You see, Dr. Bronner's soap is manufactured in a factory out in Escondido, California and I live here in Richmond, VA. That means that every bar that finds its way into my home has traveled over 2,550 miles to get here.

Now, I know that since reading Omnivore's Dilemma, we're all working to get our food miles down under the average 1,500 miles traveled per meal. And according to Deep Economy, we should be doing the same for other purchases. And so I am. In fact, I'm going to begin sourcing as many local products as I can and I'm starting with my soap.

Why start with soap? Because I already found it. Last week at the Farmer's Market, I stumbled upon Wild Heaven Farm Handmade Goat Milk Soaps. Mary, the woman who was selling them, was beyond chirpy and upbeat, but I bought from her anyhow. And I found out that she doesn't just sell them, she's also the one who makes them. And she makes them right here in the Richmond metro area.
According to Mary, the soaps are made from "fresh squeezed" goat milk, palm oil, coconut oil, olive oils and, depending on the soap, oatmeal and/or natural essential oils. I picked up the unscented castille-style soap so that I could try it on my face and (hopefully) replace my Neutrogena face bars, in addition to my body soap.

I'm still using up what's left of my existing soaps (no sense tossing them in a landfill, they've already been purchased) so I won't be using the goat soap exclusively for another couple of weeks, but I have given it a test lather and it's amazing stuff! It lathers up nicely and seems like it won't disintegrate after three uses. Also? I don't know if it's just the castille-style (which is extra-moisturizing), but it has left my skin AMAZINGLY soft. It feels like I'm all lotioned up - and not in a greasy way. Of course you know I had to try it on my hair too and it worked quite well. In fact, it left my hair feeling softer than the Dr. Bronners or even the Burt's Bees shampoo.


I picked up my bar downtown at the Farmer's Market last week, less than 25 miles from my home. But get this, after I checked out the brochure, it turns out the goat farm is located just a hop, skip and a jump away (that equates to approximately 15 1/2 miles). But let's not split hairs here, we'll just call it a savings of 2,500 soap-transporting miles.

Assuming I use one bar of soap every two weeks, and each bar of soap weighs 5 ounces, I would be purchasing over 8 pounds of soap per year. Based on the data I found here, that means that it takes .75 gallons of gas to transport my annual soap allotment. Which is not much, but, when you consider I'm going to the Farmer's Market anyhow to pick up my CSA bounty, it is an annual savings of .75 gallons of gas per year.

Again, you're saying "big deal", 3/4 of a gallon of gas. Whoopdie-doo. But what if everyone in the greater Richmond area purchased their soap locally, rather than truck it in from the opposite coast? Why, we'd save over 902,255 gallons of gas each year! And Mary would now be the wealthiest goat-milker this side of the Mississippi. Which is good because I'll bet she'd need some serious carpal tunnel surgery at that point.

Added bonus? Wild Heaven Farm uses even less packaging than Dr. Bronner. Just a simple paper ring around the center of the soap that lists the ingredients. In fact, I'm betting if I asked real nice, I could even get my soap sans wrap.

Difficulty Level:

Super easy. I'm already at the market, I just swing by the Wild Heaven Farm stand and pick up a bar. But you're thinking "homemade soap? that's gonna be pricey as hell". Well, depends on what you're comparing it to, I guess. If you compare it to cheap-ass Walmart brand soap made with a carcinogen-filled chemical concoctions... well, yeah, anything would seem expensive. But really it's not anymore than what I've been paying. Homemade soap from Wild Heaven Farm: $4.00. Dr. Bronner's soap from California: $3.99.

All in all, I'd say this switch isn't half baaaaaaaaad. Unlike that joke.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

#211 - I Feel Like Hans Brinker - Part I

Checking for Leaks

So I'm on a water-saving kick lately. I'm trying to chip away at that Riot Category and get it down as low as possible before summer arrives. It's not really cheating, per se, I just want to see if I can hit the 10% goal now, because I know in a few weeks that number will jump thanks to watering the garden and bathing the stinky kids more often.

And so, I'm diligently checking every sink, tub and toilet in my house for any sign of leaks. Here's how I'm doing it:

At night, I place an empty cup under each sink faucet and go to bed. In the morning, if there's any water in the cup, I know there's a leak. The same system works for the tubs. Our shower heads don't need to be checked since they're both tub/shower combos and the water won't even go up to the shower head unless the pulley-uppey thing on the tub faucet is up (sorry to go all technical plumber jargon on you there).

Toilets, though, are another matter altogether. Mostly, because they're more fun to check. [ECO-DORK ALERT] I remove the tank off the back of the toilet and squeeze in a couple drops of food coloring. Then I leave it be for 20 minutes or so. When I come back, if the water in the bowl is colored, I know there's a leak. That, or, one of the kids needs some medical attention stat. But if the water's still clear, I'm leak-free.

So, as you can guess, this is a two-part change here. I've checked for leaks and found two. Hubby's sink in the upstairs bath and the downstairs toilet. Now I've got to decide whether to tackle these problems myself or call a professional. I think I'll go with my standard M.O. of messing with it until I break it so badly that a professional will be able to charge me double the normal rate to make an emergency visit. That's just the way I like to do things.

#210 - An Eggcellent Idea

Buying Local Eggs

The 17th Street Farmer's Market finally opened last week and I got to head down and see what local, organic foods were to be had this early in the season. Short answer? Not much. It's early yet, and aside from various herbs, flowers, mustard greens and leeks, there wasn't much local produce (where the hell is the asparagus? Isn't that what is usually grown this time of year?). But there was one local farmer that had a few frozen pork products and fresh-laid eggs!

Goodbye organic eggs shipped to me in a refrigerated truck from a distribution warehouse in Ohio. Hello fresh-out-of-the-chute local eggs from free-range chickens in Keysville, VA, shipped to me in a Coleman cooler in the back of Mr. Farmer's truck. And in under 50 miles from my home (as the crow flies). So just like that I've shaved 430 food miles off my egg-salad sandwich. TADA!

As an added bonus, the farmer was happy to use the egg carton I brought from home and, in fact, told me to bring any other egg cartons I had laying around (I actually have five egg cartons that I'll be taking to him for reuse - don't ask).

So far I've only used these eggs in pancakes and friendship bread, but I'll be chefing up omelets this weekend. I can't tell you how excited I am to finally be pecking away at my food miles! Hopefully, as the season rolls on, I'll be able to get that most difficult of Riot Food Categories (food) down to where it should be!


Our family goes through a carton of eggs every 2-3 weeks. So, in the matter of a year, I'll be saving myself 20 egg cartons, plus (and more importantly) the 430 food miles for each carton. Nothing to bawk at!

Difficulty Level:

Despite all my big talk about nutting up, I never actually made it to the Farmers Market last year. I'm glad I went last week, rather than chickening out again. Turns out the Farmers Market is in a very safe, yup-scale part of downtown. Who knew?

So at long last, we have solved the riddle: The chicken came first and then bought her eggs.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Because You Asked For It...

Here's the flyer I did for the kids' preschool. It's double-sided with info for parents on one side and kid-friendly project ideas on the other. If any of you are so inclined to "put yourself out there", feel free to use it however you can! If you want a copy in Word, just email me at emcoe AT verizon DOT net and I'll send you out one that you can edit.

#209 - Engage Others With Motivational Posters

OK, this isn't really one of my changes. Things got a little crazy around here this weekend and I spent a better part of my Sunday in the Emergency Room with Daphne. Poor kiddo is not handling the Richmond allergy season too well and is wheezing her way through spring. So now she is on nebulizer treatments every four hours, which means Mommy's got to do some stealth-steaming tonight at 11 pm and 3 am.

And since I hadn't even thought about Mondays post until now (9:00 pm Sunday night), well... you can see where this is going. Or rather, where it's not going. So instead of spurring you into action with a motivational eco-poster, I'll be giving you something more like this:

or this:

or maybe this:

And, of course, the concept that let me finish this post in under 30 minutes:

So have a good Monday, folks. And if any of you have any exciting plans for tomorrow (Earth Day!) I'd love to hear them! I'm celebrating by passing out my flyer at the kids' preschool and meeting with a landscape designer to get some advice on planting drought-resistant native species in our yards. Later in the week I'll be touring our local recycling facility! Sadly, I am very excited about this!! :-)

Friday, April 18, 2008

#208 - In the Air Tonight

Turning Off the Furnace and the A/C... Again

Well it's that time of year again. The days are getting warmer, the nights are still a little chilly. It's in-between weather that fluctuates between hot and cold, shorts and long johns, or, in the case of my kids "naked" or "wrapped up".

In the past, I'm ashamed to admit, I would have spent my time at the thermostat switching from heat to cool to heat again in order to maintain a relatively constant temperature. But not EcoDorkess. Last fall I learned to live without my furnace and a/c by piling on or taking off clothes. This spring, I'm going to be tuning in to the weather a little more closely to see if I can't find a way to regulate the temps inside.

Previously oblivious to forecasts, I now keep a close eye on the weather. Because knowing whether it's going to hit 60 or 80 means the difference between airing out the house or sweating my ass off at night. It also means the difference between letting the sun shine in or keeping it blocked as much as possible. It helps me decide whether to run the dishwasher in the morning to take advantage of the heat, or wait until dark of night when it won't add to an already too warm house. Should I plan on grilling outside that day or cooking inside? Do I open the windows in the morning to let some cool air in or keep them closed tight until the sun warms us up a bit in the afternoon?

The only investment required here was an outside thermometer and a bit of my time and attention. You see, it's a lot easier to just set the thermostat to 70 and let the furnace and a/c do the work. But if I just slow down. If I just pay closer attention. If I just learn to live a little more deliberately. I can maintain a relatively comfortable, if not constant, temperature in my home. A little more work for me, a little less stress on the environment. Isn't that what living lightly is all about?

And so now I work a little more with the less-polluting resources like curtains, windows and fans; I plan a little of my day around the weather and, as a result, I'm able to rely a little less on the furnace and a/c - the two biggest energy hogs in our home.

And it makes a difference. I know because I see it in my energy bills. Which reminds me... I think I need to update my riot numbers. But not today. It's late, I'm tired and the house is the perfect temperature for sleeping. Good night.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Power OF the People

Get off your butt and do something today

Or better yet, sit right there and do something today. If you're bored, and obviously you are, because you're sitting here reading this, then I've got a couple of projects for you. I promise they won't take long and they're all for very good causes!

Take Back The Filter Campaign

You all know Beth at Fake Plastic Fish is one of my favorite bloggers. She kicks plasstic and I wish I had half the energy, focus and dedication she has when it comes to following up gripes about corporate apathy with bonafide action.

Anyhow, Beth has started a grassroots campaign urge Clorox to take responsibility for the millions of plastic Brita water filter cartridges that are disposed of each year.

The original Brita company in Germany has had a program to collect and recycle used filter cartridges ever since 1992. They process them in their own facility, separating the materials and recycling or reusing them. The North American branch of the company was sold to Clorox in 2000. Clorox has not provided any way to recycle these used cartridges.

Clorox and Nalgene have teamed up with the FilterForGood campaign to encourage people to give up bottled water and opt instead for the combo of reusable bottle and Brita filter, to cut down the amount of plastic bottle waste. This is a great effort. But Clorox has not addressed the plastic waste from the water filters themselves, as the Brita company has done in Europe.

Beth is trying to convince Clorox to follow the principal of Extended Producer Responsibility and provide a way for its filter cartridges to either be refilled or returned and recycled.

So here's how you can help. Please go to now (yes, "now", what the f? You're just sitting there... click on the freakin' link already. But then come back when you're done, because I've got more homework for you.) and sign the petition. Then, start sending your used Brita cartridges to Beth so she can deliver them en masse to Clorox.

The Gap Between Reality and Fantasy

This issue started last week when Orgie posted about the unsolicited plastic bag Old Navy sent her. Around the same time, my sister told me about how Old Navy doesn't reuse or recycle their plastic hangers -- they just toss them in the dumpster. Well, I told Orgie about this and she jumped on it like a drunken quarterback on the prom queen.

Long story short: Orgie is urging everyone to call The Gap (parent company of Old Navy and Banana Republic) and ask them what, exactly, is their policy on hangers. So far, Orgie, Arduous and I have all called and we've gotten three different answers. So just for fun, give them a call at 1-800-GAP-STYLE, option 4, option 4, and then option 2. Let's see if we can't get them to institute a company-wide policy on hanger reuse or, at the very least, a policy on giving a consistent answer to annoying eco-dork inquiries.

More Like a Don't

The Crunchtastic One has decided to bare it all for charity. No, she's not stripping down to let us see if she truly is green all over. She has challenged her blog readers to help her raise money for the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation. If she can raise $10,000 by May 10th, she'll shave her head.

As of this writing, she's just shy of the $2,000 mark. So, if you haven't already contributed (oh hell, even if you have) please just drop a couple bucks in the plate. I'm telling you, every little bit does make a difference. Even if you just skip the morning latte today and donate the $3.00 you save, that would be AWESOME! Thanks!

350 PPM

OK, I've mentioned this new charity before, but wanted to let you know that they're starting to make the presses. After hearing about in my Riot for Austerity Group, I checked it out. It is a brand new organization that is trying to raise awareness of the general public about global warming. ( is from the same people who brought Step It Up to worldwide attention last year.) It has the backing of Bill McKibben, a long time environmentalist and author of several great books including The End of Nature and Deep Economy. (I just finished Deep Economy and I HIGHLY recommend it).

Anyhow, is just trying to get their name out there right now and I'm trying to help. Here's some info from their website:

350 is the red line for human beings, the most important number on the planet. The most recent science tells us that unless we can reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to 350 parts per million, we will cause huge and irreversible damage to the earth.

We’re planning an international campaign to unite the world around the number 350, and we need your help. We need to make sure that the solutions the world proposes to climate change are to scale with the level of crisis that this number represents. Everyone on earth, from the smallest village to the cushiest corner office, needs to know what 350 means. The movement to spread that number needs to be beautiful, creative, and unstoppable.

What we need most right now are on-the-ground examples for how to take the number 350 and drive it home: in art, in music, in political demonstrations, in any other way you can imagine. We hope this project will grow tremendously in the months to come, and it helps all the more if people can see the great things others are doing already. We will connect actions all around the world and make them add up to more than the sum of their parts-but we don’t have all the ideas and all the inspiration. We need you to act on yours.

So if you've got any ideas to help these folks get the word out, by all means, stop by their website and lend them a hand!

Well, I guess that's enough homework for one night. But, if I catch you loitering around here again, you can bet your bippy I'll find you something else to do. Hoodlum.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

#207 - Powder to the People

Switching from liquid dishwashing detergent to a powder

Yes, we're talking about my dishwasher. Again. Seems I just can't stop messing with that nightly routine. It irks me that I don't have the mental will to skip the pre-rinse and so I am trying to compensate by over analyzing all the other aspects involved in making my Corelleware shine.

You may recall that way back in November, I gave up my Cascade in favor of a gentler liquid detergent - Seventh Generation. Great product. Worked like a freakin' charm and without all the phosphates and fragrances. So why change again then?

Well the Liquid 7G comes in a plastic bottle, whereas the Powder 7G comes in a cardboard box. We all know that plastic is a petroleum-based product made from a non-renewable resource and that it cannot be recycled, rather, it can only be down-cycled into fleece, park benches, sleeping bags and whatnot. Cardboard, on the other hand, comes from a renewable resource and, in fact, this particular box is made from recycled fibers. Cardboard can also be recycled many times before the fibers break down too much to be useful.

So really, it's all about the packaging. Not the product.

But as long as we're on the subject of dishwashers, I thought you might like to know that I've worked very hard to minimize the amount of water I use when pre-rinsing. I've got it down to a trickle that I shut on and off while rinsing and I keep the plug in the drain so that I can just swish the silverware around at the end. Anyhow, all this obsessing has dropped my pre-rinse water usage down to a paltry 2 gallons per night. Armed with these reduced numbers, I have since developed a little formula here that proves that, for me at least, pre-rinsing my dishes actually saves energy. I know. I know. I need to let this go, but I CAN'T! Anyhow, here goes:

Pre-rinsing my dishes utilizes two gallons of cold water (I don't use the hot water for pre-rinsing) This allows me to use the short cycle on my dishwasher, which gives me a total of:

  • 2 gallons cold water
  • 6.1 gallons hot water
  • 36 minutes of electricity

This means I've used 8.1 total gallons of water. And at 440 BTU's to heat one gallon of water, we've used 2,684 BTU's of energy (.786 kWh). I've also used .84 kWh for the motor. That totals 1.626 kWh.

If I don't pre-rinse, I skip the 2 gallons of cold rinsing water, however, I'm now forced to use the Heavy Wash setting on the dishwasher to get all the crud off the dishes. This means I'll be using:

  • 0 gallons of cold water
  • 8.5 gallons of hot water
  • 89 minutes of electricity

Broken down, this equates to 8.5 gallons of water, 3740 BTU's (1.095 kWh) and 2.08 kWh for the motor, for a total of 3.175kWh.

So, here's the comparison:

PRE-RINSE: 8.1 gallons and 1.626 kWh vs. HEAVY CYCLE: 8.5 gallons and 3.175 kWh

Hands down winner is the pre-rinsing, saving me over 146 gallons of water and 565 kWh per year! Whew! Now FINALLY I can rinse in peace!

#206 - Spreading The Word

Sharing What I've Learned With Others

Those of you who read my blog know that I'm pretty much a closet-greenie. I make these changes here, in the safety of my own home, without discussing them with the outside world. Why? I dunno. Fear of looking like a tree-hugging hippie? Fear of looking like a freaked-out peak-oil doomsayer? Fear of sounding like an annoying missionary from the Church of Climate Change?

Doubt it. Most likely it's just that same old fear I've had since I was six. Fear of Being Different. Because for whatever reason, I'm one of those fucked up individuals who wants nothing more than to fit in with everyone else. Strange. Double-strange, actually, since I'm also the biggest, loudest attention-seeking ham you'll ever meet.

Well, for a couple weeks now I've been thinking how great it would be if the kids' preschool would do something -- anything -- to celebrate the upcoming Earth Day on April 22nd. And today... guess what I did? Mmmmmhmm. I marched my fat ass down to the preschool office, declared myself EcoDorkess, Lord of the Green Tips, and offered to create an educational flyer to stuff in every kids' cubby.

I held my breath and prepared for the worst. But you know what? It never came. They did not laugh. They did not point. They did not throw rotten tomatoes at me. They didn't even stifle giggles while humming circus music.

In fact, they thought it was a great idea and asked if there were any other eco-activities I'd like to coordinate. Shuh. Yeeaaahhhh!

So this post is gonna have to be short and to the point so I can get to work on the flyer. Did I make a point yet? Oh, guess not. Well my point is: I have amassed a certain amount of eco-knowledge over the past year in my quest to be more green and it's time I shared some of that information with others. Because by sharing our ideas with others, we inspire. And when we inspire, we encourage others to take action. And action, my friends, is what will make the difference in our planet.

So go spread the word, folks. With the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker. Or better yet, with a school near you!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Give Till It Hurts?

Or Just Till It Starts to Go Numb?

So, you've researched your charity and have picked a winner. Now you're ready to donate your hard earned cash or even harder-to-come-by time. How much do you give? Well there is a very simple answer to this question:

It depends.

It depends on what you can afford. It depends on how strongly you believe in the cause. It might even depend on your religious views. It all just depends on so many factors that I can't give you a dollar amount or percentage. But I can tell you what others give.

What The Joneses Give

The average American gives 3.1% of their pre-tax income to charity. So let's say you make $100,000. Presumably, if you're average, you're donating $3,100 per year to charity. But remember, these are averages, greatly skewed by the likes of Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. Right?

Well, kind of. But here's an interesting fact: The individuals who, as a whole, donate the largest percentage of their income? Know who they are? Those who make less than $10,000 per year. Those folks donate about 5.2% of their income. Feeling guilty yet? No?

Well let's bring religion into it then. After all, that always helped increase the guilt factor for my Catholic grandmother. Most churches believe you should give 10% of your money to charity. Of course, they have a vested interest in telling you that, but I leave that topic to someone else (yeah, even Burbanmom has some areas where she doesn't tread!). So if we're still talking an annual income of $100,000, that would be $10,000 of philanthropy.

So, after hearing those numbers... how are you feeling about yourself and your giving? Good? Below average? Right on target? Or still clueless?

Gimme Five!

So, let's say you want to raise the bar above the 3.1% average and "Go for Five" - a 5% annual contribution. But, your spouse is gonna freak out when you ask if it's ok to fork over five grand to save the polar bears. How can you accomplish your giving goal of 5%?

Simple. Do a combination of dollars, donated items and volunteer time to get there. Again, for ease of calculations, let's say your family makes $100,000 per year. There are a number of ways you can get to the $5,000 mark without hurting too much.

Declutter and Give Your Stuff to Charity - $1,000

You'd be surprised how quickly your junk adds up. Imagine if you took all your unwanted stuff and had a garage sale. Except, instead of haggling on pricing and not selling half your crap, you actually sold it all for top dollar. That's basically how donating works. They take almost all of it at Goodwill and if you diligently record all the items you donate, you'll see just how quickly those unwanted items add up!

Donate Your Time - $2,000

According to Independent Sector, the estimated dollar value of your volunteer time is roughly $19.51 per hour. Not bad. Hell of a lot more than I make in my thankless job as stay-at-home-and-clean-up-puke-mom. Oh, sorry... rough week here. But imagine if you just gave two hours per week to your favorite charity. At the hourly rate of $19.51, you'd be donating the equivalent of $2,029.04 in a year.

Cold Hard Cash - $2,000

That's $166 per month. Which might sound a bit scary if you're not used to giving. But try this instead: Donate $25 per week to your favorite charity. This can easily be accomplished through setting up a recurring transaction in your online banking account. Or you might even ask your employer if a payroll deduction could be made. Once you've got your auto-giving set up, you'll be kicking in $1,300 per year with really no effort.

Then, to supplement your weekly donations, change the way you gift-give to adults. Anytime you have a gifting occasion (wedding; baby shower; birthday; anniversary; Christmas; Mother's Day; Father's Day; etc.) instead of giving a "thing", make a $50 donation in the recipient's name to their favorite charity. Assuming you have 16 adult gift-giving occasions per year, you're all set. Bonus? No wrapping required.

Another Heading... Because I Seem To Be Doing That Today

So as you can see, determining how much to give can be as tricky as figuring out where to donate. But with most things in life, you do the best you can. Right now, just try to give more in 2008 than you did in 2007. Maybe you could donate an extra $100 this year. Or take those old toys to the children's hospital, even though it's a little out of your way. Or perhaps this will be the year you finally try your hand at volunteering.

So try to be a giver this year and help a worthy cause. I promise it won't take up all your time or money. And what you get in return is absolutely priceless.

This post is another one in my series on giving. If you haven't yet signed up for The Giving Challenge, it's not too late! The Challenge will be going on for the whole month.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Another Toy Recall

Be on the lookout as you're cleaning out the toychest today. Yet another batch of Chinese produced toys are covered with lead paint. The offending toys were sold at Dollar Stores between October 2007 and December 2007. They look like this:

If you find one of these toys, please take it back to the store for a refund or call the manufacturer at 877-OKK TOYS.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

#205 - Entertaining Myself

Learning More About Environmental Issues Through Other Media

Time for another change here. I'll get back to more giving tips for The Challenge next week. But today I wanted to talk about another change I've been making here. In addition to all the wonderful information I get online, not just from my research but from other bloggers, I've started reading more enviro-books. I've also checked out a DVD or two that I definitely would not have watched a year ago.

Why is this important? Well, it helps me to learn more about these issues that are becoming so near and dear to my heart. Getting information online is great, but it only goes so deep. It tells you the "what to do"s but many times does not delve deep enough into the "how"s and "why"s.

So far, I've read Michael Pollan's Omnivore's Dilemma and the follow-up, In Defense of Food. Both excellent reads that will convince you, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that you can and should stop relying on industrial food products and search out local, sustainably grown (or raised) food instead.

I've read Affluenza and Consuming Kids. Both good books about the unhealthy addiction we Americans have to our consumer goods. Not any big surprises there, though.

I've also read Deep Economy by Bill McKibben, a book I'll also give a hearty "two thumbs up" recommendation. It finally provides me with the proof to something I've known in my heart all along but have been unable to calculate in numbers: That dealing with local sellers (even if they didn't make the product themselves) is better for our environment. Also, that a "community" is more than just a housing development within which your house sits. And finally, that the old models of economics just do not apply to our fragile world and they need to be replaced with something new.

As for videos, they're a little harder to come by. If I do end up finding them in the library or at Blockbuster, I often get them home and end up without having time to watch them before they're due back. I did get to see Who Killed the Electric Car? the other week, though. It was a little disturbing and a bit hopeful all at the same time. Disturbing to think that the combined strength of industry and politics seems to continually have us by the balls. But hopeful to know that the technology IS here.

I'm a total eco-slacker though, in that I STILL have not watched An Inconvenient Truth. I'm surprised no one has taken my composter away for that one!
So the moral of this change is that you can't rely on one source (even the internet) for all of your information. Take some time to read or watch something that's not online. Odds are you'll gain a much, much deeper understanding of the subject matter than you would just browsing the net.

#204 - Finding Your Perfect Match

Where the Smart Money Goes When It Comes To Giving

Here is the second tip in a series of installments related to The Giving Challenge that's happening here at the House of Green. It's not too late to sign up, just leave a comment with your name and site if you want to join!

Want to give a little green for good? That's fan-doodley-tastic! But before you whip out that checkbook and start writing down numbers, do a little number reading. Make sure that charity you're about to bestow your gift upon is really worthy of your funds.

Well that sounds harsh, doesn't it? Giving is supposed to be about community, sharing, warm fuzzies and all that mushy stuff. It's something we do because, in our heart, we know it is right. We like the feeling we get when we give to a worthy cause. Sometimes a vivid description of starving children is told... sometimes a picture of a dying bird caught in an oil slick. How can you not just fork your wallet over to the all those nice people who are trying to fight the injustices of the world?

Let's start with:

1. Just because they're nice doesn't mean they're smart.
2. And it also doesn't mean they're entirely altruistic.

The directors of the organization may be so messed up that they blew all their donations on legal fees and new computers when it should have been spent on food for the starving kids. Or maybe they spent most of the donations on their own inflated, executive-style salaries and then used the ten dollars leftover to buy a bottle of Palmolive. The bottom line is, if you want to get the most bang for your buck out of your charitable donations, you need to do a little homework.

You might want to make your first stop on this fact-checking tour be the Network for Good website. It is a wealth of information regarding thousands upon thousands of charities. It is very, very user-friendly. You can find a charity simply by typing in a couple of keywords and selecting whether you want to donate or volunteer (or both). If you want, you can even narrow your search by city and state.

For instance, I typed in "Environment", selected both 'donate' and 'volunteer', then narrowed my search to Virginia. I was offered 984 possibilities for donations and 56 opportunities for volunteering. WOW! But it gets even better. If I click on any of these charities, I'm taken to a page where I can either make a donation or learn more about the charity in question. By clicking on the View Full Report, I'm able to learn a great deal about the organization.

Once I open the report, I am able to see their Missions, Programs, Government Codes, Goals and Results, as well as their most recent published financial data. Now, you can learn a lot about their ideals and such in the former areas, but the latter part? Them thar numbers? Well, they just don't lie. You can see exactly how much money they bring in and how it is spent. You want to see expenses that show a higher proportion of Program Services to Administration and Other. In fact, to be considered a successful charity, the ratio should be at least 4:1. The only time this should be lower is during the first few years of startup, which is when most funds are spent on building the infrastructure of the organization.

If you want to dig even deeper into a particular charity's finances, you can also check out their IRS form 990, filed annually by all registered US charities and available online at For you fellow Mathletes and Tax Nerds, this is where you'll find the really juicy stuff, like the salaries of the highest paid employees and the independent contractors they hire for professional services. Good stuff.

So I guess what I'm saying is that finding a good charity is like finding a good husband. Sure, you may first be attracted by a big sob story or just a general feeling of pity. But before you take that stroll down the aisle, a smart woman will run a credit check on him to make sure he knows his debits and credits from his franks and beans.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

#203 - Checking In

Donating Books to a Library

This is the first in an installment of tips to help you "Be A Giver". If you haven't signed up for the challenge yet, it's not too late. In fact, we're open 24-7 here at Going Green so it's never too late (Although we do shut down the back dining area between 2am - 3am each night to clean the tables and refill the salt shakers).

Anyhow, I know the most convenient thing to do when making donations is to pack all your crap up and drop it all at one place like Goodwill or Salvation Army. And that's good, but you can do better. After all, that book will be purchased by one individual and will most likely go live on their bookshelf for several years. And really, what good is that? You've decluttered your home by recluttering someone else's.

Try to assess your items to determine where they will get the most use. The obvious choice, for books at least, is the library. If you choose to donate to a public library, it may put on the shelves to be loaned out to many others, or (more likely) it will be sold at one of their fundraisers. But at least there's a chance it will be put into circulation. Ask your librarian to be sure.

But don't think of your public library as your only choice. Many smaller (ie: desperate) libraries will be happy to take your donations and put them in the stacks. Great options here are college and university libraries; high school, middle school and elementary school libraries; preschool libraries; private libraries at nursing homes and retirement community centers; hospital libraries; prison libraries; military base libraries; the list goes on. Basically, anywhere there is higher learning or bored masses, you'll likely find a library.

I know, I know you're thinking "Dude, I'm just trying to donate some freakin' books to a charity. Don't make this harder than it needs to be". Well I'm not. And let's drop the attitude, shall we?

The bottom line is, you're trying to do something good. But why not go the extra step and make sure you're doing the most good you can with your donation. Because you know what? It's still WAY EASIER than hosting a garage sale!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008


Daphne was out of commission most of last week with the lovely rotovirus. Yeah. Lots of fun. Well guess who's got it now? That's right, yours truly. This video pretty much sums up how I'm feeling today.

So if I'm a little slow to update tallies, participants and recipients, forgive me! :-)

#202 - PS...

Adding Enviro Post Scripts to My Emails

So, a couple of weeks ago, I get an email from my friend Jennifer* and at the bottom, right under her signature line, it says "Each day you wake up is always a good day! :-)". I read it, it makes me smile, and then I totally rag on her about it. Because that's the kind of friend I am (I know, you are SHOCKED that I'm not more popular, aren't you?!).

Anyhow, she goes on to inform me that it's something her Karate instructor tells them, that every day is a fresh chance to start anew with a positive attitude. Very zen stuff. Highly motivational. And much better than what I thought it implied which was: "That day that you don't wake up?... well that day's not gonna be so good". Anyhow, by adding this message as a post script to her email signature, she's able to share this cheery thought with others every time she sends out an email.

And you know what? It works. Because every time I see it, I still smile. And that improves my attitude, if even just for a moment.

So I decided, hey, if it works for happy, motivational thoughts, then why not use it for scary-ass, end-of-the-world, peak-oil, dying-polar-bear messages? Then I re-thought that thought (are you still with me?) and decided that maybe there's some middle ground between zen messages and a panic messages. And that middle ground is: eco-tip messages.

And so I've added an "Erin's Green Tip o' The Month" message to my signature line. I'll update it each month with a new helpful tip that will hopefully inspire others to take steps toward a greener future. If nothing else, it will definitely let anyone I email know that I'm a true-blue greenie. April's tip is:

Did you know you can change your energy supplier to a clean source such as wind, solar or biomass? The cost to you is only a penny or two per kWh, but the gain to the environment is huge! Check out the Green Power Network's page at to see if green power is available at your home!

Ok, it's a little wordy, I admit, but hopefully it will be read by at least a couple of individuals who go "huh? Really? OMG, I MUST CHECK THIS OUT NOW!!!". Or maybe they'll just say "Ohhhhhhh, I get it. She's an ECO-FREAK. Well, that explains a lot."

Anywhich, adding a signature line is super simple. At least in Outlook and Outlook Express. If you want to add eco-messages to all your outgoing emails, without having to type them in every time, you send an email, just follow this simple 42-step process:

In Outlook, Click on Tools... then select Options. Click on the Mail Format Tab and at the bottom you'll see an area labeled Signature. Click on Signatures to create a signature. In this new dialogue box, click on New... then give your signature a name. In the Preview box below, type in whatever you want your signature to be. (I have my Name, my blog link, my VMS link and under that is my eco-tip). Once you've got your signature set up the way you want it, click OK. Now you should still be on the Mail Format tab of the Options box. Go ahead and select your new signature from the drop down boxes in the Signature area. You can choose to put it only on new messages, or just replies/forwards, or for both. I put it on everything. When you're all set, click OK on the Options box and you're done! Easy peasy.
So what do you think? Is this about the easiest way to spread the word or what? It's definitely a lot cheaper than that ad I was going to take out in Times Square.

*Jennifer is her actual name, I was too lazy to come up with a fake name to protect her identity. And yet, I just took the time to type out this elaborate footnote. Go figure.

Monday, April 7, 2008

The Giving Challenge

Have you noticed there are some seriously challenging challenges happening this month? I'm talking about hard-core, anti-shopping, clean-the-crap-out kind of stuff? I'm refering, of course, to Crunchy's Buy Nothing Challenge and Chile's Cut the Crap (De-Clutter) Challenge. Between these two of them, I feel like our home is fasting for 30 days while getting weekly enemas. If this doesn't clean us out, I don't know what will.

Well, to distract me from all my non-spending, I've decided to create a little challenge of my own. One that fits in nicely with those other two.... it's "The Giving Challenge".

Since I know you're not buying anything this month and are, in fact, getting rid of stuff - it would seem that you have an overabundance of either cash or crap. And so, I challenge you to take those unspent dollars or unloved possessions and donate them to a charity. Preferably one that is tied to an environmental cause.

I'm not asking for your life savings here. Just a portion of what you might otherwise have spent this month on new consumer goods. And if you're hoeing out, consider giving your stuff to charity instead of craigslisting or garage sale-ing it all. If you can't spare any cash right now (hey, we've all been there, right?) and you're not de-cluttering, why not donate some of your time to a local charity?

So if you'd like to sign up for the "The Giving Challenge", simply leave your name and website address (if you have one) in the comments. I'll list all the participants in my sidebar. Then, go ahead and paste my pathetically lame doo-dad on your site with a link to the challenge. Whenever you make a donation - be it cash, goods or time - drop me a line at emcoe AT verizon DOT net to let me know and I'll add the amount to the tally and a link to the charity under the recipients list. Don't feel like you can't just donate $1 here or $2 there. I won't judge you. And you know me, I'm a firm believer that every little bit adds up!

Let's see how much money, goods and time we can total up by the end of April!

I tried to put in the source for the lame-doo dad, but being rather "challenged" myself, gave up after half an hour of unsuccessful attempts. You can just save the jpg to your site or just link the old fashioned way... with words :-)

Friday, April 4, 2008

#201 - Hoe Down

Joining Chile's "Cut The Crap" Challenge

Chile is at it again! She has created a new De-cluttering Challenge to go hand-in-hand with Crunchy Chicken's Buy Nothing Challenge. Chile challenges us to not only buy nothing new this month, but to rid ourselves of all the useless crap we've accumulated through the years.

Even if you've never read Affluenza, you know that most of us Americans are Kings and Queens of Consumption. We buy things we don't need, just because they're pretty, or shiny, or -- the big killer -- ON SALE. Now this wouldn't be too awful these purchases were consumables like local food and CSA subscriptions or if they were true daily use items like toaster ovens and drying racks. But they're not.

Testament to this fact is that most of us have closets or maybe even rooms bursting with pure, unadulterated crap. Shit we bought at the dollar store... Toys our kids got as presents that they don't play with and never did... Decorations that match neither our decor nor our taste... books that we've read once but won't read again... clothes that our fat asses will never squeeze into without removing body organs... need I continue?

No, I needn't. And you know why? Because one of those statements hit true with you. And if not, I'm sure you could think up your own statement to match your Personal Crap Collection.

Well Chile says "Enough! Hoe it Out! Pare it Down!" And I tend to agree. And so I will be Hoeing Down (or Paring Out, not sure yet) this month in an effort to de-clutter my home and my life. Keep a close eye on Chile's site as she is chock full of helpful information to get you started!

And stay tuned to Burbanmom as well. I've come up with my own little challenge to go hand-in-hand.... ummm....-in-hand with Crunchy's and Chile's Challenges. But don't worry... you know how lazy I am. Mine will be pretty easy. A challenge for the challengely-challenged, if you will. Watch for it on Monday* when I return!

*Big thanks to Melinda at Elements in Time who introduced me to her Technology-Free Challenge. I learned that the world does not dissolve if I'm not online (it only melts a little)**. As such, I am going Techno-Free on weekends and will no longer be posting on Saturdays in Sundays. This will give me lots of time to work on my garden! :-)

**That's a global warming joke. Get it?***

***I really like these asterisk-style footnotes today.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Using Graphs to Illustrate a Point

#200 - Crunch Time

Giving Up My Fabric Softener Entirely

As predicted by Green Bean and Wendy, I have quickly become addicted to line drying my clothes. I have gone beyond the drying rack and the garage clothesline and have added a retractable 5 string clothesline in the laundry room. Between those three options and the deck railing, damn near everything in my house is being line-dried.

*WARNING: "Duh" moment straight ahead*

wait for it.... wait for it....

Well why the hell am I still pouring fabric softener in the machine every time I wash towels? That doesn't make sense, does it? It seems silly to "soften" the towels before you purposely "crunchen" them. God, sometimes I hate being blonde.

So, even though my towel softener of choice was Seventh Generation's relatively benign liquid softener, none is always better. Eco-wise, that is.


Back in September, I began using dryer balls to help soften the clothes, but when I still added the fabric softener (just a little) to loads with towels and pajamas. Sadly it has taken me almost two freakin' months to reach the "DUH" moment. Geez, a mind really is a terrible thing to waste, isn't it?

So my savings will be one bottle of 7G Liquid Fabric Softener (and the plastic bottle it comes in) every 6 months or so. That's two bottles of softener per year. Not a ton, but all these little changes help me to chip-chip-chip away at my plastic bottle use until one day soon I'll be down to nothing. How cool would that be? I could go head-to-head in a no-holds-barred plastic-shunning showdown against Fake Plastic Fish. Well, I'm not there yet... but someday.

Difficulty Level: 0 out of 5

Can I give things a 0 out of 5? Well, it is my blog. So, yeah. I can.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

#199 - Brusha Brusha Brusha

Choosing a Greener Toothbrush

Brush your teeth. Round and round.
Circle small, gums and all.
A small, soft toothbrush the round-and-round way, will keep your gums healthy and stop tooth decay.
So brush very carefully three times a day.
Go round and round. Round and round.

OK, those of you between the ages of, I'd guess 30 - 40, are all singing along and reminiscing about Captain Kangaroo and Mr. Greenjeans. The rest of you, however, are starting to wonder if I'm off my freakin' rocker. The good news? You're all correct. There are no wrong answers here.
Today's post, if you haven't guessed already, is about brushing my teeth. Which, btw, I only do twice a day and I do the up-and-down thing, not the circle small. Does that make me a bad person? No. What does make me a bad person is the fact that, for the past five years or so, I've been using an electric toothbrush. Yes, apparently Burbanmom is too lazy to move her wrist up and down for four minutes a day. Well look out Richard Simmons because from now on, that's going to be my new exercise regimen.

Yes, last week my electric toothbrush finally kicked the bucket. I replaced it with a new eco-friendly alternative - the Preserve Toothbrush. According to their website:

The Preserve's handle is made of polypropylene. It is an efficiently recycled material--its strength does not break down in the recycling process. Polypropylene's recycling efficiency means it is commonly reprocessed and cleaned... Polypropylene is available in many sources of post-consumer and pre-consumer recycled plastics, labeled #5. Presently our main source is from recycled Stonyfield Farm® yogurt cups... The Preserve's materials are also completely recyclable. The handle and bristles are effectively recycled together--the polypropylene and nylon actually strengthen as they combine in the recycling process. Preserve's postage-paid envelope assures that your used brush will be turned into plastic lumber.

So that's nice, right? After I use it for six months I can mail it back to them and they'll downcycle it for me. OK, it's not as earth-friendly as using my finger, or brushing with a willow branch or something, but it's definitely a step in the right direction. And so, in honor of my new toothbrush, I present to you my version of the Tommy Toothbrush jingle (sung to the tune of Three Blind Mice):

Brush your teeth. Up and down
Unplug from the wall, it's not hard at all.
A small soft toothbrush made from poly-propylene.
Will keep your teeth healthy and you'll feel a little green.
But not in a green-teeth way, cuz that doesn't seem clean.
Go brush your teeth. Brush your teeth.

[Sitting here, waiting for Preserve to call me and either offer to buy my song or pay me to stop]


Two batteries (albeit rechargeable ones) every six months. Also will avoid all the impossible-to-open clamshell packaging they use to encase the replacement heads.

Difficulty Level: 1 out of 5

It's nice to go back to a manual brush. Really. I screwed up when I bought this one, though and got a soft bristle brush instead of a medium. Now I'm stuck with it for six months. Oh the hardships I must endure to be green.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

#198 - Consuming - Goods or Bads?

Joining Another Crunchy Challenge

FACT: I have been trying to Compact since last fall.
FACT: I suck at it.
FACT: Nothing motivates me quite like a Blog Challenge

Buy Nothing Challenge - April 2008

So thanks to Crunchy Chicken's Buy Nothing Challenge, I'm back on the bandwagon. For a full month. In April. When the tax refund will come in. What the hell am I thinking?

For those of you who aren't familiar with the concept of Compacting, here's the lowdown:

It started in San Fransisco when a small group of friends made an informal vow not to buy anything new in 2006, as a way to break from the consumerism of America. Since that time, The Compact has grown dramatically and includes "Compacters" from all over the US, Canada, Mexico, Europe and even as far as Australia and Hong Kong.

The credo of The Compact is based on the Mayflower Compact and is as follows:

1) to go beyond recycling in trying to counteract the negative global environmental and socioeconomic impacts of U.S. consumer culture, to resist global corporatism, and to support local businesses, farms, etc. -- a step, we hope, inherits the revolutionary impulse of the Mayflower Compact;
2) to reduce clutter and waste in our homes (as in trash Compact-er);
3) to simplify our lives (as in Calm-pact).

The rules for compacting are pretty simple:

#1 - No purchases of brand new stuff - save food, toiletries, medicines, underwear and work-required items
#2 - No, you can't cheat, See Rule #1

It's pretty simple. Don't buy shit. If you do need to buy something you have oodles of alternatives... you can hit the thrift store, check out craigslist, post on freecycle, cruise the garage sales, borrow from your neighbor, or, God forbid, dig through your own crap to see if you can cobble up something that will meet your needs. If all else fails, I do allow myself to purchase locally-produced, hand-crafted items, but that's probably cheating.


It's difficult to calculate the savings on this, since it's hard to guesstimate what I might have spent. However, if I take the past 12 months' average consumer goods spending (which includes Christmas spending and several significant home improvement projects like replacing our leaking hot water tank), I can estimate it would be somewhere in the $975 range. Yikes. According to a Professor at Syracuse University, every consumer dollar we spend puts .5 lbs of carbon into the atmosphere. So my month of compacting will, theoretically, reduce my family's carbon footprint by nearly 500 pounds.

Difficulty Level: 4 out of 5

Ooooohhhh, it's so hard to get that refund in the mail and NOT go on a "buying green products spending spree"! But this is actually great timing for me. I have definitely drifted away from Compacting over the last couple months and have gone overboard on the buying. And now is a good a time as any to draw in the reins a bit.

I Compacted for a month before (July 2007) and I know that shopping, for me at least, is a simple addiction. One that is easily broken by staying out of the stores - both in person and online. Instead, I'll be heading to the library more often and getting my "fix" at garage sales and - in just two short weeks -- the farmer's market!