This blog was started, and is intended to illustrate that environmentalism happens through small acts, is not difficult, and that it does not always have to be some big life changing event that forces you to live in the tree tops with no electricity. All that being said, one of my small acts was to start this blog to gain some friends to help me save the world.
I was blown away the other day, I was expecting the worst, and was shocked to hear an answer I so wanted to hear. Let me explain. I am obsessed with this food stand at our local farmers market. They serve the best veggie coconut curry ever. The downside was it was served in styrofoam. Well that was a bit off putting for me. So I asked the guy working as I was walking by if I brought my own container would he still be able to serve me. Expecting a big fat NO or that is against some sort of stupid regulations, instead I got a big fat YES! How thrilling to hear a yes every once in a while. And not only that but I was told many people do it that way, oh there is power in numbers! And so hear we come full circle back to Leftover Love, the incentive: the delicious curry (in moderation of course, for no other reason than my wallets sake) and the perk is not having guilt of throwing styrofoam into the landfill. I am telling you this can totally work, we just have to work together. The win for the food stand is, as the gentleman serving me mentioned, that he knows the spoon/serving size so he can charge me accordingly without having to use his containers as a form of measurement, and he mentioned he does not have to use his containers!!! (Not sure what it is called in writing when you repeat yourself, but thought it would help drive the point home) that the gentleman realized the cost savings when he does not have to use his containers (did I say that already).
So go out there, ask questions, you may actually get the answer you want, and be a yes (as my old yoga studio used to say) it may surprise you have effective being positive can be.
Have you ever met those people that just make everything they do look so easy. Well I have recently, our fabulous new neighbors Megan and Chris. I thought that after our move a few months ago I was doing good keeping the clutter down and trying in my own way to be a Charlotte version of a "minimalist" (using the term very gingerly here). Well after seeing the neighbors house I must admit that I look like a complete hoarder, not so great when you have a blog about cutting back (gulp, and sigh!). So I asked Megan to write a guest post for the blog on how she does. Remember this blog is all about the simple things we can do in our day to day to help reduce, so without further ado here is the fabulous Megan to help me, I mean us, on some easy ways to do that. Read it, good advice coming from someone who actually knows what she is talking about!
Greetings and salutations! I am Megan, Charlotte’s neighbor. When I’m not creating tongue-twisting alliterations (see: blog title), one can usually find me residing in my 500 square foot abode. In fact, for the past six years, all three homes I lived in were 500 square feet or less. As a double dare to my life, I added another roommate to the minute living space mix, my fiancé, Chris! (I will exercise my mathletic prowess here: that means 250 sq. feet per human.) Here our four ways that I maintain moderate minimalism:
1. Identify What Brings You Happiness and Invest in that: A year and a half ago, I sold nearly all of my worldly possessions and travelled to Argentina with Chris. Moving is a great opportunity to edit your life as it imposes an evaluation of what to keep, even in less extreme circumstances than mine. I found that the sickening sum of the material items I had accumulated over the years couldn’t bring the happiness that a single meaningful conversation provided. It was a significant lesson: things don’t make me happy; experiences and people do.
2. Be Mindful of Purchases: When we returned to the states, we did so with a Camry that was halfway full! We rented a small space knowing that the more room you have, the more you will need to fill it.Still, when a 500 square foot house echoes, it’s time to start filling it up! While it was tempting to buy ready-made objects and expedite the furnishing process, we opted to re-purpose older furniture and were pleasantly surprised with how rewarding it was. For the first two months, our backyard became a DIY workshop (sorry neighbors!) and one-by-one, we filled our space with a style that we crafted. Literally!
3. Walk Away: While I love to do-things-myself, I draw the line when too many tools are involved. Shopping can be a little overwhelming for me with the agro salespeople and so.many.options. To cope with this, my strategy is to take flight instead of fight! In other words, I put the item down and bounce! If I continue thinking about it, I will return to purchase it, but more often than not, I find that I can’t even remember what I had picked up.
4. One-in-one-out: I traffic the material items entering my house like an imposing bouncer at a club! Before I purchase or accept one item, another item must vacate to make room.
I have a problem (shocker I know) but I wanted to let you know openly, as I cannot hide it any longer, I hate (yeah I said hate) greenwashing. Do not get greenwashed (aka suckered) into something, as I recently did. I had a blonde moment (I can say that b/c I am blonde, and I am am owning it ;) ) in a shop the other day and I bought something I shouldn't because of the pretty label that was calling to me. Oh and also the fact that it had a very well known ecological nonprofit logo on it. I thought hey I can bypass reading this label, it has to be safe if the aforementioned (can I say that and be taken seriously if I am not in a court room??) nonprofit is endorsing it. Well guess who was 100% totally and completely wrong, that's right, this girl. When I finally do get around to reading the label I find that well known non-profit does NOT endorse anything made by the company, but instead the products parent company just pays royalties to plaster the logo of the nonprofit all over their stuff. What a crock. But unfortunately that is the way of things right now, and I was the sucker that fell for it. Not OK, shame on everyone involved, including me.
The key to a lot of issues, including greenwashing, is education. Educate yourself and be aware. Keep researching, figure out what you are OK with and what you are not, and shop accordingly. For example I avoid all P&G products (this parent company hides behind a lot of names), I look for cruelty free, I try very hard to stay away from products with palm oil (again this sucker hides under a lot of names and is in a lot of different products, see below*). We are going to table the palm oil discussion for a different day. And I try (try being the key word here) to reduce waste by shopping for things with limited packaging. I am not perfect (case in point this post), I get that, but I there is effort being made. But the point here is still, READ. Pretty packaging does not mean pretty stuff. If you love a certain product make sure you are OK with every aspect how it is made and sold and if not then find a better alternative that you are OK with. And if there is not one, then make it (oh sure Charlotte you say, but I have faith in you I know you can)!
Look no one is perfect but we can be better, not perfect but better, shoppers the more educated we are. I know everyone is saying it, but buy local whenever you can, and stop buying from those big companies who think we are all dumb enough (gulp) to buy something if it only looks good, or make it yourself. Look I get there is a flaw with the overall "system" of things. But you can do something really simple, use your wallet to change the status quo. Vote against those companies through the use of economics. They suffer without it, because money talks sister. So create that change by being educated shoppers ( please note I am aware of some bigger economic and environmental concerns that could be addressed just not trying to put everyone to sleep, including myslef, every time a post is read) force those corporation dummies to make better stuff. Don't let greenwashing happen to you!
*Side note: these ingredients are definitely palm oil or derived from palm oil: Cetyl Palmitate, Elaeis Guineensis, Epoxidized Palm Oil (UV cured coatings), Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Hydrated Palm Glycerides, Octyl Palmitate, Palm Oil, Palm Fruit Oil, Palm Kernel, Palm Kernel Oil, Palm Stearine, Palmate, Palmitate, Palmitic Acid, Palmityl Alcohol, Palmitoyl Oxostearamide, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-3, Palmolein, Saponified Elaeis Guineensis, Sodium Kernelate, Sodium Palm Kernelate, Sodium Palmate (Please see Philadelphia Zoo for more info).
Here is the thing about me, call it a personality flaw or whatever you like, but at times I can be easily overwhelmed. I want to do so much, and sometimes there are just not enough hours in the day. Blahblahblah, I know you have heard it all before, and guess what so have I, since I am usually the one saying it. But when I stop whining, I can create a moment of clarity and realize I am not supposed to do it all, but I DO have to do something.
So the "something" I did the other day was a beach clean up. I was naive enough to think that this would be easy, since it was a nice beach in a nice area. Hot damn was I wrong, people can be slobs apparently no matter where you go.
But I will not bore you with how disgusting people can be (sure you know that already), or what I picked up, or the amount of trash we found. But what I will share is my point, which I am sure you already know by now, but I will say it again to drive it home. I was doing something, I was not whining about how I should be doing something (which I am quite good at it). And you know what it, that is all it takes some times to feel less overwhelmed and more motivated to go out and do more. I am just saying, it is worth a try at the very least. Don't get me wrong, I know I can always do more, I am not preaching trust me, this really is a small act. But we all have start somewhere and do something!
So I wanted to share very quickly one of those little secrets that I discovered that actually works. I read a natural way to hide scratches and blemishes in wood furniture was to add a little coconut oil to the scratch. Well holy heck it works. I know coconut oil is all the rage right now, and I must admit I am have jumped on this band wagon. It is good stuff, and this is just the beginning of all the possible uses. For more ideas check out 101 Uses for Coconut Oil
Sorry for my little hiatus. I am sure there have been a lot of sleepless nights wondering why I have been denying so many of my wonderful writing (gag!). I have no good excuse why I have been away, and will not even try to make up a bad one to burden you. But fear not I am hear now. So as I get myself back into action be prepared to be wowed, well ok lets be real, at least see some new posts. Be ready...dundundun!