Archive for the ‘Shopping’ Category

Day 94 – New Clothes


You want some new clothes, but if you’ve been following along with my blog you might be, as I am on occasion, nervous about it because, once again, you’re delving into new territory.  Have no fear!  Here are some tips to help you make better choices when buying new clothes.

1.     Look for natural fibers.  Cotton, linen, and wool are some of my favorites.  If they are dyed with natural, vegetable-based dyes, this is preferred.  However, perfection is rare if nonexistent right now.
2.     Choose high-quality, long-lasting clothes.  Note: price is not necessarily a determining factor when choosing quality.  My lined, wool slacks are in a classic cut.  They are high-quality and ubiquitously styled to last a long time yet they came from an outlet store.
3.     Newer to the market are ultra stain-resistant and odor-repellant fabrics that don’t need to be washed as often.  I understand the water conservation part of this choice, but these fibers are man-made and not suited to my preference for tactile feel and breathability.  This choice is great for workout clothes, though!
4.     Made locally.  I know that jeans made in the USA are several times the price of those imported from around the world, but there are benefits to shopping locally.  Because of American consumerism, my friend told me that ships come here full and many go back empty.  This multiplies fossil-fuel use and carbon emissions.
5.     Mix and match.  Choosing your base wardrobe so that many pieces work together minimizes the need for new clothes.  Use unique accessories to change the style.

Day 83 – Clean with Cherries

Cherry Scour Off

Imagine cleaning your house feeling nauseated and getting a headache from the toxic cleaners mixing in the air.  What if you could smell the fresh, clean scent of real cherries instead?  This is the cleanser that I use for the jobs around the house requiring a mild abrasive.  Scour Off is safe and nontoxic.  It is a paste that only requires a little portion to work with mighty power to clean a variety of surfaces.  In my house, I use it on porcelain, laminate, and stainless steel – wherever I might use the abrasive cleaners that come in a bottle at the store.

What makes Scour Off better than store-bought cleaners?
1.     It is safe and nontoxic.
2.     It does not offgas toxic fumes into the air.
3.     It is made out of cherries.
4.     It will biodegrade naturally once rinsed down the drain.
5.     The manufacturer is carbon-neutral certified.

Click here for more information:

Day 80 – Recycled Sailcloth Bags

Recycled Sailcloth Bags by Ella Vickers

What happens to sails from sailboats when they are too worn out for their intended use?  In this case, Ella Vickers makes them into attractive, durable, and eco-friendly bags!  These bags feature the lettering from the sails.  The truly recycled bags have a lot of character and made me wonder what kind of adventures they had been through.  I saw these bags at a festival in Chicago, but you can learn more about them and purchase them online at  

Other than tote bags, the company makes a lot of other items with recycled sailcloth.  Check for the word “recycled” though, because not all of their products are made from recycled sails.  You can also contact the company if you have a sail that you want to recycle!

Making products out of recycled items in this way is called repurposing.  In the future, I hope that products are designed from the beginning to be repurposed.  The fact is that for now, we don’t know if there are chemical stabilizers and additives in the material for the originally intended product that may become problematic when in contact with human skin for long periods of time when used as a part of a new product.  For instance, a UV stabilizer added to a material to keep it from fading in the sunshine could be a suspected or known carcinogen.  We don’t know much about this.  Is it better to keep a product out of a landfill or is it better to pollute the Earth mining new materials?  For now, I would choose the recycled item!

Day 64 – Eco Friendly Shoes

Shoe Tree

When it comes to shoes, it is tough to find a good eco-friendly option.  Nike, Keen, and others are just touching the tip of the iceberg in this area.  Nike collects old sneakers and transforms them into sports surfaces or other things creating a closed loop system that minimizes waste.  That is good, but what about toxins in shoe materials that erode onto sidewalks and trails?  What about shipping shoes around the world and the carbon impact on the planet?  What about natural materials like leather that have been treated with carcinogens during the tanning process and then coming home to live with us and to be worn on our feet sometimes with no socks???

I think you can see where I am going with this.  It is impossible to find the perfect eco friendly shoes right now.  If you find some, please let me know!  For now, my newest casual shoes are from Keen and Nike.  They’re not perfect, but they’ve come farther than other brands in my opinion.

In the meantime, instead of trashing them, take your old sneakers to a Nike store for recycling!

Sources: and

Day 48 – Use Freecycle

Treasure Chest

Okay, so you’ve been cleaning your house and you found some really good stuff.  It’s too big to sell online and you don’t have enough stuff for a garage sale.  What do you do?  Use Freecycle!  This website connects you with people in your area who want or need what you have.  You agree to give your item away for free and arrange for pickup or drop-off with the person who wants your item.

It works the other way, too.  Let’s say you need a dining table.  You can search for tables in your area, contact the current owner of the table, and arrange to pick it up!   …for FREE!

Some examples of posts in my area today include:
Wanted: Hockey Sticks
Offer: Under the Counter Can Opener
Offer: Child-sized Table
Wanted: Any Sewing Machine 

A friend of mine uses Freecycle for both offering items and getting items.  It’s better than a direct barter system because everyone is trading things for free that they actually need.  I’d love to hear if any of you have also used this system successfully.

Source: Freecycle’s Website

Day 33 – The Skinny on “Stuff”

Which stuff do we really need to buy?


Stuff – It is all around us in our homes, in stores, and at work.  Our society tells us that we need to upgrade our electronics constantly and that our clothes are out of style so UPGRADE.  The barrage of messages has led to a consumeristic society where people don’t think about how their stuff was made, or where, or by whom but instead think about how cheap can I get it and how soon can I buy it. 

Watch this video.  It was very enlightening to me the first time that I saw it, and I continue to tell others to watch it.  The Story of Stuff 

Then, take a look around you.  How much stuff do you have that you really don’t need?  When you go shopping the next time, ask yourself why you are purchasing each item.  Do you need it?  Are you feeling sad or lonely and the thrill of a purchase might cheer you up?  Some people buy stuff that is small and cheap to fill a void.  Well, it adds up over time to hundreds and maybe thousands of dollars.  What could you do with an extra thousand dollars? 

I know, I know – like trying to walk past the ice cream shop on a hot day, it can be hard to change our ways.  However, if we identify our behaviors, then we actually have a change to change them.

Day 31 – Resale Shopping

Old Watch

Resale shops, thrift shops, pawn shops, second-hand stores, vintage stores, and consignment shops are types of second-hand stores where you can find a wide variety of interesting items for sale.  Check for these names in a phone directory for your area, and plan to stop by to get an idea of what their specialties are.  The next time you need something from clothing to books to furniture to accessories to electronics, check the resale shops first.  It helps your local economy, small business owners, and/or groups or organizations.

Tips for Resale Shopping:

1.  Give yourself time.  Since inventories change continually, you need to allow time to browse through a store to see what they have for sale at the moment.
2.  Plan to go through racks and racks of clothing.  My niece and I go shopping for high-end second-hand clothes at a particular shop in her area.  It takes time to weed through the selections.  Vintage is a term for something that is old in a trendy way but not yet an antique.  Vintage clothing is popular even among famous people!
3.  If you see something, buy it!  It is unlikely the store will ever get another one.
4.  Ask about the return policy.  Many resale shops will have no returns allowed or at a maximum a window of a couple of days.
5.  Ask how they obtain their merchandise.  Is it donated?  Do they purchase used goods for resale?  Are they a consignment shop?  Consignment means that they show items for sale but only pay the owner of the item if the item sells while keeping a percentage for profit usually only if the item sells.
6.  Ask who benefits from the sales?  Some shops often called thrift shops are run by religious organizations or homeless shelters.  Some stores are private for-profit entities like pawn shops, where you can sell or get a loan on your item, whether small and local or large chain stores.
7.  Ask how you can get involved.  Some stores are run by volunteers.  Some stores continually seek items to be donated.
8.  Remember to go resale shopping!  The next time you need anything, check the resale shops first!

Day 29 – Fair Trade

Fair Trade Coffee Beans


What is fair trade and what does it mean?  Is it the same as organic?  How does it relate to going green?  Fair trade alone has nothing to do with going green, really.  You can purchase organic fair trade foods like coffee, chocolate, tea, grains, nuts, and dried fruit, so I suppose choosing fair trade products that are also organic can be considered going green.  I just want you to know what all of this stuff means so that you know what you’re talking about when you share with others what you are doing and why!  You can have an organic product that is not fair trade and you can have a fair trade product that is not organic. 

Here is an example.  Coffee beans and cacao beans (used to make cocoa and chocolate) do not grow near where I live.  They are not local foods.  However, people around me drink and eat various concoctions containing these ingredients all the time.  Sure, you can choose organic which is the green thing to do, but you should also choose fair trade. 

Fair trade is about the people who make products and how they are treated, how they are paid, and how good their working environments.  For instance, in the USA, we take for granted our child labor laws and minimum wage standards.  Are children picking your coffee beans?  Are workers allowed breaks?  Is there a long chain of custody with a lot of middle men taking profits from the people actually growing or making the goods?  You can learn about the nine fair trade principles by going here.  The Fair Trade Federation is a great organization committed to expanding fair trade. 

Fair trade as we relate it to going green mostly pertains to foods that are also organic.  However, fair trade products extend into the realms of baskets, wooden utensils, clothing, and numerous other items that may or may not be also eco friendly.  For a list of fair trade stores in your area, go to:  

Source:  Fair Trade Federation Website