Back in the day… [day 18 & 19]

On my recent road trip, I found so many interesting things to photograph.  Most of the interesting things were vintage or antique.  What’s the difference?  My boss asked that question on Facebook a few months ago.  Vintage is 7+ years old and antique is 50+ years old.  Just for the record, I’m still vintage.

Life has changed radically over the past few decades.  Here’s a few photos I found interesting.

vw bug slugbugSlug bug!  I just had to stop and take a photo of this VW Bug, sitting in front of an auto salvage yard.  It’s probably out front because people still love these little beauties.  Some turn them into art projects, some restore them and some use them for parts.

This car, brand new, back in 1969 cost about $1,800.  The same car now (44 years later, for those of you who hate math), brand new, costs $19,995 for the basic model.  A restored 1969 model in decent shape is in the $4,000 range.   Continue reading

Life, death & disposable stuff [day 13, 14 & 15]

IMG_7992As we’re driving back to the cabin in Somewhere Really Far North, Wisconsin, my son says, “Mom?  This snowy landscape looks like hell to you doesn’t it?  Most people think it’s hot, with flames.  You see it as a cold place, don’t you?”  It was the proper use of the word hell, so I’ll let that slide.  “Yes.  This is how I picture it.”

I’ve never been a fan of cold weather.  If we each picture all the things we like in heaven, why wouldn’t all the things we hate be in hell?  It would be cold and covered with snow.  Hell would have only olives to eat, individually wrapped in plastic, on a table cloth made of paper towels, and served with disposable plastic forks.  The walls would be painted beige and I would be required to live in a shopping mall.  Continue reading

To Infiniti and beyond! [day 2]

check-engine-lightI took my car in for the illuminated “check engine” light and a pre-road trip check up.  This really has nothing to do with anything disposable, unless you consider a car a disposable item.  If that’s the case, then everything is disposable, some of it just lasts longer.  My referral to disposable items for the challenge is items that are single use and then get thrown away, or in some cases, recycled.  Back to the light, that when lit, should just have a dollar sign on it.  I’m about to take my car on a long trip, so I just want to be sure it’s nothing major.  Well, it looks as though it’s time to start thinking about a new (used) car.  The repairs needed to keep this car in good condition are finally exceeding the cost of getting a new (used) one.  Disposable?  I suppose it could be a long-term disposable item.  Continue reading

I’ve come to a plastic fork in the road [a new challenge]

plastic fork in the road

This little plastic fork was photographed in its natural habitat… a parking lot.

This has been on my mind for a while.  I try my best every day not to use anything disposable, especially if there are other options or if I can do without.  You might be asking, “What does that mean?  Plastic forks?  Napkins?  Plastic bags?  Toilet paper?”  Here’s what I mean.  Any time I have a choice, I go with something non-disposable.  If I’m eating at work, I’m the oddball that grabs a metal fork, while others clutch their plastic forks.  I’m not saying that to be judgmental, I’m saying it to make a point that it’s the acceptable norm.  We are so surrounded by disposable containers, disposable utensils and disposable gadgets, that finding alternatives is difficult, if not impossible.

Here’s the plan.  For one month, I will not buy anything in disposable containers.  Continue reading

could I be oscar the grouch? [minimalist challenge item #172]

[item] Metal trash can with no lid

[purchase info] Given to me, was a prop for a trash can band

[time in my possession] Approximately 3 years

[last used] 7 months ago for a video prop in my kids’ recycling video

[difficulty level in getting rid of it] Medium

[destination] Thrift store, maybe freecycle

[info] I have 3 of these, so I’m getting rid of one.  I use these to store stuff in my garage, but now I just don’t have much to store anymore.  This minimalist stuff really works!  I use one to stage all of my “I’m getting rid of…” stuff now.  When it’s full, I take it all to the thrift store.  By the way, this concept takes discipline.  When I empty it, I start rethinking the items.  So far I haven’t pulled anything out to keep, but be careful doing this.  Sometime it’s best just to take it all to the thrift store right away.


stainless water bottle [minimalist challenge item #162]

[item] Stainless steel water bottle

[purchase info] Purchased new at a discount store

[time in my possession] Approximately 2.5 years?

[last used] A couple of weeks ago

[difficulty level in getting rid of it] Medium

[destination] Trash

[info] I love these “green” water bottles, but they are not easy to clean.  The inside started to show spots… rust or what??  I’m not sure, but I didn’t want my kids drinking out of it anymore.  Maybe it’s best to buy the bottles with the large opening, just for cleaning purposes.

top-ics [day 356]

I’ve been reflecting a lot lately over the past year and how my life has been impacted by the no retail shopping challenge.  It has taken me in directions I’d never expected and changed my thinking in so many ways.  I’m not sure what I was expecting that morning I woke up and decided to do this, but I’m glad I did it.  I’m not sure what I’ll be doing with all of the lessons I’ve learned, but whatever that might be, I hope it blesses the world in some way.

I decided to look up the top topics and most read blog posts from over the past year.  This is a ‘guesstamation’ since I moved my blog once and renamed it.  3 sets of traffic stats.

Top 10 topic searches

  1. Shopping / price comparisons
  2. Hoarding
  3. Organization
  4. Toms vs. Skechers
  5. Sweatshops
  6. Dumpster diving
  7. Lee M. Cardholder
  8. Spongebob Squarepants (this is an entire blog post in itself)
  9. Trash / junk art
  10. Recycling

Top blog posts

  1. Tom’s shoes vs. Bob’s Skechers.  For real?!
  2. Give some, get none.
  3. Downsizing the kitchen and food supply.
  4. Hoarders on Craigslist.
  5. What does an organized hoarder look like?
  6. Aldi vs. Walmart: a shopping comparison.
  7. A 25¢ lesson cost me hundreds.
  8. A lesson learned through a pink bag and Barbie dolls.
  9. Motion art sharing.
  10. The affects of effects.

the anatomy of a gift [day 336]

Let me start by asking a few of the big questions here.

Is re-gifting good or bad?

Is it okay to get rid of a gift?

Should you ever give a used gift?

I think people mostly view these as bad things, and although there’s no simple answer to these questions, there are some instances when they’re good.  Let’s first look at the anatomy of a gift.

Okay, so there’s no image that perfectly represents all gifts, as they’re as different as snowflakes.  “It’s the thought that counts…” is the first thing you hear about gifts.  If this is true, then is re-gifting or giving away a gift you received considered symbolic of the thought, the gift, both or neither?  I suppose it all depends on the gift itself, the person that gave it to you, the occasion and the thought behind it.  Again, there’s no easy answer.

I’m blogging on this topic, as it’s been on my mind a lot as I downsize.  I have gotten rid of things people have given me, and yes, even put them on my blog.  I won’t lie, it feels a little weird, but at least it’s honest.  I haven’t re-gifted anything, probably because I don’t really get many gifts.  Don’t get me wrong here, I actually like this gift status.  I’m not married, my kids are young and I don’t have any family close by to share holidays with.  Considering that I’m not a fan of holidays, this works fine in my life.  But when I do get a gift, it’s usually something meaningful.  Continue reading

trash or treasure? [day 319]

There’s a lot of stuff that might be considered trash, but before you throw something away, think about the possible uses for it.  These are partially full cleaning supplies and pesticides, well, there’s also a random bottle of unopened champagne too.  Just because it’s half empty (or half full, depending on your perspective) and you don’t want it, dosen’t mean someone else can’t use it.  I list this on freecycle and it was gone in a matter of hours.  Yes, it’s my waste, but it doesn’t need to end up in a landfill or disposal center.

Before you throw things away, here’s some things to think about.

  • Repurpose. Could I repurpose this for something else?
  • Sell. Is this something that I could sell?
  • Give. Is this something I could give away?  Do I know anyone who might use this or need this?  Will a thrift store take it?  Remember, your trash might be some else’s treasure.  Put it on freecycle.  If it doesn’t go on freecycle, it might just be trash.
  • Green. What is the best environmental way to get rid of this item?  Can it be recycled?
  • Good. Is there a way to use this to bless someone else?  Can you give it to a fundraiser or charity?
  • Plan. Why did you buy this in the first place?  Have you made a plan not to buy it, or anything similar again?
  • Repurchase. If you need this item or something similar in the future, is there a smaller size or is it something you can borrow?

Yes, this is a lot to think about each time you plan to get rid of something, but if you start doing this, it will change your habits.  It will be easier to get rid of things because you will have a process and your shopping habits will change, as you will think long-term about something before you buy it.  It’s a win-win.  :)

fast waste [day 315]

I love pretty much any condiment, mustard, ketchup, sour cream, grape jelly, salsa… you name it.  I’ve been referred to as the condiment queen.  This is a problem to me in the world of fast food.  There’s so much plastic and paper waste associated with it.  I looked up condiment packaging and found a few eco-friendly alternatives.  For me, this brings up a bigger question.  The word “ECO” is used a lot these days.  I’m glad people are coming up with eco-friendly options that are much better for the environment, but here’s my question.

Should we just be content with using products that are a little bit better for the environment or should we be trying to scale back our use of disposable products?

I’m trying to do both.  I’m not always successful as you can see in the photo, but those were given with my meal, not upon request, but just assumed I would eat them all.  I’ve cut way back on the fast food consumption over the past year.  Meals are supposed to be a time of fellowship and relaxation.  If my lifestyle needs fast food, I need to make some changes.

My ideas were validated a few days ago by the cost of fast food.  My 2 boys and I went to Sonic.  I’m usually all over the price shopping part of eating, but this day, I decided to let them order whatever they wanted.  They both ordered modestly, as did I.  Almost $18.00 spent and the kids were still hungry.  A few days later, we went to a sit-down restaurant.  This time it was me and the kids, but we brought a friend along as well.  Including ‘good’ food for all of us, one beer and one dessert, the total was around $35, including the tip.  There’s a price for all that packaging, not to mention the nutritional value of fast food.

Also, I’m not sure why, but the magic number of napkins seems to be 6.  Why do I need 6 napkins with a sandwich?  Do I look that messy?  If they give out 5 extra napkins per person, with an average customer count of 450 a day, that’s 2,250 napkins that go in a landfill.  And that’s just napkins.

I’m not saying I will never eat fast food again (although I’m leaning in that direction), but I will be doing it even less now.  I’m not saying you shouldn’t eat fast food either.  We should all be aware of the effects of it though.  There are times where the fast food meal is not a bad idea, but doing it regularly will cost you a lot of money, aid in destroying our earth and eventually will break your heart.