Going Euro

I went to Portland on the train over the holidays last year. We caught the bus to the train station and then used all public transit when we got to Portland. In P-town, all of our public transit was free  because we stayed  downtown in the free zone and never left. It was the perfect holiday, with lots of walking, riding and relaxing.

I love ditching the car. It feels great to avoid all the driving, traffic and parking. It’s good for the planet and my health. It sets a good example for the kids and reduces the amount of pollution I put into the atmosphere.  I call it going Euro and it means leaving the car behind whenever possible.

So after the jump, what it means to go euro and tips for getting yourself started in the wacky world of public transit. Because really, you know you should and you’ll be glad you did.

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Reach Out!

The isolation among us is costing us all dearly. We waste money on entertainment because we don’t know how connect with those around us. We waste money constantly shopping for our own EVERYTHING, when so much could be done without or shared between multiple users.We avoid our neighbors, why? Too busy to engage? Afraid they may want to talk again some time in the future?

I don’t think we ever intended to create this lonely, vaguely hostile environment we live in, but it’s becoming insufferable. We have more than ever before (way more than our fair share!) yet we are isolated, disconnected and in-debt with little to show for it. Our money, our time, our relationships, our communities – all these things suffer as a result of our over-consumption and wasteful behavior. The only way to feel better is to live better. And the first step to living better is reaching out to those around you.

Halloween in the Hood.

So after the jump, ways to reach out to neighbors, friends and strangers. Because the only way this world is going to change is if we all start doing something differently.

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Repair It!

Mama's toolkitAs I mentioned in Return It!:

“It’s this disposable mindset that we have slipped into that bothers me most. I find it expensive and wasteful…The clothes are such terrible quality, I can’t bear to use an item of clothing for a few months and then have to put it in a landfill like a used  kleenex or paper towel. Thus, I’ll  spend a little more for quality, so things can be used longer and hold up under reasonable use. And if they don’t, they are returned.”

I save a ton of money by repairing and maintaining the things we purchase. It allows us to use things longer and shop a lot less. We can then pass our gently used treasures on to another family who can also get use out of them. How much money can I really save repairing stuff? Well, you’d be amazed.

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Reuse It!

In Less is the new more I explained the downside of the excellent recycling program here in Seattle:

We all know the mantra: reduce, reuse, recycle. We have a great recycling program here in Seattle which gives us a false sense that just throwing it all in the recycle bin is enough. But when I thought about it, I realized that I most of what I was recycling is only being used once: like plastic bottles, plastic bags and paper bags. Recycling is important when it’s time for disposal, but we should be focusing on reducing and reusing, first and foremost.

In that post, I declared our household plastic bag free. What I didn’t mention, was my secret shame. You see, there was something I was using in the household that was just as wasteful as plastic bags AND has been shown to have detrimental health effects as well.

After the jump, my environmental secret shame. And finding ways to Reuse, Reuse, Reuse, because we have to get out of this single-use, disposable mindset. More

Return it!

I am the queen of the return. It is a great way to un-do bad decisions and save money that would otherwise be wasted. I return on such a regular basis, I have a return shelf in the pantry. As soon as something makes it’s way into the house that shouldn’t, to the return shelf it goes, along with the receipt, so it can be go back from whence it came.

There’s nothing sketchy about it and there is no shame in returning. I shop at stores with excellent return policies and good customer service. For these companies, returns are easily done and never a problem. I shop mindfully and carefully and I expect reasonable quality from the goods I purchase. When this does not happen, the stores are usually more than happy to remedy the situation.

After the jump, everything you need to know about returning, but were afraid to ask. Plus, the greatest return story ever told!

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Green cleaning: Boiling hot water for the floors

I’m forever trying to use fewer chemical cleaners in the house. Between having small children always on the floors and knowing how toxic most common cleaning products can be, I have been phasing them out over the last few years. However, I can not bring myself to use green cleaning products, not only are they over-priced, they are not as effective. And with the amount of bodily fluids I deal with on a daily basis, I need to feel like things are clean and disinfected.

I was excited to try a tip I read about on Jezebel. Someone recommended boiling water for mopping. A second jezzie chimed in that you could add essential oils to the mix, leaving your home smelling glorious. Seeing how I already had hot water and essential oils in the house, I was excited to give it a try. On Saturday morning Mr. Applebum took the monkees and I pulled out the mop, bucket and tea kettle and got to work.

So after the jump, I road test a FREE green cleaning solution – really hot water! More

Robot Party – a green birthday on a budget

So the older Applebum turned four last week. His birthday is after New Years, so it manages add a few extra days to the holiday insanity. I’m not gonna lie, I totally dropped the ball. I was driving us to school on a Monday, when I realized his birthday was the following weekend. So I had less than a week to pull a party together on a really tight budget. Did I pull it off?

Robot Party!

Robot Party!

What do you think? The kids sure seemed to have a great time. And I got to feel good about hosting a party that was both affordable and environmentally conscious.

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Less is the new more

My goal is always: Less.  I’m forever striving to need less, want less, use less, and waste less. When I was young, we had the book Diet for a Small Planet on the bookshelf. I never read the book, but the title alone conveyed to me that 1) our planet has a limited number of resources for us all to share and 2) individual choices have global impact. These notion have stayed with me, in fact, they have become guiding principles.

I am very aware of the impact my consumption has on the planet.  The truth is, I’m a bit obsessed with garbage. I read an article in Rolling Stone about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch forming in the Pacific Ocean. Twice the size of Texas, this plastic continent is a scary reminder that most of what you have ever thrown away is still with us. It’s not gone anywhere. Think about every piece of plastic you touched today. Last month. In the last 10 years. It staggers me. And it renews my commitment to needing less, wanting less, using less and wasting less.

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Craigslist selling tips

Craigslist is a great way to find new homes for your embarrassment of riches. Or as I used to exclaim after each sale: I can’t believe people pay to help me clear out the garage! Craigslist is not about making a ton of money, it’s about finding exactly the right owner for the stuff you don’t need nor want.

So for those of you who are currently Craigslisting or those of you who are ready to get in the game, here are my Craigslist tips after the jump.

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Story of Stuff, Part Deux

Thats a lot of gifs.

That's a lot of stuff.

Growing up, there was a girl in our apartment complex that was pretty spoiled. Not only was she an only child, her grandparents lived in that same apartment complex so she had lots of stuff. And she had the good stuff, you know, all the stuff from the cool commercials during Saturday morning cartoons. The first time I walked in I couldn’t believe a girl could be so lucky.

But it wasn’t fun to play in her room. When we would try to play with the toys, the were in bad shape. Not overused, just mistreated and abused. Expensive toys were drawn  on, broken, destroyed and then strewn carelessly aside.

Her room was a mess. You’d trip over toys any time you tried to walk across the floor. If I would try to pick up one toy, a giant mass of tangled messiness came along and it was SO not worth trying to untangle whatever I was reaching for. More

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