Posts Tagged ‘thrift’

Reusable Sandwich Bag Set Giveaway!

Introducing a new Wee Essentials product:  Reusable, washable food baggies!

This week I’m giving away TWO sets of two adorable Easter themed baggies.  Read below for details on how to enter!

Each bag is made with two layers of prewashed, preshrunk cotton quilter’s fabric.  I’ve folded and serged the edges in a way that each baggie can be closed just like a plastic bag; by tucking in the top flap and folding the pocket over the opening.  Easier than it sounds, and it’s very secure compared to the plastic bags!

Perfect for dry and slightly moist foods – crackers, cheese, sliced apples, raisins, cookies, granola, and grapes!  Not pudding, though. 🙂

The bags currently come in two sizes, small (5″ by 5″ when folded) and medium (6″ by 7″ when folded.)  We’ll be adding a larger size soon.

 

ENTER TO WIN!

RULES: This giveaway starts on 3/12/2012 and goes until 3/14/2012 at 11:59:59 p.m. US Central Standard Time. You must be 18 to win and a resident of the US or Canada. Winners will be chosen using random.org to randomly select post numbers.

To enter, simply comment below.

Extra entries:
Tweet this giveaway and leave a comment below (once)
Post on facebook about this giveaway and leave a comment below (once per account, be sure to tag @weeessentials!)
Post on your blog and comment below three times for three entries.  (once)
For every 150 entries we get, I will add another set of bags in a random print, up to 5 winners!

 

GOOD LUCK!

 

 

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Can consuming make you healthy and wealthy?

Our culture of consumerism is damaging to both our earth and our wallets.  One of my goals with this blog has been to document our steps away from the greed and gluttony of first world society and toward a more sustainable life – both monetarily and ecologically.  Fortunately they go hand-in-hand.

I haven’t approached this before on this blog, but between student loans and credit card debt from a previous failed business as well as our own poor financial planning, my husband and I have found ourselves deeply in debt – and almost dangerously so.  We have been working the past few years to erase that debt – although in the past few months we have finally become truly serious about it.  We’ve started using Dave Ramsey’s plan, which in theory is brilliant.  With the right attitude, I am confident it will work – because it’s about changing our mindsets about consuming, not just about getting out of debt.

I think that’s the key to changing our ecological habits, too.

If we can overcome the mentality that our self-worth is in what we own, instead of who we are, we can overcome the consumerist mentality.  We can overcome the burdens we’ve put upon ourselves in our search for satisfaction and adoration.

The problem with “going green” in the US is that it’s marketed as a salable lifestyle. Shop at whole foods, buy the right (and expensive) cleaning supplies, cash in your clunker, and install solar panels.  If you buy the right things, you will be so ecologically friendly.

These companies see green alright – in the form of cash.  But do their products really make the world cleaner?  Sure, that organic cotton t-shirt has fewer chemicals in it, but how much water did it take to grow the cotton so you could buy another t-shirt to add to your overflowing closet?  How much gas did it take to transport the cotton to the processing plant, the fiber to the spinners, the spun thread to the weaver, the fabric to the factory, and the finished product to the warehouse, where it sat until the store called for it?  We don’t see anything but the end product, so we don’t think about all of the resources it took just to make those items.  In the end, the fact that the cotton is organic is only an insignificant change in a long series of events that are no better than they ever were.

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But it’s reached a new low. Yesterday a new commercial came on as I was watching a cartoon with the kids, and every time I saw it, I grew more disgusted.  The commercial advertised a book called “The Green Millionaire” by Nigel J. Williams  (Free with a trial membership to their emagazine, which is expensive  and probably impossible to cancel.)

The premise of this book is that there are ways to be green that will make you rich.  Most of the ideas appear to be fairly obvious and require purchases.  Some of the claims from the website:

Would you buy a used car from this guy?


“Get your share of the billions that will go unclaimed in Government “green” money.”

“Learn how to keep your gas tank full for free.”

On the commercial, the author talks about “making your electrical meter flow backwards” and getting cash for greening up your automobile, your appliances, and your home.

First of all, many of you have probably figured out exactly what he’s talking about with a lot of this.  The electrical meter – installing solar panels or wind generators may mean you can sell energy back to the electrical company.  But installation on that scale is still expensive and requires a good investment of money.  You won’t get rich on that, though I have heard of people making a small profit.  And what about the manufacturing process for the panels?  And disposal of old electric systems?

Gas for life?  Complaint boards are full of explanations – the book tells you to buy a diesel vehicle, install a biodiesel converter (more buying), and find a source of free used vegetable oil.  Where do I start?  Raw vegetable oil is not a legal motor fuel and will cost you in expensive government fines if you got caught using it.  It has to be converted to biodiesel to be truly efficient, which for the average person, could be costly as well.

Cash from the government for your clunker?  That program is over, and even when it was running, you wouldn’t see a dime of the money in your pocket.  It was a rebate – a discount, basically – off a brand new car.  When we bought our Chevy back in August, it simply meant we got a better deal. But we still paid $18,000 out of pocket in the form of a loan.  We aren’t getting richer, my dear readers.

We won’t even head in the direction as to whether or not the program was effective – considering an estimated 25% of the lifetime emissions on a vehicle is from the manufacturing process, it probably wasn’t.

And cash for your appliances?  That’s over, too, though the story is the same.  You may save some electicity, but the manufacturing and transporting process probably required a lot more than you will ever get back in green brownie points.

The book appears to talk about government grant money for “green” improvements.  You don’t need Williams’ book to get that information – it’s right here. And it’s free.

I could go on and on, but that’s not my point.  Everything this man advertises is scammy – not only is the internet fraught with complaints from consumers about this guy and his book, but nothing he says seems to come close to actually helping the environment or his readers’ wallets.  Every suggestion from the book that has been publicized requires buying stuff! Stuff that the average person doesn’t need to buy!

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The most “green” thing a person can do is not consume unnecessarily. Buying new things when what we have is perfectly serviceable is not ecologically friendly, and it’s not frugal.  (I also don’t think it’s morally wrong, just for the record.)

Here’s my plan to help the earth and grow my wealth:

1. I’m going to remove my financial obligations to others by paying what I owe so I can put future money in the bank.

2.  I’m going to buy what I need, and only a little of what I want, so that I have more cash to put towards those debts/savings and so I have less that requires manufacturing and disposal.

3. When I do buy, I’m going to buy mindfully – buying used when possible and choosing products that have a minimum of packaging – particularly packaging that can’t be recycled or reused.  I’ll also try to choose products that are as whole as possible – that is, they are as close to their natural state as possible, with fewer chemicals, dyes, chemical fragrances and preservatives.

4. And I’m going to consider whether or not I really need it.  Can I do without?  Can I use something else? Instead of buying the $10 all-purpose cleaner, can I use vinegar?  Baking soda?  Can I use potent essential oils to scent my house instead of buying fake smelling air freshener?  Could I use cloth napkins instead of paper or cloth menstrual pads instead of tossing away uncomfortable paper ones every month?

Ultimately, I know there will be purchases I make that will be unnecessary.  And that’s okay with me, as long as I’ve considered the things above and made a purchase bought with thought rather than compulsion.  And we must think about these things – our society is capable of change only when we change our minds about the necessity of consumption!

How Much Stuff are you Hiding?

Moving is always enlightening for me – as you start to pack up and sort through the accumulation of belongings, you suddenly realize how much stuff you have.  Yesterday I discovered that my husband had been putting my knitting supplies, extra yarn and such into the cedar chest in our entryway to get the house picked up!  Since it was empty when he started, I never thought to look in there, and a lot of the yarns were “stash” yarns – meaning I bought them with no specific project in mind, or they were for projects I haven’t had a chance to start.  So I didn’t miss them.

Beyond the annoyance of discovering B’s been hiding my yarns, it occurred to me that I have about 25% more yarn than I thought I did.  I’ve probably bought more yarn thinking I had the space for it!

At the same time, I’ve been grabbing consumables – toiletries, paper plates and cups given to us when we moved in two years ago, and crayons – and putting them all in one spot as I find them.  I’m amazed at how many shampoos and bar soaps we have.  We have two almost-full packs of disposable cups and about five packs of disposable cutlery!

Going to the food shelf!

Going to the food shelf!

What a waste on our part!  At least, a waste of money!  But I’ll still use the yarn. 🙂  The consumables – well, we won’t be buying anything for a while, and some of the toiletries – disposable pantyliners I got for free and body washes I was gifted that I’ll never use – will be donated to a local food pantry.

We’re getting ready to have a garage sale this weekend with a couple other families, so it will be an opportune time to pass some of our excess household items and clothing on to other people who might actually use them.

But why do we have so much?  Why is it that we can’t be organized enough to keep things in one place and to know what we have?  I blame it partly on a society in which there is so much to have and to do that we move on to the next thing before we finish  the first.

If you are a crafter, you know exactly what I am talking about when I mention “stash.”  I’ve bought tens of cross stitch kits in the past 20 years, and I’ve probably resold or donated 90% of them because I didn’t like them anymore or because I was realistic that I’d never use them!  In the same way, I’ve bought skeins and skeins of yarn (mostly on clearance) only to turn around a couple years later and donate them to a charitable organization.  Donating them is the only thing that makes me feel better about wasting them!

I think another problem is that we have been conditioned to put everything away in drawers and closets – we no longer can just look at a shelf or a wall or a basket and see what we have.  If we could see that our drawers are stuffed with usuable clothing we might hesitate to buy more.  In the same way, once my yarn was put on shelves, I could see I had plenty of yarn to choose from for my next project – when it was in totes, it was easy for me to forget what I had!

Finally, I think we buy because we can. We can afford to, and our society has taught us that it is better to show our “wealth” in material possessions – a big house, a car or motorcycle, artwork and furniture – than to show it with a large bank account (which no one else can see anyway.)  When we consider this, it’s reasonable for us to save our money, but we have been so conditioned to want the next big thing – both because we see a purpose in them and because of the status it brings – that we continue to buy.  It just doesn’t make sense.

I won’t even get into shopping as recreation!

I’m off – I still have some totes in the basement to go through, as well as some boxes of paperwork to be filed upstairs in the office!

Buy Nothing Week 1 – Introduction

Since we are hopefully moving soon and our pantry is getting rather full, my husband and I have decided it’s time for a “Buy Nothing” week.  It’s not a new concept – in fact, many bloggers have done it in an effort to either clean out their pantries, make savings goals, or just to show it can be done.  There’s even a “Buy Nothing Day” and “Buy Nothing Christmas!”
It’s not new to us, either.  Rather than spending our grocery money on more food, we get creative and we eat out of the pantry.  We save the grocery money we would have spent for our savings account or for our bulk grocery purchases down the road.

So it’s time to do it again.  We need to eat the food canned last fall before this year’s harvest.  We have a lot of odds and ends in our freezer, as well as a lot of meat from the hind quarter we bought this spring. And the pantry has plenty of canned and prepared foods to be eaten.

I encourage you all, my readers, to join me in this.  It’s a great way to clean out the mismash of things that get put in our cupboards and never eaten, and to save some money for a goal!
There are some rules (though you can always make up your own!):

1. Only necessities may be purchased.  We have two young sons, so we keep basics like fresh fruits, milk, and oatmeal in the house.  That won’t change with the “buy nothing” plan.

2. No buying junk food, prepackaged food, freezer food, unless it complies with rule #1.

3. Food gotten free (from couponing, sales, samples, etc.) is always allowed.

4. Grocery savings must be put toward a specific goal.   In our case, we’ll be putting the money toward future large purchases.  Once we’ve moved, we’ll need to find a butcher and buy our beef and chicken, and that usually runs about $300 for 6-8 months worth of meat.  We also will be running out of some of the items we buy at Sam’s Club in bulk, so we’ll need some cash to restock those.

5.  This is the big one:  NO stocking up ahead of time allowed! The whole point of this exercise is to use up the foods we normally would overlook in favor of our usual foods and recipes.  It’s also to use up things we have an abundance of – we have a lot of peanut butter, and since we aren’t buying any snacks, we’ll make peanut butter bars and cookies.

This is a pretty arbitrary thing – I plan on buying a used spinning wheel tomorrow night, and I’ve got my eye out for inexpensive summer clothing in 12 month size for my fast-growing youngest, especially since summer is longer down in Nashville, where we are moving in the next few months.  Once I go through my boxes of clothing, I’ll be able to tell if I’ll need the same size in winter clothing (and I’m guessing I will since my oldest wore 12 month sizes during a southern summer, too!)

I’m not going to be recording specific amounts here most of the time.  I just don’t have the time or the inclination to write everything down!  But I’ll post updates about how we are doing!

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