Posts filed under ‘shopping’

O look! Could it be? A post!

new yorkYou get the idea.

IT IS! That’s right, It’s Alive, folks. Sort of.

I really should put up an “warning: irregular posting” disclaimer. But that would just give me one more thing to procrastinate, so I better stay put.

If you must know, I had, of course, a perfectly good reason for my absence. I was visiting the distant shores of Uncle Sam. And to be perfectly honest, I’ve been back for 3 weeks now.The truth is, I actually started writing this 2 weeks ago, so at that time I had a perfectly valid excuse for being out of commission – I was jetlagged and had cold. In the meantime, I had to edit and re-edit this paragraph over and over because my old excuse is so outdated now.

First of all, let me tell you people, your toilets SUCK! Seriously. Gross toilet water close that close to my toosh makes me very uncomfortable. And what’s up with the toilet stall gap? You know, if I’m going to use the toilet in a public place, I would really appreciate some privacy! I mean, drop your lipstick and you know all my business. Not cool!

Anyway, where was I… oh right. So on this trip I got to see 2 more states, Michigan and New York. That brings up my total of visited states to a nice round number of …… 3 (Went to Florida Keys last year).

So while I only spent a few days in Michigan, I can say I “saw” it, mostly because  2 of them were spent driving up and down the state, which looking back was kinda stoopid. But yeah, I am not the best planner out there, and notoriously suck at being a tourist. Early starts are definitely not my thing.

After that I spent 2 weeks in New York, waking up late and being a bad tourist all around- I didn’t go ice skating, I didn’t see the statue of Liberty, I didn’t climb the Empire State, and I only made it to one museum (the Guggenheim). It was still pretty awesome, despite the bad-tourist guilt.

I even attempted some shopping. Mostly, failed. All I have to show for is a new red sweater and some thrift store pants. Despite the fact I keep telling myself I have to stop buying red sweaters. Every time I attempt shopping I end up buying a red sweater (and that’s it). It’s my fall back plan, if nothing else, there is always a red sweater I like. I’m really starting to get on my own nerves with this red sweater thing. Is there such a thing as red sweater rehab? If there is, I’ll sign up right now!

But anyway. I tried to be a good vegetarian (but not a perfect one). My slips included some mercury-laced sushi and a Starbucks bacon & egg sammich laced with better-not-think-about-it. I am not proud of it. It think that broke both of my survival rules (that I stick to because the American “food” industry freaks me out).

  1. All animal products must be organic.
  2. All corn and soy must be organic.

But yes, you got me. I was going to Starbucks. I have to admit they won me over with the organic milk. But then they went and burst my bubble by discontinuing it. Bastards. Then I discovered that you can ask for soy milk and soy milk is organic and actually drinkable. Even in cappuccinos.

Then I discovered that the American idea of cappuccino slightly differs from my pre-conceived Euro-notions: espresso, hot milk and milk foam. Starbucks thinks its ALL about the milk foam. Literally. No milk. Just foam. And you guys know I take my cappuccinos very seriously. So I developed a routine where after I deliver the stainless mug, I go over to the barista and ask to ease up on the foam.

That usually coincides with me being annoyed at the fact they are still wasting a disposable cup for my coffee IN SPITE my very specific cup instructions. Although on one occasion I did encounter a barista that was also annoyed at all the cup wasting behavior. Not that that changed anything. I hope she gets promoted and brings on a smackdown on cup-wasting.

On the up side, I was very happy to see I wasn’t the only freak with a mug. Although it seemed much more common and accepted in Michigan. You would think New York is where all the eco-hipsters are.

And you guys would be proud of how good I got refusing plastic bags. I’m an almost professional bag-refuser. The trick is to announce it early and clearly, before they scan your groceries or while they are folding your red sweater er… clothing item.

And well, that’s all for the travel report. Sorry I didn’t post a touristy picture of my self in front of a landmark. In a red sweater. I’m such a lame tourist I didn’t even take any pictures. Although I lugged my camera across an ocean and even got a new lens for Christmas. So Hiro Nakamura will just have to do. How do you guys even put up with me?

February 5, 2008 at 11:03 pm 9 comments

Buy Nothing Day

Buy Nothing

Tomorrow is Buy Nothing Day (aka Black Friday Consumerism Disaster) in US and Canada, whick for me and international ClosetReaders, is on Saturday the 24th.

So here is my appeal to you. Buy Nothing! Think about the impact your consumption has on the worlds resources. Think before you buy useless shit no one wants anyway.

But most importantly, go out and have fun. Do stuff that doesn’t involve spending money to feed the capitalist establishment. You’ll be much happier, really.

And now, to the ‘pull the ember to my sardine’ part of this post, here is what what’s going down here in Wageningen, NL. I have joined the local hippy crowd in organizing Buy Nothing Day activities. We are setting up a living room in the main market square, with live music, free tea (maybe even coffee if we’re lucky), free hugs, free shop, traditional games, board games, newspapers, massages (maybe), professional portraits, and workshops.

The goal is to try to lure passersby away from consumerism with happy activities that don’t involve consuming, the key word in this being ‘happy’, seeing that HappyJMA Wageningen is organizing.

You can also revisit this post, where I shared with you guys a video about Wageningen Buy Nothing Day in 2006.

So today, my message to you is: Be happy. And buy nothing!

Ps: I also wrote a post about BND for Celsias. Check it out for the hilarious adbusters tv spots.

November 22, 2007 at 5:56 pm 2 comments

Overdue post about that trip to Portugal

AveiroBack when my camera still worked.

Well, seems like that sign I put up on my last post was more than accurate… I didn’t mean to. I really did mean to write about my adventures that very day but then I never got around to do it.

In the meantime, I packed up all my shit and moved, my boyfriend left and now I’m more or less settled in my new place. This time I will not get sidetracked. I will tell you all about my moving and my new place on one of my next posts.

Anyways, I’m gonna spare you all of the “ahhh we went here” and “ooh we went there” and all that “it was so nice” crap and cheesy pictures of us in front of this and that and get right down to the environmental stuff. So lets get on with it shall we, in a neatly organized fashion.

It rocked:

The metro network.It is only a few years old, but its really really good. Most of the times, it is more convenient than driving because its faster and parking is a pain. My boyfriend arrived a couple of days after me and I decided to try the metro service to pick him up. I was pretty impressed, it was really fast, VERY close to the terminal and no parking (which, at airports, is quite a rip off). The bus network is very good as well, but its not as easy to figure out, and the schedules are less predictable.

The recycling. Recycling is slowly making its way into mainstream culture. Now you have recycling bins in most public places like the airport and metro stations, and it looks like people actually use them. The recycling infrastructure is quite good. I missed the composting bin that I was used to here in Holland, but I think they are working on that too, they already started collection biodegradable waste from large producers. My mom is a very thorough recycler. I got her into it when I was still a pre-teen. I am very proud of her in this matter.

The market. Whereas most of supermarket food in Portugal is imported, the food at the market, where I demonstratively bought vegetables, was very local, most likely organic and dirt cheap. Now I just need to convince ClosetMom to shop there more often.

ClosetFriends. I was very impressed that ClosetFriends have the habit of picking up old batteries, if they see them laying around in the street and depositing them in the appropriate recycling bin. Bravo, ClosetFriends. Something I can learn from you. (insert suggestion for Vanessa here)

It sucked:

ClosetMom refuses to use the metro. Her work involves a lot of driving around the city, including during rush hour. She could totally use the metro at least for some trips, if it wasn’t so much trouble to figure out where the stops are *roll eyes*.

Smog. ClosetMom picked me up from the airport (see above). The first thing I noticed on the drive home, was how smoggy Porto looked. I didn’t remember it being like that last year. The horizon looked yellow, and I’m not exaggerating. Coincidence or not, I got a sore throat about a week later, that quickly developed into a cold. Yes, it could have been just a cold, but I think it was pollution related cold.

Plastic Bags. Man, this country has a plastic bag problem! Even if you buy just one tiny little thing, they stuff it in a bag before you have time to open your mouth. I have to say, unlike in the Netherlands, getting away without a useless bag took considerably more effort. But at some point, I got very good at announcing “No bag, please” as soon as I hand them my purchase.

The receipt holder fad. Now this was annoying. Since last time I was in Portugal, apparel shops developed this new fad. Now instead of just handing you your receipt, now they put it in a nice little cardboard receipt-holder thingy. WTF?? This time, I didn’t manage to develop a defense against this one because I was too perplexed to react, but next time I’ll be prepared. Bastards…

My camera may or may not be broken. It died on me in the middle a shot. I still have hope that it could have been the batteries (even though there was no indication that they were getting low), so now I am dreading the moment of truth, when I change the batteries and realize that I have to do something about the matter. In the mean time, I have no camera, and have already recurred to borrowing from strangers once. (Before, I was using ClosetBoyfriend’s digital to take all those fabulous pictures of my groceries). Now I’m thinking of buying a crappy second hand one to tie things over.

Greatest Accomplishments:

Refusing mom’s well meaning ride offers and getting around quite easily by metro, bus (1x) and walking. Managed to keep use of car to a minimum. Used the metro to go to the beach (thanks, global warming), the airport and city center bunch of times. In almost 2 weeks, used the car 5 times, including 2 trips to the airport and one ride from friends.

Addressed ClosetMom’s bottled water habit. She claims tap water is bad for the kidneys (bullshit) and it tastes bad (tasted just fine to me). Explained how bottled water has less quality and how plastic gives you cancer. Refused to drink bottled water thus proving there is nothing wrong with tap water. Before she used a plastic cup to drink from the water cooler in the office. Now keeps a cup there and explains to co-workers how plastic gives you cancer. They don’t believe her, saying “they wouldn’t deliberately give us all cancer”. So naive…

Got 2 ClosetFriends more interested in vegetarian food, and even got them to try some meatless cooking by themselves. Score. ClosetMom is more resistant to the idea, but I’ll get to her too… eventually.

Resolution of the washing machine ordeal.This one requires a little more background explanation. When I got to Portugal, I was informed that our washing machine was broken and that a new washing machine was scheduled to be delivered the next day. I, of course, was shocked that ClosetMom, despite being broke, ordered a +-500E washing machine, without even trying to fix the old one (age 7, and a very good brand, so technically, its still middle aged in washing machine years). I explained how the washing machine must be a cheap fix, and that ClosetMom was too quick to cough up 500 euros she didn’t have. However, it was already too late. However, it just so happened that ClosetMom was buying the display model and that the delivery guys were dumbasses. Because it was the display model and they were too lazy to pack it up, they were delivering it without any packaging, and then tried to fit it through the building door. Sure enough, when my mom saw her brand new washing machine all banged up around the sides, she knows nothing more than to say “well then, you can take your ~@?$^%*# washing machine and stuff it (…)”. And so, I had ClosetMom call the official repair service and for 50 bucks the thing was good as new. If that ain’t Karma, I don’t know what is. Now, whether this was a good or bad outcome in terms of greenness I don’t know. I really don’t know what they will do with that banged up washing machine. Maybe they’ll fix it. Maybe they’ll sell it. Maybe they’ll just recycle it. All I know is that ClosetMom wasn’t having a banged up washing machine. And I don’t think I would either.

For next time:

Get ClosetMom and ClosetFriends to Bring Their Own Bags when they go shopping. This time I didn’t have time to go shopping with ClosetMom, so the plastic bags issue didn’t “come up”. I’ll get them all next time. MauAUauahahAAHahAHA!!

Get everyone DivaCups for their B’days. I already started psychologically preparing ClosetMom, showing her my Diva, telling her how great it is… I think I’ll get her one for Xmas now. MauAUauahahAAHahAHA!!

Lessons Learned:

  • You must know your enemy and be prepared to strike back. It’s the surprise attacks that screw us over.
  • When trying to get someone to change their ways, people always respond better when you put things in terms of “What’s in it for me”, like “save money” or “NOT get cancer”. I found that “its better for the environment” crap gets you nowhere, so I don’t even go there.
  • It’s not that people are trying to harm the environment, its just that sometimes they don’t know any better. Most of the time, they just don’t know there is a better way. Like ” you don’t HAVE to take bags every time just because they try to give you one”.

And so, even though I didn’t offset my trip (partly because I’m broke, partly because I still haven’t made up my mind on offsetting), I would say that the overall impact of my trip goes a long way towards canceling out the plane rides. Or at least I prefer to think so.

 

 

October 8, 2007 at 1:55 pm 5 comments

Where is Organic Leather?

hmm...leather

Disclaimerthis post may be inappropriate to sensitive vegans/vegetarians. Viewer discretion is advised.

I know many of you will look down on me for being a leather wearing, beef eating, milk drinking sorry-ass excuse of an environmentalist. In my defense, I like cows and I think humans and cows should live in harmony. I am all for humanely, respectfully treated cows in small-scale organic farms. Only, I just think that we shouldn’t have as many cows as we have now. That’s why I only eat and drink organic dairy, as local as possible.

But what I really want to talk about is leather… Even though I could, conceivably, give up my leather jacket and my leather handbag, I have BIG issues with shoes made of anything other than leather. I just can’t… I’m sorry, but I can’t! You see, here is my embarrassing little secret… my feet stink 😀 Well, more accurately, they have a tendency to develop a more pungent odor if they can’t ‘breathe’. So I really can’t wear anything other than cow hides on my little ogre feet, under penalty of being persecuted for possessing biologic WMDs. TMI? Sorry 😀

So here is my question to you. There is a growing number of organic cows out there. Where is organic leather? I mean, it should exist, right? If the cows are certified organic, then the cow skin is, at least in theory, certified as well. So shouldn’t there be a separate market for organic cow skin and leather? Shouldn’t there be stylish organic leather shoes out there? Well, the answer to this seems to be both yes and no.

While Organic Leather does indeed exist, the only thing I could find is this. I mean, COME ON! I don’t know about you but I am not about to walk around dressed like a wannabe Pocahontas. All I want is a decent pair of shoes, and I would STRONGLY prefer they were made of organic leather, tanned without causing an small-scale environmental disaster.

I know it is possible, because I found these guys, who make awesome looking eco-friendly hand-bags. When I grow up, I gotta get me one of these. But those hand-bags! And I asked for shoes! If there are folks out there selling classy organic hand-bags, why aren’t they selling SHOES?

Is this really too much to ask? Isn’t there ANYONE out there who can provide me with what I want? And I’m SURE there are plenty of other stinky-footed environmentalists who would pay good money for this as well! Come on, you eco-preneurs out there! Please?

Future handbag by this guy on Flickr.

July 28, 2007 at 8:38 am 34 comments

Tip: Minimal Packaging Please

mail

So I just discovered The Worsted Witch blog, and digging through the archives found this really great suggestion I just had to share here. If you shop online but are frustrated by all the unnecessary bubble wrap and evil Styrofoam peanuts they stuff with your package and almost certain flood of catalogs and junk mail to follow, here is what to do. When placing your online order, you can leave a note saying something like this:

 

“Please use minimal and recycled packaging. Kindly do not include any catalogs, inserts, fliers, shrink-wrap, bubble wrap, packing confetti, plastic “pillows,” or Styrofoam peanuts. (You can use crumpled up newspaper if padding is necessary.) Please do not include me in any mailing lists or exchange lists you may have. Thank you! “

Thank you to The Worsted Witch for the original wording. I only wish I had used this when I was ordering my Diva Cup and my Reusable Bags stuff. Duh. But now I know better.

No guarantees they will actually listen to you, but there is always hope. And there is also a better chance that they will eventually respond to popular demand of eco-friendlier packaging.

If you still end up with foam peanuts lying around, Treehugger for example has suggested that they can be brought back to packaging stores. If there is a mailing service in your area, you could also take them the packing boxes, as well as the peanuts and bubble wrap. And if you are crafty, you can always use the peanuts to make a bean bag. Although I imagine that would be quite a stash of peanuts you would need 😉

Photo by Miskan on Flickr.

July 23, 2007 at 10:00 am 16 comments

It rubs the lotion on its skin

I used to be a really high maintenance chick. I did. At some point, I had at least one different product for each body part, if not more. Let’s see, day cream, night cream, eye cream, hand cream, foot cream, one body lotion for arms and legs and another for the rest, special anti-cellulite cream (yeah, you can imagine how well that works). Body scrub, facial cleanser, sunscreen, perfume, make up, nail polish, not to mention shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, special tips serum, and of course, deodorant and toothpaste. Now I don’t know how “It” ever had the patience to rub all that crap on its skin.

I just got lazy. And I can’t alienate how nasty that stuff is anymore. Or maybe I just got me a one-way ticket to hippie-land. Next I will stop showering and using deodorant and grow rastas and wear tie-die clothes (kinda like this guy) and chant (but not around a fire because that emits CO2). Hmm… Naaaah! But my I think my boyfriend sometimes actually worries about this possibility.

In the meantime, I stopped using most of that stuff and slowly but surely started replacing my nasty products with greener ones. I only use the make up and perfume when I have social special occasions. I stopped ‘cleansing’ my face and didn’t notice any hostile acne takeovers. I stopped moisturizing and my skin is not scaling off yet. And I only put on some face lotion before I got out because of the SPF. I have to say, I stopped using a whole bunch of things and didn’t notice any difference at all.

I also started replacing the main stuff I use with their greener versions, mostly from these guys, mainly because I can find them at my organic shop at a reasonable price. But their stuff is pretty good, especially if you consider their extremely short and simple ingredient lists. I have to admit, their lotions are not the best smelling out there, but their lack of nasties totally makes up for that. In fact, after a while I actually came to like the ‘natural’ smell and started to strongly dislike the smell of conventional products. So far, I’m quite happy with natural toothpaste, lotion, and even shampoo and conditioner.

And I know how controversial shampoo can be. But I think that maybe the persistence is the key to the great shampoo drama. When I first got my natural shampoo, I have to say, I hated it for the first wash or two. It didn’t lather well and left my hair all dull and just overall horrible. But I am a cheap-ass so I just kept using it, and lo and behold, after a week it looked as good as ever. Now I want to decrease the washes from every other day to every 2 days. Once a week would be a dream, but I have to say that I am still a little skeptical of the whole no poo thing. I even tried it once, but that didn’t quite work out for me. And I know there are folks out there that are all about the soda and vinegar thing, but I don’t think I’m quite there yet. So I’ll just stick with my all-natural pooing for now.

Next I want to replace my paraben-laden deodorant, possibly with a solid one from lush. I was also thinking of trying their solid shampoo, but I don’t like the propylene glycol in them. I know there is SLS in it, but if Treehugger says SLS is innocent, I believe them. Ah, maybe I’ll try it anyway.

Oh, and on a related theme, I also changed to an eco-brand of dish washing liquid and I like it a lot more than the conventional one. It works just as good but it doesn’t leave nasty chemical smells on the frying pans like the other one did.

Photo by ktpupp on Flickr.

July 19, 2007 at 12:40 pm 8 comments

Reusable Vacuum Bags

cloth vacuum bagsSo, ok, I know I said I wasn’t going to buy anymore ‘things for the house’. But I went on my usual Wednesday shopping round, and stopped by Action because I was looking to buy some cheap gardening containers. I know that I shouldn’t be shopping at Action, because their stuff is just so ridiculously cheap that there is no doubt they are enslaving little Chinese children to make it. I mean, there is just no other rational explanation for why they can sell stuff so cheap.

But anyway, I didn’t find the flower pots, but I couldn’t resist getting a reusable vacuum bag. I mean, it was ONLY 1E!!! Who can resist that? And I just thought the idea was so funny that I thought I just had to try it out!

This picture gives a pretty good idea of what I got. The material is really crappy synthetic nylon type, with a zipper at the bottom to throw out the trash. The little white circle has is a sticker which you glue to the cardboard fitting that you take of your regular bags. That’s why the box claims it is a Universal vacuum bag. What I didn’t manage to figure out was what the hell the round thing with the sticker is attached to the opening with a Velcro. Anyone?

So I still have to try out if this thing actually works, and then I’ll get back to you. It looks promising, but for that price you can understand why I will have to see it to believe it before I can say anything about how it works. Clearly, not something for the prone to asthma to try 😀

The picture from here, where they are happy to sell them to you for 9,99$. Can’t be sure if it’s the same thing though. Has anyone heard of these?

———————————-

Edit:Duh! I figured out what the Velcro was for. Is pretty clever, actually! You leave the cardboard attachment in the vacuum and just take off the bag to empty it, and attach it with Velcro! That’s obvious! I can be pretty dim sometimes, huh?

June 20, 2007 at 5:05 pm 10 comments

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