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Below are the 16 most recent journal entries recorded in Living thriftier, greener and more mindfully's LiveJournal:

Friday, October 10th, 2008
11:36 pm
Hey, cool video.

I joined the green team at my workplace. It's interesting to hear all the reasons why people decide to be more green. I feel like shouting, HURRAY, when I think of all the things people do at their workplace as well as at home to be more green.
Sunday, May 25th, 2008
12:47 pm
Coffee Filter Tips
A couple little thrifty green tips:

We don't have bacon often, but I made some yesterday. Now that we have given up paper towels in favor of reusable cloth, I had to find something new to blot it on when I was done. Aha -- I used coffee filter from the previous day! I emptied the grounds into the compost, tore it open and arranged the bacon on the clean side of the filter. Worked like a charm.

It's also possible to reuse coffee grounds from one day to the next. Simply add one new spoon full of coffee to the previous day's grounds and brew again. I can't tell the difference. (Only two days in a row - don't keep adding - that would be gross.)
Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008
10:33 pm
How big is your carbon footprint?
A nifty quiz with lots of great tips. http://www.myfootprint.org/en/

I must say, I was disappointed by my results. Even though we were significantly below the averages for our area, it still said that if every one on earth lived our lifestyle, it would require 3.33 Earths to sustain. The goal is one or less. I think the main issue for us was the size of the house per people, and supermarket groceries most of the time.
Saturday, March 22nd, 2008
11:26 am
Computer Storage and Disaster Planning Saves $ and Digital Lives
How much is your digital life worth?

It was worth $150 or so for me to buy an external hard drive to back up our G5 Mac. And then to pay a tech guy to come out and get it set up right... and to buy some backup software, although it never quite worked right and we suspected a hard drive problem.

The problem got worse and we finally were able to back up with Time Machine before taking it to the Apple store, where they replaced the hard drive without reinstalling anything from our old one (we had a backup, eh). But something went wrong and the back up was over-written.

Now how much is my digital life worth?

Every single day I come home from work and find I can't resume my everyday life: can't balance the checkbook, email a friend, etc, because I no longer have anything. And that's only the stuff I use daily. Worse yet is the loss of creative work and ideas.

Getting my life back was easily worth the $100 it cost to get data recovery software - the mistake I made was I should have tried it out before buying because it only partially worked. It couldn't rebuild usable files.

Now how much is my digital life worth?
My only remaining option is a data recovery company - $500 to $1200.

I'm paying it, but I'm also going to start backing up critical files online. Google now offers Google Documents. At the moment, it's free. But I recently saw a posting on Wise Bread for these free online storage services as well.

XDRIVE (5GB free storage)
MOZY (2GB free storage, unlimited file size/bandwidth)
MEDIAMAX (25GB free storage, file-sharing, unlimited file size/bandwidth - don't use to download files larger than 10Mb)
BOX.NET (1GB free storage)
ESNIPS (5GB free storage, file-sharing, unlimited file size/bandwidth)

There are oh so many ways that tragedy can be avoided. Multiple backups is one of them.

Current Mood: distressed
Friday, March 14th, 2008
11:12 am
Oliver Heath on the power of recycling
Hi all. This is a new video by British interior designer Oliver Heath on the great things that can be achieved by home recycling:

Saturday, March 1st, 2008
7:41 am
Old habits hard to break, new habits hard to learn
A confession and a recommitment:

Last week, my department was moved and rearranged, so I brought home a box of personal items to prevent them getting lost in the cube shuffle. These items including the silverware, plate and cloth napkins I'd resolved to start using in place of disposable.

Yesterday, before leaving to go home for the weekend, I was dismayed by the sudden realization that I had just added a fourth paper plate and plastic fork and a bunch of paper napkins to my trash. Even though I was still reusing my same coffee spoon, bringing home my soup can to recycle, and setting aside used paper to print on the other side, I was so used to using disposable junk set out beside the treats, that it didn't even register with me until it had piled up.

Living thrifty green demands constant vigilance! (And a little will power wouldn't hurt, either. Did I really need all the birthday cake and pastries just because it was free?)
Saturday, February 9th, 2008
7:19 am
thrifty business

I very much like the idea of thrifty green, particularly as I have decided oh so recently to become more money minded and stop wasting so much of it.  My boyfriend is totally thrifty, or as I like to call him 'frugal" but in a good way.  He has taught the manic spender (me) to take things easy and that there are benefits in that.  He's frugal to the point that he will hold onto even a dollar, and while it might seem crazy and useless, those dollars do add up.  I recently put one of his good ideas into action.  

The mortgage....horrible thing that won't go away.  I stopped buying morning coffee and lunches at work, and instead started to bring fruit from home.  I worked out what I would save each day by not having coffee and lunch, and now I pay this extra off my mortgage.  It might not seem like much, but lunches and coffees add up, and where I used to tell myself I deserved it during my hard working day, instead it is helping to pay the mortgage and it DOES add up.  Already it has put me in front, I call it my backstop, just in case of a rainy day, and watching this difference get larger and larger is quite encouraging.  The thing with fruit from home too, and it doesn't have to be fruit, it can be veggies if you want, or a mixture of fruit, veg and nuts if you like, but I find it easier.  I grab a variety of fruit or I buy it at the supermarket near where I work.  It doesn't bloat you, it's healthy, it's filling, and it's not expensive (not here anyway.)  And it's not fattening.  I have saved a lot of money this way and it's much healthier.  ALSO, not having takeaway coffee means no rubbish to get rid off, no cups, plastic spoons or sticks, and no wrappers for lunches or whatever other packaging was involved in my lunches.  I don't wrap the fruit.  

Well, that's one thing I do.  There are others.  I will be interested to get tips from others.  It's really good to share ideas like 

Monday, February 4th, 2008
6:15 pm
Green anthems?
In case you haven't seen this already. I love it. And I think of it every time I take the bags down from the hook by the backdoor.

What other songs would make good anthems? I wish Kermit the Frog would revise his song, "It IS easy being Green."
5:57 pm
Haunted by thousands of dead plastic spoons ...
About two years ago, I was just about to drop my plastic coffee spoon in the waste basket when I stopped and thought about how many perfectly good spoons I throw away. So I saved it. I tuck it into a rubber band around my travel mug.

I estimate that I use it about 3 times per day, 15 times per week, around 750 per year. That's 1,500 plastic spoons saved since I started. And since I now have my own silverware, plate and cloth napkin at work, I have eliminated plastic forks, knives and paper napkins that I would have used at meetings and parties.

What little things do you do that add up (and maybe even inspire others)?

I think it would be a good idea to invent a travel mug designed to hold a companion spoon - like those canisters that come with their own scoop on the side.
Saturday, February 2nd, 2008
11:06 am
Buy Bulk Challenge
Challenge: Try a bulk version of a favorite product and post about it.

What do you buy in bulk? How's it working for you? Want to add a challenge of your own to encourage others to stretch their thrifty green skills?

I prefer square plastic bins with lock-down lids. They are clear and fit together well. I buy flour, sugar, yeast, beans, rice, corn meal, noodles, oatmeal, cereal, seasonings, honey, oils, eggs etc.

My biggest surprise was how delicious the locally produced bulk eggs are. I had no idea eggs could be that good.
I bake a a couple loafs of bread each week, and I greatly prefer using the flour from the bulk container rather than using the messy bag. The bulk yeast is ridiculously cheap compared to the packets or jars.

We haven't yet purchased liquid soaps or shampoos because we keep forgetting to take our containers to the store. We will try harder.

Tip: Save those recyclable bottles and jars to reuse for your bulk. (Soy sauce, salad dressing, honey, etc. The familiar packaging makes the transition easier, and it saves you the expense of buying more bottles and dispensers.
Tuesday, January 29th, 2008
6:46 pm
Cold weather thrift and energy
It's been below zero in Minnesota for weeks. We've been keeping the thermostat around 64 and wearing sweaters, socks and slippers. A shawl on the lap or shoulders is cozy while working at the computer.

However - my office in the basement is an icebox. That's where my desktop computer is located, so when I work in there, I've been using a space heater. Dave also has a space heater in his bedroom to take the edge off when he first goes to bed. Both of us claim to turn of four heaters when we're not in the room, and we' don't leave them on overnight.

However - our electric bill was up $40 over last month, despite our conscious efforts to use less energy and turning off all of our appliances with power strips. The heaters are the only difference we can think of.

When it's this cold, it's a quality of life issue. Since we're already bundled up, and the rooms are already insulated as well as they can be, what other ideas do you have? Battery operated socks and gloves? Udder cream?

I'm thinking about experimenting with candles, cans, bowes and tin foil. Any tips?
Saturday, January 26th, 2008
3:02 pm
No Poo
 Someone on my f-list just posted some very positive results from her switch to the "No-Poo" approach to haircare which she found here http://babyslime.livejournal.com/174054.html.   I looked through the comments and it seems like this is working for a lot of people.  I had already switched from washing my hair every day, but it would be nice to break my reliance on packaged shampoo.  I'm going to give it a try.  

Edit: someone sent me another link to the same idea 

12:35 pm
Gray water
Another component to our living frugal/living green campaign is implementing a gray water strategy - capturing "warm-up" water and waste water from the sink, shower and washing machine and reusing it to flush the toilets. I also use water from the rain barrel and dehumidifier to water plants and top off the aquarium. So far, so good. It's surprising how much gray water you can accumulate that fast!

I don't care for the "if it's yellow, let it mellow" rule. That's too gross for me - but at the rate I'm collecting waste water, it's not an issue.

Since we started this a few months ago, we've cut our water usage in half. I am convinced we can cut even more.
Read more...Collapse )

Surprise gray water bonuses
Gray water smells nice like laundry soap - it's free air freshener!
Needing to refill the buckets is an incentive for staying caught up with laundry!
Going into the laundry room regularly keeps cat box maintenance on schedule!
Stair climbing and weight training without the expense of a gym membership!
Not only reuse waste water, but uses much less water to flush!
Pride at one's thrifty-greeness quickly overshadows minimal grossness factor!

For the future:
Explore actually replumbing the house to use gray water.
Keep an eye out for more attractive, less obtrusive buckets
11:46 am
Thrifty speed shopping!
Grocery shopping. Ugh. Careful shopping for select coupon and sale items, and keeping track of unit prices -ISH! I don't want to spend my whole evening in the damn store!

So- I needed a battle plan.

I grabbed a store map that they have at the end of each aisle where I shop most often. I used it to create a complete master list of all the items I am likely to buy. The list, with check boxes beside each item is laid out in the order that I travel through the store. Now I go down the aisle and check off the list in order, as I go.

But the real clever part is this: The list looks all random, so it's had to find items to check off what you're filling out your list at home. So I copy/pasted the master list in Word, sorted it alphabetically and laid out the list on the other side of the page. I put it in a plastic sheet protector and attached a dry-erase marker and put it in the kitchen. Now, everyone in the family can check off what we need on the alpha list, and it's easy for me (the primary shopper) to quickly transfer the alpha list items to the store map list on the facing page.

Bonus: Since most household items are cheaper at a discount or drug store than at a grocery store, I made a separate list for those items.

It took about two hours at the computer to create the list and do the formating, but now I can do "big" grocery shopping (like eight reusable tote bags worth) in about 20-30 minutes - and that includes reading unit prices and using coupons.

Update: Since I originally posted this, I've started shopping multiple stores to take advantage of best deals, and I buy a lot more in bulk. That has reduced my speed but further improved my savings.
11:23 am
Cheaper, healthier, more environmentally friendly practices
Note These first few entries are brought over from my other journal, so they are mostly lists. Future posts will be more narrative - talking about what's working, and some of the surprising benefits we've noticed.)

From Oct. 2007: Expanding on my wife's list: (in no particular order)

Read more...Collapse )
11:09 am
How we got started
This is lifted from my wife's journal, Oct 16, 2007

On Wise Bread yesterday they were asking people what commitments they were making to the environment. Reading through those lists, I realized that as my family has become more committed to handling our money responsibly, we have also become more green. We've done a lot of things in the last couple of years. Read more...Collapse )

With the money we are saving, WE WILL make progress on our 10-year plan to make our house more energy independent with solar or geothermal.
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