Monthly Archives: March 2010

Organic Home Delivery

As a busy working Mama, I’m constanting adding items to my grocery list and am rarely as willing to head to the store. Because we take the bus to work, I can’t stop to grab something on my way home from work (which is probably a theoretical convenience.) So, I’m left trying to stock up for the week on Saturdays, which usually blows at least two hours of “free time.”

I love budget-friendly solutions…drum roll please…sign up for home grocery delivery! Spud is our local home delivery grocer of choice, and I’m actually just getting back into this practice (I actually got a Groupon for $25 to get $50 worth).

Previously they only offered produce and though delicious we had a hard time guaging how much we needed, especially during harvest time. I’m very excited by how much they have added lately; they now offer milk products, eggs, meat, baked goods and lots of pantry staples. Now we can order enough for a weekly delivery without feeling like we’re forced to eat nine fruits and veggies a day, not that it would be a bad thing for us… 

If you haven’t used a home delivery service before you may wonder – How can delivery save your family money? How can you trust the quality? How is this a more sustainable option? Here are my top reasons:

  1. They guarantee fresh produce, and it’s always fresher since delivery from field to your house is faster. I was really astounded with my first delivery.
  2. They create a weekly price comparison to prove that you are getting a real deal (in Portland with New Season’s and Safeway).
  3. They tell you how many miles your food has traveled, which is sometimes impossible to find in grocery stores.
  4. Buying online is really easy, you can set recurring items (weekly, every other week, etc.) and since I know that my family will always need certain items, this really a no-brainer. You can make lists, like for your pantry, snacks, etc. Once you’ve got it set up it should take you less than the time it probably takes to get to the store. Plus, you can plan family meals better and you’re not as likely to forget key items.
  5. They offset the carbon footprint of delivery, which actually lower with delivery than it would be to get goods from one warehouse to multiple grocers and shoppers driving too.
  6. I find it much easier to stick to a budget and not over-purchase. Lately I’ve been stopped by a Whole Wallet near our local library for a few items, and I can never get out of the store for less than $50!

If you’d like to try Spud out you can save $25 over your first 4 deliveries. Simply go to and sign-up using promo code CR5-147718. (They have delivery in Portland, Seattle, San Fransisco, Los Angeles and several Canadian cities).

Have you tried a home delivery service?
If you try them out, please leave a comment with your experience!

Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Vacuum love!

I know you may seriously be wondering what kind of spring cleaning bug I’ve caught, but I am in love with our new vacuum cleaner!

Here’s the back story:
Hubby and I bought a cheap Hoover when we moved in together just shy of ten years ago. It was a pretty momentous step in our relationship, as he insisted that we purchase it together…it may as well have been a proposal! So while it was never anything special, it got the job done. But for the past two years our vacuum has teetered on the edge of the dumpster, and I was glad to see it get through the holidays in tact.  So, I wasn’t shocked to come home and find it on front porch in pieces (yes, I’m lucky enough to have a Hubby who vacuums!).

There have been a few “Green” vacuum cleaners to hit the market recently, and I looked into these models:

Yet, I didn’t want our decision to be entirely driven by eco-marketing. Our criteria for a new vacuum were pretty simple:

  • Longevity – buying things that are built to last means less waste and resources
  • Local – we wanted to support the local economy (Stark’s)
  • Repairs & Recycling – the shop we chose also repairs and recycles vacuum parts
  • Responsible company – while Simplicity isn’t big into eco-marketing, they are all about quality. Machines are American made which ensures better wages and some environmental standards, plus it didn’t have to be shipped from Asia.

Plus, these are some of the whistles that sold us on the model we bought: HEPA filters, cloth filters, best for hard wood floors, very quiet, compact for carrying up/down stairs, adjustable suction, on/off brush roller, horse hair brushes, retracting cord…and yes, our BigGuy thinks its the new family toy, and yes, the best part is that Hubby still does the majority our vacuuming, and no, it doesn’t hurt that it’s my favorite color! 🙂 

Lastly, while it wasn’t a cheap disposable vacuum cleaner, it didn’t entirely break the bank. We bought our new vacuum (Simplicity Snap) for $360. For a purchase that we hope will last us at least ten years, it’s worth the price. What’s next? We’re hoping to repair our clunker before donating it, and then play when the vacuum some more… 

Do you pay for quality on long-term purchases? Will you buy an “eco-vacuum”?

Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Responsibility Revolution

Take three minutes from your Monday to check out this interview with the visionary Seventh Generation co-founder. He is really the type of leader business needs to make the shift toward sustainability and corporate responsibility. It’s refreshing see some of the corporate partnerships taking place lately. Nike has been trying to find sustainable solutions for fifteen years now, and now has a program sharing its sustainability “trade secrets” to other companies who want to further their sustainable practices. It’s also important from the consumer perspective, I love when he says “they’ve made it easy to make good sustainable decisions.” 

This is one of the core reasons I started this blog, because I believe every family wants to live well without harming the Earth. It’s a matter of finding the resources and having the social support to reach your goals. 

Do you think companies can be truly responsible? 
Which green companies are your favorite?

Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Green Gifts

A co-worker and friend is having a housing warming party, which gets me thinking about green gifts.
  • House plants  – Is there a better way to bring a little bit of nature inside than house plants? I love house plants and they are one of my favorite gifts to give (and receive). Many are very easy to propagate, and I often will snap off a piece (or my kids do it for me) and put in a vase until it roots. Yet, I also realize that not everyone is has a green thumb, so I try to only give ones that are easy to grow. Here some more favorites: prayer plant, Christmas cactus, philodendron, spider plant, wandering jew, asparagus ferns and jade plant (a symbol of prosperity). Aloe is perfect for kitchens in case of burns. House plants shared by friends can also become like family, my Mom has an angel-wing begonia from a friend since before I was born, and I have a plant from the same cutting.
  • Candles – Nothing warms a room like candles, but you want to make sure you give (and use) “green” ones. Many candles are petroleum based and some are made with a thin wire of lead in the wick (to help with dripping) obviously not good for your own environment. Pacifica  is my favorite candle-maker (and soap, lotion…)
  • Herbs – It’s very cost-effective to grow your own herbs for your pantry . Yet, you’ll find that come harvest time there’s almost always a surplus. Everyone could stand to refresh their herbs (I know I’m in need!), and moving is a great time to do it.
  • Seeds – After the blossoms fade it’s easy to collect seeds from your favorite flowers (or even in a friend’s yard), and they make perfect gifts.

Sharing things like seeds and herbs can be a great way to earn some social capital. Enjoy sharing the wealth!

What gifts do you give for a house warming?
Do you bring hostess gifts?

Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Doggy Debt

Many families wonder, what would it cost to own a dog? Well, since last summer we’ve been finding out for ourselves.

Last July we adopted our loving Doggy, a very large purebred black labrador who needed a family who would give him lots of exercise and lovin’. Our decision  was somewhat on a whim, so we were pretty naive about it all and I hadn’t given much thought to how much he would add to our monthly budget. Thankfully he hasn’t broken the bank yet, but here’s the rundown on things you might want to think about as a new dog owner.

Adoption:  Adoption is definitely the most cost-effective option. Unfortunately, due to the recession there are still many pets who have been given up and need a new home. The good news is that there are a lot of terrific pets available, and you’ll save a lot. Our Doggy was almost 5 when we got him, and had complete vet records which clearly showed that even a healthy puppy can be pretty expensive. We saved ourselves a lot of initial costs, and didn’t even end up paying a shelter fee because we adopted through a co-worker.

Supplies: While you have to really assess needs versus wants, there are still several supplies that come with dog owner territory: tags, leash, bowl, bed, brush, soap, chuck it, Frisbee and a Kong. You’ll also need several ongoing things: dog food, treats, dental bones and peanut butter for the Kong. We checked out books from the library, and researched online. Our start-up costs were almost $200, and our ongoing expenses average $40-50 per month.

Boarding: We’ve really lucked out on boarding, since I have a dog loving co-worker who has generously taken care of our Doggy on several occasions (we had several weekend trips planned before we adopted). I did spend $50 on a yoga gift certificate over the holidays as a token of our appreciation. If we hadn’t had such social capital handy, we would have to pay $35 per night. 

Vehicle: Truthfully, it first really crossed my mind as we driving to meet our beloved Doggy that we might need to purchase a larger vehicle as a result of our new family member. This is especially true because of our love for camping, which as a family of four means a car packed to the rooftop. We are both a bit reluctant to buy a minivan, but our Doggy may push the issue earlier than we had hoped. We are going to try out a large rooftop carrier first…we’ll let you know the verdict after a cabin trip planned for May.

There are plenty of extensive resources on the costs of dog ownership if you want to consider it further. 

Lastly, the decision to own a dog is not all about the expense though, and there are may “payoffs” that can’t be accounted for. We love going on walks as a family with our Doggy and playing fetch in the backyard. He provides free daily exercise and a mental break, as Hubby wakes up at 5:30 to walk him (part of the reason this blog is always set to post at 5:30). The first Girly giggles and BigGuy lessons are priceless. Plus, he’s now family.

Does your family have a dog, what expenses have surprised you?

Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.