Monthly Archives: April 2011

Keeping up with the “Greens” – Personal Energy Reports

My grandmother’s maiden name was Green and married name was Jones, so I find it funny that “keeping up with the jones'” is so out nowadays. Whether we like it or not, peer pressure causes social change. Society is creating social pressure to be greener than your neighbor.

A friend of mine showed me a “personal energy report” she had gotten the mail from her utility, NW Natural. The idea of analyzing your own energy usage isn’t novel, but I find it really interesting that the utility would compare your energy usage to your own neighbors

As you can see, her energy usage is much better than her neighbors (she’s also single and energy conscious). Note the smiley faces…I’m curious if they are absent or greyed out when you are “more than average”:

They also showed her last year’s usage, and showed how much money she saved, which provides additional incentive to continue saving energy. $1,253 is sure worth it!

With a little searching, I found out that this is a pilot program, and these letters were mailed to 60,000 Portlanders at random. Here’s a quick news clipped where they interview the Energy Trust of Oregon about the pilot. I sure hope it turns into an industry standard!

Does your utility provide a personal energy report?
How do you think you’d compare to your neighbors?

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


In this mid-week phase (especially after having a sick family including myself last week), I need a little inspiration to get through this week. While I’m more in need of wrapping up lots of tasks, Ben Lee’s Begin always gets me going. 

The video isn’t what I envision for the song, but we each have our own personal spin.

I first got into Ben Lee by listening to Pandora, a great source of free music.

Ben Lee’s Begin video:

What are you ready to begin?

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

Grocery Delivery – is it worth the price?

I’ve raved often of my love for Spud, for our organic grocery delivery service. So, I was dismayed to discover they are going out of business in the Portland area, effective immediately.

Ironically, this past week I had been inspired by Parent Hacks printable grocery list and started a draft of our ongoing grocery list. I had smugly colored all the items that we got regularly from Spud. Yet, before my list was even print ready, the sad news was sinking in…I’m going to be heading to the grocery store a whole lot more often again.

Naturally, they recommended two other delivery options in the Portland area – Organics to You and New Seasons

Organics to You surely has great produce, but they lack the dairy/staples that I’ve grown to love from Spud. The other problem is that Organics to You operates essentially like a CSA – there are no substitutions for orders – if you don’t like brussel sprouts you’re still stuck with them. 

New Seasons is a full service market, but they charge $10 for each delivery I love New Season’s, but the closest one is a 15 minute drive and I almost always spend more than I expect. I suspect that the $10 charge may be worth the savings on impulse spending.

Update:  New Seasons announces that they will soon stop their  grocery delivery service

The other problem is that time feels like money, and I have a feeling that I’m going to spending more of my valuable free at the grocery store…

For tomorrow, I know I’m now out of cream for my coffee…

Do have your groceries delivered?
Is it worth the price?

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

Dr. Bronner’s Soap & Film

It may be a bit nerdy, but Hubby and I love a  good documentary. Over the weekend we rented Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soapbox from Netflix. It was a really intriguing film about the legacy of a man, and now a family.

Since my parents were some of the hippies who flocked to his “magic soap,” I’ve grown up on Dr. Bronner’s .  I’ve always loved the tingly feeling of the peppermint, and the fact that it’s biodegradable. I enjoy their lotions too, and have the lavender one at my bed side.

I remember sometime in childhood asking my Mom about the religious/spiritual messages on the soap labels…all-one seemed like a unifying belief, but I wasn’t so sure how the rest of it fit together…Dr Bronner’s philosophy blends lots of different truths to create his own unique truth. 

Dr. Bronner lived a fascinating life, and was steadfast in sharing his truth. CIA files labeled him as a “nutty,” although it’s to know if his shock therapy in the “nut house” only made his preaching more emphatic. Disturbingly, he sacrificed his children for his cause, and they grew up in orphanages while he traveled sharing his gospel.  I don’t want to give away the whole film, but the trailer is below and you can start to get a feel for the zany scientist/soap-maker/spiritual speaker. 

I also learned some more reasons to love Dr. Bronner’s soap:

  • First to produce a 100% post-consumer recycled bottle.
  • Organic and proud of it – they’ve been working hard to keep the standards high
  • Fair Trade – and not just their supply chain – DB’s top execs make no more than 5 times the lowest paid employee, and all staff have health care and retirement plans
  • Advocates for industrial hemp – hemp’s high omegas make it great for soap!

Dr. Bronner’s granddaughter is a mom, and has a blog all about her ways of going green.

As suggested, I use it for both personal hygiene and household cleaning. I have yet to try all of the ways they suggest using it though, and I’m planning to get more adventurous in my usage. If you start using Dr. Bronner’s religiously, I promise you’ll save your family money and promote sustainable and people-friendly business practices.

Here’s the trailer to the film about the magic soap maker:

Does your family use Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps?

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