Category Archives: consumer culture

Talking about Earth Day with your kids

I’m blown away by a video that poet and rapper, Prince Ea, did for Stand for Trees. It is quite simply the most poetic expression of pure truth, here on Earth Day 2015. I hope you’ll take a moment to watch this incredible call to action…then continue the conversation in the comments.

I showed my kids the video this morning, and I think they were really moved. I realized recently that I’ve been so wrapped up in raising three kiddos and launching my part-time businesses that I haven’t really had “the talk” with them about environmental issues and my previous (and now regenerated) passion for sustainable living. I’m sure there are more conversations to follow, but this was a good starting place for a conversation.

After twenty-five years of calling myself an environmentalist, I’m finally ready to take my sustainability commitment to the next level. It’s unconscionable not to at least give this planet our best try, and I actually think it will be inspiring to create a “global warming of our hearts.” I know my kids would love to be part of the solution and have bright and shining spirits to share with the world. This is just the beginning, a new leaf.

I wasn’t familiar with Stand for Trees, but there website is really impressive and there programs and impacts are explained very clearly. They seem to have a really savvy approach. I’m hopefully they will be part of the solution. Green Empowerment, the non-profit organization Miel leads, is another group poised to make a powerful positive impact on our planet. Their work is already underway, we just need to support them.

So, I’m committing this Earth Day 2015 to offset my family’s carbon footprint 100% by 2020.

Sorry, but I’m not ready to apologize.

What are you going to stand for?

How will you offset your impact and work together to fix this thing?

With light and love,


10+ year Fluevogs

Hubby just resoled his 10 year old Fluevogs. It’s hard to believe, but he still gets lots of compliments on them…probably for the style, not the scuffs. But they are still super comfy, and he wears them every day.

Fluevogs aren’t cheap, today they range around $200 (I think his were a spendy $100 when he bought them). But he bought them with the intention of resoling and its worked out for him, which he’s did once already after five years of use.

Shoe resoling ran him $40 at Derek’s Shoe Repair, a local place in downtown Portland. But I also found NuShoe online shoe repair that looks like they do a fantastic job.

A few years ago I wanted to resole a pair of shoes, but it turned out they were just too cheap. The way I see it now is that you’re either going to pay up front or pay later. But if you buy quality shoes, you’ll likely be more comfortable and feel more stylish. Plus, you’ll be responsible for one less pair of shoes in a landfill.

If you’re really crafty, I found a great site for How to Resole Shoes and another about the green benefits of shoes resoling.

I only wish that Danskos could be resoled…then I’d be in business too, for now I’m just glad that I have a few pairs that have lasted me almost ten years too…

Does your family buy shoes that can be repaired?

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

Just Between Friends Lessons

I just got back from picking up leftover items that didn’t sell at this weekend’s Just Between Friends sale in Portland. I wrote earlier about signing up to volunteer/consign and the emotional process of tagging sale items…now I want to share my experience and lessons learned.

First, I have to say that I had fun volunteering, and it was amazing to see such a massive resale event. I’ve certainly never seen anything like it, and it was like a green version of Black Friday! The organizers Brooke and Tammy deserve compliments for hosting such a well-organized and friendly event. 🙂

Second, I have to admit that I didn’t make any money In the end I sold only 11 items for $31, and bought 19 items for $67 worth of clothes for Girly.  But that’s not to say that I didn’t get a bargain…I sold things I no longer needed, and bought a whole set of clothes in the next size up. The most expensive item I bought was $6.50 for brand new Gymboree jeans (with originally priced at $30), and cheapest was a Gymboree swim top and shorts for $2.50…hopefully most of them can be resold in another year…

Third, my limited sales is also because I had already gave away a lot of the clothes as hand-me-downs to close friends,  all of our Big Guy’s summer clothes to a friend in Costa Rica, and virtually all of Girly’s clothes were passed on to a close family friend. I don’t regret sharing, but it did mean less to sell.

Yet, here are my mistakes:

  • Waited too long to start tagging…it’s not that it really takes that long, but I just don’t have much spare time…what mom really does?! But my biggest excuse was not having enough hangers, which is critical for clothing. It meant having some items half ready, which really made me feel defeated for the effort I had made…so my lesson is to start tagging now for the next fall sale.
  • Once I did start, I made the mistake of tagging a whole bunch of fall/winters clothes, because that’s what I happened to find first in the basement, so I didn’t include any of it in this sale…good thing I’ve got a jump on the next sale 😉
  • Should have sold my baby gear! Since I had never been to a sale, I was reluctant to haul all my gear to the sale, in case it didn’t sell. I now know that baby gear is the main reason most shoppers love JBF sales.
  • Sell and buy toys! I only brought a few toys, but they all sold. I bought Girly a Sweet Pea  doll for $3 to match a Hunny Bunny  she already has…I looked for another doll because she lost her one true baby doll, but there weren’t any I liked enough…hint, hint, there’s a market for nice used dolls!
  • Price to sell. I probably overpriced a few really cute outfits, partly because due to original cost and partly due to sentimentality. If anything, I think you’d be better off to tag/price with a friend, just so your prices are reasonable. There is a pricing guide online, but there is still a range, and the different between a dollar or two is the difference between it getting sold or not.
  • I volunteered for the first two hours organizing the bedding section, and I have a few tips for selling blankets. Some people bagged blankets in Ziplocks, and it seemed to me that these didn’t sell…people want to feel blankets. It seemed that blankets packaged in ribbon sold better, because you want them tidy too.
  • I just wish that I had heard about JBF sales when I was pregnant, I have no doubt that I could have saved myself a least a grand if I had stocked up at JBF. Beyond the bargain, I do love the resale ethic. When our Big Guy was learning to walk, I remember being torn about buying a brand new push mail cart and a stand-up leap frog music table…if I had known about JBF, I wouldn’t have had all that guilt about buying new plastic gear that will only be used for a few months! 

What lessons do you have from JBF sales?

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

Just Between Friends Sale Prep

I’ve been really busy this week…tagging items for the Just Between Friends consignment sale in Portland this weekend (Sat/Sun at the Expo).  I’ve been prepping part-time for about a month time, but crunch time is here. 

I feel like quite the novice, but thankfully they’ve made the learning curve easier. JBF has lots of quick videos and tip sheets to explain the do’s and don’t of consigning. It turns out that I won’t be able to purge as much as I was hoping, since they only accept seasonal clothing (so no cute holidays sweaters!) I also realized how much was really stained or ripped, so I’ve got a big donate pile.

But what I didn’t completely expect were the emotions involved in sorting through all the baby/little kid clothes. I should have known, since a good friend recruited me to help her with the task of sorting her baby items (and generously donated her used items for my service of helping her!) Together we managed to be pretty efficient and didn’t get too bogged down in the emotions of purging

Yet, when my turn came, it was harder to detach myself from the memories and personal meaning of each cute outfit…like the Easter sweater here. I had managed OK, but then our Big Guy started asking me why we weren’t having another baby…again. He’s been asking us for a baby for months now, and it always tugs at my heart. We’ve made the decision to stay a family of four last summer, but it’s not the easiest thing to explain to a child, especially one who is so eager to help out (even claiming he’ll change diapers!) The kicker was this time he asked if I was selling the birthing tub I used for Girly, I actually already sold it on Craigslist…but the question once again made me second guess our choice…maybe getting some new/secondhand clothes will give me more to look forward to…plus I tried to tell myself that I’m sharing the joy!  

Have you shopped/consigned at a Just Between Friends sale?
Here’s a great review from a fellow mom blogger.

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

Eco Shower Curtain

I try not to buy into our consumer culture by putting off purchases as long as possible. But after hearing Hubby bug me for months about buying a new shower curtain, I was finally ready to shop. 

After watching Blue Vinyl, a documentary about the environmental and health hazards of the vinyl industry, I knew that I wanted a PVC free shower curtain. This Green Planet also explains how vinyl curtains are bad for your family.

Instead of trying my luck at the most convenient big box store (Target last time), I decided that I could likely find a more   eco-friendly option shopping online .

I quickly found a lot of great options, here are my favorites:

Our family bathroom is a bright orange sherbet hue, and our last shower curtain was a bright world map. So, I really like the colorful/playful/teachable style. We also agreed that we’ll need a new world map for somewhere else in the house.

I want to reiterate that I did my best to keep our previous curtain clean and presentable for as long as possible. I diligently washed it, but once it started to tear, Hubby insisted on replacing it. I found some great tips on cleaning shower curtains from Create Plenty, a new group in Portland that is teaching these type of eco-life skills.  Apparently most households replace their shower curtains every 1-2 year,  I feel pretty good that I managed to use our for 3 1/2 years. 

So, if you’re still mulling over a new Earth Day commitment, how about washing your old curtain or buying a new “eco” curtain?!

Does your family you have an eco shower curtain?

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