Ultimate budget buster – bottled water

I’ve been an advocate of tap water for a long time. I was outraged the first time I saw a bottle of Fiji brand water, I had just returned from this South Pacific paradise and couldn’t believe that someone was getting rich exploiting Fijian resources. On the remote island where I stayed local Fijians barely had access to clean water and were experiencing fish storages (a.k.a. going hungry). Fiji also happens to be 5,000 miles away!!! I wondered how they could possibly afford to make a “profit,” Annie’s brief video explains how:

Back on the mainland, in Portland there’s an I Love Tap Water campaign. I sport several fun stickers on my stainless steel water bottle, but I feel like this doesn’t go far enough any more. I really like how Annie advocates for public investment in water infrastructure. There is also more info on the Story of Stuff about simple and powerful actions your family can take.

Has your family taken a pledge to drink only tap water?
Are you ready to take more actions to end this “manufactured demand”?

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

Beach Clean-up

My first SOLV beach clean-up was sometime in my teens, and it had a big impact personally. It was empowering see volunteers dotting the beach on a common mission to restore the beach to its natural beauty and remove the hazards of humanity. I don’t know if I should feel proud or disgusted, but SOLV reported over 50,000 pounds of garbage removed at the last beach clean-up. I haven’t participated in a formal beach clean-up since college, and I’m ready to make this a family tradition. It’s a simple and fun way to feel both an immediate gratification and a long term connection, both socially and environmentally. 

We’re also going to be “yurting” with friends at a campground, which will certainly make it an affordable getaway. If you haven’t been to a yurt before, they are semi-permanent tents (originally from Mongolian nomads.) Oregon’s state park yurts include beds to sleep up to five people with lighting and small heaters. Yurts are like hybrid-camping with basic amenities in a campground atmosphere, and a great way to get in nature during the off season. We’ll get a campfire and s’mores without the need to bundle up like marshmallows ourselves. We’re also not going to be roughing it entirely as we’re staying near a small coastal town and will be grabbing pizza on Friday night and planning brunch on Sunday. My only advice is to plan early, at least in Oregon, yurts are so popular that they are booked six months in advance…so plan your next family adventure soon!

Do you participate in clean-ups with your family?
How about yurting?


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

PS The Spring 2010 beach clean-up totaled over 70,500 pounds! 

To-Do List

I don’t know about you, but I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with to-do lists. My Hubby teases me because I have multiple lists: grocery lists, weekly, monthly, longer term, camping list, party list, life list…a list for almost any occasion. I vacillate between feeling like my to-do lists keep me very productive and inspired, and feeling like they make my dreams appear further away than they really are.

I’ll be honest that while I’m really good at dreaming up my longer term goals and envisioning how I want things to go, it can sometimes feel like the day-to-day demands trump my deeper desires. So, I’m continuing with my baby step strategy and I hope that you’ll cut yourself some slack too. Reminding myself to live in the moment and be grateful for the abundance we have already created.

The other challenge is that while Hubby isn’t in the habit of writing down things, he does have his own mental list of things he wants to accomplish and do as a family. Communication isn’t always easy with two small kiddos who want every ounce of your attention. So, sometimes there’s a disconnect.

How do you manage your family’s “to-do” list?
What’s at the top of your list?

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

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 www.spud.com 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.