Sunday, November 28, 2010


DAY 244

I have settled down on my Sun Chip Bag issues....seems it is common knowledge out there that the bags are being phased out. I have certainly heard some interesting/fun conversations about it! Seems Frito-Lay is going back to the drawing board and will try again for the sound sensitive snackers. OK.

The Wegman's in Ithaca, NY has compostable plastic take out containers now - excellent! I enjoyed my vegetarian goodies on the road with the peace of mind of reasonable plastic. Weggy's has figured it out, hopefully FL can too.

Anyway, I am still on my quest for "natural" health and beauty finishing up some Body Shop products that I like but don't love. Good timing as my friend Erin is now promoting a new great organic product line called Neal's Yard Remedies - will give them a try - my only concern is that they are produced in the UK - not local at all! Nonetheless, most of their products are organic, non-animal testing, etc. and have a lot of the other features I am looking for. I used these products the year I lived in London - an established company for 20 years. Here is the NYR Product statement and their "just say no" list:

"Health is the most important thing to us. When formulating and making our products, we follow the precautionary principle – which means not using anything we believe could cause you, or the planet harm."

NO ANIMAL TESTING - unnecessary and cruel
NO GMO INGREDIENTS - not enough is known about the long-term implications
NO PARABENS - linked to oestrogen overproduction
NO NANO PARTICLES - not enough is known about their long-term implications
NO SYNTHETIC FRAGRANCES - often associated with allergic reactions
NO SYNTHETIC COLOURS - often associated with allergic reactions
NO SILICONES - coat the skin, impeding its natural function
NO MINERAL OILS - derived from petroleum, have a tendency to block the skin
NO PHTHALATES - reported to have toxic impact on human and animal life
NO EDTA - doesn't readily biodegrade
NO PROPYLENE GLYCOL - derived from petroleum
NO CARBOMER - derived from petroleum
NO DEA - associated with known carcinogens

Now there is a consultant based organization here in the US - Erin is 1 of 1000 consultants in the US in this new initiative - her website here:

Erin also re-directed me to a website(via Amy Jane Stewart! that rates products on their toxicity levels - very interesting - Check it out:

Will let you know how this turns out... More to come on making Christmas gifts - I have committed to only hand-made by me or second-hand gifts...and I do not mean re-gifting!

Have a Nothing New Day! Kristin

Monday, November 15, 2010

Snow's a Coming...

DAY 231

I have calmed down after my Sun Chip Bag peace everyone, OK? And less trash in the landfills, please, that's all I'm saying!

Prepping for our favorite season here in Rochester - we call it "The Winter Time" or The I'll See You When the Sun Comes Back Out, Like Maybe Never, or Sometime in May Time". I finally cleaned out the small garden in the front of my house...I'd let it go free willy since August and there were many an interesting item including a small tree and a spiky tropical looking plant that I had no memory of whatsoever. Lots of holes in the dirt - buried squirrel treasure - and a ton of dead leaves. There are no trees right above this garden so I am not sure where said leaves came from - strange. A real mystery. By the way, rumor has it that October was Squirrel Awareness Month - also a mystery! Not to be confused with National Squirrel Appreciation Day on January 21st... I was cutting, pulling and pondering how I was going to fit garlic planting into my day tomorrow, I got to thinking about a great conversation I had with some conference attendees on Saturday about Nothing New...I love that this is s conversation starter and I always appreciate what others know and are doing in their lives to cut back, cut down, take out, put in, etc.

Their first question to me (as it usually is) was "What about food?" The follow up questions are really about eating out, eating junk, preparing food vs prepared foods...We talked about eating locally and having a garden...they told me what they are doing too - all great! I do believe every small change, habit or effort is significant...We exchanged a few more ideas on food, cleaning products and health/beauty goodies, then parted ways on a reminder of Burt's Bees products - the second time in one week that BB has been put on my radar - it's a sign. Will look again to check for my criteria...

Snow soon according to the "talk" but I just saw 40s and 50s on the weather? Hmmmm - may still have time to paint the porch steps once more before winter really gets here. I'd like a different color blue, but will use up the paint from last year and start fresh next Spring to do the porch floor too...

Been thinking about doing another year of Nothing New...

Have a Nothing New Day! (Month, Quarter, Year?) Kristin

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Really? A Rant on Sun Chip Bag Haters

DAY 230

I just found out that the great new (revolutionary) compostable Sun Chip bag is going to be discontinued in the US because the bag is too loud. Really? Too loud for what? Too loud? Take them out of the bag and put them in a bowl. Too loud? Stop trying to sneak food in the middle of the night. Too loud? Get off the couch and and stop watching NOTHING on TV. Too loud? Just deal with it because it reduces waste and the product tastes great!

This must mean that there are people out there with enough free time to complain in general about a chip bag - enough time to complain to Frito-Lay and enough time create a FB page to complain - 53,249 people "like" the SORRY BUT I CAN'T HEAR YOU OVER THIS SUN CHIPS BAG page. Really?

My message to the 53,249: Try more about the environment, work on bigger issues than loud snack bags, eat better, get over it!

I really hope Frito-Lay reverses their decision and continues the bag here as they have in Canada (they get it) Do not cave to misguided and narrow-minded consumers FL! To be fair, I can see the business side of things...there was an 11% decrease in sales of Sun Chips over the past year. Well, shame on us as consumers then.

I am personally bummed - of course in a "non-life threatening/I will be able to move on by tomorrow" kind of way. I had been buying only Sun Chips in the compostable bag for every snack need - even when I REALLY wanted salt & vinegar potato chips with my sandwich and tortilla chips with my salsa. I know, I know, should be eating carrots and remain grateful to be able to afford snacks...Check and check.

Read a great article from Fast Company Magazine for more info:

And check out this funny Canadian video:

I will continue to buy Sun Chips - their plant in Modesto, CA (1 of 8 plants) uses solar energy to create the chips there...good!

OK, I am going to have a little snack now - plug your ears!

Have a Nothing New Day! Kristin

Friday, November 5, 2010

Recyle, Recycle, wherfeore art thou Recycle?

Day 221

I have of late, wherefore I know not, lost all my mirth, I mean plastic, OK, I mean glass! No paper! Wait, what?...So I have a little Shakespeare on my mind as I ponder the absence of recycling opportunities on my current trip. Therefore, my suitcase is filling up with plastic, glass and paper to bring home and recycle at my house. I even washed out the containers from Chipotle, my new FAVORITE restaurant - "local food with integrity" - check it out:

By the way, beware, this page makes a cockadoodledo sound when it opens and it just scared the --- out of me here in the woods in a cabin by myself...breathe, oh man - just lost a pound.

Anyway, back to recycling, the Hilton Garden Inn in Atlanta - nothing. The Holiday Inn Express in Carter Lake, IA - also nothing - except I give the front desk clerk huge credit for offering to come up to my room to take my recyclables for me - I guess there are a few individuals there that take the stuff home themselves...why doesn't the company as whole provide it? Argh.

The camp here does not recycle and all weekend we are using disposable plastic silverware and styrofoam plates - drats. At least I have my To Go Ware with me! Water bottle and coffee mug too...that will help a little. So, I asked the students to use one cup all weekend long and put their name on it - they are doing it! Love that! They also have water bottles - good.

As a small consolation, I was glad that my cousin in Omaha was able to rescue my #5 McDonald's cup from the trash for me (I confess, I should not have bought it in the first place - I was desperate).

Check out these websites to rate your hotel for its green/sustainable practices:

Meanwhile, November's Motivation Month - I am continuing the quest for the best green health and beauty products - next I will try Burt's Bees and Avalon...will keep you posted. Oh, I am adding NO COKE to this month too, really. December is going to have to do with clothing - I am going to attempt to wear only 6 items of clothing for the entire month - hmmmmmm...

More later - 6 hours of sleep is on my to do list! Have a Nothing New Day! Kristin

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I Appreciate Hot Water

DAY 211

If this was "Use No Hot Water" Month, I'd be stylin'! My water heater is DONE (it is 21 years old, so I guess that is about right) so now I have to get a new one...grr...I will be adding $359 to my Nothing New Fund! Not a very exciting expenditure but...

So it was "Pioneer Day" here today and my "shower" only required two big pots of hot, hot water, diluted with some cold - it was more than enough! Interesting - I am sure I use too much water in the shower - I will start turning it off during sudsing to save more water (TMI, sorry). I do already pay attention and turn the faucet off during teeth brushing...good for me but I can do more I am sure...hmmmm.

I also cleaned out my gutters today which has nothing to do with Nothing New - I just want to brag that I did not bleed or fall during the entire experience. In the Spring, I will explore new gutters - my gutter "system" is probably not as efficient as it could be. Now, I just have to get through the rest of fall - once winter hits I don't have to worry about leaves and junk in the gutters. As luck would have it, it rained during this fascinating, joy-filled homeowner event - not a big rain, thankfully. The one cool thing in this particular housework was revisiting a solid memory of my Dad being out in torrential downpours, on the ladder, scooping "stuff" out of the gutters...he was here with me today! He was a last minute guy on these kinds of things - I come from good stock :)

Back to laundry detergent...I did find out from Kathy at Wegman's (nice, smart and very helpful) that their "Free" brand is not tested on animals, is plant-based (not made from petroleum) and even though they cannot officially say the product is "all natural" it is a pretty good product. If anyone has information otherwise, let me know! I prefer the lower price point of the store brand AND I want to have a lower impact on the environment. It's all about balance.

More to come - next month is building on the HB products as I go natural with cosmetics -I will not forgo makeup entirely - that would be SKARIE - just want to find more recyclable packaging, made in USA etc.

Bye for now - have a Nothing New Day! Kristin

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sugar - Not Just for Breakfast Anymore

DAY 209


First, an update on natural cleaning products from September's Motivation Month - Wegman's Advance store brand Free of Dyes and Perfumes Laundry Soap - no phosphorus, has biodegradable ingredients AND cost about a third of what the 7th Generation brand does...good. I was contemplating alternatives to the $8 jug I finished up yesterday (lasted 2 months) as I was washing my reusable grocery bags. Every dollar saved helps, right? But....I just compared the two bottles directly and I realized I did not check the Wegman's brand for No Animal Testing and plant-based surfactants vs petroleum based. Maybe that's why the natural stuff costs so much - grrr. Almost back to Square One with this - will advise...

Most exciting news - I made a sugar scrub for the shower with mild olive oil, shite sugar and a few drops of peppermint oil (from Young Living - many natural food stores carry essential oils as well). Note to self (and to you) - less is more with the peppermint oil...unless you really like feeling cold for about 10 minutes after the shower - super refreshed and wide awake! Oh and do not put the peppermint oil anywhere near your eyeballs...not that I actually did that, well OK, not intentionally...I'm just saying, be careful :)

More to follow as I ponder making my own cleansers...oatmeal, olive oil, brown sugar....hmmmmm.

Have a Nothing New Day! Kristin

Friday, October 22, 2010

Up to Date...Yogurt Cups!

DAY 207

Flash forward from October 5 - too much time has gone by! Hope you are all well...

Quick update: I have been using some Body Shop face/skin care...seems great but....made in France! Not that there's anything wrong with France...just too far for my Natrulift Softening Cream Cleanser with Pomegranate to travel...will keep searching :)

My new toothbrush is made from yogurt cups, cost $2.99 and was made in the USA - yay! Made by a cool company called Preserve Products in Cortland, NY! It comes in a package that doubles as a mailer ready with address label (Mail Back Pack) to ship the toothbrush back to them to be recycled it! Check it out:

They even offer a "toothbrush subscription" to automatically get a new toothbrush every three months...clever!

The best thing? They accept #5 containers that most communities do not (#1s and #2s are most common)....this is from their website on their "Gimme 5" Program:

"Finally, a recycling solution for your yogurt cups, hummus tubs and other #5 plastic containers! If you’re serious about recycling, you know that most communities don’t accept these common containers for recycling. There’s not enough money in it for them to make it work. And those communities that do accept #5s are generally forced (by poor economics) into bundling them with other plastics to form a mixed plastic bale. This mixed plastic bale is of low value and is often shipped overseas to an unknown end of life."

Sign me up! Turns out everything is Motivation Month of "No Plastic" overlaps here for sure...interesting, not surprising and ever-challenging!

More to come on plastic and my search for the ultimate natural HB products...

Have a Nothing New Day! Kristin

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


DAY 190...flashback (October 5, 2010)

Just over half way through my year of (Mostly) Nothing New - woot!

Before I go any futher - correction to a link posted for Wendy Thomas's Blog - thanks for noting that Jenn!

Had some great conversations over the past few days at a conference with people who are managing their own worlds of de-cluttering, letting go, living in the "right-size" spaces and general life-greening...more on that later...

Back to natural/green/responsible HB (Health and Beauty) products..thought I would revisit the Body Shop (Marketplace Mall in Rochester :) and their latest. I use to work at this store and loved it...great products not tested on animals, attention to recyclable packaging, community trade/fair trade ingredients and global campaigns to raise awareness on important issues such as human rights, protecting the planet and self-esteem.

I'm quite sure most of their products are not made in the USA which is not ideal...I'll get the scoop and fill you in! I want to research certain ingredients too - I'm still concerned about the sudsing sulfates...not to the point of losing sleep...more of a "hmmmmmm" level of wondering what the impact may be on me, others, the environment, you know :)

Meanwhile check out the Body Shop website:

More later - will work on shorter more frequents posts - thank you Friends!

Have a nothing New Day! Kristin

Friday, October 1, 2010


DAY 186

New month! New challenge! I will be phasing out my current health and beauty aids to trade in for more natural, recyclable and greener goods...but first a few things to tidy up...

Back to food for a moment...I found a tasty non-soy, non-dairy energy bar with 5-6g of protein, not much but something anyway! Lara Bar - Cashew Cookie (good taste) and Cherry Pie (great taste)...yay! A little variety to my “have some almonds” approach to travel food with protein...Note to self (and you) – consider carefully, the “Two Moms in the Raw” bar from Starbucks...VERY raw – very natural, very rustic, very vegan, very organic, very gluten-free, VERY fiber-y...all good, just know that before purchasing...

More food: I made a peach pie today with a simple crust from scratch – gave it away so I sure hope it turned out OK! It took more time than taking a frozen crust out of the freezer but nice to know there were just four ingredients – flour, sugar, salt and butta :) Simple however does not mean easier!

Moving on...say hello to Wendy Thomas (Spencer’s Mom – he’s a student leader at Rivier College I met last year)...Wendy has trimmed her weekly grocery bill for a family of 8 (eight) to $140...yes, that’s right $140! Check out her blog and read about her methods, her family and her chickens! At a recent retreat, Spencer asked us “Who wants to see pictures of our family dressed as pirates with chickens on our shoulders?” Johnny Depp fans :) My answer was, “For sure!” and from there I learned more about Wendy and what they all do as a family to conserve, live simply and eat locally. Inspiring!

Finally, back to prior months...habits/learnings that have stuck...
1. Air drying as many items as possible vs running the dry for hours
2. Always bringing a travel mug, water bottle, and silverware (To Go Ware)
3. One light on at a time...home and hotel
4. A lot less TV (57 channels and nothing on a one of ‘em)
5. Donuts (and chocolate) are not good (bad, actually, very bad) for me

Oh and by the way, my June electric bill was ultra-low – I did not turn on any lights except the back porch light at night to keep the Boogey Man away and in my office the night my printer crashed. My June 2010 bill was $18.40 (May was $23.09, July was $33.81 and my June 2009 bill was $40.33 - nice) Our electric is really cheap in my town - our village has our own electric company overseen by a Municipal Commission and financed entirely by customer rates – excellent!

OK, so bring on the olive oil, oatmeal, sugar, and honey and land-fill friendly lids – I am going natural with my “beauty” regimen...this is going to be interesting! Hopefully in a good way....

Have a Nothing New Day! Kristin

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Soap Opera

DAY 183

Turns out hot water and an SOS pad takes paper labels and label goo off of plastic jars - good! A little more elbow grease required but I did not have to use nail polish remover or Goo Gone...not sure if regular steel wool would work - maybe with a little soap? Will let you know. Worked to remove permanent marker from a travel size lotion bottle too. It did make some scrape marks but no big deal...I am only going to be using the former cashew container for future homemade granola (in my upcoming, pending, ideal, hope-so free time).

Additional cleaning discovery this week - Thieves spray cleans up cat gak off the wood floors very nicely...note to self.

Started the natural health and beauty product search last night at Wegman's...the brand Avalon is looking good - no animal testing, fully recyclable packing including the cap and seemingly harmless ingredients for all concerned (people, animals, planet). I do remember reading somewhere that the sudsing/cleansing ingredient in shampoos and soaps, sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) can be troublesome - I did a tiny bit of research and I am not sure what to make of it. Dr. Andrew Weil, health and wellness expert summarizes:

"SLS has a long history of use in shampoos and other personal care products and overall I don't think you need to worry about it. If you'd rather not take any chances, you should have no trouble finding alternative products that do not contain it."

Click here for his complete response:

No doubt there is some great info at as well - thanks in advance Amy Jane Stewart!

October is going to be interesting! More shampoo news to follow (or "realpoo" as my Dad used to say - maybe my Mom too - funny household - get it, real not a "sham", get it?).

Haha - Have a Nothing New Day! Kristin

Sunday, September 26, 2010


DAY 181

About to experience the joy of doing laundry once again...part of the special travel process of unload, unpack, laundry, pack, load, repeat. Things will settle a bit after this week – excellent!

End of September is coming soon (yikes!) so I’ll be preparing for next month’s challenge that starts on Friday. I am going to switch to natural health and beauty products, cosmetics, shampoo and all that...I have always been on the no-animal testing route and made-in-USA when possible (almost never it seems) but have never really insisted on recycled or recyclable packaging. I have a feeling it is going to get more difficult the more specific the products get. Easy enough to get handmade (local) soap for the shower but is there non-petroleum mascara in bamboo tubes out there??? This and other important questions to be answered in the month of October...stay-tuned.

This challenge month of Natural Cleaning Products has been quite do-able and I am grateful...It has been an ongoing effort nonetheless to keep the discipline of buying nothing new. I confess...I have slipped and will be making a fat contribution to my Nothing New Account. Have you seen “Ugly Dolls”? Wacky, colorful stuffed “animals” – bats, robots and things. Poe and Ninja Batty Shogun are now in their new home in Fort Lauderdale because I did a little early Christmas shopping for my nephews...hard to resist the fun of giving presents to my boylies. I probably could have made them myself – grrr. I was not prepared to say no and I got caught up in letting them pick out the ones they wanted and the bonding in the whole experience of buying something on line together. Even better when I got to talk with them on the phone the day the packages arrived...Jon took Poe to his swim meet and Xander sleeps with Ninja. Very hard to resist.

I think the rest of holiday giving season will be good – I have plans for making some goodies and orchestrating some shared experiences...back on track now. By the way, my Nothing New Account - amounts I contribute if I do buy anything new - is now $230 ($1380 if I include new tires and new shingles for the back porch roof repair). From now on, I will be doubling the cost of new items as more of an incentive. The main thing is to NOT buy a new item in the first place, of course.

I did make some good choices of bringing my own food with me on this past road trip...picked up some organic homemade jelly at a farm stand on the way home. The Massachusetts Department of Transportation has Farmers Markets on Sundays at certain Mass Pike rest stops – nice! I think NYDOT does the same thing on the Thruway.

That’s all for now – have a Nothing New Day!

Thursday, September 23, 2010


DAY 178

It is officially Fall but...feels like a late summer night what with the warm/cool wind coming through the windows and all...let's say it's still summer please?!

Finished up some laundry tonight as I launch another road trip...dried some in the dryer and hung some around my house - a good habit from my "No Lights" Month (which started out as no electricity month - not do-able for me!). I did use my dryer that month but decided that I always had to hang half on the line to dry. I am still doing that with every load...towels and sheets, rugs and jeans still get hung up and hung out. Inherited a great over the door rack-thing (thanks JoeyO!) that makes it easy to hang shirts and tops too. Good. Along with flossing regularly after a "scared straight" talk from my dentist, you can call me Good Habit Girl.

I will examine my electric bill from my summer months, compare them to last year too and report some numbers next time...I do think we (I) get a little complacent with conserving electricity in my town - we have community owned power so our electricity bills are very low. More on that later.

Fall always brings TV back to the land of the living...I only watch a few shows, less now that As the World Turns is over - I am depressed - I have watched that show since I was child (on black and white TV) - feels like my whole life. My Mom and my Grandma and I would compare notes, "Did you watch The Story today?" Anyway, I, I watched an episode of a new show called "Outsourced" tonight...anyone see it? I thought it would be entertaining but I mostly just felt sad. It is a about a US novelty company that sold itself (its soul?) for cheaper labor in India...the items in the company catalog were all useless plastic, NOT MADE IN USA, c.r.a.p. such as...fake vomit, cheese-head hats (and this from a Green Bay Packer fan even!) and other embarrassing "American Culture" items. The gist was that the Indian staff not only had to learn about the items in the catalog to assist customers with their order, they needed to know the back story of the various trinkets, gadgets and contraptions. The main character Manager explained that the stuff really had no purpose but that was OK because in America you can do whatever you want even it if has no purpose. Nice. If I were a bettin' gal, I'd bet the show lasts a season if that.

On a similar note, I am done buying trinkets for my Teamworks programs unless they have a purpose. One year (a long time ago before I was older and wiser, like now, yet aging gracefully), I spent thousands of dollars on giveaways...a lot of plastic NOT MADE IN USA. I am now in search of pens that are reusable, or made of recycled or recyclable plastic, paper or something that will not go in the landfill. Found a company that makes these great bamboo jump drives...sustainable bamboo - well, he said they were supposed to be bamboo...but NMH (Not Made Here) - darn it! I will find doubt it will cost more...will keep you posted.

Enough ranting for one blogging session...good night - have a Nothing New Day! Kristin

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


DAY 176

Hello! Happy Tuesday...

I used some Thieves Spray to clean porch chairs today - it was a great! I love that my day can be made by a sparkly seating fixture! Is that bad?

The most challenging thing about this month of "Natural Cleaning Products" is that, except for dish soap at the sinks, there is not an intense every-day-all-day feeling of habits like I had with the "Local Food" month. Therefore, it seems harder to remember to NOT use the "other" products like Goo Gone for removing label goo and the ever-so-handy bleach stick in the plastic, non-recyclable container for stains - argh. They are so quick, easy and effective that it is hard to let them go...I need to find some good substitutes.

I did get some liquid laundry soap to complement the Borax which did not seem to really clean my clothes. Thanks to a great cheat sheet from Amy Jane Stewart (, I settled on Seventh Generation - $8,49 for 50oz (33 loads, pricey, I know) but concentrated so hopefully it will be economical. You know, once you make the initial transition in buying the new products it does seem to get easier...I am still using up some old products which you can do too, so as not to waste what you already have. You could do it gradually - replacing old with new as you run out instead of getting everything at once like I did.

Although my learning curve is still on the rise, I am convinced that what I am doing is better for everyone, everything, everywhere. As for me and my house, I am doing the best I can which is all I really can do - if I can influence a few others with what I am doing and learning... well, then good!

If you are looking for some reasons to convert to natural cleaning products, or trying convince that special roommate, partner or spouse - read below:

This is from the Environmental Protection Agency
(you can copy and paste this site address for more info)!OpenDocument

9/3/2010 WASHINGTON--A report issued today by key environmental and scientific federal agencies assesses the increasing prevalence of low-oxygen “dead zones” in U.S. coastal waters and outlines a series of research and policy steps that could help reverse the decades-long trend.

The inter-agency report notes that incidents of hypoxia—a condition in which oxygen levels drop so low that fish and other animals are stressed or killed--–have increased nearly 30-fold since 1960. Incidents of hypoxia were documented in nearly 50 percent of the 647 waterways assessed for the new report, including the Gulf of Mexico, home to one of the largest such zones in the world. [this research was done before the BP incident]

Unnatural levels of hypoxia, which occur mostly in the summer, are primarily the result of human activities that deliver nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorous into waterways. Fertilizer runoff from agricultural, urban and suburban landscapes, sewage discharges, and air pollution are major contributors. The supply of added nutrients entering bodies of water supports blooms of algae, which in turn are decomposed by oxygen-depleting bacteria. The resulting hypoxia can suffocate animals that cannot move away, such as shellfish, and—depending on how quickly the hypoxia develops—either kill or force into less suitable habitat free-swimming animals such as fish, shrimp, and crabs.

Those are enough reasons for me - I like to swim in oceans, sail on lakes, and eat fish...I want my nephews to inherit the clean, happy version of these! I can decide to contribute to the problem or the solution...I choose solution...I am in, sign me up!

Have a Nothing New Day! Kristin

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Washing Machine - aka Kristin

DAY 166

A day for remembering so much...take a silent minute for yourself...what you have, who you love, who you miss and why you do what you do...

I remember my Dad every day and especially this time of year. Fall was his favorite season - we did a lot of fall foliage day trips as a family to Kettle Moraine, Wade House, Dundee Mountain and loads of other great WI state parks (for you Cheeseheads out there). He always had a hundred questions and was uber-interested in knowing the back story - of the park staff, of the people eating their picnic lunch next to us, of the ghosts of "State Park Past". John Kenneth Skarie was a learner, a researcher, a reader, a conversationalist, a humorist, a teacher.

I am sure I appreciated those trips at the time - even more so as I continue to realize that who we are *now* as a family is because of my parents' dedication to keeping our core strong. (This will relate to greener living in a moment I promise!) The lessons, the love, the support, the faith and the fun all wrapped around each other and I see it in how my Mom still leads us and how my brother and sister-in-law are raising their children.

My Dad reinforced many messages in our home about food safety, cleaning and general organization. He kept receipts, owners manuals, newspaper articles...and labeled everything. Before expiration dates on food were a standard, he would write the purchase date on salad dressings, milk, meat etc. to make sure our frig stayed safe. He also believed that along with the soap there needed to be some friction to actually get the item in question clean. It wasn't enough to touch the soap you had to make some movement with it! In fact, he would test us by hiding a nickel under the bar of soap in the bathroom to find out if we actually picked it up or just camouflaged our sudsing activity with a splash of water from the faucet.

Last week, I spent nearly 60 minutes one day cleaning the dish drainer pad in the kitchen sink with baking soda and Thieves spray. During the experience, I was reminded of the importance of friction in the cleaning process. I had dreamily envisioned being able to leave the baking soda sitting there long enough by itself to remove the black "matter" that had accumulated in the 168 little ridges on the back of the pad (what is that stuff and why is it black? ugh. don't judge me). Not the case, so over the course of the day I would revisit the pad and scrub for a bit with a toothbrush - a dedicated cleaning toothbrush to clarify in case you were worried - then go away to do something else. Finally clean at the end of the day, I was able to move on from the dish drainer pad to other (more important) tasks.

A day later while dragging my suitcase through the Chicago airport I wondered why my right elbow was so stiff and sore. Oh. Right. The dish drainer pad...soap + time + friction = clean.

I am not sure any cleaning product would have worked on its own as I had hoped like "set it and forget it" oven cleaner, and if it did it would most likely have some undesirable toxic elements in its DNA. The trade-off of convenience (no sweat) for non-toxic (workout) is worth it. Look for some great EPA research on the effects of toxic cleaning products with phosphates in my next blog...

Lesson? Good and greener cleaning takes time (and effort) which will probably serve to be another source of lovely procrastination for me...I am the Goddess of Procrastination - ask my friends who have witnessed me polishing silver on tax day.

As my laundry rotates with non-toxic Borax and I prepare to clean my kitchen floor with Dr. Bronner's natural soap and psyche myself up to mow my lawn with my electric mower, I could feel smug in my efforts to green my home. BUT, I know there is still so much else I should do...AND I know that every small significant step is a good one.

What one product can you replace today with a green one? Oh and remember to remember....

Have a Nothing New Day - Kristin

Monday, September 6, 2010

Clean Green Living

DAY 161

Had a little photo shoot yesterday with my new cleaning products...check them out on Facebook!

The "before" shot includes 16 products, estimated cost $53:
Dish soap, Dishwasher soap, Comet, Laundry soap, Oxyclean stain pre-treat, Room spray, SOS pads, Bleach, Windex, Goo Gone, Murphy’s Oil, Easy Off, Greenworks cleaner, Greenworks Toilet, Dishwasher Jet Dry, Bleach stick

The "after" shot has 10 products estimated cost $84:
Dr. Bronner’s Soap, Palmolive dishwasher soap, Baking soda, Borax, Thieves Household Cleaner, Vinegar, Distilled water, Essential oil, Spray bottles, Steel wool

I am really interested to see how the cost/benefit piece plays out here - natural products are more expensive at first glance....AND many of them are concentrated so will last longer...and, oh by the way, are better for the environment. Phosphates and other chemicals present in many cleansers enter our waste water system then can become runoff that affects our streams, soil and drinking a nutshell.

I had a quick conversation with the young man at the grocery check out - he wanted to know why a bottle of soap (Dr. Bronner's) cost $11.99. When I started to explain about chemicals and waste water and runoff , his eyes glazed over - I think he was expecting the "short answer"! His response was that we don't really have to worry about the cleaning chemicals unless they somehow get out of the "system". He was pretty sure that the system (you know, pipes and things) would contain everything...hmmmm. I had no time to really reply (he was glad I'm sure!) since he was scanning my last item - he took my payment and sent me on my way. I am still learning about this aspect of "green living" so I was a little relieved as well...My guess is the main objection to natural products is cost, followed by effectiveness, then necessity. I want to be able to counter all of these! Let the learning begin :)

What little knowledge I do have right now about natural products (besides being a former Girl Scout, liking the smell and having a gut feeling that maybe, just maybe, there is a link between the chemicals we use and the health of our water, air and soil...hmmmmmm) is thanks to my new friend Amy Jane Stewart from Ithaca, NY - her company is Organica Jane

I went to one of Amy's "Home Green Home" classes in July that was truly eye opening - so many everyday cleaning products actually have pesticides in them! Nice. She has researched hundreds of products and is a smart, cool and fun professional in the essential oils education, natural health and green living world. Sign up for her newsletter and blog for great info on products, recalls, remedies and check out her Organica Jane line of health products! Oh, and take a looky loo at her TV debut on the Dr. Oz Show!!!

So, I will confess that yesterday....I cheated (already!) and used up a Clorox Bleach Stick to remove a Pumpkin Spice latte stain from my white shirt...I did not try very hard to use the alternatives - that will have to change! So as of NOW, all my old products are put away! Maybe you could use up what you have then replace them with more environmentally friendly products?

Start small - just start!!!

Have a Nothing New Day - Kristin

Friday, September 3, 2010

Local Living

DAY 158

Still new into this Challenge Month of using only "natural" cleaning products! Going to the store today to get stocked up - will keep you posted...

I am still wrapping up the Local Foods Month - need to finish the great read "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" by Barbara Kingsolver and keep searching for local chicken...Made a list today of what I need from the Public Market tomorrow - this and the other good habits in place-hooray! Have not been to the store after a week away, so I finished up some of my non-local foods from before...pasta and tortilla chips from somewhere, canned pineapple, a lime (clearly not from NY) and agave nectar for my tea (really great taste, lower glycemic index than honey or sugar AND a product of Mexico)...I am sure I will find homemade local pasta and already have a honey source-nice! Picked some lettuce, lima beans and basil from my garden - will make another batch of pesto tonight and rhubarb sauce tomorrow. My life has been changed for good - Wicked good :)

I hope you are inspired to eat locally! I like bananas as much as the next person but now maybe as a treat or if I go to Columbia!? Eating food from your area is a "green" move - most of our food travels 1400 miles to get here...really? Trucked, refrigerated, stored then sold...Why not get yourself some local peaches - picked then sold - from 14 miles away instead (see below)?

Do what you can....try it for one month or even one week - even one local meal a week is more than most people do...Remember, it is not at all about deprivation, it is about taking advantage of what you have in your area! Allow yourself some goodies you love and let some others go OR only enjoy them seasonally or geographically if you travel :)

Check out these cool learnings and commitments from Shelby (Thank you!!)

* If you can (jar) a LOT of tomatoes and then tell your friends, they will trade you for things like their own home made pesto, peach jam, etc. NICE - WILL TRADE YOU SOME PESTO!

* If you make arrangements to go TO THE FARM to pick up cases of tomatoes, the farmer will cut you a big deal. $10/case for the best organic tomatoes in all of central PA. Normally at market they are about $10 for 8 tomatoes. NEED TO FIND THIS IN NY - I KNOW IT'S HERE!

* Delicata squash is really good. I have never had it before tonight. Saute in butter and rosemary. Fabulous! ON THE LIST

* The market I went to Saturday (Forks Market) had a sign reporting that the food at the market traveled an average of 14 miles to get there. That is a lot different than the national average of 1400 miles to the grocery store. LOVE IT - IT'S AMAZING REALLY - WE GET SO SPOILED TO HAVE GRAPES YEAR ROUND...

* Using a bread maker is just NOT THAT HARD. I've had one for YEARS and used it about twice. I've used it about six times this month. So easy. I WANT THAT - ANYONE SELLING A USED ONE????

* Dehydrating things is really easy and you can often get used dehydrators for $3 at thrift stores or garage sales. HMMMMM - INTERESTING...

Here are the things I've given myself permission to buy even though they are not local:

* Coffee, tea
* Sugar
* Spices (although next summer I'm going to work on growing herbs and drying them myself)
* Olive oil
* Seafood - I still buy this from the fish store as opposed to the grocery store. They screen for responsible fishing which is helpful.
* Tofu
* Rice/Quinoa/Pasta
* Avocados
* Bananas (trying really hard to buy organic)
* The occasional pineapple
* Nuts (pine nuts, walnuts, and almonds)
* White Flour (though I've found a local miller of locally grown wheat flour, I have not yet found local white flour).
* Beer (though I stick to PA breweries as much as I can)
* Wine (though I am now trying to stay within the US)
* Citrus (in the winter only, when it's from FL or CA)
* Mushrooms (though my roommate is going foraging for some tomorrow, so who knows, maybe I won't need to do that either).

Happily, since Turkey Hill is from my home town, just 1 hour and 40 minutes away, I can consider my ice cream LOCAL! LUCKY YOU!!!

So....What can YOU do?

More tomorrow - will report on "better living through baking soda"! - Have a Nothing New Day!


Thursday, August 26, 2010

All Things August

DAY 150

Hello! I have missed you! I am in the madness of August - the high season for college campus life as another academic year unfolds. I am not alone - hundreds of my colleagues are prepping for another year and I am lucky enough to play a role in that. Good luck to you all and to everyone putting a kid on a bus, sending a teenager to high school, or waving good bye to your college student...a bittersweet time!

For me, August means back-to-back travel to colleges around the country, very few days at home and living out of my suitcase for extended periods. Fun, in a weird "I am independent and can live out of my car when I have to" kind of way, tiring nonetheless. Grateful for all the work, for friends who let me stay at their houses and their Mom's houses along the way (you know who you are) and for being able to afford staying in decent hotels (Hotel Bethlehem!) - oh and a car that works and gas in the car and my family and my friends and my Blackberry and Facebook....

And THIS August, happy to be evolving into a Localvore! (as I snack on locally made granola and NY grown peaches - yum.)

It continues to be an interesting food month...I am secretly glad it is almost over! The usual stress of travel (getting myself out the door and into the car or onto the plane is a repeating miracle) along with packing all my own local food has taken my left eye twitch to a new level.

I will need a break from beets, potates and corn for a while and am looking forward to adding almonds, walnuts and black beans, rice, etc. back into the mix. It is definitely easier to hunt and gather at the store than picking, preparing, cooking and freezing at home. A lot of work to eat local - and worth it! I feel like my whole outlook on food has changed...a few learnings and new habits here:

1. I do not eat fast food anymore ("If it comes through your car window, it is not food" Michael Pollan in Food Rules). 'Nough said.

2. I read labels more than ever for source of many foods only list the distribution location - I mean, I don't need to know the Farmer's name (but how cool would that be?) - it would just be nice to know if it's been shipped 15 miles or 1500 miles. My favorite question to ask in the grocery store is "Where is this from?" Always an opening for a food comedian to respond with something smart like "the back room cooler" or "here" (pointing to the display case)...I appreciate the humor and it always opens a great conversation about food - so all good.

3. Healthy, fresh food can cost more, seems to rot more quickly and always tastes better (except for carrot top tea). Given that I am not buying new shoes, my frig is full of $4.99 per pound (or more!)chicken, equally pricey goat cheese and highly prized and expensive organic eggs. Flip side - a lot of fresh food costs less than processed food - like carrots. BTW "Baby Carrots" are big carrots shaped into "baby" sizes by machines. Oh.

4. Movie theatre popcorn is not local. Darn. Oh and it's really NOT butter. Sorry. Also Twizzlers are not local (or real) or Starburst. SweetTarts. Oh and SunChips - even though the bag is compostable - are not local. (Confession)

5. Butter is a dairy product but has no lactose - yay! I heart butter.

6. Bunnies can squeeze through tiny openings in garden fences. They like lettuce.

7. There are a lot of people working hard to eat locally! A nice network of smart people to meet who appreciate our farms. FOOD COMES FROM FARMS.

So much more to month is not enough! I may repeat this challenge in the winter - hope I love to eat root vegetables - a lot. Should really freeze some more peaches...and make a lot more pesto!

Anyway, back on track with the blog - more to come tomorrow...promise. I know your day cannot start without my blog, so rest easy...

Have a Nothing New Day! Kristin

Monday, August 9, 2010

Protein Rules

DAY 133

I'm back! A busy food week along with a significant road trip to the Middle of Nowhere (lovely but no internet access) put me behind by 6 days! Perhaps you thought I was out purchasing goats and chickens?

Lots to report...first, too many vegetables are not necessarily a good thing...I struggled this week in my personal veggie is really not working for me! Less than a week into it and I am having nightmares about eating beets - not OK.

I really need to find an eating balance with a little less fiber and a little more protein. My wise and cool friend Catherine has lived through a vegetarian to omnivore (plant and animal eater) journey and has experienced the NEED for protein. She and her family eat very healthy, local food and she has researched supplements, vitamins, nutrition and how it all relates - thanks Cat!

I know that my protein need is real - and very related to my thyroid problem...don't worry - I am not about to share ALL my health issues with what my Dad used to call an "organ recital" - get it? haha.

So, I went to Lori's Natural Foods, Palmer's Meat Market, and the Public Market all in my town - but no chicken from NY! Normally, if I were not doing the "Made in NY" thing - I could eat almonds, black beans and chick peas for protein, but this month I need to add the chicken...Being a Veg at heart, it grosses me out to prepare it but I will block it out for this month...There is a farm store in Victor, NY (Health and Harmony) that raises organic, free-range, happy chickens - but I would have to buy the whole chicken and I really cannot bring myself to do it. wonderful people and their store looks great - I will check it out with a visit ASAP...

Somehow it is less animal looking when it comes as a chicken breast vs not still looking like a CHICKEN. Deep. I compromised and bought some happy chicken at the Public Market from Fare Game (thanks Jerry and Gary!) Their chicken is from Canada, eh.

The other challenge is to really stick to the NY food especially when I am craving a Coke (not real food bottled in Atlanta)...more on that tomorrow.

I will leave you with these tips from my super smart friend Shelby - one of my "Locavore" Idols!

* Plan for at least 5 days a week of local foods. Give yourself credit for doing this 5 times more than most Americans and let yourself off the hook for your two busiest days.

* Remember that small and regional businesses need your help. Buying locally produced products (like bread) which use flour from other states is STILL way better than buying bread made in other states and shipped to you.

* This will get easier as your freezer gets stocked and you can (if you plan to) some tomatoes, peaches, pears, etc.

* Remember you can put zucchini in almost everything.

Have a Nothing New Day! Kristin

Monday, August 2, 2010

Learning Curve

DAY 126

I underestimated how big of a change this month of NY foods is going to be! I thought I was all set to go but turns out I have be very deliberate about prep and follow through. Having said this after making pesto at 2 in the morning because I picked it and did not want to waste it. "Planning Ahead" is going to Habit Number One in a series - I can tell you that right now.

Found out today that although Wegman's (Do I mention them enough? They should be my blog sponsor!) makes most of their own bread, the flour comes from Idaho - what? NY produces flour here somewhere but not in a large enough quantities to be cost effective - therefore Idaho wins the Flour Derby...bummer! Not that there's anything wrong with Idaho! Hmmmm. I will also need to decide how far I want to go with food that has all NY INGREDIENTS....Will check out out Lori's Natural Foods ASAP and get some ideas...

So anyway, I packed my food for several days - I really have no idea how much that really is - hope it lasts me! I am in dire need of many more reusable containers...will have to look around at yard sales for "new" ones. I am a little creeped out by buying used food containers.

More later as I get reactions from bringing containers of a whole lotta vegetables...could be weird (fun!) on a lot of levels - stay tuned!

Have a Nothing New Day - Kristin

Sunday, August 1, 2010

I Appreciate Peas

DAY 125

After my huge score at the Public Market yesterday, I had to do some prep to make it all more edible :) and spent almost three hours cutting, chopping, boiling and blanching my food for the week. My pending road trip will be interesting and I am wondering how it will go when I bring ALL my own food...

As I am working to get my food life in order for the challenge this month, the process of setting my boundaries has also begun. I have decided to "allow" certain luxuries as did my now Local Food Idol, author Barbara Kingsolver. Most known for her novels ("The Poisonwood Bible" and "Prodigal Summer" to name a few), her book "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" chronicles a year of "deliberately eating food produced from the same place where we worked, went to school, loved our neighbors, drank the water and breathed the air." Barbara (we are on a first name basis now, lol) and her family lived off their own home grown food or food produced only in the vicininty fo their farm in VA. Very inspirational...I highly recommend this read! More info on her website...

They did allow coffee, olive oil and a few other luxuries, so I will follow suit:

1. Tea - need some caffeine!

2. Olive Oil - I may switch back to butter bc even though butter is a dairy product and I am lactose intolerant, I learned that butter does not have lactose - yay! And I am sure I can get some NY butta.

3. Spices - Especially, pepper, salt, cinnamon...

4. Balsamic vinegar - but maybe I can find cider vinegar made in NY

5. Maybe almonds, walnuts and pecans (oh my) - I'll see how it goes since I am a "fishitarian" working toward vegetarian, I want to be sure I get enough protein - FYI, potatoes have 3g of protein - that's great news :)

6. Maybe rice - see above, maybe I can get some wild rice grown in NY...if I lived in MN, I'd be all set!

I was most excited by the number of peas I found in my garden...check out my Facebook Page for a stunning photo :) In spite of planting my peas way too late, there have been a few pods - with any where from 1-4 peas inside. I had no idea on the timing thing never mind that peas grow on a vine and need a trellis of some sort to keep them organized and off the ground - who knew? The pods yielded only 123 peas (approx 1/4 cup) and it took me almost 10 minutes to shell...I will now look at a bag of frozen peas in a whole new light! The saying, "two peas in a pod" has new relevance for me as well...

The other thing I decided to do to segue into this challenge is to finish up some of the non-NY foods I had in my frig and then figure out an alternative...almond milk, avocado, grape juice...maybe I can find some kind of goats milk here - we have some natural food stores and a co-op or two...

Have a Nothing New Day! Kristin

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Coffee Lids and Carrot Tops

DAY 124

Last day of "No Plastic" Month aka "Reduced Plastic Use" Month)...It was so much harder than I thought it would be! My last effort today was to reuse my Starbuck's cup and lid from yesterday - which I did until the paper cup was saturated and leaking...

I definitely got some lasting lessons and habits from this month...

  • Bringing own my water bottle, "To-Go Ware" and coffee mug
  • Continuing to reuse all my Ziploc bags multiple times
  • Will purchase more permanent containers to reduce use of zippies
  • Not taking plastic bags for produce at Wegman's - don't need 'em
  • Using reusable grocery bags at other stores - wish I'd thought of that earlier! Small duh on that obvious now!
  • Working harder to find products with less plastic packaging
  • Finding re-use for the plastic containers I do buy for lack of choice
  • Need to use more paper bags for trash (most of my wet food garbage goes out to the compost bin so should be OK)

Glad to be moving on to "Local Food Month"! I have been practicing and I think I will be able to do it...Went to the Rochester Public Market for the first time since I've lived here - check it out and be sure to check out all your local farm markets!

It was excellent! I found everything I need to start my month of eating local NY foods - almost overwhelming to see herbs, beets, onions, carrots, rhubarb, pears, corn, zucchini, cherries, beans, honey, homemade granola went on and on...oh and handmade soap! Not an NY food but prep for my September Motivation Month of "Natural Cleaning Products"...get excited about that!

Back to food...brought everything home and realized (even said out loud to myself) that all the good food in my frig does not leave room for any junk - Imagine that! Froze half the blueberries and all the tart cherries (will need to make jelly out of that - too tart for me on their own). I was told that the beet greens are edible and found some recipes so I will be trying that tomorrow along with making some other snacks and dishes to take with me on my driving trip next week.

Attempted to make tea with the carrot tops based on someone's entry on a food to eat apparently but do NOT try this at home! Unless you like nasty brown-green dirt water. I will not judge. Interesting website for you Carrot Fans -I had some free time today :)

For real - I learned a lot from the Cornell Cooperative Extension...

And see this one for a Cooperative Extension near you for mad amounts of info on food, nutrition, agriculture...fascinating :)

More tomorrow - remember FOOD COMES FROM FARMS (not the grocery store!)

Have a Nothing New Day! Kristin

Friday, July 30, 2010


DAY 123

Catching up first...Yesterday (Day 122)...

My new friend and colleague, Laura is very supportive of Nothing New! Great conversation on how little efforts can have a collective positive effect... thank you for the inspiration! I am encouraged by how positive and supportive people are and how they quickly talk about Nothing New actions they might start in their own lives.

Back to today (DAY 123)...

Finally made it out of Orlando...talked for over two hours with a dedicated teacher, Mary who had some great stories and excellent ideas for more monthly challenges to add to my Nothing New experience...AND shared her ideas for community gardens in her neighborhood - love it. She had been using new plastic grocery bags in her classroom until Dan at Wegman's (our amazing grocery store chain here) suggested she use the bags from the recycle bin at the that too...reuse THEN recycle. Dig it.

Mary and her family do not watch a lot of tv...impressive. She did confess her love of having a lot of lights on in her house at night (cozy factor) after I told her about my "No Lights" month...I understand! I will tell you more about that month in future posts once my left eye stops twitching from trying to do computer work in the dark...

She also shared clever ideas from her classroom and changes she is making to teach her students to be responsible for their environment. She did think her husband would be in favor of *her* not buying anything new :)

I had a Starbuck's tea with a plastic lid (I think I pretended to need it to board the plane) today and will be reusing that several times to justify the purchase and the "need" for a cover...Will also add $2.49 to the Nothing New Fund as retribution. One more day of "No (less) Plastic" - I will report on how it sticks with me!

Going to the Farmer's Market tomorrow to get ready for my "Local Food" challenge for August!

Have a Nothing New Day! Kristin

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Nothing New Fund

DAY 121

Is there use for a used Milkyway Midnight candy bar wrapper (plastic/paper)? Bought it and ate it...bad for me, bad for the landfills. In a moment of weakness, I purchased the evil chocolate and will have to contribute $1.01 to my Nothing New Fund.

Anytime I buy something new or that is outside my boundaries for that particular Motivation Month, I put that dollar amount into a separate fund to be donated at the end of the year. In addition, if there is a special coveted item that I really want or almost buy, that amount goes in as well.

For example, I collect the blue and white Starbuck's mugs with the cities on them (being discontinued). I was in San Francisco in April and I had the SF mug ON THE COUNTER in the BART station ready to be added to my collection (that I put back) that counts as a $10.95 contribution...As a reward, I ended up with a much cooler souvenir in being open to meet an amazing woman name Esther on the bus...more about her later and my shift in thinking on souvenirs in general....

Anyway, I also had to add the $350 worth of roofing supplies to get my leaky porch roof fixed and a few other smaller items that are starting to ramp up the total in the special account. Reminder: lucky me that these are the kinds of choices I *get* to make....lucky (blessed) that I rarely have to worry about my basic needs of food, clothing and shelter...

I have not decided where I will donate the money yet...

So...what one "Nothing New" aspect can you add to your life? Maybe not for a year, but one month? one day? What could you give up or change that would be challenging (some pain) AND do-able (not so far out that you can't sustain it long enough to learn something) and that has some level of financial implication?

In the end, I have a feeling my lessons learned are going to be about "needs" and wants"...

Have a Nothing New Day! Kristin

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Smug No More

DAY 120

Hello! Was able to avoid plastic on the plane today - the iced tea came in an aluminum can - skipped the cup! Did not need to whip out my bamboo "To Go Ware" though...maybe next time. To be sure about where my iced tea can would end up, I asked the flight attendant if her airline (J--B--e) recycles and she responded, "Well, we take all the trash and give to another company and they are supposed to sort it." Hmmmm.

But just when I was feeling oh so smug about her iffy answer.....I reached my final destination, where I broke down and had a....."dun, dun" (scary music) BOTTLED WATER. The tap water was supposedly in question, for taste not safety, nonetheless, I took the easy route and grabbed a bottle....from the frig....cold. It tasted pretty good but now I am compelled to reuse the bottle as much as possible on this trip, find a reuse for it once I am back home and THEN recycle it. Darn! It was so easy to slip! I am sure the tap water would have been fine.

So we ended up talking about plastic, trash on the beach, etc. and my colleague Deb told her story about having picked up 6 bottles on her last beach walk (in FL). Carried them back home in a plastic bag she found in the water as well! Well done. This is a usual practice for her and I am inspired. What if everyone did that? Hmmmm. What if everyone did NOT leave their trash on the beach? Double hmmmmm. Thanks Deb!

And as what usually happens when I talk about what I am doing this month with plastic, people want to share what small and meaningful steps they are taking to preserve, reserve and conserve...Everyone here is turning the water off during teeth brushing and wanted me to note that here. Good job us.

A cool resource, related to plastic came up at dinner - a "green" products website...I am in search of non-plastic, Made-in-USA pens for my company and was directed here: Interesting! Thanks Greg!

More fascinating plastic stories to come... for four more days then it is on to "Local Foods" Month - woot!

Have a Nothing New Day! - Kristin "I will drink tap water from now on" Skarie:)

Monday, July 26, 2010

Plastic Everywhere

DAY 119

Hello/Good Morning!

I thought it would be challenging yet doable...not so much! This is "No Plastic" Month - which has really been "Less Plastic" Month. I envisioned a life of tin foil, wax paper and reusable shopping bags but plastic is in everything and everywhere.

To feel some sense of accomplishment, I focused on at least not buying plastic - especially bottled water, or any drinks for that matter unless they came in glass. That was good - did it...the habit also involved bringing my own water bottle, coffee mug and *bamboo silverware* that my new friend Gina from the University of Utah GAVE me while telling her about Nothing New - how nice was that?

My revived "BYOB(ottle) habit is thanks to her! This is a true environmental woman and the fact that she also has her own silverware handy made me just about fall out of my chair. The silverware is made by "To Go Ware" and the fork, knife spoon and chopsticks ($11.95) all come in a cool bright turquoise holder with a mini carabiner clip, made out of - you guessed it - recycled plastic bottles (more plastic - oh well!) Featured on Oprah no less for a "waste-free" lunch!

On a recent flight to somewhere, I told the flight attendant that I did not need silverware to eat my gourmet orzo salad for $8 in a non-recyclable plastic box. She tried to had me the plastic ware a second time and I said (proudly), "No really, I don't need it, I have these!" She was even more excited than I was, wrote down To Go Ware's website and congratulated me for having my own silverware. My new BFF also said, "Imagine if everyone did that..." but did not finish the sentence.

Yup - plastic everywhere...the cap on the OJ box, the little tab on the concentrated lemonade can, the handle on the natural kitty litter, the wrapper around the lid of the plastic container for the hummus. My awareness of plastic is at an all time high...

Oh, I still had to throw away the gourmet orzo salad dinner box but I have a Plan B and C for just such occasions that I will tell you about tomorrow...

Have Nothing New Day! Skarie

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Story of Stuff

DAY 118

Hello! Today was a "resting work" day - much needed. Ate more NY food for meals - maybe August will not be so hard! I will be traveling by car only during "Local Food Month" which should make it easier...I will have a cooler, be able to go to grocery stores on the way, etc. BTW, breakfast was a DUCK EGG omelet with goat cheese - yum. Duck eggs are larger and mostly yolk ($.75 each), tasted good but not any better or that different from the great organic eggs I have been enjoying. Saving egg crates for Fimka to reuse.

One of things I want to do here here is give you some great resources along with sharing my own learnings. People are telling me about so many great books and websites along with their own stories and revelations - educational and inspirational...

So, I shared my Nothing New idea with Pat (great, trusted friend and voice of reason) back on on Day 6 while at a conference in Boston. She totally gets it and we had a great conversation about needs vs wants, material things, consumerism gone bad and "stuff"...She mentioned a great video they use to train her staff at the AMC (Appalachian Mountain Club) - it tracks the production of stuff and how "planned obsolescence" (in everything from appliances to fashion) is working hard and working well to get us to buy, buy, buy....Very interesting - check it out!

...and the video started out Youtube and turned into a book!

The Story of Stuff: How Our Obsession with Stuff Is Trashing the Planet, Our Communities, and Our Health-and a Vision for Change by Annie Leonard

I can buy used books so this on is on my list...hope it's on yours too!

Coming soon - My Story of Plastic!

Until next time - Have a Nothing New Day! Kristin

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Motivation Months

DAY 117

Hi! More background info on the framework for my year of MNN (Mostly Nothing New)...

I decided to do specialty months to keep things interesting (Motivation Months) so I started in June once I had some time to get the new habits of nothing new down pat. June was "No Lights"(about a "7" on a 10 point scale in terms of difficulty) and July has been"No Plastic"...(a "23" - almost impossible!). August is going to be "Local Food" and September will be "Natural Cleaning Products".

As practice for August, I made a NY salad for lunch today with everything from local farms or at least from NY State! Lettuce and 8 peas from my garden (planted the peas too late), blueberries, tomatoes, and apricots plus organic beets, and eggs from Fimka and Larry at the Farmer's Market. NY potatoes are boiling as I write to make garlic mashed potatoes (with my chives and Fimka's organic garlic :)

So much more to tell you about this food thing, a movement for me actually - much inspiration coming from reading, talking and listening. I will have some food rules in place for August as well - film at 11~

Meanwhile, I will fill you in on how things got rolling, March - May...have a Nothing New Day! K

Friday, July 23, 2010

Inspiration for Nothing New

Welcome to my blog! I am on Day 116 of a voluntary experiment to buy "nothing new" for one year...I will explain the parameters of this interesting journey here but first a little background.

I met a fantastically smart, cool and fun woman at a conference on March 19, 2010 in Boston who had done this with her family and I was intrigued! After hearing her stories of de-cluttering, scaling back, streamlining and the ultimate freedom from material things, I decided to start immediately. It was an easy decision because at that time I was getting really frustrated with how many things we (I) buy are not made in the USA (clothing, shoes, house items, furniture…everything?). I had always been annoyed by how easily things break and was increasingly annoyed by how often I would buy new instead of used and choose store-bought over home-made. This seemed like the perfect opportunity for a values realignment and a chance for simplification.

But wait...before I go any further, I will emphasize that I have the financial privilege and power to make this choice. There are people who are never able to afford something new or who have no means at all to make purchases for the even the basics of shelter and food. I completely understand and value my privilege in this experience and want my lessons learned to impact how I use my income and potentially influence others to take a look at these issues for themselves.

Having said that, I would ask you to consider the levels of privilege you have to be appreciated, valued and celebrated! By virtue of being able to read, have access to a computer and the ability to pay an electricity bill, I am humbled by knowing with these things alone, I have more than many, if not most people and perhaps so do you.

So, back to nothing new...I put my own boundaries on what the year would look like and in this blog I will share my experiences, my ideas and suggestions, lessons learned and resources for trying your own (Mostly) Nothing New experiment. I have set up my own rules that have some level of discomfort or effort required (otherwise what's the point?) AND are do-able (as in I am not going to live outside for a year with the raccoons, weave fabric for clothing or make my own soap!) Should you take on a challenge like this, you will most likely set up your own stipulations…again it is my opinion that there needs to be some level of pain for it to be a noteworthy change AND within reason in your own lifestyle to be able to sustain your changes…

My MNN (Mostly Nothing New) framework is this:

OK TO BUY NEW (everything else will wait until March 20, 2011 or later)
1. Food (used food is, well, gone, so it seems to make sense)
2. Toiletries and consumable household goods like cleaning products (see Item #1)
3. Electricity and gas for heating and cooling my house (and home office)
4. Necessary house items - related to structure and safety if needed (think Home Depot)
5. Gas for my car (again, used gas is not a helpful entity once it is gone)
6. Car parts if used parts are not available or appropriate (e.g. tires, see also Item #1))
7. Office supplies - paper, printer cartridges, training materials (to be able to run my business)
8. Second hand clothing (if needed at all)
9. Experiences (e.g. trips - my family is scattered and I travel for my job)
10. Gifts for others that are second-hand, hand-made by me or food

These past four months have been very interesting so I will backtrack to share some learnings and a ton of resources and reactions that people share with me when I tell them about MNN…I am excited to get you up to speed on my past 115 days and keep you posted on the next 250 days! This whole thing has evolved quite a bit since March 19th including how to handle the times I “slip”….will tell all :)