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 :)