5 liberating and eco-friendly no cost resolutions for 2017 that may just save you money

 

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image credit to Heidi Abraham [ watercolor painting ]

For some people, New Year’s Eve comes and goes without much significance. But for many, New Years signifies a new chance to try again and renew ourselves with resolutions for a better year [ or another good year if we killed it in 2016 ]. And so many resolutions sound like ‘I will __[ fill in this blank ]___ more’, or ‘I will have more ___[ something or other]___’, or ‘I will save up for ___[ whatever it is that we want to buy]___’.

A lot of resolutions revolve around money, *fun*, or losing weight [ which may also include more: more equipment, more work out clothing that looks super cute and is going to motivate you to get your sweat on ].

So, with our dear planet in mind, I’d like to suggest some greener resolutions, that don’t cost any money and may in fact save you some, that revolve around less instead of more:

Dip your toes in the minimalist pool

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Spend time this year purging, sorting through clutter, asking yourself ‘is this going to help me? do I need it?’ before bringing home new purchases. There is even a new Minimalism documentary on Netflix if you are looking for inspiration.

Minimalism will cost you nothing. And as you gain the hang of it, whether your fully dive in or not, you will likely save money and the planet along the way as you choose against buying things you don’t need. This is a calm and peaceful resolution that may be very simple to achieve. It is definitely liberating to let go of the stuff and focus on what really brings you happiness.

I also found this TedX Talk by Angela Horne inspiring:

Start with an item a day. Keep going for 30 days. See how you feel.

Grow your own food.

Gardening is empowering, therapeutic, cheap [ or free! ], and fulfilling. If you want a measure of how well you’re doing, you just need to look at your plants, remember ‘I did that’, and prepare to eat them when fully grown. I am a really big advocate for investing time and effort in growing edibles which are often just as beautiful as decorative plants, but you get to enjoy them twice: watch them grow, then down the hatch!

My sister is an expert gardener – planning and planting a huge garden each year on her property that yields enough food for her family to munch on for months. I’m more of a permanent newbie. Without a lot of outdoor space. But lucky me, there are tons of gardening resources out there like this one from Jerry James Stone that can inspire you to start growing on your windowsill or in small spaces if needed: food-that-magically-regrows-itself

http://jerryjamesstone.com/blog/2014/02/food-that-magically-regrows-itself-from-kitchen-scraps/

Spend time in nature.

This one may accidentally also help you get fitter or lose weight. But that’s beyond the point. Spending time in nature calms the brain, inspires hope, raises dopamine levels, helping you let go of the overwhelm and feel happier.

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30×30.davidsuzuki.org

An easy way to get inspired is to check out David Suzuki’s 30 by 30 challenge which promises When you love nature, Nature loves you back.

Go Veg

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This is one you can dabble in as well, if you’re not ready to go all in. Meat is an environmentally expensive food to produce: it costs farmland [ which, in turn, costs us natural spaces ], toxins from waste, transportation, and can be quite pricey in the grocery store. Any time you substitute a vegetarian meal you are doing a solid for the planet.

There are plenty of vegetarian recipe sites and cookbooks to learn from, or you can teach yourself. Some of my favorite vegetarian meals are super simple and quick to cook. Like sweet potato ‘pulled pork’ sandwiches:

  • carmelize some onions,
  • add shredded sweet potato
  • and barbecue sauce,
  • saute until soft,
  • and eat in a sandwich with coleslaw.

You’ll never miss the meat! So liberate yourself from meat, and the hefty price tag attached, and invest in the veg. If you are looking for more inspiration, I recommend Oh She Glows by Angela Liddon to get you started

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Drink more water [ and less junk ]

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This is the first recommendation that Zero Waste Chef makes in her blog post 6 Resolutions to Waste Less in 2017. Checkout her post here: https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/56226458/posts/1280811978.

Water is essential and is free. Drinking from your tap is a political gesture saying no to bottles, no to commercializing a natural resource, no to refined drinks that aren’t good for your body.

Lead on you revolutionary!

 

 

 

How to up your hostess game with a DIY water glass painting tutorial.

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Step aside designer dishes. Anthropologie. Pier1 Imports. Whoever you are. I have a paint brush, porcelain paint, thrift store dishes, and a plan that I want to share with you in this water glass painting tutorial.

If you are anything like me, you swoon over the custom prints and inspired home decor that you find in fancy shops. And then you gasp and choke when you look at the price, and reassert your determination to make do with the generic dishes you have at home. If you have an ounce of creativity, you can do this. All you really need to know how to do is color inside the lines. Want to learn more about glass painting? Read on.

First up, you need a canvas (in this case some kind of heat-proof dish that you want to paint). Please be sure to choose dishes that are microwave safe, or heat-proof, or made from pottery, because you know they’ve been through a kiln and can handle some heat. Until you’re an expert, and if you want to leave green fingerprints all over this project, start at a thrift store. For an investment of approximately 50 cents you can get started.

Next up – your supplies:

You will need an image that you plan to put on your dish. You can get all creative and brave, making your own, or find an image that you would like to trace.

You also need:

  • Porcelain paint – I recommend opaque pebeo. I picked some up at a local art supply store and it runs around $5 per bottle. I also recommend using an image that is monochrome so you don’t need to make a major investment to get started.
  • Paint brushes
  • Graphite paper
  • A pen or pencil to trace your image with
  • Scotch Tape – this one will hold your image and graphite paper in place while you trace and is a project-saver.

glass-painting-tutorial-supplies

Cut your graphite paper to a slightly larger size than your image. The reason you want it to be slightly larger is so that the tape will hold both your image and the paper in place.

Make sure your graphite paper is placed graphite side down on the glass with your image on top. Tape into place. You can move it around at this stage and make sure you get the image just where you want to. Trace your image.

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I like to place a piece of white paper on the opposite side of the glass now. Glass is reflective, and unless you’re doing this in the dark (which I don’t recommend) your may get a reflection of your outline that confuses you when you try to paint it in.

If you don’t like the way your image turned out you’re still able to change it. Just wipe the surface of the glass with a cloth and water to get the graphite off, and start that part again.

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And then it all gets easy. Can you trace lines with paint? Probably – so go for it. I have picked up a few tips along the way:

  • Use the paint liberally: the thicker it goes on, the more opaque (solid) the image will be.
  • Do not stop working on an area until you finish it. This paint settles seamlessly if it is applied against wet paint. This helps you avoid any lines in your image where you stopped painting and started again.
  • If you make a mistake, use water and a paintbrush to fix it. Once the paint is dry, if you want to get it off, you will need to scrub the entire dish and start over.
  • The bottle says you can air dry the paint over several days or you can bake it. I recommend baking. I have found that by curing it through baking it, you will get a very durable image that can withstand some pretty aggressive hand washing in the future.

Once you get the hang of glass painting with a simple project, branch out and get adventurous. The limits of what you can do are the limits of what you can imagine.

Did you find this helpful? Do you have an inspiring idea to share? Let us know about it.

Talk to you soon

 

 

Sleeping naked is green – book review & giveaway

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Found this book in a thrift store – check one eco-friendly box right there.

Then found out that Vanessa Farquharson is an everyday eco-role model for the general people of the planet [ re: us ]. Her plan was to try out a new eco-practice in her daily routine each day for a year starting with things like turning the lights off, recycled toilet paper, and no car on weekends. She ends up determining that sleeping naked is green because wearing less clothing means doing fewer loads of laundry which is good for the planet.

Vanessa’s [ yes, I am assuming we are on a first name basis now ] writing style incorporates her sense of humor, wit and charm in a novel-length brainstorm session about eco-practices that can make our lives more enjoyable, save us money, and save the planet.

I loved reading about Vanessa’s plan to Shower in the dark. She asks herself ‘Why have I never taken a shower in the dark before? It’s the perfect way to wake up while still denying the existence of daylight and all forthcoming responsibility’. I couldn’t help but agree. Why haven’t I thought of peeing in the dark? Or brushing my teeth in it? Drinking my morning coffee without the lights on to allow my body to adjust to daylight on it’s own? I think we’ve become quite attached to seeing while we are doing, but if we don’t have to see WHAT we are doing, doing it in the dark doesn’t make it a terrible experience.

Vanessa’s challenge to Write smaller and use both sides of the page to save paper also stood out to me. I’ve had a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach for a long while watching what a paper-driven work force I participate in and have wanted to find a way to re-use some of that paper for a long while. I’ve now allocated a drawer in my desk to the torn off blank paper remnants at the bottom of an office memo or printed form and plan to try my hand at making notebooks using thrifted art cards for covers. Stay tuned for more.

Giving up her car, unplugging her refrigerator, skipping the gown at the doctor’s office, and no toilet paper for number one demonstrate that Vanessa is a brave soul, willing to try any eco-practice on for size. Her ability to plan out and write about 366 days of eco practice inspires us to look for planet-friendly alternatives no matter what we are doing.

I feel it must be next to impossible to read this book and not feel inspired to make some changes in lifestyle habit and I would give this book a solid 4 out of 5 in the completely subjective rating system I just made up in my head.

Want to give it a read?

Follow this blog, Like this post, and Like SavingSarahGrace on Facebook for a chance to get my copy. I will choose a winner in a week and send you a note for your mailing address.

 

 

 

people powered washing machine – Look what I found on Indiegogo

 

Eco-journeys all start somewhere. Mine starts in a pretty typical household. I have a washer, dryer, I’m on the grid, there is food packaging in my cupboards, and I have a garbage can. I care about finding ways to do it differently, and I hope you’re still ok with me.

I do look around my home [ all. the. time.  ] and try to find more eco-friendly solutions that will work for us. Us being myself, my man friend, and my dog. Do you have any ideas? I’m all ears – leave a comment.

Indoor heating solutions is one of the ones that stumps me often, but laundry? I thought I had that sh*t on a leash.

Our local grocery store carries a few options for environmentally friendly laundry detergent. My favorite right now is Ecomax Lavender Scent. Plant-based detergent in a recycled and recyclable bottle. I know – right?! I couldn’t handle how excited I was to find that one.

And all the clothing racks. The ones that go outside and collapse down for storage? I got those. The ones that didn’t know they were clothing racks until you hung wet clothes on them – like bannisters, railings, doors and chairs? I got those. And when we purchased our home my handy-man installed a rod above our washer and dryer where we all have unused, wasted space. I’m very proud of it – see?

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Not to mention these cuties – have you discovered dryer balls yet? For the times you do need your dryer, these little babies fluff up your laundry making that beast of a machine more efficient, drying your clothing faster, and reducing the amount of time you need to run that energy sucking monster. I have these too!

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punky-creative dryer balls by Splat & Co in Kelowna, BC: http://splatandco.com https://www.facebook.com/SplatAndCo/?fref=ts

So I thought I was doing alright. Until I was looking around on Indiegogo to see what kind of eco-brilliance was being pursued in our world and found Drumi. A people powered, low-water usage, portable, eco-friendly washing machine?! According to their campaign, their machine can run with only 5 – 10L of water compared to a typical machine’s 50L. I thought ‘yeah, ok, I dig that, but it must take forever’. Nope. 5 minutes. It does only handle small loads but what better way to encourage you to wear your clothing multiple times, and minimize your wardrobe than to get intimately connected to the process of washing your clothes?

I couldn’t help thinking about ‘there is no away‘ slogans encouraging us to reduce our use of landfills and be more mindful about about our trash. We can use a little more mindful in our lives no? With Drumi, no more stuffing the electrical beast and walking away.

I love it, and it’s obvious by their success meeting 224% of their fundraising goals that others do too. Well done Drumi. Bravo.

Check out Drumi’s Indiegogo campaign at https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/drumi-the-foot-powered-washing-machine-design-green#/

 

 

 

 

 

the planet has 99 problems …

Think of something you need to do. Anything. If I told you that you needed to do it, would you feel grateful? Likely not.

We are all [ usually ] keenly aware of our deficits. But we still have them because we’re not so sure about solutions. We don’t know what to do. If we knew what to do, we’d have done it already. It’s tough when you spend all your time thinking about now, about what is wrong, or not working. It’s OVERWHELMING. It’s dark. And lonely. There’s not a lot of motivation happening there.

problem-focus

In a beautiful TedX, Nic Marks from the Happy Planet Index tells us:

‘Stop thinking that the future will be a nightmare. For too long we have focused on a worst case scenario, on the problems, and we have not thought enough about solutions. We have used fear to motivate change. And any psychologist will tell you that fear engages the flight mechanism. Think of a deer. People are freezing. And running away, because we are using fear.’

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M1o3FS0awtk&list=PLSGmpyDbL0hJ4b7ET0tJfYo0paLe6iqQK&index=2

It’s time to make a shift ; from a problem focus  to solutions –

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Isn’t it calmer here? Is your head clearer? Can you think? Let alone daydream about solutions? Welcome – you belong here.

If we are going to change anything we need  role models, inspiration, room to dream. We need to feel like we may just be ok or we won’t lift a finger because it won’t matter anyway. We need to be motivated, empowered to see just how strong and capable we are, and we need other people to believe in us and our solutions too. We need to know we are not crazy.

Can you help me build a little optimism on this one? What helps you move forward? What eco-dream are you shooting for?

 

Happiness is handmade

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Happiness is handmade. And handmade is green. Handmade is a way to practice traditional skills. And stay the heck out of the mall. Putting a lil’ love into the things that we create, keep and give away. Staying mindful and relaxed, harnessing your zen through a creative outlet.

We grew up hearing that the best ways to live a green life and be kind to our planet are to Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

I want to add a 4th R – r’handmakeit.

And when you’re handmakinit, try reducing consumption at the same time – using reused and recycled materials. I was so fortunate to befriend a beautiful maker, Yolanda, at https://www.nestandnurture.ca/ who makes the most beautiful children’s clothing out of new and reclaimed fabrics [ psst HANDMADE – check. it. out. ]. And one day I was even MORE fortunate that she gave me 8 garbage bags full of fabric scraps. It was actually hard work – stuffing them in my car, lugging them around, washing and sorting – and then I was in heaven. So with my little green thumbs (and fingers) I got to work and started making these woodland lovies. Bunnies, and Foxes, and Deer – Oh My! They are no less lovely and no less cherished by their new owners because they are made of second-hand scrap fabric.

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my sweet little niece Autumn with her little lovie

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this bunny is peeking out of a Nest and Nurture Nora Tunic: https://www.nestandnurture.ca/collections/nora-tunics

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checkit this little stinker sneaking away with the whole lot of em!

Do you have a favorite green handmade hobbie? Should I try it? I’m wearing my bravery pants – just teach me how.

Wednesdays are tough

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at Elsie’s Used Clothing in Halifax where the music is inviting, the people are inspiring and the clothing is EVERYWHERE [ https://www.facebook.com/ElsiesUsedClothing/ ]

Thrift shopping is good for the environment AND your soul. We live in a world where we just keep buying stuff. We sometimes use the stuff, and we need to get rid of the stuff. So you can often find real gems if you take the time to go looking. Some of my favorite and most inspiring people buy clothes only at thrift stores, or furnish and decorate their homes there.

There are times when you find an item with real potential but maybe a rip-tear-hole, or it is in the wrong size, or the wrong color to match your decorating scheme. But halt ; you are amazing and talented and you can change it. Learn the fine art of mending yourself (thank you youtube for all your tutorials), or take that pair of pants to a tailor. Refurb and refinish furniture. Recreate art. Don’t be afraid to try something new even if you’re not sure how it will turn out. Your investment was likely minimal (a few dollars), you may find a new hobbie, and it’s ok to eff around a little. Nobody was born with perfect skills and practice will make you decent (because perfection is a bit unrealistic for most of us).

So it’s Wednesday. Halfway through a work week, halfway to the weekend. Which is prime time for daydreaming in my world. If you’re anything like me, you’d rather be somewhere and you’re feeling inspire-able – any ideas?