The Holidays, Unplugged

I’m sure you are torn between all the sweet deals going on in stores and online to make all that Christmas/Hanukkah loot seem a bit cheaper and the whole buy-nothing-make-something movement.

I get it. Really, I do.

I’m tempted to simply jump on the give experiences not material goods wagon, but I also really want the nice backpack I asked my mom and brother to get me. So I have a solution that will be perfect for whoever reads this:

Do what makes you Happy.

If shopping for everyone on your list makes you and your wallet sob in fear, don’t. Buy cheaper things, buy group gifts for families, or hop on the buy-nothing train. If you feel stupid giving the dry ingredients for brownies in a cute mason jar or candle holders made of tuna cans and clothes pins or coupons for you babysit or wash their car for free, don’t.

As your broke and green lady, I don’t want to buy stuff. As your lazy pal, I don’t wanna make stuff.

So when I found a pricey dress my mom loved, my brother and I split it. For my extended family? They know it is expensive to fly home and are glad to see me once a year. I emphasize that I am the gift. [Insert winning smile]

My friends and I don’t do Christmas gifts unless something really catches an eye and screams your name. Then it’s cheap and it’s clear there is no expected gift in return. We treat each other by taking each other out when it’s out birthday, when we celebrate life events, when we’re a little flush with cash and buy an extra round.  That is what makes us all happy without any pressure.

If it makes you happy to one up your uncle in giving your grandma a cool gift, fine. If that January credit card bill stings through April and you’ve forgotten why by Valentine’s Day…are you really happy?

Joy to the world. Peace on Earth. You are part of this world, you are a citizen of this earth. You deserve joy and peace as well. The first year you let your consumer facade crumble a little may be scary and you may be tempted to feel disappointed in yourself. Don’t. Once you’ve lowered that artificial bar (that no one but you set up in the first place) next year will be easier. Maybe even happier.

You deserve a gift too. Why not just make yourself happy?


Less Stuff Is More You

“A house is just a pile of stuff with a cover on it….Sometimes you gotta move, gotta get a bigger house. Why? No room for your stuff anymore.”

-George Carlin

You can own less or buy less. You don’t have to go crazy, sell all earthly possessions, grow all your own food, and live out of a microhome (unless you want to). You don’t have to commit to buying nothing new for the next 365 days (unless you want to).

Remember guys, we aren’t only green, we’re green, broke, and lazy. It all comes back to taking small steps.

I suggest beginning with decluttering. You may have duplicates of things or already own, something you may think you need to buy. Don’t waste your money, use what you have. You may even find, in going through your stuff, that you have excess stuff you can get rid of. This isn’t an excuse to go on a shopping spree later. Why buy replacements for objects you never used and didn’t even remember you had?

Donate or sell stuff you don’t want or use. Toss the trash, recycle the recylables. Give a shout out on Facebook or Twitter to see if any friends want to swing by and pick up your trash and turn it into their new treasure.

Social media is a great forum for finding stuff you don’t have, but don’t want to (or can’t) buy. Buying less allows you to save money. It helps out the environment. And it may just create a more involved community or group of friends in the process. I don’t own a toaster, but I have a friend who does and rarely uses it. I asked if I could have it until she wanted it back. She rarely used it and hasn’t asked for it back even when I remind her I have it. I didn’t have to buy a toaster, this toaster is being used. And if I ever want it out of the house, I can just give it back.

A sharing economy means objects have longer, fuller lives and each person involved generally will spend far less that purchasing their own goods.

Does it work for everyone or everything? Of course not. With some trial and error and basic communication with your friends, family, and neighbors, you’ll figure out what you are willing to share or go without. You’ll know what you definitely need to buy and keep to yourself.

Be broke. Be lazy. Be green. It’s easier if you don’t do it alone.

The Basics

When is the last time you saw you nose without the aid of a mirror?

Our brains selectively ignore the fact that our nose is in our field of vision. It’s not important, and it would actually be distracting to remember to see it. It would get in the way of paying attention to our environment. We know it’s there and let it slide out of focus.

This is how bad habits stick with us for so long: we stop paying attention to them. They are part of our routines.

We don’t mean to slip into bad habits. It happens when we stop noticing. Bit by bit, our good intentions get pushed aside and the rut of our routine changes track. We just need to remember to be more mindful of ourselves and our actions.

Take a step back and look at your green routine. Assess what you are doing and how you can improve. It’s easy to become lax with the basics, those are the things we don’t dedicate much thinking to. Who thinks about cutting up 6 pack rings anymore?

The first step to a green lifestyle is not buying green, but being green. Here are some easy suggestions to make sure your current life is making your wallet and the world a little bit greener.

  • If you aren’t using it, shut it off! TVs, computers, coffee makers, lights, and so much more can be shut off when you aren’t using them.
  • Once they are off, unplug them! Phantom power can waste up to 10% of your electricity bill. Take chargers out of the outlet and plug that blender back in only when you need to use it.
  • Before you put anything in the garbage, can it go elsewhere? Composting gives back to the earth and you may be able to recycle items like batteries and light bulbs. Do your research and see what your community offers.
  • Can that ‘trash’ be repaired? Can it be used for another purpose? Get creative and maybe you won’t have to go out and buy gifts. Pinterest, guys!
  • Got a lot of stuff and not sure what to do with it all? Have a garage sale! Get some friends or neighbors involved and enjoy a Saturday outside making money and giving those goods a second life.

Help your wallet by reviewing your electricity uses. Save the earth by reviewing your garbage/recycling/composting routine. Get involved in your community by donating or having a garage sale. Learn a new skill and fix something. None of this has to cost you much and all of it can be fun.

What is your green routine?