Saturday, December 31, 2011

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Holiday Waste

I found an interesting chart on The Everyday Minimalist.  Go here to see a larger version of it.  I tried and tried to get it to upload to fit my blog but each time it ended up as either too large or too small.  

The chart talks about all the waste associated with the holiday season - waste in that we spend a lot of resources wrapping gifts that people often do not want that end up being given away or put into landfill.  One interesting fact is that half of the paper that Americans use goes into wrapping and decorating!  

A lot to think about...and to reconsider.

Wellness Wednesday

make up
Do you know what's in your cosmetics?  Most likely some very toxic ingredients.  The Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep database contains over 69,000 products that are analyzed based on health concerns such as cancer, developmental and reproductive toxicity, allergies and immunotoxicity, and other potential hazards.  With the new year approaching, now might be a good time to rethink products you purchase and look for healthy alternatives.  

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Future

I hope all of my readers are enjoying happy holidays.  We had a very quiet but enjoyable Christmas at our house.  A number of years ago, my hubby and I decided to forgo exchanging gifts as we have everything we need and tend to have few wants.  We both find the Christmas season to be painful to watch as people spend more than they should on items that they feel obligated to give items to people who don't really want them.  It all seems such a waste.  From Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve, people go into a shopping frenzy, spending money they don't have and running up credit card bills they will be paying over the course of several months, sometimes not even finishing paying off one Christmas before the next Christmas comes around.  On Christmas day, the consumerist orgy commences and is over in the blink of an eye.  Then, on December 26, everyone runs to the stores to return the gifts they received.  (And I'm not even going to talk about what the holidays do to the environment.)  Over the years, Bill and I have asked family to not purchase gifts for us and most have ultimately honored our request.  It makes us happier when we do not receive gifts.

This year my family decided to do something more meaningful.  My hubby, daughter, and I helped out at our annual community Christmas dinner that serves low income individuals in our area.  Guests received a hot Christmas dinner, a bag of used clothing they selected from donations, a blanket, a bag of toiletries, and a gift.  For many of the guests, that was the only gift they received for Christmas.  Driving home after helping to clean up, the disparity between rich and poor was really driven home as we passed the local trash dumpsters which were overflowing with cardboard boxes, plastic wrap,  and gift wrap:
Photo courtesy of my husband

It became even more personal as we passed a house where they actually had their own personal trailer filled with their discards from the Christmas gift frenzy.  

I often hear people lament that they want to "take back Christmas" and "go back to the way it used to be."  Well, that's up to us.  We need to tell family and friends that we're opting out of the meaningless gift exchanges.  We once participated in a family gift exchange among the cousins in Bill's family.  Often, these were people we only briefly saw two or three times a year and didn't know them well.  The year someone suggested I buy long underwear as a gift for one of the male cousins was the year I said no more.  Almost everything I ever received in those exchanges ended up in the donation pile the very next week.  I wasn't ungrateful as I know much thought and time went into selected the gifts.  It's just that I didn't need the items and I didn't want the clutter in my home.  A friend commented that her family gift exchange has turned into everyone exchanging gift cards:  "Merry Christmas!  Here's a $25 Outback card; thanks for the $25 Olive Garden card."  How is this showing love to one another?  I'm not a Grinch and I like to receive surprises.  But we need to rethink, simplify, and personalize gift giving.  Cookie exchanges, giving to favorite charities, or volunteering together are much more meaningful and definitely less wasteful.  

As I approach the new year, I want to continue focusing on appreciating the simple things and working towards reducing, reusing, and recycling in all areas of my life.  I want to more fully live out my Quaker ideals of simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equality, and sustainability.  Over the next week, I'm going to be pondering how I will continue this personal journey and then share a few of my thoughts and goals.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas


Wishing you all a very blessed holiday!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Homeless Veterans

Now that some of the troops are coming home from Iraq, let's remember to continue to support them. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Wellness Wednesday

Now that the holiday season has arrived, below are a few common sense tips from Jigsaw Health on staying healthy through what can be a very stressful time for many people:

  • Spend time with people you love
  • Stick to your regular exercise program
  • Enjoy the outdoors
  • Watch your sweets intake
  • Moderation is key
  • Take supplements to ward off illness
  • Take a complete multi-vitamin

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Fair Trade

A while back, I posted about child slavery and buying fair trade.  Well, I finally was able to get out of town to purchase some fair trade items.  Here's what I got:

I got some organic, fair trade black tea to brew up some iced tea.  And I realized that it is actually probably cheaper for me to brew up this tea rather than the "cold brew" Lipton's that I had been using since I use very little loose tea for a very large pot plus I'm not paying for the convenience of the processed stuff.  

I was a bit overwhelmed by the coffee selection as not all were fair trade, some were ground, some were beans, and some were those detestable "K-cups" that are a huge waste of resources.  My husband drinks Cuban coffee so the closest I found was an espresso bean that needed to be ground (we don't have a grinder at home).  I felt pretty happy with myself as I had to learn how to use the store's grinder and I ground up a pound of beans to take home.  

I also picked up some organic, fair trade chocolate chips for my daughter and me to make chocolate chip cookies over the school break.  The chocolate bar was just because it looked so good! 

Now that I know the truth behind coffee, tea, and chocolate, I can't go back.  I now need to make planned purchases of these luxury items when I'm out of town; otherwise, I'll run out and have to do without.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Wellness Wednesday

In the past, it has been difficult for researchers to make the case for a clear link between the use of indoor tanning beds and deadly skin cancer.  However, the Yale School of Public Health conducted a study of almost 400 individuals who received a basal cell carcinoma diagnosis and who had at some point used a tanning bed and compared that group to a control group.  The results were that those who had used a tanning bed were almost 70% more likely to get skin cancer.  Another study said that the biggest deterrent to using tanning beds is not the threat of cancer but an emphasis on the threat of wrinkling.  Read more about the study here.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Quote for the Day

Colorado River 1
"Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul."
~John Muir

Friday, December 9, 2011

A Better Plan for Gift Giving


A couple of weeks ago I heard a DJ on the radio talking about a blogger who had a somewhat different philosophy on gift giving for her family this time of year.  The blogger told her family she would give them each four gifts:

Something you want;
Something you need;
Something to wear;
Something to read.


Thursday, December 8, 2011


So, I'm in CVS picking up a few items.  I round the corner of an isle and there, on the end cap is a display of these:

They're called "Easy Feet" (as seen on TV) and they're $9.99.  The box said they eliminate the pesky need to bend over to wash your feet.  What?!  Why is it that we as a nation have found that bending over is too much trouble and that we should spend our precious earthy resources to make these gadgets?  That, I might add, will quickly end up in our landfills.  And we wonder why we have an obesity epidemic.  Or maybe it's the obesity epidemic that makes it difficult to wash our feet.  Am I the only one who thinks this is one of the worst ideas?  Evidently, the inventor and CVS don't think so.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Wellness Wednesday


When it comes to being sedentary, I'm as guilty as the next person.  Being in school increases the amount of time I spend sitting as I have to do a lot of research and writing on the computer.  So, I was pleased to find these six simple tips to help decrease the amount of time spent sitting:

  1. Pace while talking on the phone
  2. Putter after eating - or take a quick walk
  3. Sit in bar seats at restaurants
  4. Stand at events rather than bringing a chair
  5. Do things in person rather than calling or emailing
  6. Have multiple work stations that force you to move your body from one place to another

Although many of these tips are applicable for people who work in an office, you can adapt these tips to your own lifestyle.  The bottom line is:  don't make life too easy.  Find creative ways to structure your life in a way that makes you get up out of your chair throughout your day.

(Photo source:

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Quote for the Day

"A bone to the dog is not charity.  Charity is the bone shared with the dog, when you are just as hungry as the dog."
~Jack London
A bone to the dog is not charity. Charity is the bone shared with the dog, when you are just as hungry as the dog