trying to be more frugal & more "green" (in a mainstream society).

Aaron and I are really trying to be more frugal & more “green” to go along with our healthy eating lifestyle.
But, I have to admit: its a hard thing to do when we live in a society that is:
– lazy
– consumerism-driven
– high trash/waste producing (thanks to all of the “use it and toss it” products on the market these days)
– demanding instant-gratification
– environmentally neglecting
– selfish
– leading such a destructive & sedentary lifestyle

Here are a few changes that we have made in our lives to try to be more green, use less energy, spend less frivolously, to live more sustainably and local, and to avoid being the things I listed above:

-No more microwave.
That’s right! About a year ago we got rid of our microwave.
And you know what? We haven’t missed it at all.
Some people argue that microwaves are unsafe and could cause cancer….. but that’s not the reason we ditched ours. In fact, from a Chemistry standpoint: microwaves (due to their frequency, wavelength & energy) fall into a category that is actually “safer” than visible light; so they really aren’t a health issue in that regard at all… BUT, in my opinion they are a health issue in other ways.
People depend on their microwaves to heat up left overs, prepare frozen & pre-packaged meals (that are filled with large amounts of sodium, nasty preservatives and offer very little in terms of nutrition), heat up their baby’s milk,  prepare desserts like cheesecakes and brownies, and I could go on and on.
What happened to the stove-top and oven?
Microwaves have contributed to this country’s laziness and has replaced the aspect of “preparing and cooking” meals for the average family.
and, from a foodie’s standpoint, I think microwaves do a disservice to food in general.
The food you heat up in a microwave (even if its leftovers from a great, homemade meal) has a much lower taste & quality value than if you would have heated it up in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes. Its totally worth waiting the extra few minutes to use to oven or stove top.

-No more cable TV.
That’s right! We don’t have cable. Which means we get about 10 “regular” channels on our TV but choose not to watch them.
We use our TV to stream Pandora radio or Netflix through it.
If its not on Netflix, then no, we haven’t seen it. It has actually been quite liberating!
We don’t watch unnecessary TV, we don’t see tempting commercials advertising the latest and greatest pointless product, we don’t have to endure the awful agenda-based “news” (we choose to get our news from NPR, BBC.com, or similar web-based or radio sources), or get sucked into watching things that we otherwise have no interest in seeing.
Since our television watching is limited to what we CHOOSE to watch on Netflix we also have noticed that our time spent in front of the TV has dwindled. In fact, on any given day (even those when we have been home all day) it is not uncommon for us to not turn the TV on until 4 or 5pm. and then, its usually an old episode of Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, Surviorman, TedTalks, or some nerdy, science-based show from the Discovery Channel or National Geographic. 

– Use reusable items. 
We really make an effort to use reusable things. Some of our reusable items include:
– reusable napkins on the dinner table
– reusable “baggies” instead of Ziploc plastic baggies
– reusable grocery bags for grocery shopping (I keep 4 in my purse at all times)
– reusable Sigg or Nalgene water bottles, no disposable plastic bottles for us! 
– reusable/washable “paper towels”
– reusable/easily washable cleaning cloths, dusting cloths, etc

– Eliminate plastic
In our attempt to eliminate plastic from our lives, we have made the following adjustments:
– no plastic “tupperware” containers, we only use glass containers from Pyrex or Weck (for leftovers, etc)
– no plastic water bottles, we only use stainless steel Sigg bottles or BPA free Nalgene bottles
– we dont purchase drink items (Tejava tea, coconut water, sparkling water) that are packaged in plastic; glass or tetra packs only, which are easily recyclable!
– no Ziploc baggies, only reusable fabric ones

*there are still a few things in our house that are plastic, like our Brita filter and Nalgene water bottles, but in those cases we make sure the items are BPA free [and, reusable!].

– Recycle. 
we recycle, a lot. 

– Buy local [when possible]. 
its hard to stay completely local all the time (ie. bananas) however, California its easier than in most states. We put forth the effort to support local vendors when we can:
– we are members of a local produce co-op
– if we have to purchase produce in addition to our co-op we try to buy from local farmer’s markets [when possible]
– we try to only purchase California or West Coast beer and wine
– we frequent restaurants that we know use local produce [when possible]
– we become brand loyal when we discover a certain vendor/brand manufactures their product locally

– Avoid driving when we can. 
We chose our neighborhood, Miracle Mile, because it is very conducive to a pedestrian lifestyle. We can walk to Trader Joes, Whole Foods, The Grove, The Beverly Center, our local post office, several restaurants, bars, wine bistros, our bank, and cafes.
It is not uncommon for us to go on a 5-9 mile walk on the weekends just to run our errands and take Ziggy out for some exercise.
Not only does walking give us exercise, but it also cuts down on the stress of find a parking spot AND it helps reduce emissions into the air.

– Buy in bulk.
This is a kind of new for us because we live in an apartment with not much storage; but we are making it work. Buying in bulk reduces your overall cost AND it reduces trips to the store (thus reducing exhaust emissions into the air) and it reduces the amount of packaging that needs to be recycled or thrown away. Its really a great thing if you can manage it. We buy “in bulk” in the bulk section at Whole Foods for our grains, oats, flours, chia seeds, etc and at Costco for things like toilet paper, coconut water, sparkling water, and vitamins.

– Make our own, instead of buying commercial.
here are a few things that we do ourselves instead of purchasing:
– we bake our own bread
– we brew our own beer (although, we still purchase some too but then, its primarily local beer)
– we make our own laundry detergent
– we make our own vanilla extract
– we make our own all-purpose citrus cleaner
– I take my lunch to school and teacher training, not only does this allow me to regulate what I eat and save money, but it also reduces the amount of trash/waste. 

– Upcyle when possible.
We try to upcyle what we can before throwing it away, recycling it, or donating it.

Just about every thing from our wedding reception has been upcyled into our apartment:
vintage wooden crates (that we bought 2nd hand from the Melrose flea market) –> now our small box planter for our herbs
the decorative Mason jars –> now our daily drinking glasses
the water dispensers –> one now holds filtered, chilled water in the fridge and the other holds our laundry detergent
the stainless steel food scoopers –> now are in our canisters of flours and sugars

we also upcyle other things:
an old resuable canvas shopping bag (with a hole in it) –> is now my bread/pastry cloth for baking
empty 22oz beer bottles –> now our candle holders

– Go paperless.  
We try to select the “paperless” option on all of our bills. We try not to subscribe to printed newsletters or magazines, and I use the “Paper Karma” app on my iPhone which helps eliminate us from lists to receive seasonal/promotional catalogs and advertisements.

– Grow our own.
we currently have a small planter box garden with cilantro, rosemary, jalapenos, and fresno chilis.

even with all of this, we still feel that we could do more.
Its hard when you’re a renter and cant alter too much of your living situation BUT when we do purchase our own home (hopefully later this year!) we are looking forward to taking things a step further; like, planting a larger veggie & herb garden, planing fruit trees, and installing a grey water system.

But for now, we will focus more on the frugality aspect of living by trying to find other ways to scale down our spending, produce less waste, buy locally, and make items that we dont have to purchase in stores.

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