Green Week Day 3: Using Less

July 18th

Miss Frida

Who wants a fabulous new market bag? Apparently throngs on the East Coast do. I’d love one of those, but my Frida bag fits the bill. Not only does this bag keep me from bringing home a ton of plastic ones, but I know that when it is full — it is time to leave the market. If I buy more than one bag, I end up throwing out produce at the end of the week because I couldn’t get to everything in time.
Frida and I have a weekly date at the market by my house. The clerks roll their eyes when they see me coming. Yet, more and more people are following the trend, so I guess they’ll just have to be more patient. This size reminds me to consume only what I must, which I think one of the most important principles of being good to the earth.

A few other photos from my home, simple ways I’m trying to use less:

unplugged in between

Appliances unplugged when not in use.

air drying

Drying my clothes on a clothing line and rack, rather than in a dryer. This has a double benefit this time of year because the dryer really heats up my laundry room.

saving fuel

Thankfully, ceiling fans help keep my air conditioning bill manageable. The key is to use these only when you are home. More great tips here.


I recycle everything I can.

nalgene to go

I always have one of these with me. If I am out and can refill one of these, rather than take a disposable cup, I do. Every bit helps. I think bottled water is pretty ridiculous; my parents own an RO water company and I’m spoiled with tasty tap water that’s been filtered. Tap water rocks.

What do you do to consume less?

Posted in
Journal, Recycle, Reduce, Reuse
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34 Responses

  1. i saw the frida bag in cozumel & immediately thought of you! i started to buy a few but ran out of time. glad to know you have one!!!

  2. i try to do many of the items on your list already, although there are a few i could do with greater frequency for sure. one other thing i do is use CFL bulbs. we’ve been switching over to them as the regular bulbs in the house have gone out, and have already seen an immediate improvement in the bills. we’ve gone six months in the family room ceiling fan without having to change a single bulb, and that’s never happened before. and with every bulb we change we see a dent in our electric bill. it’s nice in two ways!

    i’m also using up all my yarn stash before buying more, and trying (it’s super hard, though) to read all the books i own before getting any new ones. i’m gonna write a post about this right now, actually!

  3. Great ideas, Kelli, and I love your Frida shopping bag! In terms of your Day 3 theme of using less, I’m working on being less of a consumer by understanding the value of things, not only in terms of money but also in respect to resources used, time, quantity, and quality. In Tucson, we have large rolling recycle bins (the same size as the garbage bins) which are picked up each week. I am diligent about recycling all that I can but am amazed at how full both bins are each week which prompts me to wonder about how much is wasted. Things are improving though as we are stopping to think before buying now by considering whether it‚Äôs a ‚Äúwant‚Äù or a ‚Äúneed.‚Äù

  4. i try to sleep as much as possible that way i’m not awake to consume. kidding:)
    if you’re a coffee person, take your own travel mug to fill. i don’t want to think about how many disposable cups from starbucks are tossed away each day.

  5. doing only one of those things can have a huge impact. being able to incorporate all of this into your lifestyle is unbelievable!

  6. I’ve written about using less on my site today. I’m challenging everyone to vow not to buy or use disposable bottled water bottles for a year. I’m even throwing a prize into the mix! Anyone who is interested can enter.


  7. cute bag!

    i wrote a post last night about things i do that probably help the planet… things i do w/out thinking about it. i totally need to be better about unplugging things like chargers.

    i love tap water too! 🙂

  8. I believe the crocheted bottle bag I will send you in the next few days (I promise!) will handle your water bottles quite well. Don’t be alarmed when you see it, though, it does stretch!

    I gotta start turning off ceiling fans!

  9. rohanknitter July 18, 2007

    They own an ro company! Cool! We are all about the RO water!! When we built our house we hooked up an ro faucet to the kitchen sink plus a line to the fridge so even the ice cubes and such are ro. So we can also do without the endless bottles of water. I bring plastic bags to the grocery store where they have a bin to put them in for recycling. I haven’t been brave enough yet to bring canvas bags for all my groceries. (that’d be a lot of bags!! but I should do it!!) We try to use the library lots, renting or borrowing books/music/dvd’s rather than buying. I’m trying to think more about what I buy, and trying to reuse things. We have a lot of ceiling fans and while I do run the air cond, I set it fairly high and the fans make a huge difference.

  10. Jennifer July 18, 2007

    I echo all the tips listed here already. My absolute favorite cheapo re-using trick is to wash out ziploc baggies to use again and again – especially good tip when you buy the sturdier ones that are more expensive – they hold up to the washings better, and you buy les of them! My husband laughs at me for this but it’s worth it. Also we have a programmable thermostat – it cost $25 at Home Depot and has saved us hundreds in dollars and energy. We set it to switch on only the hours in the afternoon and evening when we’re home. Since our evenings and mornings cool off considerably, we use natural a/c (open the windows) for these times, then shut the windows and close curtains/blinds to keep the cool in when we leave for work. A little more effort, but works great and saves money – who could ask for more?

  11. after i read this i unplugged all the stuff i never use. thanks for the reminder!

  12. I love your Frida bag. Hubby and I have working on the grocery thing for awhile. We are trying to buy only as much as we need. Otherwise it sits in the Fridge and then goes bad before we get to it, and then we through it out. Waste of good food, waste of energy to keep it refridgerated, waste of money etc. Just plain waste, waste, waste. We are much better than we used to be, but it still needs work.

  13. I had a last minute run to the store last night and forgot my bag, so I walked out holding all 10 smaller items. It was clumsy, but I felt good about it.

  14. On the subject of clothes dryers: they shorten the life of your clothing, too! Plus, what’s more neighborly than chatting over the clothesline?

    I’d also like to make a plug for Habitat for Humanity ReStores and other household resale shops — construction waste is a much bigger problem than disposable diapers could ever be, and it’s up to each of us to make sure that things are DE-constructed and not just demolished in our neighborhoods. So much stuff can be reused & resold — windows, doors, cabinetry, wiring, plumbing fixtures, etc.

    But it does take patience to improve property value in this way — used things aren’t always available exactly when you want them, so it pays to be persistent. My husband and I have been waiting to find the perfect new garage entry door since late Spring. I have a feeling that August is going to be our month. 😉

  15. I just bought the same water bottles in the same colors, his and hers. I’ve been drying on the line for years in summer but not the winter. That would be just a tad to cold up her. Ceiling fans, every room and recycling always. Love your bag Kelli…ciao

  16. I feel good about my contributions…I almost always airdry most of our laundry. I feel guilty putting stuff in there unless I have to. But I have started unplugging appliances when not in use. That is so easy to do, but a lot of people still don’t do it. I wish I had ceiling fans in our townhouse. I may invest in a fan.


  17. WAHHHH! I have to find of one those Frida bags! I LOVE her!!

  18. I drive a small car! My Scion is the most awesome car ever! It’s about as big as a postage stamp on the outside, but inside, I fit a 6′ Billy bookcase from IKEA! True! Some days I feel like a little mouse on the big highway and wish for the prowess of an SUV. But, I do not need that kind of power or size. It doesn’t snow. I don’t tow. And we don’t have six kids or a pack of dogs. So, we stick with what we do need which is fuel efficient and reliable. I think if this country could get a handle on wants vs. needs we would all be a lot better off!

  19. OK, had to think about this. I live in an apartment so not a lot ofplaces for me to take stiff to recycle. I used to do it ALL the time when I lived in a house.

    Anyway, I LOVE Seventh Generation Dish Soap in Lavender. I also have a huge Brita Walter filter container in my fridge, so no more buying bottled water.

  20. we use cloth napkins at every meal… ps — another great market bag (for shopping for bigger items) is the 69 cent IKEA blue bag. I’ll be giving them to all my friends and neighbors for x-mas this year.

  21. I take reuseable bags to the grocery store as well! I love collecting reuseable totes. I really like your idea of only taking a bag to fill for that week. I really, really need to try to do that. I guess for my fiance and I, that would be two tote bags?
    One of my biggest weaknesses waste-reducing wise is with wasting food. For some reason I always buy too much and get excited about it at the store and then find I’m not wanting to eat it at home…or I eat out instead. =( Must work on this issue, I think your method is a great place to start!

  22. i feel kinda guilty about this because we dont have any kind of recycling in here.. they put a regulation on 2005 and municipalities supposed to convince people to put everything separate and recycle but nada! even the government knows they dont abide the regulations but noone does nothing. lately we have huge water problems (no rain at all so couple of months woth of water left in dams) and main municipality advertises about how a person could save tons of water doing real small sacrifices but no one talks about how they take measures about companies who use tons of water without recyling the water.. i am really pissed off and i share the guilt myself too.

    now i am making my own reusable shopping bag and have an idea on writing an article on my blog (in my language) and hopefully get some attention to the subject. personally, i start to recycle things. i dont know how they will end up and it is frustrating to see that the resources to read on subject is very hard to find…

  23. It’s many years now that we (hubby and I always go shopping together)use cotton bags for groceries, and I see we’re not the only ones in my usual mall. And our home is a big recycling facility (thanks also to our daughter, the official garbage inspector) so we have bins for paper, one for glass, and one for plastic and cans. And no stand-by appliances in our home.

  24. Hi! Thank you for all your ideas! I agree that reducing is a good thing. Here in Scotland we have a campaign called “Reduce, Reuse and Recycle” – I try! I recycle as much as possible – one small bag of trash per week goes in the bucket (it is only me in the house and I guess this doesn’t include everything I put in the bin at work!) I also have to dryer so everything line drys, we don’t need air conditioning as it is never that hot – but hey we could be needing the central heating soon!! Always on the look out for great shopping bags and Frida is great!!

  25. love the frida bag and this series! what a great way to highlight sustainability and being good to mama earth practices.

  26. Sarah HB July 19, 2007

    I have been using fabric bags for groceries for about 2 years…..they used to roll their eyes but now give me crap if I happen to forget them.

  27. Uhm in Ukraine we don’t have a dryer so we HAVE to use clothes lines. (Hanging off the balcony, it’s the old world!)

    I definitely only buy what I can eat and really have gotten into the habit of not buying junk food to sit around to munch on. If you come visit me unexpectedly, there will be nothing for you to eat because I only have enough for the next couple of meals and it’s usually sparser than what I would offer guests.

  28. i hate to rain on the reusable plastic water bottle/bag/container parade, as i was formerly a cheerleader, but i’ve read so much lately about all the new and interesting toxins they’re finding that i’ve decided to go with glass. you know those silly couture waters they sell at whole foods, for like, $4 a pop? i bought 2, and now we each have our own reusable, non-bisphenol A leaching containers. anyway, the reports on plastics are varied, (here’s a link: but i’d rather be safe than sorry…

    we use market bags & cloth napkins, and i feel so happy everytime we do. we also turn off the pilot light on our wall heater for most of the year, since it’s not in use.

  29. by the way, hi! never posted here before, love your site! (first comment is a downer, how nice)

  30. Levineke July 21, 2007

    we have a little independent supermarket close by to us and the kids and i walk up to the shop each day for things we need for the day. once a fortnight we do a big shop at a bigger supermarket to save a little on money. i like the thought of supporting small local businesses though. we try not to use the car on weekends – preferring to walk or ride. we only use air con/heating when it gets unbearable. i use a twin tub washer and recycle the grey water. we teach the kids about only using what they need, about growing your own fruit and vegetables, about enjoying the world, but respecting it as well. there are so many things that we do to leave the world a better place and the best thing is, at the end of the day, we are happier for it. as far as i’m concerned, money doesn’t make you happy, recycling makes me much happier!

  31. frida bag is great.

    have been going paperless billing…just posted about it.

    nice to see what people are doing for mother earth.

  32. love it ! i am doing a few things like this tooo ! Go green ! 4 real !

  33. Hi Kelli!

    I’ve been reading your blog for awhile now, and I found another version (in green) of your Frida bag at a thrift store today – brand new, mint condition. I remembered other mentions of Frida, and didn’t remember that you already had a bag! I thought of you when I found it, and if you’d like it, I’m happy to send it along to you! Just e-mail me your address and I’ll pop it in the mail. 🙂