Consumer Less - Frugally Thrifty Skinflint blog

Sustainable Living - Living Green - Leaving your carbon imprint - Leaving behind Consumerism marketed and packaged as necessary to your well-being - Living somewhat off the grid - Meaningful and purposeful living - Conscientious Stewards of Mother Earth's Resources - and lastly, some sage, good old fashioned ways to do what our generations before us knew how to do without purchasing every new product on the market.

 This little guy is who we affectionately call our Miserly Skinflint Curmudgeon.  He appeared to us as TurnerJake - a kind of old guy - a bit of a curmedgeonly sort.  I came to call him the curmudgeon, and he seemed a good representation for frugal, thrifty use of resources. 


I found some other characters to keep him company.  I used them on the first Skinflint website (which has since gone off into the sunset). 

Then I made a blog, using Skinflint characters, and it is still around, but I never really developed it. 


Then I got sidetracked for four years devoting all my time and energies to activism in trying to bring an end to war in Iraq.  (Two in our family were enlisted in U.S. Army and both deployed to Iraq in the first stop-lossed 15 month tour - OIF- March 2003 thru July 2004.)


Well, the war in Iraq continues, and I can't last another four years without some other balance in my life.  So, I've revisited the ol' Skinflint and in my absence, it looks like it's become popular to think 'sustainable living, renewable resources, reduced carbon imprint'.  


Adding those concepts to where I left off with 'meaningful and intentional' living; shifting to a less consumer-oriented lifestyle and living slightly 'off the grid', it seems a bit of updating for the ol' Skinflint and we're already living in alignment with many of the current trends. 


Now back in the day when I was using the Skinflint characters (Western motif), it was before we had an old gunfighter for a President.  I'm not sure I can still use the western motif with the same level of affection.      





 Added Apartment Therapy to my bloglines today.  Figured it was another source of some clever ideas from people who are apartment dwellers. 

And I couldn't resist sharing this not so spendy, repurposing of books on bookshelves.  My husband, daughter, mother and myself are lovers of books, so idea appeals to me greatly. 

From chotda at flickr 


 and another take on same idea - sugarfreak at flickr


Found some great links today.  And local to my area, okay, well at least my state.  Found at Apartment Therapy reference links to Re-Use Salvage stores in Seattle and Bellingham, WA.  I know there are salvage operations, and that is not new.  But the focus to re-use, not toss out, and refashion or repurpose is a bit of 'repackaging' or re-marketing an old idea.  

Earthwise, Inc., Building Salvage (Seattle)

The ReStore (Seattle and Bellingham)


 Thursday, March 1, 2007

The 'Victory Garden' still has meaning for today's generation

I have long believed the WWll concept of everyone having a 'Victory Garden' of their own has more meaning for us now in these times in a quite different way. In the time of WWll, individuals grew Victory Gardens as a response to war-time rationing and as a united gesture of patriotic support.

As 'living off the grid', becoming consumer-less, corporate farming, global warming, terminator seeds (food seeds), sustainable living and stewardship for Mother Earth's resources become relevant issues, I have yearned for us, as a collective country of concerned citizens get back to the idea of Victory Garden brought into the 21st century. Looking back at earlier decades - fashionably called 'retro', and repurposed or refashioned to the 21st century, why not look back to the Victory Garden concept of WWll and give it a 21st century facelift?

Please take a look at WorldChanging: Tales of a Self-Sufficient City.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Bottled Water likened to Driving a Hummer - think about it.

Found this morning atPath to Freedom Journal and I just have to share this here....I so agree, I so agree.

Be Part of the Solution

{from Organic Consumer Association}

According to the San Francisco Chronicle and lawsuits from the Environmental Law Foundation, 40% of bottled water is really just repackaged tap water. Maybe that's a good thing, considering federal standards for tap water are actually higher than those for bottled water.

Supplying Americans with plastic water bottles for one year consumes more than 47 million gallons of oil, according to the Container Recycling Institute. That's enough to take 100,000 cars off the road and 1 billion pounds of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. Add in the additional amount of oil it takes to ship the bottles thousands of miles from extraction source to recipient, and your drink of H2O could be categorized with the "Hummers" of the world.

Buddha's bones turned to dust a long time ago. But if he had been a bottled water drinker, that plastic would still be laying around. It takes two minutes to drink a bottle of water, but it takes thousands of years for that piece of plastic garbage to go away.

Buy a water filter and a non-plastic water container of your preferred size. Fill it up in the morning before you go to work or school. Do a quick online search, and you can also find affordable portable water filters for when you are traveling. You'll save yourself and the environment a lot of expense.

And, I would add, that there are instances where the convenience of bottled water is helpful, ie, disaster - Hurricane Katrina-, flood, outages, storms, emergencies. On the other hand, in a documentary I saw that was rather chilling - 'The Corporation' - there well may be something to the underlying premise that conditioning populations to 'pay for drinking water' is just that - conditioning. We've been well conditioned to become avid 'consumers' and buying products is equated to our supposed well being but is it really?

Follow the money and you will come to learn that Big Corporations didn't get that way without some clever, smart 'marketing' over the decades. Even back to the 1940s or earlier corporations were envisioning this kind of future where they owned everything we would need to live - food, shelter, water, clothing, medicine etc. I could go on and on, but I won't. I have to say though that the idea of 'paying for bottled water' is a new concept as only a few years back who would have even thought to pay for drinking water? It was hyped as more pure, cleaner and had a bit of a social elevation twinge to it - a kind of labeling that said I'm too good to drink just any water, I have this bottle of (fill in the name label)....

First it was actual glass bottles, then plastic bottles, then the image became one of the 'active person' into exercise, sports, health, good parent concerned about children and family, well being sort of imaging. First it was some few companies manufacturing bottled water, now how many companies make bottled water available as a 'for sale product'? In one of the South America countries, and I forget which one, perhaps Brazil, there was effort by the money makers to charge the people for 'rain water'. That's right - rain, falling out of the sky, captured in barrels and containers for use as family drinking and cooking water - and being charged for doing so ---- think about it. Rain - free resource - who can own the rain? A long time ago, the Native Americans found it an equally perculiar concept that the Europeans coming to America believed they could own the land.

What kind of carbon imprint are you (we) leaving? Whatever your consumption and the carbon imprint it leaves is the inheritance of your children and their children. I rather like the idea of giving some thought to personal responsibility and our own carbon imprint. There isn't a lot we can do about Big Corporation and launching any kind of campaign to get them to change their behavior or take responsibility takes enormous energy and resources. However, if each of us becomes different kind of consumer and more interested in our own carbon imprint, corporations will by their very nature be forced to alter their behavior.

Another blog entry and I'll write about Montsano - the Big Corporation who has already done what none others have done - taken out patents on seeds (food) - as if a living thing can be patented. That's not all - but more on that another time.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

So we aren't the only ones wanting be less consumer or consumerless

I found a couple of sites today where it looks like people are taking consuming less, conserving more, being environmentally conscientious to the next levels - trying to find alternatives to being purchasing consumers.

I love it, because quietly that is what my husband and I have been doing for several years now, rather contrary to the mainstream of buy, buy, buy. Guess I've been a bit self conscious about it, but now that it is gaining popularity, looks like we're a bit ahead of the curve.

For us, the lifestyle change provided us with a challenge to buy less, conserve more, re-use and find creative ways to make a single income budget work for us. We were both in career employment, social work, and permanent employees of State of Washington. And the benefits include retirement, health insurance, paid vacation and sick days. That is almost becoming obsolete in these times, isn't it? So why would I leave such a job? Short story is that I broke my public service job before in leaving so I don't have retirement accumulation for consecutive unbroken service. I took out my retirement contributions so when I return to state service, my retirement begins all over again, as if I am a brand new, first time employee.

Already having that history behind me, I would have to work another 18 years to actually get retirement benefits and that has been an uncomfortable stretch for me to envision. When the U.S. military was ordered to invade Iraq in 2003, my daughter's husband was deployed, and she was left alone with their three children. A rule of employment with State service requires neutrality on discussion of politics in the workplace. I looked down that road and realized there was no way that I would or could retain neutrality on the politics of Iraq war. I believed my time would be better served trying to be 'there' for my daughter and grandchildren.

My husband and I discussed and agreed that my leaving would bring us up short on budgeting, but he is committed to my developing my artistic side (home, garden, oil painting, and such) and agreed politics of Iraq invasion or not, our coupleness was better served with me at home and him retaining the employment income. I left my employment August 2003. I do not regret doing it, and helping out where I could with my daughter and grandchildren while son-in-law was deployed to Iraq was immeasureable in terms of lost budget dollars for us. I actually became quite the military family speaking out activist against the Iraq war over the years since then, but that is a quite different blog.

We learned to give up purchasing 'things' we at first believed we couldn't afford. But over time that thinking changed to 'things' we didn't actually need but were more in the habit of buying and thinking we needed them. The challenge became trying to find ways to do more with less, live a quality lifestyle purchasing less - consuming less, live a meaningful lifestyle of choice. Now the trend is moving towards sustainable lifestyle, environmentally conscientious lifestyle, consuming less lifestyle.

Sometimes for some it is very intentional, sometimes for others it is the forced circumstances that cause lifestyle changes. However people arrive at trying to make more out of using, spending, consuming less, people arrive at various points on the continuum. I like the idea of sharing ideas, oldsters and youngsters, as my generation and the generation before me have much good 'old fashioned' learning to pass along. And the youngsters are very clever at making what is old seem very new, refreshing, charming, and they bring new information to cleanse away old information that has, in fact, become dated. They bring a 'makeover' quality with them as they embrace the consuming less, recycling, sustainable lifestyle. I find it energizing and exciting.

I think, for example, of my oldest daughter and her family, who through circumstances had a spiralling decline in income and literally have had to find their way back via the pulling up from the bootstraps method. Along that journey, though, I believe, they have found some meaningful changes in thinking that enriches their lives rather than takes away from their lives. Her experiences though, are not mine to tell, they are hers to tell in her own way, in her own time.

It would be a mistake to glorify reduced income, reduced circumstances when it can, in fact, interfere with a person or family's well being. It's not my intention to do that here, but the definitions for what is a person's or family's well being is subjective. Buying the latest gizmo is not buying happiness or reward - it is simply feeding the consumer machine and the consumer machine has had decades to develop marketing strategies designed to make consumers out of all of us from early childhood. Perhaps, along the way of this blog, I will get into more about that, but for now, it's not hard to find the information and begin learning just how much of an indoctrinated consumer we have all become.

So - with that I give you the blog I bumped into today -Compact - which has this intro

1) to go beyond recycling in trying to counteract the negative global environmental and socio-economic impacts of U.S. consumer culture, to resist global corporatism, and to support local businesses, farms, etc. -- a step, we hope, inherits the revolutionary impulse of the Mayflower Compact; 2) to reduce clutter and waste in our homes (as in trash Compact-er); 3) to simplify our lives (as in Calm-pact)

and a link there to Revernd Billy and the Church of Stop Shoppping.

I've given only a precursory glance over, but it does make me smile and capture my imagination, so I wanted to blog it here.

Back to Homepage -Todayz Newz