Plastic detox: 5 easy ways to start

I stared at this picture for a long time. Trying to understand all the emotions that went through me…horror, disbelief, anger…and lastly, shame.

I use Q-tips all the time and once I am done with it, it goes into the garbage can, never to be spared a thought ever again…until I saw this picture.

There are so many more images in the internet about how plastic impacts the lives of so many animals and it brings to the fore the reality that we are all interconnected.   However, its not a fair exchange…animals pay a huge toll for our negligence and mindless actions.

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So, these past few months, Olivia and I have been mindfully paying attention to our buying habits and doing our part in reducing our plastic consumption.

These are 5 easy ways to start:

1. Bring your own travel mug

Did you know that those takeout coffee/tea cups are not recyclable?

Well, I didn’t.  All these years, I just thought…meh, it’s paper!

Wrong.  In order to hold hot liquids safely, these coffee cups are lined with 100% oil based polyethylene plastic which makes it impossible to recycle since it clogs the recycled paper mill’s machinery.

So, next time you stop by your favourite Starbucks for your caffeine fix, bring your own travel mug…you are protecting our environment…one coffee cup at a time.

2. No straw please…

I love bubble tea.  Who doesn’t?  I mean, it comes in so many flavours (taro is my favourite!), it’s colourful, and those tapioca pearls are a must have!

…..and it always comes with a straw–one of those big holed ones so that the tapioca can pass through.

Think about it for a minute, it is only used for a few minutes and then discarded.  Straws also pose a hazard to sea life like the picture above with the sea turtle…yes, folks, that is a straw being taken out of its nostrils. Imagine a straw being taken out of YOUR nose…yep, not a good picture, right?

So, while I am not going to ditch my bubble tea, I will ditch the straw.  There are actually glass straws that you can buy.  However, if you are a cheapskate like me,  I actually just reuse the bubble tea straws that I bought a long time ago when I didn’t know any better….

3. Buy in bulk and bring those glass containers

We have a Bulk Barn close to our house.  I really wasn’t paying it too much attention until one day I was following a recipe that required 1 tsp of allspice.  I went to the closest grocery store and lo and behold, I have to buy a huge container of allspice just so I can complete my apple crumble!  I actually thought that I should just skip this ingredient…but what if it is a key ingredient?

And as I was standing there, torn and undecided, an old lady who was passing by said …”If you just need a pinch, just go to the Bulk Barn across the street.”

True story.

The rest is history.  Now, Olivia and I frequent our neighbourhood Bulk Barn and to save on plastic bags, we bring our own glass jars.  They weigh the jar and put a sticker on the lid which shows the weight of the empty container.  We scoop what we need into it and when we pay, they deduct the weight of the jar.

So don’t throw those pasta sauce glass jars…they still come in handy!

4. No gum

Did you know that gum is made of plastic?  Enough said.

5. Bring your own reusable bag

With more and more grocery stores charging for plastic bags, bringing your own reusable grocery bags is a no brainer. Besides, reusable bags have become more fashionable, so why not?! Although, I must admit, if you are forgetful like me,  it is sometimes a pain to trudge back to the car as I always seem to remember it when I am already inside the grocery store.

So there you have it, little things that Olivia and I have done to reduce our plastic consumption.

How about you? What do YOU do to reduce your plastic footprint?

Have a good weekend, everyone…and remember to bring your own reusable bags for your Christmas shopping!

Debbie.

It started with an offer of Kleenex…

I caught a really nasty cold this past week…it may have been the flu but nonetheless, it devastated my whole entire week.

I even missed celebrating our Canadian Thanksgiving. I am not a big turkey fan but hey, I didn’t get to enjoy the long weekend it came with.

I think I caught it from the person who sat beside me on the train on my way to work.  It started with me offering her a Kleenex. In fact, I even texted my good old friend Joya the dilemma I was going through…

 

Joya suggested that I should move…

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I should have, now that I think about it…

Would you have taken a Kleenex from a total stranger?

I mean, I look like a perfectly respectable person, I take a shower every morning so I’m sure I smelled alright, and I had the obligatory Starbucks mug…and I was offering a brand new Klennex packet!  Brand new!!

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The “Debbie smile” as my dear friend alluded to has been known to create confusion. My former boss had once asked… “why is Debbie smiling that weird smile…there is so much to do!…and she’s smiling??!”. Needless to say, she hated it when I smiled my lunatic smile…as if I’m going to lose my marbles…

Anyway, at this point, I was clucking like a lunatic after Joya reminded me about “the smile”…

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Well…I caught the cold..img_3382

So there you have it, folks!  It all started with an offer of a Kleenex to a complete stranger who was in grave need of one…

So what have I learned from all this?

You probably think that the moral of this blog is never offer a Kleenex since it will just be rejected and forget about being all martyr-like and sticking by your window seat since you are comfy and you got there first…

Nope.

The moral of my story that I got from this is…

I am grateful to have very good and dear friends like Joya who would stick by me even when we have inane and silly text conversations like how an offer of a perfectly good tissue morphed into the flu…and actually remember to check up on me.

She is who I am thankful for.

What are you thankful for?

Happy belated thanksgiving, everyone!

Debbie

Holding on…

img_3106-1I hold grudges.

There.  I admit it. I hold them long and hard and if I had my way, I avoid the person or give them the silent treatment for a really long time…and I pretend they don’t exist anymore.

My mother-in-law called me a name once, a long, long, long time ago. I’m thinking she just didn’t like anyone marrying her son.  She’s fine now (I think) but I haven’t forgotten, nor do I think I ever will.

Someone called me a hypocrite once, this one quite recently. I haven’t forgotten, nor do I think I ever will.

While meditating today, these two grudges came to the fore. Out of nowhere, these thoughts just popped into my head and stayed on just like an unwelcome visitor.

I had been taught that when feeling strong emotions, I shouldn’t turn away from it and instead be curious about it, try to feel any bodily sensations, and try not to control your thoughts but be open to it.

Well, it didn’t go well. I cut my mediation practice short as I was developing a migraine and my whole body had tensed up that I didn’t know what muscle to focus on relaxing first.

What I wanted was to go on a really long run to get away from all the negativity in my head.

Run away. Run far far away.

What I did realize after my meditation practice is that I am not willing to let go of these grudges. I’ve been told that I should really forgive, let go and move on.  How does one do that?  Do I take them out to Starbucks and buy them a latte and say “all good”?

Does remembering being thrown under the bus count as “not letting go”?

I don’t want revenge or anything…I’m thinking karma will do its job.

But in the meantime, better to stay away.  Stay far, far away.

So, I think I will hold on to my grudges for a little while longer, thank you.

…and I think I’m okay with that.

At least I am mindful about it.

Have a good weekend, everyone!
Debbie

4 Money Saving Tips That Blows My Mind…Every time!

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I must have read “The Automatic Millionaire” by David Bach at least two times. He has some pretty good money saving tips like foregoing that “Grande, Non-fat Cinnamon Latte with Soy Milk and a Caramel Drizzle” from Starbucks or having an automatic withdrawal from your bank account directly to your retirement savings plan so you pay yourself first. If you haven’t read it, pick up a copy.  It is worth your while to read it.

Once my family started on the road of saving money, it was hard to stop.  We became mindful of our spending habits and it made us realize that we can save money and in some circumstances, help in our global fight to save the environment.

Here are just 4 money saving tips that just blows me away.

1.  My “Latte” Factor

I love reading.  That is my “latte” factor….books made with real pages, made with real paper that makes a sound when you turn the page, and pages you can write on or highlight with a pen when you come across a “eureka moment”.

Unfortunately, brand new books are expensive.  So, to save money, I got myself a library card.  It’s FREE.  I am lucky that my local library carries books from a whole array of disciplines and new books are ordered regularly.

Unfortunately, you cannot write on the pages.  So, to further save money, I go to the local goodwill store.  In Canada, we have a local non-for profit thrift store called “Value Village”.  They accept donations including gently used clothing, furniture, electronics and previously enjoyed books.  A portion of the sales is donated to a local charity.

A book that is $30 brand new at the bookstore only generally costs me $7.  That is almost 75% off the cover price and it is almost always in mint condition! It also helps that these books are diverted from the landfill and helps our local charity.  Win-win, don’t you agree?

2.  My love affair with credit

Wait, what?  Yeah, you read right.  If you use credit the right way, it actually pays off for you…and not for the bank.

I got my first credit card when I was in university. That was almost 20 years ago. I was given $500 as my spending limit and I thought that was a lot!  Of course, I did not know how to use it properly (perhaps a Credit Card 101 course would have helped). I blew the limit almost immediately and incurred hefty interest charges. For an accounting student, very disappointing indeed. But, on the other hand, having a credit card also allowed me to rent my very own place close to campus.  Fast forward to today–you really cannot live without some form of credit in this day and age but you have to be mindful of what and how you use it.

First of all, make sure you pay the FULL balance on your credit card.  If you miss the payment date even for one day, you have to pay interest for the whole month.  Banks love it when people just pay the minimum $10 and carry the balance forward…you pay more interest which translates to more profits for them.  Feeling cheated, yet?

If you don’t have the money to pay off your credit card , use a line of credit to pay it off. Generally, lines of credit (whether secured or unsecured) would have interest way below the average 20-25% interest rate that credit card companies charge.

It does bring a good question to mind “ARE YOU SPENDING MONEY YOU DO NOT HAVE?”. I’ll give you a moment to think about that.

Another way of using credit to your advantage is if you have a mortgage (which is a good type of credit!) that has an interest rate that is higher than your line of credit rate.  Talk to your banker for options and perhaps you can save a little bit of interest by prepaying your mortgage through your credit line.  While you’re at it, ask your banker to waive any credit card fees, you might get lucky and save $100 annually.

Last but not least, always ask yourself before you whip out your credit card to make that next purchase–“do I have the money to buy this right now?” If not, I would return that pretty little top back in the rack and come back when you can actually afford it.

Yeah, tough love.

3.  Grocery shopping–there’s an app for that!

It is a well known fact that when going to the grocery store, always shop in the outside aisles which are the produce, meat, eggs and dairy sections. Wholesome food, as my husband calls it.  There will always be sales going on for those perishable items.  But of course, sometimes, you do have to venture into the middle aisles for items that are not so perishable.  For example, we have to have detergent, toilet paper, or shampoo.

Most of the grocery stores I go to have a “price match” policy and this is where an app called “Flipp” is awesome at saving money.  Search for what you are looking for, say, Pampers diapers, and it will check all the big stores that have Pampers diapers that are on sale. From there you can compare prices and save! No more clipping coupons–I just show my phone.  It is as simple as that.  As an added bonus, you also help the environment since you wouldn’t need to jump in your car to go to the other store!

4.  My love affair with wine

I must admit, I love winding down with a good glass of wine at the end of the day.  In Canada, a good bottle of wine is not cheap.  A good bottle of Italian wine, say an Amarone, a lovely Italian red wine, would fetch about an average of $40-$50 per bottle.  That is a pretty steep price to pay for something that will be gone in an hour if paired with a good friend and a bowlful of chips on a Friday night.

So, this tip is going to be a shocker.  You can get a good bottle of Amarone wine for $8.  The drawback is that you have to buy a batch (30 bottles–although, it makes for great Christmas presents!) and you have to wait to age it.  It’s called “craft winemaking”.  I found a great winemaking place close to my house and is run by two ladies who definitely know their wine.  So, with a little patience, I am supporting a local business while enjoying inexpensive but very good wine. I also get to reuse old wine bottles when bottling! Win-win!

Oh, and for an Amarone, I would suggest you age it for six months at the very least before you pop it open…

Do you have other tips that save you money and good for the environment?  If so, let me know!

Debbie.

 

 

 

 

The “I Wish” Game of a monkey mind…

I played that dangerous game all last week…

It all started on Tuesday morning and  was trying to snuggle deeper into the duvet covers since winter has finally arrived.  I did not want to get up and even as my toes braved the cold outside of my cover’s protective shield, I immediately pulled them back in the comfort of my warm and toasty cocoon.

I whispered to myself, “Self, don’t you sometimes wish that you can sleep in a little while longer and not worry about catching the train to work…?”

“….or even going to work?”

“Could you imagine if I won the lottery and l don’t have to worry about money and work and….I could go on these lavish vacations in some sunny exotic locales…..where I could sample local cuisine….and not worry about getting fat…”

I think I could have gone on and on and on….

…and I missed the train and was late for work.

That was Tuesday…

Then, I think around the time Thursday came around, I was in a meeting with all these smart talented people talking about some issue…and a random thought popped up…

“Wow, they really know their stuff…don’t I wish sometimes that I could sound half as intelligent and confident in front of a conference full of people and not bat an eyelash when someone asks a really complicated question that I’m sure no one really thought of before and…Wait, I’m great too so let’s forget about that wish….I wonder what they do for fun or if they have time to go for a run maybe or maybe just goof around…I wonder when this meeting is going to end since I am so tired and I still have to do the laundry when I get home…wait, is it Wednesday already…no, it’s Thursday…”

I think I could have gone on and on and on…..

….and I missed the next topic of discussion.

It’s a new week and I am still playing it.

Yesterday, I had a coffee with a very good friend of mine and she was talking about her plans for the future. She sounds so confident and so sure about what she wants to do and another random thought popped up…

“Wow!  She really knows what she wants to do…I wish I knew what I want to do in a few years….what do I really want to do? How the hell do I know…I can’t even decide what coffee I wanted …or was it tea?  What am I drinking anyway?  Didn’t I want a hot chocolate? Dang, this tastes like crap…not getting this beverage again…”

…and I could have gone on and on…

…and I think I missed new gossip about how someone did something idiotic….

I realize that really what starts as a wishing game (“I wish I bought vanilla ice cream, I wish can retire now, I wish Hillary won…”) morphs to a totally unrelated topic that sometimes I don’t even remember what started the whole train of thought.

This is what my first mindfulness teacher calls my “monkey mind”…it jumps from one topic to another and before you know it, you are in a trance and people look at you funny…

Anyway, I am thinking that I am not the only one who goes through this…I certainly hope not.

At any rate…

…” I wish I could have a nap right about now since I had a super late night last night… it’s probably that coffee I had…shouldn’t have coffee too late in the day since it keeps me up…maybe I should try decaf instead…maybe organic decaf…I wonder how organic coffee tastes like…does Starbucks sell organic coffee?  Forget Starbucks, my former boss drinks it, I wouldn’t want to run into her, she hates me…”

Hahhaha!

Have a good rest of the week, everyone!

Debbie.